Web Host Speed Test: Rackspace vs. Digital Ocean

Website load times matter.

Not only will they effect how Google ranks your site, but they will also make a difference to your bounce rate and the user experience on your site.

Last year I changed a company’s website from Rackspace to Digital ocean and saw an immediate drop in bounce rate of 13%.

I decided to run a test on this website (which was also being hosted on Rackspace Cloud Sites) and here are the results:

On Rackspace Cloud Sites

before

On Digital Ocean

After

Wow. I expected a slight bump in speed based on some reviews I had read about Digital Ocean, but this was insane.

I even ran this test 10 times over to make sure that it wasn’t a statistical anomaly. I’m just sorry that I didn’t switch all of my sites over sooner.

The other thing that made me sick to my stomach was the fact that Rackspace was costing over $100 per month.

Digital ocean now  costs me $10/month for a 72.4% drop in page load time.

Bottom Line

Your web host makes a big difference. If you’re trying to run a business using a slow host like godaddy (or Rackspace apparently) then you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot – and killing your conversions & sales.

Wake up. Test your site. Speed it up.

Prosper.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Taste, Correct, Taste, Correct

For those of you who know me well, you know that I’m fanatical about cooking.

I like the process.

Sometimes even more than eating the food.

There are a lot of parallels from cooking to how to create a successful marketing campaign online.

One of them is how to season.

Most food tastes bland if you don’t add salt. It’s basically what brings out the flavour in most foods.

Is there a formula or a set amount of salt that you need to add to food to make it taste good?

No.

No more than there is a magic eBook that will teach you how to create a brilliant marketing campaign.

Instead, you season food by adding a bit of salt. Tasting the difference, and then adjust again.

You repeat this process until you have it perfect.

The same goes for building your marketing campaigns. You fire out a small test. An ad banner, a blog post or a giveaway. You measure the reaction. You adjust.

If you put all of your marketing resources in at once you’ll probably end up with a shitty campaign.

But if you add just a pinch of salt and then taste, you have time to adjust and perfect the mix.

Go forth and test like hell.

Talk soon,
~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

We’re told from a young age to not go to far. To leave a little bit in reserve left just in case we need it.

To only give 90% at the most.

Because if you gave 100% then where do you go from there? What if you fail while giving 100%? There’s nothing left.

We’re told to not bite off more than we can chew. If you take on too much, you might crash and burn. You might fail.

But how then do you improve? How do you learn?

When you lift weights you increase the weight to he point where 8 or 9 reps will cause your muscles to give out… to fail.

That’s how you build muscle.

If you lift only the amount that is easy then you won’t make any improvements.

Bite off more than you can chew. Only when you’re up to your neck in it will you find your true character, and be able to move forward.

Then you will see what you’re made of.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Targeted Email Marketing Can’t Build a Targeted Landing Page [Critique]

january31-email-marketing

This one’s a doozy. I love critiquing pages like this because there’s simply so many problems to solve and so many ways to clean up the user experience.

Let’s get started.

Who the hell has rated you?

So you’re an “A Rated Company”. Who cares?

You need to tell visitors why you’re A rated and who rated you that way. Is this just a BBB rating? If so that might be relevant in the footer, but I highly doubt it’s going to add to your lead generation efforts.

Try adding a logo of the third-party that rated you “A” and say why. Like “Rated ‘A’ for customer satisfaction by [insert company name]”

Who is this guy?

The primary photo on this page is some dude talking on his cell phone. First off, I don’t think that is a relevant stock photo to use… maybe a business person actually USING email?

Secondly, it’s a crap photo and it adds nothing to the page. You’re much better served using a screenshot or a photo of someone relevant to the product than just some lame stock photo.

That being said the one plus side is that the man in the photo is looking towards the headline… oh wait…

There is no headline!

That magic space where the dude in the photo is looking is a prime spot for a punchy headline that tells the user why they have arrived on this page… and why they should care.

But instead of utilizing this space, this company has instead included their logo.

Useless.

Sure you want to include your logo on the page, but it doesn’t need to be the first thing that a visitor looks at when they land. The page would be much better served with a headline like this:

“Reach millions of Consumers & Small Businesses through email for a fraction of the cost of traditional ad buys”

or if you like something shorter, even this would work:

“Reach Millions of Customers for Less”

“Welcome to” hell

The poor attempt at a headline on this page is “Welcome to Targeted Email Marketing”.

Am I not welcome on other websites? Is the point of a website not to reach me?

Of course I’m welcome! This is a waste of space and it should be removed.

Options A, B and C

These calls to action don’t make any sense. The name “Option A” doesn’t link to the choice that I’m making.

Instead of Option A, B or C I should be choosing buttons that say:

Target customers by list

Target customers by industry

Target customers by location

Always stay relevant. From your headlines to your call to action, everything should be relevant to the end goal.

Why is the special so small?

This special is an afterthought. Probably some manager who had a last minute idea… “I know, let’s add a daily special on the landing page to boost conversions!”.

The trouble is that it’s barely visible and won’t add much to the conversion success of this page. On top of that, if they would simply clean up the copy of this page they would see a boost in conversions without having to give away free stuff.

The Bottom line

This page needs a lot of work and attention to get to it’s potential, but there’s no reason why it can’t see higher conversions.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

~E

PS. the social icons at the bottom should also be removed… do they honestly believe that someone is going to share this landing page on their Facebook feed?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Is This Problem Going To Get Worse?

How do you feel when something goes wrong? When someone tells you that your idea isn’t going to work? When you realize that the economy is changing and it’s going to affect your business?

Do you remember how that feels? That sickening feeling in your stomach?

When it happens we have a tendency to focus on the problem. To consume ourselves with what is right in front of us…

How do I fix this problem?

How can I make this horrible feeling go away?

But is that really going to serve us?

No.

A more objective approach is needed. Ask yourself, when is this situation going to get worse? How much time do I have before I MUST make a decision?

You probably have more time than your fear would have you believe – that’s the trouble with fear… it pushes us to act. To get away from the danger. To save ourselves.

But if the situation is not going to get worse for another few days, it’s probably a good idea to thoroughly dissect the problem. Weighing each of your options carefully.

That way when the time comes that you need to act, you are prepared to make an educated decision.

Not a hasty reactionary one.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

What Are Managers For?

What does a manager do? What is their job?

Most managers would have you believe that their job is to make sure that the employees working for them stay in line.

To make sure they follow the rules.

This of course is a major truckload of cow patties.

What a manager’s real job is, what she is really supposed to be focusing on, is to help her employees do better work.

That’s it.

Empower, liberate, teach, inspire and embolden your employees instead of getting them to follow your so called road map.

Your employees aren’t tools to do your bidding (unless they are factory workers on an assembly line). They are contributors to the greater good of your company.

Tell them the destination, and then use your experience to guide them down a fruitful path.

But don’t force them to walk in your footprints.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Mise En Place

In French culinary terms, mise en place means “Put in place”.

Essentially you are getting your workspace ready before you start to cook… you’re being prepared.

Prepared not just to work, but to solve problems.

In cooking, not being prepared can mean that your hollandaise sauce breaks.

But in business it can mean the death of your company or your career.

You can’t design and write an effective landing page without first pouring over the legacy data of your website…

You can’t write a kick ass guest post without doing the research…

You can’t optimize your ad campaigns without knowing everything there is to know about the product…

Preparation is one of the biggest factors to success there is.

Put in the effort before hand and things will run smoother down the road.

Mise en Place.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Do You KNOW That Your Customers Want That Feature?

Gut instinct can be great for a lot of things.

It can lead you to some great ideas…

It can give you intuition about a business deal…

It can get you to ask the right questions…

But are you going to use it to try and ANSWER those questions? Are you going to have your gut create products, develop features and write website copy?

Hell no… or at least you shouldn’t.

The trouble with gut instinct is that it serves you based on your experience. Your OWN experience.

Which most likely is very different than your customer base.

The only way to know for sure which landing page technique will work for you business…

Or which feature to add next to your products…

Is to test. Test like hell and don’t stop testing until you have enough data to make an informed decision.

That is how successful start ups build products. That is how successful digital marketing campaigns are created.

Not some guru’s best practices results.

And not from your gut.

Real. Live. Data.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

A Game of Failures

Tomorrow I’ll be playing my first game of golf of the season. Yes, I live in Canada, but it’s Vancouver… you can golf all year long.

I’m looking forward to stepping onto the first tee.

Cold crisp air and soft grass.

Stretching out stiff winter muscles.

And taking the first swing.

And making the first failure.

Golf is a game of failures

You can’t play a perfect game of golf. No one can. Every shot is an attempt at perfection.

Send the ball to where you want it.

But it doesn’t work out that way. You make mistakes. You will undoubtedly fail at putting the ball exactly where you want it.

So what do you do?

Do you walk away from the game and say fuck it?

No. You take your next shot. You make corrections. Over and over again until the game is done.

And that’s what makes it fun: the challenge of trying to get better… of eliminating as many failures as possible.

Golf wouldn’t be fun if you just picked up the ball and placed it in the hole. Though that would be a perfect outcome.

Then why do we not feel the same way about life?

Fear of failure is a powerful emotion. It keeps a lot of people away from chasing what they truly want out of life.

But what would really happen if you failed?

Would your world end?

Would you walk off the course and say fuck it?

You could. But you could also make corrections and take another shot.

And another… and another… until you get better – and the failures start to decrease.

Your business…

Your marketing…

Your life…

…can be a game just like golf. A challenge. One not to be feared, but to be enjoyed. To be sought after.

If you choose to try new things and you will fail.

Make corrections and take your next shot.

Have a good weekend!

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

3 Brilliant Audio Books For Your Spare Time

I’m a big believer in improving myself. That’s why on top of reading books, my phone always has an audio book available to fill some spare time.

Like commuting…

Or waiting for a bus…

Or while cooking dinner…

It’s like you’re able to attend a class lecture on virtually any topic, pretty much any time you want.

I have a number of friends who think that their ticket to advancing their careers is going back to school, so in the mean time they wait around and don’t do too much to increase their knowledge.

When in fact, they could be pushing themselves to be better every single day.

Early Morning Pep Talk

I find that by listening to an audio book early in the morning I have an entirely different day than if I had listed to my own thoughts, or even music.

By introducing new ideas first thing I get my mind working on solving problems early. It wakes me up, and it gets my creativity flowing.

Here are the three most impactful audio books that I’ve been listening to lately:

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
Seth Godin

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
Jim Collins

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
Eric Ries

Go forth and improve thyself my friend.

~E

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+