Category: Uncategorized

Dreams Do Come True

Francis Ford Coppola

So I direct and edit a youth-oriented web  series with my kids and wife called Teens Wanna Know which is picking up steam, and our latest foray (The 2013 Writers Guild Awards) has gotten great feedback from media professionals and Hollywood PR people. Thought you might like to see it, as my 12-year-old interviews Francis Ford Coppola and my 14-year-old interviews VIPs from “Breaking Bad,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Mad Men,” “Searching for Sugar Man,” and “Flight.” Proud papa right here!

Shot with a JVC HM100 and edited on Premiere Pro.

Mobile Commerce Forecasts, Trends, and Developments

mobile forecasts

mobile forecastsToday’s consumers use mobile phones and tablets wherever they go, and it is no surprise that businesses are eager to tap into this new and exciting market. Now people are using their phones to make dinner reservations, purchase goods, and even manage finances. However, with new opportunities come new questions: what is the current condition of this young and growing industry? More importantly, where is the world of mobile commerce heading?

Mobile Business Is Practical (And Bound to Get Bigger)

Mobile business is as easy as it is practical, and allows for greater interaction with consumers, literally placing a company’s service in the palm of their hands. According to Business Insider, “29% of U.S. mobile users have already used their smartphone to make a purchase . . . Bank of America predicts $67.1 billion in revenue from smartphone and tablet retail purchasing by European and U.S. shoppers in 2015.” It’s the simplicity of this system that ensures exponential growth and appeal.

Personalized Experience

From Apple’s new Siri functionality to Flipboard, mobile applications are more personal than ever, and will get even more personal in the future. Many cell phones can now address owners by their names, remember birthdays, and make movie recommendations based on a user’s favorites — all of which allow companies to have a much more personal interaction with their customers. The inclusion of GPS technology and history-based advertising is becoming more common in the world of app development, so consumers can get a completely tailored experience with immersion and intimacy difficult to achieve on any other platform.

Rewards and Loyalty

A common trend in social applications is a rewards system based on “loyalty.” The concept is simple: reward people for the continued use of a service or app so they keep coming back, and in turn refer more users. Applications like Wikets and Viggle do this exceptionally well by encouraging their user base to promote with social media, and rewarding them when they do so. This trend is also known as “gamification”, and expect more businesses to use this technology with both customers and employees to drive desired behaviors in the future.

With people relying more on mobile devices for shopping and payments, businesses have been taking advantage of the portability and unobtrusiveness of the platform. Although a young concept, mobile commerce has become a growing and viable industry, and will likely impact the world of e-commerce forever.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

Drive Mobile Conversions Through Site Optimization and Mobile Traffic Strategies

mobile strategy

mobile strategyThe exploding popularity of tablets and ever more powerful smartphones has forced a change in the way companies do e-business. Displacing the laptop for more than 25 percent of Internet shoppers and up to 41 percent of casual Internet browsers, smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the media of choice for online shopping, as well as web searches and browsing, leading companies to search for better methods of mobile conversion.

Match User Expectations

These activities become inconvenient or even impossible, however, when users encounter a website that has not been optimized for mobile devices. Mobile users expect high-quality, aesthetically pleasing mobile versions of websites that load quickly, offer trusted security and are easy to navigate. Businesses can no longer simply prepare for a desktop or laptop clientele and hope mobile users pinch and zoom through a poor website experience. In order to avoid profit and traffic loss, businesses must be make specific mobile conversion optimization adjustments.

Responsive Web Design

One of the most efficient adjustments is using responsive web design (RWD). RWD is beginning to replace easy fixes like apps, which had been an inexpensive and convenient way for many websites to offer a mobile-ready experience. Many mobile device users crave a true browser experience, tailored for their small screens and image resolution. RWD provides that; in fact, the innovative technology can automatically detect the device being used for viewing and then morph into the proper format for that device, whether phone, desktop or tablet. This appeals to mobile touchscreen users, especially, and makes it easier for businesses to display advertising; apps are not as conducive to mobile ads.

RWD is also eclipsing the past trend of creating a separate site with duplicate content for smartphone visitors and another one for tablet use because the all-in-one responsive web design is much faster to implement and cheaper. Experts recommend that businesses that opt to stay with duplicate mobile sites built on a sub-domain consider an HTML 5 structure, which provides a mobile-ready look for phones, eBook readers, tablets and any other mobile device.

Other Strategies

In addition to accommodating screen differences through design, some experts are encouraging customized offerings for behavioral differences. Businesses could build a database of mobile subscribers and increase mobile conversions by offering unique deals for those shopping by smartphone. “Research shows that shoppers behave differently when using mobile phones, so retailers should adjust their tactics in this channel,” said Ken Barber, vice president of marketing and product development for mShopper. Since mobile shoppers generally have their phone nearby throughout the day, businesses should text message high-value, time-sensitive deals and promotions exclusively to phone customers; such benefits, he said, would reward them for taking the time and effort to shop on tiny screens.

Other optimization strategies include checking Google analytics to study mobile behavior, keeping landing pages simple, using jQuery responsive slideshows (such as PhotoSwipe and Flexslider) and using geolocation tools that detect the whereabouts of mobile users so that special marketing messages can be sent to those who are nearby.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

Growing A Small Business with Etsy

Thanks to Tina for the following guest post!

While the majority of Etsy sellers use the site to launch their new businesses, a growing number of people are using it to do just the opposite. They use Etsy’s large consumer base and top-notch selling tools as a way to grow an existing small business. While this may seem odd and even redundant, there are several excellent reasons why Etsy can benefit small business owners.

1. Expanded Online Presence

Instead of limiting customers to a small business’s sole website or social media pages, owners can branch out tremendously with an Etsy storefront. It is a great way to pick up drive-by traffic and convert them into regular customers. Alternatively, store owners who simply haven’t gotten around to building their own website can maintain a viable online presence with an Etsy shop, which only involves a matter of minutes to set up. Since it is free to create an account, maintaining an Etsy site is also a budget-friendly option that bypasses the costs and hassle of having to pay for hosting and domain fees, plus web designer services for a website and e-commerce store.

2. A Virtual Sandbox

Testing out new products or variations can be risky at the best of times. Through Etsy, small business owners can create a small amount of new stock to test how well it sells. The investment costs are minimal and the site’s impressive statistics and wish list tools make it easy to gauge the popularity of new additions. Since buyers and sellers are in direct contact through Etsy, small business owners can also ask for buyer feedback for test products.

3. Control Your Target Market

Many small businesses that specialize in hand-made items tend to stick to local selling. With an Etsy storefront, they have the option of remaining local or testing out various other markets by specifying with regions they sell to. This is a fantastic way of testing the waters slowly and methodically without taking on high amounts of risk and investment. In turn, this can give small business owners precious feedback on which areas may be more receptive to a physical storefront.

4. Collaborate

Etsy sellers can freely communicate with each other through the website. Instead of seeing all other sellers as competition, small business owners can team up and collaborate on new projects with some. The key is in finding other sellers who create a complementary product or service. Collaborating helps small business owners to meet other like-minded people. Working together can be a successful exercise in creativity, not to mention the opportunity to introduce the product to an entirely new market.

5. Get Advice

Etsy’s seller forums are a treasure trove of tips, advice, and resources. There are thousands of other sellers online who share some overlap in niche markets, industries, and trades. Often when one person has a question, chances are that others have already figured out a solution. The online message boards are a great place to find all types of helpful information, from reliable suppliers to new techniques, shipping services, taxation details and plenty more.

Tina S. is a veteran Etsy seller and small business owner based in Canada. When Tina is not contributing to university ranking and research sites like DegreeJungle.com, she blogs about online and offline marketing for small businesses.

Biggest Malware Target in U.S. is Android According to New Report

android
android
I am a green robot bug. Nice to meet you.

The prevalence of Android devices, with over 100 million shipped in the second quarter of 2012 and comprising 52.2 percent of the smartphone market in the United States as of September, has made them the number biggest malware target according to a new report by a security vendor. With the growth of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend, this news should inspire IT managers at midsize businesses to review their security policies with regard to the ubiquitous devices.

 

More Attacks, Better Sophistication

In their “Security Threat Report 2013,” Sophos states that attacks against Android devices are increasing rapidly, outpacing attacks on PCs in both the U.S. and Australia. While most attacks until present have been rather simple, the sophistication of exploits is also increasing, enabling hackers to bypass anti-malware programs that have caught on to the old tricks.

As an example, the report details that some Android users have installed versions of popular games such as “Angry Birds Space” which play just like the real game. Unbeknownst to the user, however, the software gains root access and installs Trojans, which can download further malicious code and make the device controllable by a black hat.

Another exploit forwards SMS messages from a compromised device to another device, which can be used to defeat the two-factor authentication scheme used by many financial institutions to protect against fraud. This opens up the potential for a hacker to initiate a large transfer of funds after having gotten hold of a user’s bank login information (not too hard to do these days), and then capture the authentication code delivered via text message in order to validate the transaction with the bank.

Complicating matters is that some Android users choose to purposely root their phones in order to access more software or remove restrictions, leaving these devices even more vulnerable to exploits, as rooted phones allow applications to make changes at the administrator level.

Android and the Enterprise

For IT managers at midsize businesses, Android devices clearly warrant some special attention. Fortunately, the damage to enterprise users has been minimal to date, but this may not hold true in the near future.

Sophos has some recommendations for minimizing the risk of Android malware affecting an enterprise. These include: make sure Android devices are covered in written acceptable use and security documents; opt for full encryption, including removable media; forbid rooted devices; establish protocols for automatically patching devices; set limits on which kind of apps can be installed by users and the permissions granted and implement an MDM (mobile device management) solution.

Android smartphones and tablets can be wonderful productivity tools in the enterprise for midsize businesses — as long as steps are taken to lock them down against cybercriminals who would love a chance to hack the biggest malware target.

Boston.com's "Insights" Program a Model for Cross-Branded Marketing

el chichuahua loco
el chichuahua loco
Not all cross-marketing ideas make sense, however.

Content marketing ideas continue to evolve as companies embrace the switch from the historical, interruptive advertising model to branded content and strategic alliances with other brands. This evolution is blurring the lines between content and advertising, as blog and social media posts are being shared across platforms and brands, resulting in content cross-integration.

Breaking Out of the Silo

Silos are what occur when business units tend to communicate only internally, resulting in an “ivory tower” effect where power is minimized from lack of synergy. This effect can happen in traditional marketing, where brands market as distinct entities instead of tapping into one another’s successes. Some, however, are realizing that piggybacking onto another brand can improve their own exposure.

In a recent press release by Boston.com, it announced the launch of the new “Insights” program. By combining advertising content, social media and blog posts from outside brands with related news stories, the site hopes to provide improved engagement for advertisers and a new way to place information in front of a highly targeted audience.

The bulk of the Insights program operates on the Boston.com website. News articles are combined with advertising posts, blog posts and social media streams for participating advertisers. Content can include everything from simple articles to streaming video. Positioning and integration with news content is optimized for both regular and mobile web browsers to allow for easy use and consistent viewing on a range of devices.

Boston.com sorts advertiser content to fit popular categories or locations, much like keyword-based or geo-targeted advertising campaigns, to ensure that the advertisements are relevant to the reader. Each piece of advertising content can contain links to other websites, sharing widgets and other items to increase exposure and promote engagement. These items are then combined to form galleries and collections on the site that readers can browse separately from the news content as well. Content is also listed and highlighted both weekly and monthly in the print-edition of the Boston Globe for increased exposure.

The Changing Face of Advertisements in the Digital Era

From web browser add-ons to the proliferation of set top boxes with digital video recorders, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that advertisements are actually seen by viewers. This has led to a shift toward integrating advertisements into content within many media types. This latest addition shows that websites and news outlets are no different.

The key to this new form of advertising is striking a balance between content and promotion. Ads are often formatted to seamlessly integrate into the article or content. This practice has been received with lukewarm opinions in many cases. Boston.com hopes to combat the issues that others have faced by clearly defining both advertising content and news content yet allowing them to be linked by subject matter to maintain relevance.

Car Shipping and Social Media?

car shipping and social media

The following is a guest post with some tips of value to all businesses which might think social media and content marketing are not right for them. If a car shipping firm can do it, so can you! – Willie

car shipping and social media
Vroom vroom!

It’s not every day that you talk about the impact that social media has had on the auto shipping industry, but it would seem that there is no industry that has escaped the effect that blogging, tweeting and ‘facebooking’ has had.

Car Shipping 101: Using Live Chat and Twitter for Customer Service

On the National Transport website, car shipping customers have the option to chat with a live person via the ‘live chat’ feature. This gives them an opportunity to ask questions about their shipping order and receive fast responses. Another similar and growing media outlet is Twitter. However, as some car shipping companies are just starting to utilize Twitter as a pseudo- customer service agent of sorts, there are plenty of other companies from a wide variety of different industries who have been using Twitter in this way for a while.

Take, for example, the mass media telecommunications company, Time Warner Cable (TWC). Headquartered in Manhattan but with offices all around the United States, most people know Time Warner because of the Internet and Cable services that they receive through them. And with so many customers around the country, there are certainly a fair amount of complaints and issues that roll in each day that flood the customer service department. Frustrated with the automated prompts of using the telephone to call in, a large number of TWC customers turn to Twitter to resolve service issues. There are a number of Twitter handles that customers can use to contact TWC customer service. One example is @TWCableHelp.

The Power of Facebook

There is no doubt that Facebook is a giant when it comes to sharing information. However, when using Facebook as a car shipping company, it can sometimes become a little tricky. Most studies show that people who use Facebook use it to ‘like’ brand pages as well as to catch up with old friends and acquaintances and also to share information such as light-hearted posts or political causes, etc. But how does this translate for companies — especially ones that ship cars?

Studies have revealed that while people on Facebook ‘like’ brand pages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be solicited to by a brand page. Therefore, the measurable impact of Facebook brand pages can be seen by the type of content that they post. If you post an article about car shipping, chances are that you’ll have a more difficult time getting other people to share it. It can’t just be about car shipping. Instead, if you can find something that loosely pertains to the industry (we’re in the travel and transportation industry), then it makes it more fun and interesting — thus increasing its appeal to the general Facebook user. Take this post that we shared recently on our Facebook page. It’s a simple picture, but it appealed to Facebook users because it was cute and had to do with transportation. Throw in a catchy title to make it a bit more cheeky and fun, and you start to appeal to more people.

The key to Facebook success as a brand page is knowing your audience and how they use specific social media outlets to interact with each other and with businesses.

Car Shipping Blogs

Blogging is a more relaxed spin off from a website. It allows readers to still obtain information but in a more casual setting. Blog posts should be well-written, informative and still retain some semblance of creativity. Keep content fresh and consistent. This is the key to successful blogging as a brand. If readers know when to expect content, you’ll both be better off. What will keep them coming back is well written, thoughtful blog posts. Again, the length and topics of what you discuss on your blog as a brand will depend largely on your audience. For instance, most professional and successful bloggers will tell you that you should really try to keep your blog post short and to the point. Shoot for writing anywhere between 200-400 words per post, throw in an image or two to break up the text and give the posts catchy titles that are also search engine friendly. You have to give the readers a reason to want to read your blog post. Aim to write 2-3 times per week to allow readers to digest the information without overwhelming them with too many posts. If you do plan on posting more frequently, then shorten the posts down.

As one of the leading auto transport companies in the United States, National Transport is constantly changing and evolving, trying out new things and testing out different ways of presenting information and ideas to customers as well as the general public, believing that you don’t get ahead by standing still.

About the Author:

Jenna is a content writer for National Transport, one of the United States’ leading auto transport companies. You can also visit them on Facebook.

 

Making $1,000+ Per Month Online Step by Step

make $1000 per month
make $1000 per month
It takes a decent system to make money online.

The following is a guest post written exclusively for this blog by web marketer Mark Healy:

——————————–
Hi!

This is for newbies who are not sure where to start or what to do to get their online business up and running.

Here are the step by step instructions, so here goes:

Step 1. Find a hungry market, find their biggest problems and offer them a solution to one of those problems.This can be in the form of a product or service. I personally would stick to either the health, wealth or relationship markets and pick a sub niche within that.

Step 2. Create a product of your own. This could be an e-book, audio or video product.

For creating video I recommend using Camtasia Studio and for audio use Audacity. Just plug in your mic, create a presentation on “6 steps to losing weight,” etc. (adapt to your niche) in Office or Google docs and press record on Camtasia.

Here is something I recommend for those just starting out: as you won’t have any influence or experience, why not interview an expert in your chosen niche. You can find them on Google, Amazon, Clickbank and authority blogs and of course the Warrior forum (for the internet marketing niche).

Now, from experience, here is the key to getting experts to say “yes,” and this has worked 60% of the time which is very good. Keep in mind that it’s always about what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you when you deal with them.

So how could you motivate them to say “yes” to helping you?

1. Offer them the full rights to the interview so they can sell it themselves.
2. Tell them it’s extra exposure for them and free publicity.
3. Tell them you will distribute X amount of copies in Y amount of time. They may how you intend to hit those numbers, so be ready to do so.
4. Tell them they can promote their own products and services in the interview.

This will hit hot buttons in them and get them to say “yes.” I have done this countless times. What I love about this technique is newbies can use and ride off of somebody else’s experience and create branding by association. This gives you leverage in the market you’re in and gets your name out there.

Step 3. Ok, so you have got them to say “yes.” Next, arrange a time for the interview and do the interview over Skype, recording it using Pamela for Skype. It’s around $30 — real cheap and it’s a brilliant product. Get a Snowball mic from Amazon for $60 and you’re up and running.

(You can also do 10 interviews and bundle them as a package. Sell a box set of 10 DVD’s and recycle the content for your memberships site.)

Step 4. Create your sales materials. For ease, I would do a sales video. If you’re new and find this intimidating, I would do a sales letter — just mimic other successful sales letters out there in your marketplace and adapt the best elements to your niche/offering.

Step 5. Put your sales letter or video on Clickbank. It’s like $49 one-off set up fee, and you’re up and running once approved in a few days,. They also have a built-in affiliate program so affiliates can start promoting your product.

Make sure you set the price of your product for $10, a low price point packed full of amazing value. This builds massive trust right on the point of sale at the beginning, and your customer is very, very happy. This sets you up for later upsells, etc.

At this stage you’re not thinking about profit, but in getting the customer. Build your customer database first: that is key. The profit is made on the back end.

Step 6. Get Traffic to your sales page/video

I am always testing traffic techniques in my business daily, and I am currently testing solo ads. I will let you all know on the results from this.

The following traffic strategies have worked well for me.

1. Digital point forum. Sign up and after 25 posts you can go to the cheap stuff section in that forum and post a link to your squeeze page to get subscribers to join your list.That particular internet marketing forum gets a lot of traffic daily, and I have had lots of daily sign-ups as a result.

2. Getting on page 1 of Google with any keyword. This is the way I have used to get on page 1 of Google with any competitive keyword:

What you do is write a press release (or get a professional to write it for you) and submit to free press release sites such as 24-7pressrelease.com or pr.com. Now here is the crucial point. Your title needs to have your keyword phrase once and the summary and your first paragraph need to have your keyword phrase at least once maybe twice in them.

News stories have authority, and anything newsworthy with an angle to place your product or service can be great. Also look out for hot topics and seasonal events: can you attach your product to any of these events? Valentine’s Day is perfect for your dating DVD/Ebook, etc.

3. eBay Traffic. I get lots of customers daily on eBay. Now there is something I have to say with this. I don’t make my money on eBay; I offer a really cheap $1 product on eBay to build my customer database only. When I ship them out the physical product (normally a CD/DVD) I send it in a 2 DVD closed case, and the other DVD promotes my back end product for $297.

The back end is where the profits are, and as the price for the first product is so low, you get tons of buyers quickly into your income funnel. The great thing about eBay is high quality buyer traffic; they are searching for products to buy, so are qualified customers.

4.Integration marketing. This is so powerful, I can’t begin tell you.

What you do is you search for people in your market that holds the traffic like forums, companies on page 1 of Google, popular Clickbank sites, people with huge mailing lists, etc. and you go to them and ask them if they will promote your product/put your advert on their “thank you” page/autoresponder sequence/blog, etc. in exchange for a commission + extra added value.

What I mean by extra-added value is, you need to offer these people more than just commissions for them to promote your product. They won’t promote your product if there is nothing in it for them. Every one just offers commissions, and it does not work.

What I do is find out what they really need, and offer them something in addition to the commission.

In the past I might have offered to rewrite their sales letter or moderate the forum/blog for them for 1 hour a day. Then you see if the extra time it’s taken you to do that task is compensated by the sales you’re making from that activity.

You should be integrating your marketing daily to get maximum results, and it leverages your time and effort as affiliates and partners are driving the traffic, not you.

Final tips: use Google docs to store your documents, and have manuals for every process in your business. It’s a brilliant way to leverage your time. Record everything step by step. I also suggest using Dropbox for backing up your files too, it’s excellent and you can access your files from any computer with an Internet connection.

Anyway I hope this helps some people to make sales and build your business.

All the best,

Mark

To check out my latest product click here.

What is with the number 7 in marketing? The secret to more sales on the Internet.

seven
seven
What's with seven?

It seems many marketers, particularly those of the spammy inclination, are pricing everything to end with the number 7. “Get my system for $47,” “Buy this software for $197.” It’s like everybody is trying to become Wal-mart all of a sudden. Wassup with that? Apparently this is the secret to more sales on the Internet.

I admit I haven’t researched why this is, but some guru probably bragged about the fabulous results he was getting with it and everyone jumped on it. That is all fine and dandy, but I have a revolutionary new idea: price everything with a 6! That means it’s cheaper! What would you rather buy…a $47 e-Book on “The 7 Secrets to World Peace, Curing Cancer, and Making Money Through Article Marketing” or a $46 e-Book on “The 7 Secrets to World Peace, Curing Cancer, and Making Money Through Article Marketing.” The choice is clear!

I immediately suspect anyone charging $47 for anything to be an spammer through guilt by association. I would prefer they charge $48.13 or $50, but that is just me.

Enterprise Content Curation – How Pinterest and Other Models Can Lead to Greater Engagement and Profits

pinterest logo

pinterest logoSocial content curation on the Internet is a relatively new concept, prevalent only for the past few years and perfectly illustrated by the skyrocketing use of Pinterest. The idea is that humans provide the best filtration of the enormous amount of information spawned on the Web, and that value of these filters and of the information they curate rises in proportion to the social relevance of the source to the end user. Hence, content shared by close friends and associates on social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and StumbleUpon carry a lot of weight, as these sources have a direct connection and relevance to us personally.

Businesses can adopt content curation on their social intranets. This allows them to present valuable data to stakeholders without having to produce it all in-house, saving time and money. While caution against bombarding with too much information in a short span of time should be adopted, enterprise curation allows a larger body of data to be introduced in a more rapid manner when compared with reliance solely on self-produced content, thereby increasing the value of the company intranet to its users.

What are the benefits of social curation in the enterprise?

Beyond the obvious cost savings and speed benefits, there is business-building value in sharing information through the enterprise curation model. Primarily, this comes in the form of increased engagement with all stakeholders, including employees, vendors and customers. Increased engagement means a greater ability to send your marketing message to ride along unobtrusively with content, and also to gain insight into the current mindset of those different audience types in order to better communicate and plan.

Targeting specific groups within an intranet management platform, such as SharePoint, could be helpful in spurring ideas through crowdsourcing from particular audiences, data mining, and analytics of the content they are sharing and the conversations being had as a result. Enterprise curation provides a window into buttons – the cues that people respond to and compel the decision to purchase or otherwise engage with a brand — simply by monitoring how your audience interacts with the data you have selected for them, and what they choose to curate themselves. Groups can also be directly invited to share ideas on new products by posting designs and themes they wish to see on your platform.

Two different audiences.

Internally, examining the analytics on curated content can help illuminate the values of employees and therefore increase productivity when those values and interests are targeted. Conversely, curated content helps employees understand the forces at play in their industry, and if annotations are attached expressing clear viewpoints from management, will help them process what the company’s stance is regarding these forces.

Externally, an outward-facing portal can increase a brand’s thought leadership position and make it the “go-to” place for industry insights through aggregating valuable content. This aggregation can spur interaction, and therefore foster a continuous conversation with customers, making any investment of time in building it well worth it.

As new media sources, including social media users and digital publishers generate more information in a single day than can be processed in a lifetime, it becomes more and more important to provide a way to separate the wheat from the chaff and direct the information to the appropriate users that will benefit the most from it. Administrators would be wise to implement the social curation model to their intranets.