Online Project Management Software for Small Business: Choose Wisely

online project management

According to findings, only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management. Meanwhile, a whopping 93% of organizations report using standardized project management practices. In fact, 77% of high-performing projects use project management software.

Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of organizations using spreadsheets to manage their agile projects dropped from 74% to 67%. This is because these organizations moved to specialized project management tools.

When it comes to running a successful small business, you need a seamless project management software that helps you stay focused on your goals and achieve them without delays.

From getting through the early stages of planning, scheduling and communicating to managing critical resources, tracking costs and reporting, a robust project management program can make it all happen flawlessly. Further, it becomes easy to collaborate with utmost transparency in every process.

The main objective of small business project management software is to streamline and simplify tasks for project managers. It puts them in the driver’s seat where they get to decide on the whats, whens, whys, and hows of executing project-related tasks.

Thanks to easy collaboration, processes can be unified as different teams work together across several applications while staying abreast of the latest developments. Tasks such as file-sharing, task monitoring, reporting, and communicating can be carried out from one place.

In other words, a comprehensive cloud project management software will ensure that you’re always aware of the smallest details as well as the bigger picture.

Did you know that project performance has risen globally? In 2018, almost 70% of projects met their original goals or business intent, while around 60% were completed within the original budget. Both these numbers are up from 62% and 50% respectively in 2016.

Here are a few reasons why choosing the project management system that’s right for your business is of utmost importance.

  • While it is a challenging endeavor, using the right project management program can organize your business operations, enabling your organization to provide optimal outcomes through first-rate work processes.
  • In the modern business landscape, using manual and outdated tools such as paper-and-pen and spreadsheets to maintain records can prove to be highly ineffective and error-prone. These issues can be avoided with project management software.
  • Your clients expect high performance from your business. Missing deadlines, wasting resources, poor risk management, and similar issues can result in major trouble for you and may result in your project failing before even getting off the ground. None of this happens when you have an efficient project management system in place.
  • Effective client management is a critical aspect of growing a small business. The right project management tool takes care of this too.

Now, you might be wondering how to pick the right system for your small business, right!

Let me show you, How?

Take the below considerations in mind while choosing a project management software for your small business:

1. Best-in-Class vs Business Needs

A lot of small business owners make the mistake of buying high-end software that’s stuffed with features that promise to meet the needs of an entire enterprise. This type of software is usually promoted as “best-in-class.” However, you need to be smart and determine whether or not it is best for your business needs.

Usually, such a program ends up as shelfware. Business owners fall for shelfware by choosing from a couple of names based on top-of-the-mind recall. It is necessary to gauge the program’s features and benefits with regards to your business, and spend wisely on it.

While manual and spreadsheet methods may have served your business so far, you need to keep up with the changing times and harness technology to improve your project management processes and outcomes. While we do not recommended buying the next software you come across, we do suggest to determine the specific requirements of your business and select a program that plugs the gaps in the system.

2. Free Trials Are For You Only

It makes sense to actually try the project management tool at first to determine whether or not it fits your needs. However, don’t stop at one or two. Check out demos of 5 – 10 programs and shortlist a few to see how they work.

Take advantage of the free trials that most providers/vendors offer either under a limited account or for a fixed time period. If your provider doesn’t offer this facility upfront, feel free to ask about it.

Secondly, the software you choose should make communication and collaboration processes as flawless as possible. And, that’s why it is important to trail new software with team before buying it. Get their feedback on how the process is working for them. Doing so will also make your team feel involved in the decision-making process.

The duration of the trial should be long enough to allow you to gauge the software and feel convinced that it does fit your working style and business needs. Evaluate every provider to ensure that you don’t end up settling for a system, but get one that actually serves you well.

Most importantly, always remember to take the customer service and overall vendor responsiveness into consideration. Many times, even professionals make such small mistakes by overlooking the customer support which lands them into trouble later on.

Why you should never overlook the customer support?

In case, if you hit a roadblock or have certain questions on your mind and you contacted their support team but, you didn’t get the desired response. It will spell doom on your projects.

So, a wise move is to pose some queries and check their responsiveness in attending such queries, solutions that they provide. Doing so will enable you to see how receptive and co-operative they are.

3. Cost vs Capabilities

Regardless of the volume of the project, small businesses typically work within budgetary constraints. Picking software that best fits your unique business needs can, therefore, be a challenge. In such a case, it makes sense to get a program that offers you complete value for your money.

The cost of project management software varies from one provider to another. Some may cost as low as $50 while complex ERP solutions can set you back thousands of dollars. If you focus on getting quality software, you can consider your money spent well.

Some factors to consider include:

· What will be the ideal payment solution?
· Should you go for the subscription option or stick to monthly/quarterly/annual payments?
· How much will adoption and implementation of the program cost?
· Are you getting enough features/amenities for the price you’re paying?
· Will having the program cost more than running the business without the program?

The answers to the above questions will help you figure out whether or not the software can justify its cost.

4. Scalability For Future

Several small business owners end up buying a project management tool that caters only to their immediate current needs, overlooking the possibility of quick business growth. As they expand, they realize that their software isn’t flexible enough to accommodate the growing business demands and customer expectations.

This necessitates further expenditure on buying an advanced program. It is crucial to invest in a flexible and scalable project management system that grows as your businesses progresses. Make sure to get a program that allows you to add more features to it and upgrades as you grow.

5. Protection Against Cyberattacks

Underestimate the security aspect of your project management software at your own peril. Without a doubt, security is one of the most crucial factors to consider when investing in a software solution.

When your clients associate with you, they trust you with some of their most critical and confidential data. The last thing you want is to lose their trust and your credibility because a vested interest hacked into your software and stole/misused this sensitive information.

Apart from client data, your own business data, research, findings, patents and trademarks also need to be kept away from vicious online criminals.

Preventing/Avoiding Cyberattacks and other security issues should be high on your priority list from day one. Choosing a fortified and secure program will keep you safe from hackers, malware, viruses, and such.

It is recommended to check and recheck the security features of the software you’re planning to buy and gauge its reliability. Moreover, the vendor’s efficiency and dependability in backing up your data on a regular basis should also be factored into your decision. Determine whether or not they’re using a secure hosting platform to backup customer information, without hampering current operations.

Another consideration in this regard is the downtime. The project management solution you choose should be available at all times without any glitches. You don’t want keep your clients waiting because of problems with the project management tool and the inability of the vendor’s customer support team to respond to your queries.

6. Easy To Use Interface

One of the main reasons to invest in project management software is so business owners can stop worrying about daily operations and focus on business strategy.

With time being a luxury, the last thing you want to do is spend it learning the workings of your software, right!

It is crucial to get a project management solution that comes with a user-friendly interface and allows you work with it effortlessly without much training. The best programs require minimal training and enable users to work with them right away. This is because of their intuitive user interface.

One of the most overlooked factors here is that your software should minimize the risk of users getting it wrong and making costly mistakes. To ensure user-friendliness, your software should be:

  • Intuitive: The software should be easy-to-use even for novices, while being configurable by experts. Finding and changing software settings should be quick and hassle-free.
  • Accessible: The project management system should be easily accessible by both, on-site staff and remote staff with a login ID and password. Further, it should be accessible across devices and platforms.
  • Supportable: Features in cloud-based online project management software get upgraded regularly in order to maximize performance and boost outcomes. Your program should offer adequate maintenance and support in this regard either for free or at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

Choosing project management software that suits your specific business requirements is key to meeting your organizational goals. It can help you with enhanced decision-making abilities and customer satisfaction, resulting in unwavering success. However, don’t be fooled by fancy software making tall claims about its features. You may just end up with a higher cost and features that you don’t even need. Pay heed to the factors mentioned above, and you will be able to zero in on one that’s the perfect fit for your business, team, and clients.

Have you been using project management tools to propel your small business? Which feature(s) do you think is the most important? Tell us about it in your comments.

3 Software Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales

The software industry is currently experiencing a development renaissance. This is great news for business owners looking to shop around for a new vendor, but it makes gaining market share challenging for software companies. Given the crowded apps marketplace and the prevalence of cloud-based SaaS solutions, it’s vital for software companies to market their products appropriately.

In order to scale past early adopters and into mainstream sales success, nearly 90 percent of SaaS companies reported new customer acquisition as a top priority. Lead generation can be a costly process, but with a solid software marketing strategy, growing companies can lower those customer acquisition costs and potentially increase sales. Let’s take a look at some software marketing tips that can boost revenue.

Focus on customer service
Customer service has become a cornerstone of brand strategy in a digital age where companies are cultivating a richer understanding of the impact of customer experience on the sales funnel. Customer service, however, is more than just responding to questions and complaints online. It’s about understanding the customer journey. What do they want? Where are their businesses headed, and how does a company’s software fit into that niche? How are they currently evaluating their vendor options? Questions like these can help segment the buyer persona more effectively. Answering these questions gives insights to marketing teams so they can more intimately understand how stakeholders make purchase decisions, allowing them to more precisely build marketing campaigns and target more qualified leads.

Another valuable element to SaaS marketing is examining the value proposition behind the product offering as a potential vehicle for marketing efforts. Identifying key elements like price, data storage, analytics, and other facets business owners are particularly interested in plays a role in developing solutions to fill those needs. Software CEO Mark Hurd echoed this theme by saying, “aligning technology strategy to better service customers becomes an essential path to revenue growth.” If software companies can isolate the most appealing aspects of their offering, thus reducing costs for their customers while remaining competitive in terms of function, they can translate their developments into better customer service. Outstanding customer service can act as a key differentiator and provide valuable marketing clout.

Optimize content marketing
Content marketing has experienced explosive growth across industries, especially in the SaaS sector, where breaking down more complex topics can be integral to converting sales. Two ideal places to offer such content are blogs and social media channels. A unified blog and social media strategy can extend the half-life of popular posts and drive organic traffic to target pages. Additionally, offering engaging content can help software companies build up an email list to send out newsletters and marketing material.

Businesses should offer relevant, expert content that appeals to their target audience’s particular set of interests and expertise. Content can take the shape of standard blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and videos. The idea is to create “explainer content” framing data or product information in an easily digestible and shareable format. Current trends in media consumption point to mobile devices as a leading source of paid and organic clicks, so focusing on content such as video and audio can help capture an audience who is always on the move.

Feature marketing is one SaaS marketing trend that can be augmented with content marketing. Many software companies develop side features, apps, and widgets that stand alone from the main product but provide added value to target buyers. These additions have the potential to confuse customers if they are not communicated properly. Yam Regev, a software content marketing expert, commented, “the fact there are lots of new features is just like having more content! Extra features enable marketing to better inform and engage targeted audiences.” Sometimes, companies develop features that become more widely used than the main platform itself. Savvy marketers will consider the development of new products and apps as valuable opportunities to attract new customers and upsell existing ones.

Crowdsource reviews/client testimonials
Customer testimonials are essential when building up credibility surrounding a software product. They are an important part of a brand’s presence and stand as a testament to what prospective clients can achieve, or “social proof.” Because 92 percent of e-commerce buyers stated they sought out and read customer reviews before making a purchase decision, positive testimonials are increasingly important to those considering a software vendor, which is a more nuanced purchase.

Marketers can encourage customers to leave reviews or identify and reach out to specific clients who are likely to leave a positive testimonial on their site. Case studies are a great example of leveraging client results to inform future purchase decisions and can be a valuable asset in a content marketing campaign.

Standing out in the bustling SaaS marketplace can seem daunting. The tips above can help software companies cut through the noise and communicate their product offering more clearly to prospective customers.

How to Choose a Small Business Invoicing Solution: The Complete Guide

small business invoicing solution

Did you know that 27% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) admitted that they have a hard time creating and sending invoices?

You may want to take a look at the infographic below to gain a better understanding of the current state of invoicing.
smb invoicing

Source

As you can see, a seamless and intuitive invoicing system is an indispensable requirement for your business.

Starting a small business may be a dream come true for many an entrepreneur, but running it takes effort and smart work. Modern businesses need to harness technology that not only supports their processes, but also betters them to set the tone for long-term success.

Every time your small business sells a product or a service, an invoice is generated. For a thriving business, that’s way too many invoices being made every single day. This is where an efficient small business invoicing solution comes into the picture. It takes the worrying and erring out of making sales and payments, and makes the process expedient and hassle-free (and environment-friendly).

This post will shed light on the purpose of online invoicing, its functioning, and the factors that will help you choose the right online invoicing solution for your small business.

The Purpose of Online Invoicing Solutions

Having a small business invoice software in place will allow you to bid adieu to traditional solutions like MS Word and/or Excel. This, in turn, will enhance your workflow and eliminate the frustration arising from the arduous process of managing invoices.

With the right invoicing solution, it becomes easy to create, track, and process invoices as well as business and customer details. Further, such a software can accelerate and augment your cash flow, as well as expedite and simplify payments, apart from helping you save time and money.

Online invoicing software allows you to store all your data in the cloud. This means you can put your worries related to losing invoices or client data, or even your computer crashing and hacking issues to rest. All you need to do is log into your account to access all your business-critical information and start billing your clients.

Mentioned ahead are a few undeniable advantages of using online invoicing software.

a. Automated Digital Payments

Invoicing software allows businesses to carry out secure digital transactions and automate outflows by setting up recurring payments. This is particularly helpful with long-term clients. The system sends follow-up messages and payment reminders for forthcoming and due invoices. This, in turn, eliminates the stress of manually tracking and chasing down these payments.

b. Secure Your Data

Paper invoices can easily get lost or land in the wrong hands. A good invoicing system prevents this by making data security a priority. Ensure to invest in software that complies with PCI Security Standards. Such software employs advanced security safeguards, such as SSL encryption, against threats and loss of data.

c. Get Multi-Language and Multi-Currency Support

Technology has brought the world closer, enabling small businesses to work with global clients. Cloud-based invoicing platforms are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to allow users to choose their preferred language and currency, making interactions and transactions between companies and clients smoother and clearer. Because online invoicing systems are able to operate flawlessly in the global marketplace, the payment barriers are eliminated.

d. Access Information at Any Time from Anywhere

Online invoice management systems empower business owners to access and manage client information and billing data from any location and time zone and on any smart mobile device. Whether you’re working from office, home or are on-the-go, you can do business as usual without a hitch.

e. Easier Auditing

It is easy to access and interpret information with an invoicing software as it allows you to save and view your bills, estimates, expense receipts, transaction statements, and other important documents on one dashboard. The system creates a systematic and quick process for assessing financial statements related to your accounts and tax deductions. This makes it convenient for you to maintain your records in an error-free manner, which can be especially helpful during IRS audits.

f. Quicker Payments

Sending invoices online and receiving payments is quick and easy with an invoicing system in place, even more so if you use the recurring billing facility. Receiving, reviewing, and returning invoices can be done with the click of a button. This translates into quicker payments in a safe manner.

g. Save Time and Costs

Business owners can say goodbye to tedious data entry with online invoicing systems as they let you generate and distribute multiple invoices without reentering customer information each time. Bills can be tracked easily as well. Further, overheads can be brought down by jettisoning the use of paper, stationery, stamps, and document storage items used for sending invoices.

h. Reinforce Your Brand Identity

All your system-generated invoices will have your company logo, color schemes, and fonts that are a part of your brand standards. With a strengthened brand identity, clients are bound to take your business seriously and make payments on time. Further, you can customize your invoices with messages such as “Thank You!” You will also be able to link to piece of content created by you to help solve clients’ specific problems. This will reinforce your brand identity while establishing your leadership and expertise.

How Invoicing Software Works?

To put it simply, online invoicing systems for small businesses allow owners to create and send bills electronically. However, there’s more to them. These systems also enable users to create, control, and evaluate invoices on your smartphone or tablet. This essentially means that you’re on top of your work-related developments at all times. Read on to gain a thorough understanding of how to use an efficient invoicing solution to simplify your life:

  • Start by entering your client’s information on your invoicing system. This includes their name, contact details, email address, billing and mailing address, and preferred payment method. Organizing this data will enable you to set up recurring payments and issue invoices instantly.
  • Users can also input the usual billing costs once and for all in the system. The software will calculate the total bill at the end of each cycle automatically. This works particularly well if you charge an hourly rate.
  • Set up your payment terms and policies as these will determine how your invoices will be paid. Other factors to consider are payment schedules and preferred payment methods. Deciding on these aspect will make your billing process glitch-free. This should motivate clients to pay invoices on time and without hesitation.
  • Invoicing systems allow you to carefully design invoices to prevent confusion and delays. While this may seem complex, it really isn’t. Make sure your invoices include your brand’s logo, color scheme, your contact information, invoice number, payment due date, payment terms and policies, itemized list of products/services, and a note of thanks to the client for the payment.
  • You can maintain records of contracts, agreements, payments (paid and due), and other documents in the most orderly manner with the help of an online invoicing software.

How to Choose the Right Online Invoicing Software?

One of the conundrums small business owners find themselves in relates to choosing the right invoicing software. This can get tricky because of the variety of industry-specific solutions available in market. However, you will do well to focus on the following criteria when picking a system for your business to ensure that all its needs are met.

a. High-Level Data Security

Figure out if your invoice management system stores your data on its own server or a third-party server. Ask providers about the security measures they take to ensure the security of your information. Also, verify if the software providers are using HTTPS connection (from their website URL in the address bar). This protocol ensures that the data transferred from your computer to their server is encrypted and safe from hackers. You can also view their security certificate on their website.

b. Availability of Essential Features

An efficient invoicing solution will easily allow you to:

  • Create and manage customer records and purchase information on a centralized database in a secure manner
  • Enable quick payments by processing credit cards promptly and allow recurring billing
  • Create high-quality, professional-looking, and customizable invoices with predefined templates
  • Categorize and track costs and transactions according to projects
  • Manage inventory, stock movements, and wastage
  • Settle accounts by importing banking transactions
  • Create and record purchase orders
  • Record voucher entries
  • Integrate seamlessly with payment gateways
  • Manage customers and vendors list
  • View balance sheet, account payables and receivables, profit and loss statement, and tax statements
  • Receive multi-lingual and multi-currency support for issuing receipts, accepting payment and managing taxes
  • Send quotes to customers from a centralized database
  • Add team members and grant access control

c. Ease of Use

Not all business owners are well-versed in accounting, which why an invoicing suite becomes a necessity. Even with a dedicated accountant in place, business owners should be able to view and make sense of the financial information without any trouble. Ensure you get an easy to use software with a clean user-friendly interface that allows you to focus on business-critical tasks.

d. Scalability

A lot of business owners make the mistake of thinking short-term and buy software that fails to support the needs of their growing operations. This slows the progress and forces entrepreneurs to migrate to other software, which can be a hassle. It is, therefore, prudent to get software that scales with your business needs. Go for one that offers free entry-level features and can be upgraded to an advanced fully-equipped paid version, which you will need in the future.

Conclusion

Having an ingenious invoicing software in place can certainly help small businesses streamline their processes and work better with clients. From automating invoices and organizing data to receiving payments safely, online invoicing solutions can do it all. The kind of system you need depends entirely on your business goals and the kind of legacy software you have been using. Use the above information to make an informed decision and propel your business towards success.

What kind of challenges did you face when picking an invoice management system for your business, and how did you overcome them? Do let us know in your comments.

Top 4 Quick Travel Marketing Tips

The majority of people love to travel, which is why you may think that travel marketers have it easy.

Well, the truth is that the opposite is the reality, because the travel industry competition is stiff and fierce. That’s not to mention that things fluctuate greatly between seasons and between destinations, which complicates things even further.

But even with the travel industry expected to grow even further and competition getting even more fierce, the truth is that marketing your travel business also doesn’t need to be as difficult as you may have initially suspected.

Here are the top four quick tips for travel marketing:

1 – Summer and Winter Are Your Seasons

These are the seasons when people are the most likely to book for travel, with a nearly 30% increase in travel searches during this time. Specifically, December, January, July, and August are the top four months of the year when people are booking the most flights and hotel rooms.

Therefore, these are the months of the year when you will want to be focusing your marketing efforts the most intensely.

2 – Bid Lower During Those Months

While you may think that you should bid higher during those months when people are going to be booking far more flights and hotel rooms, the truth is that’s the exact same strategy that most if not all of your competition is going to be using as well. Instead, bidding your prices just a hair lower can be the best strategy to stand out more and gain you more sales. Just don’t bid too low, because you still want your business to turn out a profit.

3 – Be Informative

It may be a good idea to be informative and to go as far as to start a blog about travel tips and advice. That way, people may find out about your travel agency or business through your blog first. Just make sure that your blog truly is informative and educational. Beyond generic subjects like ‘top travel tips for beginners,’ you can get more serious and specific with subjects such as visa application rules by country or the best hotels by city.

4 – Be Visual

A major mistake that travel agencies make these days is that when marketing, around two thirds of all advertisements are just dull text ads.

When people are traveling or planning to travel, they don’t just want to read or hear about the destinations. They want to actually see those destinations. That’s exactly why images and videos need to dominate your websites, mobile apps, and advertisements all at the same time in order to make them significantly more captivating.

Travel Marketing Tips

All in all, these are the top four travel marketing tips that you will be unwise to ignore: marketing the most aggressively during the summer and winter, bid lower if possible) to stand out more, be informative and educational in your website, and be visual in your advertisements.

Four Great Ways to Start Advertising Your App

mid adult woman sitting on sofa with tablet pc. Horizontal shape, front view, copy space

So, your business is interested in creating a mobile app? It’s no surprise. Creating an app is one of the best things you can do for your business, so nearly every business has one! Unfortunately, just having an app isn’t enough. Nobody will download it if they don’t know it exists!
If you’re just getting started trying to advertise your app, make sure you start with these four marketing tips that are perfect for apps of all types.

Social Media
One of the very best ways to market your app, or any other kind of product or service for that matter, is to use social media. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
Start by having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Connect with friends and followers in a meaningful way instead of being overly promotional.
Paid advertising is also an option on social media platforms. As a bonus, most platforms make it very easy to advertise and get the most out of your marketing campaign.

Make a Website Just for Your App
Your business probably already has a website, and you should definitely talk about your brand-new app on your site, but your app should have a website of its very own too.
There are a couple of reasons why your app should have its own site. First, it’s a great way to ensure your app is easily searchable on the internet. Second, you can include as much information as possible about your app on its own website.
In addition, having a site for your app shows people that it’s the real deal. With its own presence on the internet, people will feel confident that it’s worth their time.

Mix and Mingle With the Public
When it comes to advertising your app, it’s about a lot more than sitting behind a desk and typing away on the internet. One of the best ways to advertise your business is to get out there and mingle with the public!
There are quite a few ways to do this:
• Create a press release
• Host a launch party
• Conduct and give interviews to local newspapers and bloggers
• Write a guest blog

Another great way to get the word out about your app is to connect with social media influencers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with millions of followers. Even getting an endorsement with an influencer in your industry with a few thousand followers can help.

List it in the App Store the Right Way
The very best, and easiest way, to get started advertising your app is to make sure its listing is optimized in the app store. That means using keywords, ratings, and detailed descriptions so that it is searchable in the store and enticing to download when found.
There are many ways to advertise your app, but if you’re just getting started, make sure you begin with these four ideas. They’ll make sure your app gets off to a running start!

Coolest Things About the Cloud That You Might Not Know

You’ve certainly heard of the cloud. Even if you haven’t, you’ve been using it for years. It’s what enables you to access information on the internet that is stored on servers all over the world.

The cloud is expanding, enabling us to do more with the power of the internet than ever before. Businesses are finding it easy to keep up with compliance using cloud-based software and companies are able to store massive amounts of information without having to house a huge server in the building.

We all have a basic understanding of the cloud, but you probably don’t know these cool things about cloud technology.

You Only Have to Pay for What You Use
Do you remember the days of buying external storage devices? The more storage you purchased, the more expensive it would be. However, most people bought more storage than they needed. It was especially difficult for businesses to gauge just how much storage they needed and how much they would have to pay to ensure they have extra storage, just in case.
With the cloud, you only pay for what you use! When you need more, it’s there for the taking. There is no longer a need to pay for storage that you won’t use.

There Are Different Kinds of Clouds
People always talk about ‘the’ cloud, but it’s a lot more than just one concept. There are actually many different kinds of cloud computing that include:
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
• Platform as a Service (PaaS)
• Software as a Service (SaaS)
In addition, you can choose to operate entirely in the cloud, use a server on your premises, or a hybrid of both.

It Can Save You Time and Money
The most convincing reason to use the cloud, especially for businesses, is because it can help you save time and money.
In addition to the fact that you only pay for what you use, a company will also save money because they aren’t spending cash to maintain hardware and subscribe to software and other services that require monthly fees. You can also scale up or down instantaneously without having to spend days or weeks planning a new strategy.

You Might Not Ever Have to Worry About Backups or Disaster Recovery Ever Again
Losing important files is a nightmare that every business shares. It would be even worse if the system was compromised because it would prevent employees from getting their work done.
With the cloud, you may never have to worry about backups or disaster recovery ever again. Although you shouldn’t depend on the cloud completely, if you choose a cloud server that provides disk-based replication, you can rest even easier.

Don’t forget that the cloud is the reason why we’re finally starting to live in smart homes that look like the ones predicted in the mid-20th century! The cloud is here to stay, which means it’s well worth your time to learn everything about how it works.

Top 10 Call to Action Examples

Top 10 Call to Action Examples

The call-to-action (CTA) is a basic element of all marketing efforts because that’s what gets the attention of your audience to take action. There are multiple examples of effective calls-to-action as well as ineffective ones on the internet. But, once you imbibe the good elements, it’s easy to eliminate the odd parts that won’t work at all.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to subscribe to few businesses over others, one thing for sure is that you are interested in the subject but the most important part is, these businesses were successful in grabbing your attention and encashing your interest. They do it very well by tweaking different elements of CTA, color, copy, size, shape, placement. The aim of an ideal call-to-action is to prompt an immediate action from the reader.

What factors fulfill the ‘effectiveness’ of a CTA?

• Offer something valuable to the reader – Free trial of your product
• Instruct the reader on what needs to be done
• Incorporate strong visuals
• Hint for an immediate action
• Make them more visible
• Use unique text copy other than traditional ones
• Should be connected with your goals

Let’s look at 10 call-to-action examples and take some ideas out of them:

1. Keep the CTA simple and to-the-point – Backcountry

Backcountry, an eCommerce site for adventure and specialty outdoor equipment, presents a warm welcome to the new website visitors with this pop-up, that offers a 10% off on their entire first order. A CTA button below with ‘Apply to Cart’ immediately pushes the customers to their carts with a discounted price. That’s pretty encouraging to new visitors. The CTA is right in front of visitors and freezes the background of the web page. Backcountry’s email subscription CTA does not use any text copy but just an image of an email. So, a reader understands what the CTA is all about even before reading the message ‘Stay in the Know. Sign Up for Backcountry news, sales and deals’.
1. Keep the CTA simple and to-the-point - Backcountry

2. Get personal with your customers – Agile CRM

When I come across ‘Click this’, I wouldn’t be as persuaded to click as I would when I see ‘Lizia, click this’. Humans are bound to take actions when they see their name. This is where personalization factor adds to the increase in conversions. Agile CRM, an all-in-one CRM solutions for small businesses, uses personalization in their call-to-action message. ‘Mark, You’ve got a $5 discount’ lets Mark believe that he is a premium customer to the company. This builds up the customer’s trust towards the company. And, ‘Coupon valid till 24 hrs only’ speeds up Mark to take the action.
2. Get personal with your customers - Agile CRM

3. Use the CTA as clickbait – ClassPass

The primary purpose of the CTA is that it should persuade viewers to click on it, so use your CTA as a clickbait just like how ClassPass does. ClassPass is a monthly fitness membership that allows customers to visit the best fitness studio. The CTA does two things – Puts an interesting offer to the visitors (a positive message) and constricts the time period for the offer (not-so-positive message). ClassPass interesting turns the eyes towards the positive message first because of the bigger font size, which convinces people to click ‘Yes, let’s do this!’. Even if customers look at ‘for a limited time only’, it only rushes them to avail the offer because they are already convinced by now.
3. Use the CTA as clickbait - ClassPass

4. Tell customers why they should click – Emailmonday

The call-to-action should tell customers as to why they should click on it. As simple as that. If there is nothing beneficial to the customers, they would not be excited to go an click the button. What I like about Emailmonday, an independent email marketing consultant, is the shape of the form. Unlike most forms which are either rectangular or square shaped, this form is spherical with the face of the business owner. The copy messages readers the true value of subscription – ‘Subscribe, because the really good email marketing tips are in the newsletter’. ‘You can Unsubscribe anytime, but you won’t even want to’ – that’s the faith you have in yourself.
4. Tell customers why they should click - Emailmonday

5. Increase the intriguing factor – SkullCandy

SkullCandy, a leader in consumer electronics, uses an interesting text copy ‘Get the lowdown’ for delivering insider news, event info and deals information. Also, ‘Join’ sounds better than ‘Subscribe’. What’s more interesting on SkullCandy’s website is the ‘Get $10’ CTA at the left bottom, which leads to the below-landing page. It allows new visitors to refer their friends and earn $10, $30, $50 in return.

A bold ‘Get $10’ without any message is intriguing for the visitors to click it. It grabs the attention of the reader because the CTA is highlighted along with the pop-up, dimming out the background.
5. Increase the intriguing factor - SkullCandy

6. Link your goal to the CTA – Vice

The trend with most of businesses today is they just add their social media buttons at the bottom of the page, which are seldom seen by the readers. But if your goal is to increase the audience on your social media platform, how do you do that? You can turn your heads to Vice. Vice, a leading global youth media company, puts a strong visual and text copy to invite readers to like their Facebook page. The image of puppy loving its father depicts the kind of love Vice has for their audience, and since the majority audience is youth, they connect well with animals. ‘Like us like we like you’ and ‘Like Vice’ has four likes already echoing among readers to ‘like’ their Facebook page, which is their priority at the moment.
6. Link your goal to the CTA - Vice

7. CTA at right in the center – Prezi

Prezi, a SaaS company which offers cloud-based presentation platform to its customers, puts the CTA ‘Try Prezi Next free’ right in front of your eyeballs which works as an awesome lead magnet. The moment you enter the website, that’s what you see at first look. When you use more than one CTA, it’s good to connect them to the same landing page, so that it impacts on conversion and also does not confuse customers. Here, ‘Get Started’ and ‘Try Prezi Next free’ both land on their pricing web page, which shows comparisons of their different plans.
7. CTA at right in the center - Prezi

8. Match up the colors – Magento

Most marketers don’t pay close attention to the choice of colors they use in their calls-to-action, not anymore. Some say green works better than red and vice-versa. Whatever color you use, they should not be too bright but pleasant to the eyes. Magento, a provider of cloud commerce innovation, uses an orange color which matches with their logo. The color scrolls the eyeballs to ‘Sign up for webinar’, ‘Magento’ and ‘see a demo’ which exactly is their aim – to seek attention. Both CTAs are easy to find because of their color and placement. The actions are linked to their goals of – increasing the audience to the webinar and reach their demo target for the month.
8. Match up the colors - Magento

9. Show more love – Popsugar

Popsugar is a global media and publishing company which creates content across entertainment, fashion, beauty, fitness, parenting and more, for women. Their call-to-action is full of hearts which relates more to its women audience. And of course, the text copy of this slide-in pop up ‘Get your daily beauty fix’ is what we women need, so send more of that :)
9. Show more love - Popsugar

10. Tell what your business does – Instacart

When I look at some websites, I don’t understand what their business is all about until I turn few web pages. That involves time and not many visitors would be interested to look up for information, so there you are letting go of potential customers. Instead, try what Instacart does. Instacart, an online grocery delivery business, tells what it does in their CTA in exactly seven words ‘Get your groceries delivered from local stores’. The placement of the CTA is also at the center with a free delivery option for first orders. It has this function of enabling and disabling high contrast, for good visibility.
10. Tell what your business does - Instacart

All the above-mentioned businesses follow the best practices and test and test and test their calls-to-action to generate more revenue. Try and use these ideas in designing your next call-to-action and measure the results. Don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went.

10 Ways Progressive Web Apps Will Replace Native Apps

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are poised to topple their native app, soon-to-be predecessors from their throne atop the best mobile app development strategies pyramid. In other words, move over native apps, your younger and better-looking sibling is taking over. That said, don’t start pulling your hair out if your business has already invested in the development of a native mobile app. Your money hasn’t gone to waste. There’s still significant value to gain from having a downloadable native app. Mobile apps, no matter the breed, are going to enter a hybrid period where consumers expect both a native app experience and a progressive web app.

The future beyond that period, however, points towards a PWA-dominated landscape. In this discussion, we’ll take a look at ten reasons why PWAs are better than native apps and create a better app-like experience for customers.

1. The World Is Increasingly Mobile

At first thought, this may seem like a win for the native app column, especially when you consider that 87% of an average user’s time on their mobile device is spent on native apps. But, we’re also hurtling towards app fatigue. App fatigue is caused by two things:
1. There are too many apps on the marketplace (over 1.5 million)
2. Most users have downloaded “enough” apps on their phone

As more and more people shifted to browsing and using their mobile devices, app developers slammed the marketplace with apps to meet this demand. Many users are reaching critical mass with the number of icons and apps that they’ll allow to populate their mobile devices’ home screens. Thus, it’s becoming incredibly difficult to convince customers to commit to downloading a new app and crowding their screens even more.

2. Search Algorithms Will Favor Mobile Soon

Towards the end of 2016, Google announced that it would shift its search engine indexing algorithms to mobile-first indexing. This change is predicted to occur in 2018 and will mean that Google will look for a company’s mobile website or experience before its desktop website. You’d be hard-pressed to find better evidence than that of a mobile future. For companies with PWAs, this change is huge because it means that your app-like experience will soon be discoverable by Google and other search engines. This is a luxury that even native apps won’t be able to compete with.

3. Fewer Clicks Means Easier Accessibility

Search engines are just one way for users to connect to your PWA. These web-based apps have always had a key benefit over native apps: accessibility. Think about how many steps are involved in downloading a native app to your mobile device. You have to access your device’s app market, search the app, download the app, accept permissions and so on. Each step is a chance that the would-be user decides it isn’t worth it. PWAs, on the other hand, are accessible the moment a user learns of its existence, by accessing the experience through a URL link.

4. Shareable

People like to share the latest “new” thing they’ve discovered, read about, bought, tasted, touched, etc. That’s why every social media platform ever to make it big has a share function and why there are options to share this blog post at the bottom of the page. People like to share apps too, but native apps’ lack of accessibility has made this difficult. You can’t just send someone a native app. You can only tell your closest friends to check it out; it is then on them to visit the app store and see for themselves what the app is all about.

PWAs are unique, compared to their native counterparts, because they can be accessed through a simple URL link. This means that sharing a PWA experience is as easy as linking someone to a news article.

5. Usable Across More Platforms

The other detriment to native apps’ shareability is that not all apps function across different platforms. If your friend has an Apple device and you a Samsung, there isn’t a guarantee that they can get the same apps that you love on your Android-powered device because the language on their Apple devices is different. Native apps get their name because they require a native programming language. This restricts the types of devices that can “read” and allow the app to run.

Progressive web apps are unique because they don’t require any download or programming language to read. It is all web-based. Thus, not only can you easily share a PWA experience, but there’s a much higher guarantee that the recipient will be able to access the app-like website.

6. Minimal Storage Required

PWAs don’t require any sort of download; a user can access the entire experience right in their mobile web browser. Part of the app fatigue that many mobile users are facing is lack of storage. Between the apps we download, pictures/videos we take, documents we save and every other item taking up residency inside our mobile devices, we’re creating storage needs faster than the newest models of smartphones can keep up with. If a potential user has to decide between downloading your app or keeping photo #3,047 of their cat and an auto-tuned version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies saved on their device, it isn’t going to be a hard decision for them.

If you want to “download” a PWA, you can save a URL shortcut to your home screen. This functions exactly like any other icon for an app does on your home screen. When pushed, it accesses your favorite mobile browser and brings you to the URL of the PWA. Storing a URL link requires much less space than downloading an entire native app.

7. Faster Load Times

Once a native app has been installed on a mobile device, and the user has successfully committed to the whole download process, the waiting still isn’t over. The load time of native apps can range, based on the app’s size and robustness. Yet, any wait is a long wait, especially for something that you’ve already waited for to access and download. Again, progressive web apps have the edge; they load in about the time it takes to load a webpage, which with an average Internet connection is just a moment or two. For businesses, this means customers never have to wait to access your app experience.

8. Faster To Develop

Not only are PWAs easier and faster to locate and load, but they are also quicker to make. This makes them exceptional for one-off campaigns, new product releases or any other occasion where you need to bring an app to market very quickly. However, this perk does hint at the downside of PWAs; they lack the performance and number of robust features that native apps are capable of. While PWAs are more straightforward to develop, part of their ease of development is because they can’t handle a lot of the harder-to-code features that native apps can leverage.

9. Cheaper To Make, Easier To Maintain

The speed and ease at which a PWA can be developed means cheaper costs. This is excellent news for smaller businesses that have been kept out of the mobile development game because of the costs of creating a native app. Progressive web apps are also easier to maintain for both users and developers. Users don’t have to repeatedly update their app in order to get the latest features; updates are immediately applied to the web-based experience the moment the developers publish them. The developers of PWAs experience far less time to produce each update or provide general maintenance to the app.

10. PWAs Still Deliver A Lot Of Value

As mentioned earlier, PWAs do lack in one major category: performance. Native apps are capable of doing more and offering more than progressive web apps. That said, don’t count the more nimble PWA out of the count for features. First, PWAs already provide a lot: push notifications, app-based loyalty programs, location-based services and messages, even interactive games and other media. Second, PWA’s are relatively new; there’s still significant developments underway and there’s plenty left to be discovered about the capabilities of web-based apps.

It isn’t hard to envision a future where the gap between PWAs and native apps, regarding performance, is much smaller than it is today. However, even if such a future is never actualized, most businesses can service all of their app needs inside a PWA environment.

Conclusions

If you’re a business that is looking to enter the mobile app space and you are trying to decide between developing a PWA or native apps, the answer is easy. PWAs have lots of value presently and far, far more to come in the future. Unless your app is going to house a lot of deep, sophisticated features, a native app simply isn’t worth it. Not only do they cost a lot of time and money to develop, but it is also becoming harder and harder to encourage downloads. As PWAs gain popularity, that difficulty is only going to rise. You can also easily develop and launch PWAs without coding with an app builder.

Simply put, PWAs are the next evolution of the app experience, and they will thrive where native apps have failed by being easier to access, share and produce, while still maintaining the same level of value that native app users have long enjoyed.

About Author:
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a company that helps small businesses build mobile solutions to compete with big brands. Their mobile app building platform makes it possible for everyone to create a mobile app for their business. When he isn’t helping small businesses, he is out surfing in the Pacific Ocean.

Smart Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners

Blogging is a great way to create content that will bring traffic to your website, and start selling online. As a small business, you’ve got a lot of competition out there. With these blogging tips though, you can stand out from the crowd and show your readers why they should buy with you.

Blog Regularly
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how often you’re going to blog. Can you do it daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Now’s not the time to make lofty goals that you can’t possibly reach. Be honest with yourself about how much time you have to dedicate to this project of your business. If you can only blog once a month, stick to that goal. The key is to update regularly, so search engines can see you’re a current site and rank you accordingly and send potential customers to pages of your business’ blog. To do this you can create your blogging or content calendar and write down all the dates and ideas you have.

Get Those Backlinks
One of the best ways to get readers to find your business’ blog is to get backlinks. These are links on other sites that direct readers to your own blog. As well as helping you find readers that way, they also help your SEO as they show you’re a reputable site. One of the best ways to do this is to create your business’ page on different trusted directories. Also, to show that you’re an expert in your business niche you can guest blog on other websites. When you do this, you can provide a backlink in return on your site. Ensure you’re citing their site properly when you do so, so they get the benefit of it. Use a tool like Cite It In to help you do this and to cite references to stats and recearches.

Think About Length of Posts
There’s a lot of debate about the length of posts you write for your blog. Which is best? Shorter blogs are good as they condense a lot of information into a short space. This is perfect if you’re writing for people who are on mobile, as many of your readers will be. Longer posts, though, are better for going into more detail. And some topics need fewer words. Just keep an eye on your length with Easy word count as you write.

Write Quality Posts
Yes, that’s easier said than done. However, readers can tell if they’re reading a quality post within seconds. If they’re not, they’ll just click away. Ensure that you’re writing posts your readers can use. They should be informative and entertaining to them and give them something that they wouldn’t have had before visiting your blog.

Beware of Plagiarism
Plagiarism is becoming a big problem online these days. Even if you’re actively avoiding it, you can still be caught out. Search engines will rate you down if you’re found to be using other people’s work and passing it off as your own. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to run your writing through a plagiarism detector such as PlagScan or Academized before you publish it.

Watch Your Grammar
Good grammar is the basis of any good blog. Without it, your writing won’t look expert or professional, which is what you need. Even more, grammar mistakes can drive customers away from your business. That’s why you need to have a good handle on your grammar. Check your writing to see if there’s any grammatical mistake before you publish, and work on improving your weak points. Services like State Of Writing and Grammarix can help you improve your grammar, and the quality of your writing.

Become the Go to Blog in Your Area
Whatever your business blog is about, you should aim to become the go-to blog in your business niche. Are you selling children’s craft materials? Then you can be a blog full of ideas for school and at home crafts, updated with the seasons. You want people to come to your blog, as you’re the one with all the ideas and information that they need and the product. Think about what you can bring to your niche, and make yourself indispensable as a blog.

Proofread and Edit Every Time
Before you post anything to your blog, ensure that you’re proofreading and editing it before you do so. You may think you’ve written the piece well, but there’s sure to be a mistake or two that you won’t spot until you make the post live. As mentioned above, mistakes make you look unprofessional and that’s the last thing you want. Give yourself time to sit and proofread your writing, ideally at least 24 hours. This means you won’t be editing in a rush, where you might miss something. If you’re unable to edit yourself, services like Paper Fellows and Big Assignments can help.

These tips are all recommended by expert bloggers, so you should try them out for yourself. Getting started is easier than you’d think, and once you’re writing you’ll find that there are lots to say about your subject. Give your readers what they need and they’ll keep coming back for more.