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Conversation Intelligence Trends & Tips From Invoca’s CMO

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Conversation Intelligence Trends & Tips From Invoca's CMO

In the pursuit of more granular first-party data to better inform marketing campaigns and business decisions of all kinds, conversation intelligence is a field well worth exploring.

Using machine learning and AI-empowered technology to capture, analyze, and even visualize the data from customer calls at scale is driving dramatic improvements in organizations’ understanding of who they serve – and precisely what it is those customers need.

Conversation intelligence adds a data science layer to call tracking analytics.

It’s taking marketers well beyond the simple metrics of how many people called and from which channels to answering complex customer behavior and intent questions such as:

  • What trends exist in our customers’ behavior, motivations, and desired outcomes?
  • How can we improve the customer experience in the most meaningful ways?
  • Which topics and questions are on our customers’ minds?
  • What outcomes are being achieved in our customer service agent interactions?

I had an opportunity recently to chat with Dee Anna McPherson, CMO at Invoca and an expert in the field of conversation intelligence.

In this interview, you’ll discover emerging trends in call tracking and analytics, how marketers are using the first-party data gathered through conversation intelligence, and which opportunities should be on your radar as you plan for the year ahead.

McPherson shared tips to help brands make the most of this technology and how AI-assisted call analytics are used in various industries, as well.

Call Tracking & Conversation Intelligence Trends Of Note

Miranda Miller: “Any exciting trends or technological innovations in the call tracking and analytics space that marketers should keep an eye on this year?”

Dee Anna McPherson: “The biggest conversation intelligence trend that we’re seeing is greater usage across the buying journey, particularly for improving contact center performance.

I believe that 2022 is the year when the contact center officially moves from being viewed as a cost center to an opportunity to grow customer lifetime value.

This means that they will need new AI-powered tools to automatically analyze and score agent performance on every call. And, this could have a big impact on conversion rates for search marketers who are spending budget to drive phone leads.

Today, many businesses score agent performance manually by listening to calls, and this means that only 1-3% of calls get scored, leaving a huge margin for error.

Using AI-powered conversation intelligence, businesses can automatically analyze and score 100% of their calls.

The ability to automate Q&A processes leads to better customer experiences, which in turn result in higher conversion rates and improved marketing performance.”

Underutilized Opportunities In Conversation Intelligence

Miranda Miller: “What do you think is the one greatest but underutilized or untapped opportunity in conversation intelligence right now?”

Dee Anna McPherson: “Conversation intelligence is one of the last untapped sources of first-party customer data like digital engagement, behavior, and interactions, purchase history, demographics, and more.

First-party data is increasingly important as the constraints on third-party data tighten up, but how to get it, organize the data, and take action on it still leaves a lot of companies scratching their heads.

Using conversation intelligence, businesses can determine what keywords perform best, get data to precisely retarget and suppress advertising to prospects and customers, and get insight into consumer behavior to guide campaign optimization strategies.

Any business that regularly has conversations with their customers needs to use AI and conversation intelligence to mine that data and make sense of it to be competitive in 2022.”

Dee Anna McPherson, CMO at Invoca

Conversation Intelligence Strategy For Different Industries

Miranda Miller: “How does conversation intelligence strategy vary by vertical? Are there differences in call tracking and analytics best practices for retail vs. automotive or finance, for example?”

Dee Anna McPherson: “At a high level, all verticals use conversation intelligence to achieve similar fundamental goals, namely to:

  • Drive more call conversions and revenue from their marketing.
  • Reduce wasted ad spend and unwanted calls and increase ROAS.
  • Deliver experiences to convert more callers to customers or patients.
  • Uncover more actionable insights from calls to contact centers or locations.

While the fundamentals are similar, customer (and patient) journeys do vary from vertical to vertical – the reasons why consumers call businesses, where those calls go, what a call conversion is, and what elements make up an ideal phone conversation are different from industry to industry.

For example, one of our customers in the retirement communities vertical used Invoca’s AI-powered call analytics to track calls related to COVID-19 concerns, as well as the “tenor and tone” of conversations about the pandemic.

They were able to measure trends by location, and they used this information to update the information they were displaying on their website, and to get a handle on resident and caretaker concerns before they can turn into situations where people are leaving the facilities.

The result was resident turnover actually went down during the first year of the pandemic.

Automotive dealers and service networks face a different set of challenges as calls are routed to individual dealers, not a central contact center. Since the calls are routed all over the place, it makes it difficult to track them and get marketing attribution.

Conversation intelligence can act as a unifier of marketing, sales, and customer experience data, enabling them to improve marketing efficiency and sales performance at any location.

The best practices of conversation intelligence are often the same, but some of the tactics and strategies can differ depending on the industry and what you want to learn from conversations.”

Tips For Call Tracking & Analytics Success

Miranda Miller: “What advice do you have for marketers considering/contemplating adding call tracking and analytics to their stack this year?”

Dee Anna McPherson: “Conversation intelligence has a lot of applications from paid media attribution and optimization to sales to digital user experience.

If you’re thinking about getting started with conversation intelligence, you can see tremendous ROI even if you only focus on one initiative to start.

Many of our successful customers who later expanded their use case started using conversation intelligence for paid search attribution and reporting, and then grew into audience targeting and automated bidding before tackling any other use cases.

So, start off by benchmarking your performance and making one change at a time – we call this the “crawl, walk, run” approach to implementing conversation intelligence across the revenue organization.

Look for a partner that can provide a dedicated onboarding team and that can help you develop an implementation and success plan specifically tailored to your business.

Developing a plan, a clear roadmap, and performance benchmarks with the partner are key to gaining adoption in your organization and exceeding your goals with conversation intelligence.”

Working At Invoca

Miranda Miller: “Thanks for your insight, Dee Anna. Now – for the marketers in the crowd who may be on the hunt for a new opportunity, what makes Invoca a great place to work?”

Dee Anna McPherson: “Being a great place to work takes more than just perks and benefits, especially during ‘the great resignation’ where we have a really hot job market.

Invoca is different than most other technology companies in that we have this “egoless culture” that’s focused on driving value for our customers and our employees.

One of our core values is to “help each other thrive,” and you feel that on every project you work on and any time you reach out for help – someone is always there to support you.

It’s a great feeling knowing that your coworkers always have your back, and you’re not all just competing for the prize. This allows everyone to focus on innovation, our customers, and continuous improvement, and feel good about what they’ve accomplished at the end of every day.

One thing we’ve been focusing on in the last two years is supporting and growing our awesome Invoca culture while shifting to a hybrid workforce that leans toward remote working.

Luckily, we had a lot of remote employees before the pandemic hit, so it was not a big shock to the company or to the people. But, we have implemented initiatives that make everyone feel included and supported, no matter how often they’re in a physical office, if at all.

We’re currently examining how to get the most out of a hybrid approach of people working remotely, working in the office, and coming together for events.

Everything needs to be more curated than it used to be – you can’t just tell people to come in and not have a plan to engage them. Organizing every in-person meeting or event is more like putting together a wedding than a team offsite.

No detail is too small, and we’re paying close attention to everyone’s feedback to provide the best possible experience for all of our employees.”

You can learn more about Invoca’s culture and browse open job postings here.

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Featured Image: FGC/Shutterstock

In-post Image: Courtesy of Invoca




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Everything You Need To Know

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Of all the many, many functions available in Google Ads, I have a few that are my favorites. And sitelink assets – previously known as sitelink extensions – are at the top of my list.

Why? Because they’re so versatile. You can do almost anything with them if you think through your strategy carefully.

For example, you can use the mighty sitelink in your advertising to:

  • Promote low search volume themes.
  • Push lagging products out the door.
  • Maximize hot sellers.
  • Highlight certain product categories.
  • Answer common questions.
  • Handle PR problems.

And that’s just a start! Sitelink assets can almost do it all.

Best Practices For Using Sitelink Assets Extensions

If you truly want to get the most out of your sitelinks, you need to think about your intention.

To help you with that, I’m going to lay out a few sitelink guidelines.

1. Get clear on your objectives. Before you start, you need to think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with these assets? Are you advertising products or services? Will the asset work well with both branded and non-branded keywords? Your answers to these questions will help determine if your sitelinks are versatile and useful to the searcher.

2. Use sitelinks as part of your larger strategy. Don’t think of your sitelinks in isolation. You should also consider the accompanying ad, landing page, and other assets. Make sure they all work together in service to your overarching strategy.

3. Use a mix of sitelinks. Sitelinks can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you’re using a variety. For example, you don’t want to use every sitelink on an ad to promote on-sale products. Instead, use a mix. One could promote an on-sale product, one could generate leads, one could highlight a new product category, and one could direct prospective clients to useful information.

4. Create landing pages for your sitelinks. Ideally, you want to send users to landing pages that tightly correlate with your sitelink instead of just a regular page on your website.

5. Track sitelink performance and adjust. It’s not enough to set up sitelinks. You should also track them to see which links are getting traction and which ones are not. This doesn’t mean that all sitelinks should perform equally (more on this below), but it does mean they should perform well given their type and objectives.

Why it’s Better To Use A Mix Of Sitelink Assets

Let’s dive deeper into this idea of using a mix of sitelinks by looking at an example.

In a new client account, we created four different types of sitelinks:

  • Two sitelinks are product-focused (as requested by the client).
  • One sitelink connects users with an engineer to learn more about the product (“Speak to an Engineer”). It has more of a sales focus.
  • One sitelink allows users to learn more about the products without speaking to an engineer (“What is?”).

The “What is?” sitelink is outperforming the “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink when we measure by CTR. While we need more data before making any changes, I predict we’ll eventually swap out the sales-y “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink for something else.

The fact that the educational link (“What is?”) is performing better than the sales-y link (“Speak to an Engineer”) isn’t too surprising in this case. The product is a new, cutting-edge robot that not many people are aware of, yet. They want more info before talking to someone.

Screenshot by author, January 2023

By using a mix of sitelinks, and assessing the performance of each, we gained a lot of valuable information that is helping to guide our strategy for this account. So going with a mix of sitelinks is always a good idea. You never know what you’ll discover!

Sitelink Assets Examples

Now, let’s look at some specific examples of sitelink assets in Google Ads.

Example 1: Chromatography

Sitelinks extension - Chromatography exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

Application Search: This ad is for a highly technical product that can be used in a wide variety of applications. (Chromatography is a laboratory technique for separating mixtures.) So putting “application search” in a sitelink here might make sense. It helps prospective clients find what they’re looking for.

Sign up and Save Big: A good sitelink for lead generation and potential revenue.

Technical Support: I’m not a big fan of putting technical support in sitelinks. Tech support seems more targeted to current users rather than prospective users. But who knows, maybe they really do want to help current users get tech support via their advertising.

Guides and Posters: Again, this sitelink is a bit unusual, but it might be appropriate for this product. Perhaps people are downloading branded posters and posting them in their workplaces. If so, it’s a great way to build brand awareness.

Example 2: Neuroscience Courses

Sitelink Extensions - Nueroscience courses exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

I love everything about these sitelinks! The advertising is using them to reach people in all phases of the buyer journey.

For people not ready to commit:

  • Study Neuroscience: This sitelink is broad and informational. It’s helpful to people who have just started to explore their options for studying neuroscience.
  • Get Course Brochure: This sitelink is also great for people in the research phase. And while we mostly live in an online world, some people still prefer to consume hard-copy books, brochures, etc. With this sitelink, the school is covering its bases.

For people getting close to committing:

  • Online Short Course: This is the course the school offers. It’s a great sitelink for those almost ready to sign up.

For people ready to sign up:

  • Register Online Now: This is the strongest call to action for those ready to commit. It takes people directly to the signup page.

Example 3: Neuroscience Degrees

Let’s look at another example from the world of neuroscience education: this time for a neuroscience degree program.

Sitelink extensions - neuroscience degree exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

In contrast to the previous two examples, the sitelinks in this ad aren’t as strong.

Academics Overview: This sitelink seems more appropriate for a broad term search, such as a search on the school’s name. If the searcher is looking for a specific degree program (which seems like the intention based on the term and the ad), the sitelinks should be something specific to that particular degree program.

Scholarships: Just as with the above sitelink, “Scholarships” doesn’t seem very helpful either. The topic of scholarships is important—but probably doesn’t need to be addressed until the person determines that this school is a good fit.

Example 4: Code Security

Next, let’s look at two Google search ads for code security products.

Sitelink extensions - code security exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

 

The sitelinks in these two ads look like typical assets you’d find for SaaS, cloud-based, or tech companies. They click through to a lot of helpful information, such as product plans and success stories.

I particularly like the Most Common Risks sitelink in the second ad. It leads to a helpful article that would be great for engaging top-of-funnel leads.

On the flip side, I’m not a big fan of the Blog sitelink in the first ad. “Blog” simply isn’t very descriptive or helpful.

Still, there are no right or wrong sitelinks here. And it would be interesting to test my theory that blog content is not a top-performing asset!

Sitelink Assets Are More Than An Afterthought

I hope I’ve convinced you of the usefulness and versatility of sitelinks when created with specific objectives that align with your broader strategy.

So don’t create your sitelink assets as an afterthought.

Because if you give them the careful consideration they deserve, they’ll serve you well.

Note: Google sitelink assets were previously known as sitelink extensions and renamed in September 2022.

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Featured Image: Thaspol Sangsee/Shutterstock



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AI Content In Search Results

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AI Content In Search Results

Google has released a statement regarding its approach to AI-generated content in search results.

The company has a long-standing policy of rewarding high-quality content, regardless of whether humans or machines produce it.

Above all, Google’s ranking systems aim to identify content that demonstrates expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

Google advises creators looking to succeed in search results to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates E-E-A-T.

The company has updated its “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page with guidance on evaluating content in terms of “Who, How, and Why.”

Here’s how AI-generated content fits into Google’s approach to ranking high-quality content in search results.

Quality Over Production Method

Focusing on the quality of content rather than the production method has been a cornerstone of Google’s approach to ranking search results for many years.

A decade ago, there were concerns about the rise in mass-produced human-generated content.

Rather than banning all human-generated content, Google improved its systems to reward quality content.

Google’s focus on rewarding quality content, regardless of production method, continues to this day through its ranking systems and helpful content system introduced last year.

Automation & AI-Generated Content

Using automation, including AI, to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results violates Google’s spam policies.

Google’s spam-fighting efforts, including its SpamBrain system, will continue to combat such practices.

However, Google realizes not all use of automation and AI-generated content is spam.

For example, publishers automate helpful content such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts.

Google says it will continue to take a responsible approach toward AI-generated content while maintaining a high bar for information quality and helpfulness in search results.

Google’s Advice For Publishers

For creators considering AI-generated content, here’s what Google advises.

Google’s concept of E-E-A-T is outlined in the “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page, which has been updated with additional guidance.

The updated help page asks publishers to think about “Who, How, and Why” concerning how content is produced.

“Who” refers to the person who created the content, and it’s important to make this clear by providing a byline or background information about the author.

“How” relates to the method used to create the content, and it’s helpful to readers to know if automation or AI was involved. If AI was involved in the content production process, Google wants you to be transparent and explain why it was used.

“Why” refers to the purpose of creating content, which should be to help people rather than to manipulate search rankings.

Evaluating your content in this way, regardless of whether AI-generated or not, will help you stay in line with what Google’s systems reward.


Featured Image: Alejandro Corral Mena/Shutterstock



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Seven tips to optimize page speed in 2023

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Tips-to-optimize-page-speed-in-2023

30-second summary:

  • There has been a gradual increase in Google’s impact of page load time on website rankings
  • Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics as ranking factors to measure user experience
  • The following steps can help you get a better idea of the performance of your website through multiple tests

A fast website not only delivers a better experience but can also increase conversion rates and improve your search engine rankings. Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics to measure user experience and is using them as a ranking factor.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to test and optimize the performance of your website.

Start in Google Search Console

Want to know if optimizing Core Web Vitals is something you should be thinking about? Use the page experience report in Google Search Console to check if any of the pages on your website are loading too slowly.

Search Console shows data that Google collects from real users in Chrome, and this is also the data that’s used as a ranking signal. You can see exactly what page URLs need to be optimized.

Optimize-to-Start-in-Google-Search-Console

Run a website speed test

Google’s real user data will tell you how fast your website is, but it won’t provide an analysis that explains why your website is slow.

Run a free website speed test to find out. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to test. You’ll get a detailed performance report for your website, including recommendations on how to optimize it.

Run-a-website-speed-test-for-optimization

Use priority hints to optimize the Largest Contentful Paint

Priority Hints are a new browser feature that came out in 2022. It allows website owners to indicate how important an image or other resource is on the page.

This is especially important when optimizing the Largest Contentful Paint, one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics. It measures how long it takes for the main page content to appear after opening the page.

By default, browsers assume that all images are low priority until the page starts rendering and the browser knows which images are visible to the user. That way bandwidth isn’t wasted on low-priority images near the bottom of the page or in the footer. But it also slows down important images at the top of the page.

Adding a fetchpriority=”high” attribute to the img element that’s responsible for the Largest Contentful Paint ensures that it’s downloaded quickly.

Use native image lazy loading for optimization

Image lazy loading means only loading images when they become visible to the user. It’s a great way to help the browser focus on the most important content first.

However, image lazy loading can also slow cause images to take longer to load, especially when using a JavaScript lazy loading library. In that case, the browser first needs to load the JavaScript library before starting to load images. This long request chain means that it takes a while for the browser to load the image.

Use-native-image-lazy-loading-for-optimization

Today browsers support native lazy loading with the loading=”lazy” attribute for images. That way you can get the benefits of lazy loading without incurring the cost of having to download a JavaScript library first.

Remove and optimize render-blocking resources

Render-blocking resources are network requests that the browser needs to make before it can show any page content to the user. They include the HTML document, CSS stylesheets, as well as some JavaScript files.

Since these resources have such a big impact on page load time you should check each one to see if it’s truly necessary. The async keyword on the HTML script tag lets you load JavaScript code without blocking rendering.

If a resource has to block rendering check if you can optimize the request to load the resource more quickly, for example by improving compression or loading the file from your main web server instead of from a third party.

Remove-and-optimize-render-blocking-resources

Optimize with the new interaction to Next Paint metric

Google has announced a new metric called Interaction to Next Paint. This metric measures how quickly your site responds to user input and is likely to become one of the Core Web Vitals in the future.

You can already see how your website is doing on this metric using tools like PageSpeed Insights.

Optimize-with-new-Interaction-to-Next-Paint-metric

Continuously monitor your site performance

One-off site speed tests can identify performance issues on your website, but they don’t make it easy to keep track of your test results and confirm that your optimizations are working.

DebugBear continuously monitors your website to check and alerts you when there’s a problem. The tool also makes it easy to show off the impact of your work to clients and share test results with your team.

Try DebugBear with a free 14-day trial.

Continuously-monitor-your-site-performance

 

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