Closed captions: Transcripts Aid Learning for Almost all Students

Transcripts for Students from Video Aid Learning

Most college and university students who use closed captions and transcripts on video and multimedia find them helpful as a learning tool, despite them not regularly being made available, according to new research from Oregon State University.

One of the first surveys of its type, of 2,124 students across 15 public and private universities nationwide, found that 98.6 percent of students say captions are helpful, with 75 percent of them noting that they use captions as a learning aid in face-to-face and online classrooms. For video transcripts, students referenced the tool as a learning aid 85 percent of the time.

More than half of students surveyed said captions help by improving comprehension. The most common reasons students use captions are to help them focus, retain information and overcome the poor audio quality of the videos, while transcripts are often used as study guides and to find and retain information.

The national study, conducted by the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit in collaboration with 3Play Media, also shows that among the students surveyed, only 13 percent had registered with an office of disability services and less than 12 percent require academic accommodations. Of all respondents, 19 percent cited having difficulty with hearing and 37 percent have difficulty with vision.

"Many people associate the use of closed captions and transcripts only with disability accommodation, and that can mean they are not made widely available," said Katie Linder, director of the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit and author of the study. "One hope for this study was to help educate university administrators about how a range of students are using these tools, and that making them more available could help more learners."

According to Linder, closed captions and transcripts are now a legal obligation for universities that receive federal funding when they create videos for courses and for institutional purposes, to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access.
"Despite this, many institutions do not understand the legal obligation, or they only associate these tools with disability accommodation and do not consider how they could be helpful to all students," Linder said.

The study found that almost 100 percent of survey respondents had at least one course, either face-to-face or online, that included some video content. However, more than one-quarter of respondents were unsure about the availability of closed captions and almost one in five were not sure about the availability of transcripts of the videos in their courses.

"Not only is captioning often necessary for accessibility compliance, but, as the study shows, 75 percent of students use captions as a learning aid to improve their focus, retention, engagement, and comprehension when watching videos for class," said Lily Bond, director of marketing at 3Play Media, a company that provides closed captioning, transcription and subtitling solutions.

"As the use of video in higher education becomes more commonplace, making captions and transcripts more widely available should be a priority for institutions."

The survey was voluntary, conducted online and contained 46 questions. All study participants were college and university undergraduate and graduate students, mainly undergraduate, over the age of 18, and the majority of them came from the public, four-year institutions.

"In many ways, this study is just scratching the surface of what we know about how students use and perceive closed captions and transcripts in the college and university classroom," Linder said. "Additional research related to student use and perceptions of closed captions and transcripts is welcomed and encouraged."

A summary of the findings is available online at http://bit.ly/2eKmswJ, as well as a downloadable version of the full report.

* This report first appeared on http://phys.org/news on the 1st November 2016.
** Header image designed by Virtuadmin

7 Surprising Places to Find Your Virtual Assistant

 

Where to find a Virtual Assistant
7 Surprising Places to Find Your Virtual Assistant

Welcome to Whose Business Is This, Anyway? Where the tasks are unending and your stress level doesn’t matter: Sound familiar?

If it also sounds like your life as an entrepreneur, until this point every little milestone of that life has probably been a celebrated victory. But the novelty is probably starting to wear off.

Related: The Virtual Assistant: A Startup’s Secret Weapon

 There’s content to be edited and updates to be made to your website. You’ve missed two meetings and can’t remember who the contacts are to reschedule them. And your inbox count looks like the GDP of a small country.

There’s a lot to be said about optimizing your own daily routine to get the most out of your days, but that can only take you so far. While you may have aspirations of a tremendously profitable quarter, it’s probably time to compose yourself and admit that you’re not going to be able to do it all alone. You can’t continue growing a business if you’re tethered to your desk.

Traditional hiring processes take far too long when you need someone immediately who can take the load off your shoulders. Ideally, you want someone who can materialize, quickly get up to speed on what’s happening, handle the workload, and disappear until needed again.

I’m referring to a VA (virtual assistant).

This is where a lot of entrepreneurs will cringe. Sure, it’s hard to give up control, and you may find it a challenge to find someone who is reliable and whom you can trust with private company intel. But those someones are out there: You just have to know where to look.

Here are seven surprising places to start your search.

1. Twitter

I am absolutely advocating that you search social media to find a stranger to trust with your business. Start talking about the need for a virtual assistant on Twitter, and you’ll be surprised just how fast VA businesses will respond and start following you. Some of the best VA companies have listening posts set up with alerts to find people just like you.

The best part is that if you’ve got a social-savvy VA, Twitter is just one more task he or she can help you with.

2. Your network

If your contact list includes other business owners, mentors, influencers, professionals or any combination thereof, then it’s time to make calls and let them know you need help. Chances are, they know someone, or can recommend a service they may have used in the past. Don’t ever forget about the power of referrals and word of mouth.

Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt decided it was time to pick up a virtual assistant when he began to focus on his writing and saw his blog traffic (and workload) spike. He has had the same virtual assistant for years now and swears by her.

“I found that I was so much more productive that it was well worth the additional investment,” Hyatt says of his assistant. “She’s just one of my teammates — and a very valuable one at that.”

Related: How to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Startup Success

3. VANetworking

If you’ve never worked with a virtual assistant and you came up short on referrals, VANetworking is a good place to start. VAs often network and come together here as a means of finding work, as well as solutions. Not only do they provide information for clients who want to work with a virtual assistant, they also have a hiring section where you can post in search of a VA.

4. Craigslist

This one might be as surprising as Twitter. While the go-to classifieds site has its share of scammers, it’s very possible to find a top-notch virtual assistant on Craigslist. You can also look on Craigslist sites elsewhere in the world and choose your desired location, though the local aspect can be a huge benefit. Even though your assistant will be working remotely, you’ll have the advantage of setting up a face-to-face interview as if you were hiring an in-house employee.

Just make sure you do your legwork, like verifying work history and checking references.

5. Zirtual

Zirtual is a great choice for startups and entrepreneurs as the site specializes in providing dedicated virtual assistants to entrepreneurs, professionals and small teams. One of the biggest perks is that it works only with college-educated VAs who are based in the United States, so you don’t need to worry about the vetting process. Zirtual boasts that fewer than 2 percent of applicants get hired on to their service.

Pat Flynn, founder of Smart Passive Income, often shares the benefits of working with virtual assistants on his podcast. In his tutorial on delegation, he writes, “I know just how valuable my time is and where my time should be invested to give me the most return.”

6. Workshops and events

Hopefully, you’re consciously aware that you’ll need help down the road and that you have time to be on the lookout. If that’s the case, then always keep the VA search in the back of your mind as you travel to industry events, workshops, and lectures. Those are great places for industry professionals to gather. If you find a VA at an event like this, you know he or she already has at least one foot inside the door of your industry.

Related: Hiring a Virtual Assistant Grew My Business, and Changed My Life

7. College campuses

A local college, or any college for that matter, can be a great place to locate a VA. Talk with career counselors or professors, or post hiring ads on campus job boards to try to locate a student studying in your industry. You may find a student chomping at the bit for a paid internship, willing to act as a virtual assistant as a means of learning the industry and gaining experience in his or her chosen career track.

*  This post first appeared on Entrepreneur.com on 17th October 2016 and is written by SUJAN PATEL

**  Header Image courtesy of Pixabay.com and edited by Virtuadmin.uk

Webinar Success with Transcription

Webinar Success with Transcription
This post originally appeared on Business 2 Community 13th October 2016, written by Jessica Vionas

After the webinar is done, I usually heave a huge sigh of relief (especially if there were no technical difficulties!). However, you just had a whole bunch of people engage with you for an hour—now is not the time to drop the ball!

Recording

Recording your webinar is super important for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Webinar registrants expect that a recording will be available after the event. If a meeting comes up or attendees must leave early, they expect to be able to catch the recording later.
  2. After attending the live event, webinar attendees may want to recommend watching the recording to a colleague.
  3. Recordings allow the marketer to get a transcription made.
  4. This transcription helps in creating other pieces of content from the information in the webinar.
  5. A transcription should also be uploaded to your website for SEO purposes.
  6. A transcription also allows an option for hearing-impaired audience members to access to the content.
  • Recordings are another piece of gated content that can be offered on your website in perpetuity to convert new visitors into leads.
  • You can send a recording to potential speakers so they can see what your webinars are like and what previous presenters have covered.
  • New customers may find past webinars helpful in educating themselves on a particular topic.

Because of these reasons, the best practice is to always have one main recording mechanism as well as a backup in case the first fails. (I have had my laptop crash in the middle of recording a live webinar. It happens.) Many webinar software options now have a recording feature, so you can rely on that functionality as one method.

Sidebar: How do you put the recording on your website?

One of the methods I used for delivered the recording was to upload the video to YouTube as an unlisted video and then embed it on our website’s thank you page (this can also work with Wistia, Vimeo, or any other video hosting site). Another option would be to give visitors the ability to download the video file directly to their computers by uploading the raw MP4 or WAV file. You may decide to do both.

For the backup, have a non-presenting or participating employee record as an attendee using software such as Camtasia. Make sure this recorder turns off all notifications including email and chat, turns off all screen savers (and power save mode for laptops); turns off the microphone, and doesn’t use the computer at all during the webinar. This will result in the cleanest recording possible.

If you are able, test both recording mechanisms during one of your dry runs to make sure the quality and technology are working properly.

Once the webinar is over, review both recordings and select the one that is better. (Usually one will have superior sound compared with the other.) If any major faux pas occurred during the webinar (such as software crashing during a product demo or a question that didn’t make sense), they can be edited out, as can any dead space at the beginning or end.

Some companies choose to do a second session of the webinar for recording purposes only. This may lead to a more polished presentation because the speaker has already given the content once. Depending on how the live event goes, this may or may not be necessary. Another option is to replace a certain section of the webinar that didn’t go well and not the whole thing. When choosing this method, just be aware that sound differences will make this splice noticeable to the listeners, so choose wisely.

Post-Event Activities

  • If the speaker was external, call immediately after the webinar is over and thank him or her for presenting. (You may want to also send a gift, depending on if you agreed to an honorarium.)
  • Sending the registration and attendee spreadsheets to your sales team.
  • Sending any unanswered questions to the speaker and asking to respond to you with the answers so that you can get back to the attendees (unless the presenter doesn’t mind responding to the attendees directly, but usually, I have found that speakers prefer someone else handle it).
  • Editing and uploading the recording of the webinar to whichever hosting service you’ll be using.
  • Sending the recording to a transcription service and then uploading the finished transcript to your website.
  • Updating your webinar registration page for the recording, or archiving the registration page and creating a new landing page for the recording.
  • Responding to any people who emailed you asking for access to the recording and/or slides.
  • Uploading the slides to SlideShare.
  • Going back to any blog posts you wrote about the upcoming webinar and either editing them to include the link to the recording or posting a comment with the link.
  • Updating the website announcements with revised wording to view the recording instead of registering for the event. Don’t forget to add the recording to your resources page on your website.
  • Creating CTAs for use at the end of blog posts on the topic.

Follow-Up

Follow-up after the webinar is just as important as promoting the webinar before the event.

Most post-webinar campaigns will usually include sending an email to all the registrants with a link to the recording and slides. (Send a slightly different email to those who attended and to those who didn’t.) For customers, this may be all that is needed.

Prior to the webinar, you should have already determined what you want the next steps to be for leads who attended. If the topic was educational, one option is to direct attendees to download an e-book or visit a blog post that ties the subject matter to your company and product (consideration or decision stage content).

For leads who are new to your database, lead nurturing over the next couple of weeks can help solidify your company as a source of educational content with the eventual goal of helping them down the buyer’s journey.

Other Post-Event Considerations

Webinars take a lot of time and work. Don’t let this effort go to the wayside: Think about how you can use the webinar content in other ways. Perhaps the speaker would be interested in writing a post on the topic they just covered. Or, take the transcript and develop your own blog post from it (a one-hour webinar can easily be repurposed into three blog posts). Was there a section of the content that would lend itself to an infographic? How about a podcast with your internal expert breaking down the webinar play-by-play? Even the Q&A section can be reused.

* This post originally appeared on Business 2 Community on 13th October 2016, written by Jessica Vionas

10 Invoicing Tools to Make Freelancers’ Lives Easier

Freelancers Invoicing Tools

Freelancers’ success depends on their organizational skills – both when it comes to finding/delivering work, and especially when it comes to getting paid. After all, “The cornerstone to getting…

Freelancers’ success depends on their organizational skills – both when it comes to finding/delivering work, and especially when it comes to getting paid. After all, “The cornerstone to getting paid is more effective invoicing.” So says freelance financial journalist Miranda Marquit – and she’s right.

There’s a vast array of freelancer-friendly invoicing tools out there, with a variety of features to please every solopreneur:

  • “Easy Pay” integration with PayPal, Quickbooks, etc.
  • Recurring invoices option/automation
  • Template customization and branding options
  • User-friendly phone app
  • Expense reporting
  • Time tracking tool
  • Internationally compatible
  • Price (of course!)

Here are 10 great invoicing tools that keep these features in mind:

  1. Due – Due has done, well, its due diligence when it comes to creating a service that is both sophisticated and intuitive for both freelancers and clients. You can customize just about everything from the design of the invoice to your payment terms, all while safely storing information in the cloud. The “freemium” service allows for 2 free invoices per month while the premium service is $49 annually or about $4/month. Favorite features: Ability to track partial payments, and simultaneous invoicing for multiple contacts.
  1. FreshBooks – With 5 million users and growing, FreshBooks‘ cloud-based accounting service is a serious contender. They’ve got noteworthy features like a 24/7 “award-winning” support team, a newly designed iOS app, and recently launched card reader technology. They offer a 30-day free trial, and unlimited invoices for a starting rate of $12.95 per month, up to five clients.
  1. Nutcache – For their reasonable price and generous features, Nutcache is quite appealing. The list of included services is impressive, so you should have no trouble finding a package with the features you need. A favorite: Ability to attach and store documents with invoices and estimates. Nutcache’s caters to both individual entrepreneurs and enterprises – so feel free to explode your business. Free accounts offer the basics – recurring invoices and VIP support require a subscription, which starts at $5 per month.
  1. Hiveage – Hiveage, formerly Curdbee, offers unlimited customers and invoices in their free plan. Additional features, like time tracking, cost extra. Don’t like any of their packages? Create your own customized plan starting at $6.95 per month. Favorite feature: Ability to manage multiple teams and businesses from a single account.
  1. Wave – Wave has a niche with the little guy (independent contractors, sole proprietors, or companies with nine employees or less) and for good reason. Mentionable features include the ability to create and send recurring invoices, to see when invoices are viewed, to add messages to your invoices, and to do all of the above for multiple clients at once – for free. However, when it comes to accepting payment from credit cards, they charge the standard rate (2.9% + $0.30 in the US).
  1. Invoicera – Invoicera‘s notable features include ability, to add custom fields to invoices and set your own exchange rate (small business level). They also offer detailed invoicing reports, handy for budgeting. A free plan is available for subscribers with three clients or less, with pricing starting at $19.95 per month for larger client bases.
  1. Zoho – Zoho is easy to understand and free to use if you have 5 clients or less. For those who need more than invoicing, Zoho offers additional tool suites like sales and marketing and human resources – which can all be managed from one account, though each is priced separately. One nice invoicing feature is the option to send retainer invoices for advance payments. Paid plans start at $15 per month.
  1. Harvest – Harvest allows you to quickly create personalized invoices that are compatible with international currency and tax rates. The look of the invoices is super easy to read – for example, you can list your amount due at both the top and bottom of the page. Integration with Forecast, their time planning tool, lets you compare estimates versus actual costs to stay on budget. Four clients or two projects per month are free, with unlimited options available at $12 per month.
  1. Billbooks – With Billbooks‘ cloud-based accounting and invoicing service, you are given the option to pay for invoice “credits” as you go instead of paying a monthly fee. Their abbreviated invoice creation process can be done in less than 60 seconds. You also have the option to customize your dashboard to organize exactly as your brain desires. For up to three invoices per month, the service is free, with credit packages starting at $10 per month.
  1. Simplybill – With the motto “Experience the joy of billing,” Simplybill boasts they’re the “easiest to use” of all online invoicing services. That’s something for you to decide. They offer 40+ template designs, cloud-based storage, simple invoicing tools, and additional features starting at a cool $5 per month.

Freelancers have enough to do without cobbling together DIY invoicing options – especially with so many great tools to choose from. And who has time to sort this all out in any meaningful way? Or you can stick with handwritten tallies, of course. Though your accountant might kill you.
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/small-business/10-invoicing-tools-make-freelancers-lives-easier-01545716#6t0c3SJI8P8MWeGy.99

Source: 10 Invoicing Tools to Make Freelancers’ Lives Easier

100 Power Words to Improve Blog Writing

To improve blog writing skills, one of the things you need to know are powerful words that can evoke emotions that you want. Here are some of those words.

Are you trying to take your blog to the next level by improving your writing skills? This is a great idea! Good writing is the foundation of a great blog. If you don’t have that, all of the videos and infographics in the world cannot help you.

One way to increase the effectiveness of your writing is to use power words. These are words and phrases that grab the reader’s attention and evoke an emotional reaction or a desire to take some kind of action. Here are 100 power words that you can begin incorporating into your blog, and some notes on how and why they are effective.

Improve Your Blog Writing

Power Words that Encourage

These words are words that create a sense of encouragement. When readers see these words they feel courageous, ready to take on a difficult task, and empowered. These are great words to use when you want readers to be certain that they are not limited by personal difficulties. These power words are perfect when you wish to provide assurance that a difficult event or period of time is not insurmountable. Many of these power words can be used to lead into a call for action. This is because your readers will feel energized and more motivated to take action. Here are a few power words that encourage:

  1. Triumph
  2. Bravery
  3. Mind-blowing
  4. Magical
  5. Sensational
  6. Fearless
  7. Courage
  8. Hope

These are by no means the only power words that bring people encouragement, but they are quite powerful. Hopefully, knowing these words will help you to identify other power words that you can use when you want people reading your blog to feel encouraged and empowered. If you are posting on a subject that is heartbreaking or upsetting, you may find that these power words provide a needed balance to the news you are delivering.

Power Words that Make People Angry

Why would you want to make your readers angry? Actually, there are many reasons. Are you blogging about social issues? Are you trying to make your readers passionate about doing something to eradicate some horrible disease? Is there an injustice somewhere that you want to motivate your readers to address? Well, you do that by using power words that make them angry about the issue and ready to take meaningful action. Is your blog something that you use to market your products and services?

If so, do not skip this section. You too can benefit from using power words that make readers angry. Shouldn’t they be angry if they have been receiving poor customer service from your competitors? Shouldn’t they be angry if they have been overcharged all this time? Take a look at these power words that evoke a healthy sense of anger:

  1. Arrogant
  2. Bully
  3. Underhanded
  4. Disrespectful
  5. Loathsome
  6. Crooked
  7. Foul
  8. Deceitful
  9. Lying
  10. Taken advantage of
  11. Misleading

Hopefully, when people see these words in your blog they feel the kind of anger that motivates them to get out and make changes. Try using these words in your blog posts, and you can motivate your readership to do anything from donating to a cause, writing a letter to the editor, or converting to your products and services.

Related: Tips That Will Get You in Your Writing Zone

You may wish to combine these power words with some power words that cause encouragement. After all, who is more effective than a person who is justifiably angry and who believes that they are capable of making a difference?

Power Words that Tempt People

Everybody wants to be in on a secret. They want to access to information that others do not have. They want to do things that are ‘forbidden’. They want to see themselves as insiders, and as part of an elite, exclusive group.

Power words that tempt people evoke curiosity. It makes them want to find out more. It encourages them to find out what it is that they might be missing out on. These are some of the strongest call-to-action words that any blogger can use. Here are the power words that tempt:

  1. Unauthorized
  2. What they don’t want you to know
  3. Off limits
  4. Limited Access
  5. Elite
  6. Behind the Scenes
  7. Secret
  8. Banned
  9. Black market
  10. Insider
  11. Controversial
  12. Concealed
  13. Locked Away
  14. Cover up
  15. Confidential
  16. Limited Edition
  17. Insiders Only
  18. Forbidden

These power words are very effective if you want to attract more readers to your content, to create viral content, and to publish content that starts conversations. Have you ever played with the idea of using special rewards and the promise of access to premium content in order to get new subscribers and followers?

These power words do an amazing job of sending out a call to action to those who crave VIP status, and who love being the first among their friends to get the insider information. Of course, if you promise insider deals, special access, or to reveal secrets, you have to follow through.

Power Words that Evoke a Love of Money

Who doesn’t like getting something for free, or at least at a deep discount? People love feeling as if they are getting a great deal, or as if they will be getting something for nothing. Power words that manipulate people’s desire for freebies and special deals have been in use for years.

In fact, you will probably recognize many of these words from advertisements that you watched your entire life. Some of them may seem a bit corny, but they do work. Check out these greed inducing power words that you can use on your next blog:

  1. Skyrocket
  2. Freebie
  3. Giveaway
  4. BOGO
  5. Rewards
  6. Discount
  7. Free
  8. Jackpot
  9. Markdown
  10. Savings
  11. Rock Bottom
  12. Barely Used
  13. Employee Discount
  14. Insider Discount
  15. Special
  16. Pennies
  17. Dollar
  18. Cheap
  19. Slashed
  20. Limited Time
  21. One Time Only
  22. Just for Loyal Customers
  23. Inexpensive
  24. Gift
  25. Fortune
  26. Advantage
  27. Triple
  28. Double
  29. Prize
  30. Gift

People love sales, free offers, door prizes, deep discounts, and coupons. Use these power words and you’ll keep your sales staff busy for days as they field calls and inquiries. If you are creating a post announcing a future sales event, you will gain significant traction with your audience if you incorporate just a few of these words in your posts.

Power Words that Evoke Feelings of Fear and Terror

Fear words are extremely effective in grabbing and keeping the attention of your readers. After all, fear words are what many media outlets use to keep people watching. Fear can be used as a call to action. It can be used to convince people that something deserves their attention. Fear can also be used to convince people that they will miss out on something if they do not continue reading.

There is definitely a danger of abusing these words and using them to unfairly manipulate your audience. But, as long as they are used judiciously and you are honest with any facts that you present, these words can really make your blog ‘pop’. Here are some fear mongering power words that you may be able to use when writing blogs in the future:

  1. Refugee
  2. Banished
  3. Backlash
  4. Abuse
  5. Hurricane
  6. Gullible
  7. Revenge
  8. Victimized
  9. Crime
  10. Assault
  11. Prison
  12. Horrific
  13. Scream
  14. Risky
  15. Tainted
  16. Prison
  17. Jail
  18. Taxes
  19. Debt
  20. Lurking
  21. Terrorists
  22. Shadowy
  23. Instability
  24. Lawsuit
  25. IRS
  26. Nightmare
  27. Devastating
  28. Virus
  29. Infectious
  30. Inflicted
  31. Heinous
  32. Shocking
  33. Toxic

These words don’t just evoke fear. They evoke a desire to learn more, to stay tuned, and to get more information. Fear words may be initially shocking to read, but eventually shock will turn into a desire to take action. You can use these words to create a formula that moves your readers from shock and fear to action. Then, your job is to simply guide them to the action that you would like them to take.

A Final Note on Power Words

It may be difficult to imagine how 100 words and phrases can have such an emotional impact, but the truth is these words create responses in ways that other words don’t. If you combine the use of power words with other marketing techniques that are used to promote and market blogs/websites online, increase user engagement and make content viral (SEO, mobile friendly, social media, right keywords, etc.), you will be well on your way to increasing your readership and your internet presence.

So, why not give a few of these words a try on your next few blog posts. Then, take a few measurements. You will likely find that shares and comments increase. If you don’t see results right away, don’t be discouraged. It can take time to get into the groove when it comes to using power words effectively.

3 Examples of How Semicolons Strengthen a Sentence & 3 Cases of Overkill

Semicolons help clarify construction of sentences. Using the punctuation mark, employed as either a comma on steroids or a strategically flexible period, is usually just one of two or more possible solutions, but though it has a stuffy reputation and many writers are confused about its applications, it often is the best choice.

1. This issue is not cut and dried, it’s actually fairly complicated.

This sentence demonstrates the simplest and perhaps most common error related to the role of the semicolon: the failure to use it when needed in the weak period function. This pair of independent clauses must be separated by a semicolon: “This issue is not cut and dried; it’s actually fairly complicated.”

Replacing the comma with a dash or beginning a new sentence with it’s are alternative strategies, though the

statement does not include a sharp break in thought (which a dash is intended to signal) and does not constitute two distinct ideas meriting separate sentences, so the semicolon is the most suitable solution.

2. For breakfast, he had eggs the way he liked them, over easy, bacon, locally raised, of course, toast, and coffee, which he always stirred exactly 10 times to blend in the milk.

This sentence requires semicolons to clearly organize a rambling list of words and phrases that constitute a menu: “For breakfast, he had eggs the way he liked them, over easy; bacon, locally raised, of course; toast; and coffee, which he always stirred exactly 10 times to blend in the milk.”

However, the preparation details can also be presented enclosed in parentheses, which renders semicolons unnecessary: “For breakfast, he had eggs the way he liked them (over easy), bacon (locally raised, of course), toast, and coffee (which he always stirred exactly 10 times to blend in the milk).” For consistency and to enhance sentence balance and rhythm, better yet, a corresponding detail about the toast should be inserted.

3. The act offers protection from lawsuits arising from monitoring information systems, including employee email, cyberthreat-related disclosures, and sharing of that information with other companies.

This sentence requires semicolons because even though “including employee email” seems obviously related to the preceding phrase, the sentence can also be read as if employee email, cyberthreats-related disclosures, and sharing of that information with other companies are being offered as examples of information systems. Use the stronger punctuation mark in such sentences so that the sentence organization is unambiguous: “The act offers protection from lawsuits arising from monitoring information systems, including employee email; cyberthreat-related disclosures; and sharing of that information with other companies.”

Cases of Semicolon Overkill

Semicolons serve a useful function in helping distinguish between elements of complex sentences, but lengthy sentences with long phrases do not necessarily require the support semicolons provide. These three sentences demonstrate an unnecessary application of the semicolon as a comma on steroids.

1. Electrical shock may cause serious burns; injuries to internal organs, such as your heart; and even death.

Semicolons should generally be employed as strong commas when elements of a list themselves include lists or otherwise include commas of their own. Here, however, the sentence construction is clear and simple; “such as your heart” is obviously part of the list element pertaining to injuries to internal organs (and doesn’t necessarily need to be set off from the rest of the phrase anyway): “Electrical shock may cause serious burns, injuries to internal organs, such as your heart, and even death.”

2. Examples of enhancements might include reporting on the status of critical enterprise risks; changes in key external variables impacting the validity of the organization’s strategic assumptions; significant emerging risks; the capabilities for managing other important business risks; and the status of initiatives to improve capabilities.

The elements of this list are wordy but not complex, so “super coma” semicolons are an excessive measure: “Examples of enhancements might include reporting on the status of critical enterprise risks, changes in key external variables impacting the validity of the organization’s strategic assumptions, significant emerging risks, the capabilities for managing other important business risks, and the status of initiatives to improve capabilities.”

3. The basketball star’s legendary moves—aerial assaults; triple-clutch reverse layups; facials on seven-footers; one-handed rebounds or ball fakes; opposing shots stolen from the sky; big-game buzzer beaters at any time—couldn’t be replicated.

As in the previous example, the use of semicolons in this sentence is overkill: “The basketball star’s legendary moves—aerial assaults, triple-clutch reverse layups, facials on seven-footers, one-handed rebounds or ball fakes, opposing shots stolen from the sky, big-game buzzer beaters at any time—couldn’t be replicated.”

*This post first appeared on Daily Writing Tips by By Mark Nichol

25 Visual Content Marketing Tools To Engage Your Audience by Tomas Laurinavicius

Today I’m sharing a list of 25 visual content marketing tools to engage your audience. It will help you to enrich the storytelling experience you’re creating.

Desygner is an online design tool that lets you create banners, posters, invitations, Facebook covers, social media posts and more, all for free.

Snappa is on of the easiest graphic design tools you’ll ever use. It allows you to create amazing designs without the help of a graphic designer.

Canva makes it super easy to create graphics that get engagement on social media. There’s plenty of templates for marketers from email headers to blog graphics.

Piktochart is an easy-to-use infographic maker. It will take your visual communication to the next level, without hiring a professional designer.

Prezi makes presentations stand out and get remembered. Unlike static slides, it combines motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to engage your audience and help them remember your message.

Visage is a design and visual content creation tool for content marketers who need to create a lot of visual content.

Curalate is a visual commerce platform that connects content to commerce throughout the customer journey to generate awareness, increase engagement and drive revenue.

Storify gives you the tools to create the best evergreen and live blog stories, uniting traditional storytelling with engaged audiences.

PlaceIt lets you upload images of your product or website and insert them into high-quality photos for free. No Photoshop needed.

Silk is a data publishing platform. It lets anyone create interactive data visualizations, publish websites, and tell interactive stories.

ThingLink lets you create custom interactive images by adding clickable icons to links, video, text, music, other images, you name it.

Pablo by Buffer is a simple yet powerful design tool to help you become a better social media marketer. It’s designed for social sharing and makes it very easy to capture images to share directly to social networks or to add to your social content.

SlideShare is the biggest slide hosting service in the world. While it doesn’t provide creation tools, it’s a perfect place to find inspiration for your visual content or upload your own documents, presentations, infographics and more.

Polarr is free and powerful online photo editor. Simply put it’s the pro photo editor for everyone. From high-precision color tools to advanced clarity and dehaze filters, Polarr brings free pro photo editing tools to your mobile device.

ChartBlocks is an online chart building tool. You can easily design and share a chart in minutes. Import your data, design your chart and then start sharing it.

Infogr.am is the world’s most popular infographics creator. You can easily add graphs, maps, text, and even playable videos without diving deep into a design program.

Datawrapper empowers you to create amazing visualizations in seconds. You can use visuals to reflect numbers-related content by creating engaging presentations and infographics.

InVision is the world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. It’s a great solution for publishing clickable and interactive high-fidelity prototypes in minutes.

Venngage is another great online tool for creating beautiful infographics. To get started choose from hundreds of professional templates for infographics, reports, posters, promotions and social media posts.

Easel.ly lets you create and share visual ideas. You can choose from thousands of reporting, timeline, resume and process templates.

Issuu is the largest collection of free-to-read publications from incredible publishers around the globe. You can publish content such as magazines, catalogs, eBooks and more on this free platform.

Adobe Post empowers you to create stunning social graphics in seconds. A perfect tool for content marketers on the go.

Uberflip is a content experience platform that aggregates all of your content (blog articles, eBooks, videos, white papers, and more) so you can create, manage, and optimize tailored content experiences for every stage of the buyer journey.

Apester is a digital storytelling platform that allows you to create and embed surveys, personality tests, video quizzes and polls into your social posts.

Mapme is one of the most powerful map creators out there. You can easily create, customize, grow and promote your maps. The best part? No coding needed.

What’s your tool of choice?

That’s a big list to choose from. What tools do you use for your visual content marketing needs? Share them by leaving a comment or tweet me @tomaslau.

*This post by Tomas Laurinavicius first appeared on Forbes Tech on 11th May 2016.

 

 

 

3 Cases of Missing Commas By Mark Nichol (Daily Writing Tips)

Grammar Tips for Using a ColonThe presence or absence of a single punctuation mark can create confusion or ambiguity about the meaning of a sentence. Three sentences illustrating this problem, each followed by discussion and revision, follow:

1. These factors make it hard for management to decide what to communicate to directors given the board’s crowded agenda.

The lack of punctuation preceding given creates the implication that it is a verb that refers to something the directors are being handed. But here, given is a preposition signaling that information about a mitigating factor is about to be imparted, and punctuation should separate this tacked-on phrase from the main clause: “These factors make it hard for management to decide what to communicate to directors, given the board’s crowded agenda.” (The additional phrase could also begin the sentence: “Given the board’s crowded agenda, these factors make it hard for management to decide what to communicate to directors.”)

2. It’s not a real pleasant experience to tell you the truth.

As written, this sentence suggests that the writer does not enjoy telling the truth to the reader (or, if the sentence is a quotation, to someone the speaker is talking to), but this is not the writer’s (or speaker’s) intent. To signal that “to tell the truth” is simply a conversational aside, it should be separated from the main clause: “It’s not a real pleasant experience, to tell you the truth.” (As in the previous sentence, the modifying phrase can begin the sentence: “To tell you the truth, it’s not a real pleasant experience.”)

3. The coach had pursued a star athlete only to have a deal fall just short.

This sentence reads as if the coach had tried to recruit an athlete for the sole purpose of having a deal fall short; only could be misconstrued as a synonym for merely. But the part of the sentence starting with only is a modifying phrase describing the result of a sincere recruiting effort, and it should be set off from the main clause: “The coach had pursued a star athlete, only to have a deal fall just short.” (Unlike the dependent clauses and the main clauses in the sentences above, this pair of clauses cannot be transposed without heavy revision.)

Source: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/3-cases-of-missing-commas/

Writer’s block? Try typing one-handed: Slowing down how fast you type can boost the quality of your writing By Sophie Freeman

By Sophie Freeman For Mailonline Published: 05:43 EST, 7 March 2016

Researchers from Canada used text-analysis software to analyse essays  The vocabulary became more sophisticated when typed with one hand Experts said slowing our writing down allows us more time to think.

Whether you have ambitions to be the next J.K. Rowling, or just want to send more impressive emails to your boss, try typing the words with one hand. The quality of our writing improves when we type single-handedly, according to a study.

The quality of our writing improves when we type single-handedly, according to a study. Using text-analysis software, researchers found that the vocabulary used by study participants as they wrote essays became more sophisticated when they typed with one hand rather than two.  Stock image pictured

Using text-analysis software, researchers found that the vocabulary used by study participants as they wrote essays became more sophisticated when they typed with one hand rather than two. The quality of our writing improves when we type single-handedly, according to a study. Using text-analysis software, researchers found that the vocabulary used by study participants as they wrote essays became more sophisticated when they typed with one hand rather than two.  ‘Typing can be too fluent or too fast, and can actually impair the writing process,’ said lead author of the study, Srdan Medimorec, from the University of Waterloo, Canada. ‘It seems that what we write is a product of the interactions between our thoughts and the tools we use to express them.’

The research team said that by slowing our writing down, typing one-handed allows more time for an internal word search, resulting in a larger variety of words. However, it is important not to slow typing down too much, they said – as previous research has found this can impair our writing.

The one-handed typers in the current study only slowed down to about the speed of handwriting.

The research team said that by slowing our writing down, typing one-handed allows more time for an internal word search, resulting in a larger variety of words. The one-handed typers in the current study only slowed down to about the speed of handwriting.

‘This is the first study to show that when you interfere with people’s typing, their writing can get better,’ said senior author of the study, Professor Evan Risko. The researchers suggest that speed could affect writing quality regardless of the tools, whether they are text-to-speech programs, computers, or a pen and paper, but future research is required to confirm this theory they said.

For the study, which was published in the British Journal of Psychology, the researchers carried out three separate experiments.  Participants were asked to write an essay describing a memorable day at school or an event that had a positive effect on them, or one in which they defended their position on banning mobile phones in schools.

TYPING PATTERNS MAY REVEAL BRAIN DISORDERS

Scientists claim the computer keyboard could be a powerful new tool in their battle against Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at MIT believe a person’s keystrokes may reveal a huge amount of information about their motor skills.

Now they’re working on creating a keyboard that can tell doctors if someone has the neuron impairment, simply by analysing the way they type. They have written an algorithm that can tell how effectively someone is striking a keypad. For instance, it can distinguish between typing done in the middle of the night, when sleep deprivation impairs motor skills, and typing performed when fully rested.

It does this by analysing something known as ‘key hold time’ – a measure of how long a key is pressed before being released. While the study focused on the effects of fatigue, the researchers say they could diagnose conditions that impair motor function, such as Parkinson’s disease, much earlier than is now possible.

Preliminary results from a study of about two dozen Parkinson’s patients suggest that the researchers’ algorithm for analysing keystrokes can distinguish people who have the disease from those who don’t. The team is now planning a larger study of Parkinson’s patients.

[This post originally appeared here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3480177/Writer-s-block-Try-typing-one-handed-Slowing-fast-type-boost-quality-writing.html]

Top 15 Websites to Find Free Images | Strong Social

Finding an online library stocked with pictures that are of high quality and available to use for free can be a daunting task. All the effort you are putting in selecting your search words to seem to only yield images that either vaguely agrees with your needs or are completely irrelevant. This can waste a lot of your time and get you really worked up.

If your job involves finding free images online on a regular basis, then having a free image directory would be a smart move. A free image directory allows you to easily and quickly access pictures that are not just relevant and top quality but add more meaning, taste, and eloquence to your message. And saves you hours.

Let me get you started on creating your own free image library. Below is a fairly exhaustive list of the best websites to find free images online:

1.  PICJUMBO.COM

First, there are no restrictions – you do not need to credit the author when using images from this website. New photos are uploaded every day and organized accordingly. They have amazing pictures with a wide range e.g. roads, food, fashion, wedding, technology, business etc.

 

 

2.  PEXELS.COM

This is one of the largest free image directories. It has collated photos from many other free image sites and put them under one roof. So if you are in a rush, then this will work very well with you.

 

 

3. UNSPLASH.COM

A small one-column site that was built on Tumblr. They post 10 fantastic images every ten days. No need to be registered. You can subscribe to receive photos directly into your inbox.

 

 

4. FLICKR.COM

Besides the large collection of high-quality photos, Flickr gives you the option of sharing and saving your photos. With it, you can organize all of your pictures and not worry about losing them. You can also edit your pictures. One thing that is encouraged when using someone else’s photo is to ensure that you link your picture to them. You will need to register as a member to be able to gain access to the variety of options offer by Flickr.

 

 

5. FREEPHOTOSBANK.COM

Easy to download photos. They focus more on abstract shots, architecture, landscape, nature, backgrounds, and patterns etc. You do not any to create an account.

 

 

6. FREEMEDIAGOO.COM

You can credit them if you want to but you don’t need to. They upload high-quality illustrations of backgrounds and many other photos. They have plenty of visual mediums you can choose from. Images have no restrictions.

 

 

7. CREATIVE COMMONS SEARCH

is an online tool that allows you to find resources you can share, use, modify of the remix. You can use find things to use for commercial purposes as well. No registration required. It is a convenient search engine. However, you need to find out about the copyright terms of the image before using it.

 

 

8. PICSEARCH.COM

It is great it doesn’t offer a clear division for royalty-free CC images. It is a useful search engine especially for those who don’t know exactly what they are looking for. Picsearch will help your search by indexing pages for you.

 

 

9. PIXABAY

Here, photos are uploaded by users as in Creative Commons. You can search and sort your pictures. There are no image restrictions. It offers a range of high-quality photos and thought to be one of the best internal search engine sites.

 

 

10. BLOGPHOTO.TV

Plenty of free images. The disadvantage is the loose image restriction that comes with it. In Blog photo, there is more than just getting you the photo you need. They offer resources such as templates, articles planners etc. to help you grow your digital footprint. In addition to that, there are articles published weekly as well as live interactive shows with media mogul to make you outstanding at whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

 

 

11. GRATISOGRAPHY.COM

For high-quality photos with no image restrictions whatsoever, then this is the resource for you. These are high-resolution pictures taken by Ryan McGuire . You can find them on one page, not a group. Just scroll down as the page loads and pick the one want. You are not required to credit the owner.

 

 

12. SXC.HU

There is a variety of image restrictions. However, they offer a massive selection of images covering a wide spectrum including abstract, events, architecture etc. You can share photos whenever and however you want. Sorting can sometimes be a little difficult. The good news is that the search tool is straightforward and getting what you need is simple and fast.

 

 

13. DEVIANTART

With over thirty million registered users, Deviant Art is the leading community in free image online communities. The work of photographers is under Creative Commons. You can use their images as long as you give them credit. There are wealth of high-resolution photos.

 

 

14. PHOTODUNE

They offer the best picture at reasonably low price. They have a collection of over four million.  If you want your website to stand out then use Photodune.

 

 

15. GETTYIMAGES

This is probably the largest place to find free images online. In one month they upload up to thirty-five million photos. They have a wonderful collection of people and capture different activities so perfectly. If you want to get the picture, click on the icon on it and then paste the code onto your target page.

 

Source: Top 15 Websites to Find Free Images | Strong Social

How to Easily Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts : Social Media Examiner

Discover how TweetDeck lets you engage, monitor and schedule tweets for multiple accounts from a single customizable dashboard.

Are you managing multiple Twitter accounts?

Wondering how to streamline your Twitter marketing?

TweetDeck lets you engage, monitor and schedule tweets for multiple accounts from a single customizable dashboard.

In this article you’ll discover how to manage multiple Twitter accounts with TweetDeck.

#1: Connect Your Twitter Accounts

The first step is to set up your TweetDeck account.

If your company has one or two people monitoring social media, you can create one login using your company’s handle as the default account. Then you can add more accounts/handles to that same user login.

After you login to TweetDeck, you’ll see your TweetDeck dashboard.

tweetdeck dashboard

The gray navigation bar on the left side of the dashboard is your go-to location for everything TweetDeck can do. From there, you can add accounts, write new tweets, review activity and notifications, read messages, change settings and more.

To connect additional accounts, click on the Accounts icon near the bottom of the navigation bar.

tweetdeck add account

Next, click Add Another Twitter Account and enter the username and password for each account you want to manage. Now you’re ready to begin.

#2: Add Listening Streams

The most powerful TweetDeck feature is the ability to add streams, which are columns of tweets that are updated in real time. There are a number of different streams to choose from, such as User, Notifications, Mentions, Followers, Messages, Search, Lists and more.

To add a stream, click on the Add Column icon (with the + sign on it) in the navigation bar. Then select the column type you want to add.

tweetdeck add column

Select the stream you want to add.

You can customize the content of each column and remove excess noise. This makes it easier to find the information you want. Click the icon in the upper-right corner of the column to access your filtering options.

tweetdeck customize column

TweetDeck allows you to customize columns so you can see the information that’s important to you.

Keep in mind that adding lots of streams isn’t always better. It’s important to choose the columns that will help you reach your marketing goals.

Here are five streams that you’ll want to add.

Notifications

The Notifications stream allows you to see when you have a new follower, someone has added you to a list or one of your tweets has been liked, retweeted or replied to.

Using this stream, you can quickly find active and potential clients, customers and followers. Essentially it lets you monitor every handle that is engaging with your content. You can use additional filters to narrow down your notifications to engagement, users and content type.

tweetdeck notifications

Narrow your notifications by users.

Mentions

Add the Mentions stream to monitor every tweet that mentions your Twitter handle, whether for the first time or as part of a reply/conversation.

tweetdeck mentions stream

The Mentions stream tracks tweets that mention your Twitter handle.

By monitoring and using this stream daily, your marketing team can track every company mention, and then react in a timely manner. You can quickly jump into conversations,offer customer support or engage with your existing user base or potential prospects.

Search

Search is one of the most important streams in TweetDeck. It allows your marketing team to go beyond users and monitor content related to keywords or hashtags.

Using the Search feature, you can keep an eye on topics and conversations that are essential to your business.

For example, if your company is about to launch a new technology product, your marketing team can set up a Search stream to monitor all tweets for keywords such as new technology, today in tech, #techtuesday, and so on.

Set up a stream for a relevant keyword or hashtag.

Bonus Tip: When setting up this stream, don’t forget to use Boolean operators to save space. This way, you can search for multiple terms in the same column.

Source: How to Easily Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts : Social Media Examiner

10 Words Derived from “Scribe”

Scribe, from the Latin term scribere, meaning “to write,” referred to a person who performed the responsibilities of an accountant, a secretary, or both But later denoted any writer. (Scrivener is a synonym from medieval Anglo-French.)

The term is rarely used outside of historical contexts but occasionally appears as affected slang to refer to a professional author or writer; the same is true of its use as a verb to refer to the action of writing.

Scribe is the basis of a select group of other words; here are ten such terms and their meanings, along with examples of their use in a sentence. (Note that each verb listed here can be converted to a noun by changing -scribe to -scription, as in prescribe/prescription.)

1. ascribe: attribute (literally, “write to”: “It is largely to this that we must ascribe the national conservatism and contempt for foreigners”)

2. circumscribe: constrict or surround, or define (literally, “draw around”: “To circumscribe the influence of the ruling favorites, he next suggested the formation of a cabinet council of six or eight ministers”)

3. conscribe: synonym for circumscribe or variant of conscript

4. describe: represent by drawing something or talking about it, or trace the outline of something (literally, “draw from”: “I can’t describe how helpless I felt”)

5. inscribe: write on something (literally, “write in”: “They would then inscribe a verse over the door of the house for protection”)

6. prescribe: make a rule, or tell someone to use a remedy or treatment (literally, “write before”: “The numerous fasts of the national church prescribe a fish diet”)

7. proscribe: prohibit (literally, “write for”: “When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen’s constitutional right to free speech, it acts lawlessly”)

8. subscribe: sign or support, or pay regularly for a publication or service (literally, “write beneath”: “Long ago, she had learned that many people didn’t subscribe to her morals”)

9. superscribe: write outside or on top of or over (literally, “write over”: “Kindly superscribe renewal on the envelope if you are sending it by post”)

10. transcribe: copy something written or write something spoken, or rewrite music for a different instrument or voice or in a different key (literally, “write across”: “She will transcribe the speech and send you a copy tomorrow”)

Unsubscribe was a rarely used antonym for subscribe until after the advent of email; now, many companies and organizations have an unsubscribe option that enables the receiver to automatically halt the transmission of subsequent messages. The terms superscript and subscript, meanwhile, refer to small numbers, letters, or other characters (such as asterisks) set above or below the baseline of type as indicators of footnotes or in mathematical and scientific usage.

Source: 10 Words Derived from “Scribe”

Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

The Google Analytics “Traffic Sources” section can help ecommerce marketers understand how well campaigns are working and how better to invest in site content, advertising, or other forms of engagement.

Google Analytics is a free service that uses cookies — which we explain in “Cookies Make Shoppers Feel Welcome” — to monitor how visitors are interacting with a particular site. The Traffic Sources overview and its various sub-menu items describe how visitors are getting to your site.

3 Basic Traffic Mediums

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section categorizes your site traffic as “direct” traffic, “referring” traffic, or “search engine” traffic.

The Traffic Sources report places each visit in one of three mediums.
The Google Analytics Traffic Sources
  • Direct traffic. Direct traffic represents those visitors that arrive directly and immediate on your site by: (1) typing your URL into the browser’s address bar; (2) clicking on a bookmark; or (3) clicking on a link in an email, SMS, or chat message. Direct traffic is a strong indicator of your brand strength and your success in email or text message marketing. Direct traffic can also be an indicator of offline marketing success. We offer our views on the benefits of direct traffic at “Direct Traffic is Better than Google Traffic.”
  • Referring traffic. Referring site traffic, which is sometimes called referrer traffic or referral traffic, counts those visitors that click a link on another site and land on your site. Referral traffic can be indicative of social media marketing success.
  • Search engine traffic. Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page for any search engine — whether Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Blekko, or similar. This traffic source is divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic — meaning that the visitor clicked on a so-called natural search result — and CPC or paid search engine traffic, which is the traffic you purchase (via pay-per-click ads_ from search engines. Search engine traffic usually indicates that you have good or at least reasonably good content. It also can mean that you have chosen a good software platform. Be sure to learn which keywords are driving this traffic. Multi-channel merchants, as an example, may find that their brand name is a key search term. When this is the case, offline marketing is usually the real traffic driver.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

Selecting “All Traffic Sources” from Google Analytics left-side navigation will show you a table listing the most active traffic sources and their medium. Direct traffic, as you would expect, has a medium of “none.” Traffic from Facebook, as an example, will have a medium of “referral.” Search engine traffic will have a medium or “organic” or “CPC” as described above.

Sometimes you will see a search engine domain, like Google.com, with the medium “referral.” This indicates that the site sent you traffic from a page other than a search engine results page. This could be a link from a Google+ account or some other Google service.

Interpreting the Traffic Sources Report

Of course, data — not interpreted and analyzed — will be unable to inform your marketing planning or investment. So take the excellent information found in the Traffic Sources section and discern what it says about a website and that site’s marketing.

Put another way, looking only at the sources that drove the most traffic will not tell you anything about why visitors are coming or whether the site is meeting expectations or making sales. Rather, you need to look at traffic sources in context in order to properly interpret them.

Using Bounce Rate with Traffic Sources

Start by navigating to the “All Traffic Sources” sub-menu. Notice the site’s “bounce rate” for the selected time period.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

The bounce rate measures the percentage of site traffic that resulted in a single page visit. A visitor landed on the site and left without clicking to any other page. Comparing a source’s bounce rate to other sources and the site average can be a good indicator of a source’s compatibility, and it will help with some marketing campaigns.

To see this in your Traffic Sources section, switch your analytics view from “table” to “comparison” by selecting the comparison icon on the right side of the page.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

Set the “compared to site average” drop down to “Bounce” so that a source’s visits and bounce rates are compared to the site average for bounce rate.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

In the example below, Google’s organic results generated the most site traffic for the time period shown, but had a bounce rate that was greater than the site average. By contrast direct traffic generated fewer visits, but had a lower than average bounce rate. A page from another website, generated 5,946 visits but had a bounce rate 22.62 percent less than the site average.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

So what does this mean? “Bounce rate” can be thought of as a measure of engagement. If visitors are moving around your site, they are engaged. If they are bouncing, they cannot think of a good reason to stay. There is one notable exception to this: Blogs, videos, and news sites often have higher bounce rates because a visitor reads a particular article or watches a video and then leaves. For an ecommerce site, however, you would like to see relative low bounce rates. Sources that bounce a lot are probably not providing quality traffic.

You can apply this to marketing in a few ways. If, for example, you purchase paid search advertising, you’ll want to make sure those “CPC” sources have generally low bounce rates. If a pay-per-click or cost-per-click campaign has a high bounce rate (1) check your landing page to make sure that it provides the content promised in your ad, (2) check your ad copy to ensure it is clear, and (3) check your keywords.

Bottom line, if a source has a high bounce rate, the site is probably not relevant to what the visitor clicked on.

Use Average Time on Site with Traffic Sources

Another good metric to follow in the Traffic Sources section is the “average time on site” compared to visits comparison view. This report can be found under “All Traffic Sources,” in the comparison view. In fact, this is the same place as I directed you to go for bounces, only select “Avg. Time on Site” from the drop down menu.

Switch the drop down menu to "Avg. Time on Site" for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Switch the drop down menu to “Avg. Time on Site” for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Google measures average time on site by first collecting each visitor’s exact time on a particular page. Imagine that a visitor lands on page 1 of your site. Google places a cookie, including a unique code for the visitor and a time stamp. When that visitor clicks through to page 2 of your site, Google again notes the time, and then subtracts the time that the visitor arrived at page 2 from the time that the visitor arrived at page 1. Google then averages each and every page’s time spent to get the average time each visitor spends on the site.

It is worth noting that a visitor must click to at least one additional page for Google to capture the time spent. When a visitor bounces, Google does not include the bounced page in this calculation.

A source's performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

A source’s performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

In the example above, Google organic results drove the most total traffic for the time period in view. But the Google organic traffic source forwarded visitors that spent an average of 31.39 less time on the site than the average. Visitors coming directly to the site, by contrast, spent 51.31 percent more time on site than average.

With average time on site, it is worth taking the analysis a step deeper. Try (1) clicking on one of the individual traffic sources, (2) selecting the comparison view, and (3) setting the dimension to “keyword.”

 

Dimensions can be found in a drop down menu at the top left of the comparison view and serve to further refine the Traffic Sources section.]

This section is particularly helpful when looking at organic results from search engines, since it will let you know which search queries resulted in engaged traffic. Below is another example from a site that focuses on electronic components. Overall, the Google organic source was well behind the site average, but some specific search queries were actually performing better than average.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

For marketing, try to monitor the traffic sources that provide visitors who spend the most time on site. For example, if you notice that Twitter is sending visitors that spend a few minutes on each page, it would be worth investigating the site’s Twitter presence.

Summing Up

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section monitors which sources are sending traffic to a site and — with a bit of interpretation — this data can be used to measure the quality of traffic being sent.

Armed with this information, ecommerce marketers can learn why some sources might be under-performing or focus efforts on sources that drive better quality traffic. In some cases, this might mean relying less on search engines and more on social media or brand awareness. Other times the opposite could be the best course of action. Either way, the Traffic Sources section in Google Analytics can help.

Source: Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging by Julia McCoy

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling. Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling.

Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re looking to increase your SEO, blogging is the first and most important step. According to HubSpot’s 2015 blogging frequency benchmark data, companies that blog earn 97% more inbound links than companies that do not. Additionally, companies that post more than 16 blog posts each month get roughly 3.5 times more traffic than companies that publish four or fewer posts each month. (We recently gained over 300 keyword positions in a single day—and it was 100% through our content & blogging.)

Read on to learn more about the SEO importance of blogging and how you can triple your SEO efforts through regular, high-quality posts.

Blogging 101: Why it’s so Darn Important for SEO

When it comes to SEO, there is arguably nothing more important than blogging. In order for content to rank well, there has to be content in the first place and multiple industry leaders have shown that companies that blog regularly do better than companies that don’t. 

HubSpot’s aforementioned blogging frequency benchmark data shows that when small companies with 1-10 employees publish more than 11 posts each month, their sites get three times as much traffic as companies of the same size that publish only one post per month. What’s more, sites with 11 posts each month earn twice as much traffic as companies that publish between 2-5 posts each month.

For slightly larger companies, the results are comparable: companies with between 26-200 employees that publish more than 11 posts per month get twice as much traffic than companies who only publish one post each month.

It’s obvious that blogging frequency really does matter and that, in order to boost traffic and improve SEO, you need to produce relevant, useful content on a regular basis.

One of the main reasons for this is that old blog posts stick around long after they’ve been published. In fact, when HubSpot conducted a study of their own blogging traffic, they found that 90% of the leads their blog produced actually came from old posts. That said, it’s possible to generate, in equal parts, traffic from both old and new content, as long as you know how to create content that is genuinely interesting and valuable.

How to Blog for SEO: 6 Takeaway Tips

Now that you know how important blogging is for SEO, here are 6 tips to help you blog better and produce better results.

1. Create quality content

This may seem obvious, but creating content is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This is because each post you write adds a new SEO page that has the potential to be crawled and indexed by Google. Additionally, each new post can be optimized for unique long-tail keywords which allows bloggers to create pages full of new ranking opportunities. Blogs also offer the opportunity for high-quality backlinks and plenty of organic traffic to your site.

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

If you do it right, every post you write can create high-quality traffic that gets you noticed. Unfortunately, most people don’t do this right. This is because they focus only on getting content written and distributed rather than creating viral content that maintains its value. The first secret to doing the latter is to make sure that your headlines are irresistible.

Eight out of 10 people read headlines while only two out of 10 read body copy, so you can bet that people will click through to your blog if you get your headline right. Need an example? Consider Upworthy for a moment. Upworthy launched two years ago and now boasts viral posts and 88 million visitors, which makes it more popular by visitor numbers than the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed. The secret to Upworthy’s success? Attention-grabbing headlines first of all, and then minimal sharing buttons and the use of short, intriguing videos to grab users.

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

Once you’ve mastered killer headlines, you’ll want to ensure that your content is the correct length. At Express Writers, our blogs are generally between 1000-3000 words and Buzzsumo has found that its most popular posts range between 3000-10,000 words.

3. Solve your readers’ problems

No matter how quality your content is or how shocking your headlines are, it isn’t going to carry you to SEO and sales success if it doesn’t pertain directly to your readers. This means that, in order for your blogging efforts to work in favor of your SEO standing, you need to understand your audience very well. You should know what they’re interested in and which problems they’re struggling with and you should be able to synthesize new content ideas that will help make their lives easier.

To get a better handle on who your audience is and what they want, use sites like Quora to get involved in niche-specific conversations and then head to BuzzSumo for help in creating and generating new ideas for content. BuzzSumo allows users to plug in keywords and see what other related topics have gone viral on social media. Another great tool for this same purpose is Ubersuggest, which is fantastic for generating ideas for blog posts and advertises itself as “Google suggest on steroids.”   

4. Make it evergreen

It’s one thing for your posts to be attention-grabbing but it’s entirely another for them to hold their value throughout the months or years. This is where Evergreen topics come in. According to Moz, evergreen content offers “continued and sustained success.” To put it another way, evergreen content doesn’t rely upon passing trend and it doesn’t rely on the re-posting of old content. Rather, it uses foundational industry truths as topics from which to branch out. Examples in the world of blogging include “How to Blog – The Steps to a Successful Blog Start,” “Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog” and ProBlogger’s own “How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners.” These posts all take one evergreen topic (blogging) and offer helpful tips and tricks on the subject. Because of this, these posts aren’t going to come into and out of fashion. Instead, they will continue to be highly searched-for and will continue to be a major source of traffic for their home sites.

5. Use long tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are and have always been a big traffic factor for bloggers. Take Search Engine Journal, for example, who noted a huge 78% jump in traffic after optimizing their content for long-tail keywords. In order to optimize content for long tail keywords, it’s important to create extensively researched, lengthy, valuable content that utilizes your long-tail keywords in a natural way.

Since long tail keywords show you what your users are looking to do, there’s a high probability that content optimized for them will produce far better conversions than content that is not. Additionally, longtail keywords can help you understand how to better structure content in order to solve a searcher’s problems or provide value for their needs.

6. Use CTAs to collect emails

As of 2013, there were more than 3.6 billion email addresses worldwide with upwards of 247 million emails sent on a daily basis. According to many email marketing experts, for every $1.00 bloggers spend on email marketing tactics, they earn $42.00. If you need an example, you can think about QuickSprout, which created a revenue of $43k from one email blast over a single 24-hour period.

That said, it’s wise to collect emails every time someone visits your site. Do this through a special landing page or embed email popups or subscription forms throughout your blog. Accompany these with powerful CTAs and then use the gathered emails for email marketing down the road. In order to get the most emails possible, ensure that your site is structured properly and easy to use. This means that your site should be compatible for all devices and very readable (in terms of font type and actual writing). The site should also load quickly and be easy to navigate. When your site provides a positive experience for users, people are much more likely to click and subscribe than they would be for a difficult site that wasn’t intuitive.

Conclusion

While increasing SEO can be confusing, it’s obvious that blogging does in fact have a large impact on SEO. Follow these 6 tips to help you blog better, increase SEO rankings, and make more sales. Happy blogging!

Julia is a serial entrepreneur and content marketer, and the founder of Express Writers; she loves to blog and is a soon-to-be published author.

Source: How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

The Ultimate List: 70+ Best Tools For Skyrocketing Business Growth in 2016

If you want to be an effective business owner in 2016, you can’t manage everything on your own.

In order to scale the progress you’ve already made, or simply experience real growth for the first time, you have to be willing to delegate responsibilities, standardize processes, and use the right tools.

The problem is, there are a lot of tools out there to choose from. Knowing where to start or which tool to try is not always easy.

This collection of tools can help you narrow your search results and quickly find the right tools for your business—the ones that are really going to help move the needle and take your business to a whole new level.

The tools are separated into eight different categories:

  • Marketing
  • Conversion & Lead Generation
  • Business Management
  • Project Management & Communication
  • Customer Service & Retention
  • Outsourcing
  • HR, Employee Engagement & Appreciation
  • Social Media Marketing

As you go through this list, think about your business goals for this year, what your plan is for achieving those goals, and whether you think any of the tools listed could help you get you to where you want to go.

Here are the 70+ tools you should be using in 2016 to grow your business:

Marketing

1. CuratedCurated is a tool that allows you to quickly find and save content to share with your email list in the form of a beautifully simple weekly email digest. It’s a great tool for providing extra value to your audience. Pricing: Starts at $25/month

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2. Referral SaasquatchReferral Saasquatch is a great tool that can be used to build and manage customer referral programs for your business. Referral tools like this one make it incredibly easy to incentivize and encourage more word-of-mouth advertising of your business. Pricing: Starts at $99/month

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3. Content MarketerContent Marketer is the best tool on the market for promoting content, building links, and connecting with influencers. It’s the tool you want to use when you’re ready to take your content marketing efforts to the next level and start seeing more ROI from your efforts. Pricing: $19/month

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4. QuuuQuuu provides you with hand curated content to increase your social media activity. After selecting a few categories that represent the type of topics you’re interested in, Quuu automatically sends hand curated content to your Buffer account. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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5. CanvaCanva is one of the easiest tools out there for creating compelling, original images for social media and blogging. The tool offers a wide variety of backgrounds, icons, and fonts to fit the needs and dimensions of any platform you’re using to connect with prospects. Pricing: FREE

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6. Campaign MonitorCampaign Monitor is one of the top email marketing platforms on the market. The drag-and-drop email builder allows you to create a customized email campaign in a matter of minutes. It also offers a lot in terms of personalization, segmentation, and A/B testing. Pricing: Starts at $9/month

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7. BuzzsumoBuzzsumo is the top tool for performing content marketing research. The tool makes it easy to evaluate the performance of any blog post, website, or competitor. It’s a great tool to use when you’re ready to start investing in advanced content promotion and outreach. Pricing: Starts at $99/month

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8. Death to the Stock PhotoDeath to the Stock Photo is a site that offers fresh, inexpensive, and non-cheesy stock photos that can be used in a wide variety of marketing campaigns. You can sign up to receive new photos each month, or you can go premium and get access to all photos at once. Pricing: $15/month

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9. SEMrushSEMrush is a top tool for performing advanced advertising, keyword, baclink, and competitor research. The tool provides powerful analytics reports that can give you valuable insight and help you decide where to take your strategy next. Pricing: Starts at $69.95/month

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10. Sticker MuleSticker Mule is a tool that can be used to create and order custom stickers and graphics for your startup. The tool is relatively inexpensive and provides fast delivery and free shipping. Pricing: Varies depending on quantities

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Conversion & Lead Generation

11. SumoMeSumoMe offers a suite of tools that can be used to drive conversions and engagement on your website. Examples include the Welcome Mat, the Scroll Box, the Smart Bar, and others—all of which can be added to your site and customized to fit the look and feel of your brand in a matter of minutes. Pricing: Starts at $10/month

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12. OptimizelyOptimizely is one of the top tools for easily and quickly building and running A/B tests on your website. A/B testing is an important tactic when it comes to influencing more engagement and conversions, and with Optimizely, you can test everything from color, copy, button placement, entire landing pages, personalization, and more. Pricing: Varies

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13. LeadChatLeadChat (shameless plug) is a tool that you can use to insert sales staff right into your website. The tool makes it incredibly easy to add their ready-to-go live chat agents to your site who can chat with visitors and convert them to customers. Sound interesting? Ask for a trial now. Pricing: Starts at $99/month

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14. Import.io – Import.io is a tool that allows you to scrape the web for relevant information about products, businesses, and competitors. The tool automates the data collection process and presents it in an easily digestible manner for business owners looking to quickly identify and take advantage of gaps in their market or industry. Pricing: Varies

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15. Datanyze – Datanyze is a sales intelligence tool that allows you to uncover, research, and reach the right prospects. Alerts tell you which websites have started or stopped using a particular provider’s tool, Research helps you understand your prospects better, and their predictive modeling helps you determine which leads are worth pursuing first. Pricing: Request a demo to find out

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16. LeadPages – LeadPages is one of the top tools available for building customized landing pages on your site. The tool offers hundreds of templates that can be used to drive conversions and nurture prospects. Pricing: Starts at $25/month

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17. ConvertKit – ConvertKit is a tool that can be used to nurture leads down your sales funnel. The tool allows you to easily make customized opt-in forms that can be placed in content and around your site. You can also design landing pages, create drip campaigns, and send important one-off emails to your subscribers. Pricing: Starts at $29/month

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18. Crazy Egg – Crazy Egg is another tool that can be used to gain more insight into the actions and experiences people have when they land on your website. With this tool, you can analyze where people are clicking, how far down they’re reading, and where people are coming from when they land on your site. Pricing: Starts at $9/month

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19. Drip – Drip is a tool that you can use to create simple drip email courses. You can use the tool to easily repurpose your best blog content into a compelling email course that educates, nurtures, and converts your website visitors. Pricing: Starts at $49/month

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20. FullStory – FullStory is an amazing tool that allows you to actually record, replay, and analyze the experience people have when they land on your website. It’s a great tool to use for improving customer support, making decisions about development or product updates, and empathizing with users. Pricing: Starts at $199/month

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Business Management

21. Recurly – Recurly is a tool that automates recurring billing for subscription-based businesses and products. The tool is incredibly easy to set up and seamlessly integrates and connects with your existing merchant accounts and website. Pricing: Starts at $99/month

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22. Xero – Xero is a beautifully designed online accounting tool. An alternative to QuickBooks, this tool can help you manage invoices and quotes, inventory, purchase orders, bills and expenses, employee payment, and more. Pricing: Starts at $6.30/month

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23. Chartio – Chart.io is a cloud-based business intelligence tool. It’s a tool that you can use to quickly organize, visualize, and analyze complex data related to your products and business. It’s a great tool for any business looking to become more data-driven in 2016. Pricing: Sign up to get pricing information

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24. TradeGecko – TradeGecko is an inventory management tool for business owners looking to automate painful and repetitive tasks. The tool can help streamline order management, stock levels, tracking at multiple warehouse locations, multi-channel sales, and more. Pricing: Starts at $39/month

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25. Segment – Segment is an incredibly convenient tool that allows you to collect customer data with one API and send it to hundreds of tools for analytics, marketing, and data warehousing. Pricing: Starts at $39/month

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26. Google Analytics – Google Analytics is an essential tool for any business owner looking to gain a better understanding about website visitors. With Google Analytics, you can track metrics, set up goals and events, and find ways to optimize your website in order to boost conversions, engagement, and repeat traffic. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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27. UpCounsel – UpCounsel is a tool that offers on-demand legal help for business owners who don’t necessarily have the funds to keep a full-time lawyer on retainer, but need legal assistance from time to time. The tool can help with agreements, trademarks, patents, labor and employment, and more. Pricing: Varies depending on work

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28. Toggl – Toggl is a time-tracking tool aimed at helping business owners boost daily productivity. The tool streamlines time-tracking and makes it incredibly easy to identify where time is going and how to become more productive throughout the day. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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29. Zirtual – Zirtual is a tool that can be used to find U.S. based virtual assistants. The tool now falls under the Startups.co umbrella, and is a great resource to take advantage as you continue to scale your business in 2016. Pricing: Starts at $398/month

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30. HelloSign – HelloSign is a tool that can be used to send and receive legally binding electronic signatures for business purposes. It integrates with familiar apps like Gmail, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, and more. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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Project Management & Communication

31. Trello – Trello is a fantastic project management tool that can really bring your projects to life. The tool creates a visual representation of your projects in the form of cards that can be moved from column to column as a project progresses. It’s a great tool to use for managing freelancers. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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32. Basecamp – Basecamp is another tool that can be used to manage projects. It’s different than Trello in that it’s less visual-focused and more centered around team collaboration. The tool just launched a brand new version, which can be explored here. Pricing: Starts at $29/month

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33. Asana – Asana is a project management tool that works well for teams that are moving a lot of projects through the door at a given time. It’s one of the most flexible and customizable project management tool available. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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34. Evernote – Evernote is a great tool for managing personal projects and to-do lists. It’s a cloud-based tool that can be accessed from the mobile, web, or desktop. It’s a particularly useful tool to use when you want to pull in various types of media (photos, screenshots, notes, etc.). It does also offer the ability to collaborate with others. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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35. Slack – Slack is one of the most popular real-time messaging apps available today. It’s incredibly well-designed, and easy to implement across multiple teams. The tool can also be used to manage specific projects by setting up different channels within a chat group. It’s a great option if you have or plan to grow a remote team. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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36. Google Apps For Work – Google Apps For Work offers professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more. It’s also a great alternative to the Microsoft Office suite—it has a word processor, a presentation tool, a spreadsheets tool, and a form builder. Pricing: Starts at $5/user/month

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37. Wrike Wrike is a versatile project management tool that can be used by marketing teams, product development teams, department heads, and more. With the tool you can easily create tasks, mention team members, collaborate in real-time, and seamlessly integrate with your other tools. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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38. Projects by GrowthHackers – Projects is still a bit of a mystery, but early previews make it appear to be an incredibly user-friendly project management tool. To try this tool, you’ll need to request early access to join their beta program.

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39. Join.Me Join.Me is a simple tool that can be used to host video and audio conferences, share your screen, record meetings, and more. It’s a great tool to use when you need to quickly pull up a presentation or reference your screen while on a group call. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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40. Dropbox – Dropbox is one of the top cloud-based file storage tools on the market. It’s a convenient way to store and share important documents with team members, customers, investors, and anyone else involved in the growth and success of your business. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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Customer Service & Retention

41. SatisMeter – SatisMeter is a tool that helps you gather customer feedback through NPS surveys. Net Promoter Score surveys are an incredibly effective way to gauge how loyal and happy your customers really are. The tool can be installed onto any website or app in less than 10 minutes. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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42. Intercom – Intercom allows you to easily communicate with your customers through targeted in-app and email messages, triggered by time or behavior. The tool can be used to collect customer feedback, chat with customers in real-time, create marketing lifecycle email campaigns, and provide support. Pricing: Starts at $49/month

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43. Packs By Startup Threads – Packs By Startup Threads offers a convenient way to create and send customized swag packages to your customers. The tool is incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is build your pack, order a reserve amount to store at the Startup Threads warehouse, and use their API or dashboard to send out to customers in an effort to boost loyalty and retention. Pricing: Varies

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44. MailLift – MailLift is a handy tool for sending handwritten thank you cards to customers. Handwritten thank you cards are a great way to boost customer happiness, but as your business continues to grow, it’s important to take advantage of tools like MailLift that can help you automate time-consuming tasks, while still keeping things personal. Pricing: Varies

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45. Zendesk – Zendesk is a web-based customer support platform. The tool allows you to accept and manage support tickets from a variety of channels—web, email, social, chat, or phone. It also provides the ability to create and manage a Help Center for your website. Pricing: Starts at $5/agent/month

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46. UserVoice – UserVoice is a tool that allows you to collect and prioritize feedback from customers, partners, and teams that can influence future updates to your products. The tool makes it easy to collect feedback right in your app (web or mobile), from your website via a private forum, and in real-time chat. Pricing: Starts at $499/month

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47. GoToMeeting – GoToMeeting is a top tool for coordinating and hosting webinars. It’s a great tool to use when you’re ready to start educating prospects and customers about product benefits, protips, and other topics that can help them use your product successfully. Pricing: Starts at $24/month

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48. Snagit – Snagit is a tool that allows you to easily create screen captures and videos that can be used to create tutorials for customers. It’s another great tool to use when you’re ready to start spending more time and resources on educating your customers. Pricing: Starts at $49.95

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49. TypeForm – TypeForm allows you to create visually-compelling survey forms. The tool makes it incredibly easy to design custom forms to use for social media contests, customer feedback, hiring, and more. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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50. Customer.io Customer.io is another tool that you can use to send targeted messages to users and customers. The tool allows you to leverage user behavior data in order to send more effective messages. With the tool, you can A/B test, build campaigns, track conversions, segment messages for specific audiences and traffic, and more. Pricing: Starts at $100/month

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Outsourcing

51. Upwork Upwork is a tool that you can use to find freelancers to help you grow your business. This site can connect you with developers, creatives, customer service agents, virtual assistants, and other consultants. Pricing: Varies

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52. ScriptedScripted is a tool that you can use to scale your content creation efforts. It’s a tool that can connect you with on-demand writers to help you produce content for blog posts, landing pages, white papers, social media updates, product descriptions, and more. Pricing: Varies

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53. FiverrFiverr is comprised of an incredibly vast network of freelancers who can help you complete almost any task, no matter the size. Categories on the site include graphics, marketing, writing, video and animation, video and audio, and more. Pricing: Starts at $5, then varies depending on project scope

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54. 99designs99designs is a site that primarily focuses on helping connect designers with business owners looking for help creating brand-specific collateral (logos, brand identity, t-shirts, etc.). Pricing: Starts at $299/month

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55. Toptal Toptal is a site that connect business owners with the top 3% freelance software developers and designers. Pricing: Varies

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56. PeoplePerHourPeoplePerHour is a site that connects you with freelancers who can help with design, development, content, and promotion. It’s a great tool to leverage when you need help fast. Pricing: Varies

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57. WriterAccessWriterAccess is another tool that you can use to find freelance writers. Pricing varies, but can be as low as two cents/word for content. 

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58. GuruGuru is a site that can connect you with admin support freelancers, engineering and architecture freelancers, legal freelancers, and more. Pricing: Varies

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59. Gun.ioGun.io is a tool that you can use to connect with and hire the best freelance developers in the world. The site offers a unique concierge service that matches you with a representative who can help you find the right person for the job. It’s a good site to go to when you’re looking for help building apps for mobile and desktop, when you need help scripting, building a UX strategy, and more. Pricing: Varies

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60. GigsterGigster is a site you can go to when you need to hire an entire freelance development team. Pricing: Varies 

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HR, Employee Engagement & Appreciation

61. TinyPulseTinyPulse is an employee retention tool that allows you to create surveys for your team to anonymously answer each week. It’s a great way to sync up with your employees and make sure they’re getting everything they need in order to be successful in their roles. Pricing: Starts at $5/user/month

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62. AnyPerkAnyPerk is a convenient tool that allows you to show appreciation and offer rewards to employees who go above and beyond in their roles. The tool offers a wide variety of perks that employees can choose from based on their interests—such as travel discounts, gym membership deals, restaurant coupons, subscription services, and more . Pricing: request a demo

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63. KinKin is a tool that allows you to completely streamline your human resources department. The tool makes it incredibly easy to onboard new employees, keep track of important employee information, manage communication with employees, track time off and vacation, coordinate employee performance reviews, and more. Pricing: $5/user/month

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64. 15Five15Five is a tool that allows you to keep track of what’s going on at your company week by week. The tool allows you to send customized surveys to employees in order to celebrate wins, identify challenges, and determine what people need in order to keep moving your company forward. Pricing: Starts at $49/month

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65. GlassDoorGlassDoor is a site that you can use as a tool to recruit top talent. As a company, you can create a presence on the site to attract job seekers, advertise jobs, and promote your company against competitors. Pricing: Request a quote

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66. Zenefits Zenefits is another tool that you can use to streamline your HR tasks. The tool can be used to manage payroll, benefits, time, talent, compliance, and management. Pricing: Free

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67. KudosKudos is a tool that allows you to give recognition and appreciation to team members in real-time. The tool makes it easy for managers to give praise to peers and for peers to give kudos to peers. It’s a fairly robust platform, and definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a way to boost employee morale at your company. Pricing: Starts at $2/user/month

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Social Media Marketing

68. CoScheduleCoSchedule is a top tool that marketers use to build editorial calendars, manage social media updates that relate to content, and manage the content creation process. Pricing: Starts at $15/month

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69. BufferBuffer is the top tool that marketers use to schedule social media updates. The tool makes it easy to schedule and share updates when your audience is listening in order to boost engagement, grow your following, and get the most out of your social media marketing efforts. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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70. GleamGleam is a popular tool that allows you to create and manage social media contests and reward campaigns. Examples of the types of contests and campaigns you can create include 1-click entry competitions, refer-a-friend campaigns, coupon offers, and more. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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71. GrammarlyGrammarly is a tool that you can use to identify and eliminate common spelling and grammar errors in your content. The tool also offers content optimization features aimed at improving your content and your writing abilities. Pricing: Premium plans start at $29.95/month

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72. FlareFlare is a tool that you can use to create a social media share bar on your website content. Social share bars can boost engagement and brand authority. The tool allows you to track social and engagement analytics in order to determine the effectiveness of your blog content. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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73. MentionMention is one of the best ways to monitor your brand, your name, and the names of the people you work with (executives, coworkers, partners, etc.). The tool helps you keep track of mentions from the web and from social media, making sure you never miss an opportunity to engage with a fan or prospect. Pricing: Starts at $29/month

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74. NarrowNarrow is a tool that makes it easy to grow your Twitter following. The tool helps optimize and automate the process by working with you to identify the right types of followers you’re looking to connect with on Twitter. All you have to do is enter target keywords, and Narrow does the rest. Pricing: Starts at $9/month

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75. Notifier Notifier is a tool that you can use to boost traffic and engagement on your site. You can use the tool to scan your latest blog posts in order to automatically find and organize the influencers you know you want to reach out to. Once you scan your post and build your list, all you have to do is compose your social media outreach message template, select the people you want to reach out to, and send or schedule your tweets. Pricing: Starts at $0/month

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What other tools would you add to this list? Leave a comment below and tell us what tools you’ve been using to grow your business! We’d love to hear from you.