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Digital Technology Featured

Why Conversational AI Becomes A Priority In 2021?

2020 has seen a great boom in the use of chatbots across the industrial sector. Chatbots are full of advantages to provide undeniable experience for customer services. So, conversational AI is an integral part of business practices across all industries.

The role of chatbots is not limited to customer services only. Although they are recommended for customer support. Conversational Bots are helpful to promote marketing and sales activities.

Since chatbots are a small application of conversational AI. Conversational Intelligence has a much wider scope. It compiles the trending technologies and utilizing the mix for variant purposes. Artificial Intelligence has captured a significant share in conversational marketing.

“What” & “Why” paves a path towards the Conversational AI trends for 2021. And, also, to the reason why it is a priority for the major section of the industry.

What Is Conversational AI?

The set of technologies that help simulate the conversational environment is coined as conversational AI. These sets of instructions are used in conjunction with Virtual agents like bots to make them capable of understanding the intent and tone of the words framed together into a sentence and then process a response to the text or voice message and reply in natural ways. Therefore, Conversational AI accommodates the interaction between peoples and complex systems.

Why Conversational AI Is In-Demand?

The systems and processes are getting more complex. Because of the increasing technical demands in the industry. And it gets difficult for the non-technical users to navigate through the complex problems without any expert help. The use of chatbots at the forefront eases the movement of the user when surfing or shopping online. It is a step ahead towards betterment. Customer experience is the priority for the industries now. Hence, the customer experience will be simpler and more intuitive. (Only by replacing the traditional UIs with the conversational dialog boxes).

Why Conversational AI Becomes A Priority In 2021?

1. Manages Dialog Turns & Twists

A normal human conversation is full of uncertainties. Each dialog in conversation is capable of changing the flow of conversation further. Understanding these turning points is the major goal of inducing Natural Language Processing techniques into AI applications. Hence, the Conversational AI concept manages instant pauses, rollbacks, or repetitive conversations. It also provides a fluent hassle-free experience to the users.

2. Context Management

Since we are talking of bots, we can’t be sure that the bot you chatted with a month ago still remembers the highlights. Neither we can be sure it will continue the conversation from the same endpoint. But Conversational AI knows that every conversation has some context involved. And it is also aware that context levies the importance of information. Conversational AI holds the context from past conversations. Because of this, it can resume the conversation from the same endpoint. For example, user information, preferences, queries, etc.

3. Sentiment Analysis

Conversational AI makes bots capable of analyzing the emotion and tone of the conversation by breaking down the sentences/phrases into singular words. Each word or utterance is then further analyzed considering the key triggers, connotations, and placement in the sentence. You can count them as individual metrics that combined together to define the type and intensity of the emotion conveyed through the conversation.

4. Multilingual Support

Conversational AI supports almost every language. Hence, contributing to your business growth by giving you access to understand the intent of individuals across the globe. Online stores can integrate a chatbot that provides multiple language support without any translator. Read more

5. Rapid Industry Adoption

The introduction of chatbots in the commercial industry has captured every sector from marketing promotions to customer support. Automating business processes in certain sectors allows the marketers and owners to focus on the more critical issues that can’t be taken care of under bots for now at least. With Conversational AI, bots are one step ahead of the artificially intelligent earth.

6. Behavioral Analytics For Bots

Chatbots employed by the industries have fetched them huge user data, performance, and/or other metadata. But, if data is not providing any information, it is useless. Hence deciphering the information contained in the data and delivering significant insights is what is required. And Conversational AI is capable of doing so. Conversational AI-based analytics provides a visual representation of the user journey via plotting the flow of dialog in the conversation between the user and the bot. These flows define user behavior. Further, it can also determine the intention of the user.

7. Machine to Machine Conversations

We can’t skip IoT since we’re talking about intelligent technology behind the smart devices. Internet of Things or IoT enables the machine to machine conversation by creating a data-sharing network. Conversational AI plays a vital role in deciphering the information shared between machines. And vital information shared with the man via conversation too. In other words, Conversational AI is the mediator. It supports the conversation between the man and machines without any manual help.

8. Voice Assistants

Conversational AI caters to resolve the communication hindrances too. Voice assistants are the chatbot capable of conversing with the human. Rather by talking instead of typing long sentences. Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc. are the real-existing examples of voice assistants. Hence, supporting the hands-free conversation.

Summing Up!

The use and trends of Chatbots use cases have been widely embraced in 2020. And there is no doubt that it will proliferate in 2021 as well. Since the use of chatbots is not restricted to any particular sector or industry type. Any enterprise can enjoy this technology.

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Digital Technology

TOP 10 CHATBOTS TO LOOKOUT FOR IN 2021 AND BEYOND

Analytics Insight has listed top 10 chatbots to watch out for in 2021

Companies are trying every possible way to meet customers’ expectation. Yet another way that enhances their relationship with customers is coming up with chatbot, a software that’s capable of carrying out conversations with the customers. What better than being addressed to your issue at any instant of time? Right from responding to your queries to offering you the best, chatbots have got you covered. Chatbots are employed to improve customer engagement and reduce customer support expenses as well. They are an excellent way to automate most of the customer interactions. If you’ve been hunting for the best chatbots then have your task is done for you’ve landed at the right place. Read on to know which the best chatbots are and what is so unique about each one of them.

10 Best Chatbots to look for in 2021

Who wouldn’t want to improve customer engagement to boost up sales? Now that we are well aware of the fact that chatbots aid in improving customer interaction, learning about the best platforms does make every possible sense. Here’s a list of 10 best chatbots of 2021.

• AcquireAcquire is an AI-powered chatbot. This works round the clock and aims to solve all the customer queries. There are some questions that are most frequently asked. It is here that Acquire comes into play. It answers these queries of the users. Since, the most commonly asked queries are addressed by the bots, the agents can now handle other complex questions. This is a no nonsense chatbot. All that you’ve to do is decide your goals, purpose of the chatbot, and then set up a custom workflow.

• OMQ chatbot: OMQ chatbot is a self-learning AI-powered chatbot platform. The main purpose of designing this is to reduce the workload of the agents who deal with customers on a regular basis. OMQ chatbot is linked to the central knowledge base. It is capable enough of understanding the query or issue of the customer and responding with the most suitable answer. If it finds the issue to be too complex to handle, it directs the same to an agent.

• Netomi: This chatbot aims to deliver the highest accuracy due to its advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU) engine. This platform boasts of an out-of-the-box integration with most of the leading agent desk platforms. This is available in a variety of languages and supports analytics and real time reporting as well.

• Watson Assistant: This chatbot, developed by IBM, makes into the list of the most advanced AI-powered chatbots in the market. Watson Assistant holds the potential to keep a track of the users’ historical chat or call logs. If it is not able to address the issue at its best, it can ask the customers for more clarity and also direct them to human representatives, if necessary.

• Ada: Ada is yet another AI-powered chatbot that’s ruling the market. It comes with a drag-and-drop feature. This chatbot platform allows the users to add GIFs to certain messages, and the companies can make the best of their customer data. Ada holds the potential to send personalized content to the customers and also ask for customer feedback. Using this feedback, the companies can work better.

• ChatterOn: It is one of those AI-powered chatbots using which one can create Facebook Messenger chatbots without coding. Hence, this is no less than a saviour for non-technical users. This bot is self-learning thereby making it agile and adaptable.

• Aivo: This is one of those excellent platforms that enables you to communicate with your customers in real-time via text or voice. It is flexible enough to the extent that it can adapt itself to the rules. It promises to deliver a seamless and a high-quality experience.

• Rulai: Ruali is an AI-powered chatbot for enterprise brands. It has several advantages – it is capable of predicting the behaviour of the users, can understand the context of a conversation, know what the preferences of the customers are, can take actions accordingly. If it is not clear with something then it can also ask customers for more clarification.

• Sequel: This chatbot platform has a range of chatbot templates to offer. One can customize the template as well using the drag and drop interface. It is built on NLP and engages the users in a great manner.

• Botsify: It is a Facebook chatbot platform. It caters to integrating other chatbots into your system. The best part of this is that it is apt for non-technical users. Additionally, its basic version is available for free. The only drawback is that it cannot handle multiple entities to be correlated with one phrase.

All in all, Chatbots are an added advantage for your company. The right chatbot can save your time, money, and help you make better decisions.

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Digital Technology Featured

Top 7 Marketing Automation Predictions for 2021

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The time when we close the balance for the current year and start planning for the next one. Can you imagine 2021 marketing without automation? No one can! But this doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be prepared for what the future holds in store for 2021.

So let’s take a close look at the top marketing automation predictions for 2021. There has been enough uncertainty this year to warrant extra attention to being prepared in the next one, don’t you think?

In fact, the uncertainty that shrouded most of 2020 lays the foundation for what will happen in marketing automation in 2021. With most businesses going fully digital or moving most of their operations online, the need for marketing automation software has increased exponentially.

And this is not something that will change too soon.

Marketing Automation Predictions for 2021

Digital marketing was largely viewed as a must-have strategy by most marketers even before the pandemic. Seventy-eight percentof marketers believe that digital marketing was the key to their marketing efforts successful.

People turned to their devices with studies showing that device usage leaped by 16 percent in a single day in the US! Everyone is online (still!) so there has never been a better time to polish your marketing automation strategy.

1. Video Marketing on the Rise

Image source: ClipChamp

Video marketing is not a new concept — it stuck around because it works. Everyone loves watching a relevant, entertaining video.

Statistics show that 85 percent of internet users watch video content and it is estimated that the average person will be spending 100 minutes a day watching online videos in 2021.

They are easy to follow and when done right, educational too. There are several video types that you can use to reach your targeted market. For instance, some people have turned to vlog to reach their audience.

Recorded or live Q&As are also extremely popular and will continue to be this way. These are great for interacting with your audience. Q&As are more informative and don’t seem like sales so you can attract people to your business easily.

In the last couple of months, webinars have become increasingly becoming popular. This is because webinars are engaging and educative. They are a great way to build a connection with your audience. Using videos for marketing can be done in a variety of ways, including through social media networks like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

Ninety-three percent of companies say that their video content helped them to get new customers, with 63 percent of businesses saying that they get the best ROIs through their videos.

One of the best things about video marketing is that, even though you can’t automate production, you can definitely automate its distribution. There are dozens of social media management tools to help you distribute your video content automatically. Just schedule the post and go on with your day.

The same goes for sharing your video content with your email subscribers. Schedule a campaign in your favorite automation tool and go back to your dashboard to see how it performed.

Pro tip: leverage marketing automation for a video like a pro. Schedule your most important videos to be published at different times on different days. Why? Organic reach on social media is low, so posting a video just once means that you’ll only reach a small fraction of your audience. Play with different times of the day to catch bigger chunks of your fan base, especially if you cater to an international audience, in multiple time zones.

2. Automate for the Non-Linear Buyer Journey

Image Source: Fourth Source

Remember, when we all used to rely on a clear customer journey: awareness, consideration, decision. That’s it! Start creating content and campaigns for each stage.

Well, not anymore. Today’s customer journey is complex and unpredictable. Sometimes, they will narrow down their search to a single brand only to expand it again minutes later.

With more time to spend online researching options, consumers are becoming more and more aware that they are in charge of the process and that they don’t have to give in to remarketing ads or persistent email campaigns.

What can you do?

Automate, but smartly.

Invest in marketing automation software that allows you to have a 360-degree view of the customer’s behavior and cross-reference reports. Integration is your best friend here: integrating your CRM with your marketing automation tool (for instance, Salesforce with Mailchimp), you can send hyper-targeted and relevant messages to your contacts.

Marketing automation in 2021 has to respond to the customers’ demands: less generic campaigns, more personalization, and more relevance.

3. Email Marketing Automation Meets Cross-Channel Strategies

Image source: Profit Works

It feels like email marketing has been around since the beginning of time. But just because it’s rather old, it doesn’t mean it’s any less significant.

Marketing automation has taken an email to the next level.

Email marketing has progressed over the years and it has now become more personalized and tailored to every recipient’s needs. Nowadays, it has all been hyper-simplified. All you need is your email address, and the rest can happen on auto-pilot.

Email marketing automation will also get a significant upgrade in 2021. Forget about siloed marketing tactics and integrate email with your business goals in 2021 and beyond.

How can that happen?

When you integrate your email platform with your CRM or ESP, you get a birds-eye-view of your customer’s profile. This means that you can (and should!) set automated campaigns for:

  • Thank you notes after purchases
  • Recipient’s birthday
  • Reminders for clients who usually purchase things at regular intervals (for instance: “Hey, it’s time to refill your cat food bag”)
  • Very specific segments: import data from your CRM into your email marketing platform to know, for instance, who will attend what class in your gym. Then proceed to send automated emails to those people alone.

4. AI (Artificial Intelligence) Use on the Rise

No, this is not about the kind of artificial intelligence you see in movies. This breed of AI is specifically made for businesses. It is meant to make processes and operations easier.

Let’s look at two kinds of marketing automation AI. Despite the low uptake of AI in business over the years, 2021 will most likely see a spike in usage.

Image Source: Datamation

  • Conversational AI

Most of the behavior patterns that consumers follow when looking to make a purchase, like asking friends and family for referrals, checking out reviews, or online researching, have made their way into the business world. A lot of research is done before the potential buyer goes to your site.

Conversational AI is here to help with that. It is an artificial intelligence technology that powers chatbots to respond to inputs.

In short, this technology looks for a way to narrow down where a potential buyer is in their buying process and what are the next steps they should take. This can be done by asking questions to website visitors while they are still on your site, for instance.

AI makes it easy for a customer to navigate through your website, making it easy for them to get what they are looking for instead of wasting their time going through everything.

It also shortens the sales cycle and leaves your website visitors more fulfilled. In short, AI (in marketing automation) can improve your chat conversion rates significantly.

Image Source: Target Marketing

  • AI for email

Email marketing also uses artificial intelligence to make email tasks easier. Email service providers offer AI-based tools that you can easily adjust to make it specific to your brand’s needs.

If your goal is to increase your click rate and conversion rate for your campaigns, 2021 is the year when you should consider AI for email. It is going to help you organize your campaigns by making it possible to send specific emails to the recipients who need them.

Artificial intelligence can create algorithms that optimize content according to the price, relevance, display order, etc., and send it to each subscriber catering to their needs.

AI for email considers a subscriber’s behavior on your website, looking at how they respond to messages, their social media activities, and purchase histories, among other factors to know where their interests lie.

Once it has narrowed down a subscriber’s interest, AI now filters these interests to find the one email that will fit the customer’s needs. It then proceeds to send it to them.

When people receive offers they are interested in, it creates better customer engagement and increases sales for your company. Email AI is still evolving and increasingly becoming easier to use, even for small businesses. This is the kind of marketing automation prediction for 2021 that you can use to grow your business starting right now.

5. Better Personalization Fueled by Marketing Automation

Yes, personalization takes center stage in 2021 and beyond. But personalization without marketing automation is a nightmare. Can you imagine emailing everyone in your list separately, so you can add personalized information in each email?

It’s OK, you don’t even have to go there. Marketing automation can do this for you. And, in 2021, it goes beyond adding the recipient’s name.

New developments in marketing automation will allow you to deliver hyper-personalized messages across channels. In fact, this will be the norm starting with next year.

Picture this: you have a loyal customer who follows you on two social networks and orders from you regularly. They sometimes also use your website chat or call your support department. How do you which channel works best when you try to reach them?

Marketing automation will take that off your plate. Coupled with AI and cross-dashboard views, you will be able to know which is their favorite channel and send personalized, automated messages.

6. Integration Is no Longer “Nice to Have”. It’s a Must.

Integration helps bring together different facets of your business to work as one efficient tool. It’s not just sales and marketing that will live prosperously under the same “roof” (read: dashboard). It’s also accounting, IT, operations, customer support, and more. Pretty much everything that counts towards your business goals can be brought together in a single dashboard using iPaaS or integration services.

Come 2021, SaaS and iPaaS will become increasingly popular for obvious reasons. These tried-and-tested solutions will enable industries affected by the crisis to transit effortlessly and seamlessly into the new normal.

Integration is a crucial marketing automation prediction for 2021 because it marks the end of siloed business operations and the beginning of seamless transitions between departments and channels.

As iPaaS services evolve, they bring easy-to-use interfaces that come with a plethora of benefits for both the companies using them and for their customers.

7. Offline Conversion Tracking

While acknowledging that almost everything is turning digital, let’s not forget that brick-and-mortar stores will continue to exist. Only they will have an online presence, too.

But in the era of seamless communication across channels, you can’t afford to keep the two separate. This is where offline conversion tracking comes in.

To achieve this, some companies have been using promotional codes, coupons, sensors, and other means to translate digital marketing and in-store foot traffic into sales.

Image Source: Marketing Land

Google uses features like geo-targeting to show potential customers and uses product searches to determine conversion rates. Facebook uses data from customers with location services to show local store advertisements.

Marketing automation tools can now give you combined insights from all your customer touchpoints. Neatly grouped in a single dashboard, they will fuel your growth through data-driven campaigns.

Conclusion

With the new changes looming on the corner, a lot has to be changed for businesses to perform well in the coming year. The above marketing automation predictions for 2021 are just some of the ways to ensure your business thrives.

Investing in the right marketing automation now will mean you have a leg up before the next business year begins.

Take your time and evaluate your options and marketing efforts. Find better and more efficient ways to interact with your customers so that you can cater to their needs. Digital marketing is an ever-changing field and you need to adapt with time using the right strategy and tools.

While marketing automation is great, it’s not everything you need. The human touch is also important, perhaps more important than ever. Even if you can automate every email and social media campaign, remember to always humanize them. A hand-written thank-you note sent along with the order can turn a first-time buyer into a loyal customer for life.

Remember that catering to customers’ needs means understanding them first. So take the time to do that. Analytics reports in marketing automation get more refined every year, so you have the perfect opportunity to dig deep into customers’ behavior and adjust your strategy according to it.

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Digital Technology

Mobile App or Website? 10 Reasons Why Apps are Better

So the mobile era is here—The number of mobile users today is greater than the number of desktop users!

Consequently, businesses have realized the need to effectively use mobile channels to attract customers. But, that’s not enough. They also need to optimize their mobile apps and websites to improve user experience and outdo their conversion rates so they can make the most of this channel. 

While some businesses employ both mobile websites and apps, other companies might have to choose one of them. The choice between mobile apps and websites depends on their cost, usability, required features, and the audience they serve.

That being said, studies show that users prefer mobile apps more than mobile websites. This makes for a strong reason to create mobile apps for reaching out to potential (and existing) customers.

In addition, there are various other reasons that make mobile apps better than mobile websites.

Following is our list of the top 10:

#1 Mobile apps offer better personalization

Personalization is about offering tailored communication to users based on their interests, location, usage behavior, and more.

With mobile apps, it’s easy to treat users with a personalized experience. Using a mobile app A/B testing tool, you can also test out different experiences for your customers.

Mobile apps can let users set up their preferences at the start, based on which users can be served with customized content. Apps can also track and observe customer engagement, and use it to offer custom recommendations and updates to the users. Furthermore, they can also identify the location of the users in real-time to provide geography-specific content.

However, improving user experience is not the only purpose that personalization serves. It can also help improve the conversion rate of apps.

When users are pampered with personalized content, they have a higher chance of converting as it offers a human touch as opposed to generic content which comes across as rather robotic or automated. 

#2 Ease of sending notifications

For the last couple of decades, email has been the most widely-used business communication tool. Businesses have extensively used email (some almost abused it) to reach out to their users. As a result, email has lost the effectiveness it once had; its open rates and click rates have constantly dropped[1].

Well, there’s no reason to worry.

Enter mobile app notifications.

These notifications are of two types: push and in-app notifications. Both are exciting alternatives for communicating with app users in a far less intrusive manner.

The ability to send instant, non-intrusive notifications to users is so desired that it is one of the major reasons why many businesses want to have a mobile app in the first place.

In-app notifications are the notifications that users can only receive when they have opened an app. Push notifications, on the other hand, are those notifications that users can receive regardless of any activity they are doing on their mobile device.

There have been instances where the push medium of notifications has delivered click-through rates of 40%. In case you chose to stick with a mobile website or are running one while building an app, you can send your push notifications with VWO Engage.

Sign up for a free trial and see how easy it is to send notifications to both desktop and mobile users.

#3 Making use of mobile device features

Mobile apps have the advantage of utilizing features of a mobile device like camera, contact list, GPS, phone calls, accelerometer, compass, etc.

Such device features, when used within an app, can make the user experience interactive and fun.

Moreover, these features can also reduce the efforts users would have to make otherwise. For instance, users completing a form on a banking app might need to submit their photograph for completion of the process. The app can let users take the help of the camera of their mobile device to capture and submit a photograph.

The device features can significantly shorten the time users take to perform a certain task in an app, and can even boost conversions.

Note: Mobile websites can also use some features of a mobile device like camera, GPS, etc. Still, there are technological constraints and privacy concerns in utilizing multimedia features of a device (which mobile apps can use).

#4 Ability to work offline

It is probably the most fundamental difference between a mobile website and an app.

Although apps too might require internet connectivity to perform most of their tasks, they can still offer basic content and functionality to users in offline mode.

Let’s take the example of a banking app again.

The app can provide features like tax calculation, installment calculation, and determination of loan limits. These features can work even without the help of an internet connection.

Note: Even though mobile websites can use caching to load web pages without an internet connection, they can only offer limited functions.

#5 Freedom in designing

Even with all the technological advancements in web designing, mobile websites have to rely a lot on browsers to perform even the most elementary functions. Mobile websites depend on browser features like ‘back button,’ ‘refresh button,’ and ‘address bar’ to work.

Mobile apps don’t have any of these restrictions.

A mobile app can be designed with a lot of elaborate functions, based on advanced gestures like ‘tap,’ ‘swipe,’ ‘drag,’ ‘pinch,’ ‘hold,’ and more.

Apps can use these gestures to offer innovative functionality that can help users perform a task better. For example, an app can let users move to a next or previous step using the swipe gesture.

#6 New branding experience

Since a mobile app is distinct from a company’s website, it has the liberty of offering a new brand experience to users. It means that the company can experiment with new branding styles for the app, which can be different from the regular brand style of the company’s website (or the company altogether).

Going a step further, companies can build mobile apps specifically to transition into a new brand style for themselves.

Additionally, a mobile app can also allow users to customize its appearance, as per users’ liking. This can further help on the personalization front of the app.

Note: The concept of microsites works on similar lines. Microsites offer a distinct brand experience to users, as compared to their parent sites. They are often used to promote a sub-brand, an event, or a newly-launched service.

Related postA Cheat Sheet on Using Microsites to Build Traffic

#7 Users spend more time on Apps

Mobile users spend 86% of their time[2] on mobile apps and just 14% of the time on mobile websites.

Moreover, a study by eMarketer concluded that users spend more than 90% of their mobile time on apps as opposed to mobile web. 

Note: A point to consider here is that users spend a majority of their time on gaming apps and social media apps.

Note: We also don’t have data telling us which mobile websites users visit more often (out of the 14% of their time mentioned above). Hence, it’s not possible to make a comparison.

#8 New stream of conversions

If you’re looking to increase conversions, mobile apps can be a great medium to push users down the conversion funnel.

Mobile apps can be used to acquire both top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) and bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) users.

For instance, utility apps can bring-in ToFu users, which can be later nurtured into BoFu leads. On the other hand, apps like eCommerce already have BoFu users, who have a higher possibility of converting.

Add-on: Since mobile apps are much more targeted in nature (through their content and utility), they can be used to tap specific users in the funnel. Mobile websites, in contrast, reach out to a diverse set of audiences.

#9 Brand presence

Users spend a substantial amount of their time on mobile devices. It’s safe to say that many of the users encounter the apps they’ve installed on their devices, almost every day. This regular encounter can be viewed as a branding opportunity for the apps[3].

Even when users are not actively using a mobile app, they are still reminded of the brand associated with the app. The icon of the app acts like a mini-advertisement for the brand.

The presence of an app on a users’ device helps influence user’s perception about a brand, subconsciously.

This user behavior can be linked to the Signal Detection Theory, which suggests that users process even those ads which they’ve ignored at some level in their minds.

#10 Apps can work faster than websites

A well-designed mobile app can perform actions much quicker than a mobile website.

Apps usually store their data locally on mobile devices, in contrast to websites that generally use web servers. For this reason, data retrieval happens swiftly in mobile apps.

Apps can further save users’ time by storing their preferences, and using them to take proactive actions on users’ behalf.

There is also a technical justification as to why mobile apps can work faster—Mobile websites use javascript code to perform most of their functions and the framework that mobile apps use can run almost five times faster than a javascript code! While all this happens in the background, users get to complete actions quicker on the front-end of mobile apps, again contributing to a delightful user experience.

Mobile app v/s mobile site—what should you choose?

Developing both mobile website and mobile app for your business can prove to be a costly affair and you may have to choose one of the two channels, based on your budget and business goals. While both channels have their own pros and cons, mobile apps, especially, can help you get higher conversions and retention. Mobile apps offer greater personalization and operational efficiency, along with multiple other exclusive features.

However, once you’ve designed a slick mobile app, how do you ensure it also delivers on all its promises and drives the intended growth for your business as opposed to being just another channel that you have to manage and maintain? Well, the answer is simple – you test it rigorously. 

Mobile app A/B testing allows you to steadily enhance your in-app user experience by experimenting with features, app flows, and other UI-based changes to improve your engagement, conversion, and retention rate. Therefore, while having an up and running mobile app is definitely the first step towards engaging with a whole new audience segment, optimizing it continuously will help you drive tangible improvements in your key business metrics. VWO Mobile App Testing is a robust mobile experimentation platform that empowers you to build engaging experiences that delight users as well as launch world-class features by mitigating any risk. If you’re unsure how, request a free demo by one of VWO’s experimentation experts to understand how you can leverage VWO Mobile App Testing to improve your app’s key metrics.

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Digital Technology

20 innovative CRM trends for 2021 to pay attention to

In recent years, the CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) has evolved far beyond being just a tool for contact management to offer something for everyone in an organisation.

As 2021 approaches and we move further into the new decade, some key CRM trends will shake up the industry as we know it.

Here are some of our top predictions for CRM in the upcoming year, including rising CRM use from new markets, powerful features and integrations, and the impact of wider tech trends on CRM.

The latest CRM trends for 2021 to pay attention to

1. AI is becoming a key part of CRM systems

If there’s one thing that’s affecting all industries, it’s artificial intelligence (AI). We’re using a lot more AI than we might think in our daily lives as well as at work.

14% of global CIOs have already deployed AI, according to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda survey, and it’s estimated that AI associated with CRM activities will boost global business revenue by $1.1 trillion by the end of 2021.

2. There are fewer barriers for first-time CRM users

65% of sales professionals use a CRM and 97% consider sales technology “very important” or “important”, according to LinkedIn State of Sales 2020.

However, that leaves one third of sales professionals not using CRMs. Common barriers to adopting a CRM include reservations about cost and lacking the resources and tech knowledge to implement a CRM system.

As CRMs continue on their trend of becoming cheaper, simpler to implement and easier to use, these objections are becoming increasingly irrelevant. We forecast a higher percentage of companies adopting CRMs for the first time in 2021.

3. Social CRM keeps rising

What is social CRM? It’s the integration of social media channels into CRM platforms.

By viewing social media and CRM together, companies gain a more powerful overview of what people are posting about them on social media, as well as a clearer understanding of brand sentiment.

If organizations can use social CRM to respond to comments quickly and thoughtfully, they can build stronger relationships with existing and potential customers and incorporate more user feedback into their roadmap.

4. There’s an all-star line-up of CRMs to choose from

Even though Salesforce’s share of the CRM market is over 19%, there’s a huge range of tools competing for consumer attention.

Customers are choosing from a diverse market of over 609 CRM systems, with tools that cater for both generalized needs and specific niches and requirements.

The CRM systems leading the way for user satisfaction right now on G2 are:

  • HubSpot
  • Salesforce
  • Less Annoying CRM
  • Freshsales

5. Businesses can condense their sales and marketing tech stacks

With the rise of sophisticated CRMs and core tech tools, sales and marketing teams can get away with using fewer tools than before.

As a tech trend for 2021, teams will increasingly wonder: why do we pay for App A when App B can now tick that box and more?

For best results from their tech stack, teams will be creating more integrations and two-way syncs to ensure contact data is always updated across all apps.

6. Voice and conversational UI will start integrating with CRM

Voice technology is critical for the evolution of SaaS tools. It’s a key factor for accessibility, but it also simply makes tech easier and more enjoyable to use. According to Adobe’s research on voice technology:

“Almost all users (94%) consider voice technology easy to use and say it does more than save time – it improves their quality of life.”

Technology like Salesforce’s Einstein Voice Assistant is making it easier for salespeople to track, message, update and notify their teams about customer data.

We anticipate many more CRMs following suit in the next few years of the 2020s with voice assistant usage and supporting hardware in operational processes and interfaces.

7. Businesses are automating more processes using their CRM

To stay relevant to tech-savvy customers, top CRMs need to offer advanced automation features.

Many of the top players have been investing heavily in automation in the last few years; including HubSpotSalesforce and ActiveCampaign, which have placed automation front-and-center in their product and marketing.

In 2021, we predict CRM will become more synonymous with automation. For instance, using chatbots to communicate with customers and solve help tickets automatically, or using automated email workflows to nurture sales prospects down the funnel.

With automation, businesses can offer high-quality customer services while optimizing operational costs – something that an increasing number of businesses are realizing, and CRMs are continuing to support in new ways.

8. One of the top advantages of CRM? A high-def view of customers

Choosing a strong CRM and filling it with reliable data that’s enriched by other apps is the easiest way for a company to build a comprehensive view of its customers.

According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2020, top-performing salespeople have a higher confidence level in their CRM data than their counterparts. Of the top group, 53% are very confident, and of the non-top only 32% are very confident.

This shows a direct link between sales performance and high-quality data, which comes from putting in the time to maintain data cleanliness and integrity.

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9. CRM is becoming interwoven with IoT technologies

From smart home devices to wearable health monitors and cybersecurity scanners, there are expected to be more than 64 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2025, says TechJury.

This also applies to the corporate world: 93% of enterprises are believed to have adopted IoT technology in 2019, according to Fierce Electronics, which will only continue in coming years. This ranges from simple IoT devices, such as energy meters and smart appliances, to more advanced solutions for greater cost efficiencies, organizational capabilities and supply chain visibility.

Improving customer experience is the area where most enterprises are using data generated from IoT solutions. With IoT technologies, companies can monitor and service their clients in new and proactive ways that were previously unimaginable.

10. CRM: not just for customer-facing teams

CRMs have been traditionally thought of as tools for sales and customer success teams. Times have changed – and CRMs are now a crucial part of a company’s wider tech stack. In 2021, more organizations will realize that CRM benefits everything.

Marketers can use CRMs to best understand the contacts in their pipeline and monitor how CTAs convert. Customer success teams can access a 360-degree view of the customer to provide the most personalized experience. And management can access valuable data on performance across the board.

11. CRMs keep getting more sophisticated

The most requested CRM features are basics like contact management (94%), interaction tracking (88%) and schedule/reminder creation (85%). About a quarter of buyers want monitoring of the sales pipeline and funnel.

However, a fifth of CRM users want slightly more advanced functions: sales automation, a central database, email marketing, customization and reporting/analytics.

Mike Richardson, managing director at Maximizer Software, shared with MyCustomer the importance of balancing sophistication and a centralized view of the customer:

“Best-in-breed systems are rapidly appearing in the market, bringing increasing layers of sophistication and becoming extremely good at solving specialized needs… However, all of these different touchpoints with the customer need to be centralized into a single view of the customer experience, in a system of engagement.”

12. A CRM’s customer experience is as important as its features

According to Salesforce, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. There are several ways to use CRM technology to meet the expectations of today’s customer:

  • Live chat for quick support
  • Enriched data to show the full customer journey and previous support tickets
  • Accessible customer data across departments
  • Automated knowledge bases
  • Syncing customer data between apps to show a 360-degree view everywhere

As more organizations up their customer experience game, others must follow suit: 73% of customers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies.

13. Consumers expect companies to know more about them

A business-to-customer relationship is becoming increasingly like any other human relationship. A company needs to remember previous conversations with a customer, understand their needs and expectations, and adjust communication accordingly. To enable this, all required customer data must be quickly accessible and accurate.

This isn’t always guaranteed: 87% of consumers believe companies need to provide a more consistent customer experience, says Zendesk.

Having a CRM as part of a connected tech stack is the best way to fix this, as it allows different team members to store customer data about all previous conversations and known preferences.

14. CRM growth will come from new markets

Over 50% of CRM buyers in 2019 were in one of four markets: real estate, consulting, distribution and insurance. As we head further into the 2020s, a great deal of new CRM growth will come from other vertical markets. These include:

  • Healthcare
  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing

15. Younger generations are pushing for CRM use

28% of millennials think CRM applications are “extremely critical” to their success, compared to 18% of Generation X and 9% of Baby Boomers.

This CRM trend will grow as millennials and Gen Z continue to gain buying power and the next generations enter the workplace. In the decade ahead, more teams will become tech-centric and insist on maximizing performance through intelligent CRM technology.

16. A company of one is big enough for a CRM

How large does your business need to be to have a CRM? The answer for 2021 is: a company with one employee is big enough.

If you’re managing contact details, juggling a busy pipeline and have customer data to keep track of, you can benefit from using a CRM. These are familiar pain points for freelancers.

Freelancers are providing a strong market segment for CRM platforms, and freelancer tools like Bonsai have already invested in built-in client management features.

17. Self-service via CRM

As automation becomes more synonymous with CRM (see #7), bots are completing more contact management tasks and saving team members from having to lift a finger.

Chatbots offered by platforms like Drift and HubSpot automatically guide prospects through marketing and sales pipelines – collecting data, asking questions and delivering more personalized content.

With self-service, customers get their questions answered faster with far less effort required from the provider. It’s a win-win.

18. Analytics features need to be a CRM’s strength

With sophisticated analytics at their fingertips, organizations are in the best position to identify problems, solutions and opportunities. Companies recognize this – and are increasingly looking for powerful analytics tools to process and report on their data in real time.

CRMs must offer advanced analytics too. Organizations want the most accurate data into how their sales pipeline is performing, how happy customers are and what’s contributing to churn, for example.

Although not all organizations are ready for sophisticated stand-alone analytics platforms just yet, more SMEs are viewing CRM analytics as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

19. XaaS – everything as a service

SaaS – software as a service – is well-known, but what’s XaaS? Everything as a Service takes the concept of SaaS and spreads it to encompass every form of product and service.

With XaaS, any IT function can be transformed into a service for enterprise consumption – from platform as a service (PaaS) to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) among many others. XaaS includes any computing service delivered via the internet and paid for via a subscription rather than an upfront cost.

As a tech trend for 2021, we predict more organizations will seek cloud solutions for new corners of their business, whether as part of their CRM, a stand-alone system or a connected tool.

20. CRMs need to be connected to every other part of a business

As each year rolls by, more organizations are viewing their CRM as an essential organ for the wellbeing of their company. To make this happen and reap the benefits, a CRM has to be connected to all other tools and processes in your organization.

From your email marketing tool to your invoicing system, make sure to have two-way syncs set up between tools that store customer data and your CRM.

Keeping your data in sync is the best way to avoid human error, resolve pesky data silos, save time on manual input and paint the clearest picture of your business for every team.

In the 2020s, you should have no reason to distrust your customer data and wrestle with unending lists of duplicate emails and misleading data.


To benefit from the CRM trends for 2021, make sure your data is connected

If we have to make one overall prediction for tech and CRM in 2021, it’s that more businesses will be using technology to eradicate or automate what they don’t want to deal with – while getting better results from the tasks they focus on.

The recipe for that is a strong CRM, automated workflows where possible, and a connected app stack where data moves freely between your apps.

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Digital Technology

What major website trends 2021 you need to consider?

What major website trends 2021 you need to consider? In a highly competitive market such as a digital one, it is important to foresee changes and learn how to adapt to them. Get to know 15 web trends of the next year and meet the decade fully armed! 

#1 Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Progressive web apps (or PWA) are not the phenomenon of this year. However, the technology gained modern developers and investors’ attention due to its potential to perform high-quality user experience close to native app one. 

In 2019, 65% of online shopping orders through the website were made with mobile devices. PWA’s rising website trend makes it possible for users to view their favorite websites on a mobile web browser or desktop and without downloading special apps or computer programs. PWAs in 2021 will be written with HTML and CSS, JavaScript, React, or Angular. Besides great user experience and no need for programs, PWA could send push notifications and provide users with offline access to cached content.

For whom these latest website technologies may be important? E-commerce, news platforms, companies with low development budgets, and those who’d like to reach a bigger audience without losing it on the app downloading stage should be extremely attentive now. That is also true that PWA can change money algorithms in App Store and Google Play Market world where paid apps should share profits with app aggregators. 

#2 Artificial Intelligence and Bots

What does the future of web development look like? That is believed by many that next year bots will become more self-learning and will easily match particular user’s needs and behavior. That means that 24/7-operating bots will be able to replace support managers and save costs for many companies. 

In the upcoming decade, chatbots will remain the most common instruments to serve people and become the major branch of digital development.

Huge B2C companies already use the technology to serve their customers — official page chatbots inside Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Skype are good examples. A bot could be also integrated into PWA, regular website, professional or household equipment, and any Internet-connected app developed by a commercial company. 

Bot’s rise will also influence trends in web design, especially UX one. The significant advanced of AI and machine learning technology resulted in demand for virtual assistant designs, which is not only about visual experience, or product serving algorithms, but also about useful sound design.

The most important advantages of AI-based bots are 24/7 problem-solving potential, human-like experience, and deep consumer behavior analytics.  

#3 Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) is one more web development trend. The idea of it is to speed up page performance and decrease the risk of leaving it by a user. AMP technology is a bit similar to PWA. The difference is that pages become accelerated due to open-source plugin recently developed by Twitter and Google. 

AMPs are optimized pages that could operate fast and have a simplified and yet convenient design with only basic features compared to full-scope web products. Those pages are also mobile-friendly and their content is always readable.

New trends in web design such as AMP development show that the Internet is becoming more user-oriented. Although we’ve got 5G Internet technology and most brands choose to develop native apps to make any user experience better, AMP plugin gives companies a chance to save costs on UX and reach users with any Internet speed. As a result, we will see smaller and niche products successfully competing with huge market leaders.    

#4 Single Page Application (SPA)

Nowadays, with high-speed Internet standards, there is no need to be stuck on an approach where every action made on the page like clicks on various buttons leads to one more web page downloaded from a server. 

Single page application (or SPA) is one of the new website trends that helps us avoid seamless communication with the server and show better page performance and provide a high data protection level. 

SPAs gain their popularity due to JavaScript frameworks rise. Working with them you intercept particular browser events and request JSON which looks like working with a web application. Google pages like Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Maps, as well as social networking platforms like Facebook, are of that kind. Current web trends observation makes it clear that in future most functional websites will be constructed as SPAs. 

Why developers of 2021 prefer the SPA approach? SPAs have more chances to hold users’ attention as they seem to be fast operating — SPAs provide users with instant feedback (compared to regular sites with their white screens before the page will be completely downloaded). Single-page sites also consume less and could work without server-side code at all (API technology).

#5 Voice Search Optimization

The web development future seems to be less texty and more voicy and it’s not only about virtual multifunctional home assistants such as Siri, Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. In 2021, more than half of all smart and IoT devices will hear users and execute commands given by voice. And even more — they will be able to recognize the voices of different people and provide personalized AI-based experience for everyone. 

Voice search is just the most significant example of technology that was implemented more than a decade ago. In 2021, people would prefer to spend less time typing commands as devices could understand them clearly. That’s why most companies are now puzzling over how to optimize their physical and digital products for voice search and voice commands. 55% of all households globally are forecasted to have voice assistant by the end of 2022. 

The latest in web development is voice-activated self-standing devices and voice optimization for regular web sites and apps. Strengthen with AI, voice search optimization is beneficial for both end-users and owners. First, it saves time and allows a user to order more (online shopping and services). Second, technology is multitasking. Third, it gains users’ extra loyalty as helps them to cope with routine. And, finally, voice usage is a powerful source of user behavior analytics.    

#6 Motion UI

Innovation web design is one more trend branch in the digital world. From year to year startups keep paying more attention to user experience and invest fewer resources in the aesthetics. However, beautifully looking websites and apps have more chances to be noticed by potential users and become viral. In that terms, visual design becomes not the question of engineering, but the one of marketing strategy. 

That is likely, that in 2021 MVPs will still be minimalistic. At the same time, experts foresee the demand for brand new design approaches like motion UI. Although motion user interface design has been trendy since 2018, it becomes widely accessible for any device users only now due to SASS libraries technology.  

Motion UI makes digital products usage more intuitive and clear. The approach involves custom animation integration and CSS transitions powered by stand-alone libraries with numerous classes of animated elements. With their help, developers spend less time on digital product building and save the costs of product owners. 

In 2021, the motion future of web design seems to be still appealing as SASS libraries are flexible, easy to use with CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, and are highly responsive. Motion UI is also a proven way to capture users’ attention, so it is useful for those who develop products for markets with lots of players. 

#7 Automation Testing

Most emerging web technologies are aimed to make the development process cheaper and provide users with the best experience. Development stages automation is the tool on how to reach the first aim. Machine learning and AI approach allow us to build complex projects with a small team or with fewer development experts, while product test automation helps us to check whether our product is ready for the deployment or not. 

Test automation has numerous benefits. It leads to the best testing coverage, transparency, and tech problem detection. 

The approach also helps the development team collect test cases and learn from them, reduce development costs (up to 20%), and reduce test cycle time in general. In other words, with test automation, you will get a better end product for less money. 

Why latest web development technology such as test automation is so important in 2021? The answer is digital environment becomes more and more competitive. If you are faster than your competitors and the quality of your product is better — you will win.  

#8 JavaScript Frameworks

Although JavaScript wasn’t invented yesterday, it is considered to be one of the most used programming languages in the world which makes every innovation concerning it that much actively discussed. In 2021, new website trends will include the rise and further development of JavaScript frameworks. 

JavaScript frameworks emerged as attempts to standardize the language and create a convenient frontend ecosystem that is easy to benefit from. In 2021, JavaScript frameworks will involve UX, UI, testing, and product tech management aspects. Frameworks usage will be based on ready components one needs to compose working on a website.       

Technically, JavaScript frameworks remain an application framework created with JavaScript programming language and based on libraries (both visual and functional) integration. This web trend has lots of benefits. Immediate feedback that is given to users without page reloads, high efficiency and fast performance, coding simplicity are just a couple of them.

Mind, that modern JavaScript frameworks have some differences compared to old versions. Built-in HTML templating, composed-based design, data management tools build system support are the most significant updates. However, Vue, React, and Angular frameworks will continue to be the most popular products of their kind in 2021.  

#9 Serverless Applications and Architecture

What does the web development future look like? Serverless technology is the result of searching for the possibility to avoid system overloading, data loss, or costly development. Supported by major vendors like AWS, serverless algorithms were recently built as a cloud-computing execution model. According to the concept, regular servers could be replaced by clouds that manage machine resource consumption. 

Current web trends concerning serverless app architecture help reduce development and ongoing support budgets, strengthen apps with flexibility potential, and keep the Internet environment more sustainable. The technology is based on function as a service (FaaS) usage. 

Private cloud computing services providers give their partners a chance to create, run, and manage app features without building a product infrastructure by themselves.

In 2021, serverless technology is forecasted to be actively used for chatbots, IoT apps, products that need complex backend requests proceeding, and APIs. The most common tasks that could be executed serverless are downloading files backups, notification delivery, and objects export. AWS (AWS Lambda), Google Cloud (Google Functions) and Microsoft Azure (Azure Functions) will be still major service providers of 2021.  

#10 Blockchain Technology

Cryptocurrencies are not the latest web development technology. The concept of them appeared in 2004 and three years ago crypto trading market (based on blockchain technology) explored with investments. What should we expect in 2021? It is clear for many, that blockchain currency trading could not be ignored by the official authorities. The usage of them became significantly active within the past decade and major payment systems decided to accept Bitcoins and other currencies. 

In 2019, over 34 million blockchain wallets are used globally. Blockchain technology also requires hardware and software support, legal regulation, and infrastructure for trading. So next year emerging web technologies are likely to cover those aspects. Blockchain operations should be secure, protected from hacker attacks and tech errors. Major banks are planning to develop algorithms for protecting valuable user data and keep crypto trading as safe as one with regular currency.

Peer-to-peer networking is likely to develop too. If the blockchain world becomes more trusted and accessible for people, it will cause revolutionary changes in the way people pay taxes, interact with governmental services, and build a professional relationship.   

#11 Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (or IoT) is a network of interconnected devices that require no or almost no actions from the users’ side to execute operations and perform useful results. In 2021, some of web development trends will be caused by IoT development. 

As it is forecasted that there will be around 30 billion Internet devices operating in 2025, we could expect that next year there will be a certain demand on solutions that could level up secureness on automated IoT interactions. 

IoT rising potential is another aspect we should consider next year. The basic reason for the Internet of Things to exist and develop is its ability to make human daily life easier or more convenient. With payment automation, smart home and smart city technology, e-health environment development, we could become generally less overloaded with routine tasks and invest our cognitive resources in more complicated ones. 

Transport, healthcare, housekeeping, and marketing are likely to be major IoT niches in 2021. New trends in web design (UX) will be also influenced by changes in the IoT environment. We should foresee voice interfaces design and emerging approaches to big data architecture.  

#12 Mobile-First Development

In 2021, there will be significantly more mobile devices than regular personal computers and now, we’ve got as much as 54% of the Internet traffic consumed with mobiles and tablets. So no surprises that web design trends tend to be more about small mobile screens than horizontally-oriented desktops. 

Mobile-first development is a concept according to which you start thinking out your product treating mobile screen and other mobile hardware features such as productivity and physical buttons placement as major tech framework you need to work with. In other words, you do not work out the desktop-oriented site and then deal with adapting it to mobile box, but start with light, usually minimalistic, and intuitive product that is easy to interact with using mobile.     

Latest in web design ideas are following: in 2021, it is recommended to deliver content with no decorative meaningless elements, reduce page number and avoid using columns, use triggers with mobile-oriented call to action (for example, online calls), use vivid colors, simple geometric shapes, contrasting color schemes, and illustrations. That is also important to understand that since 2018 Google has separate search ranking algorithms for mobiles where mobile-first sites are prioritized.  

#13 Responsive Websites (RWD)

You can’t discuss website trends of 2021 avoiding responsive websites issue. The concept was born more than 5 years ago when mobile devices were actively seizing the market. In 2019, every second search request is being made by the mobile user, which means developers and designers should put extra effort into polishing their products and make it convenient for users in two formats — desktop and mobile. 

There are at least 3 options on how to solve the problem. The idea is to develop either mobile-first website and adapt it to desktop, create a mobile-friendly website that looks on mobile screen and desktop in the same way, or invest in responsive web design (RWD) and use the same HTML code with CSS that could alter the rendering on your web site automatically. In 2021, the RWD approach is likely to gain significant attention.  

What could we get out of website trends considering the rise of RWD? 

The reason why you need a mobile user-friendly website is that it is the only way to get the right indexing from the search engine. And proper indexing influences your competitiveness.

In 2021, it is also time to forget about desktop and mobile versions separation (different content and stand-alone management), but to work on universal code for all types of devices.   

#14 Push Notifications

Could push notification be considered as a short-lasting development fad or are they brand new trends in web design? In 2021, notifications will appear not only in mobile apps but in web apps. Moreover, they will turn into one more powerful tool to gain users’ attention, make user retention rates higher, and even provide desktop users with the type of experience they used to obtain through mobile devices only. 

Facebook, global news platforms, Google Mail, and other huge market players already implement the technology into their web apps. Next year we could expect push notification adoption by small and medium-sized businesses. At the same time, instant notifications are likely to replace some types of communication with customers such as email sending.

The future of web development considering notification in web apps is forecasted to perform extra demand on ready to use solutions (like notification plugins and browser push notifications utilities) that could be easily adjusted to existing blogs, online shopping platforms, and other services. In other words, technology will become cheap and accessible to many.    

#15 GPDR and Cybersecurity

Why cybersecurity is that much important in 2021? The point is we automate more and more routine operations using Internet-connected devices. And each time we proceed operations like online payments, sharing personal data while buying tickets or paying taxes, or even setting our smart houses and multimedia systems, there is always a risk for our data to be stolen. 

The cybersecurity market is likely to generate over $300 billion by 2024. What are the latest website technologies in the field of cybersecurity? First, in 2021, we can expect the development of algorithms that could protect users from phishing attacks. This type of cybercrimes is possible with trusted sites and pages simulations (like bank account entry), where users are required to fill the form with security numbers or valuable data. 

IoT interaction protection and mobile security will also gain momentum next year.   

The development of privacy policy such as GPDR in Europe (General Data Protection Regulation) is also the latest in web development. The document has the status of international law and put a fine on Internet product owner if they collect user data in an unsecured way, as well or sell or store user information without asking user permission. In 2021, local regulations in the US such as California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will be applied. 

Categories
Digital Technology Featured

4 important points to know about Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWA (Progressive Web Apps) have gained momentum among the web development community and are one of the most talked about technology shifts across the web landscape.

 If you are someone who builds for web, there is a good chance that PWA is one of the latest ‘buzzwords’ that have been added to your work vocabulary. Progressive Web Apps have made installing web apps on phone possible.

There has already been a lot of spotlight and ‘geek speaks’ on building PWA and its advantages. Most of the attempts to introduce PWA, especially to the newbies, seem to be jargon filled or had too much of code that could intimidate them to take the first step. In this article, I’m trying to give a snapshot of PWA, just enough to kickstart their learning process.

1. What is a Progressive Web App?

“Progressive Web App (PWA) is a term used to denote a new software development methodology. Unlike traditional applications, progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages (or websites) and a mobile application. This new application model attempts to combine features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of mobile experience.”

This is what Wikipedia says about PWA. Well, this might seem a bit vague or even contentious. So let’s look at PWA in an informal way.

If ever the best of web and the best of apps had a clone child — it is PWA. Or else, it’s just that the web page has taken all the ‘right vitamins’ so that it can behave more like an app downloaded from the App Store/ Play Store. It starts as a normal web page in a browser, and as a user explores the webpage, they get the prompt if they would like to “Add to Home Screen”. Once the user gives the thumbs up to this prompt, VOILA! PWA gets added to their home screen. Once open from the home screen, it can even hide the browser UI controls and appear as an app.

This is more like a glorified bookmark that has hit the sweet spot between the web and mobile apps. I say this because PWA has managed to bridge the gap in the web. The web has always been thirsty for reliable performance at par with the native apps. It has always yearned for a place in the notification tray and in the home screen just like an app. More than 40% of the users bounce from the websites that take more than 3 seconds to load. PWA is a solution for this “Web Obesity Epidemic” faced by the users.

It is all about removing friction and making it easy for the users to get to what they want.

The entire credit for this seamless experience should be given to the Service Worker( A script that the browser runs in the background separate from web page), which is the backbone of every PWA. The service workers enable reliable and intelligent caching, background content updating, push notifications and the most attractive offline functionality to prior visited sites. This means that, after the first visit to a website, the site and app will be reliably fast even on flaky networks.

But a question could arise here — what about the fast first load with reliable performance? That’s when Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) meets service worker. AMP provides reliably fast web components for first load. These components are much faster to load and less data hungry. Websites that use the combo of AMP and Service Worker will provide reliable speed as of native apps. Once the page is loaded the site setups the service worker and assets are cached intelligently. This will always keep the PWA up to date thereby freeing the users from the frequent updates to be done from the App Store.

PWA in a nutshell:

  • Reliable : Fast loading and works offline
  • Fast : Smooth Animations, jank free scrolling and seamless navigation even on flaky networks
  • Engaging : Launched from home screen and can receive push notification

2. Why is it important ?

It is a myth that the users will happily download the app of every website they visit frequently. According to Comscore Mobile App Report, over 50% of America’s smart phone users download Zero Apps a month. i.e. Gone are the days when the phone is full of apps and people-smart phone honeymoon phase is getting depleted. Each step to download an app reduces 20% of users. PWA reduces the steps between discovery of an app and getting it on the home screen and thereby eliminates friction of getting an app installed. This provides a very fertile ground for businesses to pitch in their PWA.

The following three metrics can be highlighted to understand the importance of PWA in moulding the future web.

a. Reach : The mobile web audience has grown at a skyrocketing pace over the last few years. Google has reported that Chrome has whooping 1 billion mobile users compared to the erstwhile 400 million users in 2016. As per Comscore’s report the reach of mobile web is 2.5 times more than that of apps, while considering the top 1000 sites and apps. This is the reason why the decision of Flipkart, Myntra etc. to abandon their website and be ‘app only’ backfired. If we could provide a better experience to a wider audience, we could surely get a competitive edge over the others.

b. Acquisition : Another serious concern faced by the mobile apps are their user discoverability compared to websites. The user acquisition cost of web will be 10 times cheaper than that of native apps. With more exposure and low friction for on-boarding, PWA is likely to acquire more users at very less expense.

c. Conversion : The seamless end to end user experience even with flaky networks provided by PWA improves the number of successful conversions. Flipkart launched their PWA ‘Flipkart-lite’, which they claim to have delivered an increase in the conversion rate by 70% with lower acquisition cost.

To sum up : PWA helps to improve conversions by increasing potential reach with low acquisition costs.

3. How to get started ?

Once you get to know a new technology, the next challenge in-line is the decision to adopt it. Most of the people get into a dilemma at this point. Decision should be driven by your specific business need. The following two cases could help you identify the method that fits you to implement PWA.

a) From ground zero

Consider the scenario when a company is building a new website or going through a redesign. In this case, building a PWA from ground zero makes sense and is feasible. This will have the business to harness the power of PWA with AMP, service workers, App shell and Web Manifest. For e.g.. According to Ali Express, once they revamped their website as PWA, they were able to increase their conversion rate for new users by 104%, gained 2X more pages visited per session per user across all browsers and 74% increase in time spent per session across all browsers.

b) A simple version or A Single feature

When building from scratch is not realistic, one can always build a simple version of the website or focus on a single feature that has a high impact for end users. The focus is to deliver a fast, engaging and reliable experience. AirBerlin is an appropriate example in this case. They focussed on the post- booking experience in their PWA. After a passenger has checked in, they can access their journey details and boarding pass even without internet connectivity.

4. Challenges in PWA

There are some challenges in PWA which have to be considered while choosing it.

a) Cross Browser Support : While Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s android browser supports PWA, IE, Edge and Safari are yet to extend their support.

b) Limited Functionality: PWA doesn’t have support for any hardware that is not supported by HTML5

c) Limited Legitimacy: As there is no central download Store for PWA, they lack in giving a sense of legitimacy and confidence which is usually given by native apps from Play Store/App Store.

d) Cross Application Login Support : Native apps have the capability to talk to other apps and authenticate logins (Facebook, Twitter, Google). As a webpage, PWA doesn’t have the capability to communicate with other apps installed.

Conclusion

We can’t say that PWA will kill Native Apps in the future. But still there is a growing interest for this approach in the community. PWAs are still in their infancy with a lot of challenges to be addressed. Yet, they have the potential to create a shift in the way the web works.

Food for Thought

According to Henrik Joreteg, “PWA is the single biggest thing to happen on the mobile web since Steve introduced the iPhone!”

Debatable? Controversial? Agreeable?

Think before the time flies!


Categories
Digital Technology Featured

10 Best CRM Strategy Examples in 2021

Looking for a way to kickstart your business’ CRM strategy? Look no further. Browse our top CRM strategies for 2021, and compare quotes from leading CRM software suppliers


Launching a business venture. Budgeting for the next financial quarter. Hanging on to your get-out-of-jail-free card and building a hotel on Park Lane. Whether in business, life, or the frustrating realm of family board game night, almost everything you’ll ever do requires some kind of strategy. That is, if you want to do it right.

That’s why developing a fully-formed CRM (customer relationship management) strategy is the most important thing your business will do this year. 

A CRM strategy governs the who, what, how, why, and where of your business’ interactions with your clients. It’s how you’ll acquire, sell to, re-engage, and retain your customers, and – ultimately – how you’ll grow your business and bottom line.

The only thing is, CRM strategies (like Monopoly strategies) can be pretty tough to put together. 

Plus, CRM goals, visions, and strategies alone won’t revolutionise your business; and they don’t operate in a vacuum. The brains of your strategy should always go hand in hand with the brawn of a CRM system – and if you don’t have one already, you should look into it.

All that aside, you’re here for some CRM strategy inspiration. But before we get started on our top 10 CRM strategies for UK businesses, a quick word on the distinction between CRM strategy and software – and what it means for you.

CRM: Strategy or Software?

CRM refers to both a strategy, as well as a type of software (or system) for enacting that strategy. So how do they fit together?

Well, while a strategy will guide your approach to your customer relationships, a CRM system will help you implement it. We’re big advocates for CRM systems – and, that being so, the ten CRM strategies below will all require your business to be using CRM software to execute them to their full potential.

If you don’t already use CRM software, don’t fret – it’s easy to get set up with one. 

Simply take our quick questionnaire, providing us with some information about your business’ CRM requirements. When we’re confident that we know exactly what you need – that is, your team size, the particular CRM features you’ll require, and what type of contact management software you already use – we can do our best work.

That involves matching you with CRM suppliers. Not any old companies, though – just those that are a good (the best!) fit for your business. They’ll then be in touch with you directly, to provide tailored CRM quotes and advice.

It takes 30 seconds, and is free for UK-based businesses. And, when you’re done, you’ll have everything you need to plan, develop, and execute your own CRM strategy – and start reaping the rewards.


1. Customer interaction and behaviour tracking

The first and foremost tenet of any good CRM strategy? Knowing your customers.

CRM software takes the guesswork out of tracking how prospects and deals find and interact with your business online. It also allows you to store a wide range of data about current clients, as well as those still being courted. 

Which ad did Geoff click on? Did Beatrice engage with your email, or leave it unread? Which social media platform is Miriama most likely to find you on?

Once you’ve hooked your customers, CRM software then paves the way for you to get to know them a little better. And we don’t just mean their name, email address, or job title. Nope – we’re talking the date and nature of their last engagement with your brand, their previous orders, and their total spend – essentially, exactly what you need to target them with discounts tailored to their particular purchasing preferences.

This CRM strategy example, pulled straight from HubSpot, illuminates how easy the platform makes it to track your clients. 

In addition to Greg’s contact details, you can view how many products he’s bought, how much he’s spent, and when he first made a purchase from your company. You can also email, call, or ‘meet’ him through the CRM’s interface – and any conversations you have with the guy will be recorded in the activity feed.

Of course, storing data comes with a few ethical issues, and you need to ensure that you’re respecting your customers’ privacy. That’s why CRM software is GDPR-compliant, and set up to only retain the customer data that you’re required (and allowed) to keep.

CRM strategy #1: Establish an extensive, ethical database about your customers to learn about how, when, and where they’re interacting with your brand. The more you know them, the better you’ll be able to sell to them.


2. Loyalty and rewards programs

The Tesco Clubcard. Starbucks Rewards. The IKEA Family.

Whether it’s tallying up Avios points or earning ourselves a free coffee, we all love being rewarded for our loyal custom. But is your business taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool? And how do you get started?

CRM software is the easiest, most direct route to fostering customer loyalty. Whether it’s reaching out with a special birthday treat or following up to check on a recent purchase, CRM allows you to personalise and perfect the customer experience.

And, by allowing your customers to accumulate digital currency when they buy, they’ll be more motivated to come back to you – and spend again. After all, why let those points go to waste?

Cosmetics behemoth Sephora provides an excellent example of this particular CRM strategy.

With more than 17 million members, Sephora rewards its customers with tailored offers and discounts. The program is structured in three tiers, so the more you spend, the better the rewards – and the greater the exclusivity.

Better still, Sephora further nurtures customer loyalty and engagement through running an online forum. Here, its members can come together to discuss products, and share user-generated recommendations and advice. 

CRM strategy #2: Reward your best customers with discounts and offers that are personalised to their preferences. Engender exclusivity with a tiered loyalty system, and cultivate user participation through an online community.


3. Tailored, targeted marketing

So, you’re committed to customer interaction and behaviour tracking, with a customer loyalty strategy firmly in place. Now it’s time to get (even more) proactive – to start putting that data into use with marketing campaigns that are hand-crafted to your audience.

Here are four tips to help you build a CRM strategy around more effective marketing:

a) Personalise your emails!

Research suggests that emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened – and it’s not hard to see why. You’re already sending your customer an unsolicited email – the least you can do is address them by name!

Plus, it makes it feel a bit less like bulk marketing (which, of course, it is), while adding a dash of the personal.

Did I open this email? Yes, yes I did. And the food was delicious.

b) Segment your customers

Marketing with a ‘one-size fits all’ kind of approach rarely succeeds. Because, naturally, what works for one customer won’t necessarily resonate with another.

That’s why you need to segment your email lists. With the right marketing CRM software, you can sort your audience by demographic, purchase history, and personal preferences. This ensures the right messages always go to the right people, while helping you steer clear of any embarrassing slip-ups.

c) Be specific!

Being specific about what you’re offering is key to good email marketing. It also helps reduce any mental strain on the reader, allowing you to get straight to the point. Take the following CRM strategy example I received recently:

This discount from ride-sharing app Bolt is an attention-grabber.

I know what the offer is, how many trips I can use it on, and where (and when) I can use it. The stipulations are clear and signposted, and I know exactly where to go if I get stuck (the app).

d) Make it easy to unsubscribe

This may sound counter-intuitive to what you’re trying to achieve, but it’s hugely important.

Making it easy for your user to unsubscribe – ideally, by including a clearly visible link in the email footer – helps you remain GDPR compliant, while minimising annoyance to the reader. Aside from being the right thing to do, it also helps you inspire trust and confidence in your brand, and avoid being ‘spammy’.

Plus, it has benefits for your CRM database, too – clearing out users that are no longer engaged, and freeing up room for more lucrative prospects.

CRM strategy #3: Build a marketing CRM strategy around tailored, personalised emails,. Segment your customer lists to avoid mistakes, and maximise the effectiveness of your marketing messages.


4. Data cleansing and deduplication

Profits, prestige, power – as your business grows, lots of things will come your way, many of which you’ll enjoy. However, we’re guessing that increased media scrutiny isn’t one of them. 

That’s why you’ll want to avoid any high-profile mistakes when communicating with your customers. 

Attempting to sell a product to a customer you should have known was long-deceased, or addressing marketing emails to a married couple that split long ago? These pitfalls can cost you your reputation – and they’re surprisingly easy to fall into.

Fortunately, these kinds of errors can be avoided with the right CRM software. 

By unifying your data into a single system, you avoid entries being duplicated across disparate systems. Sensitive customer data will be easier to manage, cleanse, and regulate – and you can be confident that you’re always working with the most accurate information.

CRM Strategy #4: Prioritise the regular auditing and cleansing of your customer database to eliminate mistakes, and ensure data integrity and relevance.


5. Sharper stakeholder reporting

Stakeholders, shareholders, auditors. The media. If they have anything in common, it’s that they all expect you to be able to deliver an accurate, segmented view of your entire customer base – often at just a moment’s notice.

And, let’s face it – no matter how much of an ‘Excel wizard’ you are, spreadsheets alone aren’t going to cut the mustard here. So what will?

Pulling your range of business and customer data into a single place – and allowing you to manipulate it via a series of online dashboards – analytical CRM software enables a new level of number-crunching. Reports are easy to generate, simple to export, and a breeze to read.

This CRM strategy example from AgileCRM shows how dynamically you can visualise your business’ key customer data. Agile, indeed!

CRM strategy #5: Utilise CRM software to generate internal and external reports about your customer base and business’ health. Increase your credibility and transparency in the eyes of stakeholders and the media – and do it in style.


6. Customer relationship identification

When it comes to cultivating good customer relationships, simple management isn’t enough. You’ll need to identify, too. 

That is, you’ll need to understand not only your relationships with your customers, but what professional or personal relationships they have with each other, too. 

The right CRM software offers a holistic view of your customer database – allowing you to identify where any need-to-know (and potentially profitable) connections occur between your clients.

It also helps to know about personal connections, too. Being aware that a customer has two young children might be important for marketing purposes, for example. But it can also help you avoid major embarrassment – like sending inappropriate sales propositions to your clients’ kids. 

CRM strategy #6: Develop an understanding of your client’s professional and personal connections to better tailor your sales and marketing efforts to them.


7. Customer service team integration

Sure, CRM software does a lot for your sales team. Your marketing department, too. Still, for everything to perform at its peak, you’ll also need to keep your customer service staff in the loop.

Fortunately, that’s easy to do. Your CRM system feeds info about any interactions or successes your sales and marketing teams have had with a client directly to your customer service team. This allows the latter to quickly see what’s gone wrong – and how to fix it.

After all, there’s nothing worse than being stuck on hold – bouncing from one customer service agent to another, and having to explain your issue several times over. It’s bad service, and a common CRM problem. So don’t fall prey to it!

Use a CRM system instead. With everything they need at their disposal via the software’s unified, cloud-based interface, your customer service team will be able to handle issues, requests, and complaints with greater ease and professionalism.

CRM strategy #7: Connect your teams, unify your business, and make knowledge-sharing with your customer service team a top priority.

Up next: Best CRM for Customer Service in 2021


8. Value-added content creation

We’ve discussed the benefits of email marketing – that is, reaching out to customers directly to sell to them. But what about people coming the other way? How do you attract, engage, and convert new, inbound customers to your website – and turn them from prospects into clients?

The answer, of course, is content. 

Whether it’s a blog, an innovative social media strategy, or a downloadable ebook or guide, you need to offer your users something they can’t get elsewhere.

Publishing original content in unique formats – videos, infographics, case studies, whitepapers, tutorials – is an excellent route to establishing yourself as an authority in the eyes of your readers. It’s also a great way to offer them some genuinely entertaining, informative content (with a few call-to-actions along the way, of course!).

Here’s where a CRM system comes in. As well as providing a platform for you to create, curate, schedule, and publish original, SEO-optimised content, it integrates with your social media accounts, to simplify community management.

Salesforce social CRM strategy on devices

Let’s take this CRM strategy example from Salesforce. 

You can monitor keyword trends, review past social media post performance, and assess engagement levels – all from within a single interface. The software also integrates with social media monitoring tools– keeping you forever in the loop as to what your customers are saying about your brand and industry.

For more information, go explore our Salesforce review, updated for 2021.

CRM strategy #8: Creating unique, value-added content for your website and social channels (and monitoring it with a CRM system) adds a whole new dimension to your services. Your customers will love it.


9. Employee empowerment and autonomy

It’s simple arithmetic. Employees + empowerment = productivity. 

There are plenty of ways in which a CRM system can boost employee empowerment. It breaks down data silosfosters more efficient team collaboration, and adds a layer of transparency to every interaction your sales, marketing, and customer service teams have with clients

Not only will your staff feel more accountable and independent, they’ll feel more confident – freed up to use the CRM tools and data at their disposal to make better decisions,

All killer CRM strategies place an emphasis on the people behind the business, rather than solely the profit. So should yours.

CRM strategy #9: Use CRM software to empower your team with greater access to data and improved collaboration.


10. Inspiration from CRM’s big names

When you’re all out of ideas, there’s nothing like turning to the biggest, most successful businesses in the world for inspiration.

Let’s take a look at two: Amazon and Apple.

Amazon Prime CRM recommendationsAmazon’s CRM strategy is built around Prime, its premium subscription service. Prime is designed to personalise the entire purchasing process. Whether it’s sending you an offer for a product you were browsing, or encouraging you to revisit a forgotten shopping cart, Amazon has several CRM tricks up its sleeve.

To find out more, read our detailed Amazon CRM case study.

Pictured: Thanks to Amazon Prime’s persistent, persuasive algorithm, I’m now the proud owner of the latest Mark Edwards thriller… and seven jars of Nutella.

Apple’s CRM strategy, meanwhile, is much more hands-off. 

Led by founder and disruptor Steve Jobs, Apple famously eschewed market research and traditional customer loyalty programs.

Instead, Apple built its brand around its products, with its CRM strategy stemming from how the Silicon Valley giant’s customers interact with its innovative inventions. 

Just think – thousands of videos exist online of Apple users ‘unboxing’ their new iPhone or Apple Watch. Elsewhere, Apple’s physical stores are a hub where potential customers can play and explore Apple’s range without the pressure to purchase – a monument to Apple’s playful, immersive approach to CRM strategy.

Head to our Apple CRM case study to learn more.

CRM strategy #10: Learn from big brand CRM case studies. Make inviting customer participation a key part of your marketing strategy. Tailor your checkout process to re-engage lapsed customers and minimise cart abandonment.

Categories
Digital Technology

14 Additional Ways You Can Use WordPress

We already covered a few reasons why and how you can use WordPress. But let’s have a look at some of the additional and perhaps more uncommon approaches you could take with your site.

1. News Portal

Just providing the news is not enough, you need feeds as well. RSS feeds aren’t dead yet, and are used by many people to integrate with their readers and get a mashup of different feeds. WordPress provides feeds of your posts by default, but you might want to display feeds from various sources. That is when a plugin like the WP RSS Aggregator comes into play. This plugin enables you to select a variety of RSS feeds and display them on your website. A great example of this is WP News Desk.

WP News Desk

2. Real Estate Management System with WordPress

If you’re a company that deals in property and real estate using WordPress, you would probably want a separate plugin to manage your property listings. With the help of some plugins, you could create a website where builders, brokers, and customers come together. You could add a separate search and filter functionality to help your users. Add a payment gateway (which we discuss under e-commerce) and you could manage payments from within your website! A couple popular plugins that can help you do this include Estatik and Easy Property Listings.

Estatik WordPress real estate plugin

And if you’re looking for some more alternatives, check out our review of 8 different WordPress real estate plugins.

3. Knowledgebase/Encyclopedia/Wiki

With WordPress, you can create a robust knowledge base on a niche, an encyclopedia with features like a glossary or even a dictionary. You can associate terms with your glossary, in addition to creating tags and categories. You can create user defined templates for displaying your content and make sure readers can find the answers to everything they need. Many businesses and developers, in fact, utilize knowledgebase plugins such as the Heroic plugin (as seen below) to create docs, which in turn reduce the time needed for support and emails.

Heroic Knowledge Base WordPress plugin

4. eLearning Portal and Courses

Want to create your own Coursera? There are a lot of easy ways to now do this in WordPress with learning management system (LMS) hosting. One of the most popular methods is probably with the LifterLMS plugin. It allows you to create, sell, and protect engaging online courses. The mission of LifterLMS is to democratize education in the digital classroom. Create lessons, build courses, include multimedia lessons, and so much more. In fact, WP101 which we mentioned above utilizes LifterLMS to educate the masses about WordPress.

Creating WordPress courses

5. Appointment Scheduling with WordPress

Be it lawyers, musicians, consultants or doctors; these types of industries all revolve around appointment scheduling and booking patients and or customers in advance. Thankfully, there are a lot of great solutions with WordPress to manage bookings and online appointments right from your site.

Book an appointment in WordPress (Img src: EDD bookings)

For typical WordPress installs, we recommend checking out the Easy Appointments and Booking Calendar plugins. If you are running an ecommerce site, there are the WooCommerce Bookings and EDD Bookings plugins.

6. Invoicing System

Although sites like Nutcache and Freshbooks give you a lot of business tools like time and project management, if you want to do it within your WordPress site, WP-Invoice is a basic, but useful plugin.

WP-Invoice plugin

Create an invoice for your products and services and send them to your clients. You can enable them to pay you directly through your site by integrating a payment gateway like PayPal, Stripe, or Authorize.net. Add any time management plugin, and you can create a system that serves your full business needs.

There are also a lot of great plugins for creating invoices with your current ecommerce WordPress site, such as WooCommerce PDF Invoices and EDD PDF Invoices.

7. Creating a Job portal using WordPress

If you want to convert your WordPress site into a job board, all you need is a plugin. The WP Job Manager lets you add, manage and categorize job listings on your website. It currently has an impressive 100,000+ active installs with a 4 out of 5-star rating. Registered users (or guests) can search, manage and apply for jobs. Employers can manage job listings (fill, edit and delete active listings) too. Here you can read our complete WP Job Manager tutorial.

Job board in WordPress

8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

You can integrate a customer relationship management (CRM) module right into your WordPress site. This can save you time and money from having to bounce around between other third-party systems. And due to the fact that there are some many other WordPress integrations, this might in fact even work better than a more closed off or limited solution.

CRM customers

There are a lot of different WordPress CRM plugins to choose from, in fact, we dove into the top 12. But if you’re just starting we recommend checking out the Zero BS WordPress CRM and WP ERP plugins. Both are developed by devoted developers and have excellent support.

9. Events Management Systems

Run a business where you plan multiple events on a year-round basis? No problem. If you want to create events on your WordPress site and integrate them with a calendar, it’s as simple as 123.  In this post, we cover the best event management plugins. A lot of them have full syncing with iCal, Google calendar, and more.

10. Business Directory Portal

If you want to create a business directory, we recommend checking out the Business Directory plugin. It currently has over 20,000 active installs with a 4.5 out of 5-star rating. You can create local directories, list business providers and generate a yellow pages like listing. You can keep the listing free, or make it available at payment. As for premium modules, you can add a module to rate businesses and a Google Maps module to add locations to your listings.

WordPress business directory example

11. Project Management System

To manage the progress of a project and its subtasks, you need a project management system. Although standalone options like Trello, Asana, and even Github projects are popular among developers (read: git vs Github), certain people might want options within WordPress for such a system.

For those people, we would recommend a plugin like WP Project Manager or Kaban.

WordPress project management example

12. Forum

Forums might not be as popular as they used to be, but they are still a destination for many users seeking the answers they need. The easiest solution to creating a forum out of your WordPress site is bbPress. It’s a lightweight plugin for WordPress, developed by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress.com. It currently has over 300,000 active installs with a 4 out of 5-star rating. bbPress comes with the ability of plugins and themes, to customize the functionality, look and feel of the core plugin. It best of all, it’s free! For more options please take a look at our post dedicated to the topic: Top 9 WordPress Forum Plugins.

Example of bbPress WordPress forum

13. Crowdsourcing

There is a multitude of plugins out there that allow you to run your own crowdfunding websites in WordPress. You set up a cause, and integrate a payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe to accept payments. In fact, you can enable a feature where people are only charged if you reach your goal! We took a look recently at the top 6 crowdfunding plugins for WordPress.

WordPress crowdfunding example

If you are just starting out we recommend checking out the WP Crowdfunding plugin, and if you’re dealing with donations, the Give plugin is also very popular.

14. Social Network

If you want a mini Facebook within your website, BuddyPress is what you should look for. It allows you to create a social network for your company or organization. It allows users to set up profiles, post messages, connect with each other and create communities. BuddyPress has its own set of plugins for further functionalities. In general, BuddyPress provides a simple, yet good user experience if you want to create a minimal social network within your website.

BuddyPress

So, Why Use WordPress? Because It Rocks

WordPress has a strong following all over the world. Some developers would rather use other platforms, but that often has to do with learning certain coding languages and throwing themselves in less user-friendly environments. As for bloggers, business owners, developers with clients, and ecommerce professionals, WordPress is the right choice. Not only do you maintain complete control over your site, but you receive great advantages like plugins, themes, free tools, and full media support.

Hopefully, we’ve answered your question, “Why Use WordPress?” And if someone asks you the question, just send them over here. If you still have some thoughts or concerns, let us know in the comments below.

Categories
Digital Technology Featured

Why Use WordPress? A Deep Dive Into 10 Good Reasons

Why Use WordPress? A Deep Dive Into 10 Good Reasons

If you find yourself wondering, “Why use WordPress?” you’ve come to the right place. Pondering this question means you’ve at least researched WordPress a bit or heard about it from a friend or colleague. But that doesn’t mean you’ve completely weighed any pros and cons or checked out the features in-depth.

Therefore, we’d like to break down the benefits of using WordPress for you, giving a clear view as to why it’s the most popular content management system and website building software in the world. WordPress can really do just about anything!

The Website Dilemma – Why Use WordPress?

For average business owners, names like WordPressJoomlaShopifyMagentoWix, and Weebly might sound like alien names. The process of building a website brings these names into your life, since they’re all platforms used to build websites. Each has its own benefits, while many are used more often for niche websites with specific purposes. For instance, Shopify only makes sense if you’re running an online store. It’s not a platform you would start a blog with then turn into an eCommerce shop (check out Shopify alternatives to compare solutions). Magento is in the same boat. Other website builders and platforms have more flexibility, and those are typically the ones that are most popular.

Everything from Squarespace to Wix has wonderful tools for certain skill levels, but we’re going to explain why you should use WordPress over all of them.

Using WordPress is a no-brainer. There’s a reason 34% of the web uses it. 😉

 

1. The Software is Free and Open-Source

Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are completely free to use. You can learn about the difference between the two here, but in short, WordPress.org is a self-hosted version where you control more of your site and take advantage of advanced plugins. WordPress.com works great for complete beginners, but it’s not exactly the best for a business that plans on making money so moving away from WordPress.com makes sense. It does have higher paid plans, but we recommend it for personal and hobby blogs.

But moving on, WordPress is free for anyone to download. It’s an open-source project that’s been around since 2003. This means that WordPress is developed by a collection of contributors. Open-source projects are typically free, with large communities. The users often take part in this community as beta testers or simple brand advocates, but there’s really no requirement for any participation if that’s not your style.

Warning: Although the WordPress software is free, you will most likely end up spending a bit of money. WordPress is self-hosted, so hosting is required. This can start at around $3 per month, for the really cheap shared servers, and go all the way to up to a few hundred per month for those needing ultimate speed and performance (Like with Kinsta).

You can typically find themes and plugins for free, but the premium (paid) ones often provide better features and quality support. Finally, many WordPress users end up paying for additional services, whether it be from freelancers or agencies. For instance, you might pay a freelancer to design a logo for you or adjust some of the CSS code on your site. Other WordPress users are keen on keeping graphic designers or maintenance experts on call. It all depends on your experience and the scale of your website.

But overall, you can absolutely keep your WordPress costs to a minimum. Many webmasters end up only paying for hosting.

See it in Action:

When you navigate to the WordPress.org website, it explains the basics about the platform, but the only button (besides the regular menu) is a link to “Get WordPress.”

WordPress.org

This brings you to a free download page, which is updated frequently depending on the newest release (currently WordPress 5.2+). This provides an instant taste of how the WordPress software is presented to users. You’re not bombarded by banner ads or prompted to complete a survey before downloading the free software. You see a basic page with some descriptions, beta releases, requirements, source code, archives, and a download counter. It delivers multiple download options (like .zip and .tar.gz files,) along with the proper instructions to install the WordPress software on your own.

Download latest version of WordPress

The Easy Installation Method

If you’re looking for an even easier installation method, we recommend looking towards your hosting company. The most reputable hosts have one-click installation buttons for getting WordPress running within minutes. At Kinsta, installing WordPress is as easy as clicking on “Add Site.”

Install WordPress

That way there’s no need to manage files and upload them through an FTP. Managed WordPress hosting companies take it a step further by handling the entire installation, maintenance, security, and backups down the road.

As for updates, you don’t have to go back to the download page every time a new WordPress version is released. Instead, WordPress lets you know about the update in the dashboard, where you can usually complete the process in less than one minute.

2. It Adapts So You Can Make Any Type of Website

One of the common misconceptions about WordPress is that it’s mainly for building blogs. At one point in time that was, in fact, the case. WordPress was developed as a blogging platform, but that has changed drastically with the various new releases over the years.

In fact, WordPress is at an advantage due to its blogging roots. It’s by far one of the cleanest, fastest ways to write and publish blog posts, and that’s all included right from the start. Some website building tools think about design and apps first, then the blogging interface comes in as an afterthought.

That’s not the case with WordPress, so you can create a beautiful ecommerce site and know that the blog is an integral part of the development process.

See it in Action:

The list is endless, but here’s a taste of the types of websites you can make with WordPress:

  • Blogs
  • Business websites
  • Portfolios
  • Forums
  • ECommerce sites
  • Ratings websites
  • Membership sites
  • eLearning modules
  • Chatrooms
  • Galleries
  • Personal websites for self-promotion
  • Job boards
  • Business directories
  • Q&A websites like Quora
  • Non-profit websites for collecting donations
  • Wikis and knowledgebases
  • Media-centric sites like YouTube
  • Auction and coupon sites

Clearly, the list goes on and on. The good news with WordPress is that the functionality for things like forums and ecommerce websites is achieved with simple plugins and themes. So, for instance, if I wanted to make an online portfolio for my web design business, I could go with the theme below. All it would require is a small one-time fee, an upload of some demo data, and whatever changes I wanted to make myself.

WordPress portfolio site

The screenshot below is a rather popular ecommerce theme that pairs with the WooCommerce plugin. WooCommerce is one of the primary ways you turn your regular WordPress website into a functioning online store, with payment processing, a shopping cart, and product galleries. Check out this in-depth tutorial on how to install WooCommerce.

WordPress ecommerce store

There are also plenty of other eCommerce plugins like Easy Digital Downloads (typically used for selling digital products) and WP Ecommerce. Check out this in-depth tutorial on how to install Easy Digital Downloads.

The final example below shows a forum. This website was constructed using a theme, but you might also consider looking around the internet for some forum plugins. Several are available if you already have a cool theme picked out but it doesn’t have forum functionality. And that’s exactly how to accomplish different types of websites with WordPress. Write down the feature you need, then go to Google and see if there are any plugins or themes to fit your needs. I’ll bet you’ll always find good results.

WordPress forum example

3. It Supports Numerous Media Types

Feel free to check out the long list of accepted file types for WordPress, but know that the following primary categories are all accepted:

  • Images
  • Documents
  • Audio
  • Video

In my own experience, I’ve never had WordPress tell me that a file is not supported. You can expect to upload common files like .jpg, .png, .gif .pdf, .doc, .pptx, .mp3, .m4a, .mp4, .mov, .wmv, and .avi. Along with that, you won’t have any problems with more obscure file types like .odt, .key, .ogg, and .3gp.

And while the are some file formats, such as SVGs, that aren’t allowed, there are good solutions to get around this. Check out this tutorial on how to safely upload SVGs in WordPress. In short, if you’d like to put a photo, gif, video or document on your website, it’s usually fair game with WordPress. It’s even common to host documents and presentations on a website without publishing them on a specific page.

A Word of Warning

Yes, WordPress supports pretty much any type of media. However, you should follow the rules and only legally use media that’s either owned by you, open for free downloads, or usable when credit is given.

Here are some places to find legal media such as photos and video:

Check out this full list of places to find free images for WordPress.

See it in Action:

As an excellent example of WordPress media support, the Sony Music website promotes both music tracks and videos. Therefore, you can often find several forms of video and audio clips on the website. Furthermore, it’s a picture-heavy website, as you can see with the large Kenny Chesney picture in the header. Although some website builders are getting better at media support, it seems like you’ll almost always find something that isn’t allowed.

Sony – WordPress media example

The Variety website also uses WordPress, and its homepage is littered with items like background images, short video clips, movie trailers, animations, music tracks, and galleries from film shoots and TV shows. It’s tough to find a better example than Variety, since every single article written for the entertainment magazine has something to do with media.

Variety – WordPress media example 2

4. It’s Easy to Learn and Has a Huge Community

As an open-source software, WordPress can be used by anyone. The userbase isn’t limited by pricing, premium customer support, or even skill level. Sure, there are plenty of things to learn about WordPress, but any person could play around with the dashboard for ten minutes and start to absorb how the interface works.

And since there aren’t many roadblocks to gaining access to the software, users have made blogs, forums, online courses, seminars, webinars, and books, all outlining different aspects of the WordPress platform. Then there’s the more official customer support from WordPress. You can either pay extra money for dedicated support or work through the WordPress forums.

It’s truly incredible how many resources there are for learning about WordPress or having quick development questions answered. For instance, you might follow a blog like this to receive a consistent flow of WordPress tips in your email inbox. On the other hand, you can also search Google to locate immediate solutions (WPBeginner is known for quick fixes).

See it in Action:

We see the WordPress community as assisting with two parts of the learning process:

  • Organized training for long-term knowledge.
  • Quick solutions to your WordPress problems.

WordPress training can be found for free or for a charge, but one thing’s certain: The best courses online are well-organized, affordable, and packed with information you can use yourself, give to clients, or share with your employees. For example, the WP101 website is a well-known training spot with flawless video course on the following topics:

  • WordPress 101
  • WooCommerce 101
  • The Yoast SEO plugin

Learn WordPress tutorials

Once you learn about WordPress through a training course, you’re going to end up working with your very own websites. Since traditional dedicated support isn’t provided through WordPress, you’ll need to turn to blogs, forums, Google, and other communities onlineThe primary WordPress support forum should do the trick for most of your development situations. In the screenshot below it shows topics for fixing WordPress, networking with WordPress, localhost installs, regular installations, and more. I’m personally more of a “Google it and see what comes up” type of researcher, but both forums and blogs are crucial to resolving problems in a timely manner.

As for premium plugins and themes, those developers typically provide their own dedicated support through knowledge bases, forums, ticketing systems, and email.

WordPress support forums

5. You Can Scale Up and Expand Your Website with Themes and Plugins

We’ve already discussed how the WordPress themes and plugins make it easy for you to construct a website, but these elements are also essential for scaling up. For a standard blog, you’ll install a theme, adjust the design, then start blogging. The same goes for a business website or portfolio.

It’s common for the themes to serve as the site’s foundation. After that, the design work is minimal besides some color changes, logo additions, and of course, the new pages and blog posts.

But every once in awhile you realize that something new needs to be added to your website. Maybe your customers are clamoring for a membership section of your site, or maybe you realized that a monthly quiz is a great way to get customers to interact with your brand. In both of these situations, a plugin rectifies the issue.

For instance, there are plenty of excellent membership plugins that convert part of your site into a community. Some of them are free, while others you have to pay for. The same goes for quiz plugins. We have a list of the best quiz plugins on the market, and that’s only a taste of the selection.

Site Expansion Isn’t Only Done with Plugins

Yes, plugins typically run the show when it comes to adding functionality to your site. Most of the time you only need one theme at site launch.

But as your site grows, you’ll start to notice different needs for your own site, along with changes in the industry. A great example of this was when Google started rewarding mobile responsive websites. Within a year it seemed like all WordPress theme developers began selling mobile-friendly designs. Therefore, lots of website owners needed to go out and get new themes.

It’s also common for growing websites to get new themes for the following reasons:

  • A fresh look is needed.
  • It’s required to switch from a free theme to a more powerful premium one.
  • The website owner wants better customer support from the theme developer.
  • There has been a shift in what the business offers online.
  • The site owner needs different tools that plugins can’t deliver.

See it in Action:

Looking for a WordPress theme is as simple as completing a Google search. You can find an onslaught of lists covering the different categories of WordPress themes. Try searching “real estate WordPress themes” or “flat WordPress themes,” and you’ll see plenty of choices. However, your best bet is to pick from a trusted WordPress theme shop and or developer. This ensures you get quality support, fast and well optimized code, and updates for the long haul.

WordPress theme shop

Here’s a list of some reputable and well-known theme hotspots:

There are also online theme marketplaces. However, be careful with these as sometimes developers will drop off the face of the planet, leaving you with an unsupported theme. But they also have a large variety, and high-quality themes do exist, you just have to look a little harder:

Plugins are similar to themes in that you can find both free and premium versions. The only difference is that free plugins are far more commonly used by actual business websites. Free themes are nice for personal and beginner blogs, but the pros usually spend the $50-$100 to get a much nicer premium theme. Read our in-depth post on WordPress free vs paid themes for a little more insight into which might be better for you.

That’s not always the case with plugins though, since many of the best plugins have always been free. You can search for new plugins through your WordPress dashboard or go to the WordPress plugin library. This library has over 50,000 plugins, most of which are free (or in some form of a freemium business model). The library has everything from caching to forum plugins, and spam to social media plugins. Installing a plugin takes no more than a few minutes, and each of the plugin pages include screenshots, feature lists, and even some demos.

WordPress plugin repository

Many premium plugins are sold throughout the internet as well. The main difference between a free and premium plugin is that you often get better customer support with a paid plugin. Here are some great places to search for premium plugins:

6. It Doesn’t Take a Genius to Manage

Website development companies often sell pricey packages where they ask for an upfront downpayment and recurring monthly payment for maintenance. The only problem is that WordPress isn’t all that difficult to manage if you learn the ropes and go through the proper training. Website management typically involves a few things:

  1. Making sure the server is okay.
  2. Keeping checks on security.
  3. Running backups.
  4. Updating plugins, themes, and the WordPress software.
  5. Managing spam.
  6. Testing for functionality and broken links.
  7. Making improvements in speed and SEO.

You don’t personally check on the server, so it’s more about you getting a good host and seeing if the site is running at all times. Security and backups are either handled with plugins or through a managed WordPress hosting plan. Everything else on the list only needs to be done on occasion. For example, here at Kinsta backups are automatically taken every day, stored for 14 days, and can be restored with a click of a button.

Restore WordPress backup

For instance, you’ll probably want to install a caching plugin to help with website speed. The same goes for SEO. Managing spam is completed with the Akismet plugin, and there are some plugins out there for broken links.

See it in Action:

One of the only manual maintenance tasks is updating plugins, themes, and WordPress itself. The good news is that WordPress notifies you when updates are released. Therefore, you make the updates whenever you see the warnings. It usually takes less than a minute for any updates, then you can get back to work.

Update WordPress plugins

Everything else (like SEO, backups, speed, security, broken links, and spam) can be managed using plugins. For instance, the WP Time Capsule plugin is a wonderful tool for setting both incremental file and database backups. The plugin runs in the background. If a file gets corrupted, or your site crashes, the restore function is there to solve the problem.

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WordPress backups

Also, check out these three organizational tips for WordPress users which can help make managing the admin dashboard a little easier.

7. SEO Comes First

WordPress is known for having SEO built into the platform. In fact, WordPress automatically generates title tags and meta descriptions for all of your pages and posts. This lets search engines know about your content, and it will get you indexed and potentially moved up in the rankings. As with everything in WordPress, there are also more advanced features offered by plugins and online tools. Here are some SEO favorites to consider:

See it in Action:

The Yoast SEO plugin is also a must-have for any WordPress site. The default SEO tools in WordPress are great, but Yoast takes it to the next level.

Below is one section of Yoast that asks you for a focus keyword. This could be for either a page or blog post. Upon targeting that focus keyword, Yoast analyses the current post or page and shares how effective you are at targeting the keyword. You’ll see the keyword density, thoughts on the keyword locations, SEO title mentions, page title suggestions, and more. It’s basically a giant checklist for you to make your SEO the best it can be on every page.

Yoast SEO focus keyword

Check out this post with 45+ SEO tips and this about the best WordPress SEO plugins to start ramping up your organic traffic.

8. You Have Full Control of Your Website

A Google search for “website builders” or “website platforms” will reveal all sorts of results. WordPress will most likely be on all website building lists, along with competition like WIX, Squarespace, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, Weebly, and Jimdo. All of these are perfectly fine for making websites, but the non-open source ones, like Squarespace, Shopify, and WIX, limit your control to whatever features are offered in the premium packages.

That leaves you with some limitations like the following:

  1. The ecommerce functionality is usually built-in, so there’s not much you can do about expanding with plugins.
  2. You’re typically stuck with whatever hosting is provided. You don’t have the freedom to test hosts and go with the best value or highest performing.
  3. Adjusting code is limited to what the companies share with you. Even worse, you get stuck with a completely unique coding language, like with Shopify (It uses a language called Liquid). In short, it almost guarantees that you have to hire a specialized developer for changes you can’t handle yourself through the editor.
  4. You don’t technically have full ownership of your site and content. You’re renting the website from these companies. So when you stop paying, all of those files and pages are either lost or held by the company. With WordPress, you own the files, and no one can prevent you from moving them to other hosts.

See it in Action:

The Appearance tab is the control center for all customizations in WordPress. It’s where you have free rein over themes, fonts, colors, widgets, menus, logos, and code. Just about anything you can think of can be adjusted in this area. It’s great for beginners, intermediates, and advanced users, since it limits the amount of code you touch, while also speeding up the development process.

Furthermore, several themes have their own customization modules, or you could install a drag-and-drop editor to almost remove the need for coding.

Customize WordPress appearance

As for the advanced edits, all website files are accessible through the WordPress dashboard, your hosting account, or through a local environment. Whether you’re trying to insert a snippet of code for Google Analytics, or you’re attempting a complete overhaul of the landing page’s CSS, WordPress has you covered.

WordPress appearance editor

9. The Blogging is Hands Down the Best in the Business

WordPress was born as a blogging platform. It’s had its competitors, but nothing currently compares to the power, elegance, and advanced tools you find in the WordPress blogging engine. Options like Tumblr, Medium, Ghost, and Blogger are all perfectly fine for hobbyists, but the pros go for WordPress. An incredible set of tools is located inside the WordPress blog editor.

You can run a simple, one-author blog by taking advantage of the formatting and media tools. There’s also the option to build a full online magazine by scheduling posts far in advanced and setting multiple user types for contributors and editors. Along with options for previewing, editing everything in the post, and keeping code completely out of the equation, you really can’t beat WordPress.

See it in Action:

One advantage of the WordPress blogging platform is the permissions or user roles. Let’s say you run the site as an administrator. This means you have access to the files, all plugins, SEO, and security tools. You hire an editor and three writers to create content for the blog. The only problem is that you don’t want them messing with anything besides the blog posts.

Therefore, you can set the one person as an Editor role and the others as Contributors. The Editor can now edit and publish posts, while the Contributors can create posts but not publish them.

WordPress roles and permissions

We can also look at the blogging interface to see how powerful and well-organized it is. You can add media and change formatting with the click of a button. It lets you change the title and permalink at the top, and there are options for categories, tags, and readability. Revisions are displayed for going back and recovering past versions, and the Preview and Publish buttons are waiting for you until the very end.

WordPress editor

The Visual view renders the HTML, similar to what the end users are going to see. You can also switch to the Text view, which reveals all your post content in HTML format.

WordPress HTML text view

10. Everyone is Doing It

So jump off the bridge with them! Okay, just because every else is doing something isn’t always the greatest reason to follow along. But WordPress has proven itself time and again, so the word has gotten out about its performance, expandability, and ease-of-use. There’s a reason why over 29.3% of all websites on the internet use WordPress.

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Patrick Coombe, a well-known SEO, asked a question for website owners and marketers on inbound.org: “If you could start your website over, what would you change?” Here’s what Larry Kim, the founder of WordStream, had to say:

WordPress vs Drupal

You can read more about the two platforms here: WordPress vs Drupal – Which One is Better? (Pros and Cons)

Clearly, WordPress is doing something right. You also don’t have to sacrifice much to test it out. As mentioned, the WordPress software is free, and most hosting companies have some sort of money back guarantee.

Most experienced WordPress users will praise the developers on their constant updates and improvements. What’s cool is that whenever an update is released there’s an informational page that outlines how the update will improve the WordPress experience.

See it in Action:

62% of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the US (Inc. 5000) use WordPress. – Nelio Software

WordPress has a full showcase of brands using WordPress, which includes everything from the Houston Zoo, the Obama Foundation, and even Toyota. Some other notables include The Tribune Media Group, jQuery, Plesk, The Chicago Sun-Times, Dyn, Nginx, TechCrunch, and many more. Check out this list of the top 130+ sites using WordPress.

WordPress showcase