NSDesign Web Design and Hosting
NSDesign Blog
interesting thoughts on web design, social media, hosting, seo and other stuff...

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

How to get people to notice your marketing emails

Friday, July 12th, 2013

LeadershipAccording to new research from the Direct Marketing Association, UK email marketing volumes reached an all-time high during the first half of last year with an average of three million monthly messages sent out by brands.

It’s great that companies are realising the potential of email as a medium – but with so many marketing emails arriving in your customers’ inboxes, how can you make sure they take notice of yours?

Clean your list

For your emails to be effective they’ve got to be going to the right people. The best list is the one you’ve built yourself from sign-ups at your website but sometimes it’s necessary to buy a list. That’s fine as long as it’s opt-in and the company supplying it has a procedure for keeping it up to date. After all, there’s no point sending your message to inaccurate or outdated email addresses.

Use ‘trigger words’ in your subject line

An Adestra study has identified subject line ‘trigger words’ that can boost open rates. Including ‘sale’, for instance, delivers +23.2% opens, compared with +3.4% for ‘save’.

Format for function

Hold your readers’ attention by formatting your email in an attractive and easy to digest way. Above all, make sure your call to action is crystal clear.

Optimise for mobile

It’s not just your website than needs to be mobile ready – an estimated 43% of emails are now opened on a mobile device! Make sure you’re using mobile friendly email templates.

Test, test and test again

Decent email software comes with A/B split testing functionality: use it! This is an unbeatable way to find out what works and fine-tune it.

Two thirds of top retailers failing to optimise emails for mobile

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

iStock_000020113924XSmallHitting the Mark: Email Intelligence Report 2013/14, a new report from dotMailer, has revealed that two thirds of the UK’s top online retailers are creating email campaigns that are not fully optimised for mobile. The research, which considered messages from 60 top retailers – 30 from the UK and 30 from the US – showed that the problem is even more significant in America, with three quarters failing to optimise.

The selected marketing emails were scored on a range of criteria, including sharability, design, rendering and ease of use. Other errors highlighted by the report included:

  • Subject lines and copy being too formulaic and repetitive
  • Brands not integrating email and social media at the most obvious times
  • Data capture being too complex – one brand’s sign up process had 17 obligatory clicks!

“Interestingly, the US and UK are markedly similar in what they get right and what could be done better,” Tink Taylor, managing director of dotMailer, explained. “The scores for mobile were a surprise, particularly as a third of all email is now read on a mobile device. Optimisation for mobiles is becoming less of a bonus and more of a requirement for today’s marketers.”

The key takeaways from this report are therefore for brands to focus on usability, simplicity, and of course, optimisation. Not optimising means could potentially mean alienating 30% of your audience, so focus on creating marketing emails that are engaging, useful, and suitable for any device.

Is mobile the future of retail?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

According to a new report by Shop.org, retailers are investing larger amounts of money into their mobile offerings. The average budget is now $207,000, a three-fold increase on last year’s $55,000, demonstrating the rising commitment that many retailers are making to their mobile sites.

However, whilst only 9% of retailers aren’t investing in any kind of mobile strategy, and the money put forward by those that are is increasing, retailers are still approaching unsure about their goals when it comes to mobile as an overall medium. 60% say their business objectives for mobile are unclear, and 36% say that obtaining adequate budget for mobile initiatives is a concern.

“It’s easy to forget that mobile retailing is still in its infancy, and unlike what we saw with ecommerce ten short years ago, mobile is almost entirely consumer-driven,” Vicki Cantrell, Shop.org’s executive director, explained. “As mobile grows, so too will retailers’ investments in technologies that make sense for their shopper, but to get to that level of commitment, retailers must first take smart calculated steps to maximize the mobile shopping experience.”

It seems that the ultimate goal should be to make the mobile user experience as effortless as possible – and this is a goal that involves much more than the site itself. Patricio Robles, tech reporter at Econsultancy, suggests that other in-store mobile components, “such as electronic receipts and point-of-sale technologies, are likely to be a big piece of the retail mobile puzzle too.”

Website investment most important factor for e-commerce

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

eConsultancy’s Marketing Budgets 2012 report has revealed that 59% of senior decision makers at some of the top global retail brands are planning to focus their marketing budgets on their websites – despite the rise in popularity of other online mediums, such as mobile web and social media.

The reasoning behind the decision is that the majority of purchases are still made on the website itself. Only 5% of companies featured in the report say that they have received transactions on their social sites, and 74% of participants said that they were using social media to increase their visibility, rather than drive sales, so it is understandable that only 22% are primarily investing in their social offerings.

However, the lack of mobile development is surprising, as it is a medium that can enable purchases, and has been going from strength to strength in recent months. Surprisingly, eConsultancy estimate that users spend 7% of their time on mobile devices, but businesses are still only investing 0.5% of their overall budgets into mobile advertising – highlighting a striking difference between company and consumer in terms of investment in the medium.

What is your take on eConsultancy’s findings? Where will you be attributing your marketing budget over the next twelve months?

Social media set to boom amongst SMEs in 2012

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

More businesses than ever are expected to engage with social media next year.

According to new research from the Royal Bank of Scotland Corporate & Institutional Banking, nearly nine out of ten businesses will invest more in social media during the coming 12 months.

In total, 87% of companies with a turnover of at least £25m said that they saw social media as a cost-effective communications tool. More than a third (38%) said that social media improved their commercial or reputational standing.

Senior executives who were questioned for the research also said that they were using tablets more than ever before. Nearly half of them (47%) said that they use tablets on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, 25% of organisations who had increased their social media spend in the last year said that it had resulted in a positive impact for their brand. Nearly 40% of organisations who are planning to increase their social media spend for next year say that they are doing so just to keep up with industry trends and competitor activity.

John Dixon, head of technology, media and telecoms from Royal Bank of Scotland CIB, said: “UK businesses clearly understand the importance of social media.

“It is an effective and cost-effective tool, and its increased popularity comes at a time of increased pressures on marketing. The challenge is for firms to maximise their investments beyond 2012.”

The best way to market through social media?

Friday, October 21st, 2011

On Wednesday I’ll be speaking to a group of marketing students at Napier University. They want to discuss how marketing is being done through social media.

In our training workshops we quote a misconception about social media. “A lot of people think it’s another channel for marketing. It isn’t”. And then we explain the importance of “a conversation” and a fundamental shift in the way you interact with customers and get your message across.

It strikes me that as soon as you think of social media as a form of marketing, you’re doing it wrong. Social media at its best is an attitude, an ethos, a way of life right through the core of the company – like the writing through a stick of rock, where you’re engaging with your customers on instinct.

Of course, you have aims and objectives. But good social media keeps these hidden. The consumer should never be able to see your intentions, your marketing fingerprints shouldn’t be visible.

Apple is a great example. They opened a new store at Braehead recently. Most companies would have promoted this heavily and discounted on price. They didn’t. I received an e-mail from Apple telling me the store was opening. The mainstream media covered this. On the day Apple employees at the store held a ceilidh in full view of everyone before the doors opened.

What did they do on social media?


What did the crowds who turned up do on social media?

Everything. They wrote blogs, tweeted, shared pictures and video and discussed the whole experience.

It strikes me that most businesses’ marketing objectives for the opening of a new store would look like this…

i) Get the person to come to the store

ii) Get them to buy something

I reckon Apple’s objective would have been something like this…

i) Get the person to tell someone else about the store opening

Who’s doing the better job of marketing?

Even if the traditional company achieves big footfall and shifts products..at what cost has this been achieved? There’s the costs of the campaign leading up to launch, then the cost of discounting.

The Apple approach doesn’t cost anything. It gets more people into the store and more people paying full price for the products.

The ceilidh and chanting the Apple employees took part in before the opening of their Braehead store wasn’t the intense “team bonding” session I originally through it was. Instead, it’s extremely subtle marketing. It’s not about what they’re doing..it’s carefully designed to make me, as a consumer do something for them. In this case, the blog I wrote and the video I shot of all the staff coming out to meet the customers.

It’s me telling other people about the store opening via social media and I was convinced I was doing this because I wanted to.

Now I realise Apple made me want to.

And I’ve got another piece of insight because of my role as Gadget Guru on STV’s “The Hour”. We’d contacted Apple’s PR team several times over the years asking for product demos we could use on the show – iPods, iPhones, iPads etc. They never played ball. I thought maybe our show wasn’t big enough for them but it turns out they hardly ever let anyone preview their products. I thought they’d forgotten all about us but just before the Apple store opened at Braehead I received an e-mail from their PR team.

Would the STV cameras like to attend the opening of the new store “and speak to the crowds who’ve turned out about why they’ve queued through the night and how excited they are”?

Doesn’t that speak volumes about this company’s approach?! Anyone else would have promised behind the scenes access, an interview with the management, maybe even an exclusive free gift. Not Apple. All they’ll do is let the media speak to some of their biggest fans! And although STV stayed away on the day, several other outlets did turn up and that’s exactly the coverage they got.


No other business is like Apple. But we can learn from them. And this demonstrates that if a business has got things right at its core, then they’ll have success on social media without typing a single word.


Decipher the Codes – QR Codes That Is

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

In the 90s, a Toyota subsidiary in Japan, created two dimensional barcodes called QR codes (Quick Response). What may have started out  as a car parts tracking mechanism, is now being used in a much broader context by a variety of cities, individuals, and businesses alike.

QR ScanWe’re starting to see them in books (see right), magazines, on buses, posters or even on the sides of buildings.

With a bit of software and a camera, your smartphone turns into a QR reader/scanner that can decipher the codes in the real world.

While this is rather fun, if a little geeky, what can it do for you? Well, for starters, you can promote your website, a product, gig or art exhibit in a unique and engaging way.

A few of us in NSDesign are reading the NOW REVOLUTIONShifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social (Jay Baer, Amber Nusland). Throughout the book there are many QR codes that take the reader online for more information. Think about the ramifications of that.

QR Codes @ Digital 2011As soon as someone prints a book, the  content can become “out of date”, but with QR links to a web address   – you can keep the content fresh and current. Mistakes can be fixed…

You can create a code which links to text (information), a website URL, to call a phone number, to send an SMS, to an event, to someone’s contact details, a PayPal “buy it now” link, a link to iTunes, a place on a map and a whole lot more!

NS2code QRNot just a techie online destination, you can put the codes on shirts, hats, mugs and so much more!

One QR code contains space for up to 4,000 alphanumeric characters!

For several years now, bands like The Pet Shop Boys have been using QR codes in their videos, on posters and online to promote exclusive material for fans.

The possibilities are endless on how you can creatively use the technology to enhance an experience.

You can create your own, for free, on a variety of sites such as QRStuff or Qurify, Create QR Code, to name a few.

In summary, here is a great piece from one of my favourite magazines – Fast Company – on 13 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes for Marketing. There is also an interesting BBC News piece on how Bordeaux is using QR codes to get it’s citizens online.

Roaring RAR Award Success

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Hey it’s Thea here, reporting to you from London! Last night, I had the privilege of making the journey down from Glasgow for the RAR Awards.

For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t know, RAR – aka the Recommended Agency Register –  was set up to help companies source, select and engage marketing suppliers. The newly-established RAR Awards honor excellence in service for all things digital and design. (This was only its second year running).

What makes these awards especially gratifying, to all nominees, no doubt, is that they’re voted for by the clients. I wasn’t at last year’s inaugural event but I can tell you, this year the competition was  stiff – more than 620 companies had been rated.

NSDesign was rather blessed with seven nominations!

At NSDesign, we’re a decidedly-optimistic bunch, by nature, and thus suspected, (or at least hoped), we might win one. What I don’t think any of us were prepared for was the fact we scooped three,…plus a runner up (#3 out of 10) for the top price “The Grand Prix” – a Top Ten UK company.

four NSDesign RARawardsThat essentially made four, framed award certificates to lug back to the hotel (pic: right) after the festivities, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve met folks from a number of other web design firms – many who scoff at the idea of these awards ceremonies, but perhaps they ought to re-consider their stance.

As guest speaker, Chief Executive of Talk Talk, Paul Lawton said to the crowd “keep entering them” – because not only are they good for the PR angle, and lend a note of credibility to the firm, but they also entice potential employees as well. Salient points.

As the newest member to the NS team, (and as such feeling like the least qualified to accept the honours), what struck me most was how NSDesign won against companies who were often several times its size.

Honestly, we were just so proud to be nominated for one category let alone seven, and along side such an esteemed group of fellow contenders.  I’m telling you, this room simply oozed talent.

Over all, it was a great night with plenty of food going, the wine flowing, and tweets tweeting to make it a lively and entertaining evening.

I think it’s fair to say that a good time was had by all.

Incidentally, the awards we ended up walking away with were:

  • Best in Client Service
  • Best in Digital
  • Best Value for Money

So finally, I think all of us at NSDesign would like  to thank our valued customers for these accolades, as we’d literally not been able to do it without you!

Thank you all! Here’s to 2012! :)

Is Bebo bouncing back?

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

A few years back, before Facebook and Twitter became synonyms for social media, the site everyone wanted to beat was Bebo. The brainchild of Michael and Xochi Birch, Bebo was one of the first mainstream social networking sites, ranked alongside Facebook and Myspace, and was purchased by AOL for £540 million at the peak of its popularity in 2008.

As Facebook grew, AOL sat on Bebo and it consequently stopped being a major social media force. They eventually sold the site for just £10 million earlier this year to Criterion Capital Partners, run by Adam Levin, who believe the time may be right for a comeback.

They’re working with Michael Birch, who is coming back on board both financially and actively, working in a hands-on role developing new Bebo products. In a press release to announce the move, Mr Birch stated ‘Things have moved on, and I have a lot of thoughts and ideas about how to make Bebo relevant again’.

As Birch has noted ‘Facebook doesn’t own the social networking space’ and his intention is to provide ‘a slightly more light-hearted and fun experience’, something which Bebo has started to work towards in previous weeks with new services, including video chat and gaming sections that allow you to play with virtual cash.

Bebo has a strong core following of teenagers and young people, which could be tapped to be highly marketable. Many SME’s struggle to reach this key demographic, even with the rise of social marketing, and it could provide an excellent platform for working with, and marketing to, younger potential customers.

Between them, Levin and Birch hope to re-establish Bebo as a serious, if niche, player on the social media scene. As Levin commented ‘”We are still early on in the social networking evolution … we are working hard with new products to make the site a destination for people.”
Whether it’ll manage to break Facebook’s monopoly remains to be seen.

Tweet analysis

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

An interesting Christmas experiment began last week as a survey of tweets and Facebook statuses began to find this year’s most popular Christmas wish. Social media experts have developed a piece of software known as the ‘wish list analyser’, which scans genuine messages to create a picture of what social media users are asking for this Christmas.

On the first day of use the service scanned over 40,000 messages, asking for everything from time with friends and family to a pet leopard. The software has built in spam detectors, so automatically removes blatant advertising and spam messages. Instead it searches for keywords which enable it to place messages into categories; and from there analyse them further to create a comprehensive social snapshot.

The analyser has been created purely for a bit of Christmas fun, and is not miles away from the technology Twitter uses to measure trends, but it does have interesting implications from a business perspective. One of the great things about social media is the level of informal interaction it allows with potential customers, this in turn helps you further understand their mindset and tailor your marketing accordingly.

Developing the idea behind the Christmas wish list analyser further, you end up with a potentially amazing tool for boosting your knowledge of customers’ wants and needs. The information is there, it just needs to be analysed in one place. Whether this will become a widespread tool, taking keyword analysis to a whole new level, remains to be seen, but if top of your Christmas wish list is customer insight, you may want to keep an eye on it!