Tag Archives: Health and Lifestyle

Vol. 100: 15 Helpful Tips for Working at Home

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Vol. 100 - Work from Home Tips

If you are adjusting to working from home or already were, these tips were put together to help you make the most of your time and energy working from home.

Increase your productivity, efficiency, focus and sanity with these tips:

  1. Update Your To-Do List Every Morning and Use a Planner
  2. Discover Your High Productivity Periods
  3. Avoid Work Creep and Set Real Work Hours – It’s easy to let your work creep into your personal life when you’re already at home. When you set work hours and stick to them, you are more productive during those hours.
  4. Create a Rewards System
  5. Use Time Management Apps
  6. Build a Permanent Work Space, Preferably Not in the Living Room – Establishing a permanent work space allows you to commit and focus on the work at hand. Avoid areas where many distractions are present.
  7. Don’t Work in Your PJs (Dress for Success)
  8. Develop a Morning Routine
  9. Take Short Breaks and Stretch Regularly, Preferably Outside – Allowing your body to sit for too long sets in fatigue and you will be less productive.
  10. Invest in Quality Technology and Comfortable Office Furniture
  11. Stay Off Social Media
  12. Eat Healthy Meals & Snacks – Eating more often or unhealthier foods is mush easier at home where your kitchen is. Be mindful of what and when you eat. Keep your body and mind more productive by eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
  13. Listen to Music30 day affirmation
  14. Use Video Chat
  15. Daily Affirmations – Develop the powerful habit of using daily affirmations to help achieve your goals and dreams. Keep your mind off of negative thoughts and what you don’t want in your life. We recommend the 30-Day Affirmation Challenge by Brian Tracy.

 


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From the Eminent Team

Increase Productivity

8 Steps to Increase Productivity Before 10am

Here are some tips to make it through the work day… and don’t stress. You won’t become more productive overnight. But these small adjustments will help you get on the right path.

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How To Be a Better Listener For Business Success

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How To Be a Better Listener For Business Success

Can You Become a Better Listener?

Our fascination with listening – or, more accurately, why we don’t listen – has long been the subject of fascination and rebuke. For example, in a 1957 interview by the Harvard Business Review, executives of a manufacturing plant in Chicago were asked questions about a recent seminar they attended on listening. One of the most prolific comments was:

“Frankly, I had never thought of listening as an important subject by itself. But now that I am aware of it, I think that perhaps 80% of my work depends on my listening to someone, or on someone else listening to me.”

The article goes on to say that many of these executives admitted that the lion’s share of mistakes – including workplace accidents – were the result of miscommunication or failure to listen.

Fast forward 60 years, and the problem has gotten exponentially worse. The human attention span is infamously less than a goldfish. One study found that half of adults could not describe the content of a short oral presentation (10 minutes), even moments after listening to it. After 48 hours, 75% of subjects couldn’t even tell you what the presentation was about.

Another survey of thousands of American workers revealed that we are too distracted to be good listeners. Nearly two thirds of respondents noted that listening has become more difficult as the world becomes more digital.

So, whose fault is it that we’re bad listeners? Technology? Our own laziness?

Bad Listeners in Business Meeting

A little bit of both, with some biology mixed in.

Did you know, for example, that our brains can safely digest 400 words per minute? And did you know that even the fastest speakers can only give rapid fire dialogue around 125 words a minute?

What is the other 75% of your brainpower doing at that time? It’s bored. Hence, it tries to fill that space with other stimuli – emailing, surfing social media, catching up on other digital errands. And listening comprehension goes down.

This issue only becomes compounded with the convenience and demands of living in the digital age. Social media, for example, rewards people who make a lot of noise without listening. The rules of social media dictate that you should:

  • Share a lot of stuff (multiple times a day!)
  • You should publish your own stuff as much as possible
  • When you share other people’s stuff, they share your stuff
  • When you follow other people, they follow you
YouTube, for example, follows metrics like views, subscribers, comments, and likes. When you digitally yell loudly and often enough, you will get rewarded. Even the trolls get rewarded with lots of attention, good or bad.

If you’re in marketing, you’re probably so used to peddling noise that you haven’t thought much about stopping and listening.

Which isn’t necessarily your fault.

Think about it.

When does anyone on social media get rewarded for digital listening? Commenters don’t get their share of the profits or traffic. There is no reward system for showing that you listen, unless it’s a “like.” All the rewards – both the intrinsic (dopamine rush) and extrinsic (profits, if you’re a marketer), go to the person who does the talking.

In this way, we are trained – even professionally – to not listen.

This applies to more than just marketing. As a society, we revere great speakers – if you look throughout history, some of the most highly regarded presidents (based on average approval rating) such as Kennedy, FDR, and Eisenhower – were great orators.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

These sayings have become part of the American cultural lexicon. Now, can you name three American leaders who are known for their penchant for listening?

Bring it down closer to home. How many of your work meetings involve everyone taking turns and digesting what everyone is saying – and how many of them are people talking over everyone else, eager to have their own voices heard? Why is this?

We Desire to Be Understood.

Desire to be Understood

Humans are looking to be understood. That is, at least, a core argument in the book that made Steven Covey famous, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, he says that most people have an intrinsic desire to be understood. This is the foundation of human connection. Unfortunately, in doing so, you may neglect the other party completely, pretending to listen but only hearing parts of the conversation, which can lead to misinterpretation of intent altogether.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Here, you might be getting a little defensive and thinking “I’m a GREAT listener!” Maybe you even count good listening skills as one of your biggest assets.

Science says you might be wrong there, too. In fact, in a study about listening comprehension, only 18% of people could answer simple questions correctly about a dialogue.

Maybe you belong in the 18%. Maybe you think that you could easily repeat something back that someone told you. But that doesn’t make you a good listener.

It makes you a good hearer.

Hearing is the act of listening to noise; listening is deriving meaning from those noises. To be a good listener, you must interpret and understand what people are saying.

In other words, in modern society, what Simon and Garfunkel feared has come to pass: “People hearing without listening.”

How do we resolve that conundrum?

Hear my words that I might teach you:

Listening Is One of Our Most Meaningful Experiences.

Take a moment to consider how listening impacts our life and relationships.

A baby can cry and hasten the soothing touch and murmuring of her parents.

A lonely millennial in the midst of a professional crisis can hear a song on the radio and be instantly transported to a fond college memory.

An elderly patient in a nursing home can experience instant happiness at the sound of a friend or family member on the telephone. There is even some evidence that familiar music can trigger a lucid moment in a patient with Alzheimer’s.

Listening, when performed with understanding, forms the basis of some of the most precious moments and relationships. Who wouldn’t want to hone that skill for themselves – both professionally and personally?

Now, comes the bulk of this conversation: how can you become a better listener? How can you pivot from being a person who makes noise to a person who makes sense of the noise?

There are a lot of different tips we’re excited to share with you, but the bulk of it goes something like this: to become a good listener, you must be an active and engaged member of a conversation.

In a study published by the Harvard Business Review, two CEO’s analyzed the behavior of nearly 3,500 participants in a development seminar designed to make managers better coaches. Of this cohort, they identified the top 5% (who were deemed the best listeners) and asked others to describe what made them good listeners. The results were insightful:

  • Good listening involves more than just being quiet while another person talks. In fact, many people interpret silence throughout talking as not paying attention. Rather, the best listeners are those who periodically ask questions that drive the conversation forward or promote insight. Nodding silently does not tell the speaker that the other party is listening; asking thought provoking questions tells the speaker not only that the other party is listening, but cares about what was said. Good listening, therefore, is active.
  • Good listening does include interactions that help improve self-esteem. People who are deemed good listeners make the experience of having a conversation positive. Creating a safe environment, making a person feel supported, and conveying confidence in the other party were all tenets of good listening.
  • Good listening could also be described as “cooperative conversation.” In other words, good listeners help make a conversation flow. Even when differences in opinion arise, a good listener will not put the other party on the defensive. By contrast, poor listeners are often perceived as competitive and wanting to win an argument.
  • Good listeners tend to make suggestions. Finally, those perceived as good listeners provided feedback in a manner in which the other party was more likely to accept. Authors of the article found this surprising, as it is not uncommon to hear, “But they didn’t even listen, they just jumped in and tried to solve the problem themselves.” This tells us that execution in providing feedback matters.

Good listeners tend to make suggestions

In other words, don’t assume that being silent is the key to good listening, either.

Now, you might be thinking: Why is it important for me as a marketer to be a good listener? Aren’t I literally in the business of “making noise?”

Yes, you should make a little noise, but it is also essential to know how to listen. Here’s why:

When we listen to our customers, prospects, and readers, we can find innovative solutions to our business problems. For example, after hosting live customer interviews, Moz saw more than a 50% increase in conversions. Other practical applications of listening for business include:

In a sense, you could argue that your job as a marketer is actually to listen. Know what your customers want. When you listen and understand a customer, prospect, or reader, you make a connection. And that connection does pay out dividends.

You have to know how to listen to do good marketing and copywriting. But how do you achieve that when you know that most of us are inherently bad listeners?

Let’s Start With The Basics of Being a Good Listener.

First, if you want to understand what is currently impeding your ability to be a good listener, do these three things.

  • Put your phone on Airplane mode before engaging in a conversation with someone.
  • Shut the door to the room where you are having the conversation.
  • Focus solely on the conversation that is happening right there, where you are (yep, shut down your computer, too).

By doing these three simple things, you are already doing better. You’re prioritizing the speaker, minimizing distractions, and preparing what could become a meaningful conversation with a fellow human being.

Now, follow these eight tips to facilitate more meaningful conversations with your friends, customers, bosses, coworkers – you name it.

Tip #1: Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Remember how we said that good listeners didn’t just stand silently by? Show that you are actively listening by periodically asking questions that drive the conversation forward.

Stuck for ideas? Just follow the example of four-year-olds: “Why?”

Asking for more detail does more than just fill silences. It also helps you drill down a customer/reader/prospects/coworker’s intent to a specific level.

Now, to be clear, don’t actually emulate a four-year-old and interject “but why?” at the end of every sentence. Rather, try strategically rephrasing parts of the conversation and asking to elaborate. For example, when talking to a colleague:

I noticed you said that you like tracking metrics with [this tool]. Why is that?”

Now, you cannot drive a conversation forward by asking “why” alone. Asking intentional questions shows the speaker that you heard what they said, understood it, and want more detail.

Some examples of intentional questions include:

  • How did that make you feel?
  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • Why do you think that is?
  • I thought what you said about _______ was interesting. Can you elaborate on that?

Simply put, asking good questions makes you a better listener, better marketer, better friend, better spouse – you name it.

Tip #2: Be Empathetic

Empathy is a life skill, plain and simple. Like many other like skills, some people naturally have more of it than others. Even if you are not a naturally empathetic person, you can hone this skill over time.

Business is, at its most basic form, the act of meeting someone else’s needs. How else will you understand what those needs are without empathy?

Try to understand what your customer’s pain points and desires are – through their perspective. Not yours.

As you try to hone your empathy skills, you may find that you become naturally more curious about what your customers are experiencing. Curiosity is a part of what many experts call “generous listening.” Philosophy professor Milton Mayeroff describes generous listening in his book, On Caring:

“To care for another person, I must be able to understand him and his world as if I were inside it… I must be able to be with him in his world, ‘going’ into his world in order to see from ‘inside’ what life is like for him.”

Being curious about another person’s perspective is more than just good business – it frames good copywriting, it creates better UX, and forms healthier relationships, both professionally and personally.

Tip #3: Take Quality Notes

You might already be a meticulous notetaker. Most of us Type A people in marketing are. However, the nature of your note taking also matters. If you are jotting things down without understanding them and the insights they provide about other people, they’re pretty useless, no?

Take Lots of Notes
Instead of jotting things down at random, be deliberate in your note taking technique.

Sabina Nawaz, CEO and executive coach, recommends trying what she calls the Margin Note technique. Using this method allows you to make better connections, process information more effectively, and ultimately ask better questions to produce healthy conversation. It’s simple, yet effective. Here’s the gist:

  • If using a digital document, set your pages with a wider margin than usual. In the body of your notes, you will only write down what the person is saying (go for larger themes as opposed to verbatim).
  • On the other column, use the margin section to write down impressions, rebuttals, and questions that may arise from each of the points. In a literal sense, you have an opportunity to set your own voice aside and make space for the opinions of others.
When there is time for you to speak, you have the opportunity to talk about the notes from your side of the column. Prioritize them and cross them off as you go. Try it in your next meeting and see the difference it makes in your listening and comprehension skills!

Tip #4: Provide Recaps Throughout the Conversation

Time to bring out your amateur sports announcer. To occupy your restless mind, try restating a customer’s or users talking points as you go.

An infamous Harvard study using an iPhone app found that 50% of people who were supposed to be focused on a present task were actually doing something else.

If you’re in any kind of customer relations, this is not a good look.

One of the best ways to force your wandering mind back to the present is by restating their talking points. Double check their message and intent by using expressions like:

“What I am hearing you saying is….”

“Do you mean….?”

Over time, you’ll find that using this technique helps you:

  • Process what other people are actually saying
  • Pay attention to acknowledge a speaker’s feelings and intent
  • Convey that you understand and hear the other person’s thoughts (which makes them feel more valued).

Want a simple transitional word for these conversations? According to a TED talk by Julian Treasure, that magic word is “So.”

 

Tip #5: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues

Most of us know that communication is so much more than what we say. Crossed arms are a universal sign of defensiveness, for example.

In a world dominated by tools like texting messaging and Slack, it is understandable that we all could use a little work improving our deductive reasoning of body language. Most of us communicate through screens more than we do in person.

At the same time, it’s those little things – the twitch of an eyebrow, a shadow of a smile – that let us know what another person is thinking. Read more about body language cues.

Unfortunately, widespread use of devices has seriously impeded our ability to connect and read emotions. And it is starting to take its toll. A study published by UCLA found that sixth grade children – digital natives — who watched a video on silent and were asked to infer emotions scored miserably.

A note of good news however – when half of these children untethered from their devices for five days and went to a nature camp (where they had to have face-to-face interactions), their scores improved considerably.

What does this tell us? For one, devices are bad for our ability to discern intent. For another, that we can undo some of the damage by actually talking to one another. Weird, right?

Tip #6: Listen To The “Edges”

As humans, we are hardwired with a need to belong. This is one of the most extensively researched motivations in psychology and harkens back to our need to collaborate to survive.

Your customer, your target user, your prospect, your reader – they want to connect with you. Like all other humans, they want to be understood and embraced, even in little ways, throughout their day.

To truly understand a person, try listening to the “edges” of a conversation. These are the tiny details that, when combined, can spell the sum of a speaker’s intent. Edges can include:

  • The pitch, ebb, and flow of a speaker’s voice
  • Pauses in between words
  • Lulls where a speaker might need a prompt to keep going

Note that patterns and where changes occur in a person’s manner of speaking. These are where the opportunities to connect arise.

Tip #7: Make a Conscious Effort to Quiet Your Mind

Be silent, be still. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but, in today’s bustling, technology-laden world, it’s actually difficult.  One of the easiest ways to really experience silence is through meditation.

Meditation is not something that comes to most people naturally. Intrusive thoughts – “Am I doing this right?” “Is it working?” will inevitably occur. You can’t expect to master meditation the first time you try it. Keep working on it with the help of a beginner-friendly app like Headspace or Calm.

Then, try applying what you learned to listening – actually listening – to another person’s conversation. Be mindful, be in the moment.

Tip #8: Pay Attention to the Layers in the Noise

The next time you’re in a crowded space, like a restaurant during a dinner rush, take a moment to appreciate the activity that surrounds you.

There’s the clatter of dishes as a busy waitstaff clears plates. The sizzle of a steak as it hits a searing hot pan. Murmurs of conversation and a big belly laugh. These are the sounds of business, family, connection.

Listen in by dividing what you hear into sound layers. Acknowledge the impatient toddler wail at table 5 and the sound of a spoon swirling sugar into a coffee cup at the counter. When you practice identifying and appreciating these layers of sound, you will get better at turning some up, tuning some out, and focusing on what is most important to you. Like all other listening skills, this is something of an art form you fine-tune over time.

How else can you hone these abilities? Brown University auditory neuroscientist Seth Horowitz recommends:

  • Listening to new, unfamiliar music
  • Acknowledging your dog’s barks and whines
  • Paying attention to the cadence and candor of your spouse’s voice

When you pay attention to the details in your world, your listening skills strengthen.

How to get better at listening

Putting It All Together

“I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.” – Thuli Madonsela

So, the next time you have a conversation with a client, try applying the tips we have outlined above. Think about the intent of the customer, pay attention to details like body language and intonation, and use prompts and phrases to make sure they know you understand them. Being a great listener takes practice. However since communication is the root of all human connection, we would say that it is a journey well worth taking.

Avatar for Chris Weatherall

Chris Weatherall

President and SEO Strategist Chris has over a decade and a half of website development, SEO and organic link building experience. He manages the strategy for each client and drives the search engine rankings and traffic Eminent SEO is known for. When you hire Eminent you hire Chris, which means you have a veteran organic search expert on your team. Oh, and he’s funny too!

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When Drug Rehab Marketing and Sales Fail: Why Tracking Keeps Them Aligned

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Drug Rehab Fail: Got Tracking

There’s an all too common phenomenon in companies across America that lives in marketing departments. In fact, it’s the last place we’d think would have this problem, but it’s not just evident; it’s a cesspool of inefficiency rooted in a lack of communication. Really? In the marketing department comprised of so-called experts in the field of communication? Yes.

And it’s no different with drug rehab marketing and sales. In actuality, this conundrum makes the addiction treatment business more challenging. We thought we’d provide some relief by sharing why tracking your efforts keeps your business better aligned.

Visual Cues Show Evidence of Addiction Treatment Marketing Mismatches

Let’s start with a simple illustration to represent ad marketing misalignment. First, hold up your right and left hands in front of you. The left hand represents your sales; your right hand represents marketing strategy and execution. Now, instead of your hands facing each other, they look in opposite directions. How can they work together when they are having separate conversations?

In order for sales and marketing to work cohesively, they must be agile and fluid, yet able to shake hands. If you haven’t taken a look at what your website is ranking for on a monthly basis, it holds the key in what you’re hitting and what you’re missing in client retention and prospect reach. It starts with a plan.

Not two plans — a single plan that encompasses sales and marketing in a way that champions both modalities and sets up a success matrix that is only achievable if they work together. Yeah, I know, good luck with that.

Sales and Marketing – Getting Past the Egos

Since the advent of advertising, sales was the evil stepchild of creative that spun into marketing as well. According to sales, marketing doesn’t know their head from their … well, you know what I mean. It could be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious fatal flaw to most companies. In truth, sales needs marketing to help them reach a large audience. In turn, marketing needs sales to better understand their customers, their industry and the need that brings them all together. Sales and marketing are best utilized as a collective funnel, not segmented silos that never touch.

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, research helps build a case for this business model: “When sales and marketing get on the same page, companies see, on average, a 67 percent improvement in closing sales and a 36 percent increase in customer retention.”

When you lead with your product or service, it creates a shared goal between sales and marketing that is much easier to accept and deliver on.

Organize Your Goals by Monitoring Inbounds and Outbounds

You could be spending more money than your competition, but if you’re not doing anything to track it, you’re throwing money and time down the drain. And unless you’ve just won the billion-dollar lottery, your drug rehab probably isn’t looking for a business loss to offset gains.

If you’ve got any broad scope marketing plan in place (and if you’re a new addiction treatment facility or service, pay attention) watch where your admits are coming from. Inbound marketing, which includes web content, social media and search engine optimization (SEO), is useful in getting your company brand and associated stories out into the world. Just because it’s award-winning creative doesn’t mean it’s getting results.

Make sure you have a person within your organization or external agency keeping a watchful eye on the responsiveness and overall engagement of each. See how often specific webpages, blogs, videos and other social content are viewed. From there, you’ll know what’s getting the most interest and where you need to make adjustments.

Outbound marketing is a different animal and not for the thin-skinned. It’s found in:

  • Event marketing
  • Telemarketing
  • Radio and TV spots
  • Press releases
  • Billboards
  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • The use of swag

To put it simply, outbound marketing casts the widest net of reach to consumers or B2B, with less desirable results because there is less of a niche to the audience.

Make sure to take an accounting of what inbound and outbound efforts rein in as far as ROI, and then alter the percentages where needed to get the desired results.

Lead Generation Results Are Multi-Layered, with Value in Each

Difference between Hot, Medium, and Cold Leads

Everyone wants the hot leads, the ones that respond to exactly what you have to offer and are ready to convert, now. Striking while the iron is hot is great for sales, though many forget the value of warm and even cold leads, especially in the addiction treatment and recovery space. Here’s why:

  • Often, it takes a prospect multiple media impressions before they go “hot.”
  • Cold leads may provide touchpoints for outbound marketing:
    • Wider net of outreach.
    • Most people know someone with a drug or alcohol problem.
    • Can help build referral base.

With any lead generation program, be sure to segment your leads and respond in the best manner possible to generate the most appeal for hot, warm and cold leads.

Web Chat Delivers in an Instant

To enhance the ability to capture leads as soon as they come to your website, consider using a web chat service. With it, you never miss an opportunity to engage with a prospect because the system does it for you.

The benefits to web chat are numerous and include:

  • Immediate engagement
  • Segments leads (hot, warm, cold)
  • HIPAA-compliant marketing tool
  • Secure and password protected
  • Delivers each lead to your email, mobile device or both
  • Increases leads, on average, from 35% to 40%

Understanding your cost per lead (per method used) may rule out some of what you’re already doing to bring in prospects and conversions. If your beds aren’t full, maybe it’s time to be open to suggestions.

Tracking Drug Rehab Sales and Marketing Is Only as Good as the Analysis

No one’s expecting you to be a solid expert on Google Analytics and other pertinent SEO integration. Whether you decide to take on those skills yourself or hire an expert who eats, drinks and sleeps that business, what these numbers tell you should dictate what you do in marketing and how sales should support the initiatives.

Results Are Learning Tools that Need to Be Applied for Growth

If your best idea received a cool reception from your lead gen campaigns or social media, dive deep into the numbers and responsiveness (or lack of) to look for silver lining. It’s always there even if the numbers aren’t. Perhaps your messaging was great but the timing was off. Whatever you do, don’t table it into the forever furnace. Archive it, as you could repurpose some or all of it in the future.

Revisit Addiction Treatment Marketing Spends Often

Consumers are fickle. Challenging as that is, it also provides an easy ability to reset a wrong and make it right.

Through reporting and client surveys, as well as ongoing interaction with your staff, you can reconfigure where your marketing dollars are better spent and devise a mix that reaches:

  1. Untreated clients/new prospects
  2. Family or friends of No. 1 above
  3. Alumni of your program/service
    • Success stories/testimonials
    • Former clients who have relapsed

Formulate an annual addiction treatment marketing budget and keep some dollars available for golden opportunities that may come about throughout the year, such as an industry co-sponsorship (special event or nonprofit organization), public relations opportunities and more. We recommend a multi-channel or cross-channel marketing approach.

Social Media Needs an Active Voice

Working Together to reach your goals
The whole point of social media is to create an active forum for people to receive information, develop a personal voice (applies to businesses, too) and share them on an ongoing basis. It’s all about engagement with your followers and enticing more people to join your group and become something greater than themselves. It’s what we all want.

Now, let’s dial this in to drug rehab sales and marketing. Social media is all about stories. In fact, Facebook recently added another engagement tool to their platform and called it “The Story.” Twitter may be removing its “like” button in the hopes that its users engage through more commentary instead of a feeble click of an icon.

Salespeople are full of stories and often use them to engage prospects, which ultimately lead to conversions. It’s how sales connects with their clients. Marketing creates stories to connect with prospects, existing clients and their referrals. If only sales and marketing could be on the same page with their stories….

They can.

Bring More Admits by Pulling Drug Rehab Marketing and Sales Together

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Vol. 80: Here’s Why You Need a Live Chat Feature on Your Website

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Vol 80 Newsletter Live Web Chat - Eminent SEO

Give ‘Em Something to Chat About

More and more website owners are infusing their site with live chat tools. This is an especially smart choice for websites with service and product offerings. The potential ROI is just too enticing to pass up.

A web chat pop-up feature might seem like a minor annoyance at first – to both you and your visitors – but studies are showing that this feature helps more than it harms.

Among the many benefits of adding a chat feature to a website, consider:

  • It helps build a more memorable brand experience.
  • It gives visitors a place to turn if they get stuck and need any questions answered quickly. In other words, it improves your customer service.
  • You can offer visitors special deals and deliver price quotes in real time through the chat module.
  • It gives you a sense of which pages and products that users are visiting most when they reach out with questions.
  • It allows you to consolidate your resources: You can have one person manage multiple chats at once, and you can develop canned responses to common questions.
  • You can use it as a lead-nurturing tool. HubSpot says 99% of first-time website visitors aren’t ready to buy. You can nudge them closer to purchase by chatting with them directly.

At Eminent SEO, web chat is just one component of a comprehensive marketing campaign we can develop for your business.

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Live Chat Feature Takeaway

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The beauty in adding live web chat to your website is that it provides a vehicle for consumer engagement, bringing a true and unique user experience at the precise moment you have their attention.

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Adding A Web Chat Feature To Your Website - Eminent SEO

Why Adding a Web Chat Feature to Your Website Gives You a Market Advantage

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Business & Marketing Tips: The Best Live Chat Software for YOUR Website

Top 11 Live Web Chat Apps For Customer Service - Eminent SEOIf you answer yes to any of these three questions, then your website is a good candidate for a new chat feature:

  1. Do you sell goods/services on your site?
  2. Does your website attract a community that would benefit from more engagement?
  3. Are you (or somebody at your company) available to respond to chat inquires regularly?

The best web chat software for your site will depend on your website goals and your budget. For some small businesses, it makes sense to focus more on simplicity and ease of use, while other, more technical companies might want a more robust offering that can serve as more than just a live web chat platform.

In our chart below, our criteria heavily favors software whose primary purpose is providing live customer support, rather than helpdesk/tech support or serving as a team chat or CMS platform. The chart features of 11 of the top web chat products to consider for your website.

Click on the image below to see a larger version. Please note that we have no affiliation with any of the following products; we just want to help you make an informed decision.

Comparison Chart Live Web Chat Software Programs - ESEO(Click to Enlarge)

Keep in mind that all of these recommended products offer a free trial, which will allow you to see how well they fit your company’s needs before committing.

Closing Thoughts

Multi Channels Icons For Tablet - ESEOWeb chat is just one piece of the larger marketing puzzle. You need to take a multi-channel marketing approach. This means leveraging your website, social media, email, Google My Business, PPC and several other direct and indirect “channels” in order to interact with prospects and encourage them to take a specific action.

Learn More About Our Marketing Approach

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Chris Weatherall

President and SEO Strategist Chris has over a decade and a half of website development, SEO and organic link building experience. He manages the strategy for each client and drives the search engine rankings and traffic Eminent SEO is known for. When you hire Eminent you hire Chris, which means you have a veteran organic search expert on your team. Oh, and he’s funny too!

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What’s the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer? Which Does My Business Need?

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Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer - Eminent SEO

When discussing website construction, the terms web designer and web developer are very often used interchangeably. To the laity, both of these titles simply describe a person whose career is building websites for businesses, and to an extent they are right. However, web designers and web developers work in two separate, but often closely related, spheres of website production.

While the roles of web developers and web designers are different, both work hand in hand in order to create a visually stunning and structurally sound website. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities between these two types of professionals to help you decide which one you need for your business.

What Is a Web Designer?

Web Design vs Web Development Work Together - Eminent SEOA web designer’s job is all about capturing the essence of a client’s vision and transforming it into a model of a potential website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. Similar to the way an engineer is responsible for designing the blueprints and models for a bridge before construction begins, a web designer’s task is to create the look and feel of a website before the web developer can bring it to life.

A good web designer will be equal parts artist and craftsman, possessing both a solid understanding of design theory, as well as the technological limitations faced by the development team in charge of building the website.

A web designer’s job description includes skills such as:

  • Knowledge and proficiency in both logo and graphic design
  • An understanding of design theory, including flow, color, spacing, balance and proportion.
  • An intuitive feel for creating the best user experience for a website’s visitors
  • In-depth knowledge of software tools such as Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Canva
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the latest trends in the design world

What Is a Web Developer?

A web developer’s job is to take the models and sketches for a website created by the web designer and turn them into fully functional webpages. If the web designer’s role can be likened to that of an engineer or architect, consider the web developer as a sort of construction worker responsible for building the website from the ground up.

Web development can be broken down into two main categories: front-end development and back-end development.

The Front-End Web Developer

The front end of a website is what visitors will see and interact with on their browser. Also known as the “client side,” the front end consists of all of the text, images, colors, buttons, internal links and menus that the user experiences directly.

In short, the front-end developer is responsible for making sure that the visitor experiences an error-free website that looks exactly how the web designer envisioned it.

There are three primary coding languages used by front-end developers. These languages are:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
  • Javascript (JS)
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

The Back-End Web Developer

A website’s back end refers to the portion of a website that a visitor will never directly experience, and is made up of three parts: an application, a server and a database. The back end serves as the link between the server and the website’s visitors.

The majority of the code for the web application can be found on the back end. It’s important to keep in mind that poor coding on the back end will translate to a sluggish, glitchy performance on the front end.

Back-end coding languages differ from front-end coding languages, and include:

  • Python
  • PHP
  • Ruby on Rails
  • SQL
  • Java
  • NET

A backend developer is responsible for making sure that all of the right data gets sent from the server to the browser. If the front end is the 10 percent of the iceberg that floats above the water’s surface, the back end is the other 90 percent that remains submerged.

Which of These Professionals Should Your Business Use?

Web designers and web developers are both crucial players in creating an awesome website for your business, so it only makes sense to recruit the help of both.

There’s a reason why the saying “two heads are better than one” has been around for so long: because it’s the truth! When a proficient designer and developer collaborate, they can make magic happen. These two groups of professionals each bring a unique set of skills to the table, both of which are vital to the success of a website project.

The Importance of Working Together

Front End Website 10 Percent Back End 10 Percent - Eminent SEOHaving the design and development teams work side by side ensures that everyone is able to plan and execute the project efficiently and effectively. Allowing the design team to run their sketches and mockups for the website past the development team on an ongoing basis guarantees that the initial design approved by the client is both practical and achievable.

After all, as a client, you never want to hear that the design team bit off more than they could chew halfway through a project.

Not only is working together from day one a surefire way to avoid many costly and time-consuming setbacks, it allows two different types of creative minds to work in synergy, creating a website that not only meets but exceeds the client’s expectations.

Additional benefits of hiring a close-knit team of web designers and developers include:

  • Having multiple sets of eyes on every stage of website construction, identifying and correcting flaws and mistakes as they arise
  • The opportunity for creative brainstorming between both right-brain thinkers (designers) and left-brain thinkers (developers)
  • Mutual accountability between the two teams
  • A finished product where the aesthetic elements complement the interactive elements, and vice versa

Despite the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer, Should I Hire a Hybrid Specialist?

If you are looking to build a website for your business but have only a limited budget for the project, it might be tempting to hire a single person playing the role of a hybrid designer-developer. This approach may work for some businesses owners, especially those looking for a fairly basic website and are not overly concerned with visitor engagement and conversion. However, like most things in life, you are likely to get what you pay for.

A so-called “jack of all trades” is unlikely to possess a deep understanding of both web design and web development, which means that projects tend to take longer to complete, and the final product is unlikely to live up to your, and even their, expectations.

Moving Forward

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between the web designer and the web developer, and just how important each role is in creating the perfect website for your business.

If you still have questions about the various considerations that go into building a website, come check out our website design and development page and learn more about how the expert team of designers and developers at Eminent SEO can help you grow your business and your web presence.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Why Your Business’s Marketing Budget Needs to Increase This Year

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Increase Your Marketing Budget Needs - Eminent SEO
Whether your fiscal year begins in January or July, what you allot for marketing budget has much to do about what you believe you’re supposed to spend. And this belief could be founded on formulas or equations that have been passed on by business owners or prior leadership within your organization. Who knows? It could be from something you found after searching online (like that ever happens).

The following insights are my effort to help you discern between industry folklore and the reality of your marketing budget needs – to reassess this year, and to plan to make next year more pennywise instead of pound foolish.

The Life Cycle of Marketing Budget Creation

The very term budget, when spoken, heard and visualized, immediately invokes numbers and, for some, nausea, especially after a lackluster sales performing year. Before you ever get to working those numbers that will set up many marketing decisions to come, you need to take some vital steps to ensure that the budget will truly have a fair shake in supporting your endeavors. And these steps have little to do with dollars.

Keys to Successful Marketing Budgets Life Cycle - Eminent SEO

Take a Good, Hard Look at Who You Really Are

As you’ve probably already guessed, there is no steadfast rule on just how much of your overall business budget should be dedicated to marketing efforts. Because every business vertical is different, so too are the marketing needs of each enterprise, eventually effecting the spend necessary to get the desired goals achieved.

If you are a consumer-based company with a product or service as your calling card, the marketing budget will undoubtedly be costlier and more general-public-facing than if your company catered to B2B markets.

Marketing Budget Mistake #1: Not truly understanding your own brand.

If you haven’t taken the time to establish your company brand, there’s a trickle down of miscommunication that ensues. This will assuredly result in missing the mark on your audience, sales and client acquisition and retention.

Now Remember What Your Clients Really Look Like

Company owners, marketing directors (no matter how good you are) and creative geniuses often carry a level of delusion about whom their product or service attracts. In our minds, we glamorize who we are and, in turn, who our audience is.

There’s nothing like that swift kick in the butt during a public appearance, conference or trade show that wakes us up into, “Oh…so you’re our customers…” This resets brand messaging and affects marketing spends.

Marketing Budget Mistake #2: Having no clue about your customer base.

Once your business accurately connects with your product or service audience, then your marketing messaging can speak to their needs through your brand to nurture long-term relationships, referral business and conversions on both fronts.

Where to spend your marketing budget is, in large part, founded on the places most likely to capture your audience. Now’s the time to switch hats (no, not to a black hat), to take off that corporate hat and be your customer.

If You Were Your Client, How Would They Find You?

Before you start adding line items to your marketing budget for what remains this year and planning for the next-year spend, consider the human behaviors of your customers. Think about their physical attributes, emotional needs, mental acumen and anguish, even their insecurities. Because somewhere in all of that is the place(s) where you will identify strategic pinpoints in their days to hit them with who you are and why they can’t live without you. This is the sweet spot.

Cross-Channel Marketing Maximizes Your Budget Spend

As long as you’re spending money to get more business, set up your marketing in a way that boosts each campaign through heightened reach and stronger impressions. You can achieve this when you use multiple marketing channels that cross-promote one another.

Marketing Budget Mistake #3: Deploying one-off initiatives.

Need an example? If you are spending money on pay-per-click campaigns, be sure to include hyperlinks within the campaign landing page that keep visitors on your website, possibly leading to a product or service page, or even to a blog post.

For more traditional marketing, if you’re advertising on a radio station (yes, companies still do that), make sure you get value adds through a presence on the radio station’s website or have your radio spot mention a promo code for a special deal – but one that only applies if the customer goes to your website or calls and mentions the promo code.

It isn’t just about capturing your audience: You have to tell them what to do and where to go. Your business leads your customers, but they must feel as though they are in control. Sounds like a personal relationship, doesn’t it? Yeah…it is.

Once You’ve Found Them, Spend Your Money on Keeping Them

In sales, it’s all about keeping the conversation going. “No” is just no today; it could be a “yes” tomorrow. This is the premise regarding social media engagement. Foster the relationship. Talk about things that matter to you and your audience. Give them something to think about, talk about and share to get others talking about it. Be informative, yet entertaining. If you do social right, your followers do the work for you.

Marketing Budget Mistake #4: Relying on social paid boosts alone.

Annual Marketing Budget Toward Online Initiatives Statistic - Eminent SEOMany companies scramble to increase their followers, likes, views or shares by paying to boost Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts. Until your social presence gets a solid footing, the practice of boosting may be a necessary evil. But don’t count on it as a long-term strategy.

Working a social platform well is all about building your profile and followers organically. Like every other marketing program, it’s a long game usually played for 90 days to 18 months before seeing real, consistent results. You can’t just put your big toe in it. Jump in wholeheartedly and get your hair wet!

What to include in your market budget going forward:

  • Social videos
  • Search engine optimized content
  • Online chat programming
  • Blog outreach (backlinks, linking to other sites, guest bloggers)
  • Email drip campaigns (enough touchpoints and upsells without being annoying)
  • Direct response marketing (extremely targeted campaigns)
  • Public relations (it’s free!)

Best Practices After the Marketing Budget Needs Are Set in Stone

Keep a certain amount of marketing dollars fluid. Meaning…give your business some cush. Without having some extra funds available to use at your discretion, your business may miss golden opportunities that you couldn’t have planned for, but nonetheless have presented themselves out of left field.

In addition, many companies experience the fourth-quarter panic, where any remaining funds from a current year’s marketing budget must be spent or they lose it. This phenomenon is common in the VAR (value-added reseller) market. Therefore, the best way to avoid this panic is to keep on top of your marketing month to month.

Reassess marketing initiatives every 30-60-90 days to ensure there are no gaps in the life cycle of your marketing budget (noted earlier in this article). By staying tuned into your plan while it’s in action, it allows for a nimbleness that enhances marketing scalability. This strategy also empowers creative agility when needed, allowing you to keep your budget running lean while having room for unexpected marketing opportunities that will undoubtedly arise throughout the year. They always do.

Recommended Market Budget Spend

The following figures reflect how you should allocate your marketing dollars, based on industry trends and consumer behavior forecasts:

  • Online marketing – 45% of your overall marketing budget, broken down into:
    • Search engine marketing – 47%
    • Social media – 25%
    • Online video – 11%
    • Other online channels – 17%

Budgeting for online marketing is on the increase while traditional media advertising spends continue to drop year after year. According to eMarketer, “TV ad spending is 35.08 percent of total media … total digital ad spending is 38.4 percent of total media.”

These figures are for 2017 and represent how consumer behavior has shifted, and continues to shift, toward online screen usage (mobile platforms).

Stay Open to Sharing Costs

One aspect of your marketing budget that you may overlook in the planning stages is in shared sponsorships or co-op dollar spends. This is when your business can partner with another company and share the marketing opportunity.

The cost to participate in these programs is decreased as the expense is shared, and when done right, the benefits far outweigh the dollars spent. Moreover, the relationship between you and the business(es) in cooperative marketing efforts provides a seamless exchange between audiences.

Co-op marketing advantages include:

  • Your business engages your current customers.
  • Your business engages new prospects.
  • The business increases its market reach.
  • Increased market reach occurs at reduced cost.

Can’t See the Fund Forests from the Trees

Sometimes, we can put emotion and ego into our business and the decisions we make about the business. It’s hard not to. Your business is your baby. However, one of the most difficult, yet loving things you can do for your business is to let go of it.

Refer your online marketing strategy to a third party who can review your company goals, marketing budget spend and short- and long-term missions to devise a solid plan that will make the most out of your marketing dollars without shedding a tear.

Here’s Where Sales and Marketing Collide and Thrive

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Business Success Guide: Rise and Shine with These Hacks

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Business Success Guide Rise And Shine - Eminent SEO

In an era of ever-changing consumer tastes and preferences, challenges have become the dominant constants in every sector. Industries that hitherto thrived on traditional business methods are now faced with the challenge of business success in the age of competition.

So, which factors scale up productivity and ultimately bring about success? It’s quite straightforward. Rather than dwelling on the setbacks, here are top hacks that can help your business to rise and shine.

Set Up a Business Website

Getting ahead of your competition is no easy task, and when aiming to achieve optimum business success, your to-do list will never end. That said, setting up a business website is one way to stand out from your competition. Don’t take shortcuts. It is imperative to have a website that tells both potential and existing customers that you mean business.

In fact, most consumer business purchase decisions start with a search engine. So, what does this mean for your business? First impressions count. By now, it’s clear that a great business website is crucial for business success.

Improve Workflow Organization

Time tracking and workflow organization allow both management and staff to keep track of projects as well as goal progress. You can optimize and implement a system for tracking employee workloads and responsibilities. If an employee is getting off track, it’s immediately identified, and an opportunity for a timely correction is provided.

Such a system should also facilitate clear communication between employees to allow them to sync their short-term and long-term goals. Also, this type of system should help you look at the business process from the view of a regular employee. From there, you could draft a clearer map of workflow organization.

Utilize Emerging Technologies

Establish Your Brand Quote Danielle Knox - Eminent SEOToday’s ideal workplace involves instant communication and mass access of data and information. Providing employees with the latest technology allows them to perform their duties on time and with minimal effort.

Sure, implementing the latest tech can come at a cost, but consider the outcome. You’ll save countless hours and increase employee productivity. Moreover, online-based tools and technologies reduce cost and improve efficiency. Here are some examples:

  • E-conferencing: Today’s workforce is no longer constrained by geographical boundaries. Innovations in cloud computing and faster internet allow business meetings to go on without being chained to one specific physical location.
  • E-purchasing: Online purchasing is an alternative way to get goods or services from a supplier’s store. While electronic purchasing is extremely competitive, it helps improve customer service, reduce the cost of the transaction and improve profitability.

Keep Employees Happy

So, how do you ensure that your employees are happy? Foster employee empowerment, development and appreciation.

Employee Empowerment

Empowerment entails giving your employees the autonomy to make important decisions. However, note that employee empowerment is not about management relinquishing all authority. Instead, it’s about trusting your staff to make certain decisions based on their individual capabilities.

Employee empowerment fosters a sense of independence in an organization. As a result, the workplace becomes flexible. Staff members are most productive when satisfied, appreciated and indulged in decision making.

Encourage and provide active learning and development for your employees to help them hone their professional skills. This way, they can take on the challenges that come with decision making.

Positive Reinforcement

Set Up Business Website Get One Yesterday Quote - Eminent SEOWhile training and employee empowerment are a great start, you also have to motivate, encourage and reward. A gloomy workplace reduces productivity.

Whatever needs to be done to cheer up your team, do it: Order pizza at work; offer free tea…the list is endless.

Try to show employees that the company is concerned for them. For instance, offer personalized incentives for outstanding individuals.

Collaborating with insurance companies to provide car insurance for employees can be another way of rewarding them.

Remember, when your staff members are motivated, improved productivity is a priority on their to-do list. A study conducted by the University of Warwick indicates that motivated employees are at least 12 percent more productive.

Instill a Continuous Improvement Approach

Improving business success is an ongoing process. As a result, you must set up a flexible plan to help you develop a continuous improvement approach. Start by assessing what successful businesses in your industry do. However, do not copy. Though you might be in the same industry, what works for them might not work for your business.

The next step in establishing a continuous improvement approach is identifying your weaknesses. If you feel that your decision cannot be impartial, seek external help in order to get an objective viewpoint on the areas to improve. After identifying the strengths and weaknesses, look for a breakthrough. Continuous improvement facilitates success without necessarily incurring more cost.

Commit to Excellent Customer Service

Employees are the people behind the scenes of a business’s success. But customers are the focal point of any business. To improve your business success rate, you must focus on both existing and potential customers.

Excellent customer service entails making sure your products and services fulfill the customer’s need. No matter your business niche, you can make customers feel valued and appreciated. Satisfied customers are an asset. Ask for feedback, opinions and suggestions to better fulfill the customer’s (and future customers’) needs.

Take Calculated Risks

Many businesses spend a lot of time trying to predict all possible unfavorable outcomes. But this is nearly impossible. Sometimes, when making business decisions, you might feel like you are in a life-or-death situation. But inaction will prohibit progress and iterations that get your business closer to success.

Always seek to disrupt yourself from your comfort zone and take calculated risks to stay ahead in a dynamic world. Trust your instincts and have grit.

Business Success Guide Final Tip: Embrace Technology and Change

The aforementioned mentioned hacks can result in notable changes in a business’s success. If your business has not embraced technology, it’s time. Technology will allow you to tap into a vast network of connections and exponentially expand your market.

When stakes are higher and the playing field wider, it is imperative that you make your business flexible to change. Seriously assess how your business is currently operating and be open to any potential changes. In other words, always strive to measure your success to see if your business is truly moving forward.

Learn How to Align Your Sales & Marketing Teams

 
Helen Cartwright Writer HeadshotNote: This is a guest blog post written by Helen Cartwright.

See more from Helen at http://www.helencartwright.com/

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Why Adding a Web Chat Feature to Your Website Gives You a Market Advantage

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Adding A Web Chat Feature To Your Website - Eminent SEO
As a business owner, you take pride in the products or services you provide to others. If you are a strategic marketer representing a business, part of your action plan includes positioning your client in a manner that maximizes their visibility and entices a specific audience to ultimately convert a sale. It isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here’s why.

Over the last decade, the sales cycle got so…much…longer. Conversely, though, human behavior dictates instant gratification. How could one possibly merge the two effectively? By adding a chat feature to your website, you’ll get in front of interested parties faster, increasing conversion rates by 30 percent or more.

Patience Has Lost Its Virtue

Customers Abandon Online Purchase Statistic Forrester Report - Eminent SEOThe adage “good things come to those who wait” was created long before internet technology came about. True, many savvy would-be buyers take their time before making a purchase decision, but the process has drastically changed from when Baby Boomers were young. (Ugh!)

Now, Gen X and Y dominate the eCommerce playing field, with Generation Z moving up quickly. To these three consumer targets, patience was never looked at as a virtue, but a complete waste of time.

The sales cycle has become lengthy; just ask any salesperson in the tech, automotive, real estate or retail fields – to name a few. Before people could pull up Google and search for answers, they would have to rely on physically entering a brick-and-mortar store and trusting the knowledge of the on-site sales staff.

Today, consumers intermittently search online for months, gathering information, comparing products, pricing and associated reviews. While some will continue online through the end of the sales cycle and purchase via a shopping cart, others take the time to go to the physical business to get a feel for the product or service, its people and culture before buying. And even then, they often go back to the virtual store to make the purchase.

How to Turn Today’s Searchers into Immediate Buyers

Let’s turn the focus on you for a moment. After all, you’re a part of the same buying pool as everyone else. You’re reading this blog online; we all live in the virtual space, more than many of us are aware of or would like to admit. As such, we put an incredible amount of emphasis on not only what we find online, but also on what others say about their life experiences offline.

Simply open Facebook or Twitter and there’s a variety of rant available to read. There are also the ever-popular puppy or foodie posts all magnified through the ability to reply, comment or chat. So why not capture customers in the manner they’ve already grown accustomed to?

Chat It Up

Introducing web chat for business. Think of it as a robust layer to online presence that gets you in front of customers and prospects faster than anything else. You already know the benefits of individualized customer service when a customer comes to meet you face to face: It gives you the opportunity to be of service and to sell with the advantage of ongoing engagement.

Web chat provides the same opportunity – by allowing you to meet consumers where they are the moment they are on your website. Any business without web chat defines “you snooze, you lose.”

Strike When the Iron Is Hot

The advantages of having web chat mirror the same principles as the three-second rule in advertising: As a business owner, you have about three seconds (if you’re lucky) to get the attention of your audience – whether it be through an old school print ad, radio or television commercial, pay-per-click channel, etc. Why? Because people have zero attention span. And the attraction of the next great swipe and scroll makes it easy to lose your audience to your competition.

The beauty in adding live web chat to your website is that it provides a vehicle for consumer engagement, bringing a true and unique user experience at the precise moment you have their attention. Moreover, people tend to make purchases when there is an emotional connection between themselves and a product or service.

Sample Sites that Use Web Chat to Increase Sales

Car Dealers

Chapman BMW Chandler Homepage Live Chat Button - ESEO

Retailers

Zappos Homepage Live Chat Menu Feature - ESEO

Food & Beverage

Winedotcom Homepage Live Chat PopUp - ESEOAn unexpected web chat pop-up might not be well received in every instance, but the conversion rates it brings are well worth the annoyance it sometimes invites. But, as you can see in the three examples above, there are various levels of discretion when it comes to offering a chat option on a website.

It’s up to your business (and the tool you choose) if you want the chat to pop up automatically or if you want the user to make the first contact. It will probably take some tinkering (A/B testing, perhaps) to figure out what speaks to your visitors the most.

Brand Recognition Lasts Longer with a Personal Experience

Imagine you’re looking for a pair of jeans. Yes, the search can be a conundrum, and more so when attempting to find the right fit from a website. What are the chances of having to return whatever you purchased? Pretty good, I’d say.

But if you have a web chat available at the time a shopper is looking at a specific item, before they click on a size, the user could ask how the sizes typically run or how much “give” there is to the fabric, for example. Now that buyer has been given accurate information, there is more comfort and trust in the product, and potentially an increase in product purchases and return visits to the site.

One more thing: Every good online experience will be shared with friends or family and followers. It’s amazing what a single, positive consumer transaction can do to build brand awareness, market reach and sales volume. And it can start with a chat.

Consider the Right Time and Space When Adding a Web Chat Feature

Most smart device users don’t need to wait to search for information until they are in front of their desktop or laptop. They seek and find what they need to online the moment the idea strikes them – via cellphone or tablet.

When considering a web chat platform, make sure to include design elements to maximize the user experience for smart devices. This means don’t let the chat pop-up take up too much valuable real estate on the screen. If the pop-up overwhelms the rest of your website content, then you’ve blown any goodwill with the user.

People Think They Know What They Want Until You Tell Them

Not all shopping involves purchasing. There is an art to shopping; some people thrive on it while others avoid it like the plague. Shopping is almost like a romance.

There’s an element of mystery, and when you finally make the decision in wanting to have it (product not people), you pay for it. The frustration is in the decision-making phase.

The Power of Indirect Persuasion

What might be appealing to the eye often differs to its reality, especially in product presentations that exist on the web. Deceptive? Perhaps. But it’s also about how humans perceive them.

We have expectations irrespective of what is real and how we want it to be. Marketers know this phenomenon well, as they’ve witnessed it during focus groups – in rooms filled with people who give their opinions and responses about a product based on what they’ve seen or experienced during the testing session.

What researchers have discovered about human behavior is that what we intellectually say to describe how we feel about something may differ from how our brain and bodies react. It’s called neuromarketing.

People are comfortable with what they already know. But what they don’t know is a web chat manager’s dream and a gateway to nurturing new customers and upselling more product.

Web Chat Is Just One Piece of the Larger Lead-Nurturing Puzzle

See How We Generate Leads

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

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Understanding The Buyers Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO
Sales … leads … where do I begin? So many businesses are finding it difficult to generate qualified leads. Many businesses are also generating the wrong types of leads and not converting them into sales.

As a business owner, you’re probably wondering how to:

  • Generate new leads for your business.
  • Convert existing leads into deals.

The good news is an effective digital marketing strategy will be able to produce qualified leads for your business. We’ve been successful with all of our clients and achieving their goals for lead generation. The drawback is businesses have to invest into managing the leads properly and leading them through the extensive buying process.

Getting to Know Lead Life Cycles and the Marketing/Sales Funnel

First, you must understand that there are different types of leads and respective life cycles. A lead life cycle is defined as the life of a lead or prospect.

Website Visitor/Prospect

This is not considered a lead yet. This is someone who is doing their research and came to your website through a marketing campaign.

Marketing Qualified Lead

These leads are doing their research still. They may have come from Facebook or an eBook offer download on your website. These leads aren’t ready to be sold. They are looking to be educated.

Sales Qualified Lead

These are leads that are ready to make a buying decision. They have already done their research on your product or service and are sold on it.

The New Marketing And Sales Funnel Pyramid - Eminent SEO
All they need to be sold on is the fact that you are the company that can fulfill their needs.

Opportunity

This is when a lead has transitioned into an opportunity to become a client.

Customer

When the opportunity has paid for your product or service!

Track Your Leads Down to the Source

How we determine different types of leads is:

  • Where the lead originated from
  • The content the lead engaged with

This is where lead tracking is SUPER important. If you don’t have call tracking or lead tracking of any kind, you need to get that first.

When there is proper lead tracking installed on the website, we can tell where the lead originated from down to the source of the call with dynamic call tracking. By knowing where the lead came from, our team can dissect the data to understand user intent. That’s where the sales and marketing funnel comes in.

Depending on the lead source and content they’re interested in, you can determine their stage within the buyer’s journey.

The Buyer’s Journey Breakdown

Let’s face it, the sales process is VERY long. Now that the internet exists, buyers want to see everything possible before making a decision.

By understanding the buyer’s journey, you can learn what to expect for the duration of closing a lead to a sale. You will also know how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

Awareness Stage

This is the stage where the prospect identifies there’s an issue and that they need help. They are not yet educated on what that solution is, but they are aware that an issue exists. This is the stage where users will normally convert on offers such as eBooks, blog posts or newsletter sign-ups for more information.

Consideration Stage

This is the stage where the prospect has started doing their own research for the problem they need help with. They will usually engage with offers such as:

  • Case studies
  • Downloading a brochure about your service
  • Browsing your products or services
  • Learn more about your team

It’s important to educate them extensively about your specific offering during this stage.

Decision Stage

Prospects that are ready to make a decision will simply call, email or chat with you directly. They have made the decision to move forward with a certain company, and hopefully you are that company. You still might need to do some nurturing for prospects in this stage, but they are definitely sold on the idea they need your product or service. They just need to be sold on your specific offering and company.

Service Stage

When the prospect has converted into a paying client, it doesn’t mean the nurturing stops. You have a reputation to maintain and a client to keep happy now. This stage is very important to maintain a happy relationship with your client by providing a superior customer service experience.

Brand Advocate Stage

When you have a happy client, they automatically turn into a brand advocate for your business. Get them to follow your social media platforms to give you street credit about your product or service. Positive reviews from happy clients create assets that you can use for your business long term. The other benefit is, other people will read them and consider your company!

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEOLead nurturing should never stop after they decide to purchase from you. There are many ways to stay in front of your current clients and nurture them into purchasing from you again or promoting your brand to their friends and family.

Understanding Lead Sources and Buyer Intent

There are various sources that generate leads if you’re investing into multi-channel marketing for your business. Sources are where the lead actually originated from, not where they converted from.

For example, your lead came to your site originally from a Facebook ad. Then they visited your blog, your services pages and left the site. They come back in a month after they’ve done their research and Googled your brand. They initiate a chat with you on your website.

The original source of this lead is still considered the Facebook ad. They’ve just been nurtured along the buyer’s journey to get to the Decision stage where they Googled your brand directly to make that next step. The lead source is not your website chat.

Here’s a breakdown of a few digital marketing sources that generate a large volume of leads:

Google Organic Search

This one gets a little tricky because you can have users from any stage within the buyer’s journey come to your website from here. What we typically like to look at the most is what type of content the user came in to see. If it was a blog post, for example, that user would be in the Awareness stage, because our blog post strategy is typically less salesy and more focused on educating.

If the user entered via a service or product page on your website, that means they’re typically searching more Consideration-type keywords and are looking to assess your company for that product or service.

Google Paid Search

Google paid search is very similar to Google organic search. Most companies like to bid on the keywords that are going to produce conversions. If that’s the case, then the majority of these users would be in the Consideration stage. Some might even be in the Decision stage and are Googling your brand directly to make that phone call.

Read More on Modern Paid Marketing

Facebook

Facebook has spent a lot of time and money optimizing its platform so businesses can connect directly with their distinct audiences. With Facebook ads, you can actually target users to message you through Facebook messenger.

Our team has tested these campaigns substantially in the last year and learned that these leads are more in the Awareness or Consideration stages. Most people want to chat about the problem they’re running into, but they’re not necessarily ready to buy.

A snapshot on the various sources that you may consider for a marketing campaign:

Multi-Channel Marketing Venn Diagram - Eminent SEO

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96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy yet, according to Marketo.

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How to Nurture Leads to the Next Stage

Lead nurturing can be extremely effective when done correctly. The problems we often face are:

  1. Marketers don’t understand the business well enough to do the lead nurturing for the business owners.
  2. Sales teams don’t understand how to nurture leads by utilizing digital content.
  3. Sales teams don’t have a process for closing leads into sales.
  4. All the above.
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Converting a lead to the decision stage is only the beginning of another process: the sales process.

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We have laid out some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or coming up with a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

1. Segment Your Leads

First things first is to segment your leads into the correct buckets. Remember the marketing and sales qualified life cycles? You need to segment leads into those two buckets, at minimum. You can always expand into more lead types if your business has many more.

Marketing qualified leads should be sent more informative and education-related materials. These materials may include eBooks, quizzes, videos, blog posts, infographics, etc.

Sales qualified leads should be sent more consideration related materials such as brochures, case studies, team bios, product samples, etc.

Each week, have a dedicated employee sort through the leads and determine which type of lead they are.

2. Build a Lead Scoring Strategy and Score Your Leads

Each business is unique and requires a custom strategy for this to work. Your strategy should include all of the digital assets you currently have and which assets you need to expand on to help nurture your leads along.

Digital assets can be considered:

  • Blog posts
  • Website landing pages
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • And more

After you have a strategy built with the content you want to provide, you must also develop a lead scoring strategy for the various life cycles of a lead. Develop a tagging system to tag your calls and messages, so that you can easily sort these leads at a later date when it comes time to follow up.

3. Develop Canned Responses for Your Sales Team

To make their job even easier, you can help them by developing canned responses for frequently asked questions. If you’ve owned a business for a while, you probably already know the basic questions your prospects often ask. Have those answers ready with the appropriate content and call to action for those various lead types.

4. Invest into More Targeted Content for Various Buying Stages

If you find that certain digital assets are not helping your team close the deal, you have to invest into better targeted asset and content development. Digital assets will benefit your brand and website for years to come. Develop assets and content for each buying stage based on what your prospects are asking/wanting.

5. Start the Conversation

With today’s generation wanting instant gratification, your prospects do not want to be sold. Being more conversational and personal in your approach to customer service is extremely important. Instead of sharing salesy materials (unless they ask), share a quiz for them to take or a new book to read. They want to be provided with the materials to self-educate.

6. Less Is More

Since people want instant gratification and have an attention span of a 3 year old, the best way to approach any landing page is to provide fewer options for the prospect. Always have one clear call to action on the landing pages you deliver during your lead-nurturing process. That way, they aren’t distracted by everything that’s irrelevant to your conversation, and they’re more likely to convert on that CTA.

7. Automate as Much as Possible

There are many tools out there today that can help your business automate your sales- and lead-nurturing processes. These tools make it easier for your sales team to send out emails, automatically respond to website chats and messages, create proposals, automate unqualified leads through a funnel and manage the lead pipeline in one dashboard.

8. Be Timely in Your Responses

According to Hubspot, leads are 21 times more likely to enter into the sales process as a qualified lead when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after a touchpoint on your website or social platform.

9. Be Personal

The digital age is full of automation. There’s a fine line between automated and manual responses. When your team is responding to an email or a Facebook message manually, make sure to always keep the responses personalized. It’s all about personalization and providing relevant resources to what the prospect is asking.

10. Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategies

This is probably the most important part. If your sales and marketing teams are not communicating regularly, you have a problem. Marketers today have much more insight than sales teams because they are the ones reading the data every single day while your sales team is out selling.

Marketers can and should:

  • Provide the sales team with existing targeted content to share.
  • Develop more content for certain types of leads.
  • Help automate the sales process.
  • Help with canned responses.

Read More on Aligning Sales & Marketing Strategy

Your Turn to Convert Leads into Sales

This post might seem overwhelming, but the main takeaway is to know that not all your leads from digital marketing campaigns are ready to buy. In fact, the majority of them are not ready.

The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach. Good luck out there!

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 76: Find Your Way to Sales and Marketing Success

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Find Your Way To Sales And Marketing Success - Eminent SEO Newsletter Vol 76

Synergy Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Whether you have an in-house marketing team or you use an agency, your sales and marketing teams must work in tandem. Yes, there will be some crossover as far as which team handles which duties. But ultimately, the two teams need to serve distinct (yet interrelated) roles.

Your marketing agency or in-house team is essentially responsible for delivering business leads, and then it’s up to your sales team to close those leads and produce revenue for your company.

This sequence is futile if the two sides don’t communicate well. The sales team must continually report and provide feedback on the quality of the leads. If the leads are mostly calling about general info or asking off-the-wall questions, then it’s up to the marketing team to refine its tactics and target a more specific potential buyer.

At Eminent SEO, it’s our goal to not only increase the number of your leads through digital channels, but to deliver highly qualified leads in the process. We strive to build positive rapport with your sales team to open up a constant dialog about the quality of your leads. It makes all of our jobs easier – and ends up with a better ROI for your sales and marketing dollars.

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Inspirational Quote

“The objective of all advertising is to buy new customers at a profit. Learn what your customers cost and what they buy … Spend all of your ammunition where it counts.”

– Claude C. Hopkins, “Scientific Advertising” (1923)

Website Highlights: Is Your Business Aligned for Sales and Marketing Success?

Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

In her latest blog entry, Eminent SEO cofounder and CEO Jenny Stradling gets into the specifics on the roles that your marketing and sales teams play in achieving the overall goals of your business.

“What is the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead?”

“How do I track sales back to their originating source?”

“Do I need to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool for my business?

“What do I need to track in a CRM?”

See the answers to these and other relevant questions, along with insight into how to align your sales and marketing strategy, in the full article:

Sales & Marketing Alignment Advice

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Answer FAQ

At Eminent SEO, we love to educate our clients, fellow small business owners and the wider public on the basics of SEO, marketing and business needs. In talking among ourselves and to our clients, there are dozens of unique terms, abbreviations and slang we use quite often. Without a knowledge and understanding of the terms, how can you – as a business owner – understand how they affect your bottom line?

What is a website landing page?

Landing Page – A landing page can be any page on a website that is accessible to search engines or that can be linked to directly. Most times, a landing page suggests a specific page on a website that is meant to attract new website visitors through both organic marketing and paid marketing efforts.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-Tail Keywords (Long-Tail Keyword Phrases) – Keywords grouped in three or more words that are more specific and generally less competitive. These are used in the SEO industry with the intent of getting better conversions since the terms are usually more targeted than higher search volume keywords that are overly broad.

Example: “Find an Internet Marketing Company in Arizona” is a long-tail keyword versus “Internet Marketing,” which is general and likely overly competitive.

 

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SEO & Marketing Terms to Know

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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