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App of the Month

North Canton, Ohio has a lot of extremely talented individuals in the technology field. From designers and website coders to app developers, you really do not have to look too far if you are a business owner who is looking to take things to the next level. We recently stumbled across a local company, Squirrels, who has created a line up of stellar software programs. Today, their flagship applications AirParrot and Reflector are used around the globe by hundreds of thousands of people-educators, business owners, salespeople, developers, graphic designers, gamers and more. They let me test drive Reflector so that I can share it with you!

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.18.33 AMReflector is a wireless mirroring and streaming receiver that works great with Google Cast™, AirPlay™ and AirParrot. Mirror your content to the big screen without wires or complicated setups. Play games, watch movies, demo applications or present from the palm of your hand. Everything you do on your device can be wirelessly sent to Reflector!

I am not stranger to the area of screen sharing and information presenting. When it comes to gathering a group of people together and projecting a video or a presentation, I have tried PowerPoint, Google Hangouts, GoTo Meetings, AirPlay and just about every option that you can think of. I was expecting to have a lot of hoops to jump through, like passcodes to enter or something of the sort, but it was incredibly seamless to set up and get running.

If you are familiar with sharing your phone, laptop or tablet with your Apple TV, then you already know how easy it is to share your smartphone with any device running Reflector. Jump on the same Wi-Fi as the device you’d like to mirror your display on and then walk through AirPlay per usual. Why use Reflector over AirPlay? AirPlay limits you to share to their Apple TV but Reflector allows you to share from, say, your smartphone to your laptop. I can reflect anything that is happening on my phone directly to my computer’s desktop.

Not on the same Wi-Fi as the desktop that you’d like to display on? There’s an App for that. With entering a short Quick Connect Code, Reflector Director allows you the ability to share no matter where you are.

I found a really insightful review of the app over on YouTube. You can learn more about it there:

In hopes to both support local brainiacs and help out local business owners or educators, we simply wanted to invite you to check out all of the great work that is happening at Squirrels. Keep making North Canton proud, guys!

North Canton Locals Create Reflector, a Presenter’s Best Friend
Google Ad Customizer Countdown Function

Living in Northeast Ohio, I’ve heard firsthand from our brick and mortar retail clients that this winter was tough for business. You and your staff were prepped for the “weekend rush”, then it happened. Mother nature waited until the weekend (more weekends then you’d care to count) to dump her snowstorm on the “off work for the weekend, ready to shop, disposable income public” and your fully prepped, eager staff unfortunately spent part of their day longingly staring at the door, waiting for the customers who never ended up coming. Sound familiar?

Maybe your story isn’t quite as dramatic, but you still rely on an annual Spring Sale to kick off your peak season, or maybe you are testing a Spring Sale for the first time. If any of these scenarios ring true to you, you’ll want to check out this new tool in Google Adwords.

Why Your Spring Sale Marketing Plan Should Include an Adwords Countdown

Google Ad Customizer Countdown FunctionAccording to WordStream, when testing the use of the Countdown Ad Customizer internally on their clients, they saw conversion rates of the ads tested increase the closer the end of the sale became. Not only did results increase, but results increased substantially with an up to 30% increase in conversion rates toward the end of the sale date. I think we can all agree, if there is something out there that can increase our conversion by potentially up to 30%, we want to try it! So, what is it and how do you use it, right?

Google Adwords Ad Customizer Countdown Feature Simplified

Ad customizers are features you can use within your ads to adapt the text of your ad to show a dynamic keyword, sale end date, text and more. In this blog, we are specifically focusing on the Countdown Feature which allows you to dynamically add a sale end date that says something like “Hurry Sale Ends in ____ Days!”. The days of going into your ad and manually updating the sale end date are over! This can now happen automatically with the use of the Ad Customizer Countdown Feature! (Less work for you, woohoo!)

How to use Ad Customizer Countdown Function to Create Urgency

To use this feature in its simplest form, simply click to create a new text ad, enter your text as shown below and use the {= to show the countdown popup below. Select your countdown start and end date and any advanced settings you’d like and voila! you’re all set!

Spring Sale Adwords Ad Customizer

If you need more advanced customization, for example if you have different sale values for different products, that’s available too. No more manually entering individual ads for unique percentages off for unique products. Check out this Google Adwords video to learn more.

When I heard about this feature, I was so excited I did a little “jump for joy” in my office. I hope this helps to wet your whistle to the possible impact this tool can have on your Spring Sale this year! If you want to try this out, but don’t have the bandwidth to do it yourself, reach out to us for help and take advantage of testing the countdown out this Spring!

 

Running a Sale This Spring? Create Urgency with This Sweet, New Tool!
CoSchedule-Blog-Editorial-Calendar-ogimage-1200x630

If anybody understands the difficulty in keeping a content marketing campaign afloat, it is me and the team here at Sanctuary Marketing Group. I’ll be candid right here at the start. Most anything that falls into the category of what marketers call “long-tail” efforts are difficult. We live in a generation that wants everything now. If we were honest, we want today’s marketing tasks to provide yesterday’s results. That is why a long-term marketing, the type of marketing that actually puts a dent in search engine results, can be so difficult.

I’ll first quickly explain a firsthand problem I faced and how CoSchedule WordPress Editorial Calendar solved it. I oversee Brave Reviews, a website in which a team of eight writers contribute to the massive database of book reviews. We live all over the map, literally, and coordinating what book reviews are being written and posted on what days can be extremely difficult. As the website and writing team grew, I needed to get a handle on this issue. I searched all over the place and determined that I need something that did it all, even if it meant I’d have to put some money into it. I have undoubtedly gained a return on my investment

CoSchedule is a tool that makes content marketing a whole lot easier. At the most basic level, CoSchedule is a calendar in which each member has their own separate access. Below is a screenshot of how simple it is to create a blog post, a social media message, an event, a note for your team, or a task for a teammate.

CoSchedule

 

All WordPress options, such as categories, tags and formatting, are available from the CoSchedule platform. What is more, an unlimited number of social media accounts can be connected! If you are a fan of employee advocacy (i.e., you leveraging your employees to advocate for your brand) than you can have each of them schedule blog posts and website pages for their own personal media channels right alongside your business’ content! Brilliant!

[Tweet “All-in-one #ContentMarketing and #SocialMedia management from @CoSchedule @Sanctuarymg”]

Now a quick note on how powerful the social media platform is. You can write and preview your post right inside the calendar! Script a post for multiple channels at the same time as you quickly add text and imagery (even sync up your Bit.ly and Google Analytic accounts). If the page you are sharing already has that data tagged, CoSchedule will gather all of that information.

coschedule social media

 

Honestly, one of my favorite features is probably the subtlest of features. I do a lot of scheduling out of social media posts across different networks. When shotgunning posts across channels, the absolute worst practice to have is to share them all at the exact same time. With CoSchedule, you can spread your message even further with just the click of a button. Are you wanting to share your message to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook on the same day? Choose the Share “Between 8am – 11am” option and CoSchedule will automatically scatter your posts out at natural time slots. (same for “Between 11am – 3pm” or “Between 3pm-10p”). Here is a screenshot of how simple it is:

coschedule schedule social posts

The options are endless. You queue up random posts and assign tasks to your teammates and much, much more. If you are working on a content-heavy website or marketing campaign, you have got to check out CoSchedule. The power in the simple CoSchedule platform plugin is unmatched.

CoSchedule — App of the Month
dropbox app of the month

dropbox app of the month

Dropbox: Simplify and Organize Your Life

Back in the mid 90s I started a website called Archive Digital . During this time the concept of digital photography and video was really starting to take off. I bought a fairly high end 8 megapixel digital SLR camera for a whopping $1500 and shot pictures until my heart was content.

What I quickly realized though was that all those great photos could disappear in a second if my computer or hard drive failed (and it did).

So, I set out to educate myself and others on the dangers of shooting digital photos and not having a reliable system for backing them up. I researched and reviewed the best CDs and DVDs for long term backup and recommended that you keep multiple copies. I setup software that would copy and store my photos on multiple external hard drives. At one point I even thought about creating an online system that could store digital content but at the time it was beyond my means to even consider it.

windows cloud star wars
Cloud Star Wars Imagery Source

Then the concept of ‘The Cloud‘ entered the picture and all my efforts seemed like a massive waste of time. Almost overnight services started popping up just like the one that I envisioned. You could easily backup your files online and trust that they’d never be lost.

The Cloud is essentially a large amount of networked/shared computers that store files. If one dies, the other computers store the data too and things just keep on keepin’ on without a hiccup. Many services even have multiple locations so that if one location was bombed (in theory) your files would be safe and sound somewhere in a mountain across the country.

The dream had been realized.

I tried several cloud services over the years like Carbonite (I still have files there somewhere) and Flickr   for my photos. All were good but ultimately there was always something missing.

The software was not reliable, the interfaces were hard to work with, uploading files and images was tedious. In the case of Flickr you could only upload around 100 files at one time. Ultimately you’d have errors, or the kids would unplug the computer and stop the upload, etc. I’d literally have gigabytes of photos just sitting on my computer just waiting to be annihilated because I just didn’t have time to upload everything!

Enter Dropbox

You may have heard of Dropbox. It has become the industry standard in cloud backups in my opinion and everything (and I mean everything) about the service is great. From the fact that it continually stores and restores your files to the hundreds of ways it can be integrated into your everyday life, you will never run out of ways to take advantage of this Cloud-based storage system. For example, after Dropbox is installed on your computer and syncing your files, you will find that once your smartphone is connected via USB Dropbox will immediate prompt you to backup images and videos from your device to your folders. Brilliant! Simple!

[Tweet “Backup all things digital with the @Dropbox app. Learn more from @SanctuaryMG #SMG #digitalmarketing”]

Oh, you do not plug in your phone to your computer all that often? Consider installing their device from the iOS or Google Play stores in order to automatically back up your phone’s photos as you capture them. And no, you will not have to issue a manual sync of any kind to their server — it’s all done in the background, both immediately and automatically. This feature alone is incredibly practical! Take a picture on your phone before it is automatically stored in your Cloud folder and then access and edit that image on your iPad, laptop or desktop computer.

Cloud Star Wars Imagery Source

App of the Month: DropBox
Evernote-Logo-Feature

For just a moment, imagine your day at work. You juggle conference calls, emails, and office meetings alongside random “To Do” and “To Remember” interruptions. What do you do to keep track of all of these spinning wheels? How do you stay organized? And, ultimately, are your efforts helping or hindering you? Here’s my suggestion for tackling your day — Evernote.

Evernote-Logo-FeatureEvernote has been around for years. Since her inception as a simple note-taking application, she has grown into a powerful mammoth of a resource that integrates into all that you do across mobile, web and desktop. Evernote has your back during every step of a project’s process.

With Evernote, I organize and compartmentalize different areas of my life. I have notes for work, notes for family and notes for hobbies that I enjoy, like reading and writing. And it all starts by opening up one of my folders and getting a bird’s eye view of the projects I need to track and manage.

Best Evernote Features

Organizing projects with Evernote helps tremendously because your list of things to do is never as simple as a bulleted list. Within my projects, I can set reminders, snap pictures, embed important website addresses and even share the entire project with a friend or coworker (or secure the notes with an password for added security).

Some additional features include:

    • Search all of your notes at one time instead of scrolling through a massive list in hopes to find that diamond in the rough.
    • Tag notes geographically, so that you can organize your thoughts by where you were when you wrote them down. Maybe you want to see all images or brainstorming that you collected while at the conference in California? Easy.
    • Tag notes by a given topic, so that you can quickly sift your note library for anything that involves “Trip Plans,” “Interview Notes,” or anything else that you’d like to catalogue.
    • Annotate a note in order to quickly markup and summarize the giant mess of thoughts that you scribbled while frantically attempting to capture all that was being said.
    • Present your notes, after you have polished your content and images, at a business meeting by simply hitting the “Present” button just as you would a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.

These features are only the tip of the iceberg for individual users. Evernote has also swung wide the doors for businesses, allowing professionals and their teams to better collaborate on projects and notes. What is the best part of Evernote? Nearly all these great features are available absolutely free. We hope that this will be helpful to you and to your team.

Try Evernote Today.

Evernote

App of the Month: Get Organized With Evernote
pocket app content

End the Content Chaos and Confusion — Meet Pocket

The amount of information that is flying around the Internet is incalculable. Tumblr has grown from averaging 27,000 daily (blog) posts just two years ago to over 75.5 million daily blog posts. More and more reputable voices in varying industries are stepping up to the plate of content creation and it has grown increasingly difficult to sort, organize and read the ever-growing archives.

It is particularly difficult in a field like mine. Like most fields, digital marketing and website creation is ever-evolving. Social Media channels seem to change timeline layouts and image sizes almost weekly and Google appears to take joy in having marketers constantly guessing at their complex and allusive search algorithm(s).

pocket app contentNot only is the amount of content available online growing at such a fast rate, but the ways in which I receive content makes me feel like I’m being attacked from all angles. I sift through helpful articles alongside corny memes and viral videos on my Facebook timeline. I juggle valuable links that friends and coworkers send to my email inboxes, whether personal or work. I work seamlessly between my mobile phone and my desktop computer (I can’t imagine if I also had a tablet).

I’m sitting down and putting together this article because I have finally found something that can help me sort through this mess. Meet Pocket (formerly Read It Later). You can easily collect almost anything and it compiles it into a nice list for reading that’s accessible from anywhere. I’ve only used it for collecting articles but you can use it for collecting almost anything. The interface is very clean too and optimized for any device. So you can read on anything from your mobile phone to your computer with ease and it all has the same clean, easy to read interface.

 

That sounds like Evernote, Readability or Instapaper — How’s it different?

Evernote does lay trump when it comes to taking notes. The ability to search your accumulated notes simply cannot be matched by Pocket. And for a very good reason — because Pocket was not made for that purpose. If you need a note taking app, Evernote is what we would recommend but that is a whole different discussion.

Readability does many of the same actions as Pocket but I get the vibe that it is still playing in the minor leagues in comparison to how progressive Pocket works and feels. For example, the amount of supported apps and software integrations offered by Pocket is incredibly impressive. When you’re looking for something that works with and for you everywhere you are at online, you want an app that plays well with others.

Instapaper has attempted to turn the quickly growing work of content writing into a social network of sorts, in which you can follow your friends and discover new content. For my needs, which is sorting new content and certainly not discovering new content, the unique abilities that Instapaper offers would only further my distracted attempts at getting through content (which may be why The Verge wrote “Don’t call it a reading app: Instapaper grows up”). If you are looking for a network to discover and follow new content, Reddit or Instapaper may be what you’re looking for.

Pocket has two main tasks: (1) store those “must read” articles or links for you and (2) provide you with a distraction free place to read those articles at your convenience. That’s it.

pocket mac ipad iphone laptop contentFor me, Pocket is perfect for collecting articles for reading and it just has nice little enhancements that make it really easy to use. For example, I always see stuff in Facebook that I’d like to read. But Facebook likes to keep things on Facebook so there’s no easy way to save things for later. With Pocket, all you need to do is copy the link to the article that’s posted on Facebook, open Pocket and it knows that you have a link on your clipboard and it asks you if you’d like to add it to your reading list with one click. Done.

LifeHacker does a great job of comparing Pocket to a few popular alternatives (read their article now or store it in Pocket to read later), but Pocket has got our vote for managing the content chaos!

App of the Month: Pocket