Smart Solutions Blog
Google’s newest product was announced just yesterday morning, and people across the Internet are excited about the online storage service that will most likely be Dropbox’s biggest competitor. But before we throw out Dropbox, let’s compare the two—is Google Drive really any better than Dropbox?
Features of the Newest Online Storage Service
Google Drive Free Storage Space
Google offers a small amount of free cloud storage, like many of the other storage providers. When you sign up for a Google Drive product, you get 5GB of free online storage. Dropbox (the competitor at the forefront of online storage providers) only gives 2GB for free, but also offers additional storage for every person you refer to them—up to 18GB.
Extra storage can be added on to both services, for additional monthly fees.
Google Drive Team Collaboration
Like Google Docs, the new online storage product is inherently shareable. On the Google Drive website, it says you can “Create and reply to comments to get feedback and make files more collaborative.” You are also able to choose who can see, edit or make comments on your files. Dropbox has something a little more advanced (and a little more pricy) for collaborative work—Dropbox Teams.
Google Drive Integration
While Dropbox can be installed on any computer and accessed anywhere, it is a standalone product. Dropbox only does online storage. Google… well they do everything. Your Google Drive account seamlessly integrates with all of the other features of Google that we know and love: Google Docs, Google+ and Gmail.
This is the feature that makes Google Drive so attractive to people searching for an online storage product. So many people already have Google accounts, and Google Drive is a natural extension. Why would anyone sign up for a new Dropbox account when they can get Google Drive and have it already hooked up to their email?
Of course, we haven’t gotten on the inside of Google Drive just yet, because we got the notification that a lot of others have: Your Google Drive is not ready yet. Once we’ve been able to check out what it looks like on the inside, we’ll be able to write something a little more comprehensive about the ins and outs of the newest online storage service!
They brought us an email system, a robust map of the world, mobile payments, cars that drive themselves, a new social network, and they entertain us every holiday with a new Doodle, so naturally, the next step in Google’s inventive journey would be… glasses?
It sounds crazy, but unlike most of the announcements you’ll get from Google during the month of April, the new Google glasses are no April Fool’s Joke. Google’s augmented reality glasses are a real project, coming from the secretive division of Google X. The system seems to be futuristic, but Google is implying that the new glasses will be available within the next few years.
Below are a few pictures of the first prototype of the glasses. Because it’s so early in the design and implementation, we can expect these to change several times before we can actually begin to buy the new google glasses. However, as seen in the picture to the far right, Sergey Brin himself has already started to test out the current design.
Google’s New Glasses – Why?
The obvious question that comes to mind for non-geeky people is WHY. Why do we need glasses that allow us to video chat on a whim, take pictures, call friends, check in to places, make calls, check the weather, see maps and get messages?
Maybe the better question is this: why do we need phones that do all that? The new Google glasses are simply smartphones that you wear—making you a little more connected to the online world. The idea of wearing a smartphone may sound geeky for now, but the next ten years, it might not only be techies and nerds wearing Google’s new glasses (but… no promises).
How the New Google Glasses Work (and would you wear them?)
Google published a video showing us how the new Google glasses work, and it’s intriguing! You can watch the video below, and after you’ve finished, we have one question for you—would you wear the new Google glasses?
Last week, we discussed the value of adding social media buttons to your website. This week, we’re talking about the other side of adding social to your site—social media sharing buttons. While the icons will lead visitors to your business social media profiles, social sharing buttons will lead them to promote your website content on their personal profiles.
But before we get into how to obtain social sharing buttons of your own, we need to cover the WHY—why should we install social media sharing buttons on our websites? There are two strategies for implementation of social sharing buttons:
Social Sharing as a Linkbuilding Strategy
Every time someone clicks one of your social share buttons, they are creating a link back to your site. Although these links are often nofollowed on social media sites, they are still links, and each one creates the potential for even more sharing and reposting.
Social Sharing as… a Sharing Strategy
If you’re not as impressed by SEO, and don’t see a linkbuilding strategy doing much good, then take social sharing buttons just as they are—an easy way to get your website content shared and spread farther than you could on your own.
Social Media Sharing Buttons – What they are and where to get them
If you’re ready to get social sharing buttons for your business website, it’s time to choose what’s best for you. Below is an example of a few social media sharing buttons you could use, but note that there are so many more to choose from!
We use ShareThis as a source for our social media sharing buttons, and it has been a great free tool. You can customize it and choose the networks you’d like, and the format you’d prefer. To get the HTML code for your own social media buttons, simply go to the ShareThis website.
Working with HTML can be a little tricky, but not knowing how to use it isn’t a good reason to not use social media sharing buttons! If you host a website with us, give us a call and we can install them for you! If you have any other questions regarding social media, contact our web marketing team and we’ll get in touch with you!
If your business has a social media profile or two, it’s time to move on from simply posting and hoping that people will click through to your website. It’s time to grow your fan base. Although the number of followers you have doesn’t necessarily equal traffic to your website, it does mean that you have a larger audience and that is never a bad thing.
What is the Value of Adding Social Media Buttons?
Be honest with yourself as a business owner or marketer—you know not every person that visits your website is going to convert. In fact, depending on the genre of your site, the vast majority won’t. So how do you make sure they’ll come back when they’re ready?
Keep in contact.
One of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to do this is to gently nudge your visitors to follow your social media channels. It doesn’t matter which social network it is—it matters that once they hit “like,” “follow” or “add to circles,” your business is now in their feed. They could potentially see your business every time they log into their social media profiles.
That’s not to say that you can stop there, though! Just having more followers on your social networks isn’t going to increase your sales—that will only happen when combined with a consistent and quality social media plan.
To the right are a few examples of social media buttons that we’ve placed on our clients’ websites. Each social media icon is totally customizable, and that’s something we can do for you, as well!
Social Media Sharing Buttons
In this blog post, we’ve written about buttons that lead website visitors straight to your social networks. Stayed tuned to learn more about social media sharing buttons next week.
Google has a hand in everything, so it’s no surprise that they have a robust email system, with features and possibilities not found in other email systems. The functionality inside Google’s email hosting is revolutionary, and that’s the reason we are now suggesting it to our clients!
Benefits of using Google’s Email System
The great thing about Gmail is that it’s been refined time and time again. Gmail has been around since 2004, and has been improved upon every year since then. Now that it’s 2012, Gmail has had eight years to improve, and Google has delivered. Gmail today is a quality product that millions of people have adopted and loved.
Gmail for Business
Gmail isn’t just for individuals, though—Google has extended the email system to fit perfectly into the lives of businesses, as well. Through Google Apps for Businesses, Gmail has entered the realm of business email—allowing businesses to have respectable emails, instead of having the basic Gmail URL (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org), Google Apps allows you to create emails for your employees with your business website URL (i.e. email@example.com).
Their pricing is competitive, their features are quality and their availability (anywhere you can connect to the Internet and on any device) is exactly what every business needs.
You can learn more about Google’s business email system on their webpage.
If you frequent food carts at lunch, buy your produce at farmers markets, or spend a lot of time at trade shows, you’re bound to have run into a mobile payment device. Quickly attached to a mobile phone or tablet, these mobile credit card readers are making their way into the lives of small, mobile businesses.
For some time, though, there wasn’t a lot of competition. Businesses either used Square or Intuit’s GoPayment. Both devices sync with apple or Android phones or tablets. You can get the both devices for free, with a small fee for each transaction—2.75% for Square and 2.70% for Intuit’s GoPayment.
However, another mobile payment device emerged last week, and it comes from a well-enough known name that it could be a serious competitor for the two current mobile credit card readers. It is PayPal Here.
PayPal Here vs. Square vs. Intuit GoPayment
The new mobile payment device is quite a bit like its competitors. You can order it for free, but it comes with a fee per transaction. The fee matched Intuit’s, at 2.7%. The difference between that and Square’s equals out to only a penny every $20 spent, but those pennies can add up. Intuit GoPayment offers another option—a monthly fee instead of individual sales. Depending on how much you’re using a credit card reader, a monthly fee could be a good option.
One difference that everyone will notice right away is the look: Square is obviously square, while PayPal Here is triangular and Intuit GoPayment is a sort-of rectangle. Square has no obvious branding on their device, while PayPal and Intuit’s credit card readers are very obvious with their logos and colors, as seen in the image below.
Our guess is that most people are going to choose their mobile payment device, based primarily on either the transaction fee or the look and feel of the devices. Because you can order all of them for free, it’s even possible to test them all out to see which credit card reader works best for you!
Are you thinking about getting a mobile credit card reader? What kinds of places have you seen accepting mobile payments? What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments.
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Oftentimes, business owners are puzzled by high bounce rates on their websites. Despite quality products and relevant information, their bounce rates are often very high—a large amount of visitors are leaving the site quickly after just arriving.
This problem can be remedied with a heatmap tool. The tool is based on an algorithm that predicts what a human eye looks at first on a website. The algorithm predicts eye movements across the screen based on normal human eye actions. Because a visitor determines what’s important and whether they should stay in the first five seconds after visiting a site, this heatmap tool is proving invaluable.
Two Website Heatmap Examples
Below is an example of a heatmap evaluation that we did before redesigning our website. Although the old design worked well in the past, the Internet and its users have changed, and our design became ineffective. People simply weren’t stopping to read our information anymore.
Our new website design has created a much better pattern, according to our eye tracking software. People take the time to read our text, and then look at (and hopefully click) our “Get Started Today” button.
With the heatmap system we use, hotspots are numbered from 1 to 16, with “1″ being the most visually important part of the page. The hotspots are then tracked with a yellow line, and the importance of each particular hotspot is gauged by the color. “Orange” is a focused area while “green” is an area that will most likely catch only a glance.
The ideal number of hotspots for a homepage—or main campaign landing page—is 2 to 4, so its priority is clear for the visitor. When there are too many hotspots or when a page is too busy, major calls-to- action are not obvious, causing visitor confusion and higher bounce rates.
Would you like a Heatmap of Your Website?
Whether you’re looking for a new website design or a way to reduce your bounce rate, Smart Solutions can do a heatmap evaluation that will prove useful for your business. You can contact the web marketing team for more information.
Your business has a niche—that specific corner of the market that holds your ideal customer. Whether it’s college age girls or 60+ bird watchers, they are the people that help your business thrive. While other people may visit your business, your niche is made up of the people that have made your business what it is today.
When you, as a business owner, figure out your exact niche, it becomes important to market directly to them—something that can be difficult for many groups of people. You can rely on targeted Facebook ads, Google AdWords or even simple word-of-mouth, but there’s a better option—actually going out and meeting them.
Meet your Customers Directly Through Meetup.com
Meetup.com is the world’s largest network of local groups. It’s a website where like-minded people can meet in their own community and do things together as a group. There are groups that cover all sorts of niches—Google Analytics fans, marathon runners, beer connoisseurs, WordPress users and astronomy enthusiasts.
Now, while it’s a great tool for meeting like-minded people and making new friends, there is so much more to Meetup.com. There is the ability to meet the people that can help your business grow and expand. You can hang out with and talk to your perfect customer base directly by using Meetup.com.
There are two ways to use meetup.com—as an organizer and as an attendee. Organizers have more control over where the meetups happen and how they conduct business, but attendees have a lot of sway, as well. Sometimes it’s best to start out as an attendee, until you’ve met some of the regulars and understand it a little more.
It should be noted that Meetup.com isn’t going to work in every industry. The website isn’t a catch all for every type of business, so it’s entirely possible that your type of work isn’t going to have a high following on there. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t search though, so follow the steps below to see if there’s a group you could join:
- Go to Meetup.com
- Search industry-relevant keywords in your city and state.
- Browse through the options and ask to join a group that relates to your business
- Then go! Meet people who are interested in your industry and want to know more. It’s a great way to chat with the kind of folks that will be rockstars for your business.
Yesterday morning, when we logged onto Facebook, we were greeted with a pleasant surprise—Facebook pages can now be converted into timelines! We’ve been waiting on this Facebook update for a while, and we’re excited it’s finally here.
But… what is it? We wrote a post on Facebook timelines a few weeks ago, when they were released for users. The Facebook page timeline looks the same way, but serves a different purpose. With the original update for users, it was meant to tell the story of your life—even allowing you to fill in important information all the way back to your birth. The Facebook page timeline isn’t meant to tell the story of a business, but is really just a way to make Facebook more united in its look, and have more attractive business pages.
Although it was officially announced yesterday morning, Facebook won’t force this update on you just yet—you have one month. On March 30, all Facebook business pages will automatically convert to the timeline. The time to fill yours out is now!
Facebook Pages Timeline To Do’s
Facebook Page Cover Photos
The first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a compelling cover photo! We’ve done this for our own Facebook profile, and we’ve found a couple others around Facebook that we like! How you choose to design your cover photo depends on how you run your business profile—keep it consistent!
Facebook Page Highlights
Another thing to look at is the highlight feature. Highlights can make your statuses more prominent on the page—stretching across both sides of the timeline. You can make any status a highlight by clicking the star in the upper right hand corner of the post.
Facebook Landing Pages
One thing you’ll notice right away—landing pages are gone. The tabs that allowed you to use a like gate are now irrelevant. People can still get to your tabs, but it isn’t something that many people are going to notice. It’s time to center your Facebook strategy on something other than a Facebook landing page.
Facebook Page Messaging
The last exciting update is something that makes the business pages a little more personal—messaging! Facebook pages can now message other Facebook pages. And a step further than that—people can message Facebook pages. This means quick, anonymous and secret messaging between Facebook pages. It also means that many larger companies are going to realize the value of hiring social media services. With fans being able to message the business itself, social media managers are going to get a lot busier!
What are your thoughts on Facebook timelines for pages? There’s many different views on this Facebook update, and we want to know yours! Tell us on our Smart Solutions timeline.
Google always has a fun little something for us on special holidays, and Valentine’s Day is no different! Since their first Valentine’s Day doodle in 2000, Google has made their doodles more and more impressive!
The above image is from twelve years ago. Ready to see what they have for us today?
Happy Valentines Day, from all of us here at Smart Solutions!