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Updated: 7 hours 37 min ago

Uber Announces New Delivery Service Program: Could Google and Amazon Be In Their Cross Hairs?

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 17:07

Uber, the transportation app that changed how people move by connecting riders to drivers, recently announced a new pilot program – Uber Corner Store. According to their blog, the program is a limited experiment that will run for only a few weeks in the Washington D.C. area and will allow Uber users to get delivery of staples like toothpaste, diapers and over 100 other items right to their door.

This program, if successful, would take Uber from a simple transportation company into a full-fledged logistics company – which many analysts think plays into CEO Travis Kalanick’s long-term vision. How will it’s success be measured? As stated in the blog, “The more you love it, the more likely it will last.” And as Kalanick  told CNN Money last December, “We’re in the business of delivering cars in five minutes. And once you can deliver cars in five minutes, there’s a lot of  things you can deliver in five minutes.” So it seems that Uber might have a laser like focus on a new market segment they want to be a part of and the drive, determination and following to make it happen.

But, can Uber truly compete in the same-day delivery market that is now dominated by players like Amazon, Ebay and Google? Well, if one company is going to make a go at it, it’s Uber. Their proven ability to forge into a market and wrestle with regulations and competitors, never backing down and coming out on top, has many thinking that they can.  And while this isn’t a completely new concept for them – they previously released a courier delivery service called Uber Rush in Manhattan – if they do decide to travel down this road, it’s going to be a bumpy one. While the big dogs, Amazon and Google, already have solid processes and infrastructure in place to dominate this market, there are also a number of other smaller services that will be forces to reckon with. How they structure, price and deliver the service, along with how well they can excite their following, will be key in their long-term success.

The one thing I find completely inspiring about this announcement is that it is a great reminder to every small business that no market is impenetrable. If we choose, we can all play with the big dogs – and if we come with a great product and service, we might just walk away with the bone.

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Categories: SMB

Did Your Twitter Timeline Get Hacked? Nah… Twitter Is Just Deciding What You Should Be Seeing

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:46

If you were getting a little confused by posts appearing in your Twitter timeline from folks you don’t follow, don’t worry – you haven’t been hacked! It turns out that Twitter has decided that they know better than you do on what, and whom, you should be seeing in your timeline and have made a few changes to their policy to accommodate.

The new change, which started as an experiment and is now a full-fledged feature of Twitter, has you seeing tweets from people you don’t follow and that aren’t retweets in your timeline. Based on an update to it’s help center page, Twitter believes that this new feature will make your timeline “more relevant and interesting”. Below is the excerpt from the Twitter Help Center that outlines the new change.

 

So…what’s the big deal?

We’ve seen changes like this occur before on social media platforms. Remember when Facebook started dropping promoted posts and advertising onto our timelines? Just like those changes, these changes aren’t going to have any great impact on the fate of the free world, but they will have an impact.

For the casual user, these changes serve as nothing more than a very harsh reminder that user experience is probably not at the top of Twitter’s list of concerns. For business users, however, the impact is a bit more harsh. For those who have spent countless hour and dollars building a dedicated community and following, it will now be harder to rise above the noise. Looking at what happened at Facebook, as a close comparison. The days of being able to engage with customers, over a long period of time, may be dwindling due to the fact that your organic reach dissipates dramatically. For Twitter, though, it’s all about business. And just as Facebook did, they too will most likely turn this new feature into a paid opportunity for those looking to gain more visibility.

For those of us who view our social media timelines and profiles as our own little bits of internet real estate – deciding who to interact with, what we want to see and when / how we want to see it – it’s time to face reality. It’s not truly our space (after all – we don’t pay for it!), it’s theirs. They have the keys and at anytime they will open your front door, walk inside and redecorate to their hearts’ content.

 

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Categories: SMB

Biz & Tech Roundup: Event Marketing; WiFi Security; Wix and Hotel Websites

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:00

PRIVATE WiFi Unveils WiFi Dashboard to Alert Windows 8 Users When a Wireless Network Is Unsecure

PRIVATE WiFi recently unveiled a new free app — WiFi Dashboard — for Windows 8 personal computers and surface tablets, which will alert users when they are using unencrypted WiFi. Many hotspots — whether people access them in a hotel, coffee shop, airport, park, or are using an open connection at home — are unsecure. Any data sent or received over an open WiFi connection can literally be stolen out of thin air. The life of an SMB owner or employee is often one filled with mobile devices, connecting remotely, and blurred lines between professional and personal time. This new app alerts them, so that they can take immediate steps to not only protect their identity and personal information, but also safeguard the confidential data of their company and clients. @privatewifi

Moment.me Launches Code-Free Event-Tech Solution for SMBs

Moment.me launched a code-free email marketing tool to integrate with their mobile microsites for events. For SMBs looking to compete in a tough market, Moment.me’s comprehensive event-tech solution gives them a marketing edge, empowering them to leverage the live event to engage directly with their customers – both current and potential – and ensuring they have the technology available to maximize the impact of the event. Their latest feature makes free email marketing available to all small business owners so they can engage more effectively with their customers, manage their guest list and easily follow-up after the event has ended.

Wix Launches Booking Solution for Small Hotels:

Last week Wix launched WixHotels, a complete hotel booking engine that can be integrated into a Wix website. The new service, available in the Wix App Market, makes it simple to build and maintain the room inventory with pricing, booking, reservation and payment management capabilities. With the code-free and mobile-friendly app, hotel owners can even compile reservations made outside of the website and manage all of their inventory in one place. Small hotels can finally take the booking process into their own hands, professionalizing their reservation systems and avoiding having to pay high commissions to online travel sites. The new vertical is a part of Wix’s goal to allows SMBs to build, grow and manage their business in one centralized location. Read more here.

 

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Categories: SMB

24 Awesome Apps To Save You Time and Have Less Headache – @LizKingEvents #techsytalk

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 20:42

Liz King is the preeminent guru of events.

She’s built a community for event professionals – to help them produce better events and she is an event organizer as well.

Here’s the apps she uses to run her empire – boosting productivity and having less headaches.

  1. Trello – task management
  2. Anydo – task management tool
  3. Mailbox - send email back to yourself, later on
  4. Yesterbox - a way of thinking from Tony Hsieh
  5. Expensify - expenses on the go
  6. Focus Lock - lock your phone to not do other things
  7. World Card Mobile – put biz cards into contact database
  8. Docusign – digital document signature
  9. ETA - quickly find times to get from one meeting to another
  10. Flightboard - look at flight times
  11. IFTTT - If this then that; an automation tool
  12. Dropbox - file sharing
  13. Doxie - scanner
  14. Magic Wand  – portable scanner
  15. Harvest - time tracking tool
  16. Lastpass - password saving
  17. Shoeboxed - mail them your shoebox of crap,  they tag and put it into Excel for you
  18. Unrollme - will look at all email subscriptions and unsubscribe you
  19. Hootsuite or @bugger – social media management tool
  20. Pocket – browse an article later
  21. Unstuck – app to inspire you
  22. Mophie - portable charger
  23. Drones – take pictures in the air
  24. Selfie Stick

 

 

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Categories: SMB

Google Adwords: 7 Ways To Fail Your Online Marketing Campaign with #Adwords

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 16:00

I’ve been doing a lot more online advertising on the occasion of the 9th Annual Small Business Summit - experimenting with Twitter, LInkedIn, Facebook and Google Adwords. For many of you, online advertising drives a big chunk of your sales.

I’ve asked Sheri Firstenberg, with Ripen Commerce, to help guide us into the best ways to do Google Adwords advertising.

Sheri knows what she’s talking about – she manages more than $1 million in paid search ad spend annually at Ripen eCommerce which a full-service digital agency that specializes in delivering custom solutions to online retailers.

AdWords is both an easy-to-get-started and difficult-to-master tool for online advertisers. Although setup can be simple, there are many in-depth features eCommerce owners may not understand or simply overlook. Here’s a look at seven Adwords sins that could be killing your ROI.

Choosing Search Network with Display Select

When you add a new campaign, the first thing Google asks you for is the campaign type. Your options are the following:

Search Network only
Display Network only
Search Network with Display Select
Shopping

Assuming this is not a shopping campaign (we’ll touch on that later), you should choose either search or display. Google tries to steer you towards the combo category, claiming it gives you the best opportunity to reach more customers. However, search campaigns and display campaigns target different audiences and serve different initiatives.  If you’re looking to drive conversions, focus on the search network only. On the other hand, if brand awareness is your game, the display network is your playground.

Running Ads that Don’t Speak to Your Audience

If your company only ships products to the continental US, you shouldn’t be paying for your ads to be shown to buyers in Saskatchewan. If you’re targeting the population of Mexico, your ads shouldn’t be in English.

Setup your campaigns to target the area your customers are living in. Similarly, ads should be written in the language they speak. If you feel like you are missing out on capturing an audience outside of your main service areas, try setting up a dedicated test campaign using geographically based search terms to catch the outliers.

Letting Google Run the Show

You know your market better than Google – trust yourself to assess what is an appropriate limit on budgets. Accelerated delivery settings serve ad impressions as the opportunity arises, while standard delivery settings pace impressions based on a predicted number of daily inquiries. Using standard delivery, you’ll miss out on impressions no matter what your budget is because of Google’s predetermined pacing. A simple solution is to set your own budgets so you don’t run out of cash using accelerated campaigns.

Tolerating Poor Segmentation

Every market responds differently to AdWords. Volume and conversion rates vary significantly depending on time of day, a customer’s location, and the device they’re using. You have historical account data on these behaviors – use it to predict future patterns.

Typically, response rates from mobile users are well below that of the desktop/tablet-using contingency. See which campaigns are preforming poorly and lower those bids. If customers in one location typically have a higher return on ad spend (ROAS) than those in another, adjust the bids accordingly. AdWords allows you to set 6 different bid adjustments per day based on the time (up to 42 bid adjustments per week). Figure out (or refer to your data to determine) when your customers are shopping and hit those times hardest.

Know which segments convert best in your market and bid higher on them. Also, be sure you’re leveraging the higher bids by lowering those on segments that historically haven’t converted as well.

Dropping the Ball on Ad Extensions

Not all extensions are created equal. In general, ad extensions get you better placement and lower costs per click. They also involve minimal set-up and are displayed at no additional cost. Decide which extensions are best for your business and start reaping the benefits.

If you want to prompt customers to contact you by phone, call extensions are the way to go. These allow you to incorporate your phone number into text ads (otherwise not allowed by Google). On mobile devices, these extensions even add a call button to your ad. Location extensions are perfect for those with a brick and mortar business as they incorporate a physical address and phone number into ads (even link Google Places accounts).

Other extension options include linking to a review, especially if there’s a reputable source that has given your business some good feedback. Or if you offer an app, make it as easy as possible for customers to research and download it.

If none of these extensions make sense for your business, sitelink extensions have the answer. They allow you to promote additional landing pages below your standard ad text. You get 25 characters per extension to drive traffic to a relevant site, and up to four sitelinks can appear with each text ad. That’s a lot of front-page real estate at no additional cost!

Ignoring Match Type and Negative Keywords

One of the biggest AdWords pitfalls is allowing Google to determine which queries you want your ads shown for. Google is pretty intuitive but they get it wrong – a lot. The more direction you give them, the better your results will be. Unless you specify the type of matches you want, your keywords will all default to broad match. Use Exact and Phrase match for more control over when your ads are shown.

Just as important is safeguarding your ads against unrelated searches. Use the search terms tool to discover the queries that trigger your ads. If there are irrelevant terms, include them as negative keywords in order to suppress the ad from showing and potentially throwing money out the window. Don’t forget, match type counts for negative keywords too!

Lumping Together Shopping Campaigns

If you sell anything online, shopping campaigns are a must. The biggest pitfall here is that unless you pay attention to the details, every product will end up in a catchall category called “all products.” Not all products offer the same return, so categorize inventory with a focus on product lines, profit margins, and best sellers. The introduction of Shopping Campaigns has made it easier than ever to use labels and targets to group products and bid accordingly.

Features like extensions, proper categorizations, and specific match types add details to your campaigns to both stand out from your competitors and target shoppers outside of your typical audience. Even if you were catching 75% of your potential customers with your initial AdWords setup, you should not ignore the last quarter. With a few detailed fixes, your campaigns can be a smarter and more cost effective for your eCommerce brand.

The post Google Adwords: 7 Ways To Fail Your Online Marketing Campaign with #Adwords appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

4 Ways To Use A Customer Database to Grow Your Business

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 15:15

Ramon Ray, editor of Smallbiztechnology.com recently sat down with Ashley Meyers of the Wells Fargo Business Insight series to discuss the importance of using a customer database to grow your business.

During this live audio interview, Ramon discusses four ways every small business can use a customer database to grow their business, along with tips on what types of information you should be collecting and strategic ways to use that information to convert one time customers into lifelong advocates for your business and brand.

Click HERE to listen to the full interview or click the image below:

 

Are you collecting information and using a customer database to grow your business? Share your thoughts, experiences and comments with out Smallbiztechnology.com community below!

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Categories: SMB

Vote Ramon @SXSW Presentation: The Local Celebrity Entrepreneur – Personal Branding

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 19:41

Ramon needs (would please like) your vote. SXSW Interactive , the biggest conference and show about all things digital, social and tech takes place in Austin of each year. I need your vote please, for my panel submission, “The Local Celebrity Entrepreneur: How Personal Branding Helps Your Small Business Crush Your Competition

Please vote. I would would appreciate it very much.

In this SXSW panel session you’ll learn why building your personal brand is so important, how to do it and my personal journey of personal brand building.

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Categories: SMB

Robots Or Humans Serving Your Hotel Room? Beep, beep, Here’s Your Newspaper

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 18:00

Let’s say you need some tooth paste, shaving cream or the morning’s newspaper delivered to your hotel room. Would you mind if a robot brought it to you? Would you prefer a human?

Robots are not new, some of them vacuum our floors and others are getting ready to drive our cars  - as Google.

But the question – although we have the OPTION to use robots in our day to day activities – should we? Is their a limit?

For the sake of the hotels brand extension at every touch point , is a human smile more welcoming than a robot?

The New York Times writes, On Aug. 20, the Aloft hotel here will begin testing this robotic bellhop, a wheeled service vehicle designed to shuttle items from the hotel lobby desk to guest rooms. Whether a gimmick or a sign of things to come, Botlr is the latest among a new generation of robots — like Google’s self-driving car, Aetheon’s Tug hospital supply robot and Caddytrek’s electric golf caddy — that are starting to walk or roll around the everyday world.

Think about it. Just because we can automate – should we? Where does a warm human smile work better than a a robots blinking LED lights?

Robots can be more efficient, work harder and can bring more features and benefits in certain areas, than humans can.

Tough choice…

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Categories: SMB

Why Credit Card Swipe Wars Are A Trojan Horse For Small Business Mobile Payments

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:00

So Amazon.com is the latest company to offier a credit card swipe processing system to small businesses. Other vendors include Square, Intuit, PayPal, Apriva and others.

The mobile payments market is big and large companies want to ensure small businesses are using their services.

The big difference these vendors offer is the fees they charge for each credit card swipe – you can research that on your own.

But guess what? The real deal here is not so much the credit card swipe, it’s the desire to be your overall credit card processor and more.

For PayPal for example, they don’t just want you to swipe your credit card, they want to provide you with a loan for your business – instead of your bank. See PayPal Credit

For Amazon.com they want to not just handle your swipe transactions but also to help you OVERALL sell online.

The credit card swipe – is just the tip of the iceberg,  These giants want to help you SELL MORE and take a small piece of each transaction.

Which one will you choose?

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Categories: SMB

Why Is Twitter Phoning Small Businesses Helping Them Optimize Their Twitter Advertising

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 15:00

Last week I received a Tweet (or maybe an email) from someone from Twitter. At first I thought it might have been someone from PR or business development or even marketing. It wasn’t. It was someone from Twitter’s advertising department calling to help me better optimize my advertising campaign on Twitter for the 9th Annual Small Business Summit.

If Twitter is calling me, I’m sure they’re calling thousands of others small businesses.

I’ve advertised on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google -no one’s ever called me to help me make my campaign better.

Am I impressed – yes?

If Twitter is looking at advertising campaigns and being in touch with advertising – small advertisers – to help them improve their campaigns – my hat’s off to them.

The lady who called me, didn’t tell me anything earth shattering, but she did give me some specific steps I could take to improve my advertising campaign. I’m impressed.

Publishers, like Twitter, who sell advertising know that if you can show a return on an advertisers investment, they’ll advertise with you again and again.

While you can help small businesses through a variety of online options, nothing quite beats a personal engagement with someone – via a phone call or in person meeting.

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Categories: SMB

Celebrating the Best of Small Business at the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards!

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 15:00

The countdown is on for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards, a joint venture between Small Biz Technology and Small Business Trends. Now in its 4th year, this awards competition is a way to recognize the people who support and contribute to small business growth in North America.

The Small Business Influencer Awards have three stages. The first is the nomination period, which runs through August 29, 2014. During this period people can visit the website and nominate a person or organization located in North America that is involved in supporting, assisting, serving or enabling small business, either through products, services, information or expertise.

There are 6 influencer categories and two special categories for nominations:

  • News Outlets
  • Corporations
  • Journalists
  • Leaders
  • Experts
  • Apps
  • Special Category – Small Business Marketing Campaign of the Year
  • Special Category – Small Business Growth Story of the Year

It is free to nominate someone, so if you know a person or business that qualifies, honor them by placing your nomination today!

After the nomination round the voting round begins, which occurs in two stages. During August 29 through September 15, the nominees for Small Business Influencer Awards will be posted on the website and you can head over to vote for your favorites. You can vote for as many nominees as you want, but you are limited to one vote per nominee.

In the second stage the judges panel goes to work deciding who should win awards. Joining Ramon Ray on the judges panel are Anita Cambell, Ivanna Taylor, Susan Payton, Joel Libava, Melinda F. Emerson, Brent Leary, Rieva Lesonsky, Barry Moltz, Sabrina Parsons, Andrew Patricio, JJ Ramberg, Tina Stock and Doug Sleeter.

The final round of the Small Business Influencer Awards is the announcement of the winners and the ceremony. On the week of September 22, 2014, the Top 100 Influencer Champions will be announced, as well as the Community Choice Awards (the top 5 vote getters from each category, 100% chosen by popular votes). Then on October 21, 2014 the Small Business Influencer Awards concludes with an awards gala to celebrate the champions. Winners each receive one admission to the gala, but anyone who wants to attend can purchase tickets as well.

We want YOUR input in this year’s Small Business Influencer Awards! Make sure to place your nominations by August 29 and cast your votes by September 15 to make your voice heard. Then join us in October for a small business bash where we celebrate the top influencers in small business for 2014. We hope to see you there!

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Categories: SMB

2 Reasons Google Beats Microsoft in the Cloud

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 18:30

There have been a number of epic rivalries throughout history –  Hatfield v. McCoy, Ali v. Frazier, Connors v. McEnroe, Coke v. Pepsi, Yankees v. Red Sox; iOS v. Android – all of which have proponents from one side or the other spewing why they are clearly better than their rival. Well, there is another battle ensuing in the world of cloud technology – it’s Google v. Microsoft, and just as in all other battles, we’re seeing tech experts speak out for who they believe the clear winner is. One such expert, Michael Spadaro of Profound Cloud, has picked his side and shares with us 2 major reasons why Google beats Microsoft in the cloud!

When it comes to helping small businesses work in the cloud, it’s a two-horse race between Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office 365, with each sharing an equal part of the pie. While both have formidable market share and offer solid productivity and collaborative cloud solutions, one will always prevail over the other based on the specific criteria and needs of the business. Here is where Spadaro see’s Google Apps coming out ahead:

Search

Search is what Google is known for and an important aspect of their cloud based software to help increase productivity. Whether it’s emails and attachments in Gmail or documents and spreadsheets saved in Google Drive, you have the ability to quickly search and retrieve exactly what you are looking for. This is a huge time-saver for those who have massive amounts of information in their network.

Mobility

In today’s very mobile world, people jump from their PC to their tablet to their smartphone a number of times throughout the day. The ability to function, regardless of where you are or what device you are using is crucial for productivity and collaboration. Google works seamlessly across all your devices, allowing you to easily retrieve, edit and collaborate on everything saved within your apps.

This battle is far from over and you can join the main event at the Small Business Summit 2014, where Spadaro will go up against the Microsoft proponent, Melanie Gass,  in a head to head bout where each side will share their advantages to the small business owner.

 

It’s a battle you won’t want to miss! Early bird tickets are on sale now through August 31st, so grab your tickets today!

Do you use either Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365 in your small business? If so, let us know which side of the battle you are on and why in the comments below!

 

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Categories: SMB

8 Simple Ways Smart Companies Harness Technology’s Full Potential

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 20:01

When your computer does not work, it’s a pain. But it’s actually more than a pain. You can’t get work done, productivity drops and client requests go unfulfilled. If the problem is security related then your computer is open to vulnerabilities which could result in lost data or stolen data.

There’s a lot of ways to ensure your technology works and we’re excited to partner with Staples EasyTech Total Support. to bring you some tips and best practices to get this done.

One of the awesome benefits of Staples EasyTech Total Support is that it ensures critical maintenance for PCs with one- and two- year plans that include virus removal, in-store diagnostics, in-store software installation, internet security and #1-rated SquareTrade Accident Protection Plans. Additional services include Data Transfer, Microsoft Office and Premier PC Setup.

Sometimes your computer is not “broken” but you just need help setting it up, like when you buy a new computer or other tech tool, you might not have the time or the know how to set it up and put it together. Would you rather spend 2 hours installing a new network or setting up a few computers, or spend those hours growing your business, responding to a client, spending time with an employee, or just watching TV with your children or spouse!

I interviewed Staples EasyTech Manager Felix. We spoke about how Staples EasyTech works, why it’s a great solution for small businesses who need tech help and advice to help you take care of your own tech as well!

See the interview below or here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlyzvp2q0wo

(scroll down to see a full list of tips from Ramon – the Technology Evangelist)

  1. Educate yourself about technology – read product reviews and follow  media such as Small Business Trends, SmallBizTechnology.com, NY Times Your The Boss Blog, Inc Magazine, Wall Street Journal Small Business and other media that cover tech in full or in part.
  2. Before you buy technology know what your business pain points are – customer service? new customers? work flow? Then find technology that can help.
  3. Get help. You are an expert in what you sell or make – right? That’s why people buy it. In the same way, you are NOT an expert in technology. Get help to implement technology in your business.
  4. Technology should grow with your business – don’t buy technology that is limited and can’t grow with your business. Maybe you have one client today and will have 30 tomorrow. Maybe you are a 2 employee company today and a 15 one tomorrow. Ensure the technology you buy is scalable and can meet your needs TODAY and TOMORROW!
  5. Don’t be CHEAP – while free technology sounds nice and can “save you money” – in the long run it might hurt you. With free technology you might not get the support you need. Furthermore, often when you PAY for the “premium” version of a product it has more of the features you need.
  6. Upgrade. Technology evolves and your business evolves. Technology gets faster, cheaper, more feature rich. If you are not appropriately upgrading technology, you’ll find that your OLD technology will slow you down. Newer technology is updated to have less bugs, crash less, be more secure and have better features. Don’t upgrade needlessly, of course. But DO upgrade.
  7. Backup and Recovery. YOU WILL lose a file. Your hard drive will crash. Someone WILL take your thumb drive. A flood or fire will (well we hope not) damage your business. When these things happen it’s critical have a BACKUP of your files and applications and a way to RECOVER THEM.
  8. Of course our 8th tip, in partnership with Staples, is to definitely visit your local Staples store and try out Staples EasyTech Total Support.

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Categories: SMB

Increase Your Email Marketing Results With These TidBits from Mailchimp

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 15:00

 

Big shoutout to Mailchimp for compiling some awesome research on email marketing. Here’s four nuggets of wisdom. Check out this page for all the details - http://mailchimp.com/resources/research/

  • Having less words in an email, with a good link, is more effective than many words. Get to the point.
  • Don’t purchase emails. Build your own list organically and through lead generation campaigns.
  • Emails are opened more from 9am – 12pm and much less after 9pm
  • More folks open emails Tuesday – Thursdays

 

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Categories: SMB

New Service from Duda, InSite, Makes Your DIY Website Dynamically Personally

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 19:00

Duda, creators of mobile ready websites, has launched  new service inSite that enables you to have deep personalization for reach visitor to your Duda website. If it’s after 9pm, visitors might get a message that says they should expect an email the next  day. Or maybe first time visitors get one message and 3rd time visitors get another option.

There’s not much for me to write about, except to say this service is amazingly cool and powerful.

The battle of do it yourself web sites continues to evolve and it all benefits customers. Wix, Squarespace and Duda all provide great web site services and they all have a bit of an edge on each other.

Here’s more about inSite from the Duda press release

A customer visiting a restaurant’s website via his mobile phone from six blocks away during lunchtime is most likely looking for a different menu than someone visiting from a desktop computer on a Friday evening. With inSite, the website can instantly recognize these differences and show the mobile customer a menu of lunch specials, along with a 20 percent off coupon, while showing the evening customer a dinner and wine menu.

Utilizing inSite, the restaurant can preset what content these different types of customers will see based on variables such as time of day or week, device type, number of visits, location and more; without requiring any development work.

According to research by Econsultancy, 94 percent of companies agree that website personalization is critical to current and future business success. However, given the vast technical requirements and immense cost usually associated with creating dynamic website personalization (DWP), those features have been largely out of reach for most web professionals and small businesses. Enterprise companies are spending thousands of dollars on personalized websites. However, this feature is finally available to web professionals and small businesses for less than $19 per month. Additionally, any DudaOne user can try inSite for free for 30 days.

“The bigger companies have always had the budgets and resources to create elaborate personalized user experiences, creating an unfair situation for smaller businesses and web professionals. Today, with inSite, we’re leveling the playing field by democratizing this technology and making it possible for anyone to easily build enterprise-grade websites without the need for massive budgets or a large development team,” says Itai Sadan, CEO and Co-founder of Duda.

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Categories: SMB

Should Small Business Buy Refilled Ink Cartridges? HP’s Answer Might Surprise You.

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 17:00

In an understandable effort to save money, many small business owners have considered and/or used refilled ink cartridges for their inkjet or laserjet printers. If they’re not “refilled”, I know many folks have bought printing ink (toner) supplies that are not manufactured by their original manufacturer.

I think part of this debate could be like religion and part of it could be like science – there is factually a right and a wrong answer. I’ve invited HP’s Michael Borg, Portfolio Lead and Strategic Business Manager – LaserJet Supplies to share his thoughts on this topic.

With cost being top of mind for small businesses, many companies question the necessity of investing in original vendor printing supplies, also called original equipment manufacturer (OEM) supplies. Remanufactured inks and toners may seem more affordable at first glance, but that can be misleading. It is important to assess the many costs of printing when making a purchasing decision. Inks and toners are not “one size fits all” products. For example, Original HP toner particles are specifically engineered based on size, shape, charge and melting point in order to perform seamlessly with the needs of each print device. Up to 70 percent of the print system lies within the Original HP toner cartridge. Using remanufactured toner products instead of original vendor supplies is like putting improperly engineered gas in a vehicle that is designed to run only on premium fuel. You will likely be able to get from point A to point B, but could damage the engine over time and cause your vehicle’s performance to suffer.

Using remanufactured toner products instead of original vendor supplies is like putting improperly engineered gas in a vehicle that is designed to run only on premium fuel.

Don’t cut corners where it counts.

The price for poor-quality printing adds up. As small businesses strive to cut costs, office supplies, like printer ink and toner, are often targets for reevaluation. While the initial cost of generic ink and toner can be appealing, it’s important to note that these off-brand products can wind up costing you in the end.

For example, when purchasing remanufactured cartridges, you must account for the extra paper, supplies and time that is needed to compensate for poor print quality, including streaks, fading or color shifts.[1],[2] These costs are often overlooked and are more common than you may realize.

  • Buyers Laboratory found that more than 70 percent of refilled ink cartridges failed during use or right out of the box.
  • Additionally, SpencerLab found that  1 in 3 non-HP toner cartridges tested exhibited a problem. 

Protect yourself from counterfeit.

If you decide that you prefer to use original vendor supplies, make sure you’re getting what you paid for. Even if it looks and feels like an Original HP ink or toner cartridge, you could be misled into purchasing an illegal, unauthorized, refilled, remanufactured or cloned reproduction.[4] To detect and avoid counterfeit products, look for HP security seals with QR code technology and HP official packaging, and use the HP Cartridge Authentication feature that comes standard with all HP inkjet printers and All-in-Ones.

Take steps to increase sustainability.

Remanufactured ink and toner suppliers may or may not have a process in place for responsible reuse and disposal of cartridges. Recycling is part of the product lifecycle, and HP helps make the experience free and easy for you. In fact, HP customers have kept 566 million Original HP ink and LaserJet cartridges out of landfills by recycling them through the HP Planet Partners program. The raw plastic from these recycled cartridges is often used to produce new Original HP print cartridges. More than 75 percent of ink cartridges and 24 percent of HP LaserJet toner cartridges are now manufactured with “closed loop” recycled plastic.[5]

The bottom line.

A discount ink or toner cartridge may not really be a discount. Assess the many costs of using remanufactured inks and toners, and reconsider cutting corners related to print quality and performance.

 

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Categories: SMB

How A Zero Email World Is Possible With The Right Tools. A Look At Contatta

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 16:00

Last week I watched a webinar showcasing the power of Contatta. Contatta is a mix of Asana’s task managements, Evernote’s brain dump and Google’s email powers.

While Contatta’s platform is amazing, what I realized more is that to NOT be drowned in company email – you must be willing to change habits in two main ways.

One you must be willing to use your platform’s communication software (such as Contatta) and two you must be willing to live in it. While email is an inbox of dread systems like Contatta have built in intuitiveness that let you turn emails into tasks, tasks into emails and beyond.

(Note – mail outside your company is more challenging and you’ll have to live with that for the most part. But internal email – you can reduce it)

“The promise of Contatta is simple: it’s for business owners who want less email, fewer meetings, and more collaboration,” said Pat Sullivan, CEO and co-founder of Contatta. “The end result, you drastically reduce the amount of time spent in the inbox, and spend more time working on the activities that move your business forward.”

Whether you use Contatta or some other tool, first and foremost is HOW you use the tool and allowing it to help you reduce email clutt.

At Infusionsoft we use Jive, a different type of communication platform than Contatta, but I’m starting to use it for more communication – let’s see if my inbox gets less filled!

 

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Categories: SMB

3 Months Until Holiday Sales. 5 Ways To Get e-Commerce Ready, Before It’s Too Late

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 15:00

It’s August – it’s hot, sales might even be down for some of you – however – YOU KNOW and I KNOW That the holiday sales season is coming soon! The time to get ready is NOT November 1st, it’s now. Your  mobile strategy, web site, online marketing, customer delight, shipping, SEO and so much more must be DIALED IN.

Nikole Haiar, Director, Marketing Campaigns & Programs at Hostway Services, Inc. share hers awesome advice below.

The holiday season might seem distant today, but for e-commerce merchants, there’s no time like the present to get prepared for the annual rush. The peak selling season can be a stressful time for online merchants who are scrambling to get products to customers as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s a good idea to take stock of your e-commerce operation now to make sure you’ll be prepared when the shopping season is in full swing.

Planning infrastructure needs, considering platform upgrades, testing your system for weaknesses – these activities are easier to conduct during a slower time than at the height of cyber shopping season. Here are five tips to help you get started:

Evaluate your site. Most e-commerce stores start out small and then grow as the merchant builds a customer base. Have you outgrown your site? Now is a good time to take a critical look, evaluating your online store against competitors. Is your site optimized for mobile shopping? Does it have a professional look and feel? Is the layout intuitive, and do you provide images of all your products to entice potential buyers? These are important questions to consider when preparing for the upcoming e-commerce season.

Check out your shopping cart. These days, a basic shopping cart may not be enough to keep customers in your store. Consumers increasingly expect greater levels of personalization and a streamlined check-out experience. If your shopping cart software fails to deliver, you could be losing sales. Does your cart display items, order status and extras like reviews, product ratings, images and discount offers? Are you making it as easy as possible for customers to buy? If not, now is a good time to upgrade your cart.

Assess your payment options. Are you still asking customers to pay using PayPal only, or restricting credit card acceptance to a single brand? If so, you may be missing out on a lot of sales. You might want to consider opening a merchant account so you can securely and automatically handle online transactions. With the right merchant account integrated into your e-commerce store, you can safely accept all major credit cards.

Keep your store safe. Hacking is on the rise, and consumers are edgy about trusting merchants with their vital account information in light of recent headlines about big retailers experiencing data breaches. If you have a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate for your site, it lets customers know their information will be encrypted before transmission, which can improve their confidence level – and keep any potential purchases with your business. Add PCI compliance capabilities to follow regulations on the transmission of payment-card data, and avoid attracting negative attention from regulators.

Make sure your store can handle traffic spikes. The e-commerce shopping season kicks off in earnest on Cyber Monday, which will fall on December 1 in 2014. It would be great to get a huge influx of customers on that day and a steady stream for the remainder of the holiday season…unless your infrastructure can’t handle the load. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to be able to scale up resources quickly to meet emerging demand – and ideally, to be able to scale back down just as easily once the rush is over. If your hosting partner doesn’t allow this, it’s time to find one that does.

Even though it’s the busiest time of the year, e-commerce merchants often look forward to peak shopping time. It’s exciting to build relationships with new suppliers and customers while also renewing ties with existing contacts. But before peak cyber shopping time gets here, it makes sense to prepare for the holiday shopper stampede. There’s no time like the present.

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: SMB

Must Attend Event for Small Business Owners: 9th Annual Small Business Summit in NYC

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:00

Join us for the 9th Annual Small Business Summit coming to NYC on October 22, 2014! The event, which is produced by Ramon Ray, editor and technology evangelist at Smallbiztechnology.com, and Marian Banger, business growth consultant at Prime Strategies, is a full day of Learning, Networking and Fun for those looking to GROW their small business.

Attracting over 400 attendees, this all day event focuses on educating the small business owner on the latest strategies and how-to’s in various business areas including marketing, accounting, operations, etc. It’s a day full of LEARNING from experts and NETWORKING with other small business owners just like you!

The summit is unlike any other event that you will attend because it is run by two small business advocates, Ramon and Marian, who have taken their passion for small business and turned it into a living vision and a special community specifically for small business owners.

As a special, just for our Smallbiztechnology readers, we are offering a limited amount of coupons offering $50 off the early bird price! Use code SBTVIP on an early bird ticket by August 31st to take advantage – but do it now as there are a limited amount of these coupons available and they’ll go to those who grab them first! Click the button below for instant access to your ticket and discount code.

Only at the Small Business Summit can you get insider tips and secrets on how to grow your business, the latest technology programs, marketing strategies that really work and so much more!   Check out all of our guest speakers and get more information on what topics they will will be covering at the Small Business Summit website.

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Categories: SMB

Website Security: Secure Your Website Or Get Lower Rankings In Google.

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 16:54

Website security is important. Companies who receive and store information need to ensure that their web site does not just LOOK good but that it is secure. One of the ways many companies secure their web site is be using the “HTTPS” (Hyper Text Transport Layer Security) protocol to encrypt communication between the web browser and the server. You’ll know HTTPS is in action when there is an “https://” (note the “s) used in the web site name and also there will be an indication of security with a lock, showing a secure web connection.

Google, in an effort to boost more secure web sites is gently going to starting using a web sites security as one measure of web site security rankings.

As they write in this blog post:

or these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. 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. In the coming weeks, we’ll publish detailed best practices (we’ll add a link to it from here) to make TLS adoption easier, and to avoid common mistakes. Here are some basic tips to get started:
  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag

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Categories: SMB