Archive for the ‘Business Tools’ Category

Free Email Account

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Why Using Free Email Services Are Bad for Business

A free email account says “we’re not willing to take the relatively small expense to make sure we have reliable email”. “ This business doesn’t care about their public image, they don’t care about using real email, and they don’t seriously care about using the internet to communicate with their customers.”

The company which is using a free e-mail account might be completely committed to their customers, but using a free email account doesn’t say that.

There are lot of reasons why not to use free email accounts for business with some explanations on how it impacts your online presence, especially as more than 87% of all company communications are via email, outstripping postal mail, telephone and face-to-face communications to become the most used mode of business communication today. We focus on the top 10  as follows:

1. Hackers Love Free Email Services:

Since the group of people who use free email accounts like gmail, yahoo, hotmail, ymail, mymail, aol and so now. Hackers spend a lot of time trying to hack into these accounts. When a hacker gains access to your email account they will use it to send SPAM and even possibly adult content to your list of contacts which could include your clients, vendors, business partners etc. Protect your business and save yourself that embarrassment by getting your own email address.

2. Risk Getting your email blocked:

If you are using free email services for business and storing your business contacts and your account is hacked, spammers can send out malicious messages from your account. Not only will this annoy your prospects and clients, resulting in them ignoring further messages from you but it could mean that your email address would most likely be tagged as an email address that sends SPAM and blocked by SPAM software all across the internet.

3. Looks Unprofessional:

Despite arguments that free email services are easier to use the fact is a free email account just isn’t professional looking. What do you think of someone you meet online who doesn’t have a professional email address with a business domain name? Aren’t you wary of handing over money to them? You should be. This not only means far fewer responses and closed transactions for the effort and resources you assign to marketing activities but also lowers the perceived value of your products and services.

4. Brand Awareness & Consistency:

Using a free webmail account does nothing to help build your brand. When we use our business email that has the same domain as our website, it’s a shoe-in for people to see what your website is and visit on their own, instead of having to ask. Can you imagine companies like McDonald’s or Apple using Gmail for business?

5. Image

You only get one chance to make a first impression. When you are building a business, you are building an image. The image is one of professionalism & consistency, no matter the industry. So, when you have an office/store location, and a custom domain name for your website, why use mybusinessname@hotmail.com to communicate with your clients

6. You Get Want You Paid For:

Because you’re paying nothing for the service, you’re getting exactly what you paid for: nothing.  The free e-mail service providers are under no obligation to do anything for you. They’re well within their rights to ignore you completely, and that’s what most of them do.

7. Separating Business from Personal:

It’s hard enough to keep track of all the emails we receive on a daily basis. With personal free email accounts, we deal with spam, forwards, social engagement invitations and details and much more. Having a separate business email account will ensure that all the emails that you send and receive will be business related only. For the same reasons you keep separate bank accounts for business and personal, it’s equally as important to keep your business communications separate. It would be a shame to miss an email from a prospective client because it was lost in a sea of social emails

8.    Advertising is more difficult

Most free email services have many users and it is unlikely that you will be able to register either your personal or business name with them without adding some other letters or numbers to it. If you have to use an email address like joedoereo@hotmail.com it will be very difficult for your customers to remember. Any time your customer has to recall your email address, or even just type it into an email there is the potential for error and it can be difficult to spot errors if there is no obvious sequence or meaning in the email address

9.    Email limits

Another major issue for businesses which operate a mailing list and send out regular mailings to their customers is the restrictions placed on accounts by many of the free email services.

Free email accounts are an obvious choice for companies and individuals who wish to send out 1000′s of spam emails. In an attempt to restrict this activity by spammers many email providers have introduced limits on the number of emails that you can send out at one time, or a limit on the number of emails you can send in a 24 hour period, or in some cases a limit on both. This creates a major issue if you are a legitimate business with a mailing list. You may not be engaging in sending out spam but you will have to deal with these restrictions. You could spend hours on your computer sending out emails from several free accounts but this is very time consuming, and you would probably be better employed actually running your business.

10. Email Analytics

To be able to improve your email marketing results you need to have a clear insight in your statistics. If you know how many people open your email, click your links and who these people are, you can detect weak points in your email marketing strategy. Statistics give you a great insight in what works and what doesn’t so you can keep improving your emails to maximize results! Free email hosts like Gmail or Hotmail do not provide these reports so you have no idea of your overall email results and possible tweaks in your strategy.


Fake Likes On Facebook

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Why Facebook Hates And Fights Fake Likes

Facebook is launching a campaign to rid its service of fake, or “low-quality”  likes. There are spammy businesses out there that prey on Facebook page admins with offers to get them thousands of likes to their pages.  In a blog post, Facebook site integrity engineer Matt Jones wrote that “The spammers behind fake likes have one goal — to make money off of Page owners without delivering any value in return.” He said that “They make their profit by promising and generating likes to Facebook Page administrators who typically don’t understand that fake likes won’t help them achieve their business goals.”

It’s not hard to locate these spammers. A Google search for “buy Facebook likes” yielded plenty of offers, including one company that posted an entire menu of options, including “10K Likes for $480.” For $1,200 you can buy like 50K likes.

Jones wrote that the company has a “strong incentive to aggressively go after the bad actors behind fake likes because businesses and people who use our platform want real connections and results, not fakes.” He said that businesses that buy these fake likes won’t achieve real results and “could end up doing less business on Facebook if the people they’re connected to aren’t real.” He added, “Since these fraudulent operations are financially motivated businesses, we focus our energy on making this abuse less profitable for the spammers.”

Likes are great, but only if they're real, says Facebook

Likes are great, but only if they’re real, says Facebook

Facebook has both automated and manual systems in place to try to catch these types of fake likes, “including blocking accounts and removing fake likes all at once.” The company has also sued spammers in the past and has obtained “nearly $2 billion in legal judgments,” so far. A judgment doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook has been able to collect from the offending businesses that it’s gone after.

Others weigh-in

Having 10,000 fans in India is great, but they’re not going to buy anything or visit you if you’re a furniture store in Sydney, Australia.

Not just Facebook

Social media spam affects other services as well. It was just as easy for me find web pages selling “TwitterTWTR -8.84% retweets” such as 10,000 retweets for $45 or 50,000 for $150. There are also spammy services that sell YouTube views and Instagram followers as well as LinkedInLNKD -3.84% connections. In addition, there are companies that sell text-links to try to trick Google into upping the page rank of sites that are linked from other sites. A few years ago Google started punishing websites with these bogus links by reducing their own page rank, but — as a web site administrator — I still get plenty of offers from businesses wanting to pay me to place these links on my page.

Culture obsesses over popularity

We increasing live in a world where businesses, celebrities, journalists and just regular people, are judged by the number of followers, friends or likes they have accumulated. But sheer numbers of followers or likes don’t tell the real story. Even if they were obtained without paying for them, numbers don’t necessarily translate into genuine interactions whether that’s financial transactions, genuine retweets, clicks or just plain interest.

The reality is that there is a big difference between people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, versus those you have simply “collected” by whatever means are at your disposal.


 

 

7 (Seven) Ways Market Research Can Feed Into Business Activities

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Most commonly, market research is viewed as a method to improve advertising and marketing initiatives and to develop products that are friendlier to specific markets. However, the true range of uses for market intelligence is much larger than most businesses think. The results of surveys and opinion polls can also be used to inform various company departments to support their diverse activities.

Moreover, advances in technology have brought about sophisticated do-it-yourself (DIY) research products, which means that businesses have more control over the costs, reach, and timing of research solutions. Those DIY offerings also deliver the advantage of instantaneous results that can be monitored in real time, offering a competitive edge when time is critically important.

The distinctive characteristics of DIY market research solutions give businesses an impressive ability to influence operations across multiple departments, especially in the following seven areas.

1. Language and Tone of Communications
In the many ways companies engage with their consumers, language plays a crucial role. Market intelligence can be especially useful in shaping the tone and content of marketing collateral and company communications to appeal to specific groups of consumers without being irrelevant or offensive.

Research can also help organizations working in highly sensitive capacities, such as hospices or charities for terminal illnesses. For example, gathering opinions from a panel of leukemia survivors can help the marketing department of a leukemia awareness organization to focus on the issues most important to patients and to employ appropriately sensitive, supportive, and inspiring language in its communications.

2. Media Buying and Placement
Market intelligence can be used to discover the best arenas in which to disseminate messaging and launch marketing campaigns. Insights into the minds and media habits of consumers can help create a strategy using the most appropriate venues for marketing, public relations, social media, search engine optimization, and other campaigns.

Also, when businesses move into unfamiliar territories, market research can play a vital role in determining the best approach. Surveys could be conducted to learn more about the consumers in this new market. Do they use social media sites or news sites more often? Do traditional print publications still outperform those online? Is one social network more popular than another? The results of such reports could then assist in choosing the best strategy for media buys, article placement, social media content, and so on.

3. Crisis Management
Being able to access immediate results and observe reactions can be critical to proper crisis-response activities. Whether a business is coming to terms with a sudden drop in public opinion, grappling with an event that hurts consumer confidence, facing something that causes a publicity catastrophe, or responding to a natural disaster, the advanced capabilities of DIY research solutions allow for swift deployment of online surveys, improving a company’s image while providing information vital to the formation of the most appropriate response.

Although such application of market insight might not be commonly employed, they can be as valuable as the traditional uses for market research (such as others in this list of seven uses) and should definitely be taken into account.

4. Advertising Campaigns
Market research has traditionally been used to help agencies craft targeted messages in their advertising programs to ensure they are appealing to the right demographics.

Although the subjective nature of advertorial response is hard to measure, surveys and opinion panels have long been used effectively to pinpoint the specific aspects of a product or campaign that will resonate most with consumers.

5. Product Development
Another traditional use for research panels and target audience surveys, product development can be greatly enhanced via market investigation and input from key demographics.

Learning what the consumer believes, needs, and wants can help to create tailored products that satisfy demand. Conversely, maintaining a conversation with current users of a certain product via a managed research panel can help a company become aware of any issues that need improvement or product aspects that should not be altered during product upgrades.

For example, a car manufacturer wishing to update a popular model could deploy surveys to current fans of the car to gauge their opinions on various aspects. Perhaps most people think the car is visually appealing but they are frustrated by the way it handles. Those results could feed into the development process to ensure that the new model will perform well without alienating anyone.

6. Brand Perceptions
Brand outreach, too, has often drawn upon market research to inform strategies. Businesses can conduct investigations into the marketplace to determine which aspects of their brands are being properly communicated. In this way, they can avoid wasting time and money emphasizing brand characteristics that are already common knowledge.

On the other hand, examining a target audience’s opinions of a brand can reveal areas for improvement. For example, a luxury brand might discover that consumers affiliate its products with convenience rather than indulgence, highlighting an area of current brand messaging that possibly needs altering.

7. Service Improvements
Surveys have often been use to gauge whether consumers are satisfied with a company’s services. Now, technologies moreover enable companies to create their own consumer communities, forming a direct and constant source of feedback.

For example, a business could post information and a link on its website for consumers to join its research community. Those who sign up and participate in such a forum can form a valuable source of information for monitoring service performance. Moreover, owning a research panel can extend other customer service areas to enhance overall response to consumer needs.

11 friendly tips to help PRs write effective press releases

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Posted 20 August 2012 09:44am by David Moth

In general PRs and journalists have a decent working relationship, or at least I like to think we do.

But new research by Pressfeed highlights the fact that we have differing opinions over what should be included in a press release.

Almost half (45%) of the PRs polled said that visual elements with a news story are not important at all to journalists, while 39% said it wasn’t necessary to add images, videos or graphics to a news release.

But 80% of the journalists included in the survey said it was important or very important to have access to photographs and visual images and 75% wanted video content.

We get hundreds of press releases at Econsultancy, some good, some not so good.

So here’s 11 friendly tips on how PRs can make their press releases more effective, and more likely to be opened and read…

1. Spelling!
It’s an obvious one, but you’d be amazed at the number of press releases we get through with spelling mistakes in the subject line. A favourite of mine was one about ‘Ryaniar’.

We’re all guilty of spelling errors at some point in time, but a mistake in the subject line makes you look like an amateur.

2. Get to the point
When sifting through press releases of a morning I don’t have time to read loads of preamble, so get to the point in the first paragraph.

If your first two paragraphs go on about how your client is a ‘leading cloud computing software supplier’ your audience will quickly lose interest and dispatch your email to the recycling bin.

More often than not your client isn’t the story, the research they’ve commissioned is, so lead with juicy stats rather than the client’s biography.

3. Keep it short
Even if your report is groundbreaking stuff, I don’t want to read a massive email listing every single detail.

Try to limit the email to four paragraphs, maybe five at a push, and use bullet points to make the interesting stats easier to read.

4. Send me the report
If you’re sending out a press release to promote a new piece of research then make sure to attach the report or include a link to it.

It’s extremely frustrating and a waste of time having to go back to a PR to request a copy of the report. And the same goes for charts and images – if you have them, send them through.

Journalists and bloggers are generally up against the clock so we don’t want to waste time by going back and forth for content that you’ve hinted at in your press release.

5. Know your publications
As far as I’m aware we’ve never published a client-win at Econsultancy and a quick scan through our blog would tell you that. Yet I still get sent several of them a day.

While it may seem like a good idea to send press releases to as many publications and blogs as possible in order to ensure coverage, in reality it is likely to severely undermine your reputation if you keep sending out irrelevant content.

6. ‘Big News’ is subjective
What is big news to one person is irrelevant spam to most other people. Think hard before including any terms like ‘exciting news’ or ‘big news’ in the subject line.

7. Keep the headline short
Think about how the subject line will look to the recipient. Email clients have a limited amount of visible space, so keep it concise otherwise half the headline will get chopped off.

8. Bear in mind that people will be reading it on mobile
Smartphones are nothing new, so try to take into account the fact that most journalists check their emails on a mobile device.

This makes concise writing and punchy headlines even more important.

9. DON’T USE CAPS
Nothing says “I’m spam, send me to the recycle bin” quite like a shouty, capped up headline. And the same goes for exclamation marks!!!!

Caps make the subject line difficult to read and it looks unprofessional. Do you cap up emails to clients? I hope not. So why do it in a press release?

10. Avoid jargon
When writing a blog post time is of the essence, so I don’t want to spend ages translating press releases into plain English.

We have a list of banned words for the Econsultancy blog and if I had my way ‘learnings’, ‘reaching out’ and ‘thought leader’ would be at the top of it.

11. The personal touch counts
There’s a huge amount to be said for building a relationship with bloggers and journalists and personalising emails. If a press release is obviously just part of a massive mail merge then it’s unlikely to get read.

But more importantly, if I recognise the name of the sender and have had some contact with them outside of simply being included on a press release list then I’m far more likely to open their emails.

Generate Leads With LinkedIn Announcements

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

If you’re not using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, argues Shelly Kramer at MarketingProfs Daily Fix, you may be missing out on a very good thing: “According to data from HubSpot, LinkedIn is the most effective source of new business leads among the three leading social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

And a study of some 3,000-plus B2B marketers indicated that LinkedIn’s visitor-to-lead conversion rate is four times higher than that of Facebook and Twitter.”

With LinkedIn Announcements, you can send email messages straight to the inboxes of likely prospects. Sound good? Here’s the right way to do it:

• Ditch the default subject line. If you don’t take the time to write an original subject line, why should anyone take the time to read your message? Treat this like any other email campaign—intrigue your recipient with a subject line that compels further investigation.

• Make your copy irresistible. Grab your reader’s attention with a relevant case for action. “This is a great place for stats—not only can they present a compelling case in a short amount of space,” she notes, “but they can also help readers visualize a particular topic or subject matter, which will help pique their interest.”

• Include a call to action. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. Make your call to action, and the pathway to conversion, perfectly clear.

• Don’t be a jerk. Would you want an endless stream of irrelevant LinkedIn Announcements? Probably not. So treat this access to a prospect’s inbox with respect.

The Point: With a strong LinkedIn strategy, your lead gen program can generate the high-quality leads your sales team craves.

Selling to SBOs: Three Points to Remember

Monday, August 6th, 2012

So you’ve set your company’s sights on selling to smaller businesses. Sure, they aren’t the heavy-hitters, the star accounts, but their loyalty could provide a nice budgetary cushion for your bigger sales efforts. And they’ll surely be thrilled to tap into your products or services, right?

Well, hold on a minute.

According to Scott Gillum, writing at the B2B Knowledge Sharing blog, that kind of thinking will place you among the many B2B marketers who, despite their best efforts, keep falling back to their “big company” ways when dealing with small-business owners (SBOs).

To encourage a better approach, Gillum has put together a list of 10 points to keep in mind when selling to SBOs, based on his study of a slew of reports from the Executive Council on Small Business. Here are three:

Don’t call them small! Remove the word “small” from all your communications. These are skilled professionals and full-time business owners.

But understand that small transactions are big deals to them. Don’t underestimate your need to prove value or ROI on what you would consider small transactions, Gillum advises. According to his research, the definition of a “major” purchase begins at $500 for SBOs.

Know they love to search. Face it: They’re not waiting for you to show up. “Rather than narrowing their list of vendors, 60% of owners now report expanding their consideration set through research,” says Gillum. And where do they search? Locally! SBOs search for products or services by name, not a brand, and they include their local area in the search, he notes.

The Point: Focus on the “owner” part. Put aside any concept of size, and approach SBOs as professionals with preferences. That perspective is sure to help get you noticed.

Source: B2B Knowledge Sharing.

Pinterest Lessons for Better Web Design

Monday, August 6th, 2012

We’ve talked plenty about Pinterest’s potential to spread the gospel of your awesomeness, but what about the lessons its success can teach us about creating fashionably cutting-edge Web design?

Here’s a big one: According to Babar Suleman, writing at The Daily Egg, “Pinterest’s meteoric rise to social media ubiquity is powered by its blend of great visual design and highly intuitive user interface.” Bingo.

Below, some tactics out of Pinterest’s playbook to help you create a kicky Web page that grabs—and holds— user attention.

Post in simple blocks. Images on Pinterest appear as note-sized blocks that operate like mini webpages, featuring comments boxes, “Like” and “Repin” buttons. “The masonry layout eliminates visual gaps between images of different sizes and proportions, and thus effectively utilizes available space,” Suleman notes.

Be photo-centric. Pinterest de-emphasizes text because imagery is easier to digest quickly. The community is wed by shared visuals which, in a way, serve as conversations. Suleman also notes that Pinterest offers solutions for ecommerce businesses: “You can use your pinboard as an online store—complete with gorgeously organized product images and price tags.” These are all looks you can recreate on your own site.

Make it flow. Ever hit the bottom of the Pinterest homepage? No? That’s because Pinterest uses “infinite scrolling” to continue displaying content as you descend. It’s the “window shopping experience that never ends,” says Suleman. “A user is far more likely to spend more time viewing and engaging with the content than if they had to click to view the ‘next page’ and wait for it to load.” Try it out: Make your content flow on a given page.

Fight the reverse-chronology trend. It’s natural to be interested in what’s most recent, but Pinterest demonstrates that isn’t the only way we can sort content online. It organizes content by interests and Pinboards, arranged as users please, less of a “what’s new” philosophy than a “what’s interesting” one—giving content a longer shelf-life. Use this strategy to tailor content to users by their interests, no matter when it was published.

Even if you don’t use Pinterest, you can reap its richesse by optimizing your own site along these lines. For more tips, read Suleman’s full article on Pinterest design inspiration.

The Point: There’s a method to this pin-madness. And Pinterest’s secrets to success can be yours, too! So what’re you waiting for?

Pinterest App Helps Small Merchants Attract Pinners

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

A new app from Lexity, Lexity Pinterest Report, enables merchants to understand how their products or services show up on Pinterest and potentially profit from the information.

“Pinterest is driving more traffic to our merchants than Facebook or Google ads in many cases,” said Lexity CEO Amit Kumar. “Many niche, small-business merchants have very compelling, unique products, so they tend to get picked up on Pinterest by people looking for cool things. We give you a view across all references to your product across Pinterest.”

According to comScore, Pinterest was the 61st most-visited U.S. web property in June, with 20.5 million unique visitors.

Pinterest itself is expected to open APIs to third parties soon; in the meantime, Lexity wrote its own algorithms and applies them to other Pinterest data sources that Kumar would not reveal.

The three-year-old company focuses on small businesses, connecting with online stores through their e-commerce platforms to automatically generate relevant keywords, track the most-pinned products, identify relevant trending products, identify top competitors, and score the reputations of Pinterest users in regard to relevant information.

For example, according to Kumar, the app can tell a store that sells lingerie, “You should keep an eye on ‘pajamas.'”

Lexity Pinterest Report can differentiate between a pinner who has tons of followers but no interest in lingerie from one whose every petticoat pin gets attention – and suggest that the merchant should snuggle up to the latter.

Pinterest has emerged as a key social media tool for merchants of all sizes. In April, Amazon and eBay both added Pinterest buttons to product pages, letting users share product images and page links to Pinterest directly. Experian’s recent 2012 Digital Marketer report found that Pinterest, now the third most popular social networking site in the U.S., could help foster “meaningful connections” between retailers and consumers.

Pinterest Report supports 20 e-commerce platforms and is priced at $5 a month to appeal to Lexity’s core customer base of companies spending less than $10,000 per month on marketing.
The company will soon release a pro version with a higher price tag that includes more sophisticated analytics.

10 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile Site

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

With smartphone’s taking the majority share in mobile phone usage in America this year, it’s easy to see that the future of Web is mobile. No one can afford to ignore it.

Astute advertisers, developers, and brands are creating experiences that connect, convert, and engage their audiences before the mobile revolution consumes them.

Still on the fence regarding whether to make the move to mobile? We at AD:60 have compiled an infographic that lists 10 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile Site. The list should obliterate any reasons against putting mobile at the top of your digital must-haves.

Here are a couple of stats from the infographic:
8% of all digital traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.
60% of smartphone users make more than $100,000 per year—double the US household income median.

10 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile Site

10 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile Site

Tracking Traffic From Pinterest: Three Measurements

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Pinterest serves more than 11.7 million US users monthly. But how do you know how many of them are checking out your Pins?

While Pins and Repins of photos from your site are great in theory for generating traffic, how do you actually track those numbers? Jim Gianoglio shares four ways you can track pin-interest using Google Analytics.

Referral reports. Go to Google Analytics’ Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals report page. If you can’t find pinterest.com (or m.pinterest.com) in the top 10 referrals, use the inline filter at the top of the table to run a search for “Pinterest.”

Custom reports. GA’s Custom Reports let you mash up specific information like the Pinterest pages that sent visits, how many users came from each, whether they’ve visited before, and how many pages they browsed. You can also choose Landing Page as a secondary dimension, to learn which images get people to repeatedly click through to your site.

Multi-channel funnels. For a fuller picture of conversions from Pinterest, look at GA’s’ Multi-Channel Funnels reports. “First, take a look at the Assisted Conversions report,” Gianoglio advises. “Select Source/Medium as the primary dimension, and filter for Pinterest.”

That will show you how often Pinterest “assisted” with a conversion (meaning it wasn’t the last source) versus how often it was the last source. (It’s possible Pinterest primarily drives awareness of your product, with people returning later to convert.)

To see how Pinterest and other sources of traffic stack up before conversion, visit the Top Conversion Paths report. Select Source/Medium Path as the primary dimension, then filter for Pinterest. That will show the instances where Pinterest drove traffic that converted later.

The Point: Take the pain out of pinning. Improve your Pinterest planning by learning which images work hardest for you—and why. The process is less daunting than it may seem!