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How to Improve the Deliverability of Your Emails March 11th, 2019
Spam email, sometimes referred to as junk mail, is an email that has been sent to a recipient without their permission. In 2018, a study conducted by IPwarmup.com suggested that as much as 90% of email traffic is spam. With this high volume in mind, email providers are cracking down. Spam filters have been put in place by email providers to stop unwanted emails reaching your inbox. These filters are not 100% accurate and genuine emails can sometimes make their way to the spam folder. If you emails you send have low open rates or a lot of your emails bounce back, this could be why. In this blog post we have put together some useful information to help you identify what might be considered spam and how you can improve email deliverability.
How Is Spam Identified?
The detection of spam by email providers is highly sophisticated. The filtering process is based on many factors. These factors include the email’s content, sender reputation, technical factors and blacklisting history. Spam filters score each factor according to their relative importance. Email providers then decide if they should permit an email to reach the recipient’s inbox, go directly to their spam folder or bounce back to the sender.
The Content Factor – The content within the email is perhaps the most clear and humanly understandable way that filters identify spam. Certain words can act as indicators to help determine if an email is spam. Things like ‘Sale now on’, ‘Limited Time Offer’ or ‘£100 OFF’ are the sort of terms that might increase the content spam score. Spam filters also look at how natural the content is, for example, the ratios of text to images and the number of links. If the vast majority of genuine emails contain one or two links and your email contains 10, this might increase the spam score for the content.
The Reputation Factor – When you send an email, your email address and your service provider will have a reputation score. This score is based on the quality of the emails sent previously from the email address, the email domain and the server that it is sent from. The reputation is also affected by how many times recipients clicked to mark emails as spam. Therefore, if you send an email and a high level of recipients mark it as spam, future emails will have a lower deliverability rate as the recipient’s email provider will assign it a higher spam score.
The Technical Factor – One of the most common things spammers do is spoof email domains, this means that they attempt to make their email look like it has come from a trusted sender. For example, you might receive an email which looks like it has come from Amazon but in fact it’s actually spam. There are technical methods that domains can use to protect themselves from this kind of spoofing, this enables spam filters to identify these emails and reject them. Sometimes genuine email senders haven’t configure their domains correctly and so their emails can look more like spam than they would if the domain was configured correctly. One method to prove the origin of an email is legitimate is adding what’s called an SPF record to the domain. This record contains a list of the services that are allowed to send emails with this domain in it. When an email is received by a recipient, the recipient’s email provider can check the origin of the email and cross reference with the SPF record. If the email appears to be sent from a service not listed, the email will receive a high spam score. Essentially the objective of this and similar methods is to help prove that the emails are coming from the correct sender for that domain.
Blacklist Factor – When a given email service sends emails which are persistently marked as spam, the details of these servers can end up on a blacklist. If an email is received and the origin server is on one of these lists, the email will receive a high spam score. The black lists tend to relate more to the sender’s email service than a specific email address or domain. For this reason, all users of that email service will be impacted by that service being blacklisted regardless of if you were the user which caused the blacklisting in the first place.
How to Improve the Deliverability of Your Emails?
There are a few things you can do to help improve the deliverability of your emails. We have outlined below a few tips to help get you started.
Quality – You can improve deliverability by ensuring that the emails you send are of good quality and genuine interest to the recipients. If you succeed in beating automated spam filter but the email you are send out is spam, the user is going to mark it as spam. The objective is not just to get an email into the user’s inbox but for them to act positively to it.
Configured Domain – Ensure your domain is correctly configured for the email provider you are using. You should be able to ask your provider what’s the best way to configure your domain to work with their services. Where possible add SPF and DKIM records to your domain.
Specialist Services – If you send a lot of marketing emails, you should use a specialist email sending service such as Mailchimp. These services work hard to ensure they have good reputations with other service providers meaning that their high send volumes will not appear out of the ordinary. They also employ measure to make sure that other users of their service do not damage their sending reputation. These services often have excellent reporting enabling you to see how effective your emails are and also help you to remove users from your lists who do not want to receive your email.
Removing Unwanted Recipients – As well as allowing people to easily remove themselves from your email lists, we advise actively managing your list yourself. You should remove any users who potentially don’t want to receive your emails. By doing this you avoid recipients marking your email as spam and potentially causing those who are interested to not receive your emails in the future because of the reputation damage.
Test Your Email – Finally test your emails. There are many services you can send your emails to that will report on the factors outlined above and more. Running your email through one of these services can often provide very easy fixes. This could dramatically transform your email’s deliverability. https://www.mail-tester.com/ is one such service which we find very useful.
Coronavirus: Business Ideas
April 6th, 2020
We hope you are all well and dealing with the current situation as best you can. As you can imagine we’ve had a lot customers asking us for advice on how they might make adjustments to their business to get things running more smoothly while the lockdown continues. In light of this, we’ve put together a few things you might want to consider doing with your business.
Adding a notice to your website
Let your customers know what you are doing to deal with the Coronavirus situation. We’ve added a free upgrade option so you can easily add a stand-out notification to your website. Read more about how to add this upgrade and what you might like to say in it in our recent blog article.
Adding an online store
Consider if there are ways you’re able to continue selling your products and services. Some customers have asked us to add a shop facility to their websites. If you would like to do this, get in touch and we can look at ways this can be incorporated into your site. During this time we’re very much working on the basis of making any upgrades of this nature as quick and inexpensive for you as possible.
Applying for Support
There are a wide range of support options being offered by the UK and devolved administrations ranging from grants, which you don’t have to pay back, to loans offering attractive terms. There is also support to furlough staff covering up to 80% of their salaries. Here are some links with more information. There are certainly some blind spots in the support but we’ve found, and customers have reported to us, that they have started to benefit from these schemes.
- UK Government Support Schemes (also England only schemes)
- Welsh Government Support
- Scottish Government Support
- Northern Ireland Executive Support Schemes
Adding Live chat
If your customers tend to call you but you are working from home and don’t have access to your office phones, you could consider adding live chat to your website. There are a number of services to choose from, most are pretty easy for us to put in place for you and are either free or low cost to use. We use Olark, which has a free tier and find it quite easy to use but there are others such as LiveChat, Purechat etc. A simple Google search will bring up loads to choose from.
Using an Internal Communications Tool
If your team is working from different locations, you might want to look into options to facilitate keeping in touch and keeping things organised. Most people have heard of Skype and Facetime but there are some more advanced tools which include more comprehensive features for business. We used to use a service called Flock which is essentially an internal chat facility with support for video. We’ve recently migrated to Microsoft Teams which is more advanced and more integrated with the Office applications. Slack is another tool that is popular with businesses.
Upgrading your Phone System
If you are using a conventional phone line where you plug the phone into the wall and you have a single number for that phone, you might want to consider moving to a service called VOIP or voice over IP. This provides all the same functionality as a standard phone line however instead of plugging the phone into a phone socket, you plug into your internet connection. VOIP phones have lots of advanced features like putting callers on hold, queues and letting you receive more than one call at a time i.e. customers do not get an engaged tone. The main advantage right now however is that the phone can be plugged into any internet connection i.e. you can move your phone line around with you. If you think this is something which will help with your business we recommend calling a provider such as RPS Telecom who can help design a solution for you and your business.
We hope some of these ideas are of assistance to you. If you need to discuss anything regarding your website, please feel free to contact us.
Coronavirus: Your Website
March 27th, 2020
The current health emergency is no doubt causing disruption to your business. Some will be seeing significant drops in demand while others might be seeing significant increases.
It’s important to keep customers fully updated on how you are responding to the crisis and your website can be the front line for achieving that goal.
You might have something in mind already in terms of the information you want to provide but as a guide here are some ideas of the sort of things you might want to add:
- If you’re closing completely
- If you’re remaining open, are your operating hours changing at all
- If you’re remaining open and the public can visit your place of business, what precautions have you been taking e.g. regular cleans, hand sanitiser available etc
- If customers contact you via phone or email, have their details changed at all e.g. if you are working from home
- If you are offering any promotions such as reduced fees let them know
- If there are any resources you think might be helpful to your customers such as links to other website
If your website package includes the enhanced editor you can use it to add information to a new page on your website, if you don’t have the enhanced editor you could add information to an existing page. We also have a free upgrade to add a Coronavirus notification to the top of your web pages.
If you have not logged into your website editor for a while an you have forgotten your password you can request a password reset on the log in page https://manager.webfactory.co.uk. If you would like to add the Coronavirus Notice, you can add the free upgrade in the upgrade store. (Please note this link will only work if you have visited via your website manager or an email we have sent you. If it doesn’t work as expect, you can access the Upgrades Store from your website manager after logging in and going to the Coronavirus Upgrades section).
Boss website design: Coronavirus Update
March 27th, 2020
This is a very uncertain time for us all and we wanted to update you on how we’re responding to the challenges of the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Here at Webfactory, we’re working hard behind the scenes to make sure we are fully prepared for the potential effect it could have on our employees and customers. Being in the tech sector, we are well positioned to adapt as things develop. With this in mind, all our staff have already moved to remote working positions and are available via phone, email and live chat if required. By doing this we can continue to offer our full range of services at this difficult time.
For piece of mind, our core hours will remain the same (9am – 5pm) for calls, emails and live chats. We will continue to receive emails 24/7 and will aim to reply to them as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
We recommend adding information to your website to inform your customers about how you are operating during this period. You can do this with your website’s content management system. We’ve also produced a small blog article with information on actions you can take on your website to keep your customers informed. Read our website coronavirus blog article.
The government have put various schemes in place to support businesses’ cash flows. Additional support specifically for the self employed is due in the coming days. Support includes covering 80% of the wages of employees who would otherwise have been made unemployed, one-off grants and VAT payment deferrals. You can find information about the various schemes following the links below. Please note that some support is devolved to the four nations of the UK so do check the relevant additional links for where your business is located.
- UK Government Support Schemes (also England only schemes)
- Welsh Government Support
- Scottish Government Support
- Northern Ireland Executive Support Schemes
We thank you for your continued loyalty and support. If you have any questions please drop us and email and we will be happy to help. Stay safe!
Supplying Images and Files to your Designer
August 19th, 2019
When building a website it’s hugely important to have the images and files you need before the build takes place. Websites are a very visual medium and with the right images, you will be on the road to a successful website design! There are many different files out there and if it’s not something you do every day, it’s hard to know what the right ones to use are. This article gives you a brief guide to images and files.
Why Do I Need To Supply Images Or Files?
Images and files are an important part of creating a design. As discussed in our previous blog article about the importance of content before design, designers need your content to create effective design. As a website is a visual medium, great quality images can enhance the impact your website has on your visitors. As well as images, any downloadable documents you need for the site should also be supplied. If you have a free PDF to give away to entice potential customers, or even educational documents that your existing customers may need to download – these should be supplied. Not only would your designer need these to create the functionality you require for them, but the design of the document could also give them an idea of your tastes and brand identity.
What Files Types Are There And What Do They Do?
The most common files types you will encounter are PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, PSD, AI and EPS. Below is a brief description of what each files are and what they are best used for.
PDF – PDF stands for ‘Portable Document format’. This is typically used for capturing a printed document into a digital format file and is ideal things like brochures, menus and product information sheets. This format is widely supported and can be opened in most website browsers and devices.
JPG – JPG or JPEG stands for ‘Joint Photographic Experts Group’, the creators of the file format. These files types are useful for websites, social media graphics and emails as they can be compressed quite easily and their files sizes are relatively small in comparison to other files formats. If you supply a large and high quality JPG file to your designer, they can then be used anywhere and compressed.
PNG – PNG stands for ‘Portable Network Graphic’. A PNG can hold transparency, making this file type ideal for logo files. This means your logo can have a clear background which can overlay branding materials, website banners or photographs, so you don’t have a white or colour box behind. PNG files use a limited amount of colours, making it less suitable for busy images and more ideal for simple vector graphics.
GIF – GIF stands for ‘Graphics Interchange Format’. This file format is typically used for creating animated images.
TIFF – TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. This format is typically used for print and is a large file size as they are not compressed. Scanned files are often saved in this format. This format is not ideal for websites due to its large file size however your designer will be able to convert it to something more suitable just as a JPG.
PSD – PSD stands for ‘Photoshop Document’. This document would have been created in Adobe Photoshop. This file is editable in Adobe Photoshop as it holds its layers if they haven’t been merged before saving. If you have your logo PSD file from your graphic designer, this is great to supply as your website designer can edit this appropriately if needed. Your designer can then export this file to the required format needed for website use.
AI – AI stands for ‘Adobe Illustrator Artwork’. This document would have been created in Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is used to create vector graphics such as logos and illustrations. This is a useful file to supply to your designer or a printer; if they need to they can edit the file in its origin software. They will also be able to scale the graphic in the file without losing its quality. Your designer can then export this file to the required format needed for website use.
EPS – EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. This file typically contains vector graphics such as logos and illustrations. If you have an EPS file of your logo from designer, this would be great to supply to another designer or a printer. EPS files can be opened in programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator or CorelDRAW which means they can be edited and scaled bigger if needed. Your designer can then export this file to the required format needed for website use.
What Are the Ideal Files Sizes of a Website
For all websites the main goal is to optimise speed. The smaller your file size the quicker your website will load, which will also help with your website ranking. As a client, you shouldn’t need to worry about making the files suitable for website – that’s where we come in. We recommend the bigger the better. Your website designer can optimise your images for web use and choose the right compression so that you do not lose too much of the quality while making the sizes smaller. What we always tell our customers is that it’s better for your images to be too big than too small. We can make a large size image smaller and retain quality but you can’t make a small file bigger as it will lose quality.
The one thing you do need to consider is the versatility of your image and what you would like to use them for. For example, your product images might suit portrait orientation better but your banner image would work better landscape. You couldn’t use a portrait image for a landscape area as you would lose most of what the image is trying to show.
What’s the Best Way to Share My Images With My Designer?
There are many ways you can share your images with your designer. Some companies might have their own online upload page for you to upload your images and files to; this is very handy and keeps them all in one place and ensures you that they won’t get lost. If an online upload page isn’t an option, there are also many online file sharing platforms available such as Dropbox or Onedrive. One of our favourite ways to transfer files outside our online uploader, is wetransfer. It’s free to use and allows you to send up to 2GB per email. Not only that, it sends you an email to let you know when the files have been downloaded by the recipient and also sends you a reminder to let you know if they haven’t so you can chase them up.
What if I Don’t Have Any Images
If you don’t have any images, there are image libraries available for you to purchase images. Some companies might offer image upgrades. This could be beneficial as they might have a deal with a stock image company and can get you a better deal which would save you money. Some of our packages include photo packs and those which don’t you can add it as a bolt-on.
Importance of Content Before Design
July 26th, 2019
Content is an important part of design, as a website design company our job is to communicate your information effectively. This article explains what is content, why it is important for your design and how it can affect your website if you don’t have content prepared for your designer.
What Is Content?
Let’s start with the basics and establish what exactly content is. When it comes to a website the content includes the text, images, videos and links that are placed on a page. Content is what gives a website a purpose, it helps potential customers understand your business and how they can use your services.
Why It’s Important?
Content is the foundation of a website. The purpose of design is to communicate this content effectively. This means to create an effective design it is important to have the content carefully thought out at the beginning of the process, before any design elements are considered. Content can help a designer realise the purpose of a page and enable them to put an appropriate layout in place.
Finding out the level of content and how often it will need to be updated can impact the design of the pages and navigation structure of a website. People might visit your site because it looks nice, but they’ll return because of the quality of the content and how easily they can find the information they need.
The Risks of No Content Before Design
Your content doesn’t fit – One of the highest risks of having no content at the beginning of the build of your site is that when you come to add your content it may not fit; you will be trying to get a square peg into a round hole. Using placeholder text and images is a common solution for no content, but a risky one. They can be used to give the illusion of content, however without a sense of purpose, when it comes to adding the real content it is unlikely it will have the same fit.
Poor communication – If the design is not built around your prepared content, it might not be communicating your message effectively as you are forced to fit your content around the design.
Unwanted costs – You may have to go back to the designer to make alterations to accommodate your content when it is ready to be added. This extra work will come at a cost. Being prepared with content eliminates that risk.
Increased build time – Lack of content before the design can result in a more time-consuming process. If more time is taken on making sure content in your brief is correct, the designers will be aware of what you are trying to say and how best to communicate it. This will result in a quicker first draft and fewer amendments, saving much more time further into the process of getting your site Live.
The Benefits of Having Content Before Design
Professional looking site – Your designer will be able to tailor the site to your content, using the message within the text and visual elements to complement each other.
Effective communication – If the designer is able to see the purpose of your site and the message you are trying to convey, they are able to use the design of the website to effectively communicate this.
Easier to manage – If the designer is aware of the type of content you need on your site and how frequently it needs to be updated, this can be taken in to account when getting the design in place. They can make sure the correct page types and layouts are used to help you manage your content accordingly.
Quicker process – With the content being provided upfront, the designer will know what they are dealing with straight away and can come up with solutions on how to effectively present your content in the first draft. More often than not this will result in needing fewer amendments to the initial design, which gets you on your way to getting the site Live much quicker. That little bit of extra time spent at the beginning of the process will make the rest of it much easier.
Due Diligence With Your New Website Designer
June 3rd, 2019
One of the most frustrating things for us is not being chosen to build a website for a customer when we know we’re the perfect match for them. What’s even more frustrating is when a customer chooses an alternative designer who’s made misleading claims. The majority of our customers are small or start-up businesses and so are often working with a tight budget. Most of these companies will not have the funds to go through multiple design processes with different designers and so if it doesn’t work out, it could potentially make or break their business.
Below, we have put together a list of things we recommend checking before choosing your web designer to help ensure there are no unwelcome surprises.
1. How Long Have They Been Trading?
Do a bit of research to see how long the web designer has been in business. We know that age isn’t everything, but a long running business can indicate whether or not their business model is sustainable. This is important because a high proportion of businesses fail in their first few years and so you want to make sure you don’t find yourself without a website if the worst happens.
2. Check If They Are They A Limited Company
Generally, a more established business will choose to be a limited company. This means that their business is a legal entity in its own right. If a company is not limited, they are Sole Traders. Sole Traders are not a legal entity and technically you’re entering a legal contract with a person rather than a business. A limited company is more likely to stick around whereas a sole trader might just be providing the services temporarily. To spot if a company is limited, legally they should include their company name and company number on the footer of their website. You can check this against the Companies House database to confirm their address or to see if they even exist. You can find the Companies House website here: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company.
3. Check If They Are VAT Registered
By law, companies in the UK that have a turnover of 85K and over must be VAT registered. If a company is VAT registered, this should be displayed on their website. A company turning over less than 85K a year can still become VAT registered. This can sometimes suggest a small company is bigger than they are however it does provide an indication that they a committed to the business since being VAT registered does give them additional administrative burdens. You can check their company VAT number to see if it is valid. You can do this using this website: http://www.vatcheck.eu/
4. Look For Their Address On Their Website
Check their company address is on their website. It’s important that in the event you need to address things formally, you have a way to write to them. It can also help you confirm if they are really based where they say they are e.g. a designer may claim to be in the UK but in fact they are not.
5. Research Their Reviews And Feedback
Reviews can be a useful way to tell if a company is genuine. Type the company name into Google and see if there are any reviews on sites such as Trustpilot. Be aware that all companies have good and bad reviews. It’s not possible to please everyone, so the occasional bad review is nothing to be alarmed by. However, if a company has a high number of bad reviews relative to good, this is a red flag.
6. Consider Calling Some Of Their Customers
A company will always show off its more raving reviews. It might be worth considering calling a customer of the designer quoting you. This might give you a more honest review of their service, as you only ever see a short snippet of their experience. Calling more than one customer is ideal to paint a complete picture. It’s possible that you could call the one in a thousand who is unhappy over the thousand happy customers. This will give you a good indication if a company is genuine and work to a high standard.
7. Do They Make Incorrect or Misleading Claims?
Make sure you compare companies. If a company make bold claims, it’s worth being suspicious and checking it out. For example, some companies claim to be the only website design company to provide SSL with their website build. However, many website companies include SSL as standard. Another frequent claim that we hear is ‘I was told by another company I would be guaranteed first on Google’. In reality, no one can make this promise. There are thousands of businesses out there and everyone wants to be number one. Companies can help improve your SEO but can’t guarantee top stop. Make sure you do some research and fact checking on these type of claims.
8. Do They Tell You How It Is?
Be wary of companies who just tell you what you want to hear. A designer who gives you an honest appraisal sets a good foundation for the future relationship.
Hopefully these tips will help you make the right choice when choosing your web designer. Of course this list is not exhaustive and in the end you should trust your intuition. If something doesn’t look right, continue your search until you find a company you feel confident working with.
Launching Your New Website – Part 3
January 28th, 2019
Launching a new business website or getting a re-design of an existing one can be very daunting. To help with the process we’ve put together a series of short articles to help you be prepared and to help make sure you make an informed choice when selecting your website designer.
Questions to Ask Website Design Companies
Asking the right questions is important when making a decision on which website design company to work with. It’s often hard to know where to begin and what are the most important things you need to ask. Below we have put together a checklist of the questions we think you should ask when getting quotes.
Is the web designer based in the UK?
If quick and easy communication is important, a UK based team is probably better for you.Often very low prices are achieved by outsourcing the design and/or support overseas. Check where your designer is located and ask how easy it will be to speak to them if you need to discuss anything.
What marketing help do they include?
Getting your website built is only really part of the story when looking for your website to be successful . After your website has been produced it is good to know what support is in place. The marketing of your new website is a key part of maximising it’s potential. Ask about what ongoing support is included and if they include serach engine optmisation.
What are the ongoing costs, including costs after the first year?
Every website has ongoing costs and so there will always be some sort of ongoing fee. It’s good to check what these will be in the first year and if it is the same for the years to follow. For example sometimes hosting is included in the first year but you have to pay extra after the year ends.
Will the website be mobile friendly?
A mobile responsive website is important. A mobile responsive website is one which adjusts its layout depending on the screen size it is being viewed on. This means mobile and desktop visitors all get a great experience. Your website will probably receive at least as much traffic from mobiles and tablets as it does from desktop computers. Ensure that your website has a ‘responsive design’. This is also an important search engine ranking factor.
How long has the web designer been in business?
Finding out about a company’s history can give you confidence in their service. Check how long the company has been in business. You might see a great deal from a very new company but you run the risk that their untested business model may fail leaving you in the lurch.
What are their reviews like?
This is more of a research question then a direct question to your potential designer. Search Google for ‘Reviews about…’ or ‘Complaints about…’ this could save a lot of pain in the future.
This article forms part of a sequence of articles regarding launching your new website. Visit our blog to view the latest parts as soon as they are available.