“Web on the Go”

We had such a good time leading the training class “Web on the Go” for NAWBO Tucson yesterday! We discussed the mobile marketplace, consumer behavior, smart phone technology and building a mobile website. We look forward to our follow up workshop on October 12, 2010. In the October workshop, we’ll be continuing our discussion on the need for mobile friendly websites while providing a hands on site building workshop using CafePepper.

Welcome CafePepper!

CafePepper - mobile sites mad easy

This week we welcome an exciting new product to the PepperStation family: CafePepper!  CafePepper creates fantastic web sites for the iPhone and other mobile devices.  Powered by our trusty Spirit platform, CafePepper allows you to put your best site forward for the surging mobile phone market.

Why mobile?  Two reasons:
First – Internet searches on mobile devices are skyrocketing!
Second –  Because we were SO tired of looking at websites on our phone and not being able get the information we needed.  A typical “full screen” website is not optimized for a mobile device, leaving us frustrated as we tried to surf the Internet on our phones.  CafePepper makes creating terrific mobile sites easy and even a little fun with great features like click-to-call and click-to-map.  We are super excited to offer this service that connects you with your customers on the mobile web and we hope you’ll be excited too.

Check it out!  cafepepper.com . Let us know what you think! :-)

Create great mobile sites with CafePepper.com

Creating an email marketing strategy

Now is a great time to put the new year in focus and create your email marketing plan. Start by outlining what you want to communicate and how often. You can look to 2009 for inspiration to see what worked with your previous email campaigns and what did not.

The topics you select need to build awareness of your business in a way that is relevant and engaging to your audience. Seems obvious, right? However, a common peril in writing newsletters is to focus on how great you are… Well unfortunately, unless your audience is compelled to learn how great you are, your hard earned mailing list will certainly dwindle. Mapping out your email marketing plan allows you to not only identify the topics you wish to cover in order to create a compelling newsletter, it also helps prepare you to actually write each newsletter.

Let me explain. When you create an outline of each article you will write in the coming months, the material you surround yourself with every day to remain an expert in your field will jump out at you. Save the articles and posts from your industry resources that are important and relevant to your audience. Not only will you stop wasting time digging through industry resources, but you will be more prepared to easily create and share valuable articles for your readers.
A few points to keep in mind:

  • Articles should not take too much time to read. In fact, you can (and should) link back to your site or blog for further reading and related information. The click report in Constant Contact is a great way to see what articles your audience finds interesting.
  • Do not bombard your audience with too many mailings. Monthly campaigns work well in most situations and bi-weekly is appropriate for some. Send more than twice a month and you will risk annoying your readers, send less than every 1-2 months and you risk losing your value.
  • Remember, be an expert and a resource. Create content surrounding topics that are valuable and engaging to your audience.

Sending out regular email newsletters is one of the most powerful marketing strategies you can do to grow your business. Creating a thoughtful outline of your campaigns will keep you better prepared and set you up for success in the coming year. Good Luck!

Top Ten Things you should know about social media

1. Social Media is the new “word of mouth” marketing.
2. Social Media is an opportunity for you to have two-way conversations with your customers.
3. You can find out what your customer thinks about your brand without the expensive focus groups and research – they’ll tell you… and each other!
4. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the “Top Stars”, there are many other services on which you can connect to your customer as well!
5. Blogging is another form of social media – and a great way to generate traffic from the search engines!
6. Your content needs to be more than a sales pitch – use social media to give them information and gain their trust.
7. While social media allows you to be personal and professional with your customers, you should keep your personal and professional pages separate.
8. You can reach your customers with exclusive deals or information and should have a clear plan on how – make them feel like they are “in the loop” with their favorite products!
9. Be sure to let the world know you are on social media sites, via your website, publications, menus, advertisements – wherever you reach your customers!
10. You can start small, but you MUST start somewhere.

DID YOU KNOW that Facebook has 350 Million users and 100 Million of those are in the U.S.? The average user spends 55 minutes per day on Facebook – imagine capturing some of that time for YOUR business!

Stay tuned as we will be exploring these topics in more detail in the weeks to come.

Spirit Commerce now supports “SoftGoods” product download

Spirit Commerce now includes SoftGood support, or the ability to purchase down-loadable products.

Selling music, ebooks, videos, guides and games just got easier! SoftGoods is a great way to save you and your customers shipping and handling costs too.

We built this feature on top of Amazon’s S3 service to provide very reliable, fast, and secure downloads of your products.  Use your own Amazon S3 account and get set up in just a few minutes.

A few notes on the SoftGoods feature:

  • SoftGoods (files) are stored and downloaded from Amazon S3 (simple storage service).
  • Download availability time span may be set per product.
  • Configurable download product links and description appear on the order confirmation page and confirmation emails.
  • SoftGood support is included with all Spirit Commerce plans.
  • To enable SoftGood support, click on the store tab and then select the new SoftGood page. Once you enable the feature, your products screen will include a new section to support product download.

    To learn more about Amazon S3 or to set up an account visit: Amazon S3

    We hope you enjoy the new feature and find it a useful tool for growing your online sales.
    Three Cheers to simplifying your order fulfillment! :)

    “Almost Pretty” permalinks for your WordPress blog

     

    UPDATE:   We now support “Pretty” permalinks for your WordPress website.
    See:  Pretty permalinks for your WordPress site

     

    Permalinks are the links you can share with others and the search engines for your blog posts.  From a search engine performance point of view, links to your site or blog that contain keywords relevant to your page’s content, will boost the ranking performance of that page with the search engines.  By default WordPress uses “ugly” permalinks which look something like: http://example.com/?p=N

    These links while functional, do not have an added benefit of loading your link with keywords for viewer and search engine consumption.  The preferred permalink is the “Pretty” or “Almost Pretty” variety which allow you to create and share links with keywords in them and look like this: http://example.com/index.php/yyyy/mm/dd/post-name/

    Read more about permalinks on the wordpress site at: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

    To create links for your blog containing keywords, log onto your WordPress admin and goto settings->permalinks.  Select a common link structure that you wold like to use and then modify it by adding /index.php to the beginning in the ‘custom structure’ field.  You will have a link structure that looks like: /index.php/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/

    That’s it, you are good to go and now have links that contain great keywords for your blog post.

    Happy blogging –

    Steve

    Cookie support added to Spirit

    We added cookies to Spirit 3.4.  No, not chocolate chip or oatmeal-raisin, but rather the kind that allow you to link your static website or pages to our shopping cart.  Previously, without cookies, if your visitor started their shopping experience, then they could not leave the spirit system or their cart and checkout information would be lost.  This was not a problem for most folks as Spirit runs their entire site.  A few of you however have had scenarios where cookies were needed to simplify your life.  Well, now you have it!

    To enable cookies, simply log into the admin and select the store tab and scroll down to the ‘cart & checkout’ settings. Check the ‘enable cookies’ check box and you are good to go.  Spirit maintains one cookie which keeps cart and customer IDs only. No other information is stored in our cookies so you can feel safe about turning them on for your site.

    Happy baking!

    Steve

    Tucson email marketing seminars

    December 17th is the last chance to catch our email marketing seminars this month. Two different seminars available:

    Power of Email Marketing

    In just a few short hours, this information packed seminar will show you how email marketing – the hands-on, low-cost marketing tool – can really help you drive your business success. Discover how communicating with your customers regularly can help you stay connected, and generate increased referrals, repeat sales, and unwavering customer loyalty.

    You’ll learn how to start and build a strong permission-based customer list… get your audience to open, read and act on your email… and use your past results to sharpen your email marketing program as you go along.

    This practical program gives you a concise, but comprehensive overview of how easy it is to create and send professional-looking email newsletters and promotions.

    intended audience: Comprehensive Core Knowledge
    Suitable for All Experience Levels.

    location:

    5151 E Broadway5151 E. Broadway Suite 1600
    Tucson, AZ 85711


    NEXT SEMINAR

    date: Wednesday, December 17th
    time: 9am to 12pm
    cost: $39! ($29 for non-profit. Repeat attendance is Free.)

    Register for The Power of Email Marketing today!

    Constant Contact 101

    This workshop saves you time by allowing you to quickly and easily master the entire Constant Contact system. We’ll present some of the fundamentals of effective email marketing and demonstrate how to build effective communications using the Constant Contact system.

    You’ll learn how to set up account options, add signup boxes to your website and emails, load a list, build a campaign, brand your email to match websites and logos. You’ll also learn how to develop content, determine what is valuable to your customers, get your email opened, and track results.

    intended audience: Best for Trial and New Users. Perfect seminar for those who use Constant Contact and would benefit from an in-person demonstration.

    location:

    5151 E Broadway5151 E. Broadway Suite 1600
    Tucson, AZ 85711


    NEXT SEMINAR

    date: Wednesday, December 17th
    time: 1pm to 3pm
    cost: $39! ($29 for non-profit. Repeat attendance is Free.)

    Register for Constant Contact 101 today!

    See you there!
    Steve

    getting your email opened – the “from” line

    60% of consumers say the “from” line determines whether they open an email or delete it.


    email \"from\" line

    So, here are a few tip on making past this critical test from your recipients:

  • Use a name that your audience will recognize.
  • Include your organization name or brand.
  • Refer to your business in the same way your audience does.
  • Be cautious about using employee names/email addresses as these may change over time.
  • Use a email address your audience will recognize. Not all email clients will display a “from” name, rather they will display the “from” email address. Make sure this address is also understandable.
  • Be consistent
  • 50 Social Sites Your Business Should Be On

    When it comes to marketing on the internet and increasing your site’s visibility, blogs and social sites provide you with great opportunity to network and create inlinks back to your site. Take advantage of these tools by getting your company’s presence online. The result? Reaching more potential customers, business partners and employees, not to mention increased visibility for your website with the search engines!

    Social-Media/Social-Bookmarking Sites
    Be the expert with potential clients and your customers by commenting on newsworthy articles and writing and uploading your own. Always create a member profile that directs traffic back to your company’s Web site and include pertinent links back to your site pages in each article.

    1. Reddit: Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you’ll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
    2. Digg: Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
    3. Del.icio.us: Social bookmark your way to better business with sites like del.icio.us, which invite users to organize and publicize interesting items through tagging and networking.
    4. StumbleUpon: You’ll open your online presence up to a whole new audience just by adding the StumbleUpon toolbar to your browser and “channel surf[ing] the Web. You’ll “connect with friends and share your discoveries,” as well as “meet people that have similar interests.”
    5. Technorati: If you want to increase your blog’s readership, consider registering it with Technorati, a network of blogs and writers that lists top stories in categories like Business, Entertainment and Technology.
    6. Ning: After hanging around the same social networks for a while, you may feel inspired to create your own, where you can bring together clients, vendors, customers and co-workers in a confidential, secure corner of the Web. Ning lets users design free social networks that they can share with anyone.
    7. Squidoo: According to Squidoo, “everyone’s an expert on something. Share your knowledge!” Share your industry’s secrets by answering questions and designing a profile page to help other members.
    8. Furl: Make Furl “your personal Web file” by bookmarking great sites and sharing them with other users by recommending links, commenting on articles and utilizing other fantastic features.
    9. Tubearoo: This video network works like other social-bookmarking sites, except that it focuses on uploaded videos. Businesses can create and upload tutorials, commentaries and interviews with industry insiders to promote their own services.
    10. WikiHow: Create a how-to guide or tutorial on wikiHow to share your company’s services with the public for free.
    11. YouTube: From the fashion industry to Capitol Hill, everyone has a video floating around on YouTube. Shoot a behind-the-scenes video from your company’s latest commercial or event to give customers and clients an idea of what you do each day.
    12. Ma.gnolia: Share your favorite sites with friends, colleagues and clients by organizing your bookmarks with Ma.gnolia. Clients will appreciate both your Internet-savviness and your ability to stay current and organized.

    Professional-Networking Sites
    Sign up with these online networking communities as a company or as an individual to take advantage of recruiting opportunities, cross-promotional events and more.

    13. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
    14. Ecademy: Ecademy prides itself on “connecting business people” through its online network, blog and message-board chats, as well as its premier BlackStar membership program, which awards exclusive benefits.
    15. Ryze: Ryze lets members organize contacts and friends; upcoming events; and even job, real-estate and roommate classifieds.
    16. YorZ: This networking site doubles as a job site. Members can post openings for free to attract quality candidates.
    17. Xing: An account with networking site Xing can “open doors to thousands of companies.” Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to “find experts at the click of a button, market yourself in a professional context [and] open up new sales channels.”
    18. Facebook: Facebook is no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site.
    19. Care2: Care2 isn’t just a networking community for professionals: It’s touted as “the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference.” If your business is making efforts to go green, let others know by becoming a presence on this site.
    20. Gather: This networking community is made up of members who think. Browse categories concerning books, health, money, news and more to ignite discussions on politics, business and entertainment. This will help your company tap into its target audience and find out what they want.
    21. MEETin.org: Once you’ve acquired a group of contacts in your city by networking on MEETin.org, organize an event so that you can meet face-to-face.
    22. Tribe: Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New York and Chicago have unique online communities on tribe. Users can search for favorite restaurants, events, clubs and more.
    23. Ziggs: Ziggs is “organizing and connecting people in a professional way.” Join groups and make contacts through your Ziggs account to increase your company’s presence online and further your own personal career.
    24. Plaxo: Join Plaxo to organize your contacts and stay updated with feeds from Digg, Amazon.com, del.icio.us and more.
    25. NetParty: If you want to attract young professionals in cities like Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando Fla., create an account with the networking site NetParty. You’ll be able to connect with qualified, up-and-coming professionals online, then meet them at a real-life happy-hour event where you can pass out business cards, pitch new job openings and more.
    26. Networking For Professionals: Networking For Professionals is another online community that combines the Internet with special events in the real world. Post photos, videos, resumes and clips on your online profile while you meet new business contacts.

    Niche Social-Media Sites
    Consider linking up with one of these social-media sites to narrow down your business’s target audience. You’ll find other professionals, enthusiasts and consumers who are most likely already interested in what your company has to offer.

    27. Pixel Groovy: Web workers will love Pixel Groovy, an open-source site that lets members submit and rate tutorials for Web 2.0, email and online-marketing issues.
    28. Mixx: Mixx prides itself on being “your link to the Web content that really matters.” Submit and rate stories, photos and news to drive traffic to your own site. You’ll also meet others with similar interests.
    29. Tweako: Gadget-minded computer geeks can network with each other on Tweako, a site that promotes information sharing for the technologically savvy.
    30. Small Business Brief: When members post entrepreneur-related articles, a photo and a link to their profile appear, gaining you valuable exposure and legitimacy online.
    31. Sphinn: Sphinn is an online forum and networking site for the Internet marketing crowd. Upload articles and guides from your blog to create interest in your own company or connect with other professionals for form new contacts.
    32. BuzzFlash.net: This one-stop news resource is great for businesses that want to contribute articles on a variety of subjects, from the environment to politics to health.
    33. HubSpot: HubSpot is another news site aimed at connecting business professionals.
    34. SEO TAGG: Stay on top of news from the Web marketing and SEO (search-engine optimization) industries by becoming an active member of this online community.

    General Social-Media Sites

    The following social-media sites provide excellent opportunities for businesses to advertise; promote specials, events or services; and feature published, knowledgeable employees.

    35. Wikipedia: Besides creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, you can connect with other users on Wikipedia’s Community Portal and at the village pump, where you’ll find conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research and more.
    36. Newsvine: Feature top employees by uploading their articles, studies or other news-related items to this site. A free account will also get you your own column and access to the Newsvine community.
    37. 43 Things: This site bills itself as “the world’s most popular online goal setting community.” By publicizing your company’s goals and ambitions, you’ll gain a following of customers, investors and promoters who cheer you on as you achieve success.
    38. Wetpaint: If you’re tired of blogs and generic Web sites, create your own wiki with Wetpaint to reach your audience and increase your company’s presence online. You can easily organize articles, contact information, photos and other information to promote your business.
    39. Frappr: Embed a Frappr map and guestbook into your company’s Web page so that you can pinpoint exactly how users find your site, discover in real-time what they have to say about your company profile and services, and create an “interactive, fun and engaging” spot for visitors.
    40. Yahoo! Answers: Start fielding Yahoo! users’ questions with this social-media Q&A service. Search for questions in your particular areas of expertise by clicking categories like Business & Finance, Health, News & Events and more. If you continue to dole out useful advice and link your answer to your company’s Web page, you’ll quickly gain a new following of curious customers.

    Job Sites

    If you want to secure high-quality talent during your company’s next hiring spree, you’ll need to maintain a strong presence on popular job sites like the ones listed below.

    41. CareerBuilder.com: Reach millions of candidates by posting jobs on this must-visit site.
    42. The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal: The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal attracts well-educated professionals who are at the top of their game. Post a job or search résumés here.
    43. CollegeRecruiter.com: If your firm wants to hire promising entry-level employees, check CollegeRecuriter.com for candidates with college degrees.
    44. Monster: Post often to separate your business from all the other big companies that use this site to advertise job openings.
    45. Sologig: Top freelancers and contractors post résumés and look for work on this popular site.
    46. AllFreelance.com: This site “offers self-employed small business owners links to freelance & work at home job boards, self-promotion tips” and more.
    47. Freelance Switch Job Listings: Freelance Switch is the freelancer’s online mecca and boasts articles, resource toolboxes, valuable tips and a job board.
    48. GoFreelance: Employers looking to boost their vendor base should check GoFreelance for professionals in the writing, design, editing and Web industries.
    49. Yahoo! Hot Jobs: This site is often one of the first places that job seekers visit. Post open opportunities and check out informative articles and guides to gain insight on the hiring and interviewing process.
    50. Guru.com: Build your company’s repertoire with top freelancing professionals by advertising projects on this site, otherwise known as “the world’s largest online service marketplace.”