Setting Marketing Goals for the New Year

It’s that time of year again!  As individuals we set personal resolutions and goals to eat healthier, get exercise and be kinder in the New Year.  As business owners, we need to set similar “business type” goals yearly.  This is a great time to contemplate what went well last year and what areas could use some improvement.  Here are some tips to setting marketing goals in the coming year.

  • Review last year’s strategy – Meet with staff to review the various marketing activities you frequently use such as: email marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, web content, blog content and print media. Discuss the negative and positive aspects of each for your specific needs.
  • Review the Numbers – Now that you have a list of issues both positive and negative with each marketing activity, it is time to analyze the numbers.  Track using reporting tools such as email reports, metrics, Google Analytics, and other advertising tools that can help you critically measure your marketing results.
  • Assess the budget – With input from staff and the statistics from metrics and analytics, you will be able to reassess the budget that you used last year.  Are there areas that the budget should be reduced or increased?
  • Create New Goals – Create attainable and measurable goals for the coming months for your marketing budget.  Plan to check in regularly to see if you are still on track.

 

Advantages of Payment Processors

Trying to decide on a online payment processor can be a challenging one especially for small businesses that are looking for both usability and controlling costs.  There are several families of thought on choosing a payment processor from private payment systems to payment systems through your bank or even through a combined system of online payment gateways.  Let’s look at three of these types of systems and see where the advantage may be for your growing company.

PayPal PayPal is one of the largest online payment processors in the world. Advantages of this widely popular payment method include:

  • Credit card security- once your banking and credit card information is input-ed into the secure system you never need to enter it again thus stopping the worry of hackers getting your account info.
  • Flexibility – set up multiple accounts from debt to credit cards. Sending an transferring money is done with the click of a mouse.
  • The iPhone App: The PayPal iPhone application makes it easy to shop online and transfer money wherever you are.
  • Cost: One of the best reasons for using PayPal is its cost: free. That’s right. No annual membership fees, no processing fees, no service charges.

Authorized.net – The Authorize.net payment gateway is becoming popular by the day due to a variety of great benefits associated with its use.

  • Easy to Integrate – The Authorize.net payment gateway is very easy to set up and hence get started with.
  • Fraud Protection – Authorize.net provides a high end reliable fraud protection system that cuts down on the risks of frauds. The payment gateway has all the tools to aid the users. One instantly receives warnings in case of a suspected fraud and can then proceed as desired.
  • Customer Support – Authorize.net has a high customer satisfaction and provides support when needed.

Stripe – The payment method boasts that they feature the best of traditional and newer payment processes.

  • Usability & Control – Stripe completely controls the payment process your users’ experience.  They claim a much more user-friendly process than PayPal.
  • Costs- According to Stripe – The big advantage of Private Payment Systems such as PayPal was that they could be so much less expensive than a Merchant Account solution.  For a small organization, the monthly fees charged by your bank and by Authorize.net could really eat into the margins if your volumes are low.  PayPal’s “Standard” level of service has no monthly fee and charges 2.9% plus 30 cents for each transaction.

To read more about each type of payment process and which might be best for your business follow these links:

Authorize.net

Stripe.com

PayPal.com

 

WordPress Security

When designing and launching your web site one of the last things on your mind may be security.  Unfortunately, it is extremely common for websites to be compromised by malicious parties. One particular platform that should be protected is one of the most user-friendly website platforms available online – WordPress.  WordPress is a popular target for hackers and spammers since “of the box,” WordPress is terribly vulnerable to attacks.

According to WP White Security, more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker attacks and the total number of hacked WordPress websites in 2012 was a whopping 170,000. This figure is growing every year. Let’s look at some steps you can take to beef up your security and stop hackers in their tracks.

  • Backup existing databases which will be stored offline for use if needed.
  • Update of your WordPress site and any plugins being used to close up any loopholes.
  • Get a security audit completed to ensure no malicious activity has taken place.
  •  Regularly check your site to ensure that the site is running properly.
  • Search for security plugins that will give automatic updates.
  • Pick a password that is not easily guessed. Using the password 1234 or Password is a bad idea. The use of admin for a username can also be easily guessed.
  • Limit Log in attempts. There are options in content management systems to limit the log in attempts allowed in a certain period of time. By having this in place it reduces the risk of someone guessing a username or password.
  • To read more about WordPress security and attacks follow the link.

Google Fonts

Once upon a time, long,long ago (pre-2010) web designers had only a handful of text fonts to use when designing web sites, blogs and social media.  This drastically limited typographical creativity and limited them to typefaces commonly found on machines thus restricting the amount a font could raise brand awareness.  Well, since the dawn of Google fonts in the Spring of 2010, the marketing world has been taken by storm.  Let’s look at the major advantages Google Fonts have for viewers, designers and clients.

  • Free, and easy to use. Google Fonts gives you access to over 530 free, high-quality, open sources fonts.  These have compatibility with just about every browser and mobile device, and an easy implementation. Quickly and easily deploy the fonts to your desktop and begin using.  In addition Google Fonts can sort and filter the type of font and styles your company would like to use.  This makes it easy to decide if designers want a font that gives the perception of trustworthiness or one that may be easier to read or even one that says your company is technologically savvy.
  • Brand Identity. Designers can use a customized style font to distinguish their brand from the crowd. Companies can utilize fonts that integrate with their brand so that a consistent look and feel is achieved across all media. Designers may even introduce personality to your website by using web fonts, especially in headlines and subheads. By utilizing a customizable font across all media a brand identity and connection is made with viewers that was not possible just a few short years ago.  Read More about methods to implement Google Fonts and create a unique view of your company.