This Creepy, Yelp-Like App Lets You Rate People Like Restaurants

Posted in News on 02 October 2015

Ever get the urge to rate your friends and colleagues like restaurants, stars and all? Exposing their strengths, but more likely their flaws, for all to see on the unforgiving and unforgetting Internet...forever?

Sadly, there’s an app for that. It’s called Peeple and it’s scheduled to go live in the Apple App Store in late November -- that is, if the bitter backlash swirling virally around it doesn’t torpedo the catty reputation tool first.

Spun by its makers as “a positivity app for positive people,” Peeple lets users rate their friends, family members, neighbors, employees, bosses, BAEs -- anyone! -- without their consent. To use the controversial free app, you have to be 21 and have a Facebook account, and there’s no cowardly hiding behind anonymity. You must use your real name. You also need to know someone’s cell phone number to add them to Peeple’s database, which is straight creepy in our book.

Rating people -- real, live human beings with real, vulnerable feelings, mind you -- involves assigning them between one and five stars, just as you would your neighborhood car repair shop or taco stand on Yelp. You can also write essentially whatever you want about your victims, er, we mean the lucky individuals you review. Naughty or nice, it’s up to you, though certain red flag no-nos are off limits, like profanity, sexism and dredging up someone’s “private health conditions.” You wouldn’t want your employer knowing about that ick you contracted that one night, right?

Can you smell the job offers lost? The relationships ruined? The cyberbullying accusations? The defamation lawsuits? Yeah, we thought so.

Oh, but positive Peeple ratings publish right away, reports The Washington Post. Negative ratings (those with two stars or fewer) are held in a private inbox for 48 hours to allow time for potential beefs cool off between raters and rate-ees. Bad news: If they can’t come to an agreement to nix the negative review, it posts anyway. “If you cannot turn a negative into a positive the comment will go live and then you can publicly defend yourself,” Peeple writes on its website. For now, it appears the only way to avoid not having your reputation potentially trashed on the app is not to register to use it in the first place. That way, only positive reviews about you will appear. Huh? It’s all a bit murky.

Worse, unlike a similar app named Lulu, which allows women to rate men they’ve dated  -- or, let’s be honest, hooked up with -- removing bad reviews of yourself is not an option. Anyone can rate you on Peeple and there’s not a damn thing you can do about, barring tipping Peeple off to "inaccurate" reviews. Big deal. Here’s to hoping you’ve behaved impeccably every moment of your life -- professionally, personally and romantically. Those are the app’s three rating categories.

Basically, imagine if Tinder, Facebook and LinkedIn had a snarky stalker baby and you’re there. Terrifying, isn’t it?

The best friends who co-founded Peeple don’t think so. CEO Julia Cordray and creative director Nicole McCullough, are making publicity lemonade out of a nonstop barrage of criticism and, ironically, vicious attacks against their characters on social media. Only hours ago, Peeple claimed on its Facebook page that its founders would appear on Good Morning America earlier today, presumably to defend (and, of course, promote) their product, which they say they created to publicly lift people up, not to tear them down. We tuned in to the show this morning and didn’t see Cordray or McCullough.

"As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity," Cordray told the Post. "We want to operate with thoughtfulness."

To that end, Peeple’s FAQ reads:

Your network lifts you up and says positive things about you so that you can have a strong online reputation and get job opportunities, access to more networking opportunities with like-minded people, interact with other single people, and have the ability to search others to make better decisions around your greatest assets such as your family.


Amazon Isn't Selling These Apple or Google Devices Anymore

Posted in News on 02 October 2015 will drop sales of the Apple TV and Google Chromecast, devices that compete with its own streaming media hardware, the company said.

"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Roku, XBOX, PlayStation and Fire TV are excellent choices," said a spokesperson for the company.

Amazon told sellers it will not allow new listings and will remove existing inventory later this month, a report from Bloomberg said.

Amazon's Fire TV and Fire TV Stick connect to televisions and let users stream videos, photos, music and apps. Amazon also has a digital video platform that works on some competing devices, like the Roku set-top box, but not others. 

The move likely is no different from Apple or Google denying space in their app stores to apps with competing services, said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.

"If this were to go ahead it might be more of an issue for Google, than Apple simply because Chromecast is more a mass market product than Apple TV is currently," she said.



How to Flawlessly Plan and Execute a Rebrand

Posted in Tips on 02 October 2015

In the life of a business owner, we all get to the point where we need to ask the question…

Should I rebrand my business?

Perhaps your business has gone through some changes lately, or you feel that your brand is no longer appealing to your audience, or you just think a general refresh could generate some fresh interest in your marketing. Either way, most businesses will find that they need to do some level of rebranding work every couple of years to ensure that they stay modern, in line with their current goals, and responding to their audiences’ changing needs.

Before you start updating your logo, website, and a whole lot of other (potentially) expensive and time consuming tasks, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for how the rebrand might affect all the different areas of your business.

I’ve put together a plan for you to follow with some of the steps you might take when planning and executing your rebrand. Of course, every business is different, so your rebrand might not follow this exact path. However, if you follow the steps below for the most part, you will find that your rebrand is more likely to go down successfully, with a smoother transition for all areas of your business into the new branding.

Steps to Rebrand Your Business

1. Research and Plan Ahead

Before you make a move, it is important that you back up any of your rebrand with some research. For a detailed look at different types of research, check out this article from Talk to your customers and audience and listen to their suggestions. You could run a survey to find out exactly what their preferences are in terms of colors, style, fonts, and specific areas of your business operation.

It’s also a good idea to brush up on your competitor research while you’re at it. Take a look at what your closest competitors are doing to ensure that your rebrand fits the industry standards. It is good to be different – but your branding should still tell a clear story of what you do.

If there is a particular big brand that you believe has a similar style and values to your business, you could also use them as inspiration for your rebrand. For example, looking to Apple, Google, Nike, Microsoft, McDonalds, Nandos, or whichever big brands you admire as inspiration will help to guide your changes in the right direction as they spend millions of dollars to get their branding just right (and it doesn’t hurt to think big).

2. Know Your Brand Promise

Your brand promise is what it means to work with your business or buy from you. Knowing and defining this accurately before you do your rebrand will ensure that your changes make sense to your audience and are consistent with the very essence of your business. Some examples of brand promises could be the following statements:

  • To inspire moments of optimism and uplift. (Coca-Cola)
  • To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. (Nike)
  • Think different. (Apple)

Talking to your customers and finding out what they love about your business or what they really want more than anything from your business will help you come up with the right brand promise. Write your brief statement, then keep it in front of you as you plan the rest of your rebrand.

3. Identify Core Values and Drivers

Knowing your own personal mission in the business, and the overall goals of the business are extremely important to ensuring your branding is the right fit. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you really excited to do business? Make a list of the core values of your business. Some examples of these could be:

  • Sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Culture
  • Speed
  • Performance
  • Change
  • Loyalty
  • Reliability
  • Adventure
  • Creativity
  • Passion
  • Education
  • Courage

4. Review Your Business Model

If you haven’t recently thought deeply about your business model (that is – the core systems, plans, and processes behind your business), now is the time to do it. Your business model affects the kinds of products or services you are selling, the specific audiences you are targeting, and therefore, the type of branding that is going to fit your business. It will be much simpler to make changes to your business model now, before you execute your rebrand, than after.

It is important that you make a note of anything in the way that you conduct business which might affect your rebrand. Things that really set you apart from the competition can be great to draw attention to with your branding.

5. Create a Branding Guide

In most businesses, multiple staff and contractors will play a role in a rebrand. It is up to you to ensure that the information they receive is consistent so that the content they produce is exactly in-line with what you want. Creating a branding guide that states your research and desires from the previous steps and distributing this to your branding team will help them work together and create a consistent look and feel (also saving you time and money!). The following elements are handy to include in your guide:

  • Information on your business model (target audience, key products/services)
  • Your core values
  • Your brand promise
  • Your research on preferred colours, fonts, styles
  • A list of your competitors
  • One or two large business whose branding you like

6. Note Branding Touch Points

Ideally, when your rebrand is officially launched, you should try to ensure that all of the changes are made consistently across all areas of your business. Make a note of the areas that apply to you so that you don’t miss anything (it isn’t a good look when you have different logos, colors, and styles scattered throughout your branding). Different branding touch points could include:

  • Reception and phone answering (may require staff retraining)
  • Business Cards
  • Letterheads
  • Presentations
  • Employment ads
  • Websites
  • Brochures
  • Email signatures
  • Online directories
  • Print ads
  • Office fit outs
  • Videos
  • Merchandise

Flying Solo has also put together a great list of marketing collateral and branding touch points in their article here.

7. Create Your Branding Package

Branding packages will vary depending on the kind of help you have engaged to design the visual and written elements of your rebrand. At this point, they should be ready to provide you with your new branding to use in your business. The elements you might expect to receive include:

  • Color swatches
  • Logos in varying sizes and specifications (make sure you receive the source files, vectorized versions of your logo, and web-ready versions, as these are all different file formats that you will need)
  • Typography
  • Copy for your updated brand promise
  • Copy for different pieces of branding and marketing

8. Order and Print Your Physical Branding Items

Once you have your new branding package, you can start ordering all of the physical products that are a part of your rebrand. This includes any print marketing (brochures, business cards, etc.), signage for your offices and vehicles, and uniforms if you require them. Getting things printed and produced can often take some time, so allow at least a month or so to get this organized before your official relaunch.

9. Update Your Digital Platforms

Just before your relaunch, you will need to get your digital platforms ready with the new branding. Create new profile pictures for social media in the right sizes and dimensions, and draft some changes for your website. Do not make these live until you are ready to do your launch. Instead, keep the files ready to go so that you can make all of the changes within a few hours of your official rebrand.

10. Communicate with Stakeholders

Now is the time to organize a meeting with your employees, shareholders, and any other key stakeholders who are involved with your business behind the scenes. Let them know about the plans for the rebrand, why it is happening, and how it will affect them. According to this article from Rebrand, local teams, internal departments, and external stakeholders are all essential parts of this process. It is important to brief them so that they feel comfortable with the changes that are coming up and can answer any questions they might get from customers and clients.

11. Relaunch Campaign

Congratulations! All the prep-work is done, and it is now time to set a date for your official relaunch campaign. From this day onward, you need to have all of your old branding replaced with your brand new look. New uniforms, signage, website updates, and online profiles should all kick off at the same time (or as close to the same time as possible).

Communicate with your customers and clients through an email newsletter, blog article, press releases, social media posts, and other platforms to ensure that they are aware of your new brand. Don’t be surprised if you see renewed interest in your business over the next few weeks – expect to be busy! Listen and respond to any feedback on your rebrand (people tend to have an opinion on these things), and keep coming back to your brand promise. Your audience will want to do business with you if they see that you are consistent, trustworthy, and open.



Local SEO More Important Than Ever Now

Posted in News on 02 October 2015

If you’ve been keeping an eye on Google’s algorithm updates over the past several years, you know that it’s beginning to look like a veritable petting zoo out there. In addition to the many Panda updates that Google has rolled out, we also have the Penguin, Pigeon and Hummingbird.

While it may seem like these numerous updates are just the ramblings of a company obsessed with making things difficult for SEOs, it’s a bit more than that (or at least they would have us believe it is).

Aside from making it difficult for SEOs to guess what the search engine end zone of the future will look like, these updates also seek to make the web a better place, filled with better content that is easier for users to access.

The Google Pigeon update, however, went one step further and sought to make the web a bit friendlier for small businesses and the practice of local SEO.

Read on to learn more.

The Post-Pigeon World

When Google Pigeon launched on July 24, 2014, it changed local SEO forever. Suddenly, the layout of local SEO ran parallel to the traditional web search ranking results that Google users were used to. This change was right on point, however, because the goal of the Pigeon update was to provide more relevant local search results that were designed to look similar to traditional ranking signals.

Additionally, the new algorithm was meant to improve Google’s distance and location services in order to help customers find local businesses. The update affected US English search results first and, although Google didn’t give a specific number of queries that would be affected by the Pigeon update, it’s clear that the update affected many local search results for many users.

But, how, specifically?

Well, for starters, the update gave better search rankings to local businesses in a move that proved it was going to favor local businesses over local brands. Many SEOs assume that this was an effort to give small businesses a boost and they’re probably right.

Before the pigeon update, a person searching for pizza restaurants in Missoula, MT was likely to find themselves with a search results page listing all of the major brands like Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s, in the area. After the Pigeon update, however, that same user and the same search is likely to produce a list of small, local pizza shops to choose from. In addition to helping small businesses get found, this update is a great way to integrate community ties and help customers discover new establishments.

Secondly, the update allows establishments that have a Google+ presence to fortify their online search results with accompanying menus, reviews and user photographs that show up in the SERPs. In addition to being a great way to encourage customers to interact with local establishments, this update also encourages companies to interact more heavily with Google+, a win for the search engine giant itself.

Additionally, the Pigeon update changed the search results page format from the traditional 7-pack format to a new 3-pack format. This means that, while searchers who goggled “pizza places in Missoula” used to see 7 results (a so-called “7-pack”), they’ll only see a pack of 3 in the post-Pigeon world.

Additionally, when searchers want to learn more about one of those top 3 results, they’ll need to click through the Google link to the businesses’ website or Google Maps page. This also means that addresses and phone numbers will be squirreled away on another page while store hours and reviews will feature more prominently in the SERPs. Additionally, the links to a company’s Google My Business page will be removed and Google users will see a warning notification if a business listed in the SERPs is closing soon. Aside from the notification, a company’s store hours will not be displayed unless the website offers the proper markup.

For searchers who want more than 3 results, it’s possible to expand the results page listings to feature up to 20 results per page. There has been some concern over what the new 3-pack format means for desktop users. Because the new 3-pack format caters perfectly to the screen of mobile displays, it’s obvious that Google is moving its local SEO updates to cater to its growing numbers of mobile users and, as a result, many SEOs are concerned that desktop users will miss local listings that don’t make it into the top 3.

4 Ways to Stand Out in Post-Pigeon Local SEO

For people who are worried about disappearing into the 7-pack Paleozoic era along with the primitive fish (which are notably not one of Google’s “P” updates), take a deep breath. This update, just like the rest of them, simply requires some alterations and there are plenty of ways to stand out in the new 3-pack format.

  • Make Use of Social Media: As has been true forever, interacting with customers and producing great word-of-mouth interactions is a fantastic way to promote more business. Because the post-Pigeon Internet climate features customer reviews prominently, interacting with customers via social media can also be a great way to produce more positive reviews.

Customers rely heavily upon reviews when making purchasing decisions, so consider using your social media accounts to ask dedicated customers to give your business a good review. In addition to helping you show up more prominently in search listings, getting more reviews will also serve the purpose of helping you stand out from the competition.

  • Optimize Content for Local Signals: The Pigeon update didn’t alleviate companies of the need to create high-quality content, but it did require that they begin to optimize it with local signals. By creating content that is targeted, informative and designed to rank for your local listings, you can help yourself compete for those pesky 3-pack spots.
  • Make Use of Your Google My Business Listing: To add extra heft to your local SEO results, optimize your Google My Business Doing this can help you stand out and perform well in local search results.
  • Ramp up Location Pages: Location pages can help you appear in search results for multiple listings. By optimizing your location pages, you can increase your chances of being found in local search results for more than just your given area, which can help you increase your customer base and reach more people.

What Not to Do

Just like there are several small tweaks that can help you show up in local search results, there are several things you shouldn’t do, lest they bump you from the now more competitive ranking pages.

First of all, say goodbye to focusing your efforts on city search queries. When Penguin was implemented, it changed the way cities were indexed and, instead, divided them into specific neighborhoods. Because of this, it’s become tough to rank in city search queries thanks to redefined boundaries and the new division of neighborhoods. Thankfully, you can increase your chances of featuring in search results by focusing, instead, on your target neighborhood. Be sure to make use of any neighborhood synonyms in your SEO efforts.

Additionally, ensure that you’re not just going for any directory. Instead, it’s important to target top-ranked directories. This is due to the fact that, thanks to new Google updates, some directories are important while others simply aren’t. This means that the days of adding your company’s name, address and phone number to any directory for an index boost are done.

According to SearchEngineJournal, this is because it’s nearly impossible to outrank certain directories. Local results have top precedence now and, as such, it’s going to be difficult to gain yourself a top spot in local SERPs. With that in mind, focus on targeting directories instead. For example, if you were in the restaurant business, you may choose to target directories like Yelp, Open Table, Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon. Doing this can help you dominate local search results and come out on top every time.

Finally, it’s becoming clear that it’s now important for local establishments to dedicate themselves to content marketing and link-earning in addition to the old standbys of NAP, directories and reviews. Content creation is one of the best ways to ensure good ranking and companies can give their local SEO a boost by focusing some more attention on their content and links.

Because ranking in the new 3-pack format is often the result of organic traffic, it stands to reason that companies can boost their local SEO results by focusing on content output and general SEO.

According to Moz:

“If your 7-packs have shrunken to 3-packs, striving to build greater organic authority may help you more than purely local signals like citations and reviews.”

The Future of Local SEO

While local SEO has undergone some serious changes in the post-Pigeon world, not all is lost. Companies can still boost their rankings and compete well in their industries by completing a series of easy changes. By focusing more on organic traffic, content creation and directories, local businesses stand a good chance of landing themselves a position in the competitive top slot of the new 3-pack structure.


The Shock Effect: Why Content Needs to be Controversial

Posted in Tips on 01 October 2015

Content marketing is currently at the height of its prominence. But there is one big problem plaguing a large portion of today’s content; it’s all the same. Nearly every piece of content created these days has been covered again and again by various sources.

This creates a massive dilemma considering that most folks will only be willing to look as far as the first page of Google for the information they are searching for.

A 2014 study by Moz concluded that the top 10 results in Google acquire more than 71% of all organic search clicks. This means that your content needs to stand out among the crowd and offer a different narrative than what has already published.

And how does one offer a unique voice to an already well-covered subject? By taking a controversial stance. People love controversy; it piques interest and incites memorability and intrigue. Even if the piece outrages the individual, it will likely still be commented on and shared to invoke the responses of others within their community. You, of course, never want to be overtly offensive, but if you’re trying to be everyone’s cup of tea, you are no one’s shot of whiskey.

The key for businesses to produce controversial materials is to strike a balance in expressing strong opinions supported by facts so that it doesn’t backfire on your brand. If you can manage to accomplish this, controversial content can increase site traffic, social shares, comments, links, and email shares.

Let’s take a look at some of the other highly beneficial aspects of generating content that stirs controversy.

Strengthen Consumer Relationships

When contentious content is published, some of your viewers will not agree with your point of view. A small percentage may even choose to abandon your brand entirely. But truthfully, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The upside to this, however, is that those who agree with the stance your company has taken will feel more passionate and enthusiastic about your brand than ever before. This can be viewed simply as losing those who aren’t engaged and bonding more deeply with those who are. These folks you have fortified a relationship with are your biggest advocates and promoters.

Discussions Galore

Content with a stance is by its very nature more easy to engage with. Controversial content is a massively effective way to generate discussions, which are critical in building and maintaining a social presence. The opinionated articles you post will end up attracting many more comments and shares than any other piece of content that partakes in the same viewpoints of a dozen others around the web. If you get your audience talking, it will not only draw more attention to your brand, but it will also make the crowd involved feel more invested in your company.

Illustrate Authority

Expressing a strong opinion through your publications provides businesses the opportunity to exhibit knowledge around a subject and help your brand to become an authority figure in the industry.

Just do be sure that your opinion is backed by factual research. This way, even if many disagree with your point, it is obvious that your brand is well-versed and has heavily researched the topic at hand.

If you’re choosing controversy simply for its shock value, the tactic can have a dramatically reverse effect. It’s essential that this mixture of fact and interpretation is in balance, or your credibility will be in question.

Demonstrate Conviction

By taking a strong opinionated stance on a subject, you are showing that your brand has conviction. This type of content shows audiences that your business has certain beliefs that you are committed to and willing to stand by. This helps to cultivate loyalty to a brand through the perception of authenticity.

Brands that never take a stance on any subject appear to not be trustworthy, or seem to be overly conservative, or just outright untrustworthy. Through taking a stance, you are offering your audience a level of transparency; and transparency is something that is highly valued among consumers in today’s shrouded corporate world.

While generating controversial content can be a massive driving force to increase engagement, site traffic, and other metrics in the social realm, do keep in mind that there are certain issues where taking a stance is inappropriate. Be sure to approach controversy with a discerning eye for what can improve your standings and what could severely backfire. All the same, by producing strongly opinionated pieces backed by facts, your brand is likely to attract more attention, clicks, likes, and comments than almost any other piece you have published thus far.


Google Creating its Own Tablet With Pixel C

Posted in News on 01 October 2015

Breaking new ground on the Internet, invading homes through Chromecast and being involved in countless other projects just isn’t enough for Google.

Tuesday, during a press event in San Francisco, the company unveiled its foray into the tablet market with the Pixel C. The Google-built tablet is meant to boost slumping tablet sales and, of course, allow consumers to take Google everywhere.

“We try to push the state of the art and push the next generation of computing forward,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s incoming CEO, said on stage, reported CNet. “And to do that, we build hardware … so we can guide the ecosystem forward.”

That guiding system — that being the Pixel C — is 10.2 inches and features an Android operating system with a quad-core processor with 3 gigabytes of memory.

The tablet will also feature a keyboard that docks with the tablet and holds it like a laptop. The keyboard is easily detached to convent the Pixel C to a classic tablet.

Google, of course, has sailed the rocky seas of tablets in the past, but only in a partnership format when it joined with Asus to create the original Nexus tablet. Later partnerships with HTC also had devices with Google hardware but this marks Google’s first go-it-alone approach.

The Pixel C is expected to be available just in time for the holiday season.


Click-To-Call Buttons: How They Impact Your Bottom Line

Posted in News on 28 September 2015

Mobile devices are one of the most powerful and widely used tools in modern society. Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a Smartphone. The number of individuals who access the Internet through mobile devices have surpassed desktop users. Yes, you keep hearing it, but it bears repeating: Mobile truly has taken over.

In the mobile era, convenience becomes absolutely critical as people are often on the go or searching quick and easy answers. That is where click-to-call buttons come into play. While they may not seem like it, these small little buttons can have a massive impact on the amount of business that a company receives. In a recent Google survey it was revealed that 95 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses are not utilizing this feature, however, nearly half of all mobile searchers state that they would look elsewhere if a company did not support a click-to-call feature. As you can see, this under-utilized tool holds incredible benefits for those savvy enough to employ them early on.

With all of the hype around mobile marketing these days, many overlook the original function of mobile devices; to make phone calls. In an attempt to better integrate the foundation of the mobile products, let’s take a look at some of the other reasons that your brand should implement the click-to-call- feature immediately:

Reason 1: Customer Satisfaction

Despite the continual growth of online use to research answers and gain information, the majority of customers still prefer to speak with real live individuals. In fact, a study from NewVoiceMedia revealed that 75 percent of consumers truly prefer to contact a businesses by phone because it is easier to speak to an individual for assistance rather than digging around online for answers. When a company does not have the simple click-to-call feature, 47 percent of people are happy to move on and provide their patronage to another company. For many smaller, local companies, this would spell the death of the business. It is essential for local brands to not only employ the click-to-call buttons, but also a map of where the business is located, store hours, and any other quick and useful information. Simply place the info where it can be easily found, test that the functionality works, and make sure someone is standing by to take those calls and provide an optimal customer experience.

Reason 2: Happy Customers = More Sales and Brand Loyalty

The happier your customers are, the more they will continue to shop with your brand; it’s really that simple. As was stated earlier, customers expect businesses to supply the click-to-call option, and if the business doesn’t, a significant number of customers will happily shop elsewhere. For certain industries, the click-to-call function is absolutely necessary. Services such as locksmiths, plumbers, or tow trucks must implement this technology because the customer either may not have access to a desktop computer or are in a rush to get help with their situation immediately. When it comes to local businesses, 73 percent of customers state that they will typically call a business to reserve an appointment. Even e-commerce and m-commerce sites should be utilizing these buttons as 20-45 percent of potential customers prefer to buy over the phone as opposed to online and another 25-35 percent are at least trying to place an item on hold for future purchase. Click-to-call buttons drive so much business across various marketplaces that not having this option has truly become detrimental to business practices.

Reason 3: Identifying Leads

Even if the consumer is not contacting your company to make a purchase, 45 percent of individuals will call an organization to request more information about your products or services. The click-to-call action is a fantastic tool for identifying inbound prospects who could potentially be a great fit for your company. These folks who choose to call are hot leads who can then be converted into customers. If you are not making it easy for potential prospects to contact your business, you are missing out on a significant number of possible sales opportunities.

Most all businesses should implement this customer-convenience feature. Not only does it reflect poorly on your company by not providing this option, but it is damaging your brand’s sales and reputation in the process. This point will only become more emphasized as the rate of mobile use continues to rise and grow ever more important. But your mobile strategy should not end here as there are various ways to increase your mobile presence and establish meaningful connections through mobile. Ensure that you are doing everything that you can to protect your business and its future by taking the simple step of adding the click-to-call button to your online listings.


Five Trusted Link Building Techniques that Work in 2015

Posted in Tips on 28 September 2015

Internet marketers are always searching for the latest, greatest technique to boost numbers. While it’s important, especially in digital marketing, to always keep one eye on what lies ahead, it’s also equally (if not more) important to remain focused on what has and currently is working for you.

When it comes to link building, lots of things have changed over the years. As search engines have cracked down on spammy and automated techniques, it’s important now more than ever to be using trusted and true strategies that actually work. While there are lots of new creative link building techniques, there are also the powerful strategies that have been around for sometime and are continuing to produce great results.

So, what are the five most trusted link building techniques that you can count on in 2015 (and beyond)? Check them out here.

Guest Posting

The most tried and true of all techniques lives on!

Yes, it’s 2015, and yes, guest posting is still one of the most tried and true link building techniques. Don’t let people tell you guest posting is dead, because it’s not. While it’s quite clear and obvious that guest posting has significantly changed from what it used to be, it’s by no means dead, and in fact it’s alive and well.

In terms of how guest posting has changed, it’s in fact become a much more legit form of link building than it used to be. While what once might’ve been easily automated and done in large scale numbers is now pretty much unattainable unless completed on a more personal level. Conducting real outreach to quality blogs, with real accomplished writers and journalists, is how you’re going to get links in today’s digital marketing climate.

Guest posting in 2015 is less about the link you’re getting, and more about the quality blog post you’re posting. The link is an added benefit!

How-To Guides

Become an information powerhouse, and get links while you’re at it!

Creating informative, niche how-to guides and hosting them on your website or blog is another great step to take in order to start gaining valuable links. It might take a significant amount of time or a lot of effort to create a guide valuable enough to really help you get good links, but the time and effort you put in will come back to you tenfold.

Using videos, images, quotes, and more in your how-to guides is imperative if you want to see them turn into link building powerhouses. Once you’ve built up a solid guide (or, for best results, multiple guides) it’s time to start promoting them. Conduct blogger and influencer outreach to a variety of different outlets, and share the guide with them. Share it constantly on social media, and be sure to target niche specific people and blogs.

Building how-to guides is a link building strategy that, with enough effort put in now, will pay off for many years to come.

Expert Interviews

Be the source of expert information, and the links will follow.

Conducting interviews with experts in the niche you’re link building continues to be one of the greatest ways to gain a high number of valuable links. While it’s a strategy that requires a lot of waiting, and a lot of time to put together and finally get live, it’s something that is almost a sure-fire bet to get a number of great links while at the same time networking with some of the more known names in the industry.

Craft a personal email with a number of questions for the expert that you’d like to interview. If you want this piece to just focus on one expert, that’s fine, but ideally you’ll craft a blog post or content page with quotes and analysis from a handful of experts, as this will likely get you the most links. Once you’ve collected the answers and quotes, and have packaged the content together, reach back out to the expert with what you’ve come up with. If you put a lot of work into it, it will show, and you’ll likely get some social shares and a link back to your work.

Consider reaching out to many more experts than you want or think you’ll need, because chances are many will flat or ignore your emails for whatever reason.

Event Sponsorships

Look to find sponsorship opportunities in your niche, and you’ll get relevant links.

Sponsoring events is another excellent link building strategy that companies across many niches are utilizing in 2015. Depending on the size of the event and level of sponsorship, the potential of gaining a huge number of quality links is substantial. Events such as conferences typically list every single sponsor, and as other blogs start writing about the event there’s a chance you’ll get some links back that way too.

While sponsoring events is a great way to get links, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a chance these links will eventually get removed. Use various search queries to find good events that you can sponsor.


One of the more up and coming link building techniques that more and more companies are starting to utilize is offering scholarships. Offering scholarships sort of follows the same idea as sponsoring an event, but scholarships will likely result in more links from more higher quality sites (and possibly for a cheaper price, too).

There are a myriad of locations out on the web that compile lists of scholarships available to high school or college students, as a helpful resource. Sponsoring a scholarship by offering, say, $1,000 to the winner will help your company appear on these lists. You build a page on your website with all the information needed to apply for the scholarship, and promote that page out to the scholarship aggregators.

While the initial startup cost of offering a scholarship might be high, chances are you’ll see a nice return on investment due to the number of high quality EDU links you’ll be getting.


5 Cutting-Edge Tools for the Modern Marketer

Posted in Tips on 28 September 2015

A 2014 survey from the Economist revealed that CMO’s regard data analysis, technology, and marketing operations to be critical areas of focus that are lacking expertise. This means that in order to succeed as a marketer today, one must have the right technological tools and know-how to push efforts forth in a positive direction.

Fortunately, there is now an array of powerful and easy-to-use tools available online; many of which are free. There are tools for everything from analytics, to email automation, to content distribution; if there is an aspect of marketing that you need help with, there is an instrument to put your stress to rest.

Here are some of the most powerful and effective tools in marketing today:


Soasta is the premier analytics platform for online retailers. The platform is so powerful and efficient that all of the top ten online retailers in the US utilize the company’s offerings. With SOASTA, it is all about performance analytics and providing incredibly deep insights into user experiences.

The SOASTA CMO DOC (Digital Operations Center) provides businesses with total coverage in monitoring solutions through mapping the user experience to business metrics in real time. This gives organizations a better understanding of overall performance. Marketers can easily isolate issues to gain a precise picture of where and why the problem is occurring.

Because of the way that the SOASTA CMO DOC ties and delivers metrics for both technical and business users together, organizations can uncover minute-to-minute trends and really get to the heart of the analytics process.


Social media has become a domineering force in the marketing world and Twitter continues to vie for the top spot. StatSocial is the definitive tool for getting to the core of your audience on Twitter. StatSocial identifies custom-defined groups of Twitter users through analyzing more than 60 social networks and major blogging channels to provide businesses with intimate demographic research information.

StatSocial reports dive deep into user information by identifying age, gender, education, income, and will even provide insights into the user’s favorite brands, celebrities, television shows, and more so that marketers can develop truly meaningful campaigns for their audience.

But StatSocial doesn’t stop there; Tweet reports delve into the information surrounding tweets about content, keywords, hashtags, mentions and tons of other useful data. If you are looking to obtain serious insights about your Twitter following, StatSocial is the answer.


When it comes to creating and testing landing pages, Unbounce removes the need for developers and puts the power in the marketer’s hands. The system delivers a flexible and robust drag-and-drop interface, various templates to choose from, and a straightforward design that makes the platform incredibly user-friendly.

Unbounce was “designed with conversions in mind” so marketers have the ability to A/B test pages and track metrics in real-time. The program is also capable of integration with more than 60 commonly used tools like Zoho, Salesforce, and Google Analytics for an even more comprehensive experience. With affordable pricing, Unbounce is a powerful tool for a myriad of marketing campaigns.


Aimed at small businesses, the sales and marketing CRM tool Infusionsoft was developed to get users organized, save time, and grow sales. The unified platform helps to align the business goals of sales and marketing teams by defining work flow processes.

Employed by more than 20,000 small businesses, some of the key features of Infusionsoft include contact management, lead scoring, online sales, advanced email marketing, and marketing campaign automation.

Through the automation process, businesses are able to cultivate consistent brand messaging and provide personalized customer experiences throughout a campaign. The application itself was designed to free business owners from tasks that are less than ideal to manage so that more time and energy can be focused on the projects they actually enjoy.


Images are a massive force in the success of social media posts. Today, 63 percent of all social media posts are made up of images. Without a captivating image, your post is dead in the water. This is where the visual content creation platform Canva becomes a marketer’s best friend.

Canva is a graphic-design tool for people who don’t know the first thing about graphic-design. The platform provides users with an extensive collection of templates that can be altered to meet the user’s needs. The simple and intuitive drag-and-drop feature makes producing visual imagery not only extremely simple, but fun to do as well. While the tool is robust in capabilities, the streamlined layout makes for a remarkably smooth UX.

The average marketer now has a barrage of tools at their disposal. With these platforms and the endless number of others online, any temporary walls you may face can be overcome quickly thanks to the powerful tools that technology provides.

What are some of your favorite go-to tools for marketing? How do you think that technology is poised to change the face of marketing yet again in the years to come?


The ultimate auto-pilot software gets $15M boost

Posted in News on 21 September 2015

The development of an automated system that can help take care of flying an aircraft -- even perhaps helping pilots overcome in-flight system failures got another big boost this week when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Aurora Flight Sciences $15.3 million to move development of the software into a second phase.

DARPA says the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System or ALIAS program, which was announced in 2014 envisions a tailorable, drop-in, removable software kit that allows the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft. "Specifically, ALIAS intends to control sufficient features to enable management of all flight activities, including failure of aircraft systems, and permit an operator to act as a monitor with the ability to intervene, allowing the operator to focus on higher level mission objectives," DARPA stated.

ALIAS that would build upon what the agency called the considerable advances that have been made in aircraft automation systems over the past 50 years, as well as the advances made in remotely piloted aircraft automation, to help reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance and improve aircraft safety.

As an automation system, ALIAS would execute a planned mission from takeoff to landing, even in the face of contingency events such as aircraft system failures. The ALIAS system would include persistent state monitoring and rapid procedure recall and would provide a potential means to further enhance flight safety. Easy-to-use touch and voice interfaces could enable supervisor-ALIAS interaction, DARPA stated.

+Moore on Network World: The most magnificent high-tech flying machines+

Aurora Flight Sciences in Phase II of ALIAS development will focus on refinement of the overall system, risk reduction, demonstration of rapid installation time and more in-flight demonstrations, DARPA stated. Aurora, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft were awarded Phase I ALIAS contracts.

During Phase I Aurora wrote that it was working with the National Robotics Engineering Center (Pittsburgh, PA) and the Duke Engineering Research Institute (Durham, NC), to develop an automated assistant capable of operating an aircraft from takeoff to landing, automatically executing the necessary flight and mission activities, checklists and procedures at the correct phases of flight while detecting and responding to contingencies. At the same time, the human pilot would be continuously informed through an intuitive interface of which actions the automation is executing, and take back control if so desired, the company stated.

When the program was introduced DARPA outlined three key technical areas ALIAS would focus on including:

·  Minimally invasive interfaces from ALIAS to existing aircraft: It is anticipated that the ALIAS system would need to operate aircraft functions to provide automated operation. Systems generally confined to the cockpit would support the vision of portability.

·  Knowledge acquisition on aircraft operations: To support adaptation of the ALIAS toolkit across different aircraft in a short amount of time, it is anticipated the ALIAS system would benefit from the use of existing host aircraft procedural information, existing flight mechanics information or models, or other methods of rapidly developing requisite aircraft information.

·  Human-machine interfaces: A vision for ALIAS is that the human operator provides highlevel input consistent with replanning and missionlevel supervision and is not engaged in lowerlevel flight maintenance tasks that demand constant vigilance.


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