Email marketing – Do you GetResponse or focus on Constant Contact?

Once you choose an email provider for your blog or business, you are pretty much committed. So best make a very informed decision before you sign on, says guest blogger Gail Gardner.

Do you think all email providers are the same? There are some surprising differences. Choosing the best fit is important because moving an email list can result in losing a huge chunk of your subscribers.

Businesses can take a shortcut to choosing the right solution by using the same strategy for solution providers they use for choosing products: peer reviews.

Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction. – Tony Zambito

Instead of popping over to Amazon, focus on sites that compare solutions. While some “Top 3” type sites choose the three with the highest affiliate commissions, there are legitimate sites that focus on comprehensive reviews. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Comparing Social-sharing Co-op Services

I have been using three popular social sharing co-op services for a while now.  These help spread your content across social networks like Twitter and FaceBook.

The three services are quite similar in some ways and different in other ways.  If you are like me, you will want to use all three.  But if you are too busy for that, this review will help you decide which to use.

The three websites we are reviewing are…

How these social sharing co-ops are similar

I call these three websites “co-op” because of the fundamental basis on which they all function: you share other member links, you earn credits…which are spent when somebody shares your links and earns your credits back.  The more you share of others, the more others will share of yours.  And the corollary…the more you want your links shared, the more you need to share of others.

The other major theme in common between these websites is that you are in charge.  You get to choose what to share on your social media account.  Nobody tells you what to share.  Nobody pressures you into sharing anything in particular.  No selections are automated. You decide what is appropriate and of interest for your followers.

When it comes to social media accounts, what the three services have in common is Twitter.  All three of them are built on the basis that people share each others’ content via Twitter.  But that is where the similarity ends.

How these social sharing co-ops differ

Easy Retweet lets you tweet and sign up new Twitter followers.

Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet also let you share by FaceBook – but with a difference.  Viral Buzz lets you “share” on FaceBook, in your timeline.  Just Retweet lets you “like” on FaceBook.

Viral Buzz also lets you share on Pinterest – the only service that does.

Just Retweet lets you upvote on Google Plus – the only service that does.

The three services offer different levels of “quality”.  I use the word judiciously, since you might not necessarily want “quality”.  I will explain later.  First, let’s look at what each service officially says about quality, and then I will tell you what really happens at each service.

Here is what Easy Retweet says about “Tweet Contents”:

Any tweets containing pornography (in any form), illegal materials, unauthorised materials, materials in violation of any law will be removed as soon as noticed.

Here is what Just Retweet says in its “Terms and Conditions”:

JustRetweet reserves the right to remove any content posting (text, images, audio, video) for any reason, without notice at any time. Specifically, any posted content that: (1) is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.); (2) infringes upon copyrights as specified by the content creator; (3) is illegal or violates any laws; (4) harasses (also known as “CyberBullying”) any person or any group of people. Such content posts will immediately be deleted and the IP address of the user reported to authorities, if necessary. Violating these terms will result in the irrevocable termination of your ability to use the JustRetweet service.

But on the Just Retweetrules” page, in red text that really stands out…

Here is what Viral Content Buzz Quality Guidelines have to say:

What will NOT be approved to be shared here:

  • Weak-in-content articles (that have no unique style or visual appeal);
  • Ad-stuffed and / or made-for-links articles.
  • Articles directly promoting affiliate products (such as affiliate product review posts)
  • Any sales page directly promoting a product or service
  • Content that is overly promotional in nature
  • Press releases
  • A home page of a business website or blog
  • Anything that the VCB staff in their discretion deems to not be “quality”

What will be highly appreciated here:

  • Unique and original articles that catch an eye and engage;
  • Trending and popular topics with your personal perspective (apps, tools, DIY, infographics, etc).
  • Articles or content that is either extremely useful, interesting or entertaining.

Viral content is defined as “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet“, so before adding a project, please give it a thought: “can it go viral”?

Our platform is NOT designed to help everyone get free social media votes. It’s aimed at generating buzz around GREAT content.

You can probably tell just by the length of the rules how serious each service is about ensuring quality and blocking spamminess.  In fact, here is what I have found:

Easy Retweet is full of spammy share requests.  Many things there I would not retweet because they are ads for things like BlogEngage or Fiverr gigs or ecommerce pages.  But there is also some good stuff, and I usually can find plenty to share.

Just Retweet is mostly real content, but there are some sales pages and other business pages that get snuck in.

Viral Content Buzz has been spam-free so far, true to their very detailed quality guidelines…except for Pinterest shares.  As you may know, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform.  But many Pinterest-sharing requests on Viral Content Buzz are for really, really poor images that are totally unworthy of sharing.  Obviously, many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe there needs to be some pop-up “image quality reminder” or something.

To spam or not to spam?

At first blush, it is pretty obvious where people would want to go: to the high-quality, no-spam service.  Especially bloggers who generally share very high quality content to begin with. And there are some benefits, like not having to wade through do as much triage.

But you probably will still want to do some triage.  Not every blog post or Infographic posted is one you will want to retweet to your followers.

And what happens if you want to promote a sales page.  Sure, it’s spammy – but it’s the sales pages that pay the bills.  They need to be promoted, too.  So there is also value in participating in a service where spammy pages aren’t considered spam.  And that’s the point of Easy Retweet – to cater to the Warrior Forum crowd.

On a final note, what is missing is StumbleUpon.  None of the services offer StumbleUpon sharing or thumbs up as an option.  Yet.

 
 

Links from statistics websites

I saw a gig over on Fiverr that caught my eye.  For those of you who don’t know about Fiverr, it is where anyone can offer to do anything (almost) for five dollars.  It’s a bit like The Dollar Store of online services.  You can get some amazing deals on Fiverr – stuff you would expect to pay $25 for.  Or $50.  Or even $100.  You also get some blatant scams.

Some great deals.  Some rip-offs.  But either way, five dollars isn’t much.  Like I said, it’s like The Dollar Store.

The gig that caught my eye was:

I will submit your main domain URL to well over 5000 statistic sites. How This Works. I will submit your URL to various statistic sites. These give a value of your site/blog, and also provide a free link back to your site. My software sends your URL to over 5000 sites which gives you that many one way backlinks and Rapidly gets your site indexed by Google! I will send you a text doc to prove works done too. Order now and get indexed.

Anything that generates hundreds or thousands of links automatically can’t be particularly useful for a professional SEO campaign.  But it did occur to me that a few of these sites might be useful, and the links would most likely be either the domain (some with www, some with http, some with both, some with neither?) or the title tag, so not the usual keyword style links you see in blog comment spam and forum profile spam.  And not from the type of sites my clients would usually get links from, so perhaps it would add a nice little variety to a site’s link profile.

With low expectations and high curiosity, I laid down my five bucks.

OK, first off I must say that I did not check through the full list of 7861 entries (representing 36782 sites?  I think there was a typo), but with domain duplications taken into consideration,  it is still likely that the promised 5000+ were delivered).

The first thing I noticed were how many of the statistic sites were obviously scraping results from Google, Yahoo, Bing and most of all Baidu (If you think China wants to buy up all Western real estate, what does this say about China’s hunger for Internet property?).  To be expected, I suppose, but irrelevant to this review.

I checked through 3 dozen entries, being careful not to duplicate any sites.  I guess my first disappointment were how many came up dead (sites were for sale, 404 error pages, server would not connect, etc.) – nearly half.  But I suspect that for five bucks a gig, nobody will bother to check 5000 sites for deadwood (although, maybe the software should be set up to remove dead sites).

My second disappointment were how many of them did not link to the domain they were reviewing.  They tended mostly to link internally to other pages about the domain in an internal web of sorts.

Did the gig live up to the promise of “over 5000 sites which gives you that many one way backlinks”.  Not a chance.  One of the pages gave a NoFollow link.  Another gave a link from a secondary page (which might have been one of the 7861 entries that I did not check).  Although the sample size is too small for an accurate extrapolation 36 site, or less than one percent of the total – it implies that the site did get over 280 new backlinks, from new pages on established sites.  Even if I am off by 50%, that is still 140 links for $5, with at least a couple of the links probably reasonably good.

Five bucks for 140+ links that took me just a few minutes to order (and a couple hours to blog about, but that’s another story).  I would say that it is worth it.

But there was another residual benefit, too.  A few of the statistic sites (2, 3, 4? – I didn’t keep track)  linked to various authority profiles that link back to your domain.  For instance, a profile on Surcentro.net will not link to your website, but it will link to your profile at:

  • Alexa
  • WayBackMachine
  • Robtex

And each of these links back to your site.  So we can assume that at least another 140 links have been built to your domain’s profiles on authority statistics sites that already link to your site, and that is also a worthwhile.

Would I use this gig again? Yes. I wish more Fiverr gig sellers would cut the hyperbole and be more accurate about what they are offering.  But inaccuracy aside, I would call this gig a worthwhile addition to a comprehensive link-building campaign.