eBusiness Blog

Why You Need to Stop Using Gmail for Your Business Email Address

What kind of email address are you using for business? Are you using Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or email? Any of those free email services?

If so, keep reading because I want to implore to you to stop using your personal email addresses for business purposes!

The biggest reason for avoiding using a personal email address for business is that it does not present you in a very professional light.

When you’re sending a professional based email to a prospective client, existing client or to vendors and resources, anything to do with business correspondence, when they’re seeing it’s coming from a personal email address like Gmail or Hotmail, it does not present you in a very professional light and it actually has a detracting affect on their perception of how professional you are.

Using a free email service for business emails will not present you in a professional lightClick To Tweet

So if you want to be presented as a professional business person that you want to be taken seriously and want people to spend money with, then you need to have a professional domain-based email address.

Assuming you have a website, every website has a domain name: www.whatever.com or .ca etc and that domain name can be used to create you a professional email address.

Fr instance, my email address is “Susan at eVisionMedia.ca” where our domain name is the “eVisionMedia.ca” part of it. If you typed “eVisionMedia.ca” into your web browser you’ll get our website.

It is very straightforward and simple to create an email address that matches your domain name. If you’re not sure how to do it, ask your web developer or VA to do it. It happens at your web server account and they can set that up for you.

I understand using a Hotmail or Gmail etc. is handy because you can access it from any browser, but your domain-based email address can also be set up in Gmail but you want to make sure it is set up as a POP3 or IMAP account so that when you hit reply to somebody who has emailed you, you’re replying from your professional email address not your Gmail address.

Another thing you can do is set up your email address as an IMAP account and that way it can sync up to all of your devices. This means you can check your email in Outlook on your desktop computer, on your smart-phone, on your iPad – they will all sync together, which is really handy.

The way that works is all of your emails, all that data is stored on a cloud server and that data automatically feeds to your devices that are set up with that email address. With this in mind, there’s really no reason for you to be using a free email service for business use convenience sake only.

Get your web developer to set you up with a proper email address and forget about using those free email address accounts because it’s hurting your brand reputation.

For more information, read this: Proof Why Using Your Personal Email for Business Is Hurting Your Credibility

I’d love to hear what you think – are you using a personal email address for business? Share your response below in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Our “All Under One Roof” boutique web development and digital marketing firm can help you make your vision a reality.
CLICK HERE: www.eVisionMedia.ca

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

5 Top Time Saving Social Media Management Tools

3 Top Time Saving Social Media Management Tools

Sharing content regularly on social media is critical for staying top of mind.  Yet many businesses struggle to find the time to do daily social media posts.

While sharing timely posts live is important, pre-scheduling social media posts using social media management tools helps you save time.

Scheduling social media posts helps business owners save timeClick To Tweet

Planning your posts also helps you to align your posts with upcoming promotions and topics on your marketing calendar.

Last but not least, planning and scheduling your posts ahead of time can give you peace of mind from the worry of “what should I post about today?”.

But with all the tools out there, how do you know what the right one is for your business?

Here’s some of our favourite social media management tools you’ll want to check out:

  1. Hootsuite

    Hootsuite is a free tool with a Pro option that helps you track and manage your social media posts.
     
    Not only does it allow you to manage what others are saying about your brand and enables you to interact with your social media accounts, but it also allows you to schedule posts on multiple social media channels.
     
    Hootsuite also has the ability to curate content to help with your content marketing efforts as well as schedule posts in bulk. Their auto-scheduler will also suggest ideal times to post content, based on your followers’ online activities.
     
    The free version let’s you manage up to three social media platforms.  If you need to manage more, you can upgrade to the professional version for $9.99/month.

  2. Buffer

    Save time on social media with Buffer. This free app (with upgrade options) makes social media scheduling simple.
     
    This tool makes it easy to share other people’s Tweets. Plus, you can spread your Tweets out throughout the day for greater visibility.
     
    One feature that makes Buffer a great tool is its easy integration with other social media tools like Followerwonk (an analytics tools) and Feedly (a news aggregator).

  3. Hubspot

    HubSpot’s Social Publishing tool makes it easy to publish to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It also allows you to select a custom time to post your content.
     
    It gives you custom tools to discover the best times to publish your content to reach the biggest audience. Their Social Inbox tool allows you to optimize your engagement strategy.

  4. Postcron

    Postcron is another social media scheduling tool that allows you to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.
     
    Costs start from $8.33 per month with unlimited posts, a bulk uploader, content recommendations and the ability to add your watermark to image posts.
     
    Postcron also has the ability to re-use previously published material and can auto schedule posts based on when your users are prominently online.

  5. Meet Edgar

    Meet Edgar is more costly but behaves quite differently than the typical social media publishing tools described above.
     
    Not only is it a scheduling tool, but using a content library concept, it also thinks on your behalf by re-purpsosing your own best content and re-distributes it over a period of time. Essentially, the automated queue of content could fill your social media stream with valuable content forever.

Social Media Content Tips

While pre-scheduling posts can save time, you also need to supplement that with on-the-fly posts about where you are, who you are meeting with, big insights, and breaking news.

Followers want to know they are getting the inside scoop and to-the-minute updates on what you are up to with your social media.  It’s like a reward for being an active follower to know the big news first, before anyone else.

In addition to informational posts, social media graphics, and videos, it’s important to share regular calls to action. Always share an exciting way that followers can go deeper with you to experience your products and services.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

eVision Media has a team of experts who can help you identify content that resonates with your audience, plan posts to promote your top offers, and grow your engagement online. Ask about our done for you social media services today!

And if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll want to check out our Social Blast membership program with easy-to -follow, step-by-step strategies and best practices that will help drive traffic to your website, create sales opportunities and grow your brand online.

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here’s 5 top recommended social media management tools from @eVisionMediaClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why Solopreneurs Should Create a Communications Plan for Their Business

Why Solopreneurs Should Create a Communications Plan for Their Business

Small business owners and solopreneurs often think communications planning is for big business.

Yes, communications is the stuff of corporations, governments, and not-for-profit organizations, and it can benefit you, the small business owner or solopreneur as well.

Large organizations who are keen on reputation management, media relations, rolling out annual reports and extensive internal communications programs rely on their communications team to craft the message, to write and create the material, to deliver the program and to keep the organization top of mind with their target audience.

These are all things that you need to do as well, no matter how big or small your business is.

Here is a quick quiz on whether or not you need to bring a communications expert onto your team:

  1. Can you answer what your business does in one, clean, sentence?
  2. Do you know what reputation your business has?
  3. Do your customers/target audiences know your name?
  4. Is your website current and does it accurately reflect you and your business?
  5. Are you clear on how much you need to talk to your customers/target audience and do you have a plan for that?

If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure” to any of the questions above, then you could definitely benefit from hiring a communications consultant to help you through some of these things.

A good consultant will start by asking you about your business. Why did you start it? What do you love about it? What do you want people to know about your business? What call to action do you want your target audience to have once they hear your message?

Once you can answer these questions, you can start creating a communications plan for your business.

The funny thing is, many business owners think they know the answers to these questions; however, once they try to voice it, they stumble.

Here’s an example of how these conversations often go:

Consultant: So, you want people to know about your business. What do you want them to know?

Business Owner: Well, that we’re awesome, of course!

Consultant: Great! I know you’re awesome, and you know you’re awesome. Why are you awesome?

Business Owner: Because we offer a great product. There’s nothing else out there like it on the market!

Consultant: Great! So, what does your product do?

This is where you start getting into what’s important. What do you do? What sets you apart from your competition? How will your customers find you? How often will you communicate with them and when? Do you have a feedback mechanism to hear from your customers? Do you even know what they really want?

A good communications plan will contain the following components:

  1. Background on your Business
  2. Business Goals
  3. Communications Goals (big picture) & Objectives (smaller picture)
  4. Target Audience
  5. Key Messages (for each target audience)
  6. Communications Strategy
  7. Action Plan & Timeline
  8. Budget
  9. Evaluation methodology (how will you know you’ve been successful?)

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. You can even take a stab at this yourself, regardless of your communications experience.

And, the more you have pre-prepared when you meet with a consultant, if you decide to go that route, the more they will love you for it. Particularly the business goals. Nobody but you can tell you what your goals are.

What does success look like for your business?

Let’s start there.

What are your goals for your business?  For three months, six months and one year from now. Once you have your business goals clearly defined, the rest will flow.

And you’ll be well on your way to developing your first communications plan.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


Tools to Get You More Organized, Efficient, and Less Stressed in Your Business

Tools to Get You More Organized, Efficient, and Less Stressed in Your Business

9 Operational Apps, Systems and Processes We Use at eVision Media

The other day I was having a conversation with a professional organizer I met in a Facebook group. We connected over the phone and talked about our businesses.

When she asked me how organized I was, she was quite surprised to hear I felt I was very organized and systematized. I’m not overwhelmed like many busy entrepreneurs and small business owners are and this intrigued her greatly.

In fact, she commended me on how few people reach what I consider pretty normal! Isn’t that typical, right? Where we just assume everyone else knows/does what we do and thus, it’s nothing worth writing about?

So today I thought I would write down a list of the tools and systems I use to keep organized and systematized on a daily basis. Working with a virtual team of 11 people has forced me to be this way!

Want to know what a busy web development/digital marketing firm does to stay organized?Click To Tweet

Here’s 9 ways I keep our eVision Media business operating smoothly:

  1. At the top of the list is using Microsoft Office 365. I really couldn’t be functional without this software suite as an integral part of my daily operations. There are 3 apps I use the most and they are:
    • Outlook. My Outlook program is always open. It’s the hub of my operations for my emails, calendar and tasks.
       
      I use IMAP for email so I can use Outlook on my iPad and iPhone as well, enabling me to keep all 3 devices synched at the same time.
       
      The only thing that doesn’t sync nicely is the calendar (due to my not using MS Exchange) so I use iCloud that syncs my calendar and I can use it for file storage too.
    • Excel. I love lists and keeping things organized. I guess one could say I’m addicted to using Excel to manage many of my day-to-day operations.
       
      Whether at a client level such as tracking our marketing and social media progress or at our own level in tracking our content marketing efforts. I can’t live without Excel!
    • Word. This is self explanatory. All of my business correspondence is done in our branded stationery that’s embedded into Word.
       
      All of my eVision Media and client documents are stored in “libraries” on my PC so I can easily access any file pertaining to anything I need.
  2. Evernote. I started using Evernote a couple of years ago and never looked back. What a gem on keeping me organized! There’s a free version and paid version and so far, I’ve only needed the free version. This is where I keep track of many things like:
    • Current Projects. This notebook tracks all of our website development projects, marketing campaigns, webinars/telesummits as well as our “Done For You” social media projects.
       
      I love how I can create checklists in Evernote to ensure I have all my bases covered as we work through each level of completion on each project.
       
      Because we can have as many as a couple of dozen projects running at the same time, this system is invaluable to keeping me on top of things without having to always rely on my memory.
    • Leads. This is where I can easily take notes as I’m speaking with a potential client so I ensure I do proper follow up and not forget any details told to me.
    • Resources. I use this Notebook to save website links, tools and YouTube videos I want to remember and reference at a later date.
    • Notes. I’m always coming up with new ideas and need a place to jot them down so this notebook is ideal where I add things like newsletter ideas, Social Blast topics, tips I’ve learned on webinars and the like.
    • Daily Tasks. This is basically my to-do list. I find this one the hardest to keep up – sometimes my tasks are completed so quickly, they didn’t make it in here to begin with!
    • Personal Stuff. Life is not all business! So here’s where I store recipes and health tips I like to be able to easily reference.

    Evernote also has a handy voice recording feature that I haven’t gotten into the habit of using but really should. The other feature I don’t use much is the ability to share certain Notebooks with my team. Since we use a different Project Management tool, there hasn’t been a need for this yet.

    An alternative to Evernote is One Note, which comes with Office 365 but I’m a creature of habit and haven’t taken the time to explore One Note enough to see if it would work better for me. Why try to fix what’s not broken, right?

  3. Speaking of Project Management, we use a centralized team system called eGroupware. This is a completely secure, privately accessible system that manages our entire team’s daily activities at an operational level.
  4. For time tracking, most of our team uses Toggl. This is a free desktop/online app. that allows us to track how much time we spend on clients’ tasks down to the minute. This is extremely handy since we charge in 10 minute increments!
  5. There’s often a need to send large files to clients so we have a Hightail account that I much prefer over using Dropbox.
  6. For communicating with my team, I either use email or Skype. Skype is great for quick questions or for face-to-face team meetings.
  7. During my monthly Social Blast training sessions, I use TeamViewer for screensharing capabilities. We also use TeamViewer when we want to do a demonstration with a client or get feedback on a design layout with our graphic designers.
  8. For a newsletter database service provider, we now use Mailchimp. I usually recommend Mailchimp to our clients who are just starting out with their list building efforts due to it being free.
     
    However, sometimes client’s needs require a different service like aWeber, Constant Contact, Get Response, iContact or even 1Shopping Cart or Infusionsoft if sales integration is needed.
  9. To keep organized, and sane, with our social media efforts, we use Hootsuite and PostCron. Each of these services allow me to pre-schedule many of our posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

    Every entrepreneur who is using social media in their marketing efforts should use some sort of scheduling software (there are lots to choose from) to save tons of time.

And as a bonus tip, call me old fashioned, but I still like to have a notepad and pen in front of me so I can jot down quick notes on the fly and track any quick tasks I need to take care of.

9 Operational Apps, Systems and Processes We Use at eVision Media

There’s nothing more satisfying than having that red pen and striking through things are they are completed. Ahhh…

'There's nothing more satisfying than a red pen striking through completed tasks.'Click To Tweet

So there you have it! These are the tools I use on a daily basis to keep me organized, systematized and operating at an efficient level here at eVision Media.

What about you? I’d love to hear what tools you use that keeps you organized in your business!

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why Speaking Engagements Don’t Have to Be Nail-Biting

Why Speaking Engagements Don’t Have to Be Nail-Biting

So, you’ve finally launched your website. (check)
You’ve got a decent social media campaign going – you figure. (check)
You’ve got business coming in. (check?)

And now you’re ready for the next big thing: THE STAGE.

You know you need to add “speaking engagements” to your annual marketing calendar and you’re not sure where to start. Yes, nail-biting, isn’t it?

Well, if you picture yourself on-stage “a la Oprah” and your knees start shaking, not to fear…. It doesn’t have to start that way. In fact, I can guarantee you it didn’t start that way for Oprah either.

Speaking engagements can simply mean this: you speak one-to-many vs. one-to-one. What you may say to one person, you now say to more than one at the same time.

You don’t even have to stand up.

In fact, I did a speaking engagement recently where I got to sit down the whole time. It was a very casual presentation to a group of about a dozen female entrepreneurs in a pub. It was casual, it was fun, it definitely wasn’t intimidating, but it definitely was a speaking engagement.

I had to write an intro about myself, they promoted me to their membership, and I spoke in front of people with my prepared text. That was a speaking engagement.

So, if you are just starting out in your business and you do not yet have a line outside your door of people clamouring to hear you speak.

Here’s a “how-to-guide” to launching that line-up and securing that first speaking engagement:

  1. Write your signature talk

    Honestly, this is probably the hardest part. What are you going to say? I would recommend developing a relatively short, 20 – 30 minute presentation where you speak about the core of your business.

    The goal? To generate interest in you and your business. I definitely don’t recommend selling from the stage at this point, your whole goal will be to generate interest in you and your business by providing value in a 20-30 minute presentation.

    You want people to walk away feeling that talk was a good use of their time and for them to consider contacting you in the future for possible work opportunities.

    At the early stages of talk-giving, you are asking your audience for important collateral – their time — in exchange for your time and knowledge. It’s important to make you worth their time.

  2. Know your target audience

    Who do you want to have hire you? Once you narrow down your target audience and your ideal customer, you can start sourcing where they hang out and what they might want to hear in a short, 20-30 minute snippet of information delivery.

    The better you understand your people, the more value you can deliver in a presentation you prepare.

  3. Identify where your target audience gathers.

    There are groups everywhere these days who gather in the name of networking, promoting their business and learning about topics related to their business or personal growth.

    Identify where these groups are and identify the best ones for you to connect with. Check out meet-ups, networking organizations in your area, and eventually conferences and gatherings where participants pay to hear a number of speakers talk.

    Aligning yourself with organizations who already have a following of your ideal customer, will provide endorsement of you and give you a leg-up before you’ve even hit the proverbial stage.

  4. Introduce yourself to the group organizer

    Arrange a coffee date or meeting with the lead of the organizations you identify. Find out what they’re all about to determine if there is a fit for you to either join the organization yourself and/or become someone they would have come speak to their regular meeting.

    Be ready with #5 (below) if they are interested.

  5. Prepare your “sell sheet” or promotional bio

    You will need this to both promote yourself to be invited to speak and as well to promote to the membership of the organization, so members are enticed to come out to hear you speak.

    It should include your photo, a brief bio about you and why you are someone with something they want to hear.

  6. Let your networks know you are speaking

    Now that you have secured your first speaking engagement, let your networks know you are speaking. You will undoubtedly get a “I didn’t know you gave presentations! Good for you! I know another group who you could really help.” And then the word-of-mouth promotional chain begins and lo and behold, speaking engagement #2 is right around the corner.

After you have gotten a taste for how your Signature Talk is received, you can tweak and amend it to ensure you reach your ideal client and serve them in a way that turns into new business for you.

And, once the requests start rolling in for you to speak, and your time becomes more valuable, you can start charging for that talk. Look out Oprah!

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


Become a Master of Time Management by Protecting Your Time Like a Tiger!

Become a Master of Time Management by Protecting Your Time Like a Tiger!

Every Entrepreneur needs to set aside time for reading, researching and professional development. It is part of the job to stay on top of things or get left behind!

Many of our work days get chewed up with issues that are not productive or even on the to-do list! Does your day get filled with distractions and problems to solve? Does your Professional Development/Progress get put on the back burner all the time?

Many entrepreneurs, while driven to think about business 24/7, seem to allow for distractions and interruptions. Whether you work out of your home or in a small office, each day can be a challenge to fit everything in.

Amy Porterfield, former assistant to Tony Robbins, used the term ‘Tiger Time’ in one of her blogs recently, and I’ll expand on this term. It is time to take control of our precious time!

Time to think like a tiger!

Set aside the TIME YOU NEED and be

PROTECTIVE ABOUT IT!

Poor time management can be the root of many of our issues with productivity, procrastination, disorganization, and more. In feng shui we encourage a clean desk, organized files, specific colours and visuals to reap motivational energy. But, business people also need to plan to maintain the core foundation of the business. And, that takes time.

If you are a true entrepreneur with a cause and a passion, you’ll need to continue your own self development in order to stay on top of changing apps, new rules or codes, breaking news etc, ~ in order to be a front-runner in your business.

In many cases, you can do this right from your own computer! It is so easy to connect; be informed through webinars, on –line courses, look for reference materials and more. You’ll also need to monitor the competition.

To fit all this in, you‘ll need to be more protective of your time:

  1. Identify which time of day will be your ‘working window’. This is defined as the best time for productivity to connect with others: book appointments, follow-up, marketing, post things related to your business. This should be something already revolving around your client profile.
  2. Block off your ‘tiger time’ away from this ‘working window’. This time is for YOU and business development! Perhaps you already do this with tasks/chores such as making dinner, or going to the gym, but your business foundation also needs attention on a weekly or daily basis.
  3. Reinforce the significance of this time. Close the door, turn off your phone, and clear the desk. (Feng Shui logic: A clear desk promotes an invitation for fresh ideas to land.)

Whether you are writing a blog, trying to finish a course or listening to a replay of a related topic, you need to protect your time. The need for self-business development is as important as a sacred or spiritual practice to keep you grounded and thinking positive.

If scheduling an hour to listen to a recording or think creatively seems impossible, before giving up on it, remember that the outcome could be you missing that next step up in your business.

Be firm and be protective of this time or, it will get eaten up. No phone calls, no interviews, no assistants, kids or laundry.

Decide what is important for you, carve out the time and get to it! If you have to, pull out the claws and declare ‘no interruptions’!

Protecting your Tiger Time will reveal greater results down the road!

~Kathryn

About the Author, Kathryn Wilking

Kathryn Wilking

Kathryn of Kathryn Wilking Designs is a Professional Member of the International Feng Shui Guild, and Author, Teacher and Feng Shui Consultant and is available for innovative talks for workshops and Lunch 'n Learn programs.

Sign up to receive a FREE copy of her "Bucket or Chuck-it" PDF report as well as monthly tips on creating a healthy and happy environment at www.kathrynwilking.com


Conquering Mount ‘Social Media’ 101

Conquering Mount ‘Social Media’ 101:Starting at Base Camp: 7 Strategies to Post You’re Way to the Top

Starting at Base Camp: 7 Strategies to Post You’re Way to the Top

No matter what size or stage your business is in you know social media is a biggie in today’s world… you might also know that it can feel like an impossible task.

Like anything else, there are some strategies to accomplishing the impossible.

If you have a plan in place and understand what it is that you want to accomplish Mount Social Media can be conquered with ease.

Whether you are jumping with excitement to get started, or a bit weary of the whole thing (like I was not long ago) social media is an important reality for any business.

It can help you to increase your search rankings, brand identity and most importantly it allows your business to have a personality and voice that potential customers can start a conversation with easily.

Social Media is an important reality for any business for SEO, brand identity and reach purposesClick To Tweet

If you need some motivation, here it is: EVERYONE can be good, great, amazing at social media!

But it isn’t a random thing, there is strategy involved so you’re not wasting your time and efforts.

Below are seven strategies to get you on your way to the top:

Strategy #1 – Develop a Goal

  • Understand why you want to embark on social media to begin with. What is your ultimate goal? Is it to get new clients, build your brand exposure, provide customer support, or gain a loyal following?
  • It is imperative to understand that social media is not going to get you an immediate return on your time investment. No matter what your goal is, your efforts should all be geared towards building relationships with your followers.
  • Determine how many times a day/week you will post, and block off this time in your calendar. To start, make a commitment to post at least once a day on each of your main channels. Ideally, you will want to post more than that, but this is an achievable goal to get you started.

Strategy #2 – Create a Clear Target Market

  • Who is your ideal target market? The more clear you are on the specific persona of the new client or purchaser of your product that you would like to attract, the easier it will be to fulfill your goal outlined in Strategy #1.
  • Avoid making social media a means to advertise – this is NOT where you want to “push” your wares on people. Social media is all about pulling people in and allowing them to get to know, like and trust you.

Strategy #3 – Start Small

  • Feeling a bit confused as to what networks to be on? Fear not. Start small and build.
  • The best thing to do is to start with one network that you feel your ideal target market hangs out at and focus there.
  • Build your followers and get comfortable with the one platform. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s time to add on another channel to continue to build your online brand presence.

Strategy #4 – Slap Those Social Media Icons Everywhere

  • Include social media icons/links to all of your marketing materials, such as your email signature, your website, your newsletter/eZine and even your business card if there’s room (But only if you can include the whole URL. It does no good to just have the Facebook icon without telling people where to find you!)
  • Cross reference between channels as much as possible. If there is no specific field to add in your other social media channel links, add the full URLs into your description field, accompanied by a call to action such as: “Follow me on these other social media channels as well!”

Strategy #5 – Be Recognizable

  • Optimize your profile description so that it is clear and concise, and uses keywords that your ideal client would be searching for if they were wanting to connect with someone that offers solutions to their problems.
  • Have consistent visual branding across all social media channels. The most prominent brand representation you have is your website and so let this serve as the central theme to all of the visual designs allowed in each of your social media channels.

Strategy #6 – Stay Dedicated and Consistent

  • Don’t bother getting started if you’re not prepared to stay consistent in your efforts. People will forget about you faster than you’d ever want to admit, so consistency is the key to make this work. (If this strategy is stopping you from starting at all, you might want to consider participating in a group social media membership program.)
  • Schedule your posts to save time and ensure posting frequency. There are many tools to do this, one of them being largest – Hootsuite.

Strategy #7 – Hash With a Purpose

  • Hashtags (#) have become very popular on many social media platforms. When planning it is important to make sure they are targeted for your industry and offering.
  • Each industry may have unique hashtags that you can study by being active and engaged in your social media community.
  • Using targeted hashtags will allow you to make more valuable connections and reach your target market.

If you think you are alone in the social media fog, you are not. I often have clients come to me feeling like they are lost when it comes to social media, not knowing where to start or what to do.

I too felt this way not too long ago… but I am here to tell you that there is blue sky ahead! Mastering social media is possible and by following these seven strategies you will be soaring to the top in no time!

What is your biggest social media challenge that’s preventing you from starting that “Mount Social Media” climb? Share in the comments below!

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

How to Determine Who to Hire To Be Your Next Ideal Web Developer

How to Determine Who to Hire To Be Your Next Ideal Web Developer - Critical Benefits and Drawbacks You Need to Know About Different Web Developer Types

Critical Benefits and Drawbacks You Need to Know About Different Web Developer Types

I get asked to do website estimates a lot and sometimes it’s downright heartbreaking to hear about the struggles and challenges entrepreneurs and business owners face when trying to find the right web developer.

Too many times I hear about people who feel they were ripped off by their previous webmaster and are very reluctant to hire someone new for fear of the same thing happening again.

Some of these people decided they better do all the work themselves, struggled terribly trying to literally learn a whole new profession. They end up calling me out of sheer frustration that nothing is working and things are worse off than before.

One time I was having a conversation with someone on a completely unrelated topic and he asked me what I did, when I responded he blurted out, “I hate web developers.”

I cringed.

I’m sure this happens in every industry where there are people who are really great at what they do, some who do enough to get by, and some who only THINK they know what they’re doing!

The web development industry is no different.

If you are unhappy with your current web developer or are in the process of finding someone that you can trust and depend on to fulfill your web development needs, this article will provide some valuable tips that will help you find the perfect complement to your team.

The first thing to get clear on is exactly what kind of help you need.

There are many different types of “web developers” out there and making the wrong choice can be very costly. So be sure you understand “who” you are hiring first and then your selection process will be much easier from there.

Here are four common types of web developers:

  1. The WordPress VA (Virtual Assistant)

    This person has figured out WordPress pretty well. They know how to install a WordPress theme (either free or purchased) and can make some modifications to that theme to help match your brand colours. They will have a good understanding of what plugins are available to match your needs as well.
     
    Benefits: Usually hiring someone for this work charges less per hour than a fully qualified web developer. Putting together small-sized sites are their specialty.
     
    Drawbacks: Often Worpress is all that they know and rarely do they know HTML or CSS to customize your website for any extra bells and whistles that you want to have.
     
    Often purchased themes are so rigid that even moving an element from one part of the page to another is impossible to do with this type of limited knowledge.
     
    When to hire them: You would want to hire a WordPress VA when you are not interested in a fully branded/customized website. You realize that any customization options are limited and you basically get what the theme preview shows aside from some colour, text and image changes.
     
    You would also want to make this choice if you are already well versed in marketing strategy, copywriting, and branding and can simply tell your VA what needs to be done. Anticipate them having limited knowledge in some or all of these areas.

  2. The Programmer

    This person is what I lovingly call a “techno geek”. We have a few of these people on our team and we would not be able to be as successful as we are without them!
     
    The Benefits: They know programming inside and out. They live, eat and sleep programming.
     
    The Drawbacks: They can most definitely build you a fully functional website, no problem. But don’t expect it to look pretty! Branding, copywriting, design layout and marketing are rarely found in their list of skillsets.
     
    You will probably need to hire someone else to help with those areas if you are not fully versed in them yourself.
     
    When To Hire Them: You would want to hire a developer of this caliber if you have a complex website in mind that needs to be customized to fit your needs. Whether it’s an eCommerce engine, membership site or a database-driven tool, a fully trained and experienced programmer is your best bet.

  3. The “All Round” developer

    This again is a single person who has built enough websites to have a pretty good understanding of the bigger picture. They are what is called “a Generalist” where they have enough skills to be able to design and develop a decent website.
     
    The Benefits: Having one person have knowledge in the different areas needed for web development is a big plus.
     
    Usually this person has enough programming acumen to be able to handle most customizations and challenges that come up and will not need a plugin for every functionality (which will bog down your site’s performance).
     
    They also are knowledgeable enough about branding and visual design that your site visitors will enjoy the experience of being there.
     
    The Drawbacks: Even though they may appear to know a lot about web development, it’s impossible for one person to be really good at everything. It’s rare to find a really good designer also be a good developer (they do exist but they are a rare breed.) So you will still need to be, or have someone else on your team who is, well versed in online marketing and copywriting to help offset any weaknesses the person you hire has.
     
    When To Hire Them: If you are lucky enough to find someone who has these skillsets AND is dependable, then you will have a great asset on your team. You will need to be aware of what their limitations are so that you can offset those areas with other people on your team.

  4. The Web Development Agency

    There several different types of web development agencies and for the sake of this article, I’ll focus on the kind that eVision Media is, a boutique web development and digital marketing agency. (If you’re looking for a big name agency that only multi-billion dollar corporations use, you wouldn’t have read this article to this point anyway!)
     
    The Benefits: A boutique web development agency is not a one-man show. They are a team of professionals who can offer, as a collective group, all of the different areas of expertise that your business needs from a marketing perspective.
     
    These areas generally include:

    The other big benefit to using a web development agency is that they are very knowledgeable in your brand, your positioning and the message that you want convey to your ideal clients.
     
    With every request you give them, they will already know what is needed and can discuss options with you to create something for you that is a perfect fit for your needs.
     
    This avoids you from having to know what is needed yourself and also have to ensure other people on your team remain consistent with your brand message and design so you can focus more on what you do best.
     
    The Drawbacks: Depending on who you find, the price point might be outside of your budget. Do your research: ask for and talk to referrals to help you decide if they will deliver what they promise. If they have a good reputation for being on time and on budget, then the extra costs will balance out in the long run.
     
    When to hire them: Hiring a boutique web development agency can be one of the best things you can do as a new business. Doing this will assure that your new venture will get going on the right foot right off the bat. You will save a lot of time and money in the long run if you make this initial business investment.
     
    If you already have an existing business and website but are ready to step up to the next level, this is the time to bring in an agency that can help you with not only the “doing” but also the strategizing to ensure you get to where you want to be without wasting a lot of time, money and energy.
     
    You will also want to look for an agency when you want someone on your team for ongoing, consistent support. After your website is built, you will want someone you can contact at any time for website updates, creating new campaigns, doing SEO work etc.

My final piece of advice is to be sure you do your research on who you approach. You want to find someone with experience and skill who will partner with you to help you build your business.

Unless this is what you’re looking for, you want to avoid programmers and developers who only do exactly what you tell them. Having someone who can offer ideas and suggestions and be a part of your team to be a valuable resource when needed may be more ideal for you.

References are very important in this industry: Always ask to talk to their clients to see what their experience was working with the developer.

Be aware of those that claim to be developers when in reality, all they learned was how to use a “do it yourself” software like WIX or Weebly.

The quality of your website – both in design and in how it is coded – is very important on many levels. Ensure the person you hire understands how to design and build a quality product for you. Otherwise, you will most likely be faced with going through the whole process again in a short period of time once you realize your site is doing you more harm than good by turning off your potential clients instead of attracting them!

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

The Urban Myth of Newsletter Provider Deliverability Rates

The Urban Myth of Newsletter Provider Deliverability Rates- What metric you SHOULD use to get the best deliverability rates

What metric you SHOULD use to get the best deliverability rates

In recent articles, I’ve talked about the importance of article/blog writing to help boost your business. I’ve listed reasons why you should add blogging to your marketing repertoire and also provided important tips on getting the most out of your blogging efforts.

In each of these articles, I talk about using those articles to send out to your newsletter list in order to keep top of mind with your subscribers.

This article will help you decide which newsletter provider you should choose and actually debunks the urban myth that deliverability rates should factor into your decision-making process.

After reading, you’ll be well equipped to get going with your newsletters. Do you already send out a regular newsletter? If so, share in the comments section below your experience with your newsletter provider and if not, tell us why you haven’t gotten to it yet!

Clients often ask me which email newsletter provider they should choose. So much so we decided to do some research and find out if one service can provide better deliverability rates or if this is just an urban myth.

Many people are under the illusion that choosing the “right provider” for their email newsletters has a direct impact on the deliverability of their newsletters; that choosing one over another may result in their emails being caught up in spam filters, or vice-versa.

Fortunately, that really isn’t the case.

Major Email Service Providers (ESP’s) such as Mailchimp or Aweber, comply with strict anti-spam policies to ensure the best delivery rates possible. They even work with Mail Service Providers to ensure their services aren’t black listed.

This includes tools such as providing customers with spam score analysis, tips on avoiding spam, and warning (or even disabling the accounts of) customers should their messages result in higher than acceptable spam filter ratings.

Nowadays, the difference in delivery rates between major ESP’s is negligible.

Sending out an email blast with the same content, one through a provider such as Infusionsoft, and the other 1ShoppingCart, isn’t going to affect the amount of people that see your email.

In saying that, the one thing we have noticed is that 1ShoppingCart can be a bit slower at sending out emails than its competitors. This can be a detriment to your marketing campaigns if people are not receiving their confirmation email right away.

What Does Affect Email Deliverability?

The important aspect of keeping your emails going to your recipient’s inboxes, and not their junk folder, is remembering to avoid common spam-triggering mistakes that will get your newsletters marked as spam.

Things like using:

  • Subject lines with “Free Offer” or “Once in a lifetime opportunity!” in them,
  • Excessive exclamation or dollar signs in the subject line, or
  • Using poorly coded HTML

So, how do you choose the right ESP for you?

That all depends on what you’re looking for; often it boils down to costs and ease of use. Here are five of our top picks and their benefits:

  1. Mailchimp

    Mailchimp is a very simple to use and most importantly, free email service provider for accounts with up to 2,000 subscribers, with monthly subscriptions available based on list size for larger accounts.
     
    The minimalistic user interface makes setting up newsletters and autoresponders a breeze, and Mailchimp offers a robust feature set, including advanced analytics, third party application support, and even a mobile app.
     
    We often recommend using Mailchimp to new business owners who are just building their list. With the cost being free (unless they want to set up an auto responder series), there’s little reason to not go with them.

  2. Aweber

    A monthly subscription-based service, Aweber offers premium features such as a selection of hundreds of customizable templates, over 6,000 free stock images to use, unlimited autoresponders and subscriber segmenting.
     
    The monthly fee starts at $19 for lists of up to 500 subscribers, and they also offer a free 30 day trial.

  3. Constant Contact

    Constant Contact offers unlimited broadcasts and lists as well as a plethora of application integrations such as Facebook and Salesforce, image and file storage, and real-time stat tracking for a monthly fee.
     
    Constant Contact starts at $15/month for up to 500 subscribers, and they currently offer a 60 day free trial.

  4. 1ShoppingCart

    Combining an shopping-cart and payment processing system for selling products and services online with a fully-featured email service platform is a great way to operate an online business.
     
    With support for up to 10,000 products, digital product delivery, unlimited autoresponders and questionnaires, an affiliate program and more, 1ShoppingCart is designed as an all-in-one service for online businesses.

  5. InfusionSoft

    InfusionSoft is an alternate option to 1ShoppingCart. I often refer to it as a Cadillac that offers a lot of email marketing, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and eCommerce tools all under one roof.
     
    If you have plans to build your list into the thousands and also offer products or services for sale on your website, InfusionSoft is worth exploring. It’s monthly costs are higher and the learning curve is quite steep, but well worth the investment for serious marketers.

If you choose one of the major newsletter service providers to use for your sendouts, you shouldn’t have any problems with THEIR deliverability but it is important to ensure YOU create newsletters that won’t get caught in the spam filters.

We have first-hand experience using all of the above email services; for more information and additional service options we recommend, visit this page.

Do you send out consistent newsletters? Which is your favourite newsletter service provider? And if you don’t send out newsletters… tell us why?

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".