Tag Archives: marketing

Cloudy with Little Chance of Downtime: 4 Key Benefits of Using Cloud Hosting

web hosting tips

Back when the cloud was still a relatively new concept in technology, I used to roll my eyes a little whenever some random company talks about harnessing the power of the cloud to power their products and/or services. I am very happy to say however than in 2019, the cloud has long transformed from a buzzword into a dominant force in technology, with products like Google’s upcoming cloud video game streaming service Stadia representing another important step in cloud architecture.

Of all the forms of cloud technology available to the public, we’re most intimately familiar with the concept of cloud storage provided by services such as Google Drive and Dropbox but there are a lot of other ways the cloud can be utilized. One of them is through the practice of cloud hosting which has proven to be quite a useful alternative to the typical practice of shared and dedicated hosting. If you’re still on the lookout for web hosting services to use, this might be a good time to read on why cloud hosting is deserving of at least some consideration.

The revolutionary capabilities of cloud technology

The simplest thing we can say about the cloud is that it’s not tethered to any physical object. There is actually a definitive technical explanation of the cloud but that would require a time and space we don’t have at the moment. In cloud storage for example, your data isn’t actually stored in a single physical server but a collection of servers working in tandem operated by the service provider which in the case of Google Drive is Google. As your data is stored on this ‘cloud’, you can access them through a variety of different devices and/or through anywhere in the world as long as you have a working internet connection.

As someone who writes a lot, cloud storage is incredibly useful as it allows to me to continue writing wherever I am at the moment and to jot down whatever inspirations I found while out and about into the same document. Cloud storage saves me from having to keep multiples copies of my work as that can be incredibly impractical. Cloud hosting doesn’t necessarily confer you with the same benefits but they are still incredibly useful in all sorts of different ways and the following 4 example should help convince you.

Cloud hosting has inherent redundancy

When it comes to plastics waste, redundancy may be the last thing we’re looking for but when it comes to your website, redundancy is an absolute must. When your website is hosted on a physical server, the minute said server is hit by a problem; your website will be out for as long as it takes for to get the server up and running again. You can of course, keep a backup of your website on another server but that would cost you money and this requires you to maintain two separate versions of your website and that requires more work.

On the other hand, as cloud hosting relies on a cluster of servers, a failure in one of the servers would be far from enough to take your website down. Cloud hosting saves you from having to keep a backup of your website as they’re is designed with built-in redundancy. While it is possible for all servers inside a cloud platform got knocked out at the same time, that is incredibly unlikely and right off the bat, cloud hosting gives your website a level of reliability that the typical web hosting aren’t capable of.

Cloud hosting has better security by default

Because problems affecting a single server will have a minimal impact on the cloud platform as a whole, cloud hosting is inherently more secure than shared or dedicated hosting. Data is a very important commodity in the modern world and cloud hosting ensures the security of your data by ensuring that even if a physical malfunction were to occur in one of the servers, your data will be safe. Even if one of the servers were breached, the cloud platform could simply isolates the server in question while ensuring no downtime to the platform as a whole which provides your website with better security and reliability.

Cloud hosting is highly scalable

When choosing a web hosting plan, you’re always given a choice. Do you want to play it safe by going for the highest possible bandwidth? Or do you go for the economical choice by going with a plan that has limited bandwidth? Both options have their own shortcomings as in the former, you’re going to be wasting a lot of resource (and money) when it turns out that your website is only operating at 25% capacity. In the latter, you run the risk of losing business if it turns out that the traffic you’re getting is bigger than your initial estimates.

Cloud hosting solves this by giving you a level of flexibility unseen with typical web hosting. As cloud hosting operates using a cluster of servers grouped together, the total amount of resource available is far larger than even dedicated hosting. If you’re seeing that you’re running out of resources or you’re about to run a promotion that’s likely to bring in more traffic than usual, you could simply pull in more resources from the cloud at a cost. Most cloud hosting platforms allow you to adjust this in real-time without having to wait for approval from the hosting provider which can be incredibly useful in a pinch.

Cloud hosting has a flexible pricing scheme

This is still related to the point above, cloud hosting can also be financially efficient as you’re only going to be billed based on your usage. Typically, you’ll be given a choice of several plans with an increasing level of threshold but you won’t be charged a flat price. Instead, you’ll be charged based on how much resource you’re using with the rate varying from one plan to another. It’s like being given a choice of a diner or a Michelin star restaurant (the different plans) where you’ll be charged only on foods you’ve ordered (your usage). By contrast, the typical hosting plan is like a buffet where you’ll be charged the same no matter how much you eat.

Keeping Your Enemies Closer: Using Social Media for Competitive Analysis

social media tips

If there’s any trend worth observing in this 21st century is how these contemporary times has made activities that would typically be described as frivolous into something considerably more substantial. You can for example turn your hobby of playing video games into an actual, bountiful living or you can simply upload photos and videos of you in social media into an actual career. That last part there is particularly important as the use of social media is still stigmatized as something silly even though they can be particularly useful as long as you know what to look for from social media platforms.

For one, as social media is where the majority of the younger generation spends a part of their time, platforms such as Twitter or Instagram make for an incredibly fertile ground for the purpose of marketing. Social media platforms allow you to do research on your target market and connect with them directly. However, what’s less known is that those very same platforms could be used for the purpose of competitive analysis where your company can scout your competition and see if there’s anything they’re doing that might be worth considering.

The importance of competitive analysis

No matter how specifically niche your business is, you’re bound to have some competition and your competition typically range from bigger, more established businesses to younger, more agile startups. The common sense is that as a business, you’re going to have to find an edge over these competitions to be successful as a business but when you’re going toe-to-toe with businesses with more brand recognition and resources, there might not be a lot you can do. Whatever the case, competitive analysis can be useful in helping you figure out the landscape for your industry.

In layman’s terms, competitive analysis is the practice of data gathering and analysis of other players in your industry and how they handle their businesses and how they deal with customers. Competitive analysis doesn’t fall under the umbrella of corporate espionage because you’re only dealing with data that are publicly available and this practice has long been a mainstay in responsible business practice. In today’s business world, competitive analysis can be incredibly useful because they might help your business survive even when you’re operating with a disadvantage by helping you finding your niche.

If you can’t be better than your competition, try being different instead. The goal of trying to find your niche is to try a segment of the market that’s still relatively untapped and figure out how to enter that market. Using competitive analysis, you can find out what segment your competitors are focusing on and the kind of audience they’re trying to attract and use that information to carve your own slice of the market. Social media platforms can be incredibly useful here as they provide you with all of this information in a single spot.

Establish who your competitors are

The first thing to do is to try and not to limit your scope simply on other businesses of similar sizes and price range. While you might not be directly competing with businesses that are operating in a different segment, market overlaps here and there is to be expected and checking these brands out will help you in finding other segments to fill. If you’re just starting out, it’s incredibly important for you to try and establish yourself outside your competitor’s shadow and that can be achieved by being unique.

Find out how they’re using social media

Some brands use social media simply as a marketing tool while others use them as sales channel and a customer service channel on top of their purpose as a marketing tool. You can also see which of your competitors are getting more engagement in a platform and how they interact with their customers. Follower and like counts aren’t the only metric you should pay attention to and you might want to try posing as customers and try to interact with your competitors on social media just to see how they handle things. For now, focus on gathering and categorizing these data first before trying to make sense of them.

Check out what influencer they’re keeping an eye on

I’m not talking about the Kardashians or the Hadids of the world; I’m talking about industry-specific influencer whose contents are of a specific niche. For example, I know of several accounts that are knee-deep in the world of denim that are fairly influential even when their follower count is negligible compared to some of the more popular influencers. If you’re trying to establish credibility within the experts of your industry, getting to know these industry-specific influencers are a must and this is just one of the many ways social media competitive analysis could help you.

Use all of the collected information to help your business

By now, you already have an idea on who your competitors are and if you’ve been doing your homework, you should already have an idea on the strengths and weaknesses of each account and how they position themselves within the market. With this information, you should be able to make a decision on whether you’re capable of directly competing with your competitors or if it would be too time-consuming and expensive to try intruding in their domain. If it’s the latter, you should try exploiting existing gaps in the market where none of your competitors excel in.

From all the data you’ve gathered on their social media accounts, you should also have an idea on which account is receiving more engagement from customers. It’s important to underline the social part in social media as ideally, you want there to be more activity in your social media feed. What kind of content they’re using, how they respond to queries on social media and the frequency of updates all have an effect on customer’s engagement and you want to use these information to figure out your own social media strategies.

The Plain Language Movement: The Importance of Simple Language in Content Marketing

content marketing tips

Please excuse my vanity for a moment but I like to think of myself as a somewhat respectable writer. I’m almost definitely never going to with either a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Pulitzer but when push comes to shove, I can confidently say that I could write better than the average Joe/Jane you find walking on the street. Even with all of my capability as a wordsmith however, I have the absolute confidence that I could never write as well as the kind of people that works in a corporate legal department. I have right now in my hand a by-the-numbers employee contract and I am amazed at how they could make something so simple sounds needlessly complicated.

If you’ve ever read an employee contract or any other similar form of legal documents such as the ubiquitous terms and conditions agreement, I have the absolute faith you know what I’m talking about here. Legal documents are some of the most obtuse writing the human race to the point that there’s an official government website in the United States of America dedicated to making government communique, especially legal documents, more digestible to the average public. This website is part of the larger plain language movement all over the world and it’s this philosophy that I believe is also relevant to content marketing services and other marketers.

Jargon-filled marketing

Have you ever read a press release or a company profile only to find that you have absolutely no idea what they’re trying to say? Join the club then, my friend because that is exactly how I feel about how most car companies handle their marketing in the past few years. I’m not exactly much of a petrolhead but I do like to follow what’s going on in the greater world of automotive and motorsport and as a result, I get to read a lot about what companies are saying about their new cars and all I can say is the words they’re using and how they use them is a lot which might sound like a good thing even though in reality, it’s kinda not.

Earlier this year, the American Automobile Association or the AAA did a study on the various driver assist systems available in the market and group them based on what they actually do. Based on their findings of 34 automakers in America, they found a total of 20 different variations for adaptive cruise control systems, a system that automatically adjust a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead. The variations include “distance assist”, “high-speed dynamic radar cruise control”, Mercedes-Benz’s “distronic plus”, etc. A turd by any other name is still going to be a turd and having 20 different ways to describe what is essentially the same thing is just going to be confusing for customers.

The beauty in simplicity

There’s this webcomic that I infinitely love called Strange Planet created by Nathan Pyle that examines this issue in an absurdly humorous way. The gist of the comic is that there’s these humanoid beings not unlike ours that participates in the usual human behaviors but describing them in a strangely familiar way. One notable example is a parent tucking in their kid into bed but instead of saying “sweet dreams” like you would expect, the parent instead said “imagine pleasant nonsense”. On a purely technical level, these two phrases carry the exact same meaning but if the former is delivered in perfect English, the latter feels like having English translated into German which was then translated into French then into Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Spanish and back into English again.

I completely understand that as a writer, you’d like to showcase what makes you better than everybody else but the mark of an exceptional writer is not someone who sounds like they memorized the contents of every thesaurus known to man but someone who’s capable of conveying the complexities of life using simple languages. As a prime example, I would like to shine a spotlight on the winner of the 2017’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. Among his contemporaries, Ishiguro is known for the simplicity of his prose. There are no obvious theatrics in the language that he uses and yet I’m comfortable in saying that at their best, Ishiguro’s work is an emotional tour de force.

The beauty in brevity

Another point I’d like to make is the beauty of brevity. I’m not saying here that you should make blog posts containing less than 1,000 words every single time but even when you’re doing an in-depth piece revolving around a subject, you want to be as brief and as straight to the point as possible. Purple prose, the act of using extravagantly flowery text characterized by an excessive use of metaphors, is a risky technique to employ in literature and they can be even more damaging in the world of content marketing as they’re wholly unnecessary. Try using less complex sentences and break them down to smaller, simpler sentences whenever possible.

That being said, don’t be afraid to use analogies

When used clumsily, analogies can add unnecessary burden to a text but for me personally, I find them to be an excellent tool when trying to explain a relatively complex subject or when I’m trying to prove a point. The whole philosophy of the plain language movement is to simplify obtuse text into something anyone can easily understand and what better way to do that than to use a common analogy as an illustration? Analogies can also be a useful tool for writers to try and inject some of their personality into the writing without having to add unnecessary complexity to the text.

Using conversational language in marketing

The final and most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to language in content marketing is to simply write how you talk. This is plain, simple common sense and yet I’ve lost count of how many supposed writers I know of that can’t even follow this one simple advice. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about the latest developments on Brexit or your thoughts on this year’s The Bachelor; all you have to do is make sure that your writing sounds equally natural. Try reading what you just wrote and if you feel awkward saying them aloud, that’s a surefire sign that your writing could use a little bit more time in the oven.