Are you looking for smarter ways to engage people in your online business? Then you will want to listen to this episode.
With so many options to engage your website visitors and customers, you might be wondering which ones to focus on.
Well have no fear, because in this new year, there is a way to steer you clear, so let us bend your ear.
OK, enough with the rhyming and now for the rhythm.
In this 38 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick provide clear ideas to help you focus your efforts, including…
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You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.
Sean Jackson: Welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur. I’m Sean Jackson.
Jessica Frick: I’m Jessica Frick. I am really excited to ask you, Sean, this week’s question.
Sean Jackson: What is it, Jess? Now, for those who don’t know, we always end our show with a question for the week. Now, Jessica and I are going to debate it. Jess, what was the question that we left everyone hanging with last week?
Jessica Frick: Well, last week we talked about social media accounts and got to hear how wrong you are, but this week we get to hear how wrong you are where it relates to email. Is email a time saver or a time suck?
Sean Jackson: It is a time suck, okay.
Jessica Frick: You’re insane.
Sean Jackson: I’m telling you now, it is a giant time suck. Maybe it’s our generation, too. One thing about email, when it comes to people of a certain age, email is our default communication system. For my daughter, literally her email app on her phone is in a folder called ‘Old People Stuff.’
Jessica Frick: Whoa.
Sean Jackson: I would definitely say email, whether it’s a time saver or time suck, greatly depends upon your age. If you’re too young, you don’t really care about email. It’s for password-retrieval purpose.
Jessica Frick: Oh my gosh.
Sean Jackson: Let me tell you why I think email is a time suck.
Jessica Frick: All right.
Sean Jackson: I don’t think people use email properly. That’s why it’s a time suck. I think that too many times people are so addicted to their mobile device, to their desktop device that they’ll have multiple tabs open, but there will always be that tab to their email program. It’ll have a little alert on there telling you how many unread messages you have. Or it’ll be you get on your phone, and there’s that little icon with that little red circle that says, “You have 55,000 unread messages.”
I think what it does is that it is a time suck because of the way we use it. It is constantly drawing our attention to it. For example, if you go on vacation, which I know you never do, but if you ever went on a vacation, what you would find is that what is a real vacation? If you’re checking email, is that really a vacation? No.
Jessica Frick: It can be if you enjoy it.
Sean Jackson: No. So it is a complete time suck because people don’t use email correctly. What do you say?
Jessica Frick: Well, I say that I would agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.
Sean Jackson: Okay, well, give me another point. That’s not the point of this. Give me the counterpoint.
Jessica Frick: Counterpoint is, well, yes, I will acquiesce that some people do use email wrong. For example, us, we’re in a virtual workspace. Can you imagine if every time we needed to talk about something we had to actually talk about it over the phone or in person?
Sean Jackson: Well, that we use Slack for all of it.
Jessica Frick: Exactly. Well, Slack or email because email is for long-form stuff if we have to get somebody to sign off on something or strategize something where it’s not in a chat room. I feel that email is better for addressing specific things without the nuances and distraction of that immediate feedback loop.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, but here’s the thing. You spend so much time on email going back and forth when picking up the phone could solve about 20 hours of back-and-forth dialog on the email message. To me, that’s where I get so adamant about email. Not only do we not use it right, but then we go back and forth and things can be misconstrued. Your tone in there, god forbid you put all caps in something, right?
So to me, email can be just an incredible waste of an entire day, especially if you let it pile up and then you’re having to go through and go through and the anxiousness that comes from that. I would disagree with you. I don’t think if there’s any time savings per say. I think there are certain times when it is appropriate, but picking up the phone and talking to someone is, in many ways, a faster form of communication than going back and forth on email. What say you?
Jessica Frick: Well, speaking of old people stuff, how many people do we work with who forget what you guys just talked about yesterday?
Sean Jackson: Yeah, good point.
Jessica Frick: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back to the email and say, “Actually, we talked about this on February 22nd, 2015.”
Sean Jackson: Yeah, I know. Next to the send feature on email, it’s the search feature I use the most.
Jessica Frick: Exactly. How much time do you save with that? Email is more than just that one to one. It’s also a group situation. How many times have you been on a conference call that could have been solved with an email?
Sean Jackson: Yeah, you know, if we talked more on the phone, then I would agree with you, but I think we’ve become overly reliant upon it. I think there is a value in picking up the phone and talking to people. I think there’s a value in putting together a webinar, let’s say, where people can have a voice and talk. I think it has more value to look at other alternatives — only because I, again, will push back on this, saying I think people use email incorrectly.
Jessica Frick: I think I would agree with you on that part.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, and here’s why. I think we leave it always on, so I literally, literally just before the show was using the restroom.
Jessica Frick: TMI, Sean!
Sean Jackson: Yeah, I know, I know. Getting really personal, folks. Cover your ears, folks. I was sitting there, and the guy in the urinal next to me was checking his phone. He was coming in, and he was checking his phone. He was going on and et cetera, and he was reading through all these emails, et cetera. Because I know the guy, I wasn’t just talking to a stranger, I said, “Look, email so permeates our business life.”
So what I have done — and I would highly recommend everyone think about this — on my mobile devices, I turned automatic email off.
Jessica Frick: Like when it refreshes?
Sean Jackson: Yeah, I have to go get the email. I don’t let it just sit there and come to my phone automatically so that, every time I pick up my phone, I see this little red circle with 20,000 things that I haven’t done.
The reason I do that is because it goes to the greater point about email and most communication in general — given the tremendous amounts of ways that we do communicate, blocking off time is the best way to manage all forms of communication. Having it always on can be and is a huge distraction to productivity.
Turning your email auto fetch to manual means that, when you’re ready to check your email, then you are in the right mindset. Otherwise, you just ignore it.
I will tell you, doing that, Jess, has saved my weekends with my family. I’m dead serious because, when I pick up my phone, I’m not like, “Oh my gosh, there’s an email I have to respond to.” No. I have certain times when I work, and I have certain times I spend with my family. Turning off email auto fetch and making it a manual process allows me to control the way that I spend my time in communication.
What say you?
Jessica Frick: Well, I like the idea of block scheduling. I’ve never been able to make it stick because so much of what I do is fluid. Somebody might need to get in touch with me right now, and it can’t wait eight hours until my next email block. Like our colleague Matt, he handles a lot of our server operations, and he has a tremendous workload on any given day. If he always makes himself available, he gets distracted and isn’t able to accomplish the huge feats that he does on a regular basis.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, that’s true.
Jessica Frick: He needs to have that focus, but at the same time I can’t imagine how he’d survive if he had too many group phone calls. The best way to get him is email.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, and I will say this, that there is a time and place for it. I think it’s up to you who’s listening to this to really think about your communication plan. How you interact with the communication streams that you have coming at you and really think about it for a second. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it is not a time suck.
Jessica Frick: There is no maybe.
Sean Jackson: No, there is. There is. But again, by controlling your communication stream, you may find yourself to be more productive. Certainly, there are times when you’re sitting around waiting for that one email communication to come in, but I think that if it’s that damn urgent pick up the damn phone and talk to somebody. Jess, I’ll let you end our argument with your point.
Jessica Frick: If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can contact us at Digits@Rainmaker.FM. That’s our email address.
Sean Jackson: Wow, that was a heck of a plug, and way to go to, Jess. We’ll be right back after this short break.
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Sean Jackson: Welcome back from the break, everyone. I’m Sean Jackson and joined by Jessica Frick. Jessica, for this particular segment, I want to talk about focus points for 2017. Some ideas for you to focus on for your online business.
Jess, I’m going to go ahead and let you give your top three focus areas that you think our audience should be looking at 2017.
Jessica Frick: Well, my first one is going to be live video.
Sean Jackson: Now, what do you mean by that? What do you mean by live video?
Jessica Frick: I feel like more and more brands are getting into the live video business. Even those that you’d be like, “Well, what could you possibly do a video about?” But they’re all in there, and they’re using Facebook Live or YouTube. I feel that that medium has become a very strong way to reach your audience, and people love it.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, so let me push back on that for a second. Let’s say I sell a digital good, an ebook, a software, a membership system, et cetera. Let’s say I’m not selling a physical product, which tends to lend itself to a video format. What type of live video ideas should someone in the digital goods space be thinking about?
Jessica Frick: I think it depends on the product or service, but people can talk to you. You might be discussing one of the areas of your expertise. Or you know what, maybe you’re just walking around a downtown area that looks really cool, and you just wanted to hang out with your friends and talk about this new book you’re selling.
Sean Jackson: Yeah. Here’s a couple of ideas. Whiteboards, obviously, certainly over at Moz, they do Whiteboard Friday. I think certainly webinars fall into that space, but whiteboards, a constant stream of just very simplistic style of video composition where great audio using your phone. Certainly, talking to customers.
At the end of the day, there may be customers of yours in your local town — just getting together and talking through their issues. When it comes to the digital goods space, you have to be a little bit more creative with video, but at the same time, you don’t have to feel like you’re limited either because you can talk about bigger ideas using video.
Jessica Frick: That dovetails with my next thing — 360 video and imagery. Are you seeing so many people are using that? It goes virtual reality, augmented reality, that kind of immersive experience is becoming more and more popular. I feel like a lot of brands can leverage that to help them.
For a digital entrepreneur, giving them an immersive experience inside it could even be your office. I know that sounds so stupid, but I would totally look at that. Not only would I look at that, but I’d be zooming in on your desk.
Sean Jackson: Right, giving a little bit more appealing to the lifestyle aspect of what you sell, right?
Jessica Frick: Yeah.
Sean Jackson: Certainly, there’s some people who really promote the freedom lifestyle. Your freedom to be anywhere, right? Well, reinforce that.
Jessica Frick: Yeah, you’re hanging out on the beach doing your work.
Sean Jackson: Right, exactly, because you’re hanging out on the beach doing your work. So again, sharing information around there. Certainly, with augmented reality, virtual reality, and some of the other things that are in the pipe and coming down further, I think it really comes down to content creativity. What is a piece of content that is visual that can be associated with both your brand and your product to reinforce it, right?
Then, through that, give them something that is a little bit different. Again, a lot of people are doing gaming right now. The YouTube channels that are coming up where people are touring houses. Certainly, if you’re in the real estate segment, man, you’ve got to be thinking, “What are some of the ways that I can really get above the noise?” And augmented and video virtually reality are methods for doing that, especially where there’s a physical aspect to what you provide online.
Jessica Frick: Completely agree.
Sean Jackson: What’s your third one?
Jessica Frick: The third one and you and I talked a little bit about all of these earlier, but I’m going to make a last-second decision and change my third one. I think physical mail is going to come back.
Sean Jackson: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Tell me why you think that.
Jessica Frick: Even if you run a digital business, nobody is using actual mail anymore except for the phone companies and the utility companies. How much do you love getting stuff in the mail? I give Amazon all kinds of money just to send me cool stuff.
Sean Jackson: I know.
Jessica Frick: Post cards. I can remember being young, and my mom started getting these weird random post cards from some dude that she didn’t know. But they were all like these rural places with these photos...