Email Outsourcing, Mobile Websites, DNS and Application Upgrades, and more.
We’ve been busy during the first part of this year to improve our Email, DNS, and SMTP services for our systems. Now that these upgrades are in place, we are back to working on building great websites and executing our 2012 strategy. Right now we are rolling out new products, branding, and enhancements to our software to help our clients do more with their websites.
DNS and Email Outsourcing
In January, I shared our company goals for 2012 with our staff. These goals and strategy were full of lots of improvements to our website management systems, introduction of some new open-source systems into our offerings, updated pricing, new hosting solutions, new email solutions, and more. I also set goals and deadlines for each initiative for 2012. Part of that planning included outsourcing certain services (like hosted email accounts, bulk mail delivery with SMTP, and DNS services) that were costing us too much time and money to run in-house, and that could be run more reliably with specialized vendors. Unfortunately in January, we also had a core server failure with one of our DNS servers, and also with one of our mail servers. Replacing those servers in our own datacenter was taking too long so this required us to front-burner the outsourcing of those services so that we can focus on doing what we are best at – building and managing high-performance websites. That is how we earn a living.
Managing email servers in-house is something that none of our competitors do any longer – they outsource it. So by running mail servers in our datacenter we were handicapping ourselves by being stupborn and keeping those services in-house. We would spend a lot of time keeping those servers from being blocked by major email providers (Comcast, Verizon, GMail) when a customer of ours would get a virus on their own computers that would send spam, or if we had a customer that was sending spam purposefully. We also could not get ahold of Postini (our spam filtering provider) to get support when we needed it. This was probably due to the fact that Google bought them and integrated their technology into GMail. So we found a new email provider that has the spam filtering built-in, and we never looked back. Microsoft and Google offer email accounts for $5 per month, per email account. Our new email solutions are $1 per month, per email account. We are including a number of free email accounts with most of our hosting packages, but there will now be limits on how many come with our packages.
While we would have liked to roll out this change in a more orderly fashion, the end result is exactly what we had intended – outsourcing email allows us to focus on building, hosting, managing, and marketing websites instead of fighting spam and babysitting servers. The lessons for us with the changes to email services are many, but one of the interesting takeaways is that in the hosting industry today, domain-based email accounts are no longer free or unlimited. If you want to use GMail for your business email it will cost you $5 per month, per email account. We don’t mind who a client uses for email. We can work with any other email provider and still run their website. Hosting email accounts takes significant resources for a hosting company, and I think you will see the “unlimited email accounts” go away from most hosting companies if it hasn’t already.
Google Products Update Completed
We have completed our ecommerce integration with Google’s product feed. This means that our customers that use our Ecommerce software can now push their products directly into Google’s shopping results. We have seen stores get 10-30% increases in sales by adding this feed to their ecommerce store. Our ecommerce software works well with search engines and produces millions of dollars in sales for our clients.
Mobile Websites Now Available
We have had a lot of requests for mobile websites, and we are now building them. Any organization that is interested in a mobile-friendly website should contact us.
Product Rebranding Underway Now
We are consolidating most of the brand names of our products in 2012. This will make it easier to shop for our solutions, easier for us to market the solutions we offer, and easier to train our customers to use our solutions without confusing them with too many formal brand names.
- Mail-Logic – Mail-Logic is our email newsletter system designed to compete with Constant Contact and other email newsletter systems. We have found that this system is most valuable to our customers that are either; membership-based, multi-tenant buildings, municipalities, or ecommerce related. This system is being merged with our other systems and new messaging capabilities (like mass SMS text messaging) will be added to it. It will be simply called “Messaging” and will be a component in our application dashboards. We will continue to develop it as a central location for managing communications throughout our systems. The system was recently upgraded with a cloud-based SMTP mail delivery engine that sends out email quickly and at a much higher delivery rate without getting blocked as spam. We will be adding more updates to this system to speed delivery even further.
- Team-Logic CRM – This is our sales lead management, project management, Intranet, time tracking, and ticketing system. This is a really great system that we use ourselves to manage our projects and customer requests. This system will be integrated and rebadged as part of our overall business management system. While many of our competitors as building template-based websites, where we are taking a different approach to build running online businesses instead of electronic brochures. The Team-Logic components are a big part of how we can help a customer to integrate their customer database with their online presence. What we found, however, was that by bundling all this advanced functionality behind an over-used but not well understood industry term like “CRM” was really under-selling what we have, and making it very hard to understand. So this brand name will go away, and the components will be called what they actually are; Request Tracking, Sales and Lead Management, Customer Database, Customer Portal, Account Management, and more.
- Store-Logic – Our flagship ecommerce product has undergone a recent re-write and has many new features. We will continue to invest in making our ecommerce product better, as we add mobile and social technologies to it. All of our ecommerce functionality will sit behind a new navigation button that says “Ecommerce” when a customer logs into their website administration area – simple! This will let us retire the Store-Logic brand from our interfaces and integrate ecommerce in new ways for the vertical markets we serve. The ecommerce system integrates with our other systems, and is never sold as a standalone product anyhow. For instance, when a customer purchases an ecommerce store platform with us, they also get a content management system and messaging. An online store that simply displays a product catalog will no longer be competitive without social media, product feeds, mobile, video, content management, and other technologies that we provide. So branding and selling “ecommerce” alone, is under-selling what we do.
- CMS-Logic – Our Content Management System has been a big success, and it is our most popular on-demand web solution. We are inventing new ways to make this system more intuitive to use, such as browsing to your website to edit pages directly. We can now offer mobile websites using our CMS. The name “CMS Logic” will be retired, but all of the functionality will be located within our on-demand website builder interface. Instead of clicking on a button that says “CMS Logic”, our customers will simply click a button that says “Website” to manage their website. This will be easier to understand and use.
- Content Engine (www.ce.net) – This was an experiment to see if we could profitably offer very low-cost websites using pre-designed templates. While we have had some success in this area, we have found that we will be able to accomplish the same goal by offering a “Lite” version of our applications without adding yet another brand name that would confuse our clients. We have much bigger plans for the CE.Net domain name, which we will reveal at a later date.