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It’s a New Year, and time to take stock of what’s available online to help market your business. Yes, it’s confusing and things change very quickly. So think of me as your web technology guide – I’m here to bounce ideas off and support you in your online endeavours.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of enquiries about the following topics – automating email marketing, getting started with e-commerce and which social media sites to go on. So here’s my take on the best solutions.

Automating your email marketing efforts by capitalising on your blog

Email marketing is hard work and so is blogging. But did you know that you can get the two to work together? That’s right; you can automatically email your blog posts to your mailing list with RSS and MailChimp

With MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) you can create an email marketing campaign that automatically emails out your most recent blog posts to your subscribers. MailChimp does this by importing your blog content using the RSS feed that comes with WordPress.

You can choose to show the blog posts in full or just a summary with a link to the full blog post online. You can schedule the email to be sent on a particular day and every week, day or month thereafter. The email is only sent if you have published a new blog post between campaigns.

This is a fabulous way to keep your subscribers up to date with your news. It also has a viral marketing component as MailChimp builds in the option to share the email on social media sites like Facebook or to forward it to a friend by email.

MailChimp is completely free if your subscriber list is less than 2,000 email addresses. Learn more at www.mailchimp.com. I can help you with all aspects of MailChimp.

Easy E-Commerce with Shopify.com

Finally e-commerce is easy. I’ve recently been working with the Shopify (www.shopify.com) shopping system. It’s a hosted system developed by a Canadian company (but works extremely well for NZ based retailers). A hosted shopping system is one that works ‘out of the box’ with pre-made templates that can be customised to your needs. This means you can get online very quickly with a highly professional e-commerce website.

Using a hosted shopping system takes away a lot of the stress of evaluating e-commerce software and solves many security issues as the software is maintained by the company that built it. This means you can concentrate on crafting your content and your sales message – as the technology is all taken care of.

Shopify comes with a 14-day free trial so you can fully evaluate the system before deciding on a monthly plan. Take it for a test drive at www.shopify.com. And when you’re ready, I’m here to help you as much as you need.

Which Social Media Site should you be on?

I’m often asked which social media sites are worth the effort. The answer is – it depends. A lot of it comes down to the type of service or product you are marketing and what talents and skills your business has internally, as it takes a lot of time and effort to do social media well and the pay off may not be immediate. Think of social media websites as monsters that constantly eat content.

The content you can confidently generate will ultimately determine what social media sites you go on. A YouTube presence for example, will only be truly useful if you publish your own video content.

Most companies should at least have a Facebook page as these are so ubiquitous now. There is also the Google + business page as an option – learn more at http://www.google.com/+/business/.

I’ve only just signed Web Matters up for a Google + page so will keep you posted on the benefits. However, these pages are showing up in Google (provided they have relevant content on them). That’s reason enough to give it a go.

Well, I hope you are having a great start to 2013. If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help – just email me at [email protected].

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