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Entrepreneurs Marketing Tech

How AI is Transforming Online Marketing

ai online marketing

AI is swiftly working its way into many facets of our everyday lives. With more and more companies using AI, it isn’t an exaggeration to say AI might bring the next industrial revolution. It has already started making large strides in areas such as customer service, but what can it do for online advertising?

It’s Revolutionizing Email Marketing

Email marketing is a mainstay of the digital marketing world. It’s easy to see why when you realize over 300 billion emails are sent each day. It’s no wonder advertisers want to get a cut of the pie. Thankfully, Artificial Intelligence is there to help with some of the more laborious tasks in email marketing.

Personalization

Writing dozens of different emails for your customers individually can only work for a small, locally-owned business. If you’re a larger enterprise, you’ll eventually have to resort to sending out emails at scale to get the word out.

AI can help you with this. It’s no secret that people are different, and what might make one person open an email the moment it hits their inbox, another may not even take a second look. AI algorithms can analyze how your recipient reacts to different subject lines and opening lines and personalize these so that they’re far more likely to open them.

Sending email goes far beyond basic salesman tactics, such as using your customer’s name. AI can incorporate a person’s whole field of interest, as well as mutual contacts, in order to extrapolate what type of content appeals to them. This will, in turn, help you boost your click-through rates through the roof.

Personalized emails perform far better than their non-personalized counterparts. In fact, some case studies have reported an increase in generated revenue of up to 171%!

Another benefit of AI is that it can find the time that your customer is most likely to open an email. They might be much more likely to open an email coming at 10 AM on a Wednesday than one coming at the end of their weekly Netflix binge. AI algorithms can help identify these individual preferences at a large scale.

AI doesn’t just help with email marketing personalization – it can help with personalization on the outreach side of things, too! AI algorithms can help sales and PR teams determine the most effective points of personalization to use when sending a follow-up email, for example.

Practicality

While we humans pride ourselves on being adaptable, we cannot notice the small changes that an AI will. This, in turn, helps you optimize your email campaign towards your customer’s changing needs. What you’re trying one week might not work by the next.

One of the biggest benefits of AI, however, is how well it can see our errors. People are quite prone to handwaving errors and ascribing them to factors that they are not in control of. Luckily, AI does no such thing. Instead, it’ll let you know the weaknesses of your campaign with the brutal honesty a person wouldn’t be able to muster up. AI grammar checkers, for example, can help you identify spelling, grammar, and even syntax issues in your email copy.

Finally, using AI can be significantly cheaper in the long run than using people. The benefits of hiring a machine learning services company far outweigh the costs. While the marketers themselves will always serve a crucial role in marketing, AI can save you dozens of laborious hours. Not only will you make more money, but your workers will also thank you.

It’s Helping Target Customers with Social Media Ads

Social media is the latest large frontier in advertising. Ever since Facebook has skyrocketed in popularity, corporations have been looking for ways to use social media for advertising purposes. AI helps with this and can even help a business isolate its target audience more precisely.

Maintaining Consistent Quality Across Platforms

It’s no secret that there are many more platforms where you can advertise in order to garner attention. It’s no longer enough to simply purchase a TV ad and be done with it. Today, consumers require multiple touchpoints before they turn into buyers. If you aren’t on a variety of social networks, in addition to TV and popular streaming services – your ads may not be as effective.

Your brand needs to have its message delivered through a variety of different channels. This can be hard to manage consistently if you’re making every campaign by hand. Usually, you’ll get a few very similar campaigns that will be somewhat engaging to most of your audience.

Rather than settling for somewhat engaging, today, you’ll need to impress your customers if you want their business. This can easily be done by using AI to help subtly guide your campaigns towards your target audience. For example, Hulu has a largely older audience in comparison to TikTok. With TikTok having a primarily adolescent-teenage population and Hulu favoring older audiences, you’ll need to take two drastically different approaches.

Localization

Even as a medium to small corporation, you’ve definitely faced issues when localizing your ad campaigns. It can be hard to really know what the locals of your area want by simply doing a handful of manual surveys.

By incorporating AI, you can automate a good chunk of this process. Something especially surprising is how good AI is at optimizing a CTA to the geographical location of your choice. Since the call to action is one of the most important parts of an ad, this can lead to a massive increase in sales.

If you’re branching out to a new area, that makes localization all the more important. This is especially true if you’re expanding to an area where you’ve already got competitors. If you misjudge the cultural norms of the area, you might find yourself with a failure on your hands. AI is spectacular at detecting these nuances, and even smaller corporations can benefit from this these days.

Social Media Ad Copy

Despite the technology being fairly new, AI has been getting more and more use as a method of creating social media ad copy. Companies are using it to create copy, which is later simply edited by marketers, with some daring to hand over the whole process to the AI. Here are some advantages AI can offer in creating social media copy:

  • Speed – AI is much faster than people. It can take historical data about your customer’s behavior and come up with what you should post next by the time a writer has written the outline.
  • Time – If you’ve got writers that can do better than the AI in terms of copy quality, this doesn’t mean it’s useless. It can provide you with valuable data that your authors can use to craft the perfect ad.
  • Detect trends – AI can help you predict trends ahead of time, as well as detect subtle changes in customer behavior. This will help you better understand your target audience and improve the equity of your brand.
  • Frequency and theme – AI can check out your past posts and the posts of other companies in your niche and analyze them in order to determine what posting times and subjects are proving most effective at the time.

Product descriptions fall into a similar pattern. They will also be written faster and more effectively with AI than they will with a human author. Another benefit of AI in this area is that AI is able to update its listings at a moment’s notice.

If it notices that your customers are fans of something, it’ll make an effort to make that stick out more in the description immediately. Furthermore, this can be combined with localization to make custom region-specific descriptions.

Measuring Performance

Another use for AI which saves manpower is measuring performance. Manually calculating things like engagement rates are a death sentence for progress. Instead, you could have AI look through almost every facet of how your ads performed.

Not only can you track user engagement flawlessly, but you can also compare and contrast your ad’s performances amongst target groups and even different forms of social media. With that being said, this isn’t to be used recklessly.

With AI that’s sufficiently advanced, you can even determine which parts of your ad copy your users dwell upon the most and which goes by barely detected. This will let you put out more polished adverts with haste.

As always, it’s a good idea to have the AI’s performance monitored by a human every now and again. For example, Amazon has had a famous incident where its AI was extremely biased towards male candidates.

One example of how AI is helping with performance-based marketing is with Facebook. Facebook’s ad platform uses the performance of your ad to determine which users should see the ad. By leveraging multiple data points quickly, Facebook is able to put your ad in front of the users who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

Improving The Customer Experience

There are a lot of ways to gain new customers; however, none of them are quite as infallible as providing an amazing customer experience to influence word of mouth. Companies have been trying to outdo each other in customer service since the dawn of modern capitalism. Today, AI is the next technology you’ll need to incorporate in order to ensure your customers get the best experience possible.

AI Chatbots

The customer service industry is one of the ones that have benefited the most from the inclusion of AI. If a customer has an issue with a product, or they’re having issues navigating your website, they’ll want to talk to someone to have it explained for them.

Now, these can be full-time employees who are paid for all of the manpower in answering the questions that your customers may have. On the other hand, you could have AI handle that (like an AI bot) while your employees are given tasks that are harder to automate.

This change is already in full swing. If you’ve seen a “Talk to one of our representatives� button on any sites you’ve visited recently, the chances are that’s a chatbot right there. With that being said, that isn’t a bad thing; chatbots are generally clear in writing and are sometimes more helpful than actual workers.

This isn’t to say that you should fire any customer service employees on the spot. No! Rather than letting these valued employees go, it is best to delegate them to other tasks, with customer support being done by people exclusively in the cases where the AI doesn’t rise to the occasion.

Predictive Marketing

Imagine being a vacuum cleaner salesperson in the ‘70s. When would the ideal time be to knock on someone’s door to sell them a vacuum cleaner? When their old one just broke.

Unfortunately, for a vacuum cleaner salesperson in the ‘70s, there was no way to know when exactly that was. Today, AI can predict most of a customer’s purchasing desires and decisions. Because of this, it is one of the most important tools to get started with.

Customers don’t want to be bombarded with ads for things they don’t currently need or care about. Because of this, any customers you advertise to that simply have no need for your product or service are nothing but wasted capital.

By using AI that puts large amounts of data together in order to better understand consumer behavior, you can ensure that the customer is going to be interested in your product.

For example, let’s say that customer A has been searching for vacuum cleaner bags, vacuum cleaner pipes, as well as vacuum cleaner alternatives. Customer B has been searching how to use Vacuum Cleaner X. The AI will be able to determine that Customer A’s current vacuum cleaner is broken, and Customer B has possibly just purchased a new vacuum cleaner. With this information, it will show Customer A an ad for your company.

This is extremely common in large corporations such as Google or Amazon. However, it’s slowly becoming more affordable for small and medium-sized businesses.

Improving Your UI

The UI (User Interface) is what your customers interact with your website or mobile app through. Having a seamless interface is crucial in making conversions because customers won’t stay on a site that’s not easy to use.

Thankfully, instead of hiring dozens of UI testers and running constant surveys among your target group, you can have AI do the testing for you. The AI has the intuitiveness of a person but is able to identify issues more quickly so that you can make changes to the UI more easily.

It looks through a variety of things, such as:

  • Where the user is when they load up the site
  • How long they stay on the website
  • The site’s bounce rate
  • The user flow
  • How many products each user views before leaving the site

These metrics can be measured by an AI at a large scale to help you make more informed decisions quickly.

Conclusion

While AI certainly has a long way to go, it’s has made massive strides in its development lately.

AI is not perfect, and there’s still a long way to go in terms of improving it. However, your business could definitely benefit from making use of AI in your next marketing campaign to improve conversions, targeting, and user experience metrics.

Image Credit: jose francisco fernandez saura; pexels

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Entrepreneurs Startups

Will Startup Culture Get Stronger or Weaker From Here?

For the past couple of decades, the United States and countries around the world have felt something akin to startup fever. Millions of young and inexperienced entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an innovative new business of their own. Millions of savvy and new investors are eager to cash in on the next Google or Apple. And culturally, we’re all fascinated to hear stories about underdogs that become tech unicorns and innovative geniuses who come up with world-changing ideas.

This startup culture has led to ingenious developments, widespread economic growth, and accessible new technologies for millions of other businesses. But what are the future prospects of this trend? Will startup culture grow even stronger from here? Or are we in a bubble that’s about to burst? 

Factors for Startup Culture

Let’s start by looking at the factors responsible for the development of this hot startup culture. 

  • Explosive potential. One of the obvious points of interest here is the potential for explosive growth that each startup offers. Today’s tech giants, which have become household names worth billions, or even a trillion dollars, started in a garage with just a handful of people. Investors are thrilled at the idea of buying shares of a tech startup for $5,000 and turning that into $500,000 in less than a decade. This doesn’t happen often, but it happens enough that people are hungry to find promising young startups and watch them grow. 
  • Underdog stories. We all love underdog stories, and many startups embody this idea. An entrepreneur with a cool idea and a few thousand dollars changes the world with their creative new app and ends up becoming a multi-millionaire. It’s a great story, and one we’ve seen unfold many times over. It makes us more likely to support people trying to achieve this dream and makes us think about trying to achieve it for ourselves. 
  • Accessibility. It’s hard to argue that it’s “easyâ€� to launch a tech startup, but it’s certainly a more accessible opportunity for entrepreneurs than they’ve had in the past. This is especially true now that remote work is becoming more popular, and tech companies don’t have to invest much money into real estate or infrastructure. Anyone with a promising idea has the potential to create a startup all of their own – and even if they don’t, they can fantasize about the possibilities. This draws us further into the admiration of startups and entrepreneurs. 
  • Novel technologies. Our culture loves novel technologies and it’s easy to see why. When a fancy new app allows you to save an hour a day on manual tasks, or when you can share memes with your friends in some completely innovative way, it improves your quality of life. On a less sexy level, new technologies also improve workplace efficiency, helping countless entrepreneurs in other industries create more jobs and increase productivity. We love to see new businesses bring these technologies to light. 
  • Freedom and flexibility. Startups are representative of freedom in some ways. These companies spring forth from the imaginations of people who want to change the world – and often want to create their own work cultures and environments. Most people highly value flexibility and autonomy, and startups embody this. 
  • Challenging the status quo. We can also see startups as challenging the status quo. New startups often introduce agility into stagnant industries, forcing long-established juggernauts to change or become obsolete. This novelty breathes new life into the market and helps us see things in a new light. 

Is There Any Pushback? 

So are there any factors working against the propagation of startup culture? 

The answer is a resounding “yes.� 

  • Anti-monopolistic and anti-capitalistic sentiments. We’re beginning to distrust tech companies and be more skeptical of entrepreneurs. In recent years, there’s been some degree of backlash against powerful companies, wealthy individuals, and industries dominated by a handful of superstars – even if those superstars created the entire industry from scratch. Anti-monopolistic and anti-capitalistic sentiments put a damper on the thrill of tech startups for many. 
  • CEO distrust. We’re also seeing a wave of distrust surrounding major tech corporations – and by extension, nimble tech startups. Platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have been susceptible to misinformation from fake news and nefarious sources. Many social media users are increasingly concerned with privacy. And millions of consumers look at new “freeâ€� platforms with skepticism, knowing that nothing is truly free. This hasn’t deterred any new startups from emerging yet, but if this trend accelerates, it could create a more hostile environment. 
  • Economic valuation issues. Investors are excited about new tech startups, but they might be a little too excited. Over the past decade, we’ve seen crazy new heights in the stock prices of promising tech companies. Price to earning (PE) ratios have skyrocketed, and many investors fear the forthcoming consequences of a practical economic bubble. 
  • Funding accessibility. Venture capitalists and angel investors are more than willing to stake their money on new startups – but not just any startup. Over time, investor funds have been concentrated more heavily into only the most encouraging ideas. This is a logical and understandable move, but it’s made it harder to enter into the space. 
  • Employment issues. Solid leadership can make any work environment tolerable, but many employees are reluctant to work for a young tech startup. Startups typically offer low pay (due to limited funding), while maintaining a very demanding work culture, and being relatively unstable. This makes it hard for new startups to create new jobs and attract new employees. 
  • Failure rates. We tend to glamorize the most successful startups that have arisen in the tech industry, but the failures are much less visible. The truth is, the majority of startups fail within just a few years of being started. Many of those entrepreneurs go on to start other businesses, eventually finding success, but the high rate of failure may eventually become more visible – and develop into a turnoff that weakens the influence of startup culture. 
  • Other types of businesses. Startup entrepreneurship is economically powerful, but it’s not the only way to pursue business management or entrepreneurship. There are plenty of other available routes, including buying an existing business, flipping businesses, starting a franchise and other options. We work with dozens of marketing business owners who simply white label our link building services, reselling them to their own business owner clients. It’s a hands-off approach with a great ROI for those with existing connections. 

The Case for Stronger Startup Culture

So is it possible that startup culture could continue growing stronger in the coming years? 

Most of the factors leading to the development and growth of startup culture are still here – and are in no danger of weakening anytime soon. New technologies are still exciting to the masses, investors are still thrilled at the idea of making money, and there’s no shortage of great ideas still to come. Ballooning stock prices tell us there’s no startup fatigue setting in, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made startup entrepreneurship more attractive (due to remote work opportunities and limited potential for other types of businesses). 

The Case for Weaker Startup Culture

That said, we could be in store for a reversal of momentum. Anti-monopolistic, anti-capitalistic, and privacy-conscious voices are seemingly growing stronger, pushing for stricter regulations and the dismantling of economic structures that currently support tech startups. If the entrepreneurial landscape becomes more hostile to up-and-coming young business owners, we may see lower rates of new business creation. Still, it would likely take many years, if not decades, for our collective fascination with startups to fade away. 

No matter how you look at it, the strong startup culture in the United States seems poised to stay. There are threats that stand in the way of its utter domination, and there’s always the possibility of a mini-economic crash fueled by overinflated stock prices, but the fundamental factors that support our love of startups remain strong. It’s going to remain a good time to start a tech business at least for the foreseeable future. 

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Entrepreneurs

How Entrepreneurship Became Democratized (and Where It Goes From Here)

Over the past 20 or 30 years, entrepreneurship has become democratized—and that’s a great thing, for the most part. But if we’re to better understand the tenets of entrepreneurial democratization and keep pushing for positive changes, we need to delve deeper into this topic. 

What exactly is entrepreneurial democratization? How did it develop? And where can it go from here? 

What Is Entrepreneurial Democratization? 

Let’s start with the term entrepreneurial democratization. Democracy is a system of government we’re all familiar with—one in which every individual has a say. But democratization in this context refers to accessibility; in other words, how easy is it for a person to engage in this activity? 

Democratized entrepreneurship means it’s easy for people to start businesses of their own, regardless of their background, their current income level, their previous knowledge and experience, and other factors. Over the years, this has increased sharply; today, almost anyone can start a business with minimal hurdles, depending on the model they choose. 

Why Is Entrepreneurial Democratization Important? 

Why is this an important topic? Democratized entrepreneurship offers a lot of advantages. For individuals, it means more freedom and flexibility when it comes to starting businesses. If you’re down on your luck, unemployed with no savings, you still have a chance to make something of yourself by creating a business from scratch. If you’ve spent 30 years building a career in one specific niche, you can still pivot and try to start something new. 

It’s also important from a societal, economic, and cultural perspective. More accessible entrepreneurship means more people are going to be interested in starting businesses. New businesses lead to further technological innovation, more job creation, and profound economic growth in surrounding areas. 

So what is it that spurred this great age of democratized entrepreneurship? 

Website Builders and the Information Age

First, we need to acknowledge the role of the internet and all the marvelous tools that have come along with it. These days, it’s easy to build a website thanks to the prevalence of website builders. Using one of these innovative tools, you can design your website for free using basic templates—even if you have no previous coding or design knowledge and no money to pay a professional for help. 

It’s also enormously beneficial to be able to consult the entirety of the internet when researching your business plan and making plans for the future. With a simple Google search, you can instantly see who your competition is, learn more about your target demographics, and even find a business plan template that you can use as a starting point for your work. 

Marketing Tactics and Outreach

The internet has also changed the landscape of marketing and advertising. These days, digital marketing reigns supreme. With even a small budget, an entrepreneur can easily invest in a strategy that has the power to propel their business to competitive dominance. You can focus on writing and popularizing online content and optimize your site for search engines, practicing search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher and earn more organic traffic. You can leverage the power of social media platforms, where it’s free to create an account and make new posts. You can also tap into pay per click (PPC) ads to drive guaranteed traffic to your site for a fixed fee per visitor. 

The diversity of marketing options, the low costs, and the low barriers to entry here make it easier than ever to support a growing business.  

Entrepreneurial Interest 

We’re also seeing a new wave of entrepreneurial interest. People have always been interested in starting their own businesses, whether they want to make a lot of money or just have more flexibility in their daily schedule. But we’re seeing a massive resurgence of entrepreneurial interest that has created an environment that’s even more favorable to launching a new business. 

For example, there are dozens of entrepreneurial podcasts to listen to. There are probably countless meetup groups and organizations in your city. There are hundreds of channels where you can find mentorship, peer support, and guidance. No matter where you look, you’ll be able to find encouragement when starting a new business. 

Education 

These days, it’s possible to start a business with minimal education. You don’t need a formal background in business. You don’t need a master’s degree. All you need is a great idea, a solid understanding of business financials, and the confidence to make a compelling presentation to the people who might fund or support your business. 

Loans and Financial Accessibility

This is also an era of unprecedented financial accessibility for entrepreneurs. For starters, we should acknowledge that it’s cheaper to start a business than it’s ever been before. You don’t need a physical retail space; you can sell online. You don’t need a factory to produce goods; you can sell digital services. You don’t even need an office space; you can operate remotely. And you can call upon countless online tools and educational resources to get almost everything you need for free. 

If you do need more money to start a business, it’s relatively easy to get it. Business loans have lax requirements and low interest rates, and active angel investors and VCs are always looking for the next hot startup. 

The Spark of Innovation 

Modern innovation looks different than innovation of the past. To truly innovate 30 years ago, you might have needed to invest millions of dollars into a factory, utilizing some relatively unknown chemical process to make new materials. These days, you can innovate just by writing a new piece of software. 

It’s possible for a single individual to innovate and make technological progress, even with limited experience. A single app can change the world. 

Incubators and Accelerators

Have you noticed any new incubators or accelerators in your city? I’m guessing you have. These organizations are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed, giving them mentorship, direction, advice, and sometimes even funding to make their business plan a reality. And they’re becoming much more popular. Knowing that such an organization exists might be enough to push someone over the edge, encouraging them to pursue entrepreneurship. Getting involved with an accelerator or incubator can also greatly increase your chances of success and give you a chance to help other entrepreneurs like you along the way. 

Software Tools

In addition, the software tools (and the comparison sites that promote them) for small business are extensive, making it easy to find something that fits a need. Today’s entrepreneurs have a multiplicity of tools that are table stakes for managing a small business (e.g. CRM, marketing, finance, etc.). But sometimes overwhelming to make a decision due to analysis paralysis. Luckily, other entrepreneurs can help provide the reviews and feedback to help for quick decision making, which is one of the biggest boon for small business owners. Most entrepreneurs make decisions based on recommendations.

What’s Next? 

Where does it go from here? If we’re lucky, entrepreneurship should become even more democratized. This trend has built a lot of momentum over the years, and it’s likely to accelerate even further. These are just some of the developments that could help it flourish: 

  • Democratized ownership. One key avenue of development could be democratized ownership. Right now, if you want a piece of a company, you’ll have to put in assets of your own as a venture capitalist, angel investor, or similar interested party. Otherwise, you might have access to stock options as an employee if the company eventually goes public. But in the near future, we could see a model that incorporates the blockchain and tokenization to grant employees and partners even more access. 
  • Diversified VC portfolios. Modern venture capitalists are hungry for tech unicorns, and they tend to be fixated on certain types of business models. In the future, we could substantially benefit form an environment with more diversified and distributed portfolios. 
  • New funding models. We could also see the development of new funding models entirely. Equity crowdfunding is already possible (even though you’ll have to jump through some hoops to make it happen), so we could easily see development along these lines in the future. 

Hopefully, we’ll continue to see entrepreneurship become further democratized. With more people starting businesses, more people investing in businesses, and more people interested in entrepreneurship in general, we could see marked economic benefits for decades to come. 

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Customer Service Email Campaign email marketing Entrepreneurs Marketing marketing campaign Startups video email

How To Use Video to Power-Up Your Email Campaigns

video email campaign

Email marketing has resurfaced as one of the most effective ways to reach audiences. While many companies spend entire budgets trying to improve their social media presence and get heard above the noise, email campaigns offer a more personalized and direct approach, even when it comes to new audiences.

That being said, nobody likes spam. The current rise of newsletters as an informative and entertainment medium has proven that audiences are drawn to receiving content that’s not just interested in selling or promoting something.

And here is where the video comes in.

By pairing your email campaign with a video marketing strategy, you’re getting the best of both worlds by delivering valuable and engaging content straight to your customer’s mailbox.

In this piece, I’m going to guide you through the necessary steps you need to take to boost your email campaigns with video. We’ll see how to choose the right type of video for your newsletters, what are some of the best tips and tricks used by the pros, and much more.

But first…

Why Video?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

As you probably know, time is one of the most precious goods of the digital landscape. And video is the most efficient form of communication, cramming large amounts of information into just a few seconds of animation.

Plus, video is the king of engagement. You see it everywhere, from binge-able content and video tutorials to the recent popularity of streaming platforms such as Twitch and Tik Tok. Video is the preferred format of content for all kinds of audiences.

Marketers have been using the virtues of video content on their email campaigns for a while now, and the results speak for themselves:

Choosing the Right Type of Video for Your Message

There’s at least one type of video for each of your marketing needs. So, you should start by determining your campaign‘s main goal and then work with a production team to create a piece designed to achieve it.

Here are some of the most effective type of videos for your email campaign:

New Product or Service Reveal

Newsletters are a way of showing your subscribers what you’ve been up to, and there’s no better news to share with them than the launch of a brand-new product or service. This comes in the form of a product video or demo that showcases your creation’s most important features and characteristics.

A great idea is to include your subscribers in the pre-launch phase of your campaign. That way, they get an exclusive treat before anyone else. This tactic can be especially useful for small businesses that are looking to build a loyal customer base and for brands that want to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.

Explainer Videos

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned how audiences demand valuable content from the brands they follow, and no other type of video is more helpful than the explainer video. Just as the product video centers around the features of your product, the explainer video focuses on the benefits of your product and how it can better the lives of your customers.

Explainers are short animated pieces that usually don’t go over the 90-second mark. But suppose you need a long-form video that guides users through a lengthy process. In that case, you might want to consider making a series of tutorials or how-to videos that give specific and clear instructions on how to install your product or use it properly.

Customer Stories

Many marketers make the mistake of talking way too much. But isn’t it more effective to let your happy customers do the promoting for you? Customer stories are honest and heartful testimonials from the people you’ve helped along the way. And what better way to deliver these powerful stories than directly to your leads’ inboxes?

Customer stories are at adding a real human face to your brand, humanizing your company, and making your customers trust you more. After all, people trust other people, as simple as that. Make sure your testimonial feels as honest as possible.

Event Invites

Promoting events through email just makes sense: it’s like delivering an invitation right to someone’s mailbox. And what better way to get your audience excited than with a stunning video.

Your vid doesn’t need to be lengthy; just an intriguing animation with your event’s date and location will do most of the time. If it’s a regular sort of event, you can also create a recap of last year’s edition to attract those on-the-fence attendees.

The Three Golden Rules for Using Video on Your Email Campaign

Like with any other marketing strategy, there are plenty of ways to approach using videos on your emails to great effect. However, that’s not the same to say that some practices and principles don’t tend to outperform others!

Here are some we recommend following.

1) Don’t Embed Video on Your Email

One of the most common first-timer mistakes is to think you should embed your video on your email, just like you do on your landing page. But if you’re subscribed to a couple of newsletters, you’ll notice that most of them rather use a thumbnail linked to the video hosted online. This is because many email clients often don’t support the technical requirements needed to play a video right inside the email.

But if you think this is a limitation, then turn that frown upside down. Think about it: instead of making your audience watch a video within the email itself, you can direct them to a landing page where they can watch the video and visit your online store next (or any other specific action).

2) An Attractive Thumbnail Can Make the Difference

Using a thumbnail is the most practical form of ensuring your subscribers will watch your video regardless of the device or email platform they use. So, it’s time to design an attractive thumbnail that intrigues your audience! There are a couple of ways to do this:

· Use a static picture with a play button

This is the easiest way. You can simply use a screencap of your video and insert a play button right at the center of the picture so that your audience knows it’s linked to a video.

· Use a short GIF of your video

GIFs are the closest thing next to actually uploading your video, giving the illusion of video but with the key difference that they are well-supported across email clients. And even though some platforms like Outlook 2013 and Windows 10 don’t play GIFs, they’ll show the first frame of your GIF as a static image.

Extra pro tip: Keep your thumbnail below 200KB, or below 1MB if you’re using GIFs. There’s a chance your email will be identified as spam if it contains heavy attachments.

3) Place Your Video Below the Copy

Before embedding your thumbnail, make sure you write a brief introduction. It doesn’t need to be too long, just a few words to introduce your piece. Formatting is super important in emails. A message with just a picture will look like spam.

Conclusions

The global lockdown has made many companies rethink the way they connect with their audience. Now more than ever, audiences demand valuable content from the brands they support, and an email campaign that uses video can do that.

The pandemic has also taught us how unforeseeable the future is and how things can change from one second to the next.  While this article provides a comprehensive guide, it’s up to you to start figuring out what your own audience likes and dislikes, and what type of emails and videos are going to strengthen that bond. I wish you the bests of luck.

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7 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business

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Starting your own business can be an exciting endeavor. As a small business owner, you’re free to make your own decisions, guide the company in the direction you see fit, and benefit from complete creative freedom.

Despite the myriad of positive benefits, starting a company isn’t a decision you should be taking lightly. With that in mind, here are seven important things you should consider before starting your own business:

Can You Solve a Problem?

Far too often, prospective business owners are so excited about their idea that they throw themselves (and their money) into making it happen. But one of the first things you need to consider is whether your business idea actually solves a problem. Why do customers or clients need your service or product? Can they get it elsewhere? What is your value proposition (as in, what makes you more valuable than your competitors)? These are all questions you should consider before you jump into entrepreneurship.

Start Small

It’s always a good idea to test the market before you invest too much of your personal money and start searching for loans. For example, if you’ve created a line of custom frames, why not try selling on a platform like Etsy before you open a brick and mortar shop or create your own ecommerce store?

Starting small lets you get a better idea of what it takes to run a business. It also makes it easy for you to work out the kinks before you become an official, legal business entity.

The basic idea is getting a feel for what you enjoy and what you aren’t willing to do as a business. For instance, if you invested $10,000, you might find that you don’t enjoy being an entrepreneur or that you want to pivot your business but don’t know how to reverse your initial investment. Think of starting small as an insurance policy against potential pitfalls.

Business Name

It might seem like a simple tip but creating a business name is much harder than you think. Most people don’t realize it until they start to brainstorm their business name and have taken the first step towards becoming a serious business owner. The fact is, your business name stays with you forever and sets the tone for your brand. If you’re starting your own business and having trouble coming up with a catchy name that isn’t already taken, try using a business name generator for hundreds of potential ideas.

When choosing business names, try to stay away from names that are difficult to spell. You also want to avoid names that could limit business growth in the future. For instance, if you want to sell cruelty-free lipstick, you might not want to have a brand name that insinuates you only sell lipstick if you plan to expand your product line in the future.

Set SMART Goals

The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your business goals should all be SMART. For example, let’s say you’ve created a website and want to generate more leads for your landing page. In this situation “generate more leads� is a specific goal. You can choose to measure with a time-bound goal by saying, “I want to grow leads from our landing page by 20% this quarter.� To make it attainable, be sure your goal isn’t a far cry from what you’re already achieving. And just like that, you’ve created a SMART goal.

Search for a Mentor

Some of the most well-known business owners had mentors. Did you know Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Apple founder Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs also had a mentor named Bill Campbell. Mentors are there to offer guidance as you navigate the treacherous waters of starting your own business. They’ll give you honest feedback because they care about the success and growth of you and your startup. You can find mentors on platforms like Facebook or SCORE.

There’s No Fast Lane to Cash

No matter how great your business plan is, there is no fast way to get money. If you think you can get rich quickly, chances are you’ll fail. As it stands, the statistics are stacked against you; half of all new businesses fail within five years. If you’re in it for the money, not only will you be disappointed, but you’ll also lose momentum.

To start a business, you need to be passionate about your work as well as potential customers. Passion and hard work are what keep you moving during the tough early days of low to no revenue.

Create a Financial Plan

It goes without saying, you need money to make money. When you’re starting your own business, create a business model that doesn’t put too much burden on your financial resources. After all, as previously mentioned, the goal is to start small.

Use your personal savings for early funding and be sure to save up and accommodate for negative cash flow during the first few months. Create a budget to ensure you stay on track as you build out the business. Before long, you mays start to see the signs of an emerging, successful business.

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CEO’s Guide to Remote Work Success

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Remote work is what most of us are doing at present — and it will continue to be that way. Before the pandemic, there was an exponential growth of people who sought flexibility in their professional lifestyle. Most professionals have realized that it’s pointless to spend 2 hours in traffic, 8 hours in an office where it was hard to get focused, and then two hours to get home. You get home eat dinner and prepare for the same routine tomorrow. Here is a CEO’s guide to remote work success.

Working from home broke with the traditional routine — providing employees the opportunity to improve their work/life balance.

We’ve all read the thousand statistics and studies about how virtual employees are more engaged and productive. But mental health is something that is highly benefited when companies provide their employees with a flexible arrangement as well.

According to statistics, remote workers are happier, reflecting in the way they work and live. Their quality of life is improved when they get to decide where to work, whether it’s in the comfort of their homes or if it’s in a co-working space with tasty coffee.

There are still work challenges for remote workers and their CEO’s

Despite the significant benefits and the great aspects of being a remote worker, some challenges are hard to overcome. 2020 and the pandemic certainly was something no one was ready for.

Old-school companies who barely used technology were the ones who struggled the most adapting to these changes. However, most on-site companies who based their culture and values on the interaction and connection with one another had a rough time as well.

They had to close their offices and change how they worked drastically, discovering how virtual collaboration works and the best strategies to get the results they needed in a remote environment.

Leaders had to break their brains, trying to help their teams thrive in a remote environment. And remote workers also had, and still have, a hard time adapting to working from home.

Whatever your case is — if you find yourself currently surviving remote work, here are five strategies I’ve learned not only from leading a remote company for more than ten years but also by being a remote worker for over two decades.

1. Always Use the Best Tools You Have

It doesn’t matter if you’re the leader of a successful company or a junior employee who landed her first remote job; this advice applies to all. Buy quality tools that encourage you to be the most productive version of yourself.

Working from home doesn’t mean waking up, eating breakfast, and going back to bed with your laptop. Some remote workers do this, but they don’t get the same results as those who have a dedicated workspace. It’s important to create a space that is destined only to work because that way, your brain will associate automatically that when you sit in your home office, you are going to work, and when you lay in your bed, you are going to rest.

However, this also doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars building your perfect office. Some people have a big room in their homes, buy an amazing-expensive desk, an ergonomic chair, and the latest technologies. But honestly, working remotely is not about having the most expensive gear but having quality gear.

With a good headset, laptop, a second monitor (preferably), a good mic, and Wi-Fi, you’re good to go. If you live in a small place, try setting up a desk with all your equipment. That way, you know that you only go there when you need to work if you have the option of transforming a room in your place into an office, that’s even better.

Analyze your possibilities and think in the best way you can be productive with what you have. It sounds like when they tell you to buy an expensive headset, it is something superficial and unnecessary, but actually, good headsets tend to be costly because they work. In a remote environment where you don’t interact physically with the people you work with, you need to pull off your best communication tools.

If you’re a leader, lead by example. And if you are a remote employee, having a good microphone, camera and headphones will help you communicate better and more efficiently than struggling to hear what your boss or co-worker is trying to say to you.

2. Get Rid of Distractions

Remote workers are more productive than on-site employees. Many studies reveal that working in an office sometimes is even more distracting than working at home. The main reason is that employees get distracted by talking to other coworkers or just hearing the office noise.

However, we all face distractions, no matter where we are. And it’s important to learn how to deal with them to get work done. I remember a time in my life where I had an addiction to play video games or watch funny YouTube videos.

I thought that spending 5 minutes playing a bit will boost productivity when I returned to my tasks. However, those 5 minutes sometimes turned into 2 hours. Yes, I’m the President and Founder of a fully remote company, and I used to waste a lot of my time because of silly distractions – I admit it.

Then I discovered the power of a distraction-free environment. If you know that you are likely to play video games or use TikTok, then block those apps. Some applications help you block other applications that distract you while working.

If you get distracted by hearing your roommates laughing in the living room, buy kick-ass noise-canceling headphones. The key to creating a distraction-free environment is identifying the problem and then coming up with a direct solution. Here are 5 small tips that help you:

  1. Turn off notifications from your phone (Just the sound of them is already distracting).
  2. Clean your workspace leaving only the fundamentals.
  3. Have opened only the necessary tabs you need to do your tasks.
  4. Focus on one task only and then move on to the next one.
  5. Build a schedule (and stick to it).

3. Have a Routine That Works for You

Most people crave flexibility – in fact, flexibility is one of the top reasons many employees would like to have a remote job. They get to choose their working hours; they build a schedule based on their needs and have more quality time with their families and friends. However, when you are a remote worker, that flexibility can turn into a double-edged sword.

Therefore, having a routine is incredibly important when you start working remotely. Define what is essential for you and build your schedule. A great way to do it is by having an agenda with your to-do list, keeping in mind the projects you currently have and the tasks that need to be taken care of as soon as possible.

A good way of building a to-do list is to write the most important things at the top of the list and the least important things at the bottom. That way, if you don’t get to finish all the tasks, at least you’ll know you did the ones that really matter.

If you are a remote leader, be sure to tell your employees your expectations. This means to tell them your availability hours and ask them to give you theirs; this way, you know that they won’t be answering at certain hours. On the other hand, if you are a remote employee, the same advice applies here, make sure you know during what hours you can reach your boss and be sure to tell him your schedule as well.

Remote success is all about having the right communication, so emphasizing the expectations of each member of the team will allow everyone to know where they are standing and will allow them to perform better as well.

Establishing a routine is having a schedule that helps you get work done and helps you do the things you enjoy the most. Remote work facilitates the work/life balance most people want, but it is up to each remote worker to make that happen.

4. Build Trust – In a Fun Way

Yes, I know you’ve probably read about building trust a thousand times. But that’s because building trust is fundamental if you want your business to thrive.

Trust is what enables honesty and feedback in teams. If you work in a work environment that is based on fear rather than trust, ideas die. No one wants to get creative because they are way too afraid, and if you’re the leader, you’re seen as the enemy.

On the other hand, if you create a mistake-friendly environment, where you encourage employees to speak up and share their ideas, you will not only build a healthy culture, but employees will trust you and will help you achieve the results you want.

If you’re a remote employee, building trust is about being honest with your leaders, being transparent about your work, and about what you feel can be improved.

This all sounds easier said than done, but building trust remotely is not difficult. It just takes the right strategies. For instance, your top priority should be on communication. Enable the right communication strategies, provide crystal clear guidelines, and conduct productive virtual meetings. Also, try having feedback meetings occasionally to tell your leader/employee how you feel about work and how you feel they’ve done theirs.

One of the best ways of building trust in remote teams is with virtual water coolers. These team-building activities are the perfect space for employees to get to know each other. In physical offices, it was easy to run to the marketing guy on the elevator and discover you both love Pink Floyd. In a virtual environment, you need to make this happen in a fun way. Here are some ways of building trust remotely:

  • Celebrating birthdays and special events on Zoom
  • Virtual happy hours once a month
  • Gaming night
  • Sharing fun memes in the group chat

5. Connect with Your Team

Building trust should be a priority in your team, but so does building a connection. The great thing about connecting with your team and the people you work with is a stronger sense of purpose. You no longer do your job because you must or because you need to pay the bills but because you know that you are working for something way bigger than yourself.

In my years of experience being a remote worker and leading a remote company, I’ve learned that culture is not about hitting the bar every Friday after work with your coworkers. Culture means connection, connecting with every single person you work with. Getting to know them, know what they like, their pet peeves, having fun but also helping each other out to be better.

When you build a connection, you build a compromise, and you encourage everyone to collaborate.

And connecting with your team is all about caring for each other. Making the important but basic questions such as Hey, how are you doing today? How is your dog? And questions that make you feel a bit closer to your coworkers/leaders despite the geographic distance.

Ready to Succeed Remotely?

Being a successful remote worker always comes down to your team and how you collaborate. That’s why having the right tools, strategies, and communication channels are fundamental. But it would help if you also kept in mind that establishing relationships with your team is equally important. You are not interacting with them as you would if you were in a physical office. Therefore, caring about your team and making time for each member is necessary. With these 5 strategies, you’ll have a strong foundation that will help you thrive in the remote work environment.

Image Credit: ketut subiyanto; pexels

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What Makes a Startup Resilient?

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In the startup world, resilience is vital for success. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to face countless challenges, both internally and externally, that threaten your longevity and profitability. The best, most successful businesses aren’t the ones that are able to prevent or eliminate these challenges, since such a feat is practically impossible; instead, they’re the businesses that can survive through these challenges and adapt.

Resilient startups are much more likely to succeed. But what is it that makes a startup resilient?

Capital

The majority of problems can be solved with an adequate amount of money. If your business is struggling to pay its vendors and employees, you can tap into an emergency fund and get through the rough patch.

If you’re looking to expand in a new market, you can dump a massive sum of money into your expansion and not worry about exhausting your budget. If you’re not generating enough recurring revenue, you can invest heavily in marketing and advertising to get more visibility for your brand—no sweat.

Accordingly, resilient startups tend to have access to a lot of capital. They had multiple rounds of successful funding or generated enough revenue to build up significant cash reserves. Unfortunately, this is a pipe dream for many startup entrepreneurs, since the lack of access to capital is one of the main challenges threatening them. However, there are many other factors to improve the resilience that you can rely on.

Decentralization

You can also improve startup resilience with the help of decentralization; decentralization allows you to distribute your business in a way that prevents it from becoming too dependent on any one variable. For example, you can physically decentralize your business by adopting a remote work model. Rather than relying on a single main office building, you can allow all your employees to operate remotely; no single point of failure can wreck the business.

Many businesses use cloud computing for this reason; rather than storing everything on local physical servers, you can store your data in the cloud. This way, a single catastrophic event won’t be capable of eliminating your access to data.

Cross-Training

Cross-training can be thought of as a form of decentralization, but since it applies to the skills of your employees, it can be a bit harder to manage. The idea of cross-training is simple. You’ll have the individual employees within your startup train each other on their respective responsibilities. You can achieve the extra, yet critical training within a single department. With this cross-training, you’ll strengthen the capacity of the department, or allow each department to train the others.

As a result of each employee having knowledge, individual employees can take time off (including vacations) without impacting your startup’s capacity to perform. It also means you can afford losses of talent. While it’s never ideal to lose one of your star employees, it’s much easier to manage if there are other people on your team who can handle their responsibilities when they’re gone.

As an added bonus, cross-training allows each individual on your team to gain a better understanding of how the organization functions overall; they get to see the context for each person’s responsibilities and understand how the company works at a high level.

Willingness to Cut Losses

Next, a resilient startup must be willing to cut losses. This can be exceedingly difficult due to the sunk cost fallacy; when we’ve already invested significant time or money into an endeavor, we’re much less willing to cut our losses and move on. Instead, we want to make our investments “worth� something by continuing to invest in them, hoping that they’ll eventually pay off.

Startups that are unable or unwilling to cut losses, suffer heavily. It’s much better to identify areas of waste and cut them before they do any further damage. For example, you need to be willing to fire your marketing agency if you’re not getting the results you want. You need to be willing to pull out of a major city if the market isn’t there for your services.

Risk Management and Adaptability

Resilient businesses also have a risk management strategy in place. CEOs are keenly aware of the biggest risks to their startup’s success, and they know what’s necessary to mitigate those risks.

In line with this, one of the most important factors for resilience is adaptability—the ability for your startup to change in response to new information, newly available resources, or new circumstances (as well as new risks). If your competitors introduce new products, your customers’ opinions change, and your entire niche begins to evolve, you can’t survive if your business remains exactly the same. Instead, you need to be willing to try new tools, new workflows, and new approaches.

Gradual Changes

That said, it’s important that all of your startup’s changes be somewhat gradual. Many startup entrepreneurs are excited to grow the business as quickly as possible, making the business as large as possible, but this can ultimately work against you if you aren’t careful. If you invest too much, too quickly, you’ll end up paying for things you don’t really need and failing to pay for things you do need. You may also spread yourself and your team thin in an effort to achieve some arbitrary expansion goal.

Taking your time with new changes allows you to invest more deliberately. It also allows you to see the results of your efforts in real-time, so you can tell whether your strategies are working and update them if necessary.

Multiple Revenue Streams

Next, you should think about creating multiple revenue streams for your business. Most startups operate with one mechanism for generating revenue—a core product or service that drives the entire business model. However, it’s much more effective to create multiple revenue streams simultaneously, with several products, services, and alternative ways of making money.

The obvious benefit here is that increasing your number of revenue streams will increase your total amount of revenue. But this is also important as a protective measure; if any of your major revenue streams fails, you’ll have multiple other backups to make up the difference. This is also important for managing your client portfolio; you never want to be overly dependent on any single client.

Openness to Feedback

Feedback is the best way to improve your business, since it tells you things about your business you might not be able to discover on your own. Collect customer feedback to learn more about what they think of your business and collect employee feedback to learn more about how you can make the business run more efficiently and improve morale. Of course, collecting feedback is just the first part of this process—you also have to be willing to act on it.

A Strong Leader (and a Strong Culture)

Finally, a startup can benefit greatly from strong leadership and a strong culture. The leader of your startup will be responsible for setting the tone and making critical decisions for the business’s success. They’ll be the person in charge of identifying risks and avoiding threats—and the person capable of motivating employees even in the darkest times.

Leaders also work to build and preserve the culture within a startup. The culture itself can increase resilience to threats. If you train employees to see challenges as exciting, and see mistakes as learning opportunities, and see hard times as opportunities to build character, you’ll be much less likely to suffer from low morale or unmotivated workers.

Making your startup more resilient demands a significant investment of both time and money, but you’ll be better off for it in the long run. You can’t prevent all the challenges, obstacles, and detriments you’ll face as a business owner, but you can make your startup strong enough to resist them. Unfortunately, resilience is a difficult factor to measure objectively, but you can always make progress to improve your capabilities here.

Image Credit: the lazy artist gallery; pexels

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Word-of-Mouth Marketing in 2020: The Power of Social Media Influencers

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The power of influencer marketing is multidimensional, as it simultaneously affects different aspects of brand success: exposure, reputation, audience engagement, customer loyalty, and conversions. Influencer marketing is a way to tell your company’s story to the millions simultaneously through the mouths of those who already have the ear of your target audience. Here is word-of-mouth marketing in 2020 and beyond.

There is power in social media influencers.

The power in social media is generated by influencers individuals whose content resonates with broad audiences, impacts their lives, changes their mindset, and even affects their purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, or position.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.” — Seth Godin

Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Why You Need It?

Influencer marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics to enter the trust circle of potential customers. These people are an automatically loyal community since your brand is introduced to them by a person they already trust. Customer loyalty is the primary factor impacting the buying decision, particularly in times of a recession, when uncertainty toward the future is soaring in the air. That’s why it’s so crucial for companies to invest in building trust and give customers more confidence.

Influencer marketing is fueled by an ancient but still actionable word-of-mouth method. It allows you to accelerate online brand expansion by partnering with a thought leader who can be the first to start the word-of-mouth chain nourished by helpful content instead of ads. According to McKinsey, word-of-mouth marketing generates two times the sales of paid advertising. At the same time, Deloitte reports that customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a 37 percent higher retention rate than by any other means. 

Customers come and return to a brand trusted by influencers. They are considered experts who always keep abreast of the latest industry trends and recommend something really worth attention. To drive brand growth and success, businesses should learn more about influencer marketing and actively leverage it in the digital age.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing: a New View

Image Credit: helena lopes; pexels

Influencers build friendships, not “brand� relationships

If you ask customers what kind of relationships with a brand they’d like to have, you will likely hear about something similar to friendship. People want to feel appreciated and know that brands care about selling and empowering and inspiring them. Influencer marketing is the key to building human connections between a brand and its target audience. 

Interacting with a brand through a prism of the influencer’s positive feedback, customers feel more value in what the brand does and creates. They start associating its products and services with authoritativeness and reliability as they are recommended by the leading niche experts, aka thought leaders. Influencer marketing transits brand-customer relationships to a more personal level and makes them friends.

It allows you to discover what resonates with your customers.

When partnering with influencers, you can explore what types of content, messages, and visuals work best with your target audience. Influencer marketing allows you to promote your brand and conduct “field studies� on the influencer’s social media pages, investigate how they are interacting with potential customers, and what drives audience engagement. 

By monitoring and analyzing influencer-audience relationships, you can learn more about your customers, define better strategies for your future marketing campaigns, and improve products.

It helps provide anticipated WOW & emotion-driven engagement.

Leveraging the benefits of influencer marketing, you can introduce your brand engagingly and creatively. Influencers are mostly driven by creativity, curiosity about getting new experiences, and desire to bring value to their followers. They invest time and effort in producing highly engaging content that targets people who might be your potential customers. 

Making your brand intro a part of the influencer’s amazing content, you significantly raise chances of making the WOW effect, creating an unforgettable first impression, and driving continuous customer engagement. It helps provoke the person’s thoughts about a product and forths the first emotional interaction with it. 

Companies should care about creating emotional bonds with a target audience because they are fertile soil for growing customer loyalty. Consumer loyalty is a significant business value since it helps smooth sharp edges of customer experience and keeps conversions up. When emotional connections are damaged, rational (or even critical) thinking rears up again, and it may negatively impact sales in the future.

It promotes a brand through useful content instead of ads.

People trust advertising much less than before. On the contrary, word of mouth still is relevant and actionable even today. The sunrise of new digital innovations has just given it a new boost. Today, most of our words are digital and can spread at wind speed across the web. You can add your brand more significance and amplify word of mouth arising around it by producing quality content that inspires people and helps them tackle the most actual problems. 

At the same time, you can also save time on content production and reach a new audience with the help of influencer marketing. Influencers may endorse your brand and introduce it to their followers, involving your brand information in their own content. 

It is a highly cost-effective digital marketing channel.

Social media influencer marketing is becoming one of the most actionable digital marketing channels, even if compared to email marketing, paid search, display advertising, and affiliate marketing. According to Convince & Convert, 22% of digital marketing managers find influencer marketing the most cost-effective customer acquisition channel. As reported in a study conducted by Tomoson, influencer marketing brings a $6.50 return on investment for every dollar spent.

Is Influencer Marketing Worth It? 

Influencer marketing is a goldmine that may help companies keep the target audience’s attention in the highly competitive digital world. Is it worth investing in? Only you can answer it for sure. However, before you do it, just look through the above-mentioned values arising when someone influential talks about your brand once again. 

A successful collaboration with thought leaders can help you increase brand awareness, conquer the hearts of a new audience, gain its loyalty, grow brand popularity, and multiply revenue. It’s a powerful machine producing new, exciting human-brand interactions bringing plenty of benefits for both of them.

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6 Brilliant Brain Hacks for the Remote Worker

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What was once a niche work lifestyle has become commonplace. Millions of Americans now work remotely – and millions more are ready to join in. While remote working offers many benefits, it also has its own distinct challenges that must be worked through. Understanding how to power through friction and optimize productivity for better output is the goal. Here are six brilliant brain hacks for the remote worker.

Do you know where to start? Here is a practical guide to on-boarding remote engineers from a topmost expert. Consider these 6 brilliant brain hacks for the remote worker.

The Upward Climb on Remote Working

If you work from home, you used to be the anomaly. Today, you’re in good company. Pretty soon, you’ll be part of the majority.

According to Global Workplace Analytics and Quarterly Global, the leader in PR, marketing and advertising, the number of individuals working from home has grown by 173 percent since 2005.

Overall, 4.7 million employees (roughly 3.4 percent of the overall workforce) work from home at least half the time.

Approximately 40 percent of American employers offer more flexible workplace options today than they did five years ago. But with 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce saying they’d prefer to work outside the office at least some of the time, this number is expected to rise in the coming years.

As remote working becomes more commonplace, so will the need for better remote working strategies.

The Top Remote Working Challenges

Remote working is highly appealing and advantageous for freelancers, employees, and employers alike. But it’s not a perfect setup. There are plenty of challenges, including:

Blurred lines

Everyone wants to talk about tearing barriers between work and personal life, but too much overlap can equally problematic. One of the keys to maintaining optimal work-life balance is being able to separate the two. When you work out of the house, it’s challenging to carve out a meaningful division between each area. This can make you less effective in both aspects of your life.

Distractions

Have you ever tried to work from home when you have a house full of rambunctious children? Or what about participating in a conference call in the middle of a loud coffee shop? Wherever you’re working, distractions abound.

Procrastination

Whether you’re an employee or freelancer, your remote working status typically comes with greater freedom in how you manage your time. If you aren’t careful, procrastination can get the best of you. Over time, it may even become habitual.

Inconsistency

When working in an office, there’s something to be said for the predictability. You basically know what to expect. Your desk is in the same place, you see the same people, and you go through the same basic routines. Remote workers rarely have the luxury of consistency. This makes it hard to get in a state of flow.

Communication

We may have more communication methods than ever before, but there’s still nothing that can fully replicate being face-to-face in the same physical space. For remote workers, trying to communicate via a combination of phone, email, SMS, and video chat creates an extra layer of friction.

Isolation

Finally, remote working often gives rise to feelings of isolation – particularly in people with extroverted personalities. This can lead to boredom, pessimism, and a lack of drive. It can even have serious side effects, like anxiety or depression.

Most people ignore these challenges, and the results show. But if you’re someone who wants to increase productivity and maximize output, you need a better strategy.

You need to find what works.

And once you discover what works, you need to bottle it up and use it to your advantage.

Powerful Brain Hacks for Better Results

Brain hacking.

It sounds like a buzzword – and it kind of is. But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

Our brains are constantly being shaped by events, experiences, external stimuli, and other environmental factors. And as weird as it may sound, the human brain is subject to regular physical and cognitive changes.

The neuroplasticity concept says that the brain, like muscles in the body, becomes weaker or stronger over time. It’s continuously changing and rewiring. Over time, targeted techniques and purposeful strategies can morph into automatic habits and processes.

These targeted techniques and strategies are brain hacking. And it’s something that every remote worker can do to overcome the aforementioned challenges and optimize productivity and output.

Here are some brain hacks you may find helpful:

  1. Try Intermittent Fasting for Better Focus

Intermittent fasting is a biohacking concept that involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. There are various techniques, but the most common is to eat all of your meals in one eight-hour window. In other words, you’re fasting for 16 hours every day.

If you’re someone who loves food, this probably sounds impossible.

However, it’s not nearly as difficult as it initially seems.

It basically means you eat your first meal at 11 a.m. and your last meal at 7 p.m. (or whatever variation works for you).

Aside from the fat loss and metabolism benefits, intermittent fasting actually helps with focus. The consolidated intake of food prevents wasted energy from digesting food. Instead, you’re able to allocate those energy reserves to concentrate on work-related tasks.

On a related note, be mindful of what you eat.

While health professionals have spent years telling people to avoid fat, the truth is that you need healthy fats to maximize cognitive functioning.

Why?

It’s pretty simple: The human brain is 60 percent fat.

When you eat, try incorporating items like eggs, avocados, nuts, salmon, trout, and coconut oil into your meals.

  1. Eliminate Digital Media from Your Morning Routine

Bing! Bing! Bing!

Your morning alarm goes off.

You slap the snooze button. Once. Twice. Three times.

Once you finally come to your senses, you grab your phone, pull up Instagram, and start scrolling.

Then you get out of bed, walk downstairs, and turn on the news.

While watching the news, you reply to a couple of late-night texts that came in while you were sleeping.

Over breakfast, you check your email.

It’s not even 8 a.m., and you’ve consumed more digital media than your brain can process. You’ve also unintentionally heightened your stress level, stifled your creativity, and destroyed your focus.

When you start your day with digital media, you’re actually beginning your morning playing catch-up on what happened yesterday. You’re also letting other people dictate how you feel. You haven’t even started working, and stress, worry, and discontentment become the resounding feelings of the day.

Try taking a digital fast for the first two to three hours each day.

In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, 124 individuals were asked to check their email frequently for one week. The next week, they were told only to check their email three times per day (and to disable all notifications).

The data was analyzed against the time spent viewing email, and participants reported feeling significantly lower stress levels and higher feelings of positivity when email exposure was limited.

Once you cut back on exposure to email, social media, news, and other digital media forms, you’ll start to feel the positive effects.

While everyone can benefit from less digital media exposure, it’s especially helpful for remote workers close to digital distractions like the TV, video game systems, and personal smart devices.

  1. Leverage the Pomodoro Technique for Better Scheduling

Americans have a love affair with multitasking. We wear our ability to juggle responsibilities like a badge of honor.

But research shows that multitasking actually suppresses productivity. And if you work from home, where personal distractions are omnipresent, it can severely limit your output.

Enter the Pomodoro Technique – a revolutionary brain hacking method that remote workers have been using for years to increase focus and productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique consists of breaking your workday into 25-minute sections of work separated by five-minute breaks. Each one of these half-hour chunks is referred to as a Pomodoro. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, you take an extended break of 15 to 20 minutes.

These 15- to 20-minute breaks can be used for remote workers to do tasks around the house – such as folding laundry, fixing lunch, or taking a shower. This allows you to be productive with work while also taking full advantage of the fact that you’re home.

  1. Use Parkinson’s Law to Avoid Procrastination

In a satirical piece written for the Economist in 1955, British naval historian Cyril Parkinson made the following statement:

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.�

He would later write a book that fleshed out this idea. Eventually, people would refer to this concept as Parkinson’s Law.

In a remote work setting, Parkinson’s Law states that the time it takes to complete a work project depends on how much time you allot for it. In other words, if you give yourself eight hours, you’ll slow down and make it take eight hours. If, however, you only give yourself five yours, you’ll block out distractions and get it done in five hours.

If you’ve grown weary of procrastination and hope to finish your work faster and more efficiently, you need to set tighter deadlines.

Instead of telling a client, you’ll have the project done by next Friday, tell them you’ll have it in by next Tuesday. By tightening the time constraints, you force yourself to work more efficiently.

  1. Optimize Your Home Office for Productivity

One of the major challenges of working from home is that you’re forced to create a professional workspace in the middle of a very personal place.

But this is also one of the distinct advantages.

You have the capacity to design your own workspace – so why not optimize your at-home workspace in a way that puts your brain in the right frame of mind to be productive?

For starters, choose a room in the house that’s as far away from communal living areas as possible. In other words, being located right off the living room isn’t ideal. You’re much better off positioning a home office in the back corner of the house.

Secondly, you need natural light. It plays a catalytic role in brain performance, creativity, and focus.

Thirdly, paint your office walls a soothing color. The principles of color psychology suggest cool greens, blues, or neutrals. Avoid colors like red and orange, which provoke feelings of urgency.

Finally, eliminate distractions by avoiding clutter. While some creative minds thrive in messy environments, the vast majority of people wilt. Clutter zaps up energy and makes it hard to focus on the task at hand. By adopting a minimalist environment, you can get more done with less effort.

  1. Keep a Schedule

The human brain thrives on predictability. Remote working is far less predictable than working in an office where you’re expected to show up, take lunch, and go home at the same time each day.

If you want to give your brain a solid framework to latch onto, a consistent schedule is necessary.

Start your day by having your alarm go off at the same time every single morning.

After waking, implement a consistent routine that helps you transition from personal duties to professional responsibilities.

Start working each day simultaneously and use a couple of familiar tasks to help your brain slip into the right frame of mind.

Taking lunch at the same time is also advisable – particularly if you’re leveraging intermittent fasting.

The hardest part for most remote workers is “clocking out� at a consistent time. It’s easy to continue working and filling time until late in the evening. To prevent this from happening, try scheduling obligations in the evening. This makes it less likely that you’ll keep working.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Not all of these brain hacks and strategies will appeal to you. It’s all about finding your best approach and leveraging whatever it is that helps you achieve a state of flow.

What works for you?

How can you set yourself up for max productivity?

Your approach will differ from the next person’s – so don’t try to mimic or replicate what others are doing. Instead, become like a scientist in the laboratory. Mix, match, and blend proprietary formulas until you discover a brain hacking system that puts you on a path for success.

Image Credit: David Cassolato; Pexels

The post 6 Brilliant Brain Hacks for the Remote Worker appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Medical Second Opinions Can Save You Anxiety and Money

second medical opinion

We may end up undergoing medical procedures which could have been avoided only if we had looked for a medical second opinion.

70% of people trust the opinion of the first doctor they consult.

70% of people ALSO do not get their vehicles serviced on time.

It is most likely that you and I also fall into the above category of people. It’s not in our nature to question the people we have chosen to take an opinion from. People are very protective of the skill of the doctors they frequent.

However, you can believe your doctor, feel good about her opinion — and yet still procur a second opinion.  Not getting a second opinion can lead to tunnel vision. We may end up undergoing medical procedures that could have been avoided only if we had looked sideways and looked elsewhere for a medical second opinion!

Statistical Indicators Benchmarking the Information Society
Source: Statistical Indicators Benchmarking the Information Society

The above graph represents a few statistics on reasons why people search the internet for medical content. Googling your symptoms and expect the vast expanse of the internet to suggest a suitable alternative treatment is something that should be avoided at all costs. Self-diagnosis is one of the major causes of anxiety amongst people suffering from a medical condition.

Such self-diagnosis must be avoided as far as possible. However, that does not mean you should not look for a second medical opinion from a specialist. For conditions that can have a life-changing impact, it is always better to get an alternative diagnosis to ensure you are armed with all the information to make the right decision.

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.�- Plato.

Different doctors can have different treatment suggestions for the same medical condition. This stems from their:

  • Experience level
  • Education
  • Equipment accuracy
  • School of thought regarding medicine
  • Treatment methods

It is important to find a doctor who can understand you and the disease that plagues you. As they say, good doctors do not treat the disease. They treat the patient who has the disease. Sometimes finding such a doctor can require you to go for second opinions and alternative treatment consultations.

There are many conditions for which we should consider seeking medical second opinions.

Your condition need not be a Brainteaser.

Nervous system disorders such as dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, meningitis, migraine, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be difficult to diagnose and extremely tricky to treat. Neurological conditions are complex and, if treated incorrectly, can lead to life-altering complications. It always makes sense to take a second opinion from neurology specialists to ensure that you have received the right diagnosis and correct treatment option.

Words therapy can be the best medicine.

Research suggests that 1 in every 5 Indians will suffer from depression sometime in their life. 42% of private-sector professions in India have general anxiety disorder or depression. What I am trying to say is that you are not alone! Mental health issues are prevalent, especially in today’s fast-paced lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stresses that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.� It is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.

Mental health issues are many-a-times ignored and can affect daily life, relationships, and physical health. Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.  Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a person’s mental health. A large proportion of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time. So, do not let your mental health affect your physical health. Talk to a specialist doctor or a counselor.  Get help.  There is nothing wrong with that!

Matters of the heart

I am not talking about love. While that can cause heartache too, it is of a very different kind. I am talking about cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and related disorders, which are the number one cause of death globally. India is the heart disease capital of the world, with 30% of the total deaths in the country is due to cardiovascular ailments. CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions.

Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and harmful alcohol use. People with cardiovascular disease or who are at high cardiovascular risk (due to the presence of one or more risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or already established disease) need early detection and management using counseling and medicines, as appropriate.

If you feel you suffer from CVDs or are at risk, don’t be satisfied with just one consultation. Ensure you get a medical second opinion online consultation and have all the information at hand to correct your lifestyle and get treated!

Don’t baby those issues.

It is said that holding your baby in your arms is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But for some parents, this joy can become anxious if their babies are born premature, have a low birth weight, or have a specific medical condition that needs treatment in a hospital. This is typically done in neonatal care units. 6%-7% of parents in India face this, and it cannot be obvious to understand the level of care your baby needs.

Talking to a specialist can help you understand the different levels of care neonatal units provide. Neonatal care can help you, and your baby comes out of this situation and go on to lead healthy and happy lives.

In conclusion, I would like to say that today’s connected world gives us a plethora of information and options to choose from when it comes to medical opinions. Use it.

Seeing the constant challenge people across the globe were facing when speaking to a doctor or trying to look for a second opinion from an expert, the idea for iCardin was born. They work with Specialists and Care Managers who will customize and personalize the consultation packages as per your requirements after all your health information is being shared with us.

Get all the information and ensure you make the right decision, which is right for you. Stay healthy, stay safe.

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