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As customers, we will never go backwards. We will keep demanding more and better and faster. If we don’t get it, we will vote with our feet and our social media voices.
As businesses, if we don’t invest in continuously improving customer service we can only compete on price, that joyless race to the bottom.
If you’re serious about a great customer experience then it’s time to get real about artificial intelligence (AI) because the return on investment is measurable and significant.
Businesses implementing AI in their customer experience are not replacing their existing model, they are augmenting the model where it makes financial sense. So where does it make sense?
As organisations add new customers or new products and services their customer support request volumes increase. Using an automated agent as a first responder resolves the simple, repetitive requests that don’t require human intervention.
When the requests are more complex or require escalation the automated agent delivers a warmed up customer where the live support agent is briefed on the customer need and the customer does not have to repeat the basics of their issue.
Reduction in support requests requiring a live agent and/or a phone call.
Live agents maximise productivity in dealing with a smaller volume of more complex tasks that only a human being can solve and reducing the brain drain of answering repetitive questions.
Machine learning from automated agent conversations is more rapidly mobilised into website FAQ and support documentation.
Companies with developed customer portals already allow customers to manage their own accounts, but customers still want and need a helping hand even if they are logged into a portal.
Once authenticated, automated agents can better support the customer based on their personal history within the portal. Transactions, previously logged support requests and access to rebates and discounts are just a sample of what an automated agent can serve up all in one place and in one conversation.
Reducing customer churn. Providing an adaptable, personalised experience and delivering information in a timely and useful way is critical for customer retention.
For organisations it provides real time feedback on how well the customer portal is functioning. Easily gauge and improve on the customer experience by understanding what is used and/or confused.
For eCommerce sites reducing any point of purchase friction is a critical, but sometimes frustrating pursuit. In the case of some businesses the retail experience is only online, and overheads are already stretched across multiple areas of the business and staffing a phone or live chat 24/7 isn’t financially viable.
Using a combination of automated support and personalised data retrieval, customers receive timely advice, supported by previous purchase data and available loyalty rewards.
Using AI to enhance the customer experience has clear financial benefits, but it also helps improve the person to person experience too.
As customers we want to know our money and our time is valued and adding AI to the customer support experience doesn’t just say that, it SHOWS it.
Tough to admit as digital marketers, but our website was hacked a few years ago. It was frustrating, time-intensive to fix and mostly embarrassing.
We hung our heads for a bit, but then realised our experience could actually benefit others. We had taken our website security for granted but the process of restoring our online reputation painted a clear picture of what we, and other WordPress sites could do to strongly discourage future hacking attempts.
While some of the information below is unique to our WordPress security service it is a strong guide for anyone needing to keep their online reputation safe.
Traitor…that is likely the nicest thing my female colleagues, team members, friends and family are thinking right now. Shame on me really, because I’m here to tell you why we should throw those antiquated ideas out the (car) window.
Women, on average, are are looking after more than one person at any given time, requiring more patience and thought in getting from here to there. So if we take a bit more time or allow more than one car to merge remember the literal and metaphorical band-aid at the back of our mind.
The first thing about choosing strong keywords for your websites search engine optimization (SEO) is to know what your potential client or customer is searching for that you can offer them. When a person comes to your site based on a particular keyword, will they find the items, goods or services they are seeking? If not, you are leading them down a path that will come to a disappointing end for everyone. What are you offering that’s unique to your business? How can you get people to come to your site for something very specific that they will be delighted to know you offer?
Start by experimenting with search terms you think are your strongest possibilities. When you enter them, what comes up? Are there lots of ads for that search term and what is the competition you have regarding those terms?
Ex: If you are a dentist, try Googling the search term dental care followed by your zip code. Location based key phrases are best with most brick and mortar businesses. If a lot of other dentists come up in that search, you are competing with those businesses for a piece of the pie using that term. This can be costly if you are using a service like Google Ad Words as you will be competing with some of the bigger businesses for that piece of the pie. If you have a specialty and can use search terms that are more specific to what you specialize in, you might be able to get great traction using terms about that specific service. Ex. Best tooth whitening in Orlando might be a little more targeted than best dentist in Orlando.
It’s not just about key words, it’s about key phrases.
You can hire a professional SEO service, but be cautious. There are many companies that are great at this but many that are not as experienced as they profess. Get references.
Google offers a few free tools that can be helpful. Google Key Word Planner, Google Trends and Key Word Tool io, are free and can give you some good information.
There are tools you can pay for that can be more in depth but costly.
Term Explorer and Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool are excellent products but can run as little as $35 a month to nearly $500 a month depending on what you choose.
It can simply be trial and error. Keep a watchful eye on it and if a key word or phrase is not bringing clicks to your site and more importantly conversions to sales, ditch it.
Remember that the sole purpose of key words is to bring people to see what you have to offer and get them to buy something, be it goods or services.
USP, is an acronym for, Unique Selling Proposition (or unique selling point). It’s a marketing tool that differentiates a product or company from its competitors. USP’s use value propositions like, the lowest cost, the best quality, or a product that is the only of its kind.
Your USP should clearly state, to potential customers, a benefit that only your company can offer that your competitors don’t. This should be very compelling in order to attract new customers.
Here are some great examples of USPs from well-known companies:
You have to know not only your audience but your own personality and how your business reflects that personality. What’s the corporate culture of your business? With a company like FedEx, it’s all about speed. The hidden arrow in their logo, expressing forward motion, was no accident. They’re saying, we can get your packages where they need to go faster than the competition. That’s their USP.
What is your unique quality and what is the personality of your business? Are you charity driven like Bombas? They realized that the number one request at homeless shelters was for sox. Their unique selling proposition became, for every pair of sox they sold, they gave a pair to the homeless. That’s a, pretty, powerful, USP. You have to look at what’s different about your company or product and how you can turn that into a strong marketing statement that makes customers want to use you instead of your competitors for their unique needs.
What separates successful businesses from ones that scrape by is knowing why they are better at something. Little Ceasars may not make the best pizza you’ve ever had, but if you’re late getting home from work and on a limited budget, a quick stop and a five dollar bill and you can feed your kids. That’s important to the customer. Your USP should be your flag that you fly that says what you can do for the customer to make life better for them in some way. Cheaper, faster, one of a kind, best ever, best quality, best for them and their lifestyle; these are the reasons people choose who they buy from.
Only if those products are very different in nature or scope. If you’re Colgate, you sell things for teeth; toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouth wash.
If you sell cars and also shoes, you may have to create more than one USP. That’s not common for most businesses but deciding on your Unique Selling Proposition takes time and careful consideration.
Think it through and make it your own.
Instagram might not be for everyone but it’s a very powerful social media platform, especially for millennials. Research shows that Instagram drives more engaged traffic than any other social media channel, including Facebook.
Instagram gleans more return customers. If someone buys something from you and then follows you on Instagram, statistics show they’re more likely to become repeat customers, which is how businesses survive.
Our world is visual, and “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Most people have a great camera built into their phone. That alone can be a fantastic business tool.
It’s hard to say how you should spend your time marketing your business. Marketing is a science and, with the onslaught of social media platforms, it’s only become more complicated. If you offer goods that are visual in nature, where images can be very impactful, Instagram is can work. Marketing is about one thing, engagement. How can you engage an audience? We live in a world where everything is moving so quickly, to keep up with it, you have to be fast and visual. Can you get them to your website, store, or event to see what you’re selling with strong visuals and content? If so, Instagram is worth your time and efforts.
Everything can be sexy if you approach it from the right angle. If you’re selling orthopedic shoes to senior citizens, show a sexy older woman rocking those shoes. You can make your small business look just as important as the big guys with well thought out images that tell who you are and what you’re selling. Sexy is subjective. Sexy can be getting the right product to the right people at the right price.
Yes! Engagement is tough. People are fickle and the 20-40 year- old Instagram user is no exception. Post at least once a day. With Twitter you might need to post 8 to 10 times a day to stay current. With Instagram, a couple of pictures with short, pithy, content can do the trick.
Hashtags are not a gimmick. They’re keyword phrases. If someone’s searching for something and uses a phrase that turns up in a hashtag, that search will lead them to you. Hashtags can take on a life of their own. The hashtag, #Nevermypresident, is getting a lot of traction from the people that don’t support the incoming president. Searching that hashtag will bring people with that mind set together.
Instragram is better for reaching a younger audience. Facebook has moved toward an older demographic where Instagram and it’s visual connection to the phone garner a much younger crowd. If you’re product or services are aimed at the under 40 crowd, Instagram is a must.
Using artificial intelligence, with a complicated algorithm of logics and code, companies employing this method can create a website in minutes. WIX claims they are testing the use of this software in their builds. Using this technology, WIX, like other DIY website builders, can save a great deal of time and money, but will the end results be what the client needs and likes?
Here’s how it works:
You’re asked a set of standard questions to determine the nature of your business and what kind of website you would need to build. This will determine the layout, design and content as well as overall branding that should work best for your situation. Neither you nor a team of web developers (actual people) need to code anything. AI does it for you from design to organization and you can focus on what content you think will best grab your audience. If that feels like magic, it almost is.
Yes, but probably through working with a bigger business like a WIX or GRID if and when they bring this technology to the public. It’s a costly endeavor and not fully proven. There will be issues with using AI to create websites. The art of customizing a site that really reflects the personality of a business could be lost in this kind of programming not to mention a lot of programming jobs that pay the bills of human beings and their families but it could save time and money for the end user.
Chatbots are a hot new trend
Bots are simple artificial intelligence systems that you interact with via text. It can be something as simple as asking what the weather will be like in Portland Oregon (rainy, most likely) or more complicated like seeking advice on your internet connection issues.
A Bot might handle things that would usually require a phone call, web search, or mobile app. Things like banking, making reservations, movies times, games, can all be handled by a Bot.
Bots with Machine Learning have an artificial brain. They understand natural language, not only their programmed commands. Every time they converse with actual people, they get “smarter”.
When they crash, they re-program and learn from their previous mistakes. This happens as they interact more and more with people. This is how they differ from normal computers that can only solve problems they are programmed to solve. AI means artificial intelligence so Bots continue to learn and evolve.
AI will be a hot topic in the coming year. As we move into the new year and beyond, AI will provide new technology for the home, office, hospital and more. Perhaps the next time you go to your favorite restaurant, your order will be taken by a bot and their website will have been built by AI power.
Why does this work matter and what happens if you don’t do it?
SEO means: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), if you pause to think for a second it very quickly sinks in that SEO is a very sensible thing to do. Why wouldn’t you want your site to appear at the top of a search engine’s list of returned sites?
So, before we get into how SEO works it is going to be helpful to know how a search engine finds results. Search engines are answer machines: ask a question and it searches its index to find the most relevant answers. The search engine has compiled this index using a “web crawler”, a program that visits each page on the web and all of its links, which stores a copy of the page and its URL in the search engine’s index. If you can find the page listed on a search engine then a crawler has visited it. Now, the part where SEO comes in: a search engine uses an algorithm to rank results in order of relevance to your search. These algorithms look at different elements to decide which sites come at the top of the returned list. SEO ensures that your site contains all the elements that a search engine algorithm is looking for and gets ranked highly. For example:
Title Tags (or Title Elements): are the highlighted titles that a search engine result page (SERP) displays (on Google they are highlighted blue). These tags tell Google, other search engine the main description of your site or document. They are very important and optimizing them is often one of the first SEO tasks.
Meta Descriptions: appearing under the highlighted Title Tag on a SERP. Although Google’s algorithms do not take Meta descriptions into account, since 2009, to determine a sites relevance they are essential to encourage users to click on your link, rather than a competitors.
H1 Tags: stands for Heading One and is the first thing a search engine like Google will look at to establish the relevance of your site after the title tag. With an H1 tag you are essentially telling search engines that this text, or heading is the most crucial.
Image Alt Tags: labels for any images on your site or document and Google, and others, use Image Alt tags to determine what the image is but also if the surrounding information is relevant an useful. Clear tags are very important for SEO.
Internal Linking: when a Google crawler finds your site it will also have a look at any links to see their relevance. If the link structure is unclear then it is possible the crawler may not even know the links exist. Many experts believe internal linking has a strong impact on Google’s algorithm and a clear pyramid shaped internal linking structure is key.
By using SEO your site will immediately have gained an advantage over any non-optimised sites on the web; people are inherently lazy and are most likely to click on one of the top five results, rather than any others. More people than ever are using search engines and SEO is becoming more and more common and is essential if you want to generate traffic on your site. Without SEO you run the risk of your site being buried deep in the search engine’s index and rarely read.
Customer profiling may sound like a politically incorrect term used in airport security but it’s actually an innocent business term for understanding who your customers are.
Imagine a manual for how to most effectively reach your target demographic with details on what they like to buy, how much the spend, how they use your products or services, what will help retain their custom and what matters most to them as consumers. That is your customer profile.
How to create your ideal customer profile
Customer profiles help you understand the things that matter to your customers so you can tailor your offerings and messages to better appeal to them.
Selling products and services without understanding what your ideal customer looks like is akin to doing paint by numbers with your eyes closed. You’ll get paint on the canvass, so in a sense, job done, but it’s not going to look pretty.
Let’s examine how you can easily create a customer profile to determine your target demographic.
There are four simple parts to creating profiles for the customers your business should be targeting: Describe. Connect. Locate. Understand.
The first thing you need to do is create a description sheet for each of your ideal customers. You need to determine, in a broad sense, the two or three main types of customer you have or want.
Build profiles by sorting customers using these basic criteria:
If you work B2B then what you should define includes: Sector, number of employees, revenue and budget, national/global reach, and decision-making process.
Each type of customer will have varying motives for why they chose your company or your product. Not appreciating their individual motives means you cannot address their individual needs. Don’t lump them together.
Lots of companies use data-mining or just good old-fashioned polling of their customers to gather information. Interview your current customers and ask them what they like about you, what they don’t; what attracted them to you, how they found you originally; what makes them stay, what makes them want to leave; what others do they wish you did, what you do others don’t. Encourage complete honesty.
The information you get back will enable you to create your customer profiles. This information is vital in so many ways. It not only allows you to use that information in the most effective manner for your market strategies but also gives you invaluable feedback on your strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing where your customers are isn’t as simple as where they live. We covered that kind of location in demographics. What you want to know is where they go — be that physically or digitally. Where do they spend their time? What websites are they visiting? What papers do they like to read? What social media networks are they attracted to? What do they search for on the internet? Where do they go on holiday? What continents do they prefer to visit?
When you understand where your customer types are at any given time you can target them more effectively. You might be spending money on ad spaces in a national gym with loads of members but few of them fit your customer profiles. That’s wasted money but it can sometimes seem like a good idea to go for numbers.
Knowing where your customers are located can help you decide what numbers make more sense. A small online forum where the average user is 60% likely to fit one of your profiles or a national newspaper with 5x the active readers but with an average profile fit of 25%?
We all have a purchasing process — an unconscious method for making spending decisions. Understanding what drives your customers to make the decisions they do is a key part of building a winning strategy.
You need to understand what their problem or need is. Are they making purchases proactively or reactively? Are they trying to fix a problem or fulfilling a desire? How are they researching solutions to their problem? How are they researching ways to fulfil their need? What benefits are they looking for?
How are they making their final decision? Are they looking at reviews? Comparing features and benefits with competitors? Are they buying on a whim? Do they need to get approval?
When you understand how they make purchases you can tailor your message to speak to them on their level. Your strategy can be designed to match the flow of their purchasing process resulting in higher conversions.
One of the best ways to create specific profiles for each distinct group is to name them and give them a picture — this is known as a persona. Visual aids are really helpful in building customer personas and familiarising your team with the motives, desires and concerns of that type of customer. Also, down the line it will enable seamless switching of strategy between customer sets.
An extraneous example would be marketing for a new face cream. A broad target would be “active females in their 30s and 40s”. Customer profiling could allow you to break that down into ‘Molly the stay at home mum’, ‘Charlotte the career woman’ and ‘Adventurous Alice’.
Molly is in her mid-30s; she has two children, one at school, the other is under a year. She lives in the suburbs, drives a hatchback and has a household income of $80000. She doesn’t get much sleep so is concerned her skin is starting to look tired. She wants to try a new face cream but is easily put off by negative reviews on a mum’s blog forum she visits most days.
Charlotte is in her late 20s, has no children and is dating. She drives a convertible, lives in the city, travels for work a lot and earns $50000. She has noticed a few wrinkles around her brow and wants sometimes to help smooth them. She’s always busy so tends to take the advice of sales clerks or chooses products she has seen in her favourite magazine which often has free samples.
Alice leads a very active, outdoors lifestyle. She surfs, cycles, swims, rock-climbs and runs. She’s into extreme sports and spends most of her life in the sun. Alice is worried her lifestyle is drying out her skin and wants a product that is compatible with her activities. She tends to use consumer comparison sites to find the best deals and research the benefits of products.
All three would benefit from using the same product but they have different motives, purchasing processes, incomes, backgrounds and lifestyles. You can’t create a campaign that will reach everyone but by creating customer profiles you can create appropriate and targeted campaigns for your ideal customers.
Acutely targeted marketing strategies, created with these ideal customers in mind, should enable you to better reach the new and existing customers to positively affect sales and grow your business.