Is there anything more annoying and invasive (digital marketing-wise, at least) than a newsletter you didn’t sign up for? Not only does this go against anti-SPAM guidelines, but it’s just plain annoying. With all of the advertising that bombards us every day, customers are carefully choosing what they want to hear about – and ignoring the rest.
If you want your small business to succeed, permission marketing may be the key.
What Is Permission Marketing?
Permission marketing is when a customer opts to receive promotional messages from a brand – for example, when they sign up for a newsletter or “like” a business page on Facebook. The idea of permission marketing was popularized by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers, which came out in 1999.
Permission marketing delivers personal and relevant content to the customer, and the customer anticipates receiving it. As digital marketing has grown, so has the desire for permission marketing – audiences are so overwhelmed with advertising today that they’re most interested (or sometimes only interested) in the content they’ve already decided they want.
There are a number of benefits of permission marketing for small businesses. The most obvious is its low cost. Digital platforms, including email marketing and social media, can cost nothing to utilize; even paid tiers are generally affordable and may only increase in price along with audience base, like with MailChimp. This is a huge cost-saver when compared to traditional ad channels like print advertisements and mass direct mailings.
The biggest benefit of permission marketing, though, is that when a customer opts in to receive your content, it’s like you’re pre-vetting them – you know they’re interested in your business and that your content will make more of an impact than it would on any ol’ consumer on the street.
Permission Marketing vs. Interruption Marketing
Permission marketing is the opposite of interruption marketing. To understand why permission marketing works as well as it does, it helps to also understand interruption marketing:
Any type of ad or marketing that customers do not ask to receive. It “interrupts” the customer’s activities.
Includes direct mail, phone calls, radio ads, TV commercials, newsletters that you didn’t sign up for or social media ads from accounts you’re not following.
The purpose is to invade a person’s activities or thoughts in order to distract them and get them interested in the product or service being sold.
Audience targeting is wide, and return-on-investment (ROI) is low.
While interruption marketing can sometimes be successful in getting a lot of sales quickly, it has a major downside: annoying customers to the point where they never buy from the company, even if what’s being sold will benefit their lives. Permission marketing costs less, targets a more focused audience and has a greater ROI than interruption marketing.
How Co-Creation Builds Relationships
Many of today’s modern brands are participation brands in order to appeal to millennials and other modern consumers. Participation brands have opted to let their customers get involved in the company in some way. They often ask for user-generated content (UGC) to use in their social media or marketing campaigns.
For example, the brand may run a graphic design competition to find their next marketing poster or share Instagram posts from customers. Brands can also send or post surveys, polls, and quizzes to learn more about their customers and collect feedback. Not only do customers feel like they’re part of the process, but companies can also glean valuable insight that will direct their future products, services, and marketing efforts. When a brand becomes part of a consumer’s life, here’s what happens:
The brand is visible in the individual’s life, whether in real life or online (or both). They may be more likely to wear branded clothing or use branded gear, and they may post on social media about the brand or with branded items in view.
Real customers and influencers will endorse and promote the brand even if they’re not part of a brand advocate program.
Brands that have affiliate marketing or brand advocate programs set up can use their loyal customers as a sort of sales team – one that’s dispersed all around the globe.
Customers answer questions that brands will use to guide their creative and business processes, such as what’s wrong with their customer service or which news products customers are most interested in buying.
The way you let your audience participate will depend on their demographics. A younger audience will be more willing and able to participate on social media. An older audience may respond better to email surveys about their experience with a product.
SEO and Permission Marketing
Inbound marketing plays a large role in permission marketing – think of it as the step prior to your audience giving you permission to market to them. In order for potential followers and customers to opt-in to what you offer, they have to find you – if you found them, that could be considered interruption marketing. SEO is one of the many strategies used for inbound marketing.
While your SEO strategy shouldn’t be limited to one technique, this is a great place to start: uncover your audience’s pain points. Knowing the topics your audience wants to learn more about and how they’re searching online for answers to their questions will guide the content you create. From there, you can use the keywords that people are searching for, link to other related articles you published on the topic, and create thorough content that competes with the other, less-thorough content that’s out there.
Since permission marketing means you can’t go straight to any and all consumers, audience insights are going to be highly valuable to your strategy. Creating customers personas and forming a marketing strategy that appeals to them isn’t as easy as paying for a commercial spot, but it is much more effective. When it comes to marketing, quality is more important than quantity – a smaller base of a highly engaged audience is better than a huge audience that’s filled with people who don’t care about your business.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.
Come July 2019, Google will be updating its algorithms and slow-loading mobile sites will suffer the consequences that could result in a significant decrease in traffic.
By Todd Paton
When digital marketing and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk said several years ago that “the mobile device is now the television and the television is now the radio” few people really understood the gravity of his observation.
Three years later, businesses throughout the world are nodding in agreement.
Today, more than 50 percent of website traffic originates from cell phones. As this number increases, it becomes more critical that websites perform efficiently and are compatible with cell phones.
Come July 2019, Google will be updating its algorithms and slow-loading mobile sites will suffer the consequences that could result in a significant decrease in traffic. So, if your business relies on website traffic it would serve you well to become familiar with what Google expects in regard to compatibility and performance on cell phones.
This move reflects the growing trend reflecting an increase in cell phones as the primary path to website commerce. So, it certainly makes sense that as the world’s largest search engine, Google is adapting and those relying on their websites must adapt, as well.
For years, customers have used websites as a measure of how trustworthy and professional a business is–along with looking at reviews. A modern, fast and compelling website builds trust in your brand and can convert visitors into customers. You’ve worked hard to build your brand, so it’s important to keep pace with Google.
The major change is that cell phone access to websites has increased, leaving desktops lagging as the path to online commerce. Google rankings are at risk – whether it’s through PPC or SEO initiatives. Today, almost 53 percent of website traffic starts with cell phones. Last year, it was approximately 50 percent. This dynamic will only increase in the coming years.
It’s in the best interest of all businesses to become familiar with what Google expects so that proper adjustments to websites can be made quickly and accurately.
The following are some of the website features that are important:
Crawlability & Indexing
And while these criteria are technical in nature, they are among the main features Google will be analyzing when it comes to website accessibility through cell phones. It’s in your best interest to consult with your website development/maintenance firm to make sure they’re aware of Google’s plans.
These terms are basically “GoogleSpeak”, which when translated to layman’s language really means that it’s important for website visitors to have a good user experience. This will result in ease of navigation, improved rankings, SEO, and ultimately increased conversion rates.
A good first step is to access your website through a cell phone. Does it download quickly? Can the user navigate through the site quickly? Today, your website better perform as well on the cell phone–or better–as it does on a desktop.
The following are other pointers that can improve the performance of your website:
Make regular updates to your website (Blogging is the easiest way to do this)
Insert social media icons you are active on (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) on your site to facilitate the sharing of information
Use Google Analytics, a free service that tracks website traffic
Incorporate VIDEO on your website!
Use internal links to enhance navigation
Speak with your website developer about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This is an open-source initiative developed to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web
The world of online marketing continues to change rapidly. Today, it requires websites to be more accessible through cell phones. In the near future, Google will have new requirements when it comes to marketing services and products.
This is the reality of working with Google. Keep in mind, the online world is Google’s sandbox, and we must play by their rules.
Your business depends on it.
Todd Paton is President of Paton Marketing (www.patonmarketing.com), a digital marketing and website development firm in Pompano Beach, FL. It is one of the few developers in the country that has been selected to participate in the Google Elevator Program. Google selected a handful of digital marketing firms for a series of seminars that educate them on best practices to generate the best results for clients.
The following four strategies will help restaurants cut back on long term costs.
By Meghan Belnap
Running a restaurant successfully can be quite costly. From paying for the restaurant location, purchasing ingredients and inventory, and buying equipment, restaurant owners hoping to grow their businesses must be careful with their funds if they hope to grow their restaurants. The following four strategies will help restaurants cut back on long term costs:
Use Lasting Materials in the Kitchen
In restaurants, the kitchen is the site of most of the action, which is why it’s so important for restaurant owners to use lasting materials in the kitchen. From the kitchen countertops to the cookware itself, restaurant owners must invest in the highest quality materials to limit the likelihood that they’ll need to be replaced in the future. From the likes of wood and granite to heavy-duty pots and pans, spending the extra money now on the best materials and equipment will save money later on down the road.
Many restaurant owners hold onto old equipment until it completely breaks down. However, this can drive up the cost of replacing pieces, regular maintenance, as well as any money lost due to these machines functioning inefficiently. Instead of keeping this faulty equipment in the restaurant, owners simply need to upgrade.
One important piece of equipment to upgrade is the refrigerator. Many restaurants accept ineffective sealing as part of their equipment, but this type of issue can cause degradation due to moisture exposure. Avoid this problem and purchase hermetic sealing and other moisture-resistant protectants with your new refrigeration equipment.
Buy, Don’t Lease
When new restaurant owners are just starting out, it may make sense to lease their restaurant building. Whether it’s for a pop-up or for the first brick-and-mortar location of their new endeavor, leasing property may seem like a good option, but this choice can become quite costly in the long term. Restaurant owners hoping to save money should buy the property for their restaurant rather than lease. By purchasing this property, restaurant owners will build equity, own an appreciating asset, and have control over the entirety of the property and restaurant.
Pay for Deep-Cleaning
As restaurants have to meet very strict sanitation rules and face regular health inspections, prioritizing sanitation is a must. Restaurants that fail to keep their restaurants thoroughly cleaned are risking violations, fines, and closure. By investing in deep-cleaning services every quarter, restaurant owners will be able to operate their business knowing that they’ll pass any health inspection and that they are serving the healthiest food possible to their customers.
While it can be particularly expensive to own and maintain a restaurant, many of these costs can be cut. With careful budgeting and the aforementioned strategies, business owners will be able to reduce their long-term expenses and put their money into building a better restaurant.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.
The good news is that while we do not know the exact fine details of how each agency creates their scores, enough is known now for us to understand what the most important factors on a report are and how to change the way your report looks in order to get your score headed in the right direction.
Whether your credit score is below average and in desperate need of recovery or you simply want to make your good score great to get better rates in the future, here are the best ways to improve your credit score.
Make Your Monthly Payments
The biggest red flag your credit report can have is a history of repeatedly missing payments or defaulting on your loans entirely. Missed payments can remain on your report for up to seven years, so while you cannot immediately remove recent mistakes from your report, you can start the clock on progressing to a clean record by always making your payments on time to all lenders. Even if it is just paying the minimum in months when money is tight, that still is enough to create a proven record of timely payment.
Don’t Close Paid Off Accounts
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their credit is to get so relieved at paying off a troublesome card that they close the account. While it may seem like a good idea, in actuality it hurts you in two ways. First, if the card being closed is your oldest card it will lower the length of credit history you have. In addition, credit utilization, or the percentage of available credit you have used, plays a big part in determining your score. By simply keeping your account open with nothing on it you raise your total available credit without raising your credit used, thus lowering your utilization.
Ask About Limit Increases
Another easy way to get your credit utilization number down is to increase your existing credit lines. If you are using $1,000 of a total set of credit accounts equaling $3,000, for example, but are able to get one of your credit lines increased by $1,000 then your utilization would drop from 33-percent to 25-percent. As long as you don’t behave as if you can now spend the extra money on offer the limit increase means an easy improvement to your utilization.
Focus on Lowering Debt
The hardest way to improve your utilization is also the most effective as it means getting closer to being debt free. While minimum payments will keep your history free of demerits, it often does little to lower your overall debt due to interest. If possible, always seek to pay extra to begin lowering your debts. Not only will you lower your utilization but you’ll also save big in the long term due to saved interest.
Pay Off High-Interest Rates First
If you’ve got a choice between paying down one account or the other, it’s usually the best option to pay off your higher interest rate accounts first. Your dollar goes further when it is used to pay off a higher rate, and that helps to keep your overall debt levels lower.
Pace Your Applications
The biggest Catch-22 is that it is possible to get hit negatively for not having enough accounts open, then get hit negatively for too many hard inquiries if you try to open too many new accounts. You should space out your new credit applications if possible. If you are nearing a big purchase like a home avoid opening unnecessary new accounts in the months leading up to your mortgage application.
Get Your Report
The most important part of a credit repair campaign is staying on top of your credit score. Not only is everyone owed a free annual credit report, but you can also use free credit score tracking programs to get real-time updates of your credit throughout the year. This helps you to identify problems and start working on solutions.
Dispute Inaccurate Marks
Sometimes your credit report can feature red flags that aren’t even yours. This can be the result of outright fraud or even honest identification errors with the actions of someone who shares your name inaccurately applied to your account. Whatever the cause you should dispute the mistakes immediately with both the credit reporting agency and the company submitting the error. The sooner the mistake is off your report the better.
Handling your credit doesn’t have to be scary. While you likely can’t create a massive jump overnight, by following safe borrowing habits you can start yourself on the path to stronger credit and all the benefits which come with it.
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
You have run up a huge amount of debt with different creditors, and your job, business, and other side-hustles combined simply can’t bail you out. What do you do? File for bankruptcy? If you do, what will that mean for your property? How will it affect your credit score? Just what is the catch? Getting rid of your debts once and for all seems too good to be true.
Well, debts are normal, and the law has provided us with a lifeline when we are caught up in debt and have no way out. Bankruptcy is a gateway out of the claws of creditors and a constant reminder that life has a reset button. If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, here are a few things you need to know before executing your plan:
1. You will have to disclose a lot about your financial life
When filing for bankruptcy, the state requires that you lay bare your current situation so that your eligibility can be determined. You need to produce all relevant paperwork, including tax receipts, living expenses, debt records, and pay stubs. Hiding some of the information due to embarrassment would potentially hurt your chances of being granted bankruptcy protection.
2. The impact on your credit score will be massive
While the effect on credit score is not the same for all bankruptcy filers, you should brace yourself for a nosedive of up to 200 points. The company behind credit scores takes a number of variables into consideration when calculating points, so again, the effect could be a lot tinier.
Either way, you will struggle convincing anyone to give you credit for the next 2-3 years. And when you finally get new credit, it will be extremely little money at a very high interest. Worse yet, the bankruptcy will be highlighted in your credit report for a whole decade and in your public file forever.
3. Some credit card debts may not be discharged
Your financial decisions shortly before filing for bankruptcy will be reviewed exhaustively, and any signs of deliberate extravagance will not go unnoticed. For instance, bankruptcy preceded by excessive credit card use may prompt the creditor to challenge your request to have your entire balance eliminated.
It could seem like an indicator that you didn’t have plans to pay for the expenditure at all. If you bought a car or some other big-ticket item before submitting your bankruptcy request, you are likely to be ordered to pay for the extravagant expenditure.
4. Some debts may not be discharged
Student loans, child support, and spousal maintenance are some of the debts that cannot be discharged. It is advisable that before you file for bankruptcy, you make two lists – one for the debts that can be discharged and another for those that can’t.
Find the difference between the totals of either list and see if you are making any sense with your request. If the bulk of your debt cannot discharged, then it would be wise to drop your plans and try a debt consolidation loan, consumer credit counseling, or some other viable solution.
The heavy influx of online shopping has presented brick-and-mortars with the daunting task of coming up with ways to attract people to their physical stores. Creating the adequate amount of foot traffic needs to cover inventory, as well as other business expenses. This can prove to be a great challenge in today’s business landscape. Some stores lean heavily on technological innovations such as the “just walk out” technology- that may use cameras and sensors to track what people are removing from the shelves. Once the customer leaves the store, money is deducted from their preregistered store account. Other ideas include interactive mirrors in the dressing room that will allow the shopper to communicate with the store’s employees. They can request different colors and/or sizes they desire be brought to them. These interactive mirrors also could show the clothing in different lighting conditions and make suggestions of other items that a customer might be interested in.
Building customer’s interest in visiting a storefront is one of the biggest challenges a brick-and-mortar owner can face. Traditional considerations should still be a part of the decision-making process such as the organic foot traffic, seeking an area that has the targeted market, accessibility, etc.
Having an accessible storefront that allows space for another company to set up a pop-up can provide a positive impact. There are many companies that have a strong online following but do not have a physical store. Today, many brands travel the country with their apparel, for example, looking for locations to host their pop-ups. This can be an opportunity for a brick-and-mortar to capitalize on. Photographers, painters, musicians, authors, and chefs can all benefit from a physical store.
A store that is easily pop-up accessible is attractive to the pop-up market. Having a system in place allows pop-up conversion easy and seamless. The revenue generated is great for business. It is more beneficial if the pop-up’s targeted market is the same as the clientele of that brick-and-mortar. This can open economic opportunities for both businesses. Furthermore, if there is a connection between the pop-up’s attendees and what the brick-and-mortar carry, purchases can be made at that time as well. Some might even return later.
With social media being so popular and influential, many will post about events they attend and/or businesses they visit. Some attendees provide their location information, hashtags, and even tag the hosting store. The idea is that some of their followers will share a common interest. This can possibly increase customers. The more accessible your business-the better. People can’t find what that they aren’t aware exists.
Marketing for Pop-ups
Making people aware of the services you provide is the driving force behind success with this strategy. There are several websites that provide information on various pop-up locations all over the country. This is a good avenue to promote brick-and-mortar information, with pictures, store hours, etc. Posting on social sites, such as Instagram, can be beneficial. You should have a “Story” entitled and dedicated to your pop-up market. Providing the “when’s” and “where’s” of these pop-ups is a must! Over time, traditional posts can be pushed further to the bottom of the company’s page. In an Instagram Story, however, the content is always at the top and followers can see the title. It also gives a company a chance to spread the word two different ways. A few video clips on IGTV (used for video clips longer than one minute) can be helpful. Having a Pinterest board, using other social media sites and blogs devoted to the pop-up experience can be positive as well.
Customers via The Pop-Up
Once the new customer comes to the location the positive experience must continue. The usual customer service etiquette is always required–greeting and engaging the customers, answering questions, and being helpful–making the entire experience both enjoyable and accommodating. This includes making sure the brick-and-mortar accepts progressive payment options. Consumers have developed certain shopping expectations, this carries over into the check-out process as well. Providing options of one-way Near-Field Communication (NFC) which allows phones and payment terminals to communicate with each other by making transactions when in close proximity–like Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay ®, will greatly benefit a store. Many shoppers are steering away from traditional credit cards. If the pop-up shop’s tactics are effective you will able to capitalize on this. Once accustomed to making transactions in a certain way, people look for that continuity in their shopping experience-regardless of the industry.
The reality is: Shopping will always be! The ways in which we shop is where the concern lies. Truthfully, new challenges will be ever present, but there will also always be answers. This could include technological expansions or a revised marketing plan. What is most important is the result. It will take time and effort, but when things start to improve, think of ways to build on your concept. The integration of progressive technology is a huge piece to the puzzle. The other thoughts will have to come out of the box.
With a well-constructed and well-considered plan—and the right employee survey results—you will eventually benefit from stronger leaders and a more engaging employee experience.
By Carolyn Nevitte
Though there are a few ways to measure employee engagement, including manager-employee one-on-ones and exit interviews, employee surveys remain top of the list. Through regular surveys, companies can pinpoint areas of concern, provide direction for organisational growth and show employees that their feedback is valued.
Despite all the advantages of employee surveys, we need to accept the reality — employee survey results won’t always be positive. It’s altogether possible you won’t be at all pleased with your initial results. But that’s the nature of a well-structured, constructive survey — it highlights and summarizes everything — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Invariably, you will receive negative feedback following your employee survey. But what is the best way to respond to this employee feedback? Below we’ll explore seven top tips to deal with negative employee survey results while using them to your best advantage.
View Negative Feedback as an Opportunity for Growth
Don’t be disheartened by seemingly negative feedback. Remember, “poor” results are much better, and a lot more helpful than no results at all. All feedback is a potential tool for improvement. Whether the feedback relates to management style or support, organisational processes or development opportunities, once you are aware of weaknesses in your company, you can begin to turn things around.
Take Action (and Keep Your Employees in the Loop)
Incredibly, 52% of managers fail to take any action following a review of their employee survey results. There is absolutely no sense in investing time and money into conducting a survey and asking your employees for input if you are going to ignore the results.
The aftermath of a survey review is one of those situations where actions speak louder than words. Once you have analysed the results and you understand what areas of your business require improvement, make a concrete plan of action (incorporating ideas from your whole team) and stick to it. Keep your employees informed of what you aim to achieve and how. This will demonstrate how much you value their insights while also showing you are a forward-thinking company dedicated to advancement.
Keep Positive — Don’t Take Bad Feedback out on Employees
The worst thing you can do with negative feedback is to let it affect your demeanor and your mood. As a manager, you might be hurt or even frustrated, but don’t take it out on your team. Your employees need to think of you as stable and secure — this will encourage them to come to you with more feedback in the future.
If you have been particularly affected by the negative feedback, take some time to get to grips with it. Don’t act immediately, or you might end up behaving in a way you’ll later regret. Collect your thoughts and consider your next steps.
Be Transparent with Employees about Employee Survey Results
Transparency has proven to be a critical element when it comes to improving the employee experience. You’ve involved your employees so far — don’t shut them out now. The more transparent you are with your team regarding your employee survey results, the more they will trust and respect you for being so honest.
Make sure to share employee survey results that are both good and bad. Celebrate the good, but resist the temptation to undermine negative feedback. Acknowledge it, thank your employees for highlighting areas for improvement and explain that you aim to make changes going forward. Let them know they can come to you with ideas and solutions — encourage employees to stay involved with the process.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Communication and clarification are essential in the months following the survey. Organisational change will undoubtedly be required to a degree, and keeping employees involved and updated at every stage will increase the odds of the change being successful.
Following the results of the survey, consider meeting with employees for clarification and elaboration. This will help you narrow your focus to key issues.
Send out communications at regular intervals. Discuss progress and any pressing issues during employee performance discussions and check-ins. Maintain an open-door policy, so employees feel free to come to you with any questions. The more informed employees are and the more context they are given, the better equipped they will be to make day-to-day decisions that support organisational objectives.
Decide What to Improve — And Stay Focused
When you created and designed your survey, ideally you would have focused on certain key areas. However, if you are in a position where you have several issues requiring attention and improvement, don’t make the mistake of spreading yourself too thin.
Once you have a pool of ideas for improvement, it’s time to focus and create a plan. Set goals. Decide what needs the most attention, how it will be improved and who will be responsible for what tasks. Cultural change can be a challenge in itself — it takes a lot of time, commitment and effort. One of the biggest mistakes in change management involves undertaking too many changes at once while over-estimating the capacity of a company to change. Remember, as Stephen R. Covey once said, “When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.”
Keep Asking for Feedback
One survey isn’t going to cut it. It’s essential to carry out surveys and canvass for opinion regularly, so you are continually making positive change that will improve and enhance employee experience and your company as a whole.
Regularly carrying out surveys demonstrates to your employees that you are invested in change, but it also provides you with real, quantifiable evidence that improvements are being made and your employees are more engaged. And remember, when you solve one problem, you might notice other issues arise that need addressing. The best, most forward-thinking, modern companies strive for continuous improvement.
Carolyn Nevitte is HR Director at People Insight, a company that helps organisations measure and improve the employee experience through employee surveys, 360-degree feedback and expert consulting.
Has your business become…well…boring? Here are 10 ideas to shake it up and grow your business.
By Rieva Lesonsky
Is it time for a change in your business? I think most entrepreneurs share my passion for “shaking things up.” But if you need some prodding, here are 10 ways to change your life and grow your business.
1. Update the technology you use in your business.
Did you know that older PCs can make your small business employees up to 29% less productive? According to Intel, every outdated PC in your business could be costing you $17,000 a year in lost productivity. New computers pay for themselves in productivity and help you compete more effectively. Review your team’s hardware and software and look for ways to power up your business, whether that’s more powerful laptops or more sophisticated business software. Find out what technology small businesses are buying, and learn how to get over a fear of technology if that’s holding you back.
2. Organize your office.
The Kon Mari craze may have died down a bit, but there’s still value in getting organized. Being surrounded by piles of paper or old file folders of documents can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. You can claim some calm by digitizing documents you need to keep and shredding the rest. Make sure to protect documents with sensitive financial or personal data by securely encrypting and storing them.
3. Learn something new to grow your business.
Take a lesson in something you know nothing about (except that it will help grow your business) or become an expert in a subject you’re already somewhat familiar with. It’s easy to educate yourself these days, whether by using online tutorials, on-demand courses or local workshops and industry events.
4. Break out of your comfort zone.
You’d be surprised how much taking a calculated risk boosts your business confidence. Determine to tackle something that challenges you, like speaking at your industry’s next big conference. You can also benefit from personal challenges like learning white-water rafting.
5. Grow your network.
Expand your circle of business connections by contacting someone you admire and inviting them to meet up in person. Know someone you’d like to partner with? Have lunch and share ideas for a strategic partnership. Set up an advisory group of other local business owners and get together once a month for ideas and inspiration. Join a networking group or business organization you’ve never attended before.
6. Expand your horizons.
Thinking small doesn’t serve the universe (or your business). Without big dreams, your business will stall out. Envision your wildest dream for your business and write it down. Then make a step-by-step plan for how to actually achieve it. Every dream can become a reality when you tackle it one step at a time.
7. Become an influencer.
Not just on social media—in real life. You are your business’s best marketing tool, so put yourself out there! A B2B entrepreneur can influence the business community by speaking at conferences or writing useful content. A B2C business owner can get known in the community by sponsoring local events or working with local charities.
Small business owners burn out when they try to do everything themselves. You can’t do it all, so think about what you’re willing delegate, and hand it off to employees or independent contractors. You’ll have more time to focus on what you do best when you’re not doing everything.
9. Practice self-care.
Your health and the health of your business are inextricably tied. As a busy business owner, regular self-care can seem like a mirage. Try making small changes. Sleep a bit more, eat a bit healthier, and move your body a bit more every day. Set aside time for prayer, meditation or any practice that recharges you mentally and emotionally.
10. Review your business finances.
Many business owners fail to stay on top of their cash flow, and this can be a fatal mistake. Start reviewing your cash flow monthly (or more often) to keep your business healthy. Look at your sales and financial projections and make sure they’re on track. If you have plans that might require financing in the near future, look into your alternatives and check your business’s credit rating to make sure it’s in good shape.
Big data has been regarded as the upcoming transformation in the world of data analysis and management. Businesses around the world have already incorporated big data to make the proper utilization of the vast amount of data generated regularly. The adaption of big data tools and technologies has grown at a consistent pace among the end-use industries. According to recent studies, the global big data market revenues for software and services are expected to increase from $42 billion to $103 billion by the year 2027.
Currently, there are lots of big data tools available to analyze a large number of data accurately. The data analysis is a specific procedure of inspecting, cleaning, transforming and constructing data with the sole objective of coming up with crucial information, a straightforward conclusion and making the decision making the procedure more convenient. So, this article tells you about the top 20 big data tools that include open source data tools, data visualization tools, sentiment tool, data extraction tools, and databases.
Open Source Data Tools:
Knime is one of the best open solutions for data-driven innovation. It allows you to find the hidden potential in your data, mine to find out new insights and predict the future. Knime is equipped with thousands of modules, a vast number of ready to run examples, an extensive range of integrated tools and a wide choice of advanced algorithms.
If you are looking for a tool that can help you to clean up the messy data, converting it from one format to another and, further extending it with web services and external data, Open Refine ( known as Google Refine) could be the ideal tool for you.
Would you believe that project R, a GNU project, is written in R itself? Yes, it’s unique. Primarily this software is written in C and Fortran and, a large number of R programming modules are written in R language. The data miners mainly use the R language for developing useful data analysis and statistical software. The best part of R programming is that it is straightforward to use and highly extensible.
Apache Hadoop is one of the most prominent and highly useful tools in the entire data industry. It can quickly process a large amount of data. Hadoop is a 100% open-source framework. This software runs on Commodity hardware in an existing data center. It can also be run on cloud infrastructure. Android apps or iOS apps that work with large number of data, Hadoop could be the perfect tool in the developing process.
Orange is an open source data visualization and data analysis tool for both the novice and experts. It provides gives you interactive workflows with a large toolbox that allows you to create interactive workflows to analyze and visualize data in a proper manner. This tool comes with various data visualizations ranging from scatter plots, bar charts, trees to networks, demographics, heat-map, etc.
Just like Knime, Rapidminer also operates through visual programming. It allows you to manipulate, analyze, and structure data. It makes the data scientist team of your organization more productive through a comprehensive open -source platform for data prep, machine learning, and model prep. This whole program is written in Java language, and the GUI of this program allows the users to design and execute workflows.
Tools for Data Visualization
It’s a comprehensive online tool for creating interactive charts. You can upload the data from CSV/PDF/Excel file or directly paste into the field, and Datawrapper will generate a bar, map, line, or any other visualization. The graph created by Datawrapper can be embedded into any website or CMS with the help of ready to use the embedded code.
When it comes to providing the best in class financial reporting, budgeting, and analysis, Solver could be the best solution. Solver comes with push-button access to all the data sources. It provides the BI360 which you can deploy on both the cloud or on-premise.
With this Qlik tool, you can create visualizations, dashboard, and apps that gives all the answers to your company’s essential questions.
Google Fusion Tables
Google Fusion Tables has a lot of similarity with Google Spreadsheet. It’s an all-in-one tool for data analysis, extensive data set visualization, and mapping.
Infogram allows you to visualize your data beautifully with more than 35 interactive charts and 500 maps. You can create a variety of charts like columns, bar, pie, or word cloud. You can also add a map to your infographics or reports.
Quicksearch gives you a quick overview of your online brand. It’s a search engine for social media platforms that includes almost all social networking sites, blogs, and forums. It allows you to know the real-time trends so that you can give a boost to your existing content.
NCSU Tweet Visualizer
NCSU Tweet Visualizer is a cool freebie for twitter sentiment analysis. All you need to do is type your keyword, and Tweet Visualizer will give you all the recent tweet of the past week.
This is an online sentiment analysis for the current event, companies, products, and people. Opinion Crawl allows you to asses web sentiment on a particular topic. For each topic, this software provides a pie chart showing real-time sentiment, a list of current news, a few thumbnail images and, a tag of crucial semantic concepts people relate with the subject.
Octoparse is a free and powerful website crawler that extracts all the vital information from a website. You can use this tool to rip a website with its extensive functionalities and capabilities.
Content Crawler is a web-based software which is specifically targeted at enterprise solutions. It allows you to extract content from almost all the websites and save it as structured data in a format of your preference.
Mozenda is a cloud-based web scrapping service. Mozenda gives you access to a large number of utility features for data extraction. You can upload the extracted data to cloud storage offered by Mozenda.
This website gives you all the wealth information on US citizen covering the areas like population data, geographical data, and education.
So, now you might have gotten an overview about the different types of data tools and technologies, so it’s time to make use of highly structured and useful data and grow the revenue of your organization.
Over 80% of small nonprofits cannot afford traditional healthcare. With 1.5 million non-profits nationwide, that is a substantial number of companies struggling to provide healthcare
Only 33% consider Medicare-for-all to be a good solution
93% of QSEHRA (qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement also known as a small business HRA) users would recommend it to other non-profits
Learn more in the infographic below.
2—Tools to Help Small Businesses Around the World Thrive
Mastercard and Zoho are expanding their partnership to bring small business owners around the world a comprehensive array of products and services to make running their companies easier, more efficient and more profitable. And while every business is on a quest to increase efficiency and productivity—for small business owners it can be a matter of survival.
With the Zoho platform, Mastercard is able to offer its small business customers access to a suite of marketing, accounting and CRM tools to automate and digitize time-intensive, paper-based processes. Zoho and Mastercard already had a partnership in India—and now they’re scaling it to the rest of the world—enabling simpler business operations for SMBs internationally.
“When Mastercard and Zoho come together, we’re able to pair our smart solutions and scale to fundamentally address some of the challenges small businesses owners face every day,” says Zahir Khoja, executive vice president, Global Acceptance at Mastercard. “These entrepreneurs drive job creation, productivity and growth globally; it’s critical that we find partners and develop solutions that allows us to help them succeed.”
“We are excited to partner with Mastercard, a company committed to empowering small business owners across the globe. This partnership connects small businesses to innovative applciations that enable them to access, manage and analyze real-time information that are critical to their success,” says Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho Corporation. “Together, Zoho and Mastercard simplify the daily responsibilities of these entrepreneurs and help their businesses grow and thrive. As partners, we embark on our joint mission to fuel the global small business economy.”
Zoho is a cloud-based platform accessible via website and app and can be delivered via API. Zoho’s technology stack is flexible, taking the heavy lift off the integration process and making bringing solutions to market faster. Mastercard and Zoho shared solutions will be available later this year.
The growth of technology combined with the idea that we need to work harder to achieve more is a popular concept in the modern workplace. And, according to a study by Techtalk, 55% of U.S. employees have admitted to checking work emails after 11pm. Research by Harvard Business Review also shows the average CEO works 62.5 hours a week—around 21.3 hours above the global baseline of 41.2 hours.
As technology makes it increasingly easy to push beyond the 9-5 here are some pointers on how workers can recognize the difference between committed working habits and work addiction.
With smartphones, computers and apps at our fingertips, we’re able to maintain a constant connection to our work. In theory, these tools should make our workdays shorter and more efficient, but constant distractions and the inability to disconnect can lead to longer work hours and less to show for it.
According to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, replying ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of the following seven criteria may indicate a work addiction:
You think of how you can free up more time to work.
You spend much more time working than initially intended.
You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
Impact on Employees: Work-obsessed CEOs run the risk of creating a business culture in which presenteeism reigns. In fact, a study of 29,000 working adults by American Productivity Audit revealed presenteeism costs the U.S. more than $150 billion a year.
As opposed to being absent from work, presenteeism leads to employees having lower productivity while at work. They’re also likely to feel judged according to how many hours they sit at their desks rather than the quality of their output. This can lead to burnout, unhappiness and increased health issues, which end up impacting both company and employee negatively in the long run.
Impact on Business Growth
CEOs who work too hard may have trouble delegating effectively or even end up micromanaging teams, which can lead to a bottleneck in the company. It also sends the message to employees that they’re not trusted or talented enough to meet expectations, which can cause tension and unhappiness.
In a Harvard Business Review study of 27 CEOs over three months, time management proved the greatest challenge for most, while email usage was the top interrupter of the day. Leaders in the same study spent 72% of their time in work meetings, with the average meeting length being one hour.
One of the biggest time wasters for employees is distraction at work. Around 60% of employees say meetings are a big distraction that impact productivity according to Udemy, ultimately leading to longer hours spent working.
How to Regain the Balance
While the dedication to put in extra hours is a valuable trait, it’s important to manage a healthy balance in the long-term. One of the major differences between a hard worker and a workaholic is the problems that are caused as a result. Poor health, guilt when not working and increased stress levels are often consequences of work addiction. Here are a few ways to combat it:
Trust your team: For a team to grow successfully, it’s important to attract and retain talented employees, delegate effectively, and trust them to perform tasks without you. This will free up time for you to focus on strategy and growth.
Reduce distraction: Shorten meetings, set dedicated working times where people can focus and create a culture of face to face interaction rather than using email. Around 40% of employees believe work distraction could also be drastically reduced with flexible and remote working options.
Encourage work-life balance: Instill a 40-hour work week for everyone, CEOs included, with an emphasis on results rather than hours spent at a desk.
Try a digital detox: Set the tone in your organization by normalizing the fact that employees don’t have to adopt an always-on attitude. There are several apps that can assist by locking your devices for a period of time.
Allow mornings to set the precedent for the rest of the day: Whether taking time out to exercise, read, meditate or plan for the day, prioritize setting the tone for the hours to come every morning.
There’s more info in the infographic below.
4—Retail App Use Surges 50% As Consumers Shop Year-Round
Liftoff, a leader in mobile app marketing and retargeting, today released its third annual report on the ever-growing market of mobile app commerce in partnership with the industry leader in mobile measurement and fraud prevention, Adjust. The study, pulling from the most extensive dataset to-date, shows that shopping app users are becoming increasingly purchase-happy in what is poised to be the biggest year in mobile commerce ever. The report also uncovers key insights into regional mobile shopping behavior, suggesting the rise of “Mobile Window Shopping” in Asia-Pacific (APAC) and North America (NAR).
Analyzing more than 90.9 billion ad impressions across 13.6 million installs and 3.9 million registration and purchase events between April 2018 and April 2019, the report found:
The traditional ‘make-or-break holiday shopping season’ is dead as mobile users spend all year long: Historically, retail app marketers are laser-focused on the holiday shopping season—from Black Friday through the New Year—to target consumers ready to spend. This year’s trends, however, beg the question: is holiday shopping still a make-or-break period for e-commerce?
The cost to acquire a first-time retail app user hovers in the $30 to $45 range throughout the year, showing significant stability compared to last year’s more volatile and expensive landscape. Consumers are more comfortable on mobile overall, with year-over-year acquisition costs dropping by a third, while install-to-purchase rates have skyrocketed nearly 50%.
With a growing number of global retail giants establishing their own annual shopping holidays—think Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days in May, Amazon Prime Day (today), and Alibaba’s Singles Day in November—users no longer need the winter holidays as an excuse to buy; they’re primed-to-purchase all year long.
“Winter holiday shopping is still alive and well, from mobile to brick-and-mortar,” explains Liftoff cofounder and CEO Mark Ellis. “But our data shows consumers now spend steadily all year long, suggesting the traditional holiday shopping season won’t make or break a brand as it might have in the past.”
The data suggests linking mobile advertising campaigns to traditional holidays is somewhat passé. For mobile marketers looking to get the best return on their marketing dollar this year, throw away preconceived notions and target users year-round.
Retail app browsing may be the new window shopping: In both APAC and NAR, users are clearly open to exploring retail apps, with registration rates skyrocketing and acquisition costs dropping year-over-year. But the data points to a surprising new trend— “Mobile Window Shopping.”
While users install and register in retail apps with ease, the joint report shows a sizeable drop-off at the all-important purchase stage: APAC’s cost-per-first-purchase comes in at $31.26 (up 13.3% year-over-year), coupled with a low 10.1% conversion rate. The same is true of NAR, where cost-per-first-purchase nearly doubled year-over-year ($58.86), while purchase rates dropped off by nearly 60%.
The driving force of this drop-off is uncertain, but it could point to a larger retail trend: the revival of brick-and-mortar. Digital-first companies like Amazon and Warby Parker are leading a move toward ‘connected’ physical stores, while research shows Gen Z consumers prefer browsing for deals on mobile and completing the purchase in-store.
“For marketers looking to boost purchase rates, the key is to utilize the data they have, understand potential drop-off points and to segment and target properly,” says Christian Henschel, cofounder and CEO at Adjust. “Brands can then create and deliver the perfect user interaction strategies for their marketing initiatives. This personalization is key to winning over fickle consumers and building long-term loyalty.”
Savvy marketers can integrate shopping apps into a larger marketing strategy, offering exclusive deals via app to entice consumers to head into stores or offer limited-time specials to encourage in-app purchases.
For more key retail app marketing insights, take a look at the full report.
LastPass by LogMeIn recently announced the results of a new study conducted by Vanson Bourne to offer SMBs insights into the state of identity and access management (IAM) and actionable steps to improve their IAM program. The study, SMBs Guide to Modern Identity, surveyed 700 global IT and security professionals at organizations ranging from 250 to 2,999 employees and found 92% are experiencing at least one challenge when it comes to identity management, with 47% citing ease of use with security as the biggest challenge.
This research comes on the heels of the general availability of LastPass’ new comprehensive identity suite—a collection of MFA, SSO and Password Management solutions aimed at addressing the identity and access in a small or medium business.
Data from the report reveals 82% of IT professionals agree poor identity practices have exposed their businesses to risks, citing incorrect access controls (41%), loss of employee data (36 %) and loss of customer data (33%) as the biggest consequences. Despite this, many have not implemented an adequate identity management solution.
“When used individually, enterprise password management, SSO, and multifactor authentication, all bring unique security and productivity benefits to a business,” says John Bennett, General Manager, Identity and Access Management Business Unit at LogMeIn. “But when brought together under one solution, businesses have complete security and visibility into every user and access point in their business. Something 93% of the surveyed IT professionals agreed with. With more limited resources, it’s particularly important for SMBs to look for all-in-one solutions that combine the key components and maximize an investment identity technology.”
Additional key findings
Passwords Continue to Cause Frustration and Risk: On average, IT security teams spend 4 hours per week on password management-related issues alone and receive 96 password-related requests per month. Given the ongoing resource drain that passwords pose to organizations, 95% of IT security professionals report their organizations should place more emphasis on the importance of strong password behavior.
Single Sign-On Serves a Crucial Role—But Leaves Critical Gaps in Isolation: Given the risks and resource drain associated with passwords, SSO solutions offer the benefit of eliminating passwords for IT-supported apps and simplifying the login process for employees accessing key apps in the cloud and behind the firewall. However, many apps aren’t integrated into an SSO solution. Although the research shows 80% of IT professionals agree relying on SSO alone is not enough since it still leaves a variety of cloud apps and privileged accounts unsecured.
Upgrading Identity Capabilities is a Top Priority For SMBs: 98% of IT professionals see room for improvement in the general security behavior of their employees (creating strong passwords, secure sharing and collaboration). Due to competing priorities, IT teams are struggling to address these security needs. When asked about next year’s IT security objectives, 65% agree upgrading their Identity and Access management capabilities is a priority. When asked for ideal features in an identity solution, respondents noted multifactor authentication (55%), integration with current infrastructure (52%), built-in password generator (44 percent), support for both legacy and cloud apps (44%) and an integrated system for managing, monitoring and setting policies (44%).
Balancing Ease of Use and Security Is a Challenge When Implementing an Identity Solution: Given that security is a high priority for most SMBs, it’s no surprise many are investing in identity solutions. Less than 1% of IT professionals believe managing user access is unimportant to the overall security of the organization. Unfortunately, 92% of organizations also say they are experiencing at least one challenge when it comes to identity management. The average organization struggles with three identity-related challenges: 47% of respondents say balancing ease of use with increased security was a hurdle, 40% cite the general security of their solutions and 37% are facing demands from employees for a solution that’s easy to use.
6—Helping Hourly and Gig Workers Get Early Access to Wages
According to McKinsey 27% of workers are engaged in an independent or “alternative” work arrangement as their primary job. And this trend is expected to continue. Yet, we’re still often relying on traditional payment models to compensate these workers—many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck. Mastercard has a long-worked with companies like Uber, Lyft and Care.com to help gig workers get paid faster.
Mastercard is expanding its commitment by partnering with Evolve Bank & Trust (Evolve) to enable companies to pay gig and independent workers in advance of their regular payment schedule. Mastercard Send is a push payment solution, that can send funds in near real time to any debit card using Branch, which works with large organizations to provide interest-free, pay advances to their hourly workers and gig workers.
Branch provides early wage access so employees can manage any lag between when bills are due and when their paychecks are received. With Mastercard Send, Branch can push funds in near real time to U.S. debit cards.
“Gig workers provide just-in-time services that help both consumers and businesses fulfill real-time needs,” says Jess Turner, executive vice president, Product and Innovation, North America, Mastercard. “But when it comes to getting paid, they are stuck in a traditional model of work now, get paid later. With Mastercard Send, we want to provide a new wage system—one that is in tune with the workforce of today.”
“At Evolve, we understand that the workforce in the U.S. is changing,” says Scott Stafford, President and CEO, Evolve. “With Mastercard Send, we were able to create a payment infrastructure that serves a new generation of workers and helps them manage income volatility.”
The research shows one-third of U.S. gig workers received approximately $236 billion through pay advances in 2018, in contrast to loans that come with unclear terms and fees. These advances help alleviate the stress of living paycheck to paycheck and provide an opportunity to plan ahead and stabilize finances.
“As hourly workers’ schedules tend to fluctuate, so do their earnings and their ability to meet day-to-day financial needs,” says Atif Siddiqi, CEO, Branch. “Branch helps increase financial stability among hourly workers by providing them instant access to earned wages, budgeting tools, and the opportunity to pick up more shifts.”
Mastercard’s commitment to helping people improve their financial lives in meaningful ways over the long term is a key pillar of its inclusive growth program in North America, which offers specialized products and services for gig workers and next-generation workers.
7—Americans Prefer Shopping at Stores that Conduct Employee Background Checks
Sterling, a leader in background and identity services, just released the results of its 2019 Retail Industry Screening Survey. The inaugural initiative examines Americans’ perspectives, experiences and concerns related to retail screening—covering topics from customer service to holiday shopping to cannabis screening.
According to the survey, 67% of Americans say they are more likely to shop at retail stores whose workers have been background checked than at retail stores where workers have not been background checked.
In addition, 49% say if they found out a store they go to doesn’t background check all their workers, they would be less likely to go back to that store.
“A comprehensive screening program will help find top talent and reduce employee turnover, as employers are looking for long-term workers and focused on developing new hires into managers and leaders,” says Vincenza Caruso-Valente, General Manager, Sterling.
The study also found:
Marijuana testing:65% of Americans say drug testing retail workers for cannabis is unnecessary.
Holiday shopping:53% say during the holiday season, they notice retail workers tend to be lower quality than they are during other times of year.
Service:81% say while shopping, when deciding what retailer to go to in person, they factor in a retailer’s quality of customer service.
“For retailers, maintaining a robust and consistent hiring process is paramount, and helps attract strong talent that can be retained and redeployed. Retailers also benefit from viewing their customers as potential employees, and from recruiting their talent through technology-enabled solutions. Caruso-Valente adds, “A healthy hiring program will cultivate a strong culture—and brand—of customer service.”