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Google Analytics

As I mention in all of my WebWiz@rd training sessions here at REM, it is really important to get a Google Analytics account. Not only for the HTML code that you get to add to your site for better SEO, but the even more important aspect of utilizing it for keyword searches. It’s the keyword relevance that draws in the qualified traffic to your website. So, in order to bring this highly qualified traffic to your site, you need to develop a better understanding of keywords.

 

That’s where Analytics comes into play. Google’s Keyword Tool, with its huge database of keywords in over 50 languages, is a great place to start. You can even enter a phrase that describes your website right in Google to get a sense of traffic. But before you do that, let’s utilize your Google Analytics account to conduct the research.

 

Google Analytics allows us to see all of the relevant data in an easy to read format. It’s almost like having the answers to a test before we write it. The entire “keywords” section is devoted to providing the keywords people used to find our website, how many visits from the keyword, how much revenue that keyword generated, the bounce rate and so much more! This is very informative data to have before you start investing time and effort into organic and paid searches.

 

Remember, we want to bring qualified traffic to your site. SEO experts follow a basic thumb rule for choosing keywords that bring the most relevant, revenue-adding traffic to your website. Here are a few considerations:

 

  • Phrases are better than singular words.
  • Target highly searched terms that have as little competition as possible. However, do not use keywords that have less competition just for this reason alone.
  • Choose keywords that are specific with a narrow focus but you don’t want to be too specific that you start to lose traffic.
  • Localize your keywords by making use of your geographical location (Web Design Kitchener Waterloo).

 

Remember, you will want to get the most of out of your keywords when you begin to optimize. That means including them in obvious places on your web site (Meta Tags) in order to achieve high keyword density, frequency and prominence.

 

Without having a good place to start, choosing keywords can quickly become mind boggling given there can be literally millions of keywords to choose from. Besides, choosing the wrong keywords can be disastrous and set you back months if you are optimizing your site for organic search. For that reason alone, is worth the time and research using Analytics.

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Why You Should Be Using Social Media Tools

Social media is crucial to your business’ marketing success. It can be a great source to bring traffic to your website. But it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain. Thankfully, there are many social media tools out there that can help you. If you’re still wondering what the benefits of social media tools are and how they help your marketing strategy, read on:

 

Save Time

 

Social media tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite help you consolidate your social media postings by being able to post on multiple accounts at once. You’ll no longer have to go from social media platform to the next posting on each one, with these tools you’ll be able to write your post once and post across several platforms.

 

Plan Ahead

 

With social media tools, you’ll be able to get an overview of all your past and future post. This helps you develop a social media calendar tied to your blog calendar, and plan your posts ahead to make sure you’re talking about all your company’s important topics.

 

Analyze Performance

 

Asides from saving time and planning ahead, social media tools will provide helpful analytics, such as your best performing posts, engagement and best time to post. You’ll see which posts people drove the most traffic to your website and what topics you should cover more. By analyzing your posts’ performance, you’ll be a social media rock star in no time.

 

Social media tools are a great asset to drive traffic to your website. But then it’s your website’s job to maintain your audience’s interest. Do you need a great website that gets noticed? Contact us today!

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My Approach to Training

I have been training REM clients since I started almost 5 years ago.  In the height of my training days, I used to train clients 2-3 times a week.  When I was promoted to Account Manager/Project Manager the number of training sessions that I led became less frequent.  Now my training is limited to new REM employees and our clients if our primary support staff are on holidays or unavailable.

 

I enjoy teaching our different tools and I have become an effective trainer during my time at REM.

 

Here are some general rules that I follow in my approach to training.

 

I Come Prepared

I make sure that I understand the tools that I am teaching.  If I were to second guess myself or fumble over my explanations, I could very easily confuse the person that I am training.  I could also make myself, and the company, look foolish if I were underprepared.  I take the time to learn the tools that I am teaching inside and out.  Being prepared allows me to speak confidently and answer any questions that I am asked.

 

I Keep on Track

Quite often our clients will begin to ask questions that start to lead the training down a different path.  Although I encourage our clients to ask questions, I recognize that answering their questions right away isn’t always the best approach.  In many cases the questions that are asked will be discussed at a later time, so in the interest of keeping the training organized, I will acknowledge the clients question and let them know that it will be answered at a later point. This allows everyone to stay focused and on schedule.

 

I Listen

This may seem like a no-brainer but it is imperative that I actively listen to the individuals that I am training.  I listen to what they are saying so that I can correctly address their questions and concerns.

 

I Am Patient

Yes, training sessions need to keep moving but I also need to give our clients a reasonable amount of time to jot down notes, look at the examples that I am providing and allow them to see what buttons I am clicking as I navigate through the system that I am showing them.  When I train a client, it is typically the first time that they have ever seen the tools that I am showing them, so I slow down a bit so that they can absorb what I am teaching them.

 

I Provide Training Documentation

The documentation that we provide at REM for training is limited.  We provide a small synopsis of what will be covered but we do not provide step by step instructions.  We do this for a few reasons but the biggest reason is that we want our clients to be paying attention to us, the trainers, not reading along to a lengthy “how to” document.  The documentation that I hand out allows our clients to add their own notes on the points that are important to them and forces them to become a more engaged listener.

 

I Am Ready to Explain a Process Multiple Times and in Different Ways

A set of instructions that I give to one client may not resonate with the next.  I must be prepared to explain and show processes more than once and in many cases, in different ways.  Sometimes this means that I simply walk through the process again and sometimes I am required to explain the process in an alternative way, such as using different terminology.

 

I strive to lead training sessions that are relaxed and informative.  I want our clients to leave my training sessions feeling comfortable with what I have shown them and empowered that they can use our tools with minimal, to no assistance.  I believe that I am able to accomplish this by following my self-imposed rules listed above.

 

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How Automation Tools Can Improve Your Social Media Efforts

If you ask a small business person why they are not active on social media, the answer is typically that it is too time-consuming. If you are running almost any business, from a construction company to a law firm, your time is too valuable to spend posting and tweeting. However, the benefits of having a substantial social media footprint are extremely valuable for growing your business. Chances are, your clients are seeking information on social media before making a decision. Consumers want to evaluate what people are saying about you, and how you engage online. Short of hiring an agency to handle your social media efforts, what can a busy business person do? The answer is using automation tools.

 

However, this is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Automation tools empower a small business to share and curate content on social media, leaving you with time to authentically engage with customer questions and feedback. The increase of smartphones and mobile device use, and what Google calls micro-moments, has created the expectation that companies are connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Automation tools will give your prospects and customers the impression that someone is manning the store, even when your schedule has you out of the office.

 

Moreover, effective social media marketing requires consistency. If you are posting on Facebook or Twitter, here and there, once or twice a month, you are not getting the attention you deserve. Statistic Brain reports there are 58 million tweets per day. Online users are bombarded with content all day long as companies try to get their attention. This means if your message is not seen by your target audience within about 15 minutes, the organic benefit disappears and you will need to use paid social media promotion.

 

Regardless, there are some things a business should not do using automation.

 

  1. Private or Direct Messaging - Social media users interpret marketing messages through private or direct messaging as spam. This is the fastest way to get users to stop following you or block you out.
  2. Non-personalized Posts - Your social media content should focus on all consumers, at every stage of the customer life-cycle. Social media is not just about attracting new business, but also maintaining customer relationships.
  3. Overlooking Analytics - You need to know what is working and what is not, and when are the best time to schedule posts. There is a lot of information available about the best times to post, but every company and industry are different.
  4. Not Reading Curated Content - Many social media automation tools empower you to share the content of others. Curated content is an effective way to enhance your own content. However, know what is getting posted under your name.

Ultimately, social media automation tools will free you from your computer. You can effectively manage your time, while still effectively engaging with prospects and customers. 

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Three Social Media Tools to Grow your Business

Social media is a great way to draw more clients to your business. Here are some ways you leverage the power of specific social media tools to grow your brand's visibility.

  1. Facebook. So many Americans have Facebook now that it is almost surprising to meet one who does not. Users have access to their accounts on their computers as well as their phones. Facebook allows businesses to set up free accounts that they can post to as often as they want to. Your customers can "like" your page, and then when they open up their Facebook pages, they will see what you've posted in their timelines. This is a great way to advertise sales, specials, new products, or simply stay visible, for free. You can also pay Facebook from time to time to boost a post, ensuring its visibility to more people. Facebook also offers a platform for customers to interact with you by responding to your posts and sending messages via the chat feature.
  2. Instagram. Instagram is a very popular social media tool primarily accessed through smartphones. With Instagram, you can post photos of products or other visuals that represent your brand. As customers scroll through their Instagram feeds, they will come across your posts and find out about special promotions or products you want to highlight. They can also like the photos, and keeping track of how many likes each photo gets will provide you with valuable data about your customers' preferences.
  3. Pinterest. Pinterest allows you to create custom "boards" that are like electronic scrapbooks. You can create boards that go with categories that correspond to different facets of your business, and post links on them that customers might be interested in. Customers can view your Pinterest page and get ideas for how to use your products, share your pins with others who might also be interested, and learn more about your business in general. Don't be afraid to branch out a bit with your boards, because you can create lots of different ones. For example, if you are a shop that sells wedding dresses, it would be fun to create a board of local places to have lunch before or after the bride and her friends try on dresses, or one for different trends in manicures or shoes. If you run a car dealership, you might want to create a board with some local day trips to inspire people to get a new set of wheels!

Social media is free, effective, and fun! We would love to help guide you further into setting up your business's social media presence. Contact us today!

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What I learned at REM

As a student in grade 9 at Sir. John. A. MacDonald secondary school, I have been given the opportunity to accompany my father to his place of work at REM Web Solutions. During my visit at REM today, I learned about what he does and how it’s done.

 

As the Customer Success Manager, he oversees Tier 1 support issues and WebWiz@rd training for all of REM’s customers.

 

While spending the day at REM I have learned a few things. I learned about WebWiz@rd modules, and how to use them. Within those modules I learned how to make banners for a website, how to edit the gallery as well as add images to it, and all about form builder. I learned how to add an administrator, and about file manager. Aside from modules I also learned about emails and how to deal with them and I learned about bug reports and how to file them. REM is an interesting place, that includes a foosball table, vintage video games, Frisbee, Bocce ball, a full kitchen, and an awesome and fun staff. After spending the work day here, it has opened my eyes to new possibilities for potential jobs in the future. It has been loads of fun and very educational, and wish to return in the future to learn a bit more about all of the other exciting positions here at REM.

 

Thanks to Rob Matlow the President of REM Web Solutions for allowing me to spend the day with him and his team.

 

Kyrie Hannigan ;)

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Active Listening

Active Listening makes you a better communicator

 

The best sales people in the world listen 80% of the time and only speak 20%. So what is that telling the rest of us? We really need to become better communicators and here are some things you need to know in order to become an active listener and thus a better communicator.

 

First thing is to pay attention to the speaker. Look them in the eye and let them know they have your undivided attention. Avoid being distracted by things going on around you. Treat them the way you would expect to be treated, their thoughts are just as important as yours. Pay attention to body language, that can sometimes speak louder than words.

 

Secondly, show them that you are paying attention. Make small verbal comments such as “yes” or “uh huh” to let them know that you are actively listening. Use your body language and gestures to express your interest, by nodding occasionally or by using facial expressions.

 

Now you will need to provide feedback to the speaker. Our conjectures, convictions, and attitudes can distort what we hear. As the listener, your role is to process and understand what is being said. This may require you to take time to reflect on what is being said and then ask questions. Paraphrasing is a great way to let the speaker know you have been listening by saying things like, "What I'm hearing is," and "Sounds like you are saying,". Recap the speaker's comments from time to time.

 

Always allow the speaker to finish each point before asking a question or making a statement. Interruptions usually frustrate the speaker and you will not understand the message the speaker is tying to convey.

 

Active listening is about respect and understanding for the speaker. You are gaining information and perspective. You improve nothing by confronting the speaker or otherwise putting the person down. You should be open and honest with the speaker. You can assert your opinions, but do it respectfully.

 

Old habits are hard to break, but with time, determination and attentiveness, you can become a great active listener.

 

Be conscious of your listening by reminding yourself that you are truly wanting to understand what is being said to you. Set aside all other opinions and focus on the message. Ask questions, mull over, and summarize to ensure you fully understand the message being presented to you.

 

Remember we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, we were made to listen twice as much as we speak. Start using active listening techniques today to become the best communicator you can be. Improve every aspect of your life by concentrating on what others are really saying to you. You will develop deeper and better relationships through proper communication. 

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Customer Service

How to Deliver Great Customer Service

 

A widely quoted statistic gets to the heart of the value proposition behind customer service: The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of retaining an existing one. For businesses that succeed by forming a bond with the customer, the disparity is surely even greater.

 

Good customer service is essentially a variation on the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If people believe that they're being remembered and are known to your business, that will have a positive impact on their disposition toward your business.

 

Providing good customer service is often a matter of common sense, but that doesn't mean it comes naturally to everyone. For some, in fact, it means behaving differently than they do in other business situations. If you are used to fighting about every detail of a business deal, you may have to adjust your attitude. The same goes if you feel that selling is a zero-sum game; to win customers, you will sometimes have to make them feel they have won, too. Here are some important steps to help you with great customer service.

 

Caring for Customers

 

Great Customer Service Begins with You


You must lead by example. If you are enthusiastic and courteous, others will want to do the same.

 

A Culture of Customer Service Must Be Codified


Start by hanging on the wall a set of core values, 10 or fewer principles that include customer service ideals. We have seven and they are as follows: Customer Success Comes First, Take Ownership, Think More, Improve Everything, Congratulate the Victory, Persevere, and Customer Success Comes First.

 

Employees Are Customers, too


Companies renowned for their customer service treat employees as they would have their employees treat their customers. Employees take on more responsibility because they know they are appreciated and an important part of the team. People who don't feel like they're part of the bigger picture, who feel like a small cog in a big machine, are not willing to go the extra mile.

 

Not every business can afford to shower staff with generous pay and benefits, but not every business has to. Small companies can show "intense interest" in employees, in their welfare, their families, and their future. It's also important to recognize an employee “publicly” for a job well done. Some companies also offer incentives for exceptional customer service, but if you can't spare the cash, you might throw an office party or offer another token of appreciation.

 

Emphasize the Long Term


Short-term sales incentives can sometimes undermine long-term customer satisfaction. Prevent that by building short-term programs atop an ongoing program that rewards broader improvements. Moreover, winner-take-all incentives can drive a lot of unhealthy competition and disengage the rest of the sales force. You improve sales performance by much greater percentages when you improve the performance of the large group in the middle of the bell curve.

 

Build Trust


Use your customer's name whenever you can. And sometimes you have to give to get. Going the extra mile by showing the customer you care about making them successful, can build a lot of trust.

 

Listen


The best salespeople spend 80 percent of their time listening, not talking. Ask open-ended questions to elicit a customer's needs and wants. Once they've identified what they're looking for, use their words throughout the process, that way, they've sold it for you.

 

Sometimes It's the Little Things That Matter


Small gestures that anticipate customers' needs or attend to their comforts, such as offering a cold glass of water on a hot day or a children's area with toys, go a long way toward winning them over.

 

If You Can't Help a Customer, point to an Establishment That Can


And saying "You might try Smith's, on Main Street" won't make nearly as strong an impression as confirming that Smith's has the item in question and giving directions to their location on Main Street. This is the ultimate in customer service, and guaranteed that customer will be back.

 

Show Your Appreciation


One important element of retaining customers is communication. Personalize the thank-you note after a deal or perhaps a follow-up phone call is also a nice touch.

 

Treat Your Best Customers Better


If your company relies on a relatively small number of clients to provide a disproportionately large share of revenue, it makes sense to devote a disproportionate amount of time and energy to serving them. (Think of airlines and the escalating benefits in their frequent-flier programs.)

 

Resolving Customer Disputes

 

It's bad enough when a customer is unhappy with your product or service. But if the attempt to redress the problem is frustrating or fruitless, it makes matters much worse. A satisfied customer may tell one or two friends about your company, but an angry customer will tell at least 10. Some aggrieved customers can never be placated, but, more often, successful dispute resolution lies with a caring and qualified customer service representative.

Solve the problem when it occurs. Give the people who are the first line of response the authority to resolve problems themselves.

 

Don't greet agitation with agitation. Our first tendency is to match our tone to their tone, but you don't want to do that. If we stay calm, their voice will start coming down, and they'll begin to relax.

 

Here is a helpful hint for resolving a dispute as a five-step process called the Five A's: Acknowledge the problem. Apologize, even if you think you're right. Accept responsibility. Adjust the situation with a negotiation to fix the problem. Assure the customer that you will follow through.

 

Don't forget salesmanship. The skills and techniques of good selling discussed earlier are even more valuable in difficult situations. Address customers by name, and repeat what they've said. Whether you resolve the issue or not, they'll see that you have their best interest in mind.

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Colleague Reviews

I have spent the last 2 weeks working away at writing mid-term reviews for my colleagues.  I have a couple more to wrap up early next week.

 

This is my first time writing reviews.  It is a very time consuming task when one wants to do it well and I want to provide my peers with sincere and helpful reviews.  My colleagues deserve it.

 

While writing these reviews I am so strongly reminded of what an incredible team we have here at REM.

 

The amount of knowledge, initiative and productivity that this team encompasses is brilliant.  Our communication skills, our problem solving skills and our enthusiasm towards process improvement are top notch.

 

Individually and as a team we are a force to be reckoned with!

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Product Testing

Product testing is a crucial part of our project development here at REM.

 

As part of my responsibilities, I am tasked with testing all of our released software.  This includes software for our clients as well as REM’s proprietary programs that are used exclusively by the REM team.

 

I first learned that I was a strong product tester within my first year at REM right after WebWiz@rd 3 was built and before we released it to our clients.  As with any software release, our tools needed to be tested for bugs, inconsistencies, inaccuracies and user experience.  I was asked to test the entire system and report on all of these factors and I did so very effectively. 

 

As a software product tester you must have a strong knowledge of what the software is supposed to do so that you can identify aspects of the tool that are broken or don’t behave as expected.  You can’t be afraid of “breaking” anything.  If you can “break it” there is good chance that your user will be able to break it as well and that must be avoided.  You must have excellent attention to detail and you can’t be in a rush while testing otherwise possible issues may be overlooked.

 

There are multiple reasons why deliberate testing is essential to any successful software release; a positive user experience and data integrity are two incredibly important reasons.

 

I have tested hundreds of tools and systems over the past 4 years.  I have examined systems as substantial as REM's WebWiz@rd and REM's proprietary internal CRM & Project Management System.  These systems take hours to thoroughly test. I have also tested much smaller programs that take only 30-45 minutes to test.  All of the testing that I complete shares equal importance.

 

I am quite proud of my contribution towards REM's hundreds of successful software releases.

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Contributors

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Matt Stern
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March 22, 2017
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