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Thursday, 29 September 2016

What you should know about programming languages


With technology now central to most business processes and as a business owner you might be asking  how do I know that the developers I have engaged is using the programming language that's best for my business? To solve this let's do it in a few bite-sized steps:

What should you ask first?


An early easy check is to just ask the appointed developer if he has done this kind of work before and find out if it was successful. Just check their references and you have to understand that you can't treat all technology you are asking for as a one size fits all solution to work just straight out of the box. Shoes have different sizes and technology also has different fits depending on the specific requirements your business might have. As a result you need to choose a programming language that is flexible and scalable to adapt along with your business needs. This can take a few different versions before it actually gets right.

Are there any specific requirements you need to get from your lead programmer?


First ask what programming language and framework are going to be used and what the thought process is behind that decision. Second ask if they have already checked out third-party libraries for ready made code that can be used off the rack so the programming team isn't spending unnecessary time  to reinvent the wheel when the wheel has already been invented.

Which languages are the safest?



  1. Web apps, use Ruby on Rails
  2. For iPhone apps use Swift or Objective C
  3. For Android use Native Development Kit
  4. For a simple website, go with WordPress
  5. For e-commerce, use WordPress and WooCommerce or Shopify if you are looking for an all-in-one solution (This is a simple web-store that can function perform most tasks well).
Get online and host with a reliable and affordable web host so you can get any of your ideas online and in front of your targeted audience.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Wordpress vs Joomla vs Drupal


Create a website easily is the marketing phrase a lot of companies are calling out on right now. How they do it? CMS or Content Management Systems allowing you to make changes to a website without needing to touch a single line of code. Do you have an intention to get a new powerful website online but can't wait around to invest a good amount of investment into a custom site, then look no more because CMS is here.

WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all offer great features and a ton of customizations, ease, and great security. The best bit is these are free. The big conundrum is then which do you choose from when all of them are free and all have good options and functions to perform certain tasks.

All 3 CMS choices have their different advantages and personally I approach them differently depending on the task I need to complete. Find out how these compare below:

WordPress


The world's most popular content management system. Great for beginners.


  1. Easy to install - many web hosting companies offer instant, automated WordPress installs. That means you can get a brand new website up-and-running in less than five minutes.
  2. Customizable - has more plugins because of its widespread popularity.
  3. Free - Yes no-strings-attached and free to use.
  4. Community support - Have any issues or questions about your new WordPress site tap into the millions of people already using and supporting it.


The biggest drawback is you can't have the ability to make significant visual edits, without the help of a designer and/or a developer.

Drupal


Number two.


  1. Technically advanced - Drupal is for tech people who likes to get their hands dirty.
  2. Improved Performance - Drupal pages load more quickly and faster response time when compared to WordPress or Joomla. This means you might need a powerful server only when you have too many third party plugins bogging down the performance of your site.
  3. Customizable - Drupal is easy to customize with many widely available plug-ins, themes, and other configurable options to choose from.
  4. Free - Like WordPress Drupal is also free.


Drupal is the most powerful CMS out of the box, but you do need to have a basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and other programming languages and being able to trouble shoot error messages and identify code problems will be a massive benefit. You will need to hire technical expertise as your site becomes more complex and this can be a problem as it is typically harder to find someone with deep Drupal knowledge because  of its steep learning curve unlike WordPress programmers. You need to host first before you start on a new Drupal site and this can be a stumbling block for most people.

Joomla


The CMS that is between both WordPress and Drupal.

Powerful enough to run most websites with no problems and doesn't require the same level of technical experience to run as Drupal either.

It's number two behind WordPress as the most used CMS. So there are plenty of available plugins and themes to choose from.

Joomla is a good choice if one of the following is what you want to achieve:


  1. Commerce sites - You can get a store done quickly without much customization work.
  2. Social Networking - You can set up really quickly and easily using Joomla.
  3. Not too technical - Joomla is in the middle between ease and power so its good news to non-tech savvy people.
  4. Help portal - Asking questions and getting technical support.
  5. Free - Just like WordPress and Drupal.


Making your choice.


This can be a tough choice, with a lot of users online that are debating one is better than another. However, it should be noted that each does have benefits that lean more to one side when compared to another. Here are amongst some tips I can give below:


  1. Want to start with a simple website or blog use WordPress.
  2. If your website will grow significantly needing extensive features and unlimited customizations use Drupal.
  3. If you are split between both or need a social network or an eCommerce site, use Joomla.


Don't worry because all three platforms are free, and each offers a variety of helpful third-party tools to add unique features to your website. There is readily available technical support, but Drupal's is among the most expensive.

Once you have chosen which platform to use and leverage on make sure you check out a reliable hosting provider to ensure that your website is always online to reach your target audiences.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

10 Ways to Secure Your Wordpress Website


I've had my website hacked once, and believe me it isn't anyone else should experience. When your website gets hacked you end up spending a good amount of time trying to fix things that you don't necessarily understand. Thankfully the hack wasn't deep it and if it was, that would mean all of the effort that I have previously put into my website going up in smoke in a flash. I learned things the hard way, I had to patch multiple things and change my web host and that did the trick and fixed everything. More on the importance of choosing the right hosting plan later below. I do acknowledge that not everyone is as lucky as me. I've got a friend that had not just his site taken down but his whole domain blacklisted.

I did some research and it seems that WordPress site hacking is much more common than we would like it to be and it is steadily rising. A lot of people, like me, have their sites hacked too. Although I shouldn't sound so enthusiastic over this, but it is a sad fact.

Wait didn't we all ask this one question before:

Why would anyone want to hack my site? It is worth nothing.


I know, I know our site isn't up there in with the stars of the show. But after reading up a bit it seems that a great majority of attacks are automated where hackers (people who hack our websites) create bots (pieces of software) to crawl the online web space and look for vulnerable websites. Why would they do that? It seems that if they are successful the hacked website gets added to their portfolio, so to speak, and used for whatever objectives that they might have.

Wordpress is awesome, and popular, but it does have its problems. So to say WordPress security doesn't happen automatically. Think of it this way, why go after a CMS that nobody really uses. Going after the most popular one makes the most "hacking sense".

This is the beginner's guide. An absolute must just to make sure that bots don't find you too easy to hack.

This you must do:

1. Secure your Admin account


Don't use an obvious login/username for your administrator account like "admin" for example. This is too easy for anyone to guess, instead try "darth-vader" or "king-alexander". You might be wondering right now hey wait a sec, doesn't Wordpress not allow you to change WordPress once installation has been set? Don't worry there is a way around it all you have to do is:

Create a new user account (Users > Add New), then assign the new user an Administrator role;
Delete your original administrator account (also in users) then you are good to go!

2. Use an Editor account for content work


Using your main Administrator account for editing/publishing work can be risky especially if you are using wifi at a cafe or a public space. You should instead work on an Editor account for all content work you do making the login not so obvious. To do this go back again to creating a new user account (Users > Add New), then assign a new user to be an Editor. Now you are good to go!

3. Use secure passwords



  1. Don't use passwords that are easy to guess. 
  2. You can sign up for LastPass (don't worry it's free) and set that ultra secure password as your main password.
  3. Then use LastPass to generate safe passwords for everything going on with your site.


4. Limit login attempts


Password guessing is a big threat. A bot, or human can make multiple attempts at guessing your password combinations until they get it right. They might not succeed in 10-20 attempts but if you are using a semi-complex password the 100,000th attempt can be successful.

5. Secure your own machine 


Securing your website would be pointless if the machine you are using to access the site is compromised. This is a simple solution that most people overlook. Install good anti-virus software and take good care of your computer.

6. Update WordPress regularly


Updating WordPress is one of those things that everyone knows it is important to do, but it still ends up being forgotten. For every change of a new release of WordPress they release a change log, every bug that has been fixed is listed. Look at it as a manual for hackers who want to target older versions of WordPress. The solution is simpler than you would think it is. Just enable auto-updates for your WordPress sites or make an update manually as soon as you see a notification on your dashboard.

7. Update plugins regularly


Updates shouldn't just be on WordPress make sure you repeat the update process for your plugins.

8. Backup.


Backups won't secure your site from being hacked, but it is an absolute necessity in case things do get out of hand. Backups are invaluable. You can restore your site back to normal no matter what bad things might happen.

I use a free plugin WordPress Backup to Dropbox; or you could do it through a more feature-rich solution VaultPress (this costs money).

9. Choose the best web host you can afford.


Cheap hosting can lead to a host of problems. Think of it as renting a computer that has little management on it. This may not be the issue with your site but it can be the server itself that got hacked.

Some quality recommendations:

  1. EVERWORKS
  2. Bluehost


10. Download plugins and themes from known sources


Same old rule with email. Only download email you know rule. Same applies with themes and plugins. Go for the tried and tested reputable offers such as ThemeForest and CodeCanyon. They do a fair bit of reviewing for each new theme and plugin submitted there so you should be fine.

Is this a bit too overwhelming to implement all at once? Don't sweat it. Make sure you update your WordPress it is by far the easiest thing to do.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Simple ECommerce Content Marketing Tips



Ecommerce is gaining momentum in Malaysia these days.

The chances of whatever you are selling is going up against some tough competition. It can feel daunting like David against Goliath. The great thing about it is David won and so can you.

Sure you need traffic that means getting backlinks and getting links to product pages is tough. So you should be excited to know that there is a proven and predictable way to build backlinks, build authority and increase your website traffic. This isn't a buy leads advertisement. This is 100% legit and should increase traffic to your website.

What is it? It's called Ecommerce Content Marketing and it involves a six step sequence of actions you are about to discover below. 

1. Buyer personas

You should start with creating a persona. The chances are that you already have a picture in your mind of who they are. The only thing is you now need to know where they live, what their income, their job, their needs and everything about them to know them better. Don't worry if it isn't 100% accurate but the main idea is to get the ideal so that you know what content you will be creating an most importantly for who.

2. Identify influencers

You can have the best of everything but you won't have anything if no one is interested or pays an attention to you. It is very crucial to develop a valid audience that will keep up with what you have to offerings and eventually become active buyers. There is a slow boring way to build up a slow following but there's a faster way than that.

This involves influencers. People in your niche who are going to help you with the heavy lifting when it comes to promoting your content. There are some common characteristics such as a blog with an engaged audience, an active social media presence, or they operate in the same niche that has the same audience with you but is non-competitive in nature.

One you got that list going you need to start an outreach campaign that could start with simply following them on social media and subscribing to their blogs, commenting on their blogs and interacting with their audience and promoting them whenever possible.

Over time as you get better at creating content and your authority grows so will your confidence grow and you could probably get away with a more direct approach.

3. Content for traffic

Before that there is a fact that in 2012 Google does not endorse websites with little content and questionable linking profiles. You should invest into obtaining backlinks from reputable, high quality, authority sites; but as you should know these don't come easily you gotta earn it.

Example:
  1. List based content - example: top 20 hosting companies in Malaysia.
  2. Side by side comparisons - which is better managed hosting or do-it-yourself hosting.


4. conversion content

Content can get you more than just traffic. There are proven content that work hard at the business end of the funnel where when you have already engaged your visitor they engage your visitor to consider converting to purchase. These content examples include: Buyers guide, How to guides, Product videos, Case studies, etc.

Running an Ecommerce store is tough especially when you live or die through traffic generation. This means you need links and these are not easy to come by. A proven way is to get backlinks and social shares from authority sites.

So what types of content do you like? Are you using any of these types of content already? Please share your experience on what works best for you.

Host your Ecommerce now. Find out how you can - click here.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Tips to Increase ROI with Marketing Analytics


Data is everywhere. Everything from social media followers, to unique visitors through ppc, or organic visitors generated through SEO. It can be overwhelming, but don't get confused about how marketing analytics relates to ROI. All you need to do is set a clear, short and long-term objectives to surely start the beginning of profit improvement and well planned resource allocation.

Often ROI underperforms due to distractions in the expected performance. The solution? Recognize the distractions and execute differently.

1. Start by Planning


Plan for ROI. Value exists in quantifying the expected outcomes from the marketing activities you are about to enter into. Learn what to measure, when to measure, and how to measure them so that your marketing investments make quantifiable logic. In order to achieve your goals, make sure you establish specific steps to ensure that the processes that you are embarking on has clarity wrapped around the actions you are going to take.

There is a great desire for every campaign to be measured but only very few are able to effectively evaluate the ROI of each channel employed, and only half are using web analytics tools to measure marketing campaign effectively.

Start by creating an initial outline. Look at historical data (if none, don't fret just start) and notice if there are any trends that work parallel with campaigns carried out or outliers that occur when no marketing activity has been carried out. Make sure there is an implementation plan to install analytics into your existing plan. Without it you will have no capability to measure the results of your campaigns effectively.

Once you have both your initial outline and web analytics implementation plan in place you should come to realize that measuring ROI is a lot easier when you have a good plan in place. Preparing this has benefits as it relates to senior management in terms of marketing dollars and gives them a good expectation based on the objectives you have outlined allowing them to identify the anticipated ROI.

Make sure you keep in mind to:

  1. Align your marketing plans and analytics with financial goals your organization has.
  2. Use predictive modeling in the analysis of your marketing data.
  3. Make sure to capture customer engagement data from social feeds to show positive conversions.

2. Don't use vanity measures


Distractions are always nice to have, but you shouldn't tempt yourself with them. Followers, likes and number of shares gives good bragging rights but they do not correlate to conversions or revenues. You should focus on metrics that convert. This in turn equates to ROI. Use metrics like lifetime value, blog shares, cost per acquisition, engagement, and number of active users. 

Mentioned before there is a wealth of data available but it is important that you collect the right data. This saves you time and allows you to make better decisions. This helps you to: 
  1. create better customized reports with the data that matters to your company, 
  2. consistently track your customers behavior, 
  3. and analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns with better accuracy.

3. Sales


Your customers aren't like before, customers today are informed buyers. They make purchases based on blogs, reviews and social networks. Good news. Now with the efforts above you should be able to gain a wealth of information on your customers' behaviors. There is a value to knowing that information but your team and senior management can't relate. Why? Simple, because all that data isn't in the form of revenue.

Bring it all back to where we started. Get your team and senior management on the bandwagon. Your marketing campaigns that produce quantifiable ROI should suggest that everyone should focus on how marketing impacts sales not spend that is not measurable in terms of revenue.

Use data to increase sales by:

  1. Use analytics
  2. Understanding the journey of the customer
  3. Creating a ROI discussion throughout the organization not just marketing and sales.

Data is really important to organizations today. Focus on your marketing ROI and don't let pesky technological infrastructure bog you down. Find out how - click here.