Sunday, August 25, 2013


Hi there - if you're looking for the latest updates, visit the Zero Budget Marketing blog over at Wordpress as we've moved to that blogging platform. (If you're a subscriber via email, you'll still get your email updates, so you don't need to do anything.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Three things I didn't know about Google Adwords campaigns (that you might also like to know)

I've been running (mostly small) Google AdWords campaigns for years now. I've been tinkering and testing and largely getting good results - but Google changes things all the time. Plus there's always elements that I see and wonder what they are and never quite get around to learning about.

So I've been off at Google Engage Bootcamp for Agencies 101 - and it was well worth it. I've had many things reinforced but also learned quite a few things that I didn't know (or hadn't had the time to figure out!).

Here's the three top-line items that bear repeating. If you already knew them, big ticks to you. If not, I hope you find them useful!

1. Taking back control over which ads Google displays

When you set up a few ads within a campaign, Google automatically starts to display one more than others quite quickly, basically serving a lot more of one advert than another. This always annoyed me as I couldn't easily work out how to override it.

You can take back control within a campaign by looking at the bottom of ADVANCED SETTINGS, then scroll down to the bottom of the page look for "Ad Delivery" and then "Ad Rotation" it is quite tucked away!

This then gives you four options - one of which is automatic Google optimisation of your ads based on clicks which is the default setting.  But you can also elect to have it rotate evenly so YOU can decide what you want to turn off and on, rather than rely on the overly enthusiastic Google algorithm.

2. Negative keywords

I knew they existed but hadn't ever used them. (If you don't know what they are, they're basically keywords you DON'T want to appear for). Turns out they are very simple to add. When you're "adding" keywords, you just add a negative keyword (or phrase matches) all in the same spot.

So your keyword list might look like this:

Low budget marketing tips
Creative marketing tips
-pyramid selling
[zero budget marketing]

(The top two are broad match keywords, the third is your negative keyword you don't want to appear for and the final one is an exact match).

3. You can track 'conversions' inside AdWords - and it reports different results to Analytics

I was of the mistaken belief that goals had to be tracked in Analytics - no, you can set up goals in AdWords too. And they will give you different results. AdWords will record a conversion for AdWords as the "conversion" is recorded within 30 days of the click, regardless of the LAST thing that was clicked to create the sale. Analytics will track up to a year but Analytics counts as the "converter" the LAST thing clicked prior to the sale.

To set up conversions, you click on the top menu "Tools and Analytics" and then "Conversions". You then click an "Add conversions" button and you'll usually be choosing "webpage". Basically you get some code to add to the page you are tracking as a conversion (like a thank you page) and then you can track your conversions.

Friday, August 16, 2013

What is marketing strategy? And more importantly - what ISN'Tmarketing strategy?

A term I regularly hear used and abused is "marketing strategy". Most people, even smart business and/or marketing people, use it incorrectly.

The most common error is that people use "strategy" when they mean "tactics" or "campaign". Many also seem to think a strategy needs to be hugely complex, or delivered in a language that's so hard to comprehend it would make the management consultants on House of Lies look plainspoken. And marketing textbooks tend to give long definitions that can leave you scratching your head.

So here's my 'line in the sand' on marketing strategy:

Good marketing strategy - What it is:

- A clear direction for how you'll be working to achieve your objectives
- Something that ultimately can be summarised to a page (or better still, a paragraph)
- A brave or bold choice that you need to stick with for AT LEAST a year
- Something that all your tactical marketing activities must tie back to
- Articulates what's special or different about your business (or how you're going to become special or different) 

Good marketing strategy - What it isn't:

- A goal (your strategy is how imagine you'll reach your goal)
- A bunch of tactical activities on a calendar. You need these too, but that's a marketing action plan, not a strategy.
- A lot of big and waffly words
- Only about the size of your budget
- Something you can ask someone to define for you, or make a firm recommendation about, after a brief meeting!

Glad I got that off my chest...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to write a more punchy speaker or author bio

Is there anything more cringe-worthy than writing a bio?

Yes, actually: hearing one that you've written read out loud as you're being introduced as a speaker!

So whenever I come across a clever (and mercifully short) bio, I take note. I look for clues about how to communicate better without the cringe.

So imagine my joy when I came across a loooooong page of clever bios. And what makes them even more impressive (or potentially depressing if I think about it too much) is that they're written largely by teenage girls!

I'm talking about the bios at Rookie Mag, a site for teenage girls that I learned about when I saw the 17 year old founder was coming out to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

A few of my faves:

Tavi Gevinson is the editor-in-chief and founder of this site. She is 16 and lives under your bed, so she can eavesdrop on teenage girls and then report back to Rookie’s advertisers and the Walt Disney Corporation with her findings.

Stephanie Kuehnert got her start writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades in eighth grade. In high school, she moved on to punk rock and feminist zines. She’s published two young adult novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, and is at work on another.  

Ragini Nag Rao lives in Calcutta and writes pretty much anything for a living. She loves dogs, baking, and fashion and considers herself a cyborg because of the ancient iPhone attached permanently to her hand. She occasionally blogs about fashion and feminism at A Curious Fancy.

Gabby Noone is an 18-year-old college student in NYC. When she’s not busy writing to support her glamorous waitressing career, you can catch her tweeting, embroidering, blogging, or definitely not reading Food Network fan fiction.

So I know this sort of irreverant style isn't always suitable, but let's look at what makes these work:

- They communicate their skill or experience
- They reveal something personal so you get a sense of why they are
- They are actually interesting and fun to read
- They do all this in no more than three sentences

So there's inspiration here people!

PS. Why am I talking about bio writing on a marketing blog? Getting out there as a presenter or writer is a great "zero budget marketing" tool.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why or why do people keep forgetting a CALL TO ACTION?!

We marketers work hard to get a campaign out. We need to come up with a concept, work with a designer, fit into a schedule, set up an email, test a million times, clean up the data, then finally hit send.

So why would you do all this work WITHOUT a call to action of some sort?


What has inspired me to write all this in shouty-capitals? This eDM I received from ING Direct yesterday (on 9 July).

I'm a customer and I was interested to learn a little more about these free seminars they say they're starting. It says registration open on the 10 July - so the very next day. But you can't pre-register your interest or click through to a page for more information.

I could have chalked that up to a ho-hum "teaser" and moved on, but it got worse.

It says to keep an eye on their Facebook page - but then you can't click through to their Facebook page! So I'd have to be SO motivated to learn more that I'd head on over to Facebook, SEARCH for them and then like them to maybe learn about it (assuming Facebook deigns to feature it in my feed which it may very well not due to the way EdgeRank works.)

This eDM has missed TWO opportunities to inspire action at the exact moment it had my attention. I just see this as a massive waste of effort. And as we zero budget marketers know, "effort" is a huge part of your marketing "budget".

So this serves as a great reminder to ALWAYS have a call to action - preferably multiple ones - in any outbound marketing communication. And on your website pages. And in your social media. And on your voicemail. And on your email signature.

You get the picture.

In summary: Don't leave your "Call to Action" missing in action.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Review: Cool free image editing tool to check out - Pic Monkey

Oh, I do love a free online tool. The latest one I've come across is PicMonkey and I'm rather sad I've only just learned about it. It allows you to do a whole host of photo editing but without the complexity (and expense) of Photoshop or the clunky-ness of apps like Acorn.

You can do a bunch of things - colourise, add text, add effects, use filters, fix blemishes, round corners - all very useful stuff. I've been a little OTT with the "before and after" below, but you'll get the idea. This is super-easy to use and uses "real" language to explain the effects.

So if you're not a graphic design pro but need to make occasional image edits - personally or for marketing activities like social media- it's a great solution.

And as it's free it's a tool to test drive and then bookmark in your zero budget marketing toolkit.

Off to have more of a tinker....



Friday, June 28, 2013

10 Steps on How to Create an Effective Content Calendar for Social Media

Handing over the ZBM blogging reigns today to the savvy gals at Fox Marketing, to share their thoughts on how to create an effective content calendar for social media.

Social media marketing can be challenging for marketers and those who are into branding their products and businesses. Social media networking sites are filled with tons of information, therefore, social media strategy needs to be thoroughly planned and carefully executed.

The most common mistake that eager marketers commit is overlooking the significance of two important elements of the strategy: content and timing. Sometimes, they do have the content but the timing is totally out of place. Establishing a clear and concrete social media calendar that contains content and timing is a great tool to make things easier for your social media strategy. Your goal here is to maximize your return on investment and create another revenue generating channel.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a smart and effective content calendar for your social media management.

Step #1. To establish your editorial calendar, determine first the type of content you want to share on your different social media platforms.

Step #2. Create a spreadsheet where you can put all the details needed for your content. This will serve as your framework for your social media management.

Step #3. In your newly created file be sure to add different sheets for different social media platforms. All the important points should be covered for each platform: topic/themes; type of content; keywords/tags; audience; goal; target dates; status of post; and, time to publish content.

Step #4. Add to your calendarlocal events, holidays, and other relevant activities. It is important that you update these details for each social media platform.

Step #5. Use your calendar to plan your marketing initiatives in advance.Remember, you are building your online presence. Brainstorm and select post ideas whichare more likely to engage with your audience.

Step #6. Incorporate visual effects on your posts to make them more compelling and engaging.  In your content calendar make a note of image locations to find them later.

Step #7. Think about timing. It is crucial for your posts to be effective. Record your preferred time of the day for each social media post.

Step #8. Include freebies and other special incentives or discounts. These help your existing audience stay hooked and can also draw new fans. So, offering these in social networks is a good way to generate more fans or followers. Make sure you add all giveaways to your calendar and prepare for higher engagement levelsfrom your fans.

Step #9. Evaluate how your audience responds to your content when you publish it. You will know which is effective and which needs adjusting or modification. Record all details in your social media calendar. It is very important to keep track of all your findings. This will help you to achieve better results in the future.

Step #10. Plan for interaction. Just because you have published several posts does not immediately mean your audience is now willing to buy something from you. These things do not happen with a snap of your fingers. Engage yourself with your audience, answer their queries, and acknowledge their comments. In other words, interact with them. They’ll get that picture that you and your brand or products have credibility.

With proper social media calendar, your business will have the boost it needs. This is your gateway to level up your brand on social media. Be consistent, persistent, and look for ways to fine-tune your marketing strategies when necessary.  

Today's post by Fox Marketing:
Fox Marketing is a young vibrant Marketing Agency. From user friendly website design to innovative search engine marketing and social media, it provides end-to-end digital marketing services that can deliver results. Fox Marketing website:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why email is still the 'killer app'

In the marketing space all we seem to hear about is social media. And social media is great - for spreading the word, spreading awareness, getting engagement, sharing information.

But when it comes to conversions, email is still the killer app.

I experience it time and again when marketing for clients. So I wasn't surprised when I came across this research recently, that showed the conversion rate for email marketing was three times that of social media.

There are other reasons I still heart email as a marketing tool:

- YOU own the list
- It goes to an inbox (and stays there till deleted)
- You can be much more flexible with content
- You can segment your list
- You can do do some fancy (but easy) automation these days– like RSS to email so that updating your blog sends an email too.
- It's cheap (dear to a zero budget marketing heart)

What I was a little surprised about was how many emails are now read on mobile devices -

Nearly 38% of all email opens occurring in mobile devices.

In the last year, emails opened on mobile devices more than doubled, and have increased 80% in the last six months alone. And they are only being opened once, not scanned on the phone/tablet and answered later on a computer.

This has big implications for you email design and testing.

For me it meant that you should stick to one column design, have multiple calls to actions that are easy to spot on a small screen, send tests to your phone too, keep images down to a minimum...and make sure the links are going to your mobile friendly site.

Do you see any other implications?

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Tuesday: Networking tips for business events

Networking is the NUMBER ONE "zero budget marketing" tool.

I have been "teaching" people how to network for many, many years. It was a weird concept for me initially - I was a good networker, but breaking down what I did was difficult. Can something that comes naturally to some be taught to others? The answer is...of course! But it just means some of us will have to try a little harder to master it than others.

It also felt a little "dirty", the whole "networking" thing, until I distilled it down to what I REALLY think good networking is about:

Look for a chance to GIVE before you RECEIVE ... thereby earning the right to ask a favour (at some point in the future).

Giving before receiving isn't as hard as it sounds - it can be small things - from talking to the shy person at an event, to giving a compliment, sharing information you come across, passing on a lead, or even suggesting a great book/article/blog.

So once you approach networking with this mindset, it feels a lot more natural. If you go in desperately 'wanting', you'll put people off - desperation and need is as large a put-off as a blatant sales pitch.

Once you get to a networking event though, what should you actually do? And almost as importantly, what shouldn't you do?


  • Get there a little early-and stay right to the end. Introduce yourself to the host if you can. And if you have the opportunity, explain why you're there. They can often point you in the right direction.
  • Go with a plan. How many people are you going to try to speak to? One or several? Are you just going to try and meet the presenter perhaps? Or the event organiser? Are you going to see how others network? Would you like to connect with potential collaborators? (Note: In a half hour time allocation for networking, you would only expect to speak PROPERLY to 2-3 people.)
  • Listen for commonality in conversations, and give some information about yourself when you speak. Networking, like any social interaction, is about finding some common ground to help drive the conversation or connection. Networking events are not the time to be quiet or hold back! Similarly, they are not the time to only talk about yourself. Ask a LOT of questions and you'll find networking a lot easier, and more revealing.
  • Have business cards - and a pen handy. The pen is to write on the cards you receive, to remind yourself of how you met them or any relevant follow up. The business cards are to hand out IF you want to communicate with the person again. Don't hand them out unless you're prepared to be contacted.


  • Don't hide in a corner, or surf Facebook, or text. Stand somewhere central, be open, catch people's eyes. At business events people are there to speak, there to connect. Make it easy for them to connect with you.
  • Don't only speak about work. Unless you're a super -engaged, super-excited entrepreneur, most people's key passion isn't their work. They much prefer to speak about their weekends, hobbies, travel, families, what they really want to do for work, etc. If you're looking for faster connections, don't open with "what do you do?". Instead ask what they're hoping to get out of the event or what they did/plan to do on the weekend. You can get to the work part eventually, but it's not the ideal conversation starter.
  • Don't come unprepared to describe what you do if someone asks, or it does come up. You should have ready a means to explain your business/job in 2-3 sentences, without a bunch of jargon. Most people, on the spot, are AWFUL at explaining what they do. They give you very little - for example, a title only - or  waffle on and yet still leaves you wondering what they do / what's special about what they do and how you can possibly say anything interesting about it.
  • Don't forget to follow up. If you've taken a card, or have a name, send a quick follow up email, or a LinkedIn connection request. The whole point of networking is that it's a LONG TERM proposition. 

Now...go forth and network!

PS. For the keen eyes, I know it's not Tuesday. But I wanted to get this published for a friend that's off to her first networking event tonight!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Zero budget sign writing - no budget is no excuse

zero budget sign writing
I always maintain that creativity can overcome the challenges of a low - or zero - marketing budget.

This little sign (that I recently spotted at a market) is such a perfect example of this.

It's compelling, it makes you smile, it makes you stop and notice it - and importantly: it makes you really want to buy that cake.

A hugely powerful marketing tool - that would have cost around 5 cents.

Whilst someone was pretty handy with their black marker, what is really clever about this sign is the copy-writing. "Shipped down from heaven early this morning" is a visual, new and emotive means of saying "baked fresh".

So what inspiration can you take from this? What copy can you re-write in a more meaningful, clever, funny, intriguing, engaging, smile-educing way?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Niche businesses are easier to market

For anyone who's been in business, you know the temptation of wanting to do anything to bring in the dollars. Yet there is real value in being "niche" - carving out a segment that's just yours.

I saw a great example of this recently, with publisher "A Book Apart". Their business produces "Brief books for people who make websites". It's very specific - but also very easy to market. It is PR friendly, it's easy to find the target market, it ha got built in repeat business (if someone finds one book useful, they'll buy more) and it's easy to talk about and spread the word.

This last point is so critical. I've never been involved in marketing anything where word of mouth wasn't critical. In fact, for most businesses, it's the number one source of new business. So if your business is hard to describe, hard to pin down, it's hard for others to spread the word about.

Niche is scary. But less that it used to be, thanks to the Internet. So if you're pondering starting a business, and you've got a cool enough idea, there's a lot to be said for finding your niche and sticking to it.

How to cut your marketing costs in 2013

Not all businesses have an allocated marketing budget. Some people just spend when 'something' comes up (ie. distressed ad space), some have no money to spend at all, while the budget of others are allocated an amount of percentage of sales.

If you do have some money to spend, odds are the amount is never quite enough. You may even find that the financial peeps are allocating you less this year in response to slow sales last year.

So what "zero budget" thinking can you apply to your budget this year, to make sure you get the absolute most from it?

1. Work out what you're spending the most "time" on - and if it's working, see if you can automate it.

The key to 'zero budget' is usually spending time over cash. So with time your most valuable resource, it's something to be protected.

When I first starting working with carsharing business Flexicar, all new member 'inductions" were done face-to-face. Whilst it was necessary to teach people how the service worked, it wasn't sustainable to keep doing this. So instead we made a fun and useful video that "automatically" did the same job, and was actually more convenient for members. It instantly saved MANY hours, and that time could be spent in other ways to help grow the business.

2.  Work out what you're spending the most "time" on - and if it's not working, stop doing it. Make the tough call.

We all have our pet projects, or things we feel we "should" be doing. But if you are really not sure you're getting a result, then it's time to allocate that valuable time elsewhere.

For more thoughts, you can check out what I said in this recent Sydney Morning Herald / Age article.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You can always spend more money...

Let's face it - in marketing, more money is always wanted, no matter the size of your budget.

The 'Shop a docket' founder was recently quoted in this interview when he was asked this question:

"If someone gave you $100,000 and said, “Invest this in your business by the end of the week – or lose it” what would you do?

His response was:  
"I’m sure I could use it, particularly as we have a bottomless marketing budget."

It struck me that the immediate response to the $100k question was (mentally) allocating it to his marketing budget...rather than his marketing team.

Funnily enough, $100k doesn't go that far in marketing - unless you spend it on PEOPLE or course.

$100k could THEN get you two great part time, marketing-related people that have some specialist skills - they could action everything from social media to list generation to great articles to lead generation events to fostering partnerships. I'm sure you have a LOT of things you'd like to get done, if only you had the resources.

So whilst it's pretty rare that a lump of $$ drops in your lap, if spare funds do come your way, don't just spend it in the obvious way. Really think about the BEST possible investment of your funds, which will be, more often than not, people over advertising. 

Don't ask if you're not going to action

Market research is a funny beast. We feel like we SHOULD be doing it - keeping in touch with our customers, checking how we're performing, working out what we should change, learning what's important to prospects. Yet the research is a waste of time if you don't do anything with it.In fact, it can even be damaging to your business if you ask but don't action.

Many times I've worked with clients who've done research - either one off, or ongoing - with little changing subsequently. I was browsing the web today looking for wall paper when I came across this site as an example. I saw they had a little poll about whether visitors to the site would like to buy wallpaper online or not. So I clicked yes, as I would like to buy it online. You'll see from the screenshot, so would about 80% of other people.

Yet this poll has been active three years and you still CAN'T buy wallpaper online at this site. Which is made just a little more frustrating because YOU KNOW that THEY KNOW that is what people want...which doesn't provide for a great first impression.

So the moral of this story - if you're not going to do anything about it, don't ask the question. Spend the time and resources elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First: Make sure it works before you launch

What we saw
What we should have seen
You can put in all the love and effort and creative beauty into an online magazine, organise the best possible publicity on Australia's most-read design blog - but it all comes to naught if you don't check that it's working first.

This is a situation I came across recently when a new mag was launched via The Design Files.

I'm an avid reader of The Design Files (along with 20,000 other people) and it is very supportive of the Australian creative community, regularly featuring new projects and businesses. Due to the targeted nature of the readership, being featured on the Blog would be a huge (and free) marketing opportunity for a venture, tapping right into a perfect target market.

So this temporary fail of a new magazine launch (not being "live" when the blog story went live) was also a great reminder that your marketing work doesn't stop at the creative side. The best way not to WASTE money or an opportunity (as all zero budget marketers must know) is check all the details - and get it right the first time.

I felt bad for them, I really did. It was up later in the day - but not a 7am which is when The Design Files sends their email EVERY weekday. Always.

In this case,  I can't help wondering how many more people they would have reached if they'd just made sure their mag was live/published a few hours earlier? I'm sure they will always wonder the same thing.

So here's a checklist for any new launch / campaign/ initiative - these are all things that will trip you up (I've speaking from painful experience) so it's worth checking them every time.


- Emails and web addresses - type them in, even if you think you know them, and make sure they're live or go where you expect them to. Oh, and make sure they're actually ON there.

- Call any phone numbers - again, just in case. One misplaced digit is all it takes.

- Test - if it's anything technical, try and break it. If it's online, click on links and go to every page. It's boring but essential.

- Get it sub-edited - If you can afford a professional, invest in one - they are so worth it. (One that I use for a particular client ALWAYS finds something, even when I'm sure it's perfect!) If you dont have the budget, then ask a friend or colleague removed from the project that's good at grammar and spelling. Just have SOMEONE "sanity check" it. If there's no-one, re-read EVERYTHING carefully. Don't rely on spell check.

-  Call to action - even if it's not an advertisement, you always want people to DO something. That's the whole point of marketing. So is it clear what you want them to do, and how they should do it? For example: In the case of an online magazine, you want someone to READ but, more important initially, you want them to SUBSCRIBE.

- Is everyone informed? - Do all the people that this project impact on know that it's happening? For example, if you're running a promotion, do the people who answer the phones know all about it?

- Are all your marketing asset in sync? - If you're running a new offer, is it on your website, your Facebook page, your email signature.

- Have a  promotional calendar with everything on it - so you make sure you don't forget what is happening when. Check it regularly, to ensure a roll out is occurring in the right order, like a site being live before the PR program kicks off.

Do you have anything else on your "launch checklist"?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

'How To' Tuesday: How to write a great subject line for your email marketing

Source Bottle always has fully descriptive subject lines
So what makes a good subject line for an email? And more importantly - why should you care?

I'm a BIG believer of the power of email, which gets lost these days in the hype of social media. That's not to say social media isn't important, but you OWN your email database (or at least the permission to email them whilst they remain subscribed) and so you have much more control over when you speak to them.

So back to subject lines. These little puppies are the MOST IMPORTANT part of your email. Why? Because we are all so busy, all we do is SCAN our emails - and wait for something to grab our attention or we simply delete it. And when it comes to our email inbox, where we routinely get 50+ emails a day, we are very picky about what we read. And how do we decide what to read? The email subject line.

A scan of your own inbox will show you that a LOT of email subject lines tell you nothing about what's in the email - the fatal flaw, in my opinion. The are either overly promotional, boring or completely uninformative.

A GOOD subject line is:

- Descriptive
- Enticing or intriguing
- Long enough to tell you something
- One that is appealing to YOUR target market

There is this odd perception with many people that "short is always good" in marketing - but in email subject lines, it can go either way. Some research says "the longer the better" and other research says "no difference".

I have found that it's much more about being relevant and interesting rather than long or short for the sake of it.

A good thing to remember is that an email subject line is your HEADLINE - so to help work out what works, consider what makes YOU read a news article...what "sucks you in" to read more?

A quick look at today's Herald Sun (which has the highest readership in Victoria) has the following headlines:

'Lance admits "tour drug use" to Oprah'

'Scam takes punters on $800 ride'

'Mum on drugs killed son, court told'

These headlines give you a lot of information in just a few words - and make you want to know more. You need to apply the same thinking to your email marketing.

Often you have more than one story to share - but don't feel you can only mention one. Why? Because different stories appeal to different people.

A fantastic example of this is the SourceBottle emails that come out twice daily, matching marketers and business people with call outs from journalists and writers.

Here's an example from a recent one:

"Personality types and health | New products to feature within TrailerBoat Magazine | How has motherhood changed you? | Small Business Pinterest Lovers | Unusual proposals, themed weddings, bizarre hook-ups | Back to school | Homework - agree/disagree"

A subject line this length - without knowing the context - would scare the pants off most marketers. Yet it's perfect for this market. I ALWAYS check the subject line to see if there's something relevant to me, and I must be one of many as their subscribers numbers are constantly growing.

A hard working subject line is worth the hard work it takes in coming up with it - don't just write anything and hope for the best. You have likely spent many HOURS (or dollars) on your email content - so don't throw it away with a barely considered subject line.

Put in the effort, test the results - and watch your email marketing performance improve.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Web Design Review: Single page web design - what's to like, what's not

If you're a business that uses the web to attract business or convey key information, your website is a vital asset: I'd argue - your most important online asset. Yet we often put a LOT of time into a website when we're building it - then forget to review it regularly to:

(a) ensures it's up to date
(b) that everything still works and
(c) that it's keeping up with current web trends.

(And as good zero budget marketers know, it's about optimising what you're already doing, rather than continually starting from scratch.)

In terms of current web trends, one trend is "single page" style sites - I'm seeing more of these lately, particularly in the bar and restaurant space. They feel a bit "old school" and "new school" all at the same time.

The style has some benefits - primarily that all the information is in front of you with virtually no clicking required. So I think it can work well EXCEPT when web designers forget that a BIG chunk of people access the web from mobile devices - largely, Smartphones (particularly to look for bars and restaurants). So if you're ever going to invest in a mobile version of your site, now is the time. But I digress...back to the single page site.

I thought it would be helpful to look at a specific example: the site for Hanoi Hannah, a newish restaurant in Windsor. It's a spot that we were planning on trying for dinner, so I looked it up to get their details and make a booking.

First impressions: I love the design - it immediately "brands" it as funky and let's you know the style of dining you can expect. It has a real "fresh" feel. You can also find what you want fairly easily -  when what you want is location, phone number and opening hours.

Challenges: You actually want to read all the cool stuff on the right - but when you zoom in it becomes pixelated so you can't read it...I suspect a bad case of "print design incorrectly applied to the web".

It also suffers from not incorporating a newsfeed - which matters when you're trying to call and book for dinner on the 7th January but after several "sorry, no-one is here to take your call" phone answering machine responses I checked the facebook page and find they're closed till 14th Jan. Unhelpful! A newsfeed from their facebook page would have been an easy way to ensure the message they put on that page showed up on their website.

Finally, they haven't made a mobile version, so it becomes very hard to navigate on my iphone. I've included a screenshot below.

Finally - when I was looking for the site on my iphone (and subsequently on my computer), I noticed their web design company hasn't done the best job with the meta tags and page descriptions as the automatically generated google snippet that displays in search results is just generating image names.

Wrap up: This site is a great start - and all the "challenges" can be addressed. So if you're pondering a web update to a streamlined "single page" site, learn from what works and doesn't work in this example.