495 Digital

Chatbots: All Hype or Truly Revolutionary?

Facebook has changed the digital marketing world in so many ways. Apart from its robust advertising platform that allows businesses to target their ideal customer base within specific geographic and demographic parameters, one otherwise-overlooked feature is also gaining traction: Facebook Messenger.

Though normally reserved for personal communications, companies have started to develop chatbots to act as virtual assistants, sales personnel, or even just as an extra set of hands to perform tedious tasks. And lest you think this is some kind of marketing gimmick, data suggests that they’re incredibly efficient. JP Morgan Chase, for example, was able to eliminate over 350,000 hours of tedious review time simply by employing bots in their business.

What Are Chatbots?

Simply put, chatbots are automated messaging systems that mimic human conversations through a pre-programmed set of cues and responses. They can be deployed through a medium like Facebook messenger or act as a virtual customer service agent on a website. They’re non-invasive, somewhat-personal, and highly efficient in taking customers through a variety of sales funnels.

Despite their apparent simplicity, chatbots are highly intelligent, taking the information that is given to them by the customer and processing it quickly to move them to the proper department or make appropriate suggestions. They can even provide customer service; If a user has a problem with a product, the chatbot can guide them through a how-to of how to fix the issue at hand.

What Benefits Do Chatbots Offer Businesses?

The benefits to automating various parts of your business is already well-known, but chatbots allow a level of efficiency that makes it a step above.

  • Save Money: Though you could hire a developer to create a chatbot for you (which is much less expensive than it used to be), there are also a host of software solutions that can create them for you.
  • Automate Processes: Everything that can be automated should in a bid to save time, and chatbots help with that process tremendously. They can handle hundreds of different requests at one time, instead of paying an entire customer service department to do the same thing.
  • Room to Grow: One of the best things about chatbots is they don’t overwhelm the user with a myriad of different services, but they also have the potential to do so much more than what they’re currently used for. Once you have them set up and your customers are used to them, you’ll be able to add functionality at will.

What are the Common Types of Chatbots?

There are generally two types of chatbots: simple and complex. Simple chatbots follow a pre-programmed script and very rarely deviate from it, while complex chatbots have the ability to learn from each conversation and develop better responses for future customers. It’s not as sophisticated as some artificial intelligence systems, but it’s far superior to a simple script-based chatbot.

Beyond this, chatbots can also speak to an individual user in a one-on-one conversation or respond to an entire team that is communicating with the chatbots. Moreover, some chatbots are also domain-specific, and can provide a user with unprompted promotional materials or help them navigate the website.

Regardless of what chatbots are used for, there’s no doubting their necessity, both now and in the future. How they’re employed will continue to evolve, but they provide a level of revenue-generating functionality that far surpasses a number of other endeavors.

Jaw Dropping Stats That Will Make You Want to Take a Second Look at Pinterest

One of the best ways for brands to expand their consumer bases is through digital marketing, and while most people think of such online marketing in relation to major social networks like Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest is actually an exceptionally valuable tool for marketing.

Stats on Pinterest

Not only can individuals create accounts with Pinterest, but businesses can as well. There are a wide number of positive statistics that show why Pinterest is such a powerhouse in the marketing world.

  • 176 million registered profiles
  • 42% of the US adult women use Pinterest
  • 150 million active users
  • 80 million active monthly users from outside the US
  • 84% people on Pinterest use the website across multiple devices
  • 72% people on Pinterest use this platform to determine what to buy offline
  • 85% of users are women
  • 70 million active monthly users from the US
  • 87% Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest
  • 83% users would rather follow a brand or company than a celebrity
  • 75 billion pins
  • 70% of sales due to promoted pins are from new customers
  • 55% shoppers claim Pinterest is their favorite social media platform

Below are a few reasons why Pinterest is so effective as a marketing tool.

Conversion Rates

When a viewer on the Pinterest platform sees your work, it is far easier for them to be converted into a customer than it is through other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. You’d have to pay for a higher tier of advertising on those platforms in order to get the same sort of visibility.

Higher Traffic

Any business that relies heavily on internet-based sales wants to receive as much traffic as possible for the highest possible revenues. Pinterest is good at generating this sort of traffic around your site thanks to the way it links everything together.

The Power of Micro-Influencers

If you’ve never heard of micro-influencers, be prepared to hear more about them in the future. This idea is that a customer for a brand that has a lot of influence in the online sphere can actually promote the brand to their followers. Since Pinterest is more of a visual search engine than a social network, micro-influencers can create permanent viral content easily.

Infinite Pins

There is no news feed in Pinterest that favors newer content over older. It works based on searches and the discovery method, so Pins that were created years ago are just as relevant as those created today. This means you don’t have to worry about updating your page with new content just to avoid blending into the background.

Greater Inbound Linking

Linking is one of the linchpins of digital marketing, and Pinterest is one of the easiest platforms to use effective backlinks. Each Pin you post will include a link to the source from which the content was originally gleaned. As a business, this means that every piece of content you produce will be easily accessible by those searching for such content through re-Pins.

Macro-Influencers

Pinterest is useable as a micro-influencer and macro-influencer platform at the same time. Macro-influencers include those who are exceptionally prominent in both the online and real-world realms, like celebrities or politicians.

Conclusion

Pinterest is exceptionally valuable as a social media network and as a marketing tool because of the way it’s different from other such platforms. By properly using Pinterest, you can put your brand or service in front of a large audience seeking exactly what you offer.

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Digital Marketing – 8 Signs You’re Doing It Wrong

Digital marketing. It’s a vital component of survivability in today’s age. As marketers ourselves, we’ve seen the mega shift that has occurred in the way that companies are  now able to promote and advertise themselves, and engage with audiences across Internet platforms.

We also see on the horizon the rise of even more digital marketing technologies that will change the entire marketing landscape once more.

But do you know what’s so frustrating?

Many business leaders still don’t get it. They don’t want to invest in digital marketing — either because they don’t understand it, or they don’t have faith in it.

Unfortunately, these business leaders are digging their own graves.

Here are 8 signs your your business is missing the mark when it comes to digital marketing. If you can relate to these signs, don’t walk — run to the phone and call us for help.

(RELATED: What You Should Be Prepared to Spend on Digital Marketing in 2018)

increase-facebook-likes1. You Stress Over Social Media ‘Likes’ and Shares

We sometimes bring our love of shared, re-tweeted and “liked” content from our personal lives into the way we do business. While a high number of likes or followers can look impressive at the surface level, you might not see any benefit from these things once you dig a little deeper.

While there is currently some debate about it in the industry, people liking your page or sharing your content doesn’t factor into the complex algorithms Google uses to determine how high your page ranks. Don’t obsess over too many likes and shares and don’t let a high number of shares make you complacent.

2. You’re Forgetting the Importance of Email

Did you know that almost two-thirds of marketers believe email is at the heart of their business? Over half of all consumers like receiving promotional deals and updates in their inbox each week, too.

People are using an increasingly large variety of devices to stay on top of their emails and as a business owner, you should too. Emailing your clients or customers allows you to personalize the experience to meet their needs and increase their engagement.

3. You’re Sharing the Same Things Across Every Platform

There’s no reason for customers to follow you on more than one platform if they can get everything they need from you on just one. The various social media apps are made for different groups that want different things, and you can use that to your advantage.

  • Use Instagram to bring a visual message to your clients and give them a look at what you’re selling.
  • Twitter is ideal for the smaller bits of news that you want to get out to your audience in real-time.
  • You can use Facebook to bring repeat customers back in, engage new ones, and hold competitions to keep interest levels high.

If you do need to share one thing on all mediums, you should employ some strategy and tweak the stories to fit the platforms.

(RELATED: #RIPTwitter – How the Social Network Dug its Own Grave)

4. There’s Too Much Focus on Small Things

You need to have a specific goal in mind for the long run. This will help you craft a digital marketing strategy around meeting that goal. Everything you produce after that should have a purpose, whether it is to bring in more web traffic, get more email subscriptions, or generate more clicks. Make a broad plan so that you aren’t just creating meaningless content.

5. Customers Can’t Find You

Without an online presence one, you could be artificially limiting your potential or exposing yourself to competitors. If you aren’t getting much web traffic, it could be because you don’t generate very much content or the stuff you do put out there just isn’t interesting to your base. You can find strategies to help you with that on this very list.

6. You Don’t Have a  ‘Digital Team’

If your marketing team isn’t reading at least some digital reports, you might need to implement some training programs. Reading these things, along with attending conferences, blogging weekly, listening to podcasts, and working with digital marketing experts can all help to keep your business relevant.

7. You Can’t Answer These Basic Questions

There are some basic questions every business involved in digital markets should be able to answer.

  • What is your cost and revenue per lead?
  • Which web content manager do you use?
  • How many visitors per month do you get?
  • How are you staying current?

(RELATED: 6 Digital Marketing Hacks the Competition is Using to Steal Your Customers)

8. The Site is Too Old

If it’s been at least five years since you’ve launched your website and you’ve not updated it, now is the time. Almost one-third of all websites are visited via mobile devices, and you need to optimize your website to accept this traffic. If you do not, you could lose valuable customers.

In addition, the advancements in content management systems, marketing automation tools and web design necessitate that a new website is in order.

An investment in digital marketing is an investment in your future. A strong team and a clear plan can keep your company viable in the digital age.

 

495 digital marketing

#RIPTwitter — How the Social Network Dug its Own Grave

495 digital marketing virginiaMany social media users believe Twitter is on its way out. It’s an idea that’s actually been around for a while, despite the platform having hundreds of millions of users each month at present. However, it’s not so much Twitter that’s dying as it is the Twitter the developers imagined.

What the Makers of Twitter Wanted

At first, Twitter was precisely what its creators imagined it could be. Everyone use their accounts to interact not only with one another, but their favorite celebs, product lines, and more. For about six years, from 2006 to 2012, the platform was the hub of social media.

What It is Now

Nowadays, interaction with tweets is much lower. Many celebs with some high follower counts have openly said they don’t use Twitter anymore, leaving potentially thousands of followers stranded. Connecting with industry stars was one of the cornerstones of the original Twitter.

What is Happening With Twitter?

There is no one reason why Twitter is shrinking, but there are a few things that factor into its waning popularity.

1. Online Trolling

Your Twitter fans can sour in an instant. If you tweet the ‘wrong’ message or share an idea that your followers do not like, there’s a chance that some of them might even turn hostile. This can even lead to messages that are nothing more than personal insults.

2. Anonymity is Simple

It’s no surprise that one of the reasons online bullying exists on any platform is how easy it is to hide oneself. Anonymity is like the anti-Kryptonite of the internet troll, giving him or her the power to be anything they want without consequences. Because Twitter only requires an email address and no identifying info, it’s easy to pass yourself off as someone or something else entirely. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter doesn’t require that its users state their real names for their terms of service agreement.

3. Multiple Accounts

You can have unlimited accounts on Twitter. Certainly, some people or companies may need more than one account, but this ability means the platform is ripe for abuse. Even trolls that are banned from Twitter can just come back under a new account.

4. Following Too Many Accounts

Each new Twitter account can follow up to 5000 other accounts. The biggest problem with these generous limits is the creation of bot accounts. We know that the visibility of a particular Tweet goes down after only 18 minutes. That means if I want to Tweet something I know my followers will see, I’ll have to do it every 18 minutes for days at a time. A bot account will do this without the user having to do anything like interacting.

5. Bots Have Taken Over

Dozens of fake accounts can tweet and retweet without any input from the actual user. Some automation is helpful for those of us who want to link articles we publish to our Twitter feeds or update our blogs. I am talking about a more insidious type of automation. Bots can follow thousands of others, send out more Tweets in a minute than any human could, and retweet content all the time.

No Easy Answer

In conclusion, Twitter’s spiral is unlikely to change. It now relies on things like bots to keep investors happy. Bots increase ad revenue and trying to eliminate them would cost both money and numbers. Executives at Twitter likely know this, and rather than fix the issue, would rather fade gracefully while profits are high.

495 digital marketing

Does Facebook Advertising Really Work for Small Business?

495 digital marketingIt’s no secret that small business owners receive hardly any real exposure by simply opening a Facebook business page and posting regularly. The page alone will only reach a small portion of the target audience.

So, is it worth spending the time and money to use Facebook ads if you run a small business?

Careful post promotion and the right ad campaign could make a big difference in reaching the hundreds, if not thousands, more Facebook users on a daily basis.

Facebook’s Advertising Algorithm

Because Facebook offers its services for free, it depends on advertising revenue to stay up and running. The social media site uses a complex algorithm that tracks a user’s interests and works to get the right ads into the right newsfeeds.

The algorithm also works against businesses that do not purchase ads by keeping posts that haven’t been promoted from showing up on very many user news feeds. Even if your page has garnered 1,000 likes, each individual post is only available to about 30 Facebook users. For as little as $.027 per click you could purchase ads that will get you seen by far more users. Whether or not that expanded visibility leads to sales depends on how well you utilize your advertising options.

Make Ads One Part of a Larger Marketing Scheme

The Facebook platform is designed to promote personal interactions between users. If you simply create an ad that directs users straight to a product or service it will not be as effective.

Be creative with the ads and make them part of the general interaction with potential customers.

Direct interested users to your page and then give them the option to participate in an e-mail marketing campaign.

Taking the time to develop a relationship so the customers feel like they know you and your company will lead to more sales in the short run and more loyal customers in the long run.

Launch Dark Posts

Dark posts sound ominous, but they are simply posts that look like regular news feed posts but they do not show up on your timeline and they do not post to fan feeds automatically.

A dark post can include a regular status update, a video, a link, a photo, or a special offer. These posts can be highly targeted to specific fans of your page, which means you can create specific ad campaigns related to a customer’s interests, charitable donations, buying habits, financial data, or other behaviors.

These specific ad campaigns can be powerful tools to help you reach different demographics effectively.

Customize Settings

Businesses that simply open up an ad campaign and leave all the settings at the default setting may not see much difference in traffic or sales. To take advantage of all of the benefits Facebook advertising offers it is crucial to tailor the settings to fit with your specific small business and the customers you need to reach.

Facebook offers geo-targeting tools that can be highly successful when used properly. If your ad campaign does not seem to change the number of visitors or fans on your page, experiment with the settings until you find a combination that brings the maximum number of people to your page.

Conclusion

Bottom line: Facebook ads do work — if they’re used the right way. If nothing else, it gets a business seen by far more users than a business page that is not promoted at all.

Facebook ads are a relatively inexpensive way to reach more potential customers and build stronger relationships with all of your Facebook fans.