Why LinkedIn is a Malicious Mobile App

I was completely caught off guard while working on my laptop computer when LinkedIn displayed a list of my email contacts and innocently prompted me:

“We found 424 people you know on LinkedIn when you added your address book. Select the people you’d like to connect to.”

And there, before my eyes, were all my email address book contacts.

Whoa! What was this about? I never added my address book to LinkedIn. That’s one thing I would never do.

Life in the Transparent Lane

As a matter of professional hazard, I live my life rather transparently online. But there are some things I take some caution to not share. And one of those things is my contacts. For the same reason I don’t like to be robotically solicited to engage in someone else’s network, I don’t want to be the culprit that causes this pain to others. So I mind my contacts as best I can.

About a half hour of online sleuthing – also known as completely wasting my time – revealed a large network of people who had been caught in this LinkedIn scam. And they, like me were pretty pissed off.

At first I suspected that I had somehow slipped up and authorized Google to cough up my Gmail contacts. But this time Google (and I) were not guilty. Then began the search through my LinkedIn privacy settings. Astonishingly there was no information about contact importing. Ultimately after more research (read: wasting time) I was led to the LinkedIn app recently installed on my mobile device. And there it was…

Permissions? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Permissions

LinkedIn Mobile app seizes your contacts and imports them into its platform.

Under “Permissions” in the LinkedIn app is the innocuous authorization to “Read Your Contacts”. It is not an option. It is a condition of using the app. OK, so reading my contacts is one thing. But after highlighting this specific permission, the more onerous truth emerges and it reads,

“Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals. This permission allows apps to save your contact data, and malicious apps may share contact data without your knowledge.”

Well, there it is. Ouch.

Now, to be fair, something I don’t really feel the need, LinkedIn only uses the information to suggest that I start sending out requests for connection. They’ve even done the heavy lifting of culling my list of several thousand contacts down to about 400 or so actual people who are on LinkedIn and with whom I haven’t already connected. And they ask for permission to extend my invitation to them. I can even customize my invite. How nice? No, not nice at all.

Bad LinkedIn. Bad. Bad. Bad.

LinkedIn: You’ve crossed the line. Your app is malicious. And I’m removing it from my mobile device. And worse, I trust you less. Which is too bad, because I’ve been rather high on LinkedIn lately. But now this. It’s wrong.

Next step: Remove those Damn Contacts

Another half hour of research brought me to the process for removing those contacts from LinkedIn. It wasn’t easy. But if you’ve been caught in this cesspool, here’s how to do it.

1) On LinkedIn, navigate to Connections > Add Connections and select “Manage imported contacts” in the upper right of the page
2) Check “Select All”, scroll to bottom of page & select the greyed out (!) “Delete selected contacts” and accept the double confirmation request
3) Repeat this process because LinkedIn won’t display all your contacts at once. For my 1100 imported contacts I had to do this repeatedly.

After repeating this incredibly time wasting process several times, LinkedIn will deliver an error message. They’re toying with you. And disrespecting you. At some point you will have to start selecting a shorter list of deletes. Begin to manually check names – perhaps 50 – 100 at a time. Keep at it. Eventually all your contacts will be deleted.

Dump the LinkedIn App

Delete the LinkedIn app from your mobile device. They behaved badly and they don’t deserve a place on your mobile device.

What Do You Think?

Have you been caught in this? Do you think LinkedIn should bust into your email contacts and import them to their platform? Maybe you think this is a valued service. Let me know.

Increase Your Email Open Rates

Much has been made of best times, day of week, effective subject lines and other strategies to achieve the single most important objective of getting your email opened. But there is one strategy I have found that is incredibly effective and infallible: send that email again.

But wait. Before you abuse your subscribers let me explain what I have done that increases open rates without irritating your email recipients. And how you can know this is working.

My client lists range from the passionately engaged who open at an average rate of 45% to the “I-didn’t-know-I-signed-up” crowd, with an open rate of 15%, who coughed up their email address to access the business’ free wifi. In all cases, I’ve been able to increase open rates by as much as 50%.

My email tool of choice is MailChimp. One of the features provided is the option to create segments of your email list. That is, a segment is some portion of your list that meets certain criteria. And the criteria that I select is “Campaign Activity = Did not open [the last email]. In MailChimp it looks like this:

So now you have your list. Take these few additional steps to be respectful to your subscribers as well as to be effective:

  1. Change your subject line.
    Your new subject line is a tacit acknowledgement that this is a redo. It also provides you the opportunity to attract subscribers who didn’t find your first subject line particularly sexy. I usually go with something like “Reminder: xxxx.” For the people who may see both your emails in their queue it just appears as a friendly re-notification. For most, it is the first time they’re seeing your email.
  2. Send at least 2 days after your first email
    Think about your own email nemesis and how you fall behind in getting to less pressing email. But there is a half-life to email opening. My experience is that after about 2 days (your own results can be observed to tune this timing) you can safely assume that very few people will open your original email.
  3. Change the time of day
    Did your first email go out at 8AM? Did you send it on Tuesday because everyone says that’s the hot day for sending email to get the best open? Send the second email Friday night or a weekend morning or some time that is different from the first email. Again, you might test different times to determine your best second-send time
  4. Measure
    The two most important metrics for evaluating the effectiveness are open rate and unsubscribes. You WILL increase the open rate. My experience that your new open rate will be about ½ of the original. I’d be interested to know what you experience.

But the real measure of effectiveness is unsubscribes. Unsubscribes are not always bad. That’s a topic for another time. But for many reasons you don’t want people on your list who don’t want to hear what you have to say.  But, if you consistently get a lot (you decide what a lot is) of people unsubscribing to your second email, you’re probably irritating your subscribers.  This has not been my experience. But your results may differ and you should be alert to this possibility.Rinse and Repeat
Do it again. If your message is not time-dependent or if you have given yourself enough lead time, you can continue to send to non-openers a third or even a fourth time. You will realize diminishing returns but you will get some new opens each time. Manage your list
The hard truth is that you probably have subscribers who do not open and never will open your email. Only you can decide it if it worthwhile deceiving yourself or others about how huge your subscriber base has become. Chronic non-openers will also give you a more pessimistic view of your open rate and other engagement metrics. Ridding your list of these inactive subscribers may help you better understand what your engaged subscribers truly like about your email sends.

I welcome your opinion about this strategy as well as sharing experiences you may have had re-sending campaigns to your subscribers.

Do You Do SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) acronym explained with old typewriter keys on a digital tablet

The inevitable question, “Do you do SEO?”

“Yes.” I answer tentatively.

The do-you-do-SEO question is a heavily laden cargo ship launched years ago in the even more primitive era of the Internet. The bounty it carries is comprised of great expectations, misunderstandings and broken promises freighted by a crew of charlatans. Now there is an indictment!

If you think SEO, more accurately known as search engine optimization, is something your business needs, take a moment to consider the following:

Marry Your SEO

SEO is not a one-night stand. Sure, there are some pretty simple quick fixes. But optimization is an ongoing process that can go on, well, till death do us part.

Return on Investment

An SEO campaign will demand a budget. Therefore, the best – and perhaps only – SEO initiative that should be undertaken requires a clearly identifiable metric of performance success. Usually this performance is based on some kind of action such as creating a lead, a download or a sale. What it is not measured by is the prominence of a specific keyword phrase. This metric of success must be applied against the cost of the entire effort to produce a Cost Per Action.

Content is (sigh) King

Look, if you want to be found, you’ve got to offer something for which people are looking. Read that again. And what are people looking for? Answers. Answers to their problem. They are not looking for your hyperbolic marketing speak. They are not searching for your awards. They want good content in the form of text, images, videos and audio. Yes, all of these media. And new stuff regularly.

Social Media Helps

Social media is content. Sometimes (usually?) it is vacuous cat memes and moody slogans. But done right, social media is a well-stocked river of catch and release (to others) content. An effective SEO campaign includes a vibrant social media initiative. They go hand in hand.

Your Website Sucks

Maybe yes. Maybe no. But chances are there will be changes made to your website so that your valuable content can be properly digested by the Great Google, its Court of affiliates and the BingYahooAOL search engine challengers. Some of this is content. Some of it is technology configurations.

If you are interested in marketing your business on the Internet, I can help. Do I do SEO? Yes, maybe. The real question is, “Do you know what you’re looking to accomplish?”

LinkedIn Spam and the Spamming Spammers Who Annoy Us

Let me tell you about my new and unexpected BFF Allen Cope, Marketing Specialist at SocialAuthorities.com. But before I do, permit me to set the stage.

I “heart” LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a valuable business resource to me. Like you, I’ve joined relevant groups and I interact in some of the discussion. Sure, there is an undertone of self-serving behavior from those who are either oblivious or simply don’t care, but for the most part it is a benign environment and I’m free to pull from it what I want and push my own point of view when I care enough.

Don’t Cross the Line

But there is a line that should not be crossed. And when it is, it would seem the only remedy is for the LinkedIn community to step forward and say “that is wrong.” That is why I want to tell you about Allen Cope, his employer SocialAuthorities.com and their client 3 Tier Logic.

The Big Lie

Don’t be this guy. Don’t work for this company. Don’t hire firms that do this.

So recently, Allen sent me an InMail with the message, “Hi Sonny, I am a fellow group member and I just found this great new piece of marketing technology that I thought you maybe (sic) interested in checking out. Here is the link ….”

Think of the lies inherent in this message: Allen “just found” this marketing technology? Really? And, even though he and I have absolutely no relationship other than a common group membership, he thought I’d be interested in it? I don’t think so. The entire message strains credulity.

Calling Them Out

So Allen, whose LinkedIn bio curiously refers to him as “Clinton,” has leveraged our mutual group participation to prey on me on behalf of his company SocialAuthorities.com, who apparently has been hired by 3 Tier Logic to build traffic to their demo site. Is this cool? No, it is abusive. It’s not only abusive it is entirely disingenuous.

So I’m calling them out for this unsocial behavior in this social medium. Vengeance is not my objective. Exposure is. Self-policing is our only path to civil discourse. If you act badly, people will call you out. And if you hire companies to use bad strategies to further your otherwise worthwhile business objectives, it will tarnish your brand. Be advised.

What do you think?

Should I have just clicked the spam button and been done with the matter? Is the value of LinkedIn increasingly being compromised by bad players? Is this getting worse? Is 3 Tier Logic a perpetrator or victim of their marketing firm’s strategies?

(Note: Thanks to (now former) Senator Al Franken whose excellent and unrelated book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, provided the inspiration for the title of this post. Other than that, he has no involvement with me or this post.)

Mobile Email is More Important than Your Mobile Website

We’ve been pounding the mobile drum for about three years now. Our advocacy is fueled by the overwhelming trend that can be observed in every website analytics analysis. Granted, the results vary depending on the demographics of your site visitors. But the increase in mobile access to your digital assets is inexorable. And, by the way, that includes your email as well.

While many/some firms who actually care about their site visitor’s experience have made the investment to provide some kind of mobile access to their website, most are still lagging far behind in providing the same consideration to their email recipients. Which, if you think about it, is counter-intuitive. Unlike a website that visitors can, by and large, elect to visit at a moment they have convenient access to a large screen display, email arrives randomly and is commonly viewed in the moment. And that moment has a good chance of being when the recipient is up and about.

I looked at the results of recent email campaigns and even I was surprised to see that about 50% of emails were opened on a mobile device. This would be compared to B2B website traffic that hovers around 20% to 30% mobile. So if one were to prioritize their mobile-izing effort it should be placed on email before the website. But this does not seem to be the case.

Granted, mobile email is a tad more complicated than a mobile website. Websites are viewed in browsers (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, etc.) that to some limited extent and imperfectly interpret website stylesheet code in a common way. But email is viewed via email clients and these clients’ rendering of the email stylesheet on a mobile device are much more divergent. Nevertheless, there are some best practices for producing a reasonably coherent mobile email display.

Surprisingly to me, email publishers rarely view and test their own emails on the devices used by their subscribers. Is this laziness, ignorance or something else? I don’t know. What I do know is that email is a key component of the mobile evolution of the Internet. And about that I will keep beating my drum.