Monday, 5 March 2018

How to Guarantee Success for Your eCommerce Business According to the Experts

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Whether brick and mortar or eCommerce, growing your business and ensuring its success has never been easy. This rings especially true for an eCommerce business that has to deal with the countless competitors coming out of the woodwork day in and day out. You need successful eCommerce business ideas, but the difficulty comes from options and indecision. For example, should you do this? What about that, will it be better than this? And even when you do make a decision, how can you know if it’s the right one? You can’t unless you see it through and find out what happens. What you need are tips, but not normal tips, you need tips for eCommerce success straight from the experts.

Tips for eCommerce Success According to the Experts

And now we arrive at the tips from the experts, AKA the successful eCommerce business ideas you need for your eCommerce business to succeed:

1: Neil Patel — Paid Traffic is a Must

Paid traffic can be one of the best ways to quickly generate sales for your eCommerce store. You might think that paid traffic is expensive and you’ve probably heard some stories of people who have spent a lot of money – and saw no return. However, if done properly, paid traffic can, in fact, be quite affordable and once you have a winning campaign on your hands, paid traffic can really take your business to the next level. — Neil Patel

As an eCommerce business you NEED traffic to your website, and apart from organic methods that take a couple of months to come through, you have no other way besides paid traffic of attracting your audience to your site. In other words, unless you’re a big brand that’s known around the country or globe, paid traffic is a must. Even then it’s important, but more so for those of us who are just starting out or are in the process of growing. It comes down to the fact that you can’t survive eCommerce without sales, you can’t make sales without an audience to sell to, and you can’t have an audience unless they know who you are.

2: Larry Kim — Remarketing Is Incredibly Powerful

I discovered the power of [display remarketing] a few years ago when I realized the vast majority of our site traffic came to us through non-branded organic searches, didn’t convert, and left and never came back. We were awesome at getting people to our site, but totally sucked at getting them to remember us after they got here…Just 18 months out, remarketing allowed us to increase our repeat visitors by 50%, boost conversion by 51%, and increase time on site by an insane 300%! Remarketing helped make our SEO 7x more awesome by keeping us in front of interested consumers and compelling them to take action. — Larry Kim

Remarketing is a step above paid advertising and works even better because you’re targeting people who are not only already familiar with your brand, but who are also interested enough in it that they previously visited your site and browsed around; you have all the ingredients of a customer except for the actual purchase. There are countless reasons that explain why they logged off in the first place — maybe they had to go somewhere, they could have wanted to buy something but an unexpected expenditure put their purchase from you on hold, or maybe they simply got distracted and forgot. Whatever the reason, the goal with remarketing is to show your audience why they visited your site in the first place and convince them to take the next step.

3: Richard Lazazzera — Implement a Customer Loyalty Program

Reward customers for their loyalty. Developing a loyalty membership to your store is another way to increase conversions from your current customers while rewarding them for their repeat purchases.  Creating a loyalty program can be as simple as rewarding customers on their second purchase at your store or after a set dollar figure. — Richard Lazazzera

Last on our list today, a customer loyalty program is exactly what you need to grow your eCommerce business. For one, it gives customers an incentive to become repeat customers. Second, you can incentivize them to invite their own friends to join, who can then become repeat customers as well. For example, you can offer points for every purchase, and once your users accumulate a certain amount of points they can use it toward an additional purchase. You can also offer discounts and reduced or free shipping to users who join your loyalty program, making it more likely that they’ll choose you over your competition when they need something.

Final Thoughts for Startups

Everything we covered today is important for all eCommerce businesses, but especially so for startups that are trying to make a name for themselves in the dog eat dog world that is eCommerce. When starting out, you first need to grow your audience — something paid traffic can help you out with. Once you have traffic, you need to convert as many site visitors as possible — something remarketing excels at. And once you have a steady stream of customers, you need to turn them into repeat customers who, in turn, point their friends and family your direction — something loyalty programs can do for you.

Best of luck!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

3 Enterprise Software Trends for 2018

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Enterprises crave the innovation new technologies bring because they know that when technology evolves, they evolve with it. This especially holds true for enterprise software, which is used by all for varying reasons — maintaining customer databases, managing assets, taking care of orders, dealing with finances, and much much more. And as every new year that has come our way, new software is appearing and, along with it, software trends enterprises everywhere are quick to adopt.

For example, the frequent data breaches we’re seeing in the news as of late are pushing enterprises to increase their cybersecurity with new software updates. Similarly, the big leaps we’re making in the realm of artificial intelligence are paving the road for AI derivatives like machine learning and automation, which function to make the enterprise smarter as a whole.

This is all to say that emerging challenges and advancing software are prompting enterprises to exchange the old with the new and follow the new enterprise software trends 2018 will bring. Let’s take a look at some such trends.

Enterprise Software Trends 2018 Will Bring

Personalization is becoming more and more important in enterprises because of all the advantages it offers. For example, employees can receive more relevant and tailored information, saving them time as they avoid parsing through irrelevant data they don’t need. Consider a news feed, for instance. Without personalization, there’s no filter separating what’s important to an employee versus what’s not. With personalization, though, they only get what’s relevant; they see exactly what they want to see.

Artificial Intelligence
AI is one of the most popular topics today, and not just for enterprises. In terms of enterprises, though, AI software offers many benefits that come in the form of machine learning and automation. Machine learning, for example, helps in the analyzation of big data, making sense of patterns that can help enterprises make smarter decisions to spur revenue.
In fact, 89% of CIOs are either planning to use or using machine learning in their organizations today, and 90% of those who champion machine learning in their organizations today expect improved decision support that drives greater topline revenue growth. Automation, which is made possible with machine learning, is quickly being adopted by enterprises because it saves them time and money. For instance, when repetitive tasks are automated, employees can devote more time to other pursuits, increasing their productivity.

It’s predicted that the global cost of cybercrime will climb to $2 trillion by 2019, almost 4 times the cost in 2015. In 2018, enterprises will use AI to improve cybersecurity. Why? Because machine learning can ‘learn’ from past events. As such, it can help enterprises identify cybersecurity threats. Exemplifying this, 95% of IT security professionals say machine learning is a crucial component of a cybersecurity strategy.

Final Thoughts and TL;DR

Another new year means new and updated enterprise software trends. Here’s the Tl;dr version of what we covered today:
Enterprises are always quick to adopt new technologies because they provide the means to grow, keep up with competition and surpass them
This holds true for enterprise software, which is always evolving to handle new challenges and prepare enterprises for the future
Personalization helps employees see only what they want and need to see, saving valuable time that could be spent performing higher-level tasks than sifting through data
Artificial intelligence is extremely important for enterprise because it offers many advantages, such as machine learning and automation
Machine learning aids in the analyzation of big data, and further helps enterprises make sense of patterns that can help them make smarter decisions to spur revenue growth
Automation is made possible with machine learning and helps increase productivity
AI, especially machine learning, can be used to improve cybersecurity by ‘learning’ from past events, which then works to identify future threats
Best of luck in 2018!

Monday, 8 January 2018

3 Enterprise Technologies That Will Rule in 2018

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A new year always brings in new technologies and trends that enterprises everywhere are quick to eat up. While these change every year, many are trends that started the previous year and carried over. Case in point, artificial intelligence (AI). AI has been a hot topic in recent years, with many new technologies stemming from it, and it’s poised to take the spotlight again in 2018. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will be a top five priority for more than 30% of CIOs.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at enterprise technology 2018 strategies need. And as it happens to be, these technologies all revolve around AI.

1: Voice Assistants

Voice assistants are becoming more and more popular in the business world every day. With them, employees can be more productive as they conversationally interact with them, giving them more time to focus on more important tasks.

For example, Amazon recently announced Alexa for Business, saying that it will help organizations solve the problem of wasted time due to tedious tasks like managing calendars, dialing into meetings, or searching for information:

Alexa lets people use their voice to interact with technology so they can spontaneously ask questions in a way that feels natural. Alexa can help people take care of these tasks just by asking. Alexa can help people stay organized and focused on the things that matter, whether they are working in their office or at home. Alexa can simplify conference rooms, allowing meeting attendees to start meetings and control the equipment in the room by simply using their voice. Alexa can also do things around the workplace, like providing directions to a conference room, notifying IT about a broken printer, or placing an order for office supplies.

2: Big Data and Analytics

It seems that a prerequisite for being an enterprise is handling a lot of data — it just can’t be helped. While tedious to make sense of this data, it’s absolutely vital because it reflects the decisions and consequences of said decisions. For example, an eCommerce can analyze customer data to make sense of purchasing behavior, which can help them tailor their strategies for the future.

There is, therefore, a need to manage, analyze, and extrapolate information from data, which will help enterprises aid in the decision-making process. This is where big data and analytics programs that make sense of it come into play. It’s 2018 and enterprises that previously sidestepped the big data trends are revising their strategies to prepare for the influx of insights they can glean from the mountains of numbers and statistics piling on at their doorstep.

3: Automation

Finally, a third technology AI promotes that will rule in 2018 is automation. The thing is, tasks that can be automated are usually repetitive, routine and time-consuming, which is why the automation trend is definitely continuing from 2017. With machines taking over lower level tasks, more manpower can be devoted to those that require a human touch, which then functions to reduce overall labor costs and lower error rates.

And as Information Age points out, a report by ServiceNow found that highly automated companies are 6x more likely to experience revenue growth of more than 15% when compared to companies with low automation. In other words, if you’re not automating you’re not only missing out on possible growth, but also placing yourself at risk of being overtaken by your competition.

Final Thoughts and TL;DR

Artificial intelligence is reshaping business and the enterprise as a whole. It makes data easy to understand, allows for accurate predictions, and leads to simplified processes that free up resources. That’s why today we covered AI-based enterprise technology 2018 will see. From voice assistants to automation, these technologies were present in 2017 and will see an even bigger presence in 2018:

1. Voice assistants allow employees to conversationally interact with technology, saving time so they can focus on more important tasks
2. Big data and analytics help the enterprise make sense of their internal and external interactions while extracting important information to aid the decision-making process
3. Automation reduces labor costs and allows organizations to devote more manpower to higher level tasks

Happy New Year and best of luck in 2018!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Understanding the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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Entrepreneurship started thousands of years ago, way back when humans began specializing in specific trades and commenced to sell or trade their wares and services. Hunters scoured fields for meat, fishermen spent hours at sea to come back triumphant with nets filled with fish, smiths worked forges to mold metal into tools and arms, and masons built the first cities.

While professions change, entrepreneurship remains. We still have the staples that stem from our basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, but as the years passed and times changed, our range of entrepreneurial opportunities grew exponentially. This is especially true for women, who have traded the homemaker role for the businesswoman role who’s ready to not only compete with men but beat them.
Nowadays, as long as a desk, a phone, and a computer are available, a successful entrepreneur can be born. And if a physical location is needed, companies like WeWork are there to provide everything the next-generation entrepreneur needs, from desks and office suites to entire headquarters.

The Next-Generation Entrepreneur

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 hit entrepreneurs pretty hard. As the economy recovered, consumer behavior changed, businesses evolved, and the successful entrepreneur adapted. With a strong work ethic, a propensity to take risks, and a plan to satisfy a need that’s not being taken care of, entrepreneurs rose from the ashes and started their own business. Rather than working for larger corporations, or waiting until they had a solid understanding of the business world after after a long tenure, these entrepreneurs opted for creative freedom and the chance to start something of their own.

Besides their innate qualities that led them to become entrepreneurs, an emergence of investors also made it possible for them pursue their dreams. With a plan in mind and a strategy poised for success, they found someone willing to bet on them. And with the Internet as part of their tool belt, nothing seemed impossible.

How the Internet Has Bolstered Entrepreneurship

Whether opening a local business or starting an eCommerce company that deals with global customers, the Internet has been there to help. For local brick and mortar businesses, the Internet and SEO can help corral customers to their location — it places them on the map. In the online business world, well, the name speaks for itself: online business. That’s why a physical location is no longer a requirement for starting your own business; depending on your industry, you simply may not need it.

Now consider social media, which functions as fuel for the entrepreneurial fire. With it, entrepreneurs can do everything from promoting new products and services to marketing their business and connecting with their audience. For instance, they can lead up to a product launch with a live video that includes a Q&A session. They can also use it to pose questions to their audience for a deeper understanding of what they want to see. The beauty of social media is that it can be used for practically anything, from brand awareness to audience research, and it’s all thanks to the Internet.

The Next-Generation Entrepreneur Is Here

51% of working people see good opportunities to start a business, and in 2014, entrepreneurship rose to the highest level in 16 years, with 14% of the working population fulfilling the entrepreneurial role. This means that if you’ve ever wanted to become a successful entrepreneur, your time is now.

To get started, let’s review what we covered today on the next generation of entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneurs have been a part of society for thousands of years, and even though roles have changed, the entrepreneurial spirit remains unchanged
The financial crisis of 2007-2008 may have slowed things down, but entrepreneurs overcame hurdles and came back
Thanks to more investors and access to tools stemming from the Internet, entrepreneurs, now more than ever, have more and more opportunities to begin

Best of luck, entrepreneurs!

Friday, 3 November 2017

3 Ways Technological Investments Can Grow Your Business

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Technology and business go hand-in-hand; they’re a match made in innovative heaven. In fact, 79% of CEOs believe that innovation in business, primarily business technology, will lead to competitive advantages and increased profits.

Technology in Business

Technology in business can mean many things, primarily growth. It also means evolution and adapting to changing market trends and customer demands. For example, with technologies that enable automation and provide detailed analytics, organizations can strategically cut costs, streamline business processes, and better cater to customers. 

1: Business Technology to Cut Costs
As we just covered, technology can lead to competitive advantages and increased profits. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t realize this and instead choose to cut technological investments when they embark on cost-cutting endeavors. They make the mistake of slashing costs across the board, a strategy that may result in more money in the present, but effectively leaves them weaker down the line. 

Instead, organizations should strategically cut costs by identifying nonessential costs and diverting funds to technological investments, which can then lead to reduced costs in the future. For example, an investment in green technology, such as solar energy, will not only lead to reduced electric bills, but also tax credits from the government and utility companies. More on the IT side, migrating infrastructures to the Cloud will also drastically reduce maintenance costs and will allow you to scale up or down as needed.

2: Business Technology to Optimize Processes
It’s quite easy to understand how technology can be used to optimize existing business processes — when newer technologies come out, they’re usually an updated/upgraded version of previous technologies; they fix what was wrong and add new and better features. At the end of the day, the goal with technology is to find better solutions for the business, and technological investments are perfect for this.

Consider AI and automation, for example. Advancements in these areas could drastically increase productivity and employee performance, leading to business growth. Similarly, analytics technology can be used to get a better understanding of data, which would function to better predict outcomes, strategically manage risks, and streamline business processes.

3: Business Technology to Understand Customers
Building off of technological advancements, organizations can use technology to better understand customers — their needs, their motivations, and what product or service they’re most likely to respond to. By injecting technology into the business model, organizations will also be able to completely reshape their customer’s journey according to what they actually want. Looking at analytics again, they can be used to analyze consumer trends and business drivers. This would effectively lead to a much better understanding of customers, facilitating growth.

Final Thoughts and TL;DR

Technology in business is as important as employees; you can’t grow without either. Here’s the tl;dr version of what we covered today:
79% of CEOs believe that innovation in business, primarily business technology, will lead to competitive advantages and increased profits
Technology in business means growth and adapting to evolving market trends and customer demands
Organizations should strategically cut costs by identifying nonessential costs and diverting funds to technological investments, which can then lead to reduced costs in the future (e.g., investing in green technology or a Cloud migration)
Advancements in  AI and automation could drastically increase productivity and employee performance, leading to business growth
Analytics technology can be used to get a better understanding of data, which would function to better predict outcomes, strategically manage risks, and streamline business processes
Similarly, analytics can be used to analyze consumer trends and business drivers, leading to a much better understanding of customers and increased growth

Good luck and definitely don’t forget to make investments in technology!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

How Can Social Media Affect Your Business?

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Social media marketing is a hallmark of today’s business world. It’s a customer-centric way of building relationships that can appeal directly consumer emotions, change behavior and affect decision-making. Its way of creating a network that deepens intimacy between brands and their consumers by forming a medium in which all parties can exchange ideas.
The point is that the impact of social media marketing on your business can be great and, more importantly, can be used in your favor. To exemplify, here are three ways the impact of social media can be used in your business’ favor.

1: Social Media as a Way to Connect with Customers
As much as enterprise social media is a way for professionals to connect with each other, it’s also an avenue for enterprises to connect directly with their customers. How? By forming a community for customers to become followers.
If your brand is active on social media, posts regularly and responds to your customer’s comments, you’ll not only make them feel as though they’re part of the community, but the brand itself. The key is to make them feel heard and to make them feel like they’re not talking at a brand, but with a brand.
Make sure not to make it all about business either. Yes, you can share business updates, but also open up about other things that will facilitate emotional connections with your brand. For example, are there causes that your business or customers feel strongly about? If so, zero-in on them and make a difference.

2: Social Media as a Platform for Discussion
One of the biggest benefits of social media is that it starts the discussion. With a simple Facebook update or Tweet, your brand can open the stage for discussion that includes your customers in the mix. Through this, your business can gain valuable insights into your followers’ opinions and what current or potential customers want from you.
Also important is to show as opposed to tell. If your business has products, don’t just tell your audience, show them. Share a video that captures all the features and benefits they’ll gain from it. From there, listen to what they have to say and tailor future products accordingly.

3: Social Media as a Way to Manage Your Business’ Reputation
Today, companies have less control over their brand’s reputation than ever before. It’s all about customers, their opinions, and what conversations revolving around their brand are saying. If one person has a bad experience, you can bet that another will hear about it, then another, and so on; it’s an endless cycle that can spread news like wildfire.

For this reason, brands can use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to manage their reputation and curb any negative press that may be floating around. For example, imagine that there’s an unflattering story in the rumor mill that may or may not be based in facts. Whatever the case, enterprise social media can be used to solidify facts and eliminate speculation. The beauty of of social media is that, as we covered earlier, it’s a way of connecting with customers. After all, who better to say what’s what than the brand itself?

Final Thoughts
The impact of social media on the enterprises of today is far-reaching. As more and more people join social media every day, enterprises are taking note and are doing the same. Whatever their reasons, they’re realizing that enterprise social media can be used to their advantage in the following ways:
1. Social media is a way enterprises can connect with customers to form deeper connections
2. Social media is a platform for discussion that lets everyone’s voice be heard
3. Social media is a way enterprises can manage their reputation and set the facts straight

Best of luck with your social media marketing!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Some Tips to Keep Your Enterprise’s Cybersecurity Intact

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It’s forecasted that the global cost of cybercrime will reach $2 trillion by 2019, almost 4 times the estimated cost in 2015, and further, a survey of 540 organizations throughout North America, the UK and Germany found that nearly half had been attacked with ransomware within the past year. Pair this information with the biggest cybersecurity disasters of 2017, such as the 8,761 documents that were allegedly stolen from the CIA, called CIA Vault 7 and which revealed ‘the majority of [the CIA] hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans,’ etc., and we have a perfect storm in the form of a cyber threat.
Even worse, everyone’s a target — from the smallest SMB to the biggest enterprise — and we’re seeing more and more brazen attacks (see the leaks and hacks we’ve seen in the news, such as the HBO extortion attempt). Worse still, you can have a whole nation-state, a criminal organization, or a lone hacker targeting you.
The problem we’re facing with enterprise cybersecurity is that the problem can’t be attached to one specific case; it’s a multi-faceted issue that includes complex IT environments with older legacy systems paired with modern applications, cloud computing that reduces infrastructure costs while throwing its own complexities into the mix, human error and a lot more.
And now we reach the crux of the matter: improving your enterprise’s cybersecurity.

Improve Enterprise Cybersecurity

Being part of an enterprise that’s comprised of many individuals, one of the first and most important things you should do is educate your employees on proper ‘cyber hygiene,’ which includes adapting secure email habits, keeping an eye out for insiders and human error, and using all the tools/information at your disposal that aim to reduce the odds of a cyber threat.

Adapt Secure Email Habits

As anyone with a corporate account that receives dozens or hundreds of emails every day can attest, spam and phishing attempts run rampant. Even though spam filters catch the majority potentially harmful emails, it’s still important to uphold alternate safeguards that act as a secondary line of defense. For example, viewing emails in plain text removes malicious links and embedded viruses that may be hidden ‘between the lines.’ Additionally, a good idea is to use multiple email accounts for differing purposes — you can use a primary email for internal communication within the organization and a secondary one for subscriptions and similar things that are wont to attract fishy emails.


Use All Available Guides and Information At Your Disposal

There are many guides you can use to reduce the possibility of a cyber threat. One such guide, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, was actually developed in response to President Barack Obama’s Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Primarily developed by NIST with private sector input, the framework outlines an action plan for organizations to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risks, and also seeks to foster risk and cybersecurity management communication. More specifically:

The Framework will help an organization to better understand, manage, and reduce its cybersecurity risks. It will assist in determining which activities are most important to assure critical operations and service delivery. In turn, that will help to prioritize investments and maximize the impact of each dollar spent on cybersecurity. By providing a common language to address cybersecurity risk management, it is especially helpful in communicating inside and outside the organization. That includes improving communications, awareness, and understanding between and among IT, planning, and operating units, as well as senior executives of organizations. Organizations also can readily use the Framework to communicate current or desired cybersecurity posture between a buyer or supplier.”
Keep in mind that the framework is a guide, so you should customize it for your specific industry and organization.

Keep An Eye Out for Insiders and Human Error

One final point we’ll touch on today involves people — whether those with malicious intent or those prone to mistakes. On the former, insiders can be employees seeking financial gain through data manipulation or disgruntled employees with an axe to grind. On the latter, accidents happen. An employee may accidentally open the wrong email, divulge the wrong information, and may perform many similar actions in which the cyber threat was completely unintended.

To counter this, make sure to increase cybersecurity awareness, develop strategies for specific instances, test said strategies, and educate all employees on enterprise cybersecurity, including password management and what they share on social media.

Final Thoughts

With cloud computing, the rapid rise of the smartphone, and other technological advents, guarding company data has never been harder or more important. As such, make sure to keep backups of critical data — just make sure that the backup itself doesn’t have any malware — keep an eye on privileged accounts that are frequently targeted, set-up multi-factor authentication processes, and keep in mind everything we covered today.