Showing posts with label email. Show all posts
Showing posts with label email. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Using Big Data to Discover New Customers

Still mass marketing potential customers with emails?  You may instead be driving them away.  Aside from being technologically dated,  unsolicited emails, far more than likely, never get read, leaving only a brief unprofessional impression.


In the article Making Big Data Accessible in MailChimp the founder of a company that makes money sending emails even warns about emails blasts.
Some of you might be thinking, “Great, now you can blast those people press releases!” If so, please unplug your computer now. I can think of no better way to lose a customer than to “blast” them with–well, anything. - Ben Chestnut MailChimp CEO

Instead of driving customers away,  MailChimp allows users to employ basic marketing techniques such as segmentation with their subscriber lists.  The Discovery feature uses big data techniques to parse millions of subscribers in minutes, and help find new customers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The App Train for your Business (InfoGraphic)

The App Train

Top 10 Cloud Apps for your Business introduced apps often used from the cloud. There are several vendors to chose from when implementing these apps. The infographic above shows some of the many options available.  Each vendor has their strengths. Choosing the right vendor depends on your needs and preferences.  Contact AppTrain for help with your cloud solutions.

Document Management
Google Drive
Zoho Docs
Amazon S3

Project Management
Zoho Projects
Salesforce Do

Website Publishing

Zoho Invoice

Customer Relationships
Microsoft Dynamics

Mailing Lists

Version Control

Issue Tracking

Site Monitoring

Monday, August 26, 2013

Top 10 Cloud Apps for your Business

Cloud Computing has graduated from being a technology buzzword to being an essential part of any business or organization. Let's take a look at the main categories off apps that have made the move from shrink wrapped software installed on our local clients, to web based clients that we can run from anywhere. Each of the ten apps covered here are provided by multiple vendors. Example apps are provided. Some of the leading vendors for each category are mentioned, along with a few AppTrain favorites.  Additional cloud apps for your business are listed in The App Train for your Business infographic.

1. Email

Email was the first business app that moved to the cloud. Even legacy organizations that still operate email servers now accommodate employees with web based email clients. In the AppTrain email comparison in March, GMail and Zoho Mail emerged as the front-runners for Email in the cloud.


2. Document Management

Cloud storage offers lower costs, better security, better integration, and improved productivity when compared to legacy office networks. The integration and productivity come from excellent Content Management tools that have evolved. Again Google and Zoho are the favorites in this space.


3. Project Management

Project Management tools will be the subject of a future AppTrain comparison article. BaseCamp is the forefather of the web based project management revolution. But the space is now quite crowed , and some excellent tools like Teambox are emerging.

4. Website Publishing

A clear favorite did not emerge from our Cloud Based Website Builder comparison. The quick site builders fall short when compared to publishing tools like WordPress and Joomla. It seems a Cloud Based Website Publisher Comparison would be more appropriate. Linux for You has an excellent WordPress vs Drupal vs Joomla comparison.

5. Accounting

For invoicing The in-house favorite here at AppTrain has been Freshbooks.  Freshbooks is a classic start in your parents basement company that is now an a accounting leader in the Cloud.

6. Customer Relationships

I'm not a big acronym guy. But  Saleforce has put CRM on the map and has branched into one of the leading cloud computing companies. SugarCRM entered this field not long after, and more recently Zoho has joined the game with , you could have guess it,   ZohoCRM. Leadmaster and Microsoft Dynamics certainly deserve consideration just for not using an acronym in their name.

7. Mailing Lists

When a customer wants to do email marketing, We beg them not to, and try to hip them to social media. But if they must, We refer them to MailChimp. It's good to know Monkey's are still finding work since the space program has cut back.

8. Version Control

Version Control is really document management for programmers. When a client starts developing software they're morphing into a competitor of AppTrain. To make the fight fair, we make sure they know about Unfuddle.  Unfuddle is a collaboration suite for programmers and includes project management and issue tracking along with version control.  The version control options are Subversion and Git but it's the integration with the other tools that sets it apart.

9. Issue Tracking

Things that don't work are called issues. When the issue with software it's called a bug. Do you think Unfuddle developers tracked issues in Bugzilla? Or the creators of Fogbuzz logged bugs in BaseCamp? All four of these tools are excellent, so more than likely, they ate their own dogfood.

10. Site Monitoring

Once a web site or product is in production, we want to make sure it stays working. Uptrends can check any site, verify content and perform multiple step transactions from multiple sites around the globe. They then send alerts via email or SMS when a site isn't performing properly. MxToolbox is a great tool for making sure your dns records are in order, and for staying off spam lists.  They also provide email alerts.

By developing an effective cloud strategy, companies can obtain and keep a competitive edge over companies stuck spending money and time maintaining legacy in-house IT Infrastructures. AppTrain migrates existing infrastructures to cloud solutions, and provides training to help maintain productivity through a seamless transition to the cloud.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cloud Based Email Comparison

Email was the first core business service that migrated to the cloud. Mainly because the benefits of web based email are immediately obvious to users.  No more clunky desktop email clients that end up corrupting archive files.  No more running out of storage space. And perhaps the kicker that necessitated the switch to the cloud, the ability to immediately access email from anywhere with any device.  GmailOffice365Zoho, and HyperOffice all have email solutions for businesses. After the quick comparison chart below,are some of the benefits and common criticisms unique to each solution. Ultimately your choice of email provider will be based on the ability to integrate with other cloud services including Contacts, Calendar,  Document Management, and Collaboration.


is the undisputed leader in cloud based email service.  It was created in 2004 as an internal email client for Google employees.  It now has over 425 Million users, and is the email provider for over 5 million corporations.

With it's widespread adoption, nearly everyone knows how to use Gmail.  And it's design revolutionized web based emails.  It has excellent integration with other Google services like Search, Drive, Calendar, Tasks and Voice.  Gmail is fast, flexible and clever.  Features are constantly being tested in Google Labs helping Gmail retain it's technology lead over the other email platforms.

Despite being the crowd favorite, Gmail is not for everyone.  By default replies to emails are grouped as conversations. Although this feature can be disabled, it is off putting to some users.  Also Gmail embraces the concept of  tags over categories.  Again, this throws off some users who have gotten comfortable with older email clients.  Using filters can help new users get a handle on how tags work. Perhaps the criticism most often bought up by competitors is that Google parses emails for keywords, then uses these to show targeted ads. however this is only for free email accounts.  This is disabled by default with a paid account.


is enterprise-grade email from Microsoft.  Microsoft is the undisputed leader in client server email.  Exchange server is used by the vast majority of fortune 500 companies as their messaging system.

Nearly everyone in the corporate world has used Outlook.  It is the industry standard, and users like it.  The web based version is a familiar interface and easy to adapt to from the traditional client.  Microsoft bundles Outlook365 with their new cloud offering, Office365. It integrates with familiar tools such as Calendar and MS Word. So switching to Office365 from the desktop version is not a huge learning curve.

Microsoft's move towards cloud applications , or software as service is exciting, but a bit late in the game. The Outlook web client works well, but mainly in Internet Explorer.  Some key features such as document integration don't work nearly as well in other browsers. And some features common to other web based email clients are missing.  Searching for text within attachments yields unpredictable results. document types such as pdfs can not be added to document management with a single click. And Outlook365 doesn't recognize iCalendar (.ics) files.   Where features lack, users are directed to use the Outlook desktop client, which defeats the purpose of moving to the cloud.  However Microsoft is notorious for catching up on the technology curve as in the days of Explorer vs. Netscape. It's just a matter of time before Microsoft adds features that web users want.

Zoho Mail

is part of Zoho Office which debuted in 2005 and is a great contender in cloud based office tools.  There are already over 7 million users of Zoho Office.

Zoho is a company completely dedicated to working online.  Although a newcomer,  Zoho has the most comprehensive collection of cloud applications. The mail user interface matches every feature available from competitors, then adds a few, such as integration with social media. It's interface is packed with more features than Gmail, yet loads faster.  iCalendar files open up automatically. Look out Google.

The new car smell is great, but the Zoho applications are still being fine tuned.  A search for text within an attached pdf file didn't turn up any results in Zoho Mail.  Currently only Gmail can handle that task.   However new features are being added quicker than any competitor.  If you want to be near the cutting edge without getting cut, Zoho mail is your product.


, formerly WebOS, has been building an online collaboration suite since 2002.  HyperOffice has over 300,000 users. Once a company before it's time, perhaps their time has finally come.

HyperOffice Email stacks up well with the rest of the crowd.  It's products were built with small businesses in mind.  The company takes pride in customer service, and is quick to offer phone support to its users. It has an impressive suite of products that integrate well with it's email.

The HyperOffice user interface takes a bit of time to load. And it's not that intuitive.  The email search function does not allow for searching content of an email , never mind content of attachments. The site fails to detect when it's being viewed from a mobile device, making an already clunky interface unusable from a smartphone.  While Microsoft can afford to get by without a few features, a small company like HyperOffice cannot.  They have some work to do in order to compete with the other cloud email providers.

Gmail, Office365, Zoho, and HyperOffice are all acceptable email solutions.  Choosing one will depend mainly on user preference.  Before making that decision, consider features in accompanying products in the providers overall office suite, and how well those products integrate with email and with each other.  The good thing is that all four companies offer free trials, so definitely try before you buy.

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