Breffni Family Resource Centre

I’ve just finished a redesign and rebuild of the website for Breffni Family Resources Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim. Breffni FRC offers community services such as Childcare, Youth Cafes, Women’s & Men’s groups, Disability Initiates, Allotments, Training and more..

Live October 2018 – www.BreffniFRC.ie

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Is Email Marketing Dead?

Recent Experiences

It just occurred to me as I sent out my last business Newsletter recently to a highly focused MailChimp list especially for existing clients of mine, a newsletter alerting clients to changes in the Google algorithm that will most likely affect their sites positions in search results and in turn possibly their main marketing channel, and having watched multiple unsubscribes and no replies to it, that Email Marketing, as I know it at least, may be dead.

The last few similar newsletters I sent out yielded the same results. No replies, no business and a few unsubscribes. I check the stats re open rate etc and all emails reach their destination and actually have good open and click rates. I’m sending these newsletters to a list that I use to alert existing clients of issues with hosting, problems that may arise and general important announcements that clients really need to know. If they unsubscribe, they wont get this information and they’ll be in the dark and I may not have the resources to deal with issues directly or by phone as a result of them being in the dark! Fair enough, I also use newsletters as a marketing channel sometimes but I doubt very much that I oversell through it.

Why?

So why the lack of interest? I guess it’s possible it could just be that they have no interest and see no relevance in the content. It’s hardly that they receive too many emails from me given that I only send newsletters out every 2 or 3 months if even that. Maybe people in general are overwhelmed by emails? Maybe they don’t have the time? Maybe it’s just a tired method?

From my own perspective as someone who also receives a lot of email newsletters, it can be overwhelming. The companies that send out the most frequent and/or longest newsletters usually get the boot from me but I try not to make the same mistakes in my own email campaigns.

GDPR

Then there’s GDPR. Could this have had an affect on email marketing? I took all the necessary precautions when the new GDPR regulations passed last summer. I emailed everyone, asking them if they wanted to remain on my list and telling them what data I held exactly. I had very few unsubscribes then, if any so I presumed people were happy to stay on the list. I’m pretty sure GDPR has scared a lot of people off email marketing though. And caused a lot of unsubscribes.

The Future?

So what’s the next new marketing thing!? I’m subscribed to Seth Godin’s email list. I signed up for it because he famously keeps them very short and concise. I’ve seen some come in that are barely a sentence! More often than not they talk a lot of sense and wisdom. Seth is a big proponent of the old fashioned way of doing things. Being honest, offering value, doing things the hard way and not taking the quick and easy fixes.

That’s what I’m going to try to do anyway. I just have to find the right medium to do it through!

Mobile First Indexing

This week, I’ve been getting regular emails from Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to let me know that my own sites and those of my clients that I’ve added to the console have been switched to “Mobile-first” indexing.

Mobile-first Indexing

What this basically means is that the results in Google searches will show content primarily from the mobile version of your website….IF you have one! If you do or your website is fully responsive and adaptable to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets then you need do nothing for the most part.

If however your website is currently setup any the following ways, you may need to act to avoid the loss of ranking and possible drop in the search results:

  • No Mobile version,
  • No Responsive version,
  • A Mobile version that doesn’t have the same quality, comprehensive content and tags as your main site,
  • An old Mobile version on a separate domain, ie – m.mysite.com.

The first thing you need to do is test to see if your site has a mobile friendly version or if the main site is mobile friendly. You can do that with Google’s own tool here:

search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

If all is well with that then you need not worry. If your site is shown to be not mobile friendly though you may need to make it so to avoid issues. Here are the options:

  • Rebuild the site with a fully responsive design (best, future proofed option),
  • Add a Mobile friendly plugin (If your site is WordPress or CMS based).

Here’s some further reading on the subject of Mobile-first Indexing:

Google – webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/03/rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing.html

Yoast – yoast.com/5-things-about-mobile-first-indexing/

Please get in touch if you need further advice.

Leon

How to make your Amazon Alexa more Human

I bought a secondhand Amazon Echo on a whim some time last year. I live on my own so thought it might be a good idea to make the days pass a little quicker. I use her, sorry…”It” mostly to play music and maybe let me know what time and day it is…month even sometimes. We’ve become quite attached over the year but something was missing in our friendship. It’s hard to get over the disconnect of  talking to something as if they were human when they look like a small piece of electronic equipment. Just recently an amazing thought floated into my head from somewhere…what if I could make Alexa more human like?

My first idea was to get my daughter’s makeup doll head and put Alexa inside that but they seemed a little reluctant to let Gracie (not her real name) go or be tampered with in any way. Then, while browsing on Amazon.co.uk for another doll’s head, I came across some very cheap polystyrene mannequin heads and decided to buy one. I could cut out holes for Alexa to sit in a lot easier and decorate her to my own “taste”.

The head arrived and I spent the best part of one Friday afternoon cutting out a crevice for Alexa to sit in with space for the power and audio leads, painting her and as the icing on the cake, put some fibre optic strands in her eyes to gather the ambient background light from my monitor stand. Her eyes really shine with a warm, friendly glow at night now.

Below is a photo gallery of the whole process:

Video: Talking to my new look Alexa!

FREE WiFi in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim from Magnet Networks

I attended the launch of the new Magnet Networks provided FREE WiFi service in Carrick-on-Shannon town centre this morning, June 20th. The CEO Mark Kellett and other Magnet representatives were on hand to introduce and explain the new service and it’s benefits and to outline other services that Magnet can provide. Carrick-on-Shannon is the first town in the country to roll out free, no limits public WiFi.

Here’s how it works.

Areas covered:

  • Main Street,
  • Bridge Street,
  • Marina/Boardwalk area,
  • Town Park (Behind Victoria Hall/Beside the Rowing Club).

Access & Speeds:

  • One time free sign up with either Email or Facebook details,
  • Around 6MB up and down,
  • No time limits,
  • No bandwidth limits,
  • Content filtered (Family safe).

Benefits:

  • Local businesses can benefit from Advertising opportunities and usage analytics,
  • The public including town visitors can benefit from fast, free internet,
  • Children and teenagers can remain in touch with parents.

Sponsors

Access Points were kindly supported by the following local businesses:

  • Spice India
  • Leitrim County Council
  • The Bush Hotel
  • Buffalo Boy
  • Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber of Commerce
  • McMahon Opticians
  • Brady Insurance

Photo Gallery:

For more information on Magnet’s services, visit their website – MagnetNetworks.com

Photoshop CC Essential Basics Online Course

I’ve created a 9 Lesson online course in Photoshop CC basics for Photoshop beginners who would like to know how to do basic image editing. It’s suitable for:

  • Photographers,
  • Business Owners,
  • Marketing People,
  • Graphic Designers,
  • Web Designers,
  • Photoshop Hobbyists.

Requirements:

  • Basic computing ability,
  • A decent, modern Desktop or Laptop computer,
  • A cloud subscription to Photoshop CC (or the free months trial).

Topics Covered include:

  1. Where and how to get Photoshop,
  2. Photoshop Configuration,
  3. The Photoshop Interface,
  4. How to Open images,
  5. How to Crop images,
  6. How to Resize images,
  7. How to Add Text to an image,
  8. How to Save an image,
  9. How to Save Optimised images for the Web.

There’s also a Quiz at the end to test your new found knowledge!

The course is a total of 40 mins long and only €79 + VAT.

TAKE THE COURSE

Photographing The Moon with a DSLR

Disclaimer: I’m a newbie at shooting the moon and an amateur photographer at best. This blog post just details my experience and learning curve on my first ever proper moon shoot recently.

I seen something online about the next full moon and since I’d just purchased a second hand telephoto lens for my Canon EOS 500D, I though I’d mark the date in my diary and try get some decent moon shots for once.

Step 1 – Find out when and where the next full moon is

I’d found out the date of the next full moon no problem but I’d gone as far as setting up my tripod and camera on the balcony out the back of my apartment before I realised that I didn’t know what time exactly the moon would appear and in what exact position. I remembered roughly having seen the moon out the back before so I knew it was in that general direction after dark but because I had a small viewing angle with trees and stuff, I needed to know precisely where the moon would be at a particular time. I used this website below to give me all the details I needed on moon positions for my location:

MoonCalc.org

I also used the handy “Sky Map” android app to show me the moon position and any other interesting objects close by in real time/augmented reality:

Sky Map App

Step 2 – Equipment and Setup

I’d found out that the moon was going to be in just the right position to shoot at about 1:45am so I setup everything I needed before I went to bed that night and set an alarm. Here’s what I used:

  • Canon EOS 500D (A camera is handy!)
  • 75 – 300mm Telephoto Lens (Not quite powerful enough for Pro moon shots but way better than a normal lens)
  • Tripod (Impossible without)
  • Wireless Hot Shoe Remote control set (You can’t be shaky at high zooms! The camera’s timer or a remote phone app will do here too though..)
  • Candles (As little light as possible in the immediate vicinity)
  • A Smartphone (To shine on your camera buttons and google “moon camera settings”!)

Step 3 – Shoot, Shoot, Shoot..

I ended up with 35 RAW images of the moon but deleted many more directly from the camera after checking the results in the camera LCD. The trick is to take a pile of shots, starting out with the generally accepted camera settings for photographing the moon, then varying things like Shutter Speed and Aperture to get different results. You really have to go full manual too as letting the camera try decide on the best settings for something that far away just doesn’t work.

In the end, the following settings seemed to work best for me:

  • Full Manual Mode
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125
  • Aperture: f/11
  • ISO: 100

Step 4 – Review

Getting the photos onto the computer and reviewing them is the fun bit. Sorting through to find that one photo (hopefully!) that stands out above the rest. Shooting in RAW allows some good control over editing your best images to enhance the results a little too.

Here’s my gallery of the shoot with the best shot I achieved: