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Getting clear, automated & visible… in just 5 days

Join the Challenge: https://thevirtualsolution.com/5-day-challenge
 

A recap of the video:

I sent out a survey recently, and the results were very interesting. It reminds me that people aren’t always thinking what I think they are and they aren’t necessarily struggling with what I think they are. That’s why it’s important to do some occasional market research with your target market and actually ask them questions.

With my online audience and those who participated in my survey, there is a bit of a divide. Some of you are in different places in your business. Some of you admitted you really haven’t started to make money in your business yet, and some of you are doing very well, consistently making 4-5 figures per month. Some of you have been in business for a very short period of time, while others have been in business for more than 5 or 10 years. This means your needs may be different; however, even though you may be successful, you still might not have all of your marketing and technology pieces in place for running your business online, and you still may not be clear and concise in your marketing message.

I wanted to put together a 5-day challenge so I could share some of my knowledge with you and help you get some clarity and take some steps forward instead of getting stuck in confusion, overwhelm, fear, or procrastination, and I know that’s what’s been happening with some of you. I’ve talked to some of you more than once and you’re still in the same place you were two years ago, in a place of non-action. Taking little steps forward consistently can make a big difference in your business. It tells the universe that you are taking action and you are ready to attract more clients.

I wanted to try to find the common ground with what many of you are struggling with and what’s holding you back when it comes to technology and marketing your business.

There are certain things you ALL need to have in place to be able to attract your target market to you, build your email list of prospects, and make sales. You need to clearly know who your target market is, you need to know what they struggle with the most, you need to have a clear and concise elevator pitch that doesn’t cause a blank or confused look, that allows you to stand out from the crowd and make an impact; you need a compelling free gift set up on your website so you can collect your prospects’ email addresses, and you need to build the Know, Like and Trust Factor with your prospects online.

This isn’t going to be a heavy-duty challenge that is going to take up a huge amount of your time every day, and it certainly is not going to be tech-heavy. Although I may touch on some systems you may need, for example with setting up a free gift for listbuilding, it will be more of an overview of the steps involved, not a step-by-step tutorial of systems. The idea is to clarify the process, help you come up with ideas that will work for you, and help you make a decision to implement.

If you need things set up for you or you want some one-on-one guidance to do it yourself, you can email me and we can discuss that.

One thing you likely all have in common is you get overwhelmed by something related to your business.

For those of you making consistent money from month-to-month, whether you have a VA or not, you probably have quite a busy schedule working with clients, possibly speaking events, workshops, marketing, program and product creation, and more. The last thing you want is to sit down each day and watch an hour-long video and go through a list of time-consuming exercises.

For those of you who are newer to business and you have virtually nothing set up, you likely get overwhelmed by too much information, too many action steps, and not knowing what to do next.

I’m inviting you to “Get clear, get automated and get visible… in just 5 days!” So you can build your email list and attract more clients. It’s a free 5-day challenge designed particularly for coaches, speakers and consultants, although it really applies to any entrepreneur. It starts July 17th. You can go to https://thevirtualsolution.com/5-day-challenge.

This is the first time I’ve offered this type of online event, so I have no idea how many people will decide to join us. I’m going to set up a private Facebook group where I’ll do a short Facebook Live broadcast each day. I’ll also send an email out with the details of the challenge each day.

I’m going to try to keep the daily Facebook Live videos fairly short and generally focused on one subject, and I’m going to try my best to pack as much into that time as I can without making it too confusing or overwhelming. If you can’t make it live for the broadcast, you can watch it later at your convenience.

I hope you’ll find the exercises fairly simple, although some of you will breeze through them faster than others, depending on where you are in your business. Some days it will just be one exercise, and other days there might be a multi-part exercise.

You can make so much progress in your business by taking even one baby step or micro action step each day. It’s all in the action.

The free “Get Clear, Get Automated and Get Visible… in just 5 Days” Challenge starts July 17th.

Learn more here: https://thevirtualsolution.com/5-day-challenge

 

ActiveCampaign Virtual Assistant in Canada

5 Ways ActiveCampaign Blows Other Email Marketing Systems Out of the Water!

Are you looking to start building an email list of prospects or are you unhappy with your current email marketing system?

The last month or more I’ve been working on migrating from my old all-in-one shopping cart and email marketing system, called 1ShoppingCart, to a combination of ActiveCampaign and SendOwl. That’s been my main focus, so I thought I’d talk today a bit about my experience with that. I’m really only going to talk about ActiveCampaign today but, briefly, SendOwl is one of several shopping cart systems that integrates nicely with ActiveCampaign, and includes the ability to use product upsells and has an affiliate system.

I had no intention of moving from the system I’ve been using because it’s so nice having everything under one roof, everything from email marketing, to products and upsells, to an affiliate platform. At one time, 1ShoppingCart was considered to be more of a top-of-the-line system. It’s still a great starter system in many ways and it has served me well over the years. However, it is very limited in its marketing features. Once you’ve used a system that has advanced marketing features like Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign and even ConvertKit, it’s hard to be satisfied with a system that doesn’t offer these advanced features.

I realized I could get the marketing features I wanted for a heck of a lot less per month with the combination of ActiveCampaign and SendOwl. Originally, I was going to switch to ConvertKit for email marketing because of their stellar email deliverability claims. I really liked the platform. It was very easy to use and had some great features, but it still didn’t give me the ability to do everything I was looking for and I felt too confined.

I decided to go with my gut and give ActiveCampaign a try. I am so happy with my decision. I went with the basic package and I found it to be very affordable for small and medium sized lists. With the combination of ActiveCampaign and SendOwl, which integrate nicely, I’m not only paying less per month than I was with my old system, but I’m also getting more features.

Why is it taking me so long to make the switch?

I’m doing it in my spare time, between client work and life. I have two main websites (and two old ones that will be disappearing when I have time to deal with them), but I have way too many landing pages and sales pages on these two sites, and too many autoresponder lists set up.

I didn’t want to just import my list in whole and start over. I wanted to tag everyone according to their interests, their past webinar sign ups, free gift downloads, and product purchases, which slowed me down.

So I had to set up all of the tags I wanted. I had to set up the email sequences and automations that I wanted for opt-ins and product purchases. I had to create the web forms and change them on the landing pages and opt-in boxes on my websites, and then test them.

I’m still working on updating the payment buttons on sales pages on one of my sites and connecting them to SendOwl, but I hope to have that finished by the first of next week.

Here are my 5 Reasons you should consider ActiveCampaign and why it blows the rest of the email marketing systems out of the water:

  1. It’s budget friendly. It can grow with you and your business. The basic package starts at $9 US per month, depending on the size of your email list. The higher level package includes a CRM (customer relationship manager) if you need to track and follow up with prospects and sales calls.
  2. It’s easy to design nice-looking emails and web forms with their drag and drop builders, and it’s extremely easy to add the forms to your website. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a simple short code.
  3. It has a drag and drop automation builder with so many options, including if this then that, adding and removing tags, starting and ending other automations, identifying subscribers who aren’t engaged and aren’t opening your emails so you can set up an automation to attempt to automatically re-engage them or remove them from your list, and so much more. You can keep things as simple as you want, or you can build complex automations and triggers.
  4. You can tag people for anything and, as I already said, remove the tags automatically at any time, so you can track people’s actions and interests, and target them appropriately with your marketing activities.
  5. It’s not so complicated that the average person can’t figure out how to use it. You may choose to have a virtual assistant to do things for you and take advantage of all of the features, because as a coach, speaker or consultant, playing around in technology yourself to avoid making sales calls isn’t going to make you money, but if you need to go into the system to do something or find something, it shouldn’t make you cry. There’s a reason Infusionsoft is referred to as Confusionsoft – and there have been times in the past that it has almost made me cry.

I have used most of the email marketing platforms and many all-in-one shopping cart/email marketing systems out there, and this one has turned me into a die hard fan so far. I’ve switched a couple of clients over too. I’m still learning awesome ways that their features and automations can be used to improve subscriber experience and list quality.

For anyone interested, here are the links to learn more or get a free trial (disclaimer – these are affiliate links):

ActiveCampaign
SendOwl

I would also like to invite you to schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session with me if you feel you need help with your email marketing, creating landing pages, or anything else.

How to Market Your Business Online to Find More Clients – Pt 4: Irresistible Free Offer & Landing Pages

Why should you offer a free gift on your website? Think about this. People come across your website and they’re interested in your products or services, but they’re not ready to buy yet. You may or may not have a simple newsletter signup box, but you have nothing else to offer them right now, so they leave. Even if you had a simple newsletter signup box on your website, they didn’t give you their name and email because they don’t want yet another newsletter clogging up their inbox.

They have left and chances are they WILL forget about you, and they will never go to your website again.

Now these potential clients are lost to you. You don’t know who they are and you have no way to contact them to offer your services.

Lead MagnetHowever, they came across one of your competitors’ websites, and that competitor offered a cool free gift. The gift title caught their attention and offered to help solve a pain point that they have, something they’ve been struggling with. They decided they just had to have that, so they entered their name and email address to get it.

Now this competitor is helping and educating your potential client, and they have this potential client’s email address. The competitor is sending out regular emails and newsletters to continue educating this potential client, reminding them of who they are and what they have to offer them, and building the “Know, Like, Trust Factor.”

A month, a year or three years later when this potential client is ready to take that step, spend some money and get some help, who do you think they will likely to turn to? That’s right, your competitor.

Melanie Duncan stated, “Data suggests that 95% of visitors won’t buy anything on their first visit to a site, so what are you doing to encourage browsers to become future buyers? Are you letting them slip through the cracks?”

Melanie also shares some other statistics: “With 838 billion marketing emails sent in a year, you have to be offering a good reason for a customer to welcome another email into their overwhelmed inbox.”

“40% of customers are willing to give permission to be emailed in return for something of value.  And, with 66% of customers likely to make an online purchase as a result of a marketing message, the lead magnet is your golden ticket.”

The lead magnet she refers to is the irresistible free offer. This is exactly why you MUST have an IFO on your website!

What should you offer as a free gift? It could be any of the following examples:

  • Report
  • E-book
  • Checklist
  • Tip sheet
  • Templates or charts
  • Audio download
  • Video series
  • Etc.

What Do You Need to Set Up?

As a brief overview, you create your free gift (PDF, .MP3, etc.) and create an email campaign in an email marketing system. There are many out there to choose from (iContact, MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, 1ShoppingCart), and they will help you comply with the anti-spam laws. You set up an autoresponder message to deliver your free gift, and then create the code for an opt-in box or landing page – where people will sign up.

Landing Page or Opt-in Box?

Ideally, you should have both. An opt-in box should appear on your home page and most pages on your website so no matter where people land on your website, they have that option of getting your free gift. It should be “above the fold” so people don’t have to scroll down to see it, and it should be either centered or on the right-hand side, depending on the design of your website.

A landing page is a page dedicated to only that free gift so that there are no other distractions or options. This is useful for when you’re sending people directly to your website to get your free gift. You may offer the free gift on the back of your business card or to someone via email. You may do Facebook advertising to help grow your email list, and you are sending people directly to that landing page. Your only objective here is to get people on your email list. If you have things set up properly, they can be directed to your main website after they have “opted in” by giving you their name and email address. Then they will have the opportunity to look around or you can take advantage and make them an offer of some kind.

“Help, I’m technology challenged! I know it’s important, but I don’t have time to figure out how to set all of this up!”

No worries! I have a starter package where I’ll take care of all of this for you. If you don’t already have an email list in a proper system (like I mentioned above), I’ll set up the following for you:

  • Your email marketing account
  • The email list
  • Create an opt-in box and put it on your website
  • Create a customized landing page for you to send people to directly
  • Automatic delivery of the free gift.

And there’s more!

I’ll also set up a simple custom newsletter template and we’ll have a 20-minute complimentary strategy session afterward to discuss implementing a regular newsletter and email campaign so you can keep in touch with your new subscribers.

Ready to get started? Click the button below to order the package and I’ll get back to you soon with more details!

buy-now-burgundy

How to Market Your Business Online to Find More Clients – Part 2: Mobile Websites & Email Marketing

Marketing For Coaches
In part two of the How to Market Your Business Online to Find More Clients, I’m going to talk about mobile-friendly websites and email marketing.
Mobile-Friendly Websites
Google is now showing preference to mobile friendly and responsive websites. If Google doesn’t consider your website to be mobile friendly or responsive (even if you think it is), you may find you take a significant drop in search engine results. I’ve had some people come to me recently to have their older websites converted to meet the new standards.
In 2014, BaseKit released a report showing that 91% of small business websites are not optimized for mobile use! This year TechCrunch also found that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failed the mobile friendly test. That’s an incredible number, especially for small businesses, but it really doesn’t surprise me. A huge percentage probably has no idea about the new Google mobile policy or that their website may not be mobile-friendly, and those who are aware may not have any idea what to do about it.
Until recently, my old (other) website was not considered to be mobile friendly, even though parts of it were responsive. It was in need of a makeover anyway, so I decided to switch over to a more modern, responsive theme. It took a bit of work because of the amount of customization I wanted, as many things couldn’t easily be transferred from the previous theme, but it was much easier than attempting to modify the code on an old, outdated theme. Not to mention the security issues that come with using an old theme that is no longer supported and updated by the developers.
I’ve had a number of people come to me lately with older websites that they want updated not only to be mobile-friendly, but to also have an updated look. It’s a lot of fun to see the transformation of some of the older sites that are… well… rather drab, dull and boring – seeing them come alive and showcasing the true personality of the business owner.
Click here to check to see if your website is responsive or mobile-friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.
Certainly, there are WordPress plugins that can be used to allow your website to appear to be mobile-friendly (and Google will see it as such), but they are not very attractive. Often, they don’t keep the branding and look of your site. It’s better than nothing, but not in your best interest from a branding and user experience perspective.
According to VisionCritical.com, mobile data traffic is accelerating at 81%. Mobile accounted for 25% of all web usage in 2014. “In short, if you’re still doing business and research only on the web (or offline), you’re missing out.”
Also, 80% of internet users own a smartphone. (Source 2015)
Email Marketing
In 2013, 41% of small businesses were using email to market to customers, a nearly 25% jump from 2012. (Source)
iContact claims that the average return on investment in email marketing is $44.25 for every dollar spent and that consumers who receive email marketing order 28% more often.
However, Unbounce says that 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance and that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, producing, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.
With these statistics, you definitely want to be using email marketing to communicate with your prospects. Therefore, you need an opt-in box on your website, and possibly even a dedicated landing page to send people to. But having just a box that says “Sign up for my newsletter” isn’t enough. Nobody wants more newsletters in their inbox these days. You need to entice them with an irresistible free gift. I’ll talk more about free gifts in a later segment of this Online Marketing series.
The most important thing is to get your website visitors onto your email list so you can continue to communicate with them, educate them, and offer them opportunities to work with you. Otherwise, when they leave your website they are likely lost to you forever. Chances are they will forget all about you and, when they are ready to work with someone like you, they will choose someone else who offered them a free gift in exchange for their email address, and who has been active in communicating with them on a regular basis, educating them and developing that “Know, Like and Trust Factor.”
Need help converting your WordPress website to a mobile-friendly theme or getting your opt-in box and email list set up? Schedule a Complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session with me and we’ll come up with a plan of action to get you pointed in the right direction quickly!
CASL Anti-spam

Are You Compliant With the New CASL Anti-Spam Email Marketing Law?

If you’re Canadian and you’ve been trying to comply with the CAN-SPAM email marketing federal law in the USA, then you’re on the right track, but there’s a new law in town that came into effect on July 1, 2014. This law also applies to anyone in another country sending mail to Canadians, so pay attention!

It’s the CRTC CASL anti-spam legislation, and if you’re participating in email marketing activities, you’re expected to be compliant. And no, ignorance will not save you. If you commit a violation under any sections of six to nine, you may find yourself facing an administrative monetary penalty (AMP). The maximum penalty (AMP) per violation for an individual is $1 million! But wait, for a business the maximum penalty is $10 million. Yikes! Don’t mess with the CASL. Make sure your email marketing is compliant.

Requirements

I’m not going to go through all of the aspects of the CASL, but I will highlight a few important requirements.

The three main requirements are:

  1. Obtain consent
  2. Provide identification information (on all of your emails). You must provide your mailing address. If you have a home business, it does not have to be a home address if you have a post office box number.
  3. Provide an unsubscribe mechanism

There are two types of consent: express and implied.

Implied Consent

Don’t rely on implied consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs). There is a transitional period of 36 months for implied consent beginning July 1, 2014 where there is an existing business or non-business relationship that includes the communication through commercial electronic messages. During this time, you will want to aim to get expressed consent from these people. The transitional period ends at the end of 36 months or when the recipient indicates that they no longer consent to receiving your commercial electronic messages – whichever comes first.

[Edit – this transitional period has now ended]

Express Consent

Express consent does not expire. You may obtain express consent in writing or orally, but the responsibility is on the person sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message. CRTC suggests keeping track of whether consent was obtained orally or in writing, when it was obtained, why it was obtained, and the manner in which it was obtained.

The recordkeeping can be done to a certain extent by setting up your email marketing system with different campaigns/email lists for each method of opting in (recommended method) or being added to your system. Most email marketing companies strive to keep their systems in compliance with spam laws, but it is up to you to make sure your methods and emails are in compliance. Most systems track the date of opting in and confirming, and most require you to use double opt-ins, which is where people must click on a link they receive via email after opting in on your website to confirm they want to be added to your list. If you’re using a system that allows you to use single opt-ins, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of fines if you start receiving spam complaints.

I also recommend using double-opt-in to achieve this. As of 2017, I have added the double-opt-in process back onto all of my opt-ins. Another benefit to this is it helps prevent spammer signups and helps to maintain a higher quality list of prospects.

Pre-Checked Boxes

You cannot presume consent on the part of the end user by using a pre-checked box on a website contact form or purchase form, for example. According to the CRTC, ” Silence or inaction on the part of the end-user also cannot be construed as providing express consent. For example, a pre-checked box cannot be used, as it assumes consent. Rather, express consent must be obtained through an opt-in mechanism, as opposed to opt-out.”

In other words, you may use a blank check box that the user can actively check to opt in, but you may not use a pre-checked box that they have to opt out of.

Business Cards

This is a grey area. You are not allowed to collect business cards and just add the email to your email marketing list and spam them. If someone hands you their business card and tells you that you can add them to your email list or send them newsletters, that is still considered implied consent and you still need to be careful. I used to recommend, at the very least, specifically asking them for permission to add them to your email list. However, with how strict the spam laws have become, now instead of just adding them, I recommend one of the following:

  • You could send them a personal email (not adding them to your email marketing list – use your regular email). Don’t spam them, but remind them of how you met and how you enjoyed talking to them, and ask them if they would be interested in receiving your newsletter and/or promotions. This gives you written proof. If you’re using double opt-in, then you should be safe because they’ll have to confirm their email before they’re added.
  • You could send them a personal email (not adding them to your email marketing list – use your regular email). Don’t spam them, but remind them of how you met and how you enjoyed talking to them, and offer them your irresistible free offer that you have on your website, including a link to your landing page on your website. This, in my opinion, is the best and safest method because you are offering them a gift and you are encouraging them to opt themselves in, and their IP address will be automatically recorded in the email marketing system. I recommend double opt-in.

Sending to Foreign Countries

Also be aware that if you are sending email marketing messages from Canada to another country (for example, the United States), you must be in compliance with the foreign law for that country (ex. CANSPAM).

To learn more about the CASL anti-spam legislation, click here: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm

To learn more about the CAN-SPAM act, click here:
http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

As a Virtual Assistant, I always try to be conscientious about anti-spam laws, and if you are one of my clients, you may have heard some of my warnings before. I will work with you to make sure you are following the rules and that your emails contain all of the requirements.

If you are a business coach or life coach who needs some virtual assistance help in the area of email marketing, I do have several packages available for you, including set-up and newsletter broadcasts. You can set up a Complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session to see if we are a good fit for working together.

 

 

Do I Need An Opt-in Box On My Website?

“Do I Need An Opt-in Box? Why Would I Need an Email List? What System Should I Use?

An opt-in box is important for your website because you can build an email list database of your ideal clients and other interested people. If people are just landing on your website and leaving, you have no way to contact them to lure them back. If you can collect their email addresses, you can send updates and e-zines/newsletters full of valuable information and tips. It’s a great way to keep in touch and let others know what is happening with your business! The more you put yourself in front of your potential clients, the greater the chance they will remember you and your services.

Opt-in boxes are created through email management programs such as 1Shopping Cart (and private labels), AWeber, iContact, Constant Contact, MailChimp and InfusionSoft, just to name a few. Which one you choose really depends on what level your business is at now and your potential needs. The systems vary in price and services.

MailChimp is free and has a lot of great features, but it is very restrictive in that you must upgrade to be able to use autoresponder messages (emails set up in a series to send automatically after someone opts in), and MailChimp does not allow you to market affiliate products and services. According to the terms of service, doing so can cause your account to be seized and you may lose your entire email database.

AWeber, iContact and Constant Contact are some that are used for general email marketing and newsletters.

InfusionSoft offers every feature you can imagine and is crazy expensive. It is a really great platform. I generally recommend upgrading to this once you are making $10,000 per month or close to it. I’ve seen too many coaches get talked into using this too soon when they aren’t making enough money in their business to be able to support the cost. Then they end up downgrading to something more affordable. In doing this, you’ve lost the $1500-2000 set up fee, and if your business grows later on and you decide to go back, you’ll have to pay that all over again.

If Infusionsoft is just too expensive for you at this point in your business, you may consider Ontreport (some similar features to Infusionsoft but less expensive) and 1ShoppingCart. In many cases, if you need an all-in-one system with email autoresponders, a shopping cart system and possibly an affiliate system, 1ShoppingCart will do what you need at a much more affordable price. Most of my clients use either 1ShoppingCart or Infusionsoft.

The last thing you really want to do is to start a list with one system and then have to move it because it’s not serving you well. Sometimes it is necessary to do that because your business grows or changes in a way that you couldn’t have anticipated earlier on. The biggest problem is that you could lose a percentage of your subscribers in the process due to mandatory double opt-ins of some of the systems. If you do choose to move your large list via single opt-in, do check with the company you are transferring to. Make sure you meet their requirements and that your account won’t be flagged as suspicious.  Otherwise, you risk losing your list.  Because of the actions and abuse by some users, it sometimes causes problems for innocent users as well.

You never want to do your email marketing through your regular email account (ex. Gmail, your regular domain/hosting email, etc.). Not only is this inefficient, but it can get you into trouble with the CANSPAM CASL laws. The email marketing systems have measures in place to prevent both them and you from getting into trouble. These measures often consist of double opt-in, a spam score, displaying your company name and mailing address, privacy statement, disclaimers, and the option to automatically unsubscribe.

If you’re not sure what type of system you need for your business, you should do some in-depth research into the features of each one, or consult with a knowledgeable Virtual Assistant and have them automate the process for you.

Need help? Check out my Email Marketing Services or schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session below.

 

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