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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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How to Stop Annoying Mystery Robo Callers and Business Spam Calls

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We all have mobile devices and most of us are glued to the daily… so it’s pretty much the best way to contact millions of people around the world. However, it’s gotten quite out of control lately with all of the spam and robo calls that are just coming in non-stop!

For offshore business and scammy operations, it’s a fraudulent haven for making money off the unsuspecting and even for businesses looking to simply push their legitimate services call after call after call. Just like there are spam emails, spam blog comments, and spam forum and social media postings… this wave of spam phone calls is just the latest way for unethical businesses and startups to make money.

Unfortunately, more often then not, most of these call are routed from other countries, and may even show up as a local number on your mobile device. This makes it even more annoying to find and report them, let alone stop them.

The good news is there are some ways to not only block, look up and avoid these numbers… but there are some fun ways to mess around with the robo callers and India call centers as well.

Here are some fun and useful resources to help out in the process.

Start With a Reverse Phone Number Lookup

Your phone should be a helpful part of your life. When you receive multiple calls from people you do not know, it becomes a nuisance. If you notice that your phone is ringing more than normal you need to start looking up the numbers with  reverse phone lookup. Several numbers from strange area codes may be from telemarketers or bill collectors. You may even be getting calls from people trying to reach someone else. Enter the number on the reverse lookup site to receive information about the person or company that is calling you. Make a list of all the questionable numbers you receive and get started quickly

The option is also there to check out the FTC site and add your name to the do not call list, but as most of us already now — it usually doesn’t make a difference. It’s kind of like trying to unsubscribe to as many emails and newsletters in your inbox, but you just keep getting more and more.

Learn How to Individual or Bulk Block Numbers By Mobile Device

Once the number is listed on the site, you are given information about the person calling. Sometimes you get a name of a person or company. If you are familiar with the caller, you can return the call and find out what is needed to stop excessive calls. If you are given a spam warning or do not know the caller, it is best to block the call.

There are several reverse phone number lookup sites out there and plenty of them provide useful information for free. When someone gets a spam call, they often get pissed off and want to report the numbers online, so there is a good bet the number that just called you is already listed as a spammy number somewhere online.

Either way, one of the best ways to stop unwanted calls is to understand how to bulk remove, ignore, or report numbers based on the mobile device you have.

Working Methods to Block and Protect Your Number from Spam Calls

Your goal is probably to reduce the amount of mystery calls coming to your phone. Look up all the numbers you are unfamiliar with and block the ones that are not relevant. If you are receiving a lot of telemarketer calls, find out how to get off the call lists. When you block a telemarketing call, they often try again with a different phone number.

It is important to be clear about ending the calls if you talk to a telemarketer. You must be firm with your demands and keep blocking the numbers. Bill collection calls can be stopped by communicating with companies when you are late on bills. They can often decide with you and lessen the calls. Blocking these calls is also an option, as you can call the companies yourself when you are ready to resolve payments.

Get Revenge By Wasting the Time of a Live Call Center

Most robo calls start off with a random call, then if they can tell someone picked up the call, it will then forward over to a live person. Usually there is a pause or click noise, which is easy for people to tell right away that it’s an annoying spam caller.

The good news, is that there are plenty of prank apps and tools out there to turn the table.

Apps like robokiller.com make it easy to download the app, then have it run on your phone. It’s cool because the premium version is working off an ever expanding list of all users who are getting phone calls, so the app is actively blocking and reporting new calls all the time.

Even better, when a spam call does come through, you can set it up so there is a fake conversation that will drag on for several minutes and completely waste the time of the call center person. It also records such conversations for funny audio files you can listen to later on.

We All Hate Spam and Robot Calls… So When Will Then End?

It feels like an invasion of privacy when mystery calls take over your phone. You may wish to keep your phone available for calls from family or your business. Do not rush to change your phone number. As you can see from the examples laid out above, there are plenty are ways to solve the problem and discern between proper calls and those from telemarketers with a reverse phone lookup. With a little effort, you can enjoy your phone again.

And in the best situations… don’t get mad — get even!

Block their numbers, report them, and even use the prank call apps to give them a taste of their own medicine.

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Instagram Influencer Marketing: Where We Are Headed in 2020

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Since its launch in October 2010, Instagram has been the most sought after social networking site and application. Users get to follow family, friends, and celebrities they admire. But over time it has developed into more than being just a platform to either like or leave comments beneath your favorite pictures and videos. Brands quickly realized the importance in Instagram, while also seeing the new opportunities in branding and marketing that it has created for them

For most brands, Instagram isn’t just about being seen and active on the world’s most popular platform, it also directly connects them to their various consumers and prospective clients. With such a massive user base, Instagram eventually provided the necessary tools needed to advertise products, goods, and services to users worldwide on its platform.

Growth of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing like any other sector has been subject to various changes and trends — such as the massive movement to mobile and how they would eventually go on to monetize the platform and it’s users.

Other factors like technology and consumer preference also play a huge role in its growth. Influencer marketing and business has grown exponentially and this is no surprise as brands are drawn to techniques that work, and many of them are seeing and reporting huge profits and ROI in the process.

Influencer marketing does work and in fact, yields amazing results when the proper time, work, and effort is put in place. Much like how influencers built up their massive followings and subscribers on YouTube, we are seeing the same with Instagram. However, the way these content creations earn revenue is much different from how users get paid on YouTube. Instead, for influencers on Instagram, it’s all about their reach and the many different types of branding/sponsor deals they can make.

Influencers build their credibility over time to enable them to market with precision. There are various types of influencers but at the moment the social media influencers are making effects worldwide every day. Usually from the comfort of their homes or offices. To become a social media influencer a lot of work would be done to identify your niche. Choose a social media channel like Instagram and then you distribute your content. You will also need to grow your network whilst engaging your followers.

How to Find Success with Influencer Marketing on Instagram

As we all know, there are thousands of ways to advertise and market a brand online. However, the game of influencer marketing and Instagram is a whole different beast of it’s own.

This process basically involves finding legitimate influencers on Instagram for the advertisement of products. These influencers are chosen based on audience and reach. Other factors like authenticity, passion, great marketing mind, and persona are also considered. Before employing the services of an Instagram influencer, brands are expected to carry out thorough background checks. This enables them to pick an influencer which would best suit their taste.

Since anyone can create an Instagram account and load up their account with a ton of followers, it’s important to analyze all potential influencers and also knowing who their audience is and what they might best engage with.

Instagram has tools that aid influencers to market various products effectively. Through the use of Instagram sponsored posts an influencer can reach a brands desired target audience or increase their reach overall through the use of a paid ad campaign. This allows organic posts to reach a wider range of audience for a fee. This tool also helps users and brands choose a target audience based on location, age, sex, and interests.

Not only is this is a very impressive form of marketing that allows for effective marketing, it also leads into the power of general advertising on Instagram as well. With Facebook Ads running both Instagram and their Ads platform, you know it’s going to be a top notch advertising solution

With all of this in place, with the right split testing and targeting, many brands and individuals are seeing very good results in terms of sales, reach, growth, and ROI. There are other tools like Famoid which helps monitor followers growth, while also allowing for improved reach to more followers — not just on Instagram, but also on other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Another tool is Sprout Social, which is great for understanding the metrics behind engaging posts. There are of course other tools and solutions out there as well, and each are geared towards yielding better results as regards marketing on Instagram. You will also find that many of the tool range in size and efficiency as well. Some will be better for individual use, while others are catered more towards agencies.

Where We Are Headed In 2020

Currently, there are many stories surrounding the drama between Instagram influencers and companies who are using them. Sometimes brands withdraw their contracts from these influencers due to various reasons, such as not seeing a positive ROI, engagement and views are showing up as promised, or simply from shady activies and not getting a full disclosure statement from influencers to their audiences.

Usually, this is as a result of misbehavior on the part of the influencers. It is important to note that the misbehavior of Instagram influencers usually affects these brands negatively. The world is watching and most times everyone usually has something to say. And the brands usually take the blowback of these ignorant acts. Some incur a drastic reduction in sales. Others lose important business partners. This emphasizes the importance of choosing the right Instagram influencer. Thorough background checks and examination of the techniques used is crucial, before proceeding to employ their services.

As we look ahead to the coming months and years of Instagram and it’s dramatic growth to one billion monthly active users, the influencer marketing game really is only just getting started.

With upgrades being made on Instagram it’s hard to say exactly what the future holds for influencer marketing on Instagram. However, there does seem to be an endless supply or users and branding opportunities… so the opportunities for both influencers and brands will likely continue to existing as long as the platform is thriving.

The advent of AR filters for Instagram stories allow influencers and brands to create their own customized filters. Customized filters can only be viewed and unlocked by followers of that particular Instagram influencer. This allows Instagram users and brand influencers to connect on a new and different level. Also, some brands have been able to create interest and stories about their influencers. They do this by taking them on vacations. They are allowed to document this experience, post online and let their audience react. This creates an adventure for followers to connect to. This is a very important tool for influencer marketing on Instagram.

It is quite obvious that influencer marketing on Instagram is very important and will continue to play a big role in the coming years. The hub of influencers, brands and Instagram users has already been established, and word is rapidly spreading about how money much these Instagram users are making. Along with the amount of the influencers available continuing to rise, so will the tools used to improve influencer marketing for brands as well. Come 2020 influencers will control over 90%  of the population of potential customers on Instagram as they already control more than half.

Statistics have shown that a number of items have been purchased right after being promoted by an online influencer. It has been estimated that influencer marketing on Instagram will be a billion dollar industry by 2020. 22% of 18-34-year-olds made a large purchase after the product was endorsed by an online influencer. This is not a surprise as 39% of active Instagram accounts are influencers. These accounts also have over 15,000 active followers which in total indicates a large percentage of the Instagram society. Relevant influencers have the power to pull off a very high number of sales in quite a short period of time.

In short, online users can easily persuade the majority of their audience to make use of a product or service that they recommend. Here are some quick stats to back it up.

  1. 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions. A survey conducted by Collective Bias involving 14,000 respondents in the US, reveals this influencer marketing statistic.
  2. The same survey reveals that 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Consumers can relate more to these influencers and value their opinions more than that of celebrity influencers.

Consequently, there are complications to influencer marketing on Instagram. This greatly affects its growth and development. Some influencers have a negative attitude to work and to its audience. 94% of influencers agree on the importance of authenticity and transparency. These key factors are needed in marketing on Instagram. When an influencer lacks these, it results in an eventual loss of audience and credibility. Also, brands working with such an influencer at the time will be forced to withdraw. Influencers are also worried about the number of fake followers and bots on Instagram. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right influencer when a handful of them have fake followers.

The Future of Instagram Influencer Marketing and Where We Are Headed

If you are already active on Instagram, you likely already know how active the platform is with influencer marketing and with their paid advertising. Being in the online marketing and advertising space, most of us will see this even more clearly.

Influencer marketing has become a full-time profession. It is expected to evolve and become a bigger industry come 2020, and years beyond. The companies and brands that make moves earlier and lock in some of these smaller influencers now may go on to see a much higher ROI int he months and years to come.

Statistics have shown that influencer marketing on Instagram is on the rise, and if you aren’t currently using it, your competition likely will.

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Maximizing the ROI of Exhibition Marketing by Leveraging Your Blog

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Many business owners mistakenly believe that trade show marketing is obsolete. They believe that it is better to focus on educating and reaching potential customers through their blog or posting videos on YouTube. Marketers that make this assumption are missing out on an excellent source of potential new customers. Trade show marketing is alive and well. PwC estimates that the exhibition event industry is worth $14.3 billion. Rather than viewing exhibition marketing as an outdated strategy, you should combine it with your digital marketing strategy.

You can definitely reach a lot of customers through content marketing. However, many customers want to see you show off your products at local exhibitions. Tradeshows are A much more personal form for interacting with customers.

If you want to make the most of your tradeshow marketing strategy, you should leverage it with your blog. Here are some ideas to consider.

Use your blog to educate future customers about products before they attend your tradeshow

Most people stumble upon trade shows while attending another, larger event, such as a county fair. They have no prior knowledge of the products or vendors at the tradeshow.

As a trade show vendor, you aren’t going to get as much value if your prospective customers aren’t informed beforehand. You are going to need to dedicate the entire event to educating them and answering elementary questions.

This is where your blog can come in handy. Take some time to write blog posts about your upcoming trade show. A marketing expert we talked to from RollerBanners suggests having an FAQ section so you can let people know about the different products that you are going to showcase. You can even embed a couple of videos about your products, so readers have some idea of what to expect when they attend your trade show.

Customers will have a better idea about your products after reading your blog posts. They will attend your trade show more prepared and ready to ask more helpful questions. By asking more informed questions, they will have the information they need to decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Encourage customers to contribute positively to the discussion

Most exhibition events encourage two-way conversations. This format can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the comments of the attendees.

If customers have a negative perception of your product, they may make negative comments that will dissuade other people from making a purchase. On the other hand, people that express positive sentiments about your products well encourage others to consider buying your products.

For example, click fraud detection company Clickcease, is attending conferences around the world all the time. The benefit here is two fold:

  1. They get to increase exposure to their brand and meet new businesses and potential clients.
  2. The visibility and one-on-one interaction is a great way to build trust and new clientele.

However, it’s also important to understand that not all businesses and brands have the time or budget to attending conferences around the world. For times like these, it’s best to use your blog to facilitate positive discussions which may have also been relevant at marketing trade shows.

Here are few ways it can help:

  • You can use your blog to dispel any negative assumptions people might have about your product. This will help discourage people from asking leading questions that could cast your brand in a negative light.
  • You can highlight some of the milestones you have reached and unique selling points about your products. Did you get an honorable mention from a reputable organization in your area? Talk about it on your blog. People might discuss the positive elements of your product amongst each other at your event or ask positive questions about the admirable elements of your brand.
  • People that are not going to be interested in your product will be less likely to attend. Although there is always a possibility that hecklers will come by to express their criticism, most people that don’t like what you have to offer will simply avoid your event after reading your blog post. This means they won’t be around to spread negative feelings about your brand at your tradeshow.

Your blog is a great platform for facilitating discussions about your brand. Why not use it to encourage positive feedback with other customers at your tradeshow?

Attract more targeted attendees to your event

Old school marketers used to measure the success of exhibition marketing by the number of people that attended an event. In the digital marketing era, marketers understand that the quality of leads is more important than the quantity. Attracting more targeted leads significantly increases your opportunity to make a sale.

You can use your blog to draw more interested participants. The easiest way to do this is by reading blog articles and optimizing them around relevant keywords. For example, if you are running a trade show in Dallas, Texas to promote a couple of woodworking tools you created, you could optimize your articles around the following keywords:

  • “Woodworking trade show Dallas”
  • “woodworking events in Dallas”
  • “woodworking schools in Dallas”
  • “Learn about woodworking in Dallas”

You could also add the names of other surrounding cities so that you could reach people in those areas as well. People going on Google to learn more about woodworking will stumble upon your blog posts and learn about your upcoming events. Then they will be more likely to attend your events and consider making a purchase.

Optimizing your blog for SEO is an excellent way to draw targeted leads to your tradeshows. Here are some tips that will help.

Build backlinks to your blog from local websites

Offsite optimization is one of the most important elements of SEO. You can have exceptional content on your blog, but it won’t start ranking until you have built quality backlinks.

There are a number of ways that you can build the links to your blog. Some of them are much more effective than others. A lot of the outdated SEO strategies that worked well 10 years ago are pretty much worthless today. Submitting articles to generic article directories like Ezine Articles is not going to give you quality results. Also, most of the old website directories have either been deindexed by Google or have started adding the “nofollow” tag to outgoing links. You won’t get any link benefit from using them.

So, how do you go about building quality links to your blog to promote your events? One of the best approaches to use local news and other websites. There are a couple of reasons this is better than using generic platforms for building links:

  • Backlinks from local sites will seem more relevant to Google.
  • These websites are not constantly getting spammed by people looking to promote their websites. They will be more comfortable using the “dofollow” tag.
  • Websites owned by other businesses in your area will be more likely to trust you if you are also local. They will be more comfortable sharing your event.

Try collaborating with at least five local websites. You might be surprised to see how much your rankings increase afterwards.

Optimize your blog for every city within a couple of hours

When you are trying to optimize your website to reach local customers, it is easy to get tunnel vision. Most businesses only optimize their website for their own city. They forget that there might be a dozen other cities within a reasonable driving distance. If you optimize your blog for those cities, you might be able to reach those customers too.

Create high-quality articles that are at least 1,000 words long

When you are writing a blog post about your upcoming tradeshows, you should make sure they are as detailed as possible. Google tends to rank websites higher in the SERPs if most of the articles are 1,000 to 2000 words long. The average article on the front page is 1,900 words long.  You will find that a lot of local competitors are still ranking for websites with short-form content. However, this is usually because there isn’t much competition. You will have a strong advantage if you use longer articles.

You can also learn more about SEO and blog page length here.

Share testimonials on your blog

Your tradeshow could help people decide whether or not to purchase a product. However, it never hurts to try influencing customers before the event.

If you can give customers a positive impression of your brand before the event, you will have an easier time coaxing them into making a purchase. One of the best ways to do this is by sharing testimonials on your blog.

Testimonials have been proven to be very effective at increasing conversion rates. They will both entice people to attend your event and make them more willing to make a purchase once they visit.

Use your blog to follow up with customers that attended your tradeshow

Most of the other strategies outlined here focus on encouraging people to attend your tradeshow and making them more open to your pitch. However, your blog can also be great for engaging with people that attended your event.

The average person needs to be exposed to your brand seven times before they make a purchase. They might not be ready to become a customer after attending your tradeshow. However, if you encourage them to visit your blog for more information, they might be ready to make the commitment. You can also use your trade show to get them to join your mailing list so you will be able to engage with them more regularly.

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