The Future of Tech Entrepreneurship Across Borders


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Invigorated by the promise of innovation, global entrepreneurs take it upon themselves to embrace the potential of the largely nascent and uncertain.

Whether it’s a mindset or a process to be mastered, the changing face and the future of tech entrepreneurship is poised to carry critical ramifications for the wider global economy.

In its 2018 World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund asserted that globalization was responsible for the acceleration of cross-border innovation. The growing emphasis on international collaboration, as well as trade and the use of patents, has significantly impacted production and innovation, especially in emerging economies.

Read more about what to believe in:  the future of tech entrepreneurship across borders that is open and accessible to all.

Today in Global Small Business: The Future of the Norwegian Startup Ecosystem


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What’s affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

GoDaddy Q&A with Plant the Future founder Paloma Teppa

Nature by design

GoDaddy is honored to partner with Plant the Future founder Paloma Teppa for our “Make the world you want campaign” — empowering makers to change your world if it doesn’t quite fit you.

In the Little River Arts District of Miami, Florida, you’ll find a shop rooted in whimsy, art and, most importantly, nature. Plant the Future isn’t a florist shop or nursery, though. While you can purchase a houseplant or a succulent, what Plant the Future and founder Paloma Teppa specialize in is more than adding something green to a space.

What Paloma Teppa creates is truly art — from wearable pieces like coats and jewelry to large-scale murals made with preserved moss.

Paloma’s projects include Starbucks stores in Maryland, Florida and Georgia; co-working spaces in Manhattan; hotels in New York and Florida; corporate headquarters; private residences and more.

For Paloma, making the world she wants means more than forging a path from a love for plants — it’s a passion to create well-being through a connection with nature.

You have the power, we have the tools. Make the world you want, and share it with everyone.


GoDaddy Q&A with Paloma Teppa: Connecting with nature

GoDaddy Plant the Future Paloma Teppa Standing in Garden“Even if we always look towards the future, I think that it’s very important to remember our roots.” ~ Paloma Teppa

This interview has been gently edited for length and clarity.

GoDaddy: What was the idea behind Plant the Future?

Paloma Teppa: Plant the Future came about, first, because of my need to have peace. I realized that for me, peace comes when I am surrounded in nature, plants and animals.

The way that I realized, since I was a child, that I had that peace was in nature.

I was born in Córdoba, Argentina. It’s a big town, with a lot of people, but it’s very calm with beautiful mountains and nature. When I moved to Italy I realized — in Turin, a big city — I realized the need that I have to be in that surrounding. So, from my need to be surrounded in nature, that’s how I decided to start Plant the Future.

So, after working with plants for 15 years it was not just the peace and happiness but another layer. The plants, they were healing me.

That’s how magical and amazing it was in my life — I have a mission now that I want to share with everybody.

GoDaddy: What exactly do you do at Plant the Future? What services do you provide?

Paloma Teppa: At Plant the Future, we design, we make art, we decorate with plants…from private residences to hotels, offices, condo buildings, hospitals, airports, practically everywhere nature is needed.

We also maintain and renovate plant arrangements for private and commercial clients. Clients bring their arrangements back to our studio for renovation or we send our maintenance team to freshen up large plants or arrangements on site.

Our goal is for people to have positive experiences with plants at home or office.

We also recently started offering plant workshops for kids and adults including terrarium making classes, etc. We will soon be launching a subscription-based plant program where people can sign up for monthly/quarterly delivery of orchid arrangements, terrariums and other plant arrangements.

Plant the Future Paloma Teppa Thoughtful Profile“Plants are for everybody. We need that love. We need that happiness,” says Paloma. “And plants don’t make any distinction of people, religions, sex, color or skin — nothing. So we learn from nature.”

GoDaddy: How did you end up in a big city with this need to be surrounded by nature?

Paloma Teppa: My mission is more in the big cities where people don’t have the opportunity to be surrounded by nature — to have a dog, to have a tree, to have a garden. They are suffering more because of the disconnection from Mother Nature. That’s how and why I’m living in the city. But my heart, my soul, is in Brazil, in Costa Rica, and wherever Mother Nature is free and happy.

GoDaddy: Can you tell us a little bit about the intersection of nature and art in your work?

Paloma Teppa: I always loved art. My father was an artist, so since I was a child I was surrounded by pencils and paints and canvases. I was always touched by art and the beauty of things. Also, my connection with nature — it took me a lot of time to put both together.

I studied industrial design, which is the opposite of what I’m doing now.

But, as you go step by step, everything comes to order and you realize why you did all the things that you did.

I studied industrial design in Argentina and then I studied fine arts in Italy.

When I moved to Miami, I started working with some friends in a flower shop. I realized that I was fighting with myself because I knew it from the first day that that was my life — plants, animals, living things. So, I combined all of them.

GoDaddy Plant the Future Paloma Teppa Tending a Cactus“I think it’s so important to really love what you’re doing because, if not, life can get very complicated,” Paloma says.

GoDaddy: What is the most rewarding thing about Plant the Future?

Paloma Teppa: The most rewarding thing is seeing the delight in people’s eyes when they see the connection — that’s amazing.

When you connect, you open a door or a window that is impossible to close again.

It’s like connecting with love. So when you have that connection, when I see that in people, that’s my best gift.

GoDaddy: Can you talk a little bit about running and growing a business?

Paloma Teppa: Being an entrepreneur is about facing obstacles and “stones” along the way every single day. So at the beginning, I was very sad and scared. I said, “Oh my God. Why is this is happening to me, this is terrible.”

No, this is life. This is natural. It rains, then comes the sun, the rainbow.

It’s part of the day. So I’ve learned to face the obstacles, so when I see the stone in my path, the first thing that I want to do is to take it out of the way as fast as possible.

I’m not in my comfort zone every day, at all. But I realize that’s the way to achieve growth and to achieve whatever we want in life. That’s why I think it’s so important to really love what you’re doing because, if not, life could get very complicated and not very satisfying.

GoDaddy: What is an average day like for you?

Paloma Teppa: I wake up around 7 a.m. I help my daughter get ready for school and I start working at 8. I work a lot. With design, we prepare arrangements. I check every single thing that goes out of this door.

So for me, the quality is very important — the health of the plants, the design, and all the details that are involved in a garden. I’m very detail-oriented.

GoDaddy: How has GoDaddy helped you expand?

Paloma Teppa: GoDaddy in my life, at this moment, is the gift I think that Mother Nature has given to me.

They’re supporting us. They’re helping us to grow and communicate what we want to our community and to the world.

It’s like the reward for 15 years of very hard work. I think that everything is not by coincidence. Everything has a cost; it’s a response to what you do. As much as you give the best you have, the return will be the same as that or bigger than what you can imagine. We need to be more aligned with what we need as human beings.

 GoDaddy Plant the Future Paloma Teppa Looking at Website on TabletA strong online presence is “an opportunity to be seen by the whole entire world, to communicate faster, to grow faster, to make the change we want to see in the world,” Paloma says.

GoDaddy: Can you talk about having an online presence? Is that important in growing your business?

Paloma Teppa: To have an online presence is so important at this time. It’s almost everything.

I think that we have the opportunity to be seen by the whole entire world, to communicate faster, to grow faster, to make the change we want to see in the world.

It’s so important. I recommend everybody in this world to have a website, an Instagram and Facebook page — you can have an amazing business without paying employees, without paying rent. It’s a huge opportunity!

GoDaddy: You have the online presence you just talked about, the website and Instagram, then you have the brick-and-mortar store. Can you talk a little bit about how they work together?

Paloma Teppa: Everything in this company is kind of an ecosystem where one helps the other. We strive to maintain consistency throughout the online and offline as much as possible. We create products that sell in our retail stores as well as our online shop. Sometimes we have exclusives for just our online customers while other times we have special products that are only sold locally at our brick-and-mortar shops. We do photo shoots, we produce videos, and everything is shared across all the different social media places.

GoDaddy: How has having a bigger online presence helped your business?

Paloma Teppa: Imagine how free you can be. You can be in the jungle. That’s my dream. I can be in the Amazon rainforest with a computer, or an iPad and sending pictures, growing my Instagram, and developing my website.

Now, because of technology, we are very close to that dream.

Maybe in the future, we won’t need to be so much in these super-dense cities and can live more remotely closer to nature. We can be more free — traveling, enjoying the life that we dream of.

Paloma Teppa at Plant The Future ShopPaloma says Plant the Future’s brick-and-mortar shop and robust online presence comprise an “ecosystem where one helps the other.”

GoDaddy: How does it feel to be a part of our #maketheworldyouwant campaign?

Paloma Teppa: It’s a blessing for us. I think that it’s a very big change because normally big companies surround themselves with big names.

I think what GoDaddy is doing is very progressive and incredible.

Because who will be more powerful in terms of publicity? A movie star or a very famous person to connect and do cross-marketing. But instead of doing that, GoDaddy has invested in people like me and others who are not at that level, to help us grow. This is so generous. This is so incredible. I can feel the world changing. I feel so happy. Finally, I see this as a huge change and I hope more companies as big as GoDaddy also take this into consideration.

GoDaddy: What kind of world do you want to live in?

Paloma Teppa: The kind of world I love to live in is the jungle or in a natural environment. But, I live in the city because I have a big mission — this mission is to connect people with nature, to connect people with their own soul.

GoDaddy: What energizes and inspires you?

Paloma Teppa: Mother Nature is my biggest inspiration. I’m a believer in biophilia and the underlying concept of biomimicry. I use and mimic nature as much as possible in my designs all the time. I learn from nature, how things grow, how nature co-exists with other living creatures, etc.

So, if you take a look, you can see all the details: the stones, the different types of plants, the light position, and how it becomes like a little ecosystem.

In a garden you have the secrets of your life.

So if we can connect people with a garden, we can connect people with their own soul.

GoDaddy Plant the Future Paloma Teppa Working on Flower Crown“If we can connect people with a garden,” Paloma says, “we can connect people with their own soul.”

GoDaddy: What advice would you give to people out there with a dream?

Paloma Teppa: The advice that I can give to people is to take some time to just be alone, to feel your soul, feel what your mission is, and then just jump right into it. It is very painful at the beginning because you are very vulnerable.

It is the stronger and the harder path to take, but it’s the only way that you will see the light.

Many thanks to Paloma Teppa for sharing her story. Be sure to check out the Plant the Future website and follow Plant the Future on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Where’s your town’s future mural?

Historic mural with cows, a barn and a windmill

I’m not saying you can’t have historical murals. I’m just saying you can have future murals, too. Photo by Becky McCray, from Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Every town needs a future mural, or a series of them.

Seems like every small town has a history-themed mural, but very few have a future-themed or even modern-style mural.

Many towns use old photos as displays, including in empty buildings. They do get people talking about what you used to have. But how are you engaging people in talking about what you will become? 

If every single display depicts the past, who is showing the future?

For every historic image, do a one-to-one match with a future image.

We spend enough time reminding people our town has a past. We don’t spend enough time reminding people our town has a future.

New to SmallBizSurvival.com? Take the Guided Tour. Like what you see? Get our updates.

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

How to Future Proof Your Global Small Business on Technology


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Around half of small business owners find today’s biggest tech trends – such as cloud computing, AI and data analytics – complicated. But there are actionable steps you can take to better understand your options and position your business to take on the changes on the horizon.

Read more about how to future proof your global small business on technology.

Benefits of Digital Transformation, Equipment Financing, The Future of Work and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

small business

17 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

1—Will AI Replace Managers?

Nearly one in five small businesses think the hassle of selecting and implementing new tech isn’t worth the trouble, yet more than four in five think their business could benefit from new tech if it’s the right fit. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to AI in business, but that’s a good thing; no two small businesses are exactly the same and internal needs vary.

For businesses with heavy client workloads, project managers have a big job. From sticking to deadlines to ensuring everyone on the team is focused on the right tasks, there can be little time for managers to actually manage. Getting caught up in the small details not only wastes time but also uses up valuable creative energies. iCEO, a project management AI program, steps in to pick up the slack. This unique AI platform takes a project and turns it into easily achievable steps that, once complete, brings the whole project together cohesively. This means integrating emails to keep everyone on the same page, finding and hiring gig workers for specialty help, and generating a hefty 124-page report. Office managers, hiring managers, and scheduling also have AI tools that take the menial and time consuming, yet necessary tasks of daily work, a streamline them into a well-oiled machine. The result is happy and creative managers leading efficiently.

Give your managers the tools they need to succeed and help them focus on what’s important – leading their team. Ready to find the right AI fit for your business? Look no further and let this infographic be a guide for the best AI programs for any business.

MBA Central explores the idea in the infographic below via NowSourcing.

 

2—Benefits of Digital Transformation

There’s a struggle among U.S. companies to seize the benefits of digital transformation across key areas, such as cybersecurity, operations, customer service and financial performance, due to poor integration strategies and a lack of vision, according to the Disruptive Decision-Making Study, commissioned by Telstra (with respondents from 14 global markets).

The research found digital transformation is one of the major challenges for this generation of U.S. business leaders. It also highlights the huge opportunity for businesses—if it’s done right.

The research shows how committed American businesses are to making digital transformation a spending priority in coming years—33% expect their company’s total spend on digital transformation to increase by more than 10% in the next three years, similar to global levels (32%).

However, almost three in 10 American businesses they have barely begun their digital transformation journey. Yet when it comes to strength in digital decision-making, U.S. leaders scored their companies slightly above the global benchmark.

 

How far along is your organization on its digital transformation journey? How well do you feel your organization makes digital transformation decisions?
Not started Highly mature Not very well Extremely well
USA 29% 23% 27% 26%
Global 30% 21% 30% 23%

Additional U.S. data points

  • 33% of surveyed companies expect their total spend on digital transformation to increase by more than 10% in the next three years
  • Only 36% of surveyed businesses have an integrated, whole-of-company digital transformation strategy
  • Nearly 75% report a need for enhanced integration in their digital initiatives
  • Determining a clear vision and strategy for transformation was the biggest challenge for surveyed businesses

3—The State of Payroll

Last month Intuit QuickBooks released The State of Small Business Cash Flow, a global study focused on the cash flow challenges experienced by small business owners and the self-employed. Further diving into the nuances of cash flow, Intuit is exploring the State of Payroll among small businesses. Payroll is often one of the largest expenses small businesses experience and ensuring payroll is accurate, on-time and compliant is essential to a small business’ success. And yet QuickBooks found many small businesses struggle with payroll, negatively impacting cash flow, employee satisfaction/retention and overall success.

Key findings:

  • More than 2 in 5 small business owners frequently have been at risk of not being able to pay their employees by payday
  • Nearly half estimate 30% or more of their company’s business expenses covers payroll
  • Nearly a third have paid employees late when at risk of not being able to pay their employees by payday, compared to 68% of owners who have moved money around
  • 55% report it takes one week or more to prepare for payroll
  • More than 2 in 5 small business owners run payroll themselves through software such as QuickBooks, 40% use an in-house accountant and 33% use an outsourced company or vendor, such as ADP
  • And according to additional data from QuickBooks Payroll and TSheets, 17% of employees who work for small businesses say a single inaccurate paycheck would be enough to make them quit their jobs and 18% would quit after a single late paycheck

4—Equipment Financing for SMBs 

Pitney Bowes Inc., a global technology company, recently announced Wheeler Financial from Pitney Bowes, a new subsidiary of the Pitney Bowes Bank, Inc., Member FDIC. This new subsidiary is dedicated to helping SMB clients acquire the critical assets they need to grow and expand their business.

 Wheeler Financial from Pitney Bowes will help clients purchase new equipment and services critical to the industries in which they operate with loans, leases, and other financial structures. Focused on non-captive equipment, this investment in the sustainability and growth of SMBs comes at an opportune time. According to the most recent National Center for Middle Market Indicator, 71% of businesses surveyed are planning to invest extra cash into their businesses. In addition, the FDIC reports small business loans have declined for 10 straight quarters, while banks with $100M of assets or less decreased by 79% between the years 1998 to 2018.

“We understand our client’s needs for capital are growing,” says Christopher Johnson, Senior Vice President and President, Pitney Bowes Financial Services. “The market’s ability to meet that need is actually shrinking. With the launch of Wheeler Financial, we are committed to investing in our clients’ growth by helping them acquire the assets essential to their business operations.”

The Pitney Bowes Bank, Inc., Member FDIC, resides in Salt Lake City, Utah and was established in 1997 to facilitate buying of U.S. postage—a form of currency. Clients can access extended lines of credit for postage, supplies, shipping expenses and postal equipment rental. In addition, they can hold deposit accounts and earn interest while they prepay for postage services. Pitney Bowes Financial Services has been providing commercial lending opportunities and solutions to purchase Pitney Bowes equipment for more than 30 years; financing over $10B to date. With the advent of Wheeler Financial, Pitney Bowes has access to bank capital ready to loan out to SMBs.

5—Technology is Key to Reaching New Customers & More

Technology is a primary driver helping the country’s SMBs reach their goals, according to new research from CompTIA, the leading trade association for the global technology industry.

“Whether it’s acquiring new customers, entering new marketing, launching new products, or streamlining operations and processes, technology is at the heart of these activities,” says Carolyn April, senior director for industry analysis at CompTIA. “Many small businesses are on the path toward digitizing their environments, using cloud-based solutions and services, and increasingly diving into data analytics to meet customer demand.”

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of SMBs indicate technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives, according to the CompTIA report Tech Buying Trends Among Small- and Medium-size Businesses.

Medium-sized organizations place the most weight on technology as a strategic tool, with 73% characterizing it as a primary factor in meeting overall objectives. But even among companies with fewer than 20 employees, 56% cite technology as a primary factor in achieving objectives.

But the road to digitization can be an uphill battle for even the tech-savviest of companies.

A 2016 CompTIA survey of the SMB market found 23% of companies reported excelling in technology vision and strategy. That number dropped to 18% in the new latest survey. SMBs also report slight drops in proficiency around execution and ongoing management of technology.

“It’s not that SMBs have gotten less tech-focused or capable, but the sheer number and types of solutions has grown in such size and complexity that many firms are taking two steps forward and one back as they navigate these new learning curves,” April explained.

Tech budgets, purchases and wish lists: Spending on technology products and services generally ranges from less than $5,000 annually for the smallest of SMBs to $249,000 a year for mid-size firms. A sweet spot for the entire SMB ecosystem is somewhere between $10,000 and $49,000 of spend per year. But nearly four in 10 respondents in the CompTIA study characterize their firm’s allocation of budget to tech spending as too low.

When it comes to what they’re buying, 36% of SMBs say their purchases in the last two years have focused on core infrastructure: laptops, desktops, mobile phones, servers and networking equipment and 31% have made industry- or sector-specific purchases, such as billing applications for a law practices or  electronic medical records software for a doctor’s office.

Asked what they would do with an unexpected windfall, 30% say they’d invest in “cutting-edge” technology; 23% would upgrade staff computers and mobile phones; and 20% would upgrade web sites, e-commerce apps and mobile apps.

When it comes to emerging technologies, 53% say this broad category represents a positive opportunity to innovate, profit and improve productivity. A quarter of respondents say it’s too early to tell what the impact will be on their business and 10% give a thumbs down to emerging tech, citing the high cost of entry for many of these solutions and the potential job-security perils inherent in automation.

6—Targeting on LinkedIn Just Got More Powerful

Guest post by Jae Oh, Senior Product Manager, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

One of the hardest parts of advertising is reaching the right people. With so many ways to define your target audience, it can be difficult deciding how to reach the audience that fits your ideal customer profile or folks who are more likely to be interested in your business.

We’re excited to introduce three new ways to help you easily target more of the right audiences from LinkedIn’s network of 610 million professionals: lookalike audiences, audience templates, and the addition of Microsoft Bing search data to our recently released interest targeting product. These offerings are designed to increase the scale of your marketing efforts and improve ROI.

Grow your business with lookalike audiences: As a marketer, you’re constantly looking for ways to reach new audiences who are similar to your ideal customers. After all, if they’re like those who are already engaging with your company, odds are they’ll be more likely to convert and help grow your business.

LinkedIn’s lookalike audiences combine the traits of your ideal customer with our rich member and company data to help you market to new professional audiences similar to your existing customers, website visitors and target accounts. Since these members are already on LinkedIn, they’re in the right professional mindset to engage and respond to your brand.

What can you do with lookalike audiences? Here are three ways they can help your business:

  • Reach high-converting audiences: With lookalike audiences, you can discover audiences similar to those who have already demonstrated an interest in your business—like engaged on your website or given you their contact info.
  • Get results at scale: Lookalike audiences can help you extend the reach of your campaigns to more qualified prospects. Customers in our pilot were able to improve their campaign reach by 5-10x while still reaching the kind of high-quality audiences that matter most to their organizations.
  • Engage new target accounts: For B2B advertisers pursuing an account-based strategy, you can use lookalike audiences to target your ads to additional companies you may not have previously considered. These companies match a similar company profile to your ideal customer—so you can win more deals.

You can get started with lookalike audiences by creating a Matched Audience in Campaign Manager—for example, a list of target accounts or contacts from your CRM, or an audience that’s visited your website.

Own the conversation with interest targeting from LinkedIn and Microsoft: Recently, we announced interest targeting in Campaign Manager, which allows you to reach members with relevant ads that match their professional interests. Now, we’ve expanded interest targeting by allowing you to target based on a combination of your audience’s professional interests on LinkedIn and the professional topics and content your audience engages with through Microsoft’s Bing search engine, in a way that respects member privacy.

Audience templates make it easy to find the right audience: If you’re new to advertising on LinkedIn or are an existing advertiser looking to reach new audiences, audience templates can help. This gives you a selection of more than 20 predefined B2B audiences (and growing) that help you get started faster.

These templates include audience characteristics, like member skills, job titles, groups, etc., that you can activate with a single click. This helps you effectively reach the professional audiences that matter most to your business — without spending hours in setup.

Lookalike audiences, audience templates, and interest targeting with LinkedIn + Microsoft Bing data will be available to all advertisers over the next two weeks. To learn more about targeting on LinkedIn, please download our e-Book Reach Your Audience: Targeting on LinkedIn.

7—How Smart Homes Take Over the World 

The rapid rate of growth in the smart home industry has an effect on all kinds of industries. The easiest way to track this is to follow the money. In 2018 alone, the US has spent $19.827 billion on smart home technology. This may seem like a low amount compared to the total size of the American Gross Domestic Product. But, keep in mind that smart homes are all about connecting different types of technology. It uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to do this. It’s estimated that by 2020 IoT will generate revenue exceeding $300 billion. The influential power of that $19 million odd (spent in 2018) suddenly looks very promising.

Check out the infographic below from Safeatlast.

8—Mid-Sized Businesses Lead the Move Toward Smart, Digital Workplaces 

Medium-sized businesses now account for over 60% of U.S. jobs and are investing fast in technology. However, with digital now a priority for businesses of all sizes, they must ensure they have the necessary skills and security management in place to handle the change, or risk falling behind competitors according to a new report from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

Developed to explore how medium-sized businesses across the globe are currently adopting workplace technology The Hidden Middle study uncovered a number of key trends:

  • Medium-sized businesses are the most active users of workplace technology: 63% of medium-sized business employees rated the “choice of technology, applications and IT support” at their company as either good or very good, compared to 53% of those employed at the largest companies. Medium-sized businesses are also ahead of the competition in their use of advanced audio-visual technologies (such as voice-activated and wireless communication tools), which are offered by an average of 27% of medium-sized businesses, compared to 16% of smaller and 22% of larger employers.
  • They are placing a heavy emphasis on the cloud: 24% of medium-sized business employees said their company had invested in cloud storage software over the last 12 months, compared to 17% of large firms. Medium-sized businesses are also prioritizing cybersecurity software: 39% reported investments in this area in the last year, compared to 31% of large businesses.
  • And are offering a better working environment as a result: In light of their impressive commitment to new technology medium-sized business employees are significantly more likely (66%) to rate their “environment at work” as either good or very good in comparison to those at the largest companies (57%). Businesses of this size are also more agile when it comes to offering flexibility for employees to use personal devices for work—with 72% of medium-sized business employees allowed to do this, compared to only 53% of those who work for larger employers.
  • But there is demand for better management of technology investments: 77% of medium-sized business employees either agreed or strongly agreed that “if not managed correctly, the introduction of new technology could damage employee morale;” while 78% agreed that “my organization’s management and control of the connected devices that are in use could be improved.”

A risky road ahead

With 66% saying their organization was “at risk of falling behind competitors” by not implementing new technology, the pressure to keep pace is clear—but so too are the associated dangers.

Despite being conscious of their organizations’ cybersecurity policies, 74% of medium-sized business employees admit taking risks with their company’s data in the past year. In addition, only 48% say security was the responsibility of “every employee”—compared to 66% of those who work for the largest employers.

“Though often forgotten in the digital transformation conversation—with the focus instead on how large companies are struggling to adapt or smaller businesses are seizing the ability to scale—it is medium-sized businesses whose employees show the willingness and agility to make better use of technology and understanding of the opportunities it brings,” says Patrick LaPorte, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Aruba. “The key is enabling them to do so. But with that comes a certain degree of security risk. For medium-sized businesses to realize the full value of their investments and eliminate the risks, their leaders must ensure employees are given the training needed to be productive and IT the tools to ensure safe use.”

9—The Future of Work

Upwork recently released the results of its third annual Future Workforce Report, which explores hiring behaviors in the U.S. The report focused on generational impacts on the workforce, delving specifically into how younger generations are shaping the future of work. The study found 48% of younger generation managers (composed of millennials primarily, with early Gen Z managers included as well) are director-level or higher already, showing they have major influence on workforce planning. This influence will only grow with these younger generations making up 58% of the workforce by 2028, an increase of 38% from today.

In today’s always-on workplace, 84% of Millennials have reported experiencing job burnout. Traditional methods of hiring are no longer providing sufficient relief. In fact, 42% as many younger generation hiring managers felt hiring had become more difficult than 18% who felt it had gotten easier in the past year. Now in a position of authority and facing this pain, younger generation managers see the need to rethink how work is done and are taking action.

“As younger generations ascend in the workforce and become the majority of managers in corporate America, they’ll reshape work as we know it,” says Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “We know already that the most in-demand professionals place high value on flexibility. For example, the youngest generations are most likely to freelance. And professionals craving flexibility will increasingly have managers who not only understand this priority but will themselves expect it. We see this clear trend towards more flexible, remote work on the hiring side already based on this year’s Future Workforce Report.”

How millennial and Gen Z managers are shaping the future of work

They support remote teams as the new norm

  • 69% of younger generation managers allow members of their teams to work remotely.
  • Of those, 74% report having workers who spend a significant portion of their time conducting their jobs remotely, while only 58% of baby boomers have workers who work a significant portion of their time remotely.
  • Younger generation managers are 28% more likely to utilize remote workers than baby boomers and believe that two out of five full-time employees will work remotely within the next three years.
  • 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028.

They see the need for better access to rapidly-changing skills and constant reskilling

  • Younger generation managers are more likely to believe in a more independent workforce approach and they’re nearly 3x more likely than baby boomers to believe individuals should be responsible for their own reskilling
  • Younger generation managers are also 50% more likely than boomers to leverage freelancers to fill skills gaps within their organization

They’re prioritizing workforce planning and embracing an agile future

  • 52% of younger managers ranked future workforce planning as a top priority for their department—nearly 3x more than boomers
  • They are nearly 2x more likely than boomers to have made significant progress in developing a flexible talent strategy as well as in investing in technology to support a remote workforce.

They’re utilizing freelancers at a higher rate

  • Younger generation managers are more than twice as likely than boomers to have increased their usage of freelancers in the past few years, and they are projected to continue increasing their usage this year
  • The primary reasons they’re using more freelancers are to increase productivity, access specialized skills, and drive cost efficiencies.
  • They are more than twice as likely as boomers to engage freelancers for ongoing, strategic partnerships across multiple projects vs. one-time, one-off projects.

“There are many misconceptions about younger generations in the workforce today,” says Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft. In my experience, millennials are equally, if not more committed to their work. But we expect more from our companies. We expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions. The good news for companies is that if they embrace this agility and flexibility they can drive innovation and change with their organization.”

Take a look at the infographic for more information.

10—Your Chance to Pitch the Brands

Licensing Expo, the world’s largest and most influential licensing industry event, just announced Pitch the Brands, where inventors can present their products to an executive panel of consumer product experts and get a chance to win a prize package valued over $18,000. The event is made possible through an exclusive collaboration between Licensing Expo and InventHelp, which will provide innovative entrepreneurs with a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To learn more and apply for Pitch the Brandsclick here.  

Pitch the Brands is an official part of Licensing Week 2019. Ten finalists will receive feedback and direction from influential licensing and consumer product executives. One finalist will be chosen to receive InventHelp’s services, valued at $18,000.

Brand licensing can help successfully launch new products into market by providing credibility, appealing to an established audience, securing distribution, and utilizing a brand’s promotional resources. In 2017, global retail sales of licensed products and services reached $271.6B, according to the 2018 LIMA Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey.

Licensing Expo will accept submissions on their website through April 15, 2019. By April 29, InventHelp will choose 10 finalists to present a demonstrable product in front of a live panel and audience at Licensing Expo 2019.

Pitch the Brands will take place June 5, from 2-3 Pacific time in the Global Licensing Group Theater. For a free registration to Licensing Expo, click here.

11—Millennials Are More Likely to Advertise on Traditional Mediums Than Older Generations

Millennials place more value in advertising for their businesses than older generations, according to a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website. About 95% of millennial entrepreneurs advertise for their businesses, compared to 92% of Generation X and 70% of baby boomer business owners.

Millennials understand the importance of advertising. “Millennials are used to instant gratification, and advertising helps satisfy that need,” says Les Kollegian, CEO of Jacob Tyler, a brand experience agency in California. “We live in a world with constant engagement, and millennials are the forefront of that expectation. Advertising helps people find a product they’re looking for quickly.”

The survey found millennials also advertise on more types of media—including traditional. For example, 41% of millennials advertise on TV, compared to 17% of Generation Xers and 10% of baby boomers. “Older generations have tried traditional media and either had great returns and stuck with them or didn’t and abandoned them,” says Josh Ryther, senior partner at Deksia, a marketing strategy and brand development agency in Michigan. “Maybe the younger generation is still testing out these more traditional mediums and hasn’t experienced as much negative return, so they’re more willing to take more of a risk.”

Nearly all small businesses advertise, regardless of owner’s generation: 87% of small businesses overall advertise, which suggests that advertising helps businesses across generations succeed.

“It’s essential for small businesses to advertise in order to not only maintain the level of business they have today but to grow,” says Harry Chapin, CEO and founder of Forge Worldwide, a brand-building company in Boston. “Very few businesses have the ability to attract new customers and grow revenues without using advertising.”

Businesses prefer digital advertising but still value traditional mediums

Online and social media advertising are the most popular among small businesses. About 65% of small businesses advertise on social media, and 49% advertise on other digital platforms, such as Google. This exceeds the number of small businesses that advertise on traditional mediums such as print (36%), TV (22%), and radio (22%).

Although digital advertising is preferred, advertising on a variety of mediums is still important for businesses that want to reach consumers throughout their day—not just when they’re online.

Overall, the survey shows advertising is important to small businesses in helping them reach and appeal to as many customers as possible.

12—Outdoor Factors Affecting Your Commercial Property

Great list for business owners who own commercial property from Raider Painting. Make sure your property is not costing you unnecessarily.

13—Mobile Consumers are Making 108% More Purchases In-App Than on Mobile Web

Button, a leading mobile partnership platform, recently released the Button 2019 Mobile Commerce Report: Holiday Analysis that highlights key learnings, based on millions of transactions that took place in the Button Marketplace over the 2018 holiday season, for marketers looking to drive mobile acquisition and engagement in 2019.

With the growth of the mobile economy, m-commerce transactions are projected overtake e-commerce transactions globally this year—showing how important it is for marketers to get ahead of their mobile strategies. This report equips marketers with new insight into mobile consumer shopping behavior, user activity in apps and on mobile web, as well as purchase patterns across shopping categories and peak periods that marketers can leverage in their mobile strategies.

“When consumers find what they want, brands and retailers can connect with new customers, and publishers can benefit from providing the traffic,” says Michael Jaconi, cofounder and CEO of Button.

Key findings:

Capturing mobile intent through app users: Consumers are shopping more in apps than on mobile web and are willing to download new apps to make those purchases. Over the 2018 holiday period, shoppers made 108% more purchases in-app than on mobile web and were making more repeat purchases and spending more in-app than on mobile web. Compared to the rest of 2018, app installs rose by 108% over the holiday shopping season—demonstrating the heightened willingness amongst shoppers to download new apps. It is important for marketers to hone in on their app users since those are the customers that are more likely to convert.

Engaging power shoppers: Marketers who focus their mobile efforts on acquiring new shoppers and turning them into power shoppers are going to win in 2019. Seven out of 10 shoppers in the Button Marketplace during Cyber Week were new users, and one-third of those new users came back to shop again, even after Cyber Monday ended, throughout the rest of the holiday season. Power shoppers who last shopped within 30 days of Cyber Week accounted for 22% of sales generated over the holiday period, made more than six shopping trips, and completed purchases two times more than average shoppers. These power users that emerged during the holiday season are likely to continue shopping in the months to come—showing that a strong focus on mobile experiences will bring about user loyalty.

Driving mobile offers on the right products to the right customers at the right times: By understanding the right times to provide offers and incentives to consumers, marketers will be better equipped to unlock incremental mobile app revenue. For example, shoppers started their holiday shopping early by browsing and buying on Thanksgiving morning; mobile sales of electronics spiked at midnight on both Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday while mobile sales of toys spiked on Cyber Monday. Marketers who are accurate at timing their messaging and promotion of deals to users will be empowered to maximize their mobile returns.

For more information, download the Button 2019 Mobile Commerce Report: Holiday Analysis here.

14—Are Your Employees Working to Their Full Potential?

A new study reveals that more than half of hourly employees say their current role prevents them from maximizing their full potential at work. Newly released research from WorkJam,  a leading digital workplace platform, found 61% of frustrated employees cite scheduling and communication pain points as reasons for leaving.

Embracing a Bring Your Own Device Policy in the Workplace polled hourly employees and employers across the retail, hospitality, logistics, healthcare, and banking industries to determine sentiment around BYOD policies. Among other findings, the study reveals, across industries, there is little pushback from employees about using their personal devices for work purposes. In fact, 57% of millennials would prefer to use their personal mobile devices to access information such as schedules and training materials. WorkJam also found 69% of employees believe that with the right application, they’d have an easier time picking up shifts that accommodate their schedules.

“Our smartphones are an extension of who we are and being able to integrate aspects of our work lives into our personal devices creates ease and comfort for employees,” says Steven Kramer, cofounder, president, and CEO of WorkJam. “Today, every U.S. workplace relies on smartphones, and the service industry is no exception. If used in conjunction with a BYOD policy, employers can foster a more productive, engaged, and loyal workforce.”

According to Kramer, these findings should call attention to the impact implementing a BYOD workplace policy can have when it comes to building a more engaged and productive workforce.

“It’s never been more imperative that employers put the power of communication and scheduling into employees’ hands,” Kramer says. “Having access to a central repository of training information that can be updated instantaneously will enable employers to retrieve information on their own time, from anywhere. Additionally, there is no longer confusion when policies change. Entire departments are alerted immediately when there’s a change in operations.”

This is where a digital workplace platform can help employers boost employee productivity, increase transparency throughout the company, and improve the employee “experience by harnessing the power of employees’ personal devices.

With WorkJam, getting in touch with a manager is only a few taps away, and important training materials can be accessed whether the employee is at home or work. This gives employees greater control over their work-life balance, boosting morale, and lowering instances of turnover. Organizations that make this investment now can get ahead of the competition while enhancing culture and creating opportunities for increased efficiency.

“It’s no longer a question of whether organizations should adopt a digital workplace policy,” Kramer said. “It’s about when they should make the change.”

 

 

Quick Takes

15—The Perfect Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Every marketer needs a social media strategy—and you certainly need one for social media. Since Instagram is the “hot” social platform at the moment, you should check out this blog from Hello Social.

Cool Tools

 

16—New Google Analytics Tool

Analytics Bar, a California-based technology start-up, just launched its simple menu bar app for tracking your visitors using Google Analytics in real time of all your apps or websites. Analytics Bar enables website owners to quickly view their total high-level key metrics for the day, such as real-time traffic count, total traffic count, top viewed pages, session count, referral source path, country, and more.

“It is especially useful for those who run multiple websites or apps, having a single point to check them all at once and saving hours of time without having to rummage through the browser for each website or app,” says Greg W., Founder of Analytics Bar. “It cuts out the middle man – the browser, to present your data as quickly as possible.”

Always on, always tracking: Analytics Bar offers the simplest way to stay on top of your Google Analytics traffic with minimal effort all day long in your taskbar. It also provides on-the-go statistics—just open your desktop, view your stats, and go! It is also useful for running a campaign and keeping a close eye to track the performance in real-time.

Key features:

  • Realtime Reporting: Displays real-time and today’s total Google Analytics stats in your taskbar/menu bar.
  • Unlimited Site Views: Supports multiple site views at once in your taskbar/menu bar
  • Secure Authentication: Provides secure Google Analytics service credential authentication. No username or password required for sign-in.
  • Ultra-Fast Refresh Rate: Constant 30-second Google Analytics refresh rate.
  • Display Preferences are available for users.

Analytics Bar app is available to download on Windows and macOS.

17—Payment Solution

ACI Worldwide, a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, recently announced new cloud-based, omni-channel in-store payments capabilities within its UP Merchant Payments solution. ACI’s award-winning UP Merchant Payments now delivers greater control, flexibility and security for merchants as they move more services to the cloud.

The broadened UP Merchant Payments solution is the result of ACI’s acquisition of technology assets from providers RevChip and TranSend, a team of expert developers focused on next-generation terminal payment applications and management platforms. These new capabilities accelerate ACI’s vision of delivering merchants a next-generation, mobile-first digital payment experience in-store.

True omni-channel payments require strong integration between point-of-sale (POS) applications, payments software and payment terminals. ACI’s UP Merchant Payments solution now makes it even easier to integrate these critical systems, enabling a secure, frictionless consumer experience while reducing IT footprint and complexity in the store.

“The move to the cloud provides merchants with challenges as well as opportunities. In order to reap those opportunities, merchants require a technology platform that delivers agnostic control, scalability and security as well as integrated payments and fraud capabilities,” says Sanjay Gupta, executive vice president, ACI Worldwide. “These powerful technology assets allow ACI to deliver merchants an unmatched next-generation in-store digital payment experience.”

The financial details of the RevChip and TranSend asset acquisition were not disclosed; the acquisition is not expected to be financially material to ACI in 2019.

Small business stock photo by William Perugini/Shutterstock

19-year-old CEO reveals the future of her Chinese English name–selling website

Beau Jessup gained global headlines in 2016 after featuring in BBC Newsbeat as the 16-year-old British girl that made £48,000 (~$63,500) from a website, Special Name, developed to help Chinese parents in choosing an English name for their babies. Now making hundreds of thousands of dollars through the uncanny business, Jessup is funding her way through the university and investing in properties but thinks her career will only need the business experience.

The then 16-year-old was inspired in 2015 to start Special Name, a business venture that provides culturally appropriate English names for Chinese babies. The young CEO named around 200,000 Chinese babies after six months of business, making over $60,000. Now the multi-million dollar business has made estimated revenues of more than $400,000 from naming 680,000+ babies.

Jessup was traveling with her father in China when Mrs. Wang, one of her father’s business associates, asked for help in providing a suitable English name for her 3-year-old daughter.

She was surprised and felt honored to receive such a request. “It seemed like a really important thing to do,” Jessup told CNBC Make it in an interview.

Jessup asked Mrs. Wang to share little information about the hopes she has for her daughter. This is to help in providing an “appropriate” name. Inspired by Eliza Doolittle’s bold and quick-witted character in “My Fair Lady,” Jessup suggested “Eliza” after Wang’s information meant she wanted people to be surprised by her daughter’s achievements.

Deeply pleased by Jessup’s suggestion, Wang explained the significance of having an English name to Chinese people.

All babies in China are given a Chinese name with carefully crafted meaning. But most of these Chinese people find it difficult to interact with English-speakers if they don’t also have a Western name. Internet censorship and language barrier often limit efforts to research on appropriate names that would possibly coincide with their Chinese names.

China ended its “one-child policy” in 2015, with birthrate having increased to 17.86 million according to China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. In Jessup’s mind, this could be an opportunity.

Other parents would be pleased to receive this service if Wang needed it, Jessup said.

Coming back to the UK, Jessup took a loan of £1,500 (~ $1,980) from her father to set up Special Name. The then A-level student hired a freelance web developer to build the website and she began filling the database with names at her spare time – a process that has since been automated.

The young CEO named around 200,000 Chinese babies after six months of business

The website requires users to select five characteristics that most likely represent the hopes they have for their babies. An algorithm will provide three gender-sensitive names after a spin to match with the selected characters. To avoid “cultural mistakes” and settle for the most appropriate name, users are encouraged to share the suggested names with friends and family.

The website has a direct link to WeChat, Chinese most populous messaging app, where Jessup has since depend on for advertisement.

After naming 162,000 babies for free, Jessup introduced a fee of 60 pence (~ 80 cents). As of the time of this writing, the website has named 680,319 babies. That’s roughly £310,991.4 (~ $410,341).

Having returned his father’s loan with interest, Jessup told news.com.au that her earnings from the largely self-sufficient website have gone to property investment and in paying her University fees. She’s currently studying Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics.

Though a small team is managing the website’s technical operations, “the business is fully automated” Jessup said. “I update the database each month.”

Beau Jessup disclosed that Special Name would not be a part of her future though she values the experience. The business is up for sale as she hopes to sell the business to a company who “shares my vision for Special Name.”

“I hope to use what I have learned from Special Name so that I can add value to other businesses,” Jessup said.

Blogging Past, Present and Future

In 2008, blogging was in its infancy. It was popular among writers and geeks, but rare for businesses. While I had a personal blog before then, the first official blog post on the Roundpeg site was published on January 2, 2008. At 131 words it was just a quick thought inspired by something I had read on Seth Godin’s blog.

Back then, the rules for blogging were different. Blogs were about conversation, not SEO. The goal of the blog post was to build on the ideas presented by others and encourage people to comment and share their thoughts on your blog. Good blogs were lively, interactive places where even business blog posts had a more personal touch. The short blog post was simply a conversation starter.

But then came social media, and the most interesting conversations moved to Twitter and Facebook. Search engines became more sophisticated in their quest for great content, and blogging became an important marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Sites like CopyBlogger and SEO MOZ sprung up filled with great tips on how to craft compelling content to engage readers and search engines.

By 2012 we saw blog posts becoming longer, more key word rich, more formulaic (10 Ways to do X), and less personal. But many companies still weren’t blogging, so if you were cranking out 4 – 8  blog posts a month, roughly 400 words each, you would enjoy traffic and relatively good search position. Cross links, still had value as Google, flooded with new content, looked for ways to assign authority to blog sites.

Over the next few years, we saw blog posts get even longer (800 words is now fairly typical), all but the highest quality links bring little or no value, and traffic to individual posts dried up.

So is blogging dead in 2019? No, but the game has changed. And if you want to be successful, you have to learn the new rules.

Quality vs Quantity

From 2008 – 2011, we published one short blog post a day, seven days a week. Gradually we reduced the number of posts and used the time to write longer more informative posts. These days we publish two blogs a week, and our traffic is higher than it has ever been. We are making the same shift for all of our clients.

Writing fewer, more content rich blog posts gives us time to dive into a topic, hitting both top key words and some of the more obscure long tail phrases. At the same time, on our blog and on blogs for most of our clients, there are a handful of older posts which still drive traffic day in and day out.

Update Old Content

Every day, posts we wrote years ago get traffic. These articles continue to attract attention because they are unique and rank well for search. Because of this, we routinely take time to go back and review the old posts, adding 100 – 200 new words of additional information, pictures, a video (more on multimedia later), or a link to a new related article. Those internal links help transfer some of the authority from the old post to the new one.

A word of caution, do not change the date on the blog posts, this may actually break all the original inbound links, but do let readers know the article has been updated recently. Then share it on social media and introduce a whole new audience to your most popular post.

Last year, the top post on Roundpeg was What’s the Best Size for your Logo. Originally written three years ago, it has consistently been a top performing post, so last year we added a call to action at the top of the page. With more than 15,000 visits each year, it made sense to give readers a logical next step right up front.

Other ways to breath new life into old content is to round up posts, collecting several articles on the same topic, like this Web Design Roundup. Not only does it give you a chance to shine a light on a great post many people may have missed, it is also an SEO boost.  Roundups make it easy for search engines to find similar content, increasing the authority of your site.

Find Niche Topics Only You Can Write

With so many people writing and writing and writing how do you stand out? Well it isn’t with just another “10 Ways to Do “X.” There are already hundreds of articles on that topic. What you need to do is bring a unique perspective to the topic. Some of our best posts connect marketing to pop culture with topics like:

In 2019 Blog Posts are Not Just Words

Look at your news feed on any social media platform and you will see audio files and videos filling the timeline. If you want to get noticed you need to get into the multimedia game. Record a short podcast on the same subject as your blog post or transcribe your podcast and publish the text as a blog post.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, get one! Start publishing your videos with links in the description back to the related content on  your blog. Record a quick Facebook live video and share a link in the post back to your blog as well.

Keep the videos for social media short. People won’t pause their scrolling to watch for more than a few minutes of a video. However, if you have informative content on a topic people are interested in, they will commit for longer on YouTube or embedded in a blog post.

Spend More Time Promoting

I read recently that you should spend as much time, or more promoting your post as you spent writing it. So when you have a new post, or a newly updated post make sure you tell people with social shares and links in your newsletter. But don’t stop there! Look for ways to expand your reach. Contact organizations who might be willing to publish your content on their site. I don’t mean sending thousands of spammy requests, but a few well written offers might just do the trick.

So, are you ready to take on the task of blogging in 2019? Grab a copy of our blog guide before you go!

Voice search: future of eCommerce for 2019

Want to know what the future of eCommerce will look like? How about what it will sound like with voice search.

Right now, we can command Siri to do mundane tasks. We tell Alexa to re-order our most use household goods on Amazon. We ask Google to help us navigate to the nearest retail store. Soon we’ll be asking them for recommendations on best products to buy.

Voice search isn’t just a fad

Check these statistics to consider it’s growing relevance.

andres-urena-470137-unsplash

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

“Voice searches are replacing traditional searches,” explained Brian Dean of Backlinko, who has researched thousands of voice search queries. “…a good chunk of all searches are becoming voice searches on mobile phones and—important for B2B—desktops.”

So, how do you harness voice search technology?

Most answers from voice assistants – such as Amazon’s Echo (controlled by Alexa), Cortana, Google Home, Google Assistant and Siri – are extracted from search engines. While Alexa and Cortana use Bing results, Google products and Siri pull from Google search.

That means answers for voice queries will depend on best SEO practices. It’s not a whole new method of doing search, but an extension of it.

The best way to compete against big retail or tech titans is to provide some level of customer service online. Answering questions is one of the most important aspects of customer service.

Good news is that Google has become an answer engine and strives to answer questions in the search results. It does that in two ways

1. Featured Snippets
2. Direct Answers

Featured Snippets are the boxes that appear at the top of some Google search result pages, providing a brief answer that, brands and authors hope, lead users to click for more details. For the most part, Bing’s Featured Snippets mirror Google’s.

googlepixel-search

40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet, according to Backlinko.

Featured snippets can take a number of forms, but they usually include the page’s title and URL with some combination of:

  • A paragraph
  • A list
  • A table
  • A chart or graph
  • An image

The same Backlinko study explains that other factors should also be considered when trying to rank for voice search, such as:

  • Page speed
  • HTTPS – show your site is secure
  • Concise answers and explanations – typically 29 words in length, no more
  • Domain authority – get high-quality backlinks
  • Social engagement – the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 tweets
  • Easy to read – written in 9th-grade level, using natural language and way of talking

Google also provides a collection of answers in a fold-out / drop-down container called Google Answer Boxes. They’re meant to provide quick and easy answers to questions by featuring a snippet of information from one of the pieces of content on page one (not necessarily the content ranking #1) in a box at the very top.

Because the answer box is featured above all other results, the chances your link will be clicked on is much higher if you appear in an answer box versus anywhere else on page 1.

yeezys-search
Notice that neither featured snippets nor direct answers in the examples above feature Amazon. In fact, the query “are yeezys true to size” doesn’t have a single retailer organically appear on Google’s first page. They’re sponsored content. But people ask these question – usually when they consider buying the product.

Amazon is fantastic at collecting the most asked questions (and answers) about a product on its product pages. But they don’t appear as Featured Snippets or Direct Answers on Google search.

This is an incredible opportunity for retailers and eCommerce operators to efficiently rank in Featured Snippets and Google Answer Boxes. Answer FAQs and feature them in your product pages or create a separate FAQ page, optimized for Google (and Bing) ranking.

Amazon-customerFAQ

Amazon vs Google result about Instant Pot

instantpotFAQ

Direct Answers from Amazon don’t appear on Google’s 1st page of search results

Don’t forget local search

If your business caters to local markets, optimize your content for voice search to get in front of shoppers (especially mobile users) searching for products or stores in their city or town.

To capitalize on this opportunity, target long-tail keywords and create content to answer localized search queries such as:

“Where can I find ____ in   city  ?”
“Nearest ____ store that sells ____ in   town ?”
“Closest store with   product in   city ?”
“Where can I buy   product  near me?”

Make sure to indicate your city, state and zip code in your About Us, FAQs and even product pages.flipflops-NearMe

If Locations Services feature is off, Google will request permission to locate you and provide with better local results according to your IP address (desktop) or GPS coordinates (mobile).

patio-locations-chatbot This patio furniture retailer with features a chatbot that auto-suggests their multiple locations.

  • Voice search isn’t just a fad or shiny new technology. It’s becoming part of consumers’ daily lives and it’s transforming how people use search engines and smart devices.
  • Think like a customer support agent. What kind of questions do shoppers and regular customers typically ask about your competitors’ and your own products and services?
  • Optimize your web content to provide answers to common questions in bite-sized digestible snippets will improve your chances of being featured in a snippet.

 

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