Friday, February 28, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Write an Engaging Blog Post

top 10 ways to write engaging blog post

Top 10 ways to write an engaging blog post

Reader engagement is very important. It is a measure of effective writing.

You can’t say your blog is successful if readers don’t like it. Posts that have zero comment, like, or share are worthless. People don’t think they’re relevant, useful, or even remotely entertaining.

That would also mean you’ve wasted all the time and energy writing the post.

So how do you write an engaging blog post?

Here are 10 very easy and useful tips.

1. Write like you’re talking to just one person

Readers are most likely to stay focused on something they feel is written specifically for them. It creates exclusivity. It will make them feel special.

Wouldn’t you? If someone you follow on Twitter or Facebook sends you a private message and shares something, wouldn’t it make you go crazy? That’s what happens when you ensure your posts are speaking directly to one person in particular.

How do you do it? Write as if you’re talking to a friend. Use words that you’d normally use in everyday conversations. Don’t try to sound smart and use terms that you can’t immediately define. Be natural. Be simple and brief.

2. Strive for a word count that’s less than 600

I think of blogs as newspapers. That’s because there are so many of them and people now rely on them for news and information about everything.

The thing is many blog readers are very busy and they barely have time to go through posts that run 1000 words. Or they could be subscribed to other blogs and they only have a limited time to check each one.

They are always in a hurry. Most read blogs they way they read newspapers: they check the headlines, read only the lead paragraph, and scan the rest of the article.

Keep your posts as short as possible. Brevity is an important quality of an engaging blog post. Use as few words as possible. You should be able to say what you want right away.

The only time you can go over 600 words is when you’ve got a lot of info to share.

3. Know who you’re writing for

A knowledge on who your market is will be extremely helpful in producing an engaging blog post. That’s because you will know what words, style, and tone to use. You can also use the right references to pop culture. You’ll know which issues appeal to them the most. You will know when they’re most likely to react and respond to your post.

You’ll be able to predict their behavior.

4. Use bullets and lists

Bullets and lists are great because they make information easily digestible. These are very useful when you’ have a lot of things to share. Plus, they make your post easier to go through.

5. Use statistics to scare the hell out of your readers

Statistics are awesome because they add credibility to your post. And these also pushes readers to take action. Imagine seeing this headline:

“98% of Bloggers Will Lose Income Because Of This One Common Mistake”

Of course you need to do research. You don’t want to mislead your readers, do you?

6. Make them realize how much pain they are feeling right now…

Pain is a great motivator. People who are in a difficult situation are easier to convince to buy something. That has worked for many marketers and it’s something you can use to your advantage as a blogger.

Find out what “hurts” your audience and write about that.

7. Don’t sound like everybody else

These days, anyone can claim to be an expert on something. The thing is, what they say is simply rehashed or taken from another blog. It’s alright to write about the same topic but make sure that you sound different. Be a louder and more interesting voice in a crowd full of people.

How do you do that? Research is one. Then hone your style and voice. Write differently. Make sure that you have a different but interesting and logical take on some issues. Provide useful information.

8. Tell your story

One of the simplest and most effective way to get people to listen is to tell your story. It’s innate in human beings to be curious about other people’s stories. That’s basically the reason stories about biblical characters and historical figures exist today. We love to hear about stories.

Do that and you can create an engaging blog post. Just make sure that it’s relevant and your readers can get something out of it.

9. Sleep on it

Your post will look a lot different several hours from now. You’ll be able to spot typos and words and sentences that need tweaking. To refine your work, sleep on it. Or simply take your focus elsewhere.

10. Spend at least one day to come up with the perfect headline

It’s tough to come up with the perfect headline. It takes a lot of skill and practice. That’s why many writers spend so much time to write a good headline. Want to learn tricks on writing effective headlines? Here’s one tool that you can use.

There you go, the top 10 ways to write an engaging blog post.

Try these the next time you blog and see the difference in your audience’s response to your post. Feel free to share more in the comments section below.

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The post Top 10 Ways to Write an Engaging Blog Post appeared first on Blogging Tips.

Source: Blogging Tips

Top 10 Ways to Write an Engaging Blog Post

3 Steps to Improve Your Strategic Leadership Skills

3 Steps to Improve Your Strategic Leadership Skills image 99ef2775 8ad7 4d2f 98d7 82a3c291ce767

Arguably, the two key leadership abilities are deciding on what the right thing to do is and getting others on board. This requires timely and effective decision making skills and setting a vision for others. To truly excel at these, leaders need to have a global perspective and a strategic view.

Step 1: Know Your Business

To avoid over-relying on your technical, functional, or professional expertise, hone an interest in the general business as a whole. Develop a thirst for learning the external and internal business environment and keeping perspective on what truly matters. This is the prerequisite for a strategic perspective—your homework—so to speak.

Take time to understand:

  • How your company makes money

  • Your competitive advantage—what attracts your customers

  • Where your industry is headed

  • Your organization’s strategic plan and priorities

Talk to your customers and your key production groups to understand what is in their heads. Think about how the different pieces of your organization integrate and collaborate. Keep track of what you don’t know and the questions you have, and work to find answers. (Then, document and share the information with others.)

Step 2: Improve Your Decision-Making

Once you have the knowledge, you must apply it appropriately. Good decision-making is based on a combination of analysis, experience, wisdom, and judgment. There is also a timeliness factor: finding the right balance of giving it enough thought, but not overanalyzing… and being responsive, but not hasty.

Be aware of some common biases, errors, stereotypes, and assumptions that can affect the quality of your decisions. For example:

  • Similar-to-me effect (favoring those who look, act, think like you)

  • Confirmation bias (remembering only the facts that support your viewpoint)

  • Halo effect (allowing one very positive or negative item to overshadow your opinion)

  • Hindsight bias (wrongly perceiving past events as predictable, “I knew it!”)

  • And many more

Step 3: Inspire Others

The final step is the leadership piece. If you stop at knowledge and good decisions, it only makes you an effective individual contributor. To lead, you must encourage the same in others.

Getting others on board is as simple as clearly communicating the vision and mission and doing some simple change management.

Highlights of effective inspirational communication:

  • Creating an aspirational vision, even though the future may be unknown

  • Optimistic, with a focus on possibilities

  • Passionate so that it energizes others

  • Simple and clear, so it can be recalled and restated easily

Source: B2C_Business

3 Steps to Improve Your Strategic Leadership Skills

Top 4 Best Google Analytics Dashboards

Top 4 Best Google Analytics Dashboards image Facts GA Dashboard

Google Analytics is a powerful marketing tool for business managers to track the performance of their online marketing activities. What makes Google Analytics even more valuable for business managers is the customization feature it provides for creating custom dashboards according to the needs of the users. You can decide which metrics you want to be displayed on these dashboards for convenient accessibility.

Here are four of the best Google Analytics Dashboards designed to provide businesses with maximum value:

#1) 70 Facts about Visitors

Dashboard Junkie’s made this amazing dashboard. I absolutely love it!

Image Credit = Dashboard Junkie

For those who want to understand who the people visiting their website are, this simple analytical dashboard is very useful. Even if you are new to using Google Analytics, this dashboard is really easy to understand and operate.

The types of data you can get from this dashboard include:

  • Unique Visitors

  • Country Name

  • Cities

  • What the language preferences of your visitors are.

These are just some of the metrics that this dashboard offers. As the name suggests, you can learn 70 helpful facts about your audience.

Download the 70 Facts about Visitors profile

#2) Social Media Dashboard

If social media platforms are a part of your marketing campaign, this analytic’s profile can be extremely helpful for you.

Top 4 Best Google Analytics Dashboards image Social Media Dashboard

Created by the world renowned Justin Cutroni. Using this dashboard, you can learn about your site’s traffic via social media.

The data you can collect from this dashboard includes:

  • New Visitor Acquisition

  • Value of Social Engaged

  • Revenue

  • Per Visit Value by social network

  • Most socially shared content

In addition, a lot of other valuable metrics are included in this dashboard to track social media activities of your business.

Download the Social Media Dashboard

#3) Small Business Dashboard

This dashboard gives small businesses easy access to all the valuable statistics they need to monitor regularly. All these stats are presented in a glance in real time, providing clear facts to managers about their businesses.

Top 4 Best Google Analytics Dashboards image Small Business Dashboard

Google is responsible for this dashboard and did a great job.

The metrics displayed on this dashboard include:

  • Total number of visits

  • Average page load time

  • Number of mobile visitors

  • Revenue

  • Visits tracked back to the sources.

As a small business manager, this information can tell you a lot about the performance of your site in a convenient way.

Download the Small Business Dashboard

#4) Ecommerce Dashboard

If you have an online store, an Ecommerce dashboard is essential for you. This dashboard is simple yet extremely comprehensive, providing a wide array of information.

This includes data like:

  • revenues

  • sales

  • top referrers

  • page views

  • top non-branded keywords

As an ecommerce site, data is the most important thing you need in order to improve the performance of your site and consequently the performance of your business.

Download the Ecommerce Dashboard

If you are looking for an analytical tool that has everything in it, Google Analytics is what you are looking for.

Source: B2C_Business

Top 4 Best Google Analytics Dashboards

Top News: A Study Says 98 Percent of Mobile Malware Targets Android

reading a tablet

Small business owners need information to stay competitive. But following the latest updates even in your industry can be tough with everything else on your plate.

The Small Business Trends editorial team wraps it all up and puts it in one place for your benefit.


Your Android phone could be a target. A report from Kaspersky Labs says 98 percent of mobile malware now targets the Android operating system. It’s not too surprising given Android’s popularity, but how safe is your mobile technology now?

Huawei launches five new devices. The China-based company is now targeting the U.S. market. And with their low price, they might appeal to budget conscious small business owners. Here’s an overview of the five latest devices and a look at when U.S. business owners might be able to get a hold of some.

Welcome to the future of business cards. TouchBase Technologies imagines a business card with conductive ink. Tap the card on a contact’s smartphone and your information is instantly transferred.


It’s crowdsourcing on your own domain. Sure, Indigogo and Kickstarter give you the ability to quickly and easily raise funds for your startup. But CrowdtiltOpen offers something more — a chance to add your own branding.

Grand St. could be a new place for tech hardware startups. If your new small business isn’t a website but instead a “leather organizer that can charge your smartphone” or an “iOS enabled guitar,” you may want to try this. You can sell consumer ready, beta test a new product or take preorders.

Microsoft OneDrive is finally here. And it turns out it’s much more than just a name change. The newly branded Microsoft cloud storage service has a few new surprises for users. Lets have a look at what you get with your OneDrive account.

This Chrome feature will warn you of malware. Too bad some feel it may already look a bit like a malware trick. A box appears on your screen when Chrome detects a change in your settings. But some users say this is exactly the kind of thing Google tells people to look out for.

Social Media

LinkedIn will soon open its publishing platform. Last week the social network for professionals announced a new publishing option had been opened to about 25,000 members. And many more will be given access soon, the company says. Posts you create will appear in your LinkedIn profile, but could eventually have much greater influence.

Social media customer care. Businesses of all sizes are taking social media more seriously. Nowhere is this more clear than in the expansion of companies like Brand Embassy. Social media monitoring comes in all shapes and sizes. But this is one of the latest.

This service is for social media management. Socialbakers has raised $26 million to further improve its offerings. But so far components include analytics, management of social channels, social media listening and more. There are also a number of resources and social media marketing reports for various countries.

This Pinterest marketing tool listens to your brand. Discover, from Pinterest analytics and social marketing company Tailwind, has some features that could give insight. They include monitoring the number of followers, repins, likes and comments.

This report says Facebook ads encourage “fake” clicks. The idea is that users paid to add “likes” to specific accounts with a fake profile also “like” other accounts too to disguise their activities. The easiest of these to find would be accounts that show up in Facebook ads.


U.S. House passes important smartphone bill. The proposed legislation would allow you to “unlock” your smartphone once your contract expires. The bill must still be passed in the Senate and could face further amendment. But some say the ban on “bulk unlocking” remains business unfriendly.

This program funds exporters. Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship believe the State Trade and Export Promotion Program is a necessity. The pilot program gave grants to small businesses seeking global markets and some want it renewed.

More funds for Score are possible. If U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) has his way, SCORE could receive $10.5 million by 2015. The organization offers free mentoring to small businesses from an estimated 11,000 volunteers.


3D Printshow gives glimpse of business uses. There seems to be a lot of excitement over 3D printing these days and the implications for small business and entrepreneurship seem clear. This event gives an even broader perspective of possible business uses for the technology.

Advice & Resources

Entrepreneurs are optimistic people. Now there’s data to back that up. Despite all the complaints about the economy, a recent survey shows entrepreneurs remain pretty positive. Small Business Trends Publisher Anita Campbell reports.

Plan for the worst. It could take you 1000 days to see your income rise again after starting a new business. It may not be the kind of uplifting talk you expect from entrepreneurs, but it is a realistic expectation. If you plan to quit your job to start a business, say goodbye to that steady paycheck for a while.


How to automate the hiring of new staff. This article gives you a walk-through of software designed to automate the hiring process. You can maintain a career portal where perspective employees can apply. You can also keep track of those applications once received.

Reading Photo via Shutterstock

The post Top News: A Study Says 98 Percent of Mobile Malware Targets Android appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Top News: A Study Says 98 Percent of Mobile Malware Targets Android

Organizational Mindfulness: How Contemplative Practice Can Enhance Your Business

Organizational Mindfulness: How Contemplative Practice Can Enhance Your Business image org mindfulness

There’s a new trend taking root among organization and business leaders today: mindfulness. A kind of contemplative practice with deep roots in Eastern religious traditions and that is closely tied to activities like meditation and yoga, mindfulness is taught in business schools, and has been embraced by some of the largest and most influential companies, including Google.

What exactly is mindfulness, and how can practicing it benefit your business or organization? Redefined by psychologists for use by Western audiences, mindfulness is understood as “being both aware of one’s thoughts and feelings and non-judgmentally accepting of them,” and this deceptively simple concept has the potential to invigorate your organization and change the tenor of your business for the better.

Modernity, Meet Mindfulness

Today’s fast-paced work environment seems inherently unsuited to exercising mindfulness. In fact, modernity has made us all less mindful. In response, bringing mindfulness to the modern office can yield an array of positive results, such as:

  • Lower levels of stress

  • Greater productivity

  • Higher rates of job satisfaction

  • Improved employee health

  • “An increased sense of purpose and… fewer feelings of isolation and alienation”

Not Naturally Mindful?

For those who are not naturally mindful, however, accomplishing this state of awareness and non-judgment can be significantly more difficult than it sounds, particularly in business environments where we can become steeped in the need to constantly judge and evaluate what comes before us.

To fully engage in mindfulness, we need to separate ourselves from that culture of judgment and slow down, observing and describing thoughts and feelings and then letting them go rather than harping upon particular aspects. This is sometimes referred to as having a “Teflon mind.”

The Making of a Mindful Organization

If mindfulness is an internal, meditative process, how can an organization be mindful? After all, there is not an organizational hive mind that each employee can tap into, sharing a single set of thoughts and perceptions. No, for an organization to be mindful, mindfulness activities must be included as part of a shared company ethos. Organizational mindfulness is often best encapsulated by the idea that teams of employees can easily come together around any project, working harmoniously. Companies that make mindfulness a priority are strong problem solvers, open to new ideas, and actively aiming to improve on unsuccessful concepts without being bogged down by the negative associations with a failed undertaking.

Another critical characteristic of mindful organizations is a refusal to accept oversimplified answers. These companies recognize that there are often complex interactions at work in business issues, including situations that may be ambiguous or for which there might be a lot of associated data to be interpreted.

Through mindfulness, employees and team leaders alike become better at taking in all of the associated information and synthesizing it, and they are less likely to get discouraged when an answer doesn’t immediately present itself. When struggling, mindful organizations are more willing to engage an expert opinion from outside the company.

The most important characteristic of mindful organizations is that they are resilient. Resilience stems from confidence and forward thinking. Mindful leaders can help to foster this characteristic by encouraging and motivating other team members. Resilient employees are the ones that keep moving forward even in the face of adversity. Mindfulness helps these teams not to judge or be intimidated by the challenges before them, while also actively considering what parts of their failures can help them devise an improved strategy for their next attempt at a problem.

Organizational Mindfulness: How Contemplative Practice Can Enhance Your Business image business mindfulness

Slowing Down To Move Faster

One of the most common questions posed to mindfulness leaders is this: will mindfulness make my company more productive? Experts can only provide an equivocal answer: yes and no. Part of mindfulness tends to be an intentional slowing down of individuals, at least for short periods of time, which one would think might result in less productivity. At the same time, mindfulness tends to improve mental processing and problem solving, so in that respect it may increase productivity. In order to speed up, sometimes it is necessary to first slow down.

Ultimately, experts agree that productivity is not the end goal of mindfulness, but it is a common consequence. Mindfulness may not result in more answers to business problems, but increased creativity can produce more answers, and better resilience makes employees and leaders alike more willing to keep working on a problem.

Simple Mindfulness Practices for Your Business

You may not be ready for an all office yoga session, but there are many simple mindfulness activities that can help focus and attune employees.

  • Try to be “one-mindful.” This kind of mindfulness focuses on doing one thing at a time and giving your attention fully to each task. Thus, when talking to a coworker, give them your full attention, rather than thinking about the work that is back on your desk. This kind of active presence improves connectedness and helps with information processing.

  • Try beginning your next meeting by asking everyone to engage in a breathing exercise, such as inhaling and exhaling slowly while being mindful of the rise and fall of their stomach. Place one hand on the stomach and one on the chest. If you are breathing in a relaxed way, your stomach will rise, rather than your chest.

  • Other possible ways to breathe mindfully include counting the breaths or paying attention to the sensation of the breath filling the lungs as you inhale.

  • Include a type of closure after mindfulness activities. This can mean ringing a bell, reading a short affirmation, or simply asking everyone to slowly open their eyes as they feel comfortable and ready to begin working.

With everything moving in fast forward, mindfulness is a great way to counter the pace of modern life. Try committing your organization to mindfulness practice for a week and see how the workplace changes. Do people interact differently? Are they thinking more creatively?

Source: B2C_Business

Organizational Mindfulness: How Contemplative Practice Can Enhance Your Business

Mobile Marketing in 2014: What You Need to Know

Mobile Marketing in 2014: What You Need to Know image 2014 light bulbs

Based on current trends, it is obvious that mobile should be a critical part of your marketing strategy. However, are you using current or dated plays? Today’s mobile market is much more sophisticated than even three or four years ago. Consumers have embraced mobile, and they have grown along with emerging technologies. The mobile market is consistently changing, and keeping up can be complicated. Consumers will not only be researching products on their devices, but they will be making purchases from them, as well. Mobile is the bridge to the physical realm–it has the power to transform your entire business. How you respond and take advantage of the potential opportunities will define the scope of your engagement. Here are some tips you need to leverage for 2014.

Focus on Mobile Video

Video gives your potential clients a better idea of who you are and what your company stands for. It is the supreme when it comes to visualization, and it provides a stronger impact than text on a page. The good news is costs continue to fall when it comes to mobile video. In addition, your message needs to stand out in 5-second or 10-second mobile spots. Gone are the days of 30-second videos. Today, almost every new laptop comes installed with HD-quality video recording technology. This means, your production costs don’t have to skyrocket beyond your budget. And, with Wi-Fi available in most workplaces, coffee shops and hotels, consumers can connect with you from anywhere.

Make Gamification a Priority

This is where you use gaming principles to encourage specific types of behavior. One of the earliest and most popular versions of gamification are airline loyalty programs. These are used worldwide, and consumers reacted positively to earning mileage points, which could be used for future trips or prizes. Customers want to have their needs addressed, and they appreciate companies that do so. However, you have to engage your customer and get feedback from them. This is where gamification can come in. According to Inc. Magazine, “People are hard-wired to enjoy positive reinforcement. And, well, play is fun.” Some popular ways to incorporate gamification include:

  • Levels

  • Badges

  • Progress Bars

  • Leadership Boards

  • Trophies

  • Quests

  • Virtual Currency

  • Avatars

  • Gifting

Game designer, Jane McGonigal explains, “Foursquare was a really great early example of this happening. Foursquare started this whole trend of making achievements and giving people badges for doing stuff.” Before getting started though, it is imperative to determine your end goals.

Try Narrowcasting

This is also called niche marketing where you disseminate information to a select audience. Studies have found that this can provide a larger return on investment of your marketing dollars. For instance, would it be cost-effective to promote a high-end shoe sale to a broad and unqualified market when only 5 percent of them would be interested? Four Winds Interactive states, “a global marketplace leads to an increasing number of choices that, in turn, create an individualism with more particular and discriminating tastes.” You can purchase ads that target qualified buyers. To illustrate, if your company produces mushroom soup and a consumer is searching for chicken recipes, it’s possible that they may soon become intrigued by mushroom soup. Not surprisingly is the fact that everyone needs and wants shoes, but tastes differ. While one individual may want the latest 4-inch stiletto, another may want a comfortable walking shoe with a long shelf life. It wouldn’t make sense to market a stiletto to the person who wants a walking shoe and vice-versa. When it comes to competition, the marketers who understand what consumers want will come out ahead.

Target Consumers by Location

It is all about breaking down segments. Geo-targeting qualifies consumers by purchase habits and location. With this method, consumers are less likely to ignore your ads. Moreover, it is augmented through GPS technology. Messages can be based upon a consumers’ proximity to restaurants, cafes, events and retailers. Apps, such as Apple’ iBeacon, give you the ability to find out if a customer is in one of your stores. If so, you can send them messages such as products on sale, or where to find a specific item they have searched for.

Look to Big Data

Effectively harnessing the mix of structured and unstructured data is critical to your mobile marketing strategies. Over the last couple of years, we have seen improvements to the queries and reporting structures offered by big data. This year, it is all about implementing real-time analytics and real-time computation platforms in order to improve and enhance response time. The data can be used strategically for product placement, marketing announcements and tailoring advertising more efficiently. Transactional data, machine data, social data and enterprise content are all significant to your marketing efforts.

Give Mobile Real Time Bidding a Shot

In 2013, RTB exploded. This is where digital advertising displays are auctioned in real time. Down to the millisecond, you can bid on the right to have your ad appear when a user downloads an app or visits a specific site. This means you can reach your target market when and how you want to. When Twitter acquired MoPub, company that offers RTB and ad targeting, it was a declaration that this was the space to be in. According to a recent MoPub report, “banner ads overtook interstitial ads for the first time ever.” Here are a few other statistics around RTB:

  • In Q3 of 2013, 10% of impressions were on Apple and Android tablets versus 5% in Q3 of 2012.

  • In Q3 of 2013, Nexage received a 60 percent spend in RTB.

  • Bids received increased 30 percent from August to September of 2013.

Mobile marketing gives you constant access to your consumers, whether you want their feedback, or to give them an update on future sales. You can use it to build trust, incur loyalty and increase your brand’s awareness. Not to mention, all of these things can be done in real time with no delay. The only caveat is you must make use of the latest methods in order to compete. Not to mention, targeting interested parties is much more effective than sending one-size-fits-all messages. Given the latest trends, what mobile marketing tactics will you be utilizing or looking into for 2014?

Source: B2C_Business

Mobile Marketing in 2014: What You Need to Know

Jack Daniel’s Facebook ads rock in Brazil: as low as 0 cents per engagement

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.39.17 PM

The most iconic brand in whiskey, Jack Daniel’s, drives amazing engagement worldwide.

In Brazil, they show different content than they do in the United States.

And it rocks (no pun intended).

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.38.46 PM

There are now 86 million people in Brazil on Facebook — triple what we saw two years ago.

Compare that to 178 million people in the United States on Facebook, who we can target with ads.

We see there are 600,000 folks in Brazil of minimum drinking age that like scotch whiskey or whiskey.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.37.34 PM

Plenty big audience to target.

Normally we’d advise adding a friend of fan connection target to increase social proof and engagement rates.

Yet, the engagement rate is so high that the cost per engagement is showing is barely noticeable.

Part of this is the low CPM, especially when you mix in RHS (Right Hand Side) with News Feed placements.

And using the ever-improved optimized CPM bidding, Facebook does a lot of the work for us.

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Not all engagement is the same.

Comments and shares are worth more than a post like.

And photo views don’t generate stories in the News Feed of friends.

The team at Brown-Forman (parent company of Jack Daniel’s) has placed greater focus on engagement, zeroing in on key audiences.


Luke Elliott – Digital Marketing Manager – Latin America at Brown-Forman

“We’re particularly interested in knowing that the content our fans find interesting can be viewed front-and-center. We enjoy a fantastic fan base, and we work to be sure we are delivering to places where folks are engaging with our brands, both online and offline” says Luke Elliott, of the LatAm Digital Marketing Team.

Certainly you could use optimized CPM and bid for action types, if you wanted.

Lessons for CPG brands

  • Try different photos to see what works best. Time of day matters, too. Showing a picture of the bottle works great for Jack Daniel’s. What works in one country will be different in another. Spanish and Portuguese posts take 30% more characters than to say the same thing in English.

  • Make sure you have a balanced funnel strategy. If you run fan acquisition campaigns, make sure to have engagement campaigns on at the same time to nurture these new fans.

  • Optimized CPM works. Just use it. Facebook’s algorithms are so smart that they will automatically find who is most likely to engage. Only certain direct marketers can get away with CPC bidding.

  • Keep the pilot light on. We advocate an “always on” strategy to have steady, lightweight engagement over time. If you have ads that are all on or all off, likely due to product launches and campaign planning cycles, your social relationships will not be as strong.

Source: Inside Facebook

Jack Daniel’s Facebook ads rock in Brazil: as low as 0 cents per engagement

Government Contracting: How To Do Some Research Before Market Entry

government contracting research

There is nothing worse than attending an event where a speaker will whet your appetite for a new market, then leave you hanging. At many small business conferences around the country, inevitably one of the speakers will bring up doing business with the government, and perhaps they will offer accurate advice, but not always.

There are many myths about doing business with the government, some perpetuated by those seeking to take advantage of novices, others simply out-dated, others still kept alive by those unwilling to understand how the market is changing. Many of those who write or speak are not B2G (business to government) experts and inadvertently include inaccurate information.

The federal government is the largest buyer of goods and services, buying virtually anything used in a business setting and more. They spend hundreds of billions annually. So on the surface, it is an attractive market.

However, there are hundreds of nuances and thousands of regulations, so before you get too excited, let’s do a reality check. Before entering the government contracting arena, a little research is in order. But where to start?

How To Do Government Contracting Research Before Market Entry

The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Does the government buy what I sell?”

While the answer is usually yes, it is best to get a definitive answer. One place to start is the General Services Administration (GSA) website. Once there, look at the “Most Requested Links” and click on the “GSA eLibrary.”

This takes you into the eLibrary, where you can find not only whether or not the government buys what you sell, but who else is selling the same or similar products.

Next, type your query into the search box and then select one of the three options:

  • “all of the words”

  • “any of the words”

  • “exact phrase”

As an example, let’s say you sell office furniture. Type in “office furniture” and select “exact phrase” and click the “enter” key.

The page that comes up matches your phrase. For you, you are interested in the numbers of the left side of the page. These numbers are in red and they are under the word “Source.” Each number represents a GSA Schedule contract. The matches include:

  • Schedule 48 (Transportation, Delivery and Relocation)

  • Schedule 71 (Furniture)

  • Schedule 71 II K (Comprehensive Furniture Management Services)

You are looking for Schedule 71. So mouse over the red “71″ and you will find the full range of products and services the government purchases through Schedule 71, and it is extensive.

After scrolling through, go back to the top of the page and look for the red arrow next to “Download Contractors (Excel).” Click on this and it will take you to the “Download” page where you are then prompted to click the “Download” button.

This will download an Excel file that includes full company contact info, phone, email, company URL, DUNS, business status (various small business categories) and whether or not the company participates in a few state and local government programs.

This file tells you that there are 2,739 companies currently participating on GSA Schedule 71, trying to leverage this contract to sell to Uncle Sam. (I don’t show you this to scare you off, but to let you know that every niche in the federal market is highly competed.)

You’ve now done some government contracting research prior to market entry, and you now know what/who you’re up against. There are ways to enter this market and to win business – but as you can see, you cannot expect it to happen quickly.

Research Photo via Shutterstock

The post Government Contracting: How To Do Some Research Before Market Entry appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Government Contracting: How To Do Some Research Before Market Entry

Are rising Facebook ad prices a cause for concern?


As more and more small businesses and major brands get into the Facebook advertising fold, competition for News Feed and sidebar space is increasing. As competition rises, bids go up and the total cost of advertising on Facebook rises.

For many companies, that’s enough to look elsewhere. Ted Dhanik, President and CEO of online marketing firm Engage:BDR, says that many of the company’s clients have started increasing their spend elsewhere on the web while shifting focus away from Facebook. Engage:BDR’s ad ecosystem encompasses 253 million unique users per month in 25 countries.

While Facebook ads do still deliver solid results, Dhanik told Inside Facebook that the price is starting to get too high for many businesses, who are looking for the most bang for their buck.

Dhanik explained how many advertisers are starting to look away from Facebook:

Typical display buying strategies enable advertisers to reach their users and targeted audience in a couple of different ways: leveraging third-party (sources) like BlueKai, and there are others like direct targeting for content across thousands of sites across the web and all three channels: display, mobile and web. Typically, depending on the audience that advertisers are trying to reach, we have access to the sites where they live and we place granularly targeted buys placement that is compression curve specific, audience specific, stuff like that.

In the first couple of years, when Facebook caught on fire, a lot of budgets shifted to Facebook and so the price for display and mobile advertising came down quite a bit, and it has come down because saturation isn’t as great as it was before.

As an example, Engage:BDR notes that a retail fashion client ran a test with the company to test their ROI on Facebook vs. other online venues. The CPA goal was $50 per new customer, since their Facebook advertising CPA was reaching $60 and climbing. Utilizing proprietary online and offline data, Engage:BDR did some A/B testing to single users with gender-specific creative, directing them to appropriate landing pages.

For display advertising, the client was able to lower its eCPA by 50 percent and increase ROI by 200 percent. Because of these results, the client shifted 40 percent of its Facebook ad budget to display advertising for the rest of 2014.

Dhanik explained what many advertisers are thinking when they compare Facebook to other methods of advertising:

When people are looking for external forces and looking at incremental channels, they’re doing it because the cost is going up. The cost, meaning not necessarily the cost per click or CPM, but their effective cost of the ROI based on their KPIs. … It’s not necessarily profitable as it was before and now we have to try to find channels that are within the range of what’s acceptable for us to operate profitably. As the price goes up, the competition gets deeper, and engagement is less and conversion rates go down.

Readers: Have you shifted ad budget money from Facebook to somewhere else?

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: Inside Facebook

Are rising Facebook ad prices a cause for concern?

How to Be the Best PR Partner to a Public Relations Agency

How to Be the Best PR Partner to a Public Relations Agency image trans

2014 marks my 20th year working for (and running) public relations agencies. I don’t often share how clients can best collaborate with their PR agencies, but was inspired today, by a client, that once again showed me how the client / agency relationship can be a true team and potentially generate real business results. What can you do to be the best PR partner to your public relations agency? Follow these recommended steps:

  1. Advocate why you’re drinking the cool aid – Yes, you’re knee deep in what you do – more than your agency ever can be. As you’re doing your more than your once daily readings of news, products and trends in your sector, share the information with your agency. Continually push articles to your outsourced PR team that shows how you could be positioned to a reporter, how you’re different than what the reporter covered or how you’ll have a similar solution soon for the reporter to consider writing about. And, these aren’t the only reasons to push articles to your PR agency.

  2. Set goals for your in-person meetings BEFORE you meet – Either establish a goal for your weekly or bi-monthly meetings or make sure that going into any in-person meeting your goals are explicitly established. Encourage the PR agency to do “working” meetings with you and your team, not just report what has or hasn’t happened. They’ve got you focused in a room! Get talking about possible contributed story ideas, pitches, press releases, speaking opportunities, awards programs, and much more, depending upon your objectives, of course!

  3. Overcome obstacles together – Ok, so you don’t have a customer that can speak to your use case, so what? Work with your PR agency to come up with creative ways to get in front of the press. Creative doesn’t mean spam journalists either. Think about where you are today and discuss what you can do together to reach your goal. Your company many not appear in the Wall Street Journal overnight, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to insert yourself into the conversation now to help press understand and value your differentiated point of view.

  4. Identify your goals and plan together – Sit down in-person and discuss what you want from your PR agency within 3 months. Ask them to come back to you with a set of goals, strategy and tactics based upon your conversation. Then, refine their presentation. Set yourselves up to be successful, so start conservatively and build. Make sure to convey that you don’t want to hear what you can’t do, but what you may be able to do as a team.

Client / agency relationships don’t exist in a vacuum and vary slightly from one to the next. However, as a unit, the client / agency can discover which stories to tell that will help your business grow.

Source: B2C_Business

How to Be the Best PR Partner to a Public Relations Agency

3 Things You Already Own That Will Make Your Conversions Skyrocket

3 Things You Already Own That Will Make Your Conversions Skyrocket image Venn Diagram6

Think about your website. If you follow current web marketing practices, you probably have a homepage hero image that introduces who you are and your corporate mission, accompanied by a slideshow that gives an overview of each of your products or solutions. However, this one-size fits all experience does not address each visitor’s interests, needs, where they’re located, whether they’ve already downloaded your content, received an email campaign or whether they’ve already visited key pages of your site. In fact, your website, a key research tool used by consumers during their purchase decision process, remains always static – never helping to advance leads through the sales process. It’s pretty easy to see how conversions could suffer.

While marketers excel at providing quality personalized content relevant to each lead via email, the website is a critical piece of the sales process that often goes ignored. And, don’t forget, your website is a REALLY important piece of the consumer buying cycle. In Forrester’s most recent survey of business decision-makers, “68% cited the vendor’s website as an important source of information when researching and evaluating technologies and services to purchase. Only 64% said the vendor’s salesperson was important.”

So what’s a marketer to do to increase conversions and improve the visitor experience with your brand? It’s a lot easier than you think, plus you already own the assets you need to succeed:

1. Consumer Data

Your web analytics system of choice already aggregates performance analytics. It’s really easy to connect that behavioral insight to your website to better understand how visitors use your website – the content and the engagement path that drives them to convert. We call this “adding intelligence to your website.” It is this customer intelligence that enables you to create a smarter website that dynamically serves content based on the visitor’s digital body language.

Each day you wait to connect performance data to your website is a day of behavioral data lost! So setting up tracking should be priority one regardless of whether or not you are ready to serve personalized content experiences based on that data.

2. Content

A common concern of marketers when they start thinking about conversion optimization and website personalization is content. If your first thought is, “I don’t have enough content or the resources to make new content,” STOP! Step one is removing the one-size-fits all experience to get your top performing existing content in front of the right person, rather than having them self-navigate through your content. Let’s face it, chances are, they won’t do it. All it takes is a little audience segmentation and content reorganization.

3. Website

One you align content with the different audience segments visiting your website by analyzing consumer behavioral patterns, the last step is to put personalization into action on your website, serving the right content to the right person at the right time. While these changes to your website may seem small, a relevant content experience delivered right upon visitor entrance returns not only massive improvements to conversion rates, but decreases bounce rate, increases pages per visit and increases average visit duration. And it makes sense. Studies show that on average, your website has less than 10 seconds to engage a visitor before they bounce. Make them count!

If you’re ready to put your data, content and website to work to improve web conversions and all other web performance metrics, we’d love to help you get started in the right direction! Drop us a note here!

Source: B2C_Business

3 Things You Already Own That Will Make Your Conversions Skyrocket

How to Write Damn Good Sentences

Well look at that.

Can you believe this is already the fourth installment in our 11-part series on the essential ingredients of a blog post?

Time sure does fly when you’re having pure podcasting fun … and churning out a new bite-sized episode each week.

We’ve already explained how to write a magnetic headline, discussed how to nail your opening, and (hopefully) convinced you about the importance of using persuasive words.

Today, we take it one step further.

Demian Farnworth imparts his vast wisdom to teach you what makes a good sentence a damn good sentence.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The importance of showing versus telling

  • Why you should trust your reader

  • How thinking about the 5 W’s (and the H) can help you write sentences

  • Active versus passive voice

  • Why reading Hemingway is one of the best lessons in sentence writing you could ever give yourself

  • Tips to improve your writing that you can implement today

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Click here to read the transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: How to Write Damn Good Sentences

Jerod Morris: You’re listening to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. If you want to get a content marketing education while you mow your lawn or while you fold your laundry, this podcast is the way to do it.

I’m your host Jerod Morris, and in this episode we resume our series on the essential ingredients of a blog post. You are going to learn about sentences, but not average or okay sentences … damn good sentences. And who better than the Duke of Damn himself, Demian Farnworth, to explain how.

Demian, I like alliteration and I like giving credit where it is due, and so I have a new nickname for you: The Duke of Damn. It’s one that you have earned with damn fine blog posts about how to write damn good copy, how to write damn bad copy, and of course, how to write damn good sentences — which is the fourth in our rundown of the 11 essential ingredients of a blog post. You are a master at the art of the sentence, which is why I want to do a lot more listening than talking on this episode.

So let’s start with the obvious question: What is the difference between a good sentence and a damn good sentence?

Showing versus telling

Demian Farnworth: It boils down to this: the difference between showing and telling.

A good sentence would tell you what’s going on in a particular action. So I might say, “She is crying,” versus something like “She sobbed,” or “She was trembling.” It’s simply the quality of — you have a concrete, specific image versus a sort of vague, ambiguous instruction. See, what you’re after is this goal of allowing people to use their imagination, and I think it comes down to this idea of being able to trust your reader, to trust them to use their imagination. And they will. I think there’s some confidence that comes in enjoying, embracing that idea that people are going to. If you say, “She wept,” that’s going to be more powerful than “She was over there and her eyes were wet with tears.” It’s a lot more powerful when it’s short and sweet, and it’s powerful like that.

But it’s not easy, right? I’ll admit that. It takes years of practice, but what you’re thinking about when you’re trying to show somebody, what you’re after, is being specific and concrete. And one way that I use to get to that point is to think through the five W’s. So you’re thinking of the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and even the H, the how.

For example, you want to write a damn good sentence, so you would say, “In Istanbul, the bullfighter liked to drink vinegar because it made him angry.” So you’ve got a pretty specific, concrete idea that would allow you to get a vivid picture of what’s going on in that … there’s life to that … and there’s imagination. I know that just by saying the word “Istanbul” that people will get in their minds a sort of exotic, far-away, ancient city. There’s a lot of stuff that’s sort of swirling around, and that’s really the power of choosing the right words, choosing those powerful words, using those words that generate and paint that picture.

For the next part, in getting to that point of writing a damn good sentence, is this idea of creating images, and I kind of already did that. But here I want to talk more about something like this idea of the five senses. That’s what I kind of did in that previous sentence. But if you want to paint an image, you want to think through the five senses, also. So for example, that same sentence, I talked about, what is the weather like there? Is it hot? Is it cold? I imagine it’s probably hot there, so we might add some sort of elements of humidity, like “The air was humid, was moist, was thick with water.” We might talk about something like, what time of day is it? And what color is the sun? Is it golden, or is it more orange or red? And you might think of an odor, like vinegar. I said “vinegar” and a lot of people probably turned up their nose at that. So there was that sense of smell and odor going there. And so you’re thinking….

Jerod: Let me ask you a question really quickly, Damien, because I know a lot of times we talk about specific and concrete, and sometimes that can be boiled down to mean “short,” because we talk a lot about short sentences.

Demian: Yes.

Jerod: How do you determine what is a detail worth giving, an image worth painting, and what is too much?

Demian: That’s a great question. I think it’s a gut thing, really, because obviously you can’t think through every sentence and put in the five senses, because then it would just become too much. It would be almost impossible for you to get anything done. It would also be overbearing for the reader himself, so you have to be selective. And it just takes time to kind of catch an ear.

Like, you may in one sentence just want to highlight some sort of color. Like the sight. And the next sentence, you want to heighten something about the texture and the smell. In the next sentence you may want to simply talk about the taste, or a sound they heard. And a good writer would combine those with action, right? With some sort of action. So instead of “He ran up the stairs,” say “He darted up the rough-hewn stairs.”

You want to combine all those pieces together, being specific, using active verbs versus passive verbs. And make sure you mesh those together, and sprinkle them throughout your senses when you’re hitting these sort of concrete and specific images.

Active versus passive voice

Jerod: Can I add a quick note on active versus passive verbs?

Demian: Yes.

Jerod: So you’re right, you want to make your verbs active, not passive. And if you actually want a good example, look no further than this very podcast, because last week I received an e-mail with the subject line simply, “Passive voice.” And it said, quoting one of our episodes, “Change ‘next week Demian and I will be resuming our series of the eleven essential ingredients of a blog post, we’ll be discussing persuasive words and you won’t want to miss it,’ change that to ‘next week Demian and I resume our series on the eleven essential ingredients of a blog post. We’ll discuss persuasive words, and you won’t want to miss it.’” The difference, of course, is the verbs. “Will be resuming” gets replaced with “Resume,” and “will be discussing” gets replaced with “we’ll discuss.” It makes those verbs active, right? You hear how much better that sounds, and it reads better too, because the subject of the sentence becomes the doer, and the verbs are invigorated.

And I’ll give you one guess who sent me that much-appreciated, clear, concise, reminder about how to write better sentences. (Laughs)

Demian: (Laughs)

Jerod: So….

Demian: Yeah.

Jerod: So yes, be active with your sentences, not passive, and it’s something I try my best to do that all the time, and it even slips in like that and you don’t even realize it. It’s definitely something upon an edit you can go back, because that’s one way to eliminate some of those unnecessary words so you can put in some of the ones that paint the picture, that make your sentences so much better.

The best sentence-writing teacher you can read

Demian: Right. And so, being an Ernest Hemingway fan — and working for Copyblogger, you sort of have to be — I read a ton of him probably 10, 15 years ago. And the thing that I walked away with was the simple sentence structure. It’s a subject, and then a verb.

And when we talk about active versus passive verbs, you’re talking about instead of having an action done to something, someone is doing an action. So where it would say, “The dog was kicked by that man,” it would be just a simple inversion: “The man kicked the dog.” So yeah, talking about Ernest Hemmingway, I just remember reading it, such a simple sentence structure. Basically it was just subject and verb.

And I think that as far as we’re talking about, like ways to become better at this, is practicing writing that way. Simple sentence structure. Subject, verb.

Jerod: Mmm-hmm. That’s a good point, and let’s go to that, in terms of practice, and this can probably be a tip that we leave everybody with.

You know, as we prepped for this I was reading something — and I’m going to put this in the show notes. There’s a podcast, an NPR podcast with Stanley Fish, the author of “How to Write a Sentence.” And he recounts in his book, actually, a story from Annie Dillard’s book “The Writing Life” where she had a conversation with a painter — asked him how he got into the profession. And he told her, “I like paint.” And of course, as Fish explains, you have to really have a feel for the nitty-gritty material of the medium, and so as a writer there’s nothing more nitty-gritty than words and sentences.

Demian: That’s right.

Tips to improve your sentence writing

Jerod: And so Demian, what would you say is a tip or two that people can take away from this that will make them better at just that simple, nitty-gritty art of writing sentences?

Demian: I would definitely encourage anybody, whether they can stomach his stories or not, to read as much Hemingway as you can.

Outside of that, one of the ways that I kind of mastered the ability to do this, at least get really trained highly in it, was early in my career I wrote a ton of text ads — Google AdWords text ads. So I was forced to compress those words into a meaningful, persuasive message in a short space. So that really forced me to write small. But you don’t have to do text ads like that.

You could also treat your Twitter account this way, and just give yourself the task of, say, writing 100 Twitter posts a day for seven days, and in each one you just try to, within 140 characters, tell a story. Make a message. Use one of the five senses. Dig into the five “whos.”

Another trick you can do is try to condense an event, like a historical event like the Civil War, into one sentence. Sometimes I will go read the front page of Wikipedia or the front page of The New York Times. Read a few of those stories, and then try to tell that story within one sentence.

And finally after every article or blog post that you actually read, try to summarize that particular article or blog post in one sentence. That will give you practice. Not only will it help you remember what you just read and sort of process what you just read, but it will also force you to write those sentences, saying a lot into one sentence. That’s really what it boils down to: just trying to stuff a lot into a small space, as much space as you can with the sentence.

And here’s the thing to keep in mind, too: you’re not going to do this with every single sentence. I don’t sit there and agonize over every single sentence. It’s pretty much kind of native to me now, and I do dozens of rewrites of stuff that I write where I’m working systematically through each word. But I don’t give the same amount of attention over each sentence. I just try to, for the most part, kind of work that into the sort of warp and woof of what I’m writing.

Jerod: Yeah, and if you want to see a great example of what Demian was talking about with Twitter and summing up a story in one sentence, follow Robert Bruce on Twitter and Google Plus.He does a great job of showing that.

All right, Demian. Thank you very much.

Demian: Thank you.

Jerod: I thought you did a damn good job today.

Demian: (Laughs) Thank you, Jerod. I appreciate it. Lived up to my name.

Jerod: (Laughs) We’ll talk soon.

Demian: All right. Thank you, sir.

Jerod: Thank you for listening to The Lede. If you are enjoying our show, please consider leaving us a rating or a review on ITunes, or tweet about us, or tell a friend. We appreciate your helping us spread the word any way you can.

The next installment of our series on the essential ingredients of a blog post will be about killer bullet points. Now you may not think bullet points are a topic with enough meat to demand their own episode, but you’d be wrong. Listen and you’ll see. Talk to you soon, everybody.

# # #

*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.

About the author

Jerod Morris

Jerod Morris is the Director of Content for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter, , or at

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Source: Copyblogger

How to Write Damn Good Sentences

Guide To Making Passive Income

Free eBook!

How do you earn passive income?

I’m sure you must have read several blogs showing you the various steps to take. However, this post is quite different and simple.

It’s a brief guide because I believe 2014 is all about “action.” Make it a duty to simplify your business. The way to move forward in blogging is to build systems that can generate consistent income for you even when you’re asleep.

I can’t promise you passive income without the initial hard work. On the contrary, you’ve to work hard today so that you can earn tomorrow. And the efforts will be worth it if you stay focused.

Stop looking for shiny opportunities to make money online. What you need is right within reach. One of the mistakes I see a lot of bloggers make is…

Doing so much at once

Yes. That is it!

Of course you could break even if you know how to prioritize your tasks. But it’s a lot easier if you focus on one task at a time. Channel all your efforts into it. Learn all you can. Make friends in that “ONE” thing and learn to become an expert therein.

Now back to passive income. Let’s assume you want to earn recurring income from affiliate marketing. It’s obvious that you’ll promote web hosting service, email autoresponder services, membership sites, secured coaching courses or software and so forth.

There are thousands of recurring products which can help you earn passive income. You may have to work extra hard at the beginning. Put in more hours and help your target audience/readers to understand what the product is, and learn how to use it.

Teaching sells recurring products

Did you know that if you create short video courses, showing people how to use email autoresponder to build their online business or get more traffic that your conversion rate would go up?

It’s a proven fact that teaching sells. Don’t just write article and ask your readers to check out an affiliate offer. The majority of them would perceive or assume you’re after the money – which is TRUE!

What you should do instead is teach. Teach people how to use the affiliate product. Most people who want to start their own online business are worried about wordpress installation. They don’t even know which web hosting service is good for them. That’s an opportunity for you to make passive money.

As a blogger, quit assuming that every blogger out there is knowledgeable enough when it comes to autoresponder, wordpress, web hosting etc. It’s your job to help them.

If you can’t create short tutorial videos, then write step by step guides every now and then and use screenshots to explain how to achieve a particular goal.

Yes, you can recommend your affiliate link because it’s necessary after you’ve rendered a help. This is called business!

There you go…

When it comes to passive income, you don’t need thousands of subscribers or visitors to earn $500, $1000+ monthly.

What you need is the right audience coupled with your quest to help them succeed. So, if a web hosting service pays out $30 per referral, you only need 40 people to earn at least $1000 every single month, with no extra effort on your part.

Are you taking any definite action this 2014 in order to start earning passive income? I need you to share your honest comment below. See you at the top!

Source: John Chow Dot Com

Guide To Making Passive Income

Steven Aldrich of GoDaddy: 50% of SMBs Still Working in the Stone Age

small businesses not using technology

According to a newly released GoDaddy survey, even with all of the affordable and easy to use apps available today, there is a large number of small businesses out there that just haven’t made the leap to the cloud.

Steven Aldrich, SVP of Applications at GoDaddy, joins us to share and discuss some of the findings from the study, including what working in the Stone Age is costing small businesses that are slow to step away from the pad and pencil.

* * * * *

Small Business Trends: Can give us a little bit of your personal background?

Steven Aldrich: I’m an entrepreneur at heart; paper route, summer storage business in college, built lofts for folks with my roommate, started a business and have been CEO of a couple.

I was fortunate enough to become part of GoDaddy as we were transforming the company to help really bring individuals through the process of successfully founding, running and growing their businesses. I’ve been involved in small business my whole life at this stage.

Small Business Trends: Can you talk about the tax survey you just released?

Steven Aldrich: GoDaddy has historically been known as a domain name registrar. Meaning, we help small businesses pick the right name for their business and then use that to build websites, host their website, send email.

The last few years we started to broaden that set of services we’re bringing to small businesses. One of the services we added was online bookkeeping. We wanted to take a pulse of how small businesses today, are thinking about both, keeping records for their business, tax time, given that, that’s a timely topic right now and just hear how businesses are doing on those couple of topics and that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Small Business Trends: Can you give us some of the high level key findings from the survey?

Steven Aldrich: The one that is not surprising, but always surprises if that makes sense, is that small businesses, by and large, are still trying to maintain an understanding of their business by hand.

We found that over 50% of small businesses still track how they’re doing on either a spreadsheet or pencil and paper. When we talked to small business owners and asked them why they said, ‘I know it’s not perfect but I’m able to get by.’

Then when we asked them if they were confident in knowing how they were doing. Almost half of them said, ‘No.’ Then we said, ‘Are you asking an accountant for help?’ Again, half of them said that they never talk to an accountant. Those that do, only half of those talk to their accountant more than once a year.

What we found was that spreadsheets and paper are still the rule, rather than the exception.

Small Business Trends: Wow, I’m seeing here more than half of SMB’s still use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to track expenses?

Steven Aldrich: Yes, and what that means is two things. One, it’s extra work. When we talk to small business owners, they get so excited about finding customers, delighting those customers, having those customers come back and delivering excellent products and services to them. If you’re doing this work by hand, this is one of the least pleasant tasks that small business owners talk about – keeping the books and doing their taxes.

So it gets pushed to the bottom of the stack, and at the end of the day, they collapse into bed. This is the stuff that doesn’t get entered in the spreadsheet or doesn’t get written down in the ledger or in the expense book.

That means the small business owners not as up to date on what’s going on with their business – really come home to roost at tax time. That’s when you need to have your revenue and your expenses ready to roll so that you just pay your fair share of taxes, not too much and not too little.

In the survey, this time a huge percentage of these small business owners, 40%, are taking 6 or more hours and many of them actually said it was taking days to just organize the information for their taxes. One of the things we know that means is the business owners are either not spending time with their customers, not spending time with their family, or not sleeping. None of those three things are good.

Small Business Trends: What’s the difference between those who actually do use an online service versus the small businesses not using technology and still operating like they’re in the Stone Age?

Steven Aldrich: We asked folks that are using the GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping service, ‘How long did it take you and how confident were you in the outcome?’ We found it takes six or more hours, even days, using manual methods or spreadsheets.

But folks using online bookkeeping from GoDaddy took two hours on average. That’s because the data is being collected everyday automatically, behind the scenes from your bank accounts, your credit card accounts, your PayPal or Etsy, your Amazon or Ebay accounts. Your invoices can be sent and payments tracked automatically.

So, you’ve got an ongoing record of how you’re doing and you’ve got it on the desktop, you’ve got it on your mobile device. When it comes time to getting your schedule C ready, which is what small business owners almost all file with their 1040′s, they’re ready and literally they hit the button that says schedule C worksheet. They take a look, make sure any uncategorized stuff gets taken care of at that time, and then they can enter that data into a tax prep program like TurboTax.

Or hand it off to their accountant, which we’ve heard now from lots of folks saves not only the business owner time, but it also saves the business owner money. Because they don’t have to go and pay an accountant to do all the data entry. Which the accountant doesn’t want to do anyway. Right? They want to do the value added stuff.

Small Business Trends: There’s a lot of information coming out of this study. Can you give me one or two things that surprised you in the results?

Steven Aldrich: When you ask the small business owner. ‘How confident are you that you know what your tax situation is going to be for the last year?’ Only 15% said that they knew how much they owed.

That’s a wake up call to the community saying, ‘We’ve got to help small business owners break this Gordian Knot of fear around taxes and not knowing that there’s a better way to stay on top of the business.’

There is the ability now for that small business owner to not only have their cake and eat it too, but also know how they’re doing without having to become an accountant themselves. They can spend their time on their business and we’re delighted to be able to be a part of that at GoDaddy.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about the survey and things that GoDaddy is doing specifically for small businesses?

Steven Aldrich: I’d recommend they go to It’s a really terrific place to find the breadth of things that we do for the small business owner.

We’ve got the ability for people to get a domain, so they can choose a name for their business. Get a website. Get hosted. We’ve got some new services around finding new customers called GetFound. We’ve got the ability to run your business and be more productive with things like Office365 from GoDaddy and invoicing and bookkeeping tools as well.

This interview on small businesses not using technology is part of the One on One interview series with thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above.

The post Steven Aldrich of GoDaddy: 50% of SMBs Still Working in the Stone Age appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Steven Aldrich of GoDaddy: 50% of SMBs Still Working in the Stone Age