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Blog posts of '2014' 'November'

Uber Energy

It seems you can’t read an article about new mobility or the sharing economy without stumbling across Uber; the mobility service that sprung up in 2009 to only five years later become valued at more than Avis, Hertz, or Sony. Yes, Sony.

Two weeks ago, I found myself using the service for the first time, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The ride went silky smooth largely due to its app, which is so easy-to-use your grandmother could use it. Since using it, I quickly realizing why so many opt for the convenience and availability over other options (often unknown for tourists). The company just expanded its offering with “Uber Pool”  – which now allows you to split a ride with strangers. It also announced a tie-up with music streaming service Spotify, to sync your two accounts so that the car will be playing your preferred playlist when the car arrives. However, Uber’s entry into the mobility market has been anything but smooth and its implications are still unclear.

Just recently, under pressure from taxi lobbies, India moved to make Uber harder to use in its second largest market after the US. Uber has been lambasted for flouting the law and undermining public transit, and even threatening to lower GDP for countries where it operates. Berlin has moved to ban it outright. Taxi companies around Europe held protests against Uber, but famously ended up boosting Uber ridership by 850% as riders without options [ironically] ended up using the much-maligned, but also much-mentioned service. And of course, there’s the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, who has come under repeated fire for controversial statements and practices regarding competitor Lyft and other incidents.

Leaving all that aside, from a transport and energy perspective, the question is: does Uber make cities more energy efficient? The question has been hotly debated for carsharing for some time, including for such services as Zipcar and Autolib’, but with Avis Budget Group buying Zipcar, it at least seems there is continued appetite in cities for these efforts as they continue to grapple with issues of pollution, congestion, and jobs and innovation.

One thing is certain: the world continues to urbanize, and congestion in cities is going nowhere but up. With this in mind, it seems that Uber or other similar services will play a role in our cities if for no other reason than that we want them to. Uber claims to be able to take one million vehicles off the roads, and Lyft believes that by increasing vehicle occupancy in major cities sucjh as Los Angeles and New York from 1.1 to 1.3 you would eliminate traffic in the city. Either prospect is tantalizing no matter your preferred mode of choice. This is akin to Autolib’s goal that for its 3,000 vehicles, you’d take 22,500 vehicles off the road; or about 7.5 cars off the road for each carsharing vehicle introduced.

What do you think? Is Uber really that different from taxis? And if so, is the overall energy benefit positive?

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Online Marketing Terms All Business Owners Should Know

If you’re like most small-business owners, you spend your day providing a great customer experience that sets you apart from your competition. The quality of your service is key now that digital word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. This doesn’t leave much time to stay current with the latest online-marketing developments.

To help navigate today’s brave new world of digital marketing for small business, as well as outline principles that are critical for your success, I’ve tried to outline eight terms that should be in every small-business owner’s vocabulary. Understanding the “why” and “what” will improve your marketing efforts and ability to attract and retain valuable customers.

1. Online presence

Your online presence is everywhere your business info can be found online and on mobile apps.

Whether looking for a new business or researching a known one, potential customers will use search engines and social platforms to find the information they need.

2. CTA 

A call to action prompts a customer to do something (for example: “Call now.” “Click here for 10% off.”). Testing different CTAs as part of your marketing will help you find out which is the most effective for your business. 

3. Conversion

Conversion is the step from your marketing effort to a customer taking action. A conversion could be an email or call, but most often a direct purchase. The goal of your marketing should be to drive conversions.

4. Remarketing

Remarketing is following up with consumers that have interacted with you or your marketing before. For example, sending email or a text messages to existing customers with the goal of building loyalty or getting referrals, feedback and reviews.

5. Referrals

Referrals are new customers that have been directed to your business by other customers or companies.

6. CAC 

Customer acquisition cost refers to the dollar amount spent to acquire a new customer. For example, if you work with a marketing service that you pay $1,000 and because of their work they deliver five new customers, the CAC of this marketing effort is $200.

7. CLTV 

Customer lifetime value is the dollar value of a customer relationship -- based on the total profit you expect to earn from that client over their time with your business. So if your service costs $50 and customers generally buy this service five times throughout their lifetime, the combined dollar value of all these transactions, or CLTV, is $250.

8. Cloud computing

Cloud computing, sometimes called software as a service or web-based software services, simply means business services such as email, storage or accounting supplied over the Internet. Using the cloud is increasingly popular with small-business owners because it’s more affordable and makes it easy to update the services.

For the full article, click HERE!

 

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Email Security

Ever had a virus outbreak on your network and wish it could have been prevented. I know I have, but what if I told you there are small and simple thing that we could do to prevent this from happening so easily.

Email scams and malware can easily provide a gaping hole in just about any network, and that hole can be a bit smaller just by simply training the users in your company to look out for common things in an email. For starters explain to your users the importance, and what can happen during an attack on the network, such as the company downtime, and cost that these types of attacks can cost. Then pull up some examples of items to look out for that are common among these bad emails, this could be misspelling of word in the emails, attachments, and even who sent them the email. While implementing a spam solution is always a good idea, just know that it most likely will not be able to capture 100% of all spam.

Lets look at a few examples of some phishing emails and put your brain to the test. Are you able to tell in these next few images why you think that it could be a fraud?

Email Security

If you guessed that the email that it was sent from is from the UK, then you would be correct. By taking just a few moments to google where the company is located you would easily be able to identify that this email is bogus.

Put your brain to the test by checking out these other examples of phishing emails HERE!

Tracy Hazelton
System Technologist
StormsEdge Technology

Holiday Spending Increases...Big Time

Holiday shoppers will spend more on average this year while discounts remain the No. 1 factor influencing purchases, according to a National Retail Federation survey out today.

The average person is expected to spend about $804, up nearly 5% from $767 last year, NRF's survey of about 7,500 consumers finds. Consumers are spending more across the board on family, friends, co-workers, pets and even babysitters. More shoppers than ever will make purchases online – 56% – while nearly 62% say they will shop at discount stores.

Deals continue to be the driving motivation for holiday shoppers. Sales and discounts were listed as the most important factor influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer during the holidays by 74.7% of shoppers. Quality of merchandise was listed as most important by 60.9% of shoppers.

Smartphones continue to gain traction as a valuable shopping tool. Nearly 56% of smartphone owners say they will use it in some way to help with holiday shopping; and a quarter said that a website or mobile site that is easy to use is the most important factor in deciding where to shop.

Despite deals starting earlier, more people will wait until November to shop this year – 40.9% vs. 38.8% last year. But nearly the same amount, 40.4%, will start before Halloween, NRF says. Most said they shop early to spread out their spending and avoid crowds, though nearly 45% said it's to take advantage of early deals.

Despite a decline in retail sales from August to September, fewer shoppers said the economy would affect their spending plans this year. Four in 10 said the state of the economy would impact how much they buy, nearly 20% fewer than in 2013. Retail sales declined 0.3% in September as consumers backed off on autos, clothing and home purchases, according to the Commerce Department report out Wednesday.

Experts expect holiday sales to increase 4.1% to $616.9 billion, the biggest increase in three years.

As for numerous data breaches suffered by retailers and other companies in the past year, customers are indifferent. The most, 41.6%, responded with "neutral" when asked how recent retail data breaches would affect how they shop and pay for purchases during the holiday season. Nearly 22% said it wasn't likely that breaches would affect their plans; just 6.9% said it was very likely.

Retailers including Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and Kmart have all suffered data breaches in the past year. Target, which perhaps suffered the biggest blow to its name because of the timing and size of its breach last holiday season, has said customers have largely moved on from the incident and come back to stores.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Boost Your LinkedIn Profile

10 tips to double your LinkedIn connections:

Sometimes the simplest tactics are forgotten that can make a big difference over time. With the majority of users having less than 500 connections these tips will provide the guidelines to take it beyond the 1,000 barrier.

  1. Update your status daily. This could include posting your latest blog post, sharing an interesting Slideshare presentation or an article that is of value to your industry and niche

  2. Participate in (or start) a LinkedIn group discussion weekly

  3. Follow influencers and ask or answer questions on their posts

  4. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and focus on 3-5 of these and stay active on each one

  5. Send one new invite daily and personalize it. Don’t use the standard default invite request

  6. Prominently display your contact information so you make it easy for people to contact you

  7. Endorse people you know for their skills with no expectation of reciprocation

  8. Promote your LinkedIn profile. Include it on your card, place it in your email signature and on your website/blog

  9. Tweet your LinkedIn updates to Twitter.

  10. Include links to your blog and website in your LinkedIn profile. This will help you build credibility by displaying your full online presence.


Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Holiday App To Save You $$$

A new app from Savings.com called PriceJump does just that. It helps shoppers cover all their bases by scanning local stores and 5,000 online retailers in real time to get the best price.

After downloading the app (only available on the iPhone for now), users can scan a bar code and instantly find the best price for that item. The result will display the best local and online price and also Amazon's.

Amazon doesn't always win. This summer, PriceJump launched a website that tracked Amazon prices and found that the site offered the best deals 51% of the time.

On items that cost more than $100, PriceJump found lower prices than Amazon 70% of the time.

But hunting for deals could save people a lot of money, particularly during the holiday season. Savings.com found that many popular holiday gifts wildly fluctuate in price during the last three months of the year.

One Disney doll (Elsa, of course), was available on Amazon for $14.99 on Oct. 17 and shot up to $20.39 on Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart and Target both offered the same doll for $12.79.

Savings.com also found that Microsoft's Surface tablet was being simultaneously being offered for $336 from one retailer and $524 from another.

But buyer beware: Just because the PriceJump app found a better deal doesn't mean it's worth buying it all the time.

For instance, if you're a subscriber to Amazon Prime, two-day shipping is included and that might not be the case at many other online stores or shipping might cost a bundle.

Or the store that has a better deal might be out of stock (The PriceJump app gives you phone numbers so you can call to check before you make that trip).

While it doesn't provide all the answers, PriceJump does take some of the guesswork out of the shopping experience and helps shoppers save.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

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