According to a research on , 60 percent of online marketers plan on doing a customer journey analysis to improve their online conversion rates. that only about 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.
Conversion optimization goes beyond tweaking your call to action, changing fonts and page color. To boost conversion rates, marketers should revisit the beginning of the customer’s journey. That is, the mind of the customer where he or she initially decided to patronize your business.
In this article, I will be discussing four radical psychological experiments, including lessons to boost your conversion rates. One of these experiments was conducted more than 100 years ago.
1. The little Albert experiment – classical conditioning.
was conducted by Psychologist John Watson (1913) on a child to observe the process of . The psychologist, picked an 11 month-old infant (Little Albert) to test his reaction to different stimuli and little Albert was indifferent to animals before the experiment but had a liking for a white rat.
During the course of the experiment, Watson paired the presence of the white rat and other animals in Albert’s room with the loud bang of a metal which scared little Albert. As this process was repeated, little Albert associated the loud bang with the animals. Afterward, even without the loud bang, the presence of the animals alone scared little Albert resulting in him moving away and crying.
After some time, little Albert came to fear the white rat (and other animals) he once loved since his brain conditioned the sight of the animals with the loud bang. It was reported that little Albert never recovered from this conditioning.
Key Takeaway: to boost conversion rates for businesses, brands need to be associated with positive emotions. Positive emotions trigger memories and boost perception from customers. In little Albert case, the presence of animals after exposure to the loud bangs caused nervousness and fear.
Brands like Nike and Christian Louboutin have conditioned our minds with psychical fitness and luxury respectively. A perfect example is in Nike ads where you find runners staying healthy wearing Nike kits or sponsoring challenges like .
2. The Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman experiment – anchoring
When shopping for household items on e-commerce platforms, we come across prices, which look ridiculous, but a few clicks down the page or on the next listing we find the same items for a cheaper deal making us buy instantly. What prompted you to buy was the “Effect of Anchoring”.
In the experiment conducted by , a solution was offered to boost conversion rates and combat cart abandonment for cheaper competitors or stores.
The experiment was conducted to observe how initial perception can alter or influence people’s behavior. During the experiment, the Psychologists surveyed and asked people to estimate the percentage of African countries in the United Nations. Participants were asked to spin a wheel with number 0 – 100 before answering the question, unknown to the participants the wheel was rigged to stop at 10 or 65.
The psychologists found that participants who picked 65, choose a higher percentage of African countries than those who picked 10. Participants who picked 10 on the wheel estimated that 25 percent of African countries were part of the UN and participants who picked 65 estimated that 65 percent of African countries were part of the UN.
Key Takeaway: this study proved the effect of anchoring on our shopping habits, and mind – initial exposure to a certain amount of an item will influence our mind when offered the same item for a cheaper amount.
For example, when shopping for a Nespresso that cost $350, you may feel the price is too high, but when you find a similar Nespresso for $250 or $300, you feel you’re getting a bargain and therefore purchase the coffee maker immediately. Amazon and BestBuy do this in their product listings. Anchoring can only be used by e-commerce business and should be applied creatively.
3. The Jam study – more choices aren’t always better.
In the book “The Paradox of Choice” written by psychologist Barry Schwartz, Barry declared that offering too many choices can have unintended effects on people and it is best kept to the barest minimum. The same applies to conversion optimization and the effect was demonstrated in the “jam study”.
The “jam study” was conducted by in 2000. The study observed the shopping behavior of 754 consumers in a grocery store and their reactions to the choices they were confronted with. On the first day, there was a table with 24 varieties of gourmet jam and on another day, a table was set up with only 6 varieties of gourmet jam.
Results from the remarkable study showed that the table with 24 varieties attracted more interest than the table with 6 varieties but the latter outperformed the former in sales.
This study and others have shown not only that excessive choices can result in choice paralysis (more interest in the table of 24 varieties of jam, but fewer sales) but can also reduce consumer satisfaction even after making the right choice.
Key Takeaway: To increase your conversion rates, instead of offering many choices to customers, cut it down to 2 or 3 options making it easier for customers to make a choice.
This tactic is used by Apple in their product listings: they offer only 3 sizes (16GB, 64GB, and 128GB or more recently 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB) of space on their mobile devices. This allows for controlled variables and more profit when used.
4. The beer on the beach experiment – context boost perceived value.
Have you ever wondered why people pay up to $700 for a Samsung phone, but question the price of another manufacturer offering the same device spec sheet for less? Research has shown that the reason for this is an increase in perceived value. The same applies to why most people ask for bargains when shopping in a street market but never in a shopping mall.
An experiment was conducted by to demonstrate how context influences perception. In the experiment, two friends sat on a beach. Friend A offered to buy Friend B his favorite beer and asked him how much he will be willing to pay for the beer. He offered two options; the beer will come from the restaurant of a fancy hotel or a local grocery store.
The experiment showed that people were willing to pay more for the same beer from a fancy hotel than the grocery store. To the participants and the friend B, it was unfair to pay for the same beer from a fancy hotel compared to the local grocery store now this is context boosting perceived value.
Key Takeaway: to boost conversion (close sales/generated leads), your business can’t be perceived as cheap. This makes it hard to convince customers to pay a premium for your products or justify a sudden change in your pricing. But, positioning your business as a premium brand will boost revenue, referrals from customers, and grow the business.
Successful ways of boosting perceived value will be:
- Use social proof – testimonials, video proof
- Increase the price of your products
- Use authority figures in images and campaigns
- Convey scarcity
- Compare your business with expensive alternatives
Over to you
How have you used psychology to boost your conversion rates? Share your experiences in the comments below.
The post appeared first on .
When your website or blog goes down it can be pretty frustrating while also having consequences over the short and long term. Yuck.
And while it is not the end of the world, it can be a little bit scary if you .
When a site goes offline there is a sequence of events that take place and, depending on how you manage them, annoying consequences that follow.
Let’s take a very basic look at those events and what to do in that kind of situation so that you can hit the ground running.
A general timeline of a crashed blog
Here is a quick example timeline of what can happen when a website or blog goes down, and what you might want to be doing at each stage of the process. This could vary a lot depending on your situation, so I’ll try to keep it as general as possible.
The first thing is usually that someone lets you know that your blog is down. This might happen on Twitter or you might get an email from a reader who was trying to access the site. If you run a very professional setup you might even get a notification from your server or like Sucuri.
What to do here:
At this stage you’ll want to get to a computer so you can begin researching what’s happening. Try not to panic.
The next step is that you will need to try and figure out whether your site is actually down and, if it is, what is causing the problem. For example, is it a server issue, a hack of some kind, an issue with a plugin, etc.?
What to do here:
The first step is to check to see if it’s just you. Then the next step is to email or call your web host and notify them of the problem. Your support staff is always the first point of call.
At this stage your problem will either be resolved as being some simple error or temporary server downtime. If not you will need to move on to the next stage.
What to do here:
If your problem was resolved you can move on the section about prevention and backups, if your problem wasn’t resolved you’ll need to investigate further.
4. Further investigation
Sometimes your web host will not be able to resolve the issue if it is a more specialized problem that involves your WordPress theme, plugins, or some malware that is present on your blog. Often they will be able to identify the issue but not want to attempt to repair it due to the possibility of making it worse.
What to do here:
Here you want to engage a or a service like that can look deeper into the issue. This will generally involve giving them access to your server so it’s best to go with a reputable person/company. Ask for a report and quote.
5. Outside effects become noticeable
Sometime around this stage you will probably start to notice some effects of the downtime. For example, you will see a notification in Google search or that there is a security threat on your site, or you’ll start to notice your changing/dropping in response to the server no longer being reachable. Keep an eye on your important backlinks as well. If you throw a 404 error for too long there’s a chance that the linking site will change to someone else.
What to do here:
At this point you might want to publicly acknowledge that there is an issue by posting to your social media accounts and advising readers what is happening and how they can help. Here’s of how to do it.
6. Start researching alternatives
Unfortunately, if your issue is not resolved quickly it might mean that a more complicated solution is necessary. For example, you might need to migrate your domain name and/or website to a new host due to some issue with the current one.
What to do here:
Start looking around Google for people who have had similar problems to this and seeing what pith advice they have. Start emailing other providers to find out about the migration process should that be necessary. Look for staff who might be able to help you re-build any damaged or broken bits.
7. Final resolution
Some point in here the damn thing will be fixed and you’ll wonder why you got into Internet business in the first place. You’ll also experience some pretty great relief.
What to do here:
You can do but also move on to the next step.
8. Put in place future protections and backups
If you didn’t have them in place initially, an event like this will really motivate you to start thinking about how to prevent future incidents. This involves better server set ups, security protocols, backups, monitoring, etc.
What to do here:
Make regular . My Blog Tyrant server makes a full server back up every two days, and once a week sends a full copy to a completely separate server as a secondary backup. Harden your website’s security using measures like . Talk to your server staff about improvements that can be made or pay an independent expert for an audit.
Has your blog ever crashed?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if your blog has ever crashed and how you dealt with the situation. What steps did you take and how effective were they? What tips or steps would you say should absolutely be added to the article above? Please leave a message below.
You’ve heard the horror stories, haven’t you?
. . And, .
It makes sense that you’re worried about your Internet Security and Privacy.
Nobody wants to be an online victim.
But, what can you do about it?
Well, there is one simple way that’s cost effective and can be set up in minutes.
All you need is a VPN that securely encrypts your internet activity and keeps you safe from the threats of the online world.
What You Will Learn
I’m going to show you everything you need to know about a VPN-
- What is a VPN?
- What is the best VPN (And should you use a free VPN)?
- How to set up your VPN the right way
I’m also going to show you how to use the VPN to watch your favourite TV shows, get cheaper flight tickets and some other tricks you can use to get the most from your VPN.
If that sounds good to you, let’s get stuck in, shall we?
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Don’t worry; I’m not going to get too caught up in the technical stuff. Instead, let me explain to you simply.
A VPN exists to protect your information, your identity, and your location.
Not only does it keep you safe from hackers and online crimes, but you can also use it for some fun things as well (more on that later).
Let’s say you’re sat in your local Starbucks working on your laptop, hooked up to their internet. Their free WiFi is what you’d call a public network.
And it’s easy for hackers and other people to get hold of your data while you’re on it.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a VPN when you connect to any free Wifi when you are out and about. That includes your phone, tablet and laptop!
Because all it takes is for someone to install a freely available android application like this one-
And in a click of the button anyone can steal your passwords and logins for any website you visit. That includes Facebook, Gmail, PayPal, Amazon – literally anything that requires a login.
But by connecting to a VPN all of your data becomes encrypted and hidden from the prying eyes of strangers.
How does it do this?
Well, it encrypts all of your internet activity and channels it through private VPN servers that are 100% secure.
You can also use a VPN to trick the connection into thinking that you’re in a different part of the world entirely. You could be sat in New York but appear to be in Tokyo when browsing.
That feature also carries on into different uses, too. You can use it to dodge geo-restrictions – such as YouTube Videos or On Demand Streaming – to allow yourself access to services from other countries.
I have friends who live outside of PayPal regions that use a VPN to make payments through Australia or America.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to always use a VPN when connecting to any public or free WiFi source.
Which Is The Best VPN?
The best VPN in my opinion is . I have tried many different VPN providers over the years and IPVanish is hands down the best VPN for a number of reasons.
Not only is it quick and easy to setup, but it’s also amazingly fast and doesn’t slow down your connection at all unlike many VPN providers I have tried.
It is also comes with clients for all of your devices including Windows, Mac OSX, Android & iOS so you can secure everything easily.
I’ve recommended it in different articles in the past, and now I’m going to strongly urge that, if you have a choice between IPVanish and another VPN, you choose IPVanish.
They market themselves as the fastest VPN on the planet and in my experience I’ve found that to be true. While there may be an occasional lapse in speed, there is rarely anything worth noting.
You will also receive access to over 40,000 different IPs on over 700 servers in over 60 countries. That is, by far, the best VPN access you are going to find.
To put that into perspective, if you were to use a new IP address every day for the rest of your life, you’d have to survive for the next 109 years to use them all.
As an SEO I’ve found this access to so many services truly invaluable. I’ve been able to create local listings on almost a street-level, by targeting with precision through these servers.
It’s also opened up revenue stream in lots of different countries, by being able to efficiently build niche affiliate sites that rank in countries I’ve never even been to.
All by being able to see the true search experience of search and adjust accordingly.
But one of my favorite features which is unique to , is that they help you block:
- Unwanted Marketing: You can block banners and ads that you don’t want to see, all in just a few clicks.
- Deep Packet Inspection: Stop your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from finding out deep data about your usage and clamping down on your internet speed.
For me, IPVanish is the most flexible platform for everyone including marketers with the most benefits to your end result, while providing next level security protection.
You can get access to IPVanish .
Which Is The Best Free VPN?
The best free VPN service is because they give you 500MB of secure encrypted data to use each month without any location restrictions.
It works a little bit like a mobile data plan and once you use up your 500MB of data they cut you loose.
But if you tweet the TunnelBear team they’ll raise that to a 1GB of data per month for free. So, you can get a good few hours of VPN coverage each and every month.
And even with the free version you can access their servers in:
- The UK
BUT… you should be aware that your internet connection will be considerably slower when using the free VPN service.
So while it is fine for general web browsing, it isn’t much good for anything else.
Tunnel Bear is mostly for the protection of your data and so that you can take advantage of some of the fun stuff you can do with a VPN (which you’ll read more on later on).
Also you don’t get any way near as many server locations to choose from as you do with IPVanish.
That stays true even if you upgrade to their Premium version, too.
If you’re just looking for casual protection serving the net, or just want to use it for when you access your bank details in a coffee shop, then 1GB should be more than enough.
But, I wouldn’t use it to stream because it’ll run out after around 10 minutes.
However because free VPNs do restrict your access, I’d recommend that you don’t use them.
For example, my first experience with a free VPN was . After a week-long free trial of premium I was only able to access servers in a handful of locations:
Which is great if you just want the security benefit of hiding your IP address for a short period of time. But, I don’t need to find local search results, or test geolocations, from Hong Kong or Romania, so the free version is a little lost on me.
So, I’d strongly recommend that you don’t use a free VPN.
They are never a replacement for a paid VPN and for the small cost per month, the level of protection you can’t really put a price on.
As someone that uses a lot of public WiFi, a paid VPN like has been a highly valuable tool at the core of my work.
But I also see it in the same light as having a seatbelt in my car or wearing a helmet on a motorbike. It’s an essential you can’t quite do without.
Whichever you decide to use, let’s look at how you can get it set up…
How To Set Up A VPN Network Easily
VPN’s are available on most operating systems and smartphones, but for the purposes of this tutorial I’m going to focus on the setup for Windows.
You’ll find that the setup process for all Operating Systems is similar and will only require a few minor tweaks depending on what you’re using.
We’ll also be following the process for setting up as a VPN because I’ve done it so many times for other people I’m really familiar with the system.
But, again, you’ll find the process quite similar regardless of your provider.
Step #1: Download Your VPN Tool
As I said earlier, I highly recommend IPVanish for this. It’s the tool I personally use for all of my VPN needs.
But if you already have a tool in mind, go ahead and find the download page for that.
That’ll prompt you download and install a .exe file so you can run the VPN software from your desktop. Alternatively, if you’ve downloaded a browser-only VPN, it’ll add to your extensions.
When prompted be sure to make sure the VPN has permissions to make changes to your computer. This is what will allow you to mask or change your location and IP address.
Remember this is a security focused program, so don’t be worried about letting it have access.
Step #2: Get To Know The Basics Of The Tool
Once downloaded the program should load on its own. And will probably do so every time you start your computer from here on out (unless you set it to do otherwise).
In the first tab, the Dashboard tab, It’ll show you all the details about your current VPN connection (if you are connected)-
In the next tab you’re going to find a list of all the available servers through IPVanish.
They can be ranked in different orders such as Ping time and the order they were used last.
If you don’t touch them, they’ll be ranked in order of distance from your location.
You can also select which location you would like to connect to via a zoomable map-
In the fourth tab, Settings, you can access all of the settings for your IPVanish tool.
You can take a look here and see if there are any changes you want to make. But, should you need to change any settings I’ll let you know throughout this article.
Okay, once you’ve taken a tour of the tool, it’s time to make your IP vanish. (See what I did there?).
#3: Mask Your IP Address
Now is time to get connected! This is really simple.
Just press the grey ‘Off’ button in the top right corner or the green ‘Connect’ button in the bottom right corner and you’ll be connected instantly-
And that is all there is to it!
Your internet connection is now encrypted, secure and protected against hackers or people trying to hijack your passwords.
What I really love about the IPVanish tool is that you can choose from so many different servers, locally and internationally.
For example, if you’re based in New York, but you want to help an SEO client boost their local listings in Chicago, you can head to a Chicago server and see what’s happening there.
Just double click on any of the servers to be connected instantly!
5 Fun Things You Can Do With Your New VPN
Once you have your VPN up and running, you can use it for some really cool different things, too.
If you want to catch up on your favourite TV, get cheaper plane tickets and hack YouTube, then you’re going to want to pay attention to this section.
#01: Stream Your Favorite TV Shows From Anywhere
If you enjoy watching your favorite TV shows online, you’ll often find that they’re geo-blocked.
For example, if you were to try and watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, you’d see this message:
But when you swap your IP Address to show from a UK server, you’ll be able to access all of their programming:
This works if you want to watch TV from other countries, too. You can access programs from anywhere in the world as long as your provider has a server there.
Meaning if you want to get ahead on an American TV show that hasn’t come out where you are yet, you can pretend you’re in the States while you watch it.
However you will find that most free VPN providers throttle video playback and you may experience a lot of buffering, that’s why I use to avoid all of those problems.
#02: Book Cheaper Plane Tickets
Did you know that airfare is often cheaper if you book it from a different country?
Not just because of a currency exchange either (although that helps). It’s been found that airlines will make their fares cheaper in their home country.
For example, , they were able to save anywhere between a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
It makes sense that AirFrance would promote their cheapest fares in France. Swissair in Switzerland. And British Airways in Britain.
Leverage this the next time you’re looking for a long-haul trip.
#03: Immerse Yourself In A Language
Language Learning can be hard when you’re not surrounded by the language each and every day.
But, you can do a virtual immersion by tunneling through a country that speaks the language.
Let’s say you’re learning German. By setting your VPN to Germany, Switzerland or Austria, you’ll be able to see German Language results through search engines. (For some you may need to swap your settings).
This’ll also give you access to other language perks, like YouTube. If you go on there and look at the Trending section you’ll find all the top videos in the language:
So you can be sure you’re getting every exposure to the language without any additional effort.
No excuses to not practice now, eh?
#04: Use Spotify While You Travel
Spotify has been part of my everyday life for a while. But it’s not available in every country, which sucks when you’re traveling.
Having a VPN can allow you to jump back to a country where it is available and access all of your favourite tracks.
Alternatively, if it’s not allowed in your country, you can use a VPN to gain access to a country where it is available.
#05: Unlock Hidden YouTube Videos
YouTube has become pretty crafty in recent years. Instead of showing you a video and then telling you it isn’t available in your country, the results just no longer show up.
I discovered this once when I was desperately searching for a video to show a friend while I was abroad. And, it was only when I returned home that I found it to show to them again.
For example, if I search for BBC through YouTube on my local servers, I get this result that doesn’t show too much:
But if I search for it through an English VPN server, I’m able to see many more results and the geo-blocked videos become available to watch:
If you’re really looking for something that is specific to a country – or that you know is only allowed in that country – set up your VPN to bypass it and take you to where you (virtually) need to be.
How To Use A VPN For Digital Marketing
The biggest benefit of having a VPN as a digital marketer is that you’re able to mask your location.
If you’re an experienced marketer, your head might already by bubbling with ideas about what you can do once you have this ability.
But if you’re new to the marketing game, you might not be so sure. If that’s you, don’t worry, because we’re going to go through what that means right now.
We’re going to look at this from two different perspectives:
- An SEO Professional (or Agency)
- An Affiliate Marketer
I’d suggest you read both sections because the two aren’t completely exclusive. But, if you’re in a rush, jump to the section that fits you best.
How SEO Professionals Can Use A VPN
No two users have the same search experience.
While there are similarities, there will always be exceptions and differences that are tailored to whoever is searching.
And these differences are intensified the further from your location you go.
Even if you search for the exact same keyword, you’ll often find a completely different set of results. For example, if I route my VPN through London and search for plumbers I get this result:
And if I then route it through a server in Canada, I get this result:
This creates a problem if you are, for example, a London based SEO agency working with a client in Toronto that wants to improve their local SEO rankings. Why?
Well this difference in rankings makes it hard for you to track the local listings effectively. Because, even if you were to search through Google.ca you’d never see an accurate result.
A VPN is the magic bullet to solve this problem.
Your VPN tells the search engine that you are, in fact, in that location and are making the same searches a local person would.
It’s like being an Undercover Cop, only with less risk of death or going Donnie Brasco.
You can then forge a better educated and more effective SEO campaign based on more accurate data.
And, you can see local paid advertising listings, too. If your client asks for some help on the paid advertising side of their business, you can again, use a VPN to assess the situation and make educated decisions related to ad copy and targeting.
Okay, that’s a VPN from the perspective on an SEO, now let’s look at how Affiliate Marketers can best make use of it.
How Affiliate Marketers Can Benefit From A VPN
Being active in affiliate markets around the world can really help to boost your income. And, it’s not often something you think about.
If you take a look below, you’ll see that there are some big international affiliate markets outside of the USA:
Having a VPN can allow you to tap into income streams, and find offers, that would usually be hidden from you.
For example by using a VPN, Colin Klinkert, the owner of , has been able to create niche sites in France and rank them with ease, without being fluent French.
He was able to target people and create an income stream from an otherwise closed-off market.
And you can benefit from the same tactics.
Using the tips from the SEO section above, as well as being able to:
- Analyse different landing pages
- Look for country-specific affiliate offers
- Network with top affiliates in different countries
- View local advertising and creative banners
Because VPNs cause ‘local’ creatives to trigger, you’re now also able to work out which marketing angles you should use for this international audience.
Different nationalities tend to respond to different styles of marketing. The approach that works in one country, won’t necessarily work in another – even if the offer is virtually similar. So you can also ‘hack’ copywriting in that respect.
Using a VPN you can see the creatives shown to the local audience, and then easily break down what approaches you need to take, so that your creatives resonate with the audience you’re going after.
VPNs also help you deal with the challenges associated with reviewing international landing page offers. It may be the case that your affiliate network provides you with the ability to run international offers.
However, the actual company behind the offer might only want traffic from specific locations to see that landing page– and so they may automatically redirect people trying to view the landing page from the ‘wrong’ location.
Odds are, you want to see a landing page before sending traffic to it – even if there is data suggesting that the page is producing great results. But with the redirect being active, it’s hard to do this.
If you have access to a VPN, you can mask your location and view the landing page as if you belong to the target audience.
Now you can check out the landing page, and see if it’s any good.
On a slightly unrelated note, it’s also worth noting that a VPN can help you manage multiple accounts more easily too.
If you find that is easier to manage your affiliate marketing efforts, with the help of multiple accounts, then you can essentially use a VPN to help you with this. It helps you do this by masking your I.P.
For example, you can sign up to all of with a VPN.
If I try to access from my current location then I just get redirected to a blank white screen-
But if I enable the VPN and connect to a UK server I see this-
That’s the nuts and bolts of how you can use the tool for Marketing.
How A VPN Secures Your Digital Marketing Activity
If you’re working while traveling, say in a cafe or airport, there is a possibility of a hacker being nearby.
They can easily gain access to sensitive information – think bank details, client accounts, and sensitive documents – through those public networks.
The encryption (you can see a diagram of how that works below) keeps it safe.
But it also helps if you’re active in the Marketing (or any) community. If you’re commenting on forums, or something similar, people may be able to track your other online activities using your I.P. address.
Using that information, they might be able to negatively impact your campaigns.
With a VPN, however, people can only really identify server locations, and not your actual IP address, making it easier to hide your footprints.
It is also worth mentioning that a VPN will help protect you from getting banned if you’re frequently visiting particular websites.
That’s because security systems can sometimes ban your IP if you’re sending too many server requests – with a VPN you’re less likely to trigger such an event.
This makes it easier to conduct research activity, without raising any ‘red flags’ that could damage your ability to run campaigns.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, by now you’ve got a clear idea of how a VPN can help you be safer on the internet and give you brilliant SEO and Affiliate benefits.
But, just to be sure, here’s a quick recap of everything that we covered…
- What is a VPN? A VPN is a private network that keeps you safe online by using encrypted, safe to use, servers.
- Which is the best VPN? is my personal favorite and the only VPN that I recommend.
- Are there good free VPNs available? is a good fee VPN, but I strongly suggest you use a paid service.
- What are the Digital Marketing benefits? Not only does it keep your business data safe online, but you can also create more accurate SEO campaigns and find new affiliate offers.
- What other fun stuff can you do? Stream TV and Music from blocked locations. Find cheaper airfare. And, use it to help you learn a language.
Now, over to you!
How do you use a VPN to make yourself safer online?
Have you discovered any fun stuff you can do with it?
Let me know in the comments…
was originally published on
Take a minute to imagine getting a new client.
You’ve worked hard to get to that stage, and now you’re ready to sign the contract.
Then the new client stops you in your tracks with these words:
OK, I’m ready to have you do your thing for me. But you’ll need to pay me first.
You look at them, surprised, wondering if you heard them right.
So you ask the obvious excuse me, and receive this reply:
You’ll have to pay me first. If you want to work for me, you’ll need to pay me. If you don’t want to work for me, that’s fine—I have options where you can pay me for the honor of me asking you instead.
You shake your head incredulously and wonder when your expertise became whittled down to you having to pay to do the thing you were invited to do in the first place.
Not according to the organizers at the Social Shake-Up Show, one of many social media conferences being held in Atlanta later this year.
Speaker or Sponsor?
I received an email from one of the event’s organizers, asking me if I was interested in speaking.
Or at least, I thought I did.
Turns out, it wasn’t quite that simple.
Here’s the body of the email:
Are you interested in speaking at the 2017 Social Shake-Up Show on May 22-24 in Atlanta?
500+ decision-makers will be in attendance, so it’s the perfect platform to discuss your latest product or to display thought leadership in front of a forward-thinking social media community.
Standing at the podium and delivering a powerful message in front of your peers validates the countless hours that you and your team put in at the office.
Our agenda is filling up quickly and I thought you might be interested in taking one of the remaining spots.
These open speaking spots are reserved for Social Shake-Up sponsors, so email me directly if you’d like pricing details.
Along with the speaking opportunity, you’ll receive all the benefits of being a Social Shake-Up sponsor.
If you’re interested, please contact me as soon as possible, as rates for our speaking spots increase after Jan. 20.
Let’s Break that Down, Shall We?
The introductory paragraph is nice enough.
It tells me about the event, and that 500+ decision-makers will be in attendance.
Although, in fairness, my five-year-old daughter and six-year-old son make decisions every day.
Like how much mud to roll in and how many times they can fit poop into a sentence at dinner time, so maybe that’s not such a selling point after all.
Then it goes on to sell me on presenting myself as a *cough* to these important people.
So far, so good.
The second paragraph is where it gets fun/confusing/painful, depending on your point-of-view.
Standing at a Podium
To recognize all the hard work I’ve put in, honing my craft, building my expertise, and keeping me and my team in the office while our children are growing up and our lives are disappearing around us, I get to STAND AT A PODIUM!!!!!
See how excited I was by this revelation?
I had to use all caps to get the gravity of that offer in full.
A PODIUM. A REAL-LIFE PODIUM!!!!
Well call me Shirley and pour me a double!
Never mind the gratitude of clients, peers, or bosses for any successful project or undertaking—a podium is where it’s at!!!
After that bombshell, I could hardly wait to see what more this event could possibly offer me.
I mean, a frickin’ podium!!!
Sponsor the Event
Onto paragraph three….
Wait, what’s this?
You want me to sponsor your event, and that will let me get to the podium?
Can’t I just bring my own podium?
So…to be clear…one of the organizing/sponsorship team for the event invites me to speak, but not as a speaker.
Instead, it’s as a sponsor, and by sponsoring the event I’ll get to be a “speaker” (albeit at a podium)?
Well, of course, I had to reply…
So, just to clarify—you want me to speak at your event but I have to pay to do so?
On top of, undoubtedly, paying my own expenses for hotel and flight?
And the “benefit” of this is I get to “stand at a podium”?
Is the podium a time machine, like the Doc’s DeLorean?
Because then I could see value in your proposal.
Or is it like that podium from the original Police Academy, because that looked like a rewarding podium!
Perhaps you meant possum?
I’m a firm believer that possums make for great photo opps, so I could see the benefit there. Though I think you might have meant “stand beside a possum,” as opposed to at.
Anyhoo… Please advise if any of these scenarios are true.
Otherwise, I’ll have to decline before I have a laughter-inflicted hernia due to the ridiculousness of your “proposal”.
Yours in eagerness (especially about the DeLorean!),
Someone Who Places More Value on Time, Expertise and Knowledge Than a Pay-to-Play Podium Slot
Or, in the immortal words of Mary Poppins:
Why do you always complicate things that are really quite simple?
You Say Exposure, I Say Tell My Kids Why They’re Hungry
There’s a commonly-held belief that exposure is a wonderful way to avoid paying for expertise.
This can usually be seen in two forms:
- Write for something such as The Huffington Post and be rewarded with thousands of eyeballs and impressions, thereby driving traffic back to your own blog.
- Speak at an event (after paying for your own travel and accommodation costs) to get in front of peers and potential clients.
Or, you can go the Social Shake-Up route and make people pay to be a sponsor in lieu of giving them a speaking slot.
The first two are crappy enough.
The Huffington Post was bought for $315 million in 2011, and brought in $146 million in ad revenue in 2014.
Yet their business model is to get the majority of its writers to produce content for free, in exchange for eyeballs on their content.
Events—especially social media conferences—charge upwards of a few hundred dollars to attend, to almost $2,000, and beyond.
They have a bunch of sponsors, and they generally have anywhere from a few hundred one-day attendees to several thousand during the course of two to three days.
And yet, they’ll only pay the “top-tier” speakers.
But then you have the Social Shake-Up approach.
There are many reasons it’s wrong, and—to me, at least—unethical.
It’s Totally Wrong
But here are the core ones:
- Speaking for exposure does not pay the bills. While the event organizers no doubt make money or get paid, as do some of the speakers (you have to assume), the rest are out in the cold, paying almost a thousand bucks for a flight, a few hundred bucks for a hotel, and then food and drinks on top. This, despite tickets for the event range from $700 to $1,800, and are non-refundable to boot. All for the promise of getting in front of “decision-makers.”
- Advertising on your site that “…speakers are carefully vetted and will deliver on the promise to share the strategies and tactics that have truly shaken up the ecosystem.” How carefully vetted can they be when they’ve paid to appear? It immediately devalues the promise of earth-shattering learnings.
- Speaking of paying, every speaker who does that now becomes a sponsor. Which allows the event to sell more sponsorships with the pitch, “Sponsorships are filling up quickly.” Sorry, no, they’re not—they’re being filled up by people sold what is essentially an empty promise.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
Some Social Media Conferences DO Get it Right
There are some fantastic social media conferences that not only deliver value but treat their speakers with the respect they deserve and pay them for their time and expertise.
These are the ones you should support, and the ones I don’t mind attending.
The other ones?
The ones that are essentially saying, “Hey, come stand in a room and get 15-20 minutes to talk to people who will probably never give you work no matter how awesome you think your talk is”?
I’m going to keep my money from these guys.
Instead, I’m going to invest it in the work I know I get respected and paid for, and spend it on the family I do that work for.
And you can shove that up your stupid podium.
A version of this first appeared on .