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February 5th, 2016

2016_Feb4_Browsers_AWith over 1 billion worldwide users and a market share of over 50%, it is not a stretch to say that Google Chrome is one of the best and most popular browsers available in the market. Its speed far outstrips that of most other browsers. But despite being the fastest web browser, it’s often criticized by users for occasional sluggishness and crashes. Is your Chrome slowing down your PC or browser experience? In this article, we’ll show you how to speed up the performance of your Chrome by using these simple tricks.

Disable extensions

Extensions are basically small programs that you can download from the Chrome Web Store to add more features and functionality to your Chrome. While certain extensions are very useful (like AdBlock and Evernote) if you have too many installed, Chrome’s speed may suffer from processing all of these extensions at once.

Most extensions will show on Chrome’s address bar, and you can quickly uninstall them by right-clicking on the button and selecting “Uninstall”. You can also navigate to the hamburger icon on the toolbar, select “More tools” and then “Extensions”. From there you’ll find a list of extensions that may have been inadvertently installed by a user. Simply uncheck the “Enabled” box for the ones you don’t need.

Disable plugins

When you first install Google Chrome, some unnecessary plugins are also installed and enabled by default. Over the course of your web browsing session, you may even add more plugins to Chrome without knowing. As with extensions, you can disable plugins that are not in use. Simply type chrome:plugins into the address bar and press Enter. Note that plugins can only be disabled, not uninstalled. We recommend you keep the Adobe Flash Player plugin enabled, since many websites today use Flash to display menus and videos.

Clear browsing data

Chrome has a cache database that collects URLs of the websites you’ve visited, your download history, and cookies. While the purpose of this feature is to speed up your computer by caching data instead of loading it again every time, sometimes the browsing history can get bloated with hundreds and thousands of websites you’ve previously visited. Luckily there’s a quick fix: enter chrome://history in the address bar and hit Enter. Select “Clear browsing data” and select the items you wish to delete and choose a time range from the drop-down list. Click “Clear browsing data” again to remove the selected data.

Use the Clean up Tool

In some cases the speed of your Chrome may be affected by the software installed on your computer. Google has released its very own application that will scan and remove any software that may conflict with Chrome. You can check out the Chrome Cleanup Tool here. All you need to do is download and run the application, and sit back while the program scans your PC. The app is very helpful if you’ve tried the above tips but your Chrome continues to be sluggish.

Web browsers are indispensable tools for your business. You and your employees use them everyday to check emails, research information, get work done, manage social media accounts, and more. If the browser you’re using is not performing up to your expectations, contact us today and we’ll get to the root of the problem and fix it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
January 21st, 2016

A lot of businesses are still mystified as how to measure just what kind of value they are truly getting from social media. Because it is a medium that is still evolving, it can be hard to understand just what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social media and measuring its value. In fact, it’s not unusual to see so-called experts contradict themselves. Don’t worry if you are unable to totally understand social media value. We’ll break down a few things for you.

Social media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

...they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate - the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 16th, 2016

SocialMedia_Jan11_AYouTube is one of the most powerful tools for video marketing out there, especially for businesses who want to create an online reputation in order to generate more leads and revenue. It allows you to introduce your company’s unique brand and personality to the online community. And the best part? It’s free! Here we provide some useful tips to make sure that your YouTube marketing campaign is a total success.

Keep it short and simple

Most people have short attention spans and won’t watch videos that are longer than a couple of minutes unless they’re really interested. This means lengthy videos might not perform as well as you might hope, since viewers are likely to be turned off completely. There’s no fixed formula here, but the idea is to create videos that convey your intended message within five minutes at most. If you have the need for longer videos, simply split them into small segments - this is another great way to keep your visitors hooked and make them want to come back for more.

Use humor in your videos

Have you ever wondered why the funny videos on YouTube earn so many hits in such a short time? That’s because people love humor. We all like a good laugh. There are several YouTube channels out there that have had huge success by injecting humor into their videos. You don’t have to make your audience fall on their backs laughing - just flashing a little sense of humor will do the trick.

Consider quality over quantity

With the vast number of amateur and low-quality videos that come up on YouTube’s search results, you need to go the extra mile and make your video stand out from the competition. It’s worth investing in a high-quality video camera if you’re serious about YouTube marketing. Each of your videos should contain helpful and engaging content. And before posting it live, make sure to ask for a second or third pair of eyes to go through it again. This way you can take out the fluff and polish the videos so they’re appealing to viewers.

Set engaging titles

When it comes to YouTube marketing, this is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind. Make sure you include relevant keywords in the title, so your viewers know what to expect to see in your video. The general rule of thumb is to keep it clear and concise, since long titles will be truncated in YouTube’s search results. Another thing is to refrain from using misleading titles that trick people into watching your video. Not only will your viewers hit the close button right away, this cheap trick will also have a negative impact on your video’s ranking.

Promote your videos

YouTube videos have a high chance of ranking well in Google, being the search engine giant’s subsidiary and following similar search algorithms. But this is no excuse to skimp on marketing. There are many ways to promote your videos to your specific target audience. Using relevant keywords and descriptions may help with organic traffic, but there’s also paid options like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads that will help you earn more exposure for your videos.

YouTube is a great tool to generate traffic and interact with your customers online. But do keep in mind that no matter how great your videos are, they won’t get seen if you don’t promote them well enough. If you want to learn how to maximize your YouTube marketing campaigns, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 12th, 2016

Browsers_Nov25_AEven if you’re not currently taking adequate steps to protect yourself (and your company!) when you’re using the Internet, deep down you know you should be. Or maybe you already think you have enough precautions in place – but can you ever be too careful? In these times of Internet fraud, phishing scams and high profile hacks, there has never been a better time to take another look at your online safety. The big question is, where do you start?

Keeping your data safe is crucial for any small to medium-sized business. Back in the good old days when paperwork, ring binders and print outs were the norm, you wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving classified data lying around for all and sundry to see. Imagine the furor if you left a list of employee salaries lying face up on a desk. Think of the damage an employee with a grudge could do if they were able to flip through private files whenever they pleased. Now, just because your data is stored on your computers, servers and in the cloud, that doesn’t make it impenetrable. If anything it makes it available to absolutely anyone, anywhere, who has the desire and capabilities to hack into your system.

One thing you should be doing to protect your data – and your company – is to make use of privacy-protecting browser extensions. Depending on the nature of your business, both you and your employees are likely to be online at least some, if not all, of the working day. And that makes you vulnerable to attack. But what are some of the browser extensions that are out there?

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) being able to track your browsing habits, try installing a tool which offers private browsing. These programs offer protection against tracking by blocking third party cookies as well as malware. Some extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Blocking adverts

While online ads may seem harmless, the truth is that they can contain scripts and widgets that might send your data back to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will block banner, rollover and pop-up ads, and also prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that is known to contain malware. Many blockers contain additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third-parties on a site, the option to block specific items, and even ‘clean up’ Facebook, and hide YouTube comments. The major blockers work with Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox and you’ll be able to find everything from user-friendly solutions to more advanced tools that are customizable down to the tiniest degree. Do be aware, however, that not configuring your ad blocker properly can cause websites to ‘break’, making them unusable.

Consider installing a VPN

Unfortunately browser tracking, malware and adware are not the only Internet nasties that you need to be concerned about, but the good news is that there a number of other extensions that you can download to really get a grip on your online safety. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is something else to consider. VPNs encrypt your Internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re doing. Commonly used in countries such as China where the Internet is heavily censored by the powers that be, a VPN allows for private browsing as well as enabling users to access blocked sites – in China’s case that’s anything from blogs criticizing the government to Facebook and Instagram. There are a huge number of VPNs on the market so do a little research and find one that suits you best.

Finally, it goes without saying that having anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet and even your smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety.

If you’d like to know more about staying safe on the Internet or would like to schedule a security assessment for your company, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
January 4th, 2016

Multiethnic Group of People Meeting with SymbolIt’s possible you take your access to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms for granted. Maybe you’ve never thought about what a world without news feeds and constant updates and selfies from your friends and acquaintances is like. While there are moments when we’re all fed up of so-and-so’s latest attention-seeking Facebook status or their endless stream of glamorous vacation photos, the stark reality is, if our social media platforms were suddenly taken away from us, many of us would be at a loss. So what is it like to live in a country where many of these forms of communication are banned?

While China is probably the most well known country for restricting their population’s ability to view certain websites, whether through a desire to restrict access to information that might harm the country’s image or because of industry competition, there are other nations which also exercise strict control over what their people can and cannot see online.

Take Iran for example. Its citizens are denied access to Facebook and Twitter while Instagram is partially blocked due to the fact that it is possible to block individual accounts whilst leaving other parts of the platform online. Of course, anyone wanting to update their Facebook status, send tweets or upload a risqué selfie can do so using a VPN. But most VPNs charge a monthly subscription for their services and even then the access can be sketchy at best. However there is one social media platform in Iran that is freely available and that is Line, the instant messenger chat application. Unlike China which has blocked Line (something that is more to do with it being direct competition to the homegrown chat app WeChat than freedom of speech), in Iran Line is big news. In particular its social media function, called Timeline, is connecting people throughout the country, and in some surprising ways.

Texting someone is yesterday’s news, and messaging apps are the primary form of quick communication for people everywhere. And in Iran the app of choice used to be Viber – at least it was until it was blocked by Iranian officials at the end of last year. In its place came Telegram, a Russian chat app which has almost 60% of its total users in Iran. Line doesn’t currently compete with Telegram when it comes to messages, but that could change at any time, mainly thanks to some users of the latter’s penchant for spreading pornographic content.

In direct contrast to that, the Japanese owned Line is intent on maintaining its wholesome image – and Iranian companies are recognizing that and using Line as a platform to market themselves. And it’s no great surprise when you look at the numbers: well known for being one of, if not the, biggest blogging communities in the world, Iranian citizens are devout readers and creators of online content. What is particularly attractive to marketers in Iran is that a staggering 90% of people in Iran who use Line are actually active on a daily basis on Timeline.

But using Timeline in an official capacity is not as simple as merely opening an account and updating your status as it is on say, WeChat, Twitter or Facebook. Line stipulates that anyone who wants to open an ‘Official Account’ – be they a corporation or a celebrity - must apply to be a Line Partner. Line can decide whether or not to accept their ‘partner’ and, if deemed a good match for the platform, the company or person in question will then be made to sign an agreement and pay a subscription – and periodic fees. Harsh as this may seem when compared to free platforms, it is precisely this which enables Line to ensure its content is continually updated whilst also being of a permissible standard. And it is this policy of control and moderation that allows Line to operate unfettered in Iran.

So who are the Iranian celebrities who have signed up for an official Line account? The country’s first adopter was AlireSaa, a viral celebrity famous for humorous musical clips and anecdotes. At the time of signing up with Line he had around 320,000 Instagram followers – a number which took him two years to build. But after just five weeks on Line he had already beaten this – and his number of followers doesn’t show signs of abating any time soon – his fan base is already tipping the 500,000 mark.

So why is AlireSaa so phenomenally popular on Line but less so on Instagram? The answer lies in the fact that, aside from being partially blocked in Iran (although AlireSaa’s account was not) there are a number of features that Line offers to its official account holders that other social media platforms do not. One of these is Line’s ‘On Air’ sessions which uses live chat. AlireSaa used this feature to run a video contest for followers. His fans were treated to a two hour long live chat with their hero and were able to submit videos of themselves performing one of AlireSaa’s musical clips.

A staggering amount of people engaged with AlireSaa, who let’s remember is not a global superstar - 50,000 of them in fact and 10,000 of them submitted videos during the two hour window. When he announced the live chat, AlireSaa had 215,000 Line followers – a number which exploded as news of the contest spread like wildfire on the app’s Timeline feature.

If you’re still of the opinion that social media is a waste of time and can’t do anything for your business, maybe it’s time to take another look. If you want to follow in AlireSaa’s shoes and become a viral success, why not get in touch with us today. We can’t promise to make you an Internet superstar but we can help point you in the right direction.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
December 31st, 2015

 The functionality of Microsoft Office has yet to be beaten. And while it is known for its straightforward productivity, there are quite a few add-ins for your favorite Office application that just might improve your experience further. Whether you want to add a cool infographic to an Excel spreadsheet or need to set an Uber reminder from Outlook, here are four add-ins that can help change the way you use Office.

You probably use Microsoft Office on a daily basis but, if you aren’t utilizing plug-ins, you are missing out on a world of cool features that can improve your favorite applications. Microsoft calls them Office Add-ins, and they can be found in the Office Store. Log into your Microsoft account and download the Office Add-ins you want. After that, open the Office application the add-in is meant for. Once open, go to Insert > My Add-ins, and then pick the one you want. That’s it.

Of course, knowing how to do it is just the first step of the equation. You also have to know which add-ins are worth installing. If you are using Office 2013 or later, here are some of the add-ins you might want to check out.

People Graph

For: Excel Price: Free Excel is a great way to share numbers and vital data. However, your traditional spreadsheet can look a bit boring, and in particular it can fall short if you need certain figures to stand out. Apart from making them bold or larger, there aren’t a ton of options at your disposal. This is where People Graph comes in. This add-in lets you take those simple numbers and transform them into an engaging infographic that lets the data really stand out.

DocuSign

For: Word Price: Free Trial (subscription required after trial) If you need to sign a lot of documents, the process can be a complicated one. DocuSign removes all the hassles by letting you drag and drop your eSignature right there in Word. No longer will you have to print out a document, sign it, and then scan it back onto the computer. DocuSign also meets all legal standards when it comes to eSignatures, so security or validity won’t be an issue.

Uber Ride Reminder

For: Outlook Price: Free Raise your hand if you’ve scheduled an Uber ride, only to then forget about it. Chances are there are a lot of hands in the air, ours included. With the Uber Ride Reminder add-in, you won’t have to worry about that happening again. When you schedule a ride, you can place it in your Outlook calendar, and also have the option to setup a mobile reminder from the add-in. New users of the add-in might even be eligible for a free ride, too!

Translator

For: Word Price: Free If you work with bilingual clients, or simply want to quickly translate some text into another language, it normally involves a lot of copying and pasting from Word to an internet browser and back again. The Translator add-in cuts out the middle man, and lets you perform translations in over 40 languages right there in Word. While we can’t always vouch for the accuracy of the translations, it can at least help you get the gist of the message.

Believe it or not, there are tons of tools, tips and tricks out there that will let you and your employees get more out of Microsoft Office. Let our expert team show you how your company can get the most out of them and other Office features.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 28th, 2015

WindowsPhone_Dec16_AThere are over 600,000 Windows Phone applications that have been produced to date. Yes, many of these apps are of bad quality and outdated but, if you look through the Windows Phone Store carefully, you’ll find that it has everything you need for your day-to-day business activities. There are apps for you whether you’re looking to stay productive when you’re away from the office, schedule meetings with business contacts, or store files securely in the cloud. Here’s a list of our top recommended Windows Phones business apps.

Box

As the name implies, Box is an application that handles all of your file storage needs. The free version gives you 10GB free storage and supports over 100 file formats, including Word, Excel, PDF, PSD, and more. Box makes it easy for you to securely store, manage, and work with all of your files and documents whenever and wherever you are, whether it’s from your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

GMaps+

While many smartphone users are familiar with the famous Google Maps application, it is not available on the Windows Phone platform. But GMaps+ is a great alternative, offering users a complete Google Maps experience with many additional features, including a revamped design, 3D maps and 3D compass mode, live traffic conditions, the ability to view directions through third-party apps such as Waze and Nokia Drive, and so much more.

LastPass

Do you have trouble trying to memorize all the passwords for your various online services and email accounts? Then LastPass can be a real lifesaver, with its ability to securely store access credentials on your Windows Phone. LastPass features multi-factor authentication, password generation, and password sync. The only password you have to remember is LastPass’s master password, because it will fill your account IDs and passwords for you.

CamScanner

The CamScanner app essentially transforms your Windows Phone into a portable scanner, allowing you to scan, store, sync, and collaborate on paper documents, bills, receipts, physical business cards, and more. Recognized as the industry’s most powerful document scanning and sharing app, CamScanner truly makes digitizing physical documents as easy as opening the app and taking a picture.

Time Stamp

Time Stamp is a powerful work time tracker app that has an intuitive user interface and is rich in functionality. It allows you to track your work time in just two taps on your Windows Phone device. Time Stamp’s detailed reports show your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly work time accrual. You can also use Time Stamp to track overtime work, record public holidays and leave days, and export data in Excel format.

Zoho Expense

For many companies, expense reporting and reimbursement processes come with many challenges, such as lost receipts, long processing times, and violations of expense policies. With Zoho Expense, you can easily automate business and travel expense management, dramatically reducing the time required to record receipts and prepare expense reports by digitizing your papers. Zoho Expense is ideal for sales reps, managers, and finance departments.

Want to learn how to implement Windows Phone into your business? Contact us today - we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 25th, 2015

Satisfied man holding two money bagsOne of the biggest, buzziest phrases making the rounds in corporate circles at the moment is “big data”. But what does big data actually mean? What is it and, more importantly, what can it do for your business or organization? The good news is that it’s not just another tired old buzz word that actually has very little meaning (“pushing the envelope”, we’re looking at you!) Using big data within your company can actually help you increase profit. Let’s take a look at how.

So, we’ve established that big data is causing a stir and creating a buzz in companies that are in the know. In fact, it’s become hip to bandy about the phrase whenever one is trying to impress their boss, senior management or fellow co-workers. But like any lingo or jargon that is currently cool, it really doesn’t count for a whole lot if it doesn’t mean anything, particularly in the workplace.

The good news is that, unlike some of the more hackneyed expressions thrown around by those colleagues that are so desperate to impress their seniors, big data does actually mean something. And, more to the point, it can help your business thrive. Big data can help you achieve that end result that everyone in business is chasing: profit.

This is why big data is trending so sharply at the moment - after all, every owner or manager of a small or medium-sized business wants to grow their bottom line. Times are hard in many industries: increasing competition from abroad, the threat of the internet to bricks-and-mortar stores, a difficult economic climate - the list goes on. But what if something as simple as using your business’s data could push you heads and shoulders above the competition, and help turn around that downwards or flatlining arrow on your sales chart and point it upwards in the direction of success?

But before we get to that; what actually is “big data”? Why is it big? Well, we may have said that using data to grow profit is simple but, in actual fact, it’s really not as easy as all that. Big data is used to refer to various sets of data that are so huge and so complex that the traditional methods of processing data are virtually useless. Database management tools and other processing applications become redundant and are just not up to the task of capturing, storing, searching for, sharing, transferring, analyzing, and visualizing data.

Instead of looking at separate small sets of data, big data - as the name implies - looks at larger sets that contain far more information. This enables anyone analyzing the results to cross-check the sets and pinpoint trends, both positive and negative, across the entire business. As a result, owners and managers can make more informed decisions that affect the company in a more beneficial way than is possible by merely looking at small, isolated sets of data.

Big data therefore plays a valuable role in strategy and planning, and also helps troubleshoot worrying or problematic trends that threaten the performance and profitability of the business. Put simply, using big data to assist in making decisions for your company is about being able to see the bigger picture (to use another tired corporate buzz phrase). Decisions made with all the facts at hand will naturally help increase revenue, as opposed to blindly feeling in the dark and making changes to one area or department that may negatively affect another.

There are a number of ways that you can use big data analytics to make better decisions and increase profit. Crucially, it allows you to see what really makes your customers tick. Nowadays many businesses offer different ways for their customers to communicate with them. From email to a website, to phone calls and human interaction, all of these present you with meaningful information about your clients’ behavior. Knowing what your customers rely on you for, how they interact with you, and where they may hesitate or stumble when using your services, provides a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be mined. However, a lot of this data is unstructured and therefore cannot be analyzed using traditional means. That’s where big data comes in: it can help you uncover the information you need to really understand your customers.

Of course it goes without saying that a deeper understating of your customers can help you grow your customer base, increase repeat business, heighten customer loyalty, and reduce bounce rates and the number of dissatisfied customers. But that’s not all - analyzing this data will allow you to develop new products or services, create stronger, more effective marketing campaigns, and create an all-round better experience for the people that matter most – the people you serve.

Want to learn more about big data, and find out how it can have a seriously positive impact on your business’s revenue? Talk to us today - we have the knowledge and experience to help you really get the most out of your company’s intel.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 23rd, 2015

BusinessValue_Dec23_AWe all know that data is valuable. After all, the more we know about the inner workings of our business and how our customers behave, the better. But knowing that data is crucial in helping to move your organization forward, and knowing exactly how to use that information to do so are two very different things. Here are some ways to overcome the hurdles and add real value to your business by harnessing the power of data.

Many small and medium-sized businesses shy away from data analytics due to the perceived complexities of dealing with the myriad of facts and figures. A head for figures is something many of us lack – and, even if you have no problem with the math, there’s the time involved in setting aside a part of your busy schedule to track your analytics.

But the sooner you embrace your data, the sooner you can start adding real value to your business through this extremely valuable, and often untapped, source. But just how does a smaller enterprise actually set about doing that? After all, even the most humble of mom and pop stores or home-office-based entrepreneurs has access to an often bewildering array of trackable metrics.

The key point is that, if data is to be of any value, it needs to be easy to collect, collate and analyze. There’s no point spending half your working week mired in incomprehensible spreadsheets and charts if you can’t extract useful information and then apply it in a meaningful way that meets your end goals.

When thinking about analytics, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Not only that, but the vast majority of business owners would much rather spend their working lives filling dental cavities, laying flooring, solving legal disputes or selling fitted kitchens - whatever your own particular specialist skill might be - than learning about and trying to apply data analysis techniques. That’s where an analytics dashboard can help. These take the hassle out of unearthing all that data, and present your metrics to you in a more understandable format. But with an array of different tools to choose from, what should you consider if this is the route you decide to take?

  • How easy is it to use? There’s no point investing in a dashboard solution if you don’t understand the way the data is presented to you; you still won’t be able to apply it in any meaningful way.
  • How deep will the analysis go? You’ll likely want to be able to track trends, compare results over time, and chart your success.
  • Is the data easy to apply? You want your dashboard to simplify the application of data within your business environment, and make it easy for you to take action.
  • Does it save you time? If you’re currently spending frustrating hours sifting through reams of facts and figures, this is a huge consideration. You need your dashboard to supply pertinent information in an easy-to-read format.
  • Is it compatible with other programs and apps? If you’re operating an online store, you will want the dashboard to work with your POS and shopping cart. You may also want it to track website analytics and social media engagement.
Once you’ve decided on a data analytic dashboard, how do you know which metrics to look at? Every business will differ depending on their industry and individual needs or challenges, but there are a couple of points you will want to bear in mind.

Look for data trends To make the leap from looking at data to making plans and actually doing something, you need to highlight your most important metrics and use them as something to action. Let’s say you find it hard to retain customers; you know this and your data backs it up. Clearly you’re not doing enough to ensure your customers return. That could indicate you’re spending too much time and money on attracting new clients. Now you can take action: do you need to improve your customer service or offer more products or services? Create a marketing plan that targets past customers by telling them about something new or by offering them a discount.

Analyze your past customers Now you have easy access to data that shows you your best selling products or services, your peak selling periods, and more. This will help you get to know your customers far better, track their behavior, and plan ahead when it comes to adding services, buying inventory, or preparing for busy spells.

Whether your aim is to attract new customers, retain old ones, expand your offering, or discern whether opening a new location is a viable option, your data will prove to be an indispensable friend. After all, customers may come and go – but your data will always be there for you.

If you’d like to learn more about adding value to your business with data analysis, or want to explore data analysis dashboard options, get in touch with us today - we’ll be happy to advise you on the options best suited to your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 8th, 2015

164_FB_AIf you’ve tested out Facebook ads, or are thinking about it, you may be struggling to get the results and feedback you were hoping for. So, with the holiday season underway, and potential customers open to commercial messages, there is no better time to right the ship, get your ads working, and start making sales. If you’re at all curious about Facebook ads or could use some guidance with your current strategy, here are a few ways to take your Facebook ads to the next level.

Know your audience, and talk directly to them

If you try and target everyone, you will end up sounding like every other vendor out there. And if you sound similar to hundreds of other people, how likely are you to stand out from the crowd? Think in fresh new terms and be prepared to target your audience. You know what you are selling, and you know what your customers need. So speak directly to them. By doing so, you become unique, and unique catches the attention of your similarly unique prospects.

Target fans of similar brands

Facebook allows you to target followers of specific brands. So if you don’t know who your audience is, try targeting those of similar brands. Chances are the followers of that brand will be nearly the same as your target prospect, so you’re likely to see some results by doing this.

Get to the point quickly, and be concise

No one has time for long sales pitches at this time of year, so be concise in your copy. Your time is valuable, and your current and potential customers are busy. You only have a short window to catch their attention, so make your opportunity to do so count. Write clear, concise copy that speaks directly to them and quickly explains your offer.

Optimize your images

Christmas and the New Year are about family and making personal connections. According to marketing guru Dan S. Kennedy and author Kim Walsh-Phillips, ads that feature people are more likely to be clicked on, provided you adhere to the following two rules:
  1. Use an image of a person smiling and looking straight into the camera. According to Dan and Kim, this has proven to work time and time again in their own tests.
  2. Have the person wear a red shirt. For Dan and Kim, red shirts tested 75% of the time better than other colors. And speaking of tests...

Test, test, and test again

Scientist test their ideas for a reason. It’s a proven way to discover if their theories are correct. The testing principle should also be your guiding light when it comes to Facebook ads. So set apart a portion of your budget and create several different versions of your ads to test, and see which works better. Specific areas of your ad to be tested include the headline, copy, and images. You will likely find that one version of your ad is working better than the other. And once you do, put the rest of your budget towards that specific ad.

Give a visual of the reward

Just like using a headline to give a teaser about an article, you want to let your target know what reward is in store for them if they click on your link. When you’re advertising a product, you absolutely want to do the same thing. Whether that’s a coupon, video, free report, or pair of shoes, make sure to show an image of it in your ad.

Mind your relevance score

Last but not least, don’t forget to pay attention to your relevance score. Why is this important? When your relevance score is high, you get more visibility for a lower price - and therefore more bang for your advertising buck. If you have a low relevance score, then it’s time you went back to the old drawing board, hoping for better luck next year. We can't say this enough - test, test, and test again. Test different headlines, test images, and test copy to see what gives your relevance score the bump you’re looking for.

If you’re interested in more Facebook tips, or new technology for the new year, don’t hesitate to call our IT experts. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook