In the Clouds

Cloud Computing and Software as a Service

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Cloud computing is the future—no doubt …

The latest stop for the Cloudfest 2011 tour occurred in Washington, DC yesterday. I went, convinced that I knew all about cloud computing and its advantages for businesses.

In the process of being at the conference, sponsored by, and absorbing a bunch of information (as well as my shirt absorbing sweat; it was 95+ degrees outside and very high humidity), I more-or-less confirmed the former, but found out that I fell far, far short in the latter.

So, what can cloud computing do for your business? And what the heck does it have to do with inbound marketing and Web development?

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On the Web, and In It

graphic of Small Business Websites - Effective, InexpensiveInexpensive, effective websites for small business: I hadn’t planned on the topic of small businesses and Websites turning into a two-part series. But after I wrote the post on why using a strategy advocated by The Wall Street Journal was a bad idea, I thought I needed to expand on it .. so much so, that I’m soon going to be publishing an eBook on it.

From that original piece, the WSJ said:

… [I]f you’re starting a business with limited funds, a flashy company Website isn’t a must. For little or no cost, you could put your fledgling enterprise on a third-party site such as a blog-hosting service, social-media outlet, business directory or marketplace.

While I agree with a lot of that statement (and that comes from someone who makes their living at creating Websites for all sizes and kinds of businesses), I strongly disagree with some of it. Which part? And what to do about it?

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B2B Email .. Sent On a Saturday Morning?

Email best practices - graphicEmail marketing best practices: I’m about ready to finish up the second edition of the new CruxBridge Media email newsletter. We’re calling it The Magnetic Business Insider (use the box to the right to sign up!), and it’s chock full of news and information about attracting qualified leads to your company.

I have to admit I”m feeling a bit weird about a couple of things in regards to the newsletter itself, though. One is the send day: this Saturday. Second is the time: 6:30 AM EDT. The third? It’s only been two weeks since I sent the last one.

Why am I feeling so strange about those points? Because they fly in the face of conventional thinking about when to send such newsletters and messages, and how often to send them.

As is with anything involving technology and the public’s attitude towards it, though, the rules and best practices behind email marketing can be represented at best by a moving target. Here’s the latest on how to hit a bullseye.

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Blogging by Example

Blog graphic for Blog Post Writing for BusinessBlog writing for business: Writing a business blog, and keeping it freshly stocked with great content that people want to read and share is not an easy job … even for people like me, who both use blogs to promote their business and get paid to blog (or come up with blog strategies) for others.

Sure, I keep a clip file of business related topics and links upon which I know I can provide my own viewpoint. I even have a file of ideas I can use, if the ol’ business blog creativity well really runs dry.

Even in those cases, though, I need to write every business -related blog post so that people can relate to the topic. This is where the seemingly different writing styles of business and creative not only work together in business blogging, but compliment one another. How so?

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Some Words About WordPress Security

WordPress security graphicWordPress security: When some people—WP “haters,” especially—read those two words together, they tend to put the phrase “lack of” in the middle. The only problem with that is they’re wrong.

There have been a few high-profile cases in the past year or so of mass hackings of such sites. Thing is, the ultimate fault of those hacks comes from the servers at the hosting companies, not the site owners or the WP content-management system (CMS) in and of itself.

With WordPress being the most-used CMS for Websites, and most of the largest Web hosting companies providing these services for such sites, it stands to reason that hackers are devoting much of their time to penetrating WP sites and their hosts.

WP is built on a programming language called PHP, which is also used for other CMS platforms. That’s a key point you need to know, as you read the following passage from one of WP’s lead developers:

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On the Web, but Not In It

Chalkboard with a partial Web addressWebsites for small businesses: The Wall Street Journal last Monday published an interesting story that will no doubt have appeal for small businesses. In the process, though, it might do these vulnerable members of the community a real disservice.

Before I go on, I need to come clean: I make my living off of providing Website strategy, design, development and content services, as well as a heckuva lot of consulting services in various related areas. So take everything I write with a grain .. or two .. or a whole shaker full … of salt.

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SEO and Inbound Marketing … Fast Results!

graphic of Search Engine Optimization - SEOFollow up email from social business meeting … that keyword string entered into Google by a person shows the power of search engine optimization, or SEO, and inbound marketing in general. It also demonstrates how quickly a well-optimized blog post can bring results to your company.

Just yesterday at my Hand to Mouse Networking site, I published a blog post called Following Up … For Success. It’s the start of a three-part series on how to follow up on social-business networking. The first part was really an intro to the series, and Parts II and III will deal with two systems on following up with both offline and online contacts.

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Following Up … For Business Networking Success

Social business networking follow-up: So you do the right thing by going out and meeting lots of people at business networking events, because you believe you can use those to effectively build your business. If you’re not following up with the contacts you’ve made, though, you’re dropping the ball—a very expensive ball at that.

Think of business networking as being similar to dating. They’re actually a lot alike; only the end result is different.

In many cases, dating starts out with a crowded room of people who may be looking to connect with one another. The room could be a bar, a bookstore, or most any other place. Factors like volume, brightness and decor are all over the place, and willingness to meet others varies wildly from person to person.

You can read this entire post at Hand to Mouse Networking, a “giving back” blog and information Website by CruxBridge Media chief Bob Woods. This article is Part I of a three-part series on the subject.

Hand to Mouse Networking Launches in Beta

Hand to Mouse Networking - Business NetworkingHand to Mouse Networking, a new Website dedicated to helping those who are involved with business networking—online and offline—has launched in a beta version.

The concept was created by Bob Woods, chief executive officer of CruxBridge Media, after years of experience using business networking to meet fellow business professionals and work toward mutually beneficial relationships.

“When you’re at a business function or online on a networking site, it’s very easy to forget that you’re there for a purpose: to meet like-minded businesspeople who can help you, while you assist them,” Woods said. “Both the Hand to Mouse Networking concept and its associated Website puts a real strategy to your networking, as well as gives you tips on both online and offline networking, and especially how to connect the two.”

The Website’s introductory message spells out both Woods’ overall concept, and the largest goals of the site:

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Why Facebook Pages Will Not Replace Websites

Graphic of Facebook logo and business WebsitesBack in the FBML days of Facebook—just a couple of months back, come to think of it—the social-networking service’s Pages feature was not the easiest vehicle to use in driving brand awareness. With recent moves to incorporate iFrames and other business-friendly tools into Pages, marketing on FB is now much easier for all sizes and types of businesses and organizations.

In the wake of the changes, though, some social-media “gurus” have predictably started discussing if Facebook Pages will replace Websites. Don’t believe it? Just Google the phrase facebook pages replace websites; you’ll get 53.3 million returned results.

What’s the answer? Simple: Facebook Pages should not replace Websites. The reason behind the answer lies in the sticky little matter of control.

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