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The Top 12 Sites in the Marketing with Social Media Course

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speaking-workshops Below is a list of the top 12 sites by unique visitors, visits and page views (they are different) upon completion of the Marketing with Social Media MBA course taught by Bill Belew (that’s me writing about myself in the 3rd person).

The course focused on content/inbound/social media marketing and was taught at the graduate level in an accredited university in Silicon Valley. Here are the details:

  • The students had different blogging rhythms – 1-3 times daily and wrote various lengths of posts – 200+ to 600+ words.
  • All actively created internal and external links and fished, legitimately, for back links.
  • The students guest posted twice each week at BillBelew.com and at a classmate’s site of their choice.
  • The students also wrote evergreen/anchor/pillar posts weekly.
  • Finally, some students actively worked their social networks if they had a presence.

For good or bad, take a look at the top 12 sites. I encourage you to let the students know what you think of their ongoing product.

Visits Uniques Page Views
Soccer Roundup 1,764 1,260 4,732
UI Design 1,134 437 3,053
Arts and Crafts* 2,789 2,393 14,691
Saumya’s Kitchen 1,887 1,163 4,329
Techno Evolution Leads Revolution 1,594 1,308 3,083
Rph at Work 1,542 1,081 5,722
Info-Nepal 1,901 1,422 4,984
Migrated Mouse 1,455 1,147 2,477
Colors n Spirits 3,076 2,115 20,907
Social Media Buff 2,453 1,726 4,855
Jinie’s Kitchen 5,332 3,419 14,284
World of Dance 2,047 1,843 3,413
 *the first month of data is missing
Course aggregate 43,599 28,376 122,680

Out of the 60 active students that finished the course, these top 12 (20%) students received:

66.5% of unique visits

61.9% of visitors

70.5% of page views. 

Where is Pareto when you need him? Indeed, 20% of the class clearly did generate the majority of the output.

Some of the questions I have at this point which I will address in future posts …

1. Does blogging pace make a difference? Multiple times/day of short posts vs one ‘meatier’ post daily? How about a combination to this approach?

2. Could the students generate organic traffic without relying on keyword research?

3. Does content have to be grammar perfect? For many of my students, English is their second and even 3rd or 4th language!

4. What about cheating and duplicate content? Does it work? Some of my students went that route and in a future post I will tell you how that worked, or didn’t work for them.

5. What is an average bounce rate? Time on site? Page view to unique visit ratio?

6. Do my instructions work in other languages? 2 of my students wrote in Chinese and one in Japanese.

7. What was the hardest part for these newbie bloggers?

8. How did they keep themselves motivated or not?

And and and …

9. What questions would you like to ask? What answers might I be able to dig out for you from this experiment?

I have a ton of data that I will share here in the coming months and at my home site – BillBelew.com and at NMX 2014. Will you be there? I will.

BTW, how’s your blog working for you?

Measuring the Performance of Your Facebook Page

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You have invested the time, effort and money into making a Facebook page for your business. Is your business reaping the rewards from this?  I love Facebook and write about Facebook Ads and engagement all the time.  It is easy to tell with one look if you have a lot of activity on your business’s Facebook page, but is that activity actually doing anything good for your company or is it actually harming business?

Today we will show you how to analyze your Facebook page’s performance and find the answers to these questions, so you can find out what is working and what isn’t.

Social Media Engagement

Measuring the social media engagement on your Facebook page is a good starting point to determine your page’s performance. However, it can only tell you so much. Measuring the number of fans, page views, comments, tab views and etc. that your page has by using tools such as Facebook Insights will tell you how many people are looking at your business, but it does not tell you how many people are actually purchasing your services or products.

That being said, it is still a good source of information to see if your social media efforts are being seen. You probably will notice peaks of activity in these stats. Some peaks will be due to holiday seasons, but some peaks may be due to promotions you have been running. By looking at these peaks, you can tell which social media efforts have been most effective.

Social Influence

Having activity on your Facebook page is one thing, but is it all good PR? It’s important to measure the type of activity you are getting. The saying “there is no such thing as bad press” does not apply to your Facebook page. Negative comments on your page or about your business elsewhere on the web can have a detrimental impact on your business.

On the other hand, positive comments can increase your customer base. Use tools such as Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred to measure your social influence. The statistics these sites can give you will enable you to determine if you need to make adjustments to your Facebook page and/or business practices.

Performance

Now that you know how much activity your Facebook page has and whether it is positive or negative, you need to determine how that data is actually affecting your bottom line. A good social media presence is great, but if it does not actually translate into increased revenue for your business, then your social media impact is little more than an ego boost. Measure the performance of specific links to see if your social media posts are resulting in sales.

Google Analytics can be a great tool to do this with. It can tell you how many hits on your website are actually coming from your Facebook page, and which links they are coming from. Using this data, you can determine which Facebook posts have been most effective.

Free Tools

It may be true that you have to spend money to make money, but not when it comes to measuring the performance of your Facebook page. There are professional services that can help you, but there is still a lot that you can do by yourself. To do this, take advantage of one or more of the free tools out there, which we have listed below:

  • Hootsuite measures and monitors your social media engagement
  • Bit.ly measures the click-throughs on your links
  • Social Mention tracks mention of your business and its competitors on the web
  • Serps Rank checker – This is only a 30 day free trial but will help you to get everything you need!

So now you know the performance of your Facebook page and what efforts have been fruitful. Hopefully, you are getting the results you want. If not, it is never too late to make changes.

30 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Bounce Rate

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is that pesky statistic that tells you how many people click through to other pages on your blog after reading whatever page they landed on in the first place. Earlier this month, I wrote a bit about why bounce rate is important. Today, I wanted to take a moment to link to tons of other bloggers talking about the same topic, including many with tips on how to improve your bounce rate.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate by Matt Quinn

If you’ve interested in keeping people on your site longer, this post by Matt at Inc.com is a great place to start. Matt gives quite a few tips in this post, from Caleb Whitmore, CEO of Analytics Pros, but the best part of this post is that each tip ends with a “dig deeper” link – another post on the site where you can find more about making the specific tip work for you, whether you’re changing your design or improving load times.

From the post:

A site’s bounce rate is easy to track with tools like Google Analytics. Such tools can show you the bounce rates on different pages of your website, how the user came to your site (organic search, paid search, banner ad, etc.), how the bounce rate has changed over time, and other data so you can really dig into where you might have a leak.

As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you’re in excess of 80 percent, you’ve got a major problem.

After checking out the entire post, you can find Matt on Twitter @mattquinn16, and he also is a contributor to Wall Street Journal’s corporate finance blog.

The Bounce Rate Myth by Rick Allen

Most bloggers I’ve linked to in this post agree that bounce rate is important, but I think that Rick makes from really good points in this post. When it comes to metrics, nothing is truly black and white, so it’s important to understand your bounce rate and why it might be high (or low). In this post, Rick talks about how you can examine your stats more closely to really understand what’s happening on your site. This is a must-read post – don’t just blindly start to make changes on your site because another blogger says it’s a good idea! Writes Rick,

Analysts typically use bounce rate as a measure of poor quality content — or as an expression of dissatisfaction with your site. But bounce rate has a lot more to say than simply “your website stinks.” In fact, it might even say something good!

As with all web metrics, we need context to provide meaningful insights. Maybe one bounce means a visitor left because she immediately found what she was looking for or bookmarked the page to view it later. Every web metric has more than one angle.

After checking out Rick’s entire post, you can find him on Twitter @epublishmedia.

Bounce Rate: Sexiest Web Metric Ever? by Avinash Kaushik

This post is great because it gives you a really in-depth explanation of how you can track and understand your bounce rate. More importantly, with each step you take to examine your bounce rate, Avinash gives you an “action” – basically, what you can do to make your bounce rate better after looking at your stats. You can examine your site’s numbers as much as you want, but until you actually take action, nothing will change! Writes Avinash,

Start by measuring the bounce rate for your entire website. Any decent web analytics tool will give you this as soon as you log into it. You’ll understand better why your conversion rate is so low, if you have made changes over the last x amount of time then watching a trend of bounce rate is a sure way to know if the changes you are making are for the better.

Now you are ready to dive deeper.

After reading Avinash’s entire post (and hopefully taking some of the steps he recommends to improve your bounce rate), you can find him on Twitter @avinash. He is also the author of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and blogs at Occam’s Razor.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Bounce Rate? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link

Next Week’s Topic: Managing Forums

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Is Your Site Too Bouncy?

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Bouncy balls? Lots of smiles! Bouncy readers? Not so much…

Right now, I’m compiling links about bounce rate for Brilliant Bloggers, and it struck me that a lot of bloggers out there might not even know what bounce rate is and why they should want a lower number. So, I’ll get to all the links and tips for creating a stickier blog tomorrow…today, I thought it might be helpful if we all talk about why this matters in the first place!

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is a number hidden in your states, usually reflected as a percentage. This is the one case when a lower number is better! Basically, a bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site after reading only their entry page, the page that got them to your blog in the first place. They don’t click any internal links. They don’t go to the home page. They don’t click the “read more” button. They just leave.

So, you actually want a lower bounce rate. The lower the rate, the more people are sticking around and checking out other areas of your blog, maybe even subscribing to your RSS feed or mailing list.

They Like Me…They Really Like Me!

Traffic is a great way to measure your success as a blogger, but I think sometimes the numbers can be more complex than we’d like to admit. Traffic spikes from, for example, a popular post on StumbleUpon can make your monthly totals soar. However, when you look at the bounce rate from that traffic, it tends to be very high.

It’s not that you didn’t have great content, because if you didn’t, it wouldn’t have gotten popular on StumbleUpon, but it’s more important that a person likes you, not just your blog posts. When a person is interested in you, not just your content, they want to read more, and they even want to subscribe or bookmark so they can stay connected in the future.

Readers to Consumers

Your readers consume your content, but you want them to be a consumer in another sense as well – you want them to buy your stuff, whether that’s items through affiliate links or your own products or services. People who bounce away from your site quickly don’t become consumers. The next step after becoming a consumer is becoming a brand advocate, where they actually go out and tell other people to buy from you as well…and that definitely doesn’t happen when they bounce from your site quickly!

Tricky Stats

Bounce rate is just one part of understanding your stats. I think it’s important not to have blinders on when examining numbers. Even bounce rate doesn’t alone accurately reflect what is happening on your site. Stats are tricky! But don’t ignore bounce rate, especially when you see a traffic spike. Understanding whether or not people are sticking around to check out the rest of your blog can help you create better content.

How much importance do you put in bounce rate versus raw traffic numbers? Leave a comment to tell us!

In Defense of Stat Tracking

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I have a confession: I check my stats every day. In fact, sometimes, I check my state multiple times a day. I track my ebook sales, my traffic, my mailing list subscribers, my RSS subscribers, and my affiliate sales. I track how many people come to my site via search engines and how many subscribers click on links in my emails. I track which subscription methods work better. I track whether I get more clicks when I tweet something in the morning versus at night. I love stats and I track them almost to obsessive lengths sometimes.

Yet, so many bloggers advocate focusing on content and forgetting about stats, which I can understand, at least to some extent. I know bloggers who say that they rarely look at stats, checking their numbers a few times a month, if that. I can’t even imagine. But it can be problematic if you spend all your time tracking stats and less time writing great content. As a new blogger, it’s also easy to get discouraged if your stats are pathetic at first, even if the logical side of you knows that everyone starts at zero. So it makes sense that some people advocate ignoring stats.

Today, though, I’d like to make the case for stats tracking. I think that someone needs to defend the practice – and I’d like to explain, at least from my perspective, why it’s worthwhile.

And what I’m going to say might surprise you, because this has nothing to do with all of the practical reasons you should track your stats.

A few weeks ago, David Risley wrote a post called “What The Blog Statistics You Track Say About You…” I thought that he made a lot of really good points in this post – if you’re blogging for bucks, there are certain stats that make sense to track while others don’t matter.

Or do they?

First, let me address some of the excellent advice David gives readers in his post. It makes sense that you’d track stats directly related to your income. It’s responsible, as a business owner, to know what’s working and what is not. As you create goals, you can more easily take actionable steps, and that can translate into dollars in your pocket. Who doesn’t love that?

But sometimes, I think we take a too cynical approach to stats. Cynical is perhaps too harsh of a word. Practical. We take a too practical approach to stats.

Or, at least, we only take a practical approach to stats.

Think about why you got into blogging in the first place, though. Blogging is about soul as much as it is about business. Talk to any a-list blogger out there and they’ll tell you that the reason they do what they do is because they love blogging. The money is just a side benefit. Most bloggers blogged long before they ever made a cent, and most bloggers would keep blogging, at least as time allows, if it wasn’t possible to make money online. If you are blogging only for the money, you’re doing it wrong…because frankly, there are about seven thousand easier jobs you could do and feel equally “meh” about to make money. It’s not like this is an easy career path. Blogging is a job, but it is a job we love.

It’s easy to lose site of that sometimes.

So today, my defense of stat tracking is this: track your stats so you can remember why you do this.

Even the impractical stats, the ones that David mentions as being unimportant to your business, are important to your soul as a blogger. If you get 500 retweets on your post, that might not translate to a single ebook sale…but woah. That means you wrote something that affected FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE enough that they felt the need to go share it. That’s pretty damn cool. Your RSS subscriptions might not mean anything in terms of sales, but if you have 10,000 subscribers, that’s TEN THOUSAND people who are so interested in what you have to say that they don’t want to miss a single word. That’s pretty damn cool too.

It’s especially important as a new blogger. Your numbers might be smaller, but where were you yesterday? Yesterday, your spouse may have patiently listened to you rant about something important to you, but today, fifty people visited your site and read the post you made about the topic. Those are fifty lives you have potentially changed. Blogging is such a unique avenue to affect people from around the world. Money is nice, but to me, that is much better.

So go ahead and check your stats today without guilt, even if it doesn’t cause you to change a single thing about how you run your blog. Celebrate the fact that you’re reaching more and more people every day and enjoy finding your place in the world with your blog. Even if your blog is your primary source of income, it doesn’t have to be all business all the time.

Do Statistics Really Matter?

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Wake up. Check my Feedburner numbers. Check my traffic stats for the day so far. Check my traffic stats with a second tracking service for comparison. Check my Klout score. Check my Twitter follower numbers. Check my Aweber subscription numbers. Check ebook sales. Check. Check. Check…

I’m not kidding. Every morning I wake up and check roughly 53,083 different statistics involving my various blogs. And because I’m curious, I check some of them two or three times throughout the day. This is in stark opposition to some of my blogging friends, who only check their stats once or twice a week – or even once or twice a month. Heck, I know people who don’t check their stats at all unless an advertiser asks for numbers.

But I also know that a lot of you out there are like me, checking your stats daily or even several times a day. So the question I want to  ask is this: Does it matter? Do statistics really matter to you as you’re trying to build a better blog?

Today, I’d like to make an argument for stats. I know a lot of bloggers out there are telling you to forget stats, to not get so bogged down by them, and although I think that advice can be useful, I’d like to talk about the opposite perspective.

Tracking Goals

I’m somebody who sets a ton of goals in life. I’m also someone who has action steps written out so I can actually reach those goals, because it bothers me when I set a goal but don’t follow through. When it comes to career-related goals, statistics can actually come in quite handy. If my goal is to increase my readership numbers, how can I know that what I’m doing is working if I don’t look at stats? The concept of “write great content and they will come” is wrong; many awesome blog have closed simply because they didn’t have readers. You can’t just take a cue from other blogs in your niche either. What works for them to build numbers may not work for you.

Without stats, you basically have to try everything – and then continue doing everything. You have to be on every social network. You have to bookmark every post with every site. You have to reply to comments and send out newsletters and guest post and do all those other things that experts recommend for building traffic. What’s working? You don’t know – so you have to keep doing it all. If you track your stats, you can stop doing the things that do not work. If I only get three visitors a month from digg, and I going to continue using that site? Not if I’m getting 3,000 a day from Twitter.

So it follows that tracking stats helps you save time. You not only get to see the progress you’re making toward your ultimate goals, but you’re able to see what’s working and focus your time there.

Content Creation

One of the ways I like to use my stats is for brainstorming content ideas. Check out the search terms people are using to find your site. Those are the topics that they are most interested in, so you may consider writing posts relating to these topics. Which emails had really high open and click rates? Again, that indicates which topics people found most interesting. Did people unfollow you on Twitter in masses following a link to one of your posts? It might have offended people or was otherwise pretty far off base in terms of interest.

Content is the driving force of any blog, so if there are tools that can help me create content better tailored to my readers, you can bet I’m going to use them.

Advertising

How much are you charging for advertising right now? Let’s say you get around 50,000 visitors per month to your site and you charge $50 for a small banner ad on the sidebar. Awesome. If you don’t check your stats, how will you know when to raise advertising rates?

If your traffic spikes, it might not be kosher to ask for a higher advertising price, but if you consistently raise your numbers, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not raising advertising fees too. Maybe by the end of the year, you’re getting 500,000 visitors per month. Charging that same $50 per banner ad is a little silly if that’s the case. However, if you only check your stats once or twice a year, when you do see that they’ve gone up, your ad price will have to jump drastically. Advertisers don’t like being told that that prices are jumping from $50 per month to $500 per month, even if you have the traffic to back it up. Checking your traffic regularly allows you to raise prices incrementally.

You can also send out notes to advertisers when you see significant spikes, even if you aren’t raising prices. Right now, I’m not working with a ton of advertisers, but in the past (when I was), I would send out quarterly updates, and I got a lot of good feedback from them about doing this. Even when there’s a slow month, they appreciate seeing the numbers and hearing what I’m doing to draw in traffic.

I will say this about stats: it can be an addiction. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I don’t need to check them every day, and I certainly don’t need to check them several times per day. You can waste a lot of time looking at your stats, and if you’re just starting out, it can be discouraging to see small numbers. Heck, when I first started, there were days when my site had ZERO people visiting (other than me). So, take my recommendation to check stats with a grain of salt. Don’t be too lackadaisical about them – but don’t become obsessed either.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Stat Discouragement (@tsudo)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Understanding your blog’s analytics and using that info to grow your blog’s readership

As I’ve already said once tonight, stats are not my favorite. I don’t like analyzing them. Heck, I don’t even like checking them. I think one tweeter tonight especially touched on why stats are hard for me:

@tsudo: Measuring audience is important but don’t allow it to be a discouragement to creating useful content.

No matter how well my blogs are doing, I always have higher aspirations. I’m one of those annoying people who is never satisfied, even when I reach my goals. So, stats always seem like a bit of a let down to me. The doubt starts to creep in.

I’m not growing fast enough.

My reader bounce rate is super high. I must not be writing engaging content that encourages people to stick around.

Most of my referrals are from Google. I’m not doing enough to promote by blog through social networking sites, and no one feels compelled to retweet my links.

I had a bad stats day. All is lost.

I know in my heart that even a horrible stats day doesn’t mean that all is lost, yet it if easy to look at stats and wonder why you aren’t doing better. I bet some of the most popular bloggers in the world look at their stats some days and feel discouraged that they only have one million readers instead of two million readers.

The key is to be productive when you look at your stats, rather than letting it paralyze you and prevent you from creating good content.

Take a good look at your last two weeks of posts. Are they high quality? Are they original? Are they focused to be relevant for your target market? Are they consistent? If you truly believe in what you’re doing, keep doing it. Don’t stop just because you see a day of bad stats or aren’t growing as quickly as you wish you could be.

Of course, on the flip side, it is also important to not ignore bad stats. If your readership hasn’t grown for months, you have to ask yourself: why? Maybe you need to reevaluate your niche, your market focus, or your style approach. Don’t blindly continue to post for months or even years if you have no readers. Figure out why.

The point is, take any stat number with a grain of salt. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you think you could be doing better, but rather than simply not posting, continue producing high-quality content and take steps to discover why you aren’t doing as well as you’d like to be doing.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Is Email Taking Over Your Life?

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The first thing I do every morning is answer my email. During the day, I check my email multiple times. Before I go to bed? Yep, email. One more time. Just in case.

Answering emails is a part of the territory if you’re a professional blogger, or really any kind of online professional. Sometime, though, I think I overdo it. Do I really need to check my email so often.

I started thinking about how often I check my email because I read an article on Mashable called “The Truth About Email” and was surprised at the one of the stats they posted – 19% of people surveyed check their emails while in bed. That number jumps to 31% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

I was surprised…but I’ve done it. There are nights when I’ll work while sitting in bed before I go to sleep and mornings when I’ll do some work from bed while having a cup of coffee.

My theory is that this number is so high because so many people are starting their own blogs. Even before quitting their day jobs, many are publishing content online, either as a hobby or side job to make a little extra money. It would be interesting to do another poll, this time just with bloggers, both full and part time. I’m willing to bet that email in bed is even more common among bloggers!

Although it is a task that we have to do is we want any kind of success, email can easily take up way too much time. I’m a guilty part when it comes to this, since I easily click on my email to check it 20+ times a day. More if I’m doing a project I find boring, unfortunately.

Confessional: The other day, I was answering a rather long email, and in the middle of doing it, I opened a new window to check my email. That’s right; I checked my email while I was answering an email.

I know some people limit the number of times per day they check their email. I’ve found that it doesn’t work for me to do that to myself. I just get panic-y that I’m going to miss an important email or an email that will make my job easier. If it works for you to say, “I will only check my email at 8 AM and 5 PM every day, more power to you. If that doesn’t work for you like it doesn’t work for me, here are a few tips you can use:

  • Create a folder called “need to answer.” If something isn’t pressing but does demand a reply, put it in folder and set aside time at the end of the day (preferably before you get into bed!) to answer these emails. It’s more efficient than answering emails one at a time as you receive them during the day and also helps you keep need-to-answer emails separate from other emails you want to save, like email newsletters.
  • Forward all emails to a single address. You might have different emails for different blogs, a personal email for friends, etc. I know I do. Forward them all to a single address that you can check during the day. Just make sure you answer emails from the correct account!
  • Set up your cell to make a noise when you get an email, if you have a net-friendly phone. I think there are some desktop clients that do the same thing, essentially – ping when you have a new email. Of course, if you get hundreds every day, that’s not going to work, but if you get more like a dozen every day, this saves you from going through the log in process even though you don’t have any new messages.

My last bit of advice? Use a separate email for signing up for things like contests and newsletters and such – anything that might put you on a spam list. That way, you aren’t checking non-necessary crap during the day – you can just sort through that when you have time to pull out the legitimate emails. Keep a separate email address for your blog or work, because those are the emails that really matter and need the quickest answers.

Ok, I gave my email tips – your turn! How do you keep email from taking over your life?

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