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.


What is Conversion According to the Pros?

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If you follow tech blogs, read Internet marketing reports or tweet regularly, you’ve probably come across the buzzword conversion. Conversion marketing, optimization and calculating conversion rates are growing discussions on the web today. Many of us know the right steps to generate and measure web traffic. The challenge now lies in persuading users to buy something when they visit. Converting visits to business is never easy unless you’re Apple. It can be especially difficult for SMBs and startups who are also working overtime on growing their brand.

As I scanned the Internet for resources on web conversion for a new LinkedIn Group, I realized that so many users aren’t sure what conversion means for marketing. I tweeted my concerns out to many. I asked for help on LinkedIn and Quora. Some expressed their confusion and others thought I was inquiring about web conversations instead. So why is  conversion buzzing around so much lately?  Without fully understanding what web conversion is, the chances of  creating a successful marketing strategy and choosing the right tools to increase conversions are slim.

Instead of speculating and adding more confusion to the pot, I decided to ask the “pros” what conversion means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Eric Tsai

Eric Tsai

@designdamage Malaysia

Web Strategist, Marketing Ninja, Author. Focus on Integrating Social Media, SEO, SEM & Content Marketing for Business ROI & BI. I work @WebMetro

http://designdamage.com

On his blog, Eric Tsai defines conversion as “an action a user takes on your site that has value to your business.” In a recent Twitter interview, he added that “conversion is an opportunity to help someone and to build a relationship with your brand.”

Tsai posted a set of equations to show how conversion rate can be calculated to discover marketing campaigns ROI:

Brian Massey

Brian Massey

@bmassey, Austin, TX

Conversion is the science of turning Web visitors into leads and sales. It also makes the Web more interesting.

http://ConversionScientist.com

 

Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist and author of a column on Conversion Science featured on Search Engine Land, was quick to lend me his expertise on conversion over LinkedIn:

”Advertising takes money out of your pocket. Conversion puts money in your pocket. Social media takes your time. Conversion pays you for that time. Clicks cost. Conversion pays. Where are you spending your time and money?”


Ian Lurie

@portentint, 47.567177,-122.38454

Internet Marketer. Author of http://www.conversationmarketing.com. I tweet marketing & news 5-8 times/day.

http://www.portent.com/

 

Ian Lurie, tweeted me back a short and sweet definition: “Conversion: What happens that lets the marketing team keep their jobs.”

“No one’s done a really good job of tying all the separate components of a successful Internet marketing strategy into a single package. Lots of people have created and thrown around phrases like ‘Web 2.0′ and ‘Social media’. But those phrases only make things more confusing.” So Lurie took initiative and started his website as a guide for good decision making.

 

Aaron Bradley

Aaron Bradley

@aaranged, Vancouver, B.C.

Search marketing consultant specializing in enterprise-level organic SEO. Semantic web stringer, compulsive categorizer. I like to cook!

http://www.seoskeptic.com/

 

Aaron Bradley often blogs about Conversion Rate Optimization on Search Engine Land.  He defines conversion in a few steps:

“What is conversion? What people often overlook in focusing on the noun is the meaning more apparent when in the verb form. When you convert a visitor, you have successfully transitioned them to one state to another.In the context of the web, the nature of this conversion is almost always converting a visitor from a passive state to an active state.  Browser to buyer. Reader to re-tweeter.Just in traditional constructions using convert, such as a religious conversion, or a convert to a cause, web conversion optimization focuses on the desired outcome, rather that the starting point. Success is not measured by what a visitor was doing before, but what you’ve persuaded that that visitor to do.So what is conversion? It is successfully persuading a visitor to take a desired action or sequence of actions that satisfies the fulfillment of a predefined goal.”

So next time you need to create or tweak an online marketing strategy, remember conversion first. What steps can you take to influence your visitors to make the next move? Conversion comes in all forms and sizes. Whether you’re looking to get more people to order your product, share your article or techniques on how to baptize a bear(?), there are many great resources and experts that can help.

Thanks Eric, Brian, Ian and Aaron for all your help!

Nancy E.


New Facebook app turns your fans into loyal customers

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If Facebook friends are real friends, then your Facebook customers are real too. Yes, ALL of them!

As a matter of fact, Facebook, blogs, Twitter and customer reviews are considered the most effective tactics for mobilizing consumers to talk up products online. (Etailing Survey of 117 companies, September ’09)

No matter what industry you’re in, developing your social media presence should be one of your company’s top online marketing priorities. On his blog, young tech entrepreneur, @stanleytang offers 41 Top Tips To Growing Your Social Media Presence. His advice: engage in conversations, be supportive, create a unique/professional profile and treat social media like a cocktail party!

After reading Stanley’s advice and listening to our users’ feedback, we decided to create a Facebook app that will develop any company’s social media presence by converting their visitors into loyal customers. The final product is our very first Facebook app, Online Scheduling with Agendize!

This app allows your Facebook fans to book appointments online with your company 24/7 in real-time, while reducing the numbers of no-shows with automatice and text message notifications. This way, your visitors don’t ever have to visit your webpage to contact you for a question, demo, interview, etc. They can do it all from Facebook where they spend most of their time anyway.

If you already have an Agendize account, it takes one click to add Online Scheduling to your company Facebook page. If you don’t already have one, sign up for Agendize in less than 5 minutes and get $5 in free actions.

Nancy E.


Why You Can’t Ignore Your Analytics

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What’s all this analytics talk about?

Remember the feeling of studying for a final high school or university exam? Drinking coffee and pulling all-nighters, so you can cram every bit of information into your brain. Imagine how you’d feel when you find out the next day that you weren’t going to receive a grade. Ever! You wouldn’t even have the chance to fail the class. It didn’t matter if you did your homework or not. Nothing would matter because the score will never exist. Psssssh… What a waste of time. I could’ve gone to that party and had the best night of my life, but instead I was drinking coffee and memorizing millions of slides!

Unfortunately, in the world we live in, the scenario above will probably never happen since we rely so heavily on numbers and stats. Look at yourself and see how many numbers describe you.

Our work and lives are valued by many systems of measurements and comparisons: older, younger taller, shorter, richer, bigger, smaller, heavier, better, faster, slower…

For the most part, numbers and stats serve as solid evidence that assure us if we’re on the right track. Especially in the online world where nothing is purely black and white. And understanding website revenues, exposure, traffic and audience can be pretty tricky at times.

At Agendize, we invested quite some time to make sure that every experience with our tools is never tricky, nor futile like studying for a test that will never get graded. What’s a conversion app if you have no way of testing and tracking your success?

With Agendize Analytics you access one powerful platform to see live analytics on actions, keywords and visitor traffic.  Agendize Analytics will bring more value to your online campaigns by helping you plan and reach your conversion goals. We made our analytics platform so easy to use and understand. Watch the screencast here.

Discover more about your online visitors

Analyze customer behavior and demographics with 24/7 live access to data such as: phone numbers, call times, email addresses, transcripts, keyword traffic, IP/geolocation, browser/operating system information to name  few. You can also add Google Analytics integration to centralize your campaign reporting so it’s easy to track all actions and conversion goals.

We hope our analytics brings more meaning to your work and campaigns. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We hope to learn from you too. Tell us how we can improve!

Nancy E.
@nanceEss


User Testimonial: Why Web Forms Don’t Convert

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Our Sales and Marketing Director, Flo shares her latest experience with an online form. Her frustration tells a common story: why forms are not ideal for converting customers.

You can’t get anything today without filling a form. As soon as you want to download a document, attend an event, subscribe to a simple newsletter or even ask someone for help—you’re forced to fill a form.

Frustration Factor 1. Too much to fill in.

Endless fields can turn your visitor off from visiting their website, attending the event or ever wanting to read a newsletter. I tried signing up for a webinar last week and I was asked to fill out 21 mandatory fields!

Advice: Keep your forms short and you’ll convert better. Read more on the @Marketo Blog.

2. Don’t get too personal.

Users rarely feel comfortable sending off their private info to an unknown receiver. I don’t know what you want to do with my personal data and you can at least warn me that you’re forcing me to subscribe to your newsletter. I wasn’t interested in the company that was hosting the webinar last week, yet they continue to bombard me with product and sales information. It took me 5 minutes to find the link to unsubscribe! Like most people, I’ll fill in fake name, email and more just to go through the steps as fast as possible.

Advice: Would you rather receive false data from a long form or real contacts from a shorter form? Get to the point right away.By removing an unnecessary form field, you’ll increase the likelihood that a visitor will fill out and submit the form,” writes SEO Consultant, Aaron Bradley (@aaranged).

3. Treat me like a human because I am one.

Why is it when I shop at a store, the cashier will usually ask me if I found everything I need and thank me for shopping there, but when I purchase and download a white paper online, I’m rarely thanked and often lost at the end? Companies are quick to bother me with automated links and ads, but rarely consider me a real shopper even when I’m spending real money.

Advice: Please make me feel like a real person too. Make it easy for me to ask you questions and most importantly, value my business. Adding a simple Call Me or Chat button at the end of your form can add the human touch element that’s often missing online.

-Flo

What’s the longest web form you were asked to fill out? Did you?  We’re interested in hearing your frustrating form story. Post your comments below.


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!


Track your Agendize actions in Google Analytics

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Great news: you can now track all of your Agendize actions in your Google Analytics account! In addition to being able to track the actions, you can configure the completed call, chat, appointment, form, save, share and comment actions as conversion goals, with each open of the dialog box being tracked as a step in the funnel to that goal.

Agendize Actions in Google Analytics

Setting it up

To get started on integrating your Agendize actions with your Google Analytics stats, you first need to get the Google Analytics ID for the website on which the Agendize buttons will be placed. To get this ID log in to Google Analytics, and choose the relevant account. On the list of Website Profiles, find the one belonging to the site in question, and copy the UA-XXXXXX-X number immediately to the right of that website’s URL. That is your Google Analytics ID.

Now, log in to your Agendize account and when creating or editing a button, you’ll notice a new block just below the Customization panel:

Setting up your Google Analytics ID

Check the “Enable Google Analytics Integration” box, and enter the Google Analytics ID you found earlier in the text field, save the button, and you’re done! Once the button code is copied to a page and a visitor starts using it, the activity will be tracked in Google Analytics.

How will my actions appear in Google Analytics?

Your Agendize actions will be sent to Google Analytics as pageviews on fictional pages. When a dialog box loads, “/agendize/<action type>/load” is sent, and when an action is completed (phone call is made, appointment is scheduled, etc.) “/agendize/<action type>/action” is sent.

Configuring Conversion Goals

Given the level of engagement enabled by the Agendize tools, it makes sense to include them as part of your site’s conversion goals. To do so, consult Google’s guide to setting up goals. When you get to step 8, choose “URL Destination”. The URL to enter then depends on which action type you’re looking to track. For a full list of URLs, see the table below.

Configuring Conversion Funnels

If you want to take it one step further and also track each dialog box open, you can add the open to your conversion funnel. To set up the funnel, refer to Google’s guide to defining funnels. On the second step, the URL to enter depends on which action type you’ll be tracking. See the table below for the full list of URLs.

 

Action Type Dialog Box Open URL Completed Action URL
Call me /agendize/call/load /agendize/call/action
Chat /agendize/chat/load /agendize/chat/action
Form /agendize/form/load /agendize/form/action
Schedule an Appointment /agendize/scheduling/load /agendize/scheduling/action
Send by SMS /agendize/sms/load /agendize/sms/action
Save to Calendar /agendize/pim/load /agendize/pim/action
Save to Address Book /agendize/pim/load /agendize/pim/action
Comment & Rate /agendize/testimonials/load /agendize/testimonials/action
Share /agendize/online/load /agendize/online/action
Send by Email /agendize/email/load /agendize/email/action
Save to Blog /agendize/blog/load /agendize/blog/action
Send by IM /agendize/im/load /agendize/im/action
Print /agendize/print/load /agendize/print/action
Combination Button /agendize/combo/load /agendize/combo/action
Save to GPS /agendize/gps/load /agendize/gps/action
Save to PDF /agendize/pdf/load /agendize/pdf/action

 

Questions?

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, get in touch on the forum!