What is YOUR blog worth?

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is getting inundated with the news of the 1 Man Blog Sells for $15 Million Dollars

The question at the back of EVERY blogger’s mind when they hear news of a blog sale is, “I wonder how much MY blog would bring?”

For John Wu, the sole author of Bankaholic the answer is a cool $15 Million.

Darren reports:

the blog has an Alexa ranking of 42,168 and averages less than 20 comments per post. The blog does seem to rank very well for a lot of bank terms and I’m sure drives targetted traffic.

That’s the key – TARGETED TRAFFIC.  The blog buyer is Bankrate, which is acting very much like Google in this acquisition.  It’s the old,  “let someone ELSE do the hard work” and then the big guy with deep pockets sweeps in to collect.    John Wu got to perform the hard work – building up the blog over a period of 26 months.  He did the digging and Bankrate gets the gold and John’s labor is being WELL rewarded with a ROI of $576,923 per month for his efforts.

However, I think it’s important to remember that he didn’t launch this blog with this payday in mind. Instead he set out to create a tightly targeted blog focusing on attractive and tightly targeted keywords.  Now a big player wants his blog and is paying handsomely for John’s hard work.  Congratulations John.

Oh, and in a medium where community is everything, this blog is a bit light on that aspect.  Blog posts don’t get a lot of comments, but the blog delivers where it counts and that’s on desirable keywords and targeted traffic!

Oh, and for what it’s worth – Bankaholic is a WordPress blog.

The Moral to the Story – Keep Your WordPress Installation Up to Date.

For those of you who don’t know how I pay the bills around here, I have this “savior” complex where in I try to save people from themselves.  While others hold their sides as they roll on the floor laughing at the idiots on YouTube who subject themselves to groin shots, I grimace in empathy.

As part of this complex, I launched a service known as Acumen Web Services where I sell self hosted  WordPress blogs to business people who are not geeks yet want to harness the power of the internet in their marketing.  At Acumen Web Services, I have a service known as “Cyber Angel” hosting.  This means that I’ll be responsible for keeping your WordPress blog up to date as part of your hosting with me.

I offer “Cyber Angel” hosting because I’ve watched clients take groin shot after groin shot  over the years and I don’t enjoy it one bit.

Here’s a word of advice:  If your web site is getting nice search engine action, BELIEVE ME the bad guys are hard at work finding a way to grab a piece of your hard earned success.

That’s what is happening with WordPress blogs.  Average, every day people are getting incredible results using WordPress self hosted blogs as their web presence.  Because of that success, there are bad guys (and gals) out there who are always looking for a way to siphon success from these hard working WordPress blogs.

As a result, the WordPress development team is always trying to keep one step ahead of the bad guys.  It’s a labor of love and it upsets me when people complain about the frequent updates.  They’re doing it for YOUR own good folks!

So, updating WordPress is essential.  If it’s too much for you, then get a free blog or hire someone to take care of YOUR self hosted WordPress blog for you.

As you might imagine, I’ve had more than one person throw a fuss over the monthly hosting fee which comes with “Cyber Angel” hosting.   Most are surprised at how QUICKLY I agree to doing it “their” way.  However, for some reason, the ones who ask “Why?” usually end up signing up quickly for the service.  The rest  have gotten exactly what they requested.   I am MORE than willing to set up self hosted WordPress blogs on regular web hosting account, however it comes with the explicit warning that it is the CLIENT’S responsibility to keep the blog installation up to date.

So this morning, I get an email from one of those clients.  At the time of installation, he was all “Scouts honor!  I promise to stay on top of this!”  His last blog post was August 2007.   Unfortunately, while he may have forgotten about his blog, the search engines haven’t.  He wrote a couple of posts which have obviously done VERY well for themselves with the search engines.  Remember, there are always people willing and able to siphon your success!!!  He’s not only not been posting to the blog, he hasn’t stayed on top of the installation issues.

Now he has a problem – a SERIOUS problem.  Seems he’s been getting email messages from unhappy campers as a result of his blog.  They go like this:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am tired of receiving messages containing malicious computer programs (viruses) from your e-mail address!!!

If within 1-2 days you do not stop sending messages to my e-mail address, I will have to address this issue to the Police!…

Today I received a hard copy of your data logs from my Internet service provider. The copy contains your IP address, logs of sending malicious programs and your e-mail address details…
I am sending you the copy of the document containing your data and logs of sending malicious programs as the proof of your fault!!!!!!

You must print the document containing the list of your data and logs of sending malicious programs and pass it on to your Internet service provider with, so that they could find out why the viruses are sent from your computer to my e-mail address!!!!

Ask your Internet service provider to resolve this problem!!!!

Do this now!!!

Once again!!! If you don’t stop sending the letters, I will address to the Police and file a lawsuit against you!!!

I went in and checked and by gum he is running an old version of WordPress.  Go figure.  I quoted him on what it’s going to take to “fix” the problem.

By the way, I can’t imagine that this is helping his company’s “brand” or image in any way, shape or form.  While I’m sure the frustrated sender of the email above will NEVER forget my client’s company (which has been featured in the email address of each and every spam message being sent)  it won’t be a good thing.

If you’re not running WordPress 2.6. X UPGRADE NOW!

Do You Measure Customer Service By Satisfaction or by Complaints?

communication

When it comes to business, measuring is an integral part of success. While measuring sales, marketing even web visitors is common, many businesses fail to recognize the need to measure customers service… and with good reason.

Measuring customer service is hard and quite honestly, most businesses are not created with customer service as part of their business DNA.

Customer service as part of a company’s DNA is the absolute best description of what it takes to truly deliver on the customer service front… and it’s so not mine. That phrase totally belongs to Ben Yaskovitz. It’s in Tip #4 of his latest blog post Using Great Customer Service as a Differentiator.

What an elegant, descriptive way to describe the perfect delivery of exceptional customer service.

Ben goes on to tell of his own customer service testimonials from his start up Standout Jobs.

Exceptional customer service has earned him not only testimonials but also new sign ups for the service. Obviously customer service is part of the Standout Jobs DNA.

This really contrasts with my own experience with another start up. However, a more recent and horrible tale is tole by Marketing Pilgrim Andy Beal who writes a tale of customer service gone bad with his blog post Office Depot Joins the Reputation Deadpool.

In a nutshell, Office Depot put out some ATTRACTIVE bait to capture a new customer by offering a great limited time offer of a special low-low price on a Toshiba Laptop. That’s the way it works. A a business, you entice a customer to try your product or service with an offer that is too good to resist. Office Depot even sweetened the already sweet deal by offering next day shipping. You can’t build a successful business on profit margins this thin, but it’s necessary to win new customers.

Then, as you fulfill the order, you amaze the customer. You meet or exceed their expectations with the hope of winning that customer as a steady customer for life… or at least, the next few years.

In Andy’s case, Office Depot was trying to woo him away from his “steady” office superstore, Staples. At the very least Andy expects flowers, a nice dinner and a movie. Poetry, a moonlight gondola ride and ridiculously expensive champagne would have sealed Staple’s fate as soon to be “used to be”. Instead, Andy was stood up and then sent a bill for flowers he never saw and a dinner he never ate. Andy’s devotion to Staples has grown ten fold as a result of the experience. Meanwhile, Office Depot’s brand is being drug through the streets after being tarred and feathered.

Obviously customer service is NOT part of Office Depot’s DNA.

Kelly over at Maxiumum Customer Experience writes:

Your customers are skeptical. There are customers who want you to provide delight, and then there’s this lady. Depending on your industry, there may be thousands lined up behind her. At this point she’s not looking for delight. She’ll take a discount or some other special offer, but what I heard in her voice says it’s not what she’s looking for.

She wants to know somebody at this company cares.

BRAVO Kelly!!! That’s a hit the nail square on the head kind of observation!!!

Does anyone at your company care?

Trust me, if there isn’t anyone who cares, it’s going to show. It’s surprising how a truly sympathetic ear can take the edge off of the burning rage that builds when you feel you’ve been reduced to a number.

How do you measure customer service?

Leadership Tools offers these as ways to measure customer service quality.

  • Customer Attrition Ratio = number of customers leaving / total number of customers (for the same time period) – the higher the ratio, the less likely it is that your company is consistently delivering quality customer service.
  • Sales Growth – your reputation precedes you. If people are still buying from you, and referring others, chances are they are happy with the service and they are loyal to your organization.
  • Customer Survey Results – directly asking customers to rate the service level they receive is by far the best way to measure service quality.
  • Customer Complaints – be thankful for each complaint that comes to your attention. You can only provide a thoughtful response to customer issues once you are made aware of the issue. When customer’s complain they represent not just their issue, but perhaps an issue that is affecting others.

However, it’s all for naught if customer service isn’t part of your company’s DNA. It’s cool to care about your customers. Pass it on!

Domain Name Registry Scam

The bastards are on the loose again.  You know, the CREEPS  who send you a very official looking “invoice” regarding your domain name registration.   Obviously a LOT of people fill in the form because it looks so damned official.  I’m a “professional” and I have to admit, if I didn’t know better… I’d sign it as well.

It’s bad enough that you have to worry about security online… now you have to guard yourself off line as well.  It’s a form of snail mail domain name phishing.

In case you don’t know, here’s the scoop.   In the fine print it is written that by signing this form you’re authorizing the  transfer of your domain name to THEIR service.  Want to point your DNS to another hosting program.  TOO BAD!  You can’t.  Want to transfer your domain name… can’t do that either… you signed away those rights.

I’ve gotten two emails this week from clients asking about the letters they’ve received via snail mail regarding this scam.

“But I thought my domain name was registered through you?”

My reply, “It is and will be unless you fill out that form and send it in.  Then all bets are off.”

In case you can’t tell, one of my clients made that mistake a few years back.  I don’t think we ever got control of the domain name back.

It INFURIATES me when some slimy bastard tries to use FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) to make a buck.

Well, obviously the scam isn’t working so well anymore, so the slimy bastards have hired a call center to telemarket their service.

I got just such a call this morning.  “Hello.  I’m from Domain Name Registration Services and you will be getting a notice in the mail about changes to your domain name account.”

“Why will I be getting that?” I asked.

“Uh, because there are changes in your domain name registration account,” she replied.

“Why?” I asked again because I can be a horse’s ass sometimes.

She started stumbling so badly it was literally incoherent jibberish.  I began thinking of the dear, sweet woman who wrote to me earlier this week and thought about how different this phone call would be if she were in my place.   That visualization set me off and with that,  I let loose on that poor telemarketer.

You know you’ve reached a new low when a telemarketer hangs up on you.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW ALREADY:

  • Don’t click on links in emails regarding your domain name .  Go to  the web site where you registered your domain name and renew it.
  • If you didn’t register your domain name via snail mail, don’t respond to snail mail messages regarding your domain name.
  • Your domain name registrar will NOT be phoning you about your domain name… even if you haven’t paid the bill.

By the way, these rules apply to your CREDIT CARD, YOUR BANK and YOUR PAYPAL accounts as well!!!

It’s only classified as paranoia if they ARE NOT out to get you.

GoDaddy Domain Names and Hosting May Put Your Business in Danger

I’ve had more than one client politely listen to my warnings about using GoDaddy as a domain name registrar/host and then go right on using their services. I do understand their reluctance to accept my warnings at face value. After all, I do offer in the course of my business what I believe is a “better” alternative.

I wrote way back in April 2007 on my free Blogger account about the GoDaddy Tar Baby. (You can actually see that at that time, I recommended the service for my clients. UGH! More crow for me to eat…. see my post “Quasi Scientific Blogging Observations).

Back to the Tar Baby that is Godaddy…. for those who think that the stories are of the “urban legend” category, Mashable offers this recent report GoDaddy Pulls the Plug on RateMyCop.

Daily Blog Post concurs and offers commentary on the “quality” of the hosting services at Godaddy as well.
Trouble has been brewing at GoDaddy for a while. Here’s an article I wrote a while back about GoDaddy’s troubles for my clients (it’s a PDF…. so you might want to save this rather than try to open it in your browser.)

Shortly after I wrote and posted that article, Godaddy began donning the cap of “internet police”… the horror stories are chronicled at the site NoDaddy.com In response, I created a GoDaddy Transfer package for my clients.  Quite a few took me up on the offer.

I will admit, I still use Godaddy’s domain name registration services for picking up domain names I have yet to put into “action”. See the following for why I won’t actively develop a site under any domain name I have that is registered with Godaddy.

Hey, I’m just like everybody else. My preferred ICANN registrar charges a LOT more than Godaddy does…. and I don’t want to pay more than I “have” to for my excessive list of domain names. But I’ve been getting a LOT of “update your information or else” emails from them and it makes me nervous… because I DID pay for those domain names because I DO want access to them!! Paying less than $10 per domain name loses it’s attractiveness when you realize that they can be taken from you on a whim.

I hate it when you find out the price being charged is just a fraction of what you’ll pay!