Glassdoor CEO steps down; Outlook design director departs; Pushpay adds director – 10minmail

Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman. (Glassdoor Photo)

Glassdoor CEO and co-founder Robert Hohman will step down on Jan. 6. The former Microsoft and Expedia exec will remain chairman as Glassdoor COO and president Christian Sutherland-Wong takes over as CEO of the job review site.

Hohman co-founded Glassdoor in 2007 with Expedia and Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, and former Expedia executive Tim Besse. The Mill Valley, Calif.-based company operates a recruiting and jobs platform with 67 million active monthly users and data on more than one million companies across 190 countries.

Last year, Japanese HR giant Recruit Holdings Co. acquired Glassdoor for $1.2 billion in an all-cash deal.

“Christian is one of the most strategic and thoughtful leaders I’ve ever known. This promotion is well-deserved as it reflects his day-to-day responsibilities and I have full confidence that Christian will build on the success he’s brought to Glassdoor, doing what’s best for job seekers, employers and our employees,” Hohman said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of what Glassdoor has accomplished and it is well positioned to further disrupt the employment industry.”

Hohman spoke at the 10minmail Summit in 2015.

Peter Skillman, director of design for Outlook at Microsoft, is leaving the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant. Skillman announced his decision on Twitter.

“I’m spending a few days exploring and learning about our history, race and injustice in the birthplace of the civil rights movement,” he wrote. “I have time because I just left Microsoft and will be starting a new role I’ll announce in a few weeks!”

Skillman is a tech industry veteran, holding design leadership roles at companies such as Palm and Nokia, where he worked for nearly five years before joining Microsoft in 2015. He spent time across various arms of Microsoft, including Windows, Skype, and IoT.

Pushpay added Justine Smyth to its board of directors. Smyth is currently chair of Spark New Zealand; chair of The Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand; and a director of Auckland International Airport. She previously worked at Lion Nathan and Deloitte.

Pushpay also announced that board member Daniel Steinman is stepping down. The company creates mobile platforms for nonprofit organizations to gather donations. It has offices in Redmond, Wash. and Auckland, New Zealand.

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Astranis reserves SpaceX ride for satellite to boost Alaska’s broadband – 10minmail

Artwork shows Astranis’ high-throughput telecommunications microsatellite in orbit. (Astranis Illustration)

A California-based startup called Astranis Space Technologies has signed a deal with SpaceX for the launch of its first geostationary satellite, which is due to widen Alaska’s access to broadband internet service in 2021.

The deal calls for SpaceX to launch Astranis’ microsatellite as a secondary payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, during a launch window beginning in the last quarter of 2020, CEO and co-founder John Gedmark announced today in a Medium post. SpaceX confirmed the deal in an email pointing to the post.

“We’re excited about what this means for Alaska, one of the most rugged states in America, and by extension, one of the hardest to serve with broadband internet,” Gedmark said.

Satellite broadband internet promises to connect billions of people in the world who don’t currently have easy, cheap access to global networks.

Companies such as Amazon, SpaceX and OneWeb are working on constellations that would make use of thousands of broadband satellites in low Earth orbit. In contrast, Astranis is developing a new breed of low-cost satellites that weigh about 660 pounds (300 kilograms) and would sit in stable orbital slots 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface.

The drawback for such geostationary satellites has to do with latency – that is, delays due to signal travel time that can cause a lag of up to a half-second or so in network response. But Gedmark says higher-latency satellite broadband access can still attract customers in out-of-the-way areas.

“If they are underserved or have no connection at all, then they just want internet as fast as possible. … Really, 95 percent of what people do in today’s world is not latency-sensitive,” he told 10minmail in January.

Alaska could serve as a good test case. The latest statistics from BroadbandNow suggest that 23 percent of the state’s population is underserved when it comes to broadband access. In comparison, only 9 percent of Washington state’s population is said to be underserved.

In January, Astranis announced a deal with Alaska’s Pacific Dataport Inc. and Microcom to provide the state’s residential and commercial customers with broadband internet service by March 2021. Astranis’ satellite system is designed to provide those customers with data transmission capacity amounting to more than 7.5 gigabits per second. Gedmark said that would “roughly triple the entire satellite capacity available in the state today while reducing costs by up to three times.”

“We hope the partnership will eventually expand to provide many more Gbps of dedicated bandwidth,” Gedmark said.

Financial terms for the SpaceX launch, or for the deal with Pacific Dataport and Microcom deal, have not been publicly detailed. But back in January, Gedmark told 10minmail that the Alaska arrangement was “a firm contract in the many tens of millions of dollars,” involving a seven-year lease of Astranis’ broadband capacity.

Astranis emerged from stealth mode a year and a half ago, with a $13.5 million Series A funding round that was led by Andreessen Horowitz and included Y Combinator, Fifty Years, Refactor Capital and Indicator Fund as additional investors. At the time, Astranis said that round brought total funding to $18 million.

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We persisted through Elizabeth Warren’s four-hour selfie marathon to ask about Amazon and big tech – 10minmail

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a small portion of the selfie line that awaited her in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. (10minmail Photo / Todd Bishop)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren notched a tech milestone during her Seattle campaign stop Sunday afternoon — posing for the 50,000th selfie in her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But appearing just a few blocks from Amazon’s headquarters and major Google and Facebook engineering centers, she was surprisingly quiet on a more substantive tech issue: her call to break up big tech companies.

Delivering her standard stump speech to an estimated 15,000 people at Seattle Center, Warren made general references to the need for stronger antitrust enforcement — repeating her call for “big structural change” to make sure the economy is serving middle-class families, not the corporate interests of giant drug and oil companies.

But not once during her public remarks, or during the media scrum afterward, did she specifically mention Amazon (or tech in general) in the context of antitrust or regulatory issues.

Given the waves Warren made with her call to “break up Big Tech,” it seemed like a missed opportunity to address the subject in a place with a huge stake in the issue, on all sides. The crowd was full of people who work in tech, from startups to giant companies, and it’s a region where the meteoric growth of the tech industry has impacted the economy for better and for worse.

So 10minmail decided to give Warren another chance. We stood by for more than four hours as the indefatigable candidate followed through on her commitment to take a selfie with every single person at the event who wanted one. As the sun set on the Space Needle, we walked alongside Warren (with the consent of her campaign staff) and asked her to address the topic specifically for the first time that day.

10minmail: We’re just a few blocks here from Amazon. What’s your message to employees of Amazon and other tech companies, that might worry about the impact of some of your policies on their jobs, their companies and US innovation?

Elizabeth Warren: Breaking up big tech does not mean fewer jobs. There’s still the work that has to be done, but it does mean that we’ve got to have a fairer marketplace. You know, look, Amazon, for example, they run this marketplace that’s now 49 percent of online sales. Um, and at the same time they go compete on businesses and they’re collecting all the information from running the platform and then taking advantage of that information to nudge out other small businesses. That don’t help competition and it doesn’t help jobs. So the way I see this is, break those two things apart. Let the platform be one business. It’s kinda like in baseball. You can be the umpire or you can own one of the teams, but you don’t get to be the umpire and own the teams. So let’s pull those two things apart, keep the platform going and let Amazon run as many businesses as they want, but not with the advantage of having sucked all the information out from the platform. So that’s what’s key for me.

GW: We are just a very close to Amazon here. I was surprised you didn’t address that specifically. What would be your message for Jeff Bezos and Amazon?

Warren: I think it’s time to break ’em up — enforce the antitrust laws, and we’ve got to look at the antitrust laws in terms of the world we have today. This online platform really creates an opportunity that Amazon has taken advantage of and it’s hurt a lot of little tiny businesses and startup businesses and small businesses and medium size businesses that can’t compete with a giant like Amazon that is sucking information out of every transaction. Information is today’s comparative advantage and Amazon shouldn’t be able to suck it all up and then dominate every single marketplace in America.

The 49 percent figure is a reference to an eMarketer estimate of Amazon’s share of U.S. online retail sales. (Update: eMarketer has since revised its estimate to 38 percent.) In its past statements, Amazon has sought to frame the discussion in the context of the overall market for retail sales, both online and in physical stores, and by that measure the company says it represents less than 1 percent of global retail sales and less than 4 percent of U.S. retail sales.

Warren clearly had her talking points down on the issue, but we were still left scratching our heads over the fact that she hadn’t seized the opportunity to elevate her concerns at the stop in Amazon’s neighborhood.

So we squeezed in one more question before she had to go: “Did you think about being more specific and going after them today, here in their backyard?”

“Not particularly,” Warren said. “I mean, I was here to talk about why I’m running for president. … I at least had the passing reference to the fact that we’ve got to break up the big companies. We’ve got to enforce our antitrust laws.”

However, she added, there’s “a lot of stuff we’ve gotta do.”

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Google and Dell team up on new Chromebook Enterprise devices, targeting Microsoft’s bread-and-butter – 10minmail

The new Google-Dell Chromebook Enterprise devices. (Google Photo)

Google is taking on the enterprise institution that is Microsoft’s Windows operating system with a series of new laptops targeting business customers.

Google is launching new Chromebook Enterprise devices, teaming up with manufacturers the same way Microsoft does on the majority of its Windows-powered laptops. Google is working with Dell to make versions of the Latitude 5400, starting at $699, and Dell Latitude 5300 two-in-one, starting at $819, with an enterprise version of Chrome OS built in.

The Verge reports that Google and Dell have been working together for more than a year to make sure Chromebook Enterprise devices are ready to meet expectations from IT groups. The partnership is not exclusive, The Verge reports, and Google will likely work with other hardware manufacturers down the road.

The two new Chromebook Enterprise devices will be available Aug. 27. In addition to the new devices, the Google Admin console for Chrome OS will get an update to make it easier for businesses to manage Chromebooks across the company from one location.

Google’s low-cost Chromebooks have done well in other areas, such as education. However, Google has yet to penetrate Microsoft’s firewall in the enterprise.

Google launched an enterprise version of Chrome OS in 2017, with better security features and more control for IT administrators. Chromebook Enterprise is the next evolution of that, with the Dell devices marking the first entries under the new program.

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Alexandria doubles down on decades-long Seattle biotech bet with Mercer ‘Mega Block’ deal – 10minmail

Alexandria will pay $143.5 million for the Mercer Mega Block site across the street from University of Washington School of Medicine buildings, close to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (right of Space Needle) and Amazon’s Seattle campus (not pictured). (10minmail Photo / Nat Levy)

As it closes in on one of the most valuable land deals in Seattle history, Alexandria Real Estate Equities is betting that biotech can thrive in a real estate market dominated by big tech.

The real estate firm recently reached an agreement with the city of Seattle to buy the Mercer Mega Block, a trio of development sites that lie between Amazon’s campus and the cluster of life sciences institutions around Lake Union. It’s the latest in a long line of bets made by Alexandria on Seattle’s life science industry.

Alexandria Executive Chairman Joel Marcus. (Alexandria Real Estate Equities Photo)

“You probably couldn’t find a site that was more importantly located — not only in the heart of the cluster, but really at the center of the life science effort in Seattle,” said Joel Marcus, founder and executive chairman of Alexandria.

Alexandria plans to pay $143.5 million for the site, roughly 40 percent above the original bid. The offer also came with a one-time $5 million contribution to help the city address homelessness and a pledge to develop affordable housing and a community center on the site.

Real estate for life science companies, particularly biotechs, has historically been severely limited in Seattle. Of all the life science space in the city, just 1.5 percent is vacant, according to a recent report from real estate firm CBRE.

“Space has been tight, and it’s gotten tighter over the last couple of years,” said Chad Robins, CEO of Adaptive Biotechnologies, which recently signed a lease with Alexandria that will triple the size of its Seattle headquarters.

Adaptive Biotechnologies is set to take over Alexandria’s 1165 Eastlake Ave E. building in 2021. (Alexandria Rendering)

That could soon change. Life science real estate in Seattle is set to grow 44 percent, adding around 2.2 million square feet — the majority of which should be delivered by 2022, according to CBRE. Alexandria is responsible for around 830,000 square feet of that.

Those figures will grow with the recently announced Mega Block deal, which Alexandria has proposed could add 740,000 square feet of office and lab space. The boom in real estate for biotech companies is among the reasons that CBRE ranked Seattle the No. 1 emerging life science hub earlier this year.

From ‘gross-looking’ buildings to tech mecca

It’s easy to look at the Mega Block today and see why Alexandria would be interested. The project is a stone’s throw away from the Google Cloud campus, an Amazon building, and Facebook’s engineering office — not to mention the Allen Institute and a UW Medicine research center.

But it took a lot of imagination for Alexandria to foresee what the Lake Union area could become in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it first began purchasing properties. “Most of what we were looking at was vacant land or gross-looking industrial buildings,” said Marcus. But Seattle also had unique expertise in immunology, and Alexandria was convinced it would become an early biotech hub.

The life science industry in Washington State has outpaced job growth in the private sector since 2001, according to a report from Life Science Washington. Seattle is home to 40 percent of all life science companies in the state.

“Clusters take about a 25 year period to really develop,” Marcus said. “We’re into the end of the first generation.”

That long-term thinking has paid off. Alexandria’s Seattle history started in 1996, when it bought the former headquarters of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center and leased it back to the institution. Alexandria would later do similar “sale-and-leaseback” deals with the Gates Foundation and Zymogenetics.

Alexandria’s 188 E. Blaine St. project will be home to tenants like Bluebird Bio, Sana Biotechnologies, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Life Science Washington. (10minmail Photo / James Thorne)

The bet on a biotech cluster around Lake Union has pitted Alexandria against the region’s most land-hungry tenants — namely, Amazon.

But Marcus thinks Amazon’s presence could be a boon for the life science industry. “Nobody quite knows what’s going on yet, but Amazon has built a pretty interesting healthcare team,” said Marcus, referring to Haven, Amazon’s healthcare joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.

One major hurdle to Alexandria’s Seattle plans is investors. “Seattle is on the weaker end of venture capital,” said Marcus. Despite being home to Alan Frazier’s Frazier Healthcare Partners and ARCH Venture Partners, the city lacks the “deep pool” of life sciences investors that can be found in the Bay Area and Boston.

Alexandria plans to create an incubator in Seattle called LaunchLabs by early next year, expanding on a program already in place in New York City and Cambridge, Mass. The company also operates an investment vehicle called the Seed Capital Platform. Alexandria keeps most of its investments secret, but Marcus said it was an early investor in Adaptive, which went public earlier this year.

Alexandria is developing a 303,000 square-foot life science project, nicknamed The Forest, at 1150 Eastlake Ave. E. with architecture firm Gensler. (Gensler Rendering)

Alexandria now owns 1.5 million square feet in Seattle, and has several projects under construction, including the Atrium at 188 E. Blaine St. (204,000 square feet), 1165 Eastlake (106,000 square feet), and 701 Dexter (217,000 square feet). It also has plans for a 303,000 square foot project at 1150 Eastlake and has purchased land at 219 Terry and 601 Dexter.

The Atrium is expected to complete this fall and has tenants such as the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Sana Biotechnologies, a stealthy startup founded by former Juno Therapeutics executives. Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluebird Bio officially moved into the Atrium last week, and Life Science Washington has also rented space in the building.

Another major Alexandria project is the historic Lake Union Steam Plant, the former home of biotech company Zymogenetics. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has taken over the lease at the steam plant building and plans to move in next year.

Why build lab space in expensive, crowded urban areas? For one, life science companies see rent as a relatively small expense compared to other investments, Marcus said. They’re also willing to pay a premium to land the right personnel.

Adaptive’s Robins echoed that sentiment. “We don’t want to be out in the boonies. We want to be in the city. That attracts the talent we’re looking for,” he said.

Alexandria builds real estate based on a cluster model that places companies in areas with research institutions, strong levels of venture capital, and employee talent. South Lake Union tenants have close access to major scientific institutions such as the Fred Hutch, the Allen Institute, the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, among others.

Beyond Seattle, the company also operates large real estate holdings in San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, New York City, Maryland and the research triangle in North Carolina. Alexandria reported net income of $364 million last year on revenues of $1.3 billion.

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Baidu surges past Google in global smart speaker sales, becoming the new #2 behind Amazon Echo – 10minmail

Inside Baidu’s new office in Bellevue, Wash. (Baidu Photo)

Baidu is now the No. 2 smart speaker seller in the world, roaring past Google and trailing only Amazon.

According to a new study from Canalys, Baidu shipped 4.5 million speakers in the second quarter, good for 17.3 percent market share. Google sold 4.3 million speakers, giving it 16.7 percent of the market.

Though they’re jockeying for the No. 2 spot in the smart speaker race, Google and Baidu don’t compete directly. Baidu’s devices are only available in China, and Google’s smart speakers aren’t sold there.

(Canalys Chart)

Amazon led the way with 6.6 million shipments in the second quarter, giving it 25.4 percent share of the global market. Alibaba, 4.1 million units sold, and Xiaomi, 2.8 million shipments, both captured more than 10 percent market share.

The “other” category, which includes the Apple HomePod, accounted for 3.7 million sales in the second quarter, or roughly 14 percent of the market.

Baidu, which opened an engineering office in the Seattle area nearly two years ago, entered the smart speaker market in 2017, but it wasn’t until last year, with the release of its Xiaodu devices, that the division took off. Since then, it has disrupted the smart speaker duopoly in China led by Alibaba and Xiaomi.

Baidu smart speaker sales spiked 3,700 percent in the last year, while Alibaba and Xiaomi saw growth of 38.8 percent and 37.5 percent respectively. Google sales actually declined nearly 20 percent year-over-year, while Amazon’s shipments rose 61.1 percent.

(Canalys chart)

Smart speaker sales in China doubled in the second quarter versus the prior year, with 12.6 million units sold. That’s more than twice the sales in the U.S., where shipments actually declined 2.4 percent over the prior year to 6.1 million.

With the U.S. market slowing, Canalys reports that both Amazon and Google are looking abroad to juice sales. International sales made up 50 percent of Amazon’s shipments in the second quarter, up from 32 percent the prior year. About 55 percent of Google smart speaker sales occurred outside the U.S., compared to 42 percent a year ago.

“Amazon and Google are focused on growing their business outside the U.S.,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low. “Google’s transition to the Nest branding while pivoting to smart displays proved to be a challenge, especially as it has begun rolling out its Nest Hub smart display globally. Google urgently requires a revamped non-display smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest, as well as a robust marketing strategy to build its Nest branding outside of the US.”

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Email Subject Line Best Practices: 7 Tips with Examples

It’s 2019 and by now, most businesses know that having a strong online presence and digital marketing strategy is key to surviving in the modern market. And while some things change or become outdated as time passes, others simply evolve and adapt to the new status quo.

Email marketing is one of the latter. 

Most consumers aren’t receiving daily direct mail ads and flyers anymore. At least not in the post. But we all open our email inboxes to ads, upsell emails, newsletters from our favorite brands, and coupons from companies enticing us to shop with them again.

The reason is obvious: email marketing works. As of 2015, email had an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. And one in five companies report an average ROI of 70:1, according to Emailmonday’s national client report.

However, while we’re singing the praises of email marketing, you probably can’t help but envision all of the crappy emails that land in your spam filter each week. Luckily, there are a few things you can take to minimize your emails being flagged as spam, and maximize your open rate. 

One of them is your subject line and this post will focus on email subject line best practices. We’ll tell you everything you need to know from what an appropriate email subject line length is, to how to use language that resonates with your audience. And yes – even how to avoid setting off spam filters. Let’s jump in!

Why should you improve your email subject line?

Assuming you’re not sending cold emails and your campaign is being used on an already established list, your subscribers should recognize your brand in their inbox. However, just because someone subscribed to your list at one point doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be waiting for your emails with bated breath.

It’s great that you convinced them to sign up for your list, but you’ll also need to convince them to open and read your emails. Your email subject line is your first, and potentially only impression your subscribers have of your email content. These handful of words are what lies between your list clicking the open or delete buttons.

So whether you’re amping up your existing email marketing campaign or just getting ready to launch, make sure each email is using subject line best practices. This will help ensure you maximize the ROI on your email marketing spend, plus make sure all that awesome content you spent time creating gets seen by as many eyes as possible.

Email Subject Line Best Practices

Ideal email subject line length

Generally speaking, the shorter your email subject line, the better. In fact, according to Marketo, four words or fewer in an email subject line tend to perform best.

But we know you can’t always fit your entire message into four words. If you can’t, just keep in mind that your maximum email subject line length shouldn’t exceed 50 characters (you can check it here). That’s because most people regularly check their inbox on mobile devices and you want to make sure your subject line fits on your readers’ screens without getting cut off.

Check out this email subject line. It’s four words, simple, and right to the point. This email is from a shoe retailer brand whose list I’m on. They’ve targeted me for this email because I’ve bought a pair of their “Jimmie Flats” before. 

The subject line works because not only does it fit on a mobile device, but it’s simple and brief.  They know I’m a qualified lead and because I’ve purchased from them before, they know the subject line doesn’t need any more detail because I’m already familiar with this product.

So was this email subject line a good choice? Well, it’s sitting opened in my inbox, and not in my trash or spam folders.

Email subject line personalization

Everyone wants to feel special. No one wants to feel like just another number or faceless consumer. That’s why something as quick and simple as personalizing your emails can increase engagement with your list.

You can boost your engagement and open rate simply by including each individual subscriber’s name or other personal details in the email subject line. (And although this post is specifically talking about email subject lines, do keep in mind that it’s a good idea to include similar personalization within the content of the email, as well.)

This personalized email subject line is a two-for-one. Not only does it address me by name, but it also mentions my birthday. Was it trying to sell me something? Was it just sending a friendly birthday note? Was it offering me a gift?

Honestly, it didn’t even matter. It addressed me by name and made me feel special on my birthday, so I opened it.

Plus, did you notice it managed to stay within that four-word range?

Using your email subject line to manage reader expectations

It can be fun to use extra creative or eccentric copy for your brand, especially if that’s the type of personality you’ve built for your company. But you might want to think twice about being too outside-the-box with your email subject lines.

As it turns out, straightforward and clear email subject lines out-perform creative ones. Check out the results of this study from Aweber.

The verdict? People want to know exactly what they’re getting into before they open your emails. And the last thing you want is to confuse your reader and have them expecting different content than what you show them. That’s a quick way to get filtered to spam. So the best way to manage your subscribers’ expectations is to CLEARLY tell them what they will find in your email.

Here’s a great example. This email is from a parenting brand that offers tips and development/behavior advice to parents. Its subject line makes it crystal clear what kind of content to expect inside, and the value it will bring me.

Now, all this said, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your copy. Just don’t let your message get lost in translation. 

Choosing the appropriate language for your email subject line

Speaking of choosing the copy for your email subject line, you do want it to resonate with your audience and stay in-line with your brand. This is one of those times when it’s important to understand your customers’ buyer personas.

Try and speak to your subscribers in a way that they would speak. Address pain points or questions you suspect they have. Use language and wording that excites, rather than bores them.

This email subject line from cosmetic brand Morphe absolutely hits the nail on the head.

They’re advertising a collaboration between a popular beauty influencer and their brand. Not only is the messaging crystal clear, but Morphe managed to incorporate Jeffree’s signature catchphrase, “Hey, how are ya?”.

This subject line is a great example of utilizing language that this brand’s audience would relate to, but also establishing clear expectations of the content that’s inside. 

Avoiding a spammy email subject line

Alright, let’s talk about that dreaded four-letter word again: spam. 

No one wants it in their inbox. No one wants their emails ending up in someone’s spam folder. So how can you design your subject lines so that neither algorithms nor subscribers filter your emails there?

Because spam emails tend to be filled with less-than-savory content, and often include scams, the senders try REALLY hard to get people to open them. To do that, they frequently use “Trigger” words to help boost open rates.

Modern email service providers crawl through emails, and subject lines including these trigger words can and do get automatically filtered to spam folders before a person even has a chance to look at them.

While there are certain circumstances you can get away with using trigger words (like if your brand generally has a good reputation, or if you’re sending from a personal email address rather than from a generic @brandname), a good rule of thumb is just to avoid using them altogether  (in both your subject line AND email content) to be safe.

Why is this email subject line spammy? Well it’s clearly trying to sell me something, but all it can tell me is that I have some sort of vague offer. There’s no indication that I’m a returning customer or have ever shopped there before. There’s no mention of any specific items I might be interested in or have looked at. It doesn’t address me by name – indicating that it’s just a mass email.

Everything points to this email being a blanket attempt to sell something to any and every person on its list. It doesn’t provide any real information that would be relevant to anyone. It’s just hoping you’ll open it to learn about whatever “offer” may be inside.

Let’s dive a little deeper. This email is especially suspicious because it doesn’t even have an email subject line at all. Not only does that appear spammy, but it alerts my scam flags as well.

One more just to send the point home. First of all, I don’t recognize the sender.

And on top of that, this subject line’s only word is “proposal”. What kind of proposal? Why might I be interested? Why would this even be relevant to me? I don’t know the answer to any of those, so I don’t care.

We did say less is more, but it can’t be so little information that no one knows what you’re talking about.

Those last two emails managed to make their way into my spam folder without ever making it to my inbox. That’s the algorithm at work. 

The right way to use timing in your email subject line

Got a sale or event coming up? Go ahead and include that info right into your subject line if it’s relevant. Remember that you’ll want to avoid spam language so steer clear of wording like, “Act now!”, “Limited time”, “While supplies last”, etc.

But if your big semi-annual sale is coming up this Saturday, that’s important, clear, and honest information you should include in your email’s subject line. Especially if your subscribers need to know that information so they can act on an informed decision.

Here’s an example of an email subject line educating its subscribers about an upcoming sale without using spammy language. It clearly spells out the deals on the table and indicates that the sale is happening this weekend. But it doesn’t try to unnecessarily push urgency or fear-monger people into opening. 

In fact, Kohls does such a good job on this email subject line that it can get people in the door without them even needing to open and read the rest of the email. They have all the information they need right from the subject. 

Incorporating email preview text

Ok, we’re going to end on a bonus tip since this isn’t technically your email subject line. Still, this is a field you can see before opening an email, so we’re including it on this list because it works in conjunction with your subject line.

Unlike your subject, there’s lots more room for creativity in your preview text. It can answer a question your subject line asks, or be a continuation of your subject line itself. Whatever it is, the content should continue enticing your reader and making it clear to them what the email is about.

Like your email subject line, you’ll still need to be mindful of your allotted space. Generally speaking, you have about 35 – 90 characters to work with in your preview text.

Victoria’s Secret utilizes all of the space in the email subject line to advertise their flash sale and its potential deals. Then they go one step further by using the preview text to continue talking about more deals, including a freebie.

40% off, plus free shipping, plus a free item with just a $30 purchase is plenty of relevant information that had me clicking through to the email to see how I could qualify. This was a great example of enticing subscribers with every inch of available space they had to use. 

Awesome examples of click-inspiring email subject lines

Now let’s check out a few email subject line examples that use two or more of these tips to get subscribers to open emails.

In this example, the company creates a clear subject line regarding the sale and what people can expect to save. Then continues into the preview text with the dates of the sale.

The subject line is straight and to the point. Carter’s is reminding me that I have reward points and obviously wants me to spend them. To entice me more, the preview text hits me with information about their 50% off sale.

This one packs a lot in, starting with the email’s subject line of just three words. The subject line also uses language that’s relevant to its subscribers. And although on its own the subject is somewhat vague, it continues right into the preview text to finish the message.

Have you been using email subject line best practices everywhere you can? Got a tried-and-true subject line formula that works every time? Tell us about it! 

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Can People See When you Look at their Instagram? Well, Yes and No…

Let’s be honest, we’re all guilty of the occasional Instagram snoop!

We like to pretend we’re private detectives, snooping through people’s profiles, checking out their photos, and generally just being curious.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of but you’re probably wondering if people can see when you look at their Instagram.

After all, the last thing you want is to be is called out but a former colleague or partner.

Good news – the short answer is no, people won’t know if you look at their Instagram photos, but this doesn’t apply to Stories or videos.

Let’s start with when people can see when you look at their Instagram…

Instagram Stories are a relatively new feature. They enable users to post fleeting photos, complete with captions and filters. 

Related: How to Edit Vertical Video for Instagram and IGTV

Instagram Stories work a little differently than the rest of the platform and you can actually see a list of users that viewed your story.

These users will be listed no matter their privacy settings. 

So, if part of your Insta-snooping involves browsing stories, be prepared to have your identity known!

Most of Instagram, however, is fair game.

From day one, Instagram hasn’t told users when somebody visits their profile or views one of their photos.

This means you can scroll through somebody’s photos and they’ll be none the wiser.

Yes, Instagram’s algorithm will know (that’s how they recommend similar content in the search tab) but that information won’t be passed on to other users.

The only content you need to watch out for are videos.  Keep in mind that a view counts as 3 seconds or more of watching, so if you accidentally stumble across a two-year-old video of your ex, make sure you get out of there quickly.

To summarize:

People will know if you watch one of their videos, or view one of their Stories. These are best avoided if you want to remain undetected.

However, people won’t know if you view their profile page or their photos so you can snoop there to your heart’s content.

Of course, whatever you do, don’t accidentally hit “Like”!

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Improving Brand Awareness: A Guide for Brands

There are some brands that have become so ingrained in global culture that they’ve entered into the modern lexicon: “Kleenex”, for example, has entirely replaced the word for tissue in a number of languages. This phenomenon is an offshoot of brand awareness, and it’s the goal of many advertising efforts. Indeed, not all marketing campaigns are focused on pure sales and conversions — many are focused solely on getting a company’s name out in the wild and planting a seed in the consciousness of their target audience that will eventually lead them to make a purchase.

Even though it can take longer for the benefits of a brand awareness campaign to show themselves compared to direct response marketing, the results are no less valuable: successful brand recognition campaigns will insert your business’s name into the mind of your audience members and keep you top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

Figuring out how to successfully integrate brand awareness strategies into your business’s marketing programs is no simple endeavor — it takes ambition, dedication, and a healthy dose of creativity. However, increasing your brand’s recognition is one of the most important things you can do for the longevity of your business.

In this guide, we’re going to go over the whats, whys, and hows of brand awareness. We’ll explore what brand recognition marketing is at its core, the different types of brand awareness strategies that you can utilize, and how they may fit into your business’s larger game plan. 

So, without further ado, let’s attempt to expand your awareness of brand awareness! 

What is brand awareness?

Let’s see if we can construct a brand awareness definition of our own. According to Merriam-Webster, a brand is “a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted,” and awareness is the “knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists.” If we mash the two together, we can see that brand awareness is all about making the public aware that your brand exists. 

Simple enough, right?

Brand awareness is a strange beast. While so much marketing these days is focused on performance and direct response, increasing your brand’s recognition is far more abstract — a successful brand awareness campaign may not see any measurable results for a fairly long period of time. As such, it’s much more akin to long-term investment strategies that will take a while to ripen and reach maturity.

Think of the world’s most recognizable brands: when Coke places an ad on TV, they’re not expecting you to immediately run out and buy a can. Instead, they’re hoping that their brand becomes so ubiquitous that anytime you think of having a soda, you immediately think of Coke. Even if you don’t want a soda for the next three weeks, when that time comes, Coke hopes they’ll be your first choice. 

Brand awareness campaigns are fairly easy to differentiate from more conversion based advertising efforts. When Dove ran their Real Beauty campaign, they were hoping to improve public sentiment so that the next time you find yourself in the soap aisle of your local pharmacy, you’d reach for Dove. Compare that to a typical Old Navy commercial, in which the intent is clearly to entice you into the store with their 60% off back-to-school sale.

Why should companies care about brand awareness?

Brand awareness is all about cementing your business’s authority in the space you’re working in. To see the benefits, you really need to think long term: imagine there are two carpenters, Jules and Ronaldo, both trying to corner an upscale market. 

Jules consistently runs campaigns that say “Jules Carpentry: 20% off on carpentry work.” Ronaldo, on the other hand, spends his marketing budget on a campaign that says “Ronaldo: Cosmopolitan Carpentry for the Sophisticated Consumer.” Which of these two ads is more likely to catch your attention? 

On one hand, Jules’s campaign is more likely to bring in customers immediately, but Ronaldo’s is doing something that’s arguably more valuable: he’s establishing an identity for himself as a high-end carpenter. Even though people at the bottom of the sales funnel may be more convinced by Jule’s direct response campaign, Ronaldo is implanting his brand into the brains of his target market so that eventually he becomes known as the artisan that crafts impeccable works of art, while Jules ends up being known as the guy who will do cabinets at a discount. 

It can be argued that these two campaigns are targeting a different type of customer, but the thrust of the experiment still stands: Jules isn’t establishing much of an identity for himself outside of a discount, so when a new carpenter comes around offering a greater 30% discount, he could be in trouble. Ronaldo’s identity, however, will remain no matter the competition does. 

Taking a quick look at the numbers, it’s clear how much effective brand awareness campaigns can help a company: a 2015 study conducted by Nielsen showed that 59% of consumers prefer to make purchases from brands that are familiar to them. However, while brand recognition is clearly important, most companies will probably do best by running a mix of direct response and brand awareness campaigns concurrently. 

Types of brand awareness

Brand awareness is an umbrella term that encompasses a few different implementations:

Brand recall

Let’s take a moment to conduct a mini Rorschach test. Note what comes to mind when you read the following product categories: cars, soda, computers. Did you think Tesla, Coke, and Apple? How about Audi, Pepsi, and Dell? No matter what you thought of, you probably have a good idea of what brand recall is after this little exercise. 

In short, brand recall is all about product-brand associations. At the height of brand recall success, a consumer prompted with your product category should instantly think of your brand, inextricably linking them together so that it’s almost impossible for them to think of that item without your company springing to mind.

Brand recognition

If you see two golden arches that look like an M or a curved checkmark, can you name the brand? If so, that means that McDonalds and Nike have achieved a good level of brand recognition. In fact, these two brands have achieved such a high level that you don’t even need to see the logo, you just need a description! 

Brand recognition means the ability to identify a business by its logo, tagline, or marketing campaigns. Strong brands are instantly recognizable: when you see the golden arches, you think McDonald’s, when you hear “just do it,” you think Nike, and when you see an animated lizard, you think Geico. Making your brand more recognizable will make consumers more likely to purchase from you in the future.

Top of mind

The meaning of this term is fairly evident: a brand that has successfully achieved top of mind status is the first brand that pops into a consumer’s head when they think of a certain product. This is incredibly hard to achieve, but it is doable, especially in smaller niches. 

Brand dominance

Brand dominance is a fairly new term that originated in Aaron Pierson’s book Brand Dominance. According to his website, the definition of brand dominance is: “When such a strong emotional connection is created, not only does an audience refer their peers, but it rallies behind the brand in pursuit of the brand’s own growth.” 

Although this sounds extremely difficult to achieve, smaller businesses sometimes have a leg up in this area — everyone loves the underdog story of the small local bookstore competing against Amazon. If your business operates in a fairly niche space like veganism of virtual reality, for example, you can often form deep emotional connections with your audience.

Ways to build brand awareness

Now that we’ve established what brand awareness is, the different types, and how it can help your business, let’s move onto the good stuff: how you can actually foster that connection with your audience. To help better explore this, we’re going to look at some brand awareness examples as well.

Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is all about consistency. No matter how your audience interacts with you — be it through your website, physical store, social media account, or customer service chat — you want to create an experience that meshes with the rest of your brand. As an extreme example, you wouldn’t want to visitors to your business’s website to be presented with cute, pink drawings reminiscent of Hello Kitty, only to walk into your store and find themselves lost in a dark, cyberpunk Hot Topic spinoff. 

Apple is a master at this kind of marketing. Their experience is seamless and their products, websites, and stores all maintain a similar aesthetic.

As you design your brand image, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine how they’ll experience your brand. 


What better way to introduce your brand to new people than to partner with another brand that has its own following? Partnerships can be a big deal for brands, especially smaller businesses that land a partnership with an established brand. The up-and-coming Impossible Foods recently made waves by partnering with Burger King, one of the biggest names in food.

The Impossible Burger was able to expand into a new market, and Burger King was able to appeal to a whole new demographic that’s interested in sustainable and animal-product-free eating — a clear win-win situation!

If you want to increase your brand recognition and expand your reach, look for brands that can go hand-in-hand with your own. For example, if you sell protein powder, see if you can partner with a brand that sells fitness gear. 


If you’ve ever watched NASCAR, you already know how sponsorships can help to build brand awareness. The concept is simple: find some event, team, or person that needs some amount of financial backing and bankroll them. Sponsoring a local little league team is a classic example that works well for small, local businesses.

Here you can see how sponsorships can turn a person or event into a living advertisement. Sponsorships are a great way to implicate your brand in places that it normally wouldn’t be and thus expand your reach. 

Red Bull is a brand that has their sponsorship marketing locked down. By sponsoring music and extreme sporting events, they’re able to cement their image as an exciting drink for go-getters in the mind of the public. Red Bull landed the sponsorship deal of a lifetime when they sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the stratosphere. Millions of eyes ended up on the viral YouTube video, subconsciously increasing Red Bull’s brand awareness.


Paid advertising is probably the most familiar way that businesses build brand awareness and recognition. When you see an advertisement that doesn’t have a clear call to action such as “go to to buy your pony now” or “come to Secondhand Socks for our spring buy one get one free sale,” chances are the point of the ad is to build awareness. 

Take a look at the famous lime and coke ad: 

There’s no sales pitch and no call to action. Instead, there’s just some polar bears throwing around bottles of Coke. But despite there being no clear sales goal, those polar bears have entered the public consciousness and now polar bears, an animal that existed for thousands of years before soft drinks were invented, have become part of the Coke brand. Now, even a trip to the Zoo can end up subconsciously triggering someone to buy a Coke when they get thirsty. 

Aflac also runs great brand awareness ads, like this one, which has the specific goal of teaching the audience more about what they do:

Social media

Considering how much focus there is on social media marketing these days, the fact that platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be used to improve brand awareness (and purchasing decisions) should not come as a surprise. As of 2018, internet users spent 136 minutes on average using social media, according to Statista. Clearly, proper utilization of social media channels can give your brand a lot of face time with your audience.

Starbucks’s social media strategy is entirely focused around brand awareness: they don’t mention many sales, instead opting to fill up their followers’ feeds with aesthetically pleasing images of their products. These posts may not lead to instant conversions, but they do cement a relationship with their audience. 


Brands that want to establish themselves as an authority figure in their space should make a concerted effort to use blogging to their advantage. Blogs are a way for brands to provide value to potential customers free of charge. Once a lead has already derived value from a business, they’re more likely to return to make a purchase.

Oanda uses their informational blog to attract new customers. By providing useful advice on the foreign exchange and futures markets, the brand catches organic search traffic and builds a relationship with people who are looking for information about trading these financial instruments. When these people are ready to move ahead and open up a brokerage account, Oanda is one of the first names they’ll think of as they’ve already come to trust their advice.

Guest posting can also help brands reach a broader audience and further establish themselves as the dominant force in a market. The following guest post from Clever Real Estate helps display their expertise. By getting a blog post placed in a major publication, the brand is able to improve their reputation and authority status. 

Slogans, sayings, and hashtags

A good slogan is like a catchy melody and you probably know all too well how it can catch on like wildfire. Hiring a copywriter who can put your brand’s identity into a few catchy words can provide a massive and long-lasting ROI. 

Here are a few examples of timeless slogans:

  • “I’m lovin’ it.” – McDonalds
  • “Just do it.” – Nike
  • “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” – M&Ms
  • “Breakfast of Champions.” – Wheaties
  • “Got Milk?” – California Milk Processor Board

A good slogan doesn’t have to be complex or even particularly creative — it just needs to be concise, memorable, and unique.

How to measure brand awareness

Although some marketers deem all attempts at measuring brand awareness as a waste of time since it doesn’t have a direct correlation to your conversion rate, it can never hurt to know more about how the public views your brand. 

Here are five ways to measure brand recognition:

  • Website traffic: When analyzing your site’s traffic, look specifically for direct traffic, i.e. visits from people that typed your site’s address directly into their browser. This can help prevent confusion with other organic marketing campaigns you may be running. 
  • Search volume: Use Google Trends to see how many people are specifically searching for your brand’s name.
  • Social listening: There are a number of tools like Brandwatch that allow you to scrape social media feeds and search for mentions of your brand. You can use this data to see how far your brand’s name is travelling on social. 
  • External links: Use tools like Trackmaven to monitor how many sites are linking to you. As your brand awareness grows, more blogs and media outlets will pick up on it. 
  • Earned media: Similarly to external links, when a major publication or news organizations writes about your brand, that’s a measurable sign of your growing brand recognition. Trackmaven and other similar tools can help you measure this as well. 

With this information at your disposal, you should be poised to plant your brand’s identity in the collective consciousness. Remember: these strategies are slow burns — they’re not going to give you success overnight. Remain patient, keep at it, and results will follow eventually. 

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AIL Framework – Framework for Analysis of Information Leaks

AIL is a modular framework to analyse potential information leaks from unstructured data sources like pastes from Pastebin or similar services or unstructured data streams. AIL framework is flexible and can be extended to support other functionalities to mine or process sensitive information (e.g. data leak prevention).


  • Modular architecture to handle streams of unstructured or structured information
  • Default support for external ZMQ feeds, such as provided by CIRCL or other providers
  • Multiple feed support
  • Each module can process and reprocess the information already processed by AIL
  • Detecting and extracting URLs including their geographical location (e.g. IP address location)
  • Extracting and validating potential leak of credit cards numbers, credentials, …
  • Extracting and validating email addresses leaked including DNS MX validation
  • Module for extracting Tor .onion addresses (to be further processed for analysis)
  • Keep tracks of duplicates (and diffing between each duplicate found)
  • Extracting and validating potential hostnames (e.g. to feed Passive DNS systems)
  • A full-text indexer module to index unstructured information
  • Statistics on modules and web
  • Real-time modules manager in terminal
  • Global sentiment analysis for each providers based on nltk vader module
  • Terms, Set of terms and Regex tracking and occurrence
  • Many more modules for extracting phone numbers, credentials and others
  • Alerting to MISP to share found leaks within a threat intelligence platform using MISP standard
  • Detect and decode encoded file (Base64, hex encoded or your own decoding scheme) and store files
  • Detect Amazon AWS and Google API keys
  • Detect Bitcoin address and Bitcoin private keys
  • Detect private keys, certificate, keys (including SSH, OpenVPN)
  • Detect IBAN bank accounts
  • Tagging system with MISP Galaxy and MISP Taxonomies tags
  • UI paste submission
  • Create events on MISP and cases on The Hive
  • Automatic paste export at detection on MISP (events) and The Hive (alerts) on selected tags
  • Extracted and decoded files can be searched by date range, type of file (mime-type) and encoding discovered
  • Graph relationships between decoded file (hashes), similar PGP UIDs and addresses of cryptocurrencies
  • Tor hidden services crawler to crawl and parse output
  • Tor onion availability is monitored to detect up and down of hidden services
  • Browser hidden services are screenshot and integrated in the analysed output including a blurring screenshot interface (to avoid “burning the eyes” of the security analysis with specific content)
  • Tor hidden services is part of the standard framework, all the AIL modules are available to the crawled hidden services
  • Generic web crawler to trigger crawling on demand or at regular interval URL or Tor hidden services

Type these command lines for a fully automated installation and start AIL framework:

git clone
cd AIL-framework
cd ~/AIL-framework/
cd bin/
./ -l

The default is for Debian and Ubuntu based distributions.
There is also a Travis file used for automating the installation that can be used to build and install AIL on other systems.

Installation Notes
In order to use AIL combined with ZFS or unprivileged LXC it’s necessary to disable Direct I/O in $AIL_HOME/configs/6382.conf by changing the value of the directive use_direct_io_for_flush_and_compaction to false.

Starting AIL

Eventually you can browse the status of the AIL framework website at the following URL:


The default credentials for the web interface are located in DEFAULT_PASSWORD. This file is removed when you change your password.

CIRCL organises training on how to use or extend the AIL framework. AIL training materials are available at

HOWTO are available in

Privacy and GDPR
AIL information leaks analysis and the GDPR in the context of collection, analysis and sharing information leaks document provides an overview how to use AIL in a lawfulness context especially in the scope of General Data Protection Regulation.

Research using AIL
If you write academic paper, relying or using AIL, it can be cited with the following BibTeX:

  title=AIL-The design and implementation of an Analysis Information Leak framework,
  author=Mokaddem, Sami and Wagener, G'erard and Dulaunoy, Alexandre,
  booktitle=2018 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data),


Tor hidden service crawler

Trending charts

Extracted encoded files from pastes


Tagging system

MISP and The Hive, automatic events and alerts creation

Paste submission

Sentiment analysis

Terms manager and occurrence

Top terms

AIL framework screencast

Command line module manager

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