23 Bar Promotion Ideas From Experts

Bar owners can attract customers through various bar promotions, such as live local band performances, other on-site events, giveaways, and online marketing. Effective marketing techniques are critical for any bar’s long-term growth. We reached out to professionals across several industries and asked them to share their most successful bar marketing techniques. Here are the top…

The post 23 Bar Promotion Ideas From Experts appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Last minute Black Friday tips

The Super Bowl of sales is almost upon us, but wait, you haven’t planned how you are going to promote your Black Friday sale. Well don’t worry because SMS marketing is such a powerful and simple marketing tool, it will take you no time at all to tell all your customers about your Black Friday sale and start those sales rolling in.

The great thing about SMS marketing is how easy it is to use. It doesn’t require you to create any elaborate images like an email, or add any complicated HTML for your website, you can pretty much type your message, select your contact group, set your sender ID, and click send – a very simple 4 step process.

So why is SMS marketing a perfect fit for Black Friday?

By sending your customers a text message you will almost guarantee your message is read, and with smartphones being just as capable of online shopping as a computer or laptop, then the process from sending a message, clicking the link on a mobile phone, and searching your website is smoother and better than ever before.

There is no need after your customers have read your message to go to a computer and purchase, it can all be done from your customers smartphone.

With this in mind, to help you get the most out of your Black Friday sale we have added our 4 top tips below.

Tip 1 – Send your customers an SMS
If you haven’t started your Black Friday sale, as soon as it starts, send all your customers a text message telling them it has started, what they could buy, how much they could save, and how they can buy your products.

Even if your sale has already started, some of your customers may not be aware of it, they may be ready to shop elsewhere, so again send them a message telling them that your Black Friday sale is live and is better then everyone else’s.

“Black Friday Begins – Our huge Black Friday Sale has begun, so if you are looking for a wide range of gadgets with huge savings of up to 60% off, come visit is us in store or shop online at www.link.com”

Tip 2 – Send your customers an SMS on Black Friday
Of course you want to tell your customers about your offer on Black Friday, millions of pounds are spent in the UK alone on the day.

Remember though because it is such a big event, pretty much every business is running a Black Friday sale, so you may need to think out of the box to get people to come to your store or shop online. A simple prize giveaway along with the massive savings could be the trick.

“Black Friday is here, so come and visit us in store or online and save up to 40% off everything www.link.com. We also have a hook a duck game in store where you could win a £200 voucher along with other prizes.”

Tip 3 – Don’t forget Cyber Monday
It’s not just all about Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a huge day as well with £968 Billion being spent in 2015 and £1.1 Billion being spent in 2016, (Source: The Mirror) with Cyber Monday in 2017 thought to be even more.

Whether you are doing a separate Cyber Monday sale or your Black Friday sale is just extending to the Monday, sending your customers a text message on Cyber Monday is a must.

“Just because it’s not Black Friday anymore doesn’t mean you can’t save. Our Cyber Monday sale is on and you can continue to save up to 30% on all online purchases www.link.com”

Tip 4 – Send your customers an SMS on the last day of your sale
This is a must for all your sales, on the last day of your sale send your customers a text message informing them that they only have a matter of hours to make a purchase and save money. This is a great way to get those last few sales and nudge people who may have forgotten when your sale is ending.

“Our Black Friday sale is ending tonight at 12:00pm, so make sure you purchase before then and save up to 50% of selected products www.link.com”


If you haven’t already got an SMS account, sign up now and get set up and sending in a matter of minutes. Or if you would like any advice on your Black Friday sale, then give us a call on 0117 205 0202.

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The Ultimate Guide to Cryptocurrency

When I first heard of cryptocurrency, I thought it was similar to PayPal or Venmo … a simple, digital exchange of money. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that cryptocurrency wasn’t only a digital exchange, but an exchange of a completely new currency.

I could hardly wrap my mind around it. I was this emoji personified: 🤯.

How could a brand new (albeit invisible) currency work? What could you buy? Did people actually accept it? What stopped people from not believing in it?

I had lots of questions … and I still do. Cryptocurrency is a complex, ever-changing topic that affects consumers, investors, and business owners alike. Below, we tackle some of those questions and highlight the most important aspects of cryptocurrency. By the end, you should have enough of an understanding to chime into those dinner party conversations with a fact or two.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. Since its conception in 2009, which occurred in response to the banking crisis and housing market crash, hundreds of other cryptocurrencies have been created … and have failed.

Your Cryptocurrency Dictionary

Before we dive into the world of cryptocurrency, let’s review a few key terms frequently used in this guide and when discussing the concept.


Altcoins is slang for “alternative coins.” Altcoins refer to every other cryptocurrency besides Bitcoin.


All cryptocurrency transactions are recorded on the blockchain, a public record used to verify digital currency transactions and prevent scams. Transactions are recorded on blocks, and a new block is added to the chain roughly every 10 minutes. We explain blockchain further in the video below.


Cryptography refers to the act of writing in or deciphering a code. Cryptography (where we get the “crypto” in cryptocurrency) is a type of mathematics that creates secure transactions and online environments, i.e. “encrypted” accounts or currency.


Fiat currency is paper money like the US dollar or Euro.


Cryptocurrency mining is a proof-of-work (PoW) system where miners solve math problems to validate every cryptocurrency transaction. These minters get cryptocurrency in exchange for their time and resources. These complicated mathematical calculations also increase the security, transparency, and value of cryptocurrency. Mining is only one way — the hardest way — to obtain cryptocurrency. The reward for solving these math problems varies per currency but is more profitable than any other method (besides an outright purchase).


Nodes are computers that are part of the global cryptocurrency blockchain network. They serve to verify transactions recorded on the blockchain. Even if one node attempted to validate an incorrect transaction, the transaction wouldn’t go through as they require multiple validations (and that node would be disconnected) … making cryptocurrency a virtually incorruptible network.

Private Key

A private key is a secure “password” that gives cryptocurrency owners access to their wallets. Each wallet has its own private key, and without it, users couldn’t access their coins.

Public Address

A public address is similar to an email or physical house address. (It looks like this: 1GV5Vye4LCfpkM9V5oFSQsZk8kq2vBxvCK.) To send cryptocurrency, you simply need the recipient’s public address. It’s the only public-facing piece of data on the blockchain, and each transaction uses a unique address.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Cryptocurrency by Feature

Both support and speculation exist in the world of cryptocurrency. Some hate it, some love it, and most are confused by it. It’s a brand new concept that sparks a whole barrage of questions and concerns.

Below, we explain the core features of cryptocurrency and the positive and negative perspective of each.





Security Cryptocurrency transactions are secure and private, creating valuable anonymity despite their very public (yet non-identifying) validation method on the blockchain. Security, privacy, and anonymity make it easy to use cryptocurrency for less-than-legal purposes.
Affordability Cryptocurrency has low transaction costs and in-between fees you might find at banks or payment gateways. Cryptocurrency isn’t accepted by everyone, which could cancel out its affordability altogether.
Volatility The volatility of cryptocurrency can yield a high-reward (high-risk) investment. Due to its volatility, cryptocurrency turns many people off from investing … which could lower its value over time.
Decentralization Cryptocurrency isn’t regulated or valued by a financial institution or central government, which eliminates the middleman, a penchant for corruption, and creates a truly global currency. It’s monitored by a peer-to-peer internet protocol. Many people relate cryptocurrency to the Silk Road … such a decentralized, deregulated asset couldbe used for both legal and illegal purposes. There’s also no way to recover lost coin.
Digitalization Cryptocurrency doesn’t deal in physical coin or paper money, leaving little room for loss, theft, or misuse. Cryptocurrency is purely digital, and you can’t recover lost coin or repeal validated transactions. The “invisibility” of cryptocurrency can also make it hard to trust.

Cryptocurrency isn’t inflationary — there’s a set amount that can be mined and circulated.

Cryptocurrency will likely never become a central currency because of its non-inflationary, inflexible elements.
Creation Cryptocurrency is released through mining, which anyone can do with the proper resources — a computer and internet. Cryptocurrency mining consumes a ton of energy and resources.. (In fact, miners are on track to use more energy than Argentina.)

How is Cryptocurrency Created?

Cryptocurrency is released into the economy through the process of mining, as we defined above. But how do these digital coins become a legitimate currency in the first place?

Cryptocurrency creation depends on three main things:

  1. A community of people who believe in the purpose of the coin and network … and who will eventually mine and evangelize it
  2. A code to create and encrypt the software and blockchain network on which the currency will operate (which is relatively easy as most cryptocurrencies are based on the open source code of Bitcoin available on Github)
  3. The confidence of merchants to value and do business with the currency, further building trust among consumers, investors, and the general public

There’s obviously a lot more that goes into creating a cryptocurrency, but these are the main three elements that lead to its legitimacy and acceptance. Third parties like WalletBuilders also offer to create cryptocurrency for you.

Creating Your Own Cryptocurrency

Nowadays, a lot of businesses are creating their own cryptocurrencies — through a crowdfunding process known as an initial coin offering (ICO). ICOs are when startups raise money by creating their own digital token that can be spent on current or future products or services.

Companies who participate in ICOs exchange their token for established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some ICO investors keep their tokens for future use or trade them on cryptocurrency exchanges as they would stock.

To learn more about creating or investing in an IPO, check out our guide here.

Types of Cryptocurrency

As of today, there are over 2,500 active cryptocurrencies, most of which serve as more than a simple payment system. Below we’ll review a four of the most popular, listed from oldest to newest.

1. Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) is the first and most famous cryptocurrency. It’s been around for almost 10 years and has been hailed as the “digital gold” of the industry.

Today, 1 BTC is equal to $4,087.63 USD. There are currently 17,433,962 BTC in circulation, and the max supply is 21 million BTC.

Psst. Read more about Bitcoin in our ultimate guide here.

2. Litecoin

Created in 2011, Litecoin (LTC) was introduced as the “silver” to Bitcoin’s “gold.” It was intended to be used as a lighter, more nimble currency for everyday transactions. Litecoin is a replica of Bitcoin, just on a much smaller scale — it’s faster to mine, holds a smaller value, has a greater market cap, and operates on a much more flexible algorithm.

Today, 1 LTC is equal to $32.42 USD. There are currently 59,665,588 LTC in circulation, and the max supply is 84 million LTC.

3. XRP by Ripple

XRP is the cryptocurrency released by Ripple. Founded in 2012, Ripple was formed to expedite and improve cross-border payment transfers and the global payments system as a whole. The company itself is more of a network to process IOUs, and XRP serves as a currency transfer tool and token against spam — the currency itself holds no real value ( meaning you can’t buy anything with it).

Ripple designed XRP to function on a unique blockchain that validates its transactions over 200 times faster than Bitcoin. XRP also requires no mining — the only way to attain the currency is to purchase it on a cryptocurrency exchange.

Today, 1 XRP is equal to $0.370595 USD. There are currently 40,762,365,544 XRP in circulation, and the max supply is 100 billion XRP.

4. Ether by Ethereum

The Ethereum network hosts both a decentralized computer system and payment system, through its main token, Ether (ETH), along with a handful of others. Ether can be traded as a cryptocurrency, but it’s more commonly used to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network.

Launched in 2015, Ethereum uses blockchain to replace centralized computing systems (like Google, Apple, and Amazon) that regulate, censor, and control user data on their applications. A decentralized network gives power back to the users and removes the security risk of a centralized system. Along with payment transactions, Ethereum also processes and validates programs and contracts, such as insurance payouts. Ethereum’s average block mining time is 12 seconds.

Today, 1 ETH is equal to $117.59 USD. There are currently 103,925,546 ETH in circulation, with no set limit on its total coin supply.

Other top cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin Cash (price: $207.34 USD), EOS (price: $2.66 USD), Stellar (price: $0.124446 USD), and Tether (price: $1.02 USD).

How to Get and Store Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency can either be earned or purchased. You can earn cryptocurrency, by mining it or completing tasks in exchange for it.

You can purchase cryptocurrency in a few different ways. For one, you can invest in an ICO (as we explained above). You can also purchase cryptocurrency from another individual through sites like LocalBitcoins.

The easiest (and arguably most secure) way to buy cryptocurrency, though, is on an exchange like Coinbase or GDAX. Cryptocurrency exchanges simply require fiat money to make the purchase, typically from a debit card. You can also seek out a Bitcoin ATM, which operates just like your typical bank ATM.

So, what do you do with your cryptocurrency after you earn or purchase it?

Well, all cryptocurrency technically lives on the blockchain. But individual owners keep track of and manage their cryptocurrency through wallets.

Your wallet stores your private key and public address. Without your private key, you cannot access or verify purchase of your cryptocurrency, so it’s essentially the most valuable piece of your cryptocurrency ownership.

The most popular type of wallet is a software wallet like Coinspace (which also serves as an exchange). You could also use a desktop or paper wallet, which we explain further in our guide to Bitcoin here.

Note: Cryptocurrency is a largely unregulated and tumultuous market, and it’s notorious for scams. That being said, we highly recommend doing plenty of research before investing in any cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency Resources

This guide simply scratches the surface of the cryptocurrency world. If you want to learn more about mining, purchasing, or investing in cryptocurrency, check out the resources below:

Over to You

Between mining, blockchain, and wallets, there’s a lot that goes into cryptocurrency. It’s well-established in our economy, but it sure hasn’t triumphed every marketplace and merchant.

If anything, cryptocurrency is a sign of how advanced and open-minded our economy is. We’re willing to take new risks and try new things in order to businesses, bank accounts, and futures secure. Is cryptocurrency guaranteed? Absolutely not. But it might be something worth exploring you’re looking to spice up your portfolio or try something new.

Mobile Form Design: A Beginners Guide to Converting Mobile Users

Think about a time when you were on the train, walking to work, sitting in the airport, or simply laying on the couch, and you had to complete an online form of some kind (an order form, shipping form, survey, etc.) on your smartphone or tablet. Did you have a positive or negative experience? Did the mobile form you completed function properly? Was it easy to read and submit on your mobile screen?

Due to their convenience, as well as the fact that most of us are almost always carrying a device, mobile forms may be something you complete frequently. If the online form you’re completing has a mobile-friendly design, then this process really is a convenient one. However, if the form you’re trying to complete is not mobile friendly, you might quickly become frustrated, angry, or ditch the site completely.

In this guide, we’ll review the most effective ways to design your business’s mobile form to help you boost conversions and create a great user experience. There are a variety of ways to achieve this, including obvious action buttons, clear form fields, minimal form fields, automated actions, a beautiful design and layout, and more.


But before diving into all of those details, let’s first define mobile form design to better understand the concepts and guidelines we’re about to review.

Mobile vs. Desktop Form Design

Today, your website visitors aren’t just browsing your site, viewing your content, and completing your forms from their desktop computers — they’re also completing these tasks from their mobile devices. That means it’s absolutely critical for your form to be simple to review, complete, and submit via a mobile device.

Why Is Mobile Form Design Important?

Great mobile form design allows for a positive user experience which ensures a happy website visitor who’s more likely to convert to a customer and become a returning user.

The design, layout, and functionality of your mobile forms play a large part in your website’s overall user experience due to the number of people who browse items, make purchases, and shop via their mobile devices every day. If your forms aren’t mobile-friendly, you may experience fewer conversions, a loss in mobile site traffic, and an increase in unhappy and frustrated customers. And who wants that?

Why Should Mobile Form Design Differ From Desktop Design?

Think about the difference in the display or screen size between a mobile device, such as an Apple iPhone, which typically ranges from 4.7” to 6.1” in size, and an iMac desktop computer, which typically ranges from 21” to 27” in size. Clearly, it’s safe to assume a form that fits an iPhone screen wouldn’t fit a desktop screen perfectly.

If your mobile visitors cannot easily read, complete, and submit your form, you may lose their business. So creating a mobile-friendly form that fits the screen of any mobile device is crucial to creating a great user experience in order to leave a lasting impression on your visitors and help you boost conversions.

What Is Responsive Web Design?

If you want to take mobile form design a step further and ensure your entire website is functional on all types of devices, you can implement a responsive website design. 

Responsive web design takes the user’s screen size, platform, orientation, and environment into consideration. This is a simple and effective way to create a great user experience since so many people are constantly visiting and browsing different websites on a variety of devices.

There are a number of ways you can make sure your site has a responsive design. For example, if you’re a WordPress user, there are several responsive WordPress themes that you can install and use to design your site. Additionally, if you’re building, or have built, your site with software such as Squarespace, your site may automatically come with responsive web design

Today, responsive web design is a popular choice for businesses due to the sheer number of people visiting websites via a variety of different mobile devices. But for now, let’s get back to discussing mobile form design.

Mobile Form Design: 10 UX Guidelines

When creating a mobile-friendly form, there are some steps you’ll want to take to provide the best user experience possible for your visitors. Let’s review 10 of these UX guidelines that you can begin implementing in your own forms today.

1. Minimize the Number of Form Fields

Ever heard the saying, “less is more”? Well, that’s exactly what you should be thinking while creating your mobile form. 

Between the size of a mobile device’s screen, the amount of content you need to place in your form, and the number of form fields (form fields are the boxes in which your visitors add their responses), it’s easy to accidentally make your form feel cluttered. Remember to remove all unnecessary fluff and only keep the form fields for information that you absolutely need

In addition to narrowing down your number of form fields to only the necessary, you’ll also want to make sure your form fields are labeled clearly with the fewest words possible. You should also mark the optional form fields as “optional” or include an asterisk next to the required form fields to streamline the process. 



2. Automate Actions When Possible

If you accidentally mistype your street address and the form corrects the spelling for you, the form autocorrects your response.

If you begin typing your shipping address and a box pops up with the rest of your address asking you if you want to “autofill” the rest of the form fields with your saved address, then your form is autocompleting your response for you.



By implementing autocorrect and autofill features on your mobile forms, you’ll improve user experience through a quick, efficient, and straightforward process.

3. Use a Single-Column Layout

When you’re completing a long or multi-step form, list all of your content in a single-column layout. 


This is true for forms on both desktop and mobile devices for a few reasons — single-column form layouts are:

a. Easier to read

Placing all of your form fields in a single-column format allows your visitors to focus on only one item at a time, making your form easier to read.

b. Less daunting

If you look at a form, especially in a tight space as you would on a mobile device, and see a large amount of content smushed together, you may feel overwhelmed. That’s why separating your content by rows and placing your form fields in a single-column format make your content look and feel less daunting.

c. Quicker to complete

When you place your multi-step form in a single column, leads are able to complete it more quickly than they would a multi-column form. That’s because the format makes the form easier to read and work through step-by-step.

4. Use Input Constraints for Form Fields

If your mobile form includes short or long responses, you should enable input constraints. Input constraints place a limit on the number of words or characters a person can type into your form field.

Writing long responses on a mobile device isn’t always easy due to the size of the keyboard and screen. And if a visitor is unsure about the amount of detail required for a response, they may over-explain, which could end up being a time-consuming process for you and your visitor. 

An input constraint will typically say something like, “You’ve exceeded your maximum of ___ characters”.

There are other types of input constraints that limit input options, like dates on your forms. For example, if someone was trying to make a reservation for a table at your restaurant and accidentally selected a date in the past, your constraint would prevent them from actually being able to select and confirm that date. By setting input constraints, you’ll save your lead time while completing your form fields, and you’ll also prevent yourself from having to review a long-winded or invalid answer.

5. Create Clear Action Buttons

After taking the time to complete a mobile form, it’s likely that a lead will want to make sure their form is submitted properly to ensure you and your team are able to receive and review their information.

By using large, bold, and visible buttons labeled with clear actions on them, such as “Submit”, “Next”, or “Complete”, your lead will feel confident about their form submission. These action buttons help you streamline the form completion and submission processes for your leads to avoid any unnecessary confusion or concern.



6. Provide Scanners For Payments

Have you ever tried entering your credit card details in a form via your smartphone? Typing a bunch of numbers on such a small screen with a small keyboard can be a tedious process.

Card scanning apps, such as BlinkID and card.io, have become increasingly popular for that exact reason. When making a purchase, your visitors can click a button that takes them to a screen where they can use their mobile device’s camera to take a secure photo of the front and back of their card, whether that be their license or credit card.



With just a couple of pictures, your leads will be finished with one of the most time-consuming parts of your mobile form completion process. These card scanning apps keep your visitors efficient as well as frustration and error-free.

7. Explain Need For Specific Information

While completing a simple email signup or a registration form, have you ever been asked to provide personal information that has nothing to do with the signup form itself? 

This is a common phenomenon in all types of forms (not just mobile). Asking someone for personal or other sensitive information without explaining your need for it can be a bit sketchy.


If you’re asking a question that doesn’t necessarily relate directly to the reason your visitor is filling out the form (whether the field is required or optional), then you should create some type of summary box or notification that they can click on to read a short description of the reason why you’re asking for this information. This way, your form will feel professional and thoughtful.

8. Provide State of Success or Completion

No matter what type of mobile forms you have on your website, you should provide your visitors and leads with their current state of progress, success, or completion while they work through them. 

If you have a long, multi-step form, you should include a progress bar at the top of your form so your visitors are aware of how much longer they’re going to be working through the form. 



Additionally, once your leads submit their forms, you should direct them to another screen or page that says something like, “Success!” or “Thank you for submitting the form!” so they know their submission worked.



9. Include Error Messages

While completing your mobile forms, your visitors are bound to make a mistake here or there. Your mobile forms should flag these errors in real-time so your leads can remain efficient and accurate.

For example, if someone adds the incorrect zip code alongside their street address, make sure your mobile form flags that error so there is no time wasted and your business is sure to receive accurate information.



In your message, give your lead applicable, easy-to-understand information that clearly shows the exact location of the error as well as how they can fix it.

10. Consider the Form’s Appearance

Appearance and first impressions in business always matter. That goes for your mobile forms, too, because nobody wants to complete a dark, difficult to read, cluttered, and unattractive form.



You want your mobile form to be highly functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. You can create a professional-looking form by branding it with your logo and colors. Your mobile form’s appearance should contribute to its readability and positive user experience. 

To achieve this look, use:

  • Simple, easy-to-read typography
  • Minimal form fields
  • Bright and bold action buttons
  • Single-column layout
  • A color palette that doesn’t feel overwhelming

Back To You

It’s no secret that, today, your website visitors are completing and submitting your web forms via their mobile devices. That’s because it’s convenient and efficient, as most people carry some type of mobile device with them everywhere, making it crucial for your forms to be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, your forms will be difficult to read, complete, and submit, which may frustrate your leads or cause you to lose their business completely. By considering your mobile form design and implementing these guidelines, you’ll enhance your mobile form user experience, build positive relationships with your leads and customers, and boost your conversions. 

[Infographic] 2019 Predictions & Trends for Fearless Marketers

2018 brought value over volume and evidence of fearless marketing all around the world. It brought marketers a seat at the revenue table. Now, the real question is: what are we going to do with it all? New beginnings, and therefore a new year, are always exciting to me. There’s a new calendar to fill with meetings, personal goals to crush, and ambitions to chase after. And of course, there’s also writing the previous year for a good six weeks before I stop having to say the date out loud as I write (Febru-ar-y 10, 2018 2019).

Around the office, the last quarter of the year is one filled with hope, planning, and pressure—pressure to deliver on your goals, set new ones, and finish the year strong. It’s a time when everyone at Marketo likes to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and outline our critical path to success for the coming year. Don’t forget to reflect on your past years’ successes and failures. Reflection is an important part of any planning period.

In our annual predictions piece, our global marketing team uncovers the best nuggets of wisdom they had to offer about what to expect with AI, digital marketing, and more. The highlights are below and will be sprinkled throughout our content in early 2019.

As you plan for your year, keep these predictions & trends in mind: 


The post [Infographic] 2019 Predictions & Trends for Fearless Marketers appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Top 25 Tips for an Effective Mobile Marketing Strategy

Mobile marketing is a form of digital marketing that targets prospective customers through their mobile devices. In 2018, mobile marketing is expected to account for 75 percent of all digital advertising spending. Competing in this channel requires an effective strategy, so we asked the experts to share their best. Here are 25 of the best…

The post Top 25 Tips for an Effective Mobile Marketing Strategy appeared first on Fit Small Business.

SMS is for life, not just for Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, and not just because of Santa (yes, he is real) but because it is the one of the biggest holidays of the year for UK businesses. Millions of consumers are looking for that perfect gift for their loved ones, and businesses are looking to sell them that gift.

For consumers Christmas time is brilliant, retailers are constantly battling it out to win their business, but for the retailers themselves it can be hard. Trying to convince someone that they should shop with you rather than your competitors is not an easy task. It is very unlikely that your shop sells something that a consumer can’t get from another shop, most items can now can be bought from multiple places, especially with online retailers like Amazon and eBay.

How can you convince someone to shop with you? Well a big part of this is getting your products and offers in front of your customers as soon as possible. This is where SMS marketing can help, sending your customers a text message as soon as your Christmas sale has started, is a great way to inform all your customers of your sale, and with a 98% open rate, it almost guarantees that your message will be read.

But isn’t Christmas about giving and not trying to sell as much as possible? Are you planning on doing anything special for your customers this year? Or are you just going send them a text message with an offer in it? If you only plan on sending multiple text messages prompting your sale, we are afraid to say that this just isn’t enough anymore. Yes, SMS will help you make a sale, but it can do so much more than that.

So when you customers start thinking about gifts they are going to buy, how do you go about ensuring that they buy from you and not your competitors?

Well this doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and a lot of giving. Consumers don’t just want to be sold to, they want to be wined and dined, they want to be felt like a real human, rather than just a number that you send promotional offers to.

SMS marketing is more than a sales tool, there are many other great ways it can be used to show your customers that you care.

Other ways to use SMS other than to sell
Open and closing time – Whether it is just a day that you are closed for maintenance, or the whole of Christmas, consumers hate turning up to your store and finding out that it is closed. Send your customers a text message with open and closing times on. Why not use our free feature SMS Web Pages, to include more information which is just what Star Cars Birmingham did.
“Hi Jane, just to let you know we will be closed over the Christmas period from the 24th – 27th and then again closed on the 1st of January.”

Send holiday greetings – Wishing your customers a Merry Christmas is a nice thing to do, it makes them feel like your business is more personable. It doesn’t just have to be Christmas, there are other major events around the year like Eid and Diwali that your customers might like to receive a message about too.

You could even include a link to your open and closing times in the message, this would save sending two separate messages.
“From all of us here at Shoes Direct, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. For all our opening times see our website www.link.com”

SMS surveys – The only way you will improve your business is by asking your customers what they like and dislike about you, and this is where an SMS survey can help. Just after your customers have purchased, or at the end of the year, send your customers an SMS survey asking them a couple of questions about the service and products you offer. A handy tip to get more answers is to add a little incentive.
“We would like to thank you for being a valued customer and hope that over the year we have provided you with a great service. To make sure that we have, we would really appreciate it if you could complete a short survey. By completing this survey, you will be entered into a prize draw where you could win a £50 voucher.”

Text to win – By offering something away for free, customers are more likely to purchase from you in the future. A competition is a great way to get your customers interacting with your brand and who doesn’t like winning something. If you are thinking about running a text to win campaign have a read of our 5 top tips that will help you get started.
“Text WIN to 88802 to enter into our draw where you could win a holiday to New York and £500 spending money, courtesy of Holidays4Everbody.”

Appointment reminders – This may not be suitable for all businesses, but for those that it does, sending an appointment reminder massively reduces the amount of no shows. This will save you money and keep customers who have genuinely forgotten, happy with a little nudge.
“Hi John, just a reminder that your MOT is due on the 21/01/2019 so make sure you book it in with us before then.”

Making sure that you stay in contact with your customers throughout the year, and not just when you want them to buy, is vital to increase brand loyalty. By using some of the ideas above, wishing your customers a Merry Christmas, or just letting them know when you are closed, you will increase brand loyalty and when it does come to the time for you to send them an SMS offer, they will be more receptive and more likely to purchase.

In-between the regular updates and communication with your customers, of course you should send them a text message with your latest sale and discounts in, after all they are a customer of yours because they bought something from you.

With this in mind we have added a couple of major holidays throughout the year that you could have a sale and send your customer a text message on.

Major holidays throughout the year
Valentine’s day – Valentine’s day is getting bigger each year with £980 million worth of gifts bought in 2016 and a little SMS love can go along way during February.

Easter holidays – You may not think Easter is a big retail holiday but there are 21.9 million Easter cards sold (Source: Statisticviews) and 1.8 million Brits traveling abroad over the Easter weekend (Source: Visit England). It is a perfect time to send an SMS and not just about clothes or shoes.

Spring and Summer sales – The perfect time to send an SMS is when you have any seasonal sales, be that a spring or summer sale, whenever you have a sale, start it by sending an SMS to let your customers know it has started.

Black Friday – Last, but by no means least, Black Friday, this year is expected to have been bigger than ever before, potentially hitting over £9 Billion over the 4-day Black Friday weekend.

Remember that just because SMS can help you hit your sales targets, it is not just a one trick pony and can help you keep customers happy, engaged, and purchasing all year round.

How Flutter Looks Set to Transform Android and iOS App Development

One of the primary concerns of mobile marketers across the world is ensuring that they have the ability to produce content and apps that are compatible with a range of platforms. However, their two top priorities are undoubtedly creating items that work on both Android and iOS.

The two operating systems dominate the market, with figures from Q2 2018 suggesting that Android OS accounts for an 88 per cent share and iOS holds around 11.9 percent. While the likes of Microsoft and RIM once had a place in this world, they have fallen by the wayside as Google and Apple’s unstoppable creations have marched to the top.

A number of differences

While the pair are now truly out on their own in terms of their performance in the market, they are different in a number of ways. For example, as this VPNbase article on the best Android VPN services outlines, Android devices are seen as less exclusive and arguably more flexible than Apple’s iOS-based alternatives. While the site states this is a “wonderful thing”, it does also warn that this can open Android systems up to a range of risks.

On a more technical level, another key difference is how apps for the two systems are created. While iOS apps are stored on a file type known as an IPA, Android apps use the format known as APK. This issue, in particular, has caused a headache for many businesses in recent years, as this has meant it is not necessarily easy for them to quickly adapt apps for one OS to another.

However, could a major new toolkit created by developers at Google be about to change the game in this regard?

Introducing Flutter

At the start of December, Google announced the launch of its first stable release of the UI toolkit known as Flutter. The company describes the system as a way to build ‘beautiful, native experiences’ for both iOS and Android systems using a single codebase.

While this does not replace the traditional way of creating apps for the two operating systems, it is an engine that can be added to an existing app or used in a completely new one. Google said that Flutter’s set of widgets would ensure a “pixel-perfect experience” on both OSs, ensuring designers are able to achieve their vision without having to “water it down” due to any limitations.

The key benefits of Flutter were highlighted in comments from Capital One’s senior director of engineering Michael Jones, who said the service would mean the company can now think about features “not in an ‘iOS or Android-first’ fashion, but rather in a true mobile-first model”.

Exciting new development

The release of Flutter is an exciting development which could change the game for everyone involved in mobile marketing, with hopes being high that it will make it easier for developers to create apps for both iOS and Android.

While the two biggest mobile operating systems in the world have fundamental differences, Google’s new toolkit has arguably brought them closer than they have ever been before.

The post How Flutter Looks Set to Transform Android and iOS App Development appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The Short & Sweet Guide to Google Keep

I have a confession to make: organization does not come naturally to me.

To give you a better idea of what exactly we’re talking about here, this is what my phone home screen looks like on any given day:


Not too pretty.

In fact, the above screenshot gave a few of my more inbox-zero-inclined, Evernote-addicted co-workers a good fright (Sorry, Braden!).

I love the idea of being a person who can take joy in meticulously structuring and optimizing my day via an elaborate bullet journal system, but realistically, I’ll never be. I just go where my Google Calendar tells me to go. I send myself one-off reminders via cryptic email and Slack messages (“email that person you talked to in hall”). I keep track of meeting notes in a series of disconnected spreadsheets. I bookmark Gmail conversations I need to respond to. And when all else fails, I write stuff on my arm.

This (reckless) combination of messages and documents has served me (surprisingly) well, but there’s always room for improvement.

To see if I could structure my work life with a bit more intention, I recently started using Google Keep, Google’s free note-taking app.

The biggest draw of Google Keep compared to other popular note-taking apps is its simplicity. The interface is minimal and intuitive, enabling you to start taking and organizing notes with little (if any) learning curve.

While more robust applications like Evernote offer third-party integrations and additional features for curating advanced databases of notes, Google Keep’s clean, straightforward system is ideal for someone looking to simply keep track of their daily tasks and collaborate with small teams. For users interested in building out a serious archive of content across a larger organization, Google Keep’s capabilities will likely be too limited for anything beyond personal use.

If you’re interested in giving Google Keep a whirl, this guide will walk you through getting started, along with some helpful tips to get the most out of the app.

Getting Started With Google Keep

First things first: you can access Google Keep right here (just make sure you’re logged into your Google account).

Once you log in, you’ll see an area to create notes:


To add a new note, let’s take a look at the “Take a note…” bar at the top of your screen.

Clicking into the box will automatically start a text note. The paintbrush icon on the left will start a drawing note, and the image icon will start an image-based note.

Once you decide on the type of note you want to create, at the bottom of the note-taking area you’ll see options to:

  • Set a reminder for a specific time or place
  • Add a collaborator
  • Change the color of the note
  • Add an image to the note
  • Archive the note
  • “More” = add a label, add checkboxes, add a drawing
  • Undo
  • Redo

Pretty simple, right? Once you click out of the note-taking area, your note will be automatically added to the Google Keep screen and synced across any devices where you’re using the same Google account and logged into Google Keep. 

Although these features are fairly bare-bones compared to other applications, they enable you to curate a wide variety of different tasks, to-dos, and reminders.

You can edit any type of note at any time simply by clicking into it. 

Let’s take a deeper look at how these features can be used to organize your tasks and improve your overall efficiency.

1. Pin to prioritize.

When it seems like you have a million things on your to-do list, tackling each task in the order you added them to the list isn’t usually the most effective approach. Some tasks are simply more pressing or time-sensitive than others, and your to-do list should reflect this.

With Google Keep, you can keep your tasks prioritized using the “pin” feature. Hover over any note, and click the pin icon that appears in the upper right hand corner of the note. 

This will add the note to a separate “Pinned” section above the rest of your notes. Pinned notes will remain in this section until you delete or unpin them. It’s certainly a humble organization feature, but I’ve found that pinning my most important tasks at the beginning of each day has helped me prioritize my time more effectively. 

2. Break up larger tasks into smaller tasks.

Got a particularly big, complicated, or just plain tedious task you need to tackle? Break it up into little parts.

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to make it through my more complex to-do list items or group related tasks together in one bucket. Using Google Keep’s list feature, I create a new “list” note card, which creates a little checklist inside a single note. To create a hierarchy of checklist items, you can drag items to nest them under other items.

3. Share notes with team members to keep them updated.

Google Keep has a useful collaboration feature that allows you to share a note directly with another Google user. I’ve found this tool to be particularly helpful when you need to keep a colleague up to date on your progress or send someone a friendly reminder.

To add a colleague to a note, just click on the “+” person icon at the bottom of any note. Collaborators have the ability to make changes once you add them to the note.


If your team is already using other Google tools, the collaborate feature in Google Keep can be easily integrated into other areas of your team’s processes without having to adopt a new tool to stay connected. 

4. Add annotations to images.

Google Keep allows you to add annotations directly to images — a valuable time-saver if you work on a creative team that regularly deals with visual content. This can save time when you need to make a comment about a particular aspect of an image, since you don’t need to describe it — you can draw directly on the area you want to highlight.

To add an annotation to an image, click on your image note in Google Keep to expand. In the upper right corner of your screen, you’ll see a pen icon (right next to the printer icon):

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 5.17.06 PM

This will take you to a separate screen where you can select a pen width and color, and draw directly on the screen. 


5. Use date-based reminders to keep yourself on track and structure your day.

Need to keep track of a big deadline? Or maybe you just need some little reminders to keep you on track throughout the day? I use Google Keep’s date and time-based reminders as a helpful nudge when I need it — for both larger projects, and smaller things I need to remember to get done.

To set one up, click on the alarm bell icon at the bottom of any note, and you’ll get a menu to select a time and date to get reminded.

6. Set a location-based reminder.

If you move from place to place throughout your day and want reminders when you get to a specific location, you can set that up in Google Keep. Just from the same menu in the previous step, just select “Pick Place” and select the location you want to get a reminder at.

I’ve found this feature is useful for a wide variety of errands  — like reminders to buy something when you get to the grocery store, or a reminder to check up on an outstanding work task when you get into the office the next day. Just remember to have your Google-connected device with you, and location settings turned on to receive these reminders. 

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How to Improve Lead Generation with Microsurveys

What Are Microsurveys?

Generating marketing qualified leads is one of the highest priorities for innovative marketing professionals. However, over 50% of marketers admit struggling with lead generation. If this sounds familiar, then you probably also know that the key to generate well-qualified leads and move them through the funnel faster is to get to know them better and use the data to drive smarter marketing campaigns. One idea is to use data enrichment tools. However, they won’t give you the information about goals, challenges, pain points, and interests of your prospects. That’s why you need to conduct surveys. Unfortunately, lengthy and un-engaging questionnaires often experience low response rates.

Truth be told, most of us don’t enjoy taking surveys if we’re honest. But as marketers, we somehow still believe they’re going to answer our 10 plus-question forms.

People are busy, and they don’t like getting emails with “Do you have five minutes to answer our survey?” questions. They expect you to respect their time. Does this mean you should give up on surveys? Absolutely not!

Customer feedback is essential for running effective smart campaigns and converting leads into customers. You can gather insights faster and more efficiently if you forget about questionnaires and leverage microsurveys instead.

A microsurvey is a very brief form of a survey that usually consists of up to three questions, and can be fully answered in under one to two minutes. Simply put, it is quick to create and short to answer. You can embed it in your email, on your website, or in your mobile app.

How Do Microsurveys Differ from Traditional Questionnaires?

Along with digital transformation,  how we conceptualize and execute surveys changed. Everything in our communication is trending toward micro; from five-minute videos toward six-second stories and long forms into short surveys. The extended customer journey brings the opportunity to focus on in-the-moment research. Using microsurveys at different moments of the buyer’s journey lets us find out more about our prospects, personalize our campaigns, and convert leads into customers faster.

The problem with questionnaires is that you can’t make them a smooth part of your communication because by default, they are placed on separate landing pages. A microsurvey can come in the form of a short email survey or a widget floating directly on your website, as well as in your mobile app. In a micro-email survey, the first question should be embedded directly in your email. It improves response rate by eliminating the first step of traditional surveys, which is only pasting the link to your survey and asking your audience to take it.

What Are the Benefits of Their Implementation in Marketing Automation?

In marketing automation, receiving survey results fast is very important. You can choose a tool that smoothly integrates with your engagement platform and sends results in real-time. This way, you can act on feedback quickly by automating smart campaigns. Such a solution also saves your time, enabling you to keep all the insights saved in your prospects’ individual profiles, in one database.

Still, the biggest benefit of microsurveys is that they enable you to connect with prospects precisely at the moment they interact with your website in a given way, or at a specific moment after they receive your email. All this makes your surveys relevant, as you can achieve a much higher response rate than in the case of questionnaires.

Microsurveys tend to be more focused and targeted than traditional research. If you can only inquire about a couple pieces of information at once, you focus on asking more precise questions. Your survey insights become more in-depth and meaningful, so your work doesn’t go to waste. Initially, some marketers assume that a short study means less information, but in reality, it is quite the contrary. Microsurveys open the doors to more frequent interaction with current and potential customers, which aligns perfectly with a longer and more complex customer journey, and opens up the possibility to run broader research.

Generating Leads with Microsurveys

To incorporate microsurveys in your lead generation and nurturing strategy, you should start by looking for touchpoints during your customers’ journey. These points of interaction are the perfect opportunity to gather some of the most valuable insights. These, in turn, can be used to convert contacts into hot MQLs. While every customer journey is a little different, there are some typical, recurring moments when asking for insights seems very natural.

Pain Points

The first step to identify MQLs is asking your first-time website visitors about the challenges and problems they want to solve with your product. You can quickly learn the answers if you target a microsurvey, and embed it directly on your website. It is wise to place it on a high-traffic landing page, like your homepage, because that’s the first touch point they interact with. The same website survey also allows you to ask for their contact details, like email, and other relevant information, such as the industry or department they work at.

Relevant Content

Once you identify your visitors’ pain points, you can automate smart campaigns with relevant content about solutions to their challenges. Of course, this is not the end of your research. Remember to add microsurveys to your email campaigns to get even more valuable information. Ask about the kind of content, topics, and formats they need, and create them. Maybe they’d like to read a case study with someone who faced similar challenges, or maybe they prefer a full guide ebook with some theory, best practices, and use cases? Find out and deliver content tailored to their needs. Use microsurveys to create an excellent experience.

Once you provide your audience with educational content, you can also ask about their budget, when will they be ready to buy, or who’s in charge of the purchase decision. Their answers will help you assess if they are ready for the sales pitch.

Sales Enablement

Moving further, there’s finally a step when people browse through your pricing page. But what actions can you take if they don’t complete the purchase? One option is to embed an exit survey to your website and ask, “What’s stopping you from completing the purchase?” This question gives you invaluable insight into what’s blocking your potential customers from buying from you and gives you the opportunity to take the necessary steps to convert them into customers. If they are not sure how to use your product, offer them a demo, or a training course. Offer them a discount or a free trial if your survey participants feel that the price is too high. If they are thinking about choosing your competitor, send them a solid case study with an important customer. Act on their feedback to adjust your offer, and create a “wow” effect.

If someone signed up for a trial to test your product, you can—and should—send them an email satisfaction survey, like NPS, to find out whether they like your product, and if they are going to convert into customers. The results will show you who is ready to buy your product and is likely to be your promoter. It’s a good practice to run NPS research regularly, for instance once per quarter, to find out how the level of their experience changes in time.

How to Target Your Microsurveys

The power of microsurveys is that you can target them very precisely. You can interact with your prospects exactly at the moment they are engaged in any action on your website, or when they are reading your emails. You can survey visitors as soon as they land on your website. All types of visitors can be surveyed—new, returning, or known names in your marketing automation platform— as well as those coming from a specific source. You can also embed survey questions in your smart email campaigns to continuously gather insights. Targeting your surveys is the key to getting quality feedback.

Expand Your Reach Across Digital Touch Points

What is great about microsurveys is that you can also use them to run your research across all digital touch points. It means that you can reach your prospects exactly where they are, at the moment of their engagement—no matter where they are. Note that not every one of these channels will be good for your case. Be sure to A/B test to determine what works for you. Some groups of customers are more likely to respond to email surveys, while some prefer to answer questions when they are using your mobile app. There is no “one size fits all.” Remember to integrate microsurveys with marketing automation software to quickly act on feedback. Taking action on received insights is the key to generate hot MQLs.

Microsurveys for Customers to Improve Customer Lifecycle

Even after you’ve successfully converted MQLs into SQLs, and finally, into customers, there’s still a lot you can do to improve your customer retention. Don’t stop gathering insights once they become customers. Use surveys to delight your customers and to show that you care.

In your email campaigns, ask your clients about additional features they would like to find in your product. If you’re receiving similar feedback, that information will help your product team create something your customers are looking for. You can also ask about other types of products or services they need and automate smart campaigns with a tailored offer.

An interesting survey use case, which will help you improve your customer’s experience is measuring their satisfaction after a specific interaction with your company, such as a customer service experience. You can do that by sending them an email survey just after a customer service case is closed. This will help you identify strong and weak points during the support process, as well as assess the performance of the support team.

Surveys are a great way to glean information that can contribute to important business decisions. Be sure to share your results with your entire team.

Do you gather feedback from your prospects and measure your customers’ satisfaction? Have you ever used microsurveys, or are you using longer form questionnaires? Share your opinion and your use case below!

The post How to Improve Lead Generation with Microsurveys appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How to Create Facebook Messenger Ads in 8 Steps

Facebook Messenger ads can either be sponsored messages within the Facebook Messanger app or standard display ads that open a chat dialogue when clicked. Messenger ads are created in the Facebook Ads Manager like other Facebook ads, allowing you to target a specific audience with a tailored message. Types of Facebook Messenger Ads There are two…

The post How to Create Facebook Messenger Ads in 8 Steps appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Campus Living Villages speed up collecting customer feedback with SMS Surveys

Campus Living Villages is a global student accommodation provider with over 14,000 beds in the UK across 13 cities. Helping students find great accommodation in convenient locations ready for when they start university.

They wanted to find out how happy their UK residents were at the end of their stay and what they thought about them. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly what your customers are thinking, which would be the perfect superpower for businesses. However, there is a way that you can find out exactly what your customers think quickly and easily. In steps SMS surveys.

Campus Living Villages decided to use SMS Surveys to gain quality feedback and help improve their service.

We managed to grab 5 minutes with them and ask them a couple of questions on how they found SMS surveys. Here is what they said.

What did you use SMS surveys for?
“We used Text Marketer to survey our UK residents at the end of their stay to determine the level of overall customer satisfaction, ensuring we continue to deliver a high-quality student experience year after year.”

How does SMS compare to other communication channels you’ve previously used?
“SMS was much quicker to both script the questions and in getting responses back. Being a self-service option, it also allowed us to hugely reduce costs and have full control over the entire process.”

What were your main reasons for choosing an SMS survey campaign over a normal internet based survey?
“We were up against a tight deadline and choosing SMS gave us the opportunity to create a succinct effective survey method to gain large amounts of insight pretty much immediately after hitting send.”

What were your results from your SMS survey campaign? response rate? delivery rates? Any Stats and figures you could share?
“We received responses from 1,080 customers at an overall response rate of 17%, falling in line with our usual amount of response but without the usual marketing around the survey and in a fraction of the time usually spent on the campaign.”

Would you recommend it to other businesses?
“We would recommend SMS surveys to other businesses which require quick reliable insight at a low price.”


If like Campus Living Villages you want to gain vital insight into your customers and gain feedback quickly, then SMS Surveys are for you. With costs per SMS from as little as 1.8p, why not sign up to a free SMS account and get feedback from your customers today.

In-App Mobile Ad Fraud Up 800 Percent

Media Announcement: DoubleVerify (“DV”), the leading independent provider of marketing measurement software and analytics,today announced a partnership with InMobi,a global provider of enterprise platforms for marketers. As part of the partnership, DoubleVerify will provide always-on fraud filtering and measurement for mobile in-app advertising campaigns across the InMobi Exchange globally.

The integration with InMobi covers pre-bid targeting for all InMobi Exchange impressions within the leading mobile in-app platform, as well as monitoring of post-bid fraud activity, such as spoofing – enabling InMobi to continuously refine the quality of its mobile ad inventory.

“DV’s partnership with InMobi demonstrates our commitment to provide consistent, comprehensive quality coverage for global brand advertisers,” said Matt McLaughlin, COO at DoubleVerify. “With ad spend increasingly concentrated in mobile, it’s imperative that brands have transparency into the quality of mobile app inventory. We are proud of our partnership with InMobi, which expands the footprint of our fraud prevention capabilities and further distinguishes DV as the leader for mobile app verification.”

“InMobi is committed to providing transparency, building trust and delivering business results to our advertisers. This partnership, along with our support for DoubleVerify viewability, is a giant step toward that,” said Anne Frisbie, SVP, Global Programmatic and North America at InMobi. “InMobi is proud to partner with DoubleVerify in this critical battle against mobile app fraud. We strongly believe that only through open collaboration will the industry be able to eliminate fraud.”

As part of its industry-leading mobile app fraud solution, DoubleVerify identifies and screens the most comprehensive types of in-app fraud, including background ad activity, hidden ads, app misrepresentation (spoofing) and measurement manipulation. In March 2017, DV received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for its technology to detect and block sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) for mobile app video and display advertising.

The post In-App Mobile Ad Fraud Up 800 Percent appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

How to Use Porter's Five Forces to Outmaneuver Your Competition

In March of 1979, Harvard Business Review published an article about a business analysis model that countless MBA students still study to this day.

Coined by Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business SchooI, Porter’s Five Forces is a model that draws from industrial organization economics to identify and describe the fundamental economic forces that shape every industry. More specifically, it explains how these forces dictate every industry’s competitive intensity, potential for profitability, and attractiveness to other entrants.

Porter’s Five Forces has become a fundamental model that most businesses use to grasp the dynamics of their industry and, in turn, drive their business strategy. And it can help you do the same, too.

But the way you apply this model to your own business is totally dependent on the nature of your industry. Once you understand these economic fundamentals, though, you’ll be able to extract insights from the model that are specific to your unique situation and apply them to your business.

To help illustrate this, we’ve fleshed out the five fundamental economic forces at play in every market and provided an example analysis in each section, so you can see how each of these forces might play out in your specific industry.

Porter’s Five Forces Examples

Competition in the Industry

Competition plays a huge role in your industry’s profitability — the potential to produce a high return on investment — and, in turn, its ability to attract new entrants. If there’s a lot of competition in your industry, it’s harder to turn a profit. Customers have a rich pool of options to choose from, so if your prices are too high, they can just strike a deal with a supplier who will sell to them at their preferred price. 

In other words, customers typically wield more power than suppliers in competitive industries. This usually leads suppliers to undercut each other’s prices until their revenue barely exceeds their costs, plummeting their profits and discouraging new players from entering the market.

If there’s less competition in your industry, it’s easier to turn a profit. Customers can only choose from so many suppliers, so if they want to buy your market’s product or service, they must accept the higher prices or else they won’t be able to buy it. This potential for high probability encourages new players to enter your market.

To help you examine the competition in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the competition in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

From little league to college, baseball players all around the country primarily use aluminum baseball bats to train and compete. Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Marucci, DeMarini, and AxeBat are the leaders in the high-end of this market. Their target customers are travel or college baseball players who are willing to pay a premium price for the best bats that can perform at a high level and stay durable for multiple seasons.

Easton, Mizuno, and Adidas serve the middle of the market, and Anderson, Combat, and Dirty South serve the low-end of the market. Their target customers are less competitive players who probably just play baseball for fun and friendships.

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Potential of New Entrants into the Industry

If new players can enter your market quickly and cheaply, they can sell their minimum viable product, which is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, at a much lower price than you and your competitors can while still covering their product development, marketing, and sales costs. As a result, they can snatch established player’s market share and threaten incumbents’ position in the industry more easily.

The frequency of new players entering your market hinges on your industry’s barriers to entry. If it costs a lot of money and time to build a minimum viable product and cover essential overhead expenses, startups can only afford to build an unsophisticated product that’s sole differentiating factor is a slightly cheaper price. With these high barriers to entry, they wouldn’t be able to compete, discouraging them from entering your market.

However, if building a minimum viable product and covering essential overhead expenses don’t cost that much money or time, your market’s low barriers to entry will encourage most start-ups to enter.

To help you examine the potential of new entrants in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the potential of new entrants in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

The barriers to entry of the aluminum baseball bat industry are very high. You would have to spend a lot of money on research and development to figure out how to differentiate your product in a saturated market, purchase a bunch of raw materials to manufacture the bats, and build expensive facilities and machines to actually produce them.

You would also, at the least, have to hire a product, marketing, and sales team to run this startup’s daily business operations. This startup would have to charge close to an industry-average price to cover the initial overhead of creating a minimum viable product, crafting an enjoyable brand experience, and generating revenue. And since each incumbent in this industry would have a better, more trusted product than this start-up’s simple product, there’s no way they could compete with a slightly cheaper price as their only selling point.

Power of Suppliers

The number of suppliers or competitors in your market directly affects your company’s ability to control prices. When there are only a few suppliers in your industry, each supplier holds a ton of pricing power because if a consumer doesn’t accept your prices, you and your fellow suppliers can easily find someone else who will.

When there are a lot of suppliers in your industry, each supplier holds less pricing power. Your market’s customers have a rich pool of options to choose from, so if your prices are too high, they can just strike a deal with a supplier who will sell to them at their preferred price.

To help you examine the power of suppliers in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the power of suppliers in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

With 11 major suppliers in a massively popular industry — and five or less brands competing in each segment of the market — the suppliers hold a lot of pricing power. Almost every baseball player, from little league to college, needs an aluminum baseball bat to train and compete, so they’re very dependent on these suppliers, which gives them even more pricing power.

Power of Customers

The number of customers in your industry directly affects their ability to control prices. If there are only a few customers in your industry, they hold most of the power. Since suppliers depend on customers to generate revenue, suppliers must adhere to their customers’ pricing demands or their customers will just do business with one of the many other suppliers who are willing sell their product or service at a generous price.

On the flip side, if there are a ton of customers in your industry, the customers hold significantly less power. Since customers depend on suppliers to purchase necessary products or services, they must accept the prices suppliers set or else they won’t be able to buy any of the market’s products or services — the suppliers can sell to plenty of customers who are willing to pay a prettier penny.

To help you examine the power of customers in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the power of customers in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

Every single baseball player, from little league to college, needs an aluminum baseball to train and compete, so each supplier in the aluminum baseball bat industry has a huge potential customer base to market and sell to. Since there are such few suppliers and so many customers in this market, the customers don’t hold enough power to drive the prices down.

Threat of Substitute Products

Substitutes are products from different industries that consumers can use interchangeably, like coffee and tea, and they can significantly shape your industry. If your product has cheaper or superior substitutes, you not only have to compete with other players in your industry, but you also have to compete with businesses in other industries. This high multi-market competition can plummet your prices and profit.

If your product doesn’t have cheaper or superior substitutes, though, the businesses who produce these substitutes don’t pose as much of a threat to you or your direct competitors. This low multi-market competition might only drop your prices and profits slightly.

To help you examine the threat of substitute products in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the threat of substitute products in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

Instead of buying aluminum baseball bats, players could buy wood bats from suppliers who only manufacture wood bats, like Baum Bats, Old Hickory, and Sam Bat. But the odds of this happening are extremely low. Even though individual wood bats cost less than individual aluminum bats, wood bats break much more frequently.

For instance, one $250 aluminum bat can last longer than five $100 wood bats, so replacing aluminum bats with wood bats would actually cost more money. Players can also hit the ball farther with aluminum bats, which makes it the superior product. Additionally, wood bat manufacturers make the most money by focusing on a specific market of baseball players who only use wood bats, like professional baseball players, summer college league players, and top-flight travel baseball players. In sum, there’s a low threat of substitutes in this industry.

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The 15 Best Free WordPress Themes for Bloggers in 2019

If you’re a blogger, it’s probably safe to assume you want a website that’s equally as stylish, unique, and high quality as the content you share. You also want visitors to have a positive experience navigating your site — reading posts with ease, searching for topics of interest, and discovering other content that makes them excited to return. A WordPress blogging theme can help you achieve the exact look, feel, design, and layout you envision … without the need for coding.

The 15 Best Free WordPress Themes for Bloggers in 2019

We’ve curated this list of our favorite 15 free WordPress themes for bloggers like yourself — not in any specific order — to consider using for your website. Each theme includes a description of the features that make them unique as well as a list of key takeaways in case you’re in a hurry.

1. Juno


Juno provides you with unique blog-style layout options that makes it easy to pair your written content with images and/ or videos. Juno is a simple WordPress theme that offers a minimalist and clean design without any clutter. The theme also has a masonry-style blog layout, which displays your content in a grid format to make it organized and easy to browse.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gallery options to pair written content with photos and video
  • Minimalist theme
  • Grid-style layout

2. Kale



Kale is built for food bloggers. There are a number of feed displays to choose from so you can determine how you want to organize your written content and images of the dishes and menu items that you’re featuring. The built-in social media sidebar widget makes it easy for your visitors to locate, view, and follow your accounts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ideal for food bloggers
  • Variety of blog feed displays
  • Built-in social media menu buttons

3. Writee



Writee is ideal for photography or image-heavy blogs — the theme has a slider hero image feature which allows you to include several full-width images. Writee’s responsive design automatically changes your site’s format to fit any screen, whether that’s desktop, mobile, or tablet. You might also be a blogger who sells branded merchandise or other related items. If that’s the case, Writee makes managing your online store simple with their WooCommerce integration.

Key Takeaways:

  • Responsive design
  • Full-width image slider
  • WooCommerce integration

4. Hemingway 

Hemingway is a simple two-column blogging theme that keeps your content organized and easy to read. It includes a parallax scrolling feature which adds an interactive, 3D, and video-like experience to your blog pages. Hemingway’s translation-ready feature comes with pre-made language files so your website can be automatically translated into a number of other languages with the click of a button.

Key Takeaways:

  • Simple two-column theme
  • 3D, video-like scrolling feature
  • Auto-translates into several other languages

5. Radiate



Radiate is a blogging theme that offers unique visuals, including a customizable, full-width hero image and primary color options so you can match your branding. If you have a WordPress.com Premium or Business account (that is, if you pay for WordPress), you can take advantage of custom Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. CSS is a markup language that determines the look of your HTML so you can modify and customize the design of your web pages.

Key Takeaways:

  • Full-width image background
  • Multiple color options
  • Custom CSS that allows you to modify and customize web page design

6. Flat



This blogging theme employs “flat”, or 2D, design principles, to give your site a minimalist feel all while using bright colors and unique typography to maintain a level of appeal. The theme has customizable sidebar navigation that allows you to build a clean and functional menu for your blog content. There’s also an easy-to-use “Theme Options Panel” in which you can update your site’s settings, add images and logos, include social links, and more from one, central location.

Key Takeaways:

  • Flat, 2D design
  • Customizable sidebar navigation
  • Easy-to-use Theme Options Panel to customize site pages

7. Bulan

Bulan offers multiple homepage layouts for your blog including full-width, boxed, narrow, and multi-column options to provide your visitors with a unique experience when they enter your site. There are also a number of customizable sidebar and navigation configurations to enhance your user experience. Not to mention, you can install custom widgets to increase your site’s functionality.

Key Takeaways:

  • Multiple homepage layouts
  • Customizable sidebar and navigation options
  • Custom widget options

8. Total



Total is a blogging theme with a masonry-style layout which places your latest three, six, or nine blog posts in a grid format to keep your content organized. There’s also a portfolio section if you want to share some of your artistic work. Total is SEO-friendly, which means it’s set up to help you rank in Google searches and get more traffic to your site.

Key Takeaways:

  • Grid-style layout
  • Portfolio section available
  • SEO-friendly

9. Spacious



Spacious is a blog theme with four different page layout options and four blog display options to choose from. You can customize your theme’s primary color to match your site to your branding. Building your site with Spacious is a simple and painless process due to their downloadable demo sites that you can use for inspiration and support.

Key Takeaways:

  • Four blog display options to choose from
  • Customizable primary color for your theme
  • Demo sites available

10. Revive



Revive is a blogging and magazine theme that’s ideal if you have a variety of photo content that you want to share on your website. The theme has a responsive design so your visitors can easily view your website from their desktop computer, mobile, or tablet. Revive also offers access to Font Awesome Icons that you can add to your theme to create a more interactive experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blogging and magazine theme
  • Responsive design
  • Access to Font Awesome Icons to create an interactive experience

11. Wisteria



Wisteria is a blogging theme with a clean, minimalist, and straightforward design. The theme has layouts tailored to a variety of blogs including lifestyle, food, fashion, marketing, and more. Wisteria is retina-ready meaning all of your images and content will be high-definition to ensure your site has a professional look and feel.

Key Takeaways:

  • Clean and minimalist design
  • Created for a wide variety of blog types
  • High-definition

12. Editorial



Editorial is a blog theme with a live customizer feature that lets you edit your site, move sections, add content to your theme, and view changes in real time. The theme is flexible enough to organize large amounts of editorial content in a way that doesn’t seem overwhelming to your readers. Editorial has a variety of easy-to-use widgets that allow you to customize several of your site page sections with the click of a button.

Key Takeaways:

  • Live customizer feature to make and view edits in real time
  • Easy to organize large amounts of written content
  • Variety of easy-to-use widgets

13. Brilliant



Brilliant is a blog and online magazine theme that allows you to artistically pair your blog posts with photo and/ or video content. You can add or edit your own custom logo on your homepage as well as easily customize your theme’s accent colors to match your blog’s branding. Brilliant is also translation-ready so your visitors can read your content in a variety of different languages with the click of a button.

Key Takeaways:

  • Easily pair blog posts with photo and video content
  • Quickly add a logo and customize the theme’s accent colors
  • Can be auto-translated into multiple different languages 

14. Poseidon



If you want to include large, professional-looking photographs on your blog’s website, Poseidon is the option for you. This theme offers a full-width image slideshow on the homepage that allows you to display multiple photos. The layout is mainly white to create a clean, organized look that appears spacious and organized. Poseidon also has completely customizable navigation bars that you can implement on your site to enhance user experience and improve your site’s configuration.

Key Takeaways:

  • Full-width image slideshow
  • White background to create a spacious and clean design
  • Customizable navigation bars

15. Author



Author is suitable for all types of blogs and includes a responsive design so your visitors can read your content from any device and still enjoy their experience. The theme’s minimalist look allows your visitors to easily focus on your content without any distractions. There is expert support available in case you run into any issues while designing your website as well as several tutorial videos to walk you through different customization tasks step-by-step.

Key Takeaways:

  • Responsive design
  • Minimalist appearance
  • Expert support and tutorial videos

Back To You

A free blogging WordPress theme will allow you to create a unique, functional, stylish, and eye-catching website where you can share your content. Each theme has features, layouts, and styling that set them apart from the others — so, consider the overall design you’re going for on your blog to help you determine which option is ideal for you. Then, install your theme and begin adding your blog content and customizing it to your liking to create a great user experience for your visitors that will keep them coming back.

Distracted by New Technology? You Probably Aren’t Giving Your Website the Attention It Deserves

Let’s face it: The marketing world moves quickly. So quickly that as you chase down the latest and greatest channels and tools available, it’s possible to lose sight of the very foundation that enabled you to get this far.

It’s important to position your brand where people spend their time, and having your marketing team experiment with creative new channels, such as new social media platforms, is vitally important. However, C-suite leaders must remain focused on the facts through all the fads and trends coming and going at top speed. And one fact is unwavering: A website is one of your most valuable customer-facing assets.

Pay to Play with Platforms

There are plenty of attention-grabbing platforms that are positioned to spread your message and engage with your audience, but keep in mind that such platforms usually benefit from this partnership more than you do. Not only are there strict guidelines on how your brand can appear, but most of the platforms also require you to pay them in order to drive traffic to your content or landing page. Typically, platforms also bury outbound links, so your consumers and followers must navigate to your website on their own.

To take back control of your messaging, devote your attention (and investments) to building a best-in-class website. Many business leaders commission a website, proclaim it finished, and allow it to remain static for months or even years. Consumer demands, on the other hand, are never dormant, so your website shouldn’t be either.

A truly compelling website requires excellent content marketing, beautiful design, and constant optimization to the user experience. If you invest in the right talent and infrastructure to build these pillars, your website will be much more adept to achieve your goals, whether that’s driving conversions, newsletter signups, or whitepaper downloads.

5 Components of an Engaging Website

When a company spends all of its resources to develop new channels at the expense of its website, viewers will notice. Any responsible consumer will do their due diligence before buying a product or signing up for a service, and that includes visiting your company’s website and using it as an evaluation tool.

Think of it this way: If a customer is in a mall, and they comes across a storefront that’s unkempt and outdated, they will probably pass on it. In this way, your website is your online storefront, so make sure it’s designed to establish trust and win over customers.

To bring your old or clunky website up to speed, start by prioritizing investment in the following areas:

1. Infrastructure

The right hosting platform can speed up page load times, reduce or eliminate downtime, improve security, and more. According to Kissmetrics, speed alone is vital because a one-second delay in loading time can reduce conversions by 7%. Invest in the foundation of your website, and you’ll incur fewer costs down the road that stem from cart abandonment, loss of business, low conversion rates, and data hacks. Take note: When you spend more on your cell phone bill than your hosting, your priorities are way off.

2. Live Chat

If you’re after conversions, implement a live chat feature. These tools can instantly answer a visitor’s question, and move him or her further down the conversion funnel. Live chat features also capture new leads in your CRM and create nurturing campaigns that keep your business top of mind. An American Marketing Association study reports that live chat software typically comes with more than a 300% ROI, and prospects who take advantage of the feature are three times as likely to convert.

3. MarTech Stack

For an optimal website, consider how you use your MarTech stack. Picking up a paintbrush doesn’t make you an artist—it takes thousands of hours to master a new tool. Therefore, investing in a strong MarTech stack right away is crucial. However, according to Marketing Insider Group, if you try to adapt too many tools, your team will fail to master any of them. Pay special attention to compatible tools that keep all of your data in sync. They’ll make this information more accessible and allow you to leverage it more easily.

4. Analytics

Another website necessity includes analytics. In today’s agile landscape, brands must ensure that websites are continuously optimized for design and functionality across a wide range of browsers and devices. Use reliable tools to test and to ensure you have techniques to accurately measure results. Then, act on them. All the data in the world won’t help you if you aren’t committed to using it to improve your website and customer journey.

5. SEO

Investing in SEO is a great way to generate awareness for your brand. Companies that show up on the first page of search results will see substantially more traffic to their website. In fact, showing up on the second page means you’re practically invisible. According to ProtoFuse, less than 10% of people go to the second page of Google search results. Keep in mind that seeing SEO results takes time, so play the long game on this one.

By all means, think outside the box, but don’t let the emergence of new marketing channels cause you to lose sight of what’s tried and true. Unlike channels that rapidly flare up and then fizzle out, the website is here to stay, and chances are good that you can make better use of yours.

The post Distracted by New Technology? You Probably Aren’t Giving Your Website the Attention It Deserves appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How to Get More Followers on Instagram – 24 Pro Tips

Instagram has a different vibe than other social media platforms. You have to prove your authenticity for followers to commit and stay committed to you. Thankfully, the Instagram platform offers plenty of opportunities and features to help you do so. These Instagram marketing experts share their tips on how to get more followers on Instagram….

The post How to Get More Followers on Instagram – 24 Pro Tips appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Using SMS in a snow storm – the perfect communication tool

At the beginning of 2018 the UK was hit with a severe snow storm dubbed “the beast from the east”, this forced councils to shut roads, people were unable to get to work, which ultimately meant thousands of businesses were unable to open. This was estimated to have cost the British economy at least £1bn a day (Source: The Guardian).

It is vital that if your business is hit by a disaster, you have a plan in place, even if it a simple one. A disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be complicated, a simple SMS informing your customers of the issue and a link to your website where they can find out more, is all most businesses would require.

Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than arriving at your store to find it closed, they have made all that effort trudging through the snow to get to you, to find out that you are not open. This is a complete waste of their time and will undoubtably frustrate them which could lead them to shop elsewhere in the future.

A very simple and effective solution to this is to send a text message. SMS is fast and reliable, and with 90% of all text messages being read within 3 minutes, using SMS to inform your customers, and even staff member of a crisis, is an extremely effective communication method.

“We are sorry to say that because of the severe snow we are forced to close our store for the next 2 days. For an update on when we will be back open please visit our website www.link.com”

If you manage to open your store despite the snow, your customers will want to know this. They may think that your store is closed, or simply don’t want to risk leave the house. Send your customers a text message informing them that you are open, could get people coming to store instead of your competitors as they know you are open.

“Even with all this snow, we have opened our doors and put the heating on full blast. So why not come in and have a hot coffee in our instore café then have a shop around once you have warmed up.”

Be careful not to fall into the trap of only communicating with your customers, your staff want to receive SMS too and they will be just as annoyed if they turn up to find that your store isn’t open. Remember happy employees’ equal happy customers.

Not just for retailers, schools too
We talk a lot about how SMS can be used in retail, but retailers aren’t the only business that need to communicate quickly when a disaster strikes. Parents want to know if their child’s school has a snow day, or if the school is closed due to unforeseen circumstances. They need to know so they can make arrangements for their children.

school communication stat

Schools don’t just have to us SMS in an emergency, SMS can be used to inform parents if their child has missed school that day, if there are any up and coming school trips and if the parents need to pay for these, when parents evening is, along with many other ways that schools can use SMS to communicate with parents.

How to plan for a disaster with SMS
1. Segment your customers – This depends entirely on your business, if you only have 1 store then this may not be required, but if you have multiple stores across the country, then segmenting your customers into locations is vital. Your customers in Newcastle don’t want to know or even care if your store in Birmingham is closed, and if they do receive a message about a store hundreds of miles away, this could confuse them.

2. Create various template messages – Depending on what the disaster is you will need a batch of messages ready to go out. These can be the same message but for different store locations, the same message but for a different issue, maybe the store has flooded or if your website is down.

3. Decide on who oversees the process – When a disaster hits, you need to act fast. You don’t want to spend half the day scrabbling around on what needs to be done. Have 1 person in charge of sending the text message out, they should know what message to send, who it needs to go to, and when to send it.

Turn the snow into a positive with SMS
Now that you have your disaster recovery solution in place, why not take the opportunity to make a few extra sales. When a big snow storm hits, your customers will more than likely be stuck at home, bored, and looking for something to do. Lift your customers spirits and send them a promotional SMS message offering them a discount because of the snow.

“Just because it’s snowy and too cold to visit our store, doesn’t mean you can’t get our latest winter line at a huge discount – get 30% off all clothes and stay warm this winter www.link.com”

Predicting when a snow storm will hit is hard, not even weather presenters get it right. But having a contingency plan in place, meaning you can quickly communicate with your customers when a disaster does hit, is extremely important to ensuring your customers are happy and most importantly, safe.


5 Strategies Brands Haven’t Tapped Yet for Holiday 2018

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, holiday spending is far from over. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017, for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. That means there’s still time and money left on the table for brands to reach interested and motivated shoppers, especially at the lower end of the marketing funnel.

According to Brett Zucker, CMO at Monotype—a company that empowers the world’s top 2000 brands with design, technology and expertise—sense-based marketing (i.e., appealing to consumers’ senses) is the best way to maximize returns during this high-volume, high-impact time of year. Namely, there are five key strategies marketers should consider, if they want to maximize yields through Dec. 25 and beyond.

  • General Senses
    • Experiential Gifts Win Out—From ax throwing to aerial yoga, this year’s holiday shoppers, especially millennials and GenZ, are increasingly opting to gift experiences in place of material items. The trend makes sense as recent studies from university researchers reveal that experiential purchases tend to provide more enduring happiness. For brands in hospitality and travel, there is a natural connection to “selling” experiences to consumers. For marketers outside these channels, think about how you can make your products an experience; it may be as simple as a small tweak in messaging. For example, you’re not just selling a festive, scented holiday candle. You’re selling nostalgia, the feeling of warmth or being cozy.
  • Sight:
    • Go for Authenticity—Gone are the days of stock photos. Ditch the staged photography, which can come across as cold or un-relatable, in favor of real images of real people. If, unlike CVS, you don’t have $$ to drop on refreshing packaging with untouched photos, consider other avenues, like UGC or influencer content. Both are solid alternatives that not only inspire loyalty, but it will make your brand feel more accessible and authentic. Bonus: reports show that UGC actually has the power to inspire purchase decisions (70% in fact).
    • Know When and How to Stylize Your Brand—Every brand has a complex visual identity, from the typefaces it uses, down to the color of the logo or packaging. Don’t overlook these small details that can have big impact.
  • Sound:
    • Optimize SEO for Smart Speaker Shopping—22% of Gen Xers and 17% of millennials plan to use a virtual assistant for shopping this holiday season. If your customers start their shopping journey via smart speaker, you may want to overhaul your content marketing to prioritize long-tail keywords that are more conversational, or “featured snippets” that appear higher on search results. In any case, optimized SEO is the name of the game.
    • Consider Curated Playlists Consistent with Your Brand—How can you make your online shopping experience unique, if already convenient? Maybe it’s a stylized Spotify playlist shoppers can tune in to while browsing. Not only a festive and personal touch, but it just could put shoppers in the right holiday spirit to convert—not abandon—their cart.
  • Touch:
    • Don’t Neglect In-Store Experiences—We hear a lot about the retail apocalypse or death to brick-and-mortar, but that’s far from the case. In fact, stats show that physical stores still play a critical role in the winding shopper journey. Want to make their in-store experience more memorable? Consider the power of in-store demos where consumers can discover and explore your product with their own two hands. This has proven especially powerful for the likes of beauty upstarts and legacy brands that are embracing experiential.

The post 5 Strategies Brands Haven’t Tapped Yet for Holiday 2018 appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.