Monday, 31 August 2015

The 5 Fast Fixes needed to Jumpstart Your Email Marketing Strategy

Most time sending out an email newsletter may seem like an easy task, but if you think that all you have to do is make a template, add in new content and hit send, you're not likely to see the results you want. Email marketing requires you to apply a lot of careful planning and work to be effective, but when it's done right, it can drive traffic to your website, increase your customer base and boost sales. So the question now is.. how can you make the most of your email marketing campaigns? It's all about getting to know what your subscribers want, creating quality content and taking advantage of all the great email marketing tools at your disposal. Are you ready to improve your email campaigns? Here are five great email marketing tips from entrepreneurs and digital marketing experts. Create focus groups Email marketing is of no point if you can't get your subscribers to open your emails in the first place. In order to make sure your campaigns are fully effective, you need to make sure you're sending people what they want, how they want it. One way to do that is by carefully observing your customers. Business and digital strategist Kyla Roma suggested creating "virtual focus groups" to help you figure out what works and what doesn't. This way, you can better understand how what you do affects customers' day-to-day life, she said. "I create a group of five people who are my ideal clients and follow them on social media, look at their responses to my past emails, and I'll look out for how they speak to and interact with others," Roma said. "I use that social information to help my client's join the conversation in an authentic way." Roma noted that many brands are too impersonal and sound very corporate, which can feel awkward for customers and clients. "Creating a virtual focus group enables you to be specific, relax and help your clients while increasing your open rate," Roma said. Make a content calendar An email marketing campaign can be assumed to be nothing without quality content, and that means you need to plan ahead. After all, trying to create a promotional email or newsletter at the last minute can be stressful for you and translate into sloppy content for your subscribers. The best way to avoid this is to create a content calendar and stay ahead of the game by at least a few weeks. "Great content takes time," said Marci Hansen, co-founder and chief marketing officer of eligibility verification service provider SheerID. "Create a calendar for your email marketing campaigns [and] brainstorm ideas for content in advance." These ideas can include exclusive promotions for a holiday like Veterans Day or Teacher Appreciation week, white papers if you're marketing a B2B product, or strong blogs posts on buzz-worthy trends, Hansen said. Then, Hansen said that you should pick the date you're planning to send out your email and back up from there to choose a deadline. Make sure you give yourself time to create artwork and have the email blast reviewed, and then set reminders on your calendar so you don't forget. "[In this way] you'll never be struck by the sudden realization that it's time to get a newsletter or promotional email out, and you have nothing to say," Hansen said. Cut sentences short Once you've gotting your subscribers' attention with great content, focus on facilitating click-throughs. Otherwise, people will be opening your emails but not purchasing your products or reading the content on your site, and all the effort you put into your campaign will be wasted. Justin LeVrier, executive vice president of growth training and consultant organization CHARFEN, said that a great way to increase click-throughs is to cut your sentences short. This leaves people wanting more information. "In the text of our emails, the introductory paragraph closes with a sentence cut in the middle, followed by '… (continue reading),'" LeVrier said, noting that doing so has increased his company's email click-through rate to 22.5 percent. Just make sure that what your subscribers are clicking through to is valuable to your customers and clients. LeVrier noted that it's important to make sure that the content you're sharing with your subscribers is worthwhile, because they trust you for information and insight. Follow up How many times have you found your inbox to be so inundated with emails that caused you to miss out on important messages? If it can happen to you, it can happen to your customers, too, so following up is a must. However, if you follow up with every email blast you send, it's sure to annoy your subscribers, so limit your use of this tactic to new subscribers. "If a new email subscriber opts in to a campaign but doesn't open the initial message, I send an email one day later and another email the day after that [until they open it]," said Marc Prosser, co-founder of online publication Fit Small Business. "Email marketing best practices dictate that you don't want to overwhelm people, but this scenario is an exception to that rule. If that person misses your first email and your next email arrives a week later, there's a chance they won't even recognize you at that point." Prosser notes that by reaching out multiple times after a new subscriber signs up, it ensures that they've received your first message and know to expect future emails from you. Make use of marketing automation You should never automate your all your email campaign, but automating the way your email blasts are sent out to your subscribers can be a huge help. Digital marketing consultant Rob Watson said that using automation tools to follow up with further campaigns for people who open or click links in your email campaigns can help you generate leads and make sales. "Imagine sending a campaign to 10,000 recipients and knowing that 2,000 of them opened it," Watson said. "All things being equal, those 2,000 people are probably warmer than the 8,000 who didn't open it, but that's not much to go on. It's also a lot of customers to follow up with." But if you set up an automated three-step campaign instead, you can pinpoint and market to the customers that really matter. "For example, the first email makes them aware of a new product launch and how it will benefit them," Watson said. "A second email is sent just to those who opened the first email — this time they can click a link to a time-limited offer on the new product. For those who open the second email and click the link, a third email is sent just before the expiry of the offer to remind them that they have only a short time left to respond." Watson said that by the end of this campaign, the 2,000 people who opened the first email will have whittled themselves down to a few hundred or fewer, all of whom have shown a genuine propensity to buy. You'll also see greater open and click-through rates and save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The best S-Pen apps you need for your Samsung Galaxy Note

Put to make that S-Pen to work (and play) The S Pen has been a major key differentiator for the Galaxy Note line, letting you scribble away on that giant phablet screen while others are left to rely on their fumbly fingers. It’s never for everyone, but Galaxy Note owners tend to be a devoted group, swearing that they’ll never give up their beloved stylus. While Samsung has built in some software to support the S-Pen in the Galaxy Note 5, there are so many apps in the Play Store that will have you wielding your stylus even more frequently. Our collection looks at some good options for photo editing, note-taking, illustration, and even a game for good measure. If in case you have a favorite, S Pen friendly app? make sure to give it a shout out in the comments. Colorfy Adult coloring books are the new, hot trend. Take the concept that will help you grow up and disengage from their stressful lives to your Galaxy Note with Colorfy. It's not a true coloring app in the sense you don't actually scribble in colors. Instead you choose which color goes on the painting and tap the spot to add it in. Nonethless, it's pretty fun. There are plenty of drawings, ranging from random dots to classic works of art. As always, you can upgrade with additional color tools through an in-app purchase. Evernote Widget Probably you may know about Evernote, but if you have a Galaxy Note you may want to throw down one of the app's widgets. That's because you'll then have one-touch access from the home screen to pen input. You can then start scribbling away with your S Pen on a new note. Evernote is an excellent tool for S Pen users, as the app will recognize your text and has a lot of different color and highlighting options. HandWrite Pro Note & Draw In case you're looking for a vector-based drawing app, that is a good solution. It has a lot of tools for manipulating images along with the traditional pen input that puts your stylus to work. While the app is free, a premium package allows you to export files in SVG format for later editing on the desktop. Another option is a calligraphic pen if you want to turn your Galaxy Note into a showcase for your calligraphy skills. JusWrite Stylus Task Organizer This particular app is less of a note-taker and more of an appointment book designed around adding events to your calendar. The organizational structure is based around folders, which you can then use to write in notes or appointment details. I found the layout some how a little confusing, but it's worth adding in here in case you want to explore every type of possibility for using the S Pen for productivity. The app does, however, have a pretty clean layout and use Material Design elements. Scribble Racer Who told you that S-Pen has to be only about productivity? Scribble Racer proves that it can be a pretty solid gaming controller. This game was built specifically for the S Pen, which you use to stay inside the lines of an obstacle course that scrolls along the screen. There are three difficulty modes, with the hardest level serving as quite the challenge given its rapid accelelration. Scribble Racer works with any other stylus or your finger, but don’t expect as good of an experience with the latter. The tiny tip to the S Pen gives you the best accuracy. It’s free to download, but I found it so much fun it was worth the $1 to nix the ads, which take up part of the screen. The upgrade also speeds up moving to a new round, as you don’t have to pause between sessions for advertising. Google Handwriting Input A promise from the S-Pen is that you can do more handwriting on your phone. The recently-launched Google Handwriting Input keyboard is a perfect companion if you like popping out the stylus frequently. It’s a full-blown Android keyboard that translates your handwriting into text. It even recognizes cursive, though you’ll just have to take Google’s word for it since technology killed that skill for me long ago. This could be great for kids, who are still learning their way around the keyboard or for those who still prefer to write things out. It also switches back to the main Google Keyboard with one press of the globe icon. Papyrus Papyrus puts in place the look of lined notepaper on your Galaxy Note. It’s very perfect for anyone who likes to handwrite notes but wants the advantage of never losing the paper. Along with the writing features that include mutliple pen, paper, and color types, it has a few other tricks. You can import PDF files for marking up, which could let you sign files while on the go. It also works with Samsung’s multi-window support, so you can write on one side of the screen while working in a different app in the other. There are several in-app upgrades that range from $3 to $5, the most useful being the ability to back up your notes to Dropbox or Box. Autodesk Sketchbook A sketching app is very good for the Galaxy Note, and Autodesk Sketchbook doesn’t disappoint. If nothing else it’s a great way to re-introduce doodling into your life, which is always handy when you’re stuck in a boring meeting. It gives you a blank slate and several pen and nearly limitless color choices for your creations. You can zoom in up to 2500 percent, which combined with the S-Pen can give you some great precision. If you want to do more than to make terrible drawings of golf courses (pictured), then consider the pro tools for $3.99. You get 100 preset pencils, pens, markers, and brushes, along with several workflow guides, like rules and radial options. You can back up your creations if you connect the app to Dropbox. Snapseed Recently, google resurrected its Snapseed photo editing app from dormancy, and it’s excellent for whipping up some quick edits with your S-Pen. You can add in a quick filter a la Instagram, or use the stylus for more precise editing with a brush, spot repair, tool, and other methods for tinkering. Snapseed is by no means the only capable photo editor, with other great choices like Lightroom and Autodesk Pixlr out there. But if you wish to have an excellent free solution that plays nice with your Google photos then you’ll be very happy with Snapseed. Once Google gets going with an app like this, it tends to elevate its feature set pretty quickly, so keep an eye out for new tools. OneNote OneNote has been at the inking game for the past 12years, first debuting in the days of Windows XP tablets (those were painful days). Of recent Onenote has added a chat-head style button called a "floatie" that puts a new note just one touch away. You also can launch a note with a persistent notification from the drop-down menu. Now you have one-touch access to add a written note with that handy S Pen. Microsoft has seriously stepped up its game on Android, making OneNote part of a really good Office suite. It may not pull you over if you’re an Evernote die-hard, but it has a lot to offer with deep tie-ins to Microsoft’s strong, cross-platform Office effort.

Monday, 24 August 2015

How you can merge SMS conversations in Google Hangouts

Google’s Hangouts app is able to handle all your SMS conversations and instant messages so you don’t have to jump back and forth between different apps. With the nice visual update available in version 4.0, there’s even more reason to take advantage of this feature. Additionally, Hangouts also can serve as the hub for receiving and making phone calls and SMS/MMS messages with your Google Voice number (you’ll also need the Hangouts Dialer for calls). To enable these features,you need to make sure you have the latest version of Hangouts and then go to the slide-out menu and select Settings. Then, next you’ll need to choose Hangouts as your default texting app. If it’s not set up for this, touch SMS disabled and then select Hangouts among the list of your installed texting applications. Next, select Enable merged conversations. This will combine SMS messages and Hangouts conversations with a contact into the same strand. When replying to a message, touch the icon at the very left of the screen to switch between Hangouts, SMS, or Google Voice.

In order for you to also use Google Voice, under account settings select your Google account (instead of just SMS as the option). This will give you the option to choose between your carrier or Google Voice number to reply to texts. If in case you pick Smart Reply, Hangouts will automatically respond with any number the text was sent to.
With what i have experienced, merged conversations are a rather mixed bag. On the other hand it’s very good not to have a hop back and forth between two strands for the same person. However, the conversation can get rather disjointed, especially if that person doesn’t use Hangouts much on their mobile device. You can, fortunately, un-merge a specific conversation. Touch the menu button at the top right and select Un-merge SMS. Then, the conversations will break apart into two separate strands. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The cross over between agriculture and technology will one day feed the whole world

It has become a common criticism of technology — despite the incredible advances we’ve made in
the digital age, the so-called problems that some start-ups and tech companies are “solving” aren’t really all that significant. While the industry itself is experiencing extraordinary innovation, it often feels as though the organizations within it are reinventing a not-so-important wheel. But some presenters at a conference last week, co-hosted by the National Science Foundation and the National Consortium for Data Science, outlined a minor incredible initiatives in which tech can really make a difference, namely within the realm of agriculture. As the New York Times first reported, there’s a wealth of untapped potential in the tech space that has the “potential to transform agriculture and help feed the world’s growing population.” One of the key presenters at the conference was Lance Donny, the founder of the agriculture-centric startup OnFarm. Which is described as “an intuitive system for growers,” the company combines expert “agricultural experiences, advances in fixed asset technology, and extensive research into emerging agricultural trends” to provide farmers with “a single grower-friendly management and decision platform.” As Donny puts to note in his speech,that the combination of “inexpensive sensors, cloud computing, and intelligent software” could change the way that humans engage in agriculture, and help feed an ever-growing population. The farming industry is on the cusp of utilizing technology in ways it never has done before. With increasingly robust systems for weather tracking, water and fertilizer monitoring, and data collection on crop cycles, the intersection of agriculture and technology holds a series of exciting and hugely beneficial advantages to the world over. Those with deep pockets have already taken note of this — as per a recent AgFunder study, the first six months of 2015 only, saw a total of $2.06 billion in funding of 228 deals concerning agricultural technology startups. This number is only expected to grow, and in addition to the advent of new companies, there’s also plenty of room for existing players to get in on the action. Watson, for one, which has already been used across a wide variety of functions, may soon become a major tool for farmers as well, providing agricultural insights in the same way that it gives some Canadian citizens information about their cities. Very sure, tech may spend a lot of time flirting with applications that are not the world’s most pressing. But its current more serious courtship with agriculture could change everything to better.

The 10 Do's and don'ts available for every Android user

There are so many choices when it comes to making your Android phone all it can be, and a lot of nuance about which are the “best” choices to make. Everyone has an opinion about the best apps, home screen layouts, launchers, and so on. However, there are some enduring certainties that cannot be avoided. Here are ten “do’s” and “don’ts” for every Android user. The do: Configure data usage to limits
All Android phone has a tool in the main system settings to track and limit your data usage. In this age of limited data plans, you should probably take a moment to set that up as soon as possible. You can set your monthly billing cycle date, data limit, and configure a warning when you’re near your limit. There’s even a setting to disable data so you don’t end up with overages, if that’s something your carrier does. The don’t: Never use third-party lock screens
The do: Set up and Use ‘OK Google’ The “OK Google” hotword is the quickest way ever you can use to start a voice search on Android, and it’s a thing you should take advantage of. The options available to you vary a bit from one device to the next, but you should at least be able to speak “OK Google” when the device is awake to open a voice search (called OK Google Everywhere). To enable this feature, go to the Google app and open your voice settings to train it with your voice. Some devices (like the Nexus 6) even have the ability to listen for OK Google while the screen is off. The don’t: Never install APKs from untrusted sources One of the quiet thing about Android is that you can get apps from a variety of sources outside of Google Play, like Amazon and the open source F-Droid repository. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Never you go around installing any APK you find posted on a forum, and definitely don’t try to load pirated apps and games on your phone. That’s a great way to end up with malware and spam. You can leave the Unknown sources toggle off in the security settings if you don’t plan to sideload any apps outside of Google Play. The do: Disable unwanted apps By mere looking, every phone and tablet comes with at least a few built-in apps you don’t want or need. Even if you never use them, they’ll still sit there in your app drawer, and some will even start up in the background. Most times , you won't be able to delete the app if you don't want it. This is particularly common with carrier account management apps. If you don’t want them, just disable them. You won’t need to root or do anything fancy, just open your system settings and find the app manager (the location within Settings varies by device, unfortunately). Scroll through the list and tap on the offending apps to open the info page. There you’ll see the disable button. Easy. The don’t: Never kill background tasks
Apart from all what you’ve heard, Android manages its background tasks just fine. You don’t need a task manager app or anything that claims to speed up your phone by clearing RAM. When a process isn’t needed, Android is smart enough to end it. In fact, micromanaging tasks will cause the phone to slow down because most of the processes these apps kill are simply going to start up again and draw more power in the process. The do: Set a secure lock screen and use Smart Lock One of the best features you can find on Android is the Smart Lock (Android 5.0 and higher only), and it means there’s no excuse whatsoever to put off using a secure lock screen. You can set a pattern or PIN lock screen to keep out unauthorized snoops, then use smart lock to automatically go back to the faster swipe unlock when certain conditions are met. For example, keep the swipe screen active when you’re at home, but if you’re out, the secure lock screen takes over. You can also use trusted Bluetooth devices or even your face to keep the phone unlocked when it’s convenient. The don't: Never use third-party antivirus apps The internet can be a scary place some how, and the often sensationalist coverage of Android security issues doesn’t really help. Many phones even come with antivirus apps pre-installed. Truly speaking, you don’t need them. They’ll just sit in the background and waste processor cycles to scan all the apps you install, even though Google is already scanning them automatically via Play Services. Your phone is better off without a third-party antivirus app The do: Plan ahead with Device Manager Google includes lost phone features as the part of all Android devices with Device Manager, which you can be accessed from any computer or phone on the Device Manager website. If you ever lose track of your phone, this tool can track it, make it ring, lock it down, and even remotely delete everything if you don’t think it’s ever coming home. Just make sure you’ve got full administrator access enabled for Device Manager in the settings. Go to Security and find the Phone administrators menu. Make sure Device Manager is checked, and you’re good to go. The don’t: Never reset your phone right after changing your Google password Google added the device protection system in Android 5.1 in order to make a stolen phone useless to thieves. Android now asks for the login info from the last Google account used on a device after a reset when Device Protection is enabled. A good number of devices already support it, and almost every phone and tablet will have this feature by default going forward. A little known part of this protection scheme is an automatic device lockout that’s active for three days after you change your Google password. It’s technically possible that someone who steals your phone might also have compromised your account and changed the password, then reset the phone to bypass the lock. Therefore, you can’t log into a freshly reset device less than 72 hours after your password has been changed. Overkill? Maybe, but you still shouldn’t tempt fate. Good bye...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Sharing photos is one among the driving forces of social media, from Instagram to Snapchat. Slide has an all-new approach to the photo sharing game: local sharing with strangers. The app makes good use of Bluetooth technology to communicate with people nearby who also have the Slide app installed on their iOS devices. The app displays those in range on a single screen, and gives you the option to push a picture to everyone or to pick and choose who will see it. You can keep your picture private or blast it out. There are no friends or contacts in Slide — It just shows whoever is nearby, using the iBeacon technology built into the iPhone. iBeacon basically turns your phone into a locational signal to anyone who may be looking for it, informing them of where you are so they can communicate with you. the photos from Slide are sent and received via the low-energy Bluetooth signal, which works for a range of up to 200 feet. You’ll also be able to interact with people beyond that, with likes and comments. It’s important that you note that while you can share photos with people nearby who you don’t know, it’s not anonymous. You have a username. People can see that username. If you want to take pictures of your junk in the bathroom and send it to everyone at the bar, they will all know who you are. And they will all give you the side eye for the rest of the night because you’re a creep. Where Slide really makes sense is at get-togethers with extended groups of people like parties or weddings. Snap a picture from one side of the room, and everyone else at the event will be able to see it whether they know you or not — so long as they have the app. It makes the shared experience of the event easier to actually share, thanks for reading.