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MAXIMIZING YOUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE

by: Cary Christian

Most of you who read this ezine are interested in increasing your web-based business activities. Many of you may be looking to become Internet-only businesses. It follows then that most of you have a healthy interest in Internet marketing. While there is nothing wrong with this, you also need to position your business to function efficiently in an Internet world.

One of the most persistent problems facing Internet marketers is finding enough quality time to get things done. Between setting up your website and maintaining it, executing your marketing campaigns, and actually running your business, there never seems to be any time left for yourself and your family.  This problem is compounded if you work a day job and try to run your Internet business at night.

The answer to this problem is automation. You will either automate your Internet business activities or you will never have enough time to do the things you need to do to grow your business. We're going to take a look at several things you should consider to make your life easier.

EMAIL AUTOMATION

If you maintain a substantial email list, you should consider automating your mail list operations in some form. There are many options available. You can purchase mailing software that runs on your web server, mailing software that runs on your PC, or you can farm out your mailing operations to an Internet-based service provider. The choice you make will depend largely on how big your mail lists are.

With a fairly large list, managing subscriptions, remove requests and bounces can quickly become an extremely time-consuming ordeal. Server-side mail software like Mailloop
( http://www.marketingtips.com/mailloop/t.x/649034 ) will take care of these processes for you automatically.

Server-side software like Mailloop can be quite expensive. If you do not need that much power or do not yet have the budget for server-side software, packages installed on your PC may be the interim answer for you. PC-based mailing software may or may not handle ALL of your list chores, depending on how it is set up, but it will make them easier to manage.

Two good PC-based programs you could start with are Group Mail Pro   ( http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=3939&U=58198&M=1465  ) and the Gammadyne mailer ( http://gammadyne.com/refer.php?ref=12345&page=mmail.htm  )  The Gammadyne mailer is often compared favorably to Mailloop even though it is less than a third of the cost. You can find a complete comparison of the Gammadyne mailer to most other mailers on the market on their website. The comparison contains live links to competing software, so you can check out Gammadyne's competitors very easily.

Farming your list maintenance and mailing chores out to an Internet-based provider will take almost all the headaches away, but be careful that you do not lose too much control over your lists. These services will generally cost you $19.95 or more per month, but will handle every aspect of managing your mail lists except deciding what to actually send to the list.

AUTORESPONDERS

Technically, autoresponders are still in the category of email automation, but we'll deal with them separately because they can be used to automate other business functions.

Autoresponders can save you tons of time in lots of ways. If you receive a lot of email related to technical support or requests for product information, an autoresponder can be your best friend.

Use them to send a "frequently asked support questions" email to customers. Spend a little time developing a thorough support document that covers your most frequent support issues and have your customers send their first support request to this autoresponder document. It could weed out many of your more repetitious requests. Include a link within the email to reach you directly if the autoresponder support document does not solve their problem.

Use autoresponders to provide potential customers with product information. This becomes a really nice sales tool. Since most customers need to be presented with your sales message seven times or more before they buy, always provide your web site visitors with an option to request more information from one of your autoresponders. Fill the autoresponder with as many sales/product information messages as you believe are necessary without going overboard. Of course each message will attempt to get the potential customer back to your order page.

If you post to safelists or classified sites, include an autoresponder address for additional information. You will be multiplying your marketing efforts many times over without increasing your time commitments.

Using autoresponders can save you hundreds of hours per month and make your marketing and support efforts more effective overall. Be creative and use them in as many ways as you can.

See our FEATURED RESOURCE below to find out where you can get the autoresponders you need.

USE ACCOUNTING SYSTEM INTEGRATION CAPABILITIES

Accounting systems today are much more than a system for accumulating debits and credits.

There are hundreds of accounting systems on the market. Maybe thousands if you count the really bad ones. Most all of them will do an adequate job with normal everyday accounting functions. They will produce financial statements and general ledgers, track your payables and receivables, and help you balance your checkbooks. But the really good ones will do much more.

Higher end accounting systems are designed primarily to help you organize and formalize your business processes. Accounting is almost a by-product in most modern systems. Outstanding tools are provided to help you manage customer relationships, automate your shipping processes, manage and plan your inventory operations, track and manage costs incurred on projects, allow you to purchase and sell using EDI, and so much more.

Web-enabled software packages can be even more impressive.  Purchasing and sales activities can be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week without any human intervention whatsoever.

No matter how small your business is, an appropriate accounting system exists that will make your life easier, make your documents look more professional, make you more efficient, and give you more free time to pursue more interesting endeavors.  Modern systems are operational tools that just happen to handle accounting for you on the side.

If you are a small business looking for your first formal accounting system, our sponsor for this week provides an excellent basic product with upgrades available that allow you to expand your system as your business grows. You can download a free trial to check it out. (See the sponsor ad, above, and website for details).

FOCUS YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS TO SAVE TIME

Most of your marketing efforts online require some action on your part to make it happen. You have to post manually to safelists and message boards. You have to click, click, click your life away using surf-for-credit programs. These forms of marketing are basically free so they are quite popular. But there comes a point in time when you have to realize that your time is valuable.

Pay-per-click search engines will provide you with extremely targeted traffic with little effort on your part once you set up your listings and your bids.

Ezine ads produce excellent results and do not require much time at all to place.

Using marketing sources like these will allow you to set up marketing campaigns that require little maintenance while they work for you as spend time doing other things. And if you study and learn how to use these marketing resources properly, you can use them fairly inexpensively.

ORGANIZING YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS

Your marketing efforts will always require some of your time no matter what types of marketing you are using. If you are posting to safelists that allow you to post once per week, when was the last time you posted? Do you remember when you last updated your search engine submissions? When did you last check your bids on the PPC engines? It can become very difficult to keep track of it all, and disorganization leads to wasted time.

Using a tool like SiteTrack can help you make sense of it all by organizing all your marketing efforts and maintaining important information about your website and web marketing efforts. If you don't already have such a tool, you can check out SiteTrack at http://hop.clickbank.net/?philcary/sitetrack .

If you don't want to spend the small fee to acquire a tool like SiteTrack, you should at least create a detailed marketing checklist where you keep track of your marketing efforts and maintain reminders and to-do lists.

If you put these few tips to work in your business, you will free up your most valuable resource for the important function of positioning your business for growth and market penetration.  Your most valuable resource? YOU!


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