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Omni-channel Marketing and Customer Care, How to Be Everywhere

Posted Thu, July 27, 2017 by Julie Short

Omni-channel Marketing and Customer Care (How to Be Everywhere)
Is your organization keeping up with the expectations of today’s B2B buyers? You probably know that key decision-makers are disqualifying vendors through online research before ever engaging with a salesperson, and they have higher expectations for good post-sale interaction as well. There’s never been a time when providing an outstanding experience has mattered more. From advertising to marketing, sales, and customer service, every aspect of a brand must make your company approachable in unprecedented ways.
Can Customers Reach You When and How They Wish?
In the past, that might have meant picking up the phone or faxing an order form. Today, B2B buyers expect much more:
  • Rapid replies to email (within hours, not days)
  • Live chat with reps consistently available during business hours
  • Responses to messaging through FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—anywhere a company maintains a profile
And don’t forget mobile texting and video chat. These more personal, familiar modes of communication can really help a B2B company stand out from the crowd.
Omni-channel Is Not Multi-Channel
Multichannel marketing is a tactical approach to reaching prospects and customers through a specific set of technologies. It is traditionally focused on what works best for the company doing the marketing. Omni-channel is about shifting the conversation away from platforms, technologies, and devices. It’s about focusing on availability and personalization. Customers want to interact with a vendor on their own terms using the technology of their choice. Even more, they want their interaction history to be available to any agent they speak with so that they don’t have to repeat themselves. They expect a seamless, consistent brand experience that takes their preferences into account. Three Tips for Delivering an Omni-Channel Experience
#1: Deliver mobile-friendly web design
This is at the top of the list not only because it’s the simplest fix but because it is so essential. Even business buyers are using a variety of devices besides their desktop to interact with your brand. They might see your tweets on their phone, read a thought leadership article on their tablet, and place an order on their laptop. Besides having a responsive website that automatically detects the parameters of the user’s device, be sure you actually are delivering great content on all the platforms they might use to research your brand.
#2: Provide continuity for e-commerce
Abandoned shopping carts can represent a huge missed opportunity for companies. When a prospect switches from one device to the next, their e-commerce selections should travel with them. Imagine if your business buyer is browsing your online catalogue on their phone and drops some items in the cart for later review. When they login to their desktop later, they receive a reminder that they have items still pending checkout. You’ve just made it that much easier for them to move from consideration to purchase. The ability to synchronize across devices is essential for omni-channel!
#3: Stop Keeping Data Siloed
Every interaction your customer or prospect has with your company is part of the total picture they build about your brand. That means the questions they ask via email or even social media should be available to your agents if the customer decides to follow up via phone or live chat. That may mean implementing more than just a traditional ticket management system. You want all the data on your customers so you get a 360 view of them as well. Not only does this approach boost satisfaction, it will help you market more effectively to your customer base on an ongoing basis.
How do you plan to use technology to make your marketing and custom care more personal, more available, and more consistently excellent for every user? If you want more ideas for strategy and implementation designed for your sector and customized for your brand, contact Web Revelation today. Our team can help.
Posted in : Tips and Tricks , Email Marketing , Business Strategy | 
Tags : Marketing , Customer care ,


Does Your Business Website Have Great UX,Understanding User Experience

Posted Thu, July 13, 2017 by Julie Short

Does Your Business Website Have Great UX? Understanding User Experience


What is User Experience (UX), and why does it matter whether your website has a good one? This design concept is about far more than just visuals or content. It’s the confluence of all the elements on-page and behind the scenes that add up to the total functionality of a site. When a web visitor has an experience filled with friction and frustration, your UX needs some work. As the folks at Moz point out, Google and other search engines are already taking User Experience into account in their search ranking algorithms. Whether people are bouncing off your site because it hurts their eyes to look at, your content is useless, or the page load time is driving them nuts, at the end of the day a lack of attention to UX is hurting your web presence. Here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to avoid.

Seek and Not Find

Users should never have to navigate through a complex or poorly labeled site to find the information they need. Keep your top tier navigation menu short (five options is about the max). Today’s users typically know they can click the logo at the top of your site to access the home page, so save your top level menu for essentials other than “home”. You can add more pages as drop downs but don’t go crazy there either. Also avoid using page designs that force users to click on tab after tab within a single page to reveal all the content.

Mystery Content

If there are hyperlinks to click on, make sure they come with a clear description so users know where they are being directed. That goes double for files like PDFs that will automatically download to their device. When you have lovely images to click for users to travel deeper into the site, be sure they are also labelled with text. That’s not just good SEO, it’s functional. For example, even if an image is linking to a portfolio piece, it should state what the user can expect to learn (e.g., Brickyard Museum Restoration Project or “Master Brake Center Case Study”). Don’t make users hover over an image to find out what it is for. They may miss that subtle cue.

Forms Done Wrong

Long forms can help you collect necessary information for your lead generation initiative. But a poor design can hurt more than it helps. Forms that ask for a lot of information that seems extraneous to the user will annoy them (especially if you make those fields mandatory). Never use a template that erases all information if an incomplete form is submitted—or one with the reset button too close to the submit button. You won’t get a second chance to capture leads from ticked off prospects. If you are asking for lots of info, give a reason. For example, a site providing vehicle wraps might ask for the make and model of a visitor’s vehicle in addition to contact info so that they can provide an accurate quote.

Excessive Animation

Sure, special effects are…special. But they can also add a lot of time to simple actions. Users have little tolerance for buffering—even when the fault is with their internet carrier and not with your website. But when you make them sit through a cute animation just to get to the content they are interested in? They know exactly who to blame. And it’s you. Using sliders, fade ins, and other effects is fine, but keep them limited to areas where it adds value (such as drawing attention to critical information) rather than just because it looks cool. For mobile, stick with interaction methods that users know well, like tapping and swiping.

Five Good UX Principles

Focus on designing your website with your typical user in mind—not your typical technology buff.

1. Navigation should be clear and easy to follow and the layout should direct the eye to important information.
2. Images should be relevant to the page topic and design elements and colors should not overshadow content.
3. Content should be written at an appropriate level and geared toward providing the information your audience needs.
4. Page load times should be kept to a minimum (image file sizes, scripting, and other behind the scenes factors can have a real impact here).
5. Users should be able to get to what they are looking for with a minimum number of actions.

Most important, you should get feedback from trusted experts and actual end users so that you can improve your UX. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering what your customers want.

Looking for a professional assessment of the UX on your website? Contact Web Revelation today for a consultation.
Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : UX , User Experience ,


What’s a Landing Page and How Can You Use It to Get Leads

Posted Thu, May 25, 2017 by Julie Short


With so much jargon to sort through, it’s easy to get confused about where to spend your time and effort in online marketing. If you’ve ever wondered what a landing page is and why it matters for your business, now you can find out!

The basics: A landing page is a static page on your website that’s built for a specific purpose, usually as part of a campaign, promotion, or other marketing effort. In the B2B space, landing pages are often used for lead generation. For example, a company may develop a white paper and make it available for download if a web visitor fills out a short form on the landing page with their name, company, position, email, and phone number. Assuming the white paper is still relevant five years down the road, it can still be collecting qualified leads for your sales team if you’ve got a landing page that converts well. Here are four quick tips for how to get it right.

Keep It Short and Sweet
In the B2C world landing pages are often long form sales letters. In B2B, that type of landing page simply isn’t appropriate (although if you can figure out how to write a landing page with a “buy now” button that convinces a buyer to place a $120,000 purchase order, we’d love to see it!) For a B2B landing page, most of the content should be viewable without significant scrolling.
The visitor should know from the link that directed them to the page what to expect. And that’s what they should find, presented as succinctly as possible. Never do a bait and switch! Don’t be afraid to use video to make landing pages more engaging. But keep these short as well. Thirty seconds is a fine length if you want visitors to actually watch the whole thing.

Match the Offer to the Buyer
A digital resource that can be delivered immediately is a great offer. But you should tailor the type of resource to the stage the buyer is in along their journey. They might be just learning about the brand or seeking information to solve a specific problem. Often, a landing page is used at the beginning of the journey or closer to the top of the funnel, when buyers are marginally aware of your company, looking for answers to specific questions, and potentially open to engaging and learning more.

A whitepaper is best for people doing initial research to make a better purchasing decision down the road while a checklist is a great idea for people who are trying to solve an immediate problem. The type of offer visitors respond to can tell you whether a lead is just warm enough to start a drip campaign or if they are ready for a call from a sales person.

Ensure Your Call to Action Counts
Always start with the call to action in mind and design every element of your page from the visuals to the text with that final step as the focus. Otherwise, you may create interesting content but deploy it ineffectively. Also remember that a call to action shouldn’t be a demand. It should be an invitation. For example, it’s appropriate to use words like “discover” and “explore” when buyers are in the information gathering stage and you are offering a resource that helps them in their quest. That type of terminology is in alignment with what they are already in the mood to do.
It’s a best practice to have only one call to action on your landing page, even if visitors could conceivably take more than one action. Don’t ask the prospect to call, email, text, sign up for a newsletter, share your content, connect with you on social media, and enter to win. Pick the action that matters most and make that the focus.

Make It Easy to Get Results
User experience is critical for a landing page to convert well. Design the page so the user can get what they want and you can get what YOU want with the least effort. For example, determine the best number/type of fields for your form so you don’t scare people away by asking for too much information. A form with more than five fields is usually a deal killer.
Ensure that the buttons or other elements that give direction on what to do next are easy to locate. Remember, people scan content online rather than reading it word for word. You may have some great copy on your landing page, but visitors must be able to jump immediately into taking the desired action if that’s what they want.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Landing pages are a great place to do A/B split testing or multivariate testing. You know exactly what you want visitors to do and can track which version of a page delivers the best results.

Need to add landing pages to your website to help you achieve your marketing goals this quarter? Web Revelation can help you develop and launch your next campaign.
Posted in : Website Content , Websites | 
Tags : Call to action , landing page


Five Things B2B Companies Get Wrong with Their Online Marketing

Posted Thu, May 11, 2017 by Julie Short

Does it seem like B2B companies are always playing catchup when it comes to online marketing? That’s probably because they are. The process of marketing in the digital age has become increasingly complex. Many B2B organizations are still using outdated tools, struggling with inadequate resources, or getting so caught up in the latest tech that they forget the basics. Here are five common mistakes we see B2B companies making when they market online.


#1 Creating Boring Advertising
Why is it so hard to connect with fresh prospects online when you are selling a technical, engineering, manufacturing, or industrial product? Because you think that they are already prepped to hear about the specs when their minds and hearts are still far away. B2B companies often rush to talk about the benefits (or even the features) of their product before establishing emotional rapport. That’s an understandable mistake since the target audience is often knowledgeable and educated. But generating excitement and connecting on a personal level is a step that can’t be skipped. This is particularly important for online ads, when buyers are first being introduced to a brand. Intrigue is the name of the game at this stage. Be human, be compelling, grab attention and don’t let go.

#2 Missing Out on Automation
According to a 2015 study by Autopilot, “Marketers using automation software generate 2X the number of leads than those using blast email software.” Replacing manual processes with automated systems is about more than saving labor hours. Leveraging automation tools opens your eyes to a whole new set of strategies and tactics for creating successful campaigns. It’s also beneficial for lead nurturing and boosting revenue from existing clients with cross-selling and upselling as new products and services become available.

#3 Failing to Align Marketing with Sales
This is probably the biggest challenge that B2B companies face. Sales knows it. Marketing knows it. They just haven’t figured out what to do about it. Sales and Marketing must collaborate to create a set of buyer personas, agree on what a qualified lead looks like, and decide what analytics tools and metrics will be used to track results over time. In combination with automation, this targeted approach delivers better quality leads to Sales and allows Marketing to demonstrate its true value as a partner in improving the company’s bottom line.

#4 Not Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
The Content Marketing Institute revealed in 2015 that “55% of B2B marketers say they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.” Obviously, that goes back to the discussion that Marketing and Sales should be having about lead generation and cultivation. But there is no question that content marketing does get eyeballs on your brand. According to Hubspot, B2B companies that publish 11+ blogs a month received almost 3 times the traffic of those blogging 0-1 times per month. Of course, you can also see a benefit with a modest amount of blogging—particularly if you take the time to create real thought leadership pieces. Finding the right balance of volume, consistency, distribution platforms, and content types (video, podcasts, blogs, etc.) will take some time. Don’t be afraid to start small and build your strategy along the way as you see what types of content get the best response.

#5 Thinking the Current Website Is “Good Enough”
The 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report discovered that B2B buyers are 60% of the way through their decision-making process before they engage a sales rep. They are judging the quality and credibility of your brand right now based on the look and feel, navigation, eye-catching design, and content on your company website. If they don’t like what they see, your business may be eliminated in the early rounds before your sales team even gets the chance to make a pitch. That doesn’t mean you need to add a bunch of bells and whistles to your website. Often, it means streamlining the functionality, ensuring mobile compatibility, revamping the messaging to put the focus on the customer and their concerns, and delivering a visually compelling experience that draws people in. Visit your competitors’ websites and do a side-by-side comparison. If you aren’t blowing them out of the water, it’s time to step up your game.

For more ideas on ways to improve your online marketing, contact Web Revelation today. We’re happy to help!

Posted in : Websites , Website Content , Online Marketing | 
Tags : B2B; Online Marketing


How to Make Online Ordering Simple for Wholesalers And Manufacturers

Posted Thu, January 26, 2017 by Julie Short

Wholesalers and manufacturers may be buying in bulk for business purposes, but these days the individuals actually placing the orders are accustomed to being able to shop easily online. They rightly feel that they shouldn’t have to pick up a phone, fill out a tedious order form, or even use an antiquated fax machine simply to do their job as a purchasing agent. Instead, they expect to have a modern e-commerce experience whether they are buying for business or personal use. Organizations that want to become a preferred vendor for these customers would do well to explore an updated web-based ordering system.

Here are some key features that make online ordering simple and attractive for bulk buyers.

Faster, Better Service

At the most basic level, an online ordering system should eliminate duplicate data entry efforts, reduce errors, and process orders immediately. Less frustration leads to more brand loyalty and repeat business. You will also find that most customers enjoy a self-service experience even after the order is placed. They want to be able to track shipments and view their order history easily online. If they can repeat a previous order with just a couple of clicks, that’s even better!
That doesn’t mean the human touch is taken out of the equation. Instead, a modern system can incorporate live chat so that those customers who do have questions or challenges can get immediate assistance. When inbound sales teams are freed up from answering phones as order takers, they are more available to improve the service experience for customers who need help.

Targeted Product Catalogues

If you serve multiple industries, not every customer should see your entire product line. In fact, users will appreciate being presented only with relevant items when they go online to search for what they need. With a well-designed, segmented e-commerce solution, you can determine the items clients see when they log in to their account. For example, bulk packaged quantities can be presented to wholesale clients and hidden from retail clients. Of course, this means you can also set up special pricing and other private “eyes only” information for your top tier customers as well. When you are in charge of the online ordering experience, you can design it for maximum impact.

Accurate, Visible Inventory Numbers

This is a critical aspect of a good online ordering system. Lead time is one of the most common factors that determines who gets an order from a major customer. A wholesaler may need to deliver to retailers right away to capture seasonal sales. Or, a manufacturer might have to shut down a production line if they can’t get a part in a timely fashion. Providing information about which items are in stock (along with the quantity available) helps procurement specialists make a quick decision.
Be warned, this data has to be very accurate! Just one bad experience with finding out an item is on backorder when your website indicated it was in stock can turn off a customer. This means you need to integrate in real time with your existing ERP or inventory management system to ensure that your website never makes promises your warehouse can’t fulfill. As a bonus, implementing an integrated online ordering system may actually serve as an opportunity to help you scale to handle higher volume clients.

Multiple Payment Options

While some businesses have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, many still use a purchase order system. In fact, these Net 30 clients could be some of your largest accounts. You’ll want to be sure to accommodate them by accepting PO#s from your customers.

More Incentives to Buy

When you know which items your customers are buying, you can predict what they will want to try in the future. This means you can actually leverage the information captured by your online ordering system to promote new products as they become available. Rather than sending out a costly paper catalogue that will probably end up in the trash, you can present relevant items to your repeat customers using a variety of digital marketing methods. That might be as simple as featuring a new product with a special introductory price when they log in to their customized ordering portal on your website. This streamlined approach is less annoying for customers and more beneficial for your business.
Want to learn more about how a well-designed online ordering system can maximize high-dollar customer relationships with wholesalers and manufacturers? Contact WebRevelation today.

Posted in : e-commerce , Business Strategy | 
Tags : wholesale , ecommerce


When to Know If a Custom Online Application Will Work for Your Business

Posted Thu, January 12, 2017 by Julie Short
When is off-the-shelf software or a typical SaaS app going to do the trick and when do you need a custom online application? It might seem that there’s a simple answer—you only build what you can’t buy. But the reality is much more complex. In fact, even with a huge array of ready-made solutions, many businesses are still spending money regularly on custom development. In 2013 (according to a survey from Forrester), enterprise class organizations spent roughly the same amount on bespoke solutions as they did on packaged applications. Of course, having a big budget in the first place makes it easier to justify investing in a custom app. For small to mid-sized businesses, it can be a little more difficult to define when there’s a need that can be most effectively met by a tailor-made piece of software.

Here are five ways to know when a custom application can be a wise investment:

#1 You Only Need a Limited Scope to Accomplish Your Goal

Maybe you need a specific piece of “Best of Breed” functionality to make your business run better—but you don’t want to buy an entire suite of software from a major vendor just to get that one bit you need. The big names in the industry are well known for piling up the licensing and maintenance fees, locking in customers with long-term contracts, and forcing upgrades for their products. With a custom made product, you build only what is required to solve your actual business problem, your costs are limited, and you maintain control over the software.

#2 You Want Added Functionality for Competitive Advantage

At the other end of the scale, you might need an application with rich capabilities that simply aren’t provided by the SaaS vendors or traditional software suppliers serving your sector. Being the first in your industry to build a better application can put you ahead of the pack in productivity, innovation, and market share. These are especially exciting projects, and it makes sense to invest in a solution that your competitors can’t access.

#3 You Require Smarter BI for a Brighter Future

Business Intelligence is one of the most rapidly growing areas for custom development. Depending on your business model, you might be pulling data from a variety of sources from ERP to CRM, E-commerce, customer facing apps, and more. Being able to create a strong self-service dashboard and reporting system that compiles, displays, and interprets data from your unique data sources can be a powerful tool for predictive analytics. The more niche your industry is, the greater the chances that you’ll want a custom BI application.

#4 You Deserve Software That Truly Promotes Efficiency

Workflow automation is a prime example of when a custom online application can beat the socks off of an out-of-the-box application. The inner workings of your business will never map exactly onto a generic piece of software. Rather than adjusting your workflow to meet the capabilities of an application, it makes more sense to build an application that suits the way you do business.

#5 You Can Link the Custom App Directly to Revenue

Sometimes, the ROI on building a custom online application is obvious. If your existing software is causing you to miss out on opportunities, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade with a custom app that helps you capture more revenue. That could be one that adds functionality requested by customers, ensures repeat business, helps you cross-sell or upsell high dollar products/services, or attracts more of the ideal clients your company needs to be more profitable year over year.
Whether it’s an internal business application or a consumer-facing portal, a data-base driven app or a mobile solution, WebRevelation is ready to help grow your business with customized solutions. Learn how we can integrate with your legacy systems, build out new capabilities, and drive more value for your business. Contact us for a consultation today.
Posted in : ERP , CRM , Business Strategy | 
Tags : custom online application


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