One Way to Automate Your Online Marketing Efforts

first_img Register Now » 5 min read If news breaks about your business or the industry that your business is in, you most likely want to react, and be seen reacting, to it as soon as possible. Companies try to stay on both sides of this web marketing race by being so-called “thought leaders” in their industries, producing complex, deeply-produced and ultimately pricey Web content that tracks industry and company news.But this thought leadership strategy has a downside: Creating the content for even a modest blog is a full-time job, not to mention maintaining a Twitter feed and a Facebook page, while scanning the Web for news. But there is at least one tool that aims to streamline the way businesses produce and publish content to support their Web marketing efforts.Curata is an online search curation and content posting tool that automatically gathers relevant articles and links from the Web and posts that content to a company’s Website. It was launched last year, by Cambridge, Mass.-based marketing solutions firm HiveFire Inc.Related: 10 Tips for Better Content MarketingConsidering how critical having an engaging Web news presence can be for businesses, we tested a trial version of Curata. For about six weeks, we applied Curata’s capabilities to a sports technology blog we created ourselves by hand. Here’s what we found:What is it: Curata is a combination search engine and Web publishing service that digs out relevant nuggets of online information — similar to how Google finds news items, but only more sophisticated. The site, which is hosted by Curata and operates similarly to popular web publishing tools like TypePad, allows for original company blogs and other content to be mixed with the found online material.The service can then publish all this content back out to Facebook, Twitter, various email newsletter services and other content syndication tools. In our testing, we had Curata curate for sports technology news. And the service found relevant stories that were then published alongside our own blogs, as well as a mix of our Twitter feeds.The service is managed with an easy-to-use Web dashboard. Simple search terms, relevant links for like content and other parameters are entered. Once set up, the company says it takes 20 minutes a day of human support to manage tasks such as adjusting search terms for best results, authorizing the publishing of articles found by the service and creating quick bits of original content.Related: Social Marketing Is Best Served on a Combo PlateCurata isn’t inexpensive, though. Pricing starts at $1,500 on a month-to-month basis, although that can be reduced to $1,350 per month with quarterly payments or $1,000 per month if you pay for an entire year in advance. This tool is squarely aimed at firms that can invest real money in Web marketing and could see Curata as a staffing or outsourcing replacement.What’s smart: During our test period, we found that Curata could explore the hidden currents of the Internet we scarcely knew existed. Day in and day out it fished the Web’s deepest trenches and pulled out fascinating bits of news we did not find on Google, Bing or Yahoo!Curata also has created a clean, simple and professional-looking Website with no special coding knowledge needed. It let us easily mix in our own writing and other material.The learning curve also is minimal. We found Curata generated a lot of high-quality results with minimal trial and error, and was faster and easier than manually sifting through multiple RSS feeds, news alerts and searching for posts.What’s not smart: Curata curates and publishes nicely, but does it make you a legitimate thought leader? We’re not so sure.We found that Curata’s basic functions — including content search, Web publishing and the syndication of material over email — were automatic. But we had to be careful that the material it found suited our readers. Particularly for specific industry niches, many of the stories Curata found were not relevant. And our sense was while Curata could find relevant industry news and post it to an attractive Website, it took real human effort to make sure the service stayed on message.Related: Why Content Marketing Is KingThe company says its search algorithms can learn over time to improve user results. It said results improve after about 50 posts on a given topic.Another downfall is the process of migrating existing content to the Curata host site. If you have an existing company blog, for instance, you’ll probably have to migrate your previous posts to the service by hand.Then comes the big question: Does Curata really produce the deep, well-researched content that will legitimately impress potential customers? Though Curata can improve how content gets produced, high-quality original content will still need to be created, which takes effort and money.Bottom line: Curata is worth a look for firms committed to establishing a thought leadership position online. But for the price — a minimum of $12,000 per year — firms might want to consider whether there is enough return on the investment. For smaller firms, Curata might be overkill and isn’t a replacement for creating compelling, original content. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global October 31, 2011 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.last_img read more

How Apples App Store Changed Business at Its Core

first_imgJuly 12, 2013 6 min read In raw numbers, the Apple App Store’s reach is undeniable, with more than 50 billion downloads and about 900,000 apps in total. Though the stats are impressive, what matters more is the transformative influence the App Store has had in the business world, affecting everything from the logic of pricing to startup culture itself.Even as Apple got people used to the idea of having a supercomputer in their pocket, it significantly changed how businesses interact with consumers around the world, says Brian Blau, research director for consumer technology and markets at research firm Gartner. Thanks to Apple’s innovation, the way we think about product sales and delivery, about marketing and customer loyalty, and about what a hot new startup looks like will never be the same.PricingThe sweet spot for app pricing, when the app isn’t free, is usually $0.99. This “has been a magic number for lots of businesses,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at research firm Forrester, noting that it was Apple’s price for iTunes song downloads even before the App Store launched. Another tech titan that has borrowed this pricing logic is Amazon, which offers many 99-cent ebooks for its Kindle reader.The advantage of such pricing, says Mulpuru, is that “it’s a micropayment, it’s something you almost don’t even think about.” But, she adds, it may be a strategy best suited to large companies doing a high volume of sales: “You have to sell a hell of a lot of whatever it is you’re selling to make any decent money.” Nevertheless, by reducing payment friction — the consumer’s resistance to parting with hard-earned cash — Apple changed the game.Related: Apple’s App Store Turns 5: A Look Back at the Most Popular Business AppsProduct deliveryIn changing the way digital goods are acquired, the App Store also spurred product companies to reinvent themselves in creating offerings for the digital space. “Amazon was king of delivering physical books to your house,” says Blau. “Now you can get ebooks.”Similarly, print media brands such as Wired magazine have developed apps to deliver custom content to their readers. And traditional magazines are now forced to compete with free apps such as Flipboard and Feedly, which mimic the experience of reading a magazine while also pulling in content from social media, blogs and other sources.The expectation now is that delivery of goods, whenever possible, should be instant and accessible from anywhere, Blau says. We have the App Store largely to thank for that.SellingWith a supermajority of iOS apps being offered for free — more than 90 percent, Blau says – companies have turned en masse to a business model in which customers pay for extra features. In this freemium model, “you hook the user with some amount of free content, [and] if they like it, that’s where the hook gets embedded and they’re going to pony up a dollar,” says Blau. In Hipstamatic, a photo-taking app, users might pay for special lenses and filters; in a mobile game, transactions might unlock extra levels or weapons.Pricey apps do exist, such as Traktor DJ, a professional disc-jockey app that sells for $4.99 on iPhone and $19.99 on iPad. But these are mostly niche apps with a user base that is willing to spend the money, Blau says. The freemium model reigns supreme. It’s also known as the “razorblade model” after the way men’s razors are sold cheaply, with replacement razors being expensive, but it was Apple that provided a platform on which this business model could flourish widely.Related: First Look: A Visual Tour of Apple’s iOS 7 for iPhoneMarketingWhen it comes to your marketing initiatives, the App Store has been a double-edged sword. While it created a new platform for advertising, it also created a new problem for brands, namely how to appear at or near the top of search results in Apple’s store, Blau says. The dynamic is similar to that of Google keyword searches — if you aren’t in the top five or 10 results, people will be much less likely to find you.”People will tell me an app’s name and I still can’t find it in many cases,” Mulpuru says. But while it can be hard to attract new users, apps are great customer loyalty tools. Mulpuru offers Pinterest and Houzz, an app for interior design and decorating ideas, as examples of how frequently updated content encourages users to check back regularly, making the app part of their daily life.”They have so much content, but they just move it around, and given that any session I have with them is maybe five minutes, they just need to move around the good content and that’s how I get exposed to more,” Mulpuru says. In this way, the company gets to drive engagement without spending too much time developing new content.Startup cultureThe App Store also revolutionized startup culture. Suddenly, three students in a dorm room or a couple of recent graduates could code an app and build a company on it, getting venture funding and millions of users along the way. The most spectacular success in this vein was Instagram. Stanford University graduates Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger’s app for sharing photos grew from 80 users to 1 million users within two months of its launch.But a phenomenon like Instagram is rare. Where Mulpuru sees the most opportunity is in the realm of “micropreneurs” — people with development skills, she says, “who can build a little something on the side and potentially make a nice side income from it.”Coders who have no desire to launch their own app have benefited too, as the App Store has driven demand for programming talent at companies in a wide range of industries. Says Mulpuru, “I think every parent should look at the App Store and think, ‘This is the future of wealth creation,’ and recognize how important programming is for a core curriculum at a very young age.”Related: Mobile App Marketing 101: How to Spread the Word About Your App Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience.last_img read more

Four new courses added to awardwinning HAL Academy

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: Education, Holland America Line Monday, December 4, 2017 Four new courses added to award-winning HAL Academy SEATTLE — Holland America Line has launched new Holland American Line Academy Core Courses, accessible now through the PartnerSHIPS portal at GoHAL.com or halacademy.com.The award-winning online program features four new courses that cover the brand differentiators and onboard product, destinations, and proven methods to enhance sales. Through interactive and informative training featuring more video, quizzes and fun learning activities, travel agents are able to sell and grow their Holland America Line business.“HAL Academy celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, and it was the perfect time to reenergize our Core Course so travel partners who have graduated from the original program along with those who are new to selling Holland America Line can benefit,” said Eva Jenner, vice president, sales. “We’ve seen a lot of exciting changes to our brand in recent years, but our promise to travel professionals remains the same – we are committed to their success and to being their reliable and easy-to-work-with partner. We are confident that through industry-leading training we can work together to create customers for life with our partners.”Agents must complete all four courses and pass the exams to be entered to win a seven-day Vikings Saga cruise departing May 5, 2019, on Holland America’s newest Pinnacle-class ship, Nieuw Statendam. The exams must be passed by Sept. 18, 2018 to be entered to win. In addition to the grand prize, 12 monthly winners will be randomly selected to receive a package of special Holland America Line logo items.More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesGraduates also receive a US$50 shipboard credit that can be redeemed when cruising on a Travel Agent Appreciation or full-fare cruise, personalized and signed updated certificate, 15 CLIA credits, and 12 credits with the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. New appreciation gifts include Holland America Line luggage tags and a HAL Academy graduate lapel pin.To retain graduate status, current Holland American Line graduates are required to take the new Core Courses.The four new courses are as follows:Course 101: The Holland America Line Difference. Broken into six modules, this course is designed to educate agents on the brand and its target guest. It details Holland America’s global destinations and itineraries, the service and style that epitomize the brand, entertainment and enrichment programs found onboard, cuisine, and PartnerSHIPS.Core Course 102: Destinations & Itinerary Planning. This second course is divided into four modules and delves deeper into Holland America’s worldwide itineraries and how to use the destinations to sell cruises. It covers itinerary planning and guides agents on how to use the line’s EXC Port Planners to find information about each destination.Core Course 103: Selling Groups. This five-part module shows agents why group business is beneficial, and offers suggestions on where to find group business and how to promote and sell groups. It also covers how to sell incentives and charters.Core Course 104: Secrets of Sales Success. The final course wraps up the program with four modules that reveal the top tips, tricks and secrets to selling premium cruises. Agents will gain insight into client-focused selling, and learn how to communicate with their clients to close the sale and how to build client loyalty.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyFor more information email [email protected] << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more