While Patchman might not be the newest cape crusader in the Marvel Universe, we do think you will benefit from it’s super powers.
There are volumes that can be written about internet security, however in this brief blog post, I’m going to attempt to cover the basics of keeping your website secure.
In my last piece, I talked about email marketing using MailChimp. In this blog I want to go a bit deeper into ethical practices of sending email.
First and foremost, you should only send email to people who have willingly given you their email address. People that sign up for your newsletter, customers, or people that contact you for information all might reasonably expect to receive an email from you. However, if you’re sending to addresses from a list you’ve “purchased” or from email addresses you’ve harvested from somewhere, sending an email to them could violate the CAN-SPAM act and get you into trouble. At the very least, it may get your account suspended with your email marketing provider or your web host.
What is the CAN-SPAM act?
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was signed into law by President George W. Bush and established the United States’ first national standards for the sending of commercial email and gives authority to the Federal Trade Commission to enforce it.
If you’re using an email marketing company like MailChimp, Contact Contact or Aweber, many of these compliance issues will be enforced for you. But in a nutshell, here are the high points:
- A visible and operable unsubscribe method in all emails
- Opt out requests are honored within 10 business days
- Accurate and valid From addresses must be used when sending emails
- Relevant subject lines (relevant to the body of the email and not deceptive)
- A legitimate physical address of the publisher is present
- A label must be present if content is adult in nature
- A message should contain at least one sentence
Now personally, it seems crazy that since I receive so much spam, you can actually get in trouble for sending it – but you can. Generally the persecution comes not from the individuals, but from the Internet Service Providers who may be affected by large volumes of spam.
On April 29, 2004 the US government brought the first criminal and civil charges against a company and the associated individuals for advertising a diet patch and hormone products via hundreds of thousands of spam emails. They faced up to 5 years in prison under the CAN-SPAM law and 20 years in prison under the US Mail Fraud statutes.
So I would recommend only sending emails to people who have signed up to your lists, or that are existing customers, or prospective customers who have expressly communicated with you.
For information on the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003
With the use of social media on the rise, you would think email marketing might be dead…. WRONG, email marketing is alive and well and perhaps still one of the most effective marketing methods.
Email marketing means keeping in touch with your customers. Are you collecting email addresses of your customers, prospective customers and site visitors? If not, you should be.
There are many solutions to not only help you collect the email addresses, but also design and send first class email newsletters and announcements. Today I’m going to talk about MailChimp.
MailChimp (www.MailChimp.com) is one of my favorite services, not only because it does the job remarkably well, but because it’s free to get started, giving you the opportunity to start small, and on the cheap, and grow into a paid plan.
Their “Forever Free” plan allows you to have a substantial 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month. That is typically quite enough for most websites starting up. When you go above 2,000 subscribers or need to send an unlimited amount of emails per month, they have plans that start at just $20/month. Or they offer “Pay as you go” plans where you buy email credits for .02 or .03 cents each for each email you send. Think of email credits like postage stamps and you simply buy a pack of credits and use them as you send messages.
After creating a free account, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a “List”. This is a mailing list. This might be something like “Newsletter List” or “Current Customers” or “Prospective Clients”. You can create as many lists as you like, and send messages to specific lists.
Whereas you might send your monthly newsletter to everyone, you might send different offers and specials to existing customers and different offers and specials to prospective customers.
Once you create a list, you can add subscribers any number of ways. You can manually enter them into the system, or you can import and copy and paste from a spreadsheet or text file. In my experience MailChimp offers the best and most-versatile import options compared to other services. You can even generate a signup form that you can embed in your website so people can signup for your newsletter themselves online.
Once you’ve built a list, you’re ready to create a Campaign. A campaign is just a fancy word for an email. This could be a newsletter, note to your customers, or some kind of promotion. The possibilities are endless. They offer a wide variety of templates to get you started, from very simple emails, to multi-column newsletters.
You can create your content without any technical knowledge of HTML, using a WYSIWYG (What you See is What You Get) editor that allows you full control of your design and the ability to insert graphics and images.
When you’re ready to send, you have various options to send immediately, or schedule it to send later. With paid accounts, you have even more options, like options to split your mailing or let MailChimp tell you the best time to send your email to ensure the most engagement.
The emails are delivered quickly and you’ll have access to full reports, like how many were sent, how many people opened it, how many people clicked on something in your email and how many bounced or could not be delivered.
They are fully CAN-SPAM compliant, so at the bottom of each email, it reminds them why they are on your list, and gives them a one-click option to unsubscribe.
If you’re looking for a way to get started with email marketing, check out MailChimp!
In my last piece I talked about the ease and simplicity of using PayPal to collect payments on your website. In this piece I’m going to talk about a newcomer to the payment processing game… Stripe.
Stripe (Stripe.com) began in 2010 and was funded by some of the original founders of PayPal. Stripe set out to become the next PayPal, and while PayPal still holds the market share, Stripe is quickly gaining ground.
Even though they are built a bit more for the developer in mind, they do make integrating a payment button in your website. Customers can make payments quickly and easily, without having to have a Stripe account, using a credit card.
You can setup a Stripe account in minutes and you’ll immediately be in “Test mode” where you can create your buttons, develop your software and integrate however you like. They have great tutorials, and if you’re using WordPress there are countless plugins available to work with Stripe. Once you’re ready to go live, a few simple steps to verify your account and your bank account and you’re off and running collecting payments.
Their fee structure is remarkably identical to PayPal, simply 2.9% of each transaction and .30 cents per transaction. They don’t offer any kind of Pro plan with a monthly subscription, however they do ask you to contact sales for Enterprise (aka high-volume) solutions.
They offer some more cutting edge bells as whistles, such as integration with Apple Pay, Alipay and also supporting Bitcoin payments. They work with over 100 global currencies so you can instantly charge your customers in their local currency.
If you’re looking for a slightly more technical solution to accepting payments via PayPal, check out Stripe!