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SANTA CLARA, Calif.,/ Dec. 6, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Move, Inc., operator of realtor.com®, a leading online real estate destination, today announced that it has selected Apartment List, the fastest-growing apartment rental marketplace, to exclusively power the apartment community listings on its realtor.com® and Doorsteps.com websites.

 The Apartment List platform will complement realtor.com®‘s rich rental listings content derived from relationships with agents, brokers, landlords and residential property managers nationwide. Apartment List hosts five million visits each month in over 40 cities nationwide.

“At realtor.com, our mission is to make the home journey simple, efficient and enjoyable. As we evaluated potential rental partners, Apartment List stood out among a crowded field of competitors,” said Ryan O’Hara, chief executive officer of Move, Inc. “Apartment List is changing how people search for apartments by offering a highly customized experience that is built on renters’ personal priorities. It’s this type of innovation that aligns with our philosophy and makes Apartment List the right rentals partner for the experience we are striving to deliver across our platforms.”

As housing prices continue to increase, the rental market is often the first place people look for a home. Realtor.com® and Doorsteps.com attract more than 5 million unique visitors each month in search of rental opportunities, resulting in 120 million monthly page views.

“We are thrilled to be selected as realtor.com‘s exclusive partner for apartment community listings, bringing more than 3.5 million rental units to their substantial audience,” said John Kobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apartment List. “Through this partnership, we’re bringing together two leading digital marketplaces to simplify the rental process for millions of families in the U.S. in search of their next home.”

The Apartment List rental inventory will begin appearing on realtor.com® and Doorsteps.com in January 2018.

About Move, Inc. and realtor.com®

Move, Inc., a subsidiary of News Corp [NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV], provides unsurpassed real estate information, tools and professional expertise across a family of websites and mobile experiences for consumers and real estate professionals. The Move network includes realtor.com® as well as Doorsteps®, Moving.com™ and SeniorHousingNet℠, and offers a complete solution of software products and services to help real estate professionals serve their clients and grow their business in a digital world.

Realtor.com® is the trusted resource for home buyers, sellers and dreamers, offering the most comprehensive source of for-sale properties, among competing national sites, and the information, tools and professional expertise to help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. It pioneered the world of digital real estate 20 years ago, and today helps make all things home simple, efficient and enjoyable. Realtor.com® is operated by Move under a perpetual license from the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit realtor.com®.

About Apartment List

Apartment List is the web’s fastest-growing apartment rental marketplace on a mission to make finding a home an easy and delightful process. The company currently has over 3.5 million units on the platform and hosts five million visits each month in over 40 cities nationwide. Since inception, Apartment has raised nearly $60M in funding from investors including Caanan Partners, Matrix Partners and Passport Capital.  Founded by CEO John Kobs and COO Chris Erickson, Apartment List launched its pure play rental marketplace in November 2014. The company has been named one of Forbes’ “Top 25 Most Promising Companies” and one of Inc.’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S.” Learn more at apartmentlist.com.

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SOURCE: Move, Inc. via PRNewswire.com, published on STL.NEWS by St. Louis Media, LLC (PS)

The post Apartment List to Power Apartment Community Listings on Realtor.com® appeared first on STL.News.

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Many college football fans are angry that No. 4 Alabama got into the College Football Playoff despite losing its final regular-season game to Auburn and not even winning its own division. Alabama is the 1st team to reach the College Football Playoff without multiple wins against teams in the top 20 of the final ranking. Ohio State had 3 such wins and USC had 2. In the past two playoffs, the No. 4 seed has been routed in the national semifinals. Here are three other reasons to bet against the Tide to win it all. They’re +180 odds favorites to win the National Championship.

3 Reasons to Bet Against Alabama to Win College Football Playoff

Will Tide Miss Hootie?

There is good injury news for Alabama. Linebackers Mack Wilson, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis have been banged up. They all played in the Iron Bowl, but they weren’t 100 percent. They should be or really close to it by Jan. 1. In addition, star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) and left guard Ross Pierschbacher (ankle) should also have time to heal, as well as any other players who were dealing with nagging injuries.

The bad news is that Alabama will be without starting safety Hootie Jones, who injured his knee against Auburn. Jones was a staple at one of the safety spots in Alabama’s nickel and dime packages. Jones is fourth on the team with 53 tackles and has two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore Deionte Thompson stepped in at safety after Jones got hurt against Auburn and is probably the most likely to start in Jones’ place against Clemson. Thompson has 18 tackles and an interception this season.

3 Reasons to Bet on Alabama to Win the 2018 College Football Playoff

With Jones out, Clemson will look to attack Alabama’s secondary with a passing offense that ranks No. 52 in the nation, averaging 244.1 yards per game through the air. The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, who has 2,678 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions to go with 646 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Alabama has struggled recently against mobile quarterbacks, allowing Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham to rush for 51 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald to rush for 66 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Bryant is a better rusher than both those quarterbacks.

Alabama Passing Game, Third Downs Questionable

While Tide QB Jalen Hurts is a dual-threat, he’s not an accurate passer. Bama ranked No. 9 in the SEC and No. 86 in the nation in passing offense despite a superstar receiver in Calvin Ridley, who did little against Auburn.  Some blame Hurts, other on poor pass protection. Clemson ranks No. 1 in the nation with 44 sacks and features two of college football’s top pass rushers in Clelin Ferrell (8.5 sacks) and Austin Bryant (7.5 sacks).

If the Tide aren’t in third-and-short, they are in trouble. Alabama’s biggest weakness this season comes on third down, where the Crimson Tide ranks last among playoff teams with a 41.5 percent conversion rate. Alabama’s a little bit better at stopping third downs, ranking No. 21 in the nation allowing opponents to convert on 32.95 percent of their attempts.

Are the Crimson Tide a safe bet to win the 2018 National Championship?

How Has the Team Done So Far This Season?

Against Mississippi State, Alabama converted on just 3 of 9 third-down attempts while allowing the Bulldogs to go 8 of 15. The loss to Auburn was the same story as Alabama went 3 of 11 while allowing the Tigers to convert 9 of 18 third-down tries. Third downs were even a problem during last year’s national championship game as Alabama went 2 of 15 while allowing Clemson to go 7 of 18.

Clemson comes into the game ranked No. 10 in the nation converting on 46.73 percent of its third-down attempts. The Tigers are even better at stopping third downs, coming in at No. 5 in the nation holding opponents to a 27.8 percent success rate.

Offensive Line Worries

Alabama’s offensive line is one of three finalists for the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the top offensive line in the country. The other finalists are Auburn and Notre Dame. It’s the third straight year Alabama has been at least a finalist for the award, which has been around since 2015. The Tide won it in 2015. Iowa won last season.

Alabama’s offensive line has a “quality rush” on 56.8 percent of its runs (2nd in FBS). Quality rush measures how often a called run play yields an ideal result for the play caller (e.g. 5+ yds on a 1st/10 call, 4+ yards on 2nd/8, etc.). The Tide are also averaging 4.17 yards before contact (12th in FBS, 1st in SEC).

Senior center Bradley Bozeman has been named a finalist for the 2017 Dave Rimington Trophy. Bozeman is one of three centers around the country named to the finalist list. The Rimington Trophy has been presented annually since 2000 to the top center in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Barrett Jones (2012) and Ryan Kelly (2015) are Alabama’s previous Rimington honorees.

Bozeman has graded out at an average of 85.6 percent as a senior with 16 knockdown blocks and just seven missed assignments in 724 snaps (99.0 percent success rate). He has allowed just two sacks and four pressures all season and has blocked for six 100-yard rushing games this year, giving him 17 in his 28 career starts at center.

Yet that O-Line has had some issues at times. They haven’t been as in sync as they’ve been in the past and they’re not maulers. LSU, for example, sacked Hurts four times. Routinely loading the line of scrimmage with between six to eight players at once, LSU did its best to negate Alabama’s ground attack on early downs, which would then create significant down-and-distance situations, including 11 third-and-8 or greater scenarios, of which the Tide converted just two.

In the semifinal matchup, Clemson’s defensive line has a ferocious foursome of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. Every member of Clemson’s front four will play in the NFL and have a chance to become a first-round draft selection. Clemson has held opposing offenses to just 12.8 points per game, the second best in the country.

The post 3 Reasons to Bet Against Alabama to Win College Football Playoff appeared first on Mybookie Sportsbook.

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This is me plotting the coup d’Etat of the century.  stillhere

No, not really. Basically, I was just chilling on my terrace (in case this wasn’t made obvious based on my Homebase throne).

I was indeed minding my own business, checking the lighting on this terrace [and plotting my next blog posts], when the neanderthals from downstairs reared their prehistoric behinds from their ground floor lair. They didn’t just rear their heads, they rolled their necks faster than Gollum at the sight of its precious.

This evening’s griefs?

Apparently,  I should think about learning levitation skills, and cannot be walking on my own terrace at 9PM, because it is 9PM and we cannot be walking at 9PM. Upon my response that I have two feet and not two wings (not yet), the City Cromagnons countered that it is 9PM and we SIMPLY CANNOT WALK AT 9PM!!!

Answer:

“I’m walking on sunshine (Wo-oh!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wo-oh!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wo-oh!)
And don’t it feel good!!”

No, real answer:

UUUGH! Geddafookattaherewithdatboolsheet!

First of all, the only thing that is going to physically levitate tonight is my digitus medius.

Approved by Jesus Christus.

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Secondly, I have decided that I will indeed learn levitation – from the best “levitate-my-foot-in your-face” master : Dhalsim from Street Fighter.

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Thirdly, (fuck it, I am not even going to attempt writing in Her Majesty’s lingo at that time of the night), my so far polite responses [“Soz I don’t believe I can fly”], will now turn into a stream of verbal pyromania more active than mount Vesuvius.

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Try me.

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Fourthly, (yeah I know), I would actually like to thank these cranky moffos, for they have motivated me to also take up yoga, zumba and blahblahblah dancing [Customary French Dance: Talk on the phone and pace to the beat of the conversation whilst waving hands at the mention of ‘BlahBlahBlah’].

ALL THIS ON MY GODDAMN TERRACE!

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On this note, I shall be back tomorrow, resuming online shenanigans 🙂

Good night !

Me, leaving to my bedroom ↓

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Dreamforce is by far the largest event of the year here at G2 Crowd. I spend nearly six months, half my budget and many sleepless nights ensuring that we get the most out of our investment and have a more successful Dreamforce than the year before.

I learn new lessons every year that have helped me stay sane and triple the size of our presence year over year. Now that I have had a couple of weeks to recover, I’d like to share some tips for those that are planning on sponsoring or even attending the event.


My best tips for a successful Dreamforce

  • Arrive early. Every year vendors show up on the last day of setup to begin testing the internet and TV screens, and make sure that they have room for all of their swag. Don’t be the guy that is asking Freeman or ShowNets to fix everything an hour before expo opens. Typically, I show up three days before to meet the expo hall staff, get to know them better and ask them to help me get everything set up correctly. This has helped me countless times when I’ve had to depend on them in an emergency.
  • Book your hotel and register your team MONTHS out. Hotels book up quickly and can easily cost upwards of $800 per night if you wait until the month before to get a reservation. Those are some details you don’t want to worry about when you’re heading toward the finish line.
  • Choose your team carefully. You’ll want to bring the entire company, but airfare and hotel costs can add up quickly. Focus on bringing charismatic people who will help you maximize your investment in the conference. Consider hiring temps to help bring people into the booth so that your A-team can concentrate on demos, pitches and more.
  • Think beyond your booth. There are a ton of off-site events happening in the city at the same time as the conference. Register for networking parties and dinners, and show up — more business can get done after hours than on the show floor. We have seen a lot of success in hosting dinners and happy hours during Dreamforce.
  • It’s all about the swag. There are a lot of booths, a lot of noise and a ton of people on the expo floor. Think outside the box and spend that extra cash to get something flashy that will make you stand out and help spread your branding. Our crowd favorite this year: light-up bouncy balls.
  • Consider running a contest or promotion beyond just a giveaway.  Visitors can earn bonus items by sharing about you on social media or getting spotted with your swag, and they’ll help spread your message and brand throughout the event venues.
  • The last word of advice I can give to anyone that is running the show: Get some comfortable shoes. Every year, I am on my feet for seven days straight and my tennies (and gel insoles) have saved my legs, feet and lower back.

Now that Dreamforce is over, it’s time to start planning for next year! I hope to see everyone out at Dreamforce 2018, September 25–28. Looks like I’m already behind on planning …

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The post Dreamforce Tips from an Exhausted Event Planner appeared first on G2 Crowd.

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One big stat line to know as you enter 2018: 100 percent of employees like to get paid.

Now we don’t have the source data to prove that, just so you know. But it’s a number with which few would argue. Even in the noblest, most spiritually enriching professions, payday is a joy and a relief. It means you won’t get kicked out of your apartment this month, and that you’re (most likely) not working for a con artist. For millions more it means “omg brunch this wknd?” which is a very special feeling, indeed.

As a small business, staying on top of your team’s payroll is especially crucial in building trust and keeping your talented group of rockstars from jumping ship or losing morale. One delayed deposit or inaccurate amount could be a serious boo-boo in today’s climate and send certain individuals back on the job hunt.

There are dozens of payroll software applications to help your in-house accounting team get the moolah in the right hands at the right times. But there’s a learning curve, margin of error and labor demand involved with implementing software for such a task that you might not be willing or able to deal with at this stage.

This is where payroll services for small business come in.

Payroll services deliver the pizza when you don’t have the ingredients or the patience to make your own. You may pay a few bucks more for the tip — staying with pizza analogy for a minute — but without the headache of preparation or cleanup. They’ve also made pizza a few thousand times more than you, at least, so it’s not quite the gamble in quality inherent with your startup pizza skills.

In other words, outsourcing payroll to a trained team of professionals will ensure that your staff gets paid. Then everyone can order their own pizza.

More than 80 payroll service providers are currently listed on G2 Crowd, and knowing where to start can be an intimidating endeavor that keeps some businesses from choosing one at all. We’ve taken the liberty of selecting a few of the more popular agencies to present as starting points. If it seems payroll outsourcing is in your small business’s future, check out these payroll companies and then compare them to the many other great providers listed in our payroll services category, such as ADP payroll services and Execupay.


Payroll Services for Small Business

Insperity

Insperity payroll services for small business

Founded over 30 years ago, Insperity (formerly Administaff) is a full-service HR provider trusted by more than 100,000 organizations both big and small. Their signature offering, Workforce Optimization®, runs the gamut of human resources needs including benefits administration and employee training as a complete package. But you can order their solutions “by the slice,” as it were, and modify your services through a single centralized online hub.

In addition to services, Insperity produces software tools to handle many common business tasks, such as their expense management platform ExpensAble. The company takes particular pride in their consulting and outsourcing abilities, though, boasting stats on their website such as an average 12-plus years of experience among their hundreds of service team members. Currently sitting with 4.5 stars from G2 Crowd reviews, Insperity services such as payroll are the real deal. If you don’t believe the reviews, you may believe the $3 billion the company earned in 2016 alone.

Part of their “stress-free payroll” pitch is that “Insperity takes care of processing your payroll information, filing related taxes, verifying employment eligibility and more.” What’s more, the company offers a free e-book on HR outsourcing with basic information about professional employer organizations (PEOs), an industry term for organizations like Insperity that assist others with their HR workloads. Even if you decide on another provider to do your payroll, there’s no harm in digesting some of the wisdom the publicly-traded company has picked up over 30 years in the industry.

You can fill out a sales inquiry directly on the Insperity website, or call a representative at 866-583-8748.

What clients are saying:

“I’m not involved with the finances, so I can’t say whether Insperity’s costs are comparable with competitors, but I can tell you that the service and professionalism are amazing. They are the only payroll and benefits administrators that I’ve worked with that know how to consistently get things right. Let’s just say that Insperity never associated my FSA funds to someone else’s Dependent Care account like one of their competitors did.” — Erin O. in an Insperity review from September 7, 2017.


Intuit Payroll Services

Intuit payroll services for small business

Intuit is synonymous with large sheets of numbers as the behemoth behind QuickBooks, the accounting software against which others have been measured for years and years. Your dad uses QuickBooks. So maybe without knowing it, Intuit is your dad’s favorite provider of payroll solutions.

The Mountain View-based company offers both well-received payroll software and payroll services, as well as Assisted Payroll for QuickBooks Desktop. As a full service payroll solution, Intuit Payroll Services advertises a litany of features on their website, with workers’ compensation and employee time tracking assistance in addition to every facet of payroll processing. They’ll even send you up-to-date labor law posters to display in your workplace — helping you stay compliant and your employees informed. (It’s also the law to display these, so they’re really doing you a solid.)

As worded on Intuit payroll services page: “Just enter hours, we run payroll for you.” Currently with 4.3 out of 5 stars on G2 Crowd, Intuit’s payroll services are clearly a distillation of the untold lessons learned from millions of shipped software units and satisfied customers. It’s a great bet for small businesses looking for a name brand they know and trust to get the job done right.

Intuit offers a 30-day free trial of its full service payroll solution, and you can call the company’s sales team at 800-445-1890 for information on getting started.

What clients are saying:

“They are a little more expensive than other payroll services, but they are worth it.” — G2 Crowd user in an Intuit Payroll Services review from April 26, 2017.


FrankCrum

FrankCrum payroll services for small business

Like Insperity, FrankCrum goes out of its way to explain the wonders of PEO — in the form of a cute animated video, rather than an e-book — and how one could benefit your business. These Florida-based HR gurus have been around a smidge longer than even the tricenarian Insperity, entering its 38th year of operation in 2018. Not too shabby.

A shiny blue button on the FrankCrum website’s payroll and tax solutions page guides you to an obligation-free rate quote on a services package. Clients receive access to the MyFrankCrum human resource information system (HRIS) where they can easily access and manage payroll information to ensure employee information is always current and each dollar and cent is accounted for, regardless of company size.

You can hire FrankCrum for just about any HR demand, including risk management and coverage for workers’ comp. Payroll is front and center in the company’s offerings, advertised as a way to “free you from daunting labor, costly and embarrassing errors, tax risks, and compliance challenges” as well as “have more time to focus on what will make your company more profitable and productive.” The homepage posits that small businesses waste 25 percent of their time on paper, on average. Giving you a handful of this time back is a promise that FrankCrum stakes its reputation on.

The FrankBlog is a valuable resource for learning more about payroll and other common human resources obstacles, with insider tips from some of the country’s true seasoned vets. To get in touch directly with the FrankCrum team about your own payroll challenges, you can call 800-277-1620.


Paychex Services

Paychex payroll services for small business

When it comes to straight-up, no-nonsense payroll software, SurePayroll by Paychex is at the head of its class. Now in business for more than 45 years, Paychex does paychecks for 600,000 clients through its technology and outsourced payroll offerings. And as one the world’s most ethical companies, according to Ethisphere.com, small businesses who invest in the company can bank on their team’s financial information being safe and contracts being shipshape.

Small business payroll services from Paychex help “make payroll for small business effortless — just as it should be.” Clients can input information through a web interface or mobile app, or put data collection in the hands of the Paychex team. Employees are also given access to the platform for downloading paystubs and updating W-2 forms, among other things. As a small business owner, you can utilize these services to pay different groups of hires, from salaried to contract. You can also leverage the payroll data into 160-plus types of reports and analytics.

Paychex Flex, the all-in-one digital hub for managing services accounts, can be expanded to assist with other HR duties such as recruiting and time/attendance. Dedicated specialists are available as well as 24/7 support in the U.S., and systems are updated behind the scenes to ensure regulatory compliance to your region, nation and industry.

You can request a free quote for payroll services through the company’s website or by calling 855-263-1021. Take a peek at the many HR solutions from Paychex by exploring the Paychex website or its listings on G2 Crowd.

What clients are saying:

“What I liked best was the Paychex Flex app both on the admin and employee side. It was a friendly user interface that allows you to see the dashboard at a glance. On the admin side it was easy to see all the employments and do automatic payments that were already synced to the payclock. On the user employee side I can see all my paystubs, vacation and sick time, and all my retirement accounts. It was easy to change my portfolio to my 401k and my contributions.” — G2 Crowd user in a Paychex Services review from November 16, 2017.


A well-oiled payroll is the gatekeeper between your smiling staff and their hard-earned bucks (dollars, rupees, pesos, et al.). If you don’t trust yourself to get it right, can’t decide on software to use, or simply don’t want the headache of crunching digits and filing taxes for the time being, know there are some amazing companies out there eager to help.

Payroll outsourcing with a qualified PEO can save you an ocean of time in which your management and HR teams can splash around, zone in and tackle the long list of other items on their plate. You can learn about these featured payroll services providers and other HR services agencies, and help your fellow small business owners by leaving honest reviews about your experiences. When choosing payroll solutions, it pays to know what’s worked and what hasn’t among your peers. So if reviews help you make the right payroll decision, pay it forward with a review of your own. (I’m on a roll! Like payroll? Okay, I’ll stop.)

Use payroll services?

Write a review of a business software tool you use to share your expertise and help potential software buyers.

The post 4 Payroll Services for Small Business appeared first on G2 Crowd.

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Hehehe did you think that just because I had a ‘wah wah‘ moment, I’d disappear off the grid? No, ma’am ! A Goth with a shoe addiction and not many fucks to give still has a mission to do !

After wah wah’ing I am always down for some woo-woo’ing.

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This brand is not alternative, but I thought i’d share a couple of bargains I have made on the Deichmann website – less than £40 for two pair of boots, postage included!

I love to mix high street and alternative brands anyway, and this is a good example of how you can do it, with some tips.

Tip #1: Sweet Subscribe O’ Miiiiine

Make sure you register for new joiner newsletters to get discounts (you can always unsubscribe and sashay away afterwards). I registered with Deichmann ages ago, and I had a £5 discount off voucher sitting in my inbox. This is still valid so make sure you sign up!

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Tip #2 : Shoo Shoo The Bad Shoes

Be strategic in your purchasing process. I am a shortass with a love for heights – but with the pain threshold of a toddler (wah!). I have realised the hard way that whilst I’d love to parade around in platforms all day, I cannot. On top of that, even if I wanted to, I’d probably get the Health & Safety [and Business Exorcists] brigade up in my derriere at work if I were to attend a Business Analysis meeting with some Demonia shoes.

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So basically, I now make sure that I get shoes I can actually wear for work and leisure.  For longer than 5 minutes. Because trust me, when I was younger I’d be stacking up so many cool looking shoes – keyword stacking –  only to wear them once, cry into an ice bucket and restack them straight back into the shoe cupboard.

…Never to be worn again by me – but by the fancy ghost of my feet, and probably the electrician who was fixing shit in my flat when I wasn’t in.

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So what did I get in Deichmann?

Badass Chunky Heels / Platform Shoes!9f539bc300db4227aeb033f255b2ef5fThese shoes are SO COMFORTABLE ! And cost me only £17.49, which is an absolute bargain, considering that a lot of alternative shoe brands sell similar for the £80 mark.

Excuse my arse:

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Flat Boots For My Fat Calves!d1cd70b21e674766b3a52e725766cfd3

On the rare days when I embrace my hobbit status, I need the relevant footwear to support me. And I found it for £24.99. These boots aren’t particularly fancy but I like the elasticated bit around the calf and they are perfect for dragging myself out to work and my 2 hour commute. I am sparing another picture of my thighs but they look good and are comfy!

Basically, this weekend I received a lot of the aftermath of my mad shopping spree of the week. A lot of bargains are still to be had, so hopefully will be writing up some of that over the weekend.

Happy Shopping and Don’t Forget to WOO !!!

xxx

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So … you know how I said last week that “All Hope Is Not Gone”?

Ta-Dah! Surrrrrprise!

Today we are hitting the yin to the yang, the ping to the pong, and the AC to the DC‘sed [deceased – geddit?].

I present to you : Depressionista™, or a blog post about my depression, this fat fucker who sits on my shoulders and sometimes puts on so much weight, it starts crushing me.

But before I proceed any further, I feel like I should explain the accompanying pictures.

So basically, when Corey Taylor from Slipknot feels achey and wants to stop the ache, he has a tendency to push his fingers into his eyes. I am not making it up – it is in his song .

I, instead, put my boots on and cross my legs. It doesn’t stop the ache, but makes it somehow more blog-friendly. Listen, it was that or a picture of me looking like a Goth Donald Trump, pouting angrily all the way to the Great Wall of Mexico.

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Anyway, let’s start. And let me first make things clear.

Depression is not having a bad day. Depression is not getting into a hump because some idiot in the train tainted your new Dolce & Banana shoes with a Crappacino.

Depression is having your whole reality, your entire physical being and emotional state stained with the most ugly, painful and disgusting paint. It is sticky, heavy, dirty and shows you everything in a different shade : the people around you, your surroundings, and most of all, yourself. Color me bad indeed.

Depression is not only a constant feeling of hopelessness; it is a virtual hammer of pain and misery so strong that you end up feeling like you are forever suffocating and drowning within yourself. The inner drowning gets so powerful that you can only see a way out : getting out of that diseased self. YOUR self.

Depression is hell personified. If it had a face, it would look like the bastard child of Donald Trump & Kim Jong Il – constantly talking shit and threatening to kill you. Irritating the fuck out of your mind and exhorting you to push that red button of self-destruction, day in, day out , whether you are buying a coffee or spilling your Crappacino on the Dolce & Banana shoes of the dickhead in front of you.

And you know what the worst is? The worst is when you give into these thoughts. Paradoxically, giving into these evil thoughts gives instant relief. And that my friends, is the true evilness of depression. Once you accept that the only way to end the pain is to end your tenure on Earth, this motherfucking demon seems to take over your brain and issue endorphins and a feeling of peace which is incredibly strong. IT IS AWFUL!

Why do you think that most people who take themselves out are usually reported to be ‘fine’ before they give in? Because they have come to the conclusion which at that time seemed the only way out.  And sadly that fatal decision is the only thing that seemed to give them peace at that moment in time. Please understand that people who suffer from depression are going through an immense inner turmoil and the decision is not taken lightly. But the decision taken is taken under the influence of a false sense of peace.

The thing is, depression can rear its ugly head (see above) at any time. Last weekend, I had a blast : I went out to a gig and met the motherfucking drummer from Iron Maiden, Nicko McBrain !

How cool?! and here’s the proof by the way.

nicko mcbrain - ironmaiden2017

But guess what, only three days later, and I am having an inner philosophical meltdown and I am unable to sleep, pestered with thoughts about : backstabbing fake friends; the fickle nature of relationships, the stupidity which is littered in offices, the fact that we are all prisoners in this open prison and that I am a corporate slave, the purpose of my life and why do I bother waking up in the morning if it is just to be a fucking slave to the system?!?

Oh yeah, by the way when I have an episode, I may do the pondering clutching my trusted old friend Skully, and stare blankly at a wall waiting for a response.

These days, I get a click from my Canon 6D.


 

Anyway, this is certainly a post with a different tone to my others, but I don’t want to be one of these bloggers who only post about the unicorns they had lunch with, and the rainbows they farted afterwards. As I mentioned before, I hate fakeness, fakery and fuckery.

Depression is real and if you want to talk … There is a friendly ear (or two) here. [Skully listens too]

PS:  My temporary misery relief has come today in Royal Mail packages, I got my new shizzle from Killstar delivered ! Blog post once I manage to put Kim Jong Trump away 😉

xxx

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This holiday season, G2 Crowd is especially thankful to call Chicago our home. Between the bustling tech scene and the midwestern work ethic, we can’t imagine a better place to have grown and evolved over the past five years.

Recently, G2 Crowd has had even more reasons than usual to celebrate being in the Windy City. This year, we are thrilled to announce that we have been named a Chicago Inno 50 on Fire winner, and featured as a Top Small-Business Workplace on Chicago Tribune’s 2017 Top Workplaces.

To the Chicago community: We could not have done this without you. Whether we were exploring the city’s coworking spaces or graciously borrowing TechNexus’ meeting space when we outgrew our own, the support we feel from the Chicago tech community and beyond is amazing. And of course, we have to congratulate our fellow 50 on Fire winners: Shipbob, SMS Assist, Truss, Cleverbridge, Envoy, Snapsheet, Jellyvision, Alexine Mudwar from Yello, and Nick Kokonas from Tock.

Chicago has done so much for us, and we would like to continue giving back to our beloved home. That is why we are continuing our initiative through G2 Gives in support of local education. Chicago Tech Academy, known as ChiTech, is a local public high school that focuses on STEM education. The students that attend ChiTech are some of our city’s future tech leaders.

Every year, Chicago Tech Academy needs to raise a significant amount to support their educational programs and give their students the education they desire. To support the Chicago community and make an impact for the future tech leaders of Chicago, G2 Gives aims to help ChiTech to absolve some of their budget shortcomings. For every verified software or service review written through G2 Gives, G2 Crowd will donate $10 to Chicago Tech Academy. Ten minutes of your time, and your opinion, can make a difference for a ChiTech student.

We want to give back to the Chicago community that has given us so much. Do you have 10 minutes to write a review for Chicago Tech Academy?

Help Support Chicago Tech Academy

The post Proud to Call Chicago Home appeared first on G2 Crowd.

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Note: we’ve just updated this post to take into account new features and pricing changes as of 18/12/2017.

As a blogger, it’s all-too-easy to become side-tracked with the latest marketing trends.

SEO.

Paid advertising.

Blogger outreach.

Influencer marketing.

Social media marketing.

You name it. You’ve been sucked in.

And while there is nothing wrong with any of those marketing channels, haven’t you forgot something?

Email marketing.

Have you forgotten how powerful that is?

You’re not alone.

Early in his blogging career, Adam focused on other strategies before realization struck:

The truth is that email is far more effective at reaching your raving fans than any other tool.

When you communicate directly with your fans via email, you can be sure that your message will reach them.

No more wondering if they spotted your latest blog post in Google. Or crossing your fingers that the Facebook algorithm has worked in your favor this time.

When you use email, you control the dialogue.

And because email marketing is so cost-effective, you also control your budget too.

According to the Direct Marketing Association:

ROI for email campaigns rose 53% to an average of £38 for every £1 spent in 2014.

So, if you’ve been neglecting your email marketing efforts, now is the time to get back on track.

We’ve taken a look at three of the best email marketing tools on the market and pinpointed their key differences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re evaluating your current solution, this detailed comparison will help make an informed decision.

AWeber

AWeber was founded by Tom Kulzer in 1998 with a goal to make email marketing simpler and more profitable for small businesses. Since then it has grown to be one of the most popular email marketing services used by over 120,000 small businesses, bloggers and entrepreneurs around the globe.

What we love about AWeber

Signing up

Signing up to AWeber is straightforward.

Click the big green button to start your 30-day free trial. You’ll have to provide some basic details, like your name and address. Plus you’ll also have to enter your credit card details. AWeber prefers to have your credit card information so that your account runs smoothly after your free trial is over.

Getting started

Once you’ve completed the formalities you’re ready to start.

aweber-welcome-video

I love this welcome video. If you’re new to email marketing it explains the first few steps required to get you started:

  • Account setup
  • Create your first list
  • Customize your confirmation email

Once you click the ‘Let’s Get Started’ button, you complete the three steps, ready to start.

User interface

The AWeber user interface is clean and pleasing to the eye. There is a logical menu, and there is always help on hand.

I’ve broken the home screen into four sections so you can see what I mean.

The first section highlights the main components of the system: Messages, Lists, and Subscribers. The information on this screen gives you an overview of your account across these areas. And it has contrasting green buttons so you can take action.

aweber-home-1

The second section highlights three different types of help that are available: Webinar, Video and Online Guide. This shows AWeber catering to how different people prefer to learn.

aweber-home-2

The third section gives you a quick overview of your subscriber stats. Each List displays its own stats, so be sure to choose the correct List at the top of the page. You also get a glance of upcoming Broadcasts (the name AWeber use for the different types of email message you send to your subscribers).

aweber-home-3

And finally, the fourth section provides information on any recently sent broadcasts plus the latest stats on your selected List (top of the page).

aweber-home-4

Message types

Messages in AWeber used to be called Broadcasts. Now they use the term Broadcasts for one type of message.

From the main Messages tab in the top menu you can access each of the different types of message.

Drafts

The Drafts page is like a holding page where you can store your draft messages, plus it also shows your active campaign messages.

aweber-draft-messages

I love the ‘Copy to List’ feature. If you happen to have created a message under the wrong list, you can copy it to the correct one. Believe me; this is an easy mistake, and this is a quick solution!

What I also like is the fact that the system saves your messages to this draft status. From here you can send a test, schedule a broadcast or add to your follow up series.

Legacy Follow Up Series

Follow Ups are also known as Autoresponders. For most people, they are a fundamental part of email marketing automation.

For example, you can use these to start a welcome series of emails to new subscribers, or to deliver a subscriber-only email course like the Snackable Writing Course from Henneke.

aweber-snackable-course

Campaigns

Campaigns is a new email automation feature in AWeber that allows you to create and manage multiple follow-up series all within the same list.

You can build action-based automation flows using the drag-and-drop campaign editor:

AWeber Automations

There are three actions to choose from:

  • Send a Message (email)
  • Wait (X number of days)
  • Apply Tag (or remove a tag)

Note: Unlike GetResponse, there is no visual workflow builder.

Click automations

Tags are used elsewhere in AWeber’s marketing automation. Click automations let you segment your list and send more relevant emails to your subscribers based on the links they click. In short, you let subscribers self-select their next step.

For example, Henneke could offer two options at the end of her email course:

  • Learn more about copywriting
  • Learn more about blog writing

Whichever option a subscriber chooses, AWeber tags them accordingly, and they receive the relevant information for a new campaign.

Broadcasts

Broadcasts are for one-off messages. For example, you can send a message to let subscribers know that your latest blog post is live or to notify them of a special event like a webinar or a sale.

Blog Broadcasts

Blog Broadcasts allow AWeber to deliver your whole blog post via email to your subscribers using the RSS feed. I’ve never been a fan of this method, but it’s available if you want it.

Pro Tip: Here’s an interesting article by Michael Hyatt on why he switched from this approach to a simple text and link strategy.

Creating messages

You have three methods to create whichever type of message you decide to send.

  • Drag and drop email builder – Use templates to create custom emails
  • Plain text message – Create a text-only message
  • HTML editor – Use WYSIWYG or edit the raw HTML

There are pros and cons to each method, and each one is easy to use.

1) Drag and drop email builder

The Drag and Drop Builder opens up endless design possibilities. You can choose from over 700 customizable, mobile responsive drag-and-drop email templates for broadcasts and follow ups. You also have the option to start with a blank canvas and design your own template.

2) Plain text message

If you’re struggling to decide which template to use then consider this:

You don’t need a template.

When you think about it, your friends don’t use a flashy email template when they email you, do they? Often a plain text email with a link to your post or page is more than adequate.

Pro Tip: Plain text emails have a higher open rate than those with images or other HTML styling [source].

You can’t embed links in the Plain Text Message, but you can add the URL in full.

aweber-plain-text-example

3) HTML editor

The WYSIWYG editor is a middle-ground between the previous two options. (Switching to HTML source is for serious coders only!) It’s not dissimilar to using a word processor:

aweber-html-editor

And now you can embed the link in your message:

aweber-html-example

Overall, I think AWeber have done a great job in structuring the message creation process. I like the fact that whatever type of message you create you have the same options, and that all your messages are stored in the Drafts holding page until you commit to sending to them.

List management

You can have as many lists as you like in your AWeber account. And each list has its own dedicated Follow Up series.

List options

The basic list options are all easy to follow and setup:

aweber-list-options

General information is pulled in from your account details and then you have the option to personalize it for each list as required.

AWeber uses a default option of Confirmed Opt-in, but you can switch this off per list as needed if you prefer.

List automation

If you have multiple lists, you can create an automation rule to automatically subscribe or unsubscribe someone from one list when they subscribe or unsubscribe to another list.

For example, if you had one list for prospects and one list for customers, then an automation rule could unsubscribe customers from your prospect list when they purchase something from you.

This is a useful way of managing your subscriber numbers.

Subscribers

The Subscribers menu lets you manage current subscribers and add new subscribers.

Manage subscribers

AWeber has some predefined filters and other field selections to manage specific users. Here is a quick snapshot to give you an idea:

aweber-subscriber-filter

So, for example, you could select subscribers whose email address contains gmail, and at the same time save it as segment if you wish.

aweber-subscriber-selection

Adding subscribers

You can add subscribers to your lists either through a website opt-in form or manually. If you’re moving from one service provider to another, then there are tools available to export and import the lists. Alternatively, if you just need to add the odd subscriber manually, then there is also a facility for that too.

What we don’t love about AWeber

Sending messages

Once you’ve created your messages they sit in the Drafts page waiting for you to decide when and how to send them.

You can:

  • Send a test email
  • Schedule a broadcast
  • Add to follow up series

Schedule a broadcast

When you select this option you see a selection box:

aweber-broadcast-settings

Each of the three sections is self- explanatory but somewhat limited. Look at these examples:

  • Who should receive this message?

This option is crucial, but AWeber doesn’t give it enough attention. This is the time when you can perform some A/B Split Testing, for example, on two different headlines.

But there is no mention of it. No prompts on the screen.

aweber-message-testing

In fact, you have to go searching in the online help section if you want to discover more about A/B split testing in AWeber.

The testing could be automated so that you could simply split your list in half and send the same message but with different headlines.

Or, you could do some preparation before this stage in managing your subscribers to create segments, and send different messages to each segment.

  • When should this message be sent?

This option only offers you to select one time-zone.

aweber-message-time

So, for example, if you choose to send your message at 10 am British time then a subscriber based in San Francisco would receive the message at 2 am. This could have an impact on the open-rate of your messages if you knew that the best time to send messages was at 10 am local time.

You could probably create segments of your list based on timezone or country to get around this problem, but you would have to copy the message multiple times for each segment you wanted to send it to. This would involve some manual work on your part each time you sent a message, so I don’t think this is good.

It’s fair to say that AWeber has not excelled in the Sending Messages process.

Subscriber counts

You need to be careful when managing the status of your subscribers because even though some might not be active, they are still counted towards your overall subscriber count, and thus the cost of your AWeber account.

  • Subscribers on more than one list count each time
  • Subscribers on deactivated lists will still count towards your subscriber total
  • Unsubscribed addresses count toward your total number of subscribers

Pricing

When you start with AWeber, your first month is free.

Pricing is based on the number of subscribers, hence my point above about managing your total subscriber count.

AWeber Price Structure

Try AWeber

>> Check our price comparison section at the end of this article to see how AWeber stacks up against GetResponse and MailChimp.

GetResponse

Simon Grabowski founded GetResponse in 1998. It now serves more than 350,000 customers in 182 countries and is available in 21 different languages. They market themselves as the world’s easiest email marketing platform.

What we love about GetResponse

Signing up

Signing up to GetResponse is as simple as AWeber. The main difference is that GetResponse doesn’t take your credit card details up front. They contact you towards the end of your 30-day free trial to arrange payments.

Message types

GetResponse offers three types of messages:

  • Newsletters – For sending updates to your subscribers
  • Autoresponders – For sending predetermined messages, based on time or actions
  • RSS to Email – For sending your entire blog post via email

Creating messages

When you want to create a Newsletter you have a couple of options:

  • Drag and Drop Email Editor
  • HTML Source Editor

getresponse-newsletter

Both of these are useful and easy to use.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have selected your correct campaign before creating a newsletter. I’ve been caught out with this a couple of times.

Whichever option you choose there is a standard screen that appears first where you write your email subject line and choose your email address.

And then below that are some optional distribution settings:

  • Analyze: Click-through, Google Analytics, A/B Testing
  • Share: Twitter and Facebook

getresponse-distribution-settings

We’ll come back to the A/B Testing shortly…

1) Drag and Drop Email Editor

Like AWeber, there are over 600 pre-designed templates that you can choose from when you create a newsletter. The templates are arranged via industry to help your selection:

getresponse-templates

If you don’t see anything you like, you can order a template from the GetResponse designers.

Alternatively, you can start from scratch to build and save your unique template. There are many blank templates to work with:

getresponse-scratch-templates

Starting from scratch can be a good idea. You get to choose exactly how much design goes into it. It is very easy to drag and drop the different elements into your message:

getresponse-template-blocks

GetResponse also has a ‘mobile screen view’ so you can see how your design will appear on a smaller screen:

getresponse-mobile

2) HTML Source Editor

The HTML Source Editor lets you switch between HTML Source and WYSIWYG. Unless you really want to code a HTML message, then stick with the latter.

The WYSIWYG Editor is similar to the one we saw in AWeber. Its ‘word processor like’ functions make it easy to format your message in no time.

getresponse-wysiwyg

When you’ve finished creating your newsletter, you can either save it as a draft or move to the next stage.

Sending messages

Remember the A/B Test option from before?

This is where you get to configure your test.

You can choose one A/B test type from:

  • Subject Line – Choose up to 5 subject lines you would like to test
  • From Field – Choose up to 5 from fields you would like to test
  • Content – Choose up to 5 messages you would like to test
  • Delivery Time – Choose up to 5 days of the week or 5 times of the day you would like to test

getresponse-split-test-type

Once you’ve chosen the test type, you can select the conditions of the test.

The split test followed by winning message is an approach that I really like. But make sure you select the ‘send best message automatically’ button unless you’re monitoring this.

getresponse-split-test-condition

Split Testing is a powerful option to include and GetResponse have made it easy to configure and execute.

The final step before clicking send is to decide if you want to send your message immediately or take advantage of the super-scheduling options.

GetResponse has a couple of scheduling features:

  • Perfect Timing – Delivers your message when your recipient is most likely to open and click, based on GetResponse data
  • Time Travel – Delivers your message at the recipient’s local time; e.g. everyone receives it at 10 am local time

getresponse-scheduling

The scheduling options are excellent and can also be leveraged in the Autoresponder messages too.

Autoresponders

GetResponse has a first-rate Autoresponder.

To start with it has some triggers that you can choose from. The Time-based trigger is the most popular option. But you can use others to send messages at the precise moment someone clicks a link or opens a message.

getresponse-autoresponder-1

Here is what you will see for the time-based trigger:

getresponse-autoresponder-2

You can choose a message from your drafts, or you can create a new message. Either way, you follow the same method as the previous section including options like an A/B Test and Time Travel if you wish.

Once you’ve built up your series of autoresponder messages, GetResponse presents you with a calendar overview. Here you can see and drag messages around if you want to adjust your schedule:

getresponse-autoresponder-3

Marketing Automation

A recent addition to GetResponse is their marketing automation module.

Marketing Automation uses intuitive if-then-logic:

getresponse-automation-1

The tool searches your marketing list to find the condition you specify and take a particular action. Plus you can define even greater precision using a tool called filters.

This visual platform can build workflows by arranging ready-to-use blocks:

  • Conditions: Create automation events based on user behaviors; e.g. shopping cart abandoned, link clicked, item purchased.
  • Actions: Take actions based on the conditions that you’ve chosen; e.g. send email, score, tag.
  • Filters: Apply filters to increase the impact and add sharp targeting to your actions; e.g. send a gift certificate to 10 subscribers only.

Once you start building a visual representation of your workflow, it’s easy to drag and drop the elements to adjust your marketing efforts.

getresponse-automation-2

What we don’t love about GetResponse

Getting started

Personally, I don’t like the way that GetResponse automatically creates a default campaign (which is actually a list) when you sign up.

getresponse-campaign

It uses details from your sign up details that don’t necessarily correspond with your preferences, and you cannot change them. You have to create a new campaign and then make it the default campaign. But this just seems to make the automatic process pointless.

User interface

I much prefer the user interface in AWeber and MailChimp.

The GetResponse terminology is confusing:

  • Why call a list a campaign?
  • Why call a subscriber a contact?

The GetResponse interface comes across as more ‘salesy’ and ‘cheesey’ to me, and there doesn’t seem to be a natural flow to how elements stack up on the web page.

For example, the welcome video comes underneath all of this information?

getresponse-user-interface

When you take the option to watch the video series, then again GetResponse confuses terminology. They immediately talk about Building Your List – which is correct – but it contradicts with their naming convention of a campaign.

getresponse-start-video

GetResponse needs to align their terminology with industry standards and make it more consistent.

Pricing

GetResponse has several different pricing plans:

GetResponse Price Structure

The Pro, Max, and Enterprise plans include additional features like Landing Pages, Webinars, and SalesForce integration, which we have not covered here.

So, sticking with the basic Email plan, monthly payment plans are bracketed by list size, starting at $10 per month for unlimited messages to up to 1,000 subscribers. Annual prepaid accounts receive a discount of up to 18% and biannual 30%. Special pricing is also available for registered non-profit organizations.

Try GetResponse

>> Check our price comparison section at the end of this article to see how GetResponse stacks up against AWeber and MailChimp.

MailChimp

Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius co-founded MailChimp in 2001. The company started as a side project funded by various web-development jobs. Now it’s the world’s leading email marketing platform, sending more than a billion emails a day on behalf of its 12 million customers.

What we love about MailChimp

Signing up

Signing up to MailChimp is simple. Along the way they collect information about you and your website that is used later in other settings.

There is no credit card payment taken at this stage.

Unlike AWeber and GetResponse, MailChimp offers a free account for an unlimited time. There are conditions and restrictions to the free account, but it does give you an extended period to trial the software. [More details later…]

Getting started

Once you’ve entered your details arrive on a landing page – called the Dashboard – which is crystal clear. You’re invited to start using the software with clear calls to action; e.g. Create a Campaign, Create a List, Verify a Domain, etc.

mailchimp-getting-started

There are Learn More prompts on each section, plus an invitation to download their Getting Started guide.

User interface

The user interface is uncluttered, and the marketing terminology is spot on. Navigation is kept simple:

mailchimp-nav-menu

Message types

MailChimp refers to their messages as Campaigns.

Campaigns are emails sent to subscribers in a list.

They offer four types of campaigns:

  • Regular Campaign – This is the most common type of campaign. You can design and customize your content, and choose whether to send immediately or schedule your campaign for later.
  • Plain-text Campaign – This is the simplest form of mass email you can send. As the title suggests, these campaigns contain only text and have no formatting options.
  • A/B Testing Campaign – These let you test things like your campaign subject line, from name, content, and send time.
  • RSS Campaign – These allow you to automate your email marketing by combining content from your RSS feed with MailChimp templates.

mailchimp-create-campaign

Creating messages

The message creation process is in three steps:

  1. Decide which list(s) you are sending your message to
  2. Enter a few details like ‘subject line’ and ‘from email address’, plus select tracking options
  3. Choose the template for your message

mailchimp-templates

When you create a regular campaign you can choose from a few template options:

  • Basic – The basic templates are blank layouts where you can add and style content to create your own customized, mobile-friendly email using the Drag and Drop Editor. I’ve found this to be the best, and easiest, option.
  • Themes – The predesigned Themes offer several categories to choose from including Newsletters, Holiday, Sports, Coupons, Music, and more. These are similar to the templates we saw in AWeber and GetResponse. While they are impressive, they are not always the best option for sending emails.
  • Code Your Own – This option is for the HTML coders who want to create their own design.

After you’ve used MailChimp for a while, you’ll see your templates in the Saved Templates and Campaigns tabs.

Basic

Working with the drag and drop editor is a dream. I’ve found it easier than AWeber and GetResponse.

Start off by choosing one of the 23 basic templates:

mailchimp-template-selected

If you’re unsure which one to choose, you can open them in preview mode to give you a better idea of the layout:

mailchimp-template-preview

All the designs have a desktop/mobile view switch at the top which is perfect for making sure your design looks ok in both formats. And there is always a standard footer section that MailChimp populates with applicable data at delivery time.

Once you’ve selected your template you can start editing the pre-populated content with your own message. If you wish to add any more blocks (e.g. image, social icons) you just drag and drop the design element from the right-hand side menu:

mailchimp-design-stage

When you’re happy with the design, you can save it as a template for future messages. This can be an excellent time-saver if you want a ‘rinse and repeat’ system for all your campaigns. If you’re not ready to send the message straight away, you can always save it as a draft.

The final screen before you send your message is a checklist overview to ensure everything is OK.

mailchimp-checklist-confirm

This is a reassuring feature and lets you take stock before you press the send button!

Sending messages

Sending your messages is similar to GetResponse.

You can send the message immediately, or if you’re on a paid plan, you have a couple of scheduling options.

  1. Timewarp – This is like the Time Travel in GetResponse, and means all of your subscribers will receive the message in their time zone; e.g. 10 am local time.
  2. Send Time Optimization – This option lets MailChimp decide what will be the best time to send the email to get the best open rate and clicks.

mailchimp-scheduling

A/B testing

A/B testing runs in a similar fashion to what we saw in GetResponse.

You can choose which variable you would like to test

  • Subject Line – Choose up to 3 subject lines you would like to test
  • From Name – Choose up to 3 from names you would like to test
  • Content – Choose up to 3 messages you would like to test
  • Send Time – Choose up to 3 days of the week or 3 times of the day you would like to test

mailchimp-ab-testing

If you have a large list, you can configure the test so that 50% of your subscribers receive the test combinations. When you have a winning combination, you can send it to the remainder of your list.

Choose whether to determine a winner based on open rate, click rate, total revenue, or manually. MailChimp recommends that your test should run for a minimum of 4 hours.

List management

You can create as many different lists as you wish in your MailChimp account.

But what they promote is the idea of having one master list and dividing it into groups and segments.

mailchimp-new-list

A Group is a collection of subscribers based on their interests and preferences. These can be more category-based. For example:

  • WordPress
  • Social Media
  • SEO

A Segment is a collection of subscribers based on shared qualities, like engagement activity and group choices. For example:

  • Subscribers who opened any of my last five campaigns
  • Subscribers who didn’t click on my last campaign
  • Subscribers who recently purchased a product
  • Subscribers who live in a certain location

Subscribers

You can add subscribers to your list(s) via signup forms on the web, your Facebook page, or even directly on your Tablet (perhaps at conferences or events) using MailChimp Subscribe.

You can also import subscribers via a few channels:

  • CSV or tab-delimited text file
  • Copy/paste from file
  • Integrated service

mailchimp-imports

Automation

MailChimp has moved from the old style Autoresponder to the newer Automation feature because it offers many more options.

Autoresponders restrict you to sending a single email based on a subscriber’s action.

MailChimp’s Automation lets you create a targeted series of emails triggered by a specific date, event, or subscriber’s activity.

MailChimp has pre-built some automation workflows into various categories to help you. Here’s an example of the E-Commerce Automation:

mailchimp-automation-ecommerce

There are also ideas for Education, Music, Software, Non-profit, and standard List Activity. But you don’t have to use these ideas; you can create custom workflows too.

What we don’t love about MailChimp

No visual automation

It’s a shame that MailChimp have not embraced visual automation like GetResponse.

Visual workflows for automation are a lot easier to get to grips with.

While the MailChimp’s automations are extensive, they feel a little overwhelming without a visual workflow tool.

You can’t send to multiple lists

When you start a campaign in MailChimp, one of the parameters you select is the list. However, you can only choose one list at a time.

mailchimp-send-parameter

You can work around this by replicating the message and choosing another list next time.

mailchimp-replicate-campaign

But depending on how many lists you have created this could become tiresome.

Think about using segments and groups rather than multiple lists in MailChimp.

Pricing

MailChimp has a few different pricing options. Let’s take a look:

  • Forever Free

The Forever Free plan, as its name suggests, lets you have a free email marketing service forever; i.e. it’s not limited to 30 days. However, the condition is that you can only have up to 2,000 subscribers, and you can only send up to 12,000 emails per month.

It’s ideal for getting started, and you have access to most of the features, although some are not included; e.g. predicted demographics and delivery by time zone.

Note: Free accounts do not have access to email and chat support. You can upgrade your account for full access to technical support.

  • Prepay

Prepay is the next step up. You can access all the features, but without the commitment of a monthly fee. As MailChimp puts it,

If you’re not a frequent sender, you can purchase credits that work like stamps for email.

For example, you could buy 300 email credits for $9.

mailchimp-prepay

  • Monthly

The monthly plans include all features and support. They start from $10/month for up to 500 subscribers.

mailchimp-monthly-pricing

There are no annual discounts with MailChimp like we saw with Aweber and GetResponse. However, they do offer a 10% Security Discount if you add two-factor authentication to your account.

Try MailChimp

>> Check our price comparison section at the end of this article to see how MailChimp stacks up against AWeber and GetResponse.

Conclusion

I promised you some comparison tables to help inform your decision on these three excellent email marketing tools.

But first, I wanted to cover the topic of list building, as this is a common factor for whichever solution you select.

List building

List Building is a crucial part of email marketing. And most marketers realize the importance of placing opt-in forms in strategic places to capture new email subscribers.

AWeber, GetResponse, and MailChimp all have their own signup forms that you can use on your website to capture email addresses for your list(s).

The built-in signup forms are OK to get you started. And each service provider has a few templates that will probably fit in with your website design.

However, in the long-run, you’ll want to consider investing in a separate lead generation tool to build your email list. As Adam says:

The old solutions of just using any old opt-in form that came with our email provider aren’t enough.

Tools like Thrive Leads, Optin Monster, and Leadpages all have far greater lead capture features, and integrate with all the major email marketing service providers.

Comparison tables

OK, so as promised, we’ve put together some handy comparison tables on features and pricing.

Features

First, we have a feature comparison chart to give you a quick checklist of what each platform has to offer:

Updated Email Comparison

Pricing

Next, we have a pricing comparison table to give you an overview of how each platform compares. Note that MailChimp offers more options with their smaller intervals:

Updated Pricing Structure

AWeber and GetResponse offer a free 30-day trial, whereas MailChimp offers a ‘Free Forever’ plan which supports up to 2000 email subscribers and 12000 emails per month but with limited features.

Try AWeber  Try GetResponse  Try MailChimp

Our top pick

All three of these email marketing services are top notch.

If you’re just starting out, and you need to control costs, then MailChimp’s Forever Free option is great. You get a lot of features packed into the free service, and if you need to extend a little, you can move up to the Prepay option.

The monthly pricing from MailChimp is also very attractive to new starters because it is more granular moving up in bands of 500 subscribers. This is an excellent option for a small business that is making steady growth.

AWeber’s monthly pricing plan increases sharply once you pass 500 subscribers. GetResponse’s initial pricing plan allows 1000 subscribers and is slightly cheaper than AWeber.

As your subscribers increase all three have similar price points.

There is not a lot of difference when comparing features. Each platform achieves most things in their own way. AWeber falls short with it’s A/B Testing features and scheduling facilities. Improving those two things alone would bring it on par with GetResponse and MailChimp.

GetResponse’s new visual marketing automation is eye-catching and if you’re at a stage where you want to develop more automated workflows, then this could be the tool for you. That said, MailChimp’s automation features are useful, but not visual.

GetResponse lets itself down with its user interface and terminology. It wouldn’t take much to make it industry compliant. If you’re comfortable with their interface, then this won’t be an issue for you.

Overall, MailChimp just shades it. They have a more polished platform with an easy-to-use interface that is self-explanatory. The online help guides are also extremely helpful, so without having to call support, you can work most things out.

Which one is for you?

If you’re still undecided then I recommend diving in and taking advantage of the free trials that each platform offers.

If you’re already using one of these services let us know what you like best, and where your provider could improve.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means we may get a commission if you make a purchase. Our opinions are our own and we only share what we believe you’ll find helpful. You won’t pay anything extra but it helps us support the running of this website and continue to publish helpful content. Thank you!

The post AWeber vs GetResponse vs MailChimp: A Detailed Comparison Review For 2017 appeared first on Blogging Wizard.

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How many hours have you spent working on your website?

It’s probably more than you think. When you consider writing and updating blog posts, sourcing and adding images, moderating comments, maintaining themes and plugins, then the hours start to build up.

And do you know how easy it is to lose all those countless hours of work, forever?

Imagine going to your website tomorrow and finding that it’s vanished. There’s nothing but a blank screen staring back at you. And when you try to troubleshoot the problem, you discover and the database and every single file missing.

It may sound extreme, but it happens more often than you think. There are plenty of causes for website failure, including:

  • Your website gets infected with malware, so your host takes care of the problem by shutting down your site.
  • Your credit card quietly expired, and your payment for hosting didn’t go through, so your host deletes your account.
  • A fire, flood, blackout, or security breach affects the datacenter that houses your server.
  • Your host accidentally deletes your files (yes, unfortunately, this happens more often than you’d think).
  • A misplaced comma in your website’s code brings your whole site down, but you can’t find where the problem lies.

That’s why you need an insurance policy for your site.

If the worst were to happen, a backup solution would keep your data safe and let you restore your website with minimum downtime.

Why your host’s backups aren’t enough

If you’re relying on your web host to backup your site for you, then you might be disappointed when disaster strikes.

I’ve read many stories from grief-stricken site owners who thought their web host was responsible for backups. It’s a fair assumption, but in most cases also a wrong one.

  • Some web hosts backup once in a blue moon.
  • Some don’t know if they’ve backed up, which probably means they haven’t.
  • Some don’t know how to restore a backup.

Always look carefully at the web host’s terms of service. You’ll notice that most hosts put the ultimate responsibility and liability for backups solely on the customer — you.

Managed WordPress hosting is a safer, but more expensive, option. But even if you’re paying extra for guaranteed backups, you should check where they’re stored. If something happens to the hosting company or their datacenters, you need to know that your backup is stored in a safe offsite location.

Ultimately, it’s better to have backups you control, rather than relying only on your web host.

You need to be prepared

If you don’t want to lose countless hours of work, you need to have a current full backup of your website ready to be restored when you need it.

While there are plenty of WordPress backup plugins available, many of them only backup some of your website. For example, they might back up your database, but ignore your media library and customized theme files.

In order to be 100% prepared for the worst case scenario, you need a plugin that:

  • Creates thorough and complete backups of your entire site; not just your database, but also your media library, themes, plugins, etc.
  • Is completely automated: you should be able to schedule automated backups to run at regular intervals.
  • Makes it easy to restore from backup, whether you need just one file or your entire website.

To help you choose, we rounded up the top 5 WordPress plugins that fulfill those requirements.

Top 5 complete backup plugins for WordPress

Duplicator

Duplicator

Duplicator, as its name suggests, is best-known for migrating or cloning a site from one location to another. But it’s also one of the best backup plugins, too.

The free version lets you manually back up your entire WordPress site or parts of it.

The premium version, Duplicator Pro, allows you to run instant or scheduled backups. You can back up to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Amazon S3 for safe storage. Plus you have the option to limit the number of stored backups, so you don’t run out of storage space.

Duplicator Pro also includes an email notification system, so you get alerted if there are any issues when it’s backing up your site.

Features:

  • Simple to set up and configure in just a few minutes.
  • Backup a WordPress site or parts of a site.
  • Save backups to Dropbox, FTP, Google Drive or Amazon S3 for safe storage.
  • Limit the number of stored backups.
  • Supports WordPress multisite network backup.
  • Customer support included with the Pro version.

Price: Free with premium version starting at $39

Get Duplicator  Get Duplicator Pro

VaultPress

VaultPress

VaultPress is a backup and security scanning service designed and built by Automattic, the same company that operates WordPress.com.

VaultPress, now part of Jetpack, automatically backs up your entire site, including every post, comment, media file, revision, and dashboard setting, to their servers on a daily basis. The one-click restore process is easy to use, and their knowledgeable support staff is always on hand to assist if required.

Each plan also includes brute force attack protection, uptime monitoring, spam protection, site migration, stats, and an activity log.

Features:

  • Backs up your site automatically every day.
  • Includes backup storage.
  • One-click restorations and repairs from your WordPress or VaultPress dashboard.
  • Customer support included to help you restore or repair your site.
  • Scans your site daily for malware, vulnerable code, and other security threats. And offers a manual or automated resolution, depending on your plan.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.

Price: Starting at $3.50 per month for the Personal plan

Get VaultPress (Jetpack)

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is a premium backup plugin from iThemes that allows you to set up automatic backups on a schedule you choose.

Unlike some plugins that only back up the database, BackupBuddy backs up everything on your WordPress site. But you also have the option to back up just your database or select specific tables or files to exclude from your backups. This flexibility means you can schedule a mix of full and partial backups as required – hourly, twice daily, daily, every other day, bi-weekly, weekly, monthly and more.

BackupBuddy allows you to store your backups remotely offsite using BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. Equally as important, it has a process for quickly and easily restoring WordPress from a backup.

Features:

  • Complete backups of your database, media library, theme files, plugins and everything else you need to restore your site from scratch.
  • Easy to set up and configure in just a few minutes — no complicated settings.
  • Set automatic backup schedules on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Set up multiple separate automatic backups with their own options and settings.
  • Save backups to BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, or email.
  • Restore your site either by uploading an ImportBuddy file which walks you through the process, step-by-step, or restore individual files straight from your WordPress dashboard.

Price: Premium plans starting at $80

Get BackupBuddy

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus

The free version of UpdraftPlus is the highest-ranking WordPress scheduled backup plugin, with over a million active installs. With such a vast user base you know it’s been tried and tested in many different scenarios.

Unlike some plugins, UpdraftPlus restores, as well as backing up, your website. Once you’ve set up your schedule, you can choose to store your backups in Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, or their own UpdraftVault. Whatever the location, UpdraftPlus lets you automatically restore your backup directly from the WordPress control panel, which is a great time-saver.

The premium version has a ton of extra features to keep your site safe and secure. There are plenty of add-ons available that give you even more functionality, such as a site duplicator and migrator, automatic backups before any updates to plugins, themes and WordPress itself, multiple backup storage destinations, and an advanced reporting tool.

Features:

  • Backup your whole site or individual themes, plugins, content, etc.
  • Restore individual files, just your database, or your entire site.
  • Set up multiple automatic backups on different schedules.
  • Store your backups with Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, Microsoft OneDrive, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV, or OpenStack Swift.
  • Restore your site using backups made from other plugins, including BackWPup, BackupWordPress, Simple Backup, or WordPress Backup To Dropbox.
  • Customer support available with the premium version.

Price: Free with premium version starting at $70

Get UpdraftPlus  Get UpdraftPlus Premium

BackWPup

BackWPup

BackWPup is one of the most popular free backup plugins for WordPress, with over 600,000 active users and more than 5 million downloads.

It’s the backup plugin I first used, as it’s straightforward to configure and use. Plus backup jobs can be started either immediately or scheduled.

You can save your complete WordPress installation to an external backup service, like Dropbox, or Amazon S3. Everything is saved in a single zip file, so you can quickly restore files in case of emergency.

There’s also a premium version, BackWPup Pro, that’s packed with even more features to protect your site, including tools that can scan, repair, and optimize your database.

Features:

  • Full database and file backup, plus a list of all your installed plugins.
  • Store your backups to Dropbox, S3, FTP, RackSpace Cloud, Google Drive, SugarSync, website directory, and more.
  • Create daily or weekly automatic backups.
  • Includes a step-by-step restoration wizard tool.
  • Includes a database optimization, scanning, and repair tool.
  • Choose to store your backups in .zip, .tar, tar.gz, or tar.bz2 format.
  • Customer support available with the Pro version.

Price: Free with premium version starting at $69

Get BackWPUp  Get BackWPUp Pro

How do you backup your WordPress site?

Disaster never strikes. Until it does — and then it’s too late. Be proactive, and make sure you have a backup and restore plan.

Even a simple free backup plugin is better than none, but for real peace of mind, it’s best to get a premium plugin that will backup your entire site and makes it easy to restore when needed.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means we may get a commission if you make a purchase. Our opinions are our own and we only share what we believe you’ll find helpful. You won’t pay anything extra but it helps us support the running of this website and continue to publish helpful content. Thank you!

The post 5 Effective Backup Plugins For WordPress: Keep Your Data Safe appeared first on Blogging Wizard.