3 Things To Consider Before Buying Online

Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated with each passing day leading to advances that optimize the way people communicate, interact, work and purchase goods. However, people’s ingenuity focused on finding new ways to take advantage of this technology in combination with their trusting nature has resulted in new realities. Some examples include recent breaches to business and political institutions using such methods as phishing scams and social engineering deceptions. Hackers (opportunistic hijackers of information) use various channels to reach their victims ranging from telephone, email, websites and even snail mail. This article will look a little deeper into how you can avoid being victimized by malicious activities perpetrated by hackers. Below are 3 things to consider before buying online.

1) Security

Security is paramount in safe guarding your financial profile but also your most intimate information. Before purchasing online it is important, and sometimes crucial, to avoid trivializing the security measures taken by websites. For instance, does a third-party certificate vendor secure the website? Do they use such certificates as Extended Validation certificates offered by all major web security vendors such as Verisign/Norton Secured and Thawte to validate the authenticity and credibility of a business? Looking at the address bar and confirming there is a green security symbol next to the URL and that it begins with “https://” helps confirm a site’s security. You may also want to confirm the website is PCI compliant, an accreditation set by major credit card vendors to confirm that the website manages credit card information in a safe and secure manner.

2) Credibility Confirmation

Confirming an entity’s credibility is another important factor to consider. There are many online sites that are created for the sole purpose of gathering end user information such as emails, passwords, secret security questions and answers in an effort to exploit and use this information to gain access to even more personal and private information. One way to verify an online company’s credibility is to validate that they have a historical presences eliminating the notion that they could be a fly-by-night operation. One resource that you may access and that could provide you with a confidence rating would be to check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). They can be helpful in obtaining information regarding the company behind the website along with their respective ratings. You can also do a simple search regarding any reviews for that same company and confirming that a third-party vendor has labeled the company as a trusted entity, such as “Google Trusted Stores”. Some of these third party seals also provide additional consumer protection against possible fraud.

3) Price Transparency

This subject is simple to write about. Consumers expect clear and unambiguous sales policies. That means that the product sold on a website needs to be priced clearly and that any additional fees be outlined in a clear manner. This is of greatest importance to the inexperienced shopper who presumes that he/she is dealing in transparency while surprises are lurking ahead. Deceptive merchants are at times very obvious with their tactics and on other occasions can be quite covert about it. Some of the tactics may include hidden fees described as processing fees, insurance and handling or variations of these. The simple result is that the consumer can be subject to a substantial increase in their item cost. In fact, the order total may increase by as much as ten to fifteen percent. Thankfully there is one simple way to avoid these disingenuous tactics. Go back to simple addition and confirm that the total value of the items ordered adds up. Once you do that you will immediately highlight any discrepancy related to potential additional fees that the vendor might be trying to tack on. This less than transparent sales strategy is a popular deceptive means used to fool the consumer into purchasing from a vendor that advertises low prices upfront to attract the consumer after which they can charge them hidden and/or processing fees on the back-end during checkout. It is important to identify the vendors that practice price manipulation tactics because once all of the hidden and/or processing fees are added to the order the savings that the consumer was hoping to realize could be significantly diminished or even completely eliminated.

Although the Internet offers many benefits ranging from open competition, shopping from home, orders conveniently delivered to your door, it is necessary to remain vigilant in an effort to safeguard your private information while enjoying your shopping experience. By following the suggestions above you can greatly diminish the risk of these threats from occurring and avoid less than transparent pricing schemes from deceptive vendors.

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Benefits of Custom Boxes for an Online Retailer’s Image

Online century

The days when you could count the brands that were doing business online are gone for good. Now it seems suspicious if a name is not involved in this field mainly because it looks like not respecting the customer’s desire and need to have easy access to any service or good the brand could offer.

Taking into consideration this aspect, you could easily figure that nowadays brands are fighting for the customers’ attention especially in the online zone where the wanted target is bombed with catchy information and excellent personalized deals. This is a critical step in gaining a customer, but it is just the first one, what comes after it being the maintenance of customer’s loyalty which a brand can obtain only by building a unique relationship with its customer and making the experience of buying, something he wants to repeat. One way through which the brand could do that is paying attention to the details, one of those being the way the package is shipped and this is not referring to the mailman’s amiability, but to the packaging appearance. Sending a package in the plain brown box does not say about the brand that it wants to build a connection with the customer, but only that it considered the customer not important enough to be offered some little more effort.

Getting closer to the brand through custom boxes

Let’s say, for example, that your favorite online store is always shipping your orders in custom boxes in your favorite colors with some quotes written on them that tell something about you beliefs and personality. Maybe you would want to keep the box, and every time you see it, it will remind you of that brand. Furthermore, people have the tendency to appreciate the nice gestures, the fact that will make you think twice when to choose another brand or not.

Brand identity in the customer’s mind

Another aspect concerning the benefits of the nice custom boxes, besides the appearance one, is to boost the brand identity. As already mentioned, if the custom boxes are personalized and the customer likes them and eventually keeps them, there are plenty of chances to be in contact with the brand’s visual identity elements such as logo and slogan more often that usually. So, next time when he will see those elements on the street he will remember what brand has them and this way that brand is obtaining one more second of the customer’s attention comparing to other brands in the same market.

A new shopping experience

After all, probably the most important impact that packaging in custom boxes has is the exceptional shopping experience. Firstly, the customer feels important for the brand which spent time and money to think about how he would want his custom boxes to look like and what are the colors and messages that he identifies with. Secondly, there is that personal feeling of opening a box specially made for you that can remind you of the exciting days of waiting for Santa Claus and opening up the gifts that were exactly what you asked for.

It might look a tiny detail and also a waste of resources to invest a brand’s efforts into something so small as the custom boxes, but the effect is unexpectedly well felt by the customer.

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5 Tasks Your Online Home Business Can Do On Autopilot

When you run an online home business time and money are limited. So you ensure that you can devote as much time as possible to tasks that generate income. The most successful online businesses use automation in some form or another. You just can’t keep up with everything if you try and handle them manually. Here are 5 ways you can automate tasks for your online home business.

1. Blog Post Publishing

To rank well in the search engines and stay relevant you need to post new and high quality content onto your website a regular basis. The best way to do this is to set up a blog. When you have a blog post ready to publish, you don’t want to have to log into your website and carry out this task manually. All of the top blogging platforms, like WordPress, have built-in scheduling capabilities. This means you can write several posts at once, and schedule them for specific publishing dates in the future.

2. List-Building

One of the most important tasks for your online home business is developing a list of email subscribers. Whenever someone visits your website, offer them a free resource or product in return for their email address. Your autoresponder software can then send them your freebie on autopilot. You can literally schedule a year’s worth of email delivery ahead of time. This improves the relationship you have with your audience.

3. Social Media

Social media allows you reach out and connect with your target audience. The online world has become very social and your customers are using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Your online home business needs to be on social media too, but it takes a lot of time to log-in to all the social media sites every day. There are plenty of social media automation tools which can schedule your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram posts.

4. Comment Moderation

Your website content can become a magnet for internet trolls and spam. Akismet software saves you time by filtering incoming comments that are nothing more than click-bait, trash and self-serving backlinks.

5. Website Research

Google Alerts will send you a notification every time a relevant search term or topic appears somewhere on the web. For example, if your online home business is about childcare, you can set up a Google alert for “child car-seat guidelines”. Ensure your search terms are included in quotes or you could be bogged down with the amount of notifications you receive.

Even though the internet is competitive, it allows average people like you and me to use it in the same way as big businesses do. A potential customer can only look at one website at a time and, if you have the right elements in place, that website can easily be about your business.

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What to Look for in an Exhibition Design Company

If you’re attending a trade event, you may want to enlist the help of an exhibition contractor to help with the design and build of your stand. Not only will this make your stall stand out from other competing companies, but hiring a professional will also take the hard work out of planning the event.

As you will already know, your business reputation – particularly if it’s just being established – is of paramount importance. For this reason, you’ll want your company to be represented by only the most professional marketing experts in the country.

The last thing you want is to end up with an unreliable team who don’t turn up on time, or fail to deliver your project in time. This can make the whole experience feel stressful and difficult, rather than the positive, successful promotion of your business that it should be.

Plus, as a busy entrepreneur or business manager, you won’t have time to waste. You need a team who will grasp your marketing strategy with both hands, taking care of everything from the design of your exhibition stand, down to the set up and breakdown of your materials on the day.

The best place to start looking for exhibition contractors is online. Here, you will be able to assess the credentials of a few different companies and weigh up your options. You will probably need to contact the team directly in order to obtain a quote, but this should be free and with no obligation to proceed.

Once you have received a few quotes, be sure to spend some time on the interne browsing the different services on offer. Ideally, you want to find a company who offers a full marketing service – from the conception of an idea, down to its execution at your trade event.

Firstly, you’ll need to find a company that offers a design service, as well as in-house build and fabrication. This should be undertaken by professional carpenters and installation engineers. You’ll also need to make sure that the best production techniques and materials are being used in the building of your stand.

Custom exhibition stands should be manufactured individually and to the highest standards. Look out for a portfolio of the company’s previous projects to get a more accurate picture of what they can offer.

In terms of the design of your stall or booth, an up-to-date marketing company should be able to offer you 3D visualisation of the finished article during the initial stage of the project.

This way, you’ll be able to see exactly how it will look when it’s finished, enabling you to make any changes necessary. The next stage of the operation should only begin once you have clarified you are happy with the design.

As well as professional design and build services, your chosen exhibitions company should also offer you a full project management service. This means you should be assigned a dedicated project manager who can help grow your marketing campaign from the ground up.

This project manager will oversee your project at every stage, ensuring a meticulous attention to detail is paid every step of the way. They will also make sure that the project is being completed in adherence to your time limitations and budget, so this is an incredibly important part of the service.

As well as offering all of the above, the best companies will also offer assistance with the logistics and storage of your event. This means that they will use professional delivery vehicles and staff to transport your marketing materials to the event, whilst also ensuring it is stored safely for future shows.

CEI Exhibitions is an award-winning UK exhibition stand builder. A well-established leader in award-winning exhibitions, CEI has over 15 years of industry experience. The company provides their customers with unique, custom-built designs and modular stands, with a wealth of experience and innovation behind them. Their skilled and dedicated team consists of expert designers, carpenters, technicians and project managers, providing clients with the whole package. CEI have established a firm reputation for saving their clients both time and money, whilst looking after their resources and ensuring them a successful exhibition.

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A Great Solution to Your Network Marketing Problems

Everyone has network marketing problems and is looking for a great solution. I’m sure you are the same.

There are a lot of problems but the biggest one I have seen is the inability to recruit people onto their teams. There are plenty of reasons that people may not join your team or want to work with you but if you are building your team online, it is most likely because people don’t feel they know, like or trust you.

Here are three things you can do so that people can develop that know, like and trust online.

Set Up Your Social In an Appealing Way

If I go to your social media, what am I going to find? Is there a photo of your dog as your profile picture? Maybe you have a photo of your product or your company logo. None of these things makes me say, oh wow! I really like Joe and I would like to look into doing business with him.

Get a nice photo of yourself at your profile picture before you do anything else. It does not have to be fancy but you want to look welcoming and friendly.

Do Video

Video is one of the fastest ways to let people “into your world.” Since most of communication is nonverbal, people will learn more about you in a short video than they will in a quick glance over your profile.

Start a Blog

Blogging allows people to get to know what you believe and if they agree with you, you will begin to develop the like factor. If you are teaching them something and it helps them then you are developing the trust factor.

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Top Financing Options for A Start Up Business

Business needs financial support as well as planning. If a business gets proper planning along with appropriate financial support to implement the plans in real life then there will be a great chance that the business will get the success. Businessmen know that it’s hard to arrange financial support for a business. There have many reasons for that, people don’t want to believe in a business which is just placing its first step in the market. But still there have many ways and by using them, a businessman can collect financial support.

Small Business Start-up Loans
Small business start up loans are the great options for start up trade owners. It offers a great opportunity for those who are seeking financial support for their small trade. Basically, a wide range of small business loan startup loans are available in the market but among them, SBA loans are the most famous option. A businessman can use the SBA fund for various purposes such as inventory purchase, rent a business place or pay to the employees. So, you can easily use them for many sectors in your business.

Getting commercial loans are nowadays not a hard task if you have all necessary things. You can easily get an SBA lender in your locality. Besides this, nowadays many online lending institutes are available and you can contact them through the internet.

Credit Cards
If you are not getting commercial loans then you can turn yourself into a credit card. This process is not uncommon for startups. Many traditional lending institutes such as banks offer credit card designed especially for small business which is far better than a personal credit card. A debtor should keep in mind that using a credit card loan is very expensive based on the rate of interest but if you are out of options and you need fund then it is also a great option for you. But before accepting the credit card loan make it sure that you have learned all the terms and conditions and then you should sign on it.

Family and Friends
The very first rule of a business doesn’t mix business with pleasure. If you have the option to debt money from a family member or a dear friend then why you will search outside investor. The benefit to family and friends is that you don’t need to search for commercial loans. Having commitments from friends and family also can help you establish credibility when you’re looking outside investors. If your nearest and dearest don’t believe in your idea, why should other investors? Very often, friends and family is a good source of funding. Besides all of this, if you have decided to collect your required fund from a group the make it sure that everything is written.

Your own savings can help you to come out from business financial needs. This option offers you freedom and control in the business. But it is also important to understand that you are giving your backbone to your business. It is also a very challenging work to determine what percentage of your personal savings to use. You may want to keep part of your savings account reserved to help you cover the first several months of expenses should revenue not pour in immediately. You need to understand that this option is a very challenging option because you are investing your financial support to your business. It is advisable to review your options with an expert before proceeding.

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Make Your Ecommerce Business Wildly Successful

The ecommerce industry is poised for significant growth in the near future. But, you can only expect to see results if you approach it the right way. The very first step is to develop an ecommerce website with all the relevant features that you would require for your business, for customer interactions and marketing campaigns.

If you are ready to launch your ecommerce business and see it grow into a successful online venture, here are a few tips for you to consider:

Don’t rush the launch

This is one of the biggest pitfalls. Forcing or rushing a launch could be your worst mistake. It’s OK to register a domain name, and put up a ‘coming soon’ page, but the real launch should be planned more carefully. Make sure that you launch only when you have some substantial groundwork done such as search engine optimization, content marketing plan, social media and paid advertisements etc.

Place your focus on the user

Right from the development phases of the website, make sure that the focus in on the user experience. Add every feature that will make it convenient for shoppers to buy from you. Keep the pricing, shipping policy and the return policies transparent. Also, ensure that the check out process is simplified.

Test absolutely everything

Prior to the actual launch, make sure that you test absolutely everything. Invest time and money in testing. It will definitely be worth it in the long term. For a moment think like a customer and figure out what they want and what’s not working.

Work closely with social

Social media is the heartbeat of an ecommerce business. It is extremely important that you include social media features on your ecommerce website so that customers can easily share their recent purchases with their friend and family. Maintain separate social media pages and ensure that you keep it ‘live’ with interactions.

Go mobile

If you aren’t thinking of a mobile strategy for your business, you may soon see the negative impact it has on your customers and your brand as a whole. When all your potential customers are mobile, make sure that you are not missing out on your probable sales by not having a mobile compatible website or a mobile app for your business.

Stay on top of SEO

As more and more ecommerce businesses are launched the competition gets fiercer. It is important to have a clear search engine optimization strategy in place so that you stay at the forefront always. It is important for long term success.

Continue evolving

Finally, it is important to note that you cannot simply launch your website and then step away. You will need to stay on top of things and understand the latest trends and implement them to your advantage.

Ecommerce businesses require a lot of planning and work before they are launched. Make sure that you take into consideration all the above factors and do not rush the launch of your ecommerce site.

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Ideas for Your Custom Designed Exhibition Stand

If you’re operating a new business, no doubt you’ll have considered appearing at a trade show or exhibition to advertise your products and services. This can be a great way to increase your brand’s visibility and build a customer base, so is definitely worth the effort it may involve.

However, with this being your prime opportunity to make an impression, the pressure is on to make sure you stand out from your competitors. The other companies in attendance are likely to be offering similar services – so unless you market your company in a unique way, you’re in danger of getting lost in the crowd.

One way to make sure your stand turns heads is by having it custom designed. Not only will this reflect the uniqueness of your selling point, it will also likely have a far more professional look than others at the show. This way, your customers will know that you mean business – right from the off.

If you have design and build skills, you may be able to create one yourself. But if you’re involved in the day-to-day running of a business, chances are you won’t have the time to put into such a project. This is where hiring an exhibition marketing team can give you the edge you need to stand out.

You’ll want to find a marketing team who specialise in exhibition design and build services. This way, not only will they have the creative and construction skills to make your ideas into a reality, but they will also be able to help you execute your entire marketing campaign from start to finish.

Enlisting the help of a company like this will take the hard work and labour out of the project that you probably can’t commit to. All you need to do is come up with the initial idea and your team will get to work, building a stand to meet both your budget and time constraints.

If you have established your brand, then you probably already have some ideas about how you will market yourself at this event. If you’re a cupcake business, for example, you may be offering free samples of your products.

What a professional marketing team can help with is how to take this idea to the next level. If there are three other cupcake businesses at the event and they are all offering free cake samples, what’s to set you apart from them?

Plus, if a customer has visited one cupcake stall, are they really going to visit another? They are more likely to move on to something new.

So, what if you decided to make your company stand out from the others by offering a cupcake decorating service? Part of your stall could display plain cupcakes with a range of icings and decorative toppings to choose from.

You could also give out goody bags, present an interactive screen displaying your website and most up-to-date photographs, and have a bright, catchy slogan to garner the attention of each and every customer.

Offering something intriguing and unique is more likely to stop those customers wandering over to the cupcake stall across the room. This way, your new customers will have experienced something memorable whilst taking away a souvenir to remind them of your brand.

It may be a specific example, but it does demonstrate ‘outside the box’ thinking – the kind of thinking that will attract your target audience. With business being so competitive these days, you have to go the extra mile in order to make any kind of impression on the consumer.

But these are still just ideas. A marketing company can help turn this into a reality – putting in the ground work while you continue to communicate with your clients and run your business.

Why not search online for a company in your local area that can help get you ready for your exhibition?

CEI Exhibitions is an award-winning UK exhibition stand builder. A well-established leader in award-winning exhibitions, CEI has over 15 years of industry experience. The company provides their customers with unique, custom-built designs and modular stands, with a wealth of experience and innovation behind them. CEI have established a firm reputation for saving their clients both time and money, whilst looking after their resources and ensuring them a successful exhibition.

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The 4 Most Important Tools You Will Need For Internet Marketing Success

Regardless of what profession you examine, every professional has his or her set of tools which allows them to perform their job effectively. In the world of internet marketing, it is no different. In this article, I am going to reveal to you the top 4 tools you need if you want to succeed in your online business.

Your Online Residence

When you operate a traditional brick-and-mortar business, your physical location is everything. It is obviously where your sales are generated. You are going to advertise this physical address in as many places as you can think of.

When you are operating an online business, it really isn’t any different. However, in the online world, your number one tool is your website. Without a website, you might as well give up before you even get started. You are simply not going to succeed.

You need to have a website with your own domain name. A domain name is your online address, such as yourwebsite.com. The good news is that you can buy a domain name at a very affordable price.

After you have your domain name, you are going to need the services of a hosting company so that your website can be live online. I personally recommend that you choose a blog as your main website. Blogs are very dynamic websites which allow you to quickly add fresh content.

The Automation Tool

The second tool you are going to need is an autoresponder. An autoresponder is a software tool that allows you to capture leads and follow-up with your leads in an automated manner. You create your series of e-mails in whatever sequence you choose, and when people enter their name and e-mail the system will automatically start sending the e-mails you created.

If you have written valuable and informative e-mails, your system will automatically build credibility with your prospects, culminating with the sales you seek. Just make sure that you place the opt-in box in a prominent place of your website for maximum results.

The Art Of Tracking

The third vital tool you need is link tracking software. This software allows you to create unique tracking links for all of your marketing efforts. So, say you paid to have a banner displayed on someone’s site, by creating a unique link for that banner you will be able to determine how much traffic and sales that banner generates for you.

This tool is really valuable because it is imperative that you identify the marketing strategies that are working and those that are not. This will allow you to refine your marketing approach, becoming more effective in your marketing efforts.

Don’t Miss Out On Sales

The fourth and last tool you need to succeed in your internet business is link cloaking software. Link cloaking software is used when you are promoting affiliate products. Affiliate products are products which somebody else owns that you can promote.

When you generate a sale, the product owner pays you a percentage of the sale. He or she is going to give you a unique affiliate link. For example, if the product website is ProductWebsite.Net, your affiliate link would look something like this: ProductWebsite.Net/AffiliateID=XXXX.

The problem with that link is that, before people buy the product, they are able to cut off the last portion of that link, preventing you from getting credit for the sale.

Once you install the link cloaking software on your site, you are able to hide the affiliate link. For example, the same example I gave you above of ProductWebsite.Net/AffiliateID=xxxx now becomes YourWebsite.Com/AnyNameYouChoose. This way, no one is able to prevent you from collecting your well deserved commissions.

In Conclusion

As you can see, these tools are a must for any serious internet marketer. Without these tools you are going to be facing an uphill battle in your internet marketing career. Ensure that you possess all 4 and your internet business will thrive.

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Tips To Hire The Best Digital Media Agency

All businesses operate mainly on the core objective to attract buyers and make maximum profits. In the present scenario, when there is a technological advantage to reach out to a large number of target audience, companies need to give significance to digital marketing if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. Digital marketing works on brand building and development using the digital media platforms. These platforms have proven to be efficient in attracting audiences and converting them into potential buyers.

A digital marketing agency offers a mix of services such as content production, SEO and Social Media strategies and email and mobile marketing tactics. The demand for digital marketers has led to the formation of several digital media agencies, and so the task of finding the “Right” agency becomes a Herculean task, or you would think so!

Each agency has its own features and unique approaches to building an online reputation for brands, but here are a few tips you need to go through so that you can find your right fit –

Understand the agency skills – To know whether a particular digital firm has the skills to help you fulfil your objectives, you need to be clear about your expectations. The primary goal of a business is to make profits, but certain other aspects should be considered to reach that goal. For instance, who are your audience, how do they interact with your brand, to what extent do they use digital platforms, etc. Answering these questions will let you know the right skills to look for in a digital media agency.

Check out their online presence – This is a very important tip since it will let you know how good they are in building an online presence. Their website, frequency of posts and content quality will talk a lot about their proficiency as a digital media outfit.

Become their best friend – You need to know the organization inside out. Some of the things you need to ask them are – who handles each area of work, experience of the firm, how they work, do they outsource, what kind of projects they have handled, their expertise, etc. The best way to know them well is by meeting them directly for an open conversation. Being able to interact comfortably is a clear sign that you have found the right company.

Penalty prevention tactic – Constant changes keep happening in digital media which leads to search engines penalising websites. Penalties affect small businesses and can cause online stores to pay a huge price. To ensure that an online brand is protected media agencies need to have a process to prevent the penalties. Only expert professionals can devise short-term and long-term strategies to make sure that the client is not penalised when working with them.

Digital media agencies are a great option to help your brand build a strong online presence. The tips mentioned above will help you in filtering out the inefficient and unsuitable options. Choosing the right company can help you save lots of time and money.

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