Learn 5 simple digital marketing strategies to help your business grow.

Digital marketing is essential in today’s world. With both competitors and potential customers constantly online, digital marketing is the only way to stay ahead. When you’re a small business owner the online world can seem intimidating. Here is a list of five simple digital marketing strategies that any business owner can implement to help their business grow.

1. Setting a Goal: You’re looking for ways to help your small business grow. You might want more customers, more recognition or maybe you’re looking to get ahead of the competition. Whatever the case may be, starting with a solid goal in mind greatly increases your chances of success. Digital marketing is a great way for small businesses to prosper, but going into the process blindly can leave you with a jumbled mess. A lot of strategy and precision goes into digital marketing and having a goal helps you know what to focus on.

2. Creating a Marketing Funnel: The most successful businesses have an effective marketing funnel in place. A marketing funnel is when you map out a customer’s journey from when a customer is a complete stranger to when they become a lead, and then put certain strategies in place that will encourage them to move through this funnel. Things like lead magnets, calls to action, opt-ins and offers are all effective pieces of a funnel. You can think of a marketing funnel in four parts: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.

  • Awareness: The potential customer is aware of your product or service. They’re still a stranger, but they’ve come to your website for a reason. They’re looking for something they need. At this stage, you want to attract the customer by showing them that you have something they’re looking for. Use a lead magnet or call-to-action to give the customer a valuable resource related to your product or service (i.e: what they need) in exchange for more information about them like their email address, phone number, profession and current needs. Find out who they are and why they came to your website.
  • Interest: They are actively expressing interest in a certain type of your products or services. At this point, you’ve given them some information and they’re interested in what you have to say or the services you provide. You’ve used your lead magnet or CTA in stage one to gather more information about them. At this stage, it’s a good idea to supply them with further information that is more tailored to their specific needs. Showing them that you not only took the time to get to know them but also have something that’s specific to their needs will show that you’re attentive to and care about your customer’s wants and needs.
  • Desire: They’ve taken an interest in a specific product or service. Now that you’ve supplied them with information specific to what they’re looking for, they’ve found a product or service you provide that might be a good fit for them. Invite them to schedule a consultation using an email or a call-to-action. At this stage you want to tell them more about the product or service they’re interested in. Show them why they need it and exactly how it will benefit them.
  • Action: Taking the next step towards purchasing. This is when you’re able to turn your potential customer into a lead. You’ve given them valuable information, shown them you pay attention to your customer’s needs, and shown them that you have something they need that will benefit them. All that’s left is discussing things like price, payment and other aspects of your product or service that are relevant to a buyer.

Having an effective marketing funnel won’t just get you more leads, it can also help you turn leads into repeat buyers. If the customer has a good experience they might return to purchase from you again or even tell others they know about your business. The elements of a marketing funnel can seem like a lot to put together, but they’re simple concepts when broken down. You’ll see that numbers 3,4 and 5 help to break down and explain the different aspects of having a marketing funnel in place on your site and how to put together some of the most important pieces of it.

3. Developing a call-to-action: I talked about using a call-to-action in the second step as a part of your marketing funnel, but what is a call-to-action exactly? A call-to-action (CTA) is an image or text that prompts visitors to take action, such as subscribe to a newsletter, view a webinar or request a product demo. CTAs should direct people to landing pages, where you can collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for a valuable marketing offer. In that sense, an effective CTA results in more leads and conversions for your website. This path, from a click on a CTA to a landing page, illustrates the much-desired process of lead generation. In order to increase visitor-to-lead conversion opportunities, you need to create a lot of calls-to-action, distribute them across your web presence and optimise them. A good CTA should be attention grabbing and help lead a potential customer further into your marketing funnel.

4. Creating an Effective Lead Magnet: A lead magnet can be used alone or along with a CTA. This will also be used either within your marketing funnel or as a way to drive potential customers into your funnel. Supply them with something relevant to your product or service that they want. Use your offers as a way to gather more information about a potential buyer while driving them further into your funnel at the same time. This brings them closer to becoming an actual quality lead who will spend money on your product or service. The idea behind a lead magnet is to trade information. You supply something like a free download of a white paper, but in order to complete the download, the individual has to fill out a form that will provide you with more information about them. You’ll use the information you gather to interact with them more as they progress through your funnel.

5. Driving Traffic: In order for there to be people to drive into your marketing funnel, there first has to be traffic on your website. There a variety of ways you can drive traffic to your website. Here are a few of the ones I recommend:

  • Quality Content: Use content such as blog posts, press releases and articles on authority websites. Insert links to various places on your website within this content to build your brand name through exposure and drive traffic to your website.
  • Keyword Strategy: Inserting related keywords into content will help your content and website show up in more search results, this leads to higher volumes of web traffic.
  • Website Optimisation: Ensuring that your website is optimised and functioning at it’s best is essential. People don’t want to visit a website that doesn’t work properly.
  • Social Media: Use engaging social media posts to attract more traffic to your site. Using pictures, video, and other relevant media will help your posts get more engagement.

Try these simple digital marketing strategies out on your website and see for yourself how much of a difference they can make. If you want help in making your business grow, contact me to assist in planning a digital marketing strategy.

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Social media is abuzz with iPhone 8 rumours

It’s getting closer to that time of year when that fruit company will release the next model of the new phone we didn’t know we needed.
The latest theory/rumour is that the 2017 release of the iPhone 8 will be in 2018. Huh! This is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, of course, it will be released this year, won’t it?
There is talk of the new phone being bezel-less to make it appear larger without actually being larger.
Of course, it will have a better chip, superior cameras, more RAM, all that just goes without saying. But what about truly innovative additions that would set the 10th-anniversary model apart from all the other models.

Well, I am going to throw my hat in the ring too. Here’s what I think the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 will have.
1. It will be transparent. Almost invisible.
2. You will be able to print 3D chocolate from the charging port.
3. It will have the ability to call a contact just by thinking of that contact.
4. Time travel will be a feature on the Plus model.

Ok, that’s my 2 bobs worth. Let’s see if any of these features are incorporated in the new phone when it is announced.
I think that of my four possible additions, maybe number 1 might be a little far-fetched because you would be misplacing your phone all the time, and that’s just annoying. Although they could sell an iTether that connects the phone to your wrist or leg or neck and charge $250 for it. That would sell.

OK enough wishful thinking, let’s just wait and see what they announce.

Happy digital life to all.

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Are your messages being bounced by Gmail?

The free version of Gmail is best suited for individual emails and has limitations as to the number of emails in each 24-hour period.

The daily limit sending via POP/IMAP connections (using a mail client such as Live Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird etc.) is 100 messages per 24 hours.

The daily limit if sending through a web interface at https://mail.google.com/ is 500 emails per 24 hours.

This is an absolute limit, not an entitlement. Your mail, using these limits, may or may not bounce.

New or recent accounts may have lesser limits imposed until their reputation over time is established.

If you suddenly change your mailing habits, such as sending heaps of messages when you only sent a few before, (especially with attachments) Google may think that your account has been hacked, sending spam, or just unusual activity, and lock the account for 24 hours. If you are using a mail client (Thunderbird, Outlook, Live Mail etc to send, any unsent messages will remain in your Outbox; the client will keep trying, and your account will remain locked. Clear the Outbox if this refers to your situation.

These limits apply to the free version of Gmail (account ends in “@gmail.com”); if using Google Apps for Work ($$), higher limits may apply.

Please note that each CC or BCC adds to the count, so if you have one email with ten BCC recipients and one address in the “To” field, this will count as eleven emails.

If you exceed these quotas or send any mail which Google see as unusual activity from your account (especially a new account), you will be locked out of the account for 24 hours; continual violation may result in your account being closed for violation of Google Terms of Service; and if this happens, you may be unable to recover that account under any circumstances.

The Bulk Sender’s Guidelines will also need to be considered.

So if you do need to send a lot of bulk email messages,  you should really consider Google Groups, or if running a business, Google Apps for Work. Which is a much more robust and configurable system.

 

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What is Ransomware and am I really at risk?

In a nutshell, Ransomware is malware that infects your computer and encrypts all your files and demands you pay a ransom to have them unencrypted.

Am I at risk?

Unfortunately, YES. Ransomware is growing at such an exponential rate that it is going to affect everyone sooner or later.

Why is it growing?

Well, Money, virtually untraceable cryptocurrency which continues to make this type of malware nearly unstoppable. It’s just like the old saying, “Why do crooks keep robbing banks?” “Because that’s where the money is.”

What can I do to protect myself?

Your best protection is the software between your ears.

  • Make sure that your operating system and applications are fully up to date and if an application offers it, turn on automatic updating. Your operating system will perform automatic critical updates anyway with no interaction required from you.
  • Use a modern, up to date, can you see the theme here, anti-virus and anti-malware system that monitors activity in the background.
  • Have backups that run on a schedule.
    • If you are setting up a new system or have recently performed a clean install to freshen up your computer you should also create a drive image once you have your system at a point where everything you need is installed, updated, and operating correctly. Then perform your backups on a schedule.
  • Practice safe computing, i.e. don’t go to questionable websites, don’t click links in emails or social media posts or just about anywhere, and don’t open attachments on emails or instant messages.
    • A practice I follow because I need to check links in suspicious emails and messages for your benefit is to re-type the link address in a web browser myself and not click the link because sometimes what the link displays is not where the link goes. For example a link in an email might be written as http://www.bigbonus.com/win5Mdollars but hidden in that link it might actually go to http://www.onlinecrimefamily.co/yourpcisnowmine sometimes the links are just a word or two or a button. If this is the case most email programs will display the actual destination address in the bottom status bar when you hover over it with the pointer. If you are on a phone or tablet a long press will pop up a menu which will allow you to copy the link and you can paste it into a note or somewhere else safe that won’t immediately try to open the address.

Sadly even with doing all this you are still at risk. The bad guys are very sneaky, they want your money and will do anything to get it, that’s why anti-virus and anti-malware applications have such a hard time detecting everything. New strains of ransomware are being discovered at a very alarming rate.

The good news

Ok, now some good news. A new tool to add to your arsenal has just recently been released, its called RansomFree from Cybereason. https://ransomfree.cybereason.com/

The secret to RansomFree’s success is not in signature files like antivirus applications, but rather in how it detects ransomware-like behavior (i.e., the local encryption of user data). This makes the application good at doing its job, since all ransomware, so far, has displayed the same characteristics regardless of its payload. Whether the attack is a Trojan, vulnerability exploit, or malicious code, RansomFree is designed to deal with the interaction of the file(s) with the system and bring it to an immediate halt once the behaviour is classified as a threat and until the user intervenes.

Oh, did I mention that it’s free?

Not for a trial period or needing a subscription, but as in free for personal and commercial use on both client and server versions of Windows operating systems. Windows only at the moment.

There’s really no excuse not give it a shot and let it work to stop a possible ransomware infection from occurring. If you’re not targeted, you’d never know it was there—but it’s a great peace of mind to have it on your side in the event of a breach? I think so.

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WOW, that’s a great deal!

I came across this ad on my Facebook feed this morning, yes, it’s a re-posted ad from 2016 but obviously, the people who posted the ad are still selling these thumb/flash/USB – drives/sticks/devices, call them what you may. I will refer to these as sticks from now on.

I read through the list of software that is pre-installed on the stick and was amazed that they had the balls to advertise this. To further insult us they claim that it is VIRUS FREE x 3.WOW, must be ok then because they said so, three times. Strictly speaking, a computer virus is just a specific type of malware. A computer virus is a type of malware that can easily replicate itself and spread from computer to computer by infecting other computer files much like a biological virus can spread from one person to another. True computer viruses are less common these days. Bad Guys are now more likely to use other types of malware that can better achieve their nefarious goals.

They count on the fact that 99% of anti-virus won’t detect the viruses/malware on them because the most important limitation of antivirus scanners is that they cannot always detect new or updated types of malware and this can leave computer users without the necessary knowledge vulnerable to infection. This failure is because the software may not yet have the virus signatures it requires to detect the malware. Or, it may simply not be equipped to deal with some of the sophisticated types of malware that is currently around. Criminals are always pushing the envelope to find new ways of distributing malware and antivirus programs may not always be able to keep up with these trends.

Ok, let’s look a little closer at the list, first let’s make a list of all the software/apps that you can download for free anyway;

  • Google Chrome from Google
  • Teamviewer from Teamviewer
  • Daemon Tools
  • Minecraft
  • VLC
  • WinRAR
  • Speccy
  • Latest Drivers Pack??? (What exactly are these drivers for anyway and are they legitimate and even drivers?)

All the rest of the “Free” apps on the stick are not free, which means they have been cracked or patched.

Ask yourself these questions, who cracked them? Are they Ok to use? Could they be malicious?

Ok, stop asking questions, warning bells should be bashing you up the side of your head now, not just ringing. You have no idea where these “Free” apps came from or how they were cracked or patched.

The easiest way that “the bad guys” can take over/spy on/log keystrokes on your PC is to convince you to use “free” software that would normally be very expensive, and to add insult to injury this is a bootable USB so they get you to boot into “their” operating system, now you are in their world. Who knows what it will copy over to your hard drive to be silently installed in the background next time you boot normally, while you sit like a smiling zombie using your great “free” apps secure in knowledge that they are ***VIRUS FREE*** x 3.

There are so many bad signs when I read this ad that my neck is sore from shaking my head in disbelief.

I hope they people that posted this ad see this because I invite them to prove that all the software on the stick they are selling is legitimate and free from all malware/viruses/ransomware, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, they will sell these to people and that will just increase the problem.

Anyway, without getting too geeky all I can say is “buyer beware”. If you feel that this is too good a deal to miss then buy it, but don’t complain when your accounts get hacked.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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