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Vectra Raises $36 Million to Enable Enterprises to use AI in the Hunt for Cyberattackers

Vectra Raises $36 Million to Enable Enterprises to use AI in the Hunt for Cyberattackers

Atlantic Bridge Leads Series D Funding Round

  to Drive Product Innovation and Accelerate Go-to-Market Growth

  

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 21, 2018 – Vectra, the leader in automating the hunt for in-progress cyberattacks, today announced it closed a $36 million Series D funding round led by Atlantic Bridge, a global growth equity fund focused on technology investments. Vectra will leverage this investment to expand sales and marketing globally and accelerate the development of its artificial intelligence (AI)-based threat hunting platform, Cognito.

  

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Nissho Electronics Corp. also participated in this funding round along with returning investors Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners, IA Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, DAG Ventures and Wipro Ventures, bringing Vectra’s total funding to date to $123 million.

  

“We have been impressed by the remarkable growth of Vectra in this fast-moving cybersecurity market,” said Kevin Dillon, managing partner at Atlantic Bridge. “The increasing volume, creativity and effectiveness of cyberattacks means that enterprises must adopt AI to automate cybersecurity operations. We look forward to helping the company expand its global enterprise footprint.”

  

Building on its momentum, Vectra is opening a new research-and-development center in Dublin, Ireland. This center will enable the company to rapidly expand its product portfolio, provide global reach to serve Fortune 500 customers, and create up to 100 jobs in Ireland over the next five years. In addition to the Dublin R&D center, Vectra has R&D facilities in San Jose, Calif., Austin, Texas and Cambridge, Mass.

  

“This is an exciting investment for ISIF that promises significant economic impact for Ireland,” said Fergal McAleavey, head of private equity at ISIF. “It is encouraging to see Ireland leverage its emerging expertise in artificial intelligence by attracting businesses such as Vectra that are on the leading edge of technology. With cybersecurity becoming critical for all organizations, we are confident Vectra will deliver a strong economic return on our investment while creating high-value R&D employment here in Ireland.”

  

“Vectra had an incredible year in 2017, during which we achieved record revenue growth of 181% over the previous year and delivered further product innovations to our customers,” said Hitesh Sheth, president and CEO of Vectra. “We’re excited to add Atlantic Bridge, ISIF and Nissho as investors. This investment will accelerate our mission to transform cybersecurity with AI, including delivering additional innovations through our new Dublin R&D center.”

  

Vectra was recently named the only Visionary by Gartner in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems.1 The Cognito platform from Vectra enables enterprises to detect and respond to cyberattacks in real time. Cognito uses AI to perform non-stop, automated threat hunting with always-learning behavioral models to quickly and efficiently find hidden and unknown attackers before they do damage. Cognito provides full visibility into cyberattacker behaviors from cloud and data center workloads to user and internet-of-things devices, ensuring attackers have nowhere to hide.

  

1 Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems, by Craig Lawson and Claudio Neiva, 10 January 2018. Subscribers may view the report at: https://www.gartner.com/document/3844163.

  

Please visit the Vectra Series D funding resources web page for more information about this announcement.

  

About Vectra

 Vectra® is transforming cybersecurity with AI. Its Cognito™ platform automates cyberattack detection and response from data center and cloud workloads to user and IoT devices. Cognito correlates threats, prioritizes hosts based on risk and provides rich context to empower response with existing security systems, reducing security operations workload by 168x. Vectra was named a “Visionary” by Gartner in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems and the “Most Innovative Emerging Company” in the Dark Reading Best of Black Hat Awards. InformationWeek also named Vectra one of the Top 125 companies to watch in 2016. Vectra has been issued five U.S. patents with 14 additional patents pending for cybersecurity applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Vectra is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. For more information, visit vectra.ai.

 Media Contact:

 John Kreuzer

 Lumina Communications for Vectra

 vectra@luminapr.com

 (408) 896-3307

  

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Simple Tricks to Boost Your Site’s Conversion Rates

When you have an ecommerce site, your conversion rate is one of the most important metrics, and it’s something that you should always be looking to improve. A higher conversion rate essentially means that more people are taking the action you want them to, and this action will vary depending on what page of your site they land on. In most cases, though, a conversion on an ecommerce site is when a visitor decides to purchase your product. To get better results from your site, here are some simple tricks to increase your conversions.

Improve Page Speeds

A couple decades ago, people were more patient while using the internet. But that was the time of dialup and waiting several minutes just to connect to the internet in the first place.

Considering most consumers now have access to high-speed internet and expect everything to load in a matter of seconds, not minutes, your site needs to be fast if you want a good conversion rate. A slow site will lead to more visitors getting frustrated and bouncing.

It’s fine to build a dynamic site, but make sure that you’re not overloading it with too many items that slow it down. You should also check how fast it is using the Google Developers PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool is as easy to use as it gets. You simply plug in your site’s URL, and the tool gets you a speed score, with 85 and up being good.

The tool will also tell you how you can make your site faster. It does this for both the desktop and mobile version of your site, and it’s important to check on both.

Use Conversion-Centric Design

Ecommerce website design is obviously a key factor in achieving a good conversion rate. Even seemingly small changes in design can make a dramatic difference in how many people click the Buy button.

Your site needs to be professional and easy to navigate, but you should also design each page with conversions in mind. Each page should be 100-percent focused on getting the visitor to take the action that you want.

This means that you should avoid making pages too cluttered, as this could distract the visitor from the page’s intended purpose. If it’s a product page, the entire page should be setup to get people to add the item to their cart.

One smart way to improve design elements on pages is A/B testing. This is where you change a single element on the page to see which version of the page gets better results as far as the conversion rate is concerned.

Target the Right Keywords

Conversions depend on more than just your site. They also depend on the visitors you’re bringing in. You can control this, to an extent, by the keywords you choose for your ad campaigns.

The best method to choose the right keywords is to get inside the head of your target market. Consider what search terms they would use if they were planning to buy a product today.

It’s generally better to use more specific search terms, provided they still have a solid search volume each month. When people are looking to buy something online, they tend to be more specific than when they want to just get some information.

You can also try adding the word “deals” or “sales” to product keywords you’re targeting. Web users will often use these terms to find lower prices, and if they’re using those terms, it typically means they’re ready to buy.

Because of how important conversion rates are, you’ll need to continually look for ways to improve them. Even a small uptick can mean much higher profits for your business. Give the tips above a try to optimize your site and get more conversions out of it.

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How To Create An Effective, Simple, Content Strategy For Your Small Business

Let’s say you’re operating a small or mid-sized business. You’re wearing a dozen hats, and one of them says “Marketing”. Now, in days gone by, marketing used to be the fun part of running your business. It was a pleasant break from inventory control, manufacturing schedules, and the million-and-one other things you do to keep your business operating smoothly. But then it became not so fun.

The internet rolled in and with it came strange terms, complex paradigms, and a language all its own. And as soon as you tried to learn the language, it changed and morphed into something else. No, this was definitely not fun anymore. Marketing became uber complex. Technobabble, competing platforms, and an unending stream of the “latest” marketing models, simply confused the hell out of most small (and even large!) businesses.

Remember the good old days when marketing consisted of putting ads in trade magazines or newspapers? Well, they aren’t coming back again. But here’s the good news: If you just follow a few simple steps, you can create a dynamic and effective content strategy that will propel your brand forward. No kidding. Because when you strip away all the hype, the jargon, and the competing claims it still comes down to one thing: You want to sell as much stuff as you can. No more, no less. And here’s how you do it …

Reacquaint yourself with your audience

Over the years, you’ve changed, and so have they. What was a hot sales point two years ago, may be passé today. Or it’s possible that a product that was designed for one group may now be of benefit to another, thus expanding your sales base. This is not rocket science, nor is it complex. Get with your marketing/sales team and hold a round table discussion. Then, hire a good firm to do an in-depth market survey for you. It will be worth its weight in gold (and sales!). Knowing, really knowing your potential customer base, will give you an insight on how to market to them.

Put that information to work for you

Once you’ve pinned down your target audience, it’s time to devise your content strategy to reach them effectively. Your marketing survey should have given you a wealth of information about what propels them to act, what turns them off, and what turns them into buyers. This, then, becomes a “bingo” moment. You can see the forest, you can see the trees, and your marketing roadmap should point you in a clear direction to reach them. You know them. You know what makes them tick. Now it’s time to say hello.

And here’s where it gets fun again

This is where the creative comes in. The really fun part of any marketing campaign. Now it’s time to have some insightful discussions about what your approach will be. Maybe light hearted or serious, glitzy or sedate. Perhaps “how to” videos will make an impact, or celebrity endorsements will move the needle. The point is, once you’ve gotten this far, making the decision on how to proceed should be a snap. Just follow what the data indicates, throw in a little of your own insight, and you’re off and running.

And don’t forget to fine tune

In the world of internet marketing, things can change in a nanosecond. So, what works today may not work next week. When clicks, browsers and sales start to fall off, don’t regard it as an abnormality. Somebody else may have come up with a better product, or are running a special sale, but the sooner you investigate, the quicker you can correct your course.

Is any of this complicated?

No! If you break content marketing down into its integral components, it’s really no different from what you’ve always been doing. Including what you did in the dark ages pre-internet! Size up your audience, find out what they want, and give it to them in a form they’ll find attractive and interesting. Forget the “devil in the details,” thing. The details will automatically fall into place based on your research. Don’t let anyone muddy the waters with extraneous information, esoteric technobabble, or the “new, latest, strategy thing!” Come on, isn’t it time marketing got fun again? You bet!

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5 survey questions every nonprofit should be asking

As a nonprofit organization, your top priority is to further an important cause. But to achieve your goals, you must spend time engaging donors and volunteers. Improve the way that you run your organization and communicate with your supporters by conducting a survey. To get valuable feedback and insights, you’ll have to ask the right questions — and here are the five you should start with.

1. How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend or colleague?

We recommend things that we’re passionate about or that we’ve had an excellent experience with. So asking this question is a great way to gauge what your target audience really thinks about your organization.

If the survey results show that most respondents would happily endorse your group, you’re obviously on the right track. But if most of the respondents make it clear that they wouldn’t recommend you or they’re indifferent, you’ll have to investigate this issue more closely. Send out a short follow-up survey to get respondents to elaborate on any difficulties they’ve experienced.

2. How easy was it to donate to our group?

Do your website visitors or email subscribers know how to make donations to your organization? It may seem like a silly question, but if the process of sending money to your organization is difficult or confusing, you could be discouraging supporters from helping your cause.

A “Donate” button that isn’t as visible on your website as it should be, confusing copy, a malfunctioning donation platform — there could be any number of obstacles that you might not be aware of. Asking about the donation process will help you identify any technical, design or messaging roadblocks that stop people from donating to your cause. And if you discover that everything’s working as it should, but you aren’t hitting your fundraising goals, then this survey question will tell you the problem doesn’t lie in the software.

3. How well did you understand how your donation was to be used?

Everyone who visits your website, attends a fundraising event or reads your newsletter should have an accurate understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and how their donations will impact that goal. Failure to clearly state your mission could create skepticism about the true nature of your organization or simply make it difficult for people to emotionally connect with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Testing copy and your overall messaging is an important part of marketing your organization. Asking this question will tell you if you need to edit or rethink the language you’re using to communicate with your donor base.

4. How likely would you be to donate to our organization again?

Nearly 60 percent of new donors only give to an organization once.  If you hope to get recurring donations, it’s critical that you provide your audience with a satisfying experience and effectively communicate your organization’s ongoing needs. Learning that donors are unlikely to make a second gift or that most are unsure if they would give again may mean that you need to spend more time on your retention efforts. Are you sending impact stories that show how donations are helping? Are you engaging with supporters in a meaningful, personalized way? These are the kinds of issues you’ll have to examine.

Because the answer to this question has such a significant impact on your long-term success, it will be well worth your while to include a follow-up question that specifically asks which factors would make a difference for respondents.

5. How useful was the volunteer training that you received?

You’ll likely need to send separate surveys to your donors and volunteers in order to understand their specific and unique feelings about your organization.

In your volunteer survey, make sure to ask about the training experience. Did your volunteers feel that they had the right tools to do a good job? The feedback that you receive here will not only help you prepare future volunteers for the work they’ll be doing, but it could also help identify members of your own staff who should be commended or processes that should be replicated.

Your nonprofit can build an active base of donors and volunteers by listening to what people have to say about your organization. Get to know your supporters, and find out how you can better serve them — and the community — by sending out a survey. 

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© 2018, Amber Humphrey. All rights reserved.

The post 5 survey questions every nonprofit should be asking appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

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Your Email Strategy Needs a Facebook Messenger Strategy

As of late, it feels like an arms race between email marketing or Messenger marketing. A world where marketers have to pick: the workhorse of today or the most exciting channel of tomorrow?

At first glance, I can see why. We’ve seen audiences engage an insane amount on Messenger -- 619% more than email. There’s also a cool 1.3 billion people who use Messenger on a regular basis.

When companies ask me which one to use, my answer surprises them: have your cake and eat it, too. Email and Messenger together will make your business more money than picking one. Which one you should use when -- and for whom -- comes down to context.

Here are three things to consider as you decide which areas of your marketing strategy need email, and which need Messenger.

Purpose

Every interaction your company has with someone needs a purpose. All communication should be deliberate, whether it's with a prospect or a customer. Your marketing goal will determine whether email or Messenger makes more sense.

In some cases, you have a lot to say -- or show. That’s a big reason email remains the channel of choice for long-form communication. Email wins at getting lengthy points across that people can store and share later. More often than not, though, most marketing and sales emails I get don’t fall into that camp.

“Chatting with you > Talking at you”

This is where Messenger's shorter communication style thrives. When you get an email, it feels like companies are talking at you. With Messenger, those same companies are chatting with you. It also pays to keep in mind who you're trying to reach. Even though chatting is better for some, it's not better for all.

Demographics

Did your audience use the internet between 1990-2005? Chances are email was how they kept in touch with friends and businesses. It still is older generations’ line to businesses, according to HubSpot. Email used to be our connection to businesses and a personal CRM. But times have changed.

Younger generations don’t spend time in their email inbox; they message one another. It’s part of a larger shift where messaging apps have become the activity that dominates 91% of our time on screens. To be a successful marketer in 2018, you need to meet users where they spend their time. The most delightful marketing experiences of tomorrow will happen on platforms like Messenger.

How my dad thinks I use my phone, anyways.

Experience

If you and I are anything alike, you've gone through a few email addresses over the years. Student email? Good until graduation. Work address? Great until you change jobs. Email addresses tie to finite periods in our lives. Things like Facebook IDs, though, will never change. You're always going to be you. Messenger Marketing means you can engage with someone throughout their life.

Okay, not as many as Homer. But you get the idea.

Over time, you’ll learn more about prospects that you can use to personalize how you engage them. It’s a best practice across platforms. Messenger has a secret sauce in this camp, though, that many marketers don’t realize. You can personalize in real-time on Messenger. Every word they say or button they click can steer them into a hyper-targeted experience. You’ll capture their intent and delight right away, without having to wait until the next email goes out.

Better Together

Let your audience set the tone for where they want to engage with you. It'll add value across all your channels in both the short and long-term. There's some group of your email audience that wants to hear from you, but not in their email inbox. Give those people another option for staying in touch, like Messenger.

Once you do that, there’s a good chance that you see an improvement in both open and click-through rates. Every message going out the door is only to people who want to hear from you on that channel. This can help your deliverability score in the long-term, too.

That's not to say it's an absolute one or the other. Be tasteful and use both together. We have a lot of people who prefer to download e-books on Messenger. But after talking with them, we learned that many of them still read it on desktop. We started emailing them a copy of their e-book, too, to provide a better experience. Think back to the differences between email and Messenger we discussed in this post. Use both channels together in tandem when you see value.

There are few times in life where 1+1=3. Marketing through email and Messenger in tandem is one of them. The behemoth channels of today and tomorrow have their differences. It's not about how you use one, though, it's about how you use both. Great marketers will use context to have their cake and eat it, too.

I find and analyze the most interesting messaging articles so you don’t have to. Follow me here. 👈 Want to chat about chat? Message me here.

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DevSecOps: How Security Teams Can Better Support Their Developer Counterparts

DevSecOps: How Security Teams Can Better Support Their Developer Counterparts

Much of the conversation around digital transformation revolves around technology. But the new wave of technology this era has ushered in has also made a big impact on the way organizations, and the teams that comprise them, function.

  This impact on corporate culture has paved the way for the widespread adoption of DevOps, which has broken down silos between developer, quality and operations teams and streamlined the software development process. The next step? Integrating the security team to ensure teams are shipping software that’s actually secure.

 Here are a few ways security teams can better support their developer counterparts:

 

Understand How Software is Being Made

 Development teams are under increasing pressure to ship software fast and frequently. Security teams should identify ways to help developers keep up with the rapid software development life cycle (SDLC), while making sure security isn’t sacrificed for the sake of efficiency. Understanding the SDLC for your company is key to finding ways to help that make sense. Have discussions with your development leaders and influential developers to find some ways to win. Create a pilot program with a friendly development team and pour all of your effort into making them successful. Nothing breeds success like success.

 

Act as Consultants and Partners

 Developers are taking on more responsibility when it comes to the security of the code they write, which has alleviated some of the pressure put on the security team to secure an entire organization. This has changed the way security teams function and given security professionals the opportunity to act as consultants to their peers in other departments.

 Security team members should approach their developer counterparts with an attitude of enablement. Offering security best practices, problem-solving strategy and general advice will help developers become more confident in their ability to secure the software they build.

 Base all of the above on the security problems they actually have. Don’t preach. Use data from your own application scanning to tailor training. Fill a room with pizzas and developers and talk to them over lunch about problems you can help them fix. Make it conversational. Ask them how they would like to be helped.

 

Embrace Ongoing Learning

 Developers have a lot to learn from their security counterparts, but developers can teach security professionals a few things, too. Setting up peer-sharing sessions where both groups can learn from each other will foster an environment of collaboration within the enterprise. Security teams can share threats related to code and specific programming languages and help developers think more like hackers. Developers can share insight into the SDLC and best practices for using code components.

 Combined, the security and development teams should also request support from the leadership team in offering additional educational resources and training.

 Breaking down the silos between development, quality, security and operations to create a true DevSecOps culture will take adjusting on all sides, and it all starts with people. Highlighting the benefit of working together (increased security, streamlined processes and ultimately a better product) is the best motivator.

  

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Creating a Better Plan with Agile Data

Agile methods help companies respond to change, beat the competition and build high-quality products that customers want by aligning development work to business priorities. But what happens when an organization is unable to align strategy to execution or align its departments or teams due to internal silos? As organizations advance in agile maturity, so do their data analytic needs. Compiling and synchronizing the data of a few agile teams is significantly different than rolling up data across many teams or an entire portfolio.

  Without a clear picture of how teams are delivering their work, organizations may be flying blind when it comes to understanding the delivery of their products or services.

 

See People, Time and Work in a Predictable Way

 Every team, department, and organization relies on data to make important decisions that steer the business. What many organizations lack is a way to clearly understand, prioritize and utilize the data they have. From an agile practice perspective, that level of visibility should be established early on in a data reporting structure—project, initiative and work hierarchies—and with the proper agile software solution.

 Setting data reporting standards helps teams understand how they are going to refer to, read out and analyze the data within their company. This type of data structuring promotes the standardization of data across teams, projects and work. But agreeing on a data infrastructure is only one part of data analysis. All of your organization, team and work-task information still needs a centralized system of record for proper utilization. Without a centralized database or agile software solution, data management becomes an extremely manual task. By establishing a data schema for your team-level, day-to-day work within a centralized system of record, all teams can start down a path of easier data accessibility, rollups, comprehension and insight.

 But, this type of reporting is not the end all, be all for most organizations. To truly have a full and comprehensive read-out of agile work, teams need to be able to slice their data any way they want to accurately reflect the work of the organization as a whole.

 

How Does Data Discipline Lend Itself to Predictive Insights and Planning?

 Formatting data in an organized fashion has to be the first step in understanding the work that is happening across an organization. Without this first step, agile metrics become a tedious task of manual data rollups and missed opportunities. The hodge-podge of data becomes nearly unusable outside of each individual team, as the organization does not know how to compare health, status, risks, dependencies, cadence or velocity team to team.

 Getting an organization grounded on common data reporting practices has many benefits, such as:

 

 Everyone is Aligned to the Priorities

 With all teams seeing the work produced across an organization, teams keep focused on the most important tasks, align on dependencies and ensure they meet important delivery timelines. It also prevents unsanctioned “work for the sake of work” from happening, as all eyes can see the work in the system and how it impacts the overall business goals.

 

Highly Prioritized Backlog

 Not only are teams able to align on the priorities, but they align on the prioritization of the work needed to meet and deliver on the business goals.

 

Better Time Management

 With a common data management structure built into your agile software, time management, velocity and cadence planning become much easier. Leadership can see which teams are successfully delivering all their work during each sprint, as well as how much work they can deliver over time. This sense of time tracking and management gives executives a glimpse at predictive delivery. With predictive delivery comes more predicative revenue.

 

Consistent KPIs

 If you ask several individuals what their idea of success is, you will get a different answer from each person. Looking at agile metrics is very much the same. If teams are given free rein to set up their own data structure and reporting, all reports and dashboards will be different. This makes rolling up the progress, status and health of initiatives time consuming and painful. With a governed data structure prebuilt in an agile software solution, all teams and departments within the organization can see the same type of reports and metrics all in one place. These teams then have the ability to analyze their data using standard reporting metrics from standard reports or dashboards.

 

Transparency

 While no one wants to think that a project can go awry, it does happen. And it is much better to make course corrections as early as you know there is an issue, as opposed to waiting until it is too late. Giving all parts of an organization a centralized place to review progress in a standardized way promotes overall success.

 

The Ultimate Goal: Build a Better Plan

 Standardized agile performance metrics that stem from an ordered data-schema empower organizational productivity, predictability, quality and responsiveness. With the insight that is gained from this level of data consistency—historical, real-time and health details—the pump is primed for deeper insights and advanced data manipulation.

 

The Future is Predictive Planning and Big Data

 The old adage, “You only get out what you put in,” also holds true for how an organization uses its data. This is why that critical first step of organizing and housing your agile work in a similar structure in a centralized system is key. Without this simple alignment, advanced metrics and analysis are nearly impossible. And it is those advanced metrics that are the key to truly predictive planning. The future of planning lies in customized data reporting and manipulation with big data analysis. With big data, disparate pieces of information can be analyzed, effectively slicing and dicing the metrics any way an organization needs. Reports can be created to fit the shape of the organization, roles and teams that need them–how they need them. To do this, organizations need to input the data into a centralized system first! Analysis is only as good as the data inputting allows.

  

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H1B Visas and Software Outsourcing: What You Need to Know

H1B Visas and Software Outsourcing: What You Need to Know

If your company uses custom-developed software—whether the software is developed by in-house staff or a third party—then you should care about the H1B Visa program. You should also be aware of what factors affect how this program works—and who can utilize the H1B program. Arguably, no current political or government policy topic has a more direct affect on application software development and the IT community in general than the subject of H1B Visas.

  In this article we want to help you understand:

 
     
  • What is the H1B Visa program—and why should you care?
  •  
  • What conditions are impacting this program currently?
  •  
  • What are the implications for the use of outsourced software development?
  •  
 

Background on H1B Visa

 The H1B Visa program exists as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The purpose of H1B is to allow U.S. companies to employ citizens of foreign countries in certain “specialty” occupations. Broadly, H1B Visas were created to help U.S. companies hire talent with scarce or “hard to find” skills. In other words, companies can hire non-U.S. citizens because the companies believe U.S. citizens with comparable skills (at comparable cost) are not available in sufficient number as candidates for hire. Visas are issued for a specific term (multiple years) and an individual may—or may not—be renewed.

 

H1B Visa Lottery

 Around April 1 of each year, U.S. employers begin applying for new, multiyear visas. The U.S. government approves and grants visas in October of the same year, which are good for the coming year. For example, new visas beginning in 2018 were issued in October 2017. The visas are awarded by random selection from a “pool” of applications—hence the term “Visa Lottery.” There are actually two lottery selections each October:

 
     
  1. 20,000 Visas are issued from a pool of candidates who must have a master’s degree (or higher) from a U.S. university. Once 20,000 candidates are selected, then …
  2.  
  3. 75,000 Visas are awarded from a pool of remaining candidates—including anyone eligible—but not selected in the “U.S. Masters Only” lottery. To be clear, those without a U.S. master’s degree will only be entered in this second lottery. Persons with a U.S. master’s degree will be entered in both lotteries.
  4.  
 

What Skills Are We Hiring?

 OK, so what are the skill sets of people being hired through the H1B program? IT professionals are being hired—this is by far the largest group that receives visas! Each year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services publishes an annual report. According to its 2016 annual report, 75 percent of H1B visas were issued for computer-related jobs.

 

 

Political Factors – Unclear Future

 On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, which established broad policy guidance to federal agencies. Government agencies are asked to take steps to give preferential treatment to U.S. citizens in hiring practices and to U.S. businesses in commerce. In particular, the U.S. Immigration Department was charged with evaluating elements of the H1B Visa program. Many suspect that additional steps will be taken in 2018 to further restrict the H1B Visa program.

 

A Rigged Game Against SMBs?

 Some advocates of small and midsize businesses (SMB) have complained that the H1B Visa program unfairly favors large businesses. Two of the most common examples given are:

 
     
  1. Expedited processing — Companies can pay for expedited processing of visa applications. By most estimates, this reduces the time to submit an application to the “lottery pool” to a matter of days versus the standard time of multiple months. SMB proponents feel this gives an unfair advantage to large companies with deep pockets.
  2.  
  3. Stuffing the ballot box — There’s no practical limit to the number of applications that a company may submit. SMBs may literally have one candidate and one position they seek to fill. In contrast, large companies may submit and be awarded thousands of visas. This phenomena is even more telling when you look at which companies receive the most visas each year. According to the most recently available report from the U.S. Department of Labor, the top visa recipients are top-tier tech companies; many of them specialize in software development and even contract software development.
  4.  
 

 

Conclusions

 Looking at the particulars of this situation, these are our key takeaways:

 
     
  1. There’s an IT skills shortage in the United States, which can only be supplemented by using outsourced software development.
  2.  
  3. SMBs may be at a double disadvantage—finding top U.S. citizen talent and competing with tech industry giants in the H1B visa lottery.
  4.  
  5. The particulars of the H1B visa lottery are changing—and it’s unlikely that the changes will result in more (or easier) hires through the visa program.
  6.  
  7. Offshore outsourcing as a strategy can help mitigate the challenges of hiring talent in the United States, whether U.S. citizens or H1B visa holders, and also minimizes the risk of finding value-priced outsourced software developer talent from inside the United States.
  8.  
   
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How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget [Free Budget Tracker Templates]

Here's a hypothetical for you: Let's say your company has decided to invest in a website redesign so you can improve lead generation, and you're responsible for managing the project. Naturally, one of the first questions you have is, “How much is this website redesign going to cost?”

The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Are you simply switching to a new template and adding some new CTAs, or are you migrating your entire website to a new platform?

If only there were a way to organize your answers to all of these questions -- a place where you could enter in estimated costs for all of your line items, and then compare your projected marketing budget to what you actually end up spending ... Good news! Our latest offer, 8 Free Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend, has got you covered. Included in our eight budget templates bundle is a template to manage your website redesign ... as well as templates for both Excel and Google Sheets to help you track your content budget, paid advertising budget, event budget, and more.

Click here to download your 8 free marketing budget templates.

Here’s a peek:

Aligning Your Budget With Your Marketing Goals

What you spend and where you spend it will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. This is especially true when it comes to paid advertising like search and display ads, social media ads, and so on.

HubSpot's former Demand Generation Marketer and Trello's current Product Marketing Manager, Jessica Webb, says this about how your costs can change when focusing on lead generation vs. lead conversion: "The majority of money you spend on paid efforts is usually calculated based on volume of clicks or impressions. Because of this, you'll often want to put more budget toward campaigns with higher-volume offers and audiences."

"An example, a tweet or Facebook ad promoting a lead generation offer that leans more top of the funnel will likely receive more clicks than something that falls more toward the middle or bottom of the funnel," she explains.

Your paid advertising costs will also change depending on how wide of an audience you are attempting to reach. "You can look at Twitter advertising as an example," Webb explains. "You have to option to target your campaigns based on users' interests or keywords searched for. Interests are a much broader category, whereas smaller pockets of users are searching for any given keyword, therefore your interests-based audience is going to be much larger and require a larger budget."

To keep better track of your paid advertising efforts,download the Paid Advertising Budget Template (included in the8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

Beware Hidden Costs

One of the great advantages to having and maintaining a budget spreadsheet is that it helps you avoid those end-of-the-quarter or end-of-the-year freak outs when you realize, “Whoa … what did I spend all that money on?”

In many cases, unanticipated costs can force marketers to fork over cash that they didn't plan on spending. Product marketing offers a perfect example. According HubSpot's VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson, it’s easy to forget that successfully marketing your products and services requires more than just promotion.

"When people allocate budget for product marketing, they tend to think in terms of product launches and promotional activities," Anderson explains. "That's certainly an important part of it, but another area of focus to remember is setting aside resources to conduct research and message testing long before the product ever goes to market. Having conversations with customers about the pain points your product will ultimately address is critical to shaping the messaging and having a successful launch.”

To better manage your product marketing efforts, download the Product Marketing Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

Remember Where Your Priorities Lie

Marketing is overflowing with add-ons and extras, upsells, and “premium” versions. One of the best ways to assess what’s nice to have versus what’s absolutely necessary is to (you guessed it) organize all of your expenses. By keeping tabs on where your budget is being allocated, and cross-checking that spending with the results you’re getting, it will be much easier to figure out what should keep getting budget and what should get kicked to the curb. For example, let’s look to the world of public relations. In PR, there are countless tools to which you can allocate budget, which could leave you overspending where it doesn't matter -- and underspending where it does.

“Tools abound to help PR practitioners not only create and distribute great content and find and target key stakeholders, but to ultimately measure reach and effectiveness," says Nathaniel Eberle, HubSpot’s former Director of PR & Brand and LogMeIn's current Director of Global Brand Management. "The key is making sure you’re laser-focused on who you’re setting out to reach and influence, then ensuring that your budget supports how they’ll most likely want to receive (and share) your key messages.

“As the media and digital landscape evolves at breakneck speed, continually reassessing the tools, services, and programs you’re employing is a great way to determine real-time ROI of your overall spend. Today’s measurement tool may be worthless to you tomorrow.”

To get better at prioritizing your PR line items, download the PR Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

It’s Not All About the Benjamins

When you open up these budget templates and check out all the various expenses detailed in them, don’t fret if you can’t tick every box. I’m not advocating for an “always spend more” approach to marketing. I’m advocating for an “always spend smart” approach. The expenses listed out aren’t mandatory -- they’re just meant to guide your thinking and to help ensure that you haven’t overlooked any hidden costs. With that in mind, here’s the full list of budget templates included in the bundle.

The 8 Marketing Budget Templates You Need to Manage Your Marketing Spend

With the 8 Free Budget Planner Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend, you'll be able to manage all of the moving pieces of your budget at a monthly and quarterly level. Use the Excel version of the templates to keep all of your budgets in one place. When you download the zip file, you'll find a separate file for each marketing team, as well as a Master Budget Template to maintain a high-level view of your overall expenses.

Interested in sharing your marketing budget across a larger team? Try the Google Sheets version of the same eight templates to share access with other Gmail users. For the Google Sheets templates, each team budget is found in a separate tab of the same Google Sheet. No matter which version you choose, each budget is optimized with the same line items, tips, and graphs. Read on to learn how to use each budget template.

1. Master Marketing Budget Template

Download the Master Marketing Budget Template here.

While it's helpful to have individual budget templates for specific marketing departments and activities, it's also nice to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. The Master Marketing Budget Template let's you do just that: It's the place where you can collect the totals from the other seven templates in the bundle and see all of your expenses in one place.

2. Product Marketing Budget Template

Download the Product Marketing Budget Template here.

This template will guide you step-by-step through the process of budgeting for a product launch. From determining product/market fit, to running user testing sessions, to promoting your finished product, our Product Marketing Budget Template will help ensure you don't overlook any important expenses.

3. Content Budget Template

Download the Content Budget Template here.

The budget required for creating and promoting content can vary greatly from organization to organization. For example, while some organizations keep most of their content operations in-house, others rely more heavily on freelancers and contractors. And while some use many different software products, publishing tools, and services, others take a much simpler approach.

Our Content Budget Template is designed to cover as many content-related bases as possible. So, if you see any expenses listed that don't apply to your organization, go ahead and delete them. (That's the beauty of Excel spreadsheets: You can customize them to your specific needs.)

4. Paid Advertising Budget Template

Download the Paid Advertising Budget Template here.

Paid advertising: Does it really qualify as an inbound marketing tactic/channel? That is a loaded question, my friends, and one that I don't have room to answer in-depth in this post. What I can tell you for sure is that you can do paid advertising in an "inboundy" way -- i.e. by targeting specific buyer personas and using paid advertising as a supplement to your organic efforts to help drive awareness and conversion opportunities.

Measuring the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns is also paramount to doing things the inbound way. Using our Paid Advertising Budget Template, you can keep tabs on your monthly (and quarterly) ad spending, and then cross-reference the amounts with your lead-generation metrics to determine your cost-per-lead.

5. Public Relations Budget Template

Download the Public Relations Budget Template here.

Public relations expenses amount to more than just paying for press releases. From reputation monitoring software, to traveling (e.g., to events and tradeshows), to applying for awards, there are many PR costs that can be all too easy to overlook.

To ensure you're accounting for all of your organization's PR-related expenses, check out our Public Relations Budget Template.

6. Branding & Creative Budget Template

Download the Creative Budget Template here.

In order to produce high-quality, innovative graphics, videos, and other content, the branding and creative teams of today need more than just Photoshop ... a lot more. One of the largest -- and often most overlooked -- expenses is storage.

If your organization is producing a lot of video, storage is especially important. Because as it turns out, when budgeting for video storage, you shouldn't be thinking on a megabyte (MB) or even a gigabyte (GB) scale, but on a terabyte (TB) scale. FYI: 1 terabyte = 1 trillion bytes. You can keep track of all your storage costs (and other branding and creative costs) using our free template.

7. Website Redesign Budget Template

Download the Website Redesign Budget Template here.

Budgeting for a website redesign can be seriously tricky. With so many moving pieces to consider, there is a lot of room for underestimating or miscalculating costs. We created our Website Redesign Budget Template so you can keep all of your redesign-related expenses in one convenient location.

Unsure if your current website is right for a redesign? Check out this HubSpot research report: Does Your Website Make the Grade? Chances Are, It's Barely Passing.

8. Event Budget Template

Download the Event Budget Template here.

When planning an event, the associated costs can seem obvious at first. There's the venue to consider, of course. And the P.A. system and microphones. And then the costs associated with booking and bringing in presenters/performers. That's pretty much it, right?

Wrong.

For example, does the venue come with tables/chairs, or will you have to rent those separately? Do you want your attendees to wear name tags, and if so, will you be printing out the name tags ahead of time or will attendees be writing their own names on blank tags? If the latter, have you factored in the pens or markers you'll need to accommodate that? As you can see, planning for an event can lead you down many rabbit holes.

Use our Event Budget Template to stay organized.

 

                                   
Email Marketing via HubSpot http://ift.tt/1y9rdls February 21, 2018 at 07:42PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']