Thursday, 26 February 2009

End of an Era – Lycos Europe to Close.


Lycos Europe will be permanently closing it’s portal and web-hosting business on 1st March

The closure of Lycos Europe's portal, which includes search, online communities, and content channels, comes as it faces increased competition from Yahoo and Google and a decline in user traffic.

An as yet unknown buyer has been found for Tripod.co.uk, it’s personal webhosting site, and it’s Lycos Chat Service is being taken over by www.worldsbiggestchat.com

LYCOS Mail, LOVE@LYCOS, LYCOS iQ, and LYCOS Hosting have been phased out as of the 15th Feb and will be permanently shut on 1st March.

If you’ve current got a website hosted with LYCOS and would like it transferred to our system asap, give us a call on 02380 633 644.






Monday, 23 February 2009

How to Write Good Marketing Emails

Emailing your customers regularly is a great way to keep them informed of your latest products and news. But how do you write a good email that gets noticed amongst all the other marketing emails they will receive daily.

First of all, don’t try and write as if you’re writing to lots of different people. Imagine you are writing to just one person. What sort of customer are you trying to reach with this email? Are they male or female? Do they work? Are they self employed or employed by a company? Imagining the ideal customer you want to respond to your email helps you to write in a style that appeals to them. Whilst you will be emailing a diverse range of people who won’t all match your imaginary ideal customer, having a target audience in mind brings style and focus to the email and stops the email being bland.

Don’t make the email too specific however. If your target audience is mainly female, try to avoid clich├ęs like handbags and lipstick in your copy as it could be alienating to people who receive the email who a) aren’t female or b) not that interested in handbags and lipstick!

Write in a style that comes naturally to you. The style should mimic the tone of all other ways you communicate with your customers. If you’re friendly and chatty on the phone, then your email needs to come across as friendly and chatty in tone and style too. Keeping your tone consistent helps reinforce your image with your customers.

Keep the email short and to the point. Most people skim marketing emails if they read them at all, so the most important information needs to be right at the start of the email. The email also needs to be clear, simple and jargon free to ensure your customers can understand it.

Finally include some sort of call to action in your email. It could be asking the customer to visit your site to find out more, or asking them to call you for a consultation or to take advantage of your offer. This way you get another chance to interact with the customer in the future.




Friday, 20 February 2009

Client Drinks at the Orange Rooms

Last night we held our first client event for our 10th Birthday celebrations. We held a drinks event at Room Service, the private members bar at the Orange Rooms. It was a great chance to catch up with some of our clients and get their feedback on what it's like to use the Toolkit

Alongside delicious cupcakes provided by Catherine of Sponge Cupcakes, www.spongecupcakes.co.uk, Marcus and Tristen spoke on the latest developments to the Toolkit and where it will be headed in the future.

We got some really interesting feedback about the Toolkit and we will discuss this with our development team. We take client feedback very seriously and always try and use it when updating the Toolkit.

If you're a Toolkit user and have some feedback on what it's like to use the Toolkit, please drop us a line or call us on 02380 633644



Monday, 16 February 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog?

It seems like everyone is blogging these days. A blog (web-log) is a webpage that easily allows you to publish articles or posts in date order, and allows the visitors to the blog to comment on the posts. People write blogs on everything from their daily lives, to their hobbies and their jobs. Especially web designers!

They’re a great way for people with expertise in a certain field to share their knowledge with others, and to keep the world informed of the latest news in their industry. If you have a business you have knowledge like this to share with the world.

Blogging can have a really positive influence on your search engine rankings. If link from your blog to your website, it can help drive traffic to your main web site. They can also be used to advertise when you have a new product and to keep you customers informed of your latest developments.

Having a blog also provides you with another forum to actually interact with your customers. They can leave you comments and feedback about your business. Having articles that explain the more detailed or complicated parts of your business that only an insider would know can help answer your customer’s questions. The blog helps build relationships with your customers. However, blogging isn’t for every business.

You have to have the time to update a blog regularly. You have to have something relevant and interesting to say about your industry. Also, it really depends on the people you are trying to reach. Blogging is a fairly new medium, and the people who read blogs tend to be younger more technologically savvy people. If your client base isn’t that interested in new technologies, a blog may not be for you. That being said, a blog could introduce your business to a whole new client base for the same reason.
So it comes down to you and your business. If you have the time and knowledge, why not share some of your industry insights with the world?




Thursday, 12 February 2009

Toolkit Top Tip - Google Local Gets You To The Top!



Marcus Green tells you how you can use Google Local to get great search engine results!

If you'd like to find out more about Google Local and how we can help you get your business listed. please view our handy guide.






Wednesday, 11 February 2009

We love Sponge Cupcakes!

One of the best bits about being a web design company for small businesses is all the varied and interesting company websites we create. This month we've loved working on the website for Sponge Cupcakes, a bespoke boutique cupcake company based here in Southampton.

Catherine, the owner, creates fabulous cakes that come in a range of delicious flavours and can even be customised for your event. Her website reflects the sugary retro appeal of cupcakes, and you can take a look at her site, services and prices here:

http://www.spongecupcakes.co.uk

We're going to be serving her cupcakes at our client drinks later this month. We can vouch for their tastiness as we just simply HAD to have some samples to choose the right flavour to offer our customers!




Monday, 9 February 2009

The Do's and Don'ts of Sending Email

Do make sure email is the best way of responding.

You’re never guaranteed an immediate reply with email, and email certainly is not as personal as a phone call. Sometimes it is better to speak to someone directly. It’s also quite hard to convey complex and/or visual material through words.

If you want to make an impact on someone, sometimes using good old fashioned post can be better, for example a hand written thank you note goes further than an email. It shows you took time to write it and post it. Wouldn’t that feel more special to you than 2 min email sent to say Thanks?

Don’t Waffle!

Ask your question or provide your answer right at the start of the email, right after the opening greeting. If you waffle on you’ll lose the recipient’s attention and make it harder for them to reply usefully.

Do actually ask the question!

Make sure you actually phrase questions as questions to ensure the recipient knows that you’re expecting an answer.

Don’t be ambiguous.

If you’re going to send an email to a group of people including instructions, make it clear which person needs to complete each task. Otherwise the recipients will assume everyone else was supposed to complete the task!

Do give timeframes.

If you need a response by the end of the day or Monday, say so! Because email is quite impersonal it can be easy to ignore. You can also note deadlines in the subject line.

Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about.

People don’t always check their email regularly. Provide a bit of context in your email so the recipient knows what it refers to. Context also makes it easier when reviewing past emails days or weeks later.

Do use good spelling and grammar!

Txt spk iz 4 txt msgs ONLY! It doesn’t make you look cool. Text speak makes your emails harder to read, and therefore more likely to be ignored. Use capital letters and paragraphing just like you would in any other document. This is particularly important when communicating with customers as sloppy spelling, grammar and punctuation makes you look unprofessional.

Don’t mix unrelated queries or subjects in one email.

Confusing emails with lots of unrelated points mean it’s quite likely some of them will get overlooked. One topic per message is the way forward.

Do provide summaries.

If you want to send a message and all its replies to someone to keep them informed, it’s only polite to provide a quick summary of the message thread and why they need to know. It can be quite hard for the other persons to figure out what’s going on from a thread of messages and it will save them a lot of time.

Don’t assume the sender is being rude.

Emails are impersonal and most people don’t realise how they might sound to their recipients. Misplaced attempts at humour and sarcasm, emails dashed off in a hurry and the fact that most people just aren’t great writer mean that some emails come across as just plain rude. It’s probably unintentional, and unless the sender actually says that they are angry with you in the message, respond with usual professional good grace.

Do be the better person.

If the other person is being rude to you in an email, don’t send a nasty one back. You’ll only get into a cycle of horrid emails, and it’s easy to do because you’re not face to face with the other person. Be the better person and give them a call to try and resolve the issue.

Don’t assume anything.

If any thing in an email doesn’t make sense, ask for clarification. If you need clarification fast, don’t just reply to the email, give them a call!





Friday, 6 February 2009

Toolkit Websites employ New Team Member during Recession!

Toolkit Websites are a bit of a rarity in the business world at the moment. In the middle of the recession, your website designers have added a new member to the growing team!

As our web design customer numbers grow, our commitment to providing the highest quality service has meant we have increased the level of support we offer you.

We’re pleased to welcome Lexi, the newest member of the website support team. Lexi has a great background in providing customer support from her time at Different Travel. She will be helping our clients get the most out of their websites by answering their queries. We've noticed she doesn't drink much tea yet, but we're sure that will soon change!

You can meet Lexi at our client drinks later this month.

Sorry chaps...she's taken! :0) But Lexi and all the team will be there to let you know about the future of the Toolkit and listen to your feedback on our service.



Monday, 2 February 2009

Business Website Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

1. Being Unprofessional Online
  • You need professional full time hosting so that your business website won’t go down. Time is money, and if your website is down you could lose business because customers think you’ve gone out of business. Free hosting for personal websites won’t cut it.
  • Get a domain name related to your business and use the domain for your website and email. It will be a lot easier for your customers to remember, and therefore they’re more likely to visit the website.
  • Out of date information on your company website is really unprofessional too. Make sure you can update your business website regularly with an easy to use Content Management System, or CMS. This way you’ll never be waiting for anyone else to make update to the website for you, you’ll be in control at all times.
  • The final unprofessional sin is fussy website design. Don’t be twee when you're building a website. Having music playing the background, silly little animated characters and pointless flashing things will only drive customers away. Beware all Flash websites, as these can’t be read by screen readers, aren’t good for accessibility, and can take a long time to load. Also images of text can’t be read by screen readers, and if one image fails to load, your customers will not be able to read part of your website.

2. Not Inspiring Confidence
  • Make sure there are pictures on your website that are of you, your business and your team. If you’re selling a product on your website, have accurate product images. Pictures make you seem credible, and make your website more personal in the impersonal online world.
  • Display your contact information prominently on your website. Make sure the customer has a range of ways to contact you on your website, and provide an online contact form.
  • Being obscure and confusing on your website is another big no- no. How many times have you read a company website and come away thinking “So what do they actually do?” Be clear and concise, and tell your customers exactly what services you provide.

3. Poor Customer Service
  • Reply to emails quickly. Don’t leave your customers waiting for a response. Even if it’s a quick email to acknowledge receipt of their email, and to say you’re working on the issue. It’s better than nothing!
  • Don’t forget you online leads. If someone has filled in your contact form, send them an email to say thanks for their enquiry and then follow them up! Let them know they’ve definitely reached you, and stay in regular contact.

4. Leaving Your Site Be Once It Goes Live.
  • Submit your website to search engines. It takes a long time for search engines to crawl the whole internet for new websites. If you submit your website, you have a better chance of being found. Only submit your website once though! Otherwise they may treat you as a scammer. Add your website to
  • Use web stats to help promote your website. Sign up to a service like Google Analytics and see which keywords are used to find your website. You can then include text on the website that uses these keywords. Keyword rich content helps boost your website rankings on search engines, and ensures only people who want your services visit your website.
  • Collect email information from your visitors to help generate more leads. Use and online contact form that asks for the customer’s email address, and invite them to sign up for newsletters, or to receive a free guide. You’ll be establishing a rapport, and you’ll generate a list of email addresses you can then use for future mailshots.