Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology is creating a roadmap to ensure the long-term coordination of its wide-ranging projects.
Source: Knowledge @ Wharton
Laying the Groundwork: Philadelphia’s Strategic Approach to Becoming a Smart City
By now I’m sure you realize how important Instagram is for your business.
Every day your audience gets bombarded with many different pictures and videos showing up on their timelines. That’s why I’ve told you in the past that you need to write captions that drive engagement.
But nobody will read your captions if the image doesn’t capture their attention. They’ll just keep mindlessly scrolling past your post.
I’ve seen some companies hire experts in photography to help them put out better Instagram posts.
While I can applaud the effort, I also think it’s a complete waste of money. You can take your own photos without hiring a professional.
Now you can use that extra cash and apply it to other aspects of your business to focus on the newest marketing trends.
Instagram has tools allowing you to edit your photos and videos directly on their platform. Those might be okay for the average person, but your business should avoid them.
It’s all about standing out from the crowd.
All of the 800 million monthly active Instagram users have access to those editing tools. If you’re using them too, your posts will look like everyone else’s.
There are other apps available that can help make your photos stand out. But there are thousands of them out there, so it’s tough to figure out which ones are most useful.
That’s why I’ve taken the time to share with you the best 15 apps for photo and video editing. These will help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.
I’ll go through all of my favorites and show you some of the key features of each one.
1. Afterlight 2
If you’re looking for unique filters, Afterlight 2 has a huge collection of old school and vintage ones available. These are definitely an upgrade from filters that come standard with Instagram.
They also have some really cool effects and designs that allow you to add text and other typography to your images:
You can even put part of your text behind elements within your photo. This feature is perfect for businesses.
Now you can capture the attention of your followers by layering a catchy headline directly over your image as opposed to just writing a caption. This is a great opportunity for you to do something like:
- advertise a sale
- promote a new product
- build hype for an event
- run a contest
- get more followers
- draw attention to a link in your bio
You can download Afterlight 2 for $2.99, and that’s all you’ll ever pay for this app. They don’t have any other in-app upgrades or additional charges to access their best features.
Snapseed takes your editing effects to a whole new level. You can apply effects and filters to specific areas of your image with high precision:
They’ve got a really cool editing feature called a perspective tool. This helps you automatically adjust or correct any skewed lines in your images.
Let’s face it, a picture taken by hand won’t be 100% perfect. You might think your horizon is level or buildings are lined up properly, but that’s rarely the case.
That’s when the perspective tool can make your photos look professional.
What’s the best part about Snapseed? It’s free. It’s definitely worth checking out since there’s no risk involved.
3. Aviary Photo Editor
Aviary Photo Editor is an Adobe product. If you’ve used Adobe software and were happy with the experience, you should give this Photo Editor a try:
The editing tools on Aviary allow you to saturate colors within your photos as well as soften or sharpen areas for an effect.
Aviary also has a large collection of frames, stickers, and other overlays to embellish your images. You can even hand-draw captions across the pictures.
I like to use Aviary because of the features allowing me to fine-tune my images. With just a couple of clicks, you can eliminate blemishes or brighten shadows to make your images more lively.
Aviary saves your images to the cloud. If you have an Adobe ID, you can access your images from anywhere and edit them from any device.
This feature comes in handy if you’re taking and editing images as a team. Everything can be stored in one place.
For those of you who want to add a vintage feel to your videos, Vintagio has what you need, as the name suggests.
If you’ve got a fashion company or ecommerce store that sells clothing, this app can be useful for promoting products from bygone eras.
If you want your video to appear to be from a certain time period, their video filters can match the style of that time. That way, it’s clear to your audience that the setting of your video is not supposed to be the present day.
You can also trim and piece together different video clips with this app.
And you can change the video quality of your clips if you want to create something that looks like it’s from the 1950s.
Vintagio has great soundtracks from different eras as well. You can adjust the speed and timing and add other effects to your clips too.
Combining all these elements together will help you make a unique Instagram video.
5. Average Camera Pro
The name says it all. Average Camera Pro was created to help regular people edit photos like professionals.
Unlike other apps that just edit photos, Average Camera Pro has a built-in camera function. You can use it to take multiple pictures at the same time or set a timer for the photos.
You’d find these tools on high-quality and expensive cameras. But you can have them on your phone for just $0.99.
This camera function works best if you want to take pictures in low-light settings. Since you’re increasing the exposure time, you’ll get brighter pictures that would normally appear dark on a regular phone camera.
Sometimes when you try to brighten a really dark photo, the editing looks obvious in your final image.
But you won’t have to worry about that if you take the pictures with Average Camera Pro.
TiltShift is great for bringing focus to a specific area of an outdoor scene. So if you’ve got a business with a physical storefront, you can use this app to bring your location to life.
The effect makes your image appear as if it’s a miniature. Instagram has a tilt-shift feature built into their editing tools, but this one is far more advanced.
If you take lots of landscapes or other outdoor photos, this app is worth getting for just $1.99.
Do you want to change the background of a picture you took? Instagram doesn’t have any tools for that, so you’ll need to get the Superimpose app.
Superimpose lets you remove the background from an image.
Then, you can combine it with another picture. This is awesome from an advertising perspective.
Want to take an exotic beach photo without leaving your office?
Check out these creative images above. Superimpose allows you to blend images together or even change an image into something unrealistic, such as a fish with the head of a chicken.
Using Superimpose as part of your arsenal of photo editing tools will make your brand stand out on Instagram. You can create images that are fun, exciting, and imaginative.
Plus, their software creates a smooth final product that’s believable. Your pictures won’t have that unprofessional crop and paste feel to them.
It’s only $1.99 to download. In no time at all, you’ll be uploading new photos to Instagram that will get your followers talking.
8. 8mm Vintage Camera
The 8mm Vintage Camera is great for shooting and editing longer videos. Now that Instagram lets you upload videos that are up to a minute long, this app is perfect for you.
You can get really cool video effects such as:
- light leaks
- flames flickering
All of these can make your videos feel more authentic.
8mm Vintage Camera was even used in the filming of an Oscar-nominated movie.
If a professional director can use this app to get on the red carpet, you can certainly use it to edit your Instagram videos. It’s available for download for just $1.99 with some additional premium themes available as in-app purchases.
If you love adding filters to your photos but are sick and tired of using the same ones, it’s time for an upgrade. CrossProcess has over 70 filters.
I’ve seen many businesses on Instagram using the same one or two filters over and over again.
Your followers will realize pretty quickly you’re not being very original. Once this happens, they may start ignoring your posts. Or even worse, they could unfollow you.
If they aren’t following you, you won’t be able to keep them informed of other promotional information that drives engagement and gets conversions.
You can prevent this from happening by simply spicing up your photos with new filters available from CrossProcess.
Instagram allows you to upload multiple photos to one post. The only problem is you have to rely on your followers to scroll through each one.
This is not always the case.
If you want to combine multiple photos into one image, you can do it by creating a collage with PicFrame:
One of the coolest parts of this app is you can apply different filters and effects to each image within your collage as opposed to having one tone across the entire picture. That way, they can all be unique and stand out from each other.
You can also adjust the color and design patterns of your frames with this app.
If you really want to enhance your collage, PicFrame has lots of bonus features like stickers, shapes, text, and even music.
I think it’s worth the $2.99 price tag.
11. Facetune 2
If the majority of your Instagram photos contain people as opposed to just products or landscapes, you need to consider Facetune 2.
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, we get blemishes, breakouts, or acne. After a long night of tossing and turning, everyone gets bags under their eyes.
But these imperfections shouldn’t discourage you from posing for a photo.
This app can make photos of people more flattering. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to the lighting.
Facetune 2 also has specific filters designed for selfies. Sometimes the front-facing camera on our phones doesn’t take the best pictures, so just apply one of the filters to make up for it.
With a few easy steps, you can easily:
- whiten teeth
- change eye color
- remove wrinkles
- eliminate shine on oily skin
- make dull skin appear vibrant
The Facetune 2 app is completely free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least try it.
12. Tiny Planet Photos and Video
Tiny Planet lets you take images and videos with a fisheye lens effect.
This effect creates the appearance of a “tiny planet”—hence, the name.
Have you checked Instagram today? How many photos have you seen so far that look like this?
I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen any. I know I haven’t.
Get this app if you want to create images that are fun. The circular and warped photos this app creates can also be used as background images on phones, computers, or other devices.
You can suggest that to your followers.
Quick has really cool fonts that you can add to your photos.
They simplified the photo editing process with this app. Quick advertises that it’s designed to be used with “just a thumb.” So you won’t need to get on your computer or do anything too fancy to get great photos.
You can send your edited image straight to Instagram or other social media platforms directly from the app.
As you can see from the example above, their text overlay features are great for captioning a photo or listing a price for something on your ecommerce store.
14. DXP FREE
The whole purpose of the DXP FREE app is to create multiple exposures on one image.
As a result, your pictures will stand out. Check out these examples:
Instagram doesn’t offer such tools.
This app does require a little bit of patience and precision. You’ll need to understand the concepts of blending, or you might get a bit frustrated when you’re trying to edit.
But like with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it’ll get. Just as the name says, it’s free to download.
Tangent lets you add patterns, textures, and geometric shapes to your images.
It’s another way to let your creative juices flow.
It also has some features that allow you to add framing overlays to your photos.
Tangent gives you an opportunity to express yourself. If your company has an audience that recognizes art and creativity, you’ll definitely want to use Tangent to impress your Instagram followers.
To captivate your Instagram followers, you’ll need to make sure your photos and videos are edited properly. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional editor.
There are plenty of apps available that are really easy for anyone to use. Lots of these are free of charge or only cost a couple of dollars, so they are worth a try.
Everyone with an Instagram account has access to the same filters and editing tools.
Editing your photos with another app can separate your pictures from the crowd. If you’re not sure where to find the best apps, refer to this list as a guideline.
All of these apps are unique and offer different features depending on what you’re looking for, such as collages, text overlays, face touch-ups, or vintage themes.
What types of camera effects do you like to use when you’re editing photos and videos on Instagram?
The Top 15 Apps to Edit Your Instagram Photos and Videos Like a Pro
Artificial intelligence brings human-like understanding to machine systems to increase efficiencies. But a broader, more realistic approach is needed, says tech guru Vishal Sikka.
Source: Knowledge @ Wharton
Why AI Needs a Broader, More Realistic Approach
Today’s philanthropists are increasingly coming from the younger generation and they expect their giving to have a real and measurable impact, according to a new book.
Source: Knowledge @ Wharton
How the Next Generation Is Changing Charitable Giving
The Uber-Waymo case sheds light on the cutthroat world of technology-based businesses and the race to produce the next big thing.
Source: Knowledge @ Wharton
Uber’s Waymo Settlement: Why the Road Isn’t Clear Yet
Our latest annual Consumer Sentiment Survey, which now includes 28,000 shoppers in 29 countries, revealed surprising trends with implications for US retailers and consumer-product manufacturers.
More Americans feel financially secure, but they’ve learned new shopping habits
New research from Wharton is changing the way investors are looking at the valuation of businesses by taking a closer look at the worth of those firms’ customers.
Source: Knowledge @ Wharton
Why Customer Retention Lies at the Heart of Corporate Valuation
Do your conversion rates need a boost?
Nobody has a conversion rate that’s 100%. I think it’s safe to say that no matter how successful your company is, your conversions can always be improved.
Recognizing this is half the battle, but you’ll need to actually implement some changes if you want to see an increase. Just hoping for more conversions isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s another mistake I see businesses make. They confuse a conversion problem with a traffic problem.
Sure, driving more traffic to your website is great. I encourage you to do this. You may get more sales, but it won’t necessarily change your conversion rate.
Ecommerce websites need to focus on their website layouts. I’ve told you before that websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.
But you’ve also got to simplify your checkout process.
If you analyze each phase of this process, you may find certain elements that are actually driving customers away.
Fortunately, I’ve helped businesses with this problem before. I want to share some of my most successful strategies with you.
Here’s how you need to approach your checkout process to maximize conversions.
Take a look at your shopping cart abandonment rates
Over 69% of shopping carts get abandoned. That number is astonishingly high.
According to Statista, these are the top reasons why consumers abandon carts:
Take a look at these figures and see if your existing checkout process has any of these hindering components. Are you encouraging customers to just browse?
It’s clear based on this data that lots of customers may add something to their shopping carts without any intention of buying anything. I know I’m guilty of this myself as well.
You need to find ways to convert these window shoppers into customers. I recommend trying to tastefully implement scarcity tactics:
- create a sense of urgency
- use FOMO (fear of missing out)
- run promotions with short deadlines
- add popups with promotional offers
These tips will help you reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions.
Shopping cart abandonment is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. You can send your customers an email reminding them they forgot something in their carts as part of fixing the problem.
But looking at your shopping cart abandonment rate is only the first step of optimizing your checkout process.
You should be constantly tracking this number to see whether the changes you’re implementing are making a difference. Keep referring back to it as you go through this guide.
Eliminate unnecessary steps
If your checkout process is long and complicated, it’ll have a negative impact on your conversion rates. Make sure you’re only getting information that’s required to complete the sale.
Consumers are busy. The more steps you make them go through to buy something, the more time they have to realize they really don’t want it.
But if you can simplify your checkout procedure down to a few steps, the customer won’t have time to second-guess their decision.
That’s why the number of form fields should be as low as possible.
As you can see from the graph above, the fewer form fields, the higher checkout performance and usability. As a result, your checkout process will have better conversion rates.
But look at how quickly those numbers drop when the form fields become too long. Those yield a poor UX performance, which can negatively impact conversions.
Ask yourself this question:
What information do I really need to complete this sale?
- customer’s name
- shipping address
- email address (to send confirmation)
- billing information
That’s really it. You don’t need to find out their favorite hobby or their mother’s maiden name.
Just stick with the bare minimum, and you’ll see your conversion rates rise.
Encourage customer profiles, but don’t force it
Some ecommerce websites force customers to create profiles before they can buy something. While I can see the reasoning behind this strategy, it’s killing your conversions.
Look, I get it. From a marketing perspective, you want as much information about your customers as possible.
Once they create an account, you’ll have their name, location, and email address to which you can send more promotional info.
That’s all great. But if you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather have their money?
Not everyone wants a customer profile.
Over 48% of online retailers said a guest checkout was the most important factor to increasing shopping cart conversion rates on their websites.
This was the second highest response on the list, trailing only behind free shipping.
Profile creation piggybacks on our last point as well. You want the process to be as quick and simple as possible. Going through a long process will turn customers away.
But you can encourage your customers to create a profile in other, subtle, ways. For example, your “create a profile” CTA button can be larger and more prominent than the “checkout as a guest” button.
Or you can send the customer an email after they complete the checkout process encouraging them to create a profile.
This message can be part of your actionable drip campaign, notifying customers of:
- their order confirmation
- their order getting shipped
- their order being delivered.
You could add a promotion to one of these emails offering a discount off their next purchase if they create a profile.
Just don’t make it a requirement to buy something.
Focus on your top benefits
Besides the product, what else does the customer get when they buy something from your website? There are certain things you can do to add the perceived value of the purchase.
Here’s what I mean.
As I’ve mentioned, not everyone comes to your website with the intention of buying something. But while they are browsing, something might catch their attention.
They may want to buy it, but they want to make sure they aren’t stuck with it if they change their mind later. That’s why you should clearly state your return policy.
Take a look at this example from Lululemon:
When you’re browsing on their website, you can clearly see at all times they offer free shipping and free returns. Their customers know they can get the item delivered free and send it back without any problems.
Obviously, you don’t want items to be returned. Don’t worry, they probably won’t be. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, about 8% of all purchases get returned.
But just giving your customers the peace of mind can be enough to drive the sale.
In addition to your shipping and return policies, make sure you highlight any other features your company offers. Some things to consider:
- warranty information
- secure checkout
- social proof of the product
- any differentiating features.
One of these elements can turn a “window shopper” into a paying customer.
Learn how to use images
Believe it or not, pictures can help improve your conversion rates. Instead of just listing your products, show the customer what they’re buying.
While you may have an image or two of your products on your ecommerce shopping page, make sure that image shows up in the shopping cart.
This can help remind the consumer what they’re buying and reinforce their decision. Plus, it’s much more appealing than just reading some text on a page.
Here’s an example from the REI website:
The consumer gets reminded of exactly what they added to their cart. This could also help avoid any confusion or mix-ups down the road if they selected the wrong color, size, etc.
When they see a visual confirmation of the product they want, psychologically they’ll feel more comfortable about completing the purchase.
Faces also help improve your conversion rates.
According to a recent case study, conversions jumped from 3.7% to 5.5% when an animated picture of a phone was replaced with the face of a customer service representative.
Include images of people on your website. They could be wearing your product, using your product, or be beside your product.
Check out this example from the Macy’s homepage:
Notice it shows a person, and that person is looking at the promotional information and the CTA button.
We’ve already established consumers are drawn to faces. In this case, you’d look at the model’s face and then follow his gaze directly toward the text.
This is a great method for increasing conversions.
Simplify the overall design of your website
In addition to simplifying your checkout process, you should also try to clean up your entire website.
If your products are displayed in a cluttered manner, the consumers will feel overwhelmed. They won’t be able to find what they’re looking for, and your conversion rates will suffer.
While you may have hundreds or potentially even thousands of items for sale on your website, you don’t need to cram all of them on to one page.
Less is more.
Let’s look at an example so you can see what I’m talking about. Here is the homepage for Thule:
There are only five different places the consumer can click to start navigating through products. On the top header, they can select:
- racks & carriers
- active with kids
- luggage & bags
They’ve also got some options within the main body of the page for:
- bike racks
Now, as you continue to scroll, you’ll see more options that follow the same format as these two pictures above. But at no time do you ever see more than two pictures and two CTA buttons on the screen at once.
This simple design makes it easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
Give your customers lots of payment options
Some payment options may be more beneficial to your company than others. I completely understand this.
One credit card company may charge higher transaction fees than others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept that method of payment.
Recognize your customers have preferences. Certain payment options may give them better reward points or bonus miles over others.
If they want something but can’t buy it with their favorite card, they’ll just buy it from a different retailer instead.
You should accept newer and unconventional types of payment as well. In addition to accepting all major credit cards and debit cards, consider using:
- Apple Pay
I want to show you an example of this. Here’s a screenshot from the Nike website:
If you look at the bottom right corner of the screenshot above, you’ll see they allow their customers to check out using PayPal.
This could appeal to people who have a high PayPal balance and who want to use it for purchases. Accepting PayPal can also help eliminate concerns from customers who may be worried about their credit card information getting stolen.
The reason why I used this example from Nike is because it also highlights another concept I mentioned earlier.
Although they encourage customers to create a profile, they allow them to continue the checkout as guests. Even under the guest checkout area, it shows all the benefits of becoming a member.
To join, all you need to do is check off a box and proceed.
Another quick point about your payment methods. I recommend asking for payment as the last step of the checkout procedure.
By now, the customer has already invested some time into providing other information, so they’ll be more likely to continue. Asking for their payment first could drive them away.
Don’t forget about mobile shoppers
Retailers always need to keep mobile shoppers in mind.
In 2017, 34.5% of ecommerce sales came from mobile devices. That number is projected to reach 54% by 2021.
Your checkout process needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.
You could even consider creating a mobile app for a checkout process to minimize friction even further.
Touch of Modern is a great example of a successful retail mobile application:
You can learn a lot about getting high conversions from their business model.
They get between 150,000 and 200,000 new downloads every month. More than half of their customers are repeat shoppers. Nearly two-thirds of their total sales come from their mobile application.
Those numbers are incredible.
The reason why this app is so successful is because they use daily flash sales and store all their customers’ data on the app, making the checkout process lightning fast.
Customers don’t have to re-input all of their credit card information and shipping addresses every time they want to buy something.
The reduced friction results in high conversions.
Getting higher conversions isn’t that difficult. It just takes some effort.
As you can see from everything I talked about in this article, these methods aren’t really too extreme. They are also fairly easy to implement.
First, analyze your shopping cart abandonment rates.
Next, eliminate any unnecessary steps in your checkout process. Stick to the basics and only ask for information required for a sale.
Encourage shoppers to create a customer profile, but don’t force them to.
Highlight your top benefits. Use images throughout the checkout process to confirm what the customer is buying.
Make sure you offer many different payment options as well.
Don’t forget about mobile customers. Your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. You may even consider creating a mobile app for your ecommerce store.
If you follow these tips to simplify your checkout process, you’ll get significantly higher conversion rates.
What changes do you need to make to your checkout process to reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions?
How to Get More Converisons by Optimizing Your Checkout Process
All countries will feel the impact of automation, but at different speeds and in different ways. In this podcast, McKinsey Global Institute looks at its likely impact in China, Europe, and India.
How will automation affect economies around the world?