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 Vol 4 - Issue 2
April 2005  

 

Welcome to b2b news.

In this issue:

 


Get more out of your website
Newsletters

Monthly or quarterly Newsletters is a great way of promoting your business and your website. If you keep your customers’ e-mail addresses, then a Newsletter by e-mail becomes viable. It is a very economical solution, as you do not have to spend on paper, ink, envelopes, and postage. Your e-mail software can be set up for bulk e-mailing to a group customised with individual names.

There are many ways to format an e-Newsletter:

  • you can use plain-text,
  • html formatted (with images included),
  • a Word document embedded in the e-mail or as an attachment,
  • and a PDF file sent as an attachment.

You can send the whole content of the newsletter, or just a summary of each article with a link to the full text in your website. Sending the links can be a very good idea to attract immediate visitors to your site, specially if you have new products or services you want to promote.

The pages in your site with the full text of the articles could contain banners or small ads enticing users to visit other pages in your website.

It is also possible to add tracking technology to your html-based newsletter. This will provide you with information such as which articles each person has read and the time spent in each one. You can then target your marketing on the areas that have attracted more interest or tailor it to each customer’s preferences.

Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your existing customers. Every time they receive your newsletter you remind them you are there available to serve them and that you care about their business. It is also an excellent tool for branding your business name or products.

Prospects have less and less time to shop around. When they are in need of your products or services they will first think of you because they have been receiving your newsletters. This is all part of establishing a healthy relationship with your customers.

In some lines of business apparently there is no much new to report. A brief brainstorming session will yield ideas for your newsletter in excess of what you need. A newsletter does not need to be long. One page, or even half a page will suffice, and not all the information you put have to be related to your type of business.

Some examples of information you can include in your newsletter:

  • Products on sale
  • New lines of products or services
  • Special discount offers, vouchers, coupons
  • Competitions & sweepstakes
  • What is happening in your industry, new developments, innovations, discoveries, etc
  • New materials, colours, sizes, etc. for existing products
  • Achievements or awards the business have received
  • Staff promotions, weddings, births, new staff, retiring staff
  • Employment opportunities in your business
  • New partnerships, alliances, ventures
  • General news that can be of interest to your target market
  • Many industry speakers/writers/editors do not mind if you reproduce their articles as long as you credit them. So if you come upon an interesting piece of information that applies to your customers you can ask permission to include it in your newsletter.
  • Community news
  • Business tips

With e-newsletters remember always to allow for a way to unsubscribe.

For more information on how to set up an e-newsletter for your business, please give us a call and we will be happy to help you.

In our next newsletter we will be looking at ‘Promotional e-mails’


 
Adding Interactivity to your site

Interactivity empowers users. With interactive websites visitors have choices and control over certain features.

Following is a list of interactive features that you may like to consider for your website:

  • Search – A search function will provide users with the ability to search your website by keywords or phrases. Should personalised searches be stored for each user?
  • Forms – What kind of forms? Feedback, contact? What information should the user provide? Will the fields be optional or required? Will fields be validated?
  • Support – Will you be providing real-time support, or an email form that can be answered in 24hrs? Will you be having a chat area?
  • Questionnaires/surveys/polls – What kind of information? About what subject? Will you publish the results?
  • Panoramic Photos – Interactive panoramas can give the visitor a real insight inside your business. Visitors can virtually walk around your shop/office and zoom in and out to see details.
  • Animations – Should you use Flash or Java to bring life into your site and illustrate products and services? A whole Flash site or just small files?
  • Subscription email lists – Do yo have an e-newsletter or other periodic information that users can subscribe to?
  • Links to other sites – Should you have a link page? Links that are related or complement your business, without offering competition, can attract customers to your site.
  • Downloadable files – PDFs, images, audio files, programs, games.
  • Contact Us – What contact details should be on the site – i.e. e-mail, telephone, street address, office or shop hours?
  • Site map – Will a site map help your visitors navigate the site?
  • Multilingual – Would it be advantageous to make the site available in various languages? What are the main languages your customers speak?
  • Printing – Will users be able to use other printing functions besides the default one supplied by the browser? Printer friendly pages?
  • Passwords – Will you have a ‘Members only’ section which can only be accessed via a user name and password?
  • Videos – Conventional or interactive? How long? What modem/broadband speed will support?
  • Games – Will a Flash game attract more visitors or help promote a product or service?

 
The WOW! Factor

There is a lot of marketing going on promoting websites with a WOW factor. But what is the WOW factor in a website? The first thing that comes to the mind is a funky site, full of flashy animations. However, the WOW factor is not quite that, is when a visitor feels very good about the site he is just visiting.

A few years ago, when browsers started supporting Flash and streaming, graphic designers translated their skills to the web and gave wild run to their imaginations. In those days the web was composed predominantly of three types of sites: Funky and creative sites, home-made sites, and what I like to call ‘programmers’ sites’.

The funky sites looked fabulous but you really had a hard time finding the information you were after. The menu links were hidden in the design, you had to spend time exploring as each link took you to unexpected places, they had little or no information, the text was hard to read, and it took a long time to download.

The ‘home-made’ sites had lots of colourful fonts, background wallpaper that made the text difficult or impossible to read, no design, sometimes only one, very long, page, other times a few links with not fixed menu, and practically zero application of usability rules in general. Good for kids and for fun, but not a great image for a serious business.

The programmers’ sites, on the other hand, were the opposite of the funky ones. These websites were mainly created by programmers and technically minded people. Here you were able to find heaps of information, often logically arranged. On the other hand, design of the site was usually unpleasant, with annoying flashing text and terrible colour combinations.

Nowadays, most professionally produced websites are somewhere in the middle point between the funky, flashy sites and the programmers’ sites. The design looks good without being overpowering. Information and content have priority. They are easy to navigate. The information you are looking for is usually one or two clicks away. The structure follows a logical organisation. These websites download faster and are appealing and informative at the same time.

A WOW! Website is one that applies usability rules to give the visitor an enjoyable and useful experience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with flashy animations. A harmonious, balanced, and clean design is preferable in most instances.

Put yourself in the shoes of your visitor. What would you like to see in a website offering the kind of goods or services you offer? Would you be looking for specific information about products/services or just wanting to pass the time? What kind of people are your customers? Are they busy people who value their time? Are they teenagers who just like having fun?

You need to evaluate your customers and decide which is the right WOW! factor for them.


 
On Next Issue:
  • Get more out of your website: Promotional e-mails

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