In a recent article on Business Insider Australia, sixteen successful CEOs and business owners were interviewed about their morning habits. Without fail, each and every one read the newspaper (in paper or online) each morning. Do you?
I definitely do. Sometimes I’m catching up on world news, sometimes I filter just the business and technology articles, some days I’m just hungry for local information. Either way, I digest as much as I can in the little time I have (I’m sure mornings can be a little hectic in your house too). After a while I realised that there had to be an easier way to filter relevant information for me. What I discovered has saved me tonnes of time and effort. What is it? Let me tell you.
Imagine if you had a little robot constantly scanning news from across the Internet for you, reading quicker than you or I could imagine. Whenever he came across something that he thought you were interested in, he sent you an email with a link so you could check it out for yourself. This would be awesome. Better yet, it exists and its free.
Enter the world of Alerts. If I had written this post a few months ago I would have just spoken about Google Alerts, but I’ve recently come to discover TalkWalker as well. In short, they both do the same thing however I hear that a number of people have felt that the effectiveness of Google Alerts has decreased noticeably in recent months. I have a mixture of Google Alerts and TalkWalker Alerts and they are both working fine for me, but if this is new territory for you there’s no harm in just going with one rather than the other.
How do Alerts work?
In short, both Google Alerts and TalkWalker Alerts trawl the web constantly, searching for newly indexed pages (eg, new content – such as news articles). As a user, you provide a search term such as your “business name” and the program will automatically email you the moment it uncovers a new reference for your search term. I’ve included an image of the TalkWalker Create Alert form below.
As you can see, it’s as simple as entering your search query, choosing ‘result type’ which includes news/blogs/discussions, how often you want TalkWalker to email you, and popping in your email address. The process for Google Alerts is almost identical.
However, earlier I suggested that Alerts could save you time and energy. Below are 7 ways that you could be using alerts to your advantage.
7 ways you should be using Alerts for your Business
- “Your Business”. Of course you want to know every time your business, association or even your name is written online. That is unless you are a super-sized corporation like McDonalds, then your inbox would be totally cluttered with all the references.
- “Project Launch”. If you’re launching a particular project or event and you want to know what’s being said in the lead up, or shortly after the launch then alerts can definitely help you. I’d suggest deactivating the alert after a period of time.
- “Your suppliers”. Most suppliers are pretty good at telling you when they’ve got something interesting to share, but many will be selective in what they tell you over time. Set up an alert related to your biggest/main supplier and keep abreast of any relevant news, price fluctuation, new products, etc. If anything, it will help with your relationship with them.
- “Your clients/customers”. This is similar to your suppliers in many ways.
- “Your competition”. This is one of the easiest ways to do market/competition research. Every time one of your competitors runs a press release on a new product – you get informed. Whenever your competitors push a new advert or other information out to your market base – you get informed. And more importantly, some of them are probably doing the same thing to you.
- “Your industry”. I bet you are already subscribed to several industry newsletters. If so, you are probably well informed with the latest news. However, the difference with getting information this way is that you can be laser focussed on what news you read. Maybe you’re in hospitality – most industry newsletters will cover a broad range of articles across the breadth of your industry. But if you wanted information related to ‘marketing’, ‘hospitality’, and ‘Victoria’ you could get a specific list of news and articles as they come up (maybe an article every couple of weeks).
- “Your region”. I love reading the local newspaper as it gives me great insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist on my very doorstep. It’s a little harder though to get hold of all the newspapers from the other areas within a half hour drive from home (a broad area that I still call home). Running some Alerts on specific townships that are close by also gives me a wealth of information that I wouldn’t otherwise have on hand.
As you are now realising there’s lots of ways that Alerts can help you screen news and articles so you are getting only the relevant information that you’re after. This doesn’t mean that I don’t buy the paper any more, but it does mean that there’s less chance of me missing something important.
I’ve got one supercharged tip for you though. What do I do with all these emails?
I’ve set up a rule that puts all these alerts into a separate folder in my inbox, and a second rule to automatically delete them after they’ve been there for 4 days.
You can probably imagine how many alerts I have running in the background. Every time I get an email they get deposited into a single folder that I check each morning. After several days they’re “old news” and if I haven’t made the time to read them they probably didn’t look too interesting anyhow. Either way I know that when I open up that folder I have a selection of juicy news and articles, chosen specifically for me, that meet my criteria.
Do you use Alerts in your business? If so I’d love to know how well they work for you. Pop a note in the comments below.