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.


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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The Call to Action Trio

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Earlier this week, Agendize was featured on Sarah Shaw’s blog Entreprenette. She asked over 30 online businesses and entrepreneurs to share their call to action tips. The testimonials are great!

Since I only had a few lines to share Agendize’s call to action success, I decided to make some space on our blog to go more in depth. After seeing the big appetite online for call to action advice, I’ve added a third element to our tasty Call to Action Combo, transforming it into a delicious trio.

 

Hungry for conversions? Try this:

  1. Social Proof

According to Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, an action is considered more appropriate when we see others doing it. In online marketing, social proof keeps visitors browsing your site longer and converting through signups, clicks, shares, likes etc.

  1. Freebies

Offering your new customers free credit or a trial is a great way to prove the usefulness of your product or service. Freebies are also a great incentive to promote your brand on a large scale. People love to brag about the free stuff they got online. Add a Share button beside your offer so your customers can easily share it with their social networks.

  1. Conversion Tools

Ever think to link your call to action button to a real person? Adding a Live Chat or Click-to-Call button to you website can do just that. By making it easy (and free) for your customers to get in touch with your customer service team, you will reduce shopping cart abandonment, while increasing upsales and conversions.

Bon Appetite!

Nancy E.


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.