Our favorite tech stories of 2015

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2015 has been a big year for tech.

From the Apple Watch to the Surface Book, we've seen a lot of great new devices and a lot of interesting storylines in the tech world

So, on the final MashTalk episode of 2015, we're looking back at our favorite tech stories of the year. We also give our picks for the best new device of 2015.

Listen to the episode on iTunes or on subscribe to MashTalk on iTunes by clicking the button below to get our latest episodes, instantly. If you like MashTalk, please fill out our audience survey

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5 Ecommerce Companies Using Content Wisely this Holiday Season

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Content marketing is so much more than a business blog, but many forget that little fact when trying to boost their business. When the holidays roll around, there are only so many blogs you can write, right? This is when you really need the reminder that content actually means anything your customers will consume, including social media, videos, images, and even sounds.

Some of these ecommerce shops show you what content marketing is all about. Take a look at some of the hottest digital marketing this season has to offer.

Coach

This holiday video features the products in a festive light, yes, but there’s also a cute little guest that no one with a heart can ignore. The introduction of a mascot and a video that shows the little guy in all his scrunchy-faced glory is just about the smartest move this luxury brand could make. Who could possibly stop watching? And grabbing and keeping consumers’ attention is what content marketing is all about.

Target

Target’s Pinterest feed hits the exact tone necessary for the holiday season.

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Gift guides are a great idea for prompting purchases, but buyers can’t always buy right away. Putting the online catalog on Pinterest helps users save ideas for later, like after the paycheck arrives. With all their gift ideas in one place, buyers are more likely to remember the gifts they’d planned to buy.

Burberry

An online gift guide is a great way to help new visitors to your site find things their loved ones will cherish.

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Burberry does an absolutely stellar job with their stunning catalog. It’s filled with gorgeous shots of their most popular products, all in a very festive layout that makes shoppers excited about picking the perfect gift. Something like the exquisitely decorated shopping malls of the '80s that once inspired a holiday purchasing furor.

Wayfair

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Similar to a gift guide, Wayfair’s online magazine shows off their products in festive situation. The company keeps the online magazine all year long, however, and fills it with decorating advice, information about new products, and tips for finding the best deals. It’s a little more special at Christmas because it does serve to provide information about holiday decorations and gifts, and they really do know how to make the most of it.

Overstock.com

Email counts as marketing content, doesn’t it? Check out this email from Overstock.com, which was opened just a little too late.

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The urgency a recipient felt when opening the email immediately upon receipt must have been incredible, and it strongly plays on buyer's feelings of FOMO. That countdown showing the potential buyer a deadline on amazing deals surely prompted quite a few sales. 

What amazing holiday content have you seen this year? What makes you excited for the season and more likely to open your wallet to buy?

Learn to grow your ecommerce business with these guides.

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How to Actually Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions: 9 Data-Backed Tips

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

It's that time of year again. And as we all sit down and make a list of habit-changing, self-improving, mood-boosting things we vow to do next year, there's no shortage of motivation to go around. 

However, come the third or fourth week of January, most of us are caught singing an entirely different tune. In fact, just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, according to research from the University of Scranton. 

So how can you defy those odds and actually achieve what you set out to do in 2016? Below, we've uncovered nine data-backed tips for fail-proofing your New Year's resolution. 

We can't guarantee it'll be easy, but we can guarantee it'll be worth it. 

9 Data-Backed Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolution

1) Write out a plan.  

Before I go to the grocery store, I always make a list. Not only does this help me avoid filling my cart with a bunch of junk, but it also helps me focus enough to speed up the process.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, clearly defining your intention can improve your success rate. In this particular study, researchers found that people who wrote down a strict plan for where and when they intended to exercise were more likely to follow through with the plan than those who didn't. 

So if you want to stick to your goals this year, write them down. Start a journal, make a note in your phone, or use one of these handy to-do list apps to keep track and hold yourself accountable.

2) Break your goals down into micro-goals.

Saving up $365 dollars sounds hard, but what about saving one dollar a day for 365 days? Similarly, losing 100 pounds sounds pretty intense, but what if you were tasked with losing 10 pounds a month over 10 months?

Research on pricing tactics suggests that consumption is driven not by the actual cost of a product or service, but by its perceived cost. When we break down a price -- or, in our case, a goal -- into more manageable segments, it's easier to convince ourselves to go after it. 

So if your goal is to learn a new language, for example, start by learning to count to 10. Working towards micro-goals will make the entire process seem more doable, and help you build the momentum you need to continue pushing forward.

3) Join forces with friends & family. 

We've all heard the saying "strength in numbers" before, right?

According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, participants who enrolled in a weight-loss program with friends were more likely to keep off the weight. Participants remained motivated to complete the program -- and maintain the weight loss -- thanks to the built-in social support. 

But this doesn't have to be limited to dieting and exercise. If you want to read more, ask a few friends to start a bi-weekly book club. Want to learn how to code? Encourage a few friends to register for a night class with you. It'll keep you accountable and help you stay on track.  

4) Tackle one goal at a time.  

We're all guilty of multi-tasking. In fact, in the midst of writing this article, I've already checked my phone several times, replied to an email, changed my Spotify playlist, and got up to make coffee.

However, when it comes to actually succeeding at our resolutions, it's typically best to focus on checking off one box at a time. Bad or unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time, meaning it will also take time to replace them with healthy ones. 

While we may think we're getting more accomplished by multitasking, we're never really doing tasks simultaneously. Instead, our brain is forced to switch tasks quickly, which ultimately detracts from our efficiency, according to Psychology Today. 

(Sounds like I should add this to my list of New Year's resolutions.)

5) Make a bet.  

Let me start by saying that gambling is a bad (costly) habit. And while I wouldn't want to encourage you to pick up one habit while trying to get rid of another, making a friendly wager on the outcome of your New Year's resolution can serve as a powerful incentive to get you going. 

The reason being? Loss aversion.

This is a theory that states that people prefer to avoid losses more than acquiring gains. In other words, we're more deeply affected by losing than we are by gaining. 

So if you really want to stick to your New Year's resolution, make a wager with one of your friends? It could be something as simple as buying them lunch every time you skip a gym day, flake on an event, overbook yourself at work -- whatever your goal may be. 

6) Precommit to your goals.

Let's say you really want to focus on being more productive at work in the year ahead. When you're working on a project that doesn't require an internet connection, you have two choices: 

  1. Find a place to work without internet.
  2. Stay in a place that has internet ... and trust yourself not to give in to temptation. 

While the latter requires you to rely on your own willpower, the first option demonstrates precommitment: the ability to avoid temptation by eliminating the choice from the start.  

Want to eat healthy? Do meal prep on Sunday for the whole week. Want to ease your smartphone addiction? Leave it behind when you don't really need it. It's simple.  

7) Talk yourself through it.  

Research suggests that tapping into your inner voice can serve as an effective way to restrain impulses and encourage motivation.

This could boil down to something as simple as telling yourself "Don't give up" when you're on the treadmill or reassuring yourself that "You've got this" before giving an important presentation. 

By sidetracking our impulses, it's easier to keep pushing forward to complete the task at hand.  

8) Monitor your glucose levels. 

According to research from Florida State University, acts of self-control have the ability to deplete large amount of glucose -- and we're more likely to fail when attempting to exercise self-control if our glucose levels are low. 

To keep your glucose levels stable through out the day, the above study suggests fueling the body with protein and complex carbohydrates.

So if you're feeling like you might break down and give in to temptation, try snacking on some Greek yogurt, grilled chicken, oats, peanut butter, beans, or peas.

9) Treat yo self. 

If you've ever taken a psychology class at any level, you're probably familiar with the work of B.F. Skinner. He is perhaps best known for his research around operant conditioning -- the process of modifying behavior through the use of both positive and negative reinforcement. 

In terms of achieving your New Year's resolutions, Skinner's research suggests that it's okay to treat yourself. In fact, it's encouraged.

Positive reinforcers -- like a sweet treat, shopping trip, or new piece of technology you've had your eye on -- help condition us to repeat a desired behavior. Just make sure you're not overindulging ... or using your vice as a reward. You don't want to slide back into the bad habits of yore. 

Of course ... if you do happen to slip, you still have eight other science-backed techniques to help you tackle your goal once again. 

What's your plan for sticking to your New Year's resolution? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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Facebook initiates blitzkrieg ad campaign for Free Basics in India ahead of Dec. 31 deadline

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Facebook has started campaigning for its Free Basics platform in India in a big way, even as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked its sole telecom partner Reliance Communications to stop the service for the moment. The advertising blitzkrieg by Facebook spanning text messages, hoardings, double spread ads in newspapers and television ad spots has rekindled the battle between net neutrality activists and Facebook.

The reason for this is a new measure by TRAI, inviting comments on a consultation paper on net neutrality until Dec. 31. In its public debate, TRAI is asking for recommendations on whether a telecom operator should be allowed to have differential pricing for different websites, apps and platforms. According to a report, Reliance still hasn't complied with TRAI's order and Free Basics continues to be available to its subscribers on its website. Read more...

More about Facebook, India, Net Neutrality, Social Media, and Internet.Org

Google is working on an artificially intelligent messaging app, report says

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Google may have a new artificial intelligence project in the works.

The company is working on a new messaging app that uses artificial intelligence to provide users with answers to search queries, according to a new report.

Details on exactly how the messaging service would work are slim but chatbots could play a significant role, according to The Wall Street Journal who first reported the plans. The goal, according to the report, is to allow users to engage with chatbots as another means of accessing search results and other information

In addition to messaging friends, users of the unnamed service could engage with chatbots to get answers to questions they may otherwise use Google's search engine for. The company would "steer users to specific chatbots, much as its search engine directs users to relevant websites," the report says. Additionally, Google may open the service to third-party developers who would build their own bots to run on the service. Read more...

More about Google, Facebook, Tech, Apps Software, and Apps And Software

7 Tips to Increase Online Brand Awareness

Digital Online Brand Marketing Concept

GUEST POST BY: Jonathan LegerBrand Branding Copyright Trademark Marketing Concept

Are you a small business owner or do you have the responsibility of handling PR campaigns? Have you been seeking ideas to increase brand awareness for the company? If so, the following tips should help you to obtain the online presence your company needs. Implement as many of them as needed to make your brand name easily recognized by your targeted demographics.

Know Your Purpose

Are you interested in building your brand for a local audience or do you wish to utilize the internet for sales. Medical professionals and others with a strictly brick-and-mortar establishment will need a different strategy than artists and those who wish to makes online sales.

Create Your Brand

Once you know your long-term purpose for the online company presence, determine the colors, fonts and related matters that will be used in all of your content. Invest in an attractive corresponding logo. Avoid unusual fonts that are difficult to read or that may not appear correctly on some devices.

Consider your colors carefully to send the appropriate subliminal messages. Research color psychology and determine which ones will reflect your desired image for the brand. You may wish to consult with someone experienced with proper color schemes for online content if you do not have time to research it yourself.

Establish Your Brand

Ensure that your website displays the logos and colors that you have chosen. Any accounts on social media or chat rooms should be updated, as well. Consistency is one of the key factors in establishing brand awareness. Eventually, people should see your logo and instantly form a positive mental image of your company.

Establish and Use Social Media

Use the company logo, fonts and colors as you create new social media accounts. While you do not want too many, too few is even worse. You will need to maintain your accounts, although autopost features make this reasonably simple. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are currently the most popular three social media sites. However, you should not focus on them alone. The future of popular social media is subject to change. Currently Pinterest is the fastest growing and can be used even if your products or services are not primarily visual.

Add a Blog

Now that you have your website and social media accounts established and coordinated, make a company website and blog. Ensure that all of your accounts are properly linked together so that a visitor on one site can choose to follow you on another. Social media sites make it easy and it is simple to link your main website and blog.

Develop Excellent Content

One mistake many companies make is to establish social media accounts and blogs and never update them. Avoid this mistake and develop a schedule for all of your accounts. Double check that the content is impeccable before posting it. Hire someone to write it for you if you lack the time or writing skills for online marketing. Use the autopost feature so you can plan your posts in groups, rather than tending to them continually. However, you should check in once or twice each day to respond to actively engage with your audience.

Make sure that you utilize these sites to gain attention. One way to do this is to offer giveaways and freebies. There are all kinds of little things that you can hand out at local fairs or include in orders. Make certain that you comply with all federal, state and local laws when offering prizes or competitions.

Before long, you will begin seeing the fruits of your efforts and you will soon begin seeing an increase in engagement, traffic and sales.

Jonathan Leger has been a successful Internet Marketer for over 11 years. He owns an SEO Tools suite at KeywordCanine.com.

Google Begins Testing Password-Free Logins

passwords Google confirmed this morning it’s now testing a new way to sign into your Google account without having to type in a password. Instead, those who have been invited to try this new method of logging in authenticate by responding to a notification sent to their smartphone. The idea is similar to Yahoo’s recently launched “Account Key,” which also offers a… Read More

Google Begins Testing Password-Free Logins

passwords Google confirmed this morning it’s now testing a new way to sign into your Google account without having to type in a password. Instead, those who have been invited to try this new method of logging in authenticate by responding to a notification sent to their smartphone. The idea is similar to Yahoo’s recently launched “Account Key,” which also offers a… Read More

Games Like Angry Birds Friends And Risk Hit The Chromecast Right Before The Holidays

55810660-14e0-4f45-ae4a-10040359a15b We’ve gotten a fair bit of play out of Google’s latest $35 Chromecast leading up to the holidays. The games are pretty fun, and you can’t beat it for the price. In time for said holidays, a few more games are being shoved out to keep your family yelling at the screen. Angry Birds Friends and Driver Speedboat Paradise are two of the titles, created just for Chromecast,… Read More

12 Awesome HubSpot Resources That Won’t Cost You a Dime

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In the midst of holiday shopping and seasonal sales, it's easy to get caught up in spending. But sometimes, the best things are free. 

Over the years, HubSpot has developed a number of free tools and programs that we love to share with others.

In celebration of the giving season, we've packaged up 12 days of free features that you can use, no strings attached. (Well, maybe they're tied up with a proverbial bow.)

12 Free Features & Tools for Marketers

1) HubSpot CRM

Give your sales team everything they've hoped for and more this holiday season: an entire, all-in-one customer relationship management platform. For free.

Our CRM is easy to adopt and helps businesses automate their sales processes to save time, money, and energy. HubSpot CRM comes with a searchable database to simplify researching and prospecting, powerful browser and email integrations, and impressive enrichment capabilities. 

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2) Free Stock Photos

Why pay for stock photos when you can get them for free? HubSpot's new site, freestockphotos.org, catalogs photos that you can use for blog posts, social media, or wherever else you need high quality photos. The site is broken down into categories such as office supplies, technology and cities to facilitate your browsing. Not to mention, all photos are tagged and searchable. New photos are being added consistently, so keep checking back as you work on projects. 

3) Website Grader

How's your website doing? Great websites are key to attracting (and keeping) traffic. This free tool grades four key areas of your website: performance, mobile, SEO, and security. See how you rate in each of these areas and get actionable tips to make your website even better than it already is.

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4) Academy

Learning can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. HubSpot's Academy is a tuition-free way to get inspired and learn new things. In-depth courses show you how to set up campaigns, create content, optimize pages, and nurture leads.

Learn better by doing? Academy also offers Projects -- a series of step-by-step guides that help your leverage HubSpot tools to reach your goals -- so you can learn as you go! 

5) Sidekick

The easiest way to know when your email has been opened? Sidekick.

This tool helps put the data in your hands about who, when, and where your emails are accessed. Emailing doesn't have to be a dreaded activity -- make your inbox work for you instead.

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6) Inbound.org

Inbound.org is the ultimate community of marketers. Members can stay informed about what's happening with their inbound marketing peers and connect with new people who are passionate about the same things. More than 500,000 members are already taking advantage of this free-ness -- don't be left out!

7) Inbound Certification

Expand your skills and grow your career with our free inbound certification. You'll learn things that can be instantly applied to your organization and help you grow your career. If you're looking for a job, it's not bad to have on your resume either. 

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8) Marketing Salary Grader

Wondering how your salary stacks up against other marketers? This tool shows you where your salary ranks among your peers in similar geographic areas, with similar levels of experience. Oh, and it also gives some fun personality facts to compare with others.

9) INBOUND Decks

Missed out on HubSpot's annual INBOUND event? No worries. The slides from the 250+ inspiring speakers have been posted online. Yep, that means you can do all the learning, for free, without ever leaving your desk. Get insights from amazing INBOUND speakers like Joel Comm, Jason Miller, and Marcus Sheridan on topics ranging from getting inbound marketing buy-in to selling the inbound way. 

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10) Marketing Library

If you're looking for templates, guides, or in-depth ebooks, the marketing library is your one-stop shop. (Metaphorically, of course, because the content is all free). The library includes a range of topics and styles including presentation templates for sales meetings, budget spreadsheet templates, and webinars from remarkable marketers such as Oli Gardner and Noah Kagan.

11) State of Inbound

Check out the latest report on the state of inbound marketing and sales. The result of surveying nearly 4,000 marketing and sales professionals is an in-depth look at the priorities and challenges of your peers. 

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12) Leadin

Leadin is the free tool that gives you insights about visitors to your site. With a quick, 5-minute setup, the plugin is easy to use and immediately helpful. 

Nobody likes wasting money, so we're always on the lookout for free ways to get the job done. Celebrate the season of giving this year by showing others how to save themselves money (and time) with awesome free tools.

free resources for building an inbound team

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