State of the (Local) Union

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A short article on Greg Sterling’s very insightful and informative blog, Screenwerk, earlier this week referenced a slide that has created a good deal of buzz in the local media space.

While it was very pleasing to see Agendize duly noted on what is being dubbed the ‘local media landscape’, I felt a slight pang for some of our partners and peers who also deserve to be represented there, with their name, or logo in this case, up in lights.

That aside, what struck me more than anything, once the initial hunt for the Agendize logo and those of some of the other companies I admire and follow was over, was just how many companies there are, and how overwhelming, and likely confusing, it must be for a local business that is considering how to effectively market online.

Slowly, but surely, the State of the (Local) Union is playing out. Local drives economies, so with the enormous potential for revenues comes an array of entrants into the local digital space. Some are new, some are familiar, some are opportunistic, others are misaligned and attempting to hammer the proverbial square peg of enterprise into the round hole of local and the Small-to-Medium businesses. Whatever their angle, local is BIG and the time for it to be both lead to water, and trusting enough to drink, is fast upon us.

A I mentioned, it’s pleasing for us to be recognized on this graphic, as we believe we set our stall out in a way that was best for local businesses, harnessing several difficult-to-tame technologies and presenting them in a single platform to make life easier for the small business user. And, to work with large Resellers the SMB community knows and trusts, in order to match our technological prowess with their local market savvy.

We are 10 years into our vision of what Agendize can do to simplify and improve local businesses’ online activities. We are still innovating, often predictive, but also in response to the rapid pace of change, to help convert their online traffic into real customers they can do business with. Through our unified platform of conversion tools – still the only unified platform on the market, I might add – we’re bringing powerful technologies in the areas of Online Appointment Scheduling, Live Chat, Click-to-Call, Call Tracking, Contact Forms, Save & Share, and more, to local business at prices local businesses can afford and, by doing so, we’re achieving what they really want from digital service providers – helping them generate more business.

That’s precisely what the Software providers, Digital Agencies, SEO specialists, Reputation Management Platforms, SEM enablers, Website Platforms, Directory Publishers, and all the others that I could mention who are focused on the local media landscape should be passionate about, whether working directly with local businesses, or collaborating with partners who do, for that is the only way we will all benefit. Or, as I heard it profoundly referred to at a trade show event in the recent past, ‘Our collective responsibility to local businesses is to help make phones’ ring and door’s swing!’. It really is as simple as that.


New Feature: Call Recording in Click-to-Call

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We’re happy to announce that we’ve launched a big new feature this week: call recording in Click-to-Call. Now, you can choose to record all of the calls you receive via your Click-to-Call button! This is a great way for a business to make sure that their clients are getting consistent, friendly support, or to keep track of what customers are calling about. It’s something that’s often been requested, and we’re so pleased to be launching it today.

Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Log into your Agendize account and go to the Tools menu
  2. Find your existing Click-to-Call button and edit it
  3. Once editing the button, click on Advanced Options to expand that section
  4. Scroll down below the list of countries and you will see the following option:Click-to-Call Call Recording
  5. Check the Call Recording box and save your button, and you’re good to go!

Once you’ve turned on recording, every call made with that button going forward will be recorded and kept on our servers for 30 days. To access the recordings, just go to the Reports menu and look under Call Details. You will see a new column labeled RECORDING which will contain a button that lets you download each call’s recording.

We hope you enjoy this new feature, and if you have any questions, just let us know!

 


A Visual Way to Get Creative with Conversions

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Who said marketing your business online has to be boring? There’s so many fun and creative ways to expose your service/product, engage your customers and convert. Beat the post-summer blues and try these presentation tips out when you have minute or two.

Video Channels, Screencasts, Presentations and more…

Sending newsletters out via email and posting updates on your company blog are both good ways to inform your followers. But after a while these updates can become repetitive and you risk losing your audience’s attention. Keep your clickthrough rates up by trying out new ways to communicate — using YouTube, Camtasia or SlideShare for example.

Create a YouTube Channel and link it to your website, email campaign and social media pages. Use your webcam to shoot video updates with tips, announcement and updates. Read ReelSEO’s 9 Tips for Increasing Video Conversions for more advice.

Watching a screencast is more interesting than scrolling down bland pages of instructions. A video tutorial can explain your product/service in a more clearer and entertaining way (which is more likely to be remembered). Camtasia makes it quick and easy to record and edit your screencasts. It even gives you the option to post your videos directly to your YouTube channel. Don’t forget to add Click-to-Call to your video pages in case your customers  have questions after watching your presentation.

Another way to expose your brand is by adding your company’s whitepapers, conference notes and slideshow presentations to Slideshare. There’s no reason to keep all documents secret. The digital age is all about sharing information and knowledge. The more transparent you are with your conversion and marketing strategies, the more opportunities you will have to engage and interact with other experts in your field.

Nancy E.

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Conversion Optimization is Not Rocket Science: Top 3 Tips

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Increasing conversions isn’t always easy, but it’s not rocket science either. There are many ways to increase your conversion rate without spending too much time or money. You’d be surprised how far small improvements to your website and marketing strategy will take you. Reserve some time this week to…

1. Ask yourself many questions

One of the best ways to increase conversions is to brainstorm common customer/new visitor questions with your sales and support teams. This exercise will educate your company to better address your customers’ needs. Work these questions and answers into relevant areas on your website. Link your helpful content to relevant blog posts, online brochures, marketing reports—anything that can help guide your leads to better understand your product/services and their value. Always offer your customers an easy and immediate way to get in contact with you via Click-to-Call and Live Chat in case they have any more questions.

2. Write like a 12-year-old

Time is money. Money is time. The big problem today is that no one feels as though they have enough time. Visitors online are easily distracted and don’t have the minutes (or even seconds) to read long and complicated content. Cut the Shakespeare and write like a 12-year-old—short, simple, clear and always to the point. The longer you keep your visitors browsing, the longer they have to convert. Offer them ways to stay tuned with your company. Videos, slideshows, case studies, testimonials are all great ways to keep them focusing on your brand.

3. Add calls-to-action everywhere

Don’t only offer your visitors reading material. Get them to take part in your company by following a fun call-to-action. Invite your leads to create an account, share your blog post, tweet your webinar, book an appointment and more. The more calls-to-action on your site, the more opportunities you createfor conversion. Be tasteful each time you reach out. A site bombarded with “click me” buttons and promo ads can scare away a valuable shopper. A good way to network and gather unbiased feedback about your site is to suggest a “feedback exchange” with other companies/professionals working online.

Have you discovered good advice that has helped increase your conversion rates ? Pay it forward and share your tips below.

Nancy E.

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If McLuhan was alive today, would he tweet and text his friends?

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Earlier this month, @BrianSolis blogged about “The Number One Least Asked Question in Social Media…Why?” He discussed why asking “Why” is important in all aspects of business, including social media. As we embrace a social media culture, Solis proves that Marshall McLuhan’s world aphorism “the medium is the message” (and palindrome: “the message is the medium”) is still valid today:

In an era where information is democratized and influence is equalized, the message is now also the medium. There are prevailing cultures unique to each social network. What you create for Twitter is different than what you might say in Facebook and certainly not at all how you would say it in Google+.

The real importance in understanding McLuhan’s quote is to remind us of the potential dangers of new “mediums” (technology)…like instant messaging.

@BrianZimm1 says that “digital conversations via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn can be very dangerous to the future of communication.” Research proves that a message is correctly interpreted approximately 20% more over phone than email. Without verbal communication, many opportunities of connecting with customers, leads and colleagues are lost.

McLuhan said, “Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force.”

Therefore, if we discover that a new medium brings along negative effects in the way we do business, it’s our duty to intervene during the technology’s development and set it on the right track. Maintaining the right balance between digital and face-to-face conversations is key for maintaining healthy business and personal relationships. Every instant messaging tool such as email, text message and Twitter, must be complemented with a human touch engagement tool like Click- to-Call. By adding the right ‘combos’ of communication tools to your websites, blogs and marketing campaigns, you can keep up with new technology, without neglecting the importance of verbal communication via phone calls, video chats and live meetings.

Nancy E.


How Not to Get Dumped by Your Angry Customers

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Building a business is like building a relationship. We all slip up at some point and make mistakes. It’s how we deal with our shortcomings that really matters…and learning from them.

As a dissatisfied customer, I learned three important lessons in customer service today:

  1. Don’t annoy your leads/clients
  2. If you do irritate them, respond to their frustration in a timely manner
  3. Not matter the situation, be polite and professional

Receiving  customer complaints via web forms and email is proving to be less and less effective. The main reason: response time. Our follow up expectations have skyrocketed in this digital age of real-time data.

How long is too long? Many users would agree that a response within 24 hours is necessary. Others are less patient.

So you or one of your employees made a boo boo. As a business owner, what are the right steps to take when responding to your customers’ complaints online?

Help your customer one to one:

  • Use Click-to-Call and Live Chat on your site so people can get in touch with you immediately (and free). Don’t anger your customer more by forcing them to wait on hold and pay for it.
  • Set up Twitter/Facebook pages and monitor them regularly. It’s important to know what people are saying about your company–good and bad.
  • If a customer complains, respond honestly, transparently, professionally and address their concern. Don’t try to hide and ignore bad reviews/Tweets. It can backlash into a bigger issue.

Always try to move the conversation to a more private setting. Offer to help your customer over email, chat or phone. New ways to complain in real-time are developed every day. Don’t risk getting a bad reputation and put your customers first.

Nancy E.


Treat Every Page Like Your Homepage

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In a post about how to use call-to-action buttons on your website to attract and convert more visitors on 1stwebdesignerCharina Torres wrote something web designers often forget:

“Many developers have the connotation of just putting call-to-action buttons on the homepage of the website, remember that it should not only be limited on the homepage, rather try putting some call-to-action buttons on every page of the website.”

Very true! When people find your site via a search engine, they are just as likely to land on an internal page as your home page. By adding multiple call-to-actions to your website, your visitors can browse longer and take action from more than one page.

The key business marketing rule here is: make it easy for customers to buy from you.

In the offline shopping world, you would normally display your merchandise, promotions and prices in a clear way. Most importantly, you would hire employees that can help your customers find the right product, answer their specific questions and remind them of new arrivals/discounts.

Why should it be any different offline? Designing a good website and using call-to-action covers only part of your sales strategy. Click-to-Call is a necessary tool in offering the human touch customer service experience that’s often missing when shopping online. By adding a “Call Me” click-to-action button on your website, you will prompt more users to pick up the phone and call, even if your number is listed on your page anyway. It’s easy and effective as tapping a salesperson and asking them for help…offering even more actually. It’s possible integrate a Click-to-Call button on a banner ad, or send it to leads via email too!

Although the phone is considered the most effective form of contact for many businesses, it’s important to provide your prospective customers with many different ways to contact you. Not everyone shops the same way. People who are not comfortable on the phone sometimes prefer Live Chat or email. Others need to speak to a real person before buying.

Nancy E.


Technology Stress Management: 3 Tips on Keeping Your Cool

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Is there even a point asking the question have you ever felt stressed using technology? What about this instead…

Do you own a TV, cell phone or laptop? I know you’re raising your hand up high.

Technology-related stress has been fully integrated into our daily lives. Maybe this type of stress isn’t so bad if you see it as daily office- job workout routine…or something.

At the Montreal Agendize office this morning, our hearts started pumping hard when the portable A/C unit blew a fuse. This triggered the wireless router to turn off, booting all of us offline. Dealing with these types of issues in 100˚ heat will make you break a sweat. Other than burning some calories, stress is never good for your health.

I recently tweeted an article posted on @bitrebels by Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting) that mentions a poll conducted by Stinky Ink focusing on employees stressing aver technology:

40% of those polled said that technology issues were more stressful to them than family or financial issues.

That’s a powerful statistic knowing that money is the leading culprit in most divorces in America.
So what’s the solution so technology doesn’t drive you to throw your computer out the window (like this guy) or end your marriage? It’s all about choosing the right partner and tools:

1. Don’t be afraid of trying new things

You won’t find a perfect match unless you play the field. Be open to get help and try out new tools that are proven to help your business grow. A conversion button like Live Chat and Click-to-Call can increase online sales by 25% and more.

2. Be picky when choosing between technologies

Do your homework so you don’t waste time downloading or purchasing tools that won’t work for you. Take some time to research: read online reviews and ask your friends what they use. Don’t always settle for big name brands. Sometimes the best help is free…this goes for apps too!

3. See flexibility as a major point of attraction

Flexibility is more than a bonus these days…it’s a requirement! Choose a product that is easy to work with so you’ll enjoy every step in the process. You don’t need to be a computer geek to get stuff done online. A company like Yola for example, makes it so easy for anyone to build a professional website.

How do you manage technology- related stress at your workplace? Which online tools help calm you down and how do they contribute to your business plan? Post your comments below!

Thanks,

Nancy E.
@nanceEss


The 4 Ws of Click-to-Call: Getting the Full Story on Conversion

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A few of you have expressed your confusion about Click-to-Call and how it works. So we came up with a short and easy-to-understand video so you can see how Click-to-Call is a quick and easy-to-use conversion solution! This video demonstrates how Click-to-Call initiates live phone conversations with you and your online visitors:

Who – Click-to-Call helps anyone who can benefit by offering their clients the chance to request a toll-free call from their phone. We currently work with a diverse group of professionals and industries such as lawyers, car dealers, dentists, consultants, restaurants, marketers, banks, web designers, SEM and more.

What – What makes Agendize Click-to-Call unique is that visitor and business is connected in a high-quality phone conversation. We’re not Skype. You don’t communicate via a head set and computer.  Both parties connect from their mobile or landline phone so you can take the conversation to- go. By clicking an Agendize Call Me button, you eliminate the chance of joining a fuzzy connection and/or sudden bang- down.  

Where –A Call Me button can be installed on websites, blogs, e-mail campaigns, iPad apps…pretty much anywhere online. It takes minutes to get started.

When –Agendize powers valuable leads and sales via Click-To-Call 24/7. You define your business hours so clients don’t call you when you’re not there.

This should answer all your Click-to-Call queries. In case you have more, feel free to post them below or call us!