Is There Life Beyond Google? Alternative Search Tools to Try

Privacy could be a thing of the past.

Governments, companies, advertisers, and other entities are constantly collecting information from you. Social media, websites, emails, and more take your information and share it with others daily. By inserting cookies and storing your searches, your information is surely not kept private.

Most people are aware of incognito mode in their Google browser. The public was under the impression that this browser was 100% private, and did not collect information like regular browsers. To the public’s dismay, this was not entirely the truth.

The major tech giant was introduced with a $5 billion lawsuit this past month. Google allegedly broke privacy laws by allowing Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and website plug-ins to collect data during incognito mode. They continued to track all searches on this mode, whether they be personal, intimate, or potentially embarrassing.

Google is currently sitting on $117 billion in liquid reserves, so unfortunately this lawsuit payout could just be a mere slap on the wrist. Fortunately, you have a choice as to who earns your business (and searches) online.

With this news of this privacy breach, Net Atlantic has put together a list of alternative search engine recommendations that you can safely browse on.

  1. Startpage. This search alternative emphasizes privacy. They do not collect, share, or save any personal information, set cookies, or store IP addresses and searches. Try it out here: https://www.startpage.com/
  2. DuckDuckGo. There are no data searches collected or stored. You also do not receive ads based on your searches. Use this link: https://duckduckgo.com/
  3. OneSearch. Verizon’s search platform does not track your personal or search data or share it with advertisers. There are also no cookies. Click this: https://www.onesearch.com/
  4. Swisscows. Their privacy policy reads “We do not collect any of our visitors’ personal information. None whatsoever.” Check it out: https://swisscows.com/
  5. Bing. This engine does not share any personally identifying information publicly or with third-parties. Check it out: www.bing.com

Do you know of any other safe search engines? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Avoid a Negative Tone in Emails

Mostly every person works in an environment where communication is completed through email. Often times, an email is the first impression of a person or business. This article could have been named, “Stop Using These Words in Emails”, but what message does that give? You want to give the best first impression of yourself or your business always, so here are some strategies to avoid using negative verbiage.

negative-emotions-negative-words

Strong Subject Line

This is the most important part of an email to not include a negative tone. This is the first part of the email that is read and sets the reader’s attitude toward reading the email in it’s entirety or not reading it at all. Do not include words that can bring negative emotions, but words that makes a reader excited to dive into your email.

Negative Replies

When replying to an email, there are many responses to be avoided. “Fine”, “hopefully”, “unfortunately”, “sorry”, and “no” are just a few examples. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader; would you enjoy receiving responses like this?

“Sorry”

…should never be used in an email. If a situation is truly worth an apology, it should be expressed over the phone or in person. For everyone’s benefit, express solutions to the situation and what actions you will complete to fix it.

Do Not “Cancel” a Meeting

If you find yourself cancelling a meeting or event, do not use the word “cancel”. This word has a disappointing and defeated tone. Instead, use “postpone” or “reschedule”. Even though the effect is the same, this lets your reader down easier.

Capital Letters

DON’T USE ALL CAPS! It appears to the reader that you are “screaming a message” at them. It appears aggressive and users do not respond to that.

Read the Email Out Loud

Speaking your emails out loud or to a friend will help you understand how your reader will interpret it. The negative words will pop out and you will know exactly what to edit. Plus, a good proofread never killed anybody.

 

Read about subject lines that get results here:

https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/how-to/useful-lists-short-words-strong

https://blog.netatlantic.com/2013/06/28/first-impressions-subject-lines-that-get-results/

 

Have you ever had a major blunder because of email tone? Share your story below.

 

 

View Time Optimization (VTO) Coming to Verizon Media

by Andrew Lutts, Founder & CEO

The nice thing about free webmail accounts like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! and others is that they are free, portable, easy, convenient, and universal.

The bad thing about them is their complete lack of privacy.

Know that virtually EVERYTHING you do on those free platforms is tracked, measured, compared, analyzed, and lots more. In fact, these free account providers do way more than just read your email and serve up targeted advertising to you. But hey, it’s free, right?

Here’s some information on Verizon Media’s new View Time Optimization (VTO) offering.

View Time Optimization (VTO)

Perhaps you have heard of Send Time Optimization, where an email marketing program intelligently figures out the most likely time you will read an email (because it knows this information having tracked your behavior and previous interaction with your email) and sends your email to you at that optimum time.

View Time Optimization is when a mailbox provider, in this case Verizon (Verizon, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo!), takes your emails that you have subscribed to, holds them for a while, and then delivers them to you when you are “actively engaging with your email inbox.”

Creepy? Perhaps. A good idea? For who?

Why are they doing this? Apparently, in their words, to give their email mailbox customers a better experience. In effect, they are trying to give some of your email more favorable handling over other email.

In reviewing the Verizon Postmaster blog post, it seems innocent enough. But is it that simple?

At Verizon Media, they say they believe that tracking email users is wrong. And yet, aren’t they tracking you to determine when you are actively engaging with your email?

And don’t they track your opens and clicks in your webmail account to determine which emails are being engaged with, and thus should be handled with preference, compared to other emails that less people are engaging with, and are treated less favorably?

Further speculation can be made into why a mailbox provider would hold your email before delivering it to you. If you get an email at 2 AM that talks about alternative health, controversial political views, vaccination theories, a video recently taken down from YouTube, a link to an alternative Twitter post, or “fake news,” do you think you will get that email delivered to you at 8 AM when you check your email?

We simply don’t know, yet. If other Verizon users on the network seem to have an issue with the content of a certain email, as exhibited by their handling of the email message, should you still get the email and decide for yourself?

Mailbox providers like Verizon, Yahoo, Outlook, and Gmail know an awful lot of information about you. And honestly they are trying their best to provide you with a superior end user experience. But in that quest, they are making some difficult decisions around what you get, see, and read every day. Some of those choices may or may not be the same choices you would make yourself.

Read Verizon’s take on it at their Postmaster Blog.

Inbox Tabs coming to Outlook

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Gmail should be flattered. Outlook will soon be copying and implementing their inbox tabbed email reading capability.

Gmail first introduced tabs in their email reader a lifetime ago (seven years ago) in 2013. Now Outlook is finally catching up.

Are tabs in email a good thing? In a recent poll among users in our office the verdict was mixed. Some people don’t want anyone messing with their email messages, and filtering them automatically for them. Hands off my email!

Other employees like the convenience and intelligence around the tabbed email capability. After all, do I really want to see and read all those social media updates sent by email? No.

A Google Consumer Survey fielded by Return Path found that two-thirds of Gmail users currently use tabs to sort their email. We would expect that same kind of adoption in Outlook (assuming the Outlook user has an option to turn tabs on or off).

In Gmail, 68.4% of all incoming messages are classified and put into their Promotions Tab. 22.1% of all incoming messages are classified as Updates, such as a purchase confirmation. (Source: Marketing Charts)

Of course there’s lots of competition for the inbox. We all do so much with email every day. It’s a critically important business and personal tool.

What’s really happening here is that Microsoft and Google are applying powerful, intelligent deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help us all be more efficient and productive with our time spent online. For the most part, this is a very good thing, and a huge productivity booster.

Read more:

https://iterable.com/blog/microsoft-inbox-tabs-for-outlook-hotmail-coming-soon/

Email Subject Lines That Work

Following are some musings on email marketing best practices, straight outta the Net Atlantic Compliance Corner. Everybody puts Steve in the corner – but that’s where I like to be, so it’s okay!

Today I’m going to talk about best (and worst) practices for subject lines. 

Database Synchronization, Automation, and API Integration

One of the biggest challenges in email marketing is choosing and using an appropriate database for proper management of your client and lead base.

After all, if your company already has a robust in-house database solution, why create another one outside the company?

In fact, high levels of efficiency and automation can be gained by connecting your in-house database with an outsourced Email Service Provider (ESP) that offers database connectivity.

Gone are the days of manually updating and refreshing your data just before every email send. With a database connection, the data synchronization is automatic and seamless, and runs at predetermined scheduled intervals (hourly, daily, weekly, etc.).

The challenge: IT Managers want to manage and oversee their in-house database, and they should. Yet Marketing Managers want to use external ESP marketing tools to create and deliver effective email campaigns to the freshest list of clients and prospects that the company has. The synchronized automated import and export of database to ESP accomplishes just that.

This data synch can occur using API (application programming interface) integration, where the ESP pushes your data out to you, the way you want it. It can be done through ODBC (open database connectivity) where your database member information (name, email address, etc.) gets imported into the ESP platform and synchronized automatically. And other tasks can be accomplished with custom reporting, giving you exactly the kind of highly detailed and relevant information you need when you need it.

ESP database synchronization saves a tremendous amount of time over manual methods, increases accuracy, and allows the marketing team to proceed whenever ready with important email communications, knowing that the subscriber data is always up to date. All the marketing team needs to do is create and send their campaigns. The rest is automatic.

If you need help running your email operations more efficiently by adding automation to your enterprise, contact Sales at Net Atlantic to speak directly with an engineer who can help solve your database marketing and connectivity challenges. Net Atlantic flagship products ListManager and StrongView both offer powerful and extensive database synchronization, automation and API capability.

Web site not coming up on Google like it used to? Give yourself some domain authority!

by Matt Sambito, Net Atlantic Support Specialist

In order to provide their users with exceptional search engine results, Google has been constantly honing their search prowess to deliver the best search returns compared to their competition.

They do this by dictating to webmasters and web designers around the world exactly how they want to spider and index their web sites. Get it right, and you have a chance of doing well in search. Get it wrong, and your site will not come up well on Google search results. We show you how to get it right below.

Remember that there will be a direct and positive impact to results of your next email campaign if your web site ranks high in Google Search, and you use and refer to your domain in your email marketing message.

OVERVIEW

There are hundreds of factors that search engines uses to determine the search results and ranking of a website. One particular factor that has taken on great importance over the years is the domain authority of a website.

The higher your domain authority is, the more likely you are to earn a higher search engine ranking and to receive more and better web site traffic. In fact, your domain authority is the most important consideration when Google decides where you come up on their search results.

GOOGLE TOOLS

Maintaining and monitoring your website is an important task that can help you increase your domains authority. Factors such as back links, search words, and email campaigns can be monitored with Google Analytics while Google Search can help you understand how Google reads or “Crawls” your site.

Here are two of the most important Google tools to use when creating the most search friendly web site with the highest domain authority that you can:

1) Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free website analytics service offered by Google that gives you insights into how users find and use your website. With Google Analytics, you can track ROI for your online marketing.

You can sift and sort your visitors with dozens of dimensions. You can seamlessly integrate Google Products like Google Search Console or your Google Ads account. You can also use tracking codes to tag and track any advertising, social, PR campaign or any kind of campaign on any platform/website.

https://analytics.google.com

2) Google Search Console

SEO (search engine optimization) is a competition between your site and other sites to show up on the top of the search engine results when a searcher uses any particular search keywords.

Search engine algorithms have changed quite a bit over the years, so if your organic search engine rankings are low, it could mean it’s time for an update. At one time, the key to SEO success was to plug your content with as many keywords as possible. That strategy led to poor search results for search engine users. Thanks to Google’s recent updates, today, it’s all about having original high-quality content on your site, which is why sites with blogs perform so well.

Use Google Search to add pages to the Google Index, rate keywords, and monitor search terms used by people to find your web site.
Also use the Google Search Sitemaps tool.

Creating your site with SEO in mind will ensure that potential visitors can find you online.

https://search.google.com/search-console/about

3) Tracking Email Links with Google Analytics

Tracking your campaign in Google Analytics allows you to measure your email marketing campaigns and compare them with results from any other online marketing you are doing.

By adding campaign parameters to the links you use in your ad campaigns, you can collect information about the overall effectiveness of those campaigns, and also understand where the campaigns are more effective. For example, your Summer Sale campaign might be generating lots of revenue, but if you’re running the campaign in several different social apps and emails, you want to know which of them is sending you the customers who generate the most revenue. Or if you’re running different versions of the campaign via email, video ads, and in-app ads, you can compare the results to see where your marketing is most effective.

When a user clicks a referral link, the parameters you add are sent to Analytics, and the related data is available in the Campaigns reports.

4) Free Online Tracking URL Builder

Here’s a free online “Campaign URL Builder” that will help you generate and use codes to track the source of your inbound marketing leads:

https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

There are 5 parameters you can add to your URLs:

utm_source: Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, for example: google, newsletter4, billboard.

utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, for example: cpc, banner, email newsletter.

utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product.

utm_term: Identify paid search keywords. If you’re manually tagging paid keyword campaigns, you should also use utm_term to specify the keyword.

utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use

utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.

Example:
https://www.netatlantic.com/emailmarketing/email-marketing-overview?utm_source=Summer%20Sale%20News%20Letterandutm_medium=emailandutm_campaign=Summer%20Sale

These parameters would tell Google Analytics
a. The Source of the click is from the Summer Sale News Letter
b. The Medium is a “email”
c. The Campaign name is “Summer Sale”

5) Conclusion

It’s not enough anymore to create a great web site and hope people come to it. Your web site needs to have great content, be properly registered at google, have proper page structure, use accurate conventions, be responsive (render properly on all devices), load quickly, and especially have strong domain authority.

Additional resources:

Google Webmaster Tools https://www.google.com/webmasters
Google Webmaster Guidelines https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769
Google Webmaster Central https://webmasters.googleblog.com/
Google My Business https://www.google.com/business/
YouTube Channel for Google Webmasters https://webmasters.googleblog.com/
Big List of Google Webmaster Resources https://www.koozai.com/blog/search-marketing/big-list-of-google-webmaster-resources/
Google Structured Data Testing Tool https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool

How to Write Compelling Content, Clever Copy, and Hard-to-Ignore Headlines for your Email Newsletter

by Andrew Lutts, Founder & CEO

If you write email newsletters, blog posts, web pages, and other assorted email and web content, the overriding piece of advice you will hear is to create good content. You must have good content. It’s all about your content.

Okay, but how do you create great content? Here are some ideas to help get you thinking. Perhaps one of these could be a good starting point for your idea generation, content creation, and writing tasks.

COMPELLING CONTENT

Here are some content ideas to consider:

1) Write about what nobody else is brave enough to write about
2) Reveal industry insights and hidden trade secrets (Insider’s Guide to)
3) Challenge conventional wisdom with a startling statement
4) Tell how to make money doing ______________________
5) Take an unfavorable position and defend it well
6) Predict the future for your industry, and make it bold!
7) Describe great ways to get free publicity, free tools, and free stuff
8) Write an Open Letter to some famous business leader or politician
9) Create the “Ultimate List” about your industry
10) Use a unique slant, angle or contrarian position on something timely
11) Tell a fascinating story about something
12) Suggest an outrageous idea or solution to solve a big problem
13) Write about the Myths, then include the real Truths
14) Write drunk, edit sober

In addition to these above strategies, you can try mind mapping, free writing, automatic writing, brainstorming, free association, meditation, listening to instrumental music, retreating into nature to think, and other strategies to percolate fresh new ideas that turn into compelling content.

HARD TO IGNORE HEADLINES

So you’ve chosen a compelling topic. You’ve written some great content for your audience. And now you need to get some attention. Try some fun and catchy headlines. Here’s a few that might catch attention:

1) Here’s why we would fire you as a customer
2) Five Great movies themes we’ve seen that made memorable advertising campaigns
3) I wish I knew this one thing before I got into this business
4) The three most embarrassing blunders I’ve witnessed with email
5) Thank God Facebook wasn’t invented yet when this happened to my friend
6) Confessions of a jaded _____________________
7) The best business idea I got was from a 7-year old
8) This is the single biggest business myth I’ve uncovered in my years in business
9) I didn’t regret doing this in college, but would it work in business?
10) This was the most politically-incorrect thing I’ve ever done
11) Your mother would disown you if she saw you trying this strategy to get new customers
12) Nine reasons your next product launch will fail miserably
13) You won’t believe what our interns did at our last company outing in the park

COPY AND WRITING TOOLS

Once you have crafted your message, try some of these writing tools to help you check your writing. Some of these tools can be quite comprehensive, and valuable. Here’s a few:

Grammarly: a great resource for all things writing. Excellent articles and tips. Try out the new free online proofreader: https://www.grammarly.com/proofreading/

Pro Writing Aid: a comprehensive writing tool for all kinds of writers and editors. https://prowritingaid.com/

Hemingway App: don’t you just love the way Hemingway wrote? Now you can too, with the Hemingway app. Because simple and easy is good! http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

Smart Edit: a Microsoft Word plug-in that helps the writing process. Performs several checks on your content throughout the process. Very thorough. http://www.smart-edit.com/

Word Counter: shows word count, level of writing, reading time and keyword density. https://wordcounter.net/

Portent’s Content Idea Generator: generates ideas for articles, blogs, headlines, and other content to write. Fun to use! https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker/

Email Subject Line Grader: Generates an objective numerical score up to 100 on your email subject lines. Includes character count, word count, word mixture and balance, and word characterizations. http://emailsubjectlinegrader.com/

CONCLUSION

Have some fun with your writing! If you don’t enjoy the writing process and you don’t enjoy what you have written, it makes it hard for others to like it too.

Write like you talk. Keep it simple. And short.

Be specific, go deep, and go long tail. This is the age of specialization. Nobody wants generalities.

Create value in your writing by:

– Sharing something you know to help your readers
– Suggesting a new method to address your application or problem
– Taking a fresh view or perspective on something
– Creating a new combination of existing elements for an improved outcome
– Observing and reporting on unique relationships of people, concepts and ideas
– Uncovering a new problem solved with age-old eternal wisdom
– Helping your readers expand their thinking “outside the box” of conventional thinking

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