Celebrating One Year of Zoho Campaigns. With an even better Free Plan!

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It all started with an idea – an idea to make customer engagement and communication easy for businesses. At Zoho, we already had the perfect CRM system to manage customer data. Next, we wanted to make it easy to reach out and engage customers, and also measure the effectiveness of this engagement. This, was the beginning of Zoho Campaigns!
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Today marks a year since the official launch of Zoho Campaigns. Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time listening to customers, understanding requirements, learning industry trends and making changes wherever required. This approach also helped us gain insights to many email-marketing areas like deliverability, autoresponders and spam prevention.

There’s one behavior that we observed about beginners in email marketing – the small businesses and the startups. They take time to figure out the perfect email marketing plan, the size of a mailing list and the number of emails that’ll be required to attract and retain customers. We understand that email and mailing-list limits should not stop you from trying out an email marketing software.

That’s why we’re increasing the number of emails and contacts in the Free Plan. So now you get 1000 contacts and 5000 emails per month in the Forever Free Plan. If you’re an existing customer in the Free Plan, don’t worry, your email and contact limits get enhanced too. You can check this limit in your Zoho Campaigns dashboard.

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Small Business Stories You Might Have Missed

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iStock_000015589126XSmallWelcome back to our ongoing series geared toward getting you the stories and information you need to improve your small business. As a small business owner, you can never stop reading about the state of the market or learning new ways to improve and expand. That’s where we come in.

So in case you didn’t have a chance to read the tens of thousands of articles or Facebook posts since our last installment, here are some of the most useful and interesting stories we came across.

Getting the Most from Your Blog

Blogs used to be the butt of a number of jokes that usually revolved around an unemployed “writer” in his or her parent’s basement eating Cheetos or Twinkies. However, this is far from the truth. Blogs have since become an essential part of a business’ SEO value and overall online presence.

Getting a blog is no problem. Providing quality, shareable content three to five days a week is the challenge. This article from Search Engine Journal addresses this very issue. From organizing thoughts and ideas in an editorial calendar to simple tips on coming up with blog post ideas, you will immediately improve your company’s blog overnight. Read more

Customer Spotlight: Transforming from a “Hustle” to a Successful Business

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In December 2011, Jamar Jones decided it was time to take his company, Deluxe Signature Collection (DSC), to the next level.  Having been in business for almost five years, he felt that DSC had hit its earnings ceiling based on their current business practices.

“We started six years ago, but over the last year we’ve really tried to transform from a ‘hustle’ to a scalable business by putting systems and processes in place.”

Jones felt that the number one barrier limiting DSC’s growth was that he wasn’t efficient enough in communicating to customers which was therefore limiting his sales volume.  As such, he began the search for tools to assist in organizing his business to increase scalability.

The Business

Deluxe Signature Collection (DSC) specializes in the procurement and sale of quality sports memorabilia and the production of elite, public signing engagements.  DSC is headquartered in Southern California and aims to employ progressive business strategies to deliver intimate customer engagement and high quality events. Read more

Introducing : Timetracking for your bugs

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A typical work day of a team member in a software development team :

You’re a team member in charge of a performance module and currently working on few critical bugs that needs to be delivered for a customer before this weekend.

Here’s how you can effectively use Zoho BugTracker to organize and fix bugs fast :

  • Create a business rule with module as Performance and severity as Critical. All the bugs with this module name and severity gets automatically assigned to you in Zoho BugTracker
  • There needs to be a way to categorize these reported bugs. Our BugTracker allows you to easily categorize them as open, to be analyzed, to be tested and add more Custom Status using Status and Workflow option under Bug Settings
  • Once categorized you can Sort and View bugs based on due or created date in the Bugs View. You can create a new custom field called This Week and use Bulk Update option to select and update the bugs to be fixed for This Week and you’re done. Every day when you login you can see the bugs progress in the Feeds panel under In Progress view.
  • As the weekend approaches, you need to record the entire week’s efforts. For this, make use of Weekly timesheets to record the time spent to fix the bugs for this particular customer and of course you can also Generate Invoices using Zoho Invoice and follow for payments.
  • If you wish to notify your Boss you can do so by adding him or her as Follower to know what you have been working on.
  • Finally, if you want you can deactivate this business rule using Activate or Deactivate option under Business Rules.

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Less Noise; More Signal – Get Focused Responses Using Zoho Survey

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Since Zoho Survey’s launch, we have been working on bringing out features based on the many suggestions and comments from users to give them more control for collecting responses. Now, a month later, we happily announce three new features that will help you get focused responses to your surveys.

Update submitted responses at any time

Every online user has a limited attention time span. So if your survey is lengthy with a few essay questions thrown in, it needs to be given much time and thought. Then it might just call for some breathing time in between the survey for your participants.

prevent multiple responsesThe good news is that your participants can not only pause and come back later to complete the survey, but also update their responses at any time even after submitting the survey.

Blank fields are not of much help to you. So by allowing respondents to alter their conclusions later, they are more likely to give you focused answers rather than vague responses. For instance, if you had asked for the warranty period of the product that the participants are currently using and if they were not sure about it at the time of submission, they can always go back to the question and update the field.

Address selective audience using passwords
Want only invitees to take part in your survey? The publish tab will enlist the restrictions you can set for your survey before it is set to be published.

password protectYou now have the option to password-protect your surveys which participants can access only by authorizing themselves with a password.

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Petition against them, hate them, or wish them dead; passwords are here to stay for long!

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In the last two weeks, the Petition Against Passwords movement launched by a group of US-based companies that sell password-less technology has been gaining widespread media attention across the world. Their mission is to collect every frustrated yell at forgotten passwords and make sure the organizations responsible hear them.

In the RSA conference in San Francisco early this year, James DeLuccia’s Passwords are dead created quite a buzz. At the conference, Zoho’s sister division ManageEngine demonstrated its Enterprise Password Management Solution, Password Manager Pro, and almost all the  visitors to our stand quipped: “They are talking about the death of passwords and you are demonstrating password management!

death-of-passwordsSo, we hear the vox populi loud and clear: Clearly, people are fed up with passwords. With the proliferation of online applications, a variety of passwords occupy each aspect of our life. Remembering dozens of passwords is impossible; storing them only invites trouble and managing them manually is a pain. With high-profile security breaches involving stolen online identities, all of us want to be rid of passwords. So, when someone talks about replacing  passwords, it’s only natural for people to get interested.

But, the million-dollar question is: Do we have viable alternatives if the passwords die finally?

Before going any further, here is some history on ‘death of passwords’:

For over a decade now, people have been discussing the death of passwords. In the same RSA conference in 2004, Bill Gates, the Chairman of Microsoft predicted the death of passwords. In 2006, he said that the end to passwords was at sight. Not just Bill Gates, but many other luminaries and industry analysts have been predicting the death of passwords.

However, in reality, the predictions haven’t yet materialized. Passwords are still the most prominent method of authentication till date. Alternatives to passwords, such as biometric authentication, iris authentication, facial  authentication, various forms of multi-factor authentications, and even  authentication through items like watches, jewellery, and  electronic tattoos, are all being discussed. Active research is also on to formulate better alternatives.

However, none of the alternative approaches have been viable for various reasons. Firstly,  passwords are very easy to create and are absolutely free.  Whereas, the alternate models are mostly expensive, require  additional hardware  components, are difficult to integrate with the  existing environment, and are not easy to use.

Interestingly, some of these alternative authentication methods have been cracked  even before they could be adopted widely.  Few years ago, a group  of researchers hacked faces in biometric facial authentication systems by using phony photos of legitimate users.

As  on date, a viable replacement for traditional passwords is not in sight! We may get one in the future, though. But, it will require considerable time for the new mechanism to be accepted and adopted. That means, traditional passwords are not going to die anytime soon; they are going to be around for  a while.

Passwords are not the problem; their management is

While raising our voices against passwords, we overlook the actual problem, which is poor password management. Due to the inability to remember passwords, users tend to use and reuse simple passwords everywhere. Users store passwords in text files and post-it notes; share credentials  among the team members; and pass them over emails or by word of mouth. Real access controls do not exist and passwords of sensitive resources and  applications remain unchanged for ages. Such bad password management practices invite security issues and other problems.

Use a password manager

While  the research to find an alternative to passwords continues, it would be prudent to deploy a password manager to safeguard your data. With a password manager, you can secure all your passwords in a  centralized repository; use strong, unique passwords without worrying about remembering them; automate and enforce password management best practices; control access to resources and applications; keep track of activities; and do much more.

If you are wondering which password manager to use, take a look at Zoho Vault.