Should Your Website Use Chatbots or Live Chat?Chatbots and live chat continue to rise in popularity. It makes sense: smart companies are looking for ways to continuously improve customer experience, and offering improved customer support is a great way to do just that. But, which option is best suited for your business? Chatbots or live chat? Both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Below we look at the differences between the two and highlight how you can determine which one is going to be the best fit for your website.
Pros and Cons of ChatbotsChatbots are robotic software that responds to customer requests through predefined rules and questions. Usually, this interaction is done via a live chat window on your website.
Pros of ChatbotsThe pros of using chatbots on your website include: 1. No Human Supervision Needed Chatbots are great because you can set up the software and forget about it. There’s no hiring or team training. Just input the basic response requests and questions, and the software will handle the rest. 2. Easily Handle a High Volume of Requests If your website receives a ton of live support requests, then you’ll need to way to process these requests in a timely manner. Chatbots can handle hundreds, if not more requests, in a given moment. On the other hand, with a live support team, your customers will have to wait for a response until the current support request has been resolved. 3. Speedy Response Time Chatbots can provide you with near instant response time. Since chatbots are just software, they look for the pre-programmed answer to your customer’s question and send it off. Of course, responses may be more limited, but your customers won’t have to sit around all day waiting for a response.
Cons of ChatbotsUsing Chatbots can be a great solution for various support needs, however, they might not be the perfect fit for every style of business out there. 1. Only Answer Specific Questions Chatbots are limited to the kinds of questions they can effectively answer. The chatbots of the future will employ more machine-learning algorithms to answer a wider spread of questions. But, typically chatbots won’t be able to answer the same range of questions a well-trained live chat support staff can. 2. Lack of Human Interaction Connecting with a chatbot is a different experience than live human chat. These differences are felt in the breadth and depth of communication. For example, a live chat rep might be able to quickly handle a support request and offer alternative solutions for solving their problem, while a chatbot may not be able to solve the problem at hand, and instead leave the customer frustrated. 3. Spelling Needs to Be Perfect Most chatbots are based upon input and output. If the question the customer inputs into the chatbot contains spelling errors, the chatbot might not be able to reference the correct answer. More advanced chatbots can handle spelling errors, but typically this will need to be improved over time.
Pros and Cons of Live ChatLive chat has been around for quite some time. Today’s most common form is the live chat window that’s actually occupied by a living breathing human.
Pros of Live ChatHere are some of the unique advantages of using live chat on your website: 1. Provide Tangible Human Connection With most live chat environments, the support representative won’t leave the customer’s side until the problem is solved. Chat representatives might also have the option to go the extra mile by offering incentives or coupons to further improve the interaction. 2. Can Solve a Variety of Requests Live chat support will be able to more effectively answer and solve a wider scope of questions and problems. Whereashatbots are limited by the requests you program in, live chat agents are only limited by their overall education of your products and services. 3. Higher Quality of Communication Until chatbots employ advanced machine learning and AI, live chat with a real representative will outshine chatbots. Live chat provides customers will a level of customization that's not limited to a basic set of questions. There’s nothing better than having obscure requests quickly resolved by a support team.
Cons of Live ChatAll that being said, live chat isn’t the best fit for every style of business. Below we look at some of the biggest drawbacks of using live chat support. 1. Limited Hours and Availability With a live support team, the hours available for your customers to access support will be limited, since most companies can’t afford a 24/7 support staff. If your customers have an issue that falls outside of the time window, then they’ll have to wait. 2. Requires Hiring Support Staff Live chat requires an extensive hiring and training process. Your new hires must be educated about the ins and outs of your company and your products, so they can respond to requests in an accurate and timely manner. This will require an added time and monetary investment on your end. 3. Can’t Handle Multi-Language Support Unless you have the budget to hire a large and multi-lingual support team, you’ll be limited in the languages you can provide your support in. Chatbots are typically equipped to handle multiple languages with speed and efficiency, although they won’t be able to provide the same depth of communication.
What’s the Best Fit for Your Site?There is no best fit for every style of website out there. Instead, the decision to use chatbots vs. live chat on your website will depend on your business needs. Overall, chatbots are cheaper, faster, and easier to employ. Meanwhile, live chat provides your customers with a more in-depth helpful experience, but it's more costly and time-intensive on your end. If you have a very simple business model and tend to receive the same customer questions time and time again, then using a chatbot might be the better solution. However, if you receive a wide range of support requests, have a large catalog of products, or offer a complicated product, then live chat might be the best option for your needs. Of course, you’ll need the budget to hire and train a team. But, the alternative is alienating your customers by providing ineffective support with a chatbot. Yet another method is to utilize both. The initial customer request is handled by a chatbot. If the initial question, or set of questions, is easily answerable, then the chatbot will proceed with the request. But, if it’s outside of the scope of the chatbot's capabilities, then the request will be passed on to a live agent. There really is no wrong option for improving your customer support via chatbots or live chat. Hopefully, the analysis above will help point you in the right direction about what’s going to be the best fit for your online business.
Should You Start a Business Blog?You hear about it all the time. Businesses are supposed to have a blog. But is blogging really right for your business? The answer is: it depends. Blogging brings a lot of benefits, which is why it gets so much attention in business and marketing publications. But every business should carefully consider whether or not starting a blog makes sense for you. Here are the main things you should know to help you decide.
5 Benefits of Creating a Business BlogBusiness blogs are a great marketing tool. Many of the businesses that have taken the step of investing in blogging have seen notable results for their efforts.
1. Blogging is good for SEO.One of the big reasons business blogging has taken off is that it helps businesses improve their search rankings. Representatives from Google have come straight out and said that high-quality content is one of the most important things their algorithm uses to determine search rankings. And blogging is helpful for other factors that play a role, such as link building (blog posts give other sites more opportunities to consider linking to yours) and time spent on site (reading a blog post takes time). In addition, blogging gives you a lot more chances to try to rank for a wider variety of relevant keyword terms. For instance, a florist that aims for the terms “florist” and “flower delivery” on their main pages could try for long-tail keywords like “best flowers for a funeral” on their blog – creating more searches they’ll potentially be found in. People looking for helpful information that find blog posts that answer their questions will be that much more likely to buy what they need from the company providing those answers.
2. Blogging is crucial for content marketing.If you’ve given any consideration to doing content marketing, then a blog is likely to be the cornerstone of your content strategy. Blogs are the most obvious format for publishing ongoing content. Even though they’re mostly known for written content, they’re a good space to promote other content formats as well – you can easily embed videos and podcasts into blog posts and include visual content like infographics in them as well. Your blog gives people interested in your content a consistent spot to check back for any updates. And by having a lot of your content in one place, it makes it easy for you to promote other pieces of content to any visitors that show an interest in another piece. Blogging is generally just one part of a solid content strategy, but for most businesses doing content marketing, it’s an especially important part.
3. A blog is a good tool for building your email list.Email marketing is largely considered one of the most effective forms of marketing available to businesses. Two-thirds of consumers have made a purchase because of an email they received, and email marketing has an ROI of $38 for every $1 you spend. But for email marketing to work, you have to have a list. And building an email list isn’t easy. While promises of discounts can definitely get you some signups, many consumers will be more likely to sign up for your email list if they know they’ll be getting valuable information from every email you send. For those consumers, you can get their attention with blog content and promote your email list while they’re on the website. Then, the new blog content you create will give you something new to email them about. It’s a whole cycle that helps you build positive relationships with your prospects.
4. Blog posts give you opportunities to interact with your audience.If a person’s only association with your brand is when they browse your products or make a purchase, then you’ll be easy to forget. But if they know your website includes a treasure trove of useful information on subjects they care about, then they have a reason to check out your website more often, sign up for your email list, and maybe even leave comments or share your blog posts to their networks.
5. Blogging helps you build a positive brand reputation online.Being seen online is a challenge all businesses face. For anyone to think about buying from you, they first have to figure out you exist. By improving your SEO, giving other websites a reason to link to you, and providing visitors with interesting content to share, a blog provides a lot of opportunities to grow awareness of your brand online.
3 Reasons Not to Create a Business BlogThose reasons should all be sounding pretty persuasive right now, but blogging isn’t for every business. There are three main things you should be aware of before you take the plunge.
1. It’s a lot of work.In order to regularly publish new content:
- Somebody has to pick topics and plan a schedule.
- Somebody has to write the content.
- Somebody has to edit the content.
- Somebody has to find or create relevant images.
- Somebody has to load it to the blog and publish it.
- Somebody has to moderate and respond to comments (if you keep comments open).
- Somebody has to promote the content.
2. It can get expensive if you hire help.To keep a blog going, you will probably need to either hire new staff or contractors to help you with content planning and creation. Good content strategists, writers, and designers cost money. To do blogging right, you should be prepared to commit a budget to it. Since most blog-related costs are ongoing, you’ll have to expect to keep up expenses over time and should be prepared to spend a lot.
3. A bad blog is worse than no blog.This point relates directly to the other two. If you try to rush your blogging just to get something out there, it will look sloppy and hurt your reputation rather than help it. If you hire the cheapest writers you can find and get keyword stuffed low-quality content or worse, plagiarized content, it could hurt your SEO and it certainly won’t meet any of the goals you want a business blog to achieve. The main reason a business shouldn’t create a blog is if they’re not prepared to commit the time and money it takes to make sure it’s good. That means consistent, high-quality content designed to help you meet clear goals. All the benefits mentioned above only kick in if your blog is good, so don’t waste time and money trying to have a blog just to have one. Make sure you do it right.
How to Do It Right if You Do Start a BlogIf you’re convinced that blogging does make sense for your business, here are a few steps to take to help you get the most out of it.
1. Create a plan.Your blogging will be more organized and successful if you take time before you start to work up a blogging plan. Figure out what you want your blog to accomplish, what types of topics you want to cover, and the types of blog posts you want to publish.
2. Figure out a realistic blogging schedule.A common reason brands give up on blogging is burnout. If you underestimate how much work is required to keep your blog going, you’re likely to overextend yourself and decide it’s just too much work to keep up with. To keep that from happening, be realistic in working up a schedule for your blog. Don’t try to publish every day if you have one person on staff trying to fit in blogging on top of other responsibilities. In that case, starting with one blog post a week may make more sense. Whatever you do, do make a schedule in advance. You’ll be far more likely to stay on top of blogging if you create a content calendar and commit to sticking with it each month.
3. Define who you’re writing for.You can’t just write about whatever topics interest you personally – your interests aren’t necessarily the same as those of your customers. To help you focus your blogging efforts and make sure they reach the people you most want to see them, take time to figure out who your target audience is. What do your customers tend to have in common? Think in terms of demographics, interests, and online behaviors. Building out buyer personas can help you visualize the person you want to talk to when you plan out your blog and create content.
4. Promote your blog content.These days, publishing great content isn’t enough on its own. The web is too saturated with content on all types of topics. To stand out and make sure your content reaches your audience, you have to put some effort into promoting your blog posts. That means sharing them on social media, sending them to your email list, and considering paid distribution and promotion. All your blogging work won’t count for much unless you make sure people get the chance to see the content you create.
5. Pay attention to analytics.Once you start blogging, you’ll start collecting data on how people find and interact with your posts. Expect it to take a little while for your blogging to find traction, it usually does. But as you go, keep an eye on those analytics so you can find trends in which types of topics, blog post types, and promotion tactics perform the best with your audience. Your data will provide you a lot of insights into how to improve and get more out of your blog as you go. Committing some time to data analysis can go a long way to getting better results from blogging over time.
Is a Business Blog Right for You?If blogging for your business sounds overwhelming, then it honestly might not be for you – for some businesses the time and monetary commitment makes it a no go. But if the benefits sound worth the work, then you may be ready to start enjoying the benefits of business blogging.
Top Cloud Hosting FAQ AnsweredCloud hosting is one of the latest innovations in the hosting space. It utilizes cloud technology to deploy your server across multiple different machines. It’s grown in popularity mostly due to its flexibility, uptime, and ability to scale with your site. Still, you probably have a lot of questions related to cloud hosting. Below we answer some of the most common questions about cloud hosting.
1. What is cloud hosting?Cloud hosting utilizes a network of virtual servers, which use resources from a network of physical servers. Instead of having all of your site’s files on a single physical server, they’re spread out among an entire network of servers. It’s similar to a VPS server, however, instead of having a portion of the server dedicated to your site, server resources are spread out across multiple different machines. These cloud-based virtual servers can be changed, created, or even deleted on demand, and offer much more flexibility than typical physical servers.
2. How does cloud hosting work?Cloud hosting is similar to other cloud technologies. Instead of running a task or program on a single machine that workload is spread out across many different machines. The same thing occurs with cloud hosting. It’s the equivalent of having dozens (or even hundreds) of personal servers all over the globe, but with less physical resource allocation. Cloud hosting is broken down into two parts. The first is the virtual servers that your site, or app, is hosted on. The second is the actual physical hosts that are linked to the virtual servers. This unique relationship between the two allows for immense flexibility and easy scalability that aren’t available with other styles of hosting.
3. What kind of user would benefit from cloud hosting?Typically, cloud hosting environments are better suited for larger organizations that have the technical teams in place to optimize the cloud hosting environment. There are managed cloud solutions, but even these require some element of technical expertise. Since cloud hosting resources can be allocated very rapidly, you’ll want a team in place to be able to notice and make these shifts as they arise.
4. What are the benefits of cloud hosting?Cloud hosting has a few distinct benefits that set it apart from other kinds of hosting. Below we look at what these unique benefits entail:
- Scalability — With cloud hosting you’ll be able to scale your resource use in real-time. Since you’re not limited to a single physical server, you can easily scale up during traffic spikes or when other situations arise.
- Unique pricing — In a cloud hosting environment you only end up paying for what you actually use. You’re not paying for high resource use if you don’t actually need it, as it’s easy to scale up at a moments notice.
- Customization — With cloud hosting you’ll have extensive customization options at your disposal that aren’t limited to physical server restrictions. However, leveraging these technologies does require a certain amount of technical skill.
- Security — Since your site is stored in more than one location you’re fine if a single server location is compromised. There are different security protocols that need to be in place to handle such a wide spread of data and resources, but some users enjoy not having all of their site’s files in a single location.
5. What are the drawbacks of cloud hosting?Cloud hosting can be a great choice for organizations with the technical expertise to maximize the cloud environment. However, without that knowledge, or the proper team in place, you won’t get the most out of your cloud hosting environment, and you’re probably better suited for a different style of hosting.
6. How does cloud hosting differ from VPS and dedicated hosting?With VPS hosting you have a partitioned part of the server, which you can then customize exactly as you see fit. With dedicated hosting, you have the entire resources of a server at your disposal to customize and use as you see fit. But with cloud hosting you’re not limited to the resources of a single physical server, instead, your resources are spread out among several different machines. Hopefully, the answers above have helped you make more sense out of cloud hosting. It’s generally the most misunderstood form of hosting available. Learn more about HostGator's cloud hosting here!
LinkedIn Advertising GuideWith so many social media channels competing for user attention, LinkedIn has managed to set themselves apart as being the primary place online to make business connections and share professional updates. That may make it a strange advertising fit for some brands, but for B2B businesses, LinkedIn advertising is well worth considering.
Why Businesses Should Advertise on LinkedInLinkedIn currently has nearly 5 million users. While in general, those users aren’t as active as people are on other social media sites – only about 100 million people are active monthly – when you consider the focus of the site, that just makes sense. LinkedIn isn’t where people go when they’re looking for distractions from work or looking to be entertained; it’s where they go when they’re in work-mode, ready to network and gain education relevant to their business needs. 61% of LinkedIn users are 30-64, and 75% of users have incomes over $50,000. And 70% of LinkedIn professionals say they consider the site a trustworthy source of business content. While there’s a wide range of industries, job titles, and professional levels represented on the platform, for most B2B brands you can trust that some of the serious business decision makers you want to reach will be on there. And they’ll be on there when they’re thinking about work and business decisions, which is the time you most want to reach them. In addition to ads that show up on the LinkedIn site itself, the social media company has developed the LinkedIn Audience Network, which enables you to use their advertising platform to deliver ads to a number of sites across the web they’ve deemed “brand safe” and high quality. Their whole advertising apparatus is set up to reach professionals when they’re in a professional mindset. If that’s who your brand most needs to reach, then LinkedIn’s an important channel to include your marketing mix.
Types of LinkedIn AdsLinkedIn offers an array of ad type options brands can take advantage of. Some of them you’re able to create yourself through their self-service advertising platform; others you’ll need to work with a rep to set up.
Self-Service AdvertisingSelf-service advertising is the easiest way to get started with LinkedIn advertising. In this category, you have three main ad options. 1. Text Ads Text ads are the ones you see along the side of LinkedIn pages that include:
- A small image
- A hyperlinked headline
- A short description
- Your name and logo
- A short description
- A link to the content you’re sharing
- An image
- The title of the content
- A message title
- The message itself – you have space for a longer message here than with the other two self-serve ad types
- An image
- A clear CTA button – you can choose what action you want the recipient to take here. For example, the button could drive them to your website, to download a piece of content, or to sign up for a webinar.
Advertising Partner SolutionsFor those a little more serious about LinkedIn advertising, you can choose one of the other two categories of ad types that require working with a representative or third party platform to buy and create. Display Ads If you’re already doing programmatic advertising, you can use your buying platform to purchase ads to be displayed on LinkedIn. These can take a few forms that include the visual ads you see on the side of the main page on LinkedIn and the text ads you see along the top of the screen. Dynamic Ads LinkedIn provides the option to purchase dynamically generated ads that are personalized to your audience based on their behavior on the platform. For example, these could be recruitment ads that include the targeted user’s profile picture. These ads require working directly with a LinkedIn sales rep to purchase and develop. If you want to provide your audience with a more personal advertising experience, they’re the best way on LinkedIn to do that.
LinkedIn’s Targeting OptionsOne of the best things about social media advertising options in general is that social media sites tend to have a lot of data about their users that translates to valuable targeting options for advertisers. LinkedIn is no exception. They might not have the kind of detailed data on user interests that Facebook does, but they still have plenty of information on users’ professional backgrounds, current job status, and professional aspirations, in addition to general demographic data. LinkedIn’s extensive targeting options include:
- Geographic location
- Business size
- Job title
- Job seniority
- School attended
- Subjects studied
- Degree level
- Professional skills
- Years of professional experience
How Much LinkedIn Advertising CostsThat higher ROI is important to think about, since LinkedIn has a reputation as one of the most costly social media sites to advertise on. Most cost-per-click pricing starts at $2 per click and can go up to $5, and you can end up paying more if your campaigns don’t do well. But HupSpot’s research with LinkedIn ads (Sponsored Content, specifically) has found that they get a higher conversion rate than other advertising channels. Even though the CPC is often higher, as with on other advertising platforms, you can control your budget and set a maximum on what you’re willing to spend each day or the total amount you’re willing to spend on a campaign. LinkedIn does require a minimum spend of $10 per day or campaign and a $2 minimum bid on Text Ads. Beyond that, how much you spend is up to you.
LinkedIn’s Advertising AnalyticsLinkedIn’s Campaign Manager dashboard provides metrics on the performance of your ads and campaigns. In addition to information like the number of impressions, clicks, and social actions, they also provide data on who’s clicking on your campaigns so you can determine if your ads are reaching the right people and better understand which ads work best with which demographics. You can also set up conversion tracking in LinkedIn, so you can better see which of your ads are successfully driving the actions you want your audience to take. This is important information to help you better evaluate the overall ROI of your advertising with LinkedIn.
How to Get Started Advertising on LinkedInIf you’re ready to go ahead and get started advertising on LinkedIn, start by going to the LinkedIn Advertising page and clicking on one of the buttons that say “Create Ad.” This will take you to LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager site, where you can choose which of the three self-serve ad options available you want to start with. (Note: if you want to jump straight to dynamic advertising, click on “Contact Sales” here instead and a LinkedIn rep will get in touch to talk you through the process). Once you’ve made your selection, the Campaign Manager site will walk you through the information you need to provide to create your ad. Once your ad is created, you can choose your targeting options. Then set your budget, add your payment info, and you’re ready to launch. You can have self-serve ads ready to go in well under an hour from the time you got started.
ConclusionIf you sell toys or camping gear, LinkedIn might not be the most effective channel for your ads. But if you sell something like B2B software, professional training courses, or anything else that’s likely to interest a professional audience specifically, then it’s a smart place to be. Investing in advertising can make your efforts on the site go further and give you the chance to reach a new, relevant audience.