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How to Safely Manage Your Digital Files and Customer Data

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As online businesses and entrepreneurs, we can all appreciate the power and value of data on the internet today. No longer do we need to download and install software to a computer and be limited to where we can access our work or data online. At the same time, the costs of data storage and web space are also now cheaper than ever. With so much information constantly being uploaded, created and accessible on the internet, the business of online security is booming. While all of this is going on, it’s also important to understand why and how your data is being stored and if it’s being protected in the process.

Quick Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data and Customer Information Safe

The ability to store thousands of digital files in a single location has eliminated the pressure that a person might otherwise feel to organize those files if they were physical documents or materials that were cluttering up a desk or bookshelf. The “out of sight, out of mind” principal helps a person to ignore the clutter that is likely buried in their personal workstations, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that lack of organization elevates that person’s cybersecurity risks. A physical document that includes sensitive personal or financial information can be shredded and destroyed, but a digital file that contains the same information can lay hidden forever.

Safe management of digital files begins with organizing those files into digital folders according to a consistent filing structure. Businesses with several employees can use a commercial document management system to automate this task. Duplicate digital files should be deleted to avoid losing track of sensitive information. Create a separate index of files to allow easy access to and recovery of data. Folders and sub-folders can become overly complicated, and a business that is not relying on a management system should develop its own folder filing system and naming strategy to minimize those complications.

Even with such protections in place, the number of attacks on personal data and customer information is still growing daily. Kaspersky reports 62% of people have experienced attacks involving their financial data, while 61% of those people were never able to fully recover data that was lost due to a cyber attack.

Document management should be coupled with a data backup strategy. Some commercial document management systems automatically back data up into the cloud. If cloud backup is used, make sure that all data sent to the cloud is encrypted at the time of the backup process. If cloud backup is not used, data can be backed up onto external hard drives, SSD devices, or other media that is disconnected from any online environment and stored in a secure location.

Customer files and other sensitive data can be further protected with hashing and salting routines. Hashing will authenticate messages to confirm the legitimacy of an information request. Salting adds extra values to passwords to make them more difficult for a password hacking algorithm to guess. When used with end-to-end encryption, hashing and salting will create an even more secure data management environment.

The Business of Keeping Personal Data and Company Information Safe

While these tasks might seem simple enough, data protection is a 24/365 game of defense for nearly all businesses and brands in the world today. With company and customer data being more crucial to protect than ever before, Microsoft recently came out with their own stats and infographic on the matter. Highlights from the report noted the following:

  • 140+ Days – The average number of days a hacker sits on your network before they are detected.
  • $12M – The average cost a business is impacted by for each security breach.
  • 72% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, relying on devices other than their laptop to be productive.
  • 87% of senior managers admit to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account.

You can see even more information through the visual infographic below.

Unfortunately, even the safest management of digital files will not guarantee their protection from hackers who are intent on stealing the information in those files. In 2016, for example, the commercial cloud backup provider, Dropbox, suffered a data breach that leaked details of more than 68 million user accounts. Information in those accounts that was encrypted or otherwise locked down with hashing and salting was better protected from loss, largely because hackers will go after data that is easier to access without wasting time trying to break through encryption and other protections. Still, those data files did fall into cyberattackers’ hands and still remain at risk of being unencrypted.

Even with the potential for a data breach at all times, data storage platforms like Dropbox are still in massive demand and their usage numbers just continue to keep growing over time. Take a look at the chart below to see how Dropbox has scaled from their initial launch in 2008 to having more than 500 million users today. The massive growth behind Dropbox all started with their referral program that would reward users with extra space in exchange for referring a new Dropbox user. The funny thing about this process is that Dropbox was already ahead of the data storage game before many other companies and brands jumped into the mix.

Eight years later and Dropbox is still the largest player in this space, thanks to their five times faster sync on average versus competitors, having released over 90+ product updates in the past year and also having 500 billion calls to the Dropbox API per year. All of this is ultimately in place to not only scale the company in size, but to also protect customer data and files as well.

In addition to the massive business of online data storage and data protection, there is also going to be a world of opportunities for affiliate marketers to make money in this space as well — which includes everything from data monitoring, spyware software and data notification platforms that are constantly monitoring personal information and mentions online. The more money and competition that flows into this space, the more money there are for advertisers, affiliates and the sites covering such data and resources.

Personal and Customer Data Manage Best Practices are Key

At the end of the day, the more we talk about data management and the potential downsides and hacks that come along with it, it’s simply a matter of keeping us all aware of such conditions and informing each other on better ways to protect our information. There is no doubt that online data storage and customer data will continue to be hacked and released on the dark web by hackers, but there are also some precautions everyone can do to keep their data safe. The unfortunate truth is that most of these leaks will likely come from other companies and brands that already have customer information, and will soon be attacked.

Good digital file management can therefore raise the bar for cyber protection, but it cannot stop a cyberattack that potentially compromises data in those digital files. The question that frequently comes up during a data file management project is “what is liability insurance and how does it fit into management of data files?” The simple answer is that cybersecurity insurance reimburses direct losses that a business might experience when hackers break through its cyber defenses, and provides funds to pay certain liabilities to third parties and fines from regulatory authorities that are levied when sensitive customer data is lost.

One of the more consistent recommendations for good data file management is that doing something is better than nothing at all, and that a management project should be started as soon as is possible. Hackers and cyberattackers are working every day to find new gaps in cybersecurity procedures as older gaps are closed off. Managing data files and adding cybersecurity insurance can keep businesses and individuals at least one step ahead of the hackers.

To learn more about the costs associated with cybercrimes and data leaks, be sure to always keep an eye on the latest data leaks in the business world, and also set up something as simple as a “Google Alerts” notification around your personal name to see when and where your information might be posted online.

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Quick Tips to Find eCommerce Marketing Success with Instagram

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When it comes to online retail, the competition is very stiff on a global scale. With so many people now going online to make purchases, the number of etail businesses has rocketed over the years. For those who plan to set up a retail business online through platforms such as Shopify, it is important to work out how to make your business stand out and increase exposure.

As a small online retailer, the chances are you don’t have a lot of money to splash out on marketing. The good news is that in today’s digital era, you don’t need a huge amount of money to market your online retail venture and help gain exposure. In fact, you can do is very simply and conveniently through sites such as Instagram and other social media platforms.

What Are the Key Benefits for Businesses?

So, what are the key benefits of marketing your online retail business through Instagram and other social media sites? Well, one of the key benefits you can look forward to is the cost-efficiency of this solution, as you won’t have to spend a fortune to reach out to audiences far and wide. In fact, you can market your business and reach out to audiences with far greater ease when you use social media, and you can do it completely free.

With the addition of ecommerce features and advertising options comes to Instagram, this is only going to expand the growth opportunities even further. If you think Facebook was great for demographic targeting and for ecommerce sales, just want until you see what Instagram has lined up. You can read more on this here.

Another major benefit you can look forward to is saving a huge amount of time and resources. This is particularly beneficial for small and start-up businesses, as they often don’t have the resources and time needed to get involved in complex marketing campaigns. With social media platforms like Instagram, you won’t need to worry about this, as you can market your business with speed and ease.

It is also important to consider the reach that social media offers compared to other forms of advertising and marketing. When you use social media platforms, you can reach out far and wide to a global audience with your message. This means that you can engage your target audience and break into new marketing in other destinations simply by promoting your retail business, products, and services online.

Customer engagement can be very difficult these days, but it is also vital if you want to benefit from business success. By using social media, you can engage your audience with far greater ease. This means you can help to build confidence in your business and brand, which will help to further boost the success of your business.

A Simple Solution for Success

Anyone that runs a Shopify business will be keen to spread the word and let people know about special deals, offers, promotions, and new lines. In addition, they will be eager to build a solid reputation for their brand and business. Well, this provides a simple and effective solution that can help to seal the success of your Shopify business. With digital technology at your fingertips and with so many people spending time online, marketing your business is simpler than ever.

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Smart Ways to Generate More Leads for Your Online Business in 2019

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“Ways to get more leads” is something crucial that don’t disappear from to-do list of successful business owners because lead generating is one of the foundational elements of developing and growing a business. Revenues of online businesses are usually determined by the number of leads generated. That is the reason; any business or company must be able to generate more leads in order to earn more and to combat the increasing competition in the market.

In this article, we have gathered proven eCommerce lead generation tips that can turn your business website into a lead generation machine.

Create Better Landing Pages

As landing page is a web page where visitors land after clicking on the link found via Google search, an advertisement or from a link added to social media post, it must be appealing and creatively developed in order to turn visitors into leads. High converting landing pages combine the overall layout of the page and compelling copy in a way that builds trust and value in the visitor’s mind.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of landing pages, you need to be. In short, they are a page that is created with a specific end goal in mind.

To see a live example of this, we can take a look at the two samples below.

Bad Landing Page Example:

Below you will see an ad copy for a company that is looking for new clients… but their advertisement has way too much text and is all over the place. The phone number is very visible, but there is simply way too much content overload here, and the conversions are probably horrible.

Better Landing Page Example:

A much better way to approach the same promotional offer and company, is to build a super clean landing page with a direct call to action. Notice the same image of the kid and day is being used — while also giving a nice testimonial. Also, there is one clear call to action, which is to either call today or click on the button to contact them today.

Source: https://landingi.com/blog/create-landing-pages-that-convert

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to get more leads to an online business. For this purpose, you will need to build an active list by collecting website visitors’ contact details (Email IDs). Once you have successfully made the list, start an email marketing campaign and invite them to visit your landing pages or physical outlet to gather more details about a specific product or service. Providing them with discount coupons via email could be a great tactic to persuade them for purchases.

When creating any type of email campaign, you will need to spend a lot of time on the title and call to actions you have in place. This resource from SendGrid is really great for breaking down how a single title can include urgency, commitment, and personalization all within one line.

Blog with High-value Content

Making a blog for your business website will not only help you boost content marketing efforts but will also make your business appear in top SERPs. Update your business blog with high value and problem-solving content turn your readers into leads. Instead of writing lengthy blog posts, you should use different content forms on your blog such as eBooks, infographics, how-to guides and short videos etc. You can also provide your readers with some free stuff to ask them for their contact details in return that later can be used in different digital marketing techniques like email marketing.

Most bloggers fail to find success with their sites and content, because they are focusing too much on just putting new content out there. Instead, they should be focusing on creating call to actions and using lead generation throughout their site — in relation to their content. Such methods can be done through newsletter signups, one-click upsells, social shares, and using popups throughout your site (depending on when and where your visitors click). You can see a bunch of working examples on how to do this, here.

Turn Social Followers Into Leads

People follow you on different social media platforms because they are interested in something you provide and it could be useful. That’s why it is pretty easy to convert your social media followers into leads. You can add a link of your landing page into your social media bio or run advertisement campaigns such as Facebook ads in order to let them know what you offer and what they must to do to use the offer. The best thing about social media marketing is that you can show your advertisement to the target audience in order to get more leads. You can also choose the audience based on their interests and search history.

Every business and website will have a different need for social media followers, but the end goal is to try and convert those users into revenue and new sales. Zappos is a great example of a company that focused heavily on social media and customer support — thus growing them into the trusted and loved brand they are today.

Optimize Your Site for Mobile

When it comes to generating more leads for online business or brand, optimization of the business website for mobile should be one of the major concerns as more and more people are using mobile devices for web surfing these days. People love to use their mobiles when they are in search of desired products, services or information and a highly mobile optimized website can get more views and leads too. It is an indication that people are thinking about buying stuff when browsing social media and search engines on their smartphones or tablets.

Making sure your site is mobile responsive is very easy — especially if you are using WordPress. If you are selling products, then you might want to customize the process and make sure your content is viewing properly across all mobile devices. WebDesignTeam recommends looking at the following aspects of your site when prepping for mobile traffic and sales.

  1. Planning– One thing to always keep in mind is to plan before producing your work. A good web design firm knows and understands this. You have to sketch out the results that you wish to achieve and prepare a way to success so that you will know when you are on the right track.
  2. Engineering software– Using engineering software, a web design firm knows how to utilize the best aspects of technology to create the perfect site. So the key to achieving this is to focus on getting the best design firm.
  3. Responsive Design– Responsive design can be achieved through a variety of techniques that will help you achieve your goals through your website.
  4. Focus on Navigation– Navigation is important within your design because it makes your site more usable and accessible, no matter what type of device users come in on.

Personalized and Appealing CTAs

One of the vital elements of every digital marketing campaign is the call to action (CTA). It is a tool used to direct potential customers to take the very next step. A personalized and appealing call to action successfully grabs the attention of the visitor and makes the action taking process clear. There must be a great combo of the overall design of the CTA and wording to convince visitors to take an action you want them to take. A/B testing can also help you find out the best performing CTAs for your different landing pages.

If you really want to put some time, effort, and automation/technology into the mix, you should consider creating a few customized ad campaigns through your Facebook Ads and using your mailing list. You can learn more about this method and more at aaronzakowski.com.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Online Marketing Efforts

As you can see, there are some pretty effective and useful ways to start advertising your brand online across different mediums and methods. Depending on the methods you are using, you will find that each of them may convert better/worse than expected.

The most important thing is that you start implementing these methods as soon as possible.

For more winning marketing methods, be sure to check out one of our top email marketing tips posts.

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How Do Small Businesses Compete in Competitive Niches?

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Having your business isn’t just tough, it’s also extremely competitive — no matter what niche market you might find yourself falling into. This is especially true for small businesses breaking into major industries that find themselves up against some tough competition, in both offline and online markets. Without a large following or backing, it can be difficult to penetrate the market.

However, there are ways you can put your business’s best foot forward set yourself apart from your competitors. Just because you don’t have a multimillion dollar budget (yet) doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the white flag. If you’re passionate about creating great products and services and putting in the work to see your brand grow, you’re already on the right path.

Here’s how small businesses like yours can compete in competitive niches:

Work With Micro Influencers

On average, a business will see a $6.50 ROI for every dollar they invest in influencer marketing. Micro influencers typically have anywhere between 1,000 to 50K followers, compared to the 500,000K+ that macro influencers tend to have. But there are key differences between these groups.

There are several reasons micro influencer strategies are particularly beneficial for small businesses. For starters, studies have shown that micro influencers have a much higher engagement, because they are able to better manage their follower base through genuine connections. And according to Collective Bias, non-celebrity influencers are 10x more likely to drive in-store purchases than their celeb counterparts.

The report also went on to state the following:

  • Nearly 60% of survey respondents have taken a blog review or social media post viewed on a smartphone or tablet into consideration while shopping in-store.
  • One in five men (18.3%) have had blog reviews influence in-store purchases, compared to only one in 10 women (9.2%) who have done the same.
  • U.S. male consumers (34.4%) have purchased consumer electronics in-store about twice as often as women (15.4%) as a result of reading a blog review or social media post.
  • Only 2% of respondents checked Twitter first when researching products, and less than 2% said Twitter had the most influence on their decision to complete an in-store purchase.
  • About 19% of consumers Find Facebook to influence their purchasing decision most, with YouTube coming in second at nearly 18%. YouTube is especially popular with men (22.8%) compared to women (13.9%).

And it’s not just genuine connections and high engagement rates you’re after: micro influencers are pretty cost-effective, too. Many micro influencers will publish curated content for the cost of a free product or service, while others charge in the low-hundreds range.

Leverage SEO and Reach New Audiences

Many business owners understand the benefits of search engine optimization, but don’t know how to accurately implement it. The truth is, there’s much more to SEO than incorporating keywords into meta tags, titles, and content. To stay competitive, your business needs a strategy that starts before you even begin putting copy onto the page. Thorough industry and competitor keyword research is needed, and it should be exclusive to your niche.

For example, if you owned plastic surgery practice, you’d want to hire an agency that specializes in plastic surgeon SEO. A niche agency would be able to create copy that’s most relevant and proven in your field. As a plastic surgeon, you wouldn’t want to hire an SEO contractor whose roster of past clients includes a long list of fashion retailers.

As referenced eWebResults, these are optimal goals when focusing on SEO and organic reach:

  • Reach the first page of search results for “Plastic Surgery Houston”
  • Generate 10 new client leads each month
  • Identify the best channels suited for your business audience

In order to get as close as possible to your target market, you’ll need to get as close as possible to curating a strategy centered around them. Always talk to your potential agency about how they’ll work within your niche before signing any contracts.  

Stellar Customer Service

One of the biggest benefits of being a small business is that you can take advantage of the ability to offer a much more personalized level of customer service. Unlike larger corporations, you don’t have to deal with the complex processes and bottlenecks between you and your end consumer. Instead, you can exceed customer service by by delivering stellar experiences. Send handwritten “thank you” notes, design ultra-targeted emails, and go above and beyond to resolve issues and make customers happy. These are just a few of the things small business owners can excel at. This should be your top priority.

Speaking of customer service, one of the most well known brands in the world today for going online and building a real business through stellar customer service, is Zappos. Today they are a massively huge company and have banked a ton of customers simply due to their outstanding social media and customer support efforts.

To learn more about Zappos and how they’ve built their brand, click here.

Define Your Brand With Laser Precision

Branding is a crucial component of any business. After all, you build brand loyalty through shared values with your consumers, and the best branding efforts can improve customer loyalty, retention, and help you create a relatable identity. Marketing plays a major role here, and you’ll have to hone in on your ideal customer with laser point precision.

Create a mood board with an actual image of what your target customer looks like. What do their Instagram pages and Pinterest boards feature? What are their hobbies and lifestyle choices? If you want to thrive in a niche market, you have to craft your messaging around a niche “person.” This person becomes the foundation of all your marketing collateral.

It helps to take a look at how other small businesses—both in and outside of your industry—are using branding to get closer to their own markets.

For instance, Tentsile is a small company with a big vision for their product lineup of lightweight suspension hammocks. First and foremost, its logo is a clear demonstration of what you can expect from the product. And like most successful branding campaigns, it uses high-quality imagery to convey a highly specific lifestyle aesthetic to their target segments: outdoor and camping enthusiasts, adventurous travelers, the growing “glamping” crowd.

And speaking of customer service, all you need to do is scroll down on the main site to see how highly rated the product and service is, and how the company uses that as one of their branding tools and selling points.

How to Compete in Very Tough Niche Markets

With more websites and blogs on the internet today than ever before, nearly all niche markets are getting more saturated over time.

The businesses and brands that will continue to see the best results, at the ones that follow these actionable tips and actually become more than just another content site or ecommerce store. This is often done by paying more attention to each new customer and making them feel appreciated.

Yes, this will take more time — but it also works.

If you are looking to improve your business growth and reach, while also taking up more ownership within your niche, be sure to start implementing these tips and best practices today.

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