Nextiva Becomes Official Communications Partner of the Pac-12 Conference

nextiva pac12 partnership

The Pac-12 Conference was having a communications issue only made worse by the pandemic. And Nextiva had the solution.

The problem the Pac-12 had was one shared by small businesses, especially over the last year.

Today, Nextiva Nextiva a partnership with the Pac-12 Conference to be its Official Communications Partner. Nextiva will work with the conference, the 12 athletic departments of the universities in the Pac-12, and be an official partner of the annual Rose Bowl game.

“Joining the Conference of Champions is an exciting moment for our company,” Nextiva CEO Tomas Gorny says.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott says of this partnership, “There is no time more important than now for the Pac-12 to partner with a leader in communication in order to stay connected. Our partnership with Nextva reflects the strength of our Pac-12 athletic programs and Conference brand, and we look forward to working closely with Nextiva to support our communications needs.”

The Pac-12 includes the following member schools:

  • University of Arizona
  • Arizona State University
  • University of California-Berkely
  • University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Oregon
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Southern California (USC)
  • Stanford University
  • University of Utah
  • University of Washington
  • Washington State University

Nextiva Partners with Pac-12 Conference

Why is the Pac-12 partnering with Nextiva?

“The Pac-12’s partnership with Nextiva began with them looking for next-generation business communications,” Nextiva Chief Marketing Officer Yaniv Masjedi says. “They need upgrades to an existing system. There’s a need to link communications to customer and partner data.”

The pandemic in 2020 created new needs for the conference, just like it has for small businesses in the US. Organizations like the Pac-12 and small businesses actually share common concerns now: How do you connect employees and customers when they’re not always in close proximity to each other.

Now, the Pac-12 will use Nextiva technology to help the conference manage communications among its remote teams and offer advanced sales productivity tools so the Pac-12 works more efficiently with its numerous partners, vendors and prospects.

Not only will this partnership include the Pac-12 implementing Nextiva technology, the communications company will also be visible at conference events.

Nextiva will be featured on stadium signage throughout the conference. Coaches will have the Nextiva logo on their communications headsets and commercials for Nextiva will run in the Pac-12 markets.

Why Should Small Businesses Pay Attention?

Rarely would you believe that an organization as big as the Pac-12 and small business would share the same concerns. But lately, that’s more true than ever. That’s why this deal made sense to the conference.

“This partnership is about unified communication and collaboration solutions,” Masjedi said. “Every small business needs these, too.”

The Pac-12 will integrate Nextiva technology, including its cloud phone service, video conferencing, team chat capabilities and more. And, probably most importantly, it’s all done in one simple platform.

This technology helps the Pac-12 maintain better communications with its partners and within the organization, and that’s definitely a need for small business.

“Modern business communication platforms give them the simplicity and comprehensive features they need to communicate across the whole company easily. Small businesses need business communications tools to help them with their customers,” Masjedi says. “They should know cloud solutions are available.”

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Image: Nextiva

This article, "Nextiva Becomes Official Communications Partner of the Pac-12 Conference" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

How to Post on Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide

With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching social media networks you can use for marketing purposes.

Instagram has proven a viable advertising option for businesses today, and shows no signs of slowing down -- in fact Instagram ad revenues will exceeded $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, an exponential increase from 1.86 billion in just three years.

If you're not already using Instagram for your business, you're missing out on a ton of opportunity to grow brand awareness and reach a wide audience. Fortunately, adopting an Instagram strategy can be relatively easy with enough time and effort.

However, if you've never used the app, you might be daunted by the first question likely to cross your mind -- How can I post my first image?

If you're ready to post an image to Instagram, we've got you covered. Here, we've cultivated a quick-and-easy guide to posting on Instagram, to ensure you can begin attracting the attention of  your audience with Instagram marketing.

How to Post to Instagram

Posting to Instagram consistently can help businesses find resonance with their audience and grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here's how to post to your Instagram account step-by-step.

1. Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.

Instagram Post Icon on Home Screen [+]

See that plus sign [+] in the image above? That's your starting point. See that post from our culture account? That's your end point. Click that plus sign and you'll be ready for the next step, below.

2. Choose a photo or video from your library -- or shoot one in the app.

Instagram will show you the photos already saved to your phone. Choose one of those to post. Alternatively, you can click "Photo" or "Video" in the bottom to take a photo or video within the Instagram app itself, if you don't already have an image you want to use.

Once you choose an image, click "Next" in the top right.

Instagram Gallery Photo Picker

3. Crop the image.

You aren't limited to just a square image on Instagram. You can actually share horizontal or vertical images as well. To get more of your image seen, pinch the screen of the photo you've selected on the Library screen.

Cropping Photo on Instagram by Pinching

However, while Instagram does allow vertical and horizontal options, the images still need to fit into some specific dimensions. So, you might still need to crop a tiny bit of your photo to get it to fit.

4. Try a carousel post.

Do you have multiple photos and want to highlight them all? Instagram allows you to do this with its carousel feature.

Instagram "Select Multiple" Feature for Carousel Posts

As you go to tap a photo or video, first tap the icon just above your photos to the right that looks like stacked squares. Once you tap this, you'll see a number on the corner of every image or video you tap. This number notes where the content will show up in the carousel.

5. Pick a filter.

Instagram offers 24 filters -- scroll to the right to peruse your options, and click on one to preview how it will look on your photo. (Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Filters to learn more).

Instagram Filters

6. Edit your photo.

You can also click "Edit" at the bottom right to adjust contrast, brightness, etc.

Instagram Photo Editor

When you're ready, click "Next" in the top right.

7. Type your caption.

Get creative and write a nice, interesting caption to go with your photo. Since text can help optimize your post in Instagram's search, writing something can only benefit you.

Instagram-Caption

8. Use hashtags for post optimization.

With Instagram's search feature, users can search by hashtags. So, you should make sure to write relevant hashtags in your caption. If someone does a search of a hashtag you placed in your caption, they might find your post as well as others that included the same one.

9. Tag friends.

Want your friend or their followers to see a photo that you posted of the two of you? Tag them!

On the post page, you can click "Tag People" to tag other Instagram accounts in your post. Alternatively, you can include their handle (or their username beginning with an @ symbol) in your caption.

10. Add your location.

If you're on a fun vacation or at a neat event and you don't feel like including that information in your caption, you can mark where you are in another way. On the post page, tap "Add Location" to put a location on your image (which makes it easier for people to find your post).

When you post an image or video with a location, it will show up between your name and the block of content on the feed.

11. Play with emojis.

Emojis are fun and can make your caption more eye catching. If you know of a few relevant emojis that could fit with your post, stick them in the caption area.

For example, if you're posting a vacation photo, you could include a beach umbrella or a plane to show you flew somewhere.

Be sure not to go overboard and post emojis just for the sake of posting them. If you post a bowling emoji along with a photo of a beach, that obviously won't make sense to people. Similarly, if you post 20 emojis that loosely relate to a post, you might just annoy your followers or come off as desperate.

12. Share the post on other social media platforms

Finally, if you want to share your content on your other, connected social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter), simply slide the bar from the left to the right.

When you're ready to post, click "Share" in the top right.

Instagram-Share-Post

Instagram Saved Drafts

If you're not ready to post right away, you can also save it to your Instagram Saved Drafts. Simply go back to the filtering and editing step, tap the back arrow in the top left, and select "Save Draft."

13. Edit the post.

Typos happen to everyone! If you just posted something and notice a glaring spelling error, don't panic. Simply tap the three dots that appear on the right across from your name, then tap "Edit."

Instagram Post Edit Menu

Now that you know how to post to Instagram, you can begin creating content for the platform and connecting with your audience. If you're a business or brand, you'll want a solid strategy for earning engagement and awareness. 

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.



via Business Feeds

The 18 Best Lead Generation Plugins to Add to Your WordPress Site

Collecting high-quality leads is a challenging task that marketers face. Even once you've created a fantastic, high-converting landing page, you're not done.

The good news is that there are a number of plugins available that you can add to your WordPress website to help with lead generation.

Before we dive into 18 of the best plugins available, let's cover the characteristics of a powerful and useful lead generation WordPress plugin.

Learn how to build a WordPress website using Elementor with this free course.

What to Look For in a Lead Generation Plugin for Your WordPress Website

Here are some tips to help you pick the best lead generation plugin(s) for your website:

1. There are positioning options.

Your lead capture form's positioning and location on your website play a role in conversion rate. Make sure your chosen tool offers the positioning options you want. Ask yourself: "Do I want to use a popup? A two-step opt-in? An in-content form?"

2. You can add integrations.

Many lead generation plugins exist to help you capture leads and get those leads into your CRM or list management tool. Whether it's your CRM, Sales Hub, or management tool your team uses, make sure your plugin can integrate.

3. There are customizable fields.

Effective lead capture forms are all about balancing the number of fields on a form and the form's conversion rates. Usually, a shorter form means a higher conversion rate. But at the same time, it can also mean less qualified leads.

For each tool, you want the flexibility to collect as much info as you need to qualify a lead. Some tools will only let you collect a name and email, while others let you add and customize as many fields as you want — so keep an eye out for this option while browsing plugins.

There are a number of lead generation plugins for WordPress available — here are 18 of our favorites.

1. HubSpot WordPress Plugin

hubspot wordpress plugin for all in one marketing and lead generation

With HubSpot's WordPress plugin, you get lead generation support that helps you capture leads via multiple avenues on your website. Here are some examples:

  • Lead capture forms (use the drag-and-drop form builder to control what information you collect from your leads)
  • Popup options (use popups, top banners, and slide-in boxes to capture leads)
  • Free live chat module (connect with visitors and offer support or sales information)
  • Automated chatbot (respond to FAQs while live chat reps are offline)

No matter which avenue your leads come in from, they're all stored in your free HubSpot CRM which makes tagging and segmention simple.

The plugin can help with tasks outside of lead generation as well including email marketing, CRM and contact management, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics.

You have the ability to integrate HubSpot with over 500 other tools to further enhance capabilities and functionality. Lastly, HubSpot's WordPress plugin is simple to install and applies to all plans and products.

Price: Free

2. Gravity Forms

gravity forms lead generation wordpress plugin

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Gravity Forms is a general WordPress form plugin that you can use to create all kinds of lead capture forms. The plugin gives you a drag-and-drop form builder as well as 30+ custom field types to collect the information you want from leads.

There are also some neat extensions to enhance your lead collection. For example, the Partial Entries add-on lets you collect information even if someone doesn't fill out the entire form.

By default, Gravity Forms stores all form submissions in your WordPress dashboard — you can also integrate your forms with a variety of email marketing services, CRMs, and help desks. And if that's not enough, the Zapier and Webhooks integrations can help you connect to pretty much anywhere else, too.

Additionally, if you're already using HubSpot's WordPress plugin, HubSpot will automatically grab Gravity Forms submissions and put them into your CRM for easy management.

Price: Starts at $59

3. Hustle

hustle lead generation wordpress plugin

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Hustle is a WordPress marketing plugin featuring customizable popups, slide-ins, embeds, and social sharing bars. All include a wide array of display options, including:

  • Posts or pages
  • Categories or tags
  • Visitor logged-in status
  • Device
  • Referring website
  • Number of times a visitor has been seen
  • Specific URLs
  • If the visitor has commented before
  • Country
  • Include on 404 page or not

Embeds are your in-content ads or opt-ins — they can be displayed before or after your post content, or both. You can also use shortcodes or widgets to display the embeds in more specific locations.

What makes Hustle stand out is the fact that every feature and integration is included in the free version. You get all 18+ integrations, including Zapier.

If you're using our HubSpot WordPress plugin, Hustle will automatically grab your submissions and send them into your CRM. Alternatively, you can enable Hustle's native HubSpot integration.

The only limitation of the free version is the amount of popups, slide-ins, embeds, and social share bars you can create in each installation. It’s limited to 3 of each, but that should be plenty for the average user.

Price: Free to start, premium version costs $49 per month

4. Bloom

bloom lead generation wordpress plugin

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Bloom is a popular email opt-in plugin from Elegant Themes. It helps you capture email leads using a variety of form types, including:

  • Pop-ups
  • Slide-ins
  • Content lockers (e.g. lock certain content behind an email subscribe form)
  • In-content forms

You get some unique options for triggering your lead capture forms like displaying a form after a person leaves a comment on your site.

The only downside is that you're limited in how much control you have over your forms. For example, you can only customize the existing templates — you can't make your own. And you're limited in the amount of information you can collect from visitors.

If you're okay with those limitations, this tool could be a good one for your team. Plus, you get a nice dashboard where you can view analytics and track lead growth as well as the option to run A/B tests.

Price: $89

5. WPForms

wpforms lead generation wordpress plugin

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WPForms is a popular WordPress form plugin that you can use to create … well, pretty much any type of form.

Using its drag-and-drop builder and a variety of form fields, you can create customized lead capture forms to collect as much or as little information as you want from your leads.

Once you have your form, you have a few different ways to work with leads that you collect. WPForms stores all your leads in its own entry manager, which you can access from your WordPress dashboard.

Alternatively, you can sync your forms up with:

  • A variety of email marketing services
  • Zapier

Additionally, if you're using HubSpot, you can also automatically pull your WPForms submissions into your HubSpot CRM for tagging and segmentation.

Price: Starts free, paid plans range from $39.50 to $199.50

6. Thrive Leads

thrive leads lead generation wordpress plugin

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Thrive Leads is a popular WordPress lead generation plugin that helps collect email addresses with several different opt-in types, including:

  • Lightbox popups
  • "Sticky" ribbons
  • In-line forms
  • Slide-ins
  • 2-step opt-ins
  • Screen fillers
  • Content lockers
  • Scroll/welcome mat

For all the various form types, you can use the included templates and drag-and-drop builder to customize things to make them your own.

One area where Thrive Leads goes further than a lot of other solutions is its SmartLinks feature, which lets you display different forms to people depending on where they're coming from. With this feature, you can ensure you're sending different forms to your email list than what appears on your homepage.

Price: $67 for one license, $97 for five licenses

7. Elementor Pro

elementor pro lead generation plugin for wordpress

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Elementor Pro is a popular WordPress page builder plugin that can help you build both lead capture pages and lead capture forms.

Elementor gives you a visual, drag-and-drop builder interface that you can use to create posts or pages on your site — including standalone landing pages.

With Elementor Pro, you also implement a Popup Builder that lets you use the same interface to design and display popups anywhere on your site.

To actually capture leads, you can use Elementor Pro's Form widget, which lets you build custom forms with as many fields as needed. You can then connect those forms to Zapier to send data to your favorite CRM for tagging and segmentation.

Price: $49

8. OptinMonster

optinmonster lead generation wordpress plugin

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OptinMonster helps you create a variety of different lead capture forms using 75+ pre-built templates and drag-and-drop form builder. With it, you can create:

  • Pop-ups
  • Floating bars
  • Fullscreen overlays
  • Slide-ins

One of the areas where OptinMonster really excels is with its targeting and triggering rules. Using detailed rulesets and AND/OR conditions, you can control exactly where and when your lead capture forms appear.

Another helpful feature is its OnSite Retargeting feature, which lets you display different offers to visitors who have already submitted a lead capture form.

OptinMonster isn't technically a WordPress plugin (it's a SaaS), but it's easy to integrate the OptinMonster service into your WordPress site via its dedicated plugin at WordPress.org.

Price: Starts at $108 per year

9. BoxZilla

boxzilla lead generation wordpress website

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BoxZilla, formerly known as Scroll Triggered Popups, is a useful lead capture plugin that helps you create simple forms that display as either popups or slide-ins on your site.

As the previous name of the plugin suggests, one way you can trigger these forms is as a user scrolls down your page. However, BoxZilla supports other triggers, too, like time on site or exit intent.

Price: Starts free, premium version starts at $48

10. Holler Box

holler box lead generation wordpress plugin

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Holler Box is a simple lead capture plugin that targets itself towards WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads stores, but can really be used for all kinds of WordPress sites.

Holler Box lets you create seven different types of lead capture forms, including popups and slide-ins. However, the most unique option here is Holler Box's faux live chat widget.

This widget looks like a live chat box, but is really just a vehicle to capture leads. Your visitor enters their message and email address.

Then, you can either receive an email notification email yourself, or connect that information to popular email marketing services or your own custom HTML form.

Price: Starts free, premium version starts at $99

11. CallPage

callpage lead generation wordpress plugin

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CallPage is a simple lead capture plugin that helps you collect telephone numbers from potential leads.

To collect phone numbers, it displays a widget that lets visitors enter their phone numbers to receive a call back either right away, or at some point in the future. If you want, you can also collect additional information about your leads, like names or email addresses.

By integrating with Google Analytics, you can also use CallPage to view call histories and analyze the call performance for each traffic source at your site.

Price: Starts free, paid plans start at $159 per month

12. Optin Forms

optin forms lead generation hubspot plugin

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Optin Forms is a free lead capture plugin that helps you create simple email opt-in forms on your site and connect those forms to:

  • AWeber
  • iContact
  • MailChimp
  • GetResponse
  • MadMimi
  • Interspire Email Marketer
  • ConvertKit

You can choose from five different templates and customize all the text and colors to make them match your site and branding.

From there, you can either automatically add your lead capture form to all your blog posts, or use a shortcode to choose exactly where and when to include your forms.

Price: Free

13. Ninja Forms

ninja forms lead generation wordpress plugin

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Ninja Forms is another WordPress form plugin that follows in the vein of WPForms or Gravity Forms by letting you use drag-and-drop to build your own custom forms and then hook that data up to various email marketing services, CRMs, or even Zapier or Webhooks. You can also automatically pull in form submissions to your HubSpot CRM as well.

Among other things, you can use Ninja Forms for:

  • Contact forms
  • Email opt-in forms
  • Surveys and polls
Price: Starts free, paid extensions vary in price

14. OnePress Opt-In Panda

OnePress Opt-In Panda lead generation wordpress plugin

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OnePress Opt-In Panda helps you capture leads by locking parts of your content behind a lead capture form. In order to "unlock" the content, your visitors will need to enter their email addresses.

Or, with the premium version of the plugin, you can also add custom fields to collect additional information about your leads.

The plugin works by wrapping your restricted content in a short code, which means that you can restrict as much (or as little) of your content as you want.

With the paid version of the plugin, you also get other helpful features like a lead management dashboard and analytics.

Price: Starts free, premium version costs $26

15. Lead Champion

lead chamption lead generation wordpress plugin

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Lead Champion detects the leads who leave your website whether or not they complete and submit one of your contact forms. The plugin assigns site visitors a score (that you establish) based on their behavior while on your website — this allows you to evaluate prospects, the effectiveness of your campaigns, and more. 

The plugin helps you easily create forms that complement your branding and website with the configuration panel. It also integrates with other tools — such as Mailchimp, Zapier, and CRMs — to enhance its capabilities. 

Price: Multiple plans available; must contact for price and must have a Lead Champion Booster License

16. Popups, Welcome Bar, Optins and Lead Generation Plugin

Popups, Welcome Bar, Optins and Lead Generation Plugin wordpress plugin for lead generaqtion

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This plugin allows you to design and share branded, eye-catching optins, forms, and calls-to-action on your website to attract your leads. There's never a need to hire a developer with the plugin, as it's simple to set up and use. You can quickly create unique popups with different themes and positions on your site to target leads that way, too. 

The plugin offers four types of optins you can choose from including: 

  • Lightbox Popups
  • Header & Footer Action Bars
  • Toast Notifications
  • Slide-in Messengers
The plugin comes with 20 customizable form templates that have responsive design so your leads can view and complete your forms on any device seamlessly. These forms have customizable elements so you can design them in a way that complements your branding and website.

Price: Free, or upgrade to one of two paid plans for more features

17. Forminator

forminator lead generatin wordpress plugin

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With Forminator, you can use the drag-and-drop builder to add and customize the layout of forms on your WordPress website. The plugin allows you to easily collect any information you want to ask your leads for, as well as make your forms interactive to boost engagement and generate more conversions. 

With Forminator, you can customize forms with as many fields as you want. You can also create interactive polls, quizzes (that are shareable on social), make calculations and take orders, accept payment, and more. 

The plugin integrates with a number of tools and over 1,000 apps — Forminator is compatible with integrations across multiple categories including email, CRM (including HubSpot), storage, and project managers.

Price: Free

18. Optinly

optinly lead generation plugin for your wordpress website

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Optinly is a WordPress lead generation tool that helps you grow your email list with ease. What makes this plugin stand out is its goal-based approach to campaign creation. You choose your marketing goal, a relevant popup template, and then set your campaign live. With the tool, you can create quite a variety of popups such as:

  • Fullscreen Overlays
  • Sidebar Widgets
  • Floating Bars
  • Notification Popups 
  • Gamification Popups

The tool comes with several methods to trigger a popup such as exit intent, time-delay, page-based, and device-based. You can also display popups to the same visitor after a specific number of days using the re-targeting options menu. 

With Optinly, you can make nearly any customization with a user-friendly WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. And with animation options such as fade-in, zoom, and flip-in, you can make your popups catch a visitor’s attention quickly.

You can easily integrate Optinly with email marketing platforms like HubSpot, MailChimp, Constant Contact Contact, and AWeber. 

Price: Free to start, growth plan costs $25 per month.

Build Your Lead Generation Plugin Toolbox

When it comes to the best WordPress lead generation plugins, you have a ton of options available — only you know which ones will best fit into your lead generation efforts.

The important thing to remember here is that you don't have to pick just one — you can combine multiple plugins into one cohesive lead generation strategy.

Learn how to build a WordPress website using Elementor with this free course.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.



via Business Feeds

The AIDA Model: A Proven Framework for Converting Strangers Into Customers

In 1898, Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an eventual inductee of the Advertising Hall of Fame, anonymously wrote a column about three advertising principles he found useful throughout his career in a printing magazine called The Inland Printer, one of the most influential American magazines of the 19th century.

In his column, he states that a successful advertisement should always follow a specific formula.

“The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.”

In other words, copy is only good if it attracts attention, generates interest, and creates conviction, in that order.

Over a century later, Lewis’ principles still ring true. They’re expressed as an acronym, AIDA, and widely used in the advertising industry. In the digital age, brands have even based their entire marketing strategy on the AIDA model.

Before we cover how you can apply the AIDA model to your own content marketing strategy, let’s go over what it is and why it works.

Brands use the AIDA model to determine the way they should craft and distribute marketing messages to their target audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

The AIDA model is considered a hierarchy of effects model, which means consumers must move through each stage of the model to complete the desired action. Just like a typical marketing funnel, each stage has fewer consumers than the previous one.

AIDA Model Illustrated With a Funnel

How to Apply the AIDA Model to Your Marketing

By creating campaigns and structuring your website with the AIDA model in mind, you can get more control over your prospects' paths to a purchasing decision.

In theory, as they progress through each stage of the model, consumers who learn about your brand will develop certain feelings or emotions about your product or service, which is what ultimately compels them to act. 

Here's what you can do to implement AIDA:

Attract Attention

If your content can grab their attention and deeply engage them, your target audience will start to become curious about what your company actually does.

In this stage, the consumer is asking, "What is it?"

In order to get to this stage, you must first get your content in front of them. This comes with increased brand awareness and effective messaging. 

Example

Effective content marketing is one method of attracting visitors to your website. If you create content that solves their problems and focuses on their passions, you'll be able to draw them in and provide a solution. When executed effectively, your target audience should be able to discover your content through Google, social media, and other channels. 

Generate Interest

Once your target audience is interested in your product or service, they’ll want to learn more about your brand, the benefits of your solution, and your potential fit with them.

In this stage, the goal is to get them to think, "I like it."

In order to get to this stage, your content must be persuasive and engaging. While the first stage of AIDA is capturing their attention, this stage is about holding it. You can do this with a hook. 

Example

Let's say your content marketing was effective in drawing them to the website to learn about a pain, problem, or need they have. You might then "hook" them with engaging storytelling that demonstrates the why behind your solution. 

Stories resonate with humans, and it's a simple way to convey information in a way that stimulates empathy and curiosity.

To generate enough excitement in your prospects to compel them to act, you need to make sure their affinity for your brand hits a certain threshold. The more aligned you are with their needs and values, the more likely you are to achieve success.

Stimulate Desire

People do business with those they know, like, and trust. The first two stages of the AIDA model establish the know and the like

The goal of this stage is to change "I like it" to "I want it."

And that's done by cementing in the final piece of the puzzle: Trust.

To do this, keep serving them content. Make sure they subscribe to your blog, follow you on social media, and download your offers. The more prospects interact with your brand, the more they’ll trust you, boosting the chances they’ll eventually buy your product or service.

Example

The prospects you’re most likely to close are the consumers who envision a future with you -- they already enjoy consuming your content and think your product or service will be even better.

For this reason, you must institute a gap between where they are and where they could be with your solution. At the same time, you must establish social proof with case studies and testimonials. 

"Before and After" style content is a great example of how to stimulate desire while gaining trust.

Spur Into Action

After you generate enough desire for your product or service, give your prospects the chance to act on it. After all, what’s the point of creating content and building deep relationships with prospects if there isn’t a clear next step?

The goal is to get them to decide, "I'm getting it."

No matter what the "next step" is, you should compel them to respond with low-friction but high-incentive calls to action.

Example

Whether they're far away or close to a purchasing decision, the next step that you present should be "high-value." In other words, it must help them in some way.

If they understand what the outcome of your offer is and find it valuable to them, they'll be more likely to act (since they aren't simply committing to a sales call or sales content).

Consider exactly how you can provide that value while motivating them to engage with you. 

The CTA for this "next step" or offer should be prominent, clear, and uncomplicated. Perhaps it's a button or banner that spells out what action they must take and what they get if they do. By eliminating friction in the process, you increase your likelihood of success.

The AIDA model is a sturdy framework for guiding your audience through the buyer’s journey and spurring them to act. And if you apply it to your content marketing, you’ll be leveraging a proven formula that can consistently engage, persuade, and convert an audience into customers. However, it starts with knowing your customer journey.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.



via Business Feeds

SBE Council Applauds FCC Actions to Expand High-Speed Internet Access

High-Speed Internet

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has applauded the orders by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support broadband investment and connectivity; and faster 5G Deployment.

FCC Moves to Expand 5G for Rural US

Among the decisions made by the FCC include the creation of a 5G Fund for Rural America. The move will help speed up access and the availability of fast, higher-quality internet connectivity for small businesses. This is especially important in underserved and rural communities in America.

Other decisions that garnered support from the SBE include:

  • The fund is expected to distribute as much as $9 billion over the next 10 years to extend 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural communities.
  • More places in America will soon gain access to 5G networks including those without unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband, and Tribal lands.
  • Part of the 5G fund will help deploy technology that will facilitate precision agriculture and boost agriculture productivity.
  • Streamlining state and local approval of certain wireless structure modifications to further accelerate the deployment of 5G.
  • Restoring Internet Freedom Order

The 5G Race

With the decision by the FCC, America gets a shot in the arm in its 5G race. With 5G networks, businesses stand to get higher data speeds than 4G. This translates to more amounts of data being easily transferred with little delay. Additionally, 5G also offers a higher capacity of networks meaning it can accommodate a larger number of devices per square mile. And this will allow enterprises to support a large number of devices in their infrastructure with faster data transmissions.

The president & CEO of the SBE Council, Karen Kerrigan, explains the importance of the 5G technology in the release. Kerrigan says, “There is no overstating the importance of the orders advanced by the FCC today. Taken together, these orders will accelerate access and the availability of fast, higher-quality internet connectivity for small businesses, especially in underserved and rural America.”

These capabilities will introduce new opportunities and more options across many industries. Everything from more efficient remote working to telehealth, augmented reality, and remote learning will be improved.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "SBE Council Applauds FCC Actions to Expand High-Speed Internet Access" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Where is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos headed next?

IT HAS THE largest windows in space. Six reclining seats. And blue edges that passengers can grab hold of as they float weightlessly more than 100km (62 miles) above Earth. If that is not rarefied enough, imagine if one of the fellow passengers were Jeff Bezos, gazing down onto a planet that is spanned by his digital conglomerate, Amazon, and of which he is the richest inhabitant. When the time comes for Mr Bezos’s private venture, Blue Origin, to send paying tourists into space, its proprietor will almost certainly be among them. “I suspect that he will be—and is, indeed, eager to be—one of the first private citizens to blast himself into space,” writes Walter Isaacson, a biographer, in an introduction to the collected writings of Mr Bezos. Already you shudder to think of Mr Bezos’s peals of laughter ringing through the heavens.

It is easy to assume that for the 56-year-old man who has (and sells) everything, space tourism is the ultimate vanity project. He launches rockets from his ranch in West Texas. He has a rippling physique. His bald head resembles that of his idol, Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek”. He is fulfilling a childhood dream. In 1982 he told his schoolmates: “Space, the final frontier, meet me there!”

Yet dismissing his space quest as a combination of mid-life crisis and money to burn would be...



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American lawmen are going after Opioids Inc

“IN THE SHADOW of their own profound failures, DoJ and DEA now seek to retroactively impose…requirements that are not found in any law.” Unusually strong words to hurl at America’s Department of Justice and its Drug Enforcement Administration. They come from an unusual lawsuit filed by Walmart on October 22nd. It is a pre-emptive strike against the Feds, who are preparing to hammer the giant retailer for allegedly fuelling the opioid crisis.

Opioids Inc is under legal assault on several fronts. Drugmakers were first in the firing line. Last year a judge in Oklahoma ruled that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had created a “public nuisance” by contributing to opioid abuse and ordered it to pay some $500m; J&J is appealing the verdict. The company also stands accused of wrongdoing, along with other firms, in lawsuits filed in federal courts by thousands of local governments. While insisting it did nothing wrong, J&J signalled this month that it is willing to cough up $5bn if a comprehensive settlement can be agreed.

For the world’s largest drug firm, with annual revenues of $56bn, such a hit would be a publicity nightmare but financially manageable. For smaller fry, litigation can prove fatal. On October 12th Mallinckrodt, a big purveyor of generic opioids, agreed to pay $1.6bn in a settlement as it filed for...



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How hotels are trying to attract remote workers

THE BUSY worker looks at the clock on her laptop and discovers that it is nearly 1pm. Time for lunch. So she picks up the phone and asks to speak to room service. A hot meal appears 20 minutes later; no need to bother with the cooking or washing up.

If that vision appeals, you could be a potential customer for one of the many hotel groups that are trying to induce people to rent a room for use as an office. The idea makes a certain amount of sense. Hotel rooms are short of guests during the pandemic; some workers may find it too difficult (or boring) to sit at the kitchen table every day.

The big chains are rushing to test out the size of this market. Hilton has launched a new service called Workspaces in America, Britain and Canada which gives workers the chance to use the gym or swimming pool (where available) and complimentary bicycle hire. The Wyndham chain is offering worker packages at hotels in California, Florida and South Carolina.

Hotels have long made good money out of the business market, catering for business travellers, conferences and team get-togethers. They have also recognised that they need a good Wi-Fi signal to appeal to laptop-toting businesspeople. But renting rooms by the day has traditionally been aimed at a rather different slice of the market from the solitary desk jockey.

...



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Samsung after Lee Kun-hee

IN THE SPRING of 1995 word got to Lee Kun-hee that a batch of Samsung’s brand-new mobile phones, which it had doled out as new-year gifts, did not work. Incensed, the group’s chairman ordered employees at the factory that had made the offending devices to pile up tens of thousands of them in a courtyard. A cool $45m-worth of equipment then went up in flames.

The episode is emblematic of the way Mr Lee (pictured), who died on October 25th aged 78, turned a South Korean maker of knock-off electronics into a technology powerhouse. He was obsessed with quality and demanded total devotion from executives. Every decade or so he made bold bets. His last one, on smartphones and semiconductors, paid off handsomely. Samsung Electronics, the group’s crown jewel, has a market value of $311bn, more than JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank.

The patriarch’s death was not unexpected—he had been incapacitated since a heart attack in 2014. It will not prompt leadership changes. But it highlights two challenges facing South Korea’s biggest chaebol (conglomerate). The group must find growth beyond maturing smartphone markets. And it has to grapple with Mr Lee’s other legacy: an over-cosy relationship with politics that has embroiled his company, as well as his son and successor, Lee Jae-yong, in corruption cases...



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Climate-conscious venture capitalists are back

“TO SOME EXTENT, we try to scare off investors,” admits Mateo Jaramillo, co-founder of Form Energy. The startup is trying to solve one of renewables’ knottiest problems. Solar and wind power are intermittent, so green utility firms must store excess energy and release it when no sun shines or breeze blows. Large lithium-ion batteries can discharge energy for up to four hours. Form Energy, founded in 2017, wants to extend that to days with a different, and undisclosed, battery technology. In May it announced a pilot project with Great River Energy, a Minnesotan utility. So star-studded is its team of founders that a rival’s boss calls it “the Travelling Wilburys of energy storage”, in reference to the 1980s supergroup featuring George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Still, Mr Jaramillo does not expect to start scaling up until 2025.

The combination of long wait times and unproven technology would give many venture capital (VC) investors the jitters. Most want to see returns in five to seven years. Form Energy has more patient backers. They include Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), a fund set up by Bill Gates and supported by other billionaires; Eni Next, the Italian oil firm’s VC arm; and The Engine, a fund run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This reflects the evolving nature of the green VC ecosystem, which is teeming again...



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Californians vote on the future of Uber

EVEN A HALF-EATEN apple shoved in Dara Khosrowshahi’s face by his young son during a Zoom interview does not ruffle Uber’s boss. “Not now, sweetheart,” was his calm response. Mr Khosrowshahi needs all the unflappability he can muster. Besides picking their president, on November 3rd Californians will vote on a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, that will shape the future of the ride-hailing firm and other gig-economy platforms. The companies have spent nearly $200m promoting the measure, in an effort to preserve their business model.

At issue is whether freelance drivers, couriers and other app-based workers should be treated as employees, entitled to benefits such as unemployment insurance and sick leave. “Prop 22” is a stab at balancing worker protections with the flexibility that lets people work when they want while ensuring that customers never have to wait long for a ride or a meal delivery.

Founded 11 years ago, Uber created the template for the gig economy. Its software matches demand and supply in real time. At first riders and drivers benefited, as Uber and Lyft subsidised rides in a battle for market share. In the past few years the duo began to cut costs, egged on since they went public last year by investors. Uber’s “take rate”, the share of fares it keeps for itself, now averages 26%, up from 20% in...



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SBE Council Applauds FCC Actions to Expand High-Speed Internet Access

High-Speed Internet

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has applauded the orders by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support broadband investment and connectivity; and faster 5G Deployment.

FCC Moves to Expand 5G for Rural US

Among the decisions made by the FCC include the creation of a 5G Fund for Rural America. The move will help speed up access and the availability of fast, higher-quality internet connectivity for small businesses. This is especially important in underserved and rural communities in America.

Other decisions that garnered support from the SBE include:

  • The fund is expected to distribute as much as $9 billion over the next 10 years to extend 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural communities.
  • More places in America will soon gain access to 5G networks including those without unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband, and Tribal lands.
  • Part of the 5G fund will help deploy technology that will facilitate precision agriculture and boost agriculture productivity.
  • Streamlining state and local approval of certain wireless structure modifications to further accelerate the deployment of 5G.
  • Restoring Internet Freedom Order

The 5G Race

With the decision by the FCC, America gets a shot in the arm in its 5G race. With 5G networks, businesses stand to get higher data speeds than 4G. This translates to more amounts of data being easily transferred with little delay. Additionally, 5G also offers a higher capacity of networks meaning it can accommodate a larger number of devices per square mile. And this will allow enterprises to support a large number of devices in their infrastructure with faster data transmissions.

The president & CEO of the SBE Council, Karen Kerrigan, explains the importance of the 5G technology in the release. Kerrigan says, “There is no overstating the importance of the orders advanced by the FCC today. Taken together, these orders will accelerate access and the availability of fast, higher-quality internet connectivity for small businesses, especially in underserved and rural America.”

These capabilities will introduce new opportunities and more options across many industries. Everything from more efficient remote working to telehealth, augmented reality, and remote learning will be improved.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "SBE Council Applauds FCC Actions to Expand High-Speed Internet Access" was first published on Small Business Trends



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ProTips: 5 Ways to Scale Customer Support Without Breaking the Bank

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ProTips: 5 Ways to Scale Customer Support Without Breaking the Bank

This is a guest post by Himanshu, Exotel

Customer support directly impacts customer loyalty, revenue churn, and customer lifetime value (CLV). As businesses grow, scaling customer support is important to deliver the same level of customer experience. But how does a company scale-up support without breaking the bank? Just increasing the team size by hiring more agents isn’t enough, as there are many other factors at play. Below are five things to keep in mind while scaling support:

ProTip 1: Invest in the Right Tools  

Helpdesk tool

Having the right helpdesk tool in place is pivotal in assisting your move to a bigger support team. Not only does it empower your support team to communicate effectively with your customers, but it also helps you streamline other aspects of support, like setting up SLAs, tracking metrics or assigning tickets contextually.

Here are a few benefits of choosing the right helpdesk tool:

  • Adds personalization to your customer communication
  • Helps increase the productivity of your agents
  • Collect customer feedback, track CSAT scores and other metrics easily

Calls are one of the most commonly used channels to support customers, so the platform you use to power your calls is just as important as your helpdesk tool. To help your team communicate effectively through calls, you need to invest in a cloud communication platform that integrates with your helpdesk tool. Exotel does all that and more.

Here are a few benefits of using a cloud telephony platform:

  • Increased call visibility
  • Low maintenance and minimal upfront costs
  • Enhanced customer privacy through virtual numbers
  • Manage calls from anywhere

ProTip 2: Automate & Integrate

Automation

Support automation can save you hundreds of hours of work and resources every day. While many companies are still skeptical about using bots or workflows for providing support, data shows us just how well it works.

In fact, according to a report, AI-powered chatbots have the potential to resolve 8 out of 10 common customer queries. More importantly, support automation doesn’t replace agents, but assists them in getting things done faster. This means you don’t need to worry about providing poor customer service.

Let’s look at some of the ways to levearge automation:

  • You can create a workflow automation in Zoho Desk. It helps you add a rule, set alerts, and more. You can use it to update tickets, trigger email notifications, and more.
  • Eliminate manual ticket assignments by creating conditions to assign tickets to agents
  • Zia, the inbuilt chatbot inside Zoho Desk, shares relevant solutions from your knowledge base directly with your customers depending on their query

Integrations

While scaling support, make sure to integrate the various tools that your support team uses. These integrations simplify your transition to a bigger team by streamlining your support processes. They remove the need to switch between apps and get things done.

Let’s look at some popular Zoho Desk integrations and how you can leverage them:

  • Jira – Easily convert tickets raised in ZohoDesk to engineering issues in Jira
  • Exotel – Triggers calls and tracks missed calls right from the dashboard
  • Slack – Get real-time support updates, collaborate with your team, and boost productivity

When done right, both automation and integrations can help you:

  • Increase the productivity of your agents
  • Reduce support costs
  • Reduce customer waiting time and the number of open tickets
  • Get advanced insights from combined reports

ProTip 3: Prioritize Support Queries

A huge part of making your move to a bigger team efficiently is by prioritizing the right support queries. Not all queries require the same attention, and having more people on your team isn’t going to help you improve customer service if you fail to address critical issues at the right time.

Moreover, it’s simply impossible to reply to everyone immediately, and that’s what makes ticket prioritization so crucial.

So, how do you identify which support queries to prioritize?

The best method is to create a prioritization system. Most helpdesk tools, including Zoho Desk, allow you to tag a ticket as low, medium, or high priority. This can be done both manually or automatically. Here are a few popular methods of prioritization you can implement:

  • First in First out  (FIFO) – Queries are resolved in the order the customers raise them
  • Manual assignment – An agent goes through each ticket and tags the priority manually
  • Automatic assignment –  Priority is automatically determined using custom workflows
  • Categorization – Assigning priority depending on the type of the query

Remember, these systems are not a one size fits all. It depends on factors like your team size,

working hours, the kind of product you have, and more.

While you’re setting up this system, you should consider setting SLAs as well. These are guidelines that state the maximum time that an agent can take to answer a ticket. This time can be set according to various parameters, including the priority level. For example, the maximum response time for a critical support request can be set to 30 mins. 

ProTip 4: Enable Self-Serve

Customer support doesn’t always require an agent’s assistance. Sometimes support queries can be resolved using a knowledge base or a quick tutorial video. Not only does it saves the agent’s time, it also empowers customers to instantly solve a problem themselves. This is the reason most businesses suggest customers to go through their articles before allowing them to raise a support query.

Knowledge bases are one of the most effective ways to enable your customers to self-serve.

Most helpdesk tools, including Zoho Desk, allow you to create and format knowledge bases. You can also use it to create forums, customize it according to your brand, and more. Additionally, these pages are also SEO-friendly, which helps attract relevant customers from search engines.

You can also integrate knowledge bases with a chatbot to suggest customers the right solutions directly on chat. This makes chatbots very useful and effective.

ProTip 5: Track Important Metrics

To ensure you are delivering high-quality customer support, you need to track some critical support metrics. These metrics help you understand your performance, find areas of improvement, and stay focused on what matters most. Here are five key support metrics you should track:

  • First Response Time – This indicates the time spent in responding to a customer query. Don’t confuse it with the total time taken to resolve a query.
  • Customer Satisfaction – CSAT scores indicate customer happiness. The results are based on the customer’s feedback after a ticket is resolved.
  • Resolution Time – This is the total time taken to resolve a particular query.
  • Call Wait Time – This is how long a customer has to wait before they are connected to an agent.
  • Net Promoter Score – The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others.

The best part is that you don’t need to spend time tracking these metrics manually on a sheet. Once you’ve configured them on your helpdesk tool, most of these metrics are tracked automatically.

Scaling support is not a one-time thing. You’ll need to do it at different stages as your company grows. While tools play a very important role in helping you scale, it’s eventually all about taking the customer-first approach. Remember, loyal customers are your biggest brand advocates.

They provide positive endorsements and reviews that help you acquire more customers and strengthen your brand.

Exotel Zoho Phonebridge integration helps you manage calls and fetch information directly on Zoho apps. After using the integration, you can enable incoming call notifications, access call details with recordings, and trigger calls inside any Zoho application which supports Phonebridge v3 APIs.

Try Exotel for Zoho Desk

What are the different ways you’ve found useful for scaling your support? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

This article, "ProTips: 5 Ways to Scale Customer Support Without Breaking the Bank" was first published on Small Business Trends



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