IRS Piloting Program for Virtual Appeals

 

IRS Virtual Appeals Service Being Piloted

As part of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights posted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), taxpayers, including small businesses, have the ability to appeal and resolve any disagreement you might have with the IRS. To simplify the appeals process, the agency just announced a new web-based virtual conference option you can use from anywhere.

One of the difficulties for small businesses (or for anyone filing for an appeal) is the limited number of IRS offices with appeals officers. Even though you can meet over the phone with an appeals officer, many people like face-to-face interactions.

IRS Virtual Appeals Service

If there is not an appeals officer in your location, you either have to settle for a phone meeting or travel to another city. As part of a pilot program, the web-based virtual conference platform will launch on Aug. 1, 2017. After the pilot, the IRS will evaluate the outcome, which will include customer satisfaction with the technology before implementation.

For businesses and individuals looking to appeal an IRS decision, the technology will save time and money. All you need is an internet connection and you can initiate a web-based virtual conference. This is especially useful for taxpayers in remote locations or places where appeal officers are not available.

According to the IRS, there are more than 100,000 appeals being filed each year. So what is an appeal?

The appeals office is separate from departments investigating or auditing tax returns. An impartial officer settles the dispute on matters such as disallowing a deduction. You can have an attorney or CPA represent you, or you can do it yourself.

If it all works out according to plan, IRS Chief of Appeals Donna Hansberry, said, “In the future, the technology may give taxpayers greater options in engaging with Appeals and could allow us the flexibility to serve taxpayers virtually from any location using mobile devices or computers.”

IRS Building Photo via Shutterstock

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GoDaddy Launches Premium WordPress Support for Small Business Sites and Administrators

GoDaddy WordPress Premium Support Now Available for Small Business Site Owners and Administrators

Internet domain registrar and web hosting company GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE:GDDY) is introducing WordPress Premium Support. The new customer support option gives small businesses and individuals the ability to contact one of over 40 on-call WordPress developers and GoDaddy’s best-in-class customer support team. This formidable pool of resources is available anytime site owners need help managing and optimizing their websites.

According to the Scottsdale, Arizona-based web hosting service provider, the new support offering will help small business site administrators and managers too. The goal is to help small business owners maintain high-quality WordPress websites and boost their online presence more easily and effectively than ever before.

GoDaddy WordPress Premium Support to Boost Small Business Online Presence

One of the more critical things small businesses need today is to bolster their online presence. Not only will this increase your brand’s reputation, but also establish you as an authority in your industry and help to attract more customers.  GoDaddy says its new support offering, dubbed WP Premium Support, sets itself apart by providing “unparalleled support and a new level of access to WordPress expertise.”

This premium offering will reportedly help small businesses fix, update and optimize their WordPress sites more quickly and conveniently than ever before. WP Premium Support promises to give customers round-the-clock access to a large team of on-call WordPress developers to provide expert guidance on resolving website issues and boosting performance at the drop of a hat.

“Small businesses have better things to do than spending their time figuring out how to troubleshoot and implement WordPress fixes on their own,” said Alex McClafferty, Director of Product and founder of WP Curve, which was acquired by GoDaddy in 2016. “Whether it’s a plugin that stops working or a theme that needs updating, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ additional support will need to be called in. With WP Premium Support, we’re providing peace of mind to small businesses whose WordPress websites can be kept up and running as they should be, with fixes expertly implemented, and fast.”

To sign up for WP Premium Support, contact the GoDaddy customer care center at 480-463-8824, or visit the WP Premium Support product description web page to find more information. Basic plans for this subscription-based service start from $79.99 per month moving up to $149.99 per month for the Ultimate plan, as per the information on the product page.

Image: WordPress

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Can Customers Find Your Company’s Phone Number? Here are the Places They’ll Look (INFOGRAPHIC)

Best Places to List Your Business Phone Number

Want to make it easier for customers to connect with you?

Make sure you update your phone number in online directories. It turns out these are found to be the most popular means to obtain contact numbers.

That’s according to new research by National Cellular Directory, a Minneapolis-based information commerce search engine.

Data compiled by the company determines online directories are the most reliable at helping users fine contact numbers at about 84 percent.

Traditional Phone Directories are Not Very Useful

The report also revealed the diminishing relevance of traditional phone directories (usually in booklet form) since they contain only landline numbers. These directories are therefore “becoming less and less valuable” Brent Christensen, president and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance told USA Today.

Moreover, only 9 percent of Americans answer their landline, which further makes phone directories less attractive to users.

Stay Updated on Google and Social Media

With 95 percent of U.S. adults owning a cellphone today, Google and social media have become more popular for searching phone numbers.

Businesses should therefore update their phone numbers on their Google listings and social media pages.

Try Not to Change Your Phone Number Too Often

Most customers will save your number when they find it. That’s why it can be quite annoying for them to try your number again a couple of months later and find it doesn’t work anymore.

In certain cases, when you just have to change your number, make sure it is updated everywhere.

Best Places to List Your Business Phone Number

Curious to know more? Check out the infographic below:

Best Places to List Your Business Phone Number

Images: National Cellular Directory

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Reports on the Death of Microsoft Paint Have Been Exaggerated

Don't Listen to the Microsoft Paint Rumor

Good news for fans of MS Paint fans! Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced reports of the popular app’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Instead of killing off the popular tool, Microsot says it will be moved to the Windows Store — and offered for free.

Earlier reports that MS Paint might be laid to rest all together led to some elegant eulogies to the popular software on Twitter.

However, Microsoft quickly responded to the news in a tweet saying:

Don’t Listen to the Microsoft Paint Rumor

Microsoft’s General Manager Megan Saunders also reinforced the company’s position in a blog, saying: “Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app. Amidst today’s commentary around MS Paint we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, clear up some confusion and share some good news: MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free.”

It is, however, important to mention that part of what made Paint a powerful tool is that it came by default. It chose users and not the other way round.

Microsoft also said that the new app for creativity — Paint 3D — will now be available for free with the Windows 10 Creators Update. Small business owners who once relied on MS Paint for their design needs, will doubtless find enhanced fearures with Paint 3D. In addition to its 3D capabilities, the new app also features many of MS Paint’s features, including line and curve tools, photo editing, and 2D creation.

So while Paint is put out to pasture, small business users who praise its features might also want to give Paint 3D a try.

Image: Microsoft

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Starbucks’ Closing of Teavana Stores Could Be Small Business Opportunity

Starbucks' Closing of Teavana Stores Could Be Small Business Opportunity

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) just announced that it’s closing all of the storefronts for its Teavana brand. And that could mean new opportunities for small businesses to break into the market.

Closing of Teavana Stores Opens Opportunities

Starbucks decided to close the once popular tea stores due to slow sales. But there’s still a fairly sizable market out there for tea businesses. And there are also trendy offerings on the upswing right now like bubble tea and matcha that could provide great differentiation opportunities for small businesses.

So with Teavana, which was one of the more recognizable tea brands in the country, exiting the space, it could be the perfect time for small businesses to jump in. You could do this by researching tea franchise opportunities or just opening your own independent shop.

The brand’s departure will also be another blow to business at the mall where most of the 379 Teavana stores were located. Teavan’s exit from malls follows the departure by other key brands like JCPenney and GameStop.

But here again the loss of big brands at the mall could be small business’s gain.  According to a report from the National Retail Federation, smaller malls may fail but larger ones are here to stay. And the departure of some big chains could be the perfect opportunity for the right small retailers at the mall.

So do some homework on the niches and opportunities out there and find a way to deliver your product to consumers where they actually shop. Then maybe you can make a name for yourself in this market where there’s suddenly a huge business opportunity.

Teavana Photo via Shutterstock

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Does Your Small Business Really Need AI?

Does Your Small Business Really Need AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be intimidating to small businesses. In fact, a survey commissioned by Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) last year found 61 percent of small business owners felt they weren’t ready to adopt it. They felt AI was too complicated for what they needed.

Salesforce wants to change that perception with its AI platform, called Einstein.

Does a Small Business Really Need AI?

Small Business Trends spoke with Tony Rodoni, Executive Vice President for SMB sales at Salesforce, about AI and what it can do for small businesses.

The Big Brands Are Already Using It

Whether small businesses are ready or not, big brands are already using AI to stake out huge territory, says Rodoni.

“Apple’s Siri uses natural language processing to recognize voice commands. And companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify are using machine learning to understand how items in their catalogs relate to one another and their customer’s preferences,” he says.

AI Adoption by Small Businesses

Small businesses can do the same. But the pace of technology adoption by small businesses isn’t always fast.  Salesforce’s 2016 Connected Small Business Report notes only 21 percent of small businesses are using features like business intelligence software and analytics.

Rodoni explains what they’re missing by not adopting AI.

“AI has the potential to make every company and every employee smarter, faster, more operationally efficient and more productive,” he says.  “For small businesses with limited time and resources, the ability to work smarter and automate basic tasks can be a life-saver. That’s why we launched Einstein.”

In fact, small businesses that are early to adopt new technologies look bigger than they are. Rodoni has called this the blowfish effect.

The Benefits of AI

Maximizing resources and prioritizing time are just two of the benefits of artificial intelligence.

With AI, you can predict customer service issues before they happen. AI can help you identify the prospects that are most likely to buy your goods and services. Your marketing efforts become more personalized because you have more information about customer preferences to work with.

The benefits of AI include the ability to help your business:

  • Automate the send-time for your marketing emails to arrive when they will most likely be read.
  • Figure out which segments of your audience to target with the greatest expectation of return on investment.
  • Predict the amount of sales in your pipeline — even before the results come in.
  • Predict your most important sales leads.

Spending hours sorting through spreadsheets, hunting down leads or tweaking marketing campaigns manually can be things of the past.

It’s Good for Growth

Rodoni draws a connection between AI and success for startups.

“I believe that AI is a necessity to growth,” Rodoni says.  “Behind every deal, every order and every opportunity is a customer. AI marries human interaction and machine intelligence in a way that enables companies to better connect with their customers.”

Artificial intelligence works to scale, another win for the smaller shop.  Not only that, it leads you to the right customers and helps you to engage them. At the same time, it automates tasks across marketing, service and sales.

Choose Vendors That Incorporate AI into Products

Once small businesses have gotten over their initial apprehension, integrating AI into their businesses is easier than might be expected. You don’t have to master the technology underlying artificial intelligence. You just have to find the vendors that have mastered AI and incorporated it into their product offerings.

In Einstein’s case, it’s an add-on to the Salesforce platform.

“The beauty of Einstein is that it’s embedded directly into the Salesforce platform. Customers don’t need to do anything to start using it or seeing the benefits – it just works,” Rodoni says.

Image: Salesforce

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Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

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Quick Copy Tip

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter.

In fact, you might actually know too much about it.

It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details.

But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care.

What have you done for me lately?

To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it.

The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for the customer.

What transformation does your product or service empower? What does it allow the customer to become that she isn’t today?

Jimmy Choo high heels aren’t coveted because they’re comfortable or well-made. (Even though devotees believe they are.) Women buy them to feel confident and gorgeous.

Hybrid cars aren’t popular because they’re fuel-efficient, money-saving, or environmentally friendly. The real benefits are feeling virtuous and smart, with the warm, fuzzy glow that comes from believing you’re saving the world.

Your content and copy will never be truly relevant to your audience until you translate your features into customer-focused benefits.

The five-minute feature check

Quick, take a look through the last persuasive piece you wrote (blog post, sales page, podcast script) and take note of all of the features you talk about.

  • The process
  • Your qualifications
  • The patented mechanism
  • The policy
  • The dimensions
  • The speed
  • The materials

Copy and paste them all into a fresh document. Then, after each feature, add the words:

so you can …

The final results will be phrases like:

  • I have 10 years of experience helping clients exactly like you, so you can feel confident that together we can solve even your trickiest widget problems.
  • Our course is the most rigorous on the market, so you can leapfrog ahead of your competitors.
  • Our grape jam has 50% less sugar and no weird additives, so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

In about five minutes, you’ll uncover the weak spots in your persuasive content — the places where you were thinking about you and what you offer, and not about them and what they get out of it.

You might not use the words “so you can” over and over again in your final copy — but you will be writing with an understanding of your audience benefits.

Not all benefits are equal

The curse of knowledge can also lead you to focus too much on what some copywriters call fake benefits.

These are the benefits of your product or service that you think are important. And you might be absolutely right. They could be critical to delivering the results your audience wants.

The trouble is, the customer doesn’t particularly care.

These could be things like:

  • Stabilizing blood chemistry levels
  • Improving efficiency of project delivery and implementation
  • Mastering the ability to write a college entrance essay

But that doesn’t tell us what the buyer gets to have, do, be, feel, or become by moving forward with this purchase.

What those customers might actually want could be to:

  • Get slim without feeling hungry
  • Pull off a great project and look like a hero to their boss
  • Feel like brilliant parents because their teenager got into a great college

Features do matter

Features are the specific, convincing details that demonstrate why your solution is effective. As long as they’re tied directly to customer-focused benefits, your buyer will stay interested.

Here are some features that have been translated into benefits and presented as a set:

This nutritional program stabilizes your blood chemistry so you can finally lose weight … without getting hungry.

Our proven process makes you more efficient … and that makes you look like a hero when you deliver your next project in half the time and under budget.

This quick course teaches your teenager how to write a masterful college entrance essay … which could be the deciding factor in whether they get into their first-choice school.

Take another look at your five-minute benefit check. Any fake benefits in there?

Wants, not needs

You’ve got one more check to make before you call it good.

Are the benefits you’ve identified things your audience genuinely wants, or are they things you think they need?

Paying for things we need is boring. Spending money on things we want is a lot more fun. That’s why it’s easier to sell big-screen TVs than life insurance.

When you’re translating your features into benefits, make sure those benefits are driven by wants. Look for emotional drivers like pleasure, comfort, status, and self-image. You can also seek to put a stop to pain, either physical or emotional.

It’s not only hedonistic emotions that can drive behavior — values like patriotism, justice, and fairness can play powerful roles with the right audience. It’s still a pretty good idea, though, to pair them with a little self-interested hedonism if you can. Fair-trade coffee wouldn’t sell nearly as well if those arabica beans didn’t taste so good.

We like to think that logical drivers like efficiency, physical health, preventing future problems, and scientific evidence influence our decisions, but, they typically don’t have much impact. But those “rational” benefits are helpful when they’re used to justify an emotional decision that’s already been made.

The customer who already wants the beautiful high-heeled shoes tells herself that Jimmy Choos will last longer and feel better than a cheaper brand.

The customer who already wants to feel enlightened and virtuous tells himself that the fuel economy of the Prius clearly makes it a sensible choice.

Marketing vs. manipulation

There’s an important difference between putting your best foot forward and crossing the line into manipulation.

The key lies in making two promises:

  1. Don’t say things that aren’t true.
  2. Don’t omit significant things that are true.

The impression you create with your marketing needs to be realistic and truthful. If it isn’t, you’re a con artist and a creep — and your audience will rightly shun you when they figure that out.

If you liked this Quick Copy Tip, click here to read other posts in the series.

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These Sales Best Practices Will Help Your Company Reach Its Goals

These Sales Best Practices Will Help Your Company Reach Its Goals

An effective sales strategy should be a priority of every business driven by a culture of sales. Put bluntly, the right sales practices will help a company achieve its goals and thrive. The trick is knowing what the best sales practices are and then applying them to your day-to-day business operations.

Sales Best Practices

Fortunately help is at hand with the following 20 sales best practices that will help your company reach its goals.

Set Sales Targets High

Setting sales targets at easily reachable and attainable levels is not conducive with nurturing an ambitious sales environment. Set sales targets high and give sales teams all the encouragement and support needed to achieve them.

Carefully Plan Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly — Even Daily Schedule

Plan for the bigger picture. Planning daily sales schedules will give everyone involved a clear understanding about what is expected. However, schedules shouldn’t be confined to the day or even week ahead. Plan for the bigger picture by creating schedules for the forthcoming month or even quarter.

Start Every Call with an Objective in Mind

Ensure sales teams have an objective in mind when they begin every call. Knowing what you want to achieve when you make the call will put you in a much better position to accomplish your objective.

Be a Good Listener

Sales isn’t just about you doing the talking and your prospective customer doing the listening. When carrying out a sales pitch be sure to listen to the potential customer. Take stock of what they say and what their own objectives are. Then aim to funnel their objectives into the sale to help achieve your own targets and goals.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Challenging Questions

Instead of opting for feeble questions that don’t require customers to think, probe into the mind of the customer by asking testing questions. The top performing sales teams aren’t afraid to dig deep and make their prospective think.

Know When to Move On

The same rules apply to sales practices as they do with networking follow-ups. Be respectful of people’s time and ‘define and refine’ who is worth your time. Determine who is worth pitching too and know when it’s time to step away and move on.

Make Sure You Prioritize

Without sufficient prioritization, it is difficult to be productive and achieve sales targets and wider company goals. At the end of each day, sit down and prioritize the activities for the next day. This way, less time and effort is wasted on unimportant issues.

Regularly Evaluate Progress

Evaluations are a vital component of working environments driven by sales. Conducting regular evaluations of a sales force will mean sales managers and teams can recognize gaps and weaknesses and make the required improvements.

Clarify Issues with Customers

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential customer what they mean if you are unsure about an issue they have raised. Top performing sales people always ask for clarification so they can fully understand the prospects’ queries, concerns and objectives.

Adapt Sales Presentations If Necessary

You may have a sales presentation meticulously planned. Be prepared to make some changes or adaptations to the presentation if the prospect’s objectives or situation has changed.

Be Respectful and Mindful

A cornerstone of every successful business is respect and humility. Think about how your sales techniques will paint your company as a whole. Always show customers the respect and humility you would expect to receive.

Don’t Forget to HEAR

When involved in sales pitches, always remember the HEAR model. With HEAR, you practice Humility, Engagement, Authenticity and Responding whenever possible.

Be Prepared for Objections

Not all sales presentations and pitches run smoothly. Anticipate quips and objectives will rear their head and plan your response to such grievances well in advance.

Use Social Media to Learn More About Customers

Part of your sales preparation could be using social media to learn more about your customers. Take a look at what your customers and prospective customers like the most of Facebook. Check the most frequent hashtags they use on Twitter and which posts are getting the most engagement. Apply such findings to sales pitches to help reach out to customers more effectively and ultimately achieve sales goals.

Use Repeat Engagement

Returning customers are leading revenue generators. An essential sales practice for generating revenue and reaching business goals is to actively re-engage with existing customers. ‘Check-in’ with customers via email, telephone or other communication methods, to see how they are getting on with a service or product and if they require anything else.

Don’t Set Unachievable Goals

It might be essential to set high targets and goals, but making them unachievable will simply put sales teams off. Always set high but realistic goals, as unachievable targets can be more discouraging instead of encouraging.

Align Personal and Professional Goals

Don’t be afraid to align your personal and professional aims. The more personally involved with goals you are, the more likely it will be to achieve them and help the company reach its goals.

Always Focus on the Prospect

In a sales presentation or pitch, always put your focus on the potential client or customer. It can be easy to focus the pitch on the product or the service. A more effective sales practice is to funnel the sales pitch so it focuses on the prospect and how the product or service will benefit them. This way, the prospect is less likely to turn the product or service down.

Always Communicate with the Decision-Maker

Don’t waste time communicating or pitching to people who are not in a position to make decisions. Always strive to connect and sell to the decision-maker who is able to close the deal.

Read Sales Bibles

There’s a myriad of literature related to sales mastery available. Take advantage of such books and publications to help improve sales practices and reach your own business’s goals.

For example, reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource could be an invaluable investment of time to help sales teams improve their performance and meet individual, team and business goals.

Follow these 20 sales best practices and you’ll be in a superior position to create a thriving sales environment and achieve your business goals.

Reaching Goal Photo via Shutterstock

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23 Percent of Vacationers Research Products for their Trip on Social Media, Data Says

Social Media for the Travel Industry is a Must Have

If your business is in the travel industry or benefits in any way from it, you need a strong social media presence.

As we’re in peak vacation season, it may actually not be too late to reach vacationing families right now before the end of summer.

New data shows that vacationing consumers are likely going to check out social media about their destination. They’re going to do other travel-related research online, too.

According to data from the Global Web Index, nearly 1 in 4 people (23 percent) going on vacation use social media to research products to buy ahead of their trip. That figure goes up for vacationers with children. A family on vacation heads to social media to do pre-trip research 31 percent of the time.

A further dive into the numbers shows how these vacations are using social media to find what they want. And it also shows what they’re doing when they get online.

Social Media for the Travel Industry

Here’s how you can get your social media presence in shipshape to appeal to vacationers:

Set Up a Page

It sounds simple and in most cases, it is. Make yourself a checklist of things you’ll need to complete your profile and start posting things about your brand and the products you sell. According to the data, 27 percent of vacationing families visited a brand’s social media page in the last month.

And 25 percent of families going on vacation “Liked” or followed a brand they clearly connected with on social media.

Consider an Ad Campaign

If your business is new to social media, you may want to consult a professional or expert before launching a social media ad campaign. It could end up being a costly venture that nets insignificant results if you’re headed into uncharted waters.

But if you have a handle on something like a Facebook Ad campaign, vacationers aren’t avoiding this content either. The Global Web Index data showed that 18 percent of the nearly 1,000 vacationing families clicked on sponsored content they saw on social media.

Paddle Boat Rental Beusiness Photo via Shutterstock

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How 3 Factors Will Drive Your Approach to Business Intelligence

3 Modern Drivers of Business Intelligence

Findings from a recent study by Gartner showed that the number of organizations embracing business intelligence (BI) platforms continues to grow, but more focus is being placed on business-led, agile analytics and self-service features rather than IT-led system-of-record reporting.

Overall, Gartner predicts that the global BI and analytics market will reach $18.3 in value this year, an increase of 7.3 percent over last year, and the market will grow to $22.8 billion by the end of 2020.

“Purchasing decisions continue to be influenced heavily by business executives and users who want more agility and the option for small personal and departmental deployments to prove success,” said Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner. “Enterprise-friendly buying models have become more critical to successful deployments.”

Modern Drivers of Business Intelligence

Many factors are driving the evolving business intelligence market. These are three worth highlighting:

Behavioral Analytics

Companies are beginning to understand the value in dissecting the behavior impulses that drive consumers to and around your website. This includes how much time they spend on individual pages, the percentage of people that leave after seeing just one page, the number of specific pages they visited, what caused them to convert, and so on.

“A trail of digital breadcrumbs to see where people have come from and where they go as it pertains to your brand is the future of business intelligence,” says Dan Schoenbaum, CEO of Cooladata, a behavioral analytics and business intelligence platform.

Businesses now more than ever are craving the tools to analyze diverse, often broad and complex, combinations of data sources. “We are able to integrate datasets from Facebook, social media, email campaigns, web traffic, mobile applications, online ad exposure, and third party applications such as Hubspot, Optimizely, Salesforce and many more — into a single, complete picture for companies. This allows them to truly see the success of behavioral analytics because they are capable of analyzing an entire customer journey, not just clicks on a website,” says Schoenbaum.

Cloud Deployments

Previous generations of business intelligence tools assisted with the cognitive awareness of clicks and page loads on the web and mobile arenas, but required a sprawling architecture that included brick-and-mortar data warehouses and separate visualization tools. This created a complicated workflow and failed to provide a full and efficient analysis of business analytics.

In fact, data warehouses still have a complicated integration process, requiring knowledge of SQL and a development team. Not to mention the separate products to build out the warehouse are a huge expense, Mixpanel for funnel analysis, Amazon Redshift data system, and Tableau for dashboarding and BI.

However, “Cloud deployments of BI and analytics platforms have the potential to reduce cost of ownership and speed time to deployment,” according to Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner. As digital marketing and sales become more integrated and advanced, the need for a transparent, central view of data will only continue to increase.

From a geographical standpoint, a BI 2016 industry market research shows the market for business intelligence spreading across regions from North America, Europe, Middle East, Latin America to Asia. This demonstrates that in the next few years, there’s no doubt that BI solutions will be in high demand, including the flexible and economic benefits that businesses can enjoy from cloud-based solutions.

Smart Data

For years, big data has allowed enterprises access to massive volumes of data. But as we are learning, big data is bulky, and our ability to analyze it for quick, precise decisions declines the more data we gather. An emerging solution to this is “Smart Data,” which has the potential to solve these problems and help firms adapt faster to developments, especially in industries like e-commerce.

“Businesses are starting to understand the value of the data, but they still aren’t fully leveraging it,” says Schoenbaum. “It is exciting to unlock that potential for companies all over the world. Companies need to go from collecting data to applying smart, real-time analysis. It’s what I like to call ‘Smart Data.’ Old data is less useful, but analyzing trends as they happen will provide the best value and help companies be more successful.”

Businesses that leverage innovations in the Smart Data field will ensure a competitive leg-up and their customers will gain trust as they see the brand evolving to predictive, behavioral-driven decisions based on the analysis of previous interaction.

Analysis Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How 3 Factors Will Drive Your Approach to Business Intelligence” was first published on Small Business Trends

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