Chatbots can provide instant responses in an emergency

In emergency situations, we typically scramble for instant answers to solve the problem at-hand. 

Waiting for a customer service rep to reply to your email could take hours, or days, calling up the help centre could result in a call queue or worse, there’s nobody around to pick-up your call as it’s after office hours and not every business can afford to provide 24/7 phone support.

Chatbots would be able to respond immediately, even though there are hundreds of other people chatting with the bot at the moment, rest assured that you will get a response from the chatbot.

Chatbots can automate repetitive tasks

A lot of time is spent on repetitive tasks on a daily basis such as answering the same question to hundreds or thousands of clients/prospects, qualifying prospects, answering support questions etc. All this can be automated with the use of chatbots, saving precious time for your human resources.

Chatbots help save operation costs

Cut the number of support staff significantly by deploying a support chatbot to handle frequently asked questions, leaving your staff to handle more complex support issues. This will undoubtedly reduce your operation costs in the long run.

Chatbots can provide 24/7 Service for your business without increasing headcount

The beauty of deploying chatbots for your business is that they can function 24/7 without the need to increase headcount nor payout insane amounts of overtime compensation. 

This allows you to capture leads from an international market with varying time zones as well as keep your workforce to a minimum.

Chatbots can be a new business communication channel

Messaging apps are gaining popularity, as such chatbots deployed on popular messaging platforms can serve as your new business communication channel. You can reach new segments of users that was otherwise out of reach due to resource and manpower limitations.

Chatbots are more interactive, increasing completion rates for feedback and surveys

Humans are interactive creatures; it is no wonder we find filling up forms to be boring tasks. Taking a different approach, chatbots can make feedback and surveys interactive, lowering the guard on respondents. 

People tend to answer more questions when they feel comfortable and let their guard down, chatbots can achieve this level of interactivity traditional web forms are not able to.

Chatbots can help first-time and returning visitors find the content they’re looking for more directly

It can be frustrating to search for information on a website. Chatbots are able to assist first-time and returning visitors to find what they’re looking for more directly by asking. 

This will not only increase user experience but also conversion rates.

Chatbots can help qualify leads from inbound traffic

Lead qualification is a tedious and time-consuming task, often requiring sales agents to repeat the same questions over and over again. 

Chatbots are able to automate this process, freeing up your sales agent's time to focus on closing more sales.

Chatbots can build long-lasting customer relationships and have close conversations with customers at scale

Let’s face it, there’s never enough resources and manpower to attend to each and every customer. The end result? Some customers will feel neglected or outright feel that your customer services sucks.

Chatbots are able to provide the much needed customer service and build better relationships with your customers as chatbots do not ignore anyone and are able to have close conversations with multiple customers at the same time.

Chatbots have higher engagement rates compared to email open rates

Customer journeys are not only important, they are often overlooked by business owners. It determines the overall experience customers have with your business and leaves a lasting impression on them.

Imagine how would you feel if you tried to reach out to a live chat agent but was put on hold for hours, after that just to find out that the agent doesn’t have the answer you are looking for and directs you to email the next level of support. 

A good guess would be frustration, disappointment and finally giving up.

Using well programmed chatbots, the customer journey can be a lot more pleasant with instant responses from your bot which answers most of the basic questions, only redirecting customers to a human support staff then needed.

The result? A happy and satisfied customer who will be an ambassador for your business at no extra cost.

Chatbots have higher engagement rates compared to email open rates

Do you receive tons of email daily? I do, there are so many promotional emails in my inbox but I never open them. 

This is the reality of email marketing today, it’s still a primary communication channel, but it is very difficult to get someone to open your email (this is a topic for a separate discussion).

Chatbots on the other hand are better received, as it engages the audience directly in conversation. Conversation is the heart of human communication, as such it is way easier to get someone to respond to a direct message than replying to an email.

Have you just taken on a digital marketing role and are tasked to promote the company's brand, market all available products and build a community on social media? Or perhaps you are a solopreneur and are the one-man army of your business.  

No matter which situation you are in, digital marketing is a great way to reach your target audience in a timely manner. If you are equipped with the knowledge of online marketing, you can grow your business and create happy customers rapidly. However, there are 7 deadly sins that marketers make that halt their success. Digital marketing is a broad subject and it can get overwhelming, so it's important to know what the common pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

What are the 7 Deadly Sins of Digital Marketing? 

Below we highlight the 7 sins and relate them to the most common mistakes in digital marketing. Avoiding them can help to grow your business, however ignoring them can prove detrimental as we will see below.

Digital Marketing Sin 1: Lust - A thirst for success without strategy   

The sin of lust in digital marketing is not a sin of the flesh, but instead a hunger for success without having a strategy. It is the desire to be successful with any means possible, even if it requires bending some rules.

It is wanting to be good at digital marketing and advertising without even knowing the basics of how they work, nor taking the time or effort to actually become competent at them.

The natural human desire for success and achievement can be dangerous. If left unchecked, it can make you lust for success. You want your business to grow and to be seen as a success. The dilemma comes when you forget to put a strategy in place to get yourself there. 

You may be able to achieve great things, but if you don’t have a strategy in place, then you’ll never be able to sustain it. You can’t just want success. You have to work for it. You have to have a plan and achieve success one step at a time. 

The easiest way to overcome this sin is to have a well thought out marketing strategy that aligns with the company's business plan. Break down your strategy into smaller tasks that are executable and manageable. Then work through the tasks and make sure you complete each of them successfully. Each small success will eventually accumulate into the success of your master strategy.

Digital Marketing Sin 2: Envy - Comparing yourself to others

It's hard for marketers to resist the urge of comparing themselves with others. With social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, it is much easier than ever before to see what everyone else is doing.

Hence, marketers often succumb to envy as they compare their efforts, failures and success with others. You may feel anger and resentment when you see a competitor do well, or when someone else does something better than you. Envy is a negative form of competition that will eventually pull you down and break your confidence if you are not strong enough.

Envy can be a pretty big sin for some businesses, but a small one for others. Many businesses are in the same funnel and industry, so it’s only natural to want to compare yourself to your competitors. 

However, you should never compare the size of your business to the size of your competitors. This is usually not a valid comparison and will cause you to make assumptions about your business that aren’t necessarily true. 

Here are a few ways that you can overcome this digital marketing sin of envy:

Digital Marketing Sin 3: Gluttony - Focusing on quantity instead of quality 

There's a common problem among small-medium enterprises - the lack of understanding of the power of content. They either do not publish any content at all or try to publish as much content as possible. The temptation to get as much content as possible published is strong. But, quantity does not equal quality.

Trying to cover all topics and keywords in your content with very little or no focus will lead to content that is less than useful to your target audience. Instead, try to focus on publishing a few pieces of high-quality content, rather than a bunch of mediocre ones. Also, keep in mind that posting to social media does not equate to reaching a large audience. If your content holds no value for your target audience, then it will in turn attract no one.

Successful businesses know the importance of quality over quantity. Only publish content when it is necessary to satisfy customer needs or answer burning questions. You should not publish an article just because you feel pressured by your peers or just because it is deemed as marketing. 

You can easily overcome the digital marketing sin of gluttony by focusing on quality instead of quantity. Publishing quality content can help you business succeed for the following reasons:

Digital Marketing Sin 4: Greed - Expecting quick and immediate results   

The rise of digital marketing has given rise to more greed today. More and more people are expecting to see quick and immediate results from digital marketing. People have become impatient and as a result greedy for instant results.

As a result, many marketers would move on to the next thing if they did not see immediate results. They just couldn't stick to a plan or strategy long enough for it to bear the fruits of their labor. 

Also, many people are jumping into digital marketing to try to cash-in on the trend. This results in a huge drop in quality in digital marketing as you can often find digital marketers who are delivering less than mediocre content. In fact, don't be surprised if you find some digital marketers who don't even know what a keyword or SERP is, much less how SEO works.

The digital marketing industry has completely lost sight of the fact that digital marketing is a process and an art form. Try to avoid this sin by being modest and realistic with your expectations. Take the time to learn the relevant skills and knowledge, and don't ever think that digital marketing can yield immediate success.

Digital marketing takes time to nurture before results can be seen; and just as how a baby needs to learn how to walk before they can run, digital marketers too need to build a strong foundation in digital marketing before being able to generate successful results.

Digital Marketing Sin 5: Sloth - Not willing to learn new things

Digital marketing is very dynamic space that changes quickly. A good digital marketer should always be looking for new ways to expand, and grow their digital marketing knowledge and skills in order to keep up with the frequent changes.

This may mean having to learn new tools, tactics, trends, platforms, and strategies in order to unleash the full potential of digital marketing.

However, there are many situations in life when you don't want to make a change because you're comfortable with what you know, and even if it's not working out for you. The sin of sloth can be fatal for digital marketers who succumb to laziness and unwillingness to learn and upgrade their knowledge.

You can easily overcome this deadly sin by making a self-learning plan, keeping track of your progress and set goals to be met. For example, you could set aside 30 minutes every day for reading up on the latest digital marketing trends to stay abreast of the latest developments in the space.

As and when you find new technology, tools or even a new course, you may then set aside more time to for self-study. It's really a matter of optimizing how you use your time.

Digital Marketing Sin 6: Wrath - A thirst for destruction of your competition       

Sometimes having a great marketing strategy is not enough to give you a competitive edge. You may then succumb to wrath and blame your competitor for your lackluster performance. 

The fact is that you will always have competitors. If you are not able to beat your competitor in the market, it simply means that you are not providing enough value to your market. Thinking of ways to destroy your competition with underhanded tactics will only end in a lose-lose-lose situation for yourself, your competitor and possibly the entire market.

Instead of feeling angry at your failing strategies, or successful competitors, you should take it positively as a challenge that you will overcome. Do not lash out negatively on social media towards your competitor, or publish biased content. This would do more harm than good for yourself and for your company.

Instead, take a deep breath, expel the anger you are feeling and rethink your strategy when your mind is calm. Focus on adding more value to your market, no on destroying your competitors and not only overcome the sin of wrath, but will also emerge successful over time.

Digital Marketing Sin 7: Pride - Thinking you're better than your competition.   

As you start running more digital marketing campaigns that are successful, you can often get too full of yourself and succumb to the sin of pride. You may start thinking that you are better than the rest of your competitors and start losing your edge quickly.

The digital marketing sin of pride is a deadly one because it leads to the assumption that your products or services are better than your competitors'. This false sense of superiority will quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction and eventually failure if left unchecked.

What you should be doing instead is to stay humble and remember that people are not interested in you. It may be hard to swallow, but your customers don't care about you as much as they care about what's in it for them.

In order to overcome the sin of pride, you need to listen to the feedback and then make changes. Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. You have to be tough and you have to be fearless. You need to face up to the truth and make changes when the truth hurts, and you can be damn sure that the truth never fails to hurt.

So, get rid of feelings of self-importance and stop making decisions based on your own desires. Instead, start seeking out solutions that is best for everyone. You will see your business flourish once you rid yourself of pride.

The success of any digital marketing strategy rides on your ability to avoid the above 7 deadly sins of digital marketing. In today's hyper-competitive market, it is easy for anyone to give into any of the deadly sins. 

However, if you can keep your head down and focus on delivering value to your target audience, your brand will stay strong and your customers will keep coming back for more. 

What are your thoughts? Do you notice any of the deadly sins manifesting in your digital marketing efforts? Reach out to us if you require assistance in quelling any uncertainties you have about digital marketing. We are happy to help.

Data storage used to be an expensive aspect of computing. Ten years ago, Terabyte(TB) storage drives were only accessible to the wealthy or huge organizations. But times have changed and now TB storage is practically accessible to everyone at affordable prices.

Over the years there been multiple cloud storage solutions, I still remember when Dropbox first came out, it was a dream come true! Online storage started to extend the physical storage capacity we had on our desktops/laptops. The best part? There's usually a free tier where 5GB to 10GB of free storage accounts were given away, and you could progressively earn more by doing certain tasks such as introducing friends etc. (Note: this was only necessary if you could not afford a paid subscription based account or are too stingy to part with your money monthly for a larger capacity.)

Then slowly more options became available as competitors started to jump in on the bandwagon. We started to see Google Cloud Storage, then Microsoft came out with their OneDrive Storage to name a few bigger players. There are probably hundreds more cloud storage services out in the cloud, some less well known, some have limitations such as cold storage without the ability to share files etc.

Still people used physical storage drives, as it was the low-cost storage solution of choice for many. Compared to having to pay an annual subscription of say $200 for a 1TB cloud drive, physical drives were still more cost effective. However, even though physical storage drives are great and easy to use, but you can't access it from anywhere in the world unless you bring the drive with you.

Also they were vulnerable to getting corrupted and aren't exactly shock resistant if you're carrying them around. Though, to be fair, the newer portable hard drives are a bit more hardy and can take a bump or two, but failure rates are still there.

Now I believe the cost of storage is probably not the biggest issue we face today, but rather it is the ability to sync all the files in one central location where it is easy to access. Raise your hand if you are guilty of having multiple cloud storage accounts with various cloud storage services. The average person would probably have a Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive account in addition to the mess of files and folders on their desktops, laptops, phones, tablets etc...

To date, no cloud storage service provider had ever thought of bringing it all together, syncing the various different online storage accounts into one powerful cloud storage solution. Not until now, yes, today we'd like to introduce you to Publist. We dare say that Publist is the cloud storage solution of the future, and for good reason.

Who is Publist?

The Publist team consists of it's two founders:

Seraph Studios - Publist CEO, Will Haering

Will Haering, CEO and Founder

Will Haering is an entrepreneur, advocate, and developer working to change the way we do work in the cloud. He previously attended Phillips Exeter Academy. He's worked with the Precision Engineering Research Group at MIT, built software at TetraScience, Symphony Commerce, Restocks, and StratoDem Analytics, and volunteered as a founding director at the Project for Better Journalism. He recently worked on simplifying news distribution with Perigraph and is now building a desktop in the cloud at Publist.

Ben Chappell, Head of Growth

Ben Chappell is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and sales person working on changing the way people manage their files. Ben has previously founded a newsletter and chatroom for day traders, worked on a decentralized solution for the carbon trade with Bit-C2 technologies, and has consulted for Synstream Energy, a public mining and natural gas company. Ben is now the Head of Growth at Publist where he aims to show people how to centralize their cloud files and workflows.

Seraph Studios - Publist Chief Growth Officer, Ben Chappel
Seraph Studios - Publist logo

Enter Publist, a cloud desktop storage solution that features file-syncing services to connect all your OneDrive, Google Drive, Drop Box and other cloud storage accounts.

The founders vision for Publist is a window into all your cloud files, bridging your desktop and cloud data.

The end goal of Publist is to become the first universal cloud file system:

Publist's major functions

Cloud Storage Solution for Desktop and Cloud Files

Seraph Studios - Publist storage for desktop or cloud files

The most basic function of Publist is as a cloud storage solution. This is pretty straightforward where you can upload files for archiving to clear up precious hard disk space. It can also serve as your backup drive in case those fragile spinning-discs fail you when you most need them.

The interesting thing about Publist is it allows you to connect to external storage providers such as Amazon S3. Google Cloud Storage, Digital Ocean Spaces, Encrypted Drives, Backblaze B2 are coming soon.

Application connections

Seraph Studios - Publist app connection

Next we come to the main highlight of Publist, connecting and syncing to third party apps. As of this writing, they have a pretty good selection of apps which you can connect to which include the following:

Seraph Studios - Publist app connection

Besides the 12 available apps which you can connect to currently, they have an even more extensive list of apps that will be added in the near future. Among these apps are the following:

Seraph Studios - Publist app connection
Seraph Studios - Publist app connection
Seraph Studios - Publist app connection

Syncing files between applications

The whole idea of Publist was to help people organize their files and folders from various sources in one central location. As we've seen above, this is achievable with the many apps which can be connected and synced with Publist. Seriously this cloud storage solution can only get more powerful once more integrations are made available. As it is now, it is already very powerful, allowing you to connect to major cloud drives such as OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.

Hyper-Collaborative Apps Suite

Seraph Studios - Publist hyper collaborative apps

Other than the various file-syncing services and cloud storage services provided by Publist, there is also a Hyper-Collaborative Apps Suite that is akin to Microsoft's 365 Office Apps and Google Docs. The suite consists of:

Data Visualization

Seraph Studios - Publist data visualization

In addition to the awesome apps listed above, you will also be able to use Publist to visualize various data through a cloud-native file system that allows the storage and analytics of customer data.

This feature may not seem important to most of us but it will definitely come in handy when the need arises, you will how convenient it is to be able to access your data from anywhere in the world at any time.

Our experience with Publist

So we've gone through what Publist is and what can be expected from them in the future. However how does it perform in reality some of you may ask.

We've got you covered there as we will talk a little bit about our experience with Publist so far.

Our experience using the platform so far has been pretty positive. It was easy to setup and connect external cloud storage services we have such as OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.

It's also fairly easy and straightforward to copy or link files and folders from say OneDrive over to your Publist drive. The implementation may not be perfect yet but the founders are making improvements on a daily basis.

For example, when we first started on the platform about two weeks ago there was no option to copy or link your files and folders, and it was just copy by default. However, after feedback from the community, the feature to just link was added in a few days time.

Customer support is also responsive as responses are received fairly quickly for a startup and the founders themselves are answering the questions at the moment.

It's also comforting to know that they are backed up by venture capitalists, which means they have money to keep them going for the long term.

The best part is they are having an offer over on Pitchground now with a Life Time Deal you can't resist.

If you'd like to find out more about the Publist deal then you may visit the Publist deal page on Pitchground, the deal won't last forever so best to grab them while they're available to avoid unnecessary regret once it is over.

If all the functions and features don't interest you, it is still well worth the money to have a life time online storage solution compared to having to pay monthly subscriptions for a cloud storage drive.

You can also check out their roadmap to understand more on where Publist is headed and what to expect next.

We hope you found this review to be helpful and informative. Do share it to people whom you think may benefit from this review. Until the next one.

Email has been around for decades. Even with the emergence of other communication channels such as direct messengers, mobile messengers etc. email remains relevant and an important communication tool for business.

Email is usually the primary channel businesses communicate with their customers. This makes email a big deal. This also means that you should not skimp when looking for a reliable professional email hosting solution for your business.

However, reality is always different from ideal situations and many businesses today still rely on FREE email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail) to run their business.

There can be many reasons for this. Some business owners are just not tech savvy and all they know are the big three email providers mentioned above.

Some business owners use FREE email accounts to try to save costs and maximize profits.

There are serious drawbacks to using FREE email accounts for your business. We will be looking at 7 ways FREE email accounts can hurt your business below.

FREE email accounts...

1) Makes your business look cheap

Let's take a step back and talk about how you feel when you receive an email from a business trying to sell you something, but you noticed that they're using a FREE email address. How did that make you feel about the business?

Now we can't represent your thoughts and feelings. However, every time we receive an email from a business that's trying to pitch products and services to us, and we see that they are using a FREE email address... We instantly feel that this business is CHEAP and may not even be serious about their business.

The thing is, FREE email addresses do not have any brand representation. We'd dare say that if we sent you an email using a FREE email address you'd probably think the same about us as well.

2) Hurts your business credibility

As we mentioned above, FREE email addresses make your business look cheap. The problem runs deeper than just that, FREE email addresses can really hurt your business credibility.

First off, anyone can sign up for a FREE email address. There's no authenticity linked between your business, and a FREE email address, meaning your credibility in the receivers books goes way down.

FREE email addresses may be a dime a dozen, but prospects and leads cost a lot more. If you're pitching to cold leads, you can be sure that you only have one chance at projecting a professional image to them.

Don't ruin your first impression and jeopardize the credibility of your business by using a FREE email address. Get a domain for your business, and host your email and you can be sure to increase your business credibility.

3) Gets mistaken for spam

Businesses receive hundreds if not thousands of emails a day. Decision makers do not have the time to go through each and every email they receive on a daily basis.

Now imagine you received two emails, one from [email protected] and another from [email protected]

Which email are you more likely to trust? Which email are you more likely to mistake as spam?

That's assuming the email from [email protected] even gets to the inbox. When you use a free email domain to send marketing emails, you run the risk of having deliver-ability issues.

There is a high chance that your emails will get stuck in a spam filter, and spam filters are a significant concern for email marketing.

So not only do you run the risk of your target audience mistaking your email as spam.

You also have a higher risk of being filtered by the email server's spam filter as spam and never get to the inbox in the first place!

The best way to avoid your email from being mistaken as spam is to get a domain for your email and use a professional email hosting solution.

That way not only does your email look professional, you will also inspire confidence in your target audience to open and read your message.

4) Has lower open rates

As we have discussed above, FREE email addresses tend to be mistaken for spam. This literally translates to it having lower open rates.

Think about it, if you thought it was spam, would you even bother to open the email? You'd be hard-pressed to just hit the delete button instantly.

Campaign monitor reports an average open rate of 17.92% in 2019 for all industries.

Below is a breakdown of some email related statistics such as open rates and bounce rates by industry averages. As we can see, the odds are not exactly in the senders favor. So don't further lower your chances of reaching out to prospects by using a FREE email account.

Seraph Studios - 7 ways FREE email accounts can hurt your business

5) Low deliver-ability

When you use a FREE email account, you are using a domain which you don't own. As such you have no control over the deliver-ability policies of your email.

Usually FREE email accounts are meant for personal use and not business use. If you plan on sending mass marketing mailers to your contact list then you are likely to be flagged as spam by the email provider.

So if you're planning to do mass mailing and don't want to ruin the chances of your marketing content reaching your audience, then use a professional email address. You will find that it will be worth every penny you spend.

6) Easy targets for hackers

Cyber security is becoming an increasing concern as we see more data breaches to large corporations with huge databases.

Yahoo! experienced a major data breach in 2014 which affected the account information of around 500 million users. The stolen information included email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, passwords, security questions and answers. The kicker, Yahoo! didn't know about it until 2016 when they started investigating this major cyber attack together with law enforcement officers.

In a more recent data breach in 2015, popular FREE email services were hacked and over 270 million accounts were stolen. This included a majority of users of popular Russian email service Mail.ru as well as users of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft email service were affected.

Hackers are more likely to target large corporations and FREE email services such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. This makes the hackers efforts more worthwhile compared to hacking a small organization's email server which would have a significantly smaller database.

There's a reason why large corporations are so adamant about cyber security. It would serve your business well if you subscribed to a professional email service which is not part of these large databases. Professional email hosting also boasts better security and support.

7) Lack privacy and support

You may have noticed how personalized ads are these days.

What you may not know is that FREE email providers scan your email accounts in order to gather personal data about yourself and serve up personalized ads to you.

It may sound outrageous but it's true and it's happening. If you care about the privacy of your emails, then you should not be using FREE email services in the first place.

Also, you do not get any support from the FREE email providers should you run into technical difficulties. You are left to troubleshoot any issues that may come up, and we all know that as a small business owner, you already have your hands full.

When you use a professional email hosting service, you are not only paying for the email account, you are also paying for technical support. That in itself will give you one less item to worry about in your business.

Your best solution... Professional Email Hosting

Remember that you get what you pay for, and when it comes to FREE services, you get nothing in terms of support. It also comes with all the drawbacks that can potentially hurt your business badly.

There are other options for email hosting for your business besides the FREE providers. If you would like to have professional email hosting for your business then don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are able to help you with your professional email hosting needs.

Please give us a call at +60 10 657 6688 or contact us via email for a FREE Consultation session. We look forward to helping you have a safe and professional business email hosting service.

Google's latest update on its 'How-to' structured data markup is worth taking note of if you produce lots of 'How-to' content.

Learn how to leverage Google's latest guidelines to it's 'How-to' structured data markup to avoid some common mistakes and make your page eligible to appear as a rich result in Google search.

You may be puzzled and ask what is this 'how-to' structured data? Well it is one of the many types of Google Snippets which marks-up your content and tells Google that this piece of content is a 'How-to' article.

The reason you'd want to have rich snippets set up properly is because Google has rich results on the search engine results pages (SERPs) which shows more content in unique layouts to suit each type of rich result.

In this article we are specifically looking at the 'How-to' structured data as such we will only show how the rich results for it will look like.

Below is an example of how your content may appear in a 'How-to' rich result. This is a basic text based layout and a more visual variant may be displayed if your how-to content contains an image for each step.

Google 'How-to' structured data rich results
Text based How-to rich results

This next example is a how-to page with images for each step. Users are able to see a preview of the how-to with a carousel of images for each step.

Google 'How-to' structured data rich results
Step-by-step How-to rich results

You will need to follow Google's latest guideline to make your page eligible to appear in the SERPs as a rich result.

We have made a summary of what has been added to the new Google guidelines for the 'How-to' structured data below:

Marking Up the 'How-to' Structured Data Steps

Things to avoid when Marking Up Steps

Below are some content guidelines from the updated Google guidelines for quick reference:

*Content guidelines sourced from Google's 'How-'to' guidelines page. View the full Google 'How'to' Markup Guide here.

If you are using WordPress, you can easily setup Google Snippets with the RankMath plugin.

Seraph  Studios - Rankmath Rich Snippets
Rank Math Supported Rich Snippets

Currently RankMath supports multiple types of Rich Snippet Markup which includes the following:

It is unfortunate though that RankMath does not currently support the 'How-to' rich snippet, but after communicating with them, they have confirmed that they will be adding the 'How-to' snippet in the future to RankMath.

So until that happens you will have to do it the 'hard way' if you really need to make use of this snippet.

You can download the RankMath plugin directly from their website or install it right from your WordPress Dashboard. Just go to Plugins > Add New and type in RankMath in the search bar and search for the plugin.

That's all for this simple guide on using the Google 'How-to' structured data, we hope you've found it useful. Do follow us on social media to get more information and sharing on digital marketing, seo, and web design.

Six more months and it will be the year 2020, a year of vision for Malaysia that has been promoted decades ago. Technology has advanced so much that the world is a much smaller place today, with the Internet almost everyone is connected in some way online.

Seeing all the advancement in technology, with modern businesses all going the digital route with their online presence and digital marketing campaigns, and yet some businesses are still resistant to change. Often giving reasons such as not having the budget or that they are unsure of the ROI should do invest in this virtual channel.

These businesses, for lack of a better description, are destined to slowly fade out of existence. Unknowingly they will see their sales drop, their customer base stops growing, and eventually they come to the conclusion to shutdown their business entirely as it is no longer sustainable.

Are you one of those business owners, who resist change or are unwilling to invest in a new technology, a channel that is virtual, intangible?

I hope you are not one of the 'fade outs', and if I are, we hope you finish reading this article, for it may very well change your perception towards digital marketing and save your business.

In this article I will discuss what you will need in order to build yourself an evergreen digital marketing funnel with minimum cost.

The five major components you will need to build this evergreen digital marketing funnel are:

Let's take a closer look at each component below.

Seraph Studios - Evergreen Digital Marketing Funnel

Website

Digital Marketing is the future of marketing. However many rely on third party platforms to build their marketing funnel. Often times businesses rely on Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Instagram, Pinterest and other social platforms as their main online presence.

While having a presence on social media is great, it is definitely not ideal. It is never a good idea to build your main web presence on a third party platform where you have no control of it's development, direction and policies.

Seraph Studios - Dead social networks

Look at the past greats in social media, Friendster, MySpace, which were once high performing social networks that brought much success to those who managed to leverage the platform.

However, years of effort building up traffic and audience has gone up in flames and if your business was relying 100% on those networks, then your business is as good as toast once the platform loses popularity or shuts down.

Many argue that Facebook is not going anywhere anytime soon, yes we would agree with that statement as well. However we are unable to predict how much longer it will stay relevant. There are tons of newer social platforms being introduced, and while one platform may appeal to a specific generation, the next generation may shun it.

Did you know that Facebook is now considered a social network for old folks? Namely those who are 30 years old and above, Gen Z are not into Facebook, but rather they prefer platforms like Snapchat, Instagram.

So unless you are prepared to put in 10 times the effort to build your audience and following on 10 different social networks, you're better off leveraging these 10 different networks and converge all the traffic into a business website.

A business website is a virtual asset which you own and have full control of, Mark Zuckerberg will not be able to one day come up to you and cut half of your traffic or views just because he introduced a new algorithm.

Look at the changes on Facebook over the past few years and you know what I'm talking about, post views on Facebook Pages have dramatically dropped. The reason? Facebook wants to show more relevant content that are related to your friends and family to it's audience instead of business posts.

This is understandable, as Facebook is looking after their users who are on the platform to socialize and interact with their friends and family, not being bombarded with sales messages. From another perspective, Facebook is also trying to encourage more businesses to use their Ads platform, which is their main income.

Now think about it this way, had you been spending the past 5 years channeling traffic from your Facebook Page over to your business website, guess what, you own that traffic today, and are not at the mercy of Facebook.

All is not lost yet, as it is still possible to to leverage social media to build your site traffic, but you'll have to start now. Get your business website built as soon as possible and start leveraging social media to drive traffic over to your website.

Doing so, you would have built up some significant traffic before any of the current social platforms start to lose its relevance. Once that happens, move on to the next big social platform and leverage its popularity and drive even more traffic to your business site, you only stand to gain more in the long run if you do so.

Relevant and Useful Content

Now that we've understood the importance of having your own business website, you'll need to know how to keep your audience on your site and make them come back for more.

Let's take a step back and look at the reasons why we would visit any website. Is it cause of the design? Or is it cause of the content? Now design does play an important role in instilling confidence and professionalism, but the main reason people visit websites is for the content.

You may have a favorite blog which you visit often, you're most likely not there just to look at the site's pretty layout over and over again. No! You're there for the content because it is relevant and useful to you.

Now that you have your business website setup, to attract and retain people's interest in your site, you will have to put out relevant and useful content. Think about what your audience, leads, and customers might be interested in, each segment will have different interests and will be looking for different types of content depending on which stage of the funnel they're currently at.

There are various versions of the marketing funnel, but the core is always the same, as such we'll be using a simplified version here for easier understanding.

Seraph Studios - Digital Marketing Funnel

Awareness

The awareness stage is when a prospect discovers your brand or business. They are not familiar with your business, and probably found you through word of mouth or search engine. They're exploring, trying their luck to see what they find.

Your content at this stage should not be sales oriented, instead it should match what your target audience will search online. You will need to match your content with their search intent and create buzz and authority in your niche.

The types of content you could use for this stage of the funnel are:

Consideration

Now that you have your audience's attention, and they're considering your brand, you will need to engage with them and provide more value to them. Don't expect a high level of commitment yet from this stage of the funnel, instead use content like

The key here is to engage with prospects more closely and try to get their contact information. This will enable you to follow up with them later and finally convert them into paying customers.

Intent

In this stage of the funnel, the intent of the prospect will be made much clearer. If they are genuinely interested in your offer then a little nudge may be all it takes to convert them into paying customers.

As such you need to make a strong case for why your product or service is the best choice for the prospect. Reiterate and reinforce their intent with:

Conversion

Seraph Studios - Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a crucial and exciting stage in the funnel. Here the prospect is ready to make the purchase and convert, it's time for you to make the right hook (as Gary Vee would say).

Persuasive content is needed in this crucial stage, content which can speak directly about your offer to the prospect about the benefits of owning your product/service.

For this purpose you may incorporate the following content:

Loyalty

The battle is over, you have converted your prospect into a customer, everyone lives happily ever after. But wait, there's always the next product or service you would like to sell them, Your business still needs continuous income right?

As such you would need to nurture loyalty in your customers. You can do this by providing continuous support, keep them informed about your new offerings, latest promotions and of course a knowledge-base of how to use, troubleshoot and maintain their product/service.

You may nurture customer loyalty by using the following content:

Advocacy

What's next after you've nurtured a loyal following of customers? They'll become your most powerful marketing tool, for happy customers will become advocates for your brand and business.

Transform these loyal customers into evangelists, ask them for a review, a testimonial, you would be surprised at the power of influence a testimonial has when it come to purchase decisions.

What you can offer at this stage are:

Now that you know what types of content your should put out for what type of audience, let's look at how you can optimize the content for search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO has been preached by digital marketers for decades, does it work? Or is it myth? You can be sure that it works, however it doesn't bring you instant results. Usually requiring anywhere from 3 - 6 months or more for actual results to start showing, this is the most crucial component if your end goal is to have an evergreen digital marketing funnel.

Search Engine Optimization is basically optimizing your written content to search engines. Making sure you have a nice spread of keywords, proper use of header tags and as of today, making sure that your content is relevant to your title and chosen keywords.

Gone are the days where you could just keyword stuff your content and rank high in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

There are various areas to SEO, which we will cover in another article, but for now you need to make sure your content is:

If you get it right and coupled with some evergreen content and you can be sure traffic will keep flowing to your site in the long term.

Content Promotion

Seraph Studios - Neil Patel
Neil Patel

Lately Neil Patel has changed his stance on content, instead of saying content is King, he now advocates content promotion over putting out tons of content.

However it all depends on the stage you are in with your business, if you have just started and barely have any content on your website, then what content are you going to promote? You very well can't be posting the same article daily for the next three months.

Once you have reached the level that Neil is at, with thousands of content on his site, then it would make sense to shift gears and concentrate more on content promotion.

That's not to say you should ignore content promotion altogether, in fact, do them simultaneously. Continue to put out good, relevant and useful content and promote them as you publish. Keep the momentum up, build up your library of content, once you have enough, you can ramp up your promotional efforts.

Social Media Promotion

Go where the people are, that's the standard mantra of marketers. Guess what, social networks are where the people are at currently. Pick the networks that most suit your purpose, and target audience and start promoting your content, products and services.

Be sure to engage with your followers and provide a good experience to them, continue to post good, relevant and useful content to the community, and they will come back with their friends.

Concentrate on one or two social networks that you think are most relevant for your business, and slowly go from there, build up your community and be attentive to new upcoming social networks. Be ready to move when your audience moves, if you've grown over time and have more resources and bandwidth then be sure to open up another new network, the key is to be in as many places as you possibly can.

I hope that you found this strategy useful, I find it the best bet you can have if you're short on budget and still wish to get your feet wet in digital marketing. In fact you should just jump on the digital marketing bandwagon right now, it will definitely take time and effort, but that's in exchange of the tons of money you will be saving.

Finally, reading and watching videos alone will not bring you results, take action today. Start building your website and implementing your marketing funnel. Start writing content, register for social media accounts for your business. If you need help for any step of this funnel, be sure to hit us up and schedule a FREE consultation session with our expert team, we are ready to help you achieve success.

Seraph Studios is a trusted boutique web design and digital marketing agency based in Penang, Malaysia.
We specialise in building beautiful, functional websites for businesses with elegant design and data-driven search engine optimization (SEO) to significantly drive visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Come with us on a digital marketing journey like you've never had before and achieve business success.
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