Effective Messaging
No. 95
February, 2014

Lots of big deals this month.

First there's the opens rate from the last issue--32%. I had to go all the way back to October, 2009 to see such a big number. In real people, that means 67 more readers than in December. Perhaps it was the subject line--I Did It! Or maybe it was general enthusiasm for the New Year. In any event, thanks for opening Web Words.

The first article talks about a party that was definitely a big deal. The story features Constant Contact's invite program--EventSpot.

Transformative technology is the subject of the second article, in which I reflect about the machines that have changed my life.

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In This Issue
Big Party Invite - EventSpot makes the day
Transformative Technology - Latest and greatest
Web Tips - Storehouse
Free Consulting
Big Party Invite
My sister-in-law Gail turned 75 last month and we staged a celebration for her at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA. The event featured great food and performances by attendees, including the guest of honor.

Invitations were by EventSpot, the Constant Contact event product. Gail is an actor and has recently discovered a clowning workshop called Nose to Nose. The party was also a fund raiser for her to attend Clown2. (That explains the photo.)

EventSpot has three elements: an invitation, a registration and a webpage. It tracks responses, allows you to print a list of attendees and makes it easy to remind people of the event via email.

The Elements

To start, you fill out a form with answers to the obvious questions--where, when, what, cost etc. The system works for online events, too. Then you have a choice of what to create next.

All the elements are optional. If yours is an open event and you don't need to know who is coming, you might just want the webpage. If, like ours, you want RSVP's, but it's a closed invitation list, then you can skip the webpage and just use the invitation. The elements you choose to use are all customized to the same theme so they match.

As with email marketing, Constant Contact has a huge selection of pre-designed themes that include specific events like Halloween and Father's Day, general templates for business or charity events, personal celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries and then some all-purpose templates that will do for anything. It was easy to find a theme that everyone liked.

The registration form has check boxes for information you might want to collect from attendees, or you can choose to customize your questions. For example, if your event is pot luck, you can ask people to list what they are bringing. If there is a charge for your event, you can collect online via credit card or PayPal, ask for checks by mail or payment at the door.

The event webpage is hosted by Constant Contact with text and images to help promote your event. If you include a webpage, it will be the first stop for registrants. Otherwise, invitees will get an email invite with a link to the registration form.

If you'd like to try EventSpot, be in touch. I'm still looking for six new customers, so my offer of an hour's free consulting is available. And the system is so easy, that's probably all the help you'll need.


We got lots of positive feedback from the attendees--they loved the party. They liked the invite, too. And Gail was so happy with the email process that she asked me to help her send an electronic thank you. And yes, she's going to advanced clown school in April.
Transformative Technology
Remember back to the turn of the century when you got your first cell phone? How long did it take you to recognize that it was a transformative technology?

The exact moment I realized it was November, 1999, and I was late for a mud bath in Calistoga, CA. I was totally lost. I wandered around for a while and then said out loud--"I have a cell phone!" In minutes the spa receptionist talked me right into the parking lot.

Looking back

Other technologies before that were transformative. I got my first Fax machine when I was consulting in New York City in the mid '80s and was planning a business trip to Europe. I still remember staring wide eyed as a map of a meeting venue spewed itself from the machine.

Then, of course, there was the first computer--my 100-day Macintosh in early 1984. (Apple's stated objective was to sell 50,000 machines in the first 100 days after launch.) The machine couldn't do much--there were only two programs for it, Write and Paint. But the graphical user interface was a game changer.

You need to fast forward all the way to December, 2013, to reach the next transformative technology in my life--the iPad Air. Just as I had done when I saw Steve Jobs introduce the Macintosh, I knew I wanted one when I saw his introduction of the iPad in 2010. But I didn't make the purchase, largely because I wasn't clear about how I would use it. I had a smart phone, a desktop computer and a laptop. What more did I need?

But when the Air was introduced, my desire overwhelmed my resistance.

The Latest

The iPad is transformative not in spite of but because of the use question. It keeps asking: How can you use me to make your life easier and better?

Originally, I thought a tablet was just for looking things up on the web and reading email. True, it's much easier to do these things on a larger screen, but that's not this skinny little computer's mission. It means to change your life.

This transformation takes place in two ways. First, use it to simplify and improve the things you do every day. The promise of going paperless has been long in coming, but it's an attainable goal with the iPad. I'm weaning myself from my spiral notebook and other paper-intensive habits. Of course, you need a keyboard for this. I have a snappy little number from Belkin that works well.

Second, check out recommended apps for productivity and entertainment. This list will keep you busy for a long time.
Web Tips


Viewing photos and videos on an iPad is a whole new experience. Wouldn't it be great to group images into stories--photos, videos and text--and store them or share them? Former Apple evangelist Mark Kawano allows you to do just that with Storehouse. This content creation tool supports up to 50 photos and videos in each story.

Media can be imported from your photo library, Dropbox, Flickr or Instagram and shared via email, Facebook or Twitter. The user interface is pretty intuitive and there's a short tutorial that appears when you first sign on. The app includes tools to scale and crop photos. Storehouse is free, but it does require a login account to get started.

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.
Free Consulting 
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I'm thrilled to have met my Constant Contact quota for 2013, and now I get to do it all over again.

I need six new customers in the first half of 2014. That means six people will get an hour's free consulting from me when they sign up for Constant Contact.

Current customers get the same deal if they add a product to their account. This could be EventSpot, Social Campaigns or Survey.

Let me know how I can help you with Constant Contact.

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