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Seven Creative’s email marketing system

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    Did you know that we can design, write and send your email newsletters?

    Our email marketing system allows you to send branded and beautiful correspondence from as little as 1p per recipient.  Email marketing is a really cost-effective way of talking to customers and potential customers.

    And, because the cost is so low, it means you can not just email once, but many, many times over the course of the year, helping you to develop your customer relationships.

    You can include anything you like in your newsletter; lastest news from your business, special offers, or new products. Anything at all that you think your customers would find interesting or need to know!

    Your email newsletter can include links to your website too. This enables your customers and potential customers to access your products and services at the click of a mouse.

    We also have access to detailed reports enabling us to monitor how many people have opened the newsletter, where they are and whether or not they have clicked on the links. It’s a fantastic way of measuring the effects of your email marketing campaign!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We have recently sent out an email newsletter on behalf of Chesterfield based dog kennels Dunston Lodge. Not only is it branded, we’ve sent it to everyone on their mailing list. Richard Harrington, owner of Dunston Lodge said: “We’re really happy with the service. The newsletter looks fab, and people have even been clicking through to the online booking section of our website too.”

    “It’s generated business for us, and has let our customers know that we’re keeping in touch. We’ve also had people click through to our Facebook page, and it’s nice to know everyone is getting our latest news delivered straight to their inbox,” says Richard.

    For more information on Seven Creative’s email marketing system, visit our website at http://www.sevencreative.co.uk/, or call us on 0114 383 0711

     

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      News and offers for friends of Seven Creative (7th September 2010)

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        Sheffield Cathedral

        Sheffield Cathedral

        A party invitation, my prediction and a special offer…

        Sheffield Cathedral Launch party – Monday 20th September

        Here at Seven Creative Towers we’re busily beavering away like busy beavering bees to get the new Sheffield Cathedral suite of websites up and running in time for the launch event on Monday the 20th September

        As friends of Seven Creative it would be great to see you there and it could also be a useful networking event for you.

        It’s taking place between 5.30 and 7.30 pm at the Cathedral. We’ll no-doubt be heading out for a Pimms or two afterwards and you’d be welcome to join us.

        If you’d like tickets for the launch event, drop us an email letting us know how many you’d like or call Sheffield Cathedral directly on 0114 263 6950 (for more information, see http://launch.sheffieldcathedral.org/)

        The future of websites

        I predict that video will revolutionise the internet in the same way that it revolutionised pop music. There. I’ve said it.

        In fact, you can already see this happening – many websites prefer to include a video as a way of presenting their products and services as this caters to bigger cross section of visitors. This doesn’t, however, mean you have to exclude the other content – it’s an extra! Readers can still read, scanners can still scan but, with video, those visitors who respond better to a visual narrative have a more engaging way of finding out about you.

        To this end, Seven Creative will shortly be launching a new video production service providing professionally filmed, edited and produced video presentations for your website.

        Prices start from £400 – please email or call us for more information on 0114 383 0711

        Special offer

        If you missed our recent message, Chris Seaman – a long term personal friend – has kindly designed a photography package for friends of Seven Creative.

        A picture of you taken at a barbeque with a hotdog in one hand a beer in the other may be OK for Facebook but it might not project that professional image you’d like to convey on more professional social networks – so, maybe it’s time for a professional portrait!

        For only £14.99 (normal price £29.99), Chris Seaman will take several pictures of you in his studio on London Road, in Sheffield, and provide you with 6 web optimised professional portraits in digital format for you to use on Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.

        Simply mention Seven Creative when booking to receive the discount

        Call Chris Seaman (or Andrew) on 0114 258 5695 or contact him through his website

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          Written by Chris

          September 7th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

          Posted in Newsletters

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          Seven Creative April Newsletter (12th April 2010)

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            A note from the editor

            The newsletter this month arrives from a long way away – a very long way away – the 1950s. Mrs C and I are currently sunning ourselves on the ancient isle of Vectis in preparation for what is shaping up to be a very busy few months!

            Luckily here on the Isle of Wight, the Gin flows freely and the weather is glorious, allowing us to momentarily take our minds off the impending rush.

            In the news at the moment; as YouTube recently reaches its 5th birthday, I take a moment to reflect on its success – it’s grown from a simple video sharing .com start-up business into one of the cornerstones of internet culture in just 5 years!

            There are many reasons why YouTube continues to be so successful – obviously, there was a niche in the market for a good method for easily posting videos online and YouTube have also never lost sight of which side their bread is buttered.  However, the number one reason for their success – and the lesson we can all learn from them – is that good content is king. That is to say, if you’re content is good, your website will attract visitors. If it’s bad, you won’t.

            In this issue

            • Grown-up Instant Messenger
            • Building your personal brand
            • Virtual marketing department

            Grown-up Instant Messenger

            I love Skype. I’ve been using it in a business context since it was launched in 2003 and have become very reliant on it. In fact, if we had to stop using it, it would be painful!!!

            On the face of it, Skype offer a similar service to MSN Messenger, however, there are some very useful features besides ‘instant chat’ that can be used for both business and pleasure and even save you money!

            Skype charges a nominal fee for calling landlines and mobiles in the UK, however, if you need to phone abroad, it can also often be a very cheap alternative. If memory serves correctly, the connection between your computer and telephone exchange local to where you’re calling is free as it uses the internet. The only part you have to pay for is the connection between that local exchange and the phone you’re calling which is normally a lot cheaper than calling from your home phone where you pay for the whole thing. You can also SMS worldwide from your desktop, which can come in very handy sometimes!

            Other free features include worldwide video conferencing or video chat – useful for keeping in touch with relatives abroad, and file sending – great for small documents like Word or Excel.

            If you’re travelling abroad, why not save money by taking advantage of free internet access and use Skype to keep in touch and make and receive calls for a fraction of the price your mobile provider would charge? You can also get Skype on many of the newer mobiles and hand-held devices.

            Skype is available to download for free from Skype.com and if you’d like to add me as a contact, start the application, click on ‘new’ then ‘new contact’ and do a search for ‘chris-day’

            Building your personal brand

            If you’ve ever ‘googled’ yourself it’s pretty likely that, like me, you’re no where to be found. Surely this doesn’t accurately reflect your lifetimes’ achievements so far? Why should a 14 year old with the same name as you, venting their unusual views on modern music, appear high in the rankings but you’re in the metaphorical desert of the search engine world? And anyway, does this even matter?

            Spending years running your business, living and breathing your vocation will inevitably start to turn you into an expert in your field. Your personal business worth (in an hourly-rate sense) is based on other people’s perception of your knowledge, ability and experience. If you love what you do and you’re an expert in your field, surely your ‘hourly rate’ should reflect this and increase proportionally?

            Differentiating yourself from the amateurs or those with less ability and experience is the thing that will allow you to command a higher hourly rate; however, this is sometimes very difficult to do!

            Culturally, self-promotion is often something that is often looked down on. Derogative words and phrases like ‘big head’ or ‘bragger’ are used to deride those that talk proudly about their achievements. Victoria Wood summed it up well when she said ‘we don’t  flaunt, we tut’; however, shouting about your achievements and what a great job you’ve done is perfectly acceptable when done by someone other than yourself such as a grateful client!

            Letting people know how good you are at what you do is not bragging – rather it’s an important and vital exercise if you are going to move forward (and upwards) in your field. It will not only help you command a higher rate but also open new doors and opportunities for you. As such, it’s worth spending time investing in your personal brand by making a name for yourself. For example, speaking at colleges, universities or events may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but, it will often lead on to work. Writing articles for websites and collecting testimonials for your website will also help promote you and your services. Why not write a press release when you’ve got an exciting bit of news? There’s a good chance you can get it into at least the local paper!

            You’re only as good as people perceive you to be – you need to make sure their perception is correct.

            Virtual marketing department

            This week here at Seven Creative’s country retreat, we’re taking a well earned break from the rigours of work. Earlier in the newsletter we mentioned that we’re looking towards a very busy few months which, as I’m sure you’ll already know, is one of the nicer problems you can have in business!

            After the events of the final few months of 2009, we resolved to put our money where our mouths are and prove we know what we’re taking about. Now in 2010 we’ve already beaten all previous years’ records – which is quite an achievement (even if I do say so myself!) – And we’ll be almost certainly continuing our record breaking year.

            This is something we can do for you too.

            Business is a fine balance between ‘working on’ and ‘working for’ your business.  However, the majority of small to medium businesses spend the majority of their time working ‘for’ their businesses. One is a short-term activity and the other is a long-term investment.

            The recession, for example, took many businesses by surprise and those without a strong enough business model have suffered!

            If you’re interested in talking to us about how we can boost your business by providing a virtual marketing department, give us a call or drop us an email

            In the next issue

            • Business promotion – blogging
            • Creative advertising revenues
            • Simple SEO

            And finally…

            As we reach the end of Easter and we resolve to make sure we’ve got Sky boxes in more than one room next year so that Day Jnr can watch Spongebob and Disney films far away from our ever hurting ears, I’m reminded of a quote I once heard on the subject of sharing:

            “Hedgehogs. Why can’t they just share the hedge?” – Dan Antopolski

            From all of us here at Seven Creative’s island getaway; we wish you a continuing happy and prosperous year.

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              Written by Chris

              April 12th, 2010 at 10:06 am

              Seven Creative March Newsletter (17 March 2010)

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                A note from the editor

                Spring arrives

                Spring arrives

                With the snow just about gone, Spring finally arrives a few weeks late and, in an amazing coincidence, so does the the Seven Creative Newsletter!

                In the news today, the marketing geniuses, Dominos Pizza, strike again with an astonishingly simple affiliate marketing-type scheme to exploit the recent social networking explosion <takes a breath>. The new advertising tool allows social network users to display an advert for Dominos Pizza on their Facebook page (or blog) which, when clicked, tracks whether the ‘clicker’ goes on to buy a pizza. If so, the person who displayed the advert earns 0.5% of the order. Genius!

                Dominos pizzas might not be everyone’s cup of tea – even described as decidedly greasy and mediocre by some (not me, of course) – but you have to hand it to them when it comes to marketing, they’re way ahead of the pack! The original ’delivered in 30 minutes or your pizza is free’ advertising campaign was revolutionary – it caused people to order a pizza delivery, willing it to arrive late – which is incredible, however; it helped to create one of the largest brands in the world and gave us one of the first examples of viral marketing. With the impending launch of their new revolutionary marketing campaign, they’re now set to become one of the first companies to truly make social-marketing work for them!

                In this issue

                • Marketing avenues you may not have considered
                • Very cost-effective direct mailings
                • Wireless network security issues
                • Free business promotion

                Marketing your business – avenues you may not have considered

                YouTube

                YouTube

                I did a little exercise recently examining exactly how Ebuyer conduct their marketing activity and it returned some very interesting results! Ebuyer have grown to become a big player in a very difficult and competitive Market through difficult economic times so must be doing something very right if they are still able to compete on a level playing field with the really big players!

                When you’re thinking about your business and wondering what the best options are in terms of sales and marketing, a very good idea is to examine your competitors. You can quickly establish what they are doing that is different to you and how much of an impact it is having on their business. This can often be cheaper and quicker than trying new ideas your self but, more importantly, you may be surprised at what you find out!

                One of the surprising marketing activities and revenue streams that Ebuyer use is an Ebay shop. This might at first sound counter-productive; however, there is a certain section of customers who are time-rich and money-poor who will shop around for the best price before buying. Ebay is a buyers’ market and many people who regularly use it believe that it will allow them to always get the best price. Ebuyer are able to access this potential customer base by association and therefore widen their potential customer base significantly.

                One of the other surprises thrown up when examining Ebuyer’s wider marketing activity was their YouTube channel. You’d be forgiven for naturally assuming that a computer hardware retailer has no place on this video sharing website, however, they are in fact very active here.

                Savvy internet users will use YouTube for product reviews and tutorials as the video element adds an extra dimension to the traditional instruction booklet or written review. When choosing, for example, your next mobile phone or notebook computer, you can see on your computer screen how it looks, feels and works. Once you’ve made your mind up, the next step is to find a supplier! The logical choice when watching a YouTube video provided by Ebuyer is to visit their shop. This again allows them access to another potential customer base.

                In summary, the lesson learned is that when planning your marketing activity you need to be creative and open minded. Potential customers could be where you least expect them to be!

                Direct mailing

                Post box

                Direct mailings

                Did you know it might be a lot easier and more cost effective to send a direct mailing than you would have imagined!

                Over the past few years, Spam has turned from a tasty meat-based product to a four-letter-word as our dependency on email increases. Direct mail, on the other hand, is currently going through a resurgence!

                From 40p per letter including printing, envelope and postage, direct mail can also be surprisingly cost-effective!

                Here at Seven Creative, we’re offering a new service where we’ll take all the hard work out of a direct mailing campaign. Simply tell us which business sectors you’d like to target, what you’d like to promote or sell and we’ll do the rest.

                We’ll provide you with a marketing list (including primary contact name), design a full colour and fully branded sales letter and post it out.

                Prices are one-off £100 for sales letter design and 40p per letter including full colour printing, envelope and postage (no minimum).

                Contact us for more information.

                Wireless network security

                Government legislation that may be introduced within the next few months will place wireless network security responsibility with the person whose name is on the bill. If your network isn’t secure you may be liable for illegal downloads, which, in turn, may lead to broadband service loss, legal action or worse! Many wireless signals can be picked up easily from neighbours’ houses or by wireless devices nearby so it’s never been more important to make sure your wireless network is properly secured.

                All modern routers allow you to create secure password protection in order to connect to the wireless network securely; however, many allow connection without a password as default. As a rule-of-thumb, you’ll need to connect to your router directly using an Ethernet cable to change the password and the control panel is usually accessed via a web browser.

                For further information, PCWorld.com provides a good article on wireless network security including explanations of terms:

                http://www.pcworld.com/article/130330/how_to_secure_your_wireless_network.html

                if you’re still concerned you can get an on site visit from our resident computer hardware wizard, Kristof; give us a call to arrange.

                Promote your business for free

                Promote your business for free and drive extra traffic to your website

                Promote your business for free and drive extra traffic to your website

                One of the best steps you can take from a search engine optimisation point is to create contextual inbound links to your site, or to put in another way, links to your site from within an article relevant to your website and using your keywords and phrases.

                As a newsletter subscriber and customer or friend of Seven Creative you’re invited to write an article or business profile about your business and we’ll publish it on our blog site. This will help with your search engine indexing and bring extra visitors to your site

                Email us for more information

                In the next issue

                • Building your personal brand – how and why
                • Grown-up IM for business and pleasure – saving you money
                • Virtual marketing department – working for your business

                …and finally

                This brings us to the end of another newsletter and towards the start of Easter. This time of year is a time for friends and family and naturally reminds me of something I once heard on the subject of friendship:

                “Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings” – anonymous

                From all of us at here at Seven Creative, we wish you continuing success and a prosperous year.

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                  Seven Creative February Newsletter (12 February 2010)

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                    A note from the editor

                    The year seems to be flying by – I have no idea where January went which is worrying as I’ve not touched anything stronger that Horlicks since New Years Eve! As I write this we’re already over a ninth of the way through the year with only 271 shopping days left until Christmas so it must be that it’s all-systems-go here at Seven Creative Acres – our diversification and sales push seems to be working a treat and we’re busier than we’ve ever been!

                    In the news at the moment, Toyota’s recall of the 2010 Prius along with 2 other hybrid models comes on top of 2.3 million cars already recalled has sent their share price plummeting. The prognosis, however, looks quite good. From all accounts, Toyota will survive this crisis and, no doubt, will emerge stronger than ever. They may have initially expanded too quickly, however, they were perfectly placed to weather this particular storm. What can we learn from this? Toyota concentrated on quality and reputation and built a brand towards which consumers feel loyalty and trust. The words ‘quality’ and ‘reputation’ sometimes seem anachronistic these days in a world of cut-throat business, however, they have served Toyota well and the company will undoubtedly remain as successful as they ever were.

                    In this issue

                    • Who owns the intellectual property rights to your website?
                    • Ever accidently deleted an important file?
                    • What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
                    • Which browser do you use?
                    • Domain name maketh the site – when to use a hyphen
                    • What is a .DOCX or .XLSX?
                    • Promote your website for free

                    Intellectual property rights – a word of warning

                    When we produce any kind of design work for our customers, from websites to leaflets, we automatically transfer the intellectual property rights of the work to the customer upon final payment. This is something we believe to be fair, ethical and is clearly outlined in our terms and conditions. If one of our customers decides they’d like to take the artwork elsewhere in the future, they’re free to do so. This also applies to domain names, photography, logos etc.

                    You would be forgiven for assuming that this was just standard practice in our industry.  However, we’ve recently taken on a new customer who has been very poorly treated by her previous design company:

                    When she decided she wanted to upgrade her website she approached us and we presented a proposal, which was accepted.  She then approached her previous design company to inform them of this and to request administrative control of her domain name and her website files in order to allow us to move the hosting and upgrade her site. She was shocked with the response. The company abruptly informed her that the website, its content and all the imagery and design belonged to them and was further informed by them that if she used any elements of the site without their permission, she would face legal action.

                    Luckily, the domain had been registered in her name so we were able to transfer administrative control directly. If this had not been the case, this would have also been lost.

                    This, in our opinion, is totally unethical but just goes to show that unless you have these issues clearly outlined when you enter into a contract, you may have no rights to your website or artwork if things turn sour!

                    We would like to point out, however, that, in our opinion, commissioning a bespoke design (rather than the purchase of template artwork) would infer IP transfer at the point of completion.  A commission, by its very nature, is a piece of work undertaken for you.  Imagine having a portrait painted and then the artist telling you it always belongs to them!  On a day in court, I think she would have won, but who wants the stress and expense in undertaking this?

                    Obviously, we’ll not be mentioning our new customers’ name, but the company who treated her so badly, on the other hand, were ‘webworksinternet.com’. If this is the type of service they provide to their customers, I’d avoid them like the plague.

                    Recovering deleted files

                    Piriform Recuva logoI have a little free application installed on my computer that I use surprisingly often to recover ‘permanently’ deleted files. The trouble with installing an application like this after you’ve deleted that important file is that there is a good chance you’ll overwrite it and therefore properly permanently delete it.

                    Recuva by Piriform is a compact and intuitive application that scans your hard drive for deleted files and allows you to restore the files it finds. The application is free and takes up no system resources until you actually need it. I’ve used it and would recommend it to anyone who might be in a position where they need to recover an important document that has been accidently deleted at some point.

                    Download it from the Piriform website: http://www.piriform.com/recuva/download/standard

                    Conversion rate optimisation

                    Conversion Rate Optimisation is probably not a phrase you’re currently familiar with.  However, it is something you’ll undoubtedly come across at some point if you start optimising your website. Basically, the difference between a ‘sale’ and ‘no sale’ can be, for example, down to the colour or font of your ‘buy now’ button. Making small adjustments and monitoring how it influences your conversion rate allows you to optimise the look, feel, layout and content of your website which will ultimately mean your site provides you with a better ROI.

                    A design decision, even when based on years of experience, is sometimes still just a ‘best guess’ but conversion rate optimisation will help you to make decisions based on real usage data

                    Browser comparison

                    Google Chrome Internet Browser LogoSometimes is seems that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is never out of the news – security holes, urgent updates, compatibility issues and downing street petitions to phase out Internet Explorer 6 to name a few – and, more recently, even the German Government warned web users to use a different browser to protect security!

                    Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser, but is it the best? I stopped using it several months ago due to the unreliability and clunkiness of the browser. Obviously, due to the nature of my work I have to test websites on all the main browsers.  However, internet explorer began to become more of a liability than something to actually facilitate my work.

                    When Chrome came along, I discovered a light-weight and fast browser, which speeds up my online experience and proves to be extremely reliable. Chrome is the free browser provided by Google and has already rocketed in popularity since its release in late 2008.

                    I personally find Mozilla Firefox to be slow, heavy and clunky – not a great deal different to IE.  Safari, on the other hand, is less buggy, however, I’m used to the Miscrosoft shortcuts which don’t always tally up with the Apple browser.

                    If you’ve not tried Chrome, why not give it a go? It’s changed my online experience for the better and shown there is a better way to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever use IE as my primary browser again!

                    Choosing a domain name – when to hyphenate

                    As more and more of the best domains are registered it becomes harder to get the right one. Many people will initially consider compromise or shortening their business name, however, this may not always be the best solution.

                    Something which is not always considered is the humble hyphen. Did you know it can often help your visitors or potential customers find you as the hyphen often breaks up a string of letters into readable words. One of the most high-profile examples is the National Lottery. Their domain name ‘national-lottery’ is easier to read than with the hyphen than without: nationallottery.

                    Another issue to consider is from the search engines point of view. A search engine will match a search term against a domain name without prejudice, or to put it another way, if your domain name contains words that have been formed by putting other words next to each other, the search engine will match them.

                    One of the most infamous examples of this is the Mole Station Nursery. Originally, a perfectly innocent website for a genuine nursery based in New South Wales, they quickly became famous on the internet when someone pointed out their domain name implied something else: molestationnursery.com

                    This example is an extreme one.  However, it shows that this nursery could have avoided any embarrassment with a humble hyphen or two to break up the words.

                    Just for a bit of fun, here are some other famous examples of domain names that could have benefited from a hyphen:

                    • Experts Exchange – expertsexchange.com
                    • Therapist Finder – therapistfinder.com
                    • Powergen Italia – powergenitalia.com
                    • Pen Island – penisland.net
                    • Who Represents – whorepresents.com

                    What are DOCX / XLSX?

                    If you’ve ever come across a file with a .docx or .xlsx extension and not known what to do with it, read on.

                    Microsoft’s Office 2007 brought many changes including new file extensions for Excel 2007 and Word 2007 documents. Whereas Office 2003 documents are forwards compatible with Office 2007, the 2007 documents are not compatible with the 2003 version or prior versions and this is where the problem lies.

                    The cynical amongst us may speculate that this may have been done to encourage Office users to upgrade to the latest version, however, this isn’t actually necessary.

                    Not many people know this, but there is a compatibility patch you can apply to MS Word 2003 and Excel to allow you to open the 2007 version documents and use them as normal.

                    More information and download available from here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/ha101686761033.aspx

                    If you’re using Office 2007 and you’d like to save a document in the older format meaning it will be compatible with 1997, 2000 and 2003 versions of Office, simply click on the top-right windows button, select ‘save as’ from the  drop down menu then select Word 97-2003 document.

                    Promote your business for free

                    Inbound website links are one of the most important elements when it comes to Search engine optimisation. Of the different types of inbound links you can have, direct, on-way contextual links are brilliant when it comes to helping your site index well with search engines and driving traffic to your site and we’re giving them away for free! If you’re a customer or friend of Seven Creative / Seven Website Design, simply write a title and paragraph about your business and send it to us and we’ll put you direct a link on the Seven Creative Blog. Simple as that! No strings, no cost. Give us a call if you want more information

                    …and finally

                    This brings us to the end of another newsletter. If you’re still with us; congrats. 1800 words is quite a pile to plough through! To reward you for your dedication, I’d like to leave you with a final thought:

                    “Whenever I see a man with a beard, moustache and glasses, I think, ‘There’s a man who has taken every precaution to avoid people doodling on photographs of him” – Carey Marx

                    Wishing you a continuing happy, successful and prosperous 2010 – Chris, Clair and the Seven Creative team

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                      Seven Creative January Newsletter (12 January 2010)

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                        Finally, a new year, a new decade and the recession is over, but… the country grinds to a halt because of a few inches of snow! Don’t you just love being British? Oh well, every silver lining has its cloud!This doesn’t, however, change the fact we’re well into January 2010 and back to the grindstone, looking forward to the challenges this year will bring us! As I write, Mrs. C. is baking us a lovely Steak & Kidney pie to keep our energy levels up as we get back into the swing of things!

                        This year promises to be an interesting one with a new government on the way and the inevitable tax rises that will follow. This, coupled with the all-too-evident ‘pinch’ we’re all feeling due to the economic conditions, means it’s never been more important to invest in working ‘on’ our businesses as opposed to the traditional working ‘for’ them.

                        In this issue:

                        • A warning about the Domain Renewal Group
                        • All about your website images
                        • Search Engine Optimisation

                        The Domain Renewal Group (Warning)

                        If you’re lucky, you won’t have come across the Domain Renewal Group (aka the Domain Registry of America) before.Since 2001, they’ve been causing problems for domain owners with their ‘misleading emails’ (Jason Parlour, 2009), ‘hidden fees’ (US Federal Trade Commission, 2003), email scams (Jason Parlour, 2009), mass unsolicited mailings (Spam) and mass unsolicited direct mail.

                        Their normal modus operandi is a practice known as ‘domain slamming’ where they send official looking direct mail to addresses they take from the ICANN register entitled something along the lines of ‘Domain Name Expiry Notice’. These letters are very misleading using highlighted text to imply that a specified domain will expire unless payment is sent for the renewal. Responding to these letters causes the domain registrar to be needlessly moved and the domain Nameservers to be changed.

                        Several brushes with the law and out-of-court-settlements later the Domain Registry of America are still up to their old tricks but now also targeting Europe (also Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

                        If you are unlucky enough to receive a letter or email from them, please just ignore it. It’s not an official notification and responding may, among other things, cause your email and web services to be lost.

                        To find out more, do a Google search for ‘domain registry of America scam’

                        All about Images

                        Fact: the images on your website can make or break your site. Often, our websites are the first impression a potential customer will get of our business and assumptions are quickly made in the same way as when we meet someone in the flesh for the first time.Therefore, presentation is vitally important if we are going to turn potential customers into actual customers. This is why the images we have on our websites must not only be illustrative and relevant but also professional and predictable.

                        The psychology of the internet is an evolving science just as the web itself is evolving and potential customers are no longer satisfied with poor quality images such as animated GIFs or uncompressed Bitmaps. Having said this, editing your images has never been easier. As long as you follow a few simple rules, you can quickly and easily produce images which will save bandwidth and increase conversion rates.

                        Here at Seven Creative, as we do this for a living, we primarily use the industry standard software for web and print, i.e. Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.  However, this software is very expensive and difficult to learn. There are, however, many options for free software that is still of excellent quality and will allow you to make all the necessary adjustments to images when editing for web optimisation.

                        The best option at the moment, according to many small business owners I’ve spoken to, seems to be Picasa but there are also many other great alternatives such as Paint.net, Irfanview or GIMP. To learn to use any of these, why not try YouTube – search for ‘ tutorial’, e.g. ‘Picasa tutorial’. If you’re anything like me you learn much more quickly when someone is showing you how to use software as opposed to trying to read the manual and there are hundreds of great tutorials available here.

                        Finally, here are some of the main points to consider when creating successful web-optimised images:

                        1. Quality – this is one of the most important factors to take into account. If your images look like they’ve been taken using a mobile phone, you’ll not be taken seriously so invest in quality images. If you’re not able to take the photos yourself, have you considered buying royalty-free stock or hiring a professional photographer? Whatever you do, make sure your images are good quality.
                        2. Cropping – spend time making sure your images are correctly cropped. This can be a difficult one as composition is largely subjective, however, it does make a big difference when you get it right. Philip Straub provides a great tutorial at CG Society
                        3. Sizing – it is possible to tell a browser to display an image any size you want, however, the best option, by a country mile, is to have the image sized correctly before-hand. This will ensure that the image displays exactly how you want it to avoiding pixilation, unnecessary use of bandwidth, slow display and annoying site visitors. If the space you want to fill is 250px x 250px, resize your image to that resolution before it is inserted.
                        4. Compression – a JPEG is a compressed raster image and the most popular and widely supported image format, however, the compression is something that can and should be controlled. Some images need to be very high quality whereas it’s not so important for others. Getting the correct compression ratio will mean your images display quickly and you will not use up bandwidth unnecessarily. This is best done by eye, but, as a rough guide, an image with resolution of 100px x 100px (10,000 pixels) should be around the 5kb to 10kb size, an image with resolution of 40,000 pixels should be around 13kb to 18kb or an image with resolution of 160,000 pixels should be around the 40kb to 50kb area. If you compromise on quality you can have smaller images but they can become more pixelated and vice versa.
                        5. Relevance – this might sound obvious but what is the point of having an image for the sake of having an image? I’m all for use of negative space (as a minimalist at heart) but decisions need to be based on reason. Images are great for breaking up large areas of text and illustrative purposes but they need to relevant. When I studied effective presentations at university, I realised that websites, just as physical presentations, are communicating with people who don’t always respond to text in the same way as each other i.e. some people are ‘readers’ and some are ‘lookers’ – or to put it another way, some people need to read text and some need to look at pictures to get the message. Images need to tell a parallel story to the text and provide the same function in order to cater for different needs. If you remember the primary objective of your website is to funnel potential customer towards the close, whatever that may be, it is sometimes easier to make these decisions. Choose images wisely!

                        This is a brief introduction to the use of images on the internet and I could go on… if you have any questions, please let me know.

                        Other useful image tools

                        Resizing and compressing a large quantity of digital images can sometimes be a daunting task, however, there some applications to help:

                        • If you’re using Windows XP, Microsoft provides a free little image resizer add-on. Once installed, right-click on the image or images you want to resize and select this application. Download from here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/Downloads/powertoys/Xppowertoys.mspx (11th link down from the right-hand column).
                        • If you’re using Vista, you could try Image Resizer PowerToy Clone for Windows available from: http://sourceforge.net/projects/phototoysclone/. This is also a free application and works in a similar way to the Microsoft XP version. I’ve not tried this application myself, however, according to the documentation (http://www.codeplex.com/ImageResizer) it is an extended-support version of the Microsoft XP Image Resizer Powertoy so should work in a similar way.
                        • Alamoon offer free versions of their ‘Water-mark’ tool and ‘Colour Enhancer’ tools. The watermark tool will allow you to stamp images with text to help deter people steeling them. The colour enhancer tool  will automatically adjust your images lightness, contrast and colour balance. I’ve not tried either of these applications myself so can’t comment on their ease-of-use etc. so please let me know your thoughts if you try them. Download them from here: http://www.alamoon.com/index.html

                        As always, please backup your computer before installing any new software and check compatibility before-hand. If in any doubt, please seek professional technical help first.

                        Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

                        In my book, ‘Got website, what now?’, one of the things I talk about the fact that getting a website produced is only the first tactical step in your online marketing strategy.  Each other activity within your tactical plan also has to support and drive traffic to your website/business.  Think of your website as the internet “shop front” of your business…people don’t suddenly rush to find you just because you have opened, it takes targeted marketing to let the right people know about your services.  This is what will maximise your return on investment.As in any area of business, success comes from focus. A website, unless properly supported, is very unlikely to prove an effective sales tool: You can have the best looking website in the world; however, if no one ever sees it, it is effectively useless.

                        Search engine optimisation is the science of tweaking your site to help it index as well as it possibly can for your budget. A common misconception is that Search Engine Optimisation is expensive. This is simply not true as many of the steps you can take are quick, simple and free:

                        • One of the easiest steps is link exchange. Certain links are more valuable than others, such as relevant, direct inbound links, however, to quote Tesco’s, ‘every little helps’! there are a million websites out there who would be more than happy to exchange a reciprocal link
                        • Content is still king – you can’t beat good, old-fashioned content within your website. search engines love a lot of content and as long as you’re not trying too hard to manipulate the system, you’ll start to get more search engine matches
                        • Competitor analysis and keyword analysis and implementation may take a little more time and skill, however, it’ll pay dividends in the future.

                        Seven Creative Search Engine Optimisation services focus on the advanced side and can start to show results very quickly. We work by the half day (4 hours) and prices start from £100.

                        Seeing your website as simply a point-of-contact may be selling it short. You’ve invested time and money in it; the least it can do is give something back!

                        Next issue…

                        • Conversion Rate Optimisation and a browser comparison

                        And finally…

                        I thought I’d like to end January’s newsletter on a lighter note and leave you with a final thought:”Machiavelli said, ‘It is better to be feared than to be loved, if you cannot be both.’ Something to bear in mind when you embark on internet dating.” – Edward Aczel

                        I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their custom and loyalty and wish you all a happy, successful and prosperous 2010 – – Chris

                        Visit our website today for information www.sevencreative.co.uk

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                          Written by Chris

                          January 12th, 2010 at 9:00 am

                          Seven Creative December Newsletter (12 December 2009)

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                            Introduction

                            Seasons Greetings! In this issue; AVG update time, steps to avoid spam, Seven Creative affiliate scheme and a very useful Outlook utility.

                            Is your Anti-Virus software up-to-date?

                            If you’re using AVG free edition version 8.5 or earlier on Windows, you will more-than-likely need to upgrade to version 9 in December. To check which version of AVG you have, double-click the AVG icon in your task-bar (the red, blue, green and red square at the bottom right corner of your screen) then look at the bottom-left area of the AVG window when it opens.

                            To upgrade to version 9, follow the links from the AVG window or click here to go straight to the download location: http://tinyurl.com/cbe7be (I’ve shortened a very long URL here if the address looks a bit unusual!). When installing, watch out for the ‘Yahoo toolbar’ option. If you don’t want it, be sure to un-tick the box – it’s not a mandatory element of the AVG software.

                            Making money with the Seven Creative affiliate scheme

                            Did you know we have recently rolled out an affiliate scheme? Send someone in our direction (make sure you let us know to expect their call) and you’ll receive 10% of the value of the services they purchase including business stationery, leaflets & flyers, websites & blogs and marketing campaigns. We save time and money from doing less marketing and you could receive a nice cheque in the post. Simples! Please contact us for full terms and conditions.

                            Getting spammed?

                            Unfortunately, Spam is fact of life at the moment for all email users. The best we can hope to do is cut the number of spam emails we receive by taking some simple steps.

                            If your website is hosted on our Namesco hosting facility, you can blacklist persistent spammers by logging in through your control panel, selecting ‘email & ftp’ then adding an email address to the ‘blacklist’. Emails received from that address will in the future be automatically rejected. (Conversely, adding names to the ‘white list’ will mean they are automatically accepted).Also, you can change the sensitivity of your spam filter. The anti-spam software rates each received email according to how likely it thinks that its spam. For example, if the rating is more than 6 they are accepted. If the rating is less than 6 they are rejected. Change the threshold to 5 and the sensitivity is increased. Go to your control panel, ‘email & FTP’ then select ‘spam filtering’.

                            Websites hosted on our Zoom facility, log into your control panel and enable ‘Spam Assassin’

                            Things you may not know

                            Seven Creative offers the full range of business marketing services including websites and email accounts, however, you may not know we also offer:

                            • Social network marketing
                            • Pay-per-click advertising
                            • Print media advert design
                            • Email marketing and mailing list management
                            • Regular website backups
                            • Plus much more

                            Please call us for more information

                            A useful utility for Outlook

                            If you use Outlook on a Windows computer, you’ll no doubt either already regularly back-up your emails or at least, it’ll be on the to-do list. It’s a simple procedure; select ‘file’, ‘Import and export’, ‘Export to a file’, choose the format for the backup (personally I use Personal Folder File (.pst), select ‘Personal folders’ (tick the ‘Include subfolders’ box) and the click ‘Next’ to choose a location for the back and begin). The problem comes when you have a lot of large attachments. Your backup file may end up being huge and take an age to complete. A quick work-around is to remove all the email attachments saved in your Outlook and put them all in a separate file on your computer. A free utility that does this for you is available from www.kopf.com.br/outlook/. Download, install and you’ll get a little toolbar along the top of your Outlook window called ‘Attachment remover’. Click it, follow the instructions and hey-presto, all your attachments are neatly put in a separate folder and replaced with short-cuts in your emails meaning your Outlook backups should now be a whole lot quicker.

                            That’s all folks

                            This brings us to the end of the Seven Creative December newsletter. From all us here at Seven Creative Towers, we’d like to wish you all the best over the festive season for the New Year.

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                              Written by Chris

                              December 12th, 2009 at 9:00 am