Web-to-email forms

Why Do Web-to-Email Contact Forms Stop Working?

Email contact forms on websites are notoriously bad at just … working! They work one day and just suddenly stop working the next. Usually the first you know about it is when you notice that you haven’t had any email enquiries from your website for a while.

Here are some tips on why email contact forms stop working and what to do about it! This is non-technical article, so you won’t need to be a geek to make use of it.

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Website Support Contracts

Website Support Contracts – What You Should Know

So – you’ve found a website maintenance company who have the perfect tech skills to help you. Great! Hang on though, before charging in, here are a few tips on how to get the best website support contract for you with your chosen web support team.

Dodgy contract clauses to watch out for
  • Long lock-ins and punitive termination clauses
  • Front-loaded payment structures
  • Hidden automatic price rises
  • Lack of accountability/reporting
  • Terms which don’t reflect the deal you’ve agreed pre-contract

It’s not surprising that more businesses are outsourcing their website support requirements. The role of maintaining and developing websites has traditionally been filled either by IT departments (who are usually more focussed on hardware and networking) or external web developers (who are focussed on new website builds, not maintenance).

But IT departments are looking increasingly a “thing of the past”. Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service give us IT that’s essentially self-fixing. As a result, it’s getting harder to say exactly who is supposed to look after the corporate website. And that’s why website support companies exist.

The website support contract will therefore be an essential requirement for many small-medium business in the next few years. It’s going to be important to get it right.

How long will the contract last?

The first question most customers ask is how long they will be tied in for. Many website support providers will ask for contracts of at least six months. Shorter contracts, such as rolling month-to-month deals, are more flexible, and keep customers happy and providers sharp and at the top of their game. Whatever you feel comfortable with, make sure it’s clearly stated in your contract, otherwise you risk being locked in for longer than you need to be.

Confidentiality and intellectual property (IP)

You are going to be sharing some extremely sensitive information, including usernames and passwords, with your provider. You’ll be giving them access to your systems at a very high level. Therefore confidentiality and data protection are incredibly important and this should also be reflected with a robust confidentiality clause in the contract.

In addition, your provider may be creating intellectual property such as images, logos, designs. These will all belong to you – no arguments. Make sure your rights to own all IP created during the course of the contract is stipulated.

Your responsibilities

Website support is more of a two-way relationship than you might imagine. Whilst the aim of the game is always to remove the burden of work and expertise from you, you will have some responsibilities in this relationship too (shock!) These should be discussed at the outset and mentioned in the contract. For example, you might want a clause which ties your provider into responding within a certain timeframe (say 24 hours).

Having said that, you’ll need to make sure there’s somebody on your side who can provide the information your provider needs to get on with their work. This is especially true when it comes to feedback on the work your provider delivers. Feedback is essential in almost all aspects of website maintenance – without feedback the project cannot progress.

There will be a steady flow of email/phone calls/texts/Skype/whatever your chosen channel of communication might be. It’s sensible to ensure the chosen methods of communication are also agreed in the contract.

Task listManaging multiple tasks and priorities

You will want your provider to work on many different tasks, often simultaneously. Different tasks will have different priorities, and these priorities can change often. Sometimes priorities will conflict with each other. Deadlines will need to be met. It all points to one thing – effective project management.

Ask your prospective provider what project management software they use, or what systems they employ to ensure a high throughput of work. Don’t be shy of requesting a breakdown of all the tasks on their list at any time. Whatever the system you agree on, it’s wise to ensure that the details are set out in your contract so that expectations are clear.

If you can, set aside 30 minutes each week or at least each month for a phone call or video meeting. Your provider should be available via at least phone, email, Skype and Google Hangouts, if not in person. Availability should be specified in the contract.

Managing expectations

Expectations can differ quite widely when it comes to engaging a support provider. It’s kind of unknown territory even in this day and age. Your provider should listen to your requirements carefully, and echo them back to you in writing before a contract is entered into.

Reviewing the contract

We recommend a review at least once a year to ensure that the relationship is healthy and working for both parties. Adjustments can always be made – more time, less time, more support hours, less support hours – so it’s good to diarise a day for a review meeting every so often.

As regards prices, they should not necessarily stay static from year to year, and you should expect prices to rise, at least in line with inflation.

Contracts for website maintenanceGuarantees

The work your support provider delivers should be nothing short of exceptionally high quality. How will the provider guarantee this consistent level of quality from month to month, year after year? Guarantees on quality should therefore be built into the contract.

For example, if your provider (heaven forfend) should knock your website offline, will they be available to bring it back online again immediately, no matter what time of day or night?

Backups and disaster recovery

If you are working with a website support provider, you will expect them to take reasonable care of your website.

Be wary of any company that doesn’t insist on regular website backups and test restores. Websites can be erased from the web with the touch of a button. Although your support company are highly unlikely to be the culprit (it’s much more likely that your hosting company will be to blame), you’ll want to turn to your support company in this emergency situation. For this, they’ll need a recent backup – not one that’s five years old!

Should the worst happen and your website is damaged, you’ll want to refer back to the contract to ensure that your provider is obliged to set it right.

FriendshipBottom line: it’s all about the relationship

Your relationship with your web support company is (hopefully) going to last a long time. Ultimately all contracts are designed to ensure that human beings fulfil their promises.

Your contract should provide basic legal protections but if you get the right relationship you’ll never need to worry about that contract.

What happens if the relationship breaks down?

It’s sad but true, website support relationships can break down. This eventuality needs to be considered. In particular, your contract should cover:

  • What happens to the confidential information that’s been shared with the support company?
  • If there’s going to be a handover to another support company, how will this be handled?
  • What post-contract error-correction period will there be (if any?)

Conclusion

A website support contract should be flexible and provide an agreement on the level of service that your supplier will provide. It will set out expectations on both sides, including the responsibilities of both parties. It will provide protection in the case of emergency, and include a disaster recovery plan. Once signed, it should be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Image credits

Featured image: Designed by Freepik

Designed by Freepik

Designed by Freepik

Website management

What Do Website Management Companies Do?

A good website management company should make your life easier by taking away the burden of maintaining your website. If you’re thinking about engaging a company which provides website management services, this article will give some pointers on what to look for and what you should expect them to deliver.

Website management involves a wide range of activities, from creating new pages and images, analysing user data, suggesting improvements, keeping you legal and secure and ensuring your website performs optimally.

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Why does my website say "Not Secure"?

Why Does My Website Say “Not Secure”?

https encryption

To remove the “Not Secure” warning from your website, and replace it with the trusted “green padlock”, you need to install an SSL certificate.

Your website will be flagged as “Not Secure” in a web browser if it does not provide any encryption of the data which passes between the website user and the site.

This data could include things like usernames and passwords, data captured in online forms, comments, credit card details, or any other kind of data, including simply requesting web pages from the site. Read more

domain name extensions

How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name

If you own a business, you know that every detail of how you present yourself is crucial. First impressions count. Very often, the first time a new customer will encounter you is via email or your website, and the first thing they see is your domain name.

There are already 300 million registered domains. So finding one which stands out and represents you perfectly is vital. After 20 years of advising customers on registering domains, here is our best advice.

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WordPress Yoast SEO MySql query

Auditing WordPress Websites for SEO with Yoast and MySQL

Let’s say you run WordPress with the Yoast SEO plugin. As time goes on you add hundreds of posts and pages. Some of these will have strong SEO titles and metas, some less so. It’s impractical to use the WordPress interface to audit them all.

You could use a site audit tool such as Screaming Frog, but this may not identify all content on your site, especially if there are no links to it. But this content could potentially appear in a site search even if not linked.

Here’s a MySQL query which will pull this information straight from your MySQL database so you can export it into an Excel document or CSV file, and hand off to somebody else for auditing.

select p.id, p.post_type, p.post_status, p.post_title, u.display_name as 'author', p.post_modified as 'last_modified', concat('https://www.yoursite.com/', post_name, '/') as 'url',
(select meta_value from wp_postmeta pm where pm.post_id = p.id and pm.meta_key = '_yoast_wpseo_title') as 'seo_title',
(select meta_value from wp_postmeta pm where pm.post_id = p.id and pm.meta_key = '_yoast_wpseo_metadesc') as 'seo_metadesc',
(select meta_value from wp_postmeta pm where pm.post_id = p.id and pm.meta_key = '_yoast_wpseo_focuskw') as 'seo_focus_keyword',
(select meta_value from wp_postmeta pm where pm.post_id = p.id and pm.meta_key = '_yoast_wpseo_content_score') as 'seo_score'
from wp_posts p
inner join wp_users u on p.post_author = u.id
where (post_type = 'page' or post_type = 'post')
and post_status = 'publish'
order by post_type asc, post_modified asc

This only shows published posts (not those in the trash or draft).

This will give you a list of posts and pages, together with their titles, URLs, and Yoast SEO title, meta descriptions, focus keyword and content score.

Enjoy!

Find out about our Search Engine Optimisation and WordPress maintenance services.

Pros and cons of outsourced webmastering

Outsourced Website Maintenance – Pros and Cons

More and more businesses are discovering the advantages of outsourcing their website maintenance. So what’s it all about and what are the pros and cons of outsourced website maintenance? Read more

AdWords Geo-targetting

Best Strategy and Tips for Local AdWords

Google AdWords is one of the best tools for driving traffic to a website quickly. But it can be a money-pit. We want to find the perfect balance between getting traffic and not spending too much money.

One way is to ensure that you are advertising the best geographical area. This article gives some tips on local AdWords.  Read more

5 Things Your Business Should Not Ignore

Business owners – you know that there are a million-and-one things that need doing that are unconnected with what the business actually does. From accounting, to recruiting, to legal compliance, to managing staff and marketing … it goes on and on. It all conspires to eat up your time and drive you slowly crazy. But most of these non-core activities are best left in the hands of specialist professionals. This includes growing and managing your online presence.

Often the online side of business is delegated to employees who have to take time out from their official roles to send out a mailshot or tweet a few things from the company account. This achieves little and could be using up valuable employee time.

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Do I Really Need to be on Twitter?

What do Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Craig and Keira Knightley have in common? Answer: none of them are on Twitter. Can we learn anything from these stars of the silver screen?

Do we really need to be on Twitter?

It’s a question that we are asked by nearly all of our new customers. Very often they feel they don’t really “get” Twitter, but they are constantly being told they need to be on it regardless of whether they see what all the fuss is about or not!

We think that, just like everything connected with social media, the answer lies in whether it brings you closer to your business goals, and if so, whether it is the best use of time and resources.

So we compiled some questions to help you decide whether your business needs to be on Twitter at all.

Are your customers on the move?

If your customers are always on the move, they’re far more likely to look something up online on their smartphones rather than a desktop computer.

Twitter is perfect for on-the-go customers who prefer bite-sized information. Known in the marketing world as ‘micro moments‘, these small amounts of time (literally minutes seconds) spent quickly looking something up on a smartphone are extremely valuable to businesses. On average we have 150 micro moments per day each!

Recent Google studies have shown that up to 40% of customers who research a product or service on their smartphone then go on to purchase from a desktop computer later. This shows that although a sale may not be made as soon as a customer reads your tweet from a smartphone – they’re far more likely to stick with your brand once are ready to buy.

special-offer

Do your customers respond to offers and promotions?

Everyone loves a good discount – and the social media marketing world is no exception. In fact, spreading the news of a special promotion on social media is a great place to advertise to your customers for free! Twitter and Facebook are often used to give loyal social followers extra offers just for social channels. You may have seen tweets of this nature:

“Enter the code TWITTER15 to get an extra 15% off today only!”

Rewarding additional brand loyalty – e.g., following on Twitter – is an excellent way to win repeat custom from an increasingly dedicated customer base.

Get to know your Twitter customer habits

To make an informed decision on whether your business will really benefit from using Twitter, it’s worth looking around for some solid evidence that it works for businesses. Luckily, we’ve already done that! Here are some great insights recently revealed about the UK Twittersphere:

UK’s top reasons for following a brand on Twitter:

  • 68% – to keep up to date with the latest news about the brand
  • 68% – to receive offers/competitions
  • 63% – to receive more information related to my personal interest

From these stats, we can see that there are lots of people who emotionally invest in a brand to the extent that they want to be kept up to date with news, events, offers and deals. It makes sense to cater to this loyal group of customers on Twitter – doesn’t it?

Twitter is also a great informal place to add some more of your business’s character. This is a great opportunity to treat your loyal customers to extra info such as behind the scenes shots, sneak previews of new product lines and personalised messages to engage customers. This all helps build the persona of the brand.

 

customer-service

Are you prepared to use Twitter as customer support?

Invariably even though you planned to use Twitter to promote your business, your customers may have other ideas. Frequently when complaints go unheeded through the “normal” channels, customers take to Twitter to air their grievance in public.

Being able to quickly respond to a customer’s tweet could save the reputation of your business as the world will see you’re there ready to resolve their issues. People will put much more faith in the services of a pro-active business whether it’s saying thank you to a positive tweet, or giving support to a negative one.

The likelihood that people are already talking about your brand or business online is very high – whether you are on Twitter or not! Creating a Twitter account is a great way of spinning these situations into positives with fast-replying and helpful social engagement. You may even gain additional customers impressed by your attentiveness towards customers online …

Since its birth in 2006, Twitter has outgrown its fledgling stage of “digital shouting” from its users saying what they had for breakfast to a fantastic, free marketing tool. Investing time and budget to get your business on Twitter may be the best digital decision you ever make!

For more advice on online marketing and websites, have a look at our blog. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.