10 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts

There are so many different ways to market your business online. You need to have your own website, a social presence, and maybe even a video strategy.

Members of our small business community have plenty of experience with these methods. Read on for some of their tips in this week’s Small Business Trends community news and information roundup.

Make a Lasting First Impression

(nancyrubin)

Your landing page is often the first thing people see when they get to your website. So its job is to create a positive first impression and a clear call to action. If your brand is having trouble converting online customers, consider these tips for creating an effective landing page from Adam Groff.

Create Social Media Graphics That Spread Like Wildfire

(Rebekah Radice)

Visual marketing has become incredibly important in recent years thanks to social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to be successful on those platforms, you need to know what kinds of images are likely to gain attention. Rebekah Radice shares some tips for creating shareable social images. You can also see conversation about the post in the BizSugar community.

Use These Best Practices for Design and Conversion

(Marketing Land)

Great web design doesn’t always lead to the best conversion numbers. But designing specifically to increase conversion doesn’t always lead to great design. However, there are a few things that Web designers and conversion optimizers can agree on, as Jeremy Smith shares.

Avoid These Writing Mistakes

(Kapow Content)

Whether you’re creating content for your blog, social media channel or other outlets, great writing is key. You don’t need professional training to write great content for your business. But tips from Wendy Johnson can help you avoid some common writing mistakes.

Don’t Automatically Write Off Pop Ups

(Spin Sucks)

Most people hate pop ups on websites. However, when used in the right situations and for the right customers, they can actually be pretty effective. Laura Petrolino shares some tips for implementing pop ups. And BizSugar members shared some feedback as well.

Understand Your Video Presentation Options

(The SEM Post)

Video presentations can be some of the most effective ways to get the attention of your customers and teach them about what you have to offer. But there has been quite a bit of change in the online video presentation market lately, as Greg Jarboe explains. So it can help to know your options before getting started.

Understand These Realities of Blogging for Business

(Busy Blogs Plus)

Pretty much anyone can start a business blog. But it takes practice and hard work to actually keep it going and make it successful. Amanda Lynch shares these and other realities of business blogging. The BizSugar community also discussed the post.

Connect with Your Employees Online

(Biz Epic)

Virtual businesses are becoming more and more prominent. That also means that there are a lot of online tools available for business owners to communicate with their employees who work remotely. Ivan Widjaya shares some tools and tips for virtual businesses to connect with their employees.

Learn These Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs

(CorpNet)

You don’t get to be a successful entrepreneur without learning a few lessons along the way. So less experienced business owners could do well to listen to some of that wisdom that their more experienced counterparts have to share. Nellie Akalp shares some of those business lessons from successful entrepreneurs.

Find Marketing and Additional Resources Online

(SMB Stash)

There are so many different resources available online, it can actually be difficult to keep track of them all. But this new online directory is now available to give small and medium sized businesses a place to find a huge variety of resources that can help them with marketing and more.

10 Must Reads for Improving Your Online Marketing

Having a good website and clear online marketing strategy is very important in today’s business world. But there’s a lot that goes into building an online strategy. So we rounded up some of the best tips and related posts from members of our small business community. Read on for the full list in this week’s Small Business Trends community and information roundup.

Create a Welcoming Website

(Barefoot Basics)

What do your customers see when they go to your website? Do they see a site that is welcoming and professional, or one that is confusing and difficult to navigate? This post from Rochelle Stone explains the importance of creating a welcoming website and some things to consider in order to accomplish that goal.

Correct These Google Analytics Blind Spots

(Marketing Land)

If you have a website for your business, then you probably use a service like Google Analytics to measure its performance. But there are some website features that Google Analytics doesn’t help you with. This post from Brian Massey outlines some of those Google Analytics blind spots and offers solutions for correcting them.

Make Your Web Content Live Up to Its Promise

(Premier Content Source)

Writing great headlines and promoting content is very important to finding online success. But your actual content needs to live up to the hype. Here, Nicole Beckett shares some thoughts on creating great content. And the BizSugar community discusses the post further here.

Use These Tips for Your Holiday Facebook Strategy

(Competitive Edge)

When the holiday season rolls around, many businesses take the opportunity to spruce up their social media promotions. In fact, there are many different ways you can make your Facebook page more inviting for holiday customers. This post by Shantha Wetterhan shares three strategies for optimizing your holiday Facebook presence.

Measure Your Social Media ROI

(Stuart J Davidson)

When you use social media in your marketing efforts, it can be difficult to really tell what you are getting out of it. But this post from Stuart J. Davidson shares some methods for measuring social media ROI. And BizSugar members talk more about the post here.

Avoid These Online Marketing Mistakes

(Belle Communications)

So you’re marketing your business online. That’s great. But there are plenty of roadblocks that can negatively impact your online marketing efforts. Here, Kate Finley shares 10 of the most common online marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Update Your Content Marketing Efforts

(Griot Digital)

Content marketing is a constantly evolving field. It’s not just the tools that change though. Businesses also need to update the methods they use for trying to reach customers. This post by Nadia James includes some thoughts on content marketing along with a helpful infographic.

Tell a Great Story

(Resonance Content)

It’s important to tell a story with your online and in-person marketing efforts. Part of that story is to explain who exactly you are. Here, Rachel Parker shares some methods for telling your story effectively. And BizSugar members talk more about the post here.

Use These Internet Security Tips in the Workplace

(Internet Billboards)

Online security is becoming increasingly important, particularly for business matters. In this post, Agnes Marylinn shares some tips for improving internet security in the workplace.

Get Your Great Content Noticed With SEO

(XEN)

If you want to get your website or blog noticed, you need to have great content. But if no one ever sees that content in the first place, it still won’t do any good. This post by Kerry Butters shares some thoughts on balancing SEO and great content. And the BizSugar community shares some thoughts on SEO as well.

Step Up Your Online Marketing Efforts with These 10 Tips

Today’s businesses need an online marketing strategy to succeed. While every business’s strategy may look a bit different, there are some common threads that hold most of those successful strategies together.

Members of the small business community have plenty of tips to share when it comes to successfully marketing businesses online. Check out their top tips below.

Make Your Way with Social Media

Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You have to determine the strategy that is going to work best for your business, as Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media discusses here. And Strella elaborated on these suggestions in a conversation in BizSugar community here.

Super Charge Your Local Search Results

Even for local businesses, online marketing can make a huge difference. Local search, for example, can help to bring new faces to your store, restaurant or other local business. To make the most of your local search marketing, check out this Inc article by Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell.

Think About These Things for Your Website’s Social Sharing Features

Letting customers or followers do some of your online marketing for you can really help out and save you time. But you need to make sharing your content easy for them. So in this article at the Social Media Week, Larry Alton suggests some things you should think about when incorporating social sharing buttons into your website.

Keep Up with Marketing Technology Trends

Thanks to technology, online marketing is constantly changing. That means that you need to keep up with the new trends in order to stay relevant to tech savvy consumers. This article at Docurated by Angela Stringfellow includes some marketing technology trends that are poised to re-shape the world of marketing.

Grow Your Website Traffic

Content creation can be a key part of your online marketing strategy. But you need to build traffic in order for your content to be effective. This post on the official dlvr.it blog by Bill Flitter includes a playbook for growing traffic to your content.

Expect These Things When Joining Social Media

As a small business owner, the idea of joining various social media sites and regularly using them as part of your online marketing plan can seem daunting. But if you know what to expect, the process can be a bit easier. Here on NutsPR, Corina Manea shares some things you should expect when joining social media as a small business owner.

Use These Best Practices for Twitter Polls

Twitter’s polling feature can help you to gain insights and interaction from your followers on the platform. And the microblogging site has now revealed some of the best practices that people should use when running polls, which Matt Southern covers in this Search Engine Journal article. BizSugar members also chime in with their own thoughts here.

Consider Starting Your Own Podcast

Lots of businesses have websites and social media accounts. But starting your own podcast can really help you to stand out in today’s business world. Here, Ileane Smith shares some of the benefits that businesses could realize through starting a podcast.

Create a Content Anchor

When creating content for an online audience, the length and quality of your content can make a big difference in how many people see and interact with it. In this post on Blogger Sidekick, Will Blunt discusses the concept of a content anchor and how it could help your online marketing strategy.

Use Influencer Marketing That Works

Influencer marketing is a relatively new concept to a lot of businesses. But it can really jumpstart your online marketing efforts if used correctly. Here, Ann Smarty discusses how small businesses can use influencer marketing in a way that should work both now and in the future.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:  sbtips@gmail.com.

“Phoney” online shopping sites, FIA directed to investigate

GUJRAT: An investigation has been launched on the orders of the district consumer protection court to the Federal Investigation Agency Karachi director (Cyber Crime) (FIA), for the probe of those fraudulent companies that have been ripping off people in the name of online shopping.

In a case filed by a citizen against an online company for allegedly committing fraud with him, the court has issued directions to the FIA.

Muhammad Umar of Gujrat filed a complaint with district consumer court judge Bakht Fakhar Behzad on Feb 28, 2017. He said he purchased a black colour leather jacket through shipment No. 772177601294 and customer reference No. A 01-28-2017 through website www.apnidukaan.com. The product was found defective and was delivered to him by TCS, Gujarat.

The petitioner mentioned address in the complaint address of respondent as Apni Dukaan, 504, Al-Amin Tower, Main Nipa Chowrangi, Gulshan Colony, Karachi. The envelop was returned to the court inscribed that “on the above-mentioned address there existed no shop”, as the respondent was summoned through Leopard Courier Service.

“Phoney” online shopping sites, FIA directed to investigate

Sensing the situation that fake online websites are working in Pakistan, the judge in his decision said: “I have taken pain myself to disclose the truth. The page on Facebook was opened but website did not respond. I have noticed with great concern that a number of fraudulent online stores are working in Pakistan…”

The judge has directed the FIA Cyber Crime Circle, Karachi, to investigate the matter, situated at FIA building, 1st Floor, Near Darul Sehat Hospital, Johar Chorangi.

Under section 11 of the Punjab Consumer Protection Rules, 2009, the judge has issued the order directing the registrar of the court to send copy of the order to the federal interior minister Islamabad, FIA director general, industries secretary, Directorate of Provincial Consumer Protection Council and Gujrat deputy commissioner.

 

Online Eid shopping gaining popularity

LAHORE – The increasing popularity of online shopping ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr among Pakistanis has upset the traders of local markets.

With the advent of technology and internet people are exposed to a wide range of things, which are easily accessible as the whole world is just a click away.

The changing trend of shopping among the consumers is replacing the traditional way of shopping and slowing down the sales of giant shopping malls and local markets, including Saddar Bazaar, Ichhra Bazaar, Pace shopping centre, Model Town Bank Square Market and Liberty Market.

According to a survey conducted by The Nation on Wednesday in bazaars and markets, shopkeepers are selling all the stuff at comparatively higher prices as compared to last year.

On Facebook, different brands are offering Eid-ul-Fitr discounts from 20 percent to 40 percent to lure the potential customers who are always looking for these kinds of deals.

Daraz.pk is offering 20 percent discount on shoes, 40 percent discount on stylish jewellery and 70 percent on kids fashion and toys. The website strives to make sure that the best collections of designer clothing and fashion shoes are brought onto people’s computer screen.

Online Eid shopping gaining popularity

The famous brands Kayseria, Khaadi, Sana Safinaz, Gul Ahmed and Amir Adnan have started selling their new collections like hot cakes on the internet. To establish e-commerce industry banks and telecommunication brands are offering amazing discounts on online Shopping Day for Eid and Ramazan. Thus online shopping has become an increasingly popular and much liked trend, which has gained a lot of momentum. If it continues to facilitate people like this, it might take over the retail stores.

Talking to The Nation, retailer Faisal Janjua, owner of a shop in Liberty Market, said this year they were floating special offers to attract buyers. “I have done publicity of my products through my Facebook page. There is only a specific class, which comes to purchase clothes for Eid-ul-Fitr in Liberty and elsewhere in posh areas, while a large number of people is buying online due to special discount offers,” he said.

“If we are selling unstitched embroidered lawn for Rs4,000, they are selling the same product for Rs3,500 with free home delivery. We have increased the prices of all our stuff because this year there is no sale,” he said.

Jawad Malik, resident of Samanabad, said he came to Ichhra market to purchase suits and shoes for his children but changed his mind after finding out that they were very expensive. “There is no check on the shopkeepers. The price of a pair of standard shoes for children ranges between Rs600 to Rs800 which is higher than last year,” he said.

Khaadi store manager Amir said that those who live near shopping malls prefer to buy on their own. “In comparison, walk in sales as compared to last year have fallen. Mostly people are purchasing online and we are going out of stock this time,” he said. Fashion designer Arsalan Iqbal was of the view that e-commerce was the future of clothing line. “Awareness has improved so much that now it has surpassed retail store sales.”

“If we compare the online sales with the average sales of one of our highest sales generating flagship outlet then yes, online business is going head to head,” he said.

Fashion designer Erum Khan was of the view that her brand had specific lines catering to each segment and price point, fulfilling the design needs of each. “Bridal wear is expensive that is the reason international buyers rather than local prefer purchasing bridal wear online. On Eid, embroidered lawn is more sold online because of the prices,” she said.

Shopkeeper Babar Awan of Anarkali said that people were not coming to bazaars due to sweltering heat. “Online shopping special offers do not worry us. Middle and lower middleclass people come here for shopping. They don’t come at day time; they start coming after Iftar. Hopefully, the Eid rush will start in a couple of days,” Babar said.

Sundaram Finance backs online education loans marketplace GyanDhan

GyanDhan, an online marketplace for education loans operated by Delhi-based Senbonzakura Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, has secured an undisclosed amount from Sundaram Finance Holdings, a subsidiary of Chennai-based Sundaram Finance Ltd, it said in a statement.

GyanDhan, which was founded by IIT Kanpur alumnus Ankit Mehra and IIT Delhi graduate Jainesh Sinha in May 2016, facilitates loans for students aspiring to pursue studies abroad. It has tied up with Axis Bank and State Bank of India to offer loans, and takes a commission from the lenders. The company claims to have helped more than 250 students get education loans worth Rs 60 crore.

The platform had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs and Harvard Angels in July last year .

It had earlier received angel funding from Satyen Kothari, founder of Cube and Citrus Pay.

Sundaram Finance deals in retail finance with a presence in vehicle finance, home finance, mutual funds, general insurance and financial services distribution.

“We are already engaging with multiple startups with various types of engagement models – operational, financing and equity investments,” said Harsha Viji, deputy managing director, Sundaram Finance.

The group is looking to buy minority stakes in early-stage ventures for $1 million or less, though larger investments will be made where they are needed, it said.

The group is also planning to co-invest with venture capitalists and angel investors in this space.

In the same space, Chennai-based school financing company Shiksha Financial Services India Pvt. Ltd had received about Rs 6.7 crore ($1 million) from The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation along with Aspada Investment Company last year in November.

Other players in the segment are Delhi-based Indian School Finance Company Pvt. Ltd (ISFC) and Bangalore-based Thirumeni Finance Pvt. Ltd, which operates under the banner of Varthana.

While ISFC caters to private unaided schools, vocational colleges, coaching and tuition centres, Shiksha provides loans for asset creation, working capital and school fee in the education sector. Varthana offers loans to private schools that cater to the poor and the emerging middle class.

In September 2016, ISFC raised Rs 10 crore ($1.5 million) in funding from US-based impact investment firm Gray Matters Capital and its associate fund GrayGhost Ventures.

In April 2016, Varthana raised Rs 93 crore ($14 million) in its Series B round of financing led by Kaizen Private Equity and Zephyr Peacock India.

 

These 5 Tips Will Change the Way You Market Your Online Store

So, you’ve put together a beautiful eCommerce store and are eagerly anticipating traffic to start trickling in.

At this point, many eCommerce merchants start to realize that, without doing the right types of marketing, this traffic may never come. It’s easy to feel frustrated or confused at the wide variety of different marketing channels available to you, but don’t fret. This guide is designed to present you with 5 of the most effective eCommerce marketing strategies.

eCommerce Marketing Strategies

Invest in a High-Quality Content Strategy

Many eCommerce merchants view content only as an effective marketing channel but, for some, content is the lifeblood of their entire business.

Content is one of the most effective and rewarding marketing strategies out there because it connects with virtually every other marketing endeavor. For example, a simple blog post could be used in your email marketing, social media accounts, and SEO keyword targeting strategies while simultaneously helping to build your brand and position your site as an authority in a specific niche.

Your content strategy should primarily focus on creating valuable content that speaks directly to your audience. The backbone of your content strategy involves researching:

  • A target audience. Come up with a persona that encapsulates your target audience’s needs and motivations. This makes it easier for your content team to visualize for whom they’re creating content.
  • Your audience’s problems. This research can be found anywhere, from in-person interviews with stakeholders to browsing niche-specific forums such as Reddit. What are the pain points and problems your target audience is having? What are some roadblocks that cause people to hesitate before purchasing your products?
  • Content audit. This assessment involves conducting an evaluation on your site’s current content. There’s no need to have a clunky site filled with mediocre content. Here are a few questions you should ask:
    • Is it consistently good?
    • Are there any lackluster articles?
    • Are people engaging with your content on social platforms?
    • Does this content do your brand justice?
    • If the content is meant to convert, is it doing a good job?
  • Competitive analysis. Once you have a firm understanding of where your content stands, take a gander at your brand’s competitors to see how they’re doing. You’ll likely find that many of the top brands do a phenomenal job at producing high-quality content. If they aren’t, you’re in an even better position. There could be a huge opportunity to create value that your competitors are failing to provide.

Create Facebook Ads Around Your Best Pieces of Content

Content is just the gift that keeps on giving.

Merchants that create extremely good pieces of content are able to receive much more value from these pages if they advertise them rather than just leaving them. This not only allows merchants to drive traffic to pages and inspire likes and shares, but it also allows them to provide new users a valuable experience.

By creating content around your audience’s needs by answering questions, offering guidance or providing value in a variety of creative ways, merchants are able to make a positive first impression.

For example, let’s assume your store sells shoes. Instead of creating a Facebook ad campaign to blast out a product page for a few of your shoes on clearance, you could create a single piece of content titled “The 14 Best Athletic Shoes for Summer Under $50.” Now, instead of having to create multiple ads around different product pages, you only have to create a single ad for that specific piece of content.

On that piece of content, you could have links to your product pages and let the sales trickle in. Alternatively, a more value-driven piece of content could be “How to Find the Best Deal on Shoes,” with a guide that includes several options that aren’t sales-driven, and one or two links to your product pages.

Marketing has evolved past the point of constantly hard-selling, and the new age of digital marketing requires merchants to provide their users with value every step of the way. By advertising your most valuable pieces of content, you will be able to drive traffic that is interested in solving a certain issue.

This gives you the opportunity to insert calls to action (CTAs) throughout your content to either collect email addresses to keep the conversation going or to direct interested traffic toward a product page.

Email Marketing for Retention

Email marketing has been around for over 40 years for a reason: it works.

Merchants who are able to build a healthy list of subscribers can segment this list based on specific categories to send out effective messages for specific promotions. For example, if you’re a shoe site, you could send out an email that advertises your discounted sale to shoppers who have a higher propensity to buy from your clearance category, and another email to your customers who tend to spend more money per order.

Email marketing in 2017 involves enticing your potential subscribers with potential value and then delivering it. By setting expectations of what they will be receiving and how often, merchants will be able to effectively set a foundation that will allow them to consistently drive traffic to new pieces of content and product pages.

This strategy not only allows you to reach your audience at any given time, but it also makes building a long-term relationship possible. By consistently providing value to your list through useful content, you will be able to build brand loyalty. The more effective your email marketing is, the more efficient your overall marketing strategies will be. Statistically, email marketing yields 4,300 percent ROI for businesses in the US.

Perhaps the most valuable component of email marketing is the ability to retain your traffic. This reduces the inherent risk associated with primarily relying on a single source for traffic that could potentially change its algorithm.

For example, a minor tweak in Facebook’s algorithm could drastically increase the cost of reaching a specific number of people. If a business is overly dependent on any one source, these algorithm tweaks could be lethal. Thankfully, email marketing has stayed relatively consistent while maintaining its effectiveness for nearly five decades.

eCommerce Marketing Strategies

Leverage Product and Social Media Reviews

Merchants often completely overlook their product reviews as a source for marketing inspiration. Organic and fair product reviews play a huge role in forming trust with your shoppers, and they shouldn’t be tucked away in some obscure corner. First and foremost, you should make sure that they are present on your product pages and every other page that is relevant to the buying decision.

However, the value of reviews doesn’t stop there. Integrating your product reviews in your email marketing and social media strategies in order to convince people that your products are worth a first or second look can help you bring in traffic that would have otherwise overlooked your email or ad.

It’s important that these reviews are user generated and genuine because, if they look falsified, your brand could end up making a negative impression.

Use Ad Retargeting

A shopper clicks through your site and finds a product they like. They add it to their cart and continue shopping. Suddenly … pop! A Facebook notification. The previously committed shopper rapidly changes tabs to check their Facebook alert and gets sucked into a conversation. The minute that customer ventures off your site, the chances of them completing a purchase greatly diminish.

Ad retargeting allows merchants to get another crack at making a sale. Dynamic retargeting allows merchants to send an advertisement based on a user’s certain actions. These ads can be personalized down to the specific action (i.e., cart abandonment) or be just a kind reminder of your site to a user who has spent a significant amount of time clicking around in the past. This strategy helps to fill in the gaps the short attention span of the average internet shopper.

There are a few more reasons that may have caused shoppers to bounce, other than distractions. There are likely a handful of products similar to yours, and the convenience of online shopping allows shoppers to browse different options with relative ease.

Retargeting ads are useful because they are 70 percent more likely to convert than any other type of advertising. This allows merchants to get more out of all their other marketing strategies by creating a retargeting net that helps to bring some shoppers back.

Final Thoughts

The strategy behind these marketing tips is to allow merchants to be able to reach new audiences while also building in a retention-based component. These two high-level strategies paired together play off each other in beautiful harmony.

The retention-based component lets merchants get another chance by retargeting missed traffic and, also, to “own” their audience through email marketing. This also makes the customer acquisition component much more effective and less expensive to run on a larger scale.

Utilizing these 5 marketing tips, along with other effective ways to add value to your eCommerce site, will not only help you to make more sales but provide an overall better experience for your shoppers.

SEO Company Busted for Fake Online Reviews

When consumers read online reviews of a product or business, such as those on Amazon, it is often difficult to figure out which reviews are legitimate, and if they should trust any of the opinions that they read online these days.

The situation is not helped by companies and marketers going out of their way to post hundreds of fake online reviews with the view of unduly influencing consumers’ buying decisions.

Just this month, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent non-ministerial government department charged with investigating alleged violations o consumer law, cracked down on Total SEO & Marketing Ltd, a company the CMA says it caught posting over 800 fake reviews online between 2014 and 2015.

Total SEO Company Busted For Fake Reviews

During its investigation, the CMA said it had found that Total SEO, a search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing company, had posted hundreds of reviews on behalf of 86 small businesses, ranging from car dealers and mechanics to landscape gardeners and other tradespeople, across 26 different websites.

Total SEO has co-operated with the CMA’s consumer law investigation and escaped a financial penalty. However, the SEO company has been ordered to remove the fake reviews it has already posted and will suffer the additional humiliation of having the CMA writing to its client base to caution them about the company and the illegality of asking firms to write reviews on their behalf.

Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said:

“With more than half of people in the UK using online reviews to help them choose what to buy, they are becoming an increasingly valuable source of information. Fake reviews can lead to people making the wrong decisions and fair-playing businesses losing out”

Back in the U.S., the New York state attorney general’s office caught 19 companies in 2013 for offering to create fake reviews after an undercover investigation in which employees from the Attorney General’s office posed as the owners of a Brooklyn yogurt shop that was trying to up its online ranking. The 19 companies identified  by the investigation agreed to cease manipulating sites like Yelp, and were forced to pay more than $350,000 in fines.

Authorities persistently warn companies against unfair or misleading business practices, such as falsely representing themselves as consumers.  These activities, they insist, hurt both consumers and fair-playing businesses. The CMA says companies in the UK found guilty of posting fake reviews can receive a heavy fine or, in some cases, see its directors given a prison sentence.

Individuals who write and post fake online reviews, or who blackmail business owners or companies with threats of posting negative reviews about them, can also find themselves in hot water. As recently as October 2015, Amazon sued 1,114 users it identified during an investigation conducted by company representatives who attempted to buy fake reviews from gig site Fiverr.

Similarly, William Stanley (a.k.a William Laurence, William Davis, William Harris and Bill Stanley) was this year sentenced to 37 months in prison after he was found guilty of threatening to write negative reviews and comments about the Dallas-based mergers and acquisition firm Generational Equity unless he was paid.

The court also ordered Stanley, who was initially recruited by the firm for SEO services and reputation management, to pay $174,888 in restitution to a dozen victims.

“Search engine optimization companies, PR and marketing agencies provide a valuable service to businesses, but they must do this lawfully. Our enforcement action against Total SEO makes clear that posting fake reviews about clients is unacceptable,” Arora added.

Google on Why It’s Keen to Enable Opportunities in India’s Online Education Sector

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google says the education market is set to grow to $1.96 billion by 2021
  • Success in the future is going to require a mix of online and offline
  • Faster and cheaper mobile data has been a key driver in this sector

Google has reported a huge increase in education-related queries on both search and on YouTube. According a study Google carried out with KPMG, the Indian online education sector will be a $1.96 billion (roughly Rs. 12,670 crores) industry by 2021. Gadgets 360 had a chance to catch up with Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director, Google India, to talk about the education industry in the country, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Bawankule tells us that while the overall number of Internet users in India is growing rapidly, contributing, in turn, to a growth in volumes of search queries, Google has seen a greater rise in interest in education and that’s why the company wants to focus on the sector and understand what the public wants.

Google on Why It’s Keen to Enable Opportunities in India’s Online Education Sector

Bawankule says that the online education sector is spread across a number of different areas – tutoring, test preparation, and higher education are all in the formal sector, while there are more informal areas such as re-skilling, corporate training, and language learning. Predictably, growth in mobile queries has far outpaced PC queries, as the number of users for the former shot up dramatically in India. Bawankule says that much of the growth acceleration has been in the last year, crediting it to the Jio-effect, as other providers have also cut data tariffs to stay competitive.

“A lot of the new net users are also coming from areas with low access to education,” he explains. “In those spaces, people are particularly keen to invest in education as it can open up opportunities.”

smartphone screen reading generic pixabay learning

“Online education has a lot of advantages,” says Bawankule. “It’s convenient, because offline, if there’s a class it will be at a fixed time. But online, you could take the class late at night, or early in the morning, or whenever suits you. It’s also more adaptable, and can be personalised for your requirements.”

He adds that the growth in queries has come from all over India, with Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities that have lesser access to offline coaching in particular showing great growth.

For the online education sector, Bawankule tells Gadgets 360 that important changes need to be made to meet the projected demand. He believes that better content models, with more video based instruction, is going to be critical. Better hiring linkages will matter a lot as well, as lack of recruitment possibilities is seen as a major issue with online education, he adds.

“Going forward, it will also be very important to have an offline and online, mixed model of education,” says Bawankule. “It’s obviously not going to be possible to have a centre in every village, but people need to have something accessible – like maybe in a 30km radius. This is because, if you’re studying something like physics for example, fine, you can learn a lot from theory, but at least once a month you need to be able to travel to a lab and learn the practical side of things as well.”

What is Google’s role?
Apart from carrying out activities such as this study, what other part can Google play in the education ecosystem, we asked Bawankule.

asus chromebook flip story winfuture

“The key role for Google is to enable the ecosystem,” he says. “There needs to be an understanding of the consumers and the ecosystem, and what we do with studies like this one is to provide the data that can help startups and established education providers to plan for the future.”

Beyond that, he adds that Google is providing tools for developers, and working with offline players to help them move online as well. “The market is huge, and we are helping in a number of different capacities,” he adds, pointing out that the Chromebook team has been doing very well in the education sector in India, as it is globally.

Beyond that, he says, there has been a “significant jump in niche players who are realising the importance of addressing specific problems in education, rather than trying to deliver a broad solution.”

Bawankule signs off from the conversation by saying, “learning and education is a very broad category that goes from do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, which can teach people useful practical skills, to Khan Academy, for example, and that’s why it’s important to have specialist players who address different parts of the issue.”

 

The online shop where everything costs just 50p – but there’s a small catch

BARGAIN hunters can now cash in on the ultimate no-frills online website where everything cost just 50p.

The online store, simply called fiftypencefashion, offers a whole range of products – from kids accessories to jewellery and makeup – for just 50 pence.

The online store offers a whole range of products for just 50p

The online store offers a whole range of products for just 50p

Postage is free on all items and new stock is delivered on a weekly basis.

Freebie hunter Anushka Fernando, who works at Magic Freebies UK, first discovered the website while looking for cheap cosmetics online.

She said: “Fiftypencefashion offer a whole range of items for just 50p. Naturally, I went straight to the cosmetics section, and was surprised to find branded nail polishes from Collection and eye-shadows by Max Factor.

“If you do some digging around, you can find all sorts of bargains. Plus, they stock a wide range of party items including partyware, party bag fillers, invitations and wrapping paper – perfect for mums on a budget!”

But there’s one small catch that shoppers need to know about – you are required to spend at least £10 per order, meaning you’ll need to stock up on those bargains.

Here are some of the best deals spotted on the website this morning:

Makeup

Collection 2000 long last gel eye liner
Cost: £4.99 at Boots and Superdrug
Saving with fiftypencefashion: £4.00

Max factor max effect trio tester pots
Cost: £1.99 at Superdrug for one palette (£5.97 for three)
Saving: £5.47

7

Nails

Collection 2000 Hot looks nail varnish
Cost: £1.99 at Boots
Saving: £1.49

7

Jewellery

Summer bracelets
Cost: Juelz beaded bracelet between £2.39 – £3.99 on eBay
Saving: between £1.89 – £3.49

7

Hair

Floral alice band and scrunchies set
Cost: £4.99 on Amazon
Saving: £4.09

7

Party supplies

12ft party banner
Cost: £1 on Amazon
Save: 50p

To snap up other online bargains, check out eBay – as an investigation by the Sun Online earlier this year found that shops flog leftover stock on the auction site and discounts can be as good as 80 per cent off high street prices.

Over 50 big names, including Argos, Debenhams, Lakeland, Tesco and Superdrug, have official shops on eBay.

The products are mostly new and never-been-used end of line stock or leftover sales items. Some shops may sell “refurbished” items which are usually products which have been returned by customers.