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Internet Marketing: Video Profits Unleashed Course Video #13

Video Profits Unleashed Course Additional Notes- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-9-HNueZFm-92eVcVgls1gkyBw7LblCo?usp=sharing Masters of Money, LLC., was founded by Michael “MJ The Terrible” Johnson, to create and sell how to information, to people looking for …

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Internet Marketing: Video Profits Unleashed Course Video #14

Video Profits Unleashed Course Additional Notes- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-9-HNueZFm-92eVcVgls1gkyBw7LblCo?usp=sharing Masters of Money, LLC., was founded by Michael “MJ The Terrible” Johnson, to create and sell how to information, to people looking for …

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How to Make a Living as a Writer When Creative Writing Isn’t Paying the Bills

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Growing up, I filled journals with poetry, drawings, and stories. I studied playwriting and performance in graduate school. The thought of running a business or putting a price tag on my creativity was icky. Then real life happened. Newsflash: landlords don’t accept poetry for rent. For a
Read More…

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How to Build A Successful Affiliate Marketing Business Online That Lasts

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D73xCsB6w8g&w=640&h=360]

97% of Customers Read Online Reviews, Survey Says

BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey - The Growing Importance of Local Online Reviews -- And the Dangers of Fake Reviews

Would you reconsider your attitude on consumer reviews if 97 percent of customers said they had read reviews for local businesses in 2017? Well, that is one of the findings of BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey.

For small businesses, the gain or loss of customers has a bigger impact than for a large company. Being able to gain an insight into what your customers think about your business can go a long way toward retaining them for the long run. And online reviews are one of the best ways of gauging how you are doing.

BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey

BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey was conducted in the US in October 2017 among 1,031 consumers. The survey, which is carried out annually, is designed to capture the attitude and behaviors of consumers when they are looking at an online review for local businesses. 

So, how important are online reviews?

Myles Anderson, founder and CEO at BrightLocal, said in a press release, “Every year we see even more consumers looking at online reviews when choosing a local business. And the bar is rising with half of consumers only considering businesses that have a rating of 4 or 5 stars.”

Of the 97 percent of consumers that read reviews for local businesses, 12 percent said they were looking daily. But the survey also revealed another important stat. It takes a customer an average of seven reviews before trusting a local business. And when it comes to trust, 85 percent indicated they trusted reviews as much as personal recommendations.

With reviews playing such an important role, the dangers of fake reviews become even more relevant.

According to the survey, 79 percent of consumers read fake reviews in 2017, 54 percent said they had read at least one, and 25 percent said they had read a lot of fake reviews in the last year. However, 84 percent said they couldn’t always spot the fake reviews.

Takeaway from the Survey

As small businesses compete for customers online and in the physical world, they must have a strategy in place to handle reviews.

As Anderson explains, “It’s no longer enough to expect reviews to come to you. Every business needs a strategy in place to encourage happy customers to feedback, monitor across the different review sites, and respond to both positive and negative reviews quickly and professionally. And remember — if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”

You can go through all of the valuable data in the survey here.

Image: Bright Local

This article, “97% of Customers Read Online Reviews, Survey Says” was first published on Small Business Trends

Should You Go Global?

Expanding internationally in today’s globally interconnected world is far easier than it used to be, but it’s not a fit for every organization. There are many obvious things to consider (market analysis, regulatory issues) and many obscure considerations (the political climate of the new country) to keep in mind. But planned correctly, your business can find international success.

Here are some of the challenges and questions your company and its leadership should prepare for before going global.

Pick your markets carefully. If you are newer to the global game, look for markets that are similar to yours. Those that differ least from the U.S. will be the easiest to export to and do business with. Prioritize lower trade barriers, proximity, currency and cultural similarities. Canada ticks many of these boxes. Beyond that, the complexities start to increase. A more experienced company can tackle markets that are higher on the degree of difficulty curve as that curve bends upward from “developed” to “developing” to “emerging” to “frontier” markets. 

Look before you leap. Do careful market and regulatory due diligence to answer these questions:

  • Will your product sell to local customers? Investing in focus groups and a market segment analysis will narrow the risk of getting it wrong.
  • Is your product price-competitive? Look not only at locally produced competition but at imports from China and elsewhere.
  • Do you have brand recognition or must you build it? If brand recognition is important to your product’s sales, it will take money and time to build it, and that should be factored into your cost budget and sales growth forecasts.
  • Are the regulatory hurdles manageable? Ensure that you comply with applicable government- and industry-specific regulations, and get the necessary approvals, certifications, and licenses. Some level of localization should be expected, to include labeling and language adaptation for your brand, packaging, and advertising.
  • Are your tax and banking affairs in order? Planning a tax-efficient structure and local operation includes complying with local tax codes and applicable double-tax treaties with the U.S. and any intermediate overseas entities that are part of a tax-optimized structure. Be aware that many foreign banks are reluctant to deal with many U.S.-owned or -connected companies because of the high cost of complying with U.S.-dictated reporting rules (e.g., FATCA). In any case, the know-your-client rules can mean months to open an account.

Before you go too far, take a look in the mirror. Is your organization ready?

  • Is the company ready to adapt to the cultural differences in a new country environment? Legal, commercial, and HR policies and procedures should be adapted for differences in language, business practices, social customs, and regulations.
  • Does the company have the communication skills required for a company competing in a globally interconnected economy? The world’s move from an industrial to digital era means it is easier now for smaller companies to become multinational. It also means a different way of communicating, a different way of giving signals and a different way of meeting with a remotely dispersed team. While a company gains from the communication advantages of digital connectivity, it sacrifices some of the coordination and interconnectedness that comes from being face to face.

Check the readiness of your overseas team.

  • Most companies groom their new-country managers at home and move them abroad to lead and manage. This is especially true of younger companies because they trust and are comfortable with their own. But do they have the ability to adapt to and be effective leaders in a different culture? Training is a must. Also, consider attracting external talent to help lead or complement the beachhead team.
  • Find a strong local partner. Whether your business model is distribution, JV, franchise, or manufacturing, your local partner will make or break your success. Don’t rush. Vet thoroughly and pay close attention to IP protection.

Is your leadership team fit for purpose? Successful international companies have boards and senior executive teams that match the markets and customers they will serve. They have most or all of these traits in common:

  • They recognize that there are wide cultural differences between American organizations and, say, a Chinese organization, an Indian organization, a Brazilian organization, a German organization, and a Russian organization.
  • They have or recruit talent that knows how to make the smart decisions on strategy and direction.
  • They develop global leaders to match; meaning those who can adjust and adapt across cultural boundaries to get the best out of their team’s skill sets, the energy they bring to work and in creating an environment that will optimize their people’s success.
  • They develop their bench. Junior folks have to be more seasoned and experienced than before. The CEO charts the path, but mid-level management has to execute the strategy.

Planning for the unexpected. Boards and senior management must be able to adjust their country strategies and business models to respond to ever-shifting geopolitical and regulatory environments. Best practices include:

  • Install a monitoring process. The process begins with monitoring local and global legislative, regulatory, and market developments through publicly available media and customized reports. On-ground GR resources must be enlisted – using either in-house hires and consultants, or industry associations and advocacy groups.
  • Respond proactively. The process continues with responses that intelligently adapt to the changed circumstances in a timely and nimble fashion. For fast-changing markets, scenario planning should be used for formulating a response and contingency plans. Local political and regulatory changes can present opportunities to exploit or dangers to avoid and manage around.
  • Be clear-eyed about country risk. At its extreme, your company may find itself the object of discrimination or of confiscation of assets. These may be either directed at your company or at a targeted industry (e.g., those considered strategic or vital to national security, such as energy or telecommunications), as retaliation against companies from certain countries (e.g., against U.S. companies in response to American policy), or nationalization (e.g., as in Venezuela with oil, cement, steel, and glass manufacturing companies). Strategies to anticipate and limit the effect of these risks must be incorporated into the monitoring and response processes above.
  • Pay attention to political events at home. Policy changes at home can present opportunities to well-prepared, nimble movers and blindside those who aren’t prepared. The same advice about monitoring and scenario planning applies. Even for companies with fewer GR resources, having a globally attuned mindset will pay dividends or help avoid expensive moves. Consider the finally announced, unsurprising pullout from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Smaller companies in the solar, wind, and other energy-efficient industries have had plenty of time to adjust their growth, investment, and employment expectations. Similarly, the long broadcast NAFTA renegotiations should have triggered contingency planning for all companies dependent on the treaty’s favorable tariff and labor advantages.

The goal is to narrow the number of truly “unknown unknowns.” At one extreme, Russia’s invasion of Crimea clearly caught the world outside the Kremlin by surprise. Few companies had predicted and prepared for the effects of U.S. and European sanctions on Russia and then Russia’s responsive food importation embargo. In combination, these were immediately disruptive to the financial services industry and painful for American food exporters.

At the other extreme, few companies doing business in Cuba should have been surprised by the recent reinstatement of trade and travel restrictions. Southwest Airlines would certainly have put contingency plans in place in anticipation of diminished route volumes. After the hack that led to the release of the Panama Papers, it was only a matter of time before it repeated, as with the recently released Paradise Papers. Certainly, a savvy tech company like Apple would have had a communications strategy at the ready to explain its move from Ireland to Jersey when those details ultimately were revealed.  

The waters of global business can be tricky indeed. If well navigated, with the right resources, planning, and mindset, the rewards to your company will be many.

VC Funding Doesn't Always Equal Success — Here Are the 4 Things That Do

Notching a win means staying scrappy and savvy beyond betting on what those investors’ coffers might yield.

Why Starting a Podcast Intrigues Forward-Thinking Content Marketers

You know that familiar “awkward moment” is speeding toward you as the holiday functions and parties suddenly multiply across your calendar like chicken pox. You’re standing there, about to take a sip of your drink, when like clockwork it comes: “So … what do you do?” “I’m a … I work on the internet. Have
Read More…

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Jeff Rose Has 7 Streams of Monthly Revenue. Here's How He Did It

How you can get started yourself in creating multiple sources of income.

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Conversions are in the toilet.

Traffic is still coming in. But your bottom line isn’t changing.

Sales are slower than ever. People simply aren’t buying right now.

It’s not the holiday season. It’s probably just the “off-season” for online sales.

No need to worry, right? It’s normal for this time of year…

But it’s not. Selling online isn’t only seasonal.

Conversions just aren’t happening for you. But there’s a reason.

Your conversion rate optimization tactics are outdated.

Or you simply don’t have any in place.

Those instant on-site popups aren’t compelling users to buy from you.

Social share buttons don’t lead to buying decisions.

As the online landscape changes and new technologies arise, user behavior changes.

And when user behavior shifts, marketers can’t stick to the same old tactics and fall behind.

If you don’t keep up to date with user behavior, your business and livelihood could be at risk.

Thankfully, there are a few data-backed conversion hacks you can implement that are sure to get you a better conversion rate.

So, what are you waiting for?

1. Include different checkout options

What if I told you that a few simple minutes of work (without paying anything for setup) could net you 44% more conversions?

Would you call me crazy? Maybe a used car salesman? Fair enough.

But let me explain.

Is your website optimized for mobile traffic? If not, is your name Fred Flintstone?

Image Source

In all seriousness, if you don’t have a mobile site that’s optimized for mobile sales, you’re doomed.

Why? Because the majority of website traffic is mobile now.

Image Source

If you’re not optimizing for mobile, you’re risking tons of conversions.

Mobile intent is big, too.

Think about it.

When you’re on the go, and you see someone wearing a shoe that looks awesome, what do you do?

You probably open up your smartphone and Google it.

You want it now. You don’t want to wait.

Why? Because you saw someone wearing it and you liked it.

Mobile intent is high because people often see something they like on the go. They don’t sit around wondering if they should really buy it.

So, where am I going with this?

You can improve your checkout conversions by up to 44% by incorporating multiple payment gateways, such as PayPal.

Pretty amazing, right?

According to Nielsen research data, PayPal transactions also have a 70% higher checkout conversion rate than non-PayPal transactions.

You need any trick in the book when cart abandonment hovers around 70%.

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Alternative payment methods are especially important on mobile, where people are otherwise forced to whip their credit cards out in public.

Adding other payment options is one of the easiest ways to solve that problem.

2. Use more videos

Video marketing is literally the future.

Research predicts that video will account for 70% of mobile traffic by 2021.

Video is already dominating the landscape of marketing.

HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report has shown that more and more marketing professionals are investing their budgets into video platforms like YouTube and Facebook Video:

Image Source

All of the top content distribution channels are heading towards video.

And for good reason.

Adding videos to your landing pages or product pages gives you a 50x higher chance of showing up on Google searches.

More visibility = more traffic and more conversions.

Even the simple mention of video in your email subject line can increase open rates.

That’s how popular video is right now.

If you are struggling to get conversions on your landing pages, consider creating a simple product video to help explain what your product does and why it can help the user.

People don’t like reading text anymore.

The majority of people skim text-based content online. Including that long-form sales page you just put finishing touches on.

People want you to get straight to the point. Video marketing can help you do just that.

If you don’t know where to start, try using a site like Biteable to create free videos for your landing pages.

You can create free business-style videos that have dozens of animated templates.

Plus, it’s free. It doesn’t cost you a cent.

And according to the latest data, implementing videos on your page will increase conversions.

The top companies are using videos on their landing pages right now.

Check out this landing page from Leadpages:

They use an explainer-style video to show how you can benefit from their product.

Seeing a video demo in action is much more compelling than reading a block of text about how great your product is.

3. Increase site speed

If you want to increase your conversion rates, speed is one the best ways to do it.

Why? Because we are impatient people.

Nobody wants to wait ten seconds for a site to load. Seriously: nobody.

Not when there are hundreds of companies out there selling or offering similar products/services.

Google recently released some amazing data backing this all up.

The latest data shows that if your site is slow, your bounce rate is going to increase:

Image Source

And an increase in bounce rate means fewer conversions.

Even a few seconds can cost you valuable traffic.

When it comes to an online business, traffic is money.

Walmart found that their conversions dropped rapidly when load times jumped from one to four seconds.

Every second of improvement resulted in a 2% increase in conversions.

Image Source

General data shows us an even worse outlook on site speed.

For each second that your website takes to load, you can expect a 7% decrease in conversions.

Image Source

Speed has the power to make or break your website. It can truly determine whether or not you find profit and scalable growth.

Even a single second could be costing you money.

According to Google, the majority of websites in any given industry fall way too short:

Image Source

The best practice for site speed is three seconds or less. But most of us are taking longer than eight full seconds. That’s bad.

So, what can you do about it? The first step is to diagnose your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Enter your website URL into the tool and analyze it.

From here, you get your website’s overall speed score for both mobile and desktop.

The great thing about this tool is the free insight that it will give you into how you can fix your site problems.

Most of the time, images are going to be the biggest culprit.

They take up tons of space on your site, slowing your speeds dramatically.

If you can compress a few images, you’ve got a good shot at improving your site speed and increasing conversions.

WordPress has tons of plugins that you can use to automatically compress your images and increase site speed.

Try using Smush It:

It’s a free tool that you can install on your WordPress site in just a few minutes. You can also try TinyPNG or ImageOptim (Mac only).

When it comes to increasing conversions, speed is the name of the game.

4. Shorten landing pages

Long-form content wins the day when it comes to blogging.

Data proves it. The longer the content, the higher chance you’ve got to rank well on Google.

We hear it all the time: the longer, the better (no innuendo intended).

Content is king. Especially long-form content.

But does that same principle apply to landing pages?

Do long-form landing pages convert better?

Well, it makes sense that a long-form landing page would be good right?

You can tell a user all about your product without them having to leave the page to find more info.

Product features, demos, and descriptions are amazing when it comes to pushing a customer to buy.

Every sector of your business can have their featured spot on a landing page. It sounds great when you think about it.

But the data actually shows us otherwise.

Shortening your landing page can increase conversion rates dramatically:

Image Source

In a case study, one company reduced the size of its landing page and found a 13% increase in sign-ups and a 35% higher click-through rate to pricing pages.

This isn’t a one-off case study either.

Neil Patel found a 13% increase in conversions on his Crazy Egg site by reducing the content amount by 60%.

Patel also worked with a client on their landing page to increase conversions.

They were using a long-form style landing page, but Neil recommended using a short-form page with video-based content.

They reduced the size of the landing page dramatically.

In the end, the conversion rate for the website jumped by 40%.

Data consistently shows that short-form landing page content converts better.

Why? Because Americans read headlines and not much else.

Typical Americans, am I right?

But seriously, Buffer found that 55% of visitors to your site will only read your content for 15 seconds or less.

If you want more conversions, try shortening your landing page and getting straight down to business.

Slack has one of the best landing pages in the SaaS industry right now.

It’s short-form and gets straight down to business with a clear-cut headline and call to action:

There is almost nothing on the homepage besides a headline, description, CTA, and a bit of social proof.

Bonus Hack: Social proof is one of the best data-backed hacks to increasing your conversion rate in seconds.

Include a few statistics on your site about how many users you’ve helped or big companies you’ve served. Orbit Media increased their conversions by 1400% using social proof.

Conclusion

Conversions are worse than ever.

You’re still driving tons of traffic to your site and product pages. But nothing is budging.

All of that work you’ve put in to bring people to your site isn’t leading to sales.

You’re screwed (kidding). You feel trapped, scared, and worried about your business.

Without conversions, you don’t have a business.

It’s probably just the slow season, right? Wrong.

There is no real slow season when it comes to generating conversions and sales online.

There is just bad conversion rate optimization.

Thankfully, it’s not that hard to fix.

There are actually multiple data-backed ways to increase your conversions for free.

Including PayPal at checkout can increase your conversions by up to 44%.

Want a fast increase in conversions on your landing pages? Include some product explainer videos.

Site speed should be a big focus, too. The slower your site is, the higher your bounce rate will be and the lower your conversion rate.

Try shortening your landing pages. It’s proven to increase conversions.

Getting conversions doesn’t require you to spend thousands on an agency to fix your site. It just requires a few simple tweaks to make it easier and faster to buy from you.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

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About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

Michael Jackson's Father, Joe Jackson, Posts Bizarre Video Addressed to Blanket

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Facebook Community Boost Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs

Facebook Community Boost Program Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has unveiled Facebook Community Boost — a new program that seeks to help U.S. small businesses grow by enhancing their digital skills.

Facebook Community Boost Program

In a Facebook Newsroom post, Facebook’s VP of Small Business Dan Levy said the Facebook Community Boost program will visit 30 cities in 2018 and among them will be St. Louis, Albuquerque, Houston, Des Moines and Greenville, South Carolina. He further added that they will work with local organizations in the selected areas to provide digital skills training to help local businesses and entrepreneurs get the most out of the internet.

“If you’re an entrepreneur, we’ll have training programs on how to use technology to turn an idea into a business or show you ways to create a free online presence using Facebook,” Levy said. “If you’re a business owner we’re going to offer ways your business can expand its digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe.”

The social media giant says it has, since 2011, been quietly supporting small businesses around the globe to the tune of $1 billion. The company says it has also trained more than 60,000 businesses in the U.S. alone and thousands more around the globe.

For many business owners, the importance of using Facebook in the growth of their businesses isn’t a new realization. A survey conducted by Morning Consult and co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Facebook shows that one in three U.S. small and medium-sized businesses with a Facebook presence said that they “built their business” on the site, while 42 percent said they hired more people due to growth via Facebook.

It is likely that the Facebook Community Boost trainings will mostly focus on helping small businesses realize their goals using Facebook, but Levy also promised that the trainings will be beneficial to people who are getting online for the first time as well as those seeking skills on basic digital literacy and online safety.

Image: Facebook

This article, “Facebook Community Boost Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs” was first published on Small Business Trends

Facebook Community Boost Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs

Facebook Community Boost Program Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has unveiled Facebook Community Boost — a new program that seeks to help U.S. small businesses grow by enhancing their digital skills.

Facebook Community Boost Program

In a Facebook Newsroom post, Facebook’s VP of Small Business Dan Levy said the Facebook Community Boost program will visit 30 cities in 2018 and among them will be St. Louis, Albuquerque, Houston, Des Moines and Greenville, South Carolina. He further added that they will work with local organizations in the selected areas to provide digital skills training to help local businesses and entrepreneurs get the most out of the internet.

“If you’re an entrepreneur, we’ll have training programs on how to use technology to turn an idea into a business or show you ways to create a free online presence using Facebook,” Levy said. “If you’re a business owner we’re going to offer ways your business can expand its digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe.”

The social media giant says it has, since 2011, been quietly supporting small businesses around the globe to the tune of $1 billion. The company says it has also trained more than 60,000 businesses in the U.S. alone and thousands more around the globe.

For many business owners, the importance of using Facebook in the growth of their businesses isn’t a new realization. A survey conducted by Morning Consult and co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Facebook shows that one in three U.S. small and medium-sized businesses with a Facebook presence said that they “built their business” on the site, while 42 percent said they hired more people due to growth via Facebook.

It is likely that the Facebook Community Boost trainings will mostly focus on helping small businesses realize their goals using Facebook, but Levy also promised that the trainings will be beneficial to people who are getting online for the first time as well as those seeking skills on basic digital literacy and online safety.

Image: Facebook

This article, “Facebook Community Boost Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs” was first published on Small Business Trends

Is Personalization the New Buzz for 2017? (Infographic) | SocialTimes…

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Office of the Future: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!

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Future Office Tech: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!

Picture this: you step into your office and the light goes on automatically. You sit down at your desk and your computer recognizes your face, unlocking the screen. You ask your digital assistant what appointments you have, and you get a voice response back. No logging in, no typing.

You get ready to print off four copies of last year’s strategic plan for tomorrow’s team meeting. Then you see the advanced technology in your Canon MAXIFY printer tells you the ink level is low and you’re almost out. But no worries — you’ve already signed up for a subscription to ink supplies and have them on hand. You swap out the depleted cartridge for a full one, and hit “print” — no last minute rush orders.

You check your live chat system and see your automated chatbot “conversed” with a prospective customer while you were out.

Meanwhile, a visitor is in the lobby. You can see from your mobile phone who has arrived, via an interactive security camera app.

All of this technology is available today — and it’s very affordable for small businesses.

Future Office Tech is Already Here

For small and home offices, you can deploy some of the same solutions as those we use in our homes.

Fueled by the growth of connected devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home hubs, forward-thinking consumers are beginning to see the benefits of smart home technology. According to Kagan Research, 15 million U.S. households were smart homes at the end of 2016. That number is projected to grow to encompass 28% of all U.S. households by 2021.

But not all advanced technology is for the smart home or even for buildings. A host of exciting advances are in business software and office hardware.

Three key trends are driving future tech for small offices and home offices:

  • Machine learning-enabled software makes processes more efficient and positions businesses to achieve more without adding extra staff or manual processes. Also referred to as artificial intelligence or AI, it sounds complex and futuristic. But you are probably using business software today with AI, whether you realize it or not. It’s already incorporated into a growing number of software applications including some analytics, CRM, email marketing, financial and other software programs.
  • Connected cloud-based apps and devices save time and are incredibly convenient. A wireless printer that enables you to print directly from the cloud can make for a much more efficient office, saving time and money. When your data is stored or accessible in the cloud, coupled with “connected” devices, you are untethered and gain freedom.
  • Mobility, of course, is a key enabler for small businesses. When you have a small team, you need to get out and about but still be able to conduct business seamlessly. With a tablet or smartphone, you can accomplish most work using cloud applications no matter where you happen to be. Your customer never needs to know whether you’re sitting in an airport or at the beach.

Great Partners are Key

As I talk with small business owners, one of the biggest concerns I hear is how overwhelming today’s technology can feel. So many buzzwords, so much to learn!

But the thing to remember is, much of this advanced technology is being figured out and driven by the product vendors we use. We in small businesses don’t have to build machine-learning algorithms. Nor do we have to become expert in how connected IoT devices are made or maintained.

Instead, as business owners and entrepreneurs, we just have to find great devices and apps from great vendors that support us well.

It starts with being aware of what’s out there, so we can make the best choices from the most advanced technologies to meet our needs.

Replace fear with desire: what do we want technology to achieve for our businesses?

Don’t assume you know what a piece of software or hardware can do, just because that’s traditionally what it’s done. Instead, investigate what companies have to offer and embrace new tech. You may be pleasantly surprised what a simple device or app can do today.

Reliability and Great Service are More Important Than Ever

Here’s what to look for in today’s “future” technology:

Is the product easy to set up? Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive?

What about integrations and interoperability? Does the technology work well with other technology you use? Case in point is Canon’s recent integration with the Concur expense accounting app. According to Mike Duffett, VP & GM, ITCG Printer Marketing, Canon USA, this integration allows “Canon MAXIFY users to scan and save their receipts directly to their Concur account. By simply downloading the app using the MAXIFY printer screen, users can scan their receipts and save them to their Concur expense account all from the MAXIFY screen – no computer needed.”

Being able to send scanned receipts directly to an expense app is a huge productivity enhancer. This is just one of the ways, he says, that Canon products “are streamlining workloads of our small business owners and ultimately supporting their business needs.”

And what about support? Most vendors offer online Help files and email support. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But what about when you’re in a major hurry? Or you’ve tried to figure out the solution from Help pages, but so far no luck? That’s when live support from people by phone is what you need. And sometimes, with hardware products, you may need fast service on the hardware.

Duffett says Canon’s research shows service is very important to small business owners. He adds, “The Canon MAXIFY lineup specifically has a dedicated line for small business owners to call that will route them directly to a team that can support their needs. For a business owner on a deadline — this is the type of make or break support that our brand provides. The customer support team responds with rapid speed to business owners, who will never be re-routed or speak with someone who is not an expert on the product.”

As an extension of its service and support function, Canon is giving small business owners and entrepreneurs direct access to first-hand insights and advice from self-made successes in preparation for Small Business Saturday. On Nov. 14, New York Times bestseller and small business guru Carol Roth will sit down with mother-daughter cofounders of the Shark Tank success, Wicked Good Cupcakes live on Facebook from Canon USA HQ.

As technology continues to evolve at lightspeed and get smarter, your business has the potential to become more efficient and move with more speed toward capturing opportunities. And with smart technology already here today, your people can be freed up to do higher level tasks that add even more value to your business.

Sounds like a winning formula to me.

Office Tech Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Office of the Future: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!” was first published on Small Business Trends

Should You Go Global?

Expanding internationally in today’s globally interconnected world is far easier than it used to be, but it’s not a fit for every organization. There are many obvious things to consider (market analysis, regulatory issues) and many obscure considerations (the political climate of the new country) to keep in mind. But planned correctly, your business can find international success.

Here are some of the challenges and questions your company and its leadership should prepare for before going global.

Pick your markets carefully. If you are newer to the global game, look for markets that are similar to yours. Those that differ least from the U.S. will be the easiest to export to and do business with. Prioritize lower trade barriers, proximity, currency and cultural similarities. Canada ticks many of these boxes. Beyond that, the complexities start to increase. A more experienced company can tackle markets that are higher on the degree of difficulty curve as that curve bends upward from “developed” to “developing” to “emerging” to “frontier” markets.

Look before you leap. Do careful market and regulatory due diligence to answer these questions:

  • Will your product sell to local customers? Investing in focus groups and a market segment analysis will narrow the risk of getting it wrong.
  • Is your product price-competitive? Look not only at locally produced competition but at imports from China and elsewhere.
  • Do you have brand recognition or must you build it? If brand recognition is important to your product’s sales, it will take money and time to build it, and that should be factored into your cost budget and sales growth forecasts.
  • Are the regulatory hurdles manageable? Ensure that you comply with applicable government- and industry-specific regulations, and get the necessary approvals, certifications, and licenses. Some level of localization should be expected, to include labeling and language adaptation for your brand, packaging, and advertising.
  • Are your tax and banking affairs in order? Planning a tax-efficient structure and local operation includes complying with local tax codes and applicable double-tax treaties with the U.S. and any intermediate overseas entities that are part of a tax-optimized structure. Be aware that many foreign banks are reluctant to deal with many U.S.-owned or -connected companies because of the high cost of complying with U.S.-dictated reporting rules (e.g., FATCA). In any case, the know-your-client rules can mean months to open an account.

Before you go too far, take a look in the mirror. Is your organization ready?

  • Is the company ready to adapt to the cultural differences in a new country environment? Legal, commercial, and HR policies and procedures should be adapted for differences in language, business practices, social customs, and regulations.
  • Does the company have the communication skills required for a company competing in a globally interconnected economy? The world’s move from an industrial to digital era means it is easier now for smaller companies to become multinational. It also means a different way of communicating, a different way of giving signals and a different way of meeting with a remotely dispersed team. While a company gains from the communication advantages of digital connectivity, it sacrifices some of the coordination and interconnectedness that comes from being face to face.

Check the readiness of your overseas team.

  • Most companies groom their new-country managers at home and move them abroad to lead and manage. This is especially true of younger companies because they trust and are comfortable with their own. But do they have the ability to adapt to and be effective leaders in a different culture? Training is a must. Also, consider attracting external talent to help lead or complement the beachhead team.
  • Find a strong local partner. Whether your business model is distribution, JV, franchise, or manufacturing, your local partner will make or break your success. Don’t rush. Vet thoroughly and pay close attention to IP protection.

Is your leadership team fit for purpose? Successful international companies have boards and senior executive teams that match the markets and customers they will serve. They have most or all of these traits in common:

  • They recognize that there are wide cultural differences between American organizations and, say, a Chinese organization, an Indian organization, a Brazilian organization, a German organization, and a Russian organization.
  • They have or recruit talent that knows how to make the smart decisions on strategy and direction.
  • They develop global leaders to match; meaning those who can adjust and adapt across cultural boundaries to get the best out of their team’s skill sets, the energy they bring to work and in creating an environment that will optimize their people’s success.
  • They develop their bench. Junior folks have to be more seasoned and experienced than before. The CEO charts the path, but mid-level management has to execute the strategy.

Planning for the unexpected. Boards and senior management must be able to adjust their country strategies and business models to respond to ever-shifting geopolitical and regulatory environments. Best practices include:

  • Install a monitoring process. The process begins with monitoring local and global legislative, regulatory, and market developments through publicly available media and customized reports. On-ground GR resources must be enlisted – using either in-house hires and consultants, or industry associations and advocacy groups.
  • Respond proactively. The process continues with responses that intelligently adapt to the changed circumstances in a timely and nimble fashion. For fast-changing markets, scenario planning should be used for formulating a response and contingency plans. Local political and regulatory changes can present opportunities to exploit or dangers to avoid and manage around.
  • Be clear-eyed about country risk. At its extreme, your company may find itself the object of discrimination or of confiscation of assets. These may be either directed at your company or at a targeted industry (e.g., those considered strategic or vital to national security, such as energy or telecommunications), as retaliation against companies from certain countries (e.g., against U.S. companies in response to American policy), or nationalization (e.g., as in Venezuela with oil, cement, steel, and glass manufacturing companies). Strategies to anticipate and limit the effect of these risks must be incorporated into the monitoring and response processes above.
  • Pay attention to political events at home. Policy changes at home can present opportunities to well-prepared, nimble movers and blindside those who aren’t prepared. The same advice about monitoring and scenario planning applies. Even for companies with fewer GR resources, having a globally attuned mindset will pay dividends or help avoid expensive moves. Consider the finally announced, unsurprising pullout from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Smaller companies in the solar, wind, and other energy-efficient industries have had plenty of time to adjust their growth, investment, and employment expectations. Similarly, the long broadcast NAFTA renegotiations should have triggered contingency planning for all companies dependent on the treaty’s favorable tariff and labor advantages.

The goal is to narrow the number of truly “unknown unknowns.” At one extreme, Russia’s invasion of Crimea clearly caught the world outside the Kremlin by surprise. Few companies had predicted and prepared for the effects of U.S. and European sanctions on Russia and then Russia’s responsive food importation embargo. In combination, these were immediately disruptive to the financial services industry and painful for American food exporters.

At the other extreme, few companies doing business in Cuba should have been surprised by the recent reinstatement of trade and travel restrictions. Southwest Airlines would certainly have put contingency plans in place in anticipation of diminished route volumes. After the hack that led to the release of the Panama Papers, it was only a matter of time before it repeated, as with the recently released Paradise Papers. Certainly, a savvy tech company like Apple would have had a communications strategy at the ready to explain its move from Ireland to Jersey when those details ultimately were revealed.

The waters of global business can be tricky indeed. If well navigated, with the right resources, planning, and mindset, the rewards to your company will be many.

 

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Technology evolution is not slowing down. While many organizations are struggling to keep up, significant changes in the workplace are beginning to take place today, and professionals are feeling the impact. Automation, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), you name it, it’s happening.

With rapid developments across science, technology engineering and communication, technology has brought upon a new industrial revolution, or “second machine age,” that will greatly influence jobs across sectors as well as roles within the home. The rise of advanced tools and skills leaves many unanswered questions for the future; however, it’s clear five major changes are bound to impact the future of work.

1. Robots, do you take lunch breaks?

Robots have performed manufacturing activities that humans don’t want to do or shouldn’t do for decades. From repetitive tasks or jobs that do not require unique cognitive skills or emotional intelligence, replacing human workers with intelligent machines can save a company up to 90 percent in labor costs. Another bonus: the elimination of the lunch break.

According to PwC, more than a third of U.K. jobs could be at “high risk” of automation by the early 2030s, and robots could take over 38 percent of current U.S. jobs in the next 15 years. Beyond the fears of intelligent machine growth as a job killer, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will enhance the coordination of resources and on-demand learning, which will reset work structures for manufacturing and more.

AI-powered machines have an enhanced ability to make basic decisions, learn from experiences and share that learning with other AI programs. This will enable people to rely on them more heavily while streamlining and improving processes and everyday tasks, facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship. Unlike humans, robots do not provide emotional intelligence; thus, humans will remain as critical partners working alongside advanced algorithms.

2. Gig or fib?

Contract workers, freelancers, ride-share drivers and other alternative work arrangements – otherwise known as the “gig economy” – account for a significant amount of net employment growth in the U.S. over the past decade. While the gig economy becomes more pervasive, the gigs will change.

Take autonomous cars, for example. Well-known ride-sharing companies have invested heavily in the development of driverless cars. While there are early signs of technology leaning this way and the impact may not be evident for some time, you can very well envision a time where autonomous cars will replace “gig” drivers, and humans will have to come to terms with what this means for the future of their various professional endeavors.

However, with a change in the gig economy also comes new opportunity. Around 85 percent of the jobs that today’s population will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, according to the Institute for the Future workshop in March 2017.

3. Visualize your work in real time.

Businesses are looking to VR and AR to enhance training, collaboration and much more. On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training, and real-time decision-making will be supported by easy access to information.

VR-enabled simulations will immerse people in alternative experiences and places, creating empathy and empowering a blend of physical and virtual worlds. For example, Nike, Meta and Dell are partnering to use VR, AR, voice control, a digital canvas and haptic technology to allow designers to create their vision in more natural ways. OEMs are investing heavily in innovation on the content creation side, consumption of content for gaming, entertainment, and work, service, and support, to be able to take advantage of what VR and AR have to offer.

4. Up in the clouds

Whether it’s public, private or hybrid cloud, organizations are relying on it, and it’s expected to grow. Chitale Dairy, a dairy farming business in India, recently launched a “cow to cloud” initiative to tag and capture data through AI and the internet of things (IoT) to alert farmers when they need to change the cows’ diet, arrange vaccinations, etc.

The cloud is the most agile method for enterprise companies, like Chitale Dairy, to benefit in terms of efficiency and profitability, but also customers in the end. Organizations must train their employees to master the cloud, and, in turn, companies will experience strong benefits when it comes to simplifying their tasks, saving time and focusing efforts on strategic areas of their businesses to maximize revenues.

5. Clear the bias.

Human-machine partnerships will enable people to find and act on information without the interference of emotions or bias, potentially eliminating stereotypes. Machine learning will increase a person’s ability to evaluate an employee prospect and identify optimal talent or even a worker’s aptitude for gaining new knowledge or learning new skills without personal judgment. Both hiring processes and daily tasks will experience significant improvements as prospects and employees are viewed solely for their skills, and biases are removed from the equation.

Keeping a pulse on these imminent changes today will prepare both employee and employer for what’s to come in the next 15 years and beyond. While challenges and hurdles may arise, humans must act now on technology’s impact on the future by maximizing these relationships now.

 

Office of the Future: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!

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Future Office Tech: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!

Picture this: you step into your office and the light goes on automatically. You sit down at your desk and your computer recognizes your face, unlocking the screen. You ask your digital assistant what appointments you have, and you get a voice response back. No logging in, no typing.

You get ready to print off four copies of last year’s strategic plan for tomorrow’s team meeting. Then you see the advanced technology in your Canon MAXIFY printer tells you the ink level is low and you’re almost out. But no worries — you’ve already signed up for a subscription to ink supplies and have them on hand. You swap out the depleted cartridge for a full one, and hit “print” — no last minute rush orders.

You check your live chat system and see your automated chatbot “conversed” with a prospective customer while you were out.

Meanwhile, a visitor is in the lobby. You can see from your mobile phone who has arrived, via an interactive security camera app.

All of this technology is available today — and it’s very affordable for small businesses.

Future Office Tech is Already Here

For small and home offices, you can deploy some of the same solutions as those we use in our homes.

Fueled by the growth of connected devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home hubs, forward-thinking consumers are beginning to see the benefits of smart home technology. According to Kagan Research, 15 million U.S. households were smart homes at the end of 2016. That number is projected to grow to encompass 28% of all U.S. households by 2021.

But not all advanced technology is for the smart home or even for buildings. A host of exciting advances are in business software and office hardware.

Three key trends are driving future tech for small offices and home offices:

  • Machine learning-enabled software makes processes more efficient and positions businesses to achieve more without adding extra staff or manual processes. Also referred to as artificial intelligence or AI, it sounds complex and futuristic. But you are probably using business software today with AI, whether you realize it or not. It’s already incorporated into a growing number of software applications including some analytics, CRM, email marketing, financial and other software programs.
  • Connected cloud-based apps and devices save time and are incredibly convenient. A wireless printer that enables you to print directly from the cloud can make for a much more efficient office, saving time and money. When your data is stored or accessible in the cloud, coupled with “connected” devices, you are untethered and gain freedom.
  • Mobility, of course, is a key enabler for small businesses. When you have a small team, you need to get out and about but still be able to conduct business seamlessly. With a tablet or smartphone, you can accomplish most work using cloud applications no matter where you happen to be. Your customer never needs to know whether you’re sitting in an airport or at the beach.

Great Partners are Key

As I talk with small business owners, one of the biggest concerns I hear is how overwhelming today’s technology can feel. So many buzzwords, so much to learn!

But the thing to remember is, much of this advanced technology is being figured out and driven by the product vendors we use. We in small businesses don’t have to build machine-learning algorithms. Nor do we have to become expert in how connected IoT devices are made or maintained.

Instead, as business owners and entrepreneurs, we just have to find great devices and apps from great vendors that support us well.

It starts with being aware of what’s out there, so we can make the best choices from the most advanced technologies to meet our needs.

Replace fear with desire: what do we want technology to achieve for our businesses?

Don’t assume you know what a piece of software or hardware can do, just because that’s traditionally what it’s done. Instead, investigate what companies have to offer and embrace new tech. You may be pleasantly surprised what a simple device or app can do today.

Reliability and Great Service are More Important Than Ever

Here’s what to look for in today’s “future” technology:

Is the product easy to set up? Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive?

What about integrations and interoperability? Does the technology work well with other technology you use? Case in point is Canon’s recent integration with the Concur expense accounting app. According to Mike Duffett, VP & GM, ITCG Printer Marketing, Canon USA, this integration allows “Canon MAXIFY users to scan and save their receipts directly to their Concur account. By simply downloading the app using the MAXIFY printer screen, users can scan their receipts and save them to their Concur expense account all from the MAXIFY screen – no computer needed.”

Being able to send scanned receipts directly to an expense app is a huge productivity enhancer. This is just one of the ways, he says, that Canon products “are streamlining workloads of our small business owners and ultimately supporting their business needs.”

And what about support? Most vendors offer online Help files and email support. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But what about when you’re in a major hurry? Or you’ve tried to figure out the solution from Help pages, but so far no luck? That’s when live support from people by phone is what you need. And sometimes, with hardware products, you may need fast service on the hardware.

Duffett says Canon’s research shows service is very important to small business owners. He adds, “The Canon MAXIFY lineup specifically has a dedicated line for small business owners to call that will route them directly to a team that can support their needs. For a business owner on a deadline — this is the type of make or break support that our brand provides. The customer support team responds with rapid speed to business owners, who will never be re-routed or speak with someone who is not an expert on the product.”

As an extension of its service and support function, Canon is giving small business owners and entrepreneurs direct access to first-hand insights and advice from self-made successes in preparation for Small Business Saturday. On Nov. 14, New York Times bestseller and small business guru Carol Roth will sit down with mother-daughter cofounders of the Shark Tank success, Wicked Good Cupcakes live on Facebook from Canon USA HQ.

As technology continues to evolve at lightspeed and get smarter, your business has the potential to become more efficient and move with more speed toward capturing opportunities. And with smart technology already here today, your people can be freed up to do higher level tasks that add even more value to your business.

Sounds like a winning formula to me.

Office Tech Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Office of the Future: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!” was first published on Small Business Trends