Can automated systems do it all?

Kellee Gabel

Kellee Gabel
President, The Web Professional, Inc.

We’ve recently been working on a system, that will allow us to accept support tickets, track time, log work activities, and generally provide us a one-stop place for information about the work in progress and work completed.

This is a simple SAP, but not quite a CRM that will keep our team and our customers in the know and centralize communications.  And, it will have a few other bells and whistles to make bookkeeping easier for billing and payroll. It’s customized to our internal needs and also for how we work with our clients.

So why do I hear a needle being dragged across a record, as in STOP THE PRESSES?

We’ve always used such systems, but until now they were spread across a number platforms, which made connecting all the dots a bit of work.  This new system has been a long-time coming and a task right in our wheelhouse.

But we know, that no matter how good it is, it is not a complete solution.

Such a solution will only be complete when human interaction ensures our customers know we understand their needs and that they are being taken care of.

We recognize that not all clients will want to log in somewhere to request support.  And we always want our customers to feel comfortable picking up the phone to call us or in sending an email, knowing we’ll respond.

Ideally in our world, centralizing communications in one place is the cat’s meow of systematizing and increasing productivity.  But when a square peg is being pushed into a round hole, we know we must provide flexibility.

There will always be square pegs and round holes, that is the reality of the world.

Posted in Business Management Resources, Customer Service, IT Solutions | Leave a comment

Who is contacting me

I’m often asked by clients and friends to comment on the validity of a service provider, usually because they’ve received an e-mail from a complete stranger making promises to deliver high quality services and results. Unfortunately, my knowledge, while relatively robust, covers only a small percentage of the many, many companies out there related to computers, websites, social media, SEO and other related online services.   If I have direct knowledge of them, I will give my best and most objective opinion, or make an alternate recommendation to use someone I feel comfortable recommending. If it’s a service we provide, I’ll share more on that.

I too receive these types of promotional e-mails, and I can tell you there are a few smell tests I apply, when deciding whether to read on.

Some bad signs…

  • The sending party does not seem to have a last name. This makes me question, why is this person unwilling to tell me who they are?
  • Why doesn’t the sending party have an e-mail address based on their company name — as in, myname@mycompanyname.com vs. an address like x743zy2 ending in @gmail.com or @yahoo.com?  If the latter, I might reasonably question whether this is a legitimate business inquiry or an individual winging it in hopes of making a quick buck.
  • The e-mail message contains promises of getting my website top Search Engine Rankings within a very short time for a small amount of $$$. Also a bad sign, since it is an unreasonable promise.

Considering the reverse of everything above is true, add in these “Good Signs” and there may be something worthwhile to consider:

  • The e-mail contains links to example work I’m able to click and view.
  • The e-mail contains a link to the company’s website.
  • The e-mail contains the full name and phone number of the sending party.

No matter what service you’re considering, I encourage you to seek past and current customer references. Also consider resources close to home, which may come through references from trusted associates, and carry the ever weighty and meaningful customer references.

Posted in Business Management Resources | Leave a comment

Understanding Bounce Rate

– if you’re using a website statistical tracking system, such as Google’s Analytics, you may already have heard the term Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is not simply defined, but a surface explanation is that a visitor arrived on a website page and never went beyond that page. The bounce rate equation goes like this: Bounce Rate = Total number of visits viewing one page only divided by total entries to the page.

Therefore, it’s important to review not only the aggregate bounce rate for your site, but which pages are receiving the highest bounce rate to determine how the problem may be resolved or at least improved upon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Inbound Links

According to Website Magazine, “The number and quality of links pointing to your website is indisputably the single greatest influencing factor in achieving high placement on the search engine results pages (SERPs).”   A very good article on what makes a good inbound link may be found at: SearchRank.com  http://www.searchrank.com/blog/2009/09/value-of-inbound-link-factors.html

Posted in Online Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

What’s sliding in your world?

Kellee Gabel

So, what IS sliding in your world?

Being busy can often mean some small, but important business items get set aside. You know what I’m talking about, right?

One of the things I try to do with my “spare time” is pay attention to the little things that I don’t seem to get around to when business is going really well. Such as: my bi-monthly newsletter, which sometimes takes a backseat to what seem like more pressing matters.

Here are some ideas of things you might consider giving front row seats when time is more abundant:

• Website traffic review – Kind of knew I’d start here, didn’t you? Is your website receiving less traffic than before – are you even looking at those reports?

• Social media – If you’re using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube or Pinterest have you posted recently? If your commitment has wavered, perhaps it’s time to recommit or to close off that street when it is not yielding results due to lack of attention.

• Advertising – Are you advertising in the wrong areas or do you have ads running that are no longer effective? Recently I saw an ad for A/C tuneups. Here in MN, we’re headed into cooler weather. I think this company’s ad is out of season.

Pay-Per-Click or Pay-Per-Impression Ads need to be monitored and adjusted for appropriate bids, keywords and lead generation. Is it time to change your ad to gain something from those impressions you’re paying for?

• Networking – Are you doing it effectively? Are the groups you’re in generating the connections and sales you seek? And what about all those business cards you’ve collected along the network path. Have you done anything with them, or are they crowding a corner of your desk?

• Marketing – Do your marketing activities keep up with the times and reach your intended audience? (Yes, online is great, but having a website or facebook page is not the be all and end all of marketing. Traditional marketing channels must still be used to get the impressions you need to succeed.)

Does your brochure and/or website reflect your most current message and products?

• Referrals – Do you rely on referrals? Do your customers, business contacts and friends know this? Reminders help.

Testimonials. Have you asked your latest customer for a testimonial?

Portfolio updates. If visual representations of your work are your best-selling tool, make sure to get project completion photos and releases from your client.

• Client contact – Follow up with existing clients. You never know… they may need something, but are too busy themselves to pick up the phone.

• Evaluate customers – Is the relationship still solid? Is it still a good fit for both parties?

• Evaluate product profitability and usability – How long has it been since you assessed your product offerings to determine if they are still selling and priced right?

• Self-investment – self-improvement – Is there a course you need to take to stay current for your industry? How about a wardrobe update? Is it long overdue?

• Subscriptions and services – Are you paying for something you no longer use? I recently heard on the news about a Detroit suburb’s police department, which had been paying a phone bill for an abandoned location for 8 years to the tune of a quarter million dollars annually.

• Speaking of Phone Plans – Do your current phone plans (cell and land line) fit your needs. This is always a good task to tackle when an hour or two are available.

• Updating equipment and software – Don’t be caught off guard. Those reminders to install software updates or to replace depreciated equipment should be assessed regularly.

• Data backups – Is your scheduled data backup really working? Are you sure? Test it.

• Insurance – How about reviewing the insurance you’re carrying? Is it enough? Too much? Not the right coverage since you changed something about your business?

By now, you might be thinking, I get it, I get it. Back off!

If you have ideas to add to this list, I’d love to hear from you.

I thought this was an appropriate closing quote. “You were born to win, but to be the winner you were born to be, you must plan to win and prepare to win. Then and only then can you legitimately expect to win.” Zig Ziglar

Kellee Gabel
President

Posted in Business Development, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment