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5 Reasons Why You Need A Blog

2 December 2020

The plain truth is that blogs are just good for business. Year after year, the inertia of the internet has proven this fact. An active blog drives customers to you, and serves to polish your brand in the digital marketplace.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Keywords have been, and continue to be the building blocks of SEO. Blogs are a fun and easy way to saturate your site with the right keywords. More importantly, the spiders of the search engines like crawling on fresh, new pages, and updating your blog puts your site perpetually back into orbit.

Finally, if you're able to get a really rockin' blog going, you can have other sites regularly linking to your posts. Links back to your web site are the ultimate weapon in the game of Search Engine Optimization, so it's worthwhile not only having a blog, put putting a little love into it as well.

2. Writing The Industry Handbook

You would consider yourself a professional in your field, wouldn't you? When you write blog posts that contain useful, valuable information, you have the power of immediately providing insightful answers to those in need. This serves to set you apart, and establish your brand as someone with unique expertise.

As your blog continues to mature, it will inevitably become a comprehensive resource, covering an extensive range of topics. Over time, a quality blog can turn into a true business primer. Then you can tell people you literally wrote the book on your industry!

3. Social Media

These days, having an online presence extends beyond just having a beautiful website. The internet has become a living environment, teeming with activity. Today's businessperson is expected to be part of the ongoing interaction.

Blogs are an easy way to stay involved. Better yet, they allow you to cultivate the conversation on your own terms. When making a blog post, it helps to ask the right questions, and invite your readers to be involved in the discussion. You can grow the talking circle by sharing every post to Facebook or Twitter.

4. Start a Dialogue With Your Customers

Every successful business needs quality customer service. As a consequence of the internet age, it can be difficult to put a personal touch on what you're doing. Online consumers can understandably feel alienated with all that cyberspace between you and them.

By blogging often, and then merging that with your social media, you're not only starting a group discussion, you're also inviting people into individual conversation. Whether they're mere comments or important questions, you're creating an avenue for customers to reach you directly. And if potential clients notice how responsive you are on social media, you can bet they'll feel pretty comfortable contacting you.

5. Create A Call-To-Action

A company that consistently creates quality content is likely to hook more new customers than one who remains stagnant. Whether online users are looking for an answer to a question, or they secretly feel like making an impulse purchase, blog posts undeniably create an opportunity to convert clicks into new business.

Whatever your products or services are, you can talk about them from many different angles. Don't be afraid to use your blog to push a certain item. Many online purchases happen after having read about it on a blog.

Conclusion

We can all agree that the internet has become an ever-increasing database of useful information. But to be honest, it's also become a depository for minutia as well. Keep this in mind while writing your blog – a little bit of love goes a long way.

For more information about blogs and social media, feel free to Contact Us today!

Spam Defense: [at] vs. @ in Email Addresses

2 December 2020

There's no denying that spamming is quite the shady business. There are a lot of folks who participate in these kinds of activities, often because the start-up costs are minimal, and the return can be swift. There are a number of methods spammers use to obtain email addresses, and although the defenses have become increasingly sophisticated, the battle wages on. This is why, despite your best efforts to keep your email address hidden, you will likely still wind up with loads of junk email.

Address harvesting is as old as the email itself. The most common way for spammers to obtain huge amounts of email addresses is simply to purchase or trade lists from other spammers. However, another common method is the use of automated software, called 'bots' or 'spiders.' Not unlike the software used by search engines to index web pages, these crawlers scrape the web, absorbing mounds of plain text, and delighting when they come across the @ symbol.

For this reason, you should be very cautious about where you decide to post your email address, and if you do, you should never use the @ symbol. Across every web page that HDM builds, you'll notice we use [at] instead. This way, the spiders won't recognize the text as an email address, it won't get added to an enormous list that gets traded on, and you won't be receiving all those unwanted discount travel ads.

There are other measures you can take to try to prevent spamming. It goes without saying that the worst possible move you could make is opening, and then clicking around a spam email. A common scam is the 'Unsubscribe' link which, instead of removing you from any lists, confirms that your address is active. Even if certain images within spam emails are allowed to load on your browser, you could face some trouble.

In the end, spam is almost unavoidable. However, a little caution on the internet goes a long way. For more information on protecting yourself, or if you're simply curious on why we do the things we do, feel free to Contact Us anytime.

Difference between a Soft Bounce and Hard Bounce in Email Marketing Campaigns

4 November 2020

Email marketing campaigns represent a powerful tool to reach your customers on a consistent basis. However any time you send out a message to a large list of email recipients you my encounter a bounce back error message. The various messages that you may see all reflect one of two instances which occur in email marketing, a Soft Bounce, and a Hard Bounce. Soft Bounce

A soft bounce normally happens when the receiving Mail Server is temporarily unable to receive the email. There are several reasons why this would happen. The following are typical reasons for soft bounces:
  • - No answer from host
  • - System not accepting network messages
  • - Other or undefined security status
  • - A server is unavailable or it’s down
  • - The server is overloaded
  • - The recipient’s mailbox is full
  • - Your message size is too big
Soft bounces would normally resolve itself. The HDM system would try 3 times to send your campaign to the recipient address. If the email address soft bounces 3 times, it would be considered as a hard bounce. Hard Bounce A hard bounce is more permanent. In terms of how email marketing works, one hard bounce removes the subscriber from the campaign. There are several reasons why an email would hard bounce. The main characteristic though, is that it is a permanent rejection. The following are typical reasons for hard bounces:
  • - Address does not exist
  • - Bad destination mailbox address
  • - Other or undefined network or routing status
  • - Other or undefined protocol status
  • - Routing loop detected
  • - Unable to route

As a note, the bounce codes displayed on your report page are the codes that our servers receive from the receiving mail servers. It is important to know that it’s possible that these mail servers may provide codes that do not reflect the true nature of the bounce.

How To Plan A Website

6 October 2020

Building a website for your business is one of the most exciting adventures you'll dive into. Along the way, you should let your imagination run wild, because truly, the possibilities are endless. However, too often we find that poor planning, disorganization, and a simple lack of understanding can turn a fun 10-hour project into a grueling 50-hour project. By taking a little extra time at the beginning to fully clarify everything, you can save yourself countless hours (and dollars) in the long run. Today, we've outlined some basic good practices as you prepare to watch your vision come to life.

The Deck Analogy

Building a website is analogous to building a deck for your home (as proposed by author Ben Siegel). Let's say you hire a carpenter. Without thorough planning, you simply tell them you want a deck built on the side of your house that's this long and this wide, and you give them a deadline. Well, the carpenter needs to know what kind of wood to use, how many levels it should have, whether or not you have the right building permits, etc. So those details are discussed, but only briefly, because everyone's excited to get started, and we don't want to miss that deadline.

Suppose you check back a week later. Although satisfied with the progress, you've decided you want a railing and a bench added, and understandably so, because those are lovely features that belong on a deck. However, those things weren't discussed at the beginning. The wood has already been cut, and a good portion of it has already been drilled and attached. To add those things, the carpenter would have to remove the wood and re-cut it. They'd also have to buy extra wood, costing you extra money, and the deadline would most certainly be missed. On the other hand, what's a deck without a railing and a bench?

A lot of times with web design, these kinds of details are skipped over during the preliminary planning stages. The designer may have to make some judgment calls along the way, installing legitimately useful and attractive features. However, you may find after the installation that these features are incongruent with what you initially had in mind. In this way, miscommunication and improper planning can turn the greatest projects into ones that deeply frustrate both parties. Let's take a look at how we can avoid these hurdles.

Needs Assessment

Spending a little bit of time on a thorough needs assessment will save hours of development time later on. It will also help to give you an accurate idea of how much the website will ultimately cost – without this, you'll inevitably be resigned to a vague ballpark, as each website is so different.

The first things to consider as we begin are:

Who will be contributing content?

What is the ultimate end goal of this website?

How will this website reflect the marketing persona?

Anyone on your team who has something worthwhile to contribute should be heard; while you may be the overseer of the project, as it were, you may find that someone else on your team has a knack for copywriting, or organizing an event calendar. Get all valuable staff members involved.

Having said that, the more people who participate, the more complicated communications can become. Although we encourage you to make this a team effort among your staff and your stakeholders, also be aware that some of our best websites have come from a one-on-one needs assessment. Both scenarios are great; the important thing is to get this figured out at the beginning – that way, everyone who wants to contribute will be heard, and there won't be any unnecessary uprooting halfway through for a great idea that may have flown beneath the radar.

The good news is that here at HDM, we've got all the resources you'll need – so if you're only providing your ideas, that will always be enough, as long as we can communicate.

The next thing to have in mind is the website's end goal.

What type of business are you? What are the needs of your client base? And most importantly, what do you hope to accomplish? Is this website purely to inform? Are you going to be selling your products online, or are you simply trying to incite contact from potential clients? The answers to these questions will have a direct impact on the structure and design of your custom website.

Finally, we need to consider your brand.

At the end of the day, your custom website is an incredible marketing tool. In today's digital age, it's like the sign on your front door, as well as the lobby of your office. An effective website leaves a lasting impression on its visitors, which is accomplished when a lot of small things work together perfectly. When both parties fully comprehend the overall marketing efforts, the custom website will look and function better.

Structuring Your Custom Website

Once you've developed a general idea for the custom website's function and purpose, you can then start to figure out what your content will be, and ultimately how that content will be divided between different pages and sections.

Of course, there are a couple staples that you will almost always find on a custom website, such as a Contact page, and oftentimes, an About Us page. Having said that, we'd like to challenge you to actually visualize what some of your other pages might be, and how they will connect with each other. Building a site map is one of the best ways to get all participants on the same page.

There a number of ways you can go about building a site map. There's free software, such as Gliffy, that can make things easy. However, a lot of times, there's no substitute for a pen and paper – or perhaps a large white board. In this way, you can get the entirety of your staff and your stakeholders bringing their input to this essential step in the process.

We also encourage you to conjure as many different kinds of content as you can. Your written words are an important aspect of your content strategy. However, it's always a good idea to make use of other media in order to engage your readers. A lot of small to medium-size businesses these days are implementing images and audio, syncing with their Facebook & Twitter, allowing for PDF downloads, and sometimes even embedding their own YouTube videos.

You should always be asking yourself: How does this contribute to the ultimate end goal? There's a good chance we've created a custom website that has had similar objectives in mind. During the initial needs assessment, we can go back through the HDM portfolio of custom websites and take a look at some of the different kinds of web content and site function in action. The possibilities are truly limitless, and we want to help any way that we can in sparking your imagination.

Conclusion

Websites are not as simple as they look. You'd be surprised how quickly things can get confusing. When the conversations start to get tricky, it'll always be helpful for both parties to have that initial assessment to refer back to.

Over the years, we've developed and refined our operation, resulting in creative solutions and enhanced functionality. Rest assured that this process will be clear, easy, and above all, fun. We encourage you to get excited, come up with ideas, and write everything down. Let your vision to come life.

Contact Us today.

Hard Refresh Vs. Normal Refresh

1 September 2020

To override your cache and perform a hard refresh, press Ctrl+F5.If you use a Macpress:Command+R.

Have you ever wondered what makes a web browser like Google Chrome so fast? One of the main reasons is because it doesn't always have to load 100% of a given web page's information every time.

Whenever you visit a particular web page, your web browser is designed to automatically store a lot of that page's information on your computer's hard drive in a place called the cache, or: your Temporary Internet Folder. It takes a lot less time for your browser to summon the pieces locally, rather than have to download everything over and over every time you hit refresh.

This technology is pretty cool, as it makes for insanely fast load times on the internet. However, it can to lead to some unexpected, and very frustrating problems if you're not aware of how it works.

When you build a custom website with HDM, we're going to work side-by-side with you, every step of the way, to make sure that your website becomes exactly what you want it to. This means that along the way, we'll be making changes, and then submitting them to you, to be reviewed on your live web browser, seeing it as any other internet user would.

However, if your web browser is summoning old files from your cache to load the web page, then a lot of the changes made may not show up on your screen. And therein lies the frustration. We find this is a fairly common miscommunication that, although can boggle the mind, actually has a pretty simple solution.

Therefore, whenever a change is made to your HDM custom website, it's imperative that you perform a hard refresh in order to view the changes. This means that your web browser is going to completely clear out your cache, and load 100% of the web page's information from the server, as it would if you had never been there before. This will allow you a truly refreshed perspective at your web page.

Whether you use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Internet Explorer, press:

Ctrl+F5, or

Ctrl+Refresh.

If you use a Mac press:Command+R

This will override the cache and force your browser to download everything again. If you're still experiencing problems or inconsistencies after this, feel free to Contact Us anytime.

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