The Email Game

When I first heard about The Email Game, I was instantly intrigued. To me, email is always a game against myself everyday. With hundreds of new emails coming in everyday and a lot of "real" work to do, it's a constant struggle trying to keep inbox zero and overcome the pain that is keeping up with email.

The Email Game is an interesting solution to people with this problem.

Essentially, the Email Game is an application that grabs your email account and toggles through your latest emails one-by-one. With each email, a timer is displayed, and it then becomes your task to reply, read, or dispose the email before the timer runs out. Although the points aren't as important to me, you do earn them each time you succeed. However, it's more about the time saving component for me.

I have been using the Email Game for almost two weeks now and I can honestly say that it saves me hours everyday. I used to have to monitor email all day waiting for important Client issues, but now I can take 5 minutes every few hours to toggle through everything super quickly.

Check out the Email Game and let me know what you think. For your reference, I have embedded their overview video below.

The Email Game - Conquer your Email from Baydin Inc. on Vimeo.

S.E. Oh!

Unless you're a computer, you are not an SEO expert. Sorry, but it's the truth.

If you're an SEO Company, you merely help businesses rank higher on search engines, but you're not a guru. You're important, but not as important as you think you are, and not in the way you think you are.

The true experts aren't necessarily the ones that KNOW the most information. Rather, they're the ones that understand how to create long-term relationships with others. They're the ones that test strategies endlessly. Most importantly, they're the ones that know how to be honest with their clients when the sticky situations arise.

Are you an expert or do you just think you know a lot?

.... and don't even get me started about email marketing...

Introducing EndaCast: The End Of Radio As We Know It

We're taking our knowledge to the audio world with EndaCast. Sal Greco and myself talk about the web, innovation, and designing a life and business anyway you want.

The podcast can be followed and/or subscribed to in multiple ways:

  1. Subscribe on iTunes
  2. Subscribe via RSS
  3. Follow on Twitter

Of course, I will also try to post each episode here and on my other web properties every week as well. I'd hate for everyone to miss out on an episode since we're recruiting some really amazing guests for the upcoming episodes.

Give episode 1 a listen and leave me your feedback below.

Endagon Is Hiring!

Endagon continues to expand everyday. I could have never dreamt of such a rapid growth rate. It's both exciting and scary at the same time.

While I will continue to love and cherish all of my personal one-on-one relationships with our team members, sometimes the intimacy must be compromised by the necessity of having a bigger family. If it works for the Duggars, why can't it work for a small web company?

I am opening up my arms to new family members that possess certain skills. Below, I have listed the positions we are looking to fulfill:

  • Designers: I am trying to be very specific with the criteria for this position. We already have an amazing team of graphic and web designers so I am looking for something specialized here. For any designers hoping to fill this position and join our team, I strongly encourage you to check out a site like Vimeo.com. We are looking for cartoon designers that can create incredible backgrounds and communities in a cartoon style of graphics.
  • Search Experts: Our search team has been swamped lately and we need to lighten their load asap. We are looking for anyone that has had some impressive success with their SEO efforts in the past and with a vast knowledge of Google Places/Maps for local businesses. Writing skills are a must as well.
  • Writers: We probably write more blog posts than the entire staff of Mashable does every week. We need to take our writing efforts to the next level by adding more literary minds to our staff. Blog writers need apply.

We're pretty informal in the hiring process. Please do not send a resume. Just send an email stating why you're awesome to jobs@endagon.com. Someone will respond to you asap.

Guest Post: Do Not Overlook Google Analytics

Aaron Eskaran has graced this blog with yet another informative post. This one is about the importance of utilizing Google Analytics for your website.

With so many methods and techniques available to amp up your online business or website, it is hard to know what tools are worth spending your time with. You should know however, that the one not to be missed is Google Analytics. Other tools may appear to offer similar results, but none match the quality and quantity of the package in Google Analytics.

Advertising ROI

The tools available with Google Analytics help you easily measure your return on investment.

It is simple and straightforward to measure your site goals against the levels that you define. By integrating other Google services, like AdWords and AdSense, you will also be able to track which site content generates the most revenue through post-click data. In addition, you will have the ability to track email campaigns, banner and offline ads. If you have items for sale on your site, the reports available will allow you to identify your best revenue sources.

Visualizing Data

It’s easy to analyze data with the multi-dimensional reports offered in motion charts. You can select the subjects for each axis and view how they interact over a certain period of time. With the google maps optimization resources, Analytics also identifies your most lucrative geographic markets. It is easier to see data that is missed in more traditional reports because of the ability to manage the metrics that are compared.

Customized Reports

All of the information accessible through Analytics is presented in an easy-to-read, yet thorough manner, through user-friendly, visual reports. Google Analytics won't affect the performance or the appearance of your website and there are no extra files to host on your website. With information from Google Analytics, you will be able to drive traffic more efficiently to your site, and convert that traffic more effectively. With the ease to schedule or send personalized report emails that contain exactly the information you want to share, everyone on your team will stay current on progress.

Google Analytics has made it easy for non-specialists and specialists alike to practice performance focused marketing. There are even more attributes like multimedia tracking and internal site search that make Google Analytics unique and usable by all. It is certainly a marketing tool not to be overlooked.

Social Media Profile PageRank

I'm not sure if I am late or very early to this finding, but I noticed something very interesting last week.

Upon visiting my Facebook profile, I noticed something different on my toolbar. The Google PageRank toolbar that I use changed and was showing a PR of 3/10. Previously, the PageRank would either be 0 or the elusive 10/10 that the Facebook.com domain yields.

This discovery made me very curious. I quickly jumped over to my Twitter profile and noticed that it featured an outstanding 5/10 ranking. Then, I saw my LinkedIn come in with a 2/10.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that understands how meaningful this is to the future of social media. If Google is going to start treating internal social profiles with as much weight as personal domain names, even more value and an endless amount of opportunities are going to exist in social media in the future.

For me, I can attribute my high PageRanks to both the length of time I have been on these sites (very early for all of them) and the fact that I link to each of my profiles from my personal websites whenever I can.

However, what is most curious to me is the fact that one of my profiles can have a higher PageRank than my highest ranked personal website. Is this the result of all of the Twitter aggregation sites that RT my posts? Hmmmmmm....

What do you guys think of this discovery? Did you already figure this out? What are your profile PageRanks? Leave a comment below.

Guest Post: Overhaul Your Internet Presence

Today's guest post is from Michael Cash. Michael has been helping to build and maintain reputations online. Suitably, he has decided to write about how to overhaul your entire internet presence in one fell swoop. I certainly hope you enjoy the post.

There is simply no better way to advertise your skills and expertise online than with a portfolio or resume. Unfortunately, too many assume that simply moving a paper version of their resume online is sufficient. These paper resumes and portfolios are not at all suited for display on the net. Building a strong and reliable portfolio for display online is key to rising above the rest of the crowd in the eyes of a potential employer, and here are a few tips on how to create an excellent portfolio.

If the skills which you wish to market have anything at all to do with web development, or web design, creating a web site is a relatively simple matter. Remember that the appearance of your own portfolio, in the form of a blog or web page, must showcase your talents properly if potential employers are to be impressed. If you are not adept with building web pages, and simply wish to make the best portfolio possible, there are plenty of simple guides how one can set up their own web site. There are also portfolio templates available on the internet which can give you a basic layout and can be modified to suit your needs.

When setting up your online portfolio, be sure not to beat around the bush, let the viewers of your portfolio know that you are looking for employment. It can be as simple as placing a button on your web page or blog that plainly says, “Hire me!”. The most important aspect of the portfolio is presenting the information that will get you hired, so be sure to be concise. Remember that those who are reading your portfolio are likely very busy, and do not want to be stuck reading a large paragraph description of yourself. Using bullet points is an excellent method of breaking up chunks of information about yourself into easily readable sections. The second most important aspect of any online portfolio is the ease of navigation. Keep the appearance of the page simple and very easy to navigate. There is no need for complex flash animations or bright distracting backgrounds.

A picture of yourself is a personal touch that will catch an employer's attention. Employers will feel as if they know you better after seeing a picture of you. Be sure to have your name, and contact information in plain view on the initial page of your portfolio. The most pertinent information employers are looking for includes your academic history, skills, any awards you have received, as well as a detailed yet concise report of your work experience. All of this information should be easily accessible and not hidden away on some other page other than the first. Market your portfolio directly towards whichever market you are seeking employment in.

One aspect of running an online portfolio that is often overlooked is security. Keeping your online portfolio safe from being tampered with by third parties is something that everyone on the web must consider. SSH hosting is an encrypted form of web hosting which is a fundamental protection against online theft, and works by providing the user with a secure channel from his or her computer to the web host server which the user's web page is on. Most web hosts offer SSH hosting within the web site's admin control panel.

Everyone at LoganLenz.com would like to thank Michael Cash for this thought-provoking post.

Make Music Your Career

In my ongoing attempt to provide my insights into the changing music industry, myself and the amazing team at Endagon have been hard at work on a new project set to launch in the coming months.

The project is called Make Music Your Career (MMYC) and it will be a training program and community that will assist any musician in their efforts toward becoming a full-time musician.

Since we are still months away from opening our doors, I just wanted to let everyone know that the temporary website is up and we are currently accepting the first wave of interested parties.

To make sure you reserve your spot in the course, all you have to do is supply your email address at the bottom of MakeMusicYourCareer.com. You will then be kept informed on the launch and other teasers of the program along the way.

Guest Post: The Importance Of Personalized Customer Service

Today's guest blog post is from Karel Zeman, the Owner of GO-Gulf.com. This post is about how important personalizing your brand for your customers has become recently. Please enjoy all that Karel has to say and feel free to leave your comments below.

How many times have you waited in line over the phone to be connected to a customer service representative? How many times have you repeated your complaint to a person on the phone, only to be placed on hold again while your call is connected elsewhere? We’ve all been there; half-hearted customer service that makes us lose heart with companies and makes us look for other firms. Why does this happen?

What is personalized customer service?

What’s happening in today’s fast-paced world is that no one has the time anymore and everything is getting automated, using a one size fits all method. What ends up being compromised is the personal touch that comes with personalized customer service.

When a customer’s query or issue gets the undivided attention of a customer representative, and when that query is resolved in a timely manner without undue stress to the customer, it can be considered that the customer service is personalized.

Why is personalized service important to the success of your business?

When service is personalized, your customers will feel more connected to you company. For example, if you’re providing online customer support, your customers should be able to configure their own settings and personalize their experience. If you provide phone support, a customer’s query should be resolved without unnecessary delay or call bouncing. Imagine this: If a customer is able to just click their way to a solution quickly, or is able to reach the pertinent department over phone quickly, you get to retain and grow customer loyalty.

The entire purpose of a business endeavor is to attract and retain customers companies. By providing personalized customer service, you will not only retain existing customers’ loyalty, but will attract more customers by word of mouth alone.

If you provide half-hearted customer service, you’re telling your customer that they are not important to you.

When is personalized customer service successful?

What counts with personalized customer service? The appearance and manner of the customer representative, the attention that the customer is given, and the efficiency of the transaction. These three attributes win over the customer each time. The absence of any of these attributes will be detrimental to your company’s business in the long term.

How to ensure efficient personalized customer service?

There are several methods by which personalized customer service can be achieved, as follows:

  • If it’s a voice call, record the customer’s complaint before routing the customer to a different department. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than to repeat the complaint each time to a new rep.
  • If it’s online support, ensure that the customer’s profile is stored in the database. This way, the customer won’t have to enter information such as name, address and social security number on several forms, time and again. Profiling a customer not only helps you in providing superior service to the customer but also helps the customer quickly get the resolution they seek.
  • If the customer service is face-to-face, ensure that your customer representative is dressed respectfully. A badly dressed and ill-mannered representative can actually help break deals. Make sure that your representative is trained to answer questions without sounding impatient. Ensure that all your customer representatives conform to official guidelines for behavior and conduct when with a customer.
  • When you offer customers personalized service, you're letting them know that you care about their specific needs. One way to provide good personalized customer service is to pay close attention to their likes and dislikes, and ask questions about the type of products or services they're looking for. For example, if you're a personal chef, you can provide personalized service by preparing the meals that your customers most enjoy.

General guidelines for customer retention

The following personalized customer service guidelines will help retain customers thus increasing your business:

If your business is local, such as a store:

  • Make a note of a customer’s preferred product choices and stock more of the same in your store.
  • Ensure that an offer is made to deliver the customer’s purchases to their home.
  • Offer special discounts to customers who buy more from you.
  • Greet the customer by name, if possible. This makes the customer feel privileged.
  • Train your assistants to always be polite, well mannered and helpful, and dress smartly while attending to your customers.

If your business is online:

  • Each time a customer makes a purchase, send out a thank you note to their email Id.
  • The next time when the customer logs in to make another purchase, offer a small gift or a discounted item.
  • Offer reward points on each purchase.
  • Send birthday and anniversary cards to customers
  • Note the customer’s purchase preference and sending them emails on similar products.

General guidelines:

  • Suggest new or updated services based on customer requirements.
  • Always ask for customer feedback, but keep the form simple.
  • Listen to customer

Social Media in the Year 2030

The year is 2030. Everything around human life has advanced drastically. Technology, creativity, and the Internet. Communication is much different than it was twenty years ago. Everyone functions alongside their personal devices. Every move is monitored. All activities are tracked and reported.

Twenty years ago, social media was still an exciting phenomenon for commerce. That was fun while it lasted. Until it spun out of control and our systems didn't know how to interact with all of the information being shared. It only took a few years for social media to become a standard practice for everybody. Thus, the levels of over-sharing and the aggregation of pointless information became far more than what anyone ever wanted.

There were too many broadcasters. Too many blog posts. Too many tweets. Too many status updates.

Not only was it impossible for humans to catch up with all of this information, but the debate began on how to minimize the less important materials and highlight the portions that were head-turning and newsworthy. Since everyone has essentially adapted to consuming their news in some digital format by now, this issue has become an ongoing debate. Almost a verbal war. Talks of monetization. Egos flying everywhere. How does one create the illusion of importance anymore?

Here we are today in 2030 with more outrageous problems than anyone ever could have predicted. My children, the eldest whom has just graduated (online) high school has been calling me out on some of my tweets from the glory days of 2008-2010 and asking me what some of my status updates meant from the year 2020. Needless to say, the archiving of our every thought and activity has created a society consumed by the past; yet worried of a future that is approaching faster than it should be.

The last 20+ years have been great for me. Unfortunately (and fortunately), my entire adolescent life can be read and critiqued like that of a novel. If I knew that everyone would know EVERYTHING about me 20 years ago, I might have reconsidered publicly displaying my location, my disgust in the Government, and how much I enjoy Apple products.

All of this shared information is being used against people today in the year 2030.

Chaos has ensued.

Something has to give.

Guest Post: A Basic Internet Marketing Campaign To Boost Your Revenue

Ryan Chaffin wrote me an interesting guest post about how to leverage the web to create a successful marketing campaign. While he does put the steps in its most basic form, it's important to not overlook these steps prior to spending any money on online promotion. Ryan can be followed on Twitter @RyanChaffin.

“It’s easy to make money on the internet!” We hear that a lot these days don’t we? I feel it’s safe to say you’ve heard that line before. If you hadn’t, why would you be on a website reading about Internet marketing? My guess is that you have a product or service you want to sell, and you have a website to sell this product or service, but you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would. Follow these simple steps to run a successful Internet marketing campaign that will boost your revenue.

1. Keywords

Before you can do anything else, you have to select keywords. Keyword selection is very important, as it will determine how successful the rest of your campaign will be. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that I have a website that sells calculator watches. I would start brainstorming what keywords prospective customers would type into a search engine to find my product, and make a list. Once the list is five to ten keyword phrases long, use Google’s Keyword Tool to start doing your research. Look at a few things within the keyword tool. If you are selling a product and will ship anywhere, you will want to look at the global search volume. If you are selling a local service, you will want to focus on the local search volume.

See what keyword phrases including the keywords you brainstormed get the highest traffic, and then scope out the competition by going to Google or Bing, or any search engine, and type in the desired keyword phrase. Once you have a feel for the competition, you will want to select a keyword phrase, or two, that has the highest search volume to lowest competition ratio. Now, back to the example. For a site selling calculator watches, after brainstorming and checking out the competition, I would select “Calculator Watches” for my keyword phrase.

2. Drive Traffic

Now that you have your keyword selected, which basically means your audience, it’s time to grab their attention, and bring them to your site! There are two ways to do this. These two options are often referred to as paid listings (PPC) and organic listings (SEO). Paid listings like PPC means you pay-per-click and are bidding for search engines to show your ad. Organic listings are results of search engine optimization (SEO). Both are highly effective in driving traffic to your site. PPC is an effective way to quickly place your ads in front of a large relevant audience. It will cost you more money up front, but the return generally makes it worth it. SEO takes longer for the results to be seen, but can be more cost effective, and relatively inexpensive, if you do it yourself. Almost every effective campaign will use both PPC and SEO together, to bring the best results.

3. Conversion

Now that you have a targeted audience, and you are driving them to your website, your site needs to be optimized for conversion. Lead your prospective customers to buy the product or service you are selling. Have a call to action. For example, to sell more calculator watches, I would put a clickable button on the site that says, “order today and receive free shipping” with free shipping really big (click the link above and look at the right side of the website. That’s what I’m talking about!) If you are selling a service, you should have a call to action with your phone number in big letters, and it should be the first thing they see. Conversion optimization is just as important as driving traffic to your site. You do not want to spend all this time and money driving traffic to your site, just to lose customers when they actually get there, because your site is confusing and not clear. Keep it simple; make the call to action clear, and you will see results.

Once again, go ahead and follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanChaffin.

Shoeboxed.com = An Admin's Nirvana

I admittedly spend WAYYYY too much time doing administrative work for my businesses. I'm not an Accountant or paper filer, I'm an Entrepeneur and Business Owner (I actually despised Accounting classes in college and frequently tell my Accountant that I feel bad for him). Running numbers and getting organized is a pain. But it's essential and one of the most important components of your business. Without some sort of organization in tact, your company will inevitably fall apart. That's just the way it goes.

Shoeboxed has given me some new found freedom from all of the aforementioned work that I despise so much.

At an affordable monthly rate, you are sent a handful of paid-for return Shoeboxed envelopes that you can fill with receipts, business cards, and other paperwork that needs to be organized and/or digitized, that you then send back to their headquarters to allow them to do all of the magic for you.

In actuality, this relationship is a dream come true. Now I can spend more time running my businesses and being creative, and less time doing all of the tasks that I hate.

Web Hosting

If I didn't think it was so tacky, I would have all of my websites flaunt a footer button that tells the world what hosting company I always use. Since I don't do that, I just feel like I owe it to the company for offering stellar customer service and 99.99% up-time for over 3 years now.

The company is iPage and they are offering insane discounts on their monthly hosting packages right now.

I was used to paying $7.00 a month for hosting prior to switching over to iPage. Now, I only pay $3.50 per month per shared server. All of my monthly hosting fees combined definitely don't break the bank anymore.

Before it's too late, I strongly suggest going over and checking out iPage's hosting plans. When you sign-up, they give away over $450 of extra goodies such as free advertising, online listings, and more.

Check out iPage right now!

affiliate_link

A World Without Web Analytics

A few weeks ago, Google announced the unveiling of a beta product that allows users to ghost themselves from Google Analytics tracking. In other words, the Internet's current obsession with privacy precautions are forcing invisibility into the default setting for users.

While this pivot is only in its infancy stage and it will take a little while for the web to adapt to the principle, this move is definitely a foreshadowing of what's to come.

The ability to remain anonymous will heighten as online shopping becomes even more mainstream and voluntary social actions become a media standard. There will be an inevitable inverse relationship between voluntary and involuntary actions online.

So, what will this mean for website owners?

Like what eventually happened to tangible storefronts, it will start to become impossible for website owners to maintain an accurate analysis on measurements that were once so important. Instead of website visits and conversion rates, progress will have to be measured by the level of engagement these websites partake in with their current and potential customers.

Today, retail stores may have rough estimates of how many people walk into their stores, but it has become almost impossible to track walk-ins alongside the number of phone calls, website sales, etc. All of these numbers become relative at some point.

Estimations and relativity will take over very soon in this web world as well. To accommodate, I would start managing your customer database and increasing your human interaction immediately.

Why You're Not a Guru

Even if you think you're the best at something specific, you're not. Not because you don't possess the skills to be, but because you aren't professional enough to utilize the understated skill of humility. Anyone that lacks this, by definition, cannot be a coined as a "guru."

Take a look around Twitter. How many accounts do you stumble on that lists something like this as the user's description:

Social media guru and consultant that loves the Internet. I can help you get more followers and stand out online.

A truly professional SM consultant doesn't have to say what he is. In fact, he/she is usually the one that denies such classifications. That's because they don't need it. All of their work comes from the referrals they receive from satisfying all their clients. Every time.

Next time you run into a self-proclaimed "guru" in any industry, ask them for examples of their work. Better yet, ask them if the number of followers you have on Twitter means anything. Get back to me afterward and I'll tell you why they are wrong.

NOTE: This information is NOT coming from a "guru" of any kind.

The Jaws of the Web

The Internet has been moving so fast that it doesn't even know what it is anymore. It's like a teenage boy trying to figure out what kind of adult he's going to become. That's the time in life when you're most vulnerable, most on edge, and most unpredictable.

Right now, we're hearing more and more regarding the argument of the web being either "open" or "closed." To most, open-source everything has the most advantages and allows for users to construct the type of adult that it will become. However, an expedited puberty can lead to a horrifying adulthood.

The arguable leaders in this open-source push today are Facebook, Google and Apple.

Apple is changing the way we take the Internet with us while allowing developers to build an independent career via a .99 cent application.

Google is innovating how we're able to find and obtain knowledge - almost like an online on-call education system.

Facebook is holding the power of mindshare and is attempting to possess a stranglehold on all online activities through the power of users sharing value.

While all these companies strongly endorse "open" activities online, isn't it ironic that their business models are so closed? If you think about it, each of these companies have created something so "open" that it has caused its own "closed" communities with few freedom and liberties within them.

Apple is forcing their Operating Systems into everything and denying any outside help along the way. The end goal is for you to not be able to purchase anything outside of the app store. More money for them.

Google has always acquired rising startups and innovations on the web in order to keep users locked into their own ecosystem. How "open" is it if I can't get a Blogger account without having some other sort of Google account first?

Facebook is being selfish enough to disregard ethics, morals, and the well-being of their millions of users. All that matters is that they're creating a platform that monitors your every move online. How open is that?

It's as if the jaws of the Internet has "opened" so far that it has no choice but to collect what it can and close itself in order to be comfortable again. Help you if you allow yourself to get eaten up along the way.

The New Endagon.com

Yesterday morning, we finally launched the new endagon.com. I know most of you have probably already visited it by now (or at least the analytics suggests you did), but I wanted to briefly inform you on the site's purpose and what to expect from it. The new endagon.com will simply serve as the corporate umbrella site for everything Endagon. We hope to launch the new Endagon Innovations, Endagon Entertainment, and Endagon Music Licensing sites in the coming weeks. These, as you may have guessed, will provide more detailed information on each of the Endagon companies.

All of these sites have been built or are being built in Wordpress. Throughout all of this development, if I have learned anything at all, it's that Wordpress really can do anything. God bless you, Matt Mullenweg!

Finally, I wanted to just remind everyone that although we launched the new Endagon site yesterday, it is still not 100% complete. We are still fine-tuning some things and just like any launch, you find the bugs after you release things sometimes. Therefore, I suggest you stay up to date to find out what we decide to change. At the very least, we will be blogging as a company, so that should encourage you to stay abreast.

Please leave your feedback below. I'd love to chat.