We turn to (and rely on) the cloud to handle so much of what we need to do on a daily basis. If you log into a web-based email program like Gmail, you’re using the cloud. If you play a casual game on your smartphone that links up to an online account for updates and player profiles, you’re using the cloud. From the business side of the perspective, getting into this space might feel confusing and intimidating, but what if you could get into cloud computing for free?
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That’s just one of the reasons why SkySilk managed cloud services should be on your radar. And better still, that “free” offer isn’t just for some sort of trial period. They’re offering it for free “indefinitely” with “no strings attached.”
Is It Really Free?
In short, yes, it really is free. When you head over the Custom Cloud Platform page on the SkySilk website, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to sign up for the beta program. This grants you “early access to free cloud resources now” but the sign-up window is only being offered for a limited time. So, yes, you get a 100 percent free Linux VPS while in beta.
All users who sign up for beta will receive one free VPS in exchange for providing feedback and collaborating with the SkySilk team to help them build better products tailored to you. This is a beta, after all, so they’re working out how best to serve their customer base. There are no strings attached and the free VPS comes with free cloud storage, custom cloud resources, and beta member only discounts.
What’s Included with the Free VPS?
Of course, the free virtual private server (VPS) that you receive as a beta member with SkySilk isn’t going to be completely unlimited and astronomical with its spec sheet. But it is perfectly adequate for getting started and is naturally an incredibly exceptional value at a total cost of zero dollars and zero cents. You get:
- 1 VCPU
- 512 MB of RAM
- 25 GB of SSD storage
- 12 Mb/s bandwidth
- 500 GB of monthly data transfer
While the free VPS tier does not include any automatically scheduled snapshots or backups, you can take manual snapshots and backups at any time at no cost to you. The service itself is a container-based Linxus VPS powered by ProxMox VE with triple-replicated SSD cloud storage, pre-distributed file system with Ceph, and enterprise-grade hardware and data center security.
SkySilk takes security very seriously, so you can always rest assured that your data is safe. This includes how payments are processed (credit card information is never stored or seen by SkySilk itself, relying instead on Authorize.net’s Customer Information Manager) and the physical on-site security for the datacenter facilities used by SkySilk.
What If the Free VPS Isn’t Enough?
Your business needs are going to vary, of course, so SkySilk offers at least two different tiers of pricing plans to address these needs. At the more affordable end of the spectrum are the standard paid pricing plans that start as low as $5 per month. Every plan is completely configurable so you can pick and choose the resources that you would like to have at a nominal cost.
For example, scheduled backups with a standard VPS are priced at 10% of your total VPS cost, while scheduled snapshots are priced at $0.02 per gigabyte of SSD storage.
At the next level, you find the premium VPS tier. These plans come with premium support and higher limits on monthly data transfer, bandwidth, and VPS resource use. Again, you pay for the level of service that you desire and SkySilk strives to keep their prices as affordable and as competitive as they can. With premium plans, scheduled backups and scheduled snapshots are included at no additional cost.
Applications and Tools
With the noted exception that you cannot use the VPS for cryptocurrency mining (or illegal operations too, I’m sure), you can utilize your SkySilk VPS for any number of possible usage cases. Indeed, they highlight several different Linux applications and developer tools that are perfectly compatible with the service.
These include well-known solutions like WordPress as a content management system, as well as Ubuntu, CentOS, OwnCloud, SimpleInvoices, Magento, SugarCRM, GitLab, Ruby on Rails, CakePHP and more. The goal is to provide these types of cloud resources so any business or developer can take advantage of and utilize private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud resources as they see fit.
The SkySilk Rewards Program
Wouldn’t it be nice if your hosting provider actually rewarded you for being a customer? SkySilk seems to think so and that’s why they’ve got the SkySilk Rewards Program. Every 100 SkyPoints that you earn are worth one dollar. These SkyPoints are earned on every transaction that you conduct on the site, including bonus offers like 500 SkyPoints just for signing up and 100 SkyPoints each for liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter.
When you’ve reached a minimum threshold of 2,500 points (or a $25 value), you can redeem your SkyPoints for your choice of a Visa gift card, a credit on your monthly statement, or a variety of gift cards from such merchants as Amazon and Best Buy. There is no limit to how many SkyPoints you can earn at a time. Premium VPS customers earn 10X SkyPoints too.
To earn even more SkyPoints, take advantage of the referral program. For every new user that you refer to SkySilk, you get up to 2,500 SkyPoints too. And what’s more, the new users who join via your referral link will also get $25 in SkySilk account credit to get started.
Sign Up For Free Today
You likely will not be offered another opportunity to get a VPS for free any time soon. Many hosting providers might give you a trial period at no cost, but SkySilk’s offer is for an indefinite period of time. You should totally take advantage while you can, as there are no strings attached and you can choose to upgrade to one of the paid pricing plans at any time.
Just head over to the cloud platform page to enter your name and email address. They will require a credit card for security purposes, but you will not be charged anything until you choose to upgrade to a paid service.
Sell More with Omnisend: Ecommerce Marketing Automation for Smart Marketers
Email marketing has withstood the test of time. While other marketing techniques and fads have come and gone, email has remained vigilant. It’s still far and away one of the most reliable and consistent ways to reach your current and potential customers, but generic email marketing platforms may no longer be enough for your business. As a smart marketer, you need a more robust and versatile solution, and that’s where Omnisend can elevate your email marketing to a whole other level.
Ecommerce Marketing Automation
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Let’s be perfectly honest. The reason why you want to be able to reach out to your customers is that you want to drive sales. Brand recognition and site visits are enough. What can you do to actually boost sales figures and improve conversions?
With Omnisend, you gain access to “omnichannel tools for sales-driven marketers that have outgrown the generic email marketing platforms.” So, what does this actually mean? You still get the standard email marketing tools at your disposal, creating and distributing email newsletters to your subscribers, but Omnisend is designed specifically with sales in mind.
If you want to improve your sales figures, you must first gain an understanding of your customers’ shopping behavior. What are they actually doing when they’re on your e-commerce site? Where are the sticking points? Where are the lost opportunities that could be turned around? Omnisend helps you connect those dots with actionable data.
And remember that not all customers are going to be the same. It wouldn’t make sense if you put everyone through the exact same sales funnel. That’d be like trying to use a hammer where a screwdriver is needed. With Omnisend, you get flexible segmentation so that the the messages you send are much more relevant and targeted. Better personalization leads to higher engagement and better conversions. And Omnisend supports both SMS and email too.
Walking Through an A/B Test Campaign
You can use Omnisend to set up a fairly traditional email marketing campaign, pushing out newsletters to promote current offers and deals in your e-commerce store. The same is true with an SMS campaign. To take it just a smidge further, I tried to set up an A/B split test. Basically, this lets you send out two different versions of an email to see which one works the best.
After choosing the A/B test from the available options, I was shown this initial setup screen. You can see all the steps of the easy-to-follow wizard near the top. You can choose to perform a split test based on the email subject line or based on the sender’s name. You enter the corresponding information in the fields below.
As of this writing, there are five standard templates that you can use for your email message. Each of these is easily previewed before you select it.
Filling in the content and customizing the layout is performed through a straightforward WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop type editor. Click on any of the elements to customize them, like adding in your own images. In the case of a product listing, the product name, description, current price, and original price are filled out in the right sidebar rather than in the “live” preview on the left.
It only takes a minute or two to design a professional-looking email, complete with branding and a professional layout that looks great on both desktop and mobile. Here’s a quick mockup I put together with some filler text and images. Then, all you need to do is define your recipients, finalize your A/B settings, and send the email! It’s really, really easy to do.
Automation and Workflows
Perhaps one of the more powerful implementations you’ll find in Omnisend is the automation. These are then organized into workflows that you can customize to fit your particular situation. The welcome email is one of the most basic workflows, but you’ll find that something like the cart recovery workflow can be much more powerful.
You have the customer who visited your site, clearly expressed interest in product, and added the item to the cart, but then left without completing the sale. How can you recover that potential sale? With this automated workflow! The workflow is first triggered by the abandoned cart.
After a one-hour delay, the first email can be sent as a gentle reminder to see if they’re “still shopping.” If they don’t come back to complete the sale, a second email is sent 11 hours later as another reminder. After another 12 hours, a third email is sent with a bit more urgency, telling the customer that they should hurry as their cart “is about to expire.”
You can see exactly how many customers have entered the workflow, are currently in the workflow, and have exited the workflow at any given time. An “exit” is defined as making a purchase or receiving the final follow-up email.
Other workflows include an abandoned cart with just one email, browse abandonment, a 3-email welcome drip, and a birthday email, as well as the opportunity construct your own custom workflow.
With Omnisend, you naturally also have full access to launching new signup forms, reviewing and managing your list of subscribers, and going through all your reports to analyze your customer data. There’s also a live view so you can see who is visiting your website in real time and what they are doing there.
Free Demo, Free Trial, and Pricing Schemes
If you’d like to get a handle on how Omnisend could work for you, you can sign up for a free personal demo. This includes a 1-on-1 interaction where you can get a full product walkthrough, asking any specific questions you may have about Omnisend. If you’d rather take it for a spin yourself, there’s also the 14-day trial where you have access to all the benefits with no credit card required.
Once you do decide to sign up, you’ll find that the pricing schedule for Omnisend depends on the number of subscribers that you have. There’s also a 20% savings when you opt for annual billing rather than monthly billing.
Pricing starts at just $8 per month (when paying annually) for the standard plan with 500 subscribers. For reference, the equivalent standard plan for 1,000 subscribers, 2,500 subscribers, and 5,000 subscribers is $12/month, $24/month, and $40/month, respectively. There’s also the free plan (with limited features), and the pro plan (starting at $160/month) with more personalization and scale.
The ‘What the Aff’ Daily Newsletter for Affiliate Marketers
It can be difficult to keep up with the world of affiliate marketing, just like with any other fast-moving industry. There’s always something happening, and these changes and new developments can have an immediate and dramatic impact on your bottom line. What can you expect with the next Google algorithm update? Is there a new Facebook feature you should know about and integrate into your marketing campaigns?
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At the same time, your time is understandably at a premium and you can’t spend hours on end every day catching up on every affiliate marketing news stories that passes through the web. You just want the freshest content delivered in a convenient and easily understood way. To that end, What the Aff is an especially appealing newsletter that caters specifically to this kind of audience.
Be in the Know
You may already be familiar with Manu Cinca from his other ventures in the online world. And the What the Aff newsletter is his “absolute focus” right now.
Rather than bombard you with dozens and dozens of lengthy news articles, rather than provide a bottomless lists of links around the web that’ll occupy you for hours without the equivalent benefit, What the Aff is an affiliate daily newsletter with “carefully curated affiliate marketing news, tech, and actionable advice.”
Cinca is taking the time to find and share only the stories that matter the most to affiliate marketers. The newsletter is delivered fresh every weekday to your inbox via email, making for a quick and convenient update on what you need to know about affiliate marketing today. The newsletter is designed to be consumed in five minutes or less, so you can “be in the know” and get on with your day.
Your Daily Fresh Take
The newsletter isn’t “over-designed,” and is instead offered in a lightweight, easy to skim format. Each daily newsletter typically contains about five stories in total; in addition to the title for each story, you’ll also find a convenient highlighted “category” like “Facebook” or “GDPR,” so you’ll know what to expect. That way, you can even focus on the stories that interest you the most and skip the others.
The writing is conversational yet authoritative in tone. The information is presented in easy to understand language, including relevant links as appropriate if you’re interested in learning more. You might learn about finding great e-commerce suppliers one day, Bing Ads artificial intelligence the next, and the psychology behind clicking search ads in another.
Paragraphs are rarely more than a few sentences, making for easily digestible (and skimmable) content. Opinions are backed up by relevant statistics and data, and you are oftentimes provided with actionable steps or guidance for where you can go from here. For example, in learning about clicking on search ads, you’re reminded to “always make sure your ad copy is highly relevant to the users’ search query.” You’re also told YouTube ads, display ads and Facebook ads should be used together “to build the brand awareness” before you start creating “branded campaigns using Search Ads to drive the final push” toward conversions.
At the end of each newsletter is a section called “Poolside Chat.” This is where you’ll find “cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all other things affiliates like to chat about.” Some of this stuff might not be directly related to affiliate marketing but still of interest to people who are in the business of affiliate marketing. And you’ll get some clever memes along the way too.
Tasteful Sponsored Content
While there is certainly a website component to What the Aff (more on that in just a moment), the primary focus is understandably on the email newsletter. What you’ll find with some other websites and newsletters in this space is that they can overwhelm you with all the ads, burying the actual content that you want to read. That’s not at all the case with What the Aff.
Near the top of each newsletter, under the header summary for the day, you’ll find a small logo that indicates the day’s newsletter is “brought to you by” XYZ company. The logo is clickable, so you can click on it to visit the sponsor’s website.
Just before the Poolside Chat section of the What the Aff newsletter, you’ll typically also find a sponsored story that is clearly indicated as such. The sponsored story will relate back to the sponsor (of course), but it’s not just one sales pitch after another. This is tasteful content that may actually be useful to you, just like all the other (non-sponsored) content in the newsletter.
For example, a sponsor of one of the more recent newsletters was STALCO. The sponsored story talks about how you may be paying way too much customs duty if you are importing products from overseas and selling to US customers. You are then told about the Duty Drawback Program and how you can take advantage of it, recouping most, if not all, of your import duty.
The Online Archive
For the greatest level of convenience and ease of access, you’re naturally encouraged to subscribe to the What the Aff newsletter via email. There’s a simple, one-line sign-up form on the main page of the site. You can’t miss it and it’s 100% free.
If you’d prefer to read the newsletters on the web, or if you want to reference back to older issues, the full newsletter archive is also offered on the What the Aff website. Based on my own experience these past few days, the daily newsletter appears to be published in the archive on the same day the newsletter is sent out via email.
In either case, the content you’ll get via this newsletter is highly actionable, decidedly relevant, and well-written without fluff. It’s just the straight goods, in five minutes or less. What more could you ask for?
Social Shark Automates Your Instagram Engagement Throughout 2019
When it comes to active engagement, few social media platforms can hold a candle to Instagram. Users not only check their Instagram feeds and post to their profiles more often, they’re also liking and commenting on posts much more often too. From a branding and marketing perspective, Instagram is one of the most powerful opportunities to come along in recent years… but how can you get noticed among that deluge of content?
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Organic engagement is a big part of that equation, but not too many people have the actual time and resources to dedicate to performing that task manually on a consistent basis. Instead, you need to look into a tool like Social Shark that can grow your Instagram account quickly and in a sustainable way. And it comes with even more functionality too.
Doing It for the ‘Gram
There are a few components to the Social Shark package. One of these is the Instagram tracking tool. Simply posting and engaging aren’t enough. You need to see what’s actually working so you know where you to focus your efforts.
That which gets measured gets managed. Just as you should have tools set up to track and analyze the traffic that you get to your website, just as you would track any advertising campaign to determine your return on investment (ROI), the exact same thing is true when it comes to your efforts on Instagram.
You need the ability to analyze your posts, engagement, growth and more in as efficient and as user-friendly a fashion as possible. With Social Shark, you get easy-to-understand graphs and charts that visualize the data, including information on followers, engagement rate, future projections, top posts and so on.
Automate Your Engagement
When you first log into your Social Shark account, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to it. All the navigation is found along the left sidebar, and you’ll be shown some new posts and guides on how to improve your Instagram performance too.
In addition to the ability to grow your Instagram followers by buying followers, perhaps the most important aspect of Social Shark is that you can automate your engagement. The key to Instagram is visibility, so people need to see that your account exists and that it is of interest to them. However, you probably don’t want to spend hours on end finding posts to like and comment on yourself by hand, right?
The automation process with Social Shark lets you define a number of key criteria. From there, the tool will automatically go around on Instagram to find posts under your defined profile, liking and commenting on posts, as well as following and unfollowing accounts. This organic marketing technique is remarkably effective, as it appears totally natural.
In order to get the most of this tool, you’ll need to configure your filters to best suit what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to target. There are fields to decide on media age, minimum/maximum followers, minimum/maximum likes, minimum/maximum followings, and gender.
Below that, there are areas where you can type in the hashtags, users, and specific areas you want to target. In the case of users, you can look to competitors and other accounts in your niche. If you’re Nike, for instance, there’s a good chance that people who follow Reebok and Adidas are interested in you too. Other options include the ability to add to keyword blacklists and define several comments that can be posted on your behalf automatically.
Generate the Right Hashtags
Another very useful aspect of Social Shark is its Instagram hashtag generator. It does exactly what you think it does, and it does it very well.
While it’s common to find a hashtag generator wherein you provide a keyword and the tool returns several related keywords and hashtags, Social Shark goes much further than that. While you can certainly generate by keyword, you can also generate a list of relevant hashtags by uploading an image or providing a webpage URL.
To test this out, I uploaded a picture of a sports car. As you can see in the screenshot above, the Social Shark Instagram hashtag generator then produced such hashtags as #race, #competition and #vehiclewrap. You can see the relative popularity of the hashtag, and then you can select which ones you’d like to use. When you click on the “Copy Selected Hashtags” button at the bottom, the selected hashtags are copied to your clipboard for insertion in your image caption or comments.
Buy Likes and Views Too
As mentioned earlier, a service offered by Social Shark is the option to buy likes and views too. This can help to jump start the engagement on your Instagram content, as users are typically more inclined to like and comment on posts that already have some activity on them.
The pricing on this service is incredibly affordable and it gets cheaper based on volume. Even the starter package with 500 likes only costs $4.99. No password is required, delivery is instant, and you have a “spreading option” if you’d like too. Scaling up, you get 1,000 likes for $9.99, 1,500 likes for $13.99, or even 20,000 likes for $75.99.
How Much Does It Cost?
When signing up for Social Shark, you can choose between two pricing plans, depending on the level of growth you’re trying to achieve.
Both the Starter and the Popular plan offer exactly the same services with exactly the same functions. As described above, you get such features as follow/unfollow engagement, automatic liking and commenting on Instagram posts based on your specific filtering parameters, and detailed account and post statistics, as well as access to premium support and the hashtag generator tool. The main difference is that the Popular plan allows for faster growth with double the engagement rate.
The Starter and Popular plans are $40/month and $75/month when paying on a month-by-month basis; you can enjoy a discount when paying on an annual term, bringing the monthly cost down to $30 and $60, respectively. In all cases, take advantage of the 7-day free trial and see what Social Shark can do for you.
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