If the link to my 3/9/05 seminar on AMC's site is gone, you can get a general idea of what I talked about here:
I've done this seminar a few times for various events and always learn new things in the process … either while I'm updating the content in preparation, or from the audience themselves during the Q&A or via follow-up e-mails from them.v Two tools I've learned about via the AMC seminar deserve special mention:
Digital Point's Keyword Tracker
If you're the type of web site owner/designer who obsessively enters keyphrases in Google to see where your site is appearing in the results pages, Keyword Tracker is for you.
Using this free tool you can see your site's Google position (up to the first 200 results) for any number of keywords and keyphrases. It tracks (and can optionally chart) your URL's position over time. You can even enter your competitor's URLs and see how they're doing compared to you with the same keywords and phrases.
You'll need to open a Google account and have it generate a Google Web API for you to enter in Keyword Tracker's set up routine. Getting a Google API is also free:
While you're at Digital Point, nose around a while. There's a ton of free goodies there and a great forum.
HTML Email Marketing Service
Note: This is the correct URL! (The one in the e-mail was wrong, sorry!)
During the seminar, while I was on the topic of e-mail marketing, the subject of sending out HTML E-mail "blasts" came up. Assuming you have a list of client's and prospect's e-mail addresses, and they've said it's okay to send them HTML e-mail (they've "opted-in"), how do you do it? How do you create an HTML e-mail that'll work on most platforms with most e-mail programs?
You can cobble one together manually, by creating a web page of the e-mail itself and then using various tools to e-mail that page's contents (not the URL, the actual code) to your distribution list. I usually refer people to this wonderful step-by-step written by Adobe's Adam Pratt and Lynn Grillo (it's geared to GoLive users but the instructions are applicable to anyone):
You could also set up accounts with a hosted e-mail newsletter/discussion group service like Constant Contact, or use one that's installed on your own web server, like DadaMail. (DadaMail, nee MojoMail, is a donation-ware cgi program and the one I use for DesignGeek). Both Constant Contact and DadaMail have options for sending out HTML e-mail to the list of e-mail addresses you upload:
During the AMC presentation, a few people brought up Vertical Response, a company I'd never heard of. Like Constant Contact, it's a hosted, fee-based service. But the audience members familiar with both said that Constant Contact is on some spam blacklists (due to people misusing their services) and so may be rejected by your recipient's mailservers.
Vertical Response has a web-based wizard that lets you build the HTML e-mail right on their site, using one of their nice-looking templates or one that you design and upload yourself. They do the tracking and reporting that most HTML E-mail marketers need — how many people opened the e-mail, how many clicks on internal links, how many bouncebacks, etc.
Not only are VR's fees very reasonable — fractions of a cent per e-mail address — but they're an ethical company too. All distribution lists need to be opt-in only, and the e-mail itself needs to adhere to CAN-SPAM regulations. Detaiils are on VR's site.