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Will GMail Tabs Hurt Email Marketers?

Over the last few days you’ve likely received urgent messages from email marketers warning of the recent GMail addition of tabs. The idea is that Google wants to help sort your email for you into what they deem Primary, Social and Promotions.

Gmail tabs

Many, if not all by now, GMail users logged in to find their email neatly sorted into these buckets. No surprise, but all of those email newsletters and other offers are going straight to the promotions tab making them a lot easier to ignore. Also no surprise all the alerts and updates I get from Google show up in the Primary tab.

Here’s the deal – marketers hate the idea, but users kind of really like it. So, guess what marketers. It just got harder to get your email read – even by those that really want it. As I saw in a note from my friend Michael Port, triple opt-in is the new double opt-in.

While some have objected over the idea that Google gets to sort their mail the typical GMail user will likely go along for the ride.

Marketers must teach their GMail subscribers to invite them into the primary box.

I’m writing this point in an effort to start that process but I also plan to email my subscribers to ask to be included.

Primary tab

Here’s how I plan to do it (feel free to copy this plan)

  • Sort my list to only mail GMail users – seems obvious but why bother everyone else.
  • Send them an email that shows them that they can simply drag any email from me that they find in the Promotions tab into the Primary tab and then all will show up there.
  • Show them how to change their settings if they like so that they can pick and choose what goes where.

tab settings

Don’t be surprised if you get a number of emails asking to be invited into your Primary tab. Of course, this simply means email or at least GMail marketers have one more reason to make the quality of their content so high that people will want to move it to a higher place.

Here’s the Google Help page on tabs

Weekend Favs July Six

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

9170193640_663bc43c3c
I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge and shot this from the Marin side.

Good stuff I found this week:

HireVue
– Tools that makes digital interviews a snap. Promoted as a hiring tool but has marketing and customer applications as well.

Google Consumer Surveys – free Google offering allows you to add simple survey to your website and gain valuable feedback

The Best GMail and IFTTT Recipes – Some killer ideas from Lifehacker for using If This Then That recipes to make GMail a better tool

Big Changes to 5 Important Online Tools

Some of my favorite tools and services have gone through some pretty big changes recently – enough so that felt it warranted a post just to point the changes out.

The first three, Gmail, Evernote and TweetDeck, are tools I use every day to run my business. The last two, Yelp and Foursquare, are familiar rating and location tools that have morphed a bit to go after the lucrative local search market and deserve a good hard look from local small businesses.

1) User interface changes for Gmail – This is a pretty big change as far as I’m concerned and addresses a number of needed enhancements for handling mail. You can switch back and forth from the new view to the old by clicking on the new view link in the compose window.

  • Composing Messages: One thing you may notice about the new interface is the way you compose a new message. It looks similar to a Gmail chat window but a little bigger. This makes things simpler by allowing you to check old emails and saved drafts because you don’t have to leave the current page you are on to write a new email.
  • Profile Pictures: It is now much easier to keep up with who is saying what within your email threads. Your contact profile pictures now show up within a conversation.
  • Themes: New HD themes are now provided by iStockphoto. Simply choose the theme that suits you in preferences.
  • Labels and Chat: These are constantly shown in the navigation panel on the left side. You can now customize that by size as well as completely hide your chat area.
  • Search Box: Gmail’s new interface has incorporated a better search function allowing a drop-down advanced search box, which makes things much easier to locate.
  • More here

2) Evernote 5 brings new look – probably the biggest news here is the totally overhauled and more visually appealing look of Evernote.

  • Sidebar: The new Evernote 5 has implemented a left hand sidebar. With this sidebar comes a section for shortcuts that enable you to use a customized variety of notes, previous searches, tags and notebooks. Along with this you have the ability to view your tags, notebooks and latest notes.
  • Notebooks: With the new changes you can now integrate your notebooks with shared notebooks that other people have allowed you to access.
  • Note Editor: You will be able to see how many people have access to the same note you are viewing. You will see that at the very top of the note. There is also a function to shared notes updates, as they are integrated with Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. This is helpful so it won’t overwhelm you as they come in.
  • Atlas Function: Simple way to view and access your notes is using this function. It allows people to search for entries geographically.
  • Card View: This will show you text notes and images in a thumbnail preview.
  • Type-Ahead: This is a search field that finishes your inquiry with ideas from previous entries, to include saved searches, keywords, and related notebooks. You are also able to improve your searches in more detail with advanced options.
  • More here

TweetDeck

3) Tweetdeck get a long overdo facelift – Now that Twitter owns TweetDeck it has finally ushered in some enhancements.

  • Twitter Cards: You can now embed a photo or other media into a tweet with the 2.1.0 version. This makes your twitter stream appealing and attractive.
  • Font: From your settings pane, you can now change your font size. There are only three options: 13 pt.-Small, 14 pt.-Medium or 15 pt.-Large.
  • Color Scheme: You now have a choice to change your colors to the white background which has dark gray text. The links, URLs, hash tags and twitter addresses are blue, making them much easier to see.
  • Columns: You are able to add a new column and check your twitter lists from the Tweetdeck toolbar. You can decide what you would like to incorporate into your columns, like a specific tweet stream from a particular group or person, or from one of your lists, or from a search. When adding a new column Tweetdeck will come up with suggestions for that particular subject, interactions, mentions and timeline.
  • Shortcuts: The toolbar has many shortcuts to make things easier and simpler. For example, it has buttons that control the columns that will enable you to move through it seamlessly. You can also conduct a Twitter search and start a new tweet. When creating a new tweet you can add pictures and schedule that tweet for when you would like for it to go out or you can email that specific tweet. If you press ‘N’ on your keyboard you can instantly create a tweet. To send it, simply press “command” and “return” at the same time.
  • More here

4) Foursquare Business Pages

The new business pages feature allows business owners to provide status updates, post deals, special promotions, photos, message and tips to the activity feeds of loyal or repeat customers who may be in the same vicinity. It automatically updates for those customers who are where the business is located.

Additionally, when a customer searches for places in the Foursquare app or through the web, these important updates will show up in search results.

The merchant dashboard has been redesigned to where merchants can manage updates more efficiently. This also allows SEO services, social media marketers and business owners to see data on businesses with numerous locations with improved analytics.

More here

yelp

5) Yelp keeps enhancing its Local Directory

In 2012 Yelp and Bing partnered to bring Yelp’s local business content to the local search pages of Bing. With this partnership, Yelp is able to bring its photos, business qualities and reviews to Bing’s search engine with hopes of strengthening Microsoft’s attempts to be competitive with Google+ Local.

Yelp listings are used in Apple’s Siri iPhone assistant, Yext listings and in the navigation systems in BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.

Local small businesses have plenty of reasons to get more active with Yelp and other location based tools. Facebook recently revamped it’s “nearby” feature that allows people to discover businesses based on location.

More here

One thing is certain – we live in a rapidly changing world of business and technology that calls for staying on top of a never-ending stream of new and emerging tools. But, hey, that’s what I’m here for!

7 Popular Web Apps That Can Change The Way You Do Business

In yesterday’s post I outlined the road map for building a total web presence even though you’re short on time. Today I want to share an eBook I wrote that reveals how and why I use certain tools to get some of the online work I do, done.

There should be something for everyone in this free eBook – The Productivity Handbook: 7 Popular Web Apps That Can Change The Way You Do BusinessGo get your copy here and don’t be afraid to share with friends!

In this guide I explain how and why I use:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • StumbleUpon
  • GMail
  • Pinterest
  • Delicious
  • Instagram

Free Handbook: 7 Apps That Will Change The Way You Do Marketing

The Productivity Handbook by John JantschThere’s always more to do than time to do it these days. That’s why I love discovering new tools and apps that help me get it all done.

I also love to share what I find and so I teamed up with Hubspot to write The Productivity Handbook: 7 Apps That Will Change The Way You Do Marketing.

(Yes, Hubspot asks for some information from you, but trust me, the how to use and why to use info included in this eBook will be worth it to you. If you’ve read anything I write you know I give away practical advice only.)

You’ll learn how these exciting, new tools can help you:

  • Brainstorm ideas for fast content creation using Evernote
  • Easily share large files across multiple devices using Dropbox
  • Generate more traffic to your website using StumbleUpon
  • Tell your story and share photos using Instagram and Pinterest

Download your eBook here

Using Gmail as a Simple CRM Tool

CRM systems are great and powerful marketing workhorses capable of funneling leads into campaigns, automating nurturing routines, tracking conversion metrics and interfacing with ordering and accounting systems to create a complete sales machine, but sometimes you just need to keep track of who you contacted and when.

Using Google’s free suite of tools you can create a nice lightweight CRM system with just a few tweak along the way. Since email has become one of the primary forms of contact, and particularly if you’re already using Gmail, exploring options that allow you expand on the tool you use the most might be the fastest route to creating a useable CRM like option.

Contacts

Gmail comes with a contact database that will automatically store information on anyone you add or correspond with. You can add lots of information beyond email and name and upload contact information from other systems and files.

This isn’t the prettiest interface, but it has just enough functionality to work. Once you add a contact your email exchanges will be searchable and you can add them to a task or appointment in Google Calendar to create even more searchable data for the record.

Groups

One of the keys to using the Gmail contact database as a mini CRM tool is to use the contact groups function. By creating groups in your contacts page for things like customers, prospects, journalists, vendors and strategic partners you can effectively sort your contact list by function and even create mail campaigns to these groups.

Nested Folders

Another way to keep track of key information in Gmail is to use email folders for your key contact groups and add the nested folders function found in labs to create subfolders. So, if you have a client folder, then you can create a folder specifically for each key client underneath the client folder.

Then when you have email come in from a client you can use the move to function to store the email in the appropriate folder so you can access it more easily. You can also pull up any contact record and see recent emails to and from the contact.

Rapportive

Free 3rd party add-ons can also help beef up your new CRM system. Browser plugin Rapportive is a tool that adds social media data to your contact records. With this plugin added you automatically see LinkedIn or Facebook information on you contacts or anyone that sends you an email in the right sidebar of the Gmail screen.

You can also follow and connect with contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn directly from the Gmail interface. This is a great way to get a bigger picture of what your contacts are doing and have instant information on people that send you emails.

Boomerang

Another 3rd party plugin you might consider adding is Boomerang. This handy plugin gives your emails some smarts. When you send an email, for example, you set it remind you if you don’t hear back from the recipient in a set number of days. Or you set an email in your inbox to go away and put itself back in on a certain day.

Many of the functions in Boomerang allow you to set-up and operate your own little tickler file system based entirely on emails sent and received.

App Marketplace

Of course there are lots of additional apps that integrate with Gmail and the entire suite Google Apps found in the App Marketplace. For example, the Mavenlink app turns the system described here into a full collaboration and project and task management suite.

Full-featured tools are great, but sometimes a simple solution you can master and use in the way you’re already working is just the ticket.

6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of GMail for Business

Thankfully most small businesses now realize that using a hotmail or yahoo address as their business email address probably doesn’t send the right message. Using an email address that matches the domain for your business website is absolutely a must, but some ISP hosted email can be a bit limited and running all your email through a desktop client like Outlook has its own set of limitations – most notably when it comes to the need to share with a team.

Google Apps for Business has, in my view, become a very nice option for collaboration as well as email hosting. I’ve using GMail as my host for email for the past few months and I have to say there’s plenty to like. (I know, it goes down every now and then, but what service doesn’t?) In addition to the mail, task and calendar sharing, you’ll also have Google Docs and Spreadsheet sharing capability.

Below are my tips for getting the most from Google Apps and GMail for business

1. Set up your domain to be hosted by Google.

You need to get a Google Apps for business account and move the MX records for your domain to Google’s servers. This isn’t really that difficult if you follow the instructions provided. This way you can use GMail but have all your mail come from [email protected] You can also create custom emails for your entire staff. This service costs $50/yr but give you the ability to share calendars, tasks, and contacts across your team.

2. Use the labels feature

You can create all the labels you want (think folders) in GMail to move and store all that email that comes in that you need to refer to. You might also like to jump to Google labs and turn on the Nested label feature that allows you to tuck sub topic underneath a parent. To create these sub labels you simply use the parent label connected to the sub label ie: clients/nameofclient

3. Create a feature rich signature

I use a Firefox add-on called Wisestamp because it offers more that the GMail signature can and lets you create multiple signatures so you can have work and personal signature for example.

4. Set-up the offline feature

GMail allows you to access a copy of your inbox when you’re offline so you can manage your mail while on an airplane for example. You’re not connecting to your inbox, you’re simply accessing a synced copy on your laptop that will resync with you go back online. You will need to download a browser plugin called Google Gears and turn on the offline option in settings.

5. Use the canned responses settings feature

In Google labs (you’ll see the little science beaker icon above your mail) you can turn on a host of options that can enhance GMail’s functionality. One that I like is called canned responses. The name is a bit harsh but what it does is allow you to store email copy that you frequently use and then insert it with the touch. I try to make my canned responses sound very human, but I do use this frequently.

6. Explore the App Marketplace

Lots of 3rd party providers are busy creating apps built specifically to work with Google Apps. In many cases you’ll find tools in the Google Apps Marketplace that are new to you and versions of old friends you might want to migrate to Google Apps.

WiseStamp Brings Your Email Signature to Life

On the spectrum of really big marketing tactics, the email signature isn’t terribly sexy, but this little touch can say a lot about what you do and how you connect.

If you’re like me, you send a lot of email so why not make sure your email signature is working in the background for you. This doesn’t mean you need flashing lights and honking horns, but you should supply recipients, even those that contact you often, with all the necessary contact details, including social profiles, so that you are easy to connect with.

Creating an email signature, while not that technical, can take a little work and may even be limited on services like GMail. WiseStamp is a browser plugin (Firefox, Chrome, and Safari) that makes the act of creating multiple, highly engaging email signature profiles very easy. This free addon allows you to create rich HTML text, add images, add social profiles and even add applications such as your last tweet, your last blog post, or your latest eBay listing.

The signatures work in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and WindowsLive. Once you download and install the plugin you will see a WiseStamp option in your mail. The first step is to create your signatures using the simple online editor, connect your various social profiles and applications, and save your profiles. You can then toggle between personal and business signatures as needed.

Since this is a free application the default setting adds a little promo for WiseStamp at the bottom of your signature. You can remove this by opening setting and clicking that option off. On that same screen you’ll be given the option to make a donation. I recommend throwing a little coin to the creators of this nice tool. It’s good karma and it’s what makes the free app world such a cool place to hang out.