Archive for the ‘Small business tools’ Category

New Feature: Convert Contacts to Customers With Auto Responders

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Ofuz 0.5.8 has quite a few new features, and over 90 across the board improvements. In this blog post, I want to tell you about the new Auto Responder feature in Ofuz.

An Auto Responder is a mailing list feature that sends timed followup messages to your mailing list. You create a sequence of email templates and tell the Auto Responder how long to wait before sending each one. Then, when new people join your mailing list, the Auto Responder sends out your emails at your chosen intervals using the merge fields from your email templates to personalize each email.

Auto Responders can be a great way to convert contacts into customers. Remember the following important facts:

  • On average, it takes 7 contacts within 18 months to make a sale. Reference
  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact, 3% on the second, 5% on the third, 10% on the fourth, and 80% on the fifth to twelfth! Reference

Auto Responder sequences should provide interesting or valuable information to your contacts, and it should remind them about the benefits of becoming a customer.

Here’s how to set up an Auto Responder in Ofuz.

  1. Sign in to your Ofuz account.
  2. Set up any email templates that you plan to use for your Auto Responder.
  3. In the top right of the Ofuz page, click Settings.
  4. On the left navigation bar, click Auto Responder.
  5. Click Create New.
  6. In the Auto Responder Name field, type a name for your new Auto Responder.
  7. In the Tag Name field, choose the tag that you want to associate with this Auto Responder. Contacts tagged with this tag will receive your new Auto Responder sequence.
  8. Click Create.
  9. The new Auto Responder appears in your list of Auto Responders. Click the new Auto Responder’s name.
  10. Click here to the right of You do not have any auto responder Email Templates for Auto Responder1.
  11. Either click Select Email Template and choose an existing email template to add to your Auto Responder, or create a new email template using the form that appears.
  12. Fill in the Name field with a name for this template.
  13. Fill in the Subject field with the subject you want this email to have.
  14. In the Send it in field, type the number of days you want to wait before sending this message.
  15. In the Message editor, create your message.
  16. Click Create.
  17. To create additional emails for this Auto Responder, click Add a new email, and then repeat steps 11 – 16.

That’s all there is to it! Ofuz contacts that are tagged with the tag assigned to your new Auto Responder will automatically receive personalized emails at the intervals you’ve chosen. You can really save yourself some time by combining the Ofuz Web Form feature with the Auto Responder feature.

Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to get a free Ofuz account to take advantage of over 90 enhancements, just released in Ofuz 0.5.8!

How to Create a Free Squeeze Page Using Ofuz, pt3

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

We’re wrapping up our three-part series on how to create a free squeeze page using Ofuz with two screencasts, walking you through the process step-by-step.

Creating a squeeze page on a free Blogger.com account:

Creating a squeeze page on a self-hosted WordPress blog:

Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to get a free Ofuz account to take advantage of over 90 enhancements, just released in Ofuz 0.5.8!

Create a Free Squeeze Page, pt. 2

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

In the first part of this blog post series, we talked about why you might want to create a squeeze page to build your mailing list.

Now, let’s talk about how to do it. Here’s what you need to get started:

First, we’ve created something of value to give away to people we think would make good customers. That Thing of Value is a short ebook we’ve written specifically to appeal to people who might make good paying customers.

All they need to do to get the free ebook is provide us with their name and email address, and permission to contact them in the future.

Second, we’ve got an Ofuz.com account. That’s the other big part of this solution. You can sign up for mailing list management through Aweber or Mailchimp, but those products are often overkill for what the small business or freelancer needs to do. Ofuz, on the other hand, is just right for folks who need to manage several small or medium size mailing lists. That’s us, so let’s get started!

Here’s the process:

  1. We’ll create a WordPress page where potential customers can download our free ebook. It will be “invisible,” meaning that it’s not linked to by any page or post on our site.

    Note: WordPress.com, for security reasons, blocks all embedded forms, even safe ones like your Ofuz web form. So, to use this technique, use another free hosted blog service like Blogger.com, or use a self-hosted WordPress installation. We’ll show you both methods in the screencast later this week.

  2. Create an Ofuz web form. Directions for doing that are found here. Make sure the thank you page for the Ofuz form is set to the URL for the download page you created in the previous step.
  3. Create a WordPress page where your squeeze page text and the Ofuz web form will go. The squeeze page contains text that describes the value of what you are giving away, politely asks for permission to use their email address in exchange for the freebie, and contains the embed code for your Ofuz web form.

That’s all there is to it!

In the final part of this blog post, we’ll have a short screencast that walks you through setting up a free squeeze page using WordPress and Ofuz.

Stay tuned, and in the meantime sign up for a free Ofuz account now!

Creating a Free Squeeze Page, pt. 1

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I recently was contacted by a potential customer who was completely off my radar. He hadn’t written me in months, but I had been keeping in touch with him. You, known, sending him the ocassional update on what I’ve been up to, what new things I’ve learned and think are cool. Like we talk about here. He never responded to these emails, but this week he wrote out of the blue to let me know I’m still on his short list for work.

That’s one small example of the power of repeated contact. All advertising is based on the principle that familiarity is a big part of the decision to buy. That principle can apply to freelancers, small businesses, and anyone else who wants to increase their sales. Before we go any further along this line of reasoning, let’s look at some of the things that good marketers take for granted:

  • On average, it takes 7 contacts within 18 months to make a sale. Reference
  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact, 3% on the second, 5% on the third, 10% on the fourth, and 80% on the fifth to twelfth! Reference
  • You better have two things before you contact someone:
    • Their permission
    • Something of value to offer them

The takeaway: If you want to convert a contact into a customer, you need to make repeated contacts to do so. An opt-in email list can be the best way to stay in touch with contacts, contact them repeatedly, and convert them into customers.

One way to build an opt-in email list is a squeeze page. This is based on what’s known as the give-get exchange. You give something of value to people who are likely to want what you have to sell, and in return they give you their email address and their permission to receive emails from you.

If you’re going to create a squeeze page (and we recommend you do, or at least work on building an email list of potential customers), then keep the following things in mind:

  • The difference between spam and email that will help you get new customers is value (and permission). The email must have something of value for your list.
  • Be careful how often you contact your list. Remember that “familiarity breeds contempt,” so keep your emails to-the-point and not too frequent!

In the next post, we’ll walk you though building a squeeze page using Ofuz and WordPress. Stay tuned, and sign up now for a free Ofuz account.

The Freelance Tipping Point

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

One of the joys of freelance work is the low overhead of working on your own. No full-time accountants to pay, no administrative staff to manage. However, for every successful freelancer (that’s you, right?), there comes a time when the work of being your own accountant, marketing department, and administrative assistant starts to dilute your hourly rate.

Friction Losses: Going Up in Unbillable Smoke

The rule of thumb that says a freelancer will be able to bill for half of the hours they work is based, at least in part, on the fact that most freelancers are their own accountant, marketing department, and administrative assistant. 50% of the hours a typical freelancer works go up in unbillable smoke because of these necessary administrative functions. I call these Friction Losses, because they can be reduced, but never completely eliminated.

You can reduce Friction Losses with better technology and better processes. Everyone has a different definition of better, but in general I mean:

  • Easier to use
  • Automates repetitive tasks
  • Leverages integration

That’s pretty abstract stuff, but stay tuned because in the next few blog posts here we’ll take you through how Ofuz helps freelancers reduce Friction Losses.

Opportunity Losses: Where Your Next Meal is Coming From

Business growth is a tricky thing. For anyone who bills on an hourly basis, being busy brings in more money. But, what if you’re so busy doing your thing that you don’t have time to develop new business opportunities and leads? That’s an Opportunity Loss.

A lot of my freelancing friends have a single client. The rest of us are juggling multiple clients. The biggest Opportunity Loss is going from being very busy doing your thing to suddenly being idle because you were too busy to develop new clients and leads. No matter how many clients you have, if you are occupied working on projects, sending out invoices, and making sure all of those little tasks are checked off your to do list, when are you going to find the time to go get the next job? Again, better tools can help.

Freelancers can reduce Opportunity Losses by better leveraging integration. For example, every existing and past client is a potential bridge to new clients. Ofuz offers unified contact management and project management that helps you use that list of names locked up in your email software to help you collaborate and reach out to existing and potential clients better.

Clean Your Desk With Ofuz: Invoice, Tasks, and Contacts in One Place

Every freelancer with a growing business reaches the tipping point: the point where they ask the question, “Should I hire help with this so I can focus on doing my thing?” The point where things might start to drop between the cracks and where invoicing using those Word or Excel templates is starting to look bush league. The point where managing your collaboration with a bunch of Google Docs files isn’t cutting it anymore.

Ofuz can help you navigate the tipping point more easily and efficiently. Ofuz brings together the bulk of your freelance management tasks into a unified interface. With contact management, task tracking, collaboration, and easy invoicing, Ofuz helps freelancers do their thing more easily. Sign up for an account today.

In the next few blog posts, we’ll show how specific Ofuz features help freelancers reduce Friction and Opportunity Losses. Stay tuned!

“Your Freelance Command Center” by Usefultools.com

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Usefultools.com did a nice review of Ofuz with screen shot and all.

http://www.usefultools.com/2010/03/your-freelance-command-center/

Ofuz is seriously one of the best apps for freelancers/small business owners I’ve seen in a long time

From twitter http://twitter.com/usefultools

They gave us a 4.5 score which is one of the top scores,
Thank you guys

We are taking notes of your suggestion on expenses and integration with stronger accounting applications.

http://usefultools.com is a great review site for web application, they actually review and test the applications they talk about.
Its a great place to find good web app for your business or personal use.

Entrepreneurial resources

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Marcus P. Zillman added Ofuz to his Entrepreneurial resources list of useful tools.

Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. Author/Speaker/Consultant.