Chinese Exchanges to Lessen Bitcoin Fees by Building Lightning-Like Tech
An insider source told Chinese cryptocurrency news agency
On June 3, an insider source told Chinese cryptocurrency news agency CnLedger that two of the largest Chinese bitcoin exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are currently working on the development of an off-chain payment channel similar to the Lightning network to lower transaction fees.
“Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are working on building a Lightning Network-like channel, to lower transaction fee and alleviate congestion.”
The utilization of private blockchain networks and off-chain solutions is not a new concept. Popular platforms such as Coinbase and many mobile applications such as BTCC’s Mobi have utilized private blockchains to increase the flexibility of their applications. On March 20, BTCC released a mobile app called Mobi designed to increase liquidity and ease trading for casual traders and users. The app offers a bitcoin debit card service that allows users to purchase items and service from both online and offline merchants. In its official press release, BTCC emphasized that Mobi operates on top of a private blockchain which can be used to send money instantly to 2 billion smartphone users. If the money is sent as a bitcoin transaction, it is first processed within Mobi’s private blockchain network and then broadcasted onto the Bitcoin public blockchain.
“Mobi accounts are linked to users’ mobile numbers; all that is needed to use Mobi is a smartphone. Mobi users can instantly transfer funds to any of the two billion other global smartphone users using Mobi’s private blockchain. Mobi also supports bitcoin transfers on the Bitcoin public blockchain,” explained the BTCC development team. There exist many reasons why companies including Coinbase and Mobi utilize private blockchains, but the major factor is speed and functionality. The presence of an off-chain solution and a private blockchain allows apps to operate on top of a more flexible platform. For instance, Coinbase serves just over seven and a half million users on its platform. In April, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong highlighted that Coinbase stored ten percent of all bitcoins in circulation. The sheer magnitude of bitcoin transactions and trades Coinbase deals with makes it impractical for the platform to process all transactions on-chain. Thus, to deal with the increasing activities, Coinbase stores and processes transactions in a separate ledger.
On non-custodial bitcoin wallet platforms such as Blockchain, only users have access to private keys, and therefore, even if accounts are hacked, hackers cannot gain access to user funds. However, on platforms like Coinbase and other exchanges as seen in the case of Bitfinex, the circumstances are different. In fact, Armstrong encouraged users to log all activities in the event of a breach of an efficient auditing process. “It is critical to have a good audit trail if there ever is an incident. The only thing worse than being hacked, is being hacked but not knowing how it happened,” said Armstrong. CnLedger’s inside source stated that the two Chinese exchanges are working hard to create a Lightning-like payment channel that will likely operate similarly to Coinbase and Mobi’s private blockchains to address increasing demand for bitcoin and trading activities.
“Details are still unknown. But one insider told me that they've been working hard on this. The result will be only one settlement each day,” revealed CnLedger. Some experts including Andrew Keys of Consensus Systems (ConsenSys) recommended networks like the Raiden Network, a high-speed asset transfer platform for Ethereum, to go with the two exchanges’ recent Ethereum integration. The activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit) is expected to drastically improve the infrastructure for two-layer solutions like Lightning and also, the Lightning-like payment channels that are being built by companies like Huobi and OKCoin.
Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Bought Bitcoin at $700, He’s “Way Up” Now
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has spoken about his early interest in bitcoin
and an attempt to buy the world’s most prominent cryptocurrency back when it was trading at $70 per coin. He eventually bought it at $700. Speaking on stage at a tech conference in Miami, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak underlined bitcoin’s importance in bringing FinTech’s poster child, blockchain technology, to the mainstream. The tech mogul was asked by a member of the audience about the ‘meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies’ & blockchain technology and their collective potential for transformative change in society.
To this, Wozniak pointed blockchain technology’s core features in security and traceability, underlining them as factors behind every corner of the global banking industry looking into the decentralized innovation. “Bitcoin is the well-known cybercurrency that really bought all of this to our attention,” Wozniak said, in his response that was just as much about educating the audience as it was him praising the technology. Wozniak then spoke about how he tried to acquire bitcoin years ago when the now-soaring cryptocurrency was trading at $70 per coin. Not as an investor, but as an adopter who was looking to own and “play” with it.
I remember getting interested in bitcoin some time ago. It was $70 for a bitcoin. Man, I went online and you had to have a special bank account at a certain bank and I couldn’t buy any bitcoin so I gave up. Eventually I got some of them at the $700 stage and then it went down to $350. Oh my gosh. I didn’t invest, I did it so I could play with bitcoin. How do you buy things and how could you sell things?
He then spoke about looking at websites that would accept bitcoin for payments and mentioned Tiger, presumably Tigerdirect. Since those early days, bitcoin has since come a long way with the likes of Microsoft, Dell, Newegg, Overstock and Rakuten, among a handful of many, to accept the cryptocurrency.
Bitten by the Bitcoin Bug
Long retired from his day job, Wozniak is now a philanthropist and an investor. As an early bitcoiner, he also spoke about looking for establishments – hotels and restaurants – who accepted bitcoin during his travels. “Then I found out when I travel, you could look ahead to a city and find out which hotels, which restaurants accept bitcoin,” he continued, stating that bitcoin is “getting there” as a method of payment. “It’s becoming…it’s getting there…it’s just not there enough to everything you’re used to [buying and selling],” he opined. “It’s getting there.” When reminded that bitcoin is now trading at $3,000, four times the value of when he bought the cryptocurrency,
I was just playing around to find out how to buy and sell stuff and I didn’t care about the fact that I’d lost a ton of money [when it went down, but he held on] and now I’m way up . *Chuckle*
Bitcoin checked into 2017 by trading at $1,000 on the first day of the year. Six months later this Sunday, the cryptocurrency had tripled to $3,000 to reach a new all-time high. At the time of publishing, bitcoin is trading at around $2,730 on Bitstamp.
MIT Graduate-led Startup Enigma Unveils Cryptocurrency Investment Platform
California-based blockchain startup Enigma has announced the creation
of a cryptocurrencyinvestment platform that allows developers to start their own digital asset investment funds based on trading strategies that they create themselves.The platform, named Catalyst, enables developers to create investment funds where they have full control of how their digital assets are handled. Developers are free to incorporate whatever variable they see fit into the algorithms that govern their fund.
The platform is the brainchild of Silicon Valley startup Enigma that is led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates. The Enigma team has previously created a different platform that aimed to give users control over their data, who has access to it and, ultimately the ability to sell the data at a profit while retaining their anonymity. Now, the Guy Zyskind-led team has set its sights on cryptocurrency trading. “A lot of people are starting to look into it, and invest in it, but it’s still very much kind of like the Wild West,” says Enigma CEO, Guy Zyskind of the cryptocurrency market. This is the reasoning behind the creation of Catalyst, which seeks to open up and demystify the cryptocurrency market to developers and investors alike.
“We are passionate about the role of cryptocurrencies in defining personal financial freedom. We want to play our part in driving their mainstream adoption. Our vision is to enable developers to build winning investment strategies, a strong track record and attract investment from community investors,” Enigma explained in their announcement. The team defines Catalyst as “a platform that empowers anyone to build their own crypto hedge fund and participate in the coming Renaissance of the financial ecosystem. Catalyst is a playground where developers, quants, and experienced traders can easily build, simulate, and eventually live trade cryptocurrencies using sophisticated programmatic strategies.”
How It Works
“To begin trading, users open payment channels with a chosen liquidity provider, in the currencies they wish to trade. Orders are then submitted to the liquidity provider that a trader chooses, and matched with an online counterparty. Finally, the assets are exchanged atomically by executing a single, cross-chain payment, routed through the liquidity provider,” the Catalyst white paper explains. The platform is designed to ensure that the investors maintain full control and ownership of their assets at all times. The platform also allows for the details of the trading
Algorithms to be kept private:
“The core of Catalyst’s architecture provides a method of performing cross-chain atomic swaps using hashed timelock contracts (HTLCs), operating under the direction of an algorithmic trade manager. This ensures that traders can maintain custody of their assets and privacy of their trading algorithms.”
The team plans to open source their infrastructure which they hope will further enhance and grow both the market and their platform. “We believe an ecosystem of multiple exchanges will further enhance the reliability of the trading infrastructure and liquidity of the underlying payment networks, while simultaneously providing an avenue for scaling beyond the throughput of a single exchange.”
Further to its vision of opening up and growing the cryptocurrency investment market, the Catalyst platform will be able to handle live trading of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s). “One of Catalyst‘s long-term goals is support live-trading of ICO tokens. These tokens are typically managed via an Ethereum smart contract, thus, our implementation plans to be fully compatible with the proposed Raiden Network, which enables off-chain transfers of value between Ethereum smart contracts.” or investment strategies that are able to generate high returns, the team recognizes that developers must have access to all pertinent data and addresses this through the creation of a data bank of sorts within the platform which they believe will make
The process easier:
“Developers will be able to access a large variety of data sources specifically around crypto-assets. These include price data, sentiment data, social networking data, and more. While we plan to curate the initial data sets, it is likely that most data will be generated by the community in return for incentives. Developers can utilize the myriad of data sources that will be made available through our platform to build their models, back-test them according to historical data, as well as put their strategies to the test in a simulated or real trading environment.”
Enigma hopes the platform will be attractive to developers who are interested in creating algorithms for the cryptocurrency market since they do not have to put up the initial capital themselves. “Beyond making development of crypto-trading strategies easy, our goal is to create a marketplace for trading strategies that non-developers can invest in. In this way, developers are not required to obtain capital to fund their algorithms personally. Instead, they can focus on becoming the best algo-traders they can be, while earning management and performance fees from investors that choose to invest in their strategies.”
Though the platform will initially only be available to developers with coding experience, there are plans to incorporate certain tools to allow “regular” people to create their own strategies. “In order to further lower barriers to invest in and increase adoption of crypto-assets, we will offer tools that enables individuals with no coding experience to build, test and master algorithmic trading strategies. This interface would be similar to the visual programming languages, like Scratch developed at MIT, and would provide full-functionality of the Trading SDK and connect to all existing data sources.”
To allow investors to put money into the fund with the best performance, there will be a “web-based leaderboard ranking of all strategies deployed by developers. These will include standard return and risk metrics, such as ROI, Sharpe ratio, alpha and beta and max drawdown.” The investors have the choice to put their money in the well-performing funds, at a management fee to the fund developers, as is the practice in traditional investment funds.
Catalyst hopes to help both experienced investors and newcomers make smart cryptocurrency trading choices. “This kind of marketplace can benefit both the investors, who now have access to algorithmic trading, as well as the developers, who may lack the capital to fund their strategies personally. To the best of our knowledge, our platform will be the first to make machine-based investing accessible. Regular investors can then invest directly in winning strategies through our system.” “From a vision perspective, we would like to be able to enable the average Joes to be able to invest in these technologies as well,” added Can Kisagun, Chief Product Officer at Enigma.
Why Digital Assets Funds Are Poised to Succeed
With the steep rise in demand for both altcoins and newly issued ICO tokens, a platform such as Catalyst will likely draw investor attention once it goes live.
Digital Currency Enthusiasts Expect Ethereum to Become Larger than Bitcoin
Ethereum is closing in on Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization,
trading volume and Google Trends. In terms of other key indicators, Ethereum has already surpassed Bitcoin. This has been a longtime coming not only for Ethereum supporters, but, also, for Bitcoiners who have worried about the digital currency’s scaling issues.These flips in key indicators between the two largest cryptographic assets are tracked by a website, Flippening.watch. In the past 24 hours (at the time of writing), there have been 235,604 Ethereum transactions. But, despite wild success as a ‘peer-to-peer electronic cash’ system, there have been only 216,887 Bitcoin transactions. Ethereum’s transaction capabilities have not even been its main feature advertised by proponents. That would be its smart contract and decentralized application functions.
But, ‘the Flippening’ doesn’t stop there. Miners of ether, Ethereum’s native digital token, are enjoying more mining rewards than their bitcoin counterparts. In the last 24 hours, $9,396,000 has been rewarded to ether miners. But, just 5,302,800 has been rewarded to bitcoin miners. Moreover, there are more nodes (30,070) than Bitcoin mining nodes (7,552) as of June 11. Bitcoin’s market capitalization is still larger than Ethereum, which is 66.7% of the former’s. There are more Bitcoin’s being traded than ether, but as ShapeShift announced last week, volume of Bitcoin going into Ethereum was causing slight delays on that platform.
itcoin, despite being at an all-time high, has seen its overall share acrpss the crypto-assets complex shrink in recent months, with Ethereum closing a lot of the gap between the two while trading at all-time highs. Bitcoin has seen its growth stagnate in recent years as discussion about future development has grown heated and created rivalries within the Bitcoin creation community. Ethereum, enjoying the support of large multinational corporations and financial institutions via blockchain consortiums, can today process data faster than Bitcoin. This enables higher volume of lightweight finance pouring through the system and at less expensive rates. Currently, the average Bitcoin transaction costs about $1.50.
While Ethereum theoretically can handle lightweight finance transaction a la Bitcoin, it is proposed and designed to do much more. Smart contracts are meant to fuel decentralized applications known as dApps. Ethereum pledges smart contract and dApp technology will distribute business and legal transactions normally facilitated by banks, public registries and the legal system. Intel, Microsoft and Samsung are experimenting with Ethereum. Meanwhile, large corporations that once accepted Bitcoin on their website, have rescinded acceptance. Bitcoin’s dominance rate might be falling as its utility is falling when compared to other blockchain projects. Further, infighting within its creation community is a source for uncertainty.
While Ethereum is not a bitcoin competitor, the value of Ether is increasing as more people join the Ethereum community at a faster clip than those forming around Bitcoin. Ethereum, which is currently approaching a $30 billion network value, is swiftly closing the gap on Bitcoin’s $50 billion market cap. Assuming things stay on track, Ethereum could surpass Bitcoin’s market capitalization by the year’s end. Although Ethereum proponents will see this as a victory, and some Bitcoin proponents will see this as a failure, the reality is both systems have been very successful.
Oil Giant BP to Test Blockchain Technology With BTL Group
Oil giant BP, the world’s eighth-largest energy company by revenue
($222.8 billion), has officially begun collaborating with Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group. After a few months of successful testing, BP, Italian oil and gas company Eni, and major German energy company Wien Energie all plan to enter a six-month production phase with BTL’s Interbit platform built on top of the blockchain. The three companies will utilize the BTL blockchain platform to trade gas and oil in a transparent and secure ledger.
Before the three companies move on to commercialize BTL’s blockchain technology Interbit, blockchain developers and the group of leading energy companies aim to simulate real-life trades at a commercial rate. Trades of billions of dollars worth of gas and oil will be processed on the Interbit blockchain platform in a simulation to evaluate if the blockchain technology is capable of settling millions of data points in short periods of time with enhanced and optimal security measures. Guy Halford-Thompson, the co-founder and CEO of BTL Group, who introduced one of the first bitcoin ATMs to the UK in 2013,
“Having demonstrated the reductions in risk and cost savings that are achievable we now have an opportunity to deliver the first successful blockchain based application to the energy market.”
The BTL Group is the first public blockchain company located in Canada and the UK that is focusing on the development and implementation of blockchain technology targeted towards the finance, energy and gaming sectors. Because a large number of blockchain companies and consortia are already working with leading financial institutions and banks in utilizing the blockchain to reduce transaction costs and overall expenses, developers of BTL are specifically targeting semi-financial markets.
According to Halford-Thompson, the three oil giants are also considering implementing the blockchain in other areas and operations. Relying on the decentralized and transparent nature of blockchain technology, BTL and the group of energy companies are analyzing the blockchain’s potential in reducing costs of alternative operations. For instance, on top of the conventional structure of the blockchain, various technologies such as smart contracts can be utilized to carry out or conduct agreements autonomously. With the utilization of smart contracts as demonstrated by many public blockchain projects such as Ethereum, companies like BP can automate operations that require a high level of manual work. “We are also very excited that the pilot has enabled participating companies to understand the benefits of Interbit better and identify other areas in their organizations where they can apply it,” said Halford-Thompson.
In an interview, EY partner Andrew Woosey also emphasized the importance of the pilot test of BTL’s Interbit blockchain platform led by BP. Over the past two years, the “Big Four” accounting firms including EY, PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG have been heavily involved in the blockchain sector by helping large conglomerates such as BP understand the intricacies of blockchain technology and implement it efficiently. Woosey also stated that that the group of energy companies is focusing on streamlining back office processes autonomously, ultimately to reduce risk and build resilience toward cyber threats.
“Use of such technology can help by streamlining back office processes, leading to reduced risk, better protection against cyber threats and ultimately significant cost savings. Further engineering and organizational effort are needed to achieve these outcomes,” said Woosey. Currently, a large number of energy companies are looking into the blockchain to optimize operations and reduce costs. In an interview, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin revealed that the $92 billion mining, metals, and petroleum corporation BHP Billiton is participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to develop decentralized applications based on Ethereum.
IOTA Token has Record Breaking Launch on Bitfinex, Hits $1.5 Billion Market Cap
Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex officially launched the IOTA token
At 9:00 am Eastern Standard Time, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex officially launched the IOTA token, IOT. Tradable in IOT/USD and IOT/BTC pairs, tokens for use with the IOTA network are now publicly accessible through the Bitfinex website. This launch represents a milestone for IOTA as they expand their user base. “Exchange listing is something that has become a hallmark for all crypto projects,” says IOTA founder David Sønstebø in conversation with CCN, “it represents that the technology is ready for the open market and the wider audience.” And looking at the numbers from the launch, it seems the open market was ready for IOTA.
After Bitfinex’s announcement on June 4, 2017, regarding the listing of IOT, user demand became readily apparent. The staff at Bitfinex found themselves ‘inundated with requests for details,” explained Bitfinex representative Brandon Carps, “We’ve yet to see this many requests for details on a token listing.” These inquiries lead to an unprecedented amount of support tickets created for Bitfinex.
By the Numbers
After going live on Bitfinex, the transaction volume quickly became so massive that the Bitfinex servers briefly went down. “Moments after the IOTA launch,” Brandon shared, “we were all hands on deck to load balance and ensure IOTA trading was back online and operating as expected.” What kind of volume? Within the first three hours of trading, 4.44 Million Mega IOTA were traded with the IOT/USD pair, an amount that increased by the second. The IOT/BTC trades showed even greater activity, showing 11.67 Million Mega IOTA traded in
The same period.
The first two hours of IOTA trading was more than double the USD volume and ten times greater than the BTC volume of the last token we released, Ripple, over the course of its full trading day.
All of which sees IOT slotting itself straight into the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap. At the time of publishing, the total value of IOT tokens stands above $1.5 billion, peaking beyond the likes of Dash and Monero.
Bitfinex Lists IOT
The team at Bitfinex have been following IOTA’s development closely for the past year. Thanks to the innovative nature of their platform, and the “amount of effort the founders have put into IOTA in just a year’s time relative to the polished product we see today is atypical for something in such an early period of its life,” the IOTA token was an obvious candidate for inclusion on Bitfinex. The relationship is unique for Bitfinex as well, as this is the first token Bitfinex is hosting not listed on any other exchange. In discussing the success of IOT on Bitfinex, David said “I want to congratulate every IOTA member on this success. Now we welcome thousands upon thousands of new people who learn about and get interested in IOTA through this event with open arms. However, we are still considering this the very early days, and are squarely focused on the long term execution and vision of the IOTA project.”
Constructing a Real-Estate
Brick by Brick
BrickCoin, touted as the world’s first blockchain financial platform
On June 6, BrickCoin, touted as the world’s first blockchain financial platform backed entirely by the stability of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), unveiled its vision for a “real estate-backed” global digital currency. BrickCoin seeks to usher in a new normal for consumer saving and financial stability that protects an individual's’ true wealth from the inflationary impact of fiat currencies. BrickCoin uses blockchain technology to drive this next generation of financial solutions that seeks to ensure financial inclusion for all. Those who are unbanked account for over a third of the global population.
BrickCoin uses blockchain as its underlying technology to facilitate the next generation of financial solutions aimed at ensuring financial inclusion for all. Unbanked people account for a third of the world’s population. This demographic is primarily concentrated in the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America and Africa where inflation levels are extremely volatile, and the value of fiat currency is unable to keep pace with inflation, thereby resulting in monetary value. The brainchild behind BrickCoin, humanitarian entrepreneur Lucas Cervigni, asserts that this is not just a problem facing the
“Inflation levels are rising around the globe, chewing into real incomes and savings rates. As a result, the world needs a better, safer and easier way for ordinary people to save and protect their money from inflation.”
He goes on to note that savings accounts and fixed income interest accounts are not inflation-proof and are stuck at record low levels of interest. Complex investment products such as hedge funds, he says, are typically only available to high wealth individuals and require large initial investments and do not offer ready liquidity and are vulnerable to bankruptcy. “By comparison, the debt-free real estate has and always will have intrinsic value, much as the old gold standards did. We plan to use this to create a new inflation-proof, secure but flexible mechanism for ordinary savers to protect their wealth,” continued Cervigni.
His vision is to create an asset-based cryptocurrency, which replaces the vulnerabilities of the current fiat currency system, combining the safety of a real estate investment with the liquidity and performance of a cryptocurrency. These REIT-backed coins will enable anyone to convert their fiat currency into a more stable and protected digital currency that not only increases in value but helps more people to grow their usable savings leading to stronger global economies.
Unlike other assets used to back new and emerging cryptocurrencies, commercial, mortgage-free real estate is a robust and regulated asset that is protected from increasing debt and inflationary cycles. For a large percentage of individuals around the world, BrickCoin’s online platform will represent their only chance to invest in real estate. By purchasing a BrickCoin, token holders will have the ability to build a steady income stream that grows at a guaranteed rate higher than the current inflation rate of their country, offering the individual a safe place to store and grow their wealth.
By way of example, in Venezuela inflation is expected to hit a rate of 2,500 percent by 2018. The currency, the bolivar, is so devalued that many people tote it around in carrier bags rather than wallets. The government has declared the currency to be virtually worthless. Unlike state currencies, BrickCoin’s value cannot simply be declared worthless, nor printed away.
While the opportunity for BrickCoin to fully assist Venezuela may have passed, it does demonstrate how the real world economy can benefit from the crypto economy, preventing or at least limiting the adverse effects of future monetary mismanagement and totalitarian government control. When asked about his journey into the world of blockchain-based, real estate-backed cryptocurrencies, Cervigni had this to say, “My journey into the crypto space began five to six years ago when I met a man called Diego Gutiérrez Zaldívar (president of Bitcoin Argentina) who got me interested in this new crypto tech. He believed that Bitcoin was the technology that was going to change the world.”
“Later, I was working on a real estate development project in London when I realized they needed a faster, cheaper and more user-friendly way to work and found that the Blockchain was the answer. I began using blockchain and cryptocurrency during my work in real estate and over the last five years these early ideas developed into BrickCoin.”
He says that his engagement with Zaldivar was the catalyst for him starting BrickCoin. “He was already crowdfunding for real estate and got me involved.” Cervigni was quick to point out that in the crypto space, a business that has been running six months is considered well-established, BrickCoin has already been running for four years with a longer-term plan for the next decade. He says that within the next ten years the plan is to engage with governments in order to expand BrickCoin to different countries, with different regulators and expand the types of BrickCoins invested in real estate around the world.
“Blockchain is the platform of the future. Everything in the world will be developed using open ledger platform. In respect to real estate, a huge proportion of the world doesn’t own a home; they rent accommodation. At least 15-20 percent do not have a home at all (they live in super precarious housing). There’s an enormous deficit in worldwide housing. We aim to fix that.”
How to Build an Inbound Marketing Strategy in 24 Hours
"I'm active on social media."
"I'm blogging regularly."
"I'm using SEO best practices."
"I feel like I'm doing everything right, but I'm not seeing results."
Do any of these statements sound familiar? A lot of marketers and CEOs we talk to feel like they are doing all the right things. But, they aren't achieving their goals.
A recent survey from DM (Direct Marketing) News confirms this is common. 46% of the executives surveyed, stated that a "lack of an effective strategy" was the biggest obstacle in achieving their inbound marketing goals.
So why is everyone struggling? I'm not quite sure as to WHY, but in this blog, I'll show you HOW you can overcome this obstacle…and overcome it in the next 24 hours. Let's roll!
What is Strategy?
First, let's identify what strategy actually is. It really doesn't have to be that complicated. Strategy is simply a plan of action designed to achieve an expected goal. So, we need a goal to get started. For the purpose of this article, let's say that our goal is to generate 50 qualified leads per month for my sales goal.
A worthy goal.
Now, we need a plan of action that will get us there.
Note: You may have a different inbound marketing goal, so just apply this same framework in order to backtrack from your goal, to an activity plan.
If we're going to generate 50 qualified leads per month for your sales quota, we need to define a "quality lead". Let's pretend we're a coffee distributor that provides energizing weight loss coffee for coffee drinkers, dieters, fitness, etc. If we can get a “Sample” Request, a pre enrolled lead, we consider that a quality lead.
Okay, so now we've got an audience and we know what a quality lead is. We're getting closer to being able to build our plan of action.
Action Steps for Identifying Your Audience:
Nail down your target market. Target Market Example: Diet sites located in the United States, health clubs that are doing between $500,000 and $20M in revenue annually.
Talk to the sales team and establish what a quality lead is. In this case, we know we need 50 Sample Requests and Pre Enrollments each month.
Time Estimate: 2 hours
Honestly, this should be something you already know (your target market).But give yourself an hour to talk to a few people inside your sphere, friend networks and groups, read through your messaging, and establish who you're really after.
Give yourself another hour to talk to a few reps or the sales people in your network. Or potentially, set up a conference and invite others in your network that is similar in their business to yours.
Identify Where Your Audience Lives Online
Once we know who our audience is and what our goal is, we need to locate our audience. Where are they online? You'll want to look at social media, blogs, websites, and forums. Make a big list! Here's what I might do if I were looking for vertical markets.
First, I'd dive into social media. I know LinkedIn is better for B2B, so I head there first. There are tons of various groups, so I started looking for groups full of my audience. A quick search for "dieters" brings up 978 different groups.
I will continue my search for "fitness", " coffee drinkers ", and "weight loss". After spending some time gathering a list, hopefully I've identified at least 500 solid groups that have my target audience.
Next, I'll explore other social media options to see if there is anything market specific. After spending some time on Google, I run across Over Coffee, a social network for coffee drinkers, marketers and socializers.
Still further, I'll spend some time on Google again looking for blogs, forums and other websites where I might find my audience. As an example, it is a pretty sure assumption the Fast Diet forum fits. https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/
Another excellent tip is searching for the topics in Discuss. Since Discuss has no search abilities, Google comes in handy. But you have to know the tricks to search. I made a little video here to explain how quickly.
At the end of this research process, you should easily have 500-1000 websites (forums, blogs and other websites), groups (on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) and communities (on Google+) on your list. Now, we're getting somewhere! We're narrowing down the Web and locating the corners in which we want to spend our time and effort.
Action Steps for Finding Your Audience:
Spend time looking at social media, websites, blogs and forums for your target audience.
Create a master list with links to these places. Utilizing Markethive’s Backlink System, you can track backlinks, store login data, and manage campaigns easily.
Time Estimate: 4 hours
Don't shortchange yourself here.Put in the time to locate your audience.This step will serve you well for many inbound campaigns into the future, so spend about four hours doing your research.
Create the list in your MH backlinks as you go along.
Identify Pains, Problems, Questions
Ok, just to re-cap. We now know:
Who we're targeting
Where they live online
Now, it's time to dig for pain. As you're doing your research and visiting groups, websites and blogs with your audience, start listening. What does that mean, really? How do you listen? What are you listening for?
What you want to do is listen to the problems that your audience is expressing. You want to write down the questions they are asking. Write down the things they are complaining about. You want to be able to speak their language.
You'll start to see different discussion questions, comments on blogs, or frustrations. Here are a few sample discussion topics I pulled from a LinkedIn Group full of dieters.
Obviously, you want to identify challenges and pains around the product or service you offer, but sometimes you can get some really powerful insight just by writing down any common questions or problems. You'll start to see some trends.
As you'll see in the next section, we want to use these questions, pains and problems in our content and messaging.
Action Steps for Identifying Pains, Problems and Questions:
Go to 10-20 places on your master list and start copying and pasting your audience's discussions and questions.
Time Estimate: 2 hours
This should take you about 2 hours, but don't be afraid to spend 3 or 4 if you feel you're not seeing any trends.
Create a Content Calendar
Alright, now we're ready to create a content calendar. Most people want to rush into this step because it feels like you're accomplishing something. However, this step won't be worth much if you haven't dedicated the time to your research.
There are articles that walk through this step in much more detail, so I'm not going to do that. This will be a high level overview.
Basically, now that we've got a sense for what our audience is dealing with, we can brainstorm some effective blog titles, maybe some webinar topics and definitely some e-book ideas. If we think back to our goal of 50 qualified leads per month, you might be asking, "How many blog articles should I be writing?" or "How many capture pages, do I need?"
You can make an educated guess, but this is always the unknown with strategy. (Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty) You make the best plan of action you can to achieve your goal, but you'll need to adjust your plan over time depending on how close you are getting to that goal.
Based on my experience, without knowing how much traffic this hypothetical website is getting or how many leads it's currently generating, you'll want to be creating 2-3 blog posts per week.
With your blog posts WordPress plugin, your Markethive blog system becomes a BlogCasting system.
The subscribing potential your blogs will have with other Markethive social members. Case in point the Proprietary subscribe system.
Blog Casting option that allows others to “plagiarize” your work with your permission thereby automatically taking an exact copy of your blog to their account
The Markethive Blogcasting Word Press plugin allows your blog articles massive syndication to other Markethive members Word Press blogs.
The SNAP plugin for Word Press then allows greater broadcasting to over 25 social networks and literally millions of LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ groups and Twitter hash tagged directories.
The potential of just the “SNAP | Word Press | Markethive Broadcast” plugins can literally build reaches into the billions. We know because we have achieved this.
You'll also want to have at least two or three e-books that you can leverage to capture leads. This is not a difficult process. Spend some time writing your story, your perspective of the industry you are chasing. For instance I have written the following ebooks (7):
You also have Markethive to offer. It is a million dollar platform, offering a monthly service others charge $1000s for, with free membership. But if you are in a vertical market, like diets or coffee, you might want to offer ebooks, live webinars, samples, etc.
In addition to the e-books, you'll want to integrate the Markethive nurturing program that moves leads down the funnel towards the level of being joined to you as an Alpha Entrepreneur. Markethive’s lead nurturing system is a quantum leap from other so called lead nurturing when in reality they are nothing more than disguised email espionage.
Don’t know how to produce an ebook? No problem, I wrote a blog on how and why just for you.
Markethive uses Google’s calendar. It is available on all platforms, Droid, iPhone, Tablets, Laptops and Desktops. It integrates with other Google calendar accounts; it allows events, notes, hidden appointments and reminders, to do lists, and sharing with others who have set up a calendar. Like Markethive’s calendar.
Brainstorm blog topics, e-book and/or webinar topics.
Map out how many blog articles you'll need to create each week.
Plan your e-book creation.
Plan your lead nurturing sequences.
Time Estimate: 2 hours
Spend 1 hour brainstorming topics and titles.
15 minutes for mapping out your blog calendar.
20 minutes for planning out your e-books.
20 minutes mapping out your lead nurturing sequences.
Create a Promotions Plan
Your promotions plan is just as important, if not more important that your content plan and calendar. Most marketers feel like once they hit "publish", it's time to start working on the next piece. Not true! Once you hit publish, it's time to go to work promoting that article.
You spent time writing it, editing it, finding an amazing photo and placing a relevant call to action. Now, it's time to zero in on our audience and share that content with them. This is how we'll drive people back to your content, they'll click on your e-books, receive your emails and ultimately sign up for that demo, service or product!
Creating your promotional plan will be much easier now that you've got a master list of where your audience lives. You'll be able to share your blog articles as discussions in exactly the right Facebook Groups, Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups and Twitter automatically as you blog. (it is a SNAP)
See blog on video on SNAPPING https://markethive.com/group/marketingdept/blog/the-reach-aka-blog-casting
You'll be able to comment on other websites and blogs and reference your content in a super relevant fashion because you know exactly what your audience’s challenges and pains are. You'll be able to craft blog titles that are irresistible to your audience because you studied their problems and pains.
Your promotions plan should basically be the time you spend promoting your article to all the places on your master list. It might look something like this:
Blog Title: Lose Weight with Coffee
Create a discussion in all 20 LinkedIn Groups and frame it with the question "What is your biggest weight lose challenge right now?"
Share article on Twitter using the hashtags #coffee diet #lose weight with coffee #healthy coffee. Rotate hashtags. Schedule 10-20 Tweets over the next 30 days. (Markethive automates this)
Jump into a couple of forums and find the discussions around coffee and diet. Add value to the discussion and add a link to the blog post as a reference point.
Find individual dieters on Facebook Groups or other websites and send a personal email with a link to the article.
Send out an email to all current leads in the database and share the article.
So, your promotions plan will have some activity that you'll do every time you create a blog post. Then, for specific topics, you may have additional activities you'll want to add that make sense based on the topic.
Action Steps for Content Calendar:
Write out all the possible promotional activities you might have for a specific blog post. Each time you publish, go to that list and execute as many as possible!
Time Estimate: 1 hour
Spend an hour brainstorming all the ways you could promote a blog post, e-book or piece of content.
Phew! There's a lot of work there, but you can do it… and you can do it in less than 24 hours! The total time spent in this process totals 11 hours. Obviously, it would be a long work day to push through these activities, but you'll be setting yourself up for success over the next several months, if not years. If you can't block off an entire day to do this, spend a couple hours each day for a week and you'll be all set.
Your goals and strategy will change over time, but I wanted to break down a very simplistic way to create a strategy quickly and start moving forward.
Just to re-cap what you need to do:
What is your goal?
Who are you targeting?
Where do they live online?
Develop your content calendar.
Create a promotional list.
I'm curious… how much time do you spend on research before diving into content creation?
European regulators should embrace cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the prime minister of Malta argued in a speech yesterday.
Speaking at the CEPS Ideas Lab in Brussels on 23rd February, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat argued that governments in the European Union should "double down" on the tech, which he pointed out is slowly catching on amongst the bloc’s financial institutions, according to a transcript published by Live News Malta.
Muscat's remarks were in the context of reinvigorating the EU, which has faced rising socio-economic pressures in recent years. He also proposed that leaders in the bloc create financial mechanisms to invest in areas that may be inclined to leave the EU, as was with the case of the UK's so-called "Brexit" vote last year.
Though prefacing his statements by saying that he is opting to advocate for "outright insane" sounding ideas, Muscat argued that "the rise of cryptocurrencies can be slowed but cannot be stopped".
He went on to tell event attendees:
"My point is that rather than resist, European regulators should innovate and create mechanisms in which to regulate cryptocurrencies, in order to harness their potential and better protect consumers, while making Europe the natural home of innovators."
Among the firms in Europe testing the tech is Malta’s primary stock exchange, which in December formed an internal "Blockchain Committee" dedicated to exploring how the exchange might utilize the tech.
The exchange further indicated its intention to set up a domestic blockchain consortium in Malta, aimed at creating a basis for the development of new applications.
Cryptocoin and Blockchain Article Roundup – Feb 21, 2017
Here's an article that ties one idea, the DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) in with the more recently popular topic of Blockchain. It really does make sense. The idea of the autonomous business entity won't die. Read some of the latest discussion about it in this article:
Monero, the fifth largest digital currency by market capitalization, still struggles to build a 'white hat' reputation simply because of its advanced privacy feature which hi-brows think attracts 'the wrong crowd'. Read the latest discussion on the issue here:
British Parliamentarians will discuss (or is it "debate"?) key issues about the status of bitcoin, digital currency, and the blockchain as it relates to money creation in English society. The UK government generally is pro-bitcoin but the banking establishment has been rather reticent to embrace it. Read about it here:
Could blockchain-related opportunities in one industry result in a talent and brain-drain from one industry to another? Probably not to any significant degree because the technology is creating opportunity almost everywhere. But it is creating some notable movement of some high achievers. Read one such example here:
Well Buckaroos…that's our Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Article 6 Pack for today. Thanks for dropping by. You're also invited to join us over on Markethive where you'll find a vibrant digital community on online entrepreneurs. Our community if free to join and if you're promoting a business, brand, service, or cause online…Markethive has a great blogging system that will give you massive 'Reach'.
Also, if you need a freelance copywriter to help you with your business, contact me…Art Williams. Email here.