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Plastiq raises $75M to help small businesses use credit cards more

March 26, 2020 No Comments

When Eliot Buchanan tried to use his credit card to pay his Harvard tuition bill, the payment was rejected because the university said it doesn’t accept credit. Realizing the same problem exists for thousands of different transactions like board, rent and vendor payments, he launched Plastiq. Plastiq helps people use credit cards to pay, or get paid, for anything

Plastiq today announced that it has raised $ 75 million in venture capital in a Series D round led by B Capital Group. Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, Accomplice and Top Tier Capital Partners also participated in the round. The round brings the company’s total known venture capital raised to more than $ 140 million.

To use Plastiq, users enter their credit card information on Plastiq’s platform. In return, Plastiq will charge you a 2.5% fee and get your bills paid. While Plastiq was started with consumers in mind, SMBs have now accounted for 90% of the revenue, according to Buchanan. The new financing round will invest in building out features to give SMBs faster services around payments and processing. 

Plastiq provides a way for SMBs and consumers to pay their bills and make sure they have reliable cash flow. For example, restaurants sometimes have a drop in revenue due to seasonality or, as we’re experiencing now with COVID-19, pandemic lockdowns. Or tourism companies for cities that are struggling to attract visitors. Those companies still need cash flow, and using Plastiq’s service, they can use credit cards to pay suppliers even in an off season. 

There is no shortage of competition from other companies also trying to solve pain points in small-business cash flow. According to Buchanan, Plastiq’s biggest competitors are traditional lenders, as well as companies like Kabbage and Fundbox. Similar claims could be made about Brex, which offers a credit card for startups to access capital faster. 

Kabbage provides funding to SMBs through automated business loans. The SoftBank-backed company landed $ 200 million in a revolving credit line back in July, fresh off of landing strong partnerships with banks and giants like Alibaba to access more customers. Kabbage loans out roughly $ 2-3 billion to SMBs every year. 

Plastiq, according to its release, is also on track to make more than $ 2 billion in transactions. But unlike Kabagge, Plastiq doesn’t issue loans or credit, it just unlocks a payment opportunity.

“SMBs don’t need to be burdened with additional debt or additional loans,” Buchanan said. “So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, let’s use a behavior they have already earned.” 

Buchanan would not disclose Plastiq’s current valuation or revenue, but he did say that it’s not too far away from $ 100 million in revenue run rate. The company’s revenue has grown 150% from 2018 to 2019. 

The company also noted that it has surpassed “well over 1 million users,” up 150% in unique new users from 2018 to 2019.

In terms of profitability, Buchanan said that “we could be profitable if we wanted to be,” noting that Plastiq’s revenue and margins could lead them toward profitability if they wanted to focus less on growth. But he added they don’t plan to “slow down” the growth engine any time soon — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the Series D round closed at the end of 2019, Buchanan said the pandemic did not impact the deal. However, the company had planned to time the announcement with tax season. Now, as small businesses struggle to secure capital and stay afloat due to lockdowns across the country, Plastiq’s new raise feels more fitting. 

“Our customers are more thankful for solutions like ours as traditional sources of lending are drying up and not as easy to access” Buchanan said. “Hopefully, we can measure how many businesses make it through this because of us.” 

The 140-person company is currently hiring across product and engineering roles.


Startups – TechCrunch


Six great ways to get more out of your digital marketing campaigns in 2020

March 4, 2020 No Comments

As we enter 2020, it’s time to leave behind old marketing strategies and adopt new ones. After all, there is a lot of innovation happening. From AI in customer service to influencers taking over social media, a lot has changed in the last year. Digital marketing campaigns now sprawl across different channels, tools, and processes.

While some strategies might remain partially the same, they will get a facelift in 2020. If you are looking to take your marketing to the next level in 2020, we’ve got some tips for you.

Here are some of the best ways to get more out of your marketing campaigns this year:

1. Create more video content

Videos have transformed the content marketing landscape. They have changed the way brands promote their products and create content. And video content is also becoming more popular. Wondering why?

Because people like watching videos.

In fact, 72% of people said that they would like to watch videos to learn about a product or service.

If you haven’t been using video content, you’re losing out on a lot of opportunities to grow your brand. With the evolution of social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, the video content game has changed dramatically. Video content is a versatile tool to increase brand awareness and drive engagement.

So, what kind of videos can brands create for promotion?

There are many different options — educational videos, onboarding videos, meet-the-team videos, customer journey videos, event videos, and more.

Looking for inspiration?

Take a look at the Reebok video marketing campaign

They created a video for their #HonourYourDays campaign which shows a woman’s relationship with running in reverse mentioning that the average human life is about 25,915 days.

While it doesn’t directly promote their products, it does highlight the importance of fitness. It’s a great way to spread awareness without being too promotional.

Source: YouTube

2. Use chatbots to enhance customer experience

With the help of intelligent chatbots, you can also leverage customer data. These virtual assistants are capable of collecting data from customer interactions and giving you insights into how your brand can improve.

For example, if customers are complaining about a specific product, you can dive deep into the issue and understand the problem on a granular level.

Providing a great customer experience can help brands increase lead generation and revenue. What’s more, it can also help you improve your customer experience and lower your customer acquisition cost.

One of the biggest benefits of customer service chatbots is that they are available 24×7 and give quick responses to queries.

Chatbots are also great tools for helping customers keep track of their purchases.

Mastercard’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger

For example, Mastercard’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger allows its users to ask specific questions. On it, a user can ask how much they’ve spent on food or on Uber.

For each user, the answer is personalized based on their bank statement. Users can also send submit questions to ask for more information about a particular product.

Mastercard's Facebook Messenger chatbot used for digital marketing

Image via Mastercard

3. Focus on personalization

Most content marketers believe that when a prospect customer engages with their brand and makes a purchase, it’s a win.

But what’s next?

A customer journey starts right from when a target customer engages with your brand and it continues through conversion. But it also includes providing customer support and elevating their buyers’ journey to turn them into cheerleaders of your brand.

So, it is essential to reach out to your audience and provide valuable services that are not solely revenue-centric. 76% of consumers believe that it’s easy to switch to a different brand to find an experience that will match their expectations.

So, how can you provide a memorable experience to your customers?

That’s where personalization comes into play. Not only can it improve the customer experience you deliver, but it can also boost your sales.

Providing a personalized experience can significantly impact your relationships with your customers. So, how can you create a more personalized experience for your customers?

Tools like Google Analytics and Cortex can help you get insights into your audience’s behavior. By using that data, you can find out what kind of content your audience is looking for and then optimize your content creation strategy accordingly.

4. Leverage influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has grown to become a whopping five to ten billion-dollar industry. It has helped marketers reach their target audiences, generate brand awareness, get more leads, and boost sales.

Collaborating with social media influencers has become a great way for brands to promote their products and services. When an influencer endorses your brand or reviews your product, it can get you a lot of publicity.

How?

Take a leaf from Daniel Wellington’s digital marketing strategy

To create buzz about their brand, they send their watches to multiple influencers. They encourage those influencers to create posts with the hashtag #DanielWellington to help promote their products.

Daniel Wellington’s digital marketing strategy

Source: Instagram

Another example of great influencer marketing is Subaru’s #MeetAnOwner campaign

In this campaign, the company reached out to influencers from diverse backgrounds. One of the biggest influencers in their campaign was Devin Graham (@devinsupertramp) with over five million YouTube subscribers at the time. He is known for his daredevilry.

By partnering with Devin, Subaru was able to reach out to outdoor adventure junkies. Graham’s sponsored video with Subaru gained around 1.3 million views and 1.1k comments.

Source: YouTube

5. Automate your email marketing campaigns

About 73% of marketers consider email marketing to be crucial to their company’s success.

But it can be a time-consuming strategy. If you’re short on time, there is a way out – automate your email marketing campaigns. Not only can it help you save a ton of time, but it can also help you create more personalized content.

With this strategy, you can ensure that your content is delivered to your customers at the right times.

For instance, if a customer has abandoned their cart, you can send them a reminder to complete the transaction.

Here’s an example of how American technology company, FiftyThree, notifies their customers about abandoned carts with an appealing message.

example of automating email marketing campaigns

Source: Shopify

Marketers often use these emails to encourage their customers to take another step or get closer to a purchase.

Emails also provide you with an opportunity to upsell your products.

For example, an email that includes a section containing products similar to a user’s previous purchases can trigger their engagement.

Amazon's example of using product suggestions via email marketing

Source: Smartrmail

Email automation saves the time and efforts that are otherwise invested into following up with each action of a user. It also reduces the potential for errors such as hitting the send button prematurely when the user might not be ready.

6. Build a community

Building a community around your brand will help you improve your brand awareness, drive higher engagement, and organically boost your SEO.

When users create and share content around your brand, you are likely to get noticed by search engines. Brand mentions, post shares, comments, and likes — all of these help your cause.

Further, having a community of followers also helps strengthen your branding.

When you share valuable content that helps your target audience or aligns with their interests, they tend to associate more with your brand and become loyal customers.

Some companies even have brand ambassadors who regularly create content for them in return for benefits such as free products, invites to product launches or other events.

A great example of a community is GoPro, an action camera company that has solidified its position in the market by building a strong community of sports enthusiasts, photographers, and adventurers across the world.

The brand builds personal relationships with their customers while maintaining a focus on its target audience of sports enthusiasts.

example of GoPro's digital marketing campaign

Source: Instagram

Conclusion

Videos, chatbots, influencer marketing, personalization, and more — there is a lot of innovation happening in the digital marketing space. Anyone, from big brands to mom-and-pop stores, can use these strategies to grow their business. What are you waiting for? It’s time to incorporate these strategies into your marketing plan for 2020.

Have you used any of these strategies before? Please share your experiences and insights in the comments section.

Shane Barker is a Digital Strategist, Brand and Influencer Consultant. He can be found on Twitter @shane_barker.

The post Six great ways to get more out of your digital marketing campaigns in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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WireGuard Gives Linux a Faster, More Secure VPN

March 2, 2020 No Comments

The virtual private network software from security researcher Jason Donenfeld wins fans with its simplicity and ease of auditing.
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This Week in Apps: YouTube TV cancels Apple’s rev share, more bad news for mobile voting, WhatsApp hits 2B users

February 16, 2020 No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $ 120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $ 544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we look at YouTube TV’s decision to stop revenue-sharing with Apple, another mobile voting app with serious flaws, new Apple launches in coding and AR, Microsoft’s game-streaming service Project xCloud arrival on iOS and other notable app news and trends, including WhatsApp’s big 2 billion user milestone, and more.

Headlines

YouTube TV fights back against Apple’s cut of in-app subscription revenue

This week, YouTube emailed customers subscribed to its YouTube TV service by way of Apple’s in-app purchases to let them know that this subscription offering will be discontinued starting on March 13, 2020. Current subscribers will have their subscription canceled automatically on their billing date after March 13, the letter said.

This is a pretty severe way for Google to end its subscription revenue-sharing with Apple, however. Most companies that decide to shut off in-app subscriptions still continue to honor those from existing subscribers — they just stop selling to new customers. In YouTube TV’s case, it’s actually ending its relationship with all its customers on Apple devices with the hope they’ll return and resubscribe. That’s quite a risk, given that YouTube TV is not the only streaming TV service out there, and customers getting their subscription canceled may take this opportunity to shop around. The timing is also poorly thought-out, given that YouTube TV just picked up new subs following Sony’s PlayStation Vue shutdown — and now it’s kicking them out.

The move makes Google the latest company to rebel against Apple’s 30% cut of all in-app payments (which drops to 15% in year two). A growing number of app publishers are refusing to share a cut of their revenue with Apple — even saying that Apple’s decision to charge this fee is anti-competitive. For example, Spotify believes Apple’s fee makes it more difficult to compete with Apple’s built-in music service, and has raised the issue repeatedly to regulators. Netflix also stopped paying the “Apple tax” over a year ago.

Mobile voting app Voatz, used by several states, was filled with security flaws

Above: Voatz, via The NYT

Last week, we looked at how a smartphone app meant to tabulate votes from the caucuses really screwed things up in Iowa. This week, MIT researchers took a look at mobile voting app Voatz, which has been used to tally votes for federal elections in parts of West Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Washington as part of various mobile voting pilot programs. The researchers found the app was riddled with security flaws that would let attackers monitor votes or even change ballots or block them without users’ knowledge. Attackers could also create a tainted paper trail, making a reliable audit impossible — despite Voatz’s promise of using blockchain technology to increase security. One security expert, speaking to VICE, called the app “sloppy” and filled with “elementary” mistakes.

Coming on the heels of the Iowa caucus mobile voting disaster, this latest news delivers another huge blow to the promise of mobile voting in the U.S.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services

February 15, 2020 No Comments

Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.

Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.

Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience

Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.

Google for branding - Google Marketing Platform

Source: Google support

Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.

When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.

Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.

Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of

  • What actions your users take
  • Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
  • Check the navigation path they take
  • Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand

Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches

Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.

Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.

Google for branding with Google My Business

Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.

Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.

Using Google My Business to view ratings and info of a business

Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to  Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.

Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server

G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.

G Suite

Source: Rohutech.com

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.

Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels

Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.

Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.

Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.

Google for Retail

Source: Google for Retail

Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.

YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.

Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.

YouTube video ad formats

Source: TipsforSEM

Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.

The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.

The secret key: NAP

NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.

How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.

Examples of good and bad NAP

Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.

Conclusion

Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.

Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.

The post Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Best Kids Travel Gear: Strollers, Flasks, Toys, and More

December 21, 2019 No Comments

Traveling with babies, toddlers, or young children is no picnic. These accessories should help.
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Odoo grabs $90M to sell more SMEs on its business app suite

December 17, 2019 No Comments

Belgium-based all-in-one business software maker Odoo, which offers an open source version as well as subscription-based enterprise software and SaaS, has taken in $ 90 million led by a new investor: Global growth equity investor Summit Partners.

The funds have been raised via a secondary share sale. Odoo’s executive management team and existing investor SRIW and its affiliate Noshaq also participated in the share sale by buying stock — with VC firms Sofinnova and XAnge selling part of their shares to Summit Partners and others.

Odoo is largely profitable and grows at 60% per year with an 83% gross margin product; so, we don’t need to raise money,” a spokeswoman told us. “Our bottleneck is not the cash but the recruitment of new developers, and the development of the partner network.

“What’s unusual in the deal is that existing managers, instead of cashing out, purchased part of the shares using a loan with banks.”

The 2005-founded company — which used to go by the name of OpenERP before transitioning to its current open core model in 2015 — last took in a $ 10M Series B back in 2014, per Crunchbase.

Odoo offers some 30 applications via its Enterprise platform — including ERP, accounting, stock, manufacturing, CRM, project management, marketing, human resources, website, eCommerce and point-of-sale apps — while a community of ~20,000 active members has contributed 16,000+ apps to the open source version of its software, addressing a broader swathe of business needs.

It focuses on the SME business apps segment, competing with the likes of Oracle, SAP and Zoho, to name a few. Odoo says it has in excess of 4.5 million users worldwide at this point, and touts revenue growth “consistently above 50% over the last ten years”.

Summit Partners told us funds from the secondary sale will be used to accelerate product development — and for continued global expansion.

“In our experience, traditional ERP is expensive and frequently fails to adapt to the unique needs of dynamic businesses. With its flexible suite of applications and a relentless focus on product, we believe Odoo is ideally positioned to capture this large and compelling market opportunity,” said Antony Clavel, a Summit Partners principal who has joined the Odoo board, in a supporting statement.

Odoo’s spokeswoman added that part of the expansion plan includes opening an office in Mexico in January, and another in Antwerpen, Belgium, in Q3.

This report was updated with additional comment


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Top five SEO tools to generate more leads in 2020

November 28, 2019 No Comments

Lead generation via SEO is one of the best ways to improve the overall conversion rate of your website. There are several go-to SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Google Keyword Planner that most marketers use for keyword research, competitor tracking, and SERP movements. However, this is only one side of the equation.

Once people’s organic searches have pointed them to your web pages, what’s the best way to ensure they take the next step and opt into your email list? 

Let’s take a look at the top five SEO lead generation tools and how you can use them to convert more of your site’s visitors in 2020 and ahead.

1. Hello Bar

With Hello Bar, you can convert your existing visitors into customers. You can design custom messages for your visitors and display them just at the right time.

Hello Bar sits at the top of your site, and it can be used to display irresistible offers to your visitors. You can even collect email addresses from your visitors to increase your subscriber database. Here is an example of Hello Bar in action:

Source

Besides, you can use Hello Bar to create pop-ups that collect the name and email id of your visitors. 

Pop-ups help to drive 1375% more subscribers.

An example of a Hello Bar pop-up is provided below:

SEO tool for lead generation - Hello Bar

Source

You can easily customize your headline, CTA and the overall design of the bar and the pop-up. The platform automatically chooses the best color combination for the CTAs so you don’t need to spend hours testing that. 

With Hello Bar, you can customize your message targeting by:

  • Sending holiday-related messages to visitors during the holidays. 
  • Customize your pop-up for the mobile audience as the screen size is less.
  • Customize your message based on the location of your customer. 
  • Display the pop-up during the exit-intent, just when the visitors are planning to leave your website.

2. ClickMeeting

Webinars are one of the best ways to generate leads. 

Webinars offer a dual advantage. Firstly, you can generate leads right when you run a webinar, and secondly, you can repurpose your webinar into a blog post. 

Generate leads directly via webinars

With ClickMeeting, you can run custom webinars to share product demos, conduct training sessions or run online courses. You can customize your webinar with a few clicks, and run them without worrying about the type of device and operating system. You can even stream your webinar live to Facebook or YouTube, allowing you to acquire even more leads.

But the true SEO-based lead capture power of webinars is to be found in evergreen topics that will continue to attract relevant audience members over time.

A screenshot of a social media post Description automatically generated

Source

On-demand webinars are one of the fastest and easiest ways to expand your lead base. 

Repurpose your webinar

Repurposing your webinar into a lengthy blog post, consisting of more than 2000 words, helps it to rank for new search queries. When your site achieves higher rankings for new keywords, it automatically maximizes your organic traffic, leading to more conversions. 

Here are some great ways to repurpose webinars to generate leads:

  • You can divide your webinar recordings into short videos of three to five minutes each and post the video on channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Add a compelling call to action, and people who watch the video are likely to reach out.
  • Turn the entire webinar into a blog post and promote it on your social networks for added visibility. Try to present the blog post in a series of steps. This helps your site to get ranked as a featured snippet.
  • Turn your webinar Q&A into a support resource page. FAQ pages offer an excellent opportunity to rank as a featured snippet. When people find answers to questions related to your business niche, they will be all the more likely to connect with your business.
  • Create a transcript of your webinar and include long-tail (especially question keywords) in it. 

3. VideoBoost

It is difficult to succeed in your lead generation efforts in 2020 without videos. 

VideoBoost is an app that lets you create trendy videos easily. It has an impressive collection of ready to use video templates and marketing copy. You can easily brand it and start generating leads for your business.

Next time when you are planning to optimize your website for the festive occasion, head over to VideoBoost and create a video for your audience using video templates for Black Friday, Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

SEO tool for lead generation - VideoBoost

 

4. vCita

vCita offers a dynamic widget that you can add to your site to convert your visitors into leads or customers. 

With vCita’s lead generation widget, you can capture leads from all the pages on your website with a floating CTA that follows the users from page to page.

The tool also lets your audience to book appointments without leaving the site. All the contact details of the visitors get stored in a built-in CRM that can be used later to trigger follow-up nurture messages via email or SMS.

The best place to start with this kind of strategy might be to identify the pages on your site with the most traffic from high-intent organic search terms rates and add the vCita widget to them. I am sure you’ll be able to notice the difference in the number of conversions happening on your site.

5. OptinMonster

OptinMonster is the most powerful conversion optimization tool in the world. It easily integrates with all the major email marketing and CRM platforms. 

One of the tricks that OptinMonster uses to generate leads is via content upgrades. With the help of content upgrade, you offer users bonus content for performing an action on your site. This action can be – joining your email list or filling out a form. 

SnackNation was able to generate 1200 new leads each month by using OptinMonster for content upgrades. 

 

With features like MonsterLinks, you can convert any image or link into a two-step opt-in process. It works on the Zeigarnik effect which states that people are more likely to complete a task if they start it. 

 

Final thoughts

SEO is all about generating relevant, and quality leads for a business. Moreover, your SEO strategy should also focus on converting the acquired leads. Both lead generation and CRO forms an integral part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. 

Start making the most with the power of the above five SEO tools to generate quality leads in 2020 and ahead. Happy marketing! 

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of the SEO Sandwitch blog.

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How To Get More Out Of Excel Solver

November 27, 2019 No Comments

Excel Solver is a fantastic tool, but most examples only cover simple marketing use cases. We’ll cover the next steps of enhancing your models and how to automate the process.

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More layoffs at pivoting London ed tech startup pi-top

November 17, 2019 No Comments

London ed tech startup pi-top has gone through another round of layoffs, TechCrunch has learned.

Pi-top confirmed that eight jobs have been cut in the London office, saying the job losses resulted from “restructuring our business to focus on the U.S. education market.”

In August we broke the news that the STEM hardware-focused company had cut 12 staff after losing out on a major contract; pi-top told us then that its headcount had been reduced from 72 to 60.

The latest cuts suggest the workforce has been reduced to around 50 — although we have also heard that company headcount is now considerably lower than that.

One source told us that 12 jobs have gone in the London office this week, as well as additional cuts in the China office, where the company’s hardware team is based — but pi-top denied there have been any changes to its China team.

Pi-top said in August that the layoffs were related to implementing a new strategy.

Commenting on the latest cuts, it told us: “We have made changes within the company that reflect our business focus on the U.S. education market and our increasingly important SaaS learning platform.”

“The core of our business remains unchanged and we are happy with progress and the fantastic feedback we have received on pitop 4 from our school partners,” pi-top added.

Additionally, we have heard that a further eight roles at the U.K. office have been informed to staff as at risk of redundancy. Affected jobs at risk include roles in product, marketing, creative services, customer support and finance.

We also understand that a number of employees have left the company of their own accord in recent months, following an earlier round of layoffs.

Pi-top did not provide comment on jobs at risk of redundancy, but told us that it has hired three new staff “to accelerate the SaaS side of our education offering and will be increasing our numbers in the U.S. to service our growth in the region.”

We understand that the latest round of cuts have been communicated to staff as a cost-reduction exercise and also linked to implementing a new strategy. Staff have also been told that the business focus has shifted to the U.S schools market.

As we reported earlier this year, pi-top appointed a new executive chairman of its board who has a strong U.S. focus: Stanley Buchesky served in the Trump administration as an interim CFO for the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He is also the founder of a U.S. ed tech seed fund.

Sources familiar with pi-top say the company is seeking to pivot away from making proprietary ed tech hardware to focus on a SaaS learning platform for teaching STEM, called pi-top Further.

At the start of this year it crowdfunded a fourth-gen STEM device, the pi-top 4, with an estimated shipping date of this month. The crowdfunder attracted 521 backers, pledging close to $ 200,000 to fund the project.

In the pi-top 4 Kickstarter pitch the device is slated as being supported by a software platform called Further — which is described as a “free social making platform” that “teaches you how to use all the pi-top components through completing challenges and contributing projects to the community,” as well as offering social sharing features.

The plan now is for pi-top to monetize that software platform by charging subscription fees for elements of the service — with the ultimate goal of SaaS revenues making up the bulk of its business as hardware sales are de-emphasized. (Hardware is hard; and pi-top’s current STEM learning flagship has faced some challenges with reliability, as we reported in August.)

We understand that the strategic change to Further — from free to a subscription service — was communicated to staff internally in September.

Asked about progress on the pi-top 4, the company told us the device began shipping to backers this week. 

“We are pleased to announce the release of pi-top 4 and pi-top Further, our new learning and robotics coding platform,” it said. “This new product suite provides educators the ability to teach coding, robotics and AI with step-by-step curriculum and an integrated coding window that powers the projects students build. With pi-top, teachers can effectively use Project Based Learning and students can learn by doing and apply what they learn to the real world.”

Last month pi-top announced it had taken in $ 4 million in additional investment to fund the planned pivot to SaaS — and “bridge towards profitability,” as it put it today.

“The changes you see are a fast growing start-up shifting from revenue focus to a right-sized profit generating company,” it also told us.

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