Friday, April 18, 2008

Optimize Email Deliverability with Best Practice Strategies

As an email marketer you may face email deliverability issues every day. Whether you're sending a personal email or bulk customer communication, electronic messages are frequently intercepted, filtered, erroneously labeled as spam, bounced or returned to the sender as undeliverable. For routine non-business correspondence, this is simply a minor annoyance and inconvenience. But when your message broadcasts a crisis or emergency, or if it includes time-sensitive account, billing or service information, you could face serious consequences. If you're a marketer, every undelivered message translates into lost revenue. Luckily, there are ways to improve the odds of delivery and decrease the chance of running into problems in the first place.

The key to email deliverability lies in earning the trust of Internet Service Providers, or ISPs. Because these companies need to provide quality service to their subscribers, they devise standard protocols and policies regarding unsolicited bulk email. To communicate with your subscribers and customers, without interference, focus on four key criteria proven to optimize deliverability rates.

1. Mind Your Lists.
How relevant is your list? You should only add recipients via responsible opt-in practices, removing bounced accounts and unsubscribe requests immediately. Never use distribution lists that are severely outdated or purchased. Many purchased lists include spam trap or HoneyPot addresses, intended to lure and catch spammers.

2. Maintain Low Complaint Levels.
Do recipients want your messages? Every time a subscriber reports you to their ISP, deliverability plummets. Several popular ISPs, including AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail, make this extremely easy with one-click spam reporting features. It's important to know how many complaints are coming in. Complaint processing can be automated, with email marketing service providers removing complainers from your distribution lists and integrating this data into real-time reports. However, you should strive to avoid complaints altogether. To minimize complaints, let recipients' know who you are by identifying your company in the 'from' field, use a clear and relevant subject line and distribute messages on a routine and predictable schedule.

3. Be Professional.
What does your message say about your company? Advance your brand and professional reputation by sending well-designed, organized and relevant email communications. Segment distribution lists and customize messages whenever possible. You should also make sure that domain names for landing pages have a public Whois record and a clearly linked Privacy Policy.

3. Use Email Authentication.
Take advantage of email authentication technologies. One such solution is Sender Policy Framework (SPF), providing an open-standard, technical method for preventing address forgery.

4. Understand Reputation.
What do your past actions say about you? ISPs filter spam based on your company, domain name and private IP address reputation. Building a solid reputation in these areas takes time, and the only way to build it is by sending legitimate emails and following practices. Send legitimate emails, clean your lists and avoid complaints. Make sure that your email service provider or email servers are setup with private IP addresses so that you reputation is only impacted by your email marketing practices.

Once you've taken all proactive email delivery strategies, use the reporting tools in your email marketing software to measure overall delivery. If you find specific ISPs are blocking your blast communications even though you've followed best practices, contact them right away to resolve the matter and apply for whitelist status.

Email marketing benefits are undeniable. With diligent efforts, marketers can dramatically increase business-critical email communication deliverability and improve their bottom line.

About the Author: Dan Forootan is the President of EZ Publishing, Inc., the creator of the StreamSend Email Marketing service.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Signs It's Time To Redesign Your Website

Designing your first website is a stressful undertaking. It requires you to dig deep into your business in order to write the copy for your site. You need to work with a designer and go through the process of creating a site that looks unique and works well. Plus you'll end up investing a lot of time, energy and money. And finally, after all that, you're finished and it's time for the site to go live. What a relief!

Many business owners go through this same process. By the time the process is finished, many entrepreneurs are very glad that it's over - and don't want to do it again anytime soon.

Unfortunately, websites don't last forever. Even if you plan your site to work for the current vision for your business, you can't accurately account for the entire future of your business.

Eventually you'll have to make some changes to your website. Some of these changes can be accomplished with simple maintenance, and by making updates to your site. But there's only so far that patching and revising your current site can go. If your site is particularly outdated, or if it's not working well for you, it's probably time to consider a full-scale site redesign.

Some signs that it's time to redesign your site include:

Your Business Has Changed or Grown

If your business is no longer the same as it was when you designed your site, chances are that you should redesign your website to reflect that. If you've only had a few small changes, you might be able to just update your current website. But, if you've changed your business direction, decided to provide new products or services, or if your company has grown significantly, it will pay off to redesign your site. Reconsider how the changes to your business should be reflected or addressed in the structure, design and strategy behind your website.

Your Site Looks Like It Was Designed in 1995

Some signs of an outdated web site include: chunky, slow-loading graphics, old-style "framed" coding, where the site is divided up into panes that load separately, little animated cartoon clip-art throughout the site, and text created as images instead of in HTML. Having any of these on your site could reflect poorly on your business, making you look 'behind the times'. It can also make you look like you don't care enough about your business or about technological advances to keep abreast of them. Keeping your company's website looking modern will improve its credibility.

The Information on Your Site Isn't User-Friendly

If you cringe when you read your site text, or if you regularly get questions on your site text from visitors, re-structuring your copy or rewriting it can help to fix these problems. If you've been adding to your site over time and the navigation has become unwieldy or confusing, restructuring your navigation could be another pressing reason to redesign your site. You want visitors to be able to easily find their way around your site and to be able to access all the information you have within a few clicks. Laying out your site to make that possible can make your visitor's experience on your site a lot easier.

You Apologize for the Site When Referencing It or Handing Out Your Business Cards

Your site should be a source of pride. It should provide your clients and prospects an easy way to get a lot of information about your business. And, if you have to apologize for out-of-date information, broken images, poor design, difficult navigation or anything else on your site, it makes you look unprepared and unprofessional. Make sure your site is in top shape and looks impressive, so your clients believe your business is in good shape too.

You're Not Getting Good Results in the Search Engines

Poor rankings in the Search Engines can be a result of not optimizing your site well. Poor search engine ranking can also be a result of bad design choices or coding on your site. Make sure that your site isn't designed using frames and that the text is coded in HTML. Flash sites are also more difficult to optimize for Search Engines.

It's Not Bringing in inquiries and Helping You to Make Sales

If your site was designed long ago, then there's a good chance that it was designed as "brochureware". This means that the site was designed just to act as an online brochure. This was very common a few years ago, when websites were new. But recently businesses have realized that a website can do a lot more than just impersonate your brochure - it can help you close sales, bring in new prospects and make your business easier to run. To bring in more inquiries and make more sales include the following when you redesign your site:

  • Calls to action to encourage your visitors to take specific actions - like purchasing something, contacting you, or signing up for a newsletter.

  • Forms, scripts, or programs to make your business easier - like contact forms, project estimating tools, and an autoresponder email series that can help you keep in touch with your clients and prospects. Including a shopping cart or Paypal buttons on your site can also help you to make more sales without any additional work.

  • Downloadable information packets, articles, questionnaires and white papers can answer a prospect's questions about your products or services and help them to move closer to buying. And, if you require the prospect to enter their email address or other contact information, it can help you to grow your prospect líst as well. These are just a few of the functions that your site can perform for your business. To get ideas for other ways that your site can help you improve your business, look at the other sites that you visit and note the functions they perform.

Your Site is Costing You a Fortune to Update

If you're racking up huge bills because of changes and still have a lot to go, it might be time to consider a whole site redesign. Make a list of everything that you want to do on your site and consult a web designer about redesigning your site with those changes in mind. Often, if you have extensive changes to make to your site, it can be less expensive to just start over.

If your site is designed in Flash or coded in such a way that you can't maintain it yourself, redesigning and re-coding your site could allow you to do so. Having the ability to make changes and update your own text will let you make revisions quickly, at no expense. And you can play with your site and make revisions to see what will work best for your business and clients.

If your site has any of the problems mentioned here, it's time to redesign. The steps needed to update and revise will differ depending on the problems and issues that your site has - you may not have to start from scratch. But, do make sure that you address all of the problems that your site has so that you won't have to redesign again any time soon!

About The Author
Erin Ferree is a brand identity designer who creates big visibility for small businesses. Her workbook, "Design a Website That Works", will walk you through all of the questions that you need to answer in order to create the best possible website. Web Workbook.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Website - It is Time To Think Links

Link building has long been the staple dietary topic for SEO and Internet marketing experts, but with good reason. This is hardly ground breaking news but having a powerful link profile will help you to rank well in the search engines. Having an especially powerful link profile will also drive traffic directly to your website.

As the webmaster of a new site, there are several things you must do. First, you need to create a genuinely useful website filled with equally useful and informative content. You need to ready yourself to add fresh content on a frequent basis, in order to retain existing site visitors and to attract the search engine spiders. You also need to start building links – a good link profile takes time to develop so it is essential that you start as soon as possible. Below are some of the more and less effective methods of building quality inbound links to your new website.

Create Quality Content

OK, we've already mentioned this in passing, but it's important. Linkable content will get linked to (eventually). You may not have the traffic base to command links organically in this way yet, but you will do soon. Unique, informative, and even controversial content will ultimately see other sites willing to link to your own.

Video marketing has become especially popular because of its viral nature. You can create a good video clip, embed it into a page of your site and include "email to a friend" links. Also ensure that it is well branded so that everybody knows where the video first came from.

Free Directory Submissions

You should submit your site to a lot of web directories over time. If your domain is brand new then you should attempt to limit the amount of submissions you make in the first month. Google is believed to penalize sites that build too many links too quickly in this way. However, free directories can take days, weeks, or even months before they get round to accepting your submission so do start early.

As well as general category directories for your search engine link profile, you should research industry specific directories. These will also help your search engine ranking, but they can drive excellent levels of targeted traffíc to your site. Consider paying some of the bigger and more influential directories for an annual submission.

Paid Directory Submissions

Free directories typically only allow you to link to the main page of your website, but most also allow you to choose the title of your link. This gives you the opportunity to build your links according to your keywords, which is an essential component of link building for search engine rankings. Paid directories, on the other hand, also usually allow deep linking to individual pages of your website.

Consider paying for one or two annual subscriptions to the better directories. Yahoo is perhaps the most expensive at $299 per annum but it commands a lot of respect and a lot of traffic. isn't much cheaper ($199) but is almost on an equal footing. Less expensive directories include Best Of The Web and Uncover The Net.

Join Forums And Post Relevant Comments

Forums are, in reality, becoming less popular. The advent of the oft discussed web 2.0 means that the forum is seen as something of a dying trend. However, a lot of people do still use them and they do offer the opportunity to garner your website with some traffic and provide you with signature links.

Join forums that are relevant to your industry, create a signature link using your more important keywords and then browse. Find topics that genuinely interest you, or areas where you can offer assistance. Post comments, without linking to your site, and rely on your signature link to do the rest. If you provide genuine, helpful information then you may find that you pick up some very interested leads along the way.

Request Links

You don't get anything if you don't ask. Find relevant websites, though not in direct competition to your own site, and request a link. Point out a particularly useful section of your website content that is easily linkable and offer the HTML code to provide a link.

This isn't, in all honesty, the best way to spend your linking time. It can take many attempts with various websites before you get an acceptance and a link to your site. Webmasters will usually link to sites they have genuinely found themselves, or else sell their advertising spaces. Alternatively, they may only link to other sites within their own network.

Tagging And Social Bookmarking

So, you've read all about social bookmarking and tagging, but don't know how it can help your site? Well, the principle is fairly simple – join the social bookmarking sites, create a list of useful sites including one or two of your own, and then publish them. Some search engines are known to be particularly fond of using links found in this way. Also, if your list is genuinely useful then you should find some traffic diverts to your own site as a result.

Blog Commenting

Find blogs that are relevant to your industry and your site and sign up. Most blogs provide the opportunity to link to your site via your name so pick a name that includes relevant keywords. Like forums, only post relevant content and comments. Answers like "me too" do not count. If you don't have something valuable to add, then don't add anything, and move on to the next link building venture, please!

Article Syndication

Write articles, or have them written for you, and submit them to syndication websites. GoArticles and EzineArticles are among the more popular syndication sites and the article pages typically rank well. You have the opportunity to include two biographical links with most article directories, and these should point to the relevant pages on your site and include keywords as the anchor text.

Article syndication is a very good method of building links, but only if you can create article content that is appealing to visitors and to webmasters. However, one good article could generate many links and hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your website.

Offer Content To Other Sites

This is similar, although more specific, than article syndication. Contact webmasters of websites that operate in the same industry as you. Offer unique content in exchange for a link or links to your website. Again, if you can write well, then you shouldn't find it too difficult to find an avenue for publication of your work.

A lot of sites actively look for submissions in this way, so keep an eye out when you are next browsing the web.

Press Release Submissions

Press releases have been around a long time, and are still going fairly strong online. Again, press releases offer the opportunity to drive interested traffic to your website and some PR wires allow authors to include links to their website. PRLeap and PRWeb are among two of the more popular and beneficial sites to submit your PR to.

Reciprocal Links

I find myself sitting on the fence when it comes to reciprocal links. Once upon a time, a reciprocal link campaign was the most popular way of building links. You exchange links with another website and you both benefit. They do still have their place, if you can negotiate a well placed link on a relevant website with a lot of traffic. However, in terms of SEO, reciprocal links are known to have been devalued by the search engines. Consider every reciprocal link opportunity based on its own merit and, in most cases, ignoring the search engine optimization possibilities.

Don't Spam Blogs And Forums

Above, we have detailed a couple of link building methods that include posting on forums and blogs. Please, don't spam. Spam is the scourge of the online world and something that every site owner could do without. Spamming will make you unpopular, may get your site delisted, and it sure won't make you any friends.

Don't Use FFA Link Farms

A FFA (Free For All) website enables any website owner to place their link on a web page. Don't do it. Search engines despise this practice and you will not gain any benefit in any way from the use of this kind of site.

Avoid Any Dubious Link Building Practice

If you see a link building opportunity that looks dodgy, ignore it. At best you will waste your time, but at worst your site could be penalized and you may never be able to recover. If it looks too good to be true... you know the rest.

About The Author
WebWiseWords offers an article writing and submission service as well as various other forms of website content writing and creation. Visit us today for help in creating compelling content and marketing your website.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Why is Search Engine Marketing So Popular?

The key to marketing has always been getting one's product recognized by as large a group of people as possible. Advertising has always been the key to any marketing effort. Companies spend millions on ad placements in trimedia campaigns that encompass print, radio and television.

Print, radio and television have traditionally been the main medium for marketing. However, in the past decades, another form of paid advertising has found itself on the rise, and this utilizes the internet.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing. It uses the web as a medium to spread awareness of its target product. Internet marketing has emerged as a cheap yet dynamic way to distribute information in the global market.

SEM seeks to promote websites - and the products being sold on those websites - by increasing their visibility through search engine results pages.

The development of SEM is an off-shoot of the success of the Internet in the global arena. As more and more people started using the web, more and more sites on a variety of topics started being created. In the mid-to-late 90s, search engines were developed to help people find the information they wanted quickly.

Soon search engines developed business models to finance their services such as pay per click programs.

A pay per click program is a small text ad that appears next to results from an on-line search. A marketer buys the rights for their ads to appear on a web page or a search engine. The ads are tied up to key words. When a searcher types in a particular query to a search engine, the engine not only offers up a listing of relevant websites but also the marketers "ad".

The first pay per click programs were offered by Open Text in 1996 and in 1998. changed its name to Overture and was purchased by Yahoo in 2003 and is now Yahoo! Search Marketing.

SEM methods include: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), paid placement, and paid inclusion.

Search Engine Optimization is a strategy by which you attempt to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a website by "marketing" it to a web site. Using key words and content to ensure your site shows up many times during searches.

Paid placement is the pay per click program. Advertisers pay when a user clicks on to the links to visit their web site. These are also known as sponsored links or sponsored ads. Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and MSN adCenter are the largest network operators of the pay per click program as of 2007. Minimum prices per click start at US$.01 to .50.

Paid inclusion is when a search engine company charges fees for the inclusion of a website in their search index. This fee structure is ment to ask as a filter against superfluous submissions - websites that try to "trick" the engine by using popular key words that are unrelated to actual content of site - and a revenue generator for the search engine company. The fee is typically an annual subscription rate.

SEM is a relatively cheap and inexpensive way to create traffic on you web site and cultivate brand recognition. A pay-per-click program is cheaper then a trimedia campaign and yet can reach a large number of people globally day and night. As a result, many companies are now taking advantage of the internet to let consumers know what they have.

According to a recent report by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, advertisers in North America alone spend $9.4 billion in SEM in 2006. In 2006, the majority of search marketers (62%) said branding was the primary objective of search marketing campaigns. Nearly as many, however (60%) said that selling products was a key objective. This year, direct sales were the top choice, at 58%, followed by brand awareness at 57%. For more companies, SEM spending is increasing and actually earning a bigger budget then other marketing techniques. It is estimated that by 2011, companies will be spending $ 18.6 billion on SEM.

This growth will be driven by strong advertiser demand, rising keyword pricing and more small and midsized business discovering the effectiveness of SEM.

Currently, SEM is an alternative marketing tool with many possibilities. It's increase in popularity will eventually result in more businesses utilizing SEM techniques and a possible rise in rates for web space. The faith major businesses are placing in SEM - as denoted by the money they are willing to spend on it - makes this fast growing advertising technique that should be utilized by any business seeking to make a name for it's globally.

About the Author: Mikhail Tuknov, a Search Engine Optimization Specialist, can improve search engine ranking of your online business. SEO specialist providing search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) management, web site design or development and web analytics services.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Health Hazards of IT Industry

Who says Information Technology is not hazardous to your health? The U.S. Department of Labor reported 20,690 work-related "non-fatal injuries involving days away from work" for I.T. workers in 2005. Dr. Jerry Sanders, D.C., was kind enough to spend an hour with me discussing some of the common injuries that afflict I.T. professionals and how to avoid them. Dr. Sanders has been in practice in New Jersey for 32 years. He can be reached via his website at

Download Dr. Sanders' Guide to Stretching Here

Q: I.T. jobs are often seen as a "safe", since you work indoors and the physical demands usually aren't that great. What are some of the most common injuries that afflict I.T. professionals?

It depends on what your job function is, really. For people who set up servers and workstations, move heavy computer equipment around, or pull cables through the walls and ceiling, pulled and strained muscles are common.

For a programmer, which tends to be a more sedentary job, backaches, neckaches, and pinched nerves tend to occur more frequently. Some problems are common for everyone in the field, however. Headaches and repetitive stress injuries, particularly in the hands, are very common. Prevention is extremely important.

Q: You say prevention is important. Do you have any specific recommendations?

First off your body should be comfortable on the job. If you are constantly adjusting your body to find that comfortable position, your body is trying to tell you something. A lot of people sit in uncomfortable positions and don't even realize it because their bodies are constantly compensating subconsciously. For many, it's important to pay conscious attention to your sitting or standing position, to how your body is adjusted — to where your feet, hands, and legs are situated — to determine how comfortable your body is.

There are several things you can do to avoid permanent injuries, or to keep injuries from getting worse. Some of the more common problems include:

  • Pain in your hands and wrists could be a sign of the beginnings of a serious repetitive stress injury. If you start experiencing persistent pain in your hands, try giving them a rest at regular intervals throughout the day. Also you might try a new keyboard, a more ergonomic mouse, wrist rests, and maybe even a wrist brace.
  • Persistent pain in the back and neck can be caused by a lot of different things. Poor posture while you sit is a major cause. Broken or wobbly chairs, which force your body to constantly correct its balance, are another. And a big problem in office settings is a computer monitor turned at an angle to your body, or at the wrong height. When you are looking at a computer monitor, it should be directly in front of you with the top of the screen positioned at eye level. Monitors that are placed too high or too low will cause you to strain your neck, or assume poor body posture to compensate.
  • If you spend a good deal of time on the telephone, it's a good idea to use headphones or a speakerphone instead of holding the telephone receiver with your neck and shoulder. Trying to hold the receiver with your neck can lead to stiff neck, headaches, and spinal problems.
  • Another problem is lifting and moving large objects (like servers) unsafely. If your job includes heavy lifting, you should take special care to avoid injury. Always bend with your knees and not your back.
A very common issue with some of my patients results from carrying lap-top computers with shoulder-strap bags. Carrying the computer on one shoulder all the time can strain the shoulder. I always recommend to my patients, at the very least, that they switch shoulders regularly. This might be a little uncomfortable at first, especially if you're used to carrying it on one shoulder, but most of my patients get used to it quickly and it helps considerably — especially with maintaining good posture while walking.

Q: I'd like to talk about a few of the specifics you covered. You mentioned the computer monitor on a desk should be positioned directly in front of you to prevent neck strain. What about people with two monitors?

Well, for two monitors the same thing applies. If you work with two monitors, turn your body (not just your head and neck) to face the monitor you are working with. This will help prevent neck strain, and it also helps the back since you're not twisting your body to one side to see the second monitor.

Q: You also mentioned repetitive stress injury in the hand and wrists. What type of keyboard and mouse do you recommend?

I don't have a particular brand name to recommend. There are so many options available these days. Some people prefer an ergonomic keyboard with an angled shape, while others prefer a regular keyboard with a height adjustment. As for the mouse, some people prefer a trackball over a regular mouse because they don't have to move their wrists as much, but the important thing is to find peripherals that are comfortable for you. And don't be afraid to try a new style of keyboard or mouse. It's a small investment for something simple that can help prevent major problems down the road.

Q: What do you mean by "major problems down the road"?

Well, repetitive stress injuries are often a precursor to carpal tunnel syndrome. These are very serious injuries that are extremely painful and can literally prevent you from getting any work done for days, or even weeks, at a time. In the most serious cases it can require surgeries and prescription medication just to help manage the pain. The search for a comfortable mouse and keyboard is a very small price to pay to help avoid these types of injuries.

Q: And what's the best way to avoid injuries if you have to do heavy lifting on the job?

You should always stretch before you move large objects. At the least, you should give your arms, legs, and back a good warm-up. Of course you should always lift by bending your knees, and your back. Just as importantly, use tools (like dollies or carts) to move large objects whenever possible. For people who do a lot of heavy lifting regularly I might even recommend getting a Trochanteric support belt.

Q: Whats a Trochanteric support belt? Is that a back brace?

It's a support belt designed to go around the hips, not the waist. The design keeps the ligaments tight to give extra support. A regular "back-brace" belt that goes around the waist waist provides support, but if worn for a long period these waist belts can cause the muscles in the lower back to weaken.

Q: You keep mentioning good posture. What are some of the things we can do to maintain good posture?

Yes, good posture is key, and will prevent a lot of problems. Basically good posture consists of keeping the back straight, and the spine and head upright. When sitting, you should be seated well back into the chair. A small cushion can be placed in the back of the chair, or a chair with built-in lumbar support, will help offer some support as well. To reduce stress on the legs and back, sit with your knees at the same height as your hips; some people use an adjustable footrest for this, and most office chairs these days are adjustable.

Q: OK, I have to ask this. There was a popular sitcom on TV, and in one episode one of the characters says his doctor told him not to carry a wallet — because it was bad for his health. Is there any truth to this?

As a matter of fact, yes. Sitting on a bulky wallet raises one hip higher than the other, and tilts the foundation of the spine to one side. That wallet in your back pocket can cause, or worsen, a sciatica or lower back problem. If you have a bulky wallet, I recommend keeping it in a side pocket when sitting. On a practical note, keeping your wallet in your front or side pocket also makes it harder for a pick-pocket to steal it.

[Editor's Note: Sciatica is an inflamed nerve resulting from a pinched nerve in the lower back area.]

Q: What about the eyes?

Protecting your eyes is very important. Obviously your monitor should have a bright, crisp, high contrast, clear image. Nothing strains the eyes so much as a monitor with a low contrast or fuzzy image. Staring at a fuzzy monitor 8 hours per day can cause eye strain, headaches, and even eventually degrade your vision.

Another thing that people don't realize is that they normally blink once every 5 seconds (on average). When staring at a computer screen, however, you will blink about once every 15 seconds. People who wear contact lenses and work on computers might notice that their eyes seem to get particularly dry, and their lenses bother them, because of this. This is an important reason to give your eyes a rest every once in a while. Even if you just stare away from the monitor for a minute or so every fifteen minutes, it will give your eyes a chance to refresh themselves.

Newer (LCD) flat-panel monitors are easier on the eyes than older (CRT) monitors because they don't have to refresh the entire screen 60 or 70 times per second. They also tend to have better contrast which helps. Also they (LCD monitors) don't emit as much radiation, which is better on the eyes and your body in general.

[Editor's Note: If you are concerned about monitor radiation, look for TCO'99 (or newer) and/or MPR II certification. These are strict standards that cover radiation emissions from monitors. More information on all aspects of monitors is available at]

Q: At what point do you recommend seeing a chiropractic physician about your aches and pains?

Whenever your pains don't go away with a good night's sleep, or if you notice your posture is not good. Here's a little test you can do at home, with the help of another person:

  1. Lie down flat in a prone (face-down) or supine (face-up) position; your leg length should be even.
  2. Turn your head to the left (just your head), and have the other person look at the length of your legs.
  3. Turn your head to the right and have the person look at the length of your legs again.
  4. If you're lying face-down, bend your legs at the knees while lying down and have the other person inspect their length again.

In all of these tests, the length of your legs should stay even. If not, it's a sign you might benefit from a chiropractic adjustment.

Q: OK, one final question. Are there any vitamins or natural supplements people can pick up locally that will help prevent problems?

Well, everybody's eating habits vary, but a good multivitamin and mineral supplement is often helpful. I can't recommend specifics for non-patients, but you can consult a nutritionist or physician to create a specific dietary plan just for you.

Download Dr. Sanders' Guide to Stretching Here


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Points to Ponder for Successful Web Advertising

You would think that everyone in business would be able to tell you what they do and why you should be doing business with them; unfortunately the sad truth is many business executives can't. In fact one of the biggest problems in designing websites has always been getting appropriate raw material that can be turned into meaningful presentations: a handful of badly written brochures and a few out-of-date photographs are not going to make much of an impression.

And now that the Web has involved into a sophisticated communication platform, able to deliver audio and video content, the problem has become even worse; not only do websites need to deliver appropriate copy and image content, they need to present audio dialog and video performances that demonstrate how products and services improve the business or personal lives of website visitors.

As a company we are good at what we do, we can turn the mundane into the memorable but we can't do it if clients don't know or can't express their own marketing story, or are unwilling to allow their multimedia advisor to develop that story for them.

At the heart of the problem is fear, fear of making a definitive statement, declaring loud and clear what you do, and why anyone should care. It's no longer good enough to apply technical solutions to marketing problems: you are not going to engage your audience with SEO, XML, CSS, or PHP. You must have a story to tell and you can't be afraid to tell it as boldly as you can.

Do You Know Who You Are and What You Really Do?

We know who we are and what we do: we deliver our message knowing that some people are just not going to buy into what we have to say, but those that do get it, really get it, and they are our potential clients. As far as the others are concerned, well, there's lots of business for everybody, and nobody is going to get it all.

You can't be afraid to loose a customer you never had in the first place. In our case our job is clear: we deliver marketing stories using Web-video and audio in memorable Web-presentations. We are not afraid to tell clients that they need multimedia, and that an over dependence on search engine optimization or any other technical answer is a mistake - a big mistake.

Are You Doing All You Can To Attract Business?

There are many methods that can be employed to drive appropriate traffic to your site: search engine optimization is only one. Have you written and published articles and advice on what you do, have you created a blog or a MySpace page to create a community of interest, or have you issued press releases on new developments and product releases? If you're relying solely on search engine optimization as a substitute for marketing, you are not doing everything you can to attract new business.

Even if your search engine tactics are attracting large numbers of visitors to your site, what is your conversion rate, how long are people staying on your site, and do you have enough compelling content to get them to come back?

If you're in the business of selling banner and text ads on your site, if that is how you make your living, then lots of random traffic may serve your purpose; but if you are in the business of providing something useful to people, then you better pay more attention to what your visitors see once they arrive on your site. After all, all the traffic in the world is useless if those visitors don't get your message. It all starts with the message, so what's your message?

What's Your Story?

Crafting your marketing story is not as easy as it sounds, and you may have to let go of some outdated thinking in order to bring your story to life.

Web-videos are not feature films or even viral videos intended to show how clever you are. You are making a commercial: special effects may be cool but they are not a substitute for a finely crafted script delivered by a professional performer.

Websites Don't Close Sales, People Close Sales

Web-videos are designed to make a statement: "this is who we are, and this is what we do, so contact us to find out how we can change your life." Websites create leads, not sales; so don't expect your Web-video to make the sale, that's your job.

Now you know the purpose of your website presentation, it is time to figure out what you want to say.

For more detailed article, check out this article, titled,
Six Questions That Produce Successful Web Advertising

About the Author: Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit,, and Contact at info(a) or telephone (905) 764-1246.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Turn Customer Complaints into Assets

Virtually every organization encounters customer complaints from time to time. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the complaints and to lose track of how many satisfied customers say nothing at all. Even worse, sometimes it is hard to remember just how valuable a customer complaint can be to the organization. Contrary to how it may feel to be the recipient of a customer complaint, it is a wonderful opportunity if embraced with commitment and integrity. You can turn customer complaints into valuable assets.

First, it is important to recognize that the majority of customers who complain are loyal customers who care about your business.

Customers who take the time to complain are also taking the time to tell you what went wrong with your process, your product or your communication. It takes some effort for a customer to contact you and tell you how the product, process or communications did not live up to expectations. This is an opportunity to reward the customer for taking the time to contact you and to learn how you can make internal improvements. If you can fix the problem for one complaining customer it may help many other customers, including the ones who never contacted you.

Loyal customers believe that you want to know what went wrong, and trust you to make it right. Loyal customers give you a chance to fix the issue. If one customer complains, it is typically an indication that there are several more with the same experience. If a complaining customer is irate, it is because the customer is disappointed. If there are other disappointed customers who do not call, you can bet that those customers have already given up on you. Customers who are disappointed and do not complain are already lost, but you have a chance to save the ones who are loyal enough to give you the opportunity to respond.

The complaining customer trusts you to care.

The complaining customer trusts you to care, this is why the customer contacted you. Don't avoid them, embrace them. If a customer does not contact you, it does not mean that they did not experience a similar issue. The customers who to not trust you, or do not believe that you will care, do not take the time to contact you. Customers with similar issues who do not contact you are already lost. The customers who do take the time to complain are the most loyal customers because they believe in you, in spite of the problem that they are experiencing.

Remember that the customer is not complaining about you, they are expressing the dissatisfaction to you. You are not the problem, you are the solution. Rather than perceiving the customer frustration as a personal attack, think of yourself as a person that the customer is coming to for help. How you respond to the complaining customer will determine the long term loyalty of the customer. Take care of a customer who takes time to communicate with you, and you may preserve the loyalty. Let them go, and they will communicate the experience to many other potential customers.

Turn complaints into assets.

Fix the customer and then fix the problem. Your first priority should be to understand the personal impact of the problem with your customer. It may be that the frustration expressed by the customer is the result of some dynamic impact other than the issue itself. The customer may feel mislead by communications, betrayed by the organization, or suffered some other impact as the result of the original problem. Listen to the underlying message of the complaint so you can identify what it will take to reassure the customer and address the specific needs.

Once you understand the root cause of the complaint, you may have an opportunity to implement changes that could avoid a reoccurrence of the problem. This may be your opportunity to increase customer satisfaction at an exponential rate.. If you can not eliminate the problem, at least you can use the experience to prepare a responsible solution for other customers who may have the same complaint. If it can not be eliminated, at least you can plan and prepare.

Preserve loyal customers who take the time to complain. Use the experience to eliminate defects, plan for countermeasures and responses.

How much money is invested in sales efforts, marketing, advertising and the acquisition of new customers? How much are you prepared to invest in the customers who have experienced a problem due to your organization and still trust you enough to take care of them?

Words of Wisdom

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." - Bill Gates

"Too many people think only of their own profit. But business opportunity seldom knocks on the door of self-centered people. No customer ever goes to a store merely to please the storekeeper." - Kazuo Inamori

"The customer doesn't expect everything will go right all the time; the big test is what you do when things go wrong." - Sir Colin Marshall

About the Author: John Mehrmann is a freelance author, industry expert and President of Executive Blueprints Inc, an organization dedicated to developing human capital and personal growth.