What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Online Ads that Seem to Follow You

Have you ever visited a website or been online shopping for a specific item, and now, all of a sudden, you are seeing ads from that website everywhere? If it’s an item you are not interested in or have already purchased, they might seem a little annoying. If you are still considering the purchase though, through a business’s eyes, these ads that follow you online are a marketing dream.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Ads that “follow” you across different websites are called re-targeting, or re-marketing, ads. This analogy should help explain why they are so powerful: imagine if someone visited your brick and mortar clothing store. They browsed for a while and liked the clothes, but didn’t make a purchase. Normally they would leave and likely never think about your store again. But what if you had a way of subtly putting your clothes in front of them throughout their day? Maybe someone walked by wearing the clothes they were just looking at, or they saw a billboard for your brand featuring what they had just tried on, and now offering a 20% off coupon on these items! If this was you as a consumer, wouldn’t you be pretty close to returning to the store and making a purchase now?

This is essentially what re-marketing is, but in a digital version. With Google’s re-marketing ads you can track who has visited your site, what pages they viewed, and even if they took actions like added items to their cart.

How Re-Marketing Works

For most types of re-marketing, you must set up lists, or “audiences,” in Google Analytics to gather the information of those who visit your website. The most basic audience type is to gather everyone who visits any page of your website to re-market to. On top of a general audience you can also start to build more targeted audiences based on their behavior; such as which web pages they visited and what items they viewed.

These audiences can then be used to either show ads to across Google’s display network or to target them in Google Searches. For display network ads, these are those ads you have probably seen with an image and a little bit of text. For search ads, by using re-targeting here, your ads will be shown at the top of their search results if users in your audience make a google search related to your website.
Re-marketing ads are a powerful way to stay at the top of the mind of shoppers. The transaction process often takes multiple visits to your website over a span of days or weeks before a purchase is made. Don’t let customers move onto a competitor and forget all about you; stay on their radar with re-marketing.

Types of Re-Marketing Ads

Standard Re-Marketing

Standard re-marketing is when you build an audience based on visitors to your website and re-market to them with ads on websites in the Google display network.

Search Re-Marketing

Search re-marketing takes users in your audience, and if they make a Google search for one of your keywords, you will get preference to show up at the top of their search results.

Video Re-Marketing

Video re-marketing takes those who have viewed your content on YouTube and re-markets to them either with YouTube videos, banner ads in the Google search network, or with search ads.

Email List Re-Marketing

Email list re-marketing is great if you already have an established list of past customers or contacts. You can upload that list into Google and specifically target them with either banner ads on Google’s display network or with search ads based on their email address.

Re-Marketing

If you have taken notice of re-marketing ads, that means your potential customers have too. Consider this type of digital advertising for your website. Staying on a customer’s radar will ensure that they stick with you throughout their entire shopping process.

Your Questions About the Equifax Breach Answered

Equifax Breach

The Equifax breach is shaping up to be the largest data hack in history in terms of the number of Americans effected. There is still a lot of confusion about what exactly happened, but there are a few initial steps you can take to help protect yourself from theft based on what we do already know.

What Happened?

According to initial information, it appears that a software weakness existed from mid-May through July of 2017 before it was patched. During this time, it seems that hackers accessed the personal and financial data of about 143 million Americans. The information gathered by hackers included names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and even credit card numbers.

Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies. If you have an established credit history, your information has a high probability of having been leaked.

How Might Consumers Be Affected?

Often, hackers and identity thieves get only bits and pieces of personal and financial data. Breaches at retail stores will often only reveal names and credit card numbers, mail theft can produce social security numbers, but thieves rarely get the full picture. What makes this breach so dangerous is the breadth of information stolen. As mentioned before, an array of personal and financial information was stolen intact. Not only does a thief now know your name and social security number, but if asked to verify your identity, they could produce your address and driver’s license number too.

Consumers could be affected by both fraudulent accounts opened in their name and by theft from their existing accounts. The combination of information stolen leaves the door open to a variety of different ways identity thieves could use it.

What Can I do to Protect Myself?

Today, what you can do is to check over your full financial history by requesting a credit report from all three major credit monitoring agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. You can get a free report from each of these agencies once a year. Request your report and check it over for anything that could be fraudulent.

Some recommend putting a complete freeze on your credit. This would keep any new accounts from being opened with your information. You can also sign up for a credit monitoring service that would alert you if new accounts were opened in your name.

This won’t necessarily protect you from theft of your current assets though. Keep a close eye on your bank and retirement accounts for unusual activity. It would also be wise to file your tax return as early as possible next year. Identity thieves often try to file taxes as individuals to keep the return for themselves, but if you file first, they will not be able to.

What is Equifax Doing to Help?

Equifax has created a website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) under the pretense of helping people check if they were affected by the breach and are offering 1 year of free credit monitoring. This might come with a catch though. It would appear from the agreement that signing up for a year of free credit monitoring may waive your right to participate in a class action lawsuit. The effects of this breach could hurt you for many years to come, so weigh your options before you agree to Equifax’s proposed solution.

In Summary

All in all, you might be thinking, the Equifax breach sounds bad, but should I care? The answer is unequivocally: yes! This is larger than any other breach and includes far more valuable information than most individual companies ever have. What makes this breach even worse is that all of your information is linked together in a neat package for identity thefts to easily personify you. Expect to hear about this breach and its ramifications for years to come.

Why are Small Businesses Targeted by Hackers?

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Why are Small Businesses Targeted by Hackers

Although it’s cyber attacks on giants like Target and Chase Bank that make the news, small businesses are actually more often the victims of hacks. You would think that there would be less valuable information to steal, not really making them worth going after. So why are small businesses targeted by hackers? In reality, small businesses make much better targets because they often have outdated cyber security, don’t have the resources to pursue the thieves, and the information to steal is still very much worth the effort.

Easier to Hack

Thieves often go for the easiest target, and hackers are no exception. Small businesses usually have outdated technology and weak cyber security. By going after an easy target, hackers are more likely to be successful in their attack and gain access to valuable the information that small businesses have. Client social security numbers, financial information, and even client lists can be easily sold on the black market.

Less Resources to Fight Back

Attacking a large, wealthy company means a higher risk of being caught and prosecuted. Small businesses are often so devastated by the hack that they hardly have the time or resources to track down the perpetrators and seek restitution.

Large companies not only have the money and legal teams to go after hackers, but law enforcement devotes more resources to large hacks on powerful victims as well. Small businesses are not nearly as capable of fighting back as the big guys.

The Less Media Attention, the Better

How many criminals have you heard of that want to attract attention to themselves? A good thief is one you never know was there. The more attention a hack attracts, the more risk of the thief getting discovered. The hack of a small business with a small amount of data stolen is not likely to attract a ton of media and law enforcement attention. The small business may not even know it was stolen! The smaller the target, the less unwanted attention on the hacker.

Protect your Small Business from a Devastating Hack

The hard truth about hacks on small businesses is that they can be devastating to business owners and easy for hackers to perpetrate. Many company simply cannot recover from huge data losses and wind up closing their doors because of it.

Preemptive cyber security measures and having a cloud backup solution can save small businesses from ruin. Don’t be an easy target and stop the attack before it happens. Read more on cyber security for small businesses and cloud backup solutions to keep your business safe.

3 Things Your Business Shouldn’t Skimp On

Things Your Business Shouldn’t Skimp On

As a business owner, one of your ongoing challenges is the balancing act of keeping costs low while not limiting your growth and success. There are a few areas where it is okay to be tight fisted, but for some expenses, cutting corners will only hurt you. 3 of the main things your business shouldn’t skimp on are technology, marketing, and accounting.

Technology

At the core every business is their digital infrastructure and network of computers. Without functioning technology, your business will have a tough time reaching customers, keeping track of leads, and facilitating a smooth sales experience. Invest in a trusted and experienced IT partner. It’s not worth trying to manage it yourself or going with cheap, used equipment.

Cloud computing has also become increasingly popular. With cloud computing, your service provider does all the heavy lifting by setting up your network, running updates, and backing up all data. This sort of technology will be around for years to come and is worth the monthly cost to switch over to. Your business will benefit from more mobility and far less technical difficulties.

Marketing

When done well, marketing should serve to steadily increase your brand awareness and attract new leads more and more as time goes on. Some businesses are able to skate by on referral traffic for a while, but there always comes a time when the referral tap runs dry.

Investing in marketing is investing in the future of your business. It is not something that can be stopped and started and still expected to produce consistent results. For steady growth each year, you must invest in marketing on a regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean a multi-million dollar budget, but just keeping your website updated and brand awareness campaigns consistently running to help you out when your referrals become scarce. And even referrals can be easily scared away by a poorly maintained website or outdated branding.

Accounting

Unless you are an accounting wiz, experienced with payroll, and have a few spare hours a week, hire a high-quality accountant to handle your books. Not only is accounting time consuming, but doing it incorrectly can have dire consequences. These consequences could be accidentally over or under paying vendors and employees, or even worse, under paying the IRS. Your employees and vendors might be forgiving, but Uncle Sam isn’t. Hire a business accountant with a proven track record to assure everything is done correctly.

Don’t Limit Your Success by Skimping on Important Costs

Know when to skimp, and when to invest. When it comes to business services, there are a number of crucial areas where you will get what you pay for. Pinching pennies at the wrong time will only end up hurting your business in the long run. Invest in your future with quality technology, consistent marketing, and reliable accounting.

Benefits of Letting Employees Work from Home

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Benefits of Letting Employees Work from Home

Have you considered letting your employees work from home, but aren’t sure what’s in it for you? The reason working from home has become such a huge trend is because it is great for both employee and employer. Some of the benefits of letting employees work from home are that they will be more productive, happier, and take less leave, all while you will enjoy lower overhead costs.

Increase Productivity

According to Entrepreneur.com, 54% of employees prefer working on important projects from home, not in the office.* Most people report that they can focus better and be more productive in a home setting, free from the social and environmental distractions of the office. Who could say no to increased worker productivity?

Work-life Balance

Another benefit of letting employees work from home is the increased work-life balance. Not only will boasting a work-life balance attract better potential candidates, but it will truly make your employees happier and more likely to stay long term. By working from home, workers spend less time in the car and less time preparing for work. This means more free time and less chance that they will burn out.

Lower Overhead Costs

Even if your employees don’t work from home exclusively you will still save on overhead costs by letting employees work from home. You will need less (if any) office space, less office supplies, and less money spent on amenities like coffee and snacks. You will see a drastic effect on your bottom line if you switch to more work from home time for your workers.

Get a Much Wider Pool of Candidates

By touting the ability to work from home, your pool of candidates just got much wider. You now have the ability to hire anyone in any location. In addition, you can consider employees who are limited to working from home due to health reasons or being the caretaker of a family member.

Employees Will Take Fewer Sick Days and Vacation

When you work from home, the need to take a sick day or just get out of the office and take a vacation dwindles. Most minor symptoms that might keep you away from the office are much more manageable at home. With a better work life balance, your employees will also feel less of a desperate need to take a break. Working from home means less paid leave.

Technology Today Makes Working from Home Easy

Technology has finally caught up to make working from home easy. Today, you do not even need to bring a computer back and forth with cloud computing and remote desktop technology. You can access your desktop along with all of your files and programs on any device, anywhere.

With cloud computing, you do not have to worry about cyber security by letting employees work from home either. Cloud computing and remote desktops are actually more secure than traditional networks.

Benefits of Letting Employees Work from Home

The ability to work from home is both sought after by job candidates and beneficial for employers. Enjoy having a wider pool of candidates and employees that will stick around. Offering work from home is great for both productivity and the bottom line.