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Database marketing is becoming more and more popular in today’s business world, and for good reason. According to Forbes, companies who adopt data-driven marketing are more likely to have an advantage over their competition and increase profitability. Although database marketing is popular, there are still a lot of business owners and CEOs who do not know what it is, or how to use it properly. If you are one of those people, today is your lucky day. In this article, I will be discussing everything you need to know about database marketing, and how to use it properly.

What Is Database Marketing?

Database marketing is defined as a form of direct marketing that uses databases of customers to generate targeted lists for direct marketing communications. It is the process of marketing your products and/or services to a select group of people who are more likely to purchase what you are selling based on information that was compiled by a database. Some of the information that a database may contain include customers’ names and addresses, phone numbers, emails, genders, and purchase histories. For example, let’s say a business is unveiling a new product that is specifically designed for females. In this situation, a business owner would not want to waste time and money on marketing this product to a male because the likelihood of them purchasing it are slim. Instead, databases could be used to find out who your female customers are, what are their spending habits, and what their demographics are.

Advantages of Database Marketing

When it comes to database marketing, there is a multitude of advantages. However, there are three specific advantages that are worth noting above all the others. Below is a list of those three advantages. 

Allows You to Easily Identify Customer Groups: Database marketing allows you to easily identify which customers are loyal, which are new, and which are occasional buyers. This is useful information for a business owner or a CEO to know because it allows them to market their products more accurately. For example, if you are trying to market a new product, it would be more beneficial for you to directly market it to loyal customers who have a history of purchasing items from your store as opposed to people who are occasional buyers who don’t buy from your store often.

Improves Your Overall Marketing Efficiency: Database marketing also improves your overall marketing efficiency because it allows you to identify which type of people are purchasing certain products. When you know which type of people are more likely to purchase a specific product, you can then directly market said product to them instead of wasting time and money sending campaigns to those who are unlikely to respond. Saving time and money will automatically increase your overall marketing efficiency.

Improves Your Customer Service: The third and final major advantage of database marketing is that it improves your customer service. Having access to all of your customers’ information enables your support staff to answer customer questions faster and more accurately. This will inevitably increase your customer service.

Challenges of Database Marketing

Although the advantages of database marketing far outweigh the disadvantages, it is worth noting some challenges that you may face along the way if you decide to adopt database marketing into your business. Below is a list of two challenges that you may face.

Inaccurate Data: Although databases provide a multitude of information that a business can use in order to market more effectively, the reality is that there is no guarantee that all the data is accurate. This is due to consumers not always providing accurate information. Sometimes consumers do this unintentionally, and sometimes it is intentional. Regardless of the intent, the fact of the matter is that the odds of all of your information being 100% accurate are slim to none. However, you can limit some inaccuracies by replacing input fields with standardized drop-down menus or checkboxes.   

Data Decay: Anytime a consumer changes their address, gets a new job, or makes any other significant life change, their data immediately becomes obsolete. Just like inaccurate data, there is virtually no way to stop this. However, you can limit it by focusing on information that is less likely to change as opposed to things that have a high probability of changing. Focus on things such as name and phone number as opposed to email.

In summary, database marketing is something that many businesses are starting to adopt, and for good reason. Although database marketing is not perfect, it is definitely something every business owner and CEO should adopt because it allows you to market more efficiently, and saves time and money.

The post Everything You Need to Know about Database Marketing appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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Marketing your startup is no easy task. Between every channel and platform, there’s a lot to consider. However, social media can be a successful tool to launch your startup and attract customers. Businesses will spend over $17 billion on social media this year alone.

To stay top of mind with your target audience requires strategy, planning, and consistency. Do your market research by checking out your audience. Where are they spending their time? Building your brand message takes time if done right, but make sure it is exceptional and consistent across all platforms.

As an entrepreneur or founder, it can be difficult to carve out the time for social media among all the other to-dos on your plate. Funds may be tight in the early stages of business, and your time is valuable. It’s helpful to automate tasks.

To build successful social media for your startup, first evaluate your goals. What makes your business unique? Set goal metrics by considering what’s most important to your company and breaking that down into small digestible objectives. A consistent social media strategy with quality content is what will set your business apart and attract customers. The key is to engage with your audience across all channels. It’s also helpful to automate tasks where possible.

For a more in-depth look, view this step-by-step guide to social media for startups and small businesses by Valpak. It covers everything from crafting SMART social media goals and metrics to building a robust omnichannel marketing experience. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to refresh your startup’s social media, this robust guide contains helpful how-to’s and tips to point you in the right direction.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SMALL BUSINESS

The post How to Build Your Startup’s Social Media: In-Depth Guide appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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Raising capital for a new business is no small task. Entrepreneurs are faced with several options, including self-financing their startups, taking out a SBA business loan, or seeking angel investors to get their businesses off the ground.

One method of raising funds for a new business or project is to use an ICO, short for Initial Coin Offering, to give buyers a share of your startup by selling crypto tokens in exchange for another form of cryptocurrency. Because ICOs have no regulating body and are decentralized, they are an easy-to-use, versatile option for startups to raise capital.

Still, entrepreneurs should consider potential disadvantages that come with ICOs, namely that they bear significant risk and can be expensive to launch. Prior to launching a campaign, small business owners should keep in mind both the pros and cons that come with using an ICO to fund new business ventures.

See the infographic below from Fundera to learn all you need to know about raising capital with an ICO.

The post How to Use an ICO to Fund Your Small Business appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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If you own a business with an e-commerce platform or are considering starting one to further share your product or service, and don’t feel like it is hitting its full potential, you could benefit from specialized techniques to boost sales. These tips will help you reach more customers, sell more products, and hit new unique visitor highs!

Just having an online store component to your website isn’t enough to hit the potential that your e-commerce platform has, regardless of industry or product offerings. By utilizing these techniques, you will surprise yourself with the amount of value you will get through your e-commerce site.

Paid Traffic

Paid traffic utilizes paid advertising through a search engine to improve your conversion rates. As a result, it is a highly effective way to boost your e-commerce success.  For instance, if your company sells high-quality custom shirts, your firm could be advertised at the top of the search results when a user searches “high-quality custom shirts.” One of the most popular paid traffic methods is Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Though you will need to invest capital into this method, it can be overwhelmingly successful. Additionally, you can directly track how much of customer conversions are due to paid traffic and adjust accordingly.

Social Media

First, if your firm doesn’t have social media accounts, you should make them. When more than 2 billion people use social media in 2019, social media can give you access to so many more people than you could otherwise reach. While a storefront limits you to the local audience, an e-commerce platform permits you to go beyond local sales, and allows reach to across the United States and even across the world. Thus, an active and effective social media presence is vital and the #1 way to reach consumers who otherwise might never hear of you.

By creating Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts to engage with your consumers, you will be able to share information about your company, fix any issues with customers’ experiences, and crowdsource for product offerings. More than that, you will be able to truly build a community around your company.

Helpful to more than just your digital marketing strategy, utilizing your social media presence to promote your e-commerce offerings can radically transform your conversion rates. In particular, by offering platform-specific promotions, you can directly see which social media platforms are most effective for your company and adjust accordingly.

Be Mobile

It is absolutely important in today’s day and age to have a mobile presence for your firm, specifically for your e-commerce platform. Though having a social media presence is part of this, being mobile also involves having a mobile-friendly website and even having a mobile application.

You need to make sure that when you develop your mobile app or website, regardless of whether you outsource development or use in-house resources, it has a quality user interface. Ensure that it is easy for customers to find e-commerce offerings and even easier to buy them. Finally, make sure your app stays technologically up-to-date. There are many things to consider when developing an innovative mobile application.

Security

Customers value security and so should you. When 17% of those who abandon their carts do so because of payment security concerns, you should do all you can to alleviate this fear. There are many options for trust seals that you can use to signal the security level of your firm’s checkout process. PayPal is popular, with 66% of people saying they trust it, and Verisign comes in at a close second, with 63% of people saying they trust it. By obtaining one of these or a different trust badge, you can easily cut down bounce rates due to security concerns.

Simplify

It is vital that you simplify the checkout process as much as possible, as you want to make buying your products easy for consumers. If you want your conversion rate to be as high as possible, customers shouldn’t have to do anything that is even mildly inconvenient. To better suit their needs, sites should offer the option for customers to check out as a guest rather than needing to make an account with your website, you can streamline the checkout process for all.

By using paid search and social media, being effectively mobile, and securing and simplifying your checkout process, your firm’s e-commerce results will radically transform. If you want to see results, use these tips!

The post How to Boost E-Commerce Sales appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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Looking to take your business to the next level?

Think it’s time to cross borders?

From developing a strategy to your long-term goal, here are some tips for growing your business internationally.

Do Your Research

First things first – decide whether expanding to this particular place or area is a good idea.

Where will your product or service fit in?

You need to have an understanding of a number of different factors, such as demand.

Also, consider:

  • What adjustments do you need to make?
  • Is the country the best possible place?
  • Are there any limitations?
  • Does the area need your product or service?

Doing your research is always key – as it’s unlikely your expansion will be a success without it.

Discover New Partnerships

Partnerships can bring new skills, technologies and knowledge to your business.

Across a wide variety of sectors, connecting with the right people is key to success.

There are a number of different types of partnership business out there, you just need to find the right one for you.

Get to Know the International Market

Don’t assume everything will be the same internationally. Even if your business is doing well at the moment, that doesn’t mean it will do so overseas.

Consider local needs and demands, as this will give you an idea of how your product or service will be received.

Stick to a Plan

Formulate a plan and stick to it.

Every country has different regulations, so these need to be factored in when putting together your strategy. For example, one market might need a completely unique plan to another.

Having a plan gives your business expansion the best possible chance of success.

Assess Opportunities

What business opportunities does your target market in a potential country present?

Don’t take the country as a whole; remember there are different traditions, dialects and behaviours within that.

Considering every possibility is central to growing your business overseas.

Understand Consumer Behaviour

Remember, no two consumers are the same. When expanding internationally, you need to get to know your new consumers.

Take a close look at all the finer details, such as:

  • How do they interact with services or products such as yours? (If at all)
  • For ecommerce, consider when and how your consumers shop
  • What drives your consumers?
  • How loyal are they?
  • How ethically-conscious are they?
  • Are they price sensitive or insensitive?
  • How will they perceive your business?
  • When would they use your product or service?
Hire the Right People

Hiring local people who understand the market and consumer behaviours is key. They should have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t, in a way you may not.

This will help ensure you don’t overlook anything essential, giving you an insider view into the area.

Nail a Marketing Strategy

Local marketing is everything. You need to spread the world, and get your business out there, in a way that will appeal to your target audience.

Get advice on the best ways to approach this from your local employees. Cultural differences can mean the best way to break into the market could be different from what you first thought.

Set Goals

Give yourself goals and milestones to work towards. What do you want to achieve in a year’s time? What’s your long-term plan?

This will give you concrete targets in your head, making success easier to achieve.

The post Tips for Growing Your Business Internationally appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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In the past decade, consumers have experienced revolutionary innovations regarding how they access products. In the age of Google and Amazon, all the products and services you could ever want are available at the click of a button. And consumers are loving it! In 2017, e-commerce sales hit $448 billion. Additionally, same and next day shipping is increasingly becoming popular as firms hop on board with e-commerce. In an age when we are focusing on efficiency and optimized supply chains, the future of shipping looks very bright.

Warehousing Automation

Automation in warehousing has grown over recent years. By optimizing shipping at the warehouse or starting point, costs for the whole shipping process are dramatically reduced. Different methods for adding automation to a warehouse include selecting services or carriers based on the weight or type of package, adding insurance to parcels after they exceed a pre-set dollar value, and implementing predetermined criteria for packages that need to be reviewed by people or managers.

Drones & Self-Driving Cars

Though they haven’t been implemented yet, there is a lot of potential for shipping processes to be influenced by the use of drones or autonomous cars. Costs for shipping would quickly go down, as consumers wouldn’t have to field the costs for workers who would otherwise deliver the packages. The legality and safety of drones and autonomous cars are still being debated, but the advantages can’t be denied. It will be interesting to see how this conversation and these methods develop over time.

APIs

There has been a lot of development of the use of APIs (application program interfaces) in the shipping and logistics sphere. APIs are the glue that connect two different applications or systems, allowing the communication of vital information. Within the shipping sphere specifically, this means increased efficiency; for instance, an API could be used to have real-time tracking of parcels for consumers or even location-tracking within warehouses for suppliers. This helps to improve shipping information for consumers, but for business operations as well.

Crowdsourcing

Finally, there is a future for the use of crowdsourcing within shipping as well. Crowdsourcing, or the use of the public or external agents to do or provide a good or service, has grown in popularity in recent years. Crowdsourcing can be used within shipping by utilizing the public or external agents who sign up (such as with Deliv drivers) to deliver packages in the last few miles from the supplier. This would make delivery faster—it could even be done within hours! However, this may be an expensive option, so suppliers will need to weigh the disadvantage of higher costs with the benefit of increased efficiency.

Shipping has a potential to expand to warehousing automation, drones, self-driving cars, and crowdsourcing in the next few years, with less of a focus on traditional transportation methods. This will bring in many advantages regarding optimizing existing supply chains.

The post Building the Shipping Experience of the Future appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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From Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, to Kolibree’s smart toothbrush, to the Nest learning Thermostat, the march toward an Internet of Things (IoT) shows no signs of waning. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 50 billion IoT devices installed around the world. In addition, IoT devices are becoming increasingly interconnected—more and more, these devices are capturing and sharing information, in what is known as machine-to-machine technology.

The rapid pace at which IoT is evolving has, understandably, generated a great deal of excitement—beyond the excitement, however, lies a plethora of legal issues. Prominent among these issues are concerns related to copyright ownership and intellectual property infringement. For example, as IoT devices become increasingly “smart,” they will begin to operate not just as data collectors, but also as producers of works. This begs the question: who will own these machine-generated works? Furthermore, as IoT devices become increasingly autonomous and interconnected, the possibility that they may operate in a manner that infringes third-party copyright is raised. In view of this, it is worth asking: can an IoT device be held responsible for copyright infringement and, if not, who can?

Who owns copyrights in machine-generated works?

The law in this area is complex and is developing at different rates across the world. In Canada, the question remains open—however, our federal Copyright Act does not appear to protect works created by non-humans (with the exception of cinematographic works that can be made by a corporation). Subsection 5(1) of Canada’s Copyright Act establishes “conditions for subsistence of copyright,” which strongly suggest that every work is required to have an author who is a natural person (again, with the exception of cinematographic works).

In the United States, the Copyright Office has issued a specific set of regulations requiring that copyright holders be human beings. Works produced by a machine are not, according to these regulations, eligible to be covered by copyright without there being creative involvement from a human being.

In some parts of the world, copyright law is perhaps more advanced in allowing for the protection of computer-generated works. In the UK and New Zealand, for example, the author of a work that is computer-generated is deemed to be the person who makes the “necessary arrangements” for the creation of the work.

Can a machine be held responsible for copyright infringement and, if not, who can?

The law in this area is uncertain—as is often the case, technology appears to have developed faster than policy. In Canada, section 27 of our Copyright Act refers to a “person” infringing copyright. On a strict reading of these provisions, there could be no infringement by an autonomous machine. Moreover, if there was no primary act of infringement—because the act was undertaken by an autonomous machine—questions of secondary infringement would not arise.

Pursuant to sections 3 and 27 of Canada’s Copyright Act, a person also infringes copyright when they “authorize” a restricted act. It remains to be determined whether a person can authorize a non-human entity in the relevant sense. As technology continues to advance, operators and developers of IoT devices may risk liability in this regard. If an operator of a device uses it in such a way that the copying of a third-party work is inevitable, there could be an argument that the operator has authorized the infringement. There is also a risk for developers that a court could look behind the operator to the design of the system.

A recently filed lawsuit has brought to light the uncertainty in Canadian law on this issue. The defendant in this lawsuit, Adam Basanta, is an artist who created a computer system that generates abstract pictures. An AI program compares these computer-generated pictures to a database of human-made art; if a computer-generated picture is found to be similar to human-made artwork, it is posted online, along with the percentage of similarity. Artist Amel Chamandy claims that Basanta violated her copyright in an artwork she created when Basanta’s machine setup generated a picture with a high percentage of similarity to her artwork.

Jeremy de Beer, an intellectual property law professor at the University of Ottawa, maintains that issues about copyright will go far beyond this case, as society moves into an era of advanced technology. Information law professor Teresa Scassa believes this case is the “tip of the iceberg” for this type of litigation.

Outside of Canada, many intellectual property regimes are similarly failing to keep pace with thinking machines. Although new technology running afoul of existing law is nothing new, we are approaching an era of unprecedented innovation—what has been coined a “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” This shift will disrupt established intellectual property regimes and will bring consequences that should concern policy makers worldwide.

The post Copyright Infringement in a Smart, Connected World appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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The marketing automation market has come a long way since its infant steps way back in 1992. Its revenue accrued $3.86 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $7.63 billion industry in 2025.

Statistics also show that 53% of B2B companies have adopted marketing automation on multiple channels, and a further 37% have an intention to implement the technology.

Marketing automation tools are unquestionably useful when it comes to carrying out repetitive tasks. Yet, they are not the tools businesses can use to tailor and personalize interaction with customers.

Thanks to technology advancement, AI has arrived and brought predictive analysis and personalization engines with it. When integrating AI in marketing automation strategies, businesses can take advantages of the human mind to maximize engagement and offer dynamic, one-on-one marketing approaches.

Data emphasizes that AI in the automation market is becoming increasingly valuable, expecting to generate up to $15.3 billion in revenue by the end of 2019.

However, some businesses are still reluctant to integrate the new technology, either due to gaps in knowledge or skills, or the fear of change.

To help, Market Inspector has gathered five hacking tips your business can implement to achieve AI’s full potential when automating your marketing processes:

1. Conversion rate improvement

Through AI-powered data analysis, your business can have a clear view of your target customers, segmenting them, and ultimately creating well-defined buyer personas. Consequently, you can customize the offers to meet the exact demands, eventually acquire customers and thus reach your quota.

2. High potential leads selection

AI technology also allows you to identify leads that have higher purchase intention among thousands of contacts. Additionally, the tool also provides real-time, well-suited instructions to boost your lead nurturing plans.

3. Fast content creation

Thanks to the technology evolution in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG), your business can now easily create relevant content in a short amount of time.

4. Relevant visual elements collection

In no time, AI can also help your company gather the most appropriate images or videos, while detecting potentially unsafe content, strictly following the company’s standard.

5. User experience maximization

To boost user experience, your company can use a website integration option for your web design. This will help you predict  user needs throughout the customer journey, deliver messages on time, and answer all their questions before they even realize.

The post 5 Advanced Marketing Automation Hacks Using AI Technology appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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No startup or small business can succeed without sufficient amount of resources. Whether starting out or expanding, at a certain point of the planning stage, there will arise the question of where to get the missing budget from.

In the UK, for those looking for investments, the most common way of attaining funding is getting a loan from traditional lenders. However, there are several types of financing options for small business owners that exist.

In order to make the right choice, small businesses need to reflect on and understand the reasons behind taking the loan, and they need to be ready to make compromises to decide which type suits them the best. As around 30% of all bank loan applications are getting denied, the more prepared you are, the better chances you have.

Market Inspector has created an infographic that provides readers with a guide to avoiding loan denial and tips on how to get a loan approved. Additionally, the infographic presents which alternatives challenge traditional banking systems and which industries benefit the most from bank loans, so that those with small business aspirations can find the best choices.

The post A Guide to Getting Your Loan Approved appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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To the uninitiated, picking a color for your brand might seem like an arbitrary decision – as simple as “does it look good?” But take a closer look, and you’ll find there’s a combination of science and art that goes into choosing a brand’s colors.

Canva looked at the logos for the Fortune 500 to explore the color choices made by leading brands. In particular, we looked at the colors used for their logos, since they form the ‘face’ of a brand. Blue dominates the list, with a whopping 43% of the Fortune 500 picking a shade of blue for their logo. Pink didn’t feature at all.

We then looked at how different industries use color, and found some interesting patterns. While blue is common for financial services companies, orange is commonly used by fast food or ‘active’ brands – an interesting, perhaps even ironic intersection of industries, both of which focus on young customers.

Why is blue such a popular color for logos? According to color psychology, blue is associated with feelings of trust. And for brands wishing to convey their trustworthiness, it’s a reliable choice.

Red, on the other hand, inspires excitement – which can work for some brands, and not others; it’s commonly used by technology and automotive companies.

Then there are the brands whose color choice becomes so iconic that it becomes as recognizable as the logo itself. Think of Starbuck’s green or Facebook’s blue – chosen due to founder Mark Zuckerberg’s red-green color blindness.

If you’re picking a color for your own company’s logo, take a look at your industry landscape, and the colors your competitors use. For consumers confronted with advertising thousands of times a day, these visual cues can be an unconscious message about what they’re being sold, and by whom.

The post Using Science to Choose Your Brand’s Color Scheme appeared first on Startup Digest Blog.

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