Monica S. FloresLeads digital product/platform development
Bio

Digital product director living at the intersection of technology and social change. On a mission to build community, foster connectedness, use skills to build a better world. Key thought partner for: functional specifications, database architecture, user profile setup, wireframing, themeing, MVP, analytics Build on the #Drupal framework, agile methodology, create working, profitable, easy-to-use, highly functional web properties to help with signups, sales, conversions. Interested in data, transparency, and the ability to create positive change through sharing knowledge and information.



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Drupal is our suggestion for this because of a number of factors: 1) It is built on a community focus, that is, with multiple levels of permission for user roles, 2) it is able to be extended to have many different types of content, e.g. a single "paid user" might be able to create: blogs, images, coupons, or the like 3) it is highly supported by a wide developer community, 4) it has many different member solutions built-in such as e-commerce, marketplace functionality, private messaging, flagging, five-star rating, wishlists, and groups to handle members-only content

I've produced multiple member sites on Drupal and written about it here: http://10kwebdesign.com/10kblog/step-step-setting-membership-community-site-using-drupal -- Drupal is currently moving into version 8 so now is a great time to start planning what you want the membership community to do and what kind of features you want to allow.


As a developer and technical co-founder myself, if you've been through 8 developers then there is definitely something you are doing wrong, either content wise or communication wise.

Here are things that make me take pause:

A) unspecified, or shifting, idea of how the app/website will actually work

B) bait-and-switching (it "sounds" like a pretty cut-and-dried good opportunity, but once you drill down into the actual task lists of what *really* needs to be done, it is not crystal clear and they only find that out after they look at your functional requirements/specifications documents)

C) you yourself may not have a crystal clear idea of what it is you are creating and thus have difficulty communicating it to someone else

D) your "end target" is shifting too quickly for a developer to get a "fix" or a "handle" on

E) you are reaching out to developers who "code to spec" and instead who you need are developers to help you understand the technical details of the "big picture" and who have the understanding of your business process & can help you make decisions

F) you personally may have a communication block with coder/programmer types, especially those who tend to be very "nit-picky" and who need to understand on a very granular level what it is you are attempting to accomplish.*

G) Too little pay/equity in your offering? Good technical co-founders already have a boatload of potential opportunities, so what sets yours apart?

H) Are you looking at the right places? I like http://women2.com/ and http://angel.co

* For example, do you have a list of all the different types of data on the site and their relationships to each other? Do you have a sketched out list of all the reporting or display screens you need? Do you know what your metric of success on the app/website will be?


Your time is your most precious resource:
1) Increase rates for new customers
2) Find a way to "productize" your knowledge (e-book, presentation, conference calls, webinar?) so that you can sell to others x10 without them taking your precious time.
3) What is your core competency? Focus on that and find others (senior help) to do anything else.
4) Did I mention increase rates? Double your rates.


What are you selling/marketing/trying to do with the e-newsletter?

And: did you get their e-mail addresses correctly? Are you conforming to CAN-SPAM rules? Have they confirmed they want to receive your e-mail? If so, good job....

If I were you, I would NOT send an introductory newsletter e-mail telling them you are going to be sending them e-mail, it's just another step. Just send the e-newsletter.

For your e-newsletter:

A) Repetition:
Develop an ongoing set of sections that you use to interact with your customers, and always re-use that template, so they get used to skimming through and going to their relevant section

Sample Sections of your E-newsletter
i) Intro
ii) More Details about What You Are Offering
iii) Upcoming (e.g. ways to connect, events, book launch)
iv) Call to Action
v) Thank you
vi) PS) (people always like these postscrips)
vii) Unsubscribe information & Contact information

B) Catchy subject line:
Some e-newsletters go straight to delete without me even opening the message, because they're not relevant:

Sample subject lines of emails that go into Trash:
"Connect with CompanyName at UpcomingInternetConference"
"Webinar Coming Up"
"Website Newsletter Update for September"

C) Compete on relevance:
People are bored/tired/stressed/aggravated/on their lunch break. How can you compete? Give them something super meaningful and relevant.

D) What's in it for me:
What benefit, value, bonus, discount, coupon, deal, or behind-the-scenes/members-only information do you have for the recipient? Keep it succinct -- they are giving you their attention, make that count --- put the benefit directly into the first and second paragraphs.

E) Who are you again?:
Remind them about your blog/business with your tagline or memorable slogan, or your photo.

F) About images:
An embedded picture of your product/service may be helpful especially if you have a very visual set of offerings

G) Easy-to-read:
Craft your e-newsletter to be easy-to-read (bolds, italics, bulleted lists, horizontal rules) with ONE specific call to action. Too many options = confusion/inaction/passivity.

H) Action:
Embed a specific call to action. Give them a concrete thing they feel like they can do, e.g. "Purchase by midnight" or "Like us on Facebook"

I) If you already have blog content I wouldn't spend more than a few lines toward the end of your e-newsletter to drive them back to your blog, for example "Check out the latest: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3" where your links are really engaging one-line titles. Some of your readers may already have subscribed to your blog so it's too repetitive to mention your blog posts yet again.


1) If the company's offerings and "about us" are clearly in tune with what I as a customer am deliberately seeking, then I would stay.

The quicker a visitor leaves, the quicker they have ascertained that the company's services or products are not a "perfect fit" for what they are originally seeking.

How does a visitor decide?
A) through general look-and-feel
B) reading the "About Us" page
C) specific details on the product page is not what they are originally seeking (e.g. I am looking for a specific Reiko Kaneko Lip Tease mug in silver, but your site only has it in gold)
D) I would definitely stay on the website to make a transaction if someone I trusted directed me to a specific part of that website (because they knew me and knew what I was seeking --- referral trumps all)

2) I would leave in 10 seconds if the product, company, or offerings clearly do not fit my specific search criteria (price range, details, location, or just general gut feeling of "I don't like it")

As a web developer, I always tell my clients to specify, specify, specify. You can become extremely specific about what you offer, how you offer it, why your product/service is unique and special, etc. You can speak directly to your specific client -- you do not need to be as "generic" or to write very generalized descriptions.

If you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one.

State your message, vision, values, brand, manifesto in your terms and clearly differentiate how/why your company/organization is unique, as well as who you serve.

Bonuses on keeping people on the website:
if i) the price is clearly marked and
ii) there are easy-to-read headings, strong tags, & bullet points,
iii) no mandatory signup to review pages/products
iv) there's a mission or slogan or tagline at the bottom of every page.
v) contact information clearly marked, with whatever certifications are relevant to your industry
vi) blog is up-to-date
vii) "newish" feel and site is maintained: no spelling errors, grammar issues, missing images, 404 missing links


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