Marketing Automation 101: What and Why?

Marketing Automation: What it is & Why it’s Important to Your Success

Chances are, you have heard of the term marketing automation. It’s been a buzzword in marketing for the past few years, and we are predicting it is only going to become increasingly more popular in 2018.

To get started with marketing automation, we’ve outlined what it is and why it’s important to your organization’s marketing success.

 

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation, you guessed it, refers to software that automates your marketing efforts.  Simply put, it exists with the goal of executing marketing actions (i.e. sending out email campaigns, publishing social media posts, updating CRM systems with website engagement, etc.)  without any in-the-moment manual action.

When used correctly, marketing automation’s end-goal is to nurture prospects with personalized content that is meant to convert them into loyal customers. As a result, giving you (the marketer) more free time to focus on strategy, instead of just tactics.

 

Marketing Automation’s Impact

As you know, the goal of marketing is to generate more revenue for your company. To do this, you need to drive traffic to your website, convert that traffic to leads, and then close those leads as customers. Email marketing is a popular strategy that organizations utilize to push their message out and generate sales. But does it work one the email lands in your prospects inbox? It’s hard to tell.

This is where marketing automation makes a large impact. Marketing automation allows you to nurture your leads through the entire buying process, delivering highly-targeted, personalized messages that address their specific barriers to purchase.

As an example, here is what a basic automated email workflow could look like:

Step 1: You send an email invitation to a targeted list of contacts to sign up for a webinar your organization is hosting.

Step 2: You send a thank you note to all the people that attended the webinar, along with the presentation.

Step 3: A few days later, you send a follow-up email to the list of people who registered for the webinar, offering them a case study relating to that topic.

Step 4: Finally, when a recipient downloads that case study, your sales team will get a notification so they can follow up with them (this person is now much more qualified and is likely farther down the buying process).

From a customer perspective, they are receiving a much more personalized journey than that of an email blast that is sent out to thousands of others on a scattered list. From marketer’s perspective, you are providing a journey that is targeted, automated, and efficient to reach your target audience.

Let’s go over some of the benefits so you’ll see why marketing automation is important for marketers and business owners.

 

Marketing Automation Fast Facts

  • Marketing automation drives a 5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.
  • 75% of marketers say the biggest benefit of automation is saving time.
  • 77% of marketers see an increase in conversions by using marketing automation software.
  • 80% of marketers increase their leads when using marketing automation software.
  • 45% of agencies rely on marketing automation platforms to show ROI and 42% use marketing automation to measure performance.
  • 68% of marketers say the biggest benefits of marketing automation include increased customer engagement.

 

What are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?

1. Save Time and Increase Productivity

With marketing automation, you never have to worry about going into a tool every day to schedule social media posts or ship one-off emails. A marketing automation tool allows you to schedule everything you need ahead of time, which will free you up to do other marketing activities.

Integrated tools such as SharpSpring allow you to bring all your marketing efforts into one portal – saving you from having to switch between tools for social media, email, CRM, and more.

 

2. Get More Out of Your CRM

By integrating your CRM software with your marketing automation tool, you can see your contact’s sales and marketing activities all in one place. Most importantly, where your contacts are in the marketing funnel.

Marketing automation tools will show you what resources your contacts have downloaded, what web pages they interact with, and how frequently they engage with your brand online (just to name a few). This gives you a much fuller picture of a contact’s relationship with your brand and makes it easier to align your outreach with it.

 

3. Ensure Smooth Workflows and Consistency

When manually performing repetitive, routine tasks, human error can get in the way. Marketing automation systemizes activities, processes, and documentation, allowing for a smoother marketing workflow. For example, if a user subscribes to your blog, you can enable workflows to automatically send a welcome email suggesting articles or sharing a follow-up offer.

Similarly, abandoned-cart emails have become increasingly popular for ecommerce sites, which are sent to users who leave items in their online shopping cart, enticing them to come back and purchase what they may have forgotten about. With marketing automation, all of this is done on its own; no need to worry about manually sending out emails to your database.

 

4. Reap from “Big Picture” Data

Marketing automation tools show insight into your marketing KPIs (key performance indicators). Automated reports provide comprehensive analytics of your traffic, conversion rates, clicks, etc. all in one place.

These tools give you a big picture of your data and how everything works together, rather than forcing you to jump from platform to platform.

 

5. Enable Personalization

Marketing automation tools make personalizing content to your target personas easy. Incorporating customized elements, like adding an email recipient’s first name to an email introduction, make your emails appear more personal; as if they were sent specifically to them rather than to a large list. As a result, this drives higher open and engagement rates.

With marketing automation, personalized workflows are easy to set up, and deliver real results. By reaching the right person at the right time with the right message, you can customize your content to meet your personas needs and/or provide the solutions they’re looking for when they need them.

 

In Conclusion

In a nutshell, marketing automation helps streamline your marketing and sales process and gives you greater visibility into what your visitors and leads are actually doing online. By nurturing your prospects, you avoid the hard-sell approach in favor of content that is personalized, relevant and aligns with what our customers and prospects are looking for.

 

To learn more about how World Synergy can assist your organization with a strong marketing automation strategy, contact us.

The Benefits of NetSuite ERP

Lead with NetSuite ERP: the World’s #1 Cloud-Based ERP Software

If you are a high-growth organization, chances are you have been faced with the decision to choose a financial and accounting software that is fit for your company. Perhaps you are a startup looking at systems for the first time, or an organization that is unhappy with or has outgrown its current software. No matter the reason, it is inevitable that you will face the software selection process at least once. Therefore, you should have some background knowledge of the many different options that are available in order to choose the best one for your business.

In this blog, we will focus on NetSuite ERP – the world’s leading cloud-based ERP software. In today’s dynamically changing world, your business demands financial management solutions that are flexible, quick, and responsive. NetSuite ERP is a software that we recommend to all our clients and partners because it fits the wants the needs of all types and sizes of businesses – from small to mid-sized to enterprise. In fact, research shows that organizations using NetSuite experience the following benefits:

  • Reduce IT costs by 50% or more
  • Accelerate financial close by 20%-50%
  • Cut order-to-cash cycle by 50%+
  • Reduce audit preparation time by 50%
  • Reduce invoicing costs by 25%-75%

 

The Top 5 Benefits of Implementing NetSuite ERP:

 

1. NetSuite ERP is Integrated to Support All Other Functions of Your Organization

With an integrated approach, NetSuite encompasses an entire suite of solutions, tailored specifically for individual companies. From integrating your CRM and eCommerce to Inventory and Advanced Warehouse Management, Services Resource Planning, Human Resources, and Professional Services Automation, NetSuite has it all in one combined suite.

NetSuite ERP enables organizations to manage costs, optimize accounting efficiency, streamline order management and procurement processes, eliminate manual reporting, and improve overall business productivity. The deployment of a single system across an organization improves financial reporting and close times, employee productivity, and integrated complexity, which leads to an increase in proactive decision making across the business.

By integrating NetSuite ERP with all other operational opportunities, you no longer have to worry about procuring, installing, and maintaining multiple application systems and the integrations between them. This time and money saved over time can be pushed back into your organization to further improve your business operations.

 

2. NetSuite ERP Provides Real-Time Visibility to Make Timely and Informed Decisions

NetSuite dashboards provide data from all departments, so executives and employees can spend more time analyzing and acting on data and less time gathering it. The dashboard offers highly customizable reports, graphs, and snapshots, enabling you to drill down into information for deeper insight. You can access key performance indicators (KPIs), such as sales, forecast, orders, support, cases, accounts receivable, items to ship, and more, anytime and anywhere – which, as a result, allows you to accelerate your business decisions and sharpen your competitive edge.

 

3. NetSuite ERP Offers Workflow Automation to Standardize Processes

NetSuite ERP standardizes processes and automation of events to assist in ensuring that each customer engagement is managed and executed in a consistent manner. Workflow automation can help a company be proactive in customer management by identifying problems early and suggesting corrective action. Automating order management, fulfillment, invoicing, cash collection, expense approvals, and financial consolidation (just to name a few) enables you to avoid new hires that would otherwise be required to manage these processes, and redeploy staff to higher-value activities to help your business innovate and grow.

 

4. NetSuite ERP Scales to Assist Growing Companies

NetSuite ERP allows for the easy addition of both users and modules without any installation. With traditional on-premises software, companies need to purchase the highest user license count it might incur at any period. NetSuite, however, allows you to scale up your user count for busy periods and scale down when not needed. That means no consultants and no IT unless additional configuration or enhancements are needed – saving you further time and money on IT needs.

 

5. NetSuite ERP Provides a Platform for Enhanced Collaboration

For high-functioning service organizations, NetSuite ERP provides a platform for collaborating around projects, financials, and core responsibilities. Constant communication with clients and associates can improve service delivery by ensuring that expectations are met, and through the deployment of NetSuite’s customer center, you can ensure that clients have access to relevant information and are continually satisfied.

 

Interested in Learning More About How NetSuite ERP Can Help Leverage and Grow Your Business?

> Download: Scale Your Organization with NetSuite (NetSuite Overview)

As a NetSuite Solution Provider, our team of NetSuite experts customize, integrate, and manage NetSuite solutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Fill out the form below to contact our team of NetSuite Partner consultants or to set up a demo of NetSuite ERP:

5 Reasons to Take Your Website Mobile with a Responsive Website Design

Mobile devices have become the norm in recent years, forever changing the way people communicate, businesses sell, and technology accelerates.

For businesses, this means that having a responsive website design that is compatible with mobile devices is more important than ever.

The number of mobile device users rises every day, which, for businesses, means a larger audience to reach with a mobile-friendly website to showcase, market and sell products and services. As users become more and more accustom to using smartphones, having a mobile website (also known as responsive design) for your business gives you the opportunity to interact with your customers and engage them enough to encourage them to repeatedly visit and purchase items.

Here are 5 reasons to take your website mobile with a responsive website design:

 

1. Mobile is Where Your Customers Are – and It’s What They Expect.

A poor mobile presence can make your organization look unprofessional and out of touch with the modern consumer. Consumers now expect a seamless experience and brand consistency when accessing your website online with smartphones, and a responsive website design does just that.

With mobile device usage accounting for roughly 50% of all web page views worldwide, users are used to turning to their device to conduct online searches. In fact, studies show:

Your website is an extension of your brand – and often, the first touch-point your consumers have with your business. Having a responsive website design is the first step you can take to engage your audience and cater to their expectations.

 

2. Responsive Websites Provide a Flexible and Consistent User Experience

Responsive website design revises your standard website to have your layout respond accordingly to the type of device which the site is viewed on, from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers. Responsive websites customize and personalize the end user experience, in turn, enticing customers to click through your website with ease and efficiency.

A responsive site means no more pinching and zooming, and no more side-scrolling, to see an entire site that doesn’t fit on a mobile screen. And a better user experience reduces bounce rates, boosts website conversions and improves brand perception.

 

3. Mobile Websites Drive Sales

When your website is responsive, you are providing your users with an easy-to-use platform to learn more about your services and purchase products while they are on the go. This means you have the opportunity to reach them anywhere, at any time. In 2017, about 50% of mobile shoppers turn to smartphone or tablets for purchasing products because of convenience, and 46% opt for a mobile platform to save time.

Studies show that mobile users buy more than people who primarily use desktop computers. Mobile devices give people the power to be informed consumers who can use their phones to instantly read product reviews and compare brands, which removes second-guessing. Global mobile commerce revenue is forecast to increase from just over 170 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to nearly 694 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 – and there are no signs of spending slowing down.

 

4. Google Favors Responsive Websites

Back in 2015, Google announced new algorithms that favor responsive websites. Now, mobile-friendly websites rank higher in search results in efforts for Google to provide relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for all user devices.

This means that your website has a good chance of being displayed earlier and more often in Google’s search engine results if it loads faster, looks better resolution-wise, and is also easier to navigate on the user’s mobile device.

 

5. Responsive Websites Provide Easy Call-to-Actions

A mobile-friendly website gives your customers easy access to information on your organization right from their phone. You can include all details regarding your business on your website, giving your visitors easy access to your office or shop address, contact numbers, directions, maps and so on.

Additionally, you can make use of typically mobile-specific features such as location and click-to-call to your advantage. These details enable them to contact you with ease, without having to wait to get more details or to find a place that gives them access to the Internet. Large call-to-action buttons on your website allow users to contact you right from their phone – which, in turn, helps to grow leads and nurture sales.

 

Interested in implementing a mobile-friendly website for your organization? Learn more about our Custom Website and Application Development solutions, or Contact Us today.

Let’s Talk Turkey: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

As Americans sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, the most common food item found on dinner tables will be turkey.

In fact, according to the National Turkey Federation, nearly 90% of Americans eat the bird (whether roasted, baked or deep-fried) on Thanksgiving, which equates to 46 million turkeys eaten all for one Holiday!

With such a massive portion of our U.S. population enjoying a meal centered around turkey, it got us thinking about the term “talk turkey.”

WHY do we use this term, and where does it come from?

In our fast-paced world, we often find ourselves “talking turkey” – even when we don’t realize that we are. We’re quick to cut to the chase when we talk or send an email, speak in abbreviated terms and are even limited to the characters posted on Twitter – all because people are busy, the world moves fast, and our attention spans are only capable of absorbing so much.

So, where does the term “talk turkey” come from? Let’s start with the modern-day.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, “talk turkey” is defined as “to discuss something honestly and directly.”

Today the term “talk turkey” means to discuss something frankly and practically. When someone ‘talks turkey’ they get to the point and the term often refers to settling a business deal.

But that wasn’t always the case.

The origin of “talk turkey” is, at the earliest, recorded from colonial times. Dictionary entries from the 1800s show that the term was used in a variety of ways – and that “talking turkey” meant both talking about something pleasant (possibly referring to the dinner conversations that occur during a Thanksgiving feast) and talking in a silly manner (like the weird way turkey’s walk and act).

Historical accounts suggest the modern meaning of the phrase came about from the day-to-day bartering between colonists and Indians over wild turkeys. An account of the tale comes from an 1837 article in the Niles’ Weekly Register where a local Indian man and a colonial man bargain over a turkey and crow, only to shut the bargain down fast when they began to disagree. The swift and quick message behind the term was used to cut the bartering short and to-the-point – which is how we now use it in modern day conversation.

This Thanksgiving, we hope you take the time for your friends, family, left-overs, and, of course, turkey. Don’t just talk it, enjoy it!

Your Guide to Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage with buyers today.

Now the status quo in a business’ digital presence, the modern internet user expects to see their favorite brands on social media – which provides an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of. Social media marketing offers marketers the ability to engage with their buyers across the entire customer lifecycle, on the platforms they actively tune in to for information.

So, it’s important you know how to leverage social media marketing to build your brand, drive demand, and engage your buyer. Which is why we have put together this guide to help you get started. Let’s get started.

 

1. Understand Why Social Media Marketing Important

According to eMarketer, in 2017, 2.46 billion individuals (or 1/3rd of the global population) and 71% of internet users will access social networks at least once a month, up 8.2% from 2016.

Because it’s universally used by consumers and brands, social media is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) channels to connect with your audience. Social media platforms provide an outlet for you to promote your business culture, promote products and services, share organizational updates, post job opportunities, practice customer service, engage with clients, fans, prospects – you name it. The opportunities to showcase your business are endless – and it has become critical that your brand understands how to leverage social media to your advantage, so you can connect with the right audience, in the right way, at the right time.

Here are some key benefits of keeping an effective and interactive social media presence:

Drive Brand Awareness & Preference

Social media is an important channel to reach large audiences and develop their awareness, recognition, and sentiment for your brand. According to Global Web Index, more than a third of users seek out brands on social media – using social platforms to engage with brands that they already like, research products and services for purchase, obtain customer service, and write or evaluate reviews.

Increase Demand and Generate Leads

Social media offers an outlet to develop offers, promotions, contests, and content that engages audiences, drives conversions, and accelerates purchases.

SEO Benefits

Social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to push out your content. The incoming links from your social media shares can impact your website visitor activity and engagement, and if your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines.

Omni-Channel Campaigns 

Social media marketing is most effective when its messages and content support and reinforce those on other marketing channels. Coordinated messages across channels (including social media) allow marketers to carry on a continuous conversation over time with their audience.

Networking and Peer-To-Peer Influence

Word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations are an extremely powerful way to increase brand visibility through social proof, as people believe their network of peers more often than a branded campaign. According to a McKinsey Study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

 

2. Develop a Winning Social Media Strategy

Jumping into a social media for your business can be overwhelming. You know your organization needs one – but you don’t know enough to push out a winning plan of attack for your business. Creating a social media strategy will help keep you organized, concise, and touching your target audience with the right content.

Here’s what you need to know to begin building out a winning social media strategy:

Understand Your Audience (Build Personas)

Before you effectively write to someone, you need to first know who they are. So before jumping into building out a social media strategy, take the time to understand your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Building out personas will help you paint a picture of who your target audience really is.

Map Your Goals to the Customer LifeCycle

As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to define your goals. To do this, we recommend identifying your social media marketing goals for each stage of the customer lifecycle (awareness, engagement, purchase, retention, growth, advocacy). Doing this creates a foundation for a solid social media strategy that’s flexible enough to react to an individual’s buyer journey while also providing a roadmap for you, to determine which platforms, messages, and offers make sense for your buyer.

Creating Content for Social Media

In today’s day and age, content is King. If you want to grow your social media presence and hit your different objectives, you need to create content that maps to each stage of the customer lifecycle and aligns with your buyers’ expectations on each social channel. Here are some tips to get started:

Define your writing style – Based on your defined personas, you should have a solid understanding of the tone, style, and delivery strategies to use for each platform.

Create a variety of content – No matter your business type or your audience, you will want to make sure you have the following mixed into your content strategy: Whitepapers, Tip sheets/checklists, Blog posts, Infographics, Photos and videos, Fun visual content (such as memes), and Slideshows.

Use visuals to your advantage – Social audiences love visual content, so make sure you are consistently using images and videos in your posts. We recommend that every post you put on your social profiles has some sort of an image or video included. Visual images appeal to viewer’s emotions, creates intimacy and helps humanize your company. According to Buffer, visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

 

3. Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

There are many different social media platforms you can utilize to reach and engage with your audience. Choosing the right social media platforms comes down to asking, “Where are my customers?” If they are on certain platforms more than others, it makes sense to allocate time and resources towards that platform over others, because the chances of reaching them are that much higher. Keep your audience and objectives in mind as you choose which social media platforms to focus on.

We’ve broken down a few of the most popular platforms for business – and what you need to know to get started with each:

Facebook

According to Pew Research Center, there are more than 1.59 billion active users and 1.44 billion active mobile users on Facebook every month. And it’s only growing. Facebook is an essential tool to connect with your buyers – because the vast majority of every type of buyer is somehow involved with the platform.

A Facebook Page for your company has many benefits: it makes your business discoverable in Facebook search, allows you to connect one-on-one with your followers, helps you reach large groups, and gives you deeper insights into your audience. But to accomplish this, businesses need to strike the critical balance of offering content that is relevant and adds value, with content that just plain entertains. For your Facebook posts, be sure to have a mix of fun, ungated (without a form as a barrier) content as well as more educational, gated content and promotions. Promoting company culture spikes engagement on the platform, as well as using images and videos to enhance product offering and drive users back to your website.

Below are tips to get started with Facebook:

Facebook Tips:

  • We suggest posting 5-10 posts per week on your Company page to stay relevant in user’s newsfeeds.
  • The best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm.
  • Verify your Facebook page to ensure users that your brand page is active. Verification also helps pull your page towards the top of search results. (Follow the steps to verify here – it only takes a few minutes to submit the request!)
  • Use Facebook’s link format on your posts to point to a landing page on your website.
  • Incorporate Live Video into your posts to engage your audience in the moment.

Twitter 

Twitter has over 320 million monthly active users, with 80% of them on mobile. Additionally, it drives 1 billion unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets. Twitter has become an optimal network for thought leadership growth and development, and has become a huge hub for breaking news, business service promotions, and customer service and fan engagement. Building your following on Twitter is a key activity that drives awareness and engagement success on the social network, and by following accounts and companies of interest, you can reach and engage with the right audience in real-time.

Twitter Tips:

  • We suggest tweeting at least 5 times per day to increase following and engagement.
  • The best times to Tweet are Monday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm.
  • Keep your tweets short, sweet, and to the point
  • Create and utilize hashtags for events and all other posts.
  • Include a relevant link to posts.
  • Add visuals to your posts to draw maximum engagement

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories. LinkedIn Company pages can showcase products, employee networks, blog posts, upcoming events, and status updates, making the social network a highly targeted advertising solution and publishing platform. It’s important to note that because LinkedIn is a professional network, your content mix and tone should aim to be professional and engaging. We’ve found that because users are on LinkedIn mostly for professional purposes, educational posts perform very well.

LinkedIn Tips:

  • We suggest posting once a day to LinkedIn (at a minimum, 20 times per month).
  • The best times to post on LinkedIn are on Monday – Friday, 6am – 12pm.
  • Encourage employees to participate on LinkedIn by liking, sharing, and commenting on your posts so it appears in their follower’s newsfeeds – furthering your reach for free.
  • Treat and optimize your LinkedIn page for SEO – include your top keywords in your company description and specialties to see a real impact on search results.
  • LinkedIn’s algorithm for post-appearance is different than other networks. LinkedIn has implemented a four-step process for content distribution across its network as a way to reduce the spread of spam or inappropriate content – to better understand how this works, read more about it here.

YouTube

YouTube has over a billion users – making it the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. Your video titles should be customer-centric and descriptive so that users can easily find your content when they search, and your video description should be two or three sentences that include targeted keywords. 5-7 tags are optimal and will ensure your video is associated with other videos that use the same tags so they can appear as a “related video” when users are viewing other videos.

YouTube Tips:

  • Use a keyword-rich description since this section represents the meta data that is searched by Google.
  • Post new videos on a consistent basis so that users feel like it’s worthwhile to subscribe to your channel.
  • Include calls-to-action in your videos, asking viewers to subscribe or visit a link directed to your website.

Instagram 

With more than 500 million active monthly users, Instagram has a very active user base. With Facebook’s acquisition of the platform, the platform has become increasingly popular for marketers to touch, and many brands use it to showcase their products and engage their audience through posts, contests, and giveaways. Post photos and videos that give your audience personal insight into the inner circle or workings of your product or company; you can use Instagram to share interesting quotes and fun visuals, capture event and office culture photos, and run contests to engage followers and show them the human side of your organization.

Instagram Tips:

  • We suggest posting at least 3 times per week on Instagram.
  • The best time to post on Instagram is Monday – Friday, 12pm – 1pm.
  • Identify the hashtags that fit your business and product and incorporate them into every post.
  • Use Instagram Stories to post more frequently without overwhelming your audience.
  • Tag and use the location feature on images to reach a larger audience.

 

social media best times to post

 

4. Take Advantage of Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising has become a necessity for marketers to allocate spend towards due to the size and quality of audiences on the leading social networks. eMarketer reports that in 2017, social network ad spending will reach $35.98 billion worldwide. Advertising on social media helps increase impressions, clicks, and conversions in an effort to drive brand awareness and sales – hence why organizations are willing to spend money on these otherwise-free platforms.

The hype here is the way that social media platforms have configured their algorithms for what shows (and what doesn’t show) in newsfeeds. Your organization’s posts are likely not making it to the forefront of people’s feeds – unless you are pushing money behind it – in an effort of the social platform to decrease noise on newsfeeds. So, if you are not currently boosting your social posts, your followers are likely never seeing your post, unless they visit your page.  As marketers increasingly spend more on social platforms, it’s more important than ever to have the right strategy in place, track all of your paid social campaigns, and gain insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Our clients frequently ask us how much spend should be allocated towards advertising on social media. And our answer is always that it depends – and that it takes time, testing, and tracking to find a budget that works best for your business.

To help guide you – below is a breakdown per channel on how you can leverage advertisements and boosted content on social:

Facebook

You can spend as little as $5 per day on Facebook advertising and see significant results. For small to medium-sized businesses, this could be a good start.

Learn more about advertising on Facebook – [Buffer] The Complete, Always-Updated Guide to Facebook Advertising

LinkedIn

For every $5/day spent on Facebook, we recommend increasing 3x for LinkedIn – meaning starting off at a minimum $15/day and then working your way up. Especially for B2B organizations, the quality of audience on LinkedIn typically out-weighs the quality of audience reached on Facebook – so you may spend more, but in efforts to reach a more relevant audience.

Learn more about advertising on LinkedIn – [LinkedIn] How to Advertise on LinkedIn

Twitter

There is no general suggested budget for Twitter – this varies entirely on the type of promotion you choose to run on Twitter and the bid you put in place.

Learn more about advertising on Twitter – [HootSuite] How to Use Twitter Ads: The Complete Guide for Business

Instagram

Experts suggest experimenting with $5/day on Instagram ads to start. While Instagram ads cost less for impressions and clicks, Facebook ads have higher click-through rate.

Learn more about advertising on Instagram – [Buffer] The Complete Guide to Instagram Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram

 

5. Avoid these Social Media Pitfalls

As you plan your social media goals, strategy, and activities, it’s important to avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Don’t go in without goals: You need to establish your objectives, goals, and ways to measure success.
  • Don’t just brag or sell: Endless self-promotion will alienate your audience and irritate existing customers.
  • Don’t overlook measuring your ROI: There are concrete ways to measure your impact (outlined above) and they need to be tracked.
  • Don’t assume every social media site is good for your business: It’s critical to understand how and when your buyers are using social media. Social media requires you to actively engage with your audience and can be a resource drain if you’re on too many channels.
  • Don’t create a presence on a social site and then abandon it: Creating a presence means finding and building engagement with your audience. It’s a continuous process that takes time but is well worth the effort.

 

Growing your brand with social media takes time, testing, patience, and tracking and reporting. For the full social media report, download Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can help grow your business with social media, Contact Us.

Veterans Day 2017

What Veterans Day Means to Our Team.

Today and every day we are thankful for those who have dedicated years of their lives to serve and fight for our freedom, safety, and country.

At World Synergy, we feel especially thankful for the members of our team who hold service close to their hearts. We sat down with a few members of our team who are proud veterans to gain a better understanding of what Veterans Day means to them.

 

 

1. What division of the military did you serve in?

Troy: U.S. Army.

John: U.S. Army.

Arthur: U.S. Navy.

 

2. Number of years of service?

Troy: 5 years.

John: 21 years.

Arthur: 4 years.

 

3. What was your rank?

Troy: Sergeant/E5.

John: SSG – E6.

Arthur: Petty Officer Second Class.

 

4. While you were active, what was your job/duties — what type of work did you perform?

Troy: 73 Delta – Accounting and finance.

John: Construction Engineering / Demolition and Explosive Expert.

Arthur: I was an Information Systems Technician at Riverine Squadron 4. We conducted security operations throughout coastal areas and on rivers throughout the world. As an Information Systems Technician, I was responsible for operating and maintaining the radio communications systems, and the mobile network systems that supported our missions.

 

5. While you were active, what was your favorite or most meaningful place traveled?

Troy: I originally was stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma for one year.  Then I spent the next 4 years stationed in Bamberg, Germany where I was deployed to Poland, Iceland, Greenland, Bosnia, and Kuwait.

John: Nicaragua – it was a humbling experience to visit a 3rd world Country. You gain a better vision of just how good our lives are even on our worst days compared to the lives that many of these people live.

Arthur: During my 4 years, I spent my time throughout the Middle East. What will always stick out to me is being able to experience other cultures entirely. By experiencing other cultures I gained a deeper appreciation for human life and the little things we tend to take for granted living in our country.

 

6. Did your military experience influence your thinking about the military in general?

Troy: The military gave me a great foundation.  I’m always grateful for the things I learned and continue to apply them today.

John: Yes, you gain a very different view as to what the military does and how it works.  The bonds that are built and friendships that are made.

Arthur: I consider anyone who is serving or has served as my second family. I formed unbreakable bonds with everyone who I served with and it extends to any new veteran I meet.

 

7. What does being a veteran mean to you?

Troy: Being a veteran means a lot – I still have close friends in the service.  It’s an honor to serve and be a part of a special family.

John: Being a veteran means that I chose to do what not everyone is willing to or can do, for my family, my friends, my country and for myself.  A time in my life I can look back on say “Yes, I am proud of the time I gave”.

Arthur: Being a veteran means extreme sacrifice by yourself and your family. It means that you still get goosebumps during the national anthem. It means that even though your body is riddled with aches and pains, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Why? Because you love this country of ours and are proud of it. Proud of our past, present, and future military members and the sacrifices that they have made to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

 

On behalf of the World Synergy team, thank you to all who have served and currently serve for the freedom of our country!

The Benefits of Managed IT Support vs. Traditional Block Hours

Every organization needs some sort of IT support.

No matter your industry, the business world as we know it today runs on technology – which is only becoming more and more advanced. And for those who do not live and breathe IT day-to-day, keeping up with IT changes, updates, and development is nearly impossible.

Small to medium-sized businesses have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to the type of IT support they need in order to care for their IT requirements. So the question comes down to, what is out there – and what type is best for your organization?

 

Managed IT Services vs. Block Hours

The most common types of business IT support are In-House Support, Managed IT Service Providers, and Block Hours support (otherwise known as Break-Fix support). For those who choose not to hire an in-house IT team, this leaves organizations with two types of outsourced support to consider – each with their own benefits, depending on how much your business relies on your IT systems being operational.

Managed IT Service Providers and Block Hours support function differently, so before jumping into a service plan, it’s important to understand the differences.

The biggest difference between Managed IT Service Providers and Block Hours support is how the IT team typically reacts to your need for support.

 

Managed IT Service Providers

Managed IT Service Providers can be viewed as an off-site, in-house IT team. Managed IT Service Providers use the time and resources needed to dig into your organization and understand your underlying goals, strategy, and growth plan to move your organization forward with technology. They are strategic partners who typically work near your office location to have easy access to in-house support, and have the expertise for everything; from high-level strategic decision making about your IT infrastructure to setting up the network and computers for a new office.

Managed IT Service Providers typically have teams of IT experts who are dedicated to client accounts (who we call ‘Net Admin Teams’) and are equipped to stay on top of your IT needs and to make experienced recommendations about software and applications, all tailored for your business. Patches are done on time, backups aren’t missed or forgotten, security is managed, and everything is tested on an ongoing basis. Dedicated HelpDesk teams are typically available for emergency needs and any given IT support with the submission of a ticket.

Monthly plan fees are traditionally how Managed IT Service Provider quote out services, which is based on the number of devices you have that require maintenance, back up, and support. Having a fixed cost helps to plan for IT budgeting year over year. Depending on the nature of your contract, the costs can be considerably lower than that of a break-fix model, because problems are monitored and detected early, fix support is not billed hourly, and strategic plans are made to help prevent any future errors. Not to mention, many of the software and tool costs for updates (i.e. moving to a cloud platform) are included in a managed services monthly contract, which alone can be a significant cost saving outlet.

 

Block Hours Support

Traditional Block Hours support functions as a team of local experts who are ready to solve your IT problems when they occur. Block Hours support is typically a reactive support model where you contact your dedicated IT team when something goes wrong or is not working as expected. Often, there are some proactive elements in place that will alert the IT support company when a problem occurs, so you don’t have to worry about it – however these are normally picked up at the time the event happens, or if overnight not responded to until the following morning, which leaves problems just waiting to be fixed, as opposed to caught before it ever occurred.

Like the name, Block Hours support is billed and paid based on hours of support needed and used by your organization – otherwise described as a “pay as you go” model. Most IT services companies who offer a break-fix model will contract a certain dollar amount per hour, often with a set hour minimum service call. You can often qualify for discounts if you purchase a block of hours in advance, and can ask them for quotes on individual projects which will vary depending on the scope of work required.

This offers a low-cost entry in IT support and access to a HelpDesk only when your team really needs it. This model can suit much smaller companies who do not rely on their IT systems being operational to run their business and who do not value the security and proactive strategy that comes with a Managed IT Service Provider. Unknown costs for “break-fix” model contracts can be a concern for organizations with un-planned IT budgets and depending on how extreme the problem, can quickly exhaust an IT budget.

 

What is Best For Your Organization

If your company requires your IT systems to be up and running in order to properly serve your clients and maintain your day-to-day functions, then a Managed Service Provider may be a better choice. With a proactive mindset, a trusted Managed Service Partner’s job is to serve in your best interest while providing 24/7 IT support. Managed Service Providers help to keep costs low, problems at a minimum, and your IT updated and moving your business forward.

On the other hand, for organizations who do not rely on upgraded technology and are content with a reactive IT approach, a “pay as you go” model would make sense. These IT providers often provide 24/7 support as well through the nature of a HelpDesk.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can be your trusted Managed Service Provider, Contact Us.

 

What You Need To Know: WPA2 WiFi Security Flaw

Key Information on The Attack That Works Against All Modern Protected WiFi Networks.

On October 16th, 2017,  the world became aware of a key flaw in the WPA2 WiFi encryption protocol that could allow hackers to intercept your credit card numbers, passwords, photos and other sensitive information. The flaws, dubbed “Key Reinstallation Attacks,” or “Krack Attacks,” may be “particularly devastating,” according to KU Leuven University’s Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens, who found the flaw.

Here is what you need to know at this time about the attack:

 

What The Threat Is

News was released this week that in an academic paper from KU Leuven, a researcher discovered an exploit in all versions of WPA and WPA2 protocols, which manages all modern wireless networks currently supported. The exploit allows traffic read locally to be decrypted, meaning all network traffic can be read clearly back and forth from wireless.

What this means is that normally encrypted data like passwords and credit card numbers can be logged. However, this attack requires physical access to the network, so it would only be possible in extremely targeted attacks at this time. Click here to learn more about how the attack works.

 

Who Is Impacted

This exploit has been proven in the wild for Mac/Linux and Android devices and we expect the vulnerability to be available with iOS and Microsoft products. However, no iOS or Windows exploits have been found yet, only in a lab.

 

The Solution

At this time, Wireless manufacturers and PC/Phone/device manufacturers are working to correct the issue via a firmware upgrade. Currently, there are no patches available.

For those who are in a managed services contract with us: we will be patching as soon as a solution presents itself. You will be hearing a lot of news about this exploit. Please know that we are aware of the issue, the issue requires physical access to the network before it can be utilized, and we will resolve this as soon as a resolution becomes available.

 

Additional Resources

 

Please contact us if you have any additional questions or concerns.

7 Critical Cybercrime Security Protections for Your Business

What are you doing to protect your business data?

Cybercrime is at an all-time high, and hackers are setting their sights on small and medium-sized businesses. As more businesses utilize cloud computing and mobile devices and store more information online, the more businesses are putting themselves at risk.

Consider how many times a day you enter usernames and passwords to log into accounts on your computer, laptop, cell phone, tablet – the list goes on. Do you ever think about the security of keeping these accounts safe? What are you doing to keep yourself and your business safe from hacker attacks?

If you are a small to mid-sized company, you are being targeted by hackers from all around the world. What can you do today to begin making your online security a priority for your organization?

To help you get started in protecting your business, your employees, and your customers from cybercrime, we’ve outlined 7 IT and network security measures to consider.

 

Here are 7 cyber security measures to practice as you continue to grow your business:

1. Educate Yourself and Your Employees

Almost all security breaches in business are due to an employee clicking, downloading or opening a file that’s infected, either on a website or in an email; once a hacker gains entry, they use that person’s email and/or access to infect all the other PCs on the network.

Phishing emails (emails cleverly designed to look like legitimate messages from a website or vendor you trust) is still a very common occurrence – and spam filtering and anti-virus cannot protect your network if an employee is clicking on and downloading the virus.

 

2. Require Strong Passwords

Keep your network and data safe with a secure password. Passwords should be at least 8 characters and contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols and at least one number. On a cell phone, requiring a passcode to be entered will go a long way toward preventing a stolen device from being compromised.

 

3. Keep Your Network and Devices Up-to-Date

New vulnerabilities are frequently found in common software programs you are using, such as Adobe, Flash or QuickTime; therefore it’s critical you update your systems and applications when one becomes available. If you’re under a managed IT plan, this can all be automated for you so you don’t have to worry about missing an important update.

 

4. Have an In-Place Backup

A good, automated, and monitored backup will protect you against an employee deleting or overwriting files, natural disasters, fire, water damage, hardware failures and a host of other data-erasing disasters. Prepare your network for an unexpected disaster with this disaster recovery checklist.

 

5. Monitor Personal Devices

The use of personal and mobile devices in the workplace is increasingly popular, and, thanks to the convenience of cloud computing, you and your employees can gain access to pretty much any type of company data remotely; all it takes is a known username and password.

Your biggest danger with cloud computing is that one of your employees accesses a critical cloud application via a personal device that is infected, thereby giving a hacker access to your data and cloud application. To help protect against hackers, encourage using company-owned and monitored devices, and never allow employees to access work-related files, cloud applications and e-mail on personal devices or public WiFi.

 

6. Invest in a Good Firewall

A firewall acts as the front line defense against hackers, blocking everything you haven’t specifically allowed to enter (or leave) your computer network. All firewalls need regular monitoring and maintenance, just like all devices on your network or they are completely useless. This too should be done by your IT person or company as part of their regular, routine maintenance.

 

7. Protect your Bank Account

Your company’s bank account doesn’t enjoy the same protections as a personal bank account – meaning you are more liable for the protection of it. If a hacker takes money from your business account, the bank is not responsible for getting your money back. Make sure you are regularly monitoring your accounts and have a trustworthy source of protection.

 

Interested in learning more, or need help implementing these 7 security protections? Contact us.

Seminar Planning Guide: 5 Steps to Achieve a Successful Seminar

In today’s fast-paced world, the need for quick learning has grown tremendously.

People seek short yet substantial pieces of information delivered in a timely manner, and rather than digging through hundreds of pages of research material or sitting through a full-semester class, an easy way to gain valuable information is to join industry experts as they discuss topics of interest in a seminar.

Seminars are a cost-efficient and effective way for companies to reach out to their target customers and/or industry partners, and when done right, can be a great lead-generating mechanism.

 

Here are 5 steps to achieving a successful and smooth-running seminar:

√ Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why
√ Prepare a Registration Process
√ Develop an Outreach Strategy
√ Prepare for the Presentation
√ Develop a Follow-Up Strategy

 

Step 1: Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why of Your Seminar

Planning a seminar requires time, attention, and strategy. By determining the who, what, where, when, and why of your seminar, you will take the appropriate steps to develop out and clarify the objectives and strategy of the seminar.

1a.) The WHY – Clarify the Objective
Why are you holding this seminar? What is the objective? Is it to educate current clients? Is it to generate new clients? Is it to establish your business as thought leaders? Is it to reinforce your image as subject matter experts? The answers to these questions should impact the steps you make to put on and perform an effective and successful seminar.

1b.) The WHAT – Choose a Topic
With an objective in mind, now you can choose a topic. For example, if the objective is to establish your business as a thought leader, your topic should be innovative, educational, and presented with research and well-rounded perspectives on topics that pertain to your field of business. Whereas if the objective is to educate current customers, your topic should be one that answers many of the questions your customers may have now, or how your field of business may impact them.

1c.) The WHO – Identify the Target Audience and Presenter(s)
Identifying your target audience is important in order to properly identify personas and the voice you use to present your seminar. Is your seminar geared towards CEOs, CFOs, HR Directors, small business, large business, manufacturing facilities, educators, municipalities, etc.? Be as specific as possible when identifying your audience. This will determine how you reach your audience and your seminar presentation.

Once you have the topic and target audience, you must choose your presenter(s). Make sure your presenter is well-educated on the seminar topic, comfortable speaking to the identified target audience, well-respected in the industry, and able to provide general information on all areas of the field.

1d.) The WHEN – Pin Down a Time Slot
Once you have the topic and presenter(s) identified, the next step is to identify a time period that will allocate enough time to cover your topic and objective and appeal to your target audience. Make sure to allocate enough time at the end for Q&A and meet-and-greets.

1e.) The WHERE – Secure a Location
Keeping the objective and audience in mind, you need to find a location for your seminar. If this seminar’s primary purpose is to educate current clients, choosing a location that will be centrally located to your client base is imperative. If the objective is to generate new clients, choosing a location that would appeal to the geographic area in which you are targeting would be better.

 

Step 2: Prepare a Registration Process to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar

After you identify the objectives and tactics of the seminar, the next step is to prepare a clear registration process, setting the stage to drive attendees to your seminar.

2a.) Create a Registration Landing Page
To prepare for online registration, create an online registration page with a memorable URL to send your audience to (for example, www.yourwebsite.com/seminar).

On the landing page, include:

  • A compelling description of the seminar
  • The date, time, and location of the seminar
  • A brief introduction of the presenter(s) and presenter(s) credentials
  • A registration form with predetermined fields (including Name, Company, Email, and Phone Number)

2b.) Set Up a Registration Confirmation Email
Set up a registration confirmation email to be triggered and sent right after the attendee registers for the seminar. The confirmation email should include the seminar location, time, and date of the event. Include an “add to calendar” link to make sure registrants don’t forget about your event.

2c.) Prepare a Reminder Follow-Up Process
To increase your registration-to-attendance ratios, create a process to stay in front of your registrants and remind them of their commitment in the days leading up to the event. This process could include sending a reminder email and/or giving registrants a phone call to check in and make sure they are set to attend, and all pre-seminar questions have been answered.

 

Step 3: Develop an Outreach Strategy to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar

To drive people to attend your seminar, you need to perform certain efforts to get the seminar information in front of possible attendees. This strategy will be heavily influenced by your objective. For example, if the seminar is targeted at current clients, reaching that audience should be simple because you have their contact information. However, if your objective is to reach out to prospects, creating a strategy to get an invitation in front of that audience will be critical to your seminar’s success.

Based on your target audience, the channels you use to reach them will vary. Set realistic expectations, or invest in the resources needed to accomplish the task.

3a.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Predetermined List or Current Connections
In order to get your message in front of a determined list or current connections, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:

Email Marketing – Create an email marketing campaign to get in front of your target audience and promote your seminar with seminar details. Email the invitation on its own, sending registrants to the registration page. Also include a snippet and link to the registration page in all other monthly emails (i.e. Newsletter, etc.).

Social Media – Post the link to your seminar registration page to your company’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages along with a catchy caption to drive traffic to the page.

Direct Mail Campaigns – Depending on your budget, list, target audience, and objectives, a direct mail campaign with promotional literature could be in order. Include your seminar registration URL in all marketing material.

Telemarketing – If you can invest in the resources to launch a telemarketing campaign, this can be effective in helping to reach out to prospects when you have only the company phone number and name of the person you are targeting.

3b.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Larger Audience
To get your seminar registration page in front of a larger audience who are not on your email or telemarketing lists or connected with your brand on social media, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:

Press Release – Digital distribution channels can be effective mediums for distributing your Press Release on your upcoming seminar and can help increase website search traffic.

Promoted Social Media Advertisements – To maximize the post reach and promote your seminar to people who may not directly like your company page, promoting posts through social advertising and boosted posts will help you reach a larger percentage of your target market’s social feeds. Encouraging other team members to share the post to their personal pages and invite their personal network to the seminar will do the same.

Partners or Co-Sponsors – Do you have a current partner or center of influence that could help with their distribution list? For example, if you’re targeting CEOs with your message, considering partnering with a bank, accounting firm, law firm, etc. that will co-sponsor the event and either give you access to their client list or send out the invitation via their own distribution method.

Utilize Associations – Gather a list of all local associations whose members would likely fall into your target market. For example, if your audience is attorneys, your local Bar Association has members that fall into this category. Determine how to utilize the associations to distribute your seminar information. Can you place an ad on their website? Can they add your seminar to their next permission email marketing? Work with all applicable associations to distribute your message.

 

Step 4: Prepare for the Seminar Presentation

As you are driving attendees to register for your seminar, you should be finalizing details on your presentation and how you will run your seminar.

4a.) Prepare an Agenda – and Stick with It
To stay organized and keep your audience focused, develop and share an agenda that outlines the seminar objectives and key points.

4b.) Create a Visual and Audience-Appropriate Presentation
Depending on who your target audience is, the theme of your presentation may vary. As your presentation is crafted, make sure it is clear, visible, and easy to follow. It is important to speak to the voice of your target audience’s persona throughout the presentation to relate back to them and make them feel comfortable.

4c.) Test the Presentation with Multiple Run-Throughs
Once the presentation is set, schedule time for run-throughs with the presenter(s). Practice makes perfect, so schedule as many run-throughs as needed until the presentation runs smooth and all technology devices are working properly.

4d.) Provide Printed Hand-Outs and Materials
Provide a printed hard-copy of your presentation along with any other marketing materials to enhance the takeaway of your seminar. Providing your audience with pieces they can leave the seminar with creates one more touch point to stay in front of them.

 

Step 5: Develop a Strong Post-Seminar Follow-Up Strategy

Seminars take a lot of strategic planning and execution, so when your event is over, it’s important to follow up with all who attended. You can use this time to deepen the relationship with everyone who signed up.

5a.) Provide a Post-Seminar Survey
Preparing a post-seminar survey questionnaire is a good way to gather feedback on your seminar and how you can better your seminar for next time. Putting the survey on the tables of the seminar location provides easy access for the audience to take the survey and turn it in at the time of the seminar.

5b.) Schedule a Follow-Up Thank You Email
The attendees of your seminar took the time out of their busy schedules to come and learn from you – so make sure you reach out to them to thank them for attending. Doing so in a relative amount of time after the seminar is another touch-point to stay in front of attendees, and is an outlet to provide a call-to-action if you are looking to take next steps with certain attendees.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can assist your organization with a successful seminar, contact us.