Monthly Archives: December 2013

The season of goodwill

At the start of December sales team member Nicole and friend persuaded a number of local Milton Keynes companies to help collect food for the MK Food Bank. Here’s what happened…

“Hunger is not just a third world problem. Even in our prosperous new city of Milton Keynes, there are many people living on the edge of poverty” – MK Food Bank

Everyone who know me know’s Christmas is my favourite time of year! So this year I thought it would be quite nice to give a helping hand to those in our area who struggle to eat, let alone splash out on Christmas presents as we all do.  I looked into things I could do in the area to give a helping hand especially over the Christmas season. When I was looking into things like ‘soup kitchens’ I found they all clashed with work. As lovely as it would be to have that time available to help out, if I didn’t work then it wouldn’t be long until I joined the people I was trying to help on the other side of the counter!! Then I came across MK Food Bank.

I got to thinking of the old story about the three men travelling through a cold winter in a time where food in any household was minimal. They had asked for help at several household but nobody had enough food to feed these travellers too. Along the way one man was donated a couple of potatoes, one was donated a couple of carrots, one was donated a bit of meat. On their own neither traveller could make a meal yet when they put their items together they found they could make a hearty stew. If I could gather anybody willing to help to bring even the smallest donation, as a collective we could bring so much more down to the Food Bank just before the Christmas Holidays that would help stop someone in our area from going hungry this festive season.

When speaking to people in the office about this everyone all loved the idea. Jessica, one of my friends (who I have known since I was 16) had a similar idea so we put our heads together and thought if we pooled our collections; even better. So we got to work.

I cannot thank you all enough for your help and support, everybody jumped on board and bit by bit all of you donated something each and we ended up with a fantastic collection. This morning we went down to the Food Bank with all of the food we had donated to us from a collective of First Directory, Komcept Solutions and Charles Clinkard as well as our own donations and had TWO CAR BOOTS FULL of food! Thank you once again!

MK Food Bank Donation

10 Tips to Boost Email Marketing Performance

LettersYour email marketing message is one of hundreds of email messages to hit your subscribers’ inboxes each week. To stand out from the crowd, it is essential to develop and implement well-crafted email marketing campaigns.

There are a number of tried-and-tested techniques you can put into practice to help boost your email marketing campaign. Here are ten of the best to get you started:


Step 1 – Build your Receptive Audience.

Invite prospects to sign up for your email at every opportunity by inserting links to your subscription form on all pages of your website and from social media platforms such as Facebook and Google+ business pages. You can also include sign-up forms in descriptions on sites such as YouTube. If there is an opportunity to build your receptive audience then take it. Make sure it’s easy for prospects to sign up and, of course, make sure you adhere to email marketing legislation.

Step 2 – Inform your Subscribers

Make sure your audience understands what you will be doing with their email. Will you be announcing new products? Emailing special offers and discounts? Will you be sending emails out daily, weekly, monthly? Whatever you intend to do, make sure the audience knows exactly what to expect and why signing up with you will be beneficial. Make a good first impression.

Step 3 – Avoid the Spam Filter

All email servers feature filtering software that is designed to identify and block spam and unsolicited emails based on content found in the sender’s name, subject line of the email and body of the email. The spam filter identifies specific words and other indicators to determine whether emails should land in the recipient’s inbox or spam folder. Avoiding the spam folder is the most important obstacle to tackle. Make sure you do your research and fully understand what the spam filters are looking for in order to avoid getting snagged by them (we’ll write in detail about this in a later post).

Step 4 – Write Compelling Subject Lines

A compelling subject line can drastically increase email open rates. Each email should have an obvious message that will portray the content of the email and appeal to the recipient. The goal here is to tell, not sell. Encourage recipients to open your emails by using short, action-oriented headlines that promise a benefit or solution to a problem.

Step 5 – Create an Effective Call to Action

If not now, When?The aim of an email marketing campaign is to encourage recipients to take some kind of action such as to make a purchase, to download a whitepaper or to make a donation. The call to action is the main point of interactivity in an email campaign so it must be clear and easy for recipients to locate. The easier it is to locate and identify a call to action in a campaign, the higher the chances are of subscribers using it. Take care not to overwhelm readers with too many actions, though. Instead, try to guide users by using distinct actions.

Step 6 – Create Readable Emails for any Device

A large percentage of the UK population check emails on mobile devices, so it’s important to render your emails accordingly. Email recipients who have to scroll from side to side to read each line or who are unable to see images because they won’t load are probably not going to waste time reading your message. Be sure to test your emails across a number of clients to identify areas of improvement before you send your email out.

Step 7 – Encourage Readers to Share Your Emails with their Friends

Your email has been carefully designed to target and engage a group of people with similar interests. Help those recipients spread the word about you, and further increase the reach of your emails, by adding social media buttons and ‘forward to friend’ links.

Step 8 – Integrate Email and Social Media Marketing

Add links to your email marketing content in order to drive traffic to your website and social networking sites. This will not only extend your reach but will also provide customers and prospects with an alternative method of communication. Make sure links are clearly visible and click-able for the best results.

Step 9 – Choose the Best Day & Time to send out your Email

The time that your email is sent out is extremely important. Emails sent during the weekends may achieve higher click-through rates with consumers compared to emails sent on Mondays or Tuesdays which are often the highest ‘unsubscribe’ days. While emails to business customers are better sent on Wednesday and Thursday. Emails sent in the morning and early afternoons are often viewed more than emails sent later in the day. Take time to research your audience and monitor your results to create effective strategies.

Step 10 – Archive your Emails

Once you have sent your email out, archive articles and content on your website. This will not only provide website viewers with engaging content, but will help your website achieve greater search engine visibility. Use keyword rich titles from your homepage to create links to your archived articles and also link articles to one another to help with search engine indexing.


These techniques have been successfully used to increase email open rates and improve overall effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. If you have any additional tips you would like to share, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Email Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

We simply can’t avoid the fact that social media and mobile marketing applications provide businesses with extremely effective and rewarding marketing avenues, but let’s not neglect our old friend ‘the email’ however, for when used correctly, email is a powerful marketing tool in its own right and one that should not be overlooked.Modern Marketing

The good old email simply wants to communicate directly with its audience on a one-to-one basis to build relationships and trust with its subscribers and achieve desired results. That’s not to say email marketing and social media must never meet, however. Hand in hand they can extend the reach of your emails and exceed your marketing goals & expectations, but let’s start from scratch and get your email marketing campaign off the ground with this step by step guide:

Step 1 – Identify your Goal

The key to a successful email marketing campaign lies within your ability to identify aims and objectives from the outset. Are you looking to promote new products? Build relationships with customers? Increase traffic? Generate new business? Once you have determined your aims and objectives you can create a powerful email marketing campaign and monitor its progress to help with the development of future campaigns.

Step 2 – Define your Target Audience

It is incredibly important to identify your target audience. Knowing who your readers are will help you design, write and deliver powerful email marketing campaigns.

Start out by using email addresses you have gathered from existing subscribers and new customer enquiries and develop these lists as your marketing strategies progress. Segment these lists in order to create and deliver communications that target and engage different recipients.

Step 3 – Create Powerful Content

Once you have determined your target audience, it’s time to think about email content. What can you say to your audience in order to achieve your objectives? What are your readers interested in and why would they want to hear from you?

Step 4 – Choose your Software Provider

Choosing an email marketing service provider may seem daunting as there are many to choose from (Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp, DotMailer etc) but try to choose an email marketing service provider that suits your goals and expectations.

It’s important to feel comfortable and trust the company you select, so take time to find out where the company is based and check out their support services before you make a decision.

Step 5 – Determine Email Structure

You have just a few seconds to draw readers’ attention, so be creative. Think of a catchy subject line to compel readers to open your email.

The structure of your email should be inspiring and accessible. Decide whether to include ‘teaser’ paragraphs in the main body or whether to put all of the content into the email itself.

Make sure the information is easy to read. Think about the layout and the inclusion of graphics to illustrate your content. Use captivating photographs in your emails to increase click-through rate and decrease the likelihood of recipients unsubscribing from your campaign.

Step 6 – Determine your Sending Frequency

Calendar - Important DayGenerally speaking, a monthly email is a good place to start with email marketing. If you email too often, your subscribers may get annoyed and think about unsubscribing; however, if you don’t email enough, your subscribers may forget who you are and be annoyed you have emailed them. Ultimately, decide what will work best for you and your customers before you proceed.

Step 7 – Ensure your Email Marketing Campaign is Legal

Be sure to comply with legal requirements. If you have collected email addresses you must get consent from the person who the email address belongs to. If your email addresses are collected via your website, you must make sure people are asked to opt-in to receive your email rather than fail to opt-out. Make sure it’s clear what people are signing up for and what you intend to do with their data. It is also important you also have an easy to use unsubscribe feature.

For more information on data protection visit or

Step 8 – Track your Results

Most standard email packages provide vital statistics such as how many people opened the message, how many people clicked on the links to your website or how many people unsubscribed. These statistics help you monitor the success of your campaigns in order to develop them in the future.

If you don’t have access to statistics via your email service provider think about creating ‘teaser’ paragraphs in the content of your email to discover how many people click through to your website that way via your website statistics.


Once you’ve followed this basic advice, there are a number of tips and techniques you can implement to boost your email marketing campaign. Keep an eye on our blog for more tips to boost your email marketing performance. Please feel free to share your comments and add your own tips and techniques to help newcomers get started below.

Doing our bit to help…

Hut destroyed by Typhoon HaiyanTyphoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on 8th November, causing catastrophic damage. It is the most severe storm ever to make landfall, this in an area where thousands were already homeless following an earthquake earlier in the year.

Hearing about the plight of these people and being determined to do our bit to help, the First Directory sales team swung into action with a pledge to donate money for every sale they achieved.  Over the following few weeks we watched the Typhoon Totaliser creep upwards  until we reached  the final sum of £285.  This has now been donated to the Red Cross, whose Philippine volunteers are getting aid to the people who are most in need and preparing to help thousands more.