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5 Must-Have Tools for Every Startup

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5 Must-Have Tools for Every Startup

Let’s face it – you are struggling to get your startup on track but failing to manage everything on your own. Well, you surely don’t have enough budget and investors to assemble a top-tier marketing team, nor do you have enough time to learn the basics of everything and become jack-of-all-trades.

In fact, the age of “if you build it, they will come” strategy is long gone and is never going to provide you the same exposure that it did in the past. However, making use of some tools will get you started on the right track and give you enough pace to kick-start your profitable business in no time.

Check out these 5 must-have tools for every startups.

1. Content Marketing Tools

It has been reported that 58% eight percent of B2B marketers increased their budget for content marketing in 2015. Content marketing tools are considered as the backbone of most online businesses today as they help in creating, distributing, and measuring effectiveness of their contents. Here are a few content marketing tools that can be useful:

Google Analytics – Google’s analytics tool makes it easy to customize reports, measure the impact of social media and mobile on website traffic.
Alexa – Though this tool is currently neglected by many, it provides data and global rankings for commercial websites and their effectiveness on the web.
SEMRush – This tool helps to track keywords and rankings, both paid and organic.
Moz – This platform can be used to monitor social media, manage SEO campaigns, and measure different online metrics.

2. Social Media Marketing Tools

Social media is considered the future of online marketing and As a startup you need word-of-mouth, and you need to start promoting you or your brand on social media starting on day 1. While there are several social media platforms available, using them one at a time might be time-consuming and boring. There’s no need to worry as social media marketing tools are there to back you up. From creating, curating, managing, scheduling and analyzing, these tools will empower your brand to capitalize the market. Here are a few that might be helpful for you:

Buffer– From creating a posting schedule to different social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and G+ pages, Buffer is an all-in-one social media marketing tool.
IFTTT– Another all-in-one tool that has recipes for your social media needs, IFTTT lets you post, read and do all sort of things with almost all social media platforms available.
Social Rank– This tool helps you to identify, organize and manage your followers and potential customers on different social media platforms.

3. Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing is probably the oldest and still one of the best ways that are proven, effective and important for any kind of businesses and startups. No matter what comes in and goes in the world of digital marketing, email marketing is what will exist forever and will always remain crucial to grab success. Here are a few email marketing tools you need to use:

MailChimp– An ESP tool that has both free and paid plans, you get some pretty useful and powerful features with MailChimp.
The Hemingway App–  Want to make you copywriting clear and conversational? This is what the tool will help you with; optimize emails.

4. Project & Employee Management Tools

Most startups and small businesses do not care much about using project and employee management tools as they handle a small number of projects and work in small groups. But, if they are to grow big eventually, they need to have the know-how of handling bigger projects and large employee and clients’ base.

Pingboard‘s CEO Bill Boebel says: “We found that most of our customers were still managing their org chart in PowerPoint or Visio — even with several hundred employees. These documents are time-consuming to maintain, difficult to share and often become out-of-date shortly after they are created. And quite frankly, org charts made this way are ugly.”

Here are a few easy-to-use and useful tools:

Org chart software– This tool helps to create and structure the members, their relationships, and relative ranks according to their positions and jobs
Basecamp– From managing projects, groups and client works, Basecamp is an all-in-one tool to manage everything at one place.
Trello– Another project management tool to give you the perspective over all of your projects, Trello makes collaboration with employees and clients easy.

5. SEO Tools

If you or your company needs to gain quick attention and visibility online, search engines need to be your top priority. From gaining leads, making sales and making an impact through online visibility, SEO is what every startup need to focus on first. Here are a few SEO tools to track and maintain the online presence:

Ahrefs– From link profile data to content referral information, Ahrefs does everything you need to track you and your competitors.
Schema Creator– Addition of schema or microdata can increase search engine visibility and Schema Creator is what does it in minutes to your website or blogs.
MozBar-It lets you perform a range of SEO tasks from your browser, including keyword ranking data analysis, schema validation, and SEO metric reporting.

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Web Design tips: optimizing digital experiences for human behavior

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Web Design tips: optimizing digital experiences for human behavior

For User Experience Design That Delights, Put People First

In a world saturated with web and mobile apps, great user experience (UX) design remains scarce. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, optimizing digital experiences for human behavior is always a challenge.

As entrepreneurs or designers, it can be easy to fall into the trap of putting process over people. Designing in a black box, obsessively working to add functionalities or developing features without anchoring every decision to the needs of users are all common issues that come with this strategy. This tunnel vision often stems from having no clear product vision, too many stakeholders, or intense pressure to meet release deadlines.

To design products that solve problems instead of creating them, entrepreneurs and UX designers should keep a few tips top of mind.

Get Feedback First

Through a project’s life cycle, user experience designers need feedback from the people the product is meant to help. Surveys and market research will only go so far. You need to recruit and interview actual target users.

When you’re ready to build something, start with a prototype. This can be anything tangible that conveys the big idea behind your product. Tools like Invision and Proto.io let you create demos and get immediate audience feedback. Once you have a prototype, let users break it. Observe them testing out features. Ask questions. When they encounter a problem, you’ll know immediately, and you’ll be able to work on resolving it.

Don’t make assumptions about a user’s needs. Verify that the pain points your product addresses actually exist. When adding new features, confirm that these match up with people’s needs. Pushing out a bunch of notifications, for instance, may align with your business objectives, but those alerts might annoy users.

Plan Perfectly

Begin every project with the end in mind. Create a plan to get your product to market fast, and prioritize requirements, understanding that done is better than perfect. Make sure you have a launch plan. Know who your first users will be, and make it easy for them to share your product with your next wave of users.

Have a positioning plan. Understanding what differentiates your product can be a difference maker, and focusing on those elements during the design phase will lead to success.

Plan for your platform. If your goal is to release an app on Android and iOS, don’t expect the two versions to be identical. Think about the requirements of each operating system. Otherwise, you’ll have an app that probably doesn’t align with user expectations. As you plan, know when enough is enough. Cramming in additional features complicates the experience and can result in information overload for users, placing you back in the black box you’re climbing out of.

Develop a Product Persona

If your product were a person, whom would it resemble? Brainstorm the qualities your product would have, and make sure any product copy or messaging aligns with that persona. You’ll need to define a clear voice for your product to help users connect to it in a way that surprises and delights.

In many cases, your product is your brand. The way you talk about it should be consistent, both internally and externally. Your company may end up becoming like your product persona. That’s a good thing.

Great Design Keeps Moving

Accept that the first product won’t be perfect. In fact, it may never be perfect. That’s OK — design is iterative. Look forward to continuously improving on the basis of user feedback, and always be testing.

There’s no one formula for great user experience, but these best practices place people first, setting up your product for success. With design in mind, you’ll build an app people look forward to using.

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Five Motivational Tips for Launching a Startup in 2017

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Five Motivational Tips for Launching a Startup in 2017

Launching a startup is tricky business. There are few detailed roadmaps for how to do it successfully and most of the time it comes down to a good idea, a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. Not all startups are created equal.

But it’s not all just walking blindly in the dark without a guide. There are some things you can do and not do when launching a startup in 2017. Here is a list of five things to consider:

1. Just do it
As the part time philosopher and famous shoemaker once said – just do it. Begin. Whatever doubts you have, stop. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly from the beginning, or about making mistakes – you’re going to – so simply push them aside, don’t let them get in your way. Nothing comes from nothing. Register the domain. Write some code. Get your logo designed. Your willpower is an incredible asset – it’s like a force of nature.

So do it. Now. Just start. Why not?

2. Singular brand focus
Branding is crucial for any new business. You are your brand, and if it’s unclear to you what you are and who you are, then it will be unclear for everyone else too. Valentin Stalf, co-founder of the online-only bank N26, discusses their strategy here.

Essentially, they decided to build a mobile-first app, an app built with great design as the guiding principle. Rather than building something purely functional, and later asking the user to learn how to use their app because it has some potentially good features they might want to use, they built an app that people want to use – that people understand how to use right away. There was nothing accidental about it, their focus when developing the app was solely on making it a good experience for the end user and so far it’s succeeding for them.

What is your focus? What will you do that nobody else has thought of yet? What will you do that’s better than what’s currently available.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn coined the phrase (and later wrote a book about it) “live life in permanent beta.” This is an important message as it conveys one of the struggles encountered in every startup. It’s easy to become confident when things are going well, and it’s easy to find yourself looking internally rather than externally for answers to questions that arise.

You’re not going to know everything. Sometimes you’ll need the advice of experts. Just remember that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask questions, it’s a sign of strength – of knowing your limits. Just as it’s equally important to remember that there is no finish line. Your product will never be done. Keep working and keep asking questions.

Live your life in permanent beta.

4. Find funding from the right investors
It’s important to surround yourself with people who share your vision. This applies to employees and investors alike. It’s critical that your investors understand what it is you’re trying to achieve with the business, that they understand and trust your decisions even if the path forward isn’t always clear.

There are a few great options online to help you get started with finding the right people. Kabbage is one of the best options out there right now. It takes moments to apply and review your business performance. There are many options out there from companies like Square, with Square Capital or Fundbox. There have never been so many options available, and it’s key to get this partnership right if you want to grow your business the way you want.

5. Don’t lose your great company name
Registering your business name online is a snap with a multitude of online business registration sites. There’s no doubt that you should register your business name as soon as you know what it is, and it’s never been easier to do so.

Beyond losing your name to someone else, in most states, it’s the law. The exception to this is if you’re a sole proprietor or freelancer using your own name to conduct your business. John Doe, the freelance carpenter, doesn’t need to register if the business is solely in his name. Otherwise, it’s the law, as the public needs to know who is running the company.

With any online services, it’s easy to do. So don’t wait! Register your business today, and in 2017 you have one less thing to worry about on your path to conquering the world of business.

As 2017 is right around the corner, now is the time to get started with your company today! With a new administration coming, it’s a great chance to kick off your new idea!

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Web design so basic, yet many times overlooked….

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Web design so basic, yet many times overlooked….

web design tips so basic, many sites overlook the impact to their audience

#1: An Attention-Grabbing Headline. 

The first thing people see when they visit your site should be a compelling headline that describes the most important benefit your product or service offers. The headline is the key element of your site. It's what will persuade visitors to stick around and check out what you have to offer.

Essential Element: Your headline should be well-written: It should be clear, concise and to the point. It should also be enticing-you want to pique your visitors' interest and make them eager to learn more about what you're selling. You can do this by emphasizing what your product or service can do for them.

Once you've crafted a compelling headline, format it so that it stands out from the rest of the text. It should be the first thing that catches your visitors' attention. Use a large font size, bolding, italics, a different color-whatever suits the style of your site.

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