Greetings Readers-

It has been awhile since I have been able to post another issue of the newsletter. On the drive home from visiting family for Christmas, I met up with an SUV that sent us all to the hospital. None the less, I'm lucky to be alive and want to remind you to always wear your seat belt when driving.

I have a jam packed issue this time around with some more great marketing tips using Rich Media, a new search tool that pays you to use and the latest updates on fourth quarter sales for the online giants ebay and Amazon...

Happy Spring!
Coach Danny


• Tips and Tricks to Improve Conversions with Rich Media
• Unpaid Item Assistant Available to All Sellers
• Gmail Gets Drag-and-Drop Attachments
• What eBay's Q4 Means for Sellers
• Highlights of Amazon's Q4 Blow Out
• If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe

Tips and Tricks to Improve Conversions with Rich Media

from ChannelAdvisor

Planning on implementing or improving the imaging on your e-commerce site in 2010? Top online retailers know that successful Rich Media solutions yield an increase in conversions, increase in average order values, and a decrease in returns. Learn tips and best practices that will aid you in creating a successful solution.

* Best practices that will yield the highest results
* Photography and image standards for Rich Media are a prime consideration
* Learn about viewer types and appropriate uses on your site

Download the white paper to find out how.


from www.slickbudget.com

If you are like 90% of the people in this country, then you use Google as your main search engine. The other 10% use yahoo to find their information. But, what do they give us as users? Just quick results with Google and a nice homepage with news from Yahoo!

My wife introduced me to swagbucks just over two months ago and I am ticked I didn't know about it before. It is a search engine which uses Google and Ask engines combined and then pays you to use their site. My initial thought was that it couldn't pay you that much. But I was wrong. I watched my wife earn over 500 swagbucks in a matter of eight weeks just by inviting 6 friends and all of them using the swagbucks search engine. This 500 swagbucks was then turned into $55 worth of gift cards from Amazon which she quickly spent. : ) Before you say that it isn't that much, think about a search engine giving you over $330 a year just to use them for searching. You can still use Google and Yahoo or Ask for that matter, but when you want to earn money, use swagbucks.

Look at it this way, if someone says I will give you a free PS3 or Coach purse for using this search engine in addition to your normal routine, who would say no? There are no offers to fulfill and no hoops to jump through. It is like a slot machine, ever time you search, you have a chance of winning a range of dollar amounts. It will come in handy around Christmas time.

Check it out and trust me, there is nothing to lose and only free money to gain. Have fun swagbucking!

The easiest way is to download their toolbar which gives you a search box right on the top of your screen and then you don't have to go to their site to do the searches and make the money. It is the easiest money you can make. Remember the tips...in the morning and at night if you don't use it at all but still want the swagbucks. (see above article)

You can always get a swag buck by shopping or uploading videos. This is soooo easy to make a couple of bucks for Christmas. Join the fun!

As of November, I have made around $600 in real spendable cash from Swagbucks. This search engine is by far the best thing I have ever stumbled upon. I can't stress enough that the toolbar is key to attaining the swagbucks everyday. Just make sure to use it in the morning and at night due to the fact it is partly based on time between uses. You will accumulate swagbucks very quickly if you follow my advice.

You can sign up and get credit for other people signing up by using the banner on your blog or website with your own link embedded. I would have to say that this truly is the easiest way to make money doing what you do on a regular basis anyways. Thanks for looking and it is really easy to make some cash doing this. AND NO IT DOES NOT COST A PENNY!!!


Unpaid Item Assistant Available to All Sellers

Updates to the unpaid item process; Unpaid Item Assistant available to all sellers soon

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be making the process for handling unpaid items easier for both buyers and sellers.

Improvements to the process when you open an unpaid item claim manually

* If a buyer doesn’t pay and you cancel the transaction, the buyer will no longer be able to pay for the item.
* If you open an unpaid item case, it will be closed automatically when the buyer pays using a safe electronic payment method such as PayPal or Moneybookers.

Automate claims with Unpaid Item Assistant, available soon to more sellers
In the next few weeks, the new Unpaid Item Assistant will gradually be available to more sellers and we expect to make it available to all sellers by the end of March.

Unpaid Item Assistant automatically opens a case if your buyer doesn’t pay after a period of time that you specify. If four days pass without payment after the case is opened, the case will be closed, your Final Value Fee will be automatically refunded, the buyer won’t be able to leave Feedback, and you will be able to relist your item.

To find out if it’s available to you, towards the end of March go to My eBay or Selling Manager > Account tab > Site Preferences > Selling Preferences, and look for the link to opt in.


Gmail Gets Drag-and-Drop Attachments
by Josh Lowensohn, cnet.com

Google put out a pair of small, but useful Gmail updates on Thursday that make it both easier to use and more integrated with the company's free Calendar service. Notably, both have skipped a trial through the service's "labs" section, and gone straight through to the final product.

The first is drag-and-drop attachments, a feature which lets you drag files from your desktop machine right into your e-mail message to have them begin uploading. It works the same as the system Google implemented in its Wave service for photos and other media types. It also has the same requirement of the user having to run Google Chrome or Firefox 3.6.

To use it within Gmail, users just drag any file from their hard drive (or from within an open application) into a new green box that appears within the compose menu. The service then uploads it in the background, which--just like uploading any other attachment--lets you do other things as the bits are being pushed.

More here...

What eBay's Q4 Means for Sellers

by Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor

There has been copious amount of ink around eBay's Q4 targeted towards investors, but sellers are scratching their heads wondering what it means. In this post, let's look at the seller-oriented highlights of the release. Also, historically eBay has used the period from mid Jan to early Feb to announce it's first set of changes for a year. Seller's are on pins and needles expecting something soon, and listening to the Q4 conference call, I think Donahoe and team dropped some hints on what we can expect. We'll highlight those hints and give a little speculation on what the announcements could hold.

Follow the GMV

Now that Skype is no longer in the eBay portfolio, the company is spending more time on the eBay and Paypal metrics (positive). That being said there is a fair amount of data in any eBay quarterly release and it can be hard to pick out the pieces that are relevant to sellers. I advise sellers of all sizes to 'follow the GMV'. One caveat is it's best to look at FX-neutral, non-autos GMV (unless you are a car seller) to understand what really is going on at the eBay marketplace. Here are the relevant GMV datapoints from the release:

* FX-neutral international GMV (ex-gmarket) was up 11% y/y
* Domestic GMV (ex autos) was up 4% y/y
* Overall GMV was up 8% (ex-autos, ex-gmarket, ex-fx)
* But be sure to note that international is growing a solid 7% faster than domestic, so something is definitely 'working' there.

These numbers definitely show (especially when viewed with the last 2yrs y/y data) that eBay indeed appears to be turning the corner as they are about half way through their turnaround strategy.

Fixed Price / Auction Mix

For Q4, fixed price came in at 53% (up from 52% in Q3) and auctions came in at 34%. Fixed price GMV grew at an impressive 35% with auctions at negative 3% (actually a strong improvement from Q3's negative 12%). So fixed price listing GMV stayed at a good > 35% pace and auctions were 'less worse' so they helped with growth by not hurting growth. It will be interesting to see if auctions have bottomed out or if this was a seasonal improvement.

Donahoe hints at changes to come...

I found this comment to be the most interesting:

"Bottom line, sellers who deliver the very best experience are succeeding on eBay and buyers are benefiting. These turnaround efforts are paying off. Market share gains are evident internationally where we are further along in our turnaround. In the U.K. for example, we posted 17% growth during the second half of 2009, significantly outperforming the market."

"So I think what we’ll do in 2010 is take some of the learnings that we generated outside the U.S. and apply them as appropriate and as tailored to the U.S. market. I think we feel we’ve proven out some of these things outside the U.S. and they will apply inside the U.S."

If you look at the UK's seller fees (here), back in 09 they actually took the lower insertion fee move that eBay US did when they lowered FP30 to $.35 to an additional extreme. First, they eliminated the store format, and second they allowed business sellers to 'pay down' the FP30 insertion with a monthly store subscription. For example, if you pay £349.99 (approx $500) you now get essentially one penny insertion fees for FP30.

What this model has done in the UK is allow business sellers to focus on selling and not managing selection, so I view this as a win-win that we would definitely LOVE to see in the US and an important step towards 'really' competing with the Amazon business model.

Given the strength of international results and the foreshadowing by Donahoe, I think the takeaway for seller are:

* Look for a continued movement from auction to fixed price
* eBay seems to believe the feedback changes (DSRs, eTRS, etc.) are working, so I don't expect any big changes there.
* eBay continues to be very focused on NPS so it's important for sellers to learn more about that system (look for future blog post on that).
* eBay needs to replicate the international success in the usa, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a more UK-like pricing model come to the US.
* Note that in the UK, our data indicates a 80% fp / 20% auction mix, so if you thought auctions had a headwind before, I think if that change comes to the US you'll see auctions cut in essentially half again.

Highlights of Amazon's Q4 Blow Out

ChannelAdvisor CEO, Scot Wingo

Amazon reported Q4 results today and the e-commerce giant really made quite a showing. By all means it was a blow-out quarter. Amazon topped their guidance, Wall Street Consensus (WSC) and even surprised most on Wall St. with their Q1 guidance.

Here are the highlights from the quarter along with some color commentary.

* Revenue - $9.52b vs. WSC of $9b (a near $500m beat!)- Represents 42% y/y growth vs. WSC of 34.7% (a 7% beat!)
* Op income - $597 vs. WSC of $542 - a $55m beat (10%)
* EPS - $.85 vs. WSC of $.72 (a $.13 beat!)
* Media grew: 23%. US media grew: 20% , Intl media grew: 26%
* EGM grew: 54% (Wow!) EGM is now a $4.61 business. US EGM grew: 54% (a material acceleration, benefits from Zappos addition) and Intl EGM grew: 56%

From a mix perspective the Media/EGM mix is now 49%/48% - the highest EGM in the history of Amazon the US/Intl mix is now 52% / 48% - also the highest Intl in the history of Amazon

One little Kindle tidbit - Amazon finally put a metric out there and said that there are now 'millions' of Kindle users. That's a vague number, but analysts were pretty amazed that we could be looking at over 2m units out there.

If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe

If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe
by Ashlee Vance
provided by New York Times

Back at the dawn of the Web, the most popular account password was "12345."
Today, it's one digit longer but hardly safer: "123456."

Despite all the reports of Internet security breaches over the years, including the recent attacks on Google's e-mail service, many people have reacted to the break-ins with a shrug.

According to a new analysis, one out of five Web users still decides to leave the digital equivalent of a key under the doormat: they choose a simple, easily guessed password like "abc123," "iloveyou" or even "password" to protect their data.

"I guess it's just a genetic flaw in humans," said Amichai Shulman, the chief technology officer at Imperva, which makes software for blocking hackers. "We've been following the same patterns since the 1990s."

Mr. Shulman and his company examined a list of 32 million passwords that an unknown hacker stole last month from RockYou, a company that makes software for users of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The list was briefly posted on the Web, and hackers and security researchers downloaded it. (RockYou, which had already been widely criticized for lax privacy practices, has advised its customers to change their passwords, as the hacker gained information about their e-mail accounts as well.)

The trove provided an unusually detailed window into computer users' password habits. Typically, only government agencies like the F.B.I. or the National Security Agency have had access to such a large password list.

"This was the mother lode," said Matt Weir, a doctoral candidate in the e-crimes and investigation technology lab at Florida State University, where researchers are also examining the data.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used "123456" as a password. The second-most-popular password was "12345." Others in the top 20 included "qwerty," "abc123" and "princess."

More disturbing, said Mr. Shulman, was that about 20 percent of people on the RockYou list picked from the same, relatively small pool of 5,000 passwords.

That suggests that hackers could easily break into many accounts just by trying the most common passwords. Because of the prevalence of fast computers and speedy networks, hackers can fire off thousands of password guesses per minute.

"We tend to think of password guessing as a very time-consuming attack in which I take each account and try a large number of name-and-password combinations," Mr. Shulman said. "The reality is that you can be very effective by choosing a small number of common passwords."

Some Web sites try to thwart the attackers by freezing an account for a certain period of time if too many incorrect passwords are typed. But experts say that the hackers simply learn to trick the system, by making guesses at an acceptable rate, for instance.

To improve security, some Web sites are forcing users to mix letters, numbers and even symbols in their passwords. Others, like Twitter, prevent people from picking common passwords.

Still, researchers say, social networking and entertainment Web sites often try to make life simpler for their users and are reluctant to put too many controls in place.

Even commercial sites like eBay must weigh the consequences of freezing accounts, since a hacker could, say, try to win an auction by freezing the accounts of other bidders.

Overusing simple passwords is not a new phenomenon. A similar survey examined computer passwords used in the mid-1990s and found that the most popular ones at that time were "12345," "abc123" and "password."

Why do so many people continue to choose easy-to-guess passwords, despite so many warnings about the risks?

Security experts suggest that we are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of things we have to remember in this digital age.

"Nowadays, we have to keep probably 10 times as many passwords in our head as we did 10 years ago," said Jeff Moss, who founded a popular hacking conference and is now on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. "Voice mail passwords, A.T.M. PINs and Internet passwords — it's so hard to keep track of."

In the idealized world championed by security specialists, people would have different passwords for every Web site they visit and store them in their head or, if absolutely necessary, on a piece of paper.

But bowing to the reality of our overcrowded brains, the experts suggest that everyone choose at least two different passwords — a complex one for Web sites were security is vital, such as banks and e-mail, and a simpler one for places where the stakes are lower, such as social networking and entertainment sites.

Mr. Moss relies on passwords at least 12 characters long, figuring that those make him a more difficult target than the millions of people who choose five- and six-character passwords.

"It's like the joke where the hikers run into a bear in the forest, and the hiker that survives is the one who outruns his buddy," Mr. Moss said. "You just want to run that bit faster."