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Category: Business

How to Market a Carpet Cleaning Company Online

It’s easy to believe that online marketing is only for online businesses while brick-and-mortar businesses, or those servicing people in their home, must focus on other ways of attracting clients. However, the reality is that inbound online marketing is just as effective for large online businesses as it is for the small hyperlocal ones. It’s all about how you utilize the tools available to you to attract people to what you offer via Search Engines.

Our very own carpet cleaning company in Ottawa, 1CleanAir, is a prime example of this technique. We found that there was a greater ROI when marketing using Adwords and SEO to boost our presence online and attract customers.

As a carpet cleaning company, we didn’t have a clear idea of how to start, but over time, we’ve built an online marketing structure using the best tools for our goals and measuring the results. Want to market your own carpet cleaning online? Here’s what you need to do:

Set Clear Goals and Audience

It’s important to know what you want to accomplish with your marketing campaigns. Do you want to increase your monthly revenue? Do you want more traffic to your website? Choose something you can measure and be as specific as possible.

An example of this is:

“1ClearAir will have 20% more new customers in 2017”

Now, who is your audience? Are they mainly female or male? What is the age group? Create potential client profiles and market for those specific groups.

Educate yourself on your industry’s keywords

We learned that the best keywords will center around our clients’ questions and how they would search them on Google. It’s easy to err by choosing keywords that are too specific or too vague. The trick is to provide answers for the client, becoming an expert in our industry and becoming a reliable source to come to when it’s time to make a purchase. For your own carpet cleaning business, don’t be afraid of using keywords that will help the client solve problems on their own.

An example of this is writing content with keywords about cleaning your own carpet.

Market your business using Adwords and SEO

Use Adwords to get your relevant content out there for your potential clients to see. Use keywords and long-tail keywords to better connect with your clients’ searches, which could be simplified and use colloquial terms, like in our case “outdoor rug cleaning in Ottawa” Knowing these keywords and using them to your best advantage will help you rank much better on both Google and other search engines.

Measure your ROI

Google offers conversion tracking to best measure how many of your leads turn into purchases using your calls to action.

A simple formula for this is to take revenue that is a product of your ads, take away the costs, and divide by overall costs. Good ROI will be determined by your industry and the goals you set. Sometimes, ROI can be as little as 1%, but given the costs of online marketing, it’s likely that your ROI will be much higher than traditional marketing returns.

This way, by using online market research, keywords and search engine marketing, you understand your customer better and can track down the cost of obtaining each client.

 

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7 Useful Skills That Every Entrepreneur Needs

To successfully launch and grow a company, an entrepreneur needs a unique skill set as well as ample knowledge and patience. Almost every startup has its ups and downs, and very few follow a straight, upward path to profitability. If you want to increase the likelihood that your new startup will be successful, consider nurturing and refining these specific skills that can serve an entrepreneur well.

Ambition

To succeed with your startup venture, you need to have an ample supply of ambition to combine with your talent and vision. Ambition can give you the drive to work harder and smarter while remaining committed to your endeavor even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Ambitious people are generally willing and able to put in the extra effort to get the job done right, and they do not look for shortcuts along the way. You should mix your ambition with a clear plan of action so that you know how to act to achieve your goals.

Willingness to Learn

Some people stop educating themselves when they graduate college, but learning is a life-long activity. You should always focus on evolving and improving yourself, such as through books, articles, documentaries, seminars and more. Your industry is in flux regularly, and you need to stay updated in order to properly lead your company. You should be in regular communication with industry leaders, or you should at least be in touch with their blog post or other published works so that your knowledge remains relevant.

Assertiveness and Confidence

You need to instil a sense of confidence in others, and the only way to ensure that others believe in you and trust you is to have full confidence in yourself. After listening to what others have to say and after developing an educated stance on a subject, verbalize your thoughts with confidence and assertiveness. People often trust assertive people. When you feel unnecessary pressure to act against your will or instinct, put your foot down with a firm response that voices your opinions tactfully.

Creativity

The most successful entrepreneurs embrace creativity in themselves and in their team members. You cannot expect to run a successful business always walking the tried and true path. There will be times when you need to be a trailblazer by thinking outside the box. You can encourage creative thinking by always talking to new people, reading new books, ordering new meals at a restaurant you frequent, changing your office or living room layout and more. Keep your mind open to new possibilities, and always push yourself toward innovation by setting lofty yet attainable goals for yourself and for your team.

Ability to Listen

Communication is critical to the success of any business owner, and active listening is a vital component to effective communication. You must be a people-person, and you should have open, honest, two-way communication with your customers. If you are striving for success you will need to commit to providing a great customer service, which includes listening to what your customers have to say, especially complaints.

Always listen to what other people have to say, and avoid the rude inclination to interrupt others. Bothersome chatter and self-promotion can also be irritating to others and could reflect negatively on others. If you are talking, you likely are not listening to the thoughts and ideas of the other person. Know when to be quiet and focus on what others are saying, and focus on their non-verbal cues as well as your own for more effective communication. However, you also need to know when to speak up, such as when your team needs extra motivation to push forward.

Courage and Risk-Taking

It is not enough to simply think creatively as an entrepreneur. You also need to be bold and courageous enough to act on your innovative ideas. While some ideas will be clear winners, others may require you to stick your neck out there and to be gutsy. In the words of John Burroughs, “Leap, and the net will appear.” Never be afraid to take chances even when they seem far different than anything ever attempted before, but in the same token, you should research all options before deciding how to proceed.

Perseverance

Almost all successful entrepreneurs can describe a series of road bumps and hurdles they had to navigate over on their path to success. These individuals who accomplished their goals did not turn around or grow fearful when faced with a challenge. Instead, they remained patient and optimistic through various challenges. You cannot possibly succeed if you give up, so the best thing to do in order to succeed is to keep moving forward.

Entrepreneurs are often highly successful people, but the path to be successful is rarely easy. You need to have strong knowledge in your field, and you also need to develop each of these skills carefully. While they can help you to be a better business professional, they could also help you to enjoy a more meaningful, productive life.

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5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Wheel Bearings Need Replacement

Most car owners understand the importance of well-maintained tires for a safe and fuel-efficient vehicle. After all, a car simply cannot function properly without good, reliable wheels.

But while most owners perform the habitual checks on tires such as tire pressure, tread depth, and tire alignment, the wheel is far from a simple component. And often, one of the most crucial parts of the drive-axle and steering assembly that’s overlooked, are the wheel bearings. Nevertheless, wheel bearings are not only important in promoting efficient wheel rotation, but they also help keep the wheels on your vehicle while supporting the weight of your vehicle.

A set of steel balls housed in a metal ring called a race, wheel bearings are engineered to last 100,000 miles if properly maintained and regularly checked, regardless of whether or not they are the newer hub-assembly style bearings or the older-style bearings. It is recommended, though, that older circle bearings be regularly checked once they reach around 60,000 miles.

But like any other mechanical part of your vehicle (especially ones that rotate, rub and roll), wheel bearings will give way to wear and tear.

To know when it’s time for your wheel bearings to get looked at by an automotive professional, here are five tell-tale signs that your wheel bearings need replacement.

Odd Noises

Any mechanical part that rotates, rolls and rubs as much as wheel bearings do are packed with heavy multi purpose grease to lubricate them, reduce friction, and protect them. One of the main and most identifiable symptoms indicating that you may have an issue with your wheel bearings is an unusual noise coming from your wheel.

The noise will vary, but the most common sounds are cyclic chirping, growling, or rumbling noises. These can indicate that the seal (that keeps the grease in, and water and other contaminants out) has started to leak, which is causing problems. The sounds you hear can differentiate at certain speeds, getting louder or disappearing as your vehicle accelerates or decelerates.

Uneven Tire Wear

Another immediate and easily recognizable sign of faulty wheel bearings is uneven tire wear.

When wheel bearings start to fail, they begin to loosen within their housing, allowing the wheels to wobble slightly as they travel down the road. Also called “bearing play,” this particular type of looseness is not immediately felt through the steering wheel, but rather through a visual inspection of your tires. If the tires to your vehicle appear to be excessively worn despite regularly rotating your tires or routine wheel alignments and maintenance checks, then it may be time to have your wheel bearings assessed.

Pulling While Driving

Wheel bearings that are in near perfect condition allow your car’s maneuverability to feel tight, responsive and controlled. If you start finding that your vehicle has the tendency to wander, or feels less responsive or less precise than usual, this can be symptomatic of defective wheel bearings.

While the problem may not simply rest with the wheel bearings, as it could be indicative of a bigger drivetrain issue, it could certainly be the culprit. A professional mechanic can diagnose the problem and determine whether or not the wheel bearings are the cause of the problem.

Steering Wheel Problems

A related phenomenon to your vehicle feeling less responsive or pulling in a certain direction is the visible vibration or wobble felt through your steering wheel. When wheel bearings corrode, this corrosion transfers to the steering wheel, giving it the feeling of unwarranted pulling.

Wheel bearings are not the only cause of a loose steering wheel or one that has the tendency to pull. Feeling a pull in the steering wheel is a common symptom for other mechanical problems in the drivetrain and steering assembly. However, a vibration that’s felt at slower speeds and becomes noticeably worse as the vehicle accelerates is a good indicator that it could be a wheel bearing problem.

Issues With Braking

While the classic symptom of a bad wheel bearing is a cyclic chirping, squealing, or growling noise, an audible clicking sound as the vehicle accelerates is indicative of a problem with the wheel hub assembly, which houses the wheel bearings. Excessive runout due to severe looseness related to worn or damaged bearings can cause brakes to pulsate and pull when brakes are applied. Uneven wear on brake pads are also visible. If the problem persists and the wheel bearings aren’t checked and replaced, ABS failure may occur, which could be suggestive of a loose bearing clamp that will result in excessive movement caused by too much end play, damaging the internal and external sensors.

If any of these symptoms present themselves, they can compromise the effectiveness of your vehicle and may lead to further catastrophic failure if left unattended. While these circle bearings are often an overlooked component of the drivetrain assembly, proper maintenance of your wheel bearings is crucial to the longevity of your vehicle. Any long-term neglect of this component will result in the eventuality of your wheel literally coming off while driving.

By attuning yourself to these tell-tale signs, you can quickly and readily be prepared to diagnose the situation.

AUTHOR BIO

Hassanein Alwan is the Marketing Director for Mineral Circles Bearings. He boasts of more than 10 years’ experience in the bearing industry’s technical support division, sales and marketing, with expertise in strategic business development consultancy.

With a degree of Master of Science in Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and an International Diploma in Business from the University of Cambridge, he started his career in Sweden as a Machine Safety engineer for Gröna Lund and as SAAB Aerosystems’ Aeronautical engineer. Today, he serves as a member of the Know Your Market Committee after joining EPTDA in 2013.

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Relocating to Australia

Many writers and others dream of traveling or even living abroad while they write for a living. However, getting a work visa or emigrating to another country can be more challenging than it at first seems.

One popular destination is Australia. There are a few things you will need to know before you consider it though.

Visit First

Although Australia is a developed country and the inhabitants speak English, the culture is much different than that in the United States. Before considering a move “down under” you should make some extended visits and make sure that will be able to adapt.

A Visa

The first thing you will need is a visa of some sort, and most likely a work visa unless you are of retirement age. In most cases this will be a temporary work visa, and to get one you will need to be sponsored by an Australian company.

Getting There

The flight to Australia will take you between 13 and 14 hours at best, so be prepared to strap yourself in for a long haul. There are a number of airlines to choose from, and only a few airports that offer direct flights. Depending on your endurance of cramped airline seats, you may want to fly to one of those cities first.

Leaving the United States

Before leaving the United States, there are several things you should wrap up, including your banking, various subscriptions, and loans. You should also grab copies of your medical and dental records, both physical and digital if possible just in case you need medical care before you are established as a patient in the Australian health care system.

You’ll also either want to store or sell possessions you are leaving behind. If you are storing them, be sure you have a long-term plan and that the storage is secure and insured. Consider carefully what you might ship as a part of your move. Many items, such as large pieces of furniture, may cost more to ship than they are worth.

Banking

The best way to handle your banking needs is to set your finances up in Australia before you move. Many major Australian banks provide migrant services to help you do just that before you even leave the states.

These programs not only make it easier for you to move your accounts, but to apply for other banking services like credit cards, savings accounts, and even loans and other services that will make your move easier.

Taxes

As an American citizen working in Australia, you will still have to file tax returns in the United States along with complying with Australian tax laws. You’ll have to be in Australia more than six months, and then you will need a Tax File number. The amount of taxes you will pay will depend on your income.

As long as the income you earn overseas is below a certain amount, you meet certain time requirements, or under certain other exemptions, you may not have to pay any taxes, but as long as you are a citizen of the United States, you need to file a return anyway.

Driving

Once you have been in Australia for between three and six months, you will need to get an Australian driver’s license. Of course, you should remember that they drive on the left side of the road, and that the laws for whether or not you can drive on a United States license will vary by state. Some will require an International Driving Permit, something you need to get in the United States before you go.

Living Arrangements

Depending on where you are from in the United States you may find rent and mortgages to be much more expensive than the United States, but if you are from a large urban area, rates might be comparable.

Of course, wages are typically a bit higher too. If you have the ability to do so, you may want to buy a home as soon as possible in Australia.

While you can buy a home, there are also private builders in Sydney who create amazing luxury homes suited to meet the needs of you and your loved ones. Investing in a home also makes you a more desirable resident should you move from visa status to applying for permanent residency.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the things you should consider before relocating to Australia, it does cover some of the high-level basics. Before you make detailed plans, be sure to visit government sites that give you step by step instructions and have all the forms and applications you will need to plan your move.

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GUEST POST: SEO vs. PPC: Why Not Both?

When faced with this marketing dilemma, many people evoke visions of two opposing forces clashing on the digital battlefield. Yet, these notions about the great divide are overblown at best. Strong organic search pays dividends for marketing and branding and improves the bottom line; then again, PPC also has some unique benefits to offer. So, how about a combination of both? We will make the case for such a sound tactic, which weighs pros and cons of various marketing tools and utilizes them accordingly and synergistically.

In two minds

Marketers often struggle to figure out whether they should focus on paid or organic search methods. The answer to the questions which one is better is not really clear-cut. There are many benefits of PPC campaigns one can reap and the same must be said about SEO ones. How these strategies will play out for you depends on your resources, objectives, and the marketplace. Likewise, how your target audience uses the internet has a profound impact on the ultimate decision.

A matter of cost-efficiency

Organic search significantly enhances traffic at excellent cost per lead.  In this regard, it outmatches paid search. Namely, traffic from SEO comes free in a sense that you are not charged anything for all those clicks. Instead, you need to invest time and money to lay the groundwork and make it happen. Besides, the results do not fade away once you stop paying. That is why the ROI associated with SEO is higher than any form of paid media, including PPC.

More bang for your buck

With SEO, you get a chance to get your business in front of the customers and spread brand awareness using targeted keywords. Boosted visibility allows you to build credibility and trust with the audience and improve not only traffic and click-through rates (CTR) but also sales. Most users have confidence in search engines, unlike ads, which they tend to avoid. Hence, you can count on a higher amount of overall clicks and once you establish visibility, you make it hard for competition to buy their way in.

Problems in heaven

Still, new businesses struggle to get the ball rolling in the area of SEO and sometimes opt for PPC as a more straightforward tactic.  Visibility in organic search neither comes quick nor easy. The task becomes borderline impossible in case you have to go for keywords that also targeted by behemoths such as Amazon or Apple.  Moreover, to make the most of SEO, one has to employ content assets, build links, acquire listings, and use SEO crawler tool to see if the resources are allocated optimally towards boosting organic traffic.

Pay to play

Those who do not fancy the scattergun approach of SEO and like to target with laser-like precision lean towards PPC. Ads are targeted by keywords, but also geography, time, language, device, demographics, etc. Therefore, using this method, marketers can ensure they get noticed by the right people. What is more, they exercise more control and gain more space for the delivery of marketing messages. It helps also that Google gives you an opportunity to take advantage of visual shopping ads that are proven to increase CTR.

PPC advantages

It must be mentioned that paid search is linked to some specific benefits as well. For instance, ads have a distinguished position on the page and dominate above-the-fold content. Users always see them, even when they decide to simply scroll past them. Furthermore, marketers are in a position to gather marketing intelligence and launch campaigns quickly. Finally, PPC may not be as cost-effective as SEO, but the ace up its sleeve is that you have a tight control over a budget: It is possible to set a fixed limit to how much you will spend per day.

The best of both worlds

SEO is the undisputed king when it comes to cost-effectiveness and click-through rates, but it is not a silver bullet that always does the trick. Done right, PPC delivers value and takes your marketing efforts to the next level. As it turns out, an integrated approach is the most fruitful strategy to achieve digital greatness in 2017 and beyond. To make the right call, see where these strategies fit within your overall marketing plan. Select channels that make sense considering your situation and you will be able to stand out in the crowded digital realm.

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Writing as a Business: Wide Distribution vs. Amazon Exclusivity

Smashwords challenged the publishing industry when Mark Coker launched it in 2007. By 2010, the company was profitable, and was distributing books not only on its own website, but through partnerships with Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Sony.

Apple was also in the self-publishing game, and Amazon offered Kindle Direct Publishing options to authors starting in 2007.  Apple was the first to offer authors a 70% royalty under certain conditions, and Amazon KDP soon followed. Compared to traditional deals which often offered print royalties from 4-7% to new authors, this was a big deal.

Then Amazon, as per their usual mode of operation, started Kindle Select. This platform requires that authors offer titles exclusively on Amazon in exchange for certain benefits: marketing options are one of them, including the ability to run 5 free days of promotion, and 7 day Kindle countdown deals. The books in the exclusive program are also offered in the Kindle Unlimited program, a program where readers pay a certain amount each month to read as many books as they would like.

The payout from Kindle Unlimited varies quite a bit from author to author, as they get paid according to a “pages read” formula based on a monthly global fund set by Amazon. Many authors find great success with this program: many think it damages author earnings overall.

Thus arises the controversy. Do you distribute your book as widely as possible, making it available on several different platforms? Which ones matter the most? Should I use something like Smashwords or should I upload my work to each outlet directly? Or do you offer your work exclusively on Amazon through their distribution network? We’ll tackle each of these in turn, and examine the costs and benefits of each method.

Wide Distribution

It sounds like a great idea. Getting your work in front of as many people as possible seems like the logical answer, and for many authors it is. The reality is that most author sales come from Amazon: they are the largest book distributor in the world. However, number two is iBooks through Apple.

Smashwords

There are, of course, several ways to get your work on all of these platforms. One of them mentioned already, and one of the oldest platforms is Smashwords. Smashwords was formed by Mark Coker after he and his wife shopped around a manuscript, made all of the changes requested by publishing houses, only to have it still be rejected. They knew they had a fan base, they just needed a platform to reach them.

So Mark went to work in 2005 on developing his own platform and launched it in 2007. It is still one of the largest eBook distribution platforms in the world. Smashwords also helps writers distribute their work across other platforms like Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and library systems in exchange for a small royalty.

They used to also distribute books to Amazon KDP, until Amazon changed their ability to do so, and created a more exclusive platform. More on that in a moment. Smashwords is unique in a number of ways. They were the first to offer e-book distribution in an affordable way. Mark offers tons of free advice from how to successfully format and upload your eBook to marketing and other advice for authors.

Smashwords Alternatives

Of course, Smashwords was not the only company to form an aggregate for distributing books. Draft2Digital, Lulu, and other self-publishing platforms soon followed. Ingram Spark is another, and many of these have one primary advantage over Smashwords: they offer print on demand services as well.

For this post, we will be talking primarily about e-books, since they are the bread and butter of most fiction writers at the moment. Print books are more expensive, harder to distribute, and you make less money on them. However, you do make money on them, and having them as an option is great.

Individual Uploads

The other option you have for wide distribution is to upload your books to all of the different outlets where you want it placed one at a time. There are pros and cons to this option.

Pro: You’ll get the highest royalty from each. Smashwords and any other book distributor takes a percentage of your sales to cover their costs of placing the books for you. This is usually a percentage or royalty rather than being a flat fee.

This means of course that the more books you sell, the more they make, which can be a good thing, as they will help you market your work. However, this does mean less money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Pro: Your book will be in exactly the right format for each platform. Every eBook format and platform has its quirks, and if you do individual uploads, you can be sure that your work meets the requirements for every site and distributor.

Con: It’s time-consuming and can be complicated. Just as knowing your book will be right for each platform due to each one’s quirks, you will have to deal with those quirks when uploading files. Don’t get me wrong, once you have done it a few times it does get easier. However, there is still a time cost involved, and you need to factor that into your schedule and your business plan.

Pros: Better metadata. If you upload on individual platforms, you get better search meta data on each, making your book easier to discover on that platform. This metadata also translates to Google and other search engines when potential readers are looking for your work.

Advantages of Wide Distribution

The advantage of distributing your book widely is that those who do not use Amazon for whatever reason can find your book in a number of places. These can include digital library collections. eBook platforms popular in other countries, and those who use iBooks and Apple products exclusively.

While Amazon is number one in book distribution, the second distributor is iBooks. Depending the genre of your work and how you do your marketing, by not having your work there and on Kobo you could be missing a large segment of customers.

However, some research shows that while not everyone uses Amazon, many people who use iBooks and Kobo also use Kindle apps to get books that are exclusive to Amazon. We’ll discuss this option next.

It’s simply important to understand that wide distribution means you can reach a larger variety of readers. You never know when one of those readers will become a “superfan” and spread the word about your books far and wide.

Even missing one reader could potentially be costly. So why would anyone want to distribute exclusively through Amazon? There are some valid reasons, and we will talk about those next.

Amazon Exclusivity

After reading the above section, you may wonder why anyone would choose to distribute exclusively anywhere. The reason is simple” Amazon offers some unique benefits for authors who do so.

What are those unique benefits, and why do they matter? Here is a quick rundown.

KDP Select

Kindle Direct Publishing is the platform authors use to load their work on to Amazon, and it is abbreviated KDP. KDP Select is the program by which authors offer their product only through Amazon for a period of at least 90 days, and in exchange get certain privileges other authors and most publishers who do wide distribution do not get.

Free Days: You can offer your book for a certain number of days in each 90 day period. Offering a book for free, especially if you have a series or other books for readers to find, can boost rankings and sales over the long run. This includes the book you offer for free or your other work.

You can also offer Kindle Countdown Deals: these are deals where your book starts at one price and changes over the course of a few days. These are easy deals to market, and coupled with good social media and Amazon ads can net you some good short term sales and long term exposure.

Your books will be automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s Netflix-like book lending program whereby readers pay a monthly fee and can read as many books as they would like.

 

Kindle Unlimited

I’m treating this as a separate topic because some authors love it, some hate it, and there are very few in between. The way it works is this: every month, Amazon sets a global fund for authors whose work is in Kindle Unlimited. The author gets paid according to the number of pages read. It used to be after a certain percentage of the book was read, but authors of longer works complained that readers would have to read more of their work for them to get paid the same amount of money as other authors.

As with any system like this, there have been those who have cheated it by having bots read books for them, hiring click farms in India and other countries where “readers’ click through books quickly to get tons of page reads.

Amazon cracked down on this, but unfortunately, many legitimate authors who were not cheating also got in trouble when they had sudden uptakes in pages read. This only added fuel to the controversy.

Many authors argue that this system is hurting author incomes rather than helping them. Authors who are well-known get more page reads and make more money. Not to mention those still gaming the system who take money away from the fund, lowering the amount available for other authors.

Others claim Kindle Unlimited payments have boosted their income, and hail the program as an innovative way for authors to earn more. The system seems similar to that of Spotify or Apple Music. For some the rewards will be great: for those who do not get pages read or “listens” as in the case of musicians, the system will feel broken.

Either way, Kindle Unlimited is an option avid readers love, and authors are divided on. Amazon calls it a benefit for authors in the KDP Select program, and it can be, with proper marketing support.

Conclusion

Wide distribution vs. Amazon exclusives has been a debate for several years now. Amazon proponents like Hugh Howey will tell you that this “all my eggs in one basket” approach works, because at any time an author can move their eggs should they become dissatisfied.

Others say this is foolish: missing readers on other platforms is simply not worth the price, even if the benefits are legitimate.

Ultimately, the answer is up to you: do you want your work many places, or can you make an Amazon exclusive work for you?

We will look at some specific case studies and experiments a little later in the series, but for now, let me know what you think. Comment below, and share your experiences.

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Steps for Choosing a Data Loss Prevention Solution

Data Loss Prevention software can automatically identify personal information such as credit card numbers, or intellectual property. It can prevent the attempted transfer, encrypt it, alert the network administrator, or any combination of the above. It can also prevent employees from transferring this information to unsecure consumer cloud storage such as Dropbox. Implementing DLP policies and software can be a large investment in terms of time as well as money, so it is best to learn as much as you can in order to identify the right plan for your company’s needs and resources available.

Data Loss Prevention solutions work to securely transfer online data and prevent sensitive information using a trusted SSL certificate for HTTPS Inspection of outgoing traffic. Data Loss Prevention, or DLP, can refer to both internal strategies to this end, or to describe software products to help a network administrator prevent these unwanted transfers. This software will use established business procedures to identify confidential data in order to prevent either accidental or malicious data transfers by employees and users.

There are three main points – get to know the DLP solutions market, establish your own companies exact needs, and gain a basic understanding of DLP technology. Taking these steps first will ensure you know what to look for when approaching vendors.

Get Informed

There are many options in the DLP industry to suit different needs and budgets. Research will be necessary to figure out what is best for your own company. There are solutions that offer a wide range of support and features. In order to understand your company’s needs, it is important to understand the basics of how data moves around the environment.  These analysts can provide this understanding, allowing you to make an informed choice.

It is also important to utilize your own professional network to acquire real life information as to what has or has not worked for your peers, in terms of DLP strategies. Once you have a few choices in mind, ask for preliminary estimates as to pricing. By and large, most companies spend more than they need to, using an overkill approach to DLP. This can be expensive, difficult to maintain, and may require infrastructure that will incur unforeseen costs.

For example, make sure you have an understanding of all the hardware and architectural requirements for deployment of a desired DLP plan. Many vendors will simplify or even dumb down information on these requirements, leaving to buyers to figure out after purchase a need for additional servers, appliances, or virtual machines. These requirements, if unanticipated, can derail a DLP plan entirely. Before choosing a plan, ask vendors for a complete architectural map including hardware requirements, which will allow you to compare the real costs of using different vendors.

Another factor to be informed of prior to making a choice, is the professional implementation services. Many vendors offer professional aid in implementation of DLP services. It is important to know before making a choice what this will cost, and what exactly your company will be paying for. Be sure to find out:

  • Exactly what implementation services are provided, the hours provided for each item.
  • Establish exactly what DLP policies will be instituted – consider every possible data violation you intend to prevent – and get as much help from these professionals as possible while on- site.
  • Ensure your provider has the technical skill to implement their own proposed deployments. This is a problem which arises more than you would think.
  • Establish what detection methods will be implemented. Often, the most effective methods of detecting sensitive information will be the most complex to implement.

Classify requirements

This involves examining the needs of your company, not just in terms of DLP needs, but in adapting to the changes, solutions may bring to the daily operations of your employees.

Examine the need for transparency, in terms of what employees and users can expect after the installation of a DLP solution. How will the DLP solution change their use of data? How might it complicate daily operations? A certain amount of sacrifice in these areas may be desirable, but it is essential to take these factors into account ahead of time, and to communicate expectations.

Be aware of any changes in performance which might come with implementation. Certain DLP policies will impact performance of the network and servers.

Consider compatibility issues – including any systems and applications your DLP will need to support. For example, most DLP vendors do not support Mac OS – if this a requirement, you will need to find one that will.

Figure out security needs – Your company may have specific security requirements. You may want to alert security staff to transfers of sensitive information, without automatically blocking or encrypting them. You may only be concerned about larger quantities of sensitive data. You may be primarily concerned about USB transfers from disks, or more about cloud based storage. Define these needs specifically before shopping for vendors.

Understand the basics of DLP technology –

In order to make informed choices between vendors, gain a basic understanding of DLP options. Make sure your vendor does too.

Full Set DLP solutions were developed from the start with Data Loss Prevention specifically in mind. Full Suite solutions can have greater protection of protocols, including HTTP, FTP and secure HTTPS transfers. Early Full Suite DLP focused on pattern matching in text, to detect sensitive information in need of protection. This pattern matching was effective in preventing data loss, but led to many false positives. One newer detection method, data fingerprinting, is now favored. This method stores a one-way hash on the DLP system. It then analyzes content, either in databases or as unstructured data, and compares it with the stored hashes. It is extremely accurate in detecting sensitive information.

Channel DLP solutions were often created with another purpose than DLP in mind, but adapted to prevent data loss. This category can include email security solutions, device control software, and secure web gateways. Often, these methods are limited in terms of their detection methods, focusing on pattern matching – often outpaced by newer methods. Often, these methods are totally ineffective for other protocols such as HTTP, FTP, and HTTPS.

Another area in which it is helpful to understand the technologies of DLP solutions is that of architecture. The architecture, or framework, of DLP solutions can either entail a modular approach or a unified one. Modular architecture was the first to develop in the early 2000s, as different components of DLP developed separately for large companies. The modular approach can be very effective, but can incur high costs for smaller companies without existing infrastructure. Hardware costs can skyrocket since many components do not support virtual deployment.

Unified architecture, on the other hand, is a simplification of these earlier approaches that can lower costs and simplify the process for smaller companies. The savings comes from lower management overhead and a need for fewer servers.

A basic understanding of these technical aspects can help you make to make sure, you ask vendors the right questions, and ensures you get the most appropriate solution for your company’s needs and resources.

Just like any large investment for your company, choosing a DLP solution is not always simple. However, the risks of making this decision without the right preparation could be serious – from failing to implement a solution entirely, to overpaying for years to come for making the wrong choice.

There is no universal answer either – different solutions will be appropriate for different companies. However, with these 3 steps, you can start your search armed with the information you need before even talking to vendors. Understand your options in the market of DLP solutions, understand your own companies needs as precisely as possible, and gain a basic understanding of how these different DLP options work. Only then will you be able to understand the real costs and benefits of what vendors may offer. This will help you avoid the pitfalls into which many companies fall when choosing a DLP solution.

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7 Benefits of a PPC Campaign for Your Business

Even though a lot of people dismiss all but organic ways of gaining traffic to your website, this is definitely not the only way you can go on about your marketing. Sure, some compare PPC (pay-per-click) to buying visits but what’s so bad about it. First of all, keep in mind that every single method of digital marketing can be brought down to this if only you are determined enough. You see, having a great design of website might also boost your traffic, yet hiring a skilled web designer won’t be interpreted as “buying visits”. This being said, here are seven benefits of PPC campaign that might definitely make it worth your while.

1.    Measurable ROI

More than a century ago, John Wannamaker stated that although he knows half the money he spends on the marketing goes to waste, he can never know which part. The situation is a completely opposite with PPC and here, you get the unprecedented level of feedback regarding where your audience came from. You see, seeing how you have to pay for every single click that led to your page, you need to know how many of them you got from which source. Even though this may seem completely unbelievable, but for the first time in the history of marketing, you get the exact numbers that reveal the ROI of your PPC campaign.

2.    Immediate Results

Another great thing about PPC is that it yields you immediate results, unlike any other marketing method you may try out. Sure, it would be absurd to claim PPC is clearly superior to content marketing or SEO but both of these methods take some time to give results, while with PPC it usually takes only a few hours. In regard to what we previously discussed, this only makes measuring ROI easier. Furthermore, it is great for startups and young companies that don’t have the luxury of waiting until their website starts generating traffic the organic way. At the end of the day, it is worth employing all of these methods and this is when they yield the best results but it is still important for you to know what each of these segments brings to the table.

3.    Optimal Cost-Efficiency

Even though traffic may seem as a vanity metric, when combined with a conversion rate of your website (which is a story for another time), it may become a reliable factor determining the rate at which you generate profit. In other words, you might be able to calculate with a pinpoint accuracy just how much money each of these clicks stands to bring. Here comes the best part, PPC as its name suggests, requires you only to pay for those ads that actually bring you traffic. You get a new audience member – you pay. Your offer gets ignored – you don’t pay. It really is that simple and with proper PPC management, you can get even more out of this deal.

4.    More Individual Initiative

One of the greatest tasks of every single entrepreneur out there lies in making people around you actually give it their 100 percent. With PPC, you won’t have this problem, seeing how one’s paycheck is in direct correlation with the effort they invested or the level of creativity on their disposal. Instead of having to micro-manage everything and ensure every single one of these minor victories on your own, you can now safely rely on the individual effort of people who are displaying their ads on their blog or advertising you on their channels. The success at which they do this is no longer your concern, seeing how you are no longer expected to pay for slacking.

5.    Efficient Local Marketing

Another thing you might want to keep in mind is a fact that most PPC platforms like Google AdWords allow you to target your audience based on their location. In 2017 more people browse the internet through their phones than through their PCs, which makes tracking their location via GPS even simpler. This incredible feature allows you to locate potential customers that are just miles away from your headquarters, raising the potential for a successful local marketing campaign by quite a bit. Still, this doesn’t mean that PPC isn’t as effective on a global scale.

6.    Perfect for A/B Testing

While A/B testing definitely isn’t its conventional use, keep in mind that this is also one of the options you may want to use PPC for. You see, whenever you cannot decide between two options, you can always try them both out in PPC campaign and see which of them gives you better results. Earlier on, we mentioned that this is one of the most reliable ways of getting data on the subject and sometimes the best use of such a method is an outside-of-the-box one.

7.    A Much Easier Job

Finally, one of the best traits of PPC is a fact that there is no complex algorithm to please in order to get what you want. With SEO and content marketing you need to worry about things such as keyword abuse, quality of content and metadata, while with PPC things are much easier. Here, all you need to do is allocate some funds for the campaign and get started. Furthermore, the advantage that often gets overlooked here is the fact that algorithm constantly changes, which means that with PPC you have one less thing to worry about and one more constant to rely on. In a volatile environment of present-day digital marketing, this is not a small thing.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many reasons for you to use a PPC campaign and not a single one against it. Sure, some may argue that visits alone aren’t what matters but the conversion rates themselves, still, what are the conversion rates without a traffic. A conversion rate of 100 percent when you have a single visitor to your website is the same as a conversion rate of 1 percent for 100 visitors. In other words, you need both parts of the equation in order to make a profit and a PPC campaign might just be your best bet at getting at least one of them.

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VPS Hosting vs Shared Hosting – Which is Right for me?

When you are preparing to launch a website, it is important to choose a web hosting plan that fits both your needs and your budget. Various types of hosting are available. Two affordable options for small businesses are shared hosting and VPS hosting.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a budget option for people who plan to start a business and expect to initially receive only a few hundred visitors a day. With this kind of hosting, you share server space and bandwidth with other website owners. This limits the amount of control you have over your site and can increase your security risk. Sharing bandwidth also means that high levels of traffic to other people’s sites could affect the performance of your own. There are usually limits on the number of email accounts you can set up on your domain, which is why this kind of hosting is only used by companies with a small number of employees.

If you simply need to host a website and a couple of blogs, shared hosting could be an affordable option for you. If your website starts to attract a lot of traffic as your business grows, you can always upgrade your hosting package to add more storage space or switch to another type of hosting.

VPS Hosting

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. With this kind of hosting, a single server is split into multiple virtual servers. When you purchase a VPS web hosting package, you rent the use of one of these virtual servers. VPS hosting provides more control over the configuration of your server than shared hosting, which means you can run your own batch files inside the server and use custom firewall configurations. On the other hand, some applications have problems running in virtualized environments

VPS hosting usually provides plenty of space and bandwidth, which means you will have more resources to manage your website traffic and run all the web applications you want. You will also enjoy a greater capacity to create more email accounts for your employees. It is a good choice if you expect your traffic to grow significantly over the next few months or if you plan to host multiple websites.

Separation between the virtualized servers means VPS hosting may provide superior security over what shared hosting is able to offer. Therefore, VPS hosting may be a better option if you plan to handle sensitive or confidential data in your business.

The main disadvantage of VPS hosting compared to shared hosting is its higher cost. Another potential disadvantage is that you need a dedicated system administrator to manage the server.

Shared vs VPS Hosting

Shared hosting is a good option if you want a simple first website. However, after a while you may want to upgrade to VPS hosting. You may choose to make the switch if your website requires more resources than your current shared hosting can provide or you need to have more control over your server settings.

All good hosting companies provide both shared and VPS hosting solutions. It’s best to look at the technical specifications of the hosting plans they offer to see which one is right for you.

 

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Slipping Down in Life: A Guide to Public Liability Claims

Most of us take our health and safety for granted, but the truth is, injuries and accidents can occur anywhere at any time.  In 2013-14 alone, around half a million people were hospitalized as a result of injuries, with around 12,000 dying as a result of the physical effects. Though road accidents and criminal incidents make up a majority of these cases, very often injuries are a result of public accidents that are caused negligent safety practices.

Flashpoints for potential accidents can include:

  • Wet, slippery floors that have been improperly cleaned or marked out,
  • Misplaced ropes and cables,
  • Bad lighting
  • Soft or uneven terrain
  • Faulty safety equipment
  • Exposed electrical wiring

If you’re the unfortunate victim of such circumstances then moving past the pain and humiliation to make a claim for the damages caused can be a daunting prospect. Especially with long-standing laws that have made it harder for people to seek compensation for their injuries in the last 15 years. However legal experts are standing by, ready and willing to help you with making a public liability claim. The process includes.

How a Public Liability Claim Works

Consultation

The legal expert will sit down and hear your story free of charge. They will examine all the facts and accounts, and try to determine whether the accident was preventable and if it was, whether it was caused by the negligence of another party. Try to make sure you seek out a consultation within 12 months of sustaining your injury.

Evidence

In order to aid the legal expert you can provide any supporting documentation you have at this point such as hospital records, a police report or any photos or videos you might have of the accident and/or aftermath, as well as any financial records of lost earning.

The Case

If the legal expert finds sufficient evidence for a case they will sign an agreement with you, and then start making the necessary filings for a court case. This process usually takes 2 weeks.

For the next months, the legal expert will build your case finding additional supporting documentation, drafting witnesses and analyzing existing evidence. They will look to prove that the damage you have suffered is as a direct result of any accident, that the negligent party was solely responsible for the circumstances that led to the accident and that you had little to no part in the accident occurring.

Negotiation

In order to protect you from a long and expensive court case, a legal expert will usually look to settle with the negligent parties insurers out of court. At this point, they will discuss an acceptable amount of settlement with you that will compensate you for the losses you have borne.

Court

If the negotiations are unsatisfactory, or the valuations that you and the “at fault” party come up with are too far apart, the legal expert will proceed to court. In many cases, lawyers will agree on a no-win no fee basis, especially if they feel you have a strong case. It may take up to a year or two for your case to be taken from inception to end. Compensation usually takes about 18 months or so to be processed, with your lawyer then taking a percentage of the fee.

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