Internet marketing

Fix  character in Google search results and Facebook share description

If you’re seeing a strange  character or characters in your Google search results description or when sharing your articles and blog posts on Facebook but not in your article body itself then trust me, I understand your frustration because I thought I had tried every solution out there and none of the common fixes seemed to work for me. Read more to find out how I fixed the problem for my website and hopefully it will help you as well.

When it’s not in the body

If and only if you’re not seeing those characters anywhere else except for when you share your post on Facebook or do a simple Google search for your article then the solution will most likely be tied to how you’re telling Facebook and Google what your website is about.

Yep, I’m talking about the Facebook’s Open Graph properties and Structured Data that Google looks at. Have you been trying to implement these features into your website recently by any chance?

Double check your code

After spending hours of trying to figure out what the problem was and after creating this video to demonstrate the issue I finally realized the problem wasn’t related to WordPress at all. The problem was me and more importantly my lack of understanding the difference between two of the most widely used PHP functions: htmlentities(); and htmlspecialchars();

For a long time I was using the following code to give Facebook my article’s description:

<meta property="og:description" content="<?php { setup_postdata($post); echo esc_attr(htmlentities(get_the_excerpt())); } ?>"/>

And there’s nothing wrong with that… other than the fact that if you happen to have a special character somewhere in your content, it’s going to be translated literally.

Check out the htmlentities(); description

all characters which have HTML character entity equivalents are translated into these entities

If I had read the description beforehand none of this would have happened!

The trick was to replace the function with htmlspecialchars(); which doesn’t translate any special characters and the output remains clean.

<meta property="og:description" content="<?php { setup_postdata($post); echo esc_attr(htmlspecialchars(get_the_excerpt())); } ?>"/>

Once you’ve made the change make sure to re-scrape your content using Facebook’s debugger.

If the character is in the body

If you’re seeing the character all over your article’s body and you have no idea what I just talked about above then your solution could be as simple as putting the following code somewhere in your head tags:

<meta charset="UTF-8">

Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

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Customer service quotes and tips to improve your company’s help desk

I absolutely love it how Gregory Ciotti from HelpScout believes that customer service can and should be considered your #1 marketing channel mainly because by taking care of your existing customers first, you immediately attract more interested prospects your way thanks to one of the most cost effective marketing techniques available to you- the word of mouth exposure from loyal and happy clients.

In this article I will share some of the things I learned about how to provide better customer service from managing a Get Paid To website for more than 6 years and to spice things up, I’ll leave you pondering upon a few smart customer service quotes from famous people.

First class service

Facts to help put things in perspective

Did you know that out of all dissatisfied customers, only about 4% actually voice out their concerns and the rest give up after just one negative experience?

Or that a whopping 78% of new clients bail out on their intended purchase only because they feel like there’s nobody there to help them in the event they run into problems?

Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

Make customer satisfaction your top priority

It is estimated that one loyal customer is worth up to 10 times as much as their initial purchase so the time and money spent on acquiring new clients, while your loyal customers are quitting, makes absolutely no sense if a decent ROI means anything at all to you and your company.

I remember the first few years as a GPT owner where I was desperately seeking out new advertisers for my Paid to Click section and purchased a ton of ads on various other sites without getting a considerable return. I kept doing this for a while until I realized that it was not about seeking out new customers, it was about making sure the old ones came back to spend more money on my services.

This realization served as a breaking point for me because I ended up saving thousands of dollars that I would have otherwise spent on useless ad campaigns simply by taking care of my lost and confused customers first thing in the morning.

Keep an eye out on repeating questions

Over time you may notice a pattern regarding the most common issues and questions about your services. In most cases this will help you figure out the flaws in your main sales pitch as well as the Frequently Asked Questions section that any business should have.

Even if you personally believe that you’ve explained everything perfectly, are you sure a complete stranger can understand what you’re trying to say? Sometimes it helps to have a friend or coworker read through your content and provide helpful insight by pointing out things that may be confusing to others.

Additionally you may want to conduct a customer satisfaction survey from time to time to really understand what your clients are expecting from you.

Make a client feel important

Everyone loves to feel important, especially that angry and overly emotional customer with a negative experience. So before you let them project their feelings to you, take a step back and try to calm them down by assuring them that their issue has your undivided attention.

Trust me, having a mad client flame you and your company because you couldn’t handle a little criticism is one of the worst things that can happen to you and your reputation, but if you actually put effort into fixing the situation, they are more than likely to recommend you to all of their friends in the future.

Top five customer service quotes

Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who will work hard enough to bring them about. – Ashleigh Brilliant

Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it. – Marcus Buckingham

If you love your company and love what you do, you will serve your customers better—period! – Tom Peters

We treated our customers like our best friends. You don’t route your best friend’s call to an automated system! – Derek Sivers

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people. – Stanley Marcus

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How to gain your visitor’s attention in 10 seconds before they leave for good

According to the traffic analysis firm Chartbeat, which monitored the behavior of 2 billion website visits over the course of a month, 55% or more than half of your website visitors will spend less than 15 seconds actively on your page. This essentially means that you’ve got around 10-15 seconds to make the magic happen and grab your viewer’s attention before they grow tired of you and, well, leave for good.

On top of that a famous eye tracking test conducted by Jakob Nielsen way back in 2008 concluded that only about 20% of your content is actually read and the rest is either skipped completely or briefly scanned through.

The first few seconds matter the most

While this is probably bad news for the average online business owner, it also shows how important the first ten seconds really are, because if you gain your viewer’s interest within that time, the chances of your visitors interacting with your content and more importantly, ordering your products, will grow exponentially. But how exactly do you gain your viewer’s attention that quickly?

A picture is worth a thousand words

Over the past few years we’ve seen how many websites, especially news type article sites, stick a large header image on top of their content. After all, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words so it must work, right?

Well, in most cases it really works- especially if you aim to gain traffic from social networks because that same picture will be the first thing a person sees when they scroll through their news feed.

Interesting fact: most people who have shared your content on their Facebook wall, haven’t actually read your entire article(s). They just share for the sake of it.

A video is worth… a million words?

Anyone can mix together a simple header image in Photoshop and hope for their user’s increased interest, but it takes an animated video production professional to create a truly mesmerizing explainer video for you that has the ability to touch the soul of your visitor in a way which makes them remember you for weeks and months to come.

Distractions are everywhere

We all know that there’s a lot of stuff on the internet and over time we have learned to multitask and consume a bunch of information at the same time. For example, you could be reading this article and at the same time listening to a Youtube tutorial video while chatting with your coworkers about a restaurant downtown.

In this modern age it’s totally natural to be doing all this at once so it only makes sense that by sticking a short video on your page, which clearly explains what you are offering within a minute, will massively increase the number of your clients because nobody really has the time to read long boring walls of text any more.

But with a short and to-the-point explainer video, even if they don’t have the time to make a commitment right now, they’ll remember the video, the characters in the presentation and the catchy background music, etc.

Use bullet points and divide into sections

Since most people will scan your content and not read it, it’s advised to divide your article into smaller and more manageable bits.

Bullet points and subheadings are a great way of making your content easier to read and in case you didn’t know, using headings and subheadings the right way can increase your rankings within the search results as well. A win-win!

Increase your website loading speed

The statistics on Kissmetrics reveal that around 40% of your visitors will abandon your website should it take longer than 3 seconds to load and according to Google, a 2 second loading time should be the threshold for an average e-commerce website.

If your website is taking too long to load, the first step is to figure out what’s causing it.

The internet of tomorrow

We can already feel the internet moving towards an all video content mainly thanks to Youtube and compared to vlogging, blogging is a slowly withering niche that used to rule the world wide web back in the day.

When was the last time you actually read an article all the way through? Chances are you haven’t even made it this far.

While the internet is definitely changing, I can’t really say it’s changing towards something worse. On the contrary, watching videos and live video streams instead of reading is a much more pleasant way of gaining new information or simply having a great time.

The only really sad thing about it is that more often than not video content is too fast paced and leaves out valuable pieces of information which in turn make the whole experience rather dull and shallow. Something to think about if you’re a video producer.

Sources

Kissmetrics, Time.com, Nielsen Norman Group

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Customer satisfaction surveys are the backbone of every successful business

Customer satisfaction is the backbone of every successful venture not only because a happy customer is going to come back to you in the future, but because a happy client is more likely to recommend your services to their friends and acquaintances and as we all know, word of mouth can be one of the most efficient and influential advertising campaigns out there, not to mention the fact that it’s completely free. But how do you make sure your clients feel good around you in the first place? Well, you can always just ask them.

Traditional approach is outdated

A very popular way of getting to know what your customers like and dislike about you is to conduct a customer satisfaction survey from time to time. For example, every now and again Facebook may ask you how satisfied you with the way your news feed works and gives you the optional chance to write a free form comment for their development team to consider.

Similarly to the Facebook’s example above, many other companies are using the same outdated strategy and while it can undoubtedly bring excellent results, there is but one huge flaw in it- your clients don’t really feel like you genuinely care about their opinion and collect this data for god knows what.

It’s sort of like feeling that your voice (in this case, consumer feedback) will just end up in a “black hole” on a database and you’re nothing but a number to the company.

In a perfect world…

I want you to imagine for a moment that you have bought something from an online shop recently and upon receiving your goods, you found that it wasn’t what you’d hoped for, but because you have other things to worry about, you decide to just forget about it as it’s not worth the trouble of having to send your item back to the vendor and requesting a refund.

You go on with your daily activities until suddenly you receive an email from that merchant and in the email they ask for your personal opinion about the recent purchase. You’ll notice one more thing- right there in the email you have the option to rate the service because the email itself is a survey.

Customer email survey

Since you weren’t satisfied with what you got, you decide to click on the “I am disappointed” option that then takes you to a customized landing page with details about Your order and a comment form giving You the chance to tell the merchant exactly why you’re disappointed and what they can do about it.

I’m sure you’d be very positively surprised when just minutes later you received a phone call from the company’s sales representative who is genuinely worried about your negative experience and is ready to come up with a solution that will make your day?

If you think something like this is too good to be true in the real world- think again. It’s now very possible thanks to a service called Customer Thermometer.

No more long and boring forms

Customer satisfaction survey

When traditional customer feedback surveys are usually long and boring forms, from which you can only expect results when the person answering your questions has nothing better to do, Customer Thermometer email surveys offer a quick and engaging customer experience, therefore more people will respond to them and the data will be much more accurate because of this.

See the stats in real time

One of the most innovative features of this service are the real time dashboards where you can oversee exactly what is happening all the time. The dashboard will update immediately when someone opens the email you have sent and clicks on a response, so you can take action then and there instead of going through the reports at a later date.

You can even set it up to receive email notifications immediately when someone is not happy with your service to solve the issue right now instead of letting it escalate to something way more icky.

You can customize everything

From the obvious things like the questions and answers of your survey to every little detail you can imagine on the custom landing pages and within the emails themselves, you can edit pretty much anything according to your company’s needs and the expectations of your unique and individual customers.

With Customer Thermometer you can truly make them feel like they actually matter to you and that they’re not just a number on a database any more.

Of course I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. If you want to experience the same excellent customer support, simply take the free demo tour offered by Customer Thermometer and experience a survey yourself just by entering your email address on their website. Trust me, it’s going to amaze you.

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Live Chat is the most popular way to communicate with your clients

Just as the old fashioned door-to-door selling and telemarketing have become a thing of the past, the days of simply making a sale by emailing your clients are also numbered. That’s because according to a recent study conducted by eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, which surveyed 2000 customers, a whopping of 73% of subjects said that they were most satisfied when using Live Chat instead of traditional customer service channels like phone, SMS or email.

Why customers love Live Chat

The use of live chat functionality has been increasing over the years as more and more companies and merchants have started to use it. In some cases, the live support features are already bundled with modern website themes and plugins and thanks to CRM chat tool integration services provided by industry professionals, it’s now easier than ever to put a live chat box on your website without any technical know-how.

It shouldn’t take long to realize exactly why the live chat support has been such a hit. Simply ask yourself, when was the last time you purchased something online? Did the website have a live chat feature? Did you use it? I’m sure you have used the feature and spoken to either a simple bot or an actual human being before deciding to whip out your wallet.

There are many reasons why a lot of people prefer to have a live chat session with a sales representative before making a purchase. For one, waiting for a response via email is too time consuming by today’s standards and you can potentially lose a client if you don’t respond to their queries immediately.

Another important thing to consider is that a lot of people are uncomfortable speaking to a stranger over the phone. This is especially true with the younger generation who have grown up alongside smartphones and instant messengers and can be downright frightened to speak with you using traditional means. Don’t worry, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not scary, it’s just not the way they are used to.

Live Chat compared to other channels

Unsurprisingly the two other main channels that your clients will love are mobile apps and social media and the most frustrating channels of seeking out customer support are phone calls and SMS most likely because depending on your carrier, sending an SMS message is costly and for most companies, the call will place a customer on a long, long waiting queue with a nerve wrecking background music. You really shouldn’t put your customers through something like this.

Interestingly the most popular way of making a complaint is via email and mobile apps are most widely used to make a booking.

Customer feedback after using live chat

When BoldChat asked people who, at one point, had used a live chat system for inquires, they found that 79% of clients did so because they got their answers immediately and 51% of customers stated that by using live chat they have the ability to multi-task and concentrate on other things at the same time.

Additionally 46% of people admitted that it was the most efficient way of receiving customer support and 29% claimed to have gained better information compared to email.

Take a look at the results below and you’ll realize that there is really no excuse to not be using a live chat system on your website.

People prefer live chat customer support

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The future of search: Why ranking #1 no longer matters (that much)

The implementation of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which was launched back in 2012, is a very important milestone in the search engine world and has already had an enormous impact on the way we acquire new information and extract valuable data from the internet. As such, the importance of having your website sit at the first position in Google’s search results is getting more and more irrelevant. In this article I will try to explain why it is so and how you can potentially benefit from this.

Future of search and why ranking number one no longer matters that much

Knowledge Graph examples

Even if you have never heard of the Knowledge Graph, you have probably already seen it in action whenever you search for something online. Here’s an example (in the form of a screenshot) of what happens when you Google for seo services vancouver:

seo services vancouver

When looking at the results page above, you’re immediately attracted to the fancy map, am I right? This is a great example of how even sponsored AdWords advertisements can be less attractive for most people than the completely free Knowledge Graph placements, as seen above in the form of a map, of companies near us offering search engine optimization services.

Getting answers more efficiently

Google, being the world’s top search engines, is constantly working on helping people find what they’re looking for faster and more accurately. Thanks to the Knowledge Graph this is now possible and more often than not you find yourself not needing to visit any actual websites any more because the correct answer to your question has been extracted by Google automatically. For example, if you simply ask Google “what’s the weather like today“, you can see a result like this:

Weather in Tallinn on May 2nd 2016 at 13 47

The above data has been automatically pulled from the weather.com website and as you can see, we no longer had to visit the actual website to know what the weather is like in our area.

This is useful on the desktop computer and saves us from the hard work of having to click the mouse twice, but the true power of this new technology becomes apparent when you’re using your smartphone’s voice to text feature and simply talk to your phone. Your phone will then read the first result back to you. Congratulations- we are one step closer to “Her“.

How to get on Google Knowledge Graph

Nobody really knows all the necessary requirements of getting your business or website to show up as a Knowledge Graph result and most of the time Google decides on who gets the honors on its own.

That being said, there are still a couple of things you can do right now to increase the chances of your website showing up as part of the Knowledge Graph search engine results page placement:

  • Aim for better user experience – Whenever you create new content, aim for providing the best end-user experience in the form of accurate and to-the-point solutions to the problem you’re writing about. Since Google’s algorithms are becoming more and more aware of what we are writing about, sometimes all it takes is to simply write for the human reader, disregarding the old fashioned search engine optimization tricks which can now be considered spam.
  • Write high quality unique content – Unless you’re /b, writing deep and meaningful content will help you get Google’s attention. Writing quality content means doing prior research on the topics you’re writing about and staying far away from content creation and article spinning software. This basically means writing unique content and getting your facts straight as well as quoting trustworthy sources (ie. Wikipedia).
  • Get a Google+ page – Just like Facebook fan pages, the Google+ page helps you to get in touch with like minded people and therefore find new potential clients for your business. It’s been observed that the more you interact with your audience and more importantly, the more your audience interacts with your Google+ page, the higher your chances of getting into the Knowledge Graph. So make sure to ask your clients to share your stuff and write good reviews about your service.
  • Put your business on Google Maps – This goes hand in hand with your Google+ page and will definitely help you get a boost of traffic from local clients looking for what you have to offer (check out the map example at the beginning of this article).
  • Use structured data – Most of the time Google will find important pieces of information by looking for the presence of structured data on your website. This is how you explain to the search robot what your website is about, who or what is on a certain image between your blog posts and how various bits of information are related to one another.

The future of search is fascinating

As a developer I can’t help but wonder what the search engines will be like in 10 years from now. Because of the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, we probably don’t have to use traditional tools like the keyboard or a mouse to get answers to our questions almost at the speed of thought.

This is all great and exciting, but at the same time challenging to the internet marketer of today because if Google can find answers to all of our problems, how are we supposed to get any new traffic to our websites let alone generate a sale?

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Get an explainer video for businesses to boost your sales

Animated explainer videos, which I’m sure you’ve all seen before, are short one to two minute animations which briefly explain to the visitor what you’re offering or what your website is all about. While it’s been repeated over and over again among internet marketers that video is the next step in modern marketing, there are still some people out there who just don’t understand the significance or worse, understand how important it is, but don’t do anything about it and therefore end up losing thousands of potential leads and sales promoting their boring sales page.

The importance of animated explainer videos

When you’ve been in the industry for even just a little while you will know that the average internet surfer doesn’t actually read your entire content, but instead scans through your website looking for high impact titles, subtitles and strategically placed catch phrases. If done right it can truly work wonders, but nowadays even that isn’t going to be good enough.

Why? Because there’s just too much information available for your visitor to dig through! Think about it- the average user types in search query, clicks on the first result that catches their attention and if your website is a boring wall of text, they’ll just hit the browser’s back button and BAM you just lost a potential client. That’s the reason animated explainer videos work so good. They catch your visitors attention the second they land on your website and make sure they’ll stay there and hear what you have to say. For example, take a look at the following short video:

Save money by using explainer videos

Most internet marketers use Pay Per Click or in some cases Pay Per Impression advertising to promote their landing pages. If you’re familiar with the topic, you know that managing your budget is very important in this field. You have to constantly keep track on the performance of your ad campaigns and weed out the “losers” that don’t convert well, but cost you a lot of money.

By using a professionally crafted explainer video on your landing pages instead of the old cliche sales pitch, you are going to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars of ad revenue that would otherwise get burnt on clicks that leave your website without even bothering to hear you out.

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