If you have a business web site on a content management system (CMS) like Joomla or WordPress, chances are that you have extended the platform with some sort of email functionality. Or maybe you are also operating a CRM or ecommerce site and have a feature to send notices to customers and clients.
If so and you are also using a WYSIWYG editor to create content on your site, you may run into a problem.
WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get.” Rather than having to code in HTML to create the content for your web pages, a WYSIWYG editor displays formatting icons to make formatting web content just as easy as if you were typing in Microsoft Word. The majority of web platforms today either come with or have extensions to add a WYSIWYG editor for users.
However, WYSIWYG’s will also manipulate your text, such as cleaning up improperly formatted HTML elements (helpful,) stripping style elements (not always so helpful,) and setting the paths for inserted images and links.
Most editors can be configured to set either absolute or relative paths for images and urls.
An absolute url is one where the entire url is included, for example http://legacymarketingservices.com/file/images/cutepic.png. The problem with this method is that it make your content very easy to be scraped and republished on other web sites, resulting not only in the theft of your content, but the bandwidth as well.
Because of this, many webmasters use relative url’s in the content in which the base domain is left out (for example /file/images/cutepic.png.) If an article and it’s corresponding images were republished on another web site, the images would not display since obviously they are not stored on the copycat’s server.
HTML Emails and WYSIWYG Editors
Relative urls and WYSIWYG’s are great for web content, the problem comes in with the HTML email.
If you want to create a pretty HTML email with images and links, those pictures must be uploaded and stored on your server and then the images must be linked to with absolute urls where most editors are configured to convert them to relative.
Are you beginning to see the dilemma?
You are probably saying to yourself, “Well I can just enter the absolute urls manually.” The problem is that the editor will automatically convert them anyway.
For example, let’s say I want to put a link in an HTML email to my events page at http://legacymarketingservices.com/events. The editor would strip that down to /events. Again, not a problem in a web page; however, if it is put in an email without the base domain included the reader would end up with a “page not found error.”
So how do you get around this issue without giving up the convenience of an editor
The Email Solution
Here is the fix. The editor is configured to work with the base domain of your site configuration. Any time it sees a link that includes that exact domain, it will parse the url.
If your configuration is set to http://www.yourdomain.com, then manually enter the link as http://yourdomain.com (no www.) If your configuration is set to http://yourdomain.com, do the opposite and manually enter the link at http://www.yourdomain.com.
The links will still resolve to the same page, but the editor will view it as a difference domain and will leave it as is.
As a web site developer, I make a habit of trying out different CMS and ecommerce platforms so I can counsel clients on the best option for their business. But my favorite standby’s are Joomla and WordPress.
Many people are familiar with the standard self-hosted version of WordPress (available for download at WordPress.org) and the hosted version at WordPress.com. However, not as many people are familiar with WordPress Multi User (commonly referred to as WordPress MU or WPMU,) which is a shame because it blasts the possibilities open for publishing multiple and collaborative sites.
What is WordPress MU
Again and again on various forums I read common misconceptions about the WordPress MU platform. Many people believe that it can only be used for sites that provide users blogs on a subdomain such as WordPress.com does (username.wordpress.com.)
It can do that, but that is not the only way it can be used. It can also be used to run separate sites on their own domain. For example, let’s say you have a thing about scrapbooking and you want to create several sites for the different forms of scrapbooking. So you buy the domains creative-scrapbooking.com, digital-scrapbooking.com, and wedding-scrapbooks.com.
(This is just an example and I’m just throwing them out there. I have no idea if they are available or how competitive or how good the keywords are.)
Next, you go to your hosting account and install WordPress MU using one of the domains for the base install. You then go to the WPMU administration panel to add the second and third sites. You now have three separate sites with unique domain names on one installation of WPMU.
Each site will have it’s own administration area that can be accessed by going to http://domain.com/wp-admin/. Each site can have it’s own unique theme, different plugins can be used on each, and additional users can be added to one or all of the sites.
Now let’s say your friend Mary is a wedding photographer and wants to blog about wedding photos and creating a photo list for shots that will work well in scrapbooks. You can create a subdomain on the wedding-scrapbooks.com site, photos.wedding-scrapbook.com, and add her as a user to that blog. Mary will have access to her own admin panel for photos.wedding-scrapbooks.com but not to the main site, wedding-scrapbooks.com or either of the other two domains that are on that WordPress MU platform. Pretty cool isn’t it?
So now you have three sites with a total of four “blogs.”
WordPress MU can be used for multiple sites and multiple subdomains with blogs at the same time.
Why Use WordPress MU?
So why use WPMU rather than multiple installations of the standard version of WordPress?
The main reason is that it makes updates extremely easy. If you have three, thirty or three hundred sites on individual WordPress installs, even though WordPress is very easy to keep updated, it still takes time to go through all the installations to update the platform and the plugins. With WPMU, you only have one platform and one set of plugins to update.
It also saves a huge amount of time when setting up your site. There are a number of programs out there that automate WordPress installations, but with WordPress MU, after redirecting your new domain, it is a three minute process to add a new site. Also, you don’t have to install plugins again. They are already installed and just have to be activated for that particular site.
The same is true of themes. Multiple themes can be available on the WPMU installation and you can specify which themes are available to each blog. When installing themes on a WPMU installation, remember that one theme may be used on a number of different sites. So it is better to go with themes that have a theme administration panel for features that need to be unique to a particular site rather than having them hard coded in the theme itself.
Is WPMU for Me?
If you are planning on having more than one web site on WordPress MU, I think that it makes sense. However, in the next major update of the WordPress platform, 3.0, the WordPress and WPMU projects will be merged and every installation of WordPress will have multi site and multi user capabilities.
If you are just now starting out with online publishing, I would frame your site and content strategy based on a multi site portal.
WordPress MU is Now WordPress Multisite
As of WordPress 3.0, WordPress Multi User and the single version edition of WordPress have merged into one platform offering. Each install of WordPress is now capable of operating in multisite mode. If you have an existing WPMU site that needs to be migrated or would like to launch WordPress using the multisite platform, please contact us.
Today we had our first “Blogger’s Breakfast” here in Kingwood. I planned on pictures, but I walked out of the house without my camera. 🙁
Since working with quite a few online publishers and bloggers locally, I thought it would be fun to have a monthly get together to exchange tips and ideas. Before planning the event, I asked a friend of mine, Sahnya Shulterbrant, if she would be willing to cohost the event with me. I met Sahnya when she called needing some updates and modifications to her Joomla based site. As we have a lot of similar interests, that project led to a friendship. She and her husband, Gene, publish TexasontheGo.com which provide information and opportunities for doing business in Texas. They were recently recognized by the City of Austin for their efforts.
Besides Sahnya and Gene, Matt Russell with MTR Financial and Ellen Delap, a professional organizer, also attended. Both Matt and Ellen have written articles for me for the Kingwood Connection so I was familiar with their writing. I knew that Matt had a blog, but I didn’t know that Ellen had added one to her site as well until today.
Blogging Platforms and SEO
It was interesting that we had people using each of the three main blogging platforms. Sahnya and Gene use Joomla, Matt is on Blogger/Blogspot, and Ellen uses WordPress. I have sites on both Joomla and WordPress.
One of the things we touched on is SEO optimization for blogs and/or database driven sites. There is a widespread belief that if you use a content management system (CMS) or blogging platform that you don’t have as much control over SEO elements and are at a disadvantage. This is just not the case. Think about what those key SEO elements are: a unique page title, a title meta tag, a meta description, and meta keywords. There is no reason that a database driven web site can’t populate that data, it is just that most of the time a stock install doesn’t.
The easy answer to this issue is to make sure that your platform is set up to allow you to enter that information. Most people are familiar with the All-in-One SEO pack for WordPress that allows you to specify the title, description and keywords on a page or post basis. It is one of my stock plugins that I install on every single WordPress site I develop.
Not as many people are familiar with how to do the same for Joomla. I’m going to tell you my secret for developing search engine friendly Joomla sites . . . SEF Patch from Joomla-at-Work.com.
This component is even better than the All-in-One SEO pack for WordPress. Not only does it allow you to set the article title, description and keywords, but it also let’s you set the author meta tag and the robots index/follow setting for the page (you can do this with WordPress as well, but it’s a separate plugin.) It also adds the option in the site global configuration for the default description and keywords.
So far, all this is pretty similar to the WordPress plugin, but here is where it starts to pull away. If you have used a Joomla site before, you know that everything hinges around the menus. What is displayed is determined by the menu item’s settings. The SEF Patch ads the ability to set the meta information for any menu item, excluding an individual article link. So if you link to a category page, normally this would have the default meta information (WordPress does this as well,) but this component allows you to specify unique meta information including the page title. This has a huge impact on your site’s search engine rankings.
Trust me on this. There is quite a bit of competition for my Kingwood site, but if someone submits an article or press release to my site as well as the two other online community sites and newspaper sites, my site will rank #1 in Google for searches related to that article 75% of the time. Most of the time with a double listing. It just takes a site that is properly configured and some basic SEO tactics.
How much is this component? It is ridiculously inexpensive. There is even a free version, although you have to hack the core files to install it. The paid version is an actual component that you install through the standard Joomla installer. It is only € 14, so around $20 to $21 depending on what the U.S. dollar is doing. Compare that to what you would spend on a pay per click campaign if you can’t get your sites to rank organically.
We are going to hold the Bloggers’ Breakfast the first Wednesday of each month. So if you are in the Kingwood area, check the Facebook page for the next date. If you’re in the Greater Houston area, we would love for you to come. I promise we don’t bite. 🙂
If you don’t have a blog yet and aren’t sure where to start, contact me to start your blogging journey.
One thing that I frequently spend quite a bit of time on with new clients is issues with their domain name. If someone needs a domain name, I refer them to Godaddy. Sometimes if they absolutely don’t want to mess with domain registration or if I know that they won’t keep the registration current, I will manage it for them and just bill them later.
While many web development companies resell domain registration along with hosting and web design, that is just not something that I have wanted to delve into for two main reasons. First, we are just talking about a margin of a couple of dollars a year and unless you are doing a high volume, it’s just not worth it.
The second reason, and the most important one, is that when someone buys a service through me, they expect me to be able to fix it if they have a problem. If there is an issue with their web site, I can handle it. If it is a problem with their hosting or email, I can make sure that it is fixed.
However if I resold domain registrations and someone let their domain name expire or had their domain unlocked and the nameservers were transferred, there is literally nothing I can do about it. The last thing I want to do is put my company in a situation where a client has an expectation that I can fix their problem and my hands are tied. Those couple of dollars a year (see above) just aren’t worth it.
I have written post after post about this, but I can’t say strongly enough how important it is for you to protect your business domain name. If you had a phone number for years and it had been in all your advertising and your clients had it in their phone directories, what do you think would happen if suddenly one day that phone number started directing calls to a competitor? What do you think that would do to your business?
That is exactly what can happen if you let your domain name expire or lose control of your domain.
Here again are a few tips for protecting your domain name:
Keep Your Contact Information Current
The registrant information on file at your registrar should ALWAYS be kept current and make sure emails from your registrar don’t get sent to your SPAM filter. Every registrar will send you reminder emails 60 to 90 days before the domain expires.
Keep Your Domain Locked
Your domain registrar should have a feature to “lock” your domain name to prevent transfers. If it is unlocked and someone submits a transfer request, you will have to deny that request or it will automatically be transferred. If you aren’t paying attention to emails related to your domain name or if your email isn’t current, you will have a big problem on your hands.
This should be a standard feature, you shouldn’t have to pay extra for it.
Keep your Domain Registration Independent from Your Hosting
You should never get into a situation where your domain registration is tied into your hosting. Some registrars, like Godaddy and Network Solutions, do also offer hosting; however, one isn’t conditional on the other. For example with Godaddy, you can register a domain, add hosting to it, and then if you later wanted to cancel the hosting you would still have the domain and be able to use it on another hosting account. (This article explains the basics of a web site and how domains, hosting, and web pages work together.)
You should be able to direct your domain name to point to any hosting service, and if you can’t then run.
I have spent hours over the past week trying to help someone who had signed up for a new hosting service with another company. That new company not only transferred the web site files, but also their domain names to a new registrar. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, except for that the registrar it was transferred to is a wholesaler and the only way the site owner can manage the domain name is through the hosting AND the hosting company only allows the domain to be pointed to their own hosting service . . . essentially locking the site owner into their hosting unless they switch registrars once again. Which brings me to the next point . . .
Plan Any Domain Registrar Changes Carefully
If you plan to switch registrars, (say for example, from DirectNic to Godaddy), make sure that transfer is absolutely what you want to do. If you switch registrars or change the registrant information, you can’t switch again for 60 days. When I bought a domain from an auction on SnapNames, I couldn’t transfer it over to my GoDaddy account for 60 days. In the situation I mentioned above, the site owner is literally stuck on hosting where his site won’t function because the hosting service that the domain management is tied into won’t allow a change of nameservers and he can’t change to a registrar that would allow him that capability for another 60 days.
Never EVER Let Your Domain Expire
Let me repeat that.
Never, EVER let your domain expire.
This is a big, BIG deal. Some people think that if you let your domain expire that you can just go back and reregister it. NO. That is not the case . . . as in a great big NO.
If you let your domain expire, this is what happens. Most registrars will give you a grace period, it’s different for each one, maybe 5 days to a week. During the grace period, you may experience an interruption in your domain direction but you can renew as you normally would.However, there have been a couple of times that I have had an eye on a domain name and the registrar put it into expired status immediately.
After that grace period, it will go into a redemption period. This time frame varies by registrar. During the redemption period, you can still renew or “redeem” your domain name; however, it will cost you a redemption fee in addition to your renewal fee to do so. The amount varies by registrar, I’ve heard between $75 to $150.
After the redemption period, the domain goes into “pending delete” status. At that point, you can’t get it back prior to the domain dropping and it will sit there until the domain is deleted from the registry record.
Once the domain registration “drops,” it will become available and there is an entire industry around picking up dropped domains. Trust me, it is highly unlikely that you as an individual will be able to beat a domainer in reregistering a dropped domain that has any search engine credibility at all.
What will most likely happen is that the domain will be picked up by one of these companies and held. They will either make their money back by putting up Adsense sites on the domain and getting money from the click throughs from visitors coming to find you, or they will sell the domain back to you at a premium. At the point, you will have to pay whatever they ask to get it back.
So again . . . don’t let your domain expire.
Yes, they are cheap and because of that many people don’t place much importance on them. However, your business’s domain name has much greater value than the $10 a year it takes to keep the registration current. The longer you have that domain and the more prominence you build in the search engines, the greater that value becomes.
Don’t lose that value in one fell swoop over carelessness.
One of the web site solutions that Legacy Marketing Services offers is Business Builder web sites. This is our option for business who want a web site, need it fast, and also want a web site that is search engine friendly.
We developed this option after working with many small businesses who went the DIY route with one of the many site builder options and were frustrated in their attempts to get the site looking the way they wanted as well as the poor search engine rankings for their keywords.
The Business Builder program is not a “DIY” route (we set it up for you), but it is a “manage it yourself” option.
Below is a video on how to edit and update a page using the system.
For our current clients, the video is also located in the Knowledge base for easy reference.
Today’s email marketing tip comes from Tom Kulzer, CEO of Aweber. Aweber is one of the leading email marketing subscription services, the email service of choice for the top internet marketers.
Your web business probably gets product inquiries from potential customers around the globe. Inquiries come via e-mail and your web site, and you try to send information to each hot prospect as quickly as you can. You know that you can drastically increase the likelihood of making a sale by satisfying each person’s need for information quickly!
But, after you’ve delivered that first bit of information to your prospect, do you send him any further information?
If you are like most Internet marketers, you don’t.
When you don’t follow that initial message with additional information later on, you let a valuable prospect slip from your grasp! This is a potential customer who may have been very interested in your products, but who lost your contact information, or was too busy to make a purchase when your first message reached him.
Often, a prospect will purposely put off making a purchase, to see if you find him important enough to follow up with later. When he doesn’t receive a follow up message from you, he will take his business elsewhere.
Are you losing profits due to inconsistent and ineffective follow up?
Following up with leads is more than just a process – it’s an art. In order to be effective, you need to design a follow up system, and stick to it, EVERY DAY! If you don’t follow up with your prospects consistently, INDIVIDUALLY, and in a timely fashion, then you might as well forget the whole follow up process.
Consistent follow up gets results!
When I first started marketing and following up with prospects, I used a follow up method that I now call the “List Technique.” I had a large database containing the names and e-mail addresses of people who had specifically requested information about my products and services. These prospects had already received my first letter by the time they requested more information, so I used the company’s latest news as a follow up piece.
I would write follow up newsletters every now and then, and send them, in one mass mailing, to everyone who had previously requested information from me. While this probably did help me win a few additional orders, it wasn’t a very good follow up method. Why isn’t the “List Technique” very effective?
- The List Technique isn’t consistent. Proponents of the List Technique tend to only send out follow up messages when their companies have “big news”.
- List Technique messages don’t give the potential customer any additional information about the product or service in question. He can’t make a more informed buying decision after receiving a newsletter! If someone is wondering whether your company sells the best knick-knacks, what does he care that you’ve just moved your headquarters?
- List Technique messages convey a “big list” mentality to your potential customers. When I used to write follow up messages using the List Technique, I was writing news bulletins to everyone I knew! I should have been sending a personal message to each individual who wanted to know more about my products.
What follow up method really works?
Following up with each lead individually, multiple times, but at set intervals, and with pre-written messages, will dramatically increase sales! Others who use this same technique confirm that they have all at least doubled the sales of various products! In order to set this system up, though, you need to do some planning.
First, you’ll need to develop your follow up messages. If you’ve been marketing on the Internet for any length of time, then you should already have a first informative letter. Your second letter marks the beginning of the follow up process, and should go into more detail than the first letter. Fill this letter with details that you didn’t have the space to add to the first letter. Stress the BENEFITS of your products or services!
Your next 2-3 follow up messages should be rather short. Include lists of the benefits and potential uses of your products and services. Write each letter so that your prospects can skim the contents, and still see the full force of your message.
The next couple of follow up messages should create a sense of urgency in your prospect’s mind. Make a special offer, giving him a reason to order NOW instead of waiting any longer. After reading these follow up messages, your prospect should want to order immediately!
Phrase each of your final 1 or 2 follow up messages in the form of a question. Ask your prospect why he hasn’t yet placed an order? Try to get him to actually respond. Ask if the price is to high, the product isn’t the right color or doesn’t have the right features, or if he is looking for something else entirely. (By this time, it’s unlikely that this person will order from you. However, his feedback can help you modify your follow up letters or products, so that other prospects will order from you.)
The timing of your follow up letters is just as important as their content. You don’t want one prospect to receive a follow up the day after he gets your initial informative letter, while another prospect waits weeks for a follow up!
Always send an initial, informative letter as soon as it is requested, and send the first follow up 24 hours afterwards. You want your hot prospects to have information quickly, so that they can make informed buying decisions!
Send the next 2-3 follow up messages between 1 and 3 days apart. Your prospect is still hot, and is probably still shopping around! Tell him about the benefits of your products and services, as opposed to your competitors’. You will make the sale!
Send the final follow up messages later on. You certainly don’t want to annoy your prospect! Make sure that these last letters are at least 4 days apart.
Following up effectively seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! So many potential customers are lost because of poor follow up – don’t you want to be one of the few to get it right?
Did this article inspire you to add email marketing to your marketing campaign? Try out the features and power of Aweber for only $1. Want to plan a campaign? Contact us for a customized marketing plan.