5 Creative Ways to Show Customer Appreciation This Holiday Season

Holiday customer appreciation event

Everyone’s heard that this time of year is the “season of giving.” And it certainly is. But this season is also really busy, overwhelming, stressful, and challenging. Often, finding ways to say “thanks” to our family and friends, much less to our customers, falls to the bottom of our never-ending to-do lists. But if you ever stop and really think about why you’re in business, why you do what you do, it always comes back to your customers. And your customers are what allow you to maintain and stay in business. So this holiday season, we challenge you to show customer appreciation.


5 Creative Ways to Show Customer Appreciation This Holiday Season

Most businesses choose to go the common routes – the holiday card, the fruit basket, the 20% off coupon. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with thanking your customers those ways. But we’re going to offer you 5 creative ways that are a little “out of the box” to show your customers how much you appreciate them:

1. Personalize Your Holiday Gifts

Personalized Christmas card to show customer appreciation

Have you ever received a gift and felt like the giver didn’t know you at all? This is often what happens when businesses send out generic gifts, such as mass-produced holiday cards or pretty gift baskets where half the food tastes stale. If you’re sending holiday cards, try handwriting a message. If you’re going to send a food basket, go the extra step and find out if that customer has allergies or food preferences. Whatever holiday gift you choose to send, make sure it’s personalized.

Source: McNutt & Partners

2. Hold a Customer Appreciation Event

Group of people at a customer appreciation event.

Now this might not be the most creative way to show your customers appreciation, but it might be one of the most fun ways to thank them for their business. If you have a brick & mortar office, this could be a great option for you. If not, you could consider renting out a small (or large) meeting space to have food, drinks, and plenty of holiday cheer to thank your customers in person.

Source: Cleaner.com

3. Pay It Forward

People volunteering at a charity after a business received donations to show customer appreciation

The holidays might be the most common time of year for businesses to donate to charities. And that’s okay! It’s a great bandwagon to jump on, and there are many creative ways in which you can thank your customers by paying it forward. Ask your customers which charities are most meaningful to them, and then plan to donate to those! Or, invest a percentage of profits into local charities that will benefit your community overall.

Source: Faire Blog

4. Highlight Your Customers for 12 Days

Smiling customer headshot for 12 days of customer appreciation

So if you’ve been following along with our blog, you might recall our 12 Tips of Holiday Marketing post! Either way, we like the number 12. Put a cool twist on the 12 days of Christmas and instead, highlight 12 different customers for 12 days on your website or social media sites. Highlight what makes them a great customer or partner, and how much you appreciate their business.

Source: CallSource

5. Give Away Gift Cards . . . for Other Businesses

Set of gift cards for other local businesses to show customer appreciation

Okay, now this might seem counterintuitive. But we promise, it’s not. As a small or startup business, having the support of your local community is everything. And what a great time the holidays are to set the focus on other businesses. Whether you want to host a giveaway, or simply surprise customers with gift cards for neighboring businesses, this is sure to be a hit with your customers, and a reminder of what your business prioritizes.

Source: NextDoor for Business


We know this time of year is busy, but taking a few extra steps to show customer appreciation can go a long way. If you ever need help thinking of new, creative ways to thank your customers, we’re just a phone call away at Paragon Marketing Group. Call us today at (262) 443-9092.

12 Tips Of Holiday Marketing

Here's our gift of holiday marketing tips for small businesses!

Blink, and the holiday season is almost upon us! But did you know the holiday marketing season is already here? Which begs the question: are you ready? Despite inflation, this holiday season could likely experience record-high spending. We want to help you prepare your business by offering our top 12 holiday marketing tips.


12 Holiday Marketing Tips

Now, you might be wondering why 12 tips. Why not 5 or 10? Well, there are 12 days of Christmas. Jesus had 12 disciples. There are 12 months in a year. And you probably need to prepare for what could be your busiest month of sales, which also happens to be during the 12th month of the year. Plus, we’re fans of the number 12. So without further ado, here are our 12 holiday marketing tips:

A laptop, mug, and book on a desk. The workplace is set up for a person to use holiday marketing tips for their business this season.
Use our top holiday marketing tips this season to prepare your business for the holidays!

1. Be Honest with Buyers

It goes without saying that you should be honest with your customers. And now more than ever, people crave authenticity in this highly commercialized season we refer to as “the holidays.” Maybe you’re struggling to offer a certain service or product due to supply issues. Tell your customers upfront. Or perhaps you’ve had to make significant changes to your business due to economic pressures. Either way, communicating the truth will establish your business’s credibility and build trustworthiness with customers.

Source: Rio SEO

2. Connect with Customers Using Holiday Cards

The holidays are overstuffed with commercialism, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a meaningful way to connect with them. A handwritten and/or photo card creates connection with customers and offers a glimpse of the person behind the business. Or, you could always send a digital holiday card that could be the start of a marketing campaign. Whichever way you do it, don’t miss out on this chance to connect with your customers.

Source: NetSuite

3. Develop Discounts During Inflation

Most consumers expect their holiday shopping to be affected by inflation this year. This creates a great opportunity for business owners to highlight deals, discounts, and special sales. Shoppers will be looking for new, creative ways to save money. With everyone feeling the impact of trying financial times, there’s no better time to offer holiday deals for frugal spenders.

Sources: Numerator, Nextdoor for Business

4. Excite Your Early Shoppers

We’re in the final quarter of the year. Some of your customers might have already FINISHED their holiday shopping! But that’s no reason to panic. According to eMarketer, 40% of shoppers plan to start their holiday spending during these last two months of the year. Gone are the days of most shopping happening in the few days leading up to the Christmas holiday. Reward the shoppers who are prepared to spend early and start marketing your holiday deals and specials now!

Sources: eMarketer, Outbrain

5. Get Your Gift Cards Ready

Unfortunately, since the outbreak of Covid-19, many businesses have struggled to keep up with high demand and supply chain issues. Now is the perfect time to get your gift cards ready. Not only do they make great gifts for business partners or faraway friends and family, but the numbers are also in your favor: last holiday season saw a 27% increase in gift cards.

Sources: Cardlytics, Nextdoor for Business

6. Keep Your Customers Top of Mind

For many people, the holiday season is not so much the “most wonderful time of the year,” but rather the most stressful time of the year. All of us can recall a time when we weren’t treated with respect by a business. Or, maybe we had a terrible experience, but the business had no solutions to offer. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be the customer. So as you make your marketing plans for the holiday season, make sure you’re keeping your customers in the front of your mind when making decisions.

Source: WP Swings

7. Mobilize Your Site for Mobile Users

More people are shopping on their smartphones and tablets today, and you want your digital presence ready for the season, too. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your site visitors want to have a pleasant online experience. Why is this so important? It will keep them on your site longer, AND make them more likely to purchase if it’s easy. Optimizing your site for mobile will enable your page to load faster and could play a big role in increasing your sales, especially with increased web traffic around the holidays.

Sources: PageFly, Think With Google

8. Review Prior Year Results

When in doubt of where to start with your holiday marketing plan, look at how your business performed during last year’s holiday season. Whether you want to do a deep dive into Google Analytics, consider former successful (or failed) marketing campaigns, or repeat small changes that unexpectedly increased sales, historical information often offers a wealth of information.

Source: NetSuite

9. Send Fewer Emails to Keep Subscribers

How many times have you unsubscribed from businesses that seemed like they had nothing better to do than spam your email inbox? Now email marketing is a valuable, tried and true marketing method. But especially around the holidays, consumers receive countless emails. Even multiple per day from the same company! Give your email subscribers the gift of limited emails this holiday season.

Source: Ignite Visibility

10. Stick to Social Media Marketing

Social media is an ideal marketing channel to use year-round, and there’s no exception to that fact this holiday season. Nearly three quarters of global marketers utilize social media marketing, and you should too. In addition to paid advertising, posting giveaways or contests on social media is a great way to capture organic leads during the holidays.

Sources: HubSpot, Ignite Visibility

11. Utilize User Reviews

Now more than ever, businesses need to offer proof that their product or service is, indeed, worth it. And while there are many ways to approach that, user reviews act as a great proof of concept. Whether you’re highlighting 5-star reviews on your website, showcasing well-known customers, or filming a moving testimonial, the holiday season is the time to emphasize positive user reviews.

Source: WP Swings

12. Winterize Your Web Presence

It’s not just our homes, vehicles, or boats that need winterizing in Wisconsin (or anywhere north, for that matter). Don’t neglect your online marketing presence. Updating your Facebook cover photo, using a catchy blog post title (we think ours is pretty good!), or giving your website a festive look will get your customers in the holiday spirit while also demonstrating your business’s attention to detail and ability to stay current.

Source: WP Swings


There are so many ways you can maximize your marketing for the holiday season! We hope these holiday marketing tips will help your business succeed and sell during the holidays. Whether you’re gearing up for a busy shopping time or just need help with your marketing, contact Paragon Marketing Group for all your seasonal and non-seasonal marketing needs.

Why Marketing Your Startup Business Matters

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve started a business, or maybe you’ve been a small business owner for the last couple years. And you know better than anyone that starting, much less marketing your startup business, is no easy task. You can’t just perform one simple task. Owning a business means wearing a lot of hats, juggling a lot of balls, and maybe coming up with a better metaphor to express the challenges a small business owner faces.

Sometimes the to-do list of a startup business owner is so long, marketing might not seem all that important. With everything else you’re supposed to manage, could marketing your startup really make that much of a difference?

At Paragon Marketing Group, we’re passionate about marketing, so of course we could share many reasons why we believe marketing is a key ingredient to your startup’s success. But don’t take our word for it – the numbers speak for themselves.


Millions of Small Businesses Are Vying for Consumers’ Attention

As of 2020, there were 31.7 million small businesses in the United States (Over 1 million were startups between 2019 and 2020 alone!) And guess what? Every one of those 31.7 million businesses want a slice of the customer pie. If you don’t want your startup business to get lost in the shuffle of 30 million other businesses, there’s something key you can do to build your brand and reach those potential customers with whom you want to share your message, service, or product. Come on, you know where we’re going with this. Let’s say it together: “Marketing!”

Number of Startup Businesses Started, 1997-2017
Marketing your startup business can be challenging in today’s incredibly competitive market with millions of new businesses starting every year.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy


Digital Marketing Is the Primary Mode of Communication between Small Businesses and Their Customers

In a survey of over 1,000 small business owners, results clearly indicated the top two modes of communication between businesses and their customers were email at 71.8% and Facebook at 60.8%. What does that mean? If you want to communicate with your customers, utilizing digital marketing channels could significantly boost the number of potential customers your business could reach. If you’re just getting started, now is the perfect time to start marketing for your startup!

Email and Facebook marketing lead the way for marketing channels employed by small businesses.
Employing digital marketing channels, such as email and Facebook marketing, could help with marketing your startup.

Source: Campaign Monitor


Marketing Your Startup Business Creates Authenticity in a Increasingly Distrusting World

According to a Havas Group report in 2021, almost 70% of consumers do not trust advertisements they see. Even worse? Those same consumers distrust 71% of brands. So where does authenticity fit in? Businesses without an established brand, say little or no social media profiles, lack of a website, minimal or no advertising, no testimonials – nothing to point to your business’s legitimacy means that your business is hard to trust. In other words, how can customers believe your startup business can solve their problem or provide a solution when your marketing is nonexistent? The short answer: building trust with consumers starts with marketing.

Marketing helps create authenticity in today's world.
Marketing your startup can provide authenticity in an increasingly distrustful world.

Sources: Entrepreneur, MarketingDive, Havas Group

Okay, if you didn’t know before, we’re certain you understand now: marketing is essential for your startup. But let’s face it, it’s really hard to not get overwhelmed by the long marketing to-do lists. There’s web design, and print marketing, and social media, and graphic design, and PPC, and SEO, and wait, what do all these acronyms mean, and how do you learn and execute all these marketing channels AND run your business . . . ?

That’s where we come in. As a small business, we understand the challenges that small business owners face, especially when you’re first starting out. Whether you’re trying to stand out in a crowded market, unsure of how to connect with your target customers, or want to establish a trusted brand, we’d love to answer your questions about taking your startup marketing to the next level.

Marketing Phobia: It’s A Real Thing!

Marketing Phobia: it's a real thing!

When you run a business, you have to market yourself. Period! But many businesses do not do this continually. Why? Marketing Phobia! Some may say that it’s not a real thing but it is actually true. Throughout the course of every year, we run into people all the time that are scared to market their organization. It may sound silly, however there are some important reasons for it.

1. The business owner just doesn’t know where to start.

Getting started can be overwhelming. A well constructed marketing plan can relieve this anxiety and put your business on a clear path for success. Some first steps: Define where you want to go with your business, identify who your target audience is, and determine a proper budget for your business. This is critical knowledge for you to have as you decide on how to construct your plan.

2. Misconception on cost.

Business owners create in their own minds some pretty grandiose price tags when it comes to marketing. When in reality, they may be way off. This happens many times because they hear what X person is spending or what Y company spent. But that’s not you or your business. The cost of what your company would need to spend to reach your goals could be a fraction of what someone else paid. Marketing towards your goals and your desired results can paint an accurate picture of what your true costs will be and not a figure from someone else’s experience.

3. Fear of success.

Yes, that’s right, the fear of success. Many business owners actually do not market their business because they fear they may gain too much business. Understandably, this one can keep a business owner up at night. However, you have to put your name out there and keep it foremost in people’s minds, so they know you exist and can call upon you whenever they need you. It can definitely bring in more business, but if you have a well constructed plan on how to handle the growth without sacrificing your quality and customer service, you can face this fear!

4. You may have had bad experiences with marketing companies in the past.

This one is big, whether it was a personal experience or one you heard from a third party. Unfortunately, the reality is, there are some marketing firms out there that are less than stellar. We’ve seen, however, there are a lot more that are really good at what they do and are worth every penny invested. The key to overcoming this issue is to do your homework as an owner. Get references, talk with the team who will be working with you, understand what they can do for you, and look for a team who holds transparency and accountability at the center of your relationship.

Anyone can overcome marketing phobia. It takes having that satisfying relationship with the right marketing company to help you get past your fears. If you find a marketing company that will partner with you throughout your journey of growth, we promise you’ll be glad you made the investment.

Benefits Of Email Marketing For Small Businesses

email marketing for small businesses.

Email is a tool most people use everyday. Email marketing is a cost effective solution to directly communicate with your customers, especially for small businesses. Whether it be a monthly newsletter, “Happy Birthday” message or seasonal specials, sending emails to your clients or prospects can be a great way to increase brand awareness and help drive sales. Here are five benefits of email marketing for small businesses:

  1. Increased Awareness

    Email marketing is an easy way to stay in front of your target audience. Send them messages to stay on top of their mind. Be consistent for the best results. If your email marketing schedule is inconsistent, people might not remember your business and will be less likely to open the message. Keep your messages fun and relevant for best results.

  2. Consistent Communication

    Like mentioned above, it’s important to send out your messages consistently. Whether it’s once or twice a month or quarterly, make sure you have a plan. You don’t want to send too many emails and appear annoying but you also want to stay in front of them. Sending out an email once or twice a year is not going to be an effective solution for your marketing plan.

  3. Increased Website Traffic

    It’s important to have strong call to actions in your emails. Often times, an important call to action would be sending recipients to your website. This needs to be done strategically. You can’t just send them to your home page. Which page is going to have the most relevant information? It could be a service page, a product page, or the contact page. Send them to a page where they would be expecting to go based off the information in the email and a page that will give them necessary information to increase conversions.

  4. Build Credibility

    People are more likely to open a message from a sender they know. Make sure subject lines are relevant so the recipients can see who you are and how you can help them. You don’t want your messages to look like spam. Know your readers and make sure your content is relevant to the people receiving the message. All of these things build credibility for your business and can help increase sales through your email marketing. Get people to trust your business.

  5. Cost Effective Option

    The benefits of email marketing can be more cost effective than other marketing efforts. For an even more cost effective solution, collect emails from your customers and potential customers to build an email list so you don’t need to purchase a list. This will lead to best results and ROI as you’ve already established credibility and a relationship with these recipients.

What is SEO and How Can Your Business Use It?

Online marketing is an important factor to the growth of any business nowadays, especially through search engines. You have PPC, which are Pay-Per-Click ads and SEO, which is Search Engine Optimization, or in other words, real and organic clicks. Sure, PPC is a great option for your company, but did you know that organic results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid search results?

SEO can be intimidating and difficult to understand, but we’ve broken it down into simple terms. SEO is a process of optimization for your website to accumulate and receive real, organic, and unpaid clicks from search engine results. When a user searches for certain keywords or topics, search engines scan through websites to figure out which ones are easiest to navigate through, read, and understand.

So, how can your business most efficiently take advantage of and use SEO?

The first thing you can do is make changes and improvements to your website where needed. Search engines file through many different things on your website like your title page, subheadings, internal links, and body content. By making improvements to these things, search engines can better understand what your business is about, dive deeper into understanding your business with internal links, and better find keywords and phrases to match the user’s search.

As mentioned before, keywords and phrases are also important to content marketing. The more content you create around certain keywords, the higher your page will rank on search engine result pages. This can also be carried over to voice searching. Voice search is the new way people are using their search engines, and you should take advantage of it! It’s said by ComScore that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. When speaking, people are typically more conversational, so your website’s content should match that to better enforce keywords and phrases.

Content marketing isn’t only useful to your customers, but can help out search engines, too. It’s important to have plenty of content, like blog posts, videos, and social media posts to rank your page higher in search results. How is this helpful? Well, let’s say you posted a few blogs and a video on how to use camera drones. Users googling “how to use camera drone” will want to spend more time on your site because there are a lot of tools you have provided for them to navigate through.

Stay relevant! It’s important to consistently add to your site because search engines and users love good content. If you’re in a rut for ideas for a blog post or visual content, take an old post and rewrite it to make it more up-to-date and fresh. Don’t post something just because your site’s due for an update. Take time to search for quality content that people want to read about; quality content makes for a trusted relationship between you and your users.
SEO can be a long process, but by taking the time to really up your content with keywords and videos, and staying active on your site and socials, you’re sure to bring in new and organic traffic.

Tips When Using Social Media

Social media tips.

So, you started up a social media page for your business! Maybe on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. You read articles and watched videos on the importance of having a social media presence, but how can you effectively use it? Below is a master list of the top 7 tips to keep in mind when using social media to help your business succeed.

  1. Have an objective

    How do you want to use social media to help your business? What are you trying to accomplish? Determine; do you want to improve sales or improve your relationship with your customers? What kind of image do you want for your business online? Once you identify how you want to use your social pages, it will be a lot easier to create content for them.

  2. Be visual

    Photos and videos are very useful when communicating with prospects and clients. It’s a great way to show off a product or to give a face to your company. People don’t always have time to sit and read every post they see on their Facebook feed, so using a photo or video that compliments your post can catch their eye and make them want to find out more.

  3. Be authentic and transparent

    Social media is a great tool to create a relationship and open communication with your clients. Whether it’s posting a photo, video, or a blog post about your business, your audience will get to know who you are, what your business is all about, and what you can do for them. Honesty is a key component to developing trust and accreditation.

  4. Identify your target audience

    Let’s say your business makes products for hair growth for men – your primary audience probably isn’t a teenage girl. Research what main platforms your target audience uses, their means of consumption (video, articles, etc.), and what kind of language you should be using to best communicate with them.

  5. Create a calendar

    Not only does creating a calendar help to keep you organized, but it can help grow your online presence. It’s estimated that internet users spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes a day on social media. If prospects become familiar with your presence online, they feel more connected to your business. With consistent posting, you can also determine what content is getting more views and feedback, and you will eventually get into the groove of what kind of posts work for your company and what doesn’t.

  6. Step outside of your comfort zone

    Things are constantly changing, especially in today’s digital-dominated world. If you see a trend blossoming on social media, like video marketing for example, don’t hesitate to branch out. Research the topic to figure out where to start and how to most effectively integrate it into your business. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies to improve your online presence.

  7. Be interactive

    Social media was created to be social! It’s important to consistently answer prospective customers’ questions, but it’s also important to spark up a conversation. Social platforms are a great way for you to connect with your clients, partnering businesses, or people inside your company! Let them know that they are heard and that you acknowledge them by taking time to connect with them. Social media is a great tool to promote your business, but it’s an even better tool to show your business’ appreciation!

Benefits of Email Marketing For Small Businesses

email marketing for small businesses.

Email is a tool most people use everyday. Email marketing is a cost effective solution to directly communicate with your customers, especially for small businesses. Whether it be a monthly newsletter, “Happy Birthday” message or seasonal specials, sending emails to your clients can be a great way to increase brand awareness and help drive sales. Here are five benefits of email marketing for small businesses:

  1. Increased Awareness

    Email marketing is an easy way to stay in front of your target audience. Send them messages to stay on top of their mind. Be consistent for the best results. If your email marketing schedule is inconsistent, people might not remember your business and will be less likely to open the message. Keep your messages fun and relevant for best results.

  2. Consistent Communication

    Like mentioned in the above point, it’s important to send out your messages consistently. Whether it’s once or twice a month or quarterly, make sure you have a plan. You don’t want to bombard people with emails all the time but you also want to stay in front of them. Sending out an email once a year is not going to be an effective solution for your marketing plan.

  3. Increased Website Traffic

    It’s important to have strong call to actions in your emails. Often times, an important call to action would be sending recipients to your website. This needs to be done strategically. You can’t always send them to your home page. Which page is going to have the most relevant information? It could be a service page, a product page, or the contact page. Send them to a page where they would be expecting to go based off the information in the email and a page that will give them necessary information to increase conversions.

  4. Build Credibility

    People are more likely to open a message from a sender they know. Make sure subject lines are relevant so the recipients can see who you are and how you can help them. You don’t want your messages to look like spam. Know your readers and make sure your content is relevant to the people receiving the message. All of these things build credibility for your business and can help increase sales through your email marketing. Get people to trust your business.

  5. Cost Effective Option

    Email marketing offers more cost-effective benefits than direct mail, making this a great strategy for small businesses. With email marketing being a digital platform, you don’t need to worry about printing costs or postage. For an even more cost effective solution, collect emails from your customers and potential customers to build an email list so you don’t need to purchase a list. This will lead to best results and ROI as you’ve already established credibility and a relationship with these recipients.

The first step to a successful Email Marketing campaign. Understand the law!

These are the words, Know the rules, written on a blackboard.

Email marketing is one of the highest converting forms of advertising. Starting email marketing involves many factors, however, the most important factor is the law. I myself have made mistakes that made an email not conform to the law and I completely missed it. That is one reason why I want to make sure that people don’t make the same mistakes I have.

 

The biggest law out there has been the Can-Spam act that was signed into law in 2003 by George Bush. I won’t bore you with all of the political words but I will tell you what the law says in simpler terms.

 

  1. You must have the email address that the email is coming from. You cannot hide your email or not tell people who you are in it. This should either be a person at the company that is responsible for this or the company name. Either one shows the receiver what is happening and more importantly from where it’s coming from.
  2. Be honest and forthright. Your subject line should be straightforward and honest. Say in the subject line I have an offer for a free consultation for you, that better be what is in the email. Do not say, “I have a gift card for you” and not actually give one. You cannot say, “I have a gift card for you” and then it turns out to be a contest. You must be willing to give what you say. If you are sending an ad then say, “ad from ……”
  3. Where you are located is very important to this rule. Really, this should be important to you anyway as it shows that you are a reputable company. In this rule, it is required that you have a physical address in the email.
  4. Offer your recipient the opportunity to opt out of future emails. The law states that you have 10 days to remove them from your list but I would highly suggest you do it within 24 hours or before another email goes out, whichever comes first.
  5. If you are using a company to send emails on your behalf then make sure they are conforming to these laws. It is you that will get fined and not them. You have to make sure you are working with a reputable company at all times.

 

Recently, we have also been hit with a new rule called GDPR or General Data Protection Regulations. This was created in Europe and took effect on May 31st. I would highly suggest that every company conforms to these rules as you do not know when your site will be viewed outside of the country. A lot of the same rules apply as the Can-Spam act.

  1. You must get all data legally and you cannot spam to add to your email list.
  2. There must be a purpose for the email and they must opt-in for that purpose. You can not use their data for ANY other purpose without explicitly asking and getting permission.
  3. You must confirm all data is accurate. I would suggest sending an auto email to confirm the data prior to adding them to a list.
  4. You will only keep the data as long as you need it. If it is a 6-week campaign then you cannot use it for another campaign after the 6 week period.
  5. Confidentiality is the most important new rule. In the past, you technically had the ability to sell your list to others and make some extra income off of it. Although I have never done this, I heard it was pretty lucrative at times. It cannot be done the same way now. Permission must be given to sharing data across multiple entities. You must have security systems on all data to ensure that nobody can take data without your knowledge.

 

Understanding the laws of email marketing is the first step in starting a campaign. Without this understanding, your email programs will fail and you may or may not be fined. The personal information of individuals is very important to keep secure and not shared. Most email programs do conform to these rules so I highly suggest you use a program like Constant Contact or MailChimp.  

www.paragonmarketinggroup.com

 

Cybercrime affects Small Business

This is a blue circuit board with a blue lock in front.

We have all heard the word Cybercrime and we know that we need to protect ourselves. What most small businesses do not understand is how much it affects them. We have heard all the stories from the news about the big companies getting hacked and information being leaked. What we never hear about is the small businesses that get hacked on a daily basis. According to a survey done by CNBC less than 2% of American small businesses say that they are concerned about getting hacked.The big reason why is, “We are the little guy, they don’t want to hack us.” This thought process is incorrect and is exactly why you should care more than the big companies.

Hackers know that you do not have the time, money, or knowledge to protect your site like the big companies do. Therefore, your website is targeted more than any other. Just because you only have 100 clients or 1,000 clients does not make you immune. It makes you a perfect candidate for hackers. They can go in, get what they want, and get out without anybody knowing. What’s better is that because you are a small business, the word that you got hacked won’t go out to everyone in the world because it won’t be considered a big story.

So, what can a small business owner do to protect themselves? More importantly, what can a small business owner do to protect their customers? Well, here you go!

1. Make sure your website is on a secure server. You have a lot of options when it comes to hosting your website. We highly suggest that you find out what equipment or software your host has to combat hacker attempts.

2. Redundancy is very important. Make sure your host has more than one copy of your site. Having multiple servers in different locations would be ideal. This way, if one location gets hacked then they can quickly change over to a backup copy.

3. Consistent security scans. Security scans should be happening weekly on your site or at the minimum monthly. If you keep up on your security scans you will remove any trackers that may have attached to your site in-between scans.

4. You must be updating your site monthly at the minimum. By staying up to date you are also keeping away any new hacks created by having an old version of the theme or integrations your site requires.

5. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts any conversation that you have with the customer, the website and your office computer. This item is so important that Google is now requiring this if you want your page to be found on Google. It is required as of June 1st to have it. You’ll know you have one by seeing HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// in your URL.

By following these steps we cannot guarantee that you will never get hacked or that your information will never get out. Hackers are getting smarter and smarter every day and nobody can ever guarantee that. What we can tell you is that by following these 5 things you are giving your clients and yourself the best protection you can.