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Dandy Cast 014: Take your stinking pixels off me, you damned dirty trackers!

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on March 3, 2020.

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Show notes

Do you know you’re being tracked? Like, everywhere. Everything is tracking us all the time and I for one don’t appreciate it one bit. I don’t find myself needing personalized ads. If I have to have ads in my browser, then at least show me some that doesn’t convince me I’m being watched 24/7.

Unfortunately, you can also find this tracking technology in the emails you receive, too. Sure, they’re used to track opens and click-throughs, but how much of that information is actually valuable and how much of it is actually creepy? My money’s on the creepy side. Let me tell you what I’m trying to do about it for Dandy Cat Design.

There’s a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, How to Add a Sidebar to Your Blog (and Why You'd Want To).

Adding a sidebar to your Squarespace site can boost your audience engagement to some pretty excellent heights. Who wouldn’t want to encourage their visitors to spend more time on their site? Sounds like a good thing to me. Learn a couple powerful ways to add a sidebar to your Squarespace website by reading this post today!

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

Spy - Paul Jarvis

Facebook Pixel - Facebook

How to Add a Sidebar to Your Blog (and Why You'd Want To) - Dandy Cat Design

I Am Not Okay With This - Netflix

Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space | Spiritualized - YouTube

The Dark Tower I | Stephen King - Goodreads


The full text

The Dandy Newsletter - 03/03/20

In a recent missive by Paul Jarvis, he wrote about his decision to turn off tracking pixels in the newsletter he sends out to his subscribers every week. For those who may not know, tracking pixels are tiny pieces of code that are placed on websites and emails that collect and help store information about the people who visit websites or receive emails. Many people use them to learn more about who is seeing their content so they can use said information to further tailor their advertising to increase customer satisfaction and engagement. It should come as no surprise that Facebook uses them extensively to follow you around on the web.

Ever wonder why you see ads on Facebook for items or services that you were just looking at someplace else online? Yep, your internet movement is being tracked. All the time.

In Paul’s newsletter, he says,

The problem is, tracking pixels spy on people - and most folks (unless they use specific email client software) who receive the emails aren’t aware of the spying that’s taking place, as those tracking pixels load automatically in most cases.

The existence of tracking pixels is something I’ve known about from some time; there’s been an option to include a Facebook Pixel on Squarespace sites for quite a while now. It’s not something I’ve ever employed for two reasons:

  1. I haven’t had a Facebook account for years now (which feels great, by the way).
  2. Why would I ever want to give Facebook (or other ad sites) more control over my life, both business and personal, and the online activity of anybody who visits my website/social media/emails?

This extends to how I’m trying to build and grow Dandy Cat Design: a nice place for people to visit, learn valuable information, and know that I do my best to respect the personal information of my audience.

I’m always trying my damnedest to live up to that promise. To that end I’ve written to ConvertKit (surprise surprise, I’ve moved my email marketing service yet again) asking them how I can turn off the tracking pixel in these emails and if not, then why this valuable option isn’t available to their paying subscribers. I’ll be very interested to hear back from them on this matter.

I see two outcomes in this ConvertKit support email endeavor: either they tell me how to disable their tracking pixel and all is well or it’s not an option that they’re considering at this time and I’ll need to write a disclaimer about it here and elsewhere. Personally, I’m hoping for the first option. It really doesn’t take a lot for a company to ensure the online privacy of their visitors/users. Some may gripe and whine about losing what they may call “valuable information,” but I feel it’s more important to respect the people who have kindly given them their information. Or at the very least, to give their customers the option to respect those people.

They can even call that option in their settings screen the “Respect Toggle.” Pretty catchy. Maybe I should have gone into marketing, eh?

Might I lose out on some future moneys because of these choices I’m making? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I do, then there are always other methods of earning money. As it is now, I’m not interested in checking out the deep analytics that ConvertKit or any other email marketing service provides (or possibly forces on me). I do hope that you open and read the email I send out every week, but I don’t spend any of my own important time checking to see if you actually did open one or click on any of the links inside.

The only question I want answered from an email marketing service is, “Did the email actually get sent out?” If the answer is “yes,” then all is good. The only “analytics” I need are the nice emails I get in reply to the Dandy Newsletter from people like you.

Also, I can rest easy knowing that I will always be better than Facebook. Not that they’re setting a high bar or anything.

Let me talk to you over here about this thing...

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Huzzah! 🎉

It’s called: How to Add a Sidebar to Your Blog (and Why You'd Want To).

Speaking of Squarespace, there are only a small number of templates that allow you to add a sidebar to your blog pages. In fact, with the release of their 7.1 platform, adding a sidebar automatically isn’t even an option anymore. You just can’t do it easily because they won’t let you.

But a sidebar can be a super important and valuable tool to have on your website or blog. It can help you increase the amount of time your visitors spend on your website. It can help increase the engagement you receive from your visitors because they’ll be drawn into the items you tease about in your sidebar. It can also help make your blog look extra snazzy.

There’s an easy way and a (slightly) harder way to add a sidebar to your blog pages and I’m going through both of them today. Fair warning, I really love the easy way (and I’m not receiving any money whatsoever to say that).

Click through the link above to learn how you can add add a good looking sidebar to your website today. I look forward to telling you all about how you can make your website work new wonders for you.

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then leave a comment at the end of one of my blog posts. Or heck, reply to this email.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay dandy, cat.

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Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶


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