Web & Digital

Responsive websites: 6 clear reasons why you need one

Responsive websites: 6 clear reasons why you need one

It is easy to be cynical. After all every single technology trend is presented by one brand of techie as ‘absolutely essential’ and dismissed by others in various ways. The poor old business decision maker, marketing director or communications manager, who more often than not does not have a technical background, is left wondering who and what to believe. Listening to technicians is sometimes like listening to preachers of rival faiths – this is after all an industry that routinely puts the term ‘evangelist’ on the business cards of technical marketing staff.

I always remember two particular technicians pontificating. One telling us that Windows would never catch on because it wouldn’t work with database technology and another opining that websites should not have visuals and that website design was a matter for technicans who understood website design. Not him then!

It’s not about Technology

So let’s get a few things straight at the outset.

The web is not really about technology anymore. Sure, technical trends matter, new techniques and gizmos will always come around, but the web is a communication channel, a store or various kinds of hangout. It is that, not the technology, that really matters to you and your customers.

Neither is the web so much about computers as it used to be – at least not the ones that sit on your desk at work wired to a network. The web is about all sorts of devices and the web can pop-up on all sorts of places and screens. The most prevalent and what has changed the world is the use of smartphones and tablet computers across fast broadband and wi-fi.

80% of the world’s population have a mobile phone and one in five have a smart phone, in the UK there are at least 25 million smartphones and, according to US consultancy IDC, 87% of connected devices will be smartphones or tablets by 2017. PC sales have slowed – they will be around for a long time, but they just aren’t the way we browse the web anymore.

So what is a responsive website?

For the purposes of this discussion it’s a site that responds to the device on which it is being displayed and adjusts its presentation accordingly so that it is;

Readable – so not just a miniature version of the site for a PC browser, but appearing at the right sizes for a phone or table screen.

Looks right – the site’s layout is adapted, navigation is moved around so that it is logical and images are automatically resized to fit the screen and it all looks like it was meant to be there.

Usable – the site takes advantage of the features of the device on which it appears – such as working along with the common iOS features of Apple devices while panning, scrolling, pinching and pulling is eliminated or limited.

That’s it basically, the rest is technical detail. RWD (responsive web design) is one route, not the only route, to solving the problem of multiple devices. There are other ways to do it – specific mobile website design that draws from the same data and some may be right in some circumstances. There is also the ‘app’ based route:  the idea that conventional web is much less suited to mobile devices. You pay your money and take your choice, your customers/viewers fundamentally don’t care.

The big advantage of RWD is that it is a single piece of coding for a single website with a single url (address) that just appears – more elegant, more cost effective, more adaptable to new screen sizes and more cost effective. Simples.

Why does any of this really matter to your business?

Well it isn’t just about devices, it’s about patterns of use. Not only do people now browse the web on different devices, they use it in different places. According to Neilsen only one in five UK smartphone users say they never use their phone while watching TV while more than 60% do so regularly – and more than half of them every day.

Online shopping has also shifted radically toward the table and phone with 41% growth of tablet-based shopping in the past year according to research by Rakuten – who among other things own Play.com along with steady growth in overall m-commerce.

Putting these trends together with what we know of online behaviour reveals the importance of designs that work across a range of devices. Since its emergence the online store has evolved toward a familiar and consistent format defined by the big players and adopted widely. In other words we ‘expect’ an online store to behave in a particular way just as retail experts will explain that we have expectations of the way a physical store is laid out, or what the experience involves. When it is different it is a barrier to those unfamiliar. The same rules apply to the web, only more so.

That means when a site appears on a mobile device we want it to behave as a site would on a PC browser AND to be consistent with the features of the phone.

All over this means that, however the techies choose to debate the technology there are six clear reasons why a responsive website is an absolute must have.

1. Mobile is the future and the now

Mobile accounts for more users more of the time and more searches (20% of all Google searches and more than half of local searches). One in four emails gets opened on a phone. If you can’t be seen properly on a mobile device you are already behind the curve.

2. Social media and blogs generate mobile visits

More than half the reading of social media, where links promote mobile-readable blogs happen through mobile devices. Links from blogs and social media to your website are less effective if the website can’t be seen properly.

3. A site that responds quickly is (still) essential

It was always true – if you have to wait your too late. People aren’t just lazy they are impatient and will just not wait around for your site, so optimising for mobile devices matters.

4. SEO is better with a single address

Google prefers sites with a single address over separate mobile sites. They have said so and if you think about how search engines actually do their thing it’s common sense.

5. Fulfil user expectations or else

Responsive sites deliver a familiar experience. If a user doesn’t get or can’t find what they want they will take their custom elsewhere. That means how it looks, how it feels and how the store behaves. Google say unless the experience is what people want there is a more than 60% chance users will leave immediately.

6. The site is more likely to work on future devices

You would be right to be cynical about ‘future proofing’ – it doesn’t really exist in technology. But some things are more future proofed than others. Because RWD ‘responds’ to the size of the screen rather than the type of device it is more likely to look right when a new screen size comes along on a new device. It’s not a guarantee – but the technology of RWD lends itself to relatively easy adaptation if necessary.

So choosing a responsive design is about the need to respond to how people view the web now and how they will do so in the future. It affects your choice of CMS, the design of your site and how you think about the audience.

Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments
Questions you MUST Ask when choosing a Content Management System (CMS)

Questions you MUST Ask when choosing a Content Management System (CMS)

Content Management Systems have changed spectacularly over the years. What was once a high-end luxury is now available widely and is used on low budget websites. There are now thousands of CMS solutions on the market. Some are out of the box commercial solutions but many more are available as Open Source CMS software. They do many of the same things in slightly different ways and the possibilities are almost endless.

Nonetheless many of the issues around choosing a CMS remain as they ever were. Even though the initial sums of money involved may be significantly less than they once were the significance of the decision should not be underestimated. These are some of the things you should be thinking about when you choose a CMS.

Does the CMS help meet your business goals?

Is your business operating online? If not now will your business be operating online in the near future? What contribution to the business is expected or intended to be generated through the website or is the web likely to remain simply an overhead – a virtual hole into which you pour real money? Will you website be a local, national or international presence for your organisation and will it operate in one or several languages? Will we be operating intranet and extranet sites from the same platform as the main website? Where does the web presence mesh with back-end solutions like Customer Relationship Management, accounts stick control (inventory) and billing?

Questions like these should dominate the thinking before you start to consider the features of your next CMS. It is not just about where you are today, CMS decisions tend to be long term – so it is about what your website will mean to your business over the foreseeable future?

What is the total cost of ownership?

Open Source software is the preferred choice of many organisations as a matter of policy, in particular in the UK Government and third sectors. Like most one size fits all policies this approach is a little one dimensional, not least because it is predicated upon the ‘FREE’ licence that Open Source software offers. What it fails to consider is the total cost of ownership – so whatever the policy may be it is important to consider what will be necessary to ensure the operation of the site.

At the very least you will want to think about:

  • The cost of website design
  • The cost of programming and implementing the initial solution.
  • The cost of plug-ins, add-ons and third party components required
  • The hosting arrangements and other necessary infrastructure
  • The requirement for support and its likely cost including the cost of upgrading
  • The cost of developing the initial solution and of future changes to the system
    (such as look-and-feel refreshes, how frequent they will need to be)
  • The call of the system on internal resources
  • The initial and on-going costs of training

It is always worth reminding oneself that there is no such thing as ‘free’ – everything costs something, somehow, somewhere.

What does the future of our website look like?

We’re not talking about colours and fonts here! You wouldn’t dream of developing your corporate IT without a strategy, you wouldn’t run your marketing or communications without strategies in place, so why on earth wouldn’t you have a clearly defined strategy for your website? If you do, then does the potential CMS mesh with that strategy? If you don’t then it’s time to get a strategy!

Does the CMS enable or limit the possibilities for eCommerce, digital and inbound marketing?

This is potentially complex and could have major implications for your strategy. The landscape of online business and marketing is changing. The nature of web content and its relation to search engines, sharing through social networks and the move toward mobile devices are on the face of it technical changes but more significant is the way they have altered and will continue to alter online consumer behaviour. People search, compare, recommend, discuss and review their purchases as never before. Both on-line reputation and the ability to be found matter increasingly. This change in behaviour is driving business toward ‘Inbound Marketing’ – capturing interest and building relationships with prospects and customers through you site by deploying and sharing engaging, useful content. This new frontier will be adopted by more and more firms andnot-for-profit businesses in the years ahead – whether the CMS will assist this process or make life more difficult is a factor to consider. The arguments are set out in an interesting polemic on how the marketing leading CMS WordPress shapes up (or doesn’t). WordPress evolved from the blogging world – which gave it some massive advantages as well as low initial cost as Open Source software. Whether it offers a future route for inbound marketing remains to be seem. At the very least this aspect of your next CMS is well worth considering.

How are we going to support the site?

Once you have established a web strategy you are in a better position to determine the support overhead that a CMS site will carry. The number of users and the level of control over their access and publications rights will be important as will the degree of central intervention over publication. The balance between in-house and specialist out of house support will depend upon the nature of your IT arrangements as well as the capacity and technical abilities of the in-house support desk. The cost of external support will depend upon the requirement for time/incidents and also the competitiveness of the market. Balance this against the availability of support for licenced solutions that carry a commercial fee. And watch the small print – if your contract is merely user support and you’re not covered for preventative maintenance and upgrading you could be in for some nasty surprises.

What is my level of dependency on the initial vendor?

Like so many areas of technology the wrong choices over a CMS solution can leave you dependent upon a single company. Even worse, you could be at the mercy of an individual freelancer who, feudal servitude having been inconveniently abolished by the time of the 3.5 inch floppy disk, may well disappear on a whim for an extended motorbike tour of Bolivia. Market leading software will normally carry with it a developed and competitive after market. This is certainly the case with both the Open Source and leaving commercial CMS solutions. However research suggests that bespoke or ‘home grown’ CMS solutions exist in as many as a third of CMS installations. Such approaches may offer initial advantages in functionality but can prove both unadaptable and unsupportable over the medium term.

The right CMS is a big decision. There is no magic bullet, but asking the right questions is a good start.Independent advice and web strategy development, as provided by Public Impact, can deliver a better decision and better value.

Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments
7 More Excuses for Postponing Inbound Marketing

7 More Excuses for Postponing Inbound Marketing

There are always a lot more reasons put forward for not doing something than for getting on with it. It may be an urban myth but the people who came up with the idea of organising climbs over the Harbour Bridge at Sydney, New South Wales were faced with one excuse after another from the City of Sydney and North Sydney Councils till they asked for all the reasons they could possibly think of for not allowing the climbs. They gradually knocked them away one-by-one till there was no good reason left for not going ahead. The Bridge Climb is now a major tourist attraction that pays for the routine maintenance of the Harbour Bridge.

Is Inbound Marketing your Harbour Bridge Climb? In our last blog we looked at seven typical excuses that hold up inbound marketing in not-for-profit.

 “Our Trustees Won’t Spend Money on Technology”

The web long since stopped being about technology. It is really about content and information underpinning promotion and awareness raising. However the same instinct remains with many trustees and board members – we should only spend on the mission, rather than the overheads. However that didn’t stop organisation printing leaflets, or brochures or appeal envelopes or producing tins to shake. The web is now the come of many other things. Marketing software and web integration is certainly an investment and needs a business case – and in an ideal world that case would be funded entirely from purpose developed grant aid. Consider using an external resource to help you build the case and the funding appeal so that 100% of donations ARE spent on the mission.

“People Won’t Fill in Forms”

They certainly won’t if they want information that they believe is more valuable to you than to them – like you Annual Report or Case Studies that tell the story of how you help. All sorts of people willingly provide information in return for something of value that you can provide. You demonstrate that value by providing useful information within your online content. Sharing the right information is important. Adding forms and landing pages to your site quickly proves this thinking wrong.

“We’ll end up asking too often by email”

It’s true that if you only bombard your contacts with donation appeals they will get tired and unsubscribe quickly – and that would be a shame. So don’t! You need the right combination of content and useful information that educates, enlightens and enthuses your audience mixed with a ‘soft-sell’ of information on how to donate and what it will enable you to do. The donate button might always be present somewhere – but readers will forgive that if it isn’t always the main purpose of the mailing.

“We concentrate on one or two annual appeals”

It really isn’t a question of one or the other. As not-for-profit moves toward events that are ‘moments’ in the virtual world, such as Movember, the importance of social networks, content strategies and inbound marketing to support appeals makes more and more sense. Try thinking about how content and inbound activity can support and enhance the build up to an annual event.

“We don’t have time to create new content”

Perhaps not. Activity expands to fill the time available and those of us who have worked in not-for-profit know that staff don’t spend their time sitting round with nothing to do. There’s even pressure on our time to think. But take a step back for a moment. Think about the content that you already have – on your current site, in newsletters, in magazines, in reports and studies, in the output of government departments or of the European Union. The fact is there is more content out there than you realise. The think a little about the news agenda – anniversaries are always a good start. Pretty soon you have the outline of an editorial plan just based on re-using what is there already.

“Our audience is not on Facebook”

Perhaps not – but maybe it is on Instagram, or LinkedIn or Twitter or watching YouTube. The fact is it is out there somewhere and only by asking your supporters and a little worthwhile trial and error will you know what’s best. Focus on the social networks that produce the most traction. Remember that social networks grow and change constantly. Ruling these channels out would be a big mistake.

“We’re Just Not Ready”

Nobody is ever ready but everyone kind of is! This is the most common excuse of the lot. You almost certainly have some of the essentials and in a technical sense being ready is easy – you have a website, a social network account and you know how to send an email. You have people too, so you are more ready than you think and you can get going but to do it well you do need to prepare a little then commit. You’ll need to optimise your website, you’ll need quality content, you’ll need to mug up on how emails can work and you need to understand the value of blogging in not-for-profit, easy ways to write better not-for-profit blogs and plan an editorial schedule. Most of all you need to know what you want to achieve and how you are going to execute you goals – an inbound marketing strategy. Assessing the readiness of your organisation is another key use for the skills of an external consultant who can set out a road map toward a fully functioning inbound strategy.

Posted by John Howarth in Creative & Content, Not for Profit, Web & Digital, 0 comments
7 excuses for postponing inbound marketing

7 excuses for postponing inbound marketing

Let’s start with six of the most dangerous words in the English language: ‘we’ve always done it this way’. Inbound Marketing in not-for-profit is a relatively new way of doing things. Like any new approach it requires change, but the biggest change is a change of mindset. Not-for-profit organisations, charities and NGOs can be among the most innovative advertisers and inventive marketers but just like private sector companies they can also find numerous excuses to put off change to another day.The excuses that we hear in our work, professional and personal, in the UK third sector are pretty typical reasons never to change that can be applied with a few changes to any situation. The danger is that by failing to grasp the nettle of shifting marketing efforts to the integrated digital approach know as inbound marketing good causes run the risk of having to play catch up in an unforgiving world.

1. “Our Trustees Don’t Understand Inbound Marketing”

This is probably right, they almost don’t get it as things stand. But there was a time when they didn’t get the notion of a website, or an email system or even having a computer in the office. However, it is essential for any charity, but particularly smaller charities and ‘not-for-profit SMEs’ that the Trustees learn how you can use inbound marketing to win supporters, members and donors. You also need Trustees to buy in to any move to inbound marketing. That means educating the board. Workshop approaches using external expertise can help broaden understanding and build the business case based on the excellent ROI from Inbound Marketing for not-for-profit organisations.

2. “Our target audience is older and not online”

Says who? It is a dangerous myth that needs to be dismissed. Research in both the UK and USA shows that not only are the target age groups of most charities and not-for-profits online, they are increasingly using mobile devices and talking to their friends on social networks. The perception is just plain wrong – most target audiences are reachable online. Think about who your customer really is. Look at the research, work out where they live online.

3. “Direct mail works for us – so we focus on that”

First of all postal direct mail is far more expensive than it once was. Second, it depends what you mean by ‘works’. Returns from postal direct mail appeals above 1% were considered stella in the days when direct mail was the main route to market for many NGOs and evidence suggests that not much has changed. Even a highly targeted list amounts to a scatter gun approach. Though first impressions might suggest otherwisesocial networks can offer a much more targetted approach. By contrast inbound marketing enables engagement by those who are interested in the work of your organisation. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that those with an interest are more likely to become active supporters or contributors. Take some of that direct mail budget, say half, and apply it consistently to direct marketing then assess the return on investment.

4. “Our priority is raising awareness”

And … inbound marketing in not-for-profit is an excellent method of doing just that, indeed it is central to the whole idea of inbound marketing. Your potential supporters are out there online looking for information about the cause you advocate. If they don’t find you they will find someone else. New and useful content – blogs, infographics, vlogs and trusted information pages – all helps online searchers find your information. It’s also cost effective.

5. “We are too busy to sort out our website”

Research by Public Impact has revealed that many third sector bodies have websites that are out-of-date, out-of-order or which are unable to work effectively on mobile devices. Remember those shops where the window display never changes – those ones where you don’t feel inclined to go inside until one day they aren’t there any longer? By neglecting your web presence you are neglecting the shop window of the organisation. So why doesn’t the website get priority? Often this is because the website has been seen as a cost – something that doesn’t or can’t wash its face. Inbound marketing turns your website into a machine for generating new prospects – so think about the content of your site and what your home page says about your organisation. Does it look like the sort of place you want to invest your money.

6. “We’ve had a blog and we just can’t find enough stories”

This is certainly an issue with which many people have problems. Those problems are largely questions of organisation and, once again, turning the thinking of the organisation outward. First of all there are many thousands of stories just waiting to be told in the third sector – many more so than in commercial organisations. Those stories; successes, needs, the implementation of projects, the production of positive outcomes, are inspiring and engaging. They are entirely appropriate content which most not-for-profits neglect. Content production can be learned with appropriate training or it can be bought in but think about what you have already first and how it can help tell your story.


7. “Inbound marketing is not part of our strategic plan”

Perhaps not right now, but the products of inbound marketing certainly are: new members, more donors, active supporters, improved awareness and there is a budget in the plan for developing these areas. In any case, plans are revised – as part of the plan. It they are not then they should be as a strategy, to be successful, must be a constantly evolving document. Prepare a plan for inbound marketing that meshes with your strategic plan that contributes to the goals of the plan and helps deliver those objectives.

That’s enough excuses for now – but there are more in the next blog on inbound marketing in not-for-profit!

Posted by John Howarth in Creative & Content, Not for Profit, Web & Digital, 0 comments
5 Tips BEFORE you start a not-for-profit website project

5 Tips BEFORE you start a not-for-profit website project

More than ever, not for profit and charity organisations are looking to get good value for money when commissioning digital services like website design and web content. Public Impact thinks creatively about how client and agency can work together to deliver better web design, more effective websites and deliver measurable return on investment.

Before you start stop and think about what you are trying to achieve. These are our top five tips.

1. Prioritise the biggest challenge

NGO’s and other third sector bodies do lots of different things: advocacy, fundraising, providing services, giving information – you name it. Focussing on the elements that can have the biggest impact online is the key to using the web to maximum effect.

When funds are limited it is important to demonstrate the effectiveness of the website. To demonstrate a valuable return on investment it pays to do the most important thing really well – so prioritise. In doing so remember it is the visitors to the site, not necessarily your own staff who are the most important people to consider. Once you have shown that you can save money, improve donations, retain members more effectively then you’ll be able to justify other areas of work.

So start by looking at your current web stats to get a good idea of where your visitors are heading then consider a full external audit of your site

2. Know your audience

You need to be on receive. Most organisations can tell you something about their audience – their supporters, customers, donors and members. But just because your audience had particular views and profiles that doesn’t mean they will always be the same. The online world changes rapidly and a deeper engagement with your visitors will pay dividends and the insights you gain from audience research will help you to create an effective website and avoid some costly mistakes.

The most effective research will be quick and easy for the user and highly informative for you. It doesn’t need to be expensive but you will almost certainly benefit from professional help.

Your research should give you a series of profiles. It’s good to phrase these as fictional characters with personalities and character traits. These ‘personas’ give a human face to your audience abstract and help you communicate within the organisation with whom your site is seeking to communicate.

3. Too many bells and whistles are just noise

There are some excellent, freely available technical solutions out there to meet the needs of your users. It is easy to get carried away and employ too many. Remember your priorities. Identify the function that will be most useful to most people – perhaps it’s finding the nearest service to them, perhaps it is about the availability of a course of a facilitator. Make sure it is something that adds value to your site rather than detracting by producing useless or incomprehensible information.

4. Go open source

Open Source software (freely licenced in the public domain) can deliver quality and cost-effective solutions. If an agency isn’t offering you an open source solution, at least as an option, find someone who will. There are large supporting markets in Open Source web tools which mean you are not hostage to proprietary systems or rising upgrade licence fees.

There are many easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS) and their adoption by in-house teams can be smooth. But the right choice for your organisation is important – that depends on the nature of your site, your web traffic and your objectives. Make sure you get the right advice about the right Open Source tools for the job to rule out avoidable and expensive mistakes later


5. Get to know internal stakeholders

The biggest risk to a project running to time and on budget is often the failure to ensure that internal stakeholders are onside.

Understanding this right at the beginning produces results at the business end of the project. To dispense with the stage of project planning that achieves stakeholder buy-in, including at the most senior level is a false economy. When a genuine consensus is achieved on a project it makes a massive difference to the likely success.

Workshop engagement sessions for internal stakeholders at the start of the project are a proven method of delivering the inclusive leadership without which success is all the harder to achieve.

Posted by John Howarth in Not for Profit, Web & Digital, 0 comments
Promoting brands on Facebook

Promoting brands on Facebook

David Fincher’s excellent movie, ‘The Social Network’, tells the tale of how Facebook was something of an accidental business the possibilities of which only became apparent after its creation. While its use as a business platform is now well developed it, and its audiences, continue to evolve and many businesses are still new to the platform. These are some of the things to consider for those new to the notion of promoting brands on Facebook.

Social networking profiles represent people. From your Facebook profile, you declare personal relationships, grow your network by accepting friend requests, and other people in your network to add as friends. Your Facebook profile includes facts about you, what schools you went to, and your favourite quotes etc.

Your brand isn’t a person. You can’t friend a brand, and it certainly can’t friend you back. Brands don’t havefriends. Brands have fans. Fans have discussions about your brands, share news about them, and share information about your brands with others.

Facebook: The Favourite Social Network of Businesses’

A 2013 Business.com study of 3,000 businesses showed that 83% of respondents named Facebook as their favourite social network to engage with customers. As the network continues to evolve businesses become ever more adept at not only deciding if Facebook is right for their brands but also how best to use it.

However, marketing on Facebook hasn’t always been so easy for brands. When Facebook first began to catch on with businesses, it experienced a gold rush of brands who joined solely to do social media marketing. Just like nearly every other social network, the relationship between people and brands got a little messy. Remember, people you’re trying to reach have probably been using Facebook more often and for longer than you have. Unless your approach is pitch perfect you may end up doing more harm than good.

Profiles are for People. At this point in Facebook’s community’s development, you do not want to keep a profile if you are a brand. Keeping a brand profile is a surefire way to come across as totally out-of-touch. And worse, even if you were to pull off a successful corporate profile, Facebook has been known to suspend profiles for “too much marketing activity.”

Groups are for People. Groups really aren’t suitable for a serious marketing effort. They originally were created as a place for like-minded people to communicate outside of their immediate network and never were intended for brand use. There is very little time and energy required to make one and consequently, users do not value them as much as pages.

Pages are for Brands. After setting up a page for your brand on Facebook, use applications to pull in content from your blog and Twitter account (you do have those too right?) to keep your page full of fresh, frequently updated information. Resist the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Include some offers, media or conversation on Facebook that does not appear anywhere else. Retail brands are especially talented at this.

Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments
Secrets of Powerful Email Subject Lines

Secrets of Powerful Email Subject Lines

Email marketing is a powerful element of a marketing mix that combines digitial marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing and traditional techniques. Subject lines can make or break your campaign.

We all receive emails daily, sometimes hundreds, how will they notice yours? Will they actually open it and see what you have to say?

So you need to grab the attention of your contacts through your email subject lines. Checkout the secret ingredients we’ve uncovered to help you craft powerful email subject lines.

Develop Email Subject Lines with Four Principles:

  1. Keep it short and sweet

You’re not writing a book! Think newspaper headline. There is no reason for your title to be anywhere over 100 characters. A rule of thumb is 50 characters or fewer. Try for six words if you can.

If the title is too long, your contact won’t be able to see the entire title. Therefore, they won’t have any clue what your email is about.

A good concept to keep in mind is that the shorter your subject, the more your mail is likely to be read. Your contacts are receiving so many emails, they don’t have time to read them all. With a longer subject they might go right past your mail.

With the increasing number of people accessing their email on their smart phones and mobile devices these days, you might want to consider shortening the characters in your email subject line to as few as 20, so your subject will display properly.

2. Make it a Call to Action

Are you telling your contacts what they can do once they get to your mail? Think of your subject line as a call to action. Use verbs that grab the attention of your contacts, as well as telling them what they will expect once they land on the content.

A few suggestions on keywords for your subject line:

  • Download
  • Save
  • Meet
  • Register

3. Make it Personal

Personalisation is one of the easiest ways to provide your contacts with some sense of value. No one likes to be addressed as, Hi Loyal Customer. You should always know something about your contacts, even if it is just their name.

You should also format your email subject lines to reflect an offer or something that your contacts will want. A great way to develop personalised email content is through list segmentation. You don’t want to send your contacts an offer that they’ve already downloaded or something that does not interest them, therefore, it is important to know what offers and pages your contacts are downloading and viewing.

How to personalise:

  • Add name to subject
  • Provide something that interests that contact

4. Maintain Consistency Between Subject and Content

How many times have your opened a mail and it had nothing to do with what has highlighted within the subject? Probably once or twice. This could be the answer to why none of your contacts are actually clicking on the offers or call to actions inside.

If you take anything away from this article let it be this piece of advice, keep your content and subject consistent. What your subject promises should also correspond with what is delivered within your mail.

Still need some help?

Consider using the four ‘u’s’ approach when writing.

Subject lines should be:

  • Useful – is the promised message valuable to the reader?
  • Ultra-Specific – does the reader know what’s being promised?
  • Unique – is the promised message compelling and remarkable?
  • Urgent – does the contact feel the need to read?

To make sure you are getting the full benefit and return on your investment contact or call Public Impact, with our experience in creation of content your mails will be read.

Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments
What is SEO Marketing anyway?

What is SEO Marketing anyway?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is all about promoting a website with the combination of techniques that make it likely to be found easily and listed by search engines such as Google and Bing.

There are a lot of different aspects to SEO marketing and different actions that help a site be found. Some are about the structure of your site, some are about the content of your site. It can all sound rather like voodoo at first – but it really isn’t. Improving a site’s performance in search engine listings through SEO isn’t a quick fix. It requires patience and application, but it is worth persisting as the results will certainly help your business.

When we are designing websites we are often asked questions on SEO. These are the most common.

Does our website need SEO?

Without some SEO it is unlikely many people searching the web will find your business, other than those who already know your name, that is. Of course you might get lucky, but for most business that probably isn’t enough.

Traffic on the web is mainly driven by the big search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo – the ones you have heard of. Most web users will search for the product or service they want, rather than your business name. So traffic generated for your website by search engines in this way provides targeted traffic. Optimising your site for search engines means having the right content to be found in these searches, otherwise the traffic goes to your competitors.

Most research and a lot of bitter experience shows that search engine generated traffic will be a key component in achieving growth and business objectives. Generating more website visitors who are actually looking for what you offer enables you gain exposure, brand awareness, referals and publicity. It is crucial to the emerging techniques of both content marketing and inbound marketing. So putting time and money into SEO can generate spectacular rates of return on investment when set against other forms of marketing and advertising.

Do you need it – we would say so!

So search engines can’t find my site without SEO?

There are millions of sites on the web, your competitors are there, your partners are there and so are many of your customers.

The right SEO and the right content can mean you are found easily and on the appropriate searches. With SEO that’s not appropriate getting found can be very difficult indeed – readers will rarely look past the first two pages of search engine listings.

By making your content available to search engines in the right way you can generate thousands more visits and gain a business advantage

Can we do the SEO ourselves?

Most people understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation – even if they don’t know it. You understand because you search yourself and that knowledge alone can make a difference if you apply it.

It all depends on the time you have – though you can start by ensuring that your content has the terms that you would search for within its text. Content is more and more important to search engines, in particular Google, which accounts for the largest share of the market. Google regularly updates its search methods to weed out many of the trick that were used to push sites up the listing in the recent past. If you are rebuilding your website plan for easily managed and deployed content including blogging which will help push you up the listings along with the use of social media.

If you are willing to learn then there is no reason you can’t fix your own SEO but like everything else your own time is money and it could pay to get in a consultant who can already has the knowledge and doesn’t need the learning curve. It might be that a highly focussed specialist is what you need but it is more likely that if you need to fix your SEO you also need to look at your overall website strategy to determine exactly what role in your sales and marketing you want your website to play in the future. A digital audit will establish the baseline from which you are starting and will act as a kick start to your thinking.

Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments
10 design tips for websites

10 design tips for websites

Do you have a cluttered clunky website driving away prospective customers? How can you make your site an enticing place?

Here are our tips for improving 10 key aspects of designing websites.

10 Website Design Tips to Follow

  1. Navigation – Put some real thought into site layout, so customers can navigate it easily. Make sure all important sections are prominently listed. Link as many pages as you can into the main navigation bar, instead of having subpages from pages.
  2. Branding – Incorporate memorable elements of your brand into your website, such as your logo and company colour scheme. Make your logo prominent on your home page and put it on all subsequent pages to promote your brand.
  3. Home page – Visitors should be able to tell immediately what your site is about. Any call to action should be visually prominent on the page.
  4. Content – If your primary business is offline, just present enough clear, concise information to get customers to call or email. If you sell your products or services online, provide complete information to give customers the confidence to click and buy. Don’t put too much content on any one page, as Internet readers don’t like to scroll down.
  5. Refresh content – Changing content draws customers back. One easy way to renew your content without a lot of code changes is by starting a blog.
  6. Think SEO – Always bear search engine optimization (SEO) in mind as you design. Photos and splashy graphics may look nice, but likely won’t be read by search engines. One fix: have a text link that says “View portfolio” instead of a graphical button. The text will be more easily read by search engines.
  7. Colours – Use complementary colours that make your text easily readable. Clashing colours such as red text on a blue background make text too hard to read and turn off visitors.
  8. Be accessible – Make sure your contact information or a prominent link to it is at the top or bottom of every page of your site.
  9. Sound good – Music that starts playing automatically when your site loads is an automatic turnoff for many visitors. If you have sound, make sure it’s pleasant and easily disabled.
  10. External links – Links that take visitors away from your site should always load in a new window. Make sure your site stays in front of the customer, even as you provide them with additional resources.
Posted by John Howarth in Web & Digital, 0 comments