SteamFeed http://www.steamfeed.com Marketing, Social Media, Technology, SEO, Business, and Blogging Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:33:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Can B2B Brands Become Thought Leaders With Content Marketing? http://www.steamfeed.com/can-b2b-brands-become-thought-leaders-content-marketing/ http://www.steamfeed.com/can-b2b-brands-become-thought-leaders-content-marketing/#respond Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:39:03 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24981 In an article in Forbes Magazine, Thought Leadership is defined as “simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” One way of a company becoming a thought leader is by using content marketing to propel their brand forward. Content marketing […]

Author information

Yael Kochman

Head of Marketing & Community at Roojoom

An entrepreneur & passionate online marketing professional. Started my first venture at the age of 12 and got hooked in the startup world. Head of marketing & community at Roojoom.com - a content marketing platform that let's you easily create engaging content to keep you readers focused for over 9 minutes in average.

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4 steps in the content marketing cycle

In an article in Forbes Magazine, Thought Leadership is defined as “simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” One way of a company becoming a thought leader is by using content marketing to propel their brand forward.

Content marketing is a relatively new area in marketing. While it seems some digital marketers and even a few startups do a great job leveraging it, some of the more established brands seem to fall behind.

As a marketer for a B2B brand, you can think of it as an opportunity: While other brands still invest most of their resources on advertising, you can conquer the top spots of search engines with your great content.

This post covers:

  • Why Content Marketing is Important for B2B Brands
  • The 4 Stages of Content Marketing
  • Tips & Best Practices

Content Marketing Does Not Mean Talking About Yourself

As the marketing manager of Roojoom, I get to speak to people about content marketing every day. Some people think content marketing means having a company blog, a Facebook page and maybe a Linkedin profile. And they think all 3 should talk only about their company.

Would you like to read an entire blog only talking about one company?

Probably not.

Almost every customer that signs up to our platform creates the first Roojoom about his company.

Then we reach out to them, teach them what content marketing is all about, and help them create much more engaging content.

So what should you talk about? You should talk about topics that are relevant to your audience.

Why is Content Marketing Important for B2B Brands?

The traditional marketing funnel is dying. We no longer sit still to watch TV ads one after the other – instead we prefer brands that “speak” to us directly. The brand-customer relationship is no longer based on one-way communication. These days, instead of calling customer support we reach out on Twitter for open communication. Instead of reading manuals, we go online to look for the information we need.

The brand that will provide us with this information will win our heart – and our money!

According to a Research by IDG Connect, CMO Council,Net Line, and Salesforce, eighty-seven percent of B2B decision makers report that content has either a moderate or major role in vendor selection.

Read more on the Roojoom below:

 

 

The 4 Stages of The Content Marketing Cycle

1) Strategy

Now that we realized how important content marketing is for you, it’s time to get to work.

You might think that starting a company blog means writing about how great your company is, however, often this is the fastest way to bore your readers right past your website.

Think about those sales calls you are getting every day. Someone you don’t know calls and begins to drone on about how his product is the best you can find. Do you tend to believe him?

More importantly – will you enjoy this call or get any value out of it?

Most of us tend to tune out when we are “sold” to in the classic sense.

However, consider a different scenario where you meet that same salesperson – but this time, instead of launching into their pitch, they begin to ask questions about your business, and help you solve a problem you’ve been tackling for a while – without even pitching their product. Chances are you will begin to consider them a helpful resource to solving your problem – and their product or service will probably will be one of the first you consider when tackling a problem in your industry.

Content marketing follows the same guidelines. First, think about the problems your audience is facing and help them solve them. You might also want to check out my previous post about things content marketers can learn from sales people.

Here are a few great examples of great blogs that help solve customer problems:

Unbounce is a landing page platform that provides turnkey solutions to SMBs and Startups. Instead of talking about their platform, their blog focuses on conversion optimization, call-to-actions and landing pages –providing tips and best practices and also analyzing landing pages from around the web to help you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Another example is Buffer – a social management tool. They talk about… that’s right! Social media, including the best times to post, the optimal length of blog posts on each platform and more. Using their own data gathered by millions of posts going through their system every day they provide valuable information to their readers.

Why do they go to all this trouble? So that they become the most trustworthy source when it comes to marketing on social media.

If they have figured it out, I’m sure you can too. Whatever it is you’re selling, there is a niche topic you can talk about. Find it, stick to it and you will become the “go to” reference point for your audience.

2) Content Creation

Great, you’ve chosen your niche! Now it’s time to create the content.

Before you storm your keyboards, spend as much time as needed researching and listening.

What is already written on this niche? What can you add to it?

Join social media groups that discuss topics relevant to your niche. Not only are they great for learning, they will also come in handy for the next step – distribution.

While listening in, consider these questions: What types of content do well there? What kinds of content get shared? What triggers a discussion?

While you are listening, engage in a discussion to start familiarizing yourself with other group members. This will help you when you post your new content – there will be a higher chance they will engage with your content as well.

Once you have gathered enough insights, translate it to a plan.

First, brainstorm blog topics. I like to plan out 2 months in advance to make sure that I’ve got enough topics to choose from as I form my content calendar.

You can use a content calendar like this one:

Creation Tips & Best Practices:

1. Make sure to get yourself a great editor.

Writing is individual, but your readers are many. Get at least one additional pair of eyes to go over your words of wisdom before making them public.

There are also some great tools to help you improve your copy:

HemingwayApp – makes sure you right clearly in a way even a 6th grader would understand (this post was edited with Hemingway!)

Atomic Reach – makes sure your content matches the level of sophistication of your audience (also measures how each post did on social media!)

2. Get Visual – Great text will only get you so far, if you really wish to engage readers, use visuals. Here are some great free tools to help you create visuals yourself.

3. Keep it practical: In every post I write, I always ask myself, what will my readers to get out of it? Add tips, resources and examples to provide your readers with valuable, practical information that they can easily implement.

Get more tips in my recent post: 9 ways to increase engagement with your content.

3) Distribution

Just like no one will read an un-marketed book, your content could fall into the content marketing black hole if not distributed with care.

There are several channels to market your content such as email campaigns, search engine marketing and link building. However, I’d like to focus on what I see as the natural partner of content: social media.

Every day people go on social media to look for information. To look for stories.

If your content has a story to tell, and its placed in front of the right audience on social media, it could become very powerful.

Remember those groups I had you engage with? Now it’s time to start posting your content there. Here are some tips & best practices to help you maximize traction from social media:

  1. Use more than just your company Facebook/ Linkedin page to distribute your content. Company pages have only reach a limited reach. If you rely on it get ready to spend a lot of money to get your content discovered.
  2. Select and consistently use a social management platform to share and track your performance. We have been using Oktopost for a few months now and get amazing results. For example, with Oktopost we organically received 13,645 hits from Facebook – not a penny spent! Read how we did it.
  3. Devote time to visiting groups, engage in discussions and share others content. By letting them know you are reading their content you will encourage them to read and share yours. Who knows – you might also learn something!
  4. The 80-20 rule. About 80% of the content you share via social media should be outside content you think is valuable to your audience.
  5. The key to succeeding on social media is simple: be social.

4) Content Re-purposing

You’ve invested so much in creating great content. Yet, a limited amount of people will read it!

Before you kiss your content good-bye, think of ways you can repurpose it.

Warning: Repurposing content does not mean using the same piece of content again for the same purpose.

Repurposing content means changing either the content itself (while keeping the idea), or the format of the content, or the audience.

For example, a blog post could easily turn into a deck, a video, or another blog post carrying the same idea, but in a different way or with a different audience in mind.

Here are a few tools to help you repurpose content:

  1. Content curation platforms: If used correctly, curation can become creation. You can use curation platforms, such as Scoop.it, Roojoom, Spundge and BundlePost to re-organize existing content into a new story.
  2. Presentations: Made a deck for a meeting or a speaking event? Why not upload it to Slideshare to get more people to see it? You may need to rearrange it, but hey — that’s what re-purposing is all about.
  3. Videos: Take videos of company events and speaking events and upload to YouTube or Vimeo. This is a great way to repurpose content from live events.
  4. Infographics: Take the same idea and create an infographic out of it. Then, pin it to your Pinterest board and upload it to platforms like Visual.ly to get more exposure.

See more repurposing content ideas on this post on Outbrain’s blog.

Conclusion

To become a thought leader follow the 4 Stages of content marketing and become a trustworthy source in your industry. Just like a good sales person, listen to your audience before laying out your content strategy. Engage with their larger questions and issues through a content creation and curation strategy that puts you as the front runner for industry interaction and expertise.

Over to You!

What is your experience with content marketing for B2B brands? Please share your insights in the comments below!


Author information

Yael Kochman
Head of Marketing & Community at Roojoom
An entrepreneur & passionate online marketing professional. Started my first venture at the age of 12 and got hooked in the startup world. Head of marketing & community at Roojoom.com - a content marketing platform that let's you easily create engaging content to keep you readers focused for over 9 minutes in average.

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7 Blog Post Formulas That Will Boost Your Business Blog http://www.steamfeed.com/7-blog-post-formulas-will-boost-business-blog/ http://www.steamfeed.com/7-blog-post-formulas-will-boost-business-blog/#respond Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24810 We all know an editorial calendar will keep our business blog on track, and focus our marketing on message but what sort of blog posts do we populate the editorial calendar with? In this post I’m going to share with you the most popular blog post formulas for small business owners to use in their blogging. Read […]

Author information

Sarah Arrow

Chief Blog Coach at Sark eMedia

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be? I'm the creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women) and grew into a kick-ass blog coach
You want your blog to make a difference, so check out my free blogging training and get more leads and better clients from your business blogging.

The post 7 Blog Post Formulas That Will Boost Your Business Blog appeared first on SteamFeed.


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7 Blog Post Formulas That Will Boost-2

We all know an editorial calendar will keep our business blog on track, and focus our marketing on message but what sort of blog posts do we populate the editorial calendar with?

In this post I’m going to share with you the most popular blog post formulas for small business owners to use in their blogging.

Read through the blog post formulas and see which one you can adapt and use to market your business today:

Formulas One: An In-Depth Analysis of Technique X or Theory

Take a popular theory or technique and hack it up. Yup, it’s as simple as that. This blog post formula is part opinion and part educational, making it incredibly powerful to your ideal reader. Yes, this post is Kryptonite and will have the most Super of Men on their knees. Yes, this post is an incredible scene stealer on your blog, and encourages other bloggers link to you.

  • Take apart the strengths and weaknesses of the theory, point out things others in your niche have yet to notice.
  • Make your observations clear and present facts, reference your sources of information and link to them.
  • Give extra tips for people who want to use the technique.

Example: The strengths and weaknesses of using Reddit as a traffic-generation method, plus little-known tips on how to get the most out of your Reddit account.

This post isn’t a quickie. You’re looking at around 1500 words as it’s an in-depth post. You’ll probably need to take screenshots and then spend time putting it all together and formatting it to look good.

Formula Two: Make a Prediction About the Future

Make a strong case for what you believe is going to happen in the future. I know it’s simple – you can predict things that will happen in the summer, in the winter, by Christmas, in the new year… the future is filled with possibilities, and you only have to get one or two things right to be able to say “I told you so, you heard it here first”.

You’ll see this type of post more frequently at the end of the year – Things that have to change in 2015 or things to look out for in 2015.

Of course, if you blog about social media you can write this post every time Facebook updates ;).

The emphasis for this post is how it’ll affect your reader, what they will feel / experience, and if you want to make that bit more fabulous then you can show solutions how to overcome the change with the least inconvenience.

Example: Facebook has changed again. The new format will change how you view your updates. The post content will consist of “Here’s why and how to profit from it / enjoy it / use it to your advantage”. Because it’s part educational and part topical, a prediction post a great formula to fall back on when you don’t know what to write a post about.

This type of blog post is a positioning post. It helps you plant yourself firmly in the eyes of your reader as someone who knows what’s going on.

Formula Three: How to …..

A how-to post on something your audience really wants to know how to do. This blog post is part how-to and part swipe file. A how-to post is very useful to your audience. It helps establish your expertise on a topic and it gets shared for being useful, something we all want. I have coached clients in the past who have assumed by explaining how to do something they are giving away their business secrets.

Let me reassure you – it doesn’t work like that. Your reader that reads a how to post may not have the time to do what you have blogged about. Their time is precious and they can see that you know what you are doing. So they hire you to do the job, even though you have shown them how to do it. Not everyone buy on price, a lot of people buy on expertise.

Blog post examples:

The how-to post is an excellent converter for your own services, and shouldn’t be seen as something that “gives away the farm”.

Remember an educated customer is a better customer.

Demonstrating your expertise isn’t something you should be ashamed of in business and how-to tutorials will help grow your email list. The call to action at the bottom of the how to post is a simple “If you can’t do this or don’t have the time to do this, then you can book me here”. Be bold and ask for the sale.

Formula Four: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Spend a day on the phones in your business. Write down what you are asked. The most common questions and answers you get asked for are the title of your next few blog posts.

This blog post formula is one that just keeps on giving! It can be repeated again and again with different questions and themes of questions.

Examples:

  • Q: (Headline) How much do I need to start a courier business? Answer in the form of a blog post…
  • Q: (Headline) Am I more likely to succeed in transport with zero experience? Answer in the form of a blog post…

The Question and Answer post is a terrific way to speak directly to your ideal customer and it attracts them in!

People type questions into search engines so it can also be a great way of getting organic search engine traffic. Give it a try. You might think it’s basic blogging technique, but if people are ringing up to ask the question then they want to know the answer because search isn’t giving them what they want.

Formula Five: Why Popular Sentiment X Is Wrong

Take a popular sentiment in your industry and take the opposite viewpoint. Of course it helps if you have to actually believe the opposite viewpoint. This can be a great conversation starter and people do enjoy a controversial post every now and then.

In fact some bloggers can get addicted to blogging controversial points due to the attention it brings.

Be careful and don’t do it often is my mantra on this. You don’t want to be known for continually courting controversy, you want to be known for being awesome and a great content resource for your clients and potential clients.

Example:

Most people believe it’s very hard to gain funding for a great business idea. In fact, the opposite is true: Most banks / funding organisation have a hard time finding good businesses to invest in. Getting your business investment isn’t difficult because it’s hard, but because most people don’t know how to raise money intelligently. Here’s how:

As you can see my tone in that sentence is a lot different to my usually chatty style of writing. Your regular readers will know that something’s up and they will respond.

Formula Six: X Signs of Y Share Any Number of Signs That Y is True

Yep, very algebraic but the formula works for any blog, in any niche.

  • Six Signs That Your Newsletter Needs a Revamp
  • Five Signs That Your Team Members are Stealing from You
  • Ten Signs That You’re Spending Too Much Money at the Supermarket

Not only do you get to shove a number in the headline again (the number indicates roughly how long it will take to read that post. 100 = long read, 3= a few minutes),  you also speak directly to your ideal reader in the second part of your headline.

You show understanding of her problems and you can also suggest solutions in your post and of course your services providing they help your reader.

Formula Seven: Share a Personal Story with a Lesson

Tell your readers a personal story that ends in an educational lesson. Show how they can learn from your experience. This is a great formula for coaches to use. It allows you to share something with your reader and bond over a shared experience and allows other readers to use the lesson in their own life.

Done well these are a powerful form of content marketing, done badly… well let’s not talk about that.

Examples:

  • How I burned breakfast on my honeymoon and now get breakfast in bed. Every day.
  • How I did My Own Car Service and Saved Hundreds of Pounds
  • Physician heal thyself – How as a Doctor I Self Diagnose and What You Can Learn from It

The great thing about using a formula is every one of these examples can be used and adapted to your business blog. You can hack and rewrite the formulas to suit whatever subject you are blogging about and use them over and over.

You’ll never have an empty editorial calendar again.

Sarah

PS if you want more blog post formulas you’ll love Module 3 of my Content Marketing from Scratch online training course.

This article “7 Blog Post Formulas That Will Boost Your Business Blog” first appeared on SarkeMedia


Author information

Sarah Arrow
Chief Blog Coach at Sark eMedia
Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be? I'm the creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women) and grew into a kick-ass blog coach You want your blog to make a difference, so check out my free blogging training and get more leads and better clients from your business blogging.

The post 7 Blog Post Formulas That Will Boost Your Business Blog appeared first on SteamFeed.

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5 Stunning Tips That Make You Stand Out on SlideShare http://www.steamfeed.com/5-stunning-tips-make-stand-slideshare/ http://www.steamfeed.com/5-stunning-tips-make-stand-slideshare/#respond Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:57:13 +0000 http://blog.atomicreach.com/?p=12540 As content marketing’s quiet giant, do you know how to maximize your views on SlideShare? Check out these numbers below. Why wouldn’t you want to get involved with the biggest presentation community? Below are 5 tips on how you can make creative, successful presentations for content marketing. 1) Storytelling Find a theme and flow for […]

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Atomic Reach

We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.13.26 AM

stunning-slideshare-tips1-645x300

As content marketing’s quiet giant, do you know how to maximize your views on SlideShare? Check out these numbers below. Why wouldn’t you want to get involved with the biggest presentation community?

slideshare-by-the-numbers

Below are 5 tips on how you can make creative, successful presentations for content marketing.

1) Storytelling

Find a theme and flow for your presentation and think about how someone will read your content. You want to make sure it’s a cohesive story and that it’s interesting at the same time. Keep them engaged and curious so that they will want to click on “next slide” and read more.

2) Title

Once you’ve figured out your story, create the most captivating title as you possibly could because the title is the hook. It is the first thing that people will see on your presentation page and in turn, when people embed your SlideShare on their page (or share it on social media) the title page is also the first thing everyone else will see. So yes, it’s very important to create a compelling cover page and catchy, interesting, and intriguing title.

3) Length

Ever sit through a presentation and think how boring it is? That is attributed to many things (check out You Suck At PowerPoint!) but one of the most common mistakes is that people use their slides as a crutch and not an aid. If people are reading through your presentation like a document then you have a problem. Keep it short and simple by showcasing one main point per slide.

Simple works best on SlideShare. The average SlideShare presentation is 14 slides and fewer than 25 words per slide.

4) Design

Your SlideShare needs to tell a stimulating visual story. Colors, fonts (try this free font resource), theme layout and images are things you have to consider in your design.

For more help, here are Top 5 tips for graphic design by Canva. And speaking of Canva, check out their incredibly easy-to-use tool to make beautiful graphics and stunning design for your SlideShare.

5) Promotion

Even great content doesn’t promote itself. Make sure you’re sharing that bad boy the day you’ve published it, the day after, a week and a month after (if it’s evergreen and relevant). There’s no shame in promoting it more than once to drive up more views.

Follow these tips and make sure you form a promotion strategy before you hit upload. It will give you a much better chance for going viral, and especially good for making it on the coveted front page of SlideShare and gaining “Today’s top …” or “Featured Slideshares …” status.

If you’re on SlideShare, check out our account. We upload a new presentation and/or document at least once a week! Stay updated on how you can create great content for real people.

The post 5 Stunning Tips That Make You Stand Out on SlideShare appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog :: Content Marketing & Scoring Engine.

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Atomic Reach
We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

The post 5 Stunning Tips That Make You Stand Out on SlideShare appeared first on SteamFeed.

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What Happened When My Funded Startup Ran Out of Cash http://www.steamfeed.com/happened-funded-startup-ran-cash/ http://www.steamfeed.com/happened-funded-startup-ran-cash/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24700 The Rise In 2013, I was fortunate enough to start a tech accelerator in WI to bring to life a project for which I’d made tremendous sacrifices. Since September of 2011, I’d put the last of my savings into making WeMontage a reality and also ran up a bunch of debt. But it didn’t matter. […]

Author information

James Oliver, Jr.

Founder & CEO at WeMontage

Co-founder of the world's cutest twins. Founder of WeMontage.com. Alum of the gener8tor.com startup accelerator and Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill (MBA). Cheeky. ESTP. Golf nut.

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phoenix rising

The Rise

In 2013, I was fortunate enough to start a tech accelerator in WI to bring to life a project for which I’d made tremendous sacrifices. Since September of 2011, I’d put the last of my savings into making WeMontage a reality and also ran up a bunch of debt.

But it didn’t matter. I was on my way to challenging consumers to live beyond the limitations of expensive and cluttered picture frames with our large collages on removable wallpaper. And, more importantly, offering users a unique way to display and enjoy their special memories.

I finished the accelerator in the spring of 2013 and was lucky enough to raise sufficient capital to hire a good technical co-founder (software developer) and make a solid run at achieving product/market fit over the next twelve months.

The Fall

Despite the fact that we’d validated our concept with sales and had a few hundred very happy customers, we were getting to the end of our cash runway and had yet to identify a specific channel into which we could scale up.

Our investors were giving us every indication they would continue to fund us going forward. Then my worst nightmare happened.

I had a perfect strategic investor give me a verbal commitment to support our next round of funding, but then one of his portfolio companies needed emergency financing, which meant he could no longer invest in WeMontage.

Then our main investors decided they didn’t want to “throw good money after bad” and backed out completely. Then they said they’d reconsider depending on what happened after our upcoming feature on The TODAY Show, without defining exactly what that meant.

Here’s the TODAY Show clip:

The Ashes

The TODAY Show segment was a relatively big success for WeMontage, generating our most monthly sales and customers to that point, for the month of April, 2014. But it didn’t matter, my investors still weren’t interested.

So, we were out of cash and my technical co-founder quit. And I spent the next two months feeling alone and watching daily wemontage.com traffic dwindle down to almost nothing.

This was a low point for me.

The Rebirth of The Phoenix

As Ben Horowitz said in his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, even when you don’t think you have a move, you have a move. The TODAY Show segment proved that relevant exposure would make a difference for WeMontage. So, my next move was to try and get on Shark Tank, which I summarized in a helpful post and fun social media recap here.  I am still waiting to hear if I’m going to LA.

And I was fortunate enough to participate in an NPR tech roundtable in July that also helped sales.

But the most important change I’ve made is the focus of which markets I’m targeting. I’m now laser focused on customer segments for which WeMontage solves a very specific problem: places where users can’t put nails in the walls, but have a need/desire to showcase photos.

For example, we are targeting college students in dorms who can’t put nails in walls, but have tons of selfies. And families in military housing who have to pay move out fees for putting nails in walls to hang photos. Here’s an example of a successful recent marketing campaign targeted at spouses living in military housing:

My Military Hero V 2 Final Revised

 

Conclusion

After the money went away, many of my advisors and some so-called friends also went away. Hardly anyone checked in with me to see how I was doing mentally and emotionally. This is really a shame because it was an incredibly difficult time for me and, if it wasn’t for the support of my wife and family, I could have easily gone down the depression rabbit hole, and only God knows where that hole leads.

Today I am grinding and am optimistic things will turn around. But at the same time I am grounded in the reality of the situation and have taken the advice of Seth Godin in his book, The Dip, and have established a date by which if things don’t show dramatic improvement, it will be time to move on.

But for now…ONWARD!

Have you had to pull a business back from the brink? If so, what did you do? Were your efforts successful? Tell me about it in the comments section.

Cheers!


Author information

James Oliver, Jr.
Co-founder of the world's cutest twins. Founder of WeMontage.com. Alum of the gener8tor.com startup accelerator and Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill (MBA). Cheeky. ESTP. Golf nut.

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Getting Too Personal on Facebook: Where Context Meets Creepy http://www.steamfeed.com/getting-personal-facebook-context-meets-creepy/ http://www.steamfeed.com/getting-personal-facebook-context-meets-creepy/#respond Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:42:10 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24676 I was intrigued when I happened to see Dan Sullivan’s post on Facebook. Dan is the Founder of Crowdly, a platform I call the anti-Facebook on Facebook. It’s premise is to encourage brands to identify and engage with its strongest advocates, without the need for advertising. I emailed Dan to understand the context of his post.  Here’s […]

Author information

Hessie Jones

CEO at ArCompany, and a seasoned digital strategist having held management positions for top Ad Agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience with launch successes like Yahoo! Answers. Hessie is also an active blogger/writer for ArCompany, Huffington Post, Digital Journal and WhatsYourTech.ca

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dsI was intrigued when I happened to see Dan Sullivan’s post on Facebook. Dan is the Founder of Crowdly, a platform I call the anti-Facebook on Facebook. It’s premise is to encourage brands to identify and engage with its strongest advocates, without the need for advertising.

I emailed Dan to understand the context of his post.  Here’s how he responded,

We really spend a significant amount of time engineering and measuring what causes a brand post to succeed or not, particularly looking at early engagement, subsequent engagement, second level engagement once shared, all kinds of story bump drivers, and how those contribute to the individual experience.

…We don’t dig in as deeply on personal, non-brand related posts, but Facebook definitely has a correlating but somewhat different algorithm for what friend posts you see at all, and with what frequency. Last number I saw, about 20% of your friends will be reached by your post, skewing heavily to a core group that you most frequently interact with (and have most overlap with).

For personal posts, FB is now purportedly parsing language in those posts to determine if they seem to be high value, which is why every engagement, new baby, new job, pregnancy post rockets to the top of your news feed from someone you went to high school with.

For this particular post, Dan was inspired by this article, “Tricking Facebook’s Algorithm” and he proceeded to follow a similar method , forcing a post on Facebook using “high impact words” and “important life events”.  The result:

From my perspective, absolutely a huge effect. I’ve only got 350 friends on Facebook, and had 65 likes so far, and 35 comments. The content of the post definitely prioritized it to my friends, and then the subsequent engagement as they played along further impacted it. By comparison, a high quality photo of my son high fiving the president got 73 likes (which this one is likely to pass) and when I announced my wife was pregnant with our twins on my birthday, I got 52 comments.

I continue to follow the evolution of data intelligence and the degree to which algorithms have gotten increasingly sophisticated to surface meaning more accurately and at a much faster rate.  Given these advances it’s important to understand:

  • how the world biggest social network is evolving its intelligence
  • how can it be applied and
  • what  this ultimately mean for brands and Facebook users

Getting Too Personal on Facebook_ Where

Semantic is the new black

I recently read a post from my colleague Daniel Newman: The Future of Marketing Is Semantic: Search Predicts The Future. The truth is,

…the idea of “Semantic” is to find meaning and or intent in someone’s words. But as of today through knowledge graphs, socially validated search and modified SEO, most of the intent is to bring clarity as to what is being searched for today.

To ensure that the user experience is meaningful, Semantic algorithms are applied to ensure the intended search query better match the results. Beyond “keywords”, this establishes a deeper mathematical understanding of language that’s more accurate and scalable.

For Facebook, its investment earlier this year in Vicarious FCP is a telling tale. I found this fascinating:

Vicarious has an ambitious goal: Replicating the neocortex, the part of the brain that sees, controls the body, understands language and does math. Translate the neocortex into computer code and “you have a computer that thinks like a person,” says Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix. “Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep.”

Enabling technology to solve the world’s problems [I'm simplifying]: “cure disease, find cheaper renewable energy sources”, let alone replicate the human thought process, sets a precedence for truly displacing the value of the human mind.

But I digress. While that’s the panacea, today, just being able to scale human intent is leaps and bounds ahead of simple keyword queries and provides Facebook the ability to datamine a goldmine of perceptions, behaviours, interactions that  predict likely outcomes. Sullivan indicated that Facebook is building deeper profiles of individuals – the type and frequency of interactions, the type of individuals users engage with, and the type of content that seems to resonate – nuanced insights that are extremely invaluable.

Keeping Brands on Facebook

Here’s the reality: The Newsfeed is NOT getting less cluttered. Advertisers continue to complain about the incessant cost of spending to be seen. According to Sullivan, only 5% of content on the newsfeed comes from brands. Marketers have been up in arms when it was reported, earlier this year, that brand Edgerank was on a steep decline . Enabling better reach of users on Facebook continues to be challenge that the social giant takes on.

Today, this is how Facebook determines a post success:  Posting an update on a Facebook Page will go out to a test audience of your users. Based on the types and level of interaction, Facebook will determine organic reach. This will give an indication, not only, the value of the post but also, the quality of your audience.  The latter is a different matter entirely that deserves a separate post.

Now, if Facebook were to provide the semantic capabilities that allowed Brands to score their posts before they were published, this would help solve the newsfeed problem. However, it also opens the doors to gaming. As per Dan’s experiment, by packing a post with e.g. highly emotional terms and milestone-type content may increase fan engagement, but, in the end leaves the brand highly suspect and disingenuous.

What about the User?

The user experience needs to be the priority. Zuckerberg knows this. How often have the ads on your page been eerily relevant to you? I often have the same conversation with friends who are served up dating ads, knowing the “type” of men, for whom they’re predisposed; weight solutions; depression help. Dan and I agreed: There is a fine line between context and creepy.

And there’s the rub. Relevance doesn’t translate into demand. And while we both agreed that privacy is a moving goal post, users on Facebook have only so much patience for content that encourages me to surface the things I want to remain secret.

Artificial intelligence has a long way to go in discerning relevance from true user value. As Dan noted, “Use the data to find context at a human level.” And once it advances to truly mimic human discretion, will we see significant impacts on user behaviour. Time will tell.


Author information

Hessie Jones
CEO at ArCompany, and a seasoned digital strategist having held management positions for top Ad Agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience with launch successes like Yahoo! Answers. Hessie is also an active blogger/writer for ArCompany, Huffington Post, Digital Journal and WhatsYourTech.ca

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Your SEO Insider: Penguin Update on the Way! http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-penguin-update-way/ http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-penguin-update-way/#respond Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:38:38 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24875 Don’t miss: Preparing for a Penguin update More on HTTPS – Google’s new Ranking Factor Local Pay Per Click Advertising? Identifying Quality Directory listings Everything you need to know from the world of Search Engines and SEO for the week of August 10th-16th, 2014. Enjoy! Organic Search Penguin Update Google’s Penguin algorithm update targeted poor […]

Author information

Brent Carnduff

I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat.

I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

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SEO Insider

Don’t miss:

  • Preparing for a Penguin update
  • More on HTTPS – Google’s new Ranking Factor
  • Local Pay Per Click Advertising?
  • Identifying Quality Directory listings

Everything you need to know from the world of Search Engines and SEO for the week of August 10th-16th, 2014. Enjoy!

Organic Search

Penguin Update

Google’s Penguin algorithm update targeted poor and unnatural backlinks, resulting in penalties and decreased search engine rankings for many sites.

For sites hit by Penguin, the recovery process includes identifying, and then removing or disavowing the bad links. Once completed, the site owner must then wait for the next Penguin update before any recovery can be realized. The last Penguin update was 10 months ago – October4th, 2013 – leaving many business owners and SEOs wondering when the next will be. This past week, Google addressed the challenges involved with an update, and indicated that one was coming soon.

Google: Refreshing Penguin is Not So Simple by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable

Is Google Launching Penguin 3 Today? by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable

How to Prepare Yourself for the Next Penguin Update by Asher Elran on KISSmetrics

 HTTPS: Google’s New Ranking Signal

The search world was abuzz this week with the news that Google has added HTTPS as a search engine ranking factor.

Google Confirms HTTPS as New Ranking Signal by David Towers on Econsultancy

HTTPS Now a Google Ranking Factor: Some Questions Answered by John Biundo on Stone Temple Consulting

SEO Industry Tweets Its Reactions to Google’s SSL Ranking Boost by Matt McGee on Search Engine Land

7 Things That Will Improve Your SEO More Than SSL by Erin Everhart on Search Engine Watch

Local Search Optimization

The recent Pigeon update for local search increased the influence that traditional Organic ranking factors have on Local search engine results.

The following article demonstrates how a strategy reflecting those changes might look. Julia’s landing page comparison is very good, and offers you the chance to learn to evaluate and improve your own local landing pages.

How to Win at Local Optimization Through Content by Julia McCoy on SEO.com

Google’s Experimenting with Pay-Per-Click Results in the Local Search Results.

Paid Local Pack Results? by Dan Leibson on Local SEO Guide

Link Building

Should those business Directory Listings be considered backlinks, citations, or an invitation for a Google penalty? Read on to find out how to evaluate the quality and value of a directory listing.

Is that Directory Link Unnatural? by Marie Haymes on Search Engine Watch

SEO Insight

Unlike so many ranking factors that are speculative, HTTPS is now a known SEO signal – something that you should be planning to implement on your website. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush out and change your site over right away. Google has said that it is not a very significant factor yet, but will probably grow to be more important in the future – giving you time to assess your best options and to see what works for others.

Thanks for reading! As always your questions, comments, and shares are welcomed and appreciated!


Author information

Brent Carnduff
I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat. I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

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Can Co-Creation and Relationship Marketing Improve Your Business? http://www.steamfeed.com/relationship-marketing-develop-valuable-co-creation-strategy/ http://www.steamfeed.com/relationship-marketing-develop-valuable-co-creation-strategy/#respond Sun, 17 Aug 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24569 Your customers want value. So let’ serve it up. One of the best ways to provide value for your customers is to understand and meet their needs. Effective relationship marketing will give you an understanding of their needs. The best way to meet those needs? Business legend Peter Drucker proposes that marketing is to know […]

Author information

Matt Crawford

Matt Crawford is a marketing executive with an accomplished career in digital media sales. His background is in the B2B sector and he has extensive experience in retail management and hospitality. Matt has worked with national and international brands as well as small to medium enterprises to help develop effective digital marketing strategies. His down to earth approach makes it easy for businesses to communicate their objectives and consequently achieve their goals.

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medium_11892679423Your customers want value. So let’ serve it up. One of the best ways to provide value for your customers is to understand and meet their needs. Effective relationship marketing will give you an understanding of their needs.

The best way to meet those needs? Business legend Peter Drucker proposes that marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him and sells itself. Leveraging relationship marketing to develop a valuable co-creation strategy enables businesses to improve areas such as productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

It’s all about your customers

Readers of my Social Strategies blog will be familiar with the principle made famous by Seth Godin: Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers. Also, relationship marketing and co-creation will help to develop your product or service offering to best meet the markets needs.

In this article you will learn about:

  • How relationship marketing can improve your business
  • Examples of successful co-creation strategies
  • Four ways small businesses and brands can utilise co-creation
  • Ideas to help get your team ready for co-creation

What is relationship marketing?

In ‘Relationship Marketing ~ A Consumer Experience Approach’, it suggests that the primary objective of relationship marketing (RM) is to develop and maintain a customer base that is committed to the brand and profitable for the business. RM focuses on not just attracting, but also retaining customers with the development of a long-term and profitable relationship. Philip Kotler, the author of Marketing Management, summarizes the concept perfectly by stating that the operating principle of RM is to build a good network of relationships with key stakeholders, where profits will follow.

Relationship marketing and co-creation is shaping businesses

Customer perceived value and how we create that value is evolving from a product or company-centric to a customer experience-focused method. Interactions between businesses and their key stakeholders are increasingly helping to shape businesses and their respective value propositions.

A great example of co-creation driving innovation is Proctor & Gamble’s 100% Open project. They describe it as an efficient method for generating insight. It’s a portal used to: listen, ideate, create, validate, evaluate and then ultimately develop products specifically for their target market. Just the economic saving in research and development alone makes this a viable concept.

Another company using co-creation to innovate their brand is Reckitt Benckiser. They have actually created a game to help develop customer centric marketing initiatives. The game doesn’t only serve as a marketing innovation strategy, but is structured so that it will also help to recruit outstanding marketing talent.

How to utilise co-creation for your business

Although big brands and enterprises are demonstrating compelling examples of co-creation and effective relationship marketing, small to medium sized businesses can use relationship marketing to develop a valuable co-creation strategy as well. Here are four ideas to help get you started:

1. Social Media Competitions

Social media can be a great starting point for relationship marketing and your co-creation strategy. Brand advocates and fans that are following your brand on social media are ready to engage with your business. By running strategic social media competitions to develop new ideas, products and services, businesses can identify opportunities, strengthen customer relationships and capture new market share.

2. Host a web page for ideas and requests

Similar to the examples above, businesses can direct website visitors to a dedicated webpage on the company website where customers, prospects, suppliers and other key stakeholders can submit ideas and requests. Specific fields can be set up to guide users and contributors through the process and to allow your business to capture targeted ideas and concepts for specific outcomes. An important part of the process is rewarding and recognizing the contributors (especially if their idea is developed). When designing the page be sure to consider this to ensure that the co-creation process is mutually beneficial.

3. Leverage existing customer data

Big data is everywhere and businesses can use data insights to connect with their market and develop their product or service offering. Sources of valuable customer data include:

  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Google Analytics
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database
  • Social media insights and analytics

IBM’s Institute for Business Value Global Consumer Study recently found that many customers are becoming more inclined to share their data with brands. However it also found that in return they expect that the process will help to shape their customer experience. By making the most of the data being collected businesses can adapt their customer experience to improve efficiency, give customers what they want, improve brand loyalty and increase market share.

4. Social media listening

Even brands with no established social media marketing strategy can gain important customer feedback and even profitable business development ideas from social media. The conversation about your brand (or at least your market) is happening on social media as you read this. If a brand advocate, customer, or even a potential prospect is suggesting something that could help advance your business, you’d want to know about that and make the most of it wouldn’t you? Why not respond to it, or even thank them for the feedback? It could be the start of a whole new customer engagement process and a co-creative relationship.

Preparing for co-creation

Technology is on your side. Start-ups like EziSay are developing platforms to provide real-time customer feedback and direct access to ideas and customer needs. Making it easy for your customers to connect with your brand has never been more important or valuable.

To help you prepare for co-creation here is a SlideShare presentation from Fronteer Strategy with 9 ways to get your team ready for co-creation.

Customer added value is more important than many businesses realise. Engaging and interacting with customers to help meet their specific needs is an excellent way to develop a deeper relationship with them. It also represents a previously unidentified opportunity to shape businesses and develop marketing strategies for economic growth based on a new level of customer loyalty and intimacy.

Connecting with your customers and serving their needs is essential in today’s marketplace. By using relationship marketing to develop a valuable co-creation strategy, businesses can serve there customers needs while encouraging them take ownership of the brand. The Infographic below from Demand Force has been designed to demonstrate the importance of relationship marketing to your business’ success. Please consider sharing this article to help brands with the co-creation process and to develop long lasting customer relationships. Thanks for reading and sharing.

relationship-marketing-co-creation-infographic

photo credit: Just Ard via photopin cc


Author information

Matt Crawford
Matt Crawford is a marketing executive with an accomplished career in digital media sales. His background is in the B2B sector and he has extensive experience in retail management and hospitality. Matt has worked with national and international brands as well as small to medium enterprises to help develop effective digital marketing strategies. His down to earth approach makes it easy for businesses to communicate their objectives and consequently achieve their goals.

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Social Media Mistakes You Should Stop Making Now http://www.steamfeed.com/back-school-social-media-basics/ http://www.steamfeed.com/back-school-social-media-basics/#respond Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:03:37 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24480 Over the past few months, I have noticed quite a new group of followers on my social media accounts.  I love being able to check out these new followers and find out what they do, because we all have to admit we like to look at who is following us. Human nature right? As I […]

Author information

Laurie Thompson

Project Manager and Social Media Manager at SiteMast

Laurie currently owns and operates SiteMast, which is where WordPress Web Design and Social Media meet. She also is a project manager and social media manager for K-3 Technologies in Atlanta. Diet Coke addict, Iowa Cyclones Football supporter, and animal lover. Can't wait to connect with everyone!

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medium_204934333Over the past few months, I have noticed quite a new group of followers on my social media accounts.  I love being able to check out these new followers and find out what they do, because we all have to admit we like to look at who is following us. Human nature right? As I have been “looky-looing’ through all of my new best friends, I was gently reminded of how many “social media experts” still use some of the biggest faux pas in social media. I thought it might be a good time to go back to school on some basic social media etiquette.

In today’s class we will be discussing:

  • Mistakes you are making on Twitter
  • Best practices you can use on Facebook
  • Tips for a better experience on G+

Twitter-Just Stop These Now!

Auto DM: One of my biggest pet peeves, when it comes to Twitter, is the Auto DM. Otherwise known as the Automatic Direct Message. Just stop this now. Please use this only if you are thanking someone for following you. I appreciate a thank you as much as the next person. I do not want an automatic DM from you discussing how I should like your Facebook page, or how you can save me so much money if you were my social media expert. I followed you because I thought you were interesting and we could work together, not to learn about how you are the “social media ninja” of the world. Yikes!

Egg Picture: If I see an egg picture, you will not get followed. Same for any kind of picture that does not represent your brand. If you are using Twitter for your company, please use your logo or a picture of someone within your company. I know this sounds like a simple concept, but you would be surprised at how many egg-followers I have pop up on my screen every week.

HashTag Happy: Yes, Twitter is one of the best places to use hashtags. Yes, I do recommend that you use hashtags, but do so responsibly! Every single word does not need to be a hashtag. I consider that spamming. If I see someone using hashtags for every single word, that leads to an unfollow. I do not want to see that in my feed. If you are going to use hashtags, do so considering your needs. If you live in Atlanta, then by all means use #Atlanta, but every word after that better not have a hashtag!

Homework for Twitter, check out this Huffington Post group of articles: Twitter Etiquette

Facebook-No Time Like The Present….

Give Credit: Give credit to posts that you find from other websites. Do not just post an article or picture without giving credit to the group/page you are sharing it from. It is so simple to just write out “Found via @”, and then start typing the name of the company that it came from. Quick, easy, and they will be so happy that you mentioned them you might get a thank you or a “like” from the group! Just think back to high school English, and how the teacher would remind you constantly to give where you found the information and what page you found it on. This applies to social media as well!

Too Personal: We all have our opinions, and most of them are good opinions, but your business profile is not the time or place to be getting into heated discussions. You can alienate customers or potential followers if you decide to use your business page as a social platform for change. A great example of this would be the Ebola discussion that seems to continue on, even with the patients now in Atlanta. I have seen this discussion pop up on a few Atlanta based company pages, and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, there is a time and a place to discuss these opinions. Think before you speak. All this can do is create anger and potentially turn off customers who are coming to your profile to get to know your company.

Hashtags: I know this is a debated topic where some people say hashtags have worked for them on Facebook, and others who hate hashtags on Facebook with a passion. I am one of those people who thinks that you should hold off on hashtags unless you have data to prove that hashtags are working on this platform. I have tried hashtags on quite a few social profiles that I work on, and to this day, I have not seen the benefits of it on Facebook. If you are going to use hashtags, use them with meaning. If you are an Atlanta Plumber, then go ahead and do “#atlanta #plumber”, please don’t hashtag anything else!

Homework for Facebook, check out this Huffington Post group of articles: Facebook Etiquette

Google+ – Bueller…Bueller?

Give Credit: Again, just like Facebook, give credit where it is due. Do not post something, and not mention where the information came from! It is so simple on Google+, you type “+” and then start to type the name or company and Google should find the name for you. Again, this is just basic, simple social media consideration. You do not want to have someone call you out on Google+ because you put content out there, and didn’t give credit.

Hashtags:  (Are we seeing a theme here?) Just like the above, use hashtags when appropriate! Google+ is a great place to use hashtags, but only when they apply to what you are talking about. If see a post with every single word used in a hashtag, I consider that keyword spamming. Or you are just trying to hit every keyword you can think of so maybe someone likes your post. If you are an Atlanta clothing boutique, use the hashtag for #Atlanta #ClothingBoutique, and not every other word in the post.

Profile Picture:  Just like Twitter, if you do not have a social media profile picture, then I question why you are on this platform, and why are you “circling” with me? It is all about human connection, and that means having a profile picture to show off your company logo or someone within the company. Don’t be shy, let us see who you are and who we are interacting with! Plus, you can always touch up a photo using Canva or PicMonkey if you are unsure about what images to put up. (Free tools!)

Homework for Google+, check out The Social Media Hat article: How Not To Use Google+

Now that we have had our refresher course in some social media “no-no’s”, and you have completed all of your required homework reading, I look forward to connecting out with you in the social sphere.

What social media “no-no’s” drive you crazy?

P.S. I have made many of these social media faux pas, and have learned from every one. If in doubt, always ask someone to take a look over your profiles and see what you can improve on. Never hurts to have a second pair of eyes check everything out!


Author information

Laurie Thompson
Project Manager and Social Media Manager at SiteMast
Laurie currently owns and operates SiteMast, which is where WordPress Web Design and Social Media meet. She also is a project manager and social media manager for K-3 Technologies in Atlanta. Diet Coke addict, Iowa Cyclones Football supporter, and animal lover. Can't wait to connect with everyone!

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How to Solve 7 Common Cash Flow Problems http://www.steamfeed.com/how-to-solve-cash-flow-problems/ http://www.steamfeed.com/how-to-solve-cash-flow-problems/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:55:29 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24520 Every company runs into cash flow problems at one time or another. Learning how to identify them early on is important. It allows you to manage them effectively and solve them quickly. This article: Teaches you how to identify the seven most common cash flow problems Provides practical solutions that you can use now Helps you determine if […]

Author information

Marco Terry

Marco Terry
Managing Director at Commercial Capital LLC

Marco Terry is the managing director and founder of Commercial Capital LLC and Commercial Capital LLC (Canada). He provides invoice financing to small and midsize companies that need working capital. For more information, please call (877) 300 3258.

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How to Solve 7 Common Cash Flow Problems
Every company runs into cash flow problems at one time or another. Learning how to identify them early on is important. It allows you to manage them effectively and solve them quickly. This article:

  1. Teaches you how to identify the seven most common cash flow problems
  2. Provides practical solutions that you can use now
  3. Helps you determine if you are over your head and need outside help

Problem #1: High overhead costs

Overhead costs are expenses that are not directly related to the specific delivery of your product or service. Examples include rent, electricity, and some salaries.

These costs are important to the business but can easily get out of hand. This problem can affect companies that are growing quickly. They impact the bottom line but contribute little to your revenues.

Action steps

You can fix this problem by going through your business looking for resources that are not essential. Then, cut back on those resources. Be careful and avoid cutting overhead to the point it affects your ability to run the company.

Problem #2: Too much money tied in inventory

Managing inventory is difficult, especially for small business. It requires a very delicate balance. Too little inventory can affect operations and delay orders. Too much inventory, on the other hand, just sits in a warehouse unused.

Having excess inventory is expensive. It ties up cash and often leads to cash flow problems.

Action steps

You can solve this problem by managing your inventory more carefully. Make sure that you have enough inventory to service your clients, but not too much more. Unfortunately, managing inventory is difficult. It usually requires expensive systems that few small businesses can afford.

A short-term solution to fix this problem is to use inventory financing. It allows you to convert inventory into cash. While inventory financing is costly, it can provide funds to operate the business during tight times.

Problem #3: Slow-paying customers

Large clients usually ask for payment terms as a condition of doing business. As such, you have to allow them 30 - 90 days to pay an invoice. Offering payment terms is a cost of doing business. However, slow paying invoices tie up your cash. This can lead to cash flow problems.

Action steps

There are a few ways to solve this problem. One option is to offer clients an early payment discount. A 2% discount on the invoice in exchange for a payment in 10 days often works well. This simple technique can improve your cash flow quickly.

If your clients cannot pay early, you can use financing to improve your working capital. Small companies can use options like Microloans or invoice factoring to accomplish this.

Larger companies that can’t qualify for a business loan should consider asset based lending. These allow you to finance accounts receivable and other company assets. They provide you with immediate funds to pay company expenses.

Here is more information about asset-based loans.

Problem #4: Adding too many customers too quickly

This problem is related to the previous problem. Your company can run into cash flow problems if you add too many customers too quickly. This can be hard for business owners to see at first.  Entrepreneurs always think that growth is good.

The following chart shows an oversimplified example of a business that is adding $100,000 in sales every month. However, they are also collecting invoices in 60 days. Notice how long it takes to eliminate the operating deficit, as shown by the green table row. cash flow statement growth

Action steps

Fixing the financial part of this problem is relatively simple as long as you can manage the operational demands of growth. Just as with the previous problem, use financing to cover the cash flow gap until your company is financially strong. You can use a business loan, a line of credit, factoring, or an asset-based loan to do this.

Problem #5: Non-paying customers

Customers who don’t pay their invoices generate bad debt. Bad debt erodes your profitability and affects your cash flow. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

Action steps

Remember the golden rule of customer credit: a sale is only a loan until the customer pays. The easiest way to avoid bad debt is to charge all your customers up front. Unfortunately, this approach does not work well for corporate and government sales. Commercial and government customers always demand net 30 to net 60-day terms.

You can reduce bad debt by checking the commercial credit of your clients. Credit reports are affordable.  They are available from companies such as Dun and Bradstreet, Ansonia, Experian Commercial, and Cortera.

Problem #6: Low profit margins

One common source of cash flow problems is low profit margins. Companies in competitive industries face this problem constantly. They must lower prices to remain competitive. The problem is that they often lower prices to the point where they generate small profits or, worse, a loss.

Many business owners don’t know the actual “all-in” cost of delivering their product or service. This lack of understanding can lead to costly pricing mistakes. These mistakes often go unnoticed at first, but they eventually lead to serious cash flow problems.

Problems due to low profit margins usually suggest a serious problem with the business. This matter requires immediate action by individuals with finance and business operations experience.

Action steps

Given the seriousness of this problem, consider retaining an outside financial expert. Evaluate your business with your finance team and determine the actual “all-in” cost of your services.

Develop a strategy that supports a profitable business operation. Never price your products/services so low that you do not generate sufficient profit.

Problem #7: An extremely large order

Small businesses often regard a very large order from a choice client as a sign of success. Large orders turn into large deliveries, which bring substantial profits, right? Well, only if you have the resources to deliver the order while running the rest of your business. Otherwise, you have a problem.

If you don’t have the resources to deliver the order, you face a stark choice. You can take the order but risk running into cash flow problems. Alternatively, you can pass on the order and let a competitor win the client. Neither alternative is attractive.

Action steps

A very large order can actually put you out of business if you are not careful. One option is to get term credit from your vendors. You can fulfill the order if you can convince your vendors to give you credit for as long as it takes you to deliver the order and get paid. This is difficult to negotiate, but it can be done if your production and payment cycles are short enough.

Another option is to use purchase order financing (get more information). PO financing helps to pay for supplier expenses related to an order. This allows you to deliver the order and book the revenue. The transaction settles once your client pays for the order.

Should you get outside help?

Every company runs into financial problems from time to time. If your business is regularly having financial problems, consider hiring an expert.

Cash flow problems, especially complex ones, can come from many sources. They are difficult to identify and  fix. They often require a professional.

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc


Author information

Marco Terry
Marco Terry
Managing Director at Commercial Capital LLC
Marco Terry is the managing director and founder of Commercial Capital LLC and Commercial Capital LLC (Canada). He provides invoice financing to small and midsize companies that need working capital. For more information, please call (877) 300 3258.

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6 Noteworthy Ways to Drive Shares for Your Content http://www.steamfeed.com/6-noteworthy-ways-drive-shares-content/ http://www.steamfeed.com/6-noteworthy-ways-drive-shares-content/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:24:12 +0000 http://blog.atomicreach.com/?p=12464 I hit ‘share’ on my content but no one is clicking, why? What elements within a social media update should be optimized for maximum visibility? The key to getting your content shared is to make sure it’s shareable. If it’s optimized for everyone to share then your posts can spread like wildfire. Here are 6 ways […]

Author information

Atomic Reach

We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.13.26 AM

AR-6NoteworthyWays-645x300

I hit ‘share’ on my content but no one is clicking, why?

What elements within a social media update should be optimized for maximum visibility?

The key to getting your content shared is to make sure it’s shareable. If it’s optimized for everyone to share then your posts can spread like wildfire. Here are 6 ways to help make your content go viral.

 

1. Write for your audience

This is the first, and most important, no-fail tip to making sure you get as many eyeballs on your posts as possible. When you know who your audience is, you can perfect your message for them. Great content for real people will always find an audience. This is the only way you will build loyal readers, repeat customers and ultimately better ROI. It just so happens that I know a great tool to help you write for your audience and it’s our Atomic Engager. Paired with the Atomic Reach platform, you’re able to see how your content performs when you write (or don’t write) to your audience’s needs.

2. Rise above the Twitter torrent

Sometimes it feels like Twitter is a fiercely fast-moving stream of tweets. Don’t get caught up in the tide. Instead, make sure you nail these elements in a tweet to stand out from the crowd.

a) Headline – What you’re going to say in your tweet is the most important element to optimize. Make it count.

b) Emotion - Inject emotion into your tweets! The best emotion to use is happiness as it is the main driver for social media sharing as studied by Fractl.

top-10-emotions

c) Image – make sure that you attach an image to your tweet (if you have one). This will definitely help you visually stand out in a busy stream of tweets. By Buffer’s numbers, tweets with photos outperform those without. Tweets with photos get 18 percent more clicks and 150 percent more retweets.

3. Facebook

Everyone’s been affected by Facebook’s algorithm of declining fan reach. It seems that the more they change it, the more lost we are. So far (before they change it again), here are some sure-fire tips to grow your reach:

  • Pay for advertising on Facebook.
  • Personally ask others (friends and family) to share your content on their Facebook to reach new audiences.
  • Always post an image. Images perform better than regular ol’ text.
  • Follow these tips below.

Screen-Shot-2013-08-12-at-7.17.40-PM

4. Pinterest

If you use images in your blog, it’s worth pinning them if you’d like to reach a new visual audience. Even as a B2B company, Pinterest surprisingly drives traffic back to our site and it is always on our top 10 referral site.
Also, when it comes to driving traffic, Facebook and Pinterest are head and shoulders above their social networking peers. Just take a look at Shareaholic’s study.

5. StumbleUpon

If you’re wondering who came in third place on Shareaholic’s study – yes, you guessed it - it’s StumbleUpon. Facebook, Pinterest and StumbleUpon saw the strongest traffic gains from September to December of 2013. And more specifically, StumbleUpon’s share grew a whopping 54.36 percent.
social-media-traffic-report-Jan-14-stats2

6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn expanded its platform to include a news app called LinkedIn Pulse. A bold content marketing move, it lets members and influencers publish original content directly on the network. It is fast becoming a fantastic source of resourceful content.
So there you have it. 6 Noteworthy ways to drive shares for your content.
I’d love to hear what tips you might have, share yours in the comment section!

The post 6 Noteworthy Ways to Drive Shares for Your Content appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog :: Content Marketing & Scoring Engine.

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Atomic Reach
We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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13 Steps to Master the Flow State in Your Powerful Blog http://www.steamfeed.com/13-steps-master-flow-state-powerful-blog/ http://www.steamfeed.com/13-steps-master-flow-state-powerful-blog/#respond Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:58:37 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24584 The Flow State Improves Your Writing Ability and Performance   In this article you will learn the following about flow state: A definition and the significance it has in your blogging community. Examples of the flow state in action and how to make it happen. Specific steps to take in order to locate the flow state […]

Author information

Darin L. Hammond

Owner and Professional Writer at ZipMinis Freelance Writing

Say hello to Darin at his website about the science of blogging and writing: http://www.zipminis.com. He blogs there and writes and designs professionally.

Darin publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Business2Community LifeHack, and Social Media Today. SteamFeed is his favorite place to write, of course.

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The Flow State Improves Your Writing Ability and Performance
scuba diver represents deep learning and flow state

Finding deep learning and flow state through your blog benefits both you and your reader.

 

In this article you will learn the following about flow state:

  • A definition and the significance it has in your blogging community.
  • Examples of the flow state in action and how to make it happen.
  • Specific steps to take in order to locate the flow state in your writing, benefiting you and your readers.

I first found writing flow in college

I found the flow state in writing as a college freshman. My history professor hit me with a 12 page research report on a subject of my choice, and I panicked. I had never written anything so long. In high school, I either found a creative way to avoid research projects, or trudged through small papers mindlessly. Writing was my enemy as a freshman at the University of Idaho.

The experience transformed me as a writer and student because my instructor empowered me with the freedom choose my topic and approach. I picked the origins of the King Arthur legends, quickly becoming immersed in the details of the story, the history, the fiction, and the writing process. As I passed small hurdles, like figuring out how to find a book, I felt proud.

The project became my own and not the teacher’s assignment. I found a love for research, reading, and writing. I breathed Arthurian legend.  The instructor marked the paper a 97%, but that was not important. I was happy. My life had changed, and I loved to learn.

I had discovered my passion in “learning flow.”

Positive psychology describes the flow state in learning, working, and blogging

Have you ever experienced working on a difficult problem that seemed impossible?  How did you respond? Sometimes you engage a problem that challenges your skills and knowledge and that motivates you to work regardless of any prize or award you might win. You obsess over the problem, knowing that you can resolve with your talents. But, the problem is tough, and you immerse yourself in the task, the work and learning becoming an enjoyable challenge. This is a state of flow, which The Handbook of Psychology describes as:

engaging just-manageable challenges by tackling a series of goals, continuously processing feedback about progress, and adjusting action based on this feedback. Under these conditions, experience seamlessly unfolds from moment to moment and one enters a subjective state.

Flow is part of the positive psychology movement and helps in all aspects of  life. When the conditions are right, you enter a zone where you think and feel different. You become mindful and present, at one with your work. You find working  enjoyable, just as I did with my King Arthur paper.  You feel:

  • Mindfulness, with heightened concentration in the present moment on the specific, challenging task at hand.
  • Happy when you complete small goals that build up to the grand task.
  • A meshing actions and focus seamlessly.
  • Unaware of your surroundings and your role as a worker within a community.
  • A sense of control over your environments, thoughts, feelings and actions because you believe that your knowledge and skills will eventually help you reach the end goal.
  • A disruption of time - time seems to speed up, slow down, or cease to exist.
  • No concern about failing because the work is an end by itself.
  • Pride and reward in the action and work alone, without any other prize than the process and the solution.

The task and labor are satisfying and even exhilarating. You test out your capabilities and find that you are competent, even though you had to stretch to reach your goal. You prove to yourself that you are worthy, and this boosts your self esteem and competence. You are lost in the cause and forget all distractions.

Consider your blog. Does this describe the way you feel about it? Does it portray your reader’s experience as they process your posts? If not, making the necessary changes will increase the happiness of in your online community. Perhaps the most difficult part of creating writing flow is finding the required level of difficulty in writing and reading your blog.

In a state of flow you find a balance between too difficult and too easy

Not just any task will do. The project must fit your skills and knowledge. If writing a whole book is too difficult for your language abilities, you will feel anxiety, but if writing a small, personal blog post is too easy, you will become bored. So, the writing project  has to be a  perfect fit, matching your abilities, but pushing you a little further. The push is gratifying rather than discouraging and is essential to flow.

The flow state is a delicate balance between being challenging and being frustrated.

The flow state is a delicate balance between being challenging and being frustrated.

Either you, a mentor, or a teacher must design the project so that it meets this criteria, or you will miss the zone in the image above. Analyze your writing abilities and determine how much you can push yourself. This self-knowledge requires thinking and analysis, and the project needs careful planning.

The payoff comes in many forms of success including deep learning. You learn  more efficiently and the skills last longer. Your mental state of flow makes learning enjoyable.

In the flow state, you find happiness and fulfillment for you and your blog readers

Although you might think that a leisurely lifestyle will make you happy, you are wrong. Research in positive psychology has shown that:

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Hard work rather than lounging makes you happy Take a moment to see  Csikszentmihalyi elaborate on how flow generates happiness in his fascinating Ted Talk:

Specific steps to help find the flow state for you and your reader

Initially, the  flow state may seem illusive or impossible, but you can take specific actions to make your blog a space where writer and reader enter the flow state. You have to know yourself and your audience well in order to fine tune your blog on a psychological level. Your purpose is  to push yourself and your reader a little beyond present capacity.

Try taking these actions  to work the flow state into your blog. Feel free to use this resource, and please provide a link back to http://www.zipminis.com:

Steps to achieve the Flow State in Writing.

Steps to achieve the Flow State in Writing.

With practice you will enter the state of flow often, but it’s something that you always have to think about. It usually does not happen on its own, but is carefully crafted. Good luck as you work towards the flow state.

Could you share with us an experience that you have had with the flow state? What techniques help you enter the zone? I’d love to hear your comments and I will reply promptly.


Author information

Darin L. Hammond
Owner and Professional Writer at ZipMinis Freelance Writing
Say hello to Darin at his website about the science of blogging and writing: http://www.zipminis.com. He blogs there and writes and designs professionally. Darin publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Business2Community LifeHack, and Social Media Today. SteamFeed is his favorite place to write, of course.

The post 13 Steps to Master the Flow State in Your Powerful Blog appeared first on SteamFeed.

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3 Reasons You Should To Stop Complaining About Facebook Messenger http://www.steamfeed.com/3-reasons-stop-complaining-facebook-messenger/ http://www.steamfeed.com/3-reasons-stop-complaining-facebook-messenger/#respond Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:52:30 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24622 I remember the day like it was yesterday. Facebook had just rolled out it’s News Feed as a part of its “facelift” in an effort to create more conversation, engagement, and reduction of social friction among its users. Users were livid and demanded action. Groups sprang up overnight with hundreds of thousands of users to […]

Author information

Albert Qian

Albert Qian is a social media professional working, living and playing in Silicon Valley. He got his start in social media by working for Santa Clara University and jumping into Facebook pages in May 2009. Ever since, he has been engrossed in social media, marketing, program management and consulting for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies and individuals looking to learn more social media. On his free time, he enjoys hiking, bowling, eating out at new places and traveling. You can learn more about him on his blog.

The post 3 Reasons You Should To Stop Complaining About Facebook Messenger appeared first on SteamFeed.


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I remember the day like it was yesterday. Facebook had just rolled out it’s News Feed as a part of its “facelift” in an effort to create more conversation, engagement, and reduction of social friction among its users. Users were livid and demanded action. Groups sprang up overnight with hundreds of thousands of users to protest what they then-considered an egregious action by Mark Zuckerberg and co. alongside the then-heinous “mini feed” on everyone’s Facebook profile that displayed every single action that someone performed — just short of who they may have unfriended that day.

The latest culprit is Facebook Messenger. From the negative feedback to horrible conversion to the usual discussion about Facebook’s ignoring of privacy, which includes frightening things from the terms and conditions which include being able to listen to your voice.  This conversation spilled into our own SteamFeed group the other week, with group member Jessica Ann asking the question everyone’s been answering the past couple of weeks. Much like the controversy itself, this status update was a mixture of yes, no, and there’s a lot more to consider.

fb messenger

What the history of technology teaches us is that even though the calendar flips, the issues seem to remain the same and manifest themselves in conversations that repeat themselves over and over again. We all feared the Internet at some point, waxed about the seemingly inevitable death of email, thought that video games would be a passing fad in the ’80s, and bemoaned the incredulity of text messaging as it was going to ruin conversation forever. And as with all things human beings tend to complain about, the Internet is still here, video games are more popular than ever, and we would probably skip dinner if it meant that we could text with our best friends for just 5 minutes longer.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while we might care a lot about Facebook Messenger and it’s purported privacy issues right now, in the long run, neither you nor I will seem to care, and we shouldn’t. I might be a millennial and we may have shirked privacy altogether, but in many ways, this is more. With Messenger, I feel like we’ll just use it and be done with it – and I’ve got 3 reasons why:

  1. You gave up your privacy long before any this debate even mattered: Have you checked your email lately? Do you notice that the ads are eerily relevant to you? That’s not a mistake. Google does that for you if you use Gmail and hasn’t tried to hide its interests. If you’re reading this you also likely own a cell phone, credit card, and have a bank account too. Your cell phone records are kept somewhere and you are likely being tracked as well for all the texting, emailing, and data consuming you’re doing, and if you’ve spent or made any money lately likely someone knows about that as well. The fact of the matter is no matter what you are doing these days, if it involves technology, you’ve likely surrendered before you even knew it unless you decide to go completely off the grid. With Messenger, the train left the station a long time ago.
  2. You work in digital marketing: The important thing to remember about working digital marketing is to never forget that while we help others sell their products and tell great stories, we’re also the product ourselves. As consumers of Facebook ads, the Insights platform as well as manipulating the EdgeRank Algorithm for our own engagement metric gains, it’s important to remember that we are the product that Facebook wants us to be. In many ways we gave up our privacy a long time ago in order to make an income and provide for ourselves or our family. As the product we can also change its direction, but as the News Feed feature has shown us, we’ll complain now and just give-in later. I for one, see that happening as-is.
  3. You do have a choice: Facebook users are glued to their devices and the platform. We spend 40 minutes per day looking at cat photos, arguing about politics, creating memes and sharing our food photos and remember, this is just the average. The ubiquity of social media has brought us closer together but not necessarily in the way that builds community, but rather a way that keeps us glued to our computers. Facebook messenger invading our lives might seem like the scariest thing in the world, but what it ought to do is motivate us to take our conversations offline to where social media really should be: in person.

In closing, Facebook Messenger is no doubt controversial, and might pose a problem to many, but at the end of the day it really isn’t that big of a deal. I think it’s a passing fad — and just another thing people on Facebook are complaining about today.

Tomorrow? Not so much.


Author information

Albert Qian
Albert Qian is a social media professional working, living and playing in Silicon Valley. He got his start in social media by working for Santa Clara University and jumping into Facebook pages in May 2009. Ever since, he has been engrossed in social media, marketing, program management and consulting for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies and individuals looking to learn more social media. On his free time, he enjoys hiking, bowling, eating out at new places and traveling. You can learn more about him on his blog.

The post 3 Reasons You Should To Stop Complaining About Facebook Messenger appeared first on SteamFeed.

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6 Free (or Cheap) Tools Every Startup Must Use http://www.steamfeed.com/6-free-cheap-tools-every-startup-must-use/ http://www.steamfeed.com/6-free-cheap-tools-every-startup-must-use/#respond Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:19:59 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24503 While all things ‘cheap’ maybe looked down upon in the past as poor quality, limited utility or even short-lived; in the technology world, cheap means efficient. And smart. And must-have. If cheap is so desirable, don’t even get me started on the upsides of free! Any startup worth its salt would be doing itself a […]

Author information

Pratik Dholakiya

Co-Founder at E2M

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M & OnlyDesign. The primary focus of E2M is on content marketing and leveraging its potential to generate revenue for clients. OnlyDesign helps companies build a better web & mobile presence. Get in touch with him on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.

The post 6 Free (or Cheap) Tools Every Startup Must Use appeared first on SteamFeed.


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While all things ‘cheap’ maybe looked down upon in the past as poor quality, limited utility or even short-lived; in the technology world, cheap means efficient. And smart. And must-have. If cheap is so desirable, don’t even get me started on the upsides of free!

Any startup worth its salt would be doing itself a favor by reducing costs every way it possibly can. Going with free or even cheap tools in place of expensive software or hefty salaries seems like a good idea.

Here’s my take on the top 6 free or cheap tools every startup must consider using.

   1. ShopIntegrator

 

A great shopping cart plug-in that fits the description of ‘Fit it and forget it’ to a ‘T’. ShopIntegrator turns any website, blog or even mobile site into an e-commerce site with just the integration of its store add-in and shopping cart.

ShopIntegrator lets you design your shopping cart or checkout process to match the look and feel of the rest of your site. If you don’t have a site yet, but want to start selling online, you can even build your own e-commerce site from scratch using ShopIntegrator.

ShopIntegrator
It takes care of integrating with a choice of different third-party payment processors while offering PCI compliant payment security for all transactions. Another key feature is end-to-end order management including inventory management and shipping.

Pricing: Lifetime free option for stores selling 50 items or less. Paid plans start at $9.50/month.

   2. Boomerang

Every new startup needs to keep in constant touch with people that it needs to help it grow; whether key customer accounts or angel investors or even vendors and technology partners.

Boomerang is a simple follow-up tool that fits right in with your Gmail, Google Apps or Outlook email account and reminds you to get back in touch with key individuals at times pre-set by you. Boomerang lets you set an email reminder for important events.

Boomerang
It reminds you to follow up on emails that you did not receive any response from. You can schedule emails to be sent at a later date, schedule emails to be delivered on a recurring basis, send read receipts for your emails, even learn which links were clicked on by the recipients.

Pricing: Boomerang offers a basic free for life plan, while many features like read receipts and click tracking are available only in the paid plans that start at just $4.99/month.

   3. Invoiceable

A free, yes, totally free invoicing tool; Invoiceable lets you create and send out invoices. You can even track outstanding payments and follow up on pending payments directly through Invoiceable. Unlike many other apps, there’s no upper limit on the number of invoices you can create or the number of customers that you can service. It even provides you with 256-bit SSL security for your invoices for complete peace of mind.

InvoiceableThere’s a tiny catch though. All your invoices will come with a ‘Created using Invoiceable’ disclaimer on them. If you prefer to not advertise for Invoiceable through each invoice you send out you can simply pay a one-time fee of GBP 49 and have completely custom invoices for your business.

Pricing: Free with a small line advertising the service on each invoice. Upgrade to a completely ad-free experience for GBP 49 (one-time fee).

   4. Wave

Another great accounting app, Wave is actually a favorite among startups. Wave incorporates most things that any business would need from a finance and accounting app. It creates and sends out unlimited number of invoices, it manages your cashflows and does actual double entry book-keeping completely automatically.

Wave

For a small fee, it can also take care of your payroll issues and accept payments on the invoices that you send out. What’s more you can even stay on top of budgeting, investments and personal finances with Wave.

Pricing: Accounting, Invoicing, Personal Finance – Free. Payroll – starts at $9/month. Payment processing – 30 cents + 2.9% per transaction.

   5. Page Speed Grader

A startup needs to ensure that it is performing at peak capacity to stay ahead of well-established competition. One important factor that gives any website the competitive edge is its speed or lack thereof.

Page Speed Grader is a beautifully simple (and totally FREE) tool that measures the speed of your website, tells you how you rank with respect to competition and gives you a breakup of all the various elements that affect your page speed.

Page Speed Grader

Even though it is a free app, Page Speed Grader goes one step further and tells you exactly what problem areas are slowing down your site and gives you the solutions to fix each of these problems.

Pricing: Free

   6. Square

The forerunner in portable POS systems, Square remains a startup favorite to this day, and for good reason. With just a small card reader attachment, shaped like what else but a square; this simple app allows you to accept payments anytime, anywhere.

Square

Replace your bulky POS in your retail store with a simple iPad that runs Square’s software and its card reader attachment to get going in minutes. At a trade show? Sell while on the move by accepting payments via your mobile phone running Square. Square accepts all major credit cards and deposits the payment into your account within one to two business days. You can even choose to manually enter credit card details into Square if you don’t have the Square card reader on you. Customers sign off on the screen of your iPad, iPhone or Android device and the payment gets transferred.

Square can send receipts to the customer via email or print one right away through a connected printer. Apply discounts, tips, refunds, loyalty points and taxes with equal ease on Square.

Pricing: Free card reader, no monthly fee and no fixed one- time fee. Just a transaction fee of 2.75% per transaction for card swipes and 3.5% + 35 cents for manually entered credit card transactions. The transaction fee gets lower as the volume of transactions crosses Square’s minimum threshold.

In Closing

A penny saved is truly a penny earned, especially in the early days of any business. Use these simple, smart and almost free apps to reduce your business expenses, while simultaneously maximizing your efficiencies.


Author information

Pratik Dholakiya
Co-Founder at E2M
Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M & OnlyDesign. The primary focus of E2M is on content marketing and leveraging its potential to generate revenue for clients. OnlyDesign helps companies build a better web & mobile presence. Get in touch with him on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.

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4 Ways To Collect Data Without Losing Customer Trust http://www.steamfeed.com/4-ways-collect-data-trust/ http://www.steamfeed.com/4-ways-collect-data-trust/#respond Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:12:29 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24445 Analytics are more powerful now than ever. With the tools available, companies can see not only who visited their website, but also where a user’s mouse traveled on the page and how he spent his time. More and more companies are discovering the power of analytics, but unfortunately, consumer wariness of data collection is at […]

Author information

Danny Wajcman

Co-founder and Vice President at Lucky Orange

Danny Wajcman is the co-founder and vice president of sales and operations at Lucky Orange, the premier service for website optimization and improvement. Using Lucky Orange, you can understand visitor behaviors, diagnose trouble areas in your conversion funnel, determine causes of abandonment, and evaluate your website optimization to measure success.

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collect data-2

Analytics are more powerful now than ever. With the tools available, companies can see not only who visited their website, but also where a user’s mouse traveled on the page and how he spent his time.

More and more companies are discovering the power of analytics, but unfortunately, consumer wariness of data collection is at an all-time high. With companies ranging from Path to P.F. Chang’s making headlines, consumers are wary of data breaches and companies misusing their information.

Because of this wariness, it’s important that we cover:

  1. Which types of tools can be used freely — and which cannot.
  2. How you can ensure that users’ data is secure.
  3. How to approach customers about gaining access to their data.
  4. Whether data should be reviewed anonymously or not — and how to determine how much you need.

With analytics, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too. You can harness the power of in-depth insights without losing your customers’ trust.

Valuable Tools That Should Be Handled With Care

Let’s take a look at some of the sophisticated tools that can help you optimize your website (but also cause your users concern):

  • Visitor recordings capture unique browsing sessions — everything from mouse location to clicks and scrolls. They can be played back like a movie so you can see how visitors are using your website. Depending on implementation, sensitive or personally identifiable information could be captured during recordings. However, many of these tools can be configured to record user activity in a completely anonymous fashion.
  • Form analytics can help you streamline forms to increase conversions. Form analytics can tell you where users give up and how long the process takes. But to capture this information, you need to capture keystrokes. If the data isn’t encrypted, sensitive information could be stolen or misused.
  • Co-browsing allows you to watch users in real time. As their mouse moves, you can watch them interact with your site. This can be done anonymously, but this type of data collection can make customers uncomfortable.
  • Offline tracking and onboarding have the potential to turn users off completely if not handled well. Tracking users’ offline habits, such as recent purchases or the kind of car they drive, has incredible marketing potential but can be scary for users. Likewise, onboarding — tracking people by their real names for marketing purposes — can annoy or anger your users.

Gaining Customers’ Confidence and Keeping Their Trust

Protecting users’ privacy and making sure they feel comfortable browsing your site doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of in-depth analytics tools. It just means you need to take extra care with what you do with that information.

1. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. This goes for any user information you gather online or offline. Encrypting user data helps ensure your customers’ information is secure, even if it falls into the wrong hands. Telling your customers how their data is encrypted will go a long way toward making them feel safe.

2. Ask for permission, not forgiveness. While user data should be obscured, your data collection practices shouldn’t be. Be clear about the data you’re collecting from users and why. Ideally, you should let your customers opt in (instead of out) so the decision is theirs from the start. (If not, make it easy for customers to opt out.)

This doesn’t mean customers won’t share data with you — especially if you offer them value in return. According to a recent survey, users are willing to exchange their information for free content, discounts, and other incentives, provided that marketers are transparent.

3. Keep customers’ data anonymous. The behavior of your customers is valuable, but that doesn’t mean you need to know exactly who is browsing your site. In fact, much of this data is more valuable in aggregate, free of identifying information.

Distinguishing HTML should be discarded, and storing IP addresses is becoming illegal in many countries. Make sure your customers know their behavior and identity are separate and that you’re not tracking them on an identifiable level.

4. Only collect the data you need. It can be tempting to collect as much data as you can and store it on a server, but collecting data you don’t intend to use is a waste of resources and can scare customers.

Big data can make customers nervous, but your data practices don’t have to. Just remember that it’s up to your company to be clear about what data its gathering and what the data is being used for. If your customers know exactly why you want their data, they’ll be more likely to share it with you and trust your business.

Analytics can provide unbelievably clear insight into consumers’ habits and attitudes, but collecting data can also too easily alienate the very people we want information from. That means we have to protect our users first and focus on data second. What kind of data do you collect? What safeguards do you use to put customers at ease?


Author information

Danny Wajcman
Co-founder and Vice President at Lucky Orange
Danny Wajcman is the co-founder and vice president of sales and operations at Lucky Orange, the premier service for website optimization and improvement. Using Lucky Orange, you can understand visitor behaviors, diagnose trouble areas in your conversion funnel, determine causes of abandonment, and evaluate your website optimization to measure success.

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7 Ways You Can Impact Your Message with Better Language http://www.steamfeed.com/7-ways-can-impact-message-better-language/ http://www.steamfeed.com/7-ways-can-impact-message-better-language/#respond Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:00:31 +0000 http://blog.atomicreach.com/?p=12491 As a content marketer, I am sure you get bombarded with tools, blog posts, and a bevy of messaging. Sometimes, you understand the story, or the product, but be honest, most of the time you get up from the conference, the client pitch or your desk and feel like what the heck just happened. Now imagine […]

Author information

Atomic Reach

We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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As a content marketer, I am sure you get bombarded with tools, blog posts, and a bevy of messaging. Sometimes, you understand the story, or the product, but be honest, most of the time you get up from the conference, the client pitch or your desk and feel like what the heck just happened.

Now imagine for a second how your audience feels when they read some of the content or messaging that you are putting out. Let that sink in for a second. Bam! The same  way.

We are all bombarded with terms, jargon and catch phrases that make us completely crazy. Truth be told, if we’re all using the same language, then guess what? We all start to sound the same. It’s definitely harder to cut through, when everyone’s positioning statement or product offering is basically the same and the only nuance is the positioning of the words.

I’ve spent a long time in jargon infested waters. I actually had one boss once tell me to change what I was telling him into words that he understood. By the way, those words weren’t plain english, he wanted me to relate my story into jargon from the industry we were working in. So in that moment, I became a jargon to jargon dictionary. Try that on Google Translate.

I think there are a few tips you might want to consider when crafting your message, so that you avoid the pitfalls of sounding just like everyone else. These are by the way in no particular order, except for the last one.

1) Keep it simple

No, seriously. Do it. The best storytellers, the ones that you remember, are able to deliver their message plainly, using real examples. I always go back to songs of our childhood. I know how a bus moves forward, because the wheels on the bus go round and round. Sure there is way more to it, but frankly I don’t care about the inner workings of a vehicle, just like your audience doesn’t likely care whats under your sophisticated technology. You need to keep it simple and relatable. If your ten year old nephew can understand the pitch, so will your audience.

2) Say no to jargon

I was doing a pitch a few weeks ago, and I fell into the trap of using way too much jargon. I actually stepped away for a second, and apologized for sounding too much like the TV show “Silicon Valley” and then went back to the pitch using normal speak. I think the room laughed and appreciated that I mocked myself and the ridiculousness of how I sounded and was able to continue being more human.

3) This isn’t rocket science

While I appreciate the hard work of rocket scientists, brain surgeons and people whose jobs and titles I couldn’t understand, we likely aren’t those people. People of that echelon need to use more sophisticated language  in their daily routines because frankly, in most cases there are no other words to describe flux capacitors or some horrible disease. We aren’t those people, and so again, I beg of you, to stop using language that makes you sound smarter than everyone else in the room.

4) Be sincere

By burying yourself or your message in language your audience doesn’t understand, you actually don’t come across as sincere, approachable or someone open to doing business. Sometimes that stuffy language and approach can seem arrogant, or worse, might completely miss the mark. That’s not likely how you want to represent yourself or your brand.

5) Be yourself

We all have our own cadence, rhythm and style, and you need to find yours. I’d suggest that this is always a work in progress, and I am always thinking about the language I use, particularly in the context of discussing what I do on a daily basis, and how I talk to my colleagues, clients etc. At the end of the day though, I am 100% me.

6) Know the audience

Know who your audience is. Whether you are writing for them or speaking to them, be sure to craft your message in an appropriate way. You can still do that by the way, without using jargon or sophisticated terms, while appreciating how they might interpret what you are saying.

7) Listen/Watch/Read others

If you’re cognizant of the first 6 items on this list, this one is a must. As you become more clear on how you are writing or delivering your message or content, listen, watch or read how others are doing it. You are bound to pick up some great tips watching and reading others.

I’m sure there are many other things you can do help craft your message, or the content you produce. I think the over arching theme though is to provide enthusiastic, real, audience appropriate content that is sincere, thoughtful and memorable.

 

The post 7 Ways You Can Impact Your Message with Better Language appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog :: Content Marketing & Scoring Engine.

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Atomic Reach
We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

The post 7 Ways You Can Impact Your Message with Better Language appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Choose The Smartest Tools For Your NPO Fundraising http://www.steamfeed.com/show-money-npo-fundraising-difficulties/ http://www.steamfeed.com/show-money-npo-fundraising-difficulties/#respond Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:38:46 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24298 Online NPO Fundraising – Trending for NPOs One of the most important tasks the board of a non-profit organization is tasked with is to raise enough funds to balance the budget and support all programs. Let it be no surprise to you that in recent years most non-profit organizations have discovered that combining marketing and […]

Author information

Dorien Morin-van Dam

Dorien is the face behind the orange glasses and is founder of More In Media, a social media consultancy. She consults with clients in the non-profit sector, retail and service industries, as well as PR and community associations. Besides social media consulting and management, she enjoys teaching, speaking, blogging, networking and running marathons. Proud to be Dutch by birth and American by choice, Dorien makes her home in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband, 4 kids and 3 labradors.

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medium_268022096Online NPO Fundraising – Trending for NPOs

One of the most important tasks the board of a non-profit organization is tasked with is to raise enough funds to balance the budget and support all programs. Let it be no surprise to you that in recent years most non-profit organizations have discovered that combining marketing and fundraising efforts with social media marketing is a win-win situation.

It should then come to no surprise to you that many new crowdfunding and fundraising websites have popped up and are, in a way, benefitting from this NPO move to online fundraising. Many offer website widgets, social media integration and mobile app technology. When doing a quick search, it’s easy to see that choosing one over the other is not a simple process anymore as there are many tools and sites to choose from.

Still, many people and organizations aren’t fully utilizing these specialized sites and apps and when it comes to money, you really should be doing it right! Just like in life, short-cuts often turn out to be bad decisions and if you are in charge of an NPO, those short-cuts or bad decisions can cost you, in more ways than one.

In this article I will share three cautionary tales, educate you on online fundraising preparation and I offer 8 tips on how to choose the best online fundraising tool for your NPO. Besides referencing several fundraising websites I’ve succesfully used while working with NPOs, I will be sharing:

  • 3 real-life examples and cautionary stories of what can go wrong with online fundraising
  • 7 important steps to take to make your online fundraising efforts flawless and successful
  • 8 tips on what to look for in choosing an online fundraising tool.

Here are the stories of real fundraising efforts. These are stories on how and where they went wrong.

1) A close friend of mine works for a MLM jewelry company. As a nationally recognized leader in that organization, my friend went in fundraising mode when she heard of a fellow jewelry consultants’ struggles. This mom, and fellow jewelry consultant, had lost her mom and both of her kids in a terrible automobile accident. My friend started a fundraising campaign and asked people to donate money to help pay for funeral costs. Very quickly, in matter of hours, then days, she raised well over $20,000 for the funeral via PayPal.

The Problem: Not reading the fine print in PayPal’s Terms of Service. The money she raised by donations in the PayPal account was not immediately accessible. It was something that was clearly stated, yet she failed to read those terms. She now had money she wished to donate to her fellow consultant, but there was a 21 day wait.

The Solution: Waiting it out and learn for next time. There was no way around the 21 day holding period. Disappointing, but at least she didn’t lose the money all together.

2) A new social media manager, a friend of mine, started working with an NPO as their PR and social media manager. While getting the ‘lay of the land’ she notices a fundraising Facebook app on the Facebook page.

The Problem: A non-functioning third party Facebook App. Non-functioning and non-active app can still pose a thread to your Facebook security.

The Solution: Immediately remove and delete the app all together. It most likely was an old app and with the new Facebook layout, apps aren’t quite a visible anymore, and thus less functional. My recommendation is to reevaluate what fundraising platforms are being used for that NPO and install a new app once a new fundraising tool is chosen.

3) Another NPO I was consulting with used EventBrite for event ticketing. The process was easy to navigate for the people coming to event and it allowed the NPO to accept credit cards via EventBrite.

The Problem: No one was in charge. The board of the NPO had no idea about the charges and money that should be coming in from EventBrite. The password was lost as well. EventBrite had their money, they did not and weren’t even aware of how much money they were owed.

The Solution: Putting one person in charge of the EventBrite app and resetting a password. We went through quite a procedure to get the money, but in the end, it all came to the NPO. It, again, was human error which created this problem

As you can tell, two of the problems I mentioned were human errors, the other problem was with a vast-changing social media platform (Facebook). These problems, and solutions, lead me to 7 important steps to take if you are involved in online fundraising for your NPO, using social media sites, app and websites.

7 important steps to navigate as you use social sites, apps and websites to raise funds online for your NPO.

  1. Research Fundraising Platforms and Tools First. Platforms and tools come and go. My recommendation is to do a few Google searches, check out multiple sites, make a list of functions you need and want (widget integration, ease of payment, cost) and then set your three top picks side by side. Next,
  2. Talk To People Who Have Used That Tool. You get the best feedback from real users. Look for discussions boards and blog comments on articles written about those tools. These will reveal a lot and might save you heartache in the end.
  3. Read The Fine Print. Nothing is sadder than raising funds and learning after the fact that the owner of the tool takes a hefty cut of your donations. You will find this information from other users and in the fine print also known as Terms of Service.
  4. Know All Passwords and Login Info. Now this seems like an easy one to keep track of, but as shown in the example, with a NPO board anything can happen. If you’ve not clearly defined your roles and who’s in charge of your fundraising – the controller, the marketing manager, the social media director, the president – then maybe no one ends up being in charge!
  5. Monitor Monthly. Yes, go back and make sure the settings are up to date, the apps on your social sites are functioning correctly and are visible and that the widgets on your website are still linked.
  6. Designate One User in Charge. This I learned from working not just with this one, but with several NPOs. Put someone in charge, but… give at least two people access and login information to the fundraising tool.
  7. Stay Up-To-Date On Social Media Platform Changes. Platform layouts, functions and overall use change and yes, popularity of certain platforms change as well. Evaluate each platform and the tool you are using to raise funds. Is the app/widget/tool visible? Is it functional? Is it bringing in funds? Or is there a new tool; better, bigger and more known that will bring in more money? Grow with the platforms!

If you are ready to get started with online fundraising for your NPO, here is a list of tool functions to consider before you choose the one that’s just right for your NPO.

  1. Cost – It costs money to use fundraising tools, whether it be PayPal, Razoo or EventBrite; they all take a cut, most often a percentage, of the funds you raise.
  2. Ease of Donation – Can people donate by using all types of credit cards and is the process easy?
  3. History – New does not mean bad, but an older –and a larger company– often mean security in knowing that the tool works and pays out.
  4. Function – If you have a large fundraising team, you need tools to give each member their own fundraising pages or tools. What functions do they offer?
  5. Social Integration – Where do you want to be raising funds and what can this tool offer on each platform?
  6. Analytics –Will they give you tools to track giving?
  7. NPO discount – Yes, look for tools that offer a small cost for registered NPOs. You’ll have to provide proof of your non-profit status, but the process is often easy and will save you money.
  8. Mobile Integration – If your target market includes young millennials, maybe older teens, it is definitely a function you’ll want.

In the end, online fundraising should make things easier for your NPO, not harder. Being able to shift some of the traditional fundraising efforts to online giving, is a smart move and will pay off. The best advice I have is to be well informed, well prepared and make it a team effort.

Happy Fundraising,

Dorien


Author information

Dorien Morin-van Dam
Dorien is the face behind the orange glasses and is founder of More In Media, a social media consultancy. She consults with clients in the non-profit sector, retail and service industries, as well as PR and community associations. Besides social media consulting and management, she enjoys teaching, speaking, blogging, networking and running marathons. Proud to be Dutch by birth and American by choice, Dorien makes her home in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband, 4 kids and 3 labradors.

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How Images Can Affect Your SEO and Engagement http://www.steamfeed.com/images-can-affect-seo-engagement/ http://www.steamfeed.com/images-can-affect-seo-engagement/#respond Sun, 10 Aug 2014 13:51:03 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=23861 There was a time when the primary concern of bloggers was search engine optimization (SEO). Since then times have changed to an extent.  SEO is still a vital consideration, but it now shares the platform with another, equally important element: user engagement. Most SEO’s will tell you that a page with a bounce rate of […]

Author information

Avishai Sam Bitton

VP of Marketing at imonomy

Avishai Sam Bitton is the Founder of Startup Bloggers and VP of Marketing at imonomy. He loves Internet startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, blogging, photography and Linda.

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There was a time when the primary concern of bloggers was search engine optimization (SEO). Since then times have changed to an extent.  SEO is still a vital consideration, but it now shares the platform with another, equally important element: user engagement.

Most SEO’s will tell you that a page with a bounce rate of 90% and up probably won’t rank high on any search engines. It won’t matter how much you try to optimize the page off-site, there is only so much you can do with horrible bounce rate figures. This complicates things for online publishers, but it’s actually a positive development.  User engagement focuses on human interaction, not search algorithms, which is good for publishers with quality content because they can compete based on the merits of their content and the experience they offer users — not just how well they play the search game.

To win the race to draw more clicks, views and more interaction you need a simple, yet important element on each and every page: images.  Images highly support SEO and user engagement, so by using quality images in a productive manner, bloggers, online publishers, and marketers can boost their search engine rankings and their engagement with readers.

This Post Discusses:

  • The connection between Images and SEO
  • How images lead to engagement
  • In-image adverting and it’s connection to monetizing engagement

Images and SEO

SEO has become synonymous with keywords, due in large part to the ubiquity of keyword stuffed online.  Today’s search engines are, of course, far more sophisticated, but that doesn’t stop keywords (when handled with finesse) from having an effect.  Nonetheless, quality and relevant content usually trump any black hat technique in the long term.  Yet, quality and relevant content can still be lost in the shuffle when it comes to SEO thanks to how steep the competition is.  One way to boost search engine rankings — when there’s already quality textual content — is the inclusion of high quality content related images for SEO. A good image is always related to the text.

SEO Content

This is an example of a content-related image

Part of the reason for this is the growing popularity of image searching via search engines: i.e. Google Image Search and similar services.  These searches have reached a level of sophistication that allows them to serve content users what they want, when they want it — and users frequently want images — so their popularity has exploded.  Which means what?

Two things:

  1. Companies with search engines (such as Google and Facebook) are putting more time, effort and expertise into indexing and rating images for SEO on websites to serve users content. If you need proof that this has been happening for a while, you can just check out the wiki page of Face.com, it will give you an idea how much money these companies are willing to invest into understanding images.
  2. The relevancy and quality of those images is being used to affect your site’s search engine rankings.

Even if you’re not serving images, which users are explicitly searching, the images for SEO on your site matter.  Indexing is taking into account alt text, file size, and file name, in addition of course to bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the time the user spends on the site they’ve chosen before heading back to the search engine.  It’s important to both the SEO and user engagement aspects of image inclusion, because it affects one and is an indicator of the other.  A bounce rate that is too high (that is, users are clicking through to your site and quickly abandoning it) will negatively affect rankings; it is also a good indicator that your levels of engagement aren’t optimal.

Bounce Rate

This is NOT an example of a content-related image, even though we are talking about bounce rate

Too few images, and images for SEO that are low quality or irrelevant, can lead to high bounce rate.  Images are good for view rates. In fact, articles featuring images get 94% more total views, which is quite significant, but if your view rates are increasing along with your bounce rate, you may find that the benefit cancels itself out.

So, images have become vitally important to SEO but those images must be worth viewing, and must be a catalyst for engagement.

Images and User Engagement

As mentioned above, studies show that images result in 94% more views, which shows a clear user bias toward articles with images.  So how important are images to engagement, really? Very important.

Photos and videos in press releases increase views by 45%, which is significant because users view press releases for very specific purposes. Usually a user reading a press release is considering increasing their engagement with the company mentioned in the future. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally.

When purchasing a product online, a staggering 67% of consumers note that the quality of the image depicting the product is of great importance in following through with a purchase.  In fact, most users feel that the quality of the image outranks its description, its specifications, and even ratings or reviews.

And when it comes to Facebook, engagement with photos is 37% higher than engagement with text.

In short, the importance of images to user engagement simply cannot be overstated.  Again, however, with a caveat: users have high standards for images, as they do for all content now.  Images should decidedly add to the overall user experience to increase interactivity and SEO.

Leveraging Images to their Best Advantage

There are two main things for marketers, publishers, bloggers, and social media experts to keep in mind in regards to images for SEO and engagement:

  • Inclusion of images: Images, generally speaking, increase views
  • Images included must be both high quality and relevant to increase engagement in a meaningful way and to reduce bounce back, which would negatively affect SEO

Images also provide something else: the opportunity for quality, engaging monetization.  Their appeal to users and their potential to improve the user experience make them ripe for monetization, if it’s done in a tasteful, engaging, experience optimizing manner.

In-image advertising is one way to take advantage of the value of images while improving user experience, views, and engagement.  In-image advertising also has multiple advantages over traditional advertising; it isn’t subject to “banner blindess” (the phenomenon of users ignoring content-extraneous advertising), and it can be fully integrated into content in an engaging manner.

In-Image Advertising and Images for SEO and Engagement

Of course, all of the advantages and benefits that images can bring to your blog, publication, or social media interactions depend upon the ability to source quality, relevant images.  This can be simple for certain marketing goals, because the content lends itself to image collection. For other goals, and for independent bloggers and publishers, it can be a more complex procedure.  There’s a way to streamline the process for those who wish to monetize their sites with in-image advertising.

In-image advertising platforms like imonomy (full disclosure: I work here) can actually provide content in-image ads packaged with high-quality, content-relevant images.  For example, if the content is a recipe, the image might be a photo of relevant ingredients being mixed with a commercial mixer; should the user mouse over it, they could be presented with links to ads for kitchen appliances.

Ask Yourself

The recent success of sites like PlayBuzz, BuzzFeed, Viral Nova and Bored Panda is mostly attributed to their emphasis on putting images in the spotlight. Most viral content websites today know that an interesting thumbnail is sometimes all you need to create a viral news post. Ask yourself this, would these images be even remotely successful without their heavy systematic use of engaging images?

Conclusion

Users want images and they are far more willing to view a site which hosts images, and far more willing to engage with a site that hosts high quality images.  Images are key to increasing SEO and user engagement.  Ambitious marketers and publishers should take advantage of this, not only by serving their users the image-based content they want, but by marrying those images to non-intrusive, exceptionally relevant, interactive in-image advertising.  Banners and textual ads have become easy for users to ignore. However, users can’t ignore the very quality content they’re clamoring for, so long as the ads are delivered in a positive, experience enhancing way.

The Future

The way I see things might astonish some of you, but I think the next trend is going to be sites with much less text. Today people are talking how words equal better SEO and I don’t necessarily agree. I personally like to think that content will be reviewed by search algorithms in a much more advanced way. In the next couple of years, text won’t be the main things algorithms try to understand, the reason? A picture is worth more than a thousand words.


Author information

Avishai Sam Bitton
VP of Marketing at imonomy
Avishai Sam Bitton is the Founder of Startup Bloggers and VP of Marketing at imonomy. He loves Internet startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, blogging, photography and Linda.

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Your SEO Insider: The New Foursquare, Pigeon Update, and New Organic Ranking Signal http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-new-foursquare-pigeon-update-new-organic-ranking-signal/ http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-new-foursquare-pigeon-update-new-organic-ranking-signal/#respond Sun, 10 Aug 2014 13:31:19 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24588 Howdy SteamFeeders! Time to find a quiet space, grab your favorite beverage and catch up on the latest news from the world of search engines and SEO. Local SEO Pigeon Droppings Google’s Local Pigeon update continued to warrant a steady stream of articles and commentary this week. Jessica does a good job of summarizing the […]

Author information

Brent Carnduff

I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat.

I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

The post Your SEO Insider: The New Foursquare, Pigeon Update, and New Organic Ranking Signal appeared first on SteamFeed.


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SEO Insider

Howdy SteamFeeders! Time to find a quiet space, grab your favorite beverage and catch up on the latest news from the world of search engines and SEO.

Local SEO

Pigeon Droppings

Google’s Local Pigeon update continued to warrant a steady stream of articles and commentary this week. Jessica does a good job of summarizing the known results and fallout in her article on Search Engine Watch.

Is Google’s New Local Algorithm ‘Pigeon’ for the Birds” by Jessica Lee on Search Engine Watch

Real Estate Listings Removed From Google Local Search Results by Brent Carnduff

Foursquare

Foursquare launched its new app earlier this week and early reviews are positive! Making the move away from ‘check-ins’ towards a ‘review and recommendations’ model positions Foursquare to become a bigger player on the local search scene. It’s big differentiation is that it promises to provide more personalized results for the searcher – “your tastes, the places you like, and the friends and experts you trust most.”

New Foursquare App Bets The Company on Personalization by Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land

Foursquare Releases Social Search-Centric Redesign by Mike O’Brien on ClickZ

 Google Maps

Is your business known by multiple names, nicknames, or acronyms? They can be added to Google Maps so that you can be found for those names as well as your official business name.

Your Business Have Nicknames Or Acronyms? How to Get Them Listed In Google Maps by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable

 Organic SEO

Google announced the addition of  HTTPS as an SEO ranking factor.

“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

This is not to suggest you should rush out and make any changes right away. The following articles outline the processes and problems associated with migrating your site to HTTPS.

HTTPS Sites Secure Ranking Boosts in Google by Jessica Lee on Search Engine Watch

Google Starts Giving A Ranking Boost to Secure HTTPS/SSLby Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land

Google Change Of Address Tool Does Not Support HTTPS Migration by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable

 Going to the Moon? Don’t Forget to Take Google Maps!

Google Maps Currently Taking Users to the Moon & Mars by Amy Gesenhues on Search Engine Land

Not really any marketing benefits (yet!), but fun anyway :-)

 SEO Insight

DO add or claim your small business on Foursquare. DON’T rush into changing to HTTPS. Once you’re ready to make the move, make sure that you, your SEO, or webmaster, fully understands the migration process.

Google obviously can and will continue to make changes to their algorithm that will have a major impact on some businesses. Your best protection is to adhere to both the letter and spirit of Google’s guidelines (not an issue with the Pigeon update), diversify your marketing efforts (Local SEO, Organic SEO, Social Media, Pay Per Click, etc), and to become a creator and publisher of great content.

How has your business or industry been affected by the Pigeon Update?


Author information

Brent Carnduff
I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat. I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

The post Your SEO Insider: The New Foursquare, Pigeon Update, and New Organic Ranking Signal appeared first on SteamFeed.

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What is the HOA Showcase App and How Does it Work http://www.steamfeed.com/hoa-showcase-app-work/ http://www.steamfeed.com/hoa-showcase-app-work/#respond Sat, 09 Aug 2014 14:23:24 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=24245 The case for using Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOAs) just keeps getting better. A HOA is a free broadcasting/webinar platform that is connected to the world’s number one search engine. They are simultaneously recorded and uploaded to the world’s number two search engine – YouTube. With the addition of the Showcase App, your audience can […]

Author information

Ray Hiltz

Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts.
He's a believer in the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking.
Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus on his blog: NewRayCom.com.
His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and freelancers.
Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.

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Showcase App featured imageThe case for using Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOAs) just keeps getting better. A HOA is a free broadcasting/webinar platform that is connected to the world’s number one search engine. They are simultaneously recorded and uploaded to the world’s number two search engine – YouTube. With the addition of the Showcase App, your audience can now click on links to your websites, products and services from within the HOA. They can do this while it’s live or while watching the replay anywhere the video is embedded such as on Facebook or your website. In this article you’ll learn:

  • What the Hangout On Air Showcase App is
  • How it works
  • What it can be used for
  • How to set it up and run it

What is the Hangout On Air Showcase App and How Does it Work?

The Showcase App is a new Google+ Hangout On Air feature that allows you to direct viewers to your online assets via “cards” you create in the Showcase panel.

A viewer can click on any of the cards to view that content in a new tab while the HOA continues in the other window. After the live broadcast, the content cards will continue to live on for playback versions.

The Showcase App only works for Scheduled Hangout On Air Events (SHOAEs). If you need help with creating a SHOE, see my article: How to Schedule a Google Plus Hangout On Air Event

How can You Use the Showcase App?

Here’s a few ideas. (I’m sure you’ll have more.) Sales: 

Add a link to your landing Page Amazon or other affiliate Merchandise

Lead Generation:

New video or blog content Promote a book launch Subscription Opt In Page

 Promotion:

Link to previous or upcoming HOA Events Article or publications of your guests Special projects

 Sponsorship:

If you do a regular HOA show, you can highlight and link to sponsor websites or offers. You can make offers time sensitive as in: “Visit this site in the next 30 minutes for a special offer.”

How to set up and use the Showcase App

The app is very similar to the Q&A app in that when enabled, it opens a new window. Like the Q&A app, it needs to be enabled from the “outside” of the HOA before it can be used by the host inside.

1. Enable the Showcase App by clicking on the yellow tags icon. After creating your Scheduled Hangout On Air (SHOAE)  

Showcase app enable

Enable Showcase app outside of HOA first

 

Showcase App tool menu icon

Showcase app inside Hangout

2. Preload your Showcase cards: Click on the ‘play arrow’ to open the HOA area.

Showcase app insert link field

Create Showcase cards by inserting url

You’ll see the Showcase panel on the right with a field to enter your website link. Any url can be entered here; website, landing page, G+ profile etc.. Tip – Good practice is to copy and paste url’s to avoid linking to wrong site then having to delete and start again. h/t Ronnie Bincer

3. Edit image slideshow and text. Images found on the sites you link to will rotate in a slideshow format. You can edit which images you want to appear. If you don’t want a slideshow because you feel the animation could be distracting, you can select a single image for the card by deleting all other images. You can also edit the text that appears. Due to size, make keep text short and compelling keywords.

Showcase app creating and editing cards

Creating and editing Showcase “cards”

4. To Show or not to “show item”. When you’ve created all the cards you want,  click on the “show item” box to have the card visible to viewers. A few things about “showing”

- The viewer will only see the cards that you have chosen the “show item” option.

- The cards appear in the order that you create them, first on the top, others in descending order. Prioritize them accordingly.

- While running the HOA, you can choose to select or deselect the “show item” option. You can also add another card.

- All cards that are “shown” will be visible in replay on YouTube or wherever else the video is embedded.

Showcase app close window

Exit the Showcase HOA

When you’re finished “preloading your cards”, click on the “X” at the upper left of the panel, to exit the HOA window and return to the Event Page.

5. Disable the Showcase app after preloading Showcase cards by clicking the Showcase icon again. (next to the Q&A app). Do this if you want to encourage interaction on the event page. Otherwise, when the “play arrow” is clicked, the video area opens up in a new window that obscures the page. If your show is more informational and promotional than interactive, leave the app enabled. Showcase app disabled 6. Re-Enable the Showcase app again before going LIVE.  If you’ve disabled the app after pre-loading your links, you’ll need to re-enable it to be able to use it inside the HOA. To allow people coming to the Event Page to read and leave comments, they’ll need to know how to detach the pop up window that appears when they hit the play arrow.

Showcase app Pop Out Window

Detach window to allow view of Event Page

When the “play arrow” is clicked, the viewing window will “pop out”.  The viewers can click on the small icon in the upper right corner to detach it. This will allow it to be moved out of the way making it possible to view the HOA as well as the event page. The optimal set up for this is to have two monitors. Otherwise you’ll need to toggle between the video window and the event page.

7. Watching Showcase HOAs replays.  

Showcase app YouTube view

YouTube view

As with any Hangout On Air, the broadcast is recorded and uploaded automatically to your connected YouTube channel. As a YouTube video, it can be embedded on your website, Facebook page, landing page etc.. When someone wants to view your Showcase video, they’ll see an annotation in the bottom left corner. When clicked, it will open the video in the Showcase format.

Tip: If you don’t want to see the Showcase panel while viewing the HOA, click on the square icon to the left of the “X” in the upper right of the HOA screen. This shows which apps are being used. To return the panel, click on the Showcase icon.

(At the time of this writing, the annotation still reads “click to join live Q&A on Google+ Hangouts”. It’s expected to change to “showcase” soon.)

Summary:

This is a powerful marketing tool. It’s well worth the effort to get comfortable with and explore. As with any tool, you need to determine how you want to use it. The Showcase App works best for information and promotional type shows. However, nurturing engagement is important if you want to build a community around your brand. You’ll need to experiment with finding a good balance should you choose to use the app. Whether the goal is to send people to your eBook landing page or to highlight a guest’s website, the Showcase app packs a lot of value and potential. The Hangout On Air product enables us to be owner/producer/director and star of our own desktop TV studio.  Now we have the option to add commercials.

How do you think you would use the Showcase App? If you have questions about and would like to be updated on what’s happening on Google+, subscribe to my weekly Google+ Tips & Topics Newsletter.


Author information

Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. He's a believer in the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking. Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus on his blog: NewRayCom.com. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and freelancers. Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.

The post What is the HOA Showcase App and How Does it Work appeared first on SteamFeed.

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Do Brands Have To Get Naked On Snapchat? http://www.steamfeed.com/brands-get-naked-snapchat/ http://www.steamfeed.com/brands-get-naked-snapchat/#respond Sat, 09 Aug 2014 11:40:30 +0000 http://content500.com/?p=197 The Saints chat trash on Snapchat It’s already starting. Snapchat might be the least likely social media platform for marketers since Twitter but big brands are already piling in. They’re experimenting with different content, seeing (by some accounts) good results and they’re producing some clear trends. Most of those trends involve naked honesty. The breakthrough […]

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Black Star Content Team

Black Star Content Team produces and implements strong, effective, visual content for corporate communications, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility for the top Fortune 500 brands.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.13.26 AM

snap1

The Saints chat trash on Snapchat

It’s already starting. Snapchat might be the least likely social media platform for marketers since Twitter but big brands are already piling in. They’re experimenting with different content, seeing (by some accounts) good results and they’re producing some clear trends. Most of those trends involve naked honesty.

The breakthrough for Snapchat as a marketing platform came last year with the introduction of Stories. Until then, the mobile app’s main feature had been to automatically delete pictures sent from one individual to another after ten seconds. For young people keen to impress their partners, but less keen on their images being seen by others, the feature was a killer. For people who were less likely to take selfies in the shower, including marketers, Snapchat had little to offer.

Stories, though, changed the dynamic. They can be seen by more than one person, turning them into a broadcast channel closer to that of Twitter or Facebook. Users can make Stories visible to friends, to custom lists or to everyone on Snapchat. They can also be stitched together to form a narrative — and one that’s told historically. While a series of tweets on Twitter starts with the most recent post, making new readers feel left out and the message hard to follow, stories begin with the oldest image, allowing marketers to tell coherent narratives about their brands. That’s a rare benefit on social media.

The content of Stories is still temporary; the images are only available for 24 hours. But while the feature might have been created to allow users to share more creative content than the odd (naked) snap, they do provide an opportunity for brands to engage in visual storytelling that feels personal.

It’s that personal touch that’s key. The biggest advantage that social media has always had over other marketing channels has been the closeness of the relationship between seller and audience. On billboards, in print ads and in television commercials, companies interrupt conversations. On social media, they engage in conversations. The content should be friendly, and audiences can respond to it and even receive responses to their comments directly from the marketer.

snap2

Drew Brees makes plenty of appearances on Snapchat

Snapchat takes that personal touch even closer by cloaking corporate messages with the appearance of private MMS messaging. Where companies have combined the visual storytelling potential of Stories with the closeness of Snapchat’s private content streams, the result has been levels of engagement that other platforms can only envy. According to one report, Stories are seen by more than half of the company’s active users.

Stories As Chat Channels

One approach being taken with Stories is to treat them as louder versions of the MMS messaging they’re meant to supercede. That’s what the New Orleans Saints have done.

In an interview, Alex Restrepo, the Saints’ Web and social media manager, told CNet that Snapchat’s audience was too big to ignore. The team was the first in the NFL to set up on the app, and began publishing content shortly after the launch of Stories. The Saints don’t engage in one-to-one messaging, so fans won’t be receiving private messages from Drew Brees, the quarterback. But Restrepo does believe that the app gives supporters a close relationship to the team.

“Fans see Snapchat as almost a text, where it’s direct, one-on-one communication. So even though it’s a story, they see it as: this is a personal message, for me, from the Saints.”

It helps that the images are very personal too, as befits the platform. Restrepo would post videos from the field, the pre-game huddle and even shots from the locker room. Fans might not have been able to chat with Drew Brees but they got to see a lot of him.

That approach seems to be working. According to CNet, the team has 37,000 followers on Snapchat and each story generates 21,000 views. That’s a much higher rate of engagement than the miserable organic reach that Facebook now grants to companies, and it suggests a potential for a great deal more. When Restrepo tested a Snapchat-based contest in December, inviting followers to send in a screenshot of a snap for a chance to win a signed photo, he received 3,700 entries. That would have been a response rate high enough to interest a sponsor, Restrepo said.

The Story Of Events

tacobell-coffee

Taco Bell gives Snapchat users 24 hours to enjoy this coffee.

The Saints are creating Stories out of the team’s season. Off-season, the content stream has shrunk. Other brands restrict the Stories to singular events. HBO created a Snapchat account for its hit show, Girls, believing that the app’s young, free-thinking audience matched its own demographic.

The most prominent content posted by the stream however, hasn’t been behind-the-scenes at the show’s shoots or candid pictures of the stars but a 200-second photo and video montage of its season three premiere.

Like the Saints’ images, these too were candid. While photographers from outlets like Getty would have been shooting the stars as they beamed on the red carpet then distributing the pictures to their media subscribers, the show’s followers were getting more direct shots of the actresses pulling faces at the camera. The stars were also able to doodle over their own images, giving supporters exclusive and frank content. Again, engagement rates were said to be much higher than those seen on other platforms.

Snapchat For Quick Chats

It’s a strategy that’s particularly effective for the entertainment and fashion industries which have plenty of opportunity for glamorous photography alongside grittier shots taken behind the scenes and shared with an in-crowd. Juicy Couture, is one of a number of clothing brands to turn to Snapchat. Most of those companies have used Snapchat in exactly the same way as HBO: creating candid behind-the-scenes shots at glittery events. Juicy Couture went a little further and created an event out of the launch of its new campaign, sharing the images on Snapchat.

The flexibility of Stories — their longer lifespans, bigger audiences and deeper stories — has been winning the most attention from marketers but some brands, and even some personalities are sticking with the platform’s original model.

Grubhub, a food delivery service, still sends one-to-one messages and Senator Rand Paul also uses the platform to talk directly with members of the public without leaving a permanent trail of his content. For marketers, the ability of Stories to reach more people will always offer a bigger draw.

Can Snapchat Move From Behind The Scenes To Front Of Stage?

The easiest strategy to implement on Snapchat is one that allows followers to see behind the scenes of a business or an event. Fans feel that they’re being let in on a secret, that their relationship with the brand is as close as two friends sending each other candid messages.

But that’s not a strategy that will suit every brand. Showing how the sausages are made or the burgers are fried is unlikely to be effective for fast food companies, and yet some have signed up with Snapchat. McDonald created a 36-second story with Lebron James that was effectively a short ad. Taco Bell, an early Snapchat adopter, has shared preview pictures of its new menu items, a useful way to gauge customer response. It’s unlikely though that that content enjoyed the same engagement rates as the Saints’ stream — or reached an audience larger than that on Facebook.

It’s still early days for Snapchat. Engagement figures are promising but are hard to gauge and even harder to obtain. Companies are still experimenting with content to see which kinds of campaigns work best and to what extent they can expand beyond behind-the-scenes shots to more traditional branding stories.

Snapchat will need to change too. The company needs to improve its search and recommendation features so that users can more easily find brands to follow. (At the moment, companies are using their Twitter accounts to tell people where they are.) And it will need to offer users more than the chance to see the dusty side of the red carpet.

The post Do Brands Have To Get Naked On Snapchat? appeared first on content500.

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Black Star Content Team
Black Star Content Team produces and implements strong, effective, visual content for corporate communications, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility for the top Fortune 500 brands.

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