eMail Tracking Explained

I received an email this week asking how phpList was able to track when some one opened an email. I thought it was a good question to cover the answer here.

When we use mail list software like phpList, ListWire, Aweber, MailChimp or others, there is a ‘tracking’ feature. This tracking is different than your office email’s Read Receipt. Read Receipts are little email like messages that are sent from your readers computer back to your email. It works in a office, but not so well out on the internet.

The tracking feature of most mail list systems use a small html image embedded in the email message. When your subscriber reads the email, their email software does a html request back to the mail list server to display the small graphic image. Usually this image is a small 1 pixel white square that the reader will not notice. The html code in your email message has codes that let the mail list server know what message it came from. the mail list server then records the message as read.

The html graphic works very well, but now may email clients block images for your emails. You have probably seen the message asking you to load graphics on emails before. When you answer no or don’t load images, the mail list software will not be able to mark the message as read.


For more information and examples, check out this YouTube video on How eMail Tracking Works.





Mail List Software Revisited

The past few months, I have tested AWeber, ListWire, and phpList for my mailing list services.  Now, I’m ready to document why I made the switch.

phpList Mailing List Software

phpList is a  free, open source mailing list software you install on your own server. ( see phpList postings for more info) phpList is great for tech savvy users and has the advantage that you are in full control. You can import users and not have to force them to confirm their subscription, which is great if they confirmed elsewhere.  Unfortunately, phpList is missing an important feature for Internet Marketers, auto-responders. You can’t set up a series of email to be sent to each new subscriber. phpList is also missing support and isn’t seeing much new development.

I used phpList as my mail list server for a year, but decided because of the lack of auto-responders and new development, I need to look at other mail-list services.

AWeber Mailing

As part of a training class I was doing this spring, I subscribed to AWeber’s mailing list service. Aweber is very easy to use, well supported and has the auto-responder feature. AWeber integrates into WordPress very well with their subscription forms plugin. AWeber has extensive training that follows you thought the process of setting up your subscribers and mailings. However, importing is difficult with Aweber. To import a list you have to submit the list, give a explanation of where you got the list, wait for a Aweber employee to review the list and then go through the confirmation process.  Aweber also costs money, $20 a month.

ListWire Mail Server

Another mail list service I tried this spring is ListWire. ListWire is a full featured mailing list service with subscription forms, WordPress integration and auto-responders. ListWire training is thin, but has a strong user community that provides good support. (including a great user manual and new video training). ListWire does not support subscription list imports. You need to send your old mail list a subscription request email from your normal email account. But the major plus, ListWire is free.  The downside to free, is that your subscriber will see a “offer” from the site a the end the confirmation process.


So after testing these  mail list services, I have decided to go with ListWire. I don’t have a large mailing list and  mailing list are not a large part on my Internet Marketing strategy, so free is better and I don’t mind the presentation of a offer during the confirmation process.

List Wire - Get Your Free Autoresponder

However, if mailing lists are an important piece of your strategy and having a very positive online image is important, I would suggest going with AWeber.


As for phpList? Only if you love to tinker and don’t need a auto-responder feature.




WordPress SEO plugin free training

If you are using the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, as I recommended a few months ago, you may have seen that the latest version added a new page analysis feature – Linkdex. Linkdex is a tool Yoast uses for SEO and has come to love,

This friday, Matt Roberts of Linkdex and Yoast will do a free webinar on how to use the new functionality in the WordPress SEO plugin and answer all your questions .

When: Friday May 13, at 11:00 AM, PDT

Cost: Free

Registration: Required (limited space available)

Register now through this link:

Hope you can join me on Friday!


XP Mode Audio Issues – Solved

Windows 7’s XP Mode or Virtual PC can have issues with video and sound playback.

I recently got a new laptop for work running Windows 7. I like to run virtual machines on my laptop so that I can install software that’s required for my projects without messing up my main windows installation. Those vm images are also easy to back up and move around.

VMware Player worked well, but would not see my USB camera and microphones.  It also used fixed disk sizes. So, I tried Win 7’s XP Mode vm and found it easier to use.

XP Mode allows auto disk sizing and supports all the USB devices I could throw at it. However, I noticed videos would have  the sound delayed or echoed. After a some research and some experiments, I found the trick to making videos play correctly.

Turn off Audio Integration.

Yep, turn it off. If you were like me, you assumed you need Audio Integration to get the sound from the virtual machine. Not true, Audio Integration created a ‘soft’ or virtual version of your sound device instead of using your full sound card. Turning it off allows XP Mode to talk directly with your sound card.


From the Windows Virtual Mode help file:

Audio. This setting controls whether audio input and output for the virtual machine is redirected to audio devices in the host, or is managed by an emulated audio device. To improve audio performance, clear the check box for a virtual machine running Windows XP, and select the check box for a virtual machine running Windows Vista or Windows 7.


See that? Uncheck the box for audio to improve performance on XP virtual machines.  I now can play videos inside my virtual machines. I still see some lag issues if my main PC is doing some work, but otherwise works great.

Integration Settings

Note: XP Mode is part of Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate versions, Virtual PC 2007 is available for other versions of windows.



phpList – Friend or Foe?

I love using phpList. It works well and it’s free. But the more I use it, the more issues I discover.
The main issue for Internet Marketers is that phpList does not support auto-responder emails. Automated emails timed to send out X number of days after a new subscription.

And if you saw my email yesterday, you saw the result of a new complaint. If you forget to save your message edits, phpList prompts you with a reminder to save. The default is to lose the changes and not save. Very easy to lose your last edits.  So instead of sending the last version of my email, it sent the first saved version. One with typos. Very embarrassing.

I have already started evaluating replacements for phpList. I’m testing Adweber and Listwire. I’ll post my findings later once I finish the tests.

But meanwhile… What email list software are you using?


Broken WordPress “Incoming Links” not showing backlinks

I received a email yesterday asking why the “Incoming Links” section of the WordPress dashboard is empty even after creating several back-links to his site. After some quick research I found the sad truth.

The WordPress “Incoming Links” area is broken and has been for about a year. It was supposed to go out to Google and search for your back links. I can go to Google and do the same search and get results, but the code inside WordPress just doesn’t work. I saw some comments that this as been broken since version 2.7, but the developer team just hasn’t addressed it. My recommendation? Use Screen Options in the upper right corner to turn it off.

You can find your backlinks by using on Google. For example, to find links pointing to my main site, I would use I see 769 listings for that way.

In Market Samurai, the Rank Tracker filters the back links to show only links for that specific URL. This section also uses Yahoo’s Site Explorer instead of Google. Inside Market Samurai, click on Show Domain Details to see back link counts from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Google’s Webmaster Tools also shows your links. But I get a different count here (245) than in Google’s main search engine.

So, we have lots of tools to show out back links and they are all showing different data. So what would the trust? Most SEO experts recommend Yahoo Site Explorer. But the key is to pick one and watch how it grows over time.

But the real question is how to do better in Google’s index. Backlinks help, but make sure your pages are optimized for SEO. I”m now using the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin to do this easily for me. Read his great article on The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For Your Blog


Multipress Lite fOpen Error

The guys over at TwoEnough have a autobloging tool called Mutlipress. It creates and manages a mutli-site wordpress blog with auto content generation. Great tool – I’ve used it on one of my sites. Right now, it’s on sale for 70% off – Visit thier site and enter the code JHH7KL644GHLFSS for the discount.

But – they have a free version of the content tool that will automaticaly populate your wordpress blog – Mutlipress Lite

However, the current free version has two issues  in the install.

  1. You have to manualy install the plugin with FTP (can’t upload in the New Plugins)
  2. Once activated, you get an fOpen file not found error.

To fix both these issues, do the following:

  1. Get the free plugin – Mutlipress Lite
  2. Rename the download to
  3. Unzip the file to your computer
  4. Go into m-p folder then into the mutlipress-content folder
  5. Rename multipress-content.php to multipress-content-full.php
  6. Go up one folder level
  7. Zip the mutlipress-content folder (not the m-p folder.)
  8. Go to your WordPress Plugins and Add New
  9. Use Upload and select the file
  10. Activate and configure.

If this gives you heartache, let me know and I’ll email you a fixed zip file  for version 1.2.8

And to help others searching for the error message find this solution, here’s the error message you will see if you don’t rename the one php file:

Warning: fopen(/*****/*****/*****/****/wp-content/plugins/multipress-content/core/../multipress-content-full.php) [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /****/****/****/*****/wp-includes/functions.php on line 4165



Lesson Learned

Thanks to a little Internet Angel, I discovered that in all my testing of phpList on my production server had caused my “Subscribe” box on the left to break.

First – anyone that subscribed and did not get a confirmation email, please resubscribe.

Second – lesson learned – don’t play with your production server and if you do, reverify EVERYTHING. 🙁


phpList – Templates and Messages

Just in time for the New Year!

I’ve completed the phpList videos with creating templates and sending messages. That’s why you created a phpList server – to send messages!

Part one covers creating a HTML template for your messages and adding user tracking to see how many of your emails are read.

Part two covers creating messages using your template and scheduling messages for delayed sending.

This completes the planned phpList video, unless you have a topic you want me to cover. Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll help you solve your Internet questions.