Email Marketing Santa Rosa

E-Mail Marketing Software and Tips

Hey, good morning internet fans, it’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. It’s Thursday morning, therefore I have Virginie Dorn, with Business Website Center on the other end, down in Petaluma, California. Good morning, Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning, Ryan. Good morning, everybody.

RP: Yes. And we can’t see out of your windows, ’cause you have the blinds closed today, but I’m assuming that’s because it’s raining?

VD: No, I don’t know why it’s closed, maybe the cleaning crew did that, but it’s a bit of rain here, but very soft.

RP: It is. So, for those that don’t know, we’re up in Northern California, and California has been… This is our third year, I know it’s our second year of really bad drought, but I was not expecting rain. My mom actually drove up from LA yesterday. We’re driving home from dinner, and she’s looking at the clouds going, “Oh, it’s going to rain.” And I’m thinking, “Eh, it’s Sonoma County.” It’s just heavy fog, it’s overcast, like, “It’s not going to rain.” Five minutes later, I got the windshield wipers going, and all kinds of crazy stuff, so. But it’s good to have, good to have.

VD: Oh yes, we have a drought here, so we’re happy about it.

RP: Yeah. I would imagine that’s probably not the topic of conversation for this episode. What we’re really going to talk about is e-mail marketing. And basically, I assume everybody knows about e-mail marketing, people may not know the true value of e-mail marketing. A lot of times people don’t know where to start, so I want to kinda, maybe you can touch on what the value is of creating a database of people that you can market to on a regular basis. Just real quickly.

VD: Yes, absolutely. There’s great value, especially if you already have a relationship with those people. So, I’m not big fan of blast e-mailing a million people who’ve never heard of you. I think those emails just end up in spam, and people just delete them, purge them, and mark you as spam. But if you are a company, you know people, either customers, vendors, acquaintances, other business partners. All those emails are part of your database, and it’s great once and while, not everyday of the month, but to reach out to them to stay in visibility. Announcing new products you might be launching, or services, or maybe some how-to, or tips. So, it’s as long as the e-mail has value, and you have an established relationship with them, it’s great, because people remember you.

RP: Right. And I think, and the one thing that I know that I’m guilty of, in my own business, is a lot of times people will go, “Oh well, I need a second opinion, because I’m going to have somebody do X, Y, Z. Another company, we’re going to have them build the website, as an example.” I’m like, “Well, hold it. I could’ve helped you, I could’ve put a quote in for that.” And they’re like, “Oh well, I thought you just did SEO.” And so, when you have multiple facets of your business, but you bring a new client onboard, they may only really know about one thing. So for me, most of my clients are SEO related, and they may not necessarily know that I offer social media services. They may not know that I offer web design, and so having a database of clientele that I can e-mail on a regular basis. And whatever that time frame is, really needs to be relevant to your clients and your product. In my industry it might be every month, maybe every two months. With just keeping in touch, keeping top of mind, and reminding them that, “Hey, I don’t just do this, I also do this, this and this.” So, that if they need that service, hopefully they’ll think about me first.

VD: You’re so right. Most people just think of you only of they hired you to do. And if they love you, they love what you’ve done, and they don’t remember everything else you do. That’s not their job to do that, so it’s our responsibility as business owners to reach out to them and let them know, that indeed we do offer other services.

RP: Right. So, I think then the big point becomes, “Oh, you know what. This is another level. Besides the fact that I have to run my business. Besides the fact I have to go to Chamber meetings, to network. Besides the fact that I need to do social media. Besides the fact I need to update my blog. Besides the fact I need to keep my website current, now we’re adding another layer. And now it’s a new thing I have to learn, and how difficult is it?” So, the nice part is, that there are services out there, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, that are very simplistic in the way of their design, in order to send out large volumes of e-mail. When I say large volume, what you don’t want to do, is if you have let’s say a 100 customers, you don’t want to have to go into Outlook or your e-mail program and say, “Dear Susie.” And then copy and paste whatever your message is, Send. And then open up a new e-mail and go, “Dear Bob.” Copy and paste. With MailChimp, with Constant Contact you can have a database of the all the names, that automatically plug the name in for you, plug the business in. And within, literally seconds, you can send off a 100 emails.

VD: Correct. The mail merge function is the greatest advantage of using those third-party companies. Is that you are able to customize each e-mail, in an instant. So, if you have a strong database, maybe first, last name, the product they brought from you, their e-mail address. You could do a mail merge within MailChimp saying, “Dear Susie Smith. Thank you for buying the red shoes. And just to let you know we’re now launching a new line of scarves that you might be interested in. Click here to find out more.” And this is all done automatically for you, as long as you follow the right process with the third-party company. And it’s very user-friendly. It’s just great, because again, doing it manually is not an option. Plus, you have more chances to be marked as spam if you do it from your own little private e-mail box. Most companies, that’s what they do for a living. They actually don’t… They don’t send one e-mail to everybody. They actually send each individual e-mail, one at a time, and over a period of a few hours. So, if you have 10,000 people they might send a thousand emails, and then another half an hour later another thousand. It’s not a copy, so it’s not everybody getting the same e-mail, everybody gets one e-mail to them and that’s how they’re able to bypass the spam filter on your e-mail.

RP: Right, right. And you know, the other cool thing is that… Well, first I want to say is that if you use MailChimp, Constant Contact, these are companies that are designed, they built their business around first-time users, so the interface is very simple. They have a lot of templates or you can have a custom template made, but very, very user friendly. If you can use Word or Excel, you should probably be fine in a MailChimp or a Constant Contact. Now, we were talking before the broadcast started about preference. I’ve had experience with Constant Contact. I’m not a big fan of their system, however, their customer service is very good. And I think on both sides customer service is very good because their business is built for first-time users, so they know they need to have that additional support. On the other hand, you’re a big fan of MailChimp, why is that?

VD: Yes. Well, we use both systems depending on the clients. Some clients already have their Constant Contact accounts, which they’ve paid for so, therefore, we would be using that account. I love MailChimp. They’re great. All the geeks in our industry just love them. But first and foremost, they have a freebie… You can have 2,500 subscribers in your database with MailChimp at no charge and you can send up to 12,000 emails every month without a single string attached. You can create campaigns. You can use their templates. You can upload your own HTML template if you want. You can attach the same template to different campaigns and modify them. You can do very easy mail merges we were talking about a few minutes ago. They’re just fantastic. Very user-friendly. Just… I don’t have any stocks with them, maybe I should, but very easy to work with. Their customer support is great as well. Constant Contact used to have a free plan, but now they have a free trial, so that’s not exactly a free plan, so if you want to do, I think, 500 emails was what? $15. Well, you can do 12,000 emails for free from MailChimp, so there’s no reason… Why pay unless you’re stuck on a contract with them?

RP: Yeah, exactly. And I think the big thing is is that anytime you’re starting out something brand new for the first time, 30 days goes by really quick, especially if you’re a solo-entrepreneur, if you’ve got a busy workload. You’d be surprised at how quickly 30 days can blow by. So having the ability to not worry about losing anything that you’ve built because your 30 day expiration expired, and now if you want access to what you already started building you’ve gotta pay. So I like the idea with Mail Chimp that, “Hey, you can practice, practice, build, build.” The other thing is both of ‘em… I taking it back. I’m pretty sure MailChimp has a direct plug-in for WordPress. I worked with a client last month who already had a Constant Contact account and they didn’t have a direct plug-in at the time, which I really thought was strange to… For people to sign-up, you know, like sign up for your newsletter. I’m sure everyone’s seen that on the website, “Put in first name. Put in e-mail. Hit submit.” When you do that if you have a plug-in from MailChimp it’ll actually put that person directly into the database and you don’t have to manually add them. And then the next time your newsletter goes out that person will automatically be included in that subscription, which is a great way of building your database and allowing you to constantly sell, especially when somebody raises their hand and says, “Yes, I want to receive more information.”

VD: Yes. Constant Contact has something similar, but it is not an easy plug-in for WordPress. They will give you the code so you can do exactly that, but you have to know how to put it into the code of your contact form. So that gets very tricky.

RP: That’s why I was having issues, because I am not a programmer. I like plug-and-play. I like it when it’s a bolt and a nut and they fit together and I can just screw ‘em together and, “Boom!” I’m done. If I have to tinker, I have very little patience.

VD: So, Yes on MailChimp then.

RP: Yes on MailChimp. We’ve got about three minutes. Now the next thing is for larger enterprises. The next step up would be something like Infusionsoft. Now Infusionsoft is very intense. I signed up for Infusionsoft last year. I use it in my business. I actually ended up hiring somebody who’s a certified Infusionsoft Programmer to actually build out my campaigns. And it’s very expensive. The base price, last I heard was $3,000 and $300 a month, just to use it. Now the cool thing about Infusionsoft is that it’s very, very smart. It’s an actual program in the sense that it is wickedly customizable. I don’t know how else to put it.

RP: You can… People actually use Infusionsoft to help with their day-to-day processes, to run their business and the automation, and actually you can put thought logic into it, if somebody clicks on this, we can throw him into another campaign because maybe they like red. They indicated through an e-mail that they like red better than blue and if that has a psychographic or I don’t know the right word, but if it affects their way of looking at your business, you can throw them into a different e-mail campaign so that you’re speaking to them in the way that they want to be heard. Very, very over the top, absolutely crazy. If you want a truly customizable anything, Infusionsoft is a great way to go, but relatively pricey. And then the next level up would be actually integrating your CMS, your website that database in with something like Infusionsoft but you actually are able to build out you’ve done this for a couple of clients where you build in an e-mail editor, I don’t know what you would call it.

VD: Yes, we have multiple clients actually that have MailChimp inside their own program. So what we did, we custom built and that’s good for people who have big membership websites or they have a portal where all their clients access their portal website to access their products and services so the databases are already there with the client’s information and the site owner can go into the Content Management System, go to the e-mail marketing section and decide who they want to send that e-mail to, so for a client who has maybe 2,000 customers, he can choose all active customers who’ve recently but shoes and then they say they like sweaters. You can really customize that e-mail and the database know who’s who and automatically will send the e-mails through their database and it’s just like using MailChimp except you don’t have to go to MailChimp. You stay within your own Content Management System. Go ahead.

RP: I was going to say and the key advantage is large database, constantly changing database like you mentioned if somebody is selling products, people are buying stuff for everyday or ideally they’ll be buying stuff every day from your websites, so your database is constantly changing. If you’re still using a product like MailChimp, you’re having to export that information and then import it into MailChimp to update it versus if you’re working in the same database you don’t have to do that anymore.

VD: That is correct, so that’s one of the greatest advantage. The information’s accurate as it can be.

RP: All right, very good. Well that I wanted to spend a little bit more time on the fully customizable stuff because I think there’s… People don’t know what they don’t know and if you did know it was possible and maybe you’ve been one of those people who’s been using MailChimp for some time, you’ve got 5,000 contacts and you’re like, “Oh! I just feel handcuffed because of the limitations.” Maybe next week we can dive a little bit more into the customizable stuff and educate people what they can do, what’s possible by actually having their own custom e-mail built into their website.

VD: I’d be happy to speak about it, sure.

RP: Alright, well sounds good. Our time is up today. I hope you have a fabulous day and stay dry or get wet. Either way, I know a lot of people were probably out dancing in the rain last night just because it hasn’t rained in so long.

VD: Yes, so stay safe everybody on the road.

RP: Alright. Take care, Virginie, thank you.

About Ryan Perry

Ryan Perry has taken his 10+ years of business ownership and hands-on marketing skills and focused them on online marketing. In April of 2009, he started Simple Biz Support with an emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ryan is propelling local business websites to the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing resulting in increased market exposure and revenue for his clients using a variety of internet marketing tools including blogs, article submissions and video. Additionally, Ryan speaks and vlogs (video blogs) about internet marketing, educating business owners how to effectively use various SEO tools and techniques to promote their business on the internet. Ryan currently resides in Santa Rosa, CA. Connect with Ryan on Google+

Responsive Website Santa Rosa

How Important Is A Responsive Website Today?

Hey. Good morning, internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. It is Thursday, therefore, today, we are talking about SEO. And as always, I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center down in Petaluma. Good morning, Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning, Ryan. How are you today?

RP: I am doing wonderful, looking forward to Memorial weekend, kinda yes, kinda no, or Labor Day weekend, I should say. Moving into new offices, need more space. So, moving into a larger space this weekend. Looking forward to that, just not looking forward to the moving part.

VD: How lovely. I’ll be camping. Thank you.

RP: Yes. Well, have fun. I hear you’re up in Tahoe.

VD: Yes. We’re very lucky in Sonoma County. We’re very close to many cool locations like Tahoe, San Francisco, and so forth.

RP: Yeah, that’ll be fun. Tahoe’s one of my favorite places to visit. Today, though, we are going to talk about the importance of going mobile for your website and more specifically, making sure that your website is responsive. For those people that don’t understand what “responsive” is, can you kind of give us a brief synopsis?

VD: Responsive is exactly what it means, it responds to the size of your screen, so your website should know if you’re on a smartphone, on a tablet, on a regular PC, is it a 24-inch screen? Is it an 18-inch screen? So, that’s what responsiveness does. It’s not just shrinking everything, it’s just resizing it and moving things into different place, based on the screen size you are currently using.

RP: Okay. Now, a lot of people, and I actually don’t, just talked to a client yesterday of mine, who’s got an old HTML straight site, and she’s really fighting the fact that she needs to spend money, and I think, ultimately, that’s what it is. It’s a financial decision, spending money and upgrading, and going into WordPress platform or responsive platform. Right now, she doesn’t even have a mobile-friendly device. And so that, I think, on our end, we understand that that’s creating issues. I’ve been reading some reports that basically, Google is starting to penalize websites that are not mobile-friendly, and so I don’t know if it’s right to say that they’re prioritizing smartphones over standard computers these days. But Google’s definitely seen the shift in viewers and what they’re using, and so many people are on their smartphone 24/7 hours a day, that it really makes sense as a business owner to have a website that is compatible on a website, just for the simple fact, to make it easy for people to find you and actually see the information on your website on a smartphone.

VD: Well, Google is actually a very loud about the fact that they do penalize website that are not responsive and don’t have a different sites on mobile devices. So they actually put it on their… There’s a place called developers.google.com, and you can find a lot of information. That comes directly from Google to webmasters like ourselves, and it tells you what it likes and what it doesn’t like. It doesn’t tell you everything. They keep a few things secret. But when it comes to responsive design and making a website work well on a smartphone or a tablet, they’re very pro-this. So, they will penalize you if your website is not responsive. That’s the bottom line, and they actually say so on their own website. Now there are two ways to be responsive, you can have responsive design, which is the way to go, and we can discuss the pros and cons between the two methods. The second method is having a mobile site. It’s actually a secondary website that only works on mobile devices.

RP: Right. Now, just so that people understand, ’cause one of the other questions I was gonna ask you is that, okay, well, maybe I’m a business owner, and a couple years ago, I had a mobile site built, so if I grab my smartphone now, and I type in my web address, it’s automatically being redirected to a mobile. Are those people being penalized also? And then the second question would be, what are the pros and cons of having a truly responsive site versus having a website for a computer versus a mobile website?

VD: The way to word it is the people with a mobile site, and not a responsive designed website, are not necessarily penalized than less favored. So, having both is… I mean, having one or the other is better than not having it, because not having it, you are penalized. But if you have a responsive designed site, you will be more favored in the eyes of Google and other search engines. They do prioritize your site. So, in a way, it’s not penalty, but you’re not as high on the ranking because of it. It is a matter of years before mobile device or mobile websites, which we used to code a few years back, are just going to stop working or really go away, just like it happens in the industry. Every few years, some things no longer work. I mean you heard about Flash going away as well. So, that’s going to happen. It’s also expensive to have a mobile website. They cost more money to maintain. When your website is organically responsive, it doesn’t require additional maintenance. It’s done through the code.

RP: Right, and I think the important thing from a business owner’s point of view is that if you currently have a mobile website, it’s literally a second website. So, if you change an address, a phone number. If you change content, my understanding is you have to change it on your main website, but you also have to change it on the mobile site versus a responsive website, it’s one website, it’s one database, therefore, if you make a change, it affects everything. Is that correct?

VD: Yes. That’s one of the greatest advantage of responsive design, is it gives us that ability to make one change and propagate to everywhere. What we found out with clients, especially larger companies that didn’t make the investment in the mobile website a few years back, is they didn’t have a content management system for the mobile site. They may have one for their regular PC website, and most of the time, they made a lot of changes on their regular website, which people will see on the PC. But if you look at their mobile website, it’s very outdated sometimes by several years, and the reason is, is they had to call their webmaster each time, and sometimes the same people that build the sites are no longer in the industry. So, it looks bad for business. Also, you have to have two domain names. I don’t know if people know about…

VD: If you do have a mobile website, you will need a secondary domain name. You could use the subdomain, so if you are abc.com, you could have mobile.abc.com. So, that would be a subdomain, so that’s another possibility. In terms of SEO, it’s better to have all the traffic into one domain name instead of diluted it into two, because if you have two sites, Google is only seeing 50% of traffic here, 50% of traffic. It’s not as good as having one site, and all of the traffic, regardless of the device is being taken into consideration by Google. And that’s the reason why it’s good for SEO to have one unique website and is fully responsive.

RP: Right. And I think from a business owners’ point of view, typically we’re always worried about visibility. How do we get top ranking and having not diluting, like you said, I think is very, very important, and the fact that… One of the things that Google looks at as far as determining your ranking is how many people actually visit your website. So, like you said, if you have 50% going to one and 50% going to the other, just think of what could happen if you combine those two in a responsive site. The other thing that I really like about responsive site, you brought up the CMS, or I hope I got the right terminology there, as far as having a website with a database that as a business owner now, you’re not tied into a web developer to change a phone number or to add a picture to a website or to add a blog to a website.

RP: When you go to a database-driven website such as WordPress, and you have custom sites that you built for clients, is that if you need to make those on the fly changes, you can do them now. They’re instant and if you go with the responsive website, which as far I am concerned, that’s the only way to build a website these days, your mobile devices are updated, your iPad devices will be updated. They’ll see the updated content along with the computer user.

VD: Yes. Again, one of the greatest advantage of it. Another thing, it’s more like on my Geek site is the technology behind the responsive design code is far greater than the code we used to use for mobile websites. So, the code we use for having a site being mobile on its own is becoming archaic, if that makes any sense. So, moving forward as the browsers evolve and they update to new versions, you’re going to continue having greater issues with the mobile website as you would on a singular website that has responsive design already coded into it. So, the truth of the matter is, the way to move forward is responsive design, period. If you already have your mobile device, you have to move away from it somehow, and sometime, you will.

RP: Right. And I think the other thing that you brought up before we started the broadcast that’s really important is, how many people go, “Ah! I’m on a computer all day.” Of course, everybody uses a computer. Not that many people are using a mobile device, and one of the easiest ways, if you’re one of those business owners that’s still really unsure, “Do I need to make the investment, upgrade my website, go to responsive?”, is check your Google Analytics, assuming you have it installed. If you don’t, do it now. It’s very important to have Google Analytics installed. It’s free. It’s very simple if you have a WordPress type of website, you just plug the code in, and it automatically goes out to all the pages. But one of the things that Google Analytics does is it’ll tell you what browser people are using. Are they using a smartphone? Is it an Apple? Is it an Android?

RP: If they are using a computer, what browser? Are they using Safari? Not only will it tell you what people are using, how many people are using smartphones to view your device, or an iPad as an example, but it also gives you a little bit of insights in the type of people who are visiting your website. If you find that 80% of your smartphone users are using an Apple or an iPhone, then that kind of gives you a clear understanding of who your audience is that’s visiting your website. So, that’s any easy way to figure out how important transitioning is. And you brought up some stats. I forget… You posted them in the chat, but I found one that… I had read this years ago, probably a couple of years ago, so, it’s probably higher now, and I’m trying to see. This study was done back in, or this article was posted in April of 2013 that said, “79% of people 18-44, have their smartphones with them 22 hours a day.”

VD: Oh, gosh. That is scary.

RP: Yeah. There was another study that, literally, the phone is not without… Farther than hand’s reach, pretty much 24 hours a day. That’s just the reality of society these days. And even if you go into your Google Analytics, and you only find that maybe 30% of your users are on smartphone, just a couple of years ago, that number was maybe a couple of percents.

VD: Yes, well, as of January of this year, it’s 55% of people browsing the internet are using a mobile device. So, that’s the industry statistics. That’s January, so we’re talking, what, almost nine months ago. So, that number, it can only go bigger. So, again, there are more people using mobile devices to reach the internet as they are using computers. So, it’s staying. It’s not going anywhere.

RP: And the other thing as a business owner that you have to think about, especially if you’re a local business owner is that if you’re out and about and you need something, you’re gonna go to that smartphone right away, and that smartphone’s got GPS, it knows where you’re at, and it’s gonna find local businesses around you. And if you’re not favored by Google because you don’t have a responsive website, think about how much business you could be losing by not making this one simple change.

VD: Oh, yes, especially for local businesses. I mean, if you’re doing a national search, you’re looking for a big ticket item, maybe you are sitting in front of your computer, or at the very least, your tablet. But if you’re looking for a donut shop, or a restaurant or something, a tire repair shop, because you just have that nail in your tire, you’re going to Google it on your phone. You’re actually going to even talk to your phone nowadays. You don’t even type it in. You would say, “Siri, find me the closest tire repair shop.” It will know where you are, and either as a business owner, you’re either there or you’re not there, in a way.

RP: Right.

VD: And if you’re there, your website is most likely responsive. If it’s not responsive, the user is not going to play with it, trying to figure out, “Where is the address? I don’t quite see it. It’s too small.” They’ll go to the next link on the Google search page, and you will miss your opportunity for a sale.

RP: As business owners, the other thing I always try and explain to people is that, especially if you’re an attorney, a dentist, auto repair, where there’s plenty of competition, is that the reality is, especially on mobile device, your real estate is very, very small, which means, a couple of people are gonna show up. If you’re not one of those three or four people that show up at the top of the page, you don’t exist at all. So, you need to give yourself every opportunity to succeed, and responsive is the way to go. I think we beat this up enough. Hopefully, people understand that if you’re a business owner and you don’t have a responsive website, now is the time to do it, not just because as web developers, we’re saying you need to do that, and as SEO experts, we’re saying you need to do that to improve SEO ranking, but because Google themselves is saying, “Look, we’ve matured to a point where so many people are using smartphones. If you want representation, you need to follow the crowd, and you need to be responsive, so that your website is seen on all the different platforms that are out there.”

VD: Very well said, Ryan.

RP: Alright. Well, on that bombshell of a note, I am going to thank you very much for your time, and I hope you have a wonderful vacation with your family this weekend.

VD: Well, you too. Happy Labor Day to everybody.

RP: Alright, take care.

About Ryan Perry

Ryan Perry has taken his 10+ years of business ownership and hands-on marketing skills and focused them on online marketing. In April of 2009, he started Simple Biz Support with an emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ryan is propelling local business websites to the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing resulting in increased market exposure and revenue for his clients using a variety of internet marketing tools including blogs, article submissions and video. Additionally, Ryan speaks and vlogs (video blogs) about internet marketing, educating business owners how to effectively use various SEO tools and techniques to promote their business on the internet. Ryan currently resides in Santa Rosa, CA. Connect with Ryan on Google+