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Is your WordPress site safe?

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WordPress has become one of the leading web platforms that powers millions of websites. Unfortunately, for WordPress, they have also become a major target for hackers.

With news surfacing of a new vulnerability, WordPress users need to be aware of the vulnerabilities and the dangers of running an out of date or unsecured WordPress installation.

What can happen if your WordPress site is attacked

how-do-wordpress-blogs-get-hackedMany WordPress hacks begin with Hackers injecting malicious programming into the website which grants them control over the site. Once a hacker has control of a website they can install programs to infect your visitors, compromise your secure data, redirect your site traffic to a new website entirely, and much more.

Hacked websites will often contain pharmaceutical terms (Viagra, Cialis, weight loss pills) or other spam that is unrelated to the website. Hackers can conceal this content in code so that is not visible to the human eye, but is visible to Google bots or other search engines crawling your site. Once this information is indexed by Google, people searching for your site will instead see search results for pharmaceutical companies which originate from your site URL.

Another common form of WordPress hacking involves redirecting your website URL to a different site, or redirecting individual links within a website. For example anyone visiting http://yoursite.com would instantly be forwarded to another website determined by the hacker. The latter method involves the hacker selecting individual links within a website that when clicked will then redirect the user to a new site. This method is much harder to detect.

Why Hackers target WordPress

Since WordPress is an open source platform that powers millions of websites, it has become a target for hacking due to the high volume of sites and extensive documentation that is available. Each time WordPress is updated, they publicly release an update with the new changes and security measures making it easy for hackers to determine possible vulnerabilities in past versions and capitalize on them. Also, WordPress site owners make it easy for hackers to access their site because many of them are not routinely upgrading and securing their sites.

How You Can Secure Your WordPress Site

While there is no way to guarantee 100% security there are a number of preventative measures we recommend.

  • WordPress LogoAvoid easy passwords and update all passwords routinely
  • Always keep the most current version of WordPress installed
  • Keep all plugins up to date
  • Keep your site clean – delete unused files, media, and plugins
  • Monitor for malware
  • Choose the right web host

We are here to help

If your WordPress site has been compromised, or is vulnerable to attacks, we are here to help. Our team will upgrade your site to the newest version of WordPress, update all passwords, complete a full site backup, and implement multiple security features to secure your site against future attacks.


Learn more about our WordPress services and security or contact a consultant today.

Contact a Consultant today

Are your business listings confusing your consumers?

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Introducing FireDrum’s Business Directory & PowerListings Solution

In today’s competitive online marketplace, when it comes to information, people expect nothing less than accuracy. Indeed, misinformation can be the difference between keeping and losing a customer. But accuracy can be elusive, particularly when your brand lives in so many discrete destinations.

FireDrum has the proven expertise to make sure your business information is correct, consistent and convincing. Everywhere. FireDrum’s Business Directory & PowerListings Solution analyzes, identifies, and controls existing business listings of your locations through our unique publisher network, so all of your content is accurate, synced, and up-to-date across every digital channel.

Consistent Business Listings

FireDrum’s Business Directory & PowerListings Solution easily syncs, updates and verifies your business listings across 50+ major publishers such as Google+, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, MapQuest, Yelp and Foursquare. This service will allow us to identify inconsistencies and correct them within a 72- hour period. Keeping your business listings accurate, with the right description, contact information, recent photos, and an up-to-date promotion will differentiate you from your competitors and generate valuable exposure, direct calls and visits.

Automatic Duplicate Detection and Suppression

Having duplicate business listings appear in search engines can be harmful to a sites SEO and confuse consumers who are trying to find you. FireDrum’s Business Directory & PowerListings Solution not only removes duplicate business listings, but redirects all duplicates to the correct listing.

Track Reviews across the Web in Real Time

Social media has become a main hub for customer feedback, and knowing what your customers have to say about your business is important. PowerListings social forum makes it easy to stay on top of customer reviews with features such as the number of reviews, which site the review is on, reviewer rating, notification as reviews happen and the option to export all reviews.

Are your business listings accurate? Scan your listings for free today.

Are you communicating your brand effectively?

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Brand Control to Major Tom..

There are several technological innovations in email that are worth writing about. Any topic from deliverability, design, automation, customer segmentation, are worthy enough to focus at least one article on. However, I am a marketer at heart and I love the idea of branding. Digital marketing has provided us significant improvements in relation to customer tracking, profiling, and ROI analysis. But with all of our big data and metric, marketers are shifting too far away from the importance of brand recognition and consistency. In the following paragraphs, I am going to highlight some technologies that for the most part are new to FireDrum’s email system and that have allowed our clients the ability to control their brand in the most efficient and cost effective ways possible.

 

Name Tag

Hello, my name is…

Personalizing an email using a recipient’s information is a great way to establish a relationship that goes beyond just order taking or business as usual. Email systems like most marketing tools are essentially databases storing information related to specific contacts or users of a system. Data Tags are an ideal way to incorporate this information in customer correspondence so that your communication and most importantly your brand stand out. Name use in the subject line increases opening rates, buying preferences can be used to customize content, and birthdays or sign up dates can be used to reward loyal customers. Your organization has taken the time and effort to capture this information from your customers, why not use it to benefit both your recipients and your brand?

To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.
- Winston Churchill
Changes or modifications to your messaging can be the difference in if a consumer engages with your communication and call to action or not. One of the most difficult obstacles for companies that represent multiple business units, brands, or locations is the ability to localize and personalize their messaging. All email systems will allow you to create separate communications so that your messaging, contact information, and branding align with your goal. The issue is not, can your communications be branded correctly? It is, if it can be done in a time and cost effective manner? An Email administrator can spend hours and even days versioning out communications one by one. If these marketing tasks are shared by multiple users, a company needs to rely on the fact that the scheduling and proofing of these communications must be done almost simultaneously. The use of an approval or notification process can help immensely when looking to make your brands messaging consistent across the board and be sent in a timely fashion.

At FireDrum, we had a number of clients with issues in regards to brand control and complex sending’s, we needed a solution that was easy to implement and cost effective. Therefore, we developed the “Versioned Template”, combined with our private label system, the template can version itself by pulling customer or account information during the sending process. This could include the injection of a franchise owner’s website specific links and contact information, a sales reps photo, or a logo image inserted in the header to convey a unique product or service. The user fills out the content needed to be sent and the template does the rest to control the brand.

 

The “One” Template – The Template to bind them all

Building off the need for certain emails to be versioned by an account, we created the “One” template. This template provides all the benefits of versioning above but allows for a couple of key time and cost saving differences. It addresses the issue of franchisees or local marketing coordinators not being willing or able to send from their account. Our private label system can “push” a versioned email through their account and recipients would not know the difference. This not only keeps the timing and branding of large email campaigns consistent but provides reporting on a local account level so the history of that account stays intact.

If your business has unique brand and communication needs, we would love to hear from you. Email me at josh@firedrum.com. It is from the unique needs of our customers and partners that we can innovate and provide the best product and service possible.

 

What’s in a Brand?

Everyone knows that branding is an important part of any business so why should your email communications be anything different? Utilizing a custom template not only reinforces your brand, but it is an easy way to update your content while also using a clean, professional design. Many of our clients have benefitted by incorporating elements of their website and other marketing materials and have seen some of their largest ROIs by using email marketing.

Some recent templates to come out of the FireDrum Design Studio include:
Newsletters
Call us at 480.699.1524 or click here to contact us

Utilizing Mobile Technology as Marketing Strategy

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Smartphones are transforming the in-store shopping experience. With $25 billion spent on purchases made from phones and tablets, an increase of 81 percent from the year before, you can’t afford to miss out on a piece of the mobile pie.  In this article we’ll discuss the latest consumer shopping trends and teach you how to capitalize on those trends to grow your business.

Understand how today’s customers are shopping and how they get their information.

As North America’s internet population continues to grow, more and more purchasing decisions are being made online. According to a recent study by Google, shoppers are digging up more information, from more sources as they move along the path to purchase from undecided to decided. The study reveals that among the 5,000 consumers surveyed, 50% turned to search engines to research products, and 38% went online to compare prices.

The Internet is accessible nearly every place we go. Because of this, on-demand services are quickly replacing traditional platforms. Whether at home, work, or in the car, consumers are engaging with content on their own schedules. Traditional advertising is showing diminishing returns as DVR’s allow shoppers to skip commercials, online radio allows for ad-free streaming, and the Internet is allowing for easier price comparisons for the consumer.

Misconceptions about mobile marketing

Tablets are the same as mobile

Picture1Many business owners believe that tablets are the same as mobile. But smartphones aren’t tablets, and vice versa. So what is the easiest place to realize that all devices are not created equal? Conversion rates. The majority of retailers report a smartphone conversion rate of 1%, while reporting a 2.6% conversion rate for tablets. Furthermore, the average ticket for purchases made on tablets is $125, 18% higher than the $106 smartphone average ticket. If you are not optimizing your website for both the tablet and smartphone experience, you will face a challenge as smartphones and tablets will increase mobile web traffic by 26 times during the next four years.

Why do the conversion rates differ? The kind of content being consumed by tablet and smartphone users are very different. Consumers largely use tablets for what is known as, “lazy internet.” – consuming news and content, as well as browsing. Smartphones are used primarily for communication, the use of apps, and consuming “bite size” pieces of content.

Another important factor is where consumers are using each device. Tablets are portable, but smartphones are pocket-able. This results in tablets often being used in the living room or around the house, while smartphones are used on the go.

Only the iPhone/iPad is important

Picture2A common misconception is that the iPhone and iPad rule the smartphone and tablet markets. The truth is Google’s Android platform saw a 0.8% increase from January 2014 to April 2014, up to 52.5% market share. Apple dropped by 0.2% to 41.4%, while Microsoft saw a slight increase of 0.1% to 3.3%.

IDC expects Apple’s share to drop from 14.8% in 2014, to 13.7% in 2018. iOS volumes are expected to hit 184.1 million in 2014, growing to 247.4 million in 2018. Growth of 20% this year will slowly drop to year-over-year growth of 6.1% in 2018, more in line with overall market growth.

You need a mobile website makeover to participate

There are many ways to participate in the mobile device trend without a radical marketing change.

  • Many brick-and-mortar businesses still don’ t allow their customers to shop online. Enabling users to buy online allows you to tap into a new audience.
  • Rather than creating an entire new website, consider creating mobile optimized landing pages instead.
  • Utilize social media platforms to highlight products on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Create engaging videos highlighting your products and allow users to download them to their mobile devices.
  • Use email marketing to send regular emails to opted-in participants
  • Use text message marketing to provide incentive to your shoppers
  • Use Google Adwords to target specific devices
  • Make your website mobile friendly by adding a text phone number and address. This allows your shoppers to call you, or get directions with the push of a button.

My customers aren’t using mobile

Many business owners believe that their consumers are not using mobile devices to shop. However, recent data shows that 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop, and 40% of shoppers consult three or more channels before making a purchase. Mobile internet users are projected to outpace desktop internet users as early as 2015 with a projected 2 billion users on internet connected mobile devices.

Looking at the U.S. population, more than half of all Americans own a smartphone and admit to spending an average of two hours per day on their devices. With 8% of a person’s day spent looking at a mobile screen, there is a huge opportunity for mobile marketers to find customers who are looking for local services, as well as m-commerce customers who want to make a purchase online through their smartphone or other mobile device.

How can you reach mobile/tablet users?

Now that you understand the importance of reaching and engaging  mobile users, here is how you can do it.

  • Create a mobile friendly website.
  • Be active in introducing all of your products using social media.
  • Give incentives to users who opt-in to your email marketing programs.
  • Use paid ads through Google, Twitter, Bing and Facebook.
  • Utilize remarketing campaigns in order to maximize each click.
  • Create romanticized and in-depth product descriptions as to entice users to value the product.
  • Highlight products using videos and leverage that video on all other channels.
  • Create a custom application to better connect with customers.

Still unsure?

As the disparity between desktop and mobile users continues to grow, having a successful mobile marketing strategy in place is important to the long term success of your business. If you’re unsure where to start, FireDrum can deliver a marketing strategy that works. No matter the size or complexity of your organization, we can develop a custom solution for you. In fact, years of experience working with businesses of all sizes has made us the premier choice for organizations who need an internet marketing solution that perfectly aligns to their marketing and communication goals.

Have questions or interested in developing a mobile marketing strategy for your business?

Canada’s new anti-spam law

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There has been a lot of buzz going around regarding Canada’s new anti-spam law (CASL) that goes into effect July 1st and the implications it may have on your marketing efforts. Although it is similar to the CAN-SPAM Act, there are a few important things to be aware of.

Some similarities – both CASL and CAN-SPAM:

  • Are aimed at unsolicited online communications, and unfair/deceptive online practices
  • Require consent to send commercial electronic messages
  • Directly impact business communications with customers, prospective clients, and subscribers

Key differences – CASL has:

  • Reach outside Canada
    • Subject to certain regulatory exceptions, CASL expressly applies to messages “accessed from a computer system in Canada”: message can be sent from outside Canada
  • Higher standard for consent
    • Opt-in (CASL) versus Opt-out (CAN-SPAM)
  • Broader application
    • CASL also applies to installation of computer programs
  • Higher penalties
    • $10 million maximum penalty for CASL contravention

For more information, check out the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s site.

According to the site, there are really only 3 simple rules to follow when sending a CEM (commercial electronic message).

  1. Consent – You must have express or implied consent to send a message
  2. Identification – You must clearly and simply identify yourselves and anyone else on whose behalf the message is sent
  3. Unsubscribe Mechanism – In every message you send, you must provide a way for recipients to unsubscribe from receiving messages in the future

FireDrum is committed to making sure all of our clients are aware of the change and we are here to answer any questions you may have. If you have email contacts in Canada and are still unsure about how the new law may affect you, please contact Matt Ricca at matt@firedrum.com.

Have You Noticed A Drop In Your Open Rates?

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How changes to Yahoo! and AOL will affect your deliverability

Yahoo and AOL have recently changed their DMARC policy to proactively protect their users from receiving fraudulent emails.*

What does this mean to you in English?  Yahoo and AOL will not allow email to be delivered to a Yahoo or AOL account if the user is using a “from address” that contains @yahoo.com or @aol.com.  If you are using a Yahoo or AOL “from address,” then your deliverability will be significantly affected regardless of which ESP you use for email distribution.

So what is the solution?

It’s only a matter of time before other ISPs, such as Gmail and Hotmail, make similar changes. So switching to another freemail provider is only a short-lived fix until these other free providers take on the same policy. Using an email address from your own domain is the only way to prevent future deliverability issues caused by sudden changes made by ISPs. If you do not have your own domain, now might be the time to register one.

Lucky for you, we can help!

FireDrum offers a robust hosting solution for your business complete with plenty of email addresses for everyone in your organization. By registering your own domain (yourcompany.com), you can combat unexpected policy updates and send from yourname@yourcompany.com without the risk of your messages being rejected. For as low as $120 a year, FireDrum can host your domain, allowing you to grow your brand, increase your online presence and improve the deliverability of your email communications.

Have questions or interested in setting up your own domain?

*You can find Yahoo’s announcement of the policy change and its effect on email service providers here.

Video Boosts Customer Awareness and Increases Engagement.

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More than one billion unique users visit YouTube every month. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more adults 18–34 than any cable network.

When you consider how many of the users described in these stats are voluntarily searching out video content on the web, it attests to the power of moving images.  Video taps into the emotions in a way that static visuals can’t.  It makes a deeper impression on a person’s memory.  That’s important not only to establishing a brand but also to connecting the brand to the viewer in a long–term, personal way.

Video is also phenomenally social.  People will share a video link with friends far more often than they will share a link to a static ad, email or even a website.

And we’re not just talking about young entertainment–seekers.  A study of online video use conducted by Forbes Insight and Google reveals that video drives business decisions as well:

  • 75% of senior executives watch work–related videos at least weekly
  • More than half of them share those videos with colleagues at least weekly
  • 65% visited a vendor’s website based on a video
  • 42% made a business purchase decision based on a video
  • 59% prefer video over print when the same material is available in either format

According to ComScore.com, online retail shoppers who watch video spend about two minutes more on a company’s website, and are 64% more likely to buy than those who do not watch video.  That’s a statistic that you don’t want to ignore.

A recent report by Forrester, a global research and advisory firm, shows that video can significantly help boost the effectiveness of email campaigns.  Incorporating video into emails improves click–through rates by 2–3 times, according to the report.

A key principle in basic communications is “show don’t tell.”  Telling customers they need your product or service is never as effective as demonstrating in a visceral way that the product or service benefits them.  And nothing has more power to show the product in use or the way that it makes life better for the consumer than video.

Here are some ideas for how you can begin using online video right now to promote your products and services:

Let your clients get to know your company personally

Consumers are often looking for more than just a product.  A purchasing choice can be about acquiring an image and a lifestyle that goes a long with the product.  Video can introduce clients and customers to your corporate culture as well as your product or service.  Think about the identity potential that might be present in office events or your company processes and production.

 

Launch a new product

A full–scale television ad campaign is too expensive for many companies.  Shooting short videos for and about new products and posting them to your various social media outlets can function a lot like more traditional advertising.  More often than not, consumers are turning to the Internet to learn about new products these days so take advantage and get online!

 

Create buzz around an upcoming service offering

Think about how much a good movie preview can get you excited–even months before the movie is released.  The ability to generate excitement with just a few clips and images an art form but when it comes to previewing a new product or service that is yet to be released on the market, it can be money well spent.  Once the video production costs are covered, it costs you nothing to include the link in your email campaigns or on your website.  A well–made video in social media is a great way to generate buzz with potential clients and customers.

 

Maintain a highlight reel

Potential clients don’t only want to know whether or not your product or service will work, they want to see you putting them into action.  Social media videos allow you to shoot video of projects or product installations that you are especially proud of.  Include recorded testimonials from happy customers to begin curating a list of peer reviews.



How to Have Fun and Be More Effective with… Your Email Subject Lines!!!

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One of the many variable aspects of an email campaigns success is the subject line. Normally this is the first indication a reader receives in regards to the relevance and content of an email they are being sent. If a subject line is engaging, appeals to our psychology, or is found to be relevant to a recipient it will be opened. The higher the open rate–the higher the response–the higher the response-the happier you and/or your boss is.

So the core question becomes what subject lines or most effective? This question has no obvious answer, and is variable depending on your contacts and why they have opted–in to receive your emails. Consideration in regards to what recipients want to receive and why your communications will be beneficial to them should lay out a general overview of what direction to go with your subject lines and how to increase your overall open rates.

The remainder of this article should help guide you to think a little out of the box when it comes to the subject line and hopefully push you to consider some more fun and interesting methods to get a recipient to open your communication. Here are 5 strategies for subject line improvement and I hope you implement these and fill my email box with messages I cannot wait to open.

1. The Questions – Our Pursuit of the Unknown.

A question prompts a part of us to read and then respond. To start your subject line with a question engages the reader with a small challenge they naturally want to overcome.

Some questions can be targeted to the segments you are communicating too.

[Name] Are you ready for retirement?

Some can probe into our inquisitive nature

Where the best burger in town is?

2. The Tease – Our Psychological Need for Closure and Completeness

Like the “Question”, the unfinished sentence awakens something deep within us, answering the unknown. If your subject line is relevant and engaging enough you should be assured to garner an open from any recipient that receives the email. Here are some examples of how the teaser is best used to optimize open rates.

Tease them with an offer

You are important to us. To show this you will receive…

Tease them with a solution

The ten most important things you can do today are…

3. The Sense of Urgency – Now or Never

One of the oldest sales techniques is the use of urgency to pressure a consumer to make a decision. Though most consultative sales people avoid this technique it has found to be very effective in email marketing. Highlighting a limited time sale or emphasizing the scarcity of an offer will make many of us respond with interest and in–turn open the email.

An example for using time urgency.

One day only sale, respond today for your special offer.

An example or scarcity urgency would be.

A massive discount for the next few who respond.

4. Exclusivity – Make People Feel Special

No matter if communication is in person or digital, people want to feel important and special. If they support you and your business and are willing to receive communications from you then reward their loyalty by reminding how unique and important they are. Exclusivity based subject lines will provide a recipient value while confirming their correct choice in supporting your business.

Some examples of this are.

[Name], A special offer just for you.

A limited engagement for our favorite members.

5. Brevity – Short and Sweet

There have been numerous studies done on the shrinking attention span of the consumer. You really cannot blame consumers for moving on quickly. We are overloaded by media content from morning until the night. Therefore, it is important to keep your messaging aligned with our short attention spans. Even if you represent a complex or technical product or service, highlight its benefits to the reader in as few words as possible and insure higher open rates.

Here is an example of a typical subject line improved.

Let us help you refinance your mortgage with one of our special loan programs today.

Lower the cost of your mortgage today by…

Navigating the Social Media World Got You Down?

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Do the following questions resonate with you or your company?

  • Our social media content is stale and boring. How do we create exciting and engaging material?
  • How do we keep up with posts and interact with people? How do we keep up with social media monitoring and develop our reputation?
  • I’m not even sure I need to use social media, my business seems to be doing fine but everyone says I should be engaged in social media and have a presence. Why?
  • I really don’t know what I am doing. How do I stay on top of the changing platforms of social media?
  • Who should be responsible in my organization for managing social media? Do I need to designate a particular person?
  • How do we craft blogs and original material if we are not writers?
If you continually find yourself asking these questions,
we have the answers for you!

For social media to be successful, it requires the following:

  • Constant communication between you and your potential and existing customers
  • Use of a variety of methods and communication tools
  • Engagement and content that resonates with your target audience
  • Integrated social media efforts into an overall online marketing strategy that includes your website, email campaigns, public relations plans, etc.
  • Constant monitoring, revisions, and measurement of progress and reach

Let us manage the writing, posting, and engagement process for you so you can pay attention to running your business.

Our social media package is affordable, convenient, and comes with our professional expertise.

Our packages include a variety of services:

  • 2 blogs a month on interesting and diverse topics
  • 3 social media posts a week on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus (LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram if needed)
  • Customer engagements with oversight
  • Advanced reputation management

Contact us if your social media plan is waning or you are in need of some guidance. We are inspired and ready to organize your social media presence and engage your customers with fresh and exciting material.