5 must-have devices to you seamlessly blend work and travel this summer

Go-to gadgets: 5 must-have devices to you seamlessly blend work and travel this summer

Summer time is travel time.

Whether heading to the cottage, a wilderness camping adventure, family road trip or exotic overseas excursion, small business owners need to stay connected, no matter where your travels take you.

We’ve rounded up five go-to gadgets that should make the trip with you this summer if you plan to stay productive.

1. goTenna Mesh

gotenna

If your travel plans take you way off the beaten path, goTenna Mesh can keep your Android or iOS devices connected even in locations where there is no cellular service. The pocket-sized device pairs with your smartphone via an app to enable communication among users without reliance on cell towers, WiFi routers, or satellites. Additionally, goTenna Mesh enables automatic and private message relay, effectively doubling or tripling any device’s effective range, creating a network which actually gets stronger the more people join it.

2. Anker Jump Starter / Portable Charger

anker jump starteranker jump starter

When your road trip does double duty as a work trip, your gadgets need to do double duty as well. Anker’s portable charger / jump starter saves you from the dangers of dead batteries in both your mobile devices and your car.

The car battery jump starter is compact enough to fit in your glove box and comes equipped with two USB ports to charge phones, tablets, and other gadgets on the go.

3. Apple AirPort Express

Apple AirPort Express

Hard to believe so many hotels still charge for WiFi these days or worse yet, provide instructions on how to connect to their network with an Ethernet cable.

With Apple’s AirPort Express, you can create your own secure wireless network by simply plugging the hotel’s DSL cable into the device. AirPort Express also features a built-in firewall to keep your network secure.

4. TripLingo

TripLingo

Pocket translator gadgets seemed like an indispensable travel tool when they first appeared on the market, but quickly became redundant thanks to near-universal adoption of smartphones.

Apps are now the go-to choice for those travelling and working abroad, offering real time translation and so much more. TripLingo bills itself as the ultimate tool for international travelers, helping you learn essential phrases, instantly translating your voice or connecting to a live translator, and even offering a crash course on the local culture.

You can even avoid roaming fees with the app’s WiFi dialer, which allows you make free international calls when connected to Wi-Fi.

5. Tumi Electric Grounded Adapter With USB

Tumi Electric Grounded Adapter With USB

Looking for a safe and convenient way to power your tech toys and mobile office essentials while travelling abroad?

The Tumi Electric Grounded Adapter with USB offers four different plug configurations, works in 150 countries and is suitable for use with most 2-pole and 3-pole plugs. The compact adapter has a retractable plug and comes with a durable, travel safe storage case.

5 Social Media Tools To Help Listen To Your Customers – And Your Competitors

Social listening is more than a trendy buzzword; it’s an essential part of your business’ digital strategy.

Listening to your target audiences online helps you monitor trends, identify potential influencers, and track consumer sentiment to grow your community and develop more relevant, engaging content.

For even more valuable insight use social listening tools to monitor what your competitors are doing and how their consumers respond. We break down 5 of the best social media listening tools to make the job easy for you:

1. Hootsuite

One of the earliest comprehensive social monitoring tools available, Hootsuite remains one of the most popular today. Hootsuite Insights accesses real-time data from over 100 million sources in 50+ languages across 25+ social networks and other platforms to make sure you never miss a conversation that matters.

Social sentiment around your brand – or your competitors – can be filtered by location, language, and gender for a multi-dimensional view of your market segments. Take advantage of the free basic plan or upgrade for additional functionality.

2. Sprout Social

Easy to use and reasonably priced with plans starting at $59/month, it’s no wonder Sprout Social is among the leading social media management tools on the market today.

Track hashtags, keywords mentions and sentiment across multiple social channels in real time, then use the data you’ve gathers to gain deeper insights thanks to a suite of helpful analytics tools and customizable reporting options.

3. Mention

Mention promises to scour the web, allowing you to monitor your brand, your products, your consumers and your competitors anywhere online.

An integrated dashboard allows you to post, reply, and engage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from a single screen, while collaboration tools help you share and assign tasks to your team members. The budget friendly Solo plan starts at just $29/month.

4. Likeable Local

Designed specifically for small business, Likeable Local is on a mission to transform small businesses into #likeable businesses through the power of social media.

The platform promises to help manage your reputation and track the conversations which matter to you with advanced keyword tracking across multiple channels, while connecting you with the people searching for or talking about your services online. Monthly plans start at $299.

5. Brandwatch

Popular among larger enterprises and agency clients, the social listening tools from Brandwatch provide valuable insights to small business owners as well.

Brandwatch Analytics tracks conversations as they happen on social media channels, blogs, forums, review sites and more, to help you listen to your customers anywhere, any time.

The extensive selection of features for analysis, includies advanced filtering, tagging and categorization, Alerts, flexible charting, topic and sentiment analysis, and plenty more data management capabilities. Pricing is available upon request only.

Spring Cleaning For Your Small Business: 3 Tips To Improve Efficiency This Season

small business spring cleaning tips

Birds are singing, temperatures are rising and spring is in the air. Now is the perfect time for a little spring cleaning. While running a dustcloth over your desk won’t help your bottom line; these three simple spring cleaning tips for your small business can keep you running at peak productivity all year long.

1. Website refresh

Take the time to audit your website page by page and recruit a few friends to do the same. Of course you want to immediately correct any functionality errors and fix any typos but a thorough audit takes a broader view and looks for ways to improve the customer experience:

  • Add new products or services and delete any that are outdated or no longer available
  • Update photos with fresh, high-quality images
  • Ensure all pricing is current and accurate
  • Incorporate recent customer reviews and testimonials into your content
  • Check how your site displays on a variety of desktop and mobile devices
  • Investigate new platforms, programs and plug-ins to enhance the user experience for customers and visitors to your site
  • Consult with a designer on ways to make the site cleaner, more visually appealing and easier to navigate

2. Digital decluttering

Now is the time to tackle all those piles of paper, boxes of files and overflowing cabinets you’ve been ignoring. Invest in a high performance scanning system and take the time to build an effective system for document storage and archiving now; doing so will pay off in security and efficiency for years to come. Choose your scanning system wisely. The Ambir nScan 915i network scanner, for example, is engineered to handle multiple users with ease. The compact, standalone unit connects to your network wirelessly with no cable or computer required, and scans directly to your email, network, device or the cloud.

  • Take advantage of cloud technology to build a secure document archive that is available anywhere, any time.
  • Divide all your paper files into two groups: store or toss. Be realistic and ruthless
  • Shred all discarded documents for secure disposal and easy recycling
  • Set up a simple cloud-based digital file system and scan all the remaining documents directly to the appropriate file
  • Once the documents are scanned and stored, there is no need to keep hard copies; simply shred, recycle and marvel at how much space your office suddenly has!

3. Contact list clean-up

Your communication is only as strong as your contact list. If you’re using outdated lists then you are simply wasting your time. Building a better database from the ground up will help build your business so consider investing in a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) program such as Nimble. Far more than just contact lists, CRM programs help you manage your contacts, automate sales and marketing functions, capture business intelligence about prospects and competitors, and track social media conversations and engagement.

  • Purge all databases of outdated or irrelevant information
  • Consolidate all your fragmented contact lists, databases, spreadsheets and business cards into one central database or CRM platform
  • Capture the information your team needs to drive sales: demographics, social profiles, buying patterns and more
  • Track message opens and clicks to determine if your message is reaching the right people
  • Monitor key contacts’ social media profiles to identify emerging trends or potential issues

Small Business, Little Time – Tips to Get the Most from Social Media

small business social media tips

As a small business owner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by social media. Your time and attention are already pulled in multiple directions – is it really worth promoting your business on Facebook, YouTube,

Twitter and more? Yes, if you’re doing it right. Follow these 5 tips to ensure your business gets maximum value from your online presence, with maximum efficiency.

1. Research before you start

Every successful venture begins with a plan. Before getting started spend some time understanding which channels your customers are using and why. While SnapChat might be an effective tool for reaching tweens and teens, it is unlikely to help you engage with customers who are 50+.

2. Automation is your friend

While you may see the best results from posting daily, or even several times a day, that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your keyboard all day. Take advantage of scheduling options within social media networks such as Facebook, or purpose-built tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer.

With some careful planning and an hour or so of your time, you can schedule a week’s worth of posts across multiple social networks, add photos or videos and choose the exact date and time for each to go live.

3. Sharing is caring

Social media is about engagement, not selling. One key to engaging your audience is ensuring the content you share is truly relevant to them and not just a sales message promoting your business or product.

Sharing interesting content from other trusted sources boosts the quality and diversity of your feed, while also encouraging those sources to return the favour and share your content with their own audiences. Follow other businesses, bloggers, and thought leaders in your field to get relevant, sharable content delivered right to your news feed.

4. Repurpose with purpose

With the fast-paced nature of social media, your business’ post can get lost in a viewer’s feed within minutes. Re-posting the same message at different times and even on different days helps ensure your content reaches as many people as possible. Best practices include waiting at least eight hours before duplicating content, sharing one or two other posts between duplicates, and using different headlines and images to convey the same message.

5. Be human

While automation can be a great time-saver, your customers want to know they are dealing with real people who care about their concerns. Time spent answering online questions, addressing complaints and solving problems is time well-spent.

The customer who posted a comment feels listened to, and others viewing your feed gain confidence in your company’s customer service.

Places to List Your Biz & Boost Your Reviews for Better Brand Awareness

places to list your website get reviews

Consumer review sites are a popular source of information for customers researching a product or company, but they can also be a valuable tool for business owners. Online reviews provide a window into your customers’ thoughts. How better to find out exactly what they like – and don’t like – about your products and services?

More importantly, your potential future customers rely heavily on customer review sites to inform their purchase decisions. In a 2015 BrightLocal survey, 92% of respondents said they visit review sites, and 68% reported that positive online reviews make them trust a business more. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most influential review sites on the web.

With an average of 142 million users visiting every month, your business can’t afford to underestimate Yelp’s influence. Set up or claim your business’ profile for free, measure visitor activity on your page, and respond directly to reviewers.

Registering for Google My Business not only allows you to monitor and respond to customer ratings and reviews, it ensures potential clients find timely and accurate information about your business in Google Search, Maps, and Google+. Don’t overlook other search engines; also register your company with Yahoo Local and Bing.

TrustPilot users share their experiences with both products and sellers, creating a valuable source of credible, third party reviews you can use to your business’ advantage. Free registration allows businesses to create a profile page and monitor customer reviews, while upgrades include personalized invitations you can send to customers asking for their reviews, social media sharing, and much more.

If your business has a page on Facebook (and it should!) ensure you have the Ratings & Reviews feature enabled. Visitors to your page can rate and share their experiences with your business, and you can respond directly on the page.

Designed to help businesses research and find the right software solution, Capterra offers product guides, blog posts and thousands of unbiased user reviews and ratings. If you are a software provider, you’ll want to consider Capterra’s pay-per-click listing service which helps you reach customers while they are researching products like yours.

Another new player in the software review field is TrustRadius. The site differentiates itself by publishing more substantive reviews, averaging more than 400 words, and by authenticating reviewers and reviewing their submission before posting the review online.

Don’t forget your own site; allow customers rate and review your products and services right on your company website. WP Product Review Lite, WP Review, and Rich Reviews are all easy-to-use plugins available for WordPress-based sites.

Whichever sites you decide to use, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Monitor your company’s listings and reviews regularly, daily if possible
  • Respond to positive reviews as time allows and always respond to negative reviews.
  • Do not engage in arguments or disputes online. Do offer an apology that a product or service did not meet the customer’s expectation and provide an email or phone number where the customer can contact your service team directly.
  • Take customer reviews seriously. If they point to a pattern of poor service, address the issue internally and make the necessary changes.