5 Basic Email Template Styles

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Email Marketing

If you want to speak plainly to your visitors in your email marketing campaigns it is best to choose email templates which allow the recipient to concentrate on the email message instead of hassling with trying to read the format. Some email templates are not readable depending upon the type of email client, browser, and Internet connectivity your customers use.

While it is nice to impress your customers with a professional looking fancy email design, if they have to go through hassles to try and read it they will not appreciate it. In this instance, they would much rather receive an email message that is simple and straight to the point which easily delivers quality information.

When an email template is deconstructed it has three basic elements which include the header, content, and footer. To ensure that the email message can be read by all browsers and email clients you can divide the three elements into tables which can be made up of rows and columns which make up basic email template styles.

Left or Right Sidebar Template

This is a basic email template style which contains a simple setup with a left or right sidebar which helps your reader easily find the articles they want to read by clicking on links in the sidebar. The articles are placed in consecutive order down the template and the links simply help the reader to navigate easily to the content they want to read. There are also some quick links in the sidebar which will provide an easy way for your readers to register for a promotion, read news updates, and other information associated with your online business.

Press Release Template

If you have news you want to announce to your subscribers you can use a simple press release template which includes a header with your contact information, a brief block of content for your announcement and perhaps a simple logo or personal photo.

Post Card Template

This is a basic email template which resembles a business card only that it expresses something to your customer such as appreciation for their business, a coupon, or some other brief type of information you want to convey to the customer. It consists of a simple header section and smaller area below the header to place your message and signature.

Promotion Template

A promotion template is designed to deliver a special offer to your customers and consists of a header with your business information and a content section explaining your offer. If it is multiple offers you can design the template in a simple format with horizontal columns and then place your signature in the footer of the promotion.

Business Letter Template

The business letter template allows you to express the customer’s value to your business or some other type of communication you wish to express to the customer. It is a simple template design with a header for your company name and contact information with a content table for the body of the message. You can include a simple small image if you wish with your signature in the footer.

All of these types of email templates are deconstructed into the simple table format with the three basic elements. They are simple, professional looking, and allow your customer to focus on your message hassle-free.

Did we leave out an email template format that you think is critical?

Share your preferred email template format in the comments.

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Anatomy Of A Social Media Calendar

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Social Media Marketing

You may think of social media as informal and spontaneous when communicating with others. This is partially true and you should be yourself when you engage in social media so people sense that you are being genuine in your communications. However when you take social media to the business level it is important to plan a social media strategy to meet specific business objectives. This does not mean changing your communications to being so well planned that they are robotic. Instead it means simply planning a direction when you use social media to lead you to your business goals.

Social media planning is must if you want to relate to your customers through a form of communication they prefer. For this reason, many online businesses are planning their social media strategies with a social media calendar. Here is an example of how a social media calendar is set up:

Create Specific Campaigns

You can create specific social media campaigns and break them down by the week and then further by the day. You can use a spreadsheet to accomplish this or an app such as Google Calendar. Social media campaigns must contain enough detailed information to provide metrics for monitoring the campaign so you can make improvements in the future.

Campaign Tasks

In this area of the social media calendar you should spell out specifically what tasks need to be accomplished for each portion of your social media marketing campaign. If you have a staff or freelancers helping you assign each task to a specific person.

Blog Posts

Most social media marketing campaigns are centered on a specific theme of blog posts. The blog serves as the center of initiating all social media conversations and provides more details when you refer to a particular topic or event when communicating through social media. For example, if you have a strategy for tweets on Twitter, there is only so much you can say in the 140 characters but you can refer your followers to a post in your blog that relates to the topic of discussion and provides more details.

Deadlines

Your social media calendar should also include a deadline date for each specific task. Deadlines help to keep your social media marketing campaign on schedule as much as possible regardless if you meet the deadlines on the specified dates or you experience some delays. The fact that the date is there helps to provide a motivator to keep forging ahead toward the end goal.

Date of Completion

You can also provide a place in your social media calendar which indicates when a task has been completed so you can get an overview of how the entire social media campaign is progressing and where you can try to make improvements and modifications.

Although you have a social media calendar in place it is important to remember to be genuine and approachable, and to stay engaged while returning to the objectives in your social media calendar at consistent intervals.

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Modern Affiliate Lifestyle

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

Content based affiliate marketing has allowed a lot of people who are looking for an alternative way to make money to set up their own virtual business from their home. Instead of starting a business from scratch affiliate marketing can help you begin with a viable business model that is less risky and thanks to new technology more people are ditching the high gas prices, expensive day-care and wasteful commutes to work from home on their own terms.

Before we explain content based affiliate marketing let’s define what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing involves promoting a product with the revenues shared between the affiliate marketer and the merchant. Commissions for an affiliate marketing program are based on calculations which include number of sales, click throughs, or membership registration or a combination of these different models.

When you register to market an affiliate product you are assigned an affiliate code which will identify you whenever the consumer makes a purchase, clicks through an ad, or any other type of action that credits you with the action that they take.

If you happen to choose to create your own product, you can set up a network of affiliate marketers who will promote your product and drive traffic to your website in exchange for a percentage of the sale.

Content Based Affiliate Marketing

Content based affiliate marketing is the newest way to generate income with an affiliate product without having to worry about shipping and inventory. The merchant takes care of all the logistics and all you have to do is create your website, offer quality content, feature the merchant’s product, and then do the necessary marketing to drive traffic to your website.

When you use content based affiliate marketing you choose a quality product and then build the website content around the affiliate product. For example, if the affiliate product is an iPod then you would offer quality content on your site related to iPods. When you use marketing techniques to drive traffic to your website the content you use would be related to iPods.

When you look for an affiliate product you will find a plethora of options to choose from. It is best if you choose a product you are knowledgeable about and one that brings value to the customer. If you know a lot about the topic of the product it makes it easier to create content that will keep your visitors interested and encourage them to opt-into your mailing list.

The Internet is all about information and Internet marketing is all about content. The more quality content you offer, the more targeted traffic you will receive to your affiliate website.

Benefits of Content Based Affiliate Marketing

In addition to hitting the ground running with an online business, content affiliate marketing offers the potential for automation when it comes to running different aspects to the business and the opportunity to create multiple streams of income. With the inception of new technology and content management systems that are quite easy to use, you do not necessarily have to be a web designer who is also well versed in Internet marketing strategies.

 

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Say Canonicalization Three Times Fast

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Search Engine Optimization

Although canonicalization sounds like an overwhelmingly hard to pronounce word it is better described as providing good SEO for your website. When you look at the lengthy word this probably sounds like a relief however there are a few steps involved with canonicalization that make up a sound SEO strategy.

First, let’s clear up exactly what canonicalization is. When you use the term in reference to website URLs it is the process of using more than one representation which means the same thing. Huh? In other words, an example of a canonical URL might be www.domain.com, domain.com/index.html, and www.domain.com/index.html. All three domain URLs mean the same thing but which one do you want the search engine to choose?

Quick Tips on Single Canonicalization for Better Google Ranking

One of the biggest mistakes webmasters make is not being consistent when it comes to the internal linking strategy that they construct for their website. Simply put…if you confuse Google your ranking will suffer. What’s more if Google chooses the URL which is not your top priority your online business may suffer. So how do you solve this dilemma?

Choose the Preferred URL and Be Consistent: Choose the URL address that you want the search engine spiders to choose and then be consistent across the board. If your choice is www.domain.com/index.html then use this URL consistently within your linking structure.

Why? Well if some of your internal links point to domain.com/index.html while others on the site point to www.domain.com the popularity of the number of links pointing to the domain name URLs gets divided according to the two URLs. This will result in a lower ranking with the Google search engine.

The same rule applies to incoming links to your website. If you choose one URL across the board for your site, use the same URL address for your incoming links.

Communicate Your Preference to Google: It also helps to tell Google which URL address it is that you prefer they use for indexing with the search engine. If you use a tool such as Google Sitemaps this tool offers the opportunity to choose the canonical URL you prefer for your website. Sitemaps are a tool you use to provide instructions to the search engine spider for exactly how you want it to crawl the pages of your site.

301 Redirects: A 301 redirect is a method which is used by webmasters to provide a search engine friendly way to redirect traffic to a specific web page. The code “301″ is interpreted by the search engine spider as the page being moved permanently. So if you rename the URL of your page the old URL is followed by the new URL address. This is accomplished by using an .htaccess file which is a text file created in Notepad before it is uploaded to the root folder of your website. The text file for .htaccess might look something like this:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain.com$[NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1[R=301,L]

This is what the instructions look like when the search engine spider crawls your pages and looks at the file. You will see the old URL followed by the new URL in the code. The code which looks foreign is the language that is used to communicate with the search engine spider. You can also test the redirect by typing in the old URL address which should automatically take you to the new URL address.

These are some of the reasons why canonicalization is important to your site rankings as well as specific page ranks in the search engine results. This is why canonicalization is all about SEO, SEO, and SEO.

 

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FTC Disclosure Statements

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Web Operations

The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit deceptive acts in advertising by businesses both online and offline. However, not until recently has the FTC started expanding commerce laws which apply to offline business to the online environment. This move comes as a result of the increasing number of businesses who are establishing a presence online to take part in the explosion of ecommerce.

Recent ecommerce legislation by the FTC has tightened up on the regulations that surround the requirements for disclosure statements when marketing online. The new regulations apply to testimonials, blogging, and affiliate marketing, and failure to follow the laws can result in stiff penalty fines.

Blogger Compensation

Many bloggers generate revenue from their blog by participating in affiliate marketing programs. These are programs that pay a commission to the blogger for recommending a product that is relevant to the topic of their blog. Under new ecommerce legislation by the FTC, bloggers who receive compensation from affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates, Clickbank, or any other type of affiliate program are subject to a disclosure statement.

Since there is an incentive between the blogger and the creator of the affiliate product the FTC feels that this could affect the credibility of the recommendation by the blogger. Therefore, the blogger must disclose that they are a participant in an affiliate product program. This is especially true if you are reviewing a product in exchange for free samples for writing a review in your blog. The disclosure statement must include exactly when you received the product for review free of charge.

Consumer Testimonials

If you have surfed the web to any great length you have probably noticed consumer testimonials that seem to appear in a lot of different websites. In the past, you have probably wondered whether or not they are actually true. Well, under new ecommerce legislation by the FTC, you must be ready to verify the source of the testimonial upon request. You must also add a disclosure statement that explains in detail the typical expected results that a consumer can expect from the product.

For example, if a testimonial states that someone lost 80 pounds in a month using your weight loss product where most clients lose 30 pounds in a month, you are required to provide a disclosure statement that explains the typical results that can be expected. The old phrase of “results not typical” no longer flies with the FTC.

Disclosure Placement

Under the Dot Com Disclosures, the FTC also requires certain placement of the disclosure statements. Under this legislation, the disclosure statement should be placed as close to the claim as possible. If you are using hyperlinks which lead to the disclosure, the link must be visible and labeled appropriately. Disclosures which are placed in pop-ups or frames must contain an alternative method of displaying the disclosure in the event of technological limitations or popup blockers.

With the increased number of businesses turning to an online presence, it is important to keep up with the latest developments in ecommerce legislation. What we have described here is only the beginning of a long process of new rules and regulations enforced by the FTC.

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Advanced Topics in Ecommerce Security

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Web Operations

If you have started to build an ecommerce business with SSL and you are ready to take things to the next level, stepping up ecommerce security is a must if you want the consumer to be confident when they shop on your ecommerce website. Solid ecommerce security also shows that you are concerned about the welfare and safety of your customers and that you care about the quality of your online business.

Here are a few things you should be concerned about when increasing the security on your ecommerce website:

PCI Compliance 1024

If you already have a website you are probably aware that the Payment Card Industry (PCI) has security standards which you must meet to protect the personal and financial data which your customers provide when they do business with you. One of the standards which are enforced by the Payment Card Industry is specific requirements for encryption if payment card information is stored with the consumer’s personal information. The standard required encryption rate to be PCI compliant is 1024-bit where it was originally only 128-bit.

2048-bit Encryption

When you obtain an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate it ensures that all personal payment information which is submitted by your customer is secure from their browser to the server. The standard bit encryption is 128 bit to 1024 bit however certificate providers are creating security certificates to be future proof by making them 2048-bit ready which is the 2010 expected industry standard.

Extended Validation SSL

The Extended Validation Standard was developed to provide added assurance of website ownership as well as the business identity. The verification process is conducted by a Certificate Authority before the business owner is awarded an Extended Validation SSL.

Website owners apply for Extended Validation SSL to place their business in a leadership position. When customers visit your website which is secured with Extended Validation SSL the location where your website URL address is displayed in the browser will turn green. To the right of your website URL address there will be another bar which will also turn green and toggle between the name of your business and the Certificate Authority (CA) that granted Extended Validation.

Extended Validation helps your customers feel confident when they do business with you because they know you have gone the extra mile to obtain an Extended Validation SSL. This is a plus during a time when identity theft is on the rise and consumers are concerned about submitting sensitive information. It will also give you the edge on your competition when a consumer reviews both websites and notices that yours is more secure. The chances are they will choose your website over the one that does not have an Extended Validation SSL.

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How to Choose an Email Service Provider

Written by Debra Leitl on May 13, 2010. Posted in Email Marketing

How to Choose an Email Service ProviderPodcast Transcript

Many websites, blogs, eBooks, and courses online give advice on email marketing but most assume you already have a list. They skip the fundamental first step. The problem is, there are many people out there (you might be included in that list) that haven’t even started a list. You may be still trying to decide HOW to get started and what program to use. If that’s the case for you, keep listening to learn the basics of starting an email list. One of the most important decisions you will make in building your email list is choosing an ESP or Email Service Provider. Your email service provider is the company and platform you choose to host your email list and deliver your email content to people’s inboxes. Using a company host your mailing list provides you with many advantages. The thing that puts a speed bump in most people’s path is that they don’t really know what they should be looking for when selecting an ESP.

Social Media Brand Strategy

Written by Debra Leitl on May 13, 2010. Posted in Social Media Marketing

Social Media Brand StrategyPodcast Transcript

That’s combining social media and branding into one strategy across multiple platforms twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, maybe even MySpace, Google Buzz, etcetera.

So to create a social media brand strategy or SM brand strategy, or SMS, or brand strategy for social media, we look at it – Creating the strategy is 4 steps.

The first step is to define your objective.

The second step is to organize; put down a plan, timeline, a roadmap.

Step three, actively listen

Step four is to engage your social audience.

What Is E-commerce

Written by Debra Leitl on May 13, 2010. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

What Is EcommercePodcast Transcript 

I think about that a lot and e-commerce is constantly changing because commerce drives the global economy.

It is very simple, businesses are doing a good job of catching up with technology and technology that was created specifically for commerce transactions.

Why should you care about e-commerce and it’s technology? Very good question.

E-commerce is not simply conducting business online. There are many ways to transact and conduct business that drive this global economy.

Why Making Your Website Mobile Can’t Wait

Written by Debra Leitl on May 13, 2010. Posted in Web Operations

Why Making Your Website Mobile Can’t WaitPodcast Transcript

Sticking your head in the sand won’t make it go away.

It is important to take the time to understand how to make mobile technology work for your business. You need to get past the misconception that it makes life more complex, or is giving you more work to do, once you get past that you will find many pleasant surprises.

Searches from mobile devices on Google has increased 3000% in the last 3 years since the release of the first iphone. 3000%, that is absolutely insane growth.

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