You cannot be serious….

Green computer code on a black screen

…yes you can and you must be. But serious about what? About your passwords, that’s what. Like many others, I’ve been banging on about passwords for years and years and years. From a company that would put a new laptop on a desk for the user with the password on a post-it note attached to the lid to companies that shared passwords by email to people using easily guessable passwords the whole issue of password security is not going away.

And it’s causing major problems and financial loss.

In 2019, 80% of all data breaches which resulted in financial loss, were the result of compromised passwords whilst IBM have stated that the average cost of a data breach to businesses in 2020 was $3.86m so you can see stealing passwords (and other information) is big business.

But this post is not about the physical stupidities like leaving passwords lying around it’s about the passwords you and I use that are part and parcel of our day-to-day web access.

Every year a company called NordPass* evaluates the latest password data across 50 countries. They get this by examining a database of 4TB of data, all of these passwords have been nicked, stolen, and hacked. These security breaches are the result of hacking, phishing and other “nocturnal” cyber activities.

Passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details, usernames, dates of birth and other details are made available for sale on the Dark Web and this is where NordPass gets their seed data.

The Most Common Passwords 2021

And it seems that in 2021 little has changed. The most common passwords they found were

  1. 123456 (used a staggering 103 million times)
  2. 123456789 (46m uses)
  3. 12345 (33m uses)
  4. qwerty (22m uses)
  5. password (21m)
  6. 12345678 (15m)
  7. 111111 (13m)
  8. 123123 (10m)
  9. 1234567890 (10m)
  10. 1234567 (9m)

All of the above would be cracked in under one second. That’s how secure these passwords are

Apparently a “stunning” number like to use their own name – “Charlie” being the 9th most popular password in the UK whilst popular music acts and sports also have their own claim to fame. “Onedirection” being popular, along with “Liverpool” whilst in Canada “hockey” was the top sports related password and “dolphin” was number one amongst animal related passwords.

Hacker Inside

NordPass have mapped the data too and, according to their data 187,219,153 passwords have “leaked” from the UK, that’s an average of 2.785 passwords per capita.

How should you formulate your passwords?

Passwords should be 16 characters or more – a M1xture! of UPPER case, lower case, numbers and characters and should NOT be used for more than one account. They should not use ANY personal information, no address details, no phone numbers, no pets names in fact nothing that can be gleaned from social media and day to day interactions

Challenge to remember? You bet. Difficult to crack? Most certainly. According to How Secure is my Password 45Erp!VBN?1869y& will take 41 trillion years to crack.

I have over 250 passwords that I use so I have to use a Password Manager to store them. I use LastPass but many others are available, including NordPass’ own, and some are free. I suggest, though , that you use one that can synchronise across all of your devices, PCs, Macs, tablets, phones etc so that you always have your passwords with. A good Password Manager will not only store your passwords very securely but should also create secure passwords for you.

Go ahead and test your passwords using their secure tool.

I might not be a cyber security expert – but I know quite a bit and know some very good ones so if you need some help with your cyber security, your SEO or any other element of your online marketing activities then why not kick things off with a free consultancy session, drop me an email or just give me a call on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146.

In the meantime, be safe out here. The World Wide Web can be a dangerous place

*NordPass have a vested interest in password security – they sell a Password Manager

What does your Phone Number tell people about your business

For years and years the Americans have been very clever with phone numbers, using words to make them memorable, 1-800-468 3647* is quite tough to remember, but using the letters on a phone pad it instantly becomes 1-800 Hot Dogs, which is far more memorable. I also reckon that it made for quite a fight between businesses and telephone companies for the best numbers. The best we seemed to manage in the UK was the fight for “special” numbers – such as 0800 123123

And then came the mobile phone explosion, and the numbers you used were the ones handed out by your mobile phone company, there was no choice. Well, there was, but you had to hunt it down and “special” mobile phone numbers were expensive, because the providers knew the value.

Telephone keypad showing letters and numbers

For a long time, companies would display both landline and mobile numbers – and quite a few still do. However, for the last 5 years (maybe more) I have noticed that a lot of companies only use their mobile number. This is possibly sole traders and other businesses who work from home, or a home office. It enables them to easily keep business telephony separate from private. I’ve worked with many people who have 2 mobile phones, 1 for business and the other for personal calls.

A sign written van with just a mobile phone number

But there are still people who won’t trust a company that only uses a mobile number simply because it used to shout “rogue trader” or similar, a company lacking any form of physical base.

I’ve also noticed that more and more sign written vans only have a mobile number on them, and in my opinion, this is a missed opportunity.

Why should a mobile only number be a missed opportunity?

Simply put, a mobile phone is harder to remember than a geographic number. Mainly because we are familiar with a range of geographic numbers (020 for London, 0117 for Bristol for example) and this makes them easier to remember – and the pattern is more familiar too. Especially if it’s the geographic descriptor for your local area (01793 in my case).

And this is the next benefit. If I see a tradespersons’ sign written van and it has a landline and mobile number, I’ll instantly know whether they are local to me, or “just visiting” and I’ll be far more likely to contact a local trade than one based elsewhere.

But landlines have their own issues. If you change phone providers, move from one exchange region to another or move from one office to another you may not be able to “take” your landline number with you. This means you’ll have to update websites, your Socials, letter heads, compliment slips, business cards etc. Which is a very good reason for just using a mobile number.

Is there a better way to use phone numbers?

Get an IP (Internet Protocol) phone number. An IP number is a virtual phone number. It’s not associated with any telephone exchange but is based in the Internet. You can have a physical desk phone (but you need one that’s IP Phone capable, not a cheap £10 phone from Amazon). You can use your PC/Laptop/tablet instead. Simply set up an IP Phone App and configure it correctly, have a headset and microphone (Bluetooth is great) and your “good to go”. You can even take IP calls on your mobile phone, yes really.

And, best of all, when you move location you don’t have to do anything at all. Your phone number comes with you, wherever you choose to go.

You could even get an IP phone number for the next town/city that you want to expand in to, giving you a virtual presence there and making it even easier for potential clients to contact you.

If you need help with your telephony then I probably know enough to be able to point you in the right direction and if you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there

*(1-800 being the US equivalent of a free phone number, known in the States as a Toll Free Number)

National Cyber Security Month

October is National Cyber Month.
What is National Cyber Security Month?

National Cyber Security Week

Threats of Cyber Crime from Cyber Criminals continue to increase and we all need to be increasingly alert and focussed on the threats, the impact they could have on our lives AND the things we can do to minimise the risk to ourselves and our businesses.

Red spot on code

National Cyber Security Month 2021 has the overarching theme “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart” and looks to empower individuals and businesses to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.

If we all do our part then we will all benefit from a safer place to live and be in a safer place to do business. Not only that but we’ll also be denying the cybercriminals the space they need to extort, employ fraud and generate the money they lust after.

How can we contribute?

We can all look to implement stronger/better security practices such as not clicking links in emails, not opening emails from people we don’t know or even opening emails we weren’t expecting. We can install security software on our phones, our tablets and our computers. We can use stronger passwords, and make sure we use unique passwords for EVERY application.

Each week, National Cyber Security Month will have a different focus, starting with Week 1 – Be Cyber Smart

Week 1, Starting October 4 – Be Cyber Smart

log on box

Our lives are increasingly intertwined with the internet and the World Wide Web. Pretty much all personal and business information is stored on internet connected platforms.

From banking to social media, from email to SMS, from phone and video calling to watching TV and listening to music and beyond.

The internet simplifies some areas of our lives and makes it more complex in others but the one, overarching common factor, is the need for a strong level of security to keep our data safe.

That’s why Week 1 of National Cyber Security Week focuses on the best security practices and “cyber hygiene” to keep our data safe, owning our role in Cyber Security and starting with the basics. That includes using unique, strong, passwords and making sure that we use multi-factor authentication (2FA) where it’s available, preferably avoiding SMS (text Message) authentication where possible.

Week 2, Starting October 11 – Fight the Phish – Trust No One

Phishing attacks, where emails and text messages are sent containing web links encouraging you to click the link, visit a website set up by cyber criminals and enter your user names and passwords are still on the increase. Why are they on the increase? Because they work. People see an email that purports to come from their bank, HMRC, DVLA, Post Office, BT etc. and are given a warning claiming that the recipient needs to do something NOW or they will be locked out of their account, will be arrested, won’t have an order delivered …. or one of many other ruses. You click the link and either have malicious software sent to your computer without your knowledge and approval or give away user names and passwords to cyber criminals, enabling them to access your personal accounts and to steal from you.

The X-Files mantra of “Trust No one” applies here. Any email that contains a request for such information should always be approached with caution and, if you have even a small inkling of concern, then simply open your web browser and visit the website of the sender to check out the veracity of the email.

Week 3, Starting October 18 – Explore, Experience, Share

Week three focuses on the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education (NICE), inspiring and promoting the exploration of careers in the cybersecurity sector. Whether you are a student or a veteran or seeking a career change, this week is all about the exciting, ever changing, field of cyber security, a rapidly growing business sector with something for everyone

Week 4, Starting October 25 – Cybersecurity First

The last week of National Cybersecurity Month looks at making security a priority. Actually taking a Cyber Security First approach to designing and building new products, developing new software, creating new Apps.

Red spot on code

Make Cyber Security Training a key part of onboarding when taking on new employees (and, at the other end, making sure that technology rights are revoked when people leave organisations).

Ensure that your employees are equipped with the cyber secure tools that they need for their jobs. If you practice a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, allowing employees to use their own phones, tablets and computers then you need to ensure that the cyber security deployed is as strong as that on equipment that you provide.

Before buying new kit, or signing up to a new service, do your research, check the security. Is it secure enough? Can it be made more secure? Can it be remotely wiped? Who has control? All of these questions, properly answered, will ramp up your cyber security defences and help keep the cyber crims at bay

When you set up new equipment, that new phone, tablet or laptop, I know it’s exciting but please invoke the Cyber Security first, don’t leave it until last – it might be too late. Make sure default passwords are replaced with something secure and lock down those privacy settings.

Cyber Security MUST NOT be an afterthought. If it is, you could find yourself paying the price

And if you need some help, you can always ask me. I might not know the answer but I know people in the Cyber Security industry that I can put you in touch with. Email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk, phone/message me 07966 547146, call 01793 238020 or message me on Social Media and we’ll get it sorted.

New Password Guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre

POSTED ON  BY ANDY POULTON

15 years ago Bill Gates, yes that Bill Gates, predicted the death of the password, presuming that a much more secure alternative method of securing data be adopted, But it hasn’t and passwords are still the default method of securing access to data and systems.

And, with the rapid rise of Cloud Services, Smartphones, tablets and much greater use of the world wide web passwords are seen as an easily-implemented, low-cost security method that users have become familiar, and comfortable with.

Logging On

However, with the sound advice of using a different password at every instance that requires a password has lead to “password overload”, more so when the instruction is to make then increasingly complex to reduce the chance of password theft or accounts being hacked. This has lead to a small range of different strategies to remembering passwords. From writing them down in a “little black book”, saving them on a spreadsheet or using a password Manager [with over 300 passwords, the latter is my choice]

However, a lot of people develop a strategy that is simply based on incrementation. HardPassword1, HardPassword2 etc. The danger being that in a data breach, once your strategy is uncovered it’s just a matter of time before hackers gain access to a range of your accounts.

Recent advice from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC, based in London and part of the UK’s Cyber Security HQ at GCHQ) has suggested making passwords up simply from three random words. Their advice is to be creative and use words that are memorable to you – but not words that can be easily associated with you, such as

  • Your children’s names
  • Favourite Sports team
  • Current partners’ name
  • Names of other family members
  • Pet’s name
  • Place of Birth
  • Favourite Holiday
  • Etc

So, that makes it harder to think of 3 random words but I’ve got an idea. And it’s based on geography. Before you run away thinking I’m going to suggest capital cities, rivers or mountain ranges stay with me. I suggest using some places that are close to your heart, but randomised -by using the navigation app/website What Three Words.

What Three Words is able to define a precise location, down to a 3 metre square. Simply visit the What Three Words website, or install their free app on your phone and navigate to your favourite place. Here’s one of mine (not used for any of my passwords so I’m giving nothing away)

St Catherine’s By The Sea in Map View and Google Earth View

Whether you use the Map View or Google Earth type view, you’ll see the map is overlaid by little squares.

Now, just click on a square and it will be identified by three unique words, so you could click on the entrance to the church, for example, or even a grave stone in the grave yard and What Three Words will give you a code that is unique to that square.

I’ve clicked on the church door and the unique code is remarking however stubble. You could make it harder by adding hyphens, or a different symbol and perhaps capitalising Remarking-However&Stubble for example.

Now all you have to do is either remember your password or use a decent Password Manager -and there are many to choose from, and I’ve written about them in the past.

And PLEASE, if this applies to to you – STOP USING PASSWORD or 12345678 and use one of the above instead

If you need any help, please, just ask. You can reach me by phone – 01793 238020 – email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just hunt me down on Social Media.

Farewell Google Bounce Rate. We loved you

Google Analytics Screenshot

When I’m asked to evaluate a website I always ask for access to Google Analytics, GA, (other analytics packages are available) so that I can get a feel for how the site is performing. After all, if it’s performing well then there’s probably little to gain from tweaking the website but if it’s not performing then the website needs to be fixed BEFORE any more marketing takes place. If not, the fresh marketing effort is simply wasted. If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got.

And I like to take a very quick “snapshot” to see whether I need to take a deeper dive in to website performance. To do this I look at 3 key metrics, over a period of 6 months. This gives me a very quick “feel” for how well (or not) a site is performing, and those three metrics are

Bounce Rate

This is possibly the most useful single metric that tells me a great deal about how well your website is working, at a glance. And yet it’s so simple. All it records is the number of site visitors who leave the site from the page they landed on, almost immediately, and without doing anything. And “anything” is clicking to visit another page, clicking to watch a video or simply spending more than about 10 seconds on the page.

Average Pages Per Visit

This is simply the average number of pages the typical visitor takes a look at. To get the most out of this it’s vital to understand what the goal of a given website is, and the path through the website to get there. A 2 page site can only ever have a maximum of 2 pages per visit but a multipage site a visit should comprise of several pages per visit although there is no right or wrong figure. It depends on the size and goal of the website but the more pages per visit the more that visitors are engaging with the site.

Average Visit Duration

This is the length of time that the typical visitor spends on the site. Like Average Page Views, it will depend on the size (and goal) of the website, but typically the longer the average visit length the more engaged visitors are likely to be.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Bounce Rates

I’ve been using Google Analytics for many years, probably since it was introduced by Google. But what is a good, bad and really ugly Bounce Rate? In my experience, it looks a lot like this –

  • 0%-20% – exceptional. Visitors are well engaged
  • 21%-45% – average. A lot of the sites I look at are within this range
  • 46% – 60% – feeling a little nervous and think about understanding why it’s this high
  • +61% – investigation required. Remember, this means that pretty much 2/3rds of visitors are leaving without doing anything at all. This will be the outcome of new marketing too, if remediations aren’t put in place.

Bounce rate is driven by many things but some of the key ones are

  • Page is too slow to load, 3 seconds or faster MUST be your goal
  • Page just looks unattractive
  • Page fails to meet expectations set by marketing messages
  • Page navigation is either broken or simply not obvious

As you can infer, the Bounce Rate gives an almost instant view of a website’s health – but Google is killing it off.

Google Analytics moves from GA3 to GA4

Some of you will already be on Google Analytics 4 (GA4), especially if you have only just set up Analytics on a new website so you may not know what you’ve lost. Some of you will have been moved across by Google, some will have been contacted by Google “offering” the choice to migrate to GA 4 and a lot of you may not have heard anything, yet.

There are many changes in both data and presentation, but for me the greatest loss of the switch from GA3 to GA4 is the switch from Bounce Rate to Engagement Rate.

Rather than simply measuring what a site visitor does as soon as they land on a page, Google have broadened their measurement and are now measuring Engagement, and to qualify as an “Engagement” a user must do at least one of the following.

  • Be actively engaged with the website (or App) by having it in the foreground for at least 10 seconds
  • Trigger an “Event” – perhaps clicking to watch a video, clicking to subscribe to a newsletter or by carrying out anything else that you might have tagged as a “Conversion Event”
  • Carry out at least 2 Page Views

As a consequence, Engagement is not simply the inverse of a Bounce Rate. This is simply because the criteria to count as “Engaged” is broader than that for a Bounce

Only time will tell whether this is a “good thing” or a “bad thing”. My brain tells me it’s a better (and more sensible) measure of visitor activity but my heart is bidding a sad farewell to the Bounce Rate.

If you need help understanding what Google Analytics is telling you about your website, whether that’s GA3 or GA4 then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer


*Although GA is free to use for most SMEs, very busy websites will have to pay but the real cost is data. When you add Google Analytics to your website, Google gets access to an absolute firehose of data about the way people interact with your website – and every other website that GA is installed on. This data is used to inform SEO, not impact but inform. For example, if somebody finds a website in Google Search and clicks to visit it but returns to Google Search almost instantly, Google might take interest. If loads of people click through to the site and leave straight away Google will take a lot of interest. These visitors might have found, for example, that the site was slow to load. If lots of sites that have a high Bounce Rate were also slow to load then Google could infer that web users didn’t like slow websites. If that turns out to be true (after more research) then Google could decide not to promote slow websites on Page 1 of the Google search results and if you launch a new website that’s slow, then when you do your SEO you’ll already be trying to push water up a hill.

What’s the Difference between the WWW and the Internet?

Although people seem to use the terms WWW and Internet interchangeably, the two are actually very different beasts

The Internet

There is a belief that the Internet came about through military research. The US government needed to find a way to send the “launch” message to ICBM silos in the event of the telephone network being disabled.

Although the US military contributed to the formation of the internet it was a lot more than this, and was mainly in the academic domain.

A visual representation of the Internet by The Opte Project
A visual representation of the Internet by The Opte Project

In the early 60s various projects in the US, UK and France had the aim of building, and interconnecting, computer networks, particularly the Super Computers of the day, for data sharing and data transmission.

In 1974 research was published that evolved in to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet protocol (IP), the basic technologies that are used to send computer data from one location to another.

In the early 80s the American National Science Foundation funded a number of supercomputers at several US universities, provided interconnectivity between them and also built a network that allowed by other academic institutions for research. This marked the beginning of the internet.

The first Internet Service Providers emerged in the USA & Australia in 1989 and in 1990 a small number of commercial entities in the USA were provided with private connections to this network. Connectivity increased rapidly, and the Internet as we know it, was born.

The Internet is the structure along which data travels when going from A to B and can be likened to a road network. And, like a road network, there are some routes that are faster than others and even the fast routes suffer from occasional issues and blockages which slows things down.

The World Wide Web

In 1989-90 research at CERN, in Switzerland, by British computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee (now Sir Tim) saw the development of a technology that linked hypertext documents in to an information system which was then accessible from any node (connection) on the network.

Sir Tim released his research in tot the world and allowed it to be used without any license fees and this allowed it to become the defacto document standard for the world wide web. This is why all web addresses start with HTTP, it defines the protocol to be used to transmit documents, Hypertext Transmission Protocol although we are now more familiar with HTTPS where the S adds Secure.

Basically, the Internet is the structure along which the data travels (the road system mentioned in the previous section) whilst the World Wide Web is the data that travels across that network, like traffic on a road.

If you need any help with your presence on the World Wide Web, from your website through Search Engien Optimisation (SEO), Advertising or anything else I’ll be more than happy to have a free chat to see how/where I can help your business. All you have to do is call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer.

How much did your last cup of coffee cost?

Cybercrime is everywhere these days, in 2020 cybercrime cost UK businesses an estimated £21Bn* with an estimated 40% of UK businesses being subjected to to some kind of cybercrime in the previous 12 months. So, how can you minimise the risk to YOUR business?

There’s lots of advice on passwords, I regularly write about them, and other security measures that you can take but did you know that even a trip to your favourite coffee shop could end up being far more expensive than the price you pay for your Triple Grande Decaf Soy Latte Macchiato and blueberry muffin.

Cup of coffee and coffee beansImagine the scene, you’re between meetings and decide to drop into your favourite coffee shop for a cup of coffee, a cake and to tap into their Wi-Fi to read your emails, refresh your knowledge in time for your next meeting or simply to surf the web.

Spoof Wi-Fi Hotspot
Sign fro free wifi hotspot
When you sit down and try to log-on to the Wi-Fi there’s frequently a selection of hot-spots to choose from. How do you know which is the free service provided by the venue and which is a spoof.

It’s very easy to set up a Wi-Fi hot-spot using a mobile phone, Mi-Fi type of device or laptop and allow other users to connect through this free connection. This means that all of the traffic can then be intercepted by the person providing the spoof account, what sort of important information is passed from your laptop through this connection? It could be your details to access your online banking, the log-in to your company network or the necessary information required to access your corporate email account.

Time for a comfort break

Laptop and cup of coffeeThen the urge hits, you look around and see that everybody seems respectable enough so you head off to the toilet thinking that your laptop is safe on the table. After all, nobody would nick in sight of all those customers, staff and CCTV cameras would they?

You’d be wrong. Laptop tracking service provider, Prey, found that areas offering free Wi-Fi were the second most common target for opportunistic laptop thefts, the only riskier place being left in a visible place in your car.

If stolen, it’s not only the inconvenience of replacing the laptop, reinstalling your applications and copying back your data [you do back-up your data don’t you?] it’s the additional costs that aren’t covered by your insurance.

The Ponemon Institute, a US cyber crime consultancy, put the real cost of the loss of a laptop and it’s data at nearly £31,000. This was broken down into £4,000 for the loss of Intellectual Property, forensics and legal bills adding around £1,500 with a staggering £24,500 attributable to the loss of income, customers and competitive advantage associated with a data breach

So, the next time you stop off for a cup of coffee and decide to log-on using their free Wi-Fi, just make sure you know which network that you’re connecting to and that you don’t leave your laptop unattended.

*Detica in partnership with the Office of Cyber Security and Information Security in the Cabinet Office Report, 2020

The 7Ps that make a great marketing strategy

Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.

When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:

  • Product/Service
  • Price
  • Place
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence
  • Promotion


Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.  

I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020.

This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing.  But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.

Product/Service: 

  • Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
  • Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
  • What makes you different from your competition?
  • Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
  • What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
  • What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
  • And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
  • How well do you treat your customers?
  • Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?

Price

  • Have you built value into your pricing?
  • Are you competitive?
  • Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
  • How do you set your price?
  • Will you discount?
  • How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
  • What do your competitors do?
  • Keep It simple

Place

  • How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
  • Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
  • What are the opportunities to extend these?

If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?

People

  • Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
  • Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
  • What type of leader are you?
  • What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
  • Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
  • Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
  • Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.

Process

One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:

  • Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
  • Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
  • How effective is your sales process?
  • What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/

Physical Evidence (Brand)

Your brand is defined as

  • Signs by which you are known and remembered
  • A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
  • A reflection of personality
  • A statement of position.

Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?

Your brand is so much more than your logo.  Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto?  Will they recognise this as being part of the same business?  Have you had your website made mobile friendly?  Really important.

A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense. 

Promotion (Communication)

Just a few from the hundreds of options

  • Off line
    • Face to face
    • Word of Mouth referral
    • Networking
    • Telesales as part of a process
    • PR
    • Exhibitions and events
    • Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
    • Postcards
    • Events and seminars
    • Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market?  Don’t be dazzled by offers…

On line

  • Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader?  Are you  making regular blog posts and updates?  Have you considered more SEO, more PPC,  back links, etc
  • Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
  • Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest advertising.
  • Email news and updates

So then, back to the management version:
Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.

Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.

But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.

Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer

*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”

Swindon Company learns of secret plans to speed up the internet

World Wide Web speeded upWe’ve all had that feeling at one time or another when surfing the internet and felt that everything was running slower than it should? You could reboot your computing device, PC or Mac, Laptop or Desktop, Phone or Tablet but things won’t be much better.

You reboot your router in the hope that will make a difference but after the 5 minutes that it takes to restart you realise that you’ve forgotten the password and your master password list is stored in the cloud so you get on your phone and struggle to log on to Google docs. You get there eventually, find your password and key it in – only to remember that you changed it 2 weeks ago and forgot to update your master list so you try to log in to your router from your phone – but can’t remember the password so you Google how to reset your router and make a note of the master password.

Frustrated laptop userFinally, you are back online but nothing has changed, accessing websites is still like struggling through deep snow.

You run a speed-test and everything appears as it should be and yet everything still feels slow, just like when you input an address into your SatNav and it lets you know that the journey will take 1 hour, you set off at 2pm and don’t arrive until 4:30 but you didn’t get caught in any traffic jams, there was just way too much traffic on the roads.

You go to your favourite search engine to see whether anyone else has the same problem and the interweb is full of people with the same complaint.

Bits and BytesThe reality is that the interweb is just too congested, too many people are using it, there are just too many bits, bytes and bobs zooming around and it’s going to get worse. More and more people are buying phones and tablets to get online whilst out and about, Smart Thermostats are connected to the internet so that people can turn their heating up and down whilst out and about, light bulbs are getting internet connections so that you can turn them on and off, up and down and even change colour whilst away from the house.

Fridges are getting connected so that they can order groceries as soon as you take them out of the fridge, connected microwaves will enable you to zap your food when you are minutes from home so that it’s ready for you the moment you walk through your front door even spectacles will soon be useless without a connection to the internet.

And on top of all this, your toilet will soon be connected, emailing an analysis of your urine or faeces directly to your GP for close examination

However, Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions has been snooping around some of the hidden places on the interweb and have discovered that a solution could be close at hand.

You won’t have heard about it yet because it’s a big, big, big secret but we’ve found about it, tucked away in an article in Hello magazine when they were covering Benedict Cumberbatch’s sixth wedding anniversary plans.

Apparently Benedict had a lot of very smart people around for tea and discussions about his choice of Covid Friendly venues one afternoon. Being a bit of a geek he’d got some of the brightest tech people together to crunch this difficult problem. Bill Gates was there, as was , Tim Berners Lee, Vint Cerf, Brian Cox, Dara O’Briain and even the late Stephen Hawking & Steve Jobs (by seance).

The conversation meandered (as they do) and one of the topics touched on was the frustration caused by the slowness of the interwebs and they decided to work on a solution, there and then, and the solution they reached will blow you away with its amazing simplicity.

All that needs to happen is the introduction of another w and all we need to do is get used to this. www. is changing to wwww. and we have a year to get used to it because the Wider World Wide Web is being introduced on April 1st 2021 .
You can discover how this is being achieved at wwww.enterprise-oms.uk

Questions or comments to Andy Poulton
Email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Tweet @andypoulton
Phone 07966 547146

There’s Google and then there’s the others

A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.

But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.

And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.

From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines

Ask.com – Founded 1996

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Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity

Baidu – Founded 2000

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Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.

Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?

Bing – Launched 2009

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Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.

They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less

DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008

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DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either. You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.

Ecosia – Founded 2009

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Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine.

Ecosia is CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.

Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.

Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.


Google – Founded 1996

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Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK

Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.

Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.

Search-Wise – First Seen 2005

EastEnders viewers left confused over Dot Cotton's hilarious X-rated  technical gaffe | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV | Express.co.uk

If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.

Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.

Start Page – Founded 1998

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StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.

What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.

This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine

Yahoo – Founded 1994

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Once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.

In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine to provide Pay per Click advertising.

Yandex – Founded 1997

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Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.

Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.

In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches

What can you learn from this

The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.

What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility

Pie Chart of Search Engine Market Share, Globally and UK

If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.

Call me on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.