A user recently contacted us asking if we knew of any ways to keep users updated about news and other changes to their Freeway web sites. Like most things when it comes to web design there are several ways that you can do this.
Below we outline just a few ideas you may like to investigate;
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) are a family of file formats that allow site owners an easy way to wrap information (text, images, video etc) in a convenient format that can be consumed easily by users using a web browser, email client, dedicated RSS reader or any other compatible device.
Freeway users can produce an RSS feed either manually using the built in RSS Feed Action, the third party Simple RSS Action, or as part of a blogging tool like Blogger. Freeway allows you to easily design a Blogger template to use with the service so your blog can integrate seamlessly with the rest of your site.
Another method is to ask users to sign-up for an e-mail newsletter and email them at regular intervals with updates on the site, offers and other news. This is a much more direct way of building a relationship with your audience and should allow you to drive traffic back to the site quite effectively.
For low volume newsletters you could manage your user subscriptions and emails manually although for anything more than a few dozen users this could get involved as you deal with requests for changing details and unsubscriptions.
Services like Mad Mimi, MailChimp, Constant Contact and Vertical Response (to name a few) all allow you to manage your subscribers and email campaigns from a secure on-line interface. Although all work on a subscription of pay-as-you-go basis many offer free accounts for users with less than a set number of subscribers. Another benefit of using a hosted service to manage your newsletters is that recipients can self manage their subscription preferences (or even unsubscribe) without your manual intervention.
Freeway 5.5 offers the ability to design your own HTML newsletters using the Create Email Action. If you are using one of the services listed above (or one of the many others that are also available) you can simply paste the code into the on-line tool and get started straight away with an email design that matches your site.
You should also consider adding social media links to your site and set up a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page so that users can engage with you through these popular services. This is now even easier using Freeway 5.5, which comes bundled with Facebook and Twitter Actions. For more information see the What's New in 5.5 section of the Using Freeway Guide, which you can get from here.
The AddThis Action offers a vast array of social media links that allow your visitors to bookmark and follow you using these and other popular sites.
The web has been transformed over the last few years from what was once a publishing platform where web site visitors were expected to consume content (text, images, video etc) into an environment where users now expect to be engaged and to enter into a dialog with site owners as well as fellow users. The social web is an ever changing place but is wonderful place to keep your site visitors content and happy to return to your site.