Monthly Archives: July 2012

Email marketing – getting the timing right.

In the right hands, email marketing is an incredibly powerful tool. After all, what else gets your message straight to a targeted audience that has opted to receive it?

But how can you ensure that your email will be read – or even opened?

There are a few key ingredients – design and content being the most important. But one element that is overlooked is the timing of the email campaign.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say what day, time and how often is optimal, but there have been some studies that show when emails will get higher open rates, and what makes people unsubscribe.


Here’s a brief snapshot of the best times, according to MailChimp – one of the largest email platforms (its users send about 50 million emails a day):

  • During the week is generally better than weekends.
  • Most emails are sent Tuesdays and Thursday
  • Afternoons are better than mornings

There are variations depending on the industry – travel works best in the afternoon, when workers are dreaming of their next holiday, while business-related emails are best sent in the mornings, when the readers are fresh.

The best way to test what works for your business is to do some A/B testing. Split your list randomly in half and send the same email to each segment at different times – say Tuesday 10am and 3pm. Then analyse the open and click through rates. Do this for a few campaigns and see if you can spot a trend.


Again, there is no exact science that proves how often you should send you email campaigns but there are some handy rules of thumb. On the one hand, you don’t want to spam your valuable list and cause them to unsubscribe, but on the other, you want them to have your brand top-of mind.

Here are some things to consider:

Quarterly Emails

These work best if you don’t really have a lot to say but are not the best option. For starters, if the recipient can’t remember who you are there’s a good chance they will hit the “unsubscribe” button. And there is also a high probability that your email list won’t be current, resulting a lot of “bounced” emails.

Monthly Emails

These are great if your list subscribers have signed up for a newsletter. The goal is to set yourself up as a subject matter expert and let the reader know about what’s new with you and your industry. Monthly emails should include blog posts, upcoming events, news items and hints and tips.

If, however, your goal is to sell a product or service, you might need to send emails more often than once a month.

Bi-Monthly Emails

This strikes a nice balance between monthly and weekly frequency and is easy to manage. Most businesses should be able to come up with great content each fortnight, but if you can’t then don’t choose this option.

Weekly Emails

This is the perfect frequency if your goal is to sell a product or service. But make sure you send on the same day and at the same time so your subscribers will expect the contact.

Daily Emails

These can be great, but only if you have something to say! And it takes a lot of time and effort to churn out great content each and every day.  A great example is Daily Writing Tips – which does exactly what it says, that is sends an email every day (even weekends) with tips to make its subscribers into better writers.

Even if you don’t run daily emails as a matter of course, they can be great if you want to do week of an e-course or a “deal-a-day”.

As you can see, email frequency can depend on what your objectives are, and it is important to test them out. Why not ask you subscribers what they prefer?

For a perfect email marketing campaign every time, contact Direct Sites Online on 02 9557 7623 or

What makes a website “bad”

Thumbs down - bad website designOften, in order to figure out what is “good” we need to first look at what is “bad”, and website design is no different.

Many of us have our pet hates – mine is audio blaring without warning – so here at Direct Sites Online, we have asked around and compiled a list of those things that make people leave a website seconds after they arrive.

  1. Slow load time: a bane for many e-commerce sites. If your site moves at a snail’s pace as people are trying to find out more about your product, they will soon leave to find a faster site. Slow loading is often caused by a cheap hosting service or too many/too big images.
  2. Huge Flash intro: See above. These things take forever to load and people would probably rather see your products than some animation that belongs to the ‘90s – when Flash was cool.
  3. Never ending pop-ups: You know the kind. Those that break your browsers “back” button so you can’t seem to escape without closing down the internet. Do people really think this will sell a product? I can imagine the discussion now “I know, how about a huge pop-up button with the words BUY NOW in neon that people CAN”T escape from. That way, they are bound to purchase”. Um, no.
  4. Poor spelling and grammar: Yep, that’s right, it may be 2012 and text-speak might be all the rage, but if you want people to actually read your content, please take the time to use a spell checker.
  5. Music: People who are surfing the web at work love this one the most. All they want is a little warning before the music blares and the boss discovers they are not actually finalising the monthly account spread sheet.
  6. Broken links: Check links regularly to make sure visitors are not continually getting Error 404 messages. It’s just a professional thing to do.
  7. Horizontal scrolling: It drives people insane if they have to scroll back and forth to read lines of text. So don’t make them do it. Simple.
  8. Too many banner ads: It’s OK, we get it. You need to monetise your site. Honestly, we don’t mind. Unless, of course, there are so many banner ads that we can’t quite figure out if your site sells widgets or is a haven for online gamblers.
  9. Animations: If your website has too many moving things – words scrolling, banner ads flashing, balloons popping, arrows chasing each other around the frame – it makes it very hard to concentrate on the text. And if people can’t concentrate on the text, they can’t decide if they want to buy your product or service.
  10. No contact information: And we don’t mean just a Paypal link, or contact form. We mean real contact information – a phone number, email address or street address. Sometimes, we don’t want to trust technology and we would rather speak to or email a real person.

Direct Sites Online employs only the best web developers and designer to ensure our clients’ sites don’t fall into any of the “bad” traps. If you need a new website, or your current one needs refreshing, call us now on 02 9557 7623 or email

Search Engine Marketing vs Search Engine Optimisation

If you have a website for your business (and you should!), then you have probably heard the terms SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and wondered whether they are interchangeable.

The short answer is no (although some consultants see it that way). Put simply SEO is just one part of SEM, which tends to focus more on paid advertising and links.

So, an SEO strategy will include such things as backlinks, keyword-rich content and blog commenting, while SEM will include all of this, plus paid directory listings and internet advertising.

When you are looking to hire someone to improve your search engine ranking, understanding the difference between SEM and SEO will help you avoid getting hoodwinked by the modern equivalent of a snake-oil salesman.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing is about increasing your visibility and traffic from search engines. Technically, this includes SEO, but in reality is more about the paid side of search engines – such as Google Adwords – or the “sponsored results” that you see after typing in a search.

Getting a good paid search result is a very valuable thing – it can bring heaps of targeted traffic and results are available very quickly. But it can be complicated and takes some expertise, so it is wise to outsource to someone who knows what they are doing – otherwise you could be throwing good money after bad.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A good SEO strategy will involve doing certain things to help a website move higher in the search results for chosen keywords. It involves Google and other search engines “seeing” your website organically without paying for advertising.

It takes longer to see results with SEO than SEM, but once your site ranks well, the traffic will keep coming in without paying for advertising.

Again, it can be a complicated exercise and the success or otherwise depends on the consultant you engage, as well as how much competition your chosen keywords have.

Both will bring traffic to your site, but SEO has more long-term advantages – with SEM, the minute you stop paying for advertising, your visitor numbers will drop.

The best website marketing strategy probably incorporates both – SEM for immediate results and SEO to build on that success.

If you want to improve your search engine ranking, and see more targeted visitors to your website, contact Direct Sites Online today on 02 9557 7623 or

Improve SEO with internal linking

One vital part of search engine optimisation which is often overlooked is internal linking – that is linking from one part of your website to another.

An easy way to achieve this is through your blog. For example, see how we use internal linking in this sentence: “Direct Sites Online guarantees that its Search Engine Optimisation services will increase your search engine ranking.”

The first stage in an internal linking strategy is to think about the pages on your site that mean a lot to you – and are most likely to turn visitors into customers. Then make sure that every page on your site links to this page – that way Google will know that this page is important.

Here are three more simple steps you can take to improve your internal linking:

  1. Work out what you already have: Make a plan of your site – what your main navigation looks like and what links you already have. Then do a bit of a gap analysis. This is a great way to work out what is already working and where you need to lift your game.
  2. Work out where you want to drive your visitors: If you are regularly writing about something, then consider having a dedicated, and optimised, page about that topic – perhaps with a special offer  – then every time you blog on that topic, create an internal link. And create links from other pages as well – for example, home page, about page and product page. Before you know it, Google will see that dedicated page, which means potential customers will as well. And if your main home page has a special offer already, then put in some internal links to that page from your minor pages.
  3. Rinse and repeat: Now you’ve set up one great page, with a great offer, you should start to see some conversions. So how about trying step two for another page – perhaps with something that is not converting well – and see if you can lift sales? The best offers to optimise with this strategy are, naturally, those with the highest return on your investment.

If you want to improve your internal linking strategy and see your sales soar, give Direct Sites Online a call today on 02 9557 7623 or email

Facebook Promoted posts – are they worth it?

If you have a Facebook page for your business, and your page has more than 400 “likes”, you would have noticed an option to “promote” your posts.

But is it worth it? And what will it cost you?

To answer the second question first – it will cost whatever you want it to cost. That’s right, when you click “promote” you will get a pop up which asks how much you want to spend, and gives you an estimate of the number of people that will be reached at that price point. It does seem that different pages will see different pricing options, but they are mainly around $5-$50.

According to Facebook, promoted posts appear not only in the news feeds of your page’s “fans”, but also in the feeds of their friends.

So, let’s tackle the first question above by asking: “Do you get frustrated when you see that a vital link, offer or update is only seen by a fraction of your audience?” If the answer is “yes”, then it won’t hurt to give the promoted post option a try.

Facebook uses an algorithm called “Edgerank”, which means your posts (personal and business) are only seen by a small chunk of the total audience. Promoting a post bumps up that number.

Promoted posts are technically an advertisement, but the lines are somewhat blurred. The posts will show in newsfeeds, rather than will the other ads down the right hand side of a person’s Facebook page, but there will be a little “sponsored” on the update – just underneath the “like”, “comment” and “share” buttons.

Any post can be promoted, but to get the best bang for your buck, they should be used judiciously. For instance, photos and videos traditionally get a lot of feedback, so there’s probably no point promoting them. On the other hand, such things are events or offers are ripe for promotion, because it means more people will see them and hopefully, more people will take you up on the offer, or attend the event.

Promoted posts shouldn’t take the place of real engagement, but if you have something that you really want people to know about, it’s probably worth setting a small budget and analysing the results.

For a solid social media strategy aimed at driving conversions through Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, contact Direct Sites Online today on 02 9557 7623 or