The Short Story

Our earlier blog posts are available on our Frisco Websites blog.
Lots of useful tips over there!

Bar the doors! Anti-Spam Feature Changing

If you thought that most of the "spam" you get on your website contact forms is coming from some bored pimply-faced adolescent with nothing better to do, well, that's not the case.

The spammers use a computer program to scour the Internet and find forms, ideally ones that that can be computer-completed with a set of answers to the likely questions.

A typical case: Unscrupulous "search engine consultants" (or whatever name they may be using) offer to get a lot of visits to a website for a price. If even a tiny percentage of a huge number of these result in "clicks", the "consultant" has delivered a surge in website visits.  (The fact that none of these "leads" are likely to be potential customers is not part of the sales pitch from the "consultant", of course.)

To deal with this, for years, websites have employed various tools on their contact forms to try and keep down the spam submissions. These tools are known generically as "CAPTCHA" tools, and are generally easy for humans to handle, but difficult for malicious spamming software.

Going awayOne of the most popular such tools came from Google, and it has been widely used.

But Google has announced that this version of their anti-spam tool is going away, and will not work after March 31, 2018. 

You should check the "contact me" or any other forms on your website for the now-obsolete version, which will look something like the image shown on the right (but can be in different colors).

Chances are, you have already seen the replacement for the that tool on websites you have visited:

The new version

In most cases it's even simpler for people, and is more effective than the one being discontinued.

If you have the obsolete version (shown at the top) on your website forms, contact your website developer right away, and get it updated.

Lock the doors! Nothing inside!

In the history of the Internet, encrypting what you send and receive on typical business websites was deemed necessary only when sending credit card information, to prevent leaking that information to someone who was, essentially, "tapping" your Internet line.

Google is changing that, though. They have announced that "Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a "NOT SECURE" warning when users enter text in a form" on an unencrypted page -- meaning that even just asking for name and phone number on your contact page will trigger that warning."

Firefox and the other browsers seem to be following suit.

They are warning the public that if someone is tapping their Internet line, that scoundrel can learn their name and phone number when they fill out your contact page.

Soon, and more significantly, they will show "not secure" on ALL web pages that are not being encrypted, even if you do not ask your visitors to submit anything. (Read Google's announcement here.)

It's your choice.

Many would say that a security "threat" such as this is negligible, but "perception is reality", so while some business owners might just ignore the warning and trust that their visitors will do so also, you might want to consider adding encryption to your site, so as not to deter any visitors due to Google's dire warning message.

Talk to your web team about enabling encryption on your website.


Tired of missing the target?

Missing the target with your online ads? Imagine you see an ad on TV, and call to place an order... and you then get a recording about the history of the company, how great the team is, that they are members of the association of blah blah blah blah blah blah

Are you doing the same thing with the most promising visitors to your website?

Someone looking for exactly what you offer sees a link to your site.

Maybe it is on Facebook, a professional association website, a Google ad, or the website of a related business.

They click on the link, go to the home page on your website... and get blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Result: They go away.

Instead, use Landing Pages

Set every external link to your website to point to a custom page that specifically addresses the topic of the link, and perhaps its source.

  • If the link is on the site talking about a product, the page should talk about that specific product, and why and how to buy.
  • If the link is about a consulting service you provide, have it go to a page about the specific service, how it will benefit the reader, and how to get started.
  • If it is a link from the Chamber of Commerce, let the page talk about how to get specials you provide for Chamber members.

You get the idea. When someone clicks on a link and goes to your website, their first reaction should be, "This is exactly what I was looking for!"

And it's really easy...

If you are using our Online Business Partner® service, just log in and find a page on your site that somewhat matches the interests of those prospects who would likely click to get more information, then select "Copy This Web Page".  On the copy, revise the content to focus precisely on the topic.

Use the link to this new page for your Google ad, Facebook post, or association directory. Repeat as necessary for other topics and link sources.

If you can't update your site easily, then a "standalone" landing page might be best. See for an example!

Writing Tips for Email Marketing

If you have their email addresses, email marketing can generate perhaps the highest return on investment (ROI) you can get. 1000% to 5000% returns are achieved by some clients!

Here are some tips for what to say and how to say it:

  1. Make it interesting, useful, and attention-getting. Your readers will unsubscribe if it seems pushy.
  2. Remember, "short is sweet". Compared to printed newsletters, write about half as much.
  3. People read email using their mobile devices.Expect that 60% or more of your readers will be looking at your newsletter on their mobile device. This pie chart shows the results of the most recent newsletter for one of our clients with 61.3% read on mobile.
  4. Bullet points and lists, not paragraphs.
  5. It's going to be viewed on a screen, not on paper. Your readers cannot read down one column, then easily jump back up to the top of the next column. Fancy formtting is your enemy... make it simple.
  6. Regular contact is important, if you want to take advantage of one of today's most economical and successful marketing tools.

Coming soon: How to reach out to your website visitors, when you don't have their email address.

Why email marketing?

Sometimes it is procrastination. (Like, this article was planned for weeks ago!)

Other times, the decision was made, but for a future date, and a timely reminder is all it takes.

Hirsch's newsletterMore often, whether it is a vacation destination, a home improvement project, or what to serve when some friends come for dinner this weekend, people turn to Google when they start thinking about it, possibly weeks or months in advance.

That's great for getting people to your website. But will they come back when it's time to buy, or will they go back to Google, and find another source for what they were seeking?

The best ROI, by far

If you offer your visitors a compelling reason to give you their email address when they visit your site, you can stay in touch with them, with a friendly and helpful newsletter.

One of our long-time clients, Hirsch's Meats, sends their customers a weekly newsletter, with a few weekly specials and a mouth-watering recipe that uses one of the featured products.

What happens? Those who hadn't thought about it are now exposed to a tasty option for a special meal. Anyone already planning such a meal are reminded to stop by the shop. Either way, the customers win, and so does the shop.

No one gets the newsletter unless they have expressed an interest. The business owner can easily track the redemptions of the "specials" at the shop, and also monitor how many of his customers open the newsletter.

Open rate for Hirsch's newsletterIt's effective and measurable.

The cost is just a penny or two per customer who actually opened the newsletter.

The ROI can be easily monitored.

Customers can unsubscribe with just a click.

Talk to us if you would like to incorporate this tool in your business.

Coming soon: Tips for writing an email newsletter.


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