Posts

10 Ways You Can Use Technology to Minimize Distractions

Technology has definitely changed the way organizations work. It opens the door for amazing access and capabilities that help us to be more productive – in spite of its addictive distractions.

A 2014 survey by Pew Research Center reported that technology has had a positive and lasting impact on worker efficiency. “Forty-six percent of employed online adults say the Internet has made them more productive at work, while just 7 percent believe it has made them less productive.”

It takes discipline to keep ourselves above the distractions and out of the mire of Facebook feeds and using the apps, programs, and tools that help us to do our jobs better.

And as children’s activity center owners and managers, distractions are amplified. You have employees, parents, students and vendors vying for your attention – and all while you’re trying to get real work done. Using technology tools to manage various components of your work helps you to keep work organized so that minute-by-minute distractions don’t derail your focus.

Technology minimizes menial tasks and allows us to focus on meaningful projects.

We referenced discipline for a reason. Without it’s highly possible that you could find yourself still going through your Inbox at noon or sucked into Facebook for hours on end.

Entrepreneur Magazine is a great resource for business tips. We recently uncovered a list of 10 ways that you can minimize distractions and supercharge your productivity.

  1. Keep email in check.

Email can easily get out of hand. That’s why the flooded Inbox can be so devastating to your productivity. It takes hours to find anything without organization and management. There are tools to help with this: try Sanebox. It’s also recommended (by self-help guru Tim Ferris) to check email only twice a day to limit it from interrupting your schedule.

  1. Curate your to-do list.

What does this mean? It means to avoid the generic when you’re making your to-do lists. This minimizes the never-ending laundry list that is filled with trivial tasks that may seem impossible to complete. Large projects should be broken into smaller, easy-to-tackle parts. There are services that can help with this: Asana or Trello allow you to arrange, categorize and weigh the importance of specific tasks to enable you to better manage your priorities.

  1. Read faster.

Average adults read approximately 300 words per minute. That’s also the rate at which we can comprehend and process most texts. That said, there are plenty of opportunities where you might want to quickly read (or skim) documents. Sites like Eyercize or Spreeder allow you to copy-and-paste text to power through longer articles or books.

  1. Invest in email tools.

You will run into occasions when you will want to follow-up or reach out to people en masse. To do this efficiently, you need tools. There are email marketing services that can help with this: Customer.io, Klaviyo or Vero.

  1. Put social media on a schedule.

You can’t invest the time it takes to engage with your Twitter followers or respond to every Facebook alert. There are apps to help you schedule posts so you can do weeks of work in one sitting: Buffer, Foster.fm and Tailwind help you have a presence without sinking hours a day into managing it.

  1. Take keyboard shortcuts.

Leave your mouse alone. Keyboard shortcuts cut your reaction time way down and allow you to speed up your workflow. It’s hard to imagine this at first, but experts (such as Coding Horror author Jeff Atwood) note that this is one of the quickest ways to increase your productivity on the computer.

*If you spend a lot of time in Excel, learn the shortcuts for that program too.

  1. Track your time.

How much of your valuable time you spend on various activities can be a frightening realization when you begin to track your time. Doing this gives you the metrics you need to quantify your hours and prioritize your activities You get self-awareness about your computer usage habits that diminish your productivity and gives you the metrics you need to prioritize your activities. Tools that help you regain control of your time are Due, RescueTime or Wrike.

  1. Use templates.

We’re creatures of repetition who waste lots of time doing actions over and over again. Technology enables us to eliminate redundancies. Sure, it’s easy to type the same copy into several emails, but creating templates that give you all of that repetitive information automatically can save hours in typing and proofing emails.  Business documents don’t necessarily need to be created from scratch each time- especially when templates can speed up the process of creating the document you need and produce more accurate results.  It’s sort of the same theory as not re-inventing the wheel. Take advantage of existing emails and documents to streamline your work. This has the bonus of also giving your business brand consistency.

  1. Work in the cloud.

We work from everywhere now. In the office, at home, while at conferences and shows and even on vacation. Having data and the apps used in the cloud is a tremendous productivity booster. Whether you’re logging into your email marketing app or revising a document in cloud storage, you save time by being able to access everything you need to get real work done regardless of where you are.

Services like Box, Dropbox and Google Drive make it easy for consumers and businesses to securely save and store documents, spreadsheets and presentations they’ll need to stay productive wherever they are.

  1. Ban it from the bedroom.

You might make a face at this one at first. But think about it. Leaving your phone, your ipad, your laptop in your office (or simply out of your sleeping quarters) helps you to get better rest by quelling your temptation to check email one last time or just put one finishing touch on a spreadsheet. A rested you is more productive at everything you do the next day. Checking your email when it is supposed to be your “downtime” also drives your significant other crazy.

Technology is powerful, but it is a double edged sword that we have to keep under control so that it remains a benefit and doesn’t become a distraction.

Read the original article (without my interpretations and comments), published at Entrepreneur.com and contributed by Firas Kittaneh, Entrepreneur and CEO at Amerisleep.

Improve Email Deliverability When Sending From Jackrabbit

Jackrabbit understands how important emails are to your business.  You may be surprised to learn that just because an email is successfully “sent” to a customer, doesn’t mean that it is successfully “received” in that customer’s inbox.  The short, non-technical articles below will help you understand the “journey” of an email and what you can do to increase the likelihood that your sent emails will ultimately reach their destination – your customer’s inbox.

How Email (Really) Works
Jackrabbit sends out tens of thousands of emails every day for our clients. The vast majority of emails are sent and received within two minutes. Support is often asked “Why are some of my customers not receiving my mass email?” Let’s start by going over how an email travels, complete with snail-mail analogies:

Step 1: An email is composed
You, the Sender, compose a group email in Jackrabbit and submit – which sends them to our server.
Think of this stage as putting a group of letters into your mailbox and putting the flag up to let your postman know there are letters ready to be picked up and sent.

Step 2: The email is processed by our servers
The emails now get put in a queue (like waiting in line), and are sorted. Financial emails (statements, receipts, eCommerce, etc.) are flagged as high priority and are placed in front of general bulk email.  During this brief wait, the email Status will show in your database as “Pending”.  Once the email is sorted, it is sent to one of Jackrabbit’s SMTP servers. (SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). As soon as it is delivered to one of our SMTP servers, it will then show in your database as “Complete”. At this point, the email is considered successfully sent by us and it is no longer controlled by Jackrabbit.   The SMTP server then processes and releases emails as fast as it can based on its load.  On a typical day, emails pass through this entire stage within a few seconds, but during heavy traffic times, it could take longer.

Think of this stage as seeing your postal worker get your letters out of your mailbox and drive them to the post office – you no longer have control of them.

Step 3: The email travels via the internet
Now the emails are released to the internet, probably passing through several routers.  A DNS server (Domain Naming Service) must examine the recipients address and sort the email in the appropriate direction. They may also check to make sure the “to” address is valid and that the “from” address (your address) is in good standing and not blacklisted.

Think of this stage as the letter going through several large mailrooms where each letter must be sorted based on its destination address, and some letters might get put in the garbage if they are not labeled correctly.

Step 4: The email searches for its destination
As an email reaches the domain address (the domain is the part after the @ in an email address; such as yahoo, gmail, or a company name, etc), the domain receiving server must process it.  At this point many emails are rejected by the receiving server.  It may look like spam due to certain words or characters in the subject line (see our related article on making sure your bulk emails don’t look like spam).  The domain server may also determine that the specific recipient doesn’t live there (the part in front of the @ doesn’t exist at their domain).  Perhaps even the domain itself is invalid.  To complicate the issue, different domain servers have different rules.

Think of this stage as the receiving local post office mailroom sorting the mail to give each postal driver his letters to deliver – but that all junk mail is trashed first – and each local mailroom (domain) has different criteria for determining what it considers junk mail!

Step 5: The email reaches the destination server and program
If the email is processed successfully through the receiving domain’s server, it is then forwarded to the recipients email program and now must pass through any rules or filters that the recipient’s email program uses  (such as Outlook).  If it passes that, it must then get through any filters that the recipient has as his/her settings in that program.  The recipient may have several different “rules” that may be in place to control the incoming email, such as sorting to specific folders, or blocking certain senders, etc.  Just because the email made it to their email program (successfully “received”) doesn’t mean it is sitting in their “inbox” – it may be in another folder or spam folder.

Think of this stage as a postal worker driving to the recipient’s house to put the letter into his/her mailbox, but then the mailbox has “rules” on which letters can actually be placed into it! The letters that can’t be placed into the mailbox are left elsewhere on the property, or placed directly in their garbage can, or are refused to be accepted onto the property at all, or are automatically told to be sent back to sender.

Jackrabbit Tools to Manage Your Email
Jackrabbit allows you to compose group emails via many functions in the database.  In all cases, the emails you compose and send are compiled and processed by our SMTP servers. Once the email has reached our SMTP server, we no longer have control of it.  (see article above, Step 2)

Jackrabbit provides you with the status of each sent email.  From the Family Misc tab, select the View Sent Emails button and a list of all emails sent within the past 90 days are shown, along with their status.  A status of Complete means it reached our STMP server successfully and is no longer controlled by Jackrabbit.

We also provide you with a list of bounced/bad email addresses so that you are aware of email addresses that were returned to our server with an error.  You should review this list frequently and fix or remove bad email addresses from your database. The Bounce report is found under Reports > Email Bounce Report (you must have the User Permission turned on to access this report).

For details on using the Email Log and the Bounce Report, click to the Search & Reports – Email page in this Help Center.

Improving your deliverability rate

Your deliverability rate is the percentage of emails sent that are delivered to the recipient’s inbox. Although the recipient’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) and personal settings are the largest determination of your deliverability rate, there are actions you can take on your side to increase the likelihood that the emails will get to their destination. Here are several measures you can take to improve your deliverability rate:

  • Monitor campaign reports routinely
  • Remove non-existent and persistently undeliverable bounce addresses  (see Bounce Report above).
  • Monitor your communication’s Reply Email Address inbox and honor unsubscribe requests that you may receive there.
  • Use an instantly recognizable From Email Address and From Name, accompanied by a clear and relevant Subject Line.  Two of the most common reasons for recipient spam complaints are failure to recognize the email’s sender and failure of the email content to match the expectations the subscribers had for the subject matter and frequency when they opted in to the list.
  • Stay current with email communication best practices.  Doing so helps ensure your email is recognizable, pleasing, and unlikely to trigger an ISP’s spam filters.

The subject line is huge. What you put in your subject line could prevent email providers from even sending your email.

AVOID using the following:

  • Using bad content. This one’s broad, but important. Email delivery expert Laura Atkins details content-based filtering in this article.
  • Coding sloppy HTML, usually from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML.
  • Creating an HTML email that is nothing but one big image, with little or no text. Spam filters can’t read images, so they assume you’re a spammer trying to trick them.
  • Avoid using these words which are considered “spam” words (especially in the Subject line):  Free, Help, Percent Off, Reminder, Sale, Save, Offer, Now, #1, Congratulations. More details are listed on our Blogpost How to Stay Out of the SPAM folder

 

Sending a mass e-mail uses Jackrabbit’s ISP which can be seen as spam by the recipients’ ISP and could be blocked from delivery. You and your customers can add the following ISP’s to your/their server’s whitelist:

Our Jackrabbit email servers IP range is: 72.15.206.148 through 72.15.206.158.
This is the Team Support (Jackrabbit’s ticketing system) e-mail server IP: 64.151.112.134

Sending mass e-mails from your ISP may have a higher delivery rate. Single e-mails (clicking on a contact’s/student’s email link) already use your ISP: It launches your default e-mail provider, inserts the recipient’s address for you, and sends the e-mail from your ISP.

 

 

Reasons a Sent email may not be received

Unfortunately there are multiple reasons why an email isn’t received, and 99% of them cannot be researched by Jackrabbit. Some reasons are:

  • The email was sorted to the recipient’s Spam folder (so they don’t know they received it).
  • The email was automatically deleted by the recipient’s own Spam rules.
  • The recipient’s Inbox is full and won’t accept any more emails until some are deleted.
  • The recipient no longer has that email address.
  • The recipient’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) refused to deliver the email because the ISP thinks it is spam.
  • The email address is mistyped in Jackrabbit (you can check this in your database).

To verify the status of an email, go the Family Misc tab and click the View Sent Emails button.  A popup will appear with the details of any email to that family. A Status of Complete is an indication your email reached our SMTP server successfully, which is as far as Jackrabbit can control it.   Use the Bounce Report to find bad email addresses.

 

 

 

Jackrabbit’s Flexible Features Help Music School Owner Get Unique Tasks Done

There are many software systems that music schools could use to manage their businesses, but Melissa Loggins, owner of The Music Authority, believes that Jackrabbit gives her the feature flexibility she needs to operate her school in the ways that set it apart from others in the Atlanta area.

TRACKING IS A CRITICAL TO SCHOOL’S SUCCESS | Tracking skills, as well as several other student details, is very important in Melissa’s world. Tracking of skills provides an understanding of student progress to instructors, to administrators and to parents and through their own individual access points to Jackrabbit, each of these groups can follow what students are doing and how they are progressing. The tracked information helps the school to accurately choose substitute teachers and gives Melissa demographic details that guide her in her marketing investments.

“The data we track has given us great insight and a great foundation for making better decisions. We have more confidence in the marketing decisions we make because we understand more about our existing students and their families. We also can do some powerful geo-targeting. We’ve looked at common schools among students in selecting the schools we’d like to establish relationships with. Without the flexibility of Jackrabbit’s system, we wouldn’t be able to do this in a way that makes sense for actually using the data.” Melissa Loggins, The Music Authority

Loggins_Music Authority_12182014Because skills tracking can also be shared in their portal, parents have a vehicle for watching the learning experience unfold. And it’s obvious from the resulting enthusiasm that parents who have knowledge are more engaged in what their children are doing.

“I can insert any type if student information that I find valuable. I can post tremendous detail in role notes and – again because of Jackrabbit’s flexibility – trim that info back to give parents only what is critical to them so that they are informed.” Melissa Loggins, The Music Authority

EMAIL HELPS SCHOOL STAY CONNECTED | Communication is another critical component in music school success. Jackrabbit’s email capabilities help owners nurture their personal connections with consistently delivered, professional looking emails. Whether the basis of the communications are announcements and notices or content intense newsletters, reaching out keeps parents informed and gets them engaged.

“Doing emails through Jackrabbit helps me to be an engaged owner without sacrificing entire days to the process of creating email after email and distribution lists. In Jackrabbit, I can choose to send to everyone or select groups within my database. It’s a powerful, time-saving feature.” Melissa Loggins, The Music Authority

ORGANIZATION DETAILS | 1 location, 322 students, 44 instructors, Melissa Loggins, Owner

 

Marketing Email Templates Are LIVE!

 

Email marketing is the glue that holds marketing together. Once you have email addresses, you can focus on customer retention, delivering timely, relevant messages to existing customers, increased involvement, recommendations, etc. By communicating with them appropriately, you can lead them through a cycle or build them into loyal advocates of your brand.email-templates-2-300x240.png

Jackrabbit’s email templates are a great way to get started with your email marketing. Save templates to easily communicate with groups of customers at a time. Or, email the whole customer base with an announcement or closing. To make this easier for you, we have designed templates for you. There are several different options with slick graphics and verbiage ready for you to use. With a little customization to the wording and adding your logo, they’ll be ready to go in a flash.

There are a lot of ways you can use the email templates in Jackrabbit for your marketing. In fact, we believe in our email templates so much that our employees use them to contact you! The sales and billing department have several templates ready to send at the click of a button.

These templates are in your databases! You’ll go to Tools > Email Templates to see them. For more help and information, check out our help guides or training videos. As always, don’t hesitate to ask questions!

2016-01-12_16-12-12

Email Inactives & Lead File Families From Jackrabbit

Email marketing is alive and well and there are quite a few reasons why email marketing is important for your business. [read more here]

Jackrabbit has an email system within your database to capitalize on this marketing technique. Being able to send a quick note to your class about a closing has never been easier.

Keep in touch with students and families who have been away for a while. Maybe give them a promo code for trying your classes out again.

Inactive Families

To email the inactive families that haven’t been moved to the lead file, go to Families > Email Families > Status = Inactive.

 


Lead File 

Save contact information for any prospective or previous student to market and communicate with them. Your Jackrabbit subscription is based off of the number of total students, which can be active or inactive. By moving inactive student information to the Lead File, your total number of students will go down which means you would pay less for Jackrabbit. From there, you can email the leads easily.

Go to Families > Lead File > Email Leads.

 

 

For more help on emailing from Jackrabbit, watch our training videos here.

 

8 Reasons Email Marketing Is Important

 

Hundreds of billions of emails are sent out every single day. Using this form of communication in the technology driven world we live in is vital. Here are 8 reasons you should be using email marketing for your business.

1. Affordable

Dare I say cheap? Well, maybe it isn’t “cheap” but is sure is a very low cost internet marketing channel to implement and it has a great return for your business. It remains the leader in return on investment. One comparison shows direct mail with a 7% ROI versus email marketing at 28.5%. That’s a huge difference whether you are a small business with a limited amount of resources or a large corporation with many internet marketing options to choose from. No wonder businesses should be using email strategically!

2. Simple and Quick

Think about how many emails you write in a day. How easy is it to do?!  Most everyone can quickly write an email and hit ‘send.’  It doesn’t take a lot of your business’ resources or time to put together an email and send it off. You may already be doing more email marketing than you think.

3. Personal and Customizable

With email marketing, you can easily choose who receives it and who doesn’t – allowing you to target the population you want to be in front of – you know, the people who want to hear from you and want what you have to offer. You can also easily customize your emails to a segment of the population, to a buyer persona, or even for the current season of the year. You are not locked into one thing!

4. Relationship Focused

Email does not have to be SPAM – and it should never be! It can be used thoughtfully to build loyalty and trust in your brand. Email marketing is important for building relationships with prospects, leads, current customers, and even past customers because it gives you a chance to speak directly to them, in their inbox, at a time that is convenient for them. Be friendly and personable. You are not invading their space if you have chosen your message and your recipient wisely.

5. Action Oriented

Whether they realize it or not, email recipients have been trained well to do something with an email – reply, forward, click-through, sign-up, or buy. Think about it! Email has become transactional in nature and you can use it to direct traffic to your website and ultimately drives sales. As you develop your small business internet marketing strategy as a whole, using email will allow you to see results and that is a great reason why email marketing is important.

6. Measureable

When you choose to use an email service, one of the benefits is the tracking ability you gain. There are many measurable actions you can track such as bounce rates, delivery rates, open rates, click through rates, and unsubscribe rates. You can easily get a picture of how your email campaigns are performing, make adjustments and improve your effectiveness. Email marketing metrics are important to remember as you monitor and measure your internet marketing strategy as a whole.

7. More popular than Social Media

Some people think that with the growing popularity of social media platforms, email may be pushed to the side, but if you think about it almost every social media account requires an email to be set-up. Hmmm…that’s a lot of emails! The Huffington Post reported that worldwide 85% of people online send and receive emails and 62% communicate through social media. So if you are not using email as part of your internet marketing strategy, you are missing out on a channel that a majority of the world uses!

 8. Mobile and Global

Just as email is at the core of social media, email has also gone mobile. Email is the most popular activity on smart phones and mobile devices with 78% of 18-44 year olds using their devices for email, 73% for web browsing and 70% for Facebook.  We are taking our email with us everywhere we go! And with the internet accessible all over the world, email marketing can have a global reach.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with email marketing today!

Jackrabbit Email Now Includes History and Preview

Two fantastic email enhancements were released recently and we want to make sure that you know about them.

We’ve received rave reviews about releasing these enhancements so make sure you know how to take advantage of them to do what you need to do – better!

“LOVE THE NEW EMAIL FUNCTION!!!! Love that we can see our email history now and the people we’re sending to. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!” Erica Meitz, Bayshore Elite

#1 – An “Email History” button was added to the Family Miscellaneous tab. The Email History page displays 90 days of sent email history, including: Email Families, Family Email, Email Classes, Portal Password Resets, eCommerce receipts, Statements and Email Event. The View Email History button and display will appear as shown in this screen shot.

#2 – The Email Families and Family>Email buttons now have a “Preview”. This allows you to see which families will receive the email and deselect families when you don’t want them to receive the email.

For more details review the email-related information in the Help Console’s How To Guide:

Emailing in Jackrabbit

Emailing Families

 

 

An Important Email Best Practice Tip: Subject Line No-Nos

Email distributions are very important to the overall communication you have with your parents and students. Whether you are using Jackrabbit’s Mass Email feature, ConstantContact or another of the Email Marketing tools available for business use, there are some best practices concerning almost every detail of the Email. One area that can have a tremendous impact on your Email delivery and whether it is opened and read by your parents or students is the Subject Line.

The following are 25 words/phrases on the best practices lists as some of those that should NOT be used in the Email Subject Line. Using any of these words or combinations of them may cause your Email to be blocked, filtered or marked as spam. In addition to these words, you should never use punctuation (especially $$ and !!), all capital letters, numerals or gaps between letters in the Subject Line text.

act now

amazing

apply now

avoid

call now

dear friend

discount

don’t delete

double

for you

free

hello

information you requested

instant

limited time

notspam

now only

offer

open

opportunity

promised you

stop or stops

teen

undisclosed recipient

winner

Jackrabbit Technologies Selects the Constant Contact Partner Program to Provide Valuable E-Communications Tools to Clients

Program Enables Jackrabbit Clients to Effectively and Affordably Build and Manage Customer Relationships 
CHARLOTTE, NC – September 8, 2010 – Jackrabbit Technologies, leading provider of web-based solutions for class-based businesses, has joined the Constant Contact Partner Program as a Solution Provider Partner. As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, Jackrabbit provides its clients with access to easy-to-use email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, and online survey tools to help them build and manage strong, lasting customer relationships.

“Our clients are always looking for effective ways to strengthen existing customer relationships and to communicate with customers and prospects as an efficient means of growing their businesses,” saysMark Mahoney, Jackrabbit’s President and CoFounder. “The Constant Contact online marketing tools provide robust e-communications tools with powerful features such as auto-responders and detailed tracking that enhance our core services.”

Constant Contact’s solutions enable Jackrabbit’s clients to communicate on several levels. Constant Contact Email Marketing enables Jackrabbit’s clients to quickly and easily create professional-looking emails, manage email contact lists, measure email campaign results from clicks to open rates, and review new email list members. With Constant Contact Online Survey, Jackrabbit’s clients can gather feedback that will help them meet customer needs, generate new ideas, and grow their business while Constant Contact Event Marketing enables Jackrabbit’s clients to professionally promote and efficiently manage registrations and RSVPs for special meetings, events, seminars, and programs.

“Email marketing, event marketing, and online surveys are proven tools that help small to medium size businesses connect with customers and build successful relationships with them,” said Eric Groves, senior vice president, Global Market Development, Constant Contact. “We are pleased that Jackrabbit Technologies has chosen Constant Contact to provide its clients with online marketing tools, and we look forward to working together to help Jackrabbit be an even bigger factor in its clients’ successes.”