Tag Archives: small business tools

Get action-oriented with analytics from Spinnakr

For years, digital marketers have told businesses why they need web analytics.

Many listened and eagerly installed a few lines of code onto their website to track visitors with programs like Google Analytics — because that was easy. They regularly checked their account taking in a broad overview of traffic numbers. That was also easy. But they did nothing more.

Why did they stop there?

That’s because it takes a dedicated data analyst to sort through the numbers, which can be costly and time consuming. But who has the money or time for that?

From insight, to recommendation, to action in real-time

Spinnakr, a web analytics platform that came out of beta last month and raised almost $1 million in funding from investors including 500 Startups and Andreessen Horowitz, provides a new and easier alternative for website owners who need more from their analytics tools than just hard numbers.

Spinnakr Analytics Screenshot

Spinnakr provides real-time analytics to help you discover important insights and trends related to your web traffic that, once targeted, can almost instantaneously impact your bottom line. According to the company’s profile on Angel List, Spinnakr “does all of the work for you — from insight, to recommendation, to action in real-time.”

First, the software identifies unusual trends in traffic and instead of spitting out numbers that take careful deciphering, it tells you in plain words what happened.

“You have a traffic spike from WSJ.com.”

J. J. Colao of Forbes reports, “With a snippet of code inserted into a client’s webpage, Spinnakr analyzes web traffic for a week, taking note of traffic sources, volume and user behavior. When the company detects an unusual traffic event–say a spike in volume or an out-sized source of referrals–it automatically notifies the website owner with a summary of the event.”

Next, Spinnakr recommends what to do with the new information and enables you to act on the recommendation without hassling your tech team.

Jordan Novet of GigaOM spoke with Spinnakr co-founder Adam Bonnifield who said, “If there are traffic spikes that happen in real time, you just let the user know about that, and you give them the power to just type out a message, which gets automatically deployed to the website.”

In the above example, it’s a rapid-response system for traffic spikes.

Optimize for visitor segments

Spinnakr also allows you to tailor your website for different visitor segments, such as speakers of foreign languages, potential recruits or Facebook users.

Bonnifield told Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily, “The app will benefit sites that get a lot of organic traffic, and businesses that get different value from different kinds of customers.”

Think of it as a simple, customizable real-time landing page. No coding skills necessary.

With Spinnakr, you can optimize your conversion rate without bothering IT, and even receive recommendations for HOW to optimize your site. No more excuses, just more leads and sales.

Spinnakr provides tiered pricing based on the number of sites you want to track, the number of recommendations you want to receive, and the amount of incoming traffic your sites get. Spinnakr’s “small” plan costs $18 per month for use on 1 site with up to 1,000 unique visitors, and comes with 10 actionable recommendations. Custom plans start at $500 per month. For the risk-averse, there’s also a free plan that is “enough to get started and all you need for smaller sites.”

Sign up for Spinnakr at its website.

 

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Prezi Offers Visually Stunning Way to Share Ideas

Prezi Presentation AppSome speakers bore their audiences to tears by using presentations that have nothing but slides with dull lists and bullet points. As the material blends together and their listeners slowly drift off to a faraway place, the presentation fizzles. Whether or not the information was good becomes unimportant–all because the way it was presented was tedious and boring.

Professional speakers and lecturers are turning towards technology to engage their audiences and communicate their ideas. Dr. Daniel Crosby of IncBlot Organizational Psychology understands the power of a good presentation. His TED Talk called “You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech” kept audiences rapt and earned him a place as one of Monster.com’s12 thinkers to watch in the world of leadership and organizational development.

What was Crosby’s secret for keeping the presentation interesting? Well, for one he had some very interesting information (he’s currently writing a book based on it). But Crosby also credits Prezi, cloud-based presentation software with a zoomable canvas that allows you to create visually captivating presentations that lead audiences down a path of discovery.

“Since Prezi is dynamic, beautiful and novel, my participants engage at an increased level which makes my job easier,” Crosby said.  ”I can’t count how many times I’ve had someone come up to me after a presentation and have them ask me, ‘What was that software you were using?’ It immediately makes me and my work memorable.”

Prezi’s software allows users to present from any device. Choose between the freedom of the cloud, the security of your desktop, or the mobility of the iPad or iPhone. Prezi is also three dimensional, allowing users to guide their audience through the presentation, rather than just flip from slide to slide. Users can also zoom out to show the overview of the Prezi, zoom in to examine the details of their ideas, or simply move freely through the Prezi and react to the audience’s input.

TED Talks - PreziPrezi is starting to become the technology of choice for many other TED Talks speakers as well, including Peter H. Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University.

“Prezi is helping reinvent the art of presentation,” Diamandis said. “Farewell, one-dimensional thinking. Hello motion, dynamism, flexibility and power of inter-connection. When I gave my TED Talk, I chose Prezi to bring my ideas to life.”

While Prezi has almost immediately caught on among professional speakers, it’s also become popular within other sectors, including business. According to Prezi’s Kelly Hook, currently 80 percent of the Fortune 500 are utilizing Prezi to facilitate presentations and the company just hit 20 million users and 2 million iPad downloads.

So whether your next presentation is to TED or to your sales team, consider using Prezi to step outside of the PowerPoint box.

For more TED Talk videos, including many using Prezi, check out their YouTube channel. WARNING: May be addicting.

 

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Getting Started With Email Marketing

Getting Started With Email Marketing

Getting Started with Email MarketingEmail is a part of many marketing budgets, strategies and concepts for big businesses. If you’re just starting out or are looking to expand your current online marketing efforts beyond the basics of social media, it’s time you made email marketing part of your next campaign. From determining whether you should send out newsletters or retargeted emails, getting started with email marketing can seem a bit overwhelming.   Here are some of the questions you may be asking yourself, and the answers.

How Do I Create a Database?

Before you get in to the design or messaging, you need to have a list of emails that you’re sending your email marketing campaigns out to. If you don’t have contacts to send your campaign messages out to, there is no way you’ll be successful. In order to create a database to use for your email marketing efforts, you should:

  • Start by collecting and organizing the emails of past and current customers. You may already have these, but if you don’t a call or direct mail card can help you head off in the right direction.
  • Ask for an email address in exchange for an offer. A basic clipboard on your counter or form on your website, that says “Sign up here to receive discount coupons via email!” or “Sign up here to get our free Newsletter via email!” will get your list going.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t ask for too much information up front; you could scare someone off. All you really need is a first name and email address. The rest of the information you ask is up to you, but the more information you require the more likely someone is to say, “No thanks.”
  • Have a privacy policy in place. Let customers know how you plan to use the information they provide. Look at similar sites and companies to get a feel for what you should be doing – including getting the permission of customers to send them emails.

Should I Use HTML or Plain-Text?

If you have no experience in email marketing campaigns, creating and designing brand new one may seem overwhelming. However, there are a number of tools out there to help you get started. MailChimp has a number of resources available for those getting started with email marketing. When it comes to the design of your email campaigns, consider:

  • Testing the email before you send. HTML emails can look different than expected when they are opened. Run the test on a few different free email services such as Yahoo!, Gmail, MSN and Hotmail to make sure it’s what you expect.
  •  CSS vs. HTML vs. Plain-Text. CSS doesn’t work too well in an HTML email, HTML images are sometimes ‘broken’ and plain-text is the most consistent. However, HTML is more like the world we live in – colorful and full of imagery – and is often considered the best method for email marketing campaigns.
  • Keeping the design simple. Place your logo in the upper-left hand corner, keep your call to action above the fold and avoid adding so much pizzazz that the important things get lost. Using a few images is great, but keep your message in mind!

What’s the Message?

What you hope to get from your email marketing efforts will contribute greatly to what your message should be. If you’re looking to showcase a product or indicate an upcoming event, your message needs to be a compelling reflection of that. Keep in mind why you’re sending these emails out and gear your content towards the right audience.

  • Your call to action, which is based on what you want those receiving your emails to do, needs to be above the fold. This means having the CTA in sight, without any scrolling necessary, when someone opens the email.
  • Be interesting! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to consider what they want to read and receive in an email. Your tone, content and design all need to reflect this. Track the results of your efforts to see what is working best with your audience.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

Yes, of course there is! Email marketing takes some time and isn’t an overnight process. Always include an opt-out option and stay up to date on your results reports. Knowing what is successful and what isn’t is the best way to move forward.

  • Make sure you send emails from a non-personal email address. Instead of sending out blasts from janedoe@xyz.com, consider info@xyz.com, newsletter@xyz.com, etc.
  • Segment your audience. Your campaign may not apply to everyone in your database so organize each person by different demographics including age, location, interests, conversion likelihood, etc.
  • Send your emails early in the week. Emails typically have a lifespan of 3 days, so sending out your messages on Monday or Tuesday will often be better than sending out on Friday. Of course, it depends on your audience.

An email marketing company can help you with your email campaign efforts. But, if you’re more of a DIY marketer, take each of these questions into account and make sure you have a plan in place before sending any emails out. There are a number of resources, including HTML email templates, online for free. When it comes to getting started in email marketing, you need to have a goal and related call to action, design, and overall messaging in mind. Remember, this is a branding opportunity and you need to make the most of it.

Author Bio: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as web design and online marketing. She is a web content writer for Business.com. 

The views and opinions of  this post are solely those of the author of the post. Mozy does not specifically endorse any of the commercial products or services mentioned in this post.

 

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5 Tools to to Run a Small Business in the Cloud

Mozy Online BackupIt can be a challenge running a small business. As a small business owner, you’ll often find that no task is too big or too small for you to handle, from contending with macro problems such as rising fuel costs, to more at-hand issues such as discovering that a part-time employee mistakenly unplugged a tucked-away power strip and that’s why half the work stations in the office are offline.

With much to worry about and never enough staff to cover all the bases, cloud computing has the potential to ease the strain of running a small business while cutting costs in the process.

Small and midsize businesses in the United States will spend more than $49 billion on cloud services in 2015, nearly double the size of the market today, according to research from AMI Partners. Donald Best, an analyst at AMI, chalked up the growth to a combination of reliable broadband, thin applications and the financial incentive to smaller businesses – namely, that cloud services do not require significant costs to acquire.

“It’s a factor of IT spending increasing, and it’s also an increasing percentage of total spending that’s going to the cloud,” Best said in an interview with InformationWeek.

The AMI study revealed that SMBs are currently setting aside 10 percent of IT budgets for cloud services. This number is expected to grow to 15 percent by 2015.

The number of cloud services aimed at SMBs also continues to grow, which is a great benefit to business owners. The following services or products cover some of the essential components of running a small business in the cloud. While there are many choices out there, here are just a few that make running a business a little bit easier with a little help from above – the cloud.

Productivity

Google Apps

This is an obvious choice, but it’s tough to beat the cost and simplicity of running Google Apps. If you plan to integrate Google Docs into a collaborative workspace, complete with email and calendaring, Google Apps is the way to go.

Communication

Skype

Skype continues to improve its VOIP quality. Its updated interface makes video calls a snap. Since Microsoft purchased Skype, Redmond is working to integrate Skype across its entire product portfolio, with more robust software being developed for both server and client environments.

Database

QuickBase

Ultra-customizable, Intuit’s QuickBase is a business-class online database that comes from a long-established vendor that can be trusted. QuickBase can house any type of data, from invoices to inventory. It’s fast, reliable and has many native applications to get you up and running in a flash.

Finance and Accounting

Bill.com

Bill.com automates small-business accounting by reducing the time and paperwork required for accounts payable. With Bill.com, you get a complete Web-based “finance department” to organize day-to-day finances and optimize cash flow.

Storage and Backup

MozyPro

MozyPro lets you manage multi-user environments, schedule automatic backups and monitor the health of your backups from a single Web-based dashboard. Mozy maintains strict security policies, military-grade encryption and world-class data centers for optimal data protection. Mozy’s pay-as-you-go model saves time and money with no setup fees, no hardware to purchase and little management required – ideal incentives for a small business.