Author Archives: Sarah Hickman

What are your marketing messages?

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Marketing messages

The first step in putting together a marketing communications plan for your business is to know who your customers are. That answers our first question:

1. Who should receive your marketing messages?

The next two questions are:

2. What should the messages say?
3. What image of my business do I want to project?

A message should reflect your company's mission statement (if you have one). It should reflect what your organisation does and believes, or talk about a particular product or service you offer.

A message or set of messages are the building blocks for all of your communications, e.g. adverts, press releases, website content, brochures, social media content, etc.

Some tips:
- Think about your audiences and carefully consider what you want them to think about you. Will your message make them take action?
- Make sure the messages are clear and concise – keep it simple and memorable.
- Don't forget the ‘why’, i.e. answer why your organisation does what it does.

You can then move on to the next few questions:

4. What's your budget?
5. How will the messages be delivered?
6. What actions do you want people to take after they've received the messages?
7. What 'control' methods will you use – i.e. how will you make sure that the messages don't get disrupted?
8. How will you summarise what was achieved, e.g. find out what return on investment was achieved?

After this you'll be in a great position to start making decisions about what types of marketing communications tools (website, paid advertising, social media etc) you need for your business.

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How to use apostrophes in your marketing copy

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Proofreading-marketing-copy

How often have you seen SKIRT'S FOR SALE or CHEAP HOLIDAY'S on a website, poster or on social media? Our eagle eyes usually spot these errors straight away, and we think twice about using the services of businesses who commit crimes against the apostrophe!

To help you out, we've produced a quick guide below.

The apostrophe is used:

1. To indicate the possessive.

  • This is Peter's book.
  • This book is Peter's.
  • The dog's dinner looks disgusting.
  • Diana was the people's princess.
  • I tore up the men's shirts.
  • It is everyone's duty to protest.
  • It is no-one's responsibility.

Apostrophes are not needed here:

  • They had two photos.
  • We sell CDs and DVDs.
  • I was born in the 1970s.
  • There were only three skirts left in the sale.
  • She got three As in her exams.
  • I think Sonys are the best DVD players.

Personal pronouns are already possessive, so they don't need an apostrophe: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs.

For example, none of these have an apostrophe:

  • The house is yours.
  • The dog broke its leg.
  • She said the book was hers.
  • They claimed it was theirs.

The apostrophe is also used:

2. To indicate missing letters in the middle of words or phrases.

  • You cannot have it = You can't have it.
  • Do not do that! = Don't do that!
  • I would like an ice-cream, please = I'd like an ice-cream, please.
  • We had better hurry = We'd better hurry.

Where do I put the apostrophe?
The apostrophe goes directly after the thing doing the possessing:

  • The sun's rays = the rays of the sun.
  • The table's leg = the leg of the table.
  • The archbishop's palace = the palace of the archbishop.
  • The archbishops' palace = the palace of the archbishops.
  • The men's shirts = the shirts of the men.
  • Children's T-shirts = T-shirts of children.
  • The people's princess = the princess of the people.
  • My mother's photo = photo of my mother.
  • One week's notice = notice of one week.
  • Two weeks' notice = notice of two weeks.
  • Three years' experience = experience of three years.
  • Everyone's help = help of everyone.

Get in touch if your marketing copy could do with the once-over from our eagle-eyed team of proofreaders!

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Graphic design jargon buster

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Graphic Design Leamington Spa

Here at Public we make sure we explain everything to you in layman's terms. But have you ever heard a graphic designer or graphic design agency use a term and wondered what on earth they're on about? This little glossary might help bust that jargon...

Author's corrections
Corrections made by the author on proofs, that alter the original copy. The cost of making such alterations is charged for.

Bitmapped image
Image represented by an array of picture elements, each of which is encoded as a single binary element.

Blank dummy
Mock-up consisting of the substrate and cover material required for a printed document (e.g. a paper brochure).

CMYK
Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and black process colours.

Encapsulated PostScript file (EPS)
Type of image file conforming to Adobe standards.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
A simple way to log in to another internet location in order to retrieve or send files.

Gradation
Staged change in tones from highlight to shadow.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)
A commonly used method of compression for digital images. The degree of compression can be adjusted.

Line art
Image that has no tonal gradation.

Pantone
Pantone is one of the most widely used colour matching systems in commercial printing.

Portable Document Format (PDF)
File format used for the exchange of documents and defined in the Adobe portable document format.

Point size
Typographic unit of linear measurement.

RGB
Abbreviation for red, green and blue, the colours that combine on a digital display to make an image.

Tag Image File Format (TIFF)
Format for exchanging raster-based data.

Tone
Degree of lightness or darkness in any given area of an image.

Tone value
Percentage of the surface occupied by the image area.

Typography
Process of designing, specifying, composing, printing or otherwise working with typefaces by means of analogue and/or digital techniques.

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Top tips for proofreading your marketing copy

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Top Tips for Proofreading

When you're writing copy for your website and marketing materials, proofreading your content may be the last thing on your mind – particularly if you're on a deadline. But paying more attention to the words you're using could help to maintain and improve the perception people have of your business.

Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poorly-constructed sentences can make your business look unprofessional, which will only encourage your potential customers to look for other - more professional - companies to spend their money with.

Mistakes can also cost you money. Business owners sometimes waste whole print runs because of bad spelling, punctuation or grammar that spellcheck didn't pick up. Mistakes can be more easily and cheaply rectified on a web page – but only if you spot them!

Here are some handy tricks that professional proofreaders use, which should help you pick up errors before your customers do.

QUICK TIPS

    • Make sure you are in a quiet place, free from distractions
    • Work from a print out if possible
    • Use a red pen
    • Read out loud
    • Cover up the line below
    • If you're using a computer, use spellcheck but DON'T RELY ON IT!
    • Read backwards sentence by sentence
    • Read backwards word by word
    • If you can get someone to help, get them to check it too
    • If you can get someone to help, have them read it out while you follow the text
    • Double check numbers too, e.g. £100000 instead of £1000000

COMMON MISTAKES TO LOOK OUT FOR

      • Spacing between words – are there any spaces missing or are there too many?
      • Letters accidentally typed twice e.g. Councill
      • Words accidentally typed twice
      • Full stops missing
      • Missing close bracket
      • Writing numbers: 1 to 9 should be written as numbers. Numbers from ten onwards should be written as words
      • Make sure quotes and speech are in speech marks
      • Make sure proper names, places and brand names start with a capital letter
      • Look out for missing or extra commas
      • Look out for full stops used incorrectly
      • Make sure brackets are closed
      • Add speech marks where necessary
      • No need for double punctuation e.g. !!

PUNCTUATION
Incorrect punctuation can be dangerous...

“Let's get ready to eat, Granny!”
OR
“Let's get ready to eat Granny!”

You can see why punctuation is important if you try to make sense of this sentence which has no punctuation at all:

perhaps you dont always need to use commas full stops colons etc to make sentences clear when i am in a hurry tired cold or lazy i sometimes leave out punctuation marks grammar is stupid i can write without it and dont need it my uncle Harry once said he was not very clever and i never understood a word he wrote to me i think ill learn some punctuation not too much enough to write to Uncle Harry he needs some help

Now let's see if punctuating it makes a difference...

Perhaps you don't always need to use commas, full stops, colons etc. to make sentences clear. When I am in a hurry, tired, cold or lazy I sometimes leave out punctuation marks.

"Grammar is stupid! I can write without it and don't need it," my uncle Harry once said. He was not very clever and I never understood a word he wrote to me. I think I'll learn some punctuation - not too much, enough to write to Uncle Harry. He needs some help!

Get in touch if your marketing copy could do with the once-over from our eagle-eyed team of proofreaders!

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11 reasons why email marketing is still worthwhile

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email_marketing_midlands

Email marketing was one of the first channels used in digital marketing. However, this doesn't mean that it's no longer of value.

Perhaps you're an SME or a start-up with a limited budget. Email marketing is a great, low-cost way of getting your message out there. So why should you give it a try?

  1. It's cheap
  2. Emails are a targeted, direct way to contact your subscribers, including current and previous customers as well as prospects
  3. Email campaigns help build a relationship with your database, and target subscribers at different stages of the lifecycle
  4. They can prompt sales from new customers, encourage repeat purchases, increase sales conversion and up-sell/cross-sell other products or services. You can even use email marketing to highlight location specific offers and drive people offline to your shop
  5. They help increase brand awareness, keep your brand fresh in your subscribers minds and drive targeted traffic to your website - so that when they do require your product or service, you are first in their mind
  6. You get trackable, measurable results from campaigns. They're a highly measurable form of marketing with statistics available to delve into every part of what happened during your campaign, when it happened and how often it happened. By using all the data available your campaign can be monitored, tested and optimised to ensure the highest result possible is achieved
  7. Fast delivery – email is perfect for communicating with customers for limited time or availability offers
  8. High ROI (Return on Investment) – a percentage of marketers use email campaigns, with many acquiring 50% or more of their business through this channel
  9. Email can catch people on the move viewing email on their mobile devices
  10. You can personalise communications using the data collected in your database
  11. You gain feedback from your customers. For example product reviews can be directly asked for through your emails, as well as giving you the opportunity to deliver online surveys to subscribers and increase the amount of data you hold about them; enabling you to personalise your campaigns further with this information in the future

So should you use your existing contact list or buy one in? Your own list will be of more value and the recipients are likely to be good prospects, and possibly even 'warm'. Bought lists can be very expensive and may not be as targeted as your own.

Don't forget that it's illegal to send unsolicited emails, so your contact list should have 'opted in' to contact - for example by signing up to a newsletter or entering their business card into a draw at an exhibition.

Try using a free, third-party email provider like MailChimp. It's free to send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers so is a great starting point. We also love Campaign Monitor, although they charge small monthly fee.

Give us a call if you need help putting your email together - even if you're already using MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, a well-designed email newsletter will have much more of an impact and a higher click-through rate than one put together by a beginner!

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New year, new marketing plan: 10 ways to revamp your marketing for 2017

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New year new marketing plan

It’s a new year and a fresh start for you and your business.

Now's the time to reflect on the successes or challenges you faced in 2016, and think about what you want your business to accomplish in 2017.

Like many areas of your business, it's a good time to take a look at your marketing. To help you revamp your marketing strategy in 2017, we've put together 10 helpful tips to get you started:

1. Establish a budget
When creating your marketing budget, you need to be focused on your customers. Where are they, and how do you find them? Start by looking back on last year’s marketing costs and create a realistic budget. Methods of marketing are rapidly evolving, so your budget should have some room for changes you might need to make in the new year.

2. Consider your target market
You may have plenty of customers coming through your door or visiting your website every day, but are these the customers you really want to reach? Do you know who your target market really is? You can’t focus on revamping your marketing plan until you know who you really want to target. Have a look at the value of your current customers – should you be sticking with them or looking elsewhere?

3. Consider your strengths
Say you run a restaurant. Do you serve the best pasta in town? Offer the friendliest service? Run a great mid-week offer? These are the things you should to focus on in your advertising. When you know your strengths, you can use them in your marketing materials.

4. Create a realistic schedule
One of the key parts of staying on track with marketing is establishing a realistic schedule that works. Just like any new year's resolution, it's better to make it achievable. Planning your upcoming year will help you stay focused on your goals.

5. Update your logo
Your logo is one of the first things potential customers see. Does it communicate your brand well? If you think your logo still fits, there’s no need to change it – but if the font or graphics seem at odds with the personality of your business, consider getting a new one. And do it properly: hire a professional designer!

6. Review your website
Is your current site easy to navigate? Has it been updated in the past few years? Does it feature an accurate menu and easy-to-find contact info? Has it been optimised for mobile devices? If the answer to any of these questions is no, consider revamping your site.

7. Create valuable website content
People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed – and it's also great for SEO. When a website is updated regularly, Google sees it as an active site and therefore ranks it more highly in search results pages. Have a look at what you say on your website, and make sure it's regularly updated and reflects your brand well.

8. Be mobile-friendly
Mobile internet use is growing and growing (something we wrote about way back in July 2013). This year, it’s important to make sure you're producing content that’s web-friendly, and ensure your website is optimised for mobile (if you haven’t already). This will help you reach more of your audience and let customers know that you take your digital marketing seriously.

9. Review your advertising tactics
Look at the channels you use for your advertising. Do you use Google AdWords, email marketing, press adverts, social media advertising, or something else? Are these methods bringing in the customers you want? Think about where your ideal customer is and what channels they'll actually see - and be most receptive to.

10. Have a fresh look at your social media presence
Social media is no longer an option…it’s a necessity. It's also one of the most direct and effective ways you can promote your business. Even if you’re already actively using social media, evaluate your activity and see if you’re doing all that you can. Are you using your Facebook page effectively? Are you responding quickly to customers on Twitter? This is also a good time to think about whether you need to be active on so many platforms. For example, if your customers don't use Twitter, stick to Facebook. Your time will be better spent and you'll have more time to engage. A content calendar is a fantastic way of scheduling in your activity.

So in summary...
Marketing is basically about listening to your audience, and telling them why they would benefit from using your product or service. Making a few tweaks to your plan can help refine and target your marketing, and put you on the right track for a successful 2017.

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What are the differences between B2C and B2B social media marketing?

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differences between B2C and B2B social media marketing

A social media marketing strategy is important for any business. But this doesn't mean every strategy should be the same.

The content you use will differ depending on who your customers are. Posts by a B2B business will probably look very different from posts by a B2C company.

B2B companies can be sceptical of the benefits of social media. This is possibly due to a perceived inability to measure its effectiveness. (Read our blog post about measuring your marketing ROI).

So what are the differences between social media marketing for B2B and B2C businesses? It all comes down to who you’re talking to, i.e. who your target audience is.

 

CONTENT

‘Content’ includes written words such as blog posts, white papers, etc. It also includes visual, audio, and interactive content. The messaging within a social media post itself is also considered content. When writing any content, it’s best to not be overtly promotional. Rather, content should provide value to the reader. Start with the assumption that no-one really cares about your company! By providing value with your content, you’ll be seen as a thought-leader and an expert in your field. Your company will then be at the top of your customers’ minds when the time comes to make a purchasing decision.

B2C
B2C companies usually focus on blog content, and link to this on social media. It’s important to think about how ‘shareable’ a blog post will be – will readers be interested or find it useful? Also, make sure there are share buttons on your website blog, so that readers can easily share your content across social channels with a single click.

B2C businesses should use as much visual content as possible. Creating entertaining or informative videos, hosting them on YouTube (or similar) and then sharing, is an excellent way to do this.

Social content for B2C marketers should be quite casual. An informal tone and using humour can work really well.

B2B
B2B marketers have a huge range of choices when it comes to content marketing. While B2C marketers tend to use a casual tone, B2B marketers generally focus on more 'professional' types of content. For example:

White Papers and eBooks
White papers, while labour intensive, can be very beneficial for a B2B marketer. They are basically a lead generation tool. Given how in-depth a white paper can be, and how much information it provides to the reader, people are more willing to submit their personal details to access it. Lead generation is the most important goal for B2B marketers, so it’s worth taking the time to produce a high-quality piece.

Case Studies
The case study is another brilliant lead generation tool. Case studies also prove to your target market that you can actually deliver the services you’re offering, and deliver them successfully.

Webinars
Creating a webinar serves two purposes: encouraging people to sign up (therefore capturing their data), and supplying you with lots of content to use repeatedly. Webinars can be edited to create different pieces of content, and used for multiple blog posts, podcasts, and even case studies.

Infographics
Infographics are generally thought of as a B2C tactic. This is not the case; infographics can be beneficial to B2B companies. B2Bs tend to have a wealth of data and analytics that can be put into graphical form. Using internal data to create an impressive infographic is a powerful tool to get media coverage and social shares.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS

With the wide variety of social channels available to marketers, it's important to identify the most effective channels for your business, whether it’s B2B or B2C.

B2C

Facebook
Facebook was one of the very first social channels, and remains a staple of any effective B2C social media strategy. Facebook is a fantastic tool for community and customer engagement, customer support, and promotion.

Twitter
Twitter is one of the only 'open' social networks. This means that any tweet you send can be seen by anyone. But it’s important to understand how to make your tweets get maximum visibility. Use relevant and popular hashtags, come up with creative campaigns, and make contact with well-known people in your field. Don't forget to engage with people – interaction is key!

Instagram
Visual content is an incredibly effective tool for B2C marketers. Instagram can be used to give a personal face to your business. Pictures of your product or shop/office environment are often popular, and even the odd selfie can go down well.

YouTube
Video content is a powerful way of capturing your audience's attention. Don’t worry if you don’t have a huge budget and can’t afford to outsource your video production. There may still be value to a less polished video – it can give your company more personality.

B2B
B2B marketers tend to focus on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn is the most important for B2B businesses. Groups, in particular, should be used as much as possible for engagement and content distribution. Make sure that when distributing your content through Groups, you are not using the ‘hard sell’.

 

If you'd like to find out how we can help with your social media marketing, including managing accounts, writing copy and creating infographics, get in touch.

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Why your business needs a WordPress website

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Why your business needs a WordPress website

If you're thinking about getting a new website built for your business, you might have heard about WordPress. We love WordPress here at Public. 99% of the websites we build for our clients use the WordPress platform.

We've used WordPress to build websites for Wiley, Greenbelt, David Downton, Lilac Rose and Nicola Jarvis Studio, among others.

WHAT IS WORDPRESS?
WordPress is an "open source" website creation tool. The framework is available for anyone to download free of charge - but you need a bit of knowledge (or ideally a web developer) to create a website from this framework. It’s the most powerful and widely-used CMS (Content Management System) around today.

WHO USES IT?
You’re in good company if you've got a WordPress website. Famous blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch both use WordPress. This WordPress showcase gives you a flavour of some of the companies and celebrities using it, and this chart shows which content management systems are currently the most popular.

WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
There are many why a WordPress website would benefit your business.

1. You have control of your own website
No more waiting for your web developer to make simple changes and updates – and paying them for every tiny change. With WordPress, you have control of many aspects of your website and can carry out simple updates yourself.

2. Easy to use
WordPress is very easy to use, even for non-technical people, because the interface is so intuitive. Adding new pages, posts, images, etc. on a regular basis can be done quickly and easily.

3. Manage your site from anywhere
Because WordPress is browser-based, you can log in and manage your website from any computer, anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection, and a little bit of knowledge.

4. No specialist software required
WordPress is a self-contained system, so you don't need to use HTML editing software such as Dreamweaver. You can create a new page or blog post, upload or edit images, and upload documents, video files, images, etc. all without the need for additional HTML or FTP software.

5. Great for SEO
Google loves WordPress! The code behind WordPress is very clean and simple, making it easy for Google to read and index. In addition, you can give each page, post and image its own keywords, description and title. You can optimise your content for specific keywords, allowing for very precise search engine optimisation. And you can update all of this yourself, without the help of a web developer.

6. Multiple users
There's no need to be the sole administrator of your website – other staff members can have their own logins. The primary administrator of a WordPress site can set up multiple users, and assign different access levels to different users.

7. Blogging is built in
WordPress started life as a blogging platform, so blogging is built in and easy to integrate. Setting up newsletter subscriptions and commenting is very simple. You can also add your most recent blog posts to other pages of your site, like your home page.

8. Increase what your website can do with plugins
"Plugins" are bits of code that allow certain things to happen on your site. They have already been written, so there's no need for your web developer to write this code from scratch. Plugins are either free or cheap to buy. There will be some configuration required – you can't just buy a plugin, press a button and go. If you're not technically-minded, your web developer will do this for you. Plugins allow your site to have features like event calendars, video galleries and Twitter feeds.

9. Large community
As the world's most popular CMS, there's a lot of free support out there. If you're not sure how to do something, you can search for it on Google. There's usually someone out there with suggestions!

10. It also does eCommerce
WordPress websites can be set up to sell your products online, using a system called WooCommerce.

 

If an easy-to-use Content Management System sounds like the kind of thing you are after, drop us a line for a no-obligation chat about your requirements.

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What colours should I use on my website?

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website colours

When we’re designing a new website for a business, we consider aspects such as layout, navigation and responsiveness (i.e. how content will be displayed on different devices).

Another very important consideration is colour. The colours featured in your web design can have an impact on how users feel about your business.

Choosing the best colour scheme
When we’re working on a colour scheme, we consider existing business branding. The colours must be consistent with your overall brand. If your colours don’t translate well to your web design, perhaps you should consider a re-brand.

You should also think about your audience and what colours will appeal to them. Different colours will appeal to different age groups and genders. Using customer personas may help you determine who your audiences are.

Why is colour vital?
First and foremost, colour will help to make your website visually appealing. The more attractive and user-friendly your website is, the more likely visitors are to stay there (and ultimately buy your product or service). First impressions count, so you need ensure your web design colours give customers a positive feeling about your business.

Colour can also impact the readability of information on your website. No matter how interesting your content is, if the text and background colour combinations make it difficult to read users will get frustrated and leave your site. So it’s important to use colours that are easy to focus on and make your text stand out clearly. For this reason, we usually use a dark text on a light background.

Another reason why colour is important is that it can evoke certain emotions. It may sound strange but research has found this to be true! Colours can have an impact on what people think, how they feel and what actions they take - so it’s essential that you use colours that evoke the right emotions.

Colour meanings
To give you an idea of how this works, here are the colour meanings of some of the most popular colours used in website design.

Blue
Blue is regarded as a safe, trustworthy and reliable colour, which is why it is so commonly used in business web design. In fact we use it for our own website and branding! It’s reported to evoke feelings of calm and relaxation, highlighting the business as reliable and experienced. Just think of some of the most trusted brands: PayPal, Barclays Bank and Ford.

Red
Red is strong, dynamic and passionate. It’s often used on ‘Sale’ signs on websites as it creates a feeling of urgency and excitement. It’s thought to encourage customers to complete a call to action.

Orange
Orange is seen as warm and energising. Sainsbury’s has been using orange as its brand colour for decades. It’s considered ‘friendly’ and will invite users to complete the call to action on your website, rather than making them feel like they must do it immediately. It’s useful for highlighting call to action buttons like Subscribe and Follow.

Green
Green tends to inspire people and make them feel optimistic. Green is also an obvious colour choice for businesses needing to highlight their environmental values and credentials. See Oxfam and Waitrose as examples.

Purple
Purple has connotations of wealth and luxury, which is why it is often used by ‘high end’ businesses. It also has a slightly feminine and romantic feel, making it popular with beauty, fashion and luxury goods websites. If you’re going to use purple, it might be better to use small hints so it’s not too overpowering. Asprey and Hallmark both use hints of purple to great effect on their websites.

Using white space on your website
Colour is essential to web design but white plays a crucial role too. White space lets your content ‘breathe’ and makes it easier to read. Some people don’t like white space in their own marketing materials and web design, thinking they need to fill it with something! But white space will prevent your content from becoming cluttered and will give your website a more professional and user-friendly feel. Countless eCommerce websites use plenty of white space, like House of Fraser, the BBC and Google of course.

If you need advice or tips on best practice for website design, feel free to drop us a line.

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How to get started with email marketing

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how to get started with email marketing

Email marketing is a simple and proven method of promoting your business.

It can attract new customers and maintain close relationships with current ones, or remind lapsed customers that you still exist. You could opt to send emails using your usual email client (for example Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird). However, it looks much more professional if you use specialised email marketing software.

A vast array of email marketing software is available and most companies offer relatively low prices, with packages to fit every business size and need. There are even free-of-charge solutions available (although of course you will need to invest your time - or ask an agency like us to manage it for you).

Managing your contacts can be as simple as having a list of names and email addresses, or a database of subscribers segmented in various ways. It's just a matter of determining which features and tools you need and what budget you have.

Try before you buy
Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month, and invoice you based on your number of subscribers (i.e. how many people are on your list).

If you have a small list of subscribers, your best bet will be a company that offers a free or low-cost plan for a few hundred subscribers, or even pay-as-you-go. MailChimp offers a free package and is very popular with small businesses. Many services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Some companies offer discounts if you pay annually rather than monthly.

Getting started shouldn't be daunting. Generally, you'll know right away whether you like a user interface (UI) or not. Most packages will offer a free trial so you can have a look around before you commit (note that some free trials require a credit card, so if you’re not happy make sure you cancel the trial before you're invoiced).

Check out the customer support. Some companies offer 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email help, while for others you need to rely on online documentation and limited live support. The best services offer a combination of FAQs and live support via chat or phone.

Creating your first campaign
Whether you already have a list of subscribers or are starting from scratch, email marketing software can help. It will let you add contacts manually (using copy and paste) or by uploading CSV or Excel files. Some allow you to import Gmail and other webmail contacts, or other data from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software such as Salesforce.

Managing users who unsubscribe is also easy, as you're not accidentally contacting anyone who has opted out.

Next you need to build your first email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a pre-designed template. Most services have drag-and-drop tools so you can choose to include, plus image libraries to store assets like logos and photos.

Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential, as you may accidentally use words that send up red flags and direct the email straight to your subscribers' junk folders - or worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach your customers’ inbox.

Responding and reporting
Beyond sending newsletters, the best email marketing services also offer custom auto-responders. These help you stay in touch with customers via automatically generated emails based on special occasions (like birthdays or anniversaries), welcome emails for new subscribers, or thank you emails for purchases.

Obviously, using email as a form of marketing is no use unless you can track your successes and failures. All of the services available should offer tracking and reporting, whether it's simple open and click rates, charts and statistics, or even integration with Google Analytics. Using this data you can make adjustments based on what does and doesn’t work.

If you’re growing your business, you may also be looking for a CRM solution. The more advanced email marketing services cross over into CRM. A handful of these services are ‘one-stop shops’, either offering both email marketing and CRM out of the box or as add-on services.

Some of the best email marketing services are listed below – but others may be available! If you don’t feel confident enough to get started by yourself, drop us a line. We manage email campaigns for a number of our clients, including design, writing the words, broadcasting the emails, reporting, and maintaining the contact database.

Campaign Monitor
MailChimp
Zoho Campaigns
Emma
Constant Contact
InfusionSoft
RedCappi
AWeber
SendInBlue
Eloqua
Salesforce Marketing Cloud

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