March 2010 E-Newsletter

In this month’s e-newsletter the main focus is on two important aspects of many businesses’ marketing communications plans – websites and email management. There’s also a simple, no-cost tip you can implement straight away to your improve your communications with customers and potential customers.

Happy reading!

Paul Hurkmans

Brochure-style websites vs content management systems

In the web development world it’s the equivalent of Ali vs Frazier or Holden vs Ford: Which is better for businesses – brochure-style websites or content management systems?

For the uninitiated, in simple terms a brochure-style website is often called a static website and is updated using editing software and knowledge of web hosting. This updating is usually done by the web developer. Content Management System (CMS) websites, on the other hand, are dynamic and can be updated by a business owner or employee. Two popular open-source (freely available) CMS platforms are Joomla! and WordPress.

Some web developers swear by brochure-style websites while others will only develop websites for businesses using a content management system.

For me, the decision on which style of website is best for your business is an individual one. If your business needs a website for web presence and you don’t envisage updating it more often than a few times a year, a brochure-style website is likely to be your best bet. This is even more the case if you have limited computer skills or free time. If you think you’ll be updating your website reasonably regularly and have the skills and time, a content management system may be your best bet.

For more information on the brochure-style vs content management system debate, go to the full story on En Pointe’s website.

Why your business website should be powered by WordPress

If you decide a content management system (CMS) website is the best option for you, the question then is which CMS to choose.

There are literally thousands available, so you can place your trust in a web developer and go on his or her recommendation or you could use what I believe is the best CMS for many businesses – WordPress.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is the number one blogging web development tool on the scene. It’s also a great platform for CMS, even if you have no thought of ever having blogs, posts or articles on your website. There are many benefits to choosing WordPress but in my opinion the key one is ease of use. Anyone with a reasonable level of computer-literacy should pick up WordPress quite quickly. As with any new system there are basics that need to be learned, but most people will be able to learn these basics in a few hours or less. It’s probably comparable to learning Word or Outlook for the first time.

Not all CMS platforms are as easy to learn as WordPress and this, for me, is why WordPress stands out.

Email your way to marketing communications success

If you own or run a business you’ll love free publicity through marketing communications, but many businesses do miss out on free publicity every day simply because they give little or no thought to their email signature.

The email signature is the block of text and possibly an image that is automatically appended to the bottom of an email message. As well as your name, it’s a great place to provide your contact information such as address, phone numbers and email address.

If you already have an email signature that includes this information, give yourself a small pat on the back – you’re already promoting your company in a small but albeit important way. If you don’t already have an email signature, drop everything (after finishing this article!) and create one immediately.

But when you consider you probably send out tens or perhaps hundreds of emails every day, if you only include basic contact information in your email signature you’re still missing out on opportunities.

Go to En Pointe’s website for some ideas on what you could include in your email signature to further promote your business.

The importance of external links… And how to get them!

Links to your websites by other websites are often referred to as external links and, to put it mildly, they are vital for how well your website will rank in search engines such as Google.

In fact, while there are many things you can do to increase your website’s chances of ranking highly in search engines (called search engine optimisation) increasing your external links is probably the most importing single thing. If your website has a significant number of these external links (or more correctly a significant number of quality external links) it’s likely to rank well; if your website has no external links it might not rank at all!

So how do you get more external links, without paying a cent? The most common methods are:

  • Links in directories such as True Local, Google Local Business Centre, Aussie Web and Only Melbourne are a good place to start.
  • Links on article marketing and news websites.
  • Reciprocal links (i.e. exchanging links with another website owner).
  • Links from blogs, forums and social media sites.

A word of warning, there are paid services that promise to include a link to your website on hundreds and sometimes thousands of other websites. Even if the claim is true (and perhaps particularly if the claim is true) be careful. A website that suddenly increases its external links significantly in a short time can be penalised by search engines. And that’s a situation you don’t want to be in.

For more advice on external links or search engine optimisation, contact En Pointe.

Measuring the success of email marketing

Email marketing is quickly becoming one of the most popular marketing communications methods for businesses. Why? Because it’s not only cheaper than many other forms of marketing, in some cases it’s more effective. But this doesn’t mean email marketing is easy. Not only do you have to develop the email content – whether it be a customer newsletter, tips or a sales campaign – you also have to deliver it to your customer.

For many businesses this delivery is through their chosen email platform, usually Microsoft Outlook. However, there are issues with using your email program to deliver your email marketing campaigns. One of the most important of these issues is that using a system such as Outlook doesn’t provide you with any chance to measure your success or lack of success.

The good news is there are many commercial systems available that can not only help you overcome the issues listed above, they’ll also provide you with information that will help you decide whether your emails are hitting the mark.

While systems differ, the information you’re likely to receive by using an email management system will include:

  • How many emails were sent
  • How many emails were opened
  • Who opened your email
  • What links were opened
  • Who unsubscribed
  • Which recipients didn’t receive your email
  • How many emails were forwarded to others

Of course, if your email is a sales campaign the most important information to know is how many sales you received due to your emails. Email management systems are clever and efficient, but you’ll need to work this vital statistic out yourself!

Welcome to the En Pointe family

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