Networking Organizations We’re a Part of: Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce

Cape Ann was founded by pilgrims in 1623 and was named after England’s Queen Ann. Currently, Cape Ann offers big-city culture while maintaining a small-town charm, and its four communities consist of Essex, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-sea, and Rockport. With such an amazing location and so much to offer, it’s no wonder why we have been a part of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce for two years.

As a member of this organization, we are able to express the great benefits that come from being a member – from networking and training to adding value to your business. The following are just some of the many benefits Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce offers:

In their membership directory (both print and digital), help coordinate ribbon cuttings for special business occasions, host networking events (seminars, speaker programs, board meetings, etc.), sponsor and advertise business events in publications or online.

Gain insight into their affinity program. Here your business can save up to 25 percent on constant contact discount and gain access to a variety of health plan options and providers through Health services Administrators. Your company can even save on credit card processing!

Contribute to the community. By being a member your business can contribute to Business Education Collaborative to enrich the education and career development of students, to Businesswomen’s Committee that helps create a strong network group for women, to Government Affairs Council in creating a healthy business climate for the community, and to the Tourism Council, which works to promote Cape Ann as a premier visitor destination.

Gain access to other exclusive benefits like access to over 900 chamber members, office referrals, Cape Ann certificate program, and Discounts on local media advertisements.

To find out more about these benefits, or others, or if you are interested in being a member visit their website here

Plugins We Like: Events Calendar by Modern Tribe

The latest version of the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is Sperling Interactive’s go-to calendar plugin for our clients’ website. When researching the features of this calendar you may find a lot of great aspects including: its saved venues and organizers, its inclusion of Google map, the list of upcoming events, the option to export events into Google Calendar and iCal, its responsiveness from mobile devices to desktop, and its availability to internationalize and translate the descriptions.

Of course, when researching anything you may come across many positive and negative reviews, so I decided to ask one of our developers, Andrew, what he thought about the plugin to get more information.

When I asked Andrew how he felt about it, he said it was the best calendar plugin out of the other free options. He also said that aside from reviews claiming that it is a highly customizable option, it isn’t as customizable as one would think. “It works well as a template and it’s customizable in the way you view the events and the different templates options,” he said, “but making small changes to the templates can be a difficult.” According to Andrew, in order to make changes to those templates many other plugins need to be incorporated.

When I asked Andrew what were some things he liked about the events calendar he mentioned how once the plugin is installed it immediately incorporates the existing theme or color of the website. He also likes how the pieces to customize the calendar are all there, even though “getting them to where you need them takes more work.”

Overall, Andrew said he would recommend this calendar plugin to others because “for a free plugin it’s extensive” but to “be weary that needing super extensive things might be a little more challenging.”

Unconventional Tips for Content Creation

When creating content, whether it’s for a blog, social media, or anything in relation, we may get stumped or get writer’s block more often than we’d like. Many times, when it happens, we tend to just write down anything we can come up with and end up creating content of  lower quality than we’d like. Because of this we have searched and come up with some tips to help free our minds and make space for more creative ideas. If interested in these unconventional tips, continue reading.

Tip 1: Recite what you want to write before writing it.

Many times, when we recite the next sentence we want to write down in our heads we end up forgetting or “losing our spot” in between. By vocally narrating before writing we can keep track of what we are writing and get our complete thoughts down. Using a recording device or app can help with this tip.

Tip 2: Notice what sparks ideas throughout the day.

When doing regular day activities there are times when certain ideas strike us at random. Paying attention to what actions or things trigger those ideas can be helpful; it may help spark future ideas.

Tip 3: Save the editing for the very end.

When you’re on a writing streak, stopping in the middle of it to go back and edit something can make you lose focus on what you are writing and take too much time switching back and forth from editing mode to writing mode. Writing down everything that comes to mind first and saving the editing for the very end is a more efficient way of getting the job done.

Tip 4: Get on a writing schedule.

Focusing on your daily rhythm and the point of the day where you are more energized and focused can help you create a writing schedule that is more efficient for you. This can also help you create quality content!

Tip 5: Take short breaks while working.

When working for long periods of time we can get bored and lose focus or concentration on what we’re working on. This is why taking few minute breaks throughout the day can help improving your productivity and help you creating quality content.

Tip 6: Create an outline.

Create an outline and work backwards on it. Start with the point of your post and develop an outline from that point. This way the content you come up with can connect to the overall purpose of your post.

Making Business Decisions with Analytics

If you aren’t using or paying attention to your analytics when making business decisions, then you may not be making the best decisions for your company. Analytics are extremely important for knowing and understanding your customers. They can help us assess the outcomes over target standards and goals, the relationships between factors and outcomes, and understand what improvements and changes need to be made. Let’s look at the ways in which analytics can help make better business decisions in details below:

There are different types of analytics that focus on different areas of our businesses to help us better understand our business overall. They help us determine what our business objectives are, translate those data into goals and create project assessments and new plans.

Predictive Analytics is a type of analysis that assesses all current and historical facts of our business to help us predict what our future outcomes will be. It identifies patterns through record numbers to help identify the risks or opportunities that may come to rise. This is called Data Mining. It also helps model the relationships between the different factors that can be of risk or bring opportunities for our business.

Descriptive Analytics looks at past data information to help assess and understand why there was success or failure in our business’ strategy. This is important to help us learn of areas where improvements or changes need to be made in our strategies.

Overall, having the right analytics tools can be crucial to our business decisions. Not only do they help us to better understand our clients and business but also, they are extremely useful for creating reports and summarizing the overall data. They collect the initial data, describe them, and help verify the quality of the data. By using analytics you can save half the time and effort in creating reports.

Industry Specific Sites: Dribbble

Welcome to the first blog post of our newest blog series where we will be reviewing industry specific social sites. If you thought the only social mediums important for your business are just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn then you are wrong. If you weren’t already aware, there are many other social sites out in the virtual world that are specific to your business’ industry and can be much more important in placing your company in that industry’s map.

For the first blog of this new series, we will be reviewing Dribbble. Essentially, Dribbble works as a “show and tell” platform for all digital designers. Designers of all types (web designers, graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, etc.) use this social media platform to share their work with others. Just like other social media, Dribbble helps connect other designers and employers of the industry all around the world. Designers can, not only share but also, promote their work and discover and explore new designs!

As you may be wondering, some of our own team designers use Dribbble to share some of their works as well. The way it works is, designers submit the work they are most proud of or what they are currently working on onto the site everyday. They describe the design and can share the color pallets used on the work. Other designers can then share that work or comment and give advice on the design. Overall, this social site can help designers find jobs and companies find talent.

Originally, Dribbble began as a side project and then developed into what it is currently – a small, bootstrapped and profitable company located in Salem, Massachusetts helping designers around the world get noticed!

If you are interested in learning more about this Designer industry specific social site, or are interested in creating your own Dribbble account, visit the site for more here.

Persona Development

Persona Development is “a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience” (Ardath Albee). In other words, it is the legitimate process of creating a fake customer based on analytical information from your actual customers’ behavior. By creating personas, your company can gain a better understanding of how to deliver content of most relevance and usefulness to a particular group of audience. The best way to get the most accurate understanding is by creating 3-5 personas using a template.

In a template you want to gather both general profile and specific information about your persona. The more specific you get with your persona’s profile the better. This way your company will have a deeper understanding of your customers (their thoughts, feelings and behaviors) and will be able to find any overlooked tactical opportunities for your products/services. You will need:

– Name and job title

– Demographic

– Their goals and challenges

– Their values and fears

– Their hobbies

– Computer Literacy

– Where they get their news

– Blogs they read

– Customer quote

In order to come up with a specific profile on your persona you want to gather data information from your analytics to find out where your clients come from. Checking the keywords your clients used to find your business, and seeing how long they spent in your site can help you with this.

Another way to gather specific information is by communicating with all your team members that work directly with your customers. No one knows your customers better than those who actually get to communicate with them. These team members would be able to communicate the concerns and thoughts your customers bring up frequently. You can also get these informations by checking out all your social media accounts to see what your customers are saying about your company, as well as what questions they may have for your company.

If there are more specific information you would like to know about your customers, performing surveys and/or interviews are the best way to do so.

To find out more about persona development, contact Sperling Interactive.

Networking Organizations We’re a Part of: North Shore Chamber of Commerce

This month we will highlight North Shore Chamber of Commerce as one of the networking organizations we’re a part of. This organization is the largest business organization in our region and the most influential at that. It was established in 1918 and currently has more than 1,500 businesses and professional firm members of all sizes, different industries and occupation.

As a business located in the North Shore, we have been a part of this organization for 8 years, which qualifies us to attest to all the great benefits this organization has to offer.

One of the great benefits, which we have enjoyed, is being a part of the North Shore Business to Business Expo. This is a 2,500-person conference and exposition that features close to 100 exhibiting companies and speakers. Some other benefits include:

Executive Breakfast Forums where over 225 business leaders attend the breakfast to network with others and listen to important community speakers.

Speed Connections is similar to well-known speed dating. Here, attendees with other business professionals for 6 minutes at a time to network.

North Shore Business Journal is where all business issues, events, programs, and new member listings are published. This is prime location for business promotions, especially since thousands of North Shore businesses and firms are a on it.

Human Resources Employment Issue Workshops are available for the HR department of their member businesses. These are monthly discussions of issues that impact local businesses.

New Member Campaign is a great feature for all new members. Here you get to meet new professionals, get sales training, develop relationships while building your membership, win prizes and getaways, and-most importantly- gain exposure.

As a North Shore Chamber of Commerce member, you get many networking opportunities, exposure to firms in the area, referrals to your company, advocacy for your business, and education and training to help progress your business.

Among these, there are many more benefits that come with being a member of this organization. If you would like to learn more about the organization and where to sign up to become a member, visit here

Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Many times we tend to do things that are just not the right thing to do on social media without realizing it. Sometimes they are very obvious mistakes but somehow we don’t avoid doing them. Here are a few mistakes that need to be avoided:

Sharing irrelevant content.
Sharing content that doesn’t make sense to your business or audience can have negative affects on your overall brand.

Broadcasting the exact message everywhere.
Not all channels are the same nor do they have the same audience. Because of this, content needs to be tailored to the specific channel even if the content is the same.

Spamming your audience.
When I say this, I don’t mean, sending out content everyday/hour. Spamming can be posting completely irrelevant content or links. It’s important to only send out information that is valuable.

Being invisible.
Stay active on social media! You want to be recognizable and you want to have a lot of viewers. What is the point of having social media if you’re not going to be social, am I right?

Creating social media fights.
Avoid getting involved in social media fights. They are poisonous to your reputation and overall brand. Always keep in mind how you would want yourself and your brand to be recognized. If your customers have a complaint, show them customer service and work with their issues instead.

Ignoring your audience.
Always listen to your audience. After all, their opinions and concerns can help you learn where what flaws your business has currently. Reach out to your audience and answer their questions in a timely fashion.

Having multiple profiles on different social mediums.
This strategy is completely ineffective. It is much better to put more effort into one social media account to gain more quality audiences.

How to Start a Successful Blog

We have many blog posts dictating why having a business blog is so important for your company but, for this post, we have decided to create a guide on how to start off a successful blog.

The first step is to figure out who your target audience is and create your content around what they would be interested in knowing or learning about. You also want to make sure that what you are writing about plays along with the theme of your business.

Once you have come up with ideas for your content, put a unique twist on them by adding your own experiences, voice, and personality. Many times it can be difficult to come up with your own unique topic, this is where adding your own twist to popular content can come in handy.

Be consistent with uploading content. Create a content calendar where you can schedule in posts. Make sure to be realistic with the amount of content you will be distributing throughout the month. Do not push to post 3-7 days a week if you can’t come up with enough content. Instead start with 1 blog post a week and work from there.

Be honest and transparent. If there is something that your business needs to address or if you are trying to give advice to your clients, make sure you are being completely honest and are not feeding them ideas that would only be beneficial to your business. Your clients will read right through it.

Make your blog a community. Incorporate a comments box so that readers can ask questions and write about their own experiences. Use pronouns like “we” instead of “you.” You don’t want to be talking down to your audience; that’s the opposite of building a community.

Lastly, use your social media as a platform to promote your posts and help connect your readers.

A/B Testing


A/B Testing, also known as Split Testing and Bucket Testing, is a way of comparing two different versions of anything from websites to an app. According to Mike Sperling, the way it works is by showing versions A and B to a percentage of your consumers and test the outcome or response rate of each one. With that, the one that has the best response rate would be the one you send out to the rest of your consumers.


To get into more details on how to perform an A/B testing is by taking it as a scientific experiment:

  1. Start with a question, or the purpose for doing the experiment.
  2. Research consumers’ behaviors through analytics or past experiments.
  3. Make a hypothesis, or statement on the outcome of the experiment.
  4. Figure out the percentage of people you would like to perform the testing on and the length of the experiment.
  5. Perform the A/B Test where A would be the controlled substance and B is the variation.
  6. Analyze the study and conclude which form would be best to go with.

A/B testing is a perfect experiment to perform especially when making changes that could significantly increase leads, sales and revenue. These experiments are great overall because they help construct hypothesis and help get a better understanding of what experiences impact your consumers. If done consistently, it can even help gradually improve your site or marketing items.


This kind of testing can be done on anything, really:


-Sub headlines

-Paragraph Text

-Social Proof


-Call to action


-Media Mentions


– Awards and badges

-Content near a fold