Important changes to Google docs to be aware of

This may be slightly old news, as I received this information from Google five days ago but only got around to reading it today, but it is definitely worth being aware of.

In a few weeks (no specific date given) Google search bots will start crawling Google docs that “have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website… which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines.”

Whilst Google are excited by this change, it’s worth noting that documents you may have thought private, or at least vaguely so, will be findable if you, or someone unbeknownst to you, has put a link on the web to a Google doc/spreadsheet/presentation you’ve created or contributed to. So it’s worth checking the settings of any document where this might cause problems.

Here’s the email with more:

Hello Google Apps admin,

We wanted to let you know about some important changes around published documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

In a few weeks, documents, spreadsheets and presentations that have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website will be crawled and indexed, which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines. There is no change for documents published inside your organization or shared privately.

If you wish to prevent users from publishing documents to the public internet, we now offer an admin control in the Google Apps Control Panel that allows users to continue to ‘share documents outside the domain’ without allowing them to publish the files to the public Internet. To change this setting, follow these steps:

– Login to your admin control panel
– Select Service Settings > Docs
– Un-check the option ‘Users can publish documents to the public internet’

If a user does not want their published Docs to be crawled, then the user must unpublish them by doing the following:

– Go to the ‘Share tab’
– For documents and spreadsheets, choose ‘Publish as web page’. For presentations choose ‘Publish/embed’
– Click on the button that says ‘Stop publishing’

For more details, please see this Help Center article: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60781

This is a very exciting change as your published docs linked to from public websites will reach a much wider audience of people!

Sincerely,

The Google Apps Team

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Enterprise product or account.

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Note: The reason for copying and pasting the email here it here is that the link given doesn’t repeat the information or explain things as explicitly.

Six email marketing software services compared

I’m currently planning to start a newsletter (more soon) and so a few weeks ago I put a shout-out on Twitter for service or software recommendations to help me manage the process.

A flurry of responses arrived, including one company who took the time to dig out my email address and email me personally (thank you Alex from delivra.com). I also received several tweets from companies directly, one of whom was rather too enthusiastic and kept pestering me, resulting in my ignoring them. FYI @madmimihelp – can I suggest that one helpful tweet is enough.

Campaign Monitor got a good number of recommendations, which shows it’s still a force to be reckoned with and that it is still the brand leader in the field. It was also one of the companies who tweeted directly (but note, not several times madmimi.com), an indication of good customer service and awareness.

So, the list of possible things to try came to six – a good number to compare – as follows:

For my own purposes I was looking for a service that could handle a small list at a reasonable price, that was easy to use without tech support, that had the option of text only or HTML with a good editor and possibly some customisable templates, that had good list management tools for importing/subscribing/unsubscribing/de-duping, some tracking tools, and that handled data securely.

For fair comparison purposes I only examined what each company claimed about their product on their website, and gathered my list of criteria through reading each site carefully. Many features were standard, such as sending as text-only or HTML, but other features varied more dramatically.

How did each fair?
Here’s the Excel spreadsheet I put together. For reading purposes view full screen. Please contact me if you would like an original copy.

SUMMARY

Mail Chimp 7/10
Great for small to medium sized lists. Nice free option for micro to small lists (0-100 email addresses up to 6 times a month). Good set of plugins for wide number of platforms (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and more). Reporting seems slightly less comprehensive to other SAAS offerings but certainly adequate.

Php List 6/10
Completely free and opensource, the only downloadable product reviewed. Great for people who know what they’re doing and have a friendly techie to hand. Support is via the community and forums. Think of it as the WordPress for email newsletters.

Vertical Response 5/10
Good for professional operations, TypePad users and qualifying non-profits. The lack of widgets/plugins for non-TypePad platforms makes this offering less appealing. Reporting seems very comprehensive. It was not clear how lists were imported into the system from the information available.

Campaign Monitor 8/10
Great for huge lists, agencies, clients. Easy to see why this is the queen of professional email list management. Security and data protection information needs more detail as whilst it seems comprehensive the descriptions are also opaque. No specific mention of compliance standards. Pricing structure off putting for micro-small lists.

Delivra 9/10
Great for developers and large list management as well as those without tech support. This service has some great features such as Lyris integration, real-time tracking, auto trigger management and what looks like a comprehensive API. Security seems to take a high priority. All heavy duty stuff. This is an enterprise level product and possibly over the top for a small list or your average blogger!

Thru Sites 0/10
Thoroughly disappointing. Not enough information given on the site to warrant inquiry. Company would prefer clients to view and understand the product via a demo. No features list available on the site.

And what shall I be testing?
I think I will give Mail Chimp a go as it seems the right fit for what I am trying to do and it’s pricing model is very appealing. It allows me to experiment with how the newsletter will work at a low cost, but has much of the functionality of the bigger players.

Will keep you posted.

With thanks to: @andjdavies, @fractious, @anonymoustom, @WineOfTheWeek, @sparcd, @Paul0Evans1, @gavinwray for all their suggestions.

*********

UPDATE 18/08/2009: It was looking so promising… Mail Chimp sign-up is optimised for IE.

TIP: do not attempt to use non-domain owned email (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc) when signing up, particularly using either FireFox or Opera as the fail messages do not fully display and the page does not seem to function as a result, claiming that it requires cookies to be turned on. To save yourself some time and anxiety (if you can face it), use IE and/or ensure you are using a domain email address eg @kathryncorrick.co.uk.