Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

“At Squarespace, we noticed that the things that make a big difference can seem very small,” Atkinson said. “For instance, changing the color of a button on our site increased sales. We also found that you can double conversions just by moving some key phrases from the left side to the right.”

Based on data SumAll collected, here are 10 tips for turning traffic into sales:

1. “My” works better than “your.” “‘Start my free trial now’ will get more clicks than ‘Start your free trial now’,” Atkinson says. “The word ‘my’ suggests to people that it’s already theirs, so why not claim it?”

2. If your service is free, emphasize that. Adding “100% free” or “Get started for free” will always help boost conversion. When SumAll added “100% free” to its site’s headline, sales jumped by 18%.

3. Reassure potential customers that privacy is respected. When asking for an email address, “make sure to clearly state that it’s for your eyes only — for example, ‘We won’t ever sell your information. We hate spam too’,” Atkinson says.

4. Use active phrases on buttons. “Don’t ever label buttons with the word ‘Submit’. It isn’t descriptive enough,” said Atkinson. “Instead, make sure the button says something like ‘Get instant access’.”

5. Colors matter, and orange buttons encourage people to buy. The reason behind it is a bit of a mystery, but Atkinson thinks it’s partly because “sites like Amazon and eBay have so popularized orange buttons that they’ve become what people expect.”

6. Placement matters. On your homepage, make sure images and videos are on the left, while the call to action is on the right. “Western audiences tend to read from left to right, so this simple tweak is surprisingly effective,” Atkinson said. At SumAll, this one change boosted conversion by 5%.

7. Personalize recommendations. Use product badges to indicate when something is “new” or a “staff pick” or “just for you.” Small as it seems, it goes a long way toward encouraging browsers to buy.

8. Be consistent. Make sure the copy and design of your advertising matches the copy and design of your site, Atkinson advised. “Breaking this continuity, which is a kind of ’scent trail’ between ads and online pages, can seriously hurt conversion.”

9. Be cautious about using videos. “Those fancy videos startups love can cut both ways,” Atkinson observed. SumAll has seen videos discourage conversion as often as they improve it, especially if they’re too long. After about 90 seconds, potential customers tend to get bored and wander off.

10. Constantly test what works and what doesn’t. Even basics like your company’s slogan should be reevaluated. When SumAll changed the tag line on its site from “The world’s best tracking tool” to the friendlier “All your social media in one place,” conversions shot up by 60%.

[Via - CNNMoney]

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The words ‘Intranet’ and ‘SharePoint’ have become synonymous. After all, it’s estimated that 50% of all intranets run on SharePoint. But not all is well for the Redmond giant. SharePoint administrator salaries have fallen by 7%last year(all other IT salaries increased 3%), only 6% of SharePoint users are completely happy with it, and more and companies are either completely abandoning SharePoint or having to use hybrid solutions to overcome the shortfalls. 

At the same time the second generation of Intranets, called Intranet 2.0 or social intranet solutions, have been quickly spreading in popularity, so quickly that Microsoft itself has been forced to buy out SharePoint competitor Yammer for a cool $1.2 billion a year and a half ago. So what can Intranet 2.0 solutions (Bitrix24, Mango, Jive) do for you that SharePoint can’t? 

1. Save you money. 

SharePoint is unreasonably expensive. If your company has 100 employees, expect to pay at least $25,000 in licensing fees alone. The cloud version of SharePoint starts at $3 per user per month, but it doesn’t really do anything. For $8 per users you also get social features via Yammer integration. And if you want to work with documents, you’ll have to pay $15 per user per month for Office 365 integration. If you also want email (Outlook or Exchange), you have to pay even more. In fact, SharePoint licensing is so confusing that it takes a special consultant to give you even a ballpark estimate how much it’s going to cost you. Intranet 2.0 solutions, on the other hand, often charge flat fee for unlimited users ($100-$200 a month). There is a very big difference in paying $100 a month vs $1000 a month and price is a major consideration for many companies. 

2. Mobile intranet. 

I don’t know why, but Microsoft decided not to release SharePoint mobile app for iOS and Android. Yammer has one, nearly all Intranet 2.0 solutions have one, even SharePoint partners often have mobile apps for their solutions but not SharePoint itself. So if you want to have a fully functional mobile intranet, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

3. Intuitive Dropbox-like document collaboration and file sharing. 

Document management is supposed to be SharePoint strongest point. In fact, it’s fair to say that it still is a great document management system- just stuck in the past. It’s like Redmond never heard of Dropbox or Box.Com. Just like with the mobile app, for some strange reason Microsoft decided not to release modern desktop app for SharePoint that lets you easily synchronize and share documents, forcing you to use OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) instead, which just doesn’t cut it for most users. 

4. Unified Communications and Collaboration. 

This is the biggest SharePoint sin in my book. Your company probably has CRM to track sales, Project Management for planning, Human Resources Management System for dealing with HR issues. You share documents with your co-workers, talk to them on the phone, exchange e-mails and have an occasional video conference. In Intranet 2.0 solutions, like Bitrix24 or its clones, all of these features are right inside your intranet, already integrated with each other and getting along nicely. Easy, right? So why doesn’t Microsoft - which does have its own CRM (Dynamics), PM (Microsoft Projects), social network (Yammer), videoconferencing (Lync), mobile platform and other solutions - just seamlessly integrate them into SharePoint? 

5. Lookin’ good. 

SharePoint is butt-ugly. There, I said it. And it’s not just a matter of taste. Design, usability and user experience are all intertwined. SharePoint is already suffering from low adoption and satisfaction rates. People just don’t get excited about SharePoint (not that they ever did). At the same time, Intranet 2.0 solutions are capitalizing on the trend of IT consumerization, SharePoint is still hopelessly behind. In the past you could simply force intranet onto your employees. Everybody just looked and the cafeteria menu page anyway. But as the intranet and collaboration segment matures, and as more and more Gen Y workers enter the workforce, expectations are higher, and you really have to concentrate on intranet UI to achieve adoption and to boost workforce efficiency. 

The famous ‘dinosaur law’ states that things get really big right before they are about to go extinct, and $2 billion per year SharePoint industry seems to be following that path perfectly. Granted, SharePoint has a lot of advantages over the fledgling Intranet 2.0 solutions, from hundreds of thousands of certified developers and administrators to an entire ecosystem of existing apps, extensions and plugins that help users work around SharePoint’s drawbacks. But when one day it joins the ranks of Internet Explorer, Bing, Zune or Windows CE, one won’t be able to say that nobody saw it coming.

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Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

Tucked in a warehouse a mile from the Las Vegas Strip, a handful of employees cut, grind, sand and polish glass — turning tourists’ trash into treasure.

It’s the business of bottles, and there’s certainly no shortage in Las Vegas. The Strip’s 24-hour party cycle sends scores of empty liquor, wine and beer bottles to the trash, much of it destined for burial at a landfill.

The demise of this perfectly good glass troubled Steve Cherry, founder of Bottles & Wood, a new Las Vegas-based company that repurposes discarded alcohol bottles.

“The last thing we should be doing with these bottles is crushing it and filling a landfill,” he said. “That does nothing for anyone.”

His business idea didn’t start in Las Vegas, though. A Southern California native, Cherry began repurposing glass water bottles to make candleholders for a friend’s restaurant. Customers approved of the new decor and asked where to buy it.

A sudden demand for the unique glassware got Cherry, a former software executive, thinking: Could this little side business be the start of something greater?

“I was like a shop guy when I was a kid,” he said. “Never thought I was going to make a living at it.”

Fast forward to July. That’s when Cherry moved his burgeoning business into warehouse space with a view of the Strip on the west side of Interstate 15. He pays 40 cents a square foot to rent the space and, so far, employs a dozen people.

“There are more liquor bottles coming out of this one-mile Strip than in Southern California,” Cherry said, explaining his rationale for moving to Las Vegas. “It’s an enormous anomaly.”

In a sense, his business model emulates the actual recycling process: He takes unwanted glass bottles from Las Vegas establishments, repurposes them and sells the new products back to wholesalers, tourists and locals. His glassware, ranging in price from $7.50 to $50 per piece, can be bought online or in gift shops.

Have a favorite liquor brand? There’s probably a product made from it. Drinking glasses made from Grey Goose vodka bottles line one display shelf. Across the way, there’s a light fixture featuring glass from a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle. Other products include candleholders, candy bowls, wine tumblers and jewelry.

Cherry said his company was pursuing trademark licensing agreements with major liquor brands.

“We don’t put any logos on anything we do,” he said. ” We just take existing product and repurpose it.”

The “wood” part of the company name refers to a similar venture in California’s wine country. The company’s San Francisco factory takes old wine barrels and creates products, such as cheese trays and cutting boards.

In Las Vegas, Bottles & Wood has received discarded bottles from the Mob Bar, Bar + Bistro, Triple George and Krave, to name a few, Cherry said. He’s working with Strip properties but can’t yet disclose their names.

It’s an opportunity Cherry calls a “win-win-win” for all involved. Bottles & Wood pays establishments 10 cents to 50 cents per bottle of liquor or specialty beer, he said.

“The hotels pay by the ton to have their glass hauled away,” he said. “So if we take away a ton a week, it’s less money they pay.”

Cherry also views his new company as a way to make an impact in Nevada, a state known for its scarce environmental laws. He hopes to offer tours of the Las Vegas factory to school groups.

The 58-year-old admits his new venture is a far cry from software company boardrooms — and the ocean, for that matter. He’s an avid sailor.

“I thought it was time for me to give back to the community,” he said. “Doing software is horribly financially rewarding and empty in every other sense of job satisfaction.”

Just don’t ask about his favorite drink. It’s water, he says, laughing as he looks at all the repurposed alcohol bottles surrounding him.

“I’m not a hard liquor drinker,” he said. “I do enjoy my tequila once in a while.”

[Via - Business Ideas Blog]

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1. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is probably the best and most popular free online HR suite. Essentially it’s a fully featured HRMS with features ranging from intranet to company orgchart to self-service portal to leave management and even employee training and onboarding. Well worth a look.

2. NaturalHR

Essentially a Bitrix24 clone with fewer functions but free is free.

3. Trello

Trello is a great free project management solution from Fog Creek Software. Personally, I am not a big fan of Kanban methodology, but there are a lot of people who swear by Trello.

4. WeekDone

Weekdone is an Estonian startup founded by former Skype engineers. Essentially Weekdone is a free workreport and employee feedback system. One of the few tools on this list, along with Bitrix24 and Trello that has a great mobile app.

5. Workflowy

The name may suggest that Workflowy is a workflow or business process automation tool, but it’s not. Rather it’s online organization tool that lets you create todo lists, brainstorm, and plan. Workflowy is quite popular among HR professionals.

6. NimbleCRM

You may wonder what a CRM system is doing among hr tools, but this social CRM can be used as great recruiting and resume management tool. Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs explains. Nimble is 100% free for solo use.

7. AnyPerk

AnyPerk is not free, but at $5 per employee per month, it’s a steal, especially for companies that don’t offer any benefits.

Do you know of any other free HR tools that we overlooked? Make sure you leave a comment.

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1. Bitrix24 

Bitrix24 is probably the best know free internal communications software. Essentially is a unified communications cloud platform that comes with free enterprise social networks, business chat, mobile messaging, videoconferecing, web phone calls and e-mail. What else could you want?The thing that appeals most to me as an IC professional is company news and mandatory announcements module and knowledge management module, though in fact Bitrix24 comes with over 35 different tools from document management, to shared calendars to program management and CRM. Bitrix24 is free for 12 users, addition all $25/mo gets you extra 12 users and if you pay $99/mo you get unlimited users, which is a darn good deal.

2. CoopApp.com

CoopApp came out before Bitrix24 (hence the ugly design) but inspite of not offering as many tools, it’s good at what it has been created for, namely keeping all your employees on the same page.

3. Google+ Hangouts

Great free videochat platform perfect for communicating with your employees who work in different offices or from home.

4. MindMeister.com

If you are in charge of brain storming and idea management and love mind maps, you’ll love MindMeister.  Unfortunately shared mind maps are available in the paid plans only.

5. UserVoice.com

UserVoice has been created with the idea of giving your customers a way to provide feedback and vote on the best ideas. However (don’t tell anyone), you can use UserVoice for free inside your own company to get feedback and ideas from your employees.

6. WeekDone.com

Effective internal communications flow both ways. If you consider work reports an important IC tool (and you should), do take a good look at WorkDone. Along with Bitrix24, it’s one of the few tools that’s available on your mobile as well as PC.

7. OpenLMS.org

OpenLMS is a free open source learning management system. It does require that you are a techsavvy person, but what you get in return is ability to create employee training courses and interactive employee manuals.



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