Posts tagged CMS

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+

Ryan Perry Rohnert Park

Why You Need A CMS Based Website

Good morning, internet fans, it’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support in Rohnert Park, and it is Thursday morning, which means I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center based down in Petaluma, California. Good morning, Virginie!

VD: Good morning, Ryan. Good morning, everybody.

RP: Yes, yes, yes. Today, well, let’s first talk since this is only our second one with Virginie. Virginie specializes in website design, coding, she does really nice custom design websites and what we’re going to talk about today is CMS, and for those that aren’t familiar, CMS stands for Content Management System, and it is basically a way to easily update your website versus the really old school way of HTML. So, Virginie, if you could dive into CMS a little bit more and maybe… I’m sure a lot of our viewers have heard about WordPress or Joomla or Drupal, but tell us what CMS is, what the advantage is to an end user, and how difficult is it for somebody who’s not a techie such as a small business owner, to actually use to keep their website up to date.

VD: Alright, I’ll take it from there. So CMS has been around for quite a while now, they are not all created equal, so some of them have strengths and weaknesses. You mentioned the three big ones, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Again, they’ve come a long way in the last few years. Five years ago, you could only change certain items on your website, now with the newer CMS versions you can change pretty much every element on your site, including text, images, headers, footers, menus, you name it you can change it. There are also custom made CMS, there are many other platforms available. What’s the main benefit of a CMS is it gives the site owner the ability to change anything they want at any given time. It doesn’t get sick, it can be on Saturday morning, at their home, with a great idea for a new page, and they can easily add a new page into their CMS which automatically becomes live on their website, so there is no lost time and so forth.

RP: Right, now we probably should clarify that if you wanna create something, yes, it’s very easy to create a new page; however, the framework of the page is going to stay the same. So, within WordPress, I’m familiar with using WordPress, we have different themes and the theme controls the size of the header at the top, if it’s a one-column or a two or a three-column page. It controls the font, the style of the font, the color that we’re using and those type of things, so just to clarify for people that don’t know, what type of, if they wanna go in and create a new page, what is it that they can actually do when creating that new page.

VD: So you’re right, so another benefit of a CMS is it will keep intact the structure of the design of the standard page for your own website. So, you don’t have to worry about redesigning the overall structure, it’s already in place for you, all you have to focus on is adding your content and adding your images, and it will be placed into the frame of your website. That is true for every CMS. Now, if you have a more advanced CMS system for your site, you might be able to choose from different styles of pages based on what you want that new page to be for. For our clients, we like to give them one to four different styles to choose from. One might be a two-column layout, another one might be a slideshow layout, one might be a full-width layout webpage, and again based on what they need for this brand new page, they get to select which design works best for that particular page. It’s all premade for them. The focus, again, is adding text and images.

RP: Okay, perfect, now when you say “it’s all premade”, so are you just working off a template that you mentioned three to four different designs? So, do you just have three to four base designs that are just cookie cutter, that if I’m interested in creating a new identity for my business, you’re saying I only have four options to choose from?

VD: No, no, no, it’s all based on that individual page, website. So if your website is a blue website with rounded corners and so forth, your pages will have the same look, the same look and feel. In WordPress, they call it a “theme“. But again, people sometimes worry about, “Well, I can create a page but I don’t know how to design it.” Well, you don’t have to worry so much about the design portion of it, you just have to worry about the content, and the content will be placed within the design. I’d be happy to share my screen and show you.

RP: Yeah, that’d be great, I think the important thing to note is that, and I think when it comes from the WordPress site, a lot of people feel that they have to buy a premade theme that has a particular style already built in, and they don’t… I think a lot of people don’t recognize that there’s… You can create a custom website, 100% custom, with CMS. So, it doesn’t have to come from a templated theme.

VD: That’s true, yes, they can change their theme as they please. Now not all themes are compatible, that’s true with all the main platforms, so you just have to get the help of an experienced webmaster to let you know, okay, so if you want a new theme is it going to work with a version you have and all the tools and gadgets you have on your site?

RP: Right, okay, and so what is it that we’re looking at here on your screen?

VD: Are you seeing my screen?

RP: Yes.

VD: Okay, so this is a standard Content Management System we’ve created for a new client. We’re launching their website in a couple of days. And as you can see, it looks very clean. On the left, you will see different menus. And I’ll just give you a quick run-through, just to again, give you an appreciation of what a CMS can do for you and your company. So, on our particular CMS here, we have accounts detail. We have manage menus. So for instance, in this category… For manage menus, those are your navigation bar at the top of your website. In any CMS, you’ll be able to add a new menu. For instance, you will click “menu”, we’ll call it “test,” and then it might go to the FAQ page.

VD: So, you will write the name of your title. Your right word needs to go to when people click on that brand new title and then you will save. And if it’s a good CMS, it gives you the ability to click and drag it. So for instance, I am going to click and drag it right below the homepage. So, let’s take a look at this website. As you can see, it just got added in second position. This is my test going to the FAQ page. Again, a good CMS will give you the ability to activate or deactivate any element of your website, and by this, we mean when it’s active, it’s a new database, but it’s also visible to your visitors. When it’s deactivated, so I am going to turn it red by a simple click, what it means, it is still in the database but now it’s no longer visible to your visitors.

VD: So, that is a great tool for… For instance, FAQs or photo galleries, or slide show. Maybe you have a custom-made homepage slide about Christmas, “Merry Christmas, everybody.” When January comes along, you don’t want to necessarily delete it because you want to use it every year, you really like that slide, you just deactivate it until you need it again.

RP: Oh, okay. Very cool.

VD: So this is a very nifty tool.

RP: Yeah. The other thing I’m thinking about is people like myself, I am very visual based. I could never create a website from scratch because I need to visually see what I am working on. But if I already had a template in place, then I had an idea, I could actually go ahead, put my content, put my pictures, make it live, and view it, and then if I didn’t like it, I could real easy just turn that switch off, not lose all the information that I created, but just simply exclude it, so the public is not able to see it while I am still testing.

VD: Yes. So that’s what a CMS should be able to do for you. You mentioned able to see it, so preview function should be included in your CMS. If it is not, you should see if there’s an upgrade available. So, this is for this particular client in that particular site. You could actually click “preview” and take a look at what the page looks like. So, this here is actually a preview of that page. So, I could make changes and take a look at the word “mold,” maybe I want to capitalize it, then save it and take a look at the preview. And then you can close your preview and you can click “update” to confirm your change.

RP: Okay. Now, what was it… What was it that you went into? Because we were looking at the menu and then all of a sudden, we saw an actual webpage.

VD: Sure. [chuckle] Yes. So, there are many different sections. We like to customize the CMS based on the specific need of our clients, so if it’s restaurant chains, there will be a lot of the menu-handling functions. For these particular clients, we have a homepage. We have very specific sections of a homepage to keep it easy for them. So, we didn’t want them to open their main homepage and have to edit all at once. We give them the ability to add a slide. As you can see, you can add slide. Same system. You can add, delete, deactivate, activate. Where I was, was in the standout pages of this client. So, let’s take a look at it. If I wanted to add a new page for this, again, specific client, I will click “new”. And what we like to give people and your CMS should be able to provide that as well, as meta tags. So, those are tags for your search engine box. It’s not visible to your visitors, yet they are very important for your search engine optimization.

RP: Right.

VD: So, we’re just going to call this one “Ryan.” And I can put, “Ryan is the best.” That would be my page title. Now that’s a meta title for the search button, not the page title per se. And we’ll say… We’ll put, “Hello, how are you?” could be our meta tag description. Keywords would be “Ryan,” “Ryan Perry.” Main title line is “A Page for Ryan.” And below here, we have created different function. Again, for this client, we give them the ability to click a default right column. So if they were to create 20 pages, and we didn’t want to edit… Let me step back a few seconds. So, this particular page has a two-third, one-third layout, so the main body of the page takes about two-third of the page and on the right hand side.

RP: Can you show us on that other tab, so we can actually see what you’re referring to.

VD: Let’s take a look at their fire-damage page. Two-third, one-third. So, this right column is what we call a “default right column”. If they don’t feel like writing anything specific for this page but you still want something nice, they just click the default, and this default right column will appear. And if they ever need to change their phone number or the text, they do it in the default right column section, and it will propagate throughout the entire pages that are using that default.

RP: Okay. So again, this is one, going back to what CMS is, the advantages of CMS for an end user is really, once you have your core structure in place, really being able to quickly and easily create new content that… And I think that looks custom because if you had multiple right columns, that one-third column, you could have a couple of different looks depending on… Well, I’m trying to think of an example or maybe you want a testimonial in there, versus call box, versus awards and services, but each right column might be appropriate for five pages, and as your creating those five pages, you just click the appropriate column. And that’s the power of CMS, is allowing you to do that with just simply clicking a button versus going “Okay, I have to paste this picture in. I gotta type in this text again. I gotta do the spacing. I gotta choose the right font.” You gotta worry about CSS and if the end user doesn’t know what CSS is, that’s okay because you don’t wanna know what CSS is. You wanna leave it up to a professional such as Virginie. And that, to me, is the real power of what a CMS database will do.

VD: Yes. That’s the beauty of it. It gives full control again to the site owner to do whatever they want, whenever they need to. Well, let’s create Ryan’s page. I just added some lorem ipsum, this is Latin word we use as placeholder. If I click “add” and let’s think… I’m going to click on Ryan’s page here. As you can see, this is “A Page for Ryan”. It has “Ryan is the best” at the top, that’s the meta title. It has “A Page for Ryan” the title and just the simple text, which could have been styled, of course, bolded, centered, made bigger. And on the right, you can see my default right column.

RP: All right. Now let me… Let’s just for shits and giggles, and we’re running out of time, but why don’t you show us how easy it is to change that right column. I’m assuming you have another design?

VD: Yes. Again, it’s specific to this client. If I go to my next pages, there is a default right column section and I will click here and I will say… I’m just going to add the word “test” here. So, this particular editor works very much like Word document, so that’s why we use it, so people are familiar with it. You can center, bold. You can add images, links. You name it, it can be done. You can actually copy and paste from Word documents, so you can prepare all of your content ahead of time and simply paste it in your CMS, save it, and you’re done. So let me click “update”. It’s being updated. And here, you can see the word “test” as being added.

RP: Right. Very cool. So, that is the power of CMS. Hopefully, if you, as an end user, are looking for a new website, unless you have a really high end, technical site… I don’t even know if there… Can you actually think of a reason why somebody would need a straight HTML site these days, Virginie?

VD: No. Well…

RP: Okay.

VD: Maybe… Yeah, no. One thing they do want to make sure is their CMS is not going against their SEO efforts. So they want to make sure they’re using a newer version CMS, not something they are recycling from five years ago.

RP: Right. And the key thing is, end users, if you’re looking to build a new website, not only understand that it should be built with a CSS or… A CMS, excuse me, is also check out the different platforms. I personally am a big fan of WordPress. Other people are big fan of Drupal. And for simple small websites, I find Drupal to be horribly complicated, and the big issue is, is that you, as an end user, are not able to understand and be able to use the CMS, then you are directly tied to your webmaster to make any changes and that really negates the purpose of having the CMS. One of the nice things that Virginie does is… That she talked about is she customizes the CMS for the client’s specific needs. That way, we make it as easy and as simple to update the page, so. And again, if you wake up on a Saturday morning with a bright idea, you can log into the computer, even on your iPad and make those updates, versus having to type out an email, send it off to your webmaster, get financial approval, or “Jeez, how much is that gonna cost?” You can just take care of it yourself.

VD: Yes. That’s the beauty of it. We don’t build any websites without a CMS. You want a webmaster that is looking out for your interest. And for us here, we’re not interested in making
changes for you. We want you to give you the tools for you to do it. We’re a web development company, not a web editing company. So, just be careful if someone is trying to sell you a website that doesn’t come with a CMS. In 2014, that’s simply ridiculous to have one without a CMS.

RP: Yeah. Perfect. Alright, Virginie, it is that time. I’m gonna let you go. Thank you much for your time this morning, greatly appreciate it.

VD: Well, bye-bye.

RP: Alright, take care, and we’ll be talking to you next week.

VD: Alright.

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+