SD-WAN: Networking made simpler
The appetite for bandwidth among businesses large and small is increasingly voracious, as are expectations for application versatility and performance. Yet the bandwidth that is essential for application access and reliability is not getting any easier to manage by yesterday’s IT processes. To better harness costs and network complexity, many businesses are looking to the public internet for connection options and custom configurations that can be made simpler by SD-WAN.
Software-defined operations enabled by SD-WAN help simplify IT work and securely connect multiple locations. With the technology, bandwidth can be dynamically distributed from a central location to any other location on the network through a single interface. If a preferred route degrades, another one can be assigned quickly and easily. A centrally controlled WAN allows the IT lead to execute numerous operations in minutes, eliminating multiple manual operations.
To put it simply, the benefits of SD-WAN can return value to organizations in several strategic ways. Chief among them:
Reduced complexity--Centralized management enables and simplifies unified standards for quality of service (QoS) and security across the network.
Increased efficiency--With SD-WAN, data is routed based on each application’s requirements, as well as current network conditions.
Sustained availability--Near real-time decisions can be made to redirect traffic to the service that is most suitable at any given time. Secondary network connectivity and inexpensive broadband allow for a cost-effective way to keep the network up and running.
Cost control--Businesses can use premium connections when needed, and low-cost routes for less sensitive purposes, such as posting to social media. Pricey bandwidth can be more closely managed when inexpensive internet connectivity can be designated for noncritical applications.
The bottom line is that SD-WAN holds great promise as a simple means for helping companies of almost any size tame network operations, enable security, continuity, and innovation for every branch location and transition to advanced business communications. To learn more about software-defined networking, check out the free webinar, Simple, Secure Networking with SD WAN on November 1st at 2 PM
A guest article by Ramon Ray, entrepreneur, global speaker and best selling author.
For the past few years, I’ve come to realize the simplicity of social media marketing. Sure, there are some complex parts to it, but it’s really about four key areas.
Frequency, Relevancy, Engagement and Analytics – FREA.
Once you’ve defined your target audience and you know to WHOM you are speaking, the rest fall into place. This doesn’t mean it won’t take hard work, but if you follow these four principles you’ll do just fine.
If you’re out of site, on social media, you’re out of mind. In order to make social media work for you, you must ensure that you’re constantly posting content to educate or entertain your audience.
On Twitter you can post several times a day. On Facebook, more than twice a day might get annoying. LinkedIn, keep that to no more than once every 2 or 3 days. Instagram, like Twitter, you can post frequently.
Whatever you do, definitely post and post often. There’s a lot of content online and posting once is never enough. It takes strategic repetition to ensure a wider audience sees what you’re posting. This same repetition is also important to build trust, credibility and get someone to take action.
If you’re not posting the right content to the right audience you’re wasting your time. Ensure that what you are posting is of value to your audience. It’s easy to post irrelevant content – and just press “submit” on our favorite social networks. Smart marketers know their audience and ensure they are giving them information they really want and find useful.
Engagement is one of the most important pieces to the marketing puzzle. If the content you’re publishing is boring (not interesting) no one’s going to notice it. No one’s going to pay attention to it.
It’s important that you use engaging images, video and headlines. Your content should CAPTURE attention and should be so interesting that whoever’s reading it wants to share it with others. Engaging content doesn’t mean it must be FUNNY. It can be serious. But it’s GOT TO BE INTERESTING.
Now that you’re posting and engaging with your community, it’s critical that you measure your results. You want to know, for example, who is the audience that’s reading your content. Another data point you want to know is what content is being read the most. These questions and others are easily found out with Google Analytics for your web site. Facebook has very rich analytics tools to review the traffic to your Facebook page. Each of the social networks have varying degrees of analytics tools to measure your traffic and audience.
Overall it’s essential that you leverage the power of social media in a strategic and purposeful manner. Not using social media can have the same results as using social media, but not using it correctly. You want to leverage content as a way to BUILD a community of fans and followers. You can then nurture this community to become your customers, brand Ambassadors and champions.
Join entrepreneur, best selling author and global speaker, Ramon Ray in a FREE webinar on August 23, 2017 at 2pm ET hosted by Verizon Business Markets as he shares how to use social platforms to DRIVE your business forward.
Register here to save your place.
Are you a valued member of Small Biz Rewards - our free, informative loyalty program? Then you’ll automatically receive 500 points for attending this live webinar (usually 100). That’s 5x the points as part of this year’s 5-year anniversary celebration.
Not yet a member? It’s free to join, plus we’ll start you off with 250 welcome points. Then, enjoy earning 1 point per $1 you spend on the qualified Verizon services you’re already using,* get exclusive discounts and upgrade offers, receive valuable tips to help you and your small business, and redeem your points for gift cards to major retailers to help offset the costs of doing business. Join here.
*Small Biz Rewards program members earn 1 point per $1 spent on their qualified monthly Verizon charges for landline Phone, Business Digital Voice, Business Internet, Fios Internet and/or Fios TV, up to 500 points per month. Reward program is only available to business customers who sign up for eligible services in select states. Program terms apply.
Entrepreneurs like to take pride in the fact they’re leaders, quickly adapting to—or even starting market movements. But the mobile revolution has left many small business owners flat-footed, trailing consumers who’ve embraced mobile with surprising speed.
Part of the problem is many business owners assume they’re mobile-compliant—after all they’ve optimized their websites for mobile viewing. And while that is a crucial component—it’s just not enough anymore. If your goal is to grow your business—mobile sales, marketing, email and payments must also become part of your business practices.
Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. Mobile technology has become so important because it’s increasingly the most common way consumers go online. A report from Zenith Mobile Advertising Forecasts says 75% of internet usage will be via mobile this year. And by “usage” we mean people actually picking up and checking their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. Research from Facebook underscores this—it shows 73% of consumers always have their phones with them. And according to the Zenith Media Consumption Forecast, consumers spend an average of 86 minutes a day using the mobile web—compared to 36 minutes on desktop internet.
Now let’s look at some specifics.
Consumers generally start their hunt looking for products and services by going to a search engine—and increasingly that search engine is on a mobile device.
Mobile searches in general are on the rise, and mobile searches for something “near me” are growing by 146% year-over-year, reports Google. Already, 88% of all “near me” searches are done on a mobile device. Those mobile searches get results. Seventy-six percent of people who search online for something nearby visit a business within a day; 28 percent of those visits result in a sale. With the average adult projected to spend a whopping 3 hours and 18 minutes a day on a mobile device this year, mobile searches will only increase.
More generally, according to the report, Realizing the Potential of Mobile Measurement, from Google, Bain & Company and Econsultancy, 69% of smartphone owners search on mobile first when they need something.
So many small businesses rely on email marketing because it’s affordable. And it has great potential reach—Statista reports by 2019 there will be 2.9 billion global email users. In the U.S. alone, it’s projected there’ll be 244.5 million email users by the end of this year —growing to 254.7 million by 2020. The DMA (Data & Marketing Association) reports email marketing has a 122% return-oninvestment (ROI) and “outperforms all other channels.” And 74% of consumers say they
prefer (and welcome) email marketing messages from businesses.
Email marketing today must be mobile-friendly. And yet businesses are lagging consumers in their embrace of mobile email marketing. Statista says more e-mails are being read on mobile devices—in fact, email, it says, is the third most popular smartphone activity—86% of Americans use their mobile devices to check personal e-mail.
Reinforcing these stats, last year’s Adestra Consumer Adoption & Usage Study shows more than 25% of consumers first read their emails on mobile devices. Nearly 75% of them delete their emails if they don’t look good on their mobile devices—and yet only 17% of emails are optimized for mobile viewing. In other words, consumers who want your emails are likely deleting them before they’re read because they are not mobile-friendly. No small business can survive with those kinds of numbers.
2017 is expected to be a “benchmark year” for m-commerce—sales from phones and tablets. Already about 60% of consumers use their smartphones to research products before making a purchase—and 65% use tablets. According to Kahuna, 28% of Millennials (a huge market just hitting its peak purchasing power), prefer to shop on their smartphones. Almost half of shoppers say it’s now easier to buy products on mobile devices. But they want businesses to offer more promotions, coupons and discounts for mobile purchasing.
More and more consumers want to pay for products and services via their mobile devices. BI Intelligence reports mobile payment sales will reach $503 billion by 2020, up from $75 billion last year. And TechCrunch reports by 2020 90% of smartphone users will have made a purchase from a mobile device.
You ignore the mobile revolution at your risk. There’s a lot more to learn. I hope you’ll join me on May 17th at 2 ET for a webinar and join the Mobile Revolution.
Please join us on Friday, November 13th at 2:00 pm ET for a free, online webinar featuring Clint Bruce.
Mr. Bruce, a former Navy SEAL, possesses three traits that help his small businesses and foundation run smoothly: a military background, a disciplined approach, and a passion for what he does. Hear the story behind his motto, “Hold fast, stay true.”
Since leaving the U.S. Navy, Mr. Bruce has founded two companies and one Foundation: TRG -- the trusted advisor in risks to America's best businesses, leaders, and families; HoldFast -- a speakers’ bureau that provides world-class speakers to top-tier companies by coaching and employing both veterans and transitioning professional athletes; and, Carry the Load -- a foundation created to help meet America’s desire to honor their fallen firefighters, law enforcement officers, rescue personnel and military during the month of May.
From my webinar today, “Marketing on a Shoestring,” below you’ll find the links to the sites and resources I referred to, broken down by the three major marketing approaches I touched on. To catch the replay of my webinar click here or go to http://bit.ly/pUmHUT.
Looking world-class on your website: Lisa Barone lists 5 “must haves” for your About page:
Content Management Systems: Use a content management system (CMS) to allow easy updating without getting your Website developer involved all the time:
- Intuit websites are updatable
- WordPress.orgcan be used for uncomplicated, non-commerce sites
- Large domain registrars offer updatable websites – Network Solutions, Verisign and GoDaddy
- Services like Edit.com will convert your existing website
- Drupal is another, although more technical, CMS
- If you want a CMS that is more customized, check list at:
Trust seals: Use them legitimately – don’t just grab them. Remember, they serve different purposes (business complaints, ecommerce, secure website, industry expertise, etc.). Here are some examples of trust seals:
- Better Business Bureau
- VeriSign Trust Seal
- McAfee Secure
- Industry association and Chamber of Commerce memberships
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
Google offers a “Starter Guide” for SEO:
http://bit.ly/rfQuce (PDF file)
Great guide for bloggers to learn about basic SEO:
Local businesses: to improve rankings, try to get citations to your site from the most important places. David Mihm has a list from his recent survey: http://www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml#citations
- Yahoo Local
- Niche Industry Sites (including TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and DealerRater)
John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing has an excellent book dedicated to developing referrals to grow your business: “Referral Engine”. There’s an accompanying website at http://referralenginebook.com.
Establish someone in your firm as an expert for speaking, articles, guest blogging: Pick someone with business expertise in your industry and/or your CEO.
According to the Edelman 2011 Trust Barometer
- 64% trust a technical expert within a company – 2nd highest trusted source after an academic expert
- 4th highest trusted source is the company CEO at 50%
Slide #21 – repetition matters, so the more you get your company people out to speak, in more places online and offline, the better:
- 59% of people will believe something about a business if they hear it 3 to 5 times. Increase the number of times, and even more people will believe it.
Becoming an expert for PR purposes: If you’re not an expert, how do you become one? Read: How to Establish Yourself as an Expert
The Verizon Author Series was designed to bring experts to small businesses. This month we gave away featured author, Phil Simon’s book “The New Small.” We will give away more of Phil’s book the rest of this week and next.
This Wednesday, June 22nd, at 2 p.m. ET Phil will host a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center and then be available for a whole hour on Twitter on Thursday, June 23rd at 12 p.m. ET to answer questions and offer advice.
I urge all businesses to seize these two opportunities to get insights from Phil Simon directly. Consider these as free consultations with a business expert; so, why not participate?
During this Wednesday’s webinar Phil will discuss what most forget: a small business now has access to many kinds of technology that used to be reserved for major corporations with budgets and infrastructures to make them deliver. And this all starts with website design. Learn why you no longer need to spend a great deal of money to great a professional web presence.
To register for the free live webinar click here (or go to http://bit.ly/lJlndU). Towards the end of the webinar feel free to ask Phil your questions or save your questions and ask him on Twitter. For more information about the Twitter chat click here (or go to http://bit.ly/edjtQT) just be sure to include hashtag – #bizbooks – and follow @VzSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz).
Of course, feel free to post your questions – get tips/advice for your business – in the comments section below and we’ll make sure Phil answers it during the webinar or on Twitter.
The first 25 to ask a question or a comment below will get a copy of Phil’s book.
The Verizon Authors Series was designed to bring experts to small businesses. All this month we gave away featured author, Don Tapscott’s book “Macrowikinomics – Rebooting Business and the World.”
We will give away more of Don’s book the rest of this week and next.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25th, at 2 p.m. ET Don will host a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center and then be available for an hour on Twitter on Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. ET to answer questions and offer advice.
I urge all businesses to seize these two opportunities to get insights from Don Tapscott directly. Consider these as free consultations with a business expert; so, why not participate? During this webinar Don will offer tips for businesses to compete with well-entrenched competitors. He will address how small businesses can benefit and learn from the principles of Wikinomics – collaboration, openness, sharing interdependence and integrity.
To register for the webinar click here. Towards the end of the webinar feel free to ask Don your questions or save your questions and ask him on Twitter. For more information about the Twitter chat click here, just be sure to include #bizbooks and follow @VzSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz).
Of course, feel free to post your questions in the comments section below and we’ll make sure Don answer it during the webinar or on Twitter.
Don Tapscott is one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology and advises business and government leaders around the world. He has authored or co-authored 14 widely read books including the 1992 best seller Paradigm Shift. His 1995 hit The Digital Economy changed thinking around the world about the transformational nature of the Internet and two years later he defined the Net Generation and the “digital divide” in Growing Up Digital. His 2000 work, Digital Capital, introduced seminal ideas like “the business web” and was described by BusinessWeek as “pure enlightenment." Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was the best selling management book in 2007 and translated into over 25 languages.
Guest blog post by author Alan Gregerman who wrote Surrounded by Geniuses, he has been helping companies and organizations unlock the genius that exists in all of their employees.
If you're like most businesses you realize that providing excellent customer service is essential to your success. While you might win customers based on the quality, reliability, and price of your products, services, or solutions, you're likely to keep them by delivering the best customer experience in your marketplace. And you don't have to be a large company to provide world-class service. In fact, as a small or medium-size business you have some distinct advantages in building a more customer-centric business. First, you're closer to the customer and can engage in an ongoing "conversation" to understand their evolving needs and the best ways to meet them. Second, you can tap your entrepreneurial spirit to do new things more quickly and effectively without breaking the bank. But it all begins by acknowledging the importance of customer service and your potential to be innovative and remarkable.
And that's what this Wednesday’s webinar is all about. I will begin the webinar by looking at a couple of companies that have two different and very successful customer service models to give you a sense of how you can create your own winning customer experience. Then I go over service from the customer's perspective and show how you can identify the critical "moments of truth" in your relationship with customers--moments when you have the opportunity to make a powerful and lasting impression. Next, I'll explore six big ideas that could provide a framework for enhancing your customer experience and provide practical guidance on how to bring them to life. These ideas can be adapted to your budget and industry to achieve brilliant results. And last, I'll review the eight keys to building stronger relationships with your customers. And if you have questions at the end I'll tried to offer as much specific help as possible.
So please join me on this free live webinar tomorrow Wednesday April 27th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time for "Customer Service -- Winning in Your Market by Creating the Most Compelling Customer Experience."
PS, if you can’t make the live, free webinar, watch the replay as my webinar will be taped and archived so you can view it later. And follow @VzSmallBiz or fan VerizonSmallBiz to get a copy of my latest book titled "Surrounded by Geniuses" which offers even more ideas for unlocking the brilliance in yourself, your colleagues, and your company.
- Everyone's Tags:
- Customer loyalty