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HOWTO'S

How To Stop Your Emails From Tracking You

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You may not know it but all of the tempting emails that you receive at 3pm on Friday (maybe showcasing the latest office chair on sale!), showing you the latest tech deals on offer from your major brands, are tracking you. In your excitement you might click on one of these offers to look at what exciting new gadget is on the market.

Marketing emails such as these are targeted at making you click on the attractive contents of the email, in order to track you. From your interaction with the email, the specific company from which the email was sent has now gathered a lot of information about you. This can include your IP address, the time you opened the email, as well as your location. 

Most of this happens with you unaware, through hidden pixels contained in a certain link or image on the page. This is all geared towards marketers for these companies being better able to target you and the audience that you represent. It is referred to as the “endemic”, and it is annoying, unwelcome, and intrusive. So, how do you stop it?

How You Are Being Tracked

Tracking pixels are usually just one pixel and are pretty much invisible to the naked eye; they are generally included in the header, body, or footer of the email. While you may not be able to see them, they are activated once the email is opened and immediately begin to feed information back to the company. Many email services allow for third-party images to be loaded as a default, and marketers take advantage of this by inserting these tracking pixels into their emails. 

Your device type, IP address, and location can be just some of the information that the tracking pixels can collect. Other forms of info can be your time zone, whether you read the message and the web browser that you use. The location is one of the more concerning types of information that can be collected. It can be used to examine your day-to-day routine and figure out where you live and work. Remember, this is all happening without your consent.

This technique can be used in almost any industry, and companies can work together and share your information to form a more comprehensive profile of you. This is why you may think that advertisements are freaky as they display something you like without you ever having searched for it. There are regulations in place to stop this information being collected without your permission, however these rules are not widely enforced and many companies are still getting away with it.

How To Stop It

Different platforms have their different ways of preventing this from happening. Apple released their Mail Privacy Protection that can be turned on by any Apple user. It can be found in the Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection and turn on Protect Mail Activity. In macOS, it is similar, go to Mail > Mail Preferences > Preferences and turn on Protect Mail Activity. 

Outside of your phone/laptop manufacturer, you can also set your email provider to not load pictures as a default, since this is where the tracking pixels typically are. For Gmail, you can find the setting to do this in Settings (naturally) > Images > Ask Before Displaying External Images. Google does have its own layer of protection as it shows pictures through its own proxy, generally hiding your IP address.

Contrastingly, even though Outlook does show images on its own proxy, you cannot stop images from showing completely so be aware that some of your data may be collected. 

It is important to note that while blocking images from loading does stop you from being tracked, it will hurt your user experience. No images will appear on newsletters, emails, unless you download them yourself. Even content that you have purposefully subscribed to will be affected, so just keep that in mind.

Other Ways of Blocking Trackers

There are some other options out there when trying to stop companies collecting your information. You can install a VPN, Cloudfare’s WARP app, Ugly Email which is an add on for Google Chrome, and other email providers that make privacy a priority.

So have you had any experience with companies tracking you or collecting your information? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Author:
Ryan Clancy is an engineering writer, with 5+ years of engineering experience. He’s passionate about all things engineering, especially mechanical, and bringing engineering down to a level that everyone can understand. Ryan lives in New York City, and writes about mechanical and all other types of engineering, at Mechanical Engineering HQ.

HOWTO'S

How to Manage Your Online Brand?

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You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need to manage my online brand?” It’s a valid question, especially if you’re not sure what managing your online brand means precisely.

In short, managing your online brand is the process of taking control of how others see you and your business online. This can involve creating and maintaining a strong presence on social media, developing positive reviews and testimonials, and monitoring your web analytics to track progress.

By taking the time to manage your online brand, you can improve your chances of success in today’s digital age.

In this article, we’ll explore some key reasons why managing your online brand is essential.

What is an online brand, and why do you need one?

Your online brand is the way you are perceived by others online. This includes your website, social media profiles, online reviews, and all other digital real estate that represents you when someone searches for you or your business.

It’s important to have one because it helps your potential customers get to know, trust, and like you before they buy anything from you. A strong online brand can also help you attract new customers and grow your business.

It’s good to remember that your online brand is the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to make sure it represents you and your business well.

How to manage your online brand for success?

Your online brand is your reputation. It’s how people perceive you when they see your name, read your work, or interact with you online.

A strong online brand can help you attract new clients, collaborators, and opportunities. But how do you create and manage your brand for success?

1) Consider what you want your online brand to convey.

Are you an expert in a certain field? A thought leader? A creative visionary?

Once you know what you want your brand to communicate, be consistent in everything you do online.

Use the same name, photo, and bio across all of your social media platforms. Post regularly about topics related to your brand, and make sure the tone of your posts is consistent with the image you’re trying to convey.

2) Interact with other people online in a way that reinforces your brand.

When someone mentions you in a post, thank them publicly. If someone leaves a negative comment on one of your posts, don’t delete it – instead, respond politely and professionally.

By managing your online brand thoughtfully and proactively, you can set yourself up for success both online and offline.

3) Monitor your web analytics to track your progress.

Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to track how people are finding you online and what they’re doing on your website. This data can give you insights into what’s working well and what needs improvement.

For example, if you see that most of your website visitors are coming from Facebook, you might want to focus on creating more engaging content for that platform.

Or, if you notice that people are spending a lot of time on your blog but not your sales page, you might need to work on driving traffic to your products or services.

4) Make sure your website represents your brand well.

Your website is often the first thing people will see when they search for you online, so it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date and represents your brand well.

Update your website regularly with new blog posts, photos, and products. Use attractive visuals, easy-to-navigate menus, and clear calls to action.

If you’re not sure how to create a website that represents your brand well, consider working with a web designer or developer.

5) Pay attention to your social media presence.

Social media is a powerful tool for managing your online brand. Use it to connect with your audience, share your work, and promote your products or services.

Be sure to post regularly, interact with others, and use hashtags and keywords that will help people find you. You can also use social media ads to reach a wider audience or promote specific products or services.

6) Monitor your online reputation.

Use Google Alerts or another tool to monitor your online reputation. This will help you stay on top of what people are saying about you online and take action if necessary.

For example, if you see a negative review of your business, you can reach out to the customer directly to try to resolve the issue. Or, if you see someone spreading misinformation about your work, you can correct it.

7) Manage your online brand proactively.

The best way to manage your online brand is to be proactive. Be thoughtful about everything you do online, from the content you post to the way you interact with others. By taking control of your online presence, you can set yourself up for success both professionally and personally.

By following these tips, you can create and manage an online brand that will help you achieve your goals.

The benefits of having a strong online brand

Let’s look at a few benefits of having a strong online brand:

1) Stand out from the competition.

With so much noise online, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. But if you create a well-defined brand, you’ll be better able to cut through the clutter and attract attention.

2) Build trust and credibility.

A strong online brand can help you build trust and credibility with your audience. If people know what to expect from you, they’re more likely to trust and respect you.

3) Connect with your audience.

By definition, a brand is a way of differentiating yourself from others. But it’s also a way of connecting with your audience on a deeper level. When done well, branding can create an emotional connection between you and your audience.

4) Drive traffic and sales.

A strong online brand can help you drive traffic and sales. If people are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. And if they trust and respect you, they’re more likely to tell others about you.

5) Increase your visibility.

A well-managed online brand will increase your visibility online. When people search for you or your business, you’ll be more likely to show up in the search results. And when people see you frequently in their feeds, you’ll be more likely to stay top of mind.

6) Attract media attention.

A strong online brand can help you attract media attention. If you’re known for something specific, journalists and bloggers will be more likely to write about you. This can help increase your visibility and reach even further.

7) Enhance your career prospects.

Your online brand can have a big impact on your career prospects. If you’re looking for a new job, employers will likely research you online. And if you’re an entrepreneur, investors will want to know more about your brand before they invest in your business.

8) Make a positive impact.

Finally, a strong online brand can help you make a positive impact in the world. If you’re passionate about something, you can use your platform to raise awareness and advocate for change.

The importance of staying consistent with your branding strategy

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a strong online brand. But it’s not enough to just create a brand—you also need to be consistent with your branding strategy.

When it comes to branding, consistency is essential. Your audience needs to know what to expect from you, and they need to see that you’re consistent in your messaging and your visuals.

Here are a few pointers if you’re not sure how to stay consistent with your branding:

1) Define your brand.

The first step to being consistent with your branding is to define your brand. What do you want people to think of when they see your name or your logo? What do you want your brand to represent?

2) Create guidelines.

Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to create guidelines. These guidelines should include everything from your mission statement to the colors and fonts you use in your branding. By having a set of guidelines, you’ll be able to ensure that all of your marketing materials are on-brand.

3) Train your team.

If you have a virtual assistant or team, it’s important to train them on your branding guidelines. Make sure everyone knows what your brand represents and how they can help you maintain a consistent brand identity.

4) Monitor your brand.

Once you’ve launched your brand, it’s important to monitor it. This means paying attention to how people are reacting to your brand and making sure that you’re still presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen.

5) Be prepared to adjust.

Finally, be prepared to adjust your branding strategy as needed. As your business grows and changes, your branding will need to change with it. By being flexible and willing to adjust, you’ll be able to ensure that your brand is always relevant.

Wrap Up

A strong online brand is essential for any business or individual. By definition, your online brand is the way you’re perceived by others online. And while that may seem like a superficial thing, the reality is that your online brand can have a big impact on your business or career.

If you’re not sure how to create a strong online brand, start by defining your brand and creating guidelines. Then, train your team on your branding strategy and monitor your brand over time. And finally, be prepared to adjust as needed.

About:
Oscar is a passionate full-time blogger and a part-time author. In his personal blog OssieRodriguez.com, he writes about software, online influence, and different business models.

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