CATERING COMPANY RE-BRAND

Re-Brand

Last year our client, Palace Cafe Catering, decided to close their Sunnyvale cafe and focus entirely on the catering side of their business.  They have begun construction on a huge and fabulous new kitchen with offices in Belmont.  We are looking forward to participating in moving their business forward.  Thank you, Palace, for including us in your exciting new business plans.

Along with this move, they are updating their branding.  They’ve new colors, style, design, and fonts.  New print collateral is in the works and their new web site is almost ready for launch.

PREVIOUS AND NEW LOGO

blog-palace-logoNEW MAGAZINE ADS

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E-MAIL CAMPAIGN

Yesterday, we finalized their new e-mail campaign template and launched their Mardi Gras Menu.  As always, our mouths watered while we work – we know how delicious the food is.

MANGIA!

If you would like to try them yourself (we could not recommend them more), call 408.774.6100.

On the web at palacecafe.catering.  If you see a site with a cream background, this is the site we made for them in 2004.  But with the new site just about done, hopefully, you’ll be looking at their new one.

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AN ADWORDS CAMPAIGN DONE WELL

Our client wanted to attract new customers for a high-value treatment they provide, and to help pay off the high-end equipment they just purchased.

If only one method of online advertising to get new clients is possible due to budget constraints, we always recommend Google AdWords campaigns, which reaches the largest audience in a targeted area, such as within a ten mile radius of your location.

We set up the campaign and wrote the ad copy, made a landing page, chose quality keywords and a specific method of keyword matching to maximize their daily budget.

We measure whether the ad is performing well in a few ways. (Please refer to the graphic below for the numbers in parentheses.)

  • Placement on the results page: Ideal positioning is either the first, second or third place on the page (6).
  • “Click Through Rate”: The percentage of time someone clicks on the ad (3) compared to the total number of times the ad is displayed. Above 0.5% is considered very good. It means the keywords we selected are a good match to what the user is seeing in the ad copy and is responding well to it.
  • “Conversions”: This is a big one. There are a number of ways to measure this, but it always refers to a way of tracking when the user takes a desired action. In this case a conversion is counted when the appointment form is submitted (7). The cost per conversion (8), is the total number of conversions divided into the total amount spent. In this case the cost per conversion is currently $89. Considering that the treatment being marketed typically brings in a few thousand dollars in revenue, paying ninety bucks for a likely new high-value client is money well spent.

adwords-screenshot

It should be noted that conversions don’t measure all of the success. Visitors who click on your ad may also call your business for an appointment from your phone number on the landing page (the page we create specifically for the ad offer), and even if they don’t call or make an appointment right away, they have seen your company name and your offer. Repeated exposure to your business is one of the keys to brand layering and attracting new business, so every click to your site furthers your efforts.

We realize most of our clients aren’t seeking such high-value clients where $90/conversion is a reasonable number. This is just one example. A reasonable cost for a new customer or sale depends on your business. And it is not always possible to track just how much new business you are getting from any sales promotion, but a well-executed AdWords campaign should be high on your online marketing agenda.

There are many more important aspects of Google AdWords, enough to fill books, but the info presented here is the very core of how to measure the success of such marketing campaigns.



WHY WE DON’T CURRENTLY LOVE ANY E-MAIL CAMPAIGN SERVICE PROVIDER

blog-email-providers-compared

For years we have produced exclusively custom html e-mail campaigns for our clients and, if we had control over the selection of the service provider, we used Vertical Response.  When responsive e-mails became essential, we looked at what was available in pre-made templates and decided they look and perform badly, so offered our clients custom html responsive e-mail campaign, or what we called mobile-friendly campaigns.  Most of our clients opted for mobile-friendly as they were attractive, fast for us to produce, and functioned well in all devices and views, although not technically responsive.  (See a sample here.)

The two of us have developed and launched thousands of e-mail campaigns since 2003.  We have many clients on Vertical Response Classic which we loved and recommended for years before responsive took over.  We have one client on Constant Contact Old and one on Constant Contact New.  Sadly, we also have a few clients on MailChimp, but are not including this in this post as it’s not at the level of our two leaders.

Vertical Response Classic is no longer an option as the form design and processing features have not been upgraded since launch of New VR.  But most of our existing clients have their accounts here simply because there’s no better option available to which to upgrade them.

Vertical Response New is not ready.  Currently, if we have a new e-mail campaign client, we are going with Constant Contact New.

Constant Contact New made us angry as they launched far too soon and used us as beta testers.  Back in June we opened a new account for a new client and CC still has not fixed the issues they said they were working on.

Constant Contact Old is no longer available.  We mention it, however, as they had some great features that we wish CC New would develop – in fact, in our comparison below, this now obsolete platform got the highest score.

We know we expect a lot from an e-mail campaign provider, but in this high-competition field, we don’t think that too unreasonable.  Here are some of the features we look for and how the available options respond:


BILLING

Pay as you go pricing option (not just subscription.)  This is so crucial for clients who do not have monthly e-mail campaigns in their marketing plan.

Vertical Response Classic – Yes

Vertical Response New – Yes

Constant Contact Old – No

Constant Contact New – No

Address list billing on the account level, not individual list level, meaning that each e-mail address – even if it’s on multiple individual mail lists – is billed just once.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes


CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Same time-zone, phone customer support from reps who know the product and care.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Very much – Yes

CC New – Very much – Yes

Short hold time for customer support and no horrible phone tree.

VR Classic – Mostly

VR New – Mostly

CC Old – Sometimes

CC New – Sometimes

The entire e-mail stream gets included in customer support e-mails, rather than just the last one from the rep.  (Incredibly frustrating and un-helpful.)

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No


DESIGN INTERFACE

Has two views: html and design.

VR Classic – Not applicable as we only used this for custom html e-mail campaigns

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No

Intuitive campaign development.

VR Classic – Not applicable as we only used this for custom html e-mail campaign

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes – this one is the best


FORMS

Embed-able, modern, easy to use, responsive sign-up forms.

VR Classic – No

VR New – Sorta

CC Old – No

CC New – Yes

Option to allow us to select which address list a signed-up e-mail address is added to, rather than requiring one address list per sign up form.  We really need to have several forms that drop addresses into one list.

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No


FUNCTION

Choose the “to” address lists after the campaign is ready, not before.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Seed lists for testing (pre-set testing lists so you can test with one click versus typing in each testing e-mail address one at a time for each test.)

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No

Can migrate account information and all lists from old version to new.

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Not applicable

CC New – Yes

Text and graphical links in e-mail campaigns can be coded to open in a new browser window (target=”_blank”) so the browser version functions as a well-coded web page should.

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No

Forward to a friend feature.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No – ridiculous

Share to Facebook in launched e-mail puts a graphic into Facebook post.

VR Classic – Fantastic, but only because we custom coded it

VR New – Unknown

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No – fail! 8/1/16 they told me they were fixing this

Share to social media which allows us to select the graphic which is posted.

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No

Ability to set text styles so any new copy added to a template is consistent.  This is really important – who has time to set each section of text to font, size, colour, line height, etc, individually to typed in text, or pasted in text?

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes!!!!!!!!!!

CC New – No

Ability to create the landing page (browser version) of a campaign when it is scheduled, rather than after it launches (another benefit to custom html templates.)

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – Unknown

CC Old – No

CC New – No


LISTS

Allows for multiple address lists and the ability to mail to any number of address lists per campaign.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Address list management on the account level, rather than list by list (so that if someone unsubscribes from one list, that unsubscribe is noted throughout the account no matter how many lists that address is on.)

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Recognition of duplicated addresses so that if an address is on many lists, and an e-mail is sent to all those list, the recipient will receive only one e-mail

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

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GOOGLE ADWORDS EXPANDED TEXT

Here’s John, enjoying his clients’ AdWords reporting on a summer day in the garden.  He says this the new expanded text Google AdWords are a really big deal.

blog adwords

Expanded text AdWords ads are the next generation of text ads, designed for a mobile-first world.  They benefit users with more information before they click an ad and benefit advertisers by giving additional control over messaging.  This can mean higher quality clicks from users with keen interest in the subject while cutting down on lower quality clicks less likely to convert to a sale.  They are also better-designed for device responsiveness and display more clearly on devices from smartphone to desktop monitor.

More bang for your AdWords bucks!

This is all fairly new, but early reporting is showing expanded text ads are getting a 20% higher click through rate.  This is mostly because they are larger and stand out amongst the older, smaller ads.  Right now, we’re suggesting that we upgrade any old-style AdWords campaigns we have running for our clients.

There’s two main updates. The headline (purple text in the graphic below) can be 60 characters, rather than 25.  You can be more compelling and precise which leads to better quality clickers.  And, the ad display text (black text in the graphic below) has been expanded from two 35 character lines to a consolidated 80 character line.

This graphic shows how an expanded text ad will display on a smartphone vs. a monitor:

cs-ad-screenshot

 

Summary – better quality clickers = better quality conversions.

Google AdWords is a specialty of John’s.  Contact him at johnp@metapix.us or 408 252-8664 with any questions.

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WHY WE DON’T RECOMMEND MAILCHIMP

Gibbon Because We Don't Have a Photo of a Chimp(Yes, we know this is a photo of a gibbon yawning, not a chimp delivering mail – it’s all we have in our library primate-wise as we have not taken a photo of a postal chimp, although we’d be excited to do so.)

We use MailChimp for a few clients and we find it to be the most difficult interface and address list management system of the e-mail campaign providers with which we have experience.

ONE – they don’t offer phone support.

TWO – Choosing the address list to whom the e-mail goes at step one instead of at the end of the development process causes problems and is contrary to the way our clients like to work.

THREE – They don’t have seed lists for testing.  This is a development issue for us, and does not effect our clients except for a bit of time added to the process, which adds to the cost to the project.

FOUR – The same address on several lists counts multiple times towards your monthly plan, so you can spend far more than is needed for your subscription.

FIVE – MC does not offer “pay-as-you-go” as an option – monthly subscription only.  You pay, even if you don’t send any e-mails.

SIX – Customization of address sign-up forms can only be done with a higher priced account.

SEVEN – Sign-up forms that can be coded to recognize list segmentation can be done only on pop-up pages, but not for embedded forms (which is pretty much the only way people do e-mail list sign-up forms now.)

EIGHT – The biggie – they don’t allow a campaign to be sent to more than one list.  The best-practice for managing lists in MailChimp is to have one list, which is divided into groups and segments.  Our clients find it confusing – actually we find it confusing at times, as well as cumbersome, non-intuitive, and time-wasting.

 

If you are interested, there’s more below on MC’s address list management.  But we don’t want to simply focus upon the negative and what we don’t recommend.  We do recommend using Vertical Response or Constant Contact as platforms.  The phone response for both companies is fantastic – customer support reps who know the product and are helpful.  And the list management is far simpler.  You can have as many lists as you want and get to select the ones you want each campaign to launch to.  Unsubscribes and bounces are well-managed at the account level, rather than the list level, which protects you from higher prices and grumpy customers and keeps you compliant with spam laws.

Our favorite is Vertical Response for the reasons above, as well as their pay-as-you-go option instead of subscription and because over the decade we’ve used them for a variety of clients, they have been consistently good.

 

So, back to MC’s list management issues caused by not allowing a campaign be sent to more than one list:

  • Unsubscribes are managed by individual list, rather than at the account level.  So if you have more than one list, and a recipient unsubscribes from one list, it’s not recorded in any other list, so you can e-mail to an address of someone who already unsubscribed.
  • Because there’s no connectivity between lists, if a client changes their settings in one list, it won’t be recognized by any other instances of that e-mail address in other lists.
  • If you wish to send an e-mail to separate lists, you need to duplicate the e-mail over and over, sending one e-mail launch per mail list.  If there are duplicated addresses in your account, you will be sending the same campaign to these addresses.  One of our clients is doing this, and are getting complaints from clients.

 

We know this is confusing.  Send us a line with questions, or call 408 252-8664.

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NEW WEBSITE LAUNCH!

SusanGraf.com

We’ve had a great experience working with Susan Graf and her brand designer, Marianne Mitten, on a new website for Susan Graf Limited.  Here it is!

John coded it to be device responsive, so the code will render to it’s best depending upon the device – from smartphone to desktop monitor – the visitor is using.  The navigation changes from full screen sized to hamburger on a smartphone.  The font changes to be most readable depending upon the device.

The best part – this is not a WordPress or other template site so the client is not boxed in and there’s no monthly security and maintenance fee.

Responsive Website Design

We were also hired to do the copy writing and to photograph both locations.

Besides the fabulous mens’ and womens’ departments and charming staff, Susan Graf Limited offers styling, techno pants, DRESS CODE by SUSAN GRAF, and Bespoke Uniforms for high-end hotels and resorts.  There’s a location on the plaza in Healdsburg and one in downtown Palo Alto.

Thank you, very much, Susan, for this project.  We’re looking forward to working with you (and of course, visiting both boutiques.)

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ARTIST LOU BERMINGHAM AND SHARING TO FACEBOOK

Artist's E-mail Campaign

Abstract artist, Lou Bermingham as been a client of ours since 2008.  We’ve enjoyed each new work of art he has produced, visits to galleries and museums to see his work (and sip some wine at the opening receptions), and making a few web sites for him.  There could not be a person more deserving of succeed in this competitive field.

We also send out e-mails to his quickly growing e-mail list.  We keep them simple – just an image of one of his works and text to the right in an area which fits nicely into a smartphone screen without side-scrolling.

Lou is the idea client with an ideal audience to include a “share to Facebook” link on his e-mail campaigns.

With an average list of a few hundred friends for each Facebook account, there’s a huge potential to get your product and brand under the noses of possible new clients.

Below is a sample of the above e-mail shared to the MPS Facebook page.

Interested in Lou’s art?  Visit his MPS website.  And here’s the e-mail campaign.

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E-MAILS WORKING FOR OUR CLIENTS

E-mail Campaign Design

There are many ways to approach e-mail campaign development and production. We’ve narrowed it down to three options to cover all our clients’ budgets and all the devices out there.

We also include enhancements to our e-mail campaign services that our competitors skip. We usually do all the graphics and copy writing. For each campaign, we also produce a web page version which our clients use as landing pages for online ads or social media posts. A week after launch, we provide a free report on the campaign’s success.

And finally, because we don’t like to just do a one-off campaign with a short lifespan of value, we add the web page version to our client’s site on a news archive page so all that work put into making the e-mail campaign continues to pay off as a boost to site search engine optimization and additional information for site visitors to enjoy. Here are a couple of news archive pages we maintain using our e-mail campaigns: http://www.gleimjewelers.com/gleim_jewelry_news.shtml and http://www.palacecafe.net/about-us-newsletter-archive.html.

Reporting shows that around 55% of all our clients’ e-mail campaigns are being viewed on smartphones. This is a higher percentage for retail businesses and a lower percentage for B2B and service businesses. Because of this, the non-responsive e-mail campaign designs we were doing just a few years ago were dropped – a business’ e-mail must be readable and actionable on a smartphone.

Here’s what is working for our clients right now:

Mobile-friendly campaigns render cleanly, but not responsively, on all devices from smartphone (landscape and portrait) to desktop computer. Mobile-friendly is a term we made up to go with the code we developed. These are the lowest priced options since they do not need complex responsive code or an e-mail campaign platform’s design interface.

They work well on all devices and on a smartphone do not require pinching or side-scrolling.

Here’s a mobile friendly e-mail campaign.

Mobile Friendly E-mail Campaign

Responsive e-mail campaigns render the same code/design on any device. For these, we use a template provided by an e-mail campaign service provider, but prevent them from looking “from a box” with custom graphics.

Different e-mail campaign providers vary in quality and services. We like Vertical Response the best for its same-time-zone customer support and list management features, which we find to be the most adaptable to split-list campaigns and the way our clients wish to manage lists. However we have been recently surprised and pleased with how Constant Contact has improved – no more phone-tree nightmares when calling for support and great reporting. Of the main providers, MailChimp is our least favorite as the list management is non-flexible and there’s no phone support.

Here’s a sample of one of our responsive e-mail campaigns, produced through Constant Contact.

Responsive E-mail Design

Custom, responsive e-mail campaigns require a lot of work. Two versions of each campaign are produced: a desktop version and a smartphone version. These are the best looking and performing types of e-mails as the design is specific to the device.

Our company campaigns are coded in this way.

Custom Responsive E-mail Design

We work closely with our clients to make sure we are providing the best fit for their needs, and their budgets.

Our e-mail campaign portfolio.

YOU TUBE CHANNELS AND VIDEO

Youtube Header Graphic Design

YouTube is the second largest search engine. Make sure you have a channel — optimized and hosting your optimized videos. We’ve set up a few: Halo Blow Dry Bar Channel and Palace Cafe and Catering Channel.

But keep in mind that you have to either create your own videos or have copyright permission from the owner of the video to post to your channel.

We recently came across videos hosted within Vimeo and embedded on a client’s site. But we recommend YouTube over this.  Vimeo puts a link to their site in the footer of the video, so you could potentially lose a visitor to the Vimeo playlist.  Plus, with YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world, going with Vimeo does not seem to make sense.

The specs for the header graphic (see above) can be tricky as it needs to render from smartphone to desktop to TV and all devices in-between.

blog-you-tube-channels

And even better for search engine optimization and for visitor engagement, be sure you add any video to your site, as we have done with this Palace Cafe & Catering video of wine pairings, appetizers, and setting the perfect event. Once you have created and posted your own videos to your YouTube channel they can be embedded on your website which saves you money — no need for custom coding — since you can generate the code to embed right from your YouTube channel.

Video on your web site