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Actionable Marketing Podcast

How to Throw Out the Leadership Playbook and Succeed…

When you’re in a leadership position, sometimes it’s hard to know who to ask or where to look when you need answers to questions and solutions to problems — especially because others expect you to have all the answers and solutions.

Today’s guest is Simon Berg, CEO at Ceros, an experiential content creation platform that empowers marketers and designers to create engaging, interactive, and immersive content experiences. Simon talks about what to do when forced to use your own critical-thinking and problem-solving skills instead of a paint-by-numbers playbook. Creativity matters!

[podcast_motor_player]

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • COVID vs. Conventional Wisdom: Layoff people during global catastrophe?
  • 2020: Incredibly difficult year of suffering, fear, desperation, anxiety, uncertainty
  • Real Life: Other feelings of presence, pause, introspection, reflection, unity
  • Adversity and Constraint: Ceros chooses opportunity for growth and creativity
  • Big Deal: Happy Birthday, Mr. Berg; time to get drunk because the deal is dead
  • Creativity in Captivity: Takes transparency, compassion, doubt, experiences
  • Survive and Thrive: Commit to not touch salaries/jobs, if you support each other
  • Best Year Ever: Build confidence and grow by believing in yourself and others
  • Advice to Leaders: Stop looking in the book, instead look up and in front of you
  • I can’t…What can you do? Only thing that you can truly control is yourself
  • Reminder: Opportunities and problems are never easy, but hard to do
  • Leadership Playbook Police: Break free from constraints by reframing goals

If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.

[Tweet “How to throw out the leadership playbook and succeed during a crisis, with @SimonBerg from @Cerosdotcom.”]

Transcript:

Ben: Hey, Simon. How’s it going this morning?

Simon: It’s very good. Cold but good.

Ben: You were just mentioned you’re in Connecticut, which we are no stranger to cold here in North Dakota. But it sounds like a lot of the rest of the country is getting a cold that most folks are not really prepared for right now.

Simon: Yeah, how is Texas?

Ben: I don’t know. I really feel awful just for everything that’s going on down there.

Simon: Talk about a state that was not prepared, but anyway.

Ben: Before we digress too much further, would you mind taking a moment just to introduce yourself to our audience and explain what you do at Ceros?

Simon: Sure. It’s Simon Berg here, and I’m the CEO over at Ceros. Ceros is about 10 years old. We’re a software business (formerly), but we’re also an ecosystem. We’re out there in the world unlocking the creativity for people through liberating technology. The shape and form of that at the moment is a digital creation platform that helps marketers and designers to create really rich, engaging visual experiences on the web without the need to code.

Ben: Cool. Great stuff. Something that we’re going to talk about on this show is leadership and just throwing out a lot of the conventional wisdom around leadership.

Before we get too far into the weeds, just from a high level—you’re coming at this as a CEO of a company that I imagine has probably gone through a lot of challenges throughout the years and probably seen a lot of stuff, so to speak, how did 2020 go for you? Just at a high level because I don’t think it was really great for any of us, or certainly not the years that we wanted but it’s the one that we got. It’s a pretty open-ended question, but from a leadership perspective, what did 2020 look like for the CEO at Ceros?

Simon: Sure. The first thing I want to say before I mention anything in 2020, you said I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of things over the years in Ceros, I mean it’s 10 years. That’s true, but I felt a lot of things too. That’s one of the first things I would say about leadership before we speak about 2020 is that there’s a lot of feelings involved—feelings of the people that you lead and the feelings as the leader. That really is an important thing that gets lost in a lot of people.

In terms of 2020, it’s been a really interesting year for my company and for me as an individual. Obviously, it’s an incredibly difficult year for everybody and you saw a tremendous amount of suffering, pain, anxiety, uncertainty, fear, desperation. That was clear to me as it began to unfold in the early part of the year.

What became apparent to me as I moved forward was in reality, much like life, there were a lot of those feelings, but there were also other feelings of presence, pause, introspection, reflection, intimacy, empathy, and unity. There were a lot of really interesting very powerful emotions that […] at once.

Those feelings for me, what I did as a leader was I did what I’ve always done, but I think I turned the volume up to 11, which was I attempted to lead through predominantly authenticity and being authentic myself. Then also trying very hard to make sure that I was at the right time, in the right ways leading through vulnerability because I think the common misconception in the world is that leaderships are […] at all times.

Vulnerability is weakness, and I call complete bullshit on that. It’s an absolute fallacy, it’s wrong. It doesn’t bring about joy or happiness to the leader. It doesn’t bring about true loyalty in those that you lead. I think it has the opposite effect. The simplest way to think about that is every single person in a position of leadership or otherwise is a human being. Human beings are fundamentally flawed, and all human beings have fear, doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty.

If you’re a leader and you pretend that you don’t, everybody that you’re leading just discounts everything that you say by 50% or more because they know that it’s impossible for you to not feel those things especially in a world like 2020. Showing that compassion, empathy, and—when it makes sense—vulnerability to my team is key.

The other thing I will say to you is that I have a huge passion—it’s my thing—creativity. Why we do and what we do at Ceros, creativity matters. I think it’s important. What 2020 presented amongst all of that for us was a tremendous amount of adversity and constraint.

You have a few choices when you face adversity and constraint. You could look in the playbook. There was no playbook for 2020. You can then conclude that you’ll curl up in a bowl and hide under a rock and wait till it goes away. Or you can see that adversity and constraint—as I am fortunate enough to see it and did see it—as an opportunity for growth and you see that adversity and constraint as the birthplace of creativity. Recognize that will help you make your way in a time where you know the playbook doesn’t work, and that’s what we did at Ceros.

Ben: Cool. It’s a very thorough answer. There’s a refreshing level of candor there too. I think everything you have to say about you can’t fake authenticity and you can’t fake strength either.

Simon: Nope, people will see through it.

Ben: Right. Getting a little bit more specific, what were some of the biggest challenges that you and your company faced in 2020? I think beyond the obvious things that we all went through like society going into lockdown, everybody’s working remote. For you specifically, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a leader, and how did you navigate your way through them? Obviously, you’re still here. Your company is still here. You got through it somehow.

Simon: The answer to that is in continuation of candor, we were in the middle of the largest deal of my career and an incredibly important transitional period for Ceros. We were in negotiations with a new financial partner to come in and deploy a large amount of capital onto our balance sheet and basically become a new investment partner to take the lead on our mission for the next five to six years.

I received that term sheet in December 2019, and I signed that February 23, December 2020. We were in the middle of due diligence with a view to closing in early April, and that deal died on March 15. Got a phone call from the partner over there. He called me up and said, look, I know I said we were going to get this done regardless of this pandemic, but it’s just too much. The uncertainty is piled up to the point where we have to stop. March 15 is also my birthday. You didn’t know that.

What happened when that happened was I put the phone down. My wife was with me, she cried, I cried, and I went and I got drunk with my chief revenue officer who lives about three minutes drive from where I live in Connecticut. I woke up the next day and had this bizarre burst of energy. I can’t define where it came from exactly, but I just felt an unbelievable calling to step forward, solve the problems, and do what needed to be done.

That culminated in the first email I sent to the team, which was on a Monday. I called it Creativity and Captivity Week One and I’ve sent 48 of those sent every single week. They are a mix of transparency, compassion, personal experiences, pictures of me with my kids, moments of sadness about telling my team that anxiety is okay and I’m here for you. It was a really interesting thing.

What I also did was I gathered my team together in the town hall and said to them, listen, the markets are uncertain. The future is uncertain. We are all scared, but I will give you my commitment as your CEO that there were probably 100 levers I can pull. Lever 99 is your salaries and then lever 100 is your jobs, and I’m not going to touch lever 99 or 100 until I pull all of the 98 other levers. I have a caveat and that is every single person in this organization that wants to be here, puts every single ounce of energy they’ve got into it, and they don’t get involved in anything other than looking after each other and making this company a success.

As a result, I said to them, we were moving into a phase that I framed as survive and thrive. We were going to survive by being prudent, but we weren’t going to hide in a cave. We were going to thrive by finding opportunities in the adversity that we faced, and a testament to that team, they all did that. No one lost their job—not a single person, including the guy that managed their in-house building construction and events building space. He now works in the IT team on support. We moved him over.

We went to battle against the world and did what we needed to do. We seized the opportunities of being a digital-first company. We had some tough conversations with the board. We may have suggested that it might be prudent to pull lever 99 or 100 right away. I didn’t, I told them no, and we marched forward.

We’ve come out tighter, the culture is stronger. My personal growth has been tremendous. Our place in the marketplace has increased. Then those investors came back in about June and we finished the deal.

Ben: That’s incredible. Something that you’ve brought up there that I think might sound counterintuitive—if you’re looking at it from a traditional business-minded perspective—is that not only did you avoid cutting salary and cutting staff, which I think sometimes those kinds of things are viewed as a shortcut to balancing the books. By not doing those things, you actually came out far ahead of where you would have been had you pulled those two levers first.

Simon: 100%. Not lost on me.

Ben: Right, and I hope it’s not lost on our listeners either because I think I could definitely hear someone looking at the same situation or someone being faced with the same situation with a more—I don’t know how to put it, but maybe someone who fancies themselves as more hard-headed or strong-willed in a more callous sense. Telling you you’ve just got to make the tough decision. You just got to start cutting dead weight or whatever, however, they would put it in order to keep your company afloat. But by not doing that, you not only—to use your own words—survived but you thrived.

Simon: We had the best year we’ve ever had last year, which is difficult to say out loud because I know there’s a lot of suffering in the world, but we had the best year. The team’s growth as individuals, the management’s growth. Every single manager in my organization, whether it’s an executive or a manager of a small team in the organization, is all three times as confident today as they were in March because they did it. They survived through one of the worst times in modern history, and they know that viscerally in their hearts.

As they step forward in 2021, they have a different sense of self-belief, and that’s a gift. I said to my team last week in a town hall I said, guys, if Ceros went bust tomorrow, you all have the gift of knowing that you did something tremendous—survived and thrived, came together, and built something incredible in one of the worst periods ever.

When you lay on your deathbed, the dollars won’t matter, but those moments that you experience together and the things that we did, they’re one in a lifetime. It’s very very rare. We have that gift and we should all be really grateful for it. I think that’s important. I think it’s true. It really was something special. We’re just very fortunate that it worked. What I will say in terms of what you asked is how do you find the strength to do that and how did you make that tough decision? Those folks that would say you’ve got to do the tough thing now.

The reality is that’s not the tough thing. I said it on a call with some people that suggested that’s what I should do. That’s actually the weak thing to do. The amount of courage it takes to step forward and do what we did is far, far greater than the shortcuts, costs, and hibernate because hibernation doesn’t work in business anyway. It’s much, much, much harder.

Oddly, the courage that I found as the leader—and we built as an executive and management, wherever it was relevant—actually came from transparency, vulnerability, and compassion. Sharing the I felt sad and fear allowed me to get the energy back that we kind of were in it together, which then in part allowed me to step forward and fight for what I believe made sense, and have the courage to do the difficult thing. Because without that ability to be transparent, it would have been a very difficult and very lonely thing to have done.

Ben: Something I think that we can all take away from Simon’s story is that when you’re faced with a situation with no clear answers and where traditional advice seems like it’s going to make your situation a lot worse rather than better, you have to instead rely on your own problem-solving skills rather than worrying about doing things by the book. Otherwise, you’re just following someone else and trying to follow someone else’s lead for fear of doing something wrong according to some sort of invisible rulebook that doesn’t actually exist rather than just looking at what’s in front of you and figuring out what you can do next to get around whatever roadblock is in your way.

If you can’t do that or you won’t do that and if you’re just following someone else, it might seem obvious when we put it this way, but that’s literally the opposite of leadership. Now, back to Simon.

If you had followed generic, old school, tough-minded “business advice,” you would have gone in the wrong direction. I think that’s an example of best practice, not really being best practice, and sometimes conventional wisdom not really being all that wise at all either. In your view, what’s wrong with typical leadership advice? What’s wrong with so much of the advice that we get told that just doesn’t hold up when you actually put it into practice?

Simon: I’ve got an aversion to playbooks. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place in the world and you can look at them. Specifically, at a time where there is no chapter for the current play, I can almost hear the pages of the playbook being turned on both calls where they were searching for the chapter.

I was saying, guys, stop looking. You won’t find a chapter that says how to run a company in a global pandemic with civil unrest, economic crisis, and an insane president. It’s not in the book. It’s not in there. You won’t find it so stop looking in the book, look up, and look at the landscape in front of you.

I said this on a board call to them. It’s a quote. It’s alcoholics prayer and I’m not a religious guy. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I knew that we couldn’t change that stuff, guys. I have the wisdom to know that, and courageously, I know what needs to be done. It’s just not very comfortable for you, and you don’t have certainty around it but needs to be done.

That sort of ability to reflect on it and see it through that lens is what helps you do that in those times. The metaphor I use is if a tornado is coming towards your house, there is no point standing on the deck of your house ranting at the tornado and screaming at it with your fist. It’s coming whether you scream about it, you’re scared of it, you laugh at it, it doesn’t matter. The tornado is coming. You can’t control it.

What we were experiencing in 2020 was basically a […] of things creating a tornado that we’d never seen before, all of which you can’t control. In my case, actually, the […] President, I can’t vote because I’m a Brit. I’m a green card holder, so I couldn’t even do anything there. In reality, all you can do at that time as the tornado is raging toward your house is pause for a second and go okay, just survive and thrive. I can bolt out my house, get my family in a safe place. And if I want to thrive, maybe I’ll build a wind farm and capture the energy when the tornadoes here. That’s what it takes.

A lot of people at that moment from fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, stood on the deck of the house and waved their fists in anger or sadness. It’s just a futile exercise. No grudge and there’s no winning there. What we did in Ceros was essentially bolted up the house where relevant, got families safe, and then built wind farms.

Simon: Something I’m hearing, something that you’re advocating for is really just looking at your own situation and using your own common sense and moral compass to guide you out of that situation rather than trying to look outside of yourself too much or outside of your situation to find some generic playbook, is one way to describe it, that’s going to just tell you what to do and you just check the items off a checklist and everything works out.

Simon: You also mentioned just point at the adversity and constraint and say, it’s that. I can’t, the economy. I can’t, civil unrest. I can’t, the virus. Because the reality of life is—and the minute you recognize this, it really is quite profound. The one thing in the world, the only thing in the world, that you truly control is you.

So no matter what you face and I go through this, I have since I was a young man. I still go for it to this day. There are moments in my life where I get caught up pointing at the tornado, and I have to slap myself and say, stop it. What can you do? How can you grow? Where is your opportunity here? What is the authentic thing to do? What is the courageous thing to do?

It’s so easy for people to do that to point out the adversity and constraint. Sure, you want to connect with it and have a moment. If it’s your boss, I don’t like you or you’re doing the thing, or tell your friend, my boss is oppressive. It’s a tornado. Say, you damn tornado. Then take a pause and go, what can I do? What can I do internally? How can I only get strength from this or grow from it? It’s hard because looking courageously yourself and looking for your weaknesses and what is required of you is terrifying.

Ben: Absolutely. I feel like you’ve got a lot of very hard-earned wisdom and perspective, I’m going to assume, just from having a lot of experience doing what you do and being in the type of role that you’re in.

For marketers, for creative professionals in general who are maybe either moving up the org chart or the ladder or maybe if they aspire one day to move into a leadership role, what are the things that you think that they should know that they’re not going to hear or they’re not going to learn just from trying to look for a playbook or a checklist? What’s the actual advice you think they need to hear so that they can equip themselves to be able to steer themselves out of adversity without just pointing and yelling at problems until they go away?

Simon: The first thing I would say is as you see those problems—whatever shape or form they take, or those opportunities—whatever shape or form they take, know this or at least remind yourself of this. Can you think of anything in your life ever that was significant and impactful that you were proud of that wasn’t […] hard? You can’t, can you?

Ben: No, I personally can’t.

Simon: No, you can’t. The reality is you’ve got to accept that and go, okay, if I want to change something I don’t like, a problem, or I want to seize an opportunity that I think looks great, the first thing you need to recognize is it won’t be easy, it’s going to be hard. If you can’t connect with that first, don’t bother because it’s going to be hard and then you’re going to revert to it’s the damn tornado. I think you’ve got to get your head around that and keep reminding yourself that all the way through.

Practical advice, it’s a boss that doesn’t think creatively. My business exists because I think creativity is a powerful force and it matters. I think if your boss is not able to think creatively, you need to understand that the boss isn’t going anywhere (probably), and if they are, fine.

If they’re constraining you and causing you a sense of adversity, you need to recognize that the change that you see, the problem that they’re creating for you or the opportunity that you’re after is going to be hard and that you’re going to have to take that back along yourself with them, and you’re going to use everything at your disposal to do it.

Data, logic, emotions, feelings, passion, Powerpoints, keynotes, videos, blog posts, songs, it doesn’t really matter. Whatever you have in your arsenal, obviously with the caveat of respect, but it’s going to be a hard slog and you need to pull those things together.

What I often say to people that come to me with this and I say it to my team as well. The other thing you should do is that if you look inside and you’ve lost respect for your peers, boss, or yourself, or they’ve lost respect for you and that goes on for two, three, four weeks. Actually, the courageous thing to do at that point is leave.

Oftentimes, people get stuck in organizations and unfortunately don’t necessarily have the right leadership. They get stuck in that cycle for years sometimes, when in reality—as I say to my team, I always say to them in town halls, and I’m fortunate that […] suggests 85%-90% of the people love or like Ceros, but there’s still some folks that don’t.

I always say to them, if you feel that deep in your soul and you know that you’re not happy, fundamentally this company isn’t going to change its culture or its purpose. I’m really not going anywhere as a leader until I think I’m not capable of doing the job. You need to then say, well, what can I do? What you can do at that point—having decided that you can’t win the battle, and you’ve lost your soul somewhere, and you don’t respect the company, the person, or even yourself. The courageous answer is leave and go do something that you’re passionate about and you love.

That is so difficult for people to get their head around, especially some of the younger folks because I think that hard knocks living the lifestyle that you talked about are missing a little bit, and that advice is key. I think it’s really key.

Ben: Absolutely. Approaching the same or similar question, from the perspective of someone who is already in a leadership role. How would you advise they begin freeing themselves from the leadership playbook police? I took some verbiage from the pitch that I was sent to bring you on the show, which I was really intrigued by.

If someone’s listening to this, they’re in a leadership role and they just feel like they’ve been doing things by the book and it’s not working, and I’m going to assume it’s not working. If that’s the approach they’ve taken, how do you get out of it? What’s the first step to breaking free from those constraints?

Simon: I think the first thing you should probably do is recognize that you’re reframing it. It’s a little bit like tai chi or the martial arts where you take the energy from it and turn it against it. You have to reframe it and realize that the adversity and constraint that you’re facing, that playbook isn’t working. You’re like this isn’t working.

If you reframe it and see it like a puzzle—a creative problem that needs solving—and you put down the playbook and check the chapters and make sure there’s nothing in there that works. But if you’re sure deep down and authentically it’s not working, then what you need to do is say, okay, this is a puzzle. This is a game, I’ve got to solve this. It’s okay if I fail. Failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a way to learn and grow.

If you can get your head around that, then you can say, I conclude that there is no answer in the book. I know none of what I’m trying to do is really important, meaningful, that matters to me. If I fail, it’s okay. That’s a leadership thing in terms of the CEO and/or others in the organization making that acceptable.

Then what you can do is start to ask yourself why it is that you want to do this thing that you’re looking in the playbook for, design the framework to some degree, and outline the goal and the outcome. I don’t mean a metric, not a mathematical metric, really. It’s more of what are you trying to achieve? What defines success, even if it’s not […].

If you can see that, write that down, and free yourself from a prescribed solution, you allow the creative part of your brain to just start to work and say, okay, the goal here is we want to connect more emotionally with our customers and build more loyalty to our brand. I’ve looked at the playbook, it’s not working. Then you can start to go, what dots can connect that the others might not? That’s a creative process.

Actually, we’re in this industry, and in this industry, we have customers in this forum and they think in this way. They’re scared of this thing and we feel this way. What is the creative way if I break down the barriers and just open it up to anything that I can achieve and you let yourself run free? You don’t need a plan, just an idea. Write them down. Get it on a piece of paper, scribble them on a whiteboard, share it with a friend, chat about them, doodle it, whatever it might be, let it out a little bit.

If you do that, what I find happens is what starts as a doodle becomes a name, which becomes an icon or a logo, which becomes a strapline, which becomes a mission, which becomes a 5-person company, which then becomes a 60-person company, which then becomes a 250-person company, and you’ve got what I got. It started with a little sketch on a piece of paper where I wrote creativity matters 10 years ago.

So take a small action—a little micro action—and don’t stop because you don’t have a full brain, Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream,” not ‘I have a plan.’

Ben: Right. Who was the famous boxer who had the quote, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Simon: Mike Tyson.

Ben: Yeah. A very different type of character, I suppose?

Simon: Yeah, but everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face by a global pandemic.

Ben: Yeah. No kidding. It’s all too real. Well, Simon, thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your insight on leadership. I think this has been a really refreshing conversation just for myself. I hope that our listeners agree. But before I let you go, are there any parting thoughts that you’d like to leave us with or any things that you think are particularly important that we haven’t touched on yet?

Simon: Yeah. I’d say this, actually, if you are a CEO, a C-level executive, or VP and you’re listening to this, do me this one favor. Pause today, just for a second, and ask yourself, am I being authentic in my everyday life as a leader? What do I know that I’m doing that’s broken or wrong but I’m too scared to say?

If you can identify that second thing, do something about it, because those that you lead will thank you for it, and ultimately, you will be happier as an individual for doing it.

The post How to Throw Out the Leadership Playbook and Succeed During a Crisis With Simon Berg From Ceros [AMP 224] appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

SEO

7 Advanced Facebook Search Operators

Facebook might have started as a way to connect college students, but today it is a full-fledged search engine, much like Google or Bing. The social media giant’s rise to search engine status includes the addition of advanced features, like Facebook search operators.

What are Facebook search operators, and why should you care about them?

Search operators are a powerful tool for filtering search results, but they also have added benefits for marketers and business owners.

Before we get into that, let’s first talk about what search operators are and why they matter.

What Are Search Operators?

Search operators are advanced search commands that make it easier to filter search results based on what you do (or don’t) want to see in search results.

For example, if you were looking up recipes for chicken soup but didn’t want to see results from Pinterest, you could use a search operator to remove Pinterest results by typing in:

“Chicken soup -pinterest”

facebook search operators - pinterest example

Google uses a wide range of these search functions that make it easier to use the search engine, including:

  • @: to search social media sites
  • $: to search for a price
  • : to leave a word out
  • “Quotes”: to search for an exact match
  • . . .: to search a range of numbers
  • OR: to combine searches
  • Site: to search a specific site
  • Related: to search for similar websites

You can also combine these commands if you want to get fancy. For example, you could use “@ neil patel OR kelsey jones” to search for social accounts for both Neil Patel and Kelsey Jones.

Search operators make it easier to find the exact data you are looking for, but they also come in handy for marketers.

4 Reasons to Use Facebook Search Operators

Facebook used to have a feature called the Facebook Graph Search, which allowed users to search for specific content on the platform by using sentences rather than just keywords. It also allowed you to find who liked a page or visited a specific city.

Facebook Graph was changed in 2019, making it much harder to search the platform. Search operators, however, fill that gap by allowing users to search for highly specific content.

How can Facebook search operators help marketers? Here are a few ways you can use those advanced search features:

  1. Research your competitors: See what your competition is up to, including what type of content they share and what topics they talk about. You can also find new competitors in your geographical area.
  2. Find content to share: Search for multiple topics or exact phrase matches to find content your audience will connect with.
  3. Find user-generated content (UGC): Search for your brand name (and common misspellings of your brand name) to find content users have shared about your brand, even if they didn’t tag you.
  4. Research your audience: Understanding who your audience is and what type of content they like can help you build a stronger relationship. Use Facebook search operators to find content on related topics or specific phrases.

7 Facebook Search Operators to Try (and How to Use Them)

Facebook search operators use Boolean operators, which are the basis of database logic. In layperson’s terms, Boolean operators are terms that allow you to broaden or tighten the search results. For example, you could use AND to search for two search terms at the same time.

Below, I’ll cover how to perform each type of Facebook search, explain what information it will help you find, and explore how to use the search operators to grow your business.

I know it might sound complicated, but I promise it’s pretty simple, and the results are worth the effort.

1. Basic Boolean Facebook Search

Boolean searches don’t work using Facebook search, so you’ll need to use Google to perform all the searches we’re about to cover.

Using site: before the name of a site will display search results just for that specific website. Here’s how it works in practice. Type in site:facebook and then whatever search term you’re searching.

Example:

site:facebook.com my favorite murder podcast

This will display the results of groups or posts about the My Favorite Murder podcast.

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Use this to find groups, pages, and users related to a specific topic. For example, if your target audience is small business owners, you could search for groups and pages for small business owners.

Pro tip: This search works for all websites, not just Facebook. Say you want to find a post from your favorite digital marketing blog or by a specific writer. Then you would perform a search for “site: <website URL> <the term you’re looking for>.”

2. Boolean Facebook Search for Two Terms Needing to Be Present

Using the AND Boolean search function, you can search for two terms simultaneously. For example, if you want to find information about digital marketing and small businesses, you would search:

site:facebook.com digital marketing AND small business

This will display search results related to both digital marketing and small businesses:

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search for Two Terms Needing to Be Present

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Perform competitive research for a specific niche or find groups your target audience belongs to on Facebook.

3. Boolean Facebook Search for One of Two Terms Needing to Be Present

Similar to the AND function, this search operator allows you to find results for one term or another. Unlike AND, which requires both terms to be present, the OR function allows you to find results including either term.

Let’s say you have a software company that targets customers who have SaaS (software as a service) or those who have a membership site. You would search:

site:facebook.com SaaS OR membership sites

The results will display groups, pages, and posts related to SaaS or membership sites.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Research several competitors simultaneously or search for content related to your brand using both your official brand name and a misspelling or commonly used term.

For example, site:facebook.com Moz OR Hubspot would return terms related to both brand names.

4. Boolean Facebook Search for Terms That Should Not Be Present

What if you want to search for a specific term, but you keep getting unrelated results? The NOT Boolean function allows you to remove unrelated search terms.

For example, let’s say you are looking to hire a web developer, but you keep seeing results for designers. You would search:

site:facebook.com web developer NOT designer

The results will include videos, pages, and profiles related to web developers but not web designers.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Search for employees or more specific content related to your industry by excluding specific terms. You can also use it to narrow geographical areas with the same or similar names, such as Paris, Georgia NOT France.

5. Boolean Facebook Search for Exact Phrase

Google and Facebook’s search features have gotten smarter in recent years, but sometimes they still don’t get it quite right. If you find your search results are slightly off, you can use the exact phrase match search operator.

This Boolean function tells search engines to only return matches that are precisely the same as your search.

To use this function, add quotation marks to the term you want to search.

Example:

site:facebook.com “mexican restaurant in kansas city”

A list of Mexican restaurants’ Facebook pages will appear in the SERPs, like this:

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search for Exact Phrase

Remember this is an exact match search. The search engine won’t return results that deviate even slightly. Search results for “mexican restaurant in kansas city” versus “mexican restaurants in kansas city” could be extremely different.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Find competitors in your area or look for groups or videos related to a specific key term. It might also help you find UGC if your brand name is very similar to another brand or phrase.

6. Boolean Facebook Search to Fill in Blanks

What if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for? The fill-in-the-blank function might come in handy. For example, if you’re looking for a specific person but can’t quite remember their name, you can use an * (asterisk) to tell Google to fill in the blank.

Say you work for Hardrock Cafe and are looking for UGC. Some users might type in Hard Rock Cafe, while others might use Hardrock Cafe. The fill-in-the-blank search operator will return results for both.

Here’s how to use it:

site:facebook.com hard * cafe

Note that this will turn up more than just Hard Rock and HardRock; it returns any results that include Hard and Cafe, no matter what is between them.

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search to Fill In Blanks

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Use the fill-in-the-blank function to find information about terms that are often misspelled or formatted differently, or if you can’t remember the exact spelling. This search operator is ideal when users might not remember the exact format of your brand name. It can also help with competitive research by broadening searches.

7. Boolean Facebook Search for Local Businesses

Facebook is a powerful tool for local SEO, with more than 1.85 billion daily active users in the United States alone. Using a search operator for local searches can help marketers and business owners find local businesses.

Say you are considering opening a coffee shop in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. You could use this search:

site:facebook.com coffee shop rogers park chicago

This returns a list of all the coffee shops in that neighborhood.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Local businesses can perform competitive analysis or market research to find local businesses in their niche. It might also help you to find brands for a cross-promotion strategy. 

Conclusion

Search algorithms have come a long way in recent years. However, they aren’t perfect.

Facebook search operators let you filter and refine search results for competitive analysis, find content to share with your users, and even locate groups where your target audience hangs out.

If you want to improve your Facebook marketing strategy, search operators are another tool in your toolbelt. 

Have you used Facebook search operators before? Which one is most useful?

The post 7 Advanced Facebook Search Operators appeared first on Neil Patel.

Choosing a CRM

13 Salesforce CRM Alternatives That Will Enhance Your Sales…

Note: This article is authored by HubSpot.

Every weekend my husband and I face a difficult decision: What movie should we watch and what should we order for dinner?

As a sales leader, deciding which CRM to use can be just as challenging a decision.

To select the right CRM for your needs, you’ll probably compare features such as customizability, ease of use, and price.

Ultimately, you want to enhance your sales process without being burdened with overly complicated software.

If you’re looking for Salesforce CRM alternatives, review our list below to find an option that will supercharge your sales process and eliminate friction.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot CRM example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $45/ mo (Starter), $450/ mo (Professional), $1,200/ mo (Enterprise)

HubSpot is a CRM platform that helps you align your internal teams, pull meaningful insights, and report on growth opportunities by combining Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and CMS, along with hundreds of available integrations, to facilitate marketing, sales, and service processes. It’s ideal for all scaling businesses (SMB and enterprise alike) and any team (including marketing, sales, customer service, operations, or C-suite).

The CRM is exceptionally easy to use, automates manual tasks (data entry, data sync, and data updates) and it centers everything you do around your customers so you’re able to create remarkable customer experiences and improve the buyer’s journey. HubSpot syncs all interactions between you and any contact to that specific contact’s timeline. This creates a single source of truth for every member of your team, from sales to marketing to service to ops.

2. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $9/ mo (Lite), $49/ mo (Plus), $129/ mo (Professional), $229/ mo (Enterprise)

ActiveCampaign is a sales CRM that’s ideal for businesses looking to automate time-consuming tasks such as lead prioritization, email marketing, and contact management. Contact data will be automatically updated and you can view your entire interaction and conversation history with any of your contacts in the CRM’s records.

The CRM also helps you determine which leads to focus most on with automated lead scoring — it uses win probability and segmentation to more easily identify those leads for you. There are also over 350 tools you can integrate with to seamlessly combine your current sales tools and data with your ActiveCampaign CRM.

Get the ActiveCampaign integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync with HubSpot.

3. Zoho

zoho crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $12/ mo (Standard), $20/ mo (Professional). $35/ mo (Enterprise), $45/ mo (Ultimate)

Zoho CRM comes with an AI-powered assistant, lead management tools, and reporting dashboards that provide insight into the sales metrics you care most about via desktop or mobile app. If your team conducts online sales meetings, Zoho has a feature that allows you to video conference as well as conduct webinars and other virtual meetings and conversations directly from the CRM.

The CRM’s Common Feeds feature makes it easy to collaborate with your team within the software — ask and answer questions, share reports and dashboards, and send deal-related updates so everyone stays in the loop. You can also select to receive notifications whenever your target audience members interact with your business so you can reach out when leads are already engaged.

Get the Zoho integration to sync your CRM, books, invoices, recruiting, and inventory data with HubSpot.

4. Freshworks

freshworks crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $15/ mo (Growth), $69/ mo (Pro), $125/ mo (Enterprise)

Freshworks CRM helps manage pipelines, tasks, and quotes. It has contract management tools as well as collaboration features that make teamwork, marketing and sales alignment, and internal communication simple. Streamline and automate tasks with the CRM’s AI-powered features including activity capture, lead scoring, and email.

Built-in phone and email allow you to conduct conversations with leads without ever having to leave the CRM. There are also lead insights that help you determine the engagement level of specific contacts and get context about their interest so you can more effectively tailor your sales pitches and conversations to their needs.

Get the Freshworks integration to keep Freshworks in two-way sync with HubSpot.

5. Pipedrive

pipedrive crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $12.50/ mo (Essential), $24.90/ mo (Advanced), $49.90/ mo (Professional), $99/ mo (Enterprise)

Pipedrive’s CRM makes it easy to visualize and manage your sales pipeline. Organize your deals in pipelines and then customize those pipelines so they’re tailored to your unique sales cycle. There are also deal pipeline collaboration features such as easy-to-make, shareable pipeline goals and reports.

Sync your email (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) with Pipedrive to handle email communication and keep records of those conversations in a single location with all of your other contact data. There are also over 200 integrations you can pair with your CRM to improve its functionality.

Get the Pipedrive integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync across your apps.

6. Zendesk Sell

zendesk sell crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $19/ mo (Sell Team), $49/mo (Sell Professional), $99/ mo (Sell Enterprise)

While Zendesk is known for its customer support software, they also offer a sales-focused CRM meant to enhance productivity and automate day-to-day sales tasks. Gain visibility into your sales process by creating pipelines that are tailored to your specific business.

Zendesk Sell is also an ideal software for businesses looking to align sales and customer service teams. For example, if a service rep is speaking with a customer who has an issue, and that conversation then turns into more questions about a new product you sell, that rep can hand the conversation off to a sales rep from within Zendesk. This makes collaboration easy for your team but also offers a seamless experience for your customers.

Get HubSpot’s Zendesk Sell integration to sync your leads with Zendesk Sell platform.

7. Less Annoying CRM

less annoying crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $15/ user/ mo

Perhaps it can be intuited from the name, but Less Annoying CRM’s goal is to provide an easy-to-use CRM for small businesses to manage contacts and track leads. All of your contact information is kept on a single dashboard where you can also add notes, files, events, tasks, and more.

The CRM includes a calendar — which integrates with Google Calendar — with tasks that you can set to stay organized and keep track of your conversations and follow-ups with leads. To ensure you stay on top of your conversations and interactions with leads, the CRM’s pipeline will provide the priority of each lead, their contact details, and any information from previous interactions you had with that lead.

8. Thryv

thryv crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Pricing available on request.

Thryv is a CRM that’s ideal for small businesses. It combines sales automation, marketing automation, and reputation management. All of your contacts are centrally located with easy-to-use filtering, tagging, searching, and tracking features to help you manage those contacts.

The CRM shows you which channels leads came to you from so you can then engage them wherever they are. There’s also a dedicated customer portal through which your clients can complete payments, send your team messages, and share files. Your team can then respond through the portal to streamline all interactions and use one tool versus multiple.

9. Salesflare

salesflare crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $29/ mo (Growth), $49/ mo (Pro), $99/ mo 99

Salesflare is an easy-to-use CRM meant for small businesses selling B2B products and services. With a visual pipeline feature, it reminds sales reps about upcoming tasks so prospects don’t fall through the cracks.

The CRM pulls all contact information it can — from email signatures, social media profiles, emails, and past conversations — and automatically adds it into your records so you have all of the details about each of your contacts at your fingertips. It also connects with your calendar and mobile phone to help you manage and log your meetings and calls with leads and customers.

10. NetHunt CRM

nethunt crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $30/ mo (Professional), $34/ mo (Professional Plus), $60/ mo (Enterprise)

NetHunt CRM is unique because it completely integrates with your Gmail account. Meaning, all of your CRM data and functionality is paired with your Google email account so you can view and manage customer information, deal opportunities, email tracking, and email campaigns all from your CRM.

The CRM also easily integrates with your other Google Workspace apps. Additionally, NetHunt comes with a variety of common CRM functionality such as task and follow-up automation, reporting and analytics, and forecasting.

11. Microsoft Dynamics

microsoft dynamics example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $65/ user/ mo (Sales Professional), $95/ user/ mo (Sales Enterprise), $135/ user/ mo (Sales Premium), $162/ user/ mo (Microsoft Relationship Sales)

Microsoft Dynamics is a CRM and ERP software with social insights, cloud-based campaign management, and business intelligence (BI). The CRM can be delivered by cloud, it can be hosted, or it can be on-premises.

Microsoft Dynamics has a variety of apps that you can integrate to help you manage relationships with customers via a mobile device and sync data from social media and other business tools with your CRM. Real-time, AI-powered insights help you acquire qualified leads and understand your audience on a deep level. Dynamics bases these insights on behavioral, demographic, transactional, feedback, and engagement data to ensure they’re accurate and actionable.

Get the Dynamics integration to connect HubSpot to your Dynamic CRM for sales and marketing data alignment.

12. Keap

keap crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $79/ mo (Lite), $149/ mo (Pro), $140/ mo (Max)

Keap is a CRM with a number of sales and marketing tools to help you personalize all interactions, make appointments, track lead and contact data, and manage quotes. Personalize your outreach and customize and automate follow-up reminders and communication to ensure you’re reaching out (via email, phone, or SMS) when you need to.

The CRM’s Activity Stream is automatically updated whenever you interact with a contact so all interactions are up-to-date, accurate, and centrally located.

Get the Infusionsoft by Keap integration to keep your business and your contacts in two-way sync with HubSpot.

13. Bitrix24 CRM

bitrix24 example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $19/ mo (Start +), $55/ mo (CRM+), $55/ mo (Project+), $79/ mo (Standard), $159/ mo (Professional)

Bitrix24 CRM tracks all of your interactions with leads, contacts, customers, partners, and more — all of this data is updated and kept in the tool’s contact database for you. Easily create and share reports and contacts, and segment your target audience with ease.

Choose to spread out all incoming contacts among your sales reps so there’s a steady workflow. Use the Activity Stream feature to take notes, send emails, place phone calls, create tasks, make meetings, and more, all without ever leaving the CRM. Lastly, choose whether to host your CRM on your server or by cloud.

Get the Bitrix24 integration to keep keep your CRM contacts & companies in two-way sync with HubSpot.

Choose Your CRM

Choosing a CRM can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing to do is make a list of your must-haves and compare the possible tools to select the right software for your team. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

crm software free

Entrepreneurship

Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Make no mistake: running a website is hard.

There are so many areas to focus on, from content creation to admin, to maintaining a site via updates.

The good news is that WordPress maintenance services can take a load off users’ shoulders, keeping their sites up to date and allowing them to spend their time elsewhere.

These services offer support and can help with website downtime, theme modifications, site backups, and more.

I’ve put together a list of the best WordPress maintenance and management services to help you get started.

#1 – GoWP — The Best For Agencies

GoWP is an ideal WordPress maintenance service for agencies.

It positions itself as a white-label service, which allows an agency to layer its own branding and SOPs on top of the maintenance services GoWP provides as if those services are now part of the agency’s own back end. 

The white-label focus allows GoWP to create a dedicated mailbox using a domain, provide help and support to all requests to that email, and share a white-labeled dashboard with clients.

On top of that, you have WordPress plugin updates, security monitoring, and automatic site backups with 90 days of offsite storage.

Other powerful features of GoWP include:

  • Unlimited content edits
  • Dedicated account manager (premium)
  • Dedicated WordPress developer (premium)
  • Daily security scans and malware cleanup
  • White-label help desk

GoWP has four main tiers of pricing that come under the following sequential packages:

  • Maintenance / $29 monthly per site       
  • Content Edits / $79 monthly per site       
  • Page Builds / $1299 monthly per site      
  • Dedicated Developer / $2299 monthly per site

The second tier gives agencies access to a 24/7 team of experts, a support ticket dashboard, and Visual Validator WordPress updates.

The next tier jumps up in price but does provide you with a dedicated WordPress developer for it. Learn more at GoWP.

#2 – FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support

FixRunner is a great choice for dedicated tech support.

The service features monthly support time from two hours to four hours—this does depend on the plan you opt for—and additional help is available if you need it.

You’ll be able to use this support time to make all sorts of tweaks to a site, including full debugs, performance improvements, and more.

I was particularly impressed with FixRunner’s 30-day satisfaction guarantee that offers a full refund, no questions asked if you’re unhappy with the service.

FixRunner additionally offers:

  • Speed Optimization
  • WordPress core updates
  • Plug-in and theme updates
  • Uptime monitoring
  • Security scans

The service provides plans for both small websites and bigger, enterprise-level ones. There are three core plans available for smaller websites:

  • Premium / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $69 monthly
  • Rocket / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $99 monthly
  • Advance / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $179 monthly

For bigger websites or Enterprise-level business, we have the following:

  • Advance + / Monthly or quarterly / $300 monthly
  • Advance ++ / Monthly or quarterly / $500 monthly
  • Custom / Monthly or quarterly / Call for price

If you’re a smaller website, I think the Rocket package is a good starting point–it includes support for online shops, on-page SEO optimization, and a faster response time for sites, making it a notable offering all around.

#3 – WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security

WP Buffs is a top maintenance service for those that want full confidence in their site’s security.

When users purchase the service, they’ll be able to use the iThemes Security plugin—considered to be one of the best security plugins available.

The plugin exists to protect a site from nasty malware and spam, but it’s also useful for its cache feature that improves the loading speed of a site—something crucially important for good rankings.

Users also have the option to back up their entire site with WP Buffs and store it in the cloud for extra peace of mind.

Other key features of WP Buffs include the following:

  • 24/7 site edits
  • Speed optimization
  • Ongoing security
  • Weekly updates
  • Emergency 24/7 support

On the pricing front, WP Buffs offers multiple different plans. The four key ones are Maintain, Protect, Perform, and then a series of custom plans for those with advanced needs.

Itemized these are:

  • Maintain / Annual or monthly / $56 a month billed yearly
  • Protect / Annual or monthly / $123 a month billed yearly
  • Perform / Annual or monthly / $164 a month billed yearly
  • Custom / Annual or monthly / starts at $290 a month billed yearly

The iThemes Security Pro premium plugin is included from the second package onwards or the ‘Protect’ tier in this case. The third level of pricing, ‘Perform,’ includes four daily cloud backups, priority support, and complete malware removal.

#4 – Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners

Valet should be a top pick for those that run ecommerce stores.

It’s a comprehensive service that provides manual updates and includes uptime monitoring, security scanning, and full examinations of checkout workflows, all of which help ensure everything is running smoothly for your customers.

Some of the other highlights include:

  • Code checks
  • Reports and analysis
  • Remediation for website accessibility
  • Up to five hours of dedicated support per month

The first paid plan with Valet starts at $300 per month and includes two hours of support.

Ecommerce store owners should check out the professional plan that costs $750 a month but includes five hours of dedicated support every month.

The top tier plan with Valet is the ‘Elite Plan’ that offers over ten hours of support each month, and this is quite clearly catered towards large companies that have the extra funding available.

General consultations with Valet are available and cost $175 per month.

#5 – SiteCare — The Best For Performance Optimization

SiteCare is the best option on my list for site performance optimization. If you want a service that will optimize a site so it loads as quickly as possible, this is your top choice.

SiteCare gets to work by first looking at aspects of a site that could be causing it to slow down. This can be due to anything from poorly optimized images to faulty plugins or a web host’s quality.

Once that’s done, the service implements a series of best practices, removing the website’s weaknesses step by step until it’s responsive and efficient.

SiteCare offers the following to those that use the service:

  • Hack cleanups
  • Daily backups
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Theme and plugin updates
  • Mobile optimization

In terms of pricing, things are clear and simple. There are two key plans available: a basic plan and an advanced one.

The basic plan costs $79 a month and includes access to the essentials, such as daily backups, malware cleanup, and access to support.

The more advanced plan costs $299 a month, so quite a jump, but for that, you get access to custom development hours with a specialist and a few extras such as ecommerce support and Sucuri firewall.

#6 – The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

Only want specific parts of a service? Well, The WP Butler is unique because it allows users to customize their service plan.

For example, maybe you’re just looking for caching and speed improvements but don’t require anything else.

Monthly services with The WP Butler include malware scans, daily or weekly backups, and plugin or theme updates.

The itemized one-off service includes everything from configuring HTTPS to a custom security inspection.

Additional features of The WP Butler include:

  • Weekly site reviews
  • Uptime monitoring
  • 30 minutes of development time on retainer
  • Emergency site restoration
  • Security plugin configuration

As there are quite a few options with The WP Butler, pricing varies significantly depending on what you need.

If the monthly packages are more suited to you, these come in the following tiers:

  • The Basics / $39 a month
  • The Solopreneur / $69 a month
  • The Small Business / $129 a month
  • The Company / $299 a month
  • The Enterprise / $599 a month

One-off services range from $100 to $250, and there’s even the option of a monthly retainer. With this, you pay for a set number of hours of development work each month. Lots to choose from here.

What I Looked at To Find the Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services

Before deciding which of these WordPress maintenance and management services to go for, it’s worth knowing how I chose them.

The first thing to mention is that there are two primary forms WordPress maintenance can take.

Generally speaking, there are WordPress maintenance services like the ones featured in this list, and there is “managed WordPress hosting.”

If a site is part of managed WordPress hosting, then there’s a good chance you won’t need maintenance service on top of that. Examples include WP Engine, Bluehost, SiteGround, and WordPress.com (not WordPress.org). If you’re hosting your WordPress site with any of these, maintenance services may not be necessary for you. 

Since you’re reading this post, though, you’ve probably chosen to use a WordPress maintenance service outside of your hosting platform (or are hosting your site with a platform that doesn’t provide those services), so here are some of the features I looked at to pick out the best maintenance services. 

Security Monitoring

It goes without saying how important security is for a site in the internet age. With the increase in threats and cyberattacks, knowing someone has got your back can bring great comfort.

Most of the maintenance services on this list include top security monitoring as part of their monthly packages, although not every service will. Some, for example, might include this as an optional extra.

How essential this is depends on the size of a company, but in most cases, monitoring a site for threats and knowing what to do if attacked is key. A maintenance service removes a great deal of worry here, so I think it’s a vital area to consider.

Site Optimization

Site optimization is a broad term, but in the case of WordPress maintenance and management services, I’m mainly talking about making a site more responsive and quicker to load.

A slow website can lead to people leaving sites rapidly in today’s fast-paced world, not to mention that Google actively penalizes slower websites by pushing them down in the search results.

A WordPress maintenance service can optimize a site to load quickly, making it responsive and pleasurable to use. This is important for every single site on the internet.

Almost all of the WordPress maintenance services on this list include site optimization in some form, though the exact service carried out can vary.

Backups

A site that’s a victim of a cyberattack could find itself damaged and beyond repair—that’s where site backups come in. These allow users to restore a healthy and fully working version of said site.

In fact, it might not be a cyberattack, mistakes that delete files or whole databases can happen, sometimes inexplicably.

Having a maintenance service ready and waiting to install a healthy backup of a site if something goes wrong is beyond useful. It removes a lot of the stress from potentially losing everything.

Companies of most sizes will find this a vital feature, although site backups are easy enough to do if you’re an informed solopreneur—in the case of the latter, they might not need this particular service.

Conclusion

WordPress maintenance and management services can be crucially important to the right person. There’s a considerable amount of choice out there too, and knowing where to start can be difficult.

My list covers all of the key areas to consider:

  • GoWP — The Best For Agencies
  • FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support
  • WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security
  • Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners
  • WP Site Care — The Best For Performance Optimization
  • The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

These are respectable choices, and thinking about exact needs can help make the decision process a little bit quicker.

There’s a lot to think about when running a site, from site backups to security and optimization.

WordPress maintenance services will allow the process to become more manageable, saving precious time for use elsewhere.

The post Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services appeared first on Neil Patel.

Sales

Will Sales Teams Move Back Into the Office?

The world is a very different place than it was two years ago. Many of the changes we’re seeing now will stick around long after the pandemic has ended, including remote work and hybrid office environments.

Before COVID-19, remote work was commonly used as a benefit to attract employees. People who work from home report higher job satisfaction, higher salaries than on-site workers, and less stress.

A remote work model also benefits employers with reduced overhead costs and higher rates of employee productivity. Yet, 32% of companies across the globe still didn’t allow remote work prior to COVID-19.

As the global health crisis continues to ebb and flow, many businesses are wondering if an office is necessary at all.

Are offices still necessary?

The pandemic has forced many companies to embrace remote work and, for some, the transition may stick. As we wait to find out what the workplace will be like post-COVID-19, we anticipate a shift in how organizations view the office.

Before the pandemic, offices focused on having an environment where the main goal was getting to know and collaborate with as many people as possible. Companies were finding new ways to make their offices more unique and innovative, and employees were welcomed to the office with perks such as ping pong tables, free snacks, and more.

Within the last few months, companies have started to rethink the office space. Rather than a single fixed location, we expect to see companies embrace a broader definition of “workplace” to include both in-person offices and remote work locations.

This shift will lead to many businesses putting less money into the development of the office and more money into resources and technologies to ensure teams can be successful wherever they choose to work.

Whether you’re someone who spends most of your day on calls that you can easily take from home or a developer that needs access to better bandwidth than home internet companies can provide, it’s clear that the need for offices will always be circumstantial. What is unclear, however, is what future offices will look like, how often they will be used and by whom.

How are sales teams impacted by remote work?

Recently, sales teams have been leveraging virtual meeting tools like Zoom to conduct calls and face-to-face meetings to help build relationships with prospects or interact with colleagues. But the question still remains, without an office, what will happen to sales teams?

The global health crisis caused many sales organizations to quickly provide sellers with the resources needed to dive into remote selling and operate effectively and efficiently from home. Now every seller is an inside sales rep.

However, one thing has remained constant. No matter what the situation, buyers are still economically driven. Now, facing an economic downturn, we see this even more. Buyers are wondering how much a solution will cost, especially after dealing with reprioritizing projects and realigning budgets due to spending cuts.

Research from Gartner indicates that companies are cutting back on their technology spending while balancing conservatism with the need to drive digital transformation. Frugalnomics is in full effect, with many organizations seeking ways to reduce spending and do more with less in order to accelerate and capture growth post-COVID.

A sales enablement platform can help you quickly onboard and train a remote sales force. Like the rest of the world, you’re likely trying to figure out how to bounce back from the aftermath of COVID-19 and do it fast.

Selecting a technology that allows you to get up and running and easily see immediate improvements in sales efficiency and effectiveness is critical to achieving your business objectives.

How can sales teams continue to be effective?

Companies need to have confidence that their sellers are as effective working from home as they were interacting with customers, prospects, and colleagues face-to-face. Here are a few ways to shift your sales approach and smooth the transition to remote selling.

1. Implement interactive presentations.

When transitioning to remote sales meetings, many would argue that video conferencing is the best option. But is it enough? Video conferencing platforms like Zoom are intended to make conversations more organic, but only 12% of people feel as comfortable on video calls as they do phone calls, resulting in lower levels of engagement.

To avoid this, taking advantage of interactive and engaging presentations can amplify your prospective buyers interest and participation. Rather than putting your buyers to sleep with static presentations, an animated approach will make your product or service stand out against competitors.

2. Enhance sales through value selling.

Before a buying decision is made, prospects look to sellers to share information they don’t already know, especially in times of economic downturn or hardship.

Quantifying your product or service’s return on investment (ROI) will provide your buyer the information they need to sell your solution internally, to help prioritize and justify the allocation of budget to your proposal versus all others being considered.

Interactive value selling tools such as ROI and TCO calculators have been proven to increase win rates with 74% of customers buying from the first seller that can demonstrate a path to value.

3. Lean on remote learning.

Tools such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) make it easier to onboard and train remote sellers. An LMS like Lessonly, MindTickle™ or SAP Litmos can help you bring sales trainings online, allowing you to record and store training videos and distribute them to your sales teams no matter where they’re learning from. The “sales readiness” that a learning management system provides is proven to better prepare reps to sell and meet quotas.

It’s focused on giving them the knowledge they need to be effective in front of customers versus dropping a bunch of information they may or may not need to know all at once. Relying on modern LMS systems allows your sales organization to go beyond one-time training and onboarding.

Not only will organizations receive sales knowledge quicker, but your sellers will feel better prepared for sales interactions, especially while working from home.

There are still many unknowns about what the future of work looks like. Whether we’re remote or in the office, it’s best to make sure your sales reps are prepared to lead engaging sales conversations (no matter the location), can financially justify proposals to ever more frugal and risk averse buyers, and are trained and ready despite not being able to do in-person on-boarding and training.

In the meantime, ask your employees if a remote office works for them and think about how to build a company culture and encourage communication with or without an office. Ultimately, organizations that figure out how to do so will come out on top.

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B2CRM News

Are the Golden Globes Golden Outside the Hollywood Bubble?

What’s in this article: 

  • A quick look at whether today’s most crucial societal issues were addressed during the 2021 Golden Globes 
  • Brands and organizations can learn from Hollywood’s mistakes 

On March 1, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the 78th Golden Globe Awards and thousands of viewers watched the ceremony from home. This year, though, just like everything else, things are different. 

Besides the fact that the ceremony was held virtually – the audience had expectations that might have been different than years before. Things that have been especially important in a social climate that is still very much sensitive. 

So, is Hollywood still glorifying the elite bubble? Is Hollywood white, straight and male as ever? Let’s find out. And where is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when it comes to the current Zeitgeist? 

Race: Wrong 

HFPA’s lack of diverse representation is significant. The organization has been called out leftright, and center since the Golden Globes by numerous actors and organizations. 

In fact, HFPA’s lack of Black voting members became a wave of industry criticism and an entire controversy of the 2021 Golden Globes ceremony. 

At the beginning of the Globes weekend, the #TimesUp organization issued its statement, calling on the HFPA to go beyond a “cosmetic fix” with the following message on social media: 

“Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Not a single Black member out of the 87 members. A cosmetic fix isn’t enough #TimesUpGlobes.” 

Amy Schumer, Spike Lee, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, and so many more Hollywood stars have been supporting that. 

 

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A post shared by @amyschumer

In response, a 43-second telecast during the ceremony showed HFPA leaders pledge to diversify their ranks. 

“Tonight, while we celebrate the work of artists from around the globe, we recognize we have our own work to do,” said Helen Hoehne, the HFPA’s vice president. “Just like in film and television, representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.” 

While former president of the organization, Meher Tatna, added that the HFPA “must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen.” 

Therefore, it’s crucial that the HFPA addresses the systemic problems within their organization.  

And, if your brand hasn’t done so already, now’s the time to put in the rigorous effort and work to implement a plan, too. 

Gender Equality: Right 

Women breaking barriers in all aspects of life pave the way for future generationsThis year, the Golden Globes nominations inspired women from across the globe as well – right in time for Women’s History Month. 

Chloe Zhao became the first women director and the first Asian director to win Best Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globes. 

While Jane Fonda’s acceptance speech has generated buzz for her powerful and inspiring words. 

 

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A post shared by WWD (@wwd)

Golden Globe hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, had heart and star designs drawn on their hands which in the Netflix film, Moxie, is meant to signal support for the feminist revolution. 

Just one tiny thing here: Jason Sudeikis accepted his Best Television Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Award for Ted Lasso in a brightly colored tie-dye sweatshirt. 

Some would call this double standard for how men and women should dress to one of the world’s most fashionable events that normally starts on the red carpet. 

But overall, it seems like at this aspect, at least, HFPA’s main event came across as “woke”. 

The post Are the Golden Globes Golden Outside the Hollywood Bubble? appeared first on Post Funnel.

advanced SEO

How Long Should Blog Posts Be in 2021?

“Does size matter?”

That’s one of the most common questions clients ask me about their blog posts. My short answer is, “yes, of course, blog post length is important, but it’s how you use your word count that matters most.”

Since Google’s algorithms don’t have a minimum word count for content and blogs, content quality outweighs quantity. Search engines try to find content that directly relates to the intent behind the user’s search query. If your content is optimized for relevant keywords and directly answers the user’s question, your chances of ranking increase.

Instead of fretting about blog length, your energy is better invested in developing the content structure, information, and resources your users need.

Ultimately, as the saying goes, your blog post should be as long as it needs to be. But I know you want a more definitive answer. And despite Google’s amorphous algorithms, I do have an answer for you about this question.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO?

Your average blog post length should range between 2,319 words and 2,620 words.
And now it’s time for a big ol’ disclaimer. My answer is conjecture. To calculate the average word count, I analyzed Portent’s top-performing blog posts to speculate the ideal word count range. I chose to use our blog rather than search results because we have more than 125 blog posts currently ranking on Google’s first page, many of which also have featured snippets.

I averaged the word count for the 50 most-visited posts by organic pageviews between February 2020 and February 2021. All of these articles earned at least 1,000 unique pageviews from organic search.

Here’s a breakdown of the data for the 50 posts I analyzed.

  • Smallest word count: 667 words — Google Apps Script Tip #1: Finding the last row
  • Largest word count: 5,065 words — 113 Google Tricks, Easter Eggs, April Fool’s Day Jokes and Pranks
  • Average blog post length: 2,520 words
  • Median blog post length: 2,264 words
  • Average grade reading level: 10

And here’s what I found for the top 10 performing articles within the 50 post data set.

  • Smallest word count: 1,482 words — How to Set Up & Use Atom as a Markdown Editor
  • Largest word count: 5,065 words — 113 Google Tricks, Easter Eggs, April Fool’s Day Jokes and Pranks
  • Average blog post length: 2,419
  • Median blog post length: 1,939
  • Average grade reading level: 9

As a rule of thumb, I always give a +/- 100-word buffer for word count ranges. This accommodates succinct and long-winded writers alike without steering too far away from the average.

But determining your word count based on performance is only part of the equation. As I mentioned earlier, search intent is the ultimate blog post length factor.

How Search Intent Affects Blog Post Length

What information fulfills the user’s search query and fully answers the intent of their question?

The answer to this question should be the North Star for every aspect of your blog post.

To determine how search engines interpret the searcher’s intent for a given keyword or topic, you must first learn about what content succeeds in the search results for the keyword or topic.

First, Google your primary keyword or the high-level topic you’re writing about. Next, analyze the first page of results, including the featured snippet if it’s present. Determine the types of content offered (educational, commercial, how-to, listicle, video, etc.), and then review the featured snippet and the top-three results.

In your page-by-page review, pay attention to:

  • Topics covered and the discussion order — the relevance of the topics discussed compared to the user’s search query
  • Target keywords — the keywords the competitor’s posts rank for and where they are used in the blog post
  • Experts referenced — the experts quoted or the sources the blog post author gives
  • Resources provided — the internal and external resources the blog post links to or includes
    Blog post word count

After you know what the top-three pages discuss, calculate the average word count among those pages. Now, determine if you can provide information and resources that rival your search competitors’ content. If so, aim for a blog post length within +/- 100 words of the calculated average.

Remember, your competitor’s average word count is simply a guideline. It shows what Google thinks is valuable, but that doesn’t always mean your users will agree. If you notice shorter posts have abnormally high bounce rates or longer posts don’t get the engagement you need, then switch things up. In the long run, you’ll be better off by focusing on your user’s needs and then worrying about Google later.

The post How Long Should Blog Posts Be in 2021? appeared first on Portent.

Editor's Pick

Tracking URLs in HubSpot: What You Need to Know…

Your HubSpot campaigns typically involve several different moving parts that may cross over departments like marketing, sales, and customer service. One of the most common elements in any HubSpot campaign? 

URLs.

With a tracking URL, you can see how and when visitors access your site through a URL in a specific campaign. It can help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing campaign because if someone isn’t clicking ANY of your links, that may signify a problem. 

Here’s what you should know about tracking URLs in HubSpot campaigns. 

What Is a Tracking URL?

A tracking URL sounds exactly like it is! It’s a standard URL with parameters you select attached to it, so when visitors come to your site from it, HubSpot will save the information in these parameters. 

What Are UTM Parameters?

As noted, UTM parameters are a vital component of your tracking URL. These tags help you “track” your website’s traffic from its origin or help identify which of your marketing campaigns are referring traffic to your webpage. For example, if you want to know if an Instagram ad is leading buyers to your product page, you should create a tracking URL with specific UTM parameters. You can select from

  • Source – Shows where your visitors are coming from. This could be anything from email marketing, Facebook, paid advertising, or something custom. 
  • Medium – The channels bringing visitors to your site. An example of medium would be social media. 
  • Campaign – The campaign your URL or promotion is associated with. This will be unique to you. 
  • Term – Shows any paid keywords that you’re targeting within your campaign. 
  • Content – Highlights the exact element of your ad or promotion that someone clicked on. 

It’s important to note that only campaign and source are mandatory for every tracking URL. The rest are optional. So, a combination that makes sense for your team and campaign works fine! 

Why Should You Use Tracking URLs

You’ll want to create a tracking URL whenever you want to see the traffic from a campaign. Generally, most HubSpot users utilize these URLs in their email blasts, PPC campaigns, social media, and virtually any type of paid advertising. You can also create a tracking URL for your meeting links so your sales team can see where prospects are coming from. 

How To Create a Tracking URL

Before creating a tracking URL, HubSpot recommends setting up your campaign and adding or building any related assets for it. If you make your URL before your campaign, you can’t associate the URL with it – which kind of defeats the purpose of a tracking URL, right? You should also double-check the spelling, grammar, and naming conventions in your UTM parameters to make sure everything is following your brand. 

Once you’re ready to create your URL, you’ll:

  • Log in to your HubSpot account
  • Click “Reports” then “Analytics Tools”
  • Under “Analytics Tools,” click “Tracking URL Builder”
  • Choose “Create Tracking URL” 
  • Add in your UTM campaign and source 
  • Hit “Create,” then navigate to the “Actions” dropdown
  • Click “Copy Tracking URL”
  • Include your URLs in your content! 

Reporting on Your Tracking URLs

The primary purpose of tracking URLs is to see which of your campaigns are working and which aren’t so you can optimize your efforts. Be sure to analyze your tracking URLs like you would your email open rates or blog views. 

To do this, navigate to:

  • “Reports”
  • Then click “Analytics Tools” 
  • Hit “UTM Parameters” 

From there, you’ll choose a date and frequency to get an overall report. To look at a specific campaign or source, head back to “UTM Parameters,” then select your parameter in the upper left corner. After, you can put your data into different reporting formats, like bar graphs and more, to see your campaigns’ results. 

Get Help

With tracking URLs, you can finally see what exact campaigns and elements of a campaign are working as expected and which are underperforming. With these guidelines, you should be able to create your tracking URLs in no time! However, if you’d like any help or a deeper dive, please reach out to the experts at Lynton.

conferences

Why You Should Use Early Bird Registration for Your…

A few years ago on Thanksgiving, my entire family flew to my sister’s house, except for me. I couldn’t afford the plane ticket, so I stayed home. When I looked at their pictures on Facebook, I was upset that I missed out on the trip.

That concept is called the fear of missing out (FOMO). FOMO, while upsetting when I missed my family trip, is actually a great marketing tool to use when you’re planning an event.

Usually, people don’t start registering for events until the last minute. As a marketer, you’re probably wondering, “How can I get them to register earlier?”

A great way to sell more tickets faster is to use FOMO as a way of motivating your audience to buy tickets through early bird registration.

Today, let’s learn how early bird registration can help you sell more tickets to your events.

The idea behind early bird registration is that people won’t want to miss out on a deal. Plus, this tactic taps into your audience’s sense of urgency. So if you have people on the fence about whether or not they want to go to your event, then an early bird registration might be all you need to nudge them in the right direction.

However, for an early bird discount to work, it needs to be of great value. The package shouldn’t just be slightly cheaper. In addition to the discount, maybe early bird registrants get access to more content, or perhaps the discount is really steep. Either way, it needs to be worth it, otherwise, people won’t feel like they’re missing out if they don’t partake.

Ultimately, this means you can sell more tickets and attract more people to your events.

Additionally, using early bird registration could help you project how much interest there is in your event and your marketing materials. If you have a hard time getting people to buy early bird tickets, then perhaps you need to switch up your marketing tactics before the event. It’s kind of like a test run for your promotional plan.

If all goes well, you’ll also get attendees excited about your event and give them time to talk about it on social to help you spread the word.

To get people excited about early bird tickets, you can promote your keynote speakers, and market the value of the event. What will people get by attending your event?

Now that we know more about what early registration is and why you should use this tactic, let’s dive into the logistics of running early bird registration.

How long should early bird registration last?

For early bird registrations, you can set a certain time period or you can limit the number of purchasers. For example, you can have the early bird discount available during the first week of sales or you can only offer a discount to the first fifty registrants.

Additionally, you might consider only offering early bird discounts to members or subscribers. This is a great benefit and encourages people to sign up for your service. Or you can reward repeat attendees. If you hold an event every year, perhaps repeat customers can get access to early bird discounts before anyone else.

When you’re strategizing about how long the early bird registration will last and what the package should include, it’s important to factor in how many tickets you can sell at a reduced price without hurting your profits. So before you decide on the time frame or the number of tickets, think about your projected attendance.

When your early bird registration ends, it’s time to take advantage of the momentum you’ve built. Use the marketing materials that were successful for a big push before the event.

Early bird registration is a great way to accelerate and improve your sales for your next event. By utilizing urgency, relying on scarcity, making early bird registrants feel like VIPs, and creating a fear of missing out, you’ll create buzz and excitement around your event.

Event Marketing

ecommerce

What Are Google Customer Reviews?

With the competition becoming fiercer every day, e-commerce businesses need to pull all the stops to ensure they continue beating the competition.

One simple yet powerful marketing tool you can use to your advantage is the Google Customer Reviews feature.

Research shows that 70 percent of people trust online reviews more than they trust advertisements. That’s why getting as many reviews as possible from your customers can be one of the best things you can do for your business.

Google has made that easy with Google Customer Reviews.

Let’s dive right in and see what these reviews are all about.

An Overview of Google Customer Reviews

Google Customer Reviews is a service that allows businesses to collect reviews on their website. To participate in Google Customer Reviews, you must have a Google Merchant account.

Google does most of the heavy lifting by helping collect customer feedback for you. To do that, Google sends your customers an email asking if they want to provide feedback on their experience with your brand. Customers who choose to participate then receive a short survey form to fill out.

The reviews and ratings that customers provide in the surveys can be displayed on your website and other marketing platforms. They also help determine seller ratings that Google gives to merchants, including the average star rating and the number of ratings. The higher the rating, the more trusted the merchant is.

A replacement of the retired Trusted Stores program, Google Customer Reviews is an excellent way to prove to prospects that they can trust you to deliver on your promises.

Why Are Google Customer Reviews Important?

If you’re wondering whether you should even bother with the Google Customer Reviews program, let me quickly give you three important reasons why you should.

Help Build Social Proof

One of the essential ingredients to running and growing a successful e-commerce business is to gain your customers’ trust.

That’s what Google Customer Reviews helps you do.

The customer reviews you gather are great for building social proof you can use to gain the trust of new customers. Social proof simply means evidence that other people trust you to provide them with a positive shopping experience. It makes other customers feel comfortable shopping with you. As a result, this positively impacts your conversion rates.

Participating in Google Customer Reviews allows you to build social proof and add a badge with the Google brand on your website, helping drive conversions.

Help Build a Better Brand and Products

Besides helping you win your customers’ trust, Google Customer Reviews is also an excellent way of getting feedback from your customers. You can use this feedback to improve your product and service delivery. As a result, you can build a better brand and create buyer journeys that your customers will love.

Boosts Your Local SEO

Want to boost your local SEO? Then leverage Google Customer Reviews.

Search engines, particularly Google, want to serve up the most relevant businesses in local search queries. To do so, they consider what your brand does.

Most importantly, they value the opinions left by people who have had a first-hand experience with you.

That’s where Google Customer Reviews come in. They help search engines know which businesses to recommend to users. Google rewards brands with better reviews by ranking them higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google Customer Reviews also helps users decide which brands to do business with. To get a fair share of the business, you’ll need to have more positive reviews than your competitors.

Ignoring Google Customer Reviews could deprive you of the opportunity to give your business and marketing more mileage. That’s especially true as studies show that 87 percent of people read online reviews when researching local businesses.

How Does Google Customer Reviews Work?

How does this program work? Thankfully, it’s much simpler than Trusted Stores. All it takes for you to get a customer review are three simple steps:

1. Google Asks Your Customers to Opt-In

When a customer buys something from you, Google sends them an email around the day they’re expected to receive their purchase. The purpose of the email is to ask the customer to opt-in to receive a survey about their experience shopping on your site.

2. Customers Take the Survey

Customers who opt-in are then directed to a survey consisting of a star rating system (from one to five). There’s also space for additional comments if customers wish to provide more information about their shopping experience.

Example of a Google Customer Reviews survey being filled.

3. Google Aggregates the Reviews and Data

Once the survey information is submitted, Google aggregates it to form star ratings for your business. These are displayed on your website and in organic and paid search results.

While Google Customer Reviews is a Google initiative, it benefits you as a merchant.

Try as much as possible to encourage your customers to participate. This way, you get more reviews, and more reviews mean a better seller rating (Google’s average rating for your store).

That, in turn, will encourage more people to shop from your business.

What Can You Do With Your Reviews?

You’ve managed to collect some reviews using the Google Customer Reviews program. What’s next?

Well, this is where the fun begins, as you can use these reviews for many things. Here are just a few ideas:

Incorporate Them in Your Business Listings

Your reputation is one of your most valuable business assets. What better way to show customers that you’re a reputable business than by showing them what other customers say about you?

Include your reviews in all business listings of your business across the web to build customer confidence.

Display Them on Your Website

One of the first things you can do with your reviews is to display them on your website. Doing so helps earn your customers’ trust. It also lets customers see that you’re transparent, a value that 81 percent of customers look for in brands.

Use Them on Social Media

We all know social media can be a very powerful marketing tool. When you run your social media marketing campaigns, you can leverage your reviews by incorporating them into your posts or ads.

You can use your reviews on any marketing platform and with any marketing strategy. The whole point is to demonstrate to potential customers that your business is reputable and is known for delivering good customer experiences.

So, if you feel your marketing message could benefit from a review or two, pull one up from your Google Customer Reviews.

How Is Google Customer Reviews Different From Google Product Ratings?

Another Google program you can participate in is the Google Product Ratings program.

Participating in Google Product Ratings allows you to collect customer reviews on the products you sell. Like customer reviews, the product reviews’ results are aggregated and can be used across other marketing platforms like Google Search and Shopping Ads.

Example of Google Product Ratings, which is similar to Google Customer Reviews. These are meant to rate how satisfied a customer is with a product.

The main difference is that product ratings are not a reflection of your business. Instead, they reflect how satisfied customers are with the product.

As you’ve already seen, customer reviews are a rating of your customers’ overall experience with your brand. This can take into account the product (and its ratings), shipping, and customer service, among many other factors.

To put it simply, product ratings help other customers pick quality products, while customer reviews help other customers choose reputable sellers.

Product ratings and customer reviews are two different programs. However, you can edit your Google Customer Reviews code snippet to include certain products, so your customers can rate them in the same survey.

What to Do When You Get Negative Google Customer Reviews

Negative reviews are inevitable in business. There will always be a customer or two who are not satisfied with their experience with your brand. Legitimate or not, these negative comments can impact your business.

What do you do when you get a negative Google customer review?

First of all, don’t ignore the review. While you must respond to all reviews posted, negative reviews must be handled with extra care. That means:

Respond Quickly

Don’t let a negative review sit unanswered for a long time. Doing so results in everyone who reads the review either believing it or drawing a conclusion. Both can be harmful to your business.

Before you rush to respond, however, make sure to assess the feedback your customer has left. Use it to come up with a positive and helpful response.

Respond Carefully

When you respond, make sure to personalize the response by mentioning their name and the product they purchased.

It’s also crucial that you don’t turn a negative review into a debate or finger-pointing battle. Instead, thank the reviewer for taking the time to offer their feedback.

Also, make sure to apologize for the negative experience. By accepting the blame, your customers will see there’s an empathetic human behind your brand.

Move the Conversation Offline

Another vital step to dealing with a negative review is to ask the reviewer to get in touch with your customer support department. Moving the conversation from the Google Customer Reviews platform can help you take care of the customer’s gripe in a better environment.

It also shows prospective customers that you care about providing the best experience.

Do it well, and they may end up changing their review and leaving a good one. What customers really want is to know that you care about them.

If you can go out of your way to provide a good customer experience (CX), the chances of them becoming loyal to your brand increase.

Offer a Solution

When a customer leaves a negative review, it’s a sign they’re not happy about an aspect of their experience with your brand. Besides just leaving your response, you should offer a solution to rectify the situation. Offering a solution also shows that you truly empathize with the customer.

The way you respond to negative reviews can either make or break your brand. If you do it well, you can reduce customer churn. You can also increase the chances of your customers leaving glowing reviews and becoming your brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

Google Customer Reviews is a great way to boost your brand’s credibility and visibility.

As an e-commerce business, reviews are the lifeblood of your business. Yes, even the negative ones, as you can leverage them to show your brand’s human side.

Take advantage of Google Customer Reviews and give your customers a voice. Doing so will let your customers know that you value them and can also help boost conversions.

What’s your experience with Google Customer Reviews?

The post What Are Google Customer Reviews? appeared first on Neil Patel.

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