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11 Ways to Use Chatbots to Offer Better, Quicker Customer Service

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When customers have a question about your product or service, they want it answered quickly no matter the time of day. Few things are worse than having a problem or question, then needing to access a website and wait several minutes for the next live customer support member to arrive in your support chat area. The same is true with support ticket platforms or emails… it shouldn’t be such an issue to have customer support times of less than an hour, if not instant. Chatbots could be the answer to this demand for lightning-fast customer service, if they are used correctly.

With social media and on-site support leading the way for many companies, chatbots are a hot, modern way to take your business to the next level. They offer real-time customer service to an audience that needs it. But how can you actually leverage chatbots within your business?

To stay up with the latest trends and advancements in chatbot technology, we asked 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share the best ways to integrate a chatbot on your site, or what they’ve seen while browsing through the internet and visiting various other sites.

1. Automate Common Questions

Try to automate the most common questions you receive into the messenger/chatbot. The more you are able to provide people with direct information, the better. Still, though, you should try to provide them with a direct line of communication to a living person, should they need that urgently.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

2. Give Them Simple Tasks

Though chatbots are useful, they should be used to complement your current customer service team, not replace it. Chatbots are best used to answer basic, routine questions and prioritize customer inquiries. Then, they should pass the more complex customer service problems to real staff members. This not only creates a seamless workflow, but it allows human employees to do their jobs better.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

3. Start With Really Good Research

Look at voice search analysis in your category. Look at site search data. Talk with your call center. Do keyword research. You want to figure out what your customer’s most important questions are. When executed properly, you can automate a lot of answers as many of your customers’ most pressing questions are direct and simple to answer.

Dan Golden, BFO (Be Found Online)

4. Treat Customers Like Real People

Treating customers as real people rather than numbers is always going to drive loyalty and, therefore, sales. Designing an intuitive chatbot that is able to answer a few basic questions can go a long way toward upping customer retention. We recently took a deep dive into our onboarding process and noticed that far too many users were downloading the app, but not enough were completing the registration process. We found out the main questions users faced during the registration process and adjusted our chat feature and tutorial accordingly, to much success.

Zohar Steinberg, token payments

5. Test for Quality Assurance

If your chatbot can answer your FAQs in a fast, intelligent way, you are good to go. You want to encounter any irritating misunderstandings, which have made chatbots unpopular in some cases, before your customers do. At least the bots can be on call at all times. If nothing else, an automatic response telling customers when you are next available will prevent them from feeling they have been ignored.

Derek Broman, Discount Enterprises LLC

6. Refer Customers to Your Portfolio

Automate your response to have customers call your office. That way, you can personally close the deal. Have your automation hyperlink to your portfolio and services so that the prospective lead has a good understanding of what you provide. In the meantime, you can personally close on the phone.

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

7. Offer Human Contact

Despite popular belief, many customers actually like chatbots. If they’re programmed well and provide valuable information in a short period of time, chatbots can be a valuable tool for any business. However, the most important thing in this situation is that interacting with a chatbot is a choice made by the customer. Provide the option for human contact so they can choose.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

8. Preload the Chatbot With Questions

I like to preload the chatbot with questions so I know that moving the prospect from one stage of the funnel to another will be a breeze. Once I have an understanding of what questions most people are asking, I can use those as conversation starters to understand the new prospects. When you leave it open, prospects may not know which questions to ask. It’s better to leave it closed-ended.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

9. Acquire Email Addresses

Have your chatbot ask the visitor for their email address to be able to follow up and convert them into a customer. Make sure the script cross-references your existing customers to keep your email lists segmented. This will ensure that you don’t email existing customers first-time customer coupons or the like.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Analyze Data

One way to leverage chatbots to offer better customer service is to analyze the data gleaned from the conversation. You can use it to educate yourself on your customers’ habits and needs, and then integrate that data into business operations to improve customer service.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

11. Prioritize Customer Convenience

Chatbot technology has come a long way. For many businesses, it can be a way to better serve their customers. Improved service is the key. Though automating your business processes is usually a solid strategy, it can be tempting to take it too far. The primary goal is to give your customers the answers they need. It should be about their convenience, not only about streamlining or cutting costs.

Ismael Wrixen, FE International

Is Your Brand or Business Making the Most of AI, Automation, and Chatbots?

It’s only a matter of time before your business will need to start implementing these methods into it’s day to day operations. While you may not have made the plunge yet, it’s very likely that your competition has. Take a moment to visit your top competitors and see how they are using their websites, blogs, and social media to better engage with their audience and customers. Once you’ve found out what’s working well for them, be sure to consider these same options for your brand or online business.

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Affiliate Marketing

GDPR Rules, Fines and Compliance – What You Need to Know

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As most business people know, taking care of sensitive and personal data of customers is of the utmost importance. Failing to do this could see you getting on the wrong side of your customers and the wrong side of the law – and the penalties can be severe. In the past, the Data Protection Act has provided regulations and guidelines to help businesses to implement data protection policies. However, this is now changing with the introduction of the GDPR.

How will this affect your current business and email marketing efforts?

The biggest question is always what needs to be done next to make sure you are compliant. iContact answers this easy enough with the following statement from the site:

The good news is, if you are already following email marketing best practices and asking your subscribers for permission to join your email lists via a subscription form on your website or requiring the subscriber to tick a box on your ecommerce site (and you can prove this ), you are well on your way to GDPR compliance.

Just like CAN-SPAM came out several years ago, and caused a big fuss, GDPR will likely do the same but everyone (and all of the major solution providers) will make compliance process quite simple and direct.

In order to ensure you do not end up being penalized as a result of failing to implement these new regulations properly, it is important to keep up with the latest developments. Businesses that do not follow these new regulations, which are due to come into play within a matter of weeks, could find themselves facing serious consequences. These regulations are all linked to how data is handled by businesses and it is important for all businesses, large and small, to get to grips with them.

Just like any new laws and regulations that are about to go into place, they have some hefty fines lined up for anyone looking to be made an example of. Imperva has a nice write-up and infographic on the new laws, and their associated fines as well. As you will see from the infographic below, the fines associated with the GDPR are quite high… with maximum fines hitting the $22 million range! In short, prepare your business now, or pay the price later on!

Fortunately, the government has already put a lot of information online about the GDPR, so those with lack of understanding can make sure they do their research to find out what needs to be done. Furthermore, specialist experts from specific industries are being taken on so that businesses can turn to someone with expertise in their specific industry in order to ensure they are following the new regulations to the letter.

One thing to remember is that your business does not have to be located within the EU in order to be tied to these regulations. The regulations also apply to businesses that are not in the EU but that sell products and services to others that are in the EU. Therefore, make sure you do not ignore these regulations just because of the location of your business, as you may find that they also apply to you because of the location of your customers.

How to Prepare for the GDPR Going Live on May 25th, 2018

As fun as it is to read up on all of these new laws and legal jargon, it’s much more exciting to watch a short video that breaks it all down. Not only will you learn more about what GDPR is, but you will also discover eleven things you need to make sure you have in place before May 25th hits and the law goes into effect.

An even better and more detailed resource on how to keep your business safe and compliant is this Forbes article on how the GDPR will affect advertising and e-commerce. With nearly all websites, blogs, and online businesses collecting emails, data, or placing cookies on their visitor’s computers, this is something we all need to be aware of.

How to Stay Up to Date with the Latest GDPR News

Since the new regulations are only just coming in, there may be some teething problems to begin with. This means that there is a chance there could be some changes and adaptations to begin with. In order to ensure you continue to implement the regulations properly, you should keep on top of any chances and developments. You can also hire the services of experts to help you get to grips with the GDPR as well as to help keep you informed as and when any changes are made.

With the introduction of the new regulations, all countries within the EU can benefit from the same data protection laws, which can help to make things much fairer and far easier to understand. Having different sets of rules from one EU country to another could be confusing and frustrating for both customers and businesses. Experts believe that these new regulations will help make things far easier to manage and understand as well as ensuring fairness across all EU countries.

However… only time will tell, and it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out after GDPR goes into affect.

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Industry News

SearchAppNetwork – Online Advertising Trends You Need to Know Now

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Tracking and measuring ad performance is more important than ever and a number of companies are helping advertisers with reporting, analytics and measurement. New York-based SearchAppNetwork helps adMarketplace and Bing provide metrics on mobile app ad performance. Mobile app publishers do not have traditional URLs, which makes standard methods of reporting, tracking, and analytics difficult.

To address this issue, adMarketplace created SearchAppNetwork. Every time a Bing advertiser receives a click from a mobile app search ad in the adMarketplace publisher network, adMarketplace creates a URL for Bing advertisers to track performance in the Bing Ads Reporting UI.

For example, 2016 elections and Copa America in the US, UEFA Football in Europe, Summer Olympics in Brazil garnered incremental advertising spending opportunities, which improved media owner ad revenues in comparison to 2015 (when none of the above-mentioned events took place). MAGNA, a company that develops intelligence, investment and innovation strategies for agency teams and clients, suggests that 2016 events accounted for 1% of extra growth.

This article examines 2016’s global advertising activity in various countries and spheres with a look ahead to spot future advertising trends.
2016 ad growth was primarily stemmed from digital ad sales (which increased by 17%) whereas offline media ad sales (these channels include: linear TV, print, radio, and out-of-home) were relatively flat as they increased by 0.3%. If it wasn’t for the cumulative cyclical spending, which benefits mainly television, offline media sales would have slumped by roughly 2.0%, corresponding to 2015’s figures.

Likewise, when looking back at 2016, global net media owners advertising revenues increased by 5.7% to $493 billion (this is a 4.0% increase from in 2015). 2016 was the year that experienced the strongest growth since 2010 (which exhibited a post-recession recovery of 8.8% increase). In 2017, most of the growth emanated from North America as the US market (accounting for 37% of global ad dollars) reported its most prosperous growth rate in 12 years where growth decreased in several emerging regions. Such emerging regions include: Central and Eastern Europe (with a 6.0% increase), Latin America (with a 5.5% increase), Asia-Pacific (with a 5.3% increase) and Western Europe (with a 3.9% increase).

The following are key stats were presented in the Global Advertising Forecast Report 2016:

  • 63 markets experienced advertising growth this year and only seven (most notably Thailand) saw a decrease.• The highest growth rate was recorded in Egypt and the Philippines (both 17%). Among the top 20 markets, the fastest-growing country remains India (+14%) followed this year by a recovering Russia (+8.8%).
  • The 17% growth in digital ad sales are entirely driven by mobile advertising (+47%), while desktop-based ad sales stagnated (0%) in 2016 and actually shrank in many markets. Mobile advertising accounts for 45% of total digital ads by the end of 2016 and will account for 52% by the end of 2017.
  • Digital growth was driven by video formats (+35%) and social formats (+43%) while search remains the largest digital media format (+14% to 17.5 billion – 45% of total digital advertising) and banner ad sales declined (-5%).
  • North America remains the largest market, growing +6.7% to $191 billion; it is projected to slow down to just +1.8% in 2017.
  • Western European markets grew by nearly +4% for the third year in a row, to reach $100 billion. However, growth was significantly lower in the second half and we expect 2017 sales to slow down to +2.4%. Central and Eastern European ad sales increased by +6.0% to $16 billion, as the Russian market recovered.
  • Asia-Pacific media sales reached $148 billion (+5.3%) while recession-stricken Latin America managed to grow by 5.5%, thanks in part to the Brazil Olympics.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018 and beyond, according to a recent report by Zenith, online advertisers are expected to outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion this year. That means 40 percent of the world’s ad spending is expected to take place online in 2018, with social media ad spending is estimated to rise 21 percent to $58 billion while video ad spending is rising 19 percent to $32 billion in 2018.

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Industry News

ClickConfirmation and Global Ad Investment Trends and Forecasts for 2018

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A new report from Juniper Research has found that advertisers will lose an estimated $19 billion in fraudulent activities next year, equivalent to $51 million per day. This figure, representing advertising on online and mobile devices, will continue to rise, reaching $44 billion by 2022. With billions of dollars up for grabs in the loss department, there is a whole world of opportunity and money to be made in the fraud prevention space as well.

Whether you are an affiliate marketer, running an online e-commerce site, or simply accepting credit cards for anything… your business and its reputation are currently on the line. With so much focus on data leads and fraudulent activity as of lately, for most brands, it’s not a question of if and how such attacks and payment fraud might take place — it’s more of a question of when.

The good news is that there are plenty of precautions and security solutions in place to help weed out obvious or weak spots within a business and how they manage and collect user data. One such solution is ClickConfirmation, which provides traffic verification services for online advertisers and publishers. Its services help strengthen the online advertising ecosystem by flagging, vetting, and filtering suspicious traffic. This helps increase advertiser ROI and publisher transparency. ClickConfirmation creates a more secure and transparent digital advertising experience by helping advertisers and publishers differentiate between human and bot traffic.

However, it’s not enough to simply sign up for a service and consider your business or brand safe. You also need to stay updated with the latest trends, security updates, and also keeping an eye on how other businesses around the world are protecting themselves in the process.

This is exactly what we will be looking at today, while also covering some of the recent trends and forecasts for 2018 in digital marketing, television advertising and how Google, Amazon, and Facebook continue to change everything.

Online advertising and traffic verification are more important than ever as advertising grows globally.

In 2018, the U.S., China, Argentina, Japan, India, and the U.K are anticipated to cumulatively drive 68% of incremental ad investment. In this post, we explore global media channels’ ad investment activity in the past years, trends and forecasts according to various countries — all of which makes for a great follow up to our recent affiliate marketing in Asia article.

According to a Global Advertising Forecast Report by GroupM, the media investment group of WPP, 2016’s growth was primarily stemmed from digital ad sales (which increased by 17%) whereas offline media ad sales (these channels include: linear TV, print, radio, and out-of-home) were relatively flat as they increased by 0.3%. If it wasn’t for the cumulative cyclical spending, which benefits mainly television, offline media sales would have slumped by roughly 2.0%, corresponding to 2015’s figures.

  • TV to Lose One Point of Share Per Year in 2017 and 2018
  • Google and Facebook to Win 186% of Incremental Digital Investment in 2017

Likewise, when looking back at 2016, global net media owners advertising revenues increased by 5.7% to $493 billion (this is a 4.0% increase from in 2015). 2016 was the year that experienced the strongest growth since 2010 (which exhibited a post-recession recovery of 8.8% increase). In 2017, most of the growth emanated from North America as the US market (accounting for 37% of global ad dollars) reported its most prosperous growth rate in 12 years where growth decreased in several emerging regions. Such emerging regions include: Central and Eastern Europe (with a 6.0% increase), Latin America (with a 5.5% increase), Asia-Pacific (with a 5.3% increase) and Western Europe (with a 3.9% increase).

Television

Investment in television will globally grow by 0.4% in 2017 and 2.2% in 2018; with that said, TV will lose one share point this year and an additional one in 2018. The television medium in China is showing signs of a slow down as they recently disclosed that TV is growing 3% this year and 4% in 2018, with share stable (41%). According to GroupM (the media investment group of WPP),“we know that time spent with TV content remains healthy, but monetizing those hours gets harder as audiences diffuse across platforms more quickly than the industry can create measurement solutions”.

Digital

Overall digital investment growth is expected to reach 11.5% in 2017 and 11.3% next year. Moreover, its share is anticipated to increase from 34.1% this year to 36.4% in 2018. With that said, the digital channel growth (excluding China) is showing signs of a slowdown (10.6% in 2017 and 10.5% in 2018), however GroupM believes digital investment will exceed traditional TV in seventeen markets by year’s end in Australia, Canada, Denmark, China, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, NewZealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the U.K. GroupM also expects digital investment will surpass TV in the U.S. by 2020.

Google, Facebook, and Amazon

Towards the end of Q3 of 2017, Google reported ad revenues of $24B while Facebook reported $10B.

GroupM suggests that Facebook and Google will account for 84% of all digital investment in 2017 (excluding China). Similarly, these two organizations will account for a whopping 186% of digital growth in 2017. This is an exceptionally dangerous environment for other the digital publishers in the industry. Not to mention that Amazon is also on its way to becoming one of the leaders in the digital ad investment field. This is because Amazon’s on-platform search and display advertising along with their off-platform advertising revenues are somewhere in the low single-digit billions.

So what does this mean for affiliate marketers and entrepreneurs?

In the big scheme of things… not much. As usual, affiliate marketers and sole-entrepreneurs will continue to adapt and change their business models to cater to the movements and world around them. In most cases, many businesses and brands have already made the transition from TV to the internet, which is no surprise.

The bigger question is how well Google, Facebook, and Amazon continue to not only change the way we use and buy things online but also how they can monopolize the industry and single-handedly influence and change advertising or their own rules at any given time.

No matter what industry you might be focused on, fraud is always going to play a factor. As long as you continue to stay ahead of the latest trends and always make sure your customer data is safe, you will rest easy at night. It’s might better to have the necessary precautions in place beforehand than to try and clean up the mess after something has already happened.

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