Archive for September, 2009

Avoiding spam filters

Posted in Business start up, Sales with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2009 by virtualcitypa

When you launch an email marketing campaign you are competing against a great number of other emails for attention in the mailbox. As well as legitimate emails you also compete with a huge number of spam email promotions. In fact, studies have shown that around 65 per cent of all emails sent are spam emails.

It’s no surprise then that everybody is fed up with spam and now businesses and individuals are doing something about it. In a lot of cases, they are setting up spam filters to get rid of the junk.

Spam filters can be used straight out of the box or set up to prescribed tolerances.  As a result, an email that gets through one spam filter may not get through another.  
Here are some helpful design tips to consider when you are putting your email campaign together that will help stop your communication being junked by spam filters:

•    A professionally designed email with the correct HTML code throughout will ensure your email looks its best in all browsers and you will avoid high spam scores for bad coding.

•    Make sure your email doesn’t have any missing or redundant code.

•    Don’t miss out the email title.

•    Spell everything correctly.

•    Ensure your email is not created solely as images.

This is a well know tool that spammers use to get past content filters.  Try to get a good mix of HTML text and images in your emails for the best results.

•    Always send a plain text version with your HTML email to ensure that if the recipient cannot use HTML or is opening it on a PDA or phone, they will still be able to view it.

•    Always try to ensure the plain text version matches the HTML version as closely as possible.

•    NEVER USE CAPITALS when you don’t have too. It’s even worse when whole lines are in capitals.

•    Avoid using italics and very large fonts.

•    Avoid using non standard colours.

•    Avoid forms in the email itself.

The text that makes up your email copy is also very important. Some words on their own or in conjunction with others can cause serious spam implications. Below are examples of words and phrases to avoid:

•    Dear Friend – either personalise properly or use Sir/Madam.

•    Free – Free offer, Free trial, Free application, Free sample, Free access, Free anything can cause spam problems, especially when used in capitals.

•    No obligation.

•    No risk, low risk, risk free.

•    “Click here” or “click below”.

•    Order now.

•    No catch.

•    Money back guarantee.

•    Click to be removed.

•    Have you been turned down?

•    Never mention spam or spam legislation in your emails.

Finally, we recommend running your email through a spam checker that will tell you if your email will be considered spam or not.  You should also set up test accounts at commonly used email sites such as Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL to see if your email comes through into the inbox or the spam box.


Personal budgeting

Posted in Finance with tags , , on September 21, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Budgeting money is very important and learning how to do it is not that easy yet it is very much achievable. Budgeting money involves making a plan or a layout on how to spend wisely. Also, budgeting allows you to save essential funds for priorities such as house rent, bills, car loan, household supply, clothing and savings.

Budgeting money in general is all about calculating your monthly expenditure based on your living costs from preceding months and saving for emergencies or unexpected circumstances like visits to the doctor or buying a new set of tires.

The very first step in budgeting money is to know your monthly income and expenses, which you can break down in monthly and yearly terms. Once you have started in budgeting money by following the above step, you will be able to see where your money is being spent.

Afterwards, think of different things you want to save for such as home renovation or travel vacation and things that you need to save for aside from emergencies such as college funds, wedding and etcetera.

Budgeting money is about prioritising your expenses within a specific time, ideally in a monthly basis. Start thinking of things that you can live without and what you really need. Keeping track of your expenses like keeping your receipts or writing down what you have recently purchased can be very helpful in budgeting money and saving money.

Once you get your pay, you should immediately deduct from it the amount that you will need for your bills and all other necessities. Afterwards, set aside an amount for your personal and emergency fund savings. Then, if there is any spare cash left you can spend it on whatever you want.

You should strike a balance between being frugal and being good to yourself. Remember that there are things that you really need and there are things that you only want. You should know which to prioritise. Spend your money first on what you need because the things that you want can always wait. On the other hand, do not be too hard on yourself. Choose activities that will allow you to enjoy your hard work while keeping costs under control.

Budgeting money is also about planning your lifestyle and being aware of your spending behavior. Once you already have your budget plan set, try your best to follow it. There is no sense in having a budget plan if you do not stick to it. Budgeting money is something that anybody can plan and do. It may be difficult at first but eventually you will get the hang of it. The key is to adjust little by little.

Email marketing tips

Posted in Business start up, Marketing, Sales with tags , , , on September 14, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Email marketing can be of great benefit to your business if you get it right, increasing sales instantly and offering you a measurable marketing strategy.

How well your email campaign performs will depend on a number of factors. guides you through the basics.

Plan your campaign

This sounds obvious, but every marketing email that you send out should have a specific purpose, a distinct call to action, such as ‘click here to visit the website’ and a real reason why it needed to be sent to make it relevant to your customers. You could, for example, time your email around events or times of year that coincide with special offers, such as Christmas.

Top tips:

– There are software programs that can be used to personalise your emails. Having your client’s name at the top will sound much more approachable than saying ‘Dear customer’.

– The text or ‘copy’ on your email should be targeted and relevant to its recipient where possible. This may mean doing more than one batch, but the results will usually be better in the long run.

– You should give your customer the option to opt out of receiving emails as it may not be their preferred way of finding out about your services. This does not necessarily mean you will lose them as a customer.

– If people are responding to your email time and time again but have not opted out, they have probably changed their email address or sent your email to the junk folder. That means it’s important to renew your customer mailing lists as often as you can. Doing so will improve your open rates and give you a better idea of your audience.

Thank your clients for buying from you following any marketing campaign can go a long way towards generating repeat business. It’s also a perfect opportunity to sell more to them, or at least find out when it would be best to contact them again.


Your company’s reputation is very important, so you don’t want to bombard your customers with inaccurate emails. Before you send a marketing email check that:

– The subject line is correct
– Any personalisation is added and is correct
– Relevant dates – e.g. deadlines – are still right
– Calls to action are present
– Your website address is included
– All your links work
– Spelling is correct
– Images are working
– Your company details and registration number are present and correct (this information must appear by law)
– Unsubscribe options are present.

How to make more sales

Posted in Business start up, Sales with tags , , on September 7, 2009 by virtualcitypa

The image of the bright white-toothed salesperson knocking on your door, suitcase in hand, sends most people in the UK running in the opposite direction. Over-enthusiastic sales can be annoying and seems false. So what can you do as a small business owner to ensure that you don’t turn into the door-to-door type? spoke to Grant Leboff, self-titled ‘most pessimistic salesperson in Britain’ and author of Sales Therapy: Effective Selling for the Small Business Owner, for some tips on generating sales.

Where does the image of the over-bearing salesman come from?
A lot of the books on sales techniques come over from America, where being in sales is thought of as something to be proud of. In the US, sales isn’t a dirty word like it is in the UK.

Most traditional sales courses teach clichéd lessons, telling you to concentrate on the benefits of your product or service rather than the technical features. They also tend to over-emphasise the need for enthusiasm, which is all very well in the States, but it’s just not what people respond to in the UK.

So do you think the answer is to be pessimistic? Why?
British people want a dose of reality, they want to hear it the way it is and being a bit downbeat is part of that – it’s all part of the British stiff upper lip.

In the UK, you need a raw edge to your sales techniques; a more cynical angle and to be aware that people don’t really like being sold to. You can still couch the description of your product or service in positive terms, but the trick is to be subtle, not pushy and to try to be yourself.

Do you think it’s better for people without sales experience to leave it to the experts?
In an ideal world you would be able to hire a top salesperson, but in a smaller company that’s not always possible because of monetary constraints, so everybody needs to do a bit of selling. It’s worth making sure that all your employees in the organisation have had some form of sales training, just so they are able to spot opportunities, even if they can’t convert them into sales.

Do you have to be a good salesperson to run a small firm?
Small business owners can be brilliant at running a business but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are as good at selling. There are different types of selling, it’s not just about getting people to buy products.

Think about giving a presentation to an investor: to a large extent you aren’t just selling the business, you are selling yourself too. Investors are buying into the idea of you running and growing the business to get them a good return. The trick is to draw on your skills and stick to what you are good at.

Can you point to the most common mistake that small business owners make when selling?
The most common mistake is not to fully understand buyer motivation. By that I mean that a lot of SME owners don’t really know what is it that will make people buy your product or service over your competitors’. You can become so enthused about your product that you totally forget to identify a clear route to market.

You need to understand why your product will be valuable for your customers. If you can do that, you can start to understand the areas of the market and the methods of selling and marketing that will generate the most sales.

Any other tips?
You must make sure that you understand the problems your customers are trying to solve. Think of the selling process like a doctor-patient relationship. If you went into your doctor’s office and he told you to take some pills, three times daily, without asking what was wrong, you’d walk out again.

People in sales do this all the time, concentrating on what they have to offer, rather than thinking about the needs of the client. Start with a client interview and try to identify any areas that in which your product or service could add value for the customer, rather than just trying to peddle your wares.