Posts Tagged ‘Tools’

Nine Google Tools for Small Business Success

Written by Debra Leitl on May 9, 2012. Posted in Day In The Life

Among the many online services available to help you run your small business with optimal efficiency and ease is the suite of offerings from good ol’ Google. We’ve identified nine of them that are worth looking into for several reasons, among them:

  • Convenience
  • Ease of use
  • Free
  • Integration
  • Single login for all services

Email Inbox Deliverability Tools

Written by Debra Leitl on April 25, 2012. Posted in Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to develop lasting relationships with your customers while providing a sustainable income for your online business.  There is a lot of work that goes into a successful email campaign before the email messages are sent. It only stands to reason that you would like to know whether or not the messages reached the Inbox of your recipients in addition to other elements that tell you what happened to the email after you released it.

If you are using an email distribution service to communicate with your subscribers there are many tools which are available which help you measure Inbox deliverability.  Here are a few tools which are available by MailChimp and other email outreach providers that will help you to become familiar with what’s out there for discovering the fate of your email messages.

AdCenter’s Flexible Param1, Param2, and Param3 Usage Tips

Written by Debra Leitl on November 10, 2011. Posted in Search Engine Marketing

AdCenter's Flexible Param1, Param2, and Param3 Usage TipsIf you are new to using Microsoft AdCenter or you have been using it for some time now, there are many features that help you to really dig down deep and optimize your campaign results.  One of these features is known as the {Param} function which is surprisingly not leveraged by a lot of AdCenter users.

Regardless of your experience with AdCenter if you would like to boost the results of your advertising campaigns and make the most of your budget, here is a general overview of how AdCenter’s {Param} function works.

Google PPC Ad Extensions What’s New – Fall 2011

Written by Debra Leitl on November 7, 2011. Posted in Search Engine Marketing

 Google AdWords PPC Ad ExtensionsIf you have been using PPC advertising for any length of time you are probably aware that that Google introduced ad extensions to enhance the results that business owners can achieve with pay per click advertising campaigns.  Recently, Google added new enhancements which help to take PPC marketing to the next level.  The purpose of the improvements is to strengthen the bond between your potential visitors and your PPC ads and to provide highly targeted advertising which increases ROI.

Excel Add-in: Next Analytics Dashboard

Written by Debra Leitl on November 2, 2011. Posted in Social Media Marketing

Excel Add-In Next analyticsWhen you use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in addition to your main website and blog, trying to keep track of your progress can be a daunting task to say the least.  If you are an avid user of Excel for analyzing marketing campaigns, keyword research, and other tools you use for your business, now you can automate Excel reports in a suite for Facebook Twitter, and Google Analytics.

Facebook Fan Page Analysis 

Next Analytics allows you to analyze your Facebook visitor demographics to improve campaign effectiveness.  This function allows you to segment your data to view total visits to your fan page, visit by age category, gender, and location.  You simply download this function and open it in Microsoft Excel, enter your Facebook fan page ID and then click on Refresh.

Small Business Owners Desert Island Gadget List

Written by Debra Leitl on August 29, 2011. Posted in Day In The Life

When you run a small business sometimes you may feel like running away to a desert island or….perhaps your preference is to operate your business permanently from a desert island.  The good news is that either option is possible thanks to new technologies.  All you have to do is determine what gadgets you need and you are off to seclusion. 

SmartPhone 

A smartphone is a “must have” if you are going to run your business from a desert island with all of the capabilities that are included in some of the newer devices.  Most people carry their entire life with them on their smartphone which makes it the perfect gadget for a desert island.  When you use some of the available apps you can easily run your business from your smartphone.   As long as there is 3G or 4G coverage where you are located the sky is the limit for the number of ways you can use your phone to run your small business. 

Portable Laptop

Although a smartphone is equipped to carry your business around in your pocket there are times when you need a larger screen and larger keyboard to accomplish tasks faster.  A wireless-enabled portable laptop should be part of your gadget list when you take off for your desert island and should be equipped with a web cam for holding meetings. 

Portable Satellite

If you are really serious about going to a secluded island it may be necessary to take a portable satellite with you.  This will ensure Internet access as long as you have a clear view of the southern sky.  There are many portable satellite systems that are easy to setup and provide you with the choice of mounting the dish on your vehicle or a tripod that is included with the kit.  Many RV travelers and people who work in the field use this type of connection. 

Portable Hotspot

If you are going to be traveling around a lot and seeing the sights on that gorgeous desert island you want to be sure you can access the Internet wherever you go.  Carrying a portable hotspot with you will ensure you do not lose contact with your clients, distributors, and other people you need to stay in touch with when working remotely.

Bluetooth Headphones or Ear Device

To keep your hands free to conduct business tasks get a Bluetooth device so you can talk on the phone without having to hold the receiver and try to accomplish tasks at the same time.  There are many types of different hands-free Bluetooth devices that fit in your ear, on your head, or on the visor of your car. 

Portable Hard Drive

A portable hard drive will ensure that you can always backup your small business on a regular basis.  Since this type of gadget is technology it stands a chance of failure.  For this reason, you should also have an online backup account as an alternative method for backing up your small business.

Tell Us What Is On Your ‘Must Have‘ Desert Island Gadget List In The Comments.

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pURLs of Wisdom – Smart URLs Aid Conversion

Written by Debra Leitl on July 1, 2011. Posted in Search Engine Marketing

If you are trying to decide the best way to go about a direct mail campaign it may help you to know that the days of sending out a mailing and hoping for the best are gone thanks to the concept of pURLs also known as Personalized URLs. pPURLs directly target your market and solicit a much higher response rate than conventional direct mail campaigns through personalization. 

pURL campaigns are based on the premise that most people respond better when the marketing piece is personalized and addresses the recipient by name.  A pURL campaign works by targeting the prospect through direct mailing which prompts them to visit a web page that is specifically personalized with their name. 

What exactly is a pURL?

A pURL is a web page that has a personalized URL address that contains the customer’s name.  For example, if you send a direct mailing piece to the John Doe Company from the Widget Company which is your business, the URL address on the mailing piece might look like this:  www.widgetcompany.com/johndoecompany.html

When the customer sees their personalized web page the curiosity prompts them to visit the site. 

How a pURL Campaign Works

A pURL campaign begins with identifying your market and the message you want to convey for the direct marketing campaign.  The message is targeted toward the needs of your specific audience which means you must know your market and what they want. 

  • Direct Mailing Piece and Personalized URL Page: The direct mailing piece is typically a postcard that has the same design as the pURL page that the customer will visit after reading the postcard.  This is to create continuity and a uniform look to the campaign.  The direct mailing piece includes your marketing message, promotional offer, and the customer’s personalized URL address.  The pURL page is an extension of the direct mail piece. 
  • pURL: Once the customer receives the postcard and sees that they have a web page designed specifically with their name, they visit the pURL by typing the URL address from the postcard into their web browser.  The page has the same graphic look as the postcard and greets the customer while they enter their personal ID number from the direct mail piece. 

  • Survey: Once the customer enters their personal ID number their information is retrieved and they are presented with a brief survey that they fill out and submit.  The information is transferred to a centralized database for analysis and further personalized communication. 

  • Thank You Page: Once the customer’s information is submitted a thank you page acknowledges receipt and the customer receives the special offer via email or snail mail. 

When you put together a pURL campaign you can choose to use a full service company to do a turnkey pURL campaign, create the campaign yourself, or create the personalized URLs yourself and then ask a printing company to help you with the direct mail piece. 

pURLs aid conversion through personalization and they allow you to immediately track the micro site visits and track the survey results.  The information that you collect on your customers is used to generate reports and customize further communications.  This helps you to strengthen your customer relationships while increasing your return on investment (ROI) with a cost effective direct marketing campaign.

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Google Tools To Gain a Competitive Advantage

Written by Debra Leitl on April 19, 2011. Posted in Search Engine Marketing

If you are seeking to increase your visibility on the web Google has a few nifty tools that will help your visitors find you as well as locate exactly what they are looking for when it comes to your topic of business. Here are some of the tools that Google offers to enhance searches and provide a user-friendly way to help users easily locate the information they are seeking.

Wonder Wheel

Google has a handy search feature known as Wonder Wheel which displays a mini app which is interactive with the use of Flash. The application is a diagram in the form of a wheel with the original keyword placed in the center of the wheel.

When you view the diagram all of the related terms to your search are placed around the original search term and when you click on one of the related terms you are presented with a new wheel with additional related terms. As you click on more terms the search results related to that term are displayed on the right hand side of the page. The wonder wheel is accessed by clicking the blue “More Search Tools” link at the lower left side column.

News Timeline

News Timeline is a tool developed by Google that allows you to view news stories in the format of a timeline. You can choose to view stories on a particular topic on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis and there is even a feature that allows you to view stories by the decade.

If you are creating content for your blog or news feed this is an exceptional tool for following stories related to your market over time. Additionally, if you are doing a story on a particular topic related to your area of business you can find many news stories related to the topic and get your story listed in the timeline as well.

Insights

Google Insights is a great tool for staying on top of the current web search trends related to your market. Insights allow you to track consumer attitudes and interests so you can improve your marketing strategies and adjust them to the current trends of the internet.

The tools included in Google Insights include a search tool to help you learn about consumer trends, AdPlanner which helps you to understand your customers and learn about the websites they visit, Google Analytics and YouTube Insight to stay on top of traffic patterns and video statistics, and the Google blogosphere which allows you to eavesdrop on what others are saying regarding your brand.

Use these tools help you gain a competitive advantage, and to meet the criteria that Google sets for online business owners with regard to content and advertising that is user-focused, relevant, integrated, and accountable.

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Why I Like PipelineDeals

Written by Debra Leitl on March 2, 2011. Posted in Web Operations

If you are not familiar with PipelineDeals, it’s a CRM software that allows you to perform a comprehensive variety of different management tasks. It also provides a way for you to manage tasks on the road through its CRM mobile application. PipelineDeals lends flexibility to CRM software by allowing you to upgrade or downgrade at any time plus, you are not bound to any contract or storage limit. You simply pay a monthly user fee with a 30-day free trial.

PipelineDeals obsesses about Customer Service – we strive to always answer our phone with a real live human.

JP Werlin

What PipelineDeals Has to Offer

PipelineDeals offers business owners a complete CRM software system that allows you to back up your data on servers using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and security. This is the same type of security that is used when you log onto your financial institution website. In addition to offering security PipelineDeals has the following features:

  • Complete Sales Management: You can manage your entire sales pipeline as well as collaborate with colleagues and generate reports for sales tracking and archiving. The customized filtering feature helps you to generate the customized reports that you need from the sales pipeline.
  • Contact Sharing Through Your Inbox: PipelineDeals provides you with an Inbox that can be configured to work with any email client that you use. You can track all of your communications through this feature, create task lists and share contacts.
  • Schedule Management: PipelineDeals has a complete schedule management feature that allows you to view your calendar of appointments and things to do as well as create events for your colleagues. You can configure the feature to send you appointment reminders via SMS.
  • Customization: The software is fully customizable to allow you to organize your data so the platform is user-friendly while serving your specific needs. You can customize the platform to send leads from your website to the software and integrate your sales data with any other type of system.
  • Mobile Capability: When you use PipelineDeals you do not have to be tied to your office. Instead you can manage everything from your iPhone including your sales pipeline, text reminders, daily schedules, and the latest activities related to your business.

This is just an overview of some of the intuitive features that are included in Pipeline Deals. PipelineDeals is also effective in capturing and organizing data to allow for easy collaboration without being complex. Depending upon your business needs you can potentially be up and running within a few minutes. I also like it because it is extremely user-friendly with an easy monthly cost of only $15 per user and no contract commitments.

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Amazon SES – Simplifies Emailing In The Cloud

Written by Debra Leitl on February 23, 2011. Posted in Email Marketing

Do you send out a lot of emails in the course of business? Email, while the most affordable means to communicate with your many customers, colleagues and leads, can prove to be a challenging issue. Even though you comply with all appropriate CAN-Spam guidelines, you know that not all your emails are making it through the labyrinth of spam filters and ISP firewalls to their ultimate recipients. And what if it’s your own email service that identifies you as a spammer based solely on the number of emails you need to send at one time? It could lead you to look for an alternative solution for sending emails.

Generally speaking, bulk email is routed through some sort of email service provider who takes care of CAN-spam compliance and makes sending emails in bulk easy and convenient. But they’re not always the cheapest solution. Cost concerns may be the impetus for you to either seek the implementation of a third-party email service or the development of an in-house solution to allow you to send your bulk emails more affordably. Those solutions in themselves are costly, but it may be worth the expense of hiring a developer and a programmer or the technical complexities of installing, implementing and managing an existing solution in the long run. After all, email is the lifeblood of your business, so you’re willing to do whatever it takes, right?

There’s good news in beta, however. Thanks to the amazing infrastructure developed at Amazon.com in the course of solving their own email sending issues, a solution to your bulk emailing woes may now exist. Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a solution for sending bulk and transactional emails for businesses to employ and developers to use.

Amazon SES offers the bulk emailing services you may need with some significant perks:

  • Affordable – Pricing is based on how many emails you actually send at $.10 per 1000.
  • Scalable - Send a few, send a lot – whatever you need. There is no contract or minimum to pay.
  • Simple - From set-up to implementation, the process is straightforward and well-explained.
  • Efficient - The infrastructure is in place so the heavy lifting is done for you.

How can you get on board and begin sending your merchandising, subscription, transactional, and notification emails with Amazon SES? Here’s the process:

  • Subscribe - Sign up for Amazon SES. This allows you access to the Amazon SES Sandbox, which is a testing and evaluation environment.
  • Verify your email addresses – You will first need to verify the email addresses from which you will be sending email. This entails making an API call with the email address as a parameter. When you receive the verification email this generates, click the link within the email to complete verification process.
  • Request production access – Submit your request to move from the sandbox environment to the production environment itself when you are ready to begin sending email. You will receive a response to your request within 24 hours.
  • Send email – You may send email up to the amount allowed by your account. There is no actual number value on this because every Amazon SES user’s sending limit is unique to their situation. The volume of email you are allowed to send out is dependent upon the quality of the emails you distribute. Through several tiers of acceptance, your maximum number of emails can increase from 1000 initially to as many as you could possibly need. So long as the quality of your emails remains high (not spam, few complaints) your send limits will continue to increase. There are two components to defining the amount of email you can send:
    • Sending quota – refers to the maximum number of emails you are permitted to send out in any 24-hour period
    • Maximum send rate – refers to the the maximum number of emails you are permitted to send per second

The same data that is available to Amazon to evaluate the quality and deliverability of your email is also available to you. You will receive statistical feedback about your emails, informing you about details of their delivery status, such as volume, bounces and complaints. This information will be helpful to you in insuring you optimize your emails for maximum deliverability – and maximum sending allowances.

Amazon SES promises a high rate of deliverability.

They are taking pains to make sure the email sent through their service is consistently of high quality. They want to be regarded as a trusted email origin. To that end, Amazon SES has taken these 3 steps:

  1. SES “Ramps up” the volume of email you can send so an ISP doesn’t misinterpret a sudden increase in your email volume as spamming and block you as a result.
  2. Employs content-filtering technology that identify spam or malware prior to it being distributed
  3. Utilizes complaint feedback loops from major ISPs which indicate which emails a recipient marked as spam and gives you access to that info to help guide your email strategy

Amazon SES offers efficient, affordable, scalable and convenient email sending with extra features which help insure you won’t be treated as a spammer. All that complete with Amazon’s infrastructure makes for a good option when you’re looking to send a lot of email.

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