Thursday, January 27, 2011

Opens & Clicks for Mailroom Users

A brief explanation of the Opened & Clicked terms in Mailroom.

Opened means someone has opened the mail (hopefully to read it). This statistic does not include emails that have been read in preview mode. The best way to treat "Opens" is to look at trends and remember they will actually be higher than recorded.

Total Opened
The total number of times your campaign was viewed by your recipients. This means that if you send a campaign to 2 recipients and one reads your email twice while the other reads it once, the total opened will be 3.

Unique Opened
The unique opened does not take repeat opens into account, meaning the figure represents the total number of recipients that actually opened your campaign.

The Clicks data provides a number of important figures about the links in your campaign. As an example, "2,481 (14.28%) recipients clicked 7 links" tells us the following:
A total of 2,481 recipients clicked at least one link.
This resulted in a click-through rate of 14.28%.
All up, 7 different links in the campaign were clicked.

It may be a link to your website or an extension of the article in the newsletter. You can deliberately encourage "clicks" by putting a summary of the article in the newsletter with a link to the full article residing on your website or blog.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to look like an amateur - is this you?

Heres some tips to looking casual and amateurish:
  • Don't get a domain name
  • Have your car sign-written with your yahoo, gmail or paradise email address
  • use your ISP email address on your emails eg
  • Get the wrong domain name eg use when your are a company and should use
I see examples of these nearly every day. Having a domain name, which will cost you between $40 & $70, is worth it just for the level of professionalism it adds to your business on your email communications. Heres how to look professional:
  • register a relevant domain name for your business
  • use it as your email address eg
  • keep your Yahoo, GMail & ISP email addresses for your personal stuff
TIP: You can create an email alias to combine your personal and work email addresses yet still look professional.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Confusion about virtual servers could undermine your decisions

There is misconception and confusion regarding shared servers vs virtual servers. Having a basic understanding of the difference will help you quickly make good decisions about your website or web application hosting.  Virtual servers provide the most robust, dependable solution available at this time while shared servers (if not set up 100% correctly) have the potential to open your website up to poor performance or at worst, to hackers.

Shared Servers
Shared servers are an older technology where many websites/companies shared a server and even a database. The software running on the server portions up the server and shares slices of it to the multiple users. When the server fills up you need to setup an additional server or add more resources in a tricky process that can involve periods of down-time. Its a bit like cutting up a cake, there is only so much to go round and when its all gone you have you have to make another one if you want more cake.

For startup companies, a shared server keeps the initial capital outlay down - we started like this. As soon as we were able we purchased our own dedicated server and moved all our websites, databases and applications onto our new dedicated server.

Dedicated Servers
Dedicated servers are owned by one company. They are dedicated to running just that companies applications/websites or they could be dedicated to running a single website/application. When we setup our dedicated server, we called it Kauri for strength and growth. Kauri is still running and many of our customers still have websites hosted there. It's working well - even better since we moved all our databases and some of our bigger websites onto the virtual server we commissioned earlier in 2010.

Virtual Servers
Virtual servers look like a dedicated server from a software view. They are totally autonomous, like Kauri. The key difference is in the hardware. Instead of the server software sitting on just one hard (physical) server, it sits across a bank of servers which can be added, changed or removed without impacting on any of the individual virtual servers. The changes are managed by the server software, in our case, the world leader VMWare.

Large organisations have been using virtual server technology for years so it was exciting to find a similar offering in the SMB market. We commissioned our new server, called Pounamu, in early 2010 and experienced an increase in dependability measured by less call-outs for our team. The benefits of a virtual server, and why we have one are:

  1. Dependability. If any one of the physical servers in the array has a problem the software switches the work-load off that server and spreads it across the rest of the servers. Then the problematic hardware can be replaced or fixed without affecting the performance of your website in any way.
  2. Scaleability. Many websites start of with a small amount of traffic. Later, some experience significant growth and may need more disk space or processing power. With a virtual server additional CPU, RAM or storage can be commissioned and operational in as little as 2 hours! A process that used to take days.

With the virtual server technology, we can have a new dedicated server setup and running an application in a couple of days or changes made to cope with a sudden increase in web traffic in just 2 hours - it's  phenomenal!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Are you using The Web or The Internet?

If you are using The Web then you are also using The Internet but if you are using The Internet you may not be using The Web. People often use the the two terms interchangeably but at Spiral it's important we define the two terms correctly so we can focus our services where our expertise lies - on The Web. So what's the difference?

What is The Internet?
In a nutshell, The Internet is a massive network of networks. A worldwide infrastructure that connects millions of computers and networks. Information travels across this infrastructure via a number of different protocols of which HTTP (The Web) is just one. These protocols include:

  • HTTP - Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • HTTPS - Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • Telnet - bidirectional text communications
  • USENET - distributed discussion system. Often used for news servers.
  • FTP - File Transfer Protocol
  • IP - Internet Protocol
  • SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. For delivering mail.
  • POP - Post Office Protocol. For retrieving mail.
  • IMAP - Internet Message Access Protocol. For accessing email from multiple devices.
History of The Internet
The architecture and design of the Internet was conceived in 1973. Email predates the Internet, it started in 1965 as a way for multiple users on a computer to communicate. 
In 1983 the Internet proper was born when the global network switched to using TCP/IP for communications (still in place today) and the University of Wisconsin created the Domain Name System (DNS). The World Wide Web was released in 1992.
What is The Web?
The World Wide Web (WWW) is a way of accessing information across the Internet. A turning point for The Web was the release of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, making it easier for regular folk to use the web.
The Web uses the HTTP protocol to share information over the Internet. You  use your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc) to access web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Those pages may also contain text, images, video, sound etc.

Queen Elizabeth II sent her first email in 1976.