How Kroger Is Using Apps to Build Better, Faster Connections with Customers - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM PIVOTAL

HBR.org

Research shows how to make messaging more efficient.

Business.com
How to Improve Your SMB's Digital Customer Experience

Digital customer experience management refers to the interaction between a brand and customers through a digital interface such as a tablet, phone or computer. It is customers' overall level of satisfaction with your brand on channels that include your website and social media pages.

The factors that influence the customer experience for offline (brick and mortar) customers differ significantly from those of online customers. Customers tend to be more critical in digital platforms. They immediately fault the company for any unfavorable online experience and move to your competitor fast. 

For instance, while a customer in a physical store would be fairly comfortable with a small queue, an online can become quickly agitated by a page that's taking too long to load. The good news is that digital customer experience management can be improved using effective tools. 

Today, almost every company has an online platform. The fact that there's no face-to-face interaction can cause some brand owners to make incorrect assumptions about their digital customers' experiences. These assumptions can lead to major market losses.  

A single frustrating event can break a business relationship. A satisfactory experience, on the other hand, can lead to customer retention, higher customer acquisition and customer loyalty.  

Excellent customer experience management is necessary for the growth of any brand.   

To improve the experience your customers have on your website, you must point out the main pain points. This can be done through website session recording. It can help you spot broken links, slow pages and unpopular features. Most website session recording tools come with solutions to improve on your digital customer experience.

Provide your customers with a platform to give feedback. Make it easy for your users to give their opinion through a chat function or a feedback tab. When you implement their suggestions and correct the problematic areas, it shows you care. This, in turn, builds customer loyalty.

A mistake you can make as a company is expecting your customers to always bring their frustrations to your attention. While some customers may voluntarily give feedback, some require direct questions. The key is in asking the right questions. A quick survey directed to your regular customers can inform you of your shortcomings and improvements that can be made.

Create consistency for the customers who use multiple channels. Adopt a system that connects online services with offline services. For instance, a customer who uses a company's website to book a conference room should not have to repeat every detail they fed on the website to a physical attendant.

In conclusion, get to know what your customer is going through by using a website session recording tool. Know exactly how their experience was and whether their needs were met by providing them with ways to give feedback. Finally, develop an effective system that creates consistency in your online and offline platforms.

Practice effective digital customer experience management to keep your customers loyal. Your customers are your brand ambassadors; you must keep them happy. What they say out there about your online services can attract or repel new customers.

How to Create a Customer Experience Strategy

If you're wondering what you can do to improve your customers' experience with your business, perhaps it's time to create a customer experience (CX) strategy.

The customer experience (CX) entails all interactions a consumer has with your brand. It affects how visitors feel about your company, what they think and whether or not they'll become loyal customers. Of course, the more positive the experience, the higher the chance they'll convert. That's why it's so important to have a solid strategy in place.

Research conducted by Bain & Company found that 80 percent of companies believe their CX was great when in reality, only 8 percent of their customers agree. That's a miscalculation far too high to ignore. You want to know that CX vision your business has aligns with reality and your customers are satisfied.

If you need a revamped customer experience strategy, here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Understand your target market

You have no strategy if you aren't crystal clear about who you're marketing to. By understanding your target market, you identify the problems they need solved, what they're interested in and how you can cater to their needs.

Start by creating buyer personas, which are fleshed out profiles of your ideal customers. You need to include all the information about them you can to make your target clearer. This includes age, location, buying behaviors, interests, issues and more. Figure out why your audience would be interested in your product, how they'll use it and what motivates them to make a purchase.

If you have existing customers, send out a survey or directly ask them what you'd like to know. Ask them questions relevant to where they are in the sales funnel. Take the data you receive and streamline your customer experience strategy around it. The more information you have on your customers – both existing and potential – the better you'll understand what they need and how to give it to them.

2. Map out the customer journey

Once you have a clear idea of who you're marketing to, it's easier to map out the customer journey. This is the sum of all the interactions that consumers have with your business and the experience of being your business's customer.

It's crucial that when visitors are scouring your site – especially for the first time – that the navigation is seamless. You don't want long page-loading times, glitches, error pages, the list goes on. You want visitors to visit your site and explore it however they'd like so their questions are answered and needs are met.

According to Salesforce's State of the Connected Consumer report, 70 percent of customers consider connected processes to be an essential factor in gaining their business, such as seamlessly going from page to page or making suggestions based on previous searches.

For the most accurate customer journey, gather all the data you have on your current customer base. Figure out your customer's mindset at each stage of the funnel. Consider what motivates them to move from point A to point B when interacting with your brand. Think about where they struggle to find the answers they're looking for. All of these things will help you map out a customer journey that will aid your strategy.

3. Create emotional connections

If businesses treated customers like they were just another number, most would go out of business. As consumers are pushed further down the funnel toward making a purchase, it's important to make them feel special and show that their needs come first.

According to Salesforce, 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person – not a number – is very important to winning their business. Consumers know that if one company doesn't appreciate their business, another will. They have endless options to choose from, which is why it's essential to show them why they should buy from you.

What's the one thing you can be sure to offer them that other companies can't? A customer experience where they feel understood and listened to.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are five emotional motivators for consumers:

1. Standing out from the crowd
2. Having confidence in the future
3. Enjoying a sense of well being
4. Feeling a sense of freedom
5. Feeling a sense of thrill

Take these feelings into account when creating your CX strategy. Identify how your customers relate to your brand and its products (including the emotional factors involved) so you continue creating products that meet their needs.

Over to you

In business, your success depends on consumers and how they feel about their experience with your brand. If something is missing, they'll go to one of the million other options they have, so it's important to make them feel valued and heard.

Mapping out the customer journey will help you see where there are gaps in your CX and how to fix them. If you aren't able to connect with your audience on an emotional level, they'll feel like they're just another number on your list. You must identify the pain points of your customers if you're going to create a CX strategy that brings in revenue and keeps customers happy.

SEO Rankings Suddenly Dropped? Here's How to Fix It

It's not a good feeling when you check your analytics only to realize your content isn't ranking as well as it was recently. In a short matter of time, the metrics surrounding your SEO strategy have decreased, leaving you confused and wondering what to do. This affects how well your business is able to create conversions and generate leads.

When your Google rankings drop, it affects all areas of your website: page views, organic traffic, length of sessions, engagement level and more. According to a study by BrightEdge, more than 50 percent of organic traffic comes from search. Simply put, you need a recovery plan that will boost your SEO back to where it was before.

If you suspect your SEO rankings have dropped because of any of the following issues, here are ways to fix them.

Content is altered or removed

In the process of redesigning a website, you might conduct a content audit where you change or remove a majority of content it to enhance your rankings. This includes altering keywords, URLs, headers, subheaders, body text, and changing a subject's perspective. It's meant to match the feel of the site's new design and align with your brand.

You might think this is the best way to improve your site's SEO, but it might have caused your rankings to drop. When you change copy on your website, Google has to recrawl its pages to check for relevancy and authority. If important keywords are deleted from areas, such as description, tags, title, and alt text, its relevance drops, and, so, too, does your ranking.

The problem could also be that you deleted and removed pages of content altogether, causing a disruption in content flow. Rankings you had before can disappear when you allow topic and content gaps to form all over your site.

To fix this, check which keywords bring you the most ROI and traffic before altering or removing any content. This is content you don't want to mess with as it'll continue bringing you visitors. If you have access to the pre-edited content, revert it back to the old text and monitor it through analytics to make sure it gets a boost.

Google changed its algorithm

Google silently updates its ranking algorithm daily; most of the changes are minor and are barely noticeable. However, when there is a bigger update, it affects the rules of how to rank higher. When this happens, your only option is to implement the best SEO practices to match what Google wants.

Figure out what it is Google penalized your website for. How does this match up with their update? Why would that affect your ranking? You can use a tool like Google Algorithm Changes to track fluctuations in its search results and evaluate their impact on the ranking of your website. Google Search Console will email you when Google catches onto issues on your site and shows you which URLs they link to.

The best thing you can do to stay on Google's good side, despite their algorithm updates, is to steer clear of black hat SEO tricks. These are disapproved SEO tactics that could potentially rank you higher in SERPs but violate Google's terms of service. It results in websites being banned from ranking as Google considers it spam. Some examples include keyword stuffing, link schemes and duplicate content, to name a few.

Strive to create only valuable content with useful information that will help users and increase their engagement with your site. Google recommends monitoring your site regularly for hacking, and preventing and removing user-generated spam, such as comments.

Thin content

Thin content is another spammy SEO tactic used to boost a site's ranking despite the site not having the most relevant, useful information available. Google describes it as content that brings little or no added value to the user. It exists without the purpose of helping its audience.

If your rankings have plunged, reassess the quality and functionality of your content. Check commonly shallow pages like automatically generated content, thin affiliate pages, low-quality content from other sources and doorway pages. Remove any content that doesn't increase its value to your visitors.

Create content that's insightful and helpful to users who visit your website. People catch on to sites and businesses that only want their money and views, and don't care about anything else. Be genuine in your approach to appease your target audience and provide them only with the best.

Wrapping up

There are a number of reasons why your site's SEO rankings might have dropped. Websites encounter tons of errors every day, and Google doesn't mess around when it comes to how it ranks a site's performance. No matter the issue, it's important to stay on top of your site by monitoring its performance and staying on top of Google's rules.

4 Tips to Develop Your Brand in 2019 Using Online Video

Are you currently taking advantage of what online video has to offer?

In most cases, everyone has a preference for visual content and video over written article content. This is also seen daily through both Google and social media. More people are using their mobile devices to search and find information than ever before. When it comes to social media, it's a given that visual content and video performs best.

Write a detailed update on Facebook about the most important thing in the world, and no one cares. Post a picture of your dog or cat, and it gets a 100 likes in a few minutes!

If this isn't reason enough to focus on video, we have four more proven methods and examples for you to follow.

Build a YouTube channel and subscriber following

You've probably been hearing about the power and reach of YouTube for years now, but like many of us, you are likely still sitting on the sidelines.

Editor's note: Need a online marketing help for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

 

The majority of influencers on YouTube these days are individuals who are passionate about the videos they create. When trying to better brand yourself and grow a following online, this is also what you want to be known for. The most important thing is to take action and get started.

Setting up a YouTube channel of your own is easy enough, but if you really want to make a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd, there are a few influencer requirements you should consider. As recommended in this setting up a YouTube channel reference guide, it's important to have a custom header image, unique thumbnails for each of your videos and to tell viewers to subscribe and like your videos.

These tips might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people slack off in these areas when going live with their first set of videos. Since YouTube doesn't let you upload new videos in place of existing ones, it's important to get it right the first time around.

Convert existing video content into text and visual content

If you aren't currently using online video, YouTube is a great way to get started. However, if you are already creating videos and have a bunch of them working for you, there is still more that you can do.

With over a billion active sites on the internet today, it's important to try and create as much content as possible with as little effort as possible. By this, I mean you want to create the best content possible, but not in just one medium.

For example, if you already have online videos working for you, you can transcribe them into a text article, turn them into an audio file or even get more creative and make a visual information based on the data mentioned. Once this is done, you could then add the text content to your blog, audio to different file platforms, and of course the same goes for your visuals.

If you are actively doing this for each video you create, you will have 3-4 times more content on the internet working for you.

Take advantage of Instagram video and remarketing ads

Social media has been one of the most fascinating places to keep an eye on for business growth and personal branding. With more people viewing just visual and video content when browsing the internet or using their mobile device, Instagram has quickly found itself as the go-to platform.

Again, if you aren't already active on Instagram – you should be!

Instagram is all about photos and videos. Without the ability to add a site link or URL to each of the most recent uploads, it's important to make sure you pictures and videos are working for you.

One of the best ways to do this, is through the promoted stories and remarketing options available through Facebook ads. If you aren't sure this type of advertising is going to work for you, just take a look at these creative case studies to get some ideas on how to build a winning ad campaign.

In short, you can build a following on Instagram, then market to your followers through their self-serving advertising platform. Since you already have a unique set of users following your account, it would likely make your click through rates and conversions much higher than advertising to a general audience.

Explore your options with online webinars and video interviews

For anyone with a business or brand already in place, you likely already know the value of hosting or attending an online webinar or getting interviewed by an industry expert.

These methods work well for several reasons, but one of the most consistent benefits is that you are getting massive free exposure to new audiences. Since many of the top websites, blogs and podcasts are always looking for new content and experts to interview or co-host with, this makes for a perfect opportunity to grow your reach and brand.

Just like how we talked about how you can use video to create all different types of content, many of podcasters and content creators will do this with any interviews or content you might create for them. It's a win-win situation.

To make sure you are a great guest and provide real value to an audience, be sure to follow these webinar and interview tips.

On the flip side, in addition to attending other webinars, podcasts, and video interviews – you could actually host these as well, while benefiting from the expertise and audiences from those you are interviewing.

The benefits of using online video to grow your brand

As you can see, there are plenty of unique and interesting ways to use online video in 2019.

Most people neglect to get into video, because they are often shy or don't want to be in front of the camera. If that's the case, don't worry! There are many ways to create video without needing to get on camera or even use your voice.

Be sure to explore the many options and opportunities available in the world of online video.

3 Marketing Hacks to Help You Attract the Right Investors

For any business, a good marketing strategy is often the difference between landing the next customer and closing shop. But as the number of new business ventures continues to rise across the globe, a business’s marketing strategy is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in landing investors.

Fueled by the growth of the digital economy, these new ventures are introducing some much-needed disruption within many traditional industries.

On the flipside, however, these new businesses are also gradually establishing a fiercely competitive funding environment, with each new entrant fighting to secure capital from a limited number of investors. Toward that end, the marketing strategy becomes one of the few tools available for businesses that want to capture the attention of willing investors.

Potential investors, like your customers, will not find you unless you put the word out. They’ll also not go with a business that hasn’t figured out its customer acquisition strategy, something that requires a well thought-out marketing strategy. Here are a few tips to help you develop a marketing strategy that will hook you up with the right investors. 

1. Identify investors within your niche

One of the biggest mistakes that many budding entrepreneurs make is begging for funds from any investor that cares to listen. Desperate for capital, most business owners will market their businesses or business ideas without first identifying what type of investor they want to bring in. And as many of them learn down the line, the right business matched with the wrong investor or investment platform is almost always destined to fail. Especially once ideological differences between the founder and the business’s investors play out.

Before you embark on marketing your business to potential investors, take the time to know your ideal investor. Find out things like the niches they invest in, the location of their investments and their investment potential. If you’re planning to pitch to venture capital and private equity firms, find out as much as you can about individual decision makers within these companies to give your marketing plan more leverage once they interact with your business.

It’s only after you’ve characterized your ideal investor that you can start infusing your marketing plan with this information.  

2. Redesign your PR strategy for maximum exposure

Once you’ve figured out what your ideal investor looks like, it’s important to make sure that your PR strategy is carefully coordinated and sends the right message about your business to potential investors.

One effective way to accomplish this is by making sure your PR campaigns are backed by a solid digital marketing strategy. According to one in-depth analysis by Aquare, a digital marketing agency, a well-managed content amplification strategy designed to generate thousands of retweets, shares and referral traffic is the only way to make sure that PR campaigns achieve maximum reach and engagement.

Value does not necessarily equate to how much you spend on a campaign, it is all to do with a tangible return on that investment measured in revenue. An effective paid ad strategy on social media is vital, but approaching and using influencers in the right way is just as important for organic reach. By covering all your bases – or in this case, digital channels – your PR campaign has a higher chance of landing in front of the right investors who won’t hesitate to come on board.

Additionally, your PR strategy needs to show potential investors within your industry that you’re ahead of the curve. Your press releases, newsletters, special media or speaking engagements should ideally focus on current and future trending topics within your industry with the objective of establishing your business as a thought leader. This will help set your business apart from the hundreds of startups and SMBs that are also looking for investors.  

Also remember to time your PR campaigns appropriately. Press releases, emails and other elements of your PR strategy need to all be scheduled appropriately in advance of seeking out funding in order to lay the ground work for productive conversations.     

3. Solidify your digital presence

In addition to your PR strategy, your digital presence should be felt by any investor who wants to interact with your brand. The last thing you’d want for your business is to make a successful pitch to a potential investor only for them to spend a whole afternoon wandering through the internet looking for the slightest glimpse of your brand.

Editor's note: Looking for the right online marketing services for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 

Therefore, one of the most important elements of your business’s online identity is your website. This is usually the first thing potential investors go to for additional information about you. Despite its importance, however, only a surprisingly small number of SMBs pay attention to their website – if they even have one at all.

Make sure your website – and especially your landing page – is simple and easy on the eyes, mobile friendly and loads quickly. That last bit is important because page load time affects bounce rate significantly, with a 5-second page load time resulting in a 38 percent bounce rate, which translates into a ton of lost opportunities.

Your digital presence should also include social media – another important element of marketing that will bring your brand closer to potential investors. However, instead of going with every social media channel available, double-down exclusively on those that are truly relevant to your business and investors. For instance, if you’re an online fashion retailer, you’ll get more brand visibility via platforms like Pinterest and Instagram than Twitter because of the visual nature of your products.

There are a ton of other ways that you can tweak your marketing strategy to attract investors outside the digital world. For instance, hosting or attending a business networking event can lead to a one-on-one conversation with a potential investor who may even turn out to be a business partner. So, by combining both digital and traditional elements of marketing, you stand a much greater chance of bumping into that one person who could mean the difference between success and failure.

No comments