Online Scheduling Insiteful Solutions
Let Insiteful Solutions Help you Get Your Business Back to Work with our Online Scheduling System
Getting Ready for the Future Post COVID-19
As the cloud of COVID-19 lifts and the various provinces start phased opening for places other than essential services, Insiteful Solutions has been hard at work helping our clients get ready to re-open and re-start operations. The past few weeks have been heartrending and complex. As we grapple with the ‘new normal’ that faces us Insiteful Solutions is here to help people get their businesses back up and running, safely and responsibly.
Doing Business in the age of Social Distancing
With the advent of COVID-19 in early March of this year the world took a sudden and dramatic shift. By mid-March many provinces had closed all but essential services and worldwide people were advised to stay home and isolate to protect themselves and the most vulnerable among us from the virus. These swift actions left many businesses scrambling not just to close businesses but how to transfer their operations to e-commerce in all attempts to keep their businesses running. At Insiteful Solutions we immediately swung into high-gear and set up e-commerce capabilities for several of our clients and made sure that their websites were mobile friendly. We also advised all of our clients to reach out via their social media channels to make sure that their customers were aware of their new operation schedule and how they could still provide service to them.
The province of Ontario has developed a framework to guide its re-opening plans. It is a three- step approach which will slowly see businesses, services and public spaces open. On the website www.ontario.ca the province outlines the steps to make sure things open with public health and safety at the forefront of everything. One of the main components which businesses all over the world, including Canada, will have to grapple with is how to maintain social distancing when the doors of businesses open. It is recommended that people stay 2 meters apart under all circumstances.
The New Solution – Online Scheduling
In the weeks and months to come it is clear that businesses are going to have to operate differently. Whereas before businesses were able to open their doors and allow anyone to visit within their operating hours, social distancing will cause these ‘regular’ operations to change.
One of the ways the business world is responding to planning in a post-COVID19 world is to organize online scheduling for business. If you run a retail store for example your previous operations most likely saw people come and go as they wish – going forward for the foreseeable future retail stores will need to monitor the number of people in their stores at any given time and do their best to encourage social distancing within their retail space. While many stores that were able to remain open at the beginning of COVID-19 started instituting line-ups outside their store, line ups might not be the best way forward. That’s why at Insiteful Solutions we are helping clients set up an online scheduling system so your customers can reserve a time to visit your store to go shopping.
Avoid the Stress of Scheduling
There are numerous benefits for your business to scheduling customers to visit your store or business. The system Insiteful Solutions is using takes all the hassle and stress out of organizing times for your customers to visit you. Clients can self-schedule the times they wish to visit you based on the information and parameters you provide; this allows you to anticipate the number of people that will be in your store at any given time thus allowing you to schedule the appropriate amount of staff at the right times. If you are a business that offers a certain service, again clients can self-schedule and provide the exact details of the service they wish to receive. The online system doesn’t just take care of scheduling – it covers off an incredible array of back of house work which will allow you to focus on other things. The online scheduling system can be embedded into your website for easy access and sync with Outlook.com, iCloud, Google Calendar, Exchange and Office 365. If your offering is solely an online venture then this system can sync with GoToMeeting, Join.me and Zoom so that when the appointment time comes customers are automatically linked to the online meeting forum.
As Canadian businesses quickly restructure their operations to cope with the complexity of COVID19, businesses are having to operate with leaner staffing and overall be more flexible. The online scheduling system doesn’t just help you book customers to visit your store – it can also by synced to whatever accounting system you use: QuickBooks, Freshbooks and Xero integrations are all possible. This syncing of systems frees up time from the nitty gritty of invoicing so you can focus on other things. Clients can also pay for the service they receive through PayPal, Square or Stripe. Credit card information is also securely kept for one time or future payments. Clients can also tip for the service they receive and use vouchers or coupons they have been given. The Insiteful Solution online scheduling system is so much more than just telling people when they can visit your store or business – you can be rest assured that the detail work around visits will be taken care of so you can focus on your interface with your customer and supporting your business.
Keeping Your Brand Strong
And you don’t need to worry about an online scheduling system diluting your brand. Insiteful Solutions will embed the online scheduling system into your existing website – your clients won’t have to deal with a clunky transfer between sites or any confusion that may cause. Everything about the online scheduling system will be branded as if your company created it. We can design the online scheduling system to display your logo and customize it with your company colours, the online app can be edited so that the text reflects the tone and culture of your business.
All the Convenience, None of the Hassle
One of the best things about the online scheduling system is the convenience for both you and your customer. Once a customer books an appointment they will automatically receive reminder emails or text messages so they don’t forget the appointment. The system is set up to take into consideration multiple time zones should you be located in more than one city and will automatically do the time zone conversion for customers.
Insiteful Solutions has been working with clients in Markham, Toronto and all over the GTA for nearly 20 years to address all of their digital marketing needs. With the onset of COVID-19 we were able to quickly help existing and new clients pivot their business to function online. As we face the future with our clients we are more focused than ever to help them develop new operating systems so their business can continue to function and thrive. Contact us today so we can help you set up an online scheduling system for your business and help grow your business!
The Power of Social Media During a Crisis
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 the staff at Insiteful Solutions has been busy helping our clients in Markham and across the GTA ramp up their e-commerce sites and update client websites with the latest news and information related to the virus. The past stressful weeks have taught us more than ever the need to be prepared; we were fortunate that the majority of our staff were already working remotely so we could change our operations seamlessly.
One of the areas we have been most busy is advising clients on their use of social media. In the early days of COVID-19, with everything happening so quickly, social media channels turned out to be the fastest way our clients could communicate effectively with their customers. To give you some idea of the reach of social media in Canada, it estimated that 64% of Canadians have a social media account and over 50% of Canadians are registered to one or more social media platforms. 70% of social media users said they logged on at least once a month.
The popularity of social media makes it a perfect medium to reach people in a crisis. With many provinces, including Ontario, ordering virtually all public activities to close suddenly to flatten the COVID-19 curve, businesses were left scrambling to figure out their new operations. Many businesses, such as restaurants and certain retailers, were able to transition to curb-side pick-up or delivery. Others were left not knowing how they were going to alter their operations to serve their customers. With all of this confusion it was a comfort for both business owners and their customers that they could keep in touch via social media. At Insiteful Solutions we help clients with all of their digital marketing needs; from building websites to their social media platforms, we make sure our clients are up today with the most recent trends and changes to the industry.
With the unprecedented times we are living in we have found the following to be helpful advice to our clients for their social media platforms. With the news changing almost daily it can be difficult for business owners to strike the right tone: hopeful or somber? Idealistic or realistic? While there is often no ‘right way’ to communicate with your customers via social media we have found that if you post content that is deemed insensitive it can negatively affect your brand. The following can hopefully serve as a guide or refresher on how to approach your clients on social media during a crisis.
Who you are in a Crisis?
Great brands and businesses are a result of great leadership and teamwork. The best businesses understand their customers and how to communicate with them. During a crisis is time to connect with your customers on a personal level; with something as serious as a global pandemic it’s crucial that you reach out and stay connected. The values that built your brand can also be on display. We advised our clients not to ‘sell’ anything to their clients with their early social media posts – no one wants to be sold to during a crisis. While some business people had the instinct to shutter their social media accounts we advised people to keep the lines of communication open. With people suddenly isolated and their worlds upended they need human contact, even if it’s over social media.
Know Your Audience
Many businesses post to their social media channels without fully knowing who their audience is. Fortunately companies like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have done the analytical work for you and you can easily tap into this data to learn more about who is viewing your social media platforms. Knowing your audience is always important, but especially so during a crisis. Are you catering to the healthcare industry and you have many followers that are frontline workers? Then you would tailor your message to this industry. You want to make sure your social media content is reflective of your audience, that way you can curate your content to grab their attention. During a crisis is a key time to connect with new and old customers.
Be Sensitive to the Times
In 2014 the clothing brand American Apparel created a social media faux pas that is still being talked about. On July 4 of that year a well-meaning person in their social media department posted a July 4 greeting on the company’s social media platforms. The greeting was accompanied by an image of a plume of white cloud against a blue sky. The staffer thought the image was fireworks exploding – it wasn’t. It was actually a photograph of the Challenger Space Shuttle exploding shortly after takeoff – a fatal incident that occurred in 1986. The American Apparel post has been used ever since on what not to do on social media. With the onset of COVID-19, many businesses began to struggle, while we advised clients to quickly improve their e-commerce offerings and switch to delivery or curbside pick-up we also advised them to understand the humanitarian aspect of these times and do what they could to assist others who may be struggling. Communicating the human side of your company during a crisis will let your customers know that your company cares.
Keep on Top of the Changing Landscape
COVID-19 has been challenging in more ways than one. It seems that daily the news about the virus changes and governments (and businesses!) are left scurrying to keep up. While most companies have a solid social media marketing calendar based on their business plan, times of crisis may have caused their plans to be paused or put on a complete hold. One industry especially hard hit by COVID-19 has been the restaurant and hospitality industry. With guidance from governments constantly updated restaurants have had to keep in touch with their customer. Being fluid in your planning and accurate with your information allows you to continue to control your brand messaging – even during a crisis.
A distinct aspect of COVID-19 has been how it has affected everyone globally. While these times of crisis can be extraordinarily stressful it can also be a time to bring people together. While your customers will want to know the core information about your business and its operations, they will also appreciate a human touch to communications during this time. Don’t be afraid to communicate with customers on a more personal level.
At Insiteful Solutions we have worked for nearly 20 years with clients in Markham, the GTA and across Canada on all aspects of digital marketing campaigns including social media. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help your business navigate this current crisis.
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The Role of SEO in Digital Marketing Pt. 2
At Insiteful Solutions, we work with clients in Markham and across the GTA to improve their websites and their SEO rankings. Now it is more important than ever to focus on your business’s SEO and how to activate it for success. Our last blog delved into the world of SEO and provided lots of tips that you could employ. This blog will cover some of the remaining points to keep in mind when you are developing your website and the all-important SEO.
Your SEO will Help Your Ecommerce Efforts
Even before the current COVID-19 pandemic global e-commerce was exploding. It is estimated that by 2021 online purchases will reach $4.5 trillion and will account for 17.5% of all retail sales. If you are a business, whether you sell online or not, you need to invest the time and effort into improving your SEO as it is estimated that 81% of people research purchases online before they make a final decision of what to purchase. Incredibly it’s also been reported that 75% of mobile searches end up with people visiting the store they researched within 24 hours and subsequently 30% of these visits result in an in-store purchase.
Growth in Mobile Traffic and Local SEO
At Insiteful Solutions, we have been working with clients for over 15 years addressing all aspects of their online digital marketing campaigns. One of the most important aspects of SEO is the growth of mobile traffic because so many people are using their phones to search things on Google or other search engines, the local search is an integral part to the success of a small or medium-sized business. Local SEO focuses digital results for a specific geographic area, this helps people close to your place of business find you faster. Your brand can work on messaging to target customers based on what town, city or province you happen to be located. At Insiteful Solutions, we will optimize your website content to link it to local citations and other relevant links to the location and sector your business operates in. We will also draw focus to your reviews on Yelp and Google and any other user review sites related to your industry.
Focus on Metadata
At Insiteful Solutions, we also work on your metadata. When you design your company’s website each page contains a space between the <head> tags to insert information about the contents of your page – that’s the metadata. You can review and update your metadata, this is often overlooked by businesses who still with their original site for far too long. Along with your content, your metadata should be refreshed at regular intervals.
Metadata is also connected to the ever-important keyword phrases that you develop to match your brand. The title metadata, for example, is responsible for the titles you see displayed at the top of a browser window and provides the headline within search engine results. At Insiteful Solutions, we will also help you develop your description metadata and keyword metadata. Your description metadata is the text that a search engine may use in your page search – it should be a brief informative description of what your website contains. Keyword metadata can be a few phrases made up of one to four words that describe what your business sells.
Keyword Use for ‘Click Here’ Links
Many businesses make the mistake of wasting links embedded within the text of your website. Including banal ‘click here’ links is a wasted opportunity as they have no search engine value; it is more helpful to use keywords related to your business will improve your search engine rankings as well as the ranking of the page you are linking to.
Alt Tags for Visuals and Videos
It is also important to use alt tags on your website when describing visual elements and embedded videos. For people that use text-only browsers or screen readers, this is very helpful and allows them to understand what is on your website. It also allows search engines to locate your page.
Remember to check your indexing. Search engine indexing is the way in which a search engine collects, sorts and stores data for later use. This data is what informs the results for search engine queries. It is important to check your indexing to make sure Google (or other search engines) is capturing your data correctly. There are two ways you can check your indexing. The first way is to go to Google and type “site.yourdomain.com”, using this way will let you know quickly how many pages Google thinks your site has. The second way is to go to your search console and choose “index status”. Ideally, if you use both ways the numbers should match. By checking how your site is indexing you will be able to take advantage of Google analytics.
Investing in Your SEO
One of the main questions we receive from both old and new clients is how much should they invest in SEO and a quick second question is how long will it take to see results from their investment. At Insiteful Solutions we advise clients to think of SEO work as a long-term project whose investment will pay off in a few months; this wait time between and investment and results can often be off-putting to the people in charge of the SEO budget. But skimping on your SEO will be detrimental to your business in the long run. By working with SEO experts like Insiteful Solutions you will be able to work efficiently and economically to achieve your SEO goals.
At Insiteful Solutions, we work with clients to create brand new websites or improve ones they may already have. Having been in business for over 15 years you can be confident that as the GTA’s leading SEO experts we can lead you through the process of improving your internet search rankings which will result in more clients and customers buying your service or product. Contact us today to get started on your improved SEO results.
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