Introducing a cleaner inbox

A few interesting facts behind your inbox:   Over 98% of all emails zipping around the web are SPAM.  Of the remaining email, only 1 in 7 are from people, the rest are automated messages like newsletters, Facebook updates and the like.  Keeping your inbox clean has been an uphill battle, and each year the hill has gotten steeper.  It is a problem that causes everyone grief.  Companies and their employees spend exceedingly more time wading though piles of unwanted email which wastes time and hurts productivity.  Service providers spend more and more time just keeping the beast at bay.  This past month, for example, I personally spent a full week and a half on email.  Not reading email, or writing email, but keeping our email system healthy and delivering email.

I wanted to up our email game for everyone.  A few of my goals included: eliminating spam from your inbox, zapping viruses and other harmful email before they are delivered, and simplifying the back end management required to keep your inbox clean.  So, I brought in some help.

Rather than providing the same degree of protection as the rest of the industry, we’ve gone one step further and partnered with a company utilizing Commtouch, the leader in real-time email threat identification. With Commtouch’s RDP technology, our network can respond to new threats as they emerge. There’s no racing to write patterns and deploy them across our network, leaving you vulnerable in the meantime. Moreover, Commtouch’s technology enables us to achieve some of the highest capture rates and lowest false-positive rates in the industry.

I’m happy to report that we are now routing all of our inbound mail through this ‘carrier-class’ email security service, which will keep your inbox squeaky clean.  Additionally, we now detect viruses in your emails and attachments, and safely quarantine them from your inbox.

Nothing needs to be done on your end to take advantage of these new services.  I implemented the new filters a couple of days ago and the transition was smooth and without service interruption.  Speaking of service interruption, we now also have redundant email servers to catch all of your mail.  If for some unlikely reason our email service were to become unavailable, email will be seamlessly stored on redundant mail servers waiting for safe delivery once our primary email service came back up.  Nice.

So, spend a couple extra minutes chatting with your favorite barista in the morning. You’ll have the time now that you don’t need to hit the delete key so much in your inbox.

If you have any questions, or if you are currently running your own email server and would like to have us filter it for you, just contact us and we will be happy to help.

Enjoy,

Steve

 

Pretty permalinks for your WordPress site

WordPressAwhile back,  I posted about our support for “Almost Pretty”  permalinks for your WordPress site on our network.   Today,  I’m happy to announce that we now support “Pretty”  permalinks on your Word Press site.  When you host with PepperStation,  your website is supported by a number of servers behind the scenes.  Recent upgrades to our servers and various dial turning and button pushing now allow us to support “Pretty”  permalinks on your WordPress site.

So,  if you currently have /index.php in your permalink structure, and would like to remove it,  feel free to do so.

What are permalinks?  Here is a little refresher from our previous post.

A refresher on permalinks –

Permalinks are the links you can share with others and the search engines for your blog posts.  From a search engine performance point of view,links to your site or blog that contain keywords relevant to your page’s content,will boost the ranking performance of that page with the search engines.  By default WordPress uses “ugly”  permalinks which look something like:http://example.com/?p=N

These links while functional,do not have an added benefit of loading your link with keywords for viewer and search engine consumption.  The preferred permalink is the “Pretty”  or  “Almost Pretty”  variety which allow you to create and share links with keywords in them and look like this:http://example.com/yyyy/mm/post-name/

Read more about permalinks on the wordpress site at:http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

To create links for your blog containing keywords,  log onto your WordPress admin and goto settings->permalinks.  Select a common link structure that you wold like to use and then modify it by adding /index.php to the beginning in the ‘custom structure’field.  You will have a link structure that looks something like: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/

That’s it,  you are good to go and now have links that contain great keywords for your blog post.

Enjoy!
Steve

Making sure your email reaches the inbox

I’m happy to announce that we’ve made some improvements to our email system that will help your emails reach the inbox.

Did you know that on average 20% of legitimate emails never reach the inbox?  Frustrating,  I know.  Recently,  we partnered with an email sending service provider to help us make sure that your emails are reliably delivered.

SendGrid.comSendGrid.com offers world class deliverability expertise to make sure your emails get delivered. SendGrid handles ISP monitoring,  DKIM,  domain keys,  SPF,  feedback loops,  link customization and more.

We run all sources of our generated email through the new system.  This includes transactional emails from our Spirit e-commerce accounts,  notifications sent from our Recordit web-form service,  emails generated from your website forms and word-press plug-ins,  and finally,  all of your POP/IMAP account emails.  Additionally,  all of these emails are also run through new spam checks,  which will help keep everyone’s inbox a bit cleaner. So,  a good day for email!

All of these updates happen transparently behind the scenes.  You do not need to update any of your email programs or web forms to take advantage of the new services.  Happily,  it just works.

Enjoy!

Steve

Updated PHP and MySQL services

Just a quick service update to let you know that we have updated our PHP and MySQL servers.

PHP v 5.3.6

PHP version is now 5.3.6

MySQL version is now 5.1.52

Furthermore,  your MySQL databases are now kept on Amazon’s EBS,  which basically means that data durability is better and the chance of a single drive fault causing problems is minimized. We continue to make hot copy backups of each database several times throughout the day (stored on S3) and have added a daily snap copy of our EBS backed storage to our backup processes. So,  in the unlikely event of a hard crash,  boy do we have some backups to choose from. :)

Enjoy!

 

 

Gmail now reads your email to deliver better targeted ads

Google quietly rolled out an update to their Gmail service that now reads the content of your email in order to deliver more targeted ads. Over time, the system will get ‘smarter’ and ads appearing in their service should become more relevant to the user’s interests and location.

The announcement was not made on the company blog, but rather as an update on their Gmail security center; no doubt because of the rising concerns folks have had over data security. Google, to their credit, insists that no humans will read emails and information collected will not be shared with third parties.

See the full Google announcement to learn more.

What are your thoughts?

VRCopilot – A Vertical Response partner tool

VRCopilot, a Vertical Response partner tool.

We’re excited to add a new service to our line up designed for any business, franchise, or agency that needs to manage multiple Vertical Response “sub accounts”.

Do you currently spend several hours or even days creating and pushing email templates or credits to your sub accounts?

Do you need to create emails that are highly customized with a variety of fields unique to your business?

If so, VRCopilot will take your breath away!

With VRCopilot you can:

  • Manage a custom profile for each of your Vertical Response sub accounts that can be merged into your emails.
  • Create emails and preview them merged with your client’s profile information. Feel confident that your emails are delivered as you intended.
  • Push emails to any portion of your client list.
  • Push or pull credits between your master account and any selection of your client list.
  • Create new Vertical Response sub accounts right inside of VRCopilot.
  • Save lots of time managing your client list and know what is going on.

VRCopilot gives you everything you need to get up and running quickly with your Vertical Response Partner account.

The simple setup only takes a couple of minutes and will copy all of your existing sub accounts via Vertical Response’s secure API.

If this sounds like it may be for you, start an account and see how VRCopilot can simplify your life.

Enjoy!
Steve

SEO features for your mobile website

We recently pushed up some features that will help maintain your SEO mojo. Search engines are always introducing new meta tags that help webmasters optimize their web sites’ SEO. One problem facing many webmasters is coping with multiple copies of the same or very similar content across several sites, or on the same site. There are lots of legitimate reasons why you could find the same content on more than one URL, but the effect is the same. You end up with multiple URLs competing for the same ranking. This dilutes your SEO mojo and can diminish your hard earned SEO efforts. Meta tags to the rescue! All of our mobile sites now all include features that inform the search engines how to index your mobile site’s content and not compete with content on your other sites.

Adding a mobile site to complement your existing site(s) makes great sense for a variety of reasons. That said, as with any new site, its impact on your SEO should be considered and planned for. We added two new features to our CafePepper mobile website service to help.

First, we made it a snap to exclude your mobile website from search indexing. This, of course, will prevent any duplicate content issues with the search engines and ensure your existing ranked URLs are not affected.

Second, we added the option to tell the search engines the ‘primary’ location for your content. This is the most flexible approach as it allows your mobile content to be indexed and tells the search engines a little more about your site and its content so that it will not interfere with the ranking of your previously indexed content. For the technically curious, this is done with a ‘canonical’ tag which you can read more about at this google post.

Either way, your SEO mojo is safe with your new mobile website. So, feel free to unleash, get creative and share all your favorite content on your mobile site.

Enjoy!

How to build a mobile website

Want to accomplish something on your lunch break today? You can build your mobile website! It takes less than an hour and can do wonders for growing your business. Not sure how to get started? Here is an overview of how to build your mobile website with CafePepper.  In the time it takes to read this blog post, you could be well underway. Let’s begin! :-)

Getting started on your account is easy with the following steps:

* Sign up for your free 30 day trial
* Select the plan you are interested in
* Receive a confirmation email
* Login to CafePepper

Now, you are ready to get started on building your mobile site!

Begin by entering your “site info”.
This is where all the basic information for your site goes, such as domain name, address and phone number. Additionally, this is the same page where you can enter search engine keywords and get your redirect code to point your full size website to your mobile website.

Next step – site color and style
This is where the fun begins! Here you can use the color picker to customize the colors for your mobile website. You select the colors for your site tabs, site background, content background, and font – in fact, you have full control over all the colors on your mobile site. Yay!

Next step – site links
Here you just click through the checklist of any links you want on your mobile site. Want to add a map or a link to your Facebook page? This is where that magic happens. Just be sure you have completed the address and phone number for your business in the “site info” tab and CafePepper will know what to do from there!

Now, move on to the “pages” tab in CafePepper.

You’ll notice the “Home page” is already listed as a page for your mobile website. Click on “Home” and you’ll see a mobile phone ready for you to “edit”, “view” or see the “details” of your page. There are two things you can do from the “edit” page. You can “add” new content or “edit” existing content. Go ahead and start with “add” content. (click within the sample mobile phone)

Clicking on “add” content will take you to a text editor. Here you can enter your content however you would like it to appear on your page. Once you are done here you’ll create your new content by clicking on “create”. You can continue to “edit” the page or “view” what your content looks like on your phone!

Continue adding content to your page by either clicking “add” for more content or “edit” for existing content. Clicking “add” will return you to the text editor to create new content. Be sure to hit “create” each time you are finished adding new content. If you choose to “edit” content, you will still use the text editor to change your existing content. Edit your content and hit “update”. Keep “add”ing and “edit”ing content until you are satisfied with how your page looks in the “view” of your mobile site.

Add more pages as you go!

You can keep adding pages and content by selecting “add page”. You’ll want to name your page and decide where it should fall in your website. Be sure to click “add” when you are done so CafePepper knows you are ready to add this page to your site! You’ll receive a confirmation message at the top of the “pages” screen to let you know what you accomplished.

Remember, when you are ready to add or change content on a page you click on “add” or “edit” content within the phone image and you are taken directly to the text editor. Just keep the cycle of “edit” and “view” going for each page you add until you are satisfied you’ve said all you want to say on your mobile site!

The details…

As you wrap up, you can use the “details” tab to review the details for each of your mobile site’s pages. This is where you can rename the page, if necessary. This is also where you can add page specific keywords and descriptions so the search engines can best find your mobile website.

Once you are done adding content to your site, be sure to cut and paste the redirect code provided on the “site info” tab into your full screen website so it can detect when your customers are reaching you via a mobile device.

Congratulations! You have a mobile site powered by CafePepper. Your customers can now easily find your business from their mobile device. Be sure to pat yourself on the back… you are well on your way to driving traffic to your business and making your customers happy. YAY!

Mobile website vs. mobile app

“There’s an app for that”… This phrase, thanks to Apple, has become part of our everyday language. But what does it mean? And what is the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website? Here’s a quick explanation:

App versus Website

An app:
is phone specific
is a computer program
does not need Internet access to use

In contrast, a mobile website:
works on all phones
is accessed via the Internet
costs far less to create and is easily updated.

An easy way to think of the difference is a mobile website is just like a “regular” website that you would surf from home or work, but geared for use on a mobile device, like a phone. An app is a computer program created specifically for your business for use on a mobile device.

With CafePepper, you can easily create a mobile website for your business. You can build your site in about an hour, edit your website on your own, and try it out for 30 days for free. Why not give it a spin?

Why build a mobile website?

Since the launch of CafePepper, we’ve had lots of conversations about what mobile websites are and why it is important to have a presence on the mobile web. According to Pew Internet Research, 40% of adults are already searching the Internet for information via their mobile devices. When a site is not created to be viewed on a mobile device, the customer’s experience on the website diminishes greatly.

So, what does this mean for you?

This means that, ready or not, customers are already looking for you on their mobile device, and your website is most likely not providing the same great experience on their phone as it does your computer. Providing a mobile site made for the iPhone and other mobile devices can significantly improve your customers’ experience and drive your sales conversion.

According to BizReport, the time to act on a mobile site is now; “hopefully, marketers will begin to realize that if they want to attract the next generation of users then an ‘Internet presence’ alone isn’t enough. Today, a ‘mobile Internet presence’ is important, too.” (bizreport.com Jan 14, 2010). By ensuring your business has a website that can be viewed successfully on a mobile device, you know you are meeting your customer’s expectations in finding your site user friendly.

CafePepper enables you to create a mobile website quickly and easily, keeping your business ahead of the competition and your customers satisfied. Click here to learn more about how going mobile will grow your business.