Posts tagged Business Website Center

Email Marketing Software: Episode II

Hey. Good morning, Internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. It’s Thursday, it’s Internet Marketing Thursday, therefore, I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center in Petaluma, and yes Virginie, I forgot my name, too. So I just put it down there at the bottom of the screen. So feel free as you’re talking, to click your buttons and put your name in there.

Virginie Dorn: Oh I can’t find it. Anyway, my name is Virginie. I’m glad to be on board with you today. How are you?

RP: I’m doing wonderful. It must be sunny outside ’cause the window blinds are open. Well, yours are open, not mine.

VD: Can’t complain, little bit of rain last night, but now it’s nice and clear.

RP: Yes. It should be a beautiful day. Last week, we talked… Specifically, we really talked about MailChimp and Constant Contact. I think we were pretty much in agreement that MailChimp was… Out of those two, MailChimp was kind of the preferred way of going for the basic user. And then, we also talked about some advanced systems such as Infusionsoft which is much more than just email automation. And the other thing that we talked about was actually creating your own custom email program much like MailChimp where you actually have a template, you can put information in, you can select different databases on who you want to send emails out to.

And I think a lot of times, any business owner, regardless of how big or small your business is, whenever you hear custom, you automatically think “Ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching. And this is really going to cost me a lot of money and therefore it’s not affordable.” And so we were talking off air and the fact is it sounds like it’s very affordable.

What that price point is or where the break-even point is is going to really be dependent on each company depending on how many people they have, how many times they send emails. But if you have thousands and thousands of emails that you’re sending out on a monthly basis, the basic plans for MailChimp or Constant Contact go from very inexpensive in the beginning, 20 bucks a month or so, to a couple of hundred dollars, to $500, $1,000. So at some point, it does become cost-effective to actually build your own email system. So why don’t you talk about that a little bit since it’s something that you’ve done for clients yourself?

VD: Yes. Having a custom email marketing campaign inside your own content management system is a great option for people who already have a database in their CMS. And by this, I mean, maybe they run a membership website. So they have thousands and thousands of members or they have an e-commerce website, so they have lots of buyers that have created accounts in order to purchase items on their site. So that database is on that website it’s hosting and also in their content management system. They don’t have to go elsewhere and update that contact list. They can stay with their own website, log in, and send an email directly from their own server.

What works well is that… Because it’s, again, you don’t have to update the data, the data is as fresh as it can be ’cause you’re on your own CMS, is you can customize it any way you want. You can have your programmer customize a template that looks identical to your website. You can customize maybe a different types of campaign per season and then it’s easy for you to just go there, open a template that you like that looks just like your website, fill in the fields, and decide who to send that email to based on your database. Maybe anybody that bought shoes and they also bought T-shirts. So you could check mark the little categories you want and it will email only those individuals.

RP: Okay. Now because I’m sure scared half the audience out there when I mentioned custom, and everybody’s going, “Oh, so it’s going to be horribly expensive,” can you give us just like a general ballpark range of what an email system, a custom email system might run?

VD: Sure. Typically you’re looking at about $3,000 for a standard email campaign system integrated into your website. Thus assuming you have a strong website with new code. I mean, if you’re looking at an old site that was done 10 years ago, then your Webmaster will have to rebuild the website to support that type of technology. So it again, depends on the age of your website. But $3,000 gives you something you get to own. It doesn’t have any maintenance fees, it’s yours to keep. It becomes an asset for your company as well, so whenever you want a business loan your website with that new functionality has a value. And I’ve had clients use their website as an asset for their company therefore being able to get the larger business loans, just as a site note.

But if you’re doing for instance, I don’t know, three… Let’s say you have 300,000 members. And it could be a simple membership website that has lots of members. If you going with MailChimp which is one of the most affordable and easy-to-use, third-party email system, we’re still looking at $1500 a month to have that many subscribers. So $1500 a month, after two or three months, you have paid for the cost of something that you won’t have to pay again for.

RP: Right.

VD: And that programming is good for many, many years especially if it’s done well.

RP: Sure. And if you look at it even from the lower end, if you’re paying $100, a lot of times, people look at return on investment within two to three years. If I can justify paying for that and I can recoup it, and I’m going to be in the business a long time. Even at a $100, if you’re paying $100 a month, in three years that’s $3600. It’s paid for itself. If you’re paying a $150, $200, that time frame for that return on investment is very quick.

So that’s the part I think that really surprised me and it’s one of those things, you just assume that Constant Contact who has this huge database, this huge company, is going to be able to keep the cost down for you and that it would be prohibitively expensive to have something custom done. And I think the other thing that’s important as you said is that once the code, the base code is built, and you’ve got a couple of templates made, there really isn’t any maintenance that needs to be done to it. So, there isn’t really any ongoing cost.

And then of course, my other concern was, it’s like, Let’s say I’m sending out 10,000 emails or even just 5000 emails every single month. With spam laws, with all those other issues, is your hosting company going to allow you to send that type of volume or they’re going to black flag you and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You are obviously spamming because you are sending out so many emails out of your account.” So, what’s kinda the rules I guess, when it comes to how many emails you can send and what your hosting company will allow you to do?

VD: It’s a great question. It depends on your hosting provider. If you have someone like Good ID or HostGator, typically on their cPanel server, which are the newer servers, they average about 500 emails per hour when they like to process if you are on a shared account. So, those are usually the very cheap hosting $8 or less per month. It’s not like it’s going to stop you, so if you have 10,000 emails to send, it’s just going to send 500 at a time every hour until it’s done. So you are not restricted. So, if you have a large database, it might take you a few days, but it’s not a bad idea. You don’t want everybody hitting your website anyway, at the same time.

And even MailChimp and Constant Contact, don’t send all your email at once. You can actually see the progress if you’re on their dashboard. It will show your files unsent and then nothing and then two files unsent. It’s showing you that they’re not doing it right at the same second because their server can’t even handle that.

So Again, it depends on your server. If you are a very large company and you can afford your own dedicated server, you can do a digital or virtual server with again, Good ID, Bluehost, any of those companies offer host services and then make dedicated server much more affordable. They range from a 100 to 400 a month and with that kind of servers, you pretty much have no limit to what you can do. It’s like you’re owning your own computer with a hosting company. Of course, it has to be set up by an IT person, but once you are set, it’s done. Still would be more affordable then paying a third-party email campaign company.

RP: Right, and that 100 to 400 that you talked about, that’s not just for an email campaign, that’s also for hosting your website and if you are generating that type of volume through email, you’d probably have a lot of visitors going to your website. So, you are going to need a more robust server, anyhow for your website, right?

VD: Yes. Otherwise, your hosting company is going to flag you or charge you more for bandwidth or if it don’t do that’s going to slow down your website. So, the 1000th person on the site is going to be stuck, the server slowdown. So. Yeah. At that level, you need your own dedicated server and the company that we’re referring to, they would know that too.

RP: Okay. Let’s shift gears a little bit from some of the technical backend stuff to the actual end-user interface. When you are building out something custom, you need to create a custom template, I’m assuming that’s part of the initial cost. Obviously, people want different templates, maybe seasonal type of templates, something for Christmas, something for fall, all that can be added on for an additional cost. It really isn’t that much more, but from the actual end-user’s interface, they’re going to log in and… I’m used to Constant Contact, MailChimp that backend. So, It’s just a matter of filing out the title, filing out the body and then picking which database you want to mail to. Is it that simple?

VD: Yes. It’s as simple as the site owner wants it to be. For people when sending a newsletter for instance, we like to create a pre-made newsletter template and all they have to do is fill out the field; the titles, this is where you put a photo, this is where you put text, this is where you put testimonial. It’s just a bunch of field boxes the site owner can fill up very easily. They can preview it, or we can even add a function that will automatically PDF that new email template. So, you can send the email that looks like your regular monthly newsletter, but at the same time you can generate a PDF from your CMS, that automatically goes into a certain landing page that archives all the newsletter.

VD: So, that’s one extra step Custom Programmer could do for you, so you can just… Very simple, everything is done for you. All you have to do is enter the content of your newsletter and then select who you want to send it to. Do you want to send it to all your active members? Do you want to send it to past members, to try to entice them back into your system? So, it’s very cool. It has no limit to what it can do. It’s based on what the site owners wants and what the business goal is.

RP: Right. And then speaking of custom programming and those type of things, what about data merge for, say websites that are actually selling a product, and maybe they just bought a black pair of shoes. Is there a way of data merging something that would send an email out that would say, “Hey, thanks for buying your black pair of shoes, by the way, we just got this new pair of black shoes in today”?

VD: Yes. So if you have a custom email campaign inside your own CMS, you don’t even need to merge any data, it’s automatically done for you. When you use MailChimp, you will have to tell it to put “Dear Joe”, mail merge the email, mail merge maybe, you’re sending user name and password to all your members, but in your constant, your own CMS, whatever mail merge you want is already in place. Does that make sense? But you could create…

RP: Yeah, well, ’cause you’re saying that the database, your MailChimp, you’re in a separate database from your website that you’re collecting information in. By combining those two together, now, what I want to know is, if let’s say, I’m selling shoes, one, I should be able to… There’s that default email that says, “Hey Betty, thanks for buying your black pair of shoes, they’re on their way.” But what if I get a new shipment of black shoes that are similar to these other black shoes that I’ve been selling and I go, “Hey, I want to send and email out to everybody that’s bought this style of black shoes because I think they’re going to like this new one.” So we can mail merge, or database merge, those two together, so that the email only goes to… Let’s say in the last six months or year or whatever it is.

VD: Yes, it’s all possible. So, “Dear Susie, thank you for buying the boots. Just to let you know we have a new style of sandals available for you,” and yes absolutely possible. Again the same functions that MailChimp and Constant Contact have, you can have in your own content management system.

RP: Right and I think the key thing there, though, is because the database is all in one place now, it’s very easy to access that information. There’s no export/import or anything like that. Alright, perfect. Alright, well very good. If people have questions, interests, comments about how to build, create, a custom email program, what’s the best way of getting a hold of you, Virginie?

VD: Well they can email us 24/7, so the email is info, I-N-F-O, at Petaluma website dot com. Petaluma is the town we’re in, P-E-T-A-L-U-M-A, website, W-E-B-S-I-T-E, or they can call us, it’s Pacific Standard Time here, so it’s 707-794-9999, and we’ll be happy to help.

RP: Alright Virginie. Well, that is our time for today. As always I appreciate your time and I think a lot of people if they understood the cost value of actually integrating their own email system into their website would be very interested in doing so. I can just see if you’re spending $100 or more a month, it seems like it would be a smart idea to at least consider.

VD: Yes.

RP: Alright, well have a great day, it’s always a pleasure. Take care.

VD: Thank you, bye.

RP: Bye.

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+