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The Risks and Costs of Cyber Security in Business Today

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It is positively undeniable that the continuing advances in the Internet have had a profound impact on both our personal and our professional lives. It has become easier and more convenient than ever to connect with people all around the globe in new and innovative ways, from social media to live video and everything in between. From a business standpoint, this has also yielded remarkable opportunities to serve your existing customers better and to reach new customers more effectively.

However, as you are likely very keenly aware, there is always a price to be paid. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about yet another malicious virus circulating around the web or yet another hacker group attempting a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack. Cyber attacks are everywhere and businesses of all sizes need to be paying more attention to their cyber security efforts.

The Growing Threat of Cyber Attacks

A great report and infographic were posted on Business Insider earlier this year, explaining why cyber security is so important and why it will continue to be such a pivotal area of focus in the years to come.

The infographic, which was put together by BI Intelligence Senior Research Analyst John Greenough, explores several areas related to cybersecurity now and moving forward.

cybersecurity-inforgraphic

Think about it this way. As we put more data up on the web and as we get more devices that connect to the Internet, cyber criminals will have even more incentive to perform their nefarious acts. There may have been a bit of a leveling off of total US data breaches between 2014 and 2015, but the upward trend is obvious enough. For this reason and more, organizations and brands around the world are investing more time, money and resources into cyber coverage than ever before, to make sure they are protected from not only future attacks but also liabilities as well.

Remember that everyone is at risk here. If you use Dropbox, Facebook, and Gmail on your smartphone, you are at risk. If you receive payments from your small business customers over the Internet, you are at risk. If you are a government organization or an international mega-corporation, your data centers are at risk.

If you’ve ever had a concern about your online browsing history and personal data getting released, it might also be a good time for you to consider any of these top VPN service providers.

The Five Biggest Risks

According to the BI Intelligence report, which cites information from Raytheon’s Ponemon Institute, the five biggest risks to cyber security and the most threatened by cyber attacks are as follows:

  1. Zero Day Attacks: Whenever any service provider or software developer releases a new solution or program, it is vulnerable to attack. The hackers target vulnerabilities that have not yet been found or patched in the software. This is common with a number of mobile apps, for example, as well as any new releases in operating systems. This is a part of the reason why some software developers host “hackathon” events to proactively seek out vulnerabilities before the “bad guys” use them for nefarious purposes.
  2. Cloud-Data Leakage: Cloud computing and cloud storage have made running an online business infinitely easier. Take the “humble” business of blogging as a prime example. You host your website on a server and you access the back end through a web browser. You might store backups in Google Drive. The same is true with conventional businesses where employees may store what might otherwise be sensitive data to cloud services. That’s a lot of trust, because if those cloud services get hacked, a lot of sensitive customer information can leak, as was the case with the iCloud hack in 2014 that saw the leaking of celebrity private photos.
  3. Mobile Malware: It has been stated multiple times in recent years that mobile is the future. In reality, mobile is the present. More people are accessing Internet services and websites through their mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, than ever before, sometimes surpassing traditional desktop access. Mobile devices are also a treasure trove of data, from contact lists to credit card information. Unsurprisingly, hackers recognize this too.
  4. Targeted Attacks: While there are more general attacks, like how a DDOS can wipe out entire swaths of the Internet at a time, targeted attacks focus their efforts on a predetermined user or organization. Some of these come from activist groups, while others could stem from criminal activity. In both cases, your business could be at risk.
  5. SQL Injection: It used to be that the biggest fear was when a virus or other form of malware infected your own computer. While that is still a threat, to be sure, the scarier attack is one on a server. The hacker can insert malicious code on the server, running through to steal, delete and modify the data stored within. This could represent the compromising of all your customer data and your private records.

The Internet is a wonderfully powerful place, but it is also incredibly vulnerable to attack.

Investing More in Cyber Security

With all of these potential threats, businesses and organizations are significantly ramping up their cyber security efforts. It’s estimated that some $665 billion will be spent on cyber security initiatives between 2015 and 2020. According to Symantec, vulnerabilities were found in about three-quarters of websites around the world. That’s a very large proportion.

computer security breach

And, as mentioned above, this certainly is not a concern only for large corporations and government organizations. Indeed, small businesses are actually at much greater risk of cyber attack. This is because a proportionately larger part of small business worth is derived from the information it owns. If the hacker can steal that information, the direct worth of that small business is immediately diminished.

But if companies and enterprises want to invest more in cybersecurity, where should they be directing their resources? The Vormetric Global Insider Threat Report indicates that these five areas are where organizations are spending or plan to spend their money.

  1. Network Defenses: Protecting data at the network level.
  2. Endpoint and Mobile Device Protection: Securing individual devices against hacking.
  3. Data in Motion Defenses: Protecting the data as it is transmitted from one place to another, including through more advanced encryption.
  4. Data at Rest Defenses: Securing database data against attack by increasing security measures.
  5. Analysis and Correlation Tools: Seeking out suspicious activity by monitoring and analyzing data flow.

Top Cyber Attacks Over the Years

Even though employees are the most cited source of data breaches, they’re obviously not the only ones to blame. A leaky infrastructure becomes a more likely target. Literally, millions of personal records are exposed each year.

Some of the more notable cyber attacks in recent memory include:

  • 2005-07: Albert Gonzalez and his cohorts stole more than 170 million card and ATM numbers using SQL injection.
  • 2010: PayPal hacked and customer information leaked after restricting WikiLeaks’ use of the online payment processor.
  • 2011: Canadian government hacked by users with Chinese IP addresses.
  • 2011: Sony PSN customer information hacked and leaked.
  • 2011: Citigroup victim of brute force attack, exposing 200,000 customer accounts.
  • 2012: Yahoo! hacked with customer passwords leaked on the Internet.
  • 2013: Spamhaus, a popular spam-detecting solution in the UK, hacked.
  • 2014: The “Fappening” leaks nude celebrity photos stolen from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Apple iCloud.
  • 2015: Ashley Madison victim of data breach, perpetrated by The Impact Team.
  • 2016: Concerted DDOS attack of Dyn DNS significantly disrupts Internet access; IoT malware blamed.

How to Protect Yourself

With rising fears of cyber attacks and the increasing need for better cyber security measures, what can you do to protect yourself from such attacks? While no solution will ever be 100% comprehensive, there are a few basic steps you can take.

Security Code

Utilize two-step verification/authentication wherever possible. Use secure and unique passwords with every service that you use. Make sure that all of your online databases and data are suitably protected against attack. Keep regular, redundant backups of all your data in different locations in case any one of them is attacked. Be extra careful with any personal information you share online and how you choose to share it.

And above all else, realize and recognize that anything, everything that you upload to the Internet at any point, even if you delete it anytime thereafter, is vulnerable to attack and theft. If it’s ever been on the Internet, it’s forever and could be exposed to all to see.

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Project Management Software 101: A Guide for New Project Managers

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Project management software is the ultimate solution for businesses looking to stay organized. The program allows you to collaborate on tasks with your team members. You can share progress reports and documents too.

The project management tools help you delegate assignments to your employees.

It’s evident that project management goes beyond collaborating on tasks. This guide focuses on answering one question: What is project management software?

What is Project Management Software?

Project management software definition can be extracted from the following questions: Is your company looking for a tool for organizing assets? Do you want a solution that facilitates smooth communication between your vendors, clients or team members? Are you looking for a solution for budget tracking or scheduling?

New project managers may find it overwhelming to manage several project components at once. Project management software programs allow them to scale up their processes for productivity.

Project management software examples include Microsoft Project and the Zoho Office Suite.

Types of Project Management Software

Software used in project management varies on factors such as company size and intended use. You can find one as either desktop or cloud-based software. Some are developed for specific work obligations or industries.

They’re as follows:

Desktop Project Management Software

Desktop project management software programs allow you to organize your tasks from a PC. All changes made on your project are saved on the PC’s hard drive.

Such programs are available on the market as either free or paid versions with different features included. They require an Internet connection to allow you to collaborate on or share a project.

Cloud-based Project Management Software

The cloud-based ones require a reliable Internet connection since they’re hosted on a web server.

They allow for more security and control since your project will be saved on the cloud. You can even access your project or share files with colleagues regardless of your location.

Cloud-based project management tools are ideal for teams with an active online presence.

What Are the Features in Project Management Software Programs?

Software programs should foster your ability to be efficient and productive at work.

Program management software programs evolved over the years to include several incredible features. Your goal is to care about their impact on the productivity of your team.

Here are some of the features your teams need for project management.

Progress Tracker

Tracking your milestones helps you identify both strong and weak points for improvement. Get a solution that enables you to map your work and monitor significant strides.

A progress tracker allows you to correct identified issues before delving deeper into the project.

Scalable Task Manager

A scalable task manager allows you to define workflows based on the roles of your team members. This feature gives you control over your task delegation process.

Relying on it helps you become flexible when prioritizing tasks and setting deadlines. Find expert assistance on scaling your tasks from this website.

Typical task manager solutions and services offered through third-party solutions usually include:

  • Agile Transformation
  • Agile Workshops
  • Business Agility
  • Project Management
  • The Scrum Kickstart Package

Team Communication Tools

Your project can only run well if your teams communicate with each other. Using different apps for communication can be tiring and time-consuming.

Your team members need an all-in-one tool with impressive communication options. The solution should allow you to engage in productive conversations without disrupting your workflow.

Tools for Setting Role Permissions

Your project management software should cater to the needs of every team member. You need a solution that sets role permissions on tasks that require individuals with particular knowledge.

Such a feature helps you prevent data loss caused by team members that aren’t knowledgeable in a given field.

Each platform and software is going to be different, but each should also come with their own tutorials and guidance videos. This is something Hubspot has done really well with, as they have thousands of customers and teams using their software.

Easy-to-Use Navigation Features

The program should make it easy to access files and documents. Its user interface should include intuitive features for easier navigation. Choose one that’s compatible with your teammates’ devices.

Time Tracking and Reporting Tools

Reporting allows your teams to stay accountable for their actions. Reporting tools give you data on the timeline for executing tasks, the current project stage and the achieved milestones.

The software should feature time tracking tools to provide a real-time update on your work progress.

Why Project Management Software Programs are Essential to Your Work

Your goal when handling tasks and meeting deadlines is to be self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency entails allowing processes to flow as you focus on essential assignments.

Project management software programs enable you to create a self-sustaining model for your teams.

Here are other advantages they can add to your line of work.

Ability to Prioritize Tasks

Projects come with different deadlines, specifications, and tasks. The role of a project manager is to track and organize tasks based on priority.

Project management tools help you accomplish essential tasks first without compromising your ability to tackle the rest.

Optimize Business Processes

You can make your workflow smoother by optimizing your business processes. The optimization process involves examining achievements, failures and redundant tasks.

Count on this activity to identify problems and recommend appropriate solutions. Project management software programs make such a process simple to execute.

Easy Integration

Project management solutions are designed to work with other applications and systems. You can use them with social media sites to share snippets of your work.

They work well with customer relationship management tools too.

Higher Level of Organization and Standardization

Your teams can use project management solutions when working on multiple projects for similar customers. Such solutions help them standardize the process and reduce the time needed to track progress.

They feature several templates you can use to customize each client’s assignment.

Improved Information Sharing and Collaboration

Your team members should aim for transparency when working on the same project. With the right project management tools, they can share ideas for productivity.

You can even assign specific tasks to each one of them and track the status of the work.

How Technology Is Reinventing Project Management Software

Technology is changing how people meet their job responsibilities and manage work.

Digital innovations including smart devices are allowing more people to work far apart. New enterprise software programs are offering limitless opportunities for executing tasks.

Project managers can succeed by relying on a solution that fosters transparency. Project management solutions offer seamless user experiences to both small and large businesses.

Here are some of the market trends on project management software you can learn.

Team Members Are Operating Far from Each Other

The project management industry continues to record an increase in remote users.

Team members are collaborating on projects with large distances between them.

Software developers continue to release new cloud-based solutions as a reaction to this trend. Such updates focus on social networking and collaboration tools.

Project Managers Relying on Big Data Analytics

Previous versions of project management software only allowed for simple data tracking. The modern ones enable project managers to find insights from large data sets.

They come embedded with business intelligence tools for efficiency. You can use them to incorporate data from a recent project into an existing one.

Compatibility with Mobile Devices

Software developers are making project management solutions more adaptable on mobile devices.

Mobile users nearly account for more than half of the traffic generated on websites hosting the software. You can run the software as a mobile app or from your phone’s Internet browser.

What to Consider When Buying Project Management Software

Besides focusing on price, you should look for a solution that can meet your project’s needs.

Register for the trial versions to establish whether a program is worth your cash. Being savvy and keen can also help you get a better deal.

Use the following factors to guide your purchasing decisions, or refer to this complete review on Write — which has applications and securities in place that make it easy for anyone to control users, projects, and data across a wide range of platforms.

Your Implementation Plan

The software program can get your tasks organized. An implementation plan helps you decide on how you’ll use the software to meet your goals. Enlist your team members’ help to map ways for integrating it into your workflow.

Ask Your Teams for Suggestions

Project management solutions are only helpful if you consider your teams’ needs. Encourage them to share suggestions about features they’d love to use.

Base your purchasing decision on their feedback. Consider the program’s application and adoption in your project.

Sample the Trial Versions

Software demos allow you to use a particular program before purchasing it. Trial versions help you determine whether a solution is adequate for your needs.

Pose questions to the software vendors about the product. Pay attention to the means they use to respond to your queries.

Compare and Justify Costs

Determine whether the program’s benefits match the time and cash required to use it.

Find a software program that scales up your business. Compare costs across different vendors too.

Get one that’s suited for both your budget and project needs.

Get the Best Value Out of Your Project Management Software

I hope this guide has answered your “what is project management software” question.

Your upcoming project should be executed with the best tools you’ll ever find. You have to look for a solution that can improve your teams’ input in the project. Focus on getting project management software with the powerful tools you need.

As with all content and services offered through this site, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you might have. I’m looking forward to hearing from you so we can partner up.

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5 Proven Lead Generation Strategies that Won’t Ruin Your Budget

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Every business has to secure new customers, but finding ways to do this on a tight budget can be tricky. Thanks to the internet, this is now easier and more effective than ever before.

In the past, if you were to buy billboard advertising or even place ads in flyers or magazines, it’s always a guess on the type of ROI you were going to see. In fact, it was more like playing the casino and the odds usually weren’t in your favor. For the most part, this type of advertising would usually fall under ‘branding‘.

On the internet, it’s a whole different ball game, and everything is trackable, down to the finest penny, click, or impression!

Whether it’s online or offline, acquiring a new customer isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s reported that acquiring a new buyer is five to 25 times pricier than retaining an existing one, but you can generate leads successfully with limited resources if you approach it the right way.

What does this involve? Well, for every business it’s different — but there are clearly winning strategies that continue to work across all platforms and markets.

If you are willing to put in the time, work, and effort… here are five powerful strategies you have to try.

1. Automating Your Marketing Process

An effective marketing process puts your brand in front of new customers and makes it appear so utterly tantalizing they just can’t say no.

But, as you probably know by now, achieving such amazing results takes time, money and energy — and having enough of all three to go around isn’t always easy.

Automating your marketing process is a valuable solution.

Multiple tools (some free, some not) are designed for this: you’ll send a marketing email the prospect signed up for and, if they choose to act on it, they’ll end up directed to the relevant landing page. Follow-up emails can be sent according to specific criteria as well, such as if the recipient has read a preceding message (ideal for consistency).

Automating your marketing is a real time-saver, won’t break the bank and frees your employees up for additional lead generation, so give it some thought.

2. Growing Your Email Subscriber List

Actually building a list of prospects to contact via email is crucial, though — after all, who’s going to receive your marketing messages if your subscriber list is blank?

You have to make enough of an impact on visitors to your site that signing up for emails feels like a natural next step. Make sure your website’s visually-impressive, easy to use and offers real value — why should anyone want to hear more from you if you seem to have nothing to say?

Offer the opportunity to subscribe on each page of your site and give a good incentive to submit their email address. A discount on an upcoming purchase or a freebie (such as an ebook or podcast) can help to sweeten the deal.

3. Up Your Content Marketing Game — Blog Often and Create Videos

Blogging is still a solid part of a great marketing game. First and foremost, you’ll add fresh content and more keywords to your website on a regular basis — both key for a good SEO campaign.

Secondly, you can share these across social media to increase engagement and target different demographics within your audience. Blogging is cost-effective too, especially if you build a good relationship with a quality freelancer: the more work you put their way, the better their deal is likely to be.

Videos can be useful in generating leads as well. 90 percent of users cite product videos as major aids to their purchase decisions and 64 percent are more likely to order an item online. Watching videos is more convenient than reading a blog post, more visually stimulating and actually give you a chance to show your products or services off in motion.

Again, producing videos doesn’t have to be expensive: once you have a dedicated ‘studio’ set up and the necessary equipment, you can use them as often as you need.

4. Be Accessible and Organized

When people receive your marketing emails, read your blogs or watch your videos, what will they do if they have questions?

While some will head to your site in search of an FAQ, others will come to you directly. You need to offer multiple communication channels that are convenient and accessible to customers, including live chat, telephone and social media (which we’ll touch on more below).

Live chat software has become one of the most popular interaction methods for businesses, enabling website visitors to engage with support agents in real-time via mobile or computer. They can get the assistance they need in-browser without having to dial a number or draft an email.

The best live chat software makes staying organized and responsive easy, while providing you with helpful data to understand your audience better.

Best of all: it’s free for the customer — making it a risk-free choice on their part.  

Give your prospects multiple ways to reach you, ideally 24/7, when working to generate leads.

5. Fully Embrace Social Media to Drive Sales

Sixty-six percent of marketers using social media for lead generation see real benefits, even on just six hours per week.

Social media has given brands a free, simple, direct way to engage customers at any time, any place. They can reach out to you through their browser or an app in a matter of moments, and an organized company will respond just as fast.

Being accessible is crucial for businesses of all sizes: customers want to feel valued and respected — and letting messages go unresponded to for weeks certainly doesn’t help. A good social-media strategy lets you demonstrate your expertise, build a rapport, show your human side and ultimately convey why prospects need your products in their life.

You can invest in ads on social media too if you can afford it, which make a great complement to organic lead-generation techniques.  

Networks offer various tools for targeting people similar to existing and ideal customers, based on interests etc.

Either monitor social media activity yourself if you’re particularly low on resources, or hire someone to do it for you.

You also might want to consider affiliate software for your social media outreach, as this incentivizes sharing on social networks.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Lead Generation Efforts in 2019

Lead generation is crucial for brands of all sizes, across all industries. The five strategies explored above will help you capture leads in a budget-friendly way, expanding your reach without devouring too much of your finances. Focus on efficiency and productivity to streamline the entire process, leaving your team the time they need for other essential tasks.

With time, you’ll grow your customer-base, increase your brand visibility and identify the lead-generation techniques that work best for you.

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Discover How to Sell More with Omnisend eCommerce Marketing Automation

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With the continued progress of the internet and it’s ever expanding reach, the way business is done has basically changed and business marketing has become much more efficient and effective in the process.

Email marketing is a digital marketing tool that has been tried, tested and has been a great way to reach out to potential and existing customers of a business. Email marketing isn’t just a way to simply get “the word out there” about business but it has managed to retain its personal touch and so it has managed to outlast other marketing techniques.

Be that as it may, just simply reaching out to a current or potential customer base might no longer be just what is required to get more workflow on your business page or getting a deal beyond the goal post, this is because more and more businesses are using email marketing and thus it is simply becoming generic. This is why as a smart marketer you need to be more adaptable, you need to discover and exploit smarter and more versatile solutions that will keep you ahead of the competition or even blow them of the water.

If you are looking to do this, then Omnisend is the way to go because this platform will totally up the ante on your email marketing strategy.

E-commerce Marketing Automation

The biggest reason for applying any marketing technique or tool to reach out to customers is to improve on the sales of a business’ product(s) or service(s), this, of course, is no secret. So what else could you do after attracting visitors to your e-commerce site? What can you actually do to convert this visits to your site to actual sales and tangible numbers? Well, Omnisend provides these solutions by giving you access to various Omnichannel tools that should boost sales and cater to marketers that aren’t satisfied with what generic email marketing platforms offer. Although Omnisend still makes available the standard email marketing tools for creating and distributing email newsletters, the difference is it gives a personal touch that is meant to better sales.

People usually are more trusting of businesses that take the time and initiative to understand them better and find out the things they want. This could entail paying attention to the customers shopping pattern, tracking their activities while they are on your site, what are the things they like? And so on.  Doing this should improve your sales figure and conversions (i.e. converting visitors to paying customers). Omnisend helps you obtain these data and use them to better your marketing.

To the untrained eye data showing the uniqueness of people poses a marketing problem, when actually it is an advantage in more ways than one. Understanding that each customer could be different is the first step to understanding how to better serve them, then gain their interest and then convert this interest into continuous patronage. With Omnisend you are able to better target your customers and customize the messages sent to them so that they are much more relevant to each individual customer. Omnisend allows you send email or SMS or even both to subscribers.

Carrying Out an A/B Test Campaign

With Omnisend you can set up an email marketing campaign that marketers use to send out newsletters about new offers and deals available on their e-commerce site. You can also set up a campaign that is SMS based.

The Omnisend A/B split test is a feature that enables you to send two different versions of an email so that you can test which of them would work best for your campaign. When you select this feature you find that it is really easy to use, because there is a setup wizard available to work you through the setup.

While setting up the split test you are provided with options that enable you to base your split test on the email subject or on sender’s name. You can further customize your messages by choosing either one of the templates made available, which can be previewed before selection.

You can further fill in your contents by using the drag-and-drop visual editor. By simply clicking on any of the element, you can add your images, product name, prices, and even product description.

The best way to experience the full features and settings of what Omnisend has to offer, is to create an account or walk through their on-site demo.

Automation and Workflow

The automation service feature of Omnisend is one of the most powerful tools available that can be organized into workflows and customized to fit your preference. The workflow includes the email welcome drip, abandoned the cart, browse abandonment, a birthday email and a custom workflow you can create on your own.

The cart recovery workflow is a great way to increase your sales number because often times people visit an e-commerce site, add items to their cart but end up leaving without completing the buy. Using the automated workflow, when the cart is abandoned the process is triggered then after a specified period of time email reminders are sent.

As you can see through the screenshot above, a path is created that walks the user through a specific process within your site or marketing funnel. This can be set up to notify a user about an abandoned cart they may have left and never completed, then followed-up through email.

A great benefit here is that you can see exactly how many customers have entered the workflow, are currently in the workflow, and have exited the workflow at any given time. An “exit” is defined as making a purchase or receiving the final follow-up email.

All of this can be monitored and tweaked within the “Track Your Automation” and “Reports” section of your Omnisend account.

The more you familiarize yourself with the platform, the easier it will be for you to log into the members are and create, customize, and track your many processes and customer data in place. To get a live view of activity on your site, all you need to do is access your campaign stats and see what users are doing in real-time while they are navigating through your site.

Free Demo, Free Trail, and Pricing Plans

Omnisend offers a free demo mode to help new users to understand and get a hang of how to works. Using free demo, you can access a full product work through and to gives the opportunity to ask questions about Omnisend. There is also a 14-day trial that gives you access to all the features without providing your credit card information.

After sign up, there are pricing plans that start from $8 per month for 500 subscribers. On the standard plan, you can pay $12, $24, $40 per month for 1000, 2500 and 5000 subscribers respectively. There is a 20% discount offered for when you opt for the annual billing system.

With Omnisend you can see the activities of your users on your e-commerce site in real time and they provide customer data that can be analyzed to optimize your marketing campaigns. Omnisend is a great marketing tool that should better the fortune of your business.

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