Stop Spamming with Your Email List


If I go to a networking event and collect a bunch of business cards, can I add them manually to my email marketing program? Maybe. It depends on the circumstances. If you asked them if you could put them on your list, YES you may. Ask them to write “yes to email” on the card so you have evidence. If you didn’t ask or you didn’t hear an explicit yes, then NO you may not add them to your email list. Here is the question I am asked a lot, “Surely it is ok to add these people if I have an “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of my email, right?” Not so fast. The front end subscribe is as important or even more important than the unsubscribe button at the back end. Email subscribers must be permission based.

Many people argue that it is ok to add the names now, beg for forgiveness later if they get caught. Doing it the right way from the get go, not only keeps you out of trouble from violating your email program’s terms and conditions, it keeps you out of trouble with the CAN SPAM and CASL laws, and it is the best way to grow your list. The people on it should be the people who are interested in hearing from you. People who want to learn from you. People who will probably buy your products or services down the road, or at the very least refer you to other potential buyers. Your email list should be permission based. So why jeopardize it with subscribers who didn’t give you permission to be added to your list. Some email providers do offer exceptions with the “permission based”.  Some will allow you to add people that are called “implied consent”.  These would be people that you have as customers.  It is ok to add them to your email list, for casual email blasts but I wouldn’t add them to a newsletter list. If they didn’t sign up for the newsletter they may unsubscribe. Besides, why would you want someone on your list that doesn’t want to be.

If you ignore the terms and conditions and you end up with a lot of unsubscribes or accused of SPAMMING, you may get questioned by your email provider and are at risk of having your program suspended or cancelled. In case you are one of those people who are skeptics and would argue I am wrong, I have added a few links at the bottom of this article to add credibility to my advice. Grow it right and your email list will give you golden opportunities to share your message and drive sales.

Hey look, I know it is hard to build that list. You have made the wise decision to have an email program and you want to grow that list. This news is frustrating. I don’t want to have this blog be all about gloom and doom. Below are some tips to help grow the list, the right way.

Ways to get people to subscribe to your list.


  1. If you are a guest speaker at an event, pass around a sheet that clearly asks, “Would you like me to stay in touch, join my email list”.  Have the meeting and date at the top of the sheet. They can add their names. Totally voluntary. You have clear evidence that they gave you permission.
  2. Add a subscribe button to your website. Add a subscribe button to your Facebook Business Page. Blog articles or Ads, or Social Media posts can encourage people to subscribe to your list.
  3. Put a subscribe button on your tablet or mobile phone. When you are at meetings you can suggest they subscribe. Hand them your tablet or mobile, so they can sign up right on the spot.
  4. You got those business cards. Send them a personal email reminding them how they met you and invite them to join your list and have a link in the email for them to sign up. That is not spamming. By the way, great place to let them know about your “lead magnet”.

Links to learn how to keep you business email program out of trouble. Know your audience and what is expected of you.  Forewarned is forearmed.


Save these links for later reference.


Definition of SPAM:

Here is iContacts SPAM policy:

Here is Constant Contacts SPAM Policy:

Here is Infusionsoft’s SPAM policy:

Here is MailChimp’s SPAM policy: AND 

NOTE:  Both Infusionsoft and MailChimp takes SPAM so seriously that they are already adhering to CASL (Canada’s Laws) and require you ALWAYS have EXPLICIT permission and proof. By the way, new rules are coming out for dealing with Europe. Important to know if you have International Clients.

Regarding Governing Agencies: 



Regulations about mobile communications (texting and SPAM) that are now also extending to regulations on commercial email:

CASL (Canada)

NOTE: CASL also applies to Americans who send emails to Canadians – law permits only EXPLICIT permission based emails.


By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist


You Can’t Do it All Yourself

 ….even if you want to try!

Joan is a real estate agent.  Joan’s income is derived from house sales.  Her focus is securing listings or having her customers buy a home.  All she needs to do is get people to purchase a home. If only her life was that simple.  Unfortunately, there are many other things she needs to do in order for those houses to be sold.

She needs online marketing to find referrals.  She needs to use social media and mailer materials to find new prospects.  She must offer extras to make herself stand out from her competitors.  She must keep in touch with her current customers for repeat business or referrals. This requires a website, an email platform, a CRM, social media sites that all need to be built and maintained.  Lastly there is administrative work: creating the MLS process, as well as orchestrating the closing documents.  How does she handle all of these tasks?  There are a few that come easy to her because of her expertise and passion, but there are some she may not excel at or she just hates to do.  If she has a partner, they can divvy up the responsibilities.  But if Joan is a solopreneur real estate agent, what does she do?  She can’t do it all herself …even if she wanted to try.  There are just not enough hours in the day, nor does she have the expertise or knowledge for some of what is needed to drive her sales.

Many of us entrepreneurs are in the same boat as Joan.  Our talents and passion are focused on the particular product or service we want to offer. For example, if you are a chef and decide to run a catering business, you are an expert at cooking, but probably lack skills at online marketing, business management or bookkeeping.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn these skills, your only option is to hire someone to do those things for you.  But what if you don’t have a physical office for someone to work at?   A virtual assistant may be your answer.

So, what is a virtual assistant and how do I find one? A virtual assistant is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from their home or an office not yours.  You will pay them by the hour, or the project.  These people can range from an accountant, bookkeeper, web manager, email marketer, content writer, social media manager, ad manager and more.  They may possess highly technical skills so can create websites or manage your Facebook ads, or they may have customer service skills and can make sales calls.  Or they may be good at updating your CRM and send out your thank you cards. You may be smarter to hire someone to build your email platform or website no matter the cost just because someone will be better at it than you. Saves you a lot of time and eliminates the stress.

In my last corporate job, I hired a virtual assistant for 4 years.  I paid her out of my own pocket to manage a lot of behind the scene things that helped my business run smoothly.  This allowed me more time for the things I could do well to drive sales.

If they have the right expertise, your virtual assistant can be a spouse, a family member or friend.  Or there are several agencies out there that function like an employment agency.  They match you with the right person for your task.   Or you can look for individual people offering services on places like Craigslist or through Meetups or Facebook Groups.  Perhaps you can barter your services with someone else’s who needs your help and you need theirs.

Joan needs to focus her energy on closing home sales.  Joan may need several virtual assistants.  One can handle administrative responsibilities.  One can manage her website and social media.  One can handle her bookkeeping.  The goal is to allow Joan to focus on being an extraordinary real estate agent. Makes sense right!

If you, like Joan, feel as if you are in overwhelm, maybe it is time to take inventory.  What do you like best about what you do? What do you hate?  What do you struggle with?  Decide what is the best use of your time.  Find a virtual assistant for the rest.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist


Coaching A Dinosaur

One often expects that all business people are savvy with technology tools. But as I have been coaching entrepreneurs, I am often surprised to learn that it is not always true. Many are still living in the dinosaur age, the age before today’s technology. Some still use outdated phone devices to communicate for business. Or even if they have a smart phone, they are not harnessing all the benefits it offers.

One of the biggest issues is struggling with technology tools and its vocabulary and how it all fits together. It is hard keeping up with the evolution when you are busy running a business. Without that knowledge, how can your business run efficiently, so you can save money and get more customers? An additional downside is that it also can hurt your everyday life as well. Less time for family, less money, and less time for you. What do you do?

I just had a coaching session with someone who is starting a business and discovered he was still using a flip phone. I found out in an extraordinary way. I was sending him text messages and he wasn’t getting them. I didn’t think to ask in advance if he had texting. After a chuckle with each other, my first advice was for him to take the leap to an iPhone. What will his iPhone do for him that was never going to be available on the flip phone?


A Smart Phone will help him be more productive:

  1. Access the wide world web anytime, anywhere
  2. Access his emails – multiple platforms both personal and business
  3. Access social media sites and allow him to post on the fly
  4. Project and time management apps
  5. Respond to messages of customers quickly with text, emai,l and Facebook Messenger
  6. Use Google Maps so he doesn’t miss an appointment by getting lost
  7. Take photos and videos and upload them to social media sites
  8. Take notes
  9. Record audio
  10. Watch webinars and online courses
  11. Listen to podcasts
  12. And more……

It will help him develop his business faster. His response to this list, “Holy Cow, where have I been?” After he purchases his phone, I suggested he ask a friend, a peer who has one, to teach him how to use the new phone. I recommended he not ask the young nephew to help. His nephew only knows this world and may not be able to help a dinosaur become evolved. When my client asks, “What is Siri?”  the nephew will probably say “you’re kidding, right?”

Keep in mind the flip side benefit of this. Many of his customers are using smart phones. If he doesn’t understand their experience how will his marketing reflect connecting with them using the same technology. His email platform and website should all be designed for a Smart Phone experience.

What’s the takeaway? Learn. Listen to podcasts. Watch YouTube training videos.  Get an up to date phone. Find out about apps that will make your business easier. Make sure your marketing can be viewed correctly on your customer’s phone.

Keeping current on technology developments and how to apply them to your business is critical. Don’t be a dinosaur. It will COST YOU Money in Sales.

P.S.  Quick story. I was just traveling to California from Arizona. Stopped for our last gas stop before we crossed the border. I pulled up my trusty “Around Me” app on my phone and figured out who had the cheapest gas. It was a difference of 50 cents per gallon. Your phone can save you money every where you look.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist


Facebook Business Page Owners….Keep An Eye Out…Changes Coming!!!

Ever since Gillian and I created our Facebook Business Page, the one thing we had to get used to, was waking up most days and seeing a new announcement from Facebook about the newest update. Whether it be changes in the look on one’s phone or laptop, new categories or tabs, or interfacing with one’s audience, Facebook is always evolving. Their changes are driven by two factors. The first one is increasing the experience for people to be able to interact with their friends and family. That is primary. The second factor is Facebook makes their money with Ads, so getting businesses to advertise is key. Having a business page on Facebook is free. But the hope is, that eventually a Business Page will buy Ads. To make it easier for the business owner to create a presence on Facebook, a variety of templates allows a business to showcase their products and services, reviews, videos, photos, and e-commerce are offered.

Buying ads and boosting posts has always been optional.   If you had enough “Likes” you could count on your followers to see some of your organic posts in their daily Newsfeed.  But take heed, changes are on the horizon.

Facebook Announces Coming News Feed Changes Which Will Reduce the Reach of Page Posts

  1. Friend to Friend is primary. The news feed will allow more of the posts from your “friends” than from business Pages. Which means squeezing out a lot of those Business posts.
  2. Long and thoughtful replies get a boost. This was the second half of the announcement, and it seems to be a significant pivot. Recorded videos will not get nearly the weight they once did. Passive scrolling and low-quality engagement are now considered bad. Posts that get long, thoughtful replies will get priority in your newsfeed.

So, what does that mean? How can your Business Page counter this besides spending tons of money on buying Ads?

Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri offers some suggestions:

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

From Adam’s statement creating “live” video will get you more visibility in the News Feed. But what about those of us that aren’t comfortable doing “live” on Facebook? Does this mean we should dump our Facebook Pages? Or never build one if you don’t have one now? Absolutely not. There are still plenty of good reasons to have a Facebook Business Page, but you will need to use it wisely:

  1. Having a Facebook Business Page to send people to is still important. If someone Googles you, and finds your Page, they will be able to search your Page and learn about you and your services.
  2. Consider changing your “Call to Action” button to: Sign up for My Newsletter or Visit My Website, rather than Call Me or Email Me. They may only visit your FB page once, so get your best value and send them where you want the traffic.
  3. Make your posts more relevant. Showcase your “Blog” or “Podcast” or a new webinar you are hosting.
  4. Create a Facebook Group with your Business Page and provide a community for your followers to interact with each other. With you being the leader, you can announce workshops, webinars or when you have a lead magnet to share.
  5. If you want to have your “followers” see a relevant post, consider “Boosting” it. It will be fairly cheap to reach your current audience.
  6. You can still use your Facebook Business Page to buy Ads. Those Ads will show up in the Newsfeed of the audience you profile for your Ad.  Facebook makes their money in Ads. Those will not go away. Facebook is a great place to buy ads as Facebook can help you optimize your Ad to the right audience.

Hopefully this will give you a clear understanding of the changes. More to come I am sure. But here is one big HUGE takeaway from this story.  I didn’t hear this announcement on Facebook. I received the information from email. Just remember that Email Marketing is still the “King” for getting the word out. Use Facebook marketing to get prospects and customers on your Email list. You own your list. Facebook is just rented property.

Here is Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of Thursday, January 11th from Facebook:




By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist


December is National Write Your Business Plan Month!

Is Your 2018 Business Plan Finished???

We are two weeks away from 2018 and besides St. Nick checking to see if we have been naughty or nice (kidding), he is finishing up his business plan for 2018. Are you?  If I asked for a show of hands on who has not, my guess is that many people would raise their hand and say, not yet. These are the most common responses: “Too busy now”, “I will get to it later in January”, or “Its really not that important”. Lots of other reasons I am sure. But, it is one of the most crucial things we as business people need to do every year. Here is my perspective on it and from someone who has faithfully completed a business plan every year before January. By doing this exercise each year, you have an opportunity to make some powerful decisions about what you want to do in the new year.

Whether it’s changes or new goals, this process will allow you to crystallize some new and old objectives. Allow yourself to review last years business plan. Did you meet all your objectives? If you didn’t, think through why. Were they unreasonable? Did you not like doing them? Did you not have enough time or money? Take notes from last year’s plan and use that knowledge to craft this year’s new plan. Try to find some new ideas that will really make a difference. More importantly, where do you want to be this time next year and how are you going to get there? How painful it will be if those objectives you missed last year, are still on your list not done this time next year. Either make an intention to get them done, or figure out some other options. Something is holding you back, figure out why. What can you really do to inspire your planning for 2018.

I would hazard to guess that there are many people who don’t feel a business plan is necessary. Perhaps what holds that person back is a structure, or template. Maybe not sure how to executive one. The good news is only time and patience are needed. No MONEY required.

The Small Business Association (SBA) has put together this great article which quite frankly says anything I could say and much better. It’s great. With templates and the key ingredients of your plan, this article provides you with everything you need to create a great 2018 business plan. Click this link and begin the process to complete your 2018 business plan. Let 2018 be your best year yet.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist


Do You Know What This Person is Thinking?

How Do I Have a Winning Communication Experience?

I have just come back from a Thanksgiving family reunion.  Everyone came happy and excited to be with each other and have fun.  You have seen enough Movies to know how that goes.  You can always expect there will be some friction and some heartache.  Why?  Because as much as we all love each other, we have communication breakdowns.  Why?  Because we don’t always communicate in a way that the other person knows or understands.

Sometimes we don’t understand what was said, or we don’t understand their facial expressions.  What am I, a mind reader???Family is one thing.  Even if we have fights we all love each other.  We will have a few tears, maybe even some angry words, and then we hug, and say “I love you”.  We make it all better.  We forget the bad memories and come back for the next  family reunion.


Business, however, can be another thing.  If you are having this interaction at work or if you are trying to network with someone for business or you are having a one on one with a customer, that is another story all together.  There is no bond of love and friendship that will keep you together.  What do you do?  Even if you think you are the best communicator in the world, if you have a customer that is not a good communicator, your whole presentation or engagement could blow up in your face.  How do you overcome that?

Many, many years ago, I went to a two-day Communications course to learn how to be a better communicator.  We learned how to be good listeners.  But somewhere in translation, I didn’t quite grasp how to engage with people that are terrible communicators.  Trust me, there are plenty.  Now add to that, the additional issue of trying to communicate with someone while on a mobile phone.  That was not in that training, because mobile phones didn’t exist.  Here is a personal example: I was having lunch with one of my sons recently and I was sharing a story while he was doing something on his phone.  It became apparent to me that he wasn’t listening to anything I was saying.  I asked if he was listening.  Being honest with his Mom, he sheepishly said “no”.  Now what if that situation was with a customer.  They would have probably said “of course I am listening” and be totally lying.  Then whatever I said, would have been missed.  At least I was able to repeat my story with my son, or if it just didn’t matter in the big scheme of things, moved one.  But if it is work related, you can’t move on, you want to be sure they received your message.

Here are some good suggestions that I have learned from painful experiences:

  1. Make sure the person you are conveying your message too, wants to hear the message.  (Otherwise going to deaf ears.)
  2. Don’t try to have that important business conversation when there are distractions like loud music or other chitchat around you. Otherwise they may only hear every other word.  They will nod their head that they are hearing you and understand you.  But in reality, you know they haven’t a clue what you have been saying.  They are just being polite.
  3. Body language. This is critically important and probably my worst pet peeve.  I hate it when people respond to me with a face cringe or bobbing of the head and think I know what that means.  Try and ask questions that will elicit a response of a statement rather than a “yes” or “no” answer.  Otherwise, you may get a bobbing head and not get the answer you need. Some people may be afraid to answer your question as they are not ready to make a decision at that moment.  Asking questions that require a statement rather than a yes or no, will be more helpful.  Or that encourage them to ask a question back to formulate that decision.  That might allow for a better dialogue eventually giving you the response you need.  As hard as it might be, we need to ask gentle questions, so they don’t have the feeling of being interrogated.
  4. Try to allow that person you are engaging with to feel comfortable to speak and let you know what they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes, that just means “shut up” and “listen”.  Bite your lip if you have too.  Depending on your personality style that might be a little hard, especially if you are an extrovert like me.  But believe me if you want an introvert to respond, you have no choice, you have to give them the space and time to feel comfortable to answer.

Try this exercise: next time in a work discussion whether it is an associate or customer, look at their body language.  Do they look comfortable, or do they look anxious?  Use that intuition to decide how to “be” with that person so you can have a winning engagement.  Is it their personality or are they dealing with an issue that is making life tough right now?  You might have to ask some warm up questions to know the answer to that before you delve into your business conversation.

I found this YouTube and thought it really represented this subject.


We never know what someone is going through.  I would never in a million years have known what these expressions meant.  But it goes to show you, that we have to be sensitive to everyone and their needs, whether it is family, friends, business associates, or customers.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Same time, next year, better equipped.  Have a better customer experience.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist