Scribe is a powerful SEO WordPress plug-in that promises to help content writers look at their writings from the perspective of a search engine.  Does Scribe SEO work, and if so is it a cost-effective solution?  It very well could be, but there is one thing that has to be said before we get into the heart of what Scribe SEO offers.

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KnowEm Logo

KnowEm Logo

KnowEm is a service that offers the tantalizing promise of being able to take control of your (or your company’s) social networking image through signing up on hundreds of social networking sites.  Does KnowEm work well?  It actually does, but there are a few things that it could do a little bit better that would make it an absolute must-have service.  That does not mean that KnowEm isn’t a must-have service right now, but before we get too far there is one thing that KnowEm should really be able to do but does not.
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BrandGoLive's Logo

BrandGoLive's Logo

BrandGoLive has an interesting idea to bring to the market: mass-automatic social network signups.  Of course, BrandGoLive does a little more than large scale social network registration, but that is their core competency.  Why would anyone want to be automatically signed up for hundreds of social networks?  That is an interesting question, and it actually has a very good answer: brand protection.

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If your business is in the need of powerful e-mailing solutions complete with tons of integrated features, then you might be in the market for a genuine simian, or a MailChimp to be more precise.  Ok, the name is a little goofy to be sure, but MailChimp actually offers a broad range of features and even some very powerful options that are so easy to use that a monkey could probably handle them.  Before covering any of MailChimp’s features, there is one point that needs to be made: MailChimp’s user interface is probably its best asset, but it could also be its Achilles heel.

The User Interface

Nice user interface

Nice user interface

MailChimp’s user interface is very easy to use for almost anything that anyone would want, and it is well organized.  The problem is that once one has looked through the options to try to find something, they may look again and again only to realize that perhaps there is a feature that MailChimp does not offer.  This is not so common anymore, as MailChimp has been continually upgraded, but if one has obscure needs that are literally make or break, then they might be out of luck…though there is a caveat to that as well.

The major caveat is that there are a few other services that MailChimp can export to, and those in turn offer other features.  This actually makes MailChimp very flexible even if this strength maybe be borne from a potential weakness.

Templates

The best thing that can be said about MailChimp’s options has to be its countless templates and power yet easy to use editor.  Not only can amazingly good looking e-mails be created in a snap, with or without the help of templates, but those e-mails can be managed as part of a greater campaign directly from MailChimp’s slick user interface.  Add to this the fact that MailChimp now offers strong social media integration, and it would seem as if the actual e-mail aspect of MailChimp is its strongest point, but that strong point is only as good as that which backs it up: the e-mail tracking and analytics.

Analyzing Results With a Monkey on Your Shoulder

While the whole process starts with creating mailing lists and generating e-mails, it is the returns that are worth looking at.  MailChimp is actually a gorilla by these standards, with an easy to read and interpret set of statistics that can be exported to an Excel file.  Basic statistics include opened, bounced, unopened, and the click rate, all of which are measured both in raw numbers as well as in statistics.  Google Analytics can be easily integrated into any e-mail campaign, which further enhance the statistics tracking functions of MailChimp.  Twitter tracking is also a very useful feature, but the bounce detection feature probably deserves a little more attention.

Tracking stats

Tracking stats

Messages bounce for a few reasons, but often they do so as the result of an individual who does not properly unsubscribe.  In fact, individuals may try to ‘bounce’ messages in order to hide from e-mail marketing campaigns, but MailChimp uses some clever algorithms to determine which messages are bounced by servers and which are bounced by individuals.  Timing is everything, and our in-house tests seem to show that MailChimp makes some pretty good decisions when it comes to bounced messages.  In fact, MailChimp does a great job of cleaning lists up in general, which can really help one increase the efficacy of their e-mail marketing campaign.

Free or Pay

MailChimp offers a free account and pay-for services.  The free account is limited to 500 subscribers and 3,000 e-mails per month, but it certainly is enough to give one a good idea of whether or not MailChimp is going to meet their needs.  Pay-as-you-go plans are based on credits, and can be recharged in amounts ranging from $9 to $2,500.  With a free account capable of 3,000 e-mails per month, there are only a few reasons why anyone would want to opt for a pay-as-you-go plan such as the ability to send irregularly scheduled large volumes of e-mails to a list larger than 500 recipients.  High-volume plans start at $380 per month, but that allows one a monthly volume of 600,000 e-mails and up to 75,000 subscribers.  The highest tier plan is $690 per month and that offers twice the number of subscribers (now up to 150,000) and twice the monthly volume (now up to 1.2 million e-mails) for far less than half the monthly fee.

With plenty of affordable options and a free plan, it really does not make sense for anyone to skip over MailChimp.  The service continues to evolve, which means it is only likely to get better with time.  Grab your free MailChimp account today and see if this is the right mail monkey for your needs.

SEO Moz offers a familiar promise to potential users: a suite of tools that will check a website for errors and possible search engine optimizations, as well as another set of keyword/phrase tools.  Many packages offer either error checking/content analysis or the keyword research tools, but few offer effective tools that handle both types of tasks.  Does SEO Moz deliver, or does it simply serve up too many promises to actually have any hope of meeting them?
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