Gmail Tabs make Email Enjoyable Again

Gmail, the most widely used email service in the world, has just added a great new email tabs feature.  Since the new Gmail tabs are going to be affecting a lot of people it is something I thought we could be exploring together.

To get a better idea, without me explaining, here is a video Google released on May 29th showcasing Gmail's updated tabs.  The title of the video is “Meet Gmail's New Inbox.”  Google of course uses a great Motown song “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelletes as the soundtrack.

New customizable tabs put you back in control so that you can see what's new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read and when.

I like how in the beginning the video it reads, “Inboxes can be overwhelming” which is sooo true.  However as the video points out “Unless you have the new Gmail inbox.”

gmail tabs

Basically what this means is Google has several tabs for your inbox now and it automatically sorts incoming email into those different tab categories.  What are the different Gmail tabs?

  • Primary – This is for all your important emails from say friends, family, etc.  As Google describes it in the video “One tab for email you really, really want to see.”
  • Social – Essentially any emails or updates from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  What is surprising to me is that the
  • Promotions – This tab is for any promotions or special offer emails.  So you love Groupon or getting special Amazon deals this is where all those emails would go.
  • Updates – This is where you put any orders you have made from online retailers or shipping information or order status updates you might receive from them.
  • Forums – If you take part in any discussion forums this will sort your emails from them into this tab.  Reply to topic emails will go in here too.

Gmail defaults to using Primary, Social, and the Promotions tabs.  You can add the Updates and Forums tabs if you want or feel the need.  Since Gmail  sorts the emails automatically it may not put the right email in the right Gmail tab category.  If you don't feel like Gmail sorted an email correctly you can Drag and Drop an email into the tab you want.  Any future email from that sender will go into that specified Gmail tab.  So if an email that should go in the Promotions tab goes into Primary, and you drop into Promotions, all future emails go into the Promotions tab.

Personally I have found the new Gmail tabs extremely useful and a huge time saver.  For the most part Gmail is very accurate in sorting emails but once in awhile it will get it wrong.  Hey, it is is a computer doing the sorting and not you.  Still, this makes me love Gmail and all it's other great features even more. Kudos to Google and the Gmail team that came up with the Gmail tabs idea.  As it said at the end of the video, “The inbox has gone Google.”

What is interesting to note is that the pre-filtered “Promotion” tab has caused a lot of internet marketers and those that have email lists to become quite concerned.  Since Gmail rolled out the tab features about 2 weeks ago all of the those emails go into Promotions mostly.  If an email slips by and goes into Primary I usually immediately drop into the Promotions tab.  I don't open these emails nearly as much anymore.  A lot of emails from these people are titled “Urgent”, “Don't leave in Promotions”, “Open if you use Gmail” and more things like that.  It is clear email open rates have gone waaay done Gmail tabs rolled out.  Sorry, but you guys are staying in Promotions since it is making my life a lot easier! 🙂

The only complaint I have is it would be nice if you could customize the tab lables.  A Primary tab isn't a problem but I might want to relabel the other tabs to fit my personal email needs.  Other than I think is is a great Gmail update.

While the Gmail tabs change is not good for companies or marketers, it certainly is for Gmail's 1 billion+ users.  Since Google is always says they are focused on the user experience it is great they back it up with great changes to products.  I totally love the new and updated Gmail tabs and look forward to Google's continued improvements to Gmail in the future.

What are your thoughts about Gmail's new tabs?  Do you love it as much as I do?  Is it saving you time?  If you run an email list have you seen a drop in open rates?  What do you think Google could have done better with Gmail tabs?

Site5 Review

site5 web hosting

Since I have been hosting with Site5 for awhile I decided I would write a Site5 Review.  Overall Site5 provides robust and fast servers, good support, and a nice backend you wont' find anywhere else.

Anyway here is my Site5 review for those that are considering hosting websites with Site5.

Site5 Review

site5 custom cpanel

Custom Cpnel and User Interface

Site5's custom cPanel and backend user interface deserve a big nod of approval.  It's clean, simple, and easy to navigate which can't be said about most hosting interfaces.

What I really like about Site5's custom cPanel is that you don't have to visit your own cPanel URL.  You can login into your cPanel directly from Site5.com by clicking “Client Login” in the top right.  You can also manage your billing and affiliate payouts from the same backend as well.  It's convenient and a well thought out user interface and system.  I don't understand why more hosting companies don't utilize or have a similar custom cPanel.  This is how other web hosting companies backends should look like and work in my opinion.

Keep in mind this is 2013 and most web users expect ease-of-use and clean interfaces.  Site5 has brought cPanel into the modern age whereas everyone else (including cPanel) is stuck in the year 2000.  If you are a Site5 competitor I ‘d recommend signing up for a free trial account with Site5 just to get an idea of what their setup is like.

Support

Site5‘s support team is top notch.  They will take the time to explain any problems or issues instead of getting an answer that was read from a script.  It is clear support representatives take time to read and review your issue before replying and know what the issue is.

Generally response times on most tickets will get a reply within 30 minutes.  If you have a complex question or issue you will be notified that the ticket has been kicked up to a higher level support representative or system administrator for review.  Tickets that get kicked-up to a 2nd level support member tends to get a reply in about 1 hour.

I've also used Site5's chat service and wait times for an available representative to help you with an issue is usually 10 minutes or less.  The same can't be said for other hosting companies chat support.

What is nice about Site5's email and chat support is they display a picture of the support representative who you are working with.  Under the picture you can click a link that takes you to a short Bio page about that Site5 support team member.  This gives Site5 support a more personal touch and makes you feel like you know the support team better than just being some faceless entity.  One of Site5's support team members includes Mitch Keeler, who is well known in web hosting circles since he runs the Web Hosting Show Podcast.  Ben Welch-Boen, the CEO of Site5, has even replied to one of my tickets and gave a lengthy response to my questions and was quite helpful.  I probably would not have noticed who they were unless they included those pictures.

site5 support

Site5 phone support is only offered between 10am – 6pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on weekdays.  If you are someone who prefers phone support for working through problems than you won't appreciate that timeframe.  (I personally prefer using email and chat support to resolve most issues.)  I've used phone support in the past and found that the call quality wasn't that good since to my understanding Site5 support uses Skype.  Most hosting companies use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems now since it is huge cost saver but each time I called I was disappointed with the call quality.   I've only called Site5 phone support twice though.

UPDATE: Site5 is in the process of updating their phone system to a new provider to improve the call quality.  

Another complaint I have with Site5 support is that if you are not that knowledgeable about hosting or web savvy you might not always find Site5 support helpful. Site5 is sort of a hosting company aimed at geeks and you should have a general idea of what you are doing before hosting with them.  Their support is extremely helpful but they won't hold your hand.

Something you should be aware of about Site5 support agents is that they all work from home.  Personally I think that is nice for employees but others might disagree and not like that for some reason.  Since this is a review and I am trying to provide as much information as possible I thought I would just let people know that.

Uptime and Downtime

Site5 Uptime is pretty decent and is as advertised.  I monitor all of my websites using Uptime Robot and while there is occasional downtime here and there I've never experienced any downtime lasting for too long.  The longest downtime I have on record is 30 minutes according to my Uptime Robot alert notifications.  You can check all of Site5's server uptime stats here.  I've checked the time claimed on my server against what Site5 claims and they are accurate.

One thing I like about Site5 is they are good about sending you notices of when they will be doing scheduled maintenance on your server and when you might experience downtime or issues with accessing your websites.  I appreciate that they keep customers updated about maintenance since you are not caught off guard if your website is down.  Most of the time the maintenance is done early in the morning and should not affect your websites for too long.  I actually don't get Uptime Robot notifications when they say they are doing maintenance.  So most of the time I don't even worry about those scheduled maintenance emails.  Something to keep in mind is a lot of web hosts won't inform you when they do server maintenance.  I really appreciate Site5 does though.

site5 resource points

Server Resources

Site5 does offers “Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage.”   People should know that “Unlimited” for shared hosting plans is never truly unlimited.  While Site5 claims to be unlimited they are actually pretty restrictive it seems with their server resources.

Site5 uses an in house metric known as “Resource Points” to determine if your account is using to much of your shared server's resources.  Site5 says it is easy to understand what Resource Points means but I really have no idea and it seems to be vague.  They calculate it based on CPU, inodes, and some other factors which I don't really understand.  (It does state in their Terms of Service that you can't go above 75,000 inodes on any shared account.)  The server operating system (OS) Site5 uses is Apache, which is the industry standard, but to what I've read is not quite as good at handling server resources as other server OS available.

Adam's Auto Advice was shutdown once for using excessive bandwidth which I believe was only 40 gigabytes.  Honestly that is not that much bandwidth usage.  On the flipside in the span of 2 days the Singing Dogs were mentioned on MSN and the Huffington Post.  The traffic for those 2 days spiked A LOT but really only for a limited time during both days.  I thought Site5 would shutdown the Singing Dogs blog for excessive server resource usage.  Most of the time if you have a traffic spike that much within a few hours your web hosting company will deactivate your account.  I was impressed they did not shutdown the Singing Dogs blog considering the huge traffic spike.

I should also mention that I am consistently over Site5's Resource Points soft limits (check the image above) and they haven't said anything about it.  So… I guess it is kind of hard for me to complain.  I appreciate the “soft limits” but it does concern me since I don't understand what my sites are doing that could take up that much Site5 Resource Points.  I wish my websites got tons of traffic but they don't.

People should understand that no Unlimited host can truly offer “Unlimited Hosting” and shouldn't expect that.  The majority of hosting companies, like Site5, that offering shared unlimited plans have limits and will be kind of vague about it.

Speed

It should be noted that most of my websites are WordPress blogs (including this one).  I have 1 MyBB forum which is moderately active that I host with Site5.  The WordPress Multisite installation I have seems to be a bit slow but I haven't not done much work to speed it up.  (Ok, I don't really know how.)  Wordpress Multisite networks are a bit resource intensive and tend to be slower.  The 1 MyBB forum I have is fast and I haven't had issues with that site being slow.

site5 review

 

Site5 Hosting Plan Prices

I've seen some people on hosting and admin forums complain that Site5 is a bit expensive.  For the level of service and support Site5 provides their hosting plan prices are reasonable and inline with the rest of the hosting industry.

Sure you can probably find a great deal from a Endurance International Group (EIG) hosting company but they won't provide support that knows that they are talking about.  In addition their servers will most likely be overcrowded, have a lot of downtime, and be slower than your grandma driving to church.

HostGator's Baby Plan (an EIG company) is $10 a month after coupons and discounts run out.  Site5's HostPro plan, which is what I use, is $10 a month if you prepay 1 year in advance and $9 if you pay 2 years in advance.  Since Site5 doesn't run coupons specials and promotions that often I think it only seems like their pricing is more expensive.  If you check around a lot of companies offer Unlimited Linux server hosting for $10 a month.

Site5's Additional Features

Some notable additional features Site5 offers is daily backups of all accounts.  So if your site was hacked or you for some reason deleted all your files and don't keep backups, which you should, you can request Site5 to restore your website(s) from the day before or up to a week.  Some hosting companies backup data but few do it everyday.

Site5 also offers MultiAdmin which allows you to easily control different cPanl accounts from the SiteAdmin interface.  This is useful if you have several sites you run for clients or yourself and want to make sure you have best best security.  Running each site in it's own cPanel ensures that if 1 site gets hacked, the others will not.

Site5 also offers you the ability to choose where you want your server to be located for shared, reseller, and VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting accounts.  This is useful if you have customers in Brazil and need to setup a website close to those customers for the best service and speed.  Since Site5 has an available server in Joao Pessoa Brazil you can do this easily.  It will just cost a little extra every month.  Site5 also offers many different cities around the world and throughout the United States.

Site5 Themes is another nice extra that Site5 offers.  These are custom designed WordPress themes which are nice layouts and are responsive (meaning they will work on mobiles devices and touchscreens.)  Check them out and see if they would work for you.

Conclusion

site5 web hosting

Overall I have been happy with Site5's service and support but like most hosting companies they still have some room for improvement.  I'd like it if their support was more friendly to people who are not quite as knowledgeable about hosting.  This would not only make some current customers more happy (me) but I assume bring in new customers to Site5.  Also I wish Resource Points was a bit easier to understand.

The person who originally recommended Site5 to me was my brother.  He runs custom scripts and programs via a private website for his Neuroscience studies at Harvard.   (Yeah, he might sound smart but I am actually the smart brother.)  Site5′ customer base seems to cater to those who want to build and run customized scripts and programs on their servers.  So if you have highly specialized needs Site5 would be a good choice.

My brother has been hosting with Site5 for about 7-8 years I believe.  In that time he has not had any issues or complaints that I am aware of.  So that's good for Site5 and shows the type of service they offer in my opinion.

At the time of this review this blog, Singing Dogs, and Adam's Auto Advice is hosted with Site5.  In addition I have several other websites hosted them too.

Even though I have had my own hosting account with Site5 for about 8 months, Adam's Auto Advice has been hosted with Site5 for several years on my brother's Site5 account.  So in essence I have been hosting with Site5 for quite awhile.

Site5 does bill itself as “Web Hosting for Designers” which I think is pretty accurate.  It is an excellent company for web designers and developers.  If you are just starting out with a new website and getting online though Site5 is a good option but not sure if they will be the best for all situations.

If you want to tryout Site5 they do offer a 30-day free trial which NO other web hosting company offers that I know of.  That seriously means you can tryout Site5's service free for 30-days without giving them your money.  Few web hosting companies offer a Free month of service.  So if you want to find out if Site5 meets your needs, you can see easily without hassle.  Site5 also has a 45-day money back guarantee if you want to give them your money.

There is not much else to say except that Site5 is a quality hosting company offering quality hosting service.  Since the company has been around since 1999 you can be assured if you host with them that they are not going anywhere.  There are around 140,000 websites hosted with Site5 and they have about 30,000 customers worldwide.

I hope you have found my Site5 Review helpful and informative.  If you have found this Site5 review useful I would appreciate it if you left a comment below since I like hearing when I help people.

Got an experience with Site5 you want to share?  Whether it is good or bad please leave a comment below to let myself and others know.

Disclaimer: I have included commissionable links in this review.  This means I get a commission when you buy a web hosting plan through Site5 using a link on this page. However nobody can influence my opinions on this site and this Site5 review reflects my honest opinions about Site5's web hosting services. Also the revenue generated from this links help keep this site and my other sites up and running. 🙂

Are Forums better than Social Media?

All the hype and rage you hear from marketers nowadays is all about social media this and social media that.  However, could it be that social media doesn't provide much useful information?

I ran across an interesting article on Social Media Explorer the other day which should make some marketers and companies rethink their social media strategies.  The report examined where the conversations about banks and the banking industry takes place online.  The winner?  Forums.

In the report they found that 90% of information about banks being discussed online is found on online forums.  Social networks accounted for 1% of the real conversations about banking. While Jason Falls, the writer, would obviously like you to purchase his report on the banking industry, keep in mind that he runs a site about social media.  If they were smart they would have thrown out the report and declared social media is the best place to market for banks! 🙂

social media

The article really got me thinking about where I go to find useful information online.  If I wanted to know more about web hosting, I go to a hosting discussion forum.  I would not turn to my followers on Twitter or Facebook since they probably don't know the answer and couldn't help me out.  Most of the time when I need technical help or I am trying to learn something new with software I do the same thing.

Posting cat memes and pictures while fun… come one, that's not useful to anyone.  Of course we all know that Singing Dogs are quite useful for the internet.  (These are my dogs by the way.)  To a certain extent social media is really more ideal for being entertained and engaged.  Something marketers are keen to capitalize on.

For a second I would think about where you get useful information when doing a Google search.  Do you always find what you need on blogs? Probably not.  Does Facebook's search engine (Bing) even work well? No. Can you find technical help on Twitter? Some places sure, but for the most part I doubt you can get technical questions answered in 140 characters or less all the time.

The current bank I have my money with I did research before opening an account with them.  Googling I found a bunch of threads, from genuine people (I hope), recommending their services and after reading these positive reviews on forums I decided to bank with them.  I have been using this bank's services for almost 2 years and couldn't be happier.  Their service and products are better than the local credit union's I was using and they have excellent customer support.

However, in all my research I didn't see anyone from the bank post on these forums or see bank reps taking part in any conversations.  Jason Falls hits the nail on the head when explaining why most marketers don't incorporate a forum into their overall marketing strategy.

marketers are petrified of them [forums]. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

This is an excellent point!  I will get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but the reality is that marketers can't have real and meaningful conversations.  Participating in a forum means you need to really respond to what people say and not feed them what you want them to hear.

A common complaint I've heard about forum marketing is that it can be a lot of work with minimal results.  While it all depends on the niche, and what forums are available in the niche, again you need to provide real value and not just be trying to sell your products or get backlinks for you site.   Let's be fair, marketing on social media networks isn't easy and takes time, work, and a lot of money.

Having recently attended BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, there was no discussion about forums, forum strategies, or how to get a community started.  The majority of the discussions regarding social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Before going to the conference though I turned to the BlogPaws Newbie discussion group to get useful information regarding the conference for new attendees.  I got a lot out of the discussion group where I learned great tips and advice about attending BlogPaws I wouldn't have gotten unless I was part of the Newbie group.  If I had gone to the Twitter or Facebook pages I really wouldn't have gotten many answers to my questions or gained as much insight into BlogPaws before attending.

Since forums have been around since the dawn of the web I guess they really don't have the coolness and ‘new kid on the block' appeal of social networks.  I also rarely hear anyone say they want to start a forum since blogging or building a website product or service is what most people want to get into.

If Social Media Explorer's report is accurate, a lot of marketers should consider what having a good forum presence can offer them and their brand.  Forums are not going anywhere and will be around until the internet dies I bet.  So if the conversations for your audience is on forums, you either should get a forum strategy or start one.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

[Image Source – Social Media Explorer]