Email Marketing

Email Marketing Automation vs. a Mailing List

You might have set yourself up with an email mailing list. Your visitors and supporters can sign up and now you have a fast, easy, and effective way to bulk contact them. But are you taking your email capabilities as far as they can go? Do you know the difference between true email marketing automation and a mailing list?

What’s a mailing list?

Some popular email platforms you might have heard of are Constant Contact or MailChimp. They allow users to quickly and easily sign up to be a recipient of your outbound emails. Users can even sometimes progressively add to their profiles over time. That may give you access to names, physical addresses, and things like topics of interest. Users can also easily opt out of receiving future emails at any time.

Once you’ve got a decently large mailing list, you can reach the masses with the click of a button. If you rely solely on social media posts, ever changing algorithms interfere with your reach. If you try to use paid advertising to expand, you can find yourself with big bills and not much to show for it. But email is a guaranteed direct line to your self-identified engaged audience. There’s a reason that spam email is so prevalent even to this day – email works!

How is Marketing Automation different?

Even with all of that, you may not be utilizing your email lists to their full potential. For that you need marketing automation. First, check out How to get started with email marketing and Maintaining an email marketing editorial calendar.

Marketing automation segments your audience into far more different groups than you can manually manipulate. You can use metadata to build audience lists on the fly and send different emails to each different type of recipient. That’s the main idea – it’s not just one email sent to every list member at the same time. Different emails to different users at different times will maximize the impact of your email list. Here are some examples:

  • Send a series of welcome emails after a new user signs up to receive emails from your organization. The first one should arrive immediately and the others can be spaced out after that.
  • Remind users who have visited your website but not made a donation yet that your fundraising campaign is still active.
  • Thank users who have donated in the past 30 days and promote your recurring donation options.
  • Send 5 emails in a chain of spotlights on your most successful programs, but only send each one one week after the previous email has been opened and read.
  • Send a customized birthday or service anniversary to each individual recipient. If integrated to your Volunteer Management software, milestone volunteer hours can be celebrated with no interaction from you.
  • Re-engage users if they haven’t opened an email or visited your site or volunteered in person for over 6 months. Everyone gets busy and the occasional reminder can be really effective.

With some preparation and a little technical know-how, you can get even more out of your valuable list of emails with less effort than manual email campaigns!


What are render-blocking resources?

If you’ve run a speed test on your website, you may find that one of the biggest contributors to slow load speed are render-blocking resources. But what are render-blocking resources? And more importantly, how can you minimize them to help speed up your website’s load times?

Which resources block rendering?

Any file that needs to load, but does so before the page has finished rendering is render-blocking. Rendering just means that the page becomes visible and is ready for interaction with menus and links. If the site is busy downloading a file before it begins to paint the picture of the final website, then that produces a poor user experience. Our attention span has become so short that even a load time of a few seconds can feel like an eternity.

Imagine you are preparing to bake a pie using a recipe. If the first step of that recipe says, “Refer to Chapter 2 for a basic pie crust,” then you must leave the recipe to go read the reference. While you are doing that, the recipe will not progress. But it may be a critical step to the finished product. If you skip the step you’ll have a pie tin full of filling. If you wait until the end of the recipe, you’ll have the crust sitting on top of the filling. So it’s not always guaranteed that render-blocking resources are unnecessary.

What can you do to mitigate the impact?

Evaluate each file that is being loaded. In many cases, the render-blocking files are not even used by the finished page. In this case, it’s an obvious benefit to remove the files. If you’re using WordPress, a lot of plugins will come with their own CSS style sheets or JavaScript files. Even if you deactivate a plugin, it may not remove all of the files from the page load. Determine which plugins can be removed, and deactivate and delete them.

In some cases, render-blocking content is absolutely necessary. In that case, all you can do is try to keep the number o files to a minimum. You can also “minimize” the files, which removes all white space, comments, and makes certain functions and loops use fewer characters. Reducing the kB size of the file will make it download faster.

You can also keep the files just as they are, but load them last. Moving certain file references from the header to the footer means the whole page will load first, and only after it is almost entirely finished will it load the footer. Depending on the file, this may be perfectly acceptable. Your page could take 20 seconds to fully load, but if all of the visual and interactive elements are available after 1 second, then your load speeds are good.

Check out the blog on Measuring load speeds with Google PageSpeed Insights to see if render-blocking resources are a problem for your site. Faster load speeds can not only delight your users, but can have indirect benefits like better SEO ranking.

Best Practices

Measure load speeds with Google PageSpeed Insights

Load speeds for your website are an important metric to be aware of. The most obvious impact of a slow site is frustrated users – especially on mobile devices. However, it can also create a technical debt that can be difficult to overcome. Search engine crawlers aren’t going to wait around for your site to load so they can crawl and index it. That will indirectly impact your SEO ranking and could lead to less organic traffic over time.

Be aware of site load speeds

Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings

There are two free tools from Google that can tell you about your site’s load speeds: Google Analytics and Google PageSpeed Insights. I like to start in Google Analytics, because you can see aggregate data over time for each and every page of your site. It might be that you have a fast home page, but a very slow blog archive. Google Analytics will also link directly to PageSpeed Insights suggestions.

Navigate using the left-hand main menu to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings. Here you can look for any problem child in your entire site and start your focus there. First, the average load time for all pages is show at the top of the chart. Then each page is assigned a bar chart for its deviation from the average. The red bars show the slower page and what percentage above average they took to load. This is accumulated for all users over a period of time, so may not perfectly represent a single load experience you may have had.

Average Page Load Time compared to site average

Get more detailed data on load speeds

The menu item just after “Page Timings” is “Speed Suggestions.” If you’ve determined that you have a page with a load speed problem, this is the next place to go to view suggestions. The link for suggestions will actually take you to a new window loaded with PageSpeed Insights. So you could skip right to there from the beginning if you already know you have some slow pages. Here you will see more detailed information about some timing measurements.

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP) – how long it takes your site to go from a blank screen to the user seeing something
  • First Input Delay (FID) – any delay between a user interacting with an element, say clicking a button, and the page being ready to respond
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – basically how long it takes your site to look good and as if its finished loading (even if maybe it’s still doing some work in the background)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – how much do items move around on the page as they are being loaded

There may be no problems with the perception of your load speed, and often times, perception is reality. Take a look at these advanced measurements and look forward to another blog describing some common problems and things you can do to speed things up!

Graphic Design

Where to find good stock photos

Stock photos may have a negative connotation, but for me, they’re an important part of web design. I have a mantra I tell to each of my clients before we begin designing a website. “You don’t need a GREAT website. You need a GOOD website with GREAT images.”

It’s not that I’m trying to tell them or myself short. What I mean is that most modern WordPress templates take care of all of your technical requirements. They are mostly well optimized for SEO and responsive to mobile and different screen sizes. There really is no good reason today to design a website from scratch. Instead, your time is better spent looking for great images to fill in the placeholders in the template.

The best photos are from your organization, showing your services, and highlighting the people you serve. But if you’re just starting out you may not have a large media library to choose from and will need to resort to stock photos. As good stewards of digital data, we should avoid (intentionally or unintentionally) violating a copyright on a photo. That’s where license free photos come in handy. Photographers upload their stock imagery to different websites and grant you permission to download them, use them on your website, and edit them as you see fit. Some may ask for donations in return.

Four great websites for stock photos

  • Pexels – This was the first stock image website I found and used. And you will see many of the images there as featured photos on my blog posts.
  • Unsplash – As I started to blog about the same topics again and again, I started looking for variety in images and topics to choose from, and that’s when I found Unsplash.
  • Pixabay – Nowadays I search all three of these sites to find just the right image to portray the emotion I’m going for. You can use them for anything from print to web to social.
  • Vice Media – This last example fills a niche that other stock photo sites typically do not. They host images of gender fluid, non-binary, trans or queer people. If you are trying to reach this audience, it is a great place to find a few stock images that are more inclusive.

Take these websites for a spin and use them without losing sleep about a copyright infringement. From PowerPoint decks to social media posts, sometimes it’s just too much to rely solely on photos you and your organization have taken. Happy hunting!


5 Mobile Apps to help monitor your digital marketing

Gone are the days of being chained to your desk in order to run effective social media and digital marketing campaigns. Almost everything can be done from your phone on the go! Below are five mobile apps that will assist you in staying up to date on your success.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics App Icon

If your tracking parameters are all set up properly, then monitoring multiple campaign sources can be done from a single analytics platform. Google Analytics is free and the most common. The app has all of the data easily accessible in a mobile format as well as fantastic features like plain English querying of data.

Google My Business

Google My Business App Icon

Easily update your operating hours or any other information on the fly. Get notified in real time whenever someone leaves a review of your business. You should respond to every review, but especially negative reviews. Enable messenger and respond with anyone who might be trying to locate or contact you directly from Google search results.

Google Ads

Google Ads App Icon

All of your Google Ads campaigns are easily accessible from this mobile app. Switch between campaigns, Ad Groups, and individual ads to see their performance over time Add new keyword ideas or edit headlines and descriptions.


HootSuite App Icon

In Benefits of a Social Media Management Tool, I talked about HootSuite being a good aggregator for social media management. Their mobile app can be used in conjunction with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you can make edits to your scheduled posts and see what campaigns are active without having to open multiple apps. You can easily create new posts too if inspiration hits you while on the go.

Facebook Business Suite

Facebook Business Suite App Icon

If you are running social media advertising campaigns across Facebook and Instagram (or just looking to boost a few posts) then Facebook Business Suite will give you access to all of your campaign data. You can create new campaigns and track information like impressions and clicks from your mobile device. You can also enable or disable certain campaigns if you need to make a quick change due to overspending or other urgent reason.

Best Practices

Anchor Text: Good, Better, and Best Examples

Anchor text is an important and often overlooked aspect of SEO onsite optimization. Understanding the role it plays in crawling evaluations can help you eke out incrementally better performance.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text refers to the words you click on when clicking a hyperlink on a website. Traditionally they are blue and underlined. While it may seem like a technical necessity, there is an art and a strategy to selecting text. The more you can tell your visitor about where they will go when they click the link, the better. Think about anchor text as a keyword, and a link as a vote in favor of the destination URL to rank for that keyword.

Examples of good, better, and best

  • For our good example, we’ll make a link that is merely functional. It takes you from the page you are currently on to where you want to go.

    To learn more about Lorem Ipsum, click here: https://www.dijonmarketing.com/blog/what-is-lorem-ipsum/

    In the above example, the raw URL is not terrible since the URL has been well optimized for SEO and easily tells you the content of the link.
  • Still, it would be better to define some anchor text and hide the big, long URL. It can help with formatting as well not trying to cram that big long string onto a single line.

    To learn more about Lorem Ipsum, click here.

    That is much more compact and visually appealing. However, it is a little bit old school. When the internet was brand new and navigation wasn’t intuitive, it gave the user a directive of what to do. But it tells them nothing about what they will find.
  • The best anchor text in this scenario would tell the user what they will discover, as well as give directives to crawlers about the most valuable content available for a set of keywords.

    Continue reading to learn more about Lorem Ipsum.

    In today’s web, users can be trusted to know what a hyperlink looks like and to be able to decipher clickable text, so the words “click here” don’t need to appear.

You can see the evolution from good to better to best. If you discipline yourself to stop and think before every link is added to your website, you will see a benefit in your SEO performance. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time than to go back and correct everything. Next time you see a good or better example, you’ll know how to make it best!

Graphic Design

What is Lorem Ipsum?

You may have seen the term Lorem Ipsum around the internet (or at ye olde print shoppe). You can even see on my Twitter bio I facetiously claim to speak Lorem Ipsum. But what is it? Is it a real language? Why does it even exist in the first place?

Is Lorem Ipsum a language?

Lorem Ipsum is not, strictly speaking, a language. It is based on Latin, and certainly some of the words could be directly translated. But it is not intended to mean anything or relay any information.

It can be a fun activity to pop sections of Lorem Ipsum into Google Translate. For example:

ipsum dolor sit amet

Translates to:

the pain itself is to be loved


Why does Lorem Ipsum exist?

Lorem Ipsum exists because it looks like real text. When designing a page layout, whether digitally or physically, it is helpful to have some text where paragraphs are meant to go. But you almost never have the finished text to test.

It can also be distracting to the viewer if real text is used. Your eyes instinctively focus on the copy and subconsciously read the lines. Rather than looking at the white space, balance, layout, or design, you focus instead on the text. Real text is distracting enough. Silly placeholder text is even worse.

That’s where Lorem Ipsum comes in. It occupies the same space using roughly the same letters, word lengths, sentence structure, and cadence. But it’s completely unreadable, so your eyes are not distracted by its presence. Take this paragraph for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam congue a elit a rutrum. Cras vestibulum dapibus quam non auctor. Donec gravida tempor pulvinar. Nam id efficitur arcu. Suspendisse congue eu sem vel luctus. Suspendisse ut justo aliquam, suscipit purus et, pharetra justo. Aenean faucibus orci non sodales scelerisque. Nullam dignissim efficitur dui vel bibendum. Nulla facilisi. Integer laoreet quis purus dapibus euismod. Praesent eget leo a libero semper elementum nec sit amet est.

Pleasing in its composition, but mostly utter nonsense.

Where to get Lorem Ipsum?

One thing you may notice about Lorem Ipsum is that it’s consistent. It always stars with the same words and has remain unchanged since around the 1500s. So where is everyone getting it?

The good news is, these days there are plenty of generators available online. My favorite is at Lipsum.com. Here you can specify how many paragraphs, words, or bytes of text you need. Click a button, copy/paste, and you can move on to more important aspects of your design. The ease of this beats even the fastest gibberish typer, so I will use it exclusively for any design activities. Give it a try on your next layout and feel in on the secret of Lorem Ipsum!

Graphic Design

Serif versus Sans Serif fonts

You may have seen some fonts in your Microsoft Word styles labeled as “sans serif.” But did you ever stop to think what that means? A serif is a small flourish on the ends of letters in a font. If the font doesn’t employ these small calligraphic embellishments, then it is sans serif, or without serif.

serif versus sans serif

The two most well known examples of each type of font are:

  • Serif – Times New Roman
  • Sans Serif – Arial

It may not be imperative to know this definition, but it can help you with some basic type-setting or stylistic determinations. An easy way to make printed words look good (or blocks of text on a web page) is to alter the headings and the body text between two similar fonts – one with and one without serifs. For example, two geometric fonts that use very circular letters can be used together if one has serifs and the other does not.

The addition of the font flourishes is just one designating feature of a font. The size, shape, weight, and style of the font all factor into the final look – but also whether two fonts will look good together. Similar fonts with just one attribute different between them pair harmoniously for the reader. If they differ in 3 or 4 different ways they cease to be pleasing to the eye and can even be distracting to the reader.

The next time you go to add text to a document, a webpage, or even a social media graphic, ask yourself if adjusting the serif between paired fonts will get you a more professional and pleasing look.

Best Practices

Google for Nonprofits 2020 year end message

It is a great privilege to be able to assist multiple nonprofits in how to navigate Google for Nonprofits. I help with everything from how to judge eligibility, enrollment, enabling products, and staying compliant with the many rules and regulations required once approved. It can be daunting for the uninitiated, but with a little help, the rewards are great.

Did you know that Google for Nonprofits is a full grant program that spans many of Google’s Business solutions? The entire GSuite line of products, which includes Gmail, Calendars, User admin, Google Meet, and more is a great way to establish a cloud-based email system. Google Ads also let you advertise for free on Google search results pages for certain key terms. There are also programs for YouTube and Google Maps.

These tools help nonprofits be more efficient and effective at solving problems at the local community level. I will add my gratitude to the video below from Google. Dijon Marketing connects good people to people doing good. But I couldn’t do that nearly as effectively without the generous tools provided by Google.

Best Practices

Join in the spirit of GivingTuesday 2020

This Tuesday, December 1, 2020 is GivingTuesday. Started in 2012, GivingTuesday has grown to become a global day encouraging generosity. That can include anything from going out of your way say hi to a neighbor to making financial contributions to nonprofit organizations helping out in your community.

GivingTuesday Logo

It is especially poignant this year when so many are in need due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are looking for individuals or organizations in your community that could use either volunteer or monetary donations, a good place to start is by searching for #GivingTuesday. Most will have some social media posts in the next few days asking for your help.

Ways to participate in GivingTuesday

  • Volunteer your time to assist a local organization either on site or remotely. It’s likely you have a skill set that could be useful, even if it’s not directly on the front lines.
  • Amplify the message of a nonprofit whose values you share. Add a link to their homepage, retweet their latest post, or shout them out in an Instagram story.
  • Donate needed items. That could be canned goods for a food drive, knitting scarves for a clothing drive, or fulfilling an Amazon wish list.
  • Make a monetary donation. Just about every nonprofit is hurting this year from a lack of fundraising events and opportunities. Making a one-time or recurring donation can help them keep their mission alive.
  • Spread kindness. Perform random acts of kindness for friends, family, or complete strangers. You never know how your simple act could transform the day for the recipient.

To learn more about this global day of selflessness or to find a local or issue-based participant, visit the official Giving Tuesday website.