Archive for Technology

LinkedIn’s New Navigation Bar

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been making a lot of changes and updates to their user interface recently, so things may look a little different if you haven’t logged in recently. For the most part, I feel these changes make the interface cleaner and improve the product, but just like everyone else, it takes me a while to adjust when someone changes or moves “my stuff”.

Recent LinkedIn changes include:

LinkedIn has also made changes to the navigation menu, most notably making search more prominent and comprehensive. Here is a short video from the folk’s at LinkedIn demonstrating the updated navigation bar

LinkedIn just recently announced the update to the navigation bar, so it may be a while before you see these changes in your account.

LinkedIn Now Helps You Manage All of Your Contacts

LinkedIn Contacts Import Screenshot

Linkedin continues to add new features to help you manage your professional network. Last Thursday they announced LinkedIn Contacts, which they are billing as a smarter way to stay in touch with your most important relationships. LinkedIn contacts aims to bring all your contacts, those in your address books, email, and your calendars, into one place.

You’ve been able to import your contacts into LinkedIn in the past. LinkedIn contacts is different in you now connect those contacts as live links so when one of your contacts changes their contact information in one of those linked accounts, the info also gets updated in LinkedIn.

You can synch contacts from a wide variety of source, here are a few screen shots from the “Add Contacts” wizard (click on the images to expand):

linkedin-contacts-import1

The first set of options will link contacts from your popular email, contacts, and calendar programs including Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, and the iPhone Address Book.

linkedin-contacts-applications

In the applications section you can link to your contacts in CardMunch, Evernote, and Tripit.

linkedin-contacts-files

You can also import from CSV files created by exporting your contact information from other popular programs. There is no option, at least right now, for linking Facebook and Twitter contacts. I didn’t see any options for connecting to CRM systems like Salesforce.com, but many CRM systems synch with Outlook, so you may be able to bring over those contacts via Outlook.

In addition to being able to see all of your contacts in one place, you will be able to add notes, set  reminders, notified of birthdays, and see your last communication with a contact.

You can also see your last communication with the person. You’ll be able to sort your contacts based on your most recent interactions with them, upcoming meetings or other criteria.

linkedin-contacts-your-day

Another nice feature is Your Day. Your Day gives you suggestions on who you should contact (in the gray box below) and why. The icons above your contacts profile picture indicate whether they have a new job, birthday, etc.

Contacts is available both on LinkedIn.com and as an app for iPhone.

Get a Head Start with Google Analytics Solutions Gallery

google analytics solution gallery logo

Getting started with Google Analytics can be challenging. The tool contains so many reports, filters, and ability for customizations that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to look first. There is a definite learning curve for moving from looking at data to drawing insights that will help you make business decisions.

Google is helping to shorten that learning curve with their Google Analytics Solution Gallery. This solution gallery contains Dashboards, Advanced Segments and Custom Reports that you can quickly import into your own analytics account.

The tool helps you find the right component to answer the business question you want to address. Here is a snapshot of the dropdowns you can use to filter and find the the metrics that matter to you (click the image to see a larger version):

google-analtics-gallery-1

 

The Analytics Solution dropdown allows you to narrow down your choices to the available Dashboard, Custom Report, or Advanced Segment categories.

Use the Business Objective dropdown to indicate the type of website you have – Publisher, E-commerce, Branding, Lead Generation or Support.

The Marketing Function filter helps you select tools to help you answer questions about SEO, Social Sharing, Engagement, PPC, Acquisition, Mobile, and Site Optimization.

As you change the dropdowns, the page will display the different tools available in the area below, along with a description of each tool. For example, here is an image of the custom reports for e-commerce that are related to acquisition:

google-analytics-gallery-2

To add one of these solutions to your Google Analytics account:

  1. Make sure you are logged into your GA account
  2. Click on the download link under the description of the solution you want to add to your account
  3. Accept the solution into your account and indicate which Web Profile you want to apply it to.

That’s it, you should now have the tool in your GA account ready to use.

Conducting Business On The Go Is a Snap With These Nifty Apps

tech tools for small business

[Today's post is a guest post from James Porter. James is a programmer and college advisor who lives in Washington, D.C. ]

Since travel is a given for most of us in the world of business and finance, having a mobile device filled with apps will help simplify work processes. Smartphones and tablet devices can be transported anywhere and can serve as your office away from “the office,” so you can take care of business while onsite or off. Forbes rated the top must-have apps for business owners who want to elevate their productivity.

EchoSign

This e-signature app, developed by Adobe, is ideal for traveling sales representatives. Forget about lugging heavy contracts and save a few trees; EchoSign allows you to send, sign and manage documents from your mobile device. Though it’s a little pricey, an enterprise or global license ranges $299 to $399 for up to one to five users, it’s worth it, especially if you need to get that signature right away.

EverNote for Business

Now in it’s fifth edition, this multi-platform app for note taking now has a billing feature and allows users to collaborate and share notes among other users. For only $10 a month per user, this easy-to-use app also offers live support to premium users, during online chat support sessions Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., U.S. PST.

WorkShare

If you are a big collaborator and you can’t be bothered with email and sending a USB would just be taking security chances on top-secret projects, WorkShare is a great solution. You can use WorkShare for solo projects too and don’t worry if you leave your laptop at home or in the hotel room, your project is safe and sound on this excellent cloud-share platform.

Speaktoit

Rated as one of the top 10 apps of 2012 by New York Times’ blog, Speaktoit has been the Android app’s answer to the iPhone’s Siri. This virtual assistant has been updated recently. Features like a scheduling section that will remind you of important meetings, assist you in scheduling flights, making accommodations and arrangements. Speaktoit is currently teaming up with financial new providers so they can send you updated finance alerts on stock quotes or market news.

MeetingMapper Fierce

MeetingMapper Fierce is an advanced version of MeetingMapper, a sophisticated iPad-only app that allows users to decide which action points should be discussed from meeting to meeting, so participants get the most out of the time they spend discussing a project. The Fierce version of this app integrates SalesForce, another cloud-based tool, which can store and share data with colleagues and present that data before, during and after meetings.

Using these apps, onsite, from your home, or somewhere else might not solve all of your work related woes, but they will help you to be a more organized and productive business owner and that is definitely worth the download.

Facebook’s Search Engine – Graph Search

facebook-graph-search-logoFacebook recently announced their new search product called Graph Search. Graph search is a way for you to find people, places, and other interests that have been shared on Facebook. According to Facebook, “All results are unique based on the strength of relationships and connections.”.

Graph search will be very different from searching on the web. Web search is designed to provide the best possible results for a set of keywords. Graph search will return a set of people, places, photos, etc., that have been shared on Facebook and are related to your query. does a great job of explaining this difference in this post on searchengineland.com.

So when would you search on Facebook rather than Google? Based on reading several overviews, I’ve made up a few example searches below:
  • People who like golf and live in Kansas City
  • Photos of my friends from the 2012 All Star Game
  • BBQ restaurants in Lenexa my friends have liked
  • Recent movies liked by my friends

As you can see, graph search appears to have a huge potential for small businesses to be found by the friends of their customers. I’ll be posting more about how small business can benefit from graph search when more details become available (and I get a chance to experiment with it).

If you want to see some examples of the types of searches you can do with Facebook’s Graph Search, along with some screenshots of what the search results will look like, check out the photo galleries on this post fromengadget.

Want Facebook Graph Search? You can’t have it <g>, but you can get on the waiting list here -  www.facebook.com/graphsearch

The Future of Google

Larry Page talks about the future of Google and technology. I found his comments about simplifying, both Google’s product lines and how technology fits into our lives, very interesting. This video also provides some insights into the role of social in search.

But my favorite part of the whole video is when Larry talks about “a healthy disregard of the impossible.”

Finding Customers Online by Listening for Intent

For small business owners, social media presents a familiar good news, bad news situation.

The good news is social media gives us access to thousands (millions) of conversations going on in the marketplace.

The bad news is social media gives us access to thousands (millions) of conversations going on in the marketplace.

Small business owners don’t have time to sift through thousands of conversations hoping to find the few that will help them make a sale. Without tools and techniques to filter out irrelevant conversations, most small business marketers will typically:

  1. Budget a block of time to “do social media”. Typically this just limits the amount of time that is wasted rather than improving results.
  2. Try to outsource it (just get it off my plate). Outsourcing can work, but only if owners and employees stay actively involved in the process.
  3. Abandon social media because it’s “not right for their business”

listening stationMany small business marketers try to filter out noise and find relevant conversations online by creating listening stations. Listening stations are essentially queries that send you a notification whenever they find a new result. Google Alerts is a common starting point for creating a listening station.

Typically you are listening for a particular set of keywords used by your prospects. Ideally, you will have surveyed your customers to learn how the phrases they use when describing the problem you solve and searching for solutions.

For example, if I am an attorney specializing in estate planning, I may want to listen for conversations containing keywords and phrases like:

  • Wills, inheritance, probate
  • Trusts, living trusts, irrevocable trust
  • Estate planning
  • death taxes
  • life insurance

The problem you will run into when you do this is you will be inundated with conversations that are not relevant to your goals. How can you sort through the massive amounts of conversations taking place online to find relevant conversations without having it become a full time job?

A common recommendation you will hear is that you need to refine the keyword phrases you listen for to be more specific. While this may be true, I believe you also listen for other words/phrases that will help you determine the intent of the conversation.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to oversimplify things by narrowing down intent into 3 categories:

  1. People looking for help
  2. People promoting products and services
  3. Other

Most small business owners want to listen to conversations looking for people in category #1. The problem they run into is they get swamped with messages from people in category #2.

I suggest (as always <g>) that you apply the skills that make you successful in “live” networking events in your online networking activities. Here is what I mean by that.

Whenever you attend a local chamber meeting, or other networking event, you meet both people looking for help and people wanting to sell. When you have conversations, you use your listening skills to determine the intent of the people you talk to. Even if you are there to just help (i.e. not sell) you must determine the intent or needs of individuals before you can help them.

How do we listen for intent online? By listening for the words and phrases your prospects use to express they are looking for help or are in the research stage of their buying cycle.

When you conduct keyword research, you try to determine how your prospects express the solutions you provide. You also need to understand:

  1. what events trigger a prospect to look for your solutions and
  2. how they typically start their research – what questions do they ask and where do they turn for answers.

You may find that your prospects use words and phrases like:

  • help
  • who would you recommend
  • what is your experience
  • do you have any tips
  • where can I find
  • who do you know
  • do you have an opinion about…
  • what do you think about this vs. that?

Once you find the phrases that your ideal prospects use to express intent, combine them with your targeted keyword phrases to create listening station queries that deliver relevant results.

Keyword Research Using Übersuggest

Keyword research is becoming a staple of small business marketing these days. Whether you are optimizing a web page or searching for topics to write about on your blog, you will want to have a good keyword search tool in your toolbox.

Übersuggest is a free keyword suggestion tool that makes good use of Google Suggest and other suggest services. Ubersuggest will help you build a list of highly relevant keyword phrases (including long-tail keywords) quickly and easily. Here is a quick video I made showing how to use Ubersuggest to find keyword phrases related to estate planning:

7 Apps That Will Change The Way You Do Marketing

Small Business Marketing Tools HandbookJohn Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing has teamed up with the folks at HubSpot to bring you a handy guide called The Productivity Handbook. The handbook covers 7 web apps that you be more productive and grow your small business.

The guide provides a nice overview of the tools and John shares examples of how he puts the tools to work.

Here is a list of the apps covered in the handbook:

You can download your free copy of The Productivity Handbook here

What’s In Your Digital Toolbox?

small business marketing toolkitWe all have our favorite tools for saving time and collaborating with others. Here are 5 applications that I use every day – what’s in your toolbox?

Buffer App – Gives you a buffer to add items that you want to share with others via Twitter and/or Facebook. You add things to your buffer as you find them, and then the app distributes them throughout the day according to a predefined schedule that you can customize.

Evernote – a notebook(s) on steroids, Evernote allows you to capture anything you want to remember and quickly retrieve it on any device.

Dropbox – is just about the easiest way to share and collaborate on files that I have found. It is also a great way to share files across different computers and devices. For example, you can access your Dropbox files from the office, your home computer, iPad, smartphone, or any web browser.

Workflowy – is like having the world’s biggest piece of paper to keep track of all of your projects and to-do’s. It’s so simple, it’s hard to believe how powerful it is. Check out the video on their homepage.

Clearly – from the makers of Evernote, Clearly makes it easier to read and print web pages by removing everything except the article or blog post that you want to read.