Archive for May, 2013

E-mail_postitnoteIt’s everyone’s favorite application. Since its introduction, it has revolutionized the way we communicate, both personally and professionally. It has had a major impact on how companies market themselves, communicate with vendors, send out press releases, rally employees and alert clients to their latest and greatest promotion. The ease, low cost and speed of e-mail in marketing is the biggest reason why our inboxes are overflowing with spam.

In response to the ubiquitous outcry “I hate spam,” governments have crafted regulations surrounding the use of e-mail; and if you are one of the millions of companies using e-mail for marketing, then it’s important that you familiarize yourself with these laws. But the danger doesn’t stop there…

Even if you don’t get caught by the Feds for violating the rules of e-mail usage, you can still end up on a blacklist with the major ISPs such as Yahoo!, Gmail, GoDaddy and Earthlink. Once you get blacklisted, you are considered guilty until proven innocent (the Napoleonic code of laws), and ALL the e-mail you send won’t get through, even to people who want to receive it—a consequence that could end up hurting your business more than a fine.

What Are The Basic Guidelines Of E-mail Marketing?

First and foremost, make sure you are only sending e-mail campaigns to people who have solicited (requested) to be on your distribution list. This is called “opting-in” or subscribing, and e-mails sent to these folks are considered “solicited e-mail.” You are perfectly within your rights to send them messages; but if you got their e-mail address by any other means and they did NOT specifically request to be on your list, that’s considered “unsolicited e-mail” or spam. Sending promotional e-mails to people who have not requested them is not only illegal, but annoying…so don’t do it!

Next, make sure you provide directions on how a person can remove themselves from your distribution list in EVERY e-mail. The best place to put this information is at the very bottom of your message. You should also include your full company name and contact information at the bottom so no one can blame you for cloaking your identity—another legal “no-no” of e-mail marketing.

Our #1 Recommendation

Lastly, when sending e-mail out to your marketing list, we recommend using a service such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response or Mail Chimp. These web-based applications will help you manage your e-mail distribution list with automatic opt-out and opt-in tools and will keep your e-mail server off an ISP’s blacklist.

Naturally, you want to make sure the information you are sending is interesting and relevant. No one wants more junk filling up their inbox, so the better you are at marketing, the better your results will be. E-mail is not a magic marketing bullet that will solve all your marketing problems, but used correctly, it can certainly help you reach more customers and build stronger relationships with the people you already do business with.

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Say goodbye to Windows XP? I thought we did that a long time ago. Apparently not everyone has. Peter Han, Microsoft’s Vice President of US OEM sale estimates that upwards of 1/3 of all small and medium businesses in the US are still running XP. To get an idea of how many computers this may be, market research firm IDC says in 2012 there were about 148 million desktop sold and about 154 million in 2011. While none of these would be running XP, it shows a lot of computers get sold each year.

XPproBefore you say “Big deal, XP still meets my needs and runs my applications”, you are looking for potential problems next year. Microsoft will end ALL SUPPORT for XP on April 8, 2014. That means no more security patches or hot fixes. That means your number one defense against infections will be gone. You are on your own (but with help from CMIT Solutions of Denver, of course). By the way, the same date applies to Office 2003. NO MORE SECURITY UPDATES.

That end of life date is a year away, why worry about it now? If you have only a few XP computers, it is no big deal. You can wait, maybe. But if you are a typical company you may have 10-20 such computers. Do you want to wait until March 2014 to replace all those computers at once? Or would you be better off staggering the replacements, such as 1-3 per month and minimize your cash outlay?

Also, if you are still running XP, you are probably running older applications that may not be compatible with Windows 7 or 8. You need to start your testing now, not in April 2014. If you rush your decision at the last minute, odds are you will make a bad decision or forget to do some critical testing.

Do you want to run Windows 8 or are you like many others and prefer Windows 7? You can still buy computers with Windows 7 now. But if you wait until 2014 to replace your XP computers, you will not be able to buy a new computer with Windows 7. Windows 7 has already become the “new” XP – solid, stable and dependable.

Plan and start your replacement cycle now. XP is over 11 years old. Nothing like being on the cutting edge of technology. Let us help you make your migration easy and stress-free.

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A question that we often get around here is whether or not file-sharing services such as DropBox, YouSendIt and Google Docs are secure enough for business. If you use any of these services for your business, here’s the scoop…

Treat DropBox As A Public, Shared Environment.

DropBoxDropBox (and the others mentioned above) is designed to easily share very large files – ones that are not optimal for e-mail because they’re so huge. Examples include videos, audio files, large PDFs and graphics files. These services are typically free (or very cheap), and you shouldn’t have the expectation of great security for this price.

But an increasing use of these tools, even for legitimate reasons such as collaboration, is putting a lot of private information at risk. According to a recent Ponemon study, 60% of organizations have employees that frequently put confidential files on services like DropBox without permission. In fact, companies such as IBM have banned the use of these services completely.

When Does Or Doesn’t It Make Sense?

When you have a file that doesn’t need to be secure and simply needs to easily and quickly get from Point A to Point B, then DropBox can be a viable solution. On the other hand, you would not send or store any sensitive files, such as contracts or financial statements, on DropBox. These services are also not safe for any files subject to government compliance regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley or HITECH. These file-sharing solutions are NOT compliant.

What To Use Instead

If you need to transfer files outside of your network and need to do
so securely, some options to consider are:

  • Creating a secure FTP site
  • Use 2-factor authentication rules
  • Be sure to have audit logs involved to monitor the security of your data

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Whether you have lofty goals at work, at home or in your community, it takes a strong work ethic with diligence in the daily tasks to yield success. While I was at my peer meeting in Nashville in April, I was shown the following video that I feel compelled to share with you. I have already shared it with my family and on Facebook and LinkedIn. Now, it’s your turn. Nothing worthwhile and worth attaining should come easy.


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