Category Archives: Business Tools

Creativity and Productivity - Yin and Yang

Productive Time vs Creative Time – The Yin and Yang of Business


Creativity and Productivity – 2 sides of the same coin

Managing productive time vs creative time is the great struggle as a business owner. I don’t believe that we, as individuals, are just one or the other. I don’t believe that some people are productive while some are creative. Sure, some people seem to be more of one than the other, but that may just be their perception or our perception of them based on what they show in their offerings to the public.

A business owner and an artist. One is seen as productive, the other creative. But, it takes both action and inspiration for a business owner to be an entrepreneur and an artist to be recognized and celebrated.


Are you more productive during some times of the day?

Some people get more done before noon than others get done all day – or all week. Some people are more focused and productive at night.

I don’t generally consider myself to be a morning person, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m truly at my most productive in the morning, before noon. Mid-to-late evening, I can knock some things off my to-list pretty quickly, too. But, mid-afternoon? Forget about it. I’m useless. Well, not really useless. That’s when I schedule meetings, do research or fiddle with my social media accounts. Stuff that needs attention, but aren’t the most important, push-the-needle kind of activities.

The goal is to figure out when you feel like you get the most done:

  • When are you the most energized and alert?
  • When do you have the least interruptions?
  • When are you most in the mood to take on your to-do list and win?


Are you more creative during certain times of the day?

This doesn’t just apply to artists, as I mentioned above. We’re all artists in our own way. We all create something. We all put our own twists on what we do and the way we do it.

My creativity levels are highest between midnight at 4:00 AM. This is sometimes problematic, but it’s the way it is and the way my brain works.

When do you most often have your best ideas?

  • In the car?
  • In the shower?
  • When you can’t sleep?
  • At the gym?

 

productive time vs creative time - Yin and Yang


What if your productive times and creative times aren’t the same?

Well, they’re likely not at the same time. But that’s a good thing, really.  

We need time to wonder, mull, dream, and what-if. We also need time to focus and produce. These tasks use different sides of the brain, so it make sense that they don’t naturally occur at the same time as each other. However, they do each naturally occur at the same time each day.

We have to figure out when we’re most productive and when we’re most creative and use that knowledge to put our best work out into the world.  It doesn’t have to be about Productive Time vs Creative Time, but harnessing the power of Productivity and Creativity, at their naturally occurring times.

If I’m super creative at night, I have to sleep in, which means I’m less likely to be productive the next day. So, I’m unlikely to be at my most productive and my most creative in the same 24 hour period. But, I’ve developed some strategies to help with that.


Using creativity to be more productive

According to James Hayton, author of PHD: AN UNCOMMON GUIDE, being productive is easy. Being productive means working harder or faster, working more hours and/or improving our efficiency and effectiveness. But it only works when we know what we’re supposed to do and how to do it.

That’s where creativity comes in. Those moments of inspiration that make knowing what we’re supposed to do become so clear.  And those flashes of genius that allow us to know just how to do it.

All those creative ideas I have late at night? I used to forget them all by the next morning.

But, if I record them somehow, make some kind of a list for my next Productivity Push, I get so many more of my ideas out into the world.

You don’t want to interrupt your inspiration, so you need something quick and easy to capture the moment without breaking the flow. Try some of these during Creative Time:

  • Make an idea list on the back of an envelope
  • Add some to-dos to tomorrow’s Google calendar
  • Outline a blog post
  • Write in a journal
  • Record your thoughts on your phone
  • Open Facebook or Periscope and do a live video of you just thinking out loud
  • Draw, doodle or make charts
  • Use sticky notes or index cards
  • Use Evernote (https://evernote.com/) to organize your ideas

When you’re in the flow of ideas, don’t just let them flow and then fly away – capture them for Productive Time. What works best for you is what’s important.  Productive Time vs Creative Time is part of the yin and the yang of life and of business.


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Your Email List, The Gmail Algorithm and Why Your Open Rates Are Dropping

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Gmail Open Rates

If your Gmail open rates are dropping, it could be a misunderstanding between your email content and the Gmail Algorithm.  Gmail open rates are affected by the algorithm and once you understand what it wants, your open rates will improve.

 

How Gmail Treats Your Beloved Newsletter

Gmail is the largest email provider in the world, so knowing how to properly send your email newsletter or announcements to your subscribers with Gmail accounts is absolutely essential.

If you use Gmail, you’re probably familiar with the Promotions tab.  How often do you open and read those – or do you read only the emails that land in your Primary folder?

 

Gmail Open Rates and Gmail Tabs: Primary, Social & Promotions

Just like Google has done with its search results, it’s also filtering the spammy and sales-y stuff out of our primary inbox to show us – hopefully – only the things we want to see most.

Gmail looks at certain words and phrases and decides where to put your email.  This directly affects your Gmail open rate. If it reads like a sales piece or a promotion, it goes in the Promotions tab. Gmail users can disable these tabs and get all of their email in their Primary box, so that’s good. 

According to a study conducted by ReturnPath and three million Gmail users, the tabs actually improved deliver-ability, increased open rates, and decreased spam complaints. But, your email announcement or special event email may not be landing where you want it to.  And most users don’t bother to do anything on their end to change that.

 

How To Find Out Which Tab You’re Landing In

 

The best way to do this is to send your email to a test list.  This test list is a set of email addresses that you own from different email service providers like Yahoo.com, Outlook.com, and of course Gmail.

You’ll manually check those email accounts noting where your test email landed and opening them to check for any layout issues. Your mailing list software (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Drip, etc.) will show you which were received and which were opened.

If that sounds like a pain, there are tools available to help.  One such tool, Glockapps.com, can do it for you.  Glock allows you to send test runs and tells you where your email ended up and why, with reputation scores and what you can do to improve your email content for better deliverability and open rates. You can test it out by sending your latest email newsletter or announcement to them right now from their home page.

 

What Else Can I Do?

 

  1. First, make sure you’re not blacklisted:  http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
  2. Make sure you’re using a reputable email sending service and that you authenticate your sending domain with SPF and DKIM authentication.  Ask the person that handles your domain and DNS records (probably your web admin, developer or designer) about this.
  3. Ask your subscribers to Add your “From” email address to their Google Contacts. Emails from a subscriber’s Google Contacts always go to their Primary inbox. In your mailing list sign up confirmation page, and any time you capture a new lead, ask your subscribers to add your “From” email address to their Google Contacts.
  4. Encourage your subscribers to Move your emails to the Primary tab.  Subscribers can “teach” Gmail where to deliver your messages so your future emails will go to the tab the user prefers.
  5. Encourage replies.  Active engagement shows Gmail that they like interacting with you.
  6. Ask subscribers to “whitelist” you – if they find you in spam, they can flag you as “not spam”.  This not only helps that subscriber get your emails in the future, but teaches Gmail that your emails may be valuable to others as well.
  7. Maintain a healthy list by removing non-engagers – people who never open your emails – and removing unsubscribers immediately.
  8. Keep your emails short and sweet and add a link to your newsletter or product announcement online instead. Too many images and links signal “Promotion” to the Gmail algorithm.

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Beginner’s Guide To Tracking Website Visitors With Google Analytics

Category : Business Tools

Beginners Guide to Google Analytics

PSA:  This post is for Google Analytics newbies.  It covers the very basics on how to set up a Google Analytics account and start tracking your website traffic. In this Beginners Guide to Google Analytics, learn how to start tracking your website traffic. 

 

What Is Google Analytics?

 

Google Analytics is the Gold Standard of website visitor tracking tools.  

It’s free, it can be used by anyone with a website and a Google / gmail account and it will suck you down a rabbit hole of charts, stats, goal tracking and the stark reality of how your website is really doing.  Haha!  

We won’t go down into the depths here, but merely get you started using the tool so you can – first and foremost – get an overview of how many people are visiting your site and which pages they are viewing.  The many more in-depth features of Google Analytics will be covered in future articles.  


Why Should You Add Google Analytics To Your Website?

 

If you’re not currently using a website analytics tool, you probably don’t know how many people visit your site on a daily basis, where they are from, how long they stay and which pages they spend the most time on.  This is vital information to know if you’re reaching your target audience at all.

And you NEED to be able to see visitor trends over time to know if your marketing efforts are having any impact.  

Let’s get started.


How To Set Up A Google Analytics Account

 

  1. Click here to go to Google Analytics.
  2. If you have a Google account, click Sign in. If you don’tt have a Google account, you’ll need to Create an account first.
  3. Once you have signed in to your Google account, click Access Google Analytics and Click Sign Up.
  4. Fill in your Account Name (probably your company name), Website Name (this can be your company name again or your url or whatever is useful to you), Website URL (www.yourdomainname.com), and select an Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone.
  5. Under Data Sharing Options, check the boxes next to the options that you want.
  6. Click Get Tracking ID.
  7. Accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement that pops up.
  8. Copy the Tracking code that displays.  This is not the Tracking ID number, but the several lines of code below that.


“I Can’t Find The Code”

 

If you’ve lost the code before you could copy and paste, never fear.  Just click on Admin in the navigation panel and you’ll see your new site divided into 3 columns of links.  In the middle column, under Property, click on Tracking Info and then Tracking Code.


Where To Add It On Your Site

 

There has been quite a bit of discussion about this and Google’s recommendation has even changed over time.  Here’s the latest: The tracking code should be in the <head> portion of your site, preferably before any other javascript code.  If you’re not sure how to do this, give the code to your web administrator and they’ll know what to do.

If you’re using WordPress as your website content management system, there are any number of plugins that can do this for you.  You may already have one installed.  If not, we recommend the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. If you use this plugin, all you need is the Tracking ID number, not the code itself.


Check Your Real-Time Stats

 

Go back to Google Analytics and click on Reporting.  If you haven’t yet, bookmark this page because you’ll be visiting it often to see how your site is doing.

Your page probably looks like this: 

Beginners Guide to Google Analytics - GA screenshot

Now, it’ll take 24 hours or so before your reports will start showing traffic and trends over time, but right now, we can make sure your tracking code is properly installed and doing its job.

First, make sure your website is open – in another tab or window.  In Google Analytics, click on Real-Time (on the left) and then Overview.  You should see that the report is tracking visitors Right Now.  If not, go grab that tracking code again – make sure you get all of it – and re-install in your site.)


Check Your Reports

 

In the next day or so, you’ll see visitor tracking showing up.  Here’s the first place you want to look, in my opinion – to get your feet wet with these reports:

On the left, click on Behavior -> Overview -> Site Content -> All Pages.

 This will allow you to quickly see visitor counts by day, week and month and also to see which pages are most visited and for how long.

Remember, this is merely a beginners guide to Google Analytics.  We’ve barely scratched the service. There is a TON that Google Analytics can show you and if you’re a numbers and charts nerd like me, you’re in for a new addiction – I’m sorry. Enjoy!