Friday, March 21, 2008

Email and the happy inbox

Here's a couple of pointers on issues I see from time to time. The first is an quick discussion on housekeeping and avoiding your inbox from outgrowing the space quota it's got. The second is a discussion to highlight a particular setting used most often by people who want to view there email account from multiple locations and have access to all emails (in the POP3 environment not IMAP).

Inbox health and you!

There is one main issue to consider with inbox's in general and that is exceeding your designated inbox limit. You might ask what that means and what happens then?

You inbox is typically given a quota in MB's that it can not exceed. Every email and every attachment takes up some amount of space (Kb, MB or beyond?). The total of all emails and attachments can not exceed the mailbox's size limit.

Well what happens if it does?

You will not be able to send emails but more importantly everyone who sends you an email will get an error stating the users mailbox is over it's limit. Unless they are diligent enough to keep resending it until it works, there's very little chance you'll ever see the email.

One of the main ways to avoid this situation is to delete email that are no longer needed or move them to locally stored folders.

If your shouting at your screen right now: Hey now Adam wait just a minute, I delete emails all the time!!! You've got a screw loose.

I might just have, but that's fodder for another post. But what I do need to say is: Until you have emptied your deleted items folder the emails have typically not been removed from your mail server! haha!

If you've been humbled and are moving on to the next point: What's a local folder?

Let's take outlook for example. If you look under your "Outlook Today" folder you'll see your inbox, sent and deleted items folders. Your inbox and deleted items folder might represent emails still on the server if you have a setting called "leave a copy of messages on the server" checked off. This setting is the crux of the next discussion BTW. If you right click the "outlook today-->New Folder" selection, the resulting folder will represent a local folder. Anything you move there is stored on your hard drive regardless of the above mentioned configuration. Multiple local folders are the best way to organize your emails and keep the server healthy.

Do you need your email account available at multiple locations?

The "leave a copy of message on server" configuration is the crux of making this possible. If you don't leave a copy on the server then you have downloaded it to a particular PC's hard drive. Once this is done it obviously can't be seen by PC's at your other locations.

There are trade offs with the capability of configuring for multiple locations the most important of which is the mailbox exceeding it's limit. The best way to avoid this and maintain usability of this type of environment is to do a couple of things:

  • Whenever you move an item to any PC's deleted items folder... EMPTY IT to remove emails form the server. Multiple deleted items folders on multiple devices can spell trouble.
  • Select one PC to be the repository for items that you will move to a local folder. A second option is to move them to a mobile device that can be synced with the repository. Failing to do this will result in the "I now I saved that email but where is it" or more commonly referred to as INISTEBWII syndrome.

Hopefully these discussions can help you avoid a bad situation that only your friends will tell you about, your customers shore wont tell you an email bounced!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Got them to your site? Now what? Why your site needs a search function!

Web site owners get very focused on what will get their web sites found in the search engines. What will bring in visitors to their spanky new web site and they should get focused on that.

Of course we all want users to find our own sites and just love them.

But one should not assume that because site visitors are showing up in dribs and drabs (or droves) that they are getting what they want.

You might look at it this way:

Getting hits on your site is only 1/3 of the puzzle. In general terms you should think of your web site recipe like this:

  • 1/3 Good SEO
  • 1/3 Good content
  • 1/3 Good understanding of site visitor's needs and wants

OK, Good SEO makes sense and I'll run right out and clone myself so i have enough time to always be creating good content but how the heck do i understand what the site visitor wants?????

Well there's a couple things to become familiar with once the cloning process is completed. I hear it makes you feel like half the man you used to be, but anyway I digress.

  • Google Analytics
  • Some form of site search avec reporting functions

BTW, Signore Web Design set's them both up when we do a web site for you!

Google analytics and Bounce rate

The first item, Google Analytics™ is a great tool that provides you with detailed unbiased information (compared to web hosting tracking tools) on site visitors activities on your site. The pinnacle of this information is the "Bounce Rate".

Bounce rate tells you how many people get to the first page on your site and high tail it out of there. It's a great indicator of weather your site is completely disgusting users or drawing them in. Believe it or not, typical bounce rate runs around 40%. Boy that seems high, but based on the ADD nature of web surfers it does sort of make sense.

The response to a bad bounce rate can vary. One of my sites GBI-Avis modular Home has a bounce rate that runs around 20%. Yahooooo! that's half the industry average. If you look at the site you'll find it's pretty enough but not flashy. No flash intro's (bad idea anyways) and screaming graphics, rollovers, etc. It does more with a focused text box (text with a bordered div around it) than you would believe. The point here, lowering bounce rate is not about "flashing up the site". It's about finding out what your visitors come to your site for and make those items stand out.

So where bounce rate lets you know there's a problem, site search helps you determine what it is.

Site Search

There are a couple of free services, and that we have integrated into client sites. These services provide a customizable form & customizable results page that integrate into the site but also provide statistical reporting. This allows you to see what the site visitor TRIED to find on your site. Coupled with Google Analytics you can tell if they ever found it. If a predominant portion of your visitors search your site for the same terms (and that term describes something you offer) then it's obvious your not presenting the product or service clearly enough.

To sum it up, getting them to the site wins the battle. If you don't capture them
quickly then you've lost the war.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

P.O. Box 67
Bellingham, MA

28 Summer St
Medway, MA