5 Vital Email Security Tips You Should Know

In 2016, the race for the American President saw a popular candidate suffer an unexpected defeat. Hillary Clinton, who was expected to be the 45th president of the United States, lost because of a strange controversy.

The controversy involved her using a private email server during her tenure as the Secretary of State. As expected, the American people were enraged that a government official was using unlawful means to withhold information from them.

However, if this controversy is analyzed through an unbiased perspective, one might consider the fact that Hillary Clinton had her reasons. After all, being the Secretary of State, it was vital for her to keep enemy states away from confidential information.

The scandal was dubbed as the ‘email controversy’ but in actuality, it was an ‘email security controversy.

Quick Tips for Ensuring Email Security

Email security is an issue that is often provided less attention than it deserves. Organizations, institutions and even individuals in personal capacity use emails to share sensitive information.

Protecting this information is utmost important. This is because if the right information gets in the wrong hands, it can be used to blackmail, manipulate or even humiliate someone.

Hence, you should make no compromises in ensuring that your emails remain safe and secure. Below, we have laid out several methods you can apply to keep your emails away from malicious individuals.

Create Different Passwords

Passwords are the backbone of your online privacy. By creating strong passwords you eliminate the immediate threat of a hacker gaining access to your personal information.

However, even if you have created the strongest password in the word, do not use it for all your online accounts. If you have a single password for everything, you are walking into a trap.

Imagine the nightmare if you lose this password. Everything from your Facebook profile to your Amazon account will be at risk.

If you have a hard time remembering multiple passwords, you can avail the services of a password manager. In any case, avoid this rookie mistake.

Be Careful on Public Wi-Fis

Public Wi-Fi can be detrimental to your online security. This is because they are filled with nefarious threats. Hackers lurk on these Wi-Fi networks to get their hands on your sensitive information. This includes the password of your email.

With the program called ‘network sniffers’, the hackers can monitor traffic on a particular network and examine it for important information. However, there is a way for you to escape their watchful eye.

By employing a VPN, you can encrypt your online traffic and keep hackers at bay. A top VPN anonymizes your online profile making it difficult for hackers to monitor your connection.

Avoid Phishing Traps

Phishing is a popular hacking method in which the hacker disguises as a trusted entity, person or an organization to steal your password. It is the oldest form of cyberattacking that originated in the 1990s.

What happens in this attack is that you receive an email or an instant message that directs you to a fake website. The website is a spoof, meaning that it is copy of a legitimate site.

On this website, you will be required to provide your email and password. From there, you can guess what happens next. There are also more direct methods to phishing.

Sometimes you will receive a message from a certain website, asking for your login credentials to ‘fix’ a certain issue. Of course, this will be an imitation of the real website and your credentials will end up with the hackers.

Phishing scams can be somewhat difficult to recognize but there share few common things:

  • Request for your personal information
  • Threats to shut down your account
  • Bad grammar
  • Made up URL

By looking out for above signs, you can avoid phishing and keep your email secure.

Create Multiple Email Accounts

Just like keeping a single password for all account is problematic, using a single email for all online purposes is risky. The reason for having multiple emails is the same reason you should have multiple password.

If a hacker succeeds in breaking into your ‘one-for-all’ email account, he/she will have a field day with your online profiles.

Hence, create separate accounts for work, your personal activities and one for different website you use.

Scan Your Device for Viruses and Malware

To keep your device free from malwares and viruses, run frequent scans through capable anti-virus programs. The good news is that most anti-virus programs perform this function for you.

However, if you believe that you received a suspicious mail, scan your computer just to stay on the safe side. You can never be too careful with your online security.

Final thoughts

As many real life examples have shown, one cannot take email security lightly. You can suffer both personal and financial loss by being careless in your emailing activities.

This is why it preferable that you take all the necessary precautions to keep your emails safe and secure.

150+ Almost Free and Essential Products To Start Your Business

Are you a newbie to the startup world? If yes, then you must be definitely knowing that starting up a business is no cakewalk. It is one of the toughest tasks and involves a lot of risks. Especially, if it’s a startup, you come across a lot of roadblocks that you never thought would ever crop up. Factors such as budget, limited manpower and time can also affect your business or startup when the workload starts piling up and the bills come rolling in.

But fret not! With the help of right tools and an effective team you can easily come over these hurdles and can reach your business potential. There are many tools and products available out there which can prove to be super beneficial for your business in the long run. Below mentioned is a curated list of some important products that every business must use, irrespective of its size, in order to take your business to new heights over the course of time:

Domain name suggestion

Booking the right domain name is the first step of any startup launch. But it is very difficult to get a desired .com domain name under your budget, however, you can try some hacks and find the domain name that best fits to your business name.

  • domainwheel(generate different variations of your desired domain name)
  • domainhack(take advantage of different TLDs and hack your domain e.g hy.pe)
  • agiledomainsearch(generate domain names by adding some random but related word)
  • domaindart(Generate domain name by adding prefix or suffix)

Domain Name Booking

Booking domain is not free but privacy, email forwarding and DNS can be free. Consider these free resources before selecting registrar.

Create Logo

Logo designing charges may vary from $10 to $10,000 but here is options to get one for free.

Create website by yourself

If you are not a web developer or a designer but need simple websites, then you can make it yourself for free or at a nominal cost with the help of these products. You don’t need to worry about hosting and setup also.

Create blog

Blogging is an important way to grow your business online. These tools can help you pull in your target audience.

  • wordpress(self hosted cms, you need to pay for server or hosting)
  • Managedwordpress hosting, free with wordpress.com sub domain
  • medium( $75 on time for custom domain)
  • tumblr(use with your custom domain for free, limited features)
  • blogger(everything is free. use your domain, customize theme.)
  • jekyll-now(host your blog on github)

Create Ecommerce Website

You can use open source software and host on your server, but must have prior knowledge of server management and PHP & Mysql.

If you don’t have technical background you can start from these hosted version of e-commerce platforms.

Host for free

Hosting your website can result in a recurring cost since many of the shared and cheap hostings are not able to provide more than 99% uptime but you can opt for some reliable hosting services for your needs that are free or almost free. It requires some technical skills to deploy your website.

Communicate

Interact with your team or clients.

Lead Generation

If there are any details which are missing from your lead you can get more details by name, company name or email Id

Get Work done

These all services are paid starting from $5

Analytics & Tracking

 

Website Traffic Monitoring

Having a good statistics package working in the background is important for your site. You must know what works and what doesn’t and also the trends that will make your website the next stop for visitors every day.

Track Email

Scheduling and tracking emails is important, especially if your clients are in different time zones.

Track Link

Tracking links of your competitors and those of your web pages is an essential part of SEO strategy.

Create Awesome Social media Posts

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, so make it stand out with the help of these tools.

Manage Social Media Accounts

Social media management tools can help you make the most of your social presence  and reach a wide number of audience.

Create Promotional Video

Create engaging online promotional videos affordably with these tools.

Launching Startup

Get your startup enlisted in these communities and create a good audience base.

Note Taking

In order to build a personal knowledge database, the good old note taking is undoubtedly one of the best ways.

Project & Task management

Managing projects and tasks can be a little difficult. But don’t let anyone tell you this. Manage everything on your own with these tools.

File Hosting & Sharing

Share and host files seamlessly with these tools.

Work Automation

These tools come with a wide range of applications and are ideal for those who are mostly digitally connected workers.

Create Forms

Forms can be a great asset for your business sites. Create one for yours with any of these:

Transactional & Newsletter Emailing

All the email services are paid but they offer a free tier until you start growing

Chat & Support

There are many chat service providers for your website who offer free plans but restrict the contact limits. Here I am mentioning the options which do not restrict them.

Get Payments

These tools help you receive payment from any corner of the world. These are safe and secure to use.

On Site Search

For the times when you want to allow your visitors to search on your website or your database.

Track Competitors

Having an insight of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses can help you create a good strategy

  • mention(Starts from $29 / month)
  • alexa(most popular website ranking probider)
  • builtwith(check what third party technology powering a website. free , paid plans starts from $295)
  • whatruns(Discover what runs a website, when you open a website.)

Security

These tools help make your business fast and safe.

Bookmarks

Lets you save important stuff that you need to get onto later.

Engagement

Good engagement tools help your product grow in the best possible way.

Free Stock Photographs

Finding good images is difficult. These tools make your work of finding them an easy task.

Influencer Marketing

Instead of directly marketing to a large group of your consumers, you can get or hire influencers who can do the work for you or on your behalf.

Others

If you find anything that we have missed, then please let us know in the comments.

Article contributed by Vijay Nagar, marketing manager at BetaPage, a startups & early adopters community

Mobile Applications Powered by React Native

What is React Native?

React Native has been a trending name for quite some time now. Startups and fortune 500 companies have been racing to implement the new technology in their software. React Native is a JavaScript framework that uses the ReactJS library, developed for mobile apps creation.

Why the big fuss?

UI is quite a big deal for any website or application. In a nutshell, no matter how innovative and robust your solution is, if it doesn’t have the appropriate UI things won’t just work out.

The thing about React is that provides speed, simplicity, and scalability. These factors are important for creating a user captivating user experience that would promote the software’s business and expand its market.

So let’s take a quick dive into React native’ features.

Why React Native is awesome

React is quite simple to grasp right away. The plain use of JS makes React pretty easy to learn and use. It also makes writing JavaScript code easier using an HTML like syntax called JSX. Of Course, you can write plain JavaScript, but JSX facilitates the code writing a lot. React has got a lot of documents and a great active community of developers who support each other. For this reason, we have a number of ReactJS tutorial supporting sites.

One of the key strengths of React Native is its code sharing. Very often, the application would become overdeveloped on one platform and not as much on another. That of course, is due to the fact that development for these platforms is made separately. With React Native, developers are able to develop native apps for Android and IOS at the same time just by writing JavaScript. More than 75% of the written code is shared across Android and IOS and it sort of brings the entire development team on the same page. It’s also fairly easy to learn if you know how to use React and JavaScript. Since it uses the ReactJS library, React Native contains all ReactJS’ features as well.

Now that we established how cool React Native is, let’s take a look at how popular it’s been getting lately.

#1. Facebook

Facebook uses ReactJS for the website, as well as React Native for their mobile application, with both Android and IOS. Facebook is where React originated, and it was created to answer their needs. Facebook wanted to bring the web development power to the mobile development scene. Namely, the fast iterations and the ability of one team to create the whole thing. After testing React Native with their application, numerous factors like startup time were improved by almost a factor of two. This is really important to create the ideal user experience Facebook is looking for. You can check their entire journey here: https://code.facebook.com/posts/895897210527114/dive-into-react-native-performance/

#2. Instagram

For a software with simple UI like Instagram, integrating React Native was not a complex task, but it certainly paid off. Instagram uses the powers of React very effectively when it comes to its features like the geolocations, search engine optimization, and accuracy. Instagram is letting its fan take a deep dive into the robust power of ReactJS, and they are very well enjoying its features.

#3.Skype

The telecommunications giant, Skype, uses React for both its Android and IOS versions. It sort of flows into the picture of how major companies are all opting to use React in the solutions they provide. This came as an answer to the numerous problem the prior versions had.

#4 Walmart

In a chase to upgrade their current application, Walmart has adapted React to their software. They talked about the numerous factors that React has managed to touch on. They talked about how the developer’s experience has been awesome using React. For example, the code in IOS and Android is almost 95% shared, which is quite a huge number. Their team became more productive using React, and the application itself improved a lot, from smoother animations to platform-specific UI.

#5 SoundCloud Pulse

SoundCloud Pulse is an application that helps creators to monitor their work and keep up with the humming of their community. It’s a great tool, which uses React Native in its solution. When the team first developed the application, they actually went short of IOS developers, and after making the research, they decided to go for React Native. The code sharing solved the problem and provided them with the IOS code they needed for IOS platform. The team’s experience was positive, and they found it quite easy to deal with React native. More on their journey here:https://developers.soundcloud.com/blog/react-native-at-soundcloud

#6 Bloomberg

Bloomberg is one of the big applications, especially for aspiring and highly productive individuals. It provides global financial use and allows for personalized content. However, ever since its creation, the developer team talked a lot about how it was somewhat inefficient to develop the application for IOS and Android almost separately. When they started to use React, the development process literally shifted gears, and they were able to develop for both platforms simultaneously.

#7 Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the big names who started to use React Native, and they currently have around 60 developers on their team working on it. They pointed out how the process was enhanced by the reusability and the simplicity of React that spread satisfaction among their team.

#8. The Facebook Ads

The Facebook ads application created under Facebook’s roof has been the first application to use the React Native for Android.We can sort of say that Facebook designed React for that purpose. It suited their business logic very well and allowed them to create a cleaner interface and better UX. It touched on many critical spots and the result: A faster and smoother captivating application.

#9. Gyroscope

Gyroscope integrates with HealthKit, and it allows you to see your complete life story. From tracking your heart rate, weight loss, productivity. Simply put, it’s a great stream of data flowing into the application to provide you with all the juicy information. For such application, the developers opted to use React Native since it enhances the UI rendering even with such huge amounts of data flowing in. And the users just love it.

#10 Discord

Discord is following Skype’s footsteps, and they are using React to their application. However, it’s only the IOS version that uses it.

Final Thoughts

The list actually goes on with Myntra, Uber Eats, and Yeti Smart Home. Etc..

The promising power of React Native is sort of dictating that it’s going to reign where it’s peers has fallen. The community is ever expanding, and the adaptations of React Native is exponentially growing over time. Facebook recently declared that they are about to release a new version of React called the React Fiber. It’s very probable that we are about to witness a great improvement in the field of developed that is deemed to reflect upon the user experiences in general. Designing better user interfaces will only lead to public satisfaction and better user experiences. The future of React Native is certainly bright, at least from where it currently stands right now.re

Paypal India’s 18% GST Is Not Applicable For Overseas Transactions

Freelancers in India have been outraged at a recent policy update on Paypal India that suggested that an 18% GST would be charged on all future transactions. The note on the Paypal India website read,

“We have updated our UA  to comply with local laws applicable to Indian companies including local taxation laws. We have been advised PayPal Services will attract a GST rate of 18%. Please consult your tax advisors in terms of your eligibility for refunds.”

In effect, what Paypal seemed to suggest is that all future transactions (starting October 2 or later) would invite a default deduction of 18% towards GST which its users may claim a refund for from the Income Tax authorities after furnishing sufficient proof.

This appeared ridiculous given that Paypal transactions within India are restricted to overseas transactions (which should not invite a GST in the first place). A recent Change.org petition filed over the matter suggested  something even more apocalyptic.

“I have real bad news guys. In a support chat one of our people was able to get a clarification from Paypal that the 18% GST would be deducted on the entire amount, and not just their charges.

This really creates an even more explosive situation.

On one hand, Paypal will take 18% GST from you already, and on the second, you have to register and give the GoI 18% GST (that you need to claim a refund for later), or file exemption.

So in effect, you could be losing 36% of your revenues on arrival, with no clarity on refunds at all because you don’t have FIRCs yet.”

No GST For Overseas Paypal Transactions

But all of this looks to be a miscommunication. GoRumors was able to get confirmation from Paypal that GST shall not be levied on overseas transactions. In an email response, a Paypal support representative wrote,

“Kindly be informed that this information is for a new update which will be coming soon and you will be informed before it is implemented.

Rest assured if it is an overseas transaction it will be exempted from the GST charges.”

Paypal GST India

So there you go – no GST for the kind of transactions that are now prevalent on Paypal.

Paypal Soon For Domestic Transactions In India?

What this also means is that we may soon have Paypal open up for domestic transactions in India. At the moment, this facility is not available to Indian users. But by registering as a local company, Paypal can establish itself as a viable alternative to other popular digital wallets in the country like Paytm and Mobikwik.

That would be a welcome step, if only Paypal didn’t have those high fees.

 

Top Three Ways To Perfect An Eco-Friendly Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Helen Keller once said, “life is either a great adventure or  nothing.” The truth is that life, as fleeting as it may seem, can feel as though it lasts forever when doing something you love. Although it can often be difficult to grab onto the adventure in your own life at times, this desire to do more and be more will forever call to you—the only question is whether or not you will answer. For some, the idea of answering alone can be terrifying but, for others, it can be the best decision they ever make—and for these select few, the idea of a fully nomadic lifestyle calls them forward on journeys they will surely never forget.

However, a life of adventure is far from the only reason why these individuals choose lives on the road rather than stationary lives in the city. In fact, with a massive transition toward a greener tomorrow from our younger generations, it only makes sense that these nomads also choose this lifestyle as a way to reduce their carbon footprint one day at a time.

With this in mind, if green adventure is the kind of life you hope to one day lead, it is highly important that you consider what type of nomadism you hope to achieve, whether or not the RV lifestyle is right for you, and how you hope to create an eco-friendly nomadic alternative to everyday stationary life in order to not only begin this new chapter of your life but ensure that you journey is headed in the right direction, from the first day to the last.

RV, Travel Trailer, or Van: Choose Your Form of Nomadism

The first step to any eco-friendly adventure is to choose your new home. There are many nomadic options out there but one of the most common and enticing comes in the form of the traditional Class A, B, or C motorhomes. However, there are many other things to consider besides the actual home itself, especially if a greener alternative is your goal. For instance, some RVs have solar power, which can be far more cost effective and green than generator-reliant counterparts.

Furthermore, many RVs are complete and total gas guzzlers meaning that your fuel economy will be far less efficient and each day you will be producing copious amounts of carbon emissions. In fact, the average Class C RV emits thousands of pounds of carbon each and every year. On top of all of this, RVs are also known for succumbing to some of the most common transmission problems you should never ignore, such as leaking fluids and slipping gears, which could very quickly turn your fun adventure into a nightmare for both your bank account as well as your health (carbon monoxide poisoning and dangerous leaking fluids are also quite common).

With these cons in mind, you may want to turn toward a van, as it is certainly smaller and more efficient overall. However, this gives you far less space and also means that if you break down, you more than likely will not have a backup mode of transportation on board. Furthermore, most vans do not provide green energy alternatives and still require a large amount of gas.

Therefore, for many fully nomadic individuals, neither of these options are ideal, leaving the travel trailer and truck combo far ahead of the other two regarding both fuel economy and environmental friendliness. The main reason for this is due to the fact that there are many eco-friendly truck brands out there which, when combined with a solar-powered travel trailer, provide the user with fuel economy, and extra space, and green energy alternatives and a setup that allows you to hook up to RV spots and still be able to visit the nearby cities and places using the unattached truck as a mode of transportation. However, once you choose which option is right for you, the next step is to actually create your “green machine” and make it feel like less of a trailer and more of home in the process.

Transform Your New Home Into a “Green Machine”

There are many easy tips to make a stationary home more sustainable out there, but mobile homes are all too often lost in the mix due to the misconception that you cannot create a sustainable home that travels. However, although gardens and compost bins may be impossible in the long run, there are plenty of other ways to make your travel trailer or recreational vehicle less of a mode of transportation and more of a comfortable home that focuses heavily on green alternatives.

For instance, even if your trailer or RV does not have solar power when purchased, it is not all that difficult to install solar panels after the fact. This can not only reduce the amount of hookups needed on the road, which will inevitably save you money, but also reduce the carbon emissions your vehicle produces as well. Furthermore, by reducing the amount of frozen items you have on board, you can also reduce your refrigerant usage likewise. In 2008, every household in America released over 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide from their refrigerators and freezers alone, making the reduction of these emissions highly important for our environment as a whole.

Furthermore, although you might not be able to have an entire garden, you can still grow herbs and bulbs which will make your life far simpler, help ensure the air in your new home is naturally filtered, and also lower the cost of weekly groceries as well. However, although all of these green alternatives are useful, there is still one that could quite literally reduce your carbon emissions by hundreds of pounds each and every year on the road which is surprisingly simple to achieve.

Choose Your Eco-Friendly Secondary Mode of Transportation

The most crucial way to reduce your carbon emissions is by reducing the amount of travel you do outside of getting from point A to point B. For instance, by choosing secondary modes of transportation, such as electric mountain bikes or scooters, you can significantly reduce your carbon emissions when traveling to nearby cities fro myour hookup locations as you can leave behind your gas-powered vehicle and also get in some outdoor exercise in the process.

However, a lot of young individuals think that there are no cheap and quality electric mountain bike alternatives, but this is far from the truth. In fact, there are many cheap electric bike brands, including a few that are even located online such as the E-Zip 2008 Trailz bike and the Mongoose 26” Electric bike.

Furthermore, Walmart also has many electric bike conversion kits, which can transform any mountain bike into an electric marvel, in little to no time at all. The best part about them, however, is that the average mileage of these electric bikes is anywhere between 20 to 60 miles, which means that even some of the farthest locations from a hookup site can easily be reached without wasting any gas or money in the process. Furthermore, with the incorporation of eco-friendly gear such as the Tree Hugger gear supply, you can also explore campgrounds and nature trails without being forced to return to your RV every few hours likewise.

In the end, there are countless ways to grab life by the horns and hold on, but travel is one of the few that actually pays off in full over time. Furthermore, choosing to lead a greener life can also lead to a happier you and a better future for the next generation as well. With this said, it’s no surprise why hundreds of young individuals are choosing a nomadic life over the traditional lifestyles their parents led before them. After all, life is short — so why not live it while you can?

Ransomware And Its Impact

Picture this.

It’s another normal day. You wake and head over to the office, grab a cuppa and settle down to begin going about your daily business. You hit the power on button on your computer and instead of the usual login screen you are accustomed to, you are instead confronted by an on-screen message, very likely featuring the image of a large padlock, informing you that your computer is permanently inaccessible until you make a payment via in a prescribed form.

Welcome to the world of ransomware. You have just become a victim.

So what is a ransomware?

Without getting into technical jargon, ransomware is any malicious software program that infects your computer and restricts access either by locking the screen, encrypting files or both, until you pay the hacker that created the program a ransom.

The first such program to be distributed widely was a program known as Cryptolocker in 2013. Thousands of people had their lives disrupted.
Unlike other malware that spies on your computer silently and sends stolen login details and other personal data to hackers, ransomware announces itself. It’s actually quite audacious on the part of hackers.

Like most viruses and malware, ransomware uses many of the same attack vectors. For example, email attachments and links, botnets, torrents and other technical means such as piggybacking on genuine software updates. The recent Goldeneye/Petya ransomware that affected users in late June 2017, gained access to computers via a software update of a popular accounting application in the Ukraine. The hackers somehow managed to infiltrate the software company that designed the program and injected the ransomware into the software update files. Everyone who performed the update caught the infection.

Unlike other forms of viruses and malware, you can’t get rid of ransomware by flashing the BIOS, wiping the drive or returning the computer to a restore point. The hackers make sure you can’t access any of these features. Also, a unique decryption key is created during the install and stored on the hacker’s server. In the event, you fail to pay the ransom in time or the ransomware detects an attempt to tamper with it, a “self-destruct” is triggered, deleting the decryption key and destroying all the encrypted files on the user’s machine. If the ransom is paid in time, the hacker sends the decryption key to the user and the user enters the key in an area provided on-screen. This unlocks/decrypts the files. Ransom payments are usually demanded via digital currency Bitcoin which makes sure the identity of the hacker remains anonymous.

Because hackers have been known to release the decryption key once paid, many people have resorted to paying the ransom rather than seeking other ways to deal with the problem. This has added fuel to the fire because so long as hackers can make money with ransomware, they aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

Ransomware isn’t simply a nuisance. It is a serious security threat that has law enforcement agencies working around the clock to bust hacker rings. While some infected computers are still usable, loss of data has a serious impact on productivity for businesses. Small businesses may never be able to recover if they lost important data.

The best defense

The best defense is data backups. If you have a backup of your data, you won’t have to pay the ransom. You will only lose time trying to get your computer to work properly again. Secondly, install an antivirus program that offers strong ransomware protection and always ensure it is up to date. Don’t ignore operating system security updates. Set your computer to automatically install security updates. And, don’t click on links in emails or open attachments from people you don’t know. Avoid pirated software and torrent sites because these often host ransomware.

Conclusion

If the unimaginable happens and you find yourself having to deal with ransomware, do not panic. Antivirus companies have a number of solutions for the most common types of ransomware. Check out their sites and from another computer and follow the instructions. Unfortunately, if it is a new type, you may have to wait a little longer for a fix. All the same, security researchers are making great strides but it will be a while before they beat the hackers at this game. With ransomware, prevention is better than cure.

3 Beginner Tools to Understand Customer Data

It’s hard to believe that in 2017, there are industries in which customer data isn’t valued at its true worth. The good news is things are changing. According to Forbes, 60% of business owners believe in the revenue power of data within their companies. And 83% feel that data increases profitability among existing products or services.

It’s hard to believe that in 2017, there are industries in which customer data isn’t valued at its true worth. The good news is things are changing. According to Forbes, 60% of business owners believe in the revenue power of data within their companies. And 83% feel that data increases profitability among existing products or services. Even so, some industries out there still lack severely in the customer service sector. Government offices, Healthcare, Airlines, Retail, to name a few. The full list and percentages are available in this infographic by Statista.

Customer support Customer data is crucial to your sales and marketing strategy if you want to:

  1. Understand what your customers need before you upgrade your products and services;
  2. Develop loyalty programs for your buyers;
  3. Apply design thinking principles (innovation) in your line of work;
  4. Attract a new audience and diversify your clientele;
  5. Be one step ahead of your competitors. And more…

Working with customer data isn’t easy especially if you are a beginner in the field of analytics. Or a content marketer with little knowledge in working with stats. But with these 3 beginner tools, no customer data will be left behind.

SEO Tools for Excel

Let’s start with the basics. Before you consider customer data and the sales process, you need to understand what is happening with your website behind the scenes. How people find your website. Who mentioned your website/product/service. Links. And ranking performance. I’m sorry to remind you again, but search engine still matters, and I don’t know of a business who isn’t peeking at competition every now and then.

If you want to discover the current Google cache for a web page, that’s easily manageable by typing “cache:www.websitename.com” into your web browser. But for multiple pages or the entire website, this is time-consuming. Imagine if each product has a dedicated page, and you have about 1,000 products displayed. Not cool, right?

That’s why the Excel SEO tool is useful because it allows users to simply apply a formula to return the data (in this case, the formula is =GoogleCacheData(“URL_TO_CHECK”). There is a basic option (ad supported, free, but with reduced functionality) and a pro version (where you can connect your other accounts, such as Moz, Ahrefs, GA, SEMRush, Majestic), which pulls data directly into Excel, without having to manually transfer it. This guide explains all about the uses of Excel in SEO and marketing, so you might want to check that out. Meanwhile, I have requested permission from AcuityTraining to use some of their screenshots to showcase the tool’s functionality.

Installation Tips and Examples How to Use the Tool

Installation is simple: Go to the SEO Tools for Excel website, and simply download it. This only works for Windows users, and you will need to check compatibility of Office version with Windows version (32 versus 64 bit).

Excel SEO

Here are a few formulas you can use to speed up your analysis. There is a series of string tools that help with text variables (in case you didn’t know, more advanced tools as SPSS, for e.g., do not run an analysis on a string variable, so you must compute the variable from a string into numeric. Which takes up time and energy). But SEO tools in Excel is friendlier with beginners.

To remove spaces from the text, use the “=Normalize()” function. To remove blank spaces in a string variable, use “=StripWhitespace()”.

SEO Excel tool

You can also use the tool for spidering and pull current data for multiple pages. The Spider icon in the upper left will generate a dialogue box that needs to be filled in every section. Add a report name of your choice. Specify the website to crawl, and level of crawling required. Specify data required per page. Highlight the options (you can choose up to 51) in the left-side column. Click Add. Data will be generated in the right-side column.

SEO Excel tool

Clicking Generate will display a table with multiple columns, such as URL, GoogleCacheData, and LinkCount. Or any other metrics of your choice (based on your previous selection from the left column options).

SEO Excel tool

Web stats are a great way to understand what is happening behind the scenes on your page/website. If you have this figure out, it’s time to proceed to the next level: customer specs.

Website Call Conversion Tool

Conversion testing is nothing new. Almost anyone is familiar with A/B testing of channels, for e.g., to see which one drives more traffic, leads, sales. This Hubspot article shows how inbound marketing and sales combine one another.

Recently, more attention has been paid to custom web data reports that showcase what the customer journey is, and how their interaction with your service or product impacts the decision-making process. Call conversion is linked to both customer journey and conversion testing. If you think this isn’t an important subject, think again, as Google Analytics has been allowing phone call tracking since 2016, with phone calls being a marketing channel. Users can simply add the GA code to their websites, and either setup Events and Goals (free option) or opt for an integration software (paid) to track phone calls.

Using Nextiva Analytics: Short Guide

Nextiva is a call conversion software (premium), which offers around 225 report combinations to analyze real-time data and historical data using graphs and tables. Below, you can see an example of Summary for Calls (Total Count, Count by Day, Hourly Average).

Nextiva key features

Besides summary reports and other technical features, call group reports are also available. This how a call group report looks like with graphs (right) showcasing call channels, and scatter-plots (left), displaying count by day.

Nextiva call group

For e.g., if you want to analyze the target group “company employees” with a final objective of understanding the business needs, you can create a custom report and dashboard. An example of the custom dashboard is listed below. This type of report allows you to compare users, sales numbers, call duration, and clusters (i.e. Summer sale promotion team; Sales team; Mike’s calls, Support team).

Nextiva custom dashboard

Operating with agile decision-making processes, the wallboard feature enables transparency and displays critical information. Here’s how a critical process map looks like, detailing all types of calls, duration, and number for each section. I.e. 4,608 dials under Unique calls, 726minutes for International Talks etc.

Nextiva wallboards

The tool itself is easy to handle, and user-friendly. They have a resource center on their YouTube channel, with video guides for Beginners, worth checking out.

Pivot Tables: Sales, Buyer Behavior, and More

For a tool that has been around since before Moses ( the first version of Excel for the Macintosh was launched in September 1985, and first Microsoft version 2.05, in November 1987), you would expect everyone to be an expert at it. For the ‘80s version, probably everybody is. Microsoft developed their Office suite to address its other market segment: businesses. If you’re just starting with customer data, Excel is an excellent tool for beginners.

The simplest, yet useful and powerful feature is Excel pivot tables, which are used to summarize, analyze, explore and present the data through graphs and charts. You can find out how your services and products are performing in an industry, region, segment, by simply grouping the data into designated columns for each variable (i.e. variable “Services”, “Industry”, “Purchases”) and performing the analysis.

Types of Action in Pivot Tables

  1. Summarize your data by finding the average (mean) value of a specific metric/variable. e. Purchases are done per region, per industry, for each product.
  2. Organize the columns of a table. Structure them based on metric/variable/action performed by the customer.
  3. List unique values. You can work here with “outliers” (min and max values, which are outside the mean; call them “particular cases”. For e.g., a customer purchasing your Christmas products in Summer/Fall is natural. But a customer purchasing Christmas gifts in April is peculiar.)
  4. Create dynamic pivot charts and reports that show custom forms and subtotal values. Instead of having a report/graph generated for each segment, you can combine segments, and check for a particular result or for general outcomes.
  5. Filter, sort, and structure your data without formulas or macros. You probably don’t know this, but the main disadvantage of formulas is that you need to carefully follow each function and element/item of the formula. Otherwise, the formula will either not work at all generating error reports, or work in a way, but generate a fake report and false findings. These numbers will affect business decisions. And this isn’t something anyone wants.
  6. Link data sources that are outside Excel and generate pivot reports for this type of data. Think of data such as Google Analytics, tracking stats in email campaigns, surveys, social media data that can be linked to, analyzed, and reported.
  7. Transposition of data from rows to columns and vice versa.

Data sources you can use for a Pivot analysis include GA, Bing, Yandex, surveys, email campaign tracker data, SQL data (website data), external or in-house social media analytics tools, APIs, Internet marketing tools (Moz, Majestic, SEMRush etc).

Example: Customer Devices Pivot Analysis

Let’s say you are interested in finding out if your website should have a mobile-ready version, or it’s enough to have a mobile-responsive theme. You can extract the data from the past year (53 weeks) or from the last 6 months (26 weeks). For this example, I will work with data from the past year, that showcases traffic metrics which came from “All Users” compared to “Mobile Users”.

The steps are: Import Data from GA >> Organize Data in Columns and Rows >> Run Pivot Tables >> Generate Pivot Chart.

SERPiflied pivot table

Based on the results in the pivot table, I see that a third of my customers use a mobile device. I can expect the number to grow in the following year, although I would need to run a predictive analysis to confirm my statement.

However, this pivot chart result is enough, at this point, to convince me to invest is a mobile version of the website, so that my customers can enjoy a fully mobile experience.

More information about pivot tables and user experience is available here.

Takeaways

Remember: customer data is crucial to your sales and marketing strategy. Before understanding your customers’ needs, you need to understand what is happening with the main sales channels. In this case, your web properties and how they rank in the SERPs. For that purpose, the SEO tool for Excel will generate enough valid reports to help you plan your marketing strategy better.

Then, the customer journey and the customer experience are two defining factors in achieving success with your online business. Almost all major e-commerce websites offer call or chat support. Call support helps with conversions. Nextiva has a series of YouTube videos for beginners, explaining how to use the tool and how to get the best out of your reports.

Ultimately, Pivot tables will reveal in a simple, fast, accurate way if it’s worth investing in a mobile-only version for your website. And not only that. Go beyond my example and discover the relationship between sales, purchases, revenue, and trends.

Grab the business insights you need. Data can be turned into calls to action and used for competitive advantages, long-term goals, predictions of future user behavior, success rate analysis, and KPI restructuration. And revisit these examples any time you need.

Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2017

Cloud computing is a major technology trend that has become a buzzword in business circles. In a recent survey by IBM, 78% of companies said their cloud systems are fully integrated which is a major improvement from the 34% recorded in 2012. Meanwhile, 45% of workloads remain with on-premise solutions on dedicated servers.

You can avail the benefits of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms by reading detailed Financesonline.com reviews of leading solutions and selecting suitable ones for your needs. The global public cloud services market is predicted to grow 18% to $246.8 billion in 2017 from $209.2 billion last year. This boom is fueled by increasing corporate investments in public clouds as companies seek to integrate their on-premise systems with cloud offerings. As a result, hybrid cloud has become a preferred choice of innovative companies. Now, let’s take a look at the top cloud computing trends that are expected to rule the roost in 2017 and beyond.

Automated Data

Big data has become a major technology buzzword as companies look to analyze the tons of data they collect to get actionable insights from it. Cloud analytic apps are fueling this trend as they enable users to sort, store, and analyze data using automated processes. As a result, businesses expect to get deeper insights from the data with which they can make smarter business decisions.

Cognitive Computing

The growing sea of data accumulated by companies is often unusable and remains “dark”. Cognitive cloud solutions are helping businesses to make use of this “dark data”. These systems can learn, reason, and understand. Cognitive cloud solutions are thus expected to provide new experiences in a range of industries including airlines, healthcare, retail, and financial services.

Cloud without Servers

Cloud systems and capabilities mainly use server storage. But now, serverless cloud is being developed which means vendors can save costs on server maintenance resources such as network infrastructure. This is expected to reduce overall operating expenses. Besides lower cost, the other main advantage of serverless cloud computing is reduction in development time.

Enhanced Security

Reliable security is a major concern for potential cloud adopters. However, security for web-based solutions is expected to improve this year as companies are developing in-depth answers to major cloud security questions. This is expected to boost the cloud services market as more businesses will be convinced that cloud systems are indeed safe and secure.

Another trend is cloud vendors are utilizing cognitive capabilities to convert security loopholes into strengths. These solutions are designed using security intelligence and they generate hypotheses, reasoning based on evidence, and recommendations to improve decision making. For these reasons, cognitive security is expected to resolve skills gap, speed up responses, and reduce the complexity and cost of tackling cybercrime.

More Secure Transactions

In addition to better security, transactions made using cloud systems will also become safer. This is because encryption measures are becoming more sophisticated which makes it harder for hackers to crack the data passing through web-based networks. Thus, consumers can safely carry out financial and purchase transactions on cloud networks.

Use of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is an exciting peer-to-peer technology that promises to transform personal and business transactions. It is a reliable distributed ledger that is made secure by sophisticated cryptography. For this reason, it is considered a fail-proof system. Only selected participants can access the transaction details and each person is only allowed to see the data they are permitted to view inside a transaction.

Of late, a lot of companies and businesses are opting to use cloud blockchain technology. In fact, experts estimate that use of blockchain to improve global supply chains can help to improve efficiencies and save greater than $100 billion annually. The best blockchain systems are broadly accessible, easily scalable, and usable as cloud solutions or APIs.

Widespread Migration to Cloud Systems

Cloud is no longer considered a vague technology that could be understood only by IT experts. Today, businesses are expressing a keen interest to know about the advantages of cloud solutions and researching ways on how they can profitably migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The IT units of technologically savvy companies are actively planning and executing their cloud strategies to move into the digital age.

Culture Transformation

As more organizations migrate to the cloud, they need to transform more than technology. Businesses and IT developers need to embrace a changing culture that prioritizes collaboration and user experience. They need to experiment freely to develop innovative ideas about how they can make the best use of their cloud infrastructure.

Conclusion

Innovative companies are developing smart devices and apps to make the most of cloud technology. Cloud-based systems are becoming simpler yet smarter. Their growing power is therefore attracting more and more businesses. Feel free to share your feedback on this article as well as any other cloud computing trend you may have read about recently.

Ronald is a digital marketing specialist who has been working with a B2B company. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest on small business trends because of the nature of his work. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools To Increase Team Productivity

In recent years, the professional environment has evolved into an always connected, increasingly mobile place. This shift paved the way for freelancers and remote workers to thrive, and for some, to even become the lifeblood of business.

A Gallup poll says around 37% of workers in the U.S. have at least tried telecommuting, while staying as productive as other employees. The research also revealed that the average worker telecommutes at least two days in a month. Nowadays, work-from-home setups and distributed global offices can be as successful as your regular Wall Street conglomerate.

In order for your business to stay afloat even in the absence of a physical workplace, you need to harness the power of communication tools that places great emphasis on collaboration capabilities. Your usual devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets count as your main tools. Your broadband internet connection and your internet-powered communications provider serve as your actual gateway to your workplace.

If you’re on the lookout for a cloud platform that lets you collaborate with other team members within a virtual office environment, consider the following tools as your options.

Hubbion

Hubbion is by far the only completely free collaboration tool that offers unlimited collaboration among an unlimited number of users with no restriction whatsoever on the file sizes. Also, unlike a number of other collaboration tools in the market today, Hubbion does not restrict communication to one team of users. Instead, users may interact with multiple teams simultaneously and all projects that they are involved as a project creator, assignee or just as a participant are aggregated and may be viewed over one dashboard.

Glip

Acquired in 2015 by cloud communications leader RingCentral to complement its already powerful platform, Glip has made it easier for people to participate in team conversations via simple text chat and through typical collaboration capabilities such as instant file sharing, task management, calendars, and more. This online tool offers a free version, but existing subscribers of the RingCentral Office suite can also extend their phone system’s capabilities through click-to-call and quick directory controls that can be used in conjunction with Glip. It earns plus points for its intuitive, dedicated app that runs on virtually everything – on a desktop app, on Android or iOS devices, and yes, even on browsers (for those who hate installing stuff).

HipChat

This tool is particularly geared towards users of Atlassian products (especially JIRA). However, it can also be enjoyed by most collaborative teams since it offers simpler, cheaper pricing than most of its competitors. Users also praise it for its numerous integrations not normally found on other tools and the seemingly unlimited cap on file uploads. The UI also feels pretty much straightforward, and some have noticed how the tool keeps its “web-based” look and feel regardless of the client used. For simple team chats, HipChat could be a top contender.

Slack

On other team collaboration tools, users have to log out and log in each time they want to switch teams. Slack has found a way to address this so it’s become very ideal for freelancers who work on multiple projects or companies at a time using the same email address. Slack also gained the nod of several teams for its powerful search capabilities that even extends to file attachments. To top it off, Slack has a ton of investors behind it. Although this isn’t a product feature, you’re assured that the company behind it has the money for research and development – which usually translates to more features.

Zoho

Zoho offers an array of business productivity tools claiming that it’s your “operating system for business.” It delivers sales and marketing apps and business process apps, but its strength lies in its modular email and collaboration offering that makes project monitoring a whole lot easier. Although its features may sound too high-level, they’re pretty simple to use. You can plan projects with milestones, task lists, recurring tasks, subtasks, and the like. It can be very ideal for complex projects because the tool allows you to break them down into subtasks to make them more manageable. There’s also a dedicated bug tracker so you can tag and fix issues faster, making it more ideal for developers.

As with any other paid business solution, the perfect cloud collaboration tool for your team can’t just be based on what’s popular in the market right now or the cheapest among the lot. Some of the products mentioned above have certain advantages over another, so you have to carefully examine your options and find one that will work well with your existing workflow.

Author’s Bio:

Ronald is a digital marketing specialist for RingCentral, a leading cloud phone system solution. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest on small business trends because of the nature of his work. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

3 Legal Liability Issues for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart tv’s, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected. With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart TVs, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected.  With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

1. Your Work, Your Product

Product liability is one of the first things to focus on when discussing its impact on the legal landscape. In doing this, an organization that creates technology needs to think ahead. First off, sometimes stuff break or end up not working right. This basic malfunction can cause a house thermometer to malfunction in the winter leaving a house without heat and causing the family to relocate. Secondly, if someone from the outside hacks into the product, they could take control of it and impact the lives of people in an unfortunate manner, such as accidents, human losses etc. Every scenario must be taken into account. Finally, the product or the server is hacked leading to stolen personal data. This can lead to identity theft, which exposes sensitive credit card information or identity information of any kind.

2. So Much IoT, So Little Time

Most of the time, liability needs to be traced back to the source of the problem. In the case of IoT, this is increasingly difficult. IoT development relies on incorporating multiple chips or devices interconnected between each other. This leads to a nightmare when trying to determine the legal root problem of a security breach.  For example, if your smartphone is connected to a chain of routers, this creates multiple “blind spots” from where an attack could occur.

According to legal experts at SteinPag, “the interconnectedness of IoT causes serious negligence issues. With so many parties involved, determining which device is at fault can be challenging. This means that as lawsuits arise, there is also a lot of finger-pointing involved. With the lack of solid laws at this point, finding standards of accountability is determined by adjudication.”

3. Go Speed-Racer

People crave more technology. This drives companies to create or design it. To meet demands means to consider that the creation process is moving much faster than the standards and regulations involved. While there are compliance laws and standards for traditional technology, the IoT landscape still lacks many of them. With no requirements, there’s no specific duty to which the devices can be held accountable for. Moreover, many of the companies driven to create these devices do not have the security built into the applications. This leads to a proliferation of vulnerable devices that are not held to any specific standards, making the connection to liability blurry.

As it appears, liability for IoT devices remains an uncharted territory, for the moment. Increasingly more people want to connect to smart devices, which is good business for many companies and startups, especially. However, IoT providers should pay more attention to the sensitivity nature of developing gadgets and devices, and make sure they meet regulations, in order to avoid lawsuits and liability issues.