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“Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.- Dale Carnegie”

Apache Kafka is a Software Framework for storing, reading, and analyzing streaming data. The Internet of Things(IoT) devices can generate a large amount of streaming data. An Event Streaming platform like Kafka needs to handle this constant flux of data and process this data sequentially. I feel that building a simple data pipeline use case can help us understand the concepts. In this article, I want to walk through building a simple real-time data pipeline using Apache Kafka. I would like to focus on the implementation rather than the theoretical aspects. I would recommend to readers new to Kafka to look up my other Kafka articles on Analytics Vidhya to cement their understanding of the concepts before jumping into building the data pipeline.

Concepts Revisited

A messaging system is used for transferring data from one application to another application. The messaging system should handle the data sharing between producer and consumer applications and let the applications focus on data. Apache Kafka is a publish-subscribe-based durable messaging system. Kafka is used to building real-time streaming applications (a streaming application consumes streams of data ).

The above diagram gives a snapshot of the main terminologies involved in Kafka. Let’s go over one by one,

(a) Topic – In Kafka, the category name to which messages are published is a topic. We can think Topic similar to a particular section in a Newspaper like Current Affairs, Sports, etc. Producer applications produce messages about the topic, and Consumer applications can read from the topic.

(b) Partitions – A Topic is stored in partitions for redundancy and faster processing of messages. Kafka ensures messages are in the order they reach a Partition. The Partition is numbered from ‘0’. The hash of the key is used to determine the Partition the message is to be directed to, and if there is no key in the message, a round-robin system is followed.

source: StackOverflow 

The messages in assigned an identification number called offset, which identifies a particular record in Partition.

The messages are retained for a period defined by the retention policy. Replicas of each message are organized by Kafka (a Replication Factor, viz, number of copies is defined) in partitions to provide redundancy.

(c) Broker – It is a Kafka Server in a Cluster. There can be one or more Brokers in a Kafka Cluster.

(d) Zookeeper – Keeps metadata of the cluster

(e) Consumer Groups – Consumers are part of a Consumer Group, where each message of a Topic is consumed only by one of the consumers in the group.

Building a Simple Data Pipeline

We have briefly reviewed Kafka’s terminologies and are ready to create our Kafka real-time data pipeline. The use-case is to create a simple producer application that will produce messages with real-time stock data of Tesla. We will create a single Broker Kafka Cluster for the Producer to write the records to a topic. Finally, we will write a Consumer application to read real-time data from the topic. We will use the Python API of Apache Kafka for writing Producer and Consumer applications.

Kafka with Docker- Data Pipeline

A single node Kafka Broker would meet our need for local development of a data pipeline. We can create a chúng tôi file containing the services and the Configuration for creating a single node Kafka Cluster. To start an Apache Kafka server, we need to start a Zookeeper server. We can configure this dependency in our chúng tôi file to ensure that zookeeper is started before the Kafka server and stops after. The content of chúng tôi file is given below,

version: '3' services: zookeeper: image: wurstmeister/zookeeper container_name: zookeeper ports: - "2181:2181" kafka: image: wurstmeister/kafka container_name: kafka ports: - "9092:9092" environment: KAFKA_ADVERTISED_HOST_NAME: localhost KAFKA_ZOOKEEPER_CONNECT: zookeeper:2181

The yml file above contains two services, zookeeper and Kafka. We are using the image from wurstmeister, and the zookeeper will run on Port 2181 and the Kafka server on Port 9092.

In the project folder, create the above chúng tôi file with the help of a text editor(my personal preference is VisualStudio Code), and name the file chúng tôi Now head over to the Terminal and run the following commands to get the Kafka up and running,

docker --version docker-compose --version

The above commands will confirm the installation of docker and docker-compose in our system,

We can create our single node Kafka cluster using the following command,

docker-compose up -d

The -d will flag will run the service in the background, and our Terminal is available to us for further exploration. We can confirm the services are running with the following command,

docker-compose ps

We can see both zookeeper and Kafka services running at designated ports,

Now our single node local Kafka cluster is up and running. We can create our Producer and Consumer application for our real-time stock data pipeline.

Creating a Producer Application

We need to install the libraries for running the Producer and Consumer applications, viz, Kafka-python and yfinance. yfinance is a Yahoo finance API to download market data.

pip install kafka-python yfinance

As I have already installed the above libraries, I can confirm the same with the command,

Using any of the preferred text editors, we can create the following in our project folder,

import time from kafka import KafkaProducer import yfinance as yf from datetime import date import json current_date = company = 'TSLA' producer = KafkaProducer(bootstrap_servers=['localhost:9092']) topic_name = 'stocks-demo' while True: data ="TSLA", period='1d',interval='2m') #data = ,start=current_date,interval='2m') data = data.reset_index(drop=False) data['Datetime'] = data['Datetime'].dt.strftime('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S') my_dict = data.iloc[-1].to_dict() msg = json.dumps(my_dict) producer.send(topic_name, key=b'Tesla Stock Update', value=msg.encode()) print(f"Producing to {topic_name}") producer.flush() time.sleep(120)

I have used a simple python script in our Producer application. Initially, we import the requisite libraries like Kafka, yfinance, json, etc. A Kafka Producer Instance has been defined, indicating the bootstrap_sever, and we assign a topic_name. The company name for which data is extracted has been defined as ‘TSLA”, an acronym used in Yahoo finance for Tesla. The script uses an infinite running while loop ( we can modify the code to run between opening and closing of the market, but the focus was to keep it simple and beginner friendly ), where stock data for TSLA is being downloaded for the current day at an interval of 2 minutes. If we look at the output of , it is a pandas Dataframe. The following screenshot is the output of run from Google Colab during the stock market open hours. It is noted that with parameter start = current_date will give an error if we run the code during non-market hours. Alternately, we can test the code during non-market hours with parameter period = ‘1d’, which will fetch the last one-day records.

As we are interested only in the latest stock data, the code in the producer application script extracts the last row from the panda’s data frame. We are also converting the last row to dictionary format and JSON format for easier encoding in Kafka producer. The code also converts the timestamp to a string, as  JSON encoding converts the timestamp to UTC, which is challenging to interpret immediately. Essentially, the last row of the pandas’ data frame is the message content of the Kafka producer, and the key indicates that the stock details refer to Tesla.  If the Producer application produces stock data for more than one company, then the key can be used to indicate the message category accordingly.

The producer.send() function produces the message to the Kafka topic every 2 minutes.

Creating a Consumer Application

Once the producer application is complete, we can create the consumer application. The python script for consumer application is simple and is given below:

from kafka import KafkaConsumer consumer = KafkaConsumer(bootstrap_servers=['localhost:9092'],                                                       auto_offset_reset='latest',                                                        max_poll_records = 10) topic_name='stocks-demo' consumer.subscribe(topics=[topic_name]) consumer.subscription() for message in consumer:       print ("%s:%d:%dn: key=%sn value=%sn" % (message.topic, message.partition,                                                                      message.offset, message.key,                                                                      message.value))

We have to declare an instance of KafkaConsumer() with bootstrap_server. The consumer is subscribed to the topic and using a for loop we print details of the message like Partition (here we have only one Partition, hence not so much relevant), message offset, message key, and value, etc.

Running the Data Pipeline

To demonstrate the data pipeline, it would be beneficial to have two Terminal tiles running the Producer and Consumer application side by side. This will give a better visual appreciation of a real-time pipeline. I have used an application called ITERM on my mac for running the data pipeline on the Terminal. Reconfirm the Kafka services are running by running the docker-compose ps command. First, run the Consumer application followed by the Producer application,

python3 python3

I started the pipeline at 1014 hrs local time, and it was seen that the Consumer was receiving the messages every two minutes.

The left pane shows the Producer application, and the right pane shows the Consumer application. Our data pipeline design has been successfully constructed, and we can get TESLA stock data every two minutes. The screenshot of live TESLA stock data confirms that we have real-time data.

In a real-life application, the message received by the Consumer could be stored in a database for further analysis or say, preparation of a live dashboard. As said earlier, we could have multiple consumers from the same topic or the same Producer producing stock data of more than one company. The present case is a simple scenario to understand how Kafka data pipelines work.

The present Producer application runs on an infinite loop every two minutes, and you may use Ctrl+C to stop both Producer and Consumer applications. To stop the Kafka services, we can use the following command,

docker-compose down Frequently Asked Questions

In this article, we have looked at a basic Kafka data pipeline where we extract live TESLA stock data from Yahoo Finance website by using the python yfinance package. Following are the key learnings from our study,

Apache Kafka is a fast, fault-tolerant messaging system.

A single Kafka Node Cluster can be set up using docker-compose. This kind of set-up is useful for local testing.

Apache Kafka has a python API for writing Producer and Consumer applications.

Consumer applications can further process messages by storing them in a database or carry out data transformation/processing using tools like Apache Spark etc.

The media shown in this article is not owned by Analytics Vidhya and is used at the Author’s discretion.


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How To Build A Successful Brand In Simple Steps

Although having an original idea can be crucial to success, the actual implementation of that idea is a completely different ballgame.

A strong and easily identifiable brand is like having a key that matches your lock. It is the accumulation of success that lasts the test of time. A quality key can be copied, but a solid lock is impossible to copy. It’s not so easy. The keyhole is not open for pretenders.

A brand is more than a simple logo and a funny name.

Creative branding services assist businesses in all aspects of branding, including presenting their unique value proposition to the market, creating a brand identity from scratch, and optimizing core messaging and company values.

What is a brand?

We pointed out that a brand is more than the visual elements that are first brought to your mind when you say the word.

McDonald’s iconic “M” and Apple’s, well Apple’s are the cherry on the top of the brand experience with a recognizable trademark.

The brand is not tangible. It is an emotional connection, a relationship between a business owner and a customer. People form strong bonds with their favorite brands and often voice their opinions on the subject.

Are you familiar with heated arguments between Pepsi and Coke drinkers? Or between Xbox and Sony PlayStation fans?

Also read: The Proven Top 10 No-Code Platforms of 2023

Brand Identity

Brands must create their own user identity before they can affect the user ID.

Brand identity includes a variety of elements such as company values, messaging, and communication style. It also includes offering colors, logos, and a color palette.

Reputation is another important component of brand identity. It is an important part of brand identity, but it is not the message that business ventures want to communicate. It is the best example of customer feedback.

These factors are what reflect your brand to others. The global market’s perception of you and your efforts is your brand image.

Your customers need to be able to expect the best from you. It is crucial to meet and maintain their expectations to establish your brand.

Be yourself

“Know Yourself.”

This proverb from ancient Greece means you must first know yourself so that you can recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

First, think about why your brand exists. This will help you build a successful brand. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to give your customers a lengthy history of your past. Sharing your story is up to you.

Once you have identified your roots, you will be able to identify your primary purpose, mission, personality, and promise for your business.

Recognize Your Audience

The goal of understanding what your company stands for is reaching your target market, your ideal clients.

Who are your target customers? Who were you thinking of when you created your product or service?

When defining your audience, you should consider gender, age, economic stability, education, and location.

Some of these are simpler to identify. You can target prospects in your area, for example. If you sell women’s clothing, targeting gender is easy, even though social trends are changing.

Also read: Best Online Courses to get highest paid in 2023

Investigate Your Competitors

Let’s suppose you’re new to your niche and don’t know who your competitors might be.

It is a good idea to start by searching for your product/service type on Google and then see what results from you get.

To find out what obstacles might be lurking around the corner, read through customer reviews.

It is important to take notes along the way about what works and what doesn’t, so you can learn from your competitors.

Design your brand strategy

Once you have mastered the points above, you can use them to create a brand strategy.

Are you able to sum up your brand’s main value and message in just two sentences?

Your customers should have a clear understanding of your brand positioning statement.

Your brand strategy serves as a guide for you, your staff, and your customers and clients. Your:

Mission Statement: This is your statement about how you intend to reach your goals

Vision: A statement that defines your future goals.

Unique Value Proposition (UVP: A statement that defines and differentiates your product/service

Brand DNA: A list of short phrases and sentiments that can trigger emotional hooks.

Choose Your Name and Visual Elements

There is no formula that will tell you how to think about your brand name. Some companies begin with ringing ideas and names next. For most people, however, it is natural.

Be patient, but don’t let it go on trying to be original. Instead of focusing on creating new words or choosing existing words, think about your brand, business goals and the experiences that will lead you there.

However, logos and design elements must follow certain rules. You’ll notice that certain fonts work better for some businesses than others, despite visual trends.

Some fonts and shapes can be used to convey professionalism while others may communicate creativity, efficiency, humor, or humor.

Also read: The Five Best Free Cattle Record Keeping Apps & Software For Farmers/Ranchers/Cattle Owners

Your Platform

Once you have a clear vision of your story, audience, unique differentiator, and visual elements, it is time to share your message with the world through an appropriate platform.

Websites are the foundation of most businesses. Businesses can then add other platforms to their website.

There are many ways to produce podcasts, explainer videos, and content for social media.

Let’s get back to your unique value proposition.

Be authentic when designing your website. Make sure to emphasize your UVP.

Stay consistent and keep your visitors hooked by the right messaging.

Promote Your Brand

This is the fun part! Now it’s time for you to market your brand.

Your niche and target audience will influence the course of your marketing campaigns.

Also read: Top 10 Business Intelligence Tools of 2023


Personalization is becoming a dominant marketing trend, even though it may not be in your control.

Your target audience research should inform your tone. Learn about your target audience and customers’ needs, and then analyze their social media interactions.

Every customer should feel that you are speaking directly to them. While direct communication would be via newsletter sign-ups and newsletters, it is important to avoid using formal language and robotic copy when writing content for your website, blogs and social media promotions.

It is also frowned upon by those who are too enthusiastic about lingo, which screams artificiality.

You can only attract clients and customers by being authentic.

Also read: 10 Top Android Apps For Personal Finances


Branding is essential. Without branding, your venture will be a faceless drop in the ocean. To skyrocket your business, you must first build a brand.

Your brand establishes trust and rapport with your customers. Consumers can tell when your message is fake, so keep your promises. This will help you keep them coming back for more.

How To Build A Concrete Data Strategy For Your Organization?

For any organization to emerge out successful, there are many factors that form the base of the same. Considering the fact that data forms the most critical aspect of any task to accomplish, having the right data strategy in place always helps. Right from the workforce to how secure the data is, everything plays a pivotal role in achieving the objectives of the organization. That being said, here is everything one needs to know when it comes to how to build a concrete data strategy for your organization.  


How crucial the employees turn out to be for any organization cannot be merely put into words. The right data strategy is a result of brilliant minds, which is why giving the employees at every level, access to data insights that are relevant to them is very important. With this, data analytics stands the potential to transform into a day-to-day contributor to the business rather than a perceived business function. Not only are the employees in the position to overcome resistance or misunderstanding of data analytics but would also be able to make better-informed decisions and uncover new opportunities.  

Setting goals 

For any organization to flourish, it is critical that goals are well defined in the first place – both short term as well as long term. Before jumping straight into data and trying to extract the best possible meaning out of it, the aim should rather be to understand the objectives of the business. After having a clear picture of what is the organization aiming for, it is now time to identify ideal data for the defined objectives. Things are pretty fine as long as your organisation has access to that data. But if that is not the case, it is time for you to expand your horizons – look beyond your organisation to find what data you could gain access to. As an organization, it is important that steps are taken to ensure that employees are working together across teams in a manner that common goals are achieved.  

Focusing on hardware as well as software requirements 

As an organization, it is important to know exactly what is required of the data storage technology and whether the organization has all of this at its disposal. Only after this can the organization unite to formulate the best possible data strategy. The possibility that the current data storage technology may not be suitable and that the requirement of additional or different analytic or reporting capabilities might pop up, cannot be overlooked up In addition, what more can be laid stress on is that the technology architecture should be designed to meet the scalability, robustness and reliability needed for AI and analytics solutions.  


For any organization to emerge out successful, there are many factors that form the base of the same. Considering the fact that data forms the most critical aspect of any task to accomplish, having the right data strategy in place always helps. Right from the workforce to how secure the data is, everything plays a pivotal role in achieving the objectives of the organization. That being said, here is everything one needs to know when it comes to how to build a concrete data strategy for your chúng tôi crucial the employees turn out to be for any organization cannot be merely put into words. The right data strategy is a result of brilliant minds, which is why giving the employees at every level, access to data insights that are relevant to them is very important. With this, data analytics stands the potential to transform into a day-to-day contributor to the business rather than a perceived business function. Not only are the employees in the position to overcome resistance or misunderstanding of data analytics but would also be able to make better-informed decisions and uncover new chúng tôi any organization to flourish, it is critical that goals are well defined in the first place – both short term as well as long term. Before jumping straight into data and trying to extract the best possible meaning out of it, the aim should rather be to understand the objectives of the business. After having a clear picture of what is the organization aiming for, it is now time to identify ideal data for the defined objectives. Things are pretty fine as long as your organisation has access to that data. But if that is not the case, it is time for you to expand your horizons – look beyond your organisation to find what data you could gain access to. As an organization, it is important that steps are taken to ensure that employees are working together across teams in a manner that common goals are chúng tôi an organization, it is important to know exactly what is required of the data storage technology and whether the organization has all of this at its disposal. Only after this can the organization unite to formulate the best possible data strategy. The possibility that the current data storage technology may not be suitable and that the requirement of additional or different analytic or reporting capabilities might pop up, cannot be overlooked up In addition, what more can be laid stress on is that the technology architecture should be designed to meet the scalability, robustness and reliability needed for AI and analytics solutions.Adhering to the current regulations and ensuring correct data governance is of utmost imp Unless the governance is paid attention to, the whole purpose of formulating the right data strategy is meaningless. Efforts should be made to ensure that the data strategy outlines the organization’s principles, guidelines and expectations regarding the use of data. What turns out to be equally important to consider is how analytical models and outputs would be governed to ensure they are free of bias, inaccuracies and bad decision making.

How To Build A Multimillion

Multimillion-dollar companies don’t guess.

Timing and luck can often explain a lot in the early days.

But when companies pass a certain threshold, and the people inside them repeat their success at multiple different places, it shows there are proven roadmaps to follow.

Not cheesy checklists or ‘guru’ charlatan soundbites.

But legitimate strategies, principles, and decision-making criteria that more often than not move the needle.

Here’s how several multimillion-dollar companies use SEO content audits to lay that foundation and consistently grow month over month, year over year.

1. Start by Auditing Your Historical Performance to Uncover the Biggest Opportunities

Sales is a lagging indicator.

In other words, it’s impossible to address the bottom line – the output – until you first start fiddling with the inputs.

Gaetano DiNardi’s first task after joining Nextiva a few months ago was a competitive audit.

And it’s been the first task he’s used at every company before that, too.

In early 2023, DiNardi joined the Pipedrive team as the new SEO manager.

While leading Pipedrive’s SEO strategy and operations, he was tasked with improving everything from rankings to traffic, sales, and their overall bottom line.

“My entire job was based around inbound marketing. SEO, content marketing, inbound lead generation. The goal was simple: grow.”

The first step was figuring out what was already working, what wasn’t, and where the biggest opportunities were buried.

That takes into account:

Landing pages: Length, content, CTAs, value proposition, user flow.

Content rankings: Looking at SERP positions, competitors, links needed, and content updates required.

Keyword research: Analyzing which keywords they were targeting and finding new long-tail variations.

Ignoring vanity metrics: With SEO data analysis, he focused all of his efforts on improving the cost of acquisition and lifetime value.

Site structure: How users flow on site and where major drop-offs were occurring.

Content audit: Looking at content, cutting and deleting content that isn’t valuable, and finding what he could improve based on best practices.

Brand building campaigns: Getting mentioned in major publications like Fortune, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc., VentureBeat, and LinkedIn Business to help build Sales Hacker and his personal branding.

He started by focusing on landing pages, improving their calls-to-action and value proposition along with CRO elements to encourage conversions. Doing so increased overall conversions by 12%.

While looking at site structure, DiNardi used Google Analytics reports to analyze and optimize user flow throughout the site:

With these reports, he determined the typical path of unique visitors and how they developed brand awareness, including which posts they viewed and how many steps it took them to convert.

A traffic channel or source, for instance, gives you clues into what each visitor wants and how to help them find it.

Plus, he could then see major drop-off points and which pages were leaking visitors, giving him an easy win to eliminate those content pages or better match search intent to make them stickier.

Diving into the content audit, Gaetano focused on ensuring that each post met the best practices for content length, topic, structure, and quality.

Running skyscraper-style campaigns for content improved the length. Then, DiNardi also honed-in on quality, updating content at scale with semantic keywords and relying on automated grammar tools to reduce redundant points.

This tactic resulted in a 4-5% increase in conversions from organic search, a 20% increase in traffic, and a doubled organic keyword growth.

“Account audits are a must. You can’t know what to attack first if you don’t audit existing strategies and see what type of content you are working with.”

Uncovering these issues and opportunities is only the first step, though. The next one is to figure out when, exactly, to address each.

2. Consistently Re-Prioritize Your Content Audit Opportunities to Do the Right Thing at the Right Time

Advertising used to be cost-prohibitive. So, too, was PR.

The problem isn’t having options, then. In fact, it’s the opposite. There are literally too many things you could be doing at any given time.

Content success, then, is dictated by what you choose to do and in what order.

Client-agency dynamics also played into this issue.

Typically, the most profitable strategies and tactics take a long time to develop. However, clients don’t have time. They want results ASAP.

So you’re constantly dealing with the conflict of delivering instant results to make the client happy, while at the same time building the foundation so that you’ll be able to continue delivering results long into the future.

Kevin’s approach, unsurprisingly, started with an SEO content audit at the beginning. It was in-depth, analyzing the technical set-up first, before the on-site content and optimization, then progressing to link building.

This initial audit was also used to identify potential low-hanging fruit. A simple crawl error preventing indexation, for example, could instantly deliver ROI to the client. If, that is, you knew where to look.

“Sometimes people neglect digging into that data and adjusting existing content a little bit. It’s simple, but it often has a pretty big impact. They should do this before ever starting brand new content creation.”

Jones prioritizes technical SEO, first, because “in a lot of cases it’s going to help the most.” Especially with larger websites that have changed or evolved over the years.

“It’s a slow and steady race for technical improvements. And it’s a pain in the ass to clean an entire house.”

From there, Jones moves to on-site changes, like keyword research and content opportunities.

This approach made clients happy because “they could see quicker traffic increases, but still benefit from a long-term balance for technical SEO.”

Every new website is different, so the order might be unique. But generally, Kevin would divide his time into spending around 40% on link building, 40% on content, and 20% on the technical side after the initial fix-it stage.

The mechanics are actually pretty easy. The tough part is to constantly reassess the leverage points based on where you’re already weak or strong.

For example, let’s say you want to evaluate a keyword opportunity. That decision ultimately comes down to:

Demand: The number of people searching for this term.

Competition: The number and strength of people competing for this term.

Yes, there’s more at play in reality. Yes, funnel stage and search intent and lots of other criteria are involved.

But at the end of the day, it can and should be that simple. Take “content marketing”:

Now, compare that site authority and referring domains with your own.

This example is extremely competitive. So unless your site’s been around for a while, your odds of success are slim to none. That means you either need to:

Identify a new, less competitive search query to go after.

Work to improve your off-site metrics to mirror the competition.

Either way, you probably want to deprioritize this for now. Topping out at the fifth position might as well be the 50th.

So maybe creating new content isn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe doubling down on your existing stuff will produce a better ROI over the next six months.

It’s a simple cost/benefit analysis of resource allocation at the end of the day.

Which option will provide the best, quickest return on your time and money?

It might take you anywhere from half to a full day to create a single blog post from scratch. Then, it might take another few weeks (or months) to get that page to rank.

Or, you could pick an existing page on your site that shows promise and spend the same three to six hours improving it.

Chances are, you’ll see much better results moving from the 11th position on Google to the 5th. And it’ll usually take less time, too.

SEO today is incredibly complex and nuanced. Search engines use machine learning algorithms to teach themselves new tricks.

Unfortunately, many of the get-rich-quick SEO schemes of the past work less and less with each passing day. Which means success over the long haul requires a constant reprioritization of what to do, when, and why.

Today that means one thing. Six months from now it will probably mean another.

3. Reverse-Engineer Content Distribution Tactics – But Don’t Copy

First edition Pokemon cards can run into the thousands on eBay.

Seriously. Check it out:

Back in high school, David Zheng discovered this lucrative niche market. And it changed everything.

He came up with different ways to collect or barter for the most valuable first editions. Then he’d create the listing, promote it, and dutifully follow through on each order with every buyer.

Despite all the painstaking labor, Zheng started clearing five-figures as a 14-year-old kid.

The only problem?

He was supposed to attend classes during daylight hours. Which meant that packaging and mailing out products had to occur late each night.

Zheng recalls that it wasn’t just the money. Sure, it was nice. But more importantly, it was about “figuring it all out.”

Getting all of the pieces together (so to speak), in the right order, at the exact right time.

Probably the worst one you’ve seen, right? Except for one teeny, tiny, detail.

Design has little to do with it. Instead, timing does.

But the point is the same.

“Like-gating” used to be one of the best ways to get new Facebook fans. Now, that functionality no longer exists (and goes against their policies).

Some principles will always remain relevant. But when it comes to content growth, you can’t rely on blindly copying a tactic or sticking with the tried-and-true. It can only work so long online.

Instead, you have to learn, test, measure, iterate, and come up with your own unique formula.

Content marketing is a system, not a tactic.

Content tactics commonly fail. Systems adapt and evolve.

One of Zheng’s first big wins included working with chúng tôi a viral blog that hit 31 million unique visitors, while also racking up fans like Elon Musk and Sam Harris.

This experience also helped Zheng discover the formula for growing sites with content which he took and repeatedly used to grow other big sites for people like Noah Kagan, taking OkDork’s (Kagan’s personal site) organic traffic over 200% within six months.

Like most good formulas, there’s no single variable. There are lots that all work together.

For example, it could start with detailed keyword research that considers not just search volume, but also relevancy and intent. It extends to the nitty-gritty details like rich snippets that can significantly increase CTR you see from SERPs and social streams.

Then, collecting all the emails you can possibly get your hands on and building relationships with people who talk to the people you want to buy from you.


Because the stuff that you’re doing over there will affect the results you’re getting over here.

That’s why the fastest growing companies look at the entire distribution system. They’re focused on building their social following through outstanding content and funneling the results into email so they can amplify their message across multiple touchpoints. Layer in retargeting and you’ve got the beginnings of a growth machine.

These content + paid + social + email + SEO strategies that David used proved so effective for Noah that it helped inspire a decent idea, too.

You may have heard of it.

Sumo is now part of an eight-figure business.


Content marketing success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

And it can’t be learned by following a checklist or blindly following an influencer.

Instead, it comes with the realization that changes on one end create a rippling effect on the other.

Consistently reevaluating your top priorities with SEO content audits is critical. Not annually, but quarterly.

So the best thing you can do is get a front-row seat observing the companies already doing it. And speak with the people behind the scenes who actually perform the work.

Because you’ll quickly realize that marketing success is driven more by the sum of its parts than any one activity, tactic, or campaign.

More Resources:

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How To Build A Stand

Did you know that 97% of people learn more about a business online than anywhere else?

Regardless of whether you’re a solopreneur, an ecommerce business, or an established business, you need to build a strong online presence. But what exactly is an online presence, how do you build one, and how do you manage it? We’re going to answer all those questions–and more!

What is an online presence?

An online presence is all the collective information and content about your business across the internet. In other words, an online presence defines how easy it is to find a business online.

Why you need a (great) online presence

Your online presence is crucial to your business. You must manage your online presence in order to grow your business, look legitimate, increase sales, establish your brand, and boost your marketing. Let’s take a closer look at why having an online presence matters so much for your business:

It adds legitimacy to your business

When people search online for the types of services and products you provide, they should be able to find you. Before consumers decide to buy something from you, they’re going to look online to learn more about your business.

In fact, 62% of consumers will disregard a business if they can’t find them online and 83% of U.S. shoppers have said that they use online search before visiting a store. If they can’t find enough information about your business, they may choose a competitor that has a stronger online presence and brand reputation.

You’ll be discovered by new customers

To get your services and products in front of new customers, you have to be online. New customers will discover your business through search engine results pages (SERPs). Without an online presence that gets your business in these places, it’s going to be difficult to get new customers and grow.

You’re able to market your business 24/7

You can’t market your business constantly (manually, at least!), but people can discover your business at any time online. Customers do their online shopping around their other responsibilities and will shop where it’s convenient for them. A strong online presence ensures you’ll be found whenever–and wherever–they’re looking for businesses like yours.

Your online presence will continue to grow

As you start managing your online presence by posting online, marketing your services, and developing new channels, your presence will begin to grow. Everything you develop now will pay off later.

How to build an online presence

Ultimately, building an online business presence is just about putting yourself out there, testing the channels that work for your business, and identifying where and how new customers are finding you online. There’s no one perfect way to build an online business presence, and you’ll want to try different techniques to see what works for you. Here are some tips to get started building an online presence.

Establish your overall goals

First, start by thinking about your overall marketing goals and objectives. What do you want your business’s online presence to accomplish?

Do you want to build more legitimacy for your business?

Do you want to increase awareness of your business?

Do you want to find new customers?

What return on investment do you want?

Keeping your overall goals in mind will help you stay motivated as you build an online presence. It’ll also give you a goal to return to later as you review your progress.

Build a professional website

You need an online hub where people can find you. Your website is your digital storefront. It’s the only piece of real estate you truly own on the web. So if you don’t already have a small business website in place, create one today. An appealing, ADA-accessible website will draw in potential customers and keep them there as long as they can easily search, learn, and purchase.

Keep the following tips in mind for your website:

Make your website mobile-friendly

Choose a clean and easy-to-navigate website design

Add powerful call-to-action phrases

Add live chat for ongoing customer service

Use royalty-free images or images you own

Include contact information

You can check your website’s performance with our free website grader. 

Post regularly on a business blog

By creating a business blog, your potential customers can find you through search engine results. A business blog gives you a place to publish high-quality posts pertaining to information your customers are interested in. Every post you write can be optimized with local keywords so that your blog posts have a chance to rank in search results.

Remember to use best practices as you publish content:

Break up sections with H2s and H3s.

Target long-tail keywords and frequently asked questions in H2s to try to show up in Google’s “people also ask” section.

Use bullet points and numbered lists to make your content more scannable.

Promote your blog posts on your social media sites and in your newsletter.

Repurpose blog content by turning it into YouTube videos, social media images, infographics, and other features.

Target at least one keyword or a couple of similar keywords within each blog post.

Leverage AI in content marketing when you need extra inspiration.

Never keyword stuff (using keywords that are unrelated or creating content overly loaded with keywords).

Get helpful blog post ideas and learn how to write a blog post here.

Ask for testimonials and reviews

Before your customers make any purchasing decision, they’re going to look at reviews online. It’s no secret online reviews influence how people choose to buy products and services. In fact, 84% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations. Plus, 93% of people are influenced by online reviews. Not only that, but reviews will show up on search engine results pages, so anyone searching for your products or services will be able to see them.

So, you need to ask customers for reviews through confirmation emails, business cards, thank you cards, on your website, and on social media. Asking for reviews is worthwhile! In fact, 95% of consumers left an online review in the past year and would consider leaving one in the future. This means that your loyal customers will likely understand how important online reviews are and would be more than willing to give your business one.

Use these review request email templates to get started asking for reviews!

Post regularly on social media

Your potential customers are going to peek at your social media sites as they consider your services or discover your brand through social media posts. You’ll want to set a few simple social media goals to keep your online presence building on track. Consider where members of your target market spend their time, and show up where they are. If you have a small social media team and are just getting started, choose one site to post regularly on. Posting regularly is how you consistently show up in your audience’s feed. That way, you’re maintaining brand consistency and creating an online presence that sticks.

If you need some help coming up with consistent social post ideas, try our marketing calendar with free monthly social media calendars.

Consider creating a newsletter

A newsletter is another way to create a one-on-one relationship with your customers. It can also help build your online presence by driving people to your online properties, such as your blog, website, social sites, or review sites.

Use SEO on your website and social platforms

SEO is one of the best ways to skyrocket your online presence. With SEO, your business can be found in more online searches and people will discover why your brand is worth following.

Use SEO best practices to manage your online presence:

Fix and redirect any old and broken website pages.

Identify the right SEO keywords to incorporate into your web content.

Optimize your images.

Link to other web pages and blog content throughout your website.

Connect with your audience

Do you know what makes your brand feel personal to any audience member? Your humanity. Make your brand feel personal by showing your personality.

For example, Duolingo personalized its language learning app with its mascot Duo the Owl.

You don’t have to have a mascot to showcase your brand identity. There are many ways to create a personal connection with your customers. YouTube’s Culture and Trends Report shared that 57% of Gen Z agree that they enjoy when brands participate in memes. Sharing personal stories, participating in trends and memes, and genuinely connecting with your audience will be enough. This can help you grow your online presence on social sites and encourage users to continue engaging with you online.

Create and manage your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile highlights your most important features, hours, location, and reviews and helps you show up in search and map results. You’ve probably seen it before! When you search for a business or type of business, it shows up as the Map Pack or on the right-hand side of search results.

These listings are often created automatically, but businesses can manage them to ensure the information is accurate and to have a little more control over what’s shown to searchers.

For example, Day’s Coffee and Expresso is managed by the business. Its Google Business Profile includes its website, reviews, category, hours, phone number, location, and the types of services it offers. People can understand important information at a quick glance.

Create a Google Business Profile account and fill in important aspects of your profile, like location, website, hours, products and services, and other sections. If you already have a Google Business Profile for your business, make sure to claim it and update it regularly.

Manage your business listings

Whether you know it or not, your business is likely listed on a number of business directories across the web. These business directory listings can either help or hurt your online presence (not to mention your SEO!).

In addition to owning your Google Business profile, you could also create and own your Facebook business page, get listed on Bing Places or the Yellow Pages, claim your business on Yelp, and more.

Updating and regularly checking your listings for accuracy can help you improve consistency for your business (an important ranking factor!), direct more searchers to your business either through phone, your website, or your business address, and give you more opportunities to appear in local search results.

For example, sometimes these directories will create “best of” lists featuring the best local places to eat, the best contractors to repair homes, and the best of the best in hundreds of categories.

Owning your online listings will go a long way toward building your business’s online presence. To quickly check the accuracy of your listings in one place, try the LocaliQ Free Business Listings Grader.

Write high-quality guest posts

Another way to build your online presence is to look for other businesses and media outlets that accept guest posts. Publishing high-quality guest posts on other media outlets and related websites will get your business seen by their audience.

Additionally, linking to your website from theirs will improve your SEO. You could even accept guest posts from other individuals, as other businesses and individuals will want their businesses to be seen by your audience.

Consider influencer marketing

If you’re ready to connect with new audience members, you may want to consider influencer marketing. Partnering with influencers in your niche is a wonderful way to get the word out about your brand to other people and improve your online presence.

If you sell construction tools, you may want to work with a popular TikTok contractor. If you sell books, you may want to provide bookstagrammers on Instagram with free copies of books to review. If you sell makeup, consider working with beauty influencers. Be creative!

Swiffer partnered with dancers Cost and Mayor to promote their cleaning products and to encourage equal chore sharing. Nontraditional partnerships can open up new possibilities for your business.

Google Ads showing for “dentist Dallas” search

Host free webinars

Another way to build your online presence? Create free online webinars. Online webinars create buzz for your business, and you can reshare them later on YouTube or your website for an online presence boost.

When you’re promoting your webinar, be sure to ask people to register with an email address. As a bonus, you can then email attendees a copy of the webinar and ask people if they’d like to be on your company’s email list.

Ensure that everything is accessible

One in four adults in the United States has a disability. Your website pages, blog posts, social media posts, and emails must be accessible to anyone who has a disability. Providing accessible and inclusive marketing content opens up your business to new customers—and shows that you care about them.

Create accessible content and develop an accessibility policy at your business. Follow these tips:

Create accessible social media descriptions

Use inclusive language

Caption your video content

Avoid custom fonts

Use emojis in moderation

Review your progress and make changes

Last but not least, you need to audit your content, check in on your progress, and make changes. Review your original goals, and see what strategies are working…and which ones aren’t. Don’t be afraid to pivot and try new things.

Use these strategies and techniques to manage your online presence

There’s a lot of work to do when it comes to building an online presence! However, that work can be well worth it to help your business reach its full potential in the short and long term.

Let’s review the strategies you can use to build your online presence:

Establish your overall goals

Build a professional website

Post regularly on a business blog

Ask for testimonials and reviews

Post regularly on social media

Consider creating a newsletter

Use SEO on your website and social platforms

Connect with your audience

Create and manage your Google Business Profile

Manage your business listings

Write high-quality guest posts

Consider influencer marketing

Host free webinars

Ensure that everything is accessible

Review your progress and make changes

Kaitlyn Arford

Other posts by Kaitlyn Arford

How To Build A Merger Model

How To Build A Merger Model

The key steps to building a merger model

Written by

Tim Vipond

Published April 6, 2023

Updated July 7, 2023

How to Build a Merger Model

A merger model is an analysis representing the combination of two companies that come together through an M&A process. A merger is the “combination” of two companies, under a mutual agreement, to form a consolidated entity. An acquisition occurs when one company proposes to offer cash or its shares to acquire another company.

In both cases, both companies merge to form one company, subject to the approval of the shareholders of both companies. Below are the steps of how to build a merger model.

To learn more, check out our Merger Modeling Course.

The mains steps for building a merger model are:

Making Acquisition Assumptions

Making Projections

Valuation of Each Business

Business Combination and Pro Forma Adjustments

Deal Accretion/ Dilution

Each of these steps will be explored in more detail below.

1. Making Acquisition Assumptions

Where the buyer’s stock is undervalued, the buyer may decide to use cash instead of equity consideration since they would be forced to give up a significant number of shares to the target company.

In contrast, the target company may want to receive equity because it might be more valuable than cash. Finding a consideration agreeable to both parties is a crucial part of striking a deal.

In contrast, the target company may want to receive equity because it might be perceived as more valuable than cash. Finding a consideration agreeable to both parties is a crucial part of striking a deal.

Key assumptions include:

Purchase price of the target

Number of new shares to be issued to the target (as consideration)

Value of cash to be paid to the target (as consideration)

Synergies from the combination of the two businesses (cost savings)

Timing for those synergies to be realized

Integration costs

Adjustments to the financials (mostly accounting-related)

Forecast/financial projections for target and acquirer

Screenshot from CFI’s M&A Modeling Course.

2. Making Projections

Making projections in a merger model is the same as in a regular DCF model or any other type of financial model. In order to forecast, an analyst will make assumptions about revenue growth, margins, fixed costs, variable costs, capital structure, capital expenditures, and all other accounts on the company’s financial statements. This process is known as building a 3-statement model and requires linking the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Build this section just as you do with any other model, and repeat it twice: once for the target and once for the acquirer.

To learn more, launch CFI’s online financial modeling courses now!

3. Valuation of Each Business

Step 3 of how to build a merger model is a DCF analysis of each business. Once the forecast is complete, then it’s time to perform a valuation of each business. The valuation will be a discounted cash flow (DCF) model that is also compared and contrasted against comparable company analysis and precedent transactions.

There will be many assumptions involved in this step, and it is probably the most subjective. Therefore, this is an area where having a highly-skilled financial analyst can really make a difference in terms of producing extremely accurate and reliable numbers.

The steps in performing the valuation include:

Performing comparable company analysis

Building the DCF model

Determining the weighted average cost of capital (WACC)

Calculating the terminal value of the business

Screenshot from CFI’s M&A Financial Modeling Course.

4. Business Combination and Pro Forma Adjustments

When company A acquires company B, the balance sheet items of company B will be added to the balance sheet of company A. Combining the two companies’ financials will require several accounting adjustments, such as determining the value of goodwill, value of stock shares, and options, and cash equivalents. This section is also where various types of synergies come into play.

Key assumptions include:

The form of consideration (cash or shares)

Purchase Price Allocation (PPA)

Goodwill calculation

Any changes in accounting practices between the companies

Synergies calculation

An important step in building the merger model is determining the goodwill resulting from the acquisition of the assets of the target company. Goodwill arises when the buyer acquires the target for a price that is greater than the Fair Market Value of Net Tangible Assets on the seller’s balance sheet. If the book value of the acquired entity is lower than what the acquirer paid, then an impairment charge will arise. As a result, the acquired net assets will be written down in value equal to the consideration paid.

Read more: Merger Factors and Complexity

Learn more in CFI’s Mergers and Acquisitions Course.

5. Deal Accretion/ Dilution

The purpose of accretion/dilution analysis is to determine the effect of the acquisition on the buyer’s Pro Forma Earnings per Share (EPS). A transaction is deemed accretive if the buyer’s EPS increases after acquiring the target company. Conversely, a transaction is viewed as dilutive if the buyer’s EPS declines as a result of the merger. The buyer should estimate the effect of the target’s financial performance on the company’s EPS before closing a deal.

Key assumptions include:

Number of new shares issued

Earnings acquired from the target

Impact of synergies

Image from CFI’s Merger Modeling Course.

As you see in the example above, this deal is dilutive for the acquirer, meaning their Earnings Per Share is lower, as a result of doing the transaction, than their Earnings Per Share were before the deal. Such a situation – in isolation – would argue against the acquisition being a good deal for the acquirer but, of course, many other considerations factor into the final decision on whether or not to pursue a merger deal.

Read more: Accretion Dilution Analysis.

Learn More

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