19 May 2017

What Is VoIP and What Is It Good For?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony, Internet Telephony and Internet Calling. It is an alternative way of making phone calls that can be very cheap or completely free. The ‘phone’ part is not always present anymore, as you can communicate without a telephone set. VoIP has been named the most successful technology of the last decade.

VoIP has a lot of advantages over the traditional phone system.

The main reason for which people are so massively turning to VoIP technology is the cost. In businesses, VoIP is a way to cut down communication cost, add more features to communication and interaction between employees and with customers so that to render the system more efficient and of better quality. For individuals, VoIP is not only the things that have revolutionized voice calling worldwide, but it is also a means to have fun communicating through computers and mobile devices for free.

One of the pioneering services that made VoIP so popular is Skype. It has allowed people to share instant messages and make voice and video calls for free worldwide.

VoIP is said to be cheap, but most people use it for free. Yes, if you have a computer with a microphone and speakers, and a good Internet connection, you can communicate using VoIP for free. This can also be possible with your mobile and home phone.

There are many ways of using VoIP technology. It all depends on where and how you will be making the calls. It could be at home, at work, in your corporate network, during a travel and even on the beach. The way you make calls varies with the VoIP service you use.

VoIP is Often Free

The great thing about VoIP is that it taps additional value from the already existing infrastructure without additional costs.

VoIP transmits the sounds you make over the standard Internet infrastructure, using the IP Protocol. This is how you can communicate without paying for more than your monthly Internet bill. Skype is the most popular example of services that allow you to make free calls on your PC. There are many computer-based VoIP services out there, so many that you will have a difficult choice. You can also make free calls using traditional phones and mobile phones. See the different flavors of VoIP servicethat allow you to do this.

If VoIP is Free, Then Whats is Cheap?

VoIP can be used for free with computers and even, in some cases, with mobile and landline phones. However, when it is used to completely replace the PSTN service, then it has a price. But this price is way cheaper than standard phone calls. This becomes thrilling when you consider international calls. Some people have had their communication costs on international calls cut down by 90% thanks to VoIP.

What makes calls free or paid really depends on many factors, including the nature of the call and the services offered. You only have to choose one depending on the nature of your communication and needs.

Also, here is a list of ways in which VoIP allows you to save money on phone calls.

So, you can’t stay out of the VoIP wagon. Follow the steps to getting started with VoIP.

The VoIP Trend

VoIP is a relatively new technology and it has already achieved wide acceptance and use. There is still a lot to improve and it is expected to have major technological advances in VoIP in the future. It has so far proved to be a good candidate for replacing the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System). It, of course, has drawbacks along with the numerous advantages it brings; and its increasing use worldwide is creating new considerations surrounding its regulations and security.

The growth of VoIP today can be compared to that of the Internet in the early 90’s.

The public is getting more and more conscious of the advantages they can reap from VoIP at home or in their businesses. VoIP which not only gives facilities and allows people to save, but also generating huge income for those who ventured early into the new phenomenon.

This site will guide you to everything you need to know about VoIP and its use, whether you are a home phone user, a professional, a corporate manager, a network administrator, an Internet communicator and chatter, an international caller or a simple mobile user who doesn’t want to spend all his/her money of paying for calls. So, get started right away.

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19 May 2017

The Main Benefits of Using Cloud Servers

To put it simply, cloud servers mean virtual servers which run on cloud computing environment. That is why very often Cloud Servers are referred to as Virtual Dedicated Servers (VDS). While it is true that every cloud server can be called a virtual dedicated server, the opposite is not always true.

This is because a virtual dedicated server can be placed only on a single hardware server and thus suffer from a single point of failure when any of its hardware fails.Cloud servers run as software-independent units. This means that a cloud server has all the software it requires to run and does not depend on any centrally-installed software.

Cloud Server Benefits

  • Freedom to modify all the server software to your needs. This includes the operating system kernel which is not always the case with other virtualization solutions such as private virtual servers.
  • Stability and security because a software problem is isolated from and to your environment. Others’ cloud servers can’t harm you and you can’t harm others. Also, if other users overload their cloud servers this will have no impact on yours because resources are dedicated and your stability is guaranteed. In addition to that cloud servers don’t suffer from hardware problems as previously said.
  • Cloud servers probably hold the best stability / cost ratio performance. They do not suffer from the usual server hardware problems and they have all Cloud computing, benefits, i.e. they are stable, fast and secure.
  • On the other hand, cloud servers are economically more efficient than the standard dedicated servers. For a similar price, with cloud servers you will receive more resources and your server will be faster. In web hosting terms, your site will run faster on a cloud hosting server if you compare it to a traditional server with similar price.
  • In this regard we should also mention that cloud servers scale very well. It is very easy and fast to add upgrades(CPU, Memory, disk space) to a cloud server just as it is more affordable, of course.

That’s why cloud servers are very popular and sometimes preferred to the traditional dedicated servers. This is true especially for the low to mid-level servers where they excel in all aspects.

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19 May 2017

8 reasons why your business NEEDS a professional website!

Like many small business owners, you may believe your business cannot benefit from having a website or that a website is not within your budget.

Or maybe you think because you don’t use a computer, neither do your potential customers. These are misconceptions. These 8 reasons show why your company NEEDS a professional website, no matter what size your business.

1. YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WILL GAIN CREDIBILITY

Today, more and more consumers use the internet to search for the products or services they need. Your small business will gain credibility by having a website. Without one, potential customers will go to your competitors that do. If you already have a website but it is “home-made”, having it professionally redesigned will provide your business with a professional image which will inspire even greater confidence. For home-based businesses, this is particularly beneficial since you do not have a store front to promote your products or services.

2. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU MONEY

As a small business owner you probably think you can’t afford a professional website, but you can’t afford NOT to. Although the cost of designing a website varies, once it’s up and running, a website for a small business generally costs under R300 a month and, in some cases, as little as R100. Compared with the cost of a newspaper ad, when you consider the potential market you can reach with a website, it is a very cost effective way to promote your business.

3. IT WILL ENABLE YOU TO KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS INFORMED

Think of your website as being your online brochure or catalogue. It is much easier and quicker to update information about your products and services on your website than in print material, making it an effective way of letting your customers know about the arrival of new products, upcoming events, special promotions, or any new services you now offer. Unlike print ads which quickly become outdated, your website can provide current information and news.

4. IT IS ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE

A website is available to both your regular and potential customers 24/7/365 providing them with the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your store or office is closed. With today’s busy lifestyles, this is a great selling point when making a purchase decision.

5. A WEBSITE MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO TARGET A WIDER MARKET

Whether you provide products or services, your website will provide an alternative location to sell them. As a retailer, a website (eCommerce) is a great place to sell your products to a wider market; even services can be made available globally. Don’t think you’ll be able to sell your products or services online? Don’t forget, even cars and houses sell online!

6. IT PROVIDES A MEDIUM ON WHICH TO SHOWCASE YOUR WORK

No matter what type of business you’re in, a website is a great place to showcase your work. By including a portfolio or image gallery, as well as testimonials about your work, you can demonstrate what makes your business unique.

7. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU TIME

Providing information to your customers takes time, whether it’s on the phone, face-to-face, in a brochure, or in emails. With an online catalogue you can provide lots of information about your products and services. Once your website is up and running, it is available to your customers indefinitely, saving you time. And what is time? Time is money!

8. IT IMPROVES CUSTOMER SERVICE

Maybe you sell environmentally friendly products and would like to share tips on how to recycle, or perhaps you’re an accountant and want to give your clients advice on how to simplify their bookkeeping practices. By including a FAQ page, adding articles or uploading newsletters to answer all your customers’ questions you can keep them up-to-date. What better way to provide them with value added service than by sharing information on your website.

 

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19 May 2017

Join Our Team as a Sales Referral Agent

Discover the best you through our opportunity. At Limitech, professional referral agents thrive as they inspire and empower others.

We’re looking for motivated  sales agents that can hit the ground running! Join Our dynamic team of agents and start introducing customers to the world of technology

This opportunity requires individuals who enjoy working one-on-one with clients and are able to listen to our customer’s needs and comfortably up-sell where appropriate (no pressure sales tactics).

Your biggest asset to us will be your negotiating skills. Our product knowledge will come with time but most of our clientele will accept your guidance so understanding a few key products will start you in the right direction.

Our customers are generally looking to buy right away so you should be excellent at closing the deal to secure the majority of our walk-ins.

This opportunity requires the agent to:

  • Multi-task and deal with multiple customers at a time

  • Develop and maintain customer relationships

  • Manage their sales from start to finish (securing clients; quoting; measuring; ordering; scheduling installations; follow-up on deficiencies)

  • Up-sell where appropriate without high-pressure sales tactics

  • Be excellent at the art of closing the deal

     

To be successful in this position, candidates

  • Have a positive, friendly attitude
  • Are a good listener and able to quickly identify the client’s needs
  • Well-presented and businesslike
  • Are well-organized, reliable, determined

 

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19 May 2017

Everything You Need to Know to Run a Successful SMS Marketing Campaign

If you haven’t started looking for ways to add SMS text message marketing to your marketing mix, now is the time.

Yes, I know apps are the craze these days but we’re still at about 65% smartphone penetration in the United States.

That means there may still be a lot of your customers that don’t have smartphones. Also, just because they have a smartphone doesn’t mean they use it for all that it’s capable of. Just ask my dad—he has the latest and greatest of phones1 at all times and all I get from him are texts with photos of my niece.

One of the great things about SMS is that nearly 100% of all devices on the market are SMS enabled, making it the mobile channel that offers the widest reach possible.

Some of the top brands invest heavily in SMS today to communicate with customers because over 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt.

Yes, that immediate.

In fact, it’s been reported that Coca-Cola historically has invested 70% of their mobile budget on SMS marketing.1

When asked why, Tom Daily, the Director of Mobile, Search and Global Connections replied,“It is important to invest your energy into things you know work, and we know that SMS works and is a thing to focus on.”

In addition to its reach and immediacy, SMS is very affordable and offers an amazing ROI for marketers when used properly.

If you’re ready to dive in to SMS marketing and leverage this amazingly powerful channel it’s important that you’re setup for success and not just using mobile for mobile sake.

1. Understand Your Goals

When diving into mobile marketing, it’s common to approach it as its own initiative.

That’s typically the worst direction to take.

Businesses that approach mobile as a silo will almost never get the results they were hoping for or even expected.

Before diving into your execution, it’s wise to review your business and marketing goals so that you’re creating your SMS campaign through a lens that takes your current business goals into account.

Having S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Specific) will assure your SMS campaign is executed in a way that meets your objectives.

It’s important to understand that your SMS campaign will likely impact many parts of your organization, so communicating your goals and strategy clearly throughout the organization is critical.

2. Build An Ark

Just like your 8 steps to a social media strategy, no one person can manage the entire SMS strategy. Your SMS mobile campaign will impact many departments of your company. Having a cross-functional team to help conceive and operate the SMS programs will be one of the most important parts to winning with SMS.

For example, let’s say you’re building a mobile loyalty list to drive customers to retail.

Having led the mobile efforts for Cabela’s previously, I know very well just how many people this type of effort can impact.

We had a cross-functional team that included members from teams responsible for retail, in-store signage, digital creative, email, IT, social media, promotions, the discounts budget, as well as 2 external teams.

Build out your ark and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes time for execution.

3. Clear Call-To-Action

One of the most common reasons SMS campaigns fail is that the call-to-action isn’t presented in a way that the consumer recognizes or understands what to do.

Take this example from Pepsi. They tell consumers to Text “PEPSIMAX” to 710710.

 

Having been involved in SMS since 2005, I can tell you that a significant amount of people probably texted with the quotations around the keyword, which actually doesn’t trigger the campaign.

SMS campaigns are driven by 2 factors – the keyword and a short code. In this example PEPSIMAX is the keyword and 710710 is the short code.

It’s common and best practice to capitalize the keyword and short code to make them stand out within the call-to-action.

One thing Pepsi is doing really well here is making the SMS call-to-action the focal point of the creative. I’ve found SMS CTA’s in the fine print far too many times.

If you want to drive engagement, give your SMS CTA the priority it deserves.

4. Leverage Incentives

Let’s not kid ourselves. Our mobile device is one of, if not the most personal device we have. The consumers that welcome you into their phone, especially through SMS, should be considered some of your most loyal customers.

With that said, you want to treat your most loyal customers with some extra love, and a great way to do that is incentivize customers to opt-in by giving something of value.

Typically, you’ll see brands doing a percent off or dollar off coupons to save a few bucks.

In the early stages of your SMS campaign, as you’re building your list, starting with a low value offer (say up to R100 off) can really help drive opt-ins and spark your initial list growth.

Once you’ve got people opted-in, you can leverage “spend and get” campaigns or “Buy One Get One” campaigns (also known as BOGO’s).

I personally love “spend and gets” because they can really help you increases your average order value (AOV) while self-funding the campaign (great when your discount budget is super tight).

Let’s look at an example:

Say your AOV is R1000.

Sending an SMS message to your database with an offer: “Get R200 when you spend over R1500” can be really effective.

A customer will come in and be inclined to spend R500 more than they usually do knowing they’ll get back R200.

For the sake of the example, let’s say the spend R1500 exactly.

You’ve just increased your AOV by R500. When you give the customer their R200 voucher, you’re left with a R300 incremental lift for that customer.

Multiply that by the soon to be hundreds, if not thousands of people that redeemed your offer, and you just drove some significant revenue with one message.

Now remember, incentives don’t always have to be monetary. 

I know a lot of brands that are not “discounters”. I worked for one of them.

You can still have an effective SMS campaign by offering non-monetary incentives.

Your non-monetary incentives can focus on:

  • Personalization – “We’ll notify you when your favorite item comes in.”
  • Reminders – “Your shipment will be delivered today.”
  • Engagement – “Tell us how we can help you.”
  • Access – “Here is early access to this special thing just because you’re a loyal SMS subscriber.”
  • Privileges – “Here is this special thing we only share with our SMS VIPs.”

Try incorporating your incentives in your call-to-action from number three and really drive opt-ins.

5. Permission Is Required

Just like email, SMS is a permission-based opt-in channel.

Your customer needs to clearly opt-in to receiving what you’re offering.

This can happen one of two ways:

  1. By texting a keyword to a short code (such as the Pepsi example from above), or
  2. By submitting their number via a web-form.

Either way, it needs to be obvious the customer has consented to receiving these messages.

You can’t just look through old customer records and add mobile num1bers to your database and then message those customers.

6. Compliance

In addition to permission, your SMS campaigns need to be compliant.

There are  entities that govern the mobile industry, specifically SMS.

 

This  include:

  • “Established business relationship” requirement replaced “prior written express consent” requirement.
  • “Prior written express consent” can’t be a condition of any purchase.
  • Both requirements need to be clearly displayed to customers before they opt-ed in to a text message marketing campaign.

To account for “prior written express consent,” you must include language similar to the below:

“By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic dialing system.”

To account for condition of purchase consent, include:

“Consent to these terms is not a condition of purchase.”

And to comply with the wireless carriers, you need to include:

  • STOP and HELP, instructions
  • Frequency
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Business entity
  • Disclosure of additional carrier charges

Here’s what that might look like, all together:

Greg’s Mobile VIP: 6 msgs/month. Message & Data Rates May Apply. By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic telephone dialing system. Consent to these terms is not a condition of purchase. You may opt-out anytime by sending STOP to 12345.

Now, it’s important to mention that I’m not a lawyer and you should consult the appropriate legal counsel when finalizing your language for your own SMS program but make sure you engage someone with this experience.

Tatango, a top SMS provider helping businesses execute SMS programs, provides a great resource on this subject.

7. Leverage Immediacy

Over 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes.2

That makes SMS one of, if not the most immediate channel available to connect with your audience.

Understanding this immediacy is important to your success and driving customer action.

If you have an event on Friday evening, sending an SMS message anytime before Thursday evening is too soon.

With your messages guaranteed to reach your customer and disrupt whatever it is they are doing, it’s important that you aim to deliver extremely high value via a very clear and concise call-to-action.

Since SMS messages only allow for 160 characters (some of which requires your compliance language from above) it’s important to be short, sweet, and to the point.

8. Consistency

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when using SMS is not sending messages consistently enough.

Like any other aspect of marketing, you should be leveraging any marketing or promotional character at your disposal. If there isn’t one, you should be sure to create one and use that as the foundation for your messaging calendar.

When it comes to messaging your customers, you obviously want to have something of value to say within each message, but going months without connecting via SMS is likely going to cause a high unsubscribe rate with every send.

Some of the most successful businesses leveraging SMS today, such as Starbucks, Target, Macy’s, JC Penney, are sending at least one message a week to stay at the top of the minds of their customers.

9. Media Integration

In general, mobile is one of the most dependent marketing channels that exist. When it comes time to promote your SMS program and drive adoption, it’s important to leverage all of your existing media outlets, whether that’s TV, radio, print, in-store signage, online, social, email, etc.

Performing an audit of your existing media assets to identify where you can integrate your SMS calls-to-action will help align you with the right teams to make sure the creative development process includes the SMS integration.

Remember, you’ll want to make sure the SMS CTA is clear and easy to read—not buried somewhere in the signage.

Your goal isn’t to check a box by having an SMS CTA integrated within your existing media; it’s to extend the reach and interactivity of your existing media and create an opportunity for continued engagement.

Performing an audit will identify all of the media outlets to integrate your CTA so that you can be on the same page as the rest of your cross functional team.

10. Measurement

The only way to determine if your SMS campaign is successful or not is by measuring.

When it comes to SMS there are a handful of things you can do from a measurement perspective. The great thing is that they are all fairly easy to manage. Here are a few metrics to follow when executing an SMS campaign:

  • Subscriber Growth: Monitor your growth rate each and week and identify which activities make the list grow.
  • Subscriber Churn Rate: This is the frequency at which people are opting out of your SMS program over time. Ideally your program never goes over 2-3% churn rate.
  • Cross Channel Engagement (by keyword):By using different SMS keywords within different media outlets, you can quickly measure which types of media and media locations are performing best and optimize based on engagement.
  • Redemption Rate: This is something you’ll monitor on a campaign-by-campaign basis (or by message) to determine the percentage of customers that redeem your offers and what rates.
  • Cost Per Redeeming Subscriber: From the redemption rate, you can determine the cost of communicating with each customer that receives your SMS messages.

When it comes time to plan and launch your next SMS marketing campaign, be sure to account for these 10 components and you’ll be well on your way to a successful SMS marketing campaign.

Have you tried using SMS yet in your business? If so, have you seen success? If you haven’t started, are you thinking of giving it a shot?

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19 May 2017

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