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Your website is a sitting duck.

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Woman sues 175 business owners over websites (We can help you avoid this.)

Critics call it “legal extortion,” now targeting small business owners who feel they are “sitting ducks” for ADA lawsuits regarding their websites that are not accessible to some with disabilities. 

Last year, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of a 181 percent from 2017, according to website accessibility company UsableNet. The majority of lawsuits originate in Florida and New York.

“The attorneys are telling us, ‘You can’t fight this. There’s nothing you can do, just write them a check,'” said Ben Tundis, owner of Island Comfort Footwear in the Westfield Countryside Mall in Clearwater.

Tundis is one of 175 business owners sued by Emily Fuller, of Broward County, a visually-impaired woman holding businesses accountable if they have websites that are not ADA compliant. Fuller, in her lawsuit filed Jan. 4, claims that she was not able to use the recently launched website of Tundis’ shoe store.

Fuller uses a screen reader to use the Internet and claims the shoe store’s website lacked coding that would communicate with her software. This excluded her from shopping on the website, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit.

Lawsuits like this one are being filed by the stackful, typically by one plaintiff working with a handful of lawyers who are gaining notoriety for these types of cases.

South Florida attorneys Pelayo Duran and Roderick Hannah represent Fuller. Duran tells 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken that clients like Fuller are providing a needed service for society to ensure that websites are ADA compliant and accessible to all.

“It’s a very good thing for society that plaintiffs like Ms. Fuller are providing,” Duran said. “I want to make sure you understand that it’s not about attacking small businesses.”

Fuller has gone after big names, such as Sephora, Helzberg Diamonds, The Home Depot and Chick-fil-A, claiming their websites are not ADA compliant. Some of her recent cases are against the Clearwater shoe store, an activewear boutique in Orlando called Sassy Pants and Tampa Sportservice Inc, the company that runs a store that sells Tampa Bay Lightning apparel inside Amalie Arena.

In most cases, private businesses can’t be sued for damages, under the ADA, says Anastasia Protopapadakis, an ADA defense attorney with the Miami firm Gray-Robinson. Businesses are sued for attorney fees and compliance. Businesses who agree to settlements or lose their cases must pay attorney fees and agree to become ADA compliant within a set amount of time, she said.Some legal experts, and even some advocates for the disabled say plaintiff lawyers are taking advantage of businesses that don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. Instead of reaching out to the businesses and asking for compliance, they sue.

Protopapadakis calls these lawsuits, “corporate extortion” and urges business owners to take a serious look at their websites and make sure that a person with visual or hearing disabilities can use their site.

She said most businesses faced with this type of lawsuit settle the case for attorney fees and compliance. That’s because that is cheaper than litigation.

Experts say these lawsuits are typically settled for between a couple of thousand dollars and $20,000 but could cost much more if defendants chose to fight in court.  Spearhead Multimedia can help you avoid this for usually under $1000.

“Any case appealed to the 11th Circuit has not gone the defendants’ way,” Protopapadakis said.

Protopapadakis said while plaintiffs don’t receive money for damages, some do receive money in exchange for keeping settlement details confidential.

Further frustrating businesses, there are no federal regulations to give businesses a checklist of what they must do to make their websites ADA accessible. The ADA was established in 1990, before websites like we have today. One thing is clear, though, courts have ruled that most websites must be accessible under the ADA.

While there are no clear regulations pertaining to websites in the ADA, courts have recognized web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), created by an international consortium of volunteers.

Some of the requirements:

  • Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
  • There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
  • Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.

These are requirements that every website should have under the ADA, said Chris Danielsen, of the National Federation of the Blind.

Danielsen, who is blind, said he uses screen-reader software every day to access the Internet and runs into problems on a regular basis because websites lack the appropriate coding.

However, he said mass lawsuits, especially those filed by one plaintiff with an attorney, concern him. He said negotiation and education should come first. He also feels that settlements should not be confidential, so the public knows the terms and knows the plan for accessibility for each site.

“Rather than spraying businesses with a firehose of litigation, a much more thoughtful and transparent approach would be a better form of advocacy,” Danielsen said.

Danielsen recommends business owners make sure their website developers know how to make your website compatible. There are several companies that specialize in website compatibility. The National Federation of the Blind has resources on its website to help businesses. Locally, the Lighthouse for the Blind can review websites and offer guidance.

So, who must be accessible? That depends on where the business is located. In the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Florida, websites that are connected to a physical store must be accessible to those who are visually and hearing impaired.

Accessibility can get costly, depending on what type of website you have, and whether you do it when you first develop the website or later, said Teresa Huber, president of Get ADA Accessible, which focuses on website accessibility. We can make your site accessible to those with disabilities for less than you think. Visit our Website Accessibility Facebook page for more details.

She said a simple, 10-page website would cost about $1,600 for a firm like hers to audit and identify accessibility issues. The cost of fixing the website would depend on deficiencies, she said. Spearhead Multimedia uses a different approach for less than $100, usually around $500. Get your estimate today.

One small business recently sued by Emily Fuller is Sassy Pants Active Wear Boutique in Orlando. Owner Donna Anthony says she hasn’t been served the lawsuit yet, but she is concerned.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought a website would have to have accommodations,” Anthony said. “My builder knew about ADA compliance for my physical location. My web developer did not.” At Spearhead Multimedia, we’re on the forefront of WCAG 2.1 AA and will help you make your website accessible to those with disabilities. Contact us today, it’s less expensive than you think.

 

 

Give Google’s Chrome browser a major speed boost with one click

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With more than 64% of the global market as of last month, Google’s Chrome browser is by far the most popular desktop web browser by a massive margin. The next closest is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and its global market share totalled less than 11% in December 2018. Chrome is the browser of choice for so many reasons, not the least of which are things like simplicity and speed. When it comes to speed though, things aren’t always straightforward. Chrome is typically lightning fast when loading webpages, but your browser speed can really take a hit when there are tons of tabs open. I know I pretty much always have tons of tabs open.

Here’s the explanation and download link:

How it works
Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

When your tabs are in the OneTab list, you will save up to 95% of memory because you will have reduced the number of tabs open in Google Chrome.

Privacy assurance
We take your privacy seriously. Your tab URLs are never transmitted or disclosed to either the OneTab developers or any other party, and icons for tab URL domains are generated by Google. The only exception to this is if you intentionally click on our ‘share as a web page’ feature that allows you to upload your list of tabs into a web page in order to share them with others. Tabs are never shared unless you specifically use the ‘share as a web page’ button.

How do you make money?
OneTab is free of charge and is not designed to make money. It was created because we badly *needed* it for our own use, and we wanted to share it with the world.

Additional Benefits
Depending on how many scripts are running inside your tabs, moving them to OneTab can also speed up your computer by reducing the CPU load. We have also had reports that this also contributes to your computer resuming from sleep more quickly.

More Features
OneTab lets you easily export and import your tabs as a list of URLs. You can also create a web page from your list of tabs, so that you can easily share your tabs with other people, other computers, or with your smartphone or tablet.

You can drag and drop tabs in your OneTab list to reorder them. You can also hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key while restoring tabs and they will remain in your OneTab list (meaning you can use OneTab as a way of quickly launching a set of commonly used tabs). OneTab supports retina displays. Note that OneTab is designed to leave in place any ‘pinned’ tabs you have.

You will not lose your list of tabs if you accidentally close the OneTab window, if your browser crashes, or if restart your computer.

2018 Update: We’ve been working like crazy to make OneTab much much better – including implementing lots of your feature suggestions. We’re full time on it now and have great momentum. Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback, please keep it coming.

Download One Tab for free

How will you engage with your customers in 2019?

Spearhead-Multimedia-Email-Marketing-Services

At Spearhead Multimedia, we’ve been doing email marketing for over 20 years and it continues to hold the top spot for marketing to your best salespeople, your very own customers.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools for small businesses. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the United States.

This is because email marketing is easy to manage, gives you full control, and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers.

Not convinced on email marketing? See these 6 reasons why building an email list is so important in 2019.

It’s important to understand that a lot of your success with email marketing depends entirely on the email marketing software you choose because they are responsible for making sure that your emails actually get delivered.

If you aren’t careful, then you will end up paying a lot more money for fewer features and terrible deliverability (which causes you to lose even more money).

A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails. It also allows you to manage your contacts, segment users into groups, and track the performance of your email campaigns.

Most importantly, a good email marketing service ensures that your emails do not end up in the spam folder.

We at Spearhead Multimedia recommend Constant Contact.  We’ve been creating successful email campaigns for clients and ourselves since 1999.
We have watched them respond to changing trends and customer’s needs.  They are a top tier email marketing company and have one of the highest email success rates in the industry.constant-contact-logo

Constant Contact is one of the largest and fastest growing email marketing services in the world. It is also the easiest to use and beginner friendly email marketing service.

You can easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendar, and more.  At Spearhead Multimedia, most of our clients have us help collect and sort their contacts, create branded emails and provide the reporting, all done through Constant Contact.

Your account provides access to easy tracking and reporting, built-in social media sharing tools, free image library, list segmentation, Facebook ads integration, and a powerful eCommerce integration for Shopify stores. We will set up automated opt-in forms on your website to help build your customer list.

Their Email Plus accounts also come with powerful features like email automation, surveys & polls, coupons, online donations, and subject line A/B testing to maximize your open rate.

Constant Contact offers unmatched support with live chat, phone calls, email, community support, and a vast library of helpful resources.

Aside from online training, they also offer in-person live seminars across the United States. This allows small businesses to quickly learn the basics of email marketing and start using it to grow their business like a pro.

For all the reasons above, we rate and exclusively use Constant Contact the best email marketing service for small businesses.

Constant Contact has a 60-day free trial (no credit card required). After that their pricing starts as low as $20/month.

Prepay six or 12 months and save up to 15%. Nonprofit organizations can prepay and save up to 30%.

We’re confident you’ll like Constant Contact Email Marketing. But if you don’t, and you decide to close your account within 30 days of signing up, they’ll refund 100% of your payment. View Terms & Conditions

 

 

From an article by Syed Balkhi.

6 Reasons Why Building an Email List is so Important in 2019

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Are you considering building an email list, but have some doubts about why it is needed? Many business owners and bloggers don’t realize the importance of building an email list when they’re first starting out. Most people usually change their mind when they see the impact email lists can have on someone else’s traffic and revenue. In this article, we will share the top reasons why building an email list is important (with real case studies). We will also show you how to start building your email list – step by step.

Why building an email list is so important

In this beginner’s guide, we will cover the following topics:

  • What is an email list?
  • Why building an email list is important
  • Social media vs email marketing
  • What marketing experts are saying about email marketing
  • What do you need to start building an email list
  • How to choose the best email marketing service
  • How to grow your email list and get more subscribers
  • Finding new list building strategies and resources

By the end of this article, you should have answers to all your questions about building an email list.

What is an Email List?

An email list is a special list of names and email addresses of people who gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business.

You can build your email list inside a marketing software and send bulk email notifications to everyone regarding your blog updates, online store, or other business services.

Why Building an Email List is Important?

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the USA.

Because email subscribers joined your email list from your website and verified their identity by clicking on a link (double-optin), they are extremely interested in what you have to offer. This is why they are more likely to convert into paying customers.

In our business, email list gets 10 times higher conversions than social media campaigns.

We are partnered with GoZone Wifi to automatically optin your WiFi users and build your list.

This makes sense if you think about the reasons that make email an incredibly powerful communication channel:

1. Email is Personal

Email allows you to land into a user’s inbox. There is no ranking system limiting your reach. It is very direct and personal.

2. Email is Purposeful

To get updates from you, a user fills out a form to signup for your email list and confirm their email address. Someone doing this much work is obviously interested in hearing from you, and they are much more receptive to your message.

3. Email is Targeted

As we mentioned earlier, the user has already shown interest in your product or content. Since you already know what they like, you can deliver them highly relevant offers to get better results. This is called segmentation, and we will cover that later in the article.

4. You Own Your Email List

You do not own Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Your social media campaigns and SEO efforts can go to waste when these platforms change their policies. On the other hand, you own your email list, and it is not influenced by decisions of other businesses.

5. Email is One-on-One

People read email in the privacy of their inbox. The message is not on a public timeline or newsfeed. They can ask you questions directly in private with confidence. This helps build trust and connection.

6. More People Use Email Several Times a Day

You may have heard that Facebook has 1.4 billion and Twitter has 100 million daily active users. What you have may not have heard, is the number of people using Email every day.

Every internet user has at least one email account. Recent research conducted by Radicati found out that there 3.8 billion active email accounts. That’s half the population of Earth.

This is precisely why every smart business in the world has an email list.

Big name brands learned this lesson a long time ago, and that’s why they spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists.

They understand that email marketing is the best long-term investment with a much higher return because people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.

Social Media vs Email Marketing

Now you’re probably thinking, wait a minute. What about social media?

In fact, we have been asked several times isn’t email marketing kind of dead with social media taking over everything?

The best way to answer this question is to look at the information Twitter and Facebook ask you before you create an account:

Enter email address to create an account

Yup, it’s an email address.

These companies know that emails are the most direct and reliable way of getting in touch with their customers.

Even if you sign up using your phone number, they will keep asking for your email address to help you find friends, for password recovery options, and most importantly to send you targeted email messages.

Here is a view of the social tab in a typical Gmail user’s inbox.

Social emails

All these emails are from big social media platforms, so they can engage you with the content on their platform and get you to visit their app or website again.

All social media platforms are building an email list because they are smart business owners. This helps their valuation when selling their business.

While social media is a great way to reach your audience, it’s important to keep in perspective the timely nature of social media platforms.

They come and go.

Not too long ago we had MySpace, FriendFeed, Google Buzz, Plurk and countless others. Most of them are either dead now or irrelevant.

Today we have Facebook and Twitter that are prominent, but not everyone enjoys these platform. Some people prefer Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.

Basically, your users are all over the place on different platforms. But studies show that at least 91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis.

We are not saying that social media is not important. It is, and you should explore every opportunity to reach your audience.

However, you should spend more time and effort into something that guarantees higher results.

What Experts are Saying About Building an Email List?

Don’t take just our word for it, listen to what all top marketing experts are saying about email marketing:

Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.

– Neil Patel – Crazy Egg and QuickSprout

Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort.

– Joe Pulizzi – Founder Content Marketing Institute

If you’re not building an email list, you’re making a HUGE mistake.

– Derek Halpern – Founder Social Triggers

Email is the most predictable driver of growth and sales in our business. I prefer email marketing over all other traffic channels.
– Syed Balkhi – Founder WPBeginner

Many expert marketers say their biggest mistake was not building an email list when they first started out.

With all the reasons above, we hope that you’re convinced that building an email list is important for all businesses.

Now you might be wondering, how do I build an email list?

This brings us to the next section.

What You Need to Start Building an Email List:

By now, you know why building an email list is so important, and why ignoring it can be a HUGE mistake.

So let’s take a look at what you need to start building your email list.

3 Things You Need to Build an Email List:

  1. A website or blog.
  2. An email marketing service.
  3. High-converting opt-in forms

We can provide all three of these for you.

For the sake of this article, we will only be focusing on the last two items on the list. We’re going to assume you have a website.  If you don’t, let’s talk.

Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service

There are tons of email marketing services out there. We recommend Constant Contact, hands down. Often times, beginners use a free company to save money, which is understandable. However, some of these free platforms are not the best. Why?

Some platforms mislabel themselves as “email marketing service” when in reality all they offer is free blog subscription via email. This allows your users to receive an email update every time you publish a new blog post.

But that’s not true email marketing. Here are some of the downsides of using a free blog notification service:

  • You can’t send out private email newsletters. To send an email, you will have to publish a new blog post, which means that the information you want to share will have to be publicly available first.
  • You can’t personalize the email message. It will be delivered in the same format often with no branding or personalization.
  • You can’t categorize subscribers by interests, demographics, or content type.
  • There is no reporting. You don’t know how many people got the email, what percentage of users opened it, and how many of them clicked on your links.
  • If you later tried to move to a paid service, your users will have to re-confirm their subscription. Many of them will not do it, and you will end up losing subscribers.

This is why we ALWAYS recommend using a professional email marketing service, like Constant Contact, right from the beginning.

Yes, they cost a little bit of money, but they are an investment in your business which pays huge returns.

The benefit of professional email marketing services are:

  • You can send private mass emails to your subscribers.
  • You can see subscriber activity and group your subscribers based on actions they take.
  • You can run A/B split tests to see which email subject line, content, and offers work best with your subscribers.
  • With reporting tools, you can see which country you have the most subscribers from. You can adjust your time zone preferences, and send emails at the right time.
  • Last, but definitely the most important, you can see the email addresses of all your subscribers.

There are hundreds of professional email marketing services available.

For small businesses, we recommend using Constant Contact because they are one of the largest email marketing services in the world.

They offer a 30-day free trial. This gives you plenty of time to set up and start seeing the results. At the end of 30 days, your email list would likely be paying for itself (cost $20 / month).
Start your free trial.

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Once you have signed up with Constant Contact, the next step is to add opt-in forms to your website to allow your users to subscribe.

Growing Your Email List and Getting More Subscribers

Did you know that more than 70% of visitors abandoning your website will never return? It’s true, just look in your Google Analytics and look at the percentage of new vs returning visitors.

That’s why you need to convert every website visitor into an email subscriber before they leave, so you can send them relevant messages to bring them back.

An average internet user spends just a few seconds looking at a website. This gives you very little time to engage them. If your email sign up forms are not noticeable, then users will leave without ever subscribing to your website.

The biggest mistake that we see beginners make is not strategically placing high-converting opt-in forms.

Constant Contact provides you with codes to embed in your theme, we handle that for you.

This is why we recommend our users to use OptinMonster. It is the most powerful conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning website visitors into subscribers and customers.

Instead of adding boring sign up forms to your sidebar, you can easily create high-converting opt-in forms like lightbox popups, floating header and footer bars, slide-in scroll boxes, fullscreen welcome mat, inline forms, and more.

OptinMonster optin forms

But what makes OptinMonster really powerful is the behavior automation and personalization features. OptinMonster allows you to automatically show different opt-in forms based on where the user is coming from, which page they are visiting, and what they are doing on your website.

For example, the Exit-Intent® feature track your users’ mouse behavior and show them a targeted opt-in form at the precise moment they are about to leave. This helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers.

That’s why influencers like Michael Hyatt, Neil Patel, and Social Media Examiner use exit-intent on their websites. It helped Social Media Examiner add over 95,000 new subscribers in 7 months.

Nicolas Gagne, a small business owner, combined Constant Contact with a single exit-intent optin to grow his email list by 500%. This helped him triple his revenue from his online store (see the full case study).

There are tons more case studies and OptinMonster reviews that you can read as well.

Get started with OptinMonster today — Use the coupon WPB10 to get 10% off.

Note: OptinMonster was started by WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi, because he wanted to get more email subscribers, faster. It helped us increase our email signups by 600%. Due to popular request, we released this tool for the public, and currently, it’s the most recommended lead generation software in the market.

List Building Strategies and Resources

Having the right tools is crucial, but knowing how to use them properly is what makes the most difference.

In your email marketing strategy, the most important thing you should plan out is segmentation.

What is email list segmentation?

Email list segmentation is the process of grouping your subscribers, so you can better personalize your emails based on interest.

It helps you get higher open rates and click-through rates. This definitive guide to email marketing has all the information you need to segment your email list like a pro.

If you want to start growing your email list quickly, we have a system that incorporates your wifi network to optin users coming into your brick and mortar business.

We can create your optin forms and place them on your website, blog and social network accounts.

Content Upgrades are the highest converting opt-in forms. It’s a technique where you offer bonus content at the end of your popular blog posts. These usually convert 5 times higher than a regular opt-in. Here are some content upgrade ideas that you should check out. We will work with you to help choose what’s best and set them up for you.

There are a lot of different ways to capture email leads, we can create lead captures using Optin Monster and Constant Contact.

Conclusion

It does not matter what kind of business you run, what kind of website you have, or what industry you are in.

If you have a website, and you want to turn your visitors into returning customers, then you need to get them in your email list.

We hope this article helped you understand why building an email list is important and helped you get started on the right foot.

From an article by Syed Balkhi.