Email marketing pioneers like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and others have really opened up and democratized what had been previously a somewhat mysterious and closed process for non technical marketers by creating easy to use template based approaches to creating content. This, along with their generally great job of building robust products and companies, has propelled them to scale great heights in terms of popularity and market penetration. By giving non technical folks tools to build good looking, well designed HTML email campaigns, services like these have “Crossed the Chasm” from just use by early techie adopters into mainstream business tools used by marketers of all sizes and stripes everywhere. Today, as email marketing has become standard fare and forward looking firms are investing in marketing automation, the template driven approach to HTML design is being applied many new things, including landing pages, microsites, social media and mobile campaigns. If you look around, templates, template editors and template driven design is everywhere in the marketing world. Boingnet Templates are no exception,
A brief look around at the selection of templates available from vendors gives the impression that the more templates, the merrier. Both Constant Contact and MailChimp offer the ability to browse through hundreds of templates to help marketers get started on on building their email campaigns. As we at Boingnet are preparing our next release, Boingnet V2, we have been spending a lot of time thinking about the process of building a landing page, email campaign or another type of template driven activity. We offer dozens of templates today, and it might seem like we should ramp up the template production to hit the “hundreds” mark that some of the other great companies have built. Like most things, however, we are reaching a different conclusion.
One of the things we’ve discovered when browsing through template libraries (needing to use a term like “libraries” is a hint of where we are going) is that it is actually really hard to make a good decision about which template to pick. When users click through pages and pages of different designs, the process can become completely overwhelming, and it makes it really easy to lose sight of brand and campaign goals, as well as design fundamentals. We’re really excited about our Boingnet V2 template editor, as it has a very different way of walking a user through the template selection process. In addition to the things that make the current Boingnet template editor so useful and powerful (template copying, full HTML editing, variable data and personalization), in Boingnet V2, we are rethinking the way that users decide how to choose a template, turning it into a process that we believe will result in better design decisions with less “template angst” from having to hunt and peck through hundreds of different choices. Stay tuned for more details soon – we’re “pumped & jacked” (in the words of a former Patriots coach) to offer a rethought template editing process soon.
Can Google+ help you market your business?
Boingnet has been working over the past month or so at preparing for our version 2 launch, as readers know. As a part of the preparation, we’ve started the process of creating a presence on Google+. Like most businesses or even most humans, the reach of Google and the pervasiveness of Google’s integration of Google+ into it’s blockbuster properties makes it hard not to at least pay attention to it.
To date, we’ve been posting content on Google+ via Hootsuite, with little variation between what gets posted vs. our other primary social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). We hope over time to develop unique audiences in each of these channels and to treat them completely independently, but at this point, we are early in the process and we are still feeling out the best ways to maximize the impact of each social platform.
We have found some unique qualities and capabilities of G+ (I hope Google doesn’t mind us referring to their darling in the familiar). First, we do appreciate that Google has realized that pages for businesses are somewhat different than pages for people. Facebook seems to struggle with this concept. Second, if you are a local retail business, you MUST SET UP A G+ PAGE. Simply put, Google will feature you in Search and Maps much more prominently than if you haven’t taken the time to set up your page. You want people near you to find you when it is time for them to buy. It’s a bit of a pain (involves a robo call and multiple steps for you to authenticate yourself) but it is worth it. It is especially important for your customers to leave positive comments as a local business, these will further help you stand out in Search & Maps. Finally, for businesses like Boingnet, which isn’t a local retailer, Google has created a concept called Direct Connect (did they talk to Nextel first?) that enables users of Google Search (meaning every human with a computer, tablet or smartphone) to see your G+ page pop up as a part of a Search result. Those of us who spend lots of time trying to figure out how to get Google to give us more publicity for free should pay attention!
Google+ is supposed to be building an audience – we hope that it works for them. As developers, we find Google easy to work with, and, the world of social media needs a behemoth like Google to keep it honest. Do you have any thoughts on G+? Any successes or failures? Let us know.
UPDATE: Clearly, the full affect of Google+ Authorship is still being measured, but by all accounts, if you want your content to show up in Google Searches – you are much better off claiming authorship of things like blog posts. This is a no brainer for anyone in the content marketing world. If you are creating content but haven’t set up your authorship – Get On It!
We at Boingnet like to think of ourselves as somewhat contrarian (building a great tech software company on the South Shore of Boston rather than in Cambridge?). As those of us who have made careers in the tech business know, often the conventional wisdom of what works in tech is a self reverberating echo chamber (emanating primarily from a stretch of office parks between San Francisco & San Jose CA). We always get a kick out of reports that upset the apple cart, and found one last night that certainly fits the bill.