OpenSRS: Reseller Friendly since 1999
 

Get a Year of SiteLock Free for Your Site

Last year we partnered with SiteLock to offer our resellers a great wholesale price on their malware scanning product. Since then, many of you have expressed interest (both enthusiasm and doubt) in the service, the features and the benefits to your clients.

So like buying a car, we want you to take SiteLock out for a test drive, so you can in turn offer it to your customers with confidence. For the next two months we’re offering all of our current resellers one-year free of SiteLock Basic.

All you need to do is buy and implement SiteLock on your own site, then fill out this form for a full rebate. And as a little extra bonus, we’ll randomly select two resellers for a free upgrade to either SiteLock Premium or Enterprise. We’ll have this offer available until August 31, 2012.

Want to know more about SiteLock? We have an archived webinar available that explains the service and features.

Preparing and dealing with the inevitable; its about preserving that trust

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of guest posts by Phil Shih, founder of Structure Research.

The recent outage suffered by the Amazon Web Services cloud is another stark reminder that despite the best efforts of service providers, outsourced hosting and cloud infrastructure is fundamentally imperfect. Obviously you don’t want outages to happen very often and there is plenty service providers can do in the areas of engineering and software architecture to minimize risk and impact. But the ideal of 100% uptime, while desirable, is impossible to achieve. Things can and will go down. You can bet on it. Because of this simple fact, service providers need to understand that it is not just about preventing and avoiding outages. It is about how you deal with them when they unfortunately do happen. I

The most important thing to do when an outage happens is to be transparent. There is no getting around this and it can’t be emphasized enough. While it might hurt to tell your customers that the failure in your service delivery has caused a disruption to their business it is a necessary position to take. Being secretive, elusive or worse, dishonest, breaks down the trust a customer has placed in the hands of the service provider when they hand over their mission-critial content and applications. Break this trust and there is nothing left.

Communication is key

Transparency is the first step. The next step is communication. And not just communication but effective and proactive communication. When there is an outage hosters must go on the offensive and reach out to customers directly … and fast. You don’t want customers going to Twitter for information about your service. You don’t want to risk having customers get false or misleading information. To mitigate that from happening hosters must communicate accurate and detailed information immediately. Get on Twitter, post on a company blog or Facebook page. Send a mass email to customers. Call as many customers as you can or at least call your top customers. And be sure to keep the updates coming regularly through and after the outage. Not reaching out to customers could result in customers making decisions about your service based on false information. And this almost always will have an undesirable outcome.

Being transparent and providing clear and accurate information also plays a role before the outage happens. Be careful to look over your SLA terms with a lawyer and make sure you can deliver on all the stipulations. Both the customer and provider need to have a frame of reference for when things go wrong. A concise SLA sets expectations for customers and delineates service provider responsibilities. It also keeps you out of legal hot water. And be sure not to promise what you can’t deliver on. The 100% SLA is just a disaster waiting to happen. Even if you have liberal definitions of downtime, when things go wrong you are going to look pretty silly with a claim of 100% downtime. Just don’t do it.

This is not to say, however, that covering your bases is enough. This is just a staring point. Preparation and a legal frame of reference is just a foundation that shapes a conversation. Hosters still have to engage in that conversation and it is often with customers that are downright irate. Going above and beyond for your customers might be a necessary response. Understand how far you are willing to go for customers in the event of an outage well before it happens.

Be ready!

It is worth repeating. Things can and do go wrong. A good outage management strategy requires preparation, realistic expectations, honesty and transparency. An infrastructure service provider is responsible for the lifeblood of businesses. It is a relationship that runs on technology but is grounded in trust. Preserving that trust is the key to maintaining good relations with customers when things go wrong. Customers understand that the Internet is perfect and always will be. All they want is a technology partner that appreciates this and acts accordingly.

Thanks to Andy Piper for the pic, and for releasing it under Creative Commons.

Explore the next version of webmail in OpenSRS Email Service

Great news! On July 5th, 2012, we’re rolling out an updated version of our webmail application in a “preview mode” for all users of OpenSRS Email Service.

Starting that day, your users will be able to choose between the current interface, and the newly updated interface, through a “preview” toggle on the webmail login screen.

For the sake of any of your users who may fear change, the current webmail will remain the default – users who want to check out the new webmail will have to specifically click to choose the preview.

The “preview mode” is displayed by default on the login screen if you use the default webmail brand. Those using a custom brand can enable the preview through the Branding Tool in the Mail Administration Center.

In the Production Test Environment later today

Later today, we’ll roll out the update to the Production Test Environment (PTE) so you’ll have a chance to log in to an account in your Test account and see for yourself what the new webmail is like.

Take the opportunity over the next few weeks and months to get your support staff familiar with the interface prior to it being released as the default webmail application later this year.

What’s new!

You’re probably wondering what’s new in this version of webmail. Here are some highlights:

  • Support for Google Chrome and Apple Safari in both the Standard and Basic interfaces
  • Better settings handling across sessions for things like the preview pane and email header view
  • New three-pane layout for the Personal Address Book
  • Improved application responsiveness and speed

New default theme!

Webmail has also received a complete refresh of the default theme, moving to a much cleaner, far more readable interface. We’ve also moved to a tabbed interface, providing easier access to different areas of the application like Mail, Personal Address Book, Calendar, File Sharing and Settings.

The full list

We’ve posted a full list of what’s been updated, added and enhanced on our website along with known issues. View it here.

We’d love to get your feedback on the new webmail. Drop into the OpenSRS Forums and tell us what you think and give us a heads up on any bugs that you might find.

Talking About Ting

In our recent webinar about selling Ting, ultramarathoner James Koole suggested that you should “host more of the conversation on your side than ours.” I want to share a piece of data to support that point, elaborate on it a bit and see if I can offer you some help.

First the data. Looking at the traffic coming through our reseller landing pages on Ting, we see that 9% of the traffic has produced 80% of the accounts. Said differently, we are seeing a bunch of resellers who drive, for example, 200 visits with no conversions and a bunch of resellers who drive, for example, 4 visits with 3 conversions. The 200 visitors are probably coming through some sort of logo or link dropped on a homepage. The 4 visitors obviously knew quite a lot about Ting before they ever got there.

Your customers will likely not yet know anything about Ting. We do the best we can on our site to establish credibility and address potential concerns. But, in the end, we are still strangers. The best thing we have going for us is your endorsement.

Think about your own buying decisions. Familiarity and trust is everything. A blog post from you explaining the Ting plans will inevitably be so much more powerful than our own Ting plans page. Sharing how much you have saved a month with Ting will be so much more relevant than dozens of our own testimonials (from yet more strangers). Offering to walk your customers through the savings calculator to see if they will save money themselves will be absolutely invaluable.

The days of slapping affiliate links on your site and hoping to see conversions are over. Your customers rightfully expect to know what Ting is all about and why you are recommending it before they even visit our site. And they will not convert to any of our satisfaction if they don’t get that from you.

I don’t have more advice to offer on selling Ting in your own words. Be helpful. Be honest. I do, however, have one more thought on hosting more of the conversation on your side than ours.

We recently put the Ting savings calculator on our Ting Facebook page. Then, we took it a step further and put it on our separate Hover Facebook page. This work pretty much paves the way for you to embed this calculator on your site, Facebook page or anywhere else you want. Again, it might not seem profoundly different than sending your customers to our site. But I believe having this tool on your side, surrounded by your thoughts and suggestions, will drive more interaction and have far greater impact. It also does even more to reinforce your role as a trusted provider and expert.

You can add the savings calculator to your Facebook page easily. You’ll find more info and the link here.

If you want to add it to your site, there’s just a bit of work that needs to be done. We are happy to help. Just send an email to our own doctor of Ting reseller love, Mark Klein, at mark@ting.com.

Meanwhile, please join us in the Ting discussion forum to offer any questions, thoughts or concerns about how we can help you succeed.

Holiday Hours for Canada Day 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012 is Canada Day up here in the Great White North, aka Canada. It’s the day we celebrate the day Canada became a nation way back in 1867. We’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating – Canadians are pretty predictable when it comes to long weekends in the summertime. The majority of us Canadians will celebrate Canada Day with BBQs, beer on the dock and some fireworks to cap it all off.

While Canada Day falls on a Sunday this year, our HR department assures us that taking the Monday off to recover is a-ok with them. That means a majority of our staff in our Toronto HQ will be off on Monday, July 2. Reseller Support will be staffed on Monday as usual – if you call in or email, please do thank them for coming in on a holiday.

Here are the hours of operation during the holiday:

Our Reseller Support team continues to be available 24/7 to assist you.

Hours by department:

Department Dates and Hours
Reseller Support Regular hours
Payments Email support: payments@opensrs.org
Compliance Closed July 2nd (Monday)
Service Bureau (for transactions requiring manual processing) Closed July 2nd (Monday)

Why Business Customers Should Use Organization Validated SSL Certificates

Of the three types of SSL certificate validation, which one do you understand the least? I’m willing to bet its organization validation (OV).

For the uninitiated, there are different validation methods for different types of SSL certificates. In simple terms:

  • Domain Validated (DV): This is the least rigorous validation method. The Certificate Authority (CA) checks to see that the applicant’s name and contact information matches what is stored in the WHOIS database for the domain name associated with the SSL Certificate.
  • Organization Validated (OV): In the case of an OV certificate, the CA performs a much more substantial validation process. This includes checking the applicant’s business credentials (through databases including the Articles of Incorporation) and even making sure that the company’s physical address matches the application.
  • Extended Validation (EV): This is the highest level of validation and can take as long as a few days to complete. The validation process includes checks of physical location, phone calls to ensure the applicant is authorized to order the certificate on behalf of the company or business represented, and more.

Offer at least an OV cert for your business customers

For individuals, a DV certificate is the most affordable and logical choice to provide simple encryption for things like logins.

But for business, a domain validated certificate simply isn’t the appropriate choice. If you have small- and mid-sized business customers, at the bare minimum, they should be using an organization validated certificate to ensure that visitors to their website see that additional information about the organization in the certificate.

A good rule of thumb is this: if the certificate is issued to a company, then it should be one that requires validation of that company – either OV or EV. And anytime there are transactions occurring on a website, an OV or EV certificate should be used to instill confidence in the customer that their data is safe and that they are dealing with who they think they are.

On-demand webinar: Tapping into Mobile Trends with goMobi

If you missed the webinar I hosted last week with Chris Campbell of goMobi, it’s now up and ready for on-demand viewing.

Chris did a great job presenting some super stats about the state of the mobile web in 2012 and about how goMobi provides an ideal solution for both resellers like you and your customers. He also took a look at some of the new features that were added to goMobi recently, and he gave us a bit of a sneak peek at what was on the roadmap for the next couple of releases.

Click here to head straight to the archive page. No signup required!

Secrets to Successful SSL Selling

“Assess and suggest”. That’s the best approach to offering SSL certificates to your customers because it ensures that you start with an understanding of the customer’s need, and end with selling the correct SSL certificate for their application.

Providing that bit of education and assistance – helping the customer to understand the various product differences and features – will go a long way in ensuring the customer ends up with the right solution.

Often times customers start the down the purchase path by looking at price first, and then features. Given that many of your potential customers don’t really know much about SSL other than knowing that they need one, price is going to be the biggest factor in their choice. That may mean they spend less, but it also means they will likely end up with the wrong SSL certificate for them. Unless you help them make that choice.

Offering the right solution, not the cheapest solution

There is a tendency to assume that the customer will only consider the least expensive option. That’s not the case. It’s really up to you to make sure that you present the right product for the customer.

I’ve heard from resellers that they feel dirty suggesting higher priced certificates to their customers, and that all SSL products are the same. While it’s true that the encryption provided by a domain validated certificate is as secure as what an extended validation certificate provides, it’s also true that there is much more to SSL than just encryption. Learn more.

Would you put one of your mid-sized business customers on your cheapest shared hosting packages? Or would you suggest the right solution for their needs even if that was a more expensive VPS or dedicated server package?

Selling a basic, domain validated certificate to a mid-sized business that transacts online through their site is doing them a disservice. That business could reap real benefits from using a Symantec Secure Site Pro, which includes the well-recognized Norton Secured Seal that is proven to reduce abandonment and lift consumer confidence.

The customer may not know this, but you should. They come to you for advice on what is best for them. Educate yourself, understand the products, and then assess and suggest the right solution to your customers.

Assess and Suggest

Here are some tips for how to help your customers get the right SSL certificate. The net result will be an increase in unit sales (because customers will feel confident in dealing with you), more sales in the higher margin products (because customers want to buy the right product for their application) and happier customers (because customers will feel informed and empowered).

Assess: understand the customer’s need.
Are they a small business? Do they use their site for transactions? Would they benefit from the Norton Secured Seal? Is the site public facing?

At this stage you are looking to develop an understanding of where the customer fits on the SSL product map. Remember that inexpensive domain validated certificates have a place in personal sites and internets, but also remember that small- and mid-sized business really should be using an organization or extended validated certificate.

Suggest: offer the right SSL certificate for their needs.
Your customers look to you for advice and expertise. Provide it to them and make sure you are offering the right solution for them.

If they are a small or mid-sized business, they should be using an organization validated certificate like a GeoTrust True BusinessID or a Symantec Secure Site Pro. If they have a shopping cart and do high volumes of transactions, then an extended validation certificate will help decrease cart abandonment and lift sales. Suggest a Symantec Secure Site Pro with EV and they can benefit from the Norton Secured Seal.

ccTLD of the Week Promotion Starts Now

Service Guy - FlagsTo celebrate the expansion of ccTLDs to the OpenSRS system, we’re putting a new ccTLD on sale every week for the rest of 2012. No rebates or sign ups required. Every OpenSRS reseller will automatically receive these discounted prices on new registrations every week from Monday to Sunday.

Fir.st up will be .ST for $20/year; normally $45.

You can follow along with the ccTLD-of-the-Week promotion by checking out this page, or following us on: Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We will be changing the ccTLD every Monday morning.

Have fun exploring ccTLDs from all around the world!

Free webinar: Tapping into Mobile Trends with goMobi

Mobile Internet usage continues to grow and your customers are likely looking to you for ways to ensure that their websites are mobile ready.

On June 14, 2012, I’ll be hosting a free webinar with Chris Campbell, Director of Business Development, Afilias (the people behind the .MOBI domain extension and our goMobi mobile website solution).

Chris will provide a state of the mobile web to ensure that you have a good sense of where things are at in 2012, as far as mobile in concerned.

We’ll also show you some of the great new features available in goMobi. Version 1.6 was released earlier this year and boasts some pretty neat new stuff like mobile commerce, improved themes and custom icon support, and more.

Like all OpenSRS webinars, it’s free to attend. We’re offering two sessions to accommodate resellers around the world. Take your pick – the content will be the same for both sessions.

Register now!

I hope to see you there!

On-Demand Webinar – Ting and OpenSRS Offers

Last week I teamed up with Scott Allan, Director at Ting, to host a webinar to talk about the addition of Ting to our OpenSRS Offers service.

For those who aren’t aware, Ting is a new mobile phone service that Tucows launched in the US earlier this year.

Through OpenSRS Offers, we’re providing our Resellers with a way to bring Ting to your customers and get a nice reward in the process. Your customers get $50 off their first device purchase, you get 25% of the net revenue that they generate as a Ting customer for the first two years.

If you missed the webinar, don’t worry. We recorded the whole thing, just like we do for all of our monthly webinars.

View the recorded version on-demand.

Over the course of the hour-long presentation, we covered how Ting works, what makes it different, and we explained Ting’s unique approach to billing and customer service. Plus we provided some tips on how to marketing Ting, what kinds of resources we offer and some guidelines about Ting trademarks.

.JOBS and .AERO domains now available

Granted, these are a pair of fairly specialized extensions, but for those who wish to offer either .JOBS or .AERO domains, you can now do it through your OpenSRS Reseller account.

Pricing is as follows:

  • .JOBS: USD$125/year
  • .AERO: USD$50/year

As you might expect, there are some additional requirements for registrants of both extensions:

  • .JOBS requires a company website to be provided along with some optional additional data that is outlined in the online help in the Control Panel. More information about .JOBS domains is available here.
  • .AERO domains are available only to members of the aviation community, incorporating airlines, airports, companies, organizations, associations, government agencies and qualified individuals. Registrants will need to provide an Aero ID & password which must be requested from the registry.

We’ve left both extensions turned off by default in the search within the Reseller Web Interface. You can turn either or both on through the “Settings” link next to the “Check Availability” button in the Domain Lookups section of the RWI.

Everything you need to know about Ting and OpenSRS Offers

A couple of weeks back we added Ting to OpenSRS Offers. It’s a pretty simple proposition: as a reseller you can generate a unique URL, use it to provide a $50 discount on a device purchase for your customers, and then get a share of the revenue generated for two years.

But there’s obviously much more to Ting, and a lot more for us to tell you about how to go about offering Ting service to your customers.

Free webinar!

Next Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 2:00pm EDT, we’re hosting a free webinar to give you a deeper dive into Ting and the opportunity for OpenSRS Resellers.

It’ll be about an hour long with some time for questions at the end. Our aim is that you’ll have a great sense of what Ting is all about, and you’ll have a really good understanding of how to offer it to your customers using OpenSRS Offers.

Presenting will be Scott Allan, Director, Ting and myself, James Koole, Communications Lead, OpenSRS. Between the two of us, we’ll make sure you have the whole story. Scott knows Ting inside and out and will show you around the Ting site and explain the disruptive approach they have taken in creating Ting. I’ll handle the OpenSRS Offers side and make sure you go away with marketing advice and assets you can use to start offering Ting service right away.

Learn more and register today

You can read more about what we’ll talk about over on the webinar page. Like all of our webinars, it’s free and open to everyone to attend. We’ll record it as well, so if you can’t make it on May 29th, sign up anyways and we’ll be sure to send you the link to the recording as soon as it’s posted.

For those who like instant gratification, you can take my word for it that it’ll be great, and go straight to the sign up page by clicking here.

Meet our Reseller: Pickaweb/Merkaweb

We’re back with another article in our popular “Meet our Reseller” series. This time around we’re featuring OpenSRS Reseller Pickaweb.co.uk. They’ve been using OpenSRS since 2002 for both their UK-based brand, Pickaweb, as well as their Spanish sister company Merkaweb.com.

The story of Pickaweb is a great one – husband and wife team Tony Messer and Pilar Torres Wahlberg literally started the company in a spare room of their home and have grown steadily since, now serving 20,000 customers in the UK and Spain.

Pickaweb’s approach is simple – take the fear out of the Internet for their customers through a commitment to great customer service combined with a willingness and passion to take the time to explain how anyone can use the web to grow their business.

It’s a great success story! We’re very proud to have Pickaweb as an OpenSRS reseller. Read the full article.

Holiday Hours for Victoria Day, May 21, 2012

It’s already the May 2-4 weekend coming up here in Canada and that means a day off for most of us on Monday, May 21 to celebrate our beloved Queen Victoria.

She was the Queen of England, Great Britain and Ireland from 1838 until she died in 1901. Why do we care so much about Queen Victoria? She was the Queen when Canada became a country in 1867. Kudos to her for letting us go our own way from the motherland. I think we’ve done pretty well for ourselves, thank you very much.

As we’ve explained in past holiday hours posts, traditionally we celebrate Victoria Day by opening up the cottage, opening up some beers, and blowing up some stuff with fireworks. O Canada!

With the wit out of the way, we’ll move on to official business:

Our Technical Support team continues to be available 24/7 to assist you throughout the holiday weekend.

Please note that during this closure, there will be:

  • No orders or requests processed for the following TLD’s: .at, .ch, .li, .dk, .com.mx
  • No special processing for .ca (registrant transfers, conflicting and municipal registrations) or .eu/.be (redemptions).

Here are the hours by department:

 

Department Dates and Hours
Technical Support Regular hours
Payments Email support: payments@opensrs.org
Compliance Closed May 21st (Monday)
Service Bureau Closed May 21st (Monday)
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