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Tag: markethive

Stages of an Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy

Stages of an Effective Inbound
Marketing Strategy

   

                                              Inbound Marketing Strategy

Inbound marketing has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to promote and do business online. In fact, a survey revealed that 93% of companies who used inbound marketing experienced an increase in traffic and lead generation! The beauty about this strategy is its ability to draw quality prospects to your content. Its centers on providing valuable content that your ideal customers are naturally interested in. No more chasing or using antiquated methods like buying email lists. Inbound marketing is win-win for both parties involved as you offer solutions to your niche while your prospects glean value from your content.

The major component of inbound marketing is the process of nurturing a “stranger” to an eventual promoter of your business. In other words, your target market starts off not knowing anything about your company. They visit your content, become interested enough to subscribe to your list (become a lead), are cultivated through your email messages that they purchase your product, then are so enamored by your ongoing life-changing value that they essentially promote you and your brand from their customer experience! This is achieved through tactics such as your content marketing, social media, SEO techniques, and email content, just to name a few.

Each of these elements play a huge role in your overall inbound marketing success. You can’t just focus on generating leads and sales if you want a long-term sustainable business. If you do it right, inbound marketing will position you to create lots of loyal, happy customers. The following are the four marketing actions you must consider to generate desired results in your business.

Attract Visitors

The prerequisite to driving quality traffic to your sites is being clear about your target audience is and what interests them. Knowing the pains, problems, needs, and questions of your buyer personas prepares you to create a content marketing strategy that resonates with them by solving their problems. This is how you attract visitors by sharing information that speaks to your ideal customer.

Here are some of the most common ways to draw visitors to your content online:

  • Social Media
    Learn the networks where your target market “hangs out” to focus your marketing efforts there.
  • Blogging
    This an important facet to inbound marketing and the best way to attract visitors to your content. Your blog also positions you as the expert and authority in your niche. No business should be without a blog!
  • Video Marketing
    It’s predicted that by 2017, 74% of content viewed online will be from video; a compelling stat to motivate any business to boost their video strategy.
  • Email
    Even when visitors become leads, continue to send them to your content by sharing recent posts in email messages. This keeps them coming back to your brand and improves your search engine rankings.

Convert Visitors into Leads

Now that you’re attracting visitors, it’s time to convert them into leads and capture their contact information. The best way is through an exchange; you offer something valuable and enticing where they are compelled to give you the goods. This freebie could be a checklist, eBook, how-to video, guide, bootcamp series, webinar, discount/coupon…anything that would be deemed valuable to your audience.

This works great when the freebie is congruent to the message they’re viewing. Therefore, if you’re sharing content on how to lose 10 pounds in 14 days, a good offer would be a daily checklist that helps them to do just that! Align the offer to get better results. Finally, (and this is very important), to capture leads from your content, you must leave a call to action (CTA) or tell the visitor what to do next. This can be as simple as telling them to click on the link directly below a video, or to leave a comment for feedback, or even to share your content with their network. The key is to give them directions to take your desired action.

Close Sales & Gain New Customers

The next key element is converting your leads into sales. The good news is that your leads are qualified and have expressed interest in your company. Moving forward, using tools like your CRM system to help you enrich your list that brings them closer to the buying decision is essential.

Below are some ways to increase sales conversions within your list:

  • Use social proof, customer testimonials, case studies and tests findings to illustrate that people are getting results from your product/business. Testimonials are excellent because your lead now believes it will work for them too!
  • Create deeper levels of target marketing by segmenting your email list. By separating your list even further based on certain criteria like interest, age, etc., you can increasingly personalize your messages to speak specifically to someone. It is one of the most overlooked features in email marketing software.
  • Reduce or remove risk. Most businesses have a 30-day money back guarantee that gives consumers some comfort prior to purchasing. Make sure that your list is aware of your risk-free policies.

Engage & Delight with Value

This is where you build raving, loyal fans who gloat about your business to their networks. How does this happen? By continuing to give value that relates to your audience. You want to be so well in-tune with your audience that you can provide fresh, relevant content that keeps them in the know. Surveys work fine because you can directly ask what your customers want. Use social media feedback as way to improve your customer initiatives and create great experiences.

Studying and staying abreast with your buyer personas positions you to upsell and create new products centered around them. You are literally giving the people what they want…and they will love you for it! The key to your inbound marketing success lies in focusing on these four key elements and getting really good at them. Hubspot offers invaluable training, tools and resources that will shorten your learning curve and give you the action plans to excel. As you start to implement this strategy into your marketing, undoubtedly will you see an increase in traffic, leads and sales.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

2X ROI: Double-Dip Your Content Marketing Efforts

2X ROI:
Double-Dip Your Content
Marketing Efforts

I try hard to avoid the clichés of content marketing
    

There's lots more you can get out of your content marketing efforts.

The term “content marketing” is a little bit of misnomer. The service that’s designed to brand and market your company can actually provide many other business functions beyond “just marketing.” In name alone “content marketing” prevents many companies from looking beyond the assumed marketing-only benefits. But companies who delve into content marketing slowly discover that their company-branded media is starting to support other business efforts such as reducing operating expenses, attracting new employees, or even being a source of revenue. With the help of other content marketing experts, I’ve compiled the following video and article highlighting the non-marketing benefits of content marketing.

Recruiting

How often have you heard a company tell you they have a great corporate culture? Company culture can mean so many different things. Without actually seeing it in action, it means absolutely nothing.You can actually show corporate culture by allowing each employee to shoot a video explaining how they do their job. Shoot interview videos of company events, or maybe create video profiles of each employee. “A strong talent brand established through content can help you recruit faster and attract people who are a better culture fit, both of which reduce the overall cost of hiring,” said Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, host of the Marketing Smarts podcast and director of product strategy, training at MarketingProfs.

Another method to drive interest in your employer brand is through traditional “thought leadership”-style content marketing. “Being seen as a source for certain topics naturally leads to the perception that the brand is ‘dominant in a particular category’ and that attracts the type of talent that wants to be part of that particular team,” said Paul Dunay, financial services & US Brexit marketing leader at PwC.

Training

You'll learn just by creating content.“The process of creating a remarkable piece of content is an education in itself,” said Jason Miller, global content marketing leader for LinkedIn. In college, I took statistics and did well, but I was only studying to get a good grade. As a student you can get by with ‘sort of’ knowing the topic. That changed once I became a statistics teaching assistant and tutor. When you’re responsible for teaching you need to understand the subject well enough to explain it to others. Similarly, once you start creating content for a business community, you’ll spend a lot of time educating your audience about industry issues. “Mapping out subjects for the people you want to reach has the side benefit of helping you refine your own knowledge and expertise,” said Bob Knorpp, host of The Beancast.

Industry relations

A journalist has a great networking excuse.“There is a lot of love that goes into creating an insightful piece of content,” said LaurieAnne Lassek, CMO of ThinkSmart. “It might look like someone just ‘whipped up’ a video, but in reality, there were very likely a lot of steps and people with input along the way.”A positive relation begins when you first express interest in the individual. The act of creating content is a positive relationship-making effort where you get to make relations with coworkers, customers, potential customers, investors, and industry insiders. “I've had the chance to work with Salesforce customers, create relationships, and learn from them. They tell me their stories. I write about, and share their experiences. I really get to know them, and they know me, too,” admitted Amanda Nelson , senior manager, AppExchange content and community at Salesforce.

A company that produces content is not limited to talking about their industry. You can create any media on cultural and political issues your brand feels passionately about. For example, PepsiCo has a website about sustainability. At my business, Spark Media Solutions, we started producing a series of pro bono videos for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization that fights for digital privacy rights. For us, the match with EFF was appropriate. We had the interest. Our audience had the interest. And we had a content product, “man on the street” videos, that achieved a need for the EFF. They wanted videos that showcased the thoughts and opinions of its members.

“In a values-driven marketplace you’re appealing towards those who are also interested in driving this kind of change,” explained Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communications + Technology. By creating media, companies can align themselves with a cause, beyond just issuing a press release. The content can be a demonstration of your organization’s values as well as your tools and talent. In the case of EFF we want the work to be successful, but we’re not fully altruistic. We want the industry to recognize our involvement as well. Beyond just philanthropy, Holtz believes that businesses must start expressing their values. “If you’re not values driven and contributing company profits, people are going to stop investing in you, coming to work for you, and buying your stuff,” warned Holtz.

Employee retention

“When individuals within the company publish the wisdom and expertise, and it’s recognized by the rest of the industry, it can have a deep impact on strengthening your company culture and build genuine pride in being a part of the company,” said Steve Farnsworth, CMO, Steveology Group.

Smaller companies can’t always rely on huge salaries or company perks. Creative public bragging can go a long way to attracting new employees. More importantly, it can retain the employees you currently have. “Showing employees that they work for a company that creates buzz and is creative and maybe even has a sense of humor too, that kind of stuff matters to people,” said Elinor Mills, SVP content marketing and strategy for Bateman Group. “Give people content they want to share with their friends and family. That makes them proud.”

“As employees encounter your content in the wild and see senior executives quoted in the media — there is a certain amount of pride (even bragging rights) that you just can’t get from an ‘all hands’ call or other corporate outings,” added PwC’s Dunay. And when others recognize the value of the content, go out of your way to let the company know, as Farnsworth did. For one client, he made sure that everyone knew how a piece of content they produced resulted in speaking opportunities, press interviews, and additional media. “Seeing co-workers published and praised had created a profound sense among the team that they worked at a company of experts,” said Farnsworth.

Set industry trends

One of the nice advantages of content marketing is you don’t necessarily need a product to sell to see value. Sometimes content marketing’s purpose is to educate your audience. Scott Vaughan, CMO at INTEGRATE, is living this right now as his company is prepping to bring a new solution to the market that offers a new paradigm for marketing technology.

“This content and communications is being utilized by all stakeholders. This includes our HR/recruiting team to attract talent, our executive team to bring investors to the table, our business development team to get the best partners on board, and our customer success team to help educate our current customers on what’s next,” said Vaughan. David Spark is the founder of the B2B tech content marketing firm Spark Media Solutions. Subscribe to his YouTube channel for content marketing tips or listen to his podcast, Tear Down Show.

A profit center

What? You can make money from content?“One end goal of content marketing is to provide so much value that it becomes a profit center all its own,” said Josh Nite, content marketing lead at TopRank Marketing. His firm has produced eBooks for conferences such as Content Marketing World and MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum that were paid for by either sponsors or the conferences themselves. “It’s awesome when we can prove the ROI of our marketing. But it’s way more awesome if the content is turning a profit all on its own,” said Nite.

Reduce operating expenses

Research I did on the Sony A7S.If you have to repeat it more than once, make a video. Customer support media is one of the most quantifiable benefits of content marketing. For every person who watches a video or reads an article to solve a given problem, that’s one less call to customer service. Companies that are inundated by customer support calls, such as online backup provider CrashPlan, have lessened the blow of support requests by generating a flood of support articles and videos.

In some situations the community will create the educational content for you. For example, after purchasing a new Sony A7S camera, I took to YouTube to educate myself on how to use the excellent and absurdly complicated camera. I spent about four hours watching “how to” videos. Not one of those videos was produced by Sony. In addition, the inclusion of supportive media greatly reduces a sales staff’s need to manage small deals, noted Ali MacDonald, head of worldwide enterprise digital marketing for Bitdefender. Individuals and small businesses utilize these articles and videos to make purchase decisions on their own.

Low-cost market research

Even stuff that doesn't make it to the final piece is market research.With every action, Internet users are telling you what they do and don’t want. Sometimes they’ll tell you upfront by sending an email. But don’t count on them to always be so truthful. If you really want to know how they feel, you’ll have to make sense of their passive communications. What do they click on and consume, and what are they avoiding? “Content marketing gives you a chance to collect more information about your prospects and customers so that you can provide better value and relevance to them,” said Janet Cunningham, manager content marketing at DST Systems, who suggests you “test positioning of a new product or offer through paid search or headline testing.”

CONCLUSION: The whole business is content

“Everything you do as a business is a benefit of content marketing. Content is your product whether you recognize it or not,” noted Steve Kovsky, director, content and digital marketing for CrowdStrike. “You’re a content company that happens to make a product.” Your content runs through and can power every aspect of your business. To get there, just start thinking of your content as more than just “marketing.”

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Australian Stock Exchange Announces First-Ever Bitcoin Investment

Australian Stock Exchange Announces First-Ever Bitcoin Investment

Australian Stock Exchange Announces First-Ever Bitcoin Investment
 

In a first, Melbourne-based Blockchain Global Limited (BGL) has used bitcoin in an AUD$4.35 million investment to acquire a 40% stake in ASX-listed blockchain payments fintech DigitalX.

Details from an announcement today on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) reveal DigitalX to receive, in bitcoin, AUD$300,000 in a convertible loan. A further AUD$550,000 will be invested in convertible notes along with AUD$3.8 million in shares.

“DigitalX has received AUD$300,000 by way of a convertible loan in Bitcoin (BTC),” the announcement stated. “The convertible loan is convertible into shares in DigitalX…”

Blockchain Global Limtied (BGL), formerly operating as the Bitcoin Group, began as a bitcoin mining operator before diversifying into a blockchain solutions provider, a corporate incubator and more recently, an ICO specialist. The Bitcoin Group raised AUD$5.9 million and missed out on its target of AUD$20 million following a number of delays to get listed on the ASX itself.

Ultimately, the firm scrapped its efforts to become the world’s first publicly-listed bitcoin miner after the ASX raised liquidity and regulatory concerns.

Perth-based DigitalX, formerly Digital CC, also saw a rebrand in late 2015 and shifted its objectives from mining bitcoin to blockchain software development. As a part of its shift in strategy, DigitalX has now developed AirPocket, a blockchain payments and remittance app that enables payments to 14 countries with a majority of them in Latin America.

“DigitalX welcomes BGL as an investor in the company, and appreciates the confidence it has shown in DigitalX’s growth and understanding within the blockchain ecosystem,” said DigitalX CEO Leigh Travers.

The executive added:

“Having just returned from Consensus, the biggest blockchain conference in the world, the growing support for blockchain, digital currency and decentralized organisations is unquestionable”.
 

As a part of its investment, BGL is voluntarily escrowing its shareholding in DigitalX for a 12 month period from the date of issuance.

Meanwhile, the ASX is invested in blockchain technology itself, having paid AUD $14.9 million for a 5% equity interest in New York-based blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings (DAH). Australia’s biggest private stock exchange is currently trialing a DAH-developed blockchain system to replace its existing post-trade processing system.

Author: Samburaj Das

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

DAO Casino wants to use cryptocurrency to disrupt online gambling

DAO Casino wants to use cryptocurrency to disrupt online gambling

Imagine an online gambling ecosystem that is decentralized, meaning that it cuts out the typical middleman between a game-maker or betting operator and the player or bettor. That’s the pitch of Russian company DAO.Casino, a decentralized platform for online gambling operators that runs on
the Ethereum blockchain.

    

                  In its white paper on the developer site Github, DAO.Casino
says it can solve common headaches of online gambling that afflict both game developers and game players, such as: fraud risk; hidden fees; high cost of entry for game developers; operational overhead; player access to funds; player withdrawal delays; and general lack of trust. If that sounds like a mouthful, let’s take a step back. In the cryptocurrency world, much of the press and attention right now is around bitcoin, since the price of bitcoin is flying: it’s up 200% in 2017 so far. But the price of a rival cryptocurrency, ether, has seen a bump as well: it’s up 174% in the past month, to $263. Ether is the currency of the Ethereum network, which is a blockchain for smart contracts.

Thereum smart contracts

While bitcoin runs on the bitcoin blockchain, a decentralized, permissionless ledger—and blockchain technology originated with bitcoin in 2009—Ethereum runs on its own blockchain specifically designed for smart contracts. Smart contracts are coded agreements that live in a permanent address on the Ethereum chain. These agreements can interact with other contracts to automatically enact functions. In other words, “smart contracts” is a fancy way of saying “computer programs.” For example: on Ethereum, we could exchange the title deed to a car, directly from seller to buyer. In a recent Cognizant survey of 578 financial service firms, 78% of respondents said their firm is exploring multiple blockchain platforms—of those, 49% listed the bitcoin blockchain, 42% said Ethereum.

While bitcoin is soaring as a speculative investment, there aren’t yet obvious mainstream uses for the currency beyond trading and holding it; many in the industry await the “killer app” for bitcoin. There is arguably more excitement right now around the uses of Ethereum, since it was created specifically for smart contracts (not for the currency, which is just an incentive token for developers). TechCrunch writes that Ethereum is “poised to overhaul open-source development.” And Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin (just 23 years old) met with Vladimir Putin this week, who praised Ethereum.

DAO.Casino and initial coin offering

That brings us to DAO.Casino, one of the many startups that believes it can solve a problem using Ethereum. On June 29, DAO.Casino will launch an ICO (initial coin offering), a popular new way of raising money for cryptocurrency startups in which investors buy up the startup’s own coin and pay for it with a more established coin. Ethereum did its own ICO in 2014, in which investors bought ether using bitcoin. An ICO typically lasts for a month. Think of an ICO as the equivalent of a VC round for cryptocurrency startups. In DAO.Casino’s ICO, it will sell BET, its own token, in exchange for ether.

Just don’t associate DAO.Casino with The DAO, a leaderless, decentralized network that launched in May 2016 (via an ICO that exchanged tokens for ether) as a platform for Ethereum-based projects and was quickly hacked, one month later, to the tune of $50 million. The entire Ethereum blockchain had to perform a split known as a “fork” in order to restore all the funds stolen in The DAO hack.

DAO.Casino is not an actual casino itself, but an open protocol for online gambling companies (like an online casino, blackjack game operator, or sports betting site) to build on. (DAO.Casino will also build its own branded games.) It isn’t aimed at the end user—if an online betting site were to use it, the bettor wouldn’t have to know or see that they’re using a system built on Ethereum. (I could even develop my own gambling site on top of DAO.Casino’s protocol and pay out users in BET tokens, but rename them Dancoins.) The company’s hope is that online betting sites will integrate with its network to offer games without the casino, a middleman that takes a big cut and may not always be trustworthy.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Rise of Ethereum: Why this cryptocurrency skyrocketed 3000% in 2017

Rise of Ethereum:
Why this cryptocurrency skyrocketed 3000% in 2017

Like bitcoin, ether is a blockchain based asset (similar to a security, like a bond, issued in physical form) which acts as a fuel operating the distributed application platform Ethereum.

    

Sidhartha Shukla — Moneycontrol News

Overshadowed by the more illustrious bitcoin,  altcoins —  alternative cryptocurrencies launched after the success of Bitcoin — traded in a narrow range for a long time. But that changed in 2017 when investors  decided that they needed to have a diversified portfolio of digital currencies, sparking a rush for altcoins. The most noticeable rally has been for ether, which has appreciated over 3000 percent year-to-date (YTD) from levels of USD 8 to USD 268, as per the CoinDesk price index.

Trading at all-time highs, ether is creating a new price record every other day. Like bitcoin, ether is a blockchain based asset (similar to a security, like a bond, issued in physical form) which acts as a fuel operating the distributed application platform Ethereum. As per Coinmarketcap, ether at present has the second largest share in the cryptocurrency market space only after bitcoin and many believe that it can overtake its senior in the coming days.

While it is known that only a finite amount of bitcoins — 21 million —  will be mined, people tend to think of it as virtual gold, a safe haven investment, and hence its price movement resonates with the characteristics of a limited commodity. Such an intrinsic characteristic is not available for ether which can explain the price movement. However there are a few factors experts says may have influenced this rally. Here is a list of developments which can explain this price movement.

Rise of the Ethereum Alliance

The recently formed Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) to connect large companies to technology vendors in order to work on projects using the blockchain is believed to be one of the major influencers on the ether price up move, as per a survey done by CoinDesk. Under this alliance global giants like JPMorgan, Microsoft and Intel have come together to explore the benefits of enterprise blockchain technology.

Bitcoin civil war

Many believe that it was the bitcoin scaling debate which led to this rally. As a consensus was not being reached on how to update the bitcoin blockchain to accommodate the increasing volume of transactions, many shifted their money to the second most popular option — ether.

ICOs

Initial coin offerings (ICOs), a new way to raise capital for cryptocurrency ventures, have picked up pace since the start of the year and many of these crypto-ventures are based on the ethereum blockchain, which means this will lead to more utilization of ether tokens, helping in the price uptick.

All aboard the hype train!

But the major reason  which can be attributed to the sudden spike in interest for buying ether could be a result of a herd mentality. Clearly visible from the graph below, a comparison of ethereum price and the rise in its search interest run directly proportional to each other. The rise in bitcoin's price since 2016 sparked a global interest in cryptocurrencies in general, experts believe that the sudden rally in altcoins like ether can be a result of that as people who missed the bus with bitcoin are rushing to get onboard the altcoin hype-train.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Linux Malware Mines for Cryptocurrency Using Raspberry Pi Devices

Linux Malware Mines for Cryptocurrency Using Raspberry Pi Devices

    

A Linux trojan detected under the generic name of
Linux.MulDrop.14 is infecting Raspberry Pi

devices with the purpose of mining cryptocurrency. According to Russian antivirus maker Dr.Web, the malware was first spotted online in the second half of May in the form of a script that contains a compressed and encrypted application. Experts say the initial infection takes place when Raspberry Pi operators leave their devices' SSH ports open to external connections. Once a Raspberry Pi device is infected, the malware changes the password for the "pi" account to:

$6$U1Nu9qCp$FhPuo8s5PsQlH6lwUdTwFcAUPNzmr0pWCdNJj.p6l4Mzi8S867YLmc7BspmEH95POvxPQ3PzP029yT1L3yi6K1

Malware targets only Raspberry Pi devices

After this, Linux.MulDrop.14 shuts down several processes and installs libraries required for its operation, including ZMap and sshpass. The malware then launches its cryptocurrency mining process and uses ZMap to continuously scan the Internet for other devices with an open SSH port. Once it finds one, the malware uses sshpass to attempt to log in using the username "pi" and the password "raspberry." Only this user/password combo is used, meaning the malware only targets Raspberry Pi single-board computers. This is somewhat out of the ordinary since most malware tries to target as many platforms as it can. Nonetheless, this version of the malware may be still under development, and other username & password combos may be added at a later date.

Still better than Mirai

Most users would dismiss the idea of using Raspberry Pi devices to mine for cryptocurrency, which is a very computational-heavy operation. While Raspberry Pi single-board computers do have some hardware resources at their disposal for the task the malware is attempting to perform, they are not as powerful as classic desktop or laptop computers, and nowhere near the efficiency of dedicated mining equipment. Nevertheless, people have used Raspberry Pi devices to mine for cryptocurrency in the past, with moderate success.

Either way, Linux.MulDrop.14 is certainly more equipped for the task at hand compared to a version of the Mirai IoT malware spotted in mid-April, which also tried to mine for cryptocurrency for a short period of time. At the time, Errata Security researcher Robert Graham estimated that if a Mirai botnet of 2.5 million bots mined for cryptocurrency, it would be earning only $0.25 per day because of the low computational power of the devices Mirai is capable of infecting (usually security cameras, DVRs, routers, and other IoT equipment).

Linux malware used to create a proxy network

Last but not least, Dr.Web researchers also said they discovered a second Linux malware strain, which they named Linux.ProxyM. As this malware's name implies, this Linux trojan is used to start a SOCKS proxy server on infected devices, which the trojan's author then uses to relay malicious traffic, disguising his real identity and location. No other details are available at this time about Linux.ProxyM, but researchers said the number of devices infected with this strain has grown to 10,000 systems after being first spotted in February 2017.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What is happening to cryptocurrency valuations?

What is happening to cryptocurrency valuations?

    
The total market cap for all cryptocurrencies just surpassed $100 billion.

The vast majority of these gains have come in just the last few months — on April 1st the total market cap was just over $25 billion — representing a 300 percent increase in value in just over 60 days. While some of these gains are from bitcoin itself (BTC is up ~160 percent in the same two-month time frame), other digital currencies like Ethereum are also responsible for the increase, which on its own has increased ~439 percent over the last two months. There’s perhaps no better way to show this diversity in gains than by looking at a chart of bitcoin’s “dominance” — i.e. what percent of the entire cryptocurrency market cap is represented by bitcoin. For years this had always hovered around 80 percent, but in the last few months has fallen to below 50 percent — with currencies like Ethereum and Ripple taking its place.

Bubble talk? 

It’s hard to be an experienced investor, or even an at-home part-time trader, and not think of a massive bubble when you see that some asset has increased more than 400 percent in just a few months. It’s just how history works — when an asset rises that fast it’s a near certainty that it will come back down. Markets are irrational, after all. So don’t be surprised if there’s at least some type of correction. There already was, a few weeks ago — bitcoin pulled back from a high of $2,700 to around $2,000, but, as of today, has slowly climbed back up to a new all-time high of ~$2,850.

Latest Crunch Report

That being said, we may look back in 12 months and realize that this two-month period of insane growth was less of a bubble and more of a rebirth of cryptocurrencies as a whole. The fact that these gains have come from currencies other than bitcoin are a good sign that this is less of a bubble and more of a resurgence of interest in crypto. It makes sense that Ethereum is on a tear — the cryptocurrency has technological improvements over bitcoin, including the ability to code smart contracts directly into the blockchain, which in turn allow for things like the ability to build totally new tokens and even host ICOs

(initial coin offerings).

The public has never been able to put their money directly into a technology that has so much potential but is still developing.

And similarly, Ripple, a cryptocurrency based on inter-bank settlements, has signed up more than 100 banks worldwide. Even if this takes a while to implement (which anyone who works in the old-school banking industry will confirm), it’s still tangible news and a reason for people to get excited about the currency. These recent developments certainly don’t justify increases of 400 percent in 60 days. Both Ethereum and Ripple have been around for a lot longer than a few months. So if these were publicly traded companies, there would be (almost) no reason for drastic rise in value. But cryptocurrencies are new — most of the world has no idea what bitcoin is, let alone Ethereum and Ripple and other currencies. The public has never been able to put their money directly into a technology that has so much potential but is still developing.

For example, a technology enthusiast in the 1990s may have foreseen the rise of the internet, but had no way to directly take a stake in the technology. The idea of applying cryptography to the storage and transmission of data is still very new. And the fact that anyone can directly buy the currency that powers these cryptographically secured blockchains is much like the public actually getting a chance to invest in the internet during its infancy.

Impossible to value?

There is one rational explanation that, if true, would totally justify this rapid increase in price across some of the major cryptocurrencies. And that is, maybe these currencies are actually worth these high prices, and maybe even worth many times more than that at which they are currently trading. But the problem is we have no way to figure out their value. Cryptocurrencies aren’t public companies with earnings and expenses and EPS. For example, we can look at Apple’s financials and determine its book value — what the company’s assets would be worth if hypothetically liquidated today. Of course, stocks trade at a premium to this, because people are enthusiastic that Apple will continue to perform well and this book value will continue to rise.

But we can’t do this with cryptocurrencies. We could guess — and compare it to things like the total money or gold supply in the U.S. For example, if you’re someone who thinks of cryptocurrencies as a store of value, the total estimated value of all gold in the world is more than $8 trillion dollars… meaning if bitcoin would ever replace or supplant gold, its current value is pennies on the dollar. If you’re someone who thinks of cryptocurrencies as a genuine currency, you could compare the market cap to M2, which is the total money supply in the U.S. — cash and checking accounts, as well as “near-money” accounts like savings, mutual funds and money-market securities. The total value of M2 is about $13.5 trillion, also meaning cryptocurrencies are just a small fraction of that.

Be an informed “investor”

I’ve long cautioned readers (and friends) from buying cryptocurrencies because they have seen it rise and just want to make a quick buck. The past two months have led to a tremendous surge in public interest, with mainstream news like CNBC and CNN explaining how to “invest” in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Buy cryptocurrency to learn about it and transact with it. Or buy it because you are betting that this new technology will change the world by:

  • Supplanting gold as the main store of value in the world
  • Transforming inter-bank settlements
  • Making international remittance affordable
  • Revolutionizing the fundraising and IPO process

These are just a few options, and if you’re in tune with the cryptocurrency world, you’ll know the opportunities are endless. So if you’re going to buy cryptocurrency, do it because you see the long-term vision (and sure, ostensibly the financial gains that may come from them), not because you think it will blindly appreciate and give you a good return on your “investment.”

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Why Buy This Expensive Bitcoin ETF Instead of Actual Bitcoin?

    

If you're interested in getting invested in the digital currency world,

now seems to be as good a time as ever. Bitcoin has seen repeated record-setting price levels, and a host of other digital currencies are becoming increasingly popular around the globe. And yet, there are some reasons why even seasoned investors may be reluctant to get involved in direct investments relating to cryptocurrencies. Fortunately for those people, there is an exchange-traded fund focusing on Bitcoin in particular that can simplify the process. It is called the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) and it is provided by Grayscale Investments. Here are some of the basic details about the new ETF and its relationship to the digital currency itself.

Significant Returns Possible, But Are They Likely?

The Bitcoin Investment Trust sported a tremendous 248% increase in the month of May. This far surpasses the gains of 72% overall for the Bitcoin-U.S. dollar currency cross. With that figure in mind, investors may be jumping to get access to GBTC shares. However, there are other factors to consider as well. First, May's performance seems to be a relative anomaly for the ETF. For the three months prior to May, Bitcoin performance superseded ETF performance two months. This suggests that the two are actually more neck-and-neck than May's figure would suggest. Second, investors looking to buy into GBTC should keep in mind that the shares of the ETF are currently trading at more than double the cost of Bitcoin itself, according to a report by Business Insider.

Why the Huge Premium for GBTC?

Potential investors are likely wondering why GBTC shares can be found at such a high premium over Bitcoin. The issue seems to lie in supply and demand. While Bitcoin demand has skyrocketed, GBTC has kept its shares outstanding close to 1.7 million in the two years that it has existed. In fact, the ETF seems unlikely to change the number of total outstanding shares in the future, according to the company's head of research, Ihor Dusaniwsky. He explains that "with the operational risk of buying and holding actual Bitcoins to support ETF creation very high, and difficult and expensive to insure, it is unlikely that GBTC's outstanding share amount will climb above 1.7 million anytime soon."

It is useful to note that GBTC didn't always seem this expensive in comparison with Bitcoin. Before Bitcoin's price spiked in the past several weeks, the ETF traded on an average premium of just 10% above the cryptocurrency in 2017. The issue seems to have come about when Bitcoin's demand blew up and GBTC's supply did not change. As Bitcoin continues to spread further into the financial world, it will be interesting to see where GBTC's share prices go as well.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How to Buy Bitcoin

How to Buy Bitcoin

When it comes to some exotic investments like bitcoins, investors not only need to consider the worthiness of the investment, but how to even buy the digital currency in the first place.

 

Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency with no intermediaries or banks necessary

to conduct transactions. It was designed as open-source software in 2009 by an individual or group known only as Satoshi Nakamoto with the intention to minimize transaction costs and deregulate currency. The cost of a bitcoin has skyrocketed this year. When the calendar rolled over to 2017, a price of one bitcoin was just a shade under $1,000. As I write, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled to slightly more than $2,500.

This huge increase in price has led some investors to not only some to wonder if they should invest in bitcoin, but even how to invest in bitcoin in the first place. After all, it's not like they can purchase a bitcoin at their brokerage or bank. Heck, one can't even buy a bitcoin at Amazon.com, and Amazon sells everything! With this question in mind, let's look at some different ways investors can buy bitcoins or otherwise gain exposure to this unique asset class. (If you're still a little confused about what exactly a bitcoin is, here is an excellent primer on the unregulated virtual currency by fellow Fool Matthew Frankel).

What's in your (bitcoin) wallet?

The most popular way to buy bitcoins is through bitcoin wallets, digital wallets for the exclusive use of bitcoins. There are many different types of bitcoin-based wallets and you need to be very careful to choose something that will best meet your needs. Some bitcoin wallets are device-specific, while others are web-based.

Coinbase is one of the most popular digital wallets used to purchase bitcoins. As with almost any of these wallets, customers must sign up for an account online and then link a bank account. If they just want to buy, a valid credit card number will do. Coinbase accepts Mastercard and Visa. Before any bitcoin transaction, Coinbase shows users the current value of the digital currency in U.S. dollars. When making a withdrawal from a Coinbase account, account holders can choose to have the funds go to either a linked bank or PayPal account.

Since third-party cryptocurrency wallets have been famously known to be hacked resulting in a permanent loss of funds, investors must be careful to properly secure their bitcoin wallets. Remember, bitcoins are not stored in FDIC-insured accounts and most third parties do not offer insurance in case of theft or fraud. How bad is this problem? Last August, Reuters reported that a full third of bitcoin exchanges had been breached.

Security is vitally important in keeping bitcoin accounts safe. Back-ups are critical in cases of computer crashes or stolen wallets. Wallets must be encrypted so anyone withdrawing bitcoins from your account must know a password. Many wallets offer two-factor authentication, where a unique code is texted or emailed to you before withdrawals can be made. Bitcoin passwords are also critical as, unlike bank accounts, there is no customer service line to reset your password. Bitcoin.org recommends either memorizing the password or writing it down and storing it in a safe place.

Alternative ways to purchase bitcoins

There are other ways to purchase bitcoins; some more exotic than others. Bitcoin Depot, in conjunction with the bitcoin wallet Airbitz, allows users to buy bitcoins with cash at dozens of special ATM locations spread across six states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Texas. After setting up an account, all customers need to do is deposit cash in the ATM and scan a QR code with a special scanner attached to the ATM and, within minutes, the purchased bitcoins will be available in the Airbitz account.

The bitcoin-based ETF

The most convenient way to gain exposure to bitcoins is through the Bitcoin Investment Trust (NASDAQOTH:GBTC). This fund was created so that buying bitcoins could be as easy as buying any stock or ETF share. All people have to do is buy shares through their regular broker using the ticker symbol. Each share represents about one-tenth of a bitcoin. But, as fellow Fool Jordan Wathen recently pointed out, this convenience comes at a steep cost. According to his calculations, a share costs about 105% more than the value of the underlying bitcoin. Yikes! As with any security, one should do their due diligence before buying bitcoins. Not only on its worthiness as an investment, but on the right exchange platform that best meets your security and convenience needs.

Mark Cuban predicts this will make someone a trillion dollars

Shark Tank's Mark Cuban recently predicted that an emerging tech trend would make someone $1 trillion. That lucky future trillionaire is just the beginning — and the trend itself could be worth as much as $19.9 trillion. Fortunately, this hasn’t yet gone mainstream — most people haven’t recognized the scale of opportunity here. We believe that one market expert has the right answer for investors looking to get in early — and potentially win big.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

AMD shares are surging with bitcoin because digital currency ‘miners’ need its graphics cards

AMD shares are surging with bitcoin because digital currency 'miners' need its graphics cards

  • AMD told CNBC on Monday the "newly resurgent cryptocurrency mining markets" are driving demand for its graphics cards.
  • Computer hardware retailers are sold out of most AMD RX 570 and RX 580 graphics card models, according to NowInStock.

    

AMD shares rose as much as 7 percent

Tuesday after the company revealed the dramatic jump in digital currency prices is driving demand for its graphics cards. The stock was the top performer in the S&P 500 on the day. "The gaming market remains our priority. We are seeing solid demand for our Polaris-based offerings in the gaming and newly resurgent cryptocurrency mining markets based on the strong performance we are delivering," an AMD spokesperson wrote in an email to CNBC late Monday.

Ethereum cryptocurrency is up over 2,900 percent year-to-date through Tuesday morning, while bitcoin is up nearly 200 percent this year, according to data from industry website CoinDesk. The digital currency jumped more than 8 percent at one point Tuesday to a record nearing $3,000. AMD is one of the market's best performing stocks in the past year with its shares up nearly 170 percent in the past 12 months through Tuesday morning compared with the S&P 500's 15 percent return.

Cryptocurrency miners use graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia to "mine" new coins, which can then be sold or held for future appreciation. AMD traditionally has a better reputation for mining cryptocurrencies. Computer hardware retailers are sold out of most AMD RX 570 and RX 580 graphics card models, according to NowInStock. AMD launched the RX 500 series of graphics cards on April 18. The strong demand is spreading to older graphics cards as well. Used AMD RX 470 graphics cards are selling for well over $100 list price on eBay.

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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member