HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing http://blog.hostgator.com The official HostGator Company blog Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:26:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Perilous Pivots: When A Dream Meets Reality http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/16/perilous-pivots-dream-meets-reality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=perilous-pivots-dream-meets-reality http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/16/perilous-pivots-dream-meets-reality/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:26:01 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7837 The post Perilous Pivots: When A Dream Meets Reality appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Editors Note – Cy is a friend of HostGator, currently pursuing entrepreneurial dreams in Silicon Valley. We have asked him to share his adventures.  If you missed it see Part 1 The Spark: A Startup Is Born. Startups are inherently messy.  The media makes it appear as if home run successes happen on the first try.  In reality all progress is the result of founders careening for months between false fits and starts until they land on the idea that works.   Contastic’s story is no different.   The False Start With a promising idea in hand I was accepted into the Lightspeed Venture Fellows program and provided a generous grant to build Contastic.   During the summer, I met my co-founder Kevin and together we engaged with the top investors/entrepreneur community around Silicon Valley.  This got us excited about the hot space that is mobile CRM – taking the basic processes of managing a sales team from the desktop to the phone. Over the next two months we built our mobile CRM.  Investors loved it.  However customers weren’t adopting the beta versions as readily as we’d hoped.  We attributed the apathy to an incomplete product.  It was instead a sign of a flawed focus – most ...

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The post Perilous Pivots: When A Dream Meets Reality appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Editors Note – Cy is a friend of HostGator, currently pursuing entrepreneurial dreams in Silicon Valley. We have asked him to share his adventures.  If you missed it see Part 1 The Spark: A Startup Is Born.

Startups are inherently messy.  The media makes it appear as if home run successes happen on the first try.  In reality all progress is the result of founders careening for months between false fits and starts until they land on the idea that works.   Contastic’s story is no different.

 

The False Start

With a promising idea in hand I was accepted into the Lightspeed Venture Fellows program and provided a generous grant to build Contastic.   During the summer, I met my co-founder Kevin and together we engaged with the top investors/entrepreneur community around Silicon Valley.  This got us excited about the hot space that is mobile CRM – taking the basic processes of managing a sales team from the desktop to the phone.

CY and Kevin

Over the next two months we built our mobile CRM.  Investors loved it.  However customers weren’t adopting the beta versions as readily as we’d hoped.  We attributed the apathy to an incomplete product.  It was instead a sign of a flawed focus – most people didn’t want to write notes on their mobile phone.

So, when we finally launched, it was bittersweet.  By that time we knew that the product wouldn’t pick up.  So, we changed the name to PeopleNotes to preserve our company name and launched it.   The app never got more than a few hundred downloads – an App Store Flop:

app store flop
 

Rediscovering Relentless Focus on the Customer

So where did we go wrong?  We built for the people around us – technologist and investors – not our customers.   We mistakenly let the most convenient information, from those around us, take the place of the most relevant information, from those customers we would need to seek out.

Committing to focus on our customer to the exclusion of everything else was the turning point for Contastic. It’s no mistake that this is what Mark Zuckerburg keeps on his desk:

Zuckerburg desk

Credit: Masahble http://mashable.com/2012/02/01/mark-zuckerberg-ipo-pic/
 

The Pivot

By pouring over the usage analytics from PeopleNotes we discovered that, while people did not like taking notes, they loved our automated emails to keep them in touch.  So, we doubled down on that – pivoting from a mobile notes product to a web-based staying in touch product.  And over the next month we built what became Contastic.

contastic laptop

There was no big launch or press announcement.  Just a quick post to Facebook.  Over the next two months we iterated with a small group of users and obsessively measured our funnel. Analytics told us what was wrong.  Then we’d talk to customers to figure out WHY.

whiteboard
 

Picking Up Steam

After twelve weeks of iteration we’ve developed a clear idea – as defined by our customers – of what Contastic is and who it’s built for. Contastic is an email personalization engine for salespeople.

 

 

By combining Linkedin and Gmail data Contastic automatically generates sales emails complete with content personalized to a prospect’s interests.  By reducing the time it takes to send relevant emails from minutes to seconds Contastic enables salespeople to work more prospects, generate more leads and close more sales.

We also discovered new industries for Contastic beyond sales.  Some of our top users are generating referrals for realtors, discovering jobs for freelancers, and building client relationships as consultants. Our user base is now doubling monthly as well as picking up paid users.  It’s time for us to finally step back into the ring and raise our round.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment– Raising the Bar – Fundraising and the Future

About Cy

I’m an engineer who loves to sell.   My career started out in big data engineering for Microsoft evolved into a sales role that landed me as the founder of Contastic (getContastic.com).  I bring the hard data-driven approach of an engineer to the softer science of sales.  It’s always a pleasure for me to meet new people and help them evolve their sales practices. I blog at blog.cykho.com and tweet @cykho.

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Infographic: This Will Make You Feel Old http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/14/infographic-will-make-feel-old/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=infographic-will-make-feel-old http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/14/infographic-will-make-feel-old/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:34:33 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7799 The post Infographic: This Will Make You Feel Old appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Every now and again a gentle reminder comes along to let us know that we’re just not as young as we used to be. That game system we played so much as child, or that toy that came out that we remember so vividly… oh, that was over 20 years ago, wow! Well, this infographic is one big reminder that yesterday was likely longer ago that we’d prefer it be.     This Will Make You Feel Old via HostGator

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Every now and again a gentle reminder comes along to let us know that we’re just not as young as we used to be. That game system we played so much as child, or that toy that came out that we remember so vividly… oh, that was over 20 years ago, wow! Well, this infographic is one big reminder that yesterday was likely longer ago that we’d prefer it be.

this-will-make-you-feel-old-infographic

 
 

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Heartbleed Bug http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed-bug/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heartbleed-bug http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed-bug/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:41:35 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7871 The post Heartbleed Bug appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

You may have now heard of the “Heartbleed Bug.” Before we continue, we want to reassure you that if you are hosting on a HostGator shared or reseller server, that your server has already been patched. For everyone else, HostGator customer or not, we have created the following tool to assist you with determining whether or not your site is presently vulnerable and what further action to take, if necessary: https://heartbleed.hostgator.com/ Now, what exactly is the Heartbleed Bug? Technically speaking, it is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. In layman’s terms, it allows the ever-present nefarious individuals the ability to intercept and decode encrypted data. The following quote comes from heartbleed.com: “The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.” The bug is so-named due to a normal function between two computers across a network (such ...

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The post Heartbleed Bug appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

You may have now heard of the “Heartbleed Bug.” Before we continue, we want to reassure you that if you are hosting on a HostGator shared or reseller server, that your server has already been patched. For everyone else, HostGator customer or not, we have created the following tool to assist you with determining whether or not your site is presently vulnerable and what further action to take, if necessary: https://heartbleed.hostgator.com/

heartbleed bug

Now, what exactly is the Heartbleed Bug? Technically speaking, it is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. In layman’s terms, it allows the ever-present nefarious individuals the ability to intercept and decode encrypted data. The following quote comes from heartbleed.com:

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.”

The bug is so-named due to a normal function between two computers across a network (such as the Internet) sharing an encrypted connection. The “heartbeat” is simply a pulse, or packet of information, sent from one machine to the other to ensure the connection still exists. This functionality is what allows the exploit to occur, in that the heartbeat is simulated by a third party in such a way as to allow them access to the memory of the receiving server.

What this translates to is virtually unlimited, and untraceable, access to a myriad of private information which potentially can include usernames, passwords, and even credit card information. The full extent of the situation is not presently known. What is known is that we should all consider all of our passwords to be compromised. As a result, you absolutely want to update any passwords for anything and everything you log into online. However, if you change your password for an account on a server that has not been patched, then you can consider the new password compromised as well.

For full information regarding this situation, we recommend reading the associated Wikipedia article.

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Put Facebook to Work For Your Business http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/08/put-facebook-work-business/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=put-facebook-work-business http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/08/put-facebook-work-business/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:20:11 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7824 The post Put Facebook to Work For Your Business appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

For small businesses, advertising and marketing is an expense that most don’t want to have to budget for. It’s costly and ineffective unless you know what you’re doing. Not all of us went to college for a Marketing Degree. Luckily, there are ways to bring the cost down and do it all from the comfort of home or office. For any small business online, you need to understand what SEO is and how to do it. Although SEO is a must and it is worth it, these results take time to deliver. In the world of making money, we want results and we want them now. How do we get fast results? Before we can answer that, we need to ask, where is our target audience? With over 1 Billion active users, I believe the answer to that question is Facebook. If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, you need to create it immediately after reading this post. One of our previous posts discussed 5 Facebook Updates You Need to Know About and you should read it after you’ve created your Facebook page.   Advertising This article isn’t going to explain how to create a Facebook Page and how to create ...

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Facebook-business
For small businesses, advertising and marketing is an expense that most don’t want to have to budget for. It’s costly and ineffective unless you know what you’re doing. Not all of us went to college for a Marketing Degree. Luckily, there are ways to bring the cost down and do it all from the comfort of home or office. For any small business online, you need to understand what SEO is and how to do it. Although SEO is a must and it is worth it, these results take time to deliver. In the world of making money, we want results and we want them now.

How do we get fast results? Before we can answer that, we need to ask, where is our target audience? With over 1 Billion active users, I believe the answer to that question is Facebook. If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, you need to create it immediately after reading this post. One of our previous posts discussed 5 Facebook Updates You Need to Know About and you should read it after you’ve created your Facebook page.
 

Advertising

This article isn’t going to explain how to create a Facebook Page and how to create ads. If you need to a refresher or need to get caught up to speed, check out the Facebook Ad Getting Started Page.

If you did Facebook advertising in the past and you haven’t done any recently, then there are probably a few changes that you should be aware of. These are covered in the next sections.
 

Campaigns / Ad Sets / Ads

Previously, Facebook had Campaigns and Ads. You set your budget in the campaign, then created ads within it. It worked, but it wasn’t amazingly effective. With the new set up, you can create Ad Sets. Virtually, these are what the previous campaigns were. You can set your start / end dates, budget, and pause all ads within the set. Used correctly, this can really help with your testing (discussed below). Usually after starting a campaign, we look at what sets are performing and which aren’t, then pause/stop the ads that we don’t want to spend further money on.

 

Call to Action Buttons

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you’ve probably seen our post about Content Marketing and Creating a Call to Action. If you don’t know what a CTA is, that post is definitely worth the read.

Recently, Facebook introduced the Call To Action buttons that are  available for Newsfeed and Mobile ad types. These buttons help by saving the few characters you use to write “Learn More Here” and helps create the specific Call to Action that you’re wanting from your viewers.

Types of call-to-action buttons include:

  • Shop Now – Sending users to your store to make purchases
  • Learn More – Sending users to an informative page, blog post, or landing page
  • Sign Up – Creates leads for newsletters and subscription services
  • Book Now – Reservations for cruises, hotels, concerts, and more
  • Download – Grab a copy of your latest ebook or application

 

Audience

This section isn’t really “new” but if used properly, you can target your customers more accurately instead of wasting money on impressions for people that aren’t in the market for your product.

FaceBook_Ads01

As you’ll see from the picture, you can real customize everything to target specific people. If you want to choose people from a specific set of cities, states, or countries, it’s easier than ever. Do you want to sell to just men or just women, or maybe a specific age range? Perhaps you want to choose people by interests such as a movie or book related to your product. All of these can be set within the ad creator. To find what works for you, you should test test and test some more.
 

Custom Audiences

custom_audiences
If you have an email list of your customers or subscribers, then you can make use of the custom audiences. One word for this, awesome. With Custom Audiences you can target people who have expressed an interest in your brand or are already part of your brand. This allows you to promote new products to existing customers, as well as products to people who have subscribed to your newsletter but haven’t purchased anything. What it does is take your list of email addresses and matches them to active Facebook accounts. Chances are, a large majority of your list will have used that same email on their Facebook account. From there, you’re able to market to them. Don’t have a list? Create a blog and allow readers to subscribe to updates.
 

Testing

This is probably the most important section of our article. At the beginning, you will be doing a lot of testing. And to be honest, testing will never stop. What you might find working in one instance doesn’t work in another. Or if you try targeting other countries, you’ll find that different colors mean different things and perhaps a red border works for users in America, but it sends a sign of warning to those in India.

So what’s the best way to test? Ad sets. They are built for testing. Here are some bullets types of testing

  • Newsfeed, Right Side, or Mobile – Create an ad set for each of these, then run the same ads within each to see which brings you more traffic and conversions. If you’re not optimized for mobile, make sure you don’t choose the mobile option.
  • Country – Can your product be sold globally? Try out different markets to see who is your best audience to target. As you’ll find, some countries are cheaper per click than others. This is because of less advertising competition in these countries. This is also a trick that some companies may use to build their Facebook Page’s audience for cheap at the beginning.
  • Cities – If you’re confined to a local area, you can still test the different surrounding cities to see what works best for you in terms of conversions.
  • Pictures – With ads, you want to have something that has a picture since it will pop out more. But which picture should you use? Different symbols and colors stand out to people. On right side ads, you can put bright borders to attract the eye to the right side. You can run the same ad with 4 different pictures to see which does better. Then after a couple of hours, pause the low performers and then your money will be spent on the pictures that convert or drive leads.
  • Ad Copy – Find out what trigger words get your buyers in the door. Create a few different versions of your advertising text to see what works better for you.
  • Call to Action – Are there multiple CTAs listed above that you can use? Try them all out!

 

Tracking

Now that you have all of your ads set up and you have traffic coming in the door, you need to be able to see if they’re coming from your ads or elsewhere. That’s why you need some sort of tracking in place. There are so many ways to go with this, but we’ll list a few below:

  • Coupon Code – Offer a specific coupon code for your ads to see what converted sales
  • Conversion Pixel – Facebook allows you to install a pixel on your sales page that shows after a sale is made. This sends an alert to Facebook to say that a sale was made.
  • Google URL Builder – This creates custom campaigns for Google Analytics and it works
  • Affiliate Links – If you have an affiliate program, you can create an affiliate account for Facebook and create campaigns with your links to track customers

 

Good luck with your Facebook advertising and be sure to come back soon for information about Twitter advertising!

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15 Keys to Providing Customer Service Through Social Media http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/07/15-keys-providing-customer-service-social-media/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=15-keys-providing-customer-service-social-media http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/07/15-keys-providing-customer-service-social-media/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:38:32 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7785 The post 15 Keys to Providing Customer Service Through Social Media appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Social media is great for connecting your business to your customers, and allowing them to have direct close access to you can be a boon for your brand image. However, unfettered access also means that more customers feel free to complain either directly or indirectly about companies through social media. In this media climate, it’s important to leverage your PR skills to positive effect, and here’s how.   Respond quickly Your customer turned to social media to complain because they are looking for an immediate response, and while you may be busy with product development meetings or vendor calls, these seemingly-small, Facebook-born comments should receive similar attention. Make sure that you get back to them as soon as you see the complaint.   Have a dedicate twitter account for issues Social media is all about context, which is why big corporations create accounts specifically for reporting and responding to issues, decluttering their primary social feed and filtering the important messages from the fluff. Nike and Comcast are two examples of companies that have dedicated accounts on twitter for customers experiencing issues for precisely these reasons. If your company is big enough, create a dedicated account where customers can reach you when something has gone amiss.   Be responsive ...

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15 Keys to Providing Customer Service Through Social Media
Social media is great for connecting your business to your customers, and allowing them to have direct close access to you can be a boon for your brand image. However, unfettered access also means that more customers feel free to complain either directly or indirectly about companies through social media. In this media climate, it’s important to leverage your PR skills to positive effect, and here’s how.

 

Respond quickly

Your customer turned to social media to complain because they are looking for an immediate response, and while you may be busy with product development meetings or vendor calls, these seemingly-small, Facebook-born comments should receive similar attention. Make sure that you get back to them as soon as you see the complaint.

 

Have a dedicate twitter account for issues

Social media is all about context, which is why big corporations create accounts specifically for reporting and responding to issues, decluttering their primary social feed and filtering the important messages from the fluff. Nike and Comcast are two examples of companies that have dedicated accounts on twitter for customers experiencing issues for precisely these reasons. If your company is big enough, create a dedicated account where customers can reach you when something has gone amiss.

 

Be responsive around the clock

Know your business well and when your customers will be using your services. If you are a restaurant, for example, you can expect to hear from customers late in to the evening if they have had a bad dinner experience. Monitor your account around the clock as best you can or, better yet, dedicate staff to the task so that you can respond quickly.

 

Address the issue and offer a solution

In your response, be sure to restate the problem so it is clear you understand it, and give your customer a solution if one is available. Communication requires empathy and efficiency, and this approach will achieve both.

 

Offer new information they might not have access to

Airlines can frequently update the customer as to the status of cancelled or delayed flights quickly before that information is disseminated at the gate. Give the customer all the information you have as they might not have access to it. This will also show that you are paying close attention to their particular circumstances.

 

If no solution is available offer empathy

Sometimes no immediate solution is available, but it is important to respond as fast you can. A simple “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. That sounds like an awful time/situation/experience. We are working on it and will get back to you soon” can calm an angry customer while you work on a solution.

 

Direct them to resources where answers or solutions may be found

When you can’t provide the solution over social media, let them know where they can go to receive resolution, be it an email address they need to contact or a store manager they need to talk to directly. Keep in mind that social media channels aren’t the most appropriate avenue for obtaining things like account numbers or private information, so be sure to direct them to someone offline that can help them.

 

Be aware of your twitter account and follow your tags and hashtags

Someone on your staff needs to have alerts set for any tags or hashtags customers might

utilize to try and reach you. Pay attention to them, particularly if you intend to use them for support purposes.

 

Answer all of the questions asked (not just the easy one)

When writing your response go back and look at the original complaint. It may be easy to address just one issue but they may have had several questions or concerns. Address each and every one, clearly and effectively.

 

Rectify what you can

Make the situation right as fast as you can. You can’t fix every aspect of their problem but whatever issue you can fix, do so quickly. Remedying even a portion of the customer’s problem will be seen as progress and improve your image as a result.

 

Follow through with the issue

Chances are you won’t solve the problem on the first go around so go back and check in with your customer. Did they get a new flight? Was the broken item replaced? Etc etc. Follow up with the customer and demonstrate compassion, empathy, and dedication to their needs in the process. Do not wait to be asked for additional assistance!

 

Show customer appreciation

Proactively reach out to customers who are mentioning your company in a positive way. If someone takes a picture at your business and tags you, repost/retweet it! If you get a positive review on Facebook contact the customer and say thank you. These small actions will show that you are listening, potentially turning one time reviewers into brand evangelists.

 

Provide a real world solution

The coffee was cold? Offer to replace their cup free of charge. Car wasn’t repaired properly? Have them bring it back in. If it was a tangible problem offer a tangible solution, and remember that generosity is remembered, blogged about, rewarded, and retweeted.

 

Don’t remove complaints

It can be tempting to remove a complaint after you have addressed the concern, but leaving them alone should be standard practice for your business. Make sure that your responses and solutions are in the comments section or your direct reply to the tweet. New customers will see the complaint but also see that you were responsive and accommodating to customer needs.

 

Be professional

Above all reply and act in a professional manner. Your customer might be rude or upset but it is your job to maintain your calm and mitigate the situation as fast as you can. Remember: a crabby customer is an issue, but a positive response is an asset, and your customers will notice that.

In an age of ubiquitous social media, communication comes from many inboxes. Tend to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and exercise professionalism, and your wall will become a testament to your dedication to your customers.

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Ways to Ensure That Your Mailing List is a Legitimate One http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/02/ways-ensure-mailing-list-legitimate-one/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ways-ensure-mailing-list-legitimate-one http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/02/ways-ensure-mailing-list-legitimate-one/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 17:04:40 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7778 The post Ways to Ensure That Your Mailing List is a Legitimate One appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

  Email marketing is big. It’s no secret. Email marketing is one of the best ways to not only ensure that your brand and your products or services stay fresh within the minds of your clients, it allows you to catch their attention, appealing to the impulse buy side of your clientele.   Leverage Existing Relationships (Legitimate Ones) If an individual sees your product or service in their email and thinks that what you are offering is a great deal they may simply click through the email to purchase it, as they already have a relationship with your company, without feeling the need to do any form of price comparison or the like. It’s easy for people to get caught up in the moment, wanting to get their products and services out to as many people as humanly possible, regardless of whether or not the person has technically asked for that email from you. There’s just one problem with this. That type of behavior is illegal; an internet no-no. “But I just found this list of people’s email addresses! It’s obvious that they wouldn’t have left it lying about if they didn’t want others to use it” you might proclaim. Or you might have decided to ...

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mailing_list

Email marketing is big. It’s no secret. Email marketing is one of the best ways to not only ensure that your brand and your products or services stay fresh within the minds of your clients, it allows you to catch their attention, appealing to the impulse buy side of your clientele.
 

Leverage Existing Relationships

(Legitimate Ones)

If an individual sees your product or service in their email and thinks that what you are offering is a great deal they may simply click through the email to purchase it, as they already have a relationship with your company, without feeling the need to do any form of price comparison or the like. It’s easy for people to get caught up in the moment, wanting to get their products and services out to as many people as humanly possible, regardless of whether or not the person has technically asked for that email from you. There’s just one problem with this. That type of behavior is illegal; an internet no-no.

“But I just found this list of people’s email addresses! It’s obvious that they wouldn’t have left it lying about if they didn’t want others to use it” you might proclaim. Or you might have decided to purchase a mailing list, share email addresses with your buddy who has an email list as well, or simply have pulled email addresses off of Craig’s list or some other site where such information is freely posted. You might justify it to yourself in a thousand and one different ways, but the fact of the matter is that the justification doesn’t count, not when it goes against the CAN-SPAM act, your hosting provider’s terms of service and acceptable use policies, and their upstream providers terms of service and acceptable use policies.
 

The Low Down:

In order for your mailing list to be a legitimate one, in order for your messages to not be considered spam, and to ensure that you are able to stay with your hosting provider, there are several things that you cannot do.

You cannot:

  • Use a purchased mailing list
  • Use a mailing list that was given to you
  • Use a mailing list that you found somewhere (sorry, that email address you found in the back of the taxi can’t be just tacked on to the end of your list, gotta throw that one out!)
  • Randomly generate email addresses and send out messages to all of them, hoping one goes through to a legitimate email address.

“Well, that seems like a lot that I can’t do,” you might think to yourself, and the truth is, you’re right. You cannot do anything that gets around the idea of not getting someone’s permission to email them. So what can you do, not only to make sure that your mailing list is legitimate, but that it’s CAN-SPAM compliant?
 

The Double Opt In:

Make sure that you get everyone’s permission to email them, not once, but twice. This process is referred to as double opt in, and it means that not only does someone have to give you their email address, but you then have to ask them if they really meant to give it to you, and they have to say yes before you can start including them on your mailing list. The process usually goes something like this:

  1. A person puts in an email address on your site, indicating that they want to receive email from you. The reason this isn’t enough is that you have no way of knowing whether the person entering the email address is the one that owns the email address.
  2. You receive their form with their email address listed. You’re excited! You want to add them to your list, but you just can’t yet. First you have to send them an email, typically with a link that will write to a database stating the date and time that they accepted (this is the second time they are accepting).
  3. They will click on the link, writing the information to the database (you want to retain this information in case you later get reported as spam, thus proving your legit status and ensuring that you don’t get in trouble).
  4. You will add them to your mailing list and can email them every time you send out the mailing list.

 

The Rest Of The Story:

Keep in mind that there are other laws, rules and regulations that you may need to adhere to, such as  the fact that all individuals requesting access to adult content, if that’s what you’re offering, must be over eighteen, but it’s your responsibility to determine whether what you are sending needs those additional features. You can read about the guidelines at the FTC’s site here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm

Remember, if you receive a complaint from your hosting provider about your mailing list, they’re not only working to make sure that you are in compliance with the rules, but that they are as well. They don’t want to get in trouble either for violating Federal law, so don’t take it personally, just remember that you’ve got to keep your mailing list legit; once it’s there, it’s smooth sailing for both of you.
 

Image Source: Dartmouth. (2014). Mailing List. [image online] Available at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~tucker/images/mailing-list.jpg [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

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5 Facebook Updates You Need To Know About http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/01/5-facebook-updates-need-know/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-facebook-updates-need-know http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/04/01/5-facebook-updates-need-know/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:16:45 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7796 The post 5 Facebook Updates You Need To Know About appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Hate it or love it, Facebook is still one of the most effective platforms for social media marketing. As we’re all aware, they like to update things A LOT. Sometimes it’s the way it looks; for instance, they’re currently advertising a simpler layout with a bigger focus on posts appearing in the news feed. Other times they’ll add entirely new options on how to market the things you post. If you use Facebook to manage a business page, advertise events, or even just to garner some recognition for your craft, here are five recent updates you’ll find beneficial.   1. Objective Based Ads This is one of two big steps Facebook has taken in the last six months in trying to adhere to objectives of advertisers on Facebook. This change is said to have taken place for the purpose of focusing on the impact of advertisements rather than the type. Based on conversations Facebook staff had with “marketers of all types” they’ve come up with 8 objectives advertisers can choose from to meet their goals: Website Conversions Page Post Engagement Page Likes App Installs App Engagement In-store Offer Claims Clicks To Website & Event Responses   After the user chooses the objectives and creates the ad, Facebook will place the ads where they’ll create ...

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Facebook Builds a Better Megaphone

Hate it or love it, Facebook is still one of the most effective platforms for social media marketing. As we’re all aware, they like to update things A LOT. Sometimes it’s the way it looks; for instance, they’re currently advertising a simpler layout with a bigger focus on posts appearing in the news feed. Other times they’ll add entirely new options on how to market the things you post.

If you use Facebook to manage a business page, advertise events, or even just to garner some recognition for your craft, here are five recent updates you’ll find beneficial.

 

1. Objective Based Ads

This is one of two big steps Facebook has taken in the last six months in trying to adhere to objectives of advertisers on Facebook. This change is said to have taken place for the purpose of focusing on the impact of advertisements rather than the type. Based on conversations Facebook staff had with “marketers of all types” they’ve come up with 8 objectives advertisers can choose from to meet their goals:

  • Website Conversions

  • Page Post Engagement

  • Page Likes

  • App Installs

  • App Engagement

  • In-store Offer Claims

  • Clicks To Website

  • & Event Responses

 

After the user chooses the objectives and creates the ad, Facebook will place the ads where they’ll create the best impact. You can now see under the ads manager the results of your post based on the selected objectives. With a much simpler approach to getting your ads seen, you can focus on the content and what viewers are enjoying most.

 

2. Facebook Insights

The new update to page insights makes tracking the performance of your Facebook page more ‘insightful’ than ever. Long-valued by strategic marketers, the data collected will support your goals when tracking the performance of ads and posts. Facebook has updated the web version of Insights that are presented in easy to navigate graphs that can be adjusted and customized to your preferences.

Some new features include:

  • Advanced filtering – Filter by Total Reach, Organic vs. Paid and Fans vs. Non-Fans.

  • Best post types – Quickly determine which of your post types generate the highest reach and average engagement.

  • When your fans are online – Incredibly useful for determining when to post, see things like:

    • Number of fans that were online each day of the past week

    • Average number of your fans who saw any posts per hour

  • Benchmarking – Compare the performance of your page between time periods.

 

3. Auto-Play Videos In The News Feed

It may be a lesser known fact, but videos aren’t nearly as engaged with as photos and status updates. That said, Facebook felt it was a good idea to have a way for users to engage with videos more often by catching the glimpse of it playing without sound. Straight from an article on Facebook’s business blog, “Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns, particularly when brands want to increase awareness and attention over a short period of time”.

While this may seem appealing to some (marketers especially), there has been a significant backlash from many of its users. Complaints like their load time slowing, distracting, unwanted, etc. Like other features people would rather not see, you can block this functionality for more distraction-free browsing.

 

4. Edit Your Posts That Have Already Been Published

Have you ever posted something, only to notice a few hours later thatthere was a typo? While it is possible to delete these posts, sometimes it has already been paid for as an advertisement, or has received too much attention to make replacement an attractive prospect. For quite some time now, Facebook users have been requesting the ability to edit their posts, and now that option is here.

For posts appearing on your personal profile you have the option to edit captions for photos and status updates that are strictly text. For business page administrators, the editing capability is still only limited to photo captions while Facebook tests the ability to edit posts as well.

 

5. Improvements To The News Feed Ranking (They’ve Made It Smarter)

Like many other tech giants, Facebook has revamped their algorithms to make a more personalized stream of posts based on the individual user. Impressively, what posts appear are based of over 100,000 weighing factors, things like:

  • Relationship Settings – Things like labeling friends as “close friend”, or “acquaintance”

  • Post Types – Users that interact more often with photo posts are more likely to see more photos.

  • Hiding Posts/Spam – Recent hides may be carrying weight as to whether a post shows in the news feed

 

While those are just a few, it is clear that the challenge of making engaging and visible posts has become more difficult. The company’s advice is is to create and advertise a variety of interesting content that will attract clicks, shares, likes and comments. The best way to do this is by understanding your fans, and what they want to see.

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Infographic: The Digital Renaissance http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/31/infographic-digital-renaissance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=infographic-digital-renaissance http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/31/infographic-digital-renaissance/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:11:47 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7803 The post Infographic: The Digital Renaissance appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Are we in the midst of a new type of renaissance, a digital renaissance?  Given not only the sheer availability of information, but also the ability to immediately share new thoughts with a wide audience, things do seem ripe for the evolution of ideas in ways never before possible.  The following infographic addresses this, comparing the present day to the renaissance of the 14th century:     The Digital Renaissance via HostGator

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The post Infographic: The Digital Renaissance appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

Are we in the midst of a new type of renaissance, a digital renaissance?  Given not only the sheer availability of information, but also the ability to immediately share new thoughts with a wide audience, things do seem ripe for the evolution of ideas in ways never before possible.  The following infographic addresses this, comparing the present day to the renaissance of the 14th century:
 

the-digital-renaissance-infographic

 

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The Importance of Conveying Professionalism through Your Website http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/27/importance-conveying-professionalism-website/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=importance-conveying-professionalism-website http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/27/importance-conveying-professionalism-website/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:25:16 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7756 The post The Importance of Conveying Professionalism through Your Website appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

  Many people have seen demotivational posters before. They are treated as slightly humorous distractions from an otherwise busy day, serving to provide a reminder of what to avoid or what not to do.   In spite of the fact that these demotivational posters have a dual purpose, many people only see the amusing side of things and move on without ever truly paying attention to the other side of the coin. Take for example the Professionalism demotivational poster above; the image is not a new one, and many people have seen either this image or other similar images before. We look at them, shake our heads, and wonder to ourselves how someone could be so lazy, and then move on with our days. What we fail to realize is that in some aspect of our jobs, no matter what they are, we have painted around the fallen branch instead of moving it.   Are You Wearing Shoes, Does It Matter? In some instances the lack of professionalism that is displayed doesn’t really affect the workplace. No one can really see the fact that you have taken off your shoes under your desk, after all. The trick is just remembering to slip them back on before ...

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The post The Importance of Conveying Professionalism through Your Website appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

 

professionalism

Many people have seen demotivational posters before. They are treated as slightly humorous distractions from an otherwise busy day, serving to provide a reminder of what to avoid or what not to do.
 
In spite of the fact that these demotivational posters have a dual purpose, many people only see the amusing side of things and move on without ever truly paying attention to the other side of the coin. Take for example the Professionalism demotivational poster above; the image is not a new one, and many people have seen either this image or other similar images before. We look at them, shake our heads, and wonder to ourselves how someone could be so lazy, and then move on with our days. What we fail to realize is that in some aspect of our jobs, no matter what they are, we have painted around the fallen branch instead of moving it.
 

Are You Wearing Shoes, Does It Matter?

In some instances the lack of professionalism that is displayed doesn’t really affect the workplace. No one can really see the fact that you have taken off your shoes under your desk, after all. The trick is just remembering to slip them back on before you get up, and BAM! Professionalism has been restored.

The issue arises when everyone is able to see the lack of professionalism that you present; think of it as greeting clients wearing mismatched socks and no shoes, or having them step over a fallen branch in order to get to your office, where the real professionalism is. I’m not going to suggest that you work to convey perfect adherence to the standards of professional conduct; let’s face it, we are all human and we all make mistakes sometimes. What I do suggest, however, is working to ensure that the face that your customers see is always professional, and the first step in that process is your website.

 

Be Sure Don’t Accidently The Wrong Grammars

Typos and formatting do matter. If your text overlaps, if you have misspellings, poor grammar, improperly used words (they’re instead of their, or where instead of wear), poor navigation, and even improper features all serve to convey the idea that your site is unprofessional. While there may be simple reasons for these things to occur, like an update that was not compatible with your theme (if you use WordPress), or an old version of Magento that was upgraded, for example, there is no excuse for not double checking yourself.

Your site is the first experience that your customers have with your company. It is how you are reaching out to introduce yourself to your target market through the internet. While there are instances where a consumer may overlook one issue, such as one improperly spelled word out of the entire site, you want to make sure that your customers do not see your company as one that is prone to mistakes.

 

Think Like A Customer

As a consumer myself, I know that I personally will not spend money with a company if their site isn’t professional. How do I know that they will address any issues with my order in the appropriate manner if they cannot even manage to ensure that their site is error free? This is the mindset that you will need to have when reviewing your site in order to ensure that it maintains the appropriate level of professionalism all the way through. This does not mean your site cannot be fun! There are a host of highly professional websites that are fun. (We like to think Hostgator’s site is not just professional, it is fun too!) It simply means that your site needs to convey the tone that you want it to, contain the appropriate information, and work to present the appropriate image to your customers. It doesn’t matter what you are selling, it simply matters that it conveys the right message, a message that cannot be present if your site is less than professional.

 

If you are unsure as to whether or not your site looks professional enough, ask a friend, or find an online editing service that can review the site for you to double check and give you pointers. Take the extra time to double check anything you post, and in doing so, you will make sure that your customers aren’t being asked to step over any branches, giving them the confidence in you that they need in order to purchase your products or services.

 

Image Source:
Professionalism Demotivational Poster. (2014). [image online] Available at: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MIqc0txxDNM/SvfBIqftprI/AAAAAAAAAA4/S63X2RMUECo/s320/professional.jpg [Accessed: 20 Mar 2014].

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American Red Cross And The Tour Du Rouge http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/25/american-red-cross-tour-du-rouge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=american-red-cross-tour-du-rouge http://blog.hostgator.com/2014/03/25/american-red-cross-tour-du-rouge/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 05:12:59 +0000 http://blog.hostgator.com/?p=7668 The post American Red Cross And The Tour Du Rouge appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

We are happy to announce HostGator is celebrating our 5th year sponsoring the Tour du Rouge, benefiting the American Red Cross.  The Tour du Rouge is a 533 mile bicycle ride from Houston to New Orleans, spanning 6 days (May 4th – 9th, 2014). In recognition of not only the overall cause, but the dedication of the riders and volunteers that make this event possible, we wanted to do something a little bit extra this year.  Today only, all new hosting accounts are 50% off and new domains are starting at just $4 per year; on top of that, we are donating $1 to the American Red Cross for every new hosting package signed up for as part of this promotion. The American Red Cross provides a myriad of services, from disaster relief assistance to emergency contact for military personnel with their families, as well as community outreach programs such as CPR/First Aid training and swimming lessons.  Ultimately, what the Red Cross does is help people and save lives. The Tour du Rouge directly benefits the Red Cross chapters in the Gulf Coast, essentially the region directly through which the cyclists travel on their journey. What began in 2009 with sixty-three riders, has now ...

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The post American Red Cross And The Tour Du Rouge appeared first on HostGator Web Hosting Blog | Gator Crossing.

We are happy to announce HostGator is celebrating our 5th year sponsoring the Tour du Rouge, benefiting the American Red Cross.  The Tour du Rouge is a 533 mile bicycle ride from Houston to New Orleans, spanning 6 days (May 4th – 9th, 2014).

Tour du Rouge Snappy

In recognition of not only the overall cause, but the dedication of the riders and volunteers that make this event possible, we wanted to do something a little bit extra this year.  Today only, all new hosting accounts are 50% off and new domains are starting at just $4 per year; on top of that, we are donating $1 to the American Red Cross for every new hosting package signed up for as part of this promotion.

The American Red Cross provides a myriad of services, from disaster relief assistance to emergency contact for military personnel with their families, as well as community outreach programs such as CPR/First Aid training and swimming lessons.  Ultimately, what the Red Cross does is help people and save lives.

The Tour du Rouge directly benefits the Red Cross chapters in the Gulf Coast, essentially the region directly through which the cyclists travel on their journey.

What began in 2009 with sixty-three riders, has now grown to 200 riders and hundreds of additional volunteers.  This event is about real people helping real people overcome challenges and otherwise preparing individuals to act appropriately in emergency situations.  HostGator is so proud to be involved with such an event.  We invite you to become involved as well.

Today you can get a great deal on a new hosting package and help us to help so many more people: sign up now!

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