E-Commerce with Zoho Store

If you’re an internet-savvy person, chances are you’ve heard of e-commerce. For the uninitiated, e-commerce is the selling of goods online, shipping your orders out to customers. While major players like Amazon and Alibaba continue to rule, there are still niches left to explore that offer a lot of potential.

When you sell something unique and of value to your customers, people will start resonating with you as you grow. With that, here’s how to go about e-commerce and what you’ll get out of it:

Reach More Customers

Maybe you’re already a store owner or maybe you’re just starting out. When you have an online presence, you naturally reach more customers than you would with just a physical store. As you engage more with your audience, you build trust and brand awareness. And your website is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Get Started with Online Marketing

When you want to promote your business online, an e-commerce website provides you with links to your products, which form the starting point of your social media marketing. And when you find yourself with happy customers, you know that your links will be shared—creating great publicity for your brand.

Be Customer-centric

If you’re already a familiar name in your neighborhood, customers will feel even more reassured when they see you online, and it’ll save them the trouble of having to go to your physical store every time they want to buy something. You can even offer incentives to customers who become regular online shoppers.

Connect with Your Audience

When you get SEO right, you’ll reach people who might not have heard of you before. And if your website is designed well, you’ll get more paying customers. Your website is an extension of your brand story and your values, so people connect more with your brand when your website inspires confidence.

All that said, expect e-commerce to have a few pitfalls. Do critical market research before you spend major resources on your online store. You might want to start with a pop-up store and build from there.

The Power of Zoho One

The Power of Zoho One by Geoffrey Boulden Abstract - On July 24, 2017, Zoho announced a new product called Zoho One. This document explains the strategy behind Zoho One and how it can benefit small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). The concept of cloud computing has been proven successful for Small to Medium sized Businesses [...]

Support Included With Act! Subscription

One of the major changes Swiftpage Act! is offering with their new subscription-based pricing model is unlimited free calls to gold support.

But they do draw the line – What kinds of things exactly can you call about?

In short, they’ll remotely help you:

  • Set up remote sync users
  • Installations & upgrades
  • Configure Act! supported 3rd party software

Read all the full details here.

GoldMine Single-User Special

You can now purchase 1 or 2 licenses of Goldmine for new or as an upgrade from an earlier version: ·         Full featured product for use on one PC ·         Uses free SQL Express; click here to learn more. ·         Can network or synch 2 users. ·         No software maintenance or tech support required; can buy maintenance […]

Act! Compatibility with Windows 10

Microsoft has released Windows 10 on July 29th 2015.  Here are some considerations before your upgrade.

This article is updated thru October 1st 2015.


  • Windows 10 will be officially supported by, and the main focus of, Act! v18.
  • Act! Premium for Web doesn’t work well in the new Internet Explorer Edge browser, but standard IE 10 is included with Windows 10 and works normally.  This is promised to be fixed in v18.
  • Act! v16, Sage ACT 2013, and all prior versions are highly unlikely to ever get a Windows 10 compatibility update.
    • Note:  these versions can be installed in Win 10, and run, but have cryptic errors that won’t be resolved.  Such errors include the documents tab, and an error message every time you close the program.
    • You can install these versions at your own risk.  They are functional, but far from perfect.

Known Issues:

These issues will likely be fixed when Swiftpage rolls out their official Windows 10 support update.  This list is collected from various user reports, is not necessarily consistent with every installation.

Some users have reported that:

  • “Object reference not set to instance of an object” upon Act! close.  Message can be dismissed. — FIXED in latest HotFixes
  • required to manually start SQL Server ACT7 instance after a reboot.
  • Act! will open the phone info dialog when launching the program
  • Act! crashes when opening a document — Microsoft Interop Word error — FIXED: apply latest v17.2 HF 0 HotFix
  • An RPC Server error appears when attaching documents to a contact — FIXED: follow steps in KB 38199

Several of these errors do have associated knowledgebase articles that can repair them.  But they are listed here as sometimes not working right “out of the box.”

For Best Results:

Act! v17.2 seems to work well when it is a “clean” install, on a new copy of Windows 10.  If you are upgrading from a previous version of Windows or previous version of Act!, these glitches seem more common.

If you purchase a new computer that has Windows 10 pre-installed, you should be able to install Act! v17.2 fresh, apply HotFix 0, and run it fine with no issues!

Five free & easy ways to your boost online presence

5. Use Google’s Web Toolkit

Google has a wonderful habit of creating some of the most powerful & well-designed tools, and then providing them for free.  Adding these tools lets Google collect better data on your website and traffic, thus boosting your search engine rank.

Google Analytics gives highly detailed reports on web traffic, with great charts and visuals.  See who found you, how they found you, and what they’re after.



Google Webmaster Tools provides reports on how to improve your site’s compatibility and user experience.  You can even initiate manual “crawls” – that is, prompt Google to fetch your website and re-index its content, rather than waiting for Google to auto-crawl periodically.



Google AdWords will also give a huge boost to traffic… but this article is titled “free” methods!  Google paid search ads are very affordable though, and can see good results.  It’s a common rumor that Google plays favorites, even in the organic (unpaid) search results, with those companies that pay them.

Call me to get started setting these up!

4. Try out Zoho SalesIQ

If you haven’t heard of the Zoho family of products, definitely ask us for a demo!  They are continuously releasing innovative new apps; at the time of this article, there are 28 integrated cloud-based products doing everything from CRM, email marketing, a quickbooks alternative, HR recruiting, and much more.

The best part – every Zoho product has a free account service level.  These aren’t limited trials or demos, and they don’t sell your data like other free products do.

Zoho SalesIQ is a chat box & tracking feature for your website.  You can see it in the lower right corner of our page.  This allows our visitors to initiate a chat with us, and turn visits into sales.  We can even see a live map of you on the site right now, on this page, and start a chat with you!



3. Use <meta> tags

The web standard for helping search engines index your page is the <meta> tag.  These tags are data such as keywords, title, and description that you place in your site’s header.  They are invisible to the viewers, but the search engine robots are searching for them; this is what they’ll display in search results.

Keep these tags relevant, and limited.  Use them liberally but don’t go overboard – they get ignored after a certain limit.

2. Put an interesting link in your email signature

Perhaps that’s what brought you here.

Everyone has their website URL in their footer, but it won’t generate too much attention.  Consider making an article just like mine for your business — “10 Best ___”, or “5 Common Mistakes when ___”.

It’s a great passive way to engage the people you email every day.

1. Update often!

Singlehandedly, unequivocally, hands-down the best thing you can do to improve your page ranks!  For all the paid SEO services in the world, nothing compares to genuine, new, fresh content.

The internet is a fast place.  When the Google robots are crawling your page and see nothing has changed since their last visit, you fall behind.

Too many business sites are “digital brochures.”  A nice pamphlet that was beautifully designed and published online for the world to see — and then never changed since 2011.  If you can find time, even a couple times per month, to post something new on your site, the effect is far more profound than everything else in this article combined.

Act! Moves to Subscription Pricing

ACT!’s Recent Move to Subscription Pricing – What does it mean to you?

Please note that subscription pricing only affects ACT! Premium. The lower cost ACT! Pro version is still sold as a perpetual license with optional support. ACT! Pro is limited to 10 users and this may be cut to 5 users.

“Do you purchase your car or lease it?”

Introduced in 1987, ACT! was one of the original Contact Manager / CRM products. Back then software was something you bought periodically. You started with a new license and then bought an occasional upgrade every few years to keep your software up to date and compatible with all of your other programs. Upgrades were really new versions offered to loyal customers at a discount, usually 50-60% of a new license.
Let’s say your software costs $500 new and upgrades were $300. Your software expense over time might look something like this:

Year 1 $500
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4 $300
Year 5
Year 6
Year 7 $300
Year 8
Year 9
Year 10 $300
Total $1400

Later, in effort to develop more recurring revenue, Companies like ACT! began offering maintenance and support plans that gave you each year’s upgrade and some telephone support. The plans were usually 25% – 35% of the list price. So your software spend could look like:

Year 1 $500
Year 2 $125
Year 3 $125
Year 4 $125
Year 5 $125
Year 6 $125
Year 7 $125
Year 8 $125
Year 9 $125
Year 10 $125
Total $1625

A little bit higher, but you were always assured of being in the most recent version and getting some level of support from ACT!.
Now, with Software as a Service (SaaS) or “cloudy” apps, you can sign up for software and pay a monthly fee to use it. Although ACT! is most often installed on your equipment, they have built in the ability to remotely turn ACT! on or off.

With ACT!’s new entry into subscription pricing, you have two options. The first is a perpetual license similar to what you have now. You pay $500 for the license which include 1 year of upgrades and support. After that, you have the option of renewing maintenance for $250/year. If you choose not to renew, you can continue to use your existing ACT license forever or until it is no longer practical.

Year 1 $500
Year 2 $250
Year 3 $250
Year 4 $250
Year 5 $250
Year 6 $250
Year 7 $250
Year 8 $250
Year 9 $250
Year 10 $250
Total $2750

The second option is always subscription. You pay $250/year every year. If you ever stop paying, your ACT! service is turned off. 10 years of ACT will cost your $2500.
There are discounts for quantities of licenses and for people who are upgrading. For example, a company with 10 users get a 5% discount and if they are currently on ACT 2013, v16 or v17, they get the service for $180.50/license/year. Their total cost for 10 users is $1805/year or $18,050 over tem years.
So, like leasing a car, you’ll probably pay more with subscription than you did with the old “Buy & Hold” ACT software of the past. The Buy & Hold model is no longer offered by ACT!. ACT! is no alone in this practice. You’ve most likely noticed that Microsoft Office is now on a subscription model. When Windows 10 comes out in 2015, you’ll see a lot more service based software.

There are wrinkles to the plan depending on what version of ACT you have, how many and whether you are on an existing business care plan. Also, if you host your own ACT or want a ACT! or another hosting partner to host it for you. So many wrinkles that we cannot explain them all. Please call us to review your situation and needs and we’ll work out the best solution for you.

In short, ACT! is now bundling their upgrades and support into their product, causing the price to rise. In the past, these services were optional. ACT! is still a fairly low cost CRM system. Consider Salesforce at $65/user/month or $125/user/month for the Enterprise version. Twelve/Three also sells other SaaS CRM products such as Zoho CRM. You have plenty of options with ACT and even with other CRM products.

Twelve/Three is a certified Zoho Creator Developer!

On April 20th 2015, Geoff passed the Zoho Certified Developer Program for Zoho Creator (link opens in new tab). Twelve/Three is excited to build and sell custom apps on the Zoho Marketplace. With this certification, Twelve/Three becomes the only certified Zoho Creator partner in Western New York, serving the greater Northeast region. Congratulations!  More certifications to follow!

Email Marketing – It’s all about perspective.

Email Marketing – It’s all about perspective.

email resultsFirst, a true little story. I have a friend who sold penny stocks back in the 80’s. He was doing a lot of cold calling and he told me about a sales system he used.

He would start with a list of 100 cold names. He would call them with something like,

“You don’t know me and you should not invest with me until I’ve proven myself. I just want you to watch Stock X for a month. I promise you it will go up.”

Actually, he told 50 of those 100 people that it would go up. He told the other 50 it would go down. After a month, he threw away the 50 names he had been wrong with and called the 50 he was right about.

He would tell them to now look at Stock Y. He told 25 of those 50 that Y would go up and the other 25 it would go down. You can see where this is going. After four rounds, he had 6 people remaining who watched him pick 4 straight stocks without fail.

From their perspective, he was a genius.

What does this story have to do with Email Marketing? You need to look at your communications from the recipient’s perspective. A very common mistake in Email Marketing (and sales people in general) is to talk about yourself and all of the things you can do or all of things your company does. Most clients only want to know what you can do for them.

If you put 10 different points forward into your Email and 9 don’t apply to a particular reader, then the reader will wonder why he is getting these messages as they don’t apply to him/her.


Another story – A very long time ago I worked for a business that sold measuring instruments. Specifically, we could measure the amount of liquid in a tank. The liquid could be milk, sewage, gasoline, etc. The same product could be sold to many industries.

But engineers in each of these industries had very specific needs and these needed to be addressed.

The dairy engineer was very worried about bacterial growth. He wanted to know the product was smooth and easily cleaned. He also wanted to know that we could ship overnight replacements if one failed. Dairies cannot turn off the cows and production must be maintained.

The sewage treatment facility was usually a municipality and wanted low pricing, usually by a bid process.

The gasoline storage facility wanted to make sure the device did not put any electricity or sparks into the tank. The term is “Explosion Proof”. They also hated leaks as it got the EPA interested in them.

If we had sent out a Newsletter with a picture of a sewage treatment plant, the dairy engineer wouldn’t be impressed. He’d think “These people don’t know me”. So we began to create a series of Newsletters that were very targeted and spoke specifically to their needs.

We created a “Food, Dairy & Pharmaceutical” Newsletter, a Wastewater Newsletter, etc. Over time the readers began to think of us a experts who were uniquely devoted to their business.