Can You Get Over 100% Return With E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing and generating traffic to your site.

One company received 140% response rate with an e-mail broadcast. When I first heard this, I thought is was a typo. After all, even if every one who received the e-mail responded, that would only be 100%, right?

The e-mail was so compelling and the product was so interesting that the people who originally received the e-mail forwarded it on to other people they felt would be interested, so the reach of e-mail extended beyond the original list to include friends and colleagues in their address book.

An interesting illustration of the power of people telling others.

Effective Use of Google Analytics Data

Due to the current economic situation effecting businesses around the world, executives are being forced to cut back even more on spending in order to help their companies survive. Unfortunately some of these cut backs tend to include critical marketing budgets. Ensuring the right cuts are being made is more crucial then ever. This article has a few suggestions on how to use your web analytics data to help you make better informed decisions.

The best approach is to find campaigns or parts of campaigns that are not efficient and to cut them while supporting the more efficient campaigns with the leftover marketing dollars. Here are a few places that I would check first to find these inefficiencies:

Cost per Conversion Comparison

Compare the cost per conversion for each of your campaigns. In Google Analytics you will find this information under All Traffic Sources. From there click Traffic by Medium and finally select the Conversion tab. The cost per conversion for each traffic driving mechanism (I.E. medium) should be displayed if you have set up your goals properly.

Compare by Geography

Compare the cost per conversion by geography. You will find this under Map Overlay in the Visitors section of the reports. You may find that some regions have a high cost per conversion for whatever reason. Eliminate them from the geo-targeting of your paid marketing campaigns.

Time of Day

Review the cost per conversion by time of day. You can do this by going to the goals section and clicking the Graph by Hour button. You can also run a custom report to get more detailed information about the cost per conversion for each hour of the day.

Sources

We also recommend you dive more deeply into your reports to see if there are specific referring sites in paid campaigns with an abnormally high cost per conversion. Then check the cost per conversion against the creative or message used for each campaign.

If you monitor your reports closely and track the trends over time you will be able to eliminate inefficiencies and improve your ongoing campaigns.

SEO Text Optimization Tips

There is a saying in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that “Content is King”. This means that the visible content on the page is the most important factor in search engine rankings. We recommend focusing on one SEO target per page. Focusing on too many different phrases per page will dilute the effectiveness of the page, and the page will not rank highly for any of the target keyword phrases. The text on the page should match with the target of the META tags for maximum effectiveness. Text that is on the homepage is weighted more heavily than text on subpages. For the homepage we recommend pulling keywords from each of the subpages to make the home page contain the optimum level of keyword rich content.

Here are some other tips for optimizing text

1. We recommend that each page have 100 to 900 words.

2. Each page should have 1-5 target keyword phrases. These phrases should become keyword research that needs to performed to make sure the targeted phrases have a high number of searches. The target keyword phrase should be incorporated into the website’s visible text, headers, subheaders, image alt tags and META tags. 


3. Use optimized headers at the top of every page and optimized subheaders throughout the page. For instance, each page should have a header at the top of the page that contains the subject of the page. In the body copy try to incorporate subheads that describe the paragraphs of text.

4. Place your target keyword phrase close to the beginning of your page. Early appearance of your keyword shows its importance in the context of the entire page because it is mentioned at the very beginning. We recommend that keywords be placed in the first 25 words in the visible text of this page.

5. Your keyword should constitute at least 2 percent density on your page. The density is the percent that the keyword phrase is used within the text. You can test the keyword density once the page is live using the following tool: http://totheweb.com/tools/spider-test/index.php. You can increase the density of the phrase by increasing your usage of the keyword phrase or by eliminating unnecessary text that does not contain the phrase.
Also consider the possibility of using different forms of your keywords. During the ranking process search engines consider not only direct matches of keywords, but also their various alterations. In addition, the modification of your keyword makes the content more user-friendly, so your page doesn’t look like a readability puzzle stuffed with one key phrase. The best approach for writing page copy is to write naturally and write what feels comfortable to you.

6. In #4 we explain the effectiveness of placing a keyword phrase at the beginning of you page. If possible, you can also include your target keyword phrase close to the end of your page. Your page will be more relevant if your keyword appears at the end and the beginning of the visible text. To do this, put your keyword in the last paragraph of your copy. We also recommend adding a call to action at the bottom of every page with a link to one of the conversion point form pages.

Your Website Color Choice Is Important

Many web designers overlook the importance of color when designing a web site. Color should be one of your first concerns when it comes time to start your web site design. If you don’t pay close attention to the colors you chose, your site you will end up either plain and boring or so chaotic it’s hard to look at. The color you use should only be chosen after careful consideration.

Unfortunately web browsers can only see 256 colors. Even that number is hindered because all browsers don’t share the same 256-color pallet. Currently web browsers only share 216 common colors. When designing key elements in your web site you should stay within the 216-color pallet.

If you go outside the 216 color pallet you start to use colors that do not exist within that browser. The browser has to mix the colors that do not exist. In order for the browser to display the color, it needs to take tiny dots from the colors native to that browser to come up with an approximate color. This is known as dithering. Some displays will distort the tiny dots to the point where the image is so speckled that it does not appear to be a solid color. This makes text very hard to read if it is placed over the dithered color. You should always use a browser safe color when using solid color as a design element. Some of the browser safe colors should be used with caution though.

Most of the eye operations are muscular and just like all other muscles it tires out. I will illustrate with an example. (This is a test I learned about 7 years ago and is very effective to get the point across). This is a simple test that should take only 45 seconds. If you do this short test, you will be better able to understand what I’m about to say.

Web Design Color Test

1) Look at the black dot in the red box for 25 seconds from about 10 -15 inches away from your monitor. You must keep your focus on the black dot for this test to work.

2) After the 25 seconds look at the dot in the white box for 20 seconds. (You must focus on the black dot)

3) What color did you see in the white box?

What did you see when you looked at the white box? Did you see a bluish green color? (If not go back and do the test over). No this is not a trick or hallucination. There is a simple explanation. Without getting too technical, I’ll tell you what just happened.

In the back of your eye there is a thin layer of tissue that contains millions of tiny light-sensing nerve cells called rods and cones. Cones respond to specific wavelengths of light. Your eye is filled with color decoding cones. When you looked at the red box the cones that detect the red wavelength become tired and fatigued. When this happens the opposite cones in your eye start to kick in. Hence the bluish green color you saw. Now that you know there is a scientific reason behind eye fatigue you should apply it to your web site.

I’m sure you have you noticed that caution signs are usually yellow. Pure yellow strains your eye more than any other color because of that, it is the first color your eye will fix on. Using these colors (I still advise you to use it sparingly) for banners and advertisements will receive more attention from the viewer’s eye. Once the visitor comes to your site there is really no reason you should irritate the visitor with bright colors. You have done a good job if they are viewing your site.

You should use yellow and red colors sparingly in your web site itself. Only use them in areas where you want the visitor to focus on. Do not make large parts of your web site with bright color. It might get your visitors attention but they will either consciously or subconsciously notice their eyes getting fatigued. This will make them not want to look at your web site for long periods of time. There are enough reasons why a visitor would leave your web site. You don’t need to add to that list by using irritating color.

Learn The Language Of The World Wide Web

If you are already on the web or thinking about it then you must know the terminology used on the web. Here is a GLOSSARY of a few must know Web Terms.

Visitors – The number of distinct people who visit your site.

Page Views – The number of web pages that have been viewed by the visitors to your site. If a single page is viewed many times by a visitor, each view is treated as a new page view.

Hits – When a visitor views a page that has 3 graphics or images on it, he / she will give you 4 hits. 1 for the HTML page and 3 for the graphics. As hits are meaningless, you must not express your site statistics in terms of Hit count.

Referrer URL – It is the web site from which the visitor has arrived to your site. Assume that the www.xyzsite.com web site has a link to your site on all its pages. When a surfer clicks on your sites’ link and arrives at your site, www.xyzsite.com becomes your Referrer URL. Thus a referrer url indicates the sites which are giving you traffic.

DirectVisits – If visitors type the url of your site in their browsers or click on a browser bookmark to arrive at your site, it will be shown as a Direct Visit.

WYSIWYG HTML Editor – This is short for ” What You See Is What You Get “. It is pronounced as We-z-Wig. A WYSIWYG HTML Editor will create the HTML page for you. All tags are automatically inserted by the editor when you click buttons. You only need to type in the text of your document. A WYSIWYG Editor is very useful while working with tables as it displays the table structure i.e. rows and columns.

HTML Validation – A HTML validation tool is used to determine if the HTML code in your web page has any errors on it. Validating your HTML code ensures that your web page will be displaced correctly by most browsers.

Link Popularity – Is measured in terms of the number of sites which are linking to your site. High Link Popularity for a web site helps to improve its ranking in the Search Engine listings. To determine the number of sites linking to the site www.yoursite.com in Google, type “link:yoursite.com-url:yoursite.com” in the search box. The – stands for minus and it will exclude links from pages within the yoursite.com domain. You can also determine Link Popularity using Google toolbar. Display the required site and check “Backward Links” in the Google toolbar. The toolbar is free to download from http://toolbar.google.com.

Spider – When you submit a web site to a Search Engine (SE), the SE will send out spiders (software program) to your site. These spiders will record information about your site and bring it back to the SE. The info brought by the spiders is added to the database of the SE. This process is known as indexing. After your site has been indexed it will be ranked and listed by the SE, so that the site shows up in the search results.

Autoresponder – It is a software that sends an automated reply or replies to emails sent to it. The reply or replies are pre written and saved on the web server by the web site owner. As the replies are automated, it saves time & effort for the web site owner. Autoresponders can be used for sending product details to customers, to handle subscription requests or to send follow up messages to prospective customers.

Tried And Tested Tips To Improve Your Website

Image Utilization

DO NOT use excessive graphics or banner images on a single web page. They tend to slow the loading of your Web page. Impatient surfers might close their browser and move on. Usually your web page must load within 10 seconds. If you have many images on a single page, consider reducing their file size (resolution) deleting few of them or moving them to a new page.

Add Essential Elements

You should include these elements on your website: About Us [Brief description of your company and its products. You can include personal details about yourself and your employees], Contact Us [Provide the postal address, telephone, fax, email of your company or business along with a lead capture form.], A Links to Related Sites page, A Home Page link on each page and Site Search tool to allow visitors to find information on your site.

Give something FREE on your website

You can offer free ebooks, articles and/or software. The stuff that you give away should be related to the topic of your website and should benefit your vistors in some way. This helps to keep people coming back to your website.

Color Selection

You should specify colors for page background, text, active link, visited link and Url links in the body tag. This will ensure that your site is displayed exactly as designed. Consider the readability of your text when choosing the text color and the background color of the page.

Keyword Meta Optimization

In the Keywords Meta tag try to use both singular and plural variations of the words. e.g. internet cafes, internet cafe. DO NOT use a keyword more than 3 times and DO NOT repeat a keyword one after the other.

Keywords Expanded

Other than the Keyword and Description Meta tags, you must try to use keywords in following areas: the title tag, description tag, the Content of the page, Image names, Image alt tags, Href title attributes and in the Text of a link.

Target Phrases

Most surfers are using PHRASES for search terms. This means that you should also use phrases in the Meta keyword tag. For deciding the keywords use the suggestion tools provided by Google.

Small Page Size

Try to keep the total size of your web page under 1000 kilobytes[kb]. The size of the web page is the sum of the size of the HTML file and the sizes of all images on the web page. Always check the web page/s for errors in spelling and grammar before uploading it to your server. After uploading the web page/s get friends and colleagues to read through your site and point out any errors they see.

Fix Broken Links

Check for broken links on your web pages on a regular basis. You can do this manually or use a software program to do this for you. Links to website which have shut down or sold out will lead to broken links. Google Webmaster tools offer a handy online tool that can check your website for broken links.

Double Opt-in

If you have an Autoresponder to build an Opt-In list, use a double Opt-In. The first message should ask for confirmation of the Opt-In and have a link that allows users to remove themselves from the list. Only if the user sends the confirmation, should the 2nd message be sent.

Conceptualize, Build And Publish A Web Site

All of us knowingly or unknowingly, use a standard decision making process in our day-to-day lives. The very first step of this process is to decide whether TO DO or NOT TO DO. If the choice is TO DO, we think of the various ways and means of attaining our objective/s, compare their pros & cons and take a final stand.

This aim of this articles is to make you aware of the resources that are needed to achieve your TO DO objective. The TO DO objective is to conceptualize, build and publish your web site.

If you are convinced of the fact that you do need a web site, then the next step is to decide what you want from your web site. Do you want a site that your near and dear ones can visit from time to time ( I assume you are far away from them. ) or do you want a site that sells a product, service, brand or image? Whatever the purpose of your web site, the absolute essentials to have a site up and running are as below.

The 5 Essentials

Spare Time – You must have lot of spare time at your disposal. So if you are a house maker whose kids have grown up, a worker who has just been shown the pink slip or college student on vacation then time shouldn’t be a problem for you. Those hard pressed for time can contract the web page design work to a professional web design company.

HTML Knowledge – HTML is NOT a programming language. Its basics can be mastered within a month and the learning curve is not too steep. The fact that anyone can learn HTML and create Web pages is the reason why the internet is so popular and has such varied content. Learn the HTML tags and how to use them. Buy a good book on HTML. It will teach HTML and also give links to various online HTML resource sites.

HTML Page & Site Creation Tools – The main reason for using these tools is to speed up the process of page / site creation. However, most of the tools do not produce correct HTML and editing by hand is necessary. Your HTML book will provide reviews of these tools and links to their web sites. If you know HTML and plan to have 5-6 web pages in your site, a rudimentary editor will also suffice. For managing a site with huge number of pages you will need to use a Site Creation Tool.

Make provisions for a fast internet connection and a room where you can work without distractions.
Find a web hosting company to host your web site.

Crystallize a Concept

With the 5 main things taken care of, you should be ready for Conceptualization. Consider that you would like your site to accomplish, who you are targeting and what appraoch will be most effective. Viewing your competitors website will help you to get a feel for what your up against.

Build your Site

Once you have arrived at a concept, use your HTML Knowledge and , HTML Page Creation Tools. Edit the HTML to make the visual just right. Load the pages with content. Keep in mind that Content is King. Keep the page design simple yet elegant. Value content over flashiness. Don’t use too much graphics, if you do the page will take time to load. Impatient surfers might close their browsers and move on.

Publish your Site

To enable surfers to view your web site, you must publish your pages to a server that is connected to the internet i.e. a web server. When you publish a page to a web server, you upload that page on to the web server. You can upload the pages on the server of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or on the server of an IPP (Internet Presence Provider) i.e. a web hosting company. Usually it is better to use an IPP because:

  • An IPP offers more web space (20 MB free) than an ISP (5 MB).
  • IPPs usually allow CGI on their servers.
  • Do people really need to have their own domain name? Well, if you plan to have a business web site having your own domain name is a MUST. Surfers will place more faith in a business with its own domain name. Also an url with a domain name in shorter and easier to recollect.

Once you have published your pages, type your site url in the browser and view the site. Test all url links to ensure that they are working correctly. If your site sells a concept or product you must publicize the site so that surfers get to know about it. Publicizing the site and generating traffic to it are issues in themselves and would need another article. For more help on these topics search for ebooks and articles. Plenty are available.

Building Your E-mail Subscriber List

The most successful Internet marketing gurus know that the secret is in the LIST. The list of subscribers they’ve built, an audience that WANTS to hear from them every month and eagerly reads the newsletters and other communications and frequently buy from what is offered.

While people hate spam, they also do sign up for information they WANT to receive.

Here are some tips for building your own targeted subscriber list:

  1. Ensure your content in your newsletter or other information sent via e-mail is of great value to your subscribers. This way they’ll recommend it to others and be less likely to unsubscribe.
  2. Make it easy for people to sign up for your newsletter on your web site. Have the signup section prominent on the main page.
  3. Include a link in your newsletter so that subscribers can recommend others. Offer something for free to help build your list quickly. The Alberta Turkey Producers Association started an e-mail recipe of the month club in October 2002. In 6 months, they had 25,000 Albertans sign up for the e-mail distribution list. They typically get about 3,000 responses to each recipe, many of which are inquiries on where to buy the cuts of turkey mentioned in the recipe. The Alberta Turkey Producers Association was successful in building so quickly was that they offered free recipes.
  4. Offer a sample of your newsletter on your web site so that people can see the quality of the resources you’ll be offering.
  5. Ask everyone you come in contact with if they would like to receive your newsletter.
  6. Every time someone e-mails, messages or phones me with a question, I ask them if they are receiving my newsletter. If not, I ask them if they’d like to.
  7. Connect with people through social media sites. Invite them to join your mailing list in your profile and each time you connect.

It is critical to your Internet marketing success that your organization has a subscriber building program in place and that every team member understands their role in building a profitable subscriber list.

I Need a Website – Where Do I Start?

You know you need a website, but you don’t know where to start. This is the situation we find many companies who come to us are in. Ask yourself… Who is my audience? Who am I trying to reach? What are the goals for my website? How do we achieve these goals? With the answers to these questions in mind, we typically recommend starting with a simple sitemap. A sitemap is a list of the pages that you will use as the structure to your website. You will need a Homepage and a Contact Us page where people can fill out a form to email you. You should also include an About Us page which describes your company, your mission, your approach, etc. If you are a service based company, you should have a Services page or a page for each service. If you manufacture products, you should have a page for each product (whether the site is eCommerce or not). Other pages to consider include: FAQ, Testimonials, Privacy Policy, Photo Gallery, Newsletters, Articles, Maps and Directions, Clients, etc.

Once you have your sitemap we recommend taking a look at some competitor websites to see what your up against. DO NOT COPY their text. Use what you see for ideas only. You may decide that you want to add pages to your site based upon what you see. You can also start brainstorming possible web design layouts, color schemes, font preferences, navigation preferences, and image ideas.

Your next step should be to meet with a web design company to discuss your options. Show them your sitemap and some of the sites that you like. Consider the website’s color scheme (you can pick a good one by visiting Kuler), the layout, the navigation, use of animation, position of conversion points, and the content. Tell them what you like about the sites that you show to them and why you like it. Showing them things that you do not like is also very important. This should facilitate a discussion about your new website. When we meet with new clients, we like to “whiteboard” or list ideas until everyone at the table feels we have the best concept for a site established. It is also a good idea to pick and register a domain name early in the process before yours gets registered by another party. We recommend that you own your domain name as opposed to having it owned by your web design company.

Website Design Company CT

Based upon the meeting with your design company, you should request a proposal for your website. If your not 100% confident in the company you meet with or not sure that they are giving you a fair price, you should request proposals of other web design companies. We recommend that you do not just pick the lowest price company as you often get what you pay for. Take a look at each vendor’s portfolio of work and consider if they can represent your company successfully through the website and can deliver it in a timely manner. These questions will help you decide which companies will provide a poor quality website and which companies that will take FOREVER to complete the site. Depending on the complexity, a small 1-10 page site should be complete in no more then one month. We also recommend that you consider if the site that they build for you will help you to achieve your goals. Most of our clients want to receive a lot of visits which means that the site will need to rank highly in the search engines. If the company building the site doesn’t also specialize in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you may want to look elsewhere, otherwise you may receive a site that looks nice but doesn’t achieve your goal of driving traffic to your site.

Once you have selected a web design company to build your site you will likely have a kickoff meeting to get the design team started on the initial mockup of the site. This is where you will discuss the details of the site with them and how you would like the site to look. After this initial meeting they will present ideas to you based upon your prior conversation and research that they have done about your brand and the competitive landscape of your industry. Your account representative should tell you what content you need to develop and should present a schedule with everyone’s tasks to be completed (yours and the designers). You may also need to pick some stock images (designers may also pick them for you) or schedule a photoshoot.

If you’re having the site optimized for the search engines (and you should), you will provide the SEO Specialist with a list of keyword phrases which you think the site should rank highly for. This list will be used to plant a keyword research project where all keywords that can be targeted will be collected along with data about each keyword phrase including the competitiveness of the phrase and the number of monthly searches. Together with the SEO Specialist, you will pick the phrases that you would like to target. The best phrases to target will likely be ones that have a limited amount of competition, a high number of monthly searches, and most importantly, phrases that are highly relevant to exactly what you do. It is best to pick very specific phrases that target your niche in the market rather then targeting broad terms. Having the target keyword phrases defined at this early stage in the process will give you the ability to work them into the text for the website as you write it. See the text optimization article for more tips on incorporating the keywords into your website text.

The SEO Specialist SHOULD write custom meta tags that target the keyword phrases which have been agreed upon from the keyword research. The SEO Specialist should also review your text and make recommendations for you to incorporate additional keywords if the frequency of keywords within the visible text is not high enough.

The design team will present you with a mockup or mockups of your site and ask for your changes. This is the best time to make changes to the way that the site will look as changes made later will be much more time consuming. Make sure that you are 100% happy with the design before approving it and moving to the next step.

Once you have delivered all of your finalized content to the designers (text and images), and your design is approved, it is time to “build-out” the site. The web designers and developers will build each individual page, create the navigation and build any other features such as site search, XML sitemaps, social media link buttons, custom 404 pages, etc. The custom META tags will be inserted into the website and the SEO Specialist will ensure that all other SEO best practices have been adhered to including adding header h1/h2/h3 tags, alt tags, cross links, etc. The site will then get uploaded to the server (not live to the public yet) for testing. Email addresses will get set up and forms will be tested.

Once the testing is complete, you should review the site very thoroughly to ensure that it is perfect before it goes live. The web design company will have done this also, but there may be nuances about the text that you wrote that only you will notice. This last round of changes will ensure that everything is correct when your customers first view your site. You should already have a domain name purchased. If you don’t you can buy one at Godaddy or any of the thousands of other domain name registrars. The website design company will need access to your domain name to make the site live.

YAY! Your site is live!! You can just sit back and wait for the leads to pour in, right? No, sorry it’s not that easy or that quick. Natural SEO can take some time so you need to promote the site in other ways. We typically recommend a Google pay-per-click campaign to help launch the site. We also recommend link building to help your natural search rankings. We recommend email marketing especially if you have a sizable opt-in email list. Social media is another great way to promote your site. You will need Google Analytics to track and measure the effectiveness of your website marketing efforts. We really could go on and on about how to market your website, but that is for another article (or many).

We hope you found this article enjoyable and informative. If you have any recommendations pleas email us to tell us what you liked or did not like, or what you think was missing. Your input is appreciated.