Prioritizing Your Inbound Marketing Strategies for 2021

Marketing is a continually evolving landscape. You know this. We know this. But 2020 presented a different challenge than previous years, leaving marketers to dig deep into what they need to do to attract and nurture leads and customers.

2021 will be no different – which shouldn’t make you panic! Part of marketing is doing your due diligence, and we’ve combined resources to come up with some powerful strategies to consider prioritizing in 2021.

SMS Marketing

The popularity of SMS was already accelerating pre-COVID, but the pandemic made the importance of quick, timely, relevant messages more necessary than ever. People needed fast updates on everything, from closures to switches to remote learning. And SMS marketing provided that, plus an average 98% read rate.

SMS marketing is also useful for both leads and customers in non-COVID-related campaigns, as you can implement various campaigns that are engaging to both audiences. For example, for current customers, you can send them text reminders of appointments or meetings. For leads, you may consider sending them branding awareness campaigns or coupons that may encourage them to buy from you.

The best part? With a platform like SMSZap, getting started with SMS marketing is a breeze. You can set up your account in a few minutes, link up with your contacts in HubSpot, and send personalized and engaging messages.

Content Marketing

COVID restrictions sent most people home at one point – to shop or work, or both. This made the demand for digital consumption skyrocket. What does that mean for your efforts in 2021? Your content needs to be high-caliber and plentiful, as well as:

  • Interactive
  • Emphatic
  • Engaging
  • Relevant to current events (2020 saw everything from social change, major elections, and COVID)
  • Made for the diverse crowds

That translates to creating and sharing educational, quality content about your products, services, and your company to your prospects and customers. You can use various resources like blogs, ebooks, infographics, social media, and videos to deliver your messages. No matter what type of content it is, it should address your target audiences’ specific pain points at every stage of their buyer’s journey, including the awareness, consideration, decision, and delight stages.

Video

Video can technically be considered a part of your content marketing – but its importance in our “new normal” isn’t something to shrug your shoulders. People longed for some human connection that they couldn’t get in person. Think about how you can use video in your previously “typical” marketing efforts. Are you switching to more online conferences, events, or webinars? These remote types of content are not going anywhere soon.

Similarly, video is just proven to be a useful tactic. In fact, 79% of consumers reported that a brand’s video convinced them to buy a piece of software or an app. A whopping 92% of those viewers also said they shared videos with others. That alone should help you realize the value of investing in video creation and distribution.

Chatbots and Customer Support Automation

When COVID initially hit, people scrambled to cancel flights, hotels, concerts, trips, appointments; you name it. The importance of a quick and solid customer support experience was integral. But customers weren’t the only ones dealing with the consequences of such an uncertain year. Support agents were hit with an influx of tickets to their helpdesk. Fortunately, chatbots and other customer support automation helped and will continue to in 2021.

Chatbots automate specific tasks and conversations by speaking with a customer or prospect through an easy-to-use interface. They lighten your teams’ workloads by tackling more straightforward conversational functions that are necessary but can eat up time. Advanced customer service automation can offload a large portion of support tickets with a high degree of accuracy. These resources also delight users because more and more people want information as quickly as possible and don’t mind speaking over a chat application.

Social Media

2020 certainly had a prevailing theme, and it was that a lot of people were at home for a good portion of it. Because of this, more people were also on their phones searching for news and updates from their favorite brands. One of the most common places to find this is generally a company’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Brands recognized this too. In fact, social media budgets accounted for 24% of all marketing budgets during the second quarter of 2020. And the momentum kept. There’s tremendous opportunity to ride these coattails and continue engaging and re-engaging with new and existing customers through fun, engaging social media campaigns or advertising.

SEO

When the pandemic subsides, businesses with brick and mortar locations will likely want to send as many people as possible back into their stores. Local search engine optimization (SEO) can help. Try:

  • Optimizing your “Google My Business Page”
  • Including local keywords throughout your website content
  • Strengthening your social media presence and including location-specific content

Position Zero, or Google’s featured snippet, should also take precedence in 2021. As humans become more reliant on technology, they expect the best answer as fast as possible. Position Zero has the most relevant information that answers that user’s question without clicking on any link. Some advice on getting a featured snippet includes:

  • Figure out what your company can get a snippet for
  • Writing out the exact question you’re trying to answer in your website or blog content
  • Use lists or tables
  • Research related questions and answers – any question can lead to another!
  • Create high-quality content that isn’t stuffed with keywords .

Another vital thing to consider when tackling SEO is to remember that people are searching for things differently now. People are asking more questions or phrases rather than just words. They’re also using devices like Alexa or Google Home. Search engines recognize this more nuanced context, meaning, and intent to deliver results, so keep it in mind for 2021. 

By: Kelly Groover

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Clwyd Probert

https://www.whitehat-seo.co.uk/ This presentation was made my Karen Rafferty from HubSpot as part of a seminar at the London HubSpot User Group in London. This video will show you the best tips for implementing a great inbound marketing strategy. You can download the free eBook here: https://info.whitehat-seo.co.uk/tips-… The full transcript of the video can be found here: https://blog.whitehat-seo.co.uk/inbou… Slides can be downloaded here: https://info.whitehat-seo.co.uk/londo… A summary article covering the main points is available here: https://blog.whitehat-seo.co.uk/tips-… We propose is to start to deploy a strategy to both your sales and marketing activities in your business.

It’s important just to reiterate here that with inbound marketing what we’re essentially doing is trying to focus on attracting good fit leads or opportunities for your business. And we do that through producing meaningful content that can enable you to have meaningful interactions with potential customers. It’s about just having good social etiquette. I’m, it’s not about interrupting people, it’s about actually being helpful, being responsive. Being very human in the way that you employ your marketing and your sales strategy. Which of the strategy from the video works best for you in 2018. Let me know by leaving a quick comment below. Details of the next London HUG event #LondonHUG can be found here: https://www.whitehat-seo.co.uk/hubspo…

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The 10 Biggest Business Trends For 2021 Everyone Must Be Ready For

While there are many who can’t wait to bid adieu to 2020, there’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic and the ways businesses had to adjust to ensure their survival changed the trajectory of what 2021 will look like and what businesses should do to get ready for the upcoming year. As a futurist, I help companies understand the latest trends and technologies and offer guidance on how to prepare their businesses for them. Here are the top 10 trends that will drive every business in 2021. I believe every business around the world needs to be ready for these trends.

Work from Home. . .For Real!

When employees were under lockdown orders due to COVID, companies had to quickly adapt operations to a remote workforce. Now that there are some distance and lessons learned from that initial experiment, most businesses are now rethinking their entire business model. Are offices still needed? Some companies experienced an increase in productivity when their workforce went remote.

However, working from home wasn’t ideal for others. Therefore in 2021, businesses need to reimagine their own workspaces as well as provide the proper support for people working from home, such as outfit them with the right office equipment, mental health support, and more so everyone can work from home comfortably.

Data as an Asset

Over the last few years, data volumes have grown massively. The businesses that leveraged this data to better understand their customers and to improve their decision-making are clearly the ones that are outperforming everyone else. Cloud solutions allow us to access data from anywhere. Businesses need to protect and secure data just as they would any other asset.

Another important thing for businesses to consider is how to boost data literacy in their company in 2021 in order to glean decision-making insights from it. This also requires an investment in systems that can efficiently and effectively process, analyze, and store the data streaming into the organization.

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Business Model Innovation

In 2021, every business leader needs to reflect on what they’re offering customers and how they operate as a business. There were lots of industries that were completely transformed in 2020, such as the hospitality and events industry. The businesses that are currently thriving even during a pandemic are those that reacted quickly to the changes. For example, restaurants that pivoted to enable expanded take-out abilities or Formula 1 companies that were producing ventilators altered their typical operations to ensure survival. Although businesses have always had to think about how the market is shifting and what transformations that means for business, it will be more important in 2021 to innovate your business model.

Automation

Another top business trend in 2021 will be automation. Businesses will evaluate their business processes to see where they can take people out of the process when they aren’t adding any true value. There have already been quite a few shifts in this direction from warehouses, supply chains, autonomous vehicles, trucks, and ships, as well as chatbots that automatically take over customer service inquiries. In 2021, I expect that white-collar automation will be a trend as we consider what bits of a lawyer, doctor, or other white-collar professional’s jobs can be given over to computers and smart robots and delivered through automated interfaces.

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Decentralized Finance

As a result of the economic turmoil COVID-19 left in its path, capital markets continue to be nervous. This creates a challenge for businesses that want to raise capital to expand or start a new business. One solution for raising capital has been crowdfunding, blockchain technology, and other decentralized finance options. This will be a big trend in 2021 that will allow businesses to acquire capital easier than through traditional channels. 

Virtual Interfaces

As companies raced to find new ways of delivering service to customers that were not walking into stores, they began to consider how to deliver some of the services in digital forms using technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. To comply with stay-at-home orders, people would use virtual avatars to “try” on make-up, eyewear, and clothes. Ultimately, this “try before you buy” with virtual interfaces will transform how businesses offer their services.

Going from Global to Local

In 2020 there were a lot of reasons to begin to think more locally rather than globally—COVID-10 disrupted international supply chains, there were increasing tensions between the U.S. and China, and Brexit was delivered. Companies began to rethink where they were sourcing and selling their goods because international turmoil could disrupt business. More localized manufacturing and selling are also appealing for environmental awareness.

Purposeful & Meaningful

There’s a trend to have more purpose and meaning in our jobs. Younger generations that are entering the workforce want to connect with a purpose or work for a company that has real meaning. Companies that don’t have a clear or meaningful purpose will struggle to attract talent and customers.

Sustainability

Sustainability has been a concern for some time, but during the pandemic, things shifted in emphasis. As disruptive as the coronavirus was to business, companies are recognizing the environmental crisis could be much more damaging to the world as well as the bottom line than the pandemic. Therefore, every company needs to rethink operations, environmental impact, and their products and how they are being used. This trend of sustainability links closely to the previous trend of a meaningful purpose as companies work to reduce their carbon and water footprint.

Social Engagement

During the pandemic, brands relied on engaging with their customers and potential customers across social media. In 2021, there will be a big push toward a more authentic presence on social media and one that’s less curated by social media experts, such as real behind-the-scenes looks at a company. Along with this will be engaging influencers and micro-influencers in your industry—those key people who are driving conversations and engage with your customers.

If you would like to learn more about technology trends, then have a look at my new books: Tech Trends in Practice: The 25 Technologies That Are Driving The 4th Industrial Revolution and The Intelligence Revolution: Transforming Your Business With AI. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Bernard Marr

 Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies. He helps organisations improve their business performance, use data more intelligently, and understand the implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains, and the Internet of Things. Why don’t you connect with Bernard on Twitter (@bernardmarr), LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernardmarr) or instagram (bernard.marr)?

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Business Disruptors

Here are 6 trends/industries that are growing faster since the pandemic hit, and you can find many business ideas around them. When looking for business ideas, it’s always a great bet to focus on new trends which result in growing markets and therefore many new opportunities. PS: Sorry for the typo in the video! 😉 Get Business Strategy course here 👉 https://disruptors.academy/business Get Entrepreneurship course here 👉 https://disruptors.academy/startup#business#businessideas

Business Disruptors

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3 Chat Automation Tools That Accelerate Sales Growth

Companies in most industries are struggling. According to LinkedIn’s June 2020 U.S. Recovery Tracker, key factors in the labor market haven’t improved, such as hiring rate, job postings and employer confidence. It’s important for businesses to find opportunities that maintain or grow revenue, as well as operate cost-efficiently given the new normal in U.S. consumer and B2B demand.

However, there are long-term trends that are too disruptive to ignore. A seismic change in consumer behavior is the growing use of messaging apps for more than sending and receiving texts. Ecommerce and social messaging apps are enabling internet shoppers to send payments, book reservations, watch multimedia and purchase items, among many features. Chatbots are unleashing the power of social and ecommerce by providing customer support 24/7, year-round. 

There are a number of artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted conversational bots that can help give your enterprise a competitive edge in acquiring sales, automating customer support and saving money. Here are three I personally recommend. 

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

1. School of Bots

Founded in 2016, veteran strategists at San Diego, California-based School of Bots help marketers and companies acquire sales, automate operations and provide 24/7 customer engagement, largely through chatbots deployed on Facebook Messenger and SMS, with training available for other big messaging platforms. School of Bots’s experts teach proven strategies on platforms with whom they have close partnerships and create custom chatbot marketing systems for startups and consultants alike. An example of such a tailor-made bot might accompany a prospect down the sales funnel and nudge him or her into an eventual transaction. 

“This year, more people are using messaging apps than social media platforms, according to eMarketer, and that could indicate a major shift in consumer behavior,” says Kyle Willis, CEO of School of Bots. E-HUB, the company’s chatbot training platform, gives members access to checklists, instructional videos, standard operating procedures and hands-on mentorship. After undergoing training, members are accredited to offer consulting and agency services. Moreover, the platform enables participants to earn certifications, hire qualified bot builders or get hired and connect with fellow members in a virtual coworking space.

School of Bots works with tools such as ManyChat, which provides reach through Facebook and, explains School of Bots cofounder Natasha Takahashi,  “has superior capabilities for automation and tracking that allow us to produce maximum ROI.”

2. Drift

Bots can be a partial solution for businesses that have laid off customer-support staff during the recession. Automated bots prevent consumers from visiting competing sites, and therefore help to capture sales opportunities. Moreover, they streamline operations and boost productivity. They can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions, book a meeting with a sales rep, troubleshoot problems and move online shoppers towards checkout. 

Drift positions itself as a “conversational marketing platform” to emphasize the revenue-generating features of its bots. The company is a well-known solutions provider that installs chatbots that are able to qualify leads 24/7/365. Drift’s bots are used by large brands such as GrubHub, GitHub, Marketo and Ellie Mae. The tech is also geared more towards B2B sales and enterprise use cases. Drift’s conversational AI can tell when a user is making a statement (instead of asking a question) so that it can recommend certain products and display pricing. Other features include automatically booking meetings, as well as routing conversations to a sales team.

According to a Drift survey published on Salesforce.com, people use bots for these top reasons: 32 percent get an answer to a question; 29 percent get a detailed explanation; 27 percent resolve a problem; and 27 percent receive customer service. Bots give businesses a competitive advantage given today’s consumer preference for interacting with messaging apps. Moreover, a big chunk of mobile users want immediate answers to queries. This automated ability to give real-time engagement ups the ante for every B2B and B2C business.

3. Intercom

According to a 2018 Accenture survey, 56 percent of executives say conversational bots are disrupting their sector, and 57 percent say the technology can deliver large returns on investment with minimal effort. AI and machine learning are the most revolutionary innovations of our lifetime, and a bad recession won’t stop the adoption of automated conversational interfaces. These platforms are growing more sophisticated. For example, AI is becoming better at natural language processing (NLP), which enables the tech to have conversational dialogue with humans. 

Intercom has been around for nearly a decade and deploys custom bots that engage prospects, route conversations and reduce the need for web forms and emails. The company offers clients a proprietary Business Messenger app that provides automated real-time answers. This messaging software enables Intercom to differentiate itself in the bot marketplace. Mostly B2B users receive data they need to make timely business decisions. That includes dashboard info such as order status, invoice data and educational articles within the messaging app. In a 2018 Bloomberg interview, CEO Eoghan McCabe noted that emails are increasingly ineffective, and that more business professionals and consumers are turning to messaging apps for real-time business communication

Intercom builds chatbot solutions to help enterprises make purchase decisions, such as by personalizing buying experiences and giving product tours. Access to certain features depends on your monthly subscription. A basic plan includes live chat and outbound messaging while an advanced plan is geared more towards B2B lead generation, automated workflows and reporting tools.

Related: 5 Innovative Ways to Train Your Sales Team

Chatbots are great sales tools that are seeing more use in B2B and B2C, and they provide a competitive edge by enabling companies to offer 24/7 customer support. Because bots are growing in sophistication, they can be programmed to book reservations, set up meetings and other functions without human involvement. They can also be implemented cost-efficiently compared to hiring human personnel. So with all businesses tightening their wallets, now is the time to consider automating the customer experience where you can.

Tom Popomaronis

By: Tom Popomaronis – Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP / Executive Vice President of Innovation at Massive Alliance

How Chatbots, Apps And AI Will Transform The Travel Industry

The travel industry has constantly evolved, leading changes in technology, society and consumer tastes. Travel was the domain of the wealthy until technology and leading travel companies rapidly changed this in the latter part of the 20th century. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that there were 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950, today we see 1.4 billion.

Travellers of the 21st century are tech savvy consumers. They’re not wandering into their local high street travel agency to seek out the best deals for their next holiday. They are getting both advice and inspiration online, as well as of course booking their perfect travel experience online. Social media platforms play a central role in this, showing organic posts and paid for promotions enticing people to book that next trip to their dream destination.

Crucially though travellers continue to seek advice from travel professionals for expert advice. While there are many ways in which travel companies can meet these consumer needs, AI driven chatbots are playing an important role in an age of instant access.

AI-powered chatbots can make or break the difference between a good and bad customer journey on your website. Many chatbots are rudimentary, but the companies at the leading edge are pioneering the way forward with high levels of customer satisfaction. Their use is only expected to increase in the coming years too, with Sales Force’s research State of Service projecting that their use in the travel industry will nearly double by mid-2020 to 29%.

While chatbots first came about in the 1960s, so might not be considered cutting edge innovation, it is the machine learning innovation behind them that is constantly evolving and critical to ensuring people receive the efficient advice and level of customer service they are expecting. Recent improvements in AI are making it such that companies who invest significantly in this and leverage their data correctly, can provide meaningful customer experiences while managing costs more effectively.

We are operating in a world where people expect robust answers and they expect them fast; the advent of mobile phones paved the way for this and apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat ensured this. As such, a business’ technological capabilities are having to constantly evolve to deliver: AI driven chatbots are just one example of the way to meet these needs.

As we increasingly carry out our lives online, digital and mobile is changing the face of the high street. In Britain during the first six months of 2019 16 stores closed every day, resulting in a net decline of 1,234 shops. The travel industry is not immune to these shifts in consumer habits as highlighted by the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, which has impacted the livelihoods of thousands.

This recent failure is reflective of a wider trend which has seen the number of travel agents in the U.S. decrease by 45,200 between 2000 and 2018. Digital transformation is constant, and businesses need to be awake to the changing impact on their employees. It is predicted that by 2023 companies will have to retrain or replace a quarter of their staff in response to technological change.

Training programms and a focus on upskilling are essential cornerstones of a successful 21st century business. To stay at the forefront of technological advances and to support day to day operations e-commerce businesses require hundreds of employees and we need to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge to succeed.

Technology puts the world at your fingertips and for travel–the largest e-commerce sector in the world–that saying is quite literal. People tap into their phones, launch apps and manage their lives. In Q2 2019, mobile broke records with consumers downloading more apps and spending more money in app stores than ever before.

Apps streamline customers’ journeys, increase customer loyalty and create regular touchpoints with the customer. 80% of us use our mobile phones to search for information online, 27% then go onto download an app related to our searches–a business without an accessible and appealing app will be cast aside for their competition. According to the latest research on the travel industry by Euromonitor International, online travel sales will account for the largest share of travel bookings by 2024 and a quarter of all bookings will be made via mobile.

Travelling habits have changed significantly over the last 80 years and they will change again over the next 80. It is anticipating how it will change and how consumers will travel in the future that is essential for a business to not just survive but establish itself as a sector leader.

Dana Dunne is the Chief Executive Officer of eDreams ODIGEO, one of Europe’s largest online travel companies serving more than 18.5 million customers every year. eDreams ODIGEO puts technology to work on behalf of consumers so travelers can get the best, most convenient deals in travel services including flights, hotels, car rental, and insurance. Dana has an MBA from Wharton Business School and a BA in economics from Wesleyan University. A keen cyclist, Dana splits his time between London and Barcelona and has dual citizenship (American and British).

Source: How Chatbots, Apps And AI Will Transform The Travel Industry

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HiJiffy’s webinar about “How Chatbots are changing the Travel Industry” discusses really relevant themes, such as messaging apps usage or what, in our opinion, are the top chatbots in the travel industry.

Botstar World’s EASIEST Chatbot Platform

Chatbots automate everything for you without you being there… All the way from answering questions, engaging prospects, nurturing leads to closing sales for you continuously 24/7. It’s proven that 54% of customers are more likely to shop with businesses they can get an instant response from, without having to wait around.

A.I. technology automatically personalizes every conversation with your prospect’s name and details, as if they are talking to a real human. 40% of the population say that they chat with chatbots on a daily basis. Companies that utilized chatbots were able to increase their customer spend by over 50% more!

Tap into a mass market full of active responsive buyers. Most people are spending most of their time online on messenger apps… they spend 91% of their time messaging each other. 83% of online shoppers need support before making a purchase, and if they don’t get that, you’ll lose potential sales! They want to see more companies using chatbots, since they don’t want any delays in responses.

Let’s face it, everyone uses Facebook. The facts are clear, 1.3 BILLION people use Messenger every month and we’re all addicted to it. Messenger messages get between 50% to 80% open rates. This blows email marketing right out of the water. Grow and “monetize” your lists effortlessly. With botstar, you can even embed your messenger bot directly into ANY website, skyrocketing your reach, engagement & sales.

Instantly engage with facebook users 24/7, build a HUGE audience of raving fans, and EASILY promote and turn them into repeat buyers. In just a few clicks, effortlessly create custom chatbots for any of your FB pages, automating lead generation and connecting 1-on-1 with prospects like a real human being. Easily nurture your leads through our “done for you” sequence flows that instantly grabs attention, drives more leads and pulls in sales fast without any work on your end.

Source: https://www.botstar.io/live/

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