August 18th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Nearly 95 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) either already use a cloud hosting service or plan to transition to one, according to a survey from B2B ratings and reviews organization Clutch. The survey included 300 SMBs, with 68 percent of them having 200 employees or less.

One of the reasons SMBs may be opting for cloud hosting services is because of the difficulties associated with web hosting, with 86 percent of SMBs reporting that they have experienced an issue with their web hosting provider in the past year. Additionally, the move to cloud hosting coincides with a trend of data migration within the web hosting sphere. Roughly 72 percent of SMBs say that they switched web hosting providers within the past 5 years, often because they found a better value.

“I don’t think you can truly move forward within a company without using cloud in some way, whether that’s by buying software as a service from somebody or creating your own cloud infrastructure for your business,” Rachel Bair, Director of Hosting and Client Services at Unleashed Technologies, said in a statement. “To stay competitive in your own vertical, cloud hosting will be the way to go.”

August 15th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

Infusionsoft, a vendor of sales and marketing software to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), joined forces with Emergent Research, a research house and consulting firm, also focused on small businesses, to determine how firms with fewer than 25 employees defined success, as well as the challenges they face in attaining it.

To do so, Emergent tapped into Infusionsoft’s model for the “five common stages of small business growth,” for which the vendor survey interviewed 402 United States-based small business owners. The vendor  designated these as the “Solopreneur,” “New Employer,” “Steady Operation,” “7- Figure Business,” and “Growth Company” phases. Emergent built on Infusionsoft’s findings by interviewing 26 small businesses owners and executives.

How Small Businesses Define Success

According to their findings, financial gain is definitely important to small outfits, but not necessarily the top factor they use to measure their achievements. Interviewees indicated that their top metrics included the ability to be bosses, do work they enjoy, have flexible schedules, and freedom to control their operations. They also indicated a desire to exert a positive influence over their customers and communities. To do so, however, most (94%) realized that they must have financial goals in place.

Neither was it the case that these small companies wish to expand to become mid- or enterprise-sized businesses. “Instead, they see growth as a means to reach the financial level needed to achieve their broader, non-financial goals,” the report reads, which could include–I’d assume–the resources for a fishing trip or a new yacht, or extra time to spend with family.

How Small Businesses Attain Success

Infusionsoft also found that regardless of the stage of growth these companies find themselves in, they face common challenges in getting their work done, finding and keeping on suitable employees, and turning leads into customers.

The study suggested overcoming these difficulties with a combination of  technology and coaching.

Technology is vital because it enables quicker communications with employees and customers, as well as a dispersed and diverse workforce. In some cases automation of specific processes may also reduce the number of employees a company will need, or the budget they’ll need. The analytics within the technologies is also likely to reveal key insights into business performance.

Coaching is important because the business landscape is becoming a lot more complex, and requires adapting to more frequent changes, such as new technology implementations. And while the idea of getting your hands dirty might sound exciting, Infusionsoft’s report states that “there is simply no longer the time to ‘learn while doing’ or the margin of error to ‘learn by making mistakes’ as in the past.”

However, when making commitments to service providers, respondents also warned that small business owners should do the proper research to avoid wasting away what’s likely to be a smaller budget on less than helpful advice.

August 12th, 2016 by Leonard Klie

Nearly 60 percent of Pokemon Go players surveyed by marketing communications agency MGH recently said they were likely to enter businesses offering Pokemon-branded products or discounts. Even more alarming, 38 percent were likely to purchase Pokemon-themed product offerings, and 60 percent viewed businesses hosting Pokemon promotions favorably.

The research also found that restaurants and bars topped the list of businesses where players have seen promotions. Facebook (72 percent) and store signage (52 percent) were the mediums where the majority of players saw Pokemon-related promotions.

pokemon_go_logo

Other notable stats included:

  • Overall, 94 percent of smartphone users surveyed were aware of Pokemon Go;
  • Of those aware, more than 50 percent have seen Pokemon Go promotions, a number that increases to 66 percent when looking at respondents who have downloaded Pokemon Go;
  • After restaurants and bars (71%), retail stores (44%) and entertainment venues/attractions (42%) were the types of businesses where respondents were most likely to have seen promotions;
  • Of the respondents who downloaded the game, 56 percent were between the ages of 18-29;
  • Female respondents are slightly more likely to have seen Pokemon Go promotions, and slightly more likely to purchase Pokemon-themed products.

“With estimated daily users of Pokemon Go still teetering around 20 million, this survey shows there’s still a great opportunity for business owners to tap into this unique and active audience to not only drive foot traffic into their venues, but get them to potentially purchase a product,” commented Ryan Goff, senior vice president and social media marketing director at MGH, in a statement. “The best part of Pokemon Go is that it’s getting people of all ages out and about; businesses just have to find a way to lure customers in.”

Not surprisingly, though, some sneaky consumers have ways to cheat the game that allow them to catch Pokemon anywhere in the world without leaving their houses. That’s cheating in my book, and defeats the whole goal of the promotion.

Luckily, Niantic is taking steps, banning the accounts of users caught cheating. Some of the reasons for the ban include falsifying your location, using emulators or modified or unofficial software, and accessing Pokémon GO clients or back ends in an unauthorized manner, like through the use of third-party software.

Really, people, get off the couch for 10 minutes and play fair. It’s bad enough that you’re such a slave to the latest fad, but at least do it with dignity.

August 11th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Personalized ads yield, on average, three times the performance of standard display ads, according to a study by digital ad platform Jivox. The study looked at more than one billion personalized ad impressions from 24 ad campaigns in ten global markets conducted by brands representing six industries.

The study also found that the personalized ads delivered a click through rate that was 230 percent greater than the Google display ad benchmark for rich media creative, and an engagement rate that was 84 percent higher than the Google display ad benchmark for rich media creative. Furthermore, the personalized ads achieved an average dwell time—a measurement of how successfully an ad captured a user’s attention—that was 28 percent higher than the Google display ad benchmark for rich media creative.

“The numbers are staggering, and offer hard evidence of what up to now has been conventional wisdom among marketers: personalization drives massive performance gains in digital advertising,” Diaz Nesamoney, CEO of Jivox, said in a statement. “Personalized marketing certainly isn’t a new idea. But we believe brands are just on the cusp of realizing its promise with the recent emergence of modern data-driven ad technology platforms and the unprecedented availability of data to power campaigns. This is truly a new paradigm in marketing.”

August 8th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

According to research released last month by Episerver, a provider of digital experience solutions, 15% of the 20 U.S financial services firms it analyzed do not offer mobile applications, pointing to a failure to fulfill customer expectations on their handheld devices.

Findings from the report–“Future of Finance: The Mobile Money Report”– indicate that companies in the financial sector are neglecting to invest in responsive design, as only 40% of these 20 companies have yet to implement it.

In a statement, James Norwood, executive vice president of strategy and chief marketing officer at Episerver, observed that retail banks and insurers can no longer afford to neglect mobile. “From shopping to booking restaurant reservations, consumers now expect everything to be available to them in real-time and on the go,” Norwood said. “The same expectation applies to managing finances.”

According to the company, users most value accessibility, ease of use, and extended functionality, when it comes to mobile applications. 63% of users will abandon a site if it proves too difficult to access; 44% consider the ease of use when thinking of downloading a banking application; 34% of customers are frustrated by limited functionality.

Episerver’s research found American Express to be the leader when it comes to providing customers with the best overall mobile experiences. Amex, which offers applications on all platforms, scored highly for Android smartphones and tablets, for its implementation of location services, and its use of touch identification security features.

“Given the complex nature of making purchase decisions related to personal finances, the move to mobile has been challenging for the financial services sector,” Norwood said in a statement. He suggests that companies work with application developers and designers from the outset. This way, “digital marketers and commerce professionals can ensure that their mobile user experiences are fully optimized for all devices. Overall, the brands that prioritize an intuitive and user-friendly mobile experience will come out on top.”



 
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