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Tag: AutomaticMarketing

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

Develop a List of Criteria

The advice and questions that follow are what businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective. Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.

Think about things like:

  • Budget.
  • Desired contract duration.
  • Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
  • Reporting frequency.
  • Any other potential deal breakers.

Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies

It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision. Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.

Make a List of Interview Questions

Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about — Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Questions to Ask an SEO Agency

Questions to Ask an SEO Agency

Any honest and well-established agency

will happily answer your questions and address the concerns or reservations you have about SEO. Pay attention to how receptive they are to providing answers. Most importantly, don’t sign a contract with an SEO agency without asking these questions first:

  • Can you guarantee that my site will have a top ranking position?
    • Start with this question, because it’s a quick way to weed out shady SEO agencies. Legitimate SEOs will never guarantee a client a top ranking position because they know there are no guarantees with SEO.
  • How do you handle penalized sites?
  • Does your agency ever deviate from Google’s best practices?
  • Has your agency ever bought links?
  • How do you build links and what kind of links do you build?
  • How many links can I expect to have built per month or over the duration of my contract?
  • How much on-page, off page, and technical work can I expect to be done and what specific practices do you do for each?
  • Which tools do you use to achieve results and carry out SEO services?
  • Do you edit and/or optimize existing content on my site?
  • Is any of the work or content outsourced? If so, who does it?
  • How does your team handle content strategy and development?
  • What will specific content pieces be done for my site?
  • How do you plan to optimize that content?
  • Do you have any examples of work you’ve done for a similar business?
    • Successful SEOs are quick to provide case studies or examples of other businesses they’ve helped, so if you hear “that’s classified” or “we don’t share the results of other clients” in response, be wary.
  • On average, when do your clients start to see results?
  • How many active client accounts do you have?
  • How many people on your team are working on them?
    • If an agency has 500 active client accounts and only 30 people on their team, chances are they’re either stretched thin at the expense of quality or outsourcing some of the work.
  • Do you work with businesses that would be considered competitors to mine?
    • This isn’t always a bad thing, but if a direct competitor hires the same SEO company and has a bigger budget, you could be in trouble.
  • How often do you run site audits?
  • What specific metrics do you track and report on?
  • How do you handle reporting and tracking of my account?
  • How often can I expect to receive reports and updates, and how will you communicate them to me?
    • Ideal answers to these questions will include information on conversions, rankings, traffic, campaign and outreach updates, etc. Most agencies provide clients with access to reporting software so they can view a dashboard with trackable metrics.
  • How many people will have access to our website?
  • What steps do you take to ensure the security of our website?
  • Will you be making changes to the structure, web design, or coding of our website? If so, is that handled in-house or outsourced?
  • Who would be my point of contact, and how can I contact them if I have questions or concerns?
  • Can I meet the people who work on my account?
  • What will you need from my end?
  • How much time per month is needed from our end?
  • Can you itemize the pricing package by specific services and hours spent working on each?
  • What separates you from other SEO agencies?
  • Overall, what results can I expect from my website?

Conclusion

A lack of preparation makes you susceptible to being taken advantage of dishonest and shady SEOs. Do your research and prepare beforehand so you can easily identify the right SEO agency when you find them, and from there they’ll help you determine the best strategies to address the needs of your business.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about — Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How to Create a Comprehensive Inbound Marketing Plan

How to Create a Comprehensive Inbound Marketing Plan

 Folks who live and breath inbound marketing

are all too familiar with the complexities involved in formulating a full-fledged inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing demands that you be more than a jack-of-all-trades handyman. Instead, you need to be a pro at dozens of specific skills — content writing, search engine optimization, social media, website design, conversion rate optimization, pay-per-click, email marketing, the list goes on.

As a result, when we assist marketers with inbound marketing strategy, the conversation often evolves into a discussion about building a marketing plan — how to prioritize, what to do, what not to do, what works best for specific business models and how to implement the proper infrastructure to facilitate inbound lead generation. Whether you’re launching a new startup company or looking for quick ways to revamp your enterprise marketing activities, a solid plan can make the difference between treading water and an achieving exponential growth. Following this guide will help you put the proper inbound marketing plan in place for your organization, prioritize each aspect of your strategy and focus on what drives the best results. In a world of instant gratification where there isn’t much time for planning so this guide is designed to help you really hit the ground running.

Define Your Buyer Personas

Where Buyer persona is the foundation of all things inbound marketing. Understanding exactly who you are marketing to, what makes them tick and how they communicate will help you craft messaging that truly resonates with your ideal customers. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of a buyer persona, they are a fictional representation of your ideal customers. For instance, within your target market, there are likely numerous types of buyers. Your product or service may frequently be purchased by CEOs, Marketing Managers and Directors of Sales. Buyers in each of these roles have very different interests, priorities, and goals. Taking the time to define and understand the characteristic of each of your buyer personas will help you focus your content creation on topics that attract ideal customers.

Outline Your Marketing Triggers

Once you have identified who your ideal customers are and what makes their world go round, the next step is to identify the events and pain points that cause them to search for information about your product, service or industry. These events are known more formally as marketing triggers. Trigger-based marketing aims to meet potential customers at a point of need by being reactive, and targeted, rather than arbitrarily pushing out messages to big audiences.

Let’s consider the marketing triggers for an office furniture company. Office furniture is most often purchased by organizations that experience rapid company growth, geographic expansion, are undergoing building renovations, currently have outdated office furniture or just have the desire to stay up with new trends in office interior decor. Companies that experience any of these events may identify the need for new office furniture and begin to conduct research online. This is the perfect point in the purchase decision to provide a potential customer with a top-of-funnel offer that speaks to their needs and introduces the value of your product or service.

Create a List of Keywords

Now that you understand who your buyer personas are and what causes them to search for information, the next step is to figure out how people are searching for information about your product or service. Keyword research allows you to see the estimated search volume by location, how difficult it is to rank for certain keywords and estimate of the cost of purchasing search traffic through pay-per-click advertising. When creating a list of target keywords try to choose search terms with relatively high monthly search volume and a medium to low competition level. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great resource to quickly generate a list of relevant keywords and identify search terms that are in your sweet spot of competition and search volume.

Through this research, you can create a list of key terms and phrases to create content about. Crafting keyword rich content that speaks to the common questions that your buyer personas have when they encounter a marketing trigger ensures you are attracting the right people, at the right time, to your website.

Set Your Inbound Marketing Goals

The first step towards measuring the return on investment of your inbound marketing activity is identifying exactly what you want to achieve and when you expect to see the results. As outlined in the SMART Goal Framework, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. To set your inbound marketing goals, begin by assessing your website’s current ability to attract traffic, convert leads and close business. Some of the key performance indicators may include:

  1. Monthly unique website visitors
  2. Number of inbound leads / month
  3. Sources of traffic — PPC, SEO, Blogging, Social Media, Email

It can be helpful to create a series of scenarios and calculate the results for a number of potential outcomes. The following is a hypothetical example.

Tip: For a quick competitive analysis put your website and your key competitors into Marketing Grader. This tool reveals how your site stacks up against the competition in terms of filling the top-of-funnel with qualified leads and nurturing them into customers.

Outline Your Content Strategy

As we break down the inbound funnel you can see that leads typically fall into one of three stages:
Top-of-funnel Awareness:
leads at the top of the funnel are typically searching for general information about a subject
Middle-of-funnel Evaluation:
leads in the middle of funnel need to be introduced to your brand and learn what it is like to do business with you
Bottom-of-funnel Purchase Decision:
leads at the bottom of the funnel are most often looking for information that communicates the functionality and benefits of your product/service

The goal of top-of-funnel content is to attract as much awareness as possible and convert those visitors into leads. Social media, blog posts, videos, infographics and SlideShare presentations are all examples of top-of-funnel content that can easily spread amongst a large audience. Middle-of-funnel content begins to position your product/service. Branded webinars, case studies, free samples, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets or brochures can be used to effectively introduce your brand while providing value to the viewer. Leads at the bottom-of-funnel have shown signs that they are specifically evaluating your product/service. Sometimes these leads just need a little taste of what it is you have to offer — this might be a free trial, a live product demo, a discount or a complimentary assessment, consultation or estimate.

If you have great top-of-funnel content but you have nothing to offer leads in the middle and bottom of the funnel you won’t be very efficient at moving leads through the sales cycle. To identify where you may have obvious gaps in your content begin by evaluating your existing content and mapping it to each stage of the inbound funnel. Do your buyer personas have all the information they need at each point of the buying cycle? Understanding the questions, concerns, and objections that each of your buyer personas has, during the three stages of the inbound funnel will help your content strategy take shape.

Design Your Lead Nurturing Process

Some leads reach a decision to purchase a product or service much quicker than others. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but often the primary reason for a lead is to stall in the sales process is a lack of information. If a lead has unanswered questions, they are likely not ready to progress down the marketing funnel. The best way to reach out to leads and answer their questions is through a series of automated emails. Email automation gives leads a little nudge or reminder that you have valuable content available at their disposal. This encourages leads to re-engage with your content and move further down the inbound funnel.

The emails that you send to top-of-funnel leads should answer the most common questions that arise during your sales process. Once you have proactively reached out to answer these common questions, your leads will be better informed, more qualified and more receptive to accessing further information about your product or service. As leads progress to the middle of the funnel you can begin to position your product or service by delivering brand specific information. This might include a series of emails that address common questions and concerns about your business. Once a lead has acted on a bottom-of-funnel offer they are considered to be sales qualified. At this point, leads should be handed over to your sales team to be contacted directly and closed into paying customers.

Create a Conversion Focused Blogging Strategy

Conversion focused blogging strategies are designed to attract highly relevant traffic to your website with the goal of converting traffic into qualified leads. Each blog post supports an exclusive content offer by answering your buyer personas common questions and encouraging them to access your exclusive content. For instance, let’s think about our office furniture example.  If you write a top-on-funnel whitepaper about “The 10 Benefits of Open Concept Offices” you would then write a series of closely related blog posts that help attract traffic to that exclusive offer.
These might include:

  • Is Your Office Environment Crushing Creativity?
  • 4 Companies Leading the Open Concept Office Trend
  • 5 Design Trends Changing the Work Environment

Within each of the blog posts, you would feature a call-to-action to download “The 10 Benefits of Open Concept Offices” whitepaper.

Implement an Inbound Marketing Platform

While the bulk of the work in crafting an inbound marketing plan is routed, in strategy and content creation, the technology that facilitates inbound lead generation should not be overlooked. When considering infrastructure to facilitate inbound marketing choose platforms and approaches that will let you focus on your business, rather than the nuts-and-bolts of connecting disparate systems.

Recruit a Team of Inbound Marketing Experts

As we previously mentioned, inbound marketing requires a very diverse, yet specific skill set. Depending on your in-house expertise, capacity for additional work and the size of your budget it might make sense to hire for specific roles or outsource certain aspects of your inbound marketing execution.

A well rounded, Inbound Marketing team will have access to all of these skill sets:

  • Inbound marketing strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Blogging
  • Web Analytics / data analysis
  • Front & back end web development
  • Web design
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click marketing
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Email marketing
  • Social media / community management
  • Project management

Conclusion

Making the switch from traditional, Outbound dominated, marketing programs to inbound dominated marketing investments can seem like a leap of faith, but the benefits are indisputable. The sooner you can put this plan into action, the sooner you will be reaping the rewards of inbound marketing — more leads, at a lower cost, generated by a completely Scaleable Strategy.

Key Take-Aways:

  1. Define your buyer personas
  2. Identify your marketing triggers
  3. Create a list of keywords
  4. Set your inbound marketing goals
  5. Outline your content strategy
  6. Design your lead nurturing process
  7. Create a conversion focused blogging strategy
  8. Implement & Align infrastructure & business processes
  9. Recruit for the skillsets you need

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about — Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

A Step By Step Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategy

A Step By Step Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategy

   Are you new to inbound or think your current campaigns could use some direction?

Over at OverGo we’ve come up with a pretty foolproof and seamless process of creating a marketing strategy. It’s really quite simple, all you need to do is set the goals, create the basics, automate the processes, and analyze the results. Let’s dig deeper!

Setting Goals

The first step to creating an inbound marketing strategy is to define your business goals. Based on where you are and where you want to go, it’s important to create a roadmap of how to get there. Along with this road you can define the KPIs that tell you how your inbound marketing campaign is doing. You can look at your competitors, your industry market, and where you are in that market to create realistic and attainable goals.

Discovery Session 

The first step in setting a direction is to set customized goals during a discovery session. Conducting a meeting with you and your team to identify your ideal customers is the best way to go about this. In this meeting, you can discuss your key metrics, revenue goals, and your sales process to produce the best-customized strategy. 

Create a Buyer Persona

A deeper understanding of your audience provides direction for the content you create and keeps your visitors coming back for more. You can create a research-based representation of who your buyers are, what they want to accomplish, pain points that shape their behavior, and how they make buying decisions.

Industry Research

An understanding of your competitors and what other companies are doing in your industry is ideal. You can pinpoint your specialty and see where the holes are in your industry that could be filled.

Getting Found

Keyword Research

Once we get an understanding of your audience, it’s important to find out how people are searching for your content through keyword research. This allows you to see the estimated global and local search volume, ranking difficulty and also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns. Through this research, you can decipher which terms and phrases to target in order to attract the right visitors to your website.

Onsite SEO

This consists of all the factors on a website page that influence search engine ranking. In order to get found for the keywords that are chosen in your keyword strategy, it’s important to optimize every page that is created on your website. All pages should include the appropriate keyword within the content, page properties, and the image tags. Performing onsite SEO for all current and future pages that you build out for your website is very important.

Editorial Calendar 

Before beginning your blogging campaign, come up with an editorial calendar to ensure that you are publishing and promoting content on a regular basis. An editorial calendar will not only make it easier to schedule content, capitalize on upcoming product or service launches, but it will ultimately encourage discipline in the running and updating of any blog.

Blog Writing, and Posting

Blogging is the basis of bringing traffic to your website and relevant visitors will come to your site when you blog about the right content. The key is to create content around your buyer personas pain points and main industry topics. Keeping up with blogging is a high priority in getting your website found online, the more frequent you blog the more visitors you will attract.

Pay-Per-Click

PPC campaigns give you an opportunity to put your message in front of an audience that is seeking your product or service. Through keyword research, strategic bidding, and a compelling advertisement you can get the results you want. PPC is no longer limited to search engines, you can also run PPC campaigns on various social media platforms.

Social Marketing

Social media is THE platform for sharing content and odds are your audience is engaging on at least one social media platform. Sharing content on your social media accounts allows you to reach your audience on multiple channels- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. Social media acts as a gateway for potential prospects to find your website so it is important to be relevant, active and engaging in this sphere.

Getting Leads

Premium Content Production

Premium content converts visitors to leads on your website. Specifically, premium content is an offer that contains unique informational value to your target audience. Visitors are willing to fill out a form with their contact information in order to gain access to your premium content. Examples of premium content are eBooks, Webinars, Whitepapers, Case Studies, etc.

Landing Page Design

Landing pages are where premium content lives. Sending your potential clients to landing pages where you capture their information and create new leads for your sales team is a best practice. A good landing page is eye-catching, properly designed, and attracts new leads. The basis of a good landing page is to have the desired user action, which is what you want your visitors to do once they land on your page.

Call-to-Action Creation

A call-to-action (CTA) can make or break your website's lead acquisition rate. CTA's direct visitors to your premium content landing pages. We work with the branding of your website in order to create professional and exceptional graphic buttons your visitors will be compelled to click. We think of CTA as mini billboards positioned on your website to direct visitors to the next steps you want them to take. To facilitate lead generation you can design A/B CTA test groups and position them on various pages throughout your website.

Acquiring Customers

Alignment of Sales and Marketing 

Utilizing CRM integration allows you to provide your sales team with information that will make them better equipped for sales calls. With CRM systems you can track every action a lead takes on your website, your email marketing and on social media. This kind of information puts your sales team one step ahead on a sales call. They will be able to prepare themselves for the type of product or service the lead is interested in, and build on the trust the lead has already established with your business.

Lifecycle Communications

Getting to know your potential clients better is also important by creating a lead lifecycle plan based on your website content and sales funnel. Lifecycle plans segment leads based on who they are, how much interaction they've had with your business online, what kind of content you want them to receive, and at what part of the sales funnel you want them to receive it.

Lead Nurturing

The best way to move a lead through a sales funnel is to launch lead nurturing campaigns. You can do this with a workflow which allows you to trigger a follow-up email or a series of emails based on the action that a lead may take. This helps nurture and educate leads so they are prompted to take next steps and prepared before they even talk to a sales person.

Automated Workflows

Workflows are more than just a lead nurturing tool. They help you automate common marketing processes, moving leads through your funnel in an efficient way. Sending marketing emails, changing contact properties, and sending internal notification emails, are all possible with workflows. They bring marketers the same kind of automation a sophisticated CRM system provides to sales, bridging the gap between both processes.

Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting gives sales an opportunity to report on what happened to the qualified leads we provided, helping further understand your best and worst lead sources. With closed-loop reporting, you are able to plan more strategically for the future by focusing on your best lead sources, those with the best lead to customer conversion rate.

Retaining Customers

Closing sales and getting customers are great goals to have. But I think the inbound marketing mentality supports the fact that the relationship with your customers doesn’t need to end there. After you bring in leads from online tactics you can focus on turning customers into promoters of your business. After all, the best advocates of your products or services are those that have experience with them. Options for continued retention processes include implementing referral programs, continued customer education pieces, and segmenting customer newsletters in order to keep your customers coming back for more. 

Continued Education Pieces

Inbound allows you to segment your customers into lists based on their needs and implement marketing automation. You can communicate information on any additional needs they may have as a customer. Perhaps there is an opportunity to cross-sell but your customer was not aware of it, these communications will make sure they are well educated on the full scope of your products and services.

Segmented Customer Newsletters 

Newsletters aren’t just for leads and potential customers; you can send segmented customer newsletters so they continue to see you as experts in your industry. Customers receive newsletters that contain updates on current events in your industry, as well as press releases and product and service announcements.

Referral Programs 

A referral customer comes at a much lower cost and has a higher potential for retention and loyalty. If applicable for your business, you can create referral programs that make it easy for current customers to promote your product or service.

Account Analysis

Marketing Benchmarks  

Always analyzing your main marketing benchmarks is key. These metrics include customer acquisition cost (CAC) and ratio of customer value to CAC which is the total value that your company derives from each customer compared with what you spend to acquire that new customer. You can also look at the time to payback CAC which is the number of months it takes for your company to earn back the CAC it spent acquiring new customers, marketing originated customer percent which shows what new business is driven by marketing, and the marketing influenced customer percent which takes into account all of the new customers that marketing interacted with while they were leads anytime during the sales process.

Onsite Analysis 

Consistently performing a full onsite analysis of your website is also important. You do this by looking at keyword performance and rankings, organic search traffic and conversions, search engine optimization, blog performance, page performance, email click-through-rates, and much more. 

Offsite Analysis 

The offsite analysis goes hand in hand with onsite analysis. You can perform an offsite analysis which is the measurement and analysis of your online presence away from your website. This includes paid search campaigns, social media accounts and paid social campaigns. 

Monthly Reporting

Lastly, you can keep track of your unique business goals with in-depth reports based on your custom key performance indicators. Your reports are designed to foster communication and collaboration within your company so customizing it to your goals and with your sales and marketing teams is very necessary.

Takeaway

Setting up your strategy the right way might take a little bit of time, but in the end, it’s worth it and will produce the type of results that turn into leads and customers for your marketing and sales teams! If you want to learn more about how this can be applied to your business, I invite you to download our resource below!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about — Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin rival Ripple is suddenly sitting on billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency

Bitcoin rival Ripple is suddenly sitting on billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency

  • Blockchain start-up Ripple built a digital payments network for real-time financial transactions.
  • It suddenly has billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency on its balance sheet.

  

Bitcoin rival Ripple is suddenly sitting on billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency 

Blockchain start-up Ripple is in a precarious position for a 5-year-old company.The business is still in its very early days but suddenly has billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency on its balance sheet.Ripple, which built a digital payments network for real-time financial transactions, is also the creator and biggest owner of Ripple XRP, a digital currency that has increased in value by 40 times this year.There's a total of 100 billion XRP in existence, each priced at about 26 cents. The $26 billion of total value is second among cryptocurrencies, behind bitcoin, which is valued at $41 billion.

Ripple owns about 61 percent — or $16 billion worth — of XRP. If that were factored into the company's valuation, Ripple would be worth more than all but four U.S. start-ups — Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and WeWork. XRP is surging alongside Bitcoin and ether as well as smaller digital currencies like dash and monero. They're all benefiting from the growing interest in Blockchain, a distributed electronic ledger that makes all transactions trackable. Unlike other cryptocurrencies on the market, XRP is tied to — and majority-owned by — a single company.

That's led to concern among XRP investors and enthusiasts that Ripple will one day decide to capitalize on its massive stake and flood the market with currency. Some venture investors would surely welcome cashing in on some of that value after pouring about $94 million into the company. But for people with thousands (or millions) of dollars wrapped up in XRP, the fear of a sudden excess of supply has been unsettling, particularly considering the volatility of the currency. The price fell 13 percent late in the day on Thursday and double-digit daily moves are normal.

'Off the table'

To create some long-term stability and ease those concerns, Ripple announced a plan last week for the structured sale and use of its currency. By the end of 2017, the company will put 55 billion of its XRP into escrow and will unleash up to 1 billion into the market every month. Thus, investors will have some sense of what's coming. "We decided to take the issue off the table," Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said in an interview. "We wanted to make sure we were combating any uncertainty about supply."

Garlinghouse is a well-known name in Silicon Valley. He had senior executive roles at Yahoo and AOL and was CEO of Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) from 2012 to 2014. He joined Ripple in 2015, and earlier this year took over the CEO role from founder Chris Larsen, a serial entrepreneur, who previously started online lender Prosper. Garlinghouse likened Ripple's situation to Yahoo, which derives almost all of its current value from its large stake in China's Alibaba. (Yahoo's core business is being sold to Verizon and the Alibaba stake is being spun out into a new holding company called Altaba.)

The analogy only goes so far, as equity investors haven't ascribed a big multi-billion dollar valuation to Ripple. The company last raised money in September, when the XRP currency was worth a tiny fraction of its current price.However, Ripple's business has picked up quite a bit of momentum since then, which helps explain at least some of XRP's rally. Last month, Ripple signed up 10 new financial institutions, including BBVA, to its payments platform that supports speedy transactions by eliminating all the friction that exists between various currencies and financial systems.

Global banks including Bank of America, RBC and UBS are also customers. While bitcoin is the more established cryptocurrency, it's primarily used today as an investment vehicle and has run into big latency problems with handling transactions. Ripple and ethereum have emerged as the early leaders in enabling business arrangements, with Ripple trying to build the digital payments standard for the financial sector. "Some of those banks are all in and some are still in the early stage running a pilot," Garlinghouse said. "We have real customers touching real production systems. We're the only company you can say that about in our space."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Kik maker launches cryptocurrency to fight Internet ‘giants’

Kik maker launches cryptocurrency to fight Internet ‘giants’

  

Launching its own cryptocurrency called Kin

Kik Interactive Inc., the maker of anonymous chat app Kik, announced today that it is launching its own cryptocurrency called Kin in order to push back against what Chief Executive Ted Livingston calls the “copy-and-crush strategy” of giant Internet companies.

“We’ve reached a worrying point in the evolution of the internet: More and more of our everyday digital activities — from talking to friends to ordering food to share photos — are controlled by fewer and fewer companies,” Livingston wrote in a blog post. “The biggest companies use their scale to  mass advertising dollars and give everything else away for free, making it nearly impossible for smaller competitors to find sustainable business models.” According to Livingston, Kik’s new cryptocurrency will allow developers to “link arms to compete with the giants together, building a better future for society while also making money.”

Kin is based on the Ethereum blockchain, and it will be integrated directly into Kik for in-app purchases, which Livingston says will help generate demand for the cryptocurrency. He noted that Kik’s existing digital currency, Kik Points, has already demonstrated that Kin could be successful. “Despite its intentional limitations, Kik Points saw a transaction volume three times higher than Bitcoin’s,” Livingston said. “As the default currency inside Kik, Kin will go far beyond Kik Points by allowing people to participate in an economy based on buying and selling stickers, hosting and joining group chats, creating and using bots, and much more.”

Livingston said he hopes Kin will help create an open, decentralized digital ecosystem, which would allow consumers to move to other platforms without losing apps or services that they have already paid for. Kik users will be able to earn and spend Kin through the app, which could allow the app’s predominantly younger user base to spend money without having to use a credit card. Kik will have also parental controls for Kin to prevent underage users from spending the currency without permission. Each day, an algorithm will also distribute Kin to developers through the Kin Rewards Engine based on how much their service contributed on the platform. The idea behind this rewards program is to compensate developers without having to rely on an advertising model, which Livingston says will “lead to a virtuous cycle in which the ecosystem grows in both size and quality.”

To oversee the new cryptocurrency, Kik is founding the Kin Foundation, an independent not-for-profit organization that will operate the reward engine and manages transaction services and a decentralized user identity. “It’s like Mozilla for the mobile era, but with payments built in,” Livingston said. Livingston did not name any names when describing the big “copy-and-crush” companies, but one of the most likely candidates would be Facebook Inc., which has been increasingly expanding its products to compete directly with newer social apps. For example, Facebook-owned Instagram has introduced a number of features over the last year that gives it functions similar to Snapchat.

Chuck Reynolds
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Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The bitcoin and cryptocurrency bubble is just getting started

The bitcoin
and cryptocurrency
bubble is just getting started

  

 I attended one of the most important events in the blockchain world

The consensus is an annual blockchain technology summit in New York where industry leaders discuss all things bitcoin and blockchain, and where new blockchain companies come to pitch their ideas. Regular readers are familiar with bitcoin and blockchain. Bitcoin is digital money that is created and held electronically. At the core of Bitcoin technology is a super database called the “blockchain.” The blockchain contains every transaction in the history of bitcoin and is accessible to anyone. A lot of people think that blockchain will eventually be used to process everything from stock trades to voting.

I first recommended buying bitcoin back in March. Over the next two and a half months, the price of bitcoin soared 72 percent. Earlier this week, I reiterated my recommendation to buy by saying: “stop procrastinating!” Guess what? Bitcoin is up another 20 percent since then. But the rollercoaster ride isn’t done yet. One of my biggest takeaways from Consensus was that the boom in bitcoin and blockchain is just getting started. Everywhere I looked, conference attendees were on mobile phones and laptops trading cryptocurrencies throughout the course of the conference. Here are just a few of the things I learned at the summit:

The bitcoin boom is fuelling more cryptocurrency rallies

The market capitalisations of the two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, and ether, have increased by nearly US$40 billion in the past three months. The total cryptocurrency market cap is up by $65 billion (a nearly 300 percent gain) to US$85 billion. As a result, holders of these currencies are sitting on huge wealth and they are now looking to “diversify” into other cryptocurrencies. This means that instead of being 100 percent in bitcoin and/or ether, investors are looking to take 5 or 10 percent of their cryptocurrency portfolio and buy other cryptocurrencies. This is fuelling a boom in second-tier cryptocurrencies.

Rampant speculation

As I listened in on pitches from new blockchain businesses, the most common single question was this: “when is the ICO?” (ICO means “initial coin offering”, the cryptocurrency equivalent of an IPO, or initial public offering, for a stock). Market participants are expecting immediate multiples of return on capital, regardless of the business case (if any). ICOs are viewed as near-guarantees of immediate big gains. I see a lot of parallels here with the tech bubble of the late 1990s. And there will be some spectacular blowups ahead.

But let’s be clear: at the peak of the dot-com bubble, the market cap of the NASDAQ index was near US$6 trillion. The entire cryptocurrency market cap right now is currently less than 1.5 percent of that. The point is, for all the noise in the media, the level of general public participation in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies remains extremely low. Just think about your own group of friends and associates. How many of them even own bitcoin? So this bubble is just getting started.

Regulators at the gate

The legal and regulatory system is far behind what’s actually happening in the cryptocurrency space. How do you treat cryptocurrencies? Are they securities? Currencies? Assets? Something in between? Remember, all cryptocurrencies offer different characteristics. Some offer the equivalent of a coupon or a distribution of profits, for example. But at some stage regulators (most likely the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)) will step into this market. Especially as the financial stakes increase. There are scam-like cryptocurrencies taking advantage of the huge boom. When investors start crying foul, you can expect the SEC to start weighing in. When they do, you can expect increased volatility and big drops in the scummier cryptocurrencies out there. But SEC participation will only make this industry more mainstream and bring in more money.

In the meantime…

This was just a quick wrap-up of what’s going on in cryptocurrencies. I’ll be bringing you more insights on this space in the future. But for now, everyone should be accumulating a little bitcoin. A few hundred dollars, a couple thousand… whatever you can afford to allocate in the super-speculative portion of your portfolio. Now, bitcoin will not keep increasing in value at its current rate of growth forever. At some stage, the market price will correct.

But everyone needs to familiarize themselves with the process of buying, trading and storing cryptocurrencies. Blockchain and Bitcoin are here to stay. This technology will only grow in scale and opportunity. And being on the outside (and not understanding it) will limit your ability to profit from it. Remember, this rollercoaster ride is just getting started. So there’s no reason not to be buying now.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The Kin Token Is Set To Kick Off On Kik Messenger

Ontario Canada’s Kik Interactive will dive into the cryptocurrency market with Kin, an Ethereum-based ERC20 token.

  

The company plans to extend blockchain technology

May 25, 2017, during Token Summit at New York University (NYU), Kik's founder Ted Livingston announced a whitepaper outlining the creation of Kin, an ERC20-based token. A designer of the popular messenger app Kik, the company plans to extend blockchain technology into the messenger market, allowing users to make transactions in cryptocurrency. Kik's rise as a messenger is indisputable; the company boasts 300 million users according to Tech Crunch and received a nearly $1 billion valuation in 2015 after Chinese investment firm Tencent invested $50 million in the company. Now Livingston has set his eyes on blockchain technology.

During the announcement today at Token Summit in NYU, Livingston stated he doesn't want to simply create a token, he wants to build a system of value. "We give Kin value," said Livingston. "Could we use some of that value to spark the creation of a new ecosystem of digital services?" Livingston also emphasized that his intentions are not to create an advertising platform. "We just built a place that people come to together to provide value for each other, and if you do that, you can make a better future and you can also make money," he said.

Kik did tests with virtual currency in 2014 with a service called “Kik Points” which could be traded for limited edition emoticons. Now, Kik plans to manifest Kin as an ERC20 token which can be used as a general purpose cryptocurrency for services like chat, social media, and payments. To meet financing goals, a trillion units out of 10 trillion total will be distributed at a token sale to be later announced. The company plans to use the remaining unsold tokens to fund Kik operations and deploy the Kin Foundation.

The roadmap for token allocation is clear and laid out in the Kin Whitepaper:

  

It will take four straightforward steps to reach Kik's goal; first coining the Kin tokens, next integrating Kin tokens into the Kik platform. Then, development will begin on a system called Kin Rewards, which will introduce Kin into circulation as a daily reward, distributed amongst developers whose contributions are gauged by a disbursement algorithm. The final step will be to launch the Kin Foundation as a non-profit governance body to manage the entire ecosystem surrounding Kin. Kin Rewards presents users the opportunity to earn Kin for engaging other users in transactions. The proportion of rewards received is relative to transaction engagement.

If a good or service is provided in exchange for Kin, the total amount of transactions completed by that vendor is logged. Rewards are provided based on the percentage of those overall transactions that were made with Kin on a daily basis. Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures and Kik board member, said in a release, “cryptocurrency is the next important business model innovation in tech.” He went on to say, “Kik will be the first mainstream application to integrate a cryptocurrency. This could be a watershed moment for the blockchain sector.” Kik's capability to advertise Ethereum to its numerous users may be a boon to holders of the currency as mass awareness may cause a surge in the value of Ether, which recently rose above the $200 USD mark.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
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TCC-Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Did this not-safe-for-work internet sensation just signal a top in Bitcoin?

Did this not-safe-for-work internet sensation just signal a top in Bitcoin?

   Dan Bilzerian’s penchant for automatic weapons,

high-stakes poker, fast women, and faster cars have made him an unfiltered internet phenomenon. Now you can add go ahead and bitcoin BTCUSD, +3.10%  to his list. Bilzerian told his 22.3 million Instagram followers on Wednesday afternoon that he “just bought a sh*tload of Bitcoin” and that “it’s so crazy watching that sh*t f**king go up it’s like… betting a bunch of money on the Super Bowl.” Do you trust this guy’s judgment?

Bilzerian, of course, knows all about betting a bunch of money. He once claimed he won $50 million over the course of a year playing poker. He also said that he flipped a coin for $2.3 million and lost. So, yes, Bitcoin sounds about right, considering the cryptocurrency’s volatility. On Thursday, Bitcoin rallied to yet another record high and has now jumped almost 50% in the last week alone. Since last year, Bitcoin has surged more than 400%. As you can see, however, Bilzerian’s endorsement didn’t exactly thrill many of the investors frequenting Reddit’s Bitcoin group:

“If that’s not a sign of a bubble IDK what is lol.”  “NORMIES INCOMING!”  “F**k I just sold some because of this, not even joking.” Does Bilzerian’s post, indeed, mark a potential top for bitcoin, like a cab driver tipping you off about the next hot semiconductor stock?  Who knows, but he has backed a winning long shot before.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin’s appeal is at an all-time high

Bitcoin’s appeal is at an all-time high

  

Global stock indexes are not the only asset

class making new highs on a daily basis. Cryptocurrencies — specifically Bitcoin soaring to fresh levels as well. Despite two major setbacks for bitcoin in 2017, it has soared nearly 55 percent from its year-to-date lows as Asian investors flock to the new-age currency. Bitcoin prices are now trading at previously uncharted levels as the value of the cryptocurrency reached a high of $1,588 on CoinDesk on Friday morning. In January the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, launched a crackdown on bitcoin, believing that citizens were using it to move wealth out of the country. Prices fell as low as $750 on Jan. 12 before recovering.

In March the cryptocurrency had a run-up on anticipation that the Securities and Exchange Commission would decide in favor of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund driven by the Winklevoss brothers. Bitcoin prices reached a high of $1,350 before the feds nixed the proposal, sending prices to a low of $891 soon afterward. Prices began to recover as Japan officially acknowledged the use of cryptocurrencies and passed legislation allowing retailers to accept payment in digital form. Russia and India have also loosened restrictions on cryptocurrencies, leading to wider acceptance within their borders as both countries — India especially — struggle with their own internal currency crises.

The SEC announced in April that it would take a second look at a bitcoin ETF by reviewing its ruling in the Winklevoss brothers’ application. No timetable has been released on when that may happen. Bitcoin’s market cap is now north of $23 billion, which is chump change for any asset class. But with more acceptance and wider appeal, the digital currency can be divided into smaller units such as decibits, millibits, and centibits to make smaller transactions possible. Ethereum, which is the second-most prominent cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, struck a new all-time high Tuesday as well, trading at $85. It now has a market cap of $7 billion on the strength of its acceptance in gaming circles in Asian countries.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member