splash_temp_arrowIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well my view is that in the context of being a member of multiple sites by the same owner, email newsletters are broken!

If you’re a member of more than one of my sites, maybe you’re happy getting an email per site. Or maybe you’d rather get all mails from my sites under one ‘subscription’?

Maybe by the time I’ve finished this, you won’t really notice the difference.

 

The truth is, I want to change how I manage emails so that I can be more efficient, write better targeted emails, and hopefully give you, my loyal subscribers, a better experience.

One simple example: you’re a member of more than one of my sites and I decide I’ve got something generic to say. Ordinarily, I’d have to compose an email to each site’s list and send it, meaning you get the same email several times.

By using my new strategy, you’ll only be signed up once – and unsubscribing will unsubscribe you from everything at once. But before you think, “oh great”, in time, you’ll need to be on my list to log into my sites. Why? Because I’m not prepared to have members of my sites that I can’t reliably email. That’s not because I want to force you to get all my emails. But if I have an important message about say, VitalViralPro that I need to be as sure as I can that you read, I don’t want some members to not be subscribed and then send in support tickets because something’s not working the way it used to. Without wanting to sound like a control freak, if you want to be a member, you’re going to need to be on the list to be able to log in so that at the very least, I can send important, site related messages.

That said,  I’m sure you’ll have a lot less reason to want to unsubscribe because you’ll be able to select with some precision, which kind of emails you want to receive.

And I’m calling it Marketing Menu for two reasons:

  • It’ll become my only newsletter. I’ll send about all kinds of topics and like a menu, I don’t expect you to be interested in every edition. Like a menu, choose from what you like, ignore the rest
  • More importantly, you’ll have a ‘menu’ of topics you can choose to be informed about – or not. So while there will be a core newsletter that you can’t opt out of (not while you’re a member of one or more sites), you will be able to opt in or out of specific topics

Aweber and AW Pro Tools

I have about 40 lists in my aweber account, many are kind of obsolete now but I still have a lot that are active. So maybe you were a prospect for VitalViralPro at one time, so you’ll be on one newsletter. Then you may have joined, so you’re added to another. Then you might have unsubscribed from the VitalViralPro main newsletter and now I can’t contact you as a member.

It’s messy and inefficient.

As a project, this might be of interest to those of you who use Aweber. Aweber introduced campaigns some time ago, maybe a couple of years. Campaigns are standalone sequences of messages that can be triggered by different actions. I won’t go into too much detail now, maybe I’ll do a separate blog post some time.

Members on the main list can be opted in and out of one or more campaigns. Although Aweber provides a mechanism for members of a list to optin, it needs to be done by filling in another signup form, which isn’t exactly intuitive or user friendly.

That’s where AW Pro Tools comes in. Using AWPT you can create simple links that tag a subscriber for one or more campaigns. So in an email, you might see a link that simply says, click here to find out more about xyz and hey presto, you’ll receive the campaign about xyz until it finishes. There can be a ‘drop this topic’ link too.

I can’t change everything over instantly and it’s a learning exercise for me too so it’s something that’s going to evolve. I can’t write all the campaigns I need overnight either.

 

My hope is that you’ll start to see some really neat features as everything becomes integrated.

 

DLB Caddy – Other Browsers

safariIEThe rewrite of DLB Caddy for Firefox uses an evolving browser standard called Web Extensions.

(it gets confusing because these Web Extensions are not the same as the browser extension, simply an API that can be used in browser extensions)

Right now, Google, with Chrome, have the definitive set of Web Extensions that other browsers are gradually implementing. Firefox has fairly good support and luckily, nothing crucial was missing.

Microsoft are some way behind but will eventually have support, which should mean DLB Caddy will work on Edge too.

Safari is the difficult one because there’s no clear indication yet that Safari intend to support enough of the Web Extensions standard to make DLB Caddy feasible using the same code as for other browsers. They do have an API but right now, it looks like it would have to be rewritten specifically for Safari.

I have committed to doing a Safari version, and I’m sure I will. But having to write a separate set of code just for that browser means it can’t be my highest priority right now. Especially as every bug or new feature will mean two sets of code have to be debugged and modified.

 

DLB Caddy – Chrome

ChromeRight now, the Chrome version of DLB Caddy is still using the crossrider system.

As soon as the Firefox Version is approved and has been downloaded and sufficiently tested, I’ll be using the same code and uploading it to the Chrome extensions store   because it’s important for me that I have the same code base (as far as practically possible) for all browsers.

As you can imagine, writing an extension that can work with downline builders it’s never even seen before is somewhat of a challenge.

The real big problem is that if I have to update DLB Caddy to work with a new type of downline builder, there’s always a real danger that the modification could break support for a previously working downline builder.

For that reason, I have a load of automated tests using stored copies of web pages that verify the code against those stored pages.

Even so, it’s hard enough to make those changes; I don’t want to be having to do that on a different set of code for each browser.

So once the Firefox version is proven, I’ll be uploading the same code to the Chrome extensions store because it will make life easier. I don’t want to do it before because right now, we know the chrome version is working, albeit the crossrider version.

One bonus of doing this rewrite to not depend on crossrider is that in future, there should be no issues with people not being able to install DLB Caddy because their anti-virus or anti-malware software complains because of crossrider.

DLB Caddy and Firefox

Firefox is a PITA

firefoxThe first extension I developed was Ultisend – a utility to help manage templates and mailing schedules in mailers.

I wrote it using a 3rd party service called crossrider which promised (and delivered) the ability to write one extension and it would run on all the major browsers, i.e. crossrider took care of the huge differences between browsers.

By the time I created DLB Caddy (again using crossrider), Firefox were starting to make it harder and harder to install browser extensions that weren’t offered via their Addons Directory.

And now, a few short months after the launch of DLB Caddy, with the release of FF 48, it’s no longer possible to install the original version of DLB Caddy.

The annoying thing is that Firefox did this before they had full support for the common standard called Web Extensions, which every browser should support sooner or later.

However, I started rewriting DLB Caddy to not use crossrider and found that, fortunately, their support for Web Extensions covered enough parts that I needed.

So, I created a new version and uploaded it to the Addons Directory and filled in all the information they need to review and hopefully approve it. As I write this, it’s 95th in the queue!

 

 

 

 

Is video the only way?

No.

Should you have video?

Yes.

But a sales page without a video may do way better than a sales page that is just a video.

Does Everyone Want Video? Really?

Lots of gooorooos would have us believe that video is the modern way, the only way.

I disagree.

What I want, and believe many people want, is to have choice and to be in control.

I might not have time to watch a 10 minute video (especially if the first 8 minutes are fluff about how good the creator is or how he was homeless 3 years ago) when all I might need at that time is 5 bullet points.

I might not want to listen to a video because it’s 5am and the rest of the family are asleep.

And I really don’t want a video where you deliberately remove the controls and force me to watch it the way you want me to watch it.

Every time someone forces us to do something a certain way, when we know we’d rather do it a different way, our hackles rise. And that’s supposed to be good for getting the sale?

There are so many examples of what I call selfish marketing.

If I force you to opt-in just to view my page, the conversion rate of that opt-in may well be high. But at what cost?

A buy button that doesn’t appear until you’re near the end of the video? Come on, treat me with respect.

How about this for an awesome, but not rocket science, outline of a page:

  • 5 bullet points
  • A paragraph of explanation
  • If you want to learn more, watch the video or read further down the page.
  • Here’s the buy button
  • [Detailed stuff that I can read if I want to]

Boom. Works for me.

I don’t want to be a sheep and i encourage you not to be either.

I think maybe 80% of people are sheep, 20% think for themselves. 80% of people say “video is good, you must have a video sales page” and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because all people see are video sales pages, video capture pages, they believe it’s the way and start to spout off to others that it’s the way – and so it becomes the way.

Trust me, you won’t lose genuine potential customers because you don’t have a video (provided you have decent content to read). Yes, I might have preferred to watch a video. But you don’t have one? That’s fine.

At the end of the day, I got what I needed to know from your page – you did a good job.

But if all you have is a video, and at that moment in time, I don’t want to watch a video? Or you make me sit through a video and at the end, I think “you just wasted 10 minutes of my life?” – you did a really crap job my friend!

There are so many products that promise unlimited traffic – luring you to buy with words like “automated”, “limitless” and free.

I recently bought Traffic Elixir based on the sales page. After all, we all need traffic, right? I always but always look at something I buy as an investment and provided I think it will make me my money back (and more), I’m always willing to look for more traffic.

But right now, I’m still in two minds whether to refund or not…

The product is great – if you’re comfortable with doing (what I would call) Black Hat stuff.

The only reason I’m not instantly refunding is that I already took away some good ideas from it. And if those ideas profit me to the tune of the relatively small amount involved, it’s not fair to ask for a refund.

If you don’t buy the OTO, the basic product would be a no-brainer at the cost. It’s based around Google+ – a very under-exploited resource (myself included).

But here’s the catch…

To get the kind of traffic it promises, you need multiple accounts. BIG LOUD WARNING BELLS!

Some people don’t think twice about doing black hat or grey hat stuff (grey hat is ‘kind of bad’ but not as bad as black hat).

What is black (or grey) hat?

It means different things to different people and in different contexts.

At its core it means deceiving, tricking, fooling, frauding (is that a word?), abusing, exploting loopholes – ah!

As I wrote that, I figured out how I explain this – I wasn’t sure before.

Google have a passion for beating black hats

If a system requires that you set up multiple accounts (aliases) to make it work then there’s a reason for that.

And in this case the reason is that you need to join hundreds of G+ groups for this to work. And Big G looks for suspicious behaviour so if you join 100’s of groups, you’ll be flagged right away as a potential spammer.

So Traffic Elixir gets round that by suggesting you set up multiple G+ accounts – aliases; You try to trick Google.

Good luck with that!

It may work now but Google’s passion for beating anyone that exploits them is well known.

The people that sell this kind of stuff say things like, “avoid the Google slap” (the Google slap was when Google changed their algorithm and a ton of black hat pages effectively got removed).

If google wanted you to be able to join hundreds of groups and send the same spam to all of them, they’d let you. But they don’t.

Traffic Elixir gets around this a little by ‘spinning’ the post you make (creating different versions of it) for each group (you need to sign up to a 3rd party service for this).

But hold on. Do they think Big G is stupid? Have they not heard of IP Addresses?

It’s only my opinion but I know if I lost my main Gmail account, I’d be dead in the water. Although I have many email accounts (for white hat reasons), almost everything I do is through Gmail.

And if Google slap you, you will lose everything. Is it worth the risk?

Do your own due diligence – I won’t use the black hat stuff within Traffic Elixir even though there’s stuff I can use.

One last question for you…

There’s a lot of psychology in sales pages.

A big one is that the right words and some slick presentation (appearing as an authority) can totally make you drop your defences and start hanging on every word you read.

Some marketers are genuine and they want to share what they’ve found with others – sure they do it to make some more money but that’s how the world works – trade.

But ask yourself this question:

If this system works so well, they could make far more by employing teams of VAs (virtual assistants) to create 10 accounts each and drive boat loads of traffic anywhere they wanted. They’d make more than they would by selling it to you for a few 10’s of dollars. Why do they sell it?

Unscrupulous people sell stuff that no longer works or sometimes never worked.

Don’t lose your home, don’t get slapped.

You could end up needing to change your internet provider just to be able to get a Gmail account again. And if you take the OTO, facebook too.

Most people would lose their left arm before their facebook account.

If you want to find out how to get more traffic and make more income, signup for my newsletter below.

[optinTango id=3]

Why Paid Traffic Rocks

Today I added a new article called “The Not-So-Obvious Advantages Of Larger Commissions“.

Part of the conclusion is the power you have when you change your mindset and treat traffic as an investment that will give you a positive ROI (return on investment).

It’s not easy to scale free traffic without spending more time and effort (or using a good downline builder like VitalViralPro) but paid traffic can be scaled up at will:

  • You buy a seed batch of leads or clicks
  • You make sales and a certain ROI
  • If that ROI is positive, you can scale up
  • More importantly, you can get a measure of how much you can afford to pay for your traffic

To read the full article, click here.

how to remember everything

It’s no use filing information any more
and expecting to remember
where you filed it

I don’t know about you but I really feel the effects of information overload at times. Much of it is self-inflicted – I’m co-owner of various programs and a member of hundreds. I have ideas, I see sites I like and want to review later, I have swipe files (a swipe file is like a scrapbook of adverts and sales copy and more that is the inspiration for ideas for my own creations), software documentation, photos, purchased resources like graphics, audio files, web templates…and that’s just a quick scratch of the top of my head!

I’m also a self-confessed ‘systems’ person – my historical ‘lack of organisation’ and sheer frustration about not being able to find things over the years has let to me imposing system after system on myself in a (mostly) futile attempt to get better at handling tons of information.

Managing your time and managing your information are probably the two biggest skills you need to master if you want to pursue an online career and make a success of it. And of those two, managing your information will definitely help your time management (I know you can’t manage time blah blah but you know what I mean)

Every other skill you need can be googled, outsourced, borrowed, plagiarized (half joking) – as a software developer (and one that doesn’t get up every day younger than the day before) that needs to work regularly in various major programming languages, various programming environments and multiple projects, the speed with which I can either recall or find information I need is absolutely key to my productivity – I can’t stress that enough.

For example, sometimes I need to create some code and know I’ve done something similar somewhere before – but where – I have literally millions of lines of code to search. Can I remember which project it was? Sometimes. Which file it was in? Rarely – that requires a search – assuming I can think of something specific enough to search for.

Filing vs Searching

Say your field involves thousands of recipes. You want to recall a recipe for a cake you remember that had ginger in it. Chances are, your recipes are filed under categories that include cakes. Yes, you might have other recipes that involve ginger but you’re not looking for a Chinese stir-fry recipe here – you know you’re looking for a cake. But suppose you need to write an article about a particular spice and all the various recipes it’s used in. Now your filing system isn’t much help to you because you didn’t file your recipes under the spice they contained (even assuming they only contained one). And how would you file a recipe based on two major spices or ingredients anyway?

This is the dilemma with the filing method of information retrieval. Each item you file gets stored in one place and your ability to retrieve it depends on your ability to remember where it would be filed. You could have folders for cakes and for spices and store a recipe under both but then you might need to make multiple copies to store under all the categories you might want to search for in the future – country of origin, main ingredients, contains nuts, vegetarian or not, original creator…I’m not much of a cook but I hope the analogy works for you.

If you adopt a ‘search rather than file’ paradigm (and this only works when items are stored electronically), you wouldn’t worry about trying to remember where you stored your recipes, you would just search for terms you know appear in the recipe and narrow that search down until you find what you’re looking for.

So if you need a recipe for a main course that contains ginger, you search for ginger. If the number of results is too high to search, you narrow it down to vegetarian only or to recipes that also contain noodles.

The key to the search paradigm working effectively is search terms. Anyone that’s proficient in using search engines becomes subconsciously skilled at knowing what makes good search terms and what doesn’t. Some search terms are too vague and return way too many results for you to find the specific thing you’re looking for. Some are too specific and return too few results that the one you want isn’t even amongst them. But I search by starting broad and then adding more search terms to make the search more relevant (I also use negative terms a lot but that’s even more powerful and not relevant to this article).

But you might first search online for a recipe by typing ginger. Then you realise you’re seeing results for cats, hair and recipes so you add curry to your search – that should get rid of the felines and people. And so on, narrowing down your search until the number of results is manageable to search through manually.

Sometimes, searching with a search engine is good enough but would an online recipe necessarily contain the words ‘main course’? I imagine a desert recipe often contains the word desert but it could call itself a pudding.

Enter the wonderful world of tags

Tags are beautiful and wonderful – and immensely powerful.

You’re probably familiar with tags but in case you’re not, tags are keywords that you can identify about an item. So sticking with the recipe analogy (and assume we’re going to scan and file recipes electronically), you would add tags to each recipe before you store it. Now here’s the thing: you can add as many tags as makes sense. No need to decide between filing under ginger or main course or from Latvia or curry – you just add all those tags at the time you file it. And provide you have the means to add and search by tags, your information retrieval problem is well and truly licked.

Let’s change the object of searching to emails for a moment. Not that many years ago, I used a program called Outlook to receive and store emails. Running an online business, for legal reasons I have to keep many emails but storage is cheap so even then I rarely deleted an email, it just got archived. Some emails had no immediate relevance but there’s a good chance I’d want to be able to find them some time in the future.

I agonised over how to file emails. Do you file by sender or by topic? Or by the type of email? Do I file by project  or topic? More often than not, when I needed to find an email, I’d resort to the search feature to find it.

Let go of worrying about how to file and trust instead in the ability to search for what you want. If you have programs that allow you to search within documents then you may not need tags. If you use gmail or almost any email client, you can probably search in all kind of ways and find what you’re looking for easily – making it irrelevant how you filed (although sensible filing and only searching in certain folders may help).

Under your operating system, you can search for documents that contain certain words. If you use that, who cares where you decided to file it!

Contacts is another one where there’s a potential filing dilemma (assuming you have more contacts than you can easily recall why you have them just from the name) – do you file under personal/business? The company they work for? The job they do?

Replace your notebook!

If we’re talking about emails, word processor documents, spreadsheets – files that contain machine readable text, there’s generally not too much problem. Those are very specific kinds of documents with specific programs for handling them.

I still have a notebook on my desk at all times – I use it to augment my short term memory. Sometimes I find it easier to think if I write something. But I long stopped expecting to be able to find something I needed in my notebooks. I started creating important notes on the computer.

When I first started, they were usually word processor documents or spreadsheets but then I discovered what I briefly thought was a panacea – Microsoft OneNote – wow, what a program! Until I started tying myself in knots because the paradigm of OneNote is that you hierarchically file your notes! So I’ve just written a great piece of code that I will probably want to refer to again in future. Do I file it under the project I was working on? The problem it solves? The client? The language? The answer for me is what is the single piece of information I’m most likely to recall in the future – and unfortunately I often remember I wrote a piece of code to do something but not always what project it was for – and by project is the usually the way it makes sense to file.

So I realised, I wasted all this time creating category hierarchies but was rarely able to find things by drilling down through categories because of the many ways I might have decided to file at the time.

Evernote - never forget anything again

They say elephants never forget.
With Evernote, you won’t either.

 

These days I use a wonderful, wonderful program called Evernote. When I first started using it, I still believed that my main problem was deciding how to categorise information – so I naturally thought in terms of hierarchies – creating nested ‘folders’ to store my notes in. Don’t make that mistake – it’s pointless. There’s no harm in having some – like personal/business or for major projects – but you won’t be finding things by looking through ‘folders’, you’ll be a master at using tags!

When I want to file a snippet of code, I can copy and paste the code into Evernote or just create a note that refers to the relevant code. But the key thing that makes the system so wonderful is that I don’t need to agonise over where to file the note – I just add any tag I can think of that’s relevant to the note I’m storing. The project name, the year, the language, the client, the problem it solves (or at least the major type of problem such as ‘validating email addresses’).

Later, I can have Evernote show me all my notes that contain the tag ‘javascript’ – assuming I remember I’m looking for something written in javascript. But if I can’t remember the language, I can probably remember enough things to be able to find it fairly quickly.

I didn’t discuss it here as this post was long enough but my other criteria for productivity tools these days is that they should be able to store my information ‘in the cloud’ so I can access it from anywhere. Evernote meets that criteria so I can add or retrieve notes from my mobile devices too.

They say in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Mastering being able to find any information you want, when you need it will make you a ruler in your field. Tags are the key!

Save your time – and your sanity

1Back in 2012 I wrote about how frustrating I find the trend towards video not being an additional medium I could choose to watch, but to it being the only way I can find out about something.

Sales pages are the worst for this now.

I get an email saying, “hey – check this out” and then the link takes me to a video – with no controls so I can skip fluff and I waste 10 or 20 minutes of my life watching something when I could have skimmed a sales page to determine first whether it was something that would interest me.

I’ve discovered a seriously useful tool that lets you watch videos at any speed you like – and the audio is cleverly processed so it’s still intelligible.

You can certainly watch videos at 50% faster and still understand them. And you can speed up and slow down at will.

It’s a paid tool but there’s a free trial available – I strongly urge you to try it out.

Enounce MySpeed 5

This post was triggered by an email I received today – more on that shortly.

If you use any kind of advertising, you should be tracking. And yes, that applies to you traffic exchange advertisers – especially you!

But unless you design and host your own splash pages, there’s a problem – one that no-one really talks about.

You see if you promote xyz affiliate program using their promotional tools, you can’t track. Everyone says “you gotta track”, no-one tells you you can’t track. At least not without a very different kind of tracker.

The reason is that  every tracker out there (with the exception of 2)  is a hit tracker. That means it tracks hits. So suppose you send 1000 visitors to a splash page. Your hit tracker will tell you, “guess what, you got 1000 hits to your page”.

No shit, Sherlock.

What I want to know is how many people clicked on the splash page. Then I can split test and so on. “Oh, sorry Sir, we’re a lowly hit tracker, we can’t track actions

What you really want to be able to do is track actions.

That’s why the email triggered this post – it was aimed squarely at traffic exchange users saying they must track. But traffic exchanges have a particular feature – you tell them you want 1000 hits to a specific page and they do it (well, most do). So where’s the value or benefit in a hit tracker that tells you you got 1000 hits to your page?

If you’re promoting a splash page, there’s actually very little use tracking the hits to the splash page – you normally know that. What you want to do is measure of those 1000 visitors, how many clicked through to the next page. So the call to action link on the page needs to be a tracking link. If you design and host your own pages, that’s not a big deal.

But what do you do if you’re promoting an affiliate program using their promotional tools?

The answer is, you use VitalViralPro – one of only two action trackers and the only one that works even if the visitor has javascript turned off!

You see everyone says you should track but what you should really be doing is tracking actions. THAT’s what tells you how effective your campaign is!