WordPress + Email Marketing = a powerful combination

As part of our ongoing focus on email marketing, I thought it worth devoting a post to WordPress. Why you may ask, what has WordPress got to do with email marketing? The answer is simple: A successful email marketing campaign relies on a steady flow of good content, and WordPress is a great tool for incorporating that content into your website. WordPress started life as a blogging tool, but has now built into a sophisticated content management system, though which users can build a complete website, or integrate WordPress functionality seemlessly into an existing site. WordPress is now incredibly powerful and offers a host of add-ons (Plug-ins in wordpress-speak) which means complex functionality can be added quickly and easily as and when you need it. Here are a few of examples where we have added a WordPress blog to an existing website:

All these sites use WordPress to deliver the news sections of their sites whilst the main site is created outside wordpress. The benefit is that using WordPress, news items can be easily added to the site with no knowledge of web design or HTML coding. From an email marketing perspective, this then means that this blog content can be quickly and easily added. You can then create an email which uses extracts or ‘teasers’ from your blog posts to link through to the full content on your website. This has 2 benefits:

  1. You can keep your email short and pithy.
  2. You can track where people click through to the main content so see what subject generate more interest.

For more information about adding a WordPress blog to your site – or developing an entire site in WordPress – giving access to a host of functionality from video galleries and security through to e-commerce and on-line shopping – give us a call on 01457 851111 or get in touch here

Keeping in touch with clients delivers regular enquiries and business

The Company A specialist consultancy providing a broad range of quality and business systems consultancy, including appropriate staff training and team building. Key markets include the Health Service, Education and the Private Sector. The Problem As a small company, existing projects meant it was proving difficult to find time to devote to new business development. Consequently, as projects ended, there was limited new work to fill the gap until new opportunities could be developed. This cycle of feast and famine was less than ideal so a solution was required. The Solution With limited budget, BSA Marketing recommended email as a cost-effective communication tool. A marketing review of the company’s past activities indicated that credibility and experience were important elements of their offering. This suggested that simply emailing cold to an unqualified list was unlikely to yield useful response. However, we also identified that there had been little or no communication with past clients and contacts – all of whom had experience of the company and their capabilities. BSA Marketing recommended targeting these past contacts – even though the initial list was less than 100 organisations. The Benefits The initial campaign produced quality enquiries and business and the relationship with BSA continues to develop. The target list has continued to grow with new contact and has now reached around 220 contacts. The company continues to work with BSA undertaking 3-4 email campaigns each year.

Sean Curtis – Specialist Event Entertainer

“I would like to thank BSA Marketing for all their help and time with getting my website to the top of the pile on the Google. Now my clients can find me and my business has moved forward and is much better than it was. I have worked with BSA Marketing since 2007 and they are always willing to help and always find time to sort out any problems. I must say they are very good at what they do and they ‘do what it says on the tin’. If you need a genuine business that will do what they say then look no further than BSA Marketing.”

QR Codes, a great way to link your online and offline marketing

Question What are those strange black and white squares that seem to be cropping up everywhere? Answer QR Codes… By including a QR code on your leaflets, brochures, posters etc. you can give your customers easy, instant access to your website and other online marketing. QR codes were invented in  the mid 90’s, and were initially intended for use in logistics to track packages through the supply chain, but they took a foothold in the marketing arena in Japan where they are now heavily used. Put simply, they are 2 dimensional (2D) bar codes, (as opposed to the normal 1 dimensional codes we see on pretty much every package), that when scanned by a Smartphone, will direct the user to some online content or perform an action like sending an email or SMS. Though do remember users are likely to be viewing your content on a phone so make sure it works on a small screen. See our post here for more info on this How do I create them Although there are some companies who will charge a small fortune for creating print ready QR codes, they are in fact very simple to create and can be produced using an online tool like qrcode.kaywa.com a service that is free and very simple to use. All you do is tell it what content you would like the code to point to, select a size and hit generate. The system will then create a code that you can save as an image. How big should it be? The rule of thumb is that for every 1m away that the scanner will be from the code, the code should be 10cm square. ie, a code 40cmx40cm should be scannable from around 4m! Fortunately, because they are simple black and white images, you can safely scale them up using any graphics package, without loosing any quality. The Fun Stuff QR codes in their native form are pretty dull, but because they have  a lot of redundancy built into them, you can remove or alter up to 30% of the dots, and they will still work. Designers have used this feature to create some pretty funky codes. You will find a few of these here. Our advice would be though that if you want to do anything but the most basic customisation, then it would be best to use a specialist designer who knows what they are doing. And in any case, TEST YOUR CODE before you use it. The Important Stuff Yes QR codes are new to the UK marketing scene, but should you be using them? The answer is, as always, “It depends”. The question is, do they add anything to your campaign from a marketing perspective? If they do, then use them, but if not, then don’t! There is no doubt that QR codes can add a really effective link between on-line and off-line elements of a campaign, and can be a great tool for driving people to your website from printed materials like PR and adverts. We have two good examples of this in a recent campaign we have been running in connection with the Bankswoodberry Music festival.

  • QR codes on a promotional banner The BSA banner, that we will be using at the festival, has 2 QR codes, one that links through to this blog, and a second that will send an enquiry email. This gives a simple way for interested parties to interact with the banner and obtain a copy of our contact details.
  • QR codes to request additional info about the Festival PR concerning the festival contains a QR code, that when scanned will send an email to the users phone containing details of the bands playing over the weekend of the festival.In addition, lineup posters at the event will contain the same QR code to save people having to note down times of bands manually.In both cases scans are tracked to aid the measurement and assessment of the campaigns effectiveness.

Bye Bye 0845

You may notice that we have recently ditched our 0845 number in favour of a geographic 01457 number (01457 851111). The reason for the change is primarily that 0845 numbers are increasingly being perceived as premium rate and are charged outside bundled minutes when called from a mobile. For this reason we believe that they have had their day, and thus have taken the decision to stop using them. Although there are new non geographic numbers (eg 0844…) that are included in mobile bundles, we believe that the confusion over what is and isn’t a  premium rate number means that for the time being, their benefit from a marketing perspective is less than clear. Our New Numbers are: 01457 851111 – Replaces 0845 050 1023 as our main number 01457 851112 – Replaces 0845 050 1262 as our fax number If you too are getting tired of 08…. numbers, you might find this site useful:

www.saynoto0870.com

The site lists the standard geographic number alternatives to the 08…. numbers for many bigger companies.

 

Bankswoodberry Music Festival

In these days of instant fame and the X factor, it is easy to forget that there are some FANTASTIC musicians & performers building a reputation the old fashioned way in pubs & clubs. That’s why we  are delighted to be involved with this great music festival, one that aims to give a stage to these artists, and to deliver a grass roots festival that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves music. Bankswoodberry 2011 is taking place this weekend 20th/21st August. I am sure that it will be the great success that it deserved to be. Find out more at www.bankswoodberry.com  

When planning an email campaign… Don’t forget the mobile.

Ever since the advent of email as a marketing tool, and the use of HTML to include images, logos and layout, it has been an issue that the many different email clients – from Outlook and Mac Mail to Hotmail and Gmail – render (display) your carefully designed message differently with sometimes drastic consequences as you can see in the images below.

How the email appears in Gmail
How the email appears in Gmail
Email with intended format
How it was meant to appear

With the growth in smartphone usage, and the explosion in the use of mobile email this issue just got even more complex!   The good news is that with the advent of the iPhone, Android and big improvements from Palm and RIM, it’s becoming less important to think of mobile as a different email platform altogether, and if you follow the basic rules for ensuring that the email works on all desktop email clients, then it should be fine when viewed on a smartphone. There are however still a number of design issues that need to be considered when optimising email for viewing on a mobile device:

  1. Keep the width to less than 600 pixels. Although we have always recommended 600px as an optimal width for email, the width issue is even more important now as mobile devices have small screens. However, they are also fairly intelligent, and so although some may have screens below 600px, they do in fact render the email fine at this width, just be sure to make the text big enough.
  2. Use the @media filter  CSS now has provision for and @media query. This allows you to add css specifically for mobile devices as the css contained in it will be ignored by non mobile clients. The query should be placed in the <head> part of the email. Although this section is ignored by some desktop clients it is processed by mobile email clients, and so can be used. Remember though to keep all your main css in-line and just use @ media for the mobile css tweaks.Here is an example of an @media query to give you the idea of the format:@media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .text { font-size: 20px !important; } .headline { font-size: 24px !important; } }The first line is the important one @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px)this ensures that the css is only applied to screens that are smaller than 480px (eg a landscape iPhone). The css is then contained in {} and takes the normal format.Remember to use the !important on key lines as this ensures that it will overwrite any inline css contained in the body of the email.
  3. Don’t forget the text version Over recent years as HTML on desktop email has become the norm, the text version has lost some of its importance. However, not all mobile users will be able to view HTML so don’t forget to include the text version. Most good emailing systems (including BSA Emailworks) will offer a very simple way to do this.
  4. Avoid small text  Small text rapidly becomes unreadable on mobiles, and although most will allow zooming to make the text readable, the impact of the message is greatly reduced. So bear this in mind, and ensure that all key messages and hook lines are in larger text. Note however that this is also good practice for non mobile email.
  5. Use images to get your message across  It is said that a picture paints a thousand words, and this is most definitely true when it comes to mobile email, especially as many mobile email clients (including the iPhone) download images by default.Images can really add impact to mobile emails. If you are using images though don’t forget the Alt tag for when images don’t display.
  6. Optimise the subject line Good subject lines are key to a successful email campaign irrespective of the platform they are being delivered to, but as mobile devises usually don’t have a preview window. The subject is all the recipient will see  until they open the message
  7. Don’t crowd links If you are including links in your email (and I would argue that you should) be sure to space these out across your copy. If links are very close together it makes them difficult to select using the touch screen. As a rule of thumb (excuse the pun) the optimal size for a clickable area on a mobile touch screen is about 44 pixels square)
  8. Think about your landing pages There is no point in optimising your emails for mobile devices if the landing pages that lead off the email are unreadable on the mobile platform (more about the concept of joined-up marketing in the near future). Although it is always a judgement call as to how far to go in the optimisation process, usually based on what proportion of your target market are likely to receive the email on a mobile, this point is always worth considering. If you believe that a significant number will be using mobiles, developing dedicated landing pages optimised for mobile should be a consideration.On this subject, if you are using WordPress to manage your website, the Mobile detector plug-in is a great tool to change the layout of your website based on which device is being used to view it.

As mobile grows, as it is and will surely continue to do, increasingly needs to be considered when planning email campaign, but always remember that for the foreseeable future, there will still be people accessing it on non mobile platforms, so you still need to ensure that the email also works on the various desktop email clients.

The key to managing technology marketing, prioritize!

One of the biggest issues we come across with SME businesses looking to use online marketing is the difficulty many people experience in actively engaging with the technology they are wanting to use i.e. knowing how to make it do what they want! There is no doubt that technology has made things interesting for marketers, and has certainly opened up a whole new set of options, especially for those on a limited budget. But how should we handle the constant barrage of “next big things”. With head counts getting squeezed, it can be a real struggle to keep up in the fast paced world of Internet marketing. With this in mind, I thought this item on the e-consultancy blog might be of interest. http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7843-how-marketing-teams-should-think-about-technology Don’t be put off by references to ‘Marketing Teams’ and £100 million being a small business, the core message applies just the same to you and me.