Four Things You Can Do with Jetpack’s Activity Log

Owning a website is just like any other multi-part project, whether it’s teaching a class of students, running a household, or managing a business: the more you know about what’s happening, the better you can keep things operating safely and smoothly. 

People count on your site to deliver important information, indulge them with a moment of levity, or provide access to products for sale. If you run a business, your employees rely on it for their livelihood. But how can you keep track of everything happening on your site? If a change is made, would you know who made it? If there’s an error, how do you know what caused it?

Transparency is critical, which is exactly why we created the Jetpack activity log, a complete record of everything that happens on your site.

It’s like a parent who has eyes in the back of their head. But instead of focusing on control, it empowers you with the knowledge needed to fix errors, improve procedures, respond quickly to urgent matters, and protect your stakeholders.

What types of changes does the activity log record?

The activity log stores a variety of actions, including:

  • Changes to images, comments, plugins, menu items, themes, pages, and posts
  • Details about backups
  • User logins in and logouts 
  • Contact form submissions (if you’re using Jetpack’s contact form)
Jetpack Activity log

You can also view the time and date each action took place, along with who performed it. View a complete list of recorded data.

Let’s take a look at four ways to use this information:

1. Troubleshooting website issues

If your website breaks or goes down, it can be difficult to identify the cause. Troubleshooting often requires a time-consuming guessing game to figure out what happened, much less find a solution. And when every minute your site is down loses you money or subscribers, you don’t have time to waste! The activity log takes the guesswork out of site debugging.

When something goes wrong, use the activity log to review what happened and determine the cause. See if you or one of your users deleted a plugin, edited a line of code, or updated something just before your website broke — there’s the culprit.

Jetpack’s activity log is trusted by agencies like FreshySites, which uses Jetpack to manage over 1,200 websites. With hundreds of clients depending on them, they rely on the activity log to provide valuable information and speed up the debugging process.

2. Restoring backups

If there’s a problem with your site — a plugin conflict, code error, hacker, or a variety of other causes — you need to restore a backup as quickly as possible. The activity log works seamlessly with real-time backups so you can restore your website to the point right before the error, even if you can’t log into your WordPress dashboard.

One click website restore from Jetpack Backup

Simply navigate to your activity log, find the event at the point you’d like to restore to, and click the button to restore. This is especially valuable for eCommerce sites or blogs with regular updates, because you minimize the risk of losing your hard work or any valuable order information.

In the activity log, you can also find detailed updates on your automated backups and whether there are any errors.

3. Stopping hackers in their tracks

If your site is hacked, you want to know right away to prevent downtime and stolen information. But how?

Use the activity log to keep an eye on updates and changes, and know exactly when something takes place that you didn’t perform or authorize. Watch out for login attempts, plugin and theme deletions, settings modifications, and page updates. If you spot something suspicious, you can react right away.

This feature works hand in hand with Downtime Monitoring, which alerts you any time your site goes down. In the activity log, find out exactly when it went down, how long it was down, and which action took place right beforehand.

By using these two tools together, you can be the first to know about site issues and fix them before your visitors realize what happened. 

4. Confirming that website tasks are completed

You might have multiple team members or contractors working on your website. Perhaps they’re responsible for blogging, maintenance, design, or customer service — how do you know they’re doing their jobs without constant check-ins?

One glance at the activity log takes care of this. Find out:

  • If blog posts from your content marketing team are ready for your review.
  • If your employee is responding to comments.
  • If plugin and theme updates are being performed regularly.
  • If your web designer is making the page changes you requested.

You can also check your site activity — and even restore your site when traveling — using the WordPress app.

Stay on top of your site:

Tracking website activity keeps your site healthy and functional, which is critical for growth and success. The activity log allows you to stay on top of your users and their actions (including your own!) so you can make sure everything is running smoothly, prevent any issues, and restore backups if needed.

Don’t ever be in the dark about your website again. With the free version of Jetpack, you can  see the 20 most recent site events, while paid plans show you every activity in the past 30 days or in the last year. 

Get started with the Jetpack activity log.

How Jetpack Backup Saved the Day for a Community Bookshop in the UK

A “Whodunnit?” that (almost, but not really) rivals Jack the Ripper 

The Sevenoaks Bookshop in England is about as far from a Barnes & Noble or Amazon as you can get. 

This diminutive shop was founded just a few years after the end of World War II. Located in a quaint village town of rolling hills and wetlands 20 miles south of London, the Sevenoaks Bookshop has been a center of learning, community, and bookishness ever since. The shop publishes a quarterly magazine created by local children, puts on an annual literary event, hosts a writer’s group, and even runs a cafe in the shop where locals can socialize. 

(The shop’s emblem — a charming woodcut of an open book framed by seven oak leaves — was designed by a printmaker named Robert Ashwin Maynard. Robert was the student of a famous artist named Walter Sickert, who may or may not have been Jack the Ripper! But that’s neither here nor there.)

SevenOaks shop artwork

This is the story of Sevenoaks’ webmaster, Oli, who uses Jetpack for the shop’s WordPress site. And while this tale may not be as famous as Jack the Ripper, it’s still good stuff.

Eight years ago, when Oli first joined Sevenoaks to do all-around tech support, they had a one-page HTML website that was made on FrontPage. “It was gray on gray on gray with a little bit of blue,” Oli said. “We eventually got them onto WordPress about five years ago.”   

Oli, tech support for Sevenoaks bookstore

A former DJ and sound technician, Oli came across Jetpack while helping some of his musician friends build a site (a high-energy, alternative Celtic Gypsy band, in case you want to have a listen). But it was only during the relaunch of Sevenoaks that Oli decided to get Jetpack Backup. 

It was the first site he worked on for which he licensed and paid for Jetpack. But because Sevenoaks was the most high-profile, highly-trafficked site he managed, he decided to spring for it. “I kind of had this panic when we went live with the site. We’d had hosting issues previously and I’m an infrastructure guy — you need backups that you can restore quickly. Jetpack was having a sale and I just thought, you know what? For a year, I’m happy to buy that. I can prove to Sevenoaks how useful it is and then they can take on the payment next year,” Oli said. “It was one of those safety net-type things and within a couple of weeks, I found a reason to use it — the site broke.”

While it wasn’t a whodunit on the level of Jack the Ripper, the investigation into the crash did yield a culprit: a previous developer who’d written a suite of extensions for WooCommerce. 

“The extensions weren’t created with the most modern coding technique, shall we say,” Oli said. “It had breaking changes and incompatibilities with other WooCommerce extensions, which caused the site to go down.”

“Real-time backups absolutely give the client the peace of mind that no matter what, they can get out of jail.”

Oli, tech support for Sevenoaks Bookstore

It was time for a restore, but Oli joked that it wasn’t quite the calm, easygoing situation he would have liked to describe to us. “It was quite amusing. There was a moment of panic. But after I settled down, it took just one click to restore. It was a great interface and it did the job,” he said. “Backup saved my bacon really quickly.”

The incident gave him a great first use case to convince Sevenoaks to renew the plan the next year.

“Real-time backups absolutely give the client the peace of mind that no matter what, they can get out of jail. And it gives me peace of mind that no matter how many technical changes I’ve had to make, I can revert back to the last major thing.”

Oli’s biggest worry was losing an order. Sevenoaks sells tickets to literary events on the site and recently launched a new eCommerce store to sell books, digital gift cards, and subscriptions. The stakes were high because the shop is a true center of community in the town.

Sevenoaks Shop and Staff
Sevenoaks shop and staff

“They’re really invested in the learning of the next generation,” he said. “They’re trying to be forward-thinking. They’re a little shop putting up a fight against the Amazons of the world.”

Oli, who manages several other sites and has a full-time job in Fintech, said Jetpack offers a toolkit of features that gives him confidence that the site is safe and secure. Asked which features he rates most highly, he mentioned the WordPress.com dashboard, which gives him the ability to keep his eyes on multiple sites at once. 

The Stats feature is also a plus — Oli uses it instead of Google Analytics.

“The client is traditionally anti-“Big Three” — Amazon, Facebook, Google; we try not to give them too much free data. So to have an alternative to Google Analytics is nice.”

He’s also a fan of automatic plugin updates and uses brute force protection to stave off hacks and attacks. And Oli mentioned the benefit of notifications that keep him up to date about vulnerabilities and site downtime.

At the end of the day, Oli chose Jetpack because the toolkit is managed by Automattic, “In the back of my head, you guys are a trusted name. I know there’s a proper development team behind Jetpack. It’s not just one or two guys making up their minds about what they’re going to work on. There’s a proper product roadmap and it’s a proper company, so I trust the services it delivers.”

Why You Should Trust Your Site to Jetpack Backup

Backups are a critical aspect of website management. They protect your files and customer data, as well as all the hard work and money you’ve invested in your site. Who will you trust with your data? There are a lot of options out there. 

Jetpack Backup is incredibly user friendly — you can restore your website, even if you can’t log into your WordPress dashboard, in a few clicks — but ease of use isn’t everything. How do you know that your data is safe, secure, and available when you need it? Let’s take a look at why Jetpack Backup is a reliable solution.

Jetpack Backup is supported by a team of experts

Automattic, the creator of Jetpack and WordPress.com, has been backing up websites for ten years. Jetpack Backup isn’t a generic solution: it was created specifically for WordPress and is used by WordPress.com to back up all of their top-tier business and eCommerce sites. 

“That’s hundreds of thousands of sites,” Steve Seear, Code Wrangler and Team Lead at Automattic noted, “And the backup technology has been specifically developed with those sites in mind. It’s something that we use ourselves.” 

That’s right: it’s so reliable that Automattic uses it for their own customers. 

“Our support engineers are experienced with all kinds of security incidents. These are the kinds of problems they work on every day.”

Steve Seear, Jetpack code wrangler, Team Lead

Jetpack also includes unrivaled support from WordPress experts. Since Jetpack offers additional security features — downtime monitoring, brute force attack protection, and security scanning, which often prevent the need to restore a backup in the first place — their support team knows how to handle any issue that might arise on your site. If your site is hacked and you reach out to support, they can provide guidance on tightening security in addition to helping you restore a backup. 

“Our support engineers are experienced with all kinds of security incidents. These are the kinds of problems they work on every day. They’re very good with advice and support around any kind of security incident, even if you’re not paying for a security product,” Seear explained.

Jetpack Backup stores files off site in multiple, secure locations

You shouldn’t rely only on backups provided by your host because they’re stored on the same server as the site itself. “If your host is having technical problems and your site goes down, you may not even get to export your site to another host,” Seear points out.

Getting started with Jetpack Backup

With Jetpack, backups are stored in multiple places so, if you have a problem, you can clone your site somewhere else. The first is an Automattic data center in the U.S. — the same data center that hosts all Automattic sites, including those hosted on WordPress.com. “That’s the kind of care we take. It’s our entire business,” Seear says. For redundancy, an additional, encrypted backup is sent to a separate server, so there are two levels of protection:

  • Encryption converts your data into a secret code to keep your information (and your customers’ data!) safe from prying eyes.
  • Redundancy means that the same data is held in multiple locations — in this case, your website files are stored on two different servers, so your backup has its own backup. If anything happens to one set of data, Jetpack can still restore your site. 

The off-site backups are kept in a completely different place than the rest of your website files, so if your server goes down or is hacked, you still have a clean backup. This also means that if your site is inaccessible, you can restore a full backup without having to know any complicated code. “No matter what kind of problem you run into, Jetpack has your back,” Seear says. 

Jetpack Backup offers both daily and real-time options

Since every business and website’s are different, a reliable backup solution should offer options that let you pick the right fit for your needs. Jetpack Backup offers two timing options:

  • Daily backups are performed automatically, once a day, and are a great solution for sites that don’t change very often. 
  • Real-time backups are saved every time an action takes place — an updated page, purchased product, added comment, and other changes you don’t want to lose. These are particularly useful for eCommerce websites that don’t want to miss out on a single transaction or blogs that publish new posts regularly.

“Real-time backups are really useful because you can just skip back to a recent change,” Seear says, “It’s almost like a development tool for your site. If you make a change you don’t like, revert to a recent change point.”

Jetpack Backup one-click restore

That’s exactly how WordPress agency FreshySites uses Jetpack Backup for the 1,200 websites they manage. Their founder, Ben, told us that, “Our developers use backups all the time. It’s a one-click way to return to where we were before things got wonky. It gives us a little emergency parachute needed during development. If we’re working on a customization that breaks everything, we lose minutes, not hours.”

Jetpack Backup values your data and privacy

Your website is your passion and your livelihood, and protecting that is serious business. If your credit card expires or doesn’t go through, your backups don’t disappear; there’s a long grace period during which you can still restore your site. If you cancel your account and — as things often happen when we least want them to — your website is hacked the next day, the support team will still be able to help you get back up and running.

That being said, if, for any reason, you do want your information and backups permanently erased, Jetpack can do that, too. Jetpack and parent company Automattic take data privacy very seriously and operate in full accordance with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which you can learn even more about here.

Trust your site to Jetpack Backup

Jetpack Backup is trusted by individuals, businesses, and agencies to protect their files and private data. You can’t afford to choose the wrong backup solution for your most important information; choose the one built for WordPress and backed by Automattic. 

5 Strange Opportunities for Creatives During the Quarantine [PODCAST]

Now is a scary time.

But, in every difficult situation, there are hidden possibilities. In the midst of all the chaos, creatives have unique opportunities.

In this special episode of the “Break Through the Noise” podcast, we’re going to look at those opportunities.

Listen

Where to Subscribe

  • Apple Podcasts
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  • RadioPublic
  • Podbay

How You Can Support the Podcast

Leave us a Review

The more reviews we receive on Apple Podcasts and iTunes, the more listeners we’ll get to reach (thanks to Apple’s fancy algorithm).

If you don’t know how, click here for detailed, step-by-step instructions that’ll show you how to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and iTunes.

Tell Your Friends & Family

Have friends or followers you believe would enjoy the podcast? Here are a couple quick and easy ways to share it with them:

Tweet This Episode:

In every difficult situation, there are hidden possibilities. In this episode of the ‘Break Through the Noise’ #podcast, Jon looks at 5 unique opportunities for creatives during this quarantine. Check it out.Click To Tweet

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The post 5 Strange Opportunities for Creatives During the Quarantine [PODCAST] appeared first on Smart Blogger.

What to Do if You’re Terrified About the Future [PODCAST]

I’d like to speak with you from my heart this week.

I don’t normally talk about current events, but listen:

I’ve had pneumonia 16 times. I’ve also been through so many financial and health crises that I know what it’s like to live in fear.

And so I recorded this special podcast for you.

If you’re scared right now (and who isn’t?), I’d really encourage you to listen to it. Also share it with friends and family.

There’s nothing for sale here. No ulterior motive at all.

My only objective is to help you get through the next few months and come out the other side stronger than ever before.

Listen to the episode, and you’ll see what I mean.

Listen

Where to Subscribe

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Google Podcasts
  • RadioPublic
  • Podbay

How You Can Support the Podcast

Leave us a Review

The more reviews we receive on Apple Podcasts and iTunes, the more listeners we’ll get to reach (thanks to Apple’s fancy algorithm).

If you don’t know how, click here for detailed, step-by-step instructions that’ll show you how to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and iTunes.

Tell Your Friends & Family

Have friends or followers you believe would enjoy the podcast? Here are a couple quick and easy ways to share it with them:

Tweet This Episode:

No content tips or advice in this ‘Break Through the Noise’ podcast episode. Jon discusses COVID-19 and what’s going on in the world. He talks from the heart about fear, crisis, and how to grow stronger in difficult times.Click To Tweet

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Why I’m Spending a Fortune on Facebook Ads During Coronavirus [PODCAST]

Due to the coronavirus, Facebook is seeing a huge drop in ad sales. Businesses, either due to fear or limited funds, are scaling back.

We’re taking a different approach at Smart Blogger. In fact, we’re ramping up our ads, almost tripling our Facebook ad spend.

In this episode of the “Break Through the Noise” podcast, I’m taking you behind the scenes of what we’re doing at Smart Blogger and letting you know why you should consider doing the same thing.

Listen

Where to Subscribe

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Google Podcasts
  • RadioPublic
  • Podbay

How You Can Support the Podcast

Leave us a Review

The more reviews we receive on Apple Podcasts and iTunes, the more listeners we’ll get to reach (thanks to Apple’s fancy algorithm).

If you don’t know how, click here for detailed, step-by-step instructions that’ll show you how to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and iTunes.

Tell Your Friends & Family

Have friends or followers you believe would enjoy the podcast? Here are a couple quick and easy ways to share it with them:

Tweet This Episode:

Facebook is seeing a huge drop in ad sales due to the coronavirus. In this ‘Break Through the Noise’ podcast episode, Jon Morrow talks about why Smart Blogger is TRIPLING its ad spend (and why you might want to do the same).Click To Tweet

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How I Use Facebook Live, Webinars, and Virtual Conferencing Software

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          Many business owners and marketers are being forced to conduct more of their business online, due to the latest health crisis. In some cases, this is a crash course for those who aren’t sure where to start.

I’ve been doing everything online for the life of my business, nearly nine years now. Webinars, Facebook Live, team meetings, social events, and consultations. I’ve tested just about every app and piece of software.

I’m hosting an upcoming training to walk you through all of the specifics regarding how I do it — and how you can do it, too. But, for now, I wanted to share everything I’m currently doing related to virtual conferencing, as well as the various software, hardware, and apps that make it all work.

Note that it’s entirely possible that I could consolidate to use fewer software solutions than I currently do. However, it’s part of my experimental nature that I enjoy understanding how different methods work.

Finally, to be clear: I link to what I’m using in the descriptions below, but none of these are affiliate links. If you end up buying or using any of these solutions, I want it to be because my recommendation wasn’t influenced by whether or not I get a buck in return.

Power Hitters Club – Elite Weekly Webinars

METHOD: Facebook Live to a private Facebook group using Ecamm Live

The Power Hitters Club is my exclusive private membership community. I have streamed more than 300 weekly webinars to the PHC – Elite Facebook group, hitting 300 just a few weeks ago.

In the early days, I used GoToWebinar, and members accessed each weekly webinar from a unique session. Once Facebook Live launched, however, I’ve been streaming these weekly updates live to the PHC – Elite Facebook group.

I tried various solutions to stream these to a Facebook group over the years, but I’ve settled on Ecamm Live (for Mac). I’ve found it to be a very easy solution for streaming my desktop, making it ideal for streaming slides for a webinar.

Ecamm Live is constantly evolving, and also allows for webcams, picture-in-picture, streaming multiple guests from Skype, overlays, greenscreens, and more. But again, I find it’s best for the simple streaming of my desktop for webinars.

It’s also affordable, starting at $12 per month.

Live Interviews on My Facebook Page

METHOD: Facebook Live to my Facebook Page using BeLive

Something I’ve done more of lately is stream live interviews to my Facebook page. I’ve started a regular program called The Shift, where John Robinson and I discuss how consumers, marketers, and business people are shifting during this time.

Every time I host one of these someone asks how I did it. I use BeLive, which is an insanely easy-to-use web app.

Just as I see Ecamm as ideally suited for screen sharing, BeLive shines in split-screen interviews. You can add an image overlay (I use my logo), add text on the screen, and even highlight comments within the stream.

Of course, you can also share your screen, like Ecamm Live. It’s just been a personal preference for me.

BeLive actually offers a free plan, in addition to two different premium plans of $24.99 or $37.50 per month. The premium plans offer much more customization (I have the $24.99 plan), but that may not be needed for everyone.

Something else I’d note is that I often get asked how I add the option to “Get Notified” when the Facebook Live is streaming.

This occurs automatically when scheduling a Facebook Live — I don’t do anything. It’s just done seamlessly using these apps.

Live Paid Training

METHOD: Facebook Live and GoToWebinar

I’ve hosted live training programs about every other month for the past several years. There are two ways someone can access my live training programs, so I reach both groups simultaneously.

First, I use Ecamm Live to reach my PHC – Elite community because one of their benefits as a member is access to all of the training.

But, I also allow people to purchase training access as a stand-alone, so those customers get the training via GoToWebinar.

It’s a bit of a balance streaming to both places at once using both GoToWebinar and Ecamm Live. And I’m sure there are ways that I could do this without using two different pieces of software. But, I’m a creature of habit, and this is what I’ve been doing for a while now.

I’ve been using GoToWebinar for a LONG time, which is one reason I still use it. It’s familiar. It’s stable. It’s predictable. And I know that my customers know how to use it, too.

GoToWebinar allows me to share my screen, post a poll, share handouts, and enable or disable chat. Admittedly, there’s nothing particularly flashy about GoToWebinar. But it’s dependable and familiar, and I do put value in that.

Of course, it certainly ain’t cheap. The Lite version starts at $49 per month, going up to $399 per month for the Enterprise package. I admit, that’s a significant drawback when compared to some of the competition. But, every time I think about switching, I see a reason to stick around. A very big reason for that is stability.

Free Webinars

METHOD: WebinarJam

I’ve conducted countless free webinars as a list builder over the years. For the longest time, I’ve used GoToWebinar. But, as mentioned above, the GoToWebinar price tag may not be worthwhile if a suitable replacement can be found at a fraction of the price. For now, I’ve been experimenting with WebinarJam for my free webinars.

Like BeLive, WebinarJam is a web app, which makes it lightweight and relatively easy to use. Set-up and customizations seem clunkier and more complicated with WebinarJam. But maybe because there simply are more options. I’ve barely started scratching the surface related to options, but my favorite WebinarJam features are the polls, in-stream offers, and goal tracking.

Hosting a webinar itself is pretty easy to do, though I had some initial growing pains. It may have been user error, but my first experiment with WebinarJam was a disaster. People weren’t getting in, and it seemed to be locked up for me, too. After a bit of back and forth with support, it sounds like there was a known outage at the time, and it may have been some dumb luck. I’ve conducted three or four webinars since with no issues.

The biggest benefit of WebinarJam over GoToWebinar is price. You’ll spend from $600 to $4,800 annually for GoToWebinar, but WebinarJam will run you between $499 and $999 per year.

I don’t know how common the problems are that I initially faced with WebinarJam, but it’s something to consider when deciding which way to go. I haven’t moved completely away from GoToWebinar yet because of that dependability, even if the cost is significantly higher. I just can’t risk it when it’s for paying customers.

Weekly Team Meeting

METHOD: GoToMeeting

One adjustment for most businesses going virtual is figuring out a way to communicate with team members. Since my team has always worked virtually, this is nothing new for us.

Every Monday, we meet to discuss our projects and the coming week. We have a persistent GoToMeeting session set up for this. Once again, it’s dependable, easy to use, and not particularly flashy.

We can share screens and webcams with GoToMeeting. People can call in from their computers or from their phones. It’s been convenient.

GoToMeeting starts at $12 per month, but it’s included in my GoToWebinar package. Even if I move away from GoToWebinar, it would be difficult to completely cut the cord on GoToMeeting because of the team calls and what’s coming up next…

One-on-One Virtual Consulting

METHOD: GoToMeeting

I also use GoToMeeting for one-on-one consultations. In the beginning of my business, I conducted these sessions via Skype. But GoToMeeting integrates seamlessly with AppointmentCore, my scheduling software. Once someone books a consultation with me, a new GoToMeeting session is generated.

GoToMeeting does everything I need it to do. We can share webcams if we want. I can have the client share their screen to show me what they’re working on. I can share mine if I want to show them something. I can take over the other person’s screen if they grant it, too.

Not flashy, but it does the job.

PHC – Elite Virtual Happy Hour

METHOD: Zoom

I’m not sure how they did it, but everyone is talking about Zoom right now. Once it became clear that businesses and even schools would need to conduct meetings virtually, Zoom became a popular choice. Good marketing, I guess.

Zoom is software that I’ve been using for the past couple of years to conduct our PHC – Elite Happy Hour virtual get-togethers. These are intended to be casual face-to-face sessions where we all share what we’re doing, strategies we’re trying, and problems we’re facing.

You can have many people participate at once, using webcams and microphones. The mute button will become necessary in big groups!

Set-up can be a little complicated and isn’t all that user-friendly. But the Zoom sessions themselves are easy to conduct, and they’re a lot of fun. I’m actually going to start using Zoom this weekend with a baseball team that I coach, during this period of separation.

Zoom starts with a free package, moving to $14.99 or $19.99 per month (per host). From there, I find the differences between packages and features to be especially confusing, but I’ve been happy with Zoom for my purposes so far. And given so many people are using it, the learning curve for groups should be minimal.

Miscellaneous Hardware, Software, and Applications

Of course, conducting the virtual webinar, Facebook Live, or meeting is just the start. There are several other pieces of hardware, software, and applications that I use to make it all happen. It could be for setting up the session or displaying a polished recording.

1. Blue Yeti Microphone

I’ve used a couple of versions of the Blue Yeti microphone for several years now. It was my first microphone once I started a podcast in the very early days.

It’s a USB mic, meaning that it connects directly to your desktop or laptop via USB connection. Of course, if you have a new Mac like I do, you’ll need an adapter to accept USB.

The price point ($100 to $250) is low compared to pro-grade mics that may not sound all that different to you (I know, the experts will dispute this).

The Blue Yeti is a very popular mic, and I don’t have anything bad to say about it.

2. ScreenFlow

When I host a webinar, I record my screen and mic with Screenflow (a Mac app). I do this for a couple of reasons.

First, the recording generated by the hosting app is often lower quality. If I use Screenflow, I can save it as a larger file at a higher quality.

Also, it acts as a backup. Maybe I’d forget to record it from GoToWebinar, for example. Or maybe the recording would fail.

I also use Screenflow for recording my podcasts. Note that it’s not intended for this purpose since Screenflow is for recording video. But I can export the video file and convert it to an MP3 with…

3. Total Video Converter Lite

Look, I realize I’m not being particularly efficient here. But I’ve used Screenflow for a really long time, and it does the job. And since I use it to record audio files like podcasts or even audio versions of webinars, I need software to convert a video file to a purely audio file.

Whenever I host a webinar or training program, my replay notes will include an option to download the audio. That’s why this is being listed here.

I have the free version of Total Video Converter Lite, and it does exactly what I need it to do.

4. Libsyn

Libsyn is a popular podcast hosting and distribution software. I use it for hosting all of my podcast files, but that’s not really why you’re reading this blog post. As mentioned earlier, I create an audio version of every webinar or training course and embed it on the replay page.

To do that, I need to host that audio file. I use Libsyn for that, and I use the option to “Add File for Download Only” so that it isn’t sent out with my podcast.

5. Fusebox Player

One more step to allowing someone to listen to or download the audio for a webinar is to embed an audio player. I’ve been using Fusebox (originally Smart Podcast Player started by Patt Flynn) for several years now.

6. Google Slides

It’s boring but important. I use Google Slides for presenting the content of my webinars. By using something “in the cloud,” I get easy access to the slides no matter where I am.

7. PDF Embedder

People almost always ask for the slides after a webinar. I export the Google Slides as a PDF and then embed them on the replay page using the PDF Embedder plugin.

8. Infusionsoft

I don’t embed a GoToWebinar or WebinarJam form on my landing pages. I use an Infusionsoft form. It’s my CRM tool of choice (though, does anyone really like their CRM tool?).

9. Zapier

I don’t want to get too far into the technical weeds, but integration and automation are really important. If someone purchases a training from me using an Infusionsoft form, how do I then automatically register that same person for the webinar? I use Zapier.

It’s one of dozens of reasons I use the tool.

10. AppointmentCore

I mentioned it earlier when talking about conducting one-on-one consultations. AppointmentCore integrates with Infusionsoft, my Google Calendar, and GoToMeeting to make my life a whole lot easier.

Your Turn

These are the things I’m using right now. I’ve also used Blue Jeans and Wirecast for conducting Facebook Live sessions, for example. I’ve experimented with a lot of stuff, and what’s listed above is what I trust and use.

I’ll be going into further detail regarding how exactly I use these tools in my upcoming training. I hope to see you there!

Any other thoughts or questions on conducting virtual conferencing? Let me know in the comments below!

The post How I Use Facebook Live, Webinars, and Virtual Conferencing Software appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Difficult Decisions in Difficult Times

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          When should you change your messaging due to a crisis? When should you lower your ad spend or stop advertising entirely due to a drop in advertising effectiveness or overall revenue?

These are questions that many businesses and advertisers are facing right now. COVID-19 is impacting everyone in some way. How we conduct business, how we consume information, what we need, and what we buy are all evolving quickly.

It may be a short-term change, but there are likely to be some long-term impacts as well. If you fail to make an adjustment, you’re likely to fail.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to these difficult questions. Once we get out of this crisis, you should be able to apply these same considerations to the next challenge.

Should You Change Your Messaging?

The first thing we should do as marketers right now is pause. That doesn’t mean it’s a long-term pause. Simply realize that the approach we were previously taking may no longer be appropriate.

Step back, and take a close look at all of your marketing efforts. Look at it from an unbiased perspective. Does this currently make sense? Will it upset people? Should it be changed?

For example, any messaging that assumes or requires people to leave the house may not be appropriate at this time.

Should You Change Your Product Offering?

Some businesses are changing their product offerings as a result of these new challenges. In some cases, stores or restaurants aren’t allowed to serve people, but they are still allowed to be open for pickup or delivery.

These are examples of altering your product offering. But what about a completely new product?

How people consume content is changing. The things that people need right now are different than what they needed just a few weeks ago. How can you serve them?

This crisis has impacted me. I put a pause on plans for my next training course. After giving it some time to think about it some more, I’ve decided to do a new course that’s more relevant in these times.

Many businesses are forced to go virtual, and they may not be comfortable in that space. As a result, my next course will be focused less on Facebook ads and more on live streaming and virtual teleconferencing with webinars and Facebook Live.

Should You Change Your Pricing?

There are so many factors to consider when changing your pricing. It’s something I have struggled with during this time.

Many businesses are being forced to cut costs. Workers are being laid off. Revenues, in many cases, are down.

Are you losing business? If so, bringing down prices may be on the table.

But, there’s another side to this. I recognize the struggle businesses are facing right now. I understand that marketing and education are likely low on the priority list when a business is losing money. What can I do to help them?

I’ve considered lowering prices for a short period of time, less as a way to bring in business and more as a way to be conscious of the struggles that marketers are facing right now. The next course I offer will be $49, a far cry from the $197 price tag for my prior course.

There is a psychological side to pricing, of course, that we can’t forget. I’ve thrown around the idea of a special community for entrepreneurs and business owners during this time. Recognizing budgets will be stretched, I considered a $1 per month trial or initial entry point. That price would go up later.

When I suggested this, I’ve received responses along the lines of, “People don’t respect a $1 product.” This may be true, particularly in normal times. But these aren’t normal times. Everything is on the table.

Should You Alter Your Ad Budget?

There are plenty of theories about the state of Facebook advertising right now. We can assume a few things…

  1. More people are online
  2. Some advertisers are spending less
  3. Some advertisers have stopped entirely

If all of these things are true, the result is more ad inventory. More people to reach and less competition. That should result in a lower cost to reach people (CPM). It may even result in a lower cost per click (CPC).

A recent study by SocialBakers suggests just that.

Here, we see a drop in CPM in North America…

This chart shows a steady drop in CPC among e-commerce brands…

And here we’re seeing a possible drop in ad spend in North America after an initial seasonal drop…

And this chart shows how more people are online now during typical business hours…

The question, though, is whether people are still buying. Their budgets are tightening, in most cases. Is your product essential?

Take a look at your advertising. What results are you seeing? Are you still getting a positive Return on Ad Spend?

It may be time to spend less right now, particularly if your ads simply aren’t as effective as they were before.

Should You Stop Advertising?

When I was laid off nine years ago, my budget was as tight as it gets. I didn’t have a business. I wasn’t making money. But, I was still spending $1 per day.

While that $1 per day likely stretched further in those days, I still encourage you to do something if you can — assuming you can get something out of it. Maybe it’s not a direct sale. Maybe it’s building your email list or driving traffic or engagement. You can leverage these things later.

But, it’s entirely possible that you’re really hurting right now. It’s possible that costs need to be cut and your ads simply aren’t helping you right now.

In that case, it may be necessary to step away for a while. Come back in a few weeks or months and reassess.

Your Turn

What challenges are you facing right now with your business and advertising? How are you addressing these issues?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Difficult Decisions in Difficult Times appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

A Survey of Targeted Facebook Ad Users [Results]

About a month ago, I told you about how you can use Facebook Messenger ads to collect leads. I decided to run my own experiment to survey those I was targeting. The results are pretty interesting!

In this post, I wanted to share the results of that survey and what they mean to me.

The Experiment

First, a quick refresher. I’m running a Facebook ad that sends people into a Messenger conversation.
Facebook Ads Messenger
The goal is to learn more about the people seeing my ad. Within the Messenger portion, I asked the following questions:

  • How advanced do you consider yourself as an advertiser?
  • What’s your monthly Facebook ads budget?
  • What is your role as an advertiser?

I also asked for an email address and used this experiment as a list builder.

I focused my targeting on some of my most active website visitors (top 10% time on my site and those who viewed a minimum of three pages).
Facebook Messenger Ad Survey Targeting
I created two different ad sets, focusing one on specific countries and leaving the other as Worldwide. The five countries in the first ad set are the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

While my website traffic is international, optimization is a tricky thing. If I leave targeting at Worldwide, Facebook will focus on getting results at the lowest cost. But since people are more likely to be a paying customer if they reside in a more “expensive” country, I need to separate them in another ad set.

The campaign has reached more than 20,000 people so far, resulting in about 1,400 survey completions. Let’s take a look at how people responded…

Advertiser Level

The first question I asked: “How advanced do you consider yourself as an advertiser?”

I provided options of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Of course, people could enter something different if they wanted. I’ll discount those results.
Advertiser Level
As you can see in the chart above, advertisers classified themselves as follows:

  • Beginner: 19%
  • Intermediate: 47%
  • Advanced: 34%

This was mostly in line with what I’d expect.

Monthly Facebook Ads Budget

How much someone spends is another way of measuring a person’s Facebook advertising experience. Once again, I provided easy options to put respondents into different buckets.
Monthly Budget
As you can see above, the results break down like this:

  • Nothing: 12%
  • Under $1,000: 31%
  • $1,000 – $10,000: 31%
  • More than $10,000: 26%

Once again, an interesting distribution. Nearly 43% spend either nothing or under $1,000 per month while another 26% spend more than $10,000. That’s a wide variance!

Advertising Role

I was also curious about the roles that people have as an advertiser. Do they simply advertise for themselves? Are they an independent consultant? Do they work for an agency? Knowing this can help me better serve my audience.
Advertiser Role
Advertiser roles break down like this:

  • Marketing/Advertising Department: 20%
  • Ad Agency: 34%
  • Myself Only: 20%
  • Independent Consultant: 26%

Testing Assumptions

We can break this info down further since we can look at how a beginner answers versus someone who is more advanced.

I would assume that those who are beginners will have a lower monthly budget. I also assume that those who advertise for themselves only are less likely to spend as much as other groups.

That’s precisely what I found. More than 88% of those who labeled themselves “beginner” spent nothing or under $1,000 per month on Facebook ads.
Beginner Budget
Similarly, more than 75% of those who only advertise for themselves have a budget of nothing or under $1,000 per month.
Ads for Self Budget
Meanwhile, 73% of those who work for an agency have a monthly budget of at least $1,000. Nearly 40% are spending more than $10,000 per month.
agency-budget

What Does It All Mean?

First, it’s important to remember that those who answered this survey are people targeted in my ads. Those targeted are some of my most active website visitors.

I have long focused entirely on an advanced audience. I create content and products for people spending at least a few thousand dollars per month on ads.

But, this helps me see that there is a relatively large chunk of inexperienced people reading my content, too. This presents an opportunity.

It doesn’t mean I should stop serving the advanced crowd. It means that I can create something for the less experienced crowd with the hopes of helping them become advanced.

That’s exactly why I created the Beyond the Boost training. Based on this data, that appears to be a good move!

Your Turn

Do you have any thoughts on the results of this survey?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post A Survey of Targeted Facebook Ad Users [Results] appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Affiliate Marketing Language Matters

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We’ve changed our lingo for the better. 

Affiliate marketing has been an ever-evolving sector of the ecommerce landscape since the beginning. In fact, the first affiliate marketing website, PC Flowers and Gifts, launched the same year as Amazon–1994. Only four years later, in 1998, ClickBank entered the scene. In the two and a half decades that affiliate marketing has existed, the language used to describe the process and the players has been decided by each individual company as they forge their way into a largely uncharted future. In fewer words, the industry has a lot of words, terms, definitions, and lingo. 

Since many affiliate marketing companies are not the megalith that Amazon is, the industry has not had sufficient consumer involvement to enforce the rhetoric in the front-facing sector of the business. “Google it” became a verb because it was used externally, not just among Google employees and their clients. “HopLink,” “Gravity Score,” and “Pitch Page” will likely never become household names, but for ClickBank clients these terms mean something.

As affiliate marketing, performance marketing, and general ecommerce grow into the future with more sellers and affiliates choosing to pursue earning an income online, Clickbank acknowledges the weight of our influence in the industry and the importance of providing a more modern platform that is easier to use and employs consistent vernacular. This dedication to evolving, in tandem with the progress of the tech industry, has inspired us to retire the terms “whitelist” and “blacklist” from our rhetoric. 

ClickBank previously used these terms in conversations and copy about our affiliate commission programs. Sellers had the option to hand-select affiliates based on their eligibility to promote. This feature was formerly referred to as “whitelisting.” If a seller wished to bar an affiliate from promoting their products, the seller could add the affiliate to a “blacklist,” which meant that the affiliate could no longer promote that seller’s products. While these terms are common across the industry, we’ve found that using them no longer aligns with our commitment to empower all entrepreneurs and help businesses automate and grow. 

These terms will be replaced with more inclusive and straightforward language. A seller’s “whitelist” will now be known as “approved affiliates” and the “whitelist” setting will now be known as “Affiliate Require Approval.” 

The term “blacklist” will be replaced with the phrase “blocked affiliates” and the verb “blacklisting” will be replaced with the phrase “blocked by ClickBank.” 

Not only is this language indicative of an outdated era in the tech industry, our team has determined that the new language is more efficient, easier to translate, and consistent with our values. We look forward to evolving and bettering our company now and in the future, and we challenge our industry partners to do the same.

The post Affiliate Marketing Language Matters appeared first on ClickBank.