Removing Fake Signups for MailChimp

Removing Fake Signups for MailChimp

Something you will realise when your blog gets older is that you’ve installed several iron gates between your blog and this endless march of spammers, botters and shady types. I provide one method in which I tackled an attack on my list and go into some ideas on why this attack might have come about.

This article was inspired recently by an inundation of fake email subscribers to my list. At the high point I was receiving 11 new subscribers a day to my list but there was something unusual about each new subscriber.

Disclaimer: As a policy, I won’t display any information directly from my MailChimp account as it would breach the confidentiality of those legitimate subscribers on my list. I take privacy seriously. Needless to say that from the 11th August to 24th August I had received 84 subscribers. In real life I’d love to see a campaign go that well but I knew it was too good to be true.


First Indication: An Unusual Amount of Un-subscribers

I admit to have not been checking my total levels for some time. A little remiss of me but I’ve been working hard on non-blog related activities up until a few months ago so my focus had been elsewhere.

A good idea is to perform a check of your numbers on a set period. It doesn’t have to be too frequent but something like once a month for subscriber numbers if you have a small list should keep you in check.


Second Indication: First Name and Last Name

Having a look through my older subscribers revealed sensible entries in the First name and last name. Following the 11th August I had discovered that randomised data was coming through the pipe. It seemed very odd. An example:

First name: cklldvsajdf

Last name: adfakjfnsdf

Ideally you should see a first name and last name. Not everybody wants to share that kind of information so you might get a first name or no names. Validation on your form can help with this.


Third Indication: Less Views on the Site than Signups per Day

As much as it pains me to admit it, doesn’t always attract a lot of attention. Since I’ve scrubbed away some non-relating posts my viewings have dropped as a result but at least now I can see the truly engaged. If there are fewer people viewing than subscribing this would indicate there is something fishy going on.

The rationale is that the user has to signup to your email via your website through the signup form. If you have attracted the attention of a spam-bot, these bots can circumvent the form. Some bots can even simulate false “opens” to emails sent through your mailing list giving your email list the appearance of activity.

MailChimp ranks users on your list by a star rating. I have two 5 star members of my mailing list who frequently open content and have been following my site for a long time.

  • New Subscribers start out on 2 stars.
  • If the next group of campaigns bounce or go unread the subscriber will go down to 1 star. Eventually these low quality subscribers will be cleaned off the list if they bounce consistently or fail to read.
  • If the Subscriber interacts they will slowly climb up the star rating over time. Those who open and click on content will rank higher quicker.


Actions Taken

Obviously just burying your head in the sand is not a viable option and I’ll explain why later. For now these actions are those I undertook to quarantine and rectify the issue.


1st Action: Go to MailChimp and Setup a Segment from the Date that the Attack Started

Creating a segment is very easy in MailChimp. What it performs is a smaller group of your list that meet certain requirements.

You need to head to your main list so that you can create a segment from it. Once a segment is created you can create a new campaign using that segment as the source.

You need to head to your main list so that you can create a segment from it. Once a segment is created you can create a new campaign using that segment as the source.

You will also want to categorise the segment by those who signed up through the contact form. However, in my case I had a non-official plugin running my signups with a better looking signup form. I’ve now had to compromise for security and peace of mind.

All active sources of signup will be displayed in the furthest right dropdown box. To catch all you may want to run without this part of the filter.

All active sources of signup will be displayed in the furthest right dropdown box. To catch all you may want to run without this part of the filter.

Important note: Obviously if you are getting legitimate interested parties you don’t want to throw them out with the bath water so you have to be careful on the next part.


2nd Action: Send a Target Campaign Requiring Action

If the subscriber is real they will have to take action. Providing a deadline is also a way to move the subscriber along. In my case I set a 48 hour deadline. I changed from an HTML campaign to a TEXT campaign on this rare occasion which should further indicate this is a non-standard request.


3rd Action: Analyse the Result of the Targeted Campaign

If there are those who respond, you can isolate them further through a segment in your targeted campaign and quarantine those who fail.


4th Action: Delete the Offenders

You don’t need to unsubscribe fake subscribers. If you did and had many, this would send out emails to all of these individuals. If you already have suspected them to be fake you don’t want the same spam-bot signing up the same dodgy emails again. MailChimp in this case will quarantine the emails for you.

Important note: Once deleted you wont’ be able to add these people back to your list. Be sure you want to delete!


5th Action: Use MailChimp’s Embedded Form

MailChimp’s form is designed to incorporate a Google reCaptcha. In the next two images you can see how this functions.



Whilst the Captcha does introduce some extra clicks, on balance it is better than to have to manage spam-bot subscribers on a regular basis. Potentially you could accidentally delete legitimate audience which would be painful.

Captchas are Both Good and Bad

Ideally you want to get people moving as soon as possible. The more steps you involve in getting your interested party to a place, the more questions they may ask and the more distracted they may become.

Email Comments are notoriously difficult to attract for new blogs. They are made even more difficult if you involve systems like Disqus, LiveFyre or Facebook comments. Captcha is another barrier that slows down the process. Vanilla WordPress comments are accessible. Comment systems add another password barrier. With each hoop you lengthen the time needed to acquire satisfaction for your audience interaction.

  • Captchas are good because if deployed correctly they act as a near foolproof deterrent to automated spam. You may never have to worry again.
  • Captchas are bad because they slow down the flow and take the wind out of the sails of a would be interested party. As a blog owner you have to work on the basis that your interested party would jump those hoops (but they aren’t always).

6th Action: Rectify the Source of the Problem

I attacked this from two angles.

Angle 1: Sidebar Widget

I replaced my MailChimp Plugin widget with a text widget using MailChimp’s embed code. The Captcha box was ticked when generating the embed code. The MailChimp plugin was then removed.

Angle 2: Bot Security

I introduced WPBruiser to my plugin arsenal. This plugin significantly reduces bot activity without Captcha.


7th Action: Test and Monitor

I tested my new signup form with an email I haven’t used with the subscription before to ensure the Captcha was working.

It makes sense to further monitor what comes through. Ideally only subscribers who have passed through the Captcha process should succeed. As you can see in the images above Captchas of this type are difficult to overcome if you are not a human.


Why are Fake Subscribers a Bad Thing? Why Should You Take Action?

The easy answer is that your individual campaigns have a limit.

If you are a small audience blogger it would take a while to come near the minimum limit where MailChimp starts charging you. The subscriber max limit is 2,000 and the max emails per month is 12,000. Mathematically you can send 6 emails to all 2,000 subscribers per month.

If you start reaching the limit of emails (through more than one campaign) you are into problems. If you leave fake subscriber numbers to go unchecked for months you could soon be into that limit. MailChimp will physically (in the logical sense) prevent you from sending out any more emails until you’ve paid up.

Aweber, as an alternative example, already comes at cost. The increments between payment steps compared to subscribers are relatively short. If you go from 500 to 501 subscribers, your cost per month will rise from $19 to $29. If you let your fake subscriber numbers go unchecked that can be costing you an extra $10 a month needlessly. The next increment is even fiercer with a change of $20 between 2500 to 2501. Once again, you could be paying this needlessly.


Why do People Generate Spam-Bots?

There are only theories as to why but here are a list of potential motivations.

Anti-Capitalist Agenda

Capitalism in any form is not welcomed by all. In the Western and more developed parts of the Eastern world a large majority of individuals go along with Capitalism and embrace it. For a growing movement there is the realisation that materialism is destroying the world piece by  piece. In my view Capitalism sucks but at least is fairer than Communism.

Closet Dweebazoid Disorder

It comes under the “Because I can” excuse. These are your garden variety dweebazoid with nothing better to do than create a spam-bot to “burn the world”. People do this for fun apparently. They also go by the name of jerk.

These dweebs may have one of three motivations:

  1. Indirectly Malicious – It is not personal but that doesn’t stop it being annoying. Being shot in the face is no less acceptable if you were a random target.
  2. Malicious – The spam-bot generator doesn’t like the subject you are connected with or you have displayed behaviours through trigger content that have caught their eye.
  3. Personal – This person knows you and has been directly affected by an action or direction you’ve taken in the past. It is quite rare to personally annoy someone but watch out if you do.

Indirect Marketing

You’ve seen email comments that look suspect. Akismet normally has its work cut out on a daily basis filtering out shameful plugging. These bots identify blogs that have lax security or use a plugin like “commentluv” in order to fire out their low-rent marketing activity. This kind of spamming appears on Facebook comments as well.

Akismet is one of those plugins you can take for granted.

On Orders from the “Man”

One of my favourite conspiracy theories is that companies who provide free services perform their own forms of skullduggery in the background. These companies employ black hat coders to create these spam-bots so that they can provide services to combat them. You could see how on Aweber it would be of benefit for some errant spam-bots to generate more business by relying on those organisations who don’t check but simply hand over their cash every month. I doubt sincerely there are people stupid enough not to check but you never know, especially if someone is managing the account for them, but are stretched over dozens of sites.

More thoughts

I’ve always thought it is not a big leap to consider that Anti-Virus software was proliferated by large anti virus software companies employing homegrown, Indonesian or Chinese black hat coders. There is nothing to suggest that this activity doesn’t still continue. Having recently had to remove an insane amount of malware from my girlfriend’s laptop, I can attest to such activity being there.

Being an observer, from a generation pre-internet, I can remember the simpler times of computer operation where only Microsoft’s poor coding would lead to problems. Now when you get online you have to make sure you are protected from the off.

New build laptops often have a copy of Norton, Kaspersky or McAfee pre-installed so that you have some rudimentary protection. It stands to reason that an Anti-Virus company would not be in business if there were no more viruses so they would only ever do the bare minimum.


Having read an alternative article, the upkeep in having a farm of virus and malware makers on hand is ludicrous for big business. The likelihood of disgruntled employees becoming whistle blowers would have seen the industry implode a long time ago.

I don’t completely buy into the idea that AV companies simply do a good job because I’ve seen a trend whereby the established AV companies turn their software into ‘bloatware’. Some individuals have referred to AVG and AVAST as Nagware and I wouldn’t disagree.

It seems that organised crime is more likely to be the ultimate culprit.

Competitor ‘Skullduggery’

I’d like to believe that I operate in a community where boundaries are respected and where all activities are performed fairly but I know this isn’t always true in the real world. Competition has the added bonus of hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. Your competition can hire unscrupulous individuals to play ‘merry hell’ with your site. Common attacks include denial of service (DDos) which brings your system to a grinding halt. Bots to spam your subscription list is child’s play.

Organised Crime

There are some notable vices and professions that go a long way back. Forgery is a very old criminal profession. Spam-Bots can quite easily be employed by organised crime.

Unknown Purposes

For me, Akismet has blocked over 11,000 attempts to break in through my front door into the WP-ADMIN element of this very site. If you look at your own Akismet stats you’ll see a similar picture. If you compare that to your own front door at home where you’ve received 11,000 knocks, would there be any paint left on that door? Would you be concerned if 30 people turned your handle to see if the door was open when you were at work each day? I’ve added several virtual padlocks to my front door because vanilla WordPress security isn’t enough. The drawbacks with this are it takes longer to get in.

Akismet, if you are unaware, is the default anti-spam plugin that WordPress recommend to be installed.


The General Problem With Spam

It is ultimately time-wasting. A time waste to target and remove. Time can be better spent elsewhere. Blogs require upkeep and if you only have a limited time you can see a lot of your valuable resource swallowed up. You have to place trust that your automated safety nets keep everything ship-shape. Unfortunately spam evolves like natural viruses and your safeguards lose effectiveness over time. 80% of Microsoft updates address security concerns so think about that next time you are forced to update and restart.


Spam is a Problem We All Have to Tackle Together

At some point you’ll get a nasty hit of spam so I would always encourage that if you find methods to keep it out, you share them. Don’t rest idle.

Being proactive about protection allows reduction in the negative activity but nothing is ever 100% infallible. You may not be able to shake the problem on your first try but don’t let the spammers win.


In Closing

I hope you found this article interesting and helpful. I found there was a lack of overall guidance in this particular area because bloggers deploy their signups in different ways. As a point of note, MailChimp offer a popup signup box which also uses the Captcha method.

Please Care and Share

I’d appreciate if you shared this article. In addition I’m trialling SumoMe and have activated Highlight so if you find a good quote in this article you can share it on Twitter.

You can follow on Twitter by clicking this link.

Contact me directly at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com

Leave a comment, start a revolution!


Image Credits

Featured image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


Marketing Micro-Management Versus Automation

Many Entrepreneurs hope to create a system so perfect that they can leave it to run automatically. As part of this article I look into the pros and cons of automation with keen observation.

Marketing Micro-Management Versus Automation

First question to ask:

What is the worst situation that could happen if you leave your site to run automatically?

Here’s a small list.

  1. Your article comes out like garbage. Bad formatting, horrible grammar, bad pacing.
  2. A half-finished article gets submitted by accident.
  3. The content gets marketed in areas that no longer receive warmth.
  4. If part of a series, the article is sent in the wrong order.


You Still Need to do Some Work

With any form of automation you commit to, there is a requirement to test the output first. It is the developer’s law. As a producer of bathtubs, as an example, you don’t want to find that you’ve miss-drilled 199 tap holes.

You measure twice and cut once.

As part of running any long-term campaign you have to assess the quality of your output. Does everything look okay still?

Say that you’ve become used to setting up your articles in a specific way that has developed over time. You then adjust your theme over time to accommodate this evolved style. Do you go back and check the old content? Do you make sure your old content fits the new theme, that the functions of that post type (which might have changed from the old) work?


Going Back in Time

Before the hard-core use of Databases in websites through either PHP or ASP (or their ilk) it was common for websites to be labour intensive to update. Since databases took the hard work out of regular posting there has been more time to invest in getting the finer details right and keeping content up to date.


Do You Schedule Events to Review Your Old Posts?

There are a number ways you could do this depending on the weight of articles you have on your blog. You should keep these variables in mind when reviewing your work.

Variable 1: How many posts per month?

If you post once a month consistently the job of checking back is going to be very easy and should be priority 1.

If you post once a week, you will have far more posts to check if you’ve been blogging for a couple of years.

Variable 2: The size of your posts?

Small posts are intrinsically easier to check than large ones.

Variable 3: How much time does it take to generate your content?

You obviously need time to keep the day-to-day operation running. How much legitimate time outside your core blogging activity can you dedicate to the cause?

We all live busy lives so there will be more to do in the day than simply write articles. If you are articles are so all-consuming that you have no time to perform non-creative tasks, you may need to reconsider your priorities.


Marketing and What to Consider About Automation

Automation is great if:

  • You want to target a key time of the day
  • The article needs to hit a key day of the week

Automation sucks because:

  • You have to work to a schedule
  • You may not be ready to respond to problems in the moment as you under the false impression that all is well.


Targeting is a key benefit of automation. You can fire and forget. You can chain up a number of functions to automate the process. You can set WordPress (or your CMS of choice) to publish your work at a set date and time. You can then set your social media sharing to coincide with this publication.


The negatives of automation are that you are boxed into a schedule. You need to get your item ready before the deadline. This can be a good thing if you need the impetus to get your writing done. Newspaper editors box journalist ears until they are black and blue to get stories into print. Sometimes you can’t rush quality. In addition you can’t respond to publication errors immediately (unless you watch your post auto-publish which is counter productive). Instead, you will be forced to play catch up later.

Systems That Can Help With Automation

Buffer is a great first stop. 


Buffer is useful because you can schedule your content to blast out on a variety of social media sites with relative ease. It also provides valuable analytics. The schedule feature is my favourite element because a large proportion of my audience (both casual and regular) originate in America. Scheduling for the right time is important so that my article gets some warmth near when it is published (and later).

I’ve used buffer for nearly a year and (touch wood) have had no issues with it so far. You do have to use the right image dimensions for the social media platform you are pushing your content to.

2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Make a Website Hub provides a great cheat sheet above for all the current Image sizes for 2016. If you have a specific channel that you target such as Twitter or Facebook, it is worth knowing what the dimensions are for your images. This is especially important if you drop watermarks or logos in the bottom of your image. If the image doesn’t conform to the correct dimensions it will tend to be cropped and you could end up losing some of the valuable real estate for brand identification.

Inside WordPress

WordPress has its own methods of automation. If you are heading out on holiday/vacation like I did last week, you can set your post not only to publish but to “publicize” at the same time. WordPress has included most of the common Social Media Platforms and you can send to numerous platforms at the same time with the scheduling option.


Note: I would strongly recommend that if you are going to use these features you try them out before you go on your holiday with an experiment on another article first. You then have some idea of how the output appears.

In Closing

There is plenty out there to assist you. I’ve given you an insight into two of the elements that I use to automate but there are a variety of plugins, apps and other systems out there.

Hootsuite in particular is a service that I’ve heard great things about but due to the pay wall presented I am not yet willing to incorporate it into my blog’s arsenal.

I would say that over the past 3 years of blogging I’ve got better results out of using as few artificial aids as possible. It is better sometimes to be the “artist” and to be in control rather than to let systems do it for you. The more you put your content through the juice strainer, the more you have to concern yourself with cleanup in the event of spills.

Nothing works for ever, you constantly have to keep changing things up.


Please Share, Contact, Get Involved

You can contact me at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com, via twitter, or through the comments below.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Danke Schön to Romi via Pixabay

Buffer Image courtesy of Buffer

WordPress dashboard image courtesy of WordPress

How to Install SumoMe on a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

SumoMe provides a useful set of tools to help with a number of audience building activities within your blog. Installing the plugin on your WordPress dashboard, then activating some of the key features will stand you in a good stead.

How to Install SumoMe on a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

Step 1: Login to your WordPress Admin.

Step 2: Head to the Plugins section on the left hand side


Step 3: Click “Add New”

Step 4: In the Search field (top right), type in SumoMe


Step 5: Click on the SumoMe “Install Now” button


Step 6: Activate the Plugin post installation (note, if the installation failed, check your settings)


Step 7: Follow SumoMe’s setup link


Step 8: Register your Email Address/Password (step not shown)

Step 9: Follow the mini-tutorial to get your feet wet (this will take you through List Builder setup)

Note: Many of the more useful functions are set under the “Pro” features so be aware of this as you set up the apps you want to use.


At this stage you can play as much as you want but I will now include step to setup “Share” and “Highlighter”. Depending on how much friction you want to generate with your readers, you can also use “List Builder” and “Door Mat”.

Shares Setup

Shares allows your audience to share your article with the wider social world. Another benefit is that you can use the weight of number strategy to encourage the audience further.

Note: Showing the number of Social Shares is visible as a default. This option can be deactivated.

Step 10: Set up Share by clicking on the “Share” button


Step 11: Press the “Activate” button.


Step 11A: Choose the “free” option if presented to the far left (step not shown)

Step 12: In the settings tab to the left adjust your required social media accounts as suits. These are simply dragged between the Available and Selected Services fields by clicking and dragging.


Step 12A: If you have more than 6 services, adjust the option to change the number shown.

Step 12B: Click “Save” in the bottom right when happy.

Step 13: Go to the “Layout” tab

Step 13A: Set up Share Buttons Placement. Click on the location you want the share button to appear. You can select more than one location. Ensure you have a good share placement on your mobile screen as well.

Tip: The middle most position on the right and left of the screen will follow the article down to the bottom as the reader scrolls down the page. If you hover over each location, the dialogue box will tell you where the location is situated (if it is not obvious).

Step 13B: Press “Save” in bottom right


Step 14: Go to Services Tab

Step 14A: Enter your Twitter username

Tip: this is quite important as it will append the @blogprefect (in my case) to the share.

Step 14B: Press “Save” in bottom right


Step 15: Shares is now set up. To return to the apps screen, press the ‘X’ button in the top right

Note: You can toggle this app on or off simply by hovering over the app in the SumoMe Dashboard and clicking the toggle. Grey/Gray is off, Green is on.


FYI: I think SumoMe has a Taco fetish.

Step 15A: Click the X button in the top right to return to the SumoMe app dashboard.

Highlighter Setup

Step 16: Click on “Highlighter”

Step 16A: Activate the App (as with Step 11)


Step 17: Enter your Twitter Username (you don’t need to add the @ sign)


Step 18: Press “Save” in the bottom right

Step 19: Press the “X” button in the top right

Step 20: Highlighter is ready to use!


In Closing

There is much more you can set up from the apps list. Many of the items will require the “Pro” version to have full functionality.

I found a problem with the Contact Forms which has meant that I can’t use it at the moment. My issue is that the text entry boxes have resized to unusual dimensions and the overall box is squeezed to minimum dimensions which is less than useful. I suspect this is my theme/CSS setup rather than the box itself so I’ll have to have a tweak under the hood.

I will be evaluating the plugin over the next 3 months to determine if it is worthwhile using going forwards.

Contact me at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com, via Twitter or via Google+. Feel free to comment and share to your heart’s content!



Preview the changes before settling on your placement. Allow the audience to get used to the features before fine tuning!


Image Credits

Featured image edited by Jackson Davies, SumoMe logo copyright of SumoMe. Sumo wrestler and Taco image from

All images with the SumoMe logo or SumoMe content are copyright of SumoMe and have been used for illustrative purposes only.

How to Use Urgency for Marketing Blog Posts and Email Lists

Your blog is likely to languish in slow gains and losses. Passive marketing limits your potential to receive big gains. Sometimes as an individual forced to market your work, you will have to go on the hunt.

How to Use Urgency for Marketing Blog Posts and Email Lists

In order to make marketing work sometimes you have to light the touch-paper under somebody to get them to cross the line.

There is a Backstory to this Article

Sense of Urgency

You’d be surprised to know that I have published this article before and a common search theme that was yielding this result:

“Instilling a sense of urgency for renters”

Obviously, gaining money from lodgers and renters is a big issue for a landlord. You can ask for the money as loudly and as frequently as you want but you cannot physically make that individual pay until they are ready.

Ways you could step up the urgency as a landlord include:


Phase 1: Personal action

  • Writing a stern letter with threats.
  • Taping a notice to the door.
  • A face to face request.

Phase 2: Indirect action

  • Mild intimidation through hiring bouncers to stand outside the door.
  • Changing the locks on the door.

Phase 3: Extreme action

  • Approach a debt collection agency.
  • Take the occupant to court. The bailiffs will be paying a visit.


Each phase raises the severity of disharmony between the landlord and the tenant. The higher you go on the scale the less likely you are going to have a warm relation with the individual. The phases above are only hypothetical and certain actions have extreme responses. You have to tread carefully.


If you go about the relationship with your tenant in a stronger way from the start, they are less likely to let you down later. Being soft will allow the tenant to take advantage of your good nature.

Weak methods of dealing with a problem lead to extreme actions. If you follow a step from Phase 2 or Phase 3, don’t expect the response to be peaceful.


How Does this Relate to Blogging and Email Lists?

Urgency is used in many forms of marketing to condition interested parties into being expedient with their signup/purchase.

It’s the difference between saying I’ll do it tomorrow and I’ll do it right now. For sellers, doing it tomorrow means they won’t get a sale. Doing it right now is often the way to go.


Why are Buyers “Pregnant of Thought?”

There are different types of decisions for products and services.

The expense of a product/service can have a strong question factor. The psychology of a buyer is to question what they actually get and whether it is good value. In addition, for many entrepreneurs selling B2B (business to business), the question factor will involve;

  • How much money is saved?


  • How much money is earned?

The bottom line is always money.

The psychological goal is to drive the customer into a frenzy of activity and there are a number of control levers to achieve this.


“Early Bird Savings.” Psychology

If a salesman can offer you a cost incentive attractive enough to pull you in sooner they will try their best. Setting a time limit to an attractive price has the ability of drawing in more of those on the fence.


“What am I doing wrong?” Psychology

Convincing people to make rash, in the moment, shooting off the hip decisions, involves persuasion.

  • Certain sentences, and words contained therein, act as triggers.

“What am I doing wrong?” is one these trigger sentences. People have complexes and insecurities about going about things in the right way so when this is challenged, it allows sellers a window of opportunity. To solve certain situations a product might be considered to remedy that problem.


“Don’t delay” Psychology

Simply asking someone not to dally may provide the necessary momentum to take action. Removing passive choices helps establish interest, but more importantly, action.


“Limited” Psychology

Setting a limitation to anything makes it more valuable than something with no perceived limit.

“There are only 15 spaces on this training course. Book early to avoid disappointment!”


Your Blog Post is Your Product

You can garner many ways to motivate:


Start with the title. It’s where most Big Wig Bloggers do their biggest business.

What’s important with a title? It helps the audience decide whether this is a timely article they should read among the trillions of others.

Channel the bill board evangelist in you!

The title also links into your SEO, picking the right keyword which forms part of your title is essential.


Image and Colour Choice

Certain images and the colour palette used can evoke action. Common colours used for action on the internet are orange and blue.

Orange is often used on buttons, especially with regards to opt-in forms, payment buttons and other forms of action copy.

Blue is a truth colour associated with trust. Many social media platforms use the colour blue for their logos.

Humans interpret data quicker through visual cues than through writing alone. The inclusion of trust signs could be helpful in swaying deciders.

Performing Split Tests is a great way of discovering which colours work best for your audience. uses a lot of Green.

QuickSprout Green

Shorter Sentences

Keeping it short and sweet is often the best way to keep people interested. Why ramble?


Keeping the Best Goods Above the Fold

The fold is an invisible perceptual line, the point at which a person’s eye will track when they initially land on the target page, article or email.

When creating a blog post you have to consider how you are going to hook your audience in within the first area of the fold. Writing up the top has to be on point whilst it can loosen as you scroll further down the page.

Things not to do in the fold area:

Place an image. Images can be distracting.

Waffle. You need to keep it short and sweet so that you can start getting to the goods.

Above The fold

BlogTyrant provided an excellent summary by means of infographic as a guest post on Go check this out for more details.


Instilling a Sense of Urgency in Marketing Copy


Colour Convincers

Humans are predisposed to responding to bright colours in insects, snakes and frogs. It is part of a prehistoric defence system to prevent poisoning. The brighter the critter, the more poisonous they are.

Colours, as mentioned above, can be used in different ways to push and cajole actions. The colours of text and backgrounds are more important in marketing copy. Words are vital here.

See this interesting article by Helpscout on the Psychology of color.


Images: People vs Objects

The Images you use have a valuable currency. I wager that if I released this article without images, it would perform considerably worse than if I had included some images.

  • Response to certain advertising can be improved be adding or subtracting the presence of people. Sometimes a friendly face drives a bond between the advertisement and the customer.

On the flip side.

  • Running without the presence of people produces better results. Understanding the right symbolism for your product/service is important.

Do you want to be known for those scantily clad women with their vacant smiles or that wood grain monstrosity? Choose carefully.

See this interesting article by Hubspot on emotional advertising.


Beyond your copy, how on the level are you?

Testimonials answer that question in a unique way.

Many buyers perform research before committing on financial decisions. A product or service has to be assessed on its good graces which may mean leaving the page and seeing who else recommends it.

Testimonials already indicate those with allegiance to the product/service. These individuals are already satisfied and the product/service works for them.

Testimonials - Entrepreneur

See here for an in depth look on testimonials from


Instilling a Sense of Urgency in Email Marketing

Email Marketing has some limitations in how you can play with it. An email is a one shot deal. There are a number of outcomes.

Outcome Result Email Response
Success Received, Read, Action Taken
Indirect Success Received, Unread, Action Taken
Failure Received, Read
Received, Read, Deleted
Received, Unread
Received, Unread, Deleted
Disaster Received, Read, Unsubscribed
Received, Unread, Unsubscribed


Setting the Right Tone

It is best to get into your main point quickly. You don’t have long before an email reader will switch off. Email is chronically bloated for many readers so time is precious.

A decision you should make is; how quickly do you want to ask the burning question? Ask that question too early and it might come across as brisk. Wait too late and you miss the boat.


Short Sentences and Paragraphs

Short sentences are a lot easier to read. Further improved layout can also set up reading a lot easier. Shorter paragraphs can also help.

Like that mentioned in Blog Posts, keeping your key point above the fold is important. When you reach scrolling fewer people will remain connected.


Use Formatting

  1. Bullet points and numbered points are useful to summarise.
  2. Underline, bold and italic can all be used to accentuate otherwise dull paragraphs.
  3. Breath lines “—”, colons “:” and semi-colons “;” can help save space but make sure you know how to use them properly.
  4. Strikethrough can also be used as a visual tool.
  5. Tables are useful when you have a lot of data to represent but a short space to do it in.


Number Psychology

Numbers can be used to stimulate interest, especially when they are the right numbers. A good way to stimulate a positive thought about the benefits of a product or service are to illustrate how numerically stronger they are.

Time = less

“My tax returns took 10 days to put together, now with Tax-Maiden I can get my returns up to date in less than 3 hours.”

Money = more

“I was able to 5X my earnings in less than a month using FurryGerbil.”

Kissmetrics provides an interesting article based on 5 Psychological Studies on Pricing that you may find very interesting.


In Closing

It can be easy to be skeptical. We all live in a more capitalist society than we ever have. Even countries that were under the grip of a control against capitalist ideas have buckled (Namely the PRC, The Russian Federation, Cuba). Selling is inescapable. We have to sell ourselves when we undertake an interview. That CV/Resume is our advertisement.

We have all witnessed at some stage, very ‘salesy’ emails and websites. There are videos along this line that annoy, they are the adverts we skip or block on YouTube. As I mentioned in my original version of this article:

“Videos that work this way are particularly annoying because the fervour feels about as comfortable as a shark tied to your back.”

In hindsight there has to be some balance. Patience is a virtue, that said it may not put dinner on your plate.

Don’t try, be too passive in your approach, don’t expect the results.


The Salesman

I drew comparison between the new salesman, desperate to make a sale, and the old practiced hand. The older salesman knows how to close, the younger salesman can end up fouling their chance. In terms of relating that to blogging and email marketing, you face danger by experimenting as you go.

The saying goes that a good product or service will always sell itself. As a marketer you’ve just got to make people aware of it. Using blunt force is less agreeable than being subtle. When you don’t know what you are doing, you are more likely to be blunt.

Time imperatives can be used as a useful aid. The problem that marketers face is that selling service has an intangible value when viewed without trial.


Urgency Responses Work Well With

  • Book Sales
  • Online Courses

Time limits work great with book sales because on platforms like Amazon you can run promotions with scaled price drops. Through some trial, error and the right tools, you can run your own discounts on your own products in this way. Email marketing, using time limited discount codes and other smart moves can allow access to urgency marketing success.

Online courses, especially those guided by a live tutor, are naturally going to have a limitation. When creating courses they have a shelf life. From my own experience working with an airline, yield management comes into the fore. When you are working with limited resources you manipulate the prices to ensure you fulfill the capacity of the resource. Membership comes with limitation as a pre-requisite. You have to pay to play.

Limiting a class size maintains quality. You can squeeze at both ends with your marketing. Offering an “early bird” up front, followed by offering a “last chance” at the end. That might not engender much activity in the middle of the campaign however. Limiting a class size allows you to plan for all the resources you need in order to perform the class to a high standard. This means that you can charge more up-front.


Blogging Urgency

Urgency in blogging depends on the topics you write about and the words you use. In my landlord/tenant scenario at the start of this article there is application to blogging. The less personal the action you take, the more likely you are to damage relations between yourself and the respondent. In the scenario, it is quite possible that in phase 2 and 3, the tenant could trash the property in a rage. Such retaliation could relate to disparaging comments and negative reviews elsewhere, the kind of knocks you could do without.


My Request

If you found this information useful, please share it because needs your love.

You can find BlogPrefect on twitter by clicking this sentence. Twitter is my favourite destination but I do also reside at Google+. Facebook is less of a resting spot for me despite it being the best sharing tent on the Internet.

If you have questions feel free to send me a message at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com.

Comments are welcome and I can take a bruising but watch your Ps and Qs. Need more, let me know!


Image Credits

Featured image from Pixabay by Oscarhenao


Cavalry Charge Image within Image from Wikipedia

QuickSprout Image courtesy of, used for illustrative purposes only.

Above the Fold Image courtesy of  The Blog Tyrant by means of used for illustrative purposes only.