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Should you send holiday cards this year? Some industry facts might help!

18 holiday cards per household!

It’s October again, which means in addition to jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin pie, my friends have also started asking me whether or not they should send holiday cards this year, and if so, when should they send them? Being in the industry, I find it’s helpful to look at what everyone else is doing!

First, greeting card sending is more widespread than pretty much everyone thinks it is. According to the Greeting Card Association (GCA), 7 billion greeting cards (holiday cards, birthday cards, etc.) are sent every year in the US. And before you jump on the e-card bandwagon, only about 500 million e-cards are sent each year, worldwide!

So physical greeting cards are still our preferred expression of well-wishes, and indeed nine out of ten US households buy greeting cards, with the average household buying 30 cards per year.

Regarding the holidays specifically, according to the GCA, about 2.1 billion of the 7 billion greeting cards bought per year are holiday cards. With 114 million households in the US, that’s over 18 holiday cards received per household!

So, if you’re the average American household, you’re receiving about 18 holiday cards per year and about 63% of your friends are sending them according to a survey conducted for VistaPrint. So when should you send yours? Well, 43% of holiday card senders buy their cards in November, and 32% buy their cards in October or December. However, if you miss those months, don’t worry, a full 25% of holiday card senders don’t buy their cards until after the holidays, taking advantage of post-holiday card sales.

Many people don’t send holiday cards because they find it so hard to keep up with their friends’ and family’s mailing addresses. If you’re in this situation, point your browser to conXt. We’re your paper address book online and make gathering, updating, and using your contact info fast, simple, and easy. And we’re free!

And finally, with your address book problem out of the way, and despite what everyone else is doing, here’s an industry statistic that makes sense of holiday cards on a more personal level. In a GCA survey, nearly one-third of respondents said they intend to keep their special cards forever! So go ahead, make your holiday cards count and send a memory.

Facebook messes up privacy … again

It’s safe to say that most Americans (and probably people all over the world) want control over their personal contact information and prefer their contact information to be private, not public. In the US, over 200 million phone numbers have now been registered with the FTC’s Do Not Call List. One survey found that 72% of Americans had registered on the Do Not Call List. This is clearly something that is important to us.

Given this, it’s mind-boggling that Facebook continues to use absurd privacy settings that leave our contact information open to harvesting. Luckily, researcher Suriya Prakash is not a telemarketer, but if he was he would have the contact information for 500 million Facebook users. That’s a lot of telemarketing calls, a lot of spam, and a lot of frustration. To get this information, Suriya didn’t have to hack his way into Facebook’s servers, he just exploited a fairly simple vulnerability brought about by Facebook’s default privacy settings. This whole thing episode kind of makes me feel like this:

GIFSoup

What’s worse, Facebook’s actions damage anyone who tries to offer a better, online solution. We can’t (and won’t) tell you what to share or not to share on Facebook, but if privacy and control over your contact information is important to you, consider joining conXt. We’re fanatical about privacy, and believe that our users should always be in control over their personal contact information and their address books.

Why is it so hard to get addresses? We give you the top 3 reasons!

mailing address frustration

Despite the rise of ecards and paperless post, we still enjoy sending actual invites, letters, and cards – and even more, we love receiving mail from loved ones. One of life’s little treasures is opening your mailbox to find an envelope from a friend or family member, with that moment of anticipation as you wonder what’s inside, and then carefully edging apart the envelope’s seam to see what printed goodness awaits. It’s like Christmas for the other 364 days of the year! But when you try to send those invites, letters, and cards yourselves, getting those addresses can leave you feeling like this:

mailing address frustrationOnce again, you realize that your friends have forgotten to respond to your request for addresses. Why do your friends, your friends of all people, make your life so hard?! Through our focus groups, we’ve identified what we believe to be the top three reasons:

  1. It’s not your friends, it’s you! This is one we were surprised by, but it’s true. Many times, we combine a request for addresses with something else, like a save-the-date. A recent save-the-date email I received asked me to confirm my attendance online. I did, and I completely missed the part of the email that asked me to also reply with my address, making me the recipient of an email one month later asking: WHY HAVEN’T YOU GIVEN ME YOUR ADDRESS?! Well, frankly, I didn’t know I’d been asked for it!  If you’re asking the person on the other end of your email to do something, make it clear, and even better – as many email marketers will tell you – try to include only one ‘call-to-action’ per email.
  2. Just like you, your friends are busy. Your friends meant to reply to you, they really did, but then they got an email from their boss, or a call from Mom, and they forgot about it as their inbox filled with other messages. Plan to follow-up with your friends, and you won’t feel so bad when you actually have to do it!
  3. Your friends are trying to figure out where they’ll be living before they reply. This one is easy to understand and sympathize with. Your friend’s lease is ending, and they’re trying to find a new apartment before they send an address for an invitation that may not arrive for a couple of months. In this case, it’s best to wait – or find a way that allows you to connect with them real-time for when they do finalize a new address.

And that’s where conXt comes in. ConXt is your paper address book online – simple private, useful, and connected – and solves all these address problems with the click of a button. Use conXt’s ‘contact info request’ feature to easily request contact info in a custom and focused email, use conXt’s filters to view anyone who hasn’t responded to your request yet for easy follow-up, and connect with your friends who are in-between apartments so that when they do finalize a place, all they have to do is update their conXt profile to let you know where they are now. Our users rave about how easy we’ve made their wedding invites and holiday cards. And the best part about using conXt for me, this holiday card I got from my brother and his family last year (hanging on my fridge):

Do you have any stories to add about your friends not getting you their addresses? Let us know in the comments section!

How to Share Contacts from conXt

I was recently asked how to share contacts withing conXt with other family members seeing as conXt bills itself (among other things) as a ‘family’ address book. So, I thought I would share how my family did it, what some other options will be coming down the pipeline, and also ask you for other ways that you might want to share your contact’s info with other people.

One thing to remember about sharing is that privacy is very important to the concept of conXt so we don’t do things like make all of your contacts’ information available to other people you are ‘connected’ with because, in my opinion, that would be violating your contact’s privacy.  If you have other thoughts on that, please let me know in the comments.

How the Greenbergs Saved Christmas (or, How I Collected My Family Member’s Contact Info Into One Master List and Then Shared it with All of My Extended Family)

Quick Summary: import emails addresses for family members, tag those contacts as ‘family’, send a contact request form to those family members so they can provide you with an address, export the contacts that are tagged ‘family’ as a .csv file, and then email those family members from conXt, attaching the .csv file.

Now here is the step-by-step version: 

  1. I imported or added at least an email address for all of my extended family members (and my wife’s).
  2. Using the ‘tag’ button I tagged all of my family members as ‘Entire Huge Family’

    Tagging Multiple Contacts

    Tagging Multiple Contacts at One Time

     

  3. I then clicked the tag ‘Entire Huge Family’ in the ‘filter tags:’ dropdown at the top of the page in order to filter the list to show only contacts tagged ‘Entire Huge Family’.

    Filter your contacts using tags.

    Filter your contacts using tags.

     

    List of contacts shows only the people with the correct tag

  4. Then I hovered over the ‘more’ button (above the list of contacts) and chose ‘send contact information request’ so that each family member received an email with a link to a form to fill out. When they filled out the form, my address book was updated.

    Easily collect your contact's info with the Contact Request Form

    Easily collect your contact's info with the Contact Request Form

     

  5. Once I had collected address from everyone (or added them myself), I need to export them in order to provide them to everyone else. This was easy. Just filter the list again to show ‘Entire Huge Family’, hover over ‘more’ and choose ‘export contacts’ in order to generated a .csv file that only contains the contacts tagged ‘Entire Huge Family’.

    Export all, or just some, of your contacts with conXt

    Export all, or just some, of your contacts with conXt

     

  6. Now I needed to send it to everyone. So, keeping the list filtered, check the ‘select all’ checkbox above the list of contacts in order to select them all, hover over ‘more’ and choose ‘send email’. This opens up the email editor with all people tagged ‘Entire Huge Family’ pre-selected. Choose to attach the .csv file you generated and send the email. All from inside conXt.

    Send an email from conXt and attached the exported list of contacts.

    Send an email from conXt and attached the exported list of contacts.

     

So, that brings us to the end of the first way to share contacts with family members (or whomever).

Share your Address Book

The next way, a way which is being developed at the moment, is to share your address book with someone else (or many someone else’s).  Soon you will be able to, using an email address, share a ‘read-only’ or ‘edit’ version of your address book with someone else.  This might be better for immediate families, rather than extended, but we’ll see how it goes.

Connect Directly with Your Family Members

Of course, the best way to exchange current contact info with your family members is to convince them to join conXt and then connect to them!

And now to you: are there other ways that would be convenient to share your contacts information with other family members?  Please use the comments section so that we can talk about them.

Thanks!

 

Access Your Address Book from Inside Facebook

conXt-in-FB

If you can’t bring Mohammed to the Mountain, then bring the Mountain to Mohammed!

Starting today, you can now access your conXt address book from inside Facebook.  From printing mailing labels, to sending mail, or easily getting driving directions to your friend’s place, the entire functionality of conXt is only one click away when you are logged into your facebook account.

If you are currently logged into Facebook, just click this link to bring you to the conXt app. Or, just browse to http://apps.facebook.com/conxtapp/.

Here’s what it looks like:

Access conXt address book from inside Facebook.

Access conXt address book from inside Facebook.


IMPORTANT NOTE:
Even though you can now access conXt inside of Facebook, the two platforms DO NOT exchange any data! Facebook cannot see into your conXt address book and conXt cannot see your Facebook friends.  If you choose to login to conXt with your FB credentials the most that conXt will do (with your approval) is pull down the birthdays and profile pics of any Facebook friends you have that match a contact inside of conXt.

Since we first released the development version of this internally, I have found myself using the conXt app more and more frequently instead of going directly to conXt.com.  Please let me know how you make out with it. As always, any and all feedback is welcome and encouraged!

Eric

 

Manage Wedding Guest List with conXt!

One of the new features that we released with our recent beta 3 launch is a tool we have been informally calling the “Contact Request Form”. In short, it works like this:

  1. Import or add the email address for your contacts (from gmail, yahoo, excel, etc). Skip this step if you have already done this because you are a fanatical conXt user!
  2. Send a link to your contacts – it goes out in an email.
  3. Your contacts click the link, fill out a form, and WHAM! Your address book is updated with their most current data.

If you are already a conXt user and you receive one of these requests, just click the ‘connect’ button and your job is done.

We have seen this working really well with engaged people attempting to collect contact information for their wedding guests.  In this case, an easy option would be to also tag some of your contacts as ‘wedding guest’ (or whatever you like). That way, you can easily pull them up later to see who has filled out the form or not.

But enough chit chat. Here is a short movie showing the Contact Request Form as it is used to collect wedding guest contact info:

Do you know any recently engaged couples that could use some help collecting and managing their wedding guest list? If so, please forward this page on to them!

Fun at Philly Entrepreneurs Expo

This past thursday conXt, along with 40 other Philly startups, displayed it’s wares to the masses at the Philadelphia Entrepreneurs Expo hosted by phillystartupleaders and organized by Gloria Bell.

The event had a very energetic vibe and it was great to see what everyone has been working on, and even greater to be surrounded by passionate people who are excited by their work and genuinely interested to hear about what other people have been working on.

We had a table next to a fellow who was showing off a tool that was essentially a ‘touch and go’ disaster preparedness training mobile app. On his screen he was able to create the effect of the assembly hall being on fire!

One highlight for us was when I was explaining conXt to two members of the public, a man and a woman (they were not there together). After talking a bit about the benefits of conXt and I then told the man that we were focusing our marketing efforts on engaged women because that is a time in life when people are particularly invested in collecting current addresses and contact information, at which point the woman said “Oh my gosh! I was just engaged a few weeks ago and I came over here because I thought that I might be able to use this to help me get my contacts organized for the wedding”. Sweet!

We also received one of our first press mentions from flyingkitmedia who have a nice write-up of the event.

All in all it was a great experience and was good for me, personally, to get out there and talk, talk, talk about conXt.

Where you there? What did you think of the event and the startups?

How to organize your contacts with tags

In conXt tags are used to essentially attach useful and personally meaningful labels to your contacts. This then provides a simple way to filter your list of contacts to just show the people tagged with a particular tag.

When you filter your contacts by tags, remember that each tag button acts as a toggle. As long as the toggle is ‘on’ then the list will show the contacts that have that tag. In this way, you can show contacts in multiple tag categories.

It’s also useful to know that when your contact list is being filtered by a tag you can perform actions ‘en masse’ to the contacts that are displayed, such as emailing all of them, sending physical cards out, or exporting just the contacts in that tag category in order to send them to someone.

I have used tags for such things as organizing a surprise party, sending out two separate sets of Holiday Cards (one to friends and family, and another to business contacts), sending a group email to conXt investors, and having quick access to the contact information for the parents of children’s classmates.

It is certainly not necessary to tag all of your contacts in order to use conXt, but I find it is helpful to tag ‘on the fly’ so that I can more easily find someone the next time.

Here is a short video on how to organize your contacts using tags:

Create and Mail a Custom Holiday Card with Piknic and conXt

Cookies and milk, peanut butter and chocolate, strawberries and cream, Picnik and conXt.

For those of you who might not be aware of this, Picnik is an online photo editing tool so simple to use that even the most technophobic among us can create attractive images. Couple that with the conXt Custom Card template and you have a match made in heaven. Or at least the ability to create a totally personalized holiday card that we will print, stuff, stamp, and mail to the contacts of your choosing.

Below you will find a short tutorial on how create a basic holiday card using the free version of Picnik and then upload it into the Custom Card template in conXt in order to send them out.

Send Your Holiday Cards Through ConXt!

In keeping with our quest to be a hyper-useful address book, we are happy to announce the first in a wave of web2print offerings: Holiday Cards!

You can now send physical photo holiday cards directly from conXt into the mailboxes in front of their homes. We will print, stuff, stamp, and mail your cards for you.  Here are a few simple details followed by a short tutorial video on how to use this feature.

  • simply select the contact you wish to send a holiday card to (or better yet, keep track of them by using the Holiday Card tag, then just click that tag when you are ready to make your move and all the contacts with that tag will be shown). Then choose More>>send Holiday Cards, and follow the prompts. That is pretty much it.
  • The cards cost between $1.49 and $1.99 per card including postage and handling.
  • For the moment, we can only ship to US addresses.
  • In order to keep  the costs low for everyone, all of our cards are a standard 8″ x 4″ card, on excellent card stock, with bright colors, and a classic matte finish.
  • Your cards will be printed and mailed with first class postage 1-2 business days after submitting your order.
  • We even have a ‘custom’ option that will allow you to create your own completely personalized 8″ x 4″ card. Just upload the finished design when prompted.

And the best part about using conXt to send holiday cards? Once some contacts are added to your address book you can do things like email them directly (or in groups), print mailing labels, get driving directions and maps, and access their full contact info from any web-connected device.

So without further ado, here is the video!