Category Archives: Marketing

26 Animated Logos to Inspire Your Own

There’s a reason we’re so invested in movies and watching something play out on a screen versus reading a book about the same topic.

Motion is exciting to us, and often conveys a message difficult to express through text alone.

Granted, watching animated logos all day isn’t quite as fun as binge-watching The Office, but nonetheless, it still often wins in a contest against its static alternative — doesn’t it?

Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest animated logos businesses are using today. These logos are so sleek and pragmatic, they’ll likely inspire you to beg for a redesign of your own company logo.

If you don’t believe me, let the exploding Skype name speak for itself.

1. Shazam

Image courtesy of Oleg Turbaba.

2. Skype

Image courtesy of Pivotal.

3. Nike

Image courtesy of

4. FedEx

Image courtesy of

5. Lux

Image courtesy of Mucho.

6. Spotify

Image courtesy of Oliver Keane.

7. Feral Sphere

Image courtesy of Mind Design.

8. Brikk

Image courtesy of Gun Karlsson.

9. Sello

Image courtesy of Latham Arnott.

10. Untime

Image courtesy of Tony Pinkevich.

11. Firefox

Image courtesy of Latham Arnott.

12. Flight PR

Image courtesy of Dia.

13. OpenView

Image courtesy of Pentagram.

14. Cub Studio

Image courtesy of Fraser Davidson.

15. Ugmonk

Image courtesy of Seth Eckert.

16. Arzábal’s Food Truck

Image courtesy of Behance.

17. Two Twelve Studio


Image courtesy of Behance.

18. Scout

Image courtesy of Dave Chenell.

19. Fuzbiz

Image courtesy of Mattias Peresini.

20. AMA

Image courtesy of David Stanfield.

21. Ikea

Image courtesy of Nikita Melnikov.

22. Hypercompact

Image courtesy of Evgeny Skidanov.

23. Slingshot

Image courtesy of Anastasiia Andriichuk.

24. CrowdStrike

Image courtesy of Seth Eckert.

25. Google

Image courtesy of Adam Grabowski.

26. Glug

Image courtesy of Marcus Chaloner.

3Vs are Good, But 6Vs Are Better: A New Way of Understanding Big Data

The following is a guest contributed post from Dr. Mona Yousry, Chief Data Scientist, Sabio Mobile.

The amount of data that people generate simply by living their lives can be used to tell stories filled with context and insights. This information, combined with digital data, enriches our understanding of consumers and, by extension, the physical world. Big data, mobile phones, social media and behavior analytics each play a vital role in teasing out this understanding; as a result, they allow companies to gain a competitive edge, and are the future of business intelligence.

But what does data intelligence really mean? To put it simply, data intelligence is the ability to identify and analyze relationships, and to visualize the data associated with them. That is to say, business intelligence unifies sources of unstructured data together with up-to-date visualizations in order to access information on trends and experiences quickly.

Most people will already be familiar with the term “big data”. But what many people don’t realize is that the number of data sources that big data can draw from is increasing at a rapid clip, which in turn affects the quality of the insights that business applications will be able to generate. Having more – and better – data also allows for better AI, because the more high-quality data you have to train your systems, the better your AI algorithms will be.

Data opportunities and challenges

Implementing big data successfully is often a challenge for businesses, in part because of the oft-cited “Vs” of big data. Gartner’s 3Vs, variety, velocity, and volume, have traditionally been the way that most practitioners understand big data.

Macintosh HD:Users:mona:Desktop:BigData.001.jpg

However, in some ways, the traditional way of thinking about big data ignores the larger picture – that is to say, how to interpret such massive amounts of data. As a result, we need to look beyond the original Vs, to what I call the 6V Wheel. In addition to variety, velocity, and volume, organizations also need to be thinking about validity, verification, and visualization.

Let’s start with the traditional Vs. Variety refers to the fact that not all data is created equally. No longer is it a set of observations and measurements that we can apply regression or time series to; instead, we think of data as a set of patterns that can drive amazing insights, particularly when made up of information from multiple sources. In the near past, a retailer might have relied on information drawn from e-commerce sites and social media – but now, with advances in location technology, one can look at data gathered from physical retail locations and points of sale, and subsequently gain more insight into shopping trends and behaviors. As mobile apps and devices have become smarter and more responsive to their environments, the variety of data available has exponentially increased. Most of this information is already in the hands of organizations, yet few are using it to drive value.

Velocity is a characteristic of data, frequently equated to real-time analytics. It is the rate of changes – about linking data sets that are coming with different speeds and bursts of activities. When the spatio-temporal relationship between two or more data sets changes, then everything else changes, even the definition of a “data event.”

Volume refers simply to the amount of data. Keep in mind that simply having more information than your competitor is not a guarantor of success; rather, it comes down to how effectively that information is being used to drive business performance.

Now for the three new Vs:

Validity refers to a question that our AI and machine learning intelligence is continuously addressing: how effective are these methods? For us, it is the accuracy and  how pervasive is our model. We look at many combinations to relate interactions, habits and behaviors, as only then can we start to understand audience needs (with their privacy still intact). For businesses, the power  is in the insights that allow them to measure performance, create value, drive awareness for new offerings, improve loyalty, increase sales, and countless other actions that are beneficial for their organizations. All of this is a validation of big data.

Verification is the process of establishing the accuracy of something; in other words, the establishment by empirical means of the validity of a proposition. Can a business verify that a customer responds well to a specific notification? How do you know if a particular ad was the reason someone visited a store? How good are your campaigns at driving attribution? How relevant are your ads to people? With AI, and the new types of data that are being collected, all of these questions can now be answered.

Finally, Visualization refers to how we dynamically see the data – and the intelligent decisions we make as a result of understanding those insights. Understanding data can be a complicated matter, and it needs to be easily digestible so that marketers and management can quickly assess what is and isn’t working, and make the right decisions.

While Gartner’s 3Vs provide a good baseline, this new 6Vs Vision creates a more holistic and comprehensive way to view data. This is especially vital as the importance of app science, geolocation, and mobile continue to grow exponentially, and as big data continues to create value for organizations.

The post 3Vs are Good, But 6Vs Are Better: A New Way of Understanding Big Data appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The Coalition Conundrum and the Benefits of Owning Your Own Data

Many large organizations no longer feel that they are getting a fair exchange from coalition loyalty programs, and are seeking to take back ownership of their loyalty data to build better relationships with their customers. While these brands may sacrifice the marketing reach that comes with participating in a coalition program, ultimately the investment made to own their own customer data will pay off in the long run.

By Anthony Stevenson

Gaining a more thorough understanding of a brand’s customers, what motivates them and what influences their purchasing behaviors is only possible if a brand can connect their customer data across all touch-points, including their loyalty program. And to do that, brands need to control their loyalty strategy and implementation as well as the data those initiatives generate.

A coalition program adds an opaque layer between this crucial data and a retailer, preventing a complete view of their customers. When the Plenti program announced in April it would no longer accept new members and that the program would cease operations this summer, many interpreted the program’s struggles as an indictment of the concept of coalition loyalty. Instead, the participating companies may have simply realized the advantages of owning their own loyalty data and tailoring their loyalty approaches to maximize the benefit to their brand.

The original attraction of the Plenti program – and most coalition programs – is based on the immediacy with which a brand could tap into and engage an active, built-in consumer base. But as brands found they could achieve the same customer activation and marketing reach by effectively managing their own social media, digital content and native app channels, the need to rely solely on a third-party solution disappeared. Retailers can more effectively leverage their marketing spend across multiple “owned” platforms to connect with and engage a larger, more targeted audience.

This new approach can be seen in other sectors of the North American economy as well: the same rationale informed Air Canada’s decision to build an in-house loyalty program rather than continue its partnership with Aeroplan. And major retailer Loblaw merged two of its most beloved programs to create one of the largest digital loyalty programs in Canada, PC Optimum. This illustrates a different, more consolidated approach but with the same goal: creating a single customer view based on data collected across all brands and channels.

This trend of merging, consolidating and bringing loyalty programs in-house benefits consumers as well. The earning and redemption process becomes much more streamlined and easy to understand, points work across multiple related banners, and the value proposition is much more obvious. But it is when a retailer unlocks the potential of connected data that customers reap real benefits. More relevant offers and promotions are delivered at the right time, in the channels each customer prefers. And when brands can clearly understand their customers’ needs and preferences, they can create more meaningful engagements that drive deeper brand loyalty and revenue to their business.

Businesses want to drive their own destiny, and to do that they need to own their own customer data. Investing in loyalty solutions that facilitate this outcome will pay dividends well beyond the benefits of participating in a coalition program. Pursuing this approach is possible – with the right technology and the right partners. Brands that take this opportunity and make the investment to own their own data will enjoy a significant advantage over their counterparts that settle for outsourcing their loyalty strategy to someone else.

Anthony Stevenson is International New Business Director at Eagle Eye.

The post The Coalition Conundrum and the Benefits of Owning Your Own Data appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

8 Ways to Make Your Website More User-Friendly

Websites have evolved into something so much more than just text and information on a page. Users today expect your website to entertain them, deliver quality and offer an intuitive, comfortable overall experience. Everything from the aesthetic of your site to the placement of your CTAs can impact how long visitors stay on your page. Fortunately, it is easy to make your website more user-friendly.

In this blog, I’ll show you eight ideas to get you started on making your website more user-friendly.

1.   Listen to Your Users

Take the time to ask your regular visitors what they’d like to see on your page. Getting input directly from your target audience will allow you to discover missing elements you might not see on your own. Users often know precisely what they don’t like about a website. It’s your job to take those comments and turn them into positives by fixing any features your visitors dislike.

ESPN Example

When you place the user at the core of your design and content, your site will automatically become more user-friendly. A few years ago, asked for input from their regular visitors about what they should add to the redesign of their homepage. They listened, added many of the elements mentioned and saw a 35% increase in revenue. Note how their design features elements someone landing on the page would most want.

2.   Speed It Up

Web users expect your site to load at lightning speed, even on mobile devices. About half of them say they expect a website to load within two seconds and will abandon one that doesn’t load after three seconds. Speed indeed does matter when it comes to keeping visitors on your site so they can see if they want to do business with you.

There are some tools out there that will allow you to check your site speed, including Pingdom and Google’s Page Speed Insights. These sites will also give you tips on how to speed up your site. Two simple things you can do to start are checking your server’s speed and optimizing any images.

3.   Provide In-Depth Information

When a site visitor lands on your page, they want to get the information they need to make an informed decision about your product or service. If the visitor has to hunt for this information, they may assume you’re hiding something or grow frustrated and leave for a competitor’s website. The more in-depth and accessible you can make information on what you have to offer, the better.

Medical Guardian Example

Look at Medical Guardian’s buying guide. They understand someone looking for a medical monitoring device likely has concerns about the effectiveness of the device. After all, you are putting your loved one’s life in their hands. They provide an in-depth buying guide for their customers that answers any questions the consumer might have, including the cost of a medical alert system, the support, the certifications of the monitoring center and even how installation works.

4.   Make Navigation Intuitive

When a visitor lands on a website, they often look to the navigation bar to orient themselves with the page. The navigation bar is essential because it follows the site visitor throughout their journey on your site and serves as a tool to go back to the landing page.

At the same time, you need to limit the number of categories in your navigation bar, so it doesn’t become overly bulky—you should also place it in the same location on every page. Conduct some A/B testing with your bar, trying slightly different positions, tab arrangements, and even wording. This will tell you what users prefer and what works best for your site.

5.   Choose Color Carefully

Choose the colors for your website carefully. You need a perfect balance between beauty and clarity. Not only does your color palette need to make sense for your industry, but the contrast between the background and text needs to be enough that the visitor can read text easily and not strain the eyes.

Van Gogh Museum Example

Look at the bold colors the Van Gogh Museum uses on its website. The pop of red and the vibrant colors in the painting used for the background draw the eye of the user. Because the industry is art, the site can get a little more creative in the colors they use, combining colors for a palette that a more conservative industry, such as banking, wouldn’t use. This combination works well for this particular site. Although the white text on the partial cream background does not work well, the rest of the site is spot on.

6.   Improve Your Site Layout

Keep in mind that many users are now accessing websites via mobile devices. About 80% of internet users own a smartphone and they are spending more and more time accessing the Internet via their phones, especially as data costs come down and unlimited data is the standard.

With that in mind, having a responsive layout becomes even more critical. Does your site look good on both desktop and mobile? It doesn’t necessarily have to look the same. It is more important that mobile users can see things without having to zoom in every few seconds and navigate easily throughout the site.

7.   Pay Attention to CTAs

Do you have strong calls to action (CTAs) on your pages in locations that make sense? Site visitors who decide to buy or register for your newsletter want to know how to take the next step. Make this simple by using a strong CTA that’s easy to locate.

Look at what payment processing platform Square does with their CTA button. They consider both a color that will pop against the background and even the wording of the CTA, which simply reads “sign up with Square.” They have also chosen to place the CTA button above the fold and additional information underneath. This allows the user to find the button from the minute he lands on the page.

Square Example

8.   Beef Up Your Contact Page

If you don’t have a straightforward way for consumers to contact you, you risk losing the trust of those who land on your page. About 51% of people state they believe complete contact information is something many websites are missing. If your contact is simply an email, consider beefing up this information.

The more ways you allow a user to contact you, the better. Consider adding a toll-free number, a live chat option, a knowledge base, and user forum. These factors all add credibility to your site.

Make Your Website User-Friendly

These eight things will instantly make your website more user-friendly, but the key to a site with good UX is to make improvements consistently. Take the time to ask your customers what tools would help them and add those to your site. Remember, the tools that are useful for an ecommerce site will differ from those that are useful for a blog.

Test everything and try to see your site through the eyes of your target audience. Eventually, your site will become easier to use for your particular site visitors and potentially lead to more sales or new clients.

Are there any user experience must-haves that you feel strongly about? Tell me about it in the comments.

The post 8 Ways to Make Your Website More User-Friendly appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Comparing Price, Features & Speed

The main differences between web hosting services Bluehost and HostGator are price and features. Bluehost provides everything you need to create a professional website, including a domain, email accounts and SSL certificate. HostGator charges separately for these. Server performance is roughly the same, although HostGator can perform better with a more advanced hosting subscription. Bluehost…

The post Bluehost vs. HostGator: Comparing Price, Features & Speed appeared first on Fit Small Business.

IHob’s SEO Berson Is Brobably Buking Right Now…I Know I Am

It must be tempting for a brand to try to do the fun, edgy social media thing, like tease a new promotion or rebranding:

Of course even when these campaigns go well on social media, we often see brands totally ignore the SEO components that could get the word out to those few people who for some reason aren’t using Twitter to find a place for lunch.

So I headed down to the local IHopb for lunch yesterday to grab a pburger and take a look at their SEO strategy, which surely they launched to support this bet-the-brand effort right?

As I pulled into the lot, my first impression was that this IHob thing is probably not a true rebranding and more like a temporary promotion to get us thinking that they are now a place to grab lunch cause, just like our President, everywhere I looked I was still getting hit in the face with P.

The signage on the door was a bit schizophrenic. They clearly were making a push for the “b”, but it was as if they hadn’t anticipated that stores might still have a lot of signs, again just like certain statesmen, that were covered with “p”.

So it shouldn’t surprise you that their website has similar issues.

Despite the rebrand, IHob was still rocking the domain:

The good news is they had acquired  (UPDATE: See @henshaw’s tweet – holy pancakes this is SEO malpractice of the highest order) but apparently this burger thing was moving too fast to change domains or even put something up on Probably not a bad idea as that can be tricky SEO-wise, but how about just redirecting to would have likely acquired a spate of backlinks yesterday which would have helped when it came time to redirect, and it probably would be ranking #1 in Google for “ihob” queries v. all these news results:


IHob SERP with search box and tweets removed

I guess this wasn’t a huge issue yesterday as the news is more important in spreading the word than the brand, but this SERP could easily start to show articles ridiculing the strategy or about how Wendys totally pwned them. And then they are going to want that domain to be #1 for that query to try to control the message, or at least to help drown out the snark.

(note: sometime after 5pm PT they actually put a pic of a burger up on but for most of the day it just read “coming soon”. Oh yeah and there are multiple indexable versions of the homepage)

And while the site sported an updated IHob logo, someone had forgotten to invite the store locator guys to the meetings:

Scrolling down the homepage below the fold, it appears that maybe folks were a bit too busy with coming up with fun Tweet ideas to give the app team a heads up:

But who cares if the branding on the site is inconsistent as long as people know we’re now all about burgers right? Good thing they updated the homepage title tags and meta descriptions to make sure people searching for them get the “we’re all about burgers now baby!” message:

Hey, I understand. The CMS is a POS and that “update title tag” JIRA ticket is on hold until we can find the guy who knows how to find the guy who knows how to update the title tags. So you did what any resourceful marketer would do, you had the dev guys create a hack so you could add a new “what’s new” page to showcase your new pbrogram:

For those of you without zoom capabilities, the title tag of that URL reads “Big Bold Omelettes and World Famous Pancakes”. This may not be so wrong as one of their new burgers is the “Big Brunch”:

iHob Big Brunch Burger

I ended up going for the Jalapeño Kick which the manager mentioned was the most popular burger on the menu. But again the restaurant was sending me signals that this rebrand hadn’t really been well-thought out. For example, at the end of my table there was a sign for their burgers, but instead of bottles of ketchup and mustard, here’s what I saw:

Burger Syrup

Who doesn’t like a slathering of blueberry syrup on their burger? Actually, maybe I’m in the minority. Why else would they give you side options of fries, onion rings, fruit or…

Is it me or does it seem like iHob, like some other people in the news these days, really can’t quit the p?

And speaking of reluctance to change, let’s not forget about those Google My Business listings:

If IHop truly had rebranded they would have changed all of their GMB names (although I wouldn’t have been surprised if Google would have algorithmically rejected the change. I think Bill Slawski found a “just too damn ridiculous” patent once).

While I can’t say I am particularly impressed with the SEO effort, the burger had a surprisingly spicy jalapeño kick. Nothing a real chili-head would respect but it wasn’t super wimpy like most QSR spice-trend dishes. All in all, a fine low-brow burger.
Jalapeno Kick Burger

As for the fries? They tasted pretty much like home fries that had been reshaped for lunch with a slight hint of yesterday’s Crispy Fish & Chips. And they only supplied me with a single flimsy napkin.
A bit greasy

Of course they were as stingy with the napkins as they were with their new burger URLs in their XML sitemap.

Look, I get it. We’re doing MARKETING here baby and we don’t have time to do all your fancy optimizing. But think about how much time, effort and $ iHopb is putting into this campaign. Even if this is just a temporary stunt, iHopb does not appear to be appreciating the long-term advantage of tying an SEO strategy to a social campaign. Remember “Puppy Baby Monkey?” I bet Mountain Dew’s SEO guy remembers it as the time his company’s ad went viral on the Super Bowl but they never bothered to try to get the site or Mountain Dew’s Youtube channel to rank for the damn term:

Speaking of time, I asked the iHopb manager when he was informed about the campaign. He said corporate had told him about a month ago and sent new menus, signage and videos with cooking instructions for the new burgers. Unfortunately his cooks had ignored the videos until that morning and now weren’t sure how to cook all of the different burgers which is what everyone had been ordering that day.

Ihob manager

SEO in large organizations is a lot like those burger cooking videos. Requirements get sent to decision makers but they get ignored, or pushed down the priority list, until there’s an emergency and then there’s a mad scramble to figure out what went wrong and fix it.

As we like to say over here:

And as they like to say on Twitter:

The post IHob’s SEO Berson Is Brobably Buking Right Now…I Know I Am appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

The Best Coworking Office Spaces in Australia

It’s fair to say that Australia is one of the best places in the world to start a business, boasting a thriving tech industry and an entrepreneurial edge. But starting your own business comes with a ton of expenses — and one of the biggest is finding office space to work your magic in.

The good news is that you can vastly reduce this expense by opting to use one of Australia’s many coworking spaces, where you’ll also benefit from being in the midst of like-minded people who are willing to share ideas. (Not to mention, many of these spaces also offer free coffee!)

Sydney and Melbourne are two of the most active startup hubs in Australia, so we’ve put together a list of the best coworking spaces in each to help you find a space that works for you:

Sydney Coworking Spaces

  1. Fishburners
  2. Tank Stream Labs
  3. Spaces
  4. Hub Sydney
  5. Stone and Chalk

The Best Coworking Spaces in Australia

1. Fishburners

Image Source: Fishburners

Fishburners have locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Shangai, with the Sydney office alone boasting almost 300 companies working out of their space, as well as 500 visitors entering the premises each week. Fishburners also offers some handy perks such as free coffee and Red Bull, as well as a thriving community environment.

Pricing varies depending on the type of membership you choose, but you can take a free tour of Fishburners to get a feel for what membership package would best suit your needs. A huge bonus of joining Fishburners is that you get access to all of their locations mentioned above, regardless of your membership type.

2. Tank Stream Labs

Image Source: Tank Stream Labs

Tank Stream Labs (or TSL to those who know it well) bills itself as a “tech-focused, coworking community for startups and scaleups, with a global focus”. And it’s safe to say that they live up to that billing, with two offices in Sydney that house companies like Buzzfeed, Ashop, and formerly, GoDaddy. TSL also has a large community, with over 400 startups on the books in total and more than $300m raised to date by its members.

3. Spaces

Image Source: Spaces

Landing in Sydney’s Surry Hills from Amsterdam in 2016, Spaces offers 222 coworking desks to choose from, as well as three private meeting rooms. Spaces also provides a virtual office package that gives you access to a private office at Spaces locations for five days a month. If you’re not sure if Spaces is for you, they offer a free one-day trial so you can test their facilities out without dropping a cent.

Image Source: Startup Scene Australia

3. Hub Sydney

After originally opening a single office in Sydney’s William Street in 2013, Hub Sydney has now opened a second office located at Hyde Park in 2018. They offer day passes if you’re only passing through Sydney, or monthly memberships if you’d like a longer stay. Like Fishburners, you’ll get access to any of Hub Sydney’s other locations once you join the community. This means you can set up camp in places like Melbourne, London, Singapore, New York and Santa Monica.

Image Source: The Founder Lab

Based in Sydney’s Winyard Green, Stone and Chalk entered Australia as Asia’s largest Fintech coworking space, and it’s growing fast. It’s secured some impressive partners in Australia already, with the likes of NAB, HSBC and Suncorp amongst the many listed as corporate partners. Stone and Chalk also host regular in-office events with guest speakers from companies like Ernst and Young and Westpac.

Melbourne Coworking Spaces

  1. Framework
  2. Inspire9
  3. The Commons
  4. Hive Studio
  5. The Cluster

1. Framework

Image Source: Creative Spaces

Framework is one of the smaller coworking spaces on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. They’re based on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD with a tight-knit community of designers, developers, videographers, copywriters, marketing professionals and everything in between. Framework’s aim is to foster a social, professional and collaborative environment to nurture small business growth — you can even take the space for a test drive before making a decision.

2. Inspire9

Image Source: Creative Spaces

In business since 2011, Inspire9 is well known in the Melbourne startup community and has offices in both Richmond and Footscray. Like others on this list, Inspire9 holds regular in-office events and promote a strong focus on a collaborative environment between members. They’ve got packages to suit all needs, including daily and weekly passes, as well as a 24/7 residency package for the workaholics among us.

3. The Commons

Image Source: Creative Spaces

The Commons is one of the largest coworking spaces in Australia, with Eventbrite, Yeti and Almo among its members. The Commons has offices in Cremorne, South Melbourne and Collingwood, and offers a host of membership packages, including a customised private office. They’ve even got a photo studio and green screen if you need to get creative and save on the cost of a photo studio

Image Source: Hive Studio

4. Hive Studio

Located in Collingwood, Hive Studio offers a boutique workspace for small startup businesses, focusing on a community atmosphere and shared creative-minded environment. Depending on your needs, Hive Studio offers both desk space and office space, where you can rent up to seven desks in your own, lockable mini office. Pricing is also all-inclusive, so no hidden costs.

Image Source: Spacely

5. The Cluster

This is one of the best equipped coworking spaces on the list, with no less than six multimedia meeting rooms and 2,500m squared of hightech office space that overlooks the Yarra River in Melbourne’s CBD. They offer a multitude of packages including flexi desks and private offices, while also providing a call answering service as part of their higher-end packages. Members of The Cluster include Amaysim, Mexia and Point Advisory.

Those are, in my opinion, some of the best coworking spaces you’re likely to find. But, there’s a plethora of others available if none of these suit your needs. If you’re in the process of starting your own business in Australia and aren’t quite sure what you have to do next, you can also take a look at this handy checklist to help you tick off the main items on your list.

New Native Video Report Sheds Eye Opening Insight

This week, ADYOULIKE — a leading global in-feed native advertising platform — announced the inaugural State of Native Video Report, a comprehensive research report designed to help advertisers understand how to best leverage native video across all consumer platforms.

The report analyzes aggregate data from the ADYOULIKE platform and provides benchmarks, plus key takeaways around creative length, engagement and growth of native video based on 30 million infeed video views run across the platform in the first 4 months of 2018 (January – April 2018).

“The report shows that smartphone users are more likely to spend time engaging with long-form video ads compared to 6 second ads when executed correctly,” reads a report summary provided to MMW. “72 percent of mobile users that have watched 6 seconds will continue to watch and engage with video up to 22 seconds. When native video reaches 15 – 22 seconds in length across premium publisher environments, mobile and tablet users that have watched this far are significantly more engaged than desktop users.”

The data contradicts the perceived wisdom that mobile users have limited attention spans and are only interested in short video content. The ADYOULIKE 2018 data indicates that across premium publisher environments mobile users do and will continue to engage with longer video content when the content interests them. There is no fear of watching longer content on these devices.

“Key data in this report disrupts well-held assumptions that less is always more around optimal video length. Perhaps of equal importance, this Native Video report counters one of the modern myths of digital advertising – that there is a fundamental decline in user attention due to the growth of online feeds, smartphone penetration and the myriad different distractions we face digitally nowadays,” said Dale Lovell, co-founder of ADYOULIKE.

To download the full report, click here.

The post New Native Video Report Sheds Eye Opening Insight appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Could cryptocurrency increase Millennial loyalty engagement, reduce loyalty liabilities?

Do Millennials like loyalty programs? Doubters and disruptors want cryptocurrency in the mix of  redemption options.

But will allowing drivers to pay for vehicle rentals with bitcoin, for instance, entice younger brand ambassadors? Inspire future-forward rewards? Help traditionalists clear miles off their books?

‘Brands will want to tread lightly’

A program that issues another currency only gets value if there’s a tie-in between its program and the crypto-economy, says Dave Van de Walle, managing principal at Metacoin, a marketing and communications consultancy specializing in Bitcoin, crypto and blockchain..

Take Walgreens, for instance. “I get points for shopping there, and that’s great,” Van de Walle says. “When the time comes for me to cash in those points for money at the point of purchase, I’m rather giddy to turn $5 in credits into $5 in whatever I’m buying that day.

“If I’m given the option to toss that into a Bitcoin wallet, that could be compelling,” he continues. The brand partnership could make sense, and the 1-to-1 currency exchange is easy for consumers to understand. “And that doesn’t sound too dissimilar from those apps that round up your purchase and throw it into an investment account.”

‘My antennae are buzzing’

While Millennial men may like cryptocurrency more than magazine subscriptions, the concept of moving miles off liability balance sheets necessarily involves the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and all sorts of legal teams, Van de Walle says.

Brands with miles and points to burn need to cautiously decide whether to enable crypto trades, understanding the choice likely would command the immediate purview of a dozen agencies, Van de Walle says. That is, if the decision made it past the CFO and corporate counsel.

The government’s trying in real time to define cryptocurrency.



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This Strategy Helped the HubSpot Blog Break a Year-Long Traffic Plateau

Presiding over a 10+ year old blog has a lot of unique challenges. There are some days when it seems like we’ve covered all there is to cover, and others when it doesn’t seem like we can possibly keep up with changing trends and technologies fast enough.

From where you sit, it might seem like we’ve figured it all out — we’re one of the largest and most visited B2B blogs on the internet, we have a team of extremely talented and motivated staff writers, and we still manage to find new stories you want to read on a daily basis.

But growth doesn’t just happen — you have to work at it, and then keep working at it.

There isn’t one magical strategy that will keep your blog growing forever. Your approach needs to constantly evolve to fit your changing needs as a property.

When I joined the HubSpot Blog team in 2016, our editorial strategy looked drastically different than it does now.

About once a month, our entire team would gather in a conference room for a brainstorm session. Armed with coffee and spreadsheets full of topic pitches, we’d spend a few hours going around the room, discussing what we wanted to cover for the month. At the end of the meeting, we’d leave with a solid list of articles to get started on.

For a long time, this process served our interests well. Our team developed a keen sense of what our audience wanted to read, and an extensive knowledge of what we’d already covered. But as our property grew and our audience expanded, it became clear that something was missing.

We could no longer manage our archives and identify topic gaps (areas we haven’t yet covered on the blog) by gut feeling alone. Although we had some processes in place to pinpoint gaps and select pieces for historical optimization on an article-by-article basis, none of these methods were scalable or precise enough to keep up with what our readers were searching for — and those issues starting catching up with us.

Rediscovering our momentum meant completely changing the way we plan, write, and optimize content. In March 2018, we started to see the impact of these changes: a new all-time traffic record across our three blogs — Marketing, Sales, and Service — and a renewed sense of purpose for the future. After months of traffic plateaus and uncertainty, we know where we’re headed now — and we’re ready to share our new strategy with you.

The Blog Traffic Plateau of 2017

I won’t sugarcoat it: 2017 was a tough year to be a blogger. Between 2014 and 2016, we’d become accustomed to seeing month-over-month traffic growth without regularly switching up our strategy. When 2017 hit, that line started to flatten out, and then — even more alarming — decline. And it wasn’t just us — Unbounce, Wordstream, and WordPress all saw some form of traffic decrease in 2017.

Traffic to the HubSpot Blog 2014 – 2017

To say we were confused would be an understatement. Up to this point, we thought we’d perfected the formula for sustainable traffic growth: Traffic from existing posts in organic search + new traffic from new posts = steadily increasing traffic, forever … right?

It turns out it wasn’t nearly that simple. Our usual protocol for fixing a slump — changing publishing volume, leaning into more clickable topics, historically optimizing a handful of our heavy-hitting posts — wasn’t having a significant impact. This downward trend wasn’t just a temporary dip in our numbers — it was starting to look like the new normal.

So we did what any good content marketing team would do, and cracked open our reporting dashboards to take a deeper look. Unfortunately, what we discovered after many hours of analysis and many coffees consumed wasn’t comforting. Much like the factors behind the mysterious decline of the bee population, there seemed to be multiple culprits converging to create a disaster.

We’d gone looking for a single root cause, and found several macro trends instead:

1. Social algorithms (and users) love native content.

Social media has long been a (relatively) dependable distribution channel for digital publishers, but recent algorithm changes across multiple social networks increasingly favor native content over links that take users off site. The shift makes perfect sense from the social networks’ perspectives — they want users to spend as much time as possible on their network — but it hurts publishers who depend on social traffic.

2. Conversational search is constantly improving.

Google has gotten a lot better at understanding the intent behind a specific query, and as a result, they’re able to serve up extremely relevant pieces of content to meet your exact query. This is great news if you regularly use a home assistant device, but bad news if you’re a publisher looking to capture organic traffic from multiple long-tail keywords with a single, comprehensive piece of content.

Back in 2012, a post on “The Best Interview Questions” might have appeared as a top result in searches for “great interview questions,” “interview questions to ask an interviewer,” and “what questions to ask during an interview.” But in 2018, those long-tail search queries are more likely to result in entirely different SERPs with entirely different top results. This means many of our “ultimate guides” started ranking for fewer long-tail keywords, resulting in organic traffic losses on some of our most highly-trafficked pieces.

3. Featured snippets and other on-page search features are taking a toll on CTR from SERPs.

You’re probably familiar with Google’s featured snippets: those short lists or paragraphs that appear at the top of a SERP and (usually) directly address your query. In addition to featured snippets, there are also a number of other on-page search features that push a piece of content ranking number one even further down your screen.

While these quick answers have certainly made the search experience faster for users, they’re eating our organic traffic — even on SERPs where we hold the number one organic result. People don’t have any reason to click through to a blog post (even if it’s ranking number one) if the answer they’re seeking is already on the top of the SERP. As a result, fewer users are clicking on the number one organic result. Ahrefs found that on SERPs without a featured snippet, the top result received 26% of clicks. When a featured snippet appeared on the SERP, the top result received only 19.6% of clicks.

None of these were things we could fix with a band-aid solution. These shifts called for a massive overhaul of our editorial strategy, and a completely new way of approaching blogging in general.

Our New Editorial Strategy

While these trends were scary for the future of our blog, they weren’t entirely surprising. We’d been aware for a while that future-proofing for Google algorithm changes meant restructuring our site architecture. Back in late 2016, Leslie Ye had begun the tedious and challenging work of transitioning the blog’s internal linking system into a pillar-cluster model. This move was intended to give us an organized way to understand our content gaps, and a cleaner architecture to help posts rank faster and bring in more organic traffic.

Thanks to a blog redesign project (headed up by Carly Stec) that automated this pillar-clustering process across the entire blog, our 10,000+ posts were neatly sorted into the pillar-cluster model by mid-2017. But our process for planning and writing new content hadn’t fully adjusted to work optimally within this new system. We had a much better understanding of where our content gaps were, but we weren’t filling these gaps systematically — we were still largely guessing when it came to the topics we should be writing about on a monthly basis.

We were also suffering from a lack of foresight: we weren’t planning for the search terms that would be popular a few years or even a few months into the future. This left room for other blogs and publications to capture organic green space that would be essential to our sustained growth down the line.

With this in mind, we made the decision to focus all our efforts behind stabilizing and growing our organic traffic. If our existing content was slowly but surely losing clicks to featured snippets in search, and our new content wasn’t consistently earning as much traffic from promotional channels like social, we needed to offset those losses. And that meant zeroing in on organic green space in a big way.

This led us to create three guidelines we now use to determine what net new content we create:

  1. Does this topic have search volume, or will have search volume in the future?
  2. Does it fit into our pillar-cluster model?
  3. Is it duplicative (is there a piece of content on this topic that already exists)?

If no one is searching for a topic, and we don’t anticipate the search demand to grow in the foreseeable future, there’s no long-term benefit in covering it. At least for our blog, posts created without a clear keyword in mind tend not to produce sustainable traffic after their first month of publication.

To rank these days, your site usually needs both depth and breadth on a topic — in other words, you need to cover a concept or subject at a high level, then dive deeper with specific, detailed posts. Using the pillar-cluster model (more on that here) makes our content much likelier to rank than if we published an individual post that targeted one or two keywords. If a blog post doesn’t fit into an existing cluster, it’s probably not worth our time and energy to write it.

As you can probably imagine, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground in our 10+ years as a blog. Some overlap is inevitable, but writing on the same exact topic more than once — even if the takeaways are ultimately different — can lead to self-competition in the SERPs. And if we’re already ranking highly for a topic, our efforts are better spent creating a piece of content for a SERP we’re not on at all instead of piling on where we already have valuable real estate.

If a topic doesn’t meet these three guidelines, we won’t create content around it. There are a few exceptions of course — The Marketing Blog’s news program (headed up by Amanda Zantal-Wiener) and thought leadership on topics we think our readers need to hear about — but for the most part, this organic-first strategy represents an enormous shift in the way we plan our editorial calendar and create content. Posts created with an organic goal in mind don’t always pay off immediately, but organic is the only type of traffic that can consistently pay off month over month.

The Editorial Process in Action

Adopting an aggressive organic-first approach required a serious mindset change for our team — one that required us to put aside our obsession (some would even say addiction) with quick wins, and instead put our primary focus on sowing seeds for the future. We weren’t going to publish a post with no strategic organic potential, even if we knew it would bring in a satisfying spike in traffic.

Ultimately, the temporary traffic from a quick-win post brought us nothing of value in the long run. To truly grow, we need to keep our eyes on the organic gaps in our pillar cluster model.

A big part of seeding for the future also means educating ourselves on emerging topics: subjects our readers aren’t too concerned with right now but that will eventually become trending search terms, like the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence, or practical applications for blockchain. These are the technologies people will likely be searching for in droves in the future, and we want to get out ahead of the competition and position our blog as a resource right now — and earn the traffic when the search volume spikes.

So how exactly do we select which topics to cover? We’ve talked about the reasons behind our new strategy, now let’s see what this process actually looks like on a quarterly basis.

Stage One: Planning

We’ve partnered internally with our SEO team to create a blog taskforce of sorts, headed up by our former Sales Blog Editor and current Sr. SEO Strategist Aja Frost. Each quarter, Aja conducts in-depth keyword research across our three onsite blog properties (Marketing, Sales, and Service), taking into account both gaps in our existing topic clusters, and emerging topics we haven’t yet thoroughly constructed content clusters around.

The resulting quarterly report includes well over 100 post suggestions broken down by topic clusters for each blog. Here’s what our completed “Advertising” cluster looks like on the report:

Stage Two: Execution

Our Multimedia Content Strategy team handles the creation of each cluster’s pillar page (the long-form piece of content that serves as a broad, foundational resource on the subject), and the Blog team owns the production of the supporting blog articles that delve deeper into specific subtopics. Most of the articles need to be written from scratch, but in some cases, we already have a blog post in existence that just needs to be updated to include a fresher, more exhaustive take on the subject.

SEO optimization has always been a consideration for our team when writing posts, but under this new strategy, its become a top priority. Before a single word is typed on a first draft, our writers already have information from our SEO team on the keyword(s) to target, section titles (H2s) to include, and featured snippet sections to work into the copy.

Here’s an example of a typical article assignment on our editorial calendar:

Targeting featured snippets with consistently formatted sections has removed some (but definitely not all) of the guesswork when it comes to ranking for featured snippets. Matthew Howells-Barby, HubSpot’s Director of Acquisition, has stressed that clean and consistent code is a significant factor in winning snippets.

His team created a simple code our writers can use when formatting sections of copy for paragraph or list snippets. Not only has our team started incorporating featured snippet sections into all our new posts, but we’ve also historically “snippetized” hundreds of posts from our archives to help Google surface them more frequently.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely encountered these snippet boxes before:

While there’s unfortunately not a 100% guaranteed formula to win featured snippets, this method has helped our team capture more than 6,300 featured snippets as of June 2018.

In addition to optimizing our articles more intentionally for featured snippets, we’ve also adopted a more aggressive historical optimization approach in 2018. Our team has had a historical optimization strategy in place for several years now, but it’s been years since we’ve had a full-time human dedicated to making sure our existing content is performing optimally in search.

Braden Becker, a Senior Staff Writer on the Blog team, has taken on the task of monitoring the organic performance and optimization of our 10+ years worth of archives as a full-time responsibility. Each month, Braden works with our SEO team to develop an update strategy that works with the new content clusters we’re producing. He selects posts for updating largely based on their individual monthly organic traffic — “the better they’re performing, the higher the potential benefit once I optimize them,” he explains.

Stage Three: Analyze

Once a month, the Content and SEO teams meet to discuss our progress, dig into the numbers, and plan for the next few weeks. We examine organic traffic numbers across our three blog properties, report on featured snippet attainment and loss, and discuss new ways we can adapt to Google’s ever-changing algorithm.

The biggest shift in our reporting method under our new organic-first strategy has been a mental (and, I’ll say it, emotional) one. Although we still report at a monthly cadence, we’ve had to largely abandon our fixation with month-over-month growth, and instead focus on broader trends over longer periods of time.

When I first joined the Blog team, month-over-month growth was the ultimate goal. If the end-of-month traffic number beat out the previous month, we considered it a success; if that number was in the red — a lost month. No matter what, the slate was wiped clean on the first day of the next month, and we started the race all over again. This short-term mentality led us to become so focused on hitting monthly numbers, we ended up neglecting the bigger picture: our blog’s health and continued growth over time. Enter the traffic plateau of 2017.

Under our new editorial strategy, we’re more focused on seeding for the future — and that means letting go of our monthly traffic goals. An article we publish this month on “How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Virtual Reality” might not have a ton of search volume right now, but we’re betting it will sometime in the future. It might be many months before we see the rewards reflected in our traffic numbers, and we have to be okay with waiting, knowing we’re setting ourselves up well for the future.

As a result of this strategy, our team’s mindset has gone from “We’ll do anything to smash our monthly traffic goals” to “Stick to the plan.”

Getting out in front of future search terms and filling gaps in our existing topic cluster structure will pay off more than watching the monthly traffic numbers rise over a few well-timed, clickable posts.

What challenges is your blog facing? How are you approaching growth in 2018? Talk to us @HubSpot.

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Getting Started With an Ecommerce Business

Starting an ecommerce business is something many people consider, but a much smaller number actually take the plunge. If your idea is strong enough, you’ve tested it, and you’re ready to get up and running, then getting started doesn’t need to be a fraught experience. Key to your ecommerce success and growth is a good grasp of digital marketing, and again, this can seem daunting or overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be.

Ecommerce marketing simply uses the best channels and most effective digital methods for the benefit of your business. Digital marketing is a package of ways to help grow your business, further its reach and raise awareness. As digital marketing becomes more and more technologically advanced, and marketing automation becomes the norm for the most basic tasks, you can focus on drawing in sales and growing your business.

Here we’re looking at what you need to do to promote your ecommerce business and harness all the data available to you to help you succeed.

1.   Know Your Customer

Your customer’s digital experience is entirely down to you. You can deliver and shape the customer journey each person who visits your website experiences, but you need to know them first. Your target customer should be someone you know inside out, and you should do all you can to focus in on their wants and needs.

You can discover all this information through engaging with your customer, using social media to talk directly to them and find their chosen channels for communication and engagement. The more you know about the people you want to sell to, the better you can shape your content and digital presence to suit them.

2.   Know Your Industry

You may already think you know the ins and outs of your business and its field, but more research and analysis can never hurt. In the digital age, everything moves quickly. Any new developments should always be followed and explored in depth.

Likewise, recent history should be fully understood so you can forecast for the future. The better your grasp of the current status of your industry, the easier it is to predict where things may go next. Your strategic plan should make the most of your data and insights.

3.   Know Your Competitors

The wide range of analytics tools out there makes analyzing and understanding your competitors easier than ever before. Pinpointing their strengths and weaknesses gives you something to build from or work towards.

You can examine their social media to see where the small (or large) knowledge gaps lie. It’s in these gaps that you can find your own space and carve out your position in the market where your competitors aren’t already succeeding.

4.   Building Your Digital Presence

Nothing matters more than your digital presence as an ecommerce business. Your website isn’t the be all and end all, but it needs to look its best. It is your virtual shop window and a 24/7 portal for leads and sales for your business. You don’t need to invest thousands to make it appealing but you need to give it your time and attention to succeed.

Design Matters

Designing your website doesn’t necessarily mean bringing in an expensive agency. Design is unique to your business and to get started, you may be able to put something together yourself. Your website is a chance to show off what you’re all about and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to web design.

Keep it simple, get your point across and you can be sure your customers will be keen to find out more. All websites are always in beta so don’t expect perfection, just deliver everything you want in the best way you can, ensuring you update your content regularly.

Don’t Doubt Do It Yourself

There are a wide range of self-serve website tools which allow you to piece together your own design. Ready-made templates exist to let you build a compelling experience with ease. No business in 2018 can get by without a strong web presence. Difficulty creating and managing a proper website shouldn’t be a hurdle if you choose the right tools.

Choosing your Domain

If you’re starting from scratch, then you need to begin by selecting your domain. Without a domain you have nowhere for your website to be held and no way for people to access it. Choosing a domain takes seconds, and within a few minutes, you can have your piece of the internet registered in your name and ready to build.

5.   Consider SEO

An essential part of your digital marketing strategy focuses on SEO. Keywords are key to tapping into business, especially if you’re hoping to attract local customers. SEO evolves as much as every other element of digital marketing, but most people looking to find your products or services will start with a search. In fact, 96% of online experiences begin with a search engine. You want your business to appear near the top of the listings, so it’s much more likely to be clicked.

The key to this is delivering quality, regular content and focusing in on your chosen keywords. 50% of search queries are now four words or longer, so long tail keywords should be your focus when building your SEO strategy. Your keyword mix should be designed to deliver the best possible results. This includes incorporating important local phrases, popular terms for your industry, and more niche long tail keywords.

You can run an ecommerce business without embracing digital marketing, but it won’t go very far. For real success and to tap into the enormous potential customer base online you need to utilize the right digital tools and strategies to push your business forward.

Do you have more suggestions for getting an ecommerce presence off the ground? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

The post Getting Started With an Ecommerce Business appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

6 Best Website Builders for Small Business 2018

Website builders are tools to create websites without the need for programming. They typically provide hosting and a simple interface to design your site. To find 2018’s best website builder, we compared the six top platforms, ranging from simple drag-and-drop builders, like Weebly, Squarespace and Wix, to more robust e-commerce and interactive systems, like WordPress,…

The post 6 Best Website Builders for Small Business 2018 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

How to Start a Business in Australia

Embarking on a new business venture is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. On one hand, you’ll finally be the boss; the master of your own destiny who’s pursuing success in something that you’re truly passionate about. On the other hand, you now have a laundry list of things that you need to tick off before you even start to make sure everything kicks off smoothly.

Whereas working for someone else alleviates these responsibilities, the startup owner takes on all these stresses themselves. Not only that, every country has different laws, regulations and requirements to get your business up and running. So, even if you’ve started a business in one country, you’ve still got to do a pile of research to make sure you do it properly in another.

To help you out in Australia, at least, we’ve put together a list of the main things you need to sort out when starting a business Down Under:

How to Start a Business in Australia

1. Choose your business structure.

The structure you choose for your business is very important, as it has a direct effect on things such as:

  • Your level of control
  • The amount of tax you need to pay
  • Regulatory obligations
  • Health and safety requirements in the workplace
  • The level of personal liability you will incur

There are four structures on which you can build your business in Australia:

  • Sole trader: This is when you register someone (usually, yourself) as the sole owner of the business. That means you’re responsible for all legal aspects of running the business, but you’re entitled to hire people to work for you.
  • Company: This is a commercial business or entity that has a separate legal existence to its shareholders.
  • Partnership: A Partnership is when more than one person and/or entities run a business together, but not in the form of a company.
  • Trust: A Trust is an entity that is in possession of property, income, or any other assets for the benefit of a third party.

Image Source:

You must decide on the structure of your business before you register it, as each structure entails different steps to do so. Along with this, it’s worth noting that you might change the structure of your business as it grows and evolves over time.

2. Pick a business type.

With a structure in place, you can better understand the type of business you’re likely to need. There are a myriad of business types to choose from, and some of the main types include:

  • An online business
  • A franchise
  • Independent contractor

Every industry has a different set of legal obligations and regulatory requirements, so it’s crucial that you pick the business type that best suits your industry.

3. Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and register your business name.

You can’t legally start a business in Australia unless you own an ABN. This is an 11-digit number that is unique only to your business and acts as a government identifier for the business.

Once you’ve got an ABN, you’ll be able to:

  • Register your business name
  • Identify your business to other entities for things like ordering goods and services or sending invoices
  • Claim taxes such as Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Avail of credits for things like energy grants

It’s best to decide on your business name before you go about creating assets like your website URL, logo or any other designs. Otherwise, you’ll need to change everything in the event that your business name changes. If you do create a business logo, it’s worth considering if you need to patent it to protect yourself from copyright infringement.

You can register your ABN and business name separately if you wish, but it’s easier to apply for both at the same time here.

Image Source: Department of Industry, Innovation & Science

4. Register your domain name.

You can only complete this step after you’ve secured your business name and ABN as it’s only possible to get a address if you’re a registered Australian business. The domain name you pick should be related to your business in some way and make it easy for prospective customers to find and recognize.

While you might have the perfect domain to go with a killer business name, you’ll still need to check that someone else hasn’t taken it already. Luckily, there are plenty of sites out there that can help you with that — here’s one of them to give you a head start.

Image Source: Instant Domain Search

Once you’ve found a domain name that isn’t taken, you can go to the .au Domain Administration Ltd (.auDA) website to find links to domain registrars and resellers. Here, you’ll get an idea of how much you’ll have to pay to secure your domain name.

4. Identify your funding source.

If you’re like the majority of new startups, cash flow will be your primary concern. You can have the best business plan in the world, but it won’t be of any use if you don’t have the money to keep the lights on while you’re getting your feet on the ground. With this, it’s important to know what resources are available to make the initial growth period a lot easier.

While there aren’t many government grants to help you start your business, there are plenty of options that are specific to each state. For example, if you’re starting a business in Adelaide, you can apply for a cool $20,000 Small Business Development Fund.

Image Source: Department of Industry, Innovation & Science

There are other grants based on:

  • Taking your idea to market
  • Marketing and sales
  • Buying equipment
  • Importing and exporting
  • Employing people

Check out this page for a full list of grant types that can help fund parts of your venture.

5. Register for the correct taxes.

As the saying goes: “The only certainties in life are death and taxes.” Unfortunately, this is also true if you start a business in Australia – you absolutely must register for the correct taxes to avoid any potential legal implications. The taxes you must register for are dependent on the type of business you choose to start, with some applicable to every type and others only mandatory for certain types.

Some examples include:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) – this is compulsory if your business has a turnover of $75,000 AUD or higher
  • Pay as You Go (PAYG) withholding tax – this is required if you need to withhold an amount for tax purposes, such as paying wages or salaries
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) – if you’re lucky enough to be able to provide perks like a company car to your employees, then you’ll need to register for this

You can get more details on tax types by clicking here.

With the above essentials sorted, you’re almost good to go. But, we do have one last tip for you – starting a business is a tough task that’s made a lot easier if you can find ways to save money and build a solid network of peers and partners to work with.

A great way of doing both is to set up shop in one of Australia’s many coworking spaces. You’ll save a tonne of money on office costs and also open the door to networking opportunities which can lead to other benefits down the line.

Whatever you do and wherever you decide to start your business, we wish you the very best of luck!

Will Mixed Realities Make Mobile Casino Gaming More Appealing

The online casino industry has always been one to embrace change. Ever since the industry was founded on new technology, developers across the sector have been quick to jump on the latest innovations. In fact, many of the leading operators have used innovation as a marketing tool for the best part of a decade. Take, for instance, live dealer casino games. When the idea of using RFID chips and webcams to create realistic games was still fresh, early adopters were able to offer consumers a unique, more immersive experience. As the technology has spread across the industry, the bigger brands have forged relationships with developers to launch their own branded tables and even studios. The result of these collaborations has been a surge in live gaming action and, for those that have invested heavily in it, some clever marketing opportunities.

The Virtual Battle Ground

mobile meetup augmented reality” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by osde8info

Moving towards 2020 and beyond, the live dealer battleground looks set to be replaced by a virtual one. With experts predicting mixed reality tech will be worth $108 billion by 2021, software companies and operators alike are scrambling to utilize the medium. For those entrenched within the gaming sector, virtual reality roulette has already started to flourish, as has poker. However, in a crowded market where brands need an edge, mixed reality slots could be the next USP. Indeed, much like live dealer games separated the top brands from the rest of the pack in 2010, innovative slot games could become an important marketing tool over the next five years. In fact, when you look at the market as a whole, this makes sense. For instance, when you look inside a gaming news platform, this is where you can check online casino reviews. The one thing you’ll notice here is that slots are the main focus.

As well as outlining how many slots and developers are on display, the review sites give users a breakdown of the top titles and even some tips on where to find them. In fact, when you narrow your search and start to look at individual operators, the industry’s focus on slots becomes even more apparent. Indeed, when you read news about Jackpotcity, slots feature heavily within the article, with the company offering hundreds. From an overall rating to the company’s mobile provisions, these reviews give players an acute insight into a casino’s slot gaming options. Why? Well, because they’re the most popular type of game and, therefore, a major selling point. This, in turn, backs up the prediction that virtual and mixed reality slots will be the next innovation to sweep the industry. If that’s the case, the natural question is how this will happen.

A Hierarchy of Ways to Make AR Slots a Reality

Mobile Futures” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by NYC Media Lab

As we know, web augmented reality (AR) is the fastest way of delivering an enhanced reality experience. Within the next decade, this is likely to become the default method for smaller operators due to the lower running costs. For those already running a mobile app with a large database, the most effective answer could be to build an AR module into the preexisting software. The most impressive way to offer AR slots would be to create a separate app. Naturally, this would require a huge amount of time and investment on the part of the software developer and the casino operator. The end result, however, would be easier access, more variety and better quality.

The upshot of this would then be a better marketing opportunity. Just as live dealer technology was the reserve of a few well-off operators a decade ago, the same will be true for mixed reality slots. However, those that do invest in the medium could have a huge edge over their competition. Indeed, with players clearly enthused by anything that makes their games more realistic and engaging, it seems as though it’s more a case of when virtual slots will happen, rather than if.

The post Will Mixed Realities Make Mobile Casino Gaming More Appealing appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Japan’s Ponta points now usable in Indonesia & Malaysia

FROM OUR ASIAN NEWS BUREAU – Points earned from Japan’s Ponta loyalty program have become interchangeable with loyalty currencies in Indonesia and Malaysia, enabling customers to earn and use points when shopping in any of the three countries.

Loyalty Marketing Inc., operator of Japan’s largest non-travel loyalty marketing program – Ponta – has announced a smartphone-based borderless point program for Indonesia’s 20 million Ponta members and Malaysia’s 8 million BonusLink members. Ponta boasts a domestic membership of 86 million in Japan, linking together over 100 million members in the three nations with a common platform for earning and redeeming loyalty points.

Coupled with established partnerships in Taiwan and South Korea, the network now has the potential to reach more than 150 million members across select areas in Asia.

Ponta points have been available in Indonesia through a local partner, PT. Global Loyalty Indonesia, since 2015, and are now used at 15,000 retail outlets such as convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, and education and financial institutions under 75 brands.

In Malaysia, Loyalty Marketing has teamed up with BonusKad Loyalty Sdn. Bhd. since 2016 to make Ponta points interchangeable with those of BonusLink, the most widely used point program in the country and available at 3,000 outlets.

In Taiwan, Eastern Integrated Marketing Inc. has offered a loyalty program under the license of Loyalty Marketing, allowing its 6 million members and counterparts in Japan to earn and use their Ponta points in either market.

Under an alliance with SK Planet Co., which operates South Korea’s largest loyalty program OK Cashbag, 34 million members can earn and use Ponta points during their visits to Japan or they can also bring back those points to use in their home country.

Established in 2008, Loyalty Marketing launched the Ponta loyalty program in 2010 and claims nearly 200,000 partner outlets in Japan.

The current announcement is exciting on several fronts. It’s relatively frictionless, as the member only needs to shop in-network using the smart phone app. The cross-market acceptance will clearly resonate with a growing number of visitors to and from Japan. The behind the scenes platform to handle transaction tracking, transference of payments in different real currencies, and the necessary reconciliation of different point values has blockchain technology written all over it. Finally, it is a shining example of how the coalition loyalty model is still alive and well in specific regions of the world.

Where will Ponta go next?

The post Japan’s Ponta points now usable in Indonesia & Malaysia appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

The Right Way to Measure Content Marketing Success in a Digital World

Content marketing is an effective way to build brand awareness and grow revenue. The evidence is in the sheer volume of companies—including 89% of B2B—that have content marketing programs. But knowing that content marketing is effective and measuring it are two very different things. If you can’t analyze what works and prove its value, the program may not be as successful as you think.

It’s not enough to just create content, send it out into the world, and hope for results. The most successful content marketing programs are those that track essential digital marketing metrics and use them to engage in constant refinement and improvement.

Digital marketing analytics helps marketers understand the value that content marketing brings to a company and its audience. Determine the right metrics to measure; set goals for email marketing, blog posts, and social media marketing; and work from those goals to determine KPIs. With established KPIs, it’s simple to track the right metrics, prove content marketing’s value, and revise campaigns for better results.

4 Steps to Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Analytics

Choosing the right digital marketing metrics to measure is a four-step process:

1. Determine the goals of the program. Some standard goals for digital marketing programs include growing website traffic, generating leads, increasing conversions, engaging audiences, and building brand recognition, credibility, and authority.

Example Goal: Generate more leads.

2. Transform goals into KPI’s. KPIs must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. KPIs must specify exactly what goal you’re trying to achieve (specific), what metrics you’ll track to determine success/failure (measurable), and when you plan to meet the goal (time-bound). The entire team should also agree that the KPI is attainable and realistic.

Example KPI: Generate 100 new leads for sales in the next 90 days.

3. Determine the specific strategy you plan to use to hit the goal and meet the KPI. Some of the more popular digital marketing strategies include email marketing, blogging, and social media marketing.

Example Strategy: Publish new posts to the company blog to promote gated content.

4. Select a relevant metric for each KPI based on the types of campaigns you’re planning to execute.

Example Metric: Track the number of gated content downloads over 90 days, specifically gated content that was promoted with blog posts published during that timeframe.

What you’ll have after completing this exercise is a well-defined execution and measurement strategy for each important marketing goal.

Digital Marketing Analytics for Email Marketing

To find the right email marketing metrics to measure, first determine the goals of the program.

Common email marketing goals include:

  • Building/growing an audience.
  • Engaging that audience or keeping them engaged.
  • Increasing traffic to site content.
  • Driving prospects deeper into the purchasing funnel.
  • Increasing conversions.

After defining specific goals, transform those goals into KPI’s, and choose a metric for measuring progress.

Take building/growing an audience as an example:

  1. The specific goal is to build an audience of your own, to become less dependent on external sources—search, social, and advertising—for getting content in front of prospects and customers.
  2. Define a value that signifies initiatives were successful, such as “grow subscribers by 10%.”
  3. Set a specific timeframe for achieving that goal—“grow subscribers by 10% in the next 90 days.” This becomes the KPI for that goal.
  4. Evaluate the KPI to determine if it’s both attainable and realistic. For example, if subscriber growth rates have been 1% month over month for the last 12 months, 10% growth in three months may be too much of a stretch. The entire content marketing team should review historical metrics and weigh in on whether or not the KPI is realistic and attainable in the established timeframe.
  5. Finally, select a metric to measure to determine success. This goal can be measured by tracking subscriber list growth.

With a SMART KPI and measurement strategy defined, begin executing campaigns designed to grow your subscriber base. Over the 90 days allotted to meeting the goal, keep an eye on progress, and revise the approach as needed. Expand initiatives that have been the most successful in growing subscribers, and abandon those that aren’t producing results.

Keep the following three best practices in mind to form a plan for gathering actionable email marketing analytics:

1. Start with the basic metrics provided by your email marketing platform. All email marketing platforms provide basic analytics. Use subscribe and unsubscribe rates, open rates, and click-through rates as a simple starting point for measuring the effectiveness of email marketing initiatives against established KPIs.

2. Build and track more complex KPIs over time by adopting advanced analytics platforms. Basic metrics are a great starting point, but to truly measure success, you’ll eventually want to set KPIs like “convert 50 prospects from email campaigns in the next six months.” To measure the necessary metrics for this goal, use a marketing automation platform or set up custom campaign tracking in Google Analytics.

3. Remember: important metrics aren’t exclusive to how users interact with emails. Even if subscriber rates are increasing, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you don’t know what content/forms are driving subscriptions. And even if click-through rates are high, time-on-page values could be low, suggesting that content isn’t engaging subscribers. It’s crucial to track both email and website metrics and use them both together to form a holistic picture of success.

3 Key Blog Metrics and How to Use Them

To determine what metrics to track to determine the success of an overall company blog—or even individual posts—start by defining goals.

Common goals of blogging include:

  • Increasing organic traffic from search engines.
  • Generating more leads for sales.
  • Engage new and existing audiences.
  • Driving visitors deeper into the purchasing funnel.
  • Converting leads into customers.
  • Establishing a brand as an expert in its industry.

With goals established, formulate SMART KPIs, and attach those KPI’s to relevant metrics:

KPI Possible Metrics to Track
Increase traffic from organic search by 5% in the next six months ●      Number of sessions that originated from organic search
Generate 100 new leads for sales in the next 90 days ●      Number of gated content downloads

●      Number of free trial subscriptions

●      Number of demo requests

Improve engagement by 10% in the next 30 days ●      Bounce rates

●      Time-on-page rates

●      Time-on-site rates

●      Number of pages-per-session

●      Percentage of returning visitors

Convert leads into customers ●      Goal completions

●      Number of completed transactions

When selecting what metrics to measure, consider tracking the following three key blog metrics to gather relevant insights:

1. Traffic Source: Determine what channels—search, social, email, or referral—drive the most and least traffic to blog content. Low organic search traffic may represent an opportunity to grow traffic with SEO. Low traffic levels from a specific social media site may signify that promotion on that channel isn’t worth the effort you’re putting into it.

2. Average Time on Page: Bounce rates don’t paint a full picture of audience engagement. Sometimes, users bounce because content provided the information they were looking for. Instead, focus more on increasing average time-on-page values. Longer time-on-page values represent higher engagement with blog content.

3. Goal Completions: To track gated content downloads, free trial subscriptions, demo requests, and completed transactions, set up goals in Google Analytics. Goals track visits to specific site URLs—such as thank-you pages that appear after a desired action is completed, enabling tracking of a specific number of downloads, shopping cart purchases, free trial subscriptions, etc.

Remember that it’s not enough to launch a campaign and forget about it until the allocated timeframe has passed. Track progress toward KPIs throughout execution to identify what’s working and what’s not, and use those insights to improve the likelihood of hitting goals.

3 Critical Considerations for Social Media Analytics

To determine what metrics to measure for social media marketing, again, start by defining goals.

Common goals brands hope to achieve with social media marketing include:

  • Boost brand awareness and recognition.
  • Increase traffic to a brand website and its content.
  • Engage with new and existing audiences.
  • Provide customer support.
  • Generate leads and conversions.

Define goals, establish SMART KPIs, and select appropriate metrics to track:

Goal Possible KPIs Possible Metrics to Track
Boost brand awareness and recognition ●      Increase number of followers on Twitter by 25% in the next 90 days

●      Earn 10% more likes on our next 20 Facebook posts

●      Increase share counts on LinkedIn by 15% in the next six months

●      Number of followers

●      Number of likes

●      Number of shares

●      Number of brand mentions

Provide customer support ●      Decrease call center calls by 10% in the next six months

●      Increase support requests by 15% on Facebook Messenger in the next 90 days

●      Respond to all social support requests for the next 30 days within five minutes of receiving a request

●      Call center incoming call counts

●      Number of support requests started and/or completed on social channels

●      Number of clicks on a “Get Support” or “Help” link from a brand website or social media profile

●      Time between submitted questions and customer service replies

Generate leads and conversions ●      Convert 50 prospects in the next 60 days with LinkedIn ads

●      Generate 100 new leads in the next six months by posting updates on social channels and linking to gated content

●      Ad/post clicks

●      Goal conversions

●      Number of content downloads

Social media metrics are notoriously difficult to track because efforts are usually executed across a variety of channels—each with its own built-in analytics platform. To simplify tracking progress toward KPIs on social channels, it may be worth investing in a tool or platform that centralizes social analytics.

When creating your goals and KPIs for social media marketing campaigns, make sure to adhere to the following best practices:

1. Measuring likes and shares isn’t enough. Nearly 60% of all social media posts that link to content are liked, shared, or retweeted without the linked-to content ever being read. To truly determine how effective social promotion efforts are, it’s important to also measure website traffic from social media referrals.

2. Use metrics to find the best channels for your brand. For most content marketing teams, it’s impractical—or impossible—to engage in effective social media marketing across every possible channel. Try a few campaigns on different platforms, and monitor traffic source metrics to see which are working and which aren’t. Over time, narrow efforts down to focus only on the sites that perform well for your brand.

3. Track targeted ad metrics to identify the right audience for each channel. Run some advertising A/B tests to determine a target audience for each channel. For example, run three separate Facebook ads: one targeted to Baby Boomers, one to Gen Xers, and one to Millennials. Measure the results—clicks, likes, and shares—and compare the results between the three ads to find out what age group(s) to target on that platform.

Measuring Success with Digital Marketing Analytics

From a marketing industry perspective, content marketing is considered to be one of the lowest-cost and most effective marketing approaches. But industry statistics and case studies from other businesses’ successes aren’t really enough to prove the value of your content marketing program. To prove value—and provide more value—track the digital marketing metrics that matter for your specific company, campaigns, and goals.

The starting point is defining goals for different campaigns on different channels. Once goals are defined, brainstorm ways to meet those goals, develop SMART KPIs, and identify important metrics to track to evaluate progress and success. With KPIs and key metrics defined up front, it’s simple to see what’s working and what isn’t. Use those insights to improve campaigns and increase the likelihood that goals are met.

Are there any content marketing metrics you measure that I didn’t mention? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post The Right Way to Measure Content Marketing Success in a Digital World appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Don’t Ever Trust Google With Your Life

So for those of you don’t know, I have a 3-year-old daughter (her name is Harper). Here is her hand:

When she was an even littler girl then she is now, she got pink eye. Bekah and I spent a bunch of time googling and calling around doctors offices and urgent cares trying to find out where you take a tiny kid, with pink eye, at 5 pm on a weekday. After spending a few minutes searching around, in total dad mode, I said fuck it and just took her to the ER at Hoag hospital. First kid, first time I didn’t know what to do -> first ER visit. But I will never forget struggling trying to figure out what I should do via the internet. And I’m pretty good at the Google.

So imagine how many scared people, parents or otherwise, turn to a Google search to get quick, accurate information so that they can make informed choices about their medical care. Sadly, all those people are misplacing their trust, just like I was.

Your Money or Your Life

As many of know, Google has quality rater guidelines for the people who go through and manually rate websites. These guidelines, which you can find here, have a callout section for “Your Money or Your Life” search queries. Here is what they say about pages that target users money or life:

Apparently, the type of pages that require a “very high Page Quality” don’t include Google My Business profile pages, because the profile pages and local pack results for emergency medical services (EMS) are often a dumpster fire.

If you are going to provide users with local businesses for EMS searches, then you have to be on it 99.9% of the time. IMHO, some of the results I’m going to show you are the most ethically and morally negligent thing to come out of Google in a while. And I say this as a Jew who doesn’t think holocaust denier sites should rank #1 for “Did the Holocaust happen?” and related queries.

Alright, enough of the soapbox, on to the evidence.

Exhibit 1: ‘Pediatric Hospital’

A few weeks ago this was the local pack result for the search term ‘pediatric hospital’ when searching from my house:

This is the vaunted jOE’s pediatric hospital

Yes, you see this correctly.

The #1 search result in a local pack for “pediatric hospital” is a spam listing for someone’s house.

But it’s even worse, as the second result isn’t any better. Dr. Timothy K. Flannery, MD is probably a fantastic pediatrician, with rights at a pediatric hospital; however, that result is entirely useless for someone looking for the nearest pediatric hospital.

And Nexus Children’s Hospital, despite having ‘hospital’ in the name, is a small practice that doesn’t provide emergency medical services.

This SERPs is a complete strikeout in terms of providing relevant search results for something more precious to a lot of people than their own lives, their kid’s life.

Now, on to the chaser. I live in Orange County, CA. We have an award-winning pediatric hospital (Children’s Hospital of Orange County aka CHOC). Where do you think CHOC ranks here?

If you guessed in the #4 spot just outside the pack, well, get yourself a cookie, on me:

And check out those distances. Google displayed further, less relevant search results, then the top tier pediatric hospital less than 8 miles away from me.

Let’s not even get into the fact that Hoag (my local hospital) isn’t even in the results at all.

That would have been a much more relevant result then any of the 3 Google decided to surface. Big shout out to The Hawk aka Joy Hawkins for helping me get jOE’s hospital removed so an actual pediatric hospital can be 1/3 of the results.

Exhibit 2: “Children’s Hospital”

Here is what I get for ‘childrens hospital’

Hey, at least CHOC is the first two results, right? Wrong! The first result is excellent, the main campus of a renowned children’s hospital should rank #1 for “childrens hospital.” The second result is a clinic that doesn’t provide emergency medical services, so not a good search result.

The third result again underscores the problem with an algorithmic ranking of EMS providers. It’s the St. Jude’s fundraising office. It shows up in the search result instead of an actual medical provider. This is likely because it is attached to a relevant entity for ‘children’s hospital’ and is slightly closer to me, regardless that it provides 0 medical services (emergency or otherwise).

Oh, also it’s categorized as a Children’s Hospital despite not providing medical services at the facility:

Add medical providers to the list of businesses that don’t have to follow Google’s Guidelines for Representing your Business

It sucks that I couldn’t get emergency medical services for my daughter, but hey, at least I could choose a locksmith with confidence, amirite?

Exhibit 3: “Hospital Near Me”

Here are the results for “hospital near me”

hospital near me

Literally, none of these are hospitals.

This is the Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine:

I’m sure it’s a good holistic doctors office, but it’s a terrible search result for “hospital near me.”

In fact, the nearest full-service hospitals to me (Hoag & South Coast Global) are both under 5 miles away and are sitting pretty at #5 & #7 in the local finder:

The third closest hospital to me is 4.5 miles away and not even in the finder top 8.

But what’s really important is that Google could monetize this SERP by selling ad space to an urgent care up top. Because priorities.

Again, this one has a chaser. Of those eight results in the local finder, 3 of them are fake/spam listings:

House Call Physicians

Long Beach, Memorial Ca

The Heathers B&C

So let’s recap. When I search “hospital near me”:

  • There are no EMS providers/hospitals in the pack
  • The closest hospitals are ranking #5 & #7 in the local finder
  • There are three fake listings in the top 8 results in the local finder
  • There is an add for an urgent care at the top of the local finder

It’s pretty obvious the opioid epidemic has hit both the humans and algorithms in charge of these SERPs.

Exhibit 4: “Hospital”

So look, the search query “hospital” in my area is just as borked as all the other queries I have shown you. The nearest and second nearest full-service hospitals don’t show in local search results. Rather than dumping more of the same on you, I wanted to branch out and show how this query is performing in a different geographic area.

This one is a doozy.

My brother-in-law is a swank, sexy murse who diligently provides medical services to the residents of Flagstaff, Arizona at Flagstaff Medical Center (a full-service hospital). I asked him to do a search for ‘hospital’ while at work and send me the results. They are totally craptastic:

mobile search flag

The children’s department ranked #1 for the generic query of “hospital” while in the actual main hospital itself is nowhere to be found. On top of that, the second result is a rehab center, and the 3rd result is totally equipped to help with all those x-ray’s & MRIs and CAT scans…

Too bad none of them can provide emergency medical services.

My BIL’s takeaway is pretty on point:

Seriously, never thought of it but that’s a social safety issue imho

You know who nails this search? Yelp! And Flagstaff isn’t even a major metropolitan area. It’s a sleepy mountain town with a public university.

Yelp also has a better result for ‘hospital’ when searching in Cosa Mesa as well. Two actual hospitals (though they aren’t in proximity order, Hoag is about half a mile closer).

So, at least when it comes to EMS search queries, Yelp has Google beat in both major, and minor-outlaying, metros.


Google has a responsibility to fix this.

They have employees who know that these search results are bad, and they also have employees that understand that people rely on these search results. They are actively monetizing them, despite them being objectively horrid search results. All while claiming that they have special scrutiny regarding peoples money & lives.

They can do better than this.

The problem is there is no real meaningful financial incentive for them to fix this problem. There isn’t a lot of ad revenue to be had unless they radically change their local product around. That single paid position on top of the local finder (and a smattering of pack ads and local service ads) aren’t even a drop in the bucket for their yearly earnings. They would have to radically change their local SERPs to increase their ability to monetize.

On top of that, a lot of the problems I surface are a direct outcropping of using programmatic methods to solve potentially life and death search queries. All of the work Google is doing to make the internet “safer” revolves around HTTPs and the migration to a secure web. They are pure homo economicus, they are operating where solving a potential social problem can make them huge windfalls of cash (or protect their dominant market share around paid internet ads and search). There are no windfalls to be had here, just scared people turning to search results looking for information about emergency medical services.

There are potentially two ways they can effectively deal with this:

First, they could disclaim their EMS local search results (and frankly all emergency medical search results) by telling people:

If you think you have a medical emergency stop searching and call 911

Their emergency medical search results are not referrals to EMS services.

If they can put up a message about insecure webforms, or not let you access sites with invalid HTTPs certificates, then they can certainly prevent you from visiting not-a-hospital by telling you that these results are not to be trusted (rather then that they get special scrunity.)

Second, is making hospital and related categories a “protected” category where there is manual verification required. This is relatively similar to the advanced verification process but would deal predominately with existing businesses. I think this would be pretty effective as a lot of the problems with the results I’m pointing out could be dealt with by making sure businesses are properly categorized (and deprioritizing the importance of hospital in the business name). The only problem is this is a manual solution, which Google doesn’t really like adopting.

Whatever they do, they need to figure it out. It’s been going on for far too long.



The post Don’t Ever Trust Google With Your Life appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

Decision Trees: The Simple Tool That'll Make You a Radically Better Decision Maker

When faced with an important decision, there are a variety of informal methods you can use to visualize various outcomes and choose an action — perhaps you talk it out with a colleague, make a pros and cons list, or investigate what other leaders have done in similar situations.

Particularly when it comes to marketing, this can feel risky — what if my colleague is so attached to a new product, she doesn’t want to mention any of its shortcomings? What if my marketing team doesn’t mind office growth, but they haven’t considered how it will affect our strategy long-term?

Sometimes, you can’t make a decision properly without introducing a formal decision-making method. In cases like those, you might need a decision tree.

The visual element of a decision tree helps you include more potential actions and outcomes than you might’ve if you just talked about it, mitigating risks of unforeseen consequences. Plus, the diagram allows you to include smaller details and create a step-by-step plan, so once you choose your path, it’s already laid out for you to follow.

Here, we’ll show you how to create a decision tree and analyze risk versus reward. We’ll also look at a few examples so you can see how other marketers have used decision trees to become better decision makers.

Decision Tree Analysis

Let’s say you’re deciding whether to advertise your new campaign on Facebook, using paid ads, or on Instagram, using influencer sponsorships.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume both options appeal to your ideal demographic and make sense for your brand.

Here’s a preliminary decision tree you’d draw for your advertising campaign:

As you can see, you want to put your ultimate objective at the top — in this case, Advertising Campaign is the decision you need to make.

Next, you’ll need to draw arrows (your branches) to each potential action you could take (your leaves).

For our example, you only have two initial actions to take: Facebook Paid Ads, or Instagram Sponsorships. However, your tree might include multiple alternative options depending on the objective.

Now, you’ll want to draw branches and leaves to compare costs. If this were the final step, the decision would be obvious: Instagram costs $10 less, so you’d likely choose that.

However, that isn’t the final step. You need to figure out the odds for success versus failure. Depending on the complexity of your objective, you might examine existing data in the industry or from prior projects at your company, your team’s capabilities, budget, time-requirements, and predicted outcomes. You might also consider external circumstances that could affect success.

In the Advertising Campaign example, there’s a 50% chance of success or failure for both Facebook and Instagram. If you succeed with Facebook, your ROI is around $1,000. If you fail, you risk losing $200.

Instagram, on the other hand, has an ROI of $900. If you fail, you risk losing $50.

To evaluate risk versus reward, you need to find out Expected Value for both avenues. Here’s how you’d figure out your Expected Value: take your predicted success (50%) and multiply it by the potential amount of money earned ($1000 for Facebook). That’s 500.

Then, take your predicted chance of failure (50%) and multiply it by the amount of money lost (-$200 for Facebook). That’s -100.

Add those two numbers together. Using this formula, you’ll see Facebook’s Expected Value is 400, while Instagram’s Expected Value is 425.

With this predictive information, you should be able to make a better, more confident decision — in this case, it looks like Instagram is a better option. Even though Facebook has a higher ROI, Instagram has a higher Expected Value, and you risk losing less money.

While the Advertising Campaign example had qualitative numbers to use as indicators of risk versus reward, your decision tree might be more subjective. For instance, perhaps you’re deciding whether your small startup should merge with a bigger company. In this case, there could be math involved, but your decision tree might also include more quantitative questions, like: Does this company represent our brand values? Yes/No. Do our customers benefit from the merge? Yes/No.

To clarify this point, let’s take a look at some diverse decision tree examples.

Decision Tree Examples

The following example is from SmartDraw, a free flowchart maker:

Example One: Project Development

Here’s another example from Become a Certified Project Manager blog:

Example 2: Office Growth

Here’s an example from Statistics How To:

Example 3: Develop a New Product

To see more examples or use software to build your own decision tree, check out some of these resources:

Remember, one of the best perks of a decision tree is its flexibility. By visualizing different paths you might take, you might find a course of action you hadn’t considered before, or decide to merge paths to optimize your results.

4 Things We Want to Know After Reading Mary Meeker's 2018 Internet Trends Report

Each year, marketers, tech writers, and overall online enthusiasts await the release of the 2018 Internet Trends Report: an annual presentation by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker, covering the year’s most pivotal statistics and trends in the online realm.

The report, while citing key data points — growth in certain areas of internet use, online shopping trends, and indicators of the future of the workplace — is exhaustively comprehensive. Meeker leaves no stone unturned, identifying numerous pivotal areas where online user behavior is changing, and where investors, marketers, and others should take note.

The full presentation — which took place earlier this week at the 2018 annual Code Conference — can be viewed here.

And even though Meeker’s report covers an impressive amount of ground, the information and insights it contains often end up raising additional questions. If the current is true of X, then what does the future look like for Y?

Here are a few key questions we have about the 2018 Internet Trends Report — and what the future of tech looks like.

4 Questions We Have About Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

1. The time internet users spend online has increased, but when it comes to the number of new internet users, growth has significantly slowed. Does the future of growth reside in ways for people to connect, rather than getting more people online?

According to Meeker’s report, 2017 saw 3.6 billion internet users globally: a total that amounts to more than half of the world’s population.

“When markets reach [the] mainstream,” she writes, “new growth gets harder to find — evinced by 0% new smartphone unit shipment growth in 2017.”

In other words, with the internet becoming more accessible to more people, growth among new users slows. However, among those who are online, the time spent there has increased.

Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

“It seems like we’ve reached a point where more internet users would require a greater investment in infrastructure, especially in underserved or underdeveloped regions,” says HubSpot Social Media Editor Henry Franco.

It’s what HubSpot Head of SEO Victor Pan says is called the “last mile problem”: a term often used for supply chain or transportation to describe the final leg in the process of delivering a good or service to end consumers. That “last mile,” as the saying goes, is typically the least efficient step and said by some to be the most expensive part of the delivery process.

It applies to global internet access, Pan says, “because getting the internet to the last part of that population is really expensive,” largely because of its location in areas that are what he describes as “far and sparse.”

Where any product is available in a limited capacity, costs increase. “The remaining areas of the world without internet access are likely less able to afford it,” Pan explains. “In that case, you see the overall growth of internet users slowing down.”

What we’ll end up seeing, Franco predicts, “is a greater investment in more ways to connect existing users, rather than getting new users online.”

But even so, focusing innovation on new ways to connect people, rather than getting more of the population connected in the first place, is not without drawbacks, he says. “That could exacerbate skill, knowledge, and privilege gaps that already exist as a result.”

2. If the answer to Question 1 is “yes,” could this trend be a “golden ticket” for emerging technology like virtual reality, which has struggled to get a strong foothold in consumer and business markets alike? 

“Let’s assume the answer is ‘yes,'” Pan says. “The golden ticket isn’t actually virtual reality … but rather, a decreased cost for internet access as competition and alternatives increase.”

So the future of growth, then, could be less about the new ways the large volume of people who are already online will start to connect (or the emerging technologies that will support them) — and more about better options for access.

It brings up the question of technology like 5G, which, while considered emerging, is more concerned with better connectivity options than the more niche tools — see: VR — that are “added benefits” of being online.  

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, for instance, 5G dominated many of the discussions and presentations, with multiple mobile device manufacturers and wireless providers battling to be the top provider of this new type of connectivity. The “G” stands for generation, in that this is the fifth generation of this type of connectivity. Currently, 4G powers cellular connectivity like LTE. 

Its goal, fittingly, is to support the rising number of mobile internet users, by providing better speed, handling more data, greater responsiveness, and connectivity to smart devices.


Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers


Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

And while developing new technology to improve the experience of a growing mobile-first base is crucial, Pan wonders if even that’s moving too far ahead of the “last mile” too quickly.

“Most of the people reading this report, I imagine, are in first-world countries and take 4G granted,” he says. “Most of the world connects to a 3G connection — which may lead to poor mobile video streaming experiences, because it’s cost-prohibitive. Costs need to come down for user behavior to change.”

3. Meeker speaks to the “privacy paradox”: that as innovation becomes a broader channel for growth, it involves a higher degree of personalization that can inevitably require personal user data. Can there be innovation with regulation?

Data privacy has been a widely-discussed and contested topic as of late, ranging from revelations of personal Facebook data misuse by third parties, to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force last month.

Often, this personal data is used for a purpose that the name suggests: a personalized experience. Facebook, as the company’s executives have long used as a defense, leverages data and information provided by users to personalize the ads and other content they see in the News Feed, for example.

But as the subject of data privacy becomes more front-and-center, especially amid these current events, many consumers are debating the value of privacy over a personalized experience. Meeker calls this the “privacy paradox.”

“Many usability improvements are based on data – collected during the taps/clicks/movements of mobile device users,” writes Meeker. “This creates a privacy paradox … Internet Companies continue to make low-priced services better, in part, from user data. Internet Users continue to increase time spent on Internet services based on perceived value. Regulators want to ensure user data is not used ‘improperly.’”


Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

The possibility of regulating personal data (and the Big Tech companies that are often in possession of it) within the U.S. has also been a frequent topic of discussion this year, regardless of how likely it actually is. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in two days of hours-long hearings in April, and appeared before European Parliament in May. 

But regardless of what these appearances are worth, they do raise the question: Can there be innovation with regulation?

“Meeker’s slides tell a compelling story about the lack of general adaptability of U.S. laws towards tech,” says Franco. “Our data laws are more than 43 years out of date — especially as compared to Japan, Korea, and the EU, which have all gotten updates in the last year or so.”


Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Pan, for his part, says that there’s a global struggle to find a balance of the two. 

“There two ends of the spectrum,” he explains. “One, the government has a hand in all that private data — like China, or even the U.S. with the PRISM program,” the latter being the collection of online communication activity by the National Security Agency, which made headlines when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information on the program and was forced to flee the country.

On the other end of the spectrum, Pan says, there are regions like the European Union, “where data privacy is heavily regulated to protect consumers.”

So, is there a balance — a middle ground along this spectrum — in the future?

“I think there will be innovation there,” says Pan. “I can imagine web hosting companies collecting, handling, and keeping personally identifiable information secure and data privacy compliant to their respective countries — for a price.”

The idea of “data protection for a price” is not new, nor is it tremendously popular, according to our research. When we surveyed a panel of 893 consumers — almost evenly divided among the U.S., UK, and Canada — to find out how many would pay for an ad-free version of Facebook, 64% said “no.”

But knowing how this will impact innovation and the industry at-large, Franco explains, would require a side-by-side comparison of what these varying levels of regulation look like — especially in the months following GDPR coming into force.

“That would make a really interesting case study,” he says, “on the impact on innovation of self-regulation, versus government regulation of tech companies.”

4. What, if any, is the psychological impact of the growing amount of time we spend online?

Finally, we revisit the trend of those who are already online spending more time there. According to Meeker’s report, the average number of daily hours with digital media (among online adults) increased 4% in 2017.

The debate over disconnecting is also not new. As we spend more time on our devices, there’s a market for getting away from them, with some organizations advertising, essentially, digital detoxes for hire.

This growing amount of time online is particularly true of time spent on social media, according to the report, with the average global daily minutes spent on such networks increasing by 50% between 2012 and 2017 — for users ranging as young as 16, and as old as 64.


Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

It begs the question: What is the psychological impact of this behavior?

“A lot of teens who come to me for therapy often cite social media as a source of stress,” says Laurie Paul, Ph.D., a psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area. “Many of them talk about inter-personal conflicts with peers that are started or intensified by posts on social media.”

This phenomenon, Dr. Paul explains, has real-life consequences.

“I’ve had many teens talk to me about experiencing bullying from peers on social media, and that this causes a lot of anxiety,” she says. “Skipping school, changing friend groups, entire school years ruined — because of being a target of bullying on social media.”

It’s not limited to teens, either. When I asked Dr. Paul if she’s observed similar effects among adults, the answer was, “Yes.”

“I’ve also seen conflicts among young adults that started on social media,” she elaborates. “For example, around Father’s Day, I had several clients who were upset, because one of their siblings posted about how wonderful their father was, but in actuality, the father abandoned the family or was abusive.”

Again, this online (specifically, social media) behavior had real-life implications.

“These posts led to resentment, feeling invalidated, and sparked conflict with the sibling who made the post,” Dr. Paul explains. “Sometimes, it sparked broader conflict and taking sides among several members of the family.”

So with this concentrated amount of time spent on social media being a fairly recent phenomenon — with the most explosive growth, it seems, having taken place over a period of only five years — what are the possible long-term impacts?

“I can only hypothesize. I teach college classes, too, in addition to my clinical practice, and I’ve observed short attention spans,” says Dr. Paul. “I wonder if this is related to students spending a lot of time online and being able to rapidly click until they find something interesting.”

Until next year’s report — we’ll continue to observe the gradual impact of these trends, and how they evolve.

Featured image attribution: By Jasveer10 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original