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Using Chatbots in an e-commerce Store

One of the biggest concerns facing online retailers is how to mimic the in-store experience for customers who want to speak to an actual knowledgeable salesperson.  Now through the advent of artificial intelligence technologies and the creation of talking avatars and chatbots who can engage with online customers and ask them sales related questions, there is a solution for both customers and e-commerce retailers.

A chatbot can help guide an online customer to what products they are looking for and then through the process to purchase their goods and complete the credit card transaction.  It is a great way to save a sale even if a customer for any reason the purchase stops during the checkout process after selecting a product, the chat agent can immediately check to inquire if the customer has any questions or needs more information to complete the sale.  This should decrease shopping cart abandonment for the site. 

A business can also use the chatbot to offer personalized instant discount coupon codes to a potential customer to get the “off the fence” to  complete an important transaction.  In addition, by using a chatbot, you be able to collect, name, email and other personal information to help build a mailing list from website visitors who are just browsing, and gives the store the opportunity to retarget the potential buyer to get them to come back at a later date.  All the bot has to do is ask for a name and email in exchange for a coupon to use in the future.

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Podcast on ADA compliance for Websites

how to make a website accessible

listen live to ADA podcast

Michael Goldstein, the owner of VRG Web Design is also a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and has practiced disability discrimination law for over 10 years.  Due to his combined experience as a lawyer working with handicap individuals and his over 20 years of experience in website design and search engine optimization, he has put together a podcast episode to discuss the issues and concerns about business owners websites need to comply with the Americans with disabilities act and also how by doing so, a website can improve in Google ranking.

Listen to the podcast or go directly to

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Facebook promotion

Did you know that almost 63% of business marketers today work with at least 5 or more influencers on all their campaigns? Why do you think companies are all embracing the idea of influencer marketing? The reason is simple, audiences trust influencers, and they find it relatively easy connecting with them. They have a way of reaching out to their audience, influencing their opinions, decisions, and converting them into loyal customers. Let’s take a look at Huda Kattan for instance, who is a very popular beauty influencer. When she recommends or mentions a beauty product, how many people do you think would want to buy such a product just because of her mention? Several thousand, if not millions! However, finding the right influencers for your business isn’t always an easy task, and sometimes, it can be a very daunting task. In this light, VRG Web Design created a strategy to help you find the right influencer to promote your business service.

Understanding your audiences

In order to find the perfect influencer to promote your business, you first need to understand your audiences. The reason is that your audience is one of the major cornerstones of any influencer marketing strategy. Failure to understand whether or not your target audiences are the ones following an influencer can mar your marketing strategy. For instance, let’s say you have a fashion brand that sells beauty products. And you decide to work with a fashion/beauty blogger so as to boost your brand recognition and sales. However, do you think you’ve made the right call by merely choosing any random blogger because he/she has a million followers? I don’t think so! You need to understand that not every fashion influencer has the same kind of target audience. While some may target women and children, others target only men and millennials as their audiences.  So, beyond the fame and the number of followers, what is it you need to look for? You have to ensure that your target audiences are in line with those of the influencer you are opting for.

Know your influencers

Now that we’ve established the significance of your audience let’s take a look at how you need to evaluate an influencer before you can conclude that he/she is right for your business.

Their reach

The reach of an influencer simply refers to the number of followers they have on their blog or social media pages and profiles

Their engagement

Beyond the reach of an influencer, it is important to check their engagement rates. A very high engagement rate shows that their audiences are truly interested in their content.

Authenticity and personality

An influencer’s authenticity is reflected in their followers’ trust. Hence you need to find influencers whose posts don’t look like something they are paid to do. Also important is their personality. You need to be sure you are choosing an influencer whose personality aligns with your brand’s standards and values.

Where can you find the right influencers?

Social Media

The easiest way to find the right influencers for your business is to look for them on social media.


Hashtags make content accessible and searchable on social platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. So in order to find influencers for your business, search for the right hashtags that may be relevant to your niche.

Google Alerts

Another way to find them is by setting alerts for keywords relevant to your business on search engines like Google. That way, you will find blogs, topics, and articles relating to your business or products.

Blogger outreach platforms

In order to find influencers, check out their blog domain authority and social media statistics to find the ones that tick your boxes.


Finding the right influencer is just the beginning of the process; the real work comes in the form of convincing them. So, how can one convince an influencer to mention their brand in their videos or posts?

Paid marketing

This is, by far, the easiest way to go. Contact the influencers you’ve chosen and let them know about the proposed deal. If you are financially buoyant enough to afford them, this can be a very effective strategy. But you will need to approach them with warm introductions, compelling proposals, attractive deals, and follow them up.

However, if you don’t really have much to spend on influencer marketing, you can try the following tricks.

Offer free publicity

People are often motivated to share posts, mention names and brands that say good things about them or highlight their positive traits. Once you’ve identified the right influencer, you can start to write blogs, share stories, and publish news about your brand that stylishly informs the public about the influencer. Once you’ve created these contents, you can then tag the influencer on social media.

Frequent their sites

If the influencer has, say, a blog or website, you can start by sharing relevant industry news on the site, guest posting about new and relevant industry developments. This will, no doubt, captivate the influencer and invariably encourage him/her to tell his audience about the new industry developments, and hopefully reference your brand in the process.

Provide quality and ask for mentions

Asking an influencer for mentions wouldn’t bring the world crashing down, but you need to be sure that you are providing him/her with quality content – something they consider valuable and beneficial to their audiences. Influencers would be happy to inform their audiences about your business when they see the potential benefits therein.

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Restaurant Marketing Challenges

Restaurant digital marketing

One of the most significant restaurant marketing problems is obviously getting new people in the door. As many restaurant and food marketers are aware, consumers who use their cell phones to search for food convert at nearly 72%.  This is often because when someone is searching for food, they are hungry and ready to buy a meal right away.  They also are looking for someplace that is very close to them, which lends itself to Local SEO.  With that said, 33% of restaurants say attracting and keeping their customers is their number one challenge. 

These two opposing statistics are very telling of a common problem for restaurant’s online marketing.  Either the restaurants are not availing themselves to all the opportunities and benefits of hyper-local search engine optimization, or their websites are not designed with mobile users first in mind.  These problems are not mutually exclusive, as Google as taken a mobile first approach to how they rank local businesses on their maps and for Geo-Centric search terms. 

If I am driving my car in Westford Massachusetts and would like a pizza, I might search “pizza places near me” or “best pizza in Westford”  I would then see 3 pizza places come up on Google, that are very close to my location at the time.  With that said, it is highly unlikely that a pizza or sub shop whose website is not responsive, (changes its display based on the screen size of a cell phone vs. tablet vs. computer monitor) will come up in that top 3 list.  There are also many small things a restaurant can do to their website to increase the likelihood of coming up on that top 3 map view.  For example, they can make sure the term, “Westford Pizza” is in the title tag of their site.  They can also make sure their site loads quickly, and that images have the same keyword term in their file name and in the Alt Tag, that screen readers use to help blind users.  These are just a few onsite changes a food service company might make to their website. 

There are also many things that restaurants can do to help themselves form other platforms such as Facebook, Yelp and Google reviews to increase the likelihood of coming up high on rankings and even when they do, getting customers to click on their link.  The more reviews from third party sites that show someone had a positive experience at a restaurant, the more likely someone will want to learn more.  Remember, when someone is hungry, they are not in research mode, they will look for something that comes up quickly and has good reviews or stars.

For more information on Local SEO or social media marketing, contact a digital marketing agency in your area such as VRG in the Boston area today.

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What is the Difference Between Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts on Facebook?

Facebook Marketing

Simply posting to your Facebook page and hoping that many thousands of people see your content was the way of social media 5 years ago.  However, organic reach in social media is just not a viable option any longer.  If you don’t at least boost your post, it is unlikely that even 10% (probably much less) of your audience will see your content.

Small businesses, especially those that have a local presence, (meaning not an online store only), can reap huge benefits from Internet marketing on social media, as opposed to Google Ad words.  They can reach a much more targeted audience, within very close proximity to their location, while only spending a fraction of the cost of larger Search engine ads.  The two most popular and useful platforms for social media advertising currently are Facebook and Instagram.

It should be noted that Facebook owns Instagram and as such, when advertising with one of these platforms, your marketing can be seen on both platforms with one campaign, giving you a whole lot of bang for your buck.  To keep this article on-point, we will address adverting started through the Facebook platform, where there are two primary ways to go about this.  You can boost a page post, or you can set up a Facebook ad through your Ad Manager.

Boosted Posts:

A boosted post is the simplest form of advertising you can do on Facebook.  It is essentially a post you have created on your business or fan page that you want to share with more people than just those that have liked and followed your page by paying a small fee to promote this post just as it was seen on your page, with the exception of adding a button such as “Learn More” or “contact us”  Without adding a budget to promote your post, it is likely only going to be seen by 3 – 5% of people who like or follow your page, which is of course a limited segment of your current audience.  There are of course things you can do to increase the chances of getting likes, but some type of promotion will make a very big difference. Boosted posts are used to achieve audience engagement such as clicks to your website or get people to like or share your content. 

Facebook Ads:

A Facebook Ad allows you to incorporate much more targeted demographics and utilize more graphic and video options than a simple boosted post.  Facebook News Feed ads allow a business to market a targeted campaign to meet a specific goal where you can choose what type of user sees it including desktop vs. mobile user, Instagram or tablet users.  This is not an option with boosted posts.  You also can select more specific conversion goals in addition to audience engagement you can also target people who are more likely to fill out a form, purchase a product online, install your app, RSVP to an event and other similar more complex goals.  You also can use a Facebook ad to incorporate your Facebook pixel to create custom audiences for your ads including look alike audiences and retargeting those who have already been to your website and did not purchase an item.  Another benefit of using a News Feed Ad is that you can enhance the look of the post by adding headlines, link description, and the display URL.  Finally, you can do a split test with 2 ads running simultaneously with different target audiences, or the same audience but change one thing in your creative, say the headline, or the image to find the perfect ad for your business.

Which is better:

If you have no real knowledge of how to use Facebook Ad Manager, then a boosted post is much simpler and easier to set up, especially, if all you are trying to do is target people in your geographic area.  If, however, you want to use advanced targeting, or advanced marketing functionality such as adding in Headlines, News Feed Link Description, Display URL, split A/B testing then News Feed ads are the way to go. 

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What are the Benefits of Performing an SEO Audit in 2019?

SEO Audit

If your website is not found on page 1 of Google, you can lose up to 95% of potential clicks to your site, domains that slip down to Page 2 only attract 5 percent of search traffic.  With this in mind, before you start working on your website to determine which key words to compete for ranking in Google and Bing, and before you set out a strategy for digital marketing and your businesses online presence, there is one key task that must be performed to get a baseline understanding of your website, social media profiles, and how search engines view it.  This critical task is called an SEO Audit.   An SEO audit report determines about how well a website is doing and if it will be found easily on search engines, local directories and social media.  This is both an exercise in understanding the on-page technical issues you may face, how secure your website is, as well as the content challenges facing you.  It is also a discovery process by which you find out how other websites, directories and even local search engines link to you, as well as link to your most relevant local competitors that are situated in close geographic proximately to your store or service area.

There are many significant benefits of auditing your website’s SEO status.  This report provides comprehensive information about yours and your competitors’ websites and social profiles.   Just a few of the main benefits of an SEO audit report are:

  • Track your website’s programming for page speed and site security.
  • Learn if there are any technical problems that are negatively affecting how Google perceives your website, and if you are subject to any Google penalties
  • It gives you competitive intelligence to not only your site, but also your competitors sites and what they are doing well or poorly as opposed to your online marketing efforts, so you know if you should be focusing on local search to start or a more national level
  • It lets you know what specific steps you can take to improve your domain authority.
  • Provides a report on your top keywords and how high up on Google and Bing you rank as opposed to your top 3 competitors in your local area.
  • You will get a better understanding of how you can improve your website’s ranking on the popular search engines.
  • Provides the information you need to plan and execute the ideas of getting more people to click on your site from the search engine and increase traffic, thereby increasing sales.
  • You can improve your sales, conversions and leads through SEO audit report.

The bottom line is that without a proper SEO audit you do not know what you are doing well, and where your website and digital marketing efforts are falling short.  More importantly, a solid SEO audit report will give you specific action steps you can take to improve your online presence.  If you would like to learn more about search engine audits for your own company, you can follow the above mentioned steps or even easier, use a free SEO Audit Tool.

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How to Evaluate Who You Should Hire for Your SEO Needs?

making a business deal - shaking hands

Businesses today are inundated with unsolicited offers to help them get more leads, and land more sales though online marketing companies and search engine optimization consultants. You probably receive dozens of these types of emails and phone calls every week. Let’s say that you have decided you do need help and would like to hire an expert to help you with your digital marketing. How do you go about determining who is a good vendor to work with and who is just going to take your money and provide no return on investment? There are a few factors that you really need to consider, outside of just price, and where their websites rank on Google. The following are a few of the key factors to consider.

The first question I would ask is what specific SEO strategies they will implement on your website. This is critical because transparency is essential when dealing with web marketing. There is no secret sauce that cannot be disclosed, and if an agency does not want to tell you exactly what they will do, how will you ever know if there efforts resulted in gains, or even if they have done anything at all to justify their bill. In addition, there are certain things that can harm your website ranking, such as reciprocal links (offering to link to another site, only if they link to you).  Also, adding a bunch of keywords to your pages that don’t make sense or hiding those words with white text on a white background.  This shows that the agency is using either outdated or “Blackhat” techniques that at best will only result in short term gains and ultimately will fail.

Social signals have become a huge factor in Google and Bing’s ranking algorithms. Meaning how your company engages with its audience on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc., and how many reviews of your company are found on Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare can impact your rankings. As such, you should ask, what social strategies the company will use for SEO. Will they create content to post on Facebook and Instagram and will they boost those posts to try to get likes and shares? Will they engage your followers to provide reviews?

Being found locally on Google is so important for mobile searchers.  You need to know if an search agency has a strategy to come up on the maps when someone searches for your businesses service and city location. Not appearing in the first 3 listings under the map would mean losing visibility and business from your local community. Ask if “Google Places” is part of their strategy and if so, how they optimize your local listing.

Noting is a guarantee in life and being #1 on Google is no different. With that in mind, ask if they guarantee #1 ranking on Google for any of your competitive keywords. If they say yes, then they are likely going to buy the keyword phrase for short-term proof, but once they stop spending money, you will lose your ranking.

What type of reporting will you get from your SEO agency?  As I said before, transparency is critical and if your agency does not have some way to show you the results and trends of keywords, clicks to your site, and where people are coming from, then how do you know if you want to continue with the marketing campaign.  Often, a good search agency will also provide you with a unique phone number for your social media and SEO efforts which can be tracked.  This way you know exactly what traffic is contacting you directly from their marketing efforts.  Most successful agencies will have a dashboard you can log onto 24/7 to let you see real time reports and results pulled directly form Google Analytics.

Finally, and although not critical, I would ask what industry blogs and websites they stay current with. Most good SEO analysts will follow search engine journal and search engine watch religiously to keep up with the latest SEO, social media and pay per click strategies and major algorithm updates.

At the end of the day, you will have to gauge the credibility of these answers and compare them to other SEO vendors, but at the very least you will be armed with information and be able to ask the questions that need to be answered.

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Why Mobile Search is Important to Businsses

mobile search

More and More people are searching for goods and services on their cell phones and mobile devices. Google knows this and as such will present different results when someone is searching on their phone and on the road based upon their actual location as opposed to at their home or work. With this in mind, businesses need to be mindful of how their website responds to different screen sizes and how its location schema and other mobile signals might effect its ranking on Google, Siri and other voice searches.

infographic on mobile search

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Why Hire a professional Website Designer

eye for design

Innovation and professional image are the keys to success.  However, to be innovative you need to be able to look beyond and improve upon that which others may believe to be good enough.  With the limitations of mobile and responsive design, it is becoming even more important to stand out and not look like everyone else on the Internet.  Due to smaller screen sizes, this requirement in web design necessitates the artistic creativity of a special kind of person known as a graphic designer.

As it relates to your businesses marketing and brand persona, you only get one first chance to portray your business brand and image to world.  To do so, often times requires a graphic designer’s vision and artistic eye. They’re creativity and eye for design can make all the difference in the world.

Even with all of this said, many people would undoubtedly still ask themselves, why hire a graphic designer when they can do the job them self? Good question, but if you are really thinking of making a good impression to your customers and you lack a great deal of artistic talent, a professional designer can assist with designs and tweaks to web templates that might not ever occur to the business owner. Remember that it is not always about the money. Sometimes it is worth spending a little cash when you can expect bigger returns. And you will be amazed with the difference a graphic designer can make with the idea that you have.

As a matter of example, a company would like to create a new attractive and memorable logo.  You informed your designer that you want different fonts and colors in your logo. But your designer said that what you are thinking can indeed make your business look catchy but at the same time give people bad signals.  With this in mind, the graphic designer creates several unique designs for you to choose while keeping with the theme that the business owner had in mind.  The end result might be that professional designer using his artistic eye developed several logos options that made your idea look stunning and inspiring.

You can see that there are many circumstances where a professional designer can help turn your website into a remarkable design. Remember that you are building a public image for your business, as such, there is little room to sacrifice the quality of your brand just to save a few bucks.