Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
When it comes to marketing, companies have a number of methods and mediums they can use in order to reach their customers. One of the more popular, is to create and send out an email marketing campaign. While these email blasts can be an effective way to grow your company and better connect with your customers, there is a good chance your emails won’t reach your audience because they get blocked by spam filters.
If you are developing a new email marketing campaign, you need to first know a bit about spam filters. Because there are no set rules that all spam filter developers adhere to, you will notice that filters vary in how effectively they can block emails. Some filter nearly all spam while others filter only the most obvious spam messages. Getting past these filters takes trial and error but there are tips you can employ to succeed.
It is worthwhile looking at the coding of your email. Because some email scammers include hidden HTML or other coding that the recipient won’t see in an email, many filters are now set up to scan the code of an email as well. You should get someone who is proficient to either develop a cleanly coded email template you can use, or to audit the code to ensure there are no problems.
Beyond this, take a look at the actual content you are including in your email message. If you are including special offers, sales, and content that isn’t overly useful, there is a high chance that recipients will flag the email as spam, causing future communication that comes from you to be blocked.
The most successful emails tend to provide useful information like how the product or service can be used, updates from the company, and even industry-related articles. Basically, anything that drives interest and the desire in the recipient to contact you about the service you provide.
In an effort to cut down on spam, many email providers scan the subject line of emails for potential spam words. If these keywords are found, the email will likely be blocked. The challenging part about this, is actually figuring out which words will get through filters and which will cause an email to be blocked.
One of the best resources we have found is this article on Hubspot. In general, good advice is to avoid cliche, and words that have come to be associated with sales oriented talk or jargon e.g., price, cheap, and no fees. Avoid special characters, like ‘$’ and ‘!’ in the subject line, as many spammers use these to try to grab the attention of the reader.
In order to maximize the percentage of users who open your emails, clean out your subscriber list on a regular basis. Take a look for email addresses that have been deleted, or users who no longer work at the business. By auditing your subscriber list, you raise the chance that your emails will be opened and read by more recipients.
You should also look into the email addresses themselves. If you are sending an email to a general account i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org, you may not be actually reaching a real person, but an account that automates tasks instead. Try to send your email to individuals instead of general accounts.
Testing your email before sending it out to your audience will help in ensuring that your email makes it through spam filters. The best way to test is to look for a spam testing solution. These solutions allow you to essentially send the email to a number of different services and clients, before presenting you with a report on whether your email managed to get through to the main services.
You can test the email itself in different browsers. While many Internet browsers can render or show most emails, they will often render them slightly differently e.g., text will be bigger, or content may not expand to fit screen size. If the content looks weird to the viewer, there is a high chance that it will not be read and may be flagged as spam instead.
As you may or may not know, there are actually verification procedures that users who send bulk emails must pass. These various procedures essentially let the different email services know that you, as the sender, are a legitimate business and not a spammer.
Many of the bigger email service providers have set guidelines on their websites for bulk senders, so try looking on the Internet for the different guidelines. Some of the more general requirements include:
Of course, this can take time and some knowledge of how the Internet and email works, so one option is to work with an email expert who can help you set up your server or third-party platform so that emails from you will be verified. If you are looking for a way to make your email marketing efforts more successful, or to ensure that they make it through spam filters, please contact us today to see how we can help.
Back in October, Facebook introduced their revamped Page Insights. This tool, for any business or person with a Page, allows admin to gain insight and understanding about how people are interacting with the content that is posted. These measurements offer some really useful information that you could use to optimize your marketing efforts.
Here are four ways you can use the various measurements presented by Page Insights to help figure out what content and posts work. From here, you can work out what strategy to adopt or focus on next when it comes to connecting with your customers.
These two numbers, according to Facebook, are presented with bars to visualize how engaged visitors are with your content. Naturally, the higher the number means greater engagement. You can keep a running tally of these figures and the different posts on your profile. Over time, you should begin to see patterns emerge as to what type of content your visitors interact with most, and what type they are more likely to share or like. If you can continue to create similar content, you should see overall engagement increase.
In order to get Likes, you first need to know what works and what doesn't. This means looking at the Likes tab. When you click on it, you will see a breakdown of your content by type - Photos, Status and Link. You will also see four sections that present data on a daily, total and net basis. The first section you should look at is Total Likes. This graph visualizes the number of likes each type of content has received, allowing you to see what type works best.
Combine this with the other sections and you should gain a pretty clear picture as to what type of content is working, where it works best, and even the best time to post. From here, you can tweak content and posts, and see how your visitors respond. In theory, if you begin to provide what they like, your exposure should increase.
On Facebook, figuring out your audience is actually fairly easy. Open your Page Insights and click on the People tab. On this page you will be able to narrow down those who interact with your page demographically. This can help you determine age, sex, location, and even check-in information. If for example, you see that women make up 70% of the users who like your content, creating content that is aimed more at them could see some great payoffs.
When you click on the Reach tab from the Insights page, you should see a wealth of useful data. Some of the more interesting sections include post reach, which displays exactly how your content reached people - paid or organic. You can also look at the Likes, Comments, and Shares section to see how many users liked your content. This graph also shows the number of users who hid or unliked your posts.
This can be really helpful in helping you figure out what type of posts and content to avoid and what content was seen by the highest number of people.
You can also see this information applied to specific posts from the main overview tab. If you scroll down on the main Insights page you will see a breakdown of your posts. Take a look at both the Engagement, (as we mentioned above), as well as the reach. If you see posts with lots of interaction but a low reach this is worth looking into. The same goes for content that has achieved a high reach with little engagement.
In general, tracking the information displayed on your Page Insights can be helpful in shedding light into what content works and what doesn't. When you have an understanding of this information, you can then look into creating content that will work best for your business. The truth is, there is no general answer as to what works best, and this varies for each individual company.
If you would like help figuring out your Facebook Page and content, please contact us today to see how we can help.
One of the most popular tech terms of the past year, and more, is 'the cloud'. It seems like businesses the world over are not only interested in finding out more, but are now starting to integrate it into their work environments. When you hear experts talk about the cloud, they often also mention virtualization. Because of this, the two terms are often taken to mean the same thing, when in actual fact they are different.
Some examples of virtualization include:
Some examples of cloud computing include:
Think about it this way: A cloud storage provider uses servers in a data center to host their storage. Without virtualization, the provider would essentially need one server per client or per group of clients. With many popular storage providers having millions of users, they would need to have an obscene amount of servers. So what they do is virtualize multiple servers and house them in one server. In other words, virtualization allows the cloud to function.
It's important to realize that the cloud is still reliant on servers, just as virtualization is. The main difference is that when companies virtualize, they usually host the servers on-site. When companies go 'to the cloud', they usually connect via the Internet to servers that are hosted off-site (outside of the organization).
Most companies tend to think of the cloud as a system - it provides end-users a service that they can use e.g., a word processor and document management system you access via your browser. Essentially, the cloud gives many small businesses access to enterprise level applications at a fraction of the cost - they don't have to develop, host and maintain these applications, yet see all the usability and benefits.
Because virtualization is usually local, while the cloud is seen to be more of a service, there is no real answer as to which is better - it really depends on the individual organization. If your business already has servers and systems which deliver capabilities like email, document sharing, telephony, etc. in place, then virtualization may be better employed, largely because it can help reduce your overhead and increase resource efficiency.
On the other hand, if you are a new company, or are looking to introduce a new system like document storage or production, a cloud service might well be a valuable option to look into.
Regardless of what you think would be best for your company, why not get in touch with us? Our experts can work with you to help you find the solution that best fits your company. Give us a call today.
Many small businesses, even when they are an established company doing well, can encounter problems and run into a wall, blocking progress. Profits can level off and growth or sales can start to level out. This creates stagnation which can be a difficult challenge to overcome, especially to those who are risk averse. One way companies might overcome these issues is by analyzing existing data in the organization and looking for patterns.
In order to move your business forward and grow, you should analyze and try to interpret the data in your organization. This includes everything from previous financial statements, year-on-year sales figures and numbers, and even KPIs or estimated Vs actual figures. By looking into this data, you will eventually begin to find patterns which can be useful in not only helping you figure out the current state of your company, but in identifying where it is going.
One option many businesses explore is utilizing Business Intelligence software, which allows businesses to easily track data and identify patterns, among other uses. There are a wide variety of programs, so if you are looking to begin tracking data and analyzing patterns, try contacting us today to see what solutions we have for you.
There is a growing trend among many businesses of connecting to the office from outside, or doing work remotely. In order to do so, most users require an Internet connection, often using public Wi-Fi connections. The issue with many public Wi-Fi connections is that they may not be as secure as you think, and could lead to increased security threats and even loss of data.
If you or your employees work outside of the office, and rely on, or frequently connect to public Wi-Fi connections, there are three security dangers you should be aware of.
The issue is that they may have attached data monitors that collect data - including passwords and other private information going into and out of the network. Some have even gone so far as to set up a portal site that one must navigate to in order to log in and use the service - similar to what you see when you use most public Wi-Fi connections. Only these sites are loaded with malware which can be installed onto your system once you log in.
In order to avoid this, it is a good idea to look at the name of the network you are actually connecting to and check whether there is more than one with a similar name, or if there are any spelling mistakes. If you are unsure, the best approach is to check the name of the network at the business which is providing this connection.
The problem with this is when you connect to a public Wi-Fi connection. Other people on that network may also be able to see those files. If you didn't take the important files out of the folder, they could potentially steal the data contained within. Hackers know this, and may sit on the networks looking for other computers with shared files.
In order to avoid this, you should ensure that you aren't sharing files stored in public folders on your computer. Try using other ways to share documents like a cloud storage provider.
If you or an employee connects to the office remotely while connected to a public network, one way to minimize the chances of data being intercepted is by using a VPN. These connections set up a direct link between the computer and the home network, and make it difficult for those who aren't part of that network to connect to and view data that is transmitted over this connection.
On top of this, it is a good idea to avoid entering passwords or other important information like bank account and ID numbers while connected to public networks.
If you are looking for ways to keep your data secure while out of the office, get in touch with us today to see how we can help.
The holiday season is more or less officially upon on us. As with the past few years, tech items like tablets and laptops will be among the most popular gifts given. Beyond that, the next few months are among the best time of the year to buy a new laptop. If you are already looking for a new laptop this season, for a loved one, yourself, or for business, you know that it can be tough to pick one that will be reliable.
To pick a laptop that will be not only be reliable but also make a great gift, follow our four great tips.
If you are buying a laptop for someone who will be using it for work, and works on a daily basis with intensive software like Photoshop, then look for one with higher-end hardware. If the laptop is going to be used for everyday work, like word processing, email and spreadsheets, you likely don't need one with high level hardware.
When considering different laptops, it is a good idea to actually try the laptop out in the store to see if it can handle what it will be used for.
Now, we all know that many companies don't have the best customer service but there are a number of laptop manufacturers with good to even great customer support. Pick a laptop that is made by the manufacturers offering good support so that should something go wrong, there is a better chance of reaching someone who will be able to effectively help.
How do you know which companies have the best tech support though? The easiest way to find out is to do a search on the Internet. You will come up with a large number of results and rankings, most of which seem to agree that in 2013 the top four brands for tech and customer support are:
What you want to look at is the failure rate of laptops over time. There was an interesting study conducted by SquareTrade last year looking at the failure rate of popular laptop manufacturers over three years. Firstly, it found that one in three laptops will fail or experience hardware failure and need to be repaired within three years.
The study found that Asus laptops actually failed the least - with slightly over 15% of laptops failing within three years. Apple fared in the middle of the pack, with 17.4% of laptops failing within three years. The bottom of the pack was HP, with 26.6%, of laptops failing within three years.
What this study suggests is that the extended warranty plans offered by many companies are likely a good idea, especially if the intended use of the laptop is for business purposes.
The Internet can provide a good source of answers for you. If you take the information about what the laptop will be used for you can use this to look at the various reviews on sites like Amazon, The Wirecutter or Laptop Mag - which is arguably the best site out there for laptop reviews.
The key here is to not pay full attention to the ratings - stars, %, etc. - instead, look at the reviews offered by users. If you are going to buy a laptop for someone who will be away from the office and power sources for a longer period of time, look for reviews from users that mention poor battery life. If you see more than a few reviews that mention this weakness you should probably steer clear of this particular device.
For the vast majority of business users, you will likely want to look for a laptop which reviewers and users call a workhorse. These are usually devices that are not only reliable, but will be able to handle most business related tasks and are available at an affordable price.
If you are looking to purchase a laptop this holiday season, please contact us today so that you get the best gift possible.
On November 8 the thirtieth typhoon of the 2013 typhoon season hit the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan is widely thought to be the most intense storm to make landfall in recorded history, leaving behind it flattened cities and over 4000 casualties. While disasters of this magnitude are statistically rare, companies should be taking steps to prepare their business for any disaster on any level. To many companies this means developing a business continuity plan, and technology can help ensure these plans are working.
Technology can help small to medium sized businesses develop and execute both disaster recovery and business continuity plans in many ways. Here are five:
With a multitude of chat apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and iMessenger, companies can set up group chats that can be accessed via multiple devices from nearly anywhere. This means that you can get information out fast, with a higher chance of reaching the people you need to during and after a disaster.
Combine this with virtualized systems like email and VoIP, both of which are usually hosted off-site and are highly likely to remain optional during a disaster, and you further boost the chances and effectiveness of communication.
This is why there are numerous well-designed software options that allow businesses to not only develop, but track, implement and share recovery and continuity plans with greater effectiveness than manual systems.
What's more, is many of these solutions are created using industry standards and can often help you apply proven methods that may not have been previously possible.
When you need to recover data, you can usually log on to any computer with an Internet connection and have your files and data back in a fairly short amount of time. This means that your company can return to as near full operation status as quickly as possible without much loss of time and consequently, profit.
There are many ways technology can be employed in order to make planning for disasters and even recovering from them less challenging. If you are looking to learn more about how technology can help your business, get in touch.
The key ingredient to many successful businesses is good connections. This might be links with customers, suppliers, or colleagues, etc. Simply put, companies that can connect with their stakeholders will be better able to build a strong brand. And for many companies the best way to connect is via various social media platforms. If you are having trouble connecting with people, it may be because it is too difficult for them to find you on social media in the first place.
If you are struggling to make your existence known on social media, and missing out on those all important connections, then here are five tips to make you easier to find.
1. Use your actual name When it comes to social media, you want to be easily found. When your customers try to find you, they will almost always enter the name they call your company by. Therefore, your profile on social media needs to register this name even if it isn't your company's official name. Use the same name in various places on your profile e.g., in the About us section and even in your posts if it fits. If they can find more than one of your social media profiles (because you have used the same company name for all of them), there is a higher chance they will connect with you.
2. Become more recognizable We are highly visual people and when we see patterns, will normally begin to associate it with something. Many of us are also on more than one social media platform, so companies can leverage this in order to gain more connections.
Try having the same profile picture on all of your profiles too. What this does is make you and your brand more recognizable. If people are looking at other social networks that you have a presence on and they see the same profile picture, they are more likely to recognize you as the same company and potentially be more willing to connect with you. If you change your picture on one profile, be sure to update it on the others.
3. Create more social emails We don't mean start emailing people asking them to connect, as this will likely drive people away because they will think you are spamming them. Instead, try putting links to your social media profiles in your email signatures with a suggestion to connect. Because you likely send a fair number of emails out on a daily basis, having links to your social media profiles can help increase the chances of people reaching out and connecting with you.
4. Don't use multiple email addresses It can be tempting to use different email addresses for each social media platform - this can help track integration and engagement - but in truth, this can actually confuse people and could make more unnecessary work for those who manage your profiles.
Many personal users have only one email for social media, largely because it's easier to manage and quickly look at traffic. So, in order to make things easier for you or whoever manages your company's social media, it might make sense to just use one email address for all of your profiles.
If you have already used more than one email address for different social media profiles you have two options: You can choose to change the email addresses so that they are all the same, or you can simply link the other email addresses so that they are included in all of your profiles.
The most professional looking option is to pick just one email as it will reduce uncertainty as to what email address to use when customers want to contact you via your social media pages - e.g., email you about your products.
5. Make your website social Finally, you likely have a website. While many people will find you on social media, it is a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your website. The reason for this is because it helps you build your brand image. It is a way of letting people know that you are not only on the Web, but also have social media profiles and that as a company you interact.
The most popular way to display your social media presence on your website is to include icons on the homepage, or in the footer. When you click on each of these, a new window or tab opens and takes you to the relevant social media page.
In general, the more locations you broadcast your social media presence, the higher the chance of gaining more connections. It follows that the more connections you have and the more active you are on your social media profiles, the greater consumer interest and engagement is, and the stronger your brand identity becomes. Over time, you should see an increase in sales and ultimately profitability.
If you are looking to learn more about how to leverage social media in your business, please contact us today.
When it comes to adding value to your business and the products or services you offer, you often need to carry out research. From the marketing to the actual products themselves, it can be hard to figure out what your customers will respond positively to. For many companies, the answers come from conducting tests, with the most common type being A/B tests. But are these of any real use to your company?
A/B tests defined
The concept behind A/B testing is to release two different versions of what is being developed, to see which performs best. This can cover a wide variety of business processes from traditional direct marketing to websites and even email marketing.
A good example of A/B testing would be developing an email marketing campaign where two different versions of an email are sent out with the goal of getting people to visit a page on your website. Version A may have slightly different content and images from version B, and half of your list would receive A with the other half receiving B. You then track the responses and visits to your site to see which version has worked better.
The information gained from this type of testing can then be used to improve future email campaigns or products and zero in on what is really effective in getting clients to do what you want.
A/B tests can actually vary in purpose. The most common being testing the difference between two versions of the same idea. Other times version A is a current version, while B contains improvements and is sent out to gauge customer reactions to these new developments.
What benefits can a business gain from A/B tests?
Compared with other testing methods, A/B testing offers four concrete benefits:
It's cheap - While it may incur costs developing different versions, most of the time this is fairly minimal, with small differences between them. And, when it comes to testing, you can usually just split the groups in half, with no need to develop completely new groups for each version. Finally, when the test is complete and data has been gathered, it is usually not time consuming or costly. You can usually just decide to use the one that performed the best - with little need to invest in any big changes.
It can accurately measure performance differences - A/B testing makes it easy to measure performance differences between two options. You really just have to collect the relevant data and then compare the results. Beyond that, this type of testing makes it easy to measure the difference between two options, even if this is small.
It measures actual behaviour - During the development stage, it can often be difficult to accurately guess how products or different versions will fare when released to the public. By employing A/B testing, real customers are the ones who are testing, so you can better judge and see how your target market will react. This can go a long way in helping you create desirable products and services that will be well received.
It can resolve trade offs - When unsure about wording, strategy and outcomes you can conduct an A/B test to see which option works best. A good example of this is offering a coupon. Do you offer it in the email or do you put a code on your site? If you include this in an email, other customers may react negatively if they don't get the same discount. A/B testing can help you figure out what style works best, while minimizing problems.
When should they be used?
When A/B tests are used correctly, they can be a valuable tool in helping you add value to your business. That being said, they aren't great for all types of testing situations. In general, A/B tests are most successful when they are applied to projects with these three parameters:
There must be only one clear goal - A/B tests work best when there is only one goal or outcome to measure. For example, which version of an email gets the most clicks, or which page gets the most amount of visitors clicking on a 'call to action'. If you try to measure more than one goal at a time, the results can get complicated.
The outcome must be measurable - If you cannot measure an outcome easily from this type of test, then you likely won't be able to pick an option that works best. For example, it is difficult to easily measure satisfaction from A/B tests compared to what customers prefer.
Designs need to be complete - A/B testing works best when you have a complete, or near complete, product, email, etc. The key here is to conduct A/B testing and possibly make minor changes to implement the option that provided the better results. The options are viewed to then be the final version employed.
If your project meets these requirements, then A/B testing will likely be useful and could help you improve your business profitability. To learn more about harnessing and gathering data from these and other types of testing, please contact us today.
One of the first steps many companies take when they are looking to secure their computers and networks is to implement an anti-virus or malware program and scanning. While this will go a long way in deterring network intrusions, malware can still sometimes find a way to get onto your systems. In order to minimize the potential damage you need to know how exactly malware can circumvent your anti-virus software to infect your systems.
There are several ways in which malware can be introduced to your systems, even those protected by anti-virus scanners or other security measures. Here are three you might need to know about::
1. Attacking remote users
Traditionally, business was carried out in a physical office. This means that companies only had to protect internal networks and systems. However, businesses are increasingly going mobile and relying on off-site workers. Problems can arise though when steps are not taken to ensure the security of these endpoints - laptops, tablets, mobile devices, etc.
Attackers know this, and have started to attack remote workers who may not be as secure as the company's internal systems. This becomes an even bigger issue when the infected device is brought back to the office and connected to the network - thus likely introducing the malware into your systems. It's necessary to ensure that all remote employees and devices are secure in order to protect your core systems and that they are also following the same security protocols used on-site and in-house..
2. USB infections
The majority of malware is introduced to systems via the Internet and websites. This is the reason why almost all virus-scanners focus on web-based intrusions. To a large extent, these scanners do what they are supposed to and keep companies secure. Hackers are always looking for new ways to attack systems though, and one avenue is through USB drives.
Some of the more popular USB-based malware takes advantage of Auto-Run - when an external hard drive, or USB flash drive is plugged in, this feature automatically opens the drive. The malware on the drive is configured to install itself when the drive boots up and is accessed, thus infecting systems.
To limit the chances of being infected by malware you should either provide drives for your employees to use, or approve drives that come in from outside sources. If you use USB drives to transfer files or share files between computers, try looking into other options like cloud storage drives. Finally, disabling Auto-Run and scanning drives with a virus-scanner, (many programs can actually do this), could go a long way toward deterring infections.
3. Anti-virus misses malware
While many companies have anti-virus scanners and software to deter malware infections, in order for these programs to work they often require daily or weekly updates. These updates contain information about new forms of malware discovered, along with detection and handling rules.
However, many companies may not be allowing the virus scanners to update. Because of this, systems are at an increased risk of being infected by newer malware. Therefore, ensure that your anti-virus scanners are not only up-to-date but are set to scan on regular intervals.
Beyond this, it is important to know that while anti-virus scanners will go a long way in preventing infections, they are often a step behind the newest malware. Taking steps to prevent malware, such as limiting downloads, educating employees and establishing a security policy can also help.
Finally, if you are worried about the security of your systems, working with an IT partner can prove to be one of the most successful ways of minimizing security threats that could harm your organization. IT partners can implement a plan to lower infection rates and employ experts who are able to work with you to restore your systems quickly should they become affected.
If you are looking to make your business more secure, get in touch with us today.