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Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Order Business Cards and Get A FREE Domain Name

By John Joyce on August 23, 2011 - Comments 0

MOO and Network Solutions have teamed up to bring a great offer to small business owners here in the US.  If you purchase MOO Business Cards or MiniCards between now and September 4th, you’ll get a free domain name from Network Solutions.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.  MOO alllows you to create high-quality, unique Business Cards or MiniCards where you can showcase yourself or business with a unique image on the back of each card.  Take advantage of this offer now.

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Can You Afford To Ignore Mobile Marketing Any Longer?

By John Joyce on March 24, 2011 - Comments 0

Mobile MarketingThis question is reminiscent of the discussions many of us had 10-plus years ago when business owners were contemplating whether or not they needed a website. In hindsight, it’s pretty easy to see that Bill Gates’ vision of “a PC in every home and in every business” has been realized and online search is now universally available.

So, before you ponder the merits of mobile marketing and your specific business goals, let’s first take a look at evolving online marketing tactics and the associated opportunity cost of excluding … [Read more at OPEN Forum]

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What KPIs Should You Track?

By John Joyce on March 2, 2011 - Comments 0

The only way for you to accurately understand which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you should track is to understand which answers you are seeking. Reports are useless if they don’t tell a story, give insights, and offer measurable/actionable tactics that help you achieve your goals. You must take a step back and develop a thought process that maps KPIs to your overall business strategy.

Here’s an example. Maybe you’ve recently deployed Google Analytics on your website and you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to leverage the great data that’s being gathered such as:

  • Total Unique Visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Bounce Rate
  • New Visits
  • Traffic Source
  • Average Time On Page

Read more…

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The New Small: Gain Leverage Through Technology

By John Joyce on February 16, 2011 - Comments 0

How a New Breed of Small Businesses is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies

The New Small:  How a new breed of small businesses is harnessing the power of emerging technologiesPhil Simon offers a comprehensive view of technology past, present and future as it pertains to empowering small business owners to compete, adapt and grow as effectively as possible.  Many of the stories and examples highlighted in the book include lessons learned from Simon’s past experience working with big companies – mostly how NOT to operate your business.

The New Small takes a holistic view of working smarter  by identifying major technology trends and explaining how the landscape has changed and why you need to understand the impact on your business.

Employees can be only as productive as their company’s tools let them be.  Even the hardest working person who requires zero sleep cannot move heaven and earth.  Many New Small founders know from their previous jobs the frustration of having to make do with outdated technology.  As such, they do not want their employees to struggle using inadequate tools.  The New Small wants -and needs- their employees to be as productive as possible.  Emerging technologies are crucial in this regard, especially collaborative ones.

Before giving you examples of successful New Small business owners (and there are plenty of great stories in the book), Simon explains the evolution of technology and the impact it can have on your business.  Simon refers specifically to “The 5 Enablers” as follows:

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. SaaS
  3. Free and Open Source Software
  4. Mobility
  5. Social Technologies

Once you understand these “game-changing” technologies and the impact they can have on your business, and combine that knowledge with the real world examples in the book, you’ll be ready to enter the realm of the New Small.  Kudos to @philsimon for combining technology and business insights in one book that is well written and so densely packed with nuggets of insight and inspiration that it will certainly become more of a “operational reference guide” in the future.

I recommend this book to any small business owner that embraces the fact that change is inevitable/ongoing and you must be ready and willing to adapt to the uncertain world around you.

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5 Free Tools That Automate Your Business

By John Joyce on February 15, 2011 - Comments 0

5 Free Tools, small busines marketing, online marketing, zoho, zopim, freshbooks, hootsuite, spiceworksThe challenging economic climate has taught business owners that it’s absolutely imperative they embrace solutions that will help them work smarter and focus on generating revenue. Of course, limited budgets make business automation solutions that much more difficult to evaluate and implement. If your number one goal for 2011 is to bolster lead generation, customer acquisition, or customer retention, you must ask yourself this question: How am I going to create operational efficiencies that will free up my time, give me leverage, and allow me to grow my business?  Read the entire post over on OPEN Forum.

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Your Small Business And Technology: How Do You Maintain A Competitive Edge?

By John Joyce on January 5, 2011 - Comments 0

The Small BizNest Reviews New Book, The New SmallThis is really the prelude to a book review that is forthcoming but I wanted to start the conversation about challenges facing small business owners when determining which technologies will have a positive impact on their overall business growth. The prevalence of open source development platforms has become a double-edged sword. The good news: Anyone can develop applications fairly easily. The bad news: Anyone can develop applications fairly easily.

There are so many choices that it’s impossible to keep abreast of new technology, new versions of existing products and new companies popping up in already crowded markets. The alternative, however, is to stick your head in the sand and be left in the dust by your competitors.

Phil Simon has written a book that offers real world examples of small businesses that are enjoying success by harnessing the power of emerging technologies. Please look out for a full review in the coming weeks and be sure to check out the book yourself.

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Does Your Website Suck? 5 Free Tools to Help You Find Out

By John Joyce on October 29, 2010 - Comments 2

Your site might look fine on the surface but it could have many issues you’re not even aware of and this could be hurting your lead generation and customer conversion efforts.  Here are five tools that will allow you to take a look under the hood and get an in-depth diagnostic view of your website:

1)  Website Grader

Website Grade for www.thesmallbiznest.com

Website Grader actually gives your website a grade, X/100, based on it’s adherence to “searchability” best practices relative to the other sites that have been tested. (currently 2,973,941 sites have been graded) A report is generated and offers areas for improvement including the following:

  • Checks for a blog and gives a grade
  • Number of indexed pages
  • Readability level
  • Inbound links
  • Do you have a permanent 301 redirect of yourcompany.com to www.yourcompany.com?
  • Is your domain going to expire soon?  (it’s important to show the search engines you’re in for the long haul)
  • Do you have an RSS feed?  Do you have a conversion form?

2)  W3C Validator

W3C Validation Service

The W3C Markup Validation Service checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc. The whole concept behind the W3C organization is to encourage the use of standards compliant, user-friendly and accessible code. The feedback from this tool is extremely technical and would be best suited for your website developer.

3)  Pearanaltyics

Pearanalytics screenshot

Pear Analytics has a more friendly user interface and offers great detail on how to fix website issues and the degree of difficulty for each recommended change.  Some of the relevant checks they perform are as follows:

  • 404 error handling
  • Do you have analytics installed?
  • Domain age (the older the better)
  • Duplicate content
  • Do you have a sitemap?

4)  Reactionengine.com

Reaction Engine

The Reaction Engine is another bare bones technical tool that is geared toward the developer crowd.  The key difference with this tool is that it analyzes the SEO performance of a URL based on a given key phrase.

5)  Woorank.com

Woorank

Woorank is a very comprehensive reporting tool with a great looking interface and the ability to save a copy of the report as a pdf.  You can drill down and gain a great deal of insight from stats such as:

  • Traffic to your site
  • Valid robots.txt file
  • Usability
  • Related websites
  • Directory listings
  • Social media presence

The one caveat I did find when trying each of these tools?  Some of the results are inconsistent, for example, Pear Analytics reported that I did not have an H1 heading and the others saw that I did.  So, if you’re going to take the plunge and optimize your site using free tools, make sure you get a second opinion before making any big changes.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, please reach out and we’ll give you a hand.

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What if You Could Combine Outbound/Offline Marketing with Inbound/Online Marketing?

By John Joyce on October 28, 2010 - Comments 2

If you have a local business and still rely on direct mail to reach prospects as well as existing customers, then you have experienced the fear of not knowing whether you have achieved any ROI.  What if you could actually track the audience response to your direct mail campaigns and even follow their progress through your own online portal?  What if you could track their referral activity once they transitioned into the online world and allow them to utilize social networking links to evangelize your offer to their network of contacts?  And, finally, what if you could reward these customers based on their influence and ability to drive new customers to your business?  That would be just Dukky!

I read an article about a company called Dukky in the July 2010 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine where the founder of Dukky, Shawn Burst, had an idea to revive the dying direct marketing and print industries.  Let’s face it, more than 99% of “junk mail” goes directly into the trash. But, with this solution, you have a lead generation system that marries the offline marketing world with the online marketing world. Take a look at the video below to get a better understanding of exactly how Dukky works:

“According to the Direct Marketing Association, more than 54 percent of all advertising spending in the United States goes into direct-marketing channels. Spending in 2009 was more than $149 billion; direct mail and catalogs alone made up $44.4 billion of that.”

Businesses spent more than $44B in 2009 on direct mail and catalogs and they have no idea what kind of return they’re getting on their investment.  Now, Dukky will allow them to develop direct mail campaigns that can be tested and tracked for effectiveness.

For the small businesses that use postcards to remain top-of-mind with prospects, now you can entice them to participate in a more interactive process, to better understand your USP and to share a special offer with their social network.  Dukky’s small business solution is currently in beta and pricing starts at $99/month so I suggest you get in touch with them and find out how they can help you leverage their solution to grow your business.

The reports of direct marketing’s death have been greatly exaggerated – according to Shawn Burst at least.

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50% Discount for Small Business Technology Tour In Boston

By John Joyce on October 19, 2010 - Comments 0

The Small BizNest invites small business owners to attend the small business technolgy tour

Friends of The Small BizNest are eligible for a 50% discount on admission to the Small Business Technology Tour in Boston next week.  Ramon Ray, founder of Smallbiztechnology.com, has put together a great series of events to educate growing companies – whether you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner – in how to use technology as a tool to grow your business.  The next event will be taking place on October 25th at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center. (NERD)

Check out our latest newsletter for more information on enrollment and other cities where you can attend this great event.

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LinkedIn Adds “Share” Functionality To Help Boost Your Presence

By John Joyce on June 2, 2010 - Comments 0

I just received an email from LinkedIn announcing a new feature that essentially allows you to share your favorite news and media from within your profile.  This is really a natural progression and I’m sure there were plenty of customers clamoring for more publishing and sharing capabilities to be built into the application.

Now you can share your favorite news and media from within your LinkedIn account

Personally, I use CoTweet as my main dashboard for posting updates and then send them to LinkedIn via Ping.fm but, for someone who spends the majority of their time on LinkedIn, this is a very easy way to position yourself as an expert from within the most powerful business networking platform.

The process is very simple and can be seen in the video below:

Give it a try and let us know what you think!
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