Day: January 8, 2021
UnifyID | Redwood City, CA | Full-time | Onsite | Competitive | https://unify.id/
UnifyID, a Security and AI startup, is building a revolutionary identity platform based on implicit authentication. UnifyID’s mission is to replace today’s vulnerable and cumbersome security techniques (passwords, one-time passcodes, etc.) with passive, behavior-based authentication. Best of all, we are doing it in a way that respects user privacy.
Latest Announcements – https://unify.id/press.html
– SXSW Security & Privacy 2017 Winner
– RSA Innovation Sandbox Unanimous 2017 Winner
– TechCrunch Disrupt SF Battlefield 2016 Runner-Up
– Stanford StartX S15
– Senior Full Stack Engineer: https://bit.ly/2ZfoNVE
– Machine Learning Engineer: https://bit.ly/3839Uta
– Lead iOS Engineer: https://bit.ly/2A46R7N
– Senior iOS Engineer: https://bit.ly/2VeshX2
– Lead Android Engineer: https://bit.ly/3ezYks2
– Senior Android Engineer: https://bit.ly/2VkqOhV
– Lead DevOps Engineer: https://bit.ly/3ey7hCr
– QA Engineer: https://bit.ly/31fD5be
Excellent team, comprehensive benefits, great light-filled office, visa sponsorship, exciting growth, and meaningful impact at this early-stage VC funded startup.
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The politicians who egged them on should also be made to pay a heavy price.
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What happens when people aren’t engaged in their education?
Very little, unfortunately.
It’s a stubborn problem that confronts HR staff and elementary school teachers alike.
Top talent gets bored and moves on. Students lose interest and tune out.
All the preparation and dedication it takes to develop a good course means nothing if people aren’t buying in.
This problem doesn’t get easier when learners and instructors are meeting online instead of in a classroom or on site.
Creating a digital environment where people can really learn is challenging, even in ideal circumstances. Having the right learning management system (LMS) software in place makes this task much more manageable for everyone involved.
Administrators have a clear view of what’s happening, instructors have the freedom to create courses that matter, and learners get a relevant, unique experience that meets them where they are.
LMS software will not replace the hard work and perseverance that goes into creating lessons and educating people. The right one, however, will let everyone focus on their work instead of fighting with a frustrating system.
The Top 6 Options for LMS Software
- Schoology – Best for K-12 education
- D2L Brightspace – Best for higher education
- Tovuti – Best for selling online courses
- Looop – Best for SMB employee training
- Docebo – Best for enterprise learning
- Sensei – Best LMS plugin for WordPress
The Different Types of LMS Software
Deciding on the type of LMS software is not going to be too difficult for most people.
Some of the vendors on this list offer products that span different categories, but for the most part, the different types of LMS software are aimed at specific educational settings:
- Educational LMS Software
- Corporate LMS Software
- Ecommerce LMS Software
Deciding on the particular product within these three categories is where you are going to spend most of your time.
Let’s break these three types down a little further.
Educational LMS Software
These products are designed with school students in mind. They are built to help different types of educational organizations comply with government standards and meet the needs of their varied student populations.
Educational LMS Software can be broken down into two subtypes.
K-12 LMS Software is for towns, school districts, and private institutions that want to get every student on the same platform. They are built to scale appropriately, and track a student’s journey as they advance grades.
These types of platforms also accommodate the needs of parents, who are able to view grades and communicate with teachers.
Higher Education LMS Software is for colleges and universities. These platforms are designed to give students a much more independent experience, accommodating their unique set of courses and trajectory through undergrad, graduate, or postgraduate education.
Corporate LMS Software
These products are designed with adult learners in mind, particularly for businesses who need to train employees, customers, or partners.
These platforms help administrators create and deliver courses about company content and best practices. It works much better than throwing “the manual” at new members of your business.
Courses and company resources on a corporate LMS help with:
- Onboarding: educating new employees, customers, or partners.
- Training: providing basic knowledge to learners for a position, role, or skill.
- Development: providing advanced knowledge to upskill or specialize a learner.
- Enablement: provides educational resources to help skilled learners improve.
Some platforms will work across the organization to meet all of these needs for both external and internal uses.
Others may specialize in a particular area, like employee training, sales enablement, or customer onboarding.
Ecommerce LMS Software
These products are designed for individuals and institutions that want to sell online courses and other digital learning content.
Instead of a heavy-duty platform designed for a school district or enterprise organization, ecommerce LMS software is sleek and oriented around self-service.
Instructors can build out exactly the content they need, and have control over the costs via subscriptions or per-course fees.
Learners can find the courses they are looking for at a price that makes sense.
Many of these platforms have less expensive options that let you do everything but charge for courses. These non-monetized plans can work well for tutors, non-profits, and other individuals who need to organize and distribute educational content.
How to Choose the Best LMS Software for You
There are hundreds of vendors who make LMS software. To make your search easier, let’s focus on the people LMS software serves:
What do they want? What do they need? Really think about how each LMS is going to perform for each role.
In the end, how these different types of users feel about the product is going to determine whether it sinks or sets sail.
Let’s go in depth on considerations for each role. This is going to help you think through your specific situation and zero in on the product that checks all your boxes.
We’ll close this section with a look at some of the technical considerations that really matter when picking LMS software
Much of the learner experience will depend on the type of LMS software you choose. Some platforms are going to be aimed at students, others at adult employees.
At the same time, many of the essential considerations are going to be the same regardless of the type you choose. Likely, you are going to want support for one or more of the following types of learning environments:
- Distance learning: Using online teaching to reach learners who are separated by great physical distance.
- Remote learning: Using online teaching to reach learners during situations where people cannot meet in a physical classroom.
- Blended learning: Using a mix of in-person and remote learning.
- Mobile learning: Letting learners interact with phones and tablets, and on-the-go.
- Social learning: Allowing learners to interact and teach each other.
- Virtual classroom: An online space where learners and instructors can interact in real time, talking, sharing materials, and working in groups.
These environments are interrelated. Instructors leading a training session may make use of both mobile learning and a virtual classroom, for example.
What’s important to your search is selecting a platform that supports the learning environments necessary for all of the students, teams, or departments who use it.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the learning styles supported. Depending on your organization, you may want to have some or all of these options for learning available:
- Synchronous: Learners and instructors are in the same place at the same time, even if it’s a digital “place.” Everyone goes through the learning path together.
- Asynchronous: Learners can complete their work at different times and may progress through the course at their own pace. It is sometimes called “self-paced” learning.
- On-Demand: Learners have anytime access to courses and learning resources. In some cases, learners can select their own courses of study.
- Accessible: Learners with special circumstances are supported by features like closed-captions, text-to-speech, and translation.
There’s no lesson that’s going to work for every learner every time. Instructors need the ability to experiment, to blend the tried-and-true methods with new tactics.
If a platform doesn’t have the features or functions an instructor needs, they’re going to be spending time finding workarounds.
Find something that centralizes all the tools instructors need to accomplish their goals, and lets them build exactly what they need. This is going to be different for each department or branch of a business.
Pay particular attention to course management features and how they are going to help your instructors create an effective learning experience. These include:
- Quizzes and graded assignments
- Learner profiles and rosters
- Learner reports and analytics
- Discussion boards and chats
- Content library
- Multimedia uploads
With the exception of brand-new instructors, most will be approaching the new LMS with existing resources they’d like to continue using. I’m thinking of content from past courses as well as services like plagiarism detectors.
It shouldn’t be impossible for them to transfer their current course content (from paper or a previous LMS) to the new platform. Scanning with handwriting/optical character recognition will allow them to upload and use any type of document can be really helpful.
Here, it’s important to consider the platform’s ease-of-use. Not every instructor is going to want to become an expert in the intricacies of LMS software. Many want something that gets out of the way and just lets them teach, so to speak.
It’s about making enough online learning resources available without overwhelming instructors. If it’s annoying or constricting to use certain features, they won’t.
A lot of the best LMS software is cloud-based, which means organizations aren’t responsible for maintaining the backend IT infrastructure.
Even so, administrators play a leading role in the success or failure of any platform. What you are looking for is something that gives these all-important users the visibility and control they need.
An LMS that integrates and syncs with your student information system or identity provider is going to make this task a lot easier.
Additionally, admins need to be able to pull reports quickly. This could be for an individual student, class, or entire school district, depending on your use case. How hard is it going to be for administrators to get big picture and granular insight?
The LMS you choose has to fit into your environment. It’s going to be one of a number of tools that people are using throughout their day, and if it doesn’t play nice with others, there’s trouble ahead.
This is true of any software, but with an LMS, you have to be extra careful to consider every aspect of this issue before signing on to a particular platform.
Integrations are going to be important. Will it work with your identity provider, student information system, plagiarism detector, or cloud storage services?
Look for direct integrations, as those will be the easiest to use. With LMS software, however, you should also be aware that many come with APIs that can be used to build custom solutions. These can work well, but you want to make sure these methods aren’t going to break at scale.
The other thing to pay attention to is content compliance. This includes standards like SCORM, LTI, AICC, and others. If a platform is SCORM compliant, for example, that means instructors will be able to import any content that meets those standards.
Unless you want to build everything instructors are using from scratch, it will be really helpful to find a platform that is compliant with the content you already depend on.
#1 – Schoology — Best for K-12 Blended Learning
Schoology has proven itself to be one of the most nimble LMS providers in a time where adapting to new learning environments really matters.
The platform connects everyone involved: students, teachers, parents, coaches, and administrators. It can accommodate virtually any type of learning environment, from in-person, to blended, to fully remote.
With Schoology, instructors can continue to “use what they know” because it has direct integrations with more than 200 popular tools, like Turnitin and Khan Academy, as well as compliance with SCORM, LTI, QTI and Common Cartridge.
Whether the schools are open or closed, teachers can use the lessons they trust without having to reinvent the wheel. They can manage everything from assessments to attendance within a single dashboard, and share all of their content with students on their class homepage.
Within this simple framework, instructors have a ton of freedom to create unique content for their students, design meaningful assessments, and a rich set of tools for tracking progress.
They can figure out what’s working quickly, and have the ability to personalize content for individualized instruction.
This is really important in blended learning environments where students don’t necessarily have equal access to technology. Schoology makes it easier for teachers to create different types of assessments that let students go at their own pace or access resources offline, even on the mobile app.
That’s the beauty of Schoology. It doesn’t change what teachers teach, it just gives them the tools to do it in any setting, with features like:
- Course & lesson designers
- Grading tools
- Commenting and video feedback
- Student tracking
- Online discussions
On the administrator side, Schoology syncs with student information systems, which cuts down on busy work and keeps information consistent.
It will work especially well for districts that are already using Powerschool as their student information system, as Schoology is now part of the same company.
Students, instructors, parents and advisors can create a free Schoology account, but institutions will have to get in touch with Schoology for pricing.
The strength of the product for K-12 schools is that it integrates with tools that teachers already use, in a format that’s comfortable for students.
#2 – D2L Brightspace — Best for Higher Education
D2L, which stands for Desire 2 Learn, makes LMS software for higher education that is used by some of the biggest universities in the country. It’s become a lifesaver for many institutions that are trying to adjust to remote learning.
For as powerful and customizable as it is, D2L’s Brightspace for Higher Education feels extremely light. It’s easy to navigate for students, giving them the ability to monitor grades, assignments, classes, and announcements from a single dashboard.
The truth is that each professor only needs a fraction of the capabilities available to create and manage their courses. D2L can be customized to meet the needs of different departments and pedagogical approaches.
In Brightspace, the interface is easy for professors to use, no matter how they want to build their course and track assessment. They’re not having to shoehorn their lectures into a mold or trying to develop work arounds to include the content they want.
On the student side, the experience remains minimalist, regardless of which features their professors using. One class may use a ton of collaborative and social tools, like discussion boards. Another might be all videos and interactive labs.
Either way, the student gets a single, clean, cohesive experience since D2L’s mobile app is responsive and works well on any screen size.
In short, students have one place for all their academic needs and can access the platform from wherever they are.
Whether students are going to be on campus, engaging in remote learning, or some mix of the two, D2L Brightspace comes with everything an institution needs to continue operating, including:
- Virtual classrooms
- Video assignments
- Student/Class progress dashboards
- Single sign-on (SSO)
- Disaster recovery
All of these features come with Brightspace Core. Additional reporting and tracking features are available with Performance Plus, which can be helpful for identifying at-risk students before problems become unsolvable.
Engagement Plus, another Brightspace add-on, comes with additional features to further enhance digital learning environments. Instructors will be able to deliver fully-searchable video content, which is great for lectures, and enable gamification in their courses.
You’ll have to get in touch with D2L for pricing. Call them today and see why so many public and private institutions are choosing to go with Brightspace over the competition.
#3 – Tovuti — Best for Selling Online Courses
Tovuti is a super-flexible LMS software option. I like it best for individuals and institutions that are looking to sell courses online, though it could be a favorable option as a lightweight corporate LMS.
Tovuti provides a strong blend of ecommerce LMS functionality with course management features that help instructors make sure that learners are getting the most bang for their buck.
Unlike other similar platforms, course authoring tools are included. Within the platform you can create more than 40 different types of content, like interactive videos, quizzes, and memory games.
Once you’ve built your courses, Tovuti makes it easy to manage, track, and grow your enrollment. There’s a built-in content management system, blog, and web designer, as well as plenty of features to help you create an experience that aligns with your brand.
Create extended learning paths with multiple courses or deliver your content in a microlearning format where learners are free to choose from individual PDFs and videos in your content library.
By enabling feedback (which is optional), you can let learners rate and review your courses. This puts them on the radar of learners with similar goals.
All the marketing, ecommerce, and content creation capabilities an instructor needs are centralized in one intuitive platform.
Some of the other highlights include:
- Virtual classroom
- Personalized learner portals
- Mobile learning
- Single sign-on (SSO)
- SCORM compliance
- PowerPoint importer
To use Tovuti as an ecommerce LMS, you’ll need to get the Pro plan. This is going to be more expensive than the Core plan, but that doesn’t let you charge for courses.
The upside is that the Pro plan comes with a ton of features that are all exceptionally deep. For example, their virtual classroom allows for breakout rooms. Smaller groups can split up, talk about the discussion and rejoin the larger meeting seamlessly.
Get in touch with Tovuti today and supercharge your e-learning business for tomorrow.
#4 – Looop — Best for SMB Employee Training and Development
Looop helps small businesses bring new hires up to speed quickly and keep top talent engaged. At the heart of Looop’s strategy for delivering a meaningful LMS is their understanding of how employees actually learn.
Most people’s instinct is to use search engines to find the information they need rather than in-house resources. But you can’t ensure the information they get from Google has the context, depth, and relevance to be applied properly to your company.
Looop lets you turn company content into the on-demand resource employees crave. Quickly build engaging training modules and other resources, or integrate existing SCORM and xAPI content into your platform.
One of the standout features of Looop is that administrators can use automated campaigns to deliver content directly to the inboxes or Slack channels of employees who need it. Similar to marketing automation, these campaigns can be personalized to meet the needs of the learner.
Admins can then track which messages have been opened, which trainings have been completed, and automatically send the next training module when they’re ready.
Plus, it’s all mobile-responsive, so employees can access these resources whenever and wherever they need them.
There are also built-in survey tools that allow learners to provide feedback and dashboards for instructors and admins to keep tabs on overall progress. Continually optimize content based on how learners are responding.
Some of the other standout features that come with Loop include:
- Instructor-led training
- Unlimited content creation
- Video and screencast uploads
- Flexible roles and permissions
- Pre-created content libraries
- Automatic content backups
Companies of any size can benefit from Looop’s transparent, predictable pricing. There are four tiers, which are based on the number of users:
- Small Businesses: $299/month, up to 50 users
- Mid Size Businesses: $699/month, up to 250 users
- Enterprise: $1,199/month, up to 500 users
- Enterprise Plus: Contact sales for more than 500 users
Keeping the price down is not hard with Looop. You can archive users, which means you can keep their record without their seat counting toward your limit.
And if your user size falls somewhere between the tiers, they’re happy to work with you to find a fitting price.
I like it for SMBs because it’s something they can stick with as they grow and it’s not nearly as expensive as other corporate LMS software.
For small and midmarket organizations that are focused on training employees, Looop is a solid choice. Learners get the resources they need at their fingertips, and administrators can monitor progress with very little legwork.
You can try Looop free for seven days, which comes with a live demo to get you started on the right foot. The demo is only about 20-30 minutes long, which gives you an idea of how easy it is to use.
#5 – Docebo — Best LMS software for Enterprise Learning
Docebo is a corporate LMS built from the ground up to serve medium to large enterprises. Learning and development administrators will love how easy the platform is to use, manage, and evolve as new challenges emerge.
First things first, Docebo is pronounced doh-chay-bo. It’s Latin for “I will teach.” Even their name is educational.
It’s best for companies that need to train 300 or more people each month. These could be courses for employees, customers, and partners.
High-growth companies—especially if they are on the verge of outgrowing their existing LMS—will find that Docebo provides the tools they need to scale their learning programs.
Easy content creation, flexible teaching environments, and excellent reporting features allow companies to upskill everyone inside and outside the company. The most common use cases include:
- Compliance training
- Customer training
- Employee development
- Employee onboarding
- Partner training
- Sales enablement
It’s built to ensure that admins and instructors can securely share the information learners need and keep track of their ongoing education. Managers can quickly see how each member of their team is progressing and who may need a little extra help.
In Docebo, managers and admins get the freedom not just to create content, but to customize the user experience for their learners. With the Pages feature, managers can quickly create a unique space for learners that matches the needs of their specific audience and organizes all the relevant resources.
Using the simple drag-and-drop interface, managers can add widgets like calendars, activity feeds, reports, and other features to keep everyone on the same page.
Some of the other features that make Docebo such a good out-of-the-box solution for an enterprise LMS include:
- Unlimited cloud storage
- SSO & integration with IdPs
- 40+ languages supported
- ROI dashboards
- Ecommerce LMS functionality
- Compliance with SCORM, AICC, and xAPI
For those who need it, being able to manage multiple languages on the platform will be critical. Docebo comes with a localization tool that helps you ensure that translations capture your intended meaning.
You’ll have to get in touch with Docebo for pricing, but it’s most certainly geared towards the needs of larger organizations that are growing quickly.
If you need a one-and-done onboarding course, Docebo will be overkill. It works well for extended or ongoing learning programs.
There are no pricing tiers for less than 300 learners a month, so it can be difficult for an SMB to justify the cost of Docebo, regardless of how good it is.
It’s also not intended for K-12 or higher education. The company states this clearly on their website.
If you need corporate LMS software that is going to work at scale, Docebo is the best choice available. Companies like Bose, Amazon Web Services, and WalMart have made it their LMS for a reason.
Get in touch with Docebo today and impress the sales team with your Latin pronunciation.
#6 – Sensei — Best LMS Plugin for WordPress
Sensei is a premium plugin made by WooCommerce that lets people design and sell courses within their WordPress site.
It takes just a few clicks to ingrate Sensei. Now, instead of a blog, you have a classroom with lessons, quizzes, grading, and learner management features.
If you are just interested in sharing your knowledge within an LMS rather than a blog, Sensei has you covered.
Should you want to monetize that venture, just add the WooCommerce Paid Course extension. A few more clicks and now your teaching has become a source of income.
Piano teachers, tutors, professors, even humble bloggers such as myself can build out courses within the WordPress platform as if they’re making a new page or post.
It’s as easy as you think it is. Why? Because Sensei is made by Automattic, the same people who power WordPress, WooCommerce, and other sites that continuously deliver best-in-breed products to their users.
Like their other products, Sensei is an intuitive balance of power and simplicity. There’s a lot you can do in terms of customizing courses, but it’s not overwhelming.
The ease-of-use is passed on to the students, who enjoy a welcoming interface and clear roadmap of what they need to get done. Choosing courses is as easy as shopping on WooCommerce and navigating your site is as easy as clicking around your blog.
The features are not as deep as they are with some of the more robust corporate LMS software, but it has everything an individual needs to get started selling courses, including:
- Lesson, course, and quiz builder
- Image and video uploads
- Integration with WordPress themes
- Learner management and analytics
- Private messaging
Looking at all-in pricing to use Sensei, it breaks down like this:
- SenseiLMS: Free
- WooCommerce Paid Courses: $129/year
- WordPress hosting: starting at $2.95/month with Bluehost
The price of WordPress hosting is going to vary. I recommend going with Bluehost, because it’s affordable and dependable.
All in, the total price is still well below many other LMS software options, most of which would take a lot more effort to set up. And, if you are already paying for WordPress hosting, you simply need to make more than $11 bucks off courses each month to turn a profit.
And if you don’t want to make money sharing your knowledge, you can just use Sensei for free.
Whether you want to make money with what you know or not, Sensei will help you turn your blog into an educational environment. We all love the comment section, but what kind of commitment from your readers will you build by offering interactive courses?
Sensei can help you find out, and may turn into a source of passive income if you can find an audience.
Teaching is hard. Instructors, coaches, mentors and business leaders will all admit that with pride.
How long is a new hire’s honeymoon period where they’re really willing to learn? Or a student, for that matter? How long do you want to wait for that manager to get trained up?
Creating the conditions for learning is always going to be a challenge, but using the right LMS software is going to take a ton of the legwork out.
Everyone can focus on their work instead of fighting with a frustrating system.
K-12 teachers have enough on their plate without having to reinvent the way they instruct. Using Schoology LMS, teachers can stick with what they know and utilize the best-in-class platform to deliver their lessons.
For higher education, D2L Brightspace is going to make student, faculty, and administrator lives much easier. Professors have the flexibility to design the exact online learning experience their courses need without overwhelming students. Administrators get the visibility and control they need to manage a constantly changing environment.
Looking at the corporate LMS software, Looop should be the choice for small business and Docebo for enterprise.
Looop is lighter but still very powerful, and it comes in at a reasonable price point for SMBs who don’t need to train hundreds of people each month.
Docebo, on the other hand, is built to scale with enterprise growth. Learners inside and outside the company are well supported by the platform.
In terms of selling online courses, Tovuti is the complete package. People monetize and deliver engaging content, and the platform is packed with marketing features designed to grow their audience.
For people who are using WordPress to grow their business (something I endorse wholeheartedly), SenseiLMS will let them turn their blog into a classroom. A couple clicks, a little planning, and now their WordPress site is paying for itself.
Do you know which online marketing campaign drives the maximum traffic and business to your website?
Sure, you might be keeping tabs on various referral sources inside your Google Analytics (GA) reports. But, wouldn’t it helpful to have an advanced tracking option that keeps you on top of the marketing campaign that drives maximum traffic for you?
That’s where UTM parameters come into play.
By tagging your URLs with UTMs (Urchin Tracking Module), you can understand how your visitors interact with your website.
Here’s how these UTM parameters appear at the end of your URL.
So, what can these snippets of text tell you, after appending your URLs?
I’ll tell you the traffic aspects you can track in the next section. First, let me tell you one catch associated with them….
UTM parameters are stubborn entities that stick to your links, even when you switch to different networks and mediums.
That means if a visitor picked your link (tagged with a UTM) from Twitter to share on Facebook, it would still count as a share from Twitter.
According to research conducted by BuzzFeed , content actually spreads across the social web in a branching tree pattern.
Research by 33across found that 82% of online sharing is done by copy-pasting URLs. This means that UTMs stick around and can give misleading data for cross-platform social media sharing.
There’s a potential solution – cleaning the URLs by stripping UTM codes at the end, once sharing on one social platform has occurred.
But, if this clean URL then gets shared on private social media (think Email, WhatsApp and Messenger), it appears as direct traffic in your analytics.
Again, this is misleading information – which becomes a part of your dark social traffic.
With this limitation, I just wanted you to understand that UTMs aren’t the end-all solution to understanding the performance of your content.
But, they sure make your marketing campaign picture less chaotic.
So, let’s start with generating custom URLs for your campaign and some UTM best practices. Then, we’ll move on to live UTM use-cases.
But before we dig in deep, let me clearer on the basics.
What Are UTM parameters?
Here’s a succinct and super helpful definition from Kissmetrics:
“UTM parameters are simply tags that you add to a URL. When someone clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, those tags are sent back to your Google Analytics for tracking.”
Are you ready to get going on your UTM campaign and figure out how these insights might shape your marketing effort?
How to Generate URL Parameters With Google’s URL Builder
UTM parameters are a great way to figure out which URLs are most effective in attracting visitors to your content. So, is there a systematic way to append them to your URLs?
Say hello to Google’s URL builder — but there are now three different ones depending on whether you want to track data in GA, Google Play, or the Apple App store.
We’ll look at the one inside the Google Analytics help center (looks like the screenshot below) for setting up your URLs.
Here are the five form fields that you need to complete:
- Campaign Source: The platform (or vendor) where the traffic originates, like Facebook or your email newsletter.
- Campaign Medium: You can use this to identify the medium like Cost Per Click (CPC), social media, affiliate, or QR code.
- Campaign Term: You’ll use this mainly for tracking your keywords during a paid AdWords campaign. You can also use it in your display ad campaigns to identify aspects of your audience.
- Campaign Content: If you’re A/B testing ads, then this is a useful metric that passes details about your ad. You can also use it to differentiate links that point to the same URL.
- Campaign Name: This is just to identify your campaign. Like your website or specific product promotion. Here’s an example screenshot with the campaign names you might see when you navigate to Traffic Sources >> Sources >> Campaigns.
You can also use the Effin amazing UTM Builder Chrome extension (now called UTM.io) to create UTMs. It auto-populates the URL and saves your most used terms as presets.
UTM Parameter Best Practices
Here are three best practices that you must follow for tagging your URLs. It will help you easily identify where traffic comes from.
1. Create Standard Naming Convention for UTM Parameters
If you stay consistent, you can avoid a lot of confusion and ensure that your UTMs are reportable.
First, use dashes over underscores, percentage (representation for spaces inside GA), and plus signs in your URLs. Google algorithm doesn’t penalize you for using them and they work better – Matt Cutts explains why here.
Second, stay consistent with lowercase throughout all of your campaigns. For example,
utm_source=LinkedIn is different from utm_source=linkedin.
Changing to uppercase, camel case, or any other capitalization gives you an additional responsibility of remembering this convention. So, it’s better to stick with lowercase and not let human error creep in.
Third, keep your URLs clean, descriptive, non-redundant and easy to read.
For example, you might mistakenly put the same values inside source and medium parameters.
Or, you can put the specific originating aspect under medium (like the example below), but still manage to confuse yourself with the double use of ‘facebook.’
The best way is to simply make the UTMs flow like a normal sentence sans any redundancy. See how easy it is to decipher your campaign details in the URL below.
The traffic source is Facebook with post as the medium and a part of the new admin dashboard 2014 April campaign.
Here is a visual summary of the points I just mentioned.
Note: Once you’ve taken sufficient time to create data-rich URLs, I recommended that you shorten them, using tools like bit.ly or Google Link Shortener. A long and bulky URL does not make for a good user experience and might even come across as spammy.
Also, the UTM parameters are visible to the users in their address bars. So, be transparent and don’t use values that you don’t want to be seen by the user.
2. Track Your UTM Links Inside a Spreadsheet
Keeping a record of the tagged links will ensure that your marketing team stays on the same page. You can use this free spreadsheet template by Sam Wiltshire or this free link tagging tool by Rafflecopter to get started.
Additionally, create a naming convention guide document that lays out clear instructions for tagging links. This can be an iterative and expanding guide – if you come across a new scenario, you can add the example to this document.
3. Next Steps After Establishing a UTM System
The most important aspect for a business isn’t the number of clicks and traffic generated by various sources; it’s revenue.
So, once you know your way around UTMs, it’s useful to connect your tracking data with your CRM. It shows you a clear picture of how various online marketing channels are affecting your bottom line.
Alternatively, you can also set up goals inside GA. For example, if you want to measure reader loyalty and engagement, I show you the process in this article.
I recommend, though, that you track more concrete conversion-focused metrics, like leads generated and email signups.
Alright, now that you’re aware of these best practices, let’s talk about when to use UTM parameters.
Where to Use UTM Parameters
Here are tjree UTM parameter use cases you can implement right away.
1. Insert UTM Parameters to Social Media Links
Suppose you want to find your highest ROI-yielding social media platform and which links on that platform perform the best, traffic-wise. Then, UTMs can help you analyze your social media referral traffic.
For example, on Twitter, you have four options to promote your links – a regular tweet, a promoted tweet, a website field, a and profile/bio description.
Barring the profile link (since it displays the first part of the URL you enter), you can track all of these link clicks separately.
Here are example UTM parameter strings, based on Twitter with different medium values.
Once you’ve generated a custom URL, you can shorten the link, using shorteners I mentioned earlier and save the precious 160 character real estate.
Similarly, on Facebook, you can create separate UTM links for promoted posts, profile contact info, posts in a group, organic posts from your page and more. Kristin Hines shares UTM parameters for major social media here.
Once you start getting data and if you create goals (as I mentioned in the best practice 3 above), then you’ll get an enriching GA report like the one below.
2. Test Clicks From Your Email Newsletters
Want to understand the parameters inside your newsletter that contribute the majority of traffic to your website?
Then, appending UTMs to your URLs can help.
Let’s look at an example instant update email by Redfin.
All of the links inside the above email share these UTM parameters:
utm_campaign : instant_listings_update
utm_medium : email
utm_source : myredfin
But, Redfin has correctly set up different utm_content values for all of their links (the screenshot above displays the unique values for each link). So, even when the subscribers of the myredfin list go to the same page, redfin knows the link they have clicked.
Now, let’s look at a bad example of UTM.
Here’s an email from Pinterest, recommending certain boards to follow.
As you can see, every board has an author, 5 images and a follow board CTA.
All of the above links share the following UTM parameters:
utm_campaign : weekly_wkly_130722
utm_medium : email
utm_source : sendgrid.com
Note that the utm_camapign value at 13 07 22 represents the date it was sent on (22/07/2013). It’s a useful piece of information.
But, other than that, Pinterest fails to impress with its UTM implementation.
- There’s no way to find out the specific images and CTA buttons inside the email where the audience clicks. So, Pinterest doesn’t even know which of their “Follow Boards” buttons work well. The utm_content can be employed to gain this insight.
- The utm_campaign value adds a confusing overhead with double usage of ‘weekly’ and ‘wkly.’ And, sendgrid.com as utm_source does not add any value, from an analytics perspective. It’s the email service provider that Pinterest uses and they are already aware of that.
I recommend that check out the UTM analysis of 8 more companies, by Puru Choudhary, here.
You can further implement UTM parameters inside your email signature to track if it leads visitors to your website.
Gniewko Oblicki created a company-wide signature template, appending UTM parameters. Here’s how it looks in CodeTwo Exchange Rules HTML editor.
He ran five footer campaigns in the company and found that users engaged incredibly well on their website. Here’s the GA report showing the results of 1682 sessions initiated by the five campaigns.
3. Track the Most Effective Banner Advertisements
If you regularly perform paid marketing, then I am sure you would like to know the banner ads that perform the best.
With UTMs, you can not only find out the external website that brings the most traffic, but you can even find out the banner placement, design, size, color and banner types that are most effective.
For example, suppose you use two banner sizes, 300px and 600px, for advertising on a third-party website, Koozai.
Here’s how the UTM might look if it is 300 px wide.
Here’s how it would look when it is 600 px wide.
Once you’ve tagged both sizes, you can easily find the one that’s more effective and double down on it.
Kristi uses 320px banner ads in her blog’s sidebar. And, here’s how they perform against other clicks on her eBook.
Once again, I want to emphasize that if you’ve set up goals inside GA, then you can find the most valuable piece of info that affects your business.
For example, Kristi navigated to ‘Goal Set 1’ to find out how her banner ad converts to sales. And, she can compare it with her eBook sales through other links.
To recap here, to create UTM parameters for your links, use Google’s URL builder. It’ll help you start campaign tracking. And, remember to keep the best practices in mind as you do so.
Have you ever used UTM parameters for campaign tracking? Did it lead to insights about building a custom campaign? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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There are so many different types of business loans out there, it can be hard to figure out which type you actually need. Even harder is figuring out which type you actually qualify for. For example, if you need to buy new equipment, equipment loans would seem to be the way to go, right? Even then, do you go with SBA loans, traditional loans, private lenders?
SBA Loans for Equipment Loans: When Do You Need One and What to Do When You Don’t Qualify
The truth is, it’s not always so simple. Sometimes, traditional loans work best for equipment purchases. However, there are occasions when other options may fit your specific situation. But, when are those times? Furthermore, what are the other options?
Credit Line Hybrid Financing: Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.
Equipment loans, whether SBA loans or not, are loans that are secured by the equipment being financed. For example, if you bought a new industrial freezer and financed it with an equipment loan, then the freezer would serve as collateral for that loan.
The beauty of equipment loans is that you get the lower interest rates and better terms that typically come with secured financing. The problem is, that isn’t always enough to qualify.
SBA Loans for Equipment: What Qualifies as Equipment?
Equipment is not attached to the property, but the assets are longer term generally speaking. This includes things like heavy duty copy machines, industrial freezers and ovens, and more. These things can be used as collateral to secure a loan to purchase them.
SBA Loans for Equipment: When Do Equipment Loans Work Better Than Other Loans?
Using the equipment as security doesn’t get you out of needing to meet requirements like minimum credit score and income. However, if you do meet these requirements and therefore qualify for the loan, the collateral can help you snag better terms. Interest rates will almost definitely be lower, depending on other factors.
SBA Loans for Equipment: Other Options for Equipment Loans?
What if you don’t meet traditional requirements for equipment loans? There are other options.
SBA Loans: Options for Equipment Loans
The SBA has a few loans programs that work well for equipment financing.
This is the main program at the Small Business Administration. Through it, borrowers can get federally funded term loans up to $5 million. This money is available for expansion, working capital, and other things as well as, purchasing equipment. Banks, credit unions, and other specialized institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and disburse the cash.
The minimum credit score to qualify is 680. There is also a required down payment of at least 10% for the purchase of a business, commercial real estate, or equipment. The minimum time in business is 2 years. In the case of startups, business experience equivalent to two years will work.
This is the most popular SBA loan program. THis is due in part to the fact that funds are allowed to be used toward a broad range of projects, including buying equipment.
The 504 loan program offers loans up to $5 million. Money can buy equipment, as well as facilities or land. Generally, these loans are used for expansion. Private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse the funds. This program works well for commercial real estate purchases especially, but also for equipment.
Terms for 504 Loans range from 10 to 20 years, and funding can take from 30 to 90 days. They require a minimum credit score of 680, and collateral is the asset it is financing. There is also a down payment requirement of 10%, which can increase to 15% for a new business.
There is a requirement you be in business at least 2 years, or that management has equivalent experience if the business is a startup.
Credit Line Hybrid Financing: Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive
Microloans are just what they sound like. They are small loans, up to $50,000, that can be used to purchase equipment, start a business, buy inventory, or just as working capital. Community based non-profits administer microloan programs as intermediaries. The financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. They can take upwards of 90 days to fund, and the minimum credit score is 640.
Credit Line Hybrid
If SBA loans will not work for your equipment needs, a credit line hybrid might. It allows you to fund your business without putting up collateral. Furthermore,you only pay back what you use. It is unsecured, no-doc funding. That means you do not have to turn in any financials.
How hard is it to qualify? Not as hard as you may think. You need good personal credit, but that is relative. Your personal credit score should be at least 685, which is lower than what is required by most traditional lenders. In addition, you can’t have any liens, judgments, bankruptcies or late payments.
Also, in the past 6 months you should have fewer than 5 credit inquiries. You need to have less than a 45% balance on all business and personal credit cards as well. It’s preferred that you have established business credit, but not absolutely necessary.
Now, if you don’t meet all of the requirements, you can take on a credit partner that does. Many business owners work with a friend or relative to fund their business. If a relative or a friend meets all of these requirements, they can partner with you to allow you to tap into their credit to access funding.
Credit Line Hybrid Benefits
There are a ton of benefits to using a credit line hybrid. Most notably, it is unsecured, meaning you do not have to have any collateral to put up. Then, as mentioned, the funding is “no-doc.” This means you do not have to provide any bank statements or financials.
Not only that, but typically approval is up to 5x that of the highest credit limit on the personal credit report. Additionally, often you can get interest rates as low as 0% for the first few months, allowing you to put that savings back into your business.
The process is pretty fast. One other benefit is this. The approval for multiple credit cards creates competition. This makes it easier, and even likely if you handle the credit responsibly, that you can get interest rates lowered and limits raised every few months.
Online Lenders for Equipment Loans?
Another option if SBA loans will not work is an online lender. This is especially true if your personal credit score isn’t great.
Even if you have great business credit, most term loans and many lines of credit require a personal credit check. They may take your business credit into account, but if your personal credit stinks, it won’t help you much. Online lenders tend to have lower minimum personal credit score requirements than traditional lenders.
An added benefit is, an online lender will typically send you the funds faster. Sometimes you can have the money in as little as a few days, with approval coming in as little as 24 hours.
An Online Lender Could be the Answer to Your Funding Needs
If you can go with a traditional lender, great. They often have better rates and terms. However, if you, like many business owners, do not have that option, an online lender may be the perfect solution for equipment financing. Approval requirements allow many more borrowers to get their funds quickly and easily. Take into account the following factors:
- How much do you need?
- What do you need the funds for?
- What is your credit score?
- How much of a payment/ interest rate can your budget handle?
It’s also important to note, there are a lot of predatory lenders online. You have to be careful. The list above is a great starting point, but don’t stop there. There are a lot of options, so be sure to research.
Some of our Our Best Picks for Online Lenders
Founded in 2008 by college roommates, online lender Fora Financial now funds more than $1.3 million in working capital around the United States. There is no minimum credit score, and there is an early repayment discount if you qualify.
The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000. The business must be at least 6 months in operation and the monthly revenue has to be $12,000 or more. There can be no open bankruptcies.
Obtaining financing from OnDeck is quick and easy. First, you apply online and receive your decision once application processing is complete. If you receive approval, your loan funds will go directly to your bank account. The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000.
Just like any other online lender, they do have certain requirements to qualify for a loan. For example, a personal credit score of 600 or more. Also, you must be in business for at least one year. Annual revenue must be at or exceed $100,000. In addition, there can be no bankruptcy on file in the past 2 years and no unresolved liens or judgements.
Kabbage is an online lender. They offer a small business line of credit that can help businesses meet their goals quickly. The minimum loan amount is $500, and they do not exceed $250,000. You must be in business for at least one year and have $50,000 or more in annual revenue, or $4,200 or more in monthly revenue, over the last 3 months.
Kabbage is great if you need cash quickly. Also, their non-traditional approach puts less weight on your credit score, so they may work better for some borrowers than other lenders.
Rates start at 6% and go up to 22%. APR works out to 8 to 25%, and there is a 3 to 5 % origination fee.
Advantages are the soft credit pull and the fact that they will look at factors other than your personal credit if your FICO score is low. Another benefit is that Bond Street can offer very large loans if you qualify. Disadvantages are the longer time in business requirement and high APR.
Credit Line Hybrid Financing: Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.
Popular online lender Lending Club offers term loans. Business loans from $5,000 to $300,000. Loan terms are 1 to 5 years.
Get a quote in less than 5 minutes. Funds are available in as little as 48 hours if approved. There are no prepayment penalties.
Annual Revenue must be $75,000 or more. You must be in business for 2 years or more. Personal FICO score of 620 or better is required.
Rates of 5.99% to 29.99%. Total annualized rates starting at 8%.
Advantages are that the annual revenue requirement isn’t too high. Funds are available quickly. Disadvantages include high maximum rates.
- In business for more than 3 years
- At least $500,000 in annual revenue
- No federal tax liens
- 680 FICO for personal Guarantor
- Positive book value (assets > liabilities)
SBA Loans are Just One Way to Finance Equipment
Traditional equipment loans are the lowest cost way to finance equipment. They won’t work for everyone though. If they will not work for you, there are other options. The SBA offers loan programs that work well for equipment financing, and online lenders can be a possibility as well.
Perhaps the most unique and under-utilized option is the credit line hybrid. When you use this option, you do not have to use the equipment as collateral, and sometimes you can get 0% interest, at least initially.
It will likely take some time to figure out which option for equipment loans will work best for your business. The first step is finding out that there are, in fact, options.
Let Us Show You the Foolproof Way to Get Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession
Do you know how to get business credit cards for bad credit in a recession? According to the SBA, small business credit card limits are 10 – 100 times those of personal cards! This means you can get a lot more money with business credit. And it also means you can have personal credit cards at shops, and now have an additional card at the same retail stores for your business. And you won’t need collateral, cash flow, or financial information to get small business credit.
In a recession, banks are understandably less inclined to loan. So get your funding on credit! Check out our stellar choices.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession
Brex Card for Startups
Look into the Brex Card for Startups. It has no annual fee.
You will not need to supply your Social Security number to apply. And you will not need to provide a personal guarantee. They will take your EIN.
Nevertheless, they do not accept every industry.
Additionally, there are some industries they will not work with, as well as others where they want more documentation. For a list, go here: https://brex.com/legal/prohibited_activities/.
To determine creditworthiness, Brex checks a company’s cash balance, spending patterns, and investors.
You can get 7x points on rideshare. Get 4x on Brex Travel. Likewise, get triple points on restaurants. And get double points on recurring software payments. Get 1x points on everything else.
You can have poor credit (even a 300 FICO) to qualify.
Find it here: https://brex.com/lp/startups-higher-limits/
Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession and Pay No Annual Fee
No Yearly Fee/Flat Rate Cash Back
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Take a look at the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card. Past no annual fee, get an introductory 0% APR for the initial twelve months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.
You can earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back rewards on every purchase made for your company. And get $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. You can redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more using Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You will need excellent credit scores to receive this card.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession and Get a 0% Introductory APR – Pay Absolutely Nothing!
Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Check out the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. It has no annual fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the first twelve months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.
Get double Membership Rewards® points on day to day business purchases like office supplies or client suppers for the initial $50,000 spent per year. Get 1 point per dollar afterwards.
You will need good to superb credit scores to qualify.
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
Also check out the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card. Note: the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card is identical to the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. But its rewards are in cash as opposed to points.
Get 2% cash back on all qualified purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year. After that get 1%.
It has no yearly fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the initial one year. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.
You will need great to outstanding credit to qualify.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession: Yes, You Can!
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business
Check out the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business. It has no yearly fee. There is no introductory APR offer. The regular APR is a variable 24.49%. You can earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your company, with no minimum to redeem.
While this card is within reach if you have fair credit, beware of the APR. However if you can pay in a timely manner, and completely, then it’s a bargain.
Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession and Get Flexible Financing – Have A Look at Your Options!
The Plum Card® from American Express
Have a look at the Plum Card® from American Express. It has an introductory yearly fee of $0 for the first year. After that, pay $250 annually.
Get a 1.5% early pay discount cash back bonus when you pay within 10 days. You can take up to 60 days to pay without interest when you pay the minimum due by the payment due date.
You will need excellent to outstanding credit to qualify.
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession and Get Cash Back
Capital One ® Spark® Cash for Business
Take a look at the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business. It has an introductory $0 yearly fee for the first year. After that, this card costs $95 annually. There is no introductory APR offer. The regular APR is a variable 18.49%.
You can get a $500 one-time cash bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. Get unlimited 2% cash back. Redeem at any time with no minimums.
You will need good to outstanding credit scores to qualify.
Flat-Rate Rewards and No Annual Fee
Discover it® Business Card
Check out the Discover it® Business Card. It has no yearly fee. There is an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for year. Then the regular APR is a variable 14.49 – 22.49%.
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no category restrictions or bonuses. They double the 1.5% Cashback Match™ at the end of the first year. There is no minimal spend requirement.
You can download transactions| easily to Quicken, QuickBooks, and Excel. Note: you will need good to excellent credit to qualify for this card.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Take a look at the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. It has no yearly fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%. You can get a $500 one-time cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.
You can get 5% cash back on the initial $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on net, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year.
Get 2% cash back on the initial $25,000 spent in combined purchases at filling stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Get 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is no restriction to the amount you can get.
You will need superb credit to get approval for this card.
Boosted Cash Back Categories
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards MasterCard® credit card
Check out the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards MasterCard® credit card. Get an 0% introductory APR for the initial 9 billing cycles of the account. After that, the APR is 13.74% – 23.74% variable. There is no yearly fee. You can get a $300 statement credit offer.
Get 3% cash back in the category of your choice. So these are gasoline stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services. Earn 2% cash back on dining. So this is for the initial $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year. Then get 1% after, with no limits.
You will need outstanding credit scores to qualify.
Find it here: https://promo.bankofamerica.com/smallbusinesscards2/
Apply for Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession and Get Irresistible Jackpot Rewards That Never Expire
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
Have a look at the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business. It has no yearly fee. You can get 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is no limit on the cash back you can get. Also get a one-time $200 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the initial 3 months. Rewards never expire.
So you pay a 0% introductory APR for 9 months. Then pay 14.49% – 22.49% variable APR after that.
You will need great to outstanding credit scores to qualify.
Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
The Perfect Way to Get Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession
Your absolute best way to apply for business credit cards for bad credit in a recession will hinge on your credit history and scores.
Only you can select which features you want and need. So make sure to do your homework. What is excellent for you could be catastrophic for others.
So, as always, make sure to develop credit in the recommended order for the best, speediest benefits.
The economy is bound to change again – and your chances to get these cards will increase. Then you can apply for business credit cards for bad credit in a recession, and beyond!
The post Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit in a Recession appeared first on Credit Suite.