Email Marketing

Permission: Getting It and Using It.  
  
The end does not justify the means. In permission marketing, truer words were never spoken. Don’t kid yourself – just because you collect an email address, doesn’t mean you have really gained permission to use it.
 
You may think the definition of permission is pretty straightforward, but there are many marketers out there claiming to be practicing true permission marketing who are really not, and there is plenty of controversy around what constitutes permission in the first place. Here are some tips on permission – the right way to get it and the right way to use it.

Be Respectful
Above all, no matter what, and I cannot stress this enough, in every single email communication, always provide a clear and easy way for individuals to “opt-out” or unsubscribe and make sure you follow through. Better still, give them an easy way to change or refine their areas of interest. Get more information gradually. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great relationships.
 
Be Straightforward
Placing a “Join Our Mailing List” tag on your homepage or other appropriate pages of your website is about as clear as you can get. The visitor knows, without question, that when they input their email address they are giving you permission, subscribing or “opting-in” to receive emails from you.
 
Be Precise
When people sign up, allow them to select precisely their areas of interest, be it newsletters, sale notifications or new product or service announcements. You can attract even more interest by specifying what the customer will receive and when they will receive it (e.g. “Sign up for Our Weekly Concert Announcement”). Be as specific as you can to get the most targeted audience you possibly can.
 
Be Clever
Remember that when visitors opt-in, they are telling you exactly what they want – to place an order, to get more in-depth information on a specific topic or to know when their favorite instructor is teaching a Yoga class – and giving you permission to communicate on that subject. This is excellent stuff! You know their email address, have permission to send them what they asked for, and you know something about them. There is no harm in suggesting an accessory on the order confirmation, announcing a “webinar” on your white paper topic or including a compelling description of your newsletter at the bottom of the Yoga schedule. Ask for their permission again. You will be surprised at the response.
 
Be Careful
Gratuitous emails are not met with gratitude. My advice is to think twice about how many, and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers. You already have the relationship after all. Who wants to chance losing it? So before you press the send button on that email of your most recent press release, ask yourself how many people on your list really care to see it.
 
Beware
When considering renting, much less buying a list, the rule is buyer beware. If the list is too inexpensive, if the provider won’t share the source of their email lists with you, if anyone claims you can “Blast your ad to over 1000 safe addresses for only $5.00!,” or “Buy a CD with 10,000,000 email addresses for only $99!” – this is too good to be true. Consider this, the offer probably arrived as SPAM in your very own inbox in the first place.
 
Ultimately, you need to ask yourself: “Do I want to be an honest-to-goodness permission-based email marketer?” To be, or not to be, that is the question.
 
Ekhwan Web Solutions – Brotherhood Beyond Boundries
Your Gateway to Establishing an Online Presence.
http://www.ekhwan.com/

Creating Accessible Websites.

An accessible website is one that allows people with visual, aural, or physical disabilities full access to the information and services available in the same way as able-bodied people.

Is It Worth The Effort?

In the United States around 53 million people have some form of disability with two-thirds of those having a severe disability. About 1 in 10 men are fully or partially colour blind.

You probably already spend much time and effort ensuring your website displays perfectly in a broad range of browsers, you probably spend time ensuring your colour scheme and images look great in a range of display resolutions and how many hours do you put in ensuringyour website is indexed by all the major search engines?

So with all this effort, why do so many web designers ignore the needs of those who may have difficulty using a mouse or may suffer from one of the many visual disorders? The answer is that building an accessible website is considered to be difficult, time-consuming and simply not worth the effort. This is not true, creating an accessible website is relatively easy and will allow a greater number of peopleaccess to your website.

Simple Ways To Improve Your Website Accessibility

These are some simple steps you can implement today to improve the accessibility of your website.

Colour And Contrast

Many people need extreme contrast between the text and background colour in order to be able to read your text. If your text is dark blue, avoid using a light blue background colour.

Using colour to convey information or request an action from the user should also be avoided, for example telling someone to ‘clïck the red button to continue’ is not much help to a person who cannot distinguish red colours. It seems obvious, but it’s overlooked on manythousands of websites.

Font Sizes

Font sizes should be relative rather than absolute. Absolute font sizes, those measured in points or pixels should be avoided as they prevent the visitor from resizing text. If someone cannot read your page they are simply going to leave.

Relative font sizes allow your visitors to display the text on your website in a size that suits them best. These font sizes can be specified as a percentage, for example the base font for a web pagemay be 100%, headers could be 120% and so on.

Images

All images on your website should be accompanied with additional text information describing what the image contains. You do this with the alt attribute of the img tag. For example…

<img src=”button1.gif” alt=”Clïck

to proceed to shopping cart”>



You should avoid the use of transparent images spacer images for formatting. You can achieve the same layout precision by using cascading style sheets (CSS). Do a quick search for ‘style sheets’ for a wealth of information and tutorials.

Using Tables For Layout

Almost all websites use tables to a layout a page. Tables are easy to understand and achieve the desired layout quickly and easily. However, you should avoid them as a layout tool as much as possible.

Tables can cause the size of your pages to increase dramatically slowing download times, they often require the use of transparent images to achieve the proper layout and they make it extremely difficult for screen readers to convey the information on a page correctly to their users. Screen readers are programs which read out the information on a webpage to someone who cannot see that information for themselves.

Rather than using tables to format your pages you should start using CSS-based layouts. CSS offers you greater precision when laying out your pages, decreases the amount of HTML required for formatting and makes it much easier for screen readers to interpret your pagescorrectly.

Access Keys

Access keys are basically keyboard shortcuts that are primarily designed to help those people who have difficulty using a mouse.

You can assign an access key to several HTML elements, however the first one you should consider is the anchor element. Here’s an example:

<a href=”home.html” accesskey=”h”>Homepage</a>

<a href=”about.html” accesskey=”a”>About

Us</a>

<a href=”search.html” accesskey=”s”>Search

Page</a>

Then when a Windows user visits your website they can access the home page by pressing ALT + h, the about page by pressing ALT + a and the search page by pressing ALT + s. This simple feature can dramatically improve the usability of your website for people withlimited mobility.

Provide A Text Only Version

A text-only version of your website can help users with visual disabilities. However, unless your content is stored in a database, creating a text only version doubles your workload and makes it more difficult to update your content.

This is where the Betsie parser is useful. Betsie, developed for the BBC website is a PERL script which produces a simplified text only version of a web page that allows text-to-speech converters and screen readers to correctly read out the contents of the page. Betsie also allows those with visual impairments to read computer screens easier.Find out more about Betsie.

In Summary

Of course, there are many more enhancements you can make to your website to ensure it is truly accessible, but implementing these simple steps will start you on your way in no time. An accessible website with good navigation, less html and a consistent, logical structure will not only benefit those with a visual, aural, or physical disabilility but will also help your content to be more easily indexed by search engines.

About The Author

Bethany Antonio is the web designer for UKSprite Search, a British based search engine which offers an alternative to pay-per-click.