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For ecommerce websites, the essential thing is to attract as much relevant traffic as possible. Of course, you need to have a well-designed website, offer quality products, add various incentives, discounts, content, etc. but all of these things are easy compared to driving quality traffic.

On top of that, all of these things won’t matter if there are no interested people visiting your site and seeing what products and discounts you are offering. This is why we have created this list of 6 things that can help you drive traffic that has interest in what your ecommerce store has to offer.

1.   Competitiveness in products and prices

When running an ecommerce store, chances are that you will have a few competitors. The nature of this kind of business allows many entrepreneurs to start something on their own and the market is fairly saturated. On top of that, you are competing with everyone on the Internet. This is why you need to be competitive with your products and prices.

Look to deliver similar or better quality products at similar or lower prices. You can use competitive pricing analysis software to boost profits by quickly learning more about your competitors, their products, and their prices and adjust yours to provide better offers to your customers and increase sales.

2.   Social media presence

Social media has become a vital part of any business online. These platforms are perfect settings for promoting your store and products while attracting more website visitors. By building your audiences on social media and engaging them, you will have the potential to build a strong presence that will be noticed.

Share updates about your store, new products, discounts, special services, and get the word out about your store. This is how more people will learn about your business and potentially buy something from you. Additionally, you can create ad campaigns on networks such as Facebook and reach wider audiences with a small investment.

3.   Work on SEO

Search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing your website in various ways to increase your search results page rankings. With a good SEO strategy for your website, you can rank for good keywords that people interested in what you have to offer search, which will lead them to your website.

SEO is the best practice for increasing organic traffic, and organic traffic carries the most value. Although SEO takes a lot of time to rank your site high in searches, once you get there it can sustain your business for a long time without having to invest in any other form of marketing. Learn about B2B SEO tips, tricks and tools, and do this on your own, step by step.

4.   PPC (Pay Per Click)

PPC ads are those sponsored search results you see when you look for something using your search engine. PPC is a paid marketing method where you can instantly climb to the top of the search rankings for certain keywords while ignoring your current SEO quality. PPC ads can also be video ads on sites, banner ads, social media ads, and so on.

These campaigns are set up very quickly and can instantly bring you lots of valuable traffic if done properly. It can be used to boost sales when you need it the most and get some long-term customers. However, it can cost a lot and backfire if done badly.

5.   CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

A CRM solution can help you gain valuable information about all of your online customers and manage relationships with them effectively. This is very important in modern business, especially in ecommerce where you need to provide great customer experience to be competitive, as explained in this article.

A CRM solution allows you to monitor all customer communications through all channels and always be there to respond to them, store information about them, analyze this information to improve marketing and sales and create better customer relationships overall.

In the online world, where there is no face-to-face communication, you need to care about your customers and tend to their needs.

6.   Branding tactics

Since the competition is fierce in ecommerce, it can be difficult to attract customers. To swim out of the sea of similar stores, you need to brand your business and offer something unique. You need to build trust around your brand and let everyone know you are serious.

This includes creating your own brand voice, sharing your story, creating branded content, implementing designs that represent your brand, and reward your customers for taking actions on your website. This is how people will remember your store and come back to it again, as well as recommending it to their friends.

Work on all of these things simultaneously to boost your traffic or prioritize them one by one to make the most out of these options.

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A recent study by Accenture found that over 90 percent of companies today have some kind of customer loyalty programs in place. Yet, over 71% of customers surveyed by the researchers said that these programs do not really engender loyalty.

One of the primary reasons for this wavering loyalty is that although investments in such programs have increased, businesses have not kept pace with understanding their customer’s responsiveness to these initiatives. In fact, in nearly a quarter of the cases, these loyalty programs were found to elicit a negative or non-existent reaction, thus hurting customer relationships.

Reward points and loyalty certificates are no longer adequate to sustain business relationships. From a customer’s perspective, the learning curve required to use a new product or service efficiently is often the biggest deterrent. Effective onboarding strategies can help with customer acquisition and improve customer experience. This, in turn, serves as a deterrent to them switching to another brand.

Onboarding Tools

Signing up a new customer is not the end of a sales journey. For effective retention, these customers need to be trained to use your product or service efficiently. There are several ways this is done.

B2B organizations focus on classroom-style training sessions that often last days or weeks. Consumer product manufacturers include manuals and tech-specs handbooks for new users to read and get acquainted with their new purchase.

But according to Nikos Andriotis, an eLearning specialist at TalentLMS, the most effective way to onboard new customers is through bite-sized learning techniques. He points out that human beings can only concentrate on novel information for short spans of time. After this, their concentration wanes away significantly.

By breaking down the onboarding lessons into short and quick sessions, customers tend to retain a lot more of their onboarding sessions and are thus more adept at using your product or service.

To improve onboarding effectiveness, businesses may look at breaking down their sessions into small chunks. A B2B organization may invest in daily newsletters that train its customers to perform one activity each day. Alternately, businesses may also invest in activity-based learning. Letting customers actively engage helps with better retention and thus improved onboarding.

Coach Marks 

A one-on-one session with customers is not practical for businesses that sign up hundreds or thousands of customers each day. This is especially true in the case of mobile apps and website based businesses.

A popular way to onboard such customers is through coach marks. Coach marks are essentially graphical overlays that highlight the various buttons and sections of your website. A new visitor to your site is thus taken to their account with coach marks turned on by default. This helps a customer understand how to do the things they want to use the platform.

Online Courses

Onboarding a new customer can consume a lot of time and resources. Small business owners and consultant may find this challenging since this restricts them from scaling their business.

For instance, a wealth consultant may need to spend a considerable amount of time with each of their new clients explaining their investing methodology and about the various investment categories in general. This is important to building credibility and ensures that customers are more patient with your strategies.

Such consultants may look at onboarding with the help of online courses. These tools allow the consultant to deliver top-notch initial consultation to all of their customers. This can be followed by a focused one-on-one session where the clients’ unique needs can be addressed.

Also, depending on your industry, your onboarding may need you to train your customer on industry-related topics.

The above customer onboarding techniques serve one very specific purpose – to make the customer understand your product or service better. The end-goal here is to improve your customer’s experience with the process. Although the quality of your product or service eventually determines your success in business, it is worth pointing out that customers are more than willing to provide your business with the leeway to improve as long as the switching costs are high.

With onboarding, customers tend to get comfortable with your product and this is one of the most powerful ways to build long-term loyalty.

How have you implemented onboarding in your business? Let us know in the comments.

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Companies are always looking for new ways to streamline their customer support department efforts. This doesn’t strike us as a surprise. Markets worldwide are becoming more volatile and saturated as we speak, and providing excellent customer support is important for business success.

In order to keep customers returning and keep that competitive edge, businesses have to use the latest software to deliver profound care. What tools are those? Stay with us, as we go through a list of 7 tools for providing better customer service support.

Live Support Chat

Live support chat tool provides amazing opportunities for your customer support agents. Integrating it to your official website is simple, and, moreover, it is easy to use. Other than that, the integration empowers your agents to handle multiple customers at the same time, engage them when they arrive at your website while providing further assistance, and add more to that delightful shopping experience.

Besides these, a live support chat tool comes with other functionality, too. For instance, your senior agents can oversee and be of assistance to their younger peers. You can also track and record conversations to identify trends and tailor your approach to customers accordingly.

In the end, you can compile a list of commonly asked questions and publish a FAQ on your website as an ultimate ticket deflection solution.

Self-Service Helpdesk

We live in a “Google It” era. The chances are that your customers are going to search for a solution online before they decide to directly contact you. Fortunately, you can seize this opportunity by publishing your online self-service help-desk. Thanks to the help desk software, you will be able to do it without any previous technical knowledge.

With a search feature, your new self-service help desk will enable your customers to look for solutions wherever they are. Since it is a part of your website, all your help documentation will be indexed by search engines, thus increasing your chances of showing up in the search results of your competitor’s audience.

Automatic Callback Phone System

Some customers still prefer using the phone over the other digital methods at their disposal. You have to make sure that your call center works towards providing a delightful customer experience at all times.  Besides, there is nothing more frustrating for a customer than being on hold for a long period of time just to get disconnected.

The automatic callback system will help you to bring your service system to another level. After the customer leaves their phone number, the system remembers their place in queue and automatically calls them back when the first support agent becomes available. By doing so, you will set your customers free from waiting in queues with a phone stuck to their heads.

Dedicated Mobile App

A dedicated mobile app is a great way to connect with your customers. When it comes to mobile apps you should know that there are no limits. You can embed your online shop in them, as well as a ticketing system, customer support agent call and chat functionality. Basically, you can make a window to any of your services via a mobile app.

Customers will love it. In fact, 75% of customers rely on the Internet and their smartphones when they shop. Additionally, 50% of these customers prefer to use a mobile customer service app before any other means at their disposal.

One word of advice, make sure to outsource your mobile app development to an established and renowned firm. You don’t want to end up providing support for a mobile app as well – you need it to work perfectly on as many devices as possible.

Email Marketing Tool

Now, you might think: “Why would I need an email marketing tool for the customer support department?” Well, some customers still favor using email communication above anything else. And if you receive a lot of support requests and/or direct inquiries via this channel, it might be a good idea to use an email marketing tool.

This tool will help you by allowing you to automate the responses to the emails you’ve received. You can schedule this response, make your own conditions that will trigger auto emails, and so on. For instance, you can inform your customers in distress that you have received their email and that you will get back to them as soon as possible.

Remember, keeping customers in the information loop is pivotal for any business. This is especially true in case of those customers who are on the brink of getting frustrated.

Social Media Management Tool

Today, businesses also have to nurture their online audience. With the popularity of social media platforms, this has become even more important. One bad experience can cost you a lot if the word spreads out on these mediums. But how to track and know what is going on, in a place as crowded as social media platforms?

In order to take control of social media networks and leverage their popularity, you have to consider using social media management tool. This tool will help you to streamline your communication on social media, help you to provide answers to everyone, and track and record every interaction.

Customer Support Ticketing Tool

When the number of tickets spikes, you need all the help you can muster. If you are not using a customer support ticketing tool already, you have to at least consider it. Why? Because it makes ticket management simple.

With the help of this tool, you can interact with customers across multiple channels. This includes live chat, email, phone, and others. Your managers can also assign agents their tickets quickly whenever it is necessary. Some of these tools also come with automated features to help you remove redundant and time-consuming tasks from the picture for your agents.

Bottom Line…

Thanks to technological and software solutions, we have access to these 7 tools to help us streamline and improve customer support service efforts. The increasing number of communication channels demands organizations to diversify their customer support efforts in order to meet the new demands and expectations of the modern consumers.

About the Author
Jared is a customer-support ninja and a marketing evangelist working with ProProfs.com for more than 5 years. After wearing many hats as a sales specialist, a content marketer and a brief stint as project manager; Jared found customer support to be the passion-fueled calling while working with ProProfs Chat. Being an avid book lover, he regularly visits the library and is always keen to develop new strategies to help customers seeking live chat assistance for a delightful experience.

Connect with Jared on Twitter or LinkedIn

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An effective e-commerce ecosystem is vital to business success in today’s mobile-first economy. E-commerce sales increased 23.2 percent in 2017, making up over one-tenth of total U.S. sales, eMarketer estimates. Online sales are growing five times faster than offline sales, and will account for 17 percent of total sales in the United States by 2022, Forrester projects.

To succeed at capturing your company’s share of this growing online market, it’s essential for your website to include some key features. Here are three critical steps to building a successful e-commerce ecosystem.

Use a Mobile-First Web Design

With 57 percent of mobile traffic now coming from smartphones and tablets, according to BrightEdge, a mobile-first web design has become a fundamental principle for a successful e-commerce strategy. A key to an effective mobile-first strategy is a responsive web design sized to smartphone screens but adjustable for viewing on PCs. Mobile-friendly sites should have large images and text that are easy to see on small screens, along with navigational features that are easy to use on smartphones.

A mobile-first site should also be designed to load quickly on smartphones. This can be achieved by keeping image files small through best practices such as minified coding, compression and file caching.

Google provides online tools your web team can use to test and optimize your site’s mobile performance. Your team can also borrow design strategies from successful mobile-oriented sites. For instance, security camera systems provider Lorex Technology uses a responsive, mobile-oriented design that illustrates how to make navigation easy for smartphone users.

Help Visitors Find the Products They Want

Another crucial step toward building a successful e-commerce site is making it easy for your visitors to find relevant products that meet their needs. The key to doing this is providing a user-friendly search bar, shopping cart and login box.

A search bar should be treated as a call to action feature, says Ecommerce Illustrated. While current minimalist trends favor a nearly invisible search bar accessed through a magnifying glass icon, eye-tracking studies show that users are conditioned to look in the top-right corner of a site for a high-contrast search field clearly labeled as such. Tests by Alinc Technologies found that using a bolder border around a search bar increased search use by 13.2 percent. Experiments by Dell showed that using a search button instead of an icon increases revenue per visitor by 6.3 percent.

You can also boost sales by allowing visitors to choose between saving their login details for future purchases or remaining logged in. This helps you capture sales that would otherwise be lost when users navigate away from your site.

Provide Support to Assist Shoppers

Once you get users to add items to their shopping cart, you still need to get them to complete a purchase. Nearly eight in 10 shopping carts were abandoned in the second quarter of 2017, according to SaleCycle data. This implies that only two in 10 customers follow through on the shopping cart process and complete their purchase. The more you can increase your shopping cart conversion rate, the more successful your e-commerce site will be.

A key to boosting your shopping cart conversion rate is offering easy-to-find customer support tools to help customers during the purchase process. There should be clear, highly visible instructions for how shoppers can ask for information or assistance in order to complete their purchase.

Providing live chat tools and toll-free numbers can help encourage these customers to become buyers. Using chatbots or outsourced support can help your team manage more service inquiries and to assist customers outside of regular business hours.

Implementing mobile-first design, user-friendly navigation and strong customer support are three fundamental steps toward building a successful e-commerce site. Putting these steps into practice will help you attract more mobile visitors, get more customers to click on your products and convert more sales.

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Multivariate testing (including A/B testing) is a technique used to identify the best performing campaigns on your marketing inventory. Such testing tools can be used to identify the ad copies, landing pages and even Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons that perform the best.

The way to do this is simple – marketers pick two or more variations of the component to optimize (ad copy, landing page, etc.) and make these variations available to a random group of website visitors who belong to the same demographics. The conversion rate (or any other predetermined metric) is measured and the variation that has the worse metric is discarded in favor of the better-performing variation.

Multivariate testing is a fantastic technique to measure customer experience and satisfaction metrics. Let us take a look at some ways we can achieve this.

NPS Tracking 

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the best ways to evaluate customer satisfaction. However, the timing of your question can influence the rating. For instance, asking a customer soon after they purchase your product could elicit a higher rating compared to asking them soon after they call you for a support request.

It is a good idea to segregate the NPS scores derived from customers at various stages of the buyer journey and track them separately. This way, it is possible to know the bottlenecks in delivering great customers experience and the objective should be to fix CX issues at this stage of the buying process first.

Live Chat – Passive Vs. Active

If you run an online store, a live chat tool can be an incredibly useful way to assist customers during their shopping experience.

There are two ways to implement live chat – you may either activate a live chat message soon after the customer visits your site, or simply link to a live chat page. In the latter case, the customer may not notice the live chat option unless they are looking for a support channel to reach your business. Both these alternatives have their pros and cons.

By actively triggering a live chat message, you help your customer engage with you more frequently. This can, however, be distracting and could potentially bring conversions down. In the alternate scenario, customers are not distracted by a chat message although the option can be easily missed by a prospective customer who bounces away. Measuring engagement and conversion from these two alternate channels should give you an idea of what works better for your customers.

Phone Support

An American Express survey report found that nearly two-thirds of customers hang up their phone if they are not able to talk to a real person.

Phone support is an irreplaceable component of a business. What your agent says or does not say can often determine the satisfaction of your customer and directly influence their future engagements with you.

A well-trained support executive follows a pretested script to understand the customers’ problems and helps fix them. Identifying the right script to follow can be a challenge though.

One way to do this is by preparing different script variations to address each of the most common customer support requests. For instance, if you are an apparel retailer, you could create mutiple variations of script each for complaints such as ‘wrong size of product’, ‘damaged apparel’, ‘item does not look like advertised’, and so on. Now test these different scripts for each of the complaints to measure the effectiveness of the script not just in solving the customer support request, but also in improving the NPS score from the customers. Pick the most effective scripts and test them against newer variations of the script.

Customer satisfaction and experience management is a never-ending process. Consequently, testing the best performing scripts and features is a continuous process too. Multivariate testing methods help businesses identify what works for customers best and thus sets them on the path to delivering better and optimal experience and satisfaction. 

About the Author: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a free to use project management app for SMBs. Hubbion has been ranked in the top 20 in its category by Capterra.

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You probably already know how important the voice of the customer is for your business, but are you placing equal importance on finding the time to read them?

Reading your reviews can do wonders for your business, and in this post, you’ll learn why. Here are three critical reasons to be reading your customer reviews.

1. You’ll Gain Invaluable Insight

You learn so much about both your business and your audience by reading what your customers have to say. If a customer is taking time out of their day to leave a review, there is a very good reason as to why — one that you should be aware of.

Read your reviews to understand your customers, find out what they love or dislike about your business, and what motivated them to carve time out of their busy schedules to leave a review, whether it was good or bad.

Customer feedback can have a make-or-break effect on your business, which makes it an imperative factor to monitor. If you’re looking for more ways to gain access to useful customer insight, here are 4 ways to gather business intelligence on your customers’ buying habits.

2. It Looks Good for Your Brand

By making it a habit to regularly read and reply to your reviews, you show the public that you are paying attention to the wants of your clientele, which will go a long way in the mind of a potential customer.

As you read through your reviews, take a few minutes to reply to some (or all) of them with a brief expression of gratitude for the kind words.

Additionally, reading and replying to your reviews is a fantastic way to represent your brand and flaunt your company’s personality for curious onlookers. Not only will you be able to spark personable connections with current customers that can increase customer engagement and loyalty, but you’ll also snag the attention of new buyers.

3. You Can Manage Your Reputation

If for no other reason, it is crucial that you read your reviews so that you can have some control over the negative marks on your company’s reputation online.

Learn how to deal with negative reviews so that you can clear up misunderstandings, amend mistakes, or simply apologize for a poor experience.

With a little damage control, you have the potential to turn a negative review into a positive customer experience for both parties involved. A fuming customer who receives an accommodating reply could redact their angry comments. A disappointed buyer could accept an apology (and perhaps some in-store credit) and continue on as a satisfied customer.

No matter how you handle negative reviews, keep in mind that the public has a front row seat to how your company handles feedback and criticism, so give them a show that they’ll be pleased with.

Read Your Reviews

According to recent studies covered by B2C, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. 90%! Reading your reviews is imperative to the future of your company. Take some time to listen to your customers, shed some light on your brand and the personality of your company, and manage your reputation online.

About the Author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer who’s committed to helping businesses and sales professionals build stronger connections with their customers. She writes for multiple publications including InMoment. In her spare time, she enjoys learning more about CX, reading, and engaging on Twitter.

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The behavior of consumers has evolved as their environments and behaviors have shifted — and it’s up to brands to catch up. These days, many companies are stuck in old habits, trying to stick a round peg into a square hole. Case in point: Choosing to not operate a call center from the cloud won’t allow businesses to keep up with customers’ demands in real time.

Indeed, customers don’t want to be put on hold as live agents determine how and where they should be transferred. And they certainly do not want to drive to your retail location to resolve a simple issue; after all, this is the 21st century, so technology-averse businesses need to take advantage of the tools their customers have come to expect and demand.

You might be asking yourself where to start. Your best bet is to invest in a cloud contact center that will provide your business with more options for customer engagement — and that includes two-way texting. If your business has not considered this support channel, here are four benefits that may sway you.

1. It’s Convenient

Some of the most common complaints consumers have with customer service departments are dealing with long wait times and multiple transfers. Of course, they don’t want to spend their limited free time with the phone pressed awkwardly against their ear as they get transferred from department to department. So why make them wait — and escalate their frustration — when there are other options for interaction?

Two-way text messaging is a much more convenient option for your customers because they can quickly type the issue they’re experiencing into their smartphone and then go about their day while waiting for a response. Unlike live support, they don’t have to be glued to their phone and re-explain the issue. Through two-way texting, your customers can get their issue resolved no matter their location.

2. It’s Immediate

Beyond convenience for your customers, an SMS support channel is also good for your company. According to Connect Mogul, more than 97 percent of text messages are opened, and 90 percent of those are read in less than three minutes of being received. This means your customers will receive the service they need almost immediately without interrupting their day.

Furthermore, it means companies can assist consumers more quickly and feel assured that the messages are being read. With two-way text messaging, your employees can easily hold conversations with multiple customers simultaneously and provide faster responses and more immediate service.

3. It’s Efficient

Another major benefit of employing an SMS support channel is that it offers greater efficiency for your live support agents. Instead of interacting one customer at a time, your employees can bounce from one conversation to another without any disruption or interference.

Moreover, your live agents will be able to more quickly and easily assess a customer’s issue before transferring them to the appropriate department for a resolution. Your employees will also be able to address more minor issues in the moment without having to escalate the issue to another department. Ultimately, this will free up your phone lines to address more pressing issues.

SMS Support Still Offers a Form of Human Touch

While your business can rely on traditional phone support and FAQ pages to resolve customer service issues, employing some form of SMS support is another surefire option that will allow you to better connect with your customers. After all, two-way text messaging can offer you a new way to quickly and efficiently resolve customer issues, while still providing a human touch.

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The power of social media among today’s consumers is no secret. With over 2.8 billion global social media users, which equal roughly 37 percent market penetration, the opportunity for businesses to engage and connect with existing and new customers is vast and constantly growing. So what can you do to really use this tool and build your customer engagement? Let’s take a look at some quick tips.

1. Know Your Audience

When posting on social media, it’s important to talk about topics of interest, not just your brand. While it may be interesting to consumers that you’re having a discount, hearing about your deals all the time will get boring after a while.

By using social media as a way to build a brand personality, you will find that more consumers will likely want to engage with you, as they are getting a unique offering. But first, you need to know what topics actually grab your target market’s attention. Figure out what interests them, what they’re talking about, what platforms they’re using and what other brands they like.

Amway, for example, is a big advocate of using social media; you can tell by their Instagram that they know their consumers are using this platform, and they are aware that they’re not only interested in their products but ideas of healthy living and high-quality products.

By having this targeted understanding, you can post the right content, on the right platform and partner with the right companies to reach the maximum number of people.

2. Be Responsive

Believe it or not but Social Media Today found in 2017 that customers spend 20-40 percent more with brands that engage and respond to them via social media. What can we deduce from this? That not only is social media a means to communicate with consumers, but it’s vital to providing effective customer service. If people comment on your posts, whether it’s a question or just a statement, or if they message you, be sure to respond as if you were talking to them in-store.

And perfectly in line with the fast pace of the online environment, you also have to ensure that you’re responding very quickly. Social Media Today also found that 60 percent of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within an hour.

3. Create a Seamless Experience

At the end of the day, social media is a form of marketing and you would like the end result to be higher conversions from your customers. Vice versa, consumers often follow brands that they like buying from as an easy way to access their products. Therefore, in order to engage consumers, try and make your social media a seamless part of your online brand experience.

For example, if you’re a retail brand posting a photo of someone in your clothes, tag the clothes with a link straight to the purchasing page on your website so people who like the item can easily find out more. Think about what it is your marketing, and make it as easy as possible for customers to further engage with other marketing material and actually make a purchase.

By now, you’re probably aware that social media is here to stay. It’s become integrated into everyday life and is a great way for businesses to engage with their customers. Whether you’re new to social media or have been using it for a while, make sure you use these quick tips to get the best results from your social pages.

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You’re not alone in your struggles. In fact, companies the world over experience the same predicament: trying to repeatedly and successfully convey how their products or services can benefit consumers. But, believe it or not, uniting the forces of education and marketing can go a long way in your pursuit of happiness.

Don’t just market to your customers, though. Instead, find new and innovative ways to educate them about why your offerings can solve a need in their household or simply provide some form of comfort and satisfaction. Here are a few takeaways from some of the more successful companies already putting this to practice and how you can apply it to your own business.

1. Use Blogs to Sell and Teach

Still on the fence about blogging? For most companies, it takes quite a bit more than advertising to get customers through the proverbial doors of their e-commerce business. In fact, before consumers invest their time and money into a particular product or service, they want to ensure they’re receiving some sort of value and they usually rely on some type of content marketing to inform those decisions.

According to a recent HubSpot survey, 47 percent of consumers said they digest three to five pieces of content before making a buying decision. Moreover, potential buyers are on the lookout for informative blog posts, as these resources tend to be trusted, information-rich sources of content, which can include anything from problem-solving tips to how-tos.

Take a lesson out of the Tirebuyer playbook. The online retailer publishes blog content regularly, including posts about tire rotation frequency and the crucial features motorists should consider when buying new tires. Of course, blog posts should also include and provide sales opportunities. At the end of each blog post, look for ways to include backlinks to specific sales pages in order to create a more seamless buying experience.

2. Conduct Webinars to Answer Questions in Real Time

It’s hard to compete in business without the ability to always have face-to-face customers interactions. But in today’s digitally-driven age, consumers are looking for new ways to connect with and learn from brands in real time and many are turning to webinars. For example, the Digital Training Institute provides those eager to learn with free content covering a range of digital-related content, from social media to digital citizenship.

During these webinars, attendees also have the opportunity to ask questions of company leaders through live chat. Take a note from the Digital Training Institute and consider hosting your own free webinar. Indeed, you can use this time to discuss important industry trends, or simply provide a forum for customers and clients to ask questions.

From there, you’ll want to add the webinar recording to your website, allowing visitors to watch this content on demand. But don’t forget to post the link to social media, as this will not only allow you to reach more people but also help you promote your next webinar and overall business venture.

3. Educate Through Email Marketing

You know all those emails you receive every day from some of your favorite brands? Well, there’s a purpose behind this form of constant messaging: customer retention. However, despite the success that many companies realize from this initiative, email marketing is a powerful educational tool that’s underutilized.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, companies that use email marketing to their advantage can see their ROI reach a whopping 3,800 percent. This figure alone should be reason enough to implement an email marketing strategy for your company. In fact, think of email marketing as content marketing’s best friend.

Moreover, email marketing gives your brand the chance to stay in touch with customers and provide them with valuable information. This practice can also serve as a call to action and boost morale. For example, donors who give to Charity Water, a nonprofit that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, receive emails that detail how their contributions are being used to benefit those in need.

Of course, these and other forms of messaging can be carried out in your own email marketing strategy and tailored to your intended audience. Indeed, showing consumers how your company operates can go a long way in winning them over.

Tell Your Story Through Marketing

The late Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.” And it seems more companies can take this message to heart.

Ultimately, your brand needs to become a storyteller of sorts, one that’s able to equally inspire and inform; after all, customers only truly care about themselves but they want to do business with brands that can continuously meet their needs and interests. So don’t just market to your customers, educate them.

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We live in an age of constant communication, perpetual availability, and an expectation of white-glove service. For small businesses, the level of customer service they are able to provide can make or break their success. So, how does a fledgling company offer the same level of attentive, personable, friendly client care as a multinational behemoth with massive call centers at their fingertips?

They automate, of course.

1) Chatbots are your friend

If you’ve ever browsed online, whether on the hunt for a new toaster or cable-knit sweater, odds are you’ve experienced the dainty “ping!” of a chatbot materializing in the corner of your screen. An option especially popular with the tech-savvy millennial crowd, chatbots have the ability to appear highly human, as far as robots go. You can assign them a profile picture (bonus points if the avatar is wearing a beanie or thick-rimmed glasses), a name, and a friendly greeting to reel in curious visitors.

Chatbots are set up by feeding the software answers to common questions, like “How can I track my order?” They are a subtly ever-present tool should a burning question pop into a visitor’s head. Certain customer chatbot solutions employ cutting-edge AI technology, giving said bot the ability to learn, evolve, and improve its offering with every passing interaction.

 2) Customize for success

To provide the kind of support your clients actually want and need, set up keyword and action triggers that serve up practical suggestions at the perfect moment. You can outline specific visitor behaviors or patterns that indicate the need for some friendly assistance, such as navigating to your FAQ page or browsing a specific product line, like running shoes for women in size 8.

Use these prompts to float genuinely relevant suggestions inside the browser window, such as showcasing the bestselling women’s sneaker this month, or offering to elaborate upon their desired FAQ inquiry. By giving customers information based on their behavior, and anticipating the kinds of tips that might help them along their journey, your automated client care is sure to be a hit.

 3) Garner important insights

If a customer service chat unfolds in the forest and no one’s around to hear it…

It is recommended to give users a nudge after they disconnect with your chatbot, asking for a star rating and brief feedback about the interaction. This way, you can keep an eye on satisfaction levels and suggested improvements without having to conduct the entire session yourself – now that you’ve automated this stage of your support, it is essential to be extra vigilant about troubleshooting related issues.

 4) Perfect the welcome email

For most customers, your welcome email is the first personal interaction they have with your brand – and more importantly, this is the first sign of life they receive thanks to an automated process. According to an article by MyEmma, welcome emails boast a 50% open rate on average, making them 86% more effective than the traditional newsletter – so yours better be good!

The modern small business tends to shed stuffy greetings like “Hello” and “Good morning/evening” in favor of “Hey!” and “Hi there,” so feel free to follow suit and employ this tone throughout. While your audience knows that they’re reading an automated email, a warmer, more casual tone has the ability to remind them that there are indeed real people running your business!

The welcome email is also the perfect vehicle with which you can begin answering questions and troubleshooting issues before they arise. Provide links to product suites, your FAQ, your intro video, and anything else that might help new users get acquainted with your offering in-depth.

 5) Have backup

Here in the 21st century, we love our robots – but small businesses should always provide a way for people to speak with a human if their issue escalates beyond the abilities of automated service. Some bots are able to bump a service ticket to a human counterpart, and other companies simply prefer to provide a contact email or phone number on their website for those who don’t wish to engage with a bot. The choice is yours.

One more consideration is your social media page: clients may flock there to air their grievances, assuming that whoever is managing the page is highly likely to see their complaint or concern. As a small business, it is your job to respond promptly, politely, and with a touch of fun – a job best suited to a living, breathing employee!

About the Author
Alex G. is VP of Marketing and Customer Success at Amilia. His daytime passions include marketing and technology while his after-work passions include good wine and martial arts. With his black belt in judo, Alex applies his focus to growth with as much discipline as he does to armlocks and chokes on the mats.

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