Tag Archives: Business Extension Bureau

Voice Search Defined

So, what exactly IS Voice Search? Voice search (also known as voice-enabled) is a voice activated Internet search. The search method is same as the performing a normal search on your computer or mobile device. Voice search is often interactive and allows a system to ask for clarification. The search can be done on any device with a voice input dialog system.

Language is the most essential factor for a system to understand and provide the most accurate results. This covers multiple languages, dialects, and even accents. Systems can recognize speech in hundreds of languages, as users want a voice assistant that both understands them and speaks to them understandably.

Mechanisms use Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for input. They can also include Text-To-Speech (TTS) for output. Users might sometimes be required to activate the virtual assistant before performing the search. The search system will detect the language spoken by the user, then detect the keywords and context of the sentence. Next, the device will return results depending on its output. A device with a screen might display the results, while a device without a screen will speak them back to the searcher.

Voice search is currently not a part of Google’s algorithm; however, it is still dictating current search results. Voice search queries often yield different results than if the user had typed in a text-based search. For SEO, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on their toes with voice search components for their consumers who are adapting and switching over to that medium.

Voice search content must be specifically optimized for voice. It needs to be more direct and conversational so that it will accurately sync with search queries. This will help boost traffic by staying relevant and more visible to consumers.

Below are some mind-blowing statistics as it pertains to voice search. It is the wave of the future and marketers need to construct their digital marketing plans with a focus on how Voice Search can benefit their business.

  • Grocery shopping accounts for more than 20% of voice-based orders
  • Voice-based shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022
  • By 2024, the global voice-based smart speaker market is estimated to be worth $30 billion
  • 60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months
  • 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily
  • Top 3 common keywords in voice search phrases are “how”, what” and “best”.

2021 USPS Proposed Rate Changes

On October 9th the USPS filed a request with the PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) to revise pricing for market-dominant products.

The amount of the proposed increase by class reflects the USPS authority, under the CPI-based cap, plus any unused rate authority left over from previous price changes, that can be carried over. The USPS did not use all of its available rate authority, meaning that some of it will remain “banked” after this case and can be used in the future.

Below is an overview the upcoming rate case:

Click here to see a 2021/2020 Rate Comparison Chart.


SHOPS by Instagram

As businesses continue to face the challenges of selling online as they shift their business models during the COVID-19 crisis, Instagram has created Shops. Shops is a new shopping experience through an immersive, full screen storefront that enables businesses to drive product discovery in a native shopping experience.

People can visit a shop from a business’ Instagram profile or through Feed and Stories. Once they’re at the shop, people can browse products, explore collections, and purchase products — seamlessly through an in-app browser and without leaving the app from shops with checkout. 
Checkout allows customers to buy items directly from a shop on Facebook or Instagram.

With shops, people have a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. Collections in shops let businesses customize the shopping experience, and curate products into themes that tell their story.

Creating a shop is free and simple. For more information about shops visit Facebook for Business. To learn more about enabling shopping on your Instagram business account, visit the setup guide.

FB Says NO to Certain Political Ads

Facebook announced that it is taking preventive steps to “protect the integrity of the upcoming US 2020 elections.”

Ads related to the US 2020 census participation and voting around the November 3, 2020 election are now subject to additional prohibitions. Ads targeting the US with the following content are not allowed:

  • Ads that portray voting or census participation as useless/meaningless and/or advise users not to vote or participate in a census.
  • Ads that delegitimize any lawful method or process of voting or voting tabulation (including in-person voting on paper or on machines, absentee voting, vote by mail, and lawful collection of ballots) as illegal, inherently fraudulent or corrupt, or will result in a fraudulent or corrupt election administration or outcome.
  • Ads that delegitimize an election and/or result as fraudulent or corrupt because the result can’t be determined on the final day of voting and/or before ballots received after the final day of voting are lawfully counted.
  • Ads that claim voter fraud (such as voter impersonation, duplicate voting, or non-eligible individuals voting) is widespread and/or alters the outcome of elections and/or results in a fraudulent or corrupt election.
  • Ads that claim the election date or the mechanism for electing the President can be changed in ways not permitted by the Constitution or federal law.
  • Ads with premature claims of election victory.
  • Ads that are inconsistent with health authorities on voting safely.

To better facilitate public scrutiny for ads about social issues, elections or politics in the final week of the campaign, we’re introducing a restriction period for ads about social issues, elections or politics in the US. Advertisers will not be able to create and run new ads about social issues, elections or politics in the United States between October 27, 2020 through November 3, 2020. Changes to budget, bids, and targeting will be allowed during this period. However, any edits related to creative, placement and optimization will not be allowed. We recommend you to routinely check their FB Help Center page for updates and the latest information.

Ads about social issues, elections or politics in the United States must be created and start delivering before October 27. If you’re planning to run existing ads about social issues, elections or politics during this restriction period, you’ll be able to:

  • Pause existing ads
  • Unpause paused ads as long as they delivered an impression before October 27 and are stored in the Ad Library
  • Edit the schedule (e.g. new end date)
  • Edit the bid amount
  • Edit the budget
  • Edit the targeting, e.g. geographic or demographic changes, change the interests, upload a new custom audience and create a lookalike
  • Note: Editing the targeting will send the ad back through ad review. Advertisers may wait up to 72 hours for political/issue ads to be reviewed.

If you’re planning to run existing ads about social issues, elections or politics during this period, you will not be able to:

  • Edit or upload new video assets
  • Edit or upload new image assets
  • Edit or provide a new landing page
  • Edit or provide a new caption (body text)
  • Boost an organic post
  • Change the objective for the ad
  • Change the Page that the ad is running from
  • Run the ad from a new ad account
  • Change the conversion tracking (pixel, pixel event)
  • Change the optimization
  • Change the bid type
  • Remove the “Paid for by” disclaimer
  • Edit the placement
  • Duplicate these ads

If you’re planning to run ads about social issues, elections or politics for the first time:

  • You’ll need to get authorized to run ads.
  • Your ads must have an impression by October 27. FB recommends advertisers to prepare accordingly as ID verification reviews typically take 48 hours, disclaimer reviews take 24 hours and ad reviews take 72 hours.
  • Run messages that will stay relevant through Election Day. For instance, it’s best to reference voting on “Election Day” or “November 3” versus “tomorrow” or “today”.
  • They also recommend that you get started with the ad authorization and ad setup process as soon as possible. While we’ll adhere to standard turnaround times as closely as possible, we urge you to get authorized and set up ads early to avoid potential delays.

For more information and best practices, refer to the FB best practices one-sheeter.


Houston Zoo’s Virtual Visits

Our Zoo is the BEST! Talk about thinking outside of the box. At 11am on their Facebook Page everyday we get to visit the Houston Zoo!

The Houston Zoo started using Facebook Live to bring their patrons , many who were stuck at home due to the COVID-19 stay-home order, a glimpse of the daily lives of their animals.  Live videos featured some of the animals guided by zookeepers so fans could see what they are up to. The Houston Zoo welcomed Facebook followers online questions and answered in real-time.

During times of crisis, it pays to put yourself in your clientele’s shoes and think outside of the box!

SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.

For details, directions, and applications click here.

Preparing Your Business for What Lies Ahead

These are uncertain times. Our daily life has suddenly changed and in a dramatic fashion. One certainty lies before us. Rough times are ahead. Remember, smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors. Economic downturns are part of the natural cycle of business and if you take time to prepare, your business will not only survive – it can flourish.

Sailing through an economic storm is an endurance test. You will need to manage your business through big waves and battle crew fatigue. People often get nervous and become distracted when business slows down. Distractions can cause errors or reduce quality output. You can combat this by being open with with your employees. Let them know what you anticipate without painting a bleak picture, Operations should never be slow in the traditional sense. Make housekeeping a priority during downtime. Every business can use a good spring cleaning and busy employees with a purpose are usually happier.

Look for opportunities amid the crisis. This is the perfect time to solidify relationships with existing clients. Be sure that the lines of communication are open between you and your valued clients. Listen for their pain points and think out of the box. You may find a means to service their needs in ways that had not been considered before.

For over 70-years our business has focused on serving our customers with deliberate and precise execution combined with flexibility to support our clients  in multiple ways. Simply translated, agility and nimbleness are essential. The downturn environment is constantly changing, which means your clients needs are in a state of flux. Make sure your business can manage the ebb and flow of needs to solidify partnerships with your clients and vendors.

Published by North Sails, an international sail maker, I recently read a blog that outlined how to safely sail through a storm while at sea. The author wrote a conclusion that mirrors exactly what a business should do during an economic storm.

“Although everyone will remember it differently years later, a long, wet, cold sail through a storm can be miserable. As skipper, you need to make the best of it: watch over your crew, offer relief or help to those who need it, and speak a few words of encouragement to all. “This is miserable, but it will end.”

Take the time to marvel at the forces of nature, and at your ability to carry on in the midst of the storm. Few people get to experience the full fury of a storm. It may not be pleasant, but it is memorable.”


Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from data mining, predictive modelling, and machine learning, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.

Predictive models identify patterns found in historical or transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among multiple factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions. The defining functional effect is a predictive or probability score for each.

One of the best-known applications is credit scoring, which is used throughout financial services. Scoring models process a customer’s credit history, loan application, customer data, etc., in order to rank-order individuals by their likelihood of making future credit payments on time.