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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who needs a Yahoo! ecommerce website developer anyways?!

By: Brandi Pabian

Well, to be honest, you do. Industry standards are always changing, and you may fall through the cracks if you don’t stay up to date with what consumers want. Yahoo! Ecommerce website developers can help you create your desired look, feel and features as well as keep you up to date on industry standards, all of which help to increase conversion rates and thus your sales.

Ask yourself some crucial questions about your current website:

Have you looked really closely at your site lately? Does it portray your company's essence? Is it user-friendly? Are you sure about that? When is the last time you caught up on today's standard of website design? I'm sure your site is wonderful. If it wasn't, would you be making the sales that you do?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it may be time to inquire about a Yahoo! Ecommerce store, and see if it is right for you.

The Yahoo! Store Ecommerce platform is organized and user friendly. It is easy to manage your items, maintain your pages and process your orders. As with most things in this world, there is always room for improvement! A clever, sneaky and curious website designer went behind the scenes of a simple, normal Yahoo! store and customized it to be just a bit better. More and more designers started doing the same thing and before you knew it - WOOHOO! - custom Yahoo! Stores were created. Yahoo! customized stores allow you to express your creativity, portray an individualized feeling and increases the user-friendliness of your website. In essence, a customized Yahoo! store becomes more like the individual you and your company are.

SHOW YOUR CREATIVITY
The Yahoo! Ecommerce platform is used by many world-wide. They have approximately 24 different "themes" that you can choose from when designing your own site. Now imagine that 1,000,000 people have all chosen a Yahoo! store with a standard template (you being one of them). How many people of those 1 million will choose the exact same template as yours? Most likely, it would be quite a few. Customers will get bored with seeing the same repetitious layouts on all these sites, because they want variety and personalization. Your Developer will help you express your creativity through imaginative design. The Developer can move bits and pieces of the standard templates to other areas of the store. Instead of the search box being directly under the store logo, we can move it to the upper right hand corner of the header. Instead of showing just one picture on the homepage, we can display many. Our company (yes, we have to put a plug in for us) have both graphic designers and website developers that can get the store to display your creativity.

CONVEY YOUR FEEL
Everyone is different. Every company has an essence or, "feel" about them that they try to convey. With a professional website developer, we can help you choose colors, layout and images to get the feeling your company is looking to portray. If you are a skin care company, you may want a soft, breezy, beautiful website to show an essence of beauty and cleanliness. If you are a skateboard company, you may want to show a more fun, rugged side of your personality, with darker colors mixed among bright colors. A professional website designer, along with a creative graphics designer, can get this done for you. They will personalize your site to show your customers a company that will provide them with excellent products and be attentive to their need to do business with a site they can trust. Just like having a physical store, you would want your store to portray who you are and what you do, and your website should be no different.


ADD CUSTOMIZED FEATURES
Okay, so now you have a beautiful looking site that shows your creativity and personality, but it doesn't have some of the necessary features your customers may want to use. What if you need to show more than two pictures for a product? What if the conventional way the Yahoo! store enlarges your images isn't good enough? What if you need extra text at the bottom of the site? A professional website developer can add in these extra features for you. They can also suggest additional features that, through testing, have proven to be more effective at converting sales.

STAY UP-TO-DATE ONLINE
The industry standards for building Yahoo! stores are always changing. When did you open your website? When was your last redesign? Are you sure you're using the correct coding to make the most out of your business online? Quite frankly, you run a successful online store; you have employees to run, bills to pay, inventory to order and books to keep. Do you really have the time it takes to keep up with changing technology? Probably not, but that's what designers are for. We learn, create and update today's website standards on a daily basis. That's what we get paid for and we love seeing your store successfully upgraded to the newest level.

So, by now, you should be convinced that you need a website developer for your Yahoo! store because we can customize your store to your needs, implement features that your customers need and we take off some of the pressure of being current and up to date. These are just a few of the reason why you may need a website developer for your store, so why don't you go ahead and give us a call and we can speak more directly about your needs and determine what would really make your website stand out against the world.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you build it, will they come?

By: Karl Ribas

Against popular belief and one 1989 film staring Kevin Costner, getting thousands of online shoppers to eagerly spend their hard earned money on your products and services is going to take much more than just creating a website. Granted, website development is extremely important, if not the most, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, there is certainly more to the e-commerce puzzle than simply creating a good looking website, and small business owners need to be aware of this.

Building a successful online presence will require utilizing a combination of online marketing channels, such as search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, email marketing, and the ever popular social media marketing to name a few. These channels, when used properly and in accordance with a company’s online business goals, can effectively generate a mass amount of traffic to a website thereby boosting online sales. How do these marketing channels work exactly? Allow me to explain.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it is commonly referred to as, is the process of getting one’s website to rank organically in the search engines for relevant keyword phrases.

Why is ranking important?: When a business’ potential customers search on Google or Yahoo! for products and services it provides, showing at or near the top of a search engine will likely lead to an increase in website exposure, traffic, and more importantly sales.

How does SEO work?: Using a combination of on and off-page tactics, SEO marketers focus on 3 key factors: 1) getting search engine crawlers to first locate their website, 2) getting search engines to index their website, and 3) getting search engines to rank their website for a very specific set of keywords.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click, also known as PPC, is the process of creating textual listings (ads) and getting them to appear in the search engines for relevant keyword phrases.

Why is ranking important?: For exactly the same reasons as SEO, online businesses can drive targeted exposure, traffic, and revenue to their websites by simply appearing in major search engines for keywords most likely to be used by their customers.

How does PPC work?: Pay Per Click is setup very similar to traditional advertising models in that website owners must pay for the privilege of having their ad listings appear in the search engines. Costs and positioning are determined by a series of auction-style bidding parameters, as well as several uncontrollable factors. An advertiser’s primary focus is to create targeted messaging, manage multiple keyword buys, and maintain bids and costs according to one’s own budget.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is the process of sending targeted email messaging to a group of pre-qualified individuals.

Why is Email Marketing effective?: Email Marketing works because businesses are given permission from their customers and other industry followers to engage them with relevant and timely information via email, such as product updates and sales promotions. Sending targeted emails to targeted groups of buyers and followers will likely lead to an increase in additional website revenue.

How does Email Marketing work?: While using a combination of strategies and tools, email marketers have 2 primary tasks at hand: 1) creating and maintaining a subscription list of qualified subscribers, and 2) creating and sending highly relevant and visually pleasing email campaigns to subscribers.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social Media Marketing, a slightly new and different animal altogether, is the process of using social media platforms to engage both new and current customers.

Why is SMM effective?: Social Marketing is based on the same key principle that makes Email Marketing so effective by having permission to engage customers directly. Being able to connect directly with targeted groups of buyers and industry followers for free has the potential to drive traffic and sales to your website.

How does SMM work?: Social marketers traditionally begin their efforts by first deciding which social media platform to use - Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Once this has been established, social marketers will proceed with building and maintaining a community of friends and followers and then creating and publishing targeted messaging unique to each platform.

Moving forward, and to recap my original thought, simply having a website isn’t enough to exceed online. Small business owners need to be aware of this fact, and be willing to invest both time and money into some form of online marketing.

If you have questions pertaining to your business’ website marketing initiatives or would like to know how All Web Promotion can help you to achieve your online goals, please feel free to contact us. Our marketing specialists will be glad help.

Friday, July 9, 2010

All Web Email joins EMAPP and saves a puppy

Every time you buy an email list... a puppy dies!

Once again, the email marketing industry has remained strong in it's efforts to convince people that don't know any better that you can not buy email lists. Last week somebody tried to get away with publishing an article titled "How to avoid getting swindled (when buying) your email lists". Like a scent hound in pursuit, John Caldwell of Red Pill Email immediately lept into action with colorful precision and clearly explained in response to the article how you can not puchase email lists. The article was ultimately pulled from the website 4 1/2 hours later with no explaination - scorned author clearly in the dog house, but not before John made a copy that you can read in full HERE.

This week marks the birth of a new organization with a mission to help fight the misconception that a list of email addresses constitutes something worth paying for. Spearheaded by the good folks at The Email Guide, the "Email Marketers Association for Puppy Protection" will continue to educate marketers tempted at the prospect of buying a list of email addresses from a shady sales people. Read more about EMAPP, watch the video of Spot the puppy on his way to the big kennel in the sky and learn how you can help save more innocent puppies by helping to stamp out the myth that you can buy an email list. CLICK HERE

In the meantime, here are five simple reasons why you cannot buy an email list.
  1. Email marketing is permission based and you cannot buy or sell someone elses permission.
  2. No reputable company will actually GIVE you physical posession of an email list.
  3. An email list, like a customer list, is a company's most valuable asset and no company will sell you their most valuable asset.
  4. Sending your message to a list of unknown email addresses is the fastest way to get ALL of your email communications blocked by the ISPs and corporate spam filters.
  5. Every time you buy an email list... a puppy dies!

Thank you!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

AllWebEmail Among the First to Adopt eec’s New Email Marketing Standards

Oglesby, IL (PRWEB) July 1, 2010 -- In an effort to standardize the terms and definitions used in measuring email marketing reporting and provide consistent email metrics throughout the industry, the Email Experience Council of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA/eec) has introduced a list of eight email marketing measurement standards. AllWebEmail was among the first of two email service providers to fully adopt these new reporting standards. The other company to immediately adopt the eec’s email measurement standards is Email Transmit.

“We are delighted to be among the first to adopt these new standards and believe strongly that only when the email industry shares a common set of measurement standards will email marketers be able to compare ‘apples to apples’ when considering the performance of one service provider against another, erasing any confusion or clouding of actual results,” said Peter Roebuck, President of AllWebEmail.

One of the major hurdles that email marketers face today and in previous years is a lack of consistent standards for measuring the success of email campaigns. Email marketers are driven by measurement, but email measurement metrics are not standardized across the industry.

With no industry standards for measuring email campaigns, email marketing providers are left to define commonly used metrics like Accepted, Render and Click-through any way they chose to manipulate numbers to support their own advantage verses the needs of the actual marketer/customer.

"Since we decided to incorporate the new reporting metrics alongside our original metrics, our clients have not only enjoyed a smooth transition to the new standards but are now starting to ask smart questions about how they can use these new metrics to make more informed email marketing decisions. This has turned out to be more of a feature upgrade for our clients than a compliance upgrade for us. Bonus!" says Roebuck.

In March 2010, the DMA/eec’s Measurement Accuracy Roundtable finalized a two year effort which led to the creation of a set of standardized metrics for industry adoption. The roundtable’s primary focus was to create clearly defined definitions for each of the major measuring metrics for the sole purpose of bettering the email marketing industry as a whole.

“Industry standard metrics is so foundational that many marketers don’t even think to ask if an open is always an open or if delivered doesn’t mean reaching the inbox. AllWebEmail is leading the industry in making it very clear what each number means, and adopting standards that the industry voted to support. Their clients are the winners!” says eec Measurement Accuracy Roundtable vice-chair and Return Path, Inc. VP of Global Market Development; Stephanie Miller.


DMA/eec’s Measurement Accuracy Roundtable Seal

Service providers that adopt and conform to the eec’s email marketing measurement standards will be given an official seal to display on their web site and marketing materials. The purpose of the seal is to alert email marketers and other industry followers of the service provider’s commitment to industry standards for fair and accurate measurement of email metrics for all. The seal provides a visual cue to website visitors, so customers and potential customers alike can identify providers using the standards easily when making vendor choices.

"I believe in this standard because it provides four main benefits to the email marketers. It improves testing validity by limiting environmental variance, improves industry benchmarking through increased data conformity, improves internal reporting for benchmarking by easing the transition between vendors and finally use of the standards will normalize data across the industry, a key assumption required for any statistical analysis", said eec Measurement Accuracy Roundtable co-chair Luke Glasner of Glasner Consulting.

At the time of this release, 11 additional email service providers, including Alterian; BlueHornet; Blue Sky Factory; Bronto Software; Cooler Email; Green Arrow; Office Autopilot; Send Pepper; Silverpop; SubscriberMail; and YesMail have committed to using the eec’s new email measurement standards within the next six months. Full details about participation and an application form are available for other service providers on the eec website, http://www.emailexperience.org/.

About AllWebEmail

AllWebEmail, a division of All Web Promotion, Inc., is a leading email marketing service provider helping businesses for over 10 years to use email to effectively communicate with their customers. The company is managed by Peter Roebuck with help from partner, and brother, Michael Roebuck and has offices located in Oglesby, Illinois and Point of Rocks, Maryland.

AllWebEmail is an active member of the Email Experience Council (eec), an advocate for defining email standards and best practices, and has partnered with Return Path, Inc., a leading email deliverability authority.

For more information on AllWebEmail, their services, and role they play within the email marketing industry, please call 877-932-7766, or visit http://www.allwebemail.com/.

About the Email Experience Council (eec)

The Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council is a global professional organization that strives to enhance the image of email marketing and communications, while celebrating and actively advocating its critical importance in business and its ROI value.

We are committed to regularly conducting a broad series of initiatives for a variety of organizations that highlight the positive impact and importance of email as a marketing tool, communications vehicle and branding device. Additionally, eec members are setting the standards for email through our Member Roundtables. The members who belong to our organization are representatives of other trade organizations, agencies, advertisers, technology partners, clients and companies focused on the potential of email marketing via mobile and other digital devices. We encourage you to become part of the eec at http://www.emailexperience.org/member-center/why-join-eec.

About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

The Direct Marketing Association (http://www.the-dma.org/) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.

In 2009, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $149.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.3% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.783 trillion in incremental sales. In 2009, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total US gross domestic product. Also in 2009, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.9 million US jobs.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

How we rank: Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide, 2010

Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide, 2010 by Red Pill Email (John Caldwell)

All Web Email was included among 23 other email vendors in last month's in-depth review by a seasoned independent and hands-on email marketer; John Caldwell. Email vendors were asked 127 questions in 9 different categories with each of the 24 participants capabilities listed side-by-side in easy to read charts and graphs. Vendors range from small market vendors to high volume MTAs. The purpose of this guide is to provide marketers a clear, concise and independent review of email vendor features and capabilities to help them locate a new or replacement provider. View the Guide's Table of Contents HERE. Read more about the Guide and buy your copy HERE.

How All Web Email stacks up against the competition

All Web Email was listed #1...in each of the 15 'alphabetically' listed tables. Kidding aside, we were thrilled to be considered for such an in-depth review but standing side-by-side with large deep-pocket peers like Exact Target, Silverpop, PowerMTA and many others, we were anxious to see the results and secretly hoped we hadn't shot ourselves in the foot for being scrutinized in such a rigorous comparison. In the end, we are very pleased with the results. We offer clear advantages in some areas and while there is room for improvement in several categories, none of these areas affect our typical client's marketing objectives. Phew!

The guide is clearly "Features & Functions" heavy and explores virtually all technical areas of interest to email marketers. While it can't possibly highlight all of the experiences, ethics, capitalization or passion that are also considered when evaluating a new business relationship, if you've done your homework and have a relatively clear idea what your email marketing requirements are, this guide will help you arrive at a short list of contenders very quickly.

The following lists areas we do well in, and areas that we feel could stand improvement. In an environment of nearly constant change, this guide will serve as a valuable tool to All Web Email as we map out our plan for the next rounds of new features and improvements.


Our Strengths

  • Full service or a la carte combination of services.
  • Support for all commonly accepted authentication schemes.
  • Data and data tables (control of table and index structures, SQL queries, User-defined fields).
  • Strong standard deliverability & list hygiene capabilities.
  • Rendering tools. While not integrated into our systems, we regularly use Return Path's Campaign Preview tool to test rendering among the top email clients.
  • Redundant list seeding using both Return Path's Delivery Monitor and GreenArrow's Monitor programs.
  • Training & Support (we do offer on-site and video-on-demand support so we sold ourselves short here).
  • Not listed specifically in the guide as a capability or feature, but among our core and unique strengths is software customization. Our systems are 100% customizable and we specialize in providing custom solutions to marketing requirements not available "out of the box".

Our Weaknesses

  • No Self Service option. Although our systems support self service, we have chosen to position ourselves as an extension of our client's marketing departments rather than just the email delivery tool.
  • Our custom content is driven by custom field variables and not by defined sets of rules.
  • No support for SMS/Text messaging.
  • We offer automatically triggered messages based on subscription date, previous emails rendered and links clicked. However, this could be more robust.
  • No directly integrated support for analytics programs like Google Analytics, Omniture or Coremetrics.
  • No CRM Integration.
  • Reporting - With the steadily increasing sophistication of email marketers, the demands placed on reporting systems never end. While we're always looking for ways to enhance reporting and provide our customers with actionable data, there is always room for improvement. Last month, All Web Email officially became one of the first ESPs to fully implement the reporting standards set forth by the Email Experience Council's Email Measurement Accuracy round table. The purpose of these standards is to provide a uniform framework for the reporting of email metrics across all Email Service Providers to facilitate comparing results from multiple ESPs and results from other direct marketing activities. Click HERE to learn more about these standardized email marketing terms and definitions.

Our Next Steps

Apart from the usual ongoing improvements to infrastructure, personnel, training and education, the following software system improvements are being planned for the coming months.

  • Incorporate dynamic content based on statistical analysis using a third party solution like 8seconds.net or tools developed in-house.
  • Encrypting communications between client and server (ex. secure importing & exporting of mailing lists).
  • More reporting improvements...then some more.
  • Google Analytics integration.
  • Support for sending SMS messages to mobile phones.
  • Consider option to integrate third party suppression list.

What we learned

  • All Web Email deserves to be included in Red Pill Email's "Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide" based on our relative strength across many areas.
  • Email marketers should select their email service provider based on their capabilities and not their market share.
  • The other 23 ESPs reviewed will likely be using this guide as a tool to map out areas to gain some competitive advantage between now and release of the 2nd Edition of the Guide.

To see exactly how All Web Email compares with 23 other email vendors in 127 different ways across 9 areas of competence, read more about the guide and get yours HERE.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

TEST RESULTS: How to choose the best subject line

Nobody can read your email without first opening it, right? Your name and subject line are the only things a recipient sees while making their decision to open or delete your email. ISPs are also using user engagement metrics such as opens, clicks and forwards while making their decision to deliver your email to the recipient's inbox, bulk folder or simply ignore it. Low engagement can lead to poor deliverability.

A couple months ago we wrote an article about choosing email subjects that will convince the recipient to open it and see what's inside. You can see how we selected the subject lines by reading the original article HERE. In summary, we were using the Google Adwords Keyword and Wonder Wheel tools to help us choose words in our subject line based on actual Google search terms verses the subject line proposed by the marketing department. While we did achieve our goal of increasing the open rate, the rest of the test results were a total surprise.

Subject Lines Tested

Marketing Team: Help for your Age Spots, Melasma, Hyperpigmentation

Google Tools: Removing age spots with home remedies

Emails were delivered as an even 50/50 split to 14,000 subscribers and estimated Inbox deliverability for both tests were identical as measured by Return Path's Mailbox Monitor tool. Everything except for the subject lines was identical. Here are the Google subject line numbers.

13.25% HIGHER open rate (hurray!)
57.14% HIGHER unsubscribe rate
30.73% LOWER click through rate
43.75% FEWER orders
56.60% LOWER sales

Higher open rates don't mean better results! We got the boost in open rates we had hoped for proving the effectiveness of the Google tools, but clearly disappointed the readers due to an apparent disconnect between the subject line and the actual email body content. Not only did we send fewer people to the website but we upset many more customers enough to unsubscribe from the mailing list altogether. The lost opportunity cost of never being able to market to these unsubscribed recipients is a cost rarely taken into consideration when adding up the numbers.

Lessons learned: A subject line must support the body content of the email. Even the most seasoned marketers must TEST TEST TEST at every opportunity.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

10 Secrets of Successful Email Marketing - Part II

Email is one of the fastest, most cost-effective marketing techniques available today. But it has it’s own set of unique challenges that require email marketers to fight on two fronts: getting your email to the inbox and keeping the subscriber interested enough to open your emails and respond to them. On the brighter side, if you follow the 10 "secrets" below you will easily cruise ahead of your competition that pays little attention to these strategies (If you need a refresher on the first five "secrets", check them out here).

6. Make the best use of the subject line

This really could be it’s own blog post, and much has already been written on this topic - it’s that vital. The subject line is like the headline of your email and can make or break an email campaign. Keep in mind that your subscribers will scan email subjects in their inboxes to decide whether your email is worth opening. This means that the first three words of your subject line have the biggest impact, so make sure you use them and put the most important information at the beginning of the line. Ideally, your subject line should be friendly, build curiosity and promise a benefit for reading the rest of the email - but every audience is different so you should consider testing subject lines to see what works with your audience and what doesn’t. One other best practice: Try to keep subject lines between 35-55 characters to keep them from getting cut off.

I could write about subject lines all day, so let’s move on to...

7. Be attentive to email formatting

The majority of email clients are now capable of rendering HTML emails so you have full control over how the email appears in the customer’s inbox. The choice of font, text wrapping, and location of your graphical elements can lend professionalism and credibility or damage it. It's important to use an email-rendering tool that can show you exactly how your email will render in all of the top email clients, such as Gmail, Hotmail and Microsoft Outlook. This will allow you to see how your email will appear to the reader when images are blocked and where the typical "fold" is so that you can be sure to include your main message in plain view so the reader doesn't have to scroll down (or over) to see it. Just because your email looks fine on your own computer screen doesn't mean that it will look fine on your recipient's. You’ll also need to be aware of the unique restrictions of each client. For example, Outlook 7 does not allow the display of animated GIFs, so you’ll want to keep those things in mind when designing your email.

8. Keep your emails focused

Avoid trying to share too much information in a single email. If you find that your email is getting too lengthy then it’s best to make this email a teaser that would lead to the full information on a landing page or on your Web site. Subscribers expect an email to be an appropriate length and to go beyond this is to risk losing their attention. A Web site, on the other hand can present complex ideas without the risk of losing attention. No one expects to get a personal letter the length of the Sunday Newspaper.

9. Provide value upfront

Your email recipients expect to receive value from you in return for reading your messages. Whether it is a hot tip, a discount or some other special offer, you must deliver or lose your subscribers. The more value you provide, the more anticipation to receive your next email builds, and the more likely your subscriber’s loyalty will translate into increased business for your company.

10. Track everything

Tracking is probably the single best thing you can do to improve your email marketing. Knowing what elements are successful and which ones aren’t will help you to create your next email message. Here again it becomes important to use an email vendor with the latest tracking software so you can determine the open rate, deliverability, click-through rate and conversion rate for your emails. This is the only way you can determine your email marketing effectiveness and so make incremental improvements. Tracking is the direct marketer’s huge advantage over brand advertising. You will want this advantage too.