Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Importance of Customer Support, Identifying the Good and the Bad

How Important is Support?


Throughout all industries of business, one important role always becomes part of the initial design of any company: Support. Some refer to support as the highest cost of business, scrutinizing the very importance of it, and the benefits it can bring to the business. This essentially moves towards cheap support that can handle quantity.  Support is one of the most important aspects of any company, as it can make or break the business.
Whether the product is selling cars, or implementing the latest in technologies for your customers, support will always be an important role in the business. Customers appreciate quality support for any relationship they have with any business, whether it be a bank or an internet service. It all comes down to building the reputation. One of the fastest ways any business grows exponentially is by referral from their current customers.
Customers don’t like to refer bad relationships with companies to other people.  For this very reason, any type of support should be handled with quality. While it shouldn’t be the first priority (a quality product is more important, but not crucial enough to justify cheap support), it should definitely be in the top three aspects of building a successful company. If a customer has a fantastic relationship with a company, chances are that they are more likely to refer anyone who requires the product.
On the other hand, if a customer has a bad relationship with a company, they are even more likely to complain about it to as many people as possible. It is common knowledge that people like to inform others of a negative experience more than a positive one. But, why would the CEO of any company want them to talk about their company in a negative limelight? Wouldn’t it be smarter for them not to have customers speak about any negative experience with the company?
Rather than attempt this approach, companies look at volume rather than quality. If there are 50 customers being supported monthly, and only 2 of them have a negative experience and never return, that’s a 4% loss. To any CEO, that is a gain. This current approach is shifting very rapidly to quality rather than quantity.  Quality support attracts more people to the product, even if the product is of poorer quality than major competitors. This is bringing a current trend in the marketplace to switching to small business, as they focus on quality support to accompany a quality product, rather than just a quality product.
Let’s just hope that this trend does not end up going through the same cycle of cutting support costs to increase volume product.
How do I find good support?
Simply understanding that support is important isn’t enough. You need to be able to identify an organization that will provide you with the best support, but what do you look for to get an idea of what to expect from them? A very important indication can come from the cost structure of a business’ services. Some companies will choose to offer a certain level of support depending on the ‘package’ or payment plan. An article at About.com describes the question a little clearer:
“Do they offer ‘tiered’ support? In other words, do some account types get better support options than others? This means that the support offered for the cheapest level is going to be minimal at best. Support costs money, and if you're not paying them, they won't pay support representatives to help you.”
It can be very frustrating to purchase, for example, a digital product through an online service and not be provided the download link only to find that there is no phone number available to call for support. Filling out a help ticket through the vendors website can have you waiting for weeks to hear a response if you ever even get one at all! Be cautious when investing financially into a business (through purchasing a product or contracting for service) to be sure that if/when something doesn’t work the way it was designed to, someone will be there to help solve the problem and continue to service their products and services.

-Dan Kemper (E. Coastal Group LLC / www.ecoastalgroup.com)
Contributed to by Lemuel Bezares

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Social Media, It’s Impact on Search Results, and Utilizing Social Networking for SEO Search Engine Optimization

How do social networking sites impact search engine results?
I noticed recently when ‘Google-ing’ the name of my organization that some of the highest search engine results were social networking profiles like our facebook page and twitter account. In a previous article, "Search Engine Results, Advertising, and SEO", we covered the importance of making sure you own prime real estate in search results, so there’s clearly benefit in using external resources like these. We often describe search results as a game of black-jack, and I think I touched on this concept in that previous article as well, but let me describe the idea a little more in depth.
Hypothetically, if you were to play one hand on a table at Atlantic City you would have ‘x’ percent chance of winning that hand. If you were to play every hand you could, your opportunity for winning one of those hands becomes exponentially better than if you were only to have played just one. Having a centralized, digital home with your own website and investing (financially, time, effort, etc.) into making sure it’s the first listing in search results is great! The only problem is that the second (or third or forth) listing could be for a competitor, creating a situation where the investment of time, effort, and money may be completely futile.
Patrick Ambron co-founder and CEO of BrandYourself.com supports this idea perfectly in an article located at SocialMediaToday.

“If your social media profiles aren’t showing up, and instead your search results are filled with irrelevant or negative results (or worse, results referring to other people), you are losing a huge opportunity.”

Why do social media sites show up first in search results?
Actively maintained profiles on social media websites are presumed to contain more accurate and up-to-date information. The popularity of the social networking site will play a role too being that “Googlers” will feel safer and will be more familiar with a trusted site that they frequent. Your profile isn’t going to display properly, if at all, if you haven’t optimized the page properly though. Be sure to completely fill the profile with any/all fields available. A more copious profile loaded with keyword rich content will be perceived as a credible, relevant source. Also, back-links to profiles on other networks, your website, etc. will greatly help to prove relevancy.

What else can I do to utilize social media for improving my search results?
The terms social networking and social media seem to be interchangeable. I think the original intention of social networking identified more closely with instant messenger programs where people were given the ability to communicate ideas electronically. As technology improved, the concept of networking expanded to provide end-users the ability to transfer ideas by sharing pictures, videos, and more. All social media websites are community driven (otherwise they wouldn’t be social), but there are off-shoots of the concept that cater specifically to a certain type of media or to a niche.
Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and other similar sites bring the idea of sharing all forms of media between account holders under one roof. Sites like Youtube and Photobucket target users interested in sharing a specific type of media which are sometimes harder to utilize than other resources. Creating appropriate content worth uploading on a site that provides the sharing of videos may require an amount of creativity (ie: plumbers don’t frequently create vlogs). Using blogs like Blogger and blog.com are an excellent way to provide keyword-rich content and embedded back-links. By providing links to your site and content from external resources, you create the appearance that the information is being viewed and cited outside of your own site which will help to increase percieved relevancy (by the search engine "bots") as well.
There are an ever-growing number of resources out there and it is a lot of work trying to use them all to your advantage. If you’re looking for more social media sites to utilize, knowem.com can show you what is a available with the name you use and what sites already have an account with your name (hopefully by you). All things considered, play as many hands of blackjack as you can, because you won’t cash in unless you do.
-Dan Kemper (E. Coastal Group LLC / www.ecoastalgroup.com)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Search Engine Results, Advertising, and SEO

How important is it to be at the top of GOOGLE, Bing or other Search Engines?

We have always considered that being at the top of Search Engine Results (SER's) was crucial in capturing the highest number of new prospective visitors to your website. Through research, we've found that the numbers certainly support that idea according to an article at searchenginewatch.com. They quote Compete.com saying that the number of listings that show up on a search results page are about 85% organic (non-sponsored) and about 15% paid. As far as organic listings go, 53% of 'searchers' will choose the very first listing. Of course this is no surprise, we use search engines frequently enough at E. Coastal Group and notice our own behaviors support these numbers as well.
That in mind, when it comes to paid listings on a SER, you want your listing to be in the ad space that generally displays above the organic listings (which the numbers also support). A recent article at The WordStream Blog explains that Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Click-Through rates have significantly decreased with the number of impressions growing exponentially. This actually makes it more affordable to pay for listings, but also means a larger number competitors. In case you don't know how the rates are derived:
"I recognize that CPC’s aren’t fully controlled by Google per se – that an advertiser’s actual cost per click is a reflection of advertiser competition for a keyword, as well as an advertiser’s historical performance track record."
From what we can tell, it's still beneficial to have a paid listing display in a column along the side of the page, but that region of the page simply does not seem to draw the same attention as the content of the page where the bulk of the listings are shown.
So how important is it to have your listing at the top of Search Engine Listings? It is absolutely, undeniably, understatably vital to be at the top of SER's. Through effective Search Engine Optimization, your website can be featured in prime real-estate. Unfortunately for many who manage their own website, there are simply too many facets to really tackle SEO without help from an experienced marketing agency. Well executed SEO is a result of constructing appropriate meta tag information, strategic page naming, a well-developed sitemap, including readable key-word rich content, and much more. Luckily, there are plenty of organizations capable of helping. After conducting a search for an approximate number of firms in the United States,  I found the best answer in a thread on Yahoo! answers. It's difficult to determine how many organizations are capable of SEO (or the quality of their process/efforts) because:
"(1) SEOs are often designers, coders and other web denizens and (2) any idiot can call him/herself an SEO."
-Paul Lalley
When we meet with prospective clients, we often describe Search Engine Results as a game of black jack. You could play one hand and have 'x' percent chance of winning. Or you could play as many hands as possible and exponentially increase your opportunity of winning at least one of those hands.
All of the above considered, have your site shown in as many SER's as possible. More importantly, do what it takes to achieve higher listing ranks. This may seem like a daunting task, but we (and plenty of others out there) are capable of lending a hand; some with more experience and results than others. Feel free to contact us by phone or via email to speak with a representative about how we can help you achieve your Search Engine Optimization goals.

E. Coastal Group LLC


We have been very busy lately serving all of our new clients and the needs of our existing clients as well. We look forward to this winter and upcoming holiday season. If you're interested in any of our services like Web Design, Web Hosting, Identity Development (Branding), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media Integration and more, be sure to give us a call or contact us on our contact page today! We would be more than happy to add you to our list of satisfied customers! Check out some of our clients web sites below:
Trail-Way Speedway - 1/3 Clay Oval Race Track in Hanover, PA
LUX Night Lounge - Night Lounge and Cigar Bar in York, PA
York Divers - York's Finest Diving Instructional and Supply Shop
ACMS Series - 600cc Micro Sprint Car Series
Pearson's Accounting Solutions - Accounting and Bookkeeping Services in Mt. Wolf, PA
Nouse Signs and Graphics - Full Service Sign Shop and Apparel in York, PA
Fashion Cent$ - Consignment Shop Located in Kingston Square Shopping Center
The Frame Shop - Art Gallery and Custom Framing Located Downtown York, PA
The Whaleman Foundation - Non-Profit Group to Save the Oceans and It's Creatures
Streamlined Appraisal Management - Digital Appraisal Management Company
Golden Carriage Flowers and Gifts - Beautiful Flower Arrangements and Homemaid Gifts
All Stiles Real Estate LLC - Commercial, Homes, Apartments, and Garage Property Management

Why E. Coastal Group? 
E.Coastal group takes pride in every client that we have the privilege of working with. We are comitted to providing the best overall customer experience to each and every patron we assist. No matter how big or small the project, we serve everyone with the same attention and dedication. If you choose E. Coastal Group you can count on us to go above and beyond your typical marketing agency. We offer several services from marketing and design, to computer sales, repair, backup, and networking and more! With offering such a vast selection of solutions we can usually help with any of your needs. If there is something that we can't do we always find you the best and most reliable solution else where. E. Coastal Group was founded to offer solutions to not only huge corperate entities but the small "mom and pop" businesses that don't have time to take care of the projects that require so much attention. We serve York, Lancaster, HarrisburgGettysburg, and the surrounding area here locally in Pennsylvania, but we've used technology to effectively communicate with clients accross the country!