Why Gmail Is No Longer Cool

Gmail launched in 2004, and was immediately a hit largely because they offered more free storage than anyone. It was more than storage that kept Gmail the leader in email, it was powerful features that were easy to use overall. Gmail was one of the first major applications to use AJAX (if you really want to know what this is, Google it, but it’s not important) technology, which almost all applications use today.

Gmail launched in 2004, and was immediately a hit largely because they offered more free storage than anyone. It was more than storage that kept Gmail the leader in email, it was powerful features that were easy to use overall. Gmail was one of the first major applications to use AJAX (if you really want to know what this is, Google it, but it’s not important) technology, which almost all applications use today. They kept enhancing Gmail at a pace that made it nearly impossible for others to keep up.

Gmail now “suffers” from what most businesses (and technology) suffer from: It is now the establishment. Established firms (and technologies) have more customers (users) and years of legacy systems, which enable their business. A small startup comes along with new flashy technology and people say, “Why doesn’t Gmail (or any company/software) do that?” People are drawn to what is new and shiny, and suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), so they try the new software/business.

Gmail is still an incredible email client, and it is impressive to see how what they originally built still lives on in the current application. However, Outlook email has caught up with many of the features, and in some ways surpassed it. Microsoft has stopped acting like the establishment (in some ways) and more like a startup. There are real startups that are also competing for email clients and receiving accolades, as well as funding.

It’s harder to be the establishment and maintain the leading edge on all fronts. Google still dominates search by a long shot and shows no sign of becoming the establishment for search, but some day that too will happen.

This blog is not about encouraging you to leave Gmail and try Outlook or something else. The point of this blog is that most software and businesses become “the establishment.”

Don’t become stale. maintain your fresh perspective and startup-like flexibility and energy. Do something bold and build from there.

A Popular (yet Ineffective) LinkedIn Tactic

Considering investing in LinkedIn automation software? Already using automated tactics? Beware: Automation is not helping social sellers start conversations. Don’t let your hopes or a LinkedIn “expert” (charlatan) tell you otherwise. This isn’t my opinion. I speak from experience — and that of my customers.

LinkedIn logoConsidering investing in LinkedIn automation software? Already using automated tactics? Beware: Automation is not helping social sellers start conversations.

Don’t let your hopes or a LinkedIn “expert” (charlatan) tell you otherwise.

This isn’t my opinion. I speak from experience — and that of my customers.

I don’t like to speak in absolutes. Nothing is certain in our world. But automating the gathering of lead data and sending messages to prospects wastes time, damages reputation and what’s worst is buyers see through it — instantly.

It’s spammy.

Also, LinkedIn is cracking down and suing service providers. It took a while but Microsoft has had enough.

Short-cuts rarely work in life. Buckle-down and do the work. And yes, I know you need to scale. Me too. Tech tools like LinkedIn help us scale time. But LinkedIn automation is ineffective.

Lately, it can also hurt you.

Automating Outreach and Scraping Contact Data

We need targets to call on: Companies, decision-makers and contact data. LinkedIn is a database. But gathering contact data is time-consuming. Plus, getting these contacts to connect with us (open the door to communication) takes time and effort.

Wouldn’t it be great to automate the data collection, connections and messaging? We could mass email messages to prospects — without much effort. We’ll reply to the responses, manage the leads.

Enter LinkedIn automation tools.

But beware of reality:

  1. Automated profile viewers and contact data scrapers are being sued by LinkedIn/Microsoft;
  2. Non-personalized (spammy) or “personalized” (fake personalization) messages aren’t helping sellers start conversations with buyers;
  3. Decision-makers are actually hiding from overzealous sellers and accepting fewer connection requests.

How Automation Software Works

You look up a group of contacts using a LinkedIn search. Boom. Software automatically:

  • Grabs those search results
  • Views each contact’s profile
  • Scrapes the screen (cuts-and-pastes name, company, title, etc. into a spreadsheet)

Software will also:

  • View profiles
  • Invite people with keywords or titles to connect
  • Automatically send them welcome messages when they accept
  • Automatically endorse them
  • Automatically send them congratulatory messages when they have a birthday, work anniversary or change jobs
  • Automatically send sales messages to large swaths of your connections

Sounds great. But let’s pretend you are Microsoft (LinkedIn’s new owner).

You just paid $26 billion for this data. How do you feel about people scraping it? How do you feel about automating all of these non-personalized functions (which are all trying to look personalized and social)?

That’s why LinkedIn is suing these service providers.

Automation tools are popular. But these are often “companies” that have no public contact data themselves! Companies that, in fact, aren’t companies … and have (for years now) operated in clear violation of LinkedIn’s Terms & Conditions.

LinkedIn prospecting expert, Bruce Johnston, is blunt:

“It is instructive that I went through my list and less than half of the companies I added 12 to 15 months ago still exist.”

A Fount of Knowledge About Fonts

Get ready, we’re going to get a little geeky here — about fonts. Specifically, OpenType fonts and how they add so much flexibility and readability to any project. What’s even better is that you don’t need the latest designer tools or applications to add interest and impact to your work.

Get ready, we’re going to get a little geeky here — about fonts. Specifically, OpenType fonts and how they add so much flexibility and readability to any project. What’s even better is that you don’t need the latest designer tools or applications to add interest and impact to your work.

Got Microsoft Word? Get set to make everything more professional and legible, while simultaneously adding that “Wow” factor. But first, a brief history of font types:

PostScript Type 1 Fonts

Introduced by Adobe in 1984, PostScript Type 1 fonts are encoded outline font specifications used for professional digital typesetting. They were not widely recognized until Apple came out with its first LaserWriter in 1985 — which at that time had fonts residing IN the printer, using bitmap outlines on the computer in different sizes.

TrueType Fonts

After the introduction and implementation of PostScript Type 1 Fonts, Apple and Microsoft developed an outline standard in the late 1980s that has become the most common format for fonts on both Macs and PCs. This generation of fonts is referred to as TrueType Fonts. TrueType Fonts improved upon PostScript Type 1 Fonts by giving developers better control of how their fonts are displayed at all font sizes.

OpenType Fonts

And finally, OpenType Fonts were developed in the early 1990s. OpenFonts improved upon TrueType Fonts by increasing readability, facilitating different writing systems more effectively, and even adding typography tricks! (That’s the simple description. The geeky one is you’ll have more powerful typographic formatting and simpler font management, with better cross-platform support and portability.)

Of course, you knew that already, right? So check out this animated GIF below, detailing some of the features of OpenType fonts:

Play with the above Demo at Ricardo Magalhães Blog
Play with the above Demo at Ricardo Magalhães Blog
  • Ligatures: Simply stated, a ligature occurs where two or more letters are joined as a single glyph. Why use them? They help keep letters from overlapping and can really improve legibility.
  • Oldstyle and Lining Numerals: The default in almost all fonts is aligning numbers perfectly with each other, which works very well in charts, spreadsheets or anywhere math is involved. But there are some Oldstyle fonts with a default perfect for if you are just using numbers within normal text. Why care? You can now choose which number format to use in any font. Lining numbers tend to stand out in body text because they all stand tall like capital letters. Oldstyle numbers look more like upper and lower case characters, creating a more blended appearance within the text. This is one of my favorite benefits of OpenType fonts, as they improve readability and aesthetics. In an earlier post — “3 Type Facts You Don’t Know, But Should“ — I explain both ligatures and Oldstyle numbers in much more detail if you would like to learn more.
  • Contextual and Stylistic Alternatives: Think of these as accessorizing your fonts, like adding cool jewelry to your type with extra letters and swooshes.
  • Fractions: Now you can choose to use true fractions actually designed for the font, instead of squishing numbers together separated by a solidus. A definite plus for look and readability.
  • Ordinals: In the same way as fractions, ordinal characters are designed for the font rather than programmatically created, increasing legibility.

Remember, these added features are only found in OpenType fonts. This means when purchasing any new fonts, it is important to pay attention: TrueType fonts are still sold. Make sure you are buying an OpenType font.

Flaunt Your Fonts

Ready to get in touch with your inner type-geek? Study this tutorial by Magpie Paperworks first on how to turn on these extras in Microsoft Word.

Whatever the project may be, OpenType fonts could make the difference between so-so and so much more impressive.

Better Type in Word and PowerPoint for Marketers

For all the marketers who are non-designers, but who also need to make your docs look good, here’s some simple typography tips that will make your Word docs and PowerPoint presentations look better.

If you ask any designer how much they love working in Word and PowerPoint you’ll hear a lot of grumbles. We hate the programs and will try hard to convince you to let us do the project in InDesign. But sometimes it has to be in a Microsoft product.

We begrudgingly sit down and struggle with Word and PowerPoint’s weak and confusing type tools.

So for all the marketers who are non-designers, who need to make your docs look good, here’s some simple typography tips that will make your Word docs and PowerPoint presentations look better.

All these tips are adjusted in the “Paragraph” dialog box found under Format > Paragraph

Paragraph BoxLine/Paragraph Spacing

This is always my first “go to” when teaching non-designers how to make both Word and especially PowerPoint presentations look better. It’s subtle, but makes copy read easier. The trick here is to pay attention to line spacing (leading) and then the space in between paragraphs (space before and after).

Line spacing should be set looser than Word’s normal line spacing. Most people use the default line spacing of “Single” for their documents. That’s ok, but I’ve found if you give the document a little extra line spacing it reads easier.

You can do this two ways under “Line Spacing” in the Paragraph box

  1. Exact: Set your “Line Space” to “Exactly” and it will default to 12pt. Set the line space to three or four points larger than your body text size. For 10pt type I’d set the line spacing to 13pt or 14pt. You’ll need to set this for each font size you use. If you have 14pt type you’ll set the line spacing to 17pt or 18pt. This can be time consuming if you have many text sizes in your document. There’s a more global approach —“Multiple.”
  2. Multiple: Set your “Line Space” to “Multiple” and it will default to 3. That will be 300 percent of the font size — way too big and only something Microsoft could come up with. I’ve found 1.15 will works perfectly giving all your text a similar look to “exact” 10pt type with 13pt line spacing. Think of this as a percentage — 1.15 is equal to 115 percent, or an additional 15 percent of a line space.

Using one of these approaches will improve the look of all your body text. Next we’ll adjust the space between paragraphs.

Paragraph spacing, the space in between paragraphs, can be controlled both before and after a paragraph. Most people simply hit return twice at the end of a paragraph and add a line space to separate paragraphs. This is a simple and heavy-handed method. Here’s the better way to adjust this space.

  1. Space After will allow you to simply hit return once and the space after paragraphs will automatically be created. No need to hit return twice to create the space. In the “Paragraph” box set the “space after” to the space you’d like between your paragraphs. Start by setting it to the size of your type. It’ll be the same as hitting return twice. If your type size is 10pt, set the space after to 10pt. But now you can be subtler and add more or less space to get a better look.
  2. Space Before will allow you to add space before the paragraph. So what’s the difference between space before or after? Nothing really, it’s how you use it. I typically use “space after” for paragraph spacing. I use “space before” for separating headlines and subheads from the paragraph before it. This helps to separate sections apart from each other. An oddity with “space before” is it needs to be larger than the “space after” of the paragraph before it. If the “space after” is 10pt the “space before” of the paragraph below it has to be at least 11pt to have an affect. See the sample below.

The trick with “space before” and “space after” is to always be consistent how you use them. Don’t sometimes use “space before” to get the separation between paragraphs and then other times use “space after.” Otherwise you won’t know which to adjust from paragraph to paragraph. Be consistent.

Line and Paragraph SpacingBulleted Text

Here’s the next area that good typography can make a huge difference in readability. Word and PowerPoint’s standard settings are poorly thought out and actually make bulleted lists very difficult to read.

Is Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback Service Good for Advertisers?

By now, you probably have all heard about Microsoft Corp.’s new service, Microsoft Live Search cashback.
In case you haven’t, the service will offer ad-funded cash rebates to customers who find and purchase products.

According to a Microsoft press release, “the Live Search cashback product portfolio includes more than 10 million product offers from more than 700 merchants, including more than 13 of the top 40 U.S. retailers.”

By now, you probably have all heard about Microsoft Corp.’s new service, Microsoft Live Search cashback.
In case you haven’t, the service will offer ad-funded cash rebates to customers who find and purchase products.

According to a Microsoft press release, “the Live Search cashback product portfolio includes more than 10 million product offers from more than 700 merchants, including more than 13 of the top 40 U.S. retailers.”

Live Search cashback, according to Microsoft, “helps merchants maximize their advertising investments and drive more sales by providing consumers with an added incentive to buy — a cash rebate. Participating merchants choose to pay Microsoft a [cost-per-acquisition] fee each time a customer completes a sale through Live Search cashback. The fee is a percentage of the retail price, and when that transaction is complete, Microsoft returns that fee to the consumer in the form of a cash rebate.”

However, the current cost-per-click model charges advertisers for every click on a sponsored link associated with certain keywords, whether or not the potential customer makes a purchase.

But, not to worry, according to Microsoft: In the press release, the software behemoth said the CPA model gives advertisers a more precise return on their advertising investment, and is currently being deployed on a relatively limited basis.
“The CPC and CPA search advertising models represent the most targeted advertising approaches available today, but there is still room for improvement,” the company said.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know by posting a comment.