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Update News for July 2010    


Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:

These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.


Health Analyzer For Web Quotes

Compulife has completed work on the Health Analyzer option for those purchasing our $99 web quote option. The Analyzer is an $80 per year add-on option. Those who purchase the $995 engine can have that upgrade for free, and if they implement the feature in sites that they provide to other agents, that is also free.

IMPORTANT: If you use the $995 web version, and you are setting up sites for other agents, those agents must be subscribers to the PC version of Compulife - NO EXCEPTIONS. If we discover you are setting up web quotes for agents who are not subscribers to the PC version of Compulife, we will terminate our service to you.

For our $99 web quote subscribers, the new health analyzer option is available in two ways. First, the full health analyzer can be used after the site visitor runs a simple quote, as they do now. The quote results will then include a health analyzer button on the top of the page. If the visitor clicks that, they can then answer the full spectrum of health questions.

The second option is a mini-health analysis which lets you add health questions to the client entry page. The questions are currently limited to height/weight, BP and cholesterol and the questions are phrased in such a way, that ALL consumers will know the answers easily.

You can see how either option works by visiting:

www.termsample.ca

and selecting the appropriate options from the screen.

Either option is available to you for the $80 per year additional fee.

The options are NOT available in combination with the 4 month free trial of the quote system. If you want the option during the 4 months, you will need to pay the $80 which is non-refundable. The reason is that the setup of this option is more complex and difficult than issuing the basic web version.

Adjustments to pro-rate fees will be made at the end of the 4 months, assuming that you continue with the web option.


Insurance Squared Offer

A number of subscribers who have the internet option have expressed a desire to have a web site visitor register themselves before doing quotes. What we mean by this is that they want the visitor to enter their name, phone number and email address before being able to run a quote. Then, when the visitor clicks the compare now button, an email goes to the agent with the information about the web visitor. The default client entry page that we provide does not have this ability but a number of clients have asked for the option.

If you want the consumer to register first, then you will need to take the client entry page that we provide and modify it to add items such as name, email address and phone number. You will then have to set up a function in the software (most use php code) to have that information emailed to you when the visitor clicks the "compare now" button.

A number of agents complain that they don't know how to do that and don't want to hire a third party web programmer to set it up. In response to the demand, Insurance Squared has made a great offer that we would like to like to direct your attention to.

Insurance Squared will modify your page for you, for FREE, in exchange for a link to their web site. Here's a sample of what they have come up with, so that you can give it a try:

http://www.insurancesquared.com/emailquotes.html

Here's what Insurance Squared had to say about this in their recent newsletter:

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have added the bold. U.S. subscribers are likely to have no problem providing a link to the Canadian site. The link may prove problematic for Canadian subscribers and for that reason may want your OWN variation on what Insurance Squared is offering.

Alternately, you can hire someone to set up a similar thing for your website.

There are two reasons why Compulife does not offer this option.

First, we do not want our email server bombarded with requirements to send emails everytime someone runs a quote with your system. We don't mind that information being processed through our server, when your visitor use the "Request Application" button, but that will be a much smaller percentage of your total visitors.

Second, we think the requirement to put in personal information like name, phone number and email address is a bad strategy. We believe that this will discourage people from running quotes from your site, and it will cause many visitors to either close the browser or hit the back button.

The rub for agents is that they don't like the idea that someone comes to their site, gets a free quote, and then doesn't buy insurance from them. Worse, they really don't like the idea someone visited their site, got useful information, and then turned around and bought the insurance from someone else.

Welcome to the retail world.

Have you ever wondered why stores have store front window displays? Aren't they worried that someone might go by the window, see something that they really like, then go to another store and buy it?

So why those store window displays? It's to let people who do walk by the store see what the store has to offer, and at what prices. Why? Because some of those people who walk by, will see something that they like then come on in and buy it from the store. And some of those people may not have even been thinking about that item until they walked by that window.

Your web site is no different than a retail window.

And Compulife knows how you feel. Our own public web site term4sale.com gets about 1,000 visitors per day during the week. Visits on the weekend drop off. Why? Because most of the visitors during the week are agents and others in the industry getting a free ride doing free quotes. They use those quotes to make sale and we generate no revenue for the software used to get the quote.

Does it make us mad when these agents benefit from our hard work without paying? It doesn't make us happy but a certain number of those agents eventually do buy, once they get hooked on doing multi-company quote/comparisons, and realize it would be nice if they had more capability.

Here's an example of how that works. During June we put the new engine on our server and it had a bug with multiple category comparisons. An agent called me to ask what was wrong. He told me that he uses the site all the time to do quotes. I asked if he subscribed to the PC version. He did not. (I sent him a trial).

But there is another benefit from all those visitors. They add to our site traffic, you know, the number of people who visit the site. When search engines consider the importance of a site one of the things they count as important is traffic to the site. If you do google searches of the terms "term insurance" or "life insurance comparisons", you will find term4sale.com ranking very high. Why, because we have traffic. And if you want your site to rank, you need traffic too.

So, if you use our approach, the number of people you will get names for will be much less, but they will be the people who really want life insurance because they pushed the "Request Application" button.


Virus/Firewall Programs We Hate

There are two virus software programs in use in the market that give false reports of viruses if you attempt to run the installation software of Compulife.

Those virus programs are:

Trend Micro has been a pain-in-the-butt problem for years. Norton has recently become a real problem.

Both products are using short-cut logic to assume that there "might" be a virus despite whether or not a virus actually exists. This is sloppy, lazy, and creates a lot of work for both Compulife and users of those virus programs.

In the case of Trend Micro we have a work around but that requires the subscriber to call in for technical support. Depending upon the skills of the user, that can be fixed quickly or it can drag out. This is annoying for the subscriber and it is annoying for us. Therefore, whatever you do DO NOT BUY TREND MICRO - it's garbage. We have spoken to the company on more than one occasion, but they have no interest in fixing the problem.

We run into Trend Micro a fair bit because Northwestern Mutual uses it for all their agents computers. So if you are with Northwestern Mutual, and using one of their computers, you will need to call Compulife when doing an initial installation on a new computer.

Norton is a less frequent problem but we run into it because it is often put on people's new computers for FREE, and it isn't worth that. The problem is that the newest version of Norton is SO BAD, we even have trouble with our usual work around solutions. We can get in a real jam if the computer user is unable to do certain basic functions.

The best solution is DO NOT USE either Trend Micro or Norton virus software.

Of course this begs the question, what would you recommend. Here at Compulife we are currently using PC Tools. We say "currently" because what we use has changed over the years. For a long time we used MacAfee, but then switched to Zone Alarm when MacAfee was causing problems. Zone Alarm worked quite well for a long time but then we noticed it was really slowing our computers down. Research at that time turned up PC Tools as highly rated and well liked by many. We have been using it for over 2 years and it has performed very well.

Whatever you do, do not remove Norton or Trend Micro until you are ready to install an alternative.

Here is a link to a coupon which will get you 20% off of PC Tools Spyware software with the anti-virus option:

PC Tool Spyware With Anti-Virus - 20% Off


Be Careful Signing Up For GoDaddy

In past bulletins we have suggested that those looking for web sites can do so for a very reasonable price with GoDaddy. We have advised web sites should cost no more than about $50 per year.

Having recommended GoDaddy, we need to issue a strong word of caution. GoDaddy will do everything possible to "upsell" you to features and benefits you do not need. If you do not say no, and they get their hands on your money, you are screwed - they will not refund a dime.

One of our subcribers, who happens to be 75 years of age, went to GoDaddy at our advice, and they sold him a 5 year subscription for his domain name. He had no clue what was going on. After reporting to me that it cost him over $100 for his web site, I contacted the company to find out what happened. That's when I learned about the 5 year domain name registration.

Not only does a 75 year old not need to be buying domain names 5 years in advance, there are a lot of people who would suggest that green bananas are a bad investment.

Anyway, my call to GoDaddy was to no avail. An email to the company president, which the "supervisor" of the company suggested, went completely unanswered. Here is what I wrote:

As I said, no response. So if you use these guys, BUYER BEWARE. Overall, I still think they offer a good service, but they will take more of your money than necessary if you are dumb enough to give it to them.


Tips For a Better Technical Support Experience

Most technical support calls go well. Others can be unpleasant particularly if you are talking to Compulife president Bob Barney. In fairness to Bob (that's me), I have been doing this for 29 years and my patience is not what it used to be. Even Jeremiah (who has the patience of Job), will eventually wear thin if you don't keep a few things in mind when you call.

First, remember why you are calling us. We are experts about Compulife and we know how it works and interacts with your computer. We are not looking for suggestions or advice on how to solve your technical problem, so please refrain from offering them. What we need from you is a clear description of the problem.

Nothing toast my bread quite like the user who cross examines every thing I ask them to do. This drags out the call and means it will take longer to get your problem solved than if you simply did what we ask you to do. The longer the call, the more likely either party will get frustrated. At the end of the day our goal is to get your problem solved quickly. Once it is solved, you will be happy and so will we.

Second, we do not do have a forensics department. I am sure it is frustrating for you that our program did something earlier, but if you can't make it do it again, we can't explain what went wrong. These calls go like this, "I ran a quote yesterday and it gave me one number, but today it's a different number." I then ask, "Do you have a printout from the quote yesterday? The response, "No I don't. What's happened?"

How the heck am I supposed to know what happened? Maybe you quoted a female instead of a male. Maybe you quoted a smoker instead of a non-smoker. Maybe you quoted 20 year instead of 30 year. If you have a record of the problem, then we can help. If not, we are guessing just like you are guessing.

On the other hand, if you have a problem and you can find a way to make the problem happen everytime, THAT IS VALUABLE INFORMATION and we need to hear about it. If there really is a problem, whether it is ONLY on your machine, or a general problem in the software, we are anxious to get to the bottom of it. We really want you to be happy with out software.

Third, you are likely not the first person with the problem you are experiencing. In a lot of cases we don't have to hear a long sordid story to understand what is going wrong. Keep it short and simple, and we'll get it fixed more quickly.

Fourth, if Bob seems brief on the phone, do not infer that it is because he is unhappy with you. There is a strong possibility he is trying to wind up the call because there is other work to do or other calls to handle.

Apart from those thoughts, here is an article about how users can make technical support calls go better:

How to Talk to Tech Support

And one other point. Checking for voice mail messages is a pain in the butt, and we don't respond to that as quickly as an email. If you get our voice mail system when you call, hang up and send an email to:

service@compulife.com

Those emails go to both Jeremiah and Bob and one or the other will get back to your as quickly as we can.


Internet Engine Updates

We are now shipping the new Internet Engine to those who subscribe to the $995 per year version. If you have that engine, and have not yet obtained it, contact us at:

service@compulife.com


Get Web Quotes for FREE for 4 Months

If you are a current subscriber to Compulife, and have never before had our web quotes on your web site, you can have the option for 4 months for FREE - with no obligation to purchase the service at the end of 4 months. This is a standing offer.

To date over 300 Compulife subscribers have acted on this offer and have added our quote system to their web sites.

To obtain your 4 months of free quotes for your web site, complete the application here:

Application for Web Quotes

But what do you do if you don't have a web site?


You Don't Have a Website?

We are routinely getting calls from subscribers who ask for our advice about setting up a web site. That is no surprise really, given that we can now add life insurance quotes to a web site for only $99 per year and that's a hot ticket for a life insurance web site.

The conversation usually begins, "I've been thinking about getting a web site but I don't know where to begin." So here is the advice that we have been giving:

First, godaddy.com is just to good not to use. These folks can help you get your domain name and set up a site, and the first year cost (for their economy package which is way more than you need to start), is $50.

While godaddy is not the only provider out there, we use them as one of our providers (we have several) and I have to say with some satisfaction, that they have done as good a job as any of the other providers that we use.

So here is the first thing that you do. You go to www.godaddy.com and start searching for an available domain name. It's the box at the top of their home page called: "Start You Domain Search Here..."

Obviously, if your company is called "Compulife", then you will want compulife.com. Sorry, that's taken, we have that.

If you call yourself "Barney Insurance Agency", then the first thing to check would be "barneyinsurance.com". Ooops, that one is already taken. So the next you would try is "barneyagency.com". Hooray, that one is available. Register it immediately before someone else gets it. I wish I knew all this 10 years ago.

Now normally if all you are doing is registering the domain name, godaddy is going to charge you $10.69 per year. But if you do it and order a hosting package from godaddy at the same time, they will cut the price to $1.99 per year. I recommend the 1 year hosting plan, which will cost you $3.99 per month - which is $47.88 per year. Add $1.99 and your web site with domain name is $50 for the year.

OK, so buy that and you don't need to buy any of the vast sea of options that godaddy will try to sell you as you move through the purchase process.

So now, in real estate terms, you have just purchased a vacant lot which has a street address. Now the question is, what kind of building(s) will you put on your piece of internet land?

Here's something you can do right away - and I'll take care of it for you. If you send me the FTP information for your new site, I will put up one of these for you, for free for 4 months:

No cost, no obligation. There, you now have a site and you now have a quote system on your site.

Do you want more on your site? Sure you do. You will want pages that tell people who you are, what you do and sell, and how to contact you. The best way to get pages created for your site is to go to your local college/university and ask for a 2nd or 3rd year student who knows how to construct web pages, and hire them for dirt cheap. I know students (graduates) who worked for free just to have something for their resume.

Keep it simple to start. Your web site is an expanded business card. It tells people about you. Instead of packing all that on your card, you put on your card:

NOTE: That is actually a web site offering "FREE" web sites. I would recommend against doing that because nobody does anything for nothing. The godaddy package is CHEAP and there are no strings attached.

And now your email address will be firstname@mywebsite.com
instead of
myfirstnameandlastname6829@hotmail.com

Email addresses @hotmail.com and @gmail.com strike me as "kinda unprofessional". It sends the message to you colleagues and clients, "Yep, I am a computer newbee and do not have a web site."

Once again, after you order your site, you can email me your FTP information and Jeremiah or I will put a quote system on your site FREE for 4 months. To FTP to you site we need the following:

Once again, here is a sample of the free quote system we will put on your new site for 4 months:

Email us your FTP information at service@compulife.com

We will then email you a link to the control panel for your quoting site. The control panel will allow you to choose which companies to quote, and to enter which email address requests for applications go to (they won't be going to us - they go to you).


What Is An FTP?

Some people may be concerned with sharing their FTP information with us for their website. It's tantamount to you giving us your email address and password and so you shouldn't give the information to just anyone. But we promise to ONLY use it to load your quoting web page to your web site. But if you are concerned, here are some instructions on how you can do it yourself, FREE - NO CHARGE!

When you set up a website with a company like godaddy (IP - Internet Provider), what you are doing is buying space on one of their computers (called a server) that is connected to the web.

Usually you develop pages, which are really just text documents, on your computer (or your developer's computer). When the pages are ready to try out you transfer (copy) them to your server using a program called an FTP (file transfer program).

When you run the FTP, having entered in the address, userID and password to make the connection to the server (godaddy), your computer's folders and files will appear in the left window of your FTP, and the internet computer (server) will appear in the right window. You then just copy from the left window to the right window, and the files go to your server. It's no different than copying files from one folder of your computer to another drive or folder on your computer.

Here's a good video with more information on that:

YouTube - Core FTP

The next logical question is, how to I design a web page?

Once again, web pages are just text documents with instructions built into them that tell the browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, whatever) what to display and how to display it. Pages can be simple or they can be very complicated. Guess what, we like simple.

Now if you were going to design a magazine ad, would you do it yourself or would you hire someone who knows how to do it? Likely the latter. That's why, I strongly recommend going to your local college or university and hiring a 2nd or 3rd year student to do the work for you. They are enthusiastic, need the money, and typically are very creative. But if you are one of those people that love to change their own brakes, here is a basic introductory to web page design:

YouTube- HTML Tutorial 1 - Designing A Website In Notepad - Basics and Beginnings

Good luck with that.

Assuming that you have someone else design your web pages it is still a VERY GOOD IDEA to learn how to use the FTP. Why? Because you will want to back up the pages from your web site (the files on the server) to your own computer. You do that by copying the files from your server, to your computer, using the FTP. Let your developer develop, but make sure you back up what you pay him to do, from the server to your computer.

Here's another tip. Make sure EVERYTHING your developer is using for your website, is on your website, and not somewhere else. If your developer has something on their server, and you and the developer part company, then what you used on their server will be gone, which is going to really tick you off if you thought you had bought and paid for it.

Which brings up one last thing when retaining someone to design your website. You want to make absolutely certain that it is your mutual understanding that if you pay someone to design a web page for you, that it is YOUR webpage and not their webpage.

Think wedding photography.

Have you noticed a lot of people pay wedding photographers to photograph weddings, and then discover the photographer OWNS the negatives, meaning that if you want more copies of pictures, you have to pay the photographer an arm and a leg to get them. And you find out you are breaking copyright laws if you copy the pictures you already bought.

Believe it or not, when you hire a college student to do your web site pages, you will have no trouble reaching an agreement that the pages are YOUR pages. But if you pay some outfit hundreds or thousands of dollars to do your site, they will often argue that the pages belong to them. If you leave the relationship, you will have to start from scratch.

Don't have a domain name yet? We have a great list of available domain names that are pre-registered and ready to go. Read on!


Quote Sites and Domains For Sale

Three months ago we told you about the slate of domain names that we pre-registered, and that we are offering for sale to our subscribers. A number of the best one's have been picked through and purchased.

The new price is $99 $79 $69 - down $10 from last month. Will we drop the price again? Yes, we suspect that by the beginning of June the price for the remaining domain names will drop again. We will probably cut the price dramatically by the summer and by Christmas will be practically giving them away. The point is that we will keep dropping prices until our current inventory is sold out.

The problem is that if you wait you may lose a great domain name to someone else. More than one of the sold domain names were requested by another subscriber after they had just been sold to another subscriber who beat the second person to the punch. You snooze, you lose.

And if the latest price cut doesn't suit you, and instead of waiting around for another domain name price drop, feel free to MAKE US AN OFFER on any remaining domain name(s) that you want. If it is a reasonable offer we are likely to take it.

For more information about the domain names that we have for sale, and the web sites that are ready to go, click on:

www.compulife.com/domain


On-Line PDA Software

We are yet AGAIN delayed on this project, do to the monthly premium change that we are making for no lapse UL products. Our apologies for this taking so long, and hope you understand we are trying to devote out attention to the issues most needed.

The system we are building to track PDA use of our new online PDA service is more involved and has taken longer than we originally anticipated. Such is life in the software business when you are breaking new ground.

For that reason we have taken a baby step forward and implemented the "look and feel" of the new service at:

www.term4sale.com/blackberry

Once the new online PDA service is available, where you will be able to select the companies you want to quote, an enrollment form will replace the quoting service at:

term4sale.com/blackberry

Once you completed the enrollment form, a personalized version will be created for you and you will have your own Administration Panel that lets you include only those companies that you want to quote. Those of you who are now trying Compulife's new web quotes for your web site will have already seen the new administration panel. The one for the PDA version of the software is exactly the same.

Unlike the new web quoting option that you can buy for $99 per year, the new PDA quoting service that we are rolling out will be FREE but it will be for your personal use only. Your web address, for your PDA online quote system, must be kept confidential and it must not be used by others or made available on your web site. That's why we are implementing features to track who is using your PDA quote system. Remember, this is the FREE version for YOUR PDA only. We will be able to monitor the specific PDA's visiting your PDA quote site, and if more than the allocated number are doing so, the software will notify Compulife and we will shut down your PDA quote site.

If you want a PDA quote site that others can use, we can set that up for you for only $99 per year and we can do that now. And keep reading, you can get the first 4 months of the public PDA version for FREE. Once a public site has been set up for you, you can give the address to anyone that you want.


What's Next?

Once our work on the web engines and PDA/Phone software is complete, we will be turning our attention to some important maintenance work that is needed to the data entry systems. Those programs have not been updated for quite some time, and some need to be converted to take advantage of the newer programming compilers that we have been using for the Windows software that we already distribute to you. Our goal is to make it easier to program future software, which will ensure that we can roll out changes and improvements more efficiently.

Further, having reviewed where we are heading over the next few years, and the changes that we would like to be able to make in the future, we have decided to stop and do a much more extensive overhaul than simply changing our data entry software. We have determine that we would also like to implement a better data storage structure that will make maintenance easier on both a data entry basis, as well as a programming basis.

To achieve our goals in this regard, we will be spending a fair bit of time reviewing our new data storage needs, and then building conversion software that will convert our existing data files into our new data file structure. Once we have done that, we will then introducing new comparison software that does exactly what it does now, but which derives its results from the new data structure. In other words, you will end up with a new program that does exactly what the old program did/does.

Once this first stage is completed, we will have both old program and old data, with new program and new data. Moving forward we will use the old data entry systems to maintain the old version, then converting old data to the new data forms for general distribution.

The next stage is to create the new data entry systems that talk to the new data format. Once we are satisfied that the new data entry system give us everything that we have now, we will then switch to the new data structure alone. We will only do this once we have thoroughly tested the new software to ensure it gives us no problems in maintaining the date. This may take several months. As far as the part you use, by the time we make that transition, you will have been using the new software for several months.

The point of sharing this with you is that the process will be quite lengthy and so from this spring throughout most of 2010, you will not be seeing many changes and improvements to the software that you use, even though the underlying foundation will be going through a massive change. Once the foundation has been reconstructed, and all the tools to work on the foundation have been built, the program will be in a position to make some substantial moves forward.

Think of it as transplant surgery, where you need to keep the patient alive and well, at the same time as you are swapping out the organs.