Original post : 7 Oct 2011

Web site woe, blog bother and email errors

Angry manBefore you begin reading this you should know that this is quite long. You may want to go and make a cuppa before you start.

Some things get my marketing blood pressure up! So prepare for some random rants!

This week I have come across the following:

1/ A company with a new web site with no SEO. And when I mean none I don't mean that it was poor. I mean none, zip, nada. No keywords, no descriptions no H1 or H2 tags, irrelevant copy. Seriously what web design or development company these days can expect to build a site that just looks pretty and doesn't address the key issues of performance? 

2/ A company that has a blog that they run on a wordpress site that is completely divorced from their main web site, it's branded differently, it has no links back to the main web site and they use it  infrequently.

3/ A company that has a huge database of contacts, and by huge I mean tens of thousands, and that wants to use email marketing but  expects to be able to do it for free.

A quick rant about each of these in turn!

1/ Web Sites

If you have a website you have it for a reason. You must want people to see it. You must want people to gain something from looking at it. You must want people to do something as a result of seeing it. You, as the business leader, have to be clear about:

  • Who you want to view your site
  • How you can make sure they find it
  • What you want them to gain from looking at your site
  • What you want them to do as a result
  • How you will measure the success of the site in achieving your desired results

A good marketing company or web designer/developer will help you achieve your objectives. It needs to be a combination of good copy on the pages and well engineered optimisation of the site. It isn't that hard to get a pretty effective site for most businesses. That's why it makes me mad when people invest money in a site that isn't! Here are my top tips to better web presence:

  • If you don't know whether you're generating anything (business, leads, visitors) to your site ask an expert
  • If you do know what you're getting from your site but you want more, ask an expert
  • If you're planning a new web site or an upgrade to an existing web site, do your homework (see above) then if your chosen web designer/developer doesn't discuss objectives, performance and measurement - find another one!
  • Make sure that you can edit your web site. Search engines like living sites. You need to be able to add to, remove from and change your messages, offers etc. regularly. Make sure you can.

1/ Blogs

Blogging is an interesting subject. It's a bit like Facebook and Twitter. There are a whole group of self proclaimed experts who say "You must blog. You must be on Facebook, You must be on Twitter. Old marketing is dead. Get with the programme!".  I'll pin my colours to the mast. I think people who say these things are wrong and they don't really understand marketing. The fundamentals of marketing haven't changed, the tools we have at our disposal have, but the fundamentals haven't.

I believe that blogging is a great way to engage with people, to demonstrate your skills, to help people and to show something of your personality. Possibly even to entertain in the process! But as with any communication you need to be clear why you're doing it and what you hope to achieve.

One of the things I hope to achieve when I write a blog is to encourage the audience to want to understand marketing better. I truly believe that effective marketing is fundamentally important to business.  I hope they will join in the discussion by adding their own comments and insights. I hope that readers will be encouraged to look around more of our site. I hope they will like what they see and be more inclined to recommend us to their friends or - yes I'll say it - maybe even buy some of our services!

I believe in blogging that's why I make time for it. It's in my diary. I'm disciplined about writing it. We have also ensured that our blog is integrated into our web site. If readers are engaged we want to make it easy for them to explore more of our site and become even more engaged. We add a blog digest to our monthly newsletter.

It's like anything in marketing, if you do it, do it properly. Have objectives, do what you need to do to achieve the objectives, and most importantly do it consistently. Make your blog an integral part of your site, get people back to your site, do it regularly. Or don't do it at all.

3/ Email

Email is an easy cheap and effective way of promoting your business if it's done well, and if it's done as a part of an integrated communications plan. Just sending out random emails to people who are only vaguely aware of you, or worse don't know you, is probably not going to work, and could get you reported as a spammer! I liken it to the following scenario. If you were approached in the street by a complete stranger who opened a suitcase and said "Hi would you like to buy a watch?"  You would probably be suspicious. You'd probably say "No thanks." and walk on. You might call the police! If on the other hand a friend offered you a watch you might ask why he's selling, how much he want's for it. You might even buy it if it was a nice watch.  You wouldn't ignore him and it's pretty unlikely that you will be annoyed with him.

You react differently because you have a relationship with your friend. So use the same approach in your marketing. Aim to build a solid connection with your contacts first and sell to them second.

The other thing is to recognise that email marketing is cheap but it's not free. Even systems like Mailchimp which offers "free" service to customers with small lists takes time to set-up and get right. And don't forget your time is a finite resource - if you're messing around with an email template then you're not doing client work or selling products.

For large lists all the service providers make a charge. They have to - it's called being in business. They put lots of effort into building a clever piece of software, they buy lots of big servers and big fat connections into the internet. They employ people to run the infrastructure, and to support their customers. Of course they are going to want to make money doing that.

Don't be afraid of paying for a service if it is a good and effective service. And effective is the key word here. Marketing is an investment in your business. Don't think about the monthly cost of sending 30,000 emails ("By golly! £200 for emails that's outrageous!") think about the cost per email ("1.5p each? That's quite reasonable actually.") or even better the cost per sale ("I generated £1000 of new business from that £200 investment in email. Yippee!").

Anyway that's a few things off my chest. Sorry if I sound like a grumpy old man but hey! I am a grumpy old man! I'm mainly grumpy though on other people's behalf. Here at The Purple Edge we use a great little system that hosts our site and has an easy to use content management system that also helps with SEO. It has a contact management module and an integrated blog and email system. It's really easy to use and we have one interface to do everything. So dealing with all these issues is straight forward.

So now I sound smug. Smug and grumpy not a great combination. It must be the end of a long week.


Thanks for the feedback Trish. I think those who know me would wonder how I would limit my rants to one a month! Seriously though I do come across lots of smaller businesses who spend, for them, a lot of money on things that actually won't be effective and the "experts" who are taking the money are not advising them well. Good luck with your new website - I'll make sure I appear on your analytics report...
Comment by Jim - 25 Nov 2011 12:39
I love your rants Jim, they not only help you get things off your chest but educate us ludites with the 'la la' language of technology too. I am in the process of updating my website, changing me web designer and host and also my CMS system so I can do exactly what you are advising to do. I'm also getting a bit more savvy about using Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter to drive people to my website (see the language is getting more ah ha! rather than 'la la' for me!) Ever thought of having a monthly rant because we all benefit when you do?
Comment by Trish Stretton - 4 Nov 2011 10:52
Well noted Jim. Some great comments about e-marketing. To anyone else reading, I also use the same software as Purple Edge for all my websites - truly brilliant, effective and easy to use. If your web strategy isn't delivering what you need, do go and ask Sharon and Jim to point you in the right direction. They have a wealth of expertise and some great contacts for companies that can deliver.
Comment by Caroline Wilson - 8 Oct 2011 07:08
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