You Can Play Doom on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar

You Can Play Doom on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar
HIGHLIGHTS
An iOS engineer has made Doom run on the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar
Of course this is the original Doom, not the 2016 version
It runs at the Touch Bar’s 2170×60 resolution
The 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has elicited a range of responses both lauding and criticising the new addition. Regardless of your stand on the topic, you can play Doom on the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.

No, not 2016’s stellar reboot of the seminal franchise — that would be too much to ask for. Rather the original Doom is playable on the 2170×60 resolution of the Touch Bar.

(Also see: MacBook Pro 2016 With Touch Bar Gets Lowest Possible Repairability Score)

And while we have our reservations on what “playable” means in this case, that hasn’t stopped Adam Bell, an iOS Engineer at Facebook from making it happen.

“Doom runs on pretty much everything… but can it run on the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar?” Bell tweeted, linking to a YouTube video of the game running.
(Also see: Touché Lets You Add the Touch Bar to Any Mac for Free)
While Doom’s latest instalment was met with critical acclaim, one of the original game’s creators John Romero made a return to the first-person shooter genre. This started with him designing his first level for it in over 20 years. And then announcing Blackroom — an FPS that has him working with fellow id Software co-founder and artist Adrian Carmack. The game was on Kickstarter and then pulled until a playable demo has been made available.

Although this specific hack, while amusing, may not be entirely useful, other developers have found ways to add a virtual Touch Bar to existing Macs for free.

Tags: Doom, MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro 2016, MacBook Pro Touch Bar, Touch Bar

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10 Top Internet Marketers Who Will Help You Keep Your Competitive Edge

These 10 Top Internet Marketers Will Help You Keep Your Competitive Edge

One of the best ways to stay highly competitive in the online marketing field is to learn from thought-leaders who get results. Those who’ve earned praise from renown clients and respect from their industry are always worth listening to.

Whether you’re just venturing out into the marketing field or you’ve been doing it for over a decade, the following leaders are sure to spark some inspiration! In this list, I’ve included a brief background on each marketer, where to find them online, recommended reading and a notable quote.

One excellent way to use this list is to create a “marketers to learn from” Twitter List and add these marketing leaders to it. Or, maybe you want to focus on following just one or two influencers.

There’s no right or wrong way, as long as you’re learning something new every day.

The following 10 top internet marketers have helped their clients achieve impressive results. They’re trusted by brands and fellow marketers alike, so be sure to start learning from them today!

Introducing the 10 Top Internet Marketers

Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the energetic, over-delivering marketing guru who’s earned accolades from Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and even Barack Obama. He founded Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics, Hello Bar, Quick Sprout

A self-described “digital marketer and analytics junkie,” Neil specializes in SEO, internet marketing, conversion optimization and growth hacking.

Where to Find Neil:

  • Twitter
  • Neil’s Blog

Recommended Reading:

  • LinkedIn Post: The 10 Things People Still Get Wrong About Local SEO
  • Blog post: The Beginner’s Guide to Crafting Interactive Content

Words of Wisdom:

“I want to introduce you to a type of content that’s inherently engaging… Interactive content. You might have seen BuzzFeed quizzes floating in your social media feeds. They are the simplest form of interactive content and they are loved by users.

As per BuzzSumo, an average quiz gets shared 1,900 times. If the results of a quiz shine a positive light on the user, then he will most probably share the result with his friends.” (Source)

Kevan Lee

Kevan is a professional writer, editor and highly-effective storyteller. The director of marketing at content-sharing app Buffer, his areas of expertise include blogging, email marketing and content creation. He’s written for many well-known blogs, including Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Time, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Next Web and the Buffer’s blog.

Where to Find Kevan:

  • Twitter
  • Buffer blog
  • Also check out Buffer’s transparent blog board on Trello!

Recommended Reading:

  • Buffer post: How to Get Verified on Twitter (If I can do it, you can too!)
  • Buffer post: How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer, and Having Fun Online

Words of Wisdom:

“How great is the internet! One of the most impactful, viral, influential services you can perform online is to read stuff and tell people what you like. It’s true! If you’re looking for a competitive edge, a way to establish your authority, a way to get more followers, one of the best, proven paths to online success is content curation. It’s both as simple and as difficult as finding great content and sharing it with your audience.” (Source)

Pam Moore

Pam is the founder, CEO and partner of Marketing Nutz — a social media, digital marketing, experiential branding agency. Recognized as one of the top social media influencers today, she specializes in social branding and conversion optimization. She’s also a dynamic keynote speaker, consultant, trainer, best-selling author and strategist.

Where to Find Pam:

  • Twitter
  • Pam’s blog

Recommended Reading:

  • Blog post: 10 Truths Nobody Told You About Being A Social Media Marketer
  • Blog post: Blogging for Business: 10 Foundational Requirements for Success

Words of Wisdom:

“Social media is not a band-aid for a broken business. If business leaders really want to ignite business results using digital and social marketing, they must do more than hire a social media intern who knows how to get new followers on Instagram, post to Snapchat and do a live video stream on Facebook.” (Source)

John Jantsch

John is the creator of the renowned Duct Tape Marketing System. His methodology is used by hundreds of independent marketing consultants around the world. His blog has been a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast is a top ten marketing show on iTunes. Huffington Post has named him one of the top 100 “Must Follow” on Twitter.

Where to Find John:

  • Twitter
  • Duct Tape Marketing blog

Recommended Reading:

  • Blog post: How to Give Your Content CPR – Podcast, with guest Laura Belgray
  • Blog post: The Science of Pre-Suasion – Podcast, with guest Dr. Robert Cialdini

Words of Wisdom:

“Instead of jumping right into the look of your website, which is very easy to do based on the visual nature of the medium, make sure your well planned strategy takes center stage … Don’t bury your USP (unique selling proposition) in a glut of other content. Shout it loud, make it known why you do what you do and how you do it best.” (Source)

Peter Shankman

According to the New York Times, Peter is “a public relations all-star who knows everything about new media and then some.” Known as the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), he’s an entrepreneur and speaker with real-world clout. He’s also the author of four books, including the popular “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans.” Peter founded The Geek Factory, Inc., and ShankMinds: Business Masterminds, a series of small business entrepreneurial-style masterminds in over 25 cities worldwide.

Where to Find Peter:

  • Twitter
  • Peter’s blog

Recommended Reading:

  • Blog post: The Best Way to Improve Yourself Comes from Never Forgetting You at Your Worst
  • Blog post: How I Wrote 28,482 Words on One Flight

Words of Wisdom:
“Whether it’s business or personal, do the scary thing. If it works, you’ll have an amazing story to tell, and you’ll be richer for the experience. If it doesn’t work, you’ll have a story with a lesson to tell, and you’ll be richer for the experience. Either way, you’ll have a story to tell, and you’ll be richer for the experience, and in the end, that’s all life really is. Stories and experiences.” (Source)

Amy Porterfield

Amy is a social media strategist who specializes in Facebook marketing. She co-authored “Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.” She creates educational marketing programs for small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them get more traffic, leads and sales. She also speaks at marketing events, businesses and networking events about the power of social media.

Where to Find Amy:

  • Twitter
  • Amy’s website and blog

Recommended Listening:

  • Podcast: Get Your Content House In Order
  • Podcast: How to Organize & Analyze Your Facebook Ads

Words of Wisdom:

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to make the mistake of considering Facebook a direct selling platform. This mindset is misguided and can lead to frustration and ‘throwing in the towel’ on Facebook. What people need to understand is that Facebook can be a powerfully successful road to making the sale, but it is not the ‘store.’” (Source)

Kim Garst

Kim is a social media expert who’s owned an online business for over 20 years. She’s a leading influencer on digital marketing, especially social selling. Kim discusses the latest social-media marketing strategies on her blog, and curates posts that provide the most value to her readers. She’s also a respected author. Her latest book, “Show Up, Be Authentic, and Prosper in Social Media,” is an international best seller.

Where to Find Kim:

  • Twitter
  • Kim’s blog

Recommended Reading:

  • Blog post: How To Get More Snapchat Followers
  • Blog post: What is Social Proof And Why Do You Need It?

Words of Wisdom:
“Facebook is GIVING reach to those that Facebook Live. Yep, you heard it here. Facebook actually pushes FREE reach to your live-streams and the longer you are live, the more free reach you receive. For example, I can go live and have a reach of over 400,000-500,000 people in less than an hour! That’s insane, right? Oh and here’s the true value … with ZERO ad spend!” (Source)

Lisa Raehsler

Named as a Top 25 Most Influential PPC Expert for three years, Lisa is one of the marketing industry’s most Influential PPC experts. She’s founder and SEM/PPC strategy consultant of Big Click Co Search Engine Marketing Consulting. She specializes in paid search ads, paid social media, display and retargeting. With 17 years of online advertising industry experience, she’s a columnist for SEWatch, SEM Post and ClickZ. She is also a speaker for SES, HeroConf, Pubcon and ClickZ Live.

Where to Find Lisa:

  • Twitter
  • Big Click Co. blog

Recommended Reading:

  • Bing Ads Blog post: Three tips to Bing Ads campaign imports you can’t miss
  • Big Click Co. Blog post: The Art of Remarketing Video

Words of Wisdom:

“Ad extensions are one of the greatest features of Bing Ads. These provide “bonus” information in the form of text and sitelinks, phone numbers and even images. A savvy PPC manager can max out these extensions and gain better CTRs for campaigns.

Ad extensions that Bing Ads supports, will import, saving time in the set-up process. This includes: location, call, sitelinks and app extensions.” (Source)

Ramon Ray

A marketer and small business evangelist at Infusionsoft, Ramon is passionate about helping small business entrepreneurs grow their businesses. He’s the editor and publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine, as well as the editor of smallbiztechnology.com. A bestselling author, Ramon wrote “The Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing.” He’s also a speaker who’s shared the stage with Seth Godin, Daymond John, Guy Kawasaki, Simon Sinek, JJ Ramberg, Peter Shankman and other celebrity entrepreneurs.

Where to Find Ramon:

  • Twitter
  • Ramon’s website

Recommended Reading:

  • Smallbiztechnology article: What Is Advertisement Re-Targeting And Why Does It Matter?
  • Smart Hustle Magazine article: 5 Tips for Using Facebook Live to Get Closer to Your Customers

Words of Wisdom:

“Many businesses focus their holiday marketing efforts online, relying on tools like social media and paid advertising to reach potential customers. However, local businesses should never underestimate the importance of traditional and tangible marketing materials such a signs, banners and postcards. Customers will be able to see and interact with these elements in real life. They have a more ‘personal’ feel and can also drive word-of-mouth marketing in your local area.” (Source)

Jay Baer

Jay Baer has 23 years’ experience in digital marketing. He founded Convince & Convert, “a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies through the smart intersection of technology and customer service.” Besides being a trusted marketer, he’s also a respected business strategist, inspirational speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. He has advised 33 of the FORTUNE 500 companies — including Nike, Caterpillar and Allstate. 

Where to Find Jay:

  • Twitter
  • Social Pros Podcast (hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown of Salesforce)
  • Jay’s website

Recommended Reading:
Social Media Examiner interview with Jay: Dealing With Unhappy Customers: What Social Marketers Need to Know

Words of Wisdom:

“Some brands try to bribe customers by offering product discounts to those who interact with them on social media. And while incentives can be an effective way to build a customer base, constantly trying to buy your customers’ love doesn’t build brand loyalty. This ultimately leads to brand failure because a customer without brand loyalty will happily ditch your brand for one offering a better deal.” (Source)

Meeting Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Have You Heard of the Flat Lay or Boho Design Trends?

flat lay design (1)

You’ve probably seen Flat Lay designs, even if you haven’t heard the term.  Flat Lay design refers to a shot of items lying flat on a table, floor or other surface, shot from above. You see these kinds of images on eCommerce sites and other websites frequently. The Flat Lay design trend is up 160 percent according to the just-released Creative Trends 2016 report by Shutterstock.

This fascinating report outlines a number of other visual and creative trends that Shutterstock predicts will be popular during 2016.

If you’re looking for design ideas for your website, social media headers, advertisements or other graphics — this is one report you need to check out.

flat lay design boho design

Here’s another insight from the report. Have you heard of the Boho trend?  Boho is short for Boho-chic, which refers to Bohemian or hippie design according to Wikipedia.  Boho refers to swirling, feathery, often flowery patterns and imagery. Think of that old Bohemian style skirt that women wore during the Woodstock era.  (And for those of you younger than that … come on, you’ve seen a picture at least!)

The Creative Trends report covers images, but it also points to cultural and technology trends.  For instance, the choice of images that people make indicates that there’s a lot of interest right now in certain tech phenomena.  Did you know that images of smart watches are up a whopping 900 percent?  And images of drones are up 181 percent.  Those tech phenomena and more are obviously popular subjects of discussion and interest.

The report is based on data gathered by Shutterstock. According to Flo Lau, the Marketing Digital Designer at Shutterstock, that data can be used to predict the popularity of certain design trends in the coming year.  Lau acknowledged that it’s risky to make predictions.  However, based on the considerable data the company has collected, she said Shutterstock expressed confidence that these will be the design trends during 2016, noting:

“Luckily Shutterstock uses data to make our predictions. With information gathered from millions of searches and downloads, our annual Creative Trends infographic shows what’s on the rise around the world. From global trends to local developments, it’s an in-depth look at how the creative world will look in 2016.

Expect to see a mix of opposites this year: the latest technology and the natural world, clean lines and intricate patterns, the old and the new.”

Go here for the infographic, and find the full trends report here.

Flat Lay Design, Boho Design Photos via Shutterstock

More in: Content Marketing

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What is Calm Design and How Can You Use it in Your Marketing?

What is Calm Technology Design and How Can You Use it in Your Marketing?

Cisco estimates there will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices by 2020 — a number that exceeds the world’s projected population. The mobile Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading consumer attention thin, making it more difficult than ever to break through the noise and reach target audiences. With this many connected devices on the horizon, content marketers must find a way to use mobile to their advantage. There’s an emerging concept within IoT that may hold the answer to regaining some consumers’ attention: calm design technology.

What Is Calm Design Technology?

Calm design technology is a new idea that strives to blend technology seamlessly with everyday life. While modern smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and connected devices aim to respond to users’ needs, calm design takes responsive design a step further. Calm design is the next generation of connected devices. Its purpose is to connect consumers with their devices and others in a way that lets them live their lives freely — without interruptions, pop-ups, or “smart” technology that makes life more difficult.

The example Amber Case used at InBound 2015 when speaking about calm technology is electricity. Electricity is invisible, working on its own without interrupting our daily lives. We only notice electricity when it stops working. Calm design aims to reach this level of invisibility — not literally, but figuratively. Instead of your Apple TV turning on and asking if you want to download an update, it should simply play movies.

Principles of Calm Design IoT

Technology shouldn’t take up most of our time and attention. It should only require some attention when absolutely necessary. Here are a few principles of calm technology from Calmtech.com:

  1. Technology should require the smallest amount of attention possible. It should communicate without having to “speak,” creating awareness using different senses to keep consumers in their current environment or task without interrupting.
  2. Technology should amplify the best of humanity and machines. Tech design should be for humans first. Machines shouldn’t act like humans or vice versa — good design should amplify the best parts of both.
  3. Technology should solve a problem, and that’s it. The minimum amount of technology possible to resolve an issue should be the only tech we see. Calm tech is slimmer, doing what it needs to do and nothing more.

Calm tech design doesn’t require focused attention to use. It lets users multitask and do other things while the tech quietly does its job. It utilizes the periphery.

Calm Design and Marketing

When virtually everything in a consumer’s life is connected, distracting notifications and daily interruptions escalate out of control. Customers are nearing a breaking point with marketers, blocking advertisements and leaving websites that have pop-up ads. Instead of contributing to the noise, marketers need to find a way to advertise their brands without interrupting the consumer’s day. Calm design is the answer.

Trying to grab attention with irrelevant ads will only push consumers away and eventually make your brand extinct. Calm design is a new platform — one that enables interaction with customers without interrupting their days. Marketers can join the trend toward calm by understanding how to transform advertisements into meaningful conversations with consumers, adding something of value without taking them away from their current tasks.

How Can Marketers Use Calm Technology Design?

Combining content with calm design is going to lead the movement. Marketers need to change how they communicate with consumers to optimize outreach in the modern world. Instead of relying on the interrupting nature of advertising, content marketers should evolve into what Haydn Sweterlitsch, chief creative officer at HackerAgency, calls the Atmospheric Approach. The Atmospheric Approach doesn’t create content that adds to the noise. Rather, it enables marketers to quietly integrate ads into a customer’s peripheral awareness.

Marketing should theoretically “disappear” while engaging customers, getting a message across without interfering. Real life examples of this are the Roomba, a stoplight, a light-up occupied sign on a bathroom door, and captics technologies. Captics use the sense of touch to communicate, vibrating when users are slouching and telling them to sit up straight without making a sound. Content marketers must gear their efforts toward the same concept.

As IoT, robotics, smart homes, artificial intelligence and mobile devices create a hyper-connected world, consumer attention will become more and more scarce. Marketers need to find creative ways to attract consumer attention without distracting them. Paying strict attention to consumer demands will be more important than ever, so think about what consumers may be doing while viewing your content.

Creating compelling, simple and useful brand messages is the wave of the future. It’s possible to attract attention without interfering through engagement and empowerment. Utilize other senses, not just sound. Integrate touch and sight. Instead of spending money on pop-up advertisements, spread your message quietly. Blatant appeals are a thing of the past, and marketers who cling to them will become extinct. Take control of your future and join the trend toward calm design technology.

Smart Tech Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-ndtv”]

41 Percent of Your Competitors Are Going Mobile – Here’s Why You Should Join the Crowd

41 Percent of Your Competitors Are Going Mobile - Here's Why Mobile Apps May Become the Next Source of Competitive Advantage

As more and more consumers begin to rely on their mobile devices for personal and business use, instead of a more traditional means like a desktop computer, the need for a mobile app is rapidly growing. With 2015 being dubbed the Year of the Mobile, small businesses without a mobile app planned for the future will continue to fall farther and farther behind.

There’s typically only one reason that is causing these businesses to continue to hold out: money.

The Cost of a Mobile App

About a year and a half ago, a survey of a number of leading mobile app developers was conducted to determine the average overall cost of building an iPhone/Android app, including the factors or variables that affect cost the most. This data collected by Clutch reported that the average cost of mobile app development was between $37,913 and $171,450. For a small business, even the lower end of this price range is a hefty price to swallow, especially without an immediate return on investment.

Lucky for these small businesses, this price range has drastically decreased. While the numbers may be out of date, the data is still helpful for identifying the features that carry the highest cost when developing a mobile app. Most often these factors were typically the infrastructure, features, and design of the app, while less expensive aspects were things like planning, deployment, and even testing.

Why Mobile Development is More Accessible Now

What many business owners fail to understand is the average price range for a mobile app is vastly out of date. Remember technology changes so fast that as soon as data is distributed, newer technology makes development more accessible — thus lowering cost. This is the case when it comes to developing an app for your business.

As mobile development has become more and more popular and important in today’s business world, the number of app builders and development teams has also grown. More app builders means more competitive pricing; there are more options to choose from, and some of these options are remarkably cheap compared to the prices we were seeing just a year or more ago.

Also on the rise is app development software. Some of these software or app development services are designed for a small business to make their own mobile app(s) at a very, very low process. As long as a business owner is willing to take the time and effort required, these hyper user-friendly tools can drastically reduce price.

It is almost identical to the trends we’ve already seen surrounding web development through its infancy and beyond. In the early stages of the internet, having a website became an undisputed necessity for businesses. Yet, this new development was costly. Web development was a costly investment because there were only a small number of developers and designers available. Now, there are a number of inexpensive services that allow anyone to make their own functioning website, with relative ease.

Future of Small Businesses and Mobile Development

With a mobile app becoming a much more reasonable investment for a small business to swallow, the future looks very positive. Recent data reported by Clutch, an independent research firm,  shows that roughly a quarter of small businesses already have a mobile app and another 27 percent of them have plans to enter the mobile world in the next year or so.

There is still a large percentage of companies that are unsure or even feel it is unlikely that they will have a mobile app in the future. Yet, as prices go down and accessibility goes up, the detractors of mobile development could quickly find themselves convinced that it is now a viable option.

Part of this conversion from uncertainty to convinced and planning is simple education. Some of these detractors may have been quoted for a mobile app a year ago or more and still believe it is out of their price range. Others do not believe mobile is for them because they fail to see how it will impact their business or what a mobile app could be used for, within their specific industry or business.

What Mobile Development Can be Used For

When you look at the wide range of mobile apps on the market, you can quickly see the number of different applications of mobile development. At the core of all business apps, there is one of a number of key drivers. These factors include accessibility/visibility, improving internal processes and productivity and enhancing the customer experience.

Accessibility and Visibility. As mobile search volumes continue to grow, adopting a mobile platform is more and more important to remain accessible and visible to your audiences. If they cannot find you or interact with your brand in the mobile environment, they may defect to a competitor that they can see on their device. Alternatively, attracting new customers without a mobile app could become harder and harder, as you are not only harder to find, but also without a key tool to keep you up to date and stay competitive in your industry.

Internal Processes and Productivity. While we often think of apps in terms of creating a new platform for our customers to engage with, mobile development is also worth exploring to improve internal processes and productivity. Many companies utilize desktop software to facilitate certain day-to-day business processes. A mobile-centric version of this software could further enhance these processes, in some companies. After all, mobile is, well, mobile, which means you can perform these processes on the go, instead of having the interruption of needing to sit down and use a desktop module.

Customer Experience. Without mobile, a customer’s relationship with your brand or company is interrupted the moment they walk out the door. By providing a mobile app experience, that relationship does not have to end. Your brand is more accessible, appears more personable and can stimulate more communication. Improving the customer experience ultimately drives increased brand loyalty and reduces churn.

All of these factors and others have direct relationships with profits. The more visible you are, the more likely that new and existing customers can find your business and make new and future purchasing decisions. Internal mobile apps to help processes boosts productivity and, perhaps more than ever, time is money. Lastly, a mobile app is key to enhancing the customer experience, which is becoming more and more important to audiences. It is no longer about offering the best product and quality, you also need to provide the best experience and mobile is one of the most important facets of that experience.

Conclusions

The mobile world took off like a rocket. In only a few short years it developed from a trend and a business luxury, to an accessible and vital dimension of the modern business. In the past, small businesses could not afford to invest in this rapidly growing, mobile world. However, as mobile has grown, so has the number of app developers and services available, which has thereby caused mobile adoption to become much less expensive.

Mobile Apps May Become the Next Source of Competitive Advantage

Even though only about a quarter of small businesses have entered the mobile app world, more expect to join in the next year plus. The remaining small businesses that believe it is unlikely for them to join the mobile game anytime soon, may be convinced otherwise as prices go down and accessibility goes up. Some may just require a little bit of education towards understanding how a mobile app can increase profits through improving visibility, productivity and the customer experience.

Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

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If Google Has a Mobile First Strategy, So Should You

If Google Has a Mobile First Strategy, So Should You

There is a tendency within the digital sphere to uphold a future-oriented mindset. From social media to SEO, from algorithms to user experience, our approach and practices maintain a forecasting nature. Trends and methods are always observed and developed with the next step in mind and the future in sight, the end goal being to evolve with complexity and instinct matching that of users. How is search behavior changing? What will users respond to? How can we improve the digital practices that already exist? In what direction is search moving, and how can we stay ahead of the curve? The ability to effectively find solutions for these questions requires a marathon-like endurance, and, more than any other search engine, Google sets the pace.

Shifts in Search Behavior

For years we’ve anticipated a shift to mobile-first users, expecting and monitoring search behavior as smartphones continue to become more and more capable. That shift has arrived, and the necessity of adapting to a mobile-first world has become unavoidable. Of the ever increasing number of searches run on Google every day, more than half are made from a mobile device.

Mobile First Strategy - Shifts in Search Behavior

Smartphones, more than just a means of communication, have become a personal item for practically every member of society. Smartphones are a personal assistant, a planner, a map, and a genie that can answer any question by way of a simple search. So ingrained into modern culture is the smartphone/tablet/device that it’s now become the best, most effective place to reach consumers. The opportunity to reach consumers on a level as personal as the device in their pocket or purse holds significant potential for growth of any brand or business, but the tools to make that happen have to adapt to the ebb and flow of user behavior.

Mobile First Strategy - High Mobile Use

Get to Know Your Searchers

The importance of getting to know your searchers and/or clientele can’t be understated. In order to effectively market to new search patterns and habits, you have to be able to put yourself into the shoes of consumers-specifically the shoes of your consumers. As a general practice, I recommend spending time among the consumers you’re trying to target through your digital marketing campaigns. For example, if you’re trying to develop a PPC campaign for gourmet coffee, poke around the coffee culture forums on Reddit and take note of what consumers are looking for, respond to, what kind of language they use to talk about coffee, etc. Making observations about consumer preferences will keep you in the loop and allow you to understand your consumers best.

Google Sets the Pace in Mobile First Strategy

True to its trail-blazing performance, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has unveiled the first of what will likely be many adaptions of e-commerce tools. To meet consumers and users where they spend the most time and run the most searches, Google AdWords has been revamped. Its re-imagined design pointedly addresses the mobile-first trends that have arrived, and puts an old but sharpened tool back into the hands of advertisers and developers. The AdWords makeover is optimized for screen sizes of popular smartphones and mobile devices, putting user experience at the forefront of campaign management and therein cashing in on the ‘new’ behavior of searchers. What sounds like more work is actually less, because these upgrades offer responsive ads auto-designed by Google, bid adjustments for each device type, and local optimization-all streamlined into an a simple, contained format.

Why It’s Time to Shift Your Mindset

To spell it out in case it wasn’t already obvious: mobile users are having a moment. We now live in a mobile-first word; Google is adapting to it, and you should, too. The AdWords update and its modified controls are great, but this innovation is likely to be one of many. The emphasis on optimizing the mobile experience and, perhaps more importantly, finding ways to capitalize on it is why Google, the pace setter, is rolling out things like the Google Keyboard or even bothering with an AdWords redesign. More than an exciting and fresh way to meet consumers where it counts, it’s a move indicative of the overall shift towards mobile browsing and search. This assertion of permanence in regards to mobile browsing can’t be ignored and will undoubtedly prompt producers of all industries to rethink their strategy. While the shift to a mobile-first society by no means calls for the total abandonment of other marketing avenues, it does urge the recognition of quickly maturing user habits and a rethinking of how to naturally insert your brand or advertisement into the digital realm where users are doing the most. Clicking, shopping, browsing, local searches-all of the data Google has collected points to mobile, and that direction is where your future-oriented, digital mindset should be pointing, too.

Shifting Your Mindset: What You Can Do

Aside from getting to know your searchers, there are a handful of ways you can embrace this shift and participate in a mobile-first world.

  • Make your website mobile-friendly. The way your website looks on a desktop isn’t how it’ll convert on a mobile device. Ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly will keep users on your site and provide useful information for the on-to-go consumer. Also along the lines of having a mobile-friendly site, if you have any forms that a user would need to fill out for your business, try and keep them short. Remember: convenience is key in a mobile-first world.

Mobile First Strategy - Mobile Website

  • Make phones numbers and addresses visible and clickable. If your business has a physical location, having the contact information readily available can significantly boost foot traffic.
  • Evaluate your mobile page load speed. Fun fact via Kissmetrics: 40 prcent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Page load speed most directly affects your revenue when it comes to mobile. Every second counts, so make should your load speed is up to snuff by testing it.
  • Update your mobile ads. Titles, displays-everything. Treat the re-imagined AdWords as your newest teammate, and use the new features to tweak your mobile ads for optimum performance. Are your ads responsive? Are you utilizing the longer headlines and description lines? Are your URL paths customized? By working through these things like a checklist, you can painlessly accommodate users from every device and participate in the mobile-first world.

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9 Offers That Can Help You Boost Sales This Tax Season

040615 tax time

Tax season isn’t just about getting your return in time and all the commotion that goes with it; it’s also a great opportunity to boost sales. Tax-time promotions, offers and tie-ins can add some fun to this busy time of year and hopefully make you some money too!

Here are some ideas that you might want to use for your small business.

Use the Number “1040”

No one enjoys filling in Form 1040, but as a small business, the number has infinite promotional possibilities.

For example, if you own a restaurant or bar you could offer two dishes, meals, or drinks for $10.40. Retailers could mark down items to $10.40. Or online stores could offer a special promotion that starts at 10:40 or can only be redeemed with coupon code “1040.”

There are probably 1,040 other things small businesses could do along the same line.

Offer a Unique Product in Honor of Tax Day!

Whether it’s the “Tax Man Martini” or the “Uncle Sam Sandwich,” think of ways to offer unique, one-off items that have a tax day tie-in and charge $10.40 or $15 for it (as a nod to April 15).

Come Up With a “Taxing” Catchphrase

Last year, California Tortilla came up with the tagline “Queso Makes Life Less Taxing” and offered free chips and queso with any purchase on April 15.

Get the word out a few days ahead of time on social media and to your email subscribers. Line up some memes, images, and product photos to accompany the catchphrase and let customers know what’s being offered.

Offer a Tax-Free Service

Offer a tax-free dining or shopping experience for one-day only on April 15.

Position Your Offer as a Refund

We’re all hoping for a tax refund, so why not offer your customers one. Instead of the traditional “BOGO” offer, give them a refund when they buy two items in a certain range.

Help Your Customers Relax After Tax Season

Preparing taxes is complicated and stressful. Could your business offer something that can help customers wind down and relax after tax season? B and Bs and hotels could offer a “Tax-Free, Stress-Free Weekend Special.” Spa owners could offer a “Tax Day De-Stress Package.”

Offer an in-room credit (aka refund) or a special service for soothing “taxed” nerves.

Set Up a Pop-up Shop

Get out there among your taxpaying customers and hand out free samples of your products or services. Throw in a free shoulder massage, just for fun.

Run an Early Bird Campaign for Early Filers

Run a promo or special the morning of tax day and position it as a special promotion for those who already have their refunds.

Offer Tax Tips for Next Year

If you’re in the financial services industry, now is the time to start marketing your services. Offer customers a free consultation or product trial and tout how you can help them do a better job of filing next year.

The opportunities are endless. For more inspiration, check out this roundup of Tax Day Freebies, Promotions, Deals and Specials from Forbes, which features a selection of the best promos offered by businesses last year.

Tax Calendar Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

20 Weird Coffee Mugs to Inspire You and Brighten Your Day

weird coffee mugs

You use your coffee mug every day, so why not go for one that is personal and inspiring? Take a look at this list of weird coffee mugs the likes of which your co-workers probably haven’t seen before. They will definitely be a conversation starter at home or at the office when you pour a cup of joe.

Ink Black Coffee Mug

weird coffee mugs

It’s an adorable pink sea creature and it’s serving up a delicious beverage. This Ink Black Coffee Mugavailable from ModCloth is a little over the top but does offer a certain charm. Quirky elements like it’s tentacle handle and suction cups add fun to the morning brew.

I Believe in Bigfoot Funny Sasquatch Mug

weird coffee mugs

Stainless steel and a spill-proof lid are not all this I Believe in Big Foot Funny Sasquatch Mug by designer NetSpeak at Zazzle has to offer. Sporting this fun container while you sip your favorite hot beverage lets people know you believe in the mythical forest dweller.

Laboratory Beaker Mug

weird coffee mugs

Here’s one for the science lovers. The Laboratory Beaker Mug from Think Geek highlights the chemistry behind your favorite drink. The glass body with graduated markings turn your everyday mug into a beaker worthy of a laboratory.

With Great Beard Comes Great Responsibility Mug

weird coffee mugs

With great beard comes great responsibility, or so this mug from TikiTee on Etsy proclaims. If you take great pride in your beard and all that it entails, then this mug with a touch of humor might be the one for you.

Recycling Bin Mug

weird coffee mugs

The Recycling Bin Mug from Big Mouth Toys satisfies the need to raise environmental awareness and satiate a caffeine addiction all at the same time. It would be hard to miss this blue novelty in the break room or on a desk. It looks just like a mini recycling bin.

Executive Decision Maker Mug

weird coffee mugs

Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. With the Executive Decision Maker Mug from Perpetual Kid, your decision making process could become a whole lot simpler. Or maybe you can just use it to figure out what to have for lunch.

Saw Through Wood Mug

weird coffee mugs

There’s nothing subtle about the Saw Through Wood Mug from Retro Planet. You’re a DIYer who’s not afraid to get your hands dirty, and this mug says so! Any handyman (or woman) can be quickly identified walking the halls with this stoneware beauty. So stand aside.

Marshmallow Smiling Faces Mug Set

weird coffee mugs

Share the fun with the Marshmallow Smiling Faces mug set from Retro Planet. It offers not one but four ridiculously cute marshmallow mugs. You can’t help but to be happy sipping a hot drink from these little darlings.

First Aid Mug

weird coffee mugs

Coffee is your life line and you make no attempt to hide that fact. This First Aid Coffee Mug from Perpetual Kid proudly proclaims your treatment of choice in case of an emergency. Don’t be surprised if you get a few chuckles from colleagues when you guzzle your coffee from this mug.

Camera Lens Mug

weird coffee mugs

It looks like a camera lens but it’s really a mug in disguise. The Camera Lens Mug from Gadgets and Gear is also a thermos so you can keep your coffee hot in style while getting the job done on the go.

Panda Mug

weird coffee mugs

Have a love for pandas? It’s hard not to smile while looking at the cute face on this Panda Mug from Perpetual Kid. Add in the matching spoon and you run the risk of getting a case of the warm fuzzies.

Sriracha Mug

weird coffee mugs

It’s a bold chili pepper red and proudly proclaims your love of the famous hot sauce. This Sriracha Mugfrom Think Geek will satisfy both your craving for caffeine and novelty dishware.

Burgers, Fries and Dogs Mug

weird coffee mugs

The Burgers, Fries and Dogs Mug from Retro Planet takes you back to a time that seems long past. But you can experience it again when you gaze upon your favorite comfort foods depicted against white ceramic each time you have your morning coffee.

Lobster Creature Mug

weird coffee mugs

The fun element in Lobster Creature Mug from Gadgets and Gear is revealed after you’ve taken a few sips. As you reach the bottom of the mug, this friendly lobster is revealed. You could also be a little mischievous and serve a drink to colleagues to wait and see if they notice.

Ceramic Greek Coffee Cup

weird coffee mugs

We are happy to serve you! Do you recognize the design on this Ceramic Greek Coffee Cup from Uncommon Goods? For fans of the iconic New York City coffee cup, this ceramic version will last you for years to come.

Pawsitively Bemused Mug

weird coffee mugs

Here’s one for cat lovers. The Pawsitively Bemused Mug from ModCloth is a fun take on the classic cat mug motif. Only now, instead of a cat face, you can sip your coffee from a black paw complete with adorable pink pads.

Bicycle Mug Set

weird coffee mugs

Do you love your two wheeled vehicle? Why not celebrate that passion with this Bicycle Mug Set from World Market. While they may not be the wildest on our list, they could add a fun pop of color as you share a morning cup with colleagues.

Nut Handle Tea Cups

weird coffee mugs

Here’s a choice for the mechanically minded. These Nut Handle Tea Cups from Uncommon Goods definitely have a rugged industrial edge. The stoneware body features handles with copper fittings for a look that comes straight from the garage. And Oil Can Teapot is also part of the set.

Toy Robot Mug

weird coffee mugs

For a touch of whimsy in the office, the Toy Robot Mug from Retro Planet is filled with nostalgia. An array of vintage toy robots cover this mug and beam with personality. It’s just plain fun!

Hot Rod Heated Mug

weird coffee mugs

The Hot Rod Heated Mug from Think Geek has it all for hot rod enthusiasts or those seeking a bit of extra attention. Sleek red finish, analog temperature gauge, and chrome touches are all part of the design. But the best feature of all may be the ability to plug into your car’s 12v outlet and keep your favorite beverage piping hot.

Just because you’re good at getting the job done doesn’t mean you have to be completely serious while doing it. Adding a little fun to your day can be as easy as sporting a quirky coffee mug. It’s a little thing, that can make a big difference at the office.


Coffee Mug Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Power Up with 8 Battery Packs that Keep You on the Go

mobile battery packs2

Batteries are not a hot business topic, but we each crave longer battery life for our devices and equipment, especially when traveling. This short list of portable battery packs may help you just enough to keep an important business conversation going on your phone or allow you to finish a document on a tablet.

A technical abbreviation that you’ll want to know when considering an external portable battery pack is milliampere hour (mAh). It describes the energy charge that a battery holds and how long a device will run before you need to recharge it. I’ve included the Amazon link for each battery pack, when possible and some of these devices were sent to me for media reviews.

Anker: Astro Slim2

portable battery packs

This is my favorite for travel. Ultra-slim external portable battery that stacks against your smartphone and supplies simultaneous, full-speed charges for two devices. If you do a search for portable battery on Amazon, Anker frequently pops up first.  It’s available here (not an affiliate link) on Amazon for $27.99.

  • Compact, easy-to-grip slim design specifically sized to stack battery behind your smartphone while in use.
  • Hideaway micro USB cable for Android  reduces the number of cords you need to carry to stay connected; USB port available for iPhone. Elegant.
  • 4500mAh battery offers enough power for 2-3 charges on most phones.
  • Dual ports supply 1Amp of power each so you can power up in no time.
  • LED column lets you know exactly how much battery power is left.

Satechi Portable Energy Station

Another favorite of mine. This company makes lots of great travel products and innovative gadgets. I have owned this one for a long time and it has taken some abuse and held up well. You can find it on Amazon here for $59.99.

  • Instant dual power – recharge your tablet and smart phone or other mobile devices simultaneously.
  • 10000 mAh Lithium Polymer Battery – Rapid charging – faster than charging from a traditional outlet.
  • Battery life indicator & auto OFF feature that detects when fully charged. (When you look at these tiny devices, this becomes somewhat important.)
  • Lightweight and compact – easily carry it on long flights in your laptop or tablet bag. You can expect the weight to increase when you increase mAh.
  • It offers an overload protection feature to keep your battery safe.

iWALK: Extreme Series Universal Backup Batteries

This company has a large selection of portable batteries for devices, even one to power your laptop. Here is a link to the compact 5200 mAh model on Amazon, which sells for $43.99.

  • 9 compact models ranging from 1,800mAH to 15,000mAH.
  • Equipped with LED battery charge and discharge level indicator.
  • Ideal for smartphones, navigation units, cameras, Bluetooth headsets.
  • Extreme 15000 – largest capacity unit in the world with 8 different connectors.
  • Extreme 8200 Duo – capable of charging two devices at the same time.

Snow Lizard: SLPower 7

Like some of the chargers above, slim and easy to pack. Plus, you have to give them credit for a creative name. It’s memorable. Not sure what it has to do with batteries though. Amazon has it for $51.91 here. White or black.

  • Boasting a 7000 mAh battery the SLPower 7 has enough power to rapidly charge your iPad, tablet and smartphone.
  • Designed for on the go use, the low profile charger provides power and portability at just over one half inch thick.
  • 2 USB connections – Dedicated iPhone Connection and USB connection for tablets and  smartphones.

Digital Treasures: PowerFlask

portable battery packs

Although I don’t think I would walk around with this battery in my pocket, it certainly fits. A portable, novel way to charge two USB devices simultaneously. You can find it on Amazon for $71.91.

  • 13,000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery which will keep supplying extra juice for devices on-the-go. I did find that when I had depleted the charge it took overnight to fully recharge.
  • Two ultra-bright flashlight LED’s are situated at the top of the PowerFlask for lighting options while the user is on the road. (It took me a while to figure out how to turn these on – should have read the manual sooner.)
  • The PowerFlask is wrapped in supple leather with an aluminum finish for a high-quality and eye-catching aesthetic.

Scosche: goBAT II

Dual USB portable charger and backup battery. Available at: Amazon for $42.88. You can also get it at BestBuy.com and Buy.com.

  • Internal 5000 maH rechargeable lithium ion battery can charge a drained iPhone 4 2.6 times.
  • 10 Watt (2.1 Amp) port is perfect for charging tablets and 5 Watt (1 Amp) port can charge virtually any other USB powered handheld.
  • Four blue LED lights indicate how much battery life is left.

New Trent: Powerpak+

This battery is rugged looking and powerful. One of the small things I liked about it is the ridges on the side that made it less likely to slip out of my hand. You can find it on Amazon for $54.95.

  • Powerful 13,500mAh battery pack quickly and efficiently charges USB-based devices.
  • Features a 1A and 2.1A port to juice up both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. (I found this handy for the occasional time when I needed to charge both devices.)
  • Charges most smartphones up to 6 times.
  • Slim and compact design allows it to easily fit into any backpack, purse or carry-on.

Goal Zero: Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit

portable battery packs

This small 3.5 Watt Solar Panel recharging system is pretty cool. It comes with four AA batteries (and will also recharge AAA). You also can purchase a portable unit called the “Switch” that is smaller than a roll of quarters, but powerful enough for smartphones, iPods or your GPS. It is available on Amazon for $119.99 (for the panel only) and $39.95 for the Switch.

If you are out in the field a fair amount, this solar recharger may be the unit for you. You can plug your device into the solar panel charger directly. Of course, you could buy extra battery units for your device(s), instead, but this one at least gives you some recharge options.

  • Charges devices via USB port.
  • Power pack and solar panel combined weight only .7 lbs. (less than one pound). It is small enough to fit in a backpack, briefcase or purse.
  • Foldable and rugged Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel recharges Switch in 2-4 hours.

You may not think about batteries on a daily basis, but if you find your devices running low all too often this list may help. It might help you to prevent that beeping tone that says, “You have less than 10% battery life remaining, plug in now…”

How do you handle keeping your devices charged while on the road?

Full Charge Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Google Gadget Helps Customers Find You In Real Life

Everyone loves useful gadgets and Google has just come out with yet another one.

Meet the Google Maps driving directions gadget that makes it easy for customers to get directions to your brick and mortar store. Thanks to Google, the directionally-challenged folk out there (myself included), will no longer have to suffer through directions that are based on the location you’re coming from (ie, North, South, East and West). Businesses can now offer customers quick and easy step-by-step directions. Success!

The new Google directions gadget will allow business owners to pre-fill the direction “To” field with one or multiple addresses, while leaving open the “From” field so that customers can input their address or some other starting point.

From there, customers can print driving, walking or transit directions in just one click. Google will also provide suggestions for related addresses if users enter vague starting locations, as sometimes knowing where you live is difficult.

The widgets are great for users and add a nice bit of functionality to sites. However, they’re only good for showing users where you’re located. If you want Google to know, and to rank you accordingly, you’ll still need to tell the search engines where your brick and mortar store is located. And that means using the text on the page to convey it. You can’t leave it up to the gadget.

Matt McGee wrote a really important post commenting on the new Google gadget, noting that a detailed Directions/Find Us page remains one of the best local SEO tactics around. And he’s absolutely right. The search engines use things like your Directions page to look for indicators and local citations as to where your site is located. These are the same citations that are used to determine local ranking and local 10-pack placement. If you don’t tell Google where your brick and mortar store is located, which landmarks you’re around, what highways you’re near, you’re exact address, etc, you’re giving them nothing to use when they try to determine your proximity to a searcher. If they don’t know you’re location, they can’t rank you in local queries.

As a smart small business owner, you want to make sure you cover your bases.

  1. Grab the directions widget to make it easy for users to map out your location and find your brick and mortar location
  2. Create a detailed, keyword-rich Directions page to make it easy for search engines to map out your location and find your brick and mortar location.

You can’t choose just one.

More in: Google

[“source-smallbiztrends”]