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4 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware

Different IT professionals might not agree about everything, but we all hate ransomware. We hope you’re not too familiar with this particular type of malicious software, but you have probably heard about it or seen in on the news. It usually involves computers and workstations being locked behind encryption until a payment is made to an anonymous third-party. Hence the “ransom” part of the name.

While everyone but hackers hates ransomware, it’s clear that the trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Already in 2018 we’ve seen the SamSam attack affect thousands of organizations, including hospitals and governmental agencies.

Should you worry about something similar happening to you? How can you prevent your company from being held hostage for tens of thousands of dollars? Can you even prevent these attacks at all?

To help you get the answers you need, let’s look at four things you need to know about ransomware…

 

#1 The Best Cure for Ransomware is to Avoid It

This might seem obvious, but it’s important to mention. The best way to deal with a ransomware attack is to not endure one in the first place. Often, businesses are affected through suspicious attachments, unknown downloads, or employee visits to unsafe websites.

With a little bit of training and the right virus protection tools in place you can cut out the most significant risks. This will also help protect you from phishing scams, data breaches, and the other kinds of IT-related headaches that keep you up at night.

 

#2 It’s Not a Great Idea to Pay the Ransom

Assuming you are affected by ransomware, it's generally not that wise to pay the requested fee (which hackers will typically want in untraceable crypto currencies). After all, if you give up money now, what’s to stop a criminal for asking for more later? They already know you’ll pay.

Also, paying a ransom for access to your files just papers over the problems instead of putting better longer-term solutions in place.

 

#3 A Good IT Team Can Sometimes Beat Ransomware Easily

There are a lot of factors that determine how severe a ransomware infection is. These include the specific software being used, the number of devices affected, etc. It’s easy to understand why some targets (including the hospital we already mentioned) choose to spend money rather than wait for a fix.

However, if you have a good IT team working on your side they may be able to brush off a ransomware attack by using standard virus removal techniques or restoring an old backup. These are simple and cost-effective steps that might resolve the problem very quickly.

 

#4 Ransomware Infections Can Be a Sign of Bigger Problems

As a rule of thumb, having a ransomware infection suggests – at the very least – that a review of training procedures and web security software is in order. As we mentioned, these types of issues normally don’t come out of nowhere. Instead, they usually suggest an organization isn’t paying enough attention.

No matter what the outcome, it’s important to learn from a ransomware attack and come through the process a little bit stronger and wiser. Otherwise, the damage could be even worse the next time around.

 

Is Your Business or Organization Properly Protected From Ransomware?

If you worry that your company or agency doesn’t have the right kinds of data protection and cybersecurity tools and procedures in place then don’t wait for something bad to happen. Call the experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today so we can assess your technology and start taking steps to keep you covered.

7 Proven Tactics for Massive Website Conversions


Are you sick of seeing visitors come to your website without completing a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or otherwise taking action to further a sale? Do you have plenty of searches and social visits, but too many bounces and too few revenue-generating results?

If so, you might need one of our seven proven tactics for massive website conversions. Let’s look at some tools you can put to use in your business today…

 

#1 Better Traffic-to-Landing-Page Alignment

Wherever your web traffic is coming from, visitors have something on their minds when they arrive on your website. Keep those “pain points” in mind as you put your landing pages together. The more a potential customer identifies with your marketing messages, the easier will be for you to persuade them to take the next step.

 

#2 Instant Discount Codes

It goes without saying that price is a big consideration for a first-time customer. They want to get as much as they can for the lowest possible price. By offering instant coupon codes for new customers you can sometimes nudge otherwise-reluctant buyers forward so they feel comfortable placing their first-order on your website.

 

#3 Customer-Focused Information Offers

In situations where there is a big purchase or decision to be made, you can’t always persuade a prospect to take a huge step all at once. What you can do, though, is offer a very targeted piece of information (like a downloadable e-book or video) that helps them to see the value of what you have to sell. That gives you a way to follow up with them again later and get them thinking about your solutions.

 

#4 Targeted Video Testimonials From Customers

Online marketing can present you with a catch-22 situation. On the one hand, your content has to be compelling if you want to generate results. But on the other hand, if your content is too good buyers will be skeptical of your claims. By showing them video testimonials from other real customers you can break through their hesitation and allow them to move forward confidently.

 

#5 Money-Back Guarantees on Your Products

Just like testimonials, money-back guarantees help prospective customers to remove some of the perceived risk from a transaction. If they know they can recover any cash that has been spent in the event that they aren’t 100% satisfied, then there isn’t much of a reason for them to hesitate in buying.

 

#6 Dynamic Content and Individualized Offers

It’s easier than ever to integrate dynamic content into your website. These could be pages, offers, or even pop-up ads that change based on browsing history, shopping cart behavior, etc. Given that no two buyers have the exact same needs, integrating that kind of individualized approach to your marketing can be a huge boost to conversion rates.

 

#7 Retargeting Ads That Give Buyers a Second Chance

Internet marketers are starting to realize what great salespeople have known for decades: that “no” usually isn’t a final answer. With retargeting ads, you can give buyers additional chances to come back to your website even after they’ve failed to convert on the first visit. In some businesses these campaigns can triple or even quadruple conversion rates.

 

Ready to Boost Your Website Conversions?

If you want to see more visitors coming to your website – and turn more of those visits into sales opportunities – you need a creative team that understands what it takes to generate real-world results you can see in your bottom line. Contact Kinetik IT in Phoenix today to schedule a free consultation!


How Your Outdated Network is Slowing You Down


We have learned over the years that business owners and executives generally don't think about their networks, or networking equipment, until it becomes a problem. New servers or data packages aren’t items anyone is eager to add to a yearly budget, and few business-minded people want to dig into the technical details of their hardware and software all that often.

Put these factors together and it’s no wonder we often find ourselves dealing with outdated networks that cause big problems behind the scenes.

If you have an older network it could be slowing your company or organization down – both literally and figuratively. To help you understand why, let’s look at a few issues that tend to creep up when you haven’t updated your technology for a while…

 

Poor Connection Speeds

If you routinely find you get faster connection speeds through your phone or tablet then you do the actual computers in your office, that could be a sign your network is outdated or severely overtaxed. Slow connection speeds aren’t just annoying; they can lead to timeouts, unsubmitted forms, missing emails, and a host of other issues that cost you money.

 

Insufficient Bandwidth for All Devices

Some older networks have equipment that can only handle so many devices comfortably at once. That can be a big problem, even in a small office. Once you start adding workstations and laptops to phones, printers, and even web-connected smart devices onto an aging router (for example), some employees or tasks are going to suffer. This might even lead to random dropped connections, or just slow connectivity throughout your business.

 

A Lack of Proper Online Security

Emails that won’t send and printers that go offline are annoying but survivable. Behind-the-scenes, though, a slow and aging network might not be properly configured to help you fight off criminals who want to steal your data or hack your website. That’s partly because they might not have the right encryption or firmware, and partly because they may not be compatible with newer cloud platforms or virus protection systems. Either way, your business and bottom line are at risk.

 

Incompatibility with Newer Hardware and Software

We all know that the world of technology moves quickly. If you’re still using equipment or operating systems from years gone by, then it will inevitably cause conflicts with newer hardware and software. In other words, if you don’t keep up with the times then the devices and apps you spend money on won’t work the way they are supposed to (and might not work at all). To keep your business lean, efficient, and competitive you can’t afford to waste money on new tech and not get the benefits of upgrading.

 

Small Aggravations and Productivity Problems

While we have largely focused on the large issues that come up with an outdated network, the reality is that living with old servers and service plans is like dying by a thousand cuts. They’re just so many ways your business is affected, from online research that takes longer than it should to VOIP calls that never come through clearly. The end result is a business that’s slower than it should be, and customers who wonder why you don’t seem to be as sharp as your competitors. That’s a big price to pay for holding onto an outdated network.

 

Need Someone to Review Your Network Setup?

Want to know if your network is causing you problems, or if there are cost-effective ways to use technology to solve your biggest business challenges? Contact the experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today. We can schedule a consultation and show you exactly what is and isn’t working with your current IT plan.

How Building Your Brand Can Seriously Boost Sales


Branding is a big topic. It’s such a big one, in fact, that amidst all the talk about logos, identities, and style sheets, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it isn’t an abstract concept. The fact of the matter is that building your brand can help you boost sales. We know because it’s a story we’ve seen play out again and again.

Wondering exactly how the money you spend on improving your brand and image could come back to you in terms of new sales, accounts, or appointments? Let’s look at a few of the most obvious ways…

 

Branding is about Instant Impressions

When you have a great brand in place, you'll make a sharp first impression on potential customers, colleagues, and even employees. That means you have an immediate advantage and people are more apt to decide to work with you. That’s because they began the relationship assuming you are competent, professional, and trustworthy.

Conversely, when your branding is vague or underwhelming you don’t begin with any of these advantages. That makes it harder to establish the right tone later.

 

People Recognize Brands over Products and Prices

Business owners often assume customers buy based on price. That's certainly a factor, but it’s definitely not the only one. Just look at the way many people will pay premiums for certain types of clothing, food, or luxury items even though more cost-effective choices are available.

When people know and like your brand, they are more likely to buy from you even if competitors sell similar products or services for less.

 

Strong Branding Builds Trust

The real goal of your branding effort should be to establish an identity in the marketplace that is instantly recognized by anyone within your customer base. That is, when they see your logo they know exactly who you are, what you’re about, and why they should work with you instead of taking their business elsewhere.

All of this comes back to an issue of trust. When you have a strong brand, it means buyers implicitly trust your marketing messages in a way they don’t trust others.

 

The Right Branding Campaign Can Increase Referrals

Although we’ve touched on the advantages of branding in a one-to-one setting, it’s also true that you can increase positive referrals and reviews with a strong brand. Buyers feel more comfortable recommending businesses that are known to others. Furthermore, we all have a subconscious bias towards being associated with winning and success.

When your brand is strong enough people will want your prestige to rub off on them. That means more introductions, better candidates for your job openings, and bigger opportunities to expand.

 

Good Branding Improves Conversion on All Marketing Campaigns

Your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The more well-known it gets, the more effective the rest of your marketing is. When people know your image and message they are more responsive to email, online ads, and even print offers. That, in turn, boosts your brand even more.

The bottom line is that a strong branding effort tends to be self-fulfilling over time. The more you put into it, the bigger rewards you’re going to get out of the process later.

 

Need Help With Your Company’s Brand?

At Kinetik IT in Phoenix, we have helped hundreds of companies to establish themselves as leaders in the marketplace. From logos and visual identities to brand development and style sheets, we know what it takes to separate your business from the competition.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see what we can do for you!


What Can Happen When You Don’t Back Up Your Website?


As a leading web design firm and IT provider, we always advise our clients to back up any sensitive data they need to run their companies. This applies especially strongly to websites, copies of which should be made regularly and stored on a secure and remote server.

Unfortunately, many business owners and executives don’t have someone reminding them to back up their websites. And even when they do, they don’t always follow this good piece of advice.

With that in mind, today we want to take a look at what can happen when you don’t back up your website regularly. Here are just a few of the possible consequences…

 

Your Content May Permanently Disappear

If your website isn’t being backed up, then it’s entirely possible that the only layout, content, and collected information might live on a hosting server somewhere. Although it doesn’t happen often, these servers can crash or suffer hardware failures. And, they can be targets for hackers.

Should any of these events come to occur, you could lose access to everything that has been written and designed for your company. That could set your marketing plan back years.

 

Sales and Leads Might Grind to a Halt

Once your website goes down without a backup copy ready to use, you won’t just be facing the pain and expense of rebuilding your web presence from the ground up. That’s because you’ll probably miss out on lots of sales and leads in the meantime.

Imagine what would happen to your bottom line if your most powerful source of new revenue suddenly dried up. Why risk that when it’s so easy to put backup copies of your website in place?

 

Your Credibility Takes a Big Hit

Obviously, a website that’s offline can’t generate online sales, leads, or walk-in visits for your business. However, it’s worth pointing out that a missing website sends a bad message to potential customers or colleagues. How likely would you be to contact the company if you visited them online and found nothing but an error message or a “coming soon” page?

Even worse, with no existing website in place it could take weeks to get back online. That means a lot of lost sales and some business opportunities you might not ever get back.

 

You Could Lose Access to Email

In some cases, a hosting plan might be tied in together with an email server. In other words, if one disappears, or has to be reinstalled, you could lose access to the other.

What this really means in the real world is that an issue with your website could lead to an unexpected email outage. For that reason, a good IT provider will ensure your email messages are being backed up along with any content on your business website.

 

You Start Your Next Web Design from Scratch

As we’ve already mentioned, losing your website without any backups can mean wiping out all the pages, blog posts, and updates you’ve worked to create over the years. That creates headaches because it means your next web designer has to start from nothing, while Google may ignore you because your website appears to be broken.

There’s never a good time to begin from nothing online, particularly when you've already devoted time and money to building up your online footprint. Don’t throw away the progress you’ve made simply because you don’t have backup copies of your website in place.

Want to learn more about protecting your website and data? Contact the Kinetik IT team in Phoenix today so we can help you find the first steps you’re looking for.


Planning the Perfect Web Development Project


Web development is something of an interesting topic in business circles. To some owners and executives, it essentially amounts to website design. To others, and particularly those in the online marketing industry, development has more to do with functionality and user features than it does visuals and layouts.

These two areas of business website creation tend to overlap quite a bit, of course, but the point is that you probably want an online presence for your company that does more than show pictures of your team and products. In this day and age, you want pages and applications that give information, automate data collection, and perform lots of other features that help your bottom line.

The good news is that all of that is very possible. The bad news is that it won’t happen by accident. If you want a website that’s as versatile as a business tool as it is an online brochure, you’re going to have to plan ahead.

With that in mind, let’s look at a handful of key questions you should ask yourself when planning the perfect web development project…

 

What do You Want Your Website to do?

You can think of this question in a couple of ways. The first points at the specific features you’d like to have included on your site. Maybe you want to have real-time inventory and pricing data. Perhaps your customers can benefit from shipping information or currency calculators. It could be that a live customer chat feature would help you get more orders and decrease returns.

In a bigger picture sense, though, we would invite you to think about what it is you want your website to do for your business. How could it impact your bottom line by helping you to improve sales, increase your margins, or cut costs? Often, the goals you have for your company can help lead you to the right features to integrate on your pages.

Until you know what it is you want your website to actually accomplish, it’s difficult to create a plan that will meet your needs.

 

How Do You Want Your Website to Look?

This is the part of the process business owners and executives love. And, even though we are emphasizing the functionality and business power of a web presence, aesthetics are still important.

That’s because your website shouldn’t just “look good.” It should reflect your value and unique selling proposition by positioning you correctly against your colleagues and competitors. And, it should be designed in a way that grabs the attention of your most important prospects and customers. It should almost literally jump off the page and make them want to interact with your content.

Make no mistake: your website has to do a lot of things, but it also has to look like something buyers want to use. If it doesn’t, then all the features in the world aren’t going to help.

 

What Existing Apps Can Help You Meet Your Business Goals?

When it comes to web programming, not everything has to be built from the ground up. In fact, they’re so many apps and plug-ins out there that work alongside WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and every other major platform that you can often get by with little or no custom development.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that it’s easy to overload your website with extraneous plug-ins that add little to user experience while slowing down your website or adding security risks. Think of them like ornaments on a Christmas tree – you really stand out, but too many can tip the whole thing over on its side.

This is another area where a good development team can help you to not only find the right solutions, but to figure out what you really need on your website in the first place. They can help you find the fine line between giving visitors lots to use and keeping your website working quickly and cleanly.

 

Is Your Web Development Project Worth the Time and Expense?

Just like anything else in your business, there should be a cost and benefit analysis attached to website development. You might not want to pay for all the features you have in mind, and some ideas may turn out to be unprofitable in the long run.

In most cases, the biggest risk associated with spending money on web development is putting too little into a project. That might sound counter intuitive, but a truly innovative website sets you apart from your competitors. If you have functions and features they don’t, customers will come your way. But if you cut corners when having your site developed, it can come off as generic, glitchy, or hard to use. In that case, the money you’ve spent will have been wasted.

If you have a great idea for a web development project that can take your business to the next level, then commit the right resources to the job. Good programming costs less than you would imagine, and it almost always pays for itself in the long run.

 

What Plans Do You Have to Update Your Web Programming?

The golden rule of coming up with custom software – whether it’s going to be used on the web or locally through a computer or phone – is that you have to plan for future updates, patches, and new releases.

Obviously, doing a bit of planning with your project and hiring the right company is going to cut down on the revision work that is needed, and will stretch out the time between new versions. Eventually, though, your needs for your site will change. Or, web browsers and HTML standards will shift. Either way, you’ll have to release something new to keep up or watch your business fall behind.

The good news here is that updating a well-programmed website is hardly ever a big or expensive project, even if it contains custom code to run specific features. However, if you ignore this part of the process, you’ll have a hard time maintaining a positive ROI as your competitors catch up and then surpass you.

 

Web Development Made Easy

When most business owners and executives decide they “need a website,” they don’t have any of these issues on their minds. And even when they have thought about a website in terms of programming and functionality, it’s easy to lose track of important priorities when they are sorting through layouts, logos, and content.

That’s why it’s important to choose the right creative team if you want a website that has advanced features. The right firm will take the time to get to know your business, ask you about your needs, and even make suggestions that can help your company rather than creating a generic web presence for you as quickly and cheaply as possible.

If that sounds like the kind of service you want and expect, then maybe it’s time to talk to the experienced marketing and programming minds at Kinetik IT in Phoenix. Drawing on what we’ve learned building websites, software, and online marketing campaigns for dozens of organizations around Arizona, we can answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

Reach out today to schedule your free consultation!