The 5 Logistical Benefits of Working with an IT Staffing Company

Hiring a new employee is a large task for any company, and hiring for the IT department poses an even greater challenge. Right now, information technology professionals are in high demand, yet the industry is also vast and nuanced combining both the need for refined match-making and extreme hiring competition. The effort of hiring in this environment is enough to see why many brands are choosing to work with a specialized staffing company instead.

An IT staffing company has the ability to understand, reach, and network technically skilled professionals and connect businesses with the right pros for each task at hand. IT staffing companies can provide temporary dedicated IT teams or help you find permanent IT staff who are expertly matched to your needs and company culture. Let’s take a closer look at the logistic, financial, and gap-bridging benefits of working with a staffing company to source your IT talent.

Skip the IT “War for Talent” Competition

IT is among the most highly contested talent pools on the market. Every business needs more computer, cloud, and security infrastructure, and the need has outgrown the supply. This has made marketing for IT talent into a typical representation of the “war for talent” environment with high competition between employers on job boards and through recruiters.

An IT staffing company, however, provides a more stable and manicured marketplace of technical talent that regularly take contract work or are looking for their next long-term role. Companies that hire IT through a staffing company can skip the “war for talent” and more reliably find the technical staff they need, when they need it, without months of job marketing.

Save Time and Money on Job Marketing and Vetting

Speaking of job marketing, a staffing company has the unique ability to save you the time and budget of the whole hiring process. Marketing your roles on job boards, vetting initial applicants, and handling the first few rounds of interviews all happen “off stage” from the business’ perspective, as a staffing company has their own process for sourcing talent and match-making.

Instead of the rigorous job marketing and candidate filtration process, businesses can send their request to the staffing team and receive a prepared shortlist ready to assess for specific project and team needs. This allows your IT or HR department to refocus those funds and the time that would be spent toward more productive measures.

Hire Skilled IT Without an IT Hiring Manager On-Staff

One of the greatest challenges in IT hiring is that you need an experienced IT manager to hire a good IT team member. Naturally, the interviewing manager must be able to spot people who know their stuff vs those who can parrot keywords. If skill-based assessments are used, someone on the hiring team should understand the skills and assessments involved. This can make it difficult for small business teams to hire their first IT pro. Who will interview them?

The answer is your staffing company. An IT staffing company has experienced technical professionals ready to assess IT candidates on a wide range of skills and specialties. This makes it possible for your business to hire a skilled, capable, and vetted new IT staff member without the on-staff experience to vet their technical skills. You don’t have to guess which IT candidate is the genuine article, because every candidate we send to you will be someone who has already proven their know-how to an experienced IT hiring manager. Your role in the interview process is to determine which of your short-list candidates are the right fit for your team.

Flexible Short-Term and Long-Term IT Team Members

Staffing companies also offer the benefit of flexibility.  Many businesses need a differing size of IT room depending on the season and projects at hand. An IT staffing company can help you with both temporary and long-term technical team building. Should you need a contractor or team for the duration of a project, we can arrange that and ensure each IT pro is ready for the contract’s end. Short-term team members can come in to help with the aftermath of a single emergency or the ongoing needs of a single large-account client.

Should you need medium-term IT professionals for the duration of an ongoing contract or until one very lone project is done, an IT staffing company can find you dedicated technicians to work on each item with an agreed-upon schedule. You can even book contractors in perpetuity if you need the steady part-time services of an IT professional for certain operations. If your ranks swell and shrink with the seasons, your staffing team can help you meet that need, as well.

Match-Making for Permanent IT Staff

Of course, if you’re looking for a permanent IT administrator to add to your ranks, you can also rely on your IT staffing company for a permanent recommendation. Permanent placements are IT professionals who are also looking for a long-term arrangement and hope that your initial encounter will turn into a permanent and full-time job offer.

Match-making is an essential role for a staffing company because it is what enables both businesses and talent to skip the hectic hubbub of the job boards. Many of the IT professionals accessible through a staffing company are not officially job-seeking – they are getting their roles from the company – opening up a new job pool for long-term hires that could be the perfect fit for your needs and team culture.

Staffing Your IT Team with the Provato Group

Here at the Provato Group, we are passionate about helping both professionals and businesses find the right match for every role. We have cultivated a ready network of technical professionals looking for opportunities to build their skills and find jobs they love. Let us select a short list of IT talent to accelerate and streamline your technical hiring.

To explore the possibilities of short-term and long-term IT staffing with the help of the Provato Group staffing company, contact us today. We look forward to matchmaking your roles with the right IT professionals for every occasion.

A Quick Guide to Networking with Recruiters on LinkedIn

There’s a reason why LinkedIn is the best place to connect with recruiters: it is the largest and most popular professional network. It also links recruiters and prospects, simplifying your job search and making it easy for suitable organizations to notice you.

The beauty of networking on LinkedIn is that it connects you directly with recruiters and gives you straightforward contact channels with them. This then allows you to have in-depth information on the job, company information, the position’s qualifications, and expectations that are not in the job advertisement.

Studies show that approximately 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find prospective candidates. While this is significant, it’s often challenging to connect with hiring managers effectively. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how and why you should network with recruiters on LinkedIn. Let’s dive in!

Why Should You Network on LinkedIn?

The most significant advantage of LinkedIn networks is the magnitude of impact that they can have on your career. For starters, talking to recruiters through this platform gives you a prime opportunity to showcase your passion for your career.

Investing in these relationships early on in your career will definitely pay off. This is because connecting and communicating with an array of recruiters not only allows you to stay on top of the job market but also gives you an opportunity to have in-depth knowledge of the trends in your field of expertise that most people don’t meet.

Additionally, the connections you make with recruiters give you access to various career development resources. And the truth is, having a source to recommend you for job opportunities can do wonders for your career.

Please note that networking with recruiters is not all about your career. Building a supportive network is beneficial not only to your job but also to your mental health. Ultimately, simply talking to others who understand your situation can go a long way. Yes, it can take a long time to build your network, but networking on LinkedIn is also beneficial to a person’s life beyond their employment.

How should you Network with Recruiters?

So how do you make the first move when networking on LinkedIn with potential recruiters? The truth is that it’s often difficult to land your ideal job. As such, it is important that you get noticed by recruiters to increase your chances of success.

What most candidates don’t realize is that sending blind connection requests to recruiters on LinkedIn isn’t the only way to network with them. There are other ways to ensure that your networking efforts have the impact you intend.

Below are some tips to help you with your networking on LinkedIn:

1. Invest in Your Profile

First impressions last, and networking on LinkedIn all starts with your profile. Having a plain profile doesn’t cut it anymore. It has to be unique. Keep in mind that getting noticed by the recruiter is the most crucial step to landing the job.

For the best chances, your profile should be:

  • Straightforward: Your professional experience, accomplishments, and education should all be highlighted in your profile, including a list of your professional skills, both general and industry-specific. Recruiters will use this in locating you in their searches for opportunities you might be qualified for.
  • Professional: Your profile should show your professionalism in your career. Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes as they could cost you dearly. Any unnecessary information on your profile will most likely put you off with most recruiters.
  • Content: Incorporate rich keywords into your profile bio. This makes you stand out from other job applicants and will push your profile to the top of searches. The keywords keep your profile more noticeable.

2. Research Recruiters

All recruiters are not the same. Therefore, you have to do your due diligence. When you’re looking for a new job, a recruiter’s promise of promotion can easily be tempting, but you should be wary of engaging with just any recruiter on LinkedIn.

Consider your specialization, the role you believe you would be best suited for, and how you may assist a specific company or agency. Recruiters who work in your primary industry will thoroughly understand what you’re looking for and be able to match you with appropriate job opportunities.

3. Make Connections

When your profile is all set, and you feel ready, take the plunge and start making connections. Recruiters will always favor the job applicants who reach out first, as this saves them the hassle of looking for candidates. That way, it is easy for them to fill the position faster.

The good news is that making connections on LinkedIn is easy. Here’s how:

  • Connection Requests: Introduce yourself to the recruiter with the easy 300-word connection request.
  • Personalized Messages: The key is to get noticed. Mention anything you have in common, that you’d like to learn more about their field of work, and that you’d like to connect. Maintain a straightforward approach. You don’t want to overburden the recruiter, who is likely preoccupied with other matters.
  • Share your Network: Working with recruiters is a two-way street. They are more likely to assist you in return if you assist them. So, consider how you can make their work and lives easier. Make recommendations to them for people whom you think are best suited for a job opening.

4. Keep Contact

Once you’ve made contact, send a follow-up note thanking them for their time and mention that the job advertisement piqued your interest. Ask them what they look for in a candidate for this role. This is a courteous approach to expressing your interest in the position while gently requesting feedback.

The idea of networking is about establishing strong working relationships. You may not get what you want but don’t stop there. Even if they don’t respond positively to your job application, attempt to keep in touch by liking, sharing, or commenting on their posts.

Make the Most of Your Linkedin Networks!

Job hunting is a tedious and frustrating process, especially when you’re in a competitive field. You should, however, refrain from quitting if you don’t receive the results you want right away, as it takes time and effort to create relationships. It is also important to manage your expectations. Your passion and perseverance will undoubtedly leave an impression. 

Looking to leverage your Linkedin profile for career growth? Contact us for more information on how you can improve your chances with potential recruiters.

A Short History of Cloud Computing and Its Future

We use cloud computing on a daily basis and think nothing of it. Opening a thin client on our smartphone we instantly access the cloud when saving the document we created or opened. In fact, the process of saving happens automatically, too.

In the Beginning DARPA Created the Internet

Most of us alive and using computers or smartphones today grew up with computers and smartphones. The older people using these devices recall their invention or popularization – all ultimately stemming from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project called ARPANET in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Personal Computer Revolutionized Individual Development

While computers took decades to go from the mainframes of that glutted businesses and research universities beginning in the 1950s, once the personal computer hit the shelves in the late 1970s, technology leaped ahead quickly. Many companies flooded the market with their version of the personal computer. You could choose from the Micral C (1977), TRS-80 (1977), or Commodore PET (1977), soon followed by the IBM Personal Computer 5150 in 1981 and IBM’s Personal Computer 5150 in 1981. The easier-to-use Macintosh computer entered the fray in 1984.

Berners-Lee Creates the World Wide Web from the Internet

It took only 12 years from the introduction of the personal computer for the invention of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee to occur. While DARPA’s packet-sharing idea lets researchers around the world communicate and share data, Berners-Lee worked to bring the utility of ARPANET to the masses. His WWW let any individual or organization with server space create a web page.

This revolutionary idea spawned businesses and special interest pages. The browser wars ensued with Netscape duking it out with Mosaic, Internet Explorer, and Lynx, the latter a text-only browser that only individuals with very slow connections used. We’re talking a 2400 baud modem because no one conceived of 5G or broadband at the time.

Businesses and Entrepreneurs Flood the WWW

The WWW quickly welcomed businesses, including unique notions like eBay (1995) and Amazon (1994). Both companies allowed an individual to create a listing to sell an item or items via the larger platform but under their own personal or business name. Both eBay and Amazon offered their own built-in shopping cart and a systematic point-and-click mechanism for creating listings. This qualifies both as the first service platforms. They enabled the birth of the entrepreneur in all of us and inspired the creation of platforms like TheRealReal, thredUP, Poshmark, and many others. Etsy comes from this idea, as does Shopify.

1999 Gives Birth to the First SaaS App

While most of us think of cloud computing as personal computing, the first cloud services served businesses and those individuals wanting to enter sales on a personal basis. Even the first credited cloud app, Salesforce, serves businesses.

With respect to personal or home computing, the cloud app revolution began with sites like GeoCities and AOL offering up free server space so people could create websites on any topic. Some people realized that they could upload any file to their server space, then access it at a friend’s home from their computer.

Another trick – emailing it to yourself or creating a draft with an attachment – went on for years. You could purchase space, too, from CompuServe, AOL, and eventually GeoCities, or obtain a free Yahoo email address that let you store your email online. We didn’t call it “in the cloud” at that time, but that’s what we call it today.

21st SaaS Offers Mobile Solutions

Around 2006 to 2007 an upstart called Google offered free email to compete with Hotmail and Yahoo. It also offered a unique app called Docs, which still exists. Traversing to the Google Docs website, the user can log into a word processing app that works similar to Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect. The popularity of Docs spawned online versions of spreadsheets programs, databases, drawing programs, and more. Competitors, such as Zoho (1996), had existed for longer, but Google used better marketing and offered an easier-to-use interface.

SaaS and Its -aaS Siblings Become Ubiquitous

Suddenly, it seemed, every business made an app and offered “a cloud solution.” True cloud solutions though require more than an app. They allow you to save your work in an online space you can access from anywhere. Most of us use a cloud app each day, perhaps without realizing it.

We open a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs from a computer and it instantly connects to the cloud space connected to the account. While we once felt awed at the gift of a few free KBs of storage, companies now dole out 15 MG to a gigabyte (GB) without thinking about it. Since we can purchase a physical terabyte drive in a store or its virtual representation for less than $100, we’ve beat what many once termed “the storage problem.” Cloud computing lets us store what we need in an accessible anywhere mode.

According to DevSquad, 94 percent of technical professionals use cloud software as a service (SaaS). That shouldn’t surprise anyone. You expect computer gurus to use the latest and greatest inventions. Look at the top 75 SaaS apps as ranked by Datamation though and you learn that the most popular app falls into the marketing industry – Salesforce. One of the original SaaS apps still tops the list, followed by Microsoft Office 365, an app used for both personal and business use. Embracing personal creativity hits the list at number three with Adobe Creative Cloud because you have to edit selfies sometimes. Business use cases abound with the top five rounded out with FreshBooks accounting SaaS and Paychex, a payroll and human resources cloud app.

The ‘as a Service’ Revolution Continues

Today, cloud computing provides the online app plus a thin client that takes up only a few megabytes on our smartphone or mobile device. Those old enough to have installed a program from a collection of floppy disks or even a CD-ROM appreciate the simplicity of the cloud. It turned what once required a veritable computer genius into something children learn in pre-school. Most of us can and do use the cloud every day when we access SaaS. Even if we don’t use its more advanced forms, such as platform as a service (PaaS), Framework as a Service (FaaS), Operations as a Service (OaaS), or any of the other more than 20 and growing “as a Service” options described in the Auvik dictionary. We can appreciate how far computer science has come and its burgeoning future in the Metaverse, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other developing technologies.

7 Best Practices for iOS App Development

Developing a successful iOS application isn’t easy. It requires forethought, planning, and a commitment to quality. Your strategy and approach may vary depending on what kind of app and audience you have, but there are some guidelines you can adhere to no matter what kind of app you’re creating.

Let’s take a closer look at seven best practices for iOS app development.

Do your market research

Before you start coding, it’s important to have done extensive market research. This will help you better understand your customers and the need for your app. Without this important first step, you run the risk of your app failing to resonate, making it more difficult to grow and sustain your user base.

Have the right understanding of who your app is for and what pain points it solves. This will lead to happier users later, along with more frequent adoption and use.

Define your Minimum Viable Product

Yes, you should do your due diligence and perform the necessary research to ensure there’s the right product-market fit for your app. But you’ll also want to deliver value to your customers as quickly as possible.

When you’re starting out, you’ll want to identify a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. This is the application you can offer to a smaller subset of customers with the least amount of features they’d need to derive value out of using it. They can test it and provide valuable feedback on what needs to be fixed.

Your MVP doesn’t represent the final form your app’s going to take. Think of it as an extension of your research efforts. By identifying an MVP and testing it with a small cadre of users, you’ll then be able to better pinpoint any challenges your app may face. You can then fix them without having to do so after you’ve deployed them.

Take your time to ensure your code is on point

When you eventually submit your app to the App Store, you’ll want to be sure it gets through without issues or delay. You may feel pressure to get your app to market as quickly as possible. But taking the time to review your code to ensure it’s high quality solves a lot of problems you’ll run into after release if it’s bad code.

This means having a robust system of quality assurance throughout your organization – whether you’re a one-person shop or a team of developers. Quality code is the backbone of all successful apps.

Look at documentation as a part of the process, not an extra task

Documentation often seems like a bore and a chore. We can view it as an additional task after we’ve completed all the truly critical work that needs to be done.

Don’t fall into this trap! Documentation, at every step of your iOS app development process, is vital for creating a better overall user experience.

For one, documentation helps your users understand what your app is and what it does. Documenting your code is also useful for helping your developers both now and in the future. When improvements or changes need to be made, documentation serves as a source of truth for helping you get back on track.

While you may like your developer team at the moment, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay forever (in fact, your developers are almost certain to change at some point). Having proper documentation helps maintain institutional knowledge between your teams.

If you don’t have additional developers and work on the project yourself, this makes documentation even more important. Don’t let one person (namely: you) become the single point of failure.

Always keep app security at top of mind

App security is another critical component of the iOS app development process. Consider the consequences of releasing an app with faulty security in place. If a malicious actor hacks into your app’s data, they may then be able to hack the data of any device that has used your app. That data could include personally identifiable information (PII) or financial information like credit card numbers or bank statements.

If your customers have their data exposed and stolen, they won’t be happy – and for good reason. Beyond eroding their trust in you as a product or service provider, you may also be exposed to potential legal action.

Sound security practices using features like encryption and multi-factor authentication – help keep your users and their information secure. This requires attention to detail when coding to minimize vulnerabilities. It may take more work and oversight upfront, but it’s much easier (and less costly) than taking shortcuts that lead to bigger headaches later on.

Distribute it via the right channels

Research is important. Correct code is important. Security is important. These are vital steps to make your app a success. But just as critical as these components is your ability to get your app in front of the right people. You do this by distributing it through the right channels.

Don’t overthink this step. When you’re developing an iOS app, the best place to distribute it is via the App Store. Apple has a set of comprehensive guidelines for app developers to follow when submitting their apps. These guidelines cover just about every aspect of app management you can think of, addressing everything from performance to legal concerns.

Review these guidelines before you start creating your application. Ensure that you’re adhering to them at each stage of the development process – through planning, development, and deployment. If you don’t, you may have to fix these issues later. That will take additional time and money, potentially delaying your app’s release or causing you to pause operations.

Optimize backward compatibility

Your iOS application shouldn’t just run on devices or systems built in 2022. Not all of your users are going to be on the most current iPhone or operating system. You’ll want to ensure you can appeal to the broadest number of users possible.

That’s where backward compatibility enters the equation.  Backward compatibility is when an app can run on earlier versions of iOS and Apple devices like the iPhone.

Your ability to optimize this will depend on your app’s specific features and how well they match up with previous iOS versions. In some cases, you may not be able to do this for older versions. But maintaining awareness of earlier versions and being compatible with them when possible will help increase your potential users.

Need assistance navigating your iOS app development? The Provato Group can help. For more on how we can partner with you, contact us today.

A Complete Guide to the Differences Between CRM and CMS

At the core of every modern business, there are two acronyms: CRM and CMS.  These two acronyms are the most often confused or transposed in the whole glossary of digital marketing. The fact of the matter is that every modern business that runs on software and has a website needs both a CRM and a CMS – and to manage them expertly as two separate, integrated systems.

But what exactly are a CRM and a CMS? How do you keep the two acronyms straight and handle both with the ease needed for a growing business? By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to expertly managing both your CRM and your CMS – or ready to make an informed decision on the right software solutions for your business.

What are CRM and CMS? What is the Difference?

Quick Answer: CRM and CMS are both software that your business needs. The CRM, or Customer Relationship Manager keeps track of customers has features for marketing and communication. The CMS or Content Management System is a website engine with features to create pages and manage content.

A business’ CRM and CMS are often integrated to facilitate personalized website experiences, continuous customer service, and digital marketing strategies.

What is a CRM?

  • Customer Relationship Management software
  • Example: Salesforce CRM & HubSpot CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management (software). It is an interactive and self-updating archive of all your leads and customers who have ever engaged with your company. At your core, your CRM is your record of customers, but also contains analytics, marketing automation, and communication software to, eponymously, manage your customer relationships.

What is a CMS?

  • Content Management System
  • Example: WordPress & Squarespace

CMS stands for Content Management System. A CMS is a website engine that is designed to help you build and edit pages. On the back-end, it is run by a database of pages and content, arranged using software themes and HTML code.  Because most of a business website is static, readable pages, a CMS can be used to quickly build everything you need except embedded portals like e-commerce shops or web games – for which there are modules you can plug in. A CMS comes with pre-built themes and structures for your basic “Home”, “About”, “Contact”, and “Blog” business website. Plugins build onto your CMS core to add features that are more than flat content, like shops, user portals, maps, and tools.

The Difference Between a CRM and CMS

A CRM manages a database of customers and details about them. A CMS manages the content of your website.

What You Can Do with a CRM?

Leads, Customers, and Dormant Accounts

At the core of a CRM are the records of your leads and customers. There should be three types of records; Leads that have not yet converted, customers who are active and due to return, and dormant customers who may eventually re-engage. Some brands also have a temporary entry for website touch-points that are not yet data-available leads.

A Customer’s Entire History with the Company

Your CRM will make a customer record as soon as an interaction is registered. Once a customer has a record, every interaction with the company (integrated with the CRM) is recorded. This builds a customer’s entire history with the company and allows you to create a continuous relationship with each customer – and analyze their trends. This can include their browsing, shopping, blog-reading, and customer service contact records.

Communicate with Customer with Automated Record Keeping

Many CRMs include call, chat, text, and now video conference features to reach out to customers directly through the platform. Most can integrate with the leading communication platforms to do the same. When connected through the CRM, every interaction is recorded and can be used or referenced later.

Personalized Marketing and Automation

  • Birthday rewards
  • Personalized deals and offers
  • Personalized email content

Perhaps the most useful thing about modern CRMS is automation of personalized content. Your CRM can help send personalized email campaigns where the names and even the preferences and shopping history of your customers are used to create a greater connection with each customer. Your CRM can send birthday wishes and help your e-commerce engine craft offers uniquely appealing to each customer based on their history.

Analysis Trend Prediction and Optimization

CRMs can also offer analysis of customer trends by processing the data of individual and group history. Your CRM can help predict customer behavior and potentially build a strategy to optimize a customer’s predictable patterns.

What You Can Do with a CMS

Start a Business Website

The core function of a CMS is to build a website and host content pages to be visited and read. With a CMS, you can build any structure of pages. The appearance and layout of the content on each page is determined by your theme, which you can select or build custom. Content includes text, images, and embedded tools like video players and calculators.

Any business can start a website with a complete CMS, and any of the leading CMSs available. If all you need is a few landing pages and service pages, this can be built by any tenacious non-programmer in a single day using a modern CMS.

Build a Homepage and Service Pages

Most CMSs make it easy to build your basic business pages right out of the box. Start with any basic website theme to build a homepage for your website and a navigation bar of service pages. With any WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get, or “Whisywig”) engine, you can visually arrange each page as you build or edit without the need to program.

Manage a Blog and Information Center

The CMS design was built for blogging. A blog is, essentially, a database of page URLs and content, arranged according to a design theme. It’s just a database of HTML and CSS at its core. This makes it easy for anyone today to build a vast blog navigated by menus. Create a more comprehensive knowledge base and navigation menu system and you have a professional information center built from the same pieces.

Fun fact: You can actually build a non-CMS website, then host a CMS inside as a blog portal. In reverse, you can build a CMS website and host other web structures as plugins.

Increase Your SEO Ranking

If your concern is SEO, a CMS is the center of any business’ SEO strategy. You have to have content pages in order to win search results. The more comprehensive service pages and useful blog articles you have, the more page results you can provide to your targeted user searches. In fact, Google ranks pages by performance criteria that are specific to the CMS, like page load speed, the order in which assets (images, text, and embeds) appear on your page, and how well your CMS can be used on mobile devices.

Track Website Analytics

Most modern CMS’ now include (or plugin to include) the ability to track your website analytics. Analytics are essential to quantitative growth for any business. If you want to increase your website traffic or improve conversion funnels, you’ll need the analytics connected through your CMS.

Set Up Admin and User Accounts

Every CMS has admin and user accounts, which can be expanded for both back-end and customer-facing features. Your admin accounts are editors and those allowed to manage the content, while you can often create controlled ranks of user accounts for customer-access permissions and limited staff account permissions.

Expand with Plug-In Website Features

A CMS isn’t truly complete without a full stack of plugins. Cybersecurity, e-commerce, and dashboard analytics are the top three, but you will likely find close to a dozen plugins that your business needs or should try when building your website. Be cautious, most popular CRMs have an unvetted plugin community, so be sure to choose only the most trusted software to plug into your business website.

Integrating Your CRM and CMS | Personalize Your Customer Experience

Now that you know the difference between a CRM and CMS, let’s conclude this exploration with what they can do together.

CMS to CRM

Most businesses start by building their website with a CMS. From there, they create customer accounts where customers can take actions like shop, buy, and earn loyalty points. The CRM, when integrated, tracks these behaviors and records them as an archive of personalized data for each customer. This data can then be used to predict customer behavior, offer personally tempting deals, and personalize email outreach later on.

CRMs can create lead records through your CMS by creating a temporary record for each IP address that explores the website without logging in. If this IP results in a customer account, their pre-account data can even be added to the record – determining the exact moment and original interaction with the brand.

CRM to CMS

Your CRM can also send useful data back to your CMS. Your CRM can tell the website when to greet the customer with birthday wishes and which “product suggestion” panels each customer is most likely to respond to. The CRM can tell the CMS if the customer prefers dark mode, or if their holiday shopping patterns are about to repeat.

What is the Difference Between a CRM and CMS?

The difference between a CRM and CMS is that a CRM manages your customer data while a CMS manages your website pages.

5 Reasons Why Sitefinity is the Right CMS For You

Developing engaging content is a surefire way to reach more customers. But simply writing it isn’t enough. Great content doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Whether it’s the planning process before you’ve developed your content or the distribution process after, your content will require strategic management to ensure it’s performing well and helping you drive more sales.

Because of this, you’ll want to partner with a content management system (CMS) that allows you to get the most out of your content. Your CMS should be feature-laden, delivering value in a way that works for your organization’s specific content needs. It should have the capabilities needed to develop, distribute, and measure the content you pour your heart and soul into creating.

The best CMS you can use is Sitefinity CMS. It’s a comprehensive CMS that works for organizations large and small – no matter what your customization needs are, Sitefinity CMS can help you optimize your content’s performance. Let’s take a closer look at the top five reasons why you should use Sitefinity as your CMS.

Customization

Developing content is about more than simply thinking of a great idea and then executing it. You must be sure that your message is going to the right audience at the right time. Without this knowledge in mind, you run the risk of delivering carefully crafted content to people who aren’t really interested in what you have to offer. Sitefinity’s customization capabilities allow you to find your audience.

Sitefinity’s content development suite includes the ability to customize your content or campaign for the appropriate audience. You can not only develop content directed in the right place, but you can also test it out to optimize its effectiveness. Sitefinity CMS offers sophisticated A/B testing capabilities. You can evolve your content, shifting your focus until you strike a balance that resonates.

When you customize your content, you’ll get more value out of the valuable audience research you’ve conducted. You’ll develop messaging that speaks to your prospects on their level, no matter what demographic they fall under. This is how you increase engagement – with content expertly aimed at the right person.

One of the best ways to evaluate the distinctive components of your audience is through segmentation. Sitefinity gives you the ability to select the categories by which you want to identify your audience. This can be based on their demographic information or on their activity with your website. With the Sitefinity Insight campaigns feature, you can examine your potential customer’s activity and makeup. Once you’ve identified your audience, you can then begin personalizing your site content to best meet each segment’s information needs.

All your customization efforts will be recorded and evaluated by Sitefinity Insight, providing you with valuable insight into what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll find yourself able to continue successful campaigns or pivot from ones that aren’t having the expected impact.

Of course, customization is only effective when you fully understand your customers.

Learn More About Your Ideal Customer

Having insight into your customer and their behavior is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your marketing toolbox. Sitefinity has numerous tools dedicated to helping you better understand your customer. With its automation and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities, Sitefinity helps you establish a holistic view of your customer and their wants, needs, and desires.

You can integrate information and data from other programs (more on this below) to help you build powerful, accurate customer personas. This provides you with an informed background from which to build compelling content. Sitefinity CMS understands that knowledge of your customer is the most powerful knowledge of all and gives you the tools needed to figure them out.

So how can you apply this improved knowledge of your customer and leverage it across platforms?

Integration

You likely use different platforms for a variety of business reasons. You’ll want to align your content with the goals these platforms are supporting. Being able to do this can be the difference between streamlining your content with the rest of your operations and allowing your organization to fall into confusion from a content development perspective. Having multiple tools can leave you reaching for data from disparate locations, hurting your ability to create content that takes these platforms into account.

You won’t have to worry about this with Sitefinity. That’s because Sitefinity has advanced integration capabilities with a variety of platforms that businesses love to use.

If you have an existing customer relationship management (CRM) tool with valuable customer data you need to access, Sitefinity can connect with it.

What about your employee records? If you have internal-facing content to create, having the ability to reach that information might be helpful. Sitefinity can integrate with those types of platforms as well.

There’s no shortage of integration capabilities at your disposal when you partner with Sitefinity. You’ll find that it’s a versatile tool with a seemingly limitless number of integration possibilities. Your marketing staff can get quick access to the data from those platforms while disseminating content from your website to those platforms as well.

Sitefinity encourages digital unity by linking your various platforms to it. Whatever your specific business needs – and whatever your current toolset – Sitefinity can help you manage it without the fear of losing valuable data.

Your need to integrate is only one concern, though. You’ll also want to develop websites that look stunning no matter how your customer is viewing them.

Responsiveness

Your potential customers will likely be accessing your site on several different devices of varying sizes – smartphones, computers, and others. Sitefinity’s responsive design adapts your site to the device its own. You won’t have to worry about how your site appears on one device compared to another because Sitefinity has the flexibility needed to make it look perfect anywhere.

This responsiveness tracks with the platform’s overall theme of simplicity – one that is present within the platform’s operating features.

Easy to Use

No matter what kind of platform you’re looking to use for any purpose, usability is critical. When a platform is difficult to navigate, it makes it harder for your team members every time they log in. They’ll waste time trying to find where content is stored and the specific commands they need. It will be even harder.

With Sitefinity CMS, you’ll never have to worry about your team’s ability to use the system. Sitefinity’s efficient user interface is geared toward simplicity and ease of use. Sitefinity condenses all the tasks you’ll need to develop and distribute content that’s easy for your intended audience to use. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to create content, guide it through production, and send it to the appropriate channels. The simple interface enables you to deliver consistent language and content through whatever device you choose.

The bottom line? Sitefinity CMS is one of the best CMS tools available from both a versatility and capability standpoint. Using it will help your marketing team level up its content for happier customers and better results.

The Top 5 Reasons to Build a Small Business Website with WordPress

In today’s marketplace, every business needs a website. It is the first place your customers go to discover your brand. It may host your online store or represent your brick-and-mortar establishment. The question is how to develop your website. You can commission a hand-built website, hire an onboard developer, or use one of the many quick-and-easy website builder platforms on the market.  For a small business, it can be tough to know which is the right route to a high-quality website that your team can maintain.

A small business needs a website that runs like a machine. You need easy updates to content like blog posts and service pages so your team can manage the website without a specialist. You also need your website to meet the necessary security and performance requirements to compete for SEO and SERP ranking. Why do engines and colleagues keep suggesting a WordPress website? Aside from sourcing around 1/3 of websites on the internet, WordPress offers a toolkit approach to website building that is uniquely useful to small business priorities.

Why do we recommend WordPress to small businesses in need of a new website? Here are our top five reasons to make small business WordPress website.

1) All the Tools You Need are Available

WordPress starts with a basic website framework that you can build onto with “plugins”. It is a module and toolkit system for building websites one feature-set at a time.

You can get a homepage up almost instantly on a properly configured server with many free themes that provide the basis “Home”, “About, “Contact”, “Blog” site map structure. From there, you can add modules for a web-store, security, store locator, booking calendar, or online menu and delivery tracking system. Customer accounts, security, and performance modules are considered essential but you can choose the package and pricing that works best for you.

Everything you need to build a WordPress website of business quality is available and affordable for the website in a plug-and-play experience. This makes it easy for small businesses to quickly construct the features they need for a modern and high-performing website that suits their business model.

2) Quick-Build Themes and Infinite Customization

WordPress makes it extremely easy to get started. If you need the basic structure of a beautifully branded, high-performance website, you can get one up in one or two days depending on your ready assets. With the right plugins, most small business models can put together a WordPress website that does everything you need it to for engaging leads, selling to customers, booking, and providing platform services for logged-in accounts.

The right theme and plugins can get you started very quickly – with easy slots in the design for your website colors and brand assets. At the same time, WordPress is also built by code and therefore extremely customizable. You can have a unique theme (your entire website structure and style) developed by a programmer, with an all-in-one approach or your own custom plugins as well. WordPress is as flexible as a hand-built website, but extremely easy to piece together quickly out of existing elements triest, tested, and 5-star rated on the market right now.

3) Vast Network of Users and Developers

WordPress is not an island. Your support network of users and developers is vast. If you have a common-use question or even an elusive error message, there are literally millions of other people using WordPress who may have the answer. If you want guidance on an existing plugin or to commission a unique feature, there is a developer with the right experience for the job. You can hire onboard WordPress experts, outsource to WordPress developer shops, hire WordPress specialized marketing, content, and community managers, and ask the greater community for tips.

You are never stranded when working with WordPress because of the vast network of other WordPress users and programmers found through the marketplace, job market, and community.

4) No-Code Website Management and Content Updates

WordPress has played a major role in the WYSIWYG movement to low-code and no-code platform management. “What You See is What You Get” or “whisywig” conversationally is an engine built to help you design web pages and edit your content without delving into HTML, Javascript, and other bracket-based coding languages.

Instead, you can use a visual interface that allows you to arrange page elements and enter content without knowing the difference between a and a. The WordPress WYSIWYG editor (Gutenberg Editor) is a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to build pages and templates from your existing brand assets. For a small business team, this is an incredible time and money saver because you can quickly produce regular content without the daily need for a web code specialist.

5) The Structure is Familiar and Easy for Customers

Last and never to be underestimated; customers are familiar with WordPress sites. Even with very unique themes, the basic structural elements are all there. Customers know they can find the big pages in the header and site map links in the footer. They understand how to navigate a WordPress blog and – whether they realize it or not – customers are familiar with the most-used eCommerce web store platforms.

This will make your site approachable and easy to use. It will feel natural and intuitive to navigate your WordPress website which reduces friction and improves your overall conversion funnel. With a pro to help you smoothly connect all the modules for a high-performance website experience, your customers will naturally flow from intake to conversion without the need for guidance because, without realizing it, they already know the way.

Small businesses make every decision based on a balance of efficiency, quality, and performance. WordPress meets that criteria by offering both easy-to-construct websites for any business model and ultimate customizability if you want to take more detailed control. For more information about WordPress websites for small businesses or to commission a professionally configured and branded website tailored to your business needs, contact us today.

How SEO Works and Why You Should Work It

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Such a simple phrase has completely taken over the business world of today. Trends in business are now trends in search engine algorithms. When Google updates its priorities, the entire world jumps to meet the new standards. Of course, this should come as no surprise in a world where a business missing from Google Maps might as well not exist. When customers look up their plans online before going out, a business without a web presence – one that cannot be found by search engines – is practically invisible. No matter how big your roadside sign may be.

So, just what is SEO? Why does it matter? Because SEO works when you work it. If you want that sweet internet “foot” traffic; if you want just-in-time blog answers and customers who find your brand right before they purchase or pick up the phone, SEO is the only way to achieve it.

Let’s dive into the details.

The Basics: SEO is How Search Engines Find Your Website

The simplest answer to “What is SEO” is that SEO is how search engines find your website – and how customers find you through the search engines. Your SEO is how well the phrases and words in your content match the purpose of your website. A simple and clear choice of words can make a bigger difference in your initial SEO efforts than weeks of website building.

For customers to find your website via a search engine, first the search engine has to connect what your page offers to what the customer wants. Search engine optimization is how businesses clearly indicate the value each page offers customers. This can mean a clear, descriptive page title, opening your content with a summary blurb, and clearly stating your points and tips on each page. SEO has reduced the number of really cleverly named web pages, but increased our ability to find and be found at the moment of need – or greatest curiosity.

Inbound vs Outbound: SEO is the Core of Inbound Marketing Strategy

You often hear about inbound marketing and SEO in the same breath, but what does that mean? Inbound and Outbound are two different types of marketing. Outbound marketing pushes information at the customer. Billboards, TV commercials, and even mailers are all outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is when the customer comes to you.

SEO makes that possible by providing your relevant pages when the customer makes a search. The customer asks the search engine for tips on repairing a sink drain. Your page just so happens to be titled “How to repair a sink drain in 5 easy steps” and this is exactly what the customer wants to see. They click and follow the link – inward – to your website. Inbound marketing is providing what customers need, when they need it, and letting the customers come to you.

As you can see, SEO is at the heart of inbound marketing in the digital age. We all appreciate businesses that cultivate an interesting and useful blog instead of investing their ad-spend in flashing web banners from the 90s and 00s.  SEO allows you to finely tune the content of each page so that customers can find the information or entertainment they seek when and where they want it most. This way, your brand can be that just-in-time expert – every time.

The Evolving Principles of SEO Strategy

  1. Getting the Attention of Web Crawlers
  2. Hacking the Backlinks
  3. Getting Ranks and Clicks
  4. Content Value and Reader Experience

Did you know that the core principles of SEO have been evolving for the last 20 years? In the 00s, SEO was all about manipulating web crawlers with keyword stuffing and backlink lists. Needless to say, Google has since blacklisted pretty much all of the original SEO tactics and put a new focus for the most-likely-to-succeed SEO strategies: Customer experience.

Today, trying to game the system on a technical level only works through proper website configuration and accessibility features. Beyond this, your best choice of SEO strategy that is likely to succeed through several algorithm updates is a focus on customer experience. Smoother and faster page loads, more interesting and relevant information, authority data sources, mobile performance, and integrated multimedia are now the name of the game.

Writing organically is more likely to hit your keyword targets than stuffing a specific word or phrase. Writing clearly and with easily-skimmed points is more likely to get readership and reduce bounce rate – which are also now calculated SEO elements.

SEO Copywriting vs SEO Marketing (SEM)

Often, there is some confusion about the difference between SEO – the overall strategy of search engine ranking – and SEO copywriting – the act of honing written words for keyword density and clear messages. They are both typically referred to as “SEO” but one is the total marketing strategy and one specifically relates to written content.

If you’d like to differentiate “SEM” or Search Engine Marketing is an alternate term for SEO strategy that is widely – if not universally – used. SEO copywriting is often used to differentiate the specific goal of writing content with the right keyword balance for your SEO strategic goals.

When Your SEO Strategy Becomes Your Brand Identity – or Vice Versa

Over time, you may even realize that your SEO strategy and your brand strategy have become one. This will happen as you hone your website content to Google’s standards. Becoming more transparent, transitioning from content fluff to expert-driven advice, and more clearly translating your brand’s marketing keywords as statements will actually frame your brand in the process. You may be refining your brand identity in the process of boosting your SEO, or you may find that your SEO simply must fall back on your existing brand identity in order to convey the organic and expert-driven style of writing that Google is continuing to require.

Working Your SEO Strategy for Digital Marketing Success

SEO works when you work it. The reason to work on your SEO strategy every week and month of the year is that Google (and other search engines) is the window to your digital audience. Without a presence on Google, customers simply won’t be able to find you. Without a high page ranking for your keywords, customers will see competitive brands before they have a chance to click your website.

For businesses who want to get ahead – and those who simply want to stay afloat – working your SEO strategy, honing your content, and improving your technical performance – is always a valuable effort.

Not sure where to start? The Provato Group can help you know more about what is SEO, and hone your SEO strategy from the opening words on your homepage to a custom website design that will load quickly improving your visibility in search engines, and the back-end mechanics of your website. We’ll help you build a powerful blog, compelling service pages, and even take your SEO off-site with videos, social media, and other forms of engaging inbound marketing techniques. Whether you need an SEO strategist or an expert SEO copywriter, The Provato Group has everything you need.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation on your business SEO status, results, and strategy for the future.

What database administrators need to know about Azure SQL

For database administrators, it’s important to find a system that’s feature-laden in a way that delivers optimal value to the end-users. That’s why the best solution for most organizations is to use Microsoft Azure SQL. It has a unique blend of features that allow for greater organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

Whether you’re building a new database or migrating a legacy database to a new program, Azure SQL is perfect for you.

The question is: why should your organization use Azure SQL? Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of using it by running through many of the program’s many features.

Implementation options

First, Azure SQL offers some versatile implementation options for getting started. The option you choose will depend on where you currently are in your Azure SQL experience. Depending on the level of sophistication you have with the product, your options may vary.

  • Looking to migrate your workloads onto Azure Virtual Machines (VM)? SQL server is the option for you.
  • With Azure SQL Managed Instance, you can update the applications you have as well as tap into hybrid flexibility.
  • You can also put the infrastructure needed in place to support your modern cloud applications by using Azure SQL Database.

No matter how you choose to implement Azure SQL, you’ll have a whole host of features at your disposal. Below is a brief summary of the features you can expect to benefit from using Azure SQL:

Security

Protecting your data is paramount for an organization with any kind of digital presence. Whether you need to safeguard proprietary data or personally identifiable information, having a secure database is critical for keeping your information’s integrity intact.

Azure SQL offers all the tools you’ll need for a comprehensive security posture. It has cryptographic verification. It also has real-time threat protection capabilities to help you navigate threats and assess your vulnerabilities as soon as possible. Azure SQL has security controls such as encryption and access management as well to keep the right people in and the wrong people out. Finally, Azure SQL’s compliance coverage will keep your security tools up to date.

Scalability

As your business grows, your database requirements may change as well. Azure SQL allows you to adapt and scale your database needs as the needs of your organization evolve. You’ll be able to scale your capabilities on a timeline that works for you and your team.

Serverless

Azure SQL’s fully managed service eschews hardware for a more flexible, serverless approach. Forget dedicating physical space you don’t have for computer storage. Azure SQL supports cloud applications.

Great availability

A service can have all the capabilities in the world, but without reliability, it will fail to serve you. When it comes to your database, you’ll want to be sure you can access it the majority of the time without disruptions or outages. Azure SQL offers great availability with minimal chances of disruption.

Regularly recurring tasks such as patches, updates, and data backups are all automated by Azure. It also has remedies in place for spontaneous network outages or failures. If you use retry logic within your app, your database will experience minimal downtime.

The bottom line is that a database is only as good as its ability to keep you connected to your data. Azure SQL has plenty of ways to keep your data available no matter what external circumstances might occur.

Backup and recovery

For most organizations, their data is the lifeblood of their business. So what happens when disaster strikes and that data is compromised? Without the right protection in place, it can be catastrophic for your organization. Azure SQL databases rely on SQL Server engine technology to provide data backup and restoration services. These measures provide you with the safety and security of knowing a disaster won’t take you back to square one. Azure SQL’s redundancy offers regularly scheduled backups, ensuring you access your data after an incident occurs.

Automatic tuning

You’ll also want to optimize your database’s performance, and Azure SQL gives you the ability to do just that. With automatic tuning, you’ll always have the best performance available. Azure SQL has a highly adaptable performance posture, enabling you to get the most out of your database without having to manually adjust or monitor your performance settings.

Monitoring and analytics

One of the most time-consuming aspects of your IT operations can be manually monitoring the performance of your various systems. Azure SQL cuts down on this, providing you with a comprehensive portal that allows you to monitor and track performance across all of your Azure SQL databases and other virtual services.

You’ll also have access to a host of analytical tools. This type of data is critical to making sure your organization’s IT operations are operating with maximum efficiency. With a single page, Azure SQL gives you a holistic view of all of your SQL resources. This includes your Azure SQL databases, the server hosting them, as well as any SQL Managed Instances or your SQL Server on Azure VMs. 

On-Demand

Because Azure SQL offers such a versatile and comprehensive suite of services, it can often seem overwhelming having to sift through everything to find specific data. SQL On-Demand offers you more insight into your data with the ability to make tailored queries to get you the information you need when you need it.

Azure SQL is the database solution you need

Because of the features described above, it’s clear that Azure SQL offers a better database solution than any other option available. Azure SQL has solutions that can be customized and applied to a variety of organizational types and sizes, scaled up or down depending on what you need.

With this in mind, it only makes sense for your team to migrate its legacy database services to Azure SQL. The main challenge is determining how to navigate these migrations. While it may seem daunting at first, having the right partner in place to guide you through the process helps you overcome any obstacles, focusing on getting the most out of Azure SQL.

4 Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring Remote Workers

The last few years have redefined what companies are willing to offer in terms of remote work arrangements. And for good reason – it’s growing in popularity among employees. According to Flex Jobs, one survey found that 97% of respondents favored either a fully remote or hybrid work model. Other research shows that 70% of companies are looking to move to at least a hybrid environment.

From both an employer and employee perspective, embracing remote work is both an optimal and beneficial move. The question for employers then becomes: “How do we improve our hiring process to better attract remote workers?”

Let’s take a closer look at some best practices you can use when recruiting and hiring remote workers. Keep these in mind and you’ll be sure to bolster your workforce with remote candidates who aren’t just highly skilled but also offer a fit for your corporate culture.

Pre-Interview: Distinguish Between Your Needs and Wants in a Candidate

While there are many aspects of hiring remote workers that differ from hiring someone for an in-person role, some elements remain the same. Prior to interviewing the candidate, build your checklist of skills, qualities, and experiences you’d like your ideal candidate to have. Sort these qualities into two lists: “must-have” and “nice to have.” The must-have list is all things your candidate needs to perform the job functions, while the nice-to-have list will be valuable but not necessary.

You’d do this with a more traditional candidate, but the fact that you’re hiring remote workers might influence what falls into each bucket. For example, in either scenario, you’d want someone who’s a strong communicator. That means something different for a remote worker who isn’t within view of the team daily. It’s more important for them to have a mastery of videoconferencing or other communication software like Zoom or Google Meet.

Emphasize Candidate Centricity During the Process

The concept of candidate centricity means you’re placing the emphasis on the candidate throughout the process, centering them as someone you’re actively recruiting. You’re certainly giving them opportunities to show they’re right for the role, but ultimately, centricity is about focusing on the benefits to them. You’ll communicate that you are trying to prove yourself to them.

For a remote candidate, this means creating the right experience for them. For one, you need to overcommunicate during the process. Keep them updated on where they stand. Failure to do so could result in them pursuing another opportunity.

If you have multiple interviews with a remote candidate, explain who they’ll be speaking with each time and why you’re doing more than one. With hiring remote workers, you won’t have the benefit of a face-to-face interview. Helping them understand why you want to have multiple rounds remotely will allow them to feel like they’re being recruited rather than vetted or qualified. You’re less likely to turn them off and frustrate them.

Focus on creating a seamless experience for your remote candidate. Provide them with a clear job description and salary range. At each step of the process, be transparent about where they stand and what the next steps look like. It’s often said that a company will never treat a better candidate than they do during the recruitment process. While this may not always be the case, they’re certainly evaluating how you’re treating them here. It’s best to make your remote candidates feel wanted.

Be Flexible and Interview Remotely

This one should go without saying, but you should obviously be prepared to interview your remote candidate remotely. Ask them if they are comfortable with a videoconference over a standard phone call. This allows you to observe more of their mannerisms and body language, which can be helpful in assessing a candidate. You’ll be able to better gauge how confident they are in their responses.

If they decline a video interview and opt for a phone call, don’t hold this against them.  Communicating remotely isn’t the same as doing so in the office, so you’ll want to be flexible with how comfortable employees are showing their home to an employer they haven’t agreed to join yet.

You’ll also want to be flexible in when you can interview them. If your remote candidate has a job, you may have to interview them in the early morning, late afternoon, or early evening. You can’t expect a candidate with a 9-5 to be able to meet whenever is most convenient for you. Show some leniency when scheduling and accommodate a time that works with their calendar.

Be Open About Your Expectations for the Role

Is the job 100% remote? Are you offering a remote position for now until an eventual return to the office? Will it be a hybrid role?

Your answer to this question may vary. But whatever your expectations for your remote candidate, you need to make them 100% crystal clear as early as possible. If it is a fully remote role, say that. If it is not, say that as well. While it is beneficial for your company to offer a fully remote position to attract top candidates who may be located outside your metropolitan area, you may not be ready to do so. Whatever your posture, the role should be well-defined for the candidate upfront.

If you don’t agree on where the candidate will be working in the short-term and long-term, it can lead to frustration and confusion later. The employee may feel as if they’re getting a job they didn’t sign up for. This can lead to the company losing out on a great employee due to a communication breakdown.

If the assumption is that the position is fully remote, state that during the screening process. If the remote candidate moves to the hiring stage, make sure to put in writing what their work arrangement will be.

The bottom line is that hiring remote workers is much like hiring someone who would sit in your office with a few important distinctions. By tailoring your staffing process to the remote worker’s unique situation, you’ll be able to identify the right people for your company and create a winning experience for the candidate that leads to more hires.

What is Marketing Automation? 15 Key Examples of Automated Marketing

Marketing automation is when computers and software make your marketing job easier and multiply your efforts to achieve greater results. You can automate many aspects of the marketing role, from social media posts to on-site customer service. Automation ranges from simple publishing schedules to FAQ-slinging chatbots. The right strategy is unique to every brand based on the style of your team and the needs of your campaign. However, the larger your customer audience, the more every brand will come to need marketing automation to provide that responsive and personal level of care that customers expect.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is when you program or automate a marketing task. This simple definition covers a vast stretch of automatable tasks. In fact, technology has progressed significantly since the first automated email campaign. Today, AI-assisted analytics and advanced chatbots are also part of the marketing automation definition – as these self-learning tools also mechanize marketing functions.

Marketing automation begins with scheduling. You can schedule blog posts, social media posts, and email newsletters. From there, responsive automated marketing is built on triggers like a search, wishlist add, or purchase to engage with customers and build a relationship with them using automated digital means.

So, what does marketing automation include? What techniques can you use to improve your results or build customer engagement automatically? We have five categories and fifteen key practices of marketing automation for your brand to explore.

Campaign Schedule Automation

You can automate your marketing tasks with a simple calendar. Schedule your content to launch at exactly the best times for digital reception – and ensure you never miss a single post.

1) Blog Post Scheduling

Blogs should be published one to four times a month on a consistent weekly schedule. Instead of making sure you’re at the computer at your exact post time each week, automate! A blog scheduler will push a blog from draft to published on your calendar, providing your customers with new content regularly. When combined with a great website design, your scheduled blog posts will help you build a relationship with your customers and a positive digital experience with your brand through the content you publish automatically.

2) Social Media Automation

Social media is a heavy burden for one person or even a small team. posting regular, entertaining, and well-timed messages can take all your time – unless you automate. Start by building a large pool of social media posts to share, then set them into a scheduler to launch once to three times daily during the busiest hours of each social media platform.

Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing is an essential part of marketing automation. The emails sent by your company should be responsive and personalized – something you can do by connecting your email automation software to your CRM.

3) Personalized Newsletters

Send your monthly newsletter email automatically and personalize it with CRM data. Address each customer by name in their emails and include add-on content calculated to be appealing based on their search and purchase history.

4) Onboarding

When a new customer joins your brand, you can use email automation marketing to onboard and build engagement. Send a sequence of thoughtfully timed introductory emails with tips and guides. Provide new user offers and invite them to build their profile, wishlist, and loyalty membership. The right onboarding sequence triggers for each customer individually and can build engaged brand loyalty right from the start.

5) Re-Engagement and Win-Back

When a customer hasn’t shopped for you in a while, you can set an automated engagement timer to send win-back emails. After a month, or a year,  marketing automation will detect an inert customer and reach out with personalized emails based on CRM data and a pre-written template. Personalized deals and appealing content could bring back past customers and begin to rebuild positive engagement.

6) Shopping Cart Rescue

Abandoned shopping carts are a common problem that email automation can solve. “Your items are waiting” and “Did you still want…” emails are very helpful for customers who were interrupted during a shopping session. However, you should also allow customers to check a box that says “I shop slowly” to custom-tailor your automated engagement pace.

On-Site Funnel Management

On-site automation is a unique element of automated marketing. On-site alters the website’s design in order to provide personalized, data-driven details to the customer experience. The right automated features can optimize your sales funnel, improve your conversion rate, and increase on-site engagement with the brand and content.

7) Personalized Upselling Content

Many brands build an upselling bar into page design – a list of products the customer might also want to buy. Custom upselling is far superior to static products because they are items the customer is more interested in and motivated by. Related items, items from their wishlist, and items similar to their history can all be automatically offered when each page loads.

8) Search/Purchase History Reminders

Reminders to buy again, especially perishable items, can be useful. Use a customer’s search history to automatically remind them of what they’ve bought in the past and invite them to buy it again.

9) Wishlist and Cart Updates

Automatically end updates when an item in a customer’s wishlist is on sale, or when an item in their cart is updated in the marketplace. This re-engages customers by using their own items and interests.

10) Lead Magnets and Gated Content

Lead magnets can be a type of automated marketing, especially when they are an automated part of lead conversion. The same is true of automatically gated (and automatically un-gated) content when users sign up to read an e-book or watch a webinar.

11) Customer Quizzes

Any type of online engagement involving a quiz, survey, or onboarding can become marketing automation if designed to run itself.

Omnichannel Automated Support

One major benefit of automated marketing is that customers gain a unified experience no matter which channel or platform they engage through. This is primarily done with modern support AI, often called a chatbot.

12) Universal Chatbot

The universal chatbot is a support employee who knows the FAQs by heart, never gets tired, has an infinitely cheery attitude, and can speak to thousands of customers at once over any chat or conversational platform. These powerful service AIs are now available to automate both on-site and off-site support.

Transactional Automation

Finally, there is the heavy automation side of automated marketing. Transactional automation are those essential interactions with a customer that are actually best done as an automated service. These typically involve email but may include mobile apps, SMS, or social media messages in the modern support environment.

13) Order Confirmations and Invoices

The marketing automation software sends a confirmation email each time a customer makes an order, is issued an invoice, or their account is changed.

14) Shipping and Delivery Updates

Automated updates on the location and status of customer orders, including the final delivery announcement.

15) Account Management

Confirmation when customers make changes to their account, and re-connection with a change of email or phone number.

Automated marketing is the unified software solution that modern marketing teams need to thrive. From simple calendars to on-demand personalization to advanced support AIs, marketing automation has come a long way and still holds incredible potential for future development. Contact us today to build your automated marketing strategy.

Bootstrap 101: What it is and how to use it

You may know a bootstrap as something located on the back of a shoe or boot. You may even know it from the common expression to “pull yourself up by the bootstrap!” It represents the idea of creating for and providing for yourself, making something out of nothing.

The idea of “bootstrapping” is about starting small and creating something much bigger with only your own efforts and little advantages.

Of course, this has an entirely different meaning in the digital realm. When it comes to computers and electronic devices, the term bootstrap refers to the ability to “boot” a program onto a device with the help of a smaller program. This facilitates the larger program being integrated typically in an operating system.

So, while a bootstrap is a tiny part of a boot used for lifting it up, from a computer perspective, Bootstrap is a much different entity. Let’s take a closer look at Bootstrap by defining what it is, its impact on the technology world, how you can use Bootstrap, and what its continued use means for the future.

What is Bootstrap?

Two Twitter developers named Jacob Thornton and Mark Otto developed Bootstrap while at the social media platform. They created it to make the tools used on Twitter perform more reliably while also cutting down on the time needed to maintain those tools. Initially, the tool itself was known as Twitter Blueprint while often being referred to as Twitter Bootstrap.

Here’s what it is: a software that provides a front-end development framework for creating websites and applications that support websites. It’s free to use and available for all, open-source. Bootstrap was manifested using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to support its functions. The apps it creates are mobile-focused.

Now that you understand what Bootstrap is, let’s dive into what it means to the technology world – and specifically, those looking to develop websites without unlimited financial resources to throw at the problem.

What Bootstrap means to the technology world

The main benefit of using Bootstrap is that it’s equally valuable to experienced developers and beginners. It facilitates easy website building and design without forcing the user to enter commands.

Bootstrap taps into sound design principles to give anyone engaging with it an optimal user experience. It has a responsive layout, which means that the website or app can look it gives the viewer based on the viewer’s specific orientation. Because it’s mobile-first software, it operates with the assumption that all users will be using a tablet or smartphone.

It’s this responsiveness that makes Bootstrap an effective tool. It makes this the perfect solution for organizations with staff that work primarily on mobile applications. They no longer must worry about changing dimensions on the device – Bootstrap adapts depending on the situation.

Along with its intuitive design, Bootstrap also offers plenty of valuable user interface components. It delivers an implementation framework that will leave users able to easily begin using it. It also offers source code, or the program can be compiled in advance, depending on the user’s needs.

One of the biggest advantages of Bootstrap is that along with being open source, it’s also free to use. Anyone who wants to use it can find it hosted on GitHub and can download it from the official Bootstrap website.

It’s clear why Bootstrap is such an invaluable tool for so many developers working in the mobile space. But what exactly can they use it for, and why should they use Bootstrap?

How and why you should use Bootstrap

The primary use of Bootstrap is simple: if you’re looking to develop a mobile-based application, it’s an inexpensive yet comprehensive option. Bootstrap’s functionality eliminates the need to write endless amounts of CSS code. This frees up your availability for other tasks.

There are multiple reasons why you should consider using Bootstrap. As noted above, its responsiveness is a major selling point. It comes with a prefilled grid, meaning you can load content directly into your containers.

It also comes with handy components that you can integrate into your website design. You can add navigation bars, dropdown menus, or thumbnail images. These aren’t the only components you can add, of course, but just a small sample of what’s possible.

Because of the responsive design, you’ll be able to add a wide variety of components that resize to fit your site. You won’t have to grapple with sizing the components yourself – Bootstrap takes care of that for you, again leaving you free to focus your mental energy elsewhere.

Bootstrap also has shockingly thorough and easy-to-grasp documentation. No matter what you need to do through the software, you’ll be able to find documentation to help guide you through the process. There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck with software and having no idea how to implement it. Bootstrap’s documentation provides plenty of code samples, making complicated moves easy even for novices.

Because it runs using JavaScript, Bootstrap also provides multiple plugins from JQuery. They have an entire catalog of plugins you can insert into your site. They offer everything from pop ups to image carousels.

The bottom line is that Bootstrap is simple to use and compatible with most browsers. Using it for mobile application development is a slam dunk. But what’s the future of this tool?

The future of Bootstrap and determining if its right for your team

So, should you use Bootstrap? It’s certainly not without its drawbacks. It’s easy to use, but users will need to familiarize themselves with it and get used to its interface.

No matter what type of front-end web development you’re working on, Bootstrap likely offers the solutions and capabilities you’ll need. It has a versatile set of tools with plenty of educational resources within the program itself for anyone who needs to get acclimated.

Yes, it’s not perfect – no web development tool is – but the design flexibility it offers you is hard to beat. And as a free service, you certainly can’t beat the price.