Archive for February, 2009

If You Format It… They Will Read

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Why do you open certain newsletters, is it brand familiarity, eye-catching subject lines or attractive design? Whatever the reason, you do admit to clicking and opening certain newsletters, while ignoring others, right? Do not be afraid to admit it, I do the same thing. Why? I am going to take you through some explanations of what not to do, for the next newsletter you send out. If you are guilty of any of these “no no’s” STOP!

First and foremost is the SUBJECT LINE, while this isn’t exactly formatting, this is the single most important line in your entire newsletter. If your subject line is uninteresting or altogether irrelevant to your targeted audience they will not open it. The subject line MUST ALWAYS show your audience that the information contained within is invaluable to them.  Better yet, if you offer this priceless information with a personalized subject line (i.e. customer’s name), your chances of getting your newsletter opened increase dramatically.

Secondly, ALWAYS IDENTIFY who is sending the newsletter. If sender information is not immediately visible, your chances of getting your newsletter opened greatly diminish. Customers only have a few moments to sift through emails and sort them out.  Do not make the mistake of not identifying yourself, this will make you look like a novice or a spammer, either way your newsletter will be junked or deleted.

Now that your newsletter has been opened, how do you present your information?  According to Web Marketing Today, “studies have found the maximum length of a line of text should be 50 to 55 characters. Shorter lines are okay, but longer lines will hurt readability.” In other words, keep it simple and get to the point! AVOID putting imperative information on side columns, people read from top to bottom. Few of us will scroll back up to the top to read a second column. If you want it to be read, keep it in a linear format. The only exception to this rule should be newsletters presenting multiple products.

This next rule cannot be overemphasized, ALWAYS have your text on a solid white or very light background. Never, ever use a patterned background; this will be an annoyance to your customers and a detriment for your newsletter.  BE FLEXIBLE, today more than ever before, we are encouraged to do more than one task at a time. Chances are while reading your newsletter your customers will have more than one window open. Therefore, it is important your newsletter can be easily minimized or reduced in size without distorting information. What does this mean? Maybe, just maybe, you want to rethink the banner logo extending all the way across the top of your newsletter.

And what is the single most important rule for newsletters? If you want to give your clients a special offer, coupon or bonus, KEEP IT TEXT! While the idea of seeing your 10% discount coupon pop up on the screen may appeal to you, chances are this will never be seen. According to Web Marketing Today, “a large percentage of emails are opened by web mail users where graphics are automatically blocked by default.”

*Did You Know – you are required by law to give readers an easy way to OPT-OUT of your newsletter?

Search Engine Optimization – What You Need to Know

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Search engine optimization, I do not need to remind you what this is, right?  Well, for those of you who need a refresher course, here we go, according to Webopedia, an online encyclopedia dedicated to computer technology, SEO is “the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by ranking high in the search results of a search engine.  The higher a website ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that site will be visited by a user.”  Now, that we have gotten this out of the way; let us discuss recent news in the world of SEO.  According to small business trends, “All companies are recognizing the need for and value of having dedicated staff to recommend and implement SEO strategies.”  Simply put, SEO is no longer relegated to the tech-savvy; more companies are educating in-house employees on the importance of SEO.

Small Business Trends also tells us personalized search results are basically turning ranking reports into useless tidbits of information, “In other words, it’s no longer about whether your business is ranking for a certain search term at, say #2 in Google.  Traffic and conversions are what you should be tracking, not what number you rank at for a specified term.”

As I continued my search for the latest information on SEO, I could not ignore the obvious – YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.  If you do not believe in the importance of making your presence known on these social sites, read the following.  According to Search Insider, “this fall, comScore and Ad Age reported that YouTube surpassed Yahoo as the second-largest search engine; within days, YouTube announced its new search advertising platform.  What is more, MySpace (563 million U.S. queries in October 2008, according to comScore) is a bigger search engine than AOL (424 million) and (362 million).  Queries on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon combined (980 million) nearly rival (1.04 billion).”  Having read this, I can only surmise these websites are an important part of any strategic SEO marketing initiative.

According to WebPro News,”In the organic listings field, there are four major search engines and about six minor ones.  Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask Jeeves are considered the Big 4, as they each have their own unique spiders and ranking algorithms.  Following the Big 4 are, AOL, Lycos, Netscape, AltaVista, FAST, and Excite.”  What does this tell us, if you want to get your business noticed, you better cover your basics, in other words, these search engines.   For those of you who are truly interested in finding out which search engines have the highest amount of search engine affiliations, this may be helpful to you, Search Engine Relationship Chart (SERC) –

Although navigating this chart can be slightly confusing, it is certainly worth the effort.

* Did You Know – you are ONE of 1,463,632,361 internet users in the world?