FLEET ANALYTICS: CHANGE THE WAY CARRIERS, TRUCKSTOPS OPERATE

Today’s fleets have information coming at them from all direc­tions. Engine sensors, telematics devices and electronic logging devic­es are transmitting data in real time, and a growing number of fleets are analyzing that information to obtain value. What they find could change the way truckstop and travel plaza operators do business, according to those within the industry.

“When you talk about fleet analyt­ics, the range of what fleets are using in terms of analytics range from JB Hunt’s announcement that they’ll be spending $500 million over the next five years, much of it in analytics, at the top end to the small fleet that will probably be pushed into it either by government regulation or what their customer, the shipper, demands that they do,” said Roger Cole, a former NATSO chairman and editor of NATSO’s Biz Brief.

Brian Larwig, vice president of business intelligence and optimiza­tion, at TMW Systems, said fleets look at analytics to evaluate their operational status as well as their revenue and expenses. “They do that through thousands of different met­rics,” he said, adding that carriers can look at revenue by lane and customer. “The other side is using analytics to drive the business forward and use it predictively. They’re looking at trends over time.”

Mike Lombardi, recently retired executive vice president for sales for TA, said some fleets are incorporat­ing data from engine and powertrain sensors into the ELD so all the infor­mation is transmitted together, giving fleets a window into the truck and the engine. “They know what is happen­ing in real time and they don’t have to wait to run the data,” he said.

TRACKING SPEED

Upcoming regulations will mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) for most carriers.

Randy Seals, customer advocate for McLeod, said electronic logging devices are going to change fleets’ priorities. “The one asset now that you will really have is time. That is going to be the real analytical benchmark that people need to see,” he said. “Fleets are going to look at the time it takes to move a load from the time the load gets on their wagon and get off their wagon.”

That means the speed with which a driver can get in and out matters. “The fleet is going to get down-to-the-minute detail to make the truck the most efficient in terms of the amount of time and cost to operate the vehicle,” Cole said.

Fleets will be looking at how fast they can fuel and if there is a way to fuel faster, Seals said. “The only asset you have is time. If you have a fleet of 100 trucks and you save each one 10 minutes a day in fueling, in rate per mile what you can save is huge,” he said. “If I’m a truckstop operator, I’m asking what I can do to help them.”

Fleets can use data to determine how long a truck idles and where it idles. “Fleets can use that informa­tion as it relates to fueling locations. If the engine is idling for a long time before it shuts down to fuel, you can determine the cost of the idling time,” Cole said.

Little things, such as a fuel clerk delivering a receipt to a driver rather than a driver having to enter the lo­cation, could help attract time-con­scious customers, Seals said, adding that fuel island staff could be wait­ing on the islands to fuel tractors. “That equates to cents per mile in time. That is how the analytics tie back to the truckstops and travel plazas,” he said.

Seals said the opportunity to schedule fueling times could benefit fleets. “If the driver could hit a but­ton and say if he is going to arrive in 30 minutes, it could make the fleet more efficient. Just like you schedule your maintenance on tractors, you could schedule your fuel,” he said.

Seals said the increase in e-com­merce is going to lead to more regionalized transportation, and time could become even more criti­cal. Locations may even be able to charge for added convenience if it gets drivers in and out faster. “I can tell my customers, ‘I’m going to raise my price of fuel, but look at what I’ve given you,’” he said.

DETERMINING STOPS

TMW’s Trip Alert is constantly aware of where drivers are, where they are stopping and why and driv­ers’ hours-of-service status in real time. Larwig said fleets routinely look at data on where stops are happening. “It isn’t as much about preferred stop areas but more that they’re stopping at the appropriate times and roughly where. Now it is much more visible,” he said, add­ing that he doesn’t necessarily know how that will affect truckstop and travel plaza operators.

TMW also offers products that al­low fleets to run a detailed fuel anal­ysis. “It may incentivize stopping earlier for fuel than is needed be­cause one state may have lower rates or fuel taxes. Expert Fuel focuses specifically on when and where you should stop based on national rates and negotiated rates,” Larwig said.

Fleets could also use data to com­pare fuel quality and miles per gal­lon achieved when fueling at spe­cific locations. 

“Fleets can use data to see where they are purchasing their fuel and what the benefits would be to change fueling practices and go somewhere else,” Lombardi said.

Larwig said TMW allows carriers to track fuel mileage by truckstop. “We do MPG and we can do MPG by fuel stop. I would bet those who dig into their lane-by-lane data have done that,” he said.

EVALUATING FUEL ECONOMY

TravelCenters of America has found that fleets are using analytics to mea­sure fuel economy and maintenance, said Lombardi.

For example, if one truckstop was located on the top of a hill, engine analytics could track the RPMs it takes to reach the location, which af­fects fuel efficiency. “Some fleets are looking at it all the way down to that level,” Cole said. “They say, “We’re incurring this cost to climb that hill or then the brake expense to go down the hill,’” Cole said. “If there is a truckstop at the bottom of the hill, the cost might make more sense.”

IMPROVING MAINTENANCE

Information is allowing fleets to be more proactive. “With geofencing, it dumps information back to the fleet that says in the next 1,200 miles, you’re going to need headlights or windshield wipers. Those are the low-impact type of repairs that could put you out of service,” Cole said. 

Cole expects to see more geo­fencing to transmit a more detailed amount of data between the truck and the shop. “When a truck gets into a certain geography, the engine computers and all of the diagnostic equipment on the truck can dump that to the travel plaza location and then back to the fleet’s home office. A more detailed amount of data flows between the truck and the truckstop if the truck is in the shop.

LOOKING AHEAD

Those within the industry agreed that the amount of data being col­lected will only increase, particular­ly as the ELD mandate takes effect. “That is a huge change. Now every­body will have ELDs, so you have more density of data,” Larwig said.

“Everybody is going to have to re-think their playbook and how things are going to work,” Seals said.

Lombardi said some fleets are incor­porating data from engine and pow­ertrain sensors into ELDs so all the information is transmitted together, giving fleets a window into the truck and the engine. “They know what is happening in real time and they don’t have to wait to run the data,” he said.

Cole said there is data on every stop now. “Independent operators will have to start thinking about fleet analytics,” he said.



via Business Feeds

What's Your AMP Traffic Really Doing? Set Up Reporting in 10 Minutes

Posted by Jeremy_Gottlieb

The other day, my colleague Tom Capper wrote a post about getting more traffic when you can’t rank any higher. I was really pleased that he wrote it, because it tackles a challenge I think about all the time. As SEOs, our hands are tied: we’re often not able to make product-level decisions that could create new markets, and we’re not Google’s algorithms — we can’t force a particular page to rank higher. What’s an SEO to do?

What if we shifted focus from transactional queries (for e-commerce, B2C, or B2B sites) and focused on the informational type of queries that are one, two, three, and possibly four or more interactions away from actually yielding a conversion? These types of queries are often quite conversational (i.e. "what are the best bodyweight workouts?") and very well could lead to conversions down the road if you’re try to sell something (like fitness-related products or supplements).

If we shift our focus to queries like the question I just posed, could we potentially enter more niches for search and open up more traffic? I’d hypothesize yes — and for some, driving this additional traffic is all one needs; whatever happens with that traffic is irrelevant. Personally, I’d rather drive qualified, relevant traffic to a client and then figure out how we can monetize that traffic down the road.

To accomplish this, over the past year I’ve been thinking a lot about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).


What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

According to Google,

"The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful, and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms."

What this really means is that Google wants to make the web faster, and probably doesn’t trust the majority of sites to adequately speed up their pages or do so on a reasonable timeframe. Thus, AMP were created to allow for pages to load extremely fast (by cutting out the fat from your original source code) and provide an awesome user experience. Users can follow some basic instructions, use WordPress or other plugins, and in practically no time have mobile variants of their web content that loads super fast.

Why use AMP?

While AMP is not yet (or possibly ever going to be) a ranking factor, the fact that it loads fast certainly helps in the eyes of almighty Google and can contribute to higher rankings and clicks.

Let’s take a look at the query "Raekwon McMillan," the Miami Dolphins second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ohio State University:

Screenshot of mobile SERP for query "Raekwon McMillan"

Notice how of these cards on mobile, two contain a little lightning bolt and the word "AMP?" The prevalence of AMP results in the SERPs is becoming more and more common. It’s reasonable to think that while the majority of people who use Google are not currently familiar with AMP, over time and through experience, they will realize that AMP pages with that little icon load much faster than regular web pages and will gravitate towards AMP pages through a type of subconscious Pavlovian training.

Should I use AMP?

There are rarely any absolutes in this world, and this is no exception. Only you will know, based upon your particular needs at this time. AMP is typically used by news publishers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and many others, but it’s important to note that it's not limited to this type of entity. While there is an AMP news carousel that frequently appears on mobile and is almost exclusively the domain of large publishing sites, AMP results are increasingly appearing in the regular results, like with the Raekwon McMillan example.

I'm a fan of leveraging blog content on AMP to generate as many eyeballs as possible on our pages, but I'm still a bit leery about putting product pages on AMP (though this is now possible). My end goal is to drive traffic and brand familiarity through the blog content and then ultimately drive more sales as people are either retargeted to via paid or come back from other sources, direct, organic or otherwise to actually complete the purchase. If your blog has strong, authoritative content, deploying AMP could potentially be a great way to generate more visibility and clicks for your site.

I must point out, however, that AMP doesn’t come without potential drawbacks. There are strict guidelines around what you can and can’t do with it, such as not having email popups, possible reduction in ad revenue, analytics complications, and requiring maintenance of a new set of pages. If you do decide that the potential gain in organic traffic is worth the tradeoffs, we can get into how to best measure the success of AMP for your site.


Now you have AMP traffic — so what?

If your goal is to drive more organic traffic, you need to be prepared for the questions that will come if that traffic does not yield revenue in Google Analytics. First, we need to keep in mind that GA's default attribution is via last direct click, but the model can be altered to report different numbers. This means that if you have a visitor who searches something organically, enters via the blog, and doesn't purchase anything, yet 3 days later comes back via direct and purchases a product, the default conversion reporting in GA would assign no credit to the organic visit, giving all of the conversion credit to the direct visit.

But this is misleading. Would that conversion have happened if not for the first visit from organic search? Probably not.

By going into the Conversions section of GA and clicking on Attribution > Model Comparison Tool, you’ll be able to see a side-by-side comparison of different conversion models, such as:

  • First touch (all credit goes to first point-of-entry to site)
  • Last touch (all credit goes to the point-of-entry of session where conversion took place)
  • Position-based (credit is primarily shared between the first and last points-of-entry, with less credit being shared amongst the intermediary steps)

There are also a few others, but I find them to be less interesting. For more information, read here. You can also click on Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions to see the number of conversions by channel which were used along the way to a conversion, but was not the channel of conversion.

AMP tracking complications

Somewhat surprisingly, tracking from AMP is not as easy or as logical as one might expect. To begin with, AMP uses a separate Analytics snippet than your standard GA tracking code, so if you already have GA installed on your site and you decide to roll out AMP, you will need to set up the specific AMP analytics. (For more information on AMP analytics, please read Accelerated Mobile Pages Via Google Tag Manager and Adding Analytics to Your AMP Pages).

In a nutshell, the client ID (which tracks a specific user’s engagement with a site over time in GA) is not shared by default between AMP analytics and the regular tracking code, though there are some hack-y ways to get around this (WARNING: this gets very technically in-depth). I think there are two very important questions when it comes to AMP measurement:

  1. How much revenue are these pages responsible for?
  2. How much engagement are we driving from AMP pages?

In the Google Analytics AMP analytics property, it's simple to see how many sessions there are and what the bounce and exit rates are. From my own experience, bounce and exit rates are usually pretty high (depending on UX), but the number of sessions increases overall. So, if we’re driving more and more users, how can we track and improve engagement beyond the standard bounce and exit rates? Where do we look?

How to measure real value from AMP in Google Analytics

Acquisition > Referrals

I propose looking into our standard GA property and navigating to our referring sources within Acquisition, where we’ll select the AMP source, highlighted below.

Once we click there, we’ll see the full referring URLs, the number of sessions each URL drove to the non-AMP version of the site, the number of transactions associated with each URL, the amount of revenue associated per URL, and more.

Important note here: These sessions are not the total number of sessions on each AMP page; rather, these are the number of sessions that originated on an AMP URL and were referred to the non-AMP property.

Why is this particular report interesting?

  1. It allows us to see which specific AMP URLs are referring the most traffic to the non-AMP version of the site
  2. It allows us to see how many transactions and how much revenue comes from a session initiated by a specific AMP URL
    1. From here, we can analyze why certain pages refer more traffic or end up with more conversions, then apply any findings to other AMP URLs

Why is this particular report incomplete?

  • It only shows us conversions and revenue that happened during one session (last-touch attribution)
    • It is very likely that most of your blog traffic will be higher-funnel and informational, not transactional, so conversions are more likely to happen at later touch points than the first one

Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

If we really want to have the best understanding of how much revenue and conversions happen from visits to AMP URLs, we need to analyze the assisted conversions report. While you can certainly find value from analyzing the model comparison tool (also found within the conversions tab of GA), if we want to answer the question, "How many conversions and how much revenue are we driving from AMP URLs?", it’s best answered in the Assisted Conversions section.

One of the first things that we’ll need to do is create a custom channel grouping within the Assisted Conversions section of Conversions.

In here, we need to:

  1. Click "Channel Groupings," select "Create a custom channel grouping"
  2. Name the channel "AMP"
  3. Set a rule as a source containing your other AMP property (type in “amp” into the form and it will begin to auto-populate; just select the one you need)
  4. Click "Save"

Why is this particular report interesting?

  1. We’re able to see how many assisted as well as last click/direct conversions there were by channel
  2. We’re able to change the look-back window on a conversion to anywhere from 1–90 days to see how it affects the sales cycle

Why is this particular report incomplete?

  • We’re unable to see which particular pages are most responsible for driving traffic, revenue, and conversions

Conclusion

As both of these reports are incomplete on their own, I recommend any digital marketer who is measuring the effect of AMP URLs to use the two reports in conjunction for their own reporting. Doing so will provide the value of:

  1. Informing us which AMP URLs refer the most traffic to our non-AMP pages, providing us a jumping-off point for analysis of what type of content and CTAs are most effective for moving visitors from AMP deeper into the site
  2. Informing us how many conversions happen with different attribution models

It’s possible that a quick glance at your reports will show very low conversion numbers, especially when compared with other channels. That does not necessarily mean AMP should be abandoned; rather, those pages should receive further investment and optimization to drive deeper engagement in the same session and retargeting for future engagement. Google actually does allow you to set up your AMP pages to retarget with Google products so users can see products related to the content they visited.

You can also add in email capture forms to your AMP URLs to re-engage with people at a later time, which is useful because AMP does not currently allow for interstitials or popups to capture a user’s information.

What do you do next with the information collected?

  1. Identify why certain pages refer more traffic than others to non-AMP URLs. Is there a common factor amongst pages that refer more traffic and others that don’t?
  2. Identify why certain pages are responsible for more revenue than other pages. Do all of your AMP pages contain buttons or designated CTAs?
  3. Can you possibly capture more emails? What would need to be done?

Ultimately, this reporting is just the first step in benchmarking your data. From here you can pull insights, make recommendations, and monitor how your KPIs progress. Many people have been concerned or confused as to whether AMP is valuable or the right thing for them. It may or may not be, but if you’re not measuring it effectively, there’s no way to really know. There's a strong likelihood that AMP will only increase in prominence over the coming months, so if you’re not sure how to attribute that traffic and revenue, perhaps this can help get you set up for continued success.

Did I miss anything? How do you measure the success (or failure) of your AMP URLs? Did I miss any KPIs that could be potentially more useful for your organization? Please let me know in the comments below.


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via Business Feeds

YouTube’s New Design Overhaul Signals Changes for Small Business Users Too

Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

If you went on YouTube this morning and felt something was amiss but couldn’t quite put your finger on it, you were not alone. The company made several changes to the user interface (UI) for the desktop and mobile platforms, along with a redesigned logo.

A Look at the New YouTube Design

The logo change is the first for YouTube, and it represent the shift that has taken place in our viewing habits since the site was launched 12 years ago. The screen with the play button has moved to the left, signifying a flexible design for the many different devices now available in the marketplace. More importantly, the company also recognizes the creators who have made YouTube an industry in itself. So the changes are going to improve the way creators and viewers interact on YouTube.

Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

In announcing the changes on the company blog, Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer, said YouTube is far from finished. Mohan added, “Over the last few months we’ve started releasing updates and will continue to throughout the rest of the year. When all is said and done, we’ll bring a new level of functionality and a more consistent look across our desktop and mobile experiences.”

Mobile

The changes to mobile begin with a clean new design and more control of what is being watched. For creators such as small businesses, it includes a feature that changes shape to match the video format, such as vertical, square or horizontal when users watch it.  This means less time in post-production time spent on reformatting videos.

Additional mobile updates include videos that move with you, being able to watch at your own pace, and browse and discover videos while you watch. 

Desktop

The changes to the desktop also include some of the mobile UI improvements. A feature called Dark Theme delivers a cinematic look by turning the background dark while you watch a video.

 Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

Highlighting the Content

YouTube is making changes, but addressing the UI first highlights the company’s desire to make consuming videos much easier. As Facebook Video continues to capture more of the market, YouTube’s dominance will not be as strong.

For small businesses that rely on video to engage with their customers, it will mean using YouTube and Facebook, as well any other platform as long as it delivers results.

Images: YouTube

This article, "YouTube’s New Design Overhaul Signals Changes for Small Business Users Too" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

YouTube’s New Design Overhaul Signals Changes for Small Business Users Too

Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

If you went on YouTube this morning and felt something was amiss but couldn’t quite put your finger on it, you were not alone. The company made several changes to the user interface (UI) for the desktop and mobile platforms, along with a redesigned logo.

A Look at the New YouTube Design

The logo change is the first for YouTube, and it represent the shift that has taken place in our viewing habits since the site was launched 12 years ago. The screen with the play button has moved to the left, signifying a flexible design for the many different devices now available in the marketplace. More importantly, the company also recognizes the creators who have made YouTube an industry in itself. So the changes are going to improve the way creators and viewers interact on YouTube.

Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

In announcing the changes on the company blog, Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer, said YouTube is far from finished. Mohan added, “Over the last few months we’ve started releasing updates and will continue to throughout the rest of the year. When all is said and done, we’ll bring a new level of functionality and a more consistent look across our desktop and mobile experiences.”

Mobile

The changes to mobile begin with a clean new design and more control of what is being watched. For creators such as small businesses, it includes a feature that changes shape to match the video format, such as vertical, square or horizontal when users watch it.  This means less time in post-production time spent on reformatting videos.

Additional mobile updates include videos that move with you, being able to watch at your own pace, and browse and discover videos while you watch. 

Desktop

The changes to the desktop also include some of the mobile UI improvements. A feature called Dark Theme delivers a cinematic look by turning the background dark while you watch a video.

 Check Out the Major New YouTube Design -- Including a New Logo

Highlighting the Content

YouTube is making changes, but addressing the UI first highlights the company’s desire to make consuming videos much easier. As Facebook Video continues to capture more of the market, YouTube’s dominance will not be as strong.

For small businesses that rely on video to engage with their customers, it will mean using YouTube and Facebook, as well any other platform as long as it delivers results.

Images: YouTube

This article, "YouTube’s New Design Overhaul Signals Changes for Small Business Users Too" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Russia’s largest private bank is rescued by the central bank

VADIM BELYAEV’S start in business in the mid-1980s was to sell foreign watches on the black market in the Soviet Union. He became a financier, and by 2015 had transformed his bank, Otkritie, into post-Soviet Russia’s largest private lender. Named “Businessman of the Year” by a Russian magazine, he used an English term to describe himself: “Risk-taker”. The risks have caught up with Otkritie. A run on its deposits led this week to its takeover by the central bank (CBR). The rescue is likely to be the largest in modern Russian history.

Russian banking has been plagued by lenders with bad loans and inadequate capital, and “pocket” banks that function as money-laundering hubs for influential businessmen. The CBR has embarked on a campaign to clean up the sector, taking on formerly untouchable banks with powerful shareholders and clients. Since 2013 it has shut down more than 300 banks.

Otkritie rose rapidly, out of a small predecessor bank acquired in 2006. It has expanded...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Of Indian banknotes cancelled last year, 99% are accounted for

ON NOVEMBER 8th 2016, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, stunned its 1.3bn people by announcing that most banknotes would soon become worthless. Indians then queued for weeks on end to exchange or deposit their banned money at banks. The comfort for the poor was that the greedy, tax-dodging rich would suffer more, as they struggled to launder their suitcases full of cash by year-end.

Not so. A report from the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on August 30th suggests that of the 15.4trn rupees ($241bn) withdrawn—roughly 86% of all banknotes by value—15.3trn rupees, or 99% of them, have been accounted for. Either the “black money” never existed or, more likely, the hoarders found a way of making it legitimate.

Defenders of the scheme say it is merely one plank of a wider fight against informal economic activity and corruption. Banks have enjoyed an influx of cash. Digital payments are up (from a low base), as issuance of replacement notes has not caught...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Foreign jurisdictions try to lure legal business from London

National treasures

LOFTILY as they may disdain the profit motive, Britain’s judges are, on a national level, money-spinners. English law is often specified as the one under which commercial contracts are to be interpreted and enforced. And disputes often end up being heard in British courts. But, like any business, the law is competitive, and other jurisdictions want to snatch a share of this market. London is mounting its defences.

It has several hard-to-beat advantages: the use of English; a reputation for fairness; the centuries of precedent that lend predictability. Richard Caird, a partner at Dentons, a global law firm, notes that a foreign company can expect an impartial decision in an English court, even if it is pitted against a British firm. Over 70% of cases in the English commercial courts involve a foreign party. In 2015, Britain had a £3.4bn ($5.2bn) positive balance of payments on legal services.

One way for other financial...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

On NAFTA, Donald Trump’s most dangerous opponents are at home

EVER game for a fight, President Donald Trump is picking one again with Canada and Mexico, America’s partners in the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On August 27th he tweeted that both were being “very difficult”, adding: “May have to terminate?” His strategy, of getting a better deal by threatening to pull out altogether, is odd. It worsens relations with America’s negotiating partners, at a time when Mr Trump’s plans face just as much opposition at home.

Before April American business was quietly hoping that a Trump presidency would lead to more tax cuts than trade tensions. That changed when news leaked that Mr Trump was poised to withdraw from NAFTA. Suddenly the deal had louder champions in American business, including the energy and technology industries.

Knowing this, Canada and Mexico seem unruffled by Mr Trump’s latest threats as they go into the second round of NAFTA renegotiations on September 1st. Earlier ones prompted panicky phone calls from...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Market concentration can benefit consumers, but needs scrutiny

WHEN Amazon announced in June that it would buy Whole Foods, an upmarket grocer, for $13.7bn, other firms shuddered. The spread of Amazonian tentacles is worrying to those wary of concentrated corporate power. But shoppers entering their local Whole Foods these days find oddly low prices alongside the new stacks of Echoes, Amazon’s voice-activated digital helpmate. This raises a question. Is Amazon hellbent on building a world-straddling monopoly, or merely injecting innovation and competition into yet another new market? For antitrust regulators, the welfare of the consumer is the priority. Yet working out how to protect it is harder than ever.

Competitiveness in most industries is a matter of degree. In the idealised marketplace of economics textbooks, the price people pay for goods equals the cost of producing an additional unit. Any higher, the theory goes, a competitor could cut the price a smidgen, sell another unit and profit. Yet outside commodity markets, most firms can...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Analysts struggle to make accurate long-term market forecasts

WHAT is the right way to invest for the long term? Too many people rely on past performance, picking fund managers with a “hot” reputation or backing those asset classes that have recently done well. Just as fund managers cannot be relied on to be consistent, returns from asset classes are highly variable. The higher the initial valuation of the asset, the lower the future returns are likely to be.

That is pretty clear with government bonds. Anyone buying a bond with a yield of 2% and holding it until maturity can expect, at best, that level of return (before inflation) and no more. (There is a small chance the government might default.) With equities, the calculations are not quite so hard-and-fast. Nevertheless, it is a good rule-of-thumb that buying shares with a low dividend yield, or on a high multiple of profits, is likely to lead to lower-than-normal returns.

So a sensible approach to long-term investing would assess the potential returns from asset classes, given...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

The gap between India’s richer and poorer states is widening

COUNTRIES find it easier to get rich once their neighbours already are. East Asia’s growth pattern has for decades been likened to a skein of geese, from Japan at the vanguard to laggards such as Myanmar at the rear. The same pattern can often be seen within big countries. Over the past decade, for example, China’s poorer provinces have grown faster than their wealthier peers. India is different. Far from converging, its states are getting ever more unequal. A recent shake-up in the tax system might even make matters worse.

Bar a few Mumbai penthouses and Bangalore startup offices, all parts of India are relatively poor by global standards. Taken together, its 1.3bn people make up roughly the third and fourth decile of the world’s population, with an income per person (adjusted for purchasing power) of $6,600 dollars. But that average conceals a vast gap. In Kerala, a southern state, the average resident has an annual income per person of $9,300, higher than Ukraine, and...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Virtual offices bring together people from all corners of the world. And it’s creating a linguistic nightmare — even when people are speaking the exact same language.

If you’ve partnered with some freelancers or have clients living in the U.K., you may have already encountered this phenomenon. You’re having a normal conversation and suddenly the Brit on the other end has no idea what you’re saying. This goes beyond replacing Zs with Ss or spelling COLOR with a U.

Turns out, there are plenty of phrases and words in American English that simply do not translate to British English. These are phrases that Americans in business use every day — maybe a little too much — but are completely foreign to our friends over there.

In the blog written by Kerry Noonan on the Foothold America site, she says, “One thing that’s becoming more prevalent in UK offices, it’s the frequency of which we hear Americanism expressions spoken by British colleagues.”

She goes on to say, “Many of us use them without even realising (it is realizing for the American version) that they have origins across the pond.”

It may be some time before we start adopting more British business-isms in America. Don’t expect to hear people complaining about queues at the bank any time soon. But it does appear the British are catching on to the way American business colleagues speak.

American Business Phrases

Here’s just a sampling of the puzzlers that have Brits doing searches to figure out just what their American counterparts are saying …

Boiling the Frog

Apparently this is an American expression meaning, the art of managing a smooth transition, so much so it goes unnoticed. The frog analogy comes in from the folklore that frogs jump out of hot water, but do nothing if the water is heated slowly. 

Sausage and the Sizzle

This is an expression used in marketing about selling the sizzle and not the sausage. It means to sell the benefits and not the features. (Another version of this expression is to sell the sizzle not the steak.)

Aces in Their Places

It sounds pretty straightforward to an American audience. Clearly, this means having the best people in the roles best suited for them. In the U.K., it’s pure gibberish.

Ninth Inning

They don’t play much baseball in the U.K. Cricket has innings, too, but this just doesn’t translate. You’ll probably want to avoid most sports references unless you’re a soccer (err, football) fan.

Speaking a Foreign Language

Effective communications is key to any business relationship. And while the Brits have adopted some American phrases, it would behoove any small business in the U.S. to reciprocate.

Check out these stumpers that are spoken plenty in the U.K.:

Throwing a Spanner in the Works

To really understand the meaning of this, it helps to know that a spanner is a wrench.

Chuffed to Bits

If your business partner tells you they are chuffed to bits, take it as a compliment. It means they’re happy.

Check out the full infographic from Foothold America highlighting these uniquely American business phrases that baffle the Brits:

Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Flags Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Virtual offices bring together people from all corners of the world. And it’s creating a linguistic nightmare — even when people are speaking the exact same language.

If you’ve partnered with some freelancers or have clients living in the U.K., you may have already encountered this phenomenon. You’re having a normal conversation and suddenly the Brit on the other end has no idea what you’re saying. This goes beyond replacing Zs with Ss or spelling COLOR with a U.

Turns out, there are plenty of phrases and words in American English that simply do not translate to British English. These are phrases that Americans in business use every day — maybe a little too much — but are completely foreign to our friends over there.

In the blog written by Kerry Noonan on the Foothold America site, she says, “One thing that’s becoming more prevalent in UK offices, it’s the frequency of which we hear Americanism expressions spoken by British colleagues.”

She goes on to say, “Many of us use them without even realising (it is realizing for the American version) that they have origins across the pond.”

It may be some time before we start adopting more British business-isms in America. Don’t expect to hear people complaining about queues at the bank any time soon. But it does appear the British are catching on to the way American business colleagues speak.

American Business Phrases

Here’s just a sampling of the puzzlers that have Brits doing searches to figure out just what their American counterparts are saying …

Boiling the Frog

Apparently this is an American expression meaning, the art of managing a smooth transition, so much so it goes unnoticed. The frog analogy comes in from the folklore that frogs jump out of hot water, but do nothing if the water is heated slowly. 

Sausage and the Sizzle

This is an expression used in marketing about selling the sizzle and not the sausage. It means to sell the benefits and not the features. (Another version of this expression is to sell the sizzle not the steak.)

Aces in Their Places

It sounds pretty straightforward to an American audience. Clearly, this means having the best people in the roles best suited for them. In the U.K., it’s pure gibberish.

Ninth Inning

They don’t play much baseball in the U.K. Cricket has innings, too, but this just doesn’t translate. You’ll probably want to avoid most sports references unless you’re a soccer (err, football) fan.

Speaking a Foreign Language

Effective communications is key to any business relationship. And while the Brits have adopted some American phrases, it would behoove any small business in the U.S. to reciprocate.

Check out these stumpers that are spoken plenty in the U.K.:

Throwing a Spanner in the Works

To really understand the meaning of this, it helps to know that a spanner is a wrench.

Chuffed to Bits

If your business partner tells you they are chuffed to bits, take it as a compliment. It means they’re happy.

Check out the full infographic from Foothold America highlighting these uniquely American business phrases that baffle the Brits:

Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)

Flags Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Lost in Translation? These Uniquely American Business Phrases Baffle the British (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Building a Community of Advocates Through Smart Content

Posted by Michelle_LeBlanc

From gentle criticism to full-on trolls, every brand social media page or community sometimes faces pushback. Maybe you’ve seen it happen. Perhaps you’ve even laughed along as a corporation makes a condescending misstep or a local business publishes a glaring typo. It’s the type of thing that keeps social media and community managers up at night. Will I be by my phone to respond if someone needs customer service help? Will I know what to write if our brand comes under fire? Do we have a plan for dealing with this?

Advocates are a brand’s best friend

In my years of experience developing communities and creating social media content, I’ve certainly been there. I won’t try to sell you a magic elixir that makes that anxiety go away, but I've witnessed a phenomenon that can take the pressure off. Before you can even begin to frame a response as the brand, someone comes out of the woodwork and does it for you. Defending, opening up a conversation, or perhaps deflecting with humor, these individuals bring an authenticity to the response that no brand could hope to capture. They are true advocates, and they are perhaps the most valuable assets a company could have.

But how do you get them?

Having strong brand advocates can help insulate your brand from crisis, lead to referring links and positive media coverage, AND help you create sustainable, authentic content for your brand. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few case studies and strategies for developing these advocates, building user-generated content programs around them, and turning negative community perceptions into open dialogue.

Case study 1: Employee advocates can counter negative perceptions

To start, let’s talk about negative community perceptions. Almost every company deals with this to one degree or another.

In the trucking industry, companies deal with negative perceptions not just of their individual company, but also of the industry as a whole. You may not be aware of this, but our country needs approximately 3.5 million truck drivers to continue shipping daily supplies like food, medicine, deals from Amazon, and everything else you’ve come to expect in your local stores and on your doorstep. The industry regularly struggles to find enough drivers. Older drivers are retiring from the field, while younger individuals may be put off by a job that requires weeks away from home. Drivers that are committed to the industry may change jobs frequently, chasing the next hiring bonus or better pay rate.

How does a company counter these industry-wide challenges and also stand out as an employer from every other firm in the field?

Using video content, Facebook groups, and podcasts to create employee advocates

For one such company, we looked to current employees to become brand advocates in marketing materials and on social media. The HR and internal communications team had identified areas of potential for recruitment — e.g. separating military, women — and we worked with them to identify individuals that represented these niche characteristics, as well as the values that the company wanted to align themselves with: safety, long-term tenure with the company, affinity for the profession, etc. We then looked for opportunities to tell these individuals' stories in a way that was authentic, reflected current organic social media trends, and provided opportunities for dialogue.

In one instance, we developed a GoPro-shot, vlog-style video program around two female drivers that featured real-life stories and advice from the road. By working behind the scenes with these drivers, we were able to coach them into being role models for our brand advocate program, modeling company values in media/PR coverage and at live company events.

One driver participated in an industry-media live video chat where she took questions from the audience, and later she participated in a Facebook Q&A on behalf of the brand as well. It was our most well-attended and most engaged Q&A to date. Other existing and potential drivers saw these individuals becoming the heroes of the brand’s stories and, feeling welcomed to the dialogue by one of their own, became more engaged with other marketing activities as a result. These activities included:

  • A monthly call-in/podcast show where drivers could ask questions directly of senior management. We found that once a driver had participated in this forum, they were much more likely to stay with the company — with a 90% retention rate!
  • A private Facebook group where very vocal and very socially active employees could have a direct line to the company’s driver advocate to express opinions and ask questions. In addition to giving these individuals a dedicated space to communicate, this often helped us identify trends and issues before they became larger problems.
  • A contest to nominate military veterans within the company to become a brand spokesperson in charge of driving a military-themed honorary truck. By allowing anyone to submit a nomination for a driver, this contest helped us discover and engage members of the audience that were perhaps less likely to put themselves forward out of modesty or lack of esteem for their own accomplishments. We also grew our email list, gained valuable insights about the individuals involved, and were able to better communicate with more of this “lurker” group.

By combining these social media activities with traditional PR pitching around the same themes, we continued to grow brand awareness as a whole and build an array of positive links back to the company.

When it comes to brand advocates, sometimes existing employees simply need to be invited in and engaged in a way that appeals to their own intrinsic motivations — perhaps a sense of belonging or achievement. For many employee-based audiences, social media engagement with company news or industry trends is already happening and simply needs to be harnessed and directed by the brand for better effect.

But what about when it comes to individuals that have no financial motivation to promote a brand? At the other end of the brand advocate spectrum from employees are those who affiliate themselves with a cause. They may donate money or volunteer for a specific organization, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have inherent loyalty to one group and can easily go from engaged to enraged.

Case study 2: UGC can turn volunteers into advocates

One nonprofit client that we have the privilege of working with dealt with this issue on a regular basis. Beyond misunderstandings about their funding sources or operations, they occasionally faced backlash about their core mission on social media. After all, for any nonprofit or cause out there, it's easy to point to two or ten others that may be seen as "more worthy," depending on your views. In addition, the nature of their cause tended to attract a lot of attention in the holiday giving period, with times of low engagement through the rest of the year.

Crowdsourcing user-generated content for better engagement

To counter this and better engage the audience year-round, we again looked for opportunities to put individual faces and stories at the forefront of marketing materials.

In this case, we began crowdsourcing user-generated content through monthly contesting programs during the organization's "off" months. Photos submitted during the contests could be used as individual posts on social media or remixed across videos, blog posts, or as a starting point for further conversation and promotion development with the individuals. As Facebook was the primary promotion point for these contests, they attracted those who were already highly engaged with the organization and its page. During the initial two-month program, the Facebook page gained 16,660 new fans with no associated paid promotion, accounting for 55% of total page Likes in the first half of 2016.

Perhaps even more importantly, the organization was able to save on internal labor in responding to complaints or negative commentary on posts as even more individuals began adding their own positive comments. The organization’s community manager was able to institute a policy of waiting to respond after any negative post, allowing the brand advocates time to chime in with a more authentic, volunteer-driven voice.

By inviting their most passionate supporters more deeply into the fold and giving them the space and trust to communicate, the organization may have lost some measure of control over the details of the message, but they gained support and understanding on a deeper level. These individuals not only influenced others within the social media pages of the organization, but also frequently shared content and tagged friends, acting as influencers and bringing others into the fold.

How you can make it work for your audience

As you can see, regardless of industry, building a brand advocate program often starts with identifying your most passionate supporters and finding a way to appeal to their existing habits, interests, and motivations — then building content programs that put those goals at the forefront. Marketing campaigns featuring paid influencers can be fun and can certainly achieve rapid awareness and reach, but they will never be able to counter the lasting value of an authentic advocate, particularly when it comes to countering criticism or improving the perceived status of your brand or industry.

To get started, you can follow a few quick tips:

  • Understand your existing community.
    • Take a long look at your active social audience and try to understand who those people are: Employees? Customers?
    • Ask yourself what motivates them to participate in dialogue and how can you provide more of that.
  • Work behind the scenes.
    • Send private messages and emails, or pick up the phone and speak with a few audience members.
    • Getting a few one-on-one insights can be incredibly helpful in content planning and inspiring your strategy.
    • By reaching out individually, you really make people feel special. That’s a great step towards earning their advocacy.
  • Think: Where else can I use this?
    • Your advocates and their contributions are valuable. Make sure you take advantage of that value!
    • Reuse content in multiple formats or invite them to participate in new ways.
    • Someone who provides a testimonial might be able to act as a source for your PR team, as well.

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