How to Use an Autoresponder Series to Leverage Your Time More Effectively

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mailing list puzzleThe dilemma: You need to keep content going into your customer’s inbox on a regular basis, but your time is limited. You can’t always be in your office at the moment you need to send information.  You’re afraid your list will go cold and you won’t get them back.

The solution: The Autoresponder Series.

An autoresponder series is a group of emails sent in a particular sequence to people who signed up to receive them. You use the email newsletter software you likely already have such as Aweber to accomplish this. The software allows you to set up, in advance, an entire series of emails to be sent upon certain triggering factors to those who sign up for your information or purchase products from you. (Note: Please read your country’s laws about SPAM.)

  • Saves Time — Using an autoresponder series will save time by allowing you, or your VA to load up a series of messages in bulk, to go out on certain dates based on you and your audience’s preferences. For instance, you might have a short 7 day eCourse loaded into the autoresponder for your audience members who sign up for either a paid or free eCourse that you are offering. 
  • Automatic — Once you load up the information, you don’t have to do anything else. It’s all done automatically. Your audience will receive the emails, which should also contain various calls to action that links them to sales pages, affiliate information or a blog post with more information right on your website. Setting this up in advance will save you time because once you set it up, you can forget it and let it run without any action from you. 
  • Warms Up Your List – By keeping your list active with one or more autoresponder series, you will keep your list warm and waiting for your other offers. Otherwise, you will have to always reawaken your audience to tell them about the next thing you are promoting. Now, when you send a one-off broadcast or more current email to them they won’t be surprised, and it will be like they’re expecting you. Keeping your audience warm will cause your conversion rates to go up.  

An autoresponder series can be as short as a few days to an entire year of messages. It just depends on what your goals are. You can add new autoresponders anytime you want to any list. You can set them up to go out every day, every 3 days, or every Wednesday. It’s up to you.

Now that you know why you need to have an autoresponder series for every email list that you own, you need to know what to include.

  • High Quality Targeted Content – Don’t skimp on your email autoresponder series content. You want the content to be really good so that your audience thinks to themselves, “If this is what I get free, imagine what I’ll get when I pay.” 
  • Interactive & Engaging Content – Nothing will feel more current than content that is interactive such as linking them to a questionnaire, poll or forum. Your audience will feel more connected to you which helps build a trusting relationship. 
  • A Current Call to Action – Calls to action are important, and if they’re old and outdated your audience will not trust you. They will stop reading your emails, and they’ll stop interacting with and connecting with you. 

Now you may be wondering how you can create current calls to action when you’re sending out an autoresponder series to one audience member today, that you sent out to another a year ago.  But, there is a way. It’s called technology.

My favorite is the Limited Time Offers Plugin. This plugin is so simple, yet has amazing potential. But, the Aweber software also offers some unique features that you can use to update existing autoresponder series with new CTAs anytime you want to with their Personalize Your List Option using Global Text Snippets.

As you can see using an autoresponder series has the potential to save a lot of time and effort when building your list, and converting those who sign up for your list. Don’t start inviting people to your list until you have at least a short autoresponder series ready so that you don’t waste one more second building a list without direction.

How to Leverage the Time of Others

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making time for funOften starting a small business means giving up a lot of personal time in order to see your dreams realized. But, at some point in your business you’ll realize that you’ll need to learn to leverage the time of others in order to get back more time for yourself so that you can do more things that you love.

Outsourcing

The fact is, if something is not your specialty – the thing that makes you the money, your bread and butter — you should consider outsourcing it. When you let other people work within their efficiencies, so that you can work with in yours, you’ll almost always increase your income over and above whatever it costs you to hire someone to do the “thing” – whatever it may be. Understand that people you outsource to, unless you hire them as employees, are business owners and should be treated as such.

JV Partnering

What to immediately double or triple your reach? Combine forces with other people, even your competition. By aligning yourself temporarily or long-term with people who sell to your target audience, complementary goods and services, you can both see an immediate increase in income, reach, and perceived expertise. A well defined contract for each joint venture is an essential element to ensure success.

Internship Programs

This idea is a little trickier, and you need to check the laws of your state regarding internships. But, in most cases you can offer internships to people who will do work for you in exchange for real training. As long as you are very clear about expectations, pay, benefits and the potential for future employment if any exists, it should work out well for all involved. Do ensure that contracts are signed to protect both you and the intern.

Leveraging the time of others does not mean you’re using anyone. Typically, all three of the choices above offer benefits to both parties such as earning income, sharing resources, and getting an education.

But, none of these things can work without also practicing: 

Organization, Planning & Systematization

Before involving yourself with too much outsourcing, JV partnerships or internships ensure that you’ve set up a good organization system. As a contractor and virtual assistant myself, nothing is worse than feeling as if you’ve landed a promising new client, then finding out that they actually have no idea what they want from you, and no intentions of listening to your ideas.

If you need help creating systems, the help is out there, if you take it – usually in the form of an experienced virtual assistant or online business manager. Find the experts you need to assist you. No one can do everything themselves, nor should they.

Effective Delegation

When you work with other people, let go. When you hire an expert in social media marketing, for instance, let them do their job. All you need to concern yourself with are the results (deliverables). Don’t micromanage their time, or insist they work outside of their scope.

Instead, choose true experts to work with and let them lead the way.  Notice that I said experts with an S. There is no one person who can do everything for you. There are some online business managers who have their own teams, but typically you’ll need to outsource to more than one person at a time.

If you are starting with a general VA who does a variety of tasks, be sure to assign tasks on a regular basis with realistic deadlines. If you don’t assign something with a deadline, it probably won’t get done.

Purposeful Empowerment

A great example of empowerment is in the book The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris where he discusses his vitamin company. He outsourced his customer service and at first it was difficult. But, when he learned to trust that they knew what they were doing, and let them solve problems with customers under a specific dollar amount without involving him, he saw an increase in sales and customer satisfaction as well as fulfillment and pride among his team.

Levering the time of others can, when done right, put you on the fast track to working your business, vs. working in your business. When you started your online business you wanted more than on online job, you wanted freedom, and the surest way to get there is to leverage the time of other people so that you can find more time to do the things that matter most to you.

10 Time-Saving Tools for Busy Online Entrepreneurs

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busy entrepreneurAlmost every business owner has the same specific parts of a business to manage. It can be a lot to do for one person.

Therefore, it’s imperative that a busy online entrepreneur seeks out time-saving tools of the trade. A very small business can appear on the outside to be a very well organized large business with multiple moving parts with the right tools.

I’ve organized my 10 favorite time saving tools into what I see as the main “departments” a small business will need to cover in order to realize success. Now, of course, it’s true that it’s likely mostly you and a few contractors who are doing all the work, but it’s on you to ensure that everything runs smoothly. With these tools you can ensure that they do.

Management & Organization

Keeping your business organized and managing a team is an important aspect of building your online business so that it works, functions and earns like a much larger entity.

  • Basecamp.com — My favorite tool for business management and organization is Basecamp. I honestly cannot give it enough praise. Basecamp is an online, cloud-based project and task management system and so much more.

You can set up accounts for your clients, as well as for your contractors to all work together in harmony and organization. They have great tutorials and its user friendly and intuitive. It also integrates with other tools you may be familiar with through their API to extend the usefulness of the basic program.

  • Dropbox.com – I love using Dropbox.com to organize my client’s orders and I use it as a backup. Years ago, on April 27, 2011 we had terrible tornado outbreaks in my area. I lost power for several days and my external drive was destroyed. Unfortunately, I did not have Dropbox or any other cloud-based back up or file storing system set up yet. Lesson learned.

If you don’t have something like this, get something now. There are other options but these are the ones I like.

Accounting & Bookkeeping

Not much is more important in your business than keeping track of your cash flow. You should know how much you are making at any point in time. You should be able to create a report on the fly, if needed, to show your profit & loss, income and expenses easily. In addition, you should be able to, at a glance, see how much money you have coming in soon, and what already came in.

  • GoDaddy Bookkeeping — My favorite tool for automated, online bookkeeping is GoDaddy Bookkeeping. That may surprise some of you because you know I am not especially fond of Go Daddy. But, Go Daddy Bookkeeping started as Outright.org and was purchased by Go Daddy. I love it because it is super simple and automated. The paid version keeps track of contractors, taxes, and it even offers some invoicing options, although for that I prefer my next option.
  • Freshbooks.com – This is an excellent online invoicing tool that also allows you to do some rudimentary project planning, bidding, time tracking, as well as budget minding for your clients. Even though I have other options I still like to use Freshbooks.com for billing all my clients over any other program. It integrates with Go Daddy Bookkeeping too. I can easily see who paid me, when, how fast they typically pay bills and even set an automatic late fee structure. Clients can have their own sign in as well for each of these options.

Marketing & Advertising

Where to start with marketing and advertising? There are so many great tools that can help you with this aspect of your business. I’ll just list my top choices and you can pick from there.

  • Aweber.com – This is, in my opinion one of the best autoresponder services for small business owners that exists. I’ve tried others that are easier to use, but that offer fewer features for more money. I believe the value is good, and that for the most part Aweber does what I need it to do in a user friendly way that I understand.
  • Hootsuite.com – This is a social media dashboard that lets you manage multiple social media accounts. While I frown upon too much automation, the ease at which you can use Hootsuite to both schedule and use your social media live is unmet. It helps you watch your social media accounts easier, as well as plan campaigns and gather the reports you need.
  • Canva.com – This is a great free and low cost way to create many different types of graphics for all your online marketing needs. Many of the layouts are free, with images for as low as a buck each; this easy to use tool can’t be beat.

Innovation & Production

In order to be successful running a small business you have to always be creating something new and getting it out there. You already use WordPress, so I’ll avoid the obvious and move on past that.

  • LeadPages – This software is so easy to use and works with or without WordPress to create dynamic, converting landing pages within minutes. LeadPages also comes with all the bells and whistles with split testing, social media integration, potential to make digital downloads easier, and more.

This tool is probably one of the most important tools you can invest in, in terms of improving production in your business.

Sales

Sales are an essential component of an online business. You will either make sales selling your own products, or someone else’s. You don’t need a shopping cart if you aren’t going to sell your own products.

I use Freshbooks.com to bill my clients, and for the few products I currently have I use eJunkie.com to act, along with Paypal.com as my shopping cart. I will be implementing aMember.com soon, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • The one to go with depends on your needs, but most of the people I work with use either Amember.com or 1Shoppingcart.com. Something I’m seeing more often is ONTRAPORT.com. Essentially, you have to look at what you will be using the service for, and what your expertise is, and whether or not you can afford to hire someone to set things up or not.

While I am usually technically savvy, I don’t enjoy shopping carts at all, so I will be using an expert to help me.

Customer Care

When you first start your online business you can typically get by with using a contact form, and regular email to deal with customer care issues. However, as time goes by you’ll likely need to invest in a ticketing system.

  • Basecamp.com works fine when you work directly with clients, as does email, but if you sell products you will want a help desk of some sort like ZenDesk.com. You might even want to completely outsource customer care once you sell more than a couple of products.

The questions to ask about about any product or tool that you want to use for your business is, will it serve the purpose that you need it to serve, and is it an accepted tool by your audience? Will your audience trust it enough to use it? If so, you can use any and all of these tools to save a lot of time running your online business.

8 Easy Ways to Get Content on Your Site When You’re Too Busy Having Fun This Summer

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summer funAh summertime.

Long hot days out by the pool, the beach or the lake, reading a good book on your Kindle, kids playing and having fun, no worries about time. It feels great not to worry about alarm clocks, being a glorified taxi cab driver, or worries about normal life. That’s summer, right? (Sound of breaks squealing)

But, wait, you have a business to run that relies on you to get regular content on your site no matter what. If you don’t do it, the traffic will fall, your income will drop, and you won’t be lounging around by the pool any longer. Instead, you’ll be wondering if this work at home thing is even workable and start job hunting (More squealing breaks).

Thankfully, there is a way that you can have the first example of summer life. You can have fun and keep your website full of interesting, informative and fabulous traffic generating content. You don’t have to go find a J.O.B. (thank goodness). But, balancing all that summer fun does take a little work. Even if you’re just now thinking about it, it’s not too late. You can get great content on your site any time of year using these eight ideas.

Prepare in Advance

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? It’s never too late; you still have summer left to get yourself in gear and prepared for the rest of summer. Heck you can even stretch summer into fall if you play your cards right.

  • Create an Editorial Calendar – It’s very simple if you use a good editorial calendar plugin for your WordPress, or simply an old fashioned spreadsheet. Write down everything you want to write about and talk about in advance. 
  • Choose Topics 3 Months Out — Just plan in advance the subject matter, the products you want to promote, and your calls to action. Three months is a good starting point, but you can do four if you prefer. 
  • Write & Schedule Posts in Advance – Before summer starts, write (or have written) all the content you want to schedule for summertime. Write, edit, schedule and go shopping for a new swimsuit. Everything else is simply automatic. 

Advance preparation is the key to most of the success you’ll experience during the summer or any holiday. In fact, preparing in advance for all seasons is the biggest key factor in having a successful, money making website.

Recruit Guest Bloggers

Getting guest bloggers is a great way to keep the content going while you take time off, or slow down. You probably have a circle of friends in mastermind groups, or those with whom you cross promote. Finding and choosing guest bloggers is almost as simple as asking.

  • Offer to Pay Them – If you know someone who writes elsewhere and you like their writing, offer to pay them a reasonable amount for a specific number of posts, about your specific topics, and allow them to keep their byline. Most bloggers will jump at a chance like that, especially if your audience relates to theirs. 
  • Give Them Their Own Logon – If you ask them to post, trust them to do so by giving them the keys to your blog as an Author. They can fill out their own bio, post on their own and your editor can review (or you can review and post too). 
  • Ask Them to Keep it Original – Huge tip here, don’t let guest bloggers post the same blog post elsewhere. Their post needs to be unique to your blog, forever. If you let them post it someplace else, it will go down in value to you and to them. 

Include an automatic call to action (CTA) at the end of each guest blog post for something related to the topic.

Hire a Ghostwriter

A really tried and true way to get content on your blog while you’re having fun this summer is to pay someone to do it for you. The best way to do this is to ask around among the people you know who is a good ghostwriter. You want someone you can trust who will be on time and doesn’t need a sitter or reminders. Alice and Annette’s team can help you out here.

Like the guest blogger, you want to ideally give them the keys, or have them send their writing to your virtual assistant to edit, format and schedule. This takes work off you, and puts your blog on autopilot.

Compile Oldies but Goodies

Before summer starts, go through all your posts from the year and compile a list of popular blog posts, case studies, and so forth that would be great for another look by your audience. Double check to see if any updates are needed on the older blog posts, sometimes new information comes to light that makes things different.

You can create more than one set of oldies but goodies. You can do one for case studies, one for blogs that have been updated, and so forth. It’s up to you, but do create a small intro for each link to the blog posts you want your audience to revisit. Schedule and add the announcement to your autoresponder. Don’t forget revised calls to action, where needed.

Curate Other People’s Content

Take a look around at what other people are writing about, and where relevant, point your audience to that content. You always want to create a blurb about the content, then introduce the content, then link to the content. Don’t just link without a purpose and try to find bloggers to link to who offer complementary services to yours who are not direct competition. If they have affiliate programs, that’s even better.

Interview Someone

Create a form using Google Docs, or another form creator that you like using, write up questions for a specific group that your audience would like to know more about. Some ideas for interview subjects are the same people you would ask to guest blog, creators of content you’d like to curate, or other movers and shakers within your niche.

Email them a nice personal letter, with a link to your form. Have your VA collect, format and compile the information into separate blog posts for each person interviewed. It will depend on how many you ask, how far this technique will go. But, this is also a good time to ask them for a separate guest blog post about a particular topic as mentioned above.

Do Quick Video Blogs

Your readers would love to know what you’re doing this summer. Even if it’s not directly related to your blog, people love doing business with people they feel close to. Selectively share a little bit about yourself and what you’re up to this summer in a quick video blog. A video blog doesn’t have to be perfect to get results.

  • Let Your VA Do It – Take the video then immediately send it over to your VA and let her schedule it, write the blurb about it, and include appropriate links to your CTA. 
  • Ask Your Customers to Create Videos – Summer is a great time to have a contest, have all videos sent directly to your VA to look through and schedule the best ones with a transcript, picture of the customer, and CTA. 

Don’t allow perfection to stop you from producing videos. You can even use your iPhone 5 to produce excellent videos for your blog, no fancy equipment needed.

Ask Your Readers to Contribute

No matter what kind of website you have, you can let your audience contribute content. Content can be in multiple forms, like the videos mentioned above, memes, info-graphics or blog posts. Offer discounts to anyone who submits a blog post, and a grand prize to winning posts that get published.

Don’t forget to use your VA to help you organize, plan and implement these ideas. You should not have to do much to get your blog full of content for the summer. If you play your cards right, you’ll actually increase your income during the summer while also cutting your work time exponentially.

Give Your Readers What They Want - WITHOUT All The Hard Work - Pre-made fully-illustrated step-by-step tutorials make it easy to sell your products, build your list and grow your business. Click here to learn more.

This is WHY: Exposure and Profits – Toronto – May 2014

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Exposure and Profit Panel Discussion

Well, that was a great weekend. It was so great, I didn’t want it to end and that’s probably the reason I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning yesterday when I had to be at the airport by 6. It was a tough morning, but I got plenty of sleep on the plane and then when I got back home. Now, I’m all refreshed and ready to get back at doing amazing things in my business.

While I don’t attend as many conferences as I used to (I prefer to focus on DOING over hopping from event to event), I still know how important it is to make these important connections, brush up on my knowledge and gather new ideas. So when I used my time, energy and funds to get to Kelly’s Exposure and Profit event…I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Kelly was paying attention to all the little details to ensure that this was an amazing event all around.

I could probably go on and on about everything, but I’m going to keep this at just three key takeaways I got from the weekend.

#1: Accommodate Your Audience to Be Awesome!

I mentioned that Kelly paid lots of attention to little details and that’s no exaggeration. She did have a great event planner, Margaret Binns, but it was those details beyond seating, timing, equipment and food (ohh…the food was amazing) that I’m talking about.

Kelly promised this to be an “introvert-friendly” event and she wasn’t kidding. She encouraged all participants to speak up and share their great message, but she did in the safest environment as possible. For example, she asked participants to share a 90 second introduction about themselves. They were asked to come up to the microphone to do it, but if they weren’t comfortable with that, she would read the introduction for them. But what was so wonderful that even if they didn’t want to read their own, they willingly came up on the stage beside Kelly while she read their introduction.

Slowly, but surely, people were becoming braver because of the safe environment that Kelly created.

The whole event ran like this. There were opportunities to stretch our wings, but if we needed to step back we could…but because it was so safe, most people chose to stretch. Heck, this even includes me. This was my first real conference speaking engagement, but I was pretty darned nervous about it. Kelly asked what I needed to make it easier and they even rearranged the whole stage area, so I could feel as comfortable as possible. First, I wanted a stool. Then, I said I wasn’t sure. Then I asked them to move the podium and they did everything I needed to calm my worried self.

Kelly asked us to leave a note about how we felt about the event and this is what I told her:

Alice Seba LOVES Exposure and Profit

This makes me think about how we can do the same with our audiences. There’s always something that will hold people back from achieving what they want to achieve and how can we, as their guides, make it safe for them to do so?

#2: Stories Are Amazing Marketing Tools

I think many of this know this on some level, but we don’t always take the time to connect the personal with our business. We may share personal stories and anecdotes, but we don’t always take the time to connect those to key learning points for our audiences.

Some of the most powerful stories from the weekend came from Darrel Eves. He shared a lot of stories, but the most powerful of which was one about the fundraiser he created for his brother who needed a kidney replacement where they raised over $250,000. I am pretty sure there were few dry eyes when he was done, but not only because it was a great story, but because it showed the power of YouTube and how we can make an incredible difference in the world with our own marketing skills. He connected his story with the greater message of his business and that’s how to use the power of storytelling.

Make your stories make a difference.

Derral Eves, Speaking at Exposure and Profit

I also told a story about my son that had some meaning for the audience members, but I’m going to save that for in a couple of days. I’ll make a post about it soon.

And before we move onto the next takeaway, we just (totally coincidentally…Mel planned it a while back) released a PLR package about Marketing with Stories. If you think your readers could benefit from it, go check it out.

Now moving along, let’s ask…

#3: What Would Awesome You Do?

Nicole Dean - Be Your Awesome!In another message that was shared through a great story, Nicole Dean encouraged us to be the most awesome version of ourselves possible. She told the true story of a man who had lost a lot of weight, saved his marriage and grew his business exponentially in the short amount of time because he would simply ask himself:

“What would the awesome me do?”

…each time he had to make a decision to do something in the day. Little by little, if you do the things awesome you would do, your life becomes awesome all at the same time.

So, keep this in mind, as you work and do all the other things in your life.

What Would Awesome You Do?

 And speaking of being awesome and connecting with others, our Competitors into Profits students know this. Don’t hide out anymore and try to do this online business thing all by yourself. It’s just so much darned work and it stifles your awesome.

Thank you so much to Kelly and her staff for putting together such a wonderful event. Thank you to the speakers and all the attendees for sharing such great information and for being an inspiration to do even better in the future.

 

BlogCPR.com

Email Marketing Segmentation Using Your Autoresponder

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Email SegmentationMarket segmentation is an important aspect of email marketing that you cannot afford to skip over. Segmentation is simply the process of identifying specific and meaningful groups of customers that you can target with specific messages, products and / or services in a way that resonates with them.

Why You Need to Segment

Segmenting your email list, no matter how small, is an important step toward boosting customer loyalty, increasing purchasing and it will help spark your creativity in terms of creating new products and services for your customers.

  • Boost Customer Loyalty
  • Increase Purchasing
  • Spark Creativity 

You can introduce some very simple segmentation into your email marketing using your autoresponder’s segmentation features. Most autoresponders offer some sort of segmenting features. If it doesn’t, then you need to switch services because segmentation is an important tool to use that will make all your marketing efforts exponentially more effective.

If you’re still not sure about segmenting, read this post by Alice that shows how a mailing to a segmented list of 98 people beat a larger list of over 5200 subscribers.

How to Segment

First, decide how you want to segment your list members. A great way to start with segmenting is to segment based on behavior. Separating those who have purchased a specific item from those who have not is a good first step.

You can even segment subscribers from the beginning of their subscription by putting different sign up forms on each landing page they use to sign up for your email list. Aweber makes it a simple and straight forward process and these are the segmenting features available. Other autoresponders will likely have similar options.

  • Segmenting with Forms – You can include segmentation criteria right on a sign up form. Male from female, income levels, topics of interest and more. You can do this by adding questions that a subscriber clicks, and you can also do it by putting a different sign up form on different landing pages. 
  • Behavioral Segmenting — You can segment based on who clicks various links in your email messages. You can do it via a link inside a normal message, or you can set up a poll specifically designed to assign people to various lists based on their answers. You can incentivize clicks by offering coupons, free downloads, letting subscribers choose their sales and more. 
  • Surveys & Poll Segmentation — You can send buyers, subscribers, and list members surveys and polls that segment them based on their answers or in the case of some, their lack of answers. This is a great way to segment list members after they’ve signed up. 
  • Give Members Self Segmenting Options — With Aweber you can actually include self-segmenting options in specific messages such as a rating scale so that your readers can rate your messages, products and services, thus adding them to a specific segment of your list. 

Each of these ideas works by providing a special link to your subscribers that takes them to a hidden page on your website once they click it. Then by clicking it they also, due to the code involved, automatically get added to the specific list based on the segmentation criteria. Once it’s set up, inside your autoresponder service, it runs itself and is pretty hands off.

Segmenting customers from prospects is a good starting point into email marketing segmentation. When you do that, you’ll be able to better personalize and target your email marketing messages to make a bigger impact on their future behavior and increase sales exponentially.

How to Develop Successful Email Marketing Habits

A big part of email marketing success, comes from making it a regular habit. The more you work on growing and nurturing your list, the better your results. To ensure you develop those great habits, be sure to join Alice for the 30-Day Email Marketing Challenge. She’ll whip you into shape in no time.

18 Things to Send Your Mailing List

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What to send your email listIf you’ve ever wondered what to send your email list, wonder no longer. Just keep this list of 18 ideas handy to use over and over again.

1. Weekly Roundups: Let your email list know what’s happening on your blog and in your business. You can even share content from other sites as well.

2. How to Content: Share instructional content with your subscribers and add value. Show them how to do something that easily lends to promoting another product, whether it’s through an affiliate link or one of your own products.

3. Educational Content: Consider sending an educational series that connects weekly messages and tackles a topic more in-depth. Keep the momentum going over a period of time to fully educate your subscribers.

4. Checklists: Help guide people through tasks with checklists they can print and re-use. This is high-value brandable content they’ll refer to over and over again.

5. Worksheets and Quizzes: Allow subscribers to work through problems and challenges by asking tough questions and providing potential solutions. Whenever you can help your subscribers accomplish something, you boost your reputation with them.

6. Product Reviews and Comparisons: Help consumers make the best product choice for their needs. Your subscribers will thank you when you help them make the best buying decision possible. And of course, don’t forget to include your affiliate link.

7. Share Relevant Industry Facts and Statistics: Compelling statistics can be used to motivate action and conversions. They’re great for sales page, but emails and other content as well.

8. Frequently Asked Questions: Share answers to the questions you receive most often. Ask your subscribers to submit questions, so they feel a deeper connection and you can help them with what they really need.

9. Industry News Commentary: Discuss your thoughts and feelings about industry news, changes, events, and controversies. Use your email messages as a tool to spark conversations. Staying educated about what’s happening your industry is a good thing all around.

10. Coupons and Special Promotions: Deliver coupons to your audience or share exclusive or limited time promotions. Share them for your own products or ask a vendor to extend a special offer to your list.

11. Make Announcements: Are you launching a product, hosting or attending an event, or making changes to your business? Use email to keep your prospects and customers aware and engaged. It’s the best way to reach them directly.

12. Contests and Sweepstakes: Launch contests and sweepstakes through yoru email list and get more people involved and excited about your business. People love free stuff and they even love to spread the word about free stuff, so you can grow your traffic.

13. Share Useful Tips on Relevant Topics: Tips are amongst the most popular types of online content. When you keep your emails simple and to the point, your readers are more likely to take action.

14. Videos: If you have a video channel, share links to your video or embed the video in the body of your email message. If you don’t have any video to share, find some great ones your subscribers would be interested in.

15. Webinars and Live Events: If you host live events you can use your email marketing to not only market the event but to also share links to the recordings and/or transcripts. You can also share snippets or quotes from the event to provide value and market the event.

16. Interviews: Interview industry experts and share all or a portion of the in1terview in your email message. This is a great way to deliver useful content and to build relationships with players in your niche.

17. Challenges: Challenge your subscribers to achieve something within your niche and to share their results. For example, an organization expert might challenge subscribers to share their biggest organization problem and how they solved it. Or challenge them to share their messiest closet. It’s a great way to get subscribers involved.

18. Images: There are a number of different ways to approach sharing images in your email marketing. You can share:

• Photos
• Cartoons
• Memes
• Pins from your Pinterest account.
• Infographics

Get your subscribers involved in the image sharing too. Ask them for photos using your product or other images they want to share.

The easiest way to keep delivering great content is to plan your content in advance, but as busy entrepreneurs, we know it doesn’t always work out that way. That’s why this list will provide you with ideas to use in a pinch…or while you’re doing your topic planning.

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Swipe Files: Why You Need Them & How To Create Them

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Ideas ConceptKeeping a swipe file is an important part of always being ready for the creative process of creating content for your website or blog.

Essentially, a swipe file is just a collection of ideas that have been shown to work to provide inspiration, improve writing skills, and increase overall productivity. To create a swipe file simply identify and find material that is working and save it to a file to refer to later.

Swipe files have been used as long as marketing has been in existence. Copywriters, marketers and advertisers kept a box of paper files, usually copies of ad copy, sales pages, headlines, interesting ad pictorials, bullet points and so forth, that they used as inspiration as they sought to create better marketing materials for their clients and themselves.

Today, it’s easier with the advent of digital files. Now you can keep all your swipe files organized digitally on your computer. If you use the right technology your swipe files can be accessed from any location as long as you have access to a computer and the Internet. This will make your creative process move faster to a finished and polished product.

The Benefits of Keeping Swipe Files

Keeping swipe files should become as natural to you as breathing. If you want to be able to create persuasive marketing copy that gets results, the best way to do it is to study what other people have done, as well as keep handy successful attempts of your own.

  • Easy Access — You can use your smart phone to take pictures of ideas and inspiration you see wherever you are. Like the layout of a billboard advertisement? Snap a picture, and save it for use later. 
  • Instant Inspiration — When you look at the swipe files you will generate new ideas for your own subject lines, sales pages, viral videos and more. Looking at successful copy, sales pages, and so forth will provide a great starting point for your own original work. 
  • End of Writer’s Block – If you have created a never ending list of potential starting points, you will never have writer’s block. You’ll be able to churn out headlines, sales pages and more easily due to tapping into and leveraging experienced copywriter’s work. 

Swipe files are an easy way to keep examples of effective work, your own or others. Having them at your fingertips will keep you from ever lacking inspiration or having writer’s block.

What to Collect  & Add to Your Swipe Files

You should spend time collecting swipe files for anything that you plan to create in the future. But, you can just focus on one or two. Ask yourself where you normally get stuck when creating advertising or web copy and start saving files regarding that one area. For example, if you get stuck on creating effective subject lines, start collecting subject lines that stand out to you.

  • Ad Copy
  • Sales Letters
  • YouTube.com Videos
  • Calls-to-Action
  • Promos
  • Headlines
  • Sub-headlines
  • Subject Lines
  • Bullet Points
  • Graphics
  • Opt-in Forms
  • Tweets
  • Facebook Messages
  • Postcards
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Bylines
  • Post Scripts
  • Closings
  • Power Words & Phrases 

Collecting great examples of any of the above will help get your creative juices flowing and give you a place to look anytime you need inspiration. Here is a collection of Swipe Files to get you started.

Saving & Organizing Swipe Files is Simple

You can use different software programs to create and keep swipe files such as Evernote and Dropbox. There are also other programs you can use such as Simplenote and Google Docs. What you use depends highly on your own preferences for each tool. If you don’t currently use any of them, I recommend trying Simplenote as it’s really easy to use.

Organize your swipe files by category, for example save all subject line swipe files in a folder called Subject Lines. You can even further separate them by being specific about what type of subject lines they are such as “Email Subject Lines“.  The more organized you keep your swipe files the easier it will be to get inspiration from them later.

Using Your Swipe Files

There is a lot more to using a swipe file than lifting the words and phrases from them to use in your own marketing. In fact, using swipe files wrong can cause problems for you and make it impossible to have a successful promotion. Swipe files should be used for inspiration but you always have to keep in mind, your market, why you’re using particular words over others, and how they affect your audience.

Remember to always hook your reader in, define the problem, solve the problems, overcome objections, promise results, show proof, reduce risk, and build your credibility while closing the sale (or other call to action) using the words that mean something to your audience. Swipe files are only as good as your understanding of your audience. So, as you use them, don’t forget who you’re doing it for and the benefits you can offer them.

As you test out new subject lines, promo copy, sales pages and so forth, keep adding ideas that work to your swipe file collection.

How to Develop Successful Email Marketing Habits

A big part of email marketing success, comes from making it a regular habit. The more you work on growing and nurturing your list, the better your results. To ensure you develop those great habits, be sure to join Alice for the 30-Day Email Marketing Challenge. She’ll whip you into shape in no time.

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Don’t Want to Write Your Newsletter?
Here’s How to Get Away with It

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Outsource your emailAs a business owner, there are so many things you have to take care of, so it’s not always easy to get to everything. If you’ve been putting off your email marketing because you never seem to get around with it, you can stop that right now. We’ve got tips to help you effectively outsource your newsletter writing.

Identify Your Topics and Goals for Your Content

What do you want the content in your newsletter to achieve? For example, do you want to send traffic to a sales page? Do you want to boost your Facebook page or promote a new contest? Let your ghostwriter know what you want to achieve. It helps them write for your goals.

What Type of Content Do You Want to Writer?

In addition to sending the topics you’d like your ghostwriter to write on, let them know the type of content that you prefer or feel best fits the topic. For example, you might ask them to write a “how to” type article or a product comparison.

Assign the Content Well in Advance of When You Need It

Work with your writer to create a schedule that fits your needs and theirs. For example, you might assign November’s content in October so you have your content ready to upload into your autoresponder at the beginning of the month.

Planning ahead also ensures you bring forth the best content for your subscribers possible and makes it easier for you to include effective product promotions to go with that content.

Provide As Much Information As Possible

In addition to sharing the goals for each newsletter article also let your writer know:

  • What keywords and keyword phrases you want to use, if any. If you publish your newsletter content online then keywords can help improve SEO. If you have specific requests regarding the placement of keywords, for example in the title or the first paragraph, let your ghostwriter know.
  • What you want the message to sound like. Share your brand message and voice. For example, are you friendly and informative, controversial, or authoritative? Include a description of your brand image and message along with a few links to content that accurately conveys your voice.
  • Are there any links you want included in the message? You can always add links later after the content is written. However, sometimes the flow of the article can be improved when the writer inserts the hyperlinks in relevant and appropriate places.
  • How do you want it formatted? For example, does your audience prefer lists? Do they respond to bullet points and content with numbers or steps?

Obviously, it’s a great thing when you can get someone else do quality work for you and free up your schedule in the process. But another benefit we don’t always notice right away is that working with a writer ensures we are organized and proactive in moving our businesses forward. When there is a writer waiting for our instructions, it forces us to stay on top of things and our business has no chance but to grow.

If we can help you with your email writing at all, we’d be delighted to help. You can check out our email writing services here.

Now, let’s get emailing!

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How Do I Get More Subscribers on My List?

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If you know the power of the mailing list (and I hope you do), you’re probably always trying to get more people on yours. Of course, you want targeted subscribers, not just numbers.

Here are a 8 must-do ways to grow your targeted subscriber list:

1. Have a Great Offer: It’s not enough to say, “We have a newsletter…join!” You have to give them a compelling reason to subscribe. You can give them a free gift like a report, software or tool. Or if you’re mailing list has some other attractive perk, include that in your offer.

2. Change Your Offer Accordingly: Sometimes the same freebie or perk doesn’t work in all instances. Change it up to fit the appropriate situation. Just like with any advertising you do, always make your offer as targeted to the audience as possible.

3. Have Multiple Lists: Not only should the freebie or perk should be targeted, so should the email you send to the list. Target your list to the specific audience. This doesn’t mean you need 30 lists, but where it makes sense, do it. For example, if you’re in the women’s health market, you may have lists for healthy eating, exercise, etc.

4. Opt-In Form on Every Page: It’s email marketing 101, but a good reminder to have your opt-in offer on the top fold of each content page. If it’s a sales page, you may not want the distraction, but for your blog, articles and other content, get that opt-in form on there.

5. Dedicated Opt-in / Squeeze Page: In addition to having an opt-in form, create a full page dedicated to nothing but “selling” your freebie/perk and opting into your newsletter. This is going to be a key piece of real estate for building your list. See the resource link at the bottom of this post for help in creating your page.

6. Link to Your Opt-In / Squeeze Page: Once you have your page set up, make sure you link to it readily. Use it in your advertising, resource boxes, signatures and more. If you expect to send a lot of traffic from one linking source, create a special landing page that welcomes those visitors and target the offer as much as possible.

7. Refer-a-Friend and Share: Ask your subscribers to pass on your emails and to share them on social media. If they like your content, encourage them to make sure others know about it too.

8. MAKE FRIENDS!: This one is HUGE. One of the fastest ways to grow your list is to make friends of would-be competitors. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there amongst content publishers…most of them readily share, so get to know them and these relationships will be some of your biggest assets.

A Couple of Optional List Building Tools:

These are a matter of personal preference and the second depends on the type of resources/time you have. However, they can be extremely effective in building your list more quickly.

1. Pop-Up / Footer Ad: Test different pop-ups or footer ads. They are an effective way of bringing your offer in front of your visitors and you can often adjust settings so they aren’t as intrusive. I haven’t used pop-ups much in recent years because the technology didn’t provide for as much control as it does now. I am currently testing a footer ad here and working on tweaking it, so bear with me.

2. Pay-Per-Lead Affiliate Program: Instead of just paying your affiliates for each sale, you can also pay them for each new subscriber they bring you. We’ve done this in the past with good results. It was a fairly closed program (so we avoided much of the riff raff), but you will still need to monitor for any fraudulent activity and make sure you use a confirmed opt-in process.

Further Reading:

Here’s a post at Contentrix called Build Your List: Autoresponder Promotion 101. It includes help for creating your freebie offer, putting together your opt-in page and driving traffic.

What to Do Next to be an Email Marketing Success

A big part of email marketing success, comes from making it a regular habit. The more you work on growing and nurturing your list, the better your results. To ensure you develop those great habits, be sure to join me for the 30-Day Email Marketing Challenge. I’ll whip you into shape in no time.

Free Outsourcing Content Guide

Thinking of hiring a ghostwriter, but have concerns? Download your free 21-page step-by-step guide that shows you how to save time and maximize your profits through content creation. There’s no charge, just a quick opt-in required and you can unsubscribe any time. It's a real eye-opener and completely simplifies the content creation process for any online business owner.

Click here to get yours.

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