Why you should call your internet service provider every year

broadband2When did you last speak with your internet service provider (ISP)? Most people “set it and forget it.” Did you know this could be costing you money?

We use cable for our office internet. It was expensive that first year, although far less than a T1 connection, so it seemed like a good deal at the time. I called a year later, halfway into a 2-year contract, and got the price cut in half for the exact same service. Nine months later, another call netted me triple the speed AND cable TV for a few dollars less each month.

We’ve run into clients on old DSL plans that have them paying 3-4 times the going rate for tortoise-like speeds. A single phone call gets them faster speeds at a fraction of the price.

And if you have a T1, you can almost certainly pay less or get more for your money. Compared to an integrated T1, in place in many small businesses today, dynamic T1s give you tremendous flexibility, splitting phone and data as needed instead of cutting the connection in half. The phone gets priority, but if no one’s talking, you get the entire T1 for your data. That means faster uploads and downloads.

Do you have multiple locations, maybe a point-to-point T1? Check out MPLS (multi-protocol label switching). This technology simplifies management of network traffic, which means your most important applications get priority, and you get better network performance.

Three reasons you should use a service for your ezine

iContact Email ServiceI ran into a colleague recently who was excited about a free email blast program he’d downloaded. With this program, he could send email directly from his computer. He thought it was great that he was going to save $30/month in subscription fees on his email marketing.

That excitement turned quickly to chagrin when I explained key reasons it’s better to use an online service like iContact (this is the one we use).

First and foremost, the good email services work closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure that your email actually reaches your targeted destination. A desktop program is nearly worthless if you’ve been flagged as a spammer and all your emails get blocked.

Another reason a service is better is that many ISPs and mail servers limit the number of emails you can send simultaneously. You may think you’ve sent hundreds of messages only to find out later that just 50 actually made it past your ISP. The tricky part about all this is that you may not get any error messages so there’s no obvious way to be sure what happened. A service is built with mass quantities of email in mind and has reporting built right in. This provides detailed stats on what was delivered, what was opened, what was forwarded, and what was clicked.

Third reason: CAN-SPAM regulations went into effect a few years ago. They’ve had little impact on spam, which is more of a problem than ever, but nonetheless we small business owners must comply or risk governmental wrath. Services generally enforce regulatory requirements, including simple subscription management for your recipients. This eases any worries over legal ramifications.

There are many additional features and benefits which vary by provider. We like iContact because of the easy-to-use interface, great reports, surveys, and multi-message autoresponders (I’ll post later about all the cool things you can do with this feature!).

Not sure whether it’s for you? Most services offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.