Artificial intelligence helps scientists map behavior in the fruit fly brain

first_img Artificial intelligence helps scientists map behavior in the fruit fly brain Examples of eight fruit fly brains with regions highlighted that are significantly correlated with (clockwise from top left) walking, stopping, increased jumping, increased female chasing, increased wing angle, increased wing grooming, increased wing extension, and backing up. By Ryan CrossJul. 13, 2017 , 1:00 PM Kristin Branson Can you imagine watching 20,000 videos, 16 minutes apiece, of fruit flies walking, grooming, and chasing mates? Fortunately, you don’t have to, because scientists have designed a computer program that can do it faster. Aided by artificial intelligence, researchers have made 100 billion annotations of behavior from 400,000 flies to create a collection of maps linking fly mannerisms to their corresponding brain regions.Experts say the work is a significant step toward understanding how both simple and complex behaviors can be tied to specific circuits in the brain. “The scale of the study is unprecedented,” says Thomas Serre, a computer vision expert and computational neuroscientist at Brown University. “This is going to be a huge and valuable tool for the community,” adds Bing Zhang, a fly neurobiologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “I am sure that follow-up studies will show this is a gold mine.”At a mere 100,000 neurons—compared with our 86 billion—the small size of the fly brain makes it a good place to pick apart the inner workings of neurobiology. Yet scientists are still far from being able to understand a fly’s every move.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To conduct the new research, computer scientist Kristin Branson of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, and colleagues acquired 2204 different genetically modified fruit fly strains (Drosophila melanogaster). Each enables the researchers to control different, but sometimes overlapping, subsets of the brain by simply raising the temperature to activate the neurons.Then it was off to the Fly Bowl, a shallowly sloped, enclosed arena with a camera positioned directly overhead. The team placed groups of 10 male and 10 female flies inside at a time and captured 30,000 frames of video per 16-minute session. A computer program then tracked the coordinates and wing movements of each fly in the dish. The team did this about eight times for each of the strains, recording more than 20,000 videos. “That would be 225 straight days of flies walking around the dish if you watched them all,” Branson says.Next, the team picked 14 easily recognizable behaviors to study, such as walking backward, touching, or attempting to mate with other flies. This required a researcher to manually label about 9000 frames of footage for each action, which was used to train a machine-learning computer program to recognize and label these behaviors on its own. Then the scientists derived 203 statistics describing the behaviors in the collected data, such as how often the flies walked and their average speed. Thanks to the computer vision, they detected differences between the strains too subtle for the human eye to accurately describe, such as when the flies increased their walking pace by a mere 5% or less.“When we started this study we had no idea how often we would see behavioral differences,” between the different fly strains, Branson says. Yet it turns out that almost every strain—98% in all—had a significant difference in at least one of the behavior statistics measured. And there were plenty of oddballs: Some superjumpy flies hopped 100 times more often than normal; some males chased other flies 20 times more often than others; and some flies practically never stopped moving, whereas a few couch potatoes barely budged.Then came the mapping. The scientists divided the fly brain into a novel set of 7065 tiny regions and linked them to the behaviors they had observed. The end product, called the Browsable Atlas of Behavior-Anatomy Maps, shows that some common behaviors, such as walking, are broadly correlated with neural circuits all over the brain, the team reports today in Cell. On the other hand, behaviors that are observed much less frequently, such as female flies chasing males, can be pinpointed to tiny regions of the brain, although this study didn’t prove that any of these regions were absolutely necessary for those behaviors. “We also learned that you can upload an unlimited number of videos on YouTube,” Branson says, noting that clips of all 20,000 videos are available online.Branson hopes the resource will serve as a launching pad for other neurobiologists seeking to manipulate part of the brain or study a specific behavior. For instance, not much is known about female aggression in fruit flies, and the new maps gives leads for which brain regions might be driving these actions.Because the genetically modified strains are specific to flies, Serre doesn’t think the results will be immediately applicable to other species, such as mice, but he still views this as a watershed moment for getting researchers excited about using computer vision in neuroscience. “I am usually more tempered in my public comments, but here I was very impressed,” he says.last_img read more

VW board suspends R&D heads of core brand, Audi, Porsche

first_imgVolkswagen has suspended the R&D chiefs of its core VW brand, luxury division Audi and sports-car maker Porsche, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.The carmaker’s supervisory board last Friday agreed to put a number of employees on leave until the details of VW’s emissions cheating scandal were cleared up, without providing names.Reuters reported last Thursday that VW would fire top brand executives as it tries to recover from the scandal.Audi, VW and Porsche declined comment.last_img read more

DDCA row: Jaitley to sue Kejriwal, 5 other AAP leaders

first_imgNew Delhi, Dec 20 (PTI) Hitting back at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for making “false and defamatory” statements against him, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is slapping criminal and civil defamation cases against him and five other AAP leaders in Delhi courts tomorrow.Jaitley told PTI tonight that he has instructed legal team in his personal capacity to institute civil defamation cases in the Delhi High Court and criminal defamation cases in the Patiala House courts against Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee.He accused them of issuing false and defamatory statements against him and his family members.Jaitleys action comes in the backdrop of attacks on him by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over alleged irregularities and financial bunglings in Delhis cricket body, Delhi and District Cricket Association, of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders have publicly been making allegations against Jaitley with regard to the DDCA affairs although some of the allegations have gone beyond that.Jaitley has also rubbished allegations against his family members, saying, “I have no family member who has even one paise interest in any form of business. Why should my family be part of a sports management business?Jaitley has chosen not to give any legal notice to Kejriwal and other AAP leaders asking them to apologise or face defamation cases. Instead, the cases will be filed straightaway in the courts. (MORE) PTI MKR VMN VMNlast_img read more

Virat Kohli most valuable celebrity of 2018 with brand value of $170.9 Million

first_imgAdvertisementIndian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli is ranked No. 1 as the most valuable celebrity in India with an estimated brand value of $171 Million. He claimed the top spot for the second time in a row.The list was released by of Duff & Phelps, the global valuation and corporate finance advisors. His brand value is worth $170.9 Million, which is 185 more than it was last year.The celebrity cricketer and youth icon endorsed 24 brands as of November 2018. He is followed by Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, who is worth $102.5 Million in brand endorsements. She along with Virat Kohli are the only celeb with a brand value of $100 Million.Kohli was also ranked as the highest earning athlete according to Forbes. He made a staggering Rs 228.09 crore over the period of a year starting October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018.His contract with BCCI also gets him ₹7 crore per year and his IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore spent a whopping Rs 17 crore to keep him on their side.“While Bollywood celebrities dominate the top ranking of top 20 celebrities, sportspersons are providing tough competition with Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and PV Sindhu collectively contributing almost $241 million, which is over 27% of the cumulative brand value of the top 20 celebrities pegged at $877 million,” said Aviral Jain, MD, Duff & Phelps.With Kohli delivering his magic in the cricket field, his brand value will only rise in near future.ALSO READ:Virat Kohli remains on top as the highest earning athlete in India Advertisementlast_img read more

I have decided to leave Atletico Madrid: Antoine Griezmann

first_imgFrench striker Antoine Griezmann has told Atletico Madrid he will leave them in the close season, the Spanish club said on Twitter on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Griezmann has a contract until 2023 with Atletico, but has a buy out clause of 120million euros ($134million) and has been the target of several approaches from La Liga rivals Barcelona. “Antoine Griezmann has told the club he will not continue as a Rojiblanco (red and white, the club’s colours) next season,” the club said on Twitter. Within a few moments the player then posted a video explaining himself. “After speaking with Cholo (club coach Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to speak with you, the fans, who have always given me a lot of love,” said Griezmann, wearing a plain black t-shirt in front of a simple white background behind him. “I wanted to tell you I have taken the decision to leave,” said the French 2018 World Cup winner. “I have had five wonderful seasons here and you will always be in my heart,” said the affable forward known for doing dances from the video game Fortnite, when celebrating his goals. “The truth is it has been difficult to take this route but it is what I feel I need and I would like to thank all of you for the love you have shown me during these five years.” With 133 goals in 252 games at Atletico the attacker has been ever-present and has rarely been unfit or injured. He was a Champions League runner up in 2016, losing to arch-rivals Real Madrid. In 2018 however Atletico beat Marseille in the Europa League final. Griezmann finished third for the Ballon d’Or in 2016, after France lost in the final to Portugal at the European Championships and was a huge presence as Les Bleus romped to a memorable World Cup win at Russia 2018 after which he also finished third for the Ballon d’Or. Top Sports stories today Chris Gayle chooses yoga over gym in build up to World Cup 2019 Asking Indian players to have sex was a joke: Paddy Upton Have you seen these photos of Rahul Dravid with his wife, teammates? Cheeku, Tendlya, Polly, Gilly: Do you know these quirky nicknames of famous cricketers? No more hearings, VVS Laxman intimates ethics officer Kuldeep Yadav: IPL form will have no bearing on World Cup World Cup 2019: Go on Hardik Pandya… thrive now! T20: Panthers pounce on Eagles World Cup: MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma to be part of strategy pool, says Virat Kohli What is different in Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni’s captaincy styles? Jonty Rhodes speaks Shikhar Dhawan on being in constant touch with Rohit Sharma: He’s not my wife! Catch up on all the latest sports news and updates here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updateslast_img read more

My game is improving day by day: Umesh Yadav

first_imgPacer Umesh Yadav whose two crucial wickets helped India restrict England to 268/8 at stumps on the opening day of the third cricket Test, on Saturday felt that his game was improving with each passing day. (Scorecard)Yadav credited head coach Anil Kumble and batting coach Sanjay Bangar for motivating him to bowl with a clear plan, which he felt worked in his favour at the Punjab Cricket Association I.S. Bindra Stadium.Yadav, who regularly clocked past the 140 kmph-mark, first got rid of opening batsman Haseeb Hameed (9) and then bowled all-rounder Chris Woakes (25) with an almost unplayable delivery. (India vs England, Mohali Test, Day 1: As it happened)Asked about his impact ball, Yadav said he believed in keeping the ball near the off and middle stump, which makes most batsmen vulnerable before they get their eyes set on the game.”My game is improving day by day. I have just been working on my line and length,” Yadav said at the post-match presser. “Sanjay Bangar and Anil Kumble have been telling me to bowl with clear plans. The ball was swinging so I just wanted to hit the right areas.””I thought the ball reversed in a little too much so I tried to take it away too, but that didn’t happen,” he added.Yadav, however, defended some of India’s poor fielding efforts, specially off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who dropped a simple catch from England skipper Alastair Cook and then leaked a few runs by misfielding. (Mohali Test, Day 1: England crumble despite Bairstow’s 89)advertisement”Sometimes catches are dropped, but this is cricket. Sometimes your team-mates take good catches too.””We have some of the best fielders in the team, be it in India or among all the cricket-playing countries, but dropping catches and misfielding are part and parcel of the game,” he said.last_img read more

Reimagine [Almost] Everything: What Worked Before to What’s Right for Now

first_imgIn 2016, our industry continues to rapidly shift from TV-led to digitally led marketing, making it more important than ever for marketers to reimagine their approaches to marketing and take steps to move the industry forward.To kick off the new year, we’re sharing a page from our Marketing Leadership Playbook week by week, to help set marketers up for success in this digitally led era. This post marks the third of our Marketing Leadership Playbook blog content series “Reimagine (Almost) Everything.”****In Post III of our Series, our Chief Strategy Officer Lee Maicon reminds us that, “What got us here, won’t get us to where we need to go next.” Tweaking last year’s marketing plans for a version ‘2.0’ will not yield marketers the brand success they are capable of seeing in the digital age. We are in the age of new approaches, “Decisions can now be driven by real-world data, behaviors and cues, allowing marketers the flexibility to optimize performance in days where it once took years, and to create campaigns that are right for right now,” reports Lee. By treating strategy as constant set of decision making, marketers can tap into incredible opportunities to build larger brand audiences and deeper connections.Lee shares four ways for marketers to strategically get ahead in 2016, including tips on gathering decision making insights, takeaways from our client case studies, and inspiration around finding reasons for consumers to believe.Marketer Takeaways: Make Strategic Choices on Current Data. Consumers act, and their actions produce a wealth of data marketers can tap into for strategic planning. “These data points are often leading indicators for where the broader population is going and where brands need to be right now,” says Lee. He touches on the key tools and data trends for brands to consider for when developing a strategy, including social listening, search trends, and Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Plan for a Second Act. Don’t only plan for the possible negative contingencies, but set aside a fund for a ‘Part II’ or even ‘Part III’ for when campaign results come in positive. “Now more than ever, marketing ideas and activations need to exist as part of a bigger whole, a point along the path to telling a great story,” Lee shares.To download the full Playbook click here. To read more on how to reimagine digital as an organizational mindset, scroll to page 10.In case you missed it, be sure to check out Post I of the series: “Reimagine (Almost) Everything: Establishing New Success Metrics,” and Post II of the series: “Reimagine (Almost) Everything: Digital as an Organizational Mindset.”Cover photo via Huffington Post. Find Hidden Differentiators by Combining Feelings to Believe with Reasons to Believe. “Research continues to prove that even if a product or service can be differentiated in its rational qualities, or reasons to believe, people over time will not be convinced of its superiority,” says Lee. Brands must tap into consumers’ feelings to believe.center_img Provide Briefs That Focus on Business Problems Rather Than Tactical Outputs. Bad briefs are unfortunately far more common and typically too tactful. Lee shares the importance of developing briefs that focus on challenges brands are currently facing. “Strong briefs frame problems clearly first, provide insight into the consumer or category second, and then pose a strategic direction that can open up possible solutions.” Strong briefs lead to better ideas, which lead to better work.last_img read more

Are Summer Car Buyers More Patriotic? The Ten Most Popular 4th of July Car Purchases

first_imgHas an organization or university offered you an opportunity with a stipend? Whether it’s an internship or apprenticeship, a stipend is a set amount of money that helps offset living expenses. This fixed amount is financial support provided while you’re… Full Story,Truth is, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to college: new friends, a new routine, (college parties!), and more independence. But along with all these perks, it’s also time to start thinking about your finances…. Full Story,A routing number is a unique number that identifies a specific banking institution. Each routing number is made up of nine digits. Routing numbers are sometimes referred to as an American Banker’s Association routing transit number or an ABA RTN…. Full Story,It’s stressful enough having a car loan over your head and staying on top of your monthly payments. But what if you have an upside-down car loan — in other words, the amount you owe on your set of wheels… Full Story,When you’re trying to get your financial house in order, it’s easy to get lost in the specifics. You might stress about how to adjust your budget, where to find some extra cash for the holidays or what funds to… Full Story,Shortly after graduating from New York University with a Master’s degree, Melanie Lockert turned to food stamps, as she worked her way out of $81,000 in student loans. “There were a lot of emotions around carrying that debt. It caused… Full Story,Traveling is one of the best things in life, and luckily, low funds don’t have to dash your dreams of enjoying an epic adventure. A wealth of destinations—both in the U.S. and abroad—are so affordable that even hardcore penny pinchers… Full Story,While we don’t yet have flying cars that collapse to the size of a suitcase, pneumatic tubes that transport us from room to room or machines that automatically bathe and clothe us in the morning, every day we’re getting closer… Full Story,Times have changed since Grams and Gramps were your age, looking to settle down and buy their first home. But today the house with the white picket fence—or that trendy loft in downtown—isn’t completely out of the question if you… Full Story,We recently hosted a Twitter chat as part of our #RealTalkSeries. And let’s just say, things definitely got real. Many of you joined us to discuss “taboo” and cringe-worthy money questions such as how to improve a bad credit score,… Full Storylast_img read more

Mint.com Facebook Fan Q&A: Your Credit Questions, Part 2

first_imgFrom the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,There’s a specific conversation I frequently have with people around my age. As they get closer to middle adulthood and look back on everything they’ve learned about money, they start to wonder – why didn’t they teach us this stuff… Full Story,Depending on what you look for in a card, one of these may be a perfect fit your do-it-yourself projects. Follow along to learn more about these top five credit cards for DIYers. Full Story,In many ways, our credit determines our power as consumers. The strength of our credit profile and score enable us to rent an apartment, take out a car loan, and sign up for a cell phone number. Can you imagine… Full Story,Travel credit cards are available with a wide array of rewards, redemption options, fees, and bonuses. Weeding through so many general and branded travel rewards cards can be tough, so we picked out some favorites for a wide range of travel styles – so you can find the best travel credit card for your wallet.Full Story,Traveling abroad carries with it all sorts of potential credit issues. Some are just mildly annoying, but some can leave you stranded in Amsterdam, relying on the help of a broke friend you haven’t seen since high school. To avoid those issues and everything in between, here are some tips for using credit abroad. Full Story,The top reward credit cards cater to an array of desires. Whether you want to get cash back or earn miles and points toward free travel, the cards below are all a great place to get started.Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated by some of the links that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation… Full Storylast_img read more

Where to Find Free, Reputable Budget Help

first_imgGetting physically fit takes discipline, effort, and more than a little energy to get to where you want to be. Regularly moving your body and sticking to a fitness plan isn’t easy, and doing so is certainly commendable—and comes with… Full Story,Table of Contents Benefits of Working During Retirement Phased Retirement Types of Employment Recommended Jobs for Seniors  Resources for Seniors  Retirement looks different for everyone. Some people dream of playing golf and visiting their grandchildren, while others see it as… Full Story,A study conducted by Charles Schwab just last year found that three in five Americans live paycheck to paycheck, yet only one in four has a written financial plan. In fact, the majority of Americans are hesitant to receive any… Full Story,Life is unpredictable. Some days aren’t all sunshine, like when your car breaks down or your house needs a repair. These situations happen to everyone. That’s why it’s important to save while things are going well, so you can cover… Full Story,Structure is the key to growth. Without a solid foundation – and a road map for the future – it’s easy to spin your wheels and float through life without making any headway. Planning allows you to prioritize your time,… Full Story,Car accidents are not only scary but also a monumental hassle. That’s largely thanks to what comes after the accident itself.   After an accident, you’ll likely have to spend ample time on the phone with your insurer. Then there’s dealing… Full Story,If you’re a furloughed government employee, you are likely feeling a good deal of stress and uncertainty about how to manage your finances during the government shutdown. While missing a paycheck is a financial moment no one wants to experience,… Full Story,Buried underneath paying bills, digging out of a debt hole, and saving for your kids’ college is the marathon of money goals: retirement. Cue the fantasies of spending your days at a leisurely pace, working on The Great American Novel—at… Full Story,When I’m on top of finances, I’m all up in my money management apps, checking my balances and the swift progress I’ve been making on my savings goals. But when things aren’t going so hot? I’m like an ostrich with… Full Story,With all of today’s home-based tech gadgets and virtual personal assistants, smart homes are quickly becoming ubiquitous. And with high demand for connected products, so too comes ease of use, accessibility and affordability.   But as with all expenses, it’s important… Full Storylast_img read more

Tackling the Generation Gap of Money Management at the Future of Money & Technology Summit

first_imgMy birthday is on Halloween, so every year I get super excited. I plan what my costume will be, decide how I want to celebrate and text all my friends to let them know. Last year, I was finally able… Full Story,Technology has transformed the way we dine out in groups. Gone are the days when friends take turns treating each other to nights on the town. Now that apps make money accessible everywhere, tabs are paid down to the cent… Full Story,Occupation: Copywriter Industry: Digital Marketing Age: 29 Location: Indianapolis, IN Paycheck (BiWeekly): $2,100/mo after HSA and 401(k) removed Monthly Expenses: Rent: $462.50 Car lease: $300 Insurances: $85 All other expenses Utilities: $200/mo Pet supplies: $30/mo Phone: $50/mo Streaming services: $15/mo… Full Story,Occupation: Digital advertising Age: 30 Location: San Francisco Bay Area Income: $5,200 month net post 401K, health insurance / HSA, and taxes Total Debt: $0 Monthly Expenses: Rent and utilities: $1,800 Auto: $275 including car insurance Internet/mobile: $120 10:00 am:… Full Story,The holidays are time for family. Here are some fun ideas from our friends at Quotacy on how to make the most of this holiday season with your loved ones, with a bit of humor. ?   With the rise… Full Story,Occupation: Social Media Manager Industry: Digital Marketing Age: 26 Location: Indianapolis, IN Paycheck: $2,500/month after health/vision insurance deductions Monthly Expenses Rent: $700 Car Insurance: $65 Renters Insurance: $16 Utilities: $75 (Internet, Electric, Gas) Dental Insurance (not through work): $15 Hulu:… Full Story,On November 30th, The Financial Diet is kicking off their nationwide book tour for The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide To Getting Good With Money in New York.  Join us when the tour hits your city and don’t forget… Full Story,Occupation: Data Analyst Industry: Digital Marketing Age: 31 Location: Menlo Park, CA Paycheck (BiWeekly): $1,700 after auto-savings, 401k, ESPP purchase, renters & auto insurance and health care removed I have everything removed automatically as I have trouble with in-the-moment spending…. Full Story,Occupation: Account Services & Freelance Writer Industry: Digital Marketing Age: 39 Location: Longmont, CO Paycheck (3): $4,700/mo includes salary and three freelance clients (side hustles) Monthly Expenses Rent: $900 Car loan: $275 Credit card payment: $450 All other expenses… Full Story,If you’re still in college or a recent grad working with a limited budget, the idea of implementing a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming and very expensive. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself shelling out lots of cash… Full Storylast_img read more

21-Day Challenge: Hack Your Saving Habits

first_imgWEEK 3 – Hone New HabitsThe home stretch of our 21-Day Challenge is all about the little things. Making small, subtle changes in your daily life and routine can lead to big savings over time.Slay some vampiresCut your electricity bill by unplugging “vampire appliances” that suck up power even when they’re not being used.Stop Paying for “Standby”: If you only use your printer, stereo, or video game console a few times a week, don’t leave those bad boys plugged in day and night. The same goes for any appliance with a digital clock or standby mode.Unplug Your Internet: No one at home surfing the web while you’re at work? Wireless routers rack up kilowatt hours faster than just about any other appliance. Turn off or unplug your modem and router before leaving home and you could save a chunk of change.Adjust Your Temps: Turn off your heater’s pilot light during warmer months, and learn to use your thermostat’s built-in timer to reduce your bill. Raising your refrigerator temp a few degrees can also make a measureable difference in your electricity usage.Go swapping, not shoppingItching for something new in your life? Instead of whipping out your wallet, tap into your network of friends, family and coworkers to find a slew of items you can breathe new life into.Exchange Entertainment: See if any of your friends are open to trading books, DVDs or video games.Purge, Not Splurge: Take items you haven’t worn in a year to a thrift store or consignment shop, some of which offer store credit for something new to you.Trade Your Threads: Rather than hitting up the mall, organize a clothing swap to trade outfits and accessories with your friends.Financial freedom starts todayStart Mint’s 21-Day Challenge today and see how much of a difference you can make on your bank account’s bottom line. Tweet or comment about your cost-reduction strategies this month, and stay tuned for our recap.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related WEEK 2 – Cut Off Some Companies Making a few quick phone calls during the second week of this 21-Day Challenge might save hundreds on recurring expenses, and save you a mountain of money over the years.Explore your optionsOdds are that a talking gecko and an aproned brunette have been jockeying for your insurance dollars for quite some time. Maybe one of them can save you some scratch?Inquire about Insurance: Collect quotes from competing insurance companies to see if another company offers you a better deal.Channel Your Inner De Niro: Test your acting skills by threatening to cancel your cable or cell service because your bill’s too high. Most companies will cut you a deal before letting you leave.Chat up Creditors: Got credit card debt? Call up your card issuer and ask for a reduced rate, or transfer your balance if it means long-term savings.Break up with brandsWhy buy the paper towels with the highest thread count or use the same sandwich bags as the Kardashians, when brand XYZ does the same job? Choosing store-brand products is an effective cost-cutting method that can save you a bundle at checkout.Focus on Price, Not Packaging: From paper towels and cleaning supplies to painkillers, opt for more affordable off-brand products on your next trip to the store.Ditch some subscriptionsNow that you’ve watched Beyoncé’s Lemonade, do you still need that subscription to Tidal? Canceling your underused memberships could supercharge your savings.List Your Memberships: Make a list of any subscriptions or memberships that renew on a monthly or annual basis. Only keep the ones you can’t live without.Flex for Free: Instead of renewing your gym membership, exercise outdoors, or take advantage of free or donation-based classes offered by many yoga studios and gyms.Opt Out of Annual Fees: If you have a lengthy credit history and not a lot of debt, consider canceling any credit cards with an obligatory annual fee. If you dream of having a baller bank account and the freedom to kick back without a financial worry in the world, it’s possible to hack your spending habits until you’re sitting on a comfy cushion of cash. And since studies show most of us can adopt new, long-lasting behaviors after just three weeks, you could be well on your way to a richer life by the end of the month.Let go of any worries about your bank account balance, and start living your best life today. We challenge you to take the next 21 days to establish new spending habits! Which of these money-saving ideas will YOU commit to?WEEK 1 – Establish a BaselineStart the 21-Day Challenge by figuring out where you stand financially and which expenses you can temporarily trim without shocking your system.Identify what’s dragging you down Take a good look at last month’s expenses to get an idea of how much you spent and what you bought. Budgeting apps like Mint can help you by importing and categorizing your electronic transactions in minutes, making it easy to spot areas where you’re overspending.Identify Unnecessary Expenses: Keep an eye out for businesses you regularly spend small sums of money with and put them on a blacklist. Keep that list on your phone or in your wallet.Don’t Tempt Fate: Avoid temptation by not carrying cash or taking a different route to work.Buy needs, not wantsIt’s no secret that the best way to save money is to cut out impulse shopping, and only buy absolute necessities.Feast Affordably: Go food shopping once a week and stick to the list you brought with you. Eat breakfast at home, pack your lunch for work and prepare dinner in your own oven.Pass on Premium Products: From clothing to electronics to the type of gas you put in your tank, skip the top-shelf items in favor of their more-affordable alternatives.Use what you’ve gotAnother great way to cut expenses is to be resourceful about what you’ve got lying around the house. You don’t need to start making your own soap like you’re the newest member of Fight Club, but you’ve likely got some stuff you could be putting to good use.Expand Your Recipe Repertoire: Make homemade meals using sites like MyFridgeFood.com that let you to plug in the ingredients you have before telling you what recipes you’re equipped to cook.Pay in Other Ways: Don’t eat out anywhere without a coupon or gift card.Enjoy Entertainment You Own: Skip the theater this week and dust off an old DVD instead. Or start reading a new book if it’s been a while since you cracked one open.center_img Post navigationlast_img read more

All About Credit: Misconceptions from users on all things credit

first_imgMyth #1: Checking my report will lower my score.There’s some misunderstanding around the impact of checking credit score and/or reports. It is true that if a lender or card company checks your credit, as part of evaluating your application for a loan or card, the inquiry is considered a ‘hard inquiry’ and can have a negative impact on your score. But when YOU check your report, this is recorded as a “soft inquiry,” and does not impact your score. Bottom line: You can check your report as often as you like, worry free.Myth #2: It’s not a good idea to pay off my balance every month.I heard this fallacy in my young adult years and it continues to come up in conversations today. Some individuals – for example, a couple listeners of my podcast – have written in and said they’ve heard it’s better to carry a monthly balance on your credit card bill. They think it’s a way to increase your credit score. While it is true that you should “use” your credit card responsibly to establish strong credit, some mistakenly think that means you should “use” the card by “carrying a balance,” because that shows “activity.” The truth is that it’s best to pay off your card in full – and on time – each billing cycle. Otherwise, you end up paying interest. Carrying a balance can also negatively impact your credit score. Your debt to credit ratio is 30% of your credit score. The lower your debt level, the lower your ratio can be. And that is, ultimately, better for your score.Myth #3: My age and income impact my credit score.False and false. It is true that the longer your credit history is, the better it is for your credit score. But your age, on its own, is not what matters. Someone who’s 85 years old who just opened up his first credit card won’t necessarily have a higher score than someone who’s 30 years old with a ten year history of managing credit. In fact, the person with the decade-long credit history – all other factors equal – would presumably have the higher score. [The length of your credit history is equal to 15% of your credit score.] And it may be true that those with higher incomes can better afford to stay out of debt – which, in turn, keeps the credit score in good shape. But neither variable directly impacts your credit score.Myth #4: You can get a free credit score and credit report each year for free.It is true that the law requires us to have free access to our credit reports once a year, but not credit scores. Again, because the terms “score” and “report” get used interchangeably from time to time, we think they’re one and the same. Your score is a three-digit number (between 300 and 850) that takes into account the details on your credit report such as your payment history, length of credit history and the variety of credit you have. You can receive your free credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. There you can access one free annual copy of your report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Myth #6: My credit only matters when I’m applying for a loan or credit card.Plan to rent an apartment? Sign up for high speed Internet at home? Apply for a job? Your credit can play a pivotal role in many scenarios outside of applying for a loan or credit card. Landlords can ask to review your credit history before agreeing to lease you an apartment. They, of course, want to make sure that you are financially responsible and tend to pay your bills on time. Your cable or utility company also wants to be sure you don’t have a pattern of paying late – or never. And as we already covered, some companies that work with valuables or large sums of money (think: banks, jewelers, etc.) like to take a peek at your credit history to see if you might be financially stressed. If you are, that may be seen as a hiring risk. In recent years, I’ve been really focused on bringing credit education to consumers. It’s a popular time to be thinking about improving our credit scores and how to take advantage of credit to accomplish goals, with interest rates at still-historically low levels and consumers feeling more confident about their personal finances and jobs.In general, we’re feeling better about our futures (at least in the short-term) and that’s motivating us to think more seriously about achieving goals – whether to buy a home, start a business, go back to school or all of the above. And many big goals carry big price tags, the sort that might warrant the use of credit.Yet at the same time, there’s a serious lack of knowledge of how credit scores get calculated and when and how credit plays a role in one’s financial life. A new survey by the Consumer Federation of America finds that many of us still don’t understand the details surrounding credit scores.I’ve also witnessed a similar pattern in examining people’s credit habits and behaviors over the past two years in partnership with the team at Chase Slate.Through our observations and work together, I’ve learned about some of the specific misconceptions. Many of us are also pretty unhappy with our credit ratings. A survey Chase Slate did this year found that one-third of Americans are dissatisfied with their credit score and 28% say they aren’t confident their current score can help them accomplish their goals. Both of these stats show an increase from last year.But, really. Can you blame us?There are definitely some distorted facts out there. And with so much financial illiteracy in schools, consumers are learning the hard way in the real world about how credit really functions – and why it matters for our bottom lines.Here are 6 top credit myths I come across frequently – debunked. Post navigationcenter_img Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit  your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at editor_mint@intuit.com.Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related Myth #5: My boss can check my score.This is one of the most widely misreported details about credit scores I read about and hear from consumers. While some employers do ask for your permission to conduct a credit background check as part of the application process [and they must get your approval ahead of time], they’re only reviewing your credit history — not your credit score. The terms credit “report” and credit “score” sometimes get used interchangeably, as if they’re the same thing.  They’re not!last_img read more

The 13-Day Astronaut’s Diet Can Help You Lose Weight and Eliminate Stomach Issues

first_imgThe Astronaut’s Diet can help us to accelerate our metabolism and slim down. Don’t worry, there’s no need to go into space to follow this diet! Just follow these instructions and start feeling as light as you would in zero gravity!We have learned about this easy diet that has a jaw-dropping effect.How does it work?Real astronauts don’t use this diet, but only ladies with an astronaut’s restraint will be able to stick to it because of the number of foods they have to give up. The diet of astronauts is quite ascetic and consists almost entirely of protein products. Fiber and carbohydrates are significantly minimized.Also, you’ll need to decrease your daily calorie intake . Thanks to the high amount of protein you’ll be eating, this diet contributes to rapid weight loss without causing harm to the muscles.Reduce the consumption of these products:Try to avoid these products:Sodas and fruit juicesAlcohol (mainly because it contains sugar)Salt and sugarStarchy vegetables (potatoes, beets, parsnips, and carrots)Rice and pastaBread and cereals (no more pizza…)Smoked meat productsEat more of these products:Eat fish instead of beef, and eggs instead of ham. Mix in these foods as well:Mushrooms;Eggs;Fish and chicken;Tomatoes and cucumbers;Lettuce and cabbage;Broccoli, cauliflower and green beans;Pumpkin;Salad;Cheese and tofu;Vegan milk (almond, rice, soy);Others products that aren’t on the “restricted list”.MenuTake a look at this example menu and try to adopt some of these meals as your own.Breakfast: Two boiled or roasted eggs + one cup of coffee without milk or sugar.Lunch: Half a chicken of medium size with half a liter of chicken broth (in which it was cooked) + salad with tomatoes and mushrooms + a glass of soy milk or black coffee.Snack: One cup of orange or green tea.Dinner: A glass of almond milk, fish and 150 grams of tofu.You can replace tofu with cottage cheese, chicken with fish, coffee with green tea, and an orange with an apple.An important noteDon’t ignore vitamins and minerals. Also, be sure to walk or run daily and drink plenty of water (up to 2 liters a day).How to eliminate stomach issuesIf you suffer from digestive problems, know that they can be improved after making some lifestyle changes. And the suggested diet can help here too.The most important thing to do is reduce or eliminate simple carbohydrates (sugar, pasta, white bread, fruit juice, alcohol, etc.). Because when the digestive system is out of balance, high-glycemic carbs and sugar tend to ferment in the colon. This can be the reason for bloating and gas.It’s even possible to heal irritable bowel syndrome using a high-protein diet in addition to other diet tips.Just follow these pieces of advice:Stay hydrated throughout the day.Avoid fried, spicy and fatty foods, sweeteners, black tea, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.Don’t smoke.Eat more prunes.Try probiotics.Don’t lie down after eating.Cook with olive oil instead of butter.Sleep well.Try drinking soothing tea like chamomile, mint, and ginger.Sourcelast_img read more

Must-Read Inbound Marketing Predictions and Resolutions for the New Year

first_img 11 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2010 Rand Fishkin 3. The same goes for your company.  How will it live up to the changes the new year will bring?  What kinds of Hungry for more 2010 prophecies?  Social Media B2B offers an even bigger list of prediction articles at . Social Media B2B , a prominent Internet marketing trend resource, with insights into the future of monetization models, the effect of transparency on advertising, social and search, mobile, social commerce, Gazing into his SEO crystal ball, Rand pulls out 8 of his own guesses for the new year.  Discussing recent trends, he attempts to predict what’s to come, including the fading of the real-time search fad, the continuation of personalized search, a merger between Yahoo! and Bing, and a dramatic increase in SEO spending. To help guide small businesses’ http://bit.ly/6HAx4M public relations eMarketer mastering Twitter lists He stresses that in 2010, social media will begin to creep more and more into the sales funnel, resulting in a more social media savvy sales team and increased support from social media in lead generation.   .  Learn more about inbound marketing and how to combine blogging, SEO and social media for results. Learn from others’ marketing mistakes, yet don’t be afraid to try something new. , social advertising, Twitter, 2. Author: Lesson: Lee reflects on the 2010 predictions of #Marketing2010 of Among my favorites: journalists will pitch PR, social media will backfire on a political candidate and the Master’s Golf Tournament will trigger another outbreak of articles about Tiger Woods.  Some interesting thoughts, but of course, take them all with a grain of salt.  8 Predictions for SEO in 2010 for 2010, Mashable offers some great ideas of sample resolutions.  At the top of this list?  Reflect on industry trends.  Jennifer encourages you to evaluate the major trends of 2009 that occurred in your industry and adopt some of the techniques that worked.  Originally published Jan 1, 2010 8:08:00 AM, updated July 18 2013 Jennifer Van Grove Lee Odden inbound marketing goals Kipp’s list focuses on the future of social media.  While social media was definitely a marketing/communications hot topic in ’09, Kipp thinks 2010 will involve a shift in spotlight to more clearly connecting social media to business objectives and better understanding how to measure the direct and indirect Author: Expect the unexpected. 4. Lou Hoffman of Read HubSpot’s predictions inbound marketing kit ROI of social media or tweet your own using hashtag Lesson: Recent trends can sometimes help predict the changes to come. Some other ideas include setting new social media goals, going local by finding smart ways of incorporating location data, SEOmoz . Lesson: eMarketer: 12 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2010 Download our Inbound Marketing Kit Lesson: 1. 5. Author: Author: Lesson: . Author: PR-Squared social media/online strategies Prepare your business for the new year video 5 New Year’s Resolutions for SMBs Expect to see more use of interactive mobile marketing in 2010. of . Mashable Social media isn’t just a marketing tool.  of 2010 Predictions for Communications will your business set to rise above the competition and become top-of-mind for its prospects and customers?  To help you answer these questions, we’ve compiled a list of 5 must-read articles written by fellow bloggers who are also trying to prepare for the new year.    Lou will make you smile with his tongue-in-cheek 2010 forecast for the communications industry, guest posted on Todd Defren’s blog.  TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog Some of eMarketer’s interesting ideas include an increase in the Internet usage of the 55+ demographic, an expansion of social ad networks, the move of mobile into the mainstream and increased website transparency which will undermine online ad efforts. and mom/pop Internet usage — you name it!  Kipp Bodnar on and experimenting with new ideas. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Data Feed

first_img product_type value that Google offers As with any reviews, this helps to build consumer confidence in your listings which will in turn improve click through rates on Google Shopping. Optimizing your product_type column enables Google to place your products in the appropriate categories and funnel more qualified leads to your store.  Make sure that your product_types are formatted correctly before submitting your Google Shopping feed. Add the ‘>’ symbol to the end Yahoo.com Optimize Keywords in Product Titles and Descriptions . Including robust keywords in your product titles and descriptions can help to improve your visibility on Google Shopping.  Make sure that you’re sending compelling product descriptions that utilize the keywords that will drive traffic to your ecommerce site. Add the following columns to your Google Shopping feed Troubleshoot Data Feed Errors TrustPilot.com Confirm that this is the product you want the UPC for Perform a somewhat generic search for one of your products on Google Shopping Add Rich Snippets to your Google Shopping Feed Add Trusted Merchant Reviews Add UPCs to the GTIN column in your Google Shopping feed and you’re all set.   Google Checkout Epinions.com Include Custom Attributes Enhance the appeal of your product listings on Google Shopping by including rich snippets to your data feed.   Rich Snippets are basically product reviews that are displayed alongside your products.  If your webpages have individual product reviews, then you can include this info in your data feed to Google Shopping. ResellerRatings.com Advertising products on Google Shopping is a great way for ecommerce merchants to generate new leads and compete for traffic and sales outside of Google’s Organic Search.  Just as a site owner would optimize his webpages for SEO, there are steps that ecommerce merchants can take to optimize their data feed and improve their return on Google Shopping. “How To Promote Your Products On Google” If you rank well for keywords organically, chances are you’ll rank well for them in Google Shopping as well. ReviewCentre.com ViewPoints Click the Compare Prices button for the item that corresponds to the item you’re looking for SEO Resources RateItAll.com Bizrate.com for their products, but they can still submit additional product information via custom attribute columns.   Address and fix the listed issues Optimize the Product_Type Column Click on the Data Quality tab to see errors and warnings that have been flagged by the Google Product Search team Add the rel=”canonical” link element to each one of your product pages Add more specific categories from your internal categorization until you’ve reached the desired level of detail Let Google know that you’re submitting Rich Snippets in your data feed CPC Strategy This sounds like common sense, and it is, but it requires a certain level of attention that many ecommerce merchants just aren’t giving to their Google Shopping feeds.  Make sure to log in to your Google Merchant Center frequently to make sure that your data feed isn’t being rejected or resulting in errors. presented by CPC Strategy’s CEO, Rick Backus, and HubSpot. Depending on market competition and availability of UPCs for your products, adding UPCs to your data feed can improve visibility on Google Shopping.  By adding UPCs to your data feed, your listings will be included on comparison pages with bigger sellers that often outrank product listings from smaller sellers. instead.    register for the upcoming webinar entitled Leverage keywords that you already rank well for in Organic Search tips for finding useful keywords for your site Ecommerce merchants should be confident in the level of customer service they offer.  Start collecting surveys from customers in order to build your brand and improve your visibility on Google Shopping. Product_Review_Count Here are Insert a “c:” in front of the column title The following article is a guest post by David Weichel of CPC Strategy. To learn more about Add UPCs Enhancing your product titles and descriptions with this kind of keyword data will help your listings to compete on Google Shopping’s results pages.   If you don’t have UPC values stored away in a database somewhere, try researching your products on Google Shopping to see if you can find them.  Here’s how: Originally published Jun 16, 2011 1:57:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Product_Review_Average So, your custom attribute column should look like this:”c:custom_attribute_name” Identify and include keywords that you should be competing for. Start with the most relevant, detailed PriceGrabber.com Topics: list of required and recommended attributes Below is an example of a Rich Snippet in Google Shopping’s OneBox. To create a custom attribute column for your Google Shopping feed, all you need to do is: Log in to your Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Scroll down to the Details section where you’ll find the UPC, Brand and Part Number Adding merchant reviews is a surefire way to improve visibility on Google Shopping in the long term.  Positive reviews help to establish consumer confidence and are looked upon favorably by Google Shopping’s ranking algorithm. Google Merchant Center Including this basic review info enables Google to display Rich Snippets for your listings in Google’s OneBox results.  If you have product reviews on your site, all you need to do is: If Google’s taxonomy is not quite as specific as your store’s internal categorization, you can extend the taxonomy tree to include your level of detail.   Add the desired column with the appropriate column title and values Merchants are also encouraged to include multiple product_type values if your items qualify.  You can do this by simply placing each value within double quotations and separating them with a comma. Below are a few major US review sites trusted by Google: Making sure that you’re submitting quality data is essential to running a successful campaign on Google Shopping.  Whenever you are making changes to your data feeds, you should make sure that the new changes aren’t creating any issues in the Google Merchant Center.  All a merchant’s efforts to improve and optimize his data feeds for Google Shopping are futile if it only results in more errors and poorer data quality. Google provides eCommerce merchants with a Including the custom attribute information in your data feed enables your products to show up for more long tail searches on Google Shopping. The Product_Type column is Google’s taxonomy, or category, column.  Ecommerce merchants will often fill this column with their own internal categorization.  While these values are considered valid, we’ve seen notable improvements in traffic by simply adhering to Google’s unique product_type valueslast_img read more

How to Create a Google+ Business Page in 5 Simple Steps

first_img Topics: Originally published Nov 8, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Google has announced the launch of Google+ Pages, pages specifically engineered for businesses on Google+. While Google indicated that Google+ Pages wouldn’t be immediately accessible to all, it looks like they’re actually becoming readily available. (In fact, we’ve already created HubSpot’s Google+ Page, so you can follow our updates and add HubSpot to one of your Circles by clicking here!)With a network of more than 40 million members, Google+ is indeed deserving of your marketing attention, so smart marketers should set up their Google+ Pages as soon as possible. But don’t worry — it’s simple! Here are 5 easy steps to create a Google+ Page for your business.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.1. Choose an Accessible Gmail AccountIf we learned anything from creating our own account, it’s that Google+ Pages’ administrative capabilities could use improvement. Avoid creating your business page through just any old account, such as a personal gmail account. Instead, choose a gmail account that is accessible to multiple members of your marketing team (e.g. companymarketingteam@gmail.com), and use that account to create your page. Because Google+ Pages’ administrative capabilities currently don’t seem to be as sophisticated as Facebook’s (which enable you to assign multiple page admins regardless of the page’s origins), you’ll want to choose a host account that makes your page as accessible to multiple contributors as possible.Note: Because of overwhelming user feedback, the ‘Google+ Your Business’ Google+ Page (confused yet?) has indicated that Google+ has already started working on multi-admin support and ownership transfer, which will be available in the coming weeks/months. For now, we recommend making your account as accessible to other team members as possible.2. Create a Page with the Desired AccountVisit http://plus.google.com/pages/create, and if you see the option to create a Google+ Page, get started! Follow the wizard (it’s much like Facebook’s Page wizard), and choose the most appropriate option to classify your business. You’ll be able to select from the following options:Local Business or PlaceProduct or BrandCompany, Institution or OrganizationArts, Entertainment or SportsOtherAfter selecting your classification, fill in your basic information, including your page name (i.e. your company name), your business’ website URL, your category (i.e. your industry), and the classification of your page’s content (i.e. any Google+ user, 18 years of age or older, etc.).3. Customize Your Public ProfileThe third step involves customizing your public profile. The profile basics include your tagline (think of it as your business’ elevator pitch) and an image (your company logo is a great option).4. Promote Your PageAt this point, you’ve created the skeleton of your page, and Google+ will now prompt you to promote your page. Our recommendation is to customize your page even further and start sharing a few updates before you begin telling the world about it. Promoting a blank page isn’t a great way to convince people that your Page is valuable enough to add to their Circles. So invest some time into optimizing your page and sharing a few links to valuable content before you start promoting it to the masses.5. Get Going!At the most basic level, this is really all you need to do to get your page launched. But as any smart marketers know, the ‘basics’ aren’t usually enough. Intelligent marketers understand the importance of optimizing their page to make it not only more engaging, but also more valuable and effective for lead generation. In this step, follow Google+’s prompts to create an effective page, and remember — Google+ is a social network. Although every social network has its specific nuances and behaviors, many of the same best practices will still apply. Regularly share fresh content, react and respond to your fans, be engaging, and optimize for lead generation. Then measure, adapt your strategy, and optimize your presence based on your own individual results and goals.Have you set up your Google+ Page yet? The network is still VERY new for businesses, so share what you’ve learned in the comments below. And be sure to add HubSpot to your Circles for our latest updates in Google+! LinkedIn Company Pageslast_img read more

Facebook Fans Are Hiding Your Posts, and Other Marketing Stories of the Week

first_imgHappy Columbus Day weekend, marketers!Do you have fun plans for your bonus day? Although you’re probably kicking back with family and friends, we didn’t want you to forget about the important marketing updates that are going on around you.So instead of scrambling to read through hundreds of RSS feeds before work on Tuesday, take a look at this roundup of top marketing stories of the week.Your Facebook Fans Are Hiding Your Posts At An Alarming Rate, From Fast CompanyAre you more concerned with earning page likes or engaging the audience you already have on Facebook? If you chose page likes over engagement, you might want to be careful. Fast Company reported that. “1 out of 50 post views gets a negative response and Facebook fans are most likely to block ALL your page stories when they take a negative feedback action, 60 times more likely than unfanning your page.” Uh oh. So what does this mean for marketers? It means that you need to start focusing more on quality and less on quantity [of people who like your page]. Just because your brand has a lot of fans, doesn’t mean all of those fans are actually seeing your content. Focus on quality, keep a close eye on your frequency to make sure you’re not wearing out your fans, and always be experimenting with new types of content. To learn more tips on how you can engage your Facebook audience, read the full story from Fast Company here.New LinkedIn Company Pages Are Finally Rolled Out to EVERYONEDo you remember when LinkedIn announced the launch of their new Company Page designs on September 6th? With this announcement, only a select few brands actually had access to these new designs. Well now, this new design has rolled out to all brands! Do you know what that means? It’s time to get your own Company Page updated and optimized to suit the new look. If you need some help learning the ins and outs of the new Company Page designs, be sure to consult the Step-by-Step Guide to LinkedIn’s New Company Pages with tips and screenshots that show you exactly how you can leverage these changes in your marketing. In addition, make sure you check out the 5 examples of the new LinkedIn Company Pages here.Tumblr Finally Gives Marketers Access to Analytics, From MashableData is a marketer’s best friend. So when brands and marketers don’t have an analytics dashboard to consult to see what’s working and what’s not, they feel pretty lost. Have you been feeling this way with Tumblr? Well not to worry, because Tumblr has finally given marketers what they’ve been looking for all along: an analytics dashboard specifically for their Tumblr activities. Marketers can now use Tumblr’s preferred third-party analytics provider, Union Metrics, as a way to keep track of popular content, engagement levels, trends, and influential contributors and curators. The Union Metrics service will remain as ‘invite-only’ until November 2012, according to Mashable. Will you start leveraging Tumblr’s new analytics as soon as they are available to you? To learn more about this update, you can read the full story here.Now You Can Follow LinkedIn Influencers, No Connection Required, From Marketing LandIt seems like LinkedIn is making changes left and right! First Company Pages get a face lift, and now users have the ability to follow top industry leaders and influencers through their personal profiles. For now, users can only choose from a list of 150 influencers to follow, but this list will be expanding over time. You can see that a person is an influencer when you see a ‘Follow’ button instead of ‘Connect.’ If you have always aimed to be a thought leader in your industry, now is the time to develop that thought leadership! Once this option rolls out to more influencers, don’t you want employees at your company to be included in that list? If you’re interested in learning more about this new ‘following’ feature on LinkedIn, you should read the full story here.New Research Shows Email Marketing is Not Dead, From Social Media ExplorerYou might have heard rumors that social media will kill email. Well, according to research from Social Media Explorer, this is simply not true. In a recent survey, a representative sample of over 3,000 American social media users 12 and older were asked if they read email from brand products or companies. Of those who responded, 61 percent say that yes, they do read those emails. Does this surprise you? Were you expecting more branded emails to be chucked into the spam folder or deleted without even being opened? We have always said that email marketing is arguably the most powerful channel for lead generation, so make sure you’re not underestimating this medium in your marketing! Are you interested to learn more from this survey? You can read the full story from Social Media Explorer here.Did you encounter any other interesting marketing stories this week? Share them in the comments!Image credit: kzirkel Facebook Engagement Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 7, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Topics:last_img read more

5 Shipping Ideas to Amp Up Customer Delight

first_imgOnce the order is placed and the price paid, your job is to make sure the customer receives their goods in one piece and in a timely manner. Beyond that, nothing else is required. Does that mean you should stop there? Not if you want people to talk about you (in a good way). Ensuring customer delight is the only way to build a brand that people trust and share.If you’ve tweaked every other aspect of your company and are looking for one more way to surprise and enamor your buyers, take a look at your shipping policies. Here are some ideas that could totally change your game.Clever PackagingA box isn’t the only way to get your products from the warehouse to the customer’s hands. If you’re selling items that aren’t breakable, consider changing up the packaging materials for something that’s unique and fits your brand. Good, sturdy bags work well for clothing. Fun box shapes may be necessary for items that are too delicate for bags but don’t require a big box full of packing peanuts.These packages will quickly identify your company in the future. Recipients will share images of their cute and clever packages before they tear in. That kind of brand recognition is even more valuable than the money you made on the sale.Thank You Note A heartfelt “thank you” will never go wrong. Whether you include a hand-written card, close the box with a thank-you sticker, or slip in a pre-printed slip of paper, the note will hit the mark every time.It’s not that customers expect a thank you note. In fact, their lack of expectation is what makes the note such a thrilling surprise. The outcome is a pleased customer who won’t hesitate to tell others about your company’s kindness and consideration.PresentationYou could toss the purchased item into an envelope or box, seal it up, and send the package on its way. That’s what most other ecommerce companies would do. Where’s the pride in that kind of delivery, though? What makes opening the package special for the recipient?With some attention to presentation, you could make sure the products arrive looking neat and orderly. Perhaps secure items with ribbon or raffia. Arrange products so that they look more like a display and less like an order fulfillment. The customers will love the experience and look forward to every delivery from your company.Surprise GiftsSurprise gifts are probably the fastest and easiest way into a customer’s heart. Whether you include coupons for savings on their next purchase, free samples of upcoming products, or just a special product that shows how grateful you are, the buyer will love that gift almost as much as their original purchase.FreeThere’s nothing a buyer likes more than free shipping. It’s not an inexpensive prospect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a free shipping policy that makes everyone happy. Consider providing shipping for buyers who spend a certain amount. If you want to make free shipping available for every purchase, you might consider a small markup on every item to defray some of the cost.Would you be willing to put some of these new shipping policies into practice? If you already use some of these ideas, let us know how your customers love them. We’re excited to share results to help others learn.photo credit: Birchbox 2 via photopin (license) Topics: Ecommerce Marketing Originally published Aug 19, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

4 Tips for Competing with Mega Stores This Holiday Season

first_img Ecommerce Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Would you believe that 15% of midsize businesses won’t spend any additional marketing money this holiday season? When you consider that many of the efforts made will place them up against some of the biggest names in ecommerce, it’s easy to see why they’d rather just go along with business as usual. To compete with the big guys, you’d have to have a mega budget for promotions. Or, you could try some of these tips and stay in the game.Free ShippingThe all-time, number one reason for abandoned carts is the cost of shipping. If you’re offering great deals on all the products in your store, you may just get those customers in the door. What happens when they add everything to their shopping cart, click through to pay, and see that the cost of shipping nearly doubles their spend? If you guess that they leave your site and go check Amazon to take advantage of the free shipping that comes with a Prime membership, you guessed right. Now, offering free shipping is a big commitment. It’s going to cost you. Consider offering shipping over a certain dollar threshold if you can’t afford to give it away.Abandoned Cart OffersIf someone still abandons their shopping cart even after you’ve offered free shipping, you’ve really got a problem on your hands. What can you do when they walk away anyway? Well, if you’ve got a program in place to go after those cart abandoners, then you can still reel them back in.See, many shoppers have every intention of buying… eventually. You may just need to give them a subtle reminder that their cart is waiting. An email letting them know they forgot to finish the purchase is a good first step. Make sure to include a picture of the item to really pique their interest. Add urgency by highlighting the limited supply or an upcoming shipping deadlines. If those buyers still don’t come back, then you may consider offering a special deal on those particular items just to get the buyer to make the purchase. In most cases, the initial reminder is all you need.Loyalty RewardsDuring the holiday season, people will buy left and right. What if you offered them the chance to accrue points for prizes or discounts? An easy-to-register rewards program could mean they’ll come back to you for their next purchase just to see their points balance increase.Now, the important phrase here is “easy-to-register.” If you require massive amounts of information before the customer can enroll, then you’ll lose them all. If they’ve already entered their payment information, then you should have all the data you need. Don’t make them do it all over again, and you’ll see a spike in enrollment.Discounts by Percentage or by DollarWhether you offer a percent off or a dollar amount off of purchases, the outcome is almost always the same: a purchase. During your regular marketing routine, you may wait until buyers are further along in the buying journey to offer a discount of any kind. During the holidays, however, there’s no time to waste. You have to show your hand right away.Before you get too excited about offering discounts on your products, you have to consider a few things. First, if the customers who take advantage of the savings have never shopped with you before, will they equate the discount with the quality of your products? Worse, will they expect a discount every time they shop with you in the future? That’s why discounts should be a last resort, but when you’re competing with the big guys, you sometimes have to give in.You can keep up with the big stores without spending piles of money, but you have to commit to the promotion. There are ways to compete without spending much at all, such as fine-tuning your SEO, creating and promoting plenty of content, and taking over social media platforms. When you do these things to hook a buyer, though, you may need something to reel them in. Topics: Originally published Dec 16, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more