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It can be very tempting to fill each of your email newsletters with information about your latest service or product, and, indeed, your readers will be expecting to hear a certain amount of that. But, do not forget also to include some free tips or an advice spot. Giving a measured amount of free information marks you as an expert in your field, and a generous one at that.
Do not use your email newsletter in the same way as you would Twitter or a blog. Your subscribers have given you permission to send them information, but, if you abuse it, they will soon be sorry they did. The result will be that they will leave your list just as quickly as they subscribed to it. Send updates once or twice a month and leave it at that.
When you first start sending out email newsletters, it is very tempting to send them using your normal email delivery service, such as Outlook. After all, it is free and already there on your desktop. However, internet service providers frown upon mass mailing, and you will find very quickly that your email address will be blacklisted and you may be banned from sending any email. There are many legitimate email delivery services available whose costs are minimal; use one to manage your mailing list.
Do not forget to ask your readers for their comments, questions or future topics they would like to see covered. The whole point of writing an email newsletter is to build a relationship with your prospects and invite further interaction. You want them to take the next step by picking up the telephone or sending you an email. Make it clear that not only is this an acceptable way of contacting you, but the best way.
If you use a proper email newsletter delivery service such as Constant Contact, Aweber or MailChimp, your subscribers will go through what is known as a ‘double opt-in’. This means that, after submitting their email address through your website form or other link asking them to sign up for your newsletter, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription by clicking on a link within it. This is key, as it stops third parties from adding subscribers without their knowledge.
The following series will look at some housekeeping rules, which will ensure that you follow the strict etiquette of email marketing, while presenting yourself and your business in a professional and ethical way.
Make sure your subscribers actually subscribed
There is nothing more annoying than being inundated with unsolicited sales emails. We all hate it. If you are boosting your subscriber list by adding email addresses from business cards you have picked up, trawling the yellow pages or your local Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list, your messages risk not only going straight to the junk mail folder, but also alienating people with whom you might have established good working relationships. Make sure the owner of the email address has requested that you send them information, or, at the very least, has agreed to receive it.
Cybercriminals don’t just target big companies. Sole traders and small businesses are starting to feel the pinch of cybercrime too. Insurance expert, PolicyBee, is here to show how cyber insurance can help protect your VA business.
Virtual assistants are a vital part of thousands of UK businesses.
Over 13,000 small businesses employed a virtual assistant in 2018. As remote and hybrid working becomes the norm after the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more are looking to bring one on board.
Being a virtual assistant isn’t easy, though. If you’re a sole trader, you’re responsible if anything goes wrong. It’s up to you to fix any problems.
If a malware or ransomware attack stops you from working on a Monday morning, what do you do? How can you keep helping your clients? And what can you do to make sure you’re protected in the future?
A problem for small businesses
It’s common for small businesses to think cybercrime won’t affect them. You’re a smaller target. You hold less data. You’re not worth as much money to cyber criminals.
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking leads to complacency. And makes you an easy target.
The scary reality for small businesses is that every 19 seconds in the UK, one of you is hacked.
You’re probably wondering: why do cybercriminals hack small businesses? Especially when larger businesses are such lucrative targets?
Well, it comes down to one thing. Cybercriminals search for businesses where they can get the most data for the least amount of effort.
Big corporations are very difficult to hack. So, they go after small businesses or sole traders instead. Like virtual assistants.
If you’re hacked, it could cost a pretty penny. On average, it’ll set you back £4,200. But it could cost a lot more.
For a virtual assistant, that’s a tough loss to take. It can set you back months and affect your reputation and client relationships.
The unfortunate reality of being a virtual assistant is that you might be targeted because of the valuable data you use and store. Many companies will involve you in processes that use sensitive data, like finance or communications. This means you could be worth £thousands to cyber criminals.
Don’t worry. There are ways that you can protect yourself.
If the worst happens and you’re hacked, cyber insurance covers your costs. But you also need to prevent attacks before they happen.
There are some helpful tools out there for small businesses. This guide by the National Cyber Security Centre has plenty of tips and advice for making your business safer online.
Sometimes, though, all the preparation in the world can’t protect you. With cybercrime on the rise, breaches are happening in their droves every day to small businesses.
If you get caught by one, you could struggle to work. Or be left with a tricky and expensive legal process to manage.
Cyber insurance is there to help you if the worst happens.
If you become the victim of cybercrime, cyber insurance jumps into action.
To start, it covers your direct costs. So, if you’re unable to work for a few weeks because of the hack, cyber insurance will sort out your lost income.
If you’re infected with ransomware, it’ll also pay for any ransoms. Oh, and any legal fees that might spring up.
Finally, it provides you with a variety of experts that’ll help you recover from the attack.
The first thing the experts will tackle is getting your systems back under control. A team of cybersecurity experts will work with you to get you back on track. So you can start working with your clients again.
After the technical issues are sorted, it’s time for the legal experts to do their job. They notify the Information Commissioner’s Office for you – as well as other relevant people and organisations – and help you sort out any legal issues. Like if you’re sued for losing clients’ sensitive data.
You’ll also get PR support. They’ll help you explain the situation to your customers and maintain your valuable relationships.
All these costs are covered by insurance. So you can get back on your feet quickly.
Like many other sole traders, you might use suppliers. You’re also covered if they cause a breach. Good luck with the awkward conversation afterwards, though!
At this point, it’s important to say that different cyber insurance policies cover different things. For example, it’s common for policies to not cover some kinds of attack, like social engineering.
Social engineering is a kind of cyber-attack that manipulates someone within an organisation to do something. Like leaking sensitive information, transferring money, or sharing a password.
Roughly 98% of all breaches use social engineering. When you’re shopping around for cyber insurance, make sure to read the policy wording carefully. Otherwise, you might be missing out on this vital area of cover.
What’s the difference between cyber insurance and professional indemnity insurance?
A lot of virtual assistants have professional indemnity insurance. It covers you if a client accuses you of poor service, negligence, or acting in bad faith. Or other similar claims that might result in financial loss for your client.
You’re probably wondering: doesn’t my professional indemnity policy cover me for cyber-attacks and data breaches?
In 2023, the answer is probably not. Most insurers don’t allow claims for cybersecurity and data protection.
But it’s not as cut and dry as that. Every policy is different. If you’re not sure whether your policy covers you for cybercrime, it’s time to dig out the documents you received when you bought it.
Give it a good read to make sure whether you’re covered or not. The last thing you want is to be caught by surprise when a cyber-attack hits you.
The best way to combat cybercrime is to keep learning.
That’s why some cyber insurance policies include training.
As well as teaching you about cybercrime, it’ll help you prevent social engineering attacks, like phishing.
Examples are used too, so you’ll learn how to spot dodgy emails, texts, and phone calls from a mile off. You’ll also get a rundown on cybersecurity so you can use the internet and your client’s data safely.
By knowing more, you can stop attacks before they have a chance to affect you. After all, almost half of the cyber-attacks in the UK work because of phishing. That’s a lot of attacks that could be stopped by better education.
Unfortunately, even with all the training in the world, mistakes happen. You might click on a bad link or accidentally send money to a cybercriminal. It can happen to anyone.
Most cyber insurers can be contacted 24/7. In fact, they often ask you to get in touch as soon as you realise you’ve made a mistake. Even if it’s 1am on a Saturday morning.
They want to be able to get to work right away so that you have a higher chance of recovering quickly from the attack.
Build cybercrime defences
There’s a good chance that you’re going to be targeted by a cyber-attack at some point.
You might have done nothing wrong. Or you could have fallen victim to an elaborate social engineering attack.
However it happened, cyber insurance helps you deal with the outcomes. And gets you back on your feet fast, so you can keep helping your clients and earning money.
To find out more about cyber insurance, visit www.policybee.co.uk. You can also call our team on 0345 222 5370 if you need any advice or have any questions.
Include a link to your newsletter sign up page on your Facebook profile and from time to time include it in your status. The day that you have sent out your latest issue is a great time to do this.
Who Are The UK Association of Virtual Assistants?
The UK Association of Virtual Assistants was formed to fill a void in the UK virtual assistant market. There was increasing demand for virtual assistants and virtual personal assistants, but there was no real association where prospective clients or virtual assistants could go for information, advice and recommendations. What the industry needed was a one-stop shop for both potential clients and virtual assistants alike. The UK Association of Virtual Assistants was born.
For potential clients looking for a part-time home based secretary, a virtual assistant, personal assistant or even a full blown virtual office, our Virtual Assistants Directory provides an online source of contacts listed by location and skills. Each listing provides details of the services offered by each assistant, their contact details and links to their web site where appropriate. There is also the added assurance that each virtual assistant listed agrees to adhere to the associations CODE OF CONDUCT. To find a virtual assistant to suit your needs, visit our DIRECTORY OF UK VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS.
For virtual assistants, the Association gives the opportunity to become part of a virtual team, to share ideas and experiences. It also gives you the opportunity to be recognised as a professional in your field by becoming an accredited member of the Association and adhering to our CODE OF CONDUCT. If you would like to become a part of our professional team and have you details listed within our DIRECTORY why not JOIN US today?