Sunday, April 27, 2008

You need coolin'

Ah, Sunday morning at the shop. On Greek Easter.

Tarpon Springs is one of those communities where police officers dictate traffic for church.

For church.

So here I am, just opened, on the worst day of the week because my mom needed off. Yeah, I'm that good of a son.

And so I have Led Zeppelin playing, and I couldn't be happier. Well, of course I could be happier. You know what I mean.

What are we doing today. Today we're going to look into affiliate programs. Gonna try and get the Soapier brand out there through some other online stores that might want to carry our product.

Lots of different affiliate programs out there, and I have absolutely no idea how to find the right one, so it'll take some research. I'll get back to you all on the ins and outs of the affiliate world.

I also have to take some photos so you can see the first store and this store. What a difference.

Oh, and we're going to go with a 500 piece mailing, to start. To existing customers. It will only run about $300 for printing and postage, and a return of just two orders will get us our money back. That's not even a 1% return. It's a safe bet, when our financial reserves aren't where they should be, and will still (hope hope) generate some orders. We have a mailing list right now of only 111 customers off of

We originally used to send out our newsletter to the 700 some odd customers we had, through my outlook express. We had 50 emails in each group, and the emails were hid. When we got returned email, we deleted it from said group, and did this for quite a while. But it was a lot of work. And there were mistakes. Lots of them.

So, we decided to join aweber, an automated email newsletter company. They charge about $20 a month.

Now, in this day and age of spam, when people go to our website and sign up for our newsletter, they get an email says "Ok, thanks for joining, please click the following link".

Well, we're having trouble with people clicking that link. And what I'm finding is that people don't read. Not only does it say "you'll be getting an email, please click the link to get our newsletter" (that's paraphrasing), but they also GET AN EMAIL... and they're not reading it.


So, from those 700 customers, after we sent out an email stating they had to re-sign up... we got 47 customers who signed up. It was such a joke, and so frustrating. I sent out another email. Two more sign ups.

The remaining balance, those are new customers. We have about 26 people who signed up but didn't click their email. So, that's 26 people who think we're ignoring them.

It's hard. You don't want to call them and make them feel stupid. But you don't want to pester them, either. So what I've done is started sending out emails to them from our newsletter email, directly. We usually send out HTML emails, like this.

My friend Al Rotches (who owns his own website and email design company Al Designs) explained I was doing a few things wrong.

First, there was no real call to action. Second, since it's just one big image (meaning, there is no text), most spam filters would pick it up and drop it right into the spam folder.

That was bad news. Now, on aweber they give you a spam indicator, and if you're under 5 (they're sliding scale), chances are you're ok. Well, ours were a 4.

So Al suggested I go to and download their free email marketing guide, and use one of their free HTML email templates.

So now, Friday, I sent out this. It had a spam rating of 2.3 and will hopefully get a better response than the ones in the past.

More visible links, call to action, real text... we were all happy with it here. We'll have to find a template that has some images on the side, so we can get some product shots in there.

I've been here twenty minutes, I feel like I'm in jail. Two years ago I bought my sister the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series on dvd. 40 discs. Feature that.

It's what I have to look forward to while I'm at the shop. The first season is a joke, but there's some decent writing and it'll suffice.

I love watching tv shows on dvd. My mom and I have a yearly tradition of watching Lost every Christmas when the new season comes out on dvd. I own Arrested Development, Alias, Firefly, Greatest American Hero, Simpsons... been going through them like water.

If some of you are alone on Sundays at your shop, let me know what you're doing about it, keeping the boredom at bay.

John Painz

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