Can Anything Prevent Another Internet Shutdown in the U.S.?

Can Anything Prevent Another Internet Shutdown in the U.S.?

An internet shutdown in the Northeastern U.S. happened roughly a week ago, and the experts are looking for ways to prevent this attack from ever happening again.

Websites like Twitter and Spotify were inaccessible for thousands of people following the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a major domain name system (DNS) host. DNS, the technical network that converts web address names into numbers, is essentially the “yellow pages” of online addresses.

The perpetrators likely “hijacked the devices [equipped with internet] by installing the malware and then conscripted them into a ‘botnet,’ which is essentially an army of electronic devices unwittingly controlled by an unauthorized individual or entity,” Jeff Baron, a web pioneer who owned an accredited domain name registrar business, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Internet Crashes Will Be Hard To Stop After Obama’s Internet Giveaway)

The DDoS attack reportedly infected hundreds of thousands of devices around the globe and than directed those electronics to flood servers with artificial traffic. The compromised devices include anything connected to the internet, which nowadays can be mobile phones, televisions, home security systems, vehicles, refrigerators, and even toasters.

How Can We Prevent Another Internet Shutdown?

But there are ways to combat such attacks.

“One self-help mechanism would be for a ‘good’ hacker to write a virus that finds insecure devices and simply disables them. This would remove insecure devices from the pool of computers that could be used as bots,” Eli Dourado, technology policy director at the Mercatus Center, told TheDCNF. “It would be inconvenient to consumers whose devices suddenly stopped working, but that inconvenience may be necessary to prevent more serious attacks in the future.”

There are also security network services available, like Cloudfare and Akamai, but they can be expensive, said Ryan Hagemann, technology and civil liberties policy analyst at the Niskanen Center. “As with any decision, a company or individual will need to assess whether the benefits of employing such a service outweigh the costs.”

This technology is labeled under the “Internet of Things,” or IoT, which is a system of interrelated computing devices, digital machines, or objects that can transfer data over a network without requiring human help.

“IoT development is only in its infancy, but embedded intelligence and connectivity could have a wide range of benefits, including reduced cost, better product reliability, enhanced personal safety and better use of resources,” William Rinehart, director of technology and innovation policy at American Action Forum, wrote in an email.

Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, wrote a book called Permissionless Innovation, which outlines the number of benefits IoT technology will have, from wearable technologies to recreational and commercial drones.

IoT application is estimated to rake in $11.1 trillion per year by 2025, according to a report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute.

The comprehensive study demonstrates how IoT will help various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, urban development and infrastructure, among many others.

“For example, in health care, a dashboard that simply shows a physician a patient’s heart rhythm could be convenient, but a system that can put together a variety of personalized data and determine that the patient’s condition is deteriorating before that danger shows up in an electrocardiogram could be a life saver,” the McKinsey report explains.

But the assessment acknowledges that these benefits will not be automatic and that maintaining or balancing privacy concerns will be important.

“There’s no silver bullet that will provide an easy remedy to this problem,” Hagemann argues. “As such, it is incumbent on users to educate themselves in online security best practices and for industry to take more proactive steps to optimize the security of their devices.”

Thierer agrees, adding, “If policymakers want to foster the growth of the IoT…they will need to resist the temptation to base policy on worst-case thinking about these technologies.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected]

Republished by permission. Original here.

Green Keyboard Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

How To Choose a DSL or Cable Internet Connection for Your Small Business

internet connection for business

Ten or 15 years ago, a business didn’t really have many decisions to make regarding getting access to the Internet. In fact, 15 years ago, many small businesses would not even have had websites or appreciated the need to be on the World Wide Web.

Fast forward to today — the landscape certainly has changed!

It was only about 9 years ago that I would leave my last corporate job, one for a regional multi-state Internet service provider, to set out on my own and start an information technology firm. So I was right in the middle (of the beginning), technologically speaking, of the dawn of the high speed information age.

Since then, the world has grown up from “high speed” dial-up connections and very costly T1 lines that had to be specially installed, to a more small-business friendly landscape of DSL and cable connections. The advent of DSL and cable Internet connections meant that a business with just a handful of employees (or even a single-person business) could have access to similar Internet access speeds as many larger businesses. Installing a high speed Internet connection became faster, cheaper and easier.

But even though DSL and cable have become two standard ways of getting Internet service for a small business, do you really know the difference, and how to choose? Let’s compare.

Which Internet Connection for Your Business?

What is DSL?

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. DSL uses the phone lines coming into your premises for landline phones, to connect to the Internet. You computers are connected to a phone line via a special DSL modem for the purpose of transmitting data.

The speed at which a DSL modem sends and receives data varies from hundreds of Kilobits per second to Megabits. Examples of DSL technologies include Asymmetric DSL (ASDL) in which upload and download speeds differ and Symmetric DSL where both are the same speed.

Advantages of DSL

When looking at DSL, you have some advantages:

  • Faster speed than dial-up – definitely an improvement over using your phone line to dial up an Internet. Plus, you can access both the Internet and your phone line at the same time (which you can’t do with dial-up, if you have just one phone line).
  • You may be able to deal with your existing phone company. So you have one bill with your telecommunications provider.
  • Ability to choose between different connection speeds and pricing from various providers.

Disadvantages of DSL

  • The farther you are from the provider’s Central Office (CO), the slower the speeds you will qualify for.
  • Because access is delivered by your business’ phone line, you’ll lose your Internet connection should the line be damaged or interrupted.
  • Traditionally not as fast as cable.

What is Cable Internet?

Cable Internet transmits digital data over existing cable television lines using a cable modem. The speed at which it sends and receives data varies from just a few Megabits per second to many Megabits.

Advantages of Cable

  • Performance isn’t based on distance from the provider’s central location.
  • Faster speed than dial-up and DSL, especially if you purchase a business Internet access package.
  • Provides the kind of high speed symmetrical data many businesses would require for remote services and servers. In other words, if you are transmitting data to a remote server, or to the cloud, you are going to want faster transmission speeds that sometimes are not as available with DSL.
  • With cable, you typically can bundle other services such as VOIP phone and business TV, as well as networking services.That way you truly are dealing with one provider, giving you one bill and one company to call for support.

Disadvantages of Cable

  • You may share the available bandwidth of a single cable line with others in your neighborhood. The more people using it at the same time, the slower the performance. This can be minimized by choosing a business cable connection, which typically provides faster speeds.
  • Because Internet access is delivered via a cable line, you’ll lose your Internet connection if the cable line is damaged. Hence, if your cable “goes out,” your Internet access is lost.
  • Could be more costly than DSL.

So How do I Choose Either DSL or Cable?

1.) Find out if you have a choice — and what’s available in your area. In some places, especially remote areas, you may be able to get one type of service but not another. Or your access to cable may be limited to certain providers by your local community.

2.) Choose a trustworthy provider. You likely already know your experience with the phone company or cable company in other instances, including for residential service.

3.) Examine the provider’s business service plans. Business packages are typically tailored for a business’s needs and growth, versus a consumer’s needs. Often with business plans you have a choice of different levels of speed, depending on the number of users and devices in your business, as well as how you intend to use the Internet access on a daily basis.

For instance, if your business does heavy online file sharing or regularly transmits large files to the cloud, you will want to make sure you have sufficient speed. Be aware, also, of any data caps — is there a limit on the amount of data you can use over your Internet connection?

There are real reasons to choose a business plan, even for a business that starts out small in the home. In some cases, the ability to run a server and have a static IP address will require opting for business service over residential connection, even for a very small business.

4.) Assess your needs for special services and options. Check into additional services you may require and whether your provider offers them. That’s important, even if you don’t currently need those services — you must consider your business’s growth trajectory. You want a provider that can grow with you, seamlessly allowing you to upgrade and add services, as your business needs evolve.

Consider installation options and costs. Making sure everything is installed correctly the very first time is important. There’s extra cost and inefficiency in rework.

Some providers even offer full scale networking options to handle it all for you. This may be a better option for you than paying an employee to manage your network internally.

5.) Look at bundling options and overall price. Price isn’t everything, but you cannot pretend its not important so look for bundled deals that can save you money on the whole. Whether you want to outsource your networking, or use other services such as business phone systems or business television, you can save money with a bundled package and reduce the number of providers you need to contact in case of issues.

In summary, there’s a lot more for a business to consider when choosing Internet service than simply choosing the phone company or the cable company. Taking the time to educate yourself and carefully think about your needs can pay off in terms of choosing the Internet service that enables and supports fast growth, instead of one that may slow you down in the future.

Cables Photo via Shutterstock

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Google Bringing Fiber Internet to Southeast. What’s Next?

020215 google fiber

A much faster Internet is headed South this winter.

Google has just announced expansion plans for Google Fiber. This is the company’s revolutionary Internet connection that Google once compared to a public utility.

Dennis Kish, Google Fiber vice president, announced on the Fiber blog that this gigabit connection is coming to four metro areas, all in the Southeast U.S.: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

That swath of territory encompasses 18 total cities.

Kish writes:

“Bringing Google Fiber to these cities is a long-term investment. We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins.”

Before Fiber can be introduced to the public, Google must work with local governments to ensure the infrastructure is in place.

Utility poles must be constructed, and in some places, underground conduit will guide Google Fiber to neighborhoods within cities.

The installation represents a major utility project, reports The Charlotte Observer. City officials there had petitioned Google to become one of the next candidates to receive the service.

And based on observations of previous installations, thousands of miles of Google Fiber (an actual physical fiber-optic line) will have to be laid.

Kish writes that this process should take several months to complete and then construction and implementation can begin.

The Charlotte Observer adds comments from Google’s Jill Szuchmacher, who told locals at the announcement their city would be next to receive Fiber:

“We will build one area at a time. It won’t be an instantaneous flip of a switch.”

But once completed, residents and businesses in the cities picked for this round will be enjoying Internet connections not seen almost anywhere else in the U.S.

Google has already installed Fiber in Provo, Utah, which was first in the country to receive it. It’s in two other cities, too: Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas.

Google announced that it’s still working on expansion plans in the West. That includes the cities of Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose, Calif.

If those plans hold, it would leave only the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Deep South, and Upper Midwest as areas without Google Fiber nearby.

Fiber can reach download speeds of 1000Mbps. That’s a lot faster than the connection you’re currently getting, certainly.

And Internet speeds that fast mean Fiber can change how small businesses and other users access and use of online data.

Based on Google’s calculations, on a 10Mbps connection, it would take 4 minutes, 40 seconds to download 100 photos. Using Fiber, that process takes 3 seconds.

Fiber also offers a television service, complete with DVR controls.

In Provo, the pilot city for Fiber, customers only needed to pay a $30 installation fee and were provided with free Internet. Gigabit Internet connections cost $70 a month. And that with Fiber TV costs $120 per month.

Google now has a small business plan in Fiber areas, or Fiberhoods. The company is offering gigabit Internet connections for $100 per month in areas of Kansas City and Provo.

Google Photo via Shutterstock

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Ways Your Small Business Can Capitalize on the Internet of Things

IoT car

Note: The following is coverage of the Solid conference, with a specific focus on micro-manufacturing trends that are arising from IOT, trends on which small businesses can capitalize.

What if I told you that your next business venture may involve manufacturing a car? Or that your next startup will include the programming of microbes?

Those ideas, according to the O’Reilly Solid conference, are not only within reach, but are progressing rapidly into reality today.

I attended the conference to view presentations for new combinations of manufacturing, biology, and programming. These concepts, rooted in Internet of Things (IoT) tech, stirs grand imaginations of devices making people’s lives easier.   The ideas can also stir how your next business idea can be best positioned for a significant industry shift rather than a mere customer trend.

When most people hear or read IoT, they rightly think of consumer devices such as the Nest thermostat.  But through keynotes and shared stories, the speakers introduced the audience to how straightforward many ideas are.

At first glance, the keynote topics seem too far advanced for small business owners.

But when thinking of business opportunities, one should examine how this technology filters down to everyday uses or how they create access to new industries.  That means a focus on how things are produced with small teams or with tools that allow for scale while leveraging limited resources – concerns that worry any entrepreneur.

Joi Ito Safecast Geiger Counter Open Source

One example came from Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Labs. He described how the cost of innovation for biology-related technology is dropping substantially, creating a faster timetable for implementing innovation than that established by Moore’s Law for processors.

His example included the dramatic cost drop of gene sequencers, from a $2.5 billion estimated in 2003 to a $1,000 handheld sequencer.  Imagine what this means. Such a drop in cost lowers the barrier of entry for new businesses involved in high tech.

Ito also noted advances that have cut development costs. His example is  Sorona, an engineered microbe that convert sugars to polyester at 30 percent higher efficiency than fossil fuels.

Economic results like these have shifted costs to a minimal level that engineers and designer can try to build devices and eventually businesses.  Ito also notes how kids in Shenzhen, a Chinese province nicknamed the “Silicon Valley of China”, make cells phone “the same way people typically build websites and apps.”

There are other IoT opportunities besides biological.  A tech company Divergent Microfactories debuted the first 3D printed sports car built on a subsystem that offer micro-manufacturing possibilities.  Another, Digital Lumiens, had sensor-equipped lights that cut on and off by activity in a given room.

Danielle Applestone, of The Other Machine Company, shared her thoughts on influences and similar advances in manufacturing. She’s also the person behind The Other Mill.

There can also be partnering opportunity with protocols.  Douglas Woods, president of the MTConnect Institute, presented MTConnect, an open-source, XML- and HTTP-based communications standard. The protocol lets manufacturing equipment and devices coordinate production instructions seamlessly, improving management ability to monitor and extract data related to the device communication.  The institute offers partnerships for those developing devices that incorporate the MTConnect protocol.

Your business should pay attention to IoT conferences as the volume of conferences increase.  The expos are great exposure for learning about technical challenges are being experienced and what has been attempted to date. They are also great locations to network with the speakers.  I usually learn a ton of ideas from speakers when there is an chance to speak to them directly.  And I love showing gratitude  – sometimes the keynote material was so terrific, that I would just say thank you to the presenters afterwards, because I recognize the tremendous effort that had to go into the keynote material.

Finally, many IoT conferences will take place in a number of locations.  The O’Reilly Solid conference was in San Francisco this past summer (next year is planned for spring), but many marketing and tech conferences in other locations are transitioning to IoT themes.  So places such as Atlanta, Chicago, and New York are sure to have opportunities for small businesses nearby.

So what are you waiting for?  To get started on following IoT ideas online, do a search on common subject hashtags such as #IoT and follow the associated tweets. I keep a column dedicated in Hootsuite for such hashtags, but you can also create groups in Twitter as another means to follow tech trends.

Images: (top) Kevin Czinger, Founder and CEO of Divergent Microfactories, with the 3D car Blade; (middle) Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Labs/By Pierre DeBois

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Here’s What Happens in 60 Seconds on the Internet

60 seconds on the internet 2

Consider this: Every minute of every day, staggering amounts of data are being generated as consumers connect to, search for, watch, create, download, and shop for content.

Making sense of what all this data means is critical for the success of your company or brand.

So what are the 3.2 billion people who make up today’s global internet population doing online?

Business intelligence startup Domo recently released the third installment of their infographic, with 15 mind-blowing statistics for 2015.

Every Minute:

  • YouTube users upload 300 hours of video, an increase from 72 hours a year ago.
  • Netflix subscribers stream nearly 80,000 hours of video.
  • Vine users view more than 1 million videos.
  • BuzzFeed users watch more than 34,000 videos.
  • Instagram users like more than 1.7 million photos.
  • Snapchat users share nearly 300,000 snaps.
  • Pinterest pinners pin nearly 10,000 images, up from 3,400 a year ago.

Did I blow your mind yet?

Here are Five More Huge Stats:

  • Facebook users Like more than 4.1 million posts.
  • Twitter users tweet more than 347,000 times, up from 277,000 a year ago.
  • Apple users download 51,000 apps, up slightly from 48,000 a year ago.
  • Amazon sees more than 4,310 unique visitors.
  • Uber passengers take nearly 700 rides.

See all 15 statistics here:

60 seconds on the internet

[Click on image for larger version]

Image Credit: Domo Data Never Sleeps 3.0

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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”]

How an Old School Business Discovered the Internet and Grew 350 Percent

toronto 3

What do you do when you’ve been in business for years, and have a crisis of confidence?

One day something happens that forces you to confront some cold hard facts:

  • The world has changed.
  • Your business hasn’t changed with it.
  • And now your business is in jeopardy.

That’s exactly what happened to Brian Young, owner of Home Painters Toronto.

He discovered that his customers had changed their buying habits. They were going online to find a house painter. Yet his business was literally nowhere to be found online.

Many times, a story like that would have a bad ending. Some small businesses would succumb to the odds, and become the next failure statistic. But that’s not the case for Young’s business. In his case, he managed a stunning turnaround.

And this is the story of how he did it.

Cold Calling Made His Business Hot

Young started the business 25 years ago, while he was still a student in college. Back then, when Student Painters came to campus offering its franchise-style model, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It had always been my dream to run a business since I was a kid growing up watching my dad. Student Painters was recruiting on campus, and my friend did it and recruited me into it. I thought, ‘this is my shot at running my own business,’ so I was really excited about that. It was my dream come true,” recalls Young.

That was in 1987.

He discovered he was good at growing a painting business — mainly because he was good at cold calling.

“I learned how to do cold calling really well,” he said. “At the time I was young so I had all this energy. And cold calling didn’t take much time. You just had to go knock on doors and give them quotes on the spot. It’s more of a heart thing. Just go out and be as aggressive as you can. That was the way of marketing back then.”

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Young, at age 19, cold calling for Student Painters.

Upon graduation in 1991 Young went off on his own as an independent business owner.

Business was good. “I think our first year I was doing about $100,000 to $150,000 in revenue, in that range. It was pretty good back then,” he added.

Year after year, sales continued to climb.

His cold-calling marketing approach worked well for about a decade. Up through the late 1990s, “cold calling was the way to go,” he said.

The Internet Changes Everything

By the year 2000, though, the Internet had started gaining ground in the painting industry. Young began to notice consumers were going online to find painters.

Young’s world had irrevocably altered. He just wasn’t ready to admit it.

“I saw what was happening but I didn’t want to change. I’m like, ‘you know what, I’m a cold caller.’ I just kept knocking on doors,” recalled Young.

Yet, deep down, Young knew things were changing. “It was tough because I could feel my market going down, shrinking more and more and more.”

He soldiered on for another decade, watching sales gradually decline even though he was working harder than ever.

It All Came to a Head – Literally – in 2011

“I was canvassing a neighborhood and a potential client was upset that I’d interrupted his dinner. He came out and punched me in the face,” remembers Young with a rueful smile.

Young ended up with a black eye and the incident made him reevaluate his company’s marketing.

“It hurt me emotionally even more than physically. I am really passionate about my business. But it also knocked some sense into me. I realized, ‘Brian, I have to change or else my business is going to die.’”

“I call it the million dollar punch,” he added.

Playing Online Catch Up

Young took stock of his business’s situation and it wasn’t pretty.

Up to that point, in 2011, his business was nowhere to be found online. Yet, that’s where his market was.

“My business was offline, totally. I didn’t have a smartphone. I didn’t believe in email. I didn’t believe in websites. When it came to technology, we were bare bones. I mean, I had a Blackberry that I could type short messages on and that was it,” he recalls.

“So, I hired a consultant who helped me get my business online almost overnight. We worked ninja style. I was like, ‘What do we need now? And what do we need next?’ So we got a website. We joined some review sites. We implemented email marketing. One by one, we just kept nailing them,” said Young.

A major milestone for Young and his Home Painters Toronto business came just a month or so into the online transformation.

One of his first steps was to advertise using Google AdWords. “We had to do it because we were nowhere to be found in Google search results at that time,” he pointed out.

Advertising with AdWords required a huge leap. It meant spending more money than he had ever spent on marketing.

Prior to that time, his marketing budget was just $500 a year. “I’d do my lawn signs, and I would buy business cards. That was it. I was really cheap,” he laughs.

But almost immediately he saw the benefits of marketing online.

“For the first time in my life I didn’t have to cold call a house. That was significant. I was getting leads coming in – they’re called inbound leads — and that pretty much was the start of how things worked out. As more people found us online, things really started taking off.”

The Online Strategy to Refresh a Home Painting Business

Starting in Spring 2012, sales exploded.

“We started 2012 at $375,000 in revenue. Now after 2014 we’re at $1.3 million,” said Young. By his calculations, that amounts to a 350 percent increase in just three years’ time.

“I’ve been working like a madman ever since trying to keep up with the growth,” he added.

“Our goal now is to grow 20 to 30 percent a year. At the same time, I want to get my customer satisfaction ratings higher. We’re at 98.5 percent. We’re going to shoot for 99 percent customer satisfaction and encourage more online reviews. That’s how you have to market a business like this, is through reviews, “ he added.

“Before, in my business, you could upset someone, and then you could just not work on that street for the next five years and they’d forget. But now online, everything is exposed and you’re vulnerable that way. So you have to be impeccable about making sure every customer is taken of, no matter what. It raises the game of the business owner, and gives the customer more protection.”

In addition to advertising with AdWords, developing high customer satisfaction rates and encouraging positive reviews, there are a few other arrows in Young’s marketing quiver.

The company also pursues content marketing and search engine optimization as part of its strategy. ”For a year solid I’ve blogged two or three times a week,” points out Young.

Articles such as “What Causes Paint to Bubble, Crack and Peel?” and “Bringing Warmth to a Room with Ceiling Paint” give consumers the sort of relevant information they are looking for when researching painters, Young says. Content marketing also has helped the company’s website rank well for Toronto painter searches.

Even though his company was playing catch up, Young soon discovered that most of the painting industry was “still way behind.”

“Now they copy what we do. But they can’t keep up. Not that I’m trying to put the competition down — just saying that’s what is happening. My business has become the pacesetter,” asserts Young.

Growth Brings Another Set of Challenges

Another important element of the success story is how the company implemented Infusionsoft marketing automation software.

It wasn’t long before Home Painters Toronto became the victim of its own fast growth.

The more client leads the company got, the harder it became to manage them and keep track of what stage they were in.

“We had all these lead sources, and needed a way to organize them,” said Young.

In fact, Young insists that without automation there’s no way his company could function.

“Today, we quote anywhere from 200 to 300 leads a month. Trying to follow up manually with that many leads is nearly impossible. Automating our follow-up sequences saves us hours and hours each week,” he added.

He also needed to be able to hire and train people to help him. His vision was to create a platform to run the business off of, so he could duplicate his system and grow without increasing his personal working hours. That’s another thing Infusionsoft gave them, he said.

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Young, of Home Painters Toronto, channeling Rocky Balboa, with partner Jill Littlejohn.

But implementing Infusionsoft wasn’t smooth sailing at first.

“I was excited by our growth, but Infusionsoft was driving me crazy because I just wasn’t ‘getting it’.”

He knew from his father’s role model (his father also is a small business owner) that perseverance and hard work would pay off.

“Even if I had to stay up for 24 hours, I was willing to do anything because I saw in the first two or three months what the Internet could do for my business. This was my dream shot at turning this thing into something big. I couldn’t sleep. I was like ‘there has to be an answer to this, and if answers aren’t apparent, then we’ll find them’,” he added.

While on a retreat to Puerto Vallarta, Young coincidentally met Kelsey Bratcher of Hired Gun Solutions, an Infusionsoft expert. Eventually Young hired Bratcher as an outsourced member of his marketing team.

According to Bratcher, “small wins lead to big wins.” So, he focused on helping Young break things down into small pieces so they could quickly achieve some successes. The first thing they did was break down the Home Painter Toronto sales process into 12 stages and automated some of the stages.

Almost immediately, Young got his first “win” through Infusionsoft. The company sent out a reminder sequence about an upcoming appointment. “For the first time,” Young recalls, “I actually got a confirmation email from the client saying ‘we’re good to go tomorrow for 7:30’ without me having to call.”

“A light bulb went off. Previously I’d have to make multiple calls and leave voice mails. It got me thinking in terms of automation — versus of me doing all the work in my business. I realized it would free me to focus on strategy,” Young added.

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Young, with Kelsey Bratcher of Hired Gun Solutions, after accepting the 2015 ICON Award.

What It Takes to Transform an Old-School Business’s Marketing

The transformation of this once tech-phobic painting business is so dramatic that Young and Home Painters Toronto won the 2015 ICON Award. The Award is presented by Infusionsoft to small businesses demonstrating outstanding marketing success.

According to Marketing Coordinator Jill Littlejohn who was on hand at the 2015 ICON Conference (dressed in painter’s clothes just like her boss), under Young’s leadership they have embraced marketing automation completely. The Infusionsoft marketing automation software has been woven into the company’s processes so deeply that it is now “essential,” she said.

Today, Young sounds like a marketing tech whiz. But according to Bratcher, at first he was anything but. “I had to explain how the technology worked.”

But what Young had going for him was his drive. “He listens, and he goes with it. We’ve made some mistakes over the years and made some people angry with emails. But he doesn’t have this fear component. He just moves ahead — not recklessly, but he doesn’t spend much time worrying about his decisions,” added Bratcher.

That drive has caused Young’s business to be recognized as one of the top home painters in Toronto. The business has even been featured on several home decorating and makeover TV shows.

Young had some final advice for other small business owners — of any industry. “No matter how bad things are going, no matter how long it’s been going, there has to be a solution. Someone in the world has succeeded and overcome that problem. If they can overcome it, you can. You’ve just got to pay the price. If that means working a little harder, you have to work a little harder. Or work a little smarter. Or learn a new technology.”

“I watched the movie “Rocky” growing up. I’ve watched it so many times I know almost every line. I could almost recite it. I look for that movie whenever I’m having a tough time because this guy came from nowhere. He got a shot at the title and he just gave it his all, and he was standing at the end of that first movie. Motivation like that gives me the pigheaded determination to overcome anything no matter what,” he added.

And what about that $10,000 check that Young received as part of the ICON award? “I donated half of it to an entrepreneur cause — and am thrilled to help other entrepreneurs make their businesses a success.”

Image credits: Small Business Trends, Home Painters Toronto

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

U.S. Internet Connection Speeds Triple but Still Lag Behind, FCC Says

internet connections

Time and again, American enterprises have blamed slow Internet speeds for hurting their business. Luckily, the situation seems to be improving now — even though the United States has a lot of catching up to do.

According to the FCC’s 2015 Measuring Fixed Broadband America report, Internet speeds have tripled between March 2011 and September 2014, jumping to 31 Mbps from 10 Mbps. While the growth is impressive, it pales in comparison to what consumers in many other countries get. The United States ranked 25th in broadband speeds out of 39 countries sampled in 2013, and lags behind countries like France, Canada and Luxembourg.

Key Findings

Apart from revealing the rise in Internet speeds in the U.S., the report presents some other important insights such as:

  • Among major Internet Service Providers, Cablevision Systems Corp. led with average download speeds of 60 Mbps, followed by Verizon Communications Inc and Charter Communications Inc each with around 50 Mbps.
  • Consistency of speed is more important to customers who frequently use applications that are both high bandwidth and sensitive to variations in actual speed, such as streaming video.
  • Video accounts for more than 60 percent of the U.S. Internet traffic.
  • Maximum advertised speeds increased from 37.2 Mbps in September 2013 to 72 Mbps in September 2014.
  • Actual speeds experienced by most ISP subscribers are close to exceeding the advertised speeds.

What This Means for Your Business

Emphasis on boosting high-speed Internet in the U.S. has gained momentum in the past few years. The situation has assumed importance especially because of the increasing competition from countries such as South Korea and Japan where Internet works faster. Businesses in these countries have benefited enormously from high-speed broadband, whereas their American counterparts have suffered due to slow net connectivity.

Last year when the FFC adopted the new Net Neutrality rules, many expected broadband connections to get faster. Net Neutrality regulations, however, did not make ISPs deliver faster Internet to consumers. In fact, broadband companies argued that with the additional regulatory requirements, they may have to slow down on their investments in new and existing networks.

Despite this, consumer demand for faster net connection has been on the rise, and the industry is stepping up its efforts to meet these expectations.

Google and AT&T are offering up to 1,000 Mbps in several cities. Following in the footsteps of these two giants, Comcast is testing its own 1,000 Mbps service in Philadelphia.

The U.S. may have a long way to go before it can match the high-speed Internet connectivity available in other parts of the world. But he FCC data still shows positive sign that the country is moving in the right direction.

Network Cable Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Twitter, Spotify, Reddit suffer Internet outage in US

The outages happened as hackers launched a large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn’s servers. Photo: AFP

The outages happened as hackers launched a large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn’s servers. Photo: AFP

Some major Internet companies suffered service disruptions on Friday due to what Internet infrastructure provider Dyn said was a cyber attack that affected some sites, mainly for users on the US East Coast.

Some US Internet users had trouble accessing sites including microblogging site Twitter , music streaming service Spotify, discussion site Reddit and news site Vox, but others found the sites accessible in Europe or via mobile phones.

Amazon’s web services unit said on its site that it had identified the root cause of the issue and was working to resolve it.

“Customers may experience failures indicating ‘hostname unknown’ or ‘unknown host exception’ when attempting to resolve the hostnames for AWS services and EC2 instances,” Amazon said in the announcement on its site.

Dyn said what it described as an “attack” was mainly affecting the East Coast and that its engineers were working on it.

The outages happened as hackers launched a large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn’s servers, tech news site Gizmodo reported.

An FBI representative said she had no immediate comment on the outages.

Dyn is a Manchester, New Hampshire-based provider of Internet infrastructure services, including managing DNS activity that connects a user to a website’s servers.

Dyn’s website says customers include some of the world’s biggest corporations and Internet firms: Pfizer, Visa, Netflix and Twitter, SoundCloud and BT.

A company representative could not immediately be reached to clarify Dyn’s statement, made via Twitter, on the outages. Reuters

[“Source-Gadgets”]

The possible vendetta behind US Internet attacks

Hackers launched a so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack using ‘tens of millions’ of malware-infected devices connected to the internet. Photo: iStock

Hackers launched a so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack using ‘tens of millions’ of malware-infected devices connected to the internet. Photo: iStock

London/New York: Millions of internet users lost access to some of the world’s most popular websites on Friday, as hackers hammered servers along the US East Coast with phony traffic until they crashed, then moved westward.

A global attack on one provider of Domain Name System services, Dyn Inc., took down sites including Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, CNN, Etsy and The New York Times for long stretches of time — from New York to Los Angeles.

Kyle York, chief strategy officer of Dyn, said the hackers launched a so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack using “tens of millions” of malware-infected devices connected to the internet. Speaking during a conference call on Friday afternoon, York said Dyn was “actively” dealing with a “third wave” of the attack.

By Friday evening, Dyn said it had stopped the hacks. “As you can imagine it has been a crazy day,” Dyn spokesman Adam Coughlin wrote in an e-mail. “At this moment (knock on wood) service has been restored.”

Security professionals have been anticipating a rise in attacks coming from malware that targets the “Internet of Things,” a new breed of small gadgets that are connected to the internet. That was after a hacker released software code that powers such malware, called Mirai, several weeks ago.

Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the agency and the FBI are aware of the incidents and “investigating all potential causes.”

Internet havoc

Dyn first reported site outages relating to the DDoS attack at around 7:10am New York time. The company restored service two hours later but was offline again at around noon, as another attack appeared to be underway, this time affecting the West Coast as well.

While DDoS attacks don’t steal anything, they create havoc across the internet — and are on the rise in volume and power.

Earlier in the day, Brian Krebs, a well-known journalist covering computer security, wrote that the timing of the attacks corresponded with the release of research conducted by Dyn’s director of internet analysis. Dyn highlighted potential connections between firms that offer to protect against DDoS attacks, and the hackers who conduct them. Krebs’s own website faced an “extremely large and unusual” DDoS attack after he published a story based on the same research, he said.

“We can’t confirm or even speculate on anyone’s motivation or relation to that research,” said Dave Allen, Dyn’s general counsel.

Common warfare

With attacks on the internet’s Domain Name System, hackers compromise the underlying technology that governs how the web functions, making the hack far more powerful and widespread.

The DNS translates website names into the Internet Protocol addresses that computers use to look up and access sites. But it has a design flaw: Sending a routine data request to a DNS server from one computer, the hacker can trick the system into sending a monster file of IP addresses back to the intended target. Multiply that by tens of thousands of computers under the hackers’ control, and the wall of data that flooded back is enormous. A small server may be capable of handling hundreds of simultaneous requests, but thousands every minute cause overload and ultimately shut down, taking the websites it hosts offline with it.

The practice often is employed by groups of hackers. In 2012, a DDoS attack forced offline the websites of Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

A DDoS can be achieved in a number of ways, but commonly involves a distributed network of so-called “zombie” machines, referred to as botnets. A botnet is formed with computers and other connected devices in homes or offices infected with malicious code which, upon the request of a hacker, can flood a web server with data. One or two machines wouldn’t be an issue, but if tens or hundreds of thousands fire such data simultaneously, it can cripple even the most sophisticated web servers.

In the case of the Dyn incident, the computers targeted were DNS servers. Without a DNS server, large numbers of websites are inaccessible by users across a country or even the world. In other words, taking away the DNS servers is like taking away all the road signs on a country’s highway system.

Single company targeted

So-called “authoritative” DNS providers like Dyn are notoriously hard to secure. Carl Herberger, vice president for security solutions at Radware, an Israeli-based internet security company, likens “authoritative” DNS providers to hospitals, which must admit anyone who shows up at the emergency room. Dyn must consider traffic going to a website as initially legitimate. In the event of a DDoS, Dyn must work quickly to sort out the bad traffic from the good, which takes time and resources, and creates outages that ripple across the internet, as was the case Friday.

Dave Palmer, director of technology at UK cybersecurity company Darktrace, said the most recent DDoS attacks have been linked to Internet of Things devices, in particular web cams.

“The joke about the Internet of Things was that you were going to get people hijacking people’s connected fridges to conduct these attacks, but in these recent cases the culprit seems to be webcams,” Palmer said. “We will probably see, when this is investigated, that it is a botnet of the Internet of Things.”

To avoid massive outages, companies ramp up their capacity to try to absorb the deluge of traffic and reroute it, often with the help of a major telecommunications carrier or cloud-services provider like Akamai Technologies Inc. and CloudFlare Inc. But the only way to really prevent denial-of-service attacks may be to increase the overall security level of consumers around the world, Palmer said, a task that is getting harder as more and more devices are connected to the Internet.

“This is exactly what happens when tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of devices are left unprotected,” Palmer said. Bloomberg

[“Source-Gadgets”]