Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tweeting "For" Clients

I ran across this video on the VAclassroom blog today, and I thought it addresses tweeting for clients very well. It also doesn't hurt that I also agree with the philosophy and guidelines he discusses in the video!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter Verified Accounts

You may or may not have noticed that some of your favorite Twitter Celebrities have a nifty new icon on their profiles that "verifies" that are the real deal.

How to identify a verified account:

* The 'Verified Account' badge will appear in the top-right portion of a user's profile page just above the name, location and bio.
* It will always have a badge followed by the words 'Verified Account'. (This is clickable and as of this writing it points to http://twitter.com/help/verified)
* If the verified account badge appears anywhere else on a user's profile page (e.g. in the avatar or the background) it is not a verified account
* The verified account badge will also appear next to usernames in the Find People section
* The verified account badge will have the same color as shown above even if users customize the background of their profile page or change the color in the sidebar
* See what a verified account looks like!

More information about Verified Accounts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Email Marketing No-Nos

I received an email today from someone I had gotten a service quote from in the past (for my house). I received it in both my business email and my Gmail account (because I have my Gmail set up as a "back up" for my business account). I didn't even look at it in my Outlook...simply deleted it because there was NO TEXT in the body of the email. However, Gmail has the thumbnail preview of attached images at the bottom of the emails, and I saw it was possibly a "legitimate" email, so I opened the full picture. As a result, I sat down and wrote the following email:
Hi [removed],

I received your email today with your [removed] Sunroom information. However, if I may offer some suggestions...

Sending an email to 436 people in a way where anyone receiving the email can view and save the email address of everyone else the email has been sent to is bad email etiquette. It's very easy for someone to simply right click on a name and get the email address for every single person on your list. For example, I know that [removed name]'s email address is [removed]2001@aol.com simply by using that technique. And in Gmail, I don't even have to go through all that trouble...I can just click on the "show details" link in my email and it will show the email addresses of everyone with a single click. Some people just don't want their email addresses out there. And if someone has the option checked to "automatically add recipients to my contact list" in their email program and they click on "reply all" to your email...guess what, now all those people on your email are in that person's contact list and are more susceptible to viruses and those incessantly forwarded email jokes and chain letters.

Sending that many emails at one time will many times get you flagged as a potential spammer by your Internet service provider as well as raise your SPAM score in SPAM filters...so your email might not even get seen by your customers and potential customers because it is much more likely to get filtered out by their SPAM filters.

Subject line. Most people do not open email where they do not understand the subject line. Your subject was "Emailing: Page Title". That has no call to action and does not give the sender any information about what's in the email.

No body text. There was not TEXT in your email stating WHO the email was from, what company, etc.

Only graphics in the email. Most email programs no longer show graphics unless the sender is added to your "safe sender" list or unless you physically click on the "show pictures" option. Again, if no one knows who it's from and there's no text in the message of the email to say who you are or what the email is about, so the odds of someone clicking on the option to see the picture to see what you have to say is slim since almost all the emails that have no text and only graphics are ads for "cheap pharmaceuticals" and porn.

Do you have a mechanism in place to see how many people actually opened your email, or are you just going on blind faith?

So, if I have all these reasons why no one would open the email, why did I open the email? I'll tell you why...because this is what I do for a living...I manage email marketing campaigns for small business and entrepreneurs. And I'm interested in what even the "spam" is like. I learn from every email I receive - good and bad.

If you would like to continue with email campaigns, I would be happy to talk with you about how you can continue to send emails, track who opens them, and increase your "open rate" in the process, I'd be glad to talk with you to discuss how I could help [removed] Remodeling accomplish this.

Will I ever hear from this guy again? Will he even read my email? Will he take any action to help ensure his emails get read in the future? I don't know.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Clients Don't Want to Pay Your Rates?

Clients not wanting to pay your rate? Here's a great video showing how that Vendor/Client relationship would work in real world situations.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My mother discovered Twitter

So, my mother discovered Twitter yesterday. I got an email in my personal account saying someone wanted to follow my "protected" Twitter account. (I do not "use" this account, I only use it for testing Twitter backgrounds I create for my clients.) So, after a brief bio check, and a phone call to confirm my suspicions, I discover it was my mother...who had no idea what the heck she was doing. After a while on the phone with her explaining what Twitter was and how she (as a non-business person) could use it, I realized I REALLY needed to get on the stick and write that "easy to understand" Twitter ebook I'd been pondering for a while. So, that is my goal for this week...finish my Twitter ebook.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How Do I Find a Virtual Assistant?

This week I’ve been posting about what a virtual assistant is and the cost of a virtual assistant. Your next question may be, “How do I go about finding a virtual assistant for my business?”

There are several resources for finding a VA to partner with to help you grow your business. Since virtual assistants are, well, virtual, odds are you will not find a VA in your local yellow pages. Also, because they are virtual, that means you are not limited to a VA in your local area. Other than doing a web search and wading through the thousands of VA web sites, you can turn to virtual assistant associations. All VA associations have a section of their web site dedicated for potential clients to submit a request for proposal (RFP). Once the RFP has been posted to the private, members’ only portion of their web site, individual VAs then respond directly to the business owner who has requested VA services. It is then up to the individual business owner to screen the proposals and begin a conversation with who they believe would be the best fit for them and their business needs.

So, what VA associations are there? There are hundreds of VA associations (local, regional, national, and international). Two good places to start are VAnetworking and the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA). Both are international organizations, but the majority of their members are in North America.

Don't Be Shocked by the Cost of a Virtual Assistant

Earlier this week I wrote about what a virtual assistant is. Some people are initially surprised to see the hourly charge for a virtual assistant. VA fees for generalists can range from $25 to $50 per hour and specialized VAs can charge $75 per hour or more. That can seem a lot at first glance, but compared to the actual cost of an hourly employee, VAs are right in line with, and sometimes less than, the cost of an on-site employee. But remember, a virtual assistant is not an employee - VAs are business owners like you, who are responsible for all their own expenses related to running a business such as taxes, software, computers, electricity, Internet connection, health insurance, retirement, etc. The median wage for an entry level administrative assistant in my local area (South Carolina) is $16 per hour, not counting bonuses and benefits. Factoring in bonuses and benefits, the actual cost to the employer is over $24 per hour. Add in the cost of employment taxes, an extra computer, telephone, electricity, work space, unproductive time such as breaks, etc. and the actual cost of an administrative assistant can easily top $30 per hour – that’s just for an entry level assistant. The cost goes up significantly with experience, increased responsibilities and location.

Here is another VA vs. Employee cost comparison at VAnetworking.com.