Best Database Software

POSTED BY January 11, 2022

Database software delivers a simple means for sharing, analyzing, and accessing data for multiple use cases. 

With the right database software, a business can customize the database to meet its needs. Database tools can store all of the company’s data and give employees access to it, eliminating the need for multiple copies that lead to inconsistencies and errors.

The Top 6 Best Database Software Tools

  1. Knack – Easiest Database Software to Use
  2. Oracle Database – Best Database Software for Variable Use Cases
  3. Microsoft Azure SQL – Best Pay-As-You-Go Database Software
  4. IBM Informix – Best Database Software for Scalability
  5. TeamDesk – Best Customizable Database Software for Beginners
  6. TablePlus – Best Built-in Security for Database Software 

#1 – Knack – Easiest Database Software to Use

  • No programming skills needed
  • Easy to customize
  • Dozens of templates available
  • Fully cloud-based software

Try for 14 days free

Those businesses that want an easy-to-use database software tool will appreciate the features found in Knack. You or your database administrator does not have to write any code to make use of Knack. Instead, Knack offers a database-building tool that guides you through the process step by step.

With Knack, you can choose to make use of templates to further simplify the database building process. This works especially well for databases that have complex storage requirements. These templates simplify creating databases for processes like managing customer information, tracking purchase orders, and updating the company website.

Knack has a dashboard that includes multiple charts and graphs to help users visualize the data or to speed up searches.

Even with its simple design, Knack users don’t have to sacrifice security. Administrators easily can create user permissions, which will play a big role in guarding the safety of the data.

Count on receiving multiple integration options with Knack, as it can share data with commonly used apps. It even offers integrations with payment providers, allowing your business to take orders while incorporating the ordering information in the database.

Knack is available in multiple pricing tiers, so almost any size of business can find a tier that fits the budget. The Corporate tier starts at $179 per month for 125,000 records. Custom and enterprise tiers are available for larger database needs too. Knack has a 14-day free trial period available.

#2 – Oracle Database – Best Database Software for Variable Use Cases

  • Powerful database software
  • Offers multiple versions
  • Widely trusted brand name
  • Fully automated package available

Try for free

For a business that is unsure exactly what it needs in database software or that plans to grow significantly in the near future, Oracle Database fits a wide range of use cases. Oracle Database has a high level of versatility, which explains its popularity among all sizes of businesses in multiple industries.

Among database software providers, Oracle is the biggest brand worldwide. Its original database product dates back more than four decades. 

Oracle has more than a dozen different database software offerings. It has solutions for:

  • On-premises installations
  • Cloud deployment
  • Multiple data types
  • Transaction processing
  • Data warehousing

Oracle Database offers full manual control over the coding and building of your database. On the other end of the spectrum, Oracle also offers a fully automated database software package that handles data backups, software patches, and all upgrades.

Businesses that have enterprise-level needs for their database software will appreciate the high-end features in Oracle Database. It delivers excellent security measures along with the ability to run complex data queries. Depending on the selected tier, Oracle can be a little tougher to learn to use than some other options.

Oracle Database is available for a free trial period, and it has a free version among its multiple pricing tiers. You can contact Oracle for specific pricing quotes.

#3 – Microsoft Azure SQL – Best Pay-As-You-Go Database Software

  • Multiple pricing options
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Strong backward compatibility
  • Handles complex queries easily

Try for free

Some businesses hesitate to purchase new software because they feel like they never seem to use the subscription to the fullest. One of the best reasons to select Microsoft Azure SQL is the ability to only pay for the features you actually use.

When you sign up to use Azure SQL, you will receive credits toward the database software. Then you can use those credits to access different features in the software, ensuring you pay only what you need to pay.

Microsoft Azure SQL has an interface similar to other Microsoft products, which should help customers become familiar with using it relatively quickly. 

Microsoft included a machine learning component with its database software, which automates many aspects of managing the software. This is a cloud-based software package, which further simplifies installation and maintenance for businesses. 

Even with options made for simplicity of operation, it still offers plenty of versatility for businesses that need a powerful database software option. It can handle a wide range of complex database queries. 

Those who own older databases built on SQL should be able to import them into Microsoft Azure SQL, as this software has backward compatibility built into it. 

You can try Azure SQL for free. For those with extremely basic needs in their database software packages, they may be able to use Azure SQL for free forever. The pay-as-you-go pricing model can be a little difficult to understand, but you can contact Microsoft for more information.

#4 – IBM Informix – Best Database Software for Scalability

  • Scales for all data types
  • Handles transaction processing
  • Specific features made for IoT
  • Delivers high-end features

Try for free

Businesses that may be unsure how their databases will expand over time need a scalable option. IBM Informix will give you the database processing power you need now and well into the future.

Thanks to the scalability of Informix, businesses like yours can successfully manage almost any kind of data. As you scale, Informix is powerful enough to continue offering real-time analysis of data, so your business doesn’t lose any functionality. You’ll continue receiving the insight they need for making informed decisions in a timely manner.

With Informix, you will be able to harness its online transactional processing (OLTP) feature. OLTP from IBM allows execution of large numbers of financial transactions in the database in real time.

In addition to giving business customers the processing power they need, Informix works equally well for educational institutions.

Because of its scalability, Informix will serve smaller organizations that expect to grow in the future. However, it’s easier for larger businesses to be able to take advantage of the power of this database software. Setting up and using Informix to its fullest will require some programming know-how and expertise with database software. 

Informix includes features made especially for businesses involved in managing, analyzing, and storing data from the Internet of things (IoT). 

IBM Informix has multiple pricing tiers available, including a free tier. You can contact IBM to receive a custom pricing quote. 

#5 – TeamDesk – Best Customizable Database Software for Beginners

  • No programming skills needed
  • Easy to customize
  • Dozens of templates available
  • Fully cloud-based software

Try for 14 days free

Businesses that need to customize their databases, but that don’t want the added expense of hiring new programmers, will appreciate the features in TeamDesk. Additionally, smaller organizations that don’t have the budget to maintain an IT department can save money with TeamDesk. 

This database software is easier to use than many of the others on our list, especially when it comes to building a custom database. You will not need to know coding to take advantage of this feature in TeamDesk.

It includes multiple templates in the software, which saves time when building databases. You can access a template to develop a specific type of database devoted to invoicing or supply chain management, for example. Customizing any of these templates is an easy process, allowing your business to be up and running in very little time.

For businesses where employees need to access the database software on mobile devices, TeamDesk’s interface works perfectly for smartphones and tablets. It will run on almost any computing or mobile operating system.

With TeamDesk, you can select among three pricing tiers, each of which includes a 14-day free trial period. The Enterprise Edition tier starts at $249 per month for up to 10 users and an unlimited number of databases included. You can pay more to add extra users to this tier. 

This is a cloud-based database software tool only, so you don’t need to invest in extra hardware to operate it, further saving money. 

#6 – TablePlus – Best Built-in Security for Database Software 

  • Excellent security features
  • Setup process is easy
  • Relational database compatibility
  • Simple graphical interface

Try it free

Database software often contains some of the business’ most valuable data. For businesses with extremely sensitive data in their databases, having highly effective security features built into the software provides an important extra layer of protection.

With TablePlus, you will be able to make use of multiple built-in security features, including TLS encryption, native libssh, and multi-step authentication.

Even with a significant number of security features built into TablePlus, you will be up and running with this database software in very little time.

It is easy to safely and securely manage the data stored in the database, thanks to TablePlus’ graphical interface. Those familiar with using spreadsheets will especially appreciate this interface.

If your business needs its database software to manage multiple types of relational databases, TablePlus supports numerous models, including:

  • Amazon Redshift
  • MariaDB
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • MongoDB
  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • Redis
  • SQLite
  • SQL Server
  • Vertica

For businesses looking for database software that runs on-premises on Macintosh computers primarily, TablePlus has one of the best interfaces for the Mac.

TablePlus offers a free trial period for new customers. Multiple pricing options are available, although those businesses that need three or more seat licenses will need to select the Custom pricing tier. After purchase, TablePlus even offers a seven-day no-questions-asked cancellation policy.

How to Find the Best Database Software for You

Database software can deliver a number of benefits for the business. It helps users analyze data records while making it easier to find the exact records they need.

Database software is available in a variety of configurations. Some businesses may need a simple solution that runs after a quick installation. Others need highly customizable software to deliver certain results in an effective manner. We’ve broken down the key criteria to consider when comparing the best database software packages.

Type of Database Software

Businesses typically can select among three types of database software.

  • Local or Desktop: A very small business might be able to install database software on a single laptop or desktop computer. This software has a low cost, but it’s not practical for businesses with large collections of data.
  • Network Server or On-Premises: Installing the database software on an on-prem network server is a traditional option for businesses where multiple users will be accessing the records. The expense can be significant with this type of installation, and maintenance can be a challenge without a large IT department.
  • Cloud: Cloud-based database software allows users to access records from anywhere on almost any device. Through subscriptions, businesses receive automatic updates to the software and an easily calculated cost per month. However, some businesses don’t like the idea of having data records moved offsite to the cloud.

Considerations for Using the Database

Businesses that have highly complex needs for their database records may need to opt for network database software. Software installed on the network will deliver the highest level of power and customization.

Those seeking the ability to access database records from a wide range of devices and locations will prefer a cloud option. 

If you want to use the database software as part of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, cloud-based software often is a better choice. It simplifies the use of the two software systems together.

Businesses that want to use the data in the database with other tools, such as social media platforms, will want software that can make use of integrations. These integrations simplify sharing data among different software packages.

Security

Security measures built into the database software will help to protect this important data. Any business should already be making use of systems and processes that protect all kinds of data. But having built-in security options through the database software will yield another layer of protection.

Some database software tools may automatically encrypt the data for the business, providing a high level of security. Some may even constantly monitor the performance of the database, looking for vulnerabilities and signs of a potential data breach.

As another aspect of security, some database software tools include setting up permissions for data access through access control features. These allow administrators to assign data access permissions to different classes of employees. This simplifies the process of preventing unwanted access to data.

Maintenance

Maintaining the database software can be a significant challenge for businesses that install the software on-premises. Administrators must know how to install patches and understand how to build relationships for queries. 

Some database software requires the administrators to program the software to allow for customization. It can be challenging to put in the time to keep the on-prem software maintained and running without dedicated personnel on hand.

Cloud-based software automatically downloads patches and updates. Some cloud-based database software packages do require users to understand programming, but not all of them. 

Analytics Tools

Businesses will want to have multiple options for analyzing the data stored in the database software. Some software tools will have data analytics built into them, while others will rely on third-party add-on software to analyze data.

The Top Database Software in Summary

With businesses generating more data than ever before from every touchpoint with customers and clients, they need the ability to analyze that data efficiently. Database software provides this capability, as it yields results that can help any business have a better chance at success.

Knack and Oracle Database are our top two recommendations for database software. But any of the tools reviewed in this guide are viable options to consider.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Website Migration

Do you want to migrate your website but are worried about impacting its performance and tanking its rankings?

Website migrations can be useful, but they are never without risk. That’s why it’s important to follow a proven process.

Below, I’ll explain what a website migration entails, draw up a checklist you can use when migrating your website, and explain each step of the process in detail.

If you’re planning to migrate your website, this should be the only guide you need to read.

When you’re ready, let’s get migrating.

What Is a Website Migration?

A website migration is a change to your website that’s so significant it impacts the site’s structure, performance, or traffic.

The most common form of website migration is moving from one domain to another. But transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS and changing your URL structure are also types of migration.

In some events, website migration is necessary for your business and certainly has many benefits, but you need to be careful. You could crash your site, cut your traffic in half, or change your site’s usability so much that revenue falls off a cliff.

Those risks may sound scary, but all of them can be overcome by following a tried and tested site migration strategy—just like the one I will cover below.

Still, you shouldn’t ignore the danger entirely.

Migration has the possibility to derail your site’s performance, traffic, and other metrics, so you need to treat it as a major project and assign the resources (and budget) it deserves.

Website Migration Checklist

Because website migrations can be so complex and challenging, it helps to have a checklist to follow. Use this checklist as a guide when migrating your website, and tick off each step as you go.

  • Define why you want to migrate your website.
  • Establish measurable objectives and goals.
  • Set a budget and timeline for your migration.
  • Start assembling your team.
  • Draw up a marketing plan to promote your new site before launch.
  • Put a content freeze in place.
  • Crawl your existing site, and create a repository of all your pages.
  • Create a 301 redirect plan that maps your existing content to your new site as accurately as possible.
  • Run tests in a closed environment to check that redirects work and pages load as expected.
  • Work out how you will track the success of your migration.
  • Execute the migration.
  • Track the impact of your migration for a year and make improvements as required.

Now you know what to expect, let’s cover each step in more detail below.

How to Do a Website Migration

Below, I’ll cover all of the checklist steps in more detail. I recommend reading through the advice before getting started with your website migration.

1. Define the Goals of the Website Migration

Start your process by defining why you are migrating your site and what it will look like. Do you need to transfer the entire site to a new domain name, or will it only affect a portion of your current site?

There are many reasons for a website migration, including:

  • moving from HTTP to HTTPS
  • reaching a wider audience with a better domain
  • taking your site international
  • increasing search traffic
  • improving your site’s design

By defining your reasons for a site migration, you can draw up a set of sensible objectives and goals.

For instance, if you’re moving your site to HTTPS, an objective may be to retain traffic levels. On the other hand, you may want to grow traffic if you’re moving to a .com domain for the international reach.

It will also help you to plan better going forward. As John Mueller says, everyone’s heard a migration horror story. You don’t want to create a new one.

The best solution is to be as diligent and prepared as possible.

John Mueller Twitter Website Migration

Speak to as many people inside and outside your business as you can. IT experts, SEOs, designers, analytics teams; they’ll all have invaluable opinions and advice on how to get it right—but also explain what can go wrong.

2. Set Website Migration Budgets, Timelines, and Teams

Now you know what you’re trying to achieve and why, it’s time to create a website migration plan that includes:

  • a sensible budget
  • a timeline
  • the teams and their responsibilities

Having a clearly defined strategy is crucial. Your website migration won’t happen in a day. It’s a complex process with several moving parts and requires great communication between different team members to achieve success.

Your timeline will be easy to create once you’ve read this entire article. Just break down all of the steps in this list into deliverables, assign them to relevant teams and set realistic deadlines. Draw this up in a project management tool like Wrike, Trello or Asana so that everyone can communicate and collaborate in one space.

Successful Website Migration with Trello

A cross-department team will have the best chance of success. System admins, developers, SEOs, designers, UX developers, copywriters, and more will all have a part to play in a successful migration, so make sure everyone has a seat at the table.

Finally, when creating a timeline, know that there will almost certainly be a period of downtime due to your migration. That’s why it’s best to schedule migrations during periods of low traffic (such as late at night) to limit the number of visitors affected.

Assuming you have the right skills in-house, a website migration shouldn’t require a huge amount of budget. There are several tools I’ll cover below that can streamline the process, but they aren’t that expensive.

Nevertheless, it’s best to fence off a contingency budget if the worst happens and your migration runs into problems that only an expert consultant can solve.

3. Promote Your New Website Before the Website Migration

One of the hardest parts of a site migration is getting everyone to understand your site has moved. A 301 redirect will make sure outdated links aren’t a complete waste, but they will lose impact and confuse customers if they remain outdated for long.

It’s relatively simple to tell Google that you’ve changed URLs, but it’s a lot harder to get the message across to your customers. That’s why the best migrations include a pre-migration promotional campaign that teases the new URL to customers and gets everyone on board with the move before it happens.

There are several ways you can do this. Start by creating a coming soon page on the new URL while working on the background migration. Promote the new URL using email and social media to customers and the press. The more buzz you build before launch, the smoother the migration will be.

Take care not to lose out when people still search for your old URL or brand name, either. Create a page on the new site that will rank for your old brand name and explain the move. Set up PPC ads on Google to rank for queries related to your old name or URL. Paid campaigns targeting your new brand name can also limit the fall in traffic that may occur directly after the migration.

4. Pull All Website URLs From Tools for the Website Migration

The vast majority of migrations will involve changing URLs. If this isn’t the case for you, you can skip this and the following step. If not, roll up your sleeves because this is where things get serious.

It starts with creating a content map.

Before you can go ahead and migrate your site, you need a complete picture of all your content. This will allow you to see which URLs need to be directed, which don’t and where’s best to point them. Creating a content map will also highlight existing errors like bad redirects, 5xx errors, and pagination issues that you can fix before migrating.

There are a couple of tools you can use to pull all of your existing URLs and create a content map, but Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider is probably the best choice. It will extract all of the URLs on your website, find broken links, errors, and redirects. It’s free to use if your site has less than 500 pages. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay £149.

Successful Website Migration with Screaming Frog

Of course, don’t add new pages to your site while you’re creating your content map. Freeze content on your site at least a month before getting started with your migration.

5. Create a 301 Redirect Map for Your Website Migration Starting With the Most Valuable Pages

Once you’ve got a list of every URL, export the CSV file into a spreadsheet. Next, go through each URL one by one and note which need to be redirected and which don’t.

While you should endeavor to account for every single page, this simply won’t be possible on very large sites. That’s why you need to prioritize your efforts and focus on the pages that matter most.

Which pages are they? Typically these will be pages that drive the most traffic or generate the most revenue.

You’ll want to redirect a legacy URL to the most relevant new page possible.

Avoid redirecting a legacy URL to your new homepage at all costs. Firstly, this will lead to a poor user experience. Second, Google has said that mass redirecting pages will result in soft 404 errors. If a relevant page doesn’t exist, consider creating a new page or removing the legacy URL altogether.

Make sure you confirm the URL structure of your new site before you do anything else—then consider making changes to optimize your site’s SEO. The last thing you want is to spend time mapping out content for URLs that get updated when the site goes live.

6. Do a Test (in a Closed Environment) of Your Website Migration

You wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it for a test drive, would you? Migrating your website should be no different. A thorough test in a closed environment can help you identify errors or issues that, if unaddressed, cause havoc with your site’s UX or traffic when the full migration goes live.

You’ll want to test the migration in a closed environment for several reasons. First, any changes you make won’t impact your live site. Second, keeping the old site live allows customers to still use it and gives you a reference point for your changes. Third, if something goes really wrong, you can always do away with the closed environment and start again.

What kind of migration you are making will determine when you can start testing. If you’re launching a new design, for instance, you can begin testing it as soon as it’s developed. In general, the earlier you start testing, the better.

The earlier issues get noticed, the more time you’ll have to address them. Some errors you may be able to live with. Others could ruin your site’s future (and get you penalized on Google).

There are several things you should be checking in the test. These include:

  • site architecture
  • usability
  • mobile responsiveness
  • metadata
  • internal linking
  • search functionality and other site features

Remember, this is a team effort.

Don’t give one person sole responsibility for testing the migration. It’s easy for one person to miss a typo or an error, especially when they’re operating outside of their expertise. It’s a lot harder for a multi-disciplinary team to miss things.

7. Set Up a Process to Track Your Website Migration

As I mentioned at the start of this guide, you’re going to want to track certain metrics to see how successful your migration is. To do so, set up tracking before you execute the migration.

You probably already use an analytics tool like Google Analytics to track your site’s performance but if you don’t, install it now. Next, track the performance of your site’s traffic levels and top pages for at least a couple of weeks. This will provide a set of performance and traffic benchmarks that you can use to judge the impact of the migration going forward.

You’ll also want to use a tool like Ubersuggest to track your site’s rankings and monitor changes over time.

Ubersuggest for website migration

8. Execute the Website Migration

If you’ve followed all of the steps above, it’s now time to complete your website migration. It’s probably taken weeks, even months, to get to this stage, but all that work will be worth it if you complete a successful migration.

Regardless of how long it took to get here, speed is now essential. The trick is to execute as quickly as possible. You’ll need to take your site offline to migrate, so it’s important to avoid extensive downtime. The longer you leave your site offline, the more chance your rankings will be affected.

Once you’ve completed the migration, double check your robots.txt file is no longer blocking search engines, test out several redirects (especially those of your most valuable pages), and upload your new XML sitemap to Google Search Console.

9. Track Your Website Migration and Make Improvements as Needed

If you thought executing the migration was the final step of the process, I’m sorry to disappoint you. The last thing you need to do is track your migration’s success and improve where needed.

Keep track of the metrics you outlined at the start of the process and benchmark beforehand over the course of the following weeks and months. Are they in line with your expectations? If so, great. If not, you’ll need to find what’s wrong.

It’s normal to see a change (and quite possibly a decrease) in traffic and rankings following a migration, but a significant and long-term drop can signify bigger issues, usually because of bad redirection practices.

You’ll also want to track the traffic levels and rankings of the legacy site. These should gradually drop to zero over the year. If not, double-check to see if the pages still receiving traffic are being redirected.

If everything meets your expectations after a year, you can stop worrying about tracking everything and get on with enjoying your new site.

Frequently Asked Questions About Website Migrations

How long does a website migration take?

It can take less than an hour to execute a migration but months to plan the entire move, depending on the size and complexity of your website.

How much does a website migration cost?

A website migration for a small site shouldn’t blow your budget. It shouldn’t cost more than $500 to migrate your website. However, larger or more complex sites (like enterprise or ecommerce sites with many pages) can cost much more.

If you rebrand or redesign your site at the same time, those costs are in addition to the migration.

How do I prepare for a website migration?

There are several things you can do to prepare for a migration. Create a timeline and a migration team, assign a budget, and create a content map of your entire site.

What software do you need for website migrations?

You will need a website crawler, an analytics tool, and a keyword rankings tracker to migrate your website.

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Conclusion: Website Migrations

A website migration may seem daunting, but you shouldn’t be scared to make the move.

Read up on the best approach to take when redesigning your website and follow my step-by-step guide to migrate your website properly. This should give you everything you need to avoid any major drops in traffic or rankings.

Why are you migrating your website? Let me know in the comments below.

“One of the biggest challenges marketers have today is getting people into the hopper, getting them to convert and stick around as lifetime customers,” said Gene De Libero, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Consulting for marketing technology consultancy GeekHive, at our recent MarTech conference.

There are several factors that can affect a brand’s ability to attract, convert and keep customers, but virtually all stem from one issue: disconnection. If marketers can’t connect properly with customers due to technology, data or experiential issues, their return on investment will inevitably decrease.

diagram showing how attracting, converting and retaining customers requires connected marketing campaigns
Source: Gene De Libero

“There are some disconnects that are preventing us from getting to where we have lots of people converting and sticking around as longtime customers,” De Libero said.

Disconnects in your marketing campaigns should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent more serious issues down the road.

Disconnected customer experiences

Most marketers know customer experience is important, but many fail to understand what their customers want or how to address the issues. De Libero highlighted this disconnect with customers by sharing a Forbes study, which found that there was roughly an 80% revenue increase for businesses focused on improving customer experience.

“There’s a bit of a disconnect because there’s a customer desire that’s not being met,” said De Libero. “When we look at the stats, on average the gap between what the customer expects from the brand and what they get was about 38%. That’s a gaping void.”

He added, “Once these things have happened, it’s already too late. So, why wouldn’t we start with ensuring that the customer experience our customers have is as remarkable as it can be?”

Disconnected customer data and analytics

“While 80% of those marketers are thrilled about collecting first-party data,” De Libero said, “Only a tiny percentage of them are using data to deliver that full cross-channel experience for their customers.”

chart showing percentage of project using marketing analytics before making a decision
Source: Statista and Gene De Libero

Addressing disconnected customer experience requires data gathering. While it’s not as easy to gather non-first-party data as it once was due to much-needed privacy legislation, marketers have a variety of tools and tactics at their disposal to help them adapt.

Unfortunately, far too few marketers are using these resources, which seems to originate from quality issues and disconnects in the data collection process itself.

“If you look at the share of projects that are using marketing analytics before they make a decision, you can see that there’s been a decline in utilization of marketing analytics to drive decision-making,” De Libero said. “It’s because there’s poor data quality.”

Disconnected artificial intelligence and machine learning

There’s been an explosion in the marketing space for artificial intelligence and machine learning over the past few years, which is mainly due to marketers’ increasing desire for automation. But far too few brands are using these technologies.

“84% of digital marketing leaders think that artificial intelligence is going to enhance their ability to deliver real-time personalized experiences to their customers,” De Libero said. “But only 17% use artificial intelligence and machine learning across the marketing function.”

These technologies can help your marketing efforts by improving customer segmentation, automating time-consuming tasks, campaign personalization and more. Leaving them out of the process could hamper customer growth, especially for enterprise-level brands.

How to address marketing disconnects

“The only way to drive revenue, acquisition, conversion and retention is through remarkable customer experiences,” said De Libero. “The customer experience is paramount — it’s the most important thing.”

He added, “The voice of the customer is going to help you drive that experience.”

Diagram of a unified marketing strategy
Diagram of a unified marketing strategy. Source: Gene De Libero

However, tackling these disconnects goes beyond customer experience — although that is the top priority. Marketers must also unify each aspect of their campaigns to serve as foundations for those experiences.

“If you can take those strategies — customer experience, content, data and marketing technology — you can unify them and have a solid digital strategy that you can stand on,” De Libero said.

“It’s the basis for digital transformation, the basis for marketing transformation and so much more,” he added.

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

The post How to manage customer experience disconnects in your marketing campaigns appeared first on MarTech.

Three of the Biggest Opportunities to Elevate B2B Marketing in 2022

Three of the Biggest Opportunities to Elevate B2B Marketing in 2022

Even if 2020 and 2021 didn’t throw buckets of uncertainty, accelerated digital transformation and massively shifting buyer behaviors and expectations on marketers in the business to business world, B2B marketing is not without challenges.

From “boring to boring” to woefully behind B2C, there’s more than enough opportunity for us in the B2B marketing world to raise the bar.

For example, 90% of B2B companies feel their customers completely believe in and rely upon their commitments, but in the professional services industry only 67% believe that. It’s even lower in the financial services industry at 57%. Forrester

I think you’ll agree that what we have in 2022 is a distinct opportunity to elevate B2B marketing, especially by connecting with customers on a more human level authentically and inclusively.

Each year at TopRank Marketing our B2B content marketing agency focuses on a specific theme. In 2022 I’m sure you’ve guessed it: Elevate.

Making a dent in the way an entire industry does what it does is an ambitious goal to say the least. But as Steve Jobs has said,

The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs

For our part, we’re committed in 2022 to advancing the meaningfulness, the purpose and impact of B2B marketing in three ways:

Elevate B2B Marketing Experiences

B2B marketers are creating more digital content than ever with expectations of performance in the spotlight of every executive pulling the tigger on rising digital budgets. But what good is that “great content” if it isn’t meeting the expectations of buyers? I mean, there’s a lot of thought going into creating highly relevant, useful content but expectations have changed. What B2B marketers are delivering from a marketing experience standpoint isn’t meeting the needs of today’s digital first buyer.

75% of personalized engagement strategies will not meet ROI goals – Forrester

Customer engagement is a big part of the marketing experience brands create for customers. As referenced in the Forrester article. 70% of marketers are adopting an always-on digital engagement strategy in 2022 and lack of buyer insight is a key reason why those engagement and experience efforts will fall short. Part of the solution is a smarter marketing technology, but also soft skills like empathy and the follow through of customer insight in the form of relevant topics, questions answered in content, digital content formats and signals of credibility. Our research on B2B influencer marketing found that 74% of marketers believe influencer marketing improves customer experience.

With the vast majority of B2B buyers now digital first in their preferences for content discovery, consumption and engagement, we’re leveraging customer insight to better inform content formats with episodic content for B2B brands as podcasts and livestream video shows as well as blog, social, interactive and thought leadership content that pairs brand executives with industry experts. Of course optimizing all of this content for search also improves the experience for customers by helping B2B brands become the best answer for the questions buyers are asking at the very moment they need solutions.

Humanize B2B with Authenticity

What good is your content marketing investment if it’s not believable? If it’s not trusted? Or what about if it’s not reaching, engaging and driving conversations? We’ve all heard plenty about how customers don’t trust brands or company advertising while they do trust peers and industry experts. Set aside for a moment, the misperception that popularity alone makes a person or a brand believable. Instead, we’re focused on bringing authenticity to the B2B content marketing world through brand, demand and thought leadership content co-creation and collaboration with influential subject matter experts and opinion leaders that customers actually follow, listen to and trust.

64% of buyers say that an organization’s thought leadership content is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competency than its marketing materials and product sheets – LinkedIn & Edelman

The deluge of content being produced in response to digital first buyer trends has increased the need for B2B brands to optimize their content for reach, engagement and trust. Our own research has found that 83% of B2B marketers consider influencer marketing because they want to be seen as thought leaders. Content collaborations between industry experts and internal subject matter experts and executives helps to humanize B2B brands by focusing on the real issues customers are dealing with.

Humanizing B2B in this way means authentic topics and voices that represent both strategic level thought leadership as well as thoughtful treatment of topics, challenges and issues buyers are facing vs. simply what marketing and sales want to push out into the marketplace.

Give Voice to Talent

Without question the status quo of the B2B marketing industry is holding on as long as it can to the comfortable and familiar ways of doing things.  But doing the same things with the same people isn’t going to elevate anything in B2B, so we’re committed to empowering up and coming and underrepresented talent a place in the spotlight.

Nearly 50% of CMOs are women but only 12% are racially or ethnically diverse – SpencerStuart

What that means specifically is an emphasis on engaging the most talented and often overlooked B2B Marketers in a variety of ways on our blog, in our social content, in presentations at events and as we select influencers to work with our agency and our clients. We know many others feel the same way and that’s why B2B marketers are in a unique position to make choices about how they represent their customers in content, who they partner with in content collaborations and the influencers they engage.

A small example of giving voice to talent that we’ve implemented has been the lists of Women Who Rock in Marketing over the past 12 years with the most recent list focusing on women of color in B2B marketing. Not only are we publishing a list honoring marketing leaders every year, but we are following through with interviews, content collaborations and building a community of diverse voices in B2B Marketing.

Are you ready to help elevate the B2B Marketing Industry?

Of course there are many more ways we could help elevate the B2B marketing industry and in fact we are still holding true to the goal of creating great experiences that inspire in all the work we do for clients like LinkedIn, Dell, SAP and one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world.

We feel there are particular opportunities for our team, clients and community to drive the industry forward in the areas of giving voice to talent, humanizing B2B with authenticity and elevating B2B experiences. We believe this focus helps us elevate our work, the impact we have for clients and the business community at large. But we can’t accomplish these big changes alone.

Won’t you join us in making more meaningful and less mechanical marketing experiences? Not only are we hiring multiple B2B marketing roles, we’re also really interested in working with B2B brands that resonate with the idea that we can do better for our customers, our peers and the industry. To learn more, let’s have a conversation!

 

 

 

The post Three of the Biggest Opportunities to Elevate B2B Marketing in 2022 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

MarTech’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, and here are some cheerful thoughts about the metaverse.

You have your metaverse marketing strategy in place, right? No, I thought not, and don’t worry because according to the experts I talk to we are going to be waiting a couple of years before it actually exists. And let me tell you, it’s strange to be researching a story about something that doesn’t exist.

Thanks to VR and video games, of course, one has some idea of what the metaverse will be like. It seems such an inviting place. People, including the vulnerable and the young, will be able to cut themselves off from reality even more decisively than when playing an immersive video game. They’ll be able to do so for many hours at a stretch, wandering (virtually) through an environment, large parts of which are likely to be controlled by Facebook or Google or other giant companies that have proved so capable of creating safe digital environments, enhancing both our mental health and our social interactions.

Okay, you detect some sarcasm there. The alternative to a metaverse dominated by big walled gardens might be Web3. But that’s a whole other story.

Kim Davis
Editorial Director

Shorts 

What we’re reading. Social commerce is a model brands, retailers and platforms must embrace. It’s set to be a $1.2 trillion space by 2025. An excellent explainer on the social media space from Accenture: “Why Shopping’s Set for a Social Revolution.”

The post Good morning: Some thoughts on the metaverse appeared first on MarTech.

Compare The Best PEO Service Providers

POSTED BY January 10, 2022

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best PEO service provider for most people is CoAdvantage or Amplify PEO.

Outsourcing payroll or using software to manage HR isn’t always enough to take administrative tasks off your plate. That’s where PEO (professional employer organization) service providers come in.

Whether you’re interested in hiring a PEO service for the first time or looking to switch providers, we’ve reviewed the top PEO options out there.

Compare the Best PEO Companies

There are 957 PEO companies in the USA! Find out which one is the best match for your specific needs. Enter your zip code below to begin.


9 Best PEO Service Providers

How to choose the best PEO service provider. Quicksprout.com's methodology for reviewing PEO service providers.

Read about each one below. I’ll cover the features, benefits, costs, as well as any drawbacks.

After the reviews, you’ll find a short guide that will help you ask the right questions as you search for the best PEO service for your specific workplace.


Compare the Best PEO Companies

There are 957 PEO companies in the USA! Find out which one is the best match for your specific needs. Enter your zip code below to begin.


CoAdvantage PEO

  • Full-Service PEO Solution
  • Custom HR software
  • Excellent Insurance Options
  • Our Highest Rated PEO in Industry

Get a Quote

In business for more than 30 years and working with businesses of all types in all 50 states across the USA, CoAdvantage PEO is one of the best PEO companies in the industry and has the experience to take on practically any challenge your business might need to deal with.

CoAdvantage currently serves more than 90,000 employees and works with more than 4,500 clients, and they continue to grow regularly.

CoAdvantage PEO home page.

CoAdvantage is a full-service PEO and can provide all the usual services you might expect. Specific service categories include but are not limited to:

  • Payroll Management Services
  • Benefits Administration
  • Workers Compensation Insurance Plans
  • Best in Industry HR Software
  • Risk Management and Regulation Compliance
  • HR Administration
  • Recruitment and Teambuilding Services
  • Top Notch Customer Service

What makes CoAdvantage PEO stand out in our eyes are the great insurance savings you will get combined with best in class HR software.

Onboarding will be easy for yourself, your employees, and your managers, and will for the most part not disturb operations while it is going on. It will be seamless, and any issues will be quickly resolved.

If you want to build your team and keep the best talent in your area (or even outside of it) in your company, then we recommend CoAdvantage PEO.

The price your company will get will depend on multiple factors like size of company, location and current insurance, but you can easily contact them to get a quote.


Amplify PEO

  • Full-service PEO solutions
  • Save money each year
  • Cloud-based platform
  • 24/7 HR Portal

Get a Quote

Amplify offers a full-service PEO solution along with a suite of HR technology that centralizes information for admins and employees.

From hiring to retiring, all employee documents and data stay can stay in one place.

Amplify PEO data and analytics screens.

They offer a roster of features and services you’d expect from the best HR solutions out there including:

  • Payroll solutions
  • Benefits options
  • HR management
  • On-boarding
  • Compliance
  • Time and labor

Their services helps save companies $1,185 per employee each year. Think about that. If your company is 25 employees, that’s nearly $30,000 a year saved. If your company is 100 employees, that’s $118,500 saved.

I really like Amplify because they’re more human than a lot of other PEO providers. And I mean that literally. Any and all HR issues are directed to an actual person rather than an automated call center.

So whether you’re looking for benefits solutions, payroll solutions, or retirement solutions, Amplify has you covered.

Pricing is obscured on their website but you can request a quote for free.


ADP TotalSource

  • Full-service PEO solutions
  • Web dashboard & mobile app
  • 401(k) plans
  • Top notch customer service

Get a Quote

ADP is an industry leader in human resources software. They provide their services to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

ADP also offers TotalSource, their full-service PEO solution.

This is a great ption for small to medium-sized business owners. Whether you have 1-49 employees, 50-999 employees, or 1,000+ members on your team, ADP has a plan for you.

ADP TotalSource is used for human resources, talent management, payroll, employee benefits, and risk assessment.

As a small business owner, you can use ADP to provide enterprise-grade medical, dental, and vision care to your employees. Furthermore, ADP also offers 401(k) plans.

The technology used by ADP is the biggest standout of this PEO provider. Everything from HR to payroll, benefits, and recruiting can be accessed and managed through a mobile app or easy to use web dashboard.

ADP TotalSource PEO home page.

But arguably the best feature of ADP is the customer service.

Naturally, your employees will have questions. Whether it be about their pay, benefits, or something else that would fall into the HR category. Rather than bothering you with those questions, your staff can simply contact an ADP representative directly.

ADP’s knowledgeable and friendly staff will guide your employees in the right direction to answer any questions or help them pick a plan that fits their needs.

I like ADP because they also have industry-specific solutions for businesses in the following categories:

  • Restaurant and hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Construction
  • Government and education
  • Nonprofit
  • Professional and technical services
  • Financial services

ADP provides PEO services and technology in over 140 countries worldwide.

The only potential downside of using ADP TotalSource is the company’s size. Since ADP is so large, it’s possible that your small business could feel like it’s getting lost in the shuffle.


Insperity

  • Full-service HR solution
  • Customized pricing
  • Pick from individual services
  • Excellent customer service

Compare Quotes

Insperity has been around for 30+ years. They provide full HR solutions for small businesses as well as enterprises with up to 5,000 employees.

Since being founded in 1986, they racked up a long list of awards, accreditation’s, achievements, and glowing reviews from their customers.

Insperity’s full-service HR solution includes:

  • Employee benefits
  • HR administration
  • Payroll
  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • Talent management
  • Tech services

And don’t worry if you don’t need a full-service solution. Their individual solutions are also great.

While they  the needs of businesses with 150-5,000 employees, I’d recommend their services to small and medium-sized business owners with less than 150 employees.

You’ll also have access to the iOS and Android mobile apps to monitor and manage your business on the go. It’s a great option for those of you who enjoy leveraging the latest technology to streamline your processes.

Insperity PEO home page.

Although the company is big, they still provide excellent customer service and know how to work with small business owners.

Another top feature of Insperity is its flexibility. Unlike other PEO providers on the market, Insperity won’t lock you into a long-term contract. You can cancel at any time, as long as you give them 30 day’s notice.

Insperity does not list prices for their services online. You’ll need to speak with their customer service sales team to get a custom quote.

A potential drawback of using Insperity for PEO services is that their health plan options are limited. Unlike other providers, Insperity only offers health plans from a single health insurance provider. So if your company wants to give your employees multiple options for healthcare, you should look elsewhere on our list. But this usually isn’t a problem for small business owners.


Paychex

  • Full service or individual plans
  • Pricing based on # of employees
  • Dedicated HR manager support
  • Used by 670,000+ companies

Get started today!

While Paychex is best known for its online payroll services, they are also a full-service PEO provider.

One of the biggest standouts of Paychex is the way that they provide PEO services. Your business will get a dedicated HR professional. In some cases, this dedicated HR manager can even be on-site at your office.

Paychex PEO home page.

By working directly with your employees, Paychex takes HR outsourcing to the next level. Since Paychex works so closely with your company, it makes it easier for them to assess workplace risks and address key areas of liability.

These are some of the top features and benefits of using Paychex as your PEO provider:

  • Insurance plans
  • Attendance
  • Employee benefit accounts (HSA, FSA, HRA)
  • 401(k) plans
  • Payroll administration
  • Unemployment insurance

Like other PEO providers, Paychex also offers individual services if you don’t need a full-service plan. You can search for solutions by task, business size, or role. Paychex even offers outsourced office management services.

From paperless hiring and onboarding to issuing payroll, Paychex does it all.

The only negative thing I can find about Paychex is that the interface is a bit outdated and not as user-friendly compared to options like ADP TotalSource.

The price for Paychex PEO services is based on the number of employees you have.


Justworks

  • Basic and Plus plans
  • Easy to scale as you grow
  • Wide range of services
  • 24/7 customer support

Compare Quotes

Justworks is a full-service PEO provider offering payroll, human resources, compliance, and employee benefits.

In addition to benefits like health, vision, and dental insurance, Justworks also provides a wide range of compliance services. They handle W-2 and 1099 filings, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.

Justworks has an automated payroll system for direct deposit, paying vendors and contractors, and integration with your business accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero.

Justworks payment sent demo page.

Another benefit of Justworks is that they can accommodate the needs for businesses of all sizes. So if you start working with them now, they can scale with you as your company grows.

Here’s an overview of their plans and pricing based company size:

Basic — Payroll, HR Tools, Benefits, and Compliance

  • Less than 25 employees — $49 per month per employee
  • 25-99 — $44 per month per employee
  • 100-174 — $39 per month per employee
  • 175+ — Custom pricing

Plus — Access to Medical, Dental, and Vision

  • Less than 25 employees — $99 per month per employee
  • 25-99 — $89 per month per employee
  • 100-174 — $79 per month per employee
  • 175+ — Custom pricing

You can save 15% on all plans when you sign up for an annual contract.

I like Justworks because they give you so many options. You’re not forced to take the health insurance package, but it’s available if you want it. If you’re just starting out and new to working with PEO service providers, you could always start with the Basic plan and upgrade to Plus when you’re ready.

Justworks offers 24/7 customer support. The company is modern and still growing at a rapid rate, so I expect them to continue providing excellent service in the future.

The only real downside of Justworks is their lack of experience. There are other PEO service providers who have been in business for decades.

Visit JustWorks to learn more.


Oasis Outsourcing

  • Owned by Paychex
  • Great service for startups
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Originally founded in 1996

Compare Quotes

Oasis Outsourcing offers a fairly comprehensive line of PEO services that’s very flexible in their offerings.

PEO services provided by Oasis Outsourcing include:

  • Human resources
  • Employee benefits
  • Risk management
  • Payroll
  • Technology solutions

Oasis can help your small business get great deals on healthcare by bundling your plan with other clients. They’ll help you set up employee retirement plans as well.

Like other providers on our list, Oasis has some industry-specific solutions.

  • Banking
  • Architecture
  • Hotels
  • Education
  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Private equity
  • Legal
  • Property management
  • Financial services

I’d recommend Oasis to startup companies because they are versatile. They’re smaller than the other options on this list — but that only means Oasis can give startups the special attention that they need.

While some PEO providers allow for month-to-month commitments, Oasis will force you into a one-year contract. So for those of you who don’t want to get locked in, this won’t be the best option for you.

With that said, Oasis does offer a 90-day money-back guarantee window. So you’ll have some time to change your mind if you’re not satisfied in the first few months.


VensureHR

  • Full-service PEO solutions
  • 4 billion+ in annual payroll processing
  • 250,000+ employees served
  • Great for small businesses!

Compare Quotes

VensureHR offers a full range of HR solutions that helps simplify your processes.

Their services include:

  • Payroll administration
  • Benefits solutions
  • Risk management
  • Workers’ comp
  • HR solutions

While their services are robust enough for companies of many different industries and sizes, they’re focused on helping small businesses manage their HR solutions.

That means if you’re a small business owner, you can focus on pulling the levers that boost growth instead.

Many PEO services won’t be willing to work with less than 100 employees, but VensureHR has specific services set up for companies with 1-49 employees.

This means that small businesses can get all the help they need, even if they never plan on massive growth. They’ll still be able to offer comprehensive benefits without having to hire a full-time person in house.

Should your company grow beyond 50 employees, VensureHR has dedicated plans for midsize and large business, so you can grow with them, too.

Pricing is obscured on their website, but you can request a quote at anytime by filling out a form.


TriNet

  • In business for over 30 years
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Niche-specific solutions
  • Over 16,000 clients!

Compare Quotes

If you are a small business that’s not planning on massive growth, TriNet is definitely worth checking out. They offer mutlipe PEO services for business with less than 100 employees, including plans for as few as five.

At first blush, TriNet is farily similar to some of the others in the industry. But they also offer niche-specific solutions for:

  • HR consulting
  • Benefit options
  • Payroll
  • Risk mitigation
  • Technology

TriNet stands out as one of the best PEO providers because of their service and attention to detail. Their team will be on standby for your employees.

Whether it’s during the hiring process, onboarding, or just day-to-day questions about their benefits or employee status, TriNet is there for all of those needs.

TriNet does not try to appeal to larger organizations. In fact, services are segmented by employee size into these three categories:

  • 5-19 employees
  • 20-99 employees
  • 100+ employees

I’d recommend TriNet to those of you who fall on the lower end of this scale. A company with 500 or 1,000+ employees should look elsewhere.

TriNet offers a wide range of employee health benefit options through insurance companies like United Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Aflac, Aetna, and MetLife.

TriNet also has partnerships with big brands to offer small businesses and employees marketplace discounts. Some of those brands include Verizon, AT&T, Hyatt, and Avis.


How to Find the Best PEO Service Providers

There are 957 PEO companies in the USA! Find out which one is the best match for your specific needs. Enter your zip code below to begin.

There is quite a bit of information that must be taken into consideration when you’re evaluating a PEO service provider. Since so many companies seem to offer similar services, choosing the best fit for your business can be a challenge.

I’ll take you through the methodology that we used to come up with this guide. You can use these features as well during your search process.

Pricing

The first thing you should look at is the price of the PEO solutions. This will make it easier for you to eliminate options that might be out of your price range.

Unfortunately, it’s rare that a PEO provider includes prices on their website. Since so much about this industry is customized, you’ll need to speak with a sales representative to get a quote.

But if you’re looking for a provider with transparent prices, Justworks will be a top option for you to consider.

Employee Benefits

While a PEO provider is supposed to reduce costs making your life easier as a business owner, it should also have a positive impact on your employees.

Things like retirement plans, health insurance, dental, and vision offered by a PEO will be appealing to your staff. Not only will this keep your employees happy, but it will also help you hire top-level talent.

Some PEO providers work with just one health insurance company, while others provide a wide range of options. So if diverse plans from varying providers is important to you, then make sure you find a PEO solution that can accommodate those needs.

Employee Self-Service

The best PEO providers offer technology for employee self-service. Whether it’s an app or web portal, your staff can access crucial information related to their pay, employee status, or benefits.

If the self-service options are not sufficient, you want to make sure that your PEO provider will be available to answer any questions via phone, email, or live chat for your employees.

Your staff should be able to do this without having to go directly through you to speak to an outsourced HR representative.

Business Size and Industry

A startup with five employees and a franchise with 2,000 employees across 50 locations will not be in the market for the same PEO service provider. Look for providers that work with companies similar to the size of your business.

Furthermore, some PEO providers specialize in certain industries. Ideally, you want to work with a provider who understands your industry, whenever possible.

There’s only so much research you can do on your own via public resources. I suggest shortlisting your top choices and getting in touch. They can provide references from other companies they work with who match your size and industry. If they can’t, it might be a red flag.

Finding a PEO provider that already knows how to support your organization is the best-case scenario.

The Top PEO Services in Summary

Hiring a PEO service provider can save you time and money if you need some assistance running payroll, managing benefits, and handling HR tasks.

Not every business is looking for the same thing in a PEO solution. Some companies want a full-service PEO package, while others just want an outsourced HR representative. Some PEO services are industry-specific, while others are intended for businesses of a certain size.

Best Free Property Management Software

POSTED BY January 10, 2022

Managing properties can be trickier than it looks. The biggest problem is that there are so many different elements to juggle, from collecting rent to handling maintenance and, of course, finding suitable tenants.

Luckily, free property management software is here to help. It removes a great deal of the work—screening tenants via the software and collecting rent online are easy, and the ability to make quick maintenance requests is more convenient.

Here’s the best property management software you can get for free today.

The Top 5 Best Free Property Management Software

  1. Innago — Best for rent collection
  2. Rentler Landlord — Best for detailed records
  3. Apartments.com — Best for listing multiple properties
  4. TenantCloud — Best for screening tenants
  5. TrueRent — Best for security

Those are our top picks. Let’s take a closer look at each.

#1 – Innago — The Best for Rent Collection

  • Payment tracking
  • Automated late fees
  • Exportable collection reports
  • Automatic payment reminder alerts

Try for free

The days of knocking on doors and waiting for your rent are a thing of the past because property management software makes the process so simple. Innago, in particular, excels in the area.

With transparent payment tracking and safe and secure data transmission, collecting rent has never been easier. Innago offers a range of tools to ensure rent gets paid on time and somehow manages to offer it all to you for free.

With Innago, you’ll be able to automate late fees with custom settings. For example, repeating charges or flat fees every few days can be issued the longer you wait—the exact costs and how frequent are up to you. 

You can even apply custom settings to different properties and units, giving you a great deal of flexibility.

Tenants get notified as the fees stack up, and they won’t be able to pay any future invoices until all past ones get sorted out first.

There are also exportable collection reports that are clean and simple to understand, and tenants can set up automated payments to you. The package includes automated invoices where you can charge your tenants monthly, weekly, or however else you want. Best of all, there are automatic payment reminder alerts to keep your tenants on track with their payments.

The total cost for all of this? $0. There’s no setup fee, monthly fee, or any contracts. What you see is what you get. Get started for free today.

#2 – Rentler Landlord — The Best for Detailed Records

  • Detailed, customized reports
  • Tenant screenings
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Full property market analysis

Try for free

Sometimes you need data to make the best decisions, especially in the competitive property market. Rentler Landlord understands this and goes that little bit further to give you everything you need to survive. 

You’ll be able to receive a customized and detailed report that lists similar properties to yours, the local trends, and a recommended rental price for your property overall. 

It doesn’t stop there, though: the reports offer insights into market saturation, vacancy rates, and trends for your area, allowing you to adapt your strategy as necessary and fill your properties with confidence.

On top of that, landlords will have access to internal and national data and the most up-to-date market analysis available—the level of detail is more than impressive.

The rentability reports serve as a complete analysis of how much your rental is worth based on a comparison of similar properties, and they’ll provide you with a recommended rent price and an estimated vacancy rate. The reports are also conducted for all rental types, whether it’s single-family homes, condos, apartments, or townhomes.

The vast majority of features are free, including 24/7 customer support, full tenant screenings, and free messaging on the platform. Landlords can add and manage properties at no cost, while tenants can search for places to rent and complete their applications using their free accounts.

That said, the rentability reports do cost $19.95 each, but the amount you’ll get from them more than makes up for the price. 

#3 – Apartments.com — The Best for Listing Multiple Properties

  • Free, multiple property listings
  • Easy document sharing
  • Automatic rent payments
  • Expense tracking

Try for free

Most landlords have more than one property to market, and some software out there will charge you every time you list a new one. Step in Apartments.com—it charges you nothing no matter how many properties you list.

You’ll be able to add your property quickly, whether it’s a condo or an apartment, and wait for the leads to come in. Every time you list a property, you’ll reach millions of renters across ForRent.com, ApartmentHomeLiving, and more.

For more exposure, should you need it, you can upgrade your ad to a premium listing. Premium listings offer up to ten times more exposure, higher placement results, a giant ad, and 30 days of higher visibility. You’ll also be able to upload six videos to help fill your properties. The pricing varies depending on your state and market and will appear the moment you select your location.

Listing properties isn’t the only strength of the software, though. There’s also detailed expense tracking, automatic rent payments, tenant screening, and quick access to resident data. 

It’s worth mentioning that documents shared between you and your tenants, like checklists, lease addendums, and quotes, can be uploaded and accessed in seconds too.

Sign up and add your properties today.

#4 – TenantCloud — The Best for Screening Tenants

  • Comprehensive screening reports
  • Automatic invoicing
  • Rent collection with multi-bank use
  • Attractive property listings

Try for free

Screening tenants before renting your property is essential to prevent problems and helps you get rent on time every month. It’s considered one of the most critical areas of the entire process.

Property managers need software that can screen tenants quickly yet thoroughly at the same time. TenantCloud strikes a great balance between these two and offers a range of tools to help you avoid problem tenants.

When your potential tenant submits their online application, you’ll be able to run a screening report directly from the software. It’s as easy as selecting the type of report you want and paying for it—you’ll be able to pay for this yourself or allow the tenant to pay. The choice is yours, and this is something not all software offers, so it’s a welcome extra.

The screening reports themselves offer both an advanced background and credit check, in addition to a national eviction records search. They’ll focus on key areas such as criminal records, education, prior evictions, and employment history—the credit checks detail the applicant’s credit history in easy-to-read and digestible formats. 

The software also grants users automatic invoicing, beautiful property listings, e-signatures to speed things up, and accessible online rent collection with multi-bank use. It’s a complete package.

As you might expect, not all of these advanced features are free. However, the software is free to use, albeit in a limited way. There are four tiers, as shown below:

The more premium features such as the owner portal and tax reports come on the higher tiers, but the first free tier still offers tenant screening, listings, rent payments, and more. Also, note that the paid-for levels come with free trials. You can get started with TenantCloud right here

#5 – TrueRent — The Best for Security

  • 256-bit encryption
  • 24/7/365 server monitoring
  • Investment analytics
  • Tenant and owner portal

Try for free

Feeling safe online today is a crucial concern—you need to know that your transactions and data are protected, and this is particularly true for property managers.

TrueRent offers robust security protocols that provide that much-needed peace of mind. It uses advanced server technology to guarantee your data is transferred and stored securely at all times. The transfers themselves are completed using SSL with 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit root—in other words, top-grade security that you can rely on to get the job done. 

Your data gets stored on servers monitored 24/7 every day of the year, protecting it against botnets, phishing scams, and other hacks. It’s undoubtedly a substantial part of the package and a more valuable inclusion for those who worry about security. 

Of course, TrueRent offers more than just great security, with features like detailed investment analytics, an entire tenant and owner portal, and intelligent tenant screening. On the latter, you’ll be able to import an approved applicant directly to the TrueRent portal, and applicants can upload and share their important documents, images, and more with ease. 

TrueRent isn’t outright free forever, but it does come with a free trial with no initiation fee, and you can cancel at any time without fuss. It’s $25 per month based on ten units, but the advanced security features more than compensate for the price if you ask us. 

How To Find the Best Free Property Management Software

Choosing the best property management software can feel like a longer process than it needs to be—free or not. Each can vary substantially on what it offers, but the core features remain the same.

For instance, some software will provide tenant portals and advanced screening, while others will focus on security features more than anything else. It’s important to understand that just because the software is free—most of the time—that doesn’t mean it’s identical. There are several defining features and other vital areas to consider.

Of course, personal circumstances will also heavily factor into your decision-making process. For example, a property manager with multiple properties will most likely need different software than those who want to list a single property on the market. Likewise, some users will prefer more advanced rent collection tools than others.

We’ve listed some of the key areas to consider to help make your decision that little bit easier.

Number of Units

The number of units you manage will significantly affect which software is the best for you. Those managing three units will not have the same needs as others who need to manage 3,000 units, of course.

Most free property software allows you to manage a number of properties, but there are limits to this and it does vary across the board. You’ll often find that the software will charge you to manage more after a certain number of units, usually around ten or so.

If you need to manage a vast number of units, it’s probably best you look for paid property management software from the start, as you’re unlikely to find free software that offers the capability you need. Think about what you require and go from there.

Tenant Portal

Tenant portals are important because they allow tenants to take ownership of things like paying rent and informing landlords of any maintenance issues. They also facilitate communication and enable tenants to update their contact details.

The thing is, not all property management software offers a tenant portal. Most of the software on our list does, but don’t expect it to be a standard feature.

Our advice is to stick to property management software with tenant portals where possible as they offer much more than those that don’t.

Accounting

Not everyone is going to need powerful accounting features, but it’s a key consideration. After all, the ability to keep your numbers accurate and measure your expenditure is often vital, even for those with a smaller property portfolio.

Some free property management software will offer accounting features such as general ledgers or the ability to centralize all forecasting in one place. Others will provide basic functionality that allows you to see rent collection and other simple invoices but won’t go further than that.

Your needs here will depend on your circumstances, but it’s a key area to consider for most users.

Summary

From collecting rent to managing maintenance and screening tenants, property management software streamlines the entire process.

The best free software for rent collection is Innago, while Rentler Landlord offers detailed and helpful reporting features.

For multiple properties, go for Apartments.com, and for top-grade security, TrueRent has you covered.

If you need the best tenant screening tools, TenantCloud is a wise choice.

While choosing the best software for you, be sure to keep in mind the number of units it allows you to manage, whether there’s a tenant portal and the accounting features on offer.

Best Creative Writing Courses

POSTED BY January 10, 2022

A creative writing course can help you develop your writing skills, build conscious writing habits, and teach you how to build a professional portfolio for your writing career. Most creative writing courses offer educational and practical assignments that help you advance in your creative writing abilities. 

With workbooks, learning hubs, video content, and downloadable resources, you can learn how to become a successful and confident writer. After looking at dozens of different courses, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five best creative writing courses on the market today.

The Top 5 Best Creative Writing Courses 

  1. Masterclass: Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing – Best for writing development
  2. Coursera: Creative Writing Specialization – Best for experiential learning
  3. Udemy: Complete Creative Writing Course – Best for portfolio creation
  4. Gotham Writers: Creative Writing 101 – Best for building a writing habit
  5. Reedsy Learning: Understanding Point of View – Best for beginners 

Continue reading for our in-depth reviews on the five best creative writing courses to help you become a better writer today. 

1 – Masterclass: Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing – Best for Writing Development 

  • 92-page class workbook
  • Three hours of content
  • Learning community hub
  • Short 10-minute lessons

Try for 30 days risk-free

If you’re an experienced writer looking to develop your writing abilities, the Masterclass course Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing is an excellent option for you. 

This course compiles advanced material that Atwood simplifies with 23 slow-paced video lessons that span across three hours. 

Author of The Handmaid’s Tale and instructor of this creative writing course, Atwood takes you on a journey of the creative writing process from getting started to getting published. Her first-ever online class will teach you to develop your writing with advanced material and personal advice. 

Whether you already have a first draft or a half-written book, this in-depth course teaches all about core writing elements. Atwood discusses how to write a compelling story, create structure, develop nuanced characters, keep your readers interested, and how to stay motivated while writing—helping you turn your work into a masterpiece. 

The best part about this specific creative writing course is how participatory it is. You get access to a 92-page class workbook that includes additional writing assignments you can complete after each lesson, as well as helpful resources for writers. 

The course also comes with a community hub for all students to interact with each other. The community page gives you a place to discuss lessons, share your work, get feedback, and network—creating a sense of classroom-like community. 

The structure of the Masterclass course is easy to navigate, with all 23 lessons being split into three to five sections and are around 10 minutes long each. 

Lessons one through 16 are about the general elements of writing, like story and plot, structure, characters, and point of view. Lessons 17 through 23 discuss the business side of writing, including getting published and working within different genres. 

Masterclass offers one membership fee to receive access to every class on its website. The fee is $15 per month, billed at $180 per year.

A Masterclass membership gives you access to more than 100 classes, audio-only lessons, offline viewing for iOS, downloadable instructor guides, and new classes added every month. 

Masterclass also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all subscriptions.

2 – Coursera: Creative Writing Specialization – Best for Experiential Learning 

  • Write an original story
  • 100% online course
  • Discounts upon completion
  • Flexible course deadlines

Try for 7 days free

Not every creative writing course offers practical and interactive assessments, but the Creative Writing Specialization courses offered by Wesleyan University for Coursera stands out because of its experiential learning experience. This is a set of five courses within one larger specialization, all leading to a capstone project.

As a creative writing course with extensive hands-on projects, each specialization will teach you how to master a different writing technique that successful writers use in the three major writing genres. 

There are more than 80,000 students already enrolled in this set of courses, and for a good reason. The course structure has helped many people understand the short story, narrative essay, and memoir genre. 

What makes this course so experiential is during the last lesson, where you have the chance to write and edit your own original story. 

Using the elements and techniques you learn throughout the five courses taught by different instructors, you will draft a short story, narrative essay, or memoir of eight to 15 pages. With the help of your peer readers and instructors, you will revise, rewrite, and complete the story in whichever genre you choose. 

Each course within the overall Specialization focuses on a different element for each genre. During this course, you will learn the craft of plot (course one), crafting characters (course two), settings and descriptions (course three), and style (course four) before you put these skills to the test and write your story in course five. 

Even though this Specialization is more in-depth, it’s still flexible, as you can take each of the first four courses in any order (ending with the course five capstone). It’s also 100% online, so you don’t need to show up to a classroom, and you can access all course material via a desktop or mobile device. 

The Creative Writing Specialization currently takes between three to six months to complete, which you should keep in mind. However, Coursera lets you set and maintain flexible deadlines, even though you cannot change the course duration to be any shorter than it already is. 

This year, Write-Bros, Scrivener, and Scribophile are sponsors of the Creative Writing Specialization course and are offering discounts for all students who complete their assessments. Upon completing your first assignment, you receive an 80% discount from Write-Bros, a 30% discount on your first purchase from Scrivener, and a 30% off membership pricing for Scribophile’s online writing community. 

Coursera now offers monthly subscriptions for each Specialization course. The cost is $39 to $89 per month, depending on the duration.

With each Specialization course, you get access to shareable course certificates, course videos and readings, practice quizzes, graded assignments with feedback, graded quizzes with feedback, and graded programming assignments. 

Coursera also offers financial aid and a seven-day free trial. 

3 – Udemy: Complete Creative Writing – Best for Portfolio Creation 

  • Create a digital portfolio
  • 12 hours of video content
  • Complete at your own pace
  • Daily writing prompts

Try for 30 days risk-free

If you want to learn about the four writing genres and create a strong portfolio with your writing samples, the Complete Creative Writing course by Udemy is an excellent option. 

Creating an outstanding portfolio can be difficult for many writers, especially beginners, but this course will help you create a digital portfolio in just five concise sections. 

Instructed by teacher and author Trace Crawford, this course delves deep into the world of fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. In the fifth and final section, you’ll learn how to create a digital portfolio.

Including the introduction, the course has 161 lectures and a running time of about 12 hours. By the end of this course, you will understand the ins and outs of all things creative writing. 

Crawford breaks down the course into four subsections: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Creative Non-Fiction. You will receive a writing journal prompt for every lesson, 145 downloadable resources, and a certificate of completion. Each subsection offers between 20-50 lectures that range between one and three hours in length in total.

The final course section focuses only on the digital portfolio. Many creative writing courses don’t touch on portfolio creation, even though it’s an essential aspect of a writer’s career. These lectures will leave you feeling ready to pursue a career in writing. 

This course is also flexible, as you can complete it at your own pace and receive lifetime access for one price. If you have the time, you can complete this course within a day or two, which is helpful to retain as much information as possible. 

The course comes with 37 online quizzes, 145 downloadable resources, and journal prompts. You also receive a daily writing assignment, a lesson covering the course content, and a practical application project. 

Crawford aims to further develop and perfect your voice by teaching you about the four genres. You will also learn about writing techniques, writing concepts, how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your writing projects, and of course, you will build a portfolio. 

The regular price is $29.99 for the Complete Creative Writing course, and Udemy often has discounts throughout the year. This specific course usually goes on sale each month, so look out for this. 

Udemy also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

4 – Gotham Writers: Creative Writing 101 – Best for Building a Writing Habit 

  • Daily writing exercises
  • Weekly one-hour live chat
  • Online classroom layout
  • Six-week course

Only $309

Are you struggling to build a writing habit and don’t know where to start? The Creative Writing 101 six-week course by Gotham Writers is an excellent place to start. 

This level one online six-week class focuses on slowly building a writing habit while teaching you about the show and tell of writing, individuality, fiction, nonfiction, and how to get better at the craft. 

This course is unique because each class size is limited for students to get enough personal attention from the instructor. There are a maximum of 16 students in each Creative Writing 101 class, which is 100% online. 

Creative Writing 101 helps you slowly build a writing habit by encouraging you to complete daily observation exercises and free writing. These writing activities help stimulate the brain and create a way to write freely without the burden of writer’s block. 

The course also offers weekly writing assignments that the instructor grades and provides feedback for, which will help you feel more confident about your writing abilities as you progress through the course. 

Because this course is online, Gotham Writers provides the Lounge feature for all students to meet weekly for a one-hour live chat. The Lounge is open 24/7 for all students to chat and get to know each other, network, and discuss feedback. 

You also get access to a weekly planner, class roster, guidelines, and syllabus. The notebook, booth, library, and blackboard are other essential features that store lectures, assignments, resources, and student feedback.  

The course layout is the most similar to an online classroom, especially for collaboration purposes, making it easy to navigate and complete tasks. Each class session lasts for a week, and you have the flexibility to complete tasks at any time of day during the week. 

Gotham Writers offers this course online, on Zoom, or in-person for different prices. 

  • Online: $309 
  • Zoom: $309 
  • In-Person in NYC: $325 

There is also a $25 registration fee that you pay once per term. All course dates are listed on the website and are subject to availability.

5 – Reedsy Learning: Understanding Point of View – Best for Beginners 

  • Completely free
  • Content delivered to your inbox
  • Five-minute lessons
  • Quick 10-day course

Try for free

Beginners need to start somewhere, and there’s no better place to start than enrolling in the free Reedsy Learning course, Understanding Point of View. 

Taught by TEDx speaker and author Gabriela Pereira, this course focuses on the technical element of point of view, which challenges many writers in the beginning stage. If this sounds like you, you will be delighted to hear that this course is free and gets delivered to your inbox every morning for 10 days. 

This is a quick and easy 10-day course. Each lesson is just five minutes, and Pereira takes you on an immersive journey through the challenges of establishing the correct point of view in your creative writing. 

This course will familiarize you with each primary POV, including first, second, and third person. With the help of practical writing exercises, you will complete the course understanding how to master each point of view within your writing. 

During this course, you will also learn: 

  • The differences between third-person limited and third-person omniscient 
  • The strengths and weaknesses of second person 
  • How to work with multiple points of view
  • Epistolary and Journal forms 

To enroll, include your name, email address, and time zone so that Pereira can deliver each lecture to your inbox on time. You can start each morning on the right foot by completing a quick five-minute lesson and go about your day, making it a simple course for the complete beginner to follow and get used to writing each day. 

Reedsy Learning offers this and many other free online courses to help you establish your career and transform your writing skills. 

How to Find The Best Creative Writing Course For You 

There are a few factors that go into finding the best creative writing course for you. Sometimes it can be challenging to choose the right course, especially since there are many different goals you may want to achieve. So we put together this methodology of the three most essential elements to consider before investing in a creative writing course. 

Schedule and Flexibility

The first thing to consider before investing in a creative writing course is the flexibility of your schedule. Consider the duration of each writing course, as some can go for days, weeks, or even months. 

The Complete Creative Writing Course by Udemy is a flexible option, as it allows you to go at your own pace and offers 12 hours of content you can complete in as little as a day or two. However, some courses aren’t as flexible with timing, such as the Creative Writing Specialization by Coursera and Wesleyan University—which takes three to six months to complete. 

Make sure you check whether the timing is flexible, or you might need to change your schedule to fit in with your studies. 

Payment Method

Each course offers different prices depending on the duration, topic, and how in-depth the content is. Some writing courses have a subscription-based payment method, while others are one-off payments for lifetime access. 

It’s crucial to look for lifetime access, as you don’t want to invest in a course that will expire, and you lose all access to the materials. The course Understanding Point of View by Reedsy Learning is a free course perfect for beginners or anyone who isn’t sure where to start. 

You can enroll in a free course to learn the ropes of online studying, or you can choose one that offers a one-off payment, as most of the courses on this list. We wouldn’t recommend paying for a subscription unless you are dedicating a few months to learning or are interested in multiple courses from the same company. 

Learning Community 

A learning hub or community page can help you reinforce the learning materials, network, and build on your overall learning experience. Courses like Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing by Masterclass and Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers offer community hubs or lounges for students to interact and connect. 

Although not required, a central hub is essential for building a community and connecting with other writers. It can make your learning experience feel more like a classroom, even when it’s online. 

You might even complete the course with a few fellow writer friends along with the knowledge you obtained from the writing course. 

Summary 

Overall, the Masterclass and Coursera courses are our top two recommendations for the best creative writing courses on the market today. 

Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing by Masterclass is an extensive look into the writing world through a successful author’s eyes. Atwood gives you personal advice and advanced learning material that covers getting started to getting published. 

The Creative Writing Specialization by Coursera is another advanced course that lets you craft an original story through either the short story, narrative essay, or memoir genre. 

However, Udemy, Gotham Writers, and Reedsy Learning provide substantial and knowledgeable creative writing courses that will help transform even a beginner’s writing abilities. This is especially true if you are not yet ready to commit to a more advanced course.

MarTech’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, should tech start-ups be worried?

Reading about Elizabeth Holmes’ conviction on four counts of wire fraud in the Theranos trial, I kept coming across suggestions from analysts and legal experts suggesting that the outcome of the case constitutes a warning to Silicon Valley start-ups in general. Stop talking up your product and exaggerating its merits. ”In Silicon Valley, hyping up your product – over-promising – isn’t unusual,” wrote James Clayton.

But is there really no red line between puffery and deception? Puffery, of course, is the term of art in advertising for expressing what is obviously an opinion. “This is the best detergent you’ll ever use” is a claim an advertiser can make without an obligation to provide conclusive data to support it. Does puffery happen in marketing technology sales? I think we all know it does. Are predictions of how software will solve challenges and drive revenue sometimes starry-eyed? You bet.

But a red line is surely crossed when, say, prospective purchasers of an AI-driven personalization solution are shown results that were actually derived from manual personalization using a spreadsheet because the AI actually doesn’t work. I think that’s what we’re looking at here (“…the defendants represented to investors that Theranos conducted its patients’ tests using Theranos-manufactured analyzers; when, in truth, Holmes and Balwani knew that Theranos purchased and used for patient testing third party, commercially-available analyzers).

Kim Davis

Editorial Director

Shorts 

Quote of the day. “Change management is the biggest issue Operations teams face. Period. It’s NOT adopting new tech, NOT creating new campaigns, NOT tracking ROI. Efficiently, and effectively keeping up with change.” Stephen Stouffer, VP Marketing Operations, SaaScend

The post Good morning: Should start-ups worry about hyping their products? appeared first on MarTech.

Blockchain technology and NFTs aren’t going anywhere, and some big brands have already dipped their toes in and demonstrated that they can generate real engagement.

Marketers are always in search of new strategies and technologies to gain a competitive advantage, so it’s not surprising that in outlooks for the upcoming year, there’s been a lot of talk about how NFTs and blockchain technology can give brands a lift. The digital landscape has expanded to include 3D AR and VR environments. Meanwhile, Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) has gotten out front with the concept of a connected metaverse.

When weighing all of the options that appear on the horizon, marketers should set clear goals and expectations instead of chasing the next flashy gimmick. But they also shouldn’t miss out on the transition to blockchain and virtual environments going on right now in some marketing channels.

Blockchain’s benefits for identity

“The industry has known for a while that blockchain’s transparent, decentralized nature, and immutability have valuable applications in preventing ad fraud and securing the ad supply chain,” said Mel Bessaha, Senior Vice President of Demand for video technology company Connatix. “Those same benefits also deliver great value for brands that are dedicated to building strong first-party data strategies. Those strategies will naturally require as much first-party data as possible.”

Because the location of all data in a blockchain is recorded in a decentralized, public ledger, this makes the blockchain much more transparent to consumers when it comes to their data’s provenance. Companies using blockchain technology for data also have a number of security options in handling and storing the data, either on or off the chain.

The advantage concerning transparency of customer data is that the data isn’t being managed privately out of view on a company’s database, or shared with a third party without a customer’s permission. This way, there’s no disconnect between how a business uses customer data and how a customer expects it to be used, regardless of how customers interpret a particular data-sharing agreement when they check the box to grant permission. Sharing their data by way of blockchain is a way for brands to build trust with customers who fear that their customer data is being exploited in other transactions and lengthy permission agreements.

“Consumers want to be able to opt out of data sharing, and they want transparency into what data is being collected,” said Bessaha. “Brands that can offer that transparency – which blockchain offers – will win consumers’ trust, and incentivize them to continue engaging with the brand and sharing data. Businesses in digital need to prove consumers are getting a fair trade when they share their information, and blockchain provides that proof.”

If companies gain more trust with consumers by using blockchain technology, this sweetens the deal for acquiring more first-party data, which every brand needs now more than ever.

NFTs in the metaverse

Non-fungible tokens are digital objects that use blockchain technology to make sure that they are unique. Anybody who acquires an NFT can prove their ownership because the transaction is recorded in the decentralized, public ledger.

This is important, because the visual representation of the NFT on a computer screen can easily be copied with a screenshot. It’s the blockchain itself that designates who owns this rare digital gem.

For brands, NFTs can generate brand value and brand love in a number of ways, but as a virtual souvenir it makes the digital object more personally significant to the customer. It’s not a Burger King crown that any BK fan can pick up at a store. Instead, it’s a unique object that a customer jumped through specific hoops to acquire, and they can prove it on the blockchain.

There is already an environment where consumers can show off their NFTs, provided by blockchain vendors who mint NFTs and provide digital wallets and trophy cases where users can keep them. But when operating in a virtual environment, those NFTs can follow a user wherever they go. This makes NFTs essential to VR experience, and a reason why they would grow in importance as a VR metaverse takes shape.

NFT responsibility

One thing marketers should pay attention to is the bad rep certain blockchain technologies get for using up lots of energy. To update the ledger for each unique token or coin, computers in a decentralized network are put to work generating a new chain. Many blockchain venders have gotten out ahead of this concern by pledging their sustainability practices.

When marketers introduce an NFT promotion or other blockchain strategy, they will want to let consumers know that the technology they are using is environmentally responsible.

“Consumers will be thinking through the impact of carbon emissions released by the creation of NFTs and other digital tokens,” said Libby Morgan, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer for the digital media and marketing trade association IAB.

Marketers in the metaverse

“Marketers are going to begin exploring branding opportunities in the metaverse,” said Stephen Hoelper, President, North America, at programmatic messaging company Doceree. “Brands that deliver an engaging and less invasive experience than the current digital marketing landscape will gain the greatest impact out of the gate in the new space.”

“Brands are being put on notice: prepare for the metaverse,” said Sanjay Mehta, Head of Industry, e-commerce at cloud-based experience company Lucidworks. “This is a chance to reimagine virtual experiences and find better ways to do all the things we’ve been trying to do in the real world, including building community among customers, experiencing physical goods virtually, understanding shopper behavior, and creating more personal (AI-powered) concierge-style services.

He added, “There are a million directions retailers could go, but those with clear intentions and a desire to enhance the total experience with the metaverse (versus building something from scratch just because) will be able to pull ahead.”

With a lot of publicity generating the idea of the metaverse, it still remains largely conceptual, according to Jack Smith, Chief Product Officer for ad verification company DoubleVerify.

“It’s early days for both the technology – hardware and software – and the content required to meet the ‘meta-opportunity,” Smith said. “Interoperability is also key. For the metaverse to function like the physical world, virtual environments must be interconnected. It can’t be a series of individual walled gardens. While the metaverse will take years to be realized, it’s not as far away as we might think given the rapid advancements in VR and AR amid the pandemic.”

Brand theft in the metaverse?

When taking their first dive into a virtual environment like the promised metaverse, marketers should understand that some of the strategies and logic on traditional channels might not carry over. That’s because laws protecting intellectual property are rooted in the real world, aka “meatspace.”

“The most significant difference in IP and licensing issues between the metaverse and meatspace is clarity of ownership,” said Aron Solomon, Chief Legal Analyst for attorney lead gen company Esquire Digital. “If we look at a Nike sneaker in our tangible world, we know that a counterfeit pair of bred toe Jordan 1s from Sneaker Street in Hong Hong is inauthentic because we can accurately trace its provenance – the original licensed Nike shoe.”

He cautioned, “Tracking ownership on the blockchain-based metaverse is going to be impossible by traditional legal measures because of uncertainty of ownership and the potential for (otherwise very cool) infinite alterations of the thing in issue, here, lets say, an NFT of a pair of bred toes.”

As the metaverse becomes more connected with greater participation, a cat and mouse game might likely develop, possibly resembling ad fraud in the advertising landscape or other forms of deceptive digital scams.

Marketers should be pay close attention to how they might release NFTs, selecting proven partners in this emerging space.

As with any new digital channel, there is an excitement for discovery among consumers that marketers can also share. But eventually the buzz will need to lead to revenue.

The post How marketers will use blockchain technology and NFTs in 2022 for identity, branding and engagement appeared first on MarTech.

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