Microsoft and Linkedin, a purchase made in heaven – or the Cloud at least

Linkedin Logo Microsoft LogoI’ve been a Linkedin member since August 2005, apparently was one of the first million subscribers and have found it an invaluable tool for network building, staying up to date with, and in contact with, my Connections and even generating enquiries.

Linkedin History
Linkedin was started in 2002 by Reid Hoffman with money his stake in PayPal when it was sold to eBay. From that small beginning Linkedin has become the No.1 business networking site, a Facebook for business if you like and now has more than 440m subscribers.

In 2011, Linkedin went public (IPO) at $45 per share, raising $350m and valuing the company at $9bn, making it one of the most successful public offerings since Google in 2004.

Linkedin’s share price very quickly doubled and continued to rise, peaking at $269 in early 2015. After that it’s been a bit up and down and fears of a downturn earlier this year saw share prices falling to $101 in February after which there was a recovery to $135 in May

Then, to everyone’s surprise, in June 2016 Linkedin was bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion (a significant $61 premium on the share price), in an all cash deal, making it Microsoft’s largest acquisition by a long way

Why did Microsoft buy Linkedin, where did it see the value and what will it do with this highly respected business networking site?~
Although Microsoft and LinkedIn don’t, at first glance, appear natural partners, they are closer than you might think. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, there has been a strong move away from consumer software and operating systems (Windows) to business and cloud subscription services such as Office 365, enterprise solutions like Microsoft Dynamics and cloud storage – Onedrive and it’s possible that this, allied to the fact that Linkedin has over 440m active users, helped in the decision making process, that’s just over $59.54 per user.

The addition of Skype (Microsoft owned) to LinkedIn could make the platform even more attractive, allowing voice and video conversations to take place within Linkedin (possibly limited to Linkedin subscribers).

Potential Benefits
Linkedin already has some really basic Customer Relationship Management tools built in to “My Network” which enables you to add Tags to your Connections so that you can search by your own custom categories as well as directly Message groups of contacts.

Now, imagine how much more powerful this would be if there were full CRM functionality.

  • Send emails to your Connections with a click with the contents held in the Client account
  • Have incoming emails automatically added to client records rather than a simple folder in Outlook.
  • Grouping sent and received emails together, in your Contact records
  • Click to call via Skype
  • Click to Video call via Skype
  • Click to open pre-templated documents through Office 365 and have them stored in Contact records

The reality is that the world is their oyster – with a little thought, good programming and over 430m pre-existing accounts there’s a great deal for Microsoft to leverage..

Lynda.com an “Outstanding Resource for Learning”
It’s also easy to forget that Linkedin owns lynda.com. An online education provider with more than 3,000 online learning video courses, created by industry experts and covering topics across business and leadership, creative and technology.

A service that was described as “an outstanding resource for video based learning” by PCmag

What happens Now
Although the deal has been approved by both boards and is expected to be finalised by the end of this year it still needs approval from a number of regulatory bodies

Microsoft have said that “Linkedin will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence” which is good news for fans and users, although analysts at Credit Suisse have said “We recognise that Microsoft will be able to realise several strategic synergies”

A side effect of the sale has pushed Twitter shares 5.5% higher on speculation that it will be next to go, perhaps to Google – which has expressed interest on several occasions in the previous 4 years.

What actually happens is still to be decided but I’ll keep you up to date as, and when more news becomes available.

In the meantime, if you need help with Linkedin and want to learn how it can really help you grow your business just get in touch for a free chat, give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email at andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

More changes on the way from Google

On 24th May 2016 Google held one of their annual seminars, the Google Performance Summit and announced a number of changes to Google Ads, many of which have been driven by the streamlining of the way that Google Ads are displayed on Search Results Pages (SERPs)

1/ Longer Text AdsOld Google Ad
Previously, Google Ads comprised of a headline of 25 characters, 2 descriptive liners of 35 characters and a web address together with a “hidden” link that takes people to the most relevant page for their search.

Later this year, Google will roll out a new format, to enable Ads to make better use of the space they now have at the top and bottom of Google Search Results,

  • 2 Headlines, each of 30 charactersNew Google Ad
  • Single description line of 80 character
  • Auto Selection of most appropriate landing page (with a manual over-ride)

2/ Better Device Targeting
At the moment, you can target your Google Ads at Desktops (desktop and laptop computers) and Mobile devices (phones and tablets) by setting a bid value multiplier, so you could bit for a desktop keyword at £1.00 per click (for example) and use the multiplier to set a different bid value for mobile devices so, an Ad targeted at Mobile devices could have an 80% multiplier meaning that you’d be bidding £0.80 per click.

Later this year, you’ll be able to target each device uniquely by setting unique multipliers for phones and tablets

3/ Promoted Pins on Google MapsGoogle Ads Promoted Pins
With 1/3rd of all mobile searches being people looking for something in their area Google will be launching the ability to promote your business in Google Maps so that uses will see Promoted Pins along their route – or nearby.

4/ New Look Local Pages
Along with the ability to promote your business through Google Maps, Google are also overhauling their Local Pages so that you’ll be able to include more information, including product inventories, discounts and promotions to encourage visits

5/ New Google Ads Management ConsoleNew Google Ads interface
The current Google Ads management console is now more than 15 years old, New features have been bolted on and, as time has passed, the interface has become less intuitive and harder to understand and use. As a consequence, the Console is getting a complete overhaul and it’s likely that there will be a greater focus on Ads targeting Mobile devices.

As mentioned at the start, these changes are being rolled out this year although the changes to the Management Console are being rolled out more slowly and most of us probably won’t see the new interface before 2017.

If you are having trouble with your Google Ads, or just want it to work better for you, then please get in touch andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020

 

Beyond the Bounce

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for those looking to understand how their website is performing (or not). There’s so much valuable information and quite a lot of info that’s less than useful, screen resolution, operating systems, Flash version etc.

However, one metric seems to cause more confusion and fear than all the others combined, it’s called the Bounce Rate (BR).

It’s displayed front and centre when you access Analytics, shouting a percentage at you but what’s good, what’s bad and what does it all mean?

Google Analytics Bounce Rate

First off, the Bounce itself – it’s simply a record of visitors to your site who left from the page they landed on, without doing anything else. If your BR is below 20% then your website is performing exceptionally well and if it’s around 45% or more then it needs investigating because your website could be leaking a lot of potential customers.

Bounces occur for a variety of reasons;

Site Speed

Research demonstrates that you have about 3 seconds to get your web pages open in front of your visitors. Any slower and they’ll head back to their search engine. Google Analytics provides a lot of information and help if your site is slow.

Setting Expectations

If someone visits your website after seeing or hearing something, and they have an expectation, then if your website fails to meet that expectation, then they’ll leave – hearing about a special offer that’s not plainly displayed on the home page, for example, will increase your BR.

Arriving from an international location and finding the site isn’t in the visitors language increases your BR as does coming from a mobile phone to a non-responsive site, for example.

What to do if you have a high Bounce Rate

If you have a high BR you need to understand why, you should look at the following areas:Graphs

  • Analytics Site Speed Checker to help you to understand how quickly your site opens and give hints and tips to ways to improve performance.
  • Audience to help you to see whether visits come from countries you trade in
  • Mobile to see whether mobile users are having a good experience
  • Acquisition to show you how your visitors found you

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, getting a lot of visitors from countries that you don’t trade with, for example. You can’t stop them visiting your site although it might be worth exploring whether this could be a business opportunity.

Then there’s Referrer Spam which can also be called “reverse marketing”. Companies actually target Google Analytics in the hope that they’ll appear high up in your Acquisition/All Traffic stats, pique your interest and encourage you to visit their website in the hope of enticing you into parting with money to buy their services. Treat these with extreme caution as most of the services on offer are poor and may even result in the fraudulent use of credit/debit card data.

You might see names such as “semalt”, “buttons-for-websites”, “rankings-analytics” appearing in quite high numbers and they’ll all have 100% bounce rates and 1 Page per Session.

The solution is to set a filter so that Analytics stops counting them and you can do this in the Admin section, under “Filters”. You’ll probably need to set new filters on a monthly basis, so fast do these companies adapt, and a filter only works from the day you implemented it which means that it won’t act on historical data, but at least the data more accurately reflects reality going forwards.

If you are not using Analytics, you should be and if you don’t understand Analytics, you should and if you need any help installing Analytics or want to understand more then get in touch, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020

 

What has Google done now?

On Monday 22nd February Google made a sweeping change to the way that its search results pages looked.

Google removed Google Ads from the RH side of their results, when searching from a desktop or laptop PC.

This is the first major change since 2010, when Google moved from showing a maximum of 10 Ads on a page to 13.

Google added up to 3 Ads at the top of the free results as well as up to 10 Ads on the right hand side.

This latest change has wiped out the Ads on the RH side whilst increasing he number of Ads at the top of the page to a maximum of 4 and has seen Google add 3 Ads to the bottom of the search results.

Now a Search Results Page, which used to have up to 13 Ads, will now have a maximum of 7

Why has Google done this?

Google’s logic is that it wants to bring desktop search in-line with Mobile search, making things simpler and saving money.

I know that most people just ignore the Ads on the right. Even Google reckons that only around 30% of Google users actually look and click.

Although this percentage of users clicking is quite low, the revenue generated for Google is huge.

About 70% of revenue comes from clicks and, with Google the largest company on the planet, this represents a significant income.

However, it’s never enough. The hope is that by just having Ads at the top (and bottom) of the page – more people will click on them.

As well as attracting more clicks, Google will be hoping that businesses will pay more to ensure that their Ads are at the top of the page.

What Impact will this have on businesses

For businesses not paying for Ads, the top free results now appear further down the Search Results Pages. This may mean more people choose to click on an Ad rather than your website.

If your site is not in the top 3 or 4 of the free results, you may find that searchers now have to scroll – and they may choose not to.

This could mean more investment in Search Engine Optimisation to move your site higher on the first page.

The other danger is that Google increases the number of Ads at the top of the page. Google could choose to fill the first page with Ads which would mean that the free results would not appear until Page 2 [speculation]

If you are an Advertiser it could lead to increased costs as more businesses compete for fewer opportunities. However, if you sell products and use Product Listing Ads (PLA) these will continue to feature on the right hand side.

What should you do next?

You need to understand the impact that these changes will have on your website and so I’ve put a special offer together to help.

In-depth SEO review of your website – Special Offer – Save £100.00

Let me take the strain and carry out your audit for you, taking a deep look at your search engine optimisation, providing recommendations to improve and even looking at the way your website is working.

Normal Price Special Offer
1-10 Pages £250.00 £150.00
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31 – 50 Pages £350.00 £250.00
51 – 100 Pages £400.00 £300.00
Over 100 Pages POA POA

To take advantage of this offer all you have to do is give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and if you need help with any other aspect of your online marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing etc. don’t hesitate to use those contact details to get in touch..

Are we already at war?

Are we already at war?
This is the first (of two) articles taking a look at the hacking and cybercrime that’s taken place in 2015. Part 2, to be published soon, looks at the simple steps we can take to enhance our security and minimise the threats from cybercrime.

2015
Cost of Cyber Crime in 2014Although we’ve yet to reach the end of 2015, there’s already been an unprecedented number of data breaches and hacks compared to previous years, measured by both the number of breaches and the amount of data exposed.

The graphic on the right shows the estimated cost of cybercrime for 2014. In 2015 the cost has increased by 14% according to the “Cost of Cyber Crime Study: UK“, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by HP.

The institute conducted 326 interviews with personnel from 39 UK companies to assess the incidence and cost of cybercrime for businesses. and the latest news is that the very recent TalkTalk hack has cost the company £35m so far

Major data breaches in 2015

FebruaryBillion dollar cyberheist
Up to 100 banks were penetrated and more than $1bn stolen
  US health insurer Anthem
80 million patient and employee records including date of birth, social security
numbers, home and email addresses, employee information and more
May 2015 – BlueCross, US Health Insurance provider
11.2 million names, birth dates, email addresses stolen
    US office of Personnel Management
21.5m US Federal employees confidential data was accessed and presumed
stolen
June 2015Kasperski Labs (yes, the security vendor) was hacked
Technical information was stolen, thought to be industrial espionage by a
sovereign Nation State
July 2015 – Harvard University
One of 8 universities hacked in 2015 but it’s not known what information was
accessed (and stolen)
   Hacking Team
Hacking Team develop spy tools for government agencies and the breach
exposed 1 million emails including those of a sensitive nature from a number
of security agencies around the world
US Army National Guard
850,000 social security numbers, home addresses, names and other
personal information stolen
August – Ashley Madison
32m member’s data stolen and posted on the dark web for sale. The
ramifications are ongoing
September – John Brennan
CIA Director had his personal AOL email account hacked
October – TalkTalk
Major hack of the TalkTalk website and a lot of user data was stolen

In the US it is a legal requirement that all hacked companies make a report to the appropriate government department, however similar legislation has yet to be enacted in Europe so the reported incidents may just be the tip of the iceberg – and that’s assuming that hacked companies know that they’ve been hacked.

So who was behind these hacks and what was their goal?
hacker at laptop?At the time of writing, 4 people had been arrested, and bailed, for the The TalkTalk hack – 3 teenagers and a young adult although no charges have been brought.

Some hacks might be carried out by the stereotypical “spotty teenager in a bedroom” just doing it for fun, however the majority are likely to be carried out by more worrying groups, ranging from organised crime to extort money to government organisations.

The Ashley Madison hack looks to have been for the purpose of extortion, of both Ashley Madison themselves and their members (pay us £xx or we’ll let your friends and family know where you spend your time” etc).

Others will be industrial espionage, companies looking to gain a competitive advantage whilst the remainder might have been carried by departments acting for “state security” and it’s believed, although almost impossible to prove, that the Kasperski, US National Guard, US Office of Personnel Management & Hacking Team hacks were conducted by sovereign Nation States, believed to be North Korea and/or China.

These attacks by non-friendly sovereign nation states on infrastructure may even be attacks seen as acts of war.

Safer Internet DayWhy do hacks occur?
For some, it’s simply for fun, the challenge and the bragging rights.

However, there’s a lot of money to be made from the theft of intellectual property and business sensitive materials, and nations stand to learn a great deal about their friends and enemies. It’s widely believed, for example, that China has been “inside” US military design systems for many years which could explain why their military have made extremely rapid advances with the design and manufacture of new military equipment, including stealth planes, missile defence systems and drones in recent years.

Towards the end of 2015 we’re seeing that China is negotiating two way, anti-hacking, arrangements with a number of major economic partners, including the UK, USA and Germany, theoretically enshrining in law that the countries won’t attempt to hack China and China won’t try to hack them. However, even if the above is true they don’t need to hack any further if they already have access to core systems.

A cynic might also say that history indicates that China may not stick to it’s side of the deal, and even if they do – they can always ask their friends to do it for them.

Protecting your business and yourself.
Although I’ve mentioned high-profile attacks,  SMEs are also at great risk and so in Part Two I’ll be looking at some simple steps that you can take to maximise your security and minimise the risk that you are exposed to.

How clean is your phone?

It’s with us up to 24 hours How clean is your phonea day but have you ever given any thought to mobile phone hygiene?

Just think about everything you touch during the course of an average day, keys, door handles, keyboards, pens, credit/debit cards, cash and so on. How many other people have touched those things? How hygienic are they? Have you ever checked your phone in a bathroom or public toilet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you have, apparently most people have checked their phone in a bathroom which goes someway towards explaining why 1 in 6 phones have faecal matter on them.

Ugly bacteriaAccording to research, the average mobile phone has 18x more harmful bacteria than the handle on the door of a public toilet.

Se we go to the loo and then use our phone and pop it into our pocket or handbag, somewhere that’s nice and warm, in other words an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

A little later, we take our phone out of it’s bacterial breeding ground and hold it to our face to use it. Some of the bacteria transfer to our hands, some to our face where it can cause acne, some of the bacteria is now on our hands so we can transfer it to others when we shake hands, touch money or other door handles

Because few of us bother to really clean our phones (wiping the screen doesn’t count) the germs keep building up and they include E-Coli (great for upset tums), influenza and MRSA (causes rashes and skin infections)

So, the next time you have a spot or rash on your face or go down with an upset tummy or the flu, don’t look at who you’ve been in contact recently, take a long hard look at your mobile phone

So, what should we do? Well, you can buy anti-bacterial wipes specifically designed for electronic devices, or you could use standard rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel. Use cotton buds to get in to those nooks and crannies and, finally, don’t forget to take your cover off and clean that too.

Got Stagefright? You probably have if you own an Android phone

Android Robot logoIf you have a SmartPhone and it’s not an iPhone, not a Windows Phone and not a Blackberry then you probably do, and this puts you at serious risk.

Simply put, using a flaw that’s been called “StageFright” hackers could easily steal contact information, personal details, track your location and install malicious apps without your knowledge.

All they have to do is send you an infected MMS, effectively a text message with a picture, and just receiving the message is enough to infect your phone.

Security provider, Lookout, has developed a free test that will check whether your phone is at risk – there are probably other test but I use, and trust, Lookout which is why I’ve made this recommendation.

If you are vulnerable, Lookout will advise you as to how you can minimise the risk – but you can do this without running the test, if you wish.

Open your Text Message App, go to “Settings” and disable “Auto Retrieve”. You might have to do the same for Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger too – if you use them.

Now, Google is working hard on a fix but it’s not going to be rolled out for a little while due to a whole range of complexities

Has Anti-Virus software reached its “Best Before” date?

CrowbarFor many years, the security mantra has been

  • Mac good – invulnerable to viruses and hacking.
  • Windows bad – very vulnerable to viruses and hacking

 The reason was two-fold, whilst it’s true that the Apple operating system IS harder to infect with a virus, the main reason was popularity (or lack thereof). When 97% of the world was using Windows, why bother writing viruses and other malware for the extreme minority.

The traditional Windows solution was to install an anti-virus program from one of the many vendors and, for real “belt and braces” safety, protect your internet connection with a firewall. Hopefully all would be well and good, so long as you paid your annual anti-virus subscriptions and ensured that the virus definitions were regularly updated so your anti-virus program could identify the threats and keep you safe. (Free anti-virus programs for home users did a similar job, again provided they were kept up to date)

Crypto-LockerSignificantly Increased Risk of Infection

However, the upsurge in Apple popularity over recent years means that Apple devices are also targets of the cyber-criminals. And it’s not just Apple computers and iDevices that are at risk, the virus writers are also targeting Android devices, Microsoft phones and tablets and devices running Linux devices.

Anti-Virus is dead!

Brian DyeLast year, Brian Dye, Senior Vice-President for Information Security at Symantec (the company behind Norton Anti-Virus solutions) said, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, that “Anti-Virus is dead”. What he meant was that cyber criminals were now able to write malicious software faster than Norton could be updated.

Whilst Norton, and all the other anti-virus programs, are not yet ready for the scrapheap they only detect around 45% of all attacks. As well as that rather disturbing stat, research by FireEye (A cyber-security provider)  indicated that 82% of malware detected by their security solutions stays active for just one hour and 70% of threats surface just once before disappearing and being re-written to avoid detection by the AV companies.

So, what should you be doing?

Security-padlockWell, I’ve said it before, but it’s always worth reiterating, security starts with education. Then you add as many layers of additional protection as you feel necessary, depending on how you use your devices and the level risk you feel you are faced with.

  • Never open an attachment unless you are expecting one and you know, and trust, where it came from.
  • Keep your Anti-Virus software up to date and continue to renew your subscriptions, it may only block 45% but that’s nearly half of all threats stopped before they have a chance to install.
  • Install a security App on your phone and tablet
  • Explore the new offerings from the traditional anti-virus vendors that look to protect your web browsing and protect you against spam, phishing attacks and other cyber crime threats.
  • Be alert for anything that doesn’t feel “right” and if something looks too good to be true – that offer of a full version of Microsoft Office on CD for £50.00 for example – remember, it probably is!
  • Use a different, complex, password for each website that you have to log in to. An App such as LastPass will help you create passwords, securely store them and “auto complete” the log-ins when you log in to those websites. (other password tools are available)
  • Ensure your Social Media accounts privacy settings are set to an appropriate level
  • Look at Bitdefender Safego,a free anti-scam service for Facebook and Twitter
  • Remain cautious when using any internet connected device

How to set expectations and fail to deliver

Old petrol pumpI don’t like filling my car with fuel, but not for the reason you might think!

It’s not the cost, that’s just an unchangeable part of life, no it’s the temptation when I go to pay. Chocolate bars, crisps, sweet drinks, gadgets and all those essential “must haves” strategically placed between the door and the till to tempt you.

That’s why I much prefer “pay at pump” options and can’t wait for the day when all garages offer this.

I need fuel recently so imagine my delight when I saw that Shell are partnering with PayPal to enable “pay at pump” simply by scanning a code on my phone, telling the App how much I wanted to spend and then just filling up without going in to the shop.

Shell call this “Fill up & Go” and it’s being rolled out across the UK later this year.

Shell Fill and GoI discovered this by reading a card attached to the pump that I was using, it had a picture attached to it, not unlike the one here with the added message that there was more information “in store”

When paying for my fuel, and successfully avoiding temptation, I picked up a leaflet that answered a lot of my questions and which told me “If you want to be one of the first to use it, visit our website to register your interest, www.shell.co.uk”

So, when I reached my destination, I went to www.shell.co.uk and was instantly, and automatically, sent to www.shellsmart.com where I learned I could get a Shell loyalty card, find out more information about Shell’s “Partners” and other information but NOTHING about paying at the pump via PayPal

So, I scrolled down the ShellSmart page and found a link to Shell.co.uk and finally managed to reach the Shell website.

I expected to see information about “Fill up & Go” front and centre, but it wasn’t.

Where was it? I still don’t know, I scrolled down the page, I clicked on some links, I read some text and finally gave up in frustration. What a waste of time.

Why couldn’t Shell have had info right in front of my eyes or used a dedicated URL on their leaflet, www.shell.co.uk/FillAndGo for example?

Not difficult, not even clever but it would certainly have saved me from frustration and meltdown with yet another corporate entity which has a good idea but fails in the execution.

 

Are you watching Meerkat through your Periscope?

Meerkat and PeriscopeOver the past couple of weeks there’s been quite a lot of chatter in a variety of media channels about two relatively new Apps, called Meerkat and Periscope.

They both do the same thing, enabling you to broadcast live video (streaming) from your iPad or iPhone. Meerkat has an Android App under development and I’m sure Periscope won’t be too far behind with Microsoft and Blackberry probably following later.

One way of thinking about both Apps is as though they offer live video selfies although there’s a lot more to them than that.

Although Meerkat was first to market, Periscope was quickly snapped up by Twitter and so quickly generated a great deal of interest. Both apps are available through the iTunes store and are easy to download.

So, what are they, who are they, how do they work and what do they do?

Once you have downloaded your App and signed in through Twitter – yes, you have to have a Twitter account because that’s where your broadcast is published, all you have to do is to point your camera at your topic of interest and start broadcasting.

As soon as you start broadcasting, a Tweet is sent to all your followers so that they can tune in and watch your stream.

What do people stream?

Business tips, health tips, recipes and cooking, news and updates, views from around the world and TV broadcasts –  the recent Pacquiao / Mayweather bout was live streamed by someone pointing their iPhone camera at the TV and causing great angst amongst the Pay Per View broadcasters because they were charging £20 in the UK whilst App users could watch it for free.

What are the drawbacks

Well, it’s another Social Media channel that you might have to pay attention too, but more importantly there’s the potential cost. If you are streaming on Wi-Fi then you’re OK but if you’re broadcasting on 4G then you might find that you eat through your data allowance pretty quickly and, if you are not careful, even run up some hefty data charges

So, is it a “game changer”

It’s really too early to say, the Apps have only been around a couple of months. A lot of tech journalists have used them to stream from major tech shows, product launches and demos, just like live news broadcasts and just like any live broadcast you have to watch it live or miss it.

In my opinion, it’s certainly “one to watch” and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch