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Month: February, 2008

Stay Fit With xFit

27 February, 2008 (13:38) | Life, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Most Internet business entrepreneurs spend a majority of their time in front of a computer. It is important for both your health and your productivity to get some exercise into your daily routine. But you don’t always have access to a gym or other exercise equipment.

I know you have heard all this before and you’re probably paying as much attention to me now as you did the other times someone told you to exercise more. So why am I telling you this? I’m one of the developers behind a cool little program called xFit. It’s a complete workout program in your phone. It contains 50 exercises that use your body weight as the resistance. No equipment is needed.

Incidentally one of the company founders is currently in Antarctica. Down there it’s obviously a little bit hard to get to the local gym. And bringing your own Bowflex or Stairmaster is not really an option either. Here’s a picture of Joel doing one of the xFit body weight exercises in a very remote location:

Joel exercising in Antartica with xFit

To check out if xFit is available for your phone and to download a free trial of xFit goto: www.mobileXware.com

If you decide to purchase the program, use the promo code “nick” and you’ll get a 20% discount. I’m not sure how long they’re going to run this “friends and family” promotion, so if you’re interested in a new and easy way to get some exercise into your daily routine, check it out now.

Review: The Guerrilla Balance Sheet

25 February, 2008 (10:12) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

I normally don’t pay much attention $7 reports, but when Jay Conrad Levinson endorses something it’s definitely worth a look.

Jay is a legendary marketer who coined the phrase Guerrilla Marketing and is the author of over a dozen books. The idea behind Guerrilla Marketing is to get great results with a very limited marketing budget. Jay thought his book “Guerrilla Marketing for Free” was the final say on the topic of low budget marketing.

But the Guerrilla Balance Sheet takes this to a new level by encouraging you to get paid for your marketing. The report is 61 pages long and contains a lot of fluff and build-up to get to the point. The core idea of the report however, is quite interesting.

The main idea

You should look at every expense on your balance sheet and turn it into an income instead. Now this may sound redicilous, but it’s something most major marketers have been doing with their marketing costs for years. They have a front-end offer, for example a low-priced report, that is designed to just break even or turn only a small profit. The main goal of the front-end offer is to get new leads to which they can sell their very profitable back-end offers. And instead of giving the front-end report away for free, they charge a small fee for it. Thus turning a marketing expense into an income.

Who’s doing this?

Here are some other examples from the report of companies turning their expenses into income:

  • Las Vegas casinos used to have the $1.99 buffet as a loss leader just to bring people into their casino. Now they charge a reasonable fee for the buffet so they can afford to serve good food and turn a profit.
  • Ever seen the little Black Jack cheat cards you can buy in the souvenir shop? First you pay money to buy the cheat card and then you go to the casino to play Black Jack with your “new skills”, and probably loose more money.
  • A company needed to buy new and expensive equipment to comply with new environmental regulations. Instead of viewing this as a huge expense, the company rented out the equipment to neighboring companies who also needed to comply with the new regulations. Thus turning a large expense into a new stream of income.
  • The Transformers movie – a two and a half hour commercial for toys and GM cars that people happily paid $10 to see.

Front-end, Back-end and Never-end

The URL for the report is www.FeBeNe.com which stands for Front-end, Back-end and Never-end. Of course the report itself is a perfect example of a Front-end marketing piece that generates a profit for the authors. It’s not clear yet to me what the Back-end and Never-end (continuity, subscription, membership, etc) offers are. I’m sure the authors did not put in all this effort in order to just sell a $7 report.

Who is this for?

I enjoy reading about new marketing ideas so for me it was a worthwhile time-investment to read the report. If you’re just starting out then you should focus on more fundamental things to get your business up and running. If you have some income coming in and you want learn how to start thinking about turning all those pesky expenses into income, then I recommend this report.

Here’s the URL: www.FeBeNe.com

Has Your WordPress Blog Already Been Hacked? (Do You Know?)

22 February, 2008 (21:15) | Security, WordPress | By: Nick Dalton

There are several exploits targeting WordPress blogs that insert HTML into old posts or into the page template itself. Here are a few procedures that you should follow regularly to check on the health of your blog.

Search existing posts

  1. Goto Manage Posts in the WordPress admin section.
  2. In the “Search terms…” field enter one of the following:
    • iframe
    • script
    • href
  3. Click “Filter”

This will show any posts that contain the above HTML keywords. Unless you’re writing about HTML your posts will probably not contain these keywords. If they do show up in a post and it’s something that you wrote, don’t worry about it. The presence of these keywords are an indicator that someone else may have injected something into your posts. But if you wrote it, then you’re fine.

The reason I search for these particular keywords is that an attacker usually wants to gain something from your blog: a way to install badware on your visitors’ computers (iframe), a blanket way to manipulate your blog output (script), or a simple link (href).

Search existing comments

Repeat the above procedure for comments on the Comments admin page.

View HTML

Visit your blog and view the HTML source. Search for the same iframe, script and href keywords on a couple of different types of pages:

  • Home page
  • And individual post
  • Your about page

There will be a lot of matches on the href keyword, but the links should all go to your own blog or other places that you know you have linked to. If you find links to web sites that hawk various body enlargement pills, then you have probably been compromised.

Google AdWords and other advertisement networks often use JavaScript includes. So does BlogRush. If you trust the network, then there is no reason to worry about these script statements.

Iframes are sometimes legitimately used by affiliate promotions, for example Amazon product links. Again if you trust the vendor you’re fine. Earlier in the week I wrote about a current exploit which adds an iframe to the wp-stats-php.info site. If you see any such iframes, that’s really bad.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google supposedly marks pages that have been banned from their index due to malware in their Webmaster Tools. You should definitely have a Google Webmaster Tools account to get information on how Googlebot sees your web site and lots of useful search statistics. The banned page indication is an extra bonus.

Repeat Often

You should repeat all the above procedures on a regular basis. I know that’s a pain! But dealing with a compromised blog is much worse. Compared to the countless hours you spend on writing great blog posts and engaging in conversations with your readers, it doesn’t take that much time to keep your blog safe.

An Old WordPress Version Can Get You Banned In Google

20 February, 2008 (10:10) | Security, WordPress | By: Nick Dalton

Imagine if a customer searching for your one of your top keywords in Google, and instead of finding your blog was greeted with this:

Google: Warning this site may harm your computer

Over the past couple of weeks this is what has happened to many WordPress blog owners. Forums are filled with desperate and bewildered bloggers who don’t know what happened or how to fix the problem.

The root cause of these problems is a bug in a WordPress file called xmlrpc.php. This is not the first, nor the last, WordPress security issue. But in this case the bad guys are systematically exploiting the bug.

Automated scripts scan the Internet for vulnerable WordPress blogs. When they find one, a small snipped of HTML is added to an old blog post. This HTML snippet is an IFRAME that retrieves data from a server with the innocent looking name wp-stats-php.info. At first glance this may look like some server collecting WordPress stats. It isn’t. This web site, seemingly based in China, is part of the growing underground economy of badware. Their role in the ecosystem is to install IFRAMES on as many web sites as possible. They will then most likely sell their “iframe service” to another company that wants to install a small piece of bad software on as many computer as possible. Currently it looks like the payload they are distributing is a virus. But it could easily be changed to a trojan keylogger or a program that turns your computer into a node in a botnet. Pretty bad stuff; so Google is right in warning users from visiting hacked sites.

But what does that mean to you as a WordPress blogger?

With the millions of WordPress blogs out there, these criminals have found fertile ground for their exploits. Unless you have updated your WordPress blog to the latest version – 2.3.3 – you are exposed to this threat.

I know that I may sound like yet another security expert crying wolf again. In this case the threat is very real. Just ask one of the many bloggers who have been affected. In the very linked blogosphere it’s just a matter of time before the bad guys follow the links to your blog.

Here are some recent horror stories, should you need more convincing:

Even if the current outfit behind wp-stats-php.info is shutdown, there are others who are gearing up their operations.

What should you do?

  1. Backup your WordPress files and database
  2. Upgrade to WordPress 2.3.3
  3. Check your blog to make sure you haven’t already been infected

If you have done many customizations to your blog (theme and/or plugins) and you’re afraid something will break with the upgrade to 2.3.x, then at least install the latest version of the xmlrpc.php file. You can download it here and just FTP it over the existing file in your root WordPress directory.

More to come on this topic…

Personalize Headlines and Landing Pages with AWeber

15 February, 2008 (11:01) | Tools | By: Nick Dalton

I was listening to to Eric Graham’s excellent Headline Testing Secrets Webinar the other day. One thing he pointed out was that personalizing a headline or a landing page has a very positive effect on your conversion rate. That got me thinking. It’s easy to use the personal information recorded by AWeber combined with some code on your landing page to create a personalized page. Here’s how you do it.

This is an example of an AWeber link with several personal information fields added as parameters:
http://www.tipstrickstoolstechniques.com/aweber/personalize.php?n={!firstname_fix}&e={!email}&c={!geog_city}&r={!geog_region}&o={!geog_country}

Use the “Personalization Field” drop-down in AWeber when you’re composing your message to insert the special {! } codes. The exact spelling of these codes is important. But the names of the URL parameters are arbitrary. I like to keep them short, hence the “n”, “e”, “c” and “r” in the example above. If “name” makes more sense to you, then use that. Just make sure that the names you use in the email match what your landing page is expecting.

Since this link is pretty long an unsightly it’s best used with HTML emails. The complete HTML link may look like this:

<p>Check out <a href="http://www.tipstrickstoolstechniques.com/aweber/personalize.php?n={!firstname_fix}&e={!email}&c={!geog_city}&r={!geog_region}&o={!geog_country}">this page</a>.</p>

On your landing page you need to grab these URL parameters and insert them into your text. Here’s an example using PHP:

<html>
<head>
<title>Welcome <?php print $_GET['n'] ?></title>
</head>
<body>
<h1><?php print isset($_GET['n']) ? $_GET['n'] : 'You' ?> may be missing sales every day...</h1>
<p>Internet business entrepreneurs in <?php print isset($_GET['r']) ? $_GET['r'] : 'your state' ?> are already using our system to improve their business.</p>
<p><?php print isset($_GET['n']) ? $_GET['n'] . ', will' : 'Will' ?> you be the first in <?php print isset($_GET['c']) ? $_GET['c'] : 'your city' ?> to take advantage of this new system?</p>
<p>Thousands of customers all over <?php print isset($_GET['o']) ? $_GET['o'] : 'your country' ?> cannot be wrong...</p>
</body>
</html>

And this is what the customer would see when they click on the link in the email:

Nick may be missing sales every day…
Internet business entrepreneurs in CO are already using our system to improve their business.
Nick, will you be the first in Denver to take advantage of this new system?
Thousands of customers all over United States cannot be wrong…

The isset code is used to display a default alternative should the parameter not be set. This way you can use the same landing page for other traffic sources than emails sent by AWeber. Here’s what the page looks like without any URL parameters:

You may be missing sales every day…
Internet business entrepreneurs in your state are already using our system to improve their business.
Will you be the first in your city to take advantage of this new system?
Thousands of customers all over your country cannot be wrong…

You can also use this technique to pre-populate a form. The code looks like this:

<form method="POST" action="#">
<table>
<tr><td>Name</td><td><input name="name" value="<?php print $_GET['n'] ?>"/></td></tr>
<tr><td>Email</td><td><input name="email" value="<?php print $_GET['e'] ?>"/></td></tr>
</table>
</form>

Now all the customer has to do is click the submit button to sign-up to whatever you’re selling. Some customers may find this level of personalization too creepy. So you’d have to test it to make sure it doesn’t hurt your conversion. Or you can take it even further. Add a little bit more code to the page and you can have it autosubmit if the right parameters are passed in on the URL. The customer would see a link in the email like “Click here to sign-up to this free webinar”, and when she clicks on the link, the page shown would be the thank you page saying “Thank you Jane for signing up”.

Note that there are a couple of drawbacks with this technique:

  • You cannot combine personalized links with AWeber’s link tracking.
  • If you add an email address inside a link, that gives you a 0.4 penalty in Spam Assassin.
  • Always test any changes against a control. Personalization is no exception. In some markets it will likely increase your conversion, but in others it may very well turn off some of your customers.

This was the second preview from the upcoming special report on AWeber Tips and Tricks. Sign-up to the blog notification list (by the big pointing hand in the top-right of this page) to receive a special offer when the report is released.

Track Your AWeber Confirm Opt-in Rate

12 February, 2008 (21:07) | Tracking | By: Nick Dalton

AWeber prominently displays your deliverability rate, the open rate and click rate for emails that you send out using their service. There is one other metric that is a little tricker to find, but it’s equally important for your marketing campaigns.

One campaign I was running was doing fairly well, or so I thought until I happened to see the confirm opt-in rate: more than half of the prospects who entered their name and email address on the lead capture form did not confirm their email address. Ouch!

Here are two ways that you can check the confirmed opt-in rate in Aweber:

Search Leads

  1. From the Home page first select the list.
  2. In the table “Quick Lead Stats” on the Home page there are two columns called Today and Yesterday. The numbers in these two columns are links for the selected list. Click one of them.
  3. On the following page you will see a list of all your new leads for that day along with their confirmed opt-in status. Leads that have not confirmed their email address are indicated with the text “Unverified” in bright red. Here you can eyeball the ratio of confirmed leads. To get the exact number you can do an advanced query using the field name “Verification Status”.

Reports

  1. Select the Reports tab.
  2. The default report “Daily New Leads” will show you both in a graph and in table form the number of Subscribed and and the number of Unverified leads per day.
  3. The “Verified Leads” report shows you Subscribed and Unverified leads for the past 30 days, along with their percentages.
  4. The “Verification Times” report is an interesting graph. It shows how quickly leads verify their email address. In the example below 50% of the leads verify their email address within about 5 minutes, and within 12 hours 90% have done so. Keep in mind that these percentages do not include leads who never verify their email address.

AWeber Verification Rate

This AWeber tip is an extract from an upcoming special report.

Review – Yanik Silver’s Underground Secret Society – Issue 30

8 February, 2008 (16:56) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Underground Secret SocietyYanik Silver has a printed newsletter called the Underground Secret Society. Each month you get a red dossier marked Top Secret in the mail. (Yanik goes all out with his spy theme…) The dossier typically contains a 20-40 page report written by Yanik, a transcript of an interview, and a couple of CDs with additional material.

This month’s report focuses on the task of keeping affiliates and partners engaged and fired up to promote your product or services. If you have ever tried to recruit affiliates for your products you know how difficult it is. Yanik gives several good tips on what really motivates top affiliates. No it’s not money…

To bring it from the theoretical to the practical and actionable, Yanik gives a full insider view of one of his latest campaigns, and a peek into a few other high-profile launches. All the JV emails are listed (some of it feels redundant) with his commentary and explanations of why he used certain incentives and specific phrases. All in all, it’s a great lesson in psychology.

Next topic is going from testimonials to case studies in your sales letters. And Yanik gives you the exact wording you should use when you’re collecting testimonials to allow you to use them the right way.

Finally there are a few pages on how to uncover hidden benefits and letting prospects sell themselves on a product. Rich Schefren used this technique in his latest launch, as have many others, so it’s not really a secret. But now I understand the psychology behind it. Very smart!

Unfortunately I cannot reveal more details about the contents, because you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement when you become a member. So far I’ve received two monthly dossiers and they have both provided a lot more value than the (rather hefty) monthly fee.

You can get a one month free trial here: www.undergroundsecretsociety.com

iPhone Tips & Tricks Ebook Updated for 1.1.3

4 February, 2008 (06:42) | General | By: Nick Dalton

My 101 iPhone Tips & Tricks ebook has been updated with 53 new tips and tricks dedicated to the 1.1.3 iPhone update. On January 15, Apple introduced their new updates. Today, just two weeks later, I’m announcing 22 pages of all new material. This makes it the only up-to-date resource available currently.

All previous customers have already received this update for Free. Now is your chance to get it before the prices go up (knowing any future updates are also covered).

Here are some of the new things you will learn:

  • Customizing Your Home Screen
  • How to make a Web Clip of a section of a web page
  • A cool way to use photos of your friends as Web Clip icons
  • Creating a Web Clip as a speed dial
  • A great source of over 600 iPhone web applications
  • A new feature in the Text Application that can be rather costly
  • Two surprising restrictions with iTunes movie rentals
  • The first DVD that implements iTunes Digital Copy
  • How to automatically find and import lyrics for your iTunes songs
  • The Gmail update that could inadvertently delete your emails

The 1.1.3 update is probably the most significant change to the iPhone since its release. With an update of this magnitude some bugs naturally sneak in. Here are some of the most common problems:

  • You’re unable to upgrade to 1.1.3
  • The cryptic error message "Pairing Record Missing"
  • Text message conversations getting out of order
  • Voicemail is silent
  • Sound from the iPhone is missing altogether
  • Some Bluetooth devices no longer talk to your iPhone

The 101 iPhone Tips & Tricks ebook has the solutions and workarounds for them.

To celebrate this 1.1.3 update I’m offering a special price on the ebook: a 42% discount! But only for the next 113 hours. So hurry and get your ebook now and start learning the insider tips and tricks of the new features of 1.1.3. Here’s the special URL to get the discount:

www.iPhoneTipsTricks.com/113