Learn Dash releasing a Plus Version!

I’ve been running membership sites for years now. One of the primary features of my membership sites are classes, because I’ve had so many requests to provide them.

Well, setting up a class environment in WordPress is not so easy as it may seem.  You’ve got to worry about the order of the posts and providing a good way to test or quiz those members as they move through the class to make sure that they are really learning something from the course.  Using a decent WordPress membership site plugin doesn’t always do the trick either, as there are just too many unique things about my classes (such as providing a class materials list for lessons, or moving people through the class lessons weekly, and not letting them go faster unless they pay additional fees.

All of this changed when I purchased Learn Dash a month ago.  I’m now in the process of moving my class lessons over to Learn Dash and it’s paying off. Not only does Learn Dash give me a rich course platform to setup my lessons in (including embedded audio/video), but it also has an option to give me SCORM output, track my users course progress, and offer quizes, or exams that can actually test their knowledge, above and beyond just basic true/false, or multiple choice questions.  Learn Dash questions come in many varieties and this is what I’ve wanted all along.

I just got an email from the owner that Learn Dash is going to be offering a Plus version of their plugin.  This is scheduled to be even better, giving me the option to drip-feed classes one week at a time (or at any other rate, daily, monthly, etc), accept subscription payments and even group and display users based on specific privileges.

If you have a need to setup a course in WordPress and want the software that will do it right, look no further then Learn Dash.  It gets my highest recommendation, and yes I have used other course plugins, none of them can match the features and flexibility of Learn Dash.

Finding and Deleting A Virus From WordPress

Yikes – it’s true, I felt that I had a virus on this blog (don’t worry, it’s fixed).  So, I had to manually update WordPress and start activating plugins one at a time, to find out what was going on.  In the end, it all worked out fine. I’m still not sure if there was a virus, or not, but just to be safe I have locked it down for now, and made sure that everything is working as required.

So, what exactly were the steps I took to erradicate the problem?  Here they are.

  1. First, I wanted to see if I had a virus, I checked out this link (replace the domain at the end with your own): http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/results/www.profit-internet.com
  2. Then, you may need to try out a few other virus / exploit checker plugins, I used these two: ( http://wordpress.org/plugins/exploit-scanner/installation/ ) and ( http://wordpress.org/plugins/antivirus/ )
  3. Now it’s time to update WordPress, manually.  I followed the instructions at this page that worked like a charm: http://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress
  4. If you need to download a copy of the current version of WordPress, you can find it here: http://wordpress.org/download/
  5. I used WP Twin to take a backup snapshot of the current blog (with ALL plugins deactivated).
  6. Finally, I logged back into my blog and started activating plugins, one at a time, until I found the culprit.  I then used WPTwin to go back to the original version of the updated WordPress Installation (before any plugins were activated) and just activated the plugins that would not cause a problem.

That’s it, all done, my blog is running fine, and no more problems.  All due to a plugin, I think, but you can never be too sure.

 

 

Facebook forces Timeline! Businesses in for huge change in social media marketing…

I heard it, but could not believe it.  Now I know it’s true.  Facebook is forcing everyone to use the Timeline and doing away with a default Tab on the homepage. We all have to use Timeline  – man this is crazy! What is Facebook thinking?  We’re not living in the world of Time, actually we are, but we’re not limited by it.  Now Facebook is telling us we have to be… We have to present everything based on Time: When something happened, etc. Excuse me, but this really, really BLOWS – I mean big time… talk about limiting.

For now, there’s not much to do but accept it, and move on – until hopefully FB comes to it’s senses, if that every happens.  Here’s a link I found that will help, for now:
The Complete Guide to Setting Up The New Facebook Page Design

Here’s a document outlining the new Timeline image dimensions:

Facebook Timeline Image Sizes (Dimensions)

Here are 2 more very useful links:
Facebook Timeline for Business Pages – 21 Key Points To Know 
Facebook Timeline for Pages – Frequently Asked Questions

You also might want to consider buying some custom timeline graphics, and re-working them to your own business. But, as far as applications are concerned, those are all changing too. I suspect it will take 3-6 months before the dust settles on this. Come back and check this post from time to time, I will update it with new tools that I find.

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Revisiting Large Email Lists Sending

It’s been some time since I’ve had a look at the servers and providers in the large email list sending space. I’ve had several clients contact me to help them with their own large lists, so I decided it was time to have another look at where things stand right now.  Many clients still confirm to me: “This is much harder than we though it would be!”.

It seems that the large email sender software packages are still available, though pricing has increased quite a bit. Your options in this area are:

  •  ListMailPRO ($69.00) – My older standby favorite, I still use it every day and it still works like a charm. I could not live without ListMailPRO – it is that good, and it has stood up to the test of time.  I do provide customization, tuning and setup for ListMailPRO on just about any server that you have, though I still highly recommend a fully managed VPS server, or Dedicated server for larger lists.
  • OEMPRO ($299.00) – It still looks like a reliable solution but I have not tried it yet, and the forums do report failures and slow sending on larger lists.
  • ActiveCampaign ($499.00) – One of the older sending software suites. I’ve tried/tested it a few times and it worked (though slower than ListMailPRO) at the time, it may be better now.  Provides plugins for triggers, birthday sending and much more.
  • Omnistar Mailer ($287.00)  – This one still looks pretty good. I did test this out myself many years ago and it performed reasonably, but again, since I’ve not touched it in many years I’m not sure how reliable it is now.  At the time it could not match ListMailPRO.
  • PhpLIST (free) – This free alternative looks like it has found good technical replies in the forums, and it could be considered a good match for ListMailPRO, but I’m still partial to ListMailPRO, and I have tested this myself as well.
  • DadaMail ($50 Pro) – This software is still being updated, and it looks like a reliable alternative. The last I looked it ran Perl/CGI, but I’m not sure if it still does.

That pretty much does it for the mail server software packages I recommend, except for one other that is in Beta.  It looks to be real promising and I will write up an entire review of it: Amazon SES (Simple Email Service), which includes these Amazon SES Scripts.  Regarding send rates and validating bounce/spam rates, the two big players are still around and worth trying out as they both have free trials available, here they are.

  • Email Reach – one of the best choices for checking your email deliverability. Excellent.
  • Sender Score – a part of ReturnPath.net they also provide a free trial to let you check your sending, deliverability and bounce rate.

That’s all for this post. Watch for my new review of Amazon SES coming soon as I test that service out. By my calculations, the pricing on Amazon SES could come in at under $1.00/month for sending text only messages to very large lists, and that is very refreshing!

If you require Large List email server setup, configuration or tuning do not hesitate to contact me at my webdesign company website: BGS Web Design

 

Ultimate Marketers Toolkit (Shortcodes Deluxe) Review and Demo

Here I am testing out the Ultimate Marketer’s Toolkit by Mark Dulisse. This looks to be a real winner.  Tons of graphics that are bundled in one plugin that let you drop in shortcode (simple codes) to create graphic images, testimonials and just about anything you would want as a marketer – this is brilliant.

Here’s a demo below…

Social Share:
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Blue checkboxes
[list style=”blue-check-1″]

  • List Item
  • List Item
  • List Item

[/list]

[contentbox width=”400″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]Content Box – or Johnson Box inserted here – I will ramble on here in text so you can see how the text wraps in the box. Definitely a nice addition to have to create these Johnson Boxes, Testimonial Boxes, Arrows, Numbers, just about anything – see more samples below.[/contentbox]

Custom sign image: [signs style=”29.png”]

Phrases: [phrase style=”53.png”]

Banner Header:
[banner bannertext=”Put Your Banner Text Here – Sweet” bannerno=”” style=”BB”]Type your text here..[/banner]

[testimonial testimonialimgurl=”” style=”TI”]Type your text here..[/testimonial]

Guarantee Box:
[guarantee style=”TP”]Type your text here..[/guarantee]

Linebreak (below):

[linebreak style=”3.png”]

[delaycontent delaytime=”15″]This content is delayed for 15 seconds…[/delaycontent]

Arrows: [arrow style=”14.png” alignment=”center”]

[highlight color=”FFFF00″]This text will be highlighted [/highlight]- any color can be selected

Full Price Table
[pricetable style=”b” standardtext=”Standard” protext=”Pro” premiumtext=”Premium” text27=”$27″ text37=”$37″ text67=”$67″ permonth1=”per month” permonth2=”per month” permonth3=”per month” point1=”” point2=”” point3=”” point4=”” point5=”” point6=”” point7=”” point8=”” point9=”” point10=”” point11=”” point12=”” point13=”” point14=”” point15=”” buttonurl1=”” buttonurl2=”” buttonurl3=”” linkwindow1=”_self” linkwindow2=”_self” linkwindow3=”_self”]

 

Sample–website snapshot

 

This is a sample snapshot of Google taken using a plugin for Windows Live Writer. The advantages here are tremendous. Add, edit and update blog posts offline and publish them at a later date. If you’re really motivated link your blog draft posts to a Windows Mesh account and they will be available to you from any attached device – slick!

Testing Out WYSYWIG Editors for WordPress

I’m finally getting around to testing Windows Live Writer on a real blog. Let’s see how well it does and go from there. I also want to try adding images.

Picture 003

Three I am at home working on the blog… You can see from this picture that I have a lot of fun working on my websites, and those of my clients. I like to work near a window at all times, so I can look out and check on nature at the same time as working.

I’ve been a fan of Live Writer for several years, and had heard many good things about it, I’m just not sure how well it does. I created this test post, added an image, and now I am back into my blog online editing the same post, just to see how well it did.  I’m impressed so far.  I tried a few other WYSIWYG editors and they were either very old (and not updated to the latest version of WordPress, or they were not good enough for what I want to do.  Let’s face it, adding and positioning images is not a fun task in WordPress, and using a full what you see is what you get editor makes all the difference in the world.

I’ve got tons of new products to review and I will get to that over the coming weeks. Let’s just say I’ve had a field day on the Warrior Forum, picking up quite a few products recently, most of them being for Facebook, and Social Media, or SMS marketing, or for my offline client gaining business of Web Design which I have been doing for years online for clients around the world.

MadMimi Honest Review

I just re-discovered MadMimi.com.  I remember checking them out a year or two ago, but now it seems they have added a few more features and their pricing is still reasonable, at least compared to all of the other autoresponders! You can also import a huge list without having to wait for every single person to ‘confirm’, and that alone makes this service worth it’s weight in gold.

A lower cost Autoresponder is available!

The biggest problem is that about 2-3 months ago all of the white label autoresponders raised their prices, from the looks of things it seems that Aweber does not allow the lower priced options and they are wanting everyone to signup for their full suite of services.  That’s fine if you have good sales numbers already and you can justify the cost, and if you really need all of the additional services such as: ‘send only’ to those who have not opened previously, or you want tracking statistics that are top-notch.

With the advent of using Google Analytics for email tracking, and the fact that current open rates for email are down, as well as click through rates, you might want to consider the lower cost alternatives, and as an experienced marketer (from way back in 1997), there is only one really good one in town – short of setting up your own mail server (which I can happily do for you if you need it).

That service is MadMimi.  The pricing is fair: get up to 10,000 names for $36.00/month! Their campaign tracking, (additional priced: drip sending is at $5.00/month) and other features set them in a league of their own for the thrifty autoresponder user.

MadMimi is available at: http://www.madmimi.com

WordPress Email List Building Tools – Honest Reviews

I’ve had several blogs running for years now, I love posting new things as I find them using my blog.  But let’s face it – you really want to be building an email list at the same time, so you can contact people with similar interests as you.  And, if you want to be successful in marketing to those who have visited your blog in the past, then building an autoresponder list is the best way to do it…

It’s not hard to stick an Aweber or GetResponse form on your blog, in fact it’s almost too easy (just setup your list and click over to build a form and choose publish, grab the code – to copy/paste and your done), but it’s not easy enough in my mind – and it was not covering ‘all of the bases’: footer, sidebar, exit pop, lightbox pop, etc…

So, several months ago I started looking at alternatives, I found the excellent UFA (Ultimate Footer Ad) and enjoyed how well it worked, it did draw clicks, and I liked that, but was it converting fully…. well, yes and no.  I knew how to create a great looking Footer and how to get people to click on it, but they were not always taking action.  I also tried the excellent, and free, Optin Crusher plugin.  It also had pretty graphics and was good at getting ‘in the eyes’ of my visitors – and staying there, as it did not go away…

Finally while digging around on a few forums I frequent, I came across Digi List Builder – and I’ve pretty much been in heaven ever since.  Now, you may not feel the same way, so let me review some of the other List Building Tools I’ve tried to help you decide which one is right for you.

Optin Crusher (free) – this excellent free plugin does an excellent job of letting you put Audio/Video in your popup!  It’s great for doing that, and I will say I need to do further testing on using Audio/Video to increase list signups, so I will need to revisit these reviews in time to make that comparison.   Overall, it’s a good choice if Footer Ad is what you want. The argument is that a footer ad is not too obtrusive and it will keep your visitors happy by not being too ‘in your face’ as they read your blog.  I do believe that is the case – but they also do not seem as happy to click either, and that can be a problem. Further testing is required so watch this post for updates.

CodeBanter WordPress Autoresponder Plugin (free) – this is another option which does work well for what you want it to do, let you drop an Aweber or GetResponse form anywhere in your blog. Once you install and activate the plugin you can either use Drag/Drop to place your form, or you can use a 1 line of shortcode (PHP code) to place the autoresponder form in your sidebar. It’s easy, and does it’s job, simple as that.  Again, I have the form placed, but I do not see the sign-ups.

Ultimate Footer Ad ($47.00) – this slick footer ad / slide up script is great for incorporating into your Blogs. The main features that let it stand out are the statistics you can gather for each display, and click of the footer ad. Setup rotating ads and split-test them to find which one works best. It’s excellent at what it does, and if you want to test and know which ads are pulling best, it’s the way to go.  Note that the page does not tout it’s WordPress features but it works just find in WordPress as it does on static pages.  Still, though, I wish I had more signups.

Action PopUp ($47.00) – Robert Plank’s original Action PopUp. One of the first WordPress PopUp plugins. Michel Fortin has really claimed it works wonder, I can see why. You can choose your Lightbox ‘Dimming’ color, cool.  A review will follow soon.

WPSuperPopup ($39.95) – Looks nice and does have a few interesting features (Exit Pop, Live Preview, and only show xx times). I’ve not used it yet, a review will follow.

And that takes me to the winner, in my opinion, just for the sheer capability of it, and that is Digi List Builder, read more below…

Digi List Builder ($97.00) – the king of all WordPress list building plugins as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been using for about 1 month now and it has gathered 4 times as many signups as the others have!  Why? Because it offers a full host of blog interaction. This thing is awesome, you can turn on automatic signup forms 1.) in the sidebar, 2.) at the end of each post/page, 3.) in a slideup or footer ad that slides up on every page, 4.) in a fully configurable lightbox popup, 5.) in an Exit popup (pops up when someone tries to close/exit) your website.  All of these are adjustable on/off with simple checkboxes, and you can turn them all on, if you want to, in about 30 seconds.  It’s brilliant.

I will say I got a little carried away the first week I had it running, but I wanted to make sure it worked, so I turned on everything… then I found that people were not signing up frequently, and were getting a little angry, so I turned off the Exit Pops, and the Footer Ads.  The best part is that they keep adding new features and updating the plugin. I’ve had 3 updates in the 1 month I’ve had it.  They recently added stats, so you can see which form is gathering more clicks for you, and so far I’ve found that the Lightbox Popup is doing the trick – I have configured it to poup on every 2nd page visit.  The best part is that ALL of these popups/forms go away after your visitor signs up, by dropping a cookie, so if they signup they will not be annoyed by any of the popups/forms asking them to signup, signup, SIGNUP!  Because there will not be any… simple as that… a lovely piece of work, I highly recommend it.  By the way, all of the signup forms you notice (in the sidebar, after every post that is on it’s unique page, and in the lightbox popup) were all setup, and are tracked with Digi List Builder (in about 5 minutes of setup).

I will be doing a larger review of Digi List Builder in the next few months after I gather further stats on it’s effectiveness.

And The Winner Is:

All of these scripts are winners, in fact they each do a great job at what they claim to do, including Ultimate FooterAd (stats/split testing) and  OptInCrusher (audio/video) but in my mind there is one overall winner because it does pretty much everything the others do (except for the split testing, and the audio/video), and that is:

  1. Digi List Builder ($97.00) – you cannot beat it for what it will do for you, without wasting any time. Install/activate and set a few check boxes and start gathering your list – it really is that simple.  Rating: Excellent

Watch for a more in-depth review of Digi List Builder in the next few months as I put it through all of it’s paces… Happy email list building!

Aweber White Labels (ProSender, XMailPro) Raise Autoresponder Prices

I was in a for quite a surprise when I went to recommend low-priced Aweber white label autoresponder hosting recently. Let me explain…

Just last month, from what I remember you could still buy pretty low priced hosting for your email list with the so-called Aweber White Label services (these are ISP services that outsource their work to Aweber and basically they setup and use the Aweber customer service/hosting, but not quite the really good Aweber stats tracking and email list segregation options).

If my memory serves me correctly the old pricing was $19.97 for up to 10,000 subscribers, then an additional $9.95 for each 10,000 subscribers after that… not bad, as you ramp your way up, you can stay at a reasonable monthly price (around $20-$30).  You could get it lower if you paid annually, coming down to $14.92/month for up to 10,000, the additional 10,000 subscriber pricing always added an extra $9.95/month.

As you can see, at the old pricing, it was a pretty good deal.  People were asking me what was lacking from this service that Aweber had. From what I could tell it was the Stats/Tracking details, and the segregation options such as Send Only To Those Who Did Not Open or Send Only To Those Who Did Not Click the last Email sent.  Some of these higher end stats just not something as newbie marketer, or even mid level marketers had a need for…  Heck, I hardly use features like that myself, and if you’re not pulling in steady income from your list, it kind of made paying the extra Aweber fees (from $50/month for 10,000 and up to $130/month for 25,000 subscribers) a bit ‘exhorbitant’ in my opinion.

So, having the option of going with the lower price white label services was something I was in the habit of recommending. I could save my clients a good $25-$50/month and they would still have excellent Aweber customer service. It’s just that some of the more advanced features would not be available to them.

Is Low Price Autoresponder Hosting Gone?

Well, that has all changed…. the last time I went to refer to someone to ProSender I saw the prices had increased considerably, heck they were almost double, and now that I look at them closer, they seem to be almost identical to Aweber pricing. From what I can tell, it seems the White Labels can no longer offer the lower-price autoresponder service packages, and are only offering the high-end Aweber accounts, and in my opinion, that is not good news!

If you’re testing the waters, you don’t want to blow $20/month just to see what you can do, and especially if you start gathering 5,000 or 10,000 subscribers, that is when price becomes a big issue.  As the typical open rates drop (I’m only seeing 7% to 15%), and click rates also drop (.10% to 4.9%) it makes it hard to justify the cost.

As you can see, if you’re not selling a $97 product, or more, just trying to get someone to open/read/click and purchase your product is going to take quite a bit of effort, and you cannot just drop them from the list after 2-3 months (you have to give them at least 6 months to 1 year to make a purchase from what I’m seeing)…

Almost, here are some alternatives

So, where does that leave you?  You should seriously start looking at other alternatives… some that are lower priced, and that will not eat up your advertising budget so quickly.  Some of the better alternatives I have listed below, in the order I suggest you try them…

  1. MadMimi – this mailer service is one that I have recently discovered.  The pricing beats all the others for what you get. Well worth it. You can try it out for up to 100 subscribers for free, after that you will have to pay.  I really like the way you can quickly layout a theme and campaign here, and the other great thing, there are no dumb opt-in restrictions required when you Import into your list, so if you have a big list and cannot afford to lose many of them on re-subscribe consider MadMimi.
  2. MailChimp – still a good deal, your first 500 subscribers are free, so you can test the waters easily here. After that costs are comparable to Aweber. They have recently added Facebook interaction, and an iPhone app for sending to your lists (nice).
  3. ListMailPRO – requires that you run your own mail server, but in the end it’s worth it, if you ask me.  I’ve been running my own mail server for years, what does it amount to, about $40/month for over 200,000 subscribers (my active list is around 49,000), and I mail fairly frequently.  It does require that you ‘warm up’ your IP before sending, and get all of the other things setup properly, but after the first 3-4 months it’s just watching and maintaining your lists (while your host manages the rest, with managed hosting).

I will do custom ListMailPRO server setups and configuration if you need it. Contact me through my web design company website at: BGS Web Design for details.