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Make Sure You’re Using AMP Analytics When Using AMP

Make Sure You’re Using AMP Analytics When Using AMP

We recently wrote about how awesome the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology is for improving page load times on your website. Well, yes it is, but something to bear in mind that we’ve just come across. Google recently wrote a blog post about how to set up Analytics on your AMP pages only 4 days ago, which quite frankly is a little slow since we’ve been using AMP technology for well over 4 months now and it has never been on our radar that this wouldn’t be tracked by default out of the box. Anyway, we’ll let this one slip.

The crooks of it though is that you’re probably not including tracking on any of these AMP pages that you’ve implemented which is a tad annoying. From a WordPress perspective, make sure you’re using the AMP Analytics plugin which will add Google Analytics tracking to your AMP pages when they are loaded by web browsers and Google. You could be missing out on a significant amount of tracking data when tracking the performance of your campaigns. For anything non-WordPress related, you’ll have to get into the tech to implement this manually within your web application which is certainly going to be a tad more time consuming. Drop us an email if you need any help with getting this set up on your own websites and web applications.

Automating Your Email Marketing Campaigns with WordPress and MailChimp

Automating Your Email Marketing Campaigns with WordPress and MailChimp

Something which has been on our own to-do list for far too long than I’d care to admit, we’ve finally got around to automating our email marketing campaigns. Firstly, if you aren’t on our mailing list yet, why, it’s awesome and we share some amazing content like this you’re reading now. Secondly, get signed up at the bottom of this page by entering in your email address.

Now let’s look at what we’ve recently got set up and how we’ve automated our entire email marketing campaigns so we can spend more time focusing on writing great content, running events and training courses and generally connecting with businesses and people much more efficiently. Why spend time doing something manually if you don’t need to, right?

 

What’s Wrong with Manually Sending Email Marketing Campaigns?

Ok, so let’s quickly cover this one. Firstly, if you are sending email marketing campaigns through something like Outlook, you are doing it all wrong. Head over to our Really Simple Guide to Email Marketing to understand why.

Now, we’re assuming you’re using an email marketing tool such as MailChimp. And do you know what, sending email marketing campaigns manually is absolutely fine. There is nothing wrong with doing this at all. But. If you are sending email marketing campaigns manually to share content such as Blog Posts or Events that you are running, you are wasting time doing this manually when you could automate the entire process. It’s all about saving time so you can be more productive in what you are doing.

So let’s look at how you can automate your email marketing campaigns with WordPress and MailChimp.

 

WordPress RSS Feeds

If you didn’t already know, virtually every type of content on your WordPress website has an automatically generated RSS Feed URL that can be accessed when you know where you are looking. Take a look through the WordPress RSS Feeds List for information on where to look.

For example, here is our main Blog’s RSS Feed URL if you want to take a look what this looks like;

https://www.contradodigital.com/blog/feed/

Find the relevant RSS feed that you want to use to send email marketing campaigns to your audience as you’ll need this shortly.

 

MailChimp Groups

Within MailChimp you can segment your Lists into different Groups based on what people have subscribed to. There are many way of organising your MailChimp subscribers, so we’re not going to cover that right now. For the purpose of this blog post, we’re going to use Groups to segment a single List based on what people are interested in which helps to keep everything easy to manage to avoid duplication.

To create a Group in MailChimp you navigate to your List, then click on Manage Subscribers then Groups which will allow you to enter in specific information about how you want to group people together.

 

create-a-group-in-mailchimp

 

The reason you want to create a new Group is so that you can allow your audience to subscribe to multiple different groups from the same Newsletter. This allows you to send emails to specific groups of people within your mailing list. Simply configure the relevant settings for yourself as this information will display when a user is updating their subscription preferences;

 

configure-your-mailchimp-group

 

Ok, so now you’ve created a group, let’s start to join everything together. In the first instance you can even migrate people into specific groups should you wish.

Here is how the data you enter in this section will display when the user is managing their profile on your newsletter.

 

subscribe-to-your-preferred-mailing-lists

 

MailChimp RSS Campaigns

Create a Campaign

Firstly, create a new campaign in MailChimp but be sure to select an RSS Campaign as the campaign type as this comes with a few handy settings that have been automatically built in for you.

 

create-an-rss-campaign

 

Confirm your RSS Feed Settings

Enter in all of the settings related to when you want to be sending your campaigns and where the data is coming from. In this example, we’re looking to send out content from the Developer Blog so we enter in this information here.

 

confirm-rss-settings

 

Select Your Recipients

Next you need to select who you are sending the emails to. Here you are going to want to send emails to a Group of users you have just created earlier. This could be for a specific set of content on your website or even a specific interest if your website has multiple interests on there.

 

send-email-campaign-to-groups-of-recipients

 

There are a lot of options here so we’re not going to cover everything. Use the options that are best suited for your individual needs.

 

Personalise your Campaign Information as Usual

If you are reading this blog post, you’ll already be used to creating your campaigns as normal and personalising the relevant information so we’ll skip over this bit here. Just make sure you do this when you are creating the campaign.

 

Choose an RSS Template

Simplicity is key here which is why you should choose one of the default RSS templates which you can select. This will automatically include lots of handy information for you which will speed up your development for sending RSS campaigns.

 

rss-feed-template-on-mailchimp

 

Design your Email Template as Usual

Again, we’re not going to cover this part here. All of the pre-populated fields have been created for you when using an RSS template, so you’re all good to go. Simply personalise the look and feel of your campaign as you see fit.

 

Preview & Test

The next step is to preview and test your campaign. This is so important to do as you can really annoy people when you mess up a campaign and send it out with missing information and or incorrect information.

 

Start RSS Campaign

Then you’re good to go, start your RSS campaign running and you will never have to worry about manually sending email marketing campaigns again.

 

start-rss-campaign

 

This really is just the starting point about what you can do when you start to automate your email marketing campaigns. Take the time to think through what you are doing, why you are doing is and what you are looking to get out of it. Automation can save you so much time when you think strategically about what you are doing.

Introducing CreoPressto

Introducing CreoPressto

We speak with many businesses who simply do not have the budgets to pay for quality websites which is a shame as this ultimately ends up with their websites being built extremely badly, costing a lot of money in the long run and the businesses suffer as a result. Generally speaking, businesses come to us after they have gone through this pain and need the right solutions putting in place, when they have a realistic budget to work with. Digital doesn’t come cheap, until now.

Introducing CreoPressto, the only website builder that gives you full control of your website without you ever needing to get into the technical aspects at all. Whether you are looking for a basic brochure website or a fully-fledged ecommerce website, CreoPressto is capable of growing with you. It’s so easy to use, literally anyone in the office could build a website with CreoPressto.

We challenge you to take a look at how CreoPressto can revolutionise the way you work with your website by empowering your organisation and taking control of your own destiny. The self-build technology allows you to make your website look and feel however you want with no restrictions or limitations in place. If you can imagine it, the CreoPressto platform can work for you.

Never have to worry about the technical aspects in the background, we’ve brought together various industry leading website technologies to create an awesome platform that is capable of powering your entire website with ease and growing with you over time so you don’t need to keep buying a brand new website every few years.

With hundreds of features and functionality to keep you busy, the pain free quick and easy drag and drop visual website builder allows anyone to build a website with ease, with no prior knowledge required. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can build a website with CreoPressto that is safe, secure, flexible and capable of growing with you as an organisation. Here’s just a small handful of the features available with CreoPressto.

 

Bar Counter Modules

bar-counter-modules

Blurb Modules

blurb-modules

Countdown Timer Modules

countdown-timers

Google Maps Modules

google-maps-integration

Social Media Modules

social-media-modules

User Account Management Modules

user-account-management-modules

And many many many more options to choose from!

 

Pricing

CreoPressto is entirely self-service, allowing you to create whatever you can imagine. Due to this, pricing starts as little as £49.99 + VAT / month which gives you enterprise level functionality on your website without the traditional costs associated with this. Pretty awesome, right? To give you an idea of what is included with this;

  • Web Hosting
  • SSL Certificate
  • WordPress Installation
  • Website Blog
  • Awesome Page Builder
  • Ecommerce
  • Over 30,000 Free Plugins
  • Forum Support
  • Google Analytics
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Automatic Security Updates
  • Automatic Backups
  • Automatic Server Updates
  • cPanel Server Access
  • FTP Access
  • 10 GB Storage
  • 5 GB Monthly Bandwidth
  • Forum Support

With packages designed to grow with you over time as your needs expand. The beauty of CreoPressto is that if you need additional support with building your website, this is on hand from the team at Contrado Digital or anyone else you wish to work with.

Introducing Contrado Academy

Introducing Contrado Academy

Such a common rhetoric from virtually every business who is looking to recruit digital talent within their organisation, “We can’t find people with the right skills”. Firstly, to those organisation, make sure your jobs are posted on Tendo Jobs, it’s free to do so and we have lots of active job hunters regularly searching for skills in every sector ranging from retail to highly technical digital roles to C-level roles. Secondly, instead of complaining about not being able to find the right staff, let’s look at the practical steps to growing your own talent.

Quite frankly, the lack of skills talk hasn’t changed in the digital world over the last several years and it’s getting a bit boring to keep listening to if I’m honest. So we thought we could do something about that. Introducing Contrado Academy, the practical hands on courses designed to allow your staff to learn how to ‘do digital’ the right way. With a variety of courses running in locations throughout the UK, we’re able to deliver high quality training courses that teach the practical skills and real-world experience that your employees need to know. Whether you are looking to know the basics or progress through the variety of courses and become a fully-fledged digital expert, we have courses available from beginners to advanced in a variety of areas.

Contrado Academy is not a traditional academic setup, the courses have been created by professionals working in digital day-in-day-out which covers the practical skills and information that is in demand from employers. Traditional education establishments are great, seriously, go to Colleges and Universities when you are looking for the long term investment. The unfortunately reality for people working in digital though is that employers need skills now, they cannot afford to wait for 1-3 years for a new course to be signed off by the various committees involved then a further 3-4 years for students to graduate. The world has moved on by then. Digital apprenticeships are certainly doing something to address these issues, yet not everyone wants to do an apprenticeship, they just want to complete a short course that gives them the skills and information required to do they job they are doing, do it better or develop their skills for the future.

Take a look at the variety of courses on offer and stay tuned for dates when courses are announced very shortly.

 

https://academy.contradodigital.com/courses/

 

contrado-academy-logo

 

Current courses available include;

  • Web Development for Beginners
  • WordPress for Beginners
  • Intermediate WordPress
  • Advanced WordPress
  • HTML for Beginners
  • CSS for Beginners
  • JavaScript for Beginners
  • Linux Web Server Management for Beginners
  • PHP for Beginners
  • Java for Beginners
  • Java Web Applications for Beginners
  • Social Media for Beginners
  • Introduction to Digital Marketing
  • Google Analytics for Beginners
  • Google AdWords for Beginners
  • Email Marketing for Beginners
  • Ecommerce for Beginners
  • Apple iOS Development for Beginners
  • Android Development for Beginners
  • Search Engine Optimisation SEO for Beginners
  • Cyber Security for Beginners

Whether you are looking to train your current staff in the vast array of digital technologies or you are reading this as someone who is looking to enter the world of digital, there are a variety of courses available to suit your needs.

NatWest Phishing Email for Unusual Activity in Account

Probably one of the worst examples we’ve seen for a phishing email recently. Be aware though that these things do still catch people out. When you receive emails like this, always check the email address is from the correct website. Clearly in this case it isn’t. While this information cannot be trusted as this can be easily spoofed, many phishing emails like this one appearing to be from NatWest haven’t even bothered to add in the correct from email address.

Likewise, you will notice that the link they are asking you to click doesn’t go through to a NatWest website. Again, this information can be easily masked so you are best never to click on links in emails which appear to be suspicious. Always make sure that you open your web browser, go to the website directly without clicking on any links in emails to view notifications on your account. If the email was genuine, you will also have a notification within your account with the relevant information on.

Be safe.

natwest-phishing-email

The Digital Forum Summary – 7th September 2016

The Digital Forum Summary – 7th September 2016

Great to see everyone at the event. Summary notes for reference.

 

 

Hope to see you at the next Digital Forum on 5th October 2016. Book now to avoid disappointment.

You Should Not Blindly Implement What Clients Want

You Should Not Blindly Implement What Clients Want

This blog post is a personal bugbear of mine when it comes to people working in the digital industry and with technology. The scenario generally plays out as follows;

 

Client: “We’ve seen this really amazing flashy whoosh thing on {insert big brand website here} and we want you to do this on our website“

Or

Client: “I’ve had this amazing idea, hear me out, {insert the craziest wackiest idea you can imagine that is trying to do something non-website related on a website}

Digital Person / Agency: “Sure, we can look to do that. What a great idea.”…. They then scramble off to talk about how they go about doing this. Internal discussions, questions on Stack Overflow or Facebook WordPress groups or other digital groups before rushing into implementing this idea as quickly as possible to please the client.

 

This is such a destructive attitude to take and one which not only shows your lack of understanding about the digital world but also the lack of confidence the client has in you to recommend the right solutions. In my experience, whenever a client asks us these similar questions on a regular basis we put a halt to their thought process straight away and get to the bottom of what they are actually trying to achieve.

What do they actually want? When a client comes to you with a solution to their idea, they often haven’t shared with you their initial idea in the first place. It is your job as a digital expert to get to the bottom of what they actually want before blindly jumping into delivering a preconceived solution. I can guarantee that if you just blindly implement what the client wants, you will end up in a very sticky situation further down the line which will result in the client blaming you for implementing their ideas which were ultimately flawed. It is your responsibility as a digital expert to help the client turn their ideas into realities by using the best possible solution for their needs.

To name just a few real world situations recently to highlight this point and why you should not just blindly implement what the client wants. Below are several examples when digital people have been asking us advice on how to implement various requirements from their clients and haven’t had the guts to tell the client no;

  • Requirement: Client wants to use WordPress as an intranet (which is certainly possible), and they want to have a directory structure like they see on their computer so it’s easy to find files to use.
  • Why this is a bad idea: WordPress doesn’t work like this. Dropbox and other cloud based document sharing facilities do. Don’t go re-inventing the wheel. Tell the client why their solution isn’t the best setup for their requirements and keep telling them until they understand and agree. Blindly trying to implement this kind of file directory style setup in WordPress is just going to cause problems in the long run.
  • Requirement: Client wants to use this fancy font from Photoshop on their website. So we implemented this as an image for all headers. Now they’ve said they want to translate their website. How do we go about this?
  • Why this is a bad idea: Sorry, things now have to be rebuilt correctly. Images should have never been used for headings as they don’t work very well on mobile devices, aren’t SEO friendly and don’t work from a translations point of view. Not to mention the inherent challenges around which browsers support which fonts on different devices etc. Keep things simple.
  • Requirement: Client wants to use their AOL account to send emails from their WordPress website but the emails keep going into people’s spam folders.
  • Why this is a bad idea: Emails aren’t meant to be used like this, particularly AOL accounts. Seriously, who still has an AOL account? As a business owner you need to be using suitable email technologies and when sending emails from web applications, there are specific technical aspects that need configuring to get this working correctly.

 

You get the drift. Blindly implementing requests from clients is a fool’s game. If you are working in the digital industry, please, stop doing this. Instead, take a step back whenever a request comes through and start to think strategically about what they are ultimately trying to achieve and what the best solutions truly are.

Every single website is restrained in some way based on the web hosting setup, the technologies in use, the frameworks that are used and lots of other moving parts. You cannot simply implement something that you’ve seen on one website into another website without fully understanding the technical implications of what this means. Don’t go re-inventing the wheel and quite frankly if the idea the client has come up with is hair brained, tell them, it will save you endless problems in the future. Start to recommend the best solutions based on their requirements instead of simply blindly implementing everything they want.

Remember, the client often has no idea about the finer details of the technical and digital world. All they often see is the visual side of things and don’t understand what goes into creating functional, scalable and reliable systems that are capable of growing with them. We get a lot of work coming through to us when people have gone down this route in the past, with clients working with digital people and agencies who have blindly implemented what they wanted, only to then by told by us that everything needs rebuilding. Hey, I can’t complain, this generates a lot of work for us, but let’s be honest, from a client’s perspective they are paying, two, three or four times for things when digital people keep implementing everything they want blindly and wondering why things aren’t working for them.

Managing client projects is actually relatively simple. Assume they know nothing and question everything that they say. Start to really get to the bottom of what they are looking for, then use this information with your knowledge and expertise to recommend suitable solutions. Please, stop blindly implementing what clients want. In the meantime, we’ll happily keep picking up failed projects and getting thing working correctly. It’s what we’re best at.

Claim Your Free SSL Certificates for HTTPS

Over the last few months there have been some really exciting changes happening in the website security world related to encryption. Something which now allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to take encryption seriously without the larger investment previously needed. Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s take a look at what exactly SSL and HTTPS actually is and why it is important.

 

Importance of SSL and HTTPS

Getting a little bit technical, SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer which turns the standard HTTP protocol used to access all websites on the internet into a secure connection. What this means in practice is that the connection between yourself typing www.contradodigital.com into the web browser and the web server is encrypted, meaning that no-one can listen in to what data is being sent/retrieved as you go about your day.

Take WordPress as a prime example, whenever you login to your WordPress website, if you are still using HTTP and not HTTPS then anyone listening in on the network can read your username and password in plain text, then use this data to hack into your website and do damage. So if you’re in a café or any other public place to access your website over HTTP, then it is relatively straight forward for people who know what they are doing to see your details. The same is true when you enter a username or password onto any other website on the internet, if they are using HTTP instead of HTTPS, then your password becomes visible to the world if someone is listening in on that network. SSL resolves these issues.

Anyone who is using any kind of login system on their website, whether this is simply for logging in administrators into your content management system, or running an ecommerce website, you should be using SSL. Previously an SSL certificate would have cost anywhere between £150 and £550 just for the certificate itself, plus the added cost of migrating your website from HTTP to HTTPS which can be a considerable cost in itself.

From a user perspective, implementing SSL simply means taking your website from HTTP;

 

HTTP Non Secure Website

 

To HTTPS;

 

HTTPS Secure Website Using SSL Certificate

 

End to end encryption to secure your website.

 

Free SSL Certificates

Over recent months we’ve been experimenting with Let’s Encrypt, the new free certificate authority, the guys who generate the SSL certificates. Let’s Encrypt is backed by the likes of Facebook, Google, Cisco, Mozilla, Akamai, Automattic, Shopify, Sucuri, Hewlett Packard and many more. When Let’s Encrypt was first launched in April 2016, it was still very much in its early stages and quite buggy on a lot of platforms. Thankfully since then, it has become a lot easier to work with and hence is now something we’re recommending all businesses should take a look at for their own websites.

 

Let's Encrypt Logo

 

Practicalities

While Let’s Encrypt does bring free SSL certificates to everyone, it’s not quite as straight forward as just clicking a button and you’re good to go. As with all website and web server technologies, there are many moving parts with endless different setups and configurations. While the SSL certificates their self are free, implementing the initial Let’s Encrypt setup on your web server can be time consuming, or even in some cases, not even possible at the moment. Likewise, once you have claimed your free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt, you will likely need to implement various bits of website work to ensure SSL works correctly throughout the website.

Thankfully, we’ve got this town to a tee. Anyone hosting their website with us and running WordPress, we can implement this in no time at all, so get in touch so we can implement your free SSL certificate with minimal investments associated with the implementation of this. For anyone else, drop us an email anyway and we can review your current setup to see if it is capable of implementing the free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt.

For anyone brave enough to have a go their self, here are a few handy resources on some of the technical aspects in the background;

But the likelihood is that you’re not going to be able to implement this yourself, nor should you try if you aren’t competent as you can do some serious damage if you do things wrong. If your current web hosting partner or website team isn’t capable of implementing this or the technology isn’t up to scratch, then it’s probably time to review your current web hosting options;

PayPal Policy Update Email Notification Phishing Scam

Beware of the latest phishing email scam that is going around imitating a PayPal policy update. While PayPal often do send out similar emails, their terms and conditions are written as such that any updates are accepted by default so you never have to accept any new terms and conditions they announce.

The email;

Phishing Email Appearing to be from PayPal

 

While this email looks genuine on quick glance, when you hover over the links, you notice that they do not go to www.paypal.com or www.paypal.co.uk, instead they go elsewhere to a phishing website. Thankfully if you did click the link in the email accidentally, if you are using a modern web browser, you are alerted to this attack;

Google Chrome Security Warning

 

Another key aspect to notice in the original email is the recipient details which clearly don’t look genuine. While many aspects of this data can be easily faked, when the scammer hasn’t bothered to fake this data, it is easy to spot these kind of attacks;

Email Recipients for PayPal Phishing Email

 

As always, never click on suspicious links in emails and instead visit the website directly where you will find a notification if this is a genuine email.

How to a Add Custom Field to WooCommerce Product Category Pages to Display Content Below Products

By default, WooCommerce displays Product Category content above the products which are listed. Which is fine in many cases, although when you want to add in more than a couple of hundred words here, the Product Category page on WooCommerce soon pushes all of the actual products below the fold which isn’t that useful for a user. As such, you may want to add more content beneath the product listings to allow you to add more content to the page for users.

Firstly, whenever you are editing WooCommerce template files, make sure you are doing this correctly via your Child Theme to override WooCommerce template files. The file you need to edit (at the time of writing, this may change…) is archive-product.php. Copy this file from your /Plugins/WooCommece/Templates/ folder into your /Theme-Child/woocommerce/ folder.

 

Add Custom Field

To start with, the first thing to do is to use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to add a custom field which is triggered only when: Taxonomy Term, is equal to, Product Categories. See the ‘Location’ heading when adding the custom fields. Let’s assume you’ve added a WYSYWIG editor for the purposes of this guide. You can add any type of field you like here which is handy.

Once set this Custom Field up correctly, you will now see this field display in the Product Category admin screen where you can add additional content to this section. Once you have added content here, the next step is to display this content to the user on the front end of the website.

 

Display Custom Field Content – archive-product.php

Back to the archive-product.php file. Add the following piece of code beneath where you see the code;


<?php

/*** woocommerce_after_shop_loop hook.

** @hooked woocommerce_pagination - 10

*/

do_action( 'woocommerce_after_shop_loop' );

?>

Add this code to display the custom field;


<?php

$term_id = get_queried_object()->term_id;

$post_id = 'product_cat_'.$term_id;

$custom_field = get_field('woocommerce_product_category_page_bottom_description', $post_id); // My Advanced Custom Field Variable

?>

<br>

<div><?php echo $custom_field; ?> </div> <?php // Get Advanced Custom Field Value ?>

 

The ‘woocommerce_product_category_page_bottom_description’ text above is what your Custom Field is named as that you created previously. If you have used a different name, replace this here.

 

Display Custom Field Content – functions.php

Alternatively if you would prefer not to edit child-WooCommerce files, then you can add the following code to your function.php in your Child Theme which will add the following action onto the ‘woocommerce_after_shop_loop’ hook;


function action_woocommerce_after_shop_loop() {

$term_id = get_queried_object()->term_id;

$post_id = 'product_cat_'.$term_id;

$custom_field = get_field('woocommerce_product_category_page_bottom_description', $post_id); // My Advanced Custom Field Variable

echo $custom_field;

};

add_action( 'woocommerce_after_shop_loop', 'action_woocommerce_after_shop_loop', 10, 2 );

Display

View the Product Category page and you’ll soon have added this extra piece of information to your Product Category page which you can use as you like. This will display the content beneath the paginated links. Place the above content elsewhere to suit your needs if you want something different.