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design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Email Marketing Best Practices

July 16th, 2015

Have you ever opened your email only to find a long list of uninspired, unappealing, and loud advertisements all screaming at you? What did you do, read them all one-by-one, carefully considering their content and offers? Probably not! More than likely you simply deleted them all before you ever got past the subject line. So does this mean email marketing is dead? Hardly, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing to your existing client base if it is done correctly. So what are the best, most effective practices you can take into consideration when launching your own email marketing campaign?

Subject Line

For many people, it begins and ends at the subject line. If it looks like spam or is not interesting and eye-catching, they’re going to delete the entire email without ever opening it. You need to carefully craft a subject line that intrigues your clients and makes them want to read more. It needs to offer value to your target market and be personable, catchy and targeted directly to the reader.

Content

Once you’ve gotten someone to open an email, you have to keep their attention. Make sure that the content of the email provides valuable information, offers, deals or links that the client will want to hear about. But be careful, you don’t want to just blast them with self-promotional messages. Content should help clients fill a need they have in their lives, and should offer them something they’re truly interested in learning about. Make the content intriguing, and make them interested in hearing more. If you give them what they want now, you will be sure to make the sale later, and you don’t have to be pushy about it in the email.

Design

Don’t forget, however, that no matter how great your content is, if it doesn’t look good, your clients will delete it in the blink of an eye. Emails need to utilize the full capabilities of HTML coding, and they should be attractive to look at. The design should also fit in with your overall brand messaging so that it is easily identifiable as yours and yours alone. Professional, modern and uncluttered designs work best for email, so make sure to keep it simple. And don’t forget to make sure that the email works on every email platform, including mobile platforms. It might look good on your desktop, but if a client on an iPhone only sees a jumble of mixed-up images, the message will be lost and you’ve lost your sale.

If you can create a valuable, content-driven email that has great design that works well on all platforms, you will drive interest to your business. Remember that even though email marketing’s end goal is a sale, you don’t want the reader to feel pressured. They should feel like you’re giving them great information they want to hear first. If you get their interest and trust, the sales will come.

Design tells the world who and how relevant we are

July 8th, 2015

A design article entitled Oh, the logo by committee over at the Before & After Website is worth checking out. A few key quotes:

“Design looks easier than it is, and it’s more important than it looks. . . Design is us and it is personal. How something looks tells the world who and how we are.”

“When Steve Jobs started his Next computer company, his first act — before he had a building, before he had employees, before he had a product — was to pay Paul Rand $100,000 to design a logo. And Rand’s black cube gave Next its sleek identity.”

“NBC once paid a designer a million dollars to design an N.”

Read the whole article here.

SSL encryption is now a ranking factor for Google

April 12th, 2015

Earlier this year Matt Cutts of Google stated that he personally would like to see sites that use SSL encryption be given favor in Google’s rankings.  In August, Google officially announced this as their policy as you can read in this official Google Webmaster blog post.

How important is changing your site over to SSL?  Like all on-site SEO improvements there is no one thing that can be done technically that will magically boost a site to the top of the search engine. Quality and relevant content are and always will be the most important SEO strategy.

However, correctly coding, structuring and configuring your website are vital tasks to ensure that your quality content is being optimally indexed and distributed to the world.  There is no single factor of this on-site SEO which is a magic bullet, however cumulatively the small benefits of on-site optimization add up and do matter.

With SSL, Google says that it is a ranking factor now but is presently a “lightweight signal”. However, and most importantly, Google says: “But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

For this reason we are now recommending that all our Web clients migrate their sites to SSL.  It’s not an emergency but it should be part of a sites long-term development plan.  If you have more questions about SEO, or would like to discuss a strategic SEO analysis for your site please contact us.

How outgoing links on your site affect SEO

February 28th, 2015

This is a follow-up  to a post we published a couple years ago entitled entitled “Should you trade links?“.  We received an excellent question regarding that post about if and how PageRank can be lost from posting links to other sites within yours.

There is some confusion on this topic because when we put an unrestricted outgoing link to a page on another domain, the PageRank of our webpage does not decrease directly. However, the overall PageRank of our website is reduced due to how the flow of PageRank  within our entire website works.  For those of you not familiar with PageRank, it’s a sort of authority rating assigned by Google to a particular webpage. It’s a ranking based on the number of links to your webpage and the quality and relevancy of the webpage that are linking to your page. Google uses PageRank when determining how high to display your webpage in the search engine results page (SERP) for a keyword search relevant to your page.

When outgoing links are posted on a webpage that has been assigned PageRank by Google, Google will consider the total PageRank of the referring page, and distribute some of that same value to the outgoing links.  So if you have a webpage that has PageRank and you have ten links from that page going to other pages in your site, then the PageRank is flowing all back to your site.  If however you add links to external sites then Google will now take some of that PageRank that was being fed back to your site and assign it to those external pages, thus reducing the overall amount of PageRank for your site.  The PageRank of your webpage sending external links does not decrease directly, however if you add in links from other sites on your page now you’re not sending as much PageRank back to pages within your own site, it’s a net PageRank loss for your site.

This doesn’t mean that you should never have unrestricted outgoing links to other sites, it just means that when you do be aware that it’s costing you something in terms of overall website PageRank so you want to make sure you understand there is a cost and you need to make sure that you’re making a good investment with your PageRank currency.  There are good reasons to provide unrestricted outgoing links to other sites when they are high-authority sites and provide relevant and valuable resources that will benefit the users of your site.  It’s good to make friends with such sites and sometimes those high-authority sites will notice the favor you’ve done them.  The real key in deciding when and to whom you provide external links is be evaluating the value of those external links from the perspective of your site’s users.

For more insight into this topic please see our post “Should you trade links?“.

 

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