Learning Marketing from Email Spammers

A little Gem from DoshDosh:

Imagine you’re a email spammer. Your strategy is to send out thousands of unsolicited emails everyday hoping that some unassuming individual will purchase your product or inadvertently get infected by your malware/virus, so you can phish for credit card and banking details.

So here’s the situation. You’re dealing with millions of people whom you don’t know. You might not even know their age and gender, the basic demographic yardsticks. You can data mine email archives on a zombie computer to create personalized and convincing email messages but you’re always going to be dealing with a barrier of not-enough-trust.

You don’t know the audience well. So how do you increase the chance that they’ll even open up your email and clickthrough on the links within it? By treading on common ground and leading with the familiar. People might not know who you are but they know Angelina Jolie, who incidentally is the most popular celebrity name used by email spammers.

2.28% of all emails sent in July 2008 contained her name in the subject field. As a personality famous worldwide, she’s an alluring referential point spammers use to breach the walls of unsavvy targets. The familiar is powerful. That’s why you’ll see domain urls that are almost identical to official institutions or receive emails that use the addresses of people you know.

But that’s not all, spammers also love to use current events as bait. Events like political elections, conflicts between nations and major sports events like the Olympics are all fodder used to hook unassuming users into clicking on links or videos loaded with Trojan viruses.

When you want to get someone to do something, you need to arouse their interest first. You might not know every single person who reads your site, but that’s fine. Because you do know what they are generally familiar with. Use those references to bridge the gap and connect.

Every single blog post or salesletter you write can be filled with comparisons, analogies, metaphors, name-drops, references and citations that make your offer/idea more vivid. More familiar. More enticing. So focus on getting your audience interested first, because if they tune out right from the start, they’ll never absorb your pitch or give you a second chance.

Where to Get Content For Your Website

When you build your website, or when you launch an online business, a problem that you may have not anticipated becomes apparent. Where do you get content to put in your new website? We all know that good compelling content is what makes or breaks a site, right? So where can you get it?

1. Steal it
This is easy. Just Google any random topic and you will find thousands of places where you can steal from. Copy-paste and you’re done. Easy peasy. Except it does not work and is a little stupid in this day and age.

Sadly, it is worth noting that a significant number of clients who I have worked with before think this is what they need.

2. User-generated content
The idea here is that you hope people will come to your website and entertain themselves while at the same time filling your website with content. This approach has worked for many websites out there but it probably will not work for you. Sawa?

Sturgeon’s Law says that 90% of everything is garbage. This is even more true when you try to deal with user generated content.

Traditionally in Kenya, sites that depend on user generated content do not fair well at all. This is how zuqka died despite being backed by a whole lot of money. Mgangagenge expounds on this:

…UGC needs 24-hour surveillance of user behaviour to monitor usage trends, offensive content, and most of all, SPAM. Once you neglect a UGC site, it either degenerates into a flame war a la mashada, a porn site a la KenyanList/eastafricantube, or a SPAM farm a la Zuqka.

3. Mass Semi-Amateur Content
You know www.e-how.com? This is their content generation strategy of choice. Basically what you do is pay an army of underpaid freelancers to write articles for your website in mass. Learn more.

Of course the quality of content will be higher than user generated content but I personally do not feel that the difference in quality is very pronounced. I would not recommend this for your website.

Besides, Google is clamping down hard on this. Be warned.

4. Using Talented Expert Writers
In theory, this sounds really good. You can hire expert “artists” to write beautiful stuff, polishing every little bit to perfection. If you can do this consistently, your site will be known for its quality, well researched content. I would recommend this, but I feel it may be too expensive for almost everybody. I am tempted to call this the “New York Times” (NYT) approach.

Speaking of which, have you had a look at the NYT financial performance lately? If the NYT brand cannot make this method work, what makes you think it will be sustainable for your relatively small brand? Pole.

5. Scalable Content Creation
If you are going to be able to generate content that is high quality yet affordable and which advances your business goals then you will have to get creative.

A while back Ok Cupid published an article titled “How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get“. Please have a look at that article again – they received thousands of comments and no doubt many other websites talked about it.

Ok Cupid did something very smart. They used a kawaida user survey to publish an interesting, easily consumable, easily share-able piece of content. Brilliant! And you know what? Ok Cupid can do this over and over again because they already have the tools in place. All they need to do is come at it from a different angle and be the at the top of the social news sites again.

What’s the lesson here?

As a business you should strive to collect (or to be privy to) unique information. In almost every business imaginable, you can collect unique information and with just a bit of creativity whip it into amazing content for your website.

Are you a wedding planner? Whats the most comment color themes at your weddings?; Do you sell spare parts? What item breaks down the most? How can people take care of it better?; Do you sell cakes? Why not share unique recipes? What is bought most often? etc etc

The idea is that if you run any business, stuff that you do every day can be turned into simple and interesting content for your website.

If you have not yet started collection interesting data, you can start analyzing existing data. The recent Open Data movement should get you started! Keep in mind that anyone else can do this, though, so use it as a temporary solution while you build your own unique stuff.

ePay-Kenya: A Tried and Proven Way to Withdraw From PayPal in Kenya

The lack of a good and reliable way to withdraw money from PayPal in Kenya is one of the factors which hinder the average Kenyan’s potential to earn online most significantly. On Like Chapaa, we have had a long and hard struggle to try to find and identify the best way to withdraw from PayPal in Kenya. I believe that we have a contender for this title in e-Pay Kenya.

e-Pay Kenya opened its doors in January 2009 as e-pesa then rebranded in 2010 to ePAY-KENYA. Esther Kimani of e-Pay Kenya reached out to us to provide more information on what e-Pay does. This article is based on her information to us, and on good reports their customers.

e-Pay Kenya offers two ways to withdraw your hard-earned money:

1. Moneybookers
“We have an Merchant Agreement with Moneybookers allowing us to officially run a Money transfer website using their services. This explains why the moneybookers fee is lower (11%) than Paypal. We therefore do not operate under any fear of account limitation as we operate with blessings from Moneybookers. We deliver within the hour but often less,” says Esther Kimani of e-Pay Kenya.

2. Paypal
Esther continues, “We use a third-party gateway to avoid the direct interface with Paypal because we have experienced the danger of doing so (when we operated as e-pesa). This explains why the transaction charges are higher (14%) than Moneybookers but then our users enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Peace of mind when dealing with us as there is no possibility of our users’ accounts being limited by PayPal
  2. Our third-party gateway does fraud tests on our behalf to minimize fraudulent transactions.
  3. We have a strict KYC (Know Your Customer) policy. All our users have to send Identification Documents in order to have their accounts verified, thus allowing them to make transactions.
  4. We demand that users forward their Paypal Transaction Confirmation emails before they can cash their money. We use this document to authenticate the bona fide account holders. We have caught up with fraudsters who hack into unsuspecting paypal account holders’ accounts.
  5. Delivery within 24 hours but often less.”

The bulk of the fees are charged when you deposit money from Moneybookers/PayPal into e-Pay Kenya. Their charges at this time are as follows:


  • Deposit 11%
  • Withdrawal USD 3 irrespective of the amount


  • Deposit 14%
  • Withdraw USD 3 irrespective of the amount

It seems to me that e-Pay Kenya has a very well thought-out service. It is the best of all such businesses that I have come across so far. It is a bit pricey, but as we wait for PayPal to open itself up, e-Pay Kenya remains a good and reliable alternative.

What do you think of e-Pay Kenya?

As far as I know, the REAL e-Pay Kenya is at: www.epay-kenya.com

NOT: www.epaykenya.com

Learn to Code

In case you have not realised it yet, computer programming skills are as necessary for success today as reading and writing have been for the past few centuries.

In fact, “You’re a second-class citizen if you don’t know how to read and write today, and in twenty or thirty years the same will be true for people who don’t have basic computer programming skills. Those who don’t understand–at the very least–the concepts of order-of-execution, variables, data structures and recursion will be as socially and economically disadvantaged as the illiterate are now.

There was a time when literacy and basic arithmetic were skills reserved only to intellectuals and monks. Today our monks are programmers who know how to wield magic and illuminate scrolls of code. If you don’t understand what an array is today, or how to loop over it, then you’d better learn or you’ll be screwed tomorrow. The reasons unfold below.” – The Future of IT (click to read more)

Do you know the basics of programming? Are you ‘literate‘?

In case you want to learn the basics of computer programming, then you are in luck. Renown Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun is going to be running a free online course that promises to teach you the basics of computer programming in just seven weeks.

The course is:

Learn programming in seven weeks. We’ll teach you enough about computer science that you can build a web search engine like Google or Yahoo!

You can sign up for free here: www.udacity.com

TrINC Money : MPESA-PayPal Service [Updated]

I was a bit hesitant to write about this new service after the rise and fall of PayMPESA, but here goes:

Trinc Money seems to be a new service that allows you to transfer money to and from PayPal via MPESA. yes, this means that it lets you both withdraw and deposit money into PayPal using MPESA. Sounds good, eh?

Apart from the usual PayPal and MPESA fees, Trinc Money charges what seems to be a used to charge a standard flat Kshs 1000 transaction fee. Depending on how much you send, this can work out to be extremely cheap. But is it sustainable?

They have since updated their fees to 6.9% + KES.250

I worry about this service. Does it have the required blessing from PayPal? As far as I know, PayPal does not allow this kind of money transfer service. If your remember correctly, other services got around this issue by packaging themselves as selling “vouchers” which could be redeemed for money. This seems not to be the case with Trinc Money.

Additionally, PayPal is rumored to be very very close to launching fully in Kenya. Would this not outright kill TrincMoney?

I have reached out to Trinc Money for comment on both of the above.

I am sorry if I feel overly critical of TrINC Money, I am just being prudent. I am aware that PayPal frowns upon this kind of “money transfer” business working through PayPal and I would not want the readers of Like Chapaa to suffer any loss as a result of reading this article.

So, dear readers, what do you think of this? Has anyone tried to use Trinc Money?

Response from TrINC Money:

Trincmoney is neither a money transfer service nor a currency exchange service. What we do provide is a platform for registered PayPal users to send electronic PayPal value to the Trincmoney PayPal account. These funds are not withdrawn and are valid PayPal transactions initiated by registered PayPal users.

Upon a customer’s request, our service sends our customers electronic monetary value depicted in ones M-PESA Account representing an equal amount of Cash held by the MPESA Holding Company Limited and which may be redeemed through an M-PESA Agent for an equal amount of legal tender in the Republic of Kenya, to their MPESA registered mobile numbers. Note that MPESA electronic value is NOT legal tender.

With regard to money laundering, Trincmoney carries out the required due diligence on customers who send us money and who receive money from us.

If PayPal were to open up shop on Kenya it would be a blessing to a lot of people who use the Internet to send and receive money. Trincmoney will survive simply because a PayPal withdrawal takes 4 working days to effect while our service is effected within the hour. Also chances are that the charges will be higher.

I hope I have answered your queries. I have also read your blog on our service. Please note that we changed our rates and are now charging 6.9% + KES.250. Check out our Facebook Page and Twitter handle and sample some of our customer reviews.

Strategic SEO

We all want our names, companies and products to come up when you search for them on Google, right? This is what SEO.; Search Engine Optimization – the art and science of making sure you are found when people search on Google and other search engines.

I get clients asking me for this everyday. The problem is, of course, no one knows how this works. A while back an angry client was up in arms for making their brand seem “cheap”. They could not understand why their brand did not come up when you searched for certain words on Google. (In fact, they went on to call Google Kenya so as to make a complaint). But I digress…

How do you make you site pop up first in the search engine results pages? You can click here to read a detailed answer. Basically, what you need to do is to prove to Google that your website is relevant to the topic being searched and important relative to other websites.

If you company is ABC Ltd and your main competitor is XYZ Ltd, it is fair to assume that you’d both get pretty good websites. After a (hopefully short) while you would both realise that it is important to be found on Google and you would start investigating this. The first thing you’ll likely come across is that you have to optimize your websites. This is sometimes called “on page” SEO. Everyone does it perfectly (or they should!).

Going back to our example, the CEOs of XYZ and ABC would both ensure that their on page SEO is done perfectly if they are reasonably good as CEOs. What next? How does one get an advantage over the other as far as SEO goes? If you ask me, gains from on page SEO are marginal because everyone does it well. The important part of SEO is what you do after you have optimized your website.

Invariably, the other part of SEO can be boiled down to one thing: making sure that as many other websites as possible point a link to your own website. This works this way: when example.com publishes a link to your company’s website, it is taken to mean that example.com is voting for your site’s importance. The more such links you can get, the better!

The problem is that getting these links is expensive and/or time-consuming.

So how do you do this in a scalable way?

Subscribe to Like Chapaa today, or sign up to receive free email updates so that you are notified as soon as we publish part 2 of this article.

The Most Popular Browser & Operating System in Kenya

This post is based on statistics of visitors to www.likechapaaa.com of the period January 2011 to January 2012. The data represents the operating systems and browsers used by the people who visited Like Chapaa in the year 2011. Here’s a nice little graph for you:

Like Chapaa 2011 Website Statistics

Like Chapaa 2011 Website Statistics (click for larger image)

PC Operating systems
Of course it is no surprise that Windows is far and away the most popular operating system in Kenya. But it was VERY surprising to me that there seems to be more Mac users than there are Linux users. Does this seem strange to you?

  1. Windows – 74.31%
  2. Macintosh – 3.88%
  3. Linux – 1.76%

I haven’t taken mobile into account above, see blow.

Mobile Operating systems
As you can see in the graphs, the leading mobile operating system is “not set”. I will assume that this can be attributed to the “kawa” phones such as your Nokias, Samsungs and whatnot – i.e. “feature phones”. These feature phones contribute a whopping 11.46% of the visitors to Like Chapaa.

It is interesting to note that the Android operating system is at a respectable 2.71%

  1. Feature phones – 11.46%
  2. Android – 2.71%

According to this data set, the most popular mobile operating system in Kenya:

  1. Symbian OS
  2. Unknown
  3. Android
  4. Samsung
  5. Sony Ericsson
  6. iOS
  7. Blackberry
  8. Windows mobile

Most Popular Browser
Firefox is the most popular browser with Internet Explorer coming in second and Google Chrome third. Interestingly, the lead that Firefox has is huge, being more than double its nearest competitor. Another interesting thing is that Google Chrome is almost at par with Internet explorer.

To be honest, these stats are very much unexpected. Globally, the most popular browser by a huge margin is Internet explorer. Perhaps this means that visitors to Like Chapaa are more ‘sophisticated’ when compared to the average Internet user.

  1. Firefox – 40.68%
  2. Internet Explorer – 17.20%
  3. Chrome – 16.28%
  4. Safari – 2.70%
  5. Opera – 1.91%

Mobile Vs Desktop
It is interesting to note that Mobile visits were at 14.17% only. I’m sure we have all heard that “mobile is the future of Africa”. I agree with that statement to some extent, but the data just does not seem to back it up, does it?

Like Chapaa is an “information/”news” type of website and I attribute the relatively high number of mobile visitors to this fact. I would argue that if you look at the visitor stats of a normal company website, you would get much fewer numbers of mobile visitors.

What does this mean? I am not sure, but, to me, clearly personal computers are still the dominant Internet device among Kenyans. Further to this, if you are building your company website do not put a significant amount of resources into developing a “mobile” version (unless you can afford it).

What do you think of all this?