An Example of Business Automation - eCards with pizazz

The last time I spoke and went into a bit of detail on business automation. Today I would like to give you some details of how I actually used it personally so you get to see first-hand what I wanted, how I went about doing it and finally executing it.

Last month was Christmas. Of course, having a lot of customers, friends, family and associates I wanted to send Christmas greetings and/or Holiday wishes. So I thought about this and came up with the following criteria.

1. I wanted to send greetings to approximately 130 people. These people are in my email list.
2. The greetings had to be personalized wherever possible.
3. The greetings had to have my corporate logo with a link to my web site.
4. The greetings had to divided into separate groups for customization purposes.
5. Once setup, the "system" would have to track viewer statistics.
6. I should be able to "select" anyone from my list to send a "special" card.
7. Once setup, the "system" should automate the entire process so I can take a "Hands-off" approach.
8. The system should be capable of displaying a specific font and generate the card on the fly to my visitor. And should also be capable of playing a suitable Christmas carol in the background.
9. Finally, the system should be capable of allowing me to reuse for other occasions.

Armed with these requirements I went about searching the Internet for a suitable application (of course, why reinvent the wheel?). Guess what? I didn't find any. Yes, there are a lot of e-card places out there but tell me which one will match my criteria above?

So, I decided to write a little "system" for myself. The "system" took me 3 hours of development and 1 hour of tweaking. When it was done and tested, I launched it. It took me 5 minutes to send the 130+ cards out. Here's what it did:

1. Allowed me to select groups of contacts based on criteria I provided.
2. Allowed me to select a card and appropriate music to be sent.
3. Customized each email to the recipients name or alternate greetings (ex: John and family, instead of John Doe).
4. Inserted the name of the contact in appropriate places making the email even more personal.
5. Sent the email out with the appropriate link to "view" the greeting.
6. Created an electronic log of who the greeting was sent out to, when (date and time) and details of the greeting.
7. Tracked when a person opened the greeting to view the e-card (and how many times).
8. Created a "on-the-fly" greeting that was customized to greet my visitor the way I set it to be.
9. Brought my contact to my web site ( contact page with a personalized message to them.

Not bad for four hours of work. I was happy to say that from all the emails that my contacts received (some did not because of Hotmail accounts - lesson learned), 100% clicked on the link, visited my web site and sent me thank you's, reciprocal greetings or just general comments.

Needless to say I was happy because it saved me hours in going out, getting cards, personalizing it, mailing it etc. etc.. With this "system" I not only saved hours but will continue to save them every time I use it.

Can this system be extended? You bet. My plans are to extend it to start creating gentle reminders to me on special "anniversary" dates of my clients, friends, family. This way, I will let the system do the work from my "working" list. The ultimate idea would be to create a system that would automatically allow me to stay in constant contact with my contacts. Something every business should be doing anyways. talk about a win-win situation.

Would you like to take advantage of my handy "system"? Send me an email and I can see how we can set you up.

Elvin Picardo
Delivering Net Results to Small Business
Author of numerous articles on Web Development and Internet Marketing
10723 159th St, Surrey, BC V4N 3J1 Canada
Contact me

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