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April 2009

Q&A's on The Best AWeber Strategies & Tactics for Small Businesses E-training

Time to publicly answer some questions I've been receiving over the last few weeks:

What is AWeber Autoresponder?

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AWeber is an online software program you can use for your email marketing. From sending out your email newsletter weekly, monthly or even daily to - sometimes even more effective - automating your sales messages through the autoresponder (follow-up) feature. It is a great marketing tool that delivers automatic e-mail responses, updates, offers, and instant messages.
AWeber's autoresponder puts an online OR offline business on Auto-Pilot. The Autoresponder works tirelessly, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week/ 365 days a year.

With the AWeber online software, you will be able to:

  • set up unlimited campaigns
  • unlimited messages
  • spam checker
  • text or html-based messages
  • create blog-alerts every time you publish a new post
  • manage your subscribers
  • accessible from every where you have access to the Internet.

Why AWeber is so powerful:
Ensuring requested opt-in email is delivered to subscriber inboxes is an increasingly difficult battle in the age of spam filtering. Open and click through response rates can be dramatically affected by as much as 20-30% due to incorrect spam filter classification.

Confirming that the people who ask for your information have actually requested to be on your list is the number one step in the battle for deliverability. AWeber is using a process called confirmed opt-in or verified opt-in to send a unique link to the attempted subscriber when they request information. Before adding the person to your list they must click that unique link verifying that they are indeed the same person that owns the email address and requested to subscribe. Plus AWeber itself (their email server that sends out all your messages in your name) is White-listed - ensuring an almost 99.9% deliverability.

I'm thinking about using AWeber, is this E-training for me?

STOP PRESS! Special "December 2009 Only" offer - receive over 50% discount this month!

Read more....


1 program - (at least) 5 methods to publish your content

As small business in a niche market and followers of the Givers Gain principle I write a lot/create content about:

  • our products,
  • our services,
  • our solutions,
  • our preferred methods of installing and/or maintaining your wood floor,
  • what to be aware of when you have underfloor heating
  • etc etc

We use our FAQ blog, our website, PDF files, AWeber autoresponder and printed reports to 'publish' this content. And then I'm not even talking about my 'second career' over at "1 Plus 1 Makes 3", where I write about Web marketing tools for Small Businesses.

The programs I used before to create this content varied from MS Word to writing 'live' online in the blog platforms or autoresponder software. Copy/pasting directly from Word can create havoc with formatting, so frequently when I have existing content in one program I have to copy/paste it to notepad, then into the other software and 're-format'. Not so handy.

SsexportSince last year August I've been increasingly using ScreenSteps Pro (aff) from Blue Mango Learning Systems. In this single program I create that specific content I need for various methods of publishing: blog posts and PDF-files mainly. (Our growing list of wood-guides are created with it, and so are various short 'how to...lessons' for my blog-workshop students.)

The real beauty of ScreenSteps Pro (desktop) is that you only have to create your content once and are given at least 3 options to publish your content: PDF, blog-post (all main blog platforms covered) and HTML-pages. For instance one 'lesson' in a manual can be exported as blog-post where the whole manual can also be 'exported' as PDF file.

If for one reason or the other your content needs editing, the changed document/blog-post/html-page will be 'exported' to your selected medium again, overwriting the 'old' one.

The snapshot (right) of the export function in ScreenSteps Pro shows a 4 method - ScreenSteps Live.

ScreenSteps Live is an additional product with the Desktop that allows you to host your content in "manuals" on the ScreenSteps Live server. And a manual contain 'lessons'.

Now, "lessons" can be interpreted in many ways. For small businesses who answer questions from prospect/clients - the customer service or technical department comes to mind - it can be 'instructions of use', how to.. documentation, up to a whole list of FAQs. For training businesses - software training up to English grammar training - a lesson can be just that: a lesson in the study.

Imagine your customer service department having to answer the same question over and over again. Wouldn't it be nice, practical, effective, efficient and evidence of good customer care to simply direct the client to that specific lesson online? It is proven that correct and accurate documentation available to clients reduces the number of times your customer service department is called again by the same client still struggling with the same question.

The beauty of ScreenStepd Pro (desktop) and Live is that new lessons are created in no time at all and as soon as the lesson is ready it is uploaded and added to the index - with one simple click on a button: Export to...

Last week I've taken the step to add ScreenSteps Live to my SS Desktop, and today Blue Mango launched the ScreenSteps 2.5 Candidate - with more features, benefits and ease of use. Over at 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 I'm in the process of creating the Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses and a pre-view of some of the tactics can be viewed on ScreenSteps Live by those who registered for my pre-launch news.

Both ScreenSteps Pro and ScreenSteps Live receive my very own K.i.S.S. award - it makes my live as 'web marketing toolbox maker' so much easier!

Kissawardbutton1

And what about the title of this post? It mentions (at least) 5 methods. The 5th method I discovered this morning: adding AWeber to the 'publishing' options of ScreenSteps Pro. But that, as they say, is a completely different story I will come back to later (and if you subscribe to the pre-launch news for the Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses you will have a excellent chance to hear it sooner ;-))

Learn more about ScreenSteps

Blue Mango Learning System will hold an 'early' webinar (early for the US, just after noon over here, thanks Greg) on ScreenSteps Desktop for new Users:

Tuesday 28 April 9am Eastern = 2pm BST


The back door - again

I've mentioned it here before: are you leaving the back door to your material (E-books, reports, white papers) or even products (software, access keys to online programs, training, studies) wide open to clever but dishonest web surfers?

BackDoor Last week I asked AWeber users (over at the 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 blog) if they were willing to take part in a little survey about one part of the subscribers process: Default (AWeber's) or Custom (create you own on your website, blog) Thank You Page new subscribers are directed to once they submit their name and email address in the webform.

The results are - as they say- in: and shockingly 50% of contributors seem to do just that: leaving the back door wide open!

Read the complete post on the results and if you need a simple solution to close your back door you can request access to the preview lessons on The Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses there too.


Kent 2009 Ecommerce in Kent Awards - in with a chance?

ICELAB Through a contact in the LinkedIn Group Kent we learned about the Kent 2009 Ecommerce in Kent Awards. Our secure webshop is nominated (9th listing on the nominees page). The award is sponsored by Icelab.

Are we in with a chance? We might if we attract votes of course (hint, hint).

Perhaps I should tell you about the many products and accessories available in our web shop - all with their specific and informative product description, or about the 7 different delivery charges we have added - and which our clients can select themselves - instead of "one or two options suit all". Or the 4 different payment options we offer, from debit card to BAC's payment.

Perhaps this story will be in our favour? Two weeks ago our web shop received an order from one the largest wood-flooring manufacturers in Europe (at the moment we cannot tell you the name, nor the product they bought). We knew it would be used for a first test to see if this innovative finishing product would enhance their own products.

Delivery of the order was arranged in cooperation with the inventors of this eco-friendly product and within 7 days the goods were received in good order. We know this because we've checked on it - as focused on customer relationship businesses do. With the positive answer also came the request for a quotation for a very large quantity of the same product. And of course we will do our utmost best to give our best quotation for mutual benefit.

We are 'only' a small retailer in rural Kent UK, our secure web shop attracts (repeat) business not only from Kent, South East England, the whole of England, Scotland and Wales, in other words the whole of the UK - but also from renowend large corporations in Northern Europe (other retailers normally sell their products - are client, not supplier).

In with a chance? Can I ask you kindly to vote for us?


Two questions, one recommendation

  1. Are you a (small) business in Kent?
  2. Do you have a LinkedIn profile?

LinkedinKent If so, why not join the LinkedIn Group "Kent" and work, network, discuss and share news with other Kent located (small) businesses? It is a lively group with plenty of discuss topics weekly.

Contacts are made easily, no matter if you're looking for new contacts, leads, clients or quality suppliers or advisers. At the moment there are 135 members already but the more the merrier of course.

Through the group I've already come in contact (by starting a "discussion") with a regional National Trust and with two independent Kent based Estate Agents. Introductions like these make growing your business more easy.


How to......... free book

The title of the book I'm going to recommend below is too long to put in the title of the post, but here goes:

HowtoGunterShorten "How to Fill your Small Business with Non-Stop Customers, Money, Success and Growth... Leave Every Single one of your Competitors Scratching their Head to the Bone.. and Create Great, Great Personal Wealth Quickly!"
by Paul Gunter and Andrew Shorten.

Don't let the modern long title fool you, or come to think of it, the 'volume' of the book - 'only' 80 pages.
It is a good read, simple and straight forward. It contains one of my all time favourite quotes: "Good Fortune is what happens when planning meets opportunity". (You do make your own luck.)

Although thin (what's 80 pages nowadays, my own d├ębut business novel contains 168) and happily without any 'credit-crunching' references like we seem to be bombarded with today, I would even go so far as to state:
It's "Good to Great" in a nutshell.

And it is (still) offered for free, no catches. (Just a tiny fee for P&P and it is delivered extremely quickly too, mine arrived 1 day after claiming my own free copy)


Imminent launch of The Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses

Iloveaweberbutton The affiliate image explains it all: I love AWeber ;-) (What else is new I hear you ask).

Last year I started creating a Guide on AWeber for small businesses, but early on realised I'd selected a medium for it that wasn't really effective. The first part - of a total planned 5 parts - contained a 59 minute long Camtasia video. The problem: two weeks after I launched part 1 AWeber changed - many items for the better - the lay-out, options and plenty more in the program, rendering my 59 minute video out of date immediately.

Part 2 to 5 were never 'recorded'. Since January this year I've been working on an AWeber guide again, but this time in a 'upgrade' proof medium. The e.t.a. of this guide: The Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses is end of this month.

Over at my 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 dynamic and interactive website (aka blog) I've already published two articles about the coming new guide:

When 'failure' turns into innovation = win-win (explaining more about the 'failure' of last years attempt)
and today:
There's more to the submit forms that meets the eye - one single form to drive multiple AW lists.

In both articles you can submit your name and email address to be kept up to date on more news about the imminent launch.