What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin, the virtual crypto-currency that is somewhat mysterious and extremely volatile, is a decentralized virtual currency that relies on cryptographic mathematics to determine its creation and trade. If you’re not totally confused yet, hang on, it get’s better.
Bitcoin (BTC) is a digital currency first described in a 2008 paper by pseudonymous developer or group named Satoshi Nakamoto, who called it a peer-to-peer, electronic cash system. Bitcoin creation and transfer is based on an open source cryptographic protocol and is not managed by any central authority. Each bitcoin is subdivided down to eight decimal places, forming 100 million smaller units called satoshis. Bitcoins can be transferred through a computer or smartphone without an intermediate financial institution, which claims to be anonymous and untraceable to any individual.
A bitcoin is simply an SHA-256 hash in hexadecimal format. A person’s bitcoins are stored in a special file called a wallet, which also holds each address the user sends and receives bitcoins from as well as a password/private key known only to the user, which is required before the bitcoins can be spent.
What is the Value of a Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is both a currency and a commodity. Speculators have sent bitcoin value soaring and crashing. As the market valuation of the total stock of bitcoins approached $1 billion USD, some commentators called bitcoin prices a bubble. In early April 2013, the price per bitcoin dropped from $266 to around $50 and then rose to stabilize around $100. As of the date of this article, May 24, 2013, the value of a bitcoin is roughly $131.
Q: Where do you get Bitcoins?
A: You Mine Them
Any computer can run a free application called a Bitcoin miner that performs the necessary calculations to create the coin, storing bitcoins in a free, open source digital wallet of your choice.
Below is a rough overview of the process to mine bitcoins:
By convention, the first transaction in a block is a special transaction that produces new bitcoins owned by the creator of the block. This adds an incentive for nodes to support the network and provides a way to initially distribute coins into circulation, since there is no central authority to issue them nor are they backed by any government or entity.
Why Use or Accept Bitcoin as a Payment Option?
Bitcoin charges no transaction fees for consumers. For merchants, bitcoin offers lower transaction fees, roughly 1%, and protection against any type of chargeback makes it attractive. Bitcoin also opens up business to customers in countries unsupported by PayPal and other credit issuers, as well as minors. Unlike bank transfers through PayPal, payment clears instantly, a benefit for both business and customer. So, would it make sense for Email Answers to accept bitcoin as a payment method? Maybe not (yet).
Where do we go from here?
There is no doubt that bitcoin is risky. The digital currency is vulnerable to loss of public interest, hacking or the bitcoin bubble bursting. There are too many unknown variables which makes bitcoin a proof of concept model at best. There is no doubt that bitcoin is an intriguing concept which has actually gathered some interest. For bitcoin to become truly disruptive requires a critical mass of trusting users. Stay tuned.
According to Merriam-Webster, motive is a noun defined as “something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act.” Everything—and I mean everything—we do in life is dictated by motive, from dragging our butts out of bed in the morning to putting that pint of Ben & Jerry’s back in the freezer without polishing it off. And while the need or desire behind any action may differ between individuals, one thing remains the same: without it, we’d do nothing.
What’s the difference between an ultra-marathoner and a man who spends his weekends on the couch? The answer is motive. The first wants to test his limits, pushing his endurance to the breaking point and then beyond. The latter does not. How about a CEO and a long-term mid-level manager? Again, motive is the answer. You don’t become a Chief Executive Officer without the desire to do what it takes to make it to the top. Long-term mid-level managers, on the other hand, are often satisfied with the status quo.
Motive dictates your business marketing approach—or lack thereof—as well. If you want to reach as many prospects as possible and increase sales, you may choose to use a variety of tools to do so, from email marketing to Google Adwords to social media. If your desire is to coast along, doing little until sales dry up, then find yourself without any money in your pocket and wonder why, I would venture to say you had no motivation to ensure you had enough money in your pocket and dictated your own future. In the first case, your motive dictates actions that will lead you to success—and in the second, to your eventual downfall.
Let’s assume you fall into the first group. The fact that you’re reading our blog, leads me to believe you have at least some interest in exploring new ways to reach prospects and customers. Email is certainly an effective one. According to one recent survey, 66 percent of respondents reported that their email campaigns deliver an “excellent” or “good” return on investment. Eight percent of their businesses earn more than half their sales through email marketing channels.
More sales is an excellent motive for adding email to your marketing mix. Use that desire as fuel for the following actions:
1. Start collecting email addresses. Add an email newsletter sign-up to your website. Ask customers to opt in to communications when they make a purchase. Put those addresses in a database, whether that means customer relationship management software or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. It sounds like work, but it’s worth the effort. Check out Calculating the Value of Your Customer Database if you don’t believe me. Without this information, your email marketing efforts are dead in the water.
2. Get to know your customers. If you don’t know the people who buy from you now, how can you expect to identify those who will purchase your product or service in the future? Now that you have their email addresses, consider surveying your current clients to gather pertinent information. Include questions that will assist you in identifying specific criteria to enable you to target them with custom tailored content. Make sure you store all of this information with your customers data record.
3. Enlist a managed email marketing service. Planning, creating, broadcasting and tracking email campaigns is time consuming work that requires expertise for maximum success. Find a reputable managed email marketing company who can help you with everything from strategy to email validation to conversion studies. Once you provide them with your database, they can help you determine the types of email content that will best resonate with the customers who make up your list.
4. Broaden your scope. Now that you’ve perfected your approach on your current clients, you can expand your efforts to include prospects. A professional third party email marketing company can use your current customer demographics to help you select the proper email list rental of prospects who will also likely be interested in your products or services. Reach out to them regularly and watch your business grow.
What will your motive dictate today? Will you do something beneficial for your business or nothing at all? Success, failure, excellence, mediocrity—the choice is ultimately up to you.
There are some companies who claim to be able to fix or correct an invalid email address. In this article I am going to discuss why this is a terrible idea and why you should NEVER have a company try and correct an invalid or undeliverable email address.
If you have an email list of customers or individuals who have signed up on your website and you haven’t mailed to them in a while, you should have the email list cleaned and validated. This should be your first step and the best insurance you have that you are sending your email campaign to a list of valid and deliverable email addresses.
The problem with companies who claim to be able to correct, fix or update an invalid or undeliverable email address is you cannot be 100% sure that the correction will be valid or accurate. This will cause you more problems, because now you could be sending to a person who did not optin to your email list. Email correction is no more than a guessing game.
Let’s look at some examples:
If firstname.lastname@example.org is not valid and an undeliverable email address, you could assume that the correct email address is email@example.com, but this causes a host of other possible issues. The first problem is that gmial.com is a valid domain. Just because you think that it should be gmail.com does not mean it is gmail.com.
If you get a signup and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You might think it should be email@example.com but in fact, Mesothelioma.co is an actual domain and it sold in September 2010 for $76,000.
If you have an invalid email address of firstname.lastname@example.org, you might assume the person forgot the “h” in Smith. Again, how would you know the person’s name is not John Smit versus John Smith.
There are also the companies who claim that they can correct an old email address and provide you an updated and new email for the person who changed it. Now if every single person who ever changed their personal email address went to a central database and updated it with their old and new email addresses, I could see this working, but that is not the case. After giving this a great deal of thought, I am not even sure how a company could make a claim to be able to update an old email address to a new email address that replaced the old one. Considering most people change their personal email address due to too much spam, trying to get away from someone who is annoying them or they want to start fresh. Therefore it is logical to assume that these people would not consider publishing this information, because it would defeat the purpose of changing their email address as well as becoming a haven for spammers to get fresh email addresses and follow them.
So now that we have discussed all of the reasons why you should never try and guess what someone’s new email address is, by using a company who claims to be able to do this for you, let’s look at how you can better collect emails on your website and ensure they are formatted correctly. You have a few options when it comes to this. The simplest option would be to add some code to ensure the syntax and format of the email address is correct.
Below is the basic explanation of validating that the email address format is correct.
joe @ aol .com – You would validate that the email address has all of the components and they are formatted correctly to be compliant. Here is how it breaks down. The local part of an address (before the @ sign), the domain part (after the @ sign). You would also check to confirm that there aren’t any invalid characters and the email address is RFC Compliant.
Other options would be to require the person signing up to enter their email address twice or use a double optin process to send the person signing up an email to confirm that their email is valid and that they actually signed up on your website.