email

Did Microsoft break Skype's password recovery process?

Well it certainly looked that way to me.  My Skype app on my desktop just opens and logs-in automatically. I have never needed to enter my password, for years.  I wanted to get a link for my Skype name from Skype's own website and naturally it asked to me login.  I haven’t logged into Skype’s website for years, which was confirmed when my password wasn't auto filling after entering my email. Generally I save all my passwords.

After trying to log in 3 times, it suspended my account, gone. I couldn't login any longer on the Skype app anywhere.

After a fair amount of research, I discovered where I could reset my password. When I completed my email, it said, no such account exists.
When I tried a different one, I only have 2 emails, same answer. Oh shoot what happened?  There was still another route, but this is where it all totally broke down. 

Here are the key questions that you must answer to reset your account and be verified again.

  1. "What name, first and last name did you provide when you first registered". Fair enough that should be straight forward, I haven't changed my name.
  2. "What country did you select when you first registered?" Hmm, A little bit harder, but should still be correct, as I haven't lived in any other country since 2004.
  3. "What email did you provide when you first registered?" Now this one is quite a bit tougher. Actually I haven't got a clue, we all have more than one email address right? So it could have been one of three emails, not too bad, but genuinely I haven't a clue.
  4. When did you create your Skype account (mm/yy)? Busted!! Who actually remembers that? I could guess at the year, I was definitely an early adopter, so maybe 2004, 2005 or even 2006. I had to look up when Skype actually launched, which was 2003. So I would have to guess the year and try to give a few option, but as far as the month is concerned, no chance!

These 4 questions had the * against them, which means they are required and if you fail any of them, your account doesn't get verified, which of course was the case with me. 

In the slideshare below, you will see the full form and also my email correspondence with Skype customer service.  In fairness they varied the text slightly in every email, but essentially it said the same. “If you don't complete the form correctly you will remain unverified. Do go through the slideshare, you will love it!

 

At the same time I reached out to Twitter and although it took them a while to get back to me, have a look at how they resolved it. Very simple really.

Thank you to Twitter, for enabling a platform that just works for customer service. I guess its because you're visible there and they can verify you better compared to email, which anyone can send.

Big lessons: 

  1. Microsoft screws with their acquired platforms and stops us from getting anywhere to solve problems, it's the usual customer service loops, which I experienced years ago from Microsoft.  
  2. In the case of Skype, workflows become customer unfriendly and restrictive. With the exception of their Twitter support.
  3. Write down which month/year, I signed up for any internet based service. Yeah, that's never going to happen.
  4. Use Twitter for customer service, every single time, don't even bother with email or telephone support.

I think I will stick with Google Hangouts, Zoom and even FaceTime, instead of Skype in future.

@stayingaliveuk

Below is the Twitter DM messages with Skype Support, which thankfully resolved the situation.

Is Email Enhancing or Destroying Your Reputation?

Email was invented in 1971 and became popular during the late 90's. We've been using it seriously for 20+ years. Some of you reading this will remember how amazing it was when we all started using it. Remember your first email address? Mine was with Yahoo! Millennials will snigger at this, I know they will, some haven't even got an email address!

And although we've had enormous change with email, most of us are still basically using it for the same purpose. To send messages, share files, photos and opinions. 

And of course with all new inventions email soon became a method for spammers to hack servers and send us all emails promoting goods and services we weren't looking for. (SPAM) 

And then there is the ’Email Newsletter’. If by chance you shared your email address on a website or purchased some goods online your email address could be added to a list. The owner of the list could then keep you informed of their news, which often included promoting their goods and services too. You may have even wanted those newsletters, but now they are a pest!

Over time newsletter clients, like Constant Contact, Mailchimp and others started to emerge and provided some rules around uploading email addresses. One of those rules would be obtaining authorisation from the email owner before adding them to a list. However as long as you tick the box that confirms you have authorisation, they allow you to upload your list. And then you can legitimately email (SPAM) your contacts.

Let’s not forget Data Protection in Europe.  The Data Protection Directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data) is a European Union directive and was adopted in 1995. It regulates the processing of personal data within the European Union. In essence it means when you hold personal data, like an email address, you must have obtained it with the owners permission and provide any recipient of your email newsletter the opportunity to unsubscribe.

Nowadays the best process for obtaining authorisation for using someone’s email address is using a double opt-in process. That means the email owner has to confirm authorisation and knows without a doubt that they are being added to an email list. This is by far the best process in my view. BUT many don’t bother with this process.

With the creation of LinkedIn, it means that your connections have access to your email address. They can download your email address to add to their email list whether they have your authorisation or not and then start to email you their newsletters (SPAM). 

I've been unsubscribing from newsletters for over 4 years and receive very few unsolicited emails these days. However I still receive around 4-6 newsletters I never signed up for per month. Plus the instances of poor practices in those emails, where you are unable to unsubscribe seems to occur more often. I send those senders a polite email to ask how I got added and ask to be unsubscribed. Below is the text of a recent (March 2016) email I sent to the sender of an unsolicited email I received.

You really need to be considering your ‘Email Newsletter Strategy’. Are you really adding value to your readers or are you promoting, selling, funnelling and spamming?

Now let’s discuss the ‘email signature’. Have you got one? How much detail do you think should be in your email signature and do you really believe that the receiver needs all that detail? The chances are that the receiver is already known to you, you’re probably already connected on Social Media somewhere and they more than likely have your business card. Here are some of the crazy things I see in email signatures:

  1. Email address. Why? They have just received your email with your email address on it, why on earth do they need it in your email signature as well?
  2. Website address. If you using a business email address then they will already know the domain address of your website, after all it’s in your email address. And if it’s personal email then you won’t need to share a website address do you? And small businesses who still use a free personal email address should really examine what they are doing to their Brand.
  3. All your Social Media channels. Do you really think they have time to click through to all those URL’s and connect or follow you there? If they were so interested in you, they would take the time to search for you on those channels anyway and may have already done so before they even get an email from you. The chances are that you’ve also already done this and at least have connected with them on LinkedIn. It’s totally redundant and just lengthens the email message.
  4. Logos and Images. And although Broadband speed has increased and  mobile internet is getting faster, attaching images to your email is totally impractical. Branding I hear you say? Rubbish! Have you seen how your Brand gets destroyed when you start emailing back and forth and all those images get removed, scrunched and destroyed in some way. The email thread is a mess, more scrolling required to discover the real text that has to be read and with all those missing image links, additional contact information the important text can easily be missed, often resulting in quotes like ‘I never saw that message’. I’m not surprised, it was hidden in between unnecessary promotional nonsense.
  5. Street address. Seriously? You’re kidding right? Why would they need that in an email? You are emailing each other, not sending each other postcards. If you do have to visit you almost always look up their website and find out directions and jump on to Google Maps.
  6. Disclaimer. Thank you 80’s  and 90’s lawyers! They all scared the s..t out of us, because we weren’t sending letters any longer and it was entirely possible that your email could end up arriving somewhere else and then you’ve said something so awful that they could take you to court. OMG! The disclaimer is often 3 times longer than your actual email message. And you really think it protects you? The receiver has nothing better to do then read your disclaimer every time they receive an email from you? (Raising my eyes to heaven)
  7. Environmental Statement about printing. How many folks actually spend time printing emails out, apart from lawyers? Enough said.

If this sparked any interest, you can read this thought-provoking article by Kevin Zawacki @kevinzawacki on Slate.com http://slate.me/1REJekw

This is 2016 and none of the above is needed any longer. Let’s use email as it was intended. Keep it basic, short and to the point. and Don’t copy the world to ‘cover your a..’.

Reduce your email signature to your mobile number and one keyword for search. After all you don’t have a massive email signature on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc. The world is changing, please join me in spreading the word about email signatures and get them reduced to just two bits of information.

Email won’t exist forever, certainly unlikely in larger organisation. There are now other products on the market who make internal communication more productive and simpler. Email is likely going to be reinvented by Social Media and Messaging apps like Slack, Asana, Trello, Yammer and others? I’m looking forward to it, because it could signal the end of email as we know it. Yippee, no more spamming!

So let’s ask the question again. ‘Is Email Enhancing or Destroying Your Reputation?’

Answers on a postcard please! Just kidding, comments below please or via email if you wish, michael@guess the domain.com? No seriously, I need you to guess the domain. For starters it's easy if you did some research and secondly, I would like to avoid the spiders adding me to a list.

@stayingaliveuk

Do You Really Know How to Sell?

If you're in business or you're an ambitious sales professional, this post is for you. I know that we all want business but...

You need to read the signs before upsetting to your buyers. Read the email below and let me know what you think?

{I have removed sensitive information in order to protect the email sender}

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 11.03.09

I was horrified, not because the email upset me, but because I couldn't believe the tone of the email.

Let me give you the background without giving away who or what it was that I was buying.

After some difficulty, I needed a quote from a third-party in order to fulfil a potential project that I was quoting for. It took me over a week to get a response and that was because my emails weren't getting through to the supplier. In the end it was an IT issue with servers, but still it took some considerable time to sort out. Probably not the supplier's fault, but it happened.

After finally agreeing a quote, which wasn't that easy either, I sent my proposal to my potential client. In the meantime, I'm assisting and sorting out email server issues with my potential supplier. They then send several emails chasing me to see if the project is on or not. That's fine I don't have an issue with chasers and I did warn my supplier that my client had a budget he needed to achieve, so he was probably searching elsewhere.

So after receiving another chaser email from my supplier, I advised them that I had already chased up my potential client and that it was entirely possible that they would be searching for a cheaper price in their local country.

At this stage I have never placed any business with my supplier, so you would have thought that they would hold back a bit. But then that email arrived and I was amazed.

The message here is a simple one. Respect your potential buyer's process and lead-time for getting things done. Do NOT chase too many times.

You have to know when it's appropriate to send a reminder and when it's appropriate to send a chaser. They are not the same! And certainly when you are waiting to get the order confirmed don't send chaser emails.

And then there is the 'UpSelling' tactic. NEVER 'UpSell' when you haven't even got onto first base yet. Why would anyone wish to buy other products when they haven't even experienced your service yet? Especially as the service so far hasn't been that great!

Wishing you massive success always!

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

IMG_0971

Are You Wasting Your Time on Social Media?

More than likely you are. Be honest with yourself, how much time are you now spending on social media compared to say 2 years ago? It's addictive right? Don't worry I am not judging you, and it's not your fault. All the social networks know that we as humans are curious by nature and very very interested in other people's lives. Yes you are, whether you wish to admit it or not. It's not an issue, really it's not. And...you just need to be aware of it.

The Power of Social Media.009

Peer pressure exists too, how many times have you heard someone say, you're not on twitter really?? Or...well I use Facebook to spy on my kids that's all I use it for. Liar!!

The majority of 16 - 24 year olds will be massively engaged with social media. Wind forward 10 - 15 years, what will the world look like?

OK so you're a baby boomer and don't think much of this social media lark and will not get drawn into to it. Wrong!

flickr | meijergardens

You are already part of it whether you like it or not. Whatever you say or do in business or in your private life, people (and family) around you may be tweeting, facebooking, linkedinning you (for real Michael??).

Yep, before you speak and if you don't wish to be quoted, tell your gathering that they haven't got permission to share what you say via their social media channels.

So whether you're part of it or not, resisting or engaging, annoyed or happy, you do have to get your time spent on it back in check. Become more targeted and laser focussed on what you wish to achieve. Random doesn't work any longer and you'll get found out. Just this morning I saw someone on LinkedIn (no names) who had posted 18 articles from their website in a matter of 2 hours. Wondering who's in charge of their marketing efforts?

I've been studying social media for 5 years now and after several years of intermittent study with the thought leaders in the USA, I've recognised where this is going. No I'm not unique in my thinking.

Firstly social media is no longer a new phenomena it's now part of the marketing mix, except that it should in most organisations expand into customer service, sales and the executive floor as well.

flickr | smi23le

Social media has expanded into social learning, social selling, social marketing. But in a few years the word social will start to disappear. You will be left with the originals, learning, selling and marketing.

The only difference will be that the major platforms that support these activities will become synonymous with them.

For example LinkedIn will be known exclusively for selling. Indeed what was once a recruiters website with employees CV’s is becoming THE most powerful lead generation platform in the world.

FB will become the product marketing platform in the world. Just imagine all those people on FB that could be watching your product advert on their 4G mobile.

FB has enabled message voice recording already and its just a matter of time that they will introduce video message recording technology. Your written messages will be video email instead. We are already tired of reading, but will we be happy to watch a short video?

Camera shy?? You'll get over it!

flickr | Rego - d4u.hu

I was involved with video email even before YouTube, the only problem was that most people were on dial-up then (2005). Now with 4G becoming standard and super fast fibre broadband, it will open possibilities we've not even imagined yet.

flickr | Gavin St. Ours

Video cameras in your smart phone or tablet are common now, but you've heard about google glasses right?

So just imagine a world where your glasses are connected to your smart phone and whatever the camera (in your glasses) sees it can find on your smart phone, of course no need to tap on your phone, you just do it via speech if at all. The mind boggles!

flickr | Stuck in Customs

I'd love to hear your views, good, bad or indifferent about social media, technology and where this is taking us. I'm excited, are you?

Success!

Have you got your "Virtual Business Card" yet?

Belonging to a number of Social Media sites and wishing for half the world to follow you is becoming a chore for most people.  Including numerous links in email signatures, business cards and the like is even more stressful.

So when I found about.me, I was delighted to have the opportunity to create a one page summary about myself and my business and have all of my Social Media links shown as icons or 'chicklets' as they are known in the Industry.  It also allows you to include other url's to your website or maybe specific YouTube videos, it's really very handy.

And as a bonus you also get some stats with it.  You can check out how many times you have been viewed and if it's working for you.  And if you have a great image that you would like to use as background that says something about you or your business then that is possible too.

It means you only need to include one link in your email signature and so what I've done is to register a .me domain in my case stayingaliveuk.me and I include this in my email signature, but qualify it as 'SoMe', which hopefully many will now recognise as the abbreviation for 'Social Media'.

Check it out and see what you think, it's a great virtual business card, which I think will catch on. about.me

Enjoy!

My First 'Social Letter'

  1. The 'Social Letter' will only come out once per month
  2. If after reading it you don’t believe there is any value in it, just unsubscribe at any time
  3. And I will share just 3 topics with 3 tips each month around my own learning in Social Media and Social Learning

Anything in this 'Social Letter' is based on my own personal opinion and has been developed through my own research and daily experiences.

This month my 3 topics are;

Social Language

Personal Exposure

Social Tools


Social Language

Michael, do you agree that the Internet appears to have found its niche? Social Networking has exploded across it like a tsunami and instead of sinking we have all taken to our boats and are exploring the high seas to see what effect it will have on our daily personal and business lives. Why is it then that I still hear such outdated language via email, blogs, press etc?  Why is our language not changing or are we just afraid of letting our guard down?  Here in the UK I believe it is going to be particularly difficult for us to speak in a different (social) language, we just seem to be afraid of being more social in our discussions.  A ‘Social Language’ that is more engaging, more holistic, more inviting and asking both clients and friends to join the discussion.

My 3 tips for a new Social Language are:

  1. Stop promoting yourself or your business (people do not like being sold to on Social Media)
  2. Start listening and communicating
  3. Become more engaging by asking great questions and sharing views

Personal Exposure

Are you worried Michael about your own personal exposure on Social Networks?  Let’s turn the clock forward, let’s say to 2020.  A lot of teenagers will be well out of University, looking for jobs.  Guess what their employers will be looking at?  Their Social Network footprint and their language in those networks.  There is no better way to get to know a person, then to look at their Social Networking sites and see what they have been up to.

Sure lots of students will be trying to hide their profiles from their employers with the fear of being ridiculed for the games they play, their chats with their friends, the apps they use, the places they check-in to and much more.  Now, it's not that difficult to learn about someone,  so much of what you say or do on Social Networks is indexed by Google.  Good luck to those students who will be trying to hide 10 years of social media exposure! This infographic (to download click the link) illustrates nicely the case for transparency versus the case for anonymity.

I know you are happy Michael for your business profile to be in the social domain, but what about your personal profile?  Why do we say, I want to keep my private life separate from my business life?  I don’t want people to know that much about me, but very happy to share what I do for my work, because I could earn from that.

Well I have some news for you.  People buy people first and when we are in a business lunch or networking event and after we finished talking about what we do for a living, we start asking questions like...where do you live?...where are you going on holiday?...how many kids do you have?...what sports do you follow?...who do you support?...and so on.

I think you are probably getting my message, we all need to start getting used to the idea that you need to be more personal on social networks and share something about yourself.

My 3 tips for creating Personal Exposure are:

  1. Make your profile open, so that anyone can find you on Social Networks and can get to know you
  2. Consider the view that everyone is a personal contact, don't consider them to be different, just because you met them in the workplace
  3. Be careful to judge people that blend their personal and business lives (this is done regularly on Twitter)

By the way here is a great blog post by Social Media Examiner; http://bit.ly/mGyaCU

Its called Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide.  Some great learning in there for you and how to develop a more personal relationship with everyone!


Social Tools

Certainly in my research and learning, I have come across so many different sites, tools and apps that can help me in my social media endeavours.  So, Michael I decided to share a couple of tools with you, that help me keep track of all of these.

The first one is Google Bookmarks.  A great way to have all your bookmarks available on the Internet (Or do we now say the Cloud?).  I found that having these in the 'Cloud' is really beneficial.  You can also install a plug-in to your browser, which then allows you to quickly add them when you are on a site that you need to bookmark.  You can also keep bookmarks organised by list for easy retrieval.

Start creating your bookmarks here: https://www.google.com/bookmarks.

The other tool I use is www.oneforty.com.  Here I can record all the different Social Media tools I use, currently I use 58 different ones, whether through the web, desktop or mobile.  They have a library of all the different tools and its a great way to learn about what they can do for you and keep track of all the different ones you have signed up to.  I have looked at many other tools too but these two for me have made life a lot simpler.  Plus you can share it with your colleagues too.

My 3 tips for managing Social Media Tools are:

  1. Save all your bookmarks inside Google Bookmarks, for easy sharing or retrieval.  And get the plug-in for your browser.
  2. Create a spreadsheet on your personal computer and record all the urls, usernames and passwords and make the sheet password protected.
  3. Use a tool like oneforty to record all the tools you use and also find other tools.

For next month I have in mind to cover the following 3 topics:

Are you ready to go back to school?

Does using video to teach your colleagues work?

Do you really understand Social Media?

Michael, if you have time to discuss this 'Social Letter', ask more questions and engage with me, please stop by on www.facebook.com/stayingaliveuk Let me know if I met my promises and any suggestions on how could I make it even greater for you next time?

Have a great month and I hope to catch up with some of you either face to face or in those amazing social networks.

Michael

More about me!

Is the Email Monkey Male or Female?

After a few years absence from the email newsletter scene, I decided to venture out and try it again.  I used to be with constant contact, but having seen better alternatives, I decided to give MailChimp a go. I had used them previously for a small list and now that I have changed direction in my business it was time to email a bigger list.

I have spent some time building my list of trusted contacts on LinkedIn, so I thought why not start with them as a base and build from there.  After all most of them do know me and if I ask nicely, maybe they will just stay 'opted-in' to my list.

I got down to drafting my email and this time I had to refrain from selling or promoting what I can do for them.  So thinking of writing something that would get them to genuinely believe me and that I wanted to have their permission before they would receive the first newsletter.

So an opt-out email was the plan and making it clear that I only wanted to send them an email in the future with information they could use, free of charge and no selling.  Tough one really because sending someone an email, they automatically think you are selling to them.  I think we have just been conditioned this way.  I really did not want to do this, my aim is to give something away for free to people who have taken the trouble to link or follow me.

If you wish to have a read of it by all means check it out here:  http://bit.ly/k78Mug

I was reasonably pleased with it. I know you can always improve it, ask some others to proofread it, but I decided it was good enough to get some feedback.

Oh boy, feedback I got indeed!  But not what I had expected.  I got unsubscribes, plenty of them, but that’s what I wanted, so that was ok.  I sent emails out to 663 people and I got 50 unsubscribes.  Fantastic, at least people were reading my email and they responded.  It means 613 did not unsubscribe yet!

What I had not expected was to receive written feedback as well and in some cases great feedback.  So instead of paraphrasing it, here are some of them for you to read for yourself;

Hi Michael…I can hear the Bee Gees song in my head ! Happy to receive your newsletter..I use Linkedin, Twitter, Google alerts and my website….not Facebook so much.  Mark

Like the idea! Nice way to start it as well by offering people the opt out. Will keenly keep an eye out for your first one. Jack

I *love* this approach! I’ve been toying with whether I should send an e-mail out to my user base, but am a very strong believer in “permission marketing”.

This is a wonderful approach. Do you mind if I S.W.I.P.E it? Richard

Yes, go for it!  Look forward to receiving your next newsletter. David

Certainly, I will look forward to your updates etc. Karen

See below - high praise indeed coming from Jeremy, somebody who I consider a leader in our field! If you’re not reading his blog – go read it now! Richard

Brilliantly done! Jeremy

I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say I think your newsletter is great. As a graphic design agency, helping businesses with newsletters is something we do pretty regularly - I found yours warm and engaging while still being professional and informative. It's obvious that you do this for a living! Liz

That was delightful email,and yes permission granted. Dev

I'm intrigued, count me in. Rene

Thanks - I really appreciate the fact that you've asked, and I'm happy to hear what you have to say. Richard

No problem with you contacting me in the future. Ken

Sounds good right?  Well what I had not expected was this email from the Monkey!

We want to make you aware that that your campaign from your account with the username stayingaliveuk  generated an unsubscribe rate of 3.05%.  At this point this is just a notification of the activity occurring on your campaign.  Your account is still active but we want to make you aware that we will continue to watch this campaign and may send additional warnings.  As an ESP, we’re required to enforce an unsubscribe rate of 1% or less (1.01% is considered to be over the limit). When this is exceeded, ISPs and SpamCop organizations begin to question the integrity of your list which can cause blacklisting or blocks for both your domains and MailChimp domains and IP addresses. It can also indicate there are readers on the list who do not want to receive your content and were not expecting to receive it.  If the unsubscribe activity continues and exceeds the 1% limit this can lead to account suspension and further investigation into the matter by our compliance team.  At this time we want to make you aware of the activity and provide some steps to help reduce the issue in the future.

Not so great then after all!

There I was thinking carefully about not spamming people and asking them for permission and BOOM, I got my wrists slapped by the email monkey!  I was a bit concerned to say the least.  Thankfully they have confirmed that my account is still active, so I will be able to send my first newsletter out as planned very soon!  So if you are planning a new newsletter to a new audience, using a new email tool, be careful!