Can You Run an Online Business From Smartphone?

For businessmen, Smartphone has provided the freedom of working from anywhere at anytime. Smartphones are specially designed for those people who want to access their emails and digital documents wherever they want.

Smartphones V/S Traditional Phones

Online Business From Smartphone?Traditional phones provide calling, text, music, camera and other entertaining facilities. Smartphone is an integrated calling device which supports business related activities.

Smartphone helps corporate people to access their work even when they are outside the office. People can enjoy their weekend with family even when they have a massive work load.

How Businesses Have Adopted Smartphone?

Proliferation of the Smartphone is amazing. The device is broadly adopted in input and extracting data in ERP program; it can be used in tracking payment gateway and in Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

In an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program, Smartphone can be used for sales data processing. Managers can access this data by logging into the ERP application of Smartphone.

Today, Smartphone has become a virtual platform for business transactions. Digital SMSes, integrated email facility, document reading are the increasingly popular Smartphone add-ons.

Business Prospective Via Smartphone

In the last couple of years, Smartphone has made it possible to run your business online with its various business applications. Smartphones applications are also introducing various customized applications useful for business purposes.

These applications or Apps (in Smartphone language) are very little time consuming and are productive at little cost. Out of all business applications, I tried to introduce major applications mostly useful for business purposes.

These applications are –

Square:

It is the most innovative application for credit/debit card transactions. This is a free application provided in Smartphones which when installed, sends a free card reader to plug into the device.

This application helps users to accept credit card payments without annual fees. Square application in Smartphone is comfortable for small businesses.

CamScanner:

It is a Smartphone document scanner, useful for keeping document backups, receipts, bills and bank statements. This is a single user application. It can be activated through signature scanning too.

CamScanner can be obtained free of cost and supports Google Docs and PDF files.

QuickOffice:

It is a Microsoft office based application, which is available for free to all Smartphone users. Its pro version means a user can edit, update and add documents to the office briefcase. However, the pro version is not available for free if a user needs to edit texts in presentations.

QuickOffice enables business productivity by providing easy document access from Smartphone. Also, its auto formatting facility helps users to read document texts in mobile optimized format. It supports Excel files, PowerPoint Presentation files and Word documents.

SplashTop:

It enables remote accessing of your office or home computer from your Smartphone. With this application, the user can access a connected PC or laptop from anywhere in the world. It works on high speed internet connection for better accessibility.

Splash Top is a highly adoptive application for small businesses.

Skype:

Skype is an audio-video communicating application and highly preferred by top level employees. It is a free of cost application with which employers can communicate with each other.

The Skype app on Smartphones enables users to share documents by just copying them on the Skype communication box. It can be used even in low internet accessibility situations.

GoPayment:

PayPal enables user to create payment invoices and to manage PayPal accounts via Smartphones. This application helps in managing online transactions “on the go.” The app can also be used to directly send/receive payment online.

GoPayment also provides a financial statement of the user’s online payment transactions. It is a free to download application for compatible Smartphone devices.

WordPress:

Online business setup via blogging is incomplete if the user does not download and install the Smartphone optimized WordPress application. It functions properly just as it would on a laptop or a PC.

Now you can write blog posts, edit and publish blogs anytime and anywhere through Smartphone WordPress.

Social Networking:

Small businesses demand social networking connectivity to promote their products and services online. Facebook, Twitter, MyYearBook are easily accessible social networking applications from Smartphones.

These free applications can be easily downloaded from their associated websites where they are provided with mobile based applications suitable for Smartphone devices. Business promotions via social networking are the foremost requirements of small businesses as it connects business to the people around the globe.

All these Smartphone applications will directly connect your business with your targeted audience.

Disadvantages of Using Smartphones in Online Business Activities:

No doubt, Smartphones simplifies accessibility of business activities from every corner of the world but its major drawback is data security. Every day, Smartphone accesses massive data as users store their passwords for easy and fast accessing of multiple website accounts.

All these activities are performed on its free distributed applications, which is the major issue for lack of security. Applications installed on Smartphone are not secure enough for account privacy. For hackers, grabbing login passwords of important accounts is much easier on Smartphones because of various phishing scams that target massive Smartphone users.

Summary

Staying productive is enough for balancing professional and personal life simultaneously. Smartphones counters this balance and tries to make professional life easy to access from anywhere and anytime. Smartphone is your personal digital assistant to maintain your office without being physically present.

Future innovations are considering Smartphone as the unavoidable virtual part of IT infrastructure. It enhances communication and easy storage of company data without much stress.

Although, the market for Smartphones is enjoying constant growth, it needs to solve the data security issues to protect essential and important data accessed via Smartphones.

Pinterest.com – To Use or Not to Use

Launched in 2010, Pinterest was only an online hub for passionate people about beautiful designs, Pinterest visual photographs and videos. Today, the website is stepping up as one of the essential marketing tools for online business promotions. Based on its high-tech image processing system, Pinterest.com has begun to play an important role in generating traffic for blogs and websites.

Understanding Pinterest

Pinterest doubles up as a social bookmarking site and an online bulletin board where people “pin” what they want to share. Every image in the bulletin boards are linked with its URL. When a user clicks on the image, the “pin” page appears, clicking image again will take the user from the image originating page.

Pinterest allows users to connect their bulletin board to Facebook and Twitter.

Getting Started With Pinterest

Pinterest cannot be accessed by a simple sign-up process. This website is designed with a special sign-up process, based on invitation-only module. Users can sign up on Pinterest in two ways – first, an interested user can leave the main email id for Pinterest people to invite the user; or, secondly, existing Pinterest users can invite someone through email invitations.

Once the invitation is received and accepted, the user can create a personal account. After creating an account on Pinterest, the user will be presented with a template screen on which the user can design/create bulletin boards. The bulletin board enables the user to add or upload pins.

Top Tools and Apps

From a marketing point of view, Pinterest can be used for business promotions. Since the whole concept of Pinterest is image oriented, marketers have a chance to promote their products and services through creative outputs.

Just like other social media networks, Pinterest also provides various interesting tools and applications to customize the user’s experience. Following are some of the often used Pinterest tools and applications:

  • Pin Clout:

If you are familiar with Facebook Insights, Pin Clout is nothing new to understand. This tool monitors current trends and tips in tracking the user’s growth on the network. It provides an easy sign up process and sends a confirmation email to the user. Once confirmed, it will help the user to increase influence over the website.

  • Wise Stamp:

Wise Stamp encourages user to add “Follow Me” on Pinterest. This application customizes emails by adding “Follow Me on Pinterest” button at the bottom of emails. Whenever the Pinterest user sends emails to others, the “Follow Me” button will be visible to the email receivers. By clicking on the “Follow Me” button, an email receiver can become a follower of the sender’s Pinterest bulletin Pin boards.

  • PinPuff:

PinPuff provides Pinfluence score to users. Monetary value of user’s Pins can be easily obtained via the PinPuff application.

  • Snapito:

Providing webpage screenshots of target WebPages on your Pin boards is the ultimate source to increase traffic. Snapito application facilitates the attachment of web page screenshots on your Pin boards.

  • Pinerly:

Pinerly provides a convenient way of managing marketing campaigns on Pinterest by scheduling campaign programs according to user demand. It also helps in controlling user’s Pinterest followers list.

  • Pin a Quote:

In case Web Pages are without images, ‘Pin a Quote’ provides the facility to pin the webpage with a quote or text to highlight products or services. Pin a Quote shares this highlighted text on the Pin boards.

These are the important tools and applications in Pinterest to facilitate users for promoting their business online. Besides, if the user wants to look at the pinning record of a website, the user can simply type the URL [http://pinterest.com/source/YourWebsite]. Entering this URL will help the user to know how many users are pinning the user’s website on their pinning boards.

Enabling Business Promotion with Pinterest

Google Data analysis of Pinterest recently found that Pinterest is acquiring around 73 million visitors worldwide. Below is a screenshot of Pinterest traffic details from Trak.in.

Pinterest Traffic Details
Pinterest Traffic

Pinterest allows businesses, individuals and brands to share and promote a range of items worldwide. Following are some effective approaches for successful business promotion via Pinterest:

  • Functionalities Of Niche Categories:

Pinterest provides functionalities of creating relevant categories as well as sub categories of your brands according to your choice. This will help you in customizing your Pinterest profile and to set a priority mark on Pinterest search page.

For example, if you have a website selling handmade items, you can create many Pin boards with the name ‘Gift Ideas,’ ‘Handmade Gifts’ and many more.

  • Social Networking Integration:

Registration with Facebook or Twitter is mandatory for registration on Pinterest. If you are planning Pinterest business promotion, you can achieve it by creating common webpage name on Pinterest as you have on Twitter or Facebook. This will help in integrating your business promotion on Pinterest effectively.

  • Interaction With Existing Followers:

Followers are the essential units of business promotion online. Interaction with your followers to inform that ‘why you are on Pinterest?’ is a must. This can be achieved by sharing photo slideshows or other visual based updates on your Pinterest profile page. Your followers should not only be linked with your business promotion page, they should be able to interact with it also.

  • Use Smart Descriptions:

As Pinterest is image-based, its search options are bound with super sensitive keywords. Thus, the description of your targeted product or service should be catchy, but short. Images, which you pin from any webpage, automatically include their embedded link without caption. This space can also be smartly used for placing your business updates including the reason for pinning that image.

  • Include Pricing Information:

It’s obvious that the user friendly interface of Pinterest helps users in easy browsing and easy selection of products. From the same standpoint, Pinterest allows a special section to its users for adding prices of their products along with images. This special section enables only those images in search pages which have their price tags. Thus, it is a better way to directly promote your business products along with their prices.

  • Engage Users With Re-pinning:

Direct marketing needs high experience level if people are not familiar with your products and services. Pinterest allows re-pinning and tagging target audience by their username to promote your business products a number of times.

  • Encourage Audience With Contests And Awards:

You can generate Pin boards for your product fans and can organize various contests to promote your business products on Pinterest. Your Pin boards can be used to direct your audience towards your products and services by just attracting them with various gifts and offers. You can also distribute free samples of products and services for limited period of time to cover your estimated business promotion.

Planning a business promotion with Pinterest is the latest and the most demanding trend. Pinterest will soon launch video pinning facility to pin videos directly from YouTube. This can further enhance Pinterest marketing.

Pinterest.com – To Use or Not to Use

My goal was to help you decide whether you should use Pinterest or not!

If you have read the above context, you will observe that Pinterest.com not only focuses on entertaining its users, but also provides various stunning business promotion opportunities with its ‘easy to use’ nature. The ‘business promotion opportunities’ section of this blog easily describes where and how to adopt Pinterest in your business and in other entertaining activities.

Now, let’s come to some of the drawbacks and check points for why and where you should not adopt Pinterest in your business activities.

  1. Pinterest doesn’t provide business-oriented functionalities for some places. In your business promotion activity, if your products and services are not particularly visible, their images might not tie directly to the brand.
  2. If you simply display your products without adequate descriptive content, it will be difficult to attract people to your product webpage.
  3. Grabbing account password is not a big deal for hackers. Pinterest is not strong enough to provide security with its Pin board. Cyber criminals have now started pinning images of Starbuck’s gift cards and free wallets. When a victim clicks on these images, the scams begin.  Some cyber criminals redirect victims to their CPA websites.
  4. As Pinterest is based on invitation-only sign up approach, marketers cannot connect their business promotions with Pinterest until they get individual invitations either from Pinterest or from someone who already has a Pinterest account.
  5. Mandatory Facebook or Twitter connection for registration on Pinterest is not a good deal because not every business is active on these social networks.

Despite the drawbacks, no problems have been encountered by marketers in their business promotions via Pinterest till date. Marketing experts now consider the platform as the most profitable social media tool because of the heavy traffic it receives, which leads to better conversion rates for businesses.

Finally, in my opinion, you should surely examine Pinterest personally for a few days before planning your product marketing strategy over it.

Are you already using Pinterest? Do share your experiences below.

Using Facebook Timeline for Business

On March 2012, another new feature rolled out from Facebook’s stable – Timeline. Facebook Timeline feature allows users to customize their profile page, making it more user-friendly and stylish, even though some people do tend to disagree! Lately, the Facebook timeline feature has emerged as the new trend to promote business online.

Facebook TimelineIn this post, we will discuss:

– What is Timeline?
– What are the existing features of Timeline?
– How you can implement Timeline for your business campaign?

Let us discuss them one by one.


What Is Facebook Timeline?

Facebook Timeline is a chronological layout or structure given to users’ Facebook profile. It converts an existing Facebook profile into the new layout with a list of recent updates to the overall summary of the user’s activity from the date of joining. This Facebook customization is divided into two columns.

  • First vertical column is for adding user’s cover page.
  • Next column has the user’s recent updates and shared activities.

Timeline can also disable unwanted updates from profile. It works on an integrated platform to customize the user profile and to promote business in an easy format.

Features of Facebook Timeline

Timeline is beneficial not only for personal purposes, but for commercial purposes as well. Before we move on to how you can turn Facebook into an interesting platform for business promotion, let me first discuss what’s new with Facebook Timeline and its various features.

1. Profile Cover Photo:

The most demanding feature of Facebook was the cover photo add-on to the profile. Considering the demand, Facebook Timeline enabled users with the facility to add 851 x 315 pixels photo on profile page.

Adding a cover photo on the profile for the first time is very easy. The user just has to click on “Add cover photo.” The option is placed at the upper-right side of the Timeline page. If the user wants to update an existing cover photo, profile is enabled with “Change Cover” option when hovering mouse over cover photo.

2. Pinning Posts:

Facebook Timeline allows to “pin” a post to its users. The pinned posts are valid for seven days. This means the user can remain abreast of development concerning people, brands and other chosen things.

For example, if you are planning a get-together with your school friends this weekend, you can simply ‘pin’ an informative post regarding the gathering date, place and time. The number of updates from your friends on this page will be easily seen on your profile pin board.

3. Customizing Apps:

Facebook has updated its application tab placed at the middle-left side of the user’s profile page while enabling Timeline. The new timeline enabled profile has a limit of 12 apps on the wall.  However, only 4 apps are visible at a time on the Timeline page.

The first app is by default the same as the earlier Facebook wall. It is reserved for users to add new photos, update them and delete existing photos. The remaining three apps are definable by the users. Some of the common apps users most use are the “Like” buttons, video opt-in applications and email opt-in applications from the applications tab.

One of the best things I like about the application update is the ability to customize the app visibility according to the user’s choice. This helps in controlling who gets to see your apps and its activities.

Business Integration with Facebook Timeline

In an era of fierce online marketing, marketers are eager to find different online marketing innovations to promote their business in as customized format as possible. After the announcement for Timeline, marketers began to speculate the best way to use timeline for marketing. Keeping the online marketing campaign in mind, I sorted out the following promotional activities from Timeline.

  • Business Optimization With Cover Photo:

Cover Photo of Timeline profile is the first step for business promotion. The user can create a profile cover photo banner displaying business details like name, tagline, email id, contact number and location.

Corporate people are highly dedicated towards business logos as it directs the audience towards business and its services. The timeline is the perfect place for business promotion. For the self employed people too, a cover photo of their services enables various opportunities to connect with clients across the globe.

  • Provide Business History To Client Satisfaction:

Hiring an organization to accomplish certain tasks is not an easy matter for any client. Finding the organization’s history, its completed projects and business growth in the past years provide credibility to the client towards business services. Timeline allows highlighting business history and its achievements on its user’s profile. This indirectly promotes business products and services.

  • Easy Campaign Visibility:

Launching new products or services is not successful until they are not promoted globally. If an organization really wants to do so, it needs to use Timeline. The ‘Pin to top’ on the Timeline profile enables people to post promotional activities and position them at the top of their profile page.

As described earlier, validity of this pinning facility is for seven days. The seven days validity is beneficial for those people who constantly add promotional details on their business pages. This keeps their business profile fresh for their regular visitors or customers.

  • Managing Campaign:

Whenever you want to edit or organize your product name and images, Timeline provides an easy but effective campaign management facility.  Businesses can assign images to its products for individual campaigns with the custom tab facility.

  • Effective Image Branding:

Business branding with Facebook Timeline is much easier than other modes of brandings. Individual pages as well as product campaigns can be optimized easily with Timeline. Enabling business videos with the Timeline ‘Video App’ enhances the visual brand image of the business.

  • Timeline Apps Showcase:

Customized tabs and the capacity to add twelve apps with the Timeline business profile has begun to attract corporate people to integrate their business page on Timeline. This integrated version of Facebook provides the facility to put four apps on Timeline profile at a time.

Generally, business profiles customize this facility with email app, video and photo sharing apps, Business logo apps and “pin a post” app.

  • Business Likes At Timeline:

‘Page Likes’ is not new to Facebook users. Timeline has enabled the same feature for business page promotions too.  This is the essential and most demanding feature with every business on Facebook since it directs the audience towards a landing page. When the user clicks or hovers on ‘Like button,’ the user can click ‘Like’ and ‘add to interest List.’

  •  Extended Post Facility:

Business profiles on Facebook can make use of the extended post feature, allowing the webmaster to post about products and services in a more descriptive format.  To activate this facility on Timeline page, the user just has to go to the business post and click the ‘star’ icon. This will enable extra space to post complete the description of the chosen business post.

  • Receive Private Messages From Visitors:

Business profiles customized with Timeline format enables visitors to send private messages to the profile admin without getting associated to the business page. People who don’t want to enable this feature can turn it off through the page setting option.

However, this integrated version is highly in demand amongst business people since it can be utilized in getting customer feedback for their products and services in a comfortable manner.

Essential Business Practices

Besides the above mentioned features, you need to utilize the following measures to make use of Facebook promotions adequately.

1. Micro Blogging:

As Facebook has expanded its post space facility up to 5000 characters, micro-blogging for your business products and services becomes easier now. You may not have a separate blog but turn Facebook into a blogging space.

2. Audience Engagement:

Post your business updates, questions related to your services, polls and business forums to keep engaging your regular visitors, which is a necessity these days for steady brand promotion and brand building.

3. Be a Client Resource:

Do something to make the Facebook business page resourceful towards new and old clients. For instance, uploading business statistics, links and useful facts helps a lot.

4. Request Feedback:

Requesting customer feedback for your business posts or services adds value to your business promotion. Also, it holds the visitors’ attention towards your commercial posts.

These were some essential promotional practices you need to utilize for effective Facebook business promotion. 

Facebook Timeline Summary

Various big organizations are adopting marketing campaigns with Timeline and getting good results. The Timeline features help businesses to keep the users engaged and transparent to audiences. Market research proves that Facebook social media promotion is actually helping small and large businesses to develop long term relations with their consumers.

Facebook Timeline is an integrated platform for both the business people and consumers. I hope that this discussion will help you to jump start business promotion on Facebook timeline. If you are already doing these things, do share your experience with us below.

Good Luck!

Twitter Acquires Posterous.com – What Does it Mean for Marketers?

Twitter has acquired the development team of a well known mobile blogging company Posterous.comTwitter Acquires Posterous Twitter expressed its interest towards Posterous and announced that it’s not about the acquisition of a blogging platform for Twitter, but is also an acquisition of the ‘dedicated people and web technology’ behind Posterous.

On the other hand, Posterous.com takes this acquisition as the most valuable deal because its qualified and dedicated team of engineers will now work with the Twitter team.

Twitter Benefits With Posterous:

Twitter believes that this deal will enhance its quality of services for its users and will help itself to make its service much better. With this acquisition, users will be able to backup their content, will be able to post micro blogs, tweet them and thus, it will positively enhance Twitter business.

Benefits For Posterous:

Posterous was looking for a big brand to connect with and it cannot be denied that Twitter is the top social networking website today. Posterous, on behalf of this deal, is profoundly happy with the acquisition; more so because Twitter will absorb Posterous employees in its existing team.

Both Twitter and Posterous have ensured that their individual services will not be disturbed due to this tie-up. If they introduce any changes in their services in the future, it will be first notified to its users well in advance so that the users can easily adopt the changes. MySpace users will continue to use their accounts as they are using now.

Also, its domain partner .eNom will handle its domain management. Users will be instructed via emails about the procedure of accessing their new domain accounts.

How Twitter Acquired Posterous?

Twitter is committed towards its services and believes in nurturing talent. Following this approach, Twitter expressed its interest towards Posterous as it excels in its talent-based product creation approach. It is this level of talent that Twitter wishes to inculcate following the acquisition to enhance its own products.

Benefits for Marketers from this Acquisition:

Posterous had integrated into various Twitters activities before the acquisition. The acquisition will help users to highlight and update their Posterous accounts from Twitter and vice versa; and the MySpace posts can be seamlessly tweeted. SimplyTweet is the best example as it updates Posterous posts on Twitter.

Twitter-Posterous will enhance marketers profit to almost double. Posting and tweeting at one time with Twitter-Posterous common domain, will help marketers to promote their business products very quickly.

Marketers, especially online product marketers are eagerly waiting for Twitter-Posterous to launch their post-acquisition services.  Following are some of the benefits that online marketers are expecting:

  • Posterous post might not be limited to 140 characters. If it is so, it will help marketers to promote their business products in a more descriptive form.
  • Product detail entered by marketers on Posterous will be tweeted on the combined domain.
  • Various mobile supporting applications will be introduced to tweet Posterous posts. Business promotion via mobile will then be better accessible.
  • The domain will support photo tagging on Posterous. Marketers will be able to place their product details along with the product image on website.

Twitter is not only acquiring Posterous, it is entering into the mobile blogging and micro blogging platforms. The inclusion of Posterous will extend the functional values of mobile blogging platform. Social media and social issue-based content will be on the advantage point because of the micro blogging opportunities this acquisition will bring.

Is this an Acquisition for Talent or the End of Innovation?

Talent acquisition has become a common activity in the last few years. No doubt, if the acquisition of the talented team behind Posterous is a new innovation for Twitter, it is also a hijack of Posterous’ concept of micro blogging.

Probable Outcome of Posterous Acquisition

Following are some probable outcomes:

  • Twitter’s Acquisition Trend:

    Twitter’s penchant for acquisition has increased in the last 2 years. In the year 2012, Twitter has already added Summify and Desient in its acquisition list. Earlier the list included Summize, Cloudhopper and Mixer Labs in it. Perhaps Twitter is competing with other social networking sites to reach the top.

  • Impact Of Acquisition On Posterous:

    According to Posterous owner Mr. Sachin Agarwal, “this is the real opportunity for Posterous to bring their talent to the world and Twitter is the best platform to innovate their talents”. However, it is possible that Posterous Spaces will be directly disturbed due to the acquisition of its developer team by Twitter. It can result in moving of Posterous Space services to Twitter and thus, Posterous Space will lose its individual identity.

No doubt, this acquisition will help marketers to promote their business online on a combined platform. But, if Posterous will not be able to balance between its own services and acquisition responsibilities, it can result in shut down of Posterous Space services.

It will be interesting to see whether the innovation will increase availability of technologies or will it be a failed acquisition for talent?

What is your opinion on posterous acquisition?

What Are QR Codes and Should Marketers Use Them?

Introduced by Denso Wave in Japan and ISO standardized, Quick Response code (QR code) is a bi-dimensional bar code initially used for product identification. Today, this bar code is adopted for online marketing in various organizations. This highly used marketing tool is generated via various resources available on the Internet.

Traditional Bar codes v/s QR Codes

What Are QR CodesQuick Response code or QR code is an open standard information storage platform which allows embedding of massive information.  This information could be product information, website URL or links to vouchers embedded with the QR code.

Instead of traditional bar codes, people are now using QR codes for online marketing. This is because other bar codes are single dimensional codes capable to hold a maximum of 20 numerical digits. In contrast, bi-dimensional QR codes can store more than 7000 numeric digits and more than 4000 alpha numeric digits.

How to Create QR Codes?

Numerous websites allow generating QR codes for free.  These free tools create QR codes; allow the user to link web pages, contact details, messages or texts with codes. Additionally, some free tools also offer color customization and background format facilities to integrate in the product’s marketing strategy.

Microsoft tag is a well-known tool to generate QR codes. This tool has various symbols and shapes in multiple colors where the website URL can be added. Moreover, you can also Google for other free resources like Kerem Erkan’s tool and the TEC- IT QR codes generator.

Decrypting QR Codes:

Reading or decrypting QR codes is not really a tough job. Lots of QR codes readers and bar code scanners like SpyderLynk, SnapTag, JagTag and Red Laser help you in tracing the encrypted text or URL.

In most of the mobile devices like Smartphone, QR Codes can be easily scanned and decrypted. Whenever mobile Internet users scans a code in an ad on the webpage on mobile, the camera attached to the mobile device scans that code by using the installed bar code scanner. This takes them to the message associated with the code.

QR Codes for Internet Marketers:

QR codes can be an effective Internet marketing strategy. These codes, represented in black and white dots, can be easily seen on personal mails, posters, window storefronts, billboards and other channels.

These codes provide an indirect, but appropriate way to attract new customers without imposing on the privacy of the web user. QR codes are mostly popular as a means to deliver promotional codes, discount vouchers, free trial options and other marketing strategies.

Few examples of QR codes applications can be:

  • Business card with QR codes can be used to add content to the address list in electronic version.
  • QR codes containing SMS can be used in electronic message passing system.
  • Data encrypted facility in QR codes is highly used as a security tool for passing messages/emails amongst military departments and other defense services.
  • QR codes with configuration settings are now using by android/iPhone applications for automatic installation in devices.

Benefits of Using QR Codes:

  • Online marketers use QR codes to stay ahead of business competitors.
  • Online marketing via QR codes attracts people towards products or services without using any illegal marketing strategies like automatic page ‘likes’ through bots or creating fake Twitter followers.
  • Immediate gratification for customers in the form of instant information and product promotions.
  • It is the most suitable product campaign strategy targeting Smartphone customers with the help of QR codes scanner application in phones.

Disadvantages of Using QR Codes:

  • If the QR codes content is not flexible, it will turn into a bad marketing strategy.
  • QR codes are only effective as long as the encrypted page URL or page location remains the same.
  • Flexibility with updating webpage URL is not an effective one. Updating webpage after QR codes encryption requires the generation of new QR codes to feature the updated webpage. Hence, QR code marketing is a time consuming approach.

Using QR Codes for Business Promotion:

Product/service marketing with QR codes demands lesser effort as compared to other marketing resources. Following are the ways to use QR codes for business promotion.

  • Google has established a separate platform for QR Code. Online marketers can use it as an effective tool to promote business in accordance to SEM and SEO technologies.
  • You can use the product’s QR Code on the business website. When a visitor captures the QR code on Smartphone, the product information will be either emailed or sent in text mode.
  • If you want to start a social media campaign, encrypt the Facebook or Twitter page URL in the QR code. The QR code can then be displayed on the website along with other social media campaign avenues like forums.
  • Attaching QR Codes with flyers, business cards and brochures are also adoptive resources for online business promotion.

QR Codes are a new way to promote online businesses.  Many organizations are now promoting their business by placing video URLs, special offers, product launches and business logos by encrypting them with QR Codes.

For first time QR code marketing, you need to learn how to attract the reader’s / visitor’s attention towards the code. This can be done with some attractive lines like “Grab your discount” or “Scan code to get information”.

QR codes strategy is steadily capturing the online business promotion market than traditional marketing strategies. Beginner users of QR codes should make sure that the codes they are using should be mobile-friendly so that the targeted market can capture the codes easily and read them.

Summary

In short, the function of QR codes as a marketing strategy is a new domain. It needs more data and statistics to prove its usability. However, at the moment, online marketers have found this strategy a novel way to generate leads and business sales.

What do you think about it? Leave a comment below…

5 Tweaks in Your Online Marketing Producing the Most Change

By now, everyone has heard the story of how Target uses predictive analytics to better target their customers. So why does Target engage in predictive marketing? Is it worth their time and money?

Online Marketing SuccessAs an outsider, you can only measure their success through company growth. Understanding how much of that growth is attributable to analytical efforts is known only to those inside the company.

I have seen small changes in ad copy increase conversions by 50%. The fact is that every company has a set of marketing levers they can tweak to improve performance. Target may have the resources to become optimal, but small businesses can make use of powerful yet simple tools and tactics and still achieve higher results.

Below is a consolidation of channels and improvement guidelines where I have seen the most potential for growth.

Update Your Email Marketing

Email marketing commonly becomes a routine to the marketer. Therefore the offers and driving content usually becomes boring and repetitive.

According to this study by Exact Target, the 2nd most important reason people unsubscribe is that the content becomes repetitive.

To avoid falling under this trap, marketers should consider creating various types of offers to each of their customer segments, at different times during the relationship.

A,B,C testing all the offers, imagery and content helps you understand what works and what doesn’t so you can disregard those without much success and continue to use the most popular ones. Small changes in click-through rates can significantly increase sales and conversion rates.

Check Your Frequency

The problem of mass email is twofold. Consumers are bombarded with emails and retailers cannot capture well the consumers’ attention. Opting out of newsletters and offers has become a common practice and it is estimated that 15% of people once on your list will opt out.

According to the study cited above, the top reason is “email came too frequently.” You have data on how often people purchase and what content drives engagement.

A simple segmentation exercise based on last customer interaction, products purchased, and response history can provide insight on the ideal frequency for each customer.

Ad Placement is Key

The websites your ads appear on and page placements are the two main factors of click-through success. It’s been found that ads that appear above the fold and seven times more successful than those delivered below the fold.

Frequency turns out to be very successful. Ads shown 5 or more times to a user are 12 to 14 times more successful than ads shown less than 5 times.

I personally witnessed significant increases in click-through rates as a database marketing consultant. Simple tweaks in messaging and location improved our conversions and lowered costs. Trial and error is key in understanding what drives people to your sight.

Keyword Selection

Keyword research is more of an art than science (although everything can be measured online.) Search is becoming very specific when people look for a specific product for their needs. Many of these keywords go unnoticed by vendors. These are likely to be cheaper, drive less traffic, but provide higher conversion rates.

There are many analytical tools to measure keyword success so there is no gut feeling. If you clearly see that a keyword drives more that 85% away then one would want to adjust.

By continually adjusting, you will find the right set of keywords and messaging needed to position yourself in a stronger position than your competitors.

Content is Still King

What you put on your email newsletter, offers, website, blog, and even ads is the most important aspect of any campaign. Companies like Target cited above understand this concept very well: “The right content at the right time.”

In the article it said that Target even purposely sent offers about un-targeted products so it didn’t concern the shopper of privacy issues.

The secret to good content is adding value first. A coupon or offer can be helpful when one is in the market for a specific product and the coupon has the right price and ease of purchase.

Other times, marketers need to engage the customers by sending important and useful information. This is where you develop your customer life cycle campaign.

Content and messaging directed at increasing trust and engagement in a brand in pursue of a purchase at a later stage.

Marketing is about execution, trial and error, and value creation. Big ideas come from creative minds and having a high quality product still triumphs, but there are various levers to adjust and improve results. Continually study your online measurements, try new ideas, and be flexible to adjust.

Jaime Brugueras the CEO of Mineful – a customer retention and analysis software. Jaime writes frequently about marketing analysis, customer retention, and email marketing. He has been published in several industry publications including eCommerce Times. Follow Mineful on Twitter for industry insight and conversations.

Social Networking Making a Positive Change

In earlier days, the computers were hailed as ‘world changing technologies’ and it was hoped Social Networking that email would bring about a revolution in communication.

Some said that the Internet would eradicate any form of national boundary. All these took place and there were some partial changes, but the world did not change overnight, it only became a little bit different.

In hindsight, all these things did bring about a change but it was never that catalyst that would actually transform the face of the world.

However, it seems that social media is actually changing the world. It helps to connect people and brands, empowers consumers and brings about revolutions in countries where it is needed.

Politics Re-invented

Recent studies have found that social networking is actually encouraging young people to get involved in politics.

Twitter had good impacts on the Iran elections and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. More and more people are getting involved in politics and they feel that they can make a difference.

The Huffington Post is one of the most popular blogs on the web and is mainly political in nature. Social media is enjoying a growing influence in politics and the same sentiment was echoed by the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

News Travels Fast

People are no longer interested in passive messages. They now get news through the social network and then this news is passed onto others. By this the others understand – what we are interested in and what is important to us. You may call this gossip but this is news to users on social networking sites like Twitter, Digg and Stumbled Upon.

Marketing Flux

Marketing and advertising have embraced the power of the consumer and makes a serious attempt to engage in conversations.

Earlier these two aspects were part of the mass market channels that the industry relied on. It had a more wider reach but very repetitive. Now marketing and advertising have a smaller reach and engaged in people-centric activities. People say that advertising is dying but we believe that it is only changing form. The consumers today have more power and more choice.

Child Literacy

There is no denying the fact those children who have reading habits are usually better at reading and writing. Believe it or not, they do get motivated to read and write by participating in online blog posts and putting up status updates.

A recent survey has established a correlation between the child’s involvement in social media and his overall literacy. To put it more bluntly, social media has helped our children to become literate.

Influence on World Events

Social Media is associated with many world events. The overthrowing and subsequent removal of the dictatorship in Egypt was only possible due to Facebook groups and large scale online protests.

There have been many instances when important world events had broken out on Twitter even before it has been announced on CNN or reported by respectable papers like The New York Times.

Social Media will continue to be a driving force. As long as it is being used in the proper way, Social Networking will strive to change the way the world functions.

Margaret is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and gadgets. Beside this she is fond of books. She recently bought a gaming chairs. These days she is busy in writing an article on steam support.

80 Productivity and Marketing Tools – Part Six

Continued…Part Five

51. Name: Link Valet

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: The online Link Valet service checks the incoming and outgoing links of a blog or Productivity Marketing Toolswebsite and gives you a link analysis report. You can specify the date from which the link analysis should start and opt for either the summary report or the full report.

The report will highlight errors; server redirected links, updated links and validates the link page then and there. You can also choose to get the report emailed to multiple ids.

Use: This is a must-have tool for a webmaster to keep the site link-error free all the time.

52. Name: Pixie

[Download]

Description: Pixie is a product by Natty Ware which is a color utility tool suitable for download and use with Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7.

After you download and install the application, you need to simply hover the mouse over the color combination and it will tell you the HSV values, CMYK, HTML, RGB and the hex values.

With the values in hand, you can use the combinations to create color codes in your program.

Use: The tool is great for webmasters and designers who often have to play with colors. Webmasters can use this to experiment with website color combinations easily. Designers can use this to develop websites.

53. Name: Screen Hunter

[Download]

Description: How many times have you wanted a program that could seamlessly capture and share your desktop screenshots? After all, not many know how to take and edit screenshots in Paint or other programs.

Now you have the Screen Hunter application, a screen capture award winning solution that helps the user to capture, print and edit the screen, with additional features of auto-capture, video screen capture, webcam capture and auto-scroll web pages.

The tool is free for individual use and distribution but if you want this for business purposes, you need to buy a user license.

Use: This is good for someone who writes tutorials, reviews, and software manuals…anything that requires clear demonstration.

54. Name: Short Keys

[Download]

Description: This is not a lifetime free tool. You can download the trial version for 30 days and then buy the fully licensed version for $24.95, the current price displayed.

Anyways, what are the Short Keys? The Short Keys are a text replacement utility where you get to use custom generated short keys instead of huge blocks of text in other applications by simply using the user defined keystrokes.

Short Keys also has an intuitive feature, which is useful for people who need to type lots of documents daily. The tool saves time from repetitive typing and auto-places correct words.

Use: The tool is good for writers for reducing document errors and it is good for webmasters also to create custom generated texts through the user defined keystrokes.

55. Name: Spy Bot: Search & Destroy

[Link: Download Required after Clicking the Given Link]

Description: On the website homepage, you can see the world map and a list of languages on the right-hand sidebar. Choose your language.

The PC World and the PCMag.com finds the Spy Bot as the best privacy software available in the world. What this tool does is detect and remove spyware from your system. Spyware is a new kind of online threat whose detection and removal is not yet covered in common anti-virus detection applications.

Stealth installation of spyware is a common tactic used by unscrupulous marketers and advertisers to steal data and use them for their spurious intentions.

Use: Keeping your desktop, laptop and notebook free from spyware.

56. Name: Stock Photo Room

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: Is Google banning your website because of copied images? Or is someone suing you because you knowingly or unknowingly violated image copyrights?

Stock Photo Room is the solution as it gives you a huge selection of royalty free stock images and photography. You can use these images to add on your projects, websites and other publications.

The images are royalty free but you do have to pay as low as $1 for every photo you use. There is no criteria to buy a fixed number of photos per month; you pay as you go along using the images.

Sign up for the account free and start using them.

Use: The tool is good for content developers, editors, academic projects, and image-based websites.

57. Name: Tweet Deck

[Register and Download]

Description: If you have multiple active Twitter accounts and want to manage all of them together, use the Tweet Deck application. It has been created by Twitter; it can be used with Windows XP and its later versions as well as Mac OS X 10.6 version.

With Tweet Deck system dashboard, you can arrange the feeds, filter the useful information, schedule tweets, manage unlimited accounts and stay up to date with notification alerts for new tweets.

Use: The Tweet Deck is particularly useful for online marketers who depend on Twitter for business leads and sales.

58. Name: Twiends

[Register]

Description: Twiends is a “directory” for Twitters. After signing up, you need to link the active twitter accounts, choose the country of origin, choose your interests and you are done!

The Twiends tool is good for those who would like to increase their Twitter followers.

Use: With more than 3000 people signing up on Twiends, you can sign up too if you wish to increase your network of Twitter followers and use them to generate sales.

59. Name: Velocity Webshots

[Register: No Downloads Necessary]

Description: The Velocity Webshots tool generates real time data of any website address in the form of an image. As the overview on the site proudly claims, it “is the only web service of its kind that can handle real-time previewing.”

With this tool, you can generate a visual stimulation of your website services or products, which helps you to retain user base and generate leads. You can also use Velocity Quick Shot and Webshots API to store self created Webshots.

Use: Internet marketers, directory service providers, bloggers, news sites, programmers, product review sites, WHOIS services and many more can use the Velocity Webshots tool.

60. Name: Video LAN

[Download]

Description: The Video LAN product – VLC Media Players – is a free and powerful tool to play files, DVDs, CDs, VCD, Blu-Ray, live streams and webcams as well. Its open source cross-platform multimedia player runs most codec without any necessity for ad-on codec packs.

It does not contain any spyware and works on platforms such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, and others. When you visit the download link, scroll to the bottom and select the VLC for a particular system.

Use: The VLC media player is for both personal and professional use.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 Coming Soon…

80 Productivity and Marketing Tools – Part Five

Continued…Part Four

41. Name: SEM Rush

[Register: No Download Necessary]

Description: Forbes, Wells Fargo, Philips, PayPal and Hyatt are some of the well known clients of SEM Rush. It is not just another keyword research and analysis tool. It has quickly become THE best Marketing and Productivity Toolsresearch site for analyzing site keywords, analyzing competitor keywords, knowing what kind of Ad buyers to approach, getting estimated SE and AdWords traffic, finding hidden keywords, and many more features.

To try it out, just type in your URL or any keyword and see it work. You can create a free account also or buy the pro membership for $70 per month.

Use: SEM Rush is a must-have tool for online marketers and webmasters. Their intuitive reports help a lot to make a site better.

42. Name: RoboForm

[Download]

Description: RoboForm is a program to store and retrieve passwords to as many sites you are a member of, without worrying whether the passwords will remain safe or not.

RoboForm syncs all the login information safely so you can quickly access bookmarked or favorite sites. Moreover, you can save lots of time in typing basic information like name, number and addresses when you register on a new site. The RoboForm Password Manager stores the personal information seamlessly and saves YOUR time.

The RoboForm program is accessible from a laptop, notebook, desktop and mobile devices. It is suitable for IE, Firefox, Mac and Chrome browsers. In mobile, RoboForm works with iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian.

Use: Anyone who uses a lot of Internet daily will find this tool very useful. It takes away the headache to remember each and every password.

43. Name: PHP Resource Index

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: If you wish to add any kind of PHP scripts on your site, the PHP Resource Index is the best place to be. It also offers web hosting for the PHP programs created by you.

You can access more than 4000 complete PHP scripts, more than 300 functions and classes codes and use their community board to fund jobs and developer sites. They also have a resource of more than 400 informative books and complete tutorials about PHP programming.

Use: PHP Developers or people who want to learn the PHP system will find this resource very useful.

44. Name: PHP

[Download]

Description: Similar to the PHP Resource Index mentioned above, the PHP site is another wonderful resource of PHP program guides and tutorials. The PHP is suitable for web development and can be embedded into HTML.

The site also gives updated information about upcoming conferences on PHP and paper presentations.

Use: The resource is useful for both new and experienced PHP enthusiasts.

45. Name: PDF to Word Converter

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: The PDF to Word converter is Nitro’s leading technology to get editable MS Word documents from PDF files. As they mention, the files should not be illegal to use.

Either you can just upload and convert a PDF file online or you can sign up for their PRO account which gives you a 14-day trial. With a membership account, you can convert bulk files easily and protect private information. The conversion file will be same as the PDF one, retaining all kinds of formatting and content used.

Use: Anyone who deals with lots of documents. For editors, this is good as they can edit easily on Word rather than PDF files.

46. Name: PDF995

[Download]

Description: PDF995 offers a complete set of tools that caters to document publishing needs. You can create professional quality PDF documents with its easy-to-use interface by clicking on the “print” command from any application which supports PDF viewer.

You can also have shared printing, network file saving, custom page size selection, large format printing, and terminal server facility on your account.

The free version will display a sponsor page every time the program is run. If you want to avoid the sponsor page, you can buy a license for $9.95.

Use: Marketers, editors, writers can use this amazing tool to create online publishable documents. This is also good for small organizations also where there is a large pool of writers and editors who need to access the same documents at the same time.

47. Name: Free Mind

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: It is a free mind mapping software that creates a flow chart of how you conceptualize things. It uses a Java applet with around 700 KB memory. It is a productive tool for analyzing stages or phases of a project or laying out a project plan.

Use: If you are a student, project manager, running a small business or any other work that requires accurate planning, the Free Mind tool is for you.

48. Name: FileZilla Project

[Download]

Description: FileZilla is your free FTP solution where both client and server are available. The FileZilla is an open source software which is distributed free of charge under the GNU General Public License terms.

Use: Anyone who deals with website development and programming has use with the FileZilla project.

49. Name: Cam Studio

[Download]

Description: It is free video streaming software that records audio and screen activity happening on your PC to give you professionally created AVI files. Its built-in SWF software will turn the AVI recordings into Streaming Flash Videos that do not consume much bandwidth.

The Cam Studio can be downloaded and installed easily. Use is to create software tutorials, FAQ, instruction manuals or study materials.

There are a lot of other features like controlling voice quality, high resolution images of small files, ability to choose custom cursors, and able to burn it in CD or DVD.

Use: If you run a website/blog, use the Cam Studio tool to create tutorials. If you are a trainer, use it to give online training classes. If you are a project manager/associate, use the tool to develop and share information.

50. Name: CGI Resource Index

[Link: No Download Necessary]

Description: In the CGI Resource Index, you can find web hosting for your CGI programs. If you have created a CGI program, you can host it remotely. For learners, there are more than 100 resource guides, tutorials and documentation available on CGI programming.

You can also find CGI jobs or hire freelance CGI programmers to solve your issues.

Use: The resource is useful for both new and experienced CGI enthusiasts. 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 Coming Soon…