5 Ways Google Ads Will Increase Your Marketing Efficiency

One of the fastest growing, yet somewhat unknown, entities for engaging with audiences is Google Ads. Utilizing Google Ads can help you better target the right audience that will interact with your brand and content. This online advertising platform has emerged as a leader in helping businesses reach their potential customers in an efficient matter. Mother always said, “Google has the answers.”

As any person in the business world knows, the ability to target the right audience at the right time can make all the difference in a marketing campaign being successful or not. If you don’t, your marketing efforts will flop like a soccer player. Luckily, Google Ads has a wide reach that can grow your audience immensely. It allows for a lot of campaign customization and uses data-driven insights to make your marketing strategies as effective as can be.

So, let’s dig in and see what upsides Google Ads can have for your business 🙂

1. Vast Reach and Exposure

One big advantage of Google Ads is that it has an extensive reach. Companies love to expand their reach because it allows them to gain more customers. Therefore, more money flows into the door and everyone is happy. As we all know, money equals happiness, right?

Google, itself, processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. This makes it the most widely used search engine in the world. This means that when businesses advertise through Google Ads, they will have the potential to appear in many different search results wherever they please. This increases their brand exposure and can generate more clicks to their website. Whether you’re a for-profit business or a nonprofit, you can gain a big advantage by using this tool.

The more organic traffic flow they have to their site can increase the ability for converting potential customers. Whether someone is looking for specific information or products, Google Ads will place your advertisement where it is most likely to get the most clicks from people who need it. Your brand’s visibility will soar through the roof!

2. Precise Targeting and Customization

Not all ad campaigns are the same. Each campaign has its own goal in mind, such as brand awareness or generating sales. No matter your goal, Google Ads allows you to customize your advertisement to achieve it by helping you personalize your ads to be seen by people who have the right needs and interests that align with your brand.

You will be able to tailor your campaign to target specific demographics, locations, devices, and even the time of day you want the ad to be seen. This type of in-depth personalization will let you make sure your ad is seen by the most relevant audience that’ll interact with it. No “average Joe” will be seeing it. Your marketing efficiency will be so good, you might even get a raise from your boss.

3. Immediate and Measurable Results

One of the problems with traditional marketing methods is that they didn’t offer measurable results. New digital marketing methods do offer real-time data that marketers can analyze and use to make adjustments to maximize their marketing efforts. Google ads falls into this category, which makes it so appealing.

As soon as your ad is approved it starts popping up on the relevant search results pages and websites. This type of immediate visibility is great for your company. The faster you can get in front of your audience, the better your chances are for converting potential customers. Imagine your ad is Dash, from The Incredibles. This speed is unmatched compared to other marketing strategies.

Google Ads also has many analytic tools that help you measure the success of your campaign in real-time. You’ll be able to track things like clicks, conversion rates, and ROI. All of this information will help you adjust your strategy on the fly or going forward. Data-driven decisions are always the best kind and will help you get the most out of your marketing efforts every single time.

5 Rules for Effective Marketing in a Digital World

The marketing industry has seen numerous twists and turns in recent years. The dynamic landscape is constantly evolving with new trends that hit the world. Staying on top of these trends allows marketers to put effective strategies in place that result in more sales for brands and organizations.

Marketers play possibly the most important role for any business and their success. A strong brand identity, customer engagement, and revenue growth all fall under a marketer’s job title. No pressure, right? 🙂

In my opinion, there are 5 crucial rules that every marketer must follow to properly navigate the industry and develop effective strategies. These principles serve as an outline for success in the marketing universe.

Rule 1: Understand Your Audience

If you didn’t know this already, your customer base can make or break you. Understanding the people you are targeting with your campaigns is the only way to make the marketing strategy effective. If you do this properly, you’ll see an increase in customer engagement, as well as sales. We loveeee more money flowing in.

Investing a large amount of time and effort must be put into researching the wants and needs of your customer base. Their behaviors and preferences are your way into their lives. Think of yourself as a little fly on the wall that’s taking notes on everything you see. Knowing this information will help you tailor your messaging to resonate with them. Customers want to feel like their brands understand them. So, put in the work to do that!

Using data to make informed decisions is the only way to develop an effective campaign strategy. There can be no guessing when it comes to marketing.

Rule 2: Content is King

This digital world lives off content. The online world is now the primary place for marketing to potential customers. Content marketing serves as the primary way for showcasing the brand’s message and personality. It can shape the way people view your brand’s image.

This content can be blogs, videos, social media posts, and so much more. The world of content is endless. As long as it’s high-quality and attention-grabbing, it will be effective in drawing people in. Marketers need to make sure that the content they produce is both informative and entertaining, this way it can resonate with their target audience.

One little sub-rule to this is consistency. Quality content can’t be a one-off. You have to produce it on a consistent basis that allows you to develop long-lasting relationships based on trust. Plus, this content can be blasted across all platforms, which will enable you to maximize your reach. Let me get two cheers for content!

Rule 3: Build Authentic Relationships

The key to success in any business is retaining your customers. Making sure they keep coming back ensures that future sales will continue to be made. As we all know, money drives business. The way to achieve this is by building genuine relationships with your customers. As I stated above, one way to do this is with the content you produce.

The other way to do this is by listening, which I know can be hard for people to do nowadays. I’m sure we are all well aware of the Karen pandemic in our world. Actively listening to customer feedback, addressing concerns quickly, and valuing transparency are all great ways to develop relationships with your customers. Authenticity also includes being truthful in your mission and following through.

If you can do all of these things, you will have yourself an authentic relationship with your customer base. People will spread the word that you are a trustworthy company, and your customer base will grow. Therefore, in comes the moneyyyy.

Multiple CRM System Integration Sparks Business Growth

Companies are beginning to utilize new technological tools in their day-to-day operations. As technology continues to advance, it’s become vital to integrate these tools into their practices to streamline operations and stay ahead of the competition. One of the most important tools to have at your disposal is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

These systems help companies manage and nurture relationships with their customer base. As companies continue to grow, sometimes they’ll upgrade their CRM system, or even integrate multiple to work in unison. This can help them utilize specific features from different platforms to address their needs perfectly.

However, the integration process doesn’t go smoothly every single time. Take it from someone in the industry who has seen things firsthand. Today, we’ll go over the integration process, as well as the pros and cons that can arise from it.

The Importance of CRM Integration

CRM integration can be very important for growing your business. Utilizing tools from multiple platforms allows you to maximize the impact these systems can have on your company.

Some of the benefits of integration include better data accuracy, improved communication, comprehensive customer insights, and streamlined processes. I would say that these benefits are pretty nice.

Enhanced data accuracy ensures that there will be consistency with your customer database. Having duplicated data makes for a messy system and a tougher job for employees. Improved communication throughout your teams in real-time on projects helps jobs get done faster and at a higher quality.

Comprehensive customer insights that are up-to-date will help you make personalized marketing campaigns that will be more effective in communicating with your audience. This will result in more customer sales. More streamlined processes will allow for less manual errors and more consistency throughout every aspect of your business.

Challenges in CRM Integration

Despite the numerous benefits, integrating two CRM systems can be a complex and challenging endeavor. Organizations must be prepared to address several key challenges, such as data synchronization, data cleansing, customization, and security.

Data synchronization is vital because different CRM systems will store data differently. This makes it crucial to make sure nothing gets lost. Data cleansing helps you avoid inaccuracies and conflicts. Doing this before you integrate is immensely important.

Custom fields and workflows may be different with every CRM system, so adjustments may need to be made in order for the integration to go smoothly. The security system in place that protects customer data during integration needs to be put in place for effective integration. Giving proper access to the correct person and role is very important.

Challenges are always going to arise, but having a plan of attack in place prior to integrating can help ease any struggles that come up.

6 Reasons a Strong Backlink Profile is Important

With this new world of digital media, getting online search traffic is more important than ever. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the key ways to make sure your website or page pops up higher in search results. One of the major factors in determining SEO is backlink data.

These are inbound or outbound links from hyperlinks on various websites that take users to your site. They help build up the credibility of your site and help draw more traffic as well. The importance of backlinks cannot be underestimated. They can build your site up as fast as they can tear it down. Leveraging them to your advantage can make your website more credible than ever.

Building Authority and Trust

Search engines, such as Google, use SEO to rank your search results. Strong backlink data can increase your authority on the matter and make your site a more trusted source. This boosts its ranking in the search engine. Strong backlinks tell others that your information is valid and that people who view it will be pleased with the results.

When other trusted websites hyperlink to your website, it serves as community proof of the quality of your content. This serves as validation that they should trust you since others do. This will help your branding efforts as more people will spread the word that you are a trusted source in the field.

Increasing Organic Traffic

The more organic search traffic you generate, the higher possibility for sales you’ll have. When your website ranks higher, it becomes more visible to users searching your keywords and topics. This leads to more clicks and views of your site.

Organic search traffic is very valuable because it consists of people who are actively searching for the information your website holds. This makes them a lot more likely to be active and follow down the sales funnel. It also gives you the chance to generate more loyal customers for life. Organic traffic and backlinks go hand in hand in generating a flow of customers to your company.

Referral Traffic and Exposure

Another great aspect of backlinks is the referral traffic they offer. We all know how people are addicted to scrolling nowadays. If there’s a hyperlink to your website, it is likely the user will click on it and come scrolling onto your site. This referral traffic is invaluable.

It can drive more traffic to your website and bring new potential customers your way who might not have been targeted before. This expands your reach to a broader audience without you having to spend any extra money. This can end up helping you generate more backlinks to your website as well. It can become a continuous cycle.

Quick Overview of 5 Top CRM Platforms for B2B Companies

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and a successful Business to Business (B2B) company go hand in hand. The correct CRM software will help you create better customer interactions, streamline your sales process, and simply improve your entire company’s performance. Not to mention, your B2B marketing strategies will increase in efficiency.

For B2B businesses, it’s become a great tool for managing relationships with current and potential clients. So, selecting the correct software for your business is a vital step. To do so, you need to examine your company’s needs. Together, we can go over some examples of popular CRM platforms among B2B businesses and what to look for.

Market Overview of B2B CRM Software

Having knowledge of the landscape of CRM software amongst other B2B companies can help you be better prepared to choose one for yourself. There are always new software applications coming to market, as well as updates to current platforms. So, make sure you stay on top of current trends and emerging technologies.

Once you’ve done this, you can better select the software with the best features that suit your company’s needs. A few CRM software systems are currently dominating the B2B landscape. So, let’s go over a few.


Salesforce is recognized as the leader in CRM software. It is the number one choice among many B2B companies. The platform offers many great features, such as lead management, account management, sales analytics, and team collaboration tools. All of this helps companies generate relationships with fellow businesses and convert them into lifelong partnerships. It also streamlines everyday processes.

Salesforce’s success can be attributed to its infrastructure, scalability, multiple customization options, and integration capabilities with other systems. It also has a very user-friendly interface that makes it easy for you to get the hang of. Its continuous innovation has garnered a large customer base across many diverse industries.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft is one of the more widely used software applications in the world. Whether you’re a student or a Fortune 500 company employee, odds are you’re familiar with the software. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is another solid CRM software system that’s been adopted by many B2B companies. It uses Microsoft’s huge suite of business applications to offer a unified platform for its users.

Its seamless integration with Microsoft’s tools, such as Office 365 and SharePoint, makes it a fan favorite. It also contains robust analytics and reporting capabilities that make it great for analyzing data. As we know, data is invaluable information to businesses that help them make smart business decisions. This is a great feature that intrigues many B2B organizations. Furthermore, its scalability, flexibility, and ease of implementation allow it to grow with your business.

7 Industries Where AI Has an Intense Presence

The way we interact with technology has completely changed since artificial intelligence (AI) arrived We now have our own voice assistants, like Siri, that help us in daily tasks. We also have streaming platforms, like Netflix, that give us personalized recommendations.

All of this happened because of the digital transformation of our society. AI has made our lives so much easier and more convenient. As it becomes a part of our daily lives, we will depend on it that much more.

Artificial intelligence is beginning to reshape our whole society at a rapid pace.

Communicating with Technology

The era of voice assistants is here upon us. Artificial intelligence has enabled us to have full conversations with technology. Voice assistants like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant have become a commodity in households across the nation. They have allowed technology to integrate itself deeper into our daily lives.

Our ability to communicate with technology devices, just as if they were human, has made integrating these devices into our lives easier. They help us performs tasks and answer any questions we may ask. These assistants use natural language processing (NLP) software to understand and respond in human language. Because of this, AI technology continues to be a force in our daily lives.

Healthcare Industry

The healthcare sector has implemented artificial intelligence into their daily activities, too. It assists workers with diagnosing patients, determining treatments, and doing research. This helps doctors save time and be more effective in their care. The AI software analyzes a ton of data to help make predictions that aid in determining the sickness of a patient.

It also analyzes medical images, like X-rays and MRIs, with a high amount of accuracy. This can help doctors see things that they had previously missed. Any help in the medical field is a good thing.

Financial Accuracy

The finance industry also has seen an improvement by using the power of artificial intelligence. It helps detect fraud and determine risk for investments. This helps people make smart decisions with their money, as well as helps the government see if people are breaking the law.

AI can constantly see data in real-time to make sure it’s up to date. This helps people see current patterns in the economy. The financial market has seen an increase in efficiency since it employed artificial intelligence systems.

Safer Transportation

The car industry changed since they started using AI systems inside vehicles. Self-driving cars, such as Tesla, are super common nowadays. They are safer and have helpful software that helps drivers be more aware.

These cars can navigate traffic and scan surroundings to help drivers make smarter decisions. They can also assist drivers in parking and can stop by themselves. Overall, the roads have never been safer.

There are also apps, like Waze, that monitor traffic in real-time to give drivers the best route to their destination. This ultimately helps with traffic flow and makes drivers, such as me, happier 😊.

NLP Helping Voice Assistants Become Highly Effective

We’ve seen a big rise in the popularity of voice assistants across the country. What’s the reason for this? Well, they help make our lives a lot easier on a daily basis and have become like a part of our family. 

They’ve also completely changed the way we interact with technology. Siri and Alexa are two of the most popular voice assistants around today. They were created by Apple and Amazon and are both very realistic voice assistants that people use every day. They have become a staple of society and assist us with daily tasks.

These voice assistants talk to us like any human would, and that’s a crazy concept. The way they can understand us and communicate back is by something called Natural Language Processing (NLP) software. This allows them to comprehend our words and give accurate responses, just like a human.

Examining how NLP works and has changed the way humans interact with technology is vital to understanding the current and future benefits this can have on society. Voice assistants aren’t going away anytime soon, so let’s investigate the reasons behind their success. 

The robot takeover is on!

Understanding Natural Language Processing

NLP is a key aspect of artificial intelligence (AI). At its core, it makes AI the most human-like it can be. You can think of it like the brains of the operation. It feeds the interaction of language between humans and computers. Without it, there’d be no way for communication to happen.

NLP uses a combination of semantics, active learning, and computer logistics to be able to understand human language. It’s wild that come computer codes can generate human language from a non-living object. Or is it living? 👀 I’ll save that geek debate for another day. 

With the use of NLP, these voice assistants can understand and respond to complex questions. Plus, since it’s always learning it can adjust to your particular accent and the variations of human language. The lengths this technology can go to are unimaginable. AI and NLP are only going to keep evolving their relationship.

Amazon Alexa: The Intelligent Voice Assistant

The example of Amazon Alexa is great because it shows how NLP has evolved and revolutionized the trajectory of voice assistants. The machine learning programming it has within its software is so expansive that it’s one of the best-equipped voice assistants in the world. 

I love the videos of grandparents seeing Alexa in action for the first time because it absolutely blows their minds. I feel their reaction though because it is crazy to think how fast this software has come about. Alexa can accurately respond to queries spoken to her by converting the spoken word to text, extracting vital information, and then generating a spoken response back in mere seconds. 

Alexa uses NLP to answer questions about the weather, traffic delays, and so much more. It can also add notes to your schedule and search the internet for answers to questions you may have. There’s so much this voice assistant can do.

So, now these AI bots can have conversations with us. Oh, how technology has evolved.

B2C Business Growth Due to Use of Digital Marketing Tools

Let me start by saying Happy Fourth of July and Happy Canada Day to both sides of my ancestral sides 🙂. I hope everyone had a great holiday break, but here we are back at it in the working world. Today, I’ll be going over digital marketing within the business-to-consumer (B2C) industry.

B2C is a prominent aspect of the sales world inside the world economy because many sales are done directly between a business and the consumer. From American Eagle to Bath & Body Works, there are numerous businesses that use this model. B2C drives consumerism.

Digital marketing has helped transform the reach this business model has throughout the economy. It’s made it a million times more productive and easier for businesses to connect with their customer base. The benefits digital marketing has had on the B2C industry are enormous, and it’s only going to continue to grow.

So, let’s dive in!

The Evolution of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing was a crazy idea that seemed impossible years ago. It’s something that the famous tv show, The Simpsons, would have likely predicted. Traditional marketing methods seemed like they’d never go out of style. However, the digital transformation of our entire world caused the marketing landscape to change with the times. Marketing automation methods were instituted and there’s no going back now.

Traditional methods, like print media and television or billboard ads have gone out of style. They are being replaced with digital methods, like influencer marketing and social media campaigns. These digital marketing methods are often cheaper and yield better results.

B2C practices require companies to know their customers on a deep level. Digital tools allow them to achieve this with ease with things like search engine optimization (SEO). This lets them target a specific demographic of people that are likely to engage with their brand and content. Traditional methods don’t offer this kind of specification.

Digital marketing techniques, such as social media strategies, email campaigns, and content marketing allow you to attack your audience directly. With these new tools at your disposal, companies jumped all over it to gain an edge over their competition. Digital marketing is the new wave of consumer engagement.

Enhanced Consumer Reach and Engagement

The reach businesses can gain from using digital marketing methods is extreme, not to mention increased engagement available to them as well. Traditional methods limit you to a certain geographical area, whereas the digital world is all interconnected across the globe. This lets you gain access to people wherever you desire.

Online advertising and targeted campaigns through social channels allow you to reach anyone at any time. Plus, the ability to go viral on social media is very intriguing to businesses. Creating content with the ability to go viral can make you gain unmatched ROI. Influencer marketing also lets you attach yourself to a person who already has a large following. These are people you don’t even have to work on reaching because the influencer does it for you.

B2C businesses can segment and target specific consumers online that are likely to engage with them and generate leads. These leads are also more likely to be converted down the sales funnel to become purchasing customers. Digital marketing strategies also allow you to engage with your customers in real-time to generate a line of communication between the brand and the customer. This helps generate relationships and customer loyalty, which is important for a B2C company to be successful.

Personalized Marketing and Customer Experience

A B2C company’s success is based on customer satisfaction and loyalty. If there is no trust built between the customer and the company, then there is no stream of business coming in. That also hurts your brand image in the public eye.

A big advantage of digital marketing is that it allows these B2C businesses to personalize their marketing strategies to make the customer experience the best it can be. Tailored messaging and content that resonates with the target audience is key to driving engagement. The higher the engagement, the more shares the content will get, which leads to even more engagement. It’s a whole cycle.

Digital strategies use analytics and insights to craft the perfect messaging strategy that your audience will engage with. When your customers feel like you understand them, they’ll embrace your brand that much more. You become THEIR brand. This helps build a loyal relationship that can last a lifetime.

Things like personalized emails, product recommendations, and targeted advertisements have become commonplace in the marketing world. These have been proven to generate higher customer satisfaction, a better brand image, and an increase in sales.

Marketing Automation Tools Provide Advantage to Marketers

With so many new digital tools available to marketers nowadays, it can be hard to know which ones will work best for you. One thing is for sure though, digital marketers are licking their chops at what’s available to them to help them do their job.

Marketing automation tools are helping marketers streamline their daily tasks, which allows them to be a lot more efficient. This helps companies save money, while also increasing the effectiveness of their marketing strategies. The positives these new marketing automation tools possess for marketing agencies are enormous.

So, allow me to take you through some of the ways they can help you and your business, as well as give you some examples of these digital tools that you can implement into your organization.

Automating Daily Tasks

With traditional marketing methods going out the window, digital marketing has become the new go-to. These new digital strategies are becoming more effective in reaching targeted audiences and converting customers down the sales funnel. New marketing automation tools are the main reason for this transition.

Daily tasks are now being streamlined with these new digital tools to make the workday that much easier. Repetitive tasks can get old quickly and take up valuable time that can be spent doing more important things. Marketing automation tools allow these mundane tasks to become fully automated and save you loads of time.

Things like email marketing campaigns are an example of what can become fully automated. You can schedule personalized emails to be sent out by your software, which frees up your time to focus on other marketing strategies. If email campaigns interest you, tools like Mailchimp and Hubspot offer great user-friendly interfaces that are great for creating effective email campaigns.

Your social media management can also become fully automated. Scheduling posts, content creation, and analytics can all be done by software rather than by you. Platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer can take care of these things for you, and ensure your online presence is consistent across the board. 

Your time is valuable and marketing automation tools allow you to focus your time on what’s most important.

Lead Nurturing and Personalization

Converting potential customer leads into buyers at the bottom of the sales funnel is the ultimate goal for every organization. Effective marketing campaigns help nurture leads and build strong relationships with potential customers. Marketing automation tools play a major role in providing personalized experiences for your audience.

Tailoring content to appeal to your target audience ensures higher engagement because they’ll feel like you understand them. This helps build a strong relationship between the brand and your customer base. Using customer data will help you perfect your messaging to make sure they resonate with them.

Some platforms like Marketo and Pardot can help increase your ability to convert leads. They can identify possible leads based on data and then guide them through the personalized content you create. These tools help you deliver content at the right time to keep potential customers engaged with your brand and hopefully push them to make a purchase. 

Marketing automation tools take the hard work of continuing to nurture and convert leads off your plate. These digital tools are a helping hand that makes your daily life a lot easier. Converting customers down the funnel is now easier and quicker than ever.

ChatGPT AI Increase in Use With Marketers and Beyond

The marketing landscape has gone through a whirlwind of changes the past few years. With the digital transformation of the industry, marketing methods have become more effective than ever before.

The advancement of technology has allowed marketers to gain easier access to their audience at a cheaper cost. With all the new digital tools available because of this digital transformation, there are numerous ways for marketers to make their jobs easier.

One example of a new digital tool is ChatGPT. This is a new artificial intelligence (AI) platform that does the thinking and writing for you. By simply typing in what you want info on, or written, ChatGPT AI will pop out the answer for you. It’s a great way to streamline your operations and make your life that much easier. Digital marketers can utilize this tool to make their strategies way more effective.

Enhanced Customer Engagement

Customer engagement drives digital marketing plans. Without engagement, the marketing campaign isn’t successful. When engagement rises, the brand loyalty and sales will increase, too. The ChatGPT AI gives marketers the opportunity to generate messages that resonate with their audience. The natural language processing capabilities of ChatGPT AI allows it to simulate real human-like conversations in its writing.

It can answer questions quickly and provide personalized recommendations to help you solve problems. Think of it as a best friend that you can bounce ideas off of. You are able to use this marketing tool to get the thoughts in your head onto the page, which can save you lots of time. 

The final message the platform generates for you can sound just like it was made by a real person. This can make it easily readable and digested by the people who view it. This increases the possibility for engagement and enhances the customer experience. A better experience means that customers will trust you more and foster a long-lasting relationship.

Easy Personalization

Personalization is a key aspect of an effective marketing strategy. ChatGPT AI allows marketers to personalize their messages and content that will attract the eyes and hearts of their audience. People want to feel like organizations understand their needs and wants. Companies can prove they care about their customers by personalizing their messaging strategies.

ChatGPT AI analyzes customer data and searches the web for information in order to create the tailored messages you require. Your personal private investigator is on the case for you 24/7. This level of personalization ChatGPT AI offers you is unreal. It will help you drive engagement and your conversion rates. This software platform does all the hard groundwork for you, so enjoy it!

SEO Marketing is Making Strategies More Effective

Marketers are quickly evolving their methods to utilize all the tools available with technology. Billboards and direct mail are out the window. The internet is now the best channel to use for marketing purposes.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a great marketing tool to use and incorporating it into your marketing strategy can increase its effectiveness. Search engines, like Google, are the go-to source for finding information. Shoppers turn to it to search for products and services every single day. 

By using SEO, businesses can boost their ranking on these search engine sites. Using this tool properly can give your business an edge over competitors in the industry. Exploring all the benefits and features of SEO can help your business thrive and grow to new heights.

Understanding SEO

Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is the process of increasing your company’s website ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). The way to do this is by centering the content on your website around specific keywords. The better you do this, the higher your ranking.

Businesses can increase their chances of appearing higher in search engine rankings by optimizing aspects of their website, such as its content, structure, and backlink profile. The higher up you are on a page, the better chance you have of getting clicks to your site. This can result in more customers and revenue for your business.

SEO mainly focuses on improving visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as these platforms drive the majority of online traffic.

Importance of SEO Marketing

One way SEO can help your company is with enhanced online visibility. When SEO is done correctly, your website will pop up for multiple different search phrases. This makes people see your company more regularly, therefore, increasing your brand awareness. Appearing on the first page of search results significantly improves the chances of attracting organic traffic and potential customers to your website.

SEO also happens to be very cost-effective. Compared to traditional advertising methods, it’s a lot cheaper. It requires mostly time and training, but once you get the hang of it, it can be fairly easy. However, some companies choose to hire professionals for this kind of work. However, It offers long-term benefits to the business because it will increase your organic search traffic without continuous expenses.

Another benefit is that it offers targeted traffic and qualified leads. Using keywords that are relevant to your company and products allow businesses to get the correct traffic flow to their site. This makes it that much more likely that the people visiting your site will be converted into customers. Branded terms within your content can be great for generating this.

B2B Digital Marketing Becoming Popular Choice for Businesses

Competition between businesses is the highest it’s ever been. Especially with the digital transformation society has gone through, companies are thrust more into the forefront of the public eye. As easy as it is to be seen, it’s just as easy to be drowned out by your competitors.

Technology has driven businesses to adjust their marketing strategies. With the world going digital, digital marketing has become the go-to way to reach the desired audience. It’s the best avenue for businesses to expand their reach and grow their following. 

B2B digital marketing has allowed companies to interact with one another and develop relationships. The benefits seem to be endless and constantly evolving. Staying on top of current trends in the marketplace and with technological advancement will allow businesses to stay competitive in this new landscape.

What is B2B Digital Marketing?

B2B digital marketing is the new technological strategy that allows companies to promote their products or services to one another. This involves using digital channels, social platforms, and digital strategies in your marketing campaigns. Unlike B2C marketing which targets individual consumers, B2B marketing focuses on building relationships that share mutual interests.

These relationships allow for partnerships to be built from which each business is able to benefit. Digital marketing allows these companies to easily find potential business partners in their industry. After all, relationships drive business.

B2B digital marketing strategies offer multiple ways of communication. Tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing are a few examples. Even nonprofits are seeing the advantages these strategies can have to help them team up with foundations with similar goals. Marketing efforts have never been easier and more effective.

Some Key Aspects of B2B Digital Marketing

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO plays a vital role in B2B digital marketing. It ensures businesses rank highly in search engine results pages like Google. Businesses can organize content around certain topics and keywords that will boost their ranking. The higher you are on searches, the higher the chance of getting site traffic. This will increase your organic traffic flow and brand awareness to the public. This can help build trust with your audience as a leader in the field.

2. Content Marketing: Sharing valuable and relevant content through blog posts, case studies, and social media posts will help establish your business as a trusted authority within the industry. Creating engaging content that your audience will engage with is key to building their profile. The more clicks you get on your posted content, the more chances you have of generating relationships with potential partners. Content marketing helps nurture these relationships by addressing pain points and providing solutions. This positions you as the solution to their problems.

Video Marketing Use Increase in Current Marketing Strategies

In the new world of digital marketing, videos are taking control. Video marketing is a great way to grab people’s attention and convey your message. However, the key to a great marketing video is to make it quick.

The attention span of people nowadays is not what it used to be. You have to grab their attention fast, otherwise, they’re going to scroll right past your post. The use of short videos is a great way to capture the attention of your target audience.

The benefits of short videos in video marketing are everlasting. Your marketing strategies will forever be more effective by utilizing this exciting new tool.

Captivating Audiences

Grabbing your audience’s attention is the most important first goal of any marketing campaign. When it comes to video marketing, one of the most significant advantages of short videos in marketing is their ability to captivate audiences within a limited timeframe. 

With there being so much information on our social media pages, it can be hard to stand out. Short videos are simple and straight to the point, which allows them to be easily digested by viewers. As long as they’re engaging and visually appealing, they can be effective in captivating audiences. 

Some people don’t believe that you can pile enough information into a video in a short timeframe. However, a quality social media content creator can cram a lot into video shorts, while also telling a story. 

By incorporating visually appealing imagery, compelling storytelling, and concise messaging, marketers can convey their brand’s image effectively. The more shareable the content, the more effective the marketing campaign will be. For example, a funny short video is a great way to grab the attention of your target audience.

Influencer Marketing Overview in 5 Easy Steps

Everywhere you look online you’ll see ads popping up left and right. However, the digital transformation has led to a new kind of advertising in the digital landscape, influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing jobs are all the rage right now. People my age and younger are changing their career path to become famous on social media platforms. Influencers are the new idols the youth are looking up to.

The rise and power of social media has created an expanding market for advertising opportunities. Digital marketers are using the power these social media stars have over their followers to communicate with their target audience. Influencers have the ability to persuade their audience to do what they say because they want to be just like them.

The impact influencer marketing has had on the digital marketing industry is enormous and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Whether it’s b2c or b2b influencer marketing, it’ll have a positive impact on your business.

The Evolution of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can be traced back to the early days of celebrity endorsements. However, with social media becoming super popular, celebrities aren’t the only ones being able to endorse brands. The new age celebrities are social media influencers. They amass enormous followings on their social pages because of whatever niche thing they do.

Some influencers become famous doing things like prank videos, trick shots, or showcasing different beauty techniques. It’s crazy to think how much of our identity gets carved out by these celebrities without us even knowing it. Heck, we even wear their own apparel. Creators like Jake Paul and Dude Perfect are just a couple examples of popular influencers.

Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube have been instrumental in allowing influencer marketing to rise in popularity. Influencers are able to share content 24/7 which gives brands the ability to reach their audience at any moment. The digital world is a great new avenue for digital marketers to pursue.

TikTok influencers are the newest addition to this avenue of marketing and are quickly becoming the most popular. Instagram and YouTube influencer marketing were the original leaders, but TikTok has taken over as the main social marketing platform.

Why Choose Influencer Marketing?

The main benefit of choosing influencer marketing is that your brand can be seen by thousands of people in an instant. There is no easier way to reach a large group of people in a short span of time than through influencers. It’s pretty simple. The reason it’s called influencer marketing is because of the creator’s power of influence over their followers.

There’s the old saying, “if your friends told you to jump off a bridge, would you?” Well, if that friend is a famous social media influencer then the answer is probably yes to most people. The power of persuasion they have over people is truly remarkable. 

Brands look to use this power to their advantage by paying influencers to advertise their products on their social channels. Sometimes they’ll just pay the creator to read a script describing the product and have them tell their followers where to buy it. Other times they’ll have the creator use the product to showcase what it does. 

This creates a desire for the viewers to purchase the product so they can be just like their idol. If the influencer thinks it’s cool then it has to be. This is how marketing influences consumer behavior.

5 Big Challenges Between Traditional and Digital Marketing

The advancement of technology has revolutionized the way businesses approach marketing strategies. Social media and high ticket digital marketing strategies are sweeping the world. Traditional marketing strategies are now facing challenges in being productive in reaching target audiences.

With the whole world living their lives on digital platforms, companies have to come up with new ways to reach them. As a result, digital marketing has become the method of choice. As consumer behavior evolves and technology advances, companies must adapt and integrate traditional and digital marketing approaches.

This is no easy task and is a continuing struggle for many businesses.

Targeting and Personalization

Traditional marketing strategies often rely on mass media platforms such as television, radio, and print advertising to reach their audience. However, this approach isn’t precise in targeting specific consumer segments. The goal of traditional methods was always to reach as many people as possible. In the old days, this was effective in advancing brand awareness.

Digital marketing strategies provide you the opportunity to reach people who will actually interact with your messages. Techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media advertising, and email marketing enable businesses to reach their target audience. This allows businesses to not waste time and resources trying to reach customers who won’t communicate back with them.

However, developing personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with individual consumers can be challenging. This requires you to make significant investment in data analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to help you narrow down your consumer base.

Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)

Traditional marketing strategies can be expensive, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). TV and radio advertising, billboard placements, and print media often involve high costs that may not yield a measurable return on investment. It’s very hard to tell how much ROI you receive from traditional methods.

In contrast, digital marketing strategies offer more cost-effective alternatives. Online advertising platforms, such as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, allow businesses to set budgets and pay only when users engage with their ads. This is why many digital marketing packages are becoming the popular choice. You also get measurable results to see how well your strategies are working, even if it takes longer to measure the long customer journey cycles.

Measurement and Analytics

One of the advantages of digital marketing is the ability to track and measure various metrics in real-time. Digital analytics platforms provide businesses with valuable insights into the performance of their campaigns, including website traffic, conversion rates, click-through rates (CTR), and customer engagement.

Traditional marketing strategies, on the other hand, lack such comprehensive measurement capabilities. Quantifying the impact of traditional marketing efforts becomes challenging, making it difficult to optimize strategies and justify marketing budgets. Bridging the gap between the tangible data of digital marketing and the intangible results of traditional marketing remains a significant challenge for businesses.

Being able to adjust on the fly is a big advantage to digital marketing methods. Measurable data allows marketers to cancel unsuccessful strategies and see what methods work. This allows them to be more efficient and make strategic decisions.

Chatbots Fulfill Multiple Needs in the Business World

As the digital transformation of our society continues, new trends start to emerge. Chatbots are a new craze taking over the internet. It seems like every website uses them nowadays.

They are a great invention brought to us by artificial intelligence. AI continues to revolutionize this new tool to better assist in customer relations. Every industry seems to employ them to aid in customer service and marketing. Customer service will never be the same.

Today, chatbots are driving business and become a staple of the online community.

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence

The commonality of chatbots can be attributed to significant advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies. AI-powered chatbots have evolved from basic rule-based systems to more sophisticated models capable of understanding context, sentiment, and intent. You can thank all the tech nerds for that one. There are now a surplus of artificial intelligence jobs available throughout the world.

These advancements enable chatbots to provide more accurate and relevant responses, improving the overall user experience. As AI technology continues to evolve, chatbots are expected to become even more intelligent and capable of handling complex queries and conversations. The abilities of this new digital tool seems endless.

One of the most famous chatbot advancements is the Chat GPT chatbot. I can speak from experience that it’s a great tool to assist you as a student and an employee. It’s crazy how far we’ve come.

Enhancing Customer Experience

One of the primary reasons for the growing importance of chatbots is their ability to enhance the customer experience. By deploying them on websites and messaging platforms, businesses can offer round-the-clock support, resolving customer queries and concerns in an instant. All users have to do is click the little chatbot icon on the website to use it.

Chatbots provide quick responses, personalized recommendations, and valuable information, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. With their natural language processing capabilities, they can engage in human-like conversations, making interactions more convenient and efficient. This level of engagement fosters stronger customer relationships, increases satisfaction, and encourages repeat business.

Customer engagement drives business success. The conversational interface that chatbots have provides a perfect avenue for businesses to communicate with potential customers. All praise the power of artificial intelligence.

24/7 Availability and Scalability

Unlike humans, chatbots are available 24/7, enabling businesses to offer uninterrupted support to their customers. This round-the-clock availability enhances customer satisfaction and helps capture leads even outside traditional working hours. Chatbots don’t clock in and out for the day. They will be at your service any time, day or night.

Moreover, chatbots can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, making them highly scalable and cost-effective. As businesses grow, chatbots can easily accommodate the increasing volume of customer inquiries without compromising the quality of service. The customization of them makes it easy to adjust their load capacity. If you need any help from a website specialist, just call your friends at MLY.

Cost Reduction and Efficiency

Chatbots have proven to be valuable assets for businesses seeking to streamline operations and reduce costs. By automating repetitive tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions and providing basic information, chatbots free up your human team members’ time to focus on more complex issues. This not only increases operational efficiency but also allows businesses to save on staffing costs.

Yes, the machines are taking over 🙂They can even handle a large number of conversations simultaneously, reducing wait times and speeding up response rates. People hate waiting for customer service representatives to get back to them and answer their questions. Chatbots are able to solve this issue and make the customer experience that much better. Little things like this can keep your customer base coming back.

7 Reasons Why Social Media Helps Drive Digital Marketing

Knowing your way around social media is important for most entry level digital marketing jobs. It lets your bosses have faith in your marketing suggestions.

One reason digital marketers use social media in their campaigns is because it can be hard to tell apart social media vs reality. Its widespread reach gives marketers a great way to reach a massive audience. Using social media to support activities gives brands the ability to communicate with their audience 24/7.

Digital marketing strategies have been a lot more effective since the rise of this new marketing channel. So, enjoy another one of my digital marketing blogs on the subject 😀.

Impact on Consumer Behavior

Customer bases will make a lot of purchasing decisions based on what they see on social media outlets. Businesses can market directly to the consumer and interact with them. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become a big part of people’s lives. Getting help managing your social media presence is starting to be included in manu digital marketing packages.

They enable businesses to gather insights about their target audience’s interests, and preferences. This allows them to make their marketing campaigns way more effective. These platforms also give consumers the power to share their reviews and experiences with brands. This gives brands free word of mouth advertising. The next time someone says, “time to check my social media,” they’ll see your brand on the front page.

Building Brand Loyalty 

Digital marketing strategies are way more effective when they use the power of social media. Interacting with customers on social platforms allows businesses to build a relationship with their audience. This can give the business a loyal customer base.

To do this, you have to share compelling content. This can create a positive customer experience and keep them coming back. If brands showcase their values through their posts they can relate to their customers. This helps them create that loyal customer base. This sense of loyalty is especially important in b2b digital marketing strategies.

Elevates Business Success

There are multiple ways you can use a social media forum to communicate with customers. One way is content marketing. Businesses can create and share content that both educates and entertains their followers. This content can be articles, videos, or photos that are designed to engage the audience and drive them to take a certain action.

Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular methods for digital marketers. Partnering with viral influencers allows companies to engage larger audiences and increase their reach. These influencers also hold a serious sway over their follower’s actions. This can help drive business towards your company’s website when they promote your products. It also gives your brand that much more credibility.

Social media advertising has become so popular that platforms have their own ad software. This allows companies to choose a specific demographic to go after. Things like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and LinkedIn Ads provide some great targeting options. This increases the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. If you’re a social media intern reading this, take some notes!

Metaverse Captivating Marketing Minds Around the Globe

The metaverse is a brand new advertising environment. Personally, I don’t use the metaverse. However, I used to have a roommate who loved hanging out there and got to test it out myself a few times.

Companies have realized that they can attract more people’s attention inside this virtual world. The metaverse has become a completely monetized virtual world.

New Opportunities

The metaverse is the latest digital tool brought to us in this new digital age. Its augmented reality engages users in tons of activities. This gives companies a path to new advertising opportunities. It allows advertising to be integrated into the user experience.

Imagine a digital version of Times Square with company ads and stores. Companies can put their metaverse logo on these stores and billboards within the game. This gives users the ability to engage with multiple brands at a time and increases brand awareness. As everyone learns how to access the metaverse it’ll continue to grow in popularity.

Personalized Brand Experiences

One of the key advantages of advertising in the metaverse is the ability to create personalized brand experiences. By utilizing user data and preferences, advertisers can deliver content that resonates with individual users. Personalization has the power to enhance the brand image. Inside this environment users don’t even realize they’re being marketed to. This increases the effectiveness of the marketing.

One way to create a personalized experience is with an interactive marketing strategy. Things like product demos and metaverse games can get people involved with your brand. Brands can use games to grab the attention of potential customers for long periods of time. This can create a positive customer experience and help develop a solid relationship.

Using Viral Influencers

Viral influencers have become the new popular choice for brand ambassadors. Whether it’s famous personalities or TikTok influencers, they are taking over the metaverse. These personalities attract substantial followers and hold significant influence over their audience. Their followers will generally listen to whatever they say.

Advertisers can collaborate with viral influencers to promote their products within this virtual world. These influencers leverage their reach and engage their audience with storytelling to get users to purchase a brand’s products. The integration of branded content with viral influencers can make it hard to tell what’s real and fake. These promoted narratives create authentic and engaging experiences for users.

Remote Work has Transformed the Marketing Industry Forever

The covid pandemic changed the world in so many ways. For businesses, it completely changed the way they conducted their daily activities. Even with the pandemic being over, business activities have not gone back to normal. There is now a “new normal,” called remote work.

Remote work brought a lot of challenges at first. It was very hard for people to adjust because it was normal for people to go into the office to do their job. Now, everything can be done via technology. Employees are even getting work-from-home equipment provided by their employers.

For marketers, it led to new challenges on how to reach their target audience. The more time people are spending indoors means they are less likely to see the stereotypical billboard-type ads. Therefore, marketing operations and strategies had to be overhauled and adjusted to fit this new culture. Even though it was hard, it greatly advanced the field of marketing.

The change to remote work has had some great benefits to the marketing industry:

Digital Transformation

The working world has gone through a digital transformation. Working from home caused companies and employees to utilize technology to do their daily activities. This also caused technology to quickly advance to keep up with the demand of the working world. For marketers, it made them have to look to technology tools to interact with their customers. With limited physical interactions, businesses have turned to digital marketing channels to communicate their messages. Online advertising, email marketing, and creating content to post on social media have become the main ways to reach a desired audience.

Virtual Events and Webinars

The cancellation of in-person events led to the rise in popularity of virtual events and webinars. This hasn’t gone away. Marketers have shifted to online forums to host conferences, product launches, and webinars to connect with their audience. These virtual events give marketers the ability to expand their reach and connect with new people. The ability to work from anywhere allows people to hop on these calls all the way from a beach in Tijuana to a coffee shop in Chicago. There’s no longer the need to come up with excuses to work from home or take a vacation. Just take your laptop and log on from wherever you are. Remote work has made people’s work-life balance a lot better.

E-commerce Growth

With people always on their computers, e-commerce has grown in popularity. I’m sure we’ve all taken a break from working at home to go browse for some clothes or place a grocery order. I’m not even going to lie, remote work has made this a lot more common for me (hopefully my boss doesn’t see this). Marketers have adjusted their strategies to this trend and have gotten creative about where they place advertisements online. To increase sales through e-commerce platforms, marketing strategies have incorporated CRM and marketing automation tools to make customer experiences better. E-commerce is way easier for consumers and isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

Social Media Engagement

Ahh social media. In case you haven’t noticed, social media is very popular nowadays. If you are that much in the dark, click here to watch one of the most popular dogs on the internet and you’ll see what I mean. With people spending more time at home, social media usage has skyrocketed. Remote work has just increased the time we spend scrolling. Therefore, marketers have strengthened the social media presence of their business.

They also expanded the ways they engage with customers on social media platforms. It could be things like posting great content and responding to people in the comments or using customer service chatbots to assist in customer questions. Influencer marketing is another popular tool that has changed the marketing game. Popular online personalities are able to drive business to your brand by advertising it on their platforms that have thousands and millions of subscribers. All of this enhances the customer experience and generates a loyal customer base.

The Best Website Design Always Wins

The digital world has brought us many great things, like Youtube and Facebook. For businesses, it’s brought a whole new slew of opportunities. Business owners can now contact customers in so many new ways and generate business in the e-commerce landscape.

In order to be effective at this you must have a high quality website. Website design plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of a website and sets you apart from the competition. The goal of any website is to generate traffic and engagement from potential customers. 

This can be a very hard and confusing process, especially if you’re not tech savvy. So, let me give you some key features of how an effective website design can boost your business’ success. After all, I do work for a Chicago web design company.

1. First Impressions

We’ve all been told from an early age that first impressions are everything. This is even more important in the business world because trust is everything. If your website doesn’t give off a professional look or get your company message across then you’ve failed. The design of your website is the first thing visitors notice when they click on your site. It takes just a few seconds for users to form an opinion about your website and decide whether to stay or leave. Therefore, you want to make sure you have very responsive web design services. The last thing you want is lagging on your site. 

When creating a website, you’ll also want to make sure that it’s visually appealing. People want it to be easy on their eyes and not overwhelming. So, if you’re getting help from a website builder make sure you make this priority number one. A well-designed website can create a positive first impression and engage visitors for years to come.

2. UX

User experience, also known as UX, is a major part of website design. Heck, UX jobs are needed now more than ever, too. Great web design can positively influence the user experience. You want your customers to engage with your website and click around to all your pages. A professional website will generally have “about us”, “contact”, and “product” pages within the website. So, you’ll want your website to be easy to navigate and find information. This makes the customer like your brand that much more and will make them want to come back. 

UX design aims to produce a friendly user interface design that customers will enjoy and not have to use too much brain power to use. If you succeed in this then visitors will stay longer on your site, which increases the chances of conversions.

3. Branding

Your website design is a reflection of your brand’s identity. The web page should use the same color scheme, logo font, and aesthetics that your brand gives off. You want cohesion between your business and the website. It’s important to use visual elements like your company logo and product photos that allow your website visitors to identify your brand. High quality visual design elements can effectively increase your brand awareness and make customers remember you. Websites are free branding, so use it!

4. Mobile Responsiveness

One piece of technology that people always have on them is their cell phones. With the increasing use of mobile devices, it’s crucial to have a website design that is responsive and optimized for different screen sizes. You’d be surprised at how many websites don’t work as effectively on phones but are good on computers. Things like layout, loading time, and visual elements are all thrown off and slower. A mobile-friendly design ensures that your website looks and functions well on smartphones and tablets. This provides a positive experience for mobile users and lets customers roam your site from any location.

Elevate Your B2B Marketing Strategy Now

It’s time I finally talk about B2B marketing. This is also known as business to business marketing, and involves the marketing of products to other businesses.

B2B marketers usually focus on highlighting the value and benefits of their products to these businesses. Their main goal is to show that they can solve specific challenges in your business that will increase your profits.

For other B2B businesses, they may act as a middleman that helps supply different products to businesses. For them, they’ll highlight their efficiency and plethora of products they have connections to.

Business to business marketing involves a more personalized communication and targeted approach compared to business to consumer marketing. Their communication strategies may include various channels and tactics to attract businesses. Things like SEO, trade shows, social media, and direct sales can be highly effective. These include some different strategies than you may see in B2C marketing.

If you’re down for it, let’s run through some basic characteristics of how to build effective B2B marketing strategies:

1. Relationship Building

B2B marketing emphasizes on building strong relationships with other business owners. You can find new avenues for relationship building at trade shows, networking events, or just shooting your shot in one on one interactions. These relationships are grown from trust, expertise, and mutual interests where you can benefit from one another. 

In order to develop this relationship you have to prove your worth and capitalize on opportunities given to you. If you get the chance to expand with smaller sales, take it! These sales can increase if you deliver on your promises and a long-term relationship can form.

2. Adapting

The sales cycle in B2B marketing can be a lot longer because of all the people involved in the process. This creates the need for constant adaptation. You must always be monitoring the market to stay on top of trends and what your competitors are doing. This will help you speed up the sales process because you’ll know what to expect.

Being light on your feet can help you be quick at adjusting your strategies and will help you to remain relevant and competitive. It’s also important to always embrace new technology innovations because you never know what could help you enhance your B2B marketing strategy effectiveness.

3. Return on Investment

B2B marketers like to point out how they can help businesses increase their return on investment. This helps them make sales and close deals. Increasing revenue is always a big selling point. People want to make money, so if you can help them do that then you’re in. To do this, you need to make sure your own strategies are highly effective. The old saying, “make sure your own house is clean before you try to fix ours,” is very relevant here. If you have a strategy that works then you’ll be good at closing sales.

4. Finding Your Niche

Effective B2B marketing involves identifying the specific industry that will benefit from your products. Within this industry you can start finding companies to sell your products to. Most B2B marketing efforts are tailored to a specific niche because it makes the marketing process a lot easier. This allows them to deeply understand their customer base to fill a specific need. Filling a niche part of the marketplace allows them to get a foothold in the market and continue to make sales.

Overview of Some Excellent CRM Platforms

The ultimate aim of customer relationship management is to make your processes easier and increase your relationship with your customers. Therefore, choosing the correct cloud CRM platform for your business is a big priority. However, with so many options out there for you to choose from, it can be a very stressful process. You want an easy CRM system that covers all your needs for a reasonable price.

So, which one is the best fit for you? Insert Stephen, your CRM administrator, to answer all your questions. I’ll take you through some popular CRM platforms to help you see a few of the options that are available to you.


Salesforce is one of the most popular CRM tools because of its easy integration with other applications. It’s used by numerous businesses, and I just learned my uncle uses it for his business down in Florida. This is not a paid advertisement, but he does love it.

For one, it’s customizable. It can be adjusted to fit all the needs of your business. You’ll be able to create custom fields and workflows to match your processes and goals. It also utilizes multi-channel marketing with its wide range of marketing automation tools. This allows you to create and manage campaigns across multiple channels, such as email, social media, and mobile. You can also read the analytics that will help you adjust and collaborate with your sales and marketing teams. 

Salesforce also assists you with customer support by giving you tools to organize customer complaints and service portals. This increases your effectiveness at making customer interactions pleasant. It’s great for making programs and operations simple for everyone and connecting with the community. It’s great for the education community and nonprofits.


HubSpot offers free CRM software, as well as paid plans that include additional marketing, sales, and customer service features. If I worked for HubSpot, I would market the lite version as, ”free CRM for nonprofits.” It could be a great starting point for any nonprofit because this version offers CRM, email marketing, and analytic tools.

One differentiating tool HubSpot uses is inbound marketing. Content creation, social media, and SEO tools will help your business attract potential customers. It also offers great sales management tools and marketing analytics to assist your sales teams. Knowing everything about your customer base can help you develop effective campaigns and develop a loyal customer base.

The great customer service features also set HubSpot apart. It has a ticketing system and a live chat option to help you assist your customers. This and the free version make HubSpot stand out from the rest.

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM offers a whole suite of applications that can easily integrate with other platforms. It includes analytics, sales, and marketing tools to help you with digital marketing campaigns. Its project management feature allows you to track and collaborate on projects with your employees. The customer service software has a live chat and help desk to assist customers daily.

Zoho’s Productivity Suite is easy to use. It contains spreadsheets, word processing, and presentation software to make your team’s jobs that much easier. They are very similar to Microsoft Office and Google Workspace, so it should be easy for your team members to get the hang of.

At MLY, we use Zoho for some of our applications and media strategies, and we’ve really enjoyed it. Another unpaid promotion. It’s a great CRM solution for any big or small business. You can even get recruiting help and design your own application to use within your business. Zoho has so many great options you’d have to go check it out for yourself.


Pipedrive is a simple and easy CRM platform that mainly helps the sales side of the business. If your main goal is to increase revenue, then Pipedrive is for you. They offer pipeline management tools that allow you to track deals throughout the entire sales process. It also helps you perform follow-ups and lead scoring. 

Pipedrive can easily be integrated and used alongside other tools you may use. Its customization lets you set up your own sales pipeline and process that’s unique to your business. It uses data analytics to give you suggestions on how to improve sales constantly. This allows you to refine your strategies to better target your audience and significantly improve the sales of your business.

10 Easy CRM Features to Boost Your Customer Experience

For those of you who may not know, CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management. This refers to the ways in which businesses interact with their customers. This involves any method of communicating with your audience, as well as the technology you use to increase the effectiveness of your strategies.

CRM strategies can help you improve every aspect of your company. The age old saying, “the customer is always right,” comes into play here. Customers are at the root of any successful business. You need to reach them and convert potential customers into loyal customers. CRM systems can help you do this in many ways. 

We use CRM throughout our whole company, so you may as well call us CRM Software Monday Loves You. So, I’m going to share with you 10 easy CRM features to help you better understand the benefits it can have for you.

1. Identify Your Customer Segments

The first step in any CRM strategy is to identify your customer segments. You need to know your customer’s preferences like the back of your hand. Things like age, location and behavior are important targeting factors to include. Once you have identified your ideal customer base, you can tailor your messaging to attract them. This will help you have the most effective marketing campaign.

2. Use Automation Tools

One super cool thing about CRM solutions is the fun tools you get to use. The automation tools can save you time and increase your efficiency with managing your customer relationships. CRM strategies are great for assisting in customer service. Technology will do the work for you, like sending emails and follow-up surveys to your customer base. This gives you the extra time to focus on building relationships with your customers to elevate the customer experience.

3. Personalize Your Communication

Personalized communication is a great way to build customer relationships. Customers want to feel valued and appreciated, so it’s your job to make them feel this way. Artificial intelligence is a great tool in personalization. AI CRM systems can assist you with creating messaging strategies that will engage your customer base. Little things like sending individual customers coupons on their birthday can go a long way in maintaining customer loyalty. CRM tools are your right hand man in customer communication and can benefit your customer service and sales teams.

4. Offer Excellent Customer Support

No one enjoys waiting on hold for customer support. It’s one of the most annoying things to do. One of the great CRM properties is that it can enhance this process and make it easier for you and your customers. Customer service teams can be swarmed in calls and emails for unhappy customers. To help with this, CRM systems can be set up to make it easy for customers to get questions answered quickly. This automation tool can help take stress off your team members, as well as allowing customers to get answers ASAP. Overall, it gives a better customer experience.

5. Utilize Customer Data

A key element of customer relationship management is to use data. If used correctly, customer data can have a huge impact on your business. Knowing your customer’s buying behavior will let you know what to market to them. Things like website visits, purchases and social media engagement can all be tracked with CRM systems. It will then use this data to show you what your customers are liking the most. This information can help you better your sales and marketing strategies.

Artificial Intelligence Surge in the Marketing Industry

The term artificial intelligence has become a widespread phenomenon across the world. From students to businessmen, AI is changing the way we do things. Heck, I even use it. 

When it comes to marketing, the artificial intelligence benefits are having a massive impact on the industry. It’s improving the effectiveness of marketing strategies and helping marketers accomplish tasks at a faster rate. 

Is artificial intelligence a new topic for you? If so, I suggest you take a look at some ways it can help enhance your own marketing strategies. 


Creativity is one of the most fun aspects of marketing. Coming up with campaign ideas and strategies are what marketers die for. Artificial intelligence is a great tool that helps you with the creation of these campaign strategies.

Artificial intelligence processes things like consumer behavior and demographics to help you out. It’ll give you marketing recommendations based on the data it analyzes to enhance your consumer knowledge. You want to know your customers inside and out to be able to gain their trust and make them loyal. The personalized AI content will help you attract more potential customers and give them a great experience.

Analytical Predictions

One great artificial intelligence benefit is that it can predict future behavior by using past data samples from market research. These consumer insights are helping marketers develop highly effective marketing campaigns.

Marketers are then able to adjust their marketing strategy to attract the group of people most likely to engage and purchase their product. They are also able to choose the best method of communicating their message to their target audience. This will get you the highest engagement possible.


Chatbots have become your robot best friend. You can interact with them just like you would with a real person. These chatbots are great to bounce ideas off of and can help you generate new marketing plans.

You can also use chatbots in your own business by putting them within your website and social media platforms. Your customers can interact with them to get assistance whenever they need it. This gives your customers a great experience and saves you the hassle of having to answer consumer questions everyday.

Positive Impact of Digital Marketing Firms on Nonprofits

Digital marketing has become a great tool for nonprofit organizations. Years ago, digital marketing firms weren’t even a thought but are now a staple of the marketing industry. Effective digital marketing plans can increase your brand awareness and bring more supporters to aid in your cause.

Let’s take a look at some ways a digital marketing firm can help you expand your nonprofit’s reach!

Let the people know about you

Nonprofits need their community to know about them. You need to let everyone know about your cause so that you get as many donations as possible. Digital marketing strategies like SEO and social media allow you to broadcast your message everywhere. This increases your visibility within the area you’re in and lets your supporters learn about your cause. This will engage more support from people and allow you to have a greater impact on the community.

Cheaper and better

Traditional marketing methods are very expensive compared to digital marketing. Since many nonprofits have tighter budgets they’ll need to use digital strategies as their main marketing plan. Reaching more people more effectively for less money is a total win. Whether it’s with email marketing or social media strategies, your nonprofit will be able to effectively communicate with your audience.

Relationship with the community

Every nonprofit needs to have a solid relationship with their community to be successful. Digital marketing strategies give you a great way for you to build these relationships with your supporters. The way to build this sense of trust within the community is to have conversations with them through your messaging.

Social media is a great way to do this because it’ll allow for a back and forth conversation. Showing them the importance of your mission and the positive impact you’re having is a great way to gain their support. Having a loyal following allows you to keep growing and have more positive impacts on the community.

Online fundraising

A popular trend with nonprofits has been online donations through social media. People can even start their own fundraisers for a charity of their choice on Facebook. Their simplicity is the main driving force behind their popularity because people can donate through their phones or laptops in seconds.

Through these campaigns you’ll also be able to tell people why their donation is important. Sharing your nonprofit’s mission is key in driving donations because people want to know the impact they are having. Online donations are a great way for you to reach your marketing goals and elevate your funds for future endeavors.

Alternative methods

During the pandemic nonprofits had to get creative when it came to fundraising. Virtual events became a normal thing for organizations to run. This allowed them to still engage with their audience even when they couldn’t do it in person. Digital marketing through social media was the main strategy to help publicize these events and engage with their supporters. It became a great way to create a dialogue and gain feedback on the events. It also allowed nonprofits to stay in the public eye even from home.

An Effective Digital Strategy Can Grow Your Small Business

Who’s ready for a discussion on small businesses and their need for an effective digital strategy? Well, whether you’re ready or not, here we go!

Digital strategies are giving small businesses the chance to compete with the big boys. They are finally able to stand out from the crowd and effectively reach their target audience on a wider scale.

So, I’m going to help you out and give you some reasons on why you should use digital strategies within your small business:

1.     Set business goals

As a small business owner, setting future goals gives you something to work towards. Digital strategies are a great way to help you reach these goals faster and more effectively. Laying out a step by step business plan lets you choose your digital strategy accurately. Increasing brand awareness and driving sales growth require two different strategies.  Identifying which tactics and social channels to use are a major part of the digital marketing strategy for small businesses.

2.     Define your target audience

Knowing your customer base inside and out will help you tailor messages that they’ll like. Cat people don’t want to see pictures of dogs on their timelines. What can you offer your customers that’ll intrigue them? This is the million dollar question. Perform some market research on your target audience to find this information out. This will help you create a more personalized and effective digital strategy.

3.     Data is a friend

Data analytics are being used more in this digital world everyday. Analyzing your current digital presence will let you see what is working and what isn’t. Improving your digital footprint can increase engagement with your audience. You may see you need to increase your social media involvement or optimize your website. Opportunities for improvement are everywhere! Just look at the data and decide what’s best for you and your digital strategy.

4.     Choose your digital channels

Based on your small business plan you’ve developed, you can choose the digital channels that will be most effective for you to reach your target market. Once you complete the market analysis, you’ll have the information necessary to decide. This could include things like social media platforms, email marketing, paid advertising, and more. Make sure you listen to the research and trust the analysis so you can make the best choice possible for your small business.

5.     Create a content strategy

Deciding on what kind of content to produce is vital to your small business strategy. To decide, you need to know what your audience wants to see. This aligns with your digital channels you’ve chosen. The best digital strategies always have a combination of methods. Online marketing with ads, social media marketing, and influencer marketing are a few examples. Find what works best for you, and start creating!

10 Current Nonprofit Trends for 2023

Hey all! Ready to take a journey to the world of nonprofits? Let’s go!

Nonprofit organizations have become increasingly important and more common in our society. They simply exist to provide goods and services to people who are in need and could use a helping hand. Nonprofits cover areas such as humanitarian aid, social justice, environmental conservation and education. Throughout the world there are nonprofits working 24/7 to make the world a better place. Who wouldn’t want that? 

As the world evolves every day, nonprofits have to stay up to date on the current trends. This way, they can engage with the public and gain funding for their mission.

So, let’s dive into the topic of current nonprofit trends for 2023!

1. Work Together

Nonprofits collaboration is huge! The best way to achieve success is to combine your efforts with another organization. The nonprofit industry is vast, so finding another organization that shares a similar mission can be easy. Forming a strategic collaboration that focuses on shared goals, resources, and outcomes can help you gain steam. This will help your organization extend the reach and impact you can have. It will also help reduce your operational costs by splitting with the other nonprofit. Some examples of collabs are partnerships, mergers, and strategic alliances. Don’t be scared to reach out for help because you may find a new friend.

2. Technology is your friend!

Technology is elevating the effectiveness of nonprofits. It can increase your fundraising and help you create a more effective nonprofit strategy. Developing a nonprofit strategic plan is also easier now than ever before. Saving time throughout the whole process is invaluable for you as the leader. With this flexible work, you can use data analytics to gain real time insights. Technology is a friend and can help you have a greater impact on the world.

3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Nonprofits are incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many organizations are taking steps to ensure that their organization is representative of the communities they serve. They are also taking steps to make sure their mission is inclusive. No matter the issue at hand, being a voice for the unheard will boost your organization to the forefront. This will make your nonprofit organization even stronger and increase your impact.

4. Brand Image

You’re doing great work, so why not show it? People want to see the good work that you’re doing, so tell them all about it. People who give to you want to know that their money is going towards something meaningful. Bring them along for the ride and they will continue to help you out. This will help you create a big family with everyone you’ve touched. By sharing your activities with the public you can gain their trust and increase your donor retention.

5 Biggest Challenges With CRM

Hey there, folks! Let’s talk about customer relationship management software, or as the cool kids call it, CRM. This type of software has become an essential tool for businesses looking to manage their customer interactions effectively. However, businesses looking to implement this software may face many hiccups along the way.

So, what are the biggest challenges in implementing CRM software? Let’s find out!

Challenge #1: Resistance to Change

Humans are creatures of habit, and change can be scary. Implementing CRM software means employees have to adjust their ways and learn a whole new system, which can be slow and met with resistance. Like your grandpa says, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. After all, who wants to learn a new system when they’re comfortable doing things a certain way for years?

Solution: Training, Training, Training!

To overcome resistance to change, businesses need to provide extensive training to their employees. Training should be ongoing, interactive, and accessible to everyone. Adding incentives for employees who use the new software can also help the transition. 

Challenge #2: Integration Issues

CRM software often needs to integrate with other business systems, such as marketing automation and sales software. This is to create a cohesive family amongst your software. However, integration can be challenging, especially when dealing with the old geezer legacy systems.

Solution: Seek Professional Help

When it comes to integrating systems, seeking professional help can be the best option. Businesses should work with their CRM software vendor or a reputable integration partner, like your friends at MLY, to ensure a seamless integration process.

8 Ways Marketing Improved from Digital Transformation

There’s a takeover happening, and it’s not one you can see. Digital Transformation is redefining how we all do business, and has become a big topic in the marketing industry. With marketers needing to communicate with their customer base more than ever before, technology has become their go to tool. So, I’m here to give you some reasons on why digital transformation is doing great things for the industry and can help you take your business to the next level!

What is Digital Transformation?

First off, what the heck is digital transformation? This is the broad term we use for the increased use of technology inside businesses. Tools like data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping marketers serve their clients. The use of digital technology is essential in this 21st century world for communicating with your target audience and standing out from your competition.

8 Reasons Digital Transformation is Improving Marketing Strategies and Customer Relations

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

In an era where media is circulating 24/7, customers are demanding instant responses from their favorite brands. Digital transformation has made the marketing process 100 times faster by making companies closer with their customers and increasing the amount of data available. Companies can release campaigns and communicate with their audience with just one click.

Improved Customer Experience

A quality customer experience creates loyalty between a brand and the consumer. Since marketers can gain insights into customer needs and wants, they can change their messaging and campaign strategies to fit that specific audience. This makes the customer feel like the company truly knows them. Therefore, the customer will enjoy their experience and come back again!

Greater Reach and Visibility

Nowadays, EVERYONE is on their phones. You need to take advantage of social profiles to communicate with your customers through their favorite platforms. Advertising directly to the consumer will give you greater visibility and reach.

Data Advantage

There is data overload in the marketing world today. Analytics are a driving force behind the effectiveness of marketing strategies today.  Marketers are able to see what engagement strategies work and find the best ways to engage with their customers. 

Top 10 Benefits of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a game-changing technology for businesses of all sizes. It is a software solution that allows organizations to automate repetitive marketing tasks and workflows. Things such as email marketing, social media management, lead nurturing, and more can all be done in a jiffy. Marketing automation has become increasingly popular in recent years for many good reasons. What can I say? People love efficiency.

Here are the top 10 benefits of marketing automation:

1.     Saves Time

Marketing automation eliminates the need for manual and repetitive marketing tasks, allowing marketers to focus on more important work. This means that businesses can save time and money while still achieving the same or even better results.

2.     Higher Efficiency

Your business will see your workplace move a lot faster after using marketing automation tools. From the beginning to the end of the strategy, efficiency will be higher than before. Human errors will be minimal and by streamlining your operations your efficiency will skyrocket.

3.     Time Saver

With technology taking over everyday tasks, you’ll have lots of free time to focus on more important duties. Things like developing marketing strategies and creating content are way more fun. So, use this extra time to get back to enjoying your job.

4.     Customer Engagement

Every business values customer engagement because more engagement usually means more sales. Automating your marketing strategies will help you figure out how to reach them and develop a great relationship.

Newest Trends in Digital Transformation

Hey there, fellow tech enthusiasts! I have dedicated my whole life to all things digital, and I love staying up to date on all the new trends in the tech world. So, allow me to fill you in on the latest trends in this digital transformation we’re seeing today. Make sure to grab a cup of coffee and find a comfy chair because we are going on a fun-filled ride!

First, let’s discuss the ginormous elephant in the room: the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition of digital technologies into almost every industry in the world. In order to stay open, businesses had to be moved online. Employees had to get used to working from home and using technology to do their work. This has now become the normal work environment we are all used to. A comfy couch, snacks, and a coffee, what more could I want?

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries, today. This is causing many stores to close their doors. Personally, I love online shopping because it’s quick and easy. I also know I’m not the only one who feels this way. So, if your company hasn’t set up an online store, I suggest jumping on the bandwagon!

Many of us know about AI, but have you seen the leaps it’s made? We’re seeing a lot more businesses utilizing it today than ever before. AI is revolutionizing the way we do business for the better. It’s safe to say all the movies were right because the robots are finally taking over. I mean, who wouldn’t want a virtual assistant to help them with their work, right?

Another trend we’re seeing is the move towards cloud-based solutions. With remote work becoming the norm, cloud-based tools are a great way to ensure that everyone on your team has access to the same information, no matter where they are. Plus, cloud-based solutions will grow with your business. There’s no limit to the storage on the cloud, so you’ll have plenty of room for those silly cat videos to get you through your workday. No matter the size of your business, the cloud has got your back.

Why You Should Use the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack

Hey there reader! Are you looking for an all-inclusive and user-friendly CRM solution for your nonprofit organization? Look no further than Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack. Or, as the cool kids call it, NPSP. 

NPSP is a powerful CRM tool designed specifically for nonprofits. Does an upgrade of your operations, increased fundraising, and an improvement of your charity’s impact sound cool to you? If you answered yes, keep reading.

5 Benefits of NPSP:

1. Make it Personal

Everyone wants something to call their own. This doesn’t change with software. Business owners want a system in place that speaks to them and their needs. With NPSP, you get that customization. No matter the size of your charity or foundation, NPSP has options for you. There are multiple ways to track your organization’s status, so you’re never left wanting more. Set goals, read reports, and so much more. You can also set up workflows and automations that help you save time and resources.

2. Easy Integration

When using a new system you want it to be stress-free. NPSP simply integrates with other tools you may already be using, such as email marketing or donation processing systems. By combining these, you gain insights that will help you make even better decisions and improve your marketing strategies going forward.

Top 10 Rules for Selecting the Right CRM System

As an executive director, selecting the right constituent relationship management (CRM) system is crucial for the success of your organization. The correct system can help you manage your relationships with donors, volunteers, and stakeholders, as well as streamline your operations. However, choosing the right system can be overwhelming.

Luckily, I’m here to give you the top 10 things to consider when choosing a new CRM system for your company.

Ability to Grow

When deciding on a CRM system, you have to consider the future of your business. Having a system that grows and adapts to meet your needs as your company expands is crucial.

Smooth Integration

The ideal CRM system should be able to integrate with the current software you already use, such as your accounting and marketing software. The ability to merge systems will help you create one cohesive unit throughout your operation.


Don’t lose your data! The data in your CRM system is yours to keep and no one else should have access. So, you need a solid system that makes security a priority and won’t let anyone else have access to your information.


Making sure your staff can be confident in using the CRM system is crucial. So, you must select a system that is user-friendly and easy to teach. A complicated system will only lead to employee frustration and decreased efficiency and morale.


Your CRM system needs to reflect the uniqueness of your organization. Look for a system that can be customized to meet your specific needs and requirements.

A Digital Transformation Consulting Checklist

Digital transformation consulting can sound daunting, and there are many articles that make it sound way more complicated than what it should be. At its core – it’s changing how organizations use digital to optimize how they work. It’s improving how they communicate to their customers at every touchpoint – from their site to their email communications. It’s improving how they use marketing automation and CRM to scale. It’s taking a data-driven approach to competition, so you can learn what makes them tick, so franky – you can do it better. 

It’s examining how people and processes relate to technology, and ensuring user adoption is at the forefront. The below provides a brief checklist on finding the best consulting firm possible.

Ideas are easy, implementation is hard – and your digital transformation consulting team should do both.

Nobody wants to spend heaps of funds to only get a loosely coupled PowerPoint deck that’s full of digital technology recommendations without any plan of actually implementing what’s possible. Strategy is imperative, but strategy alone doesn’t spark change. We’ve heard many horror stories when months were spent on strategy, and there was no actual ‘doing’. Strategy consulting is great, but it’s implementing what’s found during discovery that’s going to transform your employee and customer experiences.

They should be at the intersection of KPIs and employee delight.

Your KPIs should be defined, measurable and obtainable. Any digital transformation strategy should have these clearly outlined and tracked at every major milestone. However, what’s often missed is understanding the mundane and tedious tasks that diminish overall employee satisfaction. Understanding what’s needed at different levels of the organization is not just a nice-to-have, it’s mission critical. Happier employees lead to a more productive workspace. It’s using digital to augment how you work.

Keep your business model at the forefront.

Proper consulting services either have experience in your particular vertical, or they have the skills to quickly learn the ins and outs of what makes your business tick. They should come to the table with ways to get more qualified leads and ways to deepen relationships with existing customers. 

Know your competition as well as they know you.

There are numerous KPIs that can be explored using a wealth of different tools and technology. For example, gain a solid understanding of their domain authority, know their backlink/ off-page SEO strategy, understand what content is positively impacting their search rankings, and much more. By starting at the industry-level, and drilling down into the needed detail – a proper digital transformation strategy will be inclusive of doing what’s making your competition effective, except doing it way better.

WCAG 2.0 and Web Accessibility in Plain English

WCAG 2.0 and Web Accessibility in Plain English

You wake up in the morning, and perhaps you grab your phone from your nightstand (because heaven forbid a phone be too far away from us!), and you comb through your emails. You see one from your friend that has a link to a website of cats playing pianos. You click on it, but you can’t experience anything because you’re experiencing blindness, or perhaps deafness. Your morning is totally ruined because your friends were able to enjoy Muffin the Cat playing Beethoven’s finest piano sonata. But – you’re left in the cold due to poor web accessibility.

Now let’s take it up a notch.

Imagine going into a meeting. You’re up for a promotion, but you need to do some competitor analysis that involves going to their websites (amongst others) and doing your own digital recon. Your colleague is able to seamlessly do so, but – you can’t, because you may have learning difficulties or challenges that prevent you from experiencing the web just like your peers. So you lose the promotion, all due to issues that could have been addressed with proper web accessibility.

Web accessibility is causing a greater divide in what’s now a basic right: access to digital information.

Similar to my post around PCI Compliance, I’ll give you a brief history of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).


W3C: “Hi, we’re W3C, and we stand for the World Wide Web Consortium, and it’s the year 1994. We’re a group of smart people that set standards for the interwebs. So instead of having a zillion types of image types, we’ve decided the main web image types will be stuff like . JPG, PNG, and of course. GIF files, so you can watch monkeys riding on top of turtles on an endless loop.”


Internet: ” It’s now 1999, and I’m now totally -inaccessible for so many people. It doesn’t make sense that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has set standards for restaurants and stores to be accessible for those with physical challenges, but I’m not accessible for this same group of people. I’m so sad about this, and I’m going to eat my feelings.”


W3C: “Fear not, dear Internet! Let’s set a group of standards called WCAG, that sets guiding content for the web. We’ll call this WCAG 1.0, because it sounds fancy, and super technical, and even though we’ll explain it in a way that nobody can understand – our hearts are in the right place. Eventually, we’ll replace this with WCAG 2.0 in 2008, which will be the basis of how things are today.elines in place for those developing and design st-forward 10 years later, WCAG 2.0 still reigns as the set of web accessibility standards.

So what is WCAG 2.0 and what does this really mean?

The guidelines are set into four main buckets:


This is structuring your content so it can be accessed in different ways. For example, if you have an image of a duck. There should also be some language around the duck that describes the duck is a duck. This also makes it much easier for screen readers (software that literally reads the content to a person who may have low- or no-vision) so they can experience the web.


Your site should be navigable without ever using a mouse, and only using the keyboard (e.g. hitting the tab button to different elements and then hitting ‘enter’ should get you where you need to go). Oh, and don’t do anything jerkish like have any content that could produce seizures. There are no winners in that situation!


This is somewhat the common sense one. For starters – if you have a button called “About”, and then user clicks on it, and you have a herd of unicorns flying across the homepage – that’s unpredictable behavior. Don’t design/ build a site like that. Your mother raised you better than that.

Also, don’t be weird with your text: don’t use a bunch of acronyms, jargon, or language that only a few people know. (I’m now having anxiety-ridden flashbacks to my first day as an Accenture intern…)

Lastly – be clear on your instructions, and if there’s a mistake – be clear on how to fix it. For example, say you forget to fill out a field on a form, and you click submit. Imagine a message that only says “Form not complete”, vs. one that says “Please fill out your Last Name” with a red box around the Last Name field. 


Don’t code your site in gibberish, because browsers don’t understand gibberish (or Pig Latin, or Klingon, for that matter). Use modern, clean code that browsers can understand, as well as parsing to know what’s what. A machine should be able to go through your code on your site, and know where there are sections, and if those sections contain sections, and so on. If there’s a form – it should be evident by how the code is structured. This guideline is a bit far reaching, IMHO. By using a CMS such as Joomla, WordPress or Drupal – these will fundamentally help web compatibility.

Now we’ve set a bit of ground work, why should you care about WCAG 2.0?

For one – you’re a nice person, and nice people want social and equal opportunity for all. It’s what’s right. With so much of everything being digital, it’s important we level the playing field as much as we can. And two – it’s the law.

What are we doing about WCAG 2.0?

Oh, so glad you asked! We’ve heard more and more from organizations of all sizes that web accessibility has become an absolute “must” for them. We’ve taken several steps on our own site for accessibility, and will be doing more each week. I’m also committing to write a blog post each day covering different accessibility guidelines to explain in a way that people can understand.

The official WCAG guidelines for web accessibility aren’t that… accessible. That needs to change, and we’re here to try to make a positive difference.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them down below, or by contacting us here.

Charity Ratings Compared: Charity Navigator vs. CharityWatch vs. Guidestar vs. GreatNonprofits

Today, there are many charity watch organizations providing information on nonprofits – and you can count on prospective donors to use them. But who are they and how are their charity ratings composed? This article covers 4 of the well-known ones: Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, Guidestar, and GreatNonprofits. Each provides valuable information to philanthropists looking to make a financial contribution to a charity. Here’s a basic primer on each:

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is one of the largest and oldest evaluators of charities. The organization was founded by Pat Dugan, an entrepreneurial philanthropist who had been giving to a well-respected – but ultimately, financially flawed – 501c3. He realized that, at the time, it was difficult for donors to understand where their donations were really going. He established a nonprofit to provide a free, easy-to-understand, 4-star rating system based on Charity Navigator’s reviewers using formulas with data from the charity’s tax filings with the IRS. The idea was to make it an unbiased evaluation and strictly about the numbers – providing facts on a charity’s financial health, not just emotional claims – making it about “intelligent giving”. How and where the donations are spent is a big part of this analysis:

  • what is being spent on programs;
  • administrative expenses;
  • fundraising costs; and
  • “fundraising efficiency” – how much do you spend to bring in a $1 of donation?

In 2011, the criteria expanded to include “Accountability and Transparency” of the charity. This is information extracted from a charity’s IRS Form 990 and information on your website (governance; independent audits; etc.). The focus is around the charity’s obligation and willingness to expose their business practices to the public – the good, the bad and the truly ugly — and your responsiveness in answering the public’s questions about those practices.

In 2013, they added a third dimension into the mix: “Results Reporting”. It is just what it sounds like – for dollars invested what were the results of your programs and services? Since not all charities currently collect or provide that data, Charity Navigator isn’t including it in the scoring yet, though does make what data they do have today available for informational purposes. Once they have collected this information from all the charities they review (goal date: 2016), this will become another piece of the formula that is used to analyze and report on each charity.

Who do they evaluate? Realizing that there are millions of charities, they focus their evaluations on 501c3 organizations which meet all the following criteria:

  • are required to file a Form 990 (not 990-PF’s so no family foundations)
  • bring in more than $1,000,000 per year total revenue in most recent fiscal year with more than $500,000 coming from individual givers (not including fees from services or government grants)
  • provide 7 years of Forms 990 to Charity Navigator to evaluate
  • are US-based charities registered with the IRS, though scope of charity work can be international
  • who actively solicit donations (so if zero dollars spent on fundraising, not eligible to be reviewed)

Charity Navigator wants donors to follow their own “philanthropic passion”, so they don’t discriminate what types of charities are reviewed, as long as each meets the above criteria.

They currently rate approximately 8,000 charities on their website and over 7 million people have visited the site to-date to learn more about those organizations. The ratings and underlying data for a nonprofit are available online and free to the public. They are well respected for many reasons, especially for the fact that they are transparent and forthcoming about their own organization’s business practices and financials. To learn more about Charity Navigator, please visit: http://www.charitynavigator.org/


Self-described “charity watchdogs”, CharityWatch was initially founded as the American Institute of Philanthropy. Their mission is to help donors make informed decisions – getting below the surface of self-reported finances to what is really going on with donations made to charities – maximizing the effectiveness of every dollar contributed to a cause. Ultimately, they want Americans to give to charities who use the money wisely and do more good in the world.

Their approach is researching and investigating in order to evaluate how efficiently nonprofits are run and donor dollars spent. It is not strictly about the “financial ratio”, but what lies underneath including identifying any holes in the reporting and what funds they are holding in reserve. The President of the organization, Daniel Borochoff, has an MBA and degree in accounting and experience on Wall Street as an analyst, and well understands the complexity of finances in the nonprofit world. He and his team use their skills to dissect the financials on the 600 or so charities they analyze. They look at:

  • tax forms
  • financial statements
  • annual reports

And if they have any questions or detect potential gaps, they directly quiz the nonprofit.

CharityWatch evaluates social welfare advocacy groups and religious charities which aren’t always eligible to be evaluated by other charity rating organizations. Some examples of these types of organizations could include: ACLU; League of Women Voters; NARAL; Human Rights Campaign; Sierra Club; and, the Salvation Army.

The rating system is an easy-to-understand grading system (“A+” through “F”). To provide more insight on certain organizations, they provide two ratings. Specifically, the formula for that organization may have one element — such as a large amount of dollars in reserve or in an endowment for a long period of time – skewing their total score, so CharityWatch presents the score without that element in the formula to give donors more insight. The scores are available to approximately 9,000+ “members” who pay a small fee every year to receive the “Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report” multiple times per year, though they do publish the “top charities” (those with A’s & B’s) list for the general public on their website.

As in any industry, whistle blowers are not universally loved, but are respected for exposing questionable activities. CharityWatch is that organization for the nonprofit world and is focused on worthy charities receiving donations to make the world a better place. To learn more about CharityWatch, please visit: http://www.charitywatch.org/


Another well-respected and established organization providing information to enable better giving, GuideStar is a little different than the other organizations. It has a similar mission of encouraging better giving through information, but provides transparency into the numbers in a “neutral” way. This is a “just the facts” kind of approach, gathering and sharing the information on all 1.8 million IRS-registered nonprofit organizations. The goal is to provide as much information as they can so that a donor can make his or her own determination of where to donate money. The elements provided on each nonprofit can include:

  • Verification of registration with the IRS
  • Financial data: Annual Revenue and Expenses, including IRS Forms 990 and independent audit reports
  • Mission Objectives
  • Impact Summary: from the nonprofit
  • Individual reviews from those who’ve volunteered information on the nonprofit either directly through GuideStar or through the partner organization, GreatNonprofits (more on this organization later)

This information can then be used by both the nonprofit to encourage prospective donors, and, by donors to best determine who should get their money. Most information is available free online to website visitors. Additional information, plus data in downloadable formats, are available by subscription.

GuideStar has established itself as a “go-to” for many commercial businesses and foundations when they want to quickly get information on a nonprofit. For example, Google’s giving arm – Google Grants – uses the GuideStar list to verify the existence and registration status of each nonprofit applying for a grant worth $120,000 per year of free Adwords advertising. Because of this reliance by grantmakers, it is important to nonprofits to insure their information is up-to-date and as complete as possible in the GuideStar database. To learn more about GuideStar, please visit: http://www2.guidestar.org/Home.aspx


One of the newest charity ratings organizations in the mix, GreatNonprofits, has quickly grown to be one of the leaders in ratings and reviews of nonprofits. With over 3 million site visitors and 13 million visits to-date, the impact potential on giving is great. The difference from some of the other sites is that these are first-person stories and reviews of nonprofits (over 40k added in 2014 alone). These are the insights made by volunteers, program participants, clients, donors and others who interact with your nonprofit. Reviews can be posted via multiple ways, including by text message (“SMS”). This is social media at work informing decisions for donors.

GreatNonprofits was founded with the idea to be to nonprofits what Zagat is to restaurants – helping highlight the great work of the best charities. These nonprofits may be grassroots, local organizations or some of the largest providing services nationally or internationally – their impact can be felt and reported on through GreatNonprofits. A nonprofit can establish a free profile page on the site and let their constituents, clients, donors, volunteers – and others who care about them – know about the page and those folks can contribute reviews. Your nonprofit can use the profile page as a way to highlight what is happening at the organization, linking it to your own website, Facebook page or other social media sites, soliciting support and donations.

GreatNonprofits has partnered with several organizations to share reviews collected, including GuideStar (as noted above), JustGive and GlobalGiving. GreatNonprofits provides a megaphone for the voices telling the stories of the impact you deliver to them. To learn more about GreatNonprofits, please visit: http://www.about.greatnonprofits.org/

All of these organizations are focused on encouraging donations to nonprofits doing their best work to improve our world. Do you need some help making your fundraising and marketing communications efforts more effective and cost-effective?

Best B2B CRM for Your Sales Team: 4 Things to Know

The question I get most often about CRM systems for business-to-business sales teams is:

“Which CRM is the best one?”

My answer is always “It depends”. Not what you want to hear, right? But it’s true. There are many good customer relationship management (CRM) systems out there. Which one will work for you depends on these 4 things:

1. It was created for your type of B2B sale.

Each CRM is designed with a specific type of sales approach / set of needs in mind. One built for an inbound/order taking sale – where there is one buyer and potentially a one-call close – is not going to support most complex B-to-B sales processes. There just won’t be any way to connect, track or manage the multiple people and decision-making steps across time that is required to bring in that type of deal. Conversely, if you have that inside sales team working with short sales cycles and single points of contact, you don’t want them wasting time working through or around many screens built to support an enterprise sales process just to place a single order or create a lead.

2. How the software will integrate into your other business processes and/or systems.

One of the things software should do for you is to streamline your business processes and reduce lost opportunity time. If your sales rep has to close out the deal in one system, only to turn around and input some of the same information into another system to place the order – you’ve just lost valuable sales time while increasing the likelihood of errors in your order fulfillment system. Same thing at beginning of process – lead gen to pipeline – one integrated approach, with the least amount of “manual” connections can help reduce time and cost of your sales process. And since you can only manage what you measure, you must be able to see into your processes with good reporting and business intelligence analytics.

3. Cost to license, implement and/or support the system.

The software that best fits your organization also has to fit your budget – being both effective and cost-effective for you. And software licensing is only one aspect – what it will cost you to move from what you are doing now to a new system will require investments in both dollars and your time. There will also be the learning curve for your folks – during which it’ll take them longer to do what they have done in the past in a brand new way. There will also be some form of ongoing maintenance – either from your own internal experts on the CRM or someone outside that you’ve contracted to play that role. You’ll want to factor in all of these elements into identifying the true cost of your new CRM.

4. Which system your B2B sales team will actually use.

Yes, they may be required to use the new system as part of their job description – but left to their own devices, most sales reps would be happy to just work from their smartphone – calling, texting and emailing with their prospects and clients. They put info into a CRM system because they must – not because they think it will help him or her do their job. We hire sales people because they are “goal-oriented” – they do the process steps of documenting what they are doing because management tells them they won’t get paid if the deal isn’t in the system. Many times CRM systems are bought with the marketer and/or management’s view of processes – what info can it store for segmentation/ lead generation; what types of reports or oversight into deals does it provide, etc. The difficult part is that typically it is the individual contributor from sales who has the knowledge about the prospect and process – you just have to make it easy enough for that person to interact with the system and transfer what is in his or her brain into the database.

Final Takeways.

Take your time picking a system and use what you know about the these 4 elements for your evaluation process.The cost of a good fit is an investment that will pay for itself with insight and more effective sales processes. The cost of a bad fit can cost you more than money and time – it can cost you prospects, clients and talented sales people.

This is the first article in the series; next up: Choosing from CRM options based on your specific B2B sales needs.

Best Mission Statements of 2021

When we’re working on any branding projects, one of the most important, yet difficult tasks, is coming up with a solid mission statement. It’s the one-liner that sums up what an organization is and what they mean to the world around them. Here are a few of our do’s and don’t on the perfect mission statement for your organization.

Three Tips for Your Best Mission Statement

Tip 1 – Have it be relatable, conversant, and easy to understand

People don’t want to read a laundry list with adjectives that came out of a mission statement generator.

Casper’s mission statement (if you aren’t aware, Casper makes super amazing pillows, and their service is top-notch): “Great sleep, made simple”

Compared with Barnes & Noble“To operate the best omni-channel specialty retail business in America, helping both our customers and booksellers reach their aspirations, while being a credit to the communities we serve.”

The first is great; it’s memorable, and you know exactly what they’re communicating. The second; the moment you start talking about ‘omni-channel’, you’ve alienated your customers. They’re simply talking to themselves  and not their customers.

Tip 2 – It should be concise

It won’t be relatable if people don’t even read it. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. We have two examples below:

Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life.

Compared with the Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago collects, preserves, and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world’s diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with our profession’s highest ethical standards and practices.

Which one are you most likely to remember of the two?

Tip 3 – It should be the truth

It’s one statement that sums up who you are as an organization. People are smart. If your mission statement isn’t accurate, they’ll see right through it, and will assume your products are bad and your services are poor. While Audi’s mission statement is something different, their tagline is “Truth in Engineering.” It was later found that their top leadership knew and endorsed them falsifying their emissions test. Not cool, Audi.

10 Examples of the Best Mission Statements

To be Earth’s most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online


Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.


The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.

To help bring creative projects to life.


To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.


The U.S. Fund for UNICEF fights for the survival and development of the world’s most vulnerable children and protects their basic human rights.

To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.


The aquarium’s mission is to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world.


To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.

home depot

We save people money so they can live better

Our Mission Statement…

We aren’t anywhere close to the size or complexity of the organizations listed above, but since this article is around mission statement, we’ll share ours:

monday loves you

We connect people and technology to help make the world a better place to live, work and play.

PCI Compliance and PCI DSS: A Brief Primer That May Save Your Business

If you don’t have an extremely solid understanding of what PCI Compliance is, and you take credit cards in any way, then I beg you to read this article in its entirety. It’ll be the best 5 minutes of your week. Now that I’ve set the expectations high, let’s get on with it…

What the serious heck is PCI Compliance and PCI DSS?

PCI compliance is a phrase fairly unknown to most people, but a phrase that can send chills down the back of those familiar with e-commerce. Why? Because it can be super-scary, and I’m here to make you feel a bit better about it.

PCI Compliance, or Payment Card Industry Compliance is born out of something called PCI DSS (Data Security Standards). There’s a lengthy history of PCI DSS, but I’ve summed it up for our wonderful readers with a very simple dialogue, as follows:


Internet: “It’s 2006, and OMG, so many people are using credit cards to make online purchases with me!”


Bad people in the world: “Wow, it’s 2006 and so many people are using their credit cards online. I can totally steal the credit card information super easily and make fraudulent purchases at places you’d never shop.”


Smart techy people: “We need to form a governing body, and set some rules set in place to stop the bad people from doing bad things to people with poor taste in where they shop. Ok, let’s start PCI DSS, and it’ll be a list of things that companies must do to protect consumers from said bad people.”

And then, my friends: PCI DSS was born.

Should you care about PCI Compliance and PCC DSS?

Yes. If you’re a business owner taking payment, then this article is meant for you. If you’re a consumer, then you should also know if a company is PCI Compliant.

Why business owners should really, really care?

If your transactions are hitting your server in any way, you’re liable. If there’s a breach, you can be fined from $5,000 to $500,000 per month.

What Can You Do about PCI Compliance and PCC DSS?

There are a few options. If you’re looking to read through hundreds of pages PCI DSS guidelines, then have at it. However, since the interwebs are filled with such glorious e-commerce platforms, they can take the heavy lifting and let you do what you’re good at: selling goods and services. Many e-commerce platforms have likely invested millions to make their platforms as secure as possible.

Let’s go over some basic terminology to ensure we’re cruising down the same boat.

E-commerce package: This is what sells your products. This may or may not be part of your main website.

Merchant’s web server: Where your e-commerce is hosted. If using a package such as Shopify or the likes, this is most likely also your web server.

Payment Gateway: This is what connects the e-commerce package to the banks. Think of the payment gateway as the super gossipy kid in class that’s passing notes back and forth to everyone. 

Settlement Bank: This is where your funds get settled (aka your bank).

So someone buys a Grumpy Cat t-shirt off your site (E-commerce package), it goes through the payment gateway, your payment gateway chats with the e-commerce platform (which may or may not be part of your site) and eventually – into your bank account. Within that process, it could also hit the merchant web server. In that case, you’d be totally open for PCI DSS scrutiny. 

We good? Cool. Let’s go on…

So instead of using an e-commerce platform *and* a payment gateway that hits your own servers, you can use a fully hosted solution (which lives on their servers – their liability). Anytime you’re evaluating anything that accepts payments, be sure you ask about this aspect in writing.

“Are you 100% fully PCI Compliant?”

Surprisingly, many vendors will start to dance and avoid the question. If they do this – run, don’t walk – run away. We’ve had conversations with extremely well-known form services that “leave it up to the customer to handle PCI compliance.”

Some e-commerce platforms are fully compliant, and take pride (as they should) in it. For example, Shopify boasts full compliancy, however it’s also important to ensure any payment gateways they work with also claim the same. This is imperative. On the other hand, BigCommerce seems to be a bit more vague with their statement: “BigCommerce takes care of the vast majority of the steps toward PCI compliance for any customer on our platform.” (via https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/pci-compliance/). *As a disclaimer – we don’t get any kickbacks or anything from Shopify: we just really like them.

If you take a look at the two links above, you’ll see a really noticeable difference: Shopify is quite straightforward about it. “Yes, Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This compliance extends to all online stores powered by Shopify,” says their site. This, compared to BigCommerce, is very different. BigCommerce’s explanation seems to go on and on, and dancing around the fact a bit.

These are the red flags to look for. BigCommerce may be PCI DSS compliant, but it’s a bit difficult to tell.

In general, when the payment is hosted elsewhere (say PayPal), it’s safer to know they’re compliant. However, with PayPal’s “on page” payment solution (e.g. Payflow), where the transaction is made on your site (e.g. www.myshop.com/payment) vs. (www.paypal.com), PCI compliance once again becomes a major issue.

The same red flags go for anything that receives payment; online forms, event registrations, you name it. These are questions you should be asking yourself, your IT team, your app vendors (e.g. Shopify, Wufoo, etc).

The best takeaways I hope you receive from this article are:

– Ensure you know what PCI Compliance/ PCI DSS is.
– Understand the right questions to ask.
– Understand the red flags.
– If red flag – then run!

If you have any questions on e-commerce, we have a lovely team that’s happy to help. Just give us a shout here.

Making a Career Change from Marketing to Digital Marketing

​I’ve got to admit it. I’ve been in technology product and services marketing for a looooong time. Since faxing AS-400 query software product announcements was considered the height of “hi-tech.” So when I run into former colleagues or meet other marketers who are of a similar vintage, they ask me if we can grab coffee to discuss how I made the leap from being a traditional marketer to being a “digital marketer.” They want to know how to make that career change themselves, because invariably, they need to job hunt or find new clients. If what I have learned along the way can help others – especially other women in technology market – always happy to share. So let’s grab coffee and talk…

An Evolution Not a Career Change

I didn’t plan to be a “digital marketer” – I just took the opportunities presented along the way to add to my skill set to be able to leverage the latest marketing channels and tools. When websites became commercially viable tools for supporting my direct mail efforts in the early 90’s, I learned enough about how they worked to utilize them as the place to direct my mail audiences. And once I got them to the site, then gave them a reason to provide their information – or pick up the phone (more common then) – to connect with the sales team. Then it became all about email marketing… then banner ads and ppc… then social… then… you get the idea. I was a relatively “early adopter” on testing and incorporating new approaches into my marketing mix, especially for lead generation marketing.

And throughout the process, kept up on databases – especially the flavors now known as “CRM” (Customer or Constituent Relationship Manager), the ones geared for keeping track of the people relevant to your organization and the transactions/ activities around them. Nothing beats a good centralized source of information about those folks (people and organizations) and their history with your organization that allows you to easily analyze, segment and target your communications effectively and cost-effectively. You can’t measure what you don’t manage – and you do have to measure to be good at this job.

How did I add to my skill sets? Any way I could. When my employer offered me the chance to take a class or attend a seminar (on their dime), I participated, even if I didn’t have a clue how I might use the knowledge at the time. When my friends talked about the work they did – especially the technical aspects – I listened, asked questions and jotted down references to books, articles, or other resources that they recommended. Some of the material I tackled myself – for some I only read the reviews, abstracts or synopses of that work. For some of the reading, it was so technical, I had to reference the “Dummies Guide” type of versions. And many times, I was able to either borrow the materials from a library – or put the word out with my close friends (who are way smarter and more technically savvy than I am) if they had a copy I could borrow.

Over the past decade, working in the entrepreneurial space, I’ve been using no- or low-cost approaches. Researching online to grab reading material and videos to learn from scratch, help clarify or add nuance to topical areas – especially on where/how my audiences are consuming their information (which social media platform, etc.), a specific software (like a Salesforce CRM) or a marketing/advertising platform (Google’s Adwords come to mind). And for tech itself, I’ve tested, trialed or use a live instance of it, leveraging the self-study materials that invariably accompany it. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of a free trial for a piece of software – nothing beats getting your hands in it with the handy on-board knowledge base and/or videos that typically accompany them. Just be kind to the poor sales person who are only doing their job when they reach out to try to sell it to you – let them down nicely with a “Appreciate you touching base with me. I’m just trying to learn your great stuff for my own education, so please don’t waste your valuable sales time on me.”

Need to reconnect with live human beings while doing all this? Check out a regional user group or meetup for the technology or topic area that you find of interest. It is a great way to hear speakers share their knowledge and have conversations with other folks who are usually more than happy to share their ideas. I you are job hunting, you may also hear about organizations who are looking to hire or contract for just this skill set. If there is any cost at all to attend, it is typically minimal (in the case of a meetup, many times it is just the price of coffee or a drink at the restaurant where they are meeting).

What about “formal training” – certification courses and/or graduate-level degrees? I’m not going to bad mouth these. I’m just going to say, “it depends.” If you feel more comfortable in a classroom setting or want to do a crash-course/ “bootcamp” type of training on a specific topic – and the provider of the course is reputable and cost not exorbitant – I might consider it. If it is just to have someone to study with, don’t waste your money; reach out to another friend in similar situation and suggest you be “study buddies.” Even if she lives in another place, you can always study together using Skype, Facetime or just chat on Facebook (and if you don’t know how to use one or more of these, please search on Google!)

Digital Marketing is Marketing

You may be thinking at this point that if you haven’t already started down this path, it is too late – NOT TRUE! Some things have changed but the core elements are still in demand: 

  • ​Understanding your audiences: Who are these people and why they might care about what you are trying to market. The difference lies in where you find them and approaches or platforms for reaching effectively. Depending on the type of sale (B2B or B2C), product/ service being sold and what it does for the audience continues to be what drives people and organizations to buy. You just have to have a clear understanding of them. 
  • Messages resonating: This is the why part – targeting done well – and you know this stuff. What may feel alien are the constraints – and opportunities – of the delivery mechanisms. Those delivery mechanism choices offer a wider range, as short and sweet as bursts of text on Twitter; collectible as a group of favorites pinned on Pinterest; or, as expansive as a vibrant video channel on YouTube. Find your people where they hang out and provide content in a way they want it. There are just more places to find people than what we did before – but otherwise, it is the same story retold for a new day.
  • Your overall professional skills: Understanding how to put together a communications plan and execute it effectively to achieve your organization’s goals is still the key. What has changed is the “how” – you’ll want to leverage tools that help implement and automate the roll-out of the specific elements of your plan – and the time-frames. Everything just happens quicker now. Digital material can be faster to create (though in some ways, more challenging to do well), out the door and generating deals in the time it used take to get something to the printer and mailshop.

Digital marketing is just today’s marketing – utilizing the current tools that happen to be available.​

So Where Do You Start?

Begin with the end in mind. Where are you looking to find work? Each industry and organization has specific needs. What kinds of marketing roles are you interested in? Those roles have specific skill requirements. Look at the digital footprint in relation to the organization: site, social, etc., as well as, their job postings (search online) and profiles of current employees (LinkedIn, of course) to see what their skill sets/ jobs include. Pulling this information together can help you assess what they are looking for in a marketing type. Compare against your knowledge base and then just begin to fill in the gaps. You don’t have to be perfect at it yet. You do need to know what you don’t know and be actively learning.

As Women in Technology, Where Do We End Up?

Wherever we want to be! I’m never going to be a computer programmer or developer – but I don’t need to be. I’m accomplished woman in tech who applies her skills to communications (and data – but that’s a story for another day). One of the wonderful things I’ve found is that by staying engaged by learning about the newest marketing tools and techniques, pairing that with my overall business and marketing experience, allows me to add value – and be found valuable – by my colleagues and clients. So keep learning – and enjoy the journey!

Salesforce vs Hubspot vs SAP vs Microsoft Dynamics – Finding YOUR B2B Sales CRM

How many customer relationship management (CRM) systems are there out there for B2B sales? More than you’ll care to count – which can be daunting if you are trying to answer the question “Which CRM is the best one?” As I said in the first article in this series, the answer truly depends on your specific needs. First things to consider are the size, type and complexity of your organization, including the complexity of your sales in terms of products, channels, processes and people. I’m using three general categories paired with some of the well-known software systems to help give you a starting point in determining where to start looking for YOUR business-to-business sales system.

Hubspot sweet spot: entrepreneurial companies with singular product/sales process

Are you an entrepreneurial company with sales being driven inbound from your marketing efforts or a single product line/channel sale? Something like a Hubspot – which even has a pared-down free version – may be a great fit to start you off. As a young company, you have straightforward needs, primarily launching a central database for your company that is fast to get up and going, easy to use – and not detrimental to your bottom-line.

Focus on finding a lightweight CRM that can contain your info, manage your sales process and keep you connected to your prospects and clients. Other CRM tools that fall into this category include Pipedrive and Capsule. Check out their free trials, along with at least one other member of your team (preferably a sales rep type), and just pick the one you both like. You aren’t stuck forever with it. As you grow and evolve your organization, you can always migrate to something more sophisticated, if/when needed.

Where something like an SAP is warranted: global companies with a multitude of… everything

This is the other end of the spectrum. If you are a Fortune 100, multinational company with many channels, a myriad of sales teams/models and intertwined, intricate (dare we say, potentially Byzantine) requirements? Nothing short of a systemic reinvention with something like an SAP may be just the thing – but it comes with an equivalent seismic expenditure of time, money and emotional energy to make it happen.

Typically, you’ll have started down this path through your operational team leveraging SAP’s intrepid ERP and financial systems to support that end of the business. If your sales organization has the complexities I described above, it can make a lot of sense to use SAP’s omni-channel CRM elements. But before you just decide to take this “path of least resistance,” realize it will still be a complicated transition process. If your organization has grown over time and acquisition, you may have multiple sources of sales data in multiple structures that need to be transformed and transitioned. Getting the data right is the difference between having a customer relationship system you can count on; and one that is a technological waste of time and money.

You’ll also need to plan for the normal “rep resistance to change” – CRM is what they do to make sure they get paid, not something they love to do – so plan accordingly (more on how to address this in final article in series – to come). And all this will need to happen without clients’ orders and services being affected – a tall order. And if you aren’t sure that SAP’s CRM is truly the best fit, look at some of the other options available. Today’s CRM systems are built to be more flexible to connect with existing systems, including ERPs and accounting systems.

Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics – a fit for you?

This is the category where most businesses are going to find themselves. You have complex sales and business processes – hunters, farmers, individual contributors and teams, alliances and/or alternate distribution channels – plus you need to interconnect with your other systems and functions to make your processes relatively seamless (more on this in next article). There are a great selection of tools out there that can support your efforts – including some of the bigger names in B2B CRM: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Each has varying levels of license/flavor types, but what makes them useful for the majority of organizations is that they are both flexible and adaptable. You can configure and customize without necessarily writing custom code – but with all the horsepower you need to support complex B2B sales cycles. Each of them also have a plethora of add-on products from partner organizations who have developed native functionality on their respective platforms. Again, no need to custom code, which insures your software is easy to update and maintain without breaking.

One of the major things about both these products are their capabilities around securing/parsing access to your data. All CRM systems offer some type of security, but these workhorses allow you to be specific in how you carve out user’s access, down to the specific records, types of information and individual fields. PCI compliance is, of course, the minimum for handling data – but if your business also needs to be HIPAA compliant, either of these databases can be incorporated into your environment. The software itself isn’t necessarily compliant – you still have to do the configuration, etc. to meet the requirements – but each are flexible enough to adapt to your specific needs.

Wrap-up and next steps

At this point, you may be a little overwhelmed and wondering “Where do I start?!?”. Start by assessing your own organization. Do you see your organization in one of the groups above? Check out the demos of the products (they all have videos with corresponding case studies/ documents on their sites). You can also “try before you buy” with most of them. See yourself in more than one of the groups? Look at the Salesforce/ Microsoft Dynamics-type of offerings. Their flexibility can help you bridge the gaps between where you are today and where you are going.

And next in the series, we’ll look more closely at integrating your B2B CRM with your other existing (or planned for) systems.

Is It Time for Your Company to Rebrand?

You’ve worked hard building your brand, but does your brand accurately reflect who you are and what you do? Personally – I use the cocktail party litmus test. When someone asks where I work, do I cringe when saying the name? For quite awhile, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

We’re freshly rebranded – with the process top of mind.

I started SocialRaise back in 2008 as a social fundraising platform, so the name made sense. However, throughout the years we’ve taken an agency approach solving problems for clients by concentrating on digital marketing, technology development, CRM and BI.

In 2008, the name worked – in 2017, not so much. We just relaunched the company as Monday Loves You (more on that below).

What about you? When is it time for your company to rebrand?

Below are 5 quick indicators that you may be ready for a rebranding:

  1. Your name is antiquated: Remember the days when the phrase “information superhighway” seemed edgy and cool? Some names age well – some don’t. We felt our name was outdated, and needed something new. Try thinking of a name that can be timeless, avoiding the risk of it becoming moldy. A good name has a long shelf life.
  2. Your name doesn’t represent who you are: Every time SocialRaise was mentioned, we had to follow up with a disclaimer about how the genesis was social fundraising, but now we’ve grown and evolved. Instead, we wanted a name that invoked optimism and reflected how we work vs. what we do. Monday Loves You is vague, however it’s also extremely malleable. It’s optimistic, and alludes to a positive start to each week.
  3. Your name doesn’stand out from the crowd: One of the most challenging parts of our rebranding was finding something that stood out. There are names that *you* think are unique, however the domain name is taken, or even more frustrating – the domain name is available, but there may be some conflicts in the trademark. If there’s anything similar in the marketplace – or could be potentially confusing to the public – you may run into conflicts down the line in using that name. I highly suggest utilizing the skills of a trademark attorney. The fees could range between $500-$1000, but you’ll save much more in the long-run.
  4. Your visual branding doesn’t work: Design aesthetic can change at the pace of technology. We were actually ok with our logo, but our site and portfolio needed a complete overhaul. Ask the question to yourself: does your digital presence accurately reflect who you are? Nothing is more detrimental than having a top-notch business with a lackluster digital presence. If yours doesn’t well represent you, time to update.
  5. Your name doesn’t have a solid story behind it. A name should have something special behind it. If it’s something unique, people will be curious to understand more. Why Monday Loves You? It’s quirky, fun, while invoking a sense of optimism. Growing up, every Monday, my mom would wake me up for school. She would say, “Monday loves you and so do I. So get up, get ready, and make today count.” Own your uniqueness, and have it be part of your story. Your name should reflect who you are – and provide positive feelings to your potential clients.

In summary, building a brand is tough. You put a lot of money and sweat equity to build a name with solid SEO – and more importantly – a wonderful reputation. Rebranding isn’t an easy decision, but it was vital to the future of our business – and it may be to your business as well.

Google Ad Grants Recent Changes for Nonprofits: The Complete Guide

To keep your funding active, Google Ad Grants recipients are required to do a bit more management of their AdWords accounts. Our previous article, AdWords Changes to Google for Nonprofits: Overview reviewed the new requirements that were implemented on January 1, 2018. In this article, we review each and explain them in greater detail, providing step-by-step instructions and screenshots for the average user to effectively assess and update your own account.

We’ll also mention, we prefer to work in the AdWords original screens vs. their new Beta version which often is a little buggy (the Beta version has the black nav bar and left side menu).

To change from the Beta version to the original screens, click on the “wrench” icon in the upper right corner of your Beta dashboard and click “Return to previous AdWords“. 

I. Maintain a 5% minimum average Click Through Rate (CTR).

Google will disable accounts that fall below a 5% CTR for more than two months.

CTR explained

A ratio showing how often people who see your ad end up clicking it, Click Through Rate (CTR) is used to gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing. CTR is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown: clicks ÷ impressions = CTR. Each of your ads and keywords have their own CTRs that you can see listed in your account.

If your account falls below a 5% CTR for more than 2 months, it will be disabled. Don’t panic; it’s important to distinguish here that “disabled” is not the same as “deactivated.” When an account is disabled it isn’t running, but the account is still activated – meaning the grant is still in place. However the account owner will need to make the fixes and then telephone Google AdWords Support at (866) 246-6453, to “enable” the account to run again.

If you aren’t already, you’ll want to monitor your account’s CTR average closely and keep it above 5% with audience-focused, mission-focused content. 

CTR explained

Follow the steps below to find your CTR percentages and pause campaigns with low scores until you can assess the issue.

1.  Access the Campaigns screen by clicking the Campaigns tab. Here you will see a full list of all your campaigns. Look at the bottom of the CTR column and you’ll see the overall average for the account.


2.  Determine which of your campaigns have the lowest CTR averages. On the Campaigns screen, click the CTR Column. This will sort your campaigns by their CTR percentages in ascending or descending order.

3.  Investigate which campaigns are performing lower than 5% CTR. After identifying your campaigns with the lowest CTR percentages, dig deeper into each to discover what is bringing that number down by clicking the campaign – we’ll discuss what to look for more in the sections below.

4.  To ensure the culprit campaign doesn’t pull down your CTR average, pause the campaign, ad group or ad until you are able to make the necessary fixes.

5.  To pause a campaign, or even an ad group or ad, click the arrow next to the green button on the left side. In the drop down menu click PAUSED. That campaign will no longer be a drain on your CTR account average while it is paused.

II. Each campaign must have two ad groups and two active ads in each.

Google’s updated policy mandates campaigns consist of at least two ads groups with two ads running in each.

Ad groups versus ads

An ad group is the level between campaign and ad. It contains one or more ads which target a shared set of keywords. You set a bid, or price, to be used when an ad groups’ keywords trigger an ad to appear.

All campaigns in your nonprofit’s AdWords account must now possess at least two active ad groups, which must contain related keywords in at minimum of two active ads. 

Locating your ad groups and ads

To find if your campaigns have at least two ad groups and two ads, follow the steps below.

1.  Access the Campaigns screen by clicking the Campaigns tab. Here you will see a full list of all your campaigns.


2. Click on each individual campaign and check if you have at least two ad groups inside the campaign.


3. Then, click on each individual ad group to ensure you have at least two enabled ads within each ad group. The green button shows if an ad is enabled or active. If you have 2 ads, but only one is enabled, you will need to build or “Enable” another ad.


III. Remove keywords with a quality score below 3.

Keywords with a score of 1 or 2 will no longer be acceptable by AdWords.

Add Quality Score metrics to your screen

In order to see your keyword quality scores, you’ll first need to add the Quality Score column to your stats screen. If you do not see the Quality Score column in your keyword screen follow the steps below. If you do have Quality Score metrics on your keywords screen skip to number 7 below.

1.  Begin by selecting the Keywords tab located in the top row of your screen. 

quality score

2.  Next, click the Columns tab. A drop down menu will appear.

3.  From the Columns tab menu, click Modify Columns.

4.  On the right hand side of your screen underneath the section titled Select Metrics, click Quality Score.

5.  Click the blackened arrows to the right of Qual. Score.

6.  Click the Apply button at the bottom to save. Quality score stats will now appear in your dashboard. 

quality score2

After you have completed the steps above to add the quality score stats to your dashboard, you will need to pause all keywords with a score below 3.

7.  Scroll through the Quality Score column as shown in the screenshot above and pause any 1/10 and 2/10 scores. Remember, to pause a keyword click the arrow next to the green dot to the left of the word/phrase and click PAUSE from the drop down menu.

Google’s updated policy mandates all nonprofit grantees have a minimum of two site link extensions active in their account.

Site link extensions are additional URLs that show in ads providing a visitor with other links to learn more information about your organization or ad content. Ad Grants updated program policies require you now keep two of these active in your AdWords account at all the times.

Site link extensions can be implemented at the account level, but it is wise to implement site links at the campaign or ad group levels as well. It gives users options in the hopes that if one link doesn’t hook them, maybe another will. 

To see your active site links, all you need to do is select the Ad Extensions tab located at the top of your AdWords dashboard. Your site link extensions will be listed under that tab. You can also find Ad Extension in your Ad Group screen. You will need to see at least 2 site link extensions to meet the new requirement.

To create a site link extension, first think about what page on your website you want to promote.

1. From the Campaigns tab, click the Ad Extensions tab.

2.  You’ll see a list of the ad extensions for your account in the Sitelink column as shown in this screenshot. If there are less than 2 approved links then you’ll need to create a new extension.

3.  To create a new ad extension click the red +EXTENSION button. You’ll see a grey box appear.

4.  Click the +New Site Link button to create a new link.


5. Once you click the +New Site Link button you’ll see a white box popup.


6.  Complete the form with the site link title, URL to the page you want to promote and a 2 line description for what visitors will find at this link. If you want to run your site link for a specific period of time fill-in those dates. The advanced options is for conversion tracking – we’ll cover that in a different article.

7.  Click SAVE.

8.  You have added a new site link to your account.

You can also add site links to the Campaign and Ad Group levels, which is wise to do using this same process within the campaign and ad group screens. 

V. Implement Geo-targeting.

Nonprofit account managers are now required to implement geo-targeting location criteria in their campaigns.

This policy change is designed to bring you a better pool of results. Most nonprofit’s serve defined markets in regards to geography. If your organization exclusively advocates for youth in Chicago for example, then advertising in Idaho is probably a poor use of resources.

Setting location targets

Follow the steps below to implement geo-targeting.


1.  Click the Settings tab.

2.  Next, click the Locations sub-tab below. You will now be able to see your current geo-targeting spots.

3.  To add a new location, simply click the + Locations Button.

VI. Lift your $2 bid cap with Maximize Conversions.

This is an opportunity – not a requirement. Google’s updated policy allows grantees who don’t want to be restricted to the $2 bid cap, the option to change to Maximize Conversions bid strategy. 

About Maximize Conversions

Historically, nonprofits have had a bidding cap of $2.00 for keywords. If your nonprofit doesn’t mind that bid cap, you don’t need to do anything.

For those nonprofits who desire the freedom to bid on words over $2 Maximize Conversions bid strategy is your solution.

Maximize Conversions automatically sets bids to help get the most conversions from your campaign, while spending your budget. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction. 

Setting up conversion tracking

To utilize Maximize Conversions bid strategy, you’ll first need to set-up conversion tracking tools and know what conversions or actions you want to track. You can read more about Conversion Tracking Tools here, but for this example let’s assume we are tracking engagement on a web page:

1.  From the main navigation click on Tools.

2.  From the drop down menu click on Conversions.


3. On the Conversions screen as shown below, click on the red +Conversions button to add a new conversion.

4. Choose the type of conversion you want to set-up. For this example we’ll assume you want to track conversion activity on a web page. In that case you would choose Website and click the Select button.


5. Complete the questions on the following page with answers appropriate to your conversion.


6.  Once the form is completed, copy the embed code and click Done. The embed code is everything that is within the box.

7.  Log into the administrative control panel for your website. Find the page you want to track for conversions and paste the code anywhere into the HTML Editor screen for that page.  Then Save the page. We would advise not pasting it within a slide show, if you have one on your web page.

8.  To see your conversion set-up, go to your AdWords account under Tools and choose Conversions again from the drop down menu.

Next Step: Implementing Maximize Conversions

Once you have initiated your selected conversion tracking tools, follow the steps below to enable maximize conversions.  You can set the bid strategy for your campaigns. 

1.  From your AdWords Campaign dashboard, click the Settings tab. A drop down menu will appear. 


2.  From the Settings tab, select the All Settings sub-tab.

3.  Scroll down the All Settings page to Bid Strategy.


4.  Mid-way down the page next to the Bid Strategy click Edit, then click the words “Change Bid Strategy” appearing in blue. A drop down menu will appear.

5.  From this menu, select Maximize Conversions.

6.  Click the Save button. Maximize Conversions is now enabled for your campaign.

Once you get 30 conversions within a 30 day period then the tools will begin to collect your data.  It will often take about 6 weeks for the system to learn your account and optimize itself to gather real data.  

To check back on your conversion data you will click the Tools tab again and Conversions from the drop down screen.

VII. Remove branded keywords you don’t own.

Google’s updated policy now requires all keywords in an AdWords account must “reflect your organization’s primary mission,” “be relevant to the goods or services offered,” and “be specific enough to provide a good experience for the user seeing your ads.”

Branded words

You cannot bid on words you do not own. So, unless you are Facebook, you can’t bid on the keyword Facebook. This may impact accounts that use competitor keywords as part of their strategy.

To see your list of keywords:

1.  Click the Campaign tab at the top of the nav bar.

2.  Then, click the Keywords tab. Your keywords are listed in the first column. Scroll through this list and pause any branded keywords you do not own.

3.  To pause a keyword, click the green dot next to the word. Click PAUSE from the drop down.


VIII. No more single keywords for nonprofit accounts.


While there is a small list of exception words with their new policy, Google is encouraging the selection of keywords which focus directly on your target audiences or descriptions of words which relate to your organization specifically.

For example, rather than using the word “store,” users will now need to clarify the type of store more specifically like “resale store” or “consignment store Palm Beach.” This is known as creating “long-tailed” keywords. While it may seem extremely tedious, there is immense value in being precise with your keywords. You may see fewer clicks, but the traffic who is clicking is likely to be better quality.

Always attempt to generate word combinations which magnify what is unique about your nonprofit’s mission and audience. This also applies to the various match types used in AdWords keywords like broad match, phrase match and exact match.

To see your list of keywords:

1.  ​Click the Keywords tab from the Campaign screen. 


2.  Your keywords are in the first column.

3.  Scroll through these keywords and for now pause any single word keywords until you can do some keyword research using the Keyword Planner.  To pause a keyword click the green dot next to the word and click PAUSE from the drop down menu. 

Keyword planner tool

A tool to help you get ideas for keywords is the Keyword Planner. The directions below explain how to access the Keyword Planner from your account.

1. From your AdWords dashboard, click the Tools tab. A drop down menu will appear.


2.  From the Tools tab menu, select Keyword Planner.

3.  Keyword planning tool features will now be displayed on your screen. To start with the keyword planner, put in any single keywords you just paused. Add more relevant keywords to the list and the tool will help to recommend others you may want to consider. The objective is to build more of a description around your single word keywords.  

We took a lot of care in making this guide because we believe empowering good organizations to do good things is the best way to make the world a better place.

In the words of George Eliot … “what do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?

Hopefully these instructions make life a little less difficult for you. In that spirit, we’ve also created a short video series to walk you through these updates, along with other musings on our blog.  

If you are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and you are not aware of the $120,000 Google Adwords for Nonprofits grant, then let us know and we’ll walk you through how to apply. 

Selecting the Best Nonprofit CRM. Salesforce vs. Insightly vs. Infusionsoft vs. CiviCRM

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is a fancy, tech-ridden phrase that means something quite simple. It helps you organize your people and run a more-efficient organization.

It allows scenarios such as:

  • If one person attends a bunch of events, but doesn’t give any donations, then you know to ask for donations to him differently.
  • If someone clicks several of your emails, but doesn’t come to any of your events, maybe you’ll want call her with a personal invitation.
  • Your Executive Director can log into a CRM and see a personalized dashboard of all of this week’s donations versus to the same time last year.
  • You can break down the “silos” – development, programs/services and volunteers – and better understand how an individual or family truly relates to your organization.
  • You may want to automate your volunteer recruitment and scheduling.
  • Or possibly manage your members better.

It ties your donors, volunteers, staff, board members and constituents under one roof.


CiviCRM certainly has a polarizing set of pros and cons. CiviCRM is an add-on CRM that’s available to organizations running their site on either Drupal or Joomla content management systems. It’s community is tight-knit and there’s an active forum around troubleshooting and issues. It now has a global community in 20+ languages with 15,000 users.

The Pros

  • I love that CiviCRM is seamlessly integrated with an organization’s website (assuming if they are on either Joomla and Drupal, and more recently; WordPress). Tight integration with a CRM can be terribly time-consuming and pricing. CiviCRM is installed within a few seconds and configuration can start taking place.
  • There are no licensing fees, so you can add users for no additional costs.
  • Easy to customize. Since CiviCRM’s code is open-source (e.g. not proprietary to the software company), it’s really straightforward to customize to fit exactly how you want it to perform.
  • Smart community of people. We’ve been on the Civi forums, and its members are usually quick and eager to respond and help an organization out. It’s quite refreshing.
  • The functionality, while may take a day or two learning curve, is fairly straightforward once you get the gist of things.

The Cons

  • Some hosts have difficulty with the automatic installation process, so that can turn some people away from the get-go (there’s an easy way around this that only takes a couple minutes).
  • No licensing fees does not mean it’s free. CiviCRM usually does require some technology expertise to set it up within the site, and configure it to best fit the organization.
  • Still seems a bit buggy. Like many open-source systems, there are bugs. It’s a big system, so locating the issue can be cumbersome for some developers.
  • It’s dependent on a site’s site on if they can use it or not. While this is a pro, this is also a con. If someone wants to use CiviCRM, it’s best that they are running either Drupal or Joomla (which are both really solid systems in my very humble opinion). However, if they aren’t running one of these systems, they won’t be able to run CiviCRM either (which is a bummer).
  • Their user interface could use a nice makeover.

Bottom line: Solid CRM and there’s no licensing fees. Great integration with content management systems (Joomla, Drupal or WordPress) but also be prepared to have someone with some technical skills available to do the setup and maintenance for you. Most likely, a tech-savvy person on your staff or volunteer roster could handle this.

Salesforce for Nonprofits (Salesforce Foundation)

Salesforce, ah Salesforce.

Salesforce has been the reigning champion of the the customer relationship management world for a long time (like, a really long time). They serve Fortune 100 brands and continue to be super-innovative with where they’re taking the product. Every now and then, you have one of those “is it too good to be true” moments, and the answer usually affirms that. However, in this case, Salesforce offers a heck of a deal that every nonprofit should look into. They offer 10 free licenses a month of their Enterprise package (that’s worth $1250 a month, y’all) for nonprofits. *picks jaw off the floor*.

We’ve done several Salesforce projects, and have some good pros and cons, so let’s get to it.

The Pros

  • The functionality is top-notch, and they’ve tailored their Enterprise edition to be specific to nonprofits (a la their Nonprofit Starter Pack). This is now a world that consists of Donations, Volunteers and Constituents versus the for-profit Sales, Employees and Leads.
  • It’s free. Well, for at least the first 10 people. There’s a massive discount for licenses after that.
  • Well-supported community. The community for Salesforce is massive (I’ll even get it a Massive with a capital M).
  • Some amazing free extensions (which the non-free ones are part of our list of Cons). For example, let’s take the Volunteer Management component (check out the super smart folks at http://djhconsulting.com/volunteers-for-salesforce/ for more info. It’s totally free and these guys are amazing at support.  The mastermind behind DJH, David Habib, did such a great job, he’s now a senior member of the Foundation development team.
  • Salesforce is standalone, so you can integrate it with whatever technology you want, and it’s not site-dependent as CiviCRM is.
  • The power. Salesforce can do about whatever you want it to do, however that doesn’t mean that doesn’t come without a bit of customization or configuration (we define customization as code you need to add or change, while configuration is just changing the buttons and levers on the Salesforce app). Sorry… I’m getting derailed.

The Cons

  • The interesting thing about Salesforce is that it’s pros has it’s coinciding cons. The first is that since the Nonprofit Edition is something that’s evolved from the for-profit world, it can be evident that this is the case, though version 3 of the NonProfit Starter Pack is moving it in the right direction.
  • Some extensions are expensive. Before embarking on Salesforce, know exactly what you want it to do and outline if any other technology is needed to make that work. For example, take your iPhone. Your iPhone calls, takes notes, sends texts, plays music and also allows you to shoot Angry Birds across your screen. All of this is base functionality. Now, if you want your phone to also play Monopoly, then you need to buy that app for a couple bucks. The issue with Salesforce extensions (or “apps”) is that many of them are pricey that could cost nonprofits several hundred bucks a month. It’s totally possible to do Salesforce without any of the extensions, but ensure this is covered in your initial analysis.
  • It’s complex. Salesforce is a huge system, and configuring it for an organization takes industry knowledge or a pretty steep learning curve. Migrating from an existing CRM such as Blackbaud could even be more complex. Salesforce is super-flexible, but that also causes the associated complexity.
  • In my opinion, there still isn’t stellar donation functionality that integrates with Salesforce for Nonprofits. There are some decent players, but nothing that’s hitting the ball out of the park for a price nonprofits can afford. StayClassy’s donation functionality rocks (I personally love it!), however to get their Salesforce integration is going to cost you a serious pretty penny.

Bottom line: Awesome functionality. Extremely powerful. If you go this route, ensure you have a solid discovery/ analysis before embarking this route, and get a partner that can walk you through the strategy and development of this to really use the system for what it can truly do.


So, we just started using Infusionsoft ourselves, and it’s pretty cool and I’ve been telling all of my friends about it (our dinner parties just sound super exciting, eh?). It’s not specifically tailored for the nonprofit world like Salesforce for Nonprofit or CiviCRM, but it’s built so the application can be tailored around processes, and those processes can be either nonprofit or for-profit specific. Many organizations wouldn’t think to consider Infusionsoft, but we’ve been happy with it, and wanted to include it with a list of pros and cons.

So… here we go.

The Pros

  • Infusionsoft is just as much about automation as it is about CRM. You can automate the communication things that can be handled by technology, which frees your staff to the things that can’t be automated by technology (like telling our office dog to stop chewing on the conference table, like she’s doing right now). They have a nifty drag n’ drop editor that you can create your forms, then upon form submission to create a task in the CRM, and then send the form submitter an email, and then wait 3 days later to send another email. I’m not doing it justice here, but it’s cool.
  • The ramp-up training. So there’s a mandatory training session, which we didn’t like. We think we’re savvy enough people to learn on our own, but the training was solid and was super-helpful.
  • The Campaign Builder. This, my friends, is what makes Infusionsoft pretty great. Not only is it intuitive, but it forces process onto your organization. You can setup an entire campaign of getting someone on your mailing list, and then sending a donation email to them 2 weeks later, and even processing the payment. It’s an end-to-end solution all under one roof.
  • Indicators. Say you have a potential volunteer that’s opened up 3 emails, attended 2 events, but hasn’t committed his service quite yet. There’s solid indicators that allow you to tag and rank who’s close to becoming part of your organization so you can follow-up accordingly.
  • It’s pretty and the user experience is great. You’re going to spend a lot of time in a system, so it’s important that it’s easy (and if you’re nerdy, even fun!) to use.

The Cons

  • Pricey. Yes, we do think it’s worth every penny, but it’s not cheap. Their fees for small businesses or nonprofits would require a good amount of research if this is the best option.
  • As mentioned above, the ramp-up training is mandatory. While it was great, we’d prefer the option to opt-in or opt-out.
  • Internal notifications aren’t customizable. So for example, say someone donations $25, you get an email which then creates a task for your Fundraising/ Development manager to call the donor in a week. All of those emails are branded with Infusionsoft. Granted, the customer-facing emails are branded, but organizations are proud of their brands and it should flow internally as well as externally.
  • Complexity. Many reviews around the interwebs complain of its complexity. While we haven’t experienced that, it does seem to be a recurring theme.
  • No free trial (at least we couldn’t find one). I think trying before buying with software is important, and they don’t easily allow this.
  • This is a techie, but custom fields are a tad wonky. We really like the ability to customize fields and put them in any layout. For example, on a constituent record, I will want to see if the donor prefers to donate online or via check, and I’d want to see this information on the main constituent page. Infusionsoft requires all custom fields go on one tab of the record, so it becomes this hodgepodge garage sale of data fields.

Bottom Line: Perfect for small-business and would also be a stellar system for nonprofits. Not cheap, but when used and configured correctly, it’s evident that the system will save time/ resources by intelligently automating processes and donations. This system is perfect for a nonprofit that’s ready to start busting at the seams, and needs the technology to support it.

*As a footnote, I reached out to Infusionsoft asking if they had any special deals for nonprofits. While they don’t have anything specific for nonprofits, he did say that if you contact him, they’ll work with nonprofits on pricing and if they’re referred by us. For referrals, you get $500 and then we get $500. We’ll take our $500 and donate it back to you, so you’ll get quite a bit off from the get-go. Shoot Brigham an email at brigham.weight@infusionsoft.com for more information.


Insightly probably isn’t the first system that comes to mind when evaluating nonprofit CRM. But, it’s one of the most widely-used CRMs out there and can easily be used for the nonprofit world. I think many people silo tech into for-profit and nonprofit, but any good system can be adjusted for a different organization or process.

The Pros

  • The simplicity. Insightly does a great job on focusing on the features that’s important to users and bringing those to the forefront.
  • It’s pretty. Of all the CRMs out there, I prefer the look and feel of Insightly. It’s evident they have some smart user experience designers over there. *applauds*
  • Really great Google integration. If you’re using Google apps and Google Mail, their integration with it is simple and top-notch.
  • The price. Insightly is free for limited functionality, and $7/ user for the main set of functionality. Yes, the other options above are free, but this option wouldn’t require any help from an outside source, so you’d save some cash there.
  • Their free trial. I love that you can get a solid feel for Insightly through their free trial. It’s such an easy setup that you’ll know if it works for you after a couple days.
  • Their integration with MailChimp. So I have a bit of a technology crush on Mailchimp. It’s a great company, and Insightly integrates with them extremely well.

The Cons

  • It difficult to customize. While the core Insightly is great, it may be a challenge for it to be fully tailored solution for your organization.
  • It lacks end-to-end. If you’re wanting something to manage *everything*, so the volunteers, donations, staff, etc, then Insightly isn’t for you. If you’re wanting a system to handle your contacts/ constituents in a fast and clean manner, then Insightly is one to check out.
  • Their social monitoring seemed… off. During our evaluation of it, the CRM didn’t pull the contacts social accounts directly into their record. We were either doing it incorrectly or it wasn’t working. Either way, it should be intuitive and easy.

Bottom Line: For Insightly, our recommendation is to simply give it a whirl. It’s cheap, easy-to-use and it has a nice free trial. It won’t be a good solution for donation integration, but it’ll allow you to manage and organize your constituents really well.

In summary:

Well, I’ve written this article on 4 cups of coffee and in 60 minutes. I hope this provides some insight on things to look for on 4 solid, yet very different, systems that are either nonprofit CRMs or just some amazing CRMs that can be easily used for nonprofits. Is there a clear winner? Not at all. They are all different and are best used for different organizations. The value is picking the right one.

So do you use any of these systems? Good experience or things you want to see improved? Let us know in the comments below.

The Best Open Source CRM: SugarCRM vs. VTiger vs. CRMery

There’s a delicious plethora of open source CRM systems out in the wild. In this article, we take a look at a few, and give some pros, cons and things to think about for each. To begin a comparison, let’s start with SugarCRM, VTiger and CRMery.

First, what is open source CRM?

Open source means the code (all the stuff that makes software work) is openly available for users to modify and adapt. There are quite a few of caveats that go along with this, and you can read more about that here. But, for the sake of this article, it means the code is modifiable. While a vast majority of open source CRM systems are free, open source doesn’t always necessarily mean free.

Let’s first take a look at SugarCRM

Ah, SugarCRM. It used to be the creme de la creme of open source CRM. It had a community edition that was built from talented developers all over the world, and became a viable option to Salesforce. SugarCRM has an enterprise edition as well that was hosted by Sugar with some additional functionality, however the SugarCRM Community Edition was available as open source.

You could download and install it on your own server (needed an Apache setup, with the wiggly-bits of Linux, MySQL and PHP), however the process was uber-straightforward. Not exactly plug n’ play, but those with a decent techie-hat could do it in 20 minutes or so.

What I love about SugarCRM: Number one is its flexibility. There are some CRMs that are built with some main use-cases in mind, but doesn’t necessarily adapt for organizations that need a good amount of flexibility. SugarCRM’s Studio Builder is really nifty. It has a drag n’ drop interface to easily customize different screens, and amazing access control to provide access for some users, but constricting other users to a tailored view.

The reporting dashboards are also a huge plus. Every user can have a different view that’s specifically built for him or her.

The development community for SugarCRM was also extremely large with several key components offered at no-cost.

Oh, and SugarCRM Community Edition is… err… was free.

Which brings me to:

What I don’t love about SugarCRM: SugarCRM, like a dagger to my tender, wounded heart, stopped supporting its own Community Edition and reinforced its dedication to the paid, enterprise edition. This makes me weep. Why? Thousands of super-smart developers gave their time, money and energy devoted to an open source CRM project. Somewhat out of the blue, Sugar announced that it was no longer going to be around.


Another develop company bridged SugarCRM’s Community Edition and is continuing to develop on it under another open source CRM project called SuiteCRM with a download here. It’s great to see this project continue!

Let’s first take a look at SugarCRM

VTiger is another open source CRM application that’s built from some code used in SugarCRM (I should mention, that SugarCRM *has* really provided tons of benefit to the open source world). VTiger’s interface is simple, but it doesn’t represent the user interface that today’s 2015 users are beginning to be accustomed to (flat design, etc) so there are some basic UI improvements that can be made.

But anyways… let’s move on. VTiger has really cool tools that make it easy for users to opt-in for certain marketing offers, and the information becomes populated into the CRM. Sure – this is a fairly common element of any CRM, but VTiger’s experience makes it a breeze.

VTiger’s project management feature is also well-developed and easy to use. In many systems, the CRM project management feature tends to be a bit overlooked or an afterthought. With VTiger, I feel like it’s part of the forefront of their thinking (which I truly appreciate).

VTiger’s development community doesn’t seem to be as active as what Sugar’s used to be, however I think if they can make some key user interface updates to make it more current, then this system would be really beneficial to those looking for a good CRM.

Now let’s look at CRMery.

Many people won’t recognize CRMery (and for full disclosure, we have no connection with the company besides the fact that we kinda love it). CRMery is a component to be purchased and seamlessly connected in the Joomla CMS (content managment system) backend. The good thing is that it assumes the similar look and feel as the site itself since it’s sharing the same design (the same global CSS files for the techie-nerds out there). So for user adoption, this is a huge win.

The design trumps the other CRMs on this list. It’s clean, it’s functional, and it’s evident that the user experience was placed smack in the middle of the CRM design and development.

The learning curve is a breeze, and it’s easy to customize fields for different forms or other calls-to-action.

One of the biggest cons of CRMery is the new-ness of it all. From what I gather, it’s developed and supported by a small shop (I’ve chatted with the lead developer, and he’s awesome) so there’s always a risk of implementing a CRM that may eventually not be developed or supported any longer. I really hope to see this CRM grow, as it has a ton of promise.

So there’s 3 different open source CRMs. We’re looking to do a comparison on some others. Are there any CRMs that you would like to see us compare? Any thoughts about the systems reviewed above? Please let us know in the comments below.

Get and Manage Grants Better with Salesforce.com

Though it can sometimes seem like a lot of work around soliciting an individual donation, they are typically quite informal acquisition processes, you:

• Approach the potential donor;
• Engage in discussion/provide some information; and,
• Ask!

You quickly know whether you’ve got the donation—and even if they say “no”, you can sometimes win them back with additional conversation and/or data.

Wouldn’t it be nice if getting and managing a grant was that easy?

Most foundations, corporations and government entities have imposed a rigid structure to their grant processes, which require a series of documents to be completed and submitted for approvals within a specific format, timeframe, and, in order. Even after winning a grant, there are typically narrowly defined reporting requirements. Many opportunities for things to go astray, missing a deadline—and losing out on the chance to gain that much needed money.

Salesforce can help you improve your chances by assisting your Development team in keeping on track and checking off all the “to-do’s” appropriately.

You can leverage the “Contracts” functionality in Salesforce, just rename to “Grants.” This is functionality that has been developed by Salesforce to manage contract processes and with a few additional fields and workflow, can keep your team on track. Here’s an example of one that has been updated:

A combination of repurposing existing fields with adding new ones, plus a little “workflow” (automated steps to send reminders, etc.) makes the process much smoother.

Setting up the workflow to send you the alert when it is time for something to happen is quite straightforward—you create the rule telling Salesforce which field to keep an eye on for you, in this case the due date for the initial grant application:


You’ll be walked through the process and give instructions for what happens based on the information in that field, including—who gets alerted, when they get alerted:

step 2

By using an email template you’ve already created that includes the relevant information—and a reminder to get all the signatures required—the workflow rule sends the responsible person an alert 15 days before:

step 3

That internal notification will also be automatically documented in the Grant record. You can also easily update your ED on the status of any grant process, without having to dig through folders or call staff for info.

Ultimately, your team has less anxiety and risk around the process—because Salesforce.com has that covered–and they can focus their efforts on creating the best content to win that grant.

Getting Ready for a New Nonprofit CRM: Focusing on the “What” for Better User Adoption

It is in the plan this year – FINALLY – to replace your current mishmash of information sources with a new Nonprofit Constituent Relationship Management (Nonprofit CRM) system. It can provide the process improvement to better support your nonprofit or non-governmental organization. No more cobbling together pieces of information from various databases,spreadsheets and individual people’s recollections in order to get a complete picture of what has been happening. You may even have picked out the software you want. Maybe you are taking advantage of the Salesforce Foundation’s free licenses for Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) or NGO Connect available through the Salesforce.com “Power of Us” program for nonprofits—or at least checking out the possibilities for replacing your current legacy donor database with something that is more efficient and cost-effective. Something that will empower your development team; enable better volunteer management; and, create a coherent, 365 degree view of the people who make your goals possible: supporters, partners and staff.

Now what should you do?

Start thinking about WHAT you need to accomplish with your new system – and realize that the HOW of day-to-day life for you and your team will change greatly. It will be a good thing eventually, but be warned – there can be tears along the way! Change isn’t easy and you’ll be interrupting your team’s set patterns of work. There is no such thing as major change without a learning curve and preparing for it can help. As a leader at your organization, you’ll be responsible for change management and for insuring new CRM user adoption by your team is complete.

First think about how things work today.

Many times folks focus on how they currently do things, forgetting – or never realizing – that often existing processes have grown up around the gaps in their current technology systems or connectivity.

If they can stand back and look at it, most people find that many of their current “systems” are really a set of disconnected, old technologies each individually transmitting clumps of information to a human being. The technology doesn’t connect and your person must manually combine those different clump of information with their own or other person’s knowledge in order to accomplish the job. This “system” is really a bad manual process which is time consuming and has great potential for errors.

Unfortunately, no matter how ugly or manual the process, it can be scary to let go of what you know. Sometimes the person had to build his or her own workaround process in order to do their job successfully — and have been doing it the same way for many years. Remind your reticent Development Director or Programs Manager about what it took to pull together the information you needed to apply for that recent grant or comply with reporting requirements. Help them stand back and think about WHAT they are trying to accomplish and what could make them more successful:

  • Which information they could really use about donors, volunteers or grantors
  • When do they need the information in order to achieve goals and how quickly they need it when requested
  • Who also needs to easily access the information and use it either regularly or on an ad hoc basis
  • Which processes would be more effective if automated

Help those individuals understand about the opportunity to automate tasks – including the ones they may dislike intensely or waste their limited time. Some examples of what automated workflow and reporting can do:

  • Enable each member of your team to quickly access needed reports, activities, and tasks to manage their day through their personalized dashboard
  • Automatically calculate, roll-up and report on important measures, including donation statistics, with specialized reports geared for specific department heads, the Executive Director, the Board or for compliance reporting to foundations or regulators
  • Move a grant proposal through the internal review and approval process with system-generated reminders and routing, including built-in oversight to reduce the need to manually “chase” approvals for a grant application with an impending deadline
  • Acknowledge all donations immediately for the donor’s tax purposes – and alert the Development Director and/or the Executive Director if the amount hits a specific threshold or is from a major or high value donor to insure they get personal attention
  • Enable online program or event registration which immediately populates the participant’s information in your system and automatically provides the participant with an email acknowledgement and other documents or information – no need to have a staff member or volunteer have to interpret someone’s handwriting on a form and manually enter the information into the database – reducing errors and time to process

Most importantly, help your team focus on WHAT is important – your mission, goals and what needs to be accomplished every day – and what these changes can mean to the important people and organizations involved:

  • Better supporting your constituents
  • Facilitating the recruitment and retaining of volunteers
  • Improving the nurturing of donors
  • Complying with regulations and funder requirements
  • Increasing staff’s available time to connect with donors, volunteers and program participants – the kinds of work which can’t be accomplished by technology

A nonprofit CRM system is a financial and time investment for your entire organization. If you and your team start with the “What” instead of the current “How”, your CRM implementation will be smoother and increase the likelihood of adoption. The better the adoption, the higher the ROI. Ultimately, if your team understands you consider them at the center of “what” is important in this process, there will be less tears along the way (especially yours) when you change the current “how” to be more effective with your new CRM in place!

What has your experience been in past with new system implementations–lots of tears or smiles?  Something in between?

The Definition of CRM.

Long a staple in the business-to-business sales world, CRM systems are databases created to hold information about people relevant to your organization. Whether you are a business, government agency or nonprofit/NGO, people inside and outside your organization drive your success. CRM is the way you can manage relationships and measure success.

What is CRM? A Definition of Customer Relationship Management and Constituent Relationship Management

In the commercial business world, they are typically referred to as “Customer Relationship Management” systems. In the public sector or nonprofit/NGO realm, you may hear the term “Constituent Relationship Management” used instead to show the focus on service vs. revenue.

Typically geared to be a single source of information about the people who are connected to your organization – either directly or indirectly. The people could include:
– customers or program participants
– staff, volunteers, or Board members
– investors, funders or donors
– vendors, service providers or partners

CRM systems track activities for these people, including:
– Transactions and interactions: donations, products purchased, customer service or customer support interactions
– Time spent on: volunteer hours, development or service interaction, sales cycle length
– Communications documentation: dates, time and content of emails, phone calls or letters
– Participation in: events, marketing campaigns, sales or service processes

In the business world, there is typically a heavy focus on measuring and managing sales deals and effectiveness — improving the ROI on sales and marketing expenses.
For nonprofits, the focus is on donor management, volunteer management, services enablement and program improvement.
Typically, a CRM system replaces or connects existing legacy systems. In a commercial environment, this could include integrating or replacing outdated:
– Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems
– Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
– Customer Service Representative (CSR) databases

In the nonprofit world, it is typically replacing an entire suite of older, disconnected or “silo’d” systems:
– Donor Management System
– Volunteer Database/Spreadsheets
– Program Management Package
– Mailing Lists living in an Email Distribution System

The idea behind a CRM is to create a central command system that interconnects the information you need to drive your entire organization.

6 Tips for a Secure Web

One of the common questions we get from clients (and potential clients) revolve around website security; what are the dangers, and what things can be done to minimize risk. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on two CMS (content management systems) – Joomla and WordPress – and things you can do within 24 hours to tighten security and minimize risk for a more secure web.

Tip 1: Be selective of the plugins

Thumbing through extensions (in Joomla speak) or plugins (for WordPress) can be like being stuck in the Mall of America for years. Like shopping for a toothbrush, there are hundreds of options that do similar things. Need functionality for a slideshow – there are thousands of options. Pick one that:

  1. Relies on 1-click updates (e.g. you don’t need to manually install each time). However, you don’t want something that automatically installs, as this may break your site.
  2. Has auto-notifications when an update is ready.
  3. Has a long track history of reviews.
  4. Has a developer-backed team that’s committed to providing updates/ patches when they become readily available.

Tip 2: Keep number of plugins at a minimum

Do you really need that weather plugin that tells your users that it’s raining outside their office window? No, you don’t. Do you need a plugin that auto-plays music? Not unless you really loathe your users. Keep your plugins tight and essential. The more you have, the more you’ll need to manage and keep updated.

Tip 3: Stay updated for a secure web

With Tip 1 and 2 stated above, the number one reason of site attacks/ malware is due to an outdated CMS or its extensions/ plugins. If you cannot manage this, then find someone who is. Otherwise, you’re asking for a hack – and there are no winners in that situation!

Tip 4: Site level backups

So there are a few different types of backups, which we’ll get into during this article. The first is site-level backups. This is when a backup is made and stored directly on the site (say in a “backups” folder located in your site’s file directory). For Joomla, Akeeba Backup is tremendous. For WordPress, go with Jetpack.

In addition to on-site backups, the two tools listed above will also allow remote backups (e.g. placing the backup on 3rd party storage such as Dropbox).

Tip 5: Server/ Cpanel backups

So if your site is compromised, having an on-site backup may not do the trick. Therefore, always have Cpanel/ Plesk backups (you don’t need to know what these are, per se, but simply ask the question of your hosting provider, and ensure these are in place. I’d recommend rolling backups on a 3-daily, weekly, and monthly level. Again – you don’t need to know the details; but you need to know the questions to ask for a more secure web.

Tip 6: Server image backups

This is when your host will take a snapshot of the entire server, and place the copy on an entirely different server. This is good for catastrophic events, and is somewhat of a last resort.

10 “Musts” For Start Up Companies

Lessons learned starting a company.

I write about fun things, and other times I write about super-nerdy and technical things. Today, I thought it would be valuable to create a quick list of “musts” (at least IMHO) for anyone that has that crazy/ nagging idea that keeps them up at night. Otherwise, known as the thought of starting their own company.

So let’s get on with it…

1) You’ll never be your own boss in your start up company.

Somewhat typical scenario on a Saturday evening…

Me: [Pours another glass of red]
Person: “So what kind of stuff do you do for work?”
Me: “Oh, I run a digital agency in Ravenswood.” (that’s a northside neighborhood in Chicago for y’all not living in Chicago…)
Person: “OMG, like totes OMG, you’re so lucky to be your own boss!”
Me: [Pours another glass of red]

The above scenario happens on a weekly basis (including the wine part), and couldn’t be further from the truth.

Every client is your boss. Not just the hiring person – but literally every single person on the client team.

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the truth. If you’re dealing with a project that has 30 people from the client side – then you have 30 bosses. Combine that across a couple hundred projects – and it can be slightly intimidating. Every client, every point of interaction from the people that you’re building things for – they’re your boss.

Being your own boss is fictitious.

The local, independent coffeeshop owner has her patrons.
An up and coming niche author has her readers.
Bill Gates had his Board.
The President has his constituents.

Regardless if you’re on a local or national stage – nobody is their own boss. Ever.

2) Know your startup company more than anything else in life.

This may seem obvious, but there are a lot of people with a strong love and affinity for something amazing. Someone may love dogs, so opening a doggie day care may seem (and may be!) an amazing idea. However, a passion for something only goes so far. Has that person worked at a doggie day care? Do they know the demand in that area? How many people in that area are Googling for doggie day care services? What’s the profit margins for every single product in that store? What’s the employee turnover in that sector? What kind of insurance is required? The list could go on and on.

It comes down to one thing: understanding the minutiae of everything. There’s a point where you can hire smarter people than you to take on certain tasks, but on Day One – you need to be prepared for everything.

3) Be really, really resourceful.

Understand what you’re great at and do it yourself.
Understand what you’re good at, and learn to be great at it.
Understand what you’re really terrible at, and find the most economical way to make it happen.

The lowest rated skill as of this posting is the ability to be resourceful.

With a plethora of online learning tools (Lynda.com is a fantastic one!), it’s much easier to learn new skills and fill in any gaps.

When thinking of starting a company, if you have more “cannots” than “cans”, then starting a new company may not be the best endeavor to pursue. There’s almost *always* a place to begin, and slowly build to something bigger than yourself.

Especially in the digital world – there are talented designers/ developers in our on-demand economy that would love to work on a challenging project.

4) Have clear expectations.

My first year in business, I think I made around $12,000 in revenue. I launched a digital platform for music teachers, and figured customers will swarm in like tourists leaving a cruise ship in Barbados. Yeah, yeah – I read all of the “it’s not a build it, and they will come” sort of thing. But either my over-optimism or ignorance (or a healthy mix of the two) didn’t prepare me for what would come.

The most important thing is setting mental expectations, and don’t give up. Sure – it’s cliche, but nothing rings more true. Nothing amazing comes easy.

5) 60% Digital marketing, 30% CRM, 10% Website.

We hear this question a lot for anyone starting a new company: “I’m wanting to start a new (insert company or nonprofit). I have (insert budget here). What do I spend it on?”

There’s usually a roundabout answer, but here’s a lovingly blunt one:

-Spend the least amount on a site. On Day One – it just really needs to explain who you are, what you do, have great content, and ways to convert visitors to qualified leads.

-Spend a bit more (but not a ton) on a CRM (customer relationship management system) to track engagement and communication with prospects or customers. There’s a ton of easy systems to get up and running quickly (we use Active Campaign, and they’re pretty awesome) – you can always upgrade later, if/when needed.

-Spend most of your budget on digital marketing (aka getting people to your site). There’s a *lot* that goes into this, and not really in the spirit of this article. Site development is part of digital marketing, technically – but hopefully you get my point. 

6) 18 hour work days is a thing in your startup company.

Yup – I’ve read the “work smarter, not longer.” It’s not true. Expect 16 hour days, and even 24 hour days with food and bio breaks, especially in the first year or two. Those hours will dwindle as you grow, but it’s inevitable there’s going to be a lot of sweat equity that goes into crafting your dream. I agree in “work smarter”, but at the beginning, it needs to be “work smarter, and work longer.”

7) Listen to the market and quickly react.

You can do all the market research and develop a product or service accordingly, and then you’re going to realize that you got a lot of things right. And… a lot of things wrong. Leave the ego at the door, and constantly adjust based upon what you’re hearing, and how people are using your product or service.

We started out as a platform for music teachers. Then, a lot of music nonprofits came to us needing help with using digital to raise a lot of money. We created a spin-off of the music platform into a nonprofit platform that combined social networking and fundraising (before Kickstarter). That evolved to being a full-service digital agency.

In 2009, I never planned for any of this, but instead – went where the current took us.

8) Start surrounding yourself with people that make you better

Know your strengths, and capitalize on them. Know your weaknesses, and find good people to fill those roles. Never hire anyone that isn’t smarter than you.

9) Look into coworking.

While we have a fun, lofty office space that allows dogs (and my 2 year old Golden Retriever comes to the office daily), there were many, many days and nights working from a small desk in a 1 bedroom Chicago apartment. The days bled into nights, the coffee slowly transitioned to wine, and 16 hours would go by realizing I’m still in my pajamas. This thing called human interaction would go by the wayside, and it can take its toll.

Depending on where you’re at, coworking is a huge thing, and it’s only becoming bigger. For a monthly fee, you can surround yourself with like-minded professionals starting a company.

Simply bouncing ideas around goes a long way.

In college, think of how much you learned inside the classroom vs. the ‘real world’ college experiences. Going into coworking is like leaving your tiny dorm and surrounding yourself with peers that encourage each other and help push your start up company to the next level.

If your area doesn’t allow coworking, check out local ads for people looking to share their office space.

It beats Starbucks, and your clothes won’t perpetually smell like coffee.

10) It’s competitive. Be nice (and hopefully that’s yourself).

There are zillions of digital agencies out there. While most would disagree with me, I think the supply outmatches the demand. The market has also been flooded with agencies that are focused on the technology itself vs. using it to solve a big business problem. But alas, there are still an abundance of players in this market.

When a potential customer is looking at two different companies to work with, and both companies are equal in terms of talent, timeline and cost, the thing that’s going to separate the two will be personality. Be nice, be willing, and always want to make your customers the best they can be.

What are your tips for anyone looking to embark on their own startup company? Let us know in the comments below!

How I Missed Out on Over $350,000 Working In Technology

Cassie Dennis from Monday Loves You tells us about the impact of salary history disclosure for woman in technology in a recent article published by Women Employed.

How I Missed Out on Over $350,000 Working In Technology

It’s been a weird and windy road since my 11-year-old-self lost a chess match to an IBM 360 in 1970. Let me be upfront about this — my degree is in psychology; I work in marketing; and, I wasn’t born at a time when tech was in the mainstream — yet I’ve had a long career working in technology and technology-driven roles.


The short answer: I said YES whenever someone asked me “can you figure out how to use this thing?!?”

It wasn’t always pretty, but I did learn how to use, configure, test, assemble and sell a variety of tech over the years, finding my niche in the software world by enabling people to solve problems with statistics, analytics, reporting and CRM.

The long answer reveals my icy patches, detours, and mudslides — from having a lucrative software sales territory I’d built from the ground up stripped from me and gifted to a male colleague because he had a family to support, to being promoted into a middle management position where I had the same responsibilities as my colleagues but a salary about 15 per cent less than theirs. Losing that sales territory prompted me to change pathways — taking me from an individual contributor role into management, which was ultimately a good thing . However, making less than my management colleagues in that one job was not a blip but a persistent drag on my earnings potential not only in that company but for the next 20 years of my career.


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