How to Find the Right Virtual Assistant

Virtual AssistantHaving the right Virtual assistant is the first step to a good partnership. I say partnership because as you work together to grow your business, it will start to feel like you have a partner, someone who wants to see your business succeed as much as you do.  As a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager, I prefer to create that business partnership with my clients.

With so many virtual assistants to choose from, finding the right one is not always easy. Many times, business owners wait until they are desperate before they start looking for help. They end up hiring the first virtual assistant they find, normally based on the cheapest price but can also be on location and skills. While selecting an assistant this way can work, it can also lead to the business owner hopping from one assistant to the next and getting frustrated with the process and finding that a virtual assistant is not the right fit for them.

There’s a better method to finding the right Virtual assistant and it requires a bit of research and thought. Here are some things to consider before searching for a virtual assistant.

What skills are required of the Virtual Assistant

Before you begin your search, have an idea of what kind of assistant you need. Make a list of the tasks you want to outsource to the virtual assistant. What skills or knowledge should the VA have to complete those tasks? Do the tasks require special software or equipment?

In most cases, you will want the Virtual Assistant to have everything he or she needs to complete the work and if they are a viable business, they should have the basics set up already unless you have a specific software that you use.  In this case, it might be more beneficial to train your current virtual assistant on how to do these tasks.

Depending on the tasks, it can also be helpful if the Virtual Assistant has experience in the industry that you work in or already offers the services that you require to other businesses.

Characteristics

What characteristics would you like to see in your assistant? Which are most important to you? Here are a few to get you started:

  • Forward Thinker. They see the whole picture & offer ideas to help you reach your goals.
  • Self-Motivated. They are go-getters. They don’t wait until the last minute to start a project.
  • Takes Initiative. If they see something needs to be done, they do it.
  • Resourceful. If they don’t know an answer, they know how to find it
  • Organised. Disorganisation leads to frustration and potential mistakes
  • Good Communicator. Good communication reduces confusion and errors
  • Professional. They conduct themselves in a professional, self-confident way
  • Dependable. They complete work as requested without having to be monitored
  • Trustworthy. If they cannot be trusted, the contract should be cancelled

You may not find someone who possesses every characteristic on your list or you may just want to make sure the important ones are covered and then you can work with the rest.

Susan Wilkin
Online Business Manager

View our range of packages here

Creating a Clear Call to Action on your Webinar

Call to actionHosting a webinar is a fantastic way to build your list but it is important to create a clear call to action on your webinar.  This will enable you to build a conversion.  Having a conversion then generates profits depending on the call to action. People are lazy so if you don’t tell them what to do, most of them will not do anything.

A clear call to action should encourage a sense of urgency due to the clearness and the information shared throughout the presentation provided. It will provide the next steps to take. It explains what, when, why, where, and how to proceed to obtain the benefits.

  • Be Clear & Concise – Use direct words like “Click Here to Get the ABC Toolkit” or other actionable words to tell them directly what they need to do to capture the benefits of the offer. Don’t make them guess.
  • Offer a Guarantee – Reiterate the benefits of your offer, and the guarantee you are making them to reduce their fear of signing up or purchasing ie: 30 day money back guarantee and we part as friends.
  • Play on their Emotions – You want them to feel as if the offer is so good that if they don’t do it now they’ll lose out on the opportunity. Use words that make them feel as if they will miss out if they don’t act, or they will belong if they do act.
  • Add Incentives to Action – Bulk up the offer by adding incentives to it. “Purchase now, and get a set of steak knives too.” Or “Buy within the next 30 minutes and get 30% off, plus an extra report, plus another incentive.”

Encourage those who answer your call to action to post on social media about their purchase or action. People like sharing what they love and they like to feel part of a bigger picture.

Now it is time for you to create your call to action on your webinar presentation slides.  Use the methods above to create your special offer which will lead back to your website, a purchase and ultimately your list.

The benefits of choosing a package over an hourly rate

PackageWhen comparing packages for Virtual Industry Professionals or Online Business Managers (OBM), it can be a little like comparing apples to oranges as each business offers different core values, strengths, performance and of course services and what is included in that service list.

The best steps for yourself as a client is to work out what you require from the OBM by writing an extensive list. Once you have your extensive list, then you can see if these services match up to the services that the OBM can complete. There may also be an opportunity to bring on a second Virtual Industry Professional or OBM if the list is quite diverse or extensive.

Have a think about what core values that you would also like in your OBM to ensure that they align with your business. You can speak to the OBM in regards to the core values to ensure that they are a good fit to your team and work well with you, your business and your current team.

Once you have your extensive list of services that you require, it is important to go back over the list and circle the items that you are comfortable in outsourcing during the first month. This is normally quite a lot shorter than your extensive list. Remember that you will be building a relationship with the OBM and you want to be able to maximise the use of the package available. If you have the list ready to go when you start, it will ease the setup and establishment with the OBM and ensure a more streamlined approach which will ultimately lead to a great working relationship.

Do you have any procedures set up?  If you have a procedure manual set up, this can ease the first initial month. Don’t forget that if you don’t, you can arrange for the OBM to set it up and update the procedure manual for your business.

When looking at a package, there are many benefits. Have a think about your extensive list and also your first month task list. What you are inclined to pay for the service and then get some quotes and speak to the OBM.  If the budget doesn’t quite meet the service package, have a chat to the OBM or look at moving some tasks to a later month. By choosing a package, you know what you will be paying each month, there are no hidden costs or expenses unless otherwise negotiated. This means that you can maintain a consistent cash flow in your business. You can even set up a direct debit to go from your account to the OBMs account each month or as agreed.

By choosing a package there are no blow outs in time or hours. What you think may take to complete a task could in fact take longer or there could be issues or extra items that are required. By purchasing an all inclusive package, there are no blowouts in time and therefore no nasty surprises when the invoice comes in.

In review, a package is normally better priced and has many more features than an hourly rate. The OBM is normally established in their business and can price a package quite effectively.  There are no hidden charges or costs, no nasty blow outs or extra time. The packages will quite often meet your budget as well and you will know what you are paying each month. By knowing what you are paying each month makes good business sense and enables you to maintain a regular cash flow.

Take a look at our packages and give us a call today!

 

Document Formatting Best Practice

Document FormattingThere is not a one size fits all when it comes to document formatting. Each document comes with different challenges for formatting as well as different specifications. Different types will require specific or relevant styles of document formatting. A news article will demand a different format compared to webpage content. Likewise, marketing articles or SEO content would be different. Official documents, reports or textual presentations, can have countless types of document formatting needs. Tables and textboxes, images and their descriptions, bullet points, numbers and everything from the index to the reference or bibliography, the formatting requirements will vary.

Here are some of the best practices that you can develop for document formatting.

One of the essential requisites of document formatting is to ensure that you set up the styles including headings and use the consistent formats from the beginning. This will streamline your document. The headings and sub headings will also enable an easy set up in the table of contents. In larger documents, the content should be indexed with a Table of Contents.

Pick a font and be consistent with it. You can use bold, underline or Italics. You can colour certain texts or highlight them but ensure a consistent font and sizings throughout the document. Constantly changing fonts will not only make the document look inconsistent but it would also disturb the flow.

Stick to the style you have picked. That begins with the layout. Don’t change the layout on every page and certainly not on the same page. This will keep the presentation of the texts, tables and images consistent. If you have to change the layout or the format due to some unavoidable need, such as opting for a centre text or different alignment than the typical one, then do so in the most subtle manner so the changes don’t appear to be out of place or not consistent with your branding.

If you are using bullet points and numbering, set up the numbering and bullet points from the start. Use the styles at the top or ensure consistency with the bullet points and numbers. By setting these up at the start will make for a much more streamlined document and will make it much easier to add in further down in a larger document.

Use Headers and Footers to ensure consistency throughout the document and will make each page the same. Include a logo, copyright, page numbers, website and other relevant information that is needed. If you are using a title page you can change the Header and Footer so that it does not show on the first page.

For more hints and tricks on formatting word documents, take a look at the Microsoft Word Tutorials here.

How to create killer subject lines to increase engagement!

SAN MARINO (5)Writing great subject lines can be really quite difficult but makes all the difference to your open rates for your email newsletters. Newspapers and Bloggers ask themselves this question on a daily basis. However, you should be asking yourself this as well, when it comes to your email newsletters.

Subject lines are, to email newsletters, what headlines are to newspapers. Following are some great tips that you can use in order to create great subject lines. Better subject lines are more likely to get possible clients to open your email newsletters. And more opened emails can mean more sales.

Personalise It

One of the most effective ways to get people to open up email marketing messages is with personalisation. Personalisation within the subject line is simple to add with email marketing software. Consider adding first names in the subject line. This is probably the most effective way to personalise a subject line. Or you could include a location to get their attention. When using either of these tactics you should also write your headlines or subject lines as sentences. Just capitalise at the start with the first letter and drop any punctuation.

Use Numbers

Numbers can do a lot for getting potential customers to open your email newsletters too. Studies show that by adding a natural seeming number to headlines can increase how many people open your messages exponentially. Try to use numbers that are not well rounded such as a 7 or 8 rather than a 5 or 10. Even adding in the decimal point can be a good tactic. You can also think about arranging your email as a list itself. Headlines for this sort of email newsletter may read, “8 Biggest Mistakes for Email Marketing.”  Including statistics or percentages can be a great lead in as well ie: 20% of industry are ….. or How to increase your open rates by 20%.

Express the shock!!

Who does not love a bit of shock marketing or controversial headlines? When it comes to creating eye catching email newsletter headlines, think about putting something shocking, or controversial in your subject line. Call out your customer with something like, “Ways You Are Killing Your Email Newsletter open rates,” or “5 ways you are killing your business.” Comment on something happening in the news or headlines at the moment. Doing these things will make those on your email newsletter list much more likely to open up your email.

Ask a Question!

By asking a question and then answering this in your content can increase open rates.

Still Stuck?

Why not use an online headline creator. Here a few that we like that you might find useful.

http://tweakyourbiz.com/tools/title-generator
http://www.internetmarketingcourse.com/freeheadlinegenerator/
http://www.title-generator.com/
https://sumome.com/kickass-headline-generator/
http://www.onlinesales.co.uk/tools/tools/topical-brainstorm.php

Now this one is really cool, it will actually analyse your subject line – http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

Have you used another headline generator, share your favourites below.

Now that you have your readers attention, the next step is to provide your audience with interesting and useful content that will engage and keep your readers interested in your email newsletters.

Why Hire an Online Business Manager

Online Business ManagerThe role of an Online Business Manager is quite different from a Virtual Assistant and you can have both work in your business.  It is important to understand the differences between a Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager. In Australia, most Virtual Assistants are Virtual Industry Professionals or Online Business Managers for the following reasons:

  • they are often proactive rather than reactive and accomplish tasks without you asking.
  • they develop an understanding of your business and keep the cogs turning
  • they understand the bigger picture of your business growth and development
  • they think outside the box
  • they give you ideas for growth and strategy in your business and quite often manage those ideas from start to finish

When You Hire an Online Business Manager You Get…

MORE TIME: Who doesn’t need more time?

The main goal of an online business manager is to free up your time so that you can work on the things that only you can do or the things that you enjoy most about your business. Now a virtual assistant can free up your time, however you may need to do some further checking and ensure that you have all of the processes in place first, some virtual assistants require an i’s dotted and t’s crossed approach.  It depends on the type of fit that you are after for your business and if you really do want to step away from the day-to-day operations and release yourself from having to oversee every piece of every project.

A TRUSTED PARTNER: Essential to the relationship

Online business managers truly care about their client’s businesses. They normally only work with 3-5 businesses to ensure that they develop the relationship with you as their client. They understand the overall business vision, are excited by the things to come, thrive on the day-to-day operations, they are comfortable with outsourcing and delegating and strive to make the business succeed. They treat the client’s business as if it were their own. In a sense, hiring a good Online Business Manager is like having a trusted partner invested in your business.

A DECISION MAKER: Making all the decisions is exhausting!

Operating a successful business requires a lot of day-to-day decisions and projects are often delayed because business owners don’t have time to handle them all. Fortunately, most decisions don’t have to be made by the business owner. A good online business manager will be willing to make decisions on their client’s behalf. This doesn’t mean they will be making all of the decisions; however, after establishing a guideline with the client, they can certainly handle many issues that arise throughout the day.

COMPLETED PROJECTS: A key component to bigger profits

Aside from the business owner, the Online Business Manager is the workhorse of the business. They spend most of their time planning, organising, and managing the tools, resources and staff within the business. Their focus is to ensure that things are running smoothly and efficiently; answering questions, dealing with unexpected issues in a timely manner, and keeping projects on track so that business goals are met. The seamless transition from one project to the next allows the business owner to stay focused and the business to grow.

Are you considering hiring an Online Business Manager?  Download the full Online Business Manager Guide and give us a call today!

 

I have an old email list, can I send them an email campaign?

One of the most common questions that I receive is about old email lists.Old Email List

Can I use the list?

Can I send a targeted email to the old email list?

How can I revive the list?

If you have an old email list you can revive these subscribers to ensure that they want to be part of your list and that they are interested in receiving communications from you. This will then recover your old email list to become a quality improved list with engaged subscribers. If you have purchased the list, these subscribers have NOT subscribed and this is then NOT a quality list. A list is only as good as the engagement received plus you don’t want to be wasting your time emailing subscribers that are NOT interested in your niche. The best way to maximise ROI (return on investment) is to work with and communicate to those highly-targeted subscribers on a current email list.

While it’s good to have a long list, it’s only really going to be useful if the subscribers on that list are genuinely interested in your niche and likely to be interested in your future products or services. If your subscribers haven’t heard from you in a while they probably can’t remember why or how they ended up subscribing to your email list. If you send an email campaign to this list once in a blue moon, this could lead to the subscriber marking your email as spam which will then have a detrimental impact on your overall list or could shut down your account.

Have you considered the following to see if the list is really worth reviving?

  • Have they changed their email address? Over the course of a year or two, many people change jobs, move email providers, retire and ultimately their email addresses change.  This means that many of the email addresses on that old email list may not be valid anymore. It is important to consider that a large amount of the email addresses on that old email list may not be contactable anymore and therefore your bounce rate could be quite large. A large bounce rate can also cause difficulties and have a major impact on your marketing.
  • Have the list permissions expired? Permissions do have an expiry date, and many of the addresses on that old list may be past their expiration dates. Sending unsolicited messages to those old addresses could cause real problems for your business.
  • Do the subscribers on your list remember who you are? You yourself probably receive quite a few emails each day from companies sending bulk emails.  Do you remember where or when you subscribed to the email list?  Your contact list is the same, they are being bombarded with material and may not remember who you are.  We like to think that we stand out from the rest and there are ways that you can do this but there is a lot of traffic in the email marketing world.

Best steps to revive an old email list

If you do still think that your old email list has legs and your subscribers do want to engage with you, here are some of the best practise steps in reviving your old email list and yes it is time consuming too.

  1. Sort your old email list:  You can sort your old email list by segmenting the list. You can begin by sorting via the date and whether the subscriber is over 12 months old, by name, location or other aspect that you want to target with your new campaign. Take out the email addresses over 12 months old and any risky or uncertain looking email addresses on your list. Removing the most uncertain email addresses will reduce bounce rates and spam complaints. The remaining contacts can then be targeted with the following steps.
  2. Create another email address but keep it similar to your current email address. You can use a free account such as gmail or outlook.  If you are currently sending emails using ie: peter@supertraining.com, perhaps create an account that is similar such as supertraining@gmail.com.  Keeping it similar to your current email address will keep it in line with your branding and recognition. Although you have sorted your list, you may still get quite a few bounce backs or spam complaints and by creating a separate account, this will protect your current email address from being blacklisted.
  3. Send re-verification or confirmation email to your old email list. Add value in this email, mention that you haven’t been in touch in a while and remind them of why you are contacting them and how you know them. Send them an incentive to resubscribe to your email list with a call to action ie click link to get their freebie.  Also have an easy opt-out as well.
  4. Contact the old email list by phone or letter.  This can be quite time consuming but it is always good customer service to touch base personally with your contacts especially for any emails that have bounced back. If you have obtained the contacts in the past by quality measures, you should have a contact phone number.  As online marketers we quite often forget to pick up the phone and call our contacts. When you contact your list, use the same process by reminding them of the relationship, offer them a freebie and ask for their new or current email address to send some information.

We hope that these tips give you some best practise ideas on how to revive your old email list and to engage with your old contacts.  Tell us about your success with your old email list below.  We look forward to hearing from you.