Are You a Mobile-Friendly Kind of Company?

mobileAccording to a survey conducted by GlobalWebIndex, about 80 percent of adult Internet users own a smartphone, and 75 percent of smartphone users are using their phones to access mobile Internet services.

As such, if your business website is not optimized for mobile, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to expand your customer base and increase your revenue.

Here are a number of things that you can do to enhance the mobile-friendliness of your website….

Go the Mobile Friendly Route

Think with Your Thumb

Your website should be completely navigable with just one thumb, without the need to pinch or stretch the screen.

This is an important tip for improving your mobile website, because you want your mobile visitors to be able to navigate your website with one hand.

Also, if they have to pinch the screen, the content on your site is probably too small or not properly optimized for their devices. Since most of your mobile visitors will be using a touch-screen, all the buttons in your website should be big enough for larger fingers.

Mobile-Optimize Every Web Page

According to an article entitled “Is Your Site as Mobile-Friendly as It Needs to Be?”, website owners who want to achieve higher search engine rankings have to make sure that every page on their websites meets Google’s new ranking criteria.

Google has recently updated its algorithms to favor sites that perform and look better on mobile devices, and it will assess every page on your website. Pages that meet the new standards will be ranked higher in search results, while those that do not will be demoted.

The new algorithm can reduce the visibility of some of the pages in your website, so you should try to mobile-optimize your entire site.

Caching and Code Optimization

A good caching plan can significantly improve the mobile-friendliness of any WordPress or Joomla website.

Caching can increase your website’s loading time and efficiency by storing frequently requested information and feeding it out to your mobile visitors.

Different types of content on a web page, such as text and images, can be cached and accessed more easily than if they have to be located and extracted by the server with each page load.

Another effective way to mobile-optimize your website and improve page load times is to compress elements such as Javascript and CSS. This task can be performed using one of the many compression tools available in the market.

Use Geolocation

Geolocation is one of the mobile capabilities that can help you attract and convert more customers.

You can use geolocation to provide directions, enable customers to check in-store availability at nearby stores, offer targeted promotions, display prices in foreign currencies and connect to social media websites.

As mobile devices continue to gain popularity, it is becoming increasingly essential for businesses to mobile-optimize their websites.

The tips above can help you harness the power of mobile to gain a competitive edge.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to Cloud computing.

Automakers and Dealers Driven to Social Media and Marketing

Car dealers and makers are always looking to drive up sales, and marketing and social media are two key components of that.

so_meMarketing that focuses on providing customers with both useful information and an engaging experience is key to boosting car sales.

According to research firm Autodata, automakers sold 1.55 million vehicles in March of this year, a slightly larger figure than at the same time last year; there is a little growth in the auto industry, but there is room for improvement.

So, how can carefully-crafted marketing and social media campaigns to engage customers?

Getting Customers Involved

As a marketing channel, social media is less of a soapbox and more of a conversation piece.

Customers are looking to interact with their favorite brands. Some automakers have been adding the “social” into social media with their market campaigns.

Take Citroen for example. Facebook followers were able to be part of the design team for Citroen’s upcoming C1 Connexion, using an app that allowed them to tweak the specifications of the car. With more than 24,000 versions of the car submitted, the campaign boosted Citroen’s social media engagement.

The popular UK-based Mini got in on the action by giving mini owners the chance to see their cars on digital billboards around the country.

Customers uploaded their images to Mini’s dedicated Tumblr hub, or by using Twitter hashtags. The campaign boosted both social media followers and sales for the brand.

Adding Visual Appeal

As the article “What Cars Are the Cheapest to Own?” points out, when deciding to buy a car, there are lots of budget-related and other practical factors to consider.

But for grabbing a customer’s interest and hopefully kicking off a series of events that will lead to a sale, automakers need good visual appeal, and Ford uses social media to achieve this beautifully.

Ford’s social media content includes witty and attention-grabbing Vine videos, Tumblr posts crafted to appeal to the younger demographic of their audience, and artful Instagram pictures that make you want to jump in and drive.

It all adds up to social media marketing that stays new and interesting post after post.

Making the Most of Different Channels

Car companies have a wide-range of marketing and social media channels available to them these days, giving them the opportunity to reach out to customers in different ways and hone their content for each channel to best suit the audience.

For automakers, this means there is more than one way to get their message across.

Honda put this to good use with Honda Stage, a dedicated YouTube channel and associated concert tour that showcased and supported musicians, while forming good connections with young followers and building a strong database of leads.

Automakers can also use their websites and blogs to promote high quality content.

Toyota and Mazda have turned the concept of blog content into vividly colored and visually appealing online magazines, where readers can browse interesting articles and connect with the larger community of Toyota and Mazda owners worldwide.

Building Trust with Customers

Social media is great for car dealerships, too.

There are a lot of jokes out there about car salesman. Social media is a fantastic tool for breaking the tired old stereotypes and providing customers with high quality content that helps build a relationship of trust.

Subaru dealer Subaru of Wichita uses their Facebook page to get their followers engaged. From asking questions of their followers to discussing pop culture, Subaru of Wichita makes sure their Facebook page is part of building a connection.

Frank Myers Auto Maxx in Salem keeps their followers interested with a range of content that matches their fun, friendly and knowledgeable personality.

From useful hints and tips on car maintenance and ownership, to humorous quotes and shareable giveaways, Frank Myers uses social media to keep customers interested in their brand.

For automakers and dealers everywhere, social media and online marketing provide a versatile method for driving brand awareness and building customer loyalty.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including branding, inbound marketing, and how to use social media to drive sales.

Words Matter with SMS Text Marketing

Text message marketing can do wonders for your business.

3ff425aIt can help you increase your brand visibility, boost customer engagement, provide better customer service and achieve higher conversion rates.

However, it is not easy to develop and implement a successful text message marketing campaign.

One of the biggest challenges that many businesses face when they are using SMS to communicate with their customers is the need to conform to the 160-character limit that applies to text messages. It can be difficult to write convincing marketing messages without going over the limit.

If you want to get the most out of your SMS marketing campaigns, you need to be able to write effective text messages that will engage the recipients and inspire them to take action.

How to Write Great SMS Marketing Messages

Keep Your Messages Focused

Simplicity is the key to successful text message marketing. Your text messages should be clear, focused and succinct. Since they cannot exceed 160 characters, there is no room for fluff. Identify your target audience first and then speak to them directly. Ideally, each message should only consist of one offer, a call to action and information that matters, such as instructions for redeeming the offer.

Avoid Using Text Speak

In an endeavor to stay within the 160-character limit, you may be tempted to use text speak. While some of the recipients of your messages will not mind, others may not like it. Text speak can be confusing to some people, and it can prevent them from understanding your messages correctly. Additionally, it can make your company seem unprofessional.

Start Your Messages with an Attention-Grabber

Think of a word or phrase that will engage your customers from the beginning and compel them to continue reading. Some examples of attention-grabbing words and phrases include “OFFER”,”MEMBER DEAL” and “NEWS”. Write your attention-grabbers in capital letters to achieve maximum impact. As the following article looks at, 6 Words to help you works SMS text marketing magic, words do matter.

Use a Friendly Name

You are allowed to choose a name when you start sending SMS marketing messages. This name will be displayed on your contacts’ mobile phones when they receive your messages. Choosing a name that is friendly and easily recognizable can increase the chances of your messages being read.

Add a Sense of Urgency to Your Messages

Take advantage of the instantaneous nature of SMS messaging and add a sense of urgency to your text messages. By putting expiration dates on your offers, you can compel your customers to act immediately and achieve quicker results.

Make Your Customers Feel Special

Do not clutter your customers’ SMS inboxes with news and offers that they can easily get from your stores or website. Try to make them feel special by giving them exclusive offers. Words or phrases such as “Member Special” and “when you show this text” imply that your offers are only available to people who subscribe to receive your messages.

Text message marketing is all about words, something your small business must take advantage of.

The success of your campaign relies heavily on your ability to use the right words to captivate and influence your target consumers.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to Cloud computing.

Is Your Network a Soon-to-be Victim?

Your business network system may be a target right now and you don’t even know it.

cloud_compNetwork hackers cost businesses more than $445 billion annually, all around the globe.

To prevent this increasingly pervasive threat from destroying everything you’ve struggled to build up over the years, you need to know how to detect a potential hack, how to protect yourself, and how to stop it from happening in the first place.

How to Detect a Potential Hack

Future hacks begin with delivery of the “weapon.”

In digital terms, the weapon may be a piece of software or a piece of code. This weapon needs to be embedded in your system, where it will either lie dormant until the date of attack, or it will immediately begin breaking down your system from the inside out.

The delivery of the weapon can come from various sources.

Often it will come via an innocent sounding email, through a third-party website, or through a software update.

Network attackers hide viruses and other hacks designed to gain sensitive information from your company in these “carriers,” in the hopes that someone in your organization will be naïve or careless enough to click on them and allow them to gain entry into your network.

Potential threats can be sometimes be identified with the following methods:

  1. Words are misspelled in emails, or sentence structure is “off,” indicating that the writer’s first language is not English. One runs its entire economic structure off of hacked U.S. sites. The cell is operated by indigenous Romanians who write emails designed to lure unsuspecting American workers to click on links and start the download of the virus.
  2. The email is an unexpected communication from a bank or other financial organization, such as asking the user to verify information out of the blue.
  3. The third party website looks similar to one your employee is used to seeing, such as UPS.com, but certain elements are missing, some words are misspelled, or is just looks “off” in general.

How to Protect Yourself from a Hack

As the following article looks at, to know how to detect an advanced attack in time to actually stop it, you need to know how to protect yourself ahead of time.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to invest in a backup system for all your company’s data.

A backup system will allow you to instantly restore your uncorrupted files to your servers with little or no downtime. For a low monthly subscription fee, you can virtually free yourself from any possible hacks.

How to Stop Hacks From Happening in the First Place

Of course the best protection against hacks is prevention.

You can stop hacks from happening in the first place by putting in place some measures in your company.

Among them:

  • Educate your employees

Give your employees either in-house or outside courses in how to detect hacks. Let them know what a potential hack looks like, and what to do if they suspect something.

  • Hire an IT expert

It’s worth it to pay for an IT expert on your team. This person can install virus protectors and firewalls that will keep attacks at bay.

Your company network doesn’t have to be the next victim.

Implement these steps and help to make your network impervious to threats.

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

The Need for Properly Marketing the Travel Industry

If you work in the travel industry, you know the importance of using social media to advertise your business, get your name out there and gain new clients.

travel_blogWhether you’re a travel agent, travel insurance associate or you simply are a full-time traveler, having a blog and a social media presence are essential to your business’ marketing efforts.

Think about the last time you planned a vacation. What inspired you to plan one?

Most likely, it was seeing photos of family and friends’ vacations on social media in addition to needing a break from work.

When it came time to actually plan the trip, you probably searched online for the best deals and vacation packages. You might have visited travel websites and travel blogs to learn even more about your destination of choice.

Travelers all over the world plan vacations online.

That is why you absolutely need a blog and a social media following.

How to Start a Travel Blog

The idea of starting a travel blog might seem a bit confusing, but once you dive in it’s really not that difficult at all.

In fact, you can probably have one up and running within an hour.

As the following article looks at, here are the steps needed on how to start a travel blog:

Step 1: Purchase a Domain Name

A domain name is your blog’s URL. You’ll want it to be easy to remember and to fully encompass what it is you do.

If you’re a travel agent, for example, you may want “Traveling with (insert your name)” as your domain name. If you already own a travel agency, you should be able to use your website’s existing domain name and add a “Blog” section to the site.

Step 2: Find a Host

A host is the company that your blog will run on. Bluehost is an affordable option chosen by many.

Here, you can pick your domain name and purchase your hosting all on one site.

Once that’s taken care of, download WordPress or another self-hosted blogging platform.

Step 3: Choose a Theme

A theme is what viewers will see when they visit your blog. You want to pick a theme that’s easy to read and that can be navigated easily.

Simple, clean themes usually attract the most viewers because the viewer isn’t distracted with ads or bright colors.

Step 4: Create Engaging Content

When creating content for your travel blog, think about what people are searching for.

If you specialize in tropical vacations, you might want to do a series of posts on “affordable vacations in the Caribbean” or “how to save money on tropical vacations.”

By writing about what people are searching for, you’ll bring more readers to your site. These readers could easily wind up using your services to book their next vacation.

To get your blog exposure, create social media pages to go alongside your blog.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the platforms you should start with, as those three have millions of users and growing.

When you post a new blog, share the post with your followers on your social media sites.

Hopefully your followers will also share your post and your blog will slowly increase in traffic.

Travel agents and those working in the travel industry need to have both a blog and social media profiles in order to market their companies and see continued success in the travel business.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on a variety of topics including social media, small businesses and travel.

Don’t Overlook Professional Development Hours

Today’s job market is competitive.

onlinePeople are coming out of college well educated, well prepared, with strong backgrounds and experience already. Skill sets are strong and with internships starting in high school, experience is easier to get. You’ve got to get (and stay) ahead of the game to maintain and move ahead.

One smart way to do this is to take on some professional development.

Whether you take professional development hours before you get a job, during employment or even in between jobs, it can help make the difference in your career.

Here’s a look at 4 Reasons to earn additional professional development hours:

  1. You’ll improve your skills – Regardless of your career, professional development hours will help you improve your current skills. Maybe the classes are geared toward your specific career, like “How to Teach New Methods of Math” or more general, like “Better Organization Skills.” Whichever it may be, you’ll benefit from learning new skills. Once you implement your new knowledge, you’ll be able to do more within your job.
  2. You’ll open the door for more promotion opportunities – Perhaps you want a promotion, but you aren’t quite ready for it. Take a few professional development classes in the specific area of the position you’re eyeing, and you will be more marketable for it. Not only does it open promotion doors for you within your current job, but it you are looking to switch companies to move up, it will help out there as well.
  3. You’ll increase your earning potential – Often your salary is dependent on some outside factors including certifications. Professional development courses can help you reach those certifications, therefore, increasing your earning potential.
  4. You’ll impress your employer – Sometimes it’s mandated to take professional development hours, sometimes it’s optional, but it’s always a benefit. Your employer will be pleased you are taking initiative to better your work skill set, and that will lead to good things. In fact, check with your employer if this is something you’re taking on yourself, because they’ll often pay (or reimburse you) for these classes.

Educate Yourself on More Schooling

Teachers, for examples, need to take professional development hours.

Whether it’s in their specific subject field or grade level, or it’s covering new educational trends or technology, it keeps them current and up to date to provide the best education to their students that they can.

Sales people also continue to take professional development hours on technique as well as product. The medical field continues to take professional development to learn new techniques and information.

Without professional development, there’s the chance of stagnating and falling behind.

With it, you’ve got opportunity, excitement and enrichment. It’s an easy choice which way to go!

About the Author: Heather Legg is a freelance writer who covers topics related to career development, social media and small business.

Is Your Business Properly Allied?

With all the competition out there, it’s more important than ever for your business to have some strategic alliances.

strategyWhether your business needs a networking partner or another business with which to pursue objectives, alliances help everyone get ahead.

Here are just a few benefits of strategic alliances in today’s business world:

Shared Expertise

The business world has a number of obstacles that sometimes feel impossible to surpass. However, with a strategic business ally, your business has more resources and knowledge at its disposal.

Part of the strategy of having a business ally is creating mutually beneficial relationship where one business gives the other more clout and vice versa. As long as both businesses have the same goals, strategic alliances can share their expertise and, as a result, prosper together.

Access to Potential Markets

Customer outreach is an important part of any business’s success, but it goes beyond that.

Businesses like yours are no longer targeting small customer groups, but rather entire markets. There’s no better way to improve your access to target markets than by having a partner who can increase your access.

Strategic alliances give your business access to markets you otherwise wouldn’t reach. Choosing an ally who is already successful in a particular market is important.

On the flip side of the coin, your business also needs to bring assets to the table in the form of accessibility to other markets and/or a successful brand.

Increased Visibility

As the following article looks at, when it comes to today’s business world, the age of competition gets replaced by the age of strategic alliances.

This is especially the case considering a strategic alliance with another like-minded business can help increase your brand visibility.

When brands join forces, it creates an environment where everything from prestige to credibility increases.

This gives both your business and your ally a marketable boost. Likewise, when two reputable brands create an alliance, brand recognition has the potential to increase exponentially.

Larger Budgets

Finances are a large part of the strategic alliance equation.

When you choose a financially healthy business to partner with, it gives both businesses more budgeting room. This is hugely beneficial in terms of increasing marketing practices and branching out with new products and services.

When financial risks are shared, it gives both businesses involved the opportunity to try new outreach techniques and create new revenue streams.

From increasing marketing efforts from a local to national level to putting more money into research and development, strategic alliances give everyone involved more room to explore.

Stronger Networking

If your business is struggling to find its footing in the networking arena, a strategic alliance can help in this department as well. When businesses team up, it allows both businesses involved to set their sights on the same networking goals.

Whether it’s connecting with more industry leaders are making the most out of a networking event, double the business means double the professional socializing.

In addition, when your business has twice the networking boots on the ground, it makes it easier for outside businesses and clients to find you.

When your business is in need of a boost, then it’s time to consider finding a strategic alliance.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including networking and marketing.