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Automated Emails

Email services for your website

Why would my website need to send emails?

To send automatic notifications for visitor transactions e.g. when someone registers or fills out a form on your website. You may also want to send bulk emails for marketing purposes.

Why not use another website?

If you're lucky the data you need to send your mass/bulk emails is already stored in a database on your website. For many website owners, the information submitted by visitors to their page is sent via email and never stored anywhere else. 

Even if the data is on your website, it may not be straightforward to download and format the information in a way that can be used by something like MailChimp. In the case of personal client information - you want not even want to upload it to another website.

Why can't I just use my existing email service?

In recent months, some better equipped websites with built-in databases and automatic email generation have not been able to send emails using their existing free email providers. Some email services have drastically reduced the number of free emails you can send per day and offer paid packages to increase the usage limits. Others are blocking automatically generated emails and offing paid packages for this purpose.

How do I setup this email service?

If you haven't already, get a custom domain domain name and email address. See our earlier article on how to get a free custom email from zoho.com.

Signup for SendGrid.com and configure your domain and website. This configurations are will prevent your emails being marked as SPAM. SendGrid provides detailed documentation and support but feel free to contact us for assistance with this.

What's the cost?

SendGrid's services are free for up to 100 messages per day.

In the first month you are allowed to send up to 40,000 messages. After a month, you can purchase 40,000 emails per month for about $15 US - or keep the 100 per day limit forever.

Are there any alternatives to SendGrid?

There are a few, most notably, MailChimp, Zoho and SendInBlue. SendGrid is just our choice because the paid plan is more affordable in some cases and the support is better in others.

Custom Professional Email

A free business-class email address for you@yourdomain.com

In most cases, a custom email address with your own domain name comes at a cost. This means, if you want a me@mybusiness.com email address you will likely need to pay for this. For this reason, many micro-entrepreneurs, startups, professional consultants, charities and other organizations in Trinidad and Tobago use free email addresses to conduct their business e.g. mybusinessTT@freemail.com.

Even though most website owners find these free email addresses a little unprofessional, they use them anyway ... because they are free.

Thanks to Zoho.com you can obtain a free email which uses your custom domain name. By using Zoho mail, you can have up to five mailboxes using myname@mybusiness.com - at no cost. Zoho provides a fully featured webmail comparable with any of the free mailboxes we're accustomed to.

Of course if you would like more than five inboxes or email access to via your favorite email client you can upgrade for as little as $1 US per inbox per month - but your free inboxes remain free forever.

Automatically Email News

Automatic Mass Emails

Keeping regular communications with your clients is a little easier when some of the process is automated. You also want to keep your website updated with new information to help both search engines and potential customers to find your business. Both can be accomplished with this handy feature available to our customers.

When you upload a new blog or news item to your website. The system will generate an email campaign and send it to the users previously specified.

The email can be personalized with the name, email and other information of the users. Additional data from the website can also be included e.g.latest products.

Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS)

Simply put, a Content Management System (CMS) is a set of user-friendly tools for administering a website with limited technical knowledge. CMSs have been adopted by many small business website operators because their features offer several key benefits over traditional builds.

Component Architecture

CMSs are typically composed of several discrete components. This offers the following benefits:

  • Faster deployment - the components are pre-built
  • Flexibility - many components are available for the same purpose and the interface can be changed without rebuilding the website entirely
  • Scalability - new features can typically be added as new components without having to rebuild the website or take it down for an extended period

Open Source (Free)

The majority of CMS systems have are fully or at least partially free software. This puts the cost of professional grade websites within the reach of many small business operators and; makes it easier to find technical assistance for deploying this system.

Point-and-click Management Tools

Making it possible for non-technical users to manage a website significantly reduces both the cost of entry and maintenance. There is no need to:

  • Fund internal staff or outsourcing
  • Wait on feedback from professional webmasters

for regular website updates. Operators of CMS-based websites typically maintain updated content at a far lower cost than traditional custom builds.

Responsive Website Design

Responsive Website Design (RWD) is a must

Responsive web design (RWD) is a modern technique that enables a website to change its appearance based on the device viewing it (desktop, tablets, mobile phones). Responsive design has become an essential feature of modern websites as more than half the traffic on the Internet now comes from mobile devices. Here are some key features of a responsive interface:

Menu

  • Collapses to a button on small screens which opens to reveal the complete menu in a drop down
  • The menu bar remains fixed on the top of the screen so that users can access it even while scrolling to the bottom of the page

Form fields and content

  • Display horizontally on large screens but vertically on small screens
  • Display help within the form field itself to save screen space
  • Adjustable in width to prevent horizontal scrolling or the need for zooming (pinching) on small devices
  • Text remains consistently sized on all devices to maintain readability
  • Form labels also disappear on small screens to save space (not fully implemented)

Buttons and labels

  • Icons are displayed alongside button text
  • To save screen space on small devices the button text disappears leaving only icons

Research has shown that mobile users are more likely purchase on a mobile-optimized site and also likely to leave if the site is not mobile-friendly. Current website operators should retrofit their existing website with a responsive interface if it can't be rebuilt altogether. All new website builds should definitely incorporate responsive website design.

DSLR Cameras

Options for In-house Photography

Taking high quality photos is a basic marketing function for any business managing a website. Primarily you will need to capture representations of your products and services. You may also want to capture some images of your facilities and staff if this is key to your core offerings. There are several option for photo and image capture. The one you choose depends on your intended use, abilities and of course ... budget.

Options for video and photo capture

  • Entry level Digital SLR (DSLR) Camera
  • High end point-and-shoot cameras.
  • Smart phones and tablets

Many high-end smart-phones have built-in photo and video capability. This works well for blog posts and social media however these photos are often inadequately lit, focused and too low-resolution for professional graphic editing. A good point-and-shoot camera will have a proper flash, lens, image stabilization, shooting options and other technical features to dramatically improve image and video quality. Most professional photographers prefer DSLRs but these are a little more technical than point-and-shoot cameras. Particularly, DSLRs don't have the large viewfinders you will find on point-and-shoots.

The Nikon D3300 is a good entry-level DSLR. The photo quality is excellent for all most purposes and it also captures high-definition video. You may want to purchase some accessories including lenses, tripod and a microphone. However you decide to, ensure that you have a steady source of quality photos for your website.

How much is your time worth?

How much is your time worth?

We received a call not too long ago from potential customer who wanted us to set-up a website on his own server in an attempt to avoid the monthly subscription. At first thought this may seem a good idea but ... is he really saving any money here? Lets compare the cost of his do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to that of a subscribed user.

So, how would most new business enter the web? Start with what they know ... email and social media, then get a website.

Many do-it-yourself productions use a free email provider (like Gmail). The Facebook page will look different from the Twitter which looks different from the website and; you can usually tell right away from the graphics that nothing was professionally done.

This DIY web-presence does not establish confidence in new customers which is sad given that the businessperson sacrifices many hours each week, reading tutorials, tinkering with HTML and Microsoft paint. All for a result that's nothing close to what a professional can accomplish in a few minutes.

On the other hand our customer will have a company email address and matching professional graphics on his website, Facebook and Twitter. His website is up and running in no time because he didn't spend many hours agonizing over technical details. When he needs help, he calls or emails support and spends the time saved looking for new customers who are very impressed with his professional web presence.

Our potential customer was trying to save $230 TT per month, less that $10 US per week. Our question is ... how much is your time really worth?

Is $10 a week really worth the hours on Google every-time you have an issue.

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Tip: Check your page speed

Most Internet users will leave your website if it does not load in 8 seconds or less. Roughly 9 of 10 will not return after this bad experience.

Check your website's speed with this tool and compare it to your competition. If you are looking to purchase web services, check them first to check that they operate efficiently.

A fast website is easy to use on smartphones and tablets - very important since the majority of people use the Internet from their mobile devices. We must ensure they can read and navigate your website.

To learn more about what makes a fast website visit https://hbc.services/Speed.

We also contribute charity work to deserving non-profits, charities and schools. Contact us for a chance to WIN A FREE WEBSITE for yourself, school or organization!

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Is your website mobile-freindly?

A mobile-friendly website is easy to read on smartphones and tablets. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see if a website is mobile-friendly.

Google will punish your website for not being mobile-friendly by making it harder to find. More importantly, the larger portion of people use the Internet from their mobile devices. We must ensure they can read and navigate your website.

Check your website with this tool and compare it to your competition. If you are looking to buy a website, check it first; at least check the website of the person you are going to hire.

To learn more about what makes a mobile friendly website visit https://hbc.services/Design.

We also contribute charity work to deserving non-profits, charities and schools. Contact us for a chance to WIN A FREE WEBSITE for yourself, school or organization!

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5 Reasons Every Job Seeker Needs an Online Portfolio

Every serious job seeker should create an on-line portfolio. Forbes once published that 56 percent of hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s on-line portfolio than any other personal branding tool. Unfortunately, only 7 percent of applicants have created an on-line resume.

There are some very good reasons for an on-line resume:

  • It helps you stand out. Only 7 percent of candidates have one so your interviewer is unlikely to have seen anything like it and will be impressed by your innovation. Simply sending your resume from you@yourwebsite.com is quite a first impression.
  • It makes you easier to find and contact. Potential employers can search for you on-line and to check your resume at any time from any computer or mobile device. Anyone can send you an email from right on your page. Businesspeople always prefer those who make things easier and faster.
  • It creates more job opportunities by allowing companies, colleagues and friends to share your information via social media.
  • It enhances your resume by allowing you to include photos, video, documents, website links and many other resources that can’t be included in a cover letter.
  • It’s easier to update. When you update your website everyone sees the new information the next time they check it. If someone is passing around your resume as a document you can’t update that.

Like HBC Services on Facebook and leave a comment for a chance to Win an On-line Portfolio FREE for ONE YEAR. See the portfolio at http://promo.hbc.services. Winner will be announced on Friday, 9th of March, 2018.