Category Archives: Technology

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5 Ways Your Website Could Be Hurting Sales

website conversion helpIf you’re in the business of selling products or services online, your website can make or break your brand. While most companies stay on top of the marketing techniques that can help to drive more traffic to their site, they often forget to make improvements to the site itself. Here are five ways that your site might be hurting sales and how you can fix it.

1. You Have Unresolved Glitches

This sounds like a simple problem that any web administrator with an ounce of sense would avoid. However, many site admins don’t realize that their e-retail platform has a glitch because they don’t regularly check the platform for user friendliness. If customers run into a glitch, they’ll oftentimes abandon the purchase rather than contacting the administrator about the problem. Hence, it’s crucial that you’re regularly checking the site for any glitches or issues.

2. There’s Never Any Rush To Buy

If your site isn’t regularly running promotions that feature a deadline, such as “product X is 25% off until this Friday,” then you’re not creating time-sensitive reasons for customers to make purchases. Companies attach deadlines to their promo codes and sales for good reason; it gives the customer a reason to buy now instead of later. Don’t think of these promotions as sleazy. They’re actually quite common and a completely moral sales tactic.

3. The Tech Is Fine, But The Site Itself Is Hideous

Sure, any e-retailer needs to have a glitch-free storefront that runs smoothly and processes data and promo codes without error. But don’t think that design doesn’t matter. Customers like to be welcomed by a web design and graphics that are pleasing to the eyes. Good visuals can compel customers who are on the fence to finally make that purchase.

4. Zero Social Media Presence

As social media becomes more and more of an integral part of how our society communicates, retailers can’t afford not to have a strong social media presence. It’s common for consumers to look at a brand’s Twitter or Instagram before deciding to make a purchase. If your site doesn’t have any sort of social media presence, customers may actually find that to be odd and somewhat suspicious. Social media isn’t just good from a marketing perspective. Rather, it’s a good way to cement your brand as trustworthy and give a legitimacy to your brand’s entire presence online.

5. Contacting Customer Service Is A Nightmare

No one wants to receive a barrage of petty customer complaints or unnecessary questions. For this reason, many sites tend to bury their customer service contact form or information, theorizing that only customers with legitimate questions will take the time to seek out the contact info. While this idea is okay in theory, it can kill potential sales. When customers have a question that they need to ask before they feel confident making a purchase, they want to be able to contact customer service quickly and simply. This is why a customer service contact should always be plainly visible on your site.

If you stay on top of these five potential mishaps, you can create a site that is user-friendly and conducive to consistent sales.

Guest Blogger: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years. She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for all your fulfillment


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Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins

J.R. Atkins Mobile Road Map to SuccessHow do you get a mobile app for your big idea or business? The solutions to this question is addressed in Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins, MBA. “When I first developed this material I was working closely with entrepreneurs developing mobile apps and companies seeking to add mobile apps to their business lines. As I reflect on this content, a few years later, it’s still sound thinking and applicable today.”

One example of continued relevance is the dominance of iOS and Android operating systems over Blackberry, Microsoft, and Symbian.  Microsoft still is active on their platform but it just never took off with independent developers who dominate the mobile app development field.

Another example of relevant content is the mobile app development process represented by the flow chart below. I still run across people who say they have an idea for a mobile app but have not taken step one, which is creating a written description.

stepps to building a mobile app

A third example of continued relevance is the basic cost associated with mobile app development. I would have guessed that this would have changed but, since they are general categories, the price points still hold true.

How much money to build a mobile app

New log for SDC llcEven though time has passed and application development has improved, these are still reasonable guidelines to use in early planning. For more details and the rest of the story on Mobile Road Map to Success, check out the book on Amazon.

I look forward to seeing your comments and questions.


J.R. Atkins has been speaking, teaching and consulting on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University, an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He has published 3 books: Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Mobile Road Map to Success. His company, Something Different Companies, works with churches, individuals and companies to implement effective online communication strategies.


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Major League Gaming, Coming to a City Near You

J.R. Atkins writes about major league gamingOn a recent trip to Atlanta, I had the opportunity to learn more about the industry of Major League Gaming. For the uninitiated, you can now be a professional gamer. All those hours in front of a screen playing Nintendo Wii and DS, Xbox, Play station and PSP, Game Boy, Atari and Pong could now equate to being a professional gamer with all the star power and perks of a rock star or professional athlete.

J.R. Atkins attends Final Round 18During the Delta flight to Atlanta, I watched a free video clip on my iPhone via the on plane Wi-Fi on Major League Gaming. (See related article in SKY) According to Wikipedia, “Major League Gaming (MLG), founded in 2002 by Sundance DiGiovanni and Mike Sepso, is a North American professional Electronic sports organization, headquartered in New York City. MLG has held official video game tournaments throughout the United States and Canada. Major League Gaming competitions have been broadcast on television, ESPN.com and other broadband sites. The company has also been involved in television production and game development. MLG’s aim is to elevate computer and console game tournaments to viable competitive and spectator events.” Although interesting, I simply watched another video on my flight and moved on with my life.

Game Stick at Final Round 18When I arrived at my hotel, I was surprised to see a group of motly dressed people with colored hair and baggy clothing reminiscent of pajamas, walking around with a gaming console they call a “stick.” Come to find out, the Final Round 18 Fighting Game Competition was being held at my hotel. Cool! I got to see firsthand what all the fuss and fanfare was all about. When my son was young, we played Mortal Combat at the pizza place and these people were still at it. The whole tournament was all about fighting games. You could watch people play in the lobby, in the main ballroom, in their hotel rooms, just about everywhere for 3 days and nights straight. Can you say “Cha-Ching?” Someone is making some serious cash here.

Based on what I learned, within the next 3 years we will probably see the following:

  • Gamer Celebrity Status like Justin Biber & Johnny Football
  • Million Dollar Signing Bonus for Gamers
  • Endorsements from games, clothing, theme parks and more
  • TV coverage by ESPN and major networks
  • Someone will suggest that gaming should be added to the Olympics
  • Stadium & Auditoriums Filled with fans to see gaming events
  • More Merchandise (coming to a Christmas near you)
  • “Fill out your bracket at work for the Championship rounds”
  • Vegas odds makers listing the likely top winners in gaming

What does this have to do with business? First, you can quit complaining about people who sit around and play games all day, it’s a profession now. Second, expect to see business applications for those with gaming skills on their resume. There could be a correlation between business intelligence, data management, coding and other workplace skills and gaming skills.

What social or business applications do you see in regards to professional gaming? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


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What Airline has the best in flight WiFi?

Check out the following article on Quartz by  Zainab Mudallal 

Do you use Wi-Fi much when you fly? If so, more for work or entertainment?


 

Wi-Fi has become one of the most sought-after things on a flight, even more important to passengers than a reclining seat or extra legroom. The latest report from Routehappy, a website that compares airlines by in-flight amenities, finds that its availability is spreading fast.

The report, published today, analyzed flights scheduled to depart this coming Feb. 5—a “typical mid-week travel day”—and found that passengers have “some chance” (i.e. one-third or better) of getting Wi-Fi on almost one-quarter of the airline miles flown worldwide. On US domestic flights, there’s some chance of Wi-Fi on two-thirds of the airline miles—up from just 38% of them a year and a half ago.

On those flights that do have Wi-Fi, its performance varies. In the US, 35% of those flights had “good” Wi-Fi, meaning the equivalent of 3G connection speeds; 38% had “better” Wi-Fi, similar to 4G; and only 1% had the “best” quality, good enough for video streaming.

There were also big gaps between airlines. In the US, virtually all Virgin America flights had Wi-Fi, followed by Southwest and Delta.

See the rest of the article at: http://qz.com/331750/the-worlds-in-flight-wi-fi-offerings-ranked/


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Creating Graphics for Business Growth by J.R. Atkins MBA

As someone delivering Social Media, Websites and Online Marketing, I find myself in need of creative graphics on a regular basis and I have found some resources you might what to check out.

1. JRA Visme ProjectVisme: Think of Visme as a perfect marriage between Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe InDesign; ease of use meets professional design. Their clean graphic website will walk you through the three easy steps to create your first graphic image and includes a nice short video to help you get started. Use the Visme tool set to create:

  • Infographics
  • Presentations
  • Charts & Graphs
  • Web Banners
  • Animations
  • And more

The free version allows you to create 3 projects and is a great way to check it out. If you like it and want to upgrade, the Standard Plan is $4.50 per month and the Complete Plan is $14.25 per month, no too much when you consider the competition.  I’m hoping they will preformatted projects for cover images for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ as I am tasked to create these often. Below is a sample project I created in less than five minutes. Let me know how Visme works for you.

2. Fivver: If you are more into outsources than “DYI” then check out Fivver. You hire someone to do you graphic for you at very low prices, like $5.00. The prices goes up as you add requirements but you still can get graphics delivered in a few days for less than $50.00. Again, not to bad when you consider other alternatives. Here is a recent example from Fivver that ran me $5.00 and took 4 days to complete.

Social Mead posting by J.R. Atkins 

 

3. Design Class: Most class work in design requires the student to create projects for real companies. Most will have a digital portfolio to show you how their skills and talents are developing. Why not let your brand benefit from the bright minds of tomorrow’s professional designers. Just Google “InDesign Classes” in your area then contact the instructor about student projects with your organization.

This example Portfolio is from Ashley Denton at Texas State, San Marcos, TX

 Ashley Denton recommended by J.R. Atkins

Events Worth Considering

Travel with J.R. Atkins to Holy sites

 


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What the heck does Snow Fall have to do with story telling?

18 Months after the New York Times published a story about an avalanche in Stevens Pass, in Skykomish, Washington, viewers are still raving about how this story represents the future of story telling, of eBooks, of writing in the digital world.

If you have not seen it, you need to check it out. The “news article” combines well written prose, video clips, pictures and Google Earth type imagery to immerse the reader into the story. And, it works. You feel like you are there. The credit for this great example of modern journalism goes to John Branch.

Follow this link or Google NY Times Snow Fall and you will see all the supporting articles and blogs that have been written following the release of the original article on December  20, 2012. I hope I write an article this well that gets this much exposure and acclaim some day. John won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Well done.

J.R. Atkins recommends the NY time article snow fall


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Your Online Data Never Sleeps

It’s two sides to the same coin-“Your Online Data Never Sleeps.” On one side of the coin, your online data is working for you while you are asleep. And on the other side of the coin, your data is available for others to hack, copy and add negative comments while you are asleep. The following info-graphic offers a pictorial view from Domo of where your data may live online.

J.R. Atkins says your online data never sleeps

Your Online Data Never Sleeps


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Gatesville, Nigeria and Tethering

GatesvilleAtkins Ranch in Gatesville TX

Yea, you might have seen some posts from me that I am spending a great deal of time at the Atkins Ranch in Gatesville, TX, about 35 miles east of Waco. It’s amazing what you can observe from outside of the Digital Life in Dallas. I still have my office in Frisco and I have opened a satellite office at the Ranch. Come see me when you are in the area.

Nigeria

Others of you might have seen a recent post about my trip to Africa with Compassion Creates Change Nigeria, a Dallas based non-profit working in Nigeria with Churches, NGO’s, Community Development Agencies and Business to:

  • Construct a Multi-Use School, Church and Community Center Raising 5k for Nigeria Mission Trip
  • Construct a Medical Clinic
  • Deliver Medical Supplies
  • Install Solar-power Based Electrification
  • Initiate Clean Water Projects
  • Provide Vocational Training
  • Deliver Compassionate Outreach

If you are able to contribute cash, products, services or just share the details on your social media, your efforts are greatly appreciated. Give at: http://www.gofundme.com/JRAtkins

TetheringJ.R. Atkins likes the Intelligence TV Show

I recall this term as the idea of connecting your Laptop to the internet via your cellphone. I’d like to expand the definition to address the way we tap into computer based information and knowledge. Today we have so many options to tether to our computer from smart phone and tablets to Google Glass. The progression of knowledge access looks something like this:

Main Frame-Personal Computer-Lap Top-Tablet-Smart Phone-Google Glass-Implant.

I know the implant is not in the consumer market yet, but it has to be in the military domain. Have you see the TV show Intelligence, it’s like a modern day bionic man, only better. Yet, all the information of the world is useless without human intelligence to create context and relationship. Here are a few business uses for Computer Information at your fingertips. Let me know what other applications you see coming.

  • Sales: Customer, Product and Service data
  • Service: Service Manuals, Customer Records, Diagnostics…
  • Decision Making: KPI’s, Industry, Competition…
  • Current News: Public, Company, Industry
  • Security: Early Warnings, Environmental Concerns,

Please share your thoughts on the blog, by email, phone or social media, “after all, I’m here to communicate with you.”

Events Worth Considering 

02-08-14 – Orpheus “From the Heart” Gala & Auction
02-11-14 – Business Link Lunch – Temple Chamber
02-12-14 – The DEC: Design for Non-Designers
02-18-14 – The Booming Business of Global Warming
02-19-14 – Marketing DFW Airport
02-23-14 – Southwest Car Wash Association Convention & Expo
02-25-14 – Last Tuesday Happy Hour at The Ritz Carlton
02-27-14 – Business After Hours – Temple Chamber
03-01-14 – Orpheus Chamber Singers – The Art of Imitation
 

 


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Are smartphones a need or want?

I see smart phones as a must have for most adults who are engaged in business and society. The amount of computing and communication power is necessary for the successful connected life. Check out this article from  Desert News on the subject.

 

Gotta have: Are smartphones a need or just a want?

According to J.R. Atkins MBA Smart phones are a need

By , Deseret News

NEWTON, Mass. — Lisa Rinkus may be fighting a losing battle. Her 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, wants an iPhone.

“She was asking every day, ‘When can I have an iPhone,’ ” says Rinkus, owner of a public relations firm in the Boston area. “My husband was about to cave and I was horrified.”

Everybody Rinkus knows, she says, has given their kids a smartphone.

“But I know a lot of parents who say they wish they never caved in,” she says.

The tide seems to be going toward universal adoption. Resistance seems futile. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reported in May that, for the first time, a majority of adult Americans (56 percent) owned smartphones. Of young people ages 18 to 29, 77 percent of those who make less than $30,000 a year still own a smartphone.

Pew also found recently that 63 percent of adult cell owners now use their phones to go online — twice the percentage of 2009.

And among teenagers, almost 78 percent of them own a phone, with almost half of that group owning a smartphone, according to Pew.

But even with the high percentages, Rinkus and others are confronting the question of whether smartphones are wants or needs.

Clash of worlds

Susan Kuhn, a “technology futurist and digital strategist” in Arlington, Va., says fear is behind much of the opposition to smartphones and allowing kids to have them.

“Information technology is evolving faster than anything in human history,” Kuhn says. “The key is to not just look at the device, but the role it is playing.”

That role includes the different things a child could do with it — such as creating videos, expanding learning, creating websites and content on social networks, or being connected to resources at school.

“Smartphones are going to be very important in the future,” she says. Parents should want their children to master the tool and use it well. Kids are going to grow up in a world of instant communication and ubiquity of information, she says.

“We do right by our children when we help them to grow up able to live in the world that is coming for them, the world of the future — not the world that we are comfortable, the world of what we grew up in.”

Already connected?

Rinkus, however, thinks kids are connected. “If kids have access to computers, iPods, library computers and school computers,” she says, “then why the heck do they need it in their pocket while they are waiting for the bus?”

But smartphones can be used for far more than killing a few idle moments while waiting for a bus. A recent study by Jumio, an online verification and mobile payments company based in Palo Alto, Calif., found that people are using their smartphones just about everywhere and during everything.

People admit using them in movie theaters (35 percent of smartphone owners), during a dinner date (33 percent), at a child’s or school function (32 percent), in a place of worship (19 percent), while in the shower (19 percent) and even during, um, intimate times (9 percent). Despite laws and other attempts to stigmatize it, 55 percent admit to using smartphones while driving.

James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University, thinks smartphone use like this is a sign of addiction.

Tipping into addiction

“Cell phone use reaches a tipping point when they pass from being something you like to do to something you need to do,” says Roberts, who is writing a new book titled “Cellularitis: Sleeping with our cell phones.” “People exhibit six symptoms that are classic addiction.”

The first sign, he says, is the salience or importance the smartphones have in people’s lives. Like the Jumio survey, which found that 72 percent of smartphone users are within five feet of their devices the majority of the time.

Two other signs are that the smartphone is being used for mood regulation and people start using them more and more in their lives.

People also have withdrawal symptoms if they have to stop using their smartphones.

“Kids separated from their cellphones get nervous, tense, anxious and almost have breakdowns just like alcohol, cigarettes or coffee addiction,” Roberts says.

Smartphone usage also can cause conflict with others. Roberts says he has had to have students removed from class who couldn’t stop using their smartphones for the period.

And people who try to stop using their smartphones often relapse back into their obsessive habits with the phones, he says.

Setting rules

Rinkus says she doesn’t want her daughter to be like one of her “addicted” classmates who, when asked a question by her history teacher, answered by saying, “Let me Google it.”

“That is so absurd,” Rinkus says, “it makes me so crazy.”

But Kuhn isn’t impressed so much by the addiction claims.

“Addiction?” she says, “Well, then we need to talk about sports maybe. There are all kinds of things people can get ‘addicted’ to. It is not a thing that is unique to technology. … It is falsely giving up human power by giving up tech.”

Kuhn says parents can set limits such as not allowing the smartphone in the kid’s bedroom, limiting use to two hours a day, monitoring how it is being used.

Roberts also recommends rules such as he has used with his teenage daughters including turning off the phones at 10 p.m. and having smartphone-free times, like keeping them off during dinner. Author William Powers takes it a step further, suggesting that peopletake a day away from their smartphones to create more balance between people’s physical and digital lives.

Protecting the future

Rinkus says she wants her daughter, in her free moments, to not turn her head down to a smartphone, but to interact with those around her. Kuhn, however, says kids are connecting to each other, “in a far different way that we did.”

But she also says the connecting does not have to be one way or the other, that it can be both.

“Technology is no harder than a lot of other things that have happened in history,” Kuhn says, “but we put it on this freak-out pedestal. It sort of demeans us to say that we can be undone by a piece of electronics. No. We are much better than that.”

Rinkus, however, isn’t backing down and says her daughter is starting to agree with her.

“My job as a parent is to protect my children,” she says. “Getting them ready for the future means I need to guide them. I’m protecting my daughter. I think she realizes that.”

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote


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“Giving answers vs. results” the goal of the new Google Hummingbird Algorithm

“Giving answers vs. results” is the goal of the new Hummingbird algorithm from Google according to Eric with Globe Runner SEO. Check out his video for more insights.


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