Grow Your Business with a Chatbot

The business world is constantly adapting by incorporating technological advancements in a way that furthers productivity. One such form of technology that is rapidly gaining attention is the chatbot.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot(also called chatterbot) is a software that performs an automated function in the form of simulating conversations, via voice or text interactions. As the name suggests, their primary function is to chat with the customers.

They often appear on sites and applications with a chatting platform. They begin conversations with customers or give responses, usually in the form of helpful tips, advice, recommendations and instructions.

How does it work?

Chatbots work by giving preprogrammed conversational prompts and responses to customers. While this might sound limiting, many sophisticated chatbots are able to handle a wide variety of conversational cues.

Of course with chatbots the goal is to seem human in dialog, but it is fine if they fall short of this. Apart from the fact that AI technology hasn’t quite reached that level of sophistication, it is also not the key selling point of a chatbot. In a world as automated as the one we currently live, the human touch is simply not as important as functionality and effectiveness.

There are three generally accepted types of chatbots; stateful, semi-stateful and stateless bots.

  1. Stateful bots are able to retain information given during conversation and will make responses based on this conversation. That means they learn and evolve based on each conversation.
  2. Stateless bots are unable to retain any information and will respond to each message independent of any previous message. In this case, their responses are not linked to any previous message.
  3. Semi-stateful bots are able to retain some information in responding to messages but only for that particular conversation. With each conversation, the user must start over.

It’s Effect on Your Business

As messaging programs, chatbots are able to run indefinitely needing no breaks, no time to think, and no need to consult any other source of information. This means they are able to perform conversations instantaneously and they are always available. Many customers would appreciate this interaction as it means they can obtain relevant information anytime while skipping the wait.

Chatbots are especially beneficial to small businesses because of their capabilities. One simple software will attend to the needs of multiple customers simultaneously with no loss of effectiveness relative to the number of customers. This is incredibly useful, especially for businesses with small staff who can’t field every question.

This software is capable of performing more than just messaging functions. Depending on the software programmers they can receive payments, make adjustments, contact administrators, make orders, and collect statistics. Like any other form of software, they can be programmed to perform a host of functions beyond their primary use.

Considering these and more, it seems a good idea that every business online strongly consider adding a chatbot to their platform if they want to see it grow.

Google On GDPR Pop Ups Notices With Search & SEO

Today, implied consent or the ones given just by visiting a site is no longer enough. This same directive goes for your pop ups too. There is now the need to make sure that your pop ups comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation. The result is that there have been tons of emails on GDPR flooded to user’s address over the past few weeks. Now, many fear that the GDPR pop ups will affect search and SEO. However, Google has said that it doesn’t necessarily have to. Websites do not need to use intrusive interstitials to let your visitor know of GDPR changes on your website.

Well, the short account is that Google has no exception for the interstitial penalty for GDPR requirements. This means that you can use them provided they are not intrusive. What it means by this is that it is okay if you have the pop up on top of the content itself. For instance, if you load with an HTML and you are using  JavaScript to show the pop up on it, then that is good. This way, the user can still see the main content behind the pop up.

However, if the user has to click another button to actually get to the content itself, Google will frown upon it. This is the case when you replace the entire content with an interstitial or redirect to an interstitial making Googlebot click a button to access the content. Of course, this way, the content will not pass the mobile-friendly testing tool. Mobile is emphasized since it is most affected by intrusive pop ups.  While checking with the mobile friendly tool, it should show the content alongside the interstitial. In the event that the content does not appear even after double checking in the HTML, then, it can’t work as far as Google is concerned.  Also, Google doesn’t like when a website uses a layout where the above-the-fold part of the page is similar to a standalone interstitial while the main content is beneath the fold.

What is the penalty for those websites who might have breached this policy? Simple, it will significantly affect their search ranking of their site. What this means is that a strict adherence to the Google policy on GDPR is also part of search engine optimization since failing on it will significantly affect your site’s visibility. Therefore, make sure your content is easily accessible to a user right from search results especially on mobile and you would have nothing to worry about.

Facebook No Longer Allows Ads Targeting with Third Party Data

In a continuation of the fallout to the Cambridge Analytic a privacy scandal, Facebook announced the shutting down of its Partner Categories – a section in its advertiser tools that allows third-party data brokers like Experian, Oracle and Acxiom to sell targeting data to businesses and companies.

What this simply means is that these third-party aggregators will no longer be allowed to match their data against Facebook’s audience and then sell the information gleaned – usually purchasing activities- to businesses and companies for improved ads targeting purposes.

There are three available data sources used in ads targeting – From Facebook, from business themselves and from third-party data brokers. These data brokers get their data from Facebook users’ other online (purchasing) activities outside Facebook. This third source is what Facebook is shutting down in the next 6 months as they have decided they are a jink in their privacy security armour as they have less control over how and where these firms get their data.

So what exactly does this change mean for stakeholders -Facebook, Facebook users, third-party data aggregators and businesses that advertise on Facebook?

For Facebook, it means they will jettison the partnership they have with major data brokers. The Social Media giant is hoping that this move, as well as other moves – will go a long way in assuring its users as to their online security. On the flip side, this move may negatively affect Facebook’s earnings from ads as businesses may seek alternative ways of advertising to potential clients. Apparently however, Facebook has decided that the earnings are not worth any potential troubles that may arise.

For Facebook users, it means they will be less targeted with those “too perfect” ads as their online activities outside Facebook will no longer be matched with them on Facebook. That creepy feeling of being watched will be reduced.

For third data aggregators, it means a loss in business revenues. Already, there is a wave of worry among these third party data brokers and agencies about the ban. The impact was seen in Acxiom stocks as it dropped by 30% following the announcement. In fact the company now expects “total revenue and profitability to be negatively impacted by as much as $25 million” in 2019 as a result.

For businesses that purchase these data for improved advertising on Facebook, they will have to rely solely on the data collected by Facebook together with their own data. As most businesses have at best scant data, they will be heavily reliant on whatever data Facebook is able to provide. Bottom line, their advertising efficiency on Facebook will be drastically reduced.

Although Partner Categories was not how Cambridge Analytic a got their data – and the outcome of the ensuing scandal, Facebook has taken this step nevertheless, as a precautionary move. They have responded well to the public backlash and are removing potential frailties from their system.

Bing Ads Editor Adds Account Level Ad Extensions

The new features rolled out by Bing Ads earlier this year now comes with the ability to manage ads campaign directly from your ad editor. Bing had announced that it would roll out new features, and here we are with the account level ad extension.

This feature saves advertisers lots of time in managing campaigns efficiently as it supports scheduling of campaigns. Though they are only available on windows, Bing announced that the Mac versions would be available later this year. There are also rumours that new extensions like the Price Extension would be released later.

Here are 5 things to should know about the Account level Ad extension

Directly Manage Ad Extension

The account level ad extension allows an advertiser to directly manage ad extension at the account level. What this means is that you don’t have to navigate out of the account dashboard to extend ads campaigns. Unlike any other desktop ad editor, the Bing Ad Account level Extension saves you time, and its uniqueness from any other ad editor ensures you automatically apply extension to all your existing and new campaigns.

New and Improved Interface

The user interface had undergone minor changes to accommodate the new features and extensions. Though the dual column division (with the master pane on the left and the result pane on the left) has remained unchanged, the improved interface now accommodates the added extensions. The left sidebar is divided into two columns, with the campaign and everything relating to it at the top and the shared library “Manage” pane at the bottom. This bottom left pane accommodates all the editing and managing features, including the new account level ad extension.

The result page on the other hand highlights the output of whatever action taken on the left sidebar. This also displays errors on the account level ad extension associations in red if there are any.

Advanced Search Algorithm

The added extension also comes with new feature/upgrade in terms of producing search results. First the new algorithm would ignore stop words like “an, a, the on for” if they do not have any impact on the intended query.

Similarly, the algorithm has an exact match keyword that matches the same query as entered by the advertiser. In other words, you don’t need to manage and build any reordered or reworded variations of your keywords to get your required coverage.

Conclusion

The account level ad extension came at a time an advertiser needed it most, and every feature and function added is would always be useful at one point or the other. The improved interface and algorithm makes it easier to use and saves a lot of time.

Instagram Brings back GIFs in Stories

Latest updates show that Instagram is bringing back GIFs in stories, after they were first launched on the social media platform around the first month of 2018. Two “consumer facing” updates were released recently by the platform. The second update shows that short length ads will also enjoy full screen support in Instagram Stories. Users are ecstatic about this, as they had showed displeasure with the removal of the GIF stickers earlier on.

You can recall that Instagram had removed GIF stickers around March when a sticker tagged as “really offensive” was posted on the platform. Giphy, the brand that develops the stickers, claimed to have sorted out the issues arising and looked forward to their suspension being lifted and the stickers integrated back into Instagram Stories. According to a statement put out by the Giphy team, they said that their stickers were being affected by “a bug” discovered in the content moderation filters. They further added that their whole sticker library was re-moderated more than 3 times, and even another level of moderation added to the already existing one.

Giphy had earlier sent out an apology to users, condemning the act and promising it will not happen again. In an interview with TechCrunch, the app said “GIPHY condone or support this kind of content. We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderations systems and processes and have made specific changes to our process to ensure something like this does not happen again.”

Instagram’s Response

Instagram responded by bringing back GIFs on its Instagram Stories feature. But this time it was done in a way that the platform also has some form of access to the Giphy stickers database. A statement released by Instagram said that they have “been in close contact with GIPHY throughout (the) process” and they were sure that Giphy had “put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience.”

Snapchat on the other hand said they don’t have any plans of bringing back the GIFs yet. Critics believe they are probably waiting to see how good it will fair on Instagram during this second sojourn, before putting out a formal statement as to whether they will bring the stickers back or forever let it go.

Remember the two social media networks (Instagram and Snapchat) had earlier condemned the racial slurs that came with the GIFs (which led to removal/suspension of the Giphy stickers). Snapchat had earlier released a statement saying, “as soon as we were made aware, we removed the GIF and have disabled Giphy until we can be sure that this won’t happen again . . . while we wait for Giphy’s team to take a look at it.”

Meanwhile, Instagram users can enjoy the GIFs while they last. Perhaps, Snapchat might reconsider it’s stance overtime.

Creating a Seamless Pre- To Post-Click Experience

When starting a new Pay Per Click campaign many business owners often ignore their customer’s experience and focus on selling their products alone. A PPC campaign cannot be successful without properly analyzing the experiences your customers would have.

Pre to Post click experience is the overall experience a user has from viewing an ad to clicking and buying a product online.

Your PPC campaign should put into consideration what the user would experience from the pre-click stage to the post-click stage. In other words there must be consistency and transparency all through the stages. Here are 3 beginner’s guides for a better user experience PPC Campaign.

Transparency and Consistency

These are very important when carrying out a successful PPC campaign. The user experience is the focus here, so, advertising a product with inconsistent price tag and contents that lacks consistency would lead to bad user experience.

Imagine clicking an ad that claims a product for $25 and offers 20 of such product in a pack, only to be disappointed when visiting the site that the product is $30 for the 20 packs. This shows a high level of inconsistency which would only make your users believe the ad is a deceptive one.

Brand Recognition

Sharing their experiences on how likely they might click an ad or buy products online, an online user narrated how she was tricked into clicking an ad on Facebook only to be disappointed that the brand name she saw was different from the site she clicked. For instance, a brand with the name “XYZ” on ad, turning out to be “XZY” on their website; such ads can be termed deceptive, as the user only clicked the ad because he/she was acquainted with the XYZ brand.

Post-click experience

The post click experience matters to the users as much as product sales matters to you. A user wants to buy a product because he knows such product would bring satisfaction, but the question is what are doing to enhance such experience and make them come back for more?

The interface of your site says a lot about this. Apart from the earlier mentioned consistency, transparency and brand recognition, a user wants to spend less time buying a product and checking out. Constant pop-ups urging the user to buy other products are distracting and should be avoided. The post-click experience also involves the final satisfaction they get after buying the product; your PPC campaign extends to the customer care you offer.

Conclusion

Your brand is not valuable if your product does not guarantee an above average user experience. Consistency and transparency are keys to avoiding deceptive ads. Users want to get exactly what they are attracted to and not the other way round.

3 Simple Ways to Drive More Website Conversions

It’s great if your website traffic is booming, but what is the point if that traffic is not converting? Make a quick search online and you’ll find tons of tips on how to make your site convert. Undoubtedly, it can be confusing and maybe even chaotic to try to make your way through all those tips and strategies, so why not start with a few simple strategies you can focus on for results? Before we carry on, let us be clear on what is meant by “conversion rate”.

What is conversion rate?

Your conversion rate refers to your ability to get a certain proportion of your website visitors to complete a specific action that you have defined as a conversion. Your conversion can be anything from an email opt-in to a sale. The higher the percentage of your visitors that subscribes to your list or makes a purchase, the higher your conversion rate.

Now, what should you do to drive more conversions?

1. Make it easy to get to the endpoint

The endpoint of your user journey depends on what your conversion is. If it is the completion of a sale, then you’ll need to make it easy for visitors to get to the purchase page. In ecommerce, that means reducing the number of clicks. Actually, that applies to a number of different kinds of sites as well.

Nobody wants to have to click through several pages to get to what they want, so your focus should be on making it as easy as possible for your visitors to get to that point. Reduce the number of pop-ups you use or eliminate them entirely.

2. Send emails to customers who abandon carts

Once you notice that a visitor has filled their cart but abandoned it at some point, you need to make moves to ensure that this opportunity to make a sale does not pass you by. You can set up an automated email sequence to specifically target customers like this.

One effective way of bringing such a customer back is by sending them an offer via email. If they don’t take action the first time, continue to send them offers.

3. Avoid springing ugly surprises

Any buyer will almost certainly be disappointed when they realise they have to pay extra fees after they have taken the time to fill their cart and made it to the checkout page. In fact, they may leave your site in disgust and decide to never come back. It is better to be upfront with any fees because trying to be dodgy will only backfire.

Remember, your website is there to serve your visitors. Do those well and conversions should get better.

Bing Ads Solution for Conversion Tracking With Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Apple made a change to its Intelligent Tracking Prevention which essentially allows marketers to track users via third party cookies for only 24 hours from the time of their visit to an advertiser’s website using Safari browser. After the expiration of 24 hours, these cookies are only good for supporting logins to an app or page. At the end of a month, the cookies are completely purged.

What this meant for advertisers?

For advertisers, Apple’s ITP means that unless a visitor converts within 24 hours of visiting their website (like clicking on an ad for instance), the conversion tracking is lost. As a result of this, advertisers will lose a means of keeping track of ad conversion. This new feature can adversely affect Bing ads reporting, which is why Microsoft is encouraging advertisers to take advantage of the update to Bing’s conversion tracking.

Bing’s solution

Bing announced its solution, a new Google analytics cookie that would help maintain conversion tracking in Safari. Some advertisers may have seen a notification in their Bing ad account requesting that they enable auto-tagging of Click ID which will allow for conversion tracking. Enabling this checkbox will automatically use Microsoft Click ID to tag destination URLs. This can be set under URL options in the shared library section under account level in your Bing ads account.

Bing ads make use of a Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag to control conversion tracking. When this tag is placed on advertisers sites, it records what users do on these sites, from when they click on an ad including any other action they take. What Bing is doing is creating a workaround in line with Apple’s guidance on working round ad attribution which allows for server side storage for features of ad impressions.

When advertisers enable auto-tagging for MSCLIKID or Microsoft Click ID, the following process takes place:

  • The Bing ads’ UET tag will place a cookie called _uetmsclkid on the advertiser’s website to record the unique click ID that brought the visitor to the website after he or she clicked on an ad.
  • Bing ads can now connect the conversion from any user back to the ads that assisted in the conversion via the click ID.
  • It will then set up a session ID cookie that will assist in improving the accuracy of the conversion tracking. (This feature is set to happen by default and has nothing to do with auto tagging)

For most advertisers who already have auto tagging enabled for some other purpose, this solution is already working. But for others, it will start working as soon as they enable auto tagging. It is also enabled at default when new conversion goals are created. However, this fix doesn’t address how retargeting works after 24 hours, it currently only works for tracking conversion attribution.

Fact Checking Google’s Reintroduction to Featured Snippets

Sometimes, on search results page, you will find a short description at the top of the result. This short description is known as Google featured snippet. Snippets help searchers decide if a particular result is relevant to the search they are making.

Google featured snippets have gone through several evolutions over the years and will continue to do so, as it significantly affects search engine optimisation for websites all over. This helpful ‘zero position’ search result was reintroduced by Danny Sullivan in his very first blog post as Google’s new public liaison for search. He gave a lot of insight into how the feature has been developed and the improvements it provides to users.

Here are a few facts about the Google’s Reintroduced Featured Snippets

Featured snippet useful for mobile and voice search

In today’s digital society, a large percentage of search queries are done on mobile devices. Featured snippets make it possible for search users to get relevant answers fast. When you make a query using your Smartphone’s Google assistant, you will typically get a featured snippet reply and source quote.

A lot of improvement went into this section as Google included update to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines that provides more information on websites so as to avoid featuring misleading information and unsupported theories. These guidelines updates will ensure that the results that appear in Google featured snippets are authentic and trustworthy.

Video snippets introduced

Google featured snippets are not just for written content. Google recently introduced featured video snippets which features suggested videos that match a particular search query. Users now have the option of seeing a video that answers the questions they are asking rather reading the plain old boring texts. For example, a suggested video clip for “how to braid hair” will come in handy for users searching for information on how to braid hair. This visual demonstration will definitely be more useful than a regular step by step demonstration.

Multiple featured snippets

Another new improvement to Google’s featured snippets is the introduction of multiple featured snippets. This allows users to select location based featured snippets or results answering the same question but from a different perspective. Showing up more than one snippet per search can be helpful when users want to get answers on the same query but in different ways, they can then choose the answer that best fits what they want without having to leave the search results page.

What Google featured snippets mean for brands

Google is working seriously hard to provide a better search engine experience for users, and the featured snippets are just one of the methods to make this happen. As this feature becomes more prominent in Google SERP, the conventional single results system may become ineffective. Brands need to revisit their SEO strategies in order to create content that allow for featured snippets. This is not just useful in providing relevant results to users; it also helps in pushing traffic to the publishers and brands.

Top Technical SEO Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has become the basis for which many websites are updated today. This is because before a prospective customer buys a particular product or gets a service, they tend to search on Google to find information about it. As a web operator, you wouldn’t want to spend hours or days producing massive content for your site, only for it not to rank high or not be found at all by internet users.

In the course of optimising your web page, is it possible that you have made some errors with or without knowing and it has caused more harm than good to your SEO? Are there ways one can prevent them and not get penalised by search engines like Google? To help answer your questions, here are the top technical SEO mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Not using Analytics properly

When you create the best content and the design of your page allows for responsiveness, readability and provides relevant information, traffic will definitely grow on the site. However, the influx of internet users on your page isn’t all you should focus on. You need to make use of analytics to know what converts. In fact, you get more converts whilwni the traffic is lower because the prospects are carefully going through your content and navigating with smoothly. Therefore, use the analytics of your site or any other relevant metrics in measuring the success of your digital marketing campaign. It helps you to strategize better.

When you don’t use ALT-Tags for images

In a research, it was stated that the likelihood of a person reading a particular post or article is increased by an 80% when the visuals are colourful. These days, the use of images to boost user experience has become important in improving SEO. It makes your site more aesthetically pleasing and keeps the reader engaged. Therefore, when uploading images on your page, use alternative text tags to make it easy for users to find the information they seek. An image with no link should have these ALT tags so that web crawlers and internet users can access any information they seek about the image. The tags also make your site rank high in search engine results, boosts SEO and makes it for people to access the website in general.

Getting the right links

Getting links to your page from other sites is really a good way of making you an authority. However, Google and other search engines focus more on how relevant, less spam-looking and trustworthy the contents are. It’s wrong for you to buy a link, as you can get severely penalised. Also note that it’s better to have your site naturally linked within content than it lying beneath or beside a site. But there are ways to avoid all these. Build links via social media. Ensure that your content can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. This generates leads, drives traffic to your site and further boosts your online presence.

Broken links that lead to a 404 error can also be a problem. Just endeavour to audit your website and keep it up to date.