Small Business Guide to Chatbots & Facebook Messenger Marketing


06/10/2019
Chatbots are all the business buzz – and for good reason.

They give customers of any-size business critical answers to pressing questions quickly.

They can:

Boost your average order value.
Accelerate the buyers’ journey.
Reduce your customer service costs.

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06/07/2019
A new report finds that a good number of small businesses (29%) are spending somewhere in the sweet spot of  ($750-$2499) monthly to get the data needed for good online advertising results.

WordStreams Online Advertising Landscape in 2019 report also found that only 10% of the respondents had a monthly advertising budget less than the low end plateau for effectiveness of $750 monthly.

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06/05/2019
People have a lot of opinions when it comes to debt and borrowing. At one extreme, some believe that all debt should be avoided and there’s no room for argument on the subject. Others perhaps borrow a little too freely, taking out new financing with little thought about whether doing so will be a benefit or a hindrance in the long term.

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06/03/2019
Cybersecurity remains one of the most challenging issues for small business owners. And the problem leads small business owners to seek out managed service providers to present them with solutions.

But a new report from Continuum says the state of cybersecurity among small businesses in 2019 still needs to improve. The data suggests great opportunities for service providers who offer cyber security as part of their package.

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05/31/2019
It is hard to start a profitable business in a competitive landscape. No doubt, business starts with a primary goal of making profits. Getting these profits from the phase of no client to multiple clients is a period of learning, falling, getting through and finally managing to sustain.

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05/29/2019
Ranking a business website higher enhances its chances of gaining a lead that could ultimately turn into a new business sale. To rank, a website higher needs quite a few steps and does not happen overnight. Let’s figure out the five most common and impactful professional SEO tips that a CEO insists upon.

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05/27/2019
Spreadsheets have long been an important tool for businesses. You can use them for just about anything. This includes budgeting and planning out important marketing campaigns.

No tool seems more synonymous with spreadsheets than Excel. Microsofts tool allows you to easily fill in spaces and create tables. But it also takes advantage of some more advanced features. However, starting from scratch will not give you a productive business.

You may want to take advantage of all that Excel has to offer. But maybe you don’t know exactly how to get started. So templates become a great option. Check out some sources for Excel business templates that can help you in 15 different areas of business operations.

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05/24/2019
As any entrepreneur will tell you, owning a business comes with a lot of demands, pressure and hard work, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Thanks to an impactful conversation with an old friend and fellow business owner several years ago, I realized that I was wasting a lot of money by just having one credit card to pay business expenses.

Multiple credit cards can provide big bonuses.

Credit card companies are fighting a turf war, and they all have enticing offers to get us to sign up with them. My rationale is, why be exclusive to one bank? Why choose only one credit card? Why not enjoy the benefits from multiple banks?

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05/22/2019
Owners of small businesses should consider hiring their children.

A young person whos claimed as a dependent on their parents return can still have $12,000 of wages in 2019 and pay no income tax. The Standard Deduction offsets the wages.

The parents probably provided more than 50 percent of the basic support of the child (housing, food, clothing, medical and transportation expenses). The parents can still claim the exemption for the child, but dependent exemptions are no longer done (allowed). If the child is younger than age 17, the parents do get a Child Tax Credit of $2,000. That credit directly offsets income tax of the parents.

If the business is a sole owner business, a single member LLC or a partnership owned only by the childs parents, there are no payroll taxes for the child or the employer to pay on the wages.

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05/20/2019
As a (new) small business owner myself, I am very much talking from experience with these stay sane tips. You will find that you can never prevent work from piling up but you can lay down some strategies that will help you manage the work.

You need to consider your own state of mind and do what is best for you. Whatever your goal is in a business, your dream will eventually turn into an illusion when you become overwhelmed. There are a few secrets to staying sane by breaking up stress. Here are a few tips to get you started.

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05/17/2019
Owning and operating a small business is challenging in today’s market. And common issues that small business leaders often must handle on their own are the countless HR tasks and responsibilities that take a significant amount of time and energy to properly manage.

The frustration and stress involved with modern HR has resulted in an increase in the use of outsourcing solutions. But one in particular can prove to be valuable to small employers: professional employer organizations (PEO).

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05/15/2019
A Small Business can be identified as a being a privately-owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor that have fewer staff and less annual revenue than a regular-sized corporation. The European Union (EU) defines a small business as one with under 50 employees.

Small business or as they are sometimes known, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute 47% of revenue to the U.K. economy. They have a key role in boosting productivity but need support to expand activities and increase their economic impact.

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05/13/2019
Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

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05/10/2019
SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

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05/08/2019
Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

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05/06/2019
Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

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05/03/2019
We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

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05/01/2019
Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

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04/29/2019
The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

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04/26/2019
Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

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04/24/2019
Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

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04/22/2019
Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

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04/19/2019
What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

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04/17/2019
Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

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04/15/2019
Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

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04/12/2019
So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

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04/10/2019
Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

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04/08/2019
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

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04/06/2019
Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

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04/04/2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

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04/02/2018
When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

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03/29/2019
A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

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03/27/2019
Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

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03/25/2019
The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

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03/22/2019
Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

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How are Retailers Using Chatbots to Boost Their Customer Service

chatbots

Boost your e-store’s revenue and be there for your customers whenever they need you. Build a sophisticated chatbot for your online store right away.

By Albert Smith

One of the most amazing and yet underrated technologies to come out in the recent times are the Chatbots. They carry the potential to replace the tasks of many human workers with Artificial Intelligence programs robust and dynamic enough to hold fluent conversations with humans or customers. Today, Chatbots are on the top of retail IT solutions.

Juniper Research defines a chatbot as:

‘A computer program utilising technology designed to simulate conversational interactions with human users, which may also include automated processes triggered from these interactions’.

Chatbots have been designed in a way where they assist a wide range of industries, from banking transactions, to retail customer service enquiries.

Chatbots first emerged in 2016 as one of the hot topics of that year. A few people believed bots are ‘the new cool apps’, while some believed that they were simply ‘overhyped’.

Today, major industries and large retailers have included Chatbots as one of the leading branch in customer service and assistance. This has also boosted the economy in IT sector. A few years back, one would not have heard about a Chatbot development company, but today, there are plenty.

Here are few examples of how retailers are using Chatbots to boost their customer service.

Beauty Brands

Beauty Brands has inculcated a finely-tuned chatbot which recommends gifts for people on a shopper’s list. Due to this they were able to boost their revenues during the busy holiday shopping season. According to the company, the Chatbot hit over 1.6 million total impressions.

Taco Bell

With Taco-Bell’s all-integrated Chatbot platform, Slack, customers can order directly from within the app. By using multiple commands, one can add and remove the ingredients of their choice, ask for prices online, request to see your cart and finally checkout.

What Taco Bell says is that, ‘ Once they’re set up, they can deliver a consistent brand experience to users every time.’

Dominos

Domino’s integrated a Chatbot which helps customers check the status of their orders, answer FAQs and get deals and promotions. This bot is now available for Facebook Messenger too where customers are able to order and pay for the pizza without even leaving the app.

Macy’s

Macy’s introduced ‘StoreHelp’, a simple chatbot which has been designed to help customers locate the items in their local Macy’s store. This Chatbot has been optimized specifically for mobile web. With the help of a Chatbot development company, Macy’s was able to develop this Chatbot which works well and is easy to use. The Chatbot page has been designed in a way where it can also suggest products and provide answers to simple questions.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods introduced a chatbot in order to make finding a particular supermarket easy for their customers. All they need to do is simply enter a zip code or an address, or even just share the location to get results immediately. Whole Foods is using Facebook Messenger chatbot to make it easy for people to find the relevant items they are looking for.

National Parks Depot

Another great example of Facebook messenger integrated Chatbot. National Parks Depot employs a chatbot to automatically begin a conversation with people who interact with a certain post on the social media platform. It also provides customers special coupon codes or other promotional offers.

Tommy Hilfiger

The Chatbot greets the user, then instantly introduces the consumer to the collection. Once a customer seems interested it then gives them three options for further conversation: style advice, browsing, or a behind-the-scenes look at the latest fashion show. Customer queries are dealt with ease by the Chatbot.

H&M

H&M was ahead of its competitors when in 2016, they launched a chatbot along with the Canadian messaging app Kik which in not quite well-known internationally. Customers can view, share and purchase products from H&M’s catalogue with the help of their Chatbot. There is also a sort of personal stylist service offered by the bot, using photo options and asking questions about shopper’s style. With the help of those questions, the bot creates a style profile for the customer. Customer can then use the bot to create their own outfits, vote and browse outfits created by other users, and shop.

Conclusion

Even though the functioning of the Chatbot may sound simple and quite straightforward, the real-world scenario is somewhat different. It takes a lot of effort and hours of programming to design a basic Chatbot. A few retailers prefer to employ the ready-to-use Chatbots available across the digital world. It is the quickest way to to set up your own customer support. On the other hand, organizations with complex necessities would prefer to take help from a Chatbot development company to generate bespoke solutions.

Albert Smith is a Digital Marketing Manager with Hidden Brains, a leading enterprise web & mobile app development company specializing in IoT, Cloud and Big Data services. He provides innovative ways to help tech companies, startups and large enterprises build their brand.

Chatbot stock image y Inspiring/Shutterstock

Facebook Chatbots

More than a Few Words – Episode: 370

March 1, 2019

This week we spoke to Bobbie Baehne about how to use Facebook chatbots to deliver messages your customers will notice.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST

Bobbi Baehne brings a wealth of experience, passion and education in integrated marketing techniques to Think Big Go Local.

For over 15 years, she has worked as an executive Marketing Director in the small business, private club and non-profit sectors. Ms. Baehne has also been an active part of her community, volunteering with local organizations and serving on various Boards of Directors.

As a highly respected and sought after public speaker and consultant, she is passionate about educating the business community on the relevance of effective social media marketing and creative ways to attract viewers and build credibility and authority. She excels at working with business owners to develop a strategy for the most effective way to reach and engage their online audience, converting them into loyal, paying customers.

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Chatbots for Customer Service: How Small Businesses are Using Them

Chatbots are computer programs that are able to converse with people online using human-like speech. They’re common within messaging apps and live chat features to help businesses answer customer queries, increase sales and save time. And they’re getting more popular by the day. In fact, 80 percent of businesses plan on using chatbots by 2020, according to a study from Oracle.

Not sure how a chatbot could benefit your organization? Here are some of the most popular ways this type of technology is being deployed currently.

Answering Frequently Asked Questions

At some point throughout the buying process, customers are likely to have questions. Small businesses don’t always have the resources to respond 24/7. And doing so manually isn’t very efficient. But chatbots can help you respond quickly and save time on answering the same queries over and over again.

Say you have a software company and potential buyers often want to learn more about how to actually deploy the program before purchasing. You can offer a chat option on your website and have a chatbot recognize when someone is asking about deployment. It can then provide step-by-step instructions in a way people understand. If customers then have further questions that aren’t as common, it can direct those customers to an actual customer service agent who will provide more personalized answers. But if 90 percent of the questions you receive are about the same few things, having an automated system for responding can save you a ton of time on customer service.

Creating a Unique Social Experience

Chatbots don’t have to only live on your website. In fact, brands like Quartz are reaching out to customers using chatbots in Facebook Messenger to increase engagement. The economic news site shares snippets from stories or unique facts with customers in a message. Then it engages in a back-and-forth conversation with those who respond, diving even deeper into the topic.

This idea doesn’t just apply to media companies. Retailers could use the app to ask customers questions about current fashion trends and then make product recommendations based on that information. Or food producers could use it to offer tailored recipes to customers who are looking to use a specific ingredient in their upcoming dinner.

Making Product Recommendations

Whether in a messaging app or your own site or app, chatbots can be especially valuable in helping customers find the products that are best suited to their preferences.

For example, beauty retailer Sephora’s mobile app offers a “virtual try-on” feature that lets you see different products over a photo of yourself. Similarly, Zenni Optical does this with the eyeglasses you may want to purchase. Many fashion retailers now have ways in which customers can enter their favorite clothing items and sizes in order to receive suggestions of similar items from the brand that would fit nicely.*** You can even share a photo of a celebrity or friend and ask it to find a similar shade of lipstick or blush. This technology actually uses chatbots to make suggestions and direct you toward products that fit your particular tastes.

Automating Sales

Your business probably has a sales process that is fairly consistent — whether you know it or not. It likely involves getting a customer’s attention, directing them to your website, qualifying the lead, sharing an offer, answering questions or concerns about the product and then eventually closing the sale. Chatbots can help you through various parts of this process.

For example, if you are a business consultant, you could set up a chatbot on your website designed to qualify leads and then direct them to set up a consultation. Not everyone who visits your website will necessarily be ready to buy, but you could have a chat pop up that asks people about their business idea, what step of the process they’re currently facing and what their struggles are. If they have a few key characteristics, like a newer business that is struggling with online marketing, you can have the chatbot direct them to your scheduling platform. For large investments, customers probably won’t actually purchase without talking to a real person first, but chatbots can help them set up a free consultation so they can learn more about actually working with you.

Creating a Unique Character

Your chatbot doesn’t have to act as a generic salesman or customer service rep. You can give it a unique personality or character that encourages people to actually interact with you and build some brand loyalty.

For example, Disney created a chatbot-based activity on Facebook Messenger that allowed people to essentially solve crimes with Judy, the main character from Zootopia. By including speech that Judy would say in the movie, it made kids feel like they were part of the action. And creating a game of it made them more interested in the movie itself, and thus more likely to buy tickets.