Effective Messaging
No. 88
July, 2013

It's high season here in the Berkshires. That means there are more possible activities in a day than one could realistically do in a week. The energy is kinetic. The tourists are here. I've seen many fabulous programs and only a few I could have done without. And there's more to come.

But Mercury has been in retrograde since June 26. I don't usually pay much attention to this astrological phenomenon, but these past weeks might make me a believer. There have been countless losses, mostly recovered, like a coffee mug here and a jacket there. There was also a catastrophic loss of my beloved cell phone by drowning. Think the worst.

And my website provider suddenly stopped hosting my site. I will recover from this soon, but for today and tomorrow at least, the links to my site in this newsletter won't work. But the rest of the links will be fine.

This issue has some turbulence of its own. The first article is a reminder of some online communication basics that I should heed myself. The second article is about a major upgrade at Constant Contact. Likely to be a good thing in the end, but upgrades are usually chaotic. No exception here.

Finally, we got this nice comment from  Rochelle Seltzer: "I love the way you quoted me [in the June issue]. Thanks, and I hope the message gets through to your readers. If you get any feedback I'd be happy to hear about it."

Enjoy your summer.

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In This Issue
Note to Self: Take your own advice
Major Upgrade - Contacts & reports
Web Tips - MakeUseOf
Stay in Touch
Note to Self
Do as I say
I give good advice. I should follow it more often. Three cases in point.

Subject Lines

Loyal Web Words readers know my feelings about subject lines. They are very important and they are very challenging. My advice about them is "think ahead." As you're preparing your newsletter or blog, keep the subject line top of mind.

It would have been great if I had taken this advice last month. Then instead of "Privacy" as my subject line, I would have used "Private." I thought of this an hour after I pushed the "send" button.

Would it have mattered? I can't tell for sure, but last month didn't get as good an opens rate as May ("The Finale.") And "Private" is rather intriguing.

Speaking of good advice, Constant Contact recommends that you test subject lines. Do this by dividing your list in half and sending the same newsletter to each list with a different subject line. I haven't taken this advice either.

Idea List

"Keep a list of ideas for articles" is the first thing I tell my clients. Keep it wherever is most convenient--on your phone, your computer, a notebook. Use any organized place you can count on to be there when you need it. Do I do this? Well, not exactly.

I do have a list on my computer called "For Future Issues." And I do use it, but nowhere near enough. The idea for this article came to me right after I published the June Web Words. So I wrote it on a piece of paper, which got confused with a lot of other pieces of paper. Fortunately, I found it in time. But I think there's another idea floating around somewhere, and I have no idea where it is.

I also urge people to write complete notes. A two-word reminder might not be enough weeks later. Be sure you flesh out the idea thoroughly enough to actually be able to write the article when the time comes.

Backup Articles

I also recommend keeping a few "evergreen" articles at the ready. That way if something unexpected happens in your life, you can still meet your schedule. I actually did this, but only because I wrote an article and then decided not to publish it. That was accidental. I need to do this on purpose.

So, do as I say, not as I do.
Major Upgrade
The only people who like change are wet babies! The rest of us resist it.

So you can imagine my reaction when Constant Contact announced major changes to the contacts and reporting elements of their system. The upgrade is currently being rolled out to subscribers.

Back in the days when I was doing computer stuff for a living, I used to be great at pushing systems to their limits and zeroing in on key problems. Nothing has changed. I began my investigation of the new environment with my monthly review of bounced emails. It said I had 20. I printed the list and counted 15 names. Now I'm not great at math, but even I knew there was something really wrong. It turns out that the redesigned selection button doesn't default to "all bounced emails." Likely they will change this. And, fortunately, they are actively looking for feedback on the new system.

What else is new?

This is a major redesign of the back-end management element of Constant Contact that has not changed significantly since I first started using the system over seven years ago. The intention is to provide a fully functional contact management system. The changes allow Constant Contact users to direct their communications to an interested audience. The new tools make it easier to identify engaged readers and to target offerings to specific subscribers. A new feature called "tags" allows users to send emails to segments of their population--men or women, for example.

Also, complete information is included about each subscriber. As I was looking at the bounced emails, I could see who had opened recent emails and even who had clicked on links. This information is helpful in deciding whether to seek out a new email address or just remove the contact. While you could get this previously, it took several clicks.

Rolling out a major redesign is something the computer industry has struggled with since its inception. Constant Contact trained a special team of experts to deal with customer questions. That's the good news. The bad news is the demand for their assistance was so high that I was kept on hold for 20 minutes--not their usual standard.

Constant Contact offers a detailed introduction to the changes as well as frequent webinars on the topic. If you use the system, check this out and be patient with the learning curve. Be in touch if you'd like to talk about creative ways to use email marketing.


Web Tips



Ever wonder where I get all the cool Web Tips I offer here every month? I've got several sources, but one of the best is MakeUseOf, self-described as "a booming daily blog that features cool websites, computer tips, and downloads that make you more productive. The aim of MakeUseOf is to guide you through the web and tell you about hot websites that you have never heard of, best software programs, and all kinds of "how to" tips."

Some of the articles are very technical and very specific. But others, like the recent "6 Ways To Learn Something New Online Everyday" are useful for everyone. 

And Finally . . .

Shawenon Communications collaborates with small businesses, solopreneurs, professionals and not-for-profits to get their messages across in the written word.

We specialize in electronic communications, including e-zines and other forms of email marketing, Web sites and social media.  We also ghostwrite articles and other business communications. As a solution provider, we resell www.shawenon.com



First name
Susanna Opper
Shawenon Communications

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Stay in Touch 
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It's summer and we often ease off on business communication when the days get long and hot. But it's still good to stay in touch with your important contacts. For that you  need Constant Contact.

Be in touch to learn how your list can help you grow your business.

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