This is default featured slide 1 title

This is default featured slide 1 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 2 title

This is default featured slide 2 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 3 title

This is default featured slide 3 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 4 title

This is default featured slide 4 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 5 title

This is default featured slide 5 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

 

Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors: Clayton Kershaw's Wife Says Ace Will Give 'Everything He Has' To Return This Season [VIDEO]

Clayton Kershaw is currently sidelined with a back injury as the Dodgers hunt down a playoff berth. The Los Angeles ace’s wife recently opened up about his road to recovery.

View Entire Article Here

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Is Big, Bad and Really Hot

Talk about extreme weather.

The solar system’s biggest and baddest storm, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, is so loud and violent that it heats up the giant planet’s atmosphere. Above the storm, which has been raging for at least 300 years, the atmosphere is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on Jupiter. The warmth comes from within, according to a paper published in Nature today.
So Hot in Here
Orbiting hundreds of millions of miles from the sun, Jupiter is about three times toasti

Original Source File

The Hidden Side Effects of Using Big Data to Better Understand Your Customers

When it comes to better understanding your customers, you likely leverage every possible resource from personas to mapping the customer experience journey.  For marketers, big data is a boon – it’s a gold mine of information that, to be sure, requires a bit of digging through the dirt to get to the real treasure.

Big data has been used to tout everything from customer sentiment to fraud prediction. By letting computers do what they do best, it is believed that crunching all that information can lead to some pretty significant correlations – between click streams, geographic location, and even transactional data. Tying it all together helps bring the customer service lens into even greater focus.

big-data-analysis

With that being said, however, relying too much on big data has its drawbacks.  Beyond the fact that we’re just starting to understand what’s out there and how it’s all relatable, big data should not be looked at as a marketing or customer service panacea.  In fact, there are a lot of areas where relying too much on big data to better understand your customers can have the opposite effect, like these:

Lack of Availability

Let’s say you’re shopping online for a new pair of shoes. You’re scrolling through pair after pair on your cell phone until you find the perfect pair. Unfortunately, they’re backordered.  You want to be notified when more are in stock, but you’re not sure how to do that.  You tap for customer service. You’re invited to type in your question and see a list of canned solutions.  That’s a bit too cumbersome so you look for a way to contact a representative.

Instead, you’re asked to submit your question to a helpdesk or online community. Trying to fill out a trouble ticket, you see that the service isn’t compatible with mobile. You give up in frustration. Shortly thereafter, you get an email reminding you about the item you were interested in, and asking how the company can do better.

If you’re visualizing a cartoonish response of steam coming out of your ears from anger and frustration, now you can imagine the limitations that big data has.  Perhaps the only retailer to truly get a handle on big data at this level is Amazon, and they’ve been able to integrate unimaginable reams of data seamlessly while being able to grow and scale their company with consistency.

random-amazon-warehouseAmazon had to grow and scale its operations – and quickly, yet they still deliver consistently high-rated customer service thanks to big data analytics.

When the service you need isn’t available, you grit your teeth for long wait times ahead, and test your patience with the poor rep that has to look up the details of the backordered product in a sea of potential choices. The point is, Big Data shouldn’t just be pored over by analytics experts, but made available to everyone at every tier in the organization.

Rush to Judgment and Unrealistic Expectations

Big data is the foundation of a perilously-positioned scale. On one end, you have the camp that’s rigid and inflexible. Things have always been done a certain way, and the deluge of big data isn’t going to change that. These companies risk getting outmaneuvered by their more proactive competitors. They make hasty decisions that may not always be backed by data science, and then backpedal when things go south.

At the opposite end, there are those who are positively drowning in analytics. They’re so swallowed up by data that they hesitate to make any decision without consulting the numbers like some kind of oracle. They shrug off their “gut feelings” or intuition because the data doesn’t account for that.

There’s no doubt that big data is changing the way we market, but as many industry trends go, it can easily be blown out of proportion into something it’s not. People are complex, self-serving, habitual, ever-changing creatures. Trying to make sense of that is not something that can be done overnight. It requires careful planning, an understanding of the different “pools” of information the data is drawing from, and one’s own understanding of their target market to fully grasp.

Otherwise you end up with complex, complicated decisions that are impossible to predict and frustrating to implement.

Data Modeling Difficulties

In order to get the most out of big data, it has to be modeled in order to bring the value it’s so often associated with to customer service, which in turn trickles down to the customer. At its core, Big Data is raw, unfiltered and largely noise. It’s not structured, organized or clean.  The only system currently out there with the power to tackle such large scale information is Hadoop, which has been around since the early 2000s.

hadoopHadoop is the closest thing available to enterprise-grade big data analytics. Image source

Currently there is no user friendly, on-demand and easily implementable enterprise data modeling system. There are many ways to tackle the big data noise, however, but many data models hit common obstacles including not being able to scale accordingly or organize the data in a sensible way, and still fewer work with existing analytics platforms and CRM information.

Just having the data is no longer enough. Making it accessible and understandable to everyone is the challenge today’s modeling apps have to fix.

Pure Complexity

And finally, let’s face it, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what’s out there. And yet it keeps growing and growing.  Costs go down, availability of information goes up.  Despite all its lucrative potential, big data can’t replace people. When insights are gleaned from data scientists, they’re passed on to managers and then employees.  If there’s not a process in place to better understand and leverage the information you continue to gain, it’s practically worthless.

The bottom line with using big data to better understand your customers is that there’s a lot of expectations of what it can or cannot do. With such a wave looming overhead, it’s easy to want to stand back and wait.  But just as the internet itself was once looked at as being “just a fad”, so too is big data poised to completely change what we know about our audience.

Being able to turn this information into insight is a challenge – but one worth tackling. We all know what happens when there’s a rush to implement without a goal in mind.  Knowing the issues ahead of time can help you plan out a strategy that takes all of these points into consideration as you all work together toward a common goal – making sure every customer is exceedingly satisfied, again and again.

What are Your Thoughts on Using Big Data to Better Understand Customers?

Do you think big data is still in its infancy with regard to its use in customer analytics? Or do you think we simply lack the tools and understanding to make the most of it? What tools are you currently using to make sense of the data you collect? Share your thoughts and comments with us below.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

Original Source File

LULI FAMA 2016 Dream Catcher by Fashion Channel

Source Article

Green Bay Packers Rumors: Aaron Rodgers Breaks Silence About His Brother Jordan Appearing On 'The Bachelorette' [VIDEO]

Aaron Rodgers has broken his silence over his brother, Jordan. The quarterback, who apparently has a slight rift with his brother, broke his silence

View Entire Article Here

From Jet Fuel to Medicine, Tobacco Growers Turn a New Leaf

It is notorious for its role in the expansion and continuation of American slavery, and for its adverse health effects. The latter includes cardiovascular disease and various cancers, including lung cancer, the most common malignancy, underlying millions of deaths each year.

Health officials, attorneys, and activists have spent decades targeting its industrial cultivators in an effort to limit its advertising and sale, particularly to minors.

We are talking about tobacco. If at a frust

Original Source File

Are You Handicapping Your Conversion Rate?

As humans, we tend to believe that if we like something, it must have value—how else do you explain our obsession with celebrities?

I mean, I’ve never met Tom Brady, but he’s one of my favorite athletes…so he must be a good guy, right?

Tom Brady

Unfortunately, this sort of thinking doesn’t end with pro athletes or TV stars. As online marketers, we make a lot of assumptions about how certain website elements affect our conversion rates.

After all, if we like a certain page element or approach to site design, then everyone else must like it too, right?

If only that were true…

The fact of the matter is, you are not your target audience. So, even if you love your sidebar and hate your developer’s favorite widget, you really have no idea how either of those site elements are affecting your conversion rate.

But, the good news is that with a few simple tests, you can easily discover how different elements on your site help or hinder your conversion rate.

Much Ado About Nothing?

Eliminating website elements allows you to get a good feel for how those elements are affecting the performance of your site.

In a lot of ways, it’s like comparing Tom Brady’s performance with deflated balls to his performance without deflated balls.

tom-brady-throwback-thursday

If Tom only wins Superbowls when he plays with deflated balls, that must be a big contributor to his performance. On the other hand, if he still wins without the deflated balls, air pressure probably doesn’t affect his throwing ability much.

The same idea applies to your website.

If you remove an element and your conversion rate goes up, that element was probably hurting your conversion rate. If your conversion rate goes down, that element was probably helping your conversion rate.

Simple enough, right?

It may be a simple idea, but it’s one that can make a big difference to your business.

For example, EA got rid of the promo banner on their SimCity microsite and improved their purchase rate by 43%. Impact deleted their sidebar and their conversion rate went up 71%.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we like, everyone likes. But, if you aren’t testing your site elements, you may very well be doggedly hanging on to an element that is ruining your conversion rate.

How to Determine the Value of Your Site Elements

If you really want to know how specific site elements affect your conversion rate, there are two easy places to start: your pages and the elements on those pages.

Which Pages Do You Really Need?

One of the simplest things you can test on your site is how your homepage affects your conversion rate. Is your homepage an important part of your conversion process? Or does it distract and frustrate your site visitors?

To test this, all you have to do is send traffic to another page.

In fact, most companies do this without even realizing it when they send campaign traffic to landing pages…instead of their home page.

Essentially, when you send traffic to a landing page, you’re running an A/B test. The homepage is your control and the landing page is your variant.

In general, a good landing page that matches the messaging of the marketing that brought someone to your page will convert better than your homepage. However, this isn’t always the case.

For some companies, their homepage is actually an important part of their conversion funnel.

For example, we had a client who wanted to send traffic to two landing pages (each one was focused on a different product) to see which one performed the best. Out of curiosity, we also threw in the homepage for comparison’s sake.

To our surprise, the homepage won.

shirley-you-cant-be-serious

As it turned out, this client’s customers were actually interested in both products and a variety of our client’s other products. Since the homepage featured all of those products, potential customers didn’t want a product-specific landing page—they wanted the homepage.

For this client, the homepage was a key part of their conversion process.

Simply adding or eliminating pages from your customer journey can be a great way to determine how different pages are contributing to your conversion rate. It’s simple, easy and it can teach you a lot about your audience.

Which Parts of Your Page/Site Matter?

Once you’ve identified how your pages are affecting your conversion rate, you can start looking at the specific elements on those pages.

For example, for one of our clients, we removed the sliding promotion header from their eCommerce site. As a result, their revenue-per-visitor increased by 25%. Similarly, when we nixed their navigation sidebar, their monthly revenue increased by 19%.

Together, eliminating these pet design elements increased their yearly profits by $2 million!

To set up a test like this, you’ll want to build a second version of your page that is identical to your current page—with one exception. Your new page won’t have the page element you are evaluating.

Typically, this is pretty easy. Just duplicate the page you want to test and then go in and delete the part of the page that you want to test. In some cases, though, this can mess up other parts of the page, so be sure to proofread your new page before you start your test.

As an added bonus, you can use what you learn from eliminating page elements to come up with further testing ideas.

For example, if you know that a page element on one page is hurting your conversion rate, you can try eliminating it from other pages too. Alternatively, you can try tweaking or replacing the element to see if you can get it to perform better.

On the other hand, if a specific part of your page is really boosting your conversion rate, you may want to replicate that element across your site. You can also try to milk even more from high-performing elements by tweaking things like copy, color, size, imagery or location.

Regardless of how you use your findings, eliminating page elements can teach you a lot about what your audience really wants from your site.

Conclusion

No matter how much you might like a particular page or page element, what really matters is how those aspects of your site affect your traffic.

Unfortunately, if you don’t test your specific site elements, you’ll never know whether or not they are helping or hurting your conversion rates.

However, by simply eliminating specific site elements, you can very easily discover what your target market values on your site and what they hate. And, once you know what your audience values, you can make sure your website delivers exactly what your potential customers want.

You’ve heard my two cents, now I want to hear yours.

How do you feel about this approach to website optimization? Are there additional factors that should be considered in this analysis? Is this something you’ve tried or would consider trying?

About the Author: Jacob Baadsgaard is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising, an online marketing agency dedicated to using PPC advertising and website optimization to drive sales. His face is as big as his heart and he loves to help businesses achieve their online potential. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Original Source File

GOTTEX Show Spring 2017 | Maredamare 2016 Florence by Fashion Channel

Source Article

Close-up videos capture big, beautiful explosion on the Sun

A buildup of intensely tangled magnetic energy on the Sun suddenly let go two days ago, unleashing a massive explosion of radiation and super-hot plasma.

The radiation explosion was the most powerful solar flare of 2016 so far.

You can watch all the action close up in the video above, based on data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, or SDO.

When the video starts, keep your eye on the bright active region toward the middle of the frame. It’s seething with energy. Abov

Original Source File

What the 1960s Can Teach You About Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is an evolution.

Not a revolution.

It takes a different skill set. A new way of thinking.

However, at the end of the day, a lot of what you’re doing still looks and sounds like real marketing.

Not today’s misappropriated use of the word, but the good stuff originally developed back in 1960s.

Here’s why.

Where Did Growth Hacking Come From?

Sean Ellis gets credit for initially coining the term that would eventually send startup peeps into a frenzy. (And for the first time in their lives, not completely abhor the concept of marketing or sales.)

Sean’s concept came from initial failed attempts to hire data-driven, technical people focused on growing products or companies.

Instead, most of the ‘marketing backgrounds’ he saw made them great at communication, PR, and other classically defined marketing skills. Yet little focused on this new way of obsessing over conversions first.

These skill sets, while important, also aren’t completely necessary in very early stage startup companies, as QuickSprout excellently points out in the Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking. They also carefully point out that both skill sets are still very important – one’s just right for different circumstances.

But the problem comes when it’s asserted that growth hackers are fundamentally different than marketers. Even the sage Fred Wilson got this wrong.

Are the two things so interlinked really all that different?

I’m not so sure.

Here’s why, and where the confusion stems from.

The Great ‘Growth Hacking’ Hoax: Why Marketing Isn’t Advertising

It’s not growth hacking’s fault.

For years, ‘marketing’ has been masquerading as ‘advertising’. Inside most companies, the ‘marketing department’ does little more than work with advertising agencies or pick advertising channels.

Only in a rare case are they responsible for actual, you know, marketing.

Years ago, like way back in the 60s, the marketing mix was developed to provide a framework of all the roles and responsibilities that marketing influences.

And what you’ll quickly notice, is that unlike today’s bastardized version of marketing, this one actually includes a few other key areas like Product, Pricing, and… wait for it… Distribution (we’ll come back to this last one in a minute).

product-price-place-promotion-target-market

Now is the marketing mix the end-all-be-all? Of course not. Sure, there’s flaws.

But the central idea is strong and valid. And it can be perfectly highlighted with a simple story.

Walk into any car rental agency right now. Or retail. Or food. Movie theater. Take your pick.

What you’ll encounter, is numerous dealings with the lowest paid, most underappreciated people in a company. And they’ll treat you as such. Your experience with each person (who undoubtedly hates their job and questions their existence) colors your worldview of that brand forever.

What do you call that? Who’s responsible for putting these ingrates in direct contact with customers on a daily basis? Customer service? Operations?

Now walk into an Apple store or a Four Seasons, and you’ll undoubtedly #humblebrag to your friends on Instagram how helpful and awesome they were.

That’s marketing. Even Fred Wilson readily admitted that customer service is one of the best forms of marketing for startups. And under the classic definition, it is.

The long-winded point here is that true marketing isn’t advertising. Or PR. Or sales. It’s all this junk that ultimately gets a customer to buy your stuff.

Or ‘convert’ and become a ‘user’.

Peter Drucker, the OG, said the “aim of marketing was to make selling superfluous”. Obviously that’s not defined or limited to a single person or department within an organization. And that’s where the confusion stems from.

Growth hacking definitely has some unique characteristics that make their objective different than say, these other brand marketers who obsess over fuzzy intangibles all day.

But at the end of the day, a lot of what they do still looks like classic marketing.

Let’s get specific.

If you try researching the difference between marketing and growth hacking, you’ll see this article from The Next Web. A reputable, tech savvy site that’s going finally lay the issue to rest. Perfect.

And it’s a good read, which culminates in pointing out the laundry list of tactics that commonly differentiate growth hacking from marketing.

However, when you really start to analyze these tactics under a broader understanding of what marketing is or involves, you’ll quickly start to see that these new-fangled tactics still look a whole lot like mid-century marketing.

the-next-web-growth-hacking-tactics

When you get right down to it, a lot of the daily activities that define growth hacking resemble much of the same seemingly outdated marketing concepts from nearly 50+ years ago.

Again, let’s get specific.

Let’s take a look at some of the most fundamental ‘growth hacks’ used by successful startups over the past decade to reverse-engineer their meteoric rise.

Example #1. Product Hacks

Long before Gmail, there was Hotmail.

The idea of free email, at the time about twenty years ago, was kinda nuts. And it also presented a few obvious drawbacks to classic growth methods like advertising.

(Yes, even Stone Age Startups understood how CAC affects LTV. That wasn’t just a YC thing for you millennial hipsters.)

Instead, Hotmail decided to leverage their existing 20,000 user base to kickstart one of the first examples of ‘viral acquisition’.

In the bottom of each email, they added the simple tagline: “Get Your Free Email at Hotmail”.

Commonplace now, but keep in mind that this simple edit was pretty revolutionary at the time. Within six months, their userbase shot up to a million users.

Fast forward a bit, and another Silicon Valley darling was quickly finding out that paying more for a new customer than they’re worth is a recipe for disaster (and bankruptcy).

In response, they created a simple referral program that resembled Hotmail’s early tactic. Each new person that signed up for an account through this referral process got 500MB of free storage.

And in a little over a year, Dropbox grew from 100,000 users to 4 million.

give-dropbox-pro

Now there are many reasons these tactics succeeded. For one, getting something (for free) from your friend is a more compelling proposition than buying from a stranger over a questionable banner ad.

However, these are still simple product decisions too at the end of the day. (1) You have to have a good product to begin with – otherwise all the Promotion in the world won’t help. And (2) creating new features in the product are what enable it to be shared through a referral mechanism.

But it also brings up an important concept from, you guessed it, the 60s.

In marketing promotion, there’s Reach. And Frequency.

  1. Reach: The number of new, unique people your message is seen by.
  2. Frequency: The number of times that message reaches these people.

Admittedly, very simple. But also effective.

You’ll notice that in both cases, Hotmail started with an initial 20,000 users while Dropbox had 100,000. If you’re going for viral growth through recommendations, you need an existing user base to tap.

Why? Reach and frequency.

Wanna make numbers go up? Increase those two things.

The first is pretty easy. Just get more eyeballs to see your message.

Here’s how.

Example #2. Distribution Hacks

Back in the day, distribution used to be more focused on Place.

That’s because we lived in small towns and cities where you literally had a physical storefront. And even when times evolved, when products needed to be shipped across different factories or warehouses or retailers, you relied on heavily on distribution.

Technically, it means the “process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user, using direct means, or using indirect means with intermediaries”.

That brought about different distribution methods like intensive, exclusive or selective (all of which mean exactly like they sound).

Today, this all seems archaic because you’re mainly going direct to consumers through the interwebs.

But here’s the important part, summed up by Wikipedia:

“The role of the marketing channels is not only focus on the participate in demand satisfaction by offering goods, but also need to stimulate demand through information, creating proximity and promotion by customer (Balasecu, 2014). In other words, distribution channels for the product is a system process.”

Distribution hacks are some of the most common in growth hacking lexicon, and it’s roots are still firmly planted in the work from previous decades.

Airbnb didn’t magically become the one-stop shop for letting strangers crash on your couch. No; they ‘borrowed’ (or ripped off) Craigslist’s user base (thereby massively extending their own distribution). They created simple tools to allow Airbnb users to also get their properties in front of the massive number of people already searching and browsing Craigslist.

airbnb-craigslist-emailImage Source

This approach is nothing new.

Back in the good old days, YouTube used a similar form of ‘platform hacking’ (read: distribution) to piggyback on MySpace’s success (and userbase of around 25 million uniques in 2005). Unlike many other video platforms at the time, YouTube openly allowed (and encouraged) users to take advantage of their embed code and spread their content to larger platforms like MySpace.

myspace-popular-again-hipster-meme

Facebook used selective (or exclusive) distribution when they started off as a closed network only open to specific colleges. That exclusivity idea was then borrowed by Pinterest who initially used invite-only status to increase their desirability and cachet.

In each case, distribution – a classic marketing consideration – was central to growth.

Example #3. Promotion Hacks

Despite the semantic issues already discussed at length, advertising still plays a role in today’s ‘growth hacking’ playbook.

Look no further than Eric Ries’ Lean Startup (which I can’t believe was published in 2011 already), where advertising shows up as one of the three engines of growth to grow a sustainable business.

Paid acquisition, once again, isn’t some completely brand new concept that evolved from the halls of MIT or Stanford. Instead, it’s been employed successfully for half a century since the Mad Men era.

Sure, advertising channel options were incredibly limited back then. Which meant it was far easier to get your stuff to stick out. And sure, they didn’t have fancy cohort analyses or funnel tracking tools, instead largely relying on correlation measurements to sales.

But still.

Make more money than you spend ain’t an original equation. And it’s especially useful in today’s world, where let’s face it: true virality like some of the earlier examples is incredibly rare (not to mention, borderline lucky).

Just look at Noah Kagan at AppSumo, who has spent over $2 million on ads to profitably grow their business.

appsumo-ad-spendImage Source

Or Netflix spending around $18 bucks for a subscriber when they make like $300 on each.

Or Groupon.

(Don’t laugh. They still went public, bro.)

Sure they spent a sh*t-ton to do it, reportedly almost $200 mill in a single quarter according to the SEC. But that also helped them gain 33 million new subscribers. AND GO PUBLIC.

Point is: paid acquisition isn’t a ‘hack’. It’s just called good (read: not terrible) advertising.

A few minutes ago you read about Reach, which can be increased through distribution and obviously advertising.

However advertising can also help bolster Frequency, which is important considering its curse (as Seth Godin describes it):

“The best members of your audience, the ones who are listening the most carefully, have to be bored/annoyed at the messages that show up after they take action. Some people pledge the first day of pledge week, or buy the book the day it comes out. Those folks don’t want or need to hear the message again.”

“Worse, frequency creates a culture of less engagement. Since we know that just about every important issue, opportunity or warning is going to be repeated a few times, we don’t engage as much. Why bother to listen, we say, they’ll just repeat it.”

The world ain’t as simple today as it used to be. A single ad or message won’t get someone to convert.

But multi-channel marketing, complete with remarketing ads or utilizing custom audiences on Facebook, provide another new twist on an old stand-by marketing principle.

Conclusion

Growth hacking can involve mind numbingly complex techniques to obsessively grow a new product.

It’s difficult to pull off and takes truly creative thinkers who’re able to blend strategy with technical chops.

But at the end of the day, a lot of what they’re doing still sounds a lot like marketing when you think about it.

Not today’s watered-down version of advertising or PR. But true marketing, how it was envisioned over half a century ago, at its theoretical high point.

Those days weren’t perfect. And the models espoused can seem a bit dated at times.

However, you might be surprised to find that your new brilliant growth hacking idea didn’t come from hitting refresh on Hacker News, but instead from looking through a few dusty books from the 60s.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

Original Source File