It is the festive holiday season and a busy month for marketers. But once the December shopping rush comes to a slow down after Christmas and companies take a short break from marketing campaigns, many of us will also take a break and spend time with loved ones.

The holidays are a great way to rest and spend quality time with family and friends. But it is also a good time to catch up on some holiday reading. You can make the most out of your free time by reading awesome digital marketing books that can help you jumpstart your marketing strategy for 2016.

We made a list! And here’s the top 10 marketing books we recommend for your holiday reading this season.

1. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Published in 1999, you would think insights in this book would not be relevant to the present digital age. Well, this is considered the foundation of today’s content marketing and social media best practices. In his book, Seth Godin speaks about the power of permission marketing in developing customer trust and more effectively build long-term relationships.

2. The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter

Users are overloaded with content in various online channels. It’s a competitive digital world. Getting noticed and capturing an audience are goals every online marketer aim for. In the “Power of Visual Storytelling”, Ekaterina Walter delivers best practices and examples on how to use visuals, videos, and social media to grab the attention of users and market your brand effectively.

3. Global Content Marketing by Pam Didner

Do you want to make it big and go global with your content marketing campaigns? Pam Didner takes you through a step-by-step process on developing strategies to engage the global audience with cross-regional content marketing. Will you take the global leap in 2016? This book might just be your gateway to go global.

4. The Big Data-Driven Business by Russell Glass and Sean Callahan

Big data is a powerful source of insights about your customers, their buying behavior and more. Authors Russell Glass and Sean Callahan offer real-life examples, expert advice, and a comprehensive guide to win customers, beat competitors, and boost profit by using big data for your business.

Whether you’re a small business or a multi-national enterprise, data-driven campaigns can bring you closer and faster to achieving your business goals. Learn more in this book.

5. The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki

In the Art of Social Media, you will find a collection of best practices and tips that you can immediately apply to your current and future social media campaigns. A good part of this book discusses the real struggles of online marketers today, something many of us can relate to. This book by Guy Kawasaki is a must-read for any digital marketer.

6. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer

A well-received book by New York Time’s bestseller Jay Baer, Youtility is a genuine approach to marketing helping not selling. Read examples of businesses that have used this approach and improved their strategy. The best realization is that selling can get you a customer today while helping can create a loyal customer who will be happy to purchase again and again, thus developing trust in your brand.

7. Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses by Joe Pulizzi

In his latest book, Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi takes you through a radical six-step business development process that challenges outdated traditional marketing models. In today’s digital age where content is what drives your marketing campaign, Pulizzi shares examples of failures and success to help you start a new business or innovate an existing one. For content marketers looking for an unconventional approach, this might just be the book for you.

8. Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard

Measuring the ROI of your social media tactics is one thing you can take away from Olivier BlanchardSocial Media ROI. You’ll learn ways to maximize your budget and create profitable and sustainable strategies for your social media campaigns. Startups and big businesses can both benefit from Blanchard’s book, which aims to align social campaigns and business goals through a well-defined measurement plan.

9. All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin

Either you’re put off by the title or you are left curious enough that you just have to grab a copy. Here is another interesting read by Seth Godin, discussing the importance of telling a story and one that resonates to your audience and can become true.

In marketing and advertising, it is easy to create and tell a riveting story about your product or brand for the purpose of earning a sale. But when stories become untrue and the hype dies down, people will talk about it and your brand can get the bad rap.

The Internet has made it easy for users to add reviews, talk about brands and engage others with the same experience. Misleading customers is the best recipe for a marketing fail, and Seth Godin emphasizes authenticity in marketing.

10. Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers by Jeffrey K. Rohrs

Last but not the least is a book by Jeffrey K. Rohrs discussing the importance of building your media assets and increasing your engagement reach for the long term. The focus is on audience development and creating lasting and profitable relationships that will help you gain considerable advantage from competitors.

Marketers struggling with engagement can really learn from the examples and practical tips provided by Rohrs in this book.

Do you have any digital marketing books to recommend? We hope this list can bring you closer to success in 2016. Good luck and happy holidays!

To set up your own small business online, you need a web hosting service. While there are many platforms available today with many features and add-ons, choosing the best service will not only get you up and running in no time but cater to your requirements for the long term.

Here are 10 features to look for in a web hosting service to help you make an informed decision and find the right service that you can rely on for years.

1. 24/7 Support

For most websites, downtime means loss of revenue. That is something every business owner must avoid. So when critical issues arise, you would need accessible and reliable support to fix those issues in the fastest time possible. An example of the use of this function can serve sites of uk online casinos, for which the attendance of players is very important. This feature provides round-the-clock support to players and helps to resolve contentious issues. Go for a web hosting service that offers 24/7 support.

2. Reliable Backup

Your data is critical to your operations. Just think about the awful feeling of accidentally closing a word document and losing pages and pages of content you didn’t save. For your website, this will be ten times worse.

Look for a web hosting service that will provide adequate backup. A reliable hosting must have a good disaster recovery plan to ensure your data is secure.

3. Add-ons

While cheap hosting rates can entice you to sign up for the service right away, make sure you first to take the time to learn about the features included and NOT included. Why? Well, you may pay a small price for the basic service but have to pay more for every little add-on feature or tool you will require. You might as well pay for the reasonable price that includes the requirements you are after. So check the fine print and read the details to avoid being misled by cheap offers.

4. Scalable Service

For a small start-up website, bandwidth is not an immediate concern. However, once you build your website and gain considerable amount of traffic, bandwidth becomes a priority.

You may be getting 1,000 visits per month in the first year but need to upgrade when you start hitting 10,000 visits per month. You need a host that can easily accommodate the amount of traffic and bandwidth your site is getting.

A web hosting should be scalable for the future of your website. Find one that has easy upgrade options to support your growing requirements.

5. E-commerce Tools

If you are setting up an online store, you will need the necessary shopping carts and e-commerce tools to support your operations. Most hosting companies will offer single integrated shopping cart application but look for hosts that offer more options and e-commerce features and flexibility to third-party programs.

6. Uptime Guarantee

As mentioned earlier, downtime can cost you money. Nothing is more important than making sure your website is running 24/7. That is why you need a hosting service that can guarantee uptime of 99%. Always go for a hosting service that has a 99.5% or higher uptime score to ensure stable network connectivity.

7. Domain Capacity

Owning one or more domain names is common nowadays. You may own almost all versions of your company names including .com, .net, and .org domain names.

Most hosting services will allow at least 25 domain names in one account. It is more efficient to have multiple domain names in one control panel for management purposes. When considering hosting services, so check for domain capacity.

8. Control Panel

Whether you’re an HTML master or a beginner, having an integrated control panel will make your life easier. You can manage all administrative options in a single location.

If you want to easily manage and control each aspect of your website and easily locate features, tools, and logs, go for a hosting that includes a user-friendly control panel.

Conclusion:

When in doubt, always get more information before you sign up for a hosting service for your new website. If you have family, friends or colleagues who have experience setting up a website, chat them up to get good advice. These will help you choose the best service for your needs.

The holiday season is not around the corner. It has arrived!

Consumers actually begin their holiday shopping as early as September. But according to a PPC and media specialist, Craig Gaylon, the peak season for the holidays usually begins the day after the Halloween. During the first week of November, traffic levels increase and will continue to increase during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

As customer searches and purchases increase during this season, brands have the opportunity to attract customers, influence purchase decisions, and ultimately drive sales.

By now, your holiday marketing plan and implementation must be in full swing. In case, you haven’t started with your holiday marketing campaign or you want to benefit with new tactics, here are 7 tips:

#1: Use Holiday Keywords for Your PPC Advertising

It is the time of the year to update your keywords and include holiday shopping key terms in your ad copies. If you have an online store, you may consider using ‘gifts for mom’, ‘kids Christmas gifts’, or ‘gifts for dad’ as keywords in your PPC ad copies to generate huge amounts of traffic to your website.

It is highly recommended to research the best keywords for your campaign, check what competitors are using, and make your ad copies appeal to your potential customers. Test ad copies and see what works best so you can maximize your spending and deliver higher value to your campaign.

#2: Design Themed Landing Pages

When consumers click on your holiday ad, they expect to be directed to a holiday-themed page where they can see the seasonal products advertised.

Your home page or other landing pages could use a bit of holiday spirit. You don’t have to do a redesign, which will cost money and time to implement. Changing a few design elements or adding a holiday slider or header image can already deliver the desired effect.

This will improve user experience and keep your customers on your website, browsing and buying.

And to capture the growing mobile market, make your pages optimised for mobile devices.

#3: Email is Not Dead

Email has been proven to work for holiday campaigns. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and drive interest and sales to your product during this most opportune time.

The difference between online search and email is that you can reach your customers in a timely and personal approach. One of the most important aspects of your email campaign is the creative content that will convert for you.

Keep in mind that customers will be flooded with emails during this busiest time of the year. Having a personal approach, good timing, and winning content will help you stand out.

#4: Send Greeting Cards for Customer Appreciation

Greeting cards are a great way to connect with current, previous or prospect clients during the holiday season. This is highly recommended for companies that do not sell products but services to customers.

For example, a dentist can send greeting cards to previous and current patients to connect and retain the relationship. If you have partners, stakeholders, and clients, a greeting card can go along way in maintaining the goodwill and positive relationship.

#5: Offer Discounts and Other Promotions

Discounts and other promotions appeal to holiday shoppers. Whatever can make them spend less in the most convenient manner is an enticing offer.

If you have an ongoing discount scheme, bulk order sale, free shipping, or other sales and promos, highlight that on your website, social media, email, or ad campaign. This will help appeal to customers and drive sales.

#6: Develop Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are tactics that can generate interest in your brand and products. In social media, these can increase the number of followers and the level of engagement on your social media pages.

By implementing this type of campaign, you have a higher chance to market your products to your target audience without the hard sell. Customers usually opt-in to this kind of campaign and will be happy to learn more about your products and buy them.

Make it fun and engaging, and customers will be happy to buy and even share your product to their family and friends.

#7: The Time for Gift Giving

The holiday season promotes gift giving and sharing. You can take advantage of this season to engage in activities in line with your corporate responsibility. Donating to a charity and creating fundraising event are some activities you can plan and execute during the holiday season.

If your business sells shoes or clothes to kids, then donating kid’s clothing to a community shelter or organizing a Christmas hamper drive will be an ideal activity.

While not all businesses may be open to spend for charity during the holiday season, you can think of the benefits it may bring once you promote this on social media, on your website, email, and in print media.

People love a good and heartfelt story, and this is your chance to hit two birds with one stone. You help others and also create a good impression to your customers, which they will remember and strongly associate with your brand and business.

What do you think of these 7 holiday digital marketing tips? Are you ready for your holiday campaign? Good luck!

Resources:

2015 Holiday Digital Marketing Guide

Which Paid Search Ad Copy Is Winning This Holiday Season?

Why Retailers Should Start Their Pay-Per-Click Christmas Campaigns Now

Today, more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush. With the rapid increase in number of smartphones and tablet users, your business must be able to adapt to this growing trend and be flexible to ever-changing technology. If you want to succeed in this highly competitive online market, you need a mobile-friendly website for your business.

What is Responsive Design?

Whatever platform or device is used to view your website, a responsive design ensures that viewing is optimal for the user. It normalizes the look and feel of your website regardless of devices. You know a website has implemented a responsive design when you don’t have to zoom in for small text or struggle with navigation. A responsive design adapts to the user’s screen size, resolution, and then projects an optimal view for any device.

#1 Reach the mobile market

Based on a report by comScore, the number of mobile users has now surpassed the number of desktop users worldwide in 2014. Without a mobile marketing strategy or mobile-friendly site, your business will lose a big slice of this market, which your competitors will happily accommodate.

With responsive design, you are equipped with the right system that provides a satisfactory mobile experience to your users, thus giving you the opportunity to reach and cater to the mobile audience.

#2 Improve user experience

Responsive design allows you to have a consistent user experience. Instead of maintaining and designing a desktop and a mobile site, you will only implement a responsive design for one site that has a unified design approach across all devices. Users will be familiar with your site’s navigation and functionality, and this leads to a positive impact on user experience. With a positive user experience on your website, you can increase conversion rates, sales, and revenue.

#3 Be on the good side of Google

Google favors responsive websites and would display and rank those that are mobile friendly. A non-mobile web design is detected and classified by Google as an issue or error that needs fixing. If you want your website to be on the good side of Google, having a responsive web design is not just an option but must be a standard practice.

#4 Save money and time on mobile development

Responsive web design solves your problem of having a separate desktop site and mobile site. You spend double the money and double the time and effort maintaining two platforms and systems. There is also the possibility that you might provide inconsistent and mismatched information about your company, products and services. There is the risk of uploading the wrong version on one system or updating one version without doing the same for the other.

The implications are clear with two separate systems while the alternative responsive solution sounds simple and efficient. It is easier to manage, cuts costs and time, and reduces the risk of errors.

#5 Avoid duplicate content issue

The risk of duplicity is high for a website that has two desktop and mobile versions. This means you are releasing the same content about your products and services in two different platforms. On the other hand, a responsive web design keeps one platform for your content, helping you avoid the risk of duplicate content issues and penalties by Google.

#6 Centralised analytics and reporting

All of your analysis and reporting is consolidated in Google Analytics whether for mobile, desktop, or even across browsers and operating systems. With a single responsive website, you don’t have to worry about tracking and monitoring the user journeys and redirections between two site versions. This allows a centralised tracking and analytics for easier monitoring and reporting.

#7 Stay ahead of competition

It is still surprising how many businesses have not implemented a responsive design for their websites. Having this understanding of the advantages and benefits of a responsive design is an opportunity to stay ahead of the competition, cater to the mobile consumers and get that big slice of the mobile market. Perhaps, the only important question that a business owner must ask today is “How do I start?”

References:

http://www.thebyte9.com/news/responsive-web-design-what-can-it-do-for-your-business

http://codeboxr.com/blogs/top-5-advantages-of-responsive-web-page-design

For more information on responsive web design, contact us today and get a free consultation.

Thirroul, New South Wales – Massive funding cuts by the federal government limited the funding for social programs. This policy agenda reduced the capacity of Australia’s community sector to provide assistance to people in need. Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre (TNC) is one of those organisations that were affected by the uncertainty and inadequacy of funding.

TNC is a non-profit organisation that serves the community of Northern Illawara. Founded in 1977, the centre has been developing youth and social programs and providing assistance in food, utility bills, and more as part of its emergency relief (ER) program.

Since July 2010, the number of individuals accessing the ER program has increased dramatically, most especially experienced in the last two years. With the high unemployment problem in Northern Illawara, more people are struggling and in need of assistance.

According to Emily Messieh, the Youth and Community Services Coordinator of TNC, approximately 185 families come in every month for assistance with food, utility bills, hygiene packs, medicine, and emotional and psychological support. These people include the homeless, people in domestic violence situations, people who have been assaulted, youth looking for work or who have been kicked out of home, people using alcohol and other drugs, and people experiencing violence and sexual abuse.

The funding cuts by the government have crippled the organisation and reduced its capacity to effectively meet the needs of people experiencing poverty and inequality. Because of this, the centre’s opening hours have been reduced. TNC gets by with the help of volunteers and funds donated by families and local businesses.tfusiontechnology.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/10978628_789901701057139_3819496880049833916_n-300×225.jpg

In response to the growing challenges, TNC developed a program to raise funds for the centre. This program aims to encourage the participation of local business and donation of $150 per year. In line with this program, Net Fusion Technology (NFT) reached out to TNC to propose a fundraising campaign that will help further promote and generate funding for the neighbourhood centre.

“I read an article in the local newspaper that TNC needs urgent help from the business community in the form of funds or expertise. NFT decided to assist by donating our expertise in social media,” said George Votava, Director of NFT.

The NFT team in collaboration with TNC created an online cause funding campaign. NFT has been developing content and offering technical and social media expertise to TNC to further promote the cause funding campaign in social media and online.

“We want to offer our help to develop a campaign to increase funding from the business community. Our target is 15K in 12 months,” said Votava. Through continuous effort in promoting TNC’s cause funding campaign, NFT hopes to reach 15k goal funding in a year for the organisation.

Messieh shows appreciation of NFT’s support, “Net Fusion Technology has been a tremendous support to Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre. Mik’s work on our website, cause funding and social media has been so helpful. She always has great ideas and is happy to do whatever we ask. We enjoy working with them and are very happy to say they are our Bronze sponsor here at TNC.”

NFT hopes that more local businesses offer their support to organisations like Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre. Contributing to the community must not be an option but a goal for any business or organisation. Whether through financial support or collaborative project, there is always a way to extend a helping a hand.

To know more about the funding campaign or if you want to donate today, you may also contact Emily Messieh at 4267 2500 or email at emily@thirroulnc.org.

Source:

http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3131103/residents-urged-to-back-thirroul-centre/

http://www.thirroulnc.org.

Before the Internet, starting a business requires a huge investment to set up a store or office, hire working staff, and advertise your product and services. You spend a lot to run daily operations and pay utilities, equipment, manpower, and more.

Nowadays, all it takes is a computer, reliable Internet service provider, and a website or social media account to sell your products or offer your expert services. In this technology-driven online marketplace, even a hobbyist or crafter has the potential to build a business of their own by creating a website as their virtual storefront.

If you’re planning to start an online business, here are some simple web design tips that will help you create a proper and effective website.

1. Make It Responsive

In 2014, there was an estimated 3.6 billion mobile phone users worldwide. Australia alone has 65% of its population using smartphones. A growing number of users are moving away from desktops to mobile devices for their online activities. That is why responsive web design is crucial to any website, big or small.

Whatever device is used to view your website, a responsive web design ensures optimal view and readability. Users on mobile devices won’t have to zoom in on small text to read your content. This offers ease in navigation, browsing, and overall user experience.

Moreover, Google favors websites with a responsive web design. You have a shot at ranking well in search engines if you implement a responsive design.

2. Go for Simple and Minimalist Features

Websites with heavy graphics and animation may slow down page loading. And when your webpages are loading very slowly, expect users to leave your site and look elsewhere. Don’t keep them waiting by choosing a simple, neat, and minimalist web design. This improves readability of information published on your site.

3. Test Image Quality and File Size

If you have images on your website, test for optimal image rendering. The goal is to have a small image file size that loads quickly while image quality or resolution is still optimal. Do not compromise on quality just so your website can load faster. Make sure your supporting visuals have acceptable resolution to project a professional and impressive brand.

4. Develop Good Site Navigation

Web design is not just about aesthetics. Most importantly, it is about function. What many web designers and developers overlook is the user-friendliness of a website. A website with good site navigation act like a helpful tour guide, giving each visitor an easy way to get the information they want. The ease of going from one webpage to another, reading through sections of a page, scrolling down for more info and browsing leisurely are signs of effective information delivery the hopefully leads to a sale or new leads generated.

You must also encourage continuous browsing on your website by adding links to other pages on your website that may offer other more information to a user or serve as call to action. Perhaps at the end of your home page content, you may add a call to action to view products in another page or make an enquiry through the contact page. In this way, you develop good user experience by offering more options to users and assisting them in their customer journey (or navigation of the site) rather than quickly concluding their visit, which may reduce your chances of converting them from user to buyer.

5. Implement Simple Website Optimisation

One of the best things about online marketing is that even startups have the chance to compete with the big brands when they perform good website optimisation. You can start by adding good page titles and descriptions that show on Google search engines.

Websites are never really done. The design may be final and the development platform may already be set up and running but continuous improvements are recommended. Small but regular improvements over time will show more value in the long run than an expensive web design overhaul after the site has not been updated for years. Keep your website updated, find opportunities to explore and areas to improve. This will help you compete with major players in your industry.

Good luck!