It doesn’t need to be spring to give your data a good clean

Here are some of the reasons why…

  • Sending to lapsed data is bad for your deliverability – it’s easy to damage your deliverability but hard to fix it
  • You’re more likely to see complaints, unsubscribes and spam trap hits from this type of data
  • You’re wasting your money by sending to people who no longer open
  • You are automatically, before you even hit send, degrading your engagement metrics
  • It enables you to have a conversation with the people that want to talk to you and are listening

Hopefully the above is enough to convince you that you need to take action if you haven’t already. There are now two things you need to plan for: how to clean up the data that has already lapsed and how to manage lapsing data moving forwards.

Step-by-step guide to handling those who are already playing hard to get

  • Run a segment to find those who’ve become unengaged – I suggest you look for contacts who have been sent multiple campaigns in 180 days yet haven’t opened anything they’ve received (if you are unsure how to do this, your dotmailer Account Manager can help).
  • If you have a large number of contacts who are unengaged, do not send to them all in one go; this could be disastrous! Instead, take a very small chunk of them and test what impact this has (you could use dotmailer’s random sample tool).
  • If you see a high number of unsubscribes or next to no positive action, it might be worth taking the data out and accepting the loss.
  • Next, we need to build your “Don’t leave us” or “We miss you” email.
  • The email must contain a link to be clicked to show that they wish to remain on your mailing list – DO NOT assume an open is enough; it’s not. You need explicit opt-in and the only way to do this is to have them fulfil an action, and this link needs to go to a landing page saying “Thank you for remaining subscribed”. This is now your chance to collect updated preferences and set new expectations.
  • You need to clearly state “If you do not click this link, we will no longer email you – you have 7 days till D day” (or something along those lines).
  • After the desired time period, you need to run a segment or have a decision node in your program to find those who’ve not clicked the link – then whip those clients out of your account!

What to do with those becoming lapsed

Basically, do exactly the same as the above, except ensure that your processes are built into a marketing automation program. Set up your program so it pulls in wavering contacts on the day you think they’re in danger of becoming lapsed. For instance, it could be that you want to capture all contacts who’ve not opened your last 10 email campaigns. It’s at this point that you then send them your lapsed customer campaign.

One thing you need to be conscious of is how you treat the people who are enrolled into your program. It’s worth setting expectations like “If you choose not to stay, we’ll take you out of our marketing list in 7 days”. As it’s an automation program, remember to add in a ‘delay’ node or a ‘decision’ node that holds them for X number of days (i.e. however long you want to give them to take an action). Based on the link they click, send them down a lapsed path or a re-engaged path.

If you choose to exclude lapsed contacts from ‘business as usual’ emails, you should flag those contacts currently going through the lapsed journey and add them as an exclusion rule in your usual send segments. You can do this using the subscription node and enter them into a lapsed address book when they enter the program. Alternatively, you can use the ‘update contact’ node and update a data field to show they’re going through the journey, using the relevant address book or data field in the exclusion box. Please be aware that if they click the link to remain subscribed, you then also need to reverse this and update the field again, or remove them from the “going through lapsed” address book.

If you’ve managed to keep them then WOHOO! Make sure you capture their preferences and ensure you honour these options so you do not have to put them back into the program later. What you should be left with after this is a beautifully engaged pot of data, a far less risky email program, and much nicer email reporting stats!

If you’re interested in other ways to keep your reputation and deliverability in tip-top condition, get a free copy of our deliverability guide.

The post It doesn’t need to be spring to give your data a good clean appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Give your open rates a boost

That’s great, you might think, but do they act on the call-to-action once they’ve been opened? The one thing to keep in mind when measuring success is not just the number of opened emails, but the number of opened emails that then result in some kind of action: a sale or a lead.

In this post, we’ll share a few tips that’ll help you open your mind to new and exciting ways to get your customers to open, and act on, your emails.

Start as you mean to go on

When you meet someone new for the first time, it’s natural to introduce yourself. And the concept should be exactly the same when it comes to sending a first-time email.

Tell your customer or lead why you’re contacting them in a welcome email – for instance, they could’ve signed up to your newsletter on your website or joined your list as part of a social media competition. Set the expectations of your relationship, like letting them know how often they can expect to hear from you or telling them the kind of content they’ll receive from you. The more you put them in the picture, and the more information you give them about yourself, the more likely they are to open any future correspondence from you.

Keep it fresh

People’s tastes and preferences change over time. That’s why it’s essential you keep your mailing list as fresh as possible. You can do this by simply asking your subscribers if they still want to hear from you, or by checking in and seeing what they’d be interested in receiving via a survey.

If not, try a re-engagement program based on what you know about your contacts. You could either use the insight you have on your customers to create super-relevant content, or attempt something a little more explicit like a ‘We miss you’ email with accompanying offer. You can also use more creative and imaginative subject lines to pique interest – sometimes wacky and unexpected will alter people’s perceptions of your brand.

But if all this fails, simply (and politely) go your separate ways.

Make your subject line STAND OUT

A creative, funny, interesting, relevant, timely or personalized subject line can really help to boost your open rates.

Bland, generic ones are likely to block your chances – so make sure you put as much effort into crafting your subject line as you do your email body copy.

Use A/B testing to your advantage – record the results; keep sending the ones that work and stop sending the ones that don’t!

Segment your list

Every one of your customers has different needs, tastes and desires. Communicate with them accordingly by creating meaningful segments and tailoring your content so that it has resonance with each set of contacts.

Age, gender, location, past orders, behavioral data: these kinds of insight are invaluable in helping to guide you as to who should receive what content. Remember, the days of ‘batch and blast’ mailing are long gone – the more personal you are with people in your emails, the more likely they are to open and act on your messages.

Avoid spam

Another way to improve your open rates is to avoid your emails being labelled as spam. Every time an email is marked as spam, you’re at risk of harming your sender reputation.

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure your email makes it to the inbox by using a spam checker. dotmailer’s spam test gives your email a spam filter score and alerts you when it’s in danger of triggering inbox spam filters. This ensures that your IP reputation remains as clean as possible by providing you with a detailed breakdown of how your content and code scores against all the key spam filters in use.

Secondly, make it clear that the email is from a recognized sender. If it’s not obvious that it’s from you – i.e. you don’t have a friendly ‘from’ name or the email isn’t branded – then the recipient could mistake your email as spam.

Timing is everything

Open rates very much depend on timing. Day or night? Weekday or weekend? Season? It can be difficult to gauge, particularly when one person might consume your content during their morning commute and another might check emails intermittently throughout the day. One way is to test sending your emails at different times and see which garners the best overall response.

Another is to use dotmailer’s Send Time Optimization tool, which will optimize the time of individual sends to maximize open rates based on your contacts’ historical behavior.

Don’t be content with just standard content

If your recipient thinks they’re going to benefit in some way shape or form from opening your email, they will. You have to reward them for doing so. There has to be some value, financial or otherwise, in every email you send.

Discounts, loyalty points, exclusive previews, limited-time offers, video, tips, blogs….so whatever kind of content you provide, make sure it benefits the recipient.

Subscribe to a clear unsubscribe button

As painful as it might seem, some customers will want to separate from you.

To show that you’ve nothing to hide, don’t hide your unsubscribe button. Make it clear and accessible. If people see you’re being honest and fair, the more likely they are to trust you in the first place.

By using all the tools at your disposal – such as a spam filter – and making sure you’ve upped the relevancy of your emails, you’re much more likely to reach people’s inboxes and achieve the desired responses.

See many more marketing tips in our regularly updated resources library.

The post Give your open rates a boost appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

5 ecommerce content hacks that give you a competitive edge

In fact, it feels like the same thing happens every time you launch a promotion. Every holiday. Every deal. Every product. The big retailers can just drop price to win more customers. And then they throw on free shipping to sweeten the deal.

You can’t follow that race to the bottom. But you also can’t keep losing customers to larger competitors. It’s frustrating. Your business offers so much more than price. That’s where your expertise and great content marketing comes in…

Non-product content is your competitive edge

The Content Marketing Institute found that conversion rates for businesses that use content marketing strategies are nearly six times higher than their competitors’. If that wasn’t enough, content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.

You need to go beyond product descriptions and manufacturer specifications to get that type of performance. Blogs, how-to videos, customer stories, and social proof are excellent ways you can provide value, increase loyalty, and stand out from the competition.

You may already be producing some or all of those types of content. You may even be seeing some results. That’s great!

Now you need to take it to the next level to win against the mega stores. Here are five ecommerce content hacks that can give you a competitive edge. Better yet, these tips are easy to execute and are proven to get results.

1. End every email with a “P.S.”

Here’s a simple tactic to upgrade your next email campaign. Add a “P.S.” after the signature or call-to-action of your email.

A P.S. at the end of your email says “Psst. There’s even more good stuff.” The P.S. is the perfect place to stop selling and start sharing your valuable stories and cool how-to information. Doing so will drive more traffic to your site.

You can link to relevant how-to and tutorial videos. Show the joy of an existing customer unboxing the product. Or give away valuable examples of the product in action, like look books, recipes, or wish lists.

2. Make your search box a rich experience

The search box for your online store should be more than a place where shoppers type in some keywords and hope for the best. You want to speed up their search by presenting suggested keywords as they type.

You can make your search box even more productive when you show relevant non-product content in search suggestions. That’s rich search autocomplete that shoppers love.

 

Adore Beauty has always loved to show beautiful product images to attract shoppers. But they needed more. They created a winning strategy by displaying targeted shopping guides in their autocomplete.

For example, start typing “lipstick,” and you are presented with The Ultimate Guide to Lip Care, and articles on The Best Lip Care Options for Men (… how did they know? J) and The Best Natural Lip Products for Everyone. Now, more than 30% of the site’s revenue comes from the 10% of Adore Beauty shoppers who use site search.

3. Display non-product content in search results

If non-product content works as shoppers type into the search box, then do the same thing in search results. The search results page is ideal for building excitement for the products your shoppers are looking to buy. Customers are more likely to buy if they can get information before they get to the product page.

For instance, Andersen Windows serves up product search results with support information and technical documents. Customers see the spec sheets, installation guides, and how-to videos so that they can better choose the right product for them.

No need to surf around to get that helpful info. It’s right there. Andersen Windows has just shortened the path to purchase.

4. Repackage existing content into episodes

It is time to begin to release your own, episode-based content. A YouTube series, Instagram stories, or a podcast are much more than producing visual or audio content. It’s a story. And everyone loves a good story.

You may be familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk and how he started with Wine Library TV. He talked passionately about great wines and labeled each video with a number. He produced over 1000 episodes. That helped transform his family’s local wine store into a massive online business.

Episodes have two advantages. First, you can simply repackage the stories, tutorials, and examples that you already have into a series. So it’s easy on you to produce.

Second, your audience grows accustomed to the style of information you’ll be providing. You build expectation for what’s next. That makes you stick out in their memories.

Your audience loyalty goes way up with episodic content. As a result, open rates for promotional emails go up, traffic is perpetually increasing, and repeat customers keep buying again and again.

5. Turn FAQs into sales

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages are notoriously dull. They usually don’t change often either. Yet you field great questions from customers every single day.

Don’t be afraid to display questions that customers actually have and in their language. That’s the best way to help customers make a choice faster. Answer the questions in a creative way. Your responses help engage your customers, demonstrate your knowledge, and show your brand’s personality.

Plus, customer questions can also fuel ideas for other content across all your site and marketing channels. Try these:

  • Create shopping guides for product categories or sub-categories
  • Dive deep into product-specific questions on the product pages
  • Publish a themed playlist on your YouTube channel
  • Go live with a Q&A session on Facebook Live, Instagram or Snapchat

REI is one retailer that makes great use of FAQs. The outdoor retailer fields actual questions from its customers and turns them into expert advice videos on its REI Find Out YouTube channel. The effort positions the brand as an authority. And shoppers are more likely to buy.

These five content hacks are simple to execute. You already have the knowledge. You love your customers. Just show it in the most impactful locations of your website and communications.

As a result, your customers will love you back. They’ll purchase from you and not just go price shopping at the mega retailers.

 

This guest post was created by Bob Angus from SLI Systems.

The post 5 ecommerce content hacks that give you a competitive edge appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 10 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Darryl, the man behind dotmailer’s Custom Technical Solutions team

Why did you decide to come to dotmailer?

I first got to know dotmailer when the company was just a bunch of young enthusiastic web developers called Ellipsis Media back in 1999. I was introduced by one of my suppliers and we decided to bring them on board to build a recruitment website for one of our clients. That client was Amnesty International and the job role was Secretary General. Not bad for a Croydon company whose biggest client before that was Scobles the plumber’s merchants. So, I was probably dotmailer’s first ever corporate client! After that, I used dotmailer at each company I worked for and then one day they approached a colleague and me and asked us if we wanted to work for them. That was 2013.  We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us a bit about your role

I’m the Global Head of Technical Solutions which actually gives me responsibility for 2 teams. First, Custom Technical Solutions (CTS), who build bespoke applications and tools for customers that allow them to integrate more closely with dotmailer and make life easier. Second, Technical Pre-sales, which spans our 3 territories (EMEA, US and APAC) and works with prospective and existing clients to figure out the best solution and fit within dotmailer.

What accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?

I would say so far it has to be helping to turn the CTS team from just 2 people into a group of 7 highly skilled and dedicated men and women who have become an intrinsic and valued part of the dotmailer organization. Also I really enjoy being part of the Senior Technical Management team. Here we have the ability to influence the direction and structure of the platform on a daily basis.

Meet Darryl Clark – the cheese and peanut butter sandwich lover

Can you speak a bit about your background and that of your team? What experience and expertise is required to join this team?

My background is quite diverse from a stint in the Army, through design college, web development, business analysis to heading up my current teams. I would say the most valuable skill that I have is being highly analytical. I love nothing more than listening to a client’s requirements and digging deep to work out how we can answer these if not exceed them.

As a team, we love nothing more than brainstorming our ideas. Every member has a valid input and we listen. Everyone has the opportunity to influence what we do and our motto is “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

To work in my teams you have to be analytical but open minded to the fact that other people may have a better answer than you. Embrace other people’s input and use it to give our clients the best possible solution. We are hugely detail conscious, but have to be acutely aware that we need to tailor what we say to our audience so being able to talk to anyone at any level is hugely valuable.

How much of the dotmailer platform is easily customizable and when does it cross over into something that requires your team’s expertise? How much time is spent on these custom solutions one-time or ongoing?

I’ll let you in on a little secret here. We don’t actually do anything that our customers can’t do with dotmailer given the right knowledge and resources. This is because we build all of our solutions using the dotmailer public API. The API has hundreds of methods in both SOAP and REST versions, which allows you to do a huge amount with the dotmailer platform. We do have a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the team so we may well be able to build a solution quicker than our customers. We are more than happy to help them and their development teams build a solution using us on a consultancy basis to lessen the steepness of the learning curve.

Our aim when building a solution for a customer is that it runs silently in the background and does what it should without any fuss.

What are your plans for the Custom Tech Solutions team going forward?

The great thing about Custom Technical Solutions is you never know what is around the corner as our customers have very diverse needs. What we are concentrating on at the moment is refining our processes to ensure that they are as streamlined as possible and allow us to give as much information to the customer as we can. We are also always looking at the technology and coding approaches that we use to make sure that we build the most innovative and robust solutions.

We are also looking at our external marketing and sharing our knowledge through blogs so keep an eye on the website for our insights.

What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?

Most questions seem to revolve around reassurance such as “Have you done this before?”, “How safe is my data?”, “What about security?”, “Can you talk to my developers?”, “Do I need to do anything?”.  In most instances, we are the ones asking the questions as we need to find out information as soon as possible so that we can analyse it to ensure that we have the right detail to provide the right solution.

Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?

We talk a lot about working with best of breed so for example a customer can use our Channel Extensions in automation programs to fire out an SMS to a contact using their existing provider. We don’t force customers down one route, we like to let them decide for themselves.

Also, I really like to emphasize the fact that there is always more than one way to do something within the dotmailer platform. This means we can usually find a way to do something that works for a client within the platform. If not, then we call in CTS to work out if there is a way that we can build something that will — whether this is automating uploads for a small client or mass sending from thousands of child accounts for an enterprise level one.

What do you see as the future of marketing automation technology?  Will one size ever fit all? Or more customization going forward?

The 64 million dollar question. One size will never fit all. Companies and their systems are too organic for that. There isn’t one car that suits every driver or one racquet that suits every sport. Working with a top drawer partner network and building our system to be as open as possible from an integration perspective means that our customers can make dotmailer mold to their business and not the other way round…and adding to that the fact that we are building lots of features in the platform that will blow your socks off.

Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?

I’m a dyed in the wool Gooner (aka Arsenal Football Club fan) thanks to my Grandfather leading me down the right path as a child. If you are still reading this after that bombshell, then food-wise I pretty much like everything apart from coriander which as far as I’m concerned is the Devils own spawn. I don’t really have a favorite band, but am partial to a bit of Level 42 and Kings of Leon and you will also find me listening to 90s drum and bass and proper old school hip hop. My favorite holiday destination is any decent villa that I can relax in and spend time with my family and I went to Paris recently and loved that. Guilty pleasure – well that probably has to be confessing to liking Coldplay or the fact that my favorite sandwich is peanut butter, cheese and salad cream. Go on try it, you’ll love it.

Want to meet more of the dotmailer team? Say hi to Darren Hockley, Global Head of Support, and Dan Morris, EVP for North America.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Meet Dan Morris, Executive Vice President, North America

  1. Why did you decide to come to dotmailer?

The top three reasons were People, Product and Opportunity. I met the people who make up our business and heard their stories from the past 18 years, learned about the platform and market leading status they had built in the UK, and saw that I could add value with my U.S. high growth business experience. I’ve been working with marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners for years across a series of different roles, and saw that I could apply what I’d learned from that and the start-up space to dotmailer’s U.S. operation. dotmailer has had clients in the U.S. for 12 years and we’re positioned to grow the user base of our powerful and easy-to-use platform significantly. I knew I could make a difference here, and what closed the deal for me was the people.  Every single person I’ve met is deeply committed to the business, to the success of our customers and to making our solution simple and efficient.  We’re a great group of passionate people and I’m proud to have joined the dotfamily.

Dan Morris, dotmailer’s EVP for North America in the new NYC office

      1. Tell us a bit about your new role

dotmailer has been in business and in this space for more than 18 years. We were a web agency, then a Systems Integrator, and we got into the email business that way, ultimately building the dotmailer platform thousands of people use daily. This means we know this space better than anyone and we have the perfect solutions to align closely with our customers and the solutions flexible enough to grow with them.  My role is to take all that experience and the platform and grow our U.S. presence. My early focus has been on identifying the right team to execute our growth plans. We want to be the market leader in the U.S. in the next three years – just like we’ve done in the UK –  so getting the right people in the right spots was critical.  We quickly assessed the skills of the U.S. team and made changes that were necessary in order to provide the right focus on customer success. Next, we set out to completely rebuild dotmailer’s commercial approach in the U.S.  We simplified our offers to three bundles, so that pricing and what’s included in those bundles is transparent to our customers.  We’ve heard great things about this already from clients and partners. We’re also increasing our resources on customer success and support.  We’re intensely focused on ease of on-boarding, ease of use and speed of use.  We consistently hear how easy and smooth a process it is to use dotmailer’s tools.  That’s key for us – when you buy a dotmailer solution, we want to onboard you quickly and make sure you have all of your questions answered right away so that you can move right into using it.  Customers are raving about this, so we know it’s working well.

  1. What early accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?

I’ve been at dotmailer for eight months now and I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished together.  We spent a lot of time assessing where we needed to restructure and where we needed to invest.  We made the changes we needed, invested in our partner program, localized tech support, customer on-boarding and added customer success team members.  We have the right people in the right roles and it’s making a difference.  We have a commercial approach that is clear with the complete transparency that we wanted to provide our customers.  We’ve got a more customer-focused approach and we’re on-boarding customers quickly so they’re up and running faster.  We have happier customers than ever before and that’s the key to everything we do.

  1. You’ve moved the U.S. team to a new office. Can you tell us why and a bit about the new space?

I thought it was very important to create a NY office space that was tied to branding and other offices around the world, and also had its own NY energy and culture for our team here – to foster collaboration and to have some fun.  It was also important for us that we had a flexible space where we could welcome customers, partners and resellers, and also hold classes and dotUniversity training sessions. I’m really grateful to the team who worked on the space because it really reflects our team and what we care about.   At any given time, you’ll see a training session happening, the team collaborating, a customer dropping in to ask a few questions or a partner dropping in to work from here.  We love our new, NYC space.

We had a spectacular reception this week to celebrate the opening of this office with customers, partners and the dotmailer leadership team in attendance. Please take a look at the photos from our event on Facebook.

Guests and the team at dotmailer's new NYC office warming party

Guests and the team at dotmailer’s new NYC office warming party

  1. What did you learn from your days in the start-up space that you’re applying at dotmailer?

The start-up space is a great place to learn. You have to know where every dollar is going and coming from, so every choice you make needs to be backed up with a business case for that investment.  You try lots of different things to see if they’ll work and you’re ready to turn those tactics up or down quickly based on an assessment of the results. You also learn things don’t have to stay the way they are, and can change if you make them change. You always listen and learn – to customers, partners, industry veterans, advisors, etc. to better understand what’s working and not working.  dotmailer has been in business for 18 years now, and so there are so many great contributors across the business who know how things have worked and yet are always keen to keep improving.  I am constantly in listening and learning mode so that I can understand all of the unique perspectives our team brings and what we need to act on.

  1. What are your plans for the U.S. and the sales function there?

On our path to being the market leader in the U.S., I’m focused on three things going forward: 1 – I want our customers to be truly happy.  It’s already a big focus in the dotmailer organization – and we’re working hard to understand their challenges and goals so we can take product and service to the next level. 2 – Creating an even more robust program around partners, resellers and further building out our channel partners to continuously improve sales and customer service programs. We recently launched a certification program to ensure partners have all the training and resources they need to support our mutual customers.  3 – We have an aggressive growth plan for the U.S. and I’m very focused on making sure our team is well trained, and that we remain thoughtful and measured as we take the steps to grow.  We want to always keep an eye on what we’re known for – tools that are powerful and simple to use – and make sure everything else we offer remains accessible and valuable as we execute our growth plans.

  1. What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?

The questions we usually get are around price, service level and flexibility.  How much does dotmailer cost?  How well are you going to look after my business?  How will you integrate into my existing stack and then my plans for future growth? We now have three transparent bundle options with specifics around what’s included published right on our website.  We have introduced a customer success team that’s focused only on taking great care of our customers and we’re hearing stories every day that tells me this is working.  And we have all of the tools to support our customers as they grow and to also integrate into their existing stacks – often integrating so well that you can use dotmailer from within Magento, Salesforce or Dynamics, for example.

  1. Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?

In addition to the ones above – ease of use, speed of use and the ability to scale with you. With dotmailer’s tiered program, you can start with a lighter level of functionality and grow into more advanced functionality as you need it. The platform itself is so easy to use that most marketers are able to build campaigns in minutes that would have taken hours on other platforms. Our customer success team is also with you all the way if ever you want or need help.  We’ve built a very powerful platform and we have a fantastic team to help you with personalized service as an extended part of your team and we’re ready to grow with you.

  1. How much time is your team on the road vs. in the office? Any road warrior tips to share?

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, one year I attended 22 tradeshows! Top tip when flying is to be willing to give up your seat for families or groups once you’re at the airport gate, as you’ll often be rewarded with a better seat for helping the airline make the family or group happy. Win win! Since joining dotmailer, I’m focused on being in office and present for the team and customers as much as possible. I can usually be found in our new, NYC office where I spend a lot of time with our team, in customer meetings, in trainings and other hosted events, sales conversations or marketing meetings. I’m here to help the team, clients and partners to succeed, and will always do my best to say yes! Once our prospective customers see how quickly and efficiently they can execute tasks with dotmailer solutions vs. their existing solutions, it’s a no-brainer for them.  I love seeing and hearing their reactions.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?

I’m originally from Yorkshire in England, and grew up just outside York. I moved to the U.S. about seven years ago to join a very fast growing startup, we took it from 5 to well over 300 people which was a fantastic experience. I moved to NYC almost two years ago, and I love exploring this great city.  There’s so much to see and do.  Outside of dotmailer, my passion is cars, and I also enjoy skeet shooting, almost all types of music, and I love to travel – my goal is to get to India, Thailand, Australia and Japan in the near future.

Want to find out more about the dotfamily? Check out our recent post about Darren Hockley, Global Head of Support.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The SEO Advent Calendar: 24 Tips For Local SEO Success

Give your business the gift of local optimization this holiday season with columnist Marcus Miller’s Local SEO Advent Calendar!

The post The SEO Advent Calendar: 24 Tips For Local SEO Success appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 2 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Distance from Perfect

Posted by wrttnwrd

In spite of all the advice, the strategic discussions and the conference talks, we Internet marketers are still algorithmic thinkers. That’s obvious when you think of SEO.

Even when we talk about content, we’re algorithmic thinkers. Ask yourself: How many times has a client asked you, “How much content do we need?” How often do you still hear “How unique does this page need to be?”

That’s 100% algorithmic thinking: Produce a certain amount of content, move up a certain number of spaces.

But you and I know it’s complete bullshit.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the algorithm. You should definitely chase it. Understanding a little bit about what goes on in Google’s pointy little head helps. But it’s not enough.

A tale of SEO woe that makes you go “whoa”

I have this friend.

He ranked #10 for “flibbergibbet.” He wanted to rank #1.

He compared his site to the #1 site and realized the #1 site had five hundred blog posts.

“That site has five hundred blog posts,” he said, “I must have more.”

So he hired a few writers and cranked out five thousand blogs posts that melted Microsoft Word’s grammar check. He didn’t move up in the rankings. I’m shocked.

“That guy’s spamming,” he decided, “I’ll just report him to Google and hope for the best.”

What happened? Why didn’t adding five thousand blog posts work?

It’s pretty obvious: My, uh, friend added nothing but crap content to a site that was already outranked. Bulk is no longer a ranking tactic. Google’s very aware of that tactic. Lots of smart engineers have put time into updates like Panda to compensate.

He started like this:

And ended up like this:
more posts, no rankings

Alright, yeah, I was Mr. Flood The Site With Content, way back in 2003. Don’t judge me, whippersnappers.

Reality’s never that obvious. You’re scratching and clawing to move up two spots, you’ve got an overtasked IT team pushing back on changes, and you’ve got a boss who needs to know the implications of every recommendation.

Why fix duplication if rel=canonical can address it? Fixing duplication will take more time and cost more money. It’s easier to paste in one line of code. You and I know it’s better to fix the duplication. But it’s a hard sell.

Why deal with 302 versus 404 response codes and home page redirection? The basic user experience remains the same. Again, we just know that a server should return one home page without any redirects and that it should send a ‘not found’ 404 response if a page is missing. If it’s going to take 3 developer hours to reconfigure the server, though, how do we justify it? There’s no flashing sign reading “Your site has a problem!”

Why change this thing and not that thing?

At the same time, our boss/client sees that the site above theirs has five hundred blog posts and thousands of links from sites selling correspondence MBAs. So they want five thousand blog posts and cheap links as quickly as possible.

Cue crazy music.

SEO lacks clarity

SEO is, in some ways, for the insane. It’s an absurd collection of technical tweaks, content thinking, link building and other little tactics that may or may not work. A novice gets exposed to one piece of crappy information after another, with an occasional bit of useful stuff mixed in. They create sites that repel search engines and piss off users. They get more awful advice. The cycle repeats. Every time it does, best practices get more muddled.

SEO lacks clarity. We can’t easily weigh the value of one change or tactic over another. But we can look at our changes and tactics in context. When we examine the potential of several changes or tactics before we flip the switch, we get a closer balance between algorithm-thinking and actual strategy.

Distance from perfect brings clarity to tactics and strategy

At some point you have to turn that knowledge into practice. You have to take action based on recommendations, your knowledge of SEO, and business considerations.

That’s hard when we can’t even agree on subdomains vs. subfolders.

I know subfolders work better. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Let the flaming comments commence.

To get clarity, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will this change, tactic, or strategy move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Breaking it down:

“Change, tactic, or strategy”

A change takes an existing component or policy and makes it something else. Replatforming is a massive change. Adding a new page is a smaller one. Adding ALT attributes to your images is another example. Changing the way your shopping cart works is yet another.

A tactic is a specific, executable practice. In SEO, that might be fixing broken links, optimizing ALT attributes, optimizing title tags or producing a specific piece of content.

A strategy is a broader decision that’ll cause change or drive tactics. A long-term content policy is the easiest example. Shifting away from asynchronous content and moving to server-generated content is another example.

“Perfect”

No one knows exactly what Google considers “perfect,” and “perfect” can’t really exist, but you can bet a perfect web page/site would have all of the following:

  1. Completely visible content that’s perfectly relevant to the audience and query
  2. A flawless user experience
  3. Instant load time
  4. Zero duplicate content
  5. Every page easily indexed and classified
  6. No mistakes, broken links, redirects or anything else generally yucky
  7. Zero reported problems or suggestions in each search engines’ webmaster tools, sorry, “Search Consoles”
  8. Complete authority through immaculate, organically-generated links

These 8 categories (and any of the other bazillion that probably exist) give you a way to break down “perfect” and help you focus on what’s really going to move you forward. These different areas may involve different facets of your organization.

Your IT team can work on load time and creating an error-free front- and back-end. Link building requires the time and effort of content and outreach teams.

Tactics for relevant, visible content and current best practices in UX are going to be more involved, requiring research and real study of your audience.

What you need and what resources you have are going to impact which tactics are most realistic for you.

But there’s a basic rule: If a website would make Googlebot swoon and present zero obstacles to users, it’s close to perfect.

“All other things being equal”

Assume every competing website is optimized exactly as well as yours.

Now ask: Will this [tactic, change or strategy] move you closer to perfect?

That’s the “all other things being equal” rule. And it’s an incredibly powerful rubric for evaluating potential changes before you act. Pretend you’re in a tie with your competitors. Will this one thing be the tiebreaker? Will it put you ahead? Or will it cause you to fall behind?

“Closer to perfect than my competitors”

Perfect is great, but unattainable. What you really need is to be just a little perfect-er.

Chasing perfect can be dangerous. Perfect is the enemy of the good (I love that quote. Hated Voltaire. But I love that quote). If you wait for the opportunity/resources to reach perfection, you’ll never do anything. And the only way to reduce distance from perfect is to execute.

Instead of aiming for pure perfection, aim for more perfect than your competitors. Beat them feature-by-feature, tactic-by-tactic. Implement strategy that supports long-term superiority.

Don’t slack off. But set priorities and measure your effort. If fixing server response codes will take one hour and fixing duplication will take ten, fix the response codes first. Both move you closer to perfect. Fixing response codes may not move the needle as much, but it’s a lot easier to do. Then move on to fixing duplicates.

Do the 60% that gets you a 90% improvement. Then move on to the next thing and do it again. When you’re done, get to work on that last 40%. Repeat as necessary.

Take advantage of quick wins. That gives you more time to focus on your bigger solutions.

Sites that are “fine” are pretty far from perfect

Google has lots of tweaks, tools and workarounds to help us mitigate sub-optimal sites:

  • Rel=canonical lets us guide Google past duplicate content rather than fix it
  • HTML snapshots let us reveal content that’s delivered using asynchronous content and JavaScript frameworks
  • We can use rel=next and prev to guide search bots through outrageously long pagination tunnels
  • And we can use rel=nofollow to hide spammy links and banners

Easy, right? All of these solutions may reduce distance from perfect (the search engines don’t guarantee it). But they don’t reduce it as much as fixing the problems.
Just fine does not equal fixed

The next time you set up rel=canonical, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using rel=canonical to make up for duplication move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: Not if they’re using rel=canonical, too. You’re both using imperfect solutions that force search engines to crawl every page of your site, duplicates included. If you want to pass them on your way to perfect, you need to fix the duplicate content.

When you use Angular.js to deliver regular content pages, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using HTML snapshots instead of actual, visible content move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: No. Just no. Not in your wildest, code-addled dreams. If I’m Google, which site will I prefer? The one that renders for me the same way it renders for users? Or the one that has to deliver two separate versions of every page?

When you spill banner ads all over your site, ask yourself…

You get the idea. Nofollow is better than follow, but banner pollution is still pretty dang far from perfect.

Mitigating SEO issues with search engine-specific tools is “fine.” But it’s far, far from perfect. If search engines are forced to choose, they’ll favor the site that just works.

Not just SEO

By the way, distance from perfect absolutely applies to other channels.

I’m focusing on SEO, but think of other Internet marketing disciplines. I hear stuff like “How fast should my site be?” (Faster than it is right now.) Or “I’ve heard you shouldn’t have any content below the fold.” (Maybe in 2001.) Or “I need background video on my home page!” (Why? Do you have a reason?) Or, my favorite: “What’s a good bounce rate?” (Zero is pretty awesome.)

And Internet marketing venues are working to measure distance from perfect. Pay-per-click marketing has the quality score: A codified financial reward applied for seeking distance from perfect in as many elements as possible of your advertising program.

Social media venues are aggressively building their own forms of graphing, scoring and ranking systems designed to separate the good from the bad.

Really, all marketing includes some measure of distance from perfect. But no channel is more influenced by it than SEO. Instead of arguing one rule at a time, ask yourself and your boss or client: Will this move us closer to perfect?

Hell, you might even please a customer or two.

One last note for all of the SEOs in the crowd. Before you start pointing out edge cases, consider this: We spend our days combing Google for embarrassing rankings issues. Every now and then, we find one, point, and start yelling “SEE! SEE!!!! THE GOOGLES MADE MISTAKES!!!!” Google’s got lots of issues. Screwing up the rankings isn’t one of them.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it