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Benefits of an SSL Certificate

Over the past few years SSL Certificates have become a basic requirement for all websites. SSL Certificates protect your website visitors and customers from identity thieves and hackers. These identity thieves and hackers are looking to steal not only credit card information, but also the most basic information you submit through a website such as your name, email address, phone number, etc.

SSL Certificates protect this data being transmitted through your website through encryption. SSL Certificates verify ownership of a website, so customers can trust your website is legitimate. SSL Certificate encryption has become an essential component in having a reputable online presence. 

What is SSL?

SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL Certificates are used to protect the information website visitors enter and submit through your website. SSL Certificates protect your customers from identity thieves and hackers who are looking to steal sensitive date and use it to their own advantage. 

On the flip-side, SSL Certificates verify ownership of a website so customers can trust your website is legitimate. As website visitors submit their information info a contact form, subscribe to your newsletter, and enter their credit card information as they make a purchase in your online shop, having an SSL Certificate in pace reassures your website visitors that their data is safe by providing a secure website. 

How do SSL Certificates work?

The basic answer to this question is that an SSL Certificate encrypts information as it travels from a web browser to a web server. As the information travels from your web browser to the web server, an action commonly referred to as the SSL ‘handshake’ occurs. This is the point in which encryption keys (a public key and a private key) are exchanged to encrypt and decrypt data as it travels through a network. 

An example we can use is a credit card number. We have all entered our credit card number into many websites over the years. As credit card information is entered into the site, the SSL Certificate protects the website user. For example say your credit card number is ‘5555 5555 5555 5555’. As this number travels through your website to the web server, the SSL Certificate codes your credit card number into a random string of characters (for example: t%uZ6Rp9$avyj4). A public key is used to create the encoded mu,ber and it can only be decoded using the private key stored within the website’s web server. Once the encrypted code reaches the web server, the number is decrypted so the order may be processed. 

Do you need SSL?

In 2014 Google began to place emphasis on SSL Certificates, so much in fact that they rank websites using the SSL Certificate secured HTTPS protocol higher than website that use the non-encrypted HTTP protocol. Additionally, in 2018, Google’s Chrome web browser began to display scary ‘Website Not Secure’ warnings and messages to websites that do not have SSL Certificates installed. Other web browsers like FireFix soon followed Google’s lead. So, basically SSL has now become a requirement of every website, especially if you are accepting payments online. In order for your website to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliant, website owners must have SSL installed and functioning properly.  

At Hazel Digital Media, we offer domain validated SSL Certificates with every website we build. SSL encryption has become an essential component of gaining the trust of your website visitors, as well as the Google’s trust that your website is up-to-date and compliant with current web standards. 


Social Media Icons are an Exit Sign for Your Website

In today's world, boosting your web presence means not only having a custom website, but rolling up your sleeves and digging into a little social media as well. Working the two in tandem is a subtle art.

Okay, think about it.

Social media traffic is great, but only if it's flowing toward you. When visitors leave your site and go to a social network, that doesn't necessarily help you meet your goals. Once they leave, they'll likely be lost to other distractions.

The internet is a big place. If someone lands on your page, it makes sense to provide them with an experience that engages their attention, piques their curiosity, and eventually prompts a call-to-action -- whether that means gathering emails for your newsletter, having people shop on your E-Commerce Website, or simply receiving a contact form.

Where there's traffic, there's hope.

A custom website is a tailor-made presentation. Social media requires active participation and involvement. Therefore, we recommend using social media as a way to reach out to people personally, make hype about new products, but ultimately bring them to your website.

When you run the show, you control the visitor's journey. Be aware that when it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube, you're competing for someone's attention against a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with your business.

Surprisingly, 26% of the top marketing sites put social icons in their headers! Facebook is worth $300 billion. Trust me, you need the visitors more than they do.

Our top recommendations:

  • Link to social networks cautiously.
  • Add social media icons to your website footer, rather than the header.
  • Change the color of the icons so they are not so visually prominent. If you show the color, do so on the rollover.
  • Link only to social networks where you are genuinely active, both sharing content and interacting with followers.

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we believe every custom website should be its own stimulating presentation. Take a look at our portfolioto see the functionality firsthand.

Or, feel free to drop us a line we'd love to hear from you.


Things That No Website Should Have, Ever.

We all know how quickly the web changes. What seems like a good idea today can turn obsolete before you know it.

Here's a few general things you'll want to avoid in this day and age.

Email Links


If you have a direct link to your email address on your website, you are begging for trouble. It won't take the internet robots long to distribute that address to spam farmers around the globe, and before you know it, you'll be sludging through your inbox, waist-deep in spam emails.


We recommend having a Contact Form instead. Not only do these keep your address anonymous, these forms can be extremely versatile with the information they gather. You can even have different forms for different purposes, which can help streamline the process of wading through your emails.


Best of all, contact forms make it easier to give helpful auto-responses. An immediate reply that gives a 'thank-you,' as well as an estimate of when they can expect to actually hear back from you can be an effective gesture.


Vague Content

 

It's one thing to try to draw people in with mystique. However, your first goal should always be brand recognition. Unless you're Apple, you probably can't get away with cryptic headlines or obscure references.


Consider this: if a potential customer happens to make their way to your landing page, you've got about six seconds to grab their attention and keep them on your site before their attention runs out and they surf elsewhere.


Sadly, we see the opposite problem just as often: if your landing page is overstuffed with content, users might get overwhelmed by it, not knowing where to start. Aim for the sweet spot where you're able to identify exactly what you do in as few words as possible.


Stock Photos



Come on, everyone knows that's not your team!


 

Never underestimate the power of images. They can do tremendous work, either in your favor or against. If the photos and illustrations you use are powerful and compelling, it will often go a long way to reaching and retaining users.


However, if you're using images that you've clearly pilfered from the search engines, that's a big turn-off. Your typical user can spot insincerity from a mile away. If they don't trust your images, then they won't trust you. Strange to say, but the internet has an easily-offended sense of integrity when it comes to this.


If you take a little time and money to do it right, you'll notice the difference immediately. Even if all you can do at the moment is a selfie on your smartphone, that's better than an image that's obviously fake. Sincerity and quality are the name of the game.


 

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There are plenty of good practices when it comes to what you should and shouldn't do with your website, so keep your eyes on the Hazel Digital Media blog for tips on how to maximize your web presence.


If you have any specific questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you.


Happy surfing!


Web Design: 2016's Biggest Hits, and What to Look For in 2017

It sure is a whole new world, isn't it? It seems like a short amount of time to have come such a long way from the dial-up days, and pages that looked like this:



There's pretty much only one answer to the question of why trends have progressed the way they have:


because of smart phones.


It was a mere couple of years ago that mobile users surpassed desktop users on the web. Now, billions of people across the globe are looking at their hand-held devices to surf, and the trends in web design clearly reflect that. One of the most noticeable (and beautiful) trends is:


The Long Scroll


Because of smart phones. And also because of the social media revolution, which completely altered how we consume content. Instead of having to trudge from page to page, many websites these days simply create a single page, broken into navigable sections. (Ahem, like Hazel Digital Media, for example.)


Though this practice has been around, 2016 is the year that this trend caught like wildfire. And although it's a reaction to the smart phone generation, there's no denying it makes for a beautiful product on laptops and desktops as well.


This also forces the creators of content to condense everything down into it's most concise, most presentable form, which is good for a generation of attention-deficient web surfers.


Responsive Design


Because of smart phones. Does anyone else remember trying, at a glacial pace, to load pages on a flip-phone? Back in the ancient era of the early 2000's, if you were trying to have a mobile-friendly website, you actually had to have two separate websites. What a concept!


Instead of having a regular site and a mobile site, each with its own specific build and design, technology finally caught up. Responsive Design allows you to have a single website that modifies itself based on the specific device you're using to look at it. That means your website will be aesthetically stretched-to-fit, regardless of laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Sorcery, indeed!


This is another practice that, although becoming incredibly popular in 2016, HDM has been perfecting for years. We've had a lot to say about Responsive Design in the past, but check out our portfolio if you want examples in action: every site we make these days has the sleek versatility of Responsive Design.


 

What to look for in 2017


Do-It-Yourself Websites


More sites like squarespace will continue to pop up. Sites like these have their advantages, but they also have their limitations.


Though users are technically able to customize certain cosmetic aspects of their out-of-the-box web site, it's not truly a custom web site. These sites are great for students, and can get the job done for those with a meager budget, but be aware of their generic nature.

 

The more people that begin to use services like these, the more it will force custom web designers to step outside the box, and create innovative new aesthetics and functions.


Animation


Look for more animation in 2017. You've probably already begun to notice little animations here and there all over the web. Thanks to innovations in design, it doesn't take nearly as long as it used to for animations to load (though you can still overdue it).


You may see drawings moving in the background, or you may see icons rushing up to meet you as you scroll down the Home page (ahem, like Hazel Digital Media, for example).

For our two cents, animation is at its finest when it's subtle, rather than in your face.


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Yes, it surely won't be long until your smartphone can create holograms and transport matter. Until then, keep your eyes on the Hazel Digital Media blog for all the latest and best trends in web design.


To see some of these ideas in action, feel free to take a look at our Portfolio.


If you have any questions for us, we'd love to hear from you. Feel free to Contact Us today!


The Difference Between your Home Page and your About Page

Along with pretty buttons and killer graphics, a Home Page and an About Page are two things you'll find on nearly every website. Yet, when drafting content, many folks tend to blur the line between what each should accomplish.


So... What Is The Difference?


Your Home Page is often the first impression people will have of your business. You have a short amount of time to convince the ever-fickle web-surfer that your website is worth sticking around for.


Solid Home Page content should quickly illustrate the core benefits of your business, whether it's a catchy tagline summarizing the rest of the site, or simply an overview of your key services.


You can also consider adding things like:

 

-Testimonials

-Quick Calls-To-Action

-Portfolio Snapshots


It's analogous to someone walking through the front doors of your shop for the first time: they're going to take an overview to see if they walked into the right store. If the first thing they see is your picture and your bio, they'll likely have no clue if they're in the right place or not.


If they like what they see, a visitor to your site will stick around for a look – and if they wander over to your About Page, it usually means they're ready to get to know the humans behind the scenes. If the Home Page is the what and how, then the About Page should be the why.


This is a good place for pictures of you, the history of the business, a list of charities you support – anything you want about yourself that reinforces your brand and builds trustworthiness. Potential customers are much more likely to fancy you if they know you're genuinely passionate about what you do.


A little bit of overlap in content between these two pages is natural. But as a rule of thumb, Home Page content is all about the broad, concise, and catchy overview of your business's special benefits, whereas the About Page gives you some room to get personal.


At the end of the day, always keep in mind that although your website is about you, it's really more about what you can do for your customers.

 

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Questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to Contact Us today!


Using Images To Increase Conversion Rates

Believe it or not, images on your website are one of the most important factors toward closing on a call-to-action. When used correctly, images allow you to make a more human connection with your target audience. Images allow one to experience your website, rather than just browse it. At the end of the day, the research speaks for itself:

Images = Conversions.


This is true for the same reason that television commercials aren't just blocks of text. Whatever your product, you want to convey the emotion that using your product will provide – whether it's happiness, pride, or relaxation, images can make your audience feel in a way that words simply cannot.

We recommend images throughout every page of your site, but particularly on the call-to-action page. Images of people often have a particularly strong effect toward creating empathy and human connection with your business and product.

When in doubt, bigger is better. The simple act of increasing your image sizes could improve your conversion rates by almost 10%! A larger image with a description in the roll-over will almost always outperform the same image, smaller and crowded by the description text. Whether it's a picture of your product or someone using your product, you'll do well when you let it dominate their attention.

Finally, be very aware of stock images like this one.

Everyone knows that's not your team. Unless there's a professional photographer on the payroll, almost everybody uses stock images. This means that if you choose poorly, you'll end up with the same images as your competitors, or worse, your beautiful website will start to look tacky, cheap, and inhuman. Choose your photos intelligently – get the good ones, even if they cost a little extra.

For websites with a call-to-action, images are highly recommended. Let yourself have a little fun with it, and your potential customers with probably have fun, too.

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we can help you find the perfect pictures for your custom design website.Contact Us to get started growing your conversion rates today!


Improving Your Online Presence

My old man used to rave about the efficacy of putting a full-color ad in the yellow pages. Before computers, it was that easy to get found, and then have folks driving down to your brick-and-mortar. Fast forward to 2016 where even the White House has its own YouTube channel.


The internet has definitely changed things, but the rules of the game are still pretty much the same. Staying relevant in the ever-changing tech world can be a little mystifying, but it's not as challenging as you might think. It's all about being active, and letting people know where to find you.


Custom Design Website


Welcome to the age of the millennial. Generation Y would do just about all of their shopping online if they could. In fact, a whopping 91% make a purchase on their smart phone every month, with 74% having compared competitor prices beforehand.


Whether you're trying to sell your products online with an e-commerce site, or simply want a place to pitch your services, a sleek, functional website will always be the foundation of your online presence. It is much more than an evolved yellow pages advertisement – it's the place where the call-to-action occurs. The fire of your marketing efforts will amount to little if you don't have a modern website for people to come back to.


We're not saying you have to try to be as hip as the kids, but nothing is less sexy and less effective than a website that still looks like this:




If you put some love into your website, people will know that you've put love into your company and your products as well. If you haven't updated your technology in a while, you should know that web designers are capable of some pretty amazing things these days. One such thing is called Responsive Design, which allows your site to morph itself depending on the device it's being viewed on. A custom website that looks beautiful on a smart phone is a website that youngsters will give their money to.


 

 

Always remember that nothing you do to promote yourself will be worth much without a great website to come back to at the end.


Social Media


This refers to any profile you or your company may have online. Facebook and Instagram are first to come to mind, but there are a lot of portals out there. In fact, there is likely an online community dedicated to your industry or niche, filled with people who are waiting to get to know you and your innovative business ideas.


Social media objectives can be intimidating, because they require more tenacity than simply posting up your website and calling it a day. It's an ever-shifting landscape of personalities and discussions, with all focus on the right now or the soon to be.


There are a lot of ways to approach social media, largely dependent on your audience and their reactions. Regardless, there's one imperative rule to live by: be genuine, and be cautious of over-selling yourself. It may sound counter-intuitive, but your website is the place to pitch, and your social media page is not. In the online world, most people simply want to have a conversation, and it's hard to have a conversation when someone has a hidden agenda.


Of course, if your business has a profile, social media can be a great way to spread the word about hot deals and new products. But you'll get the best reactions if you give people a reason to care: that is, be perpetually active and involved in the community.


SEO


Search Engine Optimization is the ribbon that ties the package together. For maximum results, you can hire a professional to launch an ongoing campaign that shifts alongside the search engines themselves. However, this isn't always necessary, and by simply implementing a few good practices, you can make it easier for people to find your sleek, custom website.


We have a lot to say about SEO, but the main thing you need to understand is that it's all about keywords. Try to come up with a list keywords that are relevant to you and your industry. The best keywords have high search volume and low competition. Google has tools that allow you to weigh the potency of each one.


Once you discover a few great keywords, use them everywhere. Put them in every paragraph of your website, in the page headers and navigation bars – put them in every Facebook post, and maybe even turn them into hashtags (i.e. #CustomWebDesign).


Boosting your online presence doesn't have to be as daunting as it seems. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have a website that's attractive, navigable, and friendly toward all the different devices out there. Here at Hazel Digital Media, we specialize in giving your business a home on the web, and leading people to it. Contact Us today to learn more.



Making Your Custom Website More User-Friendly

Over the years here at Hazel Digital Media, we've refined our design process, infusing cutting edge technology, allowing every custom design website to have its own unique aesthetic, but each with the same easy accessibility and readability. If you are considering building or improving your website, here are some fundamental ideas to keep in mind, which you'll find at work throughout our portfolio.

Navigability

 

This principle is first and foremost for a user-friendly website design. You want to have big buttons at the top of each page that make it easy for anyone to know where they are, and where they need to go.


Each page should have a simple, direct title, so that potential customers can find the information they need immediately. If you lose their attention span, most surfers are just going to look somewhere else.


Furthermore, you should always have your logo in the top left corner, which takes you back to the home page upon clicking. Nothing is more frustrating than getting lost or stuck in someone's website, and having to backtrack.


User-Friendly Call-To-Action


In a lot of ways, your website is like a living brochure for your business, but it can also be your store front as well. The website that is most user-friendly is one that engages viewers, and takes them on a journey through the site.


You want to structure your content so that people will eventually browse their way to that magical call-to-action at the end.


Contact Information


You'll have to decide exactly what your call-to-action looks like, whether it's a download, a link to a document, or most likely: the contact page. Whatever your goal, it's a good idea to have some form of contact on every page. We typically recommend including it in the footer at the bottom of each page, providing phone numbers, emails, everything. This ensures that you are always easily-reachable.

 

Accessible From Every Device

It goes without saying that a user-friendly website needs to be mobile-friendly as well. In another post, we discussed the difference between a mobile site and a responsive site.

When you create a custom designed website with responsive technology, you are guaranteeing easy navigability, no matter the device. In terms of user-friendliness, responsive website technology is practically essential.

 

 

Images


The joy of the internet is that it's an interactive, multimedia experience. Images can go a long way toward maintaining attention and involvement, as well as providing instant information. A good website always has just the right amount of images and icons, which should be both beautiful and professional.


You'll also want to think about this in terms of your overall aesthetic. A website is much more fun to peruse when it's pretty.


Whether you're considering a brand new custom design website, or maybe just upgrades to your old one, Hazel Digital Media is here to help. All of our websites combine aesthetic with functionality.

 

Take a look at our portfolio to see some of the user-friendly websites we've already created.


Or, feel free to Contact Us today with questions or comments. We'd love to hear from you.


Successful E-Commerce

Giving your custom designed website an e-commerce function can be a great way to extend your brand and increase revenue. There's no reason your online image can't double as a storefront as well.

 

However, as with anything else in business, there is no magic formula for a successful e-commerce site. There are only techniques and tips that have been cultivated through years of trial and error. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're working toward success with e-commerce.


Customer Service


Shopping has always been a multifaceted experience that involves more than just the merchandise. Although many are excited to no longer have to leave the house, most shoppers still want to participate in finding the perfect product, learning everything there is to know about it, and comparing it to other items. Going to a brick-and-mortar means having an expert on hand to field questions, give tours, and ultimately help guide this process.


Keep this in mind as you try to replicate the experience digitally. No matter your product or service, it always helps to have expert information immediately on hand for potential customers to consider. Whether it's an FAQ or an instant message to a readily-available employee, the entire novelty of shopping and customer service needs to be adequately condensed.


The bottom line is to simply be available to your potential customers.


Blogs & Newsletters


An e-commerce site should almost always be paired with a good blog. It opens up an infinite amount of ways to discuss your products and services. You can spotlight new items, offer specials and discounts, provide testimonials from other satisfied customers, etc. They are your products, and if you have a lot of great things to say about them, you should.


Furthermore, when you're discussing specific products or time-sensitive deals, you can then merge these with an email newsletter effort. Last year, approximately 66% of online customers who made a purchase, did so as a result of opening a specific email.


Finally, a consistent blog is just plain great for SEO. If you're churning out high-quality, relevant content, it will work in the end to drive more traffic your way.


Responsive E-Commerce


Responsive website design allows you to have a website that looks good on any device. The pages will transform and resize themselves to look appropriate, whether you're on a laptop or a phone. Although we have a lot to say about responsive design, today we will simply (though emphatically) suggest that your e-commerce site be responsive.


Though it is a recent phenomenon, most online shopping these days is done through a hand-held device. And when it comes to parting with their hard-earned cash, most online shoppers want clarity and navigability as they prepare to do so. Having to zoom in, scroll around, and repeat, is simply too fatiguing to inspire a call-to-action.


Having a sleek, responsive website design makes your products pristine, and it makes the shopping process painless.


 

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Here at Hazel Digital Media, we give you all of these tools and more to help you get the ball rolling on your custom e-commerce website. In addition to these tools, we also make it incredibly easy to crunch the numbers and measure the analytics on the backend.


If e-commerce is something that you're interested in, Hazel Digital Media can help. Feel free to Contact Us today.


5 Things To Know About Email Marketing

The electronic newsletter is the tried and true method for staying in touch with old clients and stirring up business with new ones. Today there is an estimated 2.5 billion active email users, with 91% checking their inbox every day! Ooh la la...


Here are a few basic principles and good practices to keep in mind.


A Subject That's From The Heart


Conjuring the perfect combination of words for your subject can be tricky. This practice is equal parts art and science, and there has been an enormous amount of trial and error on the topic.


We took a look at some basic do's and don'ts in a previous post, and fleshed out certain practices in another post. When it comes to the subject line, there's really no limit to the amount of homework you could do – but in the end, the only research that counts is the trial and error of your own efforts.


For our two cents, all of these statistics and figures boil down to a single philosophy: Speak Genuinely.


Whether they're new leads or lifelong clients, people respond to sincerity – and even on the internet, folks can almost always tell when you're being fake with them. You don't have to be a poet or a marketing genius to get your emails opened by readers. Our best advice is to stick to 50 characters max, and whatever you do, keep it candid.


Call-To-Action


The subject line may be an important aspect, but it is by no means the most important. Sadly, in all the hubbub about open rates, many folks often overlook what is at the real core of their efforts.


Before beginning any newsletter, you should have a clear goal in mind for what you hope to accomplish with it. Your writing should be clear and concise, and always guiding the reader toward some type of action. This is important, because it's ultimately how you'll measure your email's effectiveness.


Speaking of measuring...


Track Your Results


If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.


The only way to become a successful email campaigner is to see what works and what doesn't, and take good notes. Fortunately, every custom website we create comes with a sophisticated analytics platform that will help you keep track of open rates and click-through rates, among other things.


Frequency


How much is too much, and when is that not enough?


The amount of emails you send per day, week, or month should also be a significant part of your trial and error research. Depending on your niche, there is a different answer for everybody. One email per week is the rule of thumb, but it might be worthwhile to experiment a little.


Keep an eye on your analytics, and try to find that sweet spot where your readers aren't getting annoyed, but where they haven't forgotten about you either. Once you settle into something that works for you, we then recommend practicing consistency.


Make It Mobile


Last year, 48% of all emails were opened on a mobile device, while only 11% of marketing emails were responsive.


Email newsletters have remained a relevant and effective marketing tool in the face of social media and SEO, and going mobile is the next evolutionary leap that must take place.


When it comes to custom designed web sites, we've talked about the differences between responsive vs.mobile. When it comes to email marketing, you ideally want your emails to be responsive (meaning they'll change shape and look great, regardless of the viewing device).


However, even if you don't go that far, always keep in mind the 50/50 chance that your email will indeed be read on a smaller screen. Consider this when determining your font size and page breaks.



Conclusion


All in all, email marketing is a vast field of research. Over the years, we've written quite a lot about it, and we encourage you to go back through our comprehensive series.


 

Part 1: The Subject Line


 

Part 2: Subject Line Research


 

Part 3: 10 Good Practices


 

Part 4: Popular Platforms


 

Part 5: Open Rates & Click-Through Rates


 

Part 6: Automated Newsletters


However, nothing works quite like rolling up your sleeves and getting your digital hands dirty. In the end, you simply have to know your audience, and get a feel for what they like. Whether you're thinking about beginning, or have been at it for a while, Hazel Digital Media is here to help.


Feel free to Contact Us today!


3 Things To Know About SEO Before Designing Your Website

Your website may be a perfect 10, but if nobody can find it, there's a chance it's not reaching its full potential. These days, one of the most important rules of having a website is: make sure it gets along nicely with the search engines.


You'll thank yourself in the long run if you take a little time now to familiarize yourself with some basic concepts. Keeping them in mind as you begin to draft the content will ensure that you and your website live in perfect harmony with Google and co.


Keywords


It goes without saying, these are the basic building blocks of SEO. A perfect keyword is one that is specific to you and your industry – something that has high search volume and low competition. Keep this in mind as the pages of your site begin to materialize.


Titles and headers are important places for strong keywords, so name your pages after them, and then design the content around that. With the hierarchy of your website structured around these keywords, Google will be much more able to slingshot you toward potential customers.


There are plenty of great keyword research tools available out there. You don't have to launch a full-blown SEO campaign just yet, but laying down a solid foundation at the beginning will make it infinitely easier to do so later on. Furthermore, if your website is born with a nice, tidy structure, the spiders of search engines will have no trouble navigating and indexing, and that's always a good thing.


Links Back


Another fundamental SEO tactic is fostering links from other websites to yours. If another website has a link on their page that travels to you, the search engines see that as a vote. The more votes you have, the more popular your site is. Just like prom, right?


The best way to get people linking back to your site is to have useful, insightful content. Also consider any products your business uses, or other companies you work alongside: if you have room to link to them on your website, they will likely return the favor.


In the end, the best way to get websites and spiders talking about your website is through a blog. The search engines notice when you're consistently producing fresh content (especially if it's keyword-heavy). Plus it allows more opportunities for reaching out to people, and potentially getting some of those precious links back.


Social Media


There's a lot to be said about social media as an appendage of your marketing efforts. All we'll say today is that you musn't neglect this aspect of your online presence. The idea of keeping up a blog and a social media account sounds exhausting, but a little bit goes a long way.


Whether Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, just make sure that your keywords and content are congruent. This emerging aspect of SEO is likely to become increasingly important over the years. Try to sync your blog and your social media, and get a conversation going. For the most part, any hype you can foster out there in cyberspace will be good for you.



Always remember that your website and your SEO endeavors are all part of a cohesive effort to expand your brand. Your online presence should be a perfect extension of your marketing strategy. Together, we can cultivate the ultimate web persona for you and your company.


Let's design an SEO conscious website today.


How To Make Your Website Readable

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we strive to create beautiful, functional websites for our clients. This means not only making pages that please the eye, but also making sure you can easily control the content from within.

A little difference goes a long way with increasing readability – clumsy content can be distracting and jarring, which is obviously not good for your average internet surfer. As you begin to create the taglines, titles, and body paragraphs for your website, here are a few tips to keep in mind.


The Six-Second Rule


The average attention span for adults these days clocks in at around six seconds. Sadly, with the amount of information on the internet, that number is probably dwindling. This is to say: less is more.


Particularly on your landing page, you should challenge yourself to say what you need to using as few words as possible. A good tagline or title should be short and sweet, as should your paragraphs. Try to get your main point across in six seconds or less.


Furthermore, when you take this approach, it gives the web designer more freedom to play with the dimensions. The size of your text is a big factor in readability, and if you're able to avoid clunky sentences, all the better.


No Jargon


It can be tempting to flex your industry experience, but the truth is that uncommon words just turn people off. Many readers will actually end up scanning large blocks of text to get straight to the point – but if they're having to sift through words they don't understand, you can bet they won't stick around for long.


Instead, try to use simple, clear language to explain exactly what it is you do. If you're able to make people understand your industry without using jargon, you'll automatically set yourself apart as an expert.


Relatable Web Persona


When we set out to craft an aesthetically-pleasing website, it's about tapping into the core of your marketing strategies. We want to present the ideal image for your business's online presence. Along with this comes the perfect combination of fonts, colors, and pages.


As you begin to craft the content for your website, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with it. For most companies, it's about getting new clicks, maintaining user attention, and eventually creating a compelling call-to-action.


A website is most readable and comfortable for new users when it jives perfectly with your current brand. With well-developed ideas, we can work together to create a cohesive design that reaches new people and holds their focus.


To see some of the work we've done in the past, feel free to check out our Portfolio.


Or for more about custom web design, click here to Contact Us today!


5 Reasons Why You Need A Blog

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!


Email Configuration Guide for iOS

For most custom websites HDM creates, you get your very own email that uses the url of your custom site (name@yourdomainname.com). This quick tutorial will promptly show you how to set up email on your iPhone using iOS.

If you are using a different operating system, the instructions may vary.

For iPhone iOS Configuration

1. Tap Settings.


2. Scroll down, and tap Mail.


3. Tap Add Account.


4. If you have a normal email provider, select it here. If you have an email set up through your HDM custom website, tap Other at the bottom of the page.


5. If you tapped Other to use the email that is set up through your HDM custom website, tap the first option at the top of the following page: Add Mail Account.


6. On the page that follows that, you'll be prompted to put in all of the information relevant to your email account.

Name: The name displayed when you send an email.
Email: Your full email address.
Password: Your email account password.
Description: The account description of your choice, i.e. business email, customer service, etc.


7. Next, you will have to choose between POP and IMAP. The difference between the two is that POP requires you to download your messages onto your device before viewing, while IMAP simply reads the message off the mail server. When setting up an email account through your HDM custom website, you will be using IMAP, so tap this next.


Scroll down, and enter all of the relevant information into the Incoming Mail Server fields.

Host Name: mail.worldsecureemail.com
User Name: username@yourdomain.com
Password: Your email account password


Next, fill out the fields for Outgoing Mail Server. The information should be identical to the information entered into the Incoming Mail Server fields. Tap Next when you are finished.


8. Your device will verify your email account settings. This may take several minutes.


9. If you receive an error indicating that you Cannot connect using SSL, then tap Yes to continue without SSL.


10. Your final step is to tap Save, and just like that, the email account you set up through your HDM custom website is now synced to your iPhone, meaning that any messages you receive are sent straight to the palm of your hand. It's the easiest way to stay up to date with the goings-on of your business.



Configuration of Your Email Client

This guide explains how to configure your Microsoft Outlook 2010 to access your email account.

This tutorial was created using Microsoft Outlook 2010. If you are using a different software version, these instructions may differ.

The domain example.com is used throughout this guide as a substitute for your domain name. If your domain is johnsmith.com, use johnsmith.com in place of example.com.


These are the appropriate settings for your email client:

Inbound (receive emails)

Inbound Server:mail.worldsecureemail.com
Inbound Server Type: IMAPS (993) / POP (995)
User Name: username@mydomain.com
Connection Security: SSL/TLS
Authentication Method: Normal Password

Outbound (send emails)

Outbound Server: mail.worldsecureemail.com
Outbound Server Type: SMTPS (465)
User Name: username@mydomain.com
Connection Security: SSL/TLS
Authentication Method: Normal Password


Configuration of Your Email Client

The steps below can be used to set up email on your Microsoft Outlook 2010.

 

1. If this is the first time you've opened Outlook 2010, the Welcome to Outlook 2010 Startup window will appear automatically. Click Next twice and continue to step 2.

Otherwise click the File tab, make sure Info is selected from the left menu and click Add Account.

2. Select Manually configure server settings or additional server types and click Next.

3. Select Internet E-mail and click Next.

4. Fill in your account details (see below the screenshot if you need help with this).

 

  • Your Name: your name as you wish it to appear on your outgoing email messages
  • E-mail Address: your email address
  • Account Type: select either POP or IMAP from the dropdown list
  • Incoming mail server: mail.worldsecureemail.com
  • Outgoing mail server (SMTP): mail.worldsecureemail.com
  • User name: username@yourdomain.com  
  • Password: Your email account password

Before clicking Next please click More Settings and make sure that the settings are the ones as shown in the next steps. 

5. In the General tab, enter your name and a reply email address. Usually, this is the same as your email address.

6. Click the Outgoing Server tab. If you are using this service's server for sending email, select the option: My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication.

If you are using your Internet Service Provider's SMTP server, it is likely you will not need to enable this option, but check with them to verify the settings to use.

7. Click the Advanced tab. Verify that the port numbers are set to SMTPS (465). Make sure the other options are not selected.

Click OK and then click Finish.

Click Next when you've finished entering these details.

8. Outlook will now test the settings you've entered. Click Close when it's finished.

9. Click the Send/Receive button (it's at the top left side of the Outlook 2010 window as shown in the image below) and your email will be downloaded to your Inbox. 

 


Email Configuration Guide for iOS 6 on iPhone

In this tutorial, you will learn how to how to configure your iPhone to access your email account.

This tutorial was created using a iPhone 4G running iOS 4.0. If you are using different hardware or a different OS version, these instructions may differ.

The domain example.com is used throughout this guide as a substitute for your domain name. If your domain is johnsmith.com, use johnsmith.com in place of example.com. 

Inbound (receive emails)

Inbound Server:mail.worldsecureemail.com
Inbound Server Type: IMAPS (993) / POP (995)
User Name: username@mydomain.com
Connection Security: SSL/TLS
Authentication Method: Normal Password

Outbound (send emails)

Outbound Server: mail.worldsecureemail.com
Outbound Server Type: SMTPS (465)
User Name: username@mydomain.com
Connection Security: SSL/TLS
Authentication Method: Normal Password


Configuration of your device

1. Tap Settings on your home screen:

2.Scroll down and tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

3.Tap the Add Account option.

4.Tap Other.

5.Tap Add Mail Account.

6.Enter the following settings and tap Next after you finish: 

  • Name: ishe name displayed when you send email 
  • Address: is your full email address 
  • Password: is your email account password 
  • Description: is account description of your choice 

7.Tap IMAP or POP (in this example will set up the device using IMAP):

8. Under the Incoming Mail Server section, enter the following settings:

  • Host name: mail.worldsecureemail.com 
  • User name: username@yourdomain.com 
  • Password: Your email account password 
  • Scroll down to the Outgoing Mail Server section 

9. Under the Outgoing Mail Server section, enter the following settings and tap Next after you finish:

  • Host name: mail.worldsecureemail.com
  • User name: username@yourdomain.com
  • Password: Your email account password 

10. Your device will verify your email account settings. This may take several minutes.

11.If you receive an error indicating that you Cannot Connect Using SSL then tap Yes to continue without SSL.

12.Completing Account Configuration - tap Save

13. The email account configuration has been completed!



Email Configuration Guide for Android

This guide explains how to configure your Android device running Lollipop OS to access your email account via the Gmail app version 5.5.101116392.

This tutorial was created using a HTC One M8 mobile phone running the Android Lollipop OS 5.0.1.

The domain sk-eu.tk is used throughout this guide as a substitute for your domain name. If your domain is johnsmith.com, use johnsmith.com in place of sk-eu.tk.


1.   Configuration of your device

Follow the steps below to set up email on your mobile device:
1.   Tap the Launcher icon and open Gmail:


2.   Configuring incoming email settings.

If you have not previously set up email on your device before, you will be taken to the screen in step 2.3. Therefore you can skip steps 2.1. and 2.2. Otherwise, if you have already added an email account, please follow the steps beginning at 2.1.

2.1.   If you already have one or more email accounts configured, your existing Inbox appears.

Press the highlighted icon in the top-left part of the screen, then tap Settings.


2.2.   A list of your existing email accounts will appear. Tap the Add account button.

2.3.   Select Personal (IMAP/POP), then tap Next

2.4.   Enter your email address, then tap Next

2.5.   For this example we will be using IMAP, select then tap Next

2.6.   Enter your email password, then tap Next

2.7.   Mirror the settings below, then tap Next


User Name: Enter your full email address
Password: The Password field is automatically filled in with the password that you created when you set up your email account
IMAP server: This is the name of the server which holds you email. Enter mail.worldsecureemail.com
Port: 993 for IMAP / 995 for POP
Security Type: Select SSL/TLS (Accept all certificates) - this setting will change the port field.

2.8.   Your device verifies the incoming server settings.


3.   Configuring the outgoing email settings


3.1.   The Outgoing server settings screen automatically fills in the fields. You must manually edit some of these settings.


SMTP server: This is the name of the server which holds your email. Enter mail.worldsecureemail.com
Port: 465
Security Type: Select SSL/TLS (Accept all certificates) - this setting will change the port field.
Require login: Should be checked.
User Name: Enter your full email address
Password: The Password field is automatically filled in with the password that you created when you set up your email account.

3.2.   Your device verifies the outgoing server settings.

3.3.   Select the options you prefer. Tap Next.

3.4.   Type a name you wish to use to identify your email account on your device, and enter your name as you want it to appear in the From field of your outgoing email messages. Tap Next.

Your Android device loads your incoming messages. You can now send and receive your email on your device using a secure connection!



How To Create an Email Account

When you build a site with HDM, you get access to one of the most sophisticated content management systems currently available. Getting an ideal email arrangement couldn't be easier, as we're about to show you.

First, simply log in to the backend of your website by going to www.yourdomain.com/admin, and entering your log in information.

Once inside, refer to the menu on the left of the screen. Click Site Settings > E-Mail Accounts.

From here, you'll see an overview of the current email arrangement associated with your website. To create a new email user, click

New Email Account.

On this screen, enter the new email address exactly how you want it, followed by the first and last name associated with it, as well as your default email. Once you click 'Save,' you'll get an activation email sent to your default address that will allow you to finish the process, and create a password for your new address.


How To Add An Email Alias

From this same page, you can also add an email alias. Email aliases make it possible to view and manage the emails of multiple addresses, all from the same inbox. If your current inbox is set up for you@yourdomain.com, it's possible for you to simultaneously view emails coming in for info@yourdomain.com, sales@yourdomain.com, contact@yourdomain.com, etc.

Simply click Add Email Alias, and enter the address(es) you would like to receive emails for.

We hope you found this a helpful 'How-To.' When you create a custom website with Hazel Digital Media, we equip you with all of the tools you'll need to take your online business above and beyond.

For more information on arranging the perfect email situation, or to find out more about the many tools in your toolkit, feel free to Contact Us anytime.


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

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.


Connect to Your Site Using Dreamweaver

Note: the steps detailed below apply to Dreamweaver version above 2014.1.1. To find out your Dreamweaver version go to Help -> About Dreamweaver

Setting Up Your Connection

Warning: When entering your username do not forget to add /dw at the end, this is detailed in the Username section (Section 4).

1. go to Site -> New Site... to create a new connection. Alternatively you can also import a Dreamweaver site settings file rather than configuring the connection settings again. Take a look at the Import and export Dreamweaver site settings article for more info on this procedure.

2. Choose a name and a location on the disk where the site's assets will be stored



3. Select the Servers tab and configure the connection to the site and click the plus sign:



4. Configure the connection settings
  • Server Name: the name of the connection (this can be anything)
  • Connect using: Choose SFTP. After selecting SFTP from the drop down the Port number will change automatically to 22
  • SFTP Address: this needs to be your site's URL. You can either use your own domain name or one of the system URLs - *.businesscatalyst.com or *.worldsecuresystems.com
  • Authentication: Username and Password - should be already checked - do not change this setting
  • Username: this bit is very important. The username should contain both the site URL you are connecting to and the email address you are logging into the HDM Admin console with. For example: sitename.com/myusername@mydomain.com/dw (it should not start with http://) 
    The /dw bit at the end is extremely important. So assuming your site name is sitename.com and the username you use to login into HDM Admin Console is john-doe@mydomain.com the username will become sitename.com/john-doe@mydomain.com/dw  
  • Password: this is the same password you use to login into the HDM Admin Console


5. Click Test to confirm the data is correct. You should get this confirmation message:



6. Click Save - the configuration is now complete and you can connect to your site.

Note: it has been signaled that at times DW will fail to connect to your site even when you're absolutely sure that the username / password combination used is correct. This can occur because the authentication through CC's application fails without warning. The resolution for this case is to close DW, then sign out from your CC application, then restart the CC application and log back in. Signing in through DW should now work when you retry.


Fresh Ideas in Web Design for 2015

Many business owners create their website with hopes that it will last for decades. In reality, web technologies are constantly changing and evolving. As web technologies evolve, the average ‘shelf-life’ of a website tends to be around 3-5 years. Below are some of the recent changes in website design that business owners should be aware of for 2015.


Responsive Web Design

In 2014 our culture has experienced a huge change in how we access and use the web. For the first time ever Google searches from mobile devices surpassed the number of Google searches from desktop computers. This shift in how we are using the web has caused Google to change their algorithm of how websites are ranked. As of April 21, 2015, Google has rolled out a change in their algorithm that ranks mobile-friendly website above non-mobile-friendly websites.

The need for responsive design has become a necessity for every website and business owner.


Flat User Interface (UI)

Trends in website style and design has evolved to a simple, flat design approach. The use of thick drop shadows, shiny buttons, color gradients and other heavy effects are no longer being utilized. The fresh approach in website design today is smooth, clean, clear and crisp. The flat design approach allows for the website visitor to focus on website content rather than flash graphics that distract the visitor from the website’s purpose and objectives.


Full Width Images

With increased internet speeds and computer processing power, we are now able to utilize large-scale photography in our website designs. Many website visitors like to see large photos with a little bit of text so this approach has proven to be very effective with many of our clients.


Achieving Objectives through Design

Your website should be viewed as your number one marketing effort. A business website is not just a place for viewers to gain information about your organization. Your website is your 24-hour storefront that can collect leads and generate followers. Your website is a tool to make more money. Working with a web design company that has this understanding is vital to the success of your online business.


Automated Email Marketing

We have learned that email marketing takes time, effort and can be tedious. Hazel Digital Media has developed a system that offers Automated Email Marketing that requires little to no effort on our client’s behalf. More companies will be utilizing similar strategies in the future as email marketing has proven to be an effective internet marketing strategy.

Contact Hazel Digital Media today to learn how we can bring more profit and value to your online business.


How to Dispute a Negative Google Review

Here is some direction on what to do about negative Google Reviews:

1) “Flag as inappropriate”

Below every review on Google+ Local pages, you can click the flag icon:

2) Respond to the review

In addition to the flag icon, if you’re the owner of the page, you should also have the option to “Respond” to each review:

Not a ‘removal’ technique per se, but do this just in case the review isn't removed straight away but seen by others in the meantime.

3) Report the Google+ user profile

You could do this, but in this case, I do not think this is the right direction to “Report / block” the user as well. This can be done by navigating to the person’s G+ profile and clicking on the “Report / block [name]” link found below their avatar:


4) Report legal action

You’ll see this is Step 1.

When you go the “flag as inappropriate” route, there’s a box that says:


If you have located one or more reviews that you believe warrant removal from Google’s services based on applicable laws, please follow the instructions detailed on this page to submit a legal request.

That link lets you “Report other legal removal issue” depending on your country and its laws. You have to give a bit of info (the content and its URL, plus why you think it breaks the law), leave a “digital signature” and tick a box that means you “swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this notification is accurate and that [you are] authorised to report this alleged violation.” Pretty serious stuff.


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

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.



Email Marketing, Pt. 6: The Power of the Automated Newsletter

Newsletters are great for generating interest in your company, driving traffic to your site, and keeping your loyals updated on the goings-on of your operation. If you can learn to effectively automate your newsletters, you can do all of this while saving yourself a heaping amount of time. And as business owners, what could be better than more time?


Now, of course – we have some guidelines and good practices we'd like to throw your way if you're thinking of tackling this fine pursuit.


The Power of Sincerity


A newsletter is a marketing tool, but it is not an advertisement.


While crafting an automated newsletter, it's easy to accidentally come off as insincere, since you're writing something in advance for an unknown group of people. Rule number one for automated newsletters is: you must be genuine. Yes, you're ultimately trying to incite a call-to-action, but that doesn't mean your message must sound like an advertisement. Talk to these real people as if you were having a real conversation with them.


If you simply tell people to check out your website, they probably won't. However, you can generate interest from your newsletter if it is informative, and built around the factual happenings of your business. Try to write with an honest and impartial voice, as opposed to the supercharged, self-aggrandizing tone found in advertisements.


In furtherance of this thought, it's always a good idea to make sure your automated emails are being sent from a real address (as opposed to a noreply). You can then invite your recipients to respond to the email with their thoughts and feedback. Here you have a chance to start a dialogue with your client base, and isolate who your dedicated subscribers are.


The Power of Consistency


At the end of the day, a newsletter is still a marketing tool.


When you decide on a template for your email, it should be congruent with your current marketing persona. The look and feel should run parallel with the aesthetics of your website. And, once you are able to decide on a template for your newsletters, keep using that template.


The idea is to ultimately create something that your followers will look forward to – something they can rely on. If you send them out regularly, your subscribers will gradually become more and more familiar with your products and services, and they'll start to get a feel for how your business operates.


Consumers crave consistency. Familiarity is achieved through consistency. Learn to harness this power.


The Power of Timing


Good timing is what's going to give heart and soul to the otherwise robotic function of an automated email. Bad timing is going to make your message seem impersonal, and will ultimately alienate your readers.


We recommend having transactional emails that align with certain actions a subscriber may take. Whether it's the Welcome email they receive when they first sign up, a Thank You email when they buy one of your products, or a We Noticed email when they switch preferences. Behavior-based emails, even if automated, help to add that personal touch.


You can also synchronize your newsletter with your blog – this is another good tactic for achieving good timing. Hopefully your blog also utilizes the powers of sincerity and consistency, and hopefully you're writing on current happenings, relevant to the needs of your client base. In this way, you don't have to waste any extra time formatting emails or conjuring new content. Your readers will be receiving an automated email, but it will still be something they can care about.


And One More Thing...


Proofread.


Nothing does swift damage to credibility quite like bad grammar and poor spelling. This is certainly an afterthought compared to the great labor of crafting an automated newsletter from scratch. But, the devil is in the details, as they say. So don't undo the power of your hard work over a few typos.


How to Set Up an Automated Newsletter With Your HDM Custom Website


After logging into the backend of your website, you'll arrive at the Dashboard. Refer to the long, narrow toolbar on the left. Click on Email Marketing, and then click on Email Campaigns.



If you have more than one email campaign, select the one that you would like to automate. You'll immediately arrive on the Details tab of your campaign. Select Recurring from the Campaign Type menu.



Next, you'll be able to specify the recurring period, delivery time, start date, and campaign recipients.



Best of luck as you continue to perfect the science / art of automated newsletters, and email marketing as a whole.


As always, remember that email marketing is a matter of trial, error, and great persistence. It requires patience and tenacity, but the pay-off is quite rewarding, so stick with it, and you will see results.


For more on Email Marketing, take a look at the previous posts in this series, and stay tuned as we continue to unravel this layered topic.


Pt. 1: The Subject Line


Pt. 2: Subject Line Research


Pt. 3: The Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Email Marketing


Pt. 4: The Most Popular Platforms For Viewing Email Campaigns


Pt. 5: Making Use of Open Rates & Click-Through Rates


We'd love to hear your experiences with email marketing. Feel free to drop us a line with any feedback, questions, or cool stories you may have.


If you're interested in getting a campaign set up, please Contact Us today.


How to configure an email client to use the secure certification

With today's email clients, it's possible to use secure SSL connections for added security. Doing so ensures that if another person somehow has the ability to eavesdrop on your Internet connections, that person won't be able to view your password or the contents of your e-mail.

We will use Outlook 2010 as email client for showing how the configuration should be done.

After you reach to the step where you enter the incoming and outgoing mail servers there are two possibilities:

 

 

Use your own domain and install the SSL certificate

Use mail.your_domain as incoming and outgoing mail servers, where your_domain is your custom domain. For instance if your domain is example.com the incoming/outgoing mail server should be mail.example.com

By using mail.your_domain you will need to install the SSL secure certificate.

In order to do this please click on "More Settings" on the bottom-right corner. In the "Advanced" tab you can use encrypted connection (SSL) for POP (for the incoming emails) and also for SMTP (for the outgoing emails). You need to tick the checkbox "This server requires and encrypted connection(SSL)" which will change the port to 995. Also you need to select SSL from the dropdown "Use the following type of encrypted connection" and change the Outgoing server (SMTP) from 25 to 465. Now the E-Mail Settings should look as follows: 

Click OK and you should return to the main window. Click Next :

Now a message will pop up: 

Click on "View Certificate" then click on "Install Certificate":

click "Next":

leave the selected option and click "Next":

leave the selected option and click "Finish":

You should receive an successful import message:

Now you can click on the "Yes" option:

You have sucesfully installed the SSL certificate and now your emails are being received/sent in a secure manner.

Use a domain that already has the SSL certificate installed on it

Use mail.your_domain.cust.b.hostedemail.com as incoming and outgoing mail servers, where your_domain is your custom domain. For instance if your domain is example.com the incoming/outgoing mail server should be mail.example.com.cust.b.hostedemail.com

This domain has installed the SSL certificate on it. Configure you POP and SMTP to use SSL by clicking on "More Settings" on the bottom-right corner. In the "Advanced" tab you can use encrypted connection (SSL) for POP (for the incoming emails) and also for SMTP (for the outgoing emails). You need to tick the checkbox "This server requires and encrypted connection(SSL)" which will change the port to 995. Also you need to select SSL from the dropdown "Use the following type of encrypted connection" and change the Outgoing server (SMTP) from 25 to 465. Now the E-Mail Settings should look as follows: 

 

Click OK and you should be able to see the main window. Click Next :

An message will pop up: 

Click on the "Yes" option because you have already the SSL certificate create on the domains used as incoming/outgoing mail server (mail.your_domain.cust.b.hostedemail.com).

Now your emails are being received/sent in a secure manner.

 

Conclusion

In this article we have used Outlook 2010 as example on how to install/use SSL for sending/receiving emails however the principle is the same for each mail client:

You need to use encrypted connection (SSL) for POP protocol on port 995 (for IMAP protocol on port 993) and/or encrypted connection (SSL) for SMTP on port 465.

  • Use your domain and install the secure certificate (explained in the first step) or use the custom domain (explained on the second step) for sending/receiving emails in a secure manner.


How To Plan A Website

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

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


Basic SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of getting your custom website on the front page of Google or Bing (or whichever service you use) for a given search term. SEO is an essential part of having your own website, and although this relatively new industry has a lot of strange twists and turns, today we're going to help you understand why it's vital, and where to start.


How It Works

According to Google, this behemoth Internet consists of roughly 60 trillion web pages, and is growing by the minute. The job of a search engine is to crawl from page to page using what are called spiders: these are simply the parts of the program that gather relevant information from the text and meta data of each page.


All of the gathered information is stored in an enormous database, where it is categorized. Then, whenever an Internet user makes a search, the search engine combs the vast database and, using a complex algorithm, presents the Internet user with the most relevant and useful information, based on the crawling and categorization of the spiders.


Now, this can all get a little confusing, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We could go on and on about the ins and outs of search engine technology, but today, we're just trying to provide you with the basic information you'll need to get started. There are a number of fantastic books written on the topic, and Google has actually provided a lot of information recently on how they do what they do. If you're interested, a little research will go a long way.


Having said that, here's the main take-away as we proceed: it's all about keywords and links.


The Power of Keywords

It all begins with keywords. Essentially, you should think of your keywords as industry-relevant search terms. Place yourself in the shoes of potential visitors to your site. What will they type into the search engine in order for your page to come up?


Although you should initially conjure as many as you can think of, research will reveal a select few that are worth focusing on (you certainly don't want to spread yourself too thin among too many words). This first step is the most important in the process, as it will influence all subsequent action. From here on out, you must have a keyword-oriented mindset.


As you begin your campaign, after you've done your research and selected your keywords, you're going to want to commit to them for a while. At least until you've had time to plant your roots in some different places over the web. True, your SEO campaign will inevitably shift over the course of months, and you may discover new and better keywords. You can always go back and make modifications later.


However, being that your SEO campaign is going to grow from this foundation of keywords, it's best to choose wisely, and then commit. If the text has already been crafted for your site, we will not ask you to rewrite it, we will simply build your basic SEO structure around the already-existing content. However, for more intense efforts, it may be necessary to rework the copy to contain more strategically placed keywords.


The Bare Essentials

When you get yourself a website, there is a list of basic things you'll need. For example, you need a landing page: this will usually be your Home page, where you'll also need text or images that gives the visitor an overview of your business. You'll also need a Contact page where those who are interested in your products and services can shoot you an email and get a hold of you. This is all pretty straight-forward. But, an often overlooked, yet equally necessary part of this list of essentials is meta data.


When people discuss meta data, they may be referring to a number of things. Meta data exists in the source code of a website, which can be viewed by pressing ctrl+U on any page. In terms of SEO, the big three are: keywords, titles, and descriptions.


Your keywords meta data tag will contain your comprehensive list of keywords, created from your speculation and research. There should be a handful of primary keywords within this list that you've chosen to focus on. These primary keywords will play heavily into your title tags and description tags. All three of these meta data tags (keywords, titles, and descriptions) must be manually inserted into the source code of every page of your custom website. The spiders will give weight to these as they categorize and index.


While the keywords meta data tag is primarily for the spiders, the title and description tags manifest on the front end of your site, and serve a secondary purpose for potential visitors as well. Whenever you make a search on Google, you'll see a long list of sites.



For any one of them, the words in the actual link being presented are taken from the title tag. This is also what you'll see at the very top of the browser (Home | Custom Web Design | Hilton Head). Beneath the link, there is a brief paragraph explaining the site: this text is taken from the description tag.


So, although your titles and descriptions should be jam-packed with keywords, it is also wise to make them articulate and cohesive for the visitors who may see them on the pages of Google.


These three meta data tags are considered the bare essentials for any custom website. Once they have been crafted and manually inserted into each page, you must submit your site to Google (and any other search engines you deem appropriate), so that their spiders know your pages are there, waiting to be indexed. Of course, submitting your site is no guarantee that it will be indexed, but as far as basic SEO efforts are concerned, it's a great start.


Everything discussed up to this point is what you will receive when you build a custom website with HDM. Next, we're going to talk about some more basic actions you can take to give your site a little extra push.


The Power of Links

As you continue to explore SEO, you will find that links are your best friends. Link building is often compared to a candidate collecting votes. The more links you have going back to the pages of your site, whether internal or external, the more search engines will tend to notice. According to Google:


Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B … Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”


You'll want to begin with internal links. As you develop your custom website, keep an eye out for absolutely any opportunity you can find to drop a link going to back to another one of your pages. Direct your visitors to your contact page, your services page, your portfolio, and use keyword-rich links to do it.


For example, let's say you design jewelry. Your link could say, For more information on custom jewelry, contact me. Or, See my portfolio of custom jewelry designs. Keywords within links carry quite a good deal of weight.


Eventually, you'll want to start to try to get other people to link to your site. Link Building, in this sense, is an entirely separate discipline of SEO, and goes beyond the scope of the basics that we're covering today. But if it's something you're considering, just remember that the quality of the page linking back to you matters. There's such a thing as link farms, and they could get you in trouble with Google.


You'll also eventually want to implement social media into your SEO efforts. Recently, Facebook and Twitter have become variables in the SEO game, and the search engines are responding. And then, of course, there's always Pay-Per-Click, a marketing effort in which you receive prime real estate on the front page, and then pay a small fee whenever someone clicks your link. These are the Sponsored Ads you'll see at the top of the search results, and sometimes at the side of the page.


There's much to say to that end, but for today, it simply bears repeating that links are good for your ranking, especially when they contain keywords.


Next, let's look some of the other places on your website where you can drop keywords.


Nooks & Crannies

For an ideally optimized site, you will have done your keyword research prior to naming your pages and writing your text. In many cases (many, but not all) the names of your pages could contain industry-relevant, keyword-rich search terms. The search engines give a lot of weight to keywords found in headers and navigation buttons.


You should also be naming your images. Any words that appear on the actual image cannot be picked up by spiders. However, as you, or your web designer, places images throughout your site, each one can be given an ALT tag. This will show visitors the name of the image if they hover over it, and it will allow spiders to find more of those sweet, sweet keywords. And then to top it off, you can put a unique caption beneath the picture.


In addition, your custom website ought to have a couple sitemaps, especially if the names of your pages contain keywords. There's actually two kinds of sitemaps. The first is a page on your website, like any of the others, that gives a comprehensive overview of your site's layout. Not only is this helpful for visitors navigating through your pages, it's an extra opportunity for your site to be associated with these search terms.


The second kind of sitemap is an xml file, which is inserted into the backend of your site. This is one of the first things that will be crawled by the search engine spiders. Almost all of the custom websites we create at HDM will contain this as well.


An Important Note on Spamming

Good SEO at the basic level is all about doing a lot of little things. As we've seen, this mostly boils down to placing keywords into all of the crevices your custom website possesses. However, you must not underestimate the search engines. They know the difference between legitimate content and keyword-stuffing.


For example, if you copy and paste the same list of keywords over and over again, putting them where they may not be relevant, the spiders will know you're trying to pull a fast one. SEO takes time and care. Every time you see an opportunity for keywords, it will always benefit you in the end to write something unique.


The Power of New Content

As a final word on search engine optimization, we'd like to stress the importance of new content.


As a part of your custom website, we'll get the SEO machine up and running for you. If you'd like to pursue it further, we can help. By consistently pushing out new content, you are able to stay relevant; you'll have even more keyword-rich pages to be indexed, and link building will ultimately be a lot easier.


To talk more about SEO, setting up a blog, or anything else you can think of, call or Contact Us today.


Email Marketing, Pt. 5: Making Use of Open Rates & Click-Through Rates

By now, you've scoured the Internet, collecting the best practices and tactics for your Email Marketing Campaign; you've written the perfect message for the perfect audience, and you've sent your work out into cyberspace. Now it's time to see just how fruitful the product of your labor is, using the in-depth Analytics & Reports toolbelt that came with your HDM custom website.


Faustian Analytics


When you build a custom website with Hazel Digital Media, you are also getting your hands on the latest and greatest analytics technology. After you've delivered your mighty campaign to the masses, you will be able to see an overview of its performance, including the following:


-The number of customers who did and did not open the email.

-The number of “bounced” emails (meaning the email was never received).

-The specific action the viewer took after opening the email.

-The different email clients used to view the message.

+ For a more in-depth look at the most popular email clients, and how that relates to your campaign efforts, be sure to check out the previous post in this series: The Most Popular Platforms For Viewing Email Campaigns.


Let's take a look at some of these different results, and what that means for you and your campaign.


The Raw Data



First off, we're going to tell you how to monitor viewer actions from an email campaign.


From your dashboard, refer to the long list of buttons on the left side of the screen. Click Email Marketing, and then click Email Campaigns.



Once a particular email campaign has been completed, you will see the statistics page, where all of the results for that campaign will be presented. First, you'll see:


-The number of total recipients, to whom you sent the email.

-The number of recipients who then opened that email.

-The number of viewers who took action after opening the email.

+This includes viewers who clicked on a certain link within the message; examples include: making an online purchase, filling out a web form, sharing to social media, and more.


-The percentage of bounced emails.

+A “hard bounce” means the message is permanently undeliverable due to an invalid email address.

+A “soft bounce” means the email address was valid, but the message was still not delivered, due most likely to either a full inbox or a server error on the side of the email client.

+After each campaign is completed, it's a good idea to go through and clean up the bounced email list. Unsubscribe invalid addresses or check for misspellings. Too many bounced emails over too long of a time-span can have some nasty repercussions down the road.


-The number of recipients who ultimately unsubscribed after opening the email.


All of these statistics will ultimately prove to be invaluable. The more campaigns you send out, the better you will get at understanding these numbers, and taking proper action based on them. After each campaign, it is imperative to make use of these tools.


Let's take a look at just how these numbers can help inform your future decisions.


Analytics & You


At the end of the day, your goal with analytics is to find out:


-How many of your emails were delivered (Delivery Rate)?

-How many of your emails were opened (Open Rate)?

-How many of those openers actually clicked (Click-Through Rate)?


Here's a good way to break down the numbers.


For Delivery Rate, take the number of emails delivered and subtract the number of bounced emails. If you want, you can then divide that figure by the original number of emails delivered to gain a percentage of your efficacy.


For Open Rate, divide the number of emails opened by the number of emails delivered. This part of the analytics process is important for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your Subject Line. Crafting the perfect subject line is a delicate art form, and deserves a pretty good deal of attention. For a more in-depth look at the almighty subject line, check out the first two parts in this series: The Subject Line and Subject Line Research.


And now for the big one.


For Click-Through Rate, divide the number of clicks by the number of delivered emails. This is the figure that will inform you more than any in the bunch. Over time, you can use this figure to experiment with different tactics and demographics to find out what works and what doesn't, where it's working and where it's not.


You may find that plain text emails are getting more clicks than your fancy, dressed-up emails; you may find that people in Texas have the itchy click-fingers, while people in California do not; you may find that getting people to share your message to Facebook is a more effective call-to-action than asking people to click to your site.


As always, the bottom line with email marketing is: trial, error, and great persistence. When you design a custom website with HDM, you'll find you have all the tools you need to dissect and measure your email marketing operation.


Hopefully this post will make it easier for you to crunch the numbers, and will give you some idea of how those numbers will influence the next phase of your grand experimentation. Email Marketing isn't easy, but if you keep trying, you will find that emails have the power to build your client base like no social media ever could.


For more information, take a look at the other posts in this series, and stay tuned as we continue to explore this layered topic.


Pt.1: The Subject Line


Pt.2: Subject Line Research


Pt.3: The Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Email Marketing


Pt.4: The Most Popular Email Clients For Opening Email Campaigns


And when it comes to crunching numbers and brainstorming new experiments, we've got at least a couple cents to contribute.


ContactUs Today.



The Official HDM Color Guide

Do you ever notice how when people are sad, they say they're feeling blue? Or when they're angry, they say that they're seeing red? When it comes to visuals, colors are never random. Going back through the history of painting, cinema, and of course, marketing, you better believe that every single pigment is given a great deal of consideration.


If it's something people have to look at, and it's related to your business (i.e. your website), colors should be chosen very deliberately. In fact, you should look at your colors as another weapon in your arsenal as you establish your Marketing Persona, and ultimately win the hearts and dollars of your targeted traffic.


Although color associations may seem mostly subjective, different colors evoke different meanings and emotions. And you will notice that there is a surprising consistency in how people react to certain hues and tones. Below, we've listed some of the greatest hits.


And before we begin, perhaps we should note just how many varying schools of thought center around this subject. Of course, a psychologist may tell you something slightly different that a painter, and someone from the U.S. probably has a different perspective than someone from an eastern continent. Colors do mean different things to different cultures. As website designers, we'll be giving you an opinion that leads toward the context of western visual art and marketing.

Cool? Alright, let's dive in.


Warm Colors


The three colors listed below would all be considered warm colors. Ultimately, these are best reserved for those moments when you want to incite action. They are energetic and a little in-your-face. You may not want to use them at all times, lest you overwhelm the eyes of your viewers. But a few well-placed accents can prove to be pretty effective.


Red


You can dress this one up in a lot of different synonyms, but essentially, the color red equates to great passion. Whether it's a fierce anger, an uncontrollable excitement, or a deep love, red represents all things intense. The color of both blood and roses, the poets and the painters have been using this in unison over the years to translate the same meaning.


Red is an in-your-face color – it demands attention. If you are thinking of integrating this color into your business persona, it should be paired with passionate text and images. I don't mean you have to write a sonnet, but make your words heartfelt and true. The nonchalant phrases and the witty zingers do not belong here. We'll get to those.


Also note that red as a stand-alone color has the potential to be a tad aggressive. If you are going to use red as your primary color (pun intended), we recommend having a good accent color to balance things out.


Pink


Are you man enough to wear pink?


Well, perhaps, but as it stands, pink is strongly associated with femininity. It is the color of romance and tenderness, and we've found that this color works well for businesses like the these:


Mirage Lip Gloss


Salon Karma


This color is most commonly reserved for products like cosmetics and jewelry. Paired with pink, the tone of your text should be soft and gentle.


Having said that, don't ever feel pigeon-holed. If you're a tailor that makes leather vests for biker gangs and you love the color pink, we can find a way to make it work for your custom website.


Yellow


As a species that derives much of our energy from that great big sun up there, we automatically tend to associate the color yellow with sunshine. Consequently, the color yellow has been known to evoke feelings of happiness, hope, and of course, energy.


Those witty zingers I mentioned before would be well-paired with this color. That is to say, if the persona of your business is light-hearted and feel-good, then yellow is for you. It will naturally, and perhaps subconsciously, imbue your readers with a sense of optimism. Like the sun to our species, yellow will give zest and energy to your message.


Cool Colors


The colors listed below have a soothing and calming effect. It's not a coincidence that interior decorators use a lot of cool colors in spas, bathrooms, and other quiet environments. While the use of warm colors grabs attention and incites action, cool colors can be used when providing more in-depth information.


Blue


Obviously, the coolest of them all. Blue imbues feelings of security and trust. Not surprisingly then, it is statistically ranked as the most favored color of our culture. It also seems to be the go-to color for authoritative figures (like police officers, and oftentimes, the President). Therefore, while this is ultimately a relaxing and friendly color, it still altogether radiates professionalism.


It should be noted, however, that an excess can lead to, well... The blues. Too much, and you'll leave your viewers with a cold and disengaged feeling. Like the color red, and its mighty, concentrated power, blue is best used in moderation, with aid from accent colors.


Calm your viewers, but not so much that they lose that call-to-action spirit.


Green


Throughout history, the color green has always been associated with nature, and that trend continues today. Many businesses who focus on going green will obviously make use of this. And if your business has anything at all to do with the outdoors, you can be sure it's a safe bet. A lot of people will also tell you that green is easiest on the eyes, and can therefore be used to create balance with your design.


Furthermore, green is also used worldwide as a traffic symbol. No matter where you live, green means go, most likely, and this is worth considering. As a cool color, it is undeniably soothing, and it brings many positive meanings along with it.


Use green as a way to inspire possibility among your viewers.


Purple


Back in the day... I mean, way back in the day, dying your clothes a certain color was a bit of a luxury. It often required plants and roots that may have been hard to come by. As it happens, the materials needed for purple dye were rather exclusive, and expensive to obtain. Therefore, only the wealthiest folks (the kings and queens) could afford purple clothing.


As a by-product of this fun fact, purple is still strongly associated with royalty and luxury. You can integrate this color into your design to give it a more grandiose and opulent feel.


It also said that lighter shades of purple have a serene effect. Like the color pink, light purple is best used in conjunction with gentle tones, and is often seen accompanying beauty products. Furthermore, lavender is believed to incite feelings of creativity in your viewers. You can use this to your advantage as you map out your persona.


Neutral Colors


This collection of colors includes black, white, tan, and gray. They are easy on the eyes, and they make for perfect backgrounds. It's easy to use any one of these as a foundation to build upon with brighter colors.


Black has a mysterious and intriguing power, but is also associated with sophistication (Black-Tie Event, much?).


White has the power of purity and sterility. Apple is a good example of a company who has made great use of that power in their business persona. It's the classic backdrop color, and can make brighter shades truly pop if used as an accent.


Conclusion


So many good choices. Each color inevitably evokes it's own meaning, so any one that you consider is naturally going to have its own set of pros and cons. Narrowing down the list to find the perfect combination of colors that suits you is no easy ask.


But, it is an imperative task nonetheless. According to research, more than 90% of consumers place importance on visual factors when purchasing products. It is also said that color can increase brand recognition by 80%, compared to black and white counterparts.


Before asking yourself, which color is right for my business persona? you should be asking yourself: how do I want my target market to feel when they catch a glimpse of my website?


Regarding this here HDM custom website, the dominant black background with it's varying textures and subtle color compliments were weighty decisions that we arrived at after much deliberation. Over the years, we have refined the process that we use to effectively integrate the right color schemes into a particular business persona.


What do the colors of your website say about your business?


Contact Us today tofind out.


Email Marketing, Pt. 4: The Most Popular Platforms For Viewing Email Campaigns

You may not realize it at first, but the way in which people view your Email Campaign can greatly impact what your message needs to look like to be effective.


Today, we're going to take a look at some of the most popular email clients & platforms being used to view Email Marketing Campaigns from around the Internet. We're also going to look at some different methods in which you may capitalize on this information. Some of these truths may be what you were expecting, but we're going to throw a few factual curve balls at you too, so get ready!


Marketing To Mobile Users


Studies show that in the last year and a half, mobile devices became the primary method for users to view their emails. In 2011, there were more smartphones purchased than PC's. As you continue to hone your campaigning craft, this is the most important revelation you need to be aware of, as this can have a rather drastic impact on the look and feel of your messages.


Given this truth, you must craft your campaigns to suit the desktop user as well as the mobile user. In fact, research shows that the majority of people who read their emails now, do so either in bed, directly before or after a night of sleep, or in a public place like the bus stop or at the coffeeshop. What do you think attention spans are like in this state?


As mentioned earlier in this series, it is almost always preferable to ere on the side of less is more, and this information validates that. With so many emails constantly pouring into an individual's inbox, you may not have much time. Personal and business emails are almost always filtered into the same area, which means the pockets of your targets are constantly buzzing.


This isn't to say that you should do away with sleek designs and good-looking graphics if you can get away with it. But you absolutely must not focus or rely on this too heavily. It all comes back to content. Polish your words as much as you can – make the body of your text engaging, informative, and fun.


What's more, it seems that people who view emails on their mobile devices like to share things they find interesting. A lot of folks will forward emails to their friends, or they may even post it to their Twitter or Facebook. Encouraging them to share is always a good idea.


Desktop Clients


Despite the influx of smartphones into the marketplace, there are still a good handful of people who do the bulk of their messaging from their desk at the office. For some industries, this might be the majority of the target market. If that's the case, you should be aware that Outlook is the second leading email client.


Note that this is different from web-based clients like Yahoo! And Gmail (which we'll get to) – Outlook is its own application that plays by its own set of rules. Keep this in mind as you design your emails. The sleek look and feel of a well-crafted HTML design can absolutely be effective if done properly. But building an HTML email for Outlook isn't like building something for the web. Microsoft has shaken things up a bit, and the rules for what will look good have changed.


By all means, take advantage of this if you need to. You can reach a lot of people by specifically targeting those who use Outlook. Just remember that doing so requires patience and persistence. You will need to frequently check these messages using Outlook, making sure that everything looks as it ought to; you may not be able to get away with some of the fancier HTML capabilities.


Test your designs regularly.


Web-Based Platforms


Finally, coming in third place, are the myriad of web-based platforms out there. The three most popular of these are Apple Mail, Yahoo!, and Gmail.


There are a lot of small mistakes to be made when utilizing this platform. One of the most common oopsy-daisies is making forwarding lists, or CC'ing a single message to the entire client base. This can cause some problems. If one person replies to the message, your entire client base will see it. This is to say nothing of how unprofessional and impersonal it looks.


Luckily, when you craft your Email Marketing Campaign through your HDM custom website, it will send out a single, unique message to every one of your clients individually.


Conclusion

It can be challenging to try to appease all of these platforms simultaneously. Your best bet is to let your Email Campaign reflect your target market. Who are you trying to reach out to, and how do they most likely view their emails? The design will change from one email client to the next. Having said that, always remember: content is king.


If you're thinking of beginning a campaign, and looking for a good place to start, we recommend checking out the earlier posts in this series.


Part 1: The Subject Line


Part 2: Subject Line Research


Part 3: Ten Things You Need To Know About Email Marketing


Or, if you have any specific questions or queries, please call or Contact Us today. We've been designing Email Marketing Campaigns for years, and have seen all of the different trends come and go. We can not only help you discover your target market, we can help you craft the perfect campaign for it. We look forward to hearing from you.


How To Write A Good Blog, Pt. 3: Promoting Your Posts

When you write and publish awesome content on your blog, good things will come your way.” – Nicholas Whitmore


Who Are You Writing For?


It always comes back to content, first and foremost.


It's imperative to clearly define your target market from the onset, and then let the content of your blog organically revolve around their needs and tastes. The best way to get people to your blog is to write compelling and relevant material. If you build it, they will come.


Certainly, that may be a little bit of an over-simplification. But, it still remains that determining exactly what your target market of readership resembles is the starting place for promoting your blog. Eventually (or ideally from the get-go), you should think of content creation and promotion as two sides of the same coin. Let your content naturally manifest as a reaction to the type of people you are trying to get involved.


As we'll see in the next paragraphs, promoting your blog must be done so in a sincere manner, no exceptions. So if a conversation about your blog happens, whether in real life or online, it is inevitably going to be among people with whom you have something in common. Therefore, write for those with shared interests. If you accomplish this, your blog will practically promote itself.


Build Your Presence


Let's use an enormous city as a metaphor for the Internet. Out there, among the labyrinth of cyber streets, your perfect community of target readers is just waiting to be found. There are a lot of roads to scour, but scour you must, and you're going to want to pop your head into many an online hangout spot to determine just where these coveted folks may be congregating.


It shouldn't be terribly difficult – Internet culture is all connected, so put yourself in the shoes of your readers, and think about potential shared interests. There are other blogs, and there are also message boards and forums on a myriad of topics that are probably closely related to the core subject of your blog. Go to where the people are talking, and once you find them, join the conversation.


This point cannot be stressed enough. It seems the knee-jerk reaction for most folks trying to build their following is to shove advertisement-style verbiage in the faces of everyone they can. Instead, involve yourself in the discussion by offering worthwhile opinions and useful contributions.


If it's genuine, people will respond.


Then of course, with each contribution you make, leave a link going back to your blog. In this way, you are indirectly promoting yourself while establishing credibility. Explore as many online communities as you see fit, and sew your seeds where it seems appropriate to. Get people's attention with genuine contributions, and the type of readers you're writing for will find you.


And before we move on to the next bullet point, there's a thought that bears reiterating. Always remember, with whatever you do: if your writing sounds even remotely like an advertisement, you are guaranteed to alienate a lot of potential followers. Like I said in Pt. 1: when it comes to your blog, and all things relating, you must keep it real, and say it with feeling!


Word-of-Mouth


Being that the practice of blogging is a relatively new innovation, it is quite the hot topic among... Well, a lot of people. From grass-roots entrepreneurial start-ups to philosophers to rock stars, great amounts of people are blogging these days, and what's better, an even greater amount of people are constantly discussing it – in the real world, using their real voices.


Most likely, there are gatherings related to your niche. Industry conferences and networking events are perfect opportunities to incite a conversation about the blogosphere. Perhaps you'll find yourself at a friendly social gathering, or even if you're just talking to your waiter: whenever someone asks you what you do, have the elevator pitch for your blog locked and loaded.


You'll be surprised at the people of today's culture, and just how eager they are to discuss blogging. And if yours is something that you've put a lot of love into, you should have no problem speaking candidly and passionately about your writing.


Conclusion


It suffices to say that the absolute best way to promote your blog is to join the conversation, both online and off. You can talk about blogging, or you can talk about your niche. But when you're done talking, leave some time for listening, and then respond appropriately. Promoting yourself on the Internet is a delicate art form, but one that anyone can master with a little practice. Just remember, in order to capitalize on the almighty community, they must trust you. Sincerity and insight builds trust – advertisements do not.


We've spent a lot of time pacing the metaphorical streets of the enormous Internet, and we've managed to join in more than a few conversations over the years. If you'd like to learn more about this delicate art form, or if you'd like to know how to get started building your blog, we can help. Contact us today.


If you missed it, don't forget to check out the earlier posts in this series on How To Write A Good Blog.


How To Write A Good Blog, Pt. 1: A Few Basic Guidelines


How To Write A Good Blog, Pt. 2: Generating Quality Ideas Over Time


If you have any questions or comments, we look forward to hearing from you. Till then, see you on the blogosphere.


How To Write A Good Blog, Pt. 2: Generating Quality Ideas Over Time

Last time we talked about The basic guidelines for how to write a good blog post. Hopefully you found our tips from the previous post helpful, and hopefully those itchy fingers of yours have been buzzing with blog euphoria.


However, it should be well-understood that a good blog is born over many moons. No matter who you are, it's going to take a good while to get a great amount of people rounded up and coming back. So today, we're talking about the long con: how to stay motivated and build a community.


Delving Into Your Industry


Long running, successful blogs inevitably rack up hundreds of posts, if not more, which can be a daunting thing to realize. But never fear – there is always something to write about.


Each blog should read and operate differently, respective to its industry or niche. Hopefully you have a lot to say about your business, and you can dedicate a lot of time to helping people understand every intricate facet of it.


As you're doing that, remain aware of what's going on in the bigger picture. It never hurts to read other blogs in your industry to see what's trending, and if you can write about how your business is impacting or being impacted by current trends, the ears of the Internet will begin to prick up. And if you find some blogs that you like throughout your research, you can even make posts reviewing them, or reach out and try to get them to do a feature for your blog.


Every niche is inevitably going to have a lot that can be said about it, and hopefully you have a lot to say about your own beginnings and development within that niche. Having said that, writing posts that involve your readers is always a great avenue to pursue.


Foster The Community


Your community of readers is obviously an essential part of your blog. And, like anyone on the Internet, they probably have opinions that they want heard, and they probably enjoy participation. There are a few ways you can engage your readers, and make your blog interactive.


One of the easiest and most effective ways to pique the brains of your readers and get them involved is to dedicate a post to a poll. Aside from the benefit of receiving information straight from the target market, you will get people involved. Get opinions on product ideas, event experiences, trending topics, or anything else that you think will get people thinking about your business.


If you can get people thinking about your business, you can probably get them talking via your blog. Always encourage comments from your readers. When someone has something useful to say, acknowledge them specifically within the conversation. If someone asks a question, you can use it as an opportunity to direct them to previous blog posts, or you can connect them to a helpful comment from another user. In this way, a community will naturally form. It won't form quickly, most likely. But, creating a loyal online network is worth the tenacity.


Staying Motivated


The process of building a blog from the ground up is enough to fatigue even the most seasoned blog veterans. At a certain point, your raging motivation to change the face of the blogosphere forever will probably go to war with burn-out and apathy. Here's a few tips for fighting the good fight.


First of all, one of the best things you can do is set a deadline for yourself, and stick to it, no exceptions. The mind is capable of incredible things when under pressure, and in this state, you will discover, truly, just how much there is to write about.


However, this is obviously not the most pleasant part of your brain to mine creativity from. So in addition to that, writing a blog series (much like this one) can be useful. Rather than going after many small ideas, tackling one big idea and breaking it down into bite-sized portions could yield abundant, quality content over time.


Also keep in mind that as you write, your blog will inevitably grow and receive new followers. If you already have a lot of content, your new readers probably haven't seen a lot of your older posts. Why not revisit some of those ideas by carrying on the same line of thought in a new post?


Finally, a great tactic to employ if you find yourself staring for too long at a blank page is to enlist help. As mentioned earlier in this post, reaching out to other bloggers to contribute to your own is a fantastic idea for a number of reasons. It not only expands the reach of your online network; it not only lends credibility to your work; it also exposes you to new ideas and a fresh perspective. Having someone else write a guest post for your blog is great for battling apathy and writer's block. You may find that having a little new material to riff off of was all you needed to rebuild the euphoria in your fingertips.


Conclusion


Creating a blog is easy, which is why you see them in such tremendous abundance. Creating a good blog is not quite so simple. However, if you abide by a certain set of basic principles, you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish with your online writing.


If you're thinking of getting your feet wet, we can help you build a blog for your business. If you've already gotten started, we can help you improve your blog, whether that means coaching you, helping you brainstorm ideas, or ghost-writing for you. Contact us today.


And if you missed it, be sure to check out the first part in this series: A Few Basic Guidelines on How to Write A Good Blog. Also, be sure to stay tuned – next we'll be discussing ways to get that perfect post into the hands of the readers who need it.


As always, happy blogging.


How To Write A Good Blog, Pt. 1: A Few Basic Guidelines

Blogging isn't about publishing as much as you can, it's about publishing as smart as you can.” – Jon Morrow


Maintaining a consistent blog is a fantastic business strategy these days. Aside from (hopefully) establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, it also shows that you are actively dedicated to exploring every facet of your business, which will inevitably incite more nods and winks from visitors than your blogless competitors.


But best of all, if you have a quality blog, then a community can be formed around your business. If people subscribe to what you have to say, then they will subscribe to your business as a whole.


Well, this is a lot easier said than done. It seems like everybody and their cat has a blog lately. So how best to set yourself apart? We've got some tips, and we hope you like what we have to say.


Ingredients For A Good Post


As with any form of writing, it must feel genuine and natural. If you rely too much on formulaic principles, your posts will be hollow and thus, not so pleasant to read. Having said that, it never hurts to follow some guidelines. Building is a lot easier when you start with a well-structured foundation. So take everything you can from the tips below, but above all, you must remember to keep it real, and say it with feeling!



1. Content


The number one rule of writing blogs: quality content is more important than anything else. Do what you will with the cosmetics, the SEO, and the social media – those are all important aspects as well, but always remember that no one will stick around for long if you haven't got something worthwhile to say. Concentrate the bulk of your efforts on the body of your text.


2. First Impressions


The Title of your blog, as well as the Opening Line play a vital role as well. When people are scrolling through Google or their RSS feed, these are the things they're going to see. Put some time into making these two elements as intriguing and useful as possible, as a way to stand out from the flood of questionably-useful information out there.


3. Readability


Anybody who's checking out your blog for the first time will likely do so in a predictable manner: rather than start at the top and read straight through, they'll probably start scanning the entire page, looking for phrases that pop out as they analyze whether the post is worth their time or not.


Equipped with this knowledge, try to make the main points of your post (or at least some of the juicier tidbits) stand out. You can do this with lists, well-worded subheaders, or anything else outside the box that comes to you. A little bit of word-play and visual stimulation goes a long way.


4. Small Mistakes Can Do Great Damage


Okay, so the Internet isn't exactly a grammatical academy. However, that being the case, a great divide has been formed between those who carefully structure each sentence and polish every paragraph – versus those who can't be bothered to care about capitalization, punctuation, and so on.


Typos, errors, and grammatical apathy can absolutely devastate your credibility. Lack of attention to this takes away from the tone you are trying to create, and waters down your message by making it less readable. Before pushing publish, it is well worth your time to read back over everything, and polish until it shines.


5. Call-To-Action


What is the purpose of your blog? You should have the answer to this question in your back pocket the entire time you're writing, and each post should be an appendage of your efforts to connect with your community of readers – the newcomers and the die-hards alike.


Ideally, the power of your posts will be enough to prompt readers to take action. The type of action they take will differ from post to post, and from one industry to the next. Perhaps you want them to check out the new line of products you're currently showcasing on your site. Perhaps you want them to share what you have to say on Facebook. In the end, blogging can absolutely bring business – it's simply a matter of trial, error, and great persistence.


Conclusion


Whenever we design a website for one of our clients, we ultimately want to help them make the biggest splash possible on the web. A blog isn't for everybody, but for a lot of folks, it can prove tremendously beneficial.


If you feel like you've got something to say, we'd love to help you, whether that means coaching you, ghost-writing for you, or just helping you to come up with good ideas. Contact Us today to get started.


In the meantime, stay tuned for more on how to write a good blog post. In the next part, we'll be talking about ways to generate quality ideas over time.


Till then, happy blogging!


The Heartbleed Bug

As many of you may know, an important vulnerability has been recently discovered for OpenSSL (you can read about it here).

Fortunately, our public facing infrastructure is not vulnerable to this type of exploit. If you want to verify this you can do it yourself by accessing this link:

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=worldsecuresystems.com&s=54.252.151.154

We're in the process of patching some machines that are behind the firewall and might have a version of OpenSSL vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. These are not accessible from the Internet, but as a precaution, we are patching the operating systems and regenerating our certificates for all of them.

On your end, although there is no evidence that any accounts have been affected in any way, as a precaution, we recommend that you reset all your Admin password(s).

Sincerely,

The HDM Support Team


Why Your Small to Medium-sized Business Needs Responsive Design, Not A Mobile Site

Responsive Design vs. Mobile Sites


Both are examples of some of the latest and greatest evolutions in web technology. Both allow your custom website to be viewed from phones and tablets. So just what are the differences, and why do they matter so much? Today, we'd like to provide you with an honest assessment of the pros and cons of Responsive Design technology & Mobile Site technology, and why we ultimately came to value (and recommend) one above the other.


Broken down simply, a Mobile Site is essentially a second version of your site, separate from the original, with it's own url and codebase, designed specifically for mobile users.


By contrast, if you're using Responsive Design, you're using a single website with special coding in the backend that allows it to automatically fit the dimensions of the viewing device.


For an example of responsive design in action, shrink this here window down to the size of a phone or tablet, and watch as our HDM custom website alters itself automatically to fit.


The User Experience


At this point in the game, this is mobile site technology's primary proficiency. Because it is essentially a second, reanimated site, designed specifically for mobile use, the developer of the site can fine-tune it to create a unique viewing experience. A custom website using responsive design will look and operate the same as your desktop site, only a little smaller.


For this reason alone, some businesses may prefer a mobile site. However, for our two cents, this single benefit of mobile sites is not worth the trouble, as we'll discover in the following paragraphs.


Updates & Maintenance


When it comes to maintaining your site, Responsive Design is hands-down the better option, ultimately cutting costs and manpower. A mobile site is an entirely separate set of programming and content. Thus, you'll essentially be forced to manage two websites instead of one, giving way to unnecessary hassles in the face of minor updates, and the risk of great inconsistencies. A responsive design website utilizes only one codebase.


Furthermore, because of rapidly evolving mobile technology, there's a good chance your mobile site will have to be completely redesigned every time a new phone or tablet hits the market. Responsive Design is much more flexible, and will thus be relevant for years to come.


Search Engine Optimization


When browsing the Internet on a mobile device, if you type in the url of a certain site, you'll be redirected to a different url (usually m.domain.com). With Responsive Design, you keep the same domain at all times. According to Google, for this reason, Responsive Design is more well-suited to SEO endeavors: ...Maintaining a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoiding any complicated redirects, and simplifies the sharing of web addresses...


Moreover, a large part of gaining a foothold among search engines is link building. In terms of SEO, we think of links as votes, and the website with more votes is inevitably more popular. This is true of the many links on your site that allow navigation. Therefore, your link equity will not carry over from your original site to your mobile site. With responsive design, you do not forfeit any progress.


Conclusion


For the most part, you may as well consider the mobile site an obsolete technology, the presence of which will likely diminish in coming years. As you move forward with your business, we think it wise to choose the technology that will not require new programming on new devices. You'll save money in the long run, minimize unnecessary labor, and have more success with search engines.


Whether building a new custom website, or converting your old one, pursuing responsive design is as simple as clicking a button. Click here to Contact Us today.


To learn more about the topic, check out our recent post explaining the details of Custom Websites With Responsive Design.


Email Marketing, Pt. 3: The Top 10 Things You Need To Know

Creating the perfect email marketing campaign is no easy task. It's truly a science as well as an art form, and effective recipes are inevitably going to differ between each business and industry. However, there are good guidelines to follow, and a set of rules you should be playing by, no matter who you are. Below, we've organized a concise and comprehensive list of things to keep in mind as you embark on your Email Marketing odyssey.


1. Website Content


How does the content of your actual website read? If you haven't given it much love lately, you might want to revisit it before drafting any email campaigns. After all, the end goal is to draw people back to your website. If your marketing campaign hooks them and brings them back to mediocre content, all will have been for naught! And we can't have that. So make sure the foundation you lay is as sturdy as it can possibly be before inviting people to explore it.


2. The List


You want your message to reach the best audience possible. This doesn't necessarily mean the biggest audience possible. We're after quality, not quantity, and most of the time, it's not worth watering down your message to appease a broader circle. So you need to choose carefully. But where to find the kind and volume you're looking for?


This comes from market research, and developing an understanding of your target audience. If you already have email subscribers, try to identify how they came to be subscribers, and why. Make use of social media outlets and client referrals. Get people talking and making comments on your blog. Plus, it never hurts to do some real-world scouting in the interest of the almighty list. Always remember, there's no better teacher than trial & error.


3. What Kind of Content?


There are a lot of avenues you can pursue to this end, but it should ultimately be a reflection of what kind of business you are. Your readers may get more out of straight-forward written content. Or, your readers may get more out of pictures of your latest products or events. Depending on who you're marketing to, your content will inevitably change. Trial & error comes in as an effective teaching tool here, as well, and you should keep this question in mind as you develop the idea of who exactly your target audience is. The possibilities are virtually limitless, so have yourself some fun as you tinker around with different ideas.


4. Less Is More


This refers to both the text, as well as the graphics. Studies show that people respond better to plain text emails rather than fancy html shenanigans (that's what your website's for, after all). And with attention spans at a steady decline, it's best to try and use the smallest amount of words possible. It's challenging to be informative and concise at the same time, but if you can use smaller sentences that pack a punch, you'll be far better off, and the call-to-action will be much clearer. When it comes to emails, you must be sensitive of people's time (or lack thereof).


5. Treat Them Well


The people who are going to respond to your campaign, and ultimately sign up for a newsletter certainly don't have to. So you have to make it worth their while. In fact, you should be treating your subscribers like royalty. Whether this means alerting them to specific sales or events before anyone else, or providing exclusive content, you must reward them for following you. Don't just drone on about your business – only discuss things that will ultimately benefit them. Otherwise, why else should they care?


6. Know Your Goals From The Get-Go


Are you trying to bring readers back to your site? Are you trying to showcase an exciting new product? Perhaps you just want your readers to tell their friends by sharing it on Facebook. By knowing the ultimate end-game of your email marketing campaign, you can craft the body of your text, and more importantly, your call-to-action, around these objectives.


7. Make A Schedule, And Stick To It


The frequency with which you send out emails may change and develop over time as you find yourself settling into a comfortable newsletter routine. However, the sooner you reach a spot where you're delivering consistently, the better. A good rule of thumb when starting out is to try and send an email to your subscribers once a month. This will give you plenty of time to craft the perfect message, and you won't be overwhelming any inboxes.


As you go on, you may find that you've got enough to say and showcase to be sending out a message every week. A lot of sites will even send out small updates or novelties every other day. You need to find the pace that's right for you, but more than anything, once you find it, commit to it. Consumers like consistency.


Finally, once you have the details of your sending frequency nailed down, it helps to integrate this work into your day-to-day routine. Tinker with it for ten minutes every day before lunch, or for the last hour before leaving the office. Consistency in the creative aspect of it will help maintain the content's potency and cohesiveness. It will make it easier for you to work on, and easier for your recipients to read.


8. Measure Open Rates & Click-Through Rates


What a world we live in. Marketing was a lot less quantifiable a few years ago, when all of those tangible letters sent through the mail were done so on faith alone. Business owners had to send out their newsletters, never knowing how many of them were opened or how many led to an effective call-to-action. Now we can know. When you utilize your custom HDM website for your email marketing campaign, you will be alerted to Open Rates and Click-Through Rates.


Open Rates tell you how many people opened your email, and Click-Through Rates tell you how many people participated in the respective call-to-action of that email, whether it was clicking through to your website or watching the video you posted. Later in this series of blog posts, we'll be talking more about how best to analyze and make use of these statistics, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, be aware of all the tools in your tool belt. Never has there been a better way to measure the triumphs and pitfalls of your marketing efforts.


9. Quality Content Over Time


Great email marketing content comes from knowing the wants and needs of your target audience. Pay attention to how people are behaving on your site. Suppose you have an e-commerce function: you can see who is buying what, and how many people may have come close to making a purchase before changing their mind. In this way, your marketing campaign can, over the course of your sending schedule, highlight popular products, or discuss items going on sale or that are nearly out of stock.


If you have a blog on your site, do your best to foster community participation. There you can identify what topics people are responding to, and model your campaign around that. Talk about new events that are happening, and try to get people to RSVP on Facebook. Or, you can always make videos, perform interviews, or do polls. The possibilities are endless.


Whatever you do, it bears repeating that you must put emphasis on the benefits the recipients will experience by following through with your call-to-action. A little creativity goes a long way, so just try to think outside the box, even a little bit. If nothing else, you can always take to the Internet for inspiration, where many others have been writing and analyzing effective campaign ideas for years.


10. The Subject Line is Holy


So holy, in fact, that the first two posts in this series centered solely around the 40 – 50 characters that comprise a subject line. There's a bit to be said on the matter, so we invite you to check out the earlier posts in our blog if you haven't done so already.


EmailMarketing, Pt. 1: The Subject Line


EmailMarketing, Pt. 2: Subject Line Research


For now, it suffices to restate the simple truth that: the best email campaigns in the world can get sent straight to the trash bin or marked as spam if the subject line makes a poor first impression. That being the case, this facet of your campaign deserves an enormous amount of attention.


We hope you found these ideas helpful, and we wish you the best as you hone your email marketing skills. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the science / art of this vast online tool, and please Call or Contact Us at any point for more information.


HDM Success Story: Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association

We recently came into contact with the Home Builders Association of Hilton Head. In our communications, we eventually worked together to shed some light on company goals in the online arena, and thereby isolate certain deficiencies with their current web presence at the time.

They had certain things they wanted to accomplish – things they knew would bolster their brand name, their productivity, and the reach of their message. By making use of the latest web development technologies, we were able to help them accomplish what they needed to for the best interest of their business.

We're not trying to sound our own horns here – that's not the purpose of this post. What we are trying to do is observe some common problems that we find to be shared by many businesses today. What we have here are real life solutions in action.

If you keep reading, you may find that your current web operation shares similar struggles to that of HBAHH. Which, of course, means you could benefit from our respectively applied solutions.


Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association


The Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association is a non-profit professional trade association made up of more than 450 member companies. Their resources, services, and capabilities are extremely far-reaching.


They needed a website that could ultimately portray the combined services, grand in scope, provided by all of the member companies. They also needed a way to succinctly provide the lush amount of information regarding member benefits, for all potential companies seeking to join. Finally, they needed a way to easily maintain communication, not just with the member companies, but for all potential members as well. This is just the tip of the iceberg.


The Power of an HDM Custom Website


With a member directory this massive, and a collection of information so vast, HHAHBA needed a way to have all of it on hand without running a bulky, unnavigable behemoth of a website. Using the latest web applications, and taking advantage of the functionality that is built into every single HDM custom website, we were able to feed the information directly into the front end.


Thus, we gave the appearance of over 450 individual web pages, while only having to maintain a handful. Now, the member directory can easily be combed by category, or a user may search for individual names. The final product is resourceful for users, easy for the company to maintain, and altogether, not too bad on the eyes.


Finally, we have made their new custom website responsive, meaning it can be viewed across all platforms. For a website that demands information at a moment's notice, this facet of web design becomes incredibly helpful. Rather than having to pinch and zoom on your smart phone, or search for the right button on your tablet, this website is going to look and work beautifully no matter the size – that is, it automatically changes in shape and design based on the viewing device.


The Results


Just a month after releasing our newly redesigned website to the public and to our members, we have seen astounding increases in our member participation and consumer requests.” – Ashley Feaster, Executive Officer for Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association


Aside from the increase in usage, the HHAHBA has big plans for their new online business tool over the next few months – especially since they have just expanded their territory to include all of the Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton counties.


Using the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) that is implemented into every HDM custom website, they can easily store all of their customer information within a single database. This means they will easily be able to maintain communication with everybody – with the click of a few buttons, all of the relevant parties will be receiving a weekly newsletter. What used to take hours to do, an individual can now accomplish in mere minutes.


Furthermore, the collective can now take greater advantage of exciting events and new memberships, thanks to the E-Commerce functionality of their custom website. Already, this has made it easier for participants to get involved, and make use of the necessary resources. HHAHBA has already seen a positive impact on their bottom line because of this feature.


Finally, it will be easy for this group to stay organized with their efforts over the coming years, now that all of their systems have been condensed into one, comprehensive interface, available from anywhere. Should they run into any snags along the way, they will be receiving consistent updates, assistance, and reliable support from the Hazel Digital Media team.



HHAHBA

Take a look at their website, or check out our Portfolio to catch a glimpse of some of our other works. Or, feel free to Call or ContactUs anytime with any questions or talking points you may have.


What Does Your Website Say About Your Business?

Oh, the times, they are a-changin'. As a boy, I recall that when my father wanted to drum up some business, all he had to do was put his picture in the yellow pages. But now the year is 2014, and if you haven't got a website, you could be missing out on more than a few potential clients.


Furthermore, the Internet, and specifically the practice of using websites as a business tool, has been around for quite a little while, meaning the standard of excellence has become rather high. That is, having a mediocre website could ultimately be more detrimental than having nothing at all.


You might be surprised to learn just how complex and advanced the technology behind website creation has become. As a consequence, the gap between quality and sub-quality has widened greatly. Today, we'd like to tell you just what makes a good website, and more importantly, why it matters so much.


Credibility

These days, not having a website is like not having a sign above your front door. You can't expect people to find your business driving down the street if there's nothing there to notify them. At this point in the game, a website is an absolute necessity. So just how much effort should you put into your website?


A recent trend that's gaining popularity are DIY website kits online. These grant you a URL and some pretty colors to paste your text against. The problem is that they're generic, often unnavigable, and lack demographic and analytic resources. These types of websites work just fine for my aunt selling jewelry out of her living room, but for an ambitious business, quality counts, and people can tell. Don't underestimate your potential customers.


The average Internet user visits about 6 – 10 new sites per day. With such abundance, this has resulted in an overall low tolerance for cookie-cutter websites. If 9 of those businesses have used a DIY kit, and you've got a one-of-a-kind, customized website, you're really going to stand out.


This abundance also means smaller attention spans. When driving potential clients to your website, you have a very small window to make a great first impression. The attention span for your average Internet user is about ten seconds, meaning if you aren't able to capture their eye or differentiate yourself in that time, it's bye-bye business. And remember, there's more to it than just clicks to your site – you ultimately want people to familiarize themselves, and explore every page.


There are certain tactics that work, and certain ones that don't, when it comes to getting people to your site, and having them stay once they arrive. A beautiful, customized website ultimately lends you credibility by letting people know you're there, setting yourself apart, and grabbing attention when you most need to, in a world where it's most difficult to.


Demographic Data

By utilizing all of the resources available to you, you can operate your business smarter. Having a quality website, complete with all of the current tools, can help you determine who's reaching out to you, as well as where – what part of the country (or world) – they are; when people are buying your products, and oftentimes why they are getting such good use out of them. These resources can allow you to deeply familiarize yourself with your client base, predict purchase patterns, and ultimately identify and target new business.


Brand Identity

In creating a website, it's important to think about the big picture. A critical aspect of any business is the branding and marketing persona you wish to put forth, and your website should be an inseparable appendage of that. It's almost a guarantee that competitors in your industry also have a website. But simply choosing background colors and writing adequate content isn't going to cut it here in 2014.


A truly good-looking website can use subtlety to say a lot. Visitors to your site may not realize it on a conscious level, but they will feel that everything you do is unified and deliberate. With a website like this, you go from having people click to your site, scanning the first paragraph and ducking out, to people who are interested, who want to see what each page has to offer, and who will ultimately reach out to you.


In summation, a quality website helps you to run your business smarter, sets you apart from the competition, and overall, helps you grow your client base. When you build a custom website with HDM, you are given access to a wide range of user-friendly resources that will help you track data and stay in the know. We have years of experience building websites, and as so, have stayed on the cutting edge of the latest design technologies. Finally, we also specialize in brand marketing, and will work with you to make sure that your website says everything it ought to, up front and between the lines.


Please take a look at our portfolio to see some of our pieces. We take great pride in our work, and strive to make each website unique and beautiful. Or, for any questions you may have, please feel free to Call or Contact Us anytime.


How To Locate An Individual In Your CRM

Begin by logging into the backend of your website, accessed via yourdomainname.com/admin. Enter your username and password to get in.

Once inside, you'll land on your Dashboard. Refer to the long, vertical toolbar on the left. You should see a button that says CRM. Upon clicking this, a drop-down menu will appear. Here you can look at a list of all of the customers in your database by clicking Customers, and you can review the details of previous Orders and Cases by clicking their respective buttons. However, if you have a specific individual in mind, click the button that says Search.

On the page that follows, simply leave the Customers bubble checked, and begin typing. The CRM will automatically go through the list of contacts that you have added manually, as well as the names that have been added organically through E-Commerce orders, blog activity, and so on. When you find the name you're looking for, give it a click.

Here you'll be presented with quite a bit of information, from contact details, to order history, website activity, and even their reaction to Email Newsletter Campaigns. 

This information is nice to have when building a business relationship with your clients, and it is invaluable when observing patterns, measuring analytics, and planning for the future. By observing an individual customer's reaction to an email newsletter, you can quantify what works and what doesn't. 

We've got a lot of good tips coming your way in the near future right here on this blog on how to craft great Email Newsletter Campaigns. So stay tuned as we continue, and make sure you are utilizing your CRM along the way to create the best possible relationship with your customers, and ultimately get the most out of your HDM custom website.

For more information on the wide-reaching functions of your custom website's backend, please Call or Contact Us today.

When you build a custom website with Hazel Digital Media, you are given the opportunity to utilize a comprehensive customer database, referred to as customer relationship management, a critical facet of any growing business. Here in the digital age, it's easier than ever to track your customer's wants, needs, and habits, and thereby predict patterns in your business. 

The CRM provided to you through your HDM custom website even allows you to review the data of specific individuals. By locating a specific user in your backend, you can keep track of their online store orders, blog comments, contact forms, and email newsletter engagement, to name a few.


How to Update a PDF

First, log into your backend, as you normally would. As before, refer to the long, vertical toolbar on the left, and click Modules. From the drop-down that appears, click Media Downloads. Here you'll be presented with a list of all the media currently residing in your custom website's infrastructure. Click the one you want to replace, and you'll be taken to the familiar screen that shows you the file name and file type.

Next to the File Name, click the button that says Upload.


You'll be presented with a dialogue box that prompts you to choose a file from your hard drive. Choose the file you wish the replace the current file, and just like that, the old goes out, and the new comes in. The replacement tag in the backend of your custom website ought to be updated automatically for congruency. In the chance that it's not, simply repeat the steps above: go to the page in which the media is downloaded from, and insert the file into the backend of that page.

When dealing with the behind-the-scenes of custom websites, things can get tricky. However, there's almost always a simple solution. If you find yourself struggling with the mechanics of your HDM custom website, please feel free to Call or Contact Us for more information. We're always here to help you get the most of these fantastic resources.


How to Add a New PDF

Begin by logging into the backend of your website, accessed via yourdomainname.com/admin. Enter your username and password to get in.

Once inside, you'll land on your Dashboard. Refer to the long, vertical toolbar on the left. You should see a button that says Modules. Upon clicking this, a drop-down menu will appear. From here, you can modify and tinker with many different aspects of your HDM custom website, such as your blog, photo gallery, news updates, and so on. For now, click Media Downloads.

Here you'll be taken to a page that shows you a comprehensive list of all the downloadable media content currently in your website's infrastructure. Near the top of the page, click Add Media Download

Then next screen will give you have the option to name your file. This is the name that will be seen by the public on the frontend of your website. The next option is for File Type. You'll notice that you have a lot of options from what that type of file to choose. From mp3's to PowerPoint files, you have incredible flexibility – something to keep in mind for the future as your custom website continues to grow and develop. For the purpose of this post, select Adobe Acrobat as your file type, as this is the free software used to view PDF files.

Important Tip: After you name your file and select the file type, you'll have to save the information before you can actually upload the file.

Once saved, click Upload, and select the file from your hard drive. It's important that the name of the file you select does not have spaces in the title so you'll want to add dashes (-) between words if your file name has more than a one word title. Click Save one more time, and your file is officially in the backend of your website.

Now you're just a few clicks away from making that content downloadable from the frontend – the part of your custom website that your visitors see. Look again to the long, vertical toolbar on the left, and click Site Manager. From the drop-down that appears, click Pages, and then click on the page in which you want to make this content available.

In the content editor of the page you've selected, move the cursor to where you want the download link to be on the page. Once you have it right where you want it, refer to the toolbar just to the right of the content editor, and click the button that says Media Downloads.

In the window that appears next, click the box that says Please Select, and choose Individual Item. Then, simply find your file under Choose Item, and click Insert on the bottom right.

Here in the backend of your custom website, you will notice a placeholder tag. After saving the changes, the placeholder tag will be replaced with the media on the frontend of the website.

A Portable Document Format, or .pdf, is now one of the most commonly used documents throughout the Internet. This type of document has become preferred for a number of reasons. For one, it provides the user with an exact idea of what the document will look like when printed. Unlike other file formats, there are never any discrepancies between what you see on your screen and what you hold in your hands. Best of all, this image will remain consistent across all devices – you may rest assured that no matter the hardware, it will be seen the same every time.

When it comes to your HDM custom website, a PDF can serve several functions. When you need information from a client, you can have them fill out a questionnaire and send it back to you. Or, if you have basic information that you want your clients to be able to keep with them, you can have them download a file from your website. With your HDM custom website, uploading a PDF to your site's infrastructure couldn't be easier.


How To Add An Image To Your Email Marketing Campaign

Creating a good-looking, hard-working Email Marketing Campaign has never been easier. When you create a custom website through Hazel Digital Media, you'll find that creating a sleek and effective campaign can be done over the course of a few quick, guided steps.

There are many strategies and approaches you can take when crafting the perfect Email Marketing Campaign – it's a science; it's an art form, and we're dedicating a series here on our blog to unraveling the delicate discipline, so stay tuned as we chip away at the intricacies of it. In the meantime, we'd like to simply tell you now how you may add an image to your campaign. The body of your text must ultimately be strong and informative. But we all know a picture's worth a thousand words, so you may find that a well-placed image can do wonders. Here's how.

  • - Start by logging into the backend of your custom website.
  • - On the control panel on the left side of the screen, click Email Marketing.
  • - Then click Email Campaigns.


This will begin a 5-step process that will guide you through the course of customizing your campaign, from templates to recipients, and everything in between.

This post is about step #4: Content.

After you've input all the details, chosen your recipients, and outfitted your email in the perfect template, you'll get to the content page, where you'll begin to lay out the words and pictures of your message. On the WYSIWYG editor, you'll notice two rows of buttons at the top that make up the toolbar. On the top row, locate the Image Manager button.


In the dialogue box that pops up next, you'll be presented with an overview of your custom website's folders and files. By using the Image Manager, you'll be able to upload a picture from your computer into your custom website's infrastructure, so that if you want to re-use the image at a later time, you won't have to upload it again – it'll be there waiting for you.

The first thing to do is click on the folder that says newsletter-images. Then click the button that says Upload File(s) at the top of the Image Manager dialogue box.


  • - Choose folder to upload to: Leave at newsletter-images.
  • - Select file to upload to server: click Select, and a new box will appear. 
  • Here you will be prompted to choose the image file from your computer. You may click the Add button in the Image Manager dialogue box to upload multiple files at once. When all of your files have been selected, click Upload, and they will be copied to the backend of your custom website.
  • Important Tip: You should now be looking at the file(s) you have just uploaded. In order for your image to look good in your Email Campaign, it must take up the entire width of the screen. You'll need to resize it so that the width is 550 pixels.
  • To do this, click the image file in the Image Manager dialogue box. A preview should appear just to the right. Beneath that preview, click the button that says Resize.



  • - In the text box that says Width, enter 550.
  • - Don't change anything in the Height text box.
  • - Make sure Pixels are chosen as the Dimension Unit
  • - Also make sure that the next two boxes are check-marked (Constrain Proportions & Overwrite file with the same name). Then click Save, and your file should now automatically fit perfectly into your message.


Finally, click on your file, click Insert at the bottom of the dialogue box, and you're all set. Now you've got an image that's guaranteed to be the perfect size, at your disposal no matter what device you're using to access your custom website's backend.

After that, proceed with the content and layout of your message. When you're done, you'll be prompted to preview your work. After confirming that everything looks as sleek as it ought to, you're ready to fire it off into cyberspace.

For more information on crafting the perfect Email Marketing Campaign, please reference Part One and Part Two of our Email Marketing series, and stay tuned as we continue to explore the science of it. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to Call or Contact Us to ask a question or learn more about the endless functionality of your HDM custom website.



Email Configuration Guide for Android 4.0

For most custom websites HDM creates, you get your very own email that uses the url of your custom site (name@yourdomainname.com). This quick tutorial will promptly show you how to set up email on Android 4.0.

If you are using a different operating system, the instructions may vary.

For Android 4.0 Configuration

For those of you using Android 4.0, follow these simple instructions to get your email configured on your phone.

1. First off, open the Mail application from your list of programs. After that, tap the Settings option. Finally, tap New Account.


2. Tap Other.

3. From here, you'll be prompted to set up a new account. Enter the email address provided to you through your HDM custom website, as well as the associated password, and then click Manual Setup.


4. From this screen, tap Protocol to bring up a menu. Then choose IMAP.


5. After choosing IMAP for your protocol, fill out the remaining fields in the page to configure your Incoming Mail Settings.

Email Address: The email address provided to you through your HDM custom website.
Username: Same.
Password: Your account password.
IMAP server: mail.yourdomain.com
Security Type: This can remain at None.
Server Port: This can remain at 110.


6. Tap Next.

7. You'll need to configure your Outgoing Mail Settings, which will essentially be the same information.

Make sure that the Login Required box at the top of the page is checked.

Username: The email address provided to you through your HDM custom website.
Password: Your account password.
SMTP Server: mail.yourdomain.com
Security Type: This can remain at None.
Server Port: This must be changed to 1025.




8. Tap Next.

9. On the following page, you'll be asked to enter your Account Name and Your Name.

Account Name: This can remain the email address provided to you through your HDM custom website, or you may name it something else, i.e. business email, customer service, etc.
Your Name: The name displayed when sending an email.


10. Tap Finish Setup, and you're all done.

For more information about setting up an email through your HDM custom website, troubleshooting tips, and more, please Call or Contact Us today.


How To Change Your Admin Password

We'd like to take a quick moment to tell you how to change the password that logs you into the backend of your website. This password is a commodity, and should be treated like one, as it grants you access to all of the content, analytics, and critical information of your business's online presence. There are a number of reasons why one might wish to change their password, but ultimately, if you feel like the security of your site could be compromised at any time, it's a good idea to go ahead and change it. Luckily, every custom website that Hazel Digital Media creates uses the same, state-of-the-art technology, so making quick fixes like this is no sweat.

How To Change Your Password

If you know your current password, and want to change it, it's incredibly easy. Allow us to help you navigate. You can do this from any area of the backend. Simply look up at the top of the page.

You'll see the omnipresent header, with lots of vital tools on it. Over to the right, you should see your administrative name. If you hover over that, a drop-down will appear. Click My Details.

If you scroll down to the very bottom of the following page, you'll first be prompted to enter your existing password for verification, after which you can update with a new password.


The new password will become active the next time you go to log on, meaning your current administrative session will not be interrupted as a result of changing it. Pretty simple, eh?


How To Retrieve A Lost Password

With so many resources being utilized online, it's easy to forget which password went with which login, or to forget just what that combination of letters and numbers was. Retrieving passwords from the reaches of your memory may be no easy task, but retrieving it from Internet archives only takes a second.

Go to yourdomain.com/admin, and you'll be taken to your login page. Below the lines where you'd enter your username and password, there's a button that says Lost Your Password?


After clicking this, you will be asked to provide the email address associated with your admin account. You will then receive a message in your inbox, which will provide further instructions from there. You will be presented with your current password, or given the option to create a new one altogether.

Your password is the key that lets you into all the behind-the-scenes machinery and information that keeps your website running at maximum potential. We recommend writing it down somewhere safe, and choosing something attached to your memory that no one else will be able to guess.

In the event that you cannot remember which email address is associated with your admin account, we keep everything on file, so give us a quick call, and we can help you out.

To learn more about this technology, and everything that our backend software is capable of, please Call or Contact Us today.


Email Marketing, Pt. 2: Subject Line Research

Welcome to Round 2! If you, like many, find yourself dipping your toes into the vast ocean of email marketing, but aren't quite sure how to begin, then never fear – you've come to the right place. In our last segment on Email Marketing , we gave some do's, some dont's, and some good practices when it comes to crafting the perfect Subject Line. Today, we'd like to expand on that by observing and comparing some of the best and worst out there. You may be surprised at what you see.

Surprisingly, intuitive ideas have shown to backfire, while a few quirky and outside-the-box ideas saw fantastic results. Examining leading research has led to some wonderful insights, which we'd like to share with you today. All of this information serves to build on and back up the ideas of Pt. 1, so if you're unfamiliar with our tips and tricks, we recommend giving it a quick going-over.

In the studies conducted, emails with some of the best and worst open rates were extracted from a data pool of 40 million emails. The top performers had an average 74% open rate, while their counterparts suffered an average 8% open rate. Ooph. That's quite a difference. Let's take a look.

In our last post, we mentioned that it might ultimately behoove you to try and set yourself apart visually as a way to stand out from the flood of emails pouring into any given inbox. A couple techniques suggested were using brackets and unique capitalization. Appropriately, research shows a recurring trend among the top performers: inserting [COMPANYNAME] in your Subject Line could boost your open rates. 

Furthermore, the data shows certain trends among the low performers. Most of the Subject Lines in that camp ultimately read like an advertisement. Asking questions, flexing figures, and using “in-your-face” language all got these emails deleted. Of course you want to grab the attention of the reader, but sometimes less is more, and subtlety can speak volumes. With users on the constant defensive against junk mail, anything that is even remotely spammy is going straight to the trash bin.

[COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter reads a lot better than, say: Shop Early & Save 10%!

Upcoming Events at [COMPANYNAME] got much better results than: Need More Advertising Value From Your Marketing Partner?

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind when crafting your Subject Line is that it must be congruent with your target's expectations. If you're emailing someone who's expecting a newsletter from you, hot discounts and promotions will hold little weight in the Subject Line, and you may want to opt for more of a “soft-sell” approach instead. On the other hand, users often sign up to receive alerts on new deals, so for those people on your email list, it may not hurt to talk discounts.

The Subject Line can be tricky, but the bottom line is that it ultimately needs to inform the reader of what is inside the email – what they'll be expecting, and why they should click through in the first place. If what you're typing sounds like advertisement headlines, you can bet you'll find yourself on the wrong side of the spectrum.

Over the years, we've aided numerous businesses across the nation to help create the perfect Internet Marketing Campaigns. To learn more about our process, or how we can help you get started on yours, we encourage you to Call or Contact Us today. In the meantime, stay tuned for more tips and tricks!


Discontinuing Version 2 of our Admin Interface

We are slowly moving towards a complete decommissioning of our V2 admin interfaces. With a project that started back in 2011, version 3 of our administration interface is now prepared to take over from the old version. 

As part of this transition there are two further steps that will be taking place within the next month:

  • Starting with January 15th all users will be automatically transitioned to Version 3 of the admin interface with an option to switch back to V2 if needed
  • Starting with February 5th the option to switch back to V2 will no longer exist, and V3 will remain the only admin interface available.

If you have any questions please let us know and our team will do their best to help manage and support this transition in its last phase. 

The Hazel Digital Media Team

How to Check Order Details

When you build a custom website with Hazel Digital Media, you don't just get yourself a pretty website. What visitors see is only the tip of the iceberg. You are also getting your hands on today's most sophisticated admin console, meaning the backend of your website – what you see – is lush with all of the tools you'll need to stay organized, measure analytics, and ultimately grow your client base.

One appendage of your custom website's backend is the Order Details Page. This is an especially useful tool for those E-Commerce websites which have storefronts set up. A great deal of shopping is done online these days, and with orders flooding through, the admin console helps you to stay organized and efficient. It will keep your customers happy, it will prevent mistakes, and best of all, it's incredibly easy to access and manage.

Getting to the Order Details Page only takes a moment. First, log into your admin console, almost always accessed via yourdomainname.com/admin. Enter your username and password, and just like that, you're looking at the entire overview of your site, as well as the complete set of tools you'll be using to get the most out it.

There's a side panel on the left, with one tab that says CRM. Click on this, and a drop-down menu will appear. From here, just hit Orders, and you're there.


The screen that appears next holds all the information relevant to observing and organizing items purchased through the frontend of the custom website. As you'll see, you can keep a list of specific items purchased, recurring customers, where they live, how much they owe you, and whether that payment has been collected or not. Best of all, this information enters the Order Details Page automatically – as soon as the order is placed, it goes straight into your backend for you to look over.

This information is also automatically archived. This allows you, over greater periods of time, to measure the data and discover what part of the country is buying the bulk of your products. You can find out which months of the year tend to sell more, and you can also keep track of frequently-recurring clients. By being aware of this information, you can use it to your advantage when considering email marketing, newsletters, and more.

Take a quick second now to familiarize yourself with the backend of your custom website, and you'll be happy you did later on. The process is easy and effective – just follow the steps laid out above. For more information about your customer website, or if you are interested in having one built, please Call or Contact Us today – we'd love to hear from you.


Importance of Logo Design

Today, there are more businesses trying to sell their services and push their products than ever before. In such a grand sea of competition, it may difficult to think how one may set themselves apart and grab the attention of the consumers who could truly benefit. One surprisingly effective answer to this dilemma is the creation and distribution of a well-designed logo.

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we've had the pleasure of creating numerous logos for a wide range of businesses. We'd like to tell you a little bit about what the purpose of a logo is, how effective ones are created, and ultimately why you ought to have one.

What is the purpose of a logo?


Brand Identity: At the end of the day, the ultimate purpose of a logo is to identify -- to set you apart from competition. Your logo should be representative of your overall brand identity, so that when viewing your logo, what they are actually picturing in their mind are all of the values and benefits your business provides.

Product/Service Recall: Something as simple as a swoosh immediately makes us think of sports apparel, just as something as simple as a giant, golden "M" makes us think of hamburgers. When someone sees your logo, regardless of how simple or complex, it should imediately bring to mind the special aspects of your business operation that make you superior to your competition.

How does one create a good logo?


Logo design has become an art form in its own right. The simplicity of most of the effective logos we observe in our day-to-day lives can lead one to the conclusion that they are simple to create. However, much more effort goes into your average logo than you might initially guess. Here are some things to consider.

Concept: Meaning should be a large contributing factor when coming up with design ideas. What does your logo say about your company, and how does it ultimately draw the mind from the image back to your business?

Versatility: Your logo should be constructed so that it looks good at any size, whether on a business card or a billboard, and it should look good not just in color, but in black and white as well. There is a good chance your logo will appear in black and white often, so if you find yourself relying on color for effectiveness, you may want to go back to the drawing board.

Simplicity: Generally speaking, the simpler, the better. You want a simple image to create immediate recall of your brand identity, and the busier your logo, essentially the harder it will be for consumers to committ the image to their memory.

Why you need a good logo.


Altough a logo does not itself give a description of your products or an overview of your services, it acts as a signature for those things. It is a beacon, meant to stand out, and be easily recognizable in daily life amidst the myriad of other advertisements; it is a signpost in the memory of your potential customers, directing them to you when they find themselves in need. It doesn't matter how incredibly superior your products may be if no one's buying them. If you want to set yourself apart, and ultimately make a lasting impression, a well-designed logo is critical.

Unfortunately, the practice is not as simple as it may seem. In fact, it takes a lot of careful creativity, design experience, and an artistic eye. We encourage you to begin conjuring concepts to what your logo could look like -- you may find yourself having a lot of fun coming up with ideas.

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we have years of experience creativing effective logo designs for companies across the country of widely-varying industries. It's something we love to do, and have therfore committed ourselves to understanding the science and art of. We would love to work with you in coming up with ideas, creating a memorable logo / brand identity, and ultimately helping you to distribute it. Call or Contact Us today to learn more about our Logo Design process.


How to Redirect/Forward Email

To forward your email address to another email address you need to log in to your webmail console at http://mail.yourdomain.com and then go to Settings > Mail in the left side menu, type in the email address you want to forward to, inside Forwarding field and Save.
 
See the following screenshot:


Email Marketing, Pt. 1: The Subject Line

Welcome to the digital age! Never has there been a better time to get your message to the masses, or to place your product in the hands of target markets. Only one problem: greater amounts of information = greatly lowered attention spans. Don't worry, you've come to the right place, and this post is going to teach you how to pack a punch with your messages, and perfect the art of Email Marketing.

First thing's first: how do you get your message read? How do you make it stand apart from the hundreds of others that are inevitably pouring into inboxes? The almighty Subject Line is the one chance you get for a first impression, so choose your words carefully, and say it with style. Here are some tried and true practices for picking the perfect words.


Do
-Go Local!
People are more prone to respond to what's going on in the city they live in, so if you're in the same place, make a note of it.

-Ask Questions
Questions are proven to perform better, so try building intrigue by piquing the interests and hobbies of your target.

-Use As Few Words As Possible
Easy does it. Your subject line will stand out with a few well-placed words, rather than a full-on explanation -- save the meat for the actual message (remember that whole attention span thing from earlier?) For rule of thumb's sake, try to keep it between 20 - 40 characters, with 50 as your max.


Don't
-Use Special Symbols.
Using hearts or emoticons is certainly tempting, but it's kitschy, and strongly associated with spammers. Stick to what you see on your keyboard.

-Insert "Re:" or "Fwd:"
Unfortunately, this can greatly invalidate your message. Make it seem like this email is completely unique, straight from you to them.

-Ask for help or assistance
Ask not what your client can do for you. You're the one who's supposed to be providing a service, right? It's not inherently terrible, but it comes off as scammy, so try to avoid it.

-Use Numbers
Although flexing figures can help to drive your point home, it's not ideal for first impressions, and you can wear your reader out this way. See if you can't use your words to capture attention instead.

-Use the Recipient's Name
Although you definitely want your message to have a personal touch to it, there is such a thing as overdoing it, and including first or last names can come off as disingenuous. Studies show that subject lines without names as opposed to with names get opened more frequently.


So now you know your do's and don'ts when it comes to crafting the perfect subject. But just to help put you over the top, here's a few tips and techniques to make it really pop!

-Relevancy
This cannot be overstated. With such a small window to reach your potential client, make sure your subject is useful and to the point.

-Identification
Does your target truly know who's messaging them? It may be worth a few extra characters to mention some of the most recognizable aspects of your brand persona.

-Set Yourself Apart Visually
Think about how your mind reacts when you first crack open that inbox. Your eyes take in an initial overview. Therefore, by using brackets or unique capitalization, you can really make your message stand out from the rest.

-Make It Topical - Make It Urgent
By referencing a popular topic, you can immediately pique the readers' interest - this also goes back to the need for relevancy discussed in the first bullet point. Also, playing on the time sensitivity of the message can increase chances of opening.

-What Is The Ultimate End Goal?
Ask yourself: what are you really trying to accomplish with this message? Know your goal, and then figure out the proper call-to-action necessary from the reader to get there, and think about incorporating this into your subject line. Don't be afraid to ask or tell your target to do something (just make sure you explain in the message why it's truly worth their while).

-Try... Try Again.
Trial and error is the name of the game. If you don't find the results you're looking for, don't get disheartened. Just keep tweaking until you find what works.

Email Marketing, and especially crafting the almighty Subject Line, is both a science and an art form. It can take a lot of trial and error to know what works and what doesn't. We encourage you to have fun exploring this vast field of study, using this post as a guide. However, here at Hazel Digital Media, we have invested years of time and energy to this delicate study. Call or Contact Us today to learn more about it, or to let us start creating a strategy for your campaign.


Redundancy in Web Design

We often place redundant content and links on the websites we design, especially on the home page and in the sidebar and footer. We think this is smart, so long as it suits the goals of the site. Redundancy can also very easily be a bad thing. Here are some examples, both good and bad.

Home pages: we often place 'teaser' content from other sections of the site (about us, blog, etc.) on the home page. This acts as a lead-in for the various sections of your site, and offers visitors an overview of the content available on your site. These lead-ins are always accompanied by a button or link to their respective section of the website: 'read more about us', 'visit our blog', etc.

We also tend to place key information and links in multiple places throughout the site, especially in the header, footer, and sidebar. Important information like your company phone number or physical address should be easy to find, no matter what part of the site your user is on. Furthermore, the 'call to action' buttons on your website should be prominent and easy to find on every page. For example, if your goal is to generate inquiries, it's beneficial for your visitors to see 'contact us' in multiple places. It's important not to go overboard; you might irritate or annoy your visitors. The goal is always to improve the functionality of the site and make it as user-friendly as possible.

Another consideration is varying user behavior. We (almost) always have 'home' as the first link in the main navigation. We also make the logo a link to the home page. It isn't necessary to have two home page links side by side, but it doesn't hurt anything, and it accommodates a broader audience; some people are conditioned to click the logo, others will be looking at the main navigation.

These examples explain why we prefer to err on the side of 'good' redundancy. Bad redundancy equates to poor organization of your site's content. Or, it could simply be anything that is confusing or unclear. For instance, it doesn't make sense to place a 'contact us' button on your contact page. Similarly, if a user is browsing your online store, they don't need to see a 'shop now' button. However, you probably want several 'buy now' and 'view cart' buttons placed strategically on those pages.

All of this to say, when placing key information and links throughout your site, it is very important to consider the goals of the website, as well as how your visitors are going to interact with the site. With such a high saturation of websites and available information, it is more important than ever to make your website as clear and easy to use as possible.


Data Center Migration - Your Action Required!

We are migrating all sites and infrastructure to the Amazon Web Services platform. Important DNS changes are required on your behalf by June 20 at the latest in order for your sites to remain online, and we’re aiming for the actual migration to take play in late June.

Actions required to keep your site(s) online

Prior to the migration, actions are required on your behalf to keep your site functioning. These changes must be complete by June 20, 2013 in order for your sites to remain online. Read below for a summary of necessary actions:

Sites with DNS on a 3rd party registrar

A Record:
54.236.190.114 or
54.236.189.64

SPF (TXT) Record
• If the domain has no SPF record defined, you should add one (or a TXT record if SPF is unavailable) with the following value (do include the quotes unless they are added automatically): "v=spf1 mx include:worldsecuresystems.com ~all"
• If the domain already has an SPF or TXT record, you need to include the following value:"include:worldsecuresystems.com"

If you do not know what DNS is, and have no idea what we're talking about - we're here to help!


We either need access to your domain name(s), or we need for you to enter this info into the DNS.


This is absolutely essential. If this is not done, your website will be offline on the 20th.




How to Add a Blog Post

Start by logging into the backend of your site, by going to yourdomain.com/admin, and log in by entering your username (email) & password and you're in. Once inside the Content Management System, you'll see a long set of navigation buttons on the left side. 

Click Modules, and then click Blogs.



Click New Post and write the post. Remember to give your new post a Post Name.



After you're finished writing your new Post click Update.  Your New Post is now live and on the Blog Page of your site.

If you want to publish your post in the future, set the Release Date to the future date and click Update.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

To prevent Spam be sure to Uncheck the box next to Enable Comments.



Save an Image for Your Website Using Photoshop

Open the image in Photoshop.

Click on the Image menu and select 'Image Size'.

Make sure the image is sized appropriately for your needs. The resolution should be set at 72 DPI. These settings will be in the Image Size Dialogue Box when you click Image Size from the Image menu.

Then, from the File menu, select 'Save for Web'.

In the 'Save for Web' dialogue box, you will want to set the quality to 50% (in most cases). The File Type should be set to your desired setting (JPEG or PNG are the most common). The Compression Quality should be set to Medium (in most cases). The Optimized box should be checked.

Click 'Save'.



The image is now ready to be uploaded to the server via the File Manager and added to your page.



How To View Reports

One of the greatest parts about building your website with HDM is that you get access to one of the most informative and user-friendly Analytics & Reports tools available. Learn everything about how your site's doing out there in cyberspace. These days, it's critical for every business to stay in the know – keep reading, and we'll show you how.

1. Go to http://www.yourdomain.com/admin, and log in using the Username and Password we've provided.

 

2. Once inside the backend of your website, look at the navigation panel on the left-hand side of the screen, and click Reports.

3. A drop-down menu will then appear. Select Visitors from this menu.

4. From this page, you'll be able to look at a myriad of different facts & stats about your website. You'll start off on the Overview page, where you can see the number of visitors and page views over a period of time; you'll also see the geographic location of said visitors on a world map, and finally, the ratio of new visitors to returning visitors.

5. Click through the tabs at the top of the page to view different report types.

6. The Visits And Page Views tab provides you with a graphical representation of this data over a recent period of time. Scroll down further to see exact numbers.

7. Who's looking at your site, and where do they live? By looking at the world map under the Geographic Location tab, you can gain a better understanding of where your marketing efforts are landing.

8. The Unique Visitors tab provides a graph showing you the number of new vs. returning visitors to your site, while the Visitor Loyalty tab shows you just how often returning visitors return. Finally, the Browsers tab even lets you see the preferred browser type of your visitors.

9. This is just the tip of the iceberg. On the drop-down menu beneath Reports, you'll find an even greater collection of knowledge to be learned about your custom HDM website. From Traffic Sources to Administrative Reports, you'll find everything you need to know right here.

For more information on these reports, or for advice on how to increase the number of new visitors to your site, call or Contact Us today.


Benefits of Hiring a Professional Copywriter

I know what you're thinking.  I wrote papers every other day in college – how hard could it possibly be to write the content for my own website?  And really, why should it be so hard?  I know all the ins and outs of my own business – I know all about our mission and our market...  Piece of cake, right?

Well, not really. Most businesses find after only a few paragraphs, that even though the information is there in the mind, translating it effectively into engaging, yet concise copy can be quite a challenge.  Especially here in the digital age.  

Any prospective client most likely has a lot, a lot, of other sites they intend to check out.  Yours just happens to be one of them. If they don't see something they like within the first few seconds, they're clicking right back out, and all your beautiful graphics go unseen. Do you think you have the creative mojo to hook your readers within the first couple lines?

Let's try a quick exercise. Go to Google, and search for some of your competitors. Go to their home page, and see what they're bringing to bat with. Most likely, it's bland and uninteresting... Well, alright!  Here's a great chance to score some runs on the other team!

And one more thing – while you're on these other sites, take a look at the grammar and punctuation.  I'm sorry to say that commas and apostrophes are so horrendously misused these days, it hurts. This is something that is almost always overlooked, and though the average user probably won't notice, you don't want to lose the one that does.  If they happen to be grammar freaks like me, using their instead of they're is a real deal breaker.

So here's how it works: if you click this copywriting link, or the one below, you'll be taken to a digital .pdf questionnaire, where we'll get some basic information about you.  Where are you from, how long have you been in business, what's your favorite part about what you do, etc. This allows us to get the information directly from your mind, but then to translate it into snappy, engaging, witty (dare we say poetic?) copywriting.

The most important thing we want to work with you on, is the voice of your website. Unfortunately, snappy logos and fancy graphics are insufficient alone. They may act as the face for your site, but every good looking face needs the voice to match.  As you're reading this, you ought to be able to hear the energy, enthusiasm, and overall distinctive qualities that make it different from any other blog you'll read – just as no two people sound exactly alike.

 Most likely, those other sites you were checking out had a bit of a monotone quality to them. I don't know about you, but I sure never paid attention to the monotone professors, and I'm definitely not going to want to stick around a site with plain copy!

 So, what is your voice? Is it... Formal? Informal? Intimate? Serious? Playful? Perhaps it's many of these. Perhaps it's none of these. The options are virtually limitless. We want to work with you to make sure your site gets the copy it deserves. Your site is a supermodel, and we want to give it the heart throb tone it needs to become irresistible.

So what do you say? Care to copy with us?

If you have any questions, need more information, or you just want to talk, we'd love to meet you.  Fill out a quick Contact Form, or call us today.

How To Create And Send An Email Marketing Campaign

An Email Marketing Campaign is a great way to update loyal clients, reach out to new ones, and ultimately boost your SEO rating. An Email Newsletter can be sent to your entire customer database at some future date with just a few clicks – follow these simple steps below, and you'll be on your way in no time.

1. Go to http://www.yourdomain.com/admin, and log in using the Username and Password we've provided.

 

2. Once inside the backend of your website, look at the navigation panel on the left-hand side of the screen, and click E-Mail Marketing.

3. A drop-down menu will then appear. Select E-Mail Campaigns from this menu.

4. From this page, you may either edit existing E-Mail Campaigns, or create new ones. Let's start off by creating a new one -- simply click Add Email Campaign.

5. Next, you'll arrive at the Details page, where you're going to enter all of the final preliminary information for your campaign. You'll notice that you can choose between a One-Off Campaign or a Loyalty Campaign.

If you're just getting your feet wet with email marketing, we recommend testing out techniques with a few different One-Off Campaigns.

However, eventually you'll want to get to a point where you are delivering consistent, engaging content through Loyalty Campaigns. If you're new to the topic, we've written a few posts about the art of email marketing that we recommend perusing.  


You are also given the option to customize your newsletter's name, delivery date, and all the other critical details that need to be determined up front. If you're not sure about something, simply hover your cursor to the left of any field, and a dialogue box will appear providing you with information. Always be sure to select Newsletter Template from the Template Drop-Down Menu toward the bottom.


7. On the next page, select the recipients of this Email Newsletter by typing in the names of your mailing lists. You may type and select more than one.

8. Now it's time to create the content! Using either the HTML view, or the Design view, add, edit, and refine your Email Campaign here in the text box. You can either save your draft and come back to it later, send a test email to yourself, or, when you're completely satisfied, click Next to move on to the final step.

9. Finally, you will be presented with a preview of your Email Newsletter. If you'd like to go back and make changes, simply click Back. Otherwise, if you're satisfied with the look and feel of it, just hit Send Campaign, and it'll automatically be sent to the client database you selected.

Bada-bing, bada-boom. Now you've got yourself an Email Marketing Campaign that looks good and gets the job done. For assistance & advice on drafting the perfect Newsletter, call or Contact Us today.


Responsive Web Design

From laptops to smart phones to tablets, one thing's for sure: the website game is changing. The world wide web has gone from the desktop to the palm of the hand, and presenting your pages adequately means keeping up with the myriad of different devices that we now use to explore the Internet. Not long ago, this would have meant chaos for us, as we would have tried to maintain several different versions of the same site. Luckily for us (and for you), the cutting edge of technology has provided us a solution: Responsive Web Design.

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Glad you asked. Responsive Web Design is a collection of technologies and techniques that allows us to create a single site, viewable from any device. How is this possible? Using this design structure, the website actually adapts to the device, and changes depending on what you're using to look at it. Therefore, although the very same site will look different between a laptop and a smartphone, it remains one entity, with the same graphics and content.

Care for an example? Check out this blog post on your smart phone. Or better yet, just make this window smaller, and see how the page responds. You'll see that nothing is lost – everything remains intact. It's just a little... Adapted. Pretty cool, huh?

Why Should Anyone Care?

You might be surprised at just how many people in this day and age use smart phones and tablets as their primary tool for browsing the Internet. Furthermore, with such a wide variety of devices out there, it's imperative for anyone with a website to anticipate the diverse needs of the potential consumer market. We now have a beautiful resource in front of us: the ability to make universally viewable websites. To disregard this means to shut yourself off to many.

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Change isn't always easy, and it's important to be aware that: while our websites are adapting to all these different gadgets, our content must adapt as well. A smaller screen requires a more urgent attempt at capturing attention. By thinking with a “mobile-first” mindset, we're forced to prioritize content over flashy graphics. This idea is called Progressive Enhancement.

Altogether, it encourages efficiency – we get the message out there faster to accommodate for smaller screens and smaller attention spans. With Responsive Web Design, we are forced to think about what the user will see first. Content strategy has never been more important as we enter into yet another new era for web design.

Technology is evolving, and though it certainly means shaking things up and rattling a few cages, the time to build a website has never been more exciting. Responsive Web Design seems to be the future, and implementing it in means becoming more receptive to the subconscious needs of the target market. Contact Us today to learn more about Responsive Web Design, and how we can make it work for you.

How To Edit Webpages on Your HDM Site

Editing your web pages with HDM couldn't be easier. When you need to make quick changes to the content, touch up the text, or just make sure that everything looks and feels pristine, you're just a few clicks away. Just follow these easy steps below, and you'll be a webmaster in no time.

 

1. Go to http://www.yourdomain.com/admin, and log in using the Username and Password we've provided.

 2. Once inside the backend of your website, look at the navigation panel on the left-hand side of the screen, and click Site Manager.

3. A drop-down menu will then appear. Select Pages from this menu.

4. From here, simply click the page you want to edit from the Page Tree.

5. Edit your page, and then click Update to see the changes take place immediately on the front-end of the website.

Tip: We recommend clicking Save Draft often to keep from losing work.

Piece of cake, right? Call or Contact Us anytime with any questions or comments you may have. Until then, happy clicking!


Why Your Website and Blog Should be Integrated

It is common for many organizations to have a company blog. However, many companies have a blog that is completely separate from their corporate website. Meaning, a company will have a website on one domain name (yourcompany.com), then have their blog hosted on a completely different domain and site (companyblog.wordpress.com).

Having a blog is great. A blog is an excellent way to market yourself/your company online. Blogs can engage customers, captivate website visitors, provide a platform to brand your expertise among many other useful marketing strategies. 

The bad news is that having a blog that is not integrated into your corporate website essentially waters-down your efforts. Let's face it, Blogging takes time, effort and thought. Time is of the essence, if you're spending the time, you must use proper form to maximize your efforts.

Here are the top 3 reasons why we’d recommend integrating your blog into your corporate website:

#1 An Integrated Blog Creates a Better User Experience

Let's face it, gaining a website visitor is a big deal. There are countless websites and places for our prospects to visit on the web. If that prospect has chosen your site, it is the website owner's responsibility to ensure the visitor has the best possible experience. Keeping the visitor on your site encourages the visitor to explore your site and also helps potentially foster a precious website contact/inquiry.

Keeping visitors on your site is a big deal. This not only increases an important website metric – time on your site – but it also provides an opportunity for the visitor to get to know more about you in a single, integrated place without having to jump about from site to site. The user experience is smoother, less confusing and far more pleasurable.

#2 An Integrated Blog Helps Your SEO Efforts

You may already know that a site that is updated on a regular basis and has fresh, relevant content is more likely to generate better search engine rankings than a static site that is rarely updated or changes. 

This is another key reason why integrating your blog into your corporate website is such an excellent strategy for building a strong site. When people search on Google, if your blog is integrated, the blog content appears to be fresh, regularly updated information that Google will recognize.

#3 An Integrated Blog Keeps Your Online Business Streamlined

Managing a website and blog are time consuming tasks, even if they are both integrated. When the site and blog are two separate entities, the process is unnecessarily time-consuming. The chances of both the website and blog staying fresh, when they are not integrated are so much lesser due to the amount of additional effort. Many times, changes are made to one site, and not the other. 

We are big fans of platforms like WordPress and Blogger, but these platforms should be utilized properly so that business can maximize their efforts. If your business is experiencing this issue and you need help digging yourself out of this situation, we would like to work with you, contact us today by clicking on this link, or simply call 843.816.1203!


Why You Shouldn't Use Outlook, Hotmail, GMail or other email account/packages for Email Marketing Campaigns.

You risk getting your domain blacklisted
Sending attachments or graphics, or email content your customers and prospects did not request risks you being blacklisted. This is a serious issue for small businesses as your domain name normally matches your website and entire brand (if your domain name does not match your website and entire brand, you need to quit reading this and call us immediately).

Legal Reasons
Anti-spam laws state that you must offer a simple ability for the recipient to unsubscribe from your Email Newsletter. When business do not utilize a proper email marketing platform, the ability for the recipient to unsubscribe is non-existent.

Measurement
When you're not using a proper email marketing platform, there are no metrics to measure your efforts and response. This is a 'blast and hope' scenario with no analytics to backup your effort. Thus, you have no data to base any type of follow-up marketing activities.

Design Considerations
When you're not using a proper email marketing platform, it is next to impossible to obtain a professional-looking design. The poor design poses a challenge to maintaing the integrity of your brand. Also, when not using a proper email marketing platform, your graphics can get caught in spam filters, so your true message is never delivered.

Administrative Nightmare
When you're not using a proper email marketing platform, each time an email address bounces back, this bounce will land in your inbox. This causes you to have to manually clean your email list, which is not efficient, you and your team have better things to do during the course of the day.

Also, you must carefully monitor unsubscribe requests, good email marketing platform handles this for you through an automated system.

Conclusion
So, in the end, all of this adds up to serious issues. When making an attempt to do an email marketing campaign without a proper platform, you'll end up spending more time than necessary for a result that is unprofessional and ineffective. Its a no brainer to contact us so we can assist you with your online goals.


This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile

I had the good fortune of starting in the communications business under the tutelage of one of the last century's giants of advertising. This was Don Gwaltney, back when he was recently retired from the Chicago home office of Leo Burnett.

I met Don by happenstance at a golf tournament, the Heritage, on Hilton Head Island. That was about 15 years ago. I was shooting video with a Canon GL2 and Don had just bought one. He asked if I would tutor him on how to use it. After a few lessons, the tutoring flip-flopped. Don started teaching me how to make ads and before long we were doing all the national advertising and website development for Spring Island, a blue chip retirement community where Don lives.

Don's Burnett background includes co-authorship of the Marlboro Country campaign, considered the most successful ad campaign of the 20th century. He wrote the presentation rationale and all the copy for the first year of that campaign and then got bored and switched over to work on Parliament cigarettes. He created two campaigns for that brand: Night People and London Discovers Parliament. Later, he also authored three other cigarette campaigns, including the infamous U.S. campaign for the French cigarette, Gauloises.

Later, in 1989, after creating dozens of other campaigns, Don was solely responsible for the creation of the most popular campaign in the history of General Motors: This is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile. According to Google, that line has been plagiarized over 600 thousand times. Unfortunately, that campaign only lasted a couple of years because, according to Don, "The Olds challenged us to beat Chevy's Heartbeat of America, which we did. My song was song of the year in the world of advertising in 1990. But, unfortunately, the Olds division of GM didn't measure up. The Olds cars GM produced were, in fact, your father's Oldsmobiles. This was the beginning of the colossal GM decline which had to be rescued with federal funding." Don was named Chicago's Creative Man of the Year in 1988 and here is a copy of one of more than a few stories written about him:

This story appeared in SCREEN, a Chicago magazine, on Dec. 12, 1988. 

SCREEN’S BEST...AGENCY CREATIVE

Not Your Father’s Olds

by Dennis Rodkin

When Leo Burnett in September rolled out its spiffy fall Olds campaign, nobody was more impressed than the man in the driver’s seat, Burnett VP/group creative director Don Gwaltney, SCREEN’s Best Agency Creative. Gwaltney had watched as the simple, boppy lyric he put together for the Cutlass Supreme launch last spring grow into the cornerstone of the automaker’s biggest and most energetic campaign ever.
“We went from a campaign last year that was received less favorably than anything we’ve done in 12 years, to this campaign that broke the bank,” exults Gwaltney, treating an interviewer to his own basso very profundo rendition of the “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile” that has caught on like wildfire.

Quickly as he is to pass credit to the rest of the sizable Burnett team that crafter the campaign, Gwaltney is admittedly proud of the song, which he says “gets the generations together feeling good about each other in 30 seconds.” That’s just what the automaker ordered; Olds sales were flagging thanks to a reputation for building sturdy but undersized cars, and the entire product line needed a lift. But courting a new generation had to handled adroitly, so as not to alienate the solid customer base Olds has built.
If the song doesn’t collar consumers, the great stars will. The various spots feature the likes of Frankie Avalon, Roger Moore, the Judds, Abigail Rockwell (granddaughter of Norman), and even a pre-pregnancy Lisa Marie Presley. You simply can’t miss these commercials.

“This campaign is generating tremendous enthusiasm all around,” says Olds ad manager Gerry Card.

 “That slogan is the banner we’re marshaling our forces under.” Having worked with him in various arenas since Gwaltney started covering Olds for Burnett in 1978, Card says the new campaign is exactly what he’s been expecting from the “bigger than life” adman.


HTML5, YouTube and the Future of Flash Video

The current undisputed champion of web video is, hands-down, Adobe's Flash. However, YouTube is showing us that things may be changing in the near future. HTML5 only requires that your browser support HTML5 to view video. Pretty cool, video without plugins. I am a big fan of Flash Video, I’m all for a high-quality, and this new move could just be the swift kick in the pants that online video has been needing for a while now.

An Overview of Website Navigation

Web surfers are always going to be an impatient group. If a website is difficult to figure out due to the links are not obvious then they quickly will go away and never come back. Website navigation is always going to be one of the most essential elements in determining the effectiveness of a website. 

A web designer must always keep in mind that the fundamental idea of the website and the intended audience while designing navigational elements. Of all the website exist the most of the websites live to either provide information to the visitor about a products or services to actually sell them. With this being true, there are some basic guidelines to follow: 

You have to make sure that the navigational elements are going to be intelligently linked by using standard methods and elements of links such as buttons, menus, underlining the text or changing color on mouse and you also need to stay away the temptation to use clever or ambiguous names for links. 

If you have opted for entirely different or somewhat different links then expressly inform the audience that this is a link if you design a web page where you want to use a map showing several different regions and want to let the user click on the city name to pull up information about that city. Here you need to make sure that you have informed well in advance to the user to click on the city name to get more information about that city. 

You always need to remember and need to follow the basic rule of three clicks that most of the professional web professionals use. Survey and studies have shown that most of the users will not click more than three or maximum four links to get to the required information they want so every page on your website should be reachable within couple of clicks.

Copywriting for Your Website

Did you know that writing copy for a website is an art. Engaging the reader, effectively delivering your message while also generating search engine optimization points is where the art lies. Effective business messaging attracts and holds customers, builds brand awareness and explains products and services irresistibly. If you're providing mediocre content and messaging on your website, then get the troops ready for to mediocre results.

I recently learned that the attention span of the average human being is a short six-seconds. So, when someone is surfing the web - its probably a bit shorter. When engaging your website visitor and delivering your message, you need to have a strategy in place.

The tone of website copy is changing, I believe. There is a shift in effective copywriting to the second-person narrative. This is the same approach that Choose Your Own Adventure books, musical lyrics, role-playing games, Do-It-Yourself manuals have been using for years and the web is catching on.

Here is a link to an excellent article in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine that hits the nail on the head (Click Here). What do you think about it?


The Importance of YouTube In a Digital Marketing Strategy

Question:  We all know that Google is the number one search engine. So, who's number two?

Yahoo? MSN? Bing? - Nope.

Its YouTube.

Really?

Yep. You Tube.

In October 2009, 3.7 Billion search queries were conducted on YouTube. ComSource, a source for digital intelligence, translates this into a 31% increase over the past 12 months.

What does this mean for business owners?

The time to start thinking about posting your company video on YouTube is gone! It is time to start uploading any form (any good form) of promotional video content about your company to YouTube. You can even create your own YouTube channel for your company. When creating a YouTube channel or posting your video content to YouTube, an essential part of the process is YouTube Search Engine Optimization. Your video content should be tagged with the proper description, titles and tags to ensure that your content is found by your potential viewers.

Website Templates vs. Custom Designed Website

How much is your company worth to you? How much is a successful company's brand worth? These are two serious questions that should not be taken lightly.

Over the past decade the face of technology and marketing has drastically changed. Ten years ago, home computing was just starting to become mainstream. Surfing the web took place on a low tide dial-up connection. Mobile phones were used to pretty much just make phone calls - and you could play Snake on the green back-lit screen. But today, all of this has changed. Computers are found in 80 percent of homes in the United States. Now outfitted with cable and fiber optic connections so we can now surf the web at faster speeds. The annoying dial-up sound we once heard is now history. Today we have mobile devices that offer way more than the simple ability to make calls. We can read the latest up-to-the-minute news headlines, track weather by radar, send and receive email, post to our Facebook page and heaps of other goodies, too many to mention in this blog post, but it all takes place on an amazing color screen - touch screen in most cases.

Let's get back to our original question about successful companies. How much is a successful company's online brand worth? A brand is a piece of your company that sets you apart from your competition. No matter what your competition may be, a smart brand is a key ingredient in a successful company.

Why would a company want to brand their online business with a generic template website?

Website Templates

A website does cost some money. One way to save money when creating a website is to use a pre-designed template. A template is a site that has already been built and is waiting for you to add your personalized content. Kind of like a new house that you have had no say in what it looks like from a design standpoint. You just add the furniture (your content) into the pre-built house (website template).

Pros:  Its cheap.
Cons:  You pay for what you get. No custom branding.

Custom Designed Website

A custom designed website, on the other hand, is the most effective way to make a website your own. There is a lot of skill and talent that goes into the creation and development of a good custom website. The first step is to work with a web design company that can learn about you, your company, your services, your products and your customer. Through this process a vision is formed, then shortly develops into your online presence.

With a custom design, you have the opportunity to have a voice in the creation of your site. Don't like that color - let's change it to this. Can we center this rather than left justify. Can we increase the size of our logo here. You become a part of the creation process. This will allow for the personality of your business to shine through your website.

Pros:  Every aspect of the website is crafted for your company.
Cons:  It may cost a little more.

The primary focus of Hazel Interactive is to take your online business to the next level. We have no gimmicks. No slick sales tricks up our sleeves. We have a proven system to help you grow your business.


Is Your Business Website Still Breathing

These days, you can't afford not to have a website.  Most people, organizations and businesses have some sort of web presence out there. Alot of them are basically "online brochures" so to speak. Essentially they have information about a company that just sits on the web hoping people will find it and read it.  Most businesses get their website up with some information about their company and call it good.  Got a website?  Check.  Now forget about it for years. 

The reality is... that's not enough anymore!  You need more than just a static website that gives basic information to people.  You need a dynamic site that allows for interaction between you, your customers and potential leads.  You need a website that's alive with fresh and unique content that keeps them coming back for more.  Ask yourself these questions:  "Is my website still breathing? Was it EVER alive at all?"

Check out this small business article from Microsoft. We're not making this stuff up!  Times are changing and static websites are no longer an effective tool for your company's presence on the web.

If your website isn't breathing, it's time to do CPR. Here are some of the features our online business websites have that can help you attract and retain more customers and keep them connected to your website.

1. contact forms that capture leads and feedback into a database
2. a blog to communicate with your customers
3. online forum to establish a community around your product or services
4. member only areas with unique content
5. a CMS (content management system) so you can keep your content fresh
6. email newsletter subscription forms
7. much more just ask!

If you have a static website, or don't yet have a website and are wanting a living, breathing, online business solution for your company, you've come to the right place.  Request a quote and let us help you today!