Optimising Your Webpage: Using the Right Hand Side

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Tips on Using the Right Hand Side of your Website Without Having it Ignored

During the earlier years of web design, the right rail (or right hand) side of a webpage was the most commonly used area to feature advertisements—something still actually happening to this day. But with the overload of information users get on the Internet, many of them have grown accustomed to ignoring these areas and anything else that resembles advertising. However, when used the right way, sidebars can actually increase the usability and discoverability of your web content.

Seeing as how the right rail side of a page accounts for up to 20 percent of its available pixels, it would be foolish to completely abandon it without at least giving it a try. The sidebar can be a good place to feature secondary content, where you can help users move on to other areas of your website.

Below are a few tips from web usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group on how to use the right rail side of your website more effectively, helping you get a better return of investment from this section

Give your Sidebar a Clean Design

Cluttered sidebars look like banner ads, so go for a design that’s clean and minimalist, as it garners trust more effectively. Since users these days tend to focus on goals and want to see information they actually care about, anything that feels forced or spammy is immediately ignored—you obviously don’t want this happening to your sidebar.

Many site owners however, gravitate towards designing their sidebars to be loud and colorful out of fear of these spaces looking empty. Unfortunately, they’re only doing more harm. In their usability studies, the Nielsen Norman Group found that users will still ignore items they actually need even when it’s in plain sight, all because it looks like an ad.

With that said, it’s best to go for a lightweight and simple design for the right rail side of your page, one that flows smoothly with the content on the main section.

Keep Sidebar Content Clear from Banner Ads

Since it’s unlikely that you’ll let go of banner ads, the best thing you can do to prevent your sidebar content from being mistaken as an ad (and therefore ignored) is to keep it away from ads. The human mind is conditioned to see connections between things, so elements on a page that are close together are seen as being related.

Make your sidebar stand out by not wedging it between ads. Keep your sidebar content in clear site, giving them a design that again, flows with the main section of your page.

Have Content that’s Actually Useful

When it comes right down to it, users will use a sidebar if it actually provides useful content. Many site owners often don’t know what to with the right rail, choosing instead to place redundant links on it. Provide suggests that are natural and actually useful, like nested list of useful categories (for products and the like).



Spamming is Legal for Australian Politicians

By | Announcements, Comment | No Comments

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Open Season for Spam Emails in Australia as During Australia’s Federal Election.

With the recent federal election in Australia, it came with an expected onslaught of campaign messages both in your mail and electronic inbox. With email addresses not thoroughly protected under law, it’s practically open season for politicians and parties as far as sending electronic campaign messages go.

Chances are, during the campaigns you’ve received spam from the Palmer United Party, led by polarising businessman/politician Clive Palmer. The party has been busy shooting off its campaign emails everywhere, with multiple users across Australia reporting to have received messages on various .org.au, .edu.au, and .gov.au email addresses.

Even generic addresses used by several Senate committees haven’t been spared, with reports saying some addresses have gotten 3 or 4 messages daily.

spam clive palmer federal election


It’s clear that messages like this:

Men and Women of Australia:

“Australia’s debt is increasing at $3 billion every week. It’s time for a fundamental change. Our debt has gone up $30 billion in the past 10 weeks. Palmer United has a positive policy to turbo-charge the Australian economy…”


“An urgent reform of Australian food labelling was required to keep profits at home and protect local jobs, the federal leader of the Palmer United Party Clive Palmer said.

Mr. Palmer said that if elected, his part would ensure uniform food-labelling reform in Australia to promote the endeavours of local producers and boost employment.”

…are spam emails, so the question is, are these emails legal, and more importantly, just how did the Palmer United Party get a hold of so many email addresses?


The bad news, at least for recipients of these messages, is that such emails are actually legal. In fact, they’re not even recognised as spam by Australian law. The Spam Act of 2003 notes that “commercial electronic messages” are to be sent only with the recipient’s consent, and that they should identify sender and come with an unsubscribe function that stops you from receiving messages.

But a wide range of organisations are exempt from many of the act’s provisions, including  registered political parties — as well as government bodies, registered charities, as well as educational and religious organisations.

In other words, PUP is free to send you emails if they have your address. Chalk it up to the wonders of democracy.

How’d They Acquire your Emails?

It’s easier than it looks.

For starters, the federal government and states actually have access to online directories that list key persons and generic email addresses. It’s quick and easy to compile a mailing list with access to these directories.

What’s more, there’s an even easier way to put together a good list of addresses: renting or better yet, buying an existing one. Try running a search for “email lists Australia” and you’ll likely find various companies that are more than happy to fire off your messages to your desired demographic. Multiple organisations have decided to sell their email databases for the right price; the only exemption being those that have explicitly stated that they won’t share addresses.

At Enform, we like to inform our partners and clients that their email addresses are by no means a secret, nor are they truly protected. Every person and organisation you’ve ever emailed knows it and in the case of the latter, probably keeps it for “safekeeping.”


Automailer Spam Test scores and what they mean for your eDM’s

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The most important point is that your eDM message is being seen by your targeted audience, correct?

If so, it needs to get there first before it can be seen.

Automailer Spam test is an effective content based Spam filter test tool, using a scoring system where messages are tagged as Spam only when they have enough Spam characteristics in total. A properly managed Automailer Spam test correctly identifies 90% – 95% of Spam.

If your message score’s a 5 in the Spam test, this means that there are 5 counts of Spam characteristics found in your message and you may risk facing deliverability issues, whilst scores of greater than 10 will frequently develop delivery issues. Enform advises that any eDM you intend to send out to your database will have a higher chance of successful delivery if the Spam count is less than 5, in comparison to an eDM that has a Spam count of 5 or more.

Spam Assassin is the largest open source Spam filtering engine and they have provided some basic rules to avoid deliverable issues and warnings. Below is an explanation of some of the more popular content-based filtering rules you might see, along with some suggestions on how to avoid them.

Please keep in mind that some of these filters go against the grain of best practice email marketing however, at least your message is more likely to get through. Note that these apply to both Subject line and message body but it’s important to remember that the Subject line is arguably the most important to get right :

  • “Click here/ Click on the link below for details” – Avoid using this phrase as Spam tests triggers a warning when it sees this on the body of the email. Try and rephrase, instead use “read more” or “follow the link”.
  • A WHOLE LINE (OR MORE) OF CAPS – Spam tests look for whole sentences that use CAPS, usually seen in the Subject line. Avoid using CAPS regardless as it is equivalent to shouting at your customers.
  • $$$ sign – Do not use the ‘$’ symbol consecutively, Spam tests examine the body of the message for any phrases that contain ‘$$$’. Only use it when needed, for instance, when you quote the price of a product.
  • “Free” or “FREE offer” – this is probably the most common word that sends Spam alerts. It can be difficult to avoid using this word if that is the message you would like to come across. Instead, use it in the body of the message and avoid using CAPS. DO NOT use ‘FREE’ in the subject line.
  • Heavy use of images – Spam tests examine messages that are graphic heavy or contain strange images. As a rule of thumb, emails must not be composed of over 40% image coverage. Text on the other hand, must be at least 60% larger or more prominent than images. Read more.
  • Messages sent on weekends are more likely to be identified as Spam than messages sent on weekdays.

It is sometimes difficult to ensure your eDM is clear of all content based filters. However, it is important to avoid having any of the above in the Subject line. This is the first thing people will see, if the subject line contains word such as “offer”, “free” or “special”, otherwise your message may be consequently regarded as Spam mail.

If it is necessary to use words or characters that are regarded as Spam characteristics, only include them within the body of the message and be mindful of the way you phrase an offer for a product or to notify customers of a special offer.

Enform Automailer has Spam and mail client test capability built in to help you check your message and ensure you get maximum audience engagement and conversion. Remember, too often we obsess over how our messages are seen by recipients, in reality, they are never perfect. However, no one will see them if they don’t even get through.

Always be wary of your intended audience and ensure you test your eDM before sending. Enform’s Automailer service can assist with targeted delivery of your eDMs by maintaining a thorough client database so you can ensure that your messages are being sent to the right people.

Guidelines on the Spam Act of 2003

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Due to the advent of e-mail marketing in the early 2000s, it became fairly evident that the new marketing platform was easily prone to abuse. Widespread reports of spam spurned the Parliament of Australia to pass a piece of federal legislation called the Spam Act 2003.


While the act, which has obviously been around for quite some time, may sound like something that effectively shuts down e-mail marketing, it actually only provides some fundamental rules, making things “safer” for both marketers and consumers alike. This also explains why e-mail marketing is still very much considered a vital component of any online marketing strategy here in the country today.

Enform has an Automailer product, which is specifically designed to abide with the stated rules of Spam Act 2003. It is a permission-based e-mail marketing tool which helps clients and customers keep in touch with each other, without resorting to illegal measures to attract subscribers.

The Spam Act 2003 essentially outlaws the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages with an Australian link. Messages with Australian links are those that originated in Australia, or are messages originating overseas, but sent to an e-mail address accessed within the country. The Act covers both single and bulk electronic messages, and encompasses instant messages, SMS and MMS, Internet pop-up ads, and fax messages.

In order to contravene the Spam Act 2003, Parliament outlined three rules for marketers to follow.

  • Firstly, electronic messages for marketing purposes can only be sent to individuals who have expressed consent to receive such information.
  • Secondly, marketers must make it clear who is sending the message, what the message is about, and how the sender can be contacted. Furthermore, such information must be accurate for no less than 30 days.
  • Lastly, recipients of electronic messages must be provided with a clear option to unsubscribe from being part of a marketer’s direct e-mail list. Marketers are bound by law to provide unsubscribe facilities to their subscribers.

Each rule of course, has a number of specifics you may want to look up. More information can be found in the attached PDF image and as always, Enform’s just a call away if you need more on the subject.

Automailer & Spam Act Guidelines <—- CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GUIDELINES