CFA's ICT Predictions of 2014 - Part 1

CFA’s ICT Predictions of 2014 – Part 1

What an eventful year 2013 has been for the Information and Communications Technology industry, not just in Nigeria, but across the world. Let me set the records straight that although this piece has to do with predictions, it has nothing to do with spirituality.

My views in this piece are based on my knowledge of the industry as well as the opinions of experts and journalists across the world. That means that I am fully aware of the fact that some of these predictions may not come to pass but I am glad I used the work prediction instead of prophesy. That said, I will attempt to predict what I believe would be some of the events we should expect in 2014.

1. More Investments In ICT

This is probably obvious, but I just have to make it my very first prediction. We are most likely going to witness more massive investments, both in the local and foreign scene of ICT. Countries are investing heaving in LTE & 4G networks, some companies are laying sub-marine cables and connecting some countries. So, I expect that there will be massive investments in broadband infrastructure and devices, more techpreneurs will seek to raise funds for their projects, the local content policy guidelines recently released by the Ministry of Communication Technology and National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), would really begin to come into effect in 2014 and as long as these guidelines are implemented to the letter, we can then be sure that more business and revenue will flow into our local ICT industry. So, watch out for Nigerian-built or designed phones, gadgets and devices in the coming year and make sure your support our own.

2. Increased Internet Penetration

Does this sound like a prediction or a statement of fact? However it may sound, the fact remains that as broadband becomes more readily available and cheaper, so will more people especially in the rural community access to the Internet. These people will definitely patronize it for their personal and business purposes.

I believe that Nigeria will cross the 60 million Internet-user mark in 2014 based on the official figures, I have a feeling that we may have crossed that mark this year, unofficially.

The last NCC report showed that there was significant increase in the number of Internet users, but I believe that next year will be more eventful for the industry. As a previous employee of a telecommunications company, I learnt that at some point, voice would peak and then data will take over. This was about a decade ago and today we are seeing the telcos waging an on-going data war already.

CFA's ICT Predictions of 2014 - Part 1

Truth is that we need to get more Nigerians on the Internet and not just get them there for the sake of it, but also educate them on how they can use it positively. I expect to see more Government support in this regards. 

3. Commercialization of ‘unusual’ techy devices

Yes. I believe more people across the world will invest in various techy devices which include mobile devices, Google glass, secret cameras, pen recorders, etc. Some of these devices are already in the market but they need to be commercialized and be made more affordable and readily available for the mass market. For example, Google glass is likely to cost you up to $2,000, depending on where you are buying it from. It is likely that a few Nigerians might have it already but it is really isn’t for the mass market yet.

As for me, I want to see these devices become readily available and I’d strive to use this column to educate people on how these devices can be used for the common good, especially considering the fact that they can easily be connected to the Internet. For the ladies, you need to get ready for smart eyelashes and finger-nails. No, this is not a prediction. I was impressed to read about it on Mashable.com. A PHD student named Katia Vega is already working on these innovations. She’s focusing on two main branches of the project so far: fingernails and conductive makeup.

Well, this is just to give us an idea of what to expect in the nearest future. Watch what you say or do because someone might just be recording every action with one ‘unusual’ device.

I pray that 2014 be the year to really put some of these devices to use in Nigeria especially using to fight corruption and extortion on the streets of our cities.

To be Continued…Part 2

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5 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs to Focus on Internet Marketing

Wednesday is guest post day here at CFAgbata.com and today’s guest is Sara Crawford – Enjoy and Share!

If you run a small business, you should be spending the majority of your marketing resources on internet marketing. As the internet grows, other forms of marketing and advertising are becoming less and less effective. People are using the internet to find businesses, products, and services they need, and the best way to attract more customers or clients to your business is to make sure you are visible on the internet.

It used to be that radio and television advertising as well as print marketing were enough to market and advertise your business. Nowadays, though, most people get their information from the internet. People are less likely to watch commercials on the television, especially with Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services. With Pandora and Spotify, people are less likely to listen to conventional radio stations as well. The readership of newspapers and magazines has certainly declined also as the majority of people are turning to the internet for news, entertainment, and interesting articles.

Having a visible web presence has never been more essential for small businesses. It is important that your potential customers be able to find you on search engines, social media, and local search. Inbound Marketing Agency London, Hubspot Platinum Partner can be of service to your small business on web presence and visibility.

Here are five reasons you need to ramp up your internet presence in 2014. 

1. 89% of Customers Turn to Search Engines Before Making Online Purchases 

Fleishman-Hillard conducted a study that found that the vast majority of customers are researching products and services on Google, Bing, and Yahoo before they make purchases. If your business is not showing up on the first page of search engine results, you may be missing out on quite a bit of potential customers. Optimizing your website so that it will have a visible presence on search engine results pages is essential.

2. Social Media is the #1 Online Activity We Participate In

If you have been dragging your feet about getting your business on social media, now is the time to change that. According to Buffer, social media is now the #1 activity that individuals participate in online. Connecting with your customers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and more has never been more important. Not only is this a great way to connect with existing customers, but this is also an excellent way to reach out to new customers and market your business in general.

One good thing to do is to focus most of your efforts on the social media site that is best for your business. For example, if your business is very visual in nature (jewelry, fashion, etc.), Pinterest may be a great page for you. Check out the different social media pages to find the one you should focus on.

3. Companies Who Blog More than Once Per Day are More Likely to Gain Customers 

In 2012, HubSpotState of Inbound Marketing found that 92% of companies that published a blog multiple times a day increased their web traffic and their customers via their blog. It’s important to have an interesting blog that people will want to read and link to. This is a great way to gain more exposure and more web traffic, which will only lead to more business for you.

 

4. More Web Content Means More Leads and Customers For Your Business

HubSpot found that webpages that had 30 or more landing pages tended to generate 7 times more leads than those that had fewer than 10 landing pages. Try to expand your website out and create more content that is engaging to internet users. This is a great way to optimize your website for search engines as well. For example, if your business has more than one location, consider expanding your website out and creating unique pages for every location. This will make you more visible on the web.

5. Local Search is Essential For Small Businesses

LocalVox found that, “88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.” If your business is not showing up in local search and you are a restaurant, retail store, or another brick-and-mortar business, you are definitely missing out on potential customers. Boost your local search efforts, and encourage all of your customers to leave reviews on Google+, Yelp, etc. You might also try offering specials on Yelp and Foursquare to encourage people to “check in” to your business and spread the word via their own social network.

These are only a few of the reasons it is smart to devote the majority of your marketing resources to internet marketing. You will find that if you spend a lot of time and energy on increasing your web presence, it will only mean more web traffic, more customers, and more growth for your business.

Sara Crawford is a writer and blogger from Atlanta, Georgia. She often blogs for InjectedSEO, an SEO company in Atlanta.

Image Credit: jobatlearn

Marketing Plan for Your Blog

Marketing Plan for Your Blog

After writing a great blog, it is just as vital that you market it within a couple of days at the most, especially if you wish to ensure that the presence of your blog is in effect fully maximised, along with the overall effect it will assuredly have on your website, as a matter of fact.

A conception much popular among most website owners is that it is largely imperative to blog on a regular basis. This will ensure the effort you have energetically put in raising your blog helps it simultaneously to climb page rankings as well as get widely noticed by your viewers.

Yet, in factual effect, it’s probably just as noteworthy, or arguably even more significant, that your great blog post has a far extended reach, when compared to a large number of superfluous posts on the same blog which gloomily is believed by some to be the correct approach.

Marketing Plan for Your Blog

If you expect your website to achieve a higher ranking, search engines need to recognise your blog. Marketing a blog is never thought to be a process that can be quickly accomplished. That’s also the main reason why experts tend to be convinced that it is particularly essential to create a blog post which is sufficiently suitable for marketing across the Internet on a wider scale.

An excellent way of achieving that end is to have an ideal Marketing Plan for your Blog Post, which should suit each and every blog you intend to post. This must moreover be relevant to the targeted purpose of your website. Thus, if you have a thoroughly worked marketing plan, there is no reason why you should not succeed in gaining a much higher ranking for your website.

If you are for any justifiable reason overly encumbered by time constraints, which by the way owners of most websites are persistently scowling about, it will be easier for you to work on a marketing plan for your blog post which you have no difficulty in pursuing.

To be honest, it is a lot better to have a far smaller number of blog posts. You should preferably concentrate on having posts which are informative and intensely marketed, instead of a higher number of posts which no one is likely to ever hit upon.

You will be better off spending 3 hours hard work in marketing your deserved blog post, rather than straining for many more hours attempting to produce a few additional blogs that you intend posting on one and the same website, over and over again. Even if you were to produce 2 blog posts every week, and chose to remain loyal to a workable marketing plan; it would not be very long before a visible difference in presence and the visit count of your website starts becoming distinguishable.

Because, by virtue, a marketing plan imposes several indispensable steps, it is equally necessary to go over each step at a time. Before completing your marketing plan, you will need to carry out some additional research so that you can land on the one that suits your blog post best.

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Innovative Ways to Enhance Your Business Potentials

Innovative Ways to Enhance Your Business Potentials

The relentless explosion of social and digital media has helped in potentially opening up new and innovative avenues for advertisers and marketers alike. Never before was it in real terms possible for a business to get its message out to a target market with so many productive options. Some of these readily adaptable options may be termed as tactics that are new while others may in a similar note be seen as innovative conversions of methods commonly employed in yester years.

With a creatively developed game plan, efficiently executed, you can effectively accrue multiple benefits from some of these innovative marketing strategies.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing, a term also commonly called ‘inbound marketing’ in many business circles, is considered to have made its debut in the world of commerce and trade as of recent times. On the whole, it comprises making skilful use of videos, articles, podcasts, blogging and a range of other similar content that is specifically designed to provide satisfactory response to customer queries and simultaneously help in generating potential sales. Among its main objectives, content marketing helps to illustrate ways in that customers can use the products supplied by a business, create spontaneous trust and respond to questions normally raised.

2. User Generate Content

One reasonably fast method for creating a strong marketing impact involves allowing your users to freely generate their own content. In addition, this will also provide them with an opportunity to liberally interact with brands favoured by them, while marketers in their turn have the benefit of rapidly creating plenty of content which help to enhance their own presence and rankings on major search engines. Innovative Ways to Enhance Your Business Potentials

Content generated through users may be simply encouraging your fans and followers to make videos for YouTube. Other favourable methods include requesting users for contribution of their blog posts and articles, as well as setting up various online communities or interest groups.

3. Public Relations

Formerly, public relations concerned itself exclusively with sending out press releases as well as making an attempt to get customers via the media. However, as a growing number of people now tend to depend somewhat more strongly on social media as their source of information and news, the function of public relations remains principally that of executing the role of marketing.
More than ever so before, PR departments have begun to interact closely with various marketing professionals. PR consultants make excellent use of their special skills in recounting interesting episodes that are particularly supportive in creating new marketing storylines.

4. Promotional Products

For several decades in row, the role of promotional products has been that of a cornerstone for the purpose of marketing. One would logically argue that a marketing method similar to this would display plenty of difficulty in mixing freely with some of the newer channels such as social media and the like. Yet, as astonishing as it may sound, they tend to fit rather excellently into these modern day strategies for marketing. As social media happens to be totally digital in form and nature, promotional products offer marketers a golden opportunity for delivering their unique messages in a lot more realistic manner.

Promotional products need to be used largely in a more personalised form that demands physical handling as well as touching. They serve exceptionally well in attributing a unique 3-D aspect to your brand message at large. Promotional products help to move your brand from its erstwhile digital realm setting into a real time world of today’s global business.

5. Mobile Marketing

For several years now mobile marketing continues to remain poised on the precipice of becoming the next big thing. Although usage of mobiles has visibly made massive gains over time, marketers could never be totally certain as to what ought to the best available means of taking advantage of this expanding drift. In recent times however, they appear to have taken some noteworthy strides towards creating content usable exclusively for mobile purposes.

For instance, many businesses now show a tendency towards creating their individually designed applications, with the aim of helping customers obtain the information sought by them. Whether it’s for Androids, iPhones or any other similar mobile platforms, an ever increasing use of such apps, which enables users to take full advantage of the power wielded by mobile marketing, will always continue to exist.

Conclusion 

In the world of marketing, a time of such excitement can simply not be seen in the entire breadth of its long history. Today, innovations in technological development allow consumers to act out much greater roles in conversations related to their admired brands. In bygone days, marketing was considered a ‘one-way’ affair, with enterprising advertisers proclaiming their individual messages throughout the world at large.

All these have changed and leading these vivacious changes and all-consummating trends of the future are content marketing, content generated through users, public relations, promotional products and mobile marketing are destined to give the modern business world an entirely new direction.

Now over to you, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments in the box below. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and followers on social media.

Why a Digital Marketing Strategy is Right for Your Business

This a guest post by Sarah Gotheridge. Enjoy 🙂

Despite the obvious popularity of the internet and the rising prominence of small devices like tablets and smartphones, some companies remain a bit apprehensive when it comes to taking on digital marketing in a big way. That’s because most companies are established in the ways of the 20th century, when things like print materials and billboards could effectively sway consumers to choose their product or service over the competition. It goes without saying, though, that the 20th century is over and times have changed.

Businesses that are looking to effectively reach out to new customers, and inspire existing ones to come back for more products or services, absolutely need to be using digital marketing to accomplish these goals. Digital marketing is more memorable, more personal, and actually more affordable, than the vast majority of “outbound” marketing techniques used by most businesses in an era before social media, mobile devices, and a world full of Wi-Fi.

To get a greater understanding of how this approach can change your business, ask a few quick questions:

When is the last time you remembered a billboard and used it to buy something new?

There’s no shortage of billboards along the world’s highways, even as marketing and advertisements move solidly into the online universe and away from offline posts. The problem, though, is that billboards have become an uninspired and static known quantity. Customers no longer pay them as much mind as they used to, even when they come in the form of an illuminated LCD screen full of animated messages.

So, ask yourself a question: When is the last time that a billboard captured your attention, drew you to a product, and inspired you to buy that product as soon as you got out of your car? If the answer is something like, “I don’t remember,” then your opinion aligns with the majority of the Internet-connected world.

Digital marketing is not a billboard. It does not need customers to come to the product. Instead, digital marketing brings customers in social signalsby going right to their screens. From smartphones and tablets to desktop and laptop computers, social media advertisements and other digital promotions reach customers where they spend most of their time. Those messages are transmitted by trusted sources of value, not cold and metallic billboard posts. Businesses who advertise online increase the popularity of their brand, their website, and their point of view, just by going digital.

When is the last time you trusted something or someone you had never heard of before?

Another common scenario in the offline world of marketing is that a product will be presented on the side of a bus, or a logo will be featured on someone’s clothing, as a way of inspiring new customers to check out the product. That worked in the past, but it doesn’t work in an era when consumers are skeptical of everything from telemarketers and spam emails to “junk” brands and high prices.

In the present economy, consumers need to know that they can trust a brand before they go ahead and spend their money on its products. That’s where digital marketing comes in. This new approach to marketing actually gets friends to recommend products to their loves ones, largely without thinking about it. Smart brands offer up their products on Facebook via the site’s pages, and they create Twitter accounts that reach out to new and existing customers. When their friends and family members like or tweet a brand, trust is communicated almost instantly.

In a pre-Internet world, the best endorsement a product could have, was “I’ve used that, and I enjoyed it.” Today, that has been shifted into a “like” on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, or a “plus one” on Google+. Consumers are spending an increasing amount of time online, and it’s time to start using their favorite websites to recommend new products and encourage their business.

When is the last time you weren’t excited to read a text message?

Digital marketing is more than just social media websites and online advertisements. It’s also increasingly a field that employs mobile devices and smartphones to get customers to buy new products and return to their favorite brands. One such method of doing this is by sending promotional text messages to the phones of a brand’s most enthusiastic customers. Studies have shown that consumers like to receive text messages, and they consider texts to be a trusted form of communication.

Digital marketing via text message takes a brand into consumer’s hands effortlessly and for very little cost. Consumers are excited to read the message, and they trust what it has to say. The company benefits by looking forward thinking and connected, as well as trustworthy, and sales increase from that point.

Some Surprising Answers to Very Common Questions

The marketing world is one that seems to change very slowly, day-by-day, but is all of a sudden very different than it used to be. Businesses that are serious about competing in the information age need to drop the billboards and pick up the smartphones. They need to focus less on communicating via transit advertisements and more on communicating via social networks that people read while they’re taking transit.

With a forward-thinking approach to digital promotion and marketing, businesses of all kinds can smoothly transition into a world dominated by things like social media, text messages, and 10-inch tablets in every set of hands.

Sarah represents a site called Monetise.co.uk. She enjoys writing about online marketing and likes to give advice for new businesses. Feel free to visit her site for more information on a lead generation company.

 

 

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What Does Photoshop Literacy Have to Do with Successful Internet Marketing?

 

Guest post by Joyce Del Rosario and Jasper Dela Cruz. Don’t forget to share if you enjoy it :)

“Marketing,” as we should all know, is the act of promoting and selling products or services.  Suffice to say, one should be good in promoting a product in order for the said product to be sold.  Any practitioner of marketing should know how to present the product to the customer in such a way that the said customer would actually say to him/herself that he/she cannot live without the product.  Therefore, marketing begins with grabbing a prospective customer’s attention.

That’s a tall order, if you ask me.  I mean, you could just take a stroll down any mall and, within minutes, I bet you’d see people handing out flyers to random folk who would just toss the flyers into the nearest garbage bin without having to look at what was written on it.  Let’s review that scene.  Let’s see, the poor guy handing out the flyers would be the marketing practitioner, the ass-hats who just threw the flyers would be the prospective customers, and the flyers would be the tools used in promoting products.  Obviously, without knowing what was written on the flyer, no one would give even a thoughtful stare about the product, much less buy it.  So, now, we are faced with the main problem: How does one grab someone’s attention?

Luckily, with the age of information technology, we are given new tools that we can use to pop someone’s eyes out and glue them to whatever the hell is that we are selling.  The days of people standing in malls giving out flyers are slowly dwindling away (unless, of course, those standing would be women in brightly colored bikinis, but that’s beside my point.) Also, millions of trees would be saved from being cut down and turned into colored papers that people are so obsessively fixated on distributing.

Let’s start with the most obvious tool, the Internet.  The Internet has given us the power of connecting with people, the power to share pictures without having to worry about the cost of printing it and manually sending it to everyone.  One could easily just upload an image taken from a high-resolution camera and everyone can see it (provided that the one who uploaded the picture wants the image to be viewed by everyone). Moreover, with most of the people spending more time connected to the Internet rather than having to break a sweat walking, advertising has fallen into the hands of new-media.  The Internet has single-handedly changed the game of advertising by presenting us with the power to free ourselves from block letters on mono-chromatic paper and immersing us into a world of colors with so many shades people start using a mix of letters and numbers to name them.

The next tool is the number of software used to enhance pictures, the most famous of which would be, from the software company Adobe, the Photoshop.  With Photoshop, we can manipulate colors and make eye candies so sweet anyone viewing your creation would die from diabetes.  That is, of course, if you knew, at the very least, what the Magic Wand Tool is for.

The sad thing about the internet, however, is that some of us has developed an attention span that sometimes do not last beyond 140 characters (thanks, Twitter). What with all the bombardment from banners and pop-ups and basically everything that happens inside a single window, coupled with the amazing ability of the human mind to only focus on one thing at a time, only the best image can grab an Internet surfer’s attention.

But, wait, there’s more.  Grabbing a viewer’s attention is not just about getting the most color into one image; it’s not about literally making the viewer’s eyes bleed.  Sometimes, it’s also about how other-worldly an image is in terms of it being possible in the real world.  This is where image editing comes in.  This is perhaps the most sought after feature of Photoshop that gives the power to create surreal worlds and events which never happened – and perhaps never will.  Imagine, a television with butterfly wings gliding through a sky of red water above green clouds.  You can’t?  Well, let Photoshop help you with that.

With Lighting tools, an impressive Feather option, and the ability to select colors in a given range, you can say goodbye to over-priced studios with their chroma keys and make stunning images using your grandmother’s camera. Photoshop can be learned in various ways, most schools train their students in using this proprietary software, it can also be learned in one’s own town, and some IT consultantsoffer training for a fee.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  This would prove to be a problem given that people always have their own views in anything.  Heck, even the word of the Lord was interpreted four times!  So, let’s avoid confusion and help the person looking at your image by using the right words and inserting them in your image.  This option is also very much possible with Photoshop.  With just a single click of a tool, you can easily type in words without altering the image you’re describing.  Also, you can edit the way the words appear on the picture, not just the color, but also the texture, the orientation, and so on.

Indeed, marketing has evolved drastically in the years of the Internet.  But, the basic principle of luring customers still remains the same.  Captivate the viewers and show them something new, something fresh, something that they need, something that you are selling.  Lure them in with the mixture of colors, the shock factor of images, the focal points of words.  All of these can be done with basic knowledge in Adobe’s Photoshop.  Now, imagine the sheer impact when one utilizes its power.

 

Joyce Del Rosario and Jasper Dela Cruz are business bloggers. They blog for officekonsulenterne.dk. They focus on equipping business owners with business software knowledge. Aside from blogging, Jasper is also a toy enthusiast.

Creative Commons Image courtesy of ?CubaGallery

4 Ways to Use Article Marketing as an SEO Strategy

One effective SEO Strategy that will be around for sometime is Article Marketing. I use it frequently as an SEO Strategy to build my personal brand and business.

Remember, it is advisable to build a personal brand in today’s world.

Search Engine Optimization if properly done, can help your brand and website become more visible on the SERPs. The SEO Strategy you decide to use depends on the resources available and what your goals are. Fortunately, article marketing is a cheap and effective, and has therefore become a very popular SEO Strategy.

Using article marketing as an SEO Strategy

1. Quality Articles

When using articles as an SEO Strategy, you are to write highly informative articles revolving around your products or interest, which are then submitted to various article directories i.e. EzineArticles – click to read some of my articles.

2. Use of Keywords

The articles should contain keywords that are popularly used in search engines to search for products within your industry.

You also have to ensure that the keyword density is between 2 to 4% so that it does not look spammy. Prospects who find your useful articles via the search engines would likely get interested in you the author as well as your products/service.

3. Link Building

Your SEO Strategy can’t be effective without links. Internal and External links are extremely important, it is much better to have a professional SEO Expert like CFA handle your external link building strategy while you take care of the internal.

For example, read my previous post titled “Use Video Marketing to Increase Traffic” – the Keyword here is Video Marketing and I have added the link to the main article – this is how internal linking is done.

Tips: If you are building external links, make sure you focus on one-way links only and use different classes of IPs if building a huge no of links. An SEO professional will help you avoid issues if things are not done right.

4. Go Social

I cannot overemphasize the importance of Social Media in article marketing. Are you one of those who focus on the ‘social’ aspect of Social Media while neglecting the business and brand building aspect.

With Social Media you can reach a wider audience and that is why you’ve got get your social media plans right so that you reap the full SEO benefits of your article marketing efforts.

Further reading: Google 101

Have you ever tried article marketing?