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?
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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7 Ideas and Benefits for Using Machine Learning for Your Business
Machine learning technology has made major advances in the last decade.
Highly adaptable new AI is changing the way businesses make decisions.
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Aside from the smart technology you might be seeing and using today, there are plenty of new and creative technology innovations making waves daily. Everything from smart chatbots, software creation, customer support, and diagnosing business and marketing trends — all with the sole purpose of accomplishing more, and removing the ‘human’ aspect and cost from the business.
These advancements in technology are allowing business to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and automate processes that previously required employees — and sometimes included weeks or months of additional training before actively taking on a new job. Machine learning also removes high-cost areas for business, such as employee insurance, human resources, and office space.
We’ve put together a list of the top seven benefits of machine learning to show you how your business can use AI.
1. Replaces Manual Data Entry
Filling out standard forms is an important rote task companies must complete. Small business AI is able to instantly fill them out with a high degree of accuracy.
This saves you money on data entry clerks and speeds things up. Data entry will always be needed, making it an automated process is a great way to upgrade.
2. Detects Spam
Small business owners have a lot of hats to fill. Wasting time sorting useless emails from important ones shouldn’t be one of them.
Machine learning tools are great at filtering out previously identified spam emails. They can also use context cues to block new ones.
3. Improve Cyber Security
Machine learning is tailor-made for identifying patterns. When properly directed they can process huge amounts of information and find commonalities between network intrusions.
This makes it easier to prevent them in the future. You can also use AI to help develop new strategies for defending against attacks.
4. Upgrade Your Customer Service
One of the best ways you can use AI for small business is to improve your responsiveness to customer needs. Machine learning algorithms can analyze past interactions and help you better understand what they want.
Not only does this keep your customers happy, but it also lowers your cost to do so. It can make suggestions about their future needs and help you cross-sell other products to them.
5. Analyze Your Financials
Major accounting teams are expensive and take a long time to run through things. Identifying fraud requires a line by line examination of thousands of transactions.
Machine learning tools can quickly scan massive volumes of transactions. It eliminates much of the grunt work involved and lets specialists focus on possible incidents. When properly calibrated it can even predict situations that will create a high potential for fraud.
6. Identify Existing Tools
One of the most interesting features of machine learning systems is their ability to make recommendations. They can process your existing business needs and identify other tools that will help you.
These can include financial tools, databasing tools, and many others.
7. Benefits of Machine Learning Education
If you want to experience all the benefits of AI in your business you have to properly train your staff. Just having data is nothing if you can’t process it.
Make sure your analyst works to learn more about using machine learning tools. This allows them to pick out the best tools available and customize things for your needs.
Leverage Your Existing Assets
The benefits of machine learning speak for themselves. AI can save you money, streamline your operations, and help with your marketing efforts. Make sure your competition doesn’t leave you behind.
If you liked what you saw here, read some of our other articles on entrepreneurship and business planning
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5 of the Top Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019
There has never been a more challenging, or more exciting time to be in Digital Marketing. This industry is going through a transformation at breakneck speed driven mostly by technological advancement, innovation and disruption. This transformation is creating copious opportunities for those who are able to keep up. However, coping up with this transformation while still paying attention to the current business can be a struggle for the digital marketers. It’s a new reality we must adapt to. We have to accept that in the world of digital advertising, change is the only true constant. And only way to get ahead of the curve and stay on top of the changes is to understand the digital marketing trends.
Let’s explore 5 Digital Marketing trends to watch in 2019.
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#1 – Voice Assistant
Amazon Echo, an Alexa-enabled speaker, kicked off the smart speaker trend a few years ago. Today, not only Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, other tech giants and startups are developing, testing, and implementing voice assistants. The global market for these devices grew 187% in the second quarter of 2018. But what does it mean for you, the Digital Marketer? Voice-enabled apps are going to be a prevalent part of consumers’ lives, changing the way brands and consumers interact. That’s why your brand needs a voice strategy now. As more and more people invite assistive technology into their lives and integrate it into their homes, it’s high time Digital Marketers embraced the opportunity to capitalize the trends. If you are still not convinced, brands like Domino’s Pizza, Patron Tequila, Ocado, Whirlpool, Paypal, Burger King, Johnnie Walker and Uber have already started leveraging the voice assistant technology.
#2 – Shorter Video Ads
Social media’s focus has been slowly morphing from images to video. With digital video viewing on the rise, consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices due to ease of access and a rise in internet speeds. However, attention is changing in the digital age. According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. And a recent research done by Nielsen reveals that 23% of brand awareness, 38% of brand recall, and 25% of purchase intent is driven by video impressions shorter than 2 seconds. That’s why Facebook now recently said “mobile video works best when it’s 15 seconds or less.” Facebook has already been telling its video advertisers to hit people with faster messages. On the other hand, YouTube has become a commercial advertising powerhouse in recent years. In 2016, YouTube unveiled a new ad format to brands: the unskippable, six second “bumper” ad. The ad format, which gained in popularity in the latter half of 2017, now accounts for 2.8% of all video ads, up from only 0.4% in Q1 of 2017.
The beauty of the six-second pre-roll ad is that it engages viewers without testing their patience. And the popularity of shorter video ads is expected to continue in 2019 as well. But the challenge is that you have to ensure that your campaign meet Estimated Ad Recall Rate. So, you must understand how does human brain process and preserve information. For an example, if you ask any Marvel fan to list marvel characters and their powers, most of them can do it within a few minutes. But if you ask them who the Marvel Comics’ primary creative leader is, they might get lost. Interestingly, this is only true before 12 November, 2018. When Stan Lee died on 12th November, 2018 at the age of 95, according to deadorkicking.com, almost every marvel fan mourned the loss of this man known for creating superheroes such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and X-Men. Fans have emerged on social media to share tributes about how his characters helped to shape their childhood. Now they know the name! As a digital marketer you have to deal with this Mystery of Memory.
#3 – Programmatic Marketing
The last few years was all about the technology, programmatic, and automation. Digital Marketers are constantly looking for mechanism that enables them to run more sophisticated and targeted campaigns. Here comes Programmatic buying, the next big thing in Digital Media. Programmatic advertising optimizes demand and supply by targeting specific audiences and demographics. To reach consumers, digital marketers increasingly rely on programmatic marketing to deliver highly contextual, effective, and measurable ads. The programmatic revolution has focused on combining data, machine learning, and automation to boost customer engagement by delivering more relevant ad experiences. Google suggests a 5-step process to strategize and execute any programmatic marketing campaign: organizing audience insights, designing compelling creative, executing with integrated technology, reaching audiences across screens and measuring the impact.
Organizing audience insights
Organizing audience insights and using customer data effectively is the key to success in digital marketing. Without data-driven, well organized audience insights, brands are in the dark. That’s why customer centric marketers use all kinds of tools to get a better understanding of their customers.
Designing compelling creative
Creative elements form the foundation of your digital marketing efforts. Today’s users move frequently between devices and platforms and expect a seamless, engaging and entertaining experience. Compelling yet relevant creative is the key to capture their attention.
Executing with integrated technology
Integrated technology platforms enable companies to deliver brand messages through programmatic buying in an efficient way. One of the most important benefits of using Integrated technology platform is that it helps brands evaluate, purchase, activate, and measure media efficiently. This is also one of the most talked about digital marketing trends of 2019.
Reaching audiences across screens
Cross-screen engagement is consumer engagement across a variety of screens, often simultaneously. Certainly multi-screen targeting is easier said than done. There are more screens to compete with today than ever before and it can be difficult to optimize content. They beauty of programmatic marketing is that it creates real opportunity to develop unified digital creative experiences across all screens.
Measuring the impact
You can’t manage what you can’t measure and digital media have been called ‘the most measurable ever’. Knowing how to measure the success of your digital marketing campaigns will save you from a lot of stress down the road. Digital Marketers have been using various tools and platforms to evaluate their campaign success and optimize existing ones when needed. Programmatic buying and integrated platforms have brought new levels of speed and more efficient way to measure your campaign results.
#4 – Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is not new and niche anymore. However, the landscape has evolved quite a bit over the past few years. Use of Influencer marketing in digital arena is recently getting the momentum. In 2017, brands spent over $1 billion dollars on influencer marketing on Instagram alone. It continued to grow this year and 2018 has been a huge year for influencer marketing. Predictions for are 2019 will be no different. With self-educating buyers increasingly relying on friends, family and other trusted sources as they weigh their purchase options, more and more digital marketers are harnessing the power of influencer marketing. Now let’s explore the most effective digital marketing platforms for Influencer Marketing.
Instagram is predominantly the most used marketing channel for Influencer Marketing. This will continue in 2019 as well. You may wonder – why Instagram? It’s attention span again! Even though the platform has a much smaller audience than its parent Facebook, Instagram users are much more engaged. That’s why Digital Marketers around the globe find it the most effective as a platform for Influential Marketing. And don’t forget that Instagram is currently the second most popular social media network in the world, next to Facebook, and digital marketers are falling more in love with the platform. Another reason Digital Marketers prefer Instagram over any other social media is that celebrities themselves prefer using Instagram than other media.
Another great platform for Influencer Marketing is Facebook. Influencer marketing on Facebook is becoming increasingly popular with brands as organic reach on the platform declines. In July, 2018 Facebook acknowledged the importance of influencer marketing on the future sustainability of the platform itself. Facebook let’s Digital Marketers find Influencers who can reach their target audience in an authentic way, while offering these influencers a path to monetizing their Facebook content and fan base.
According to a Bloglovin study, Facebook is the second most preferred platform among influencers themselves. So the time to engage with Facebook influencers is now, and don’t delay. In 2019, “connect” with your influencers and get to creating “meaningful interactions” pronto.
#5 – Immersive content
In recent years, increased competition and clutter on digital media have caused the entire landscape to change drastically for anyone using it to promote their products or services. That’s why providing an experience is not enough to stand out. Now is the time to get one step further and provide your target audience with an immersive experience. That’s why Digital Marketers have been exploring the technologies they can add to their creative armory and examine what value these technology can add to the immersive contents they create. A new research done by Kaizen indicates that immersive contents developed using augmented and virtual reality will make up a large proportion of content marketing in 2019. Let’s demystify them.
AR allows digital marketers to transform a static object, such as a newspaper advertisement or hard-copy magazine cover into an immersive 3 dimensional experience and make it more engaging for their target audiences. However, not only is AR advertising more engaging, it comes with increased capability of meeting the specific needs of today’s consumer.
On the other hand, almost 75% of the biggest brands in the world have integrated VR, an immersive form of digital entertainment, into their marketing strategy to date. Though the gaming industry has been completely revolutionized with the emergence of virtual reality, the future of virtual reality as a tool for digital marketing seems a bit uncertain. One of the main reasons is that it requires a head-mounted display which makes it much harder to reach potential customers.
The move into 2019 also comes with a shift in digital marketing. The New Year is full of new opportunities to tap into trends, find what your audience is looking for, and explore unexpected ways to reach new people.
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What Every Business Owner Needs to Know About Cloud Computing Management
Cloud computing is the future. In fact, it’s already here! Millions of people depend on cloud computing technologies to back up their important data. Big data is the force that is driving this need, and it looks to be a technology that will be with us for a very long time.
Everyone from beginning online business owners to multi-million dollar corporations need to utilize cloud computing technology. The reason so many people rely on this technology is that you cannot afford to rely on only one storage method such as one computer or an external drive. If these drives or computers crash, you will lose all of your essential data.
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For business owners, it is even more important to have this kind of backup. When you are an online site owner or manager, you are not only responsible for your data. You are also responsible for your customers’ data. This creates more liability for you and can make you suffer a loss of credibility if the data is compromised.
From Device to the Cloud
Cloud computing involves more than just managing and maintaining the data in the cloud. It also involves the data that is on your mobile devices or desktop computers and servers. Companies need to know what is coming in and going out of these devices as they are legally responsible for the security of this data as well.
For the site manager or business owner, this becomes a bigger challenge since so many people are responsible for their devices. This makes the task of monitoring what each is doing on their devices almost impossible.
This makes it necessary to put a platform and solution in place that will allow for cloud management across the various devices and platforms to avoid lack of consistency and functionality. At the same time, you must ensure that it is safe and that your networks are secure.
Too Many Devices, So Little Time
Another important challenge that online business owners face today is that employees, business partners, collaborators, and others involved in projects with your company all want to maintain the control they have over their devices. They also tend to utilize a large number of devices due to other needs or interests they have that involve their specific job titles or responsibilities.
This means you have to allow for variation in platforms, device types, and integration of a multitude of devices to keep the flow of information going and keep projects coordinated.
This puts a pretty large burden on the IT department since they are still responsible for many of the issues across multiple devices in which they are all connected to a centralized server. The IT provider must handle the individual issues on the devices as well as the data in the cloud and the software and hardware issues.
Colocation of Services
Today, with the help of “the cloud,” and other services, workers and project collaborators can log into a central server from the device of their choice and collaborate on a wide variety of projects and activities no matter where they are. This increases accessibility as well as productivity and workflow. However, you will need to update some software manually for each device to be in compliance with software licenses and to tweak individual devices to work correctly.
Tools in the Cloud
Just as much of the work we now do as business owners is “in the cloud” these days, so are the tools that we need to increase our efficiency and productivity levels. Gone are the days of needing to download or install software based on the different computers or laptops you might have. We are now in the next phase of website and data hosting and storing important data in the cloud. With all of this in mind, it’s important to be able to access such tools due to the need to keep software updated on all devices that are connected to the cloud.
If you can set up platforms that allow you to disperse critical software and security patches and updates from the cloud to all devices on the network, you will save yourself a lot of headaches in the IT and security department by avoiding having to install them manually.
When you work on things “from the cloud,” you are working remotely. This means a lot of added convenience for collaborators and managers, but it also requires more coordination and logistics management so that all systems are working properly across the board.
Smart AI Technology
One thing about cloud computing is that is it heavily immersed in AI. Companies such as nVidia.com and others have had a sudden rise in stock lately. This is because investors realize they are offering many more AI solutions to the technology world than other companies are doing. This includes cloud computing and big data management.
The smarter the technology gets in the future, the fewer business owners will have to do manually. Self-learning AI programs can correct problems as they go and even develop new solutions, rather than having to have engineers continuously check on how they are doing and ensuring that the data is safe.
With this innovation also comes more automation and less worry for the cloud computing IT manager as well as the business owner.
Storage Solutions in the Cloud
Cloud storage is one of the most important aspects of cloud computing. You can store mind-boggling amounts of data in the cloud which allows you to expand on your potential as a business owner in ways never before imagined. If you are a digital media producer, you can create endless videos, podcasts, and other digital assets and upload them to cloud storage without the worry of running out of space.
With so much storage available on most drives such as Google Drive, DropBox, and others, one wonders if someday we will all have illimitable space open. Google Drive allows you to purchase 2 TB of space for only $9.99 per month. This gives you an idea of just how cheap the cloud is when you need more space for storage.
Cloud management platforms like Cloud Management Suite understand the importance of having a cloud computing system in place. For example, Cloud Management Suite offers a wide variety of cloud services from security to data management. It’s primary features include patch tracking, remote control, software distribution, inventory discovery and history & reporting. With businesses relying on the cloud, it’s important to not only provide a cloud based solution, but also one that can scale and grow based on the needs of the end user.
The same holds true with other solutions, as it’s always important to offer excellent business phone services with a multitude of services that you can use for your business. All of this is in place, while also taking advantage of cloud computing, and catering to the end needs of the client.
Why use cloud storage?
Any online business (or offline business who needs storage solutions) should consider utilizing cloud storage today. The benefits are too numerous to mention. But basically, you’ll be covered if something happens and you lose your data or important projects on a physical drive or computer.
You don’t have to worry about system crashes or computer malfunction eating your data. If you have ever mourned the loss of files that you thought you would never retrieve, you can understand the need for cloud storage. If you lose your data on your physical drives, all you have to do is go “to the cloud” to retrieve and replace them.
As a business owner, this also increases your credibility and integrity with clients when you tell them you have cloud storage because they know that their data will never truly be lost.
Some companies that set up an “emergency plan” for loss due to fire, floods, or other natural disasters even include a cloud-based storage system as one of the factors in securing their business and often report this to insurance companies to get their rates down.
This shows the importance of using cloud storage to keep your data safe.
Grow Your Business with Cloud Computing
Additionally, you need cloud storage to grow and maintain your business. You never know how large your online company may grow over the years. Having cloud computer storage allows you to grow and expand to whatever level you can handle as you increase your storage space and online collaboration capabilities “in the cloud.”
When you depend on cloud storage as well as your offline tools, you have more security in what you do, and you can feel free to focus on your goals within your business and less worrying time about your security issues and loss of data. To learn more about each of these concepts and how cloud computing can improve your business, download this free ebook on the top ten security tips for IT managers.
Using cloud computing solutions also allows you to cut down on the amount of money you have to dedicate to your business infrastructure and on-site or in-house maintenance. Upgrades are often done automatically, and you can “set it and forget it.”
Cloud storage and computing options also allow you to put your business on automation in many ways while using the remote tools and accessibility that is necessary to expand without the worry of logistics.
Cloud computing is still a relatively new innovation that allows you to work from anywhere, have full access to your data, and keep your clients’ important data secure. Managing your cloud computing network is not difficult, but it helps to have tools that help you organize everything.
No matter what type of business or brand you are running, there are always going to be ways to make improvements and have better control over your customer data and day to day operation. Cloud computing can help you get there.
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