Wizemail provides email marketing software solutions and e-shot HTML templates to a wide variety of clients - SMEs, Corporate and Digital Advertising Agencies alike – all with one common requirement, a dynamic, professional, digital marketing team on hand when required.

At least weekly, one of the Wizemail team will post a tip, trick or general email marketing advice here.

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  • Do you need a logo for email marketing Oct 19, 2018 at 11:23 AM

    Commissioning a logo is a costly exercise. If you opt for decent quality it will cost quite a bit. If you go for a cheaper option it will look as if you went for the cheapest one. You might wonder if you do without one in email marketing?

    If you read books or articles on logos, there will be a mention of how clever some are. Who can fail to be impressed by what is described as the ‘hidden’ arrow in the FedEx logo? If you look at it logically, perhaps you might.

    There is a suggestion that more than half of us fail to see the arrow until it is pointed out. The same goes for the a to z arrow in the Amazon logo. All very clever, as they say, but if most of us don’t see it, what is the point?

    There are specialist logo design studios and these will, no doubt, tell you how essential one is for a marketing email campaign. Some will suggest they are multifunctional, although all seem to agree that the prime purpose is identity. See the logo and the company comes to mind.

    Email marketing is a bit different though. Everyone who receives one of your emails will be on an email marketing list. They will know who the sender is and, to a certain extent, what will be in the email.

    A logo cannot be used in the From Line. We have to convey our identity by words, normally more or less the same ones we always use. To put it another way, the prime function of a logo is discharged immediately. Do we need a back-up?

    We are told that another function, albeit secondary, of a logo is to show corporate values. There are other ways of doing this; in fact, much of the design of an email marketing campaign will have this as its main function. The header is better suited to show what your company stands for.

    There is no doubt that the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star and the looping M of McDonalds are extremely effective at grabbing the attention and proving identity. An email from a Mercedes-Benz dealer will contain their logo proudly in the top left corner.

    Given that the big internationals all have easily recognised logos, it might seem as a necessity for us. So should it have a permanent place in all your email marketing templates?

    A logo takes up space. If you are an established company it is probable that you already have a logo, one designed specifically for your requirements. It is probably not optimised for an email read on a mobile phone. It might well be all but lost.

    The two significant negative aspects of a logo are: it takes up space, which is at a premium of course, and it limits the design of the email. Rolls-Royce designers must dread the restrictions of incorporating the iconic grill into a new design.

    Think carefully before opting for a logo for a marketing email. There’s the cost to consider, as well as whether it has positive effects.

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  • Rebranding your email campaigns; is it worth it? Oct 19, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    I used to design logos. It was fun, it was remunerative and the little company I ran, with three others, would push for a rebranding. Nowadays I would tell the manager to visualize the impact the new website and matching documentation. As for their next email marketing campaign, it could be their best ever.

    It is rather odd that in a business built entirely on measurement – that’s what gives email marketing its edge – we seem willing to spend a great deal of money on rebranding without any way of measuring whether it gives a reasonable return on investment.

    The first thing to ask yourself is what you want from your rebranding. A new look probably comes to mind initially. The next question is not so easy; what benefit will it give to your company.

    A rebranding is exciting. You get the feeling you are doing something positive. Are you sure it is not like renaming a department whilst leaving its function the same? Is it all image?

    Let’s not knock image. Its benefits are well documented. If your current one works for you, why change? Those on your email marketing lists like it the way it is and most people do not instinctively like change.

    Have a reason for a rebrand. Does your site look staid? Does is give the wrong impression, such as being old fashioned? If so, then you have a purpose for your rebranding. If not, then why spend all that money and expend all that effort?

    Would a simple colour change work? It gives all the appearance of new without all that spending on specialist designers.

    One option that you might not have considered is doing away with the logo in your email marketing campaigns. The main purpose of a logo is identity. Those on your email marketing lists are already aware of who you are. Consider whether its function has already been completed.

    A logo takes up space. Most marketing emails are read on mobile devices and unless it is a very basic design, any detail will be lost. Your rebranding could be as simple as cutting the logo.

    Don’t forget to measure the returns though.

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  • Free images for email marketing, websites and newsletters Oct 11, 2018

    We’ve recently explained some of the legal niceties of the use of images in email marketing. Copyright is a subject that is impossible to cover with any degree of detail in five hundred or so words. You need a legal library.

    That does not mean the only options are to use image libraries or Creative Commons in order to ensure the limitations are explained clearly. There is a simple alternative that has significant additional benefits.

    It is almost certain that you have a digital camera. Those included in the latest mobile phones are often of very high technical quality, certainly of adequate resolution to produce images suitable for email marketing. You’ve probably worked out where I’m going with this.

    The odds are that each individual staff member has at least one camera at their disposal. This is an untapped resource. You and your staff can probably produce images of any subject you want. But how will you go about encouraging them to do so?

    There’s nothing like a reward, a prize for the best image. It could be monetary, perhaps a meal at a local restaurant or something related to your products. It is obvious that the price might be more than that for single library image, but you have any number of pictures you can use for the coming few months, maybe year.

    The images that did not merit the prize can still be used for your email marketing campaigns. However, there is a caveat; you must play fair. If you use an image, you should pay for it. This will normally be a monetary reward. It need not be the price that a professional will demand; that would destroy the purpose of the exercise. However, a percentage is the norm.

    You could define the type of image that would appeal to subscribers to your email marketing list. Alternatively, you could allow plenty of artistic licence. There are arguments for both, so try both.

    Don’t take full ownership of an image. Your HR manager might well get upset if they see repeated use of their favourite picture without suitable reward. If you use it, then they deserve a prize.

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  • Cheap ways of obtaining copyright free images Oct 11, 2018

    Email marketing, e-newsletters and websites eat images. Sourcing them from image libraries can be expensive and the requirements of Creative Commons might not suit everyone. If only there was a way of obtaining a steady source of copyright free images.

    We’ve recently given an overview of the legal side of copyright with regards pictures, and it should have left you feeling you will have to read the conditions very carefully. There are, however, simple and cheap methods of sidestepping copyright restrictions.

    1/ Take photographs yourself

    We all have cameras. Pads and phones often have ones fitted which can provide images of a quality suitable for email marketing, and even a cheap digital single lens reflex will be give images far in excess of most requirements. Scenes of happy people enjoying your products, from holidays to courses, are just the sort of things that are easy to set up.

    You probably have all the equipment you need; the only additional requirement is experience.

    2/ Source them via your workforce

    Have a competition for your staff. Award a prize for the best according to you or some outside agent and pay an amount for any other image you use.

    As a method, it has a number of advantages. For instance, there are no time constraints. You could leave the competition running all the time, with prizes given periodically. It’s a way for your staff to contribute. Further, they will see their images on the website, or your latest email marketing campaign.

    A downside is that it needs careful management to ensure it is not divisive.

    3/ Use those on your email marketing lists

    The potential here is for lots and lots of images. Merely sorting through them will take a lot of time and this should be taken into consideration. Perhaps starting with a segmented email marketing list is the most sensible option.

    Everyone loves a competition and so will you.

    There are caveats though.

    With staff and subscriber sourced images you can dictate the conditions, the most vital one being what you will use the images for. It is tempting to demand total copyright control, being able to use the image for whatever you want forever. How tempting is that?

    It is a temptation that needs careful consideration. You must be fair to your staff and subscribers. If the prize is valuable enough then it’s a maybe, but if you are throwing that sort of money at your problem then it might be cheaper to go via libraries.

    Don’t, for instance, use an image you’ve gained via competitions for your heading or logo without additional payment. That is unlikely to be allowed from library-sourced images under their basic copyright restrictions and Creative Commons normally bans it.

    Your intended use of the winning images must be made clear at the start. Those that failed to win might well include something that is just right. A small monetary reward for you staff might be enough. For those on your email marketing lists, a credit note might be better.

    Be clear in your rules. Be fair in your execution.

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  • The safe use of outsourced images in email marketing Oct 3, 2018

    We all believe that the perfect image will make an otherwise mediocre email marketing campaign but the truth is that most people will glance at one in the same way they will scan-read the text. It is unfortunate that this does not mean any old picture will do.

    Whilst it is unlikely your images will be studied, if picked correctly they can produce positive responses in your subscribers. If you want to emphasise the dependability of a product, show them something impressively solid. If it is a holiday, then what better than images of spectacular views?

    It is inexcusable to regurgitate images when the one that is just right is easy enough to find. All it takes is a little time on the internet.

    Image libraries abound on the net, as a Google search will show. All are not made equal however. I’ll describe how to choose a good one.

    Almost all have a vast stock of images and most cover a great range, making it hard to find one you want. To your rescue comes the search facility. If the images have been stored correctly, you will be able to find one that will speak to the subscribers on your email marketing lists. If you can’t, go somewhere else.

    Copyright is a minefield. There is always someone who owns the rights to an image. These libraries only allow you to purchase certain rights to them. It is up to you to discover what you have bought.

    Reputable businesses will make your rights clear, both before purchase and afterwards. Most have the rights displayed on their websites, but they can vary between sellers. Don’t think, ‘Oh, they won’t mind,’ because they normally do.

    There is the option of going via Creative Commons. Again, there is a vast range, but again there are limitations as to your rights. They often require you to display certain captions and acknowledgements every time the image is used. This can clutter a marketing email. Nothing is really free.

    Images can indeed make an email marketing campaign by getting the subscriber on board. However, outsourcing them is not the only option. We’ll cover alternatives in the future.

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  • Legal aspects of using outsourced images Sep 28, 2018

    The right image can turn a run-of-the-mill email marketing campaign into one which exceeds your completion targets and even hopes. The only problem is that you will have to source the images. On the plus side, so will your competitors, and many can’t be bothered.

    The internet abounds with pictures. We have never had so much access to images. We are in a visual world. However, images are protected by complex and often vague laws which are all too easy to breach, the consequences of which can be expensive. This article cannot be definitive, but will just point out ways in which you can ensure, as far as possible, you stay the right side of the law.

    The first thing to grasp is that all images have an owner who has rights over them. This includes those that are headed royalty free. You need to ensure you have the permission of the owner to use any images, although this does not always mean money has to pass hands.

    Even after paying for an image you almost certainly won’t have full rights to it. The owner can, and normally does, limit what you can use it for. If you choose it for your email marketing campaign, you will normally be restricted from using it in, for instance, a logo. You might be limited to a single use of the image.

    Image libraries are the most effective way of staying the right side of copyright. Restrictions on use will be fully documented; that’s what they do. Don’t just glance through the overview. Read the full documentation and if there’s anything you don’t understand, ask and keep a record of the reply.

    Prices vary considerably. There’s no need to opt for Getty Images. These are aimed at journalists and are probably not the type, nor the price, of image you need.

    All libraries have search functions, some more sophisticated than others. If you find one of little use, then choose another library. It is the most important feature.

    A downside is that you will not gain exclusive rights to the image. If it inspires you, and is likely to do the same to those on your email marketing list, then it is likely to be attractive to your competitors. Being first carries little cachet as your customers won’t know.

    Subscriptions to image libraries reduce costs over time, but even so, it is not the cheapest option. You have probably heard of Creative Commons. These are described as royalty-free but this can be misleading as the rights owner can include a number of restrictions.

    Most require that you acknowledge the owner and sometimes also the source. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that all demands are identical. Check carefully.

    Whether you want to advertise someone else’s products in your marketing email is up to you. Remember that the endorsements take up valuable space. Equally importantly, you are telling those on your email marketing lists that you are a bit of a cheapskate.

    There are other ways of getting just the right image. We’ll cover that in the future.

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  • Using email marketing campaigns to reassure your subscribers Sep 26, 2018

    Some years ago, before email marketing took up all my time, I indulged my inner nerd and created a fanzine website. The number of visitors would be seen as a disaster nowadays, but then it was bandwidth threatening.

    I learnt a costly lesson when I changed my web-authoring software. I took the opportunity to fundamentally change the appearance of the site. I lost about 40% of my regulars in two months.

    People, I’d discovered, like things to remain the same. They feel reassured by the familiar. Whilst they are open to change, it has to be completed with a lot of care and even more planning.

    It doesn’t only go for websites. Those on your email marketing lists might feel unsettled by a dramatic alteration in the appearance of your emails. We need some degree of variation to keep them focused but continual changes will cause customers to drift away.

    The same limitation applies to text as well as design. Using free email marketing templates helps to a great extent. Once you have settled on a layout for a particular segmented email marketing list you can replicate the essentials for each campaign. The same size text blocks with the same type face will give the reassurance they desire.

    Unfortunately, there is a catch. The content needs to change to suit the particular product. A spa hotel in the middle of nowhere needs a different treatment to one in the middle of a busy city. Don’t go wild. A change in tone of ‘voice’ can be more than enough: bouncier for the latter, laid back and cool for the former.

    As always, you need to test.

    Sooner or later you will feel the need to change the design and appearance of your website and have your email marketing campaigns reflect this. Prepare your audience by using your enewsletter and campaigns to show examples.

    One way to get a subscriber onside is to have a special offer to celebrate the new corporate style. Break them in via the Subject Line.

    The best way of going forward is to ensure that you do not shock. Customers respond to reassurance.

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  • The right things to say in a marketing email Sep 20, 2018

    If you run email marketing campaigns frequently, you will know how difficult it is to maintain quality of copy. An internal weekly legal magazine managed it by the tried and tested method of enlisting a columnist. He became well known both inside and outside the industry.

    Despite knowing that the question must have been put to him many times, when I first met him I asked how he managed to maintain his prodigious quantity with such a high level of quality. His answer was revealing.

    He started each article – blog we’d call it now – by identifying the subject and then explaining the particular aspect he was going to cover. He varied the manner in which he did so: humour, reminiscences, references to current events, etc. He explained it as; ‘variations within consistency.’

    He was well aware that he would lose a number of readers by the end of his first paragraph – it would be sentence for email marketing nowadays – but he felt that was a positive. They would only bail out later if he hadn’t been clear. That was no way, he believed, to treat readers.

    His only indulgences were esoteric headlines, the connection often not explained until the final paragraph, if then. This not something we should copy perhaps, but his style of writing has lots of positives.

    We have email marketing lists. The magazine was mainly subscription so readers were also regular. He encouraged feedback; I was a regular correspondent and when talking about him to colleagues I discovered I was far from alone in that respect. He took time to get to know his readership. We do of course, but by other methods in the main.

    The variations within consistency – lovely phrase – meant that readers were never unsure of what the article was about. We were never tricked. Even ambiguity was absent. One had complete faith in the content of the first sentence or two. The options of reading it there and then, putting it to one side to read later, or just ignoring it are all still available to those receiving your latest email marketing campaign.

    The lesson is obvious. The first few words should be clear, precise and honest. The reader should be able to assess what the email is all about and make a judgement as to what they should do within seconds.

    With us there’s a bigger risk if we are devious. That unsubscribe button must be very tempting for those who feel cheated. Further, what is the point in offering a product that does not interest them?

    By segmenting your email marketing list along the lines of the number of campaigns they’ve been sent, you can demonstrate to those who are new the style of email they will receive. By the time they are moved to the ‘regulars’ lists, they will have expectations, ones that should be fulfilled.

    Your campaigns should not be identical of course. Vary the style, the type of approach and other matters. Just let your subscribers know from the start that you are playing straight with them.

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  • Ensuring visitors to your website remain there Sep 19, 2018

    Your email marketing campaigns must be integrated. Failing to use all your available resources is a recipe for being an also-ran. One of your greatest assets for all sorts of reasons is your website, or if you are a bit canny, websites.

    We all know the main reason browsers abandon websites: slow to load, too many popups and, the unforgivable error, not responsive. If your website commits any of these sins you need to start again. However, for most of us there are tweaks, or little improvements, that give a gain out of all proportion to the effort required.

    One example is that your site is not different enough. If you would not be able to pick it out amongst a dozen of your competitors then nor will your target audience. There is no need to go to extremes, in fact there are many reasons not to, but the same old colours with the same old typefaces can become a bit same old. Use the returns from your email marketing campaigns to decide whether Times New Roman is optimum.

    One of the most irritating features of some websites, not to mention a marketing email, is autoplaying of videos and audio. Even if there’s an X available to stop them, the time customers are engaging in locating the box could be more profitably used in browsing.

    Another aspect which can put off people is a site that is not so much difficult to navigate as not intuitive. If you mention a product, have the text or image hotlinked to the item. No one wants to scroll up for the menu.

    If someone is brought to your website but finds it is not what they thought then there are two concerns. The first is that you are unlikely to gain a sale. The second, and more important aspect, is that those who might have completed are unlikely to come to your site as they too are deceived.

    Cliché alert; you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Just as you would split your email marketing lists, consider having two, or even more, websites. That gives you really precise targeting.

    ‘Too much info’ is another cliché that has probably run its course, but it highlights an aspect that many ignore. If you have a blog on your site then the amount of copy is an important factor in whether people will start to read it. 750 words is a fair bit to read on a mobile, so check the rate of abandonments.

    It is not only the number of words. If you have a few images this adds to the bulk and a reader is not going to count the words. Initial assessment is what governs most readers.

    If, for instance, you sell kitchens, there will be some people who live in places that were described as compact by the estate agent. If all they see are images of kitchens that would not disgrace a palace, it could be difficult to convince them of the advantages of signing up to your email marketing lists

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  • Now is the time to get your website ready for Christmas Sep 13, 2018

    The garden centre I went to on Sunday had its gas-fired BBQs on offer, a sure sign that Christmas is on the horizon. It is the same for anyone involved in email marketing. Now is the time to clean your website to ensure it is in optimum condition.

    This is not a simple case of emptying the cache, as that should be completed after the end of each email marketing campaign. We need to go a bit deeper to identify the flotsam we need to jettison.

    Pages that are no longer of use should be deleted, meaning that landing page that you’ve kept for months, just in case, should go. It is probable you will have a number of them just floating around doing nothing other than slowing your website.

    Unless you are much more organised than I am you will have images that were uploaded in a rush and are not optimised. There’s no need to go through each one. Just check the loading times of your pages. Find out why any are found to be sluggish. Slow response times are a major cause of abandonment of a website.

    Another reason is pop-ups. Have you added one or two as time has gone on? They can infuriate. It’s the same with repetition. If a visitor is confronted by the same copy every time they visit, they won’t bother returning.

    Then there’s the way it looks. Is the appearance identical to the way it was a year ago? What hope, then, to inspire your visitors? You don’t want to change so much that your regulars are confused but enough to show that you are progressive. It is more than just changing colours or a Wordpress theme.

    Look at your site through new eyes, either literally by using a new member of staff, or trying to do it yourself. Is the site easy to navigate or have the additions over the last year made it bewildering?

    If the end of the year is your biggest period for profits and sales, now is the time to optimise your website ready for your email marketing campaigns.

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  • What is the latest email marketing idea? Sep 12, 2018

    There’s a simple answer to the question, but let’s leave it for a few moments and consider the difficulties of coming up with some revolutionary inspiration that will put your latest email marketing campaign into the vanguard.

    Most writers are asked where they get their ideas from and the answer often disappoints. Mostly it is sorting a little wheat from a mountain of chaff. Ideas are easy; good ideas are more difficult, the problem being that it is so difficult telling the two apart.

    For us it is easy. Split an email marketing list and try it. The returns will not only be quick but unanswerable. The aphorism most applicable to us is; If at first you don’t succeed, try something different. Different is the keyword here.

    Like everyone else, you will monitor the performance of the competitors at your level. These are the ones you are going to have to beat. It is logical then that merely copying them is not going to help. You’ve got to go for something they are not doing.

    But what?

    There are a number of ways of discovering the next big step in email marketing. Here are the more obvious ones:

    1/ Copy someone outside your speciality

    We are inundated with adverts on a daily basis. It’s not email marketing, but that’s no reason to ignore it. There’s a camera company that has tied in with National Geographic. Cue images of men and women in extreme conditions. Is there something similar you can do?

    2/ What are others missing?

    There's a scientific magazine that has a regular feature called Feedback. In magazine shops, browsers will turn to that page and read through the humorous articles. Yet there’s no advert on the page. Are you using your most popular webpage for signup? Is there something you could put on it to get more visitors?

    3/ Just try it

    Different is good. Don’t try too much evaluation. Check it with a split email marketing list.

    Finally, the answer to the question in the heading is that by the time it is noticeable, the latest idea is already being used by everyone.

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  • Thinking outside the email marketing box Sep 6, 2018

    There’s probably a saying, no doubt wrongly attributed to the Chinese, that if you think the same as everyone around you, they and you are wrong. (I’ve Googled without success.) Whilst it is a bit shallow, there’s more than a grain of truth in it. It especially goes for email marketing.

    I’m a great believer in copying other people. Experience is expensive so it is cheaper to learn from those who have already paid the price. Copying, though, is a step too far. You have your email marketing lists, others have theirs, and they differ. Indeed, you segregate yours, so even your email marketing lists vary. That means your methods should differ as well.

    The problem with being unconventional, or thinking outside the box if you prefer the metaphor, can be expensive. Get it wrong and you pay a price. However, if you want to stay level with your competition then go with them. Those who want to get ahead need a new perspective.

    There are, unfortunately, no useful examples of how to be unconventional. All those wonderful inspirational ideas have since been copied by the industry, and there lies the only negative aspect. All such advantages last a short time, but the majority of those you attract will probably stay with you.

    Testing with segmented email marketing lists limits the risks inherent in a duff idea. We can, at least, limit the cost of misjudgement. That still leaves what to try as well as how to generate a steady flow of brilliant ideas.

    One option is to look outside the confines of our industry. How others market their products often gives alternatives. Check through flyers, emails, adverts and such. I wonder who first thought of meerkats as possible advertising gold. Did it come to them on a family visit to the zoo?

    Another way is to have a brainstorming session, but instead of your management team, ask some of those who sit at screens or perform more mundane tasks. Ask for ideas and not justification, at least not at this stage. Even something so completely off the wall as to be nonsensical on first sight might have a positive.

    If someone had said to you, “Here, what about a tiger, saying something like ‘They’re grrreat’,” Would you have ignored them?

    For those you ask, it is their chance to shine, to show they have something more than printer servicing to put to the company. Don’t give them guidance in any way. You might have a particular product for an email marketing campaign in your mind, but once you start restricting their options you will drag them back inside the box.

    Once the ideas are in, ask you team to come up with reasons to support each idea. The reasons to reject them are already obvious. Don’t ask them to improve the suggestions but to run with them.

    You’ll get a lot of rubbish back, almost certainly the vast majority will be binned. There will be one or two ideas that will show promise. These you should work at to get something from; because they are worth it.

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  • Optimising images for SEO will help email marketing Sep 5, 2018

    We’ve recently covered image tags in a marketing email. Accessibility is probably the prime reason for adding them. Failure to do so will cost you subscribers.

    Whilst there is argument as to how much value you get from Goggle image search for pictures on a website, everyone agrees there is a benefit. In other words, even at the lowest estimate of gain, your return will be greater than your investment.

    The benefits of image search are indirect so it can be difficult to measure the advantages they bring to, for instance, email marketing list building. The main advantage is getting more visitors to your website and with the right choice of images and tagging you will be able to target the ones you want.

    As always, be nice to Google. For utterly selfish reasons, it wants to find your images. As with all Google search, be clear, precise and honest; keep these requirements in mind and you are nearly there.

    Names

    The first requirement is to name your images. Your particular system for cataloguing them is not likely to be optimum. Ask yourself what a potential customer would put in the search field. Some items might have alternative names so the Name of an image of a poncho should include cape.

    Keep names clear, precise and brief whilst incorporating keywords.

    Captions

    Captions can be an effective way of keeping readers interested in what you are selling. An image will be scanned but a short caption might be read so optimising for search is a balancing act. It can put off Google if you go all poetic. ‘A blood red sun setting over Marchiaro’ might be accurate but someone looking for a holiday will search for Florence so ‘Sunset over the bay from Hotel [whatever], Florence’ might generate more hits.

    If you have a lot of images on a page then don’t repeat keywords too often. This will be apparent to readers. Indeed, some images might not require captions. Keep them focused on potential subscribers to your email marketing lists.

    As with Names, keep captions clear, precise and brief whilst incorporating keywords.

    Alt tags

    As we stated earlier, the prime function of alt tags is to make a marketing email and your website accessible. For those specific to your website there is the additional requirement to make them searchable. We are talking keywords of course.

    Shaking a salt cellar of keywords over your images is not the way to go. It will confuse Google and irritate your readers. Don’t be too definitive. ’12-year-old child modelling a blue and orange poncho’ might be spot on but is unhelpful. The fact that the poncho is being modelled, and by whom, is irrelevant for search. A potential customer will look for a supplier for the object initially. How much better is ‘Poncho sized for 10- to 14-year-old’?

    There seems little doubt that Google is pushing image search. There’s nothing wrong in jumping on the bandwagon. Target them and you will those who might sign up for your email marketing list. All this for little effort.

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  • SEO tips for Google image search Aug 31, 2018

    One of the most difficult questions to answer with any degree of accuracy is: What are the benefits of optimising pictures on websites for Google image search. That Google wants it to be important is evidenced by the fact that they have published guidance on the subject: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

    There’s little doubt that there was a time when it wasn’t worth the effort but it would seem that times have changed. You will want potential subscribers to your email marketing list visiting your website, and image search can, and should, be targeted at them. It would seem that now is the time to be bothered.

    Much of the advice revolves around what Google calls ‘great user experience’. Some is obvious, such as optimise for mobile devices, and there’s a fair bit on website development and good content. Other basic advice includes not embedding text inside images. Tell your content manager.

    It suggests optimising for speed and then goes on to suggest having good quality images. I’d suggest using unique images and not going for stock photos as these often do not stand out in a search return.

    A high percentage of the advice is dedicated to alt text. We covered this in a recent article, but focused on images used in email marketing, so search was not that relevant. It is important to realise that alt text on websites has different priorities. For instance, keywords are vital, although avoid stuffing.

    When deciding on what keywords to use, ask yourself how a subscriber to your email marketing list would describe the type of image they were looking for. An image that returns unfocused results of 100,000 is not as effective as one that returns 1000 returns of your targets.

    Captions are important for search as is contextual copy. If your keyword is Florence then you need to name the town in copy on that page. Don’t just drop keywords in that have no relevant support.

    Use a title that is descriptive. In researching this article, I found one image with a title something like DSCN 1909. That’s of no use to anyone.

    Read the Google advice but keep in mind they are selling something.

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  • Check your email and landing page design Aug 30, 2018

    On advanced motorcycling courses riders are taught to have a final look, over their shoulder or along a road, before performing a manoeuvre. This is called, without any over-dramatisation, the life-saver. A final check of a marketing email or landing page is somewhat similar.

    Go through it systematically. It is all too easy to become enthusiastic about one aspect and ignore an error that is subtle. Here’s my list:

    1/ View it as a subscriber to the particular email marketing list

    It is no good creating the perfect landing page for someone not in your target audience. It is essential to keep at the front of your mind at all times whom you are appealing to.

    2/ Subject line and heading

    It is best to keep these two items together as they should relate to one another. The Subject Line will have been cut to the bone so the heading will expand on it. Ask yourself if both will grab the attention of your target. Will they interest and excite them?

    3/ Hook

    You will have based your email marketing campaign around a product that will appeal to your target. Have you emphasised that it provides a solution to a problem they are experiencing? If they just want to impress then is it cool enough? Whatever you are selling, ensure the reason for them to buy is obvious and clear.

    4/ Precision

    Check that there are no superfluous distractions. Have your customers got to make too many choices? One of the hooks might be the choice of colour. Is it easy for them to find the one they want?

    5/ Continuity

    Is there a disconnect when the subscriber clicks through to the landing page? Will they have to look around for what they want? Are both your marketing email and landing page responsive in the same way? Check on mobile, pad and desktop.

    6/ Images

    Much will depend on what you want from your images. Are they there to show how pretty a location is or is it there to convey a specific message? Are they the right size? Do they perform their function? Test them on all devices.

    7/ Read it out loud

    Start at the top and read all the words in a loud voice. Does it run smoothly? If you find it a bit clunky, or there’s too much repetition, then imagine how a reader new to it will feel.

    8/ Stand back

    Hold your mobile at arm’s length or get up from your desktop. An overview of the email or the page can show up any imbalance. It’s a difficult thing to describe but more obvious from a distance.

    9/ Second opinion

    Ask someone else what they think of what you’ve done. Thank them even if they are critical. Another point of view can pick out what should have been obvious.

    10/ Stop fiddling with it

    Once they pass the tests above, then publish them. It is all too easy to think you might have missed something, and one more read through, a few changes, will make it perfect.

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