Effective Messaging
No. 99
June, 2014

Last month's newsletter made my dreams come true. I always wanted to gets lots of emails in response to Web Words. I heard from close friends and distant acquaintances, but next time I don't want emergency surgery to be the cause. Still it was great to get nearly 30 responses. And the opens rate soared as well--all the way up to 37%.

I'm recovering really well, but we're still struggling with health issues. This time it's my husband Will. But he's going to get a pacemaker soon and that should have him back to his usual, energetic self.

This issue's first article is a rant with a happy ending. I've been plagued with system upgrades that are really downgrades. Let me know if you've noticed this trend in your technology.

The second article is a Success Story. I haven't done one of these in quite a while. Here are two of my favorites from past issues: Unexpected and  What's It Worth?  

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In This Issue
Upgrades - New and improved?
Success Story - Entrepreneur and Host
Web Tips - Navigating the Web
June 30 Deadline
Maybe it's in the stars or there's some special two-for-one sale going on, but vendors seem to be upgrading a lot these days. At least they call it upgrading. New and improved is a catch word for manufacturers making changes in their products that are advertised as improvements for the customer, but skeptics believe are really better for the vendor.

The Bad

Let's start with Verizon's new voice mail system installed around these parts a few months back. The new system requires the user to do routine tasks with one to two more steps than previously. And messages begin automatically with the caller's phone number. This might be helpful at the end of the call, but unless you've memorized the phone number of everyone you know, it's not too useful at the beginning. Though different in some ways, no feature is an improvement, at least not that anyone in this household can find.

More frustrating still--Weather Underground--my favorite weather provider spiffed up their system. Now not only can I not find my weather, but the site doesn't come up on my phone about half the time. Previously the maps had a nice little star where I lived so I could check out each and every raindrop. I could easily tell if it was OK to go for a walk or weed the garden. No more.

Then there's the new automated medical system. I'm all for it in principle, but the implementation--not so much. As research for this article, I checked my online system. Do you think it mentioned that I had emergency abdominal surgery? Nope. Even though the first question on any medical form is "Have you had any surgeries?" Then they want to know when. Maybe I won't remember the date years from now, but it would be in the system. There are a bunch of test results from that hospital visit, but nothing I can make any sense of. If they are going to do it, why not explain the results to the patient? And here's my final question: If all this information is in the computer, why do you still need to fill out all those forms when you visit a new doctor?

The Good

A few months back, Constant Contact started rolling out their new customer interface called Toolkit. It really is a lot easier and more intuitive to use--truly new and improved. They also added two new tiers of service. They kept the original Basic email marketing product and added Essential that includes the full suite of Constant Contact products and Ultimate that includes business consulting.  The change allows the company to increase their services to larger customers without changing their commitment to very small businesses. Let me know if you'd like to know more.
Success Story
Entrepreneur and Host
When I first met Joanna Krotz we were both writing for the now defunct Berkshire Living Magazine. Just as people often recognize their romantic soul mates instantly, Joanna and I recognized each other as professional soul mates right away. We both had corporate experience communicating about technology. And we each had wandered down various career paths, reinventing ourselves more than once along the way.

New Role

So no surprise that on May 1, Joanna moved from writer to broadcaster. She launched a weekly LIVE Web radio show called The Woman's Playbook by and for women entrepreneurs. It airs every Thursday from 12 - 1 pm, Eastern, on Talking Alternative Broadcasting, a NYC network that specializes in hosting professional shows for professional audiences. She also set up after-show podcasts on her website and on iTunes.

To reel in listeners and develop an audience that would attract sponsors, she needed e-news alerts about the show and a marketing list. "The first and only person I thought of to help with the Constant Contact process was Susanna," Joanna says.  "I called and left a voice mail. A day later, I got the return call from Susanna--from her hospital bed. [If you missed that story, you can check it out here.]

Free Consulting

"We set a phone consultation for late on Mother's Day Sunday --entrepreneurs don't take holidays--because I needed to get up and running before my Thursday show," Joanna says. "We talked about the design and how to handle my database. With Susanna's help and consultation, I was good to go in an hour.  She even found a Constant Contact template that mirrored my branding . I'm now sending out good-looking, weekly show announcements. Open rates are running 30% to 40%. Considering these are 'coming attractions' for the week's show rather than tips or strategies, it's working well. The listener base is building--especially now that I'm also on iTunes."

You can have one of those free consulting hours, too. With all the health challenges going on around here, I'm a little behind in my June 30 quota quest. And Constant Contact is sweetening the pot with a free campaign design. If you have even a whisper of interest, this is the time to be in touch.
Web Tips


Here are some general tips about using the Web.

Have you ever been looking at a Web page and all of a sudden an unwanted ad pops up? Look for an X in one of the right hand corners. Click that and it will usually go away.

Remember that most of the time, you don't need to waste time typing www before the URL. Also, if your browser is up to date, the URL address bar doubles as a search bar. Just type your search string in there and press "enter."

To be safe, never log into one of your accounts from an email. This could be phishing--bad guys looking to get access to your accounts. Instead, log into your account directly from your browser. If there's anything the institution wants you to know, there will be a message on their site.

Finally, remember that even safe, "legitimate" software will sometimes imbed other software in their install. Always check carefully when downloading software or upgrading to be sure there aren't any checks in checkboxes for things you don't want.  

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.
June 30 Deadline 
Mauve SO headshot
It's a rush to the close. I don't want to plead, but I still need some new customers by the end of the second quarter. If you want people to know what you do, you need Constant Contact.
You'll get free consulting and a free campaign design.

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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