New commissionable products and services, more account managers and new sales tools to enhance our partners’ success.By Lisa Heritage McLin – August 6, 2019
Delivering Fanatical Experience for our partners is the foundation of Rackspace’s Channel strategy, and that means we’re always working on improvements and upgrades to better serve you.
As we head deeper into the second half of 2019, I’m excited to share the innovative new resources we’ve been developing and invite you to join us. Leverage our brand to build yours!
First, a little kudos. The Rackspace Partner Network is currently experiencing approximately 10 percent quarter-over-quarter growth. This is thanks to the dedication of our entire team, but also the strategic work of Michael Stephens, who joined Rackspace in 2016. He has driven hyper growth through the agent community ever since then and will now serve as our Agent Channel Chief.
At the same time, we’ve also boosted the number of partner account managers across the U.S. and added an enterprise account team. These additions allow Rackspace to be more proactive and closer to our partners’ prospects and customers. We’ve also added new commissionable products and created new enablement resources to help you serve customers. Read on to learn more:
Managed VMware Cloud on AWS is now a commissionable product. This unique cloud solution is a hybrid platform that offers access to public and private cloud, with the ability to shift workloads seamlessly between them. Companies can quickly add capacity to a new project or move workloads hosted on dedicated hardware to the cloud.
We also now offer commission for Rackspace Professional Services engagements. As customers seek more bespoke cloud expertise, Professional Services has become one of the fastest growing areas of our business.
In response to partner demand, we’ve created Technical Partner Workshops, which will serve partners who support technology and product integration solutions for their customers’ digital transformation strategies. The workshops will be led by Rackspace Solution Architect Paul Croteau, who brings 25 years of experience in engineering, sales, technical training and account management to the task. Paul will help our partner solution engineering organizations find the best fit cloud transformation opportunities for their customers.
All Clouds Guide
What if you could ask your customers a series of questions, then immediately get a customized cloud solution based on their answers?
We’ve got an app for that.
Our new All Cloud Guide is a sales tool that helps our partners quickly and accurately identify a customer’s needs, then get recommended cloud infrastructures choices based on those needs. Available as both a web and mobile app, the All Clouds Guide will recommend one or a combination of five infrastructure types: public cloud, private cloud, bare metal, server virtualization and colocation.
A sophisticated algorithm drives the All Cloud Guide, analyzing each answer by leveraging Rackspace’s two decades of experience. Quick, targeted videos offer support every step of the way, including:
Learn: “Why This Question?” videos will help our partners understand the importance of each particular question and the best way to explain how knowing this information will help navigate them to a “best fit” infrastructure.
Sell: Partners are walked through two main sets of questions, Business Background and Technical Deep Dive, to create an All Clouds Guide Workload report for their end client.
Share: The guide delivers its recommendation in real time, allowing you to immediately share with your customer on screen, via email, with a printout or PDF. Our partners can submit their workload report to Rackspace for fast follow up from our industry-leading experts.
Track: Keep up with all sales activity for your organization in easy-to-view lists and dashboards.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry is rapidly increasing—and for good reason. AI comes with promises of better patient outcomes, reduced operational cost and increased efficiency, but it’s not a perfect world, especially as healthcare organizations are struggling with implementation and use of AI and machine learning technologies.
And what’s more, with industry executives predicting that AI will be ubiquitous in the field by 2025, healthcare organizations are also grappling with limiting the use of technology in instances where a human touch is more appropriate.
At its roots, healthcare is still an incredibly personal industry that deals with the most important factor to everyone — health. When it comes to integrating technology into certain aspects of healthcare like communications, there will inevitably be a time when it makes sense for patients to speak with a live person face-to-face.
Consider an instance where a patient is repeatedly using telemedicine (a field increasingly adopting AI to improve upon patient interactions) to interact with their physician. There are foreseeable instances where a doctor may have to see their patient face-to-face. Finding the right balance of knowing when to use technology and when to supplement with human interactions is essential.
So how can institutions execute a successful “man-needs-machine and vice versa” outlook? Organizations need to consider these two new approaches as part of their AI implementation.
An IoT Approach
Wearables and health applications are much more widely adopted as they are driving patients to be more active participants in their own healthcare and giving them greater access to their medical data.
IoT technology, like sleep monitoring devices or fitness trackers, allow them to monitor their health, connect with their electronic medical records and share key health information with their doctor, all from their own devices. AI then takes this IoT-driven information and aggregates it for healthcare organizations to analyze and provide more personalized care.
This approach, centered around IoT, is about moving from a reactive business to a proactive business by leveraging new AI and machine learning capabilities to better predict outcomes. In the case of a sleep monitor for example, the device monitors a patient’s sleep habits and an adjacent interactive application coaches the patient by sending reminders and adapting to the patient’s individual habits.
This is great for those looking to monitor their health on an ongoing basis. However, once the technology shares predictive analytics and recommendations daily, it’s best that a physician monitors that data as well, to provide more effective treatment (perhaps once a year or more depending on the patient’s condition).
A Patient Experience Approach
In the unfortunate scenario of a fatal diagnosis, AI could be used throughout the patient’s diagnosis process — assisting physicians, saving time and improving critical outcomes. But when it comes to delivering the news that this patient is in a critical condition, interactions should be sensitive and come from a face-to-face conversation.
When using AI as part of the patient experience, it’s all about moving from a cost center to a profit center. This means making access to healthcare more convenient. The industry should approach healthcare services the same way companies such as Amazon, Uber, AirBnB and Netflix are meeting consumer demand for more convenient retail and subscriber services experiences.
Communications and customer experience technology can provide both proactive and reactive omnichannel experiences anytime, anywhere and across any device. Healthcare organizations should also use technology to automate tasks that take clinicians away from the more personal patient interactions that will always require a human touch.
These organizations can better use their clinicians to perform higher value work where AI cannot, like interacting with patients. Communications and customer experience tools can also be used to provide personalized self-service and live agent experiences. This serves to meet some of the most frequent complaints about patient experience, including:
• Poor experiences with office staff
• The feeling that a patient is just a number rather than a person
• Difficulty scheduling appointments
By leveraging open API integrations with healthcare tools like Epic, both self-service and live-agent assisted conversations can be more efficient, effective and personalized. Integrating self-service customer experience tools into patient scheduling applications puts the power in the patient’s hands to manage their own appointment adds, moves and changes.
Moving Forward With AI
The great news is that AI has been democratized and made much more readily available to organizations due to the rapid pace of innovation. However, to best realize the benefits, healthcare organizations must not move toward a pure reliance on this technology. They should explore and implement new approaches to find the right balance between using technology in a smart way while preserving the clinician-patient relationship.
A critical component of this is leveraging AI to assist humans in their day-to-day, rather than replace humans altogether. AI is a natural extension of self-service that can be used to provide even more effective experiences leveraging natural language processing and machine learning abilities.
But AI is not the solution to every customer interaction, and there will always be glaring conditions where AI-enabled interactions need to seamlessly escalate to live-assisted human interactions. Healthcare organizations implementing (or considering) AI should already be thinking about what this will look like in reality, starting by identifying situations where a more human touch is required.
Search engine optimization is one of the more complicated and mysterious pieces of online marketing tactics. Small business owners and marketing professionals alike are often intimidated by the ever-changing algorithm updates and inherent uncertainties that accompany an SEO strategy.
However, the fact is, that while the intricacies of deep optimization for search can be challenging, there are some basic tactics that you, as a small business owner, can take to position yourself to be discovered through search.
Understanding SEO basics
Understanding how SEO actually works is the first step. While this won’t turn you into an immediate pro, learning a few of the basics can help demystify it.
In a nutshell, search engines crawl the internet looking for content to index and then use a complex series of variables to determine and verify what your content is, establishing which keyword searches your pages will show up for – and most importantly, where in the list you will rank.
To make these determinations, Google’s algorithm looks at both on and off-page SEO elements.
On-page SEO refers to what search engines can identify as the actual content and technical components of your site. In addition to the content itself, meaning the words/keywords that are part of your copy, on-page elements include:
Metadata / Title Tags and Header Tags
Image Alt Tag
XML sitemaps and architecture
Off-page SEO elements are all about authority and authenticity. Basically, Google looks to external linking to verify that you are who you say you are. They look at all the potential inputs outside of your content and technical information on your website. The tactic of link-building is a key component to off-page SEO success and one that takes time to develop and expand.
Getting started with search engine optimization
Now that you understand how search engines function, you can move towards selecting the keywords and content that you want to rank for.
Utilizing SEO tools can assist greatly in this process as they help to understand what your competition ranks for and where your greatest opportunities lie. Be sure to consider the overall search volume and the “value” of a keyword when making these selections. There are many tools available, for those with time to spare, to help see how Google ranks your website. The information tracked ranges from your indexed pages, external links, rankings, and important keywords.
Keyword research and competitive analysis is an ongoing and time-consuming endeavor, so be mindful that these findings will come over time.
Here’s the most important thing to understand: SEO and inbound marketing have a synergistic relationship. SEO ensures content is discovered, which results in inbound marketing, and marketing enables search success by creating high-quality content that can then become discoverable.
Therefore, since content is king, most marketers focus on the written words on your page as the basis of an SEO strategy. But here’s the secret – SEO success is driven by much more than that.
Here are 5 tips on where to focus to enhance your rankings:
Secret #1: Business Listings Management
Businesses are listed in a multitude of online directories, well more than you may realize. As Google crawls all these directories, it’s imperative that your listings are consistent, right down to Street vs St. within your address.
Consistent listings prove to Google that you are one business and will help you show for search, specifically local search, which is when Google provides results that are specifically relevant based on location. Every local business wants to appear on Google Maps results, and consistent listings management is the first step to this.
We have a free tool that lets you check if your listings are indeed consistent, check it out here.
To maximize your exposure, your GMB profile must be relevant. This means you have claimed and verified your GMB page. You are posting content on a regular basis. Whether that is an article you recently published, answering questions from customers or creating events, the more content you publish, the higher you’ll rank. And finally, you need to ask for and respond to, reviews.
Secret #3: Blog Articles
Remember, content is king. But content is not just your web pages. It’s also what you write about in your blog. Posting blog articles, whether they are a section of your own site or on a 3rd party site, expands your content and keyword reach, allowing you to rank for terms that may not be optimized for on your main site. Blogs establish your business as subject matter experts, increasing your thought leadership profile within the industry. The more you write, the more you will appear to your prospects and customers when they are searching.
Secret #4: Social Media Profiles & Postings
In the same way that blogging expands your content reach, so does social media postings. As Google indexes tweets in real-time, your social media efforts will serve to broaden your visibility and reach. Social media also gives you the opportunity to expand and experiment with your messages to see what resonates best with your customers.
Secret #5: Review Site Responses & Replies
In the world of Yelp, Google and Facebook reviews, your customer base is relying on what others are saying about your business. We have covered the importance of online reviews many, many times, but the benefits of doing so also have SEO implications. Review responses expand your content reach and discoverability in searches both within and outside of the review platforms.
Measure SEO Success
Like all marketing tactics, measurement is essential to ensure your strategies are successful.
Track data around things like rankings, referrals, backlinks, and conversions in order to analyze your SEO strategy and optimize it for success. Most importantly, be sure that your SEO strategy is aligned to drive your business goals. It’s not just about discovery and visibility, but that your content is being clicked on and actioned in a way that drives value.
Overall, while search engine optimization is no doubt a complex process, it’s not an impossible one. Follow a few of these quick tips to see how you too can benefit from the power of search.
With tools like the Vivial platform, search engine optimization has gotten even easier. Our services will enable the critical tactics like business listing management, content creation, and reputation management, ensuring your business is well-positioned for success in your local market. Learn more about Vivial and the services we provide.
Most of the country has just sprung forward into Daylight Savings Time. For many, this time-change signals more than just darker mornings and lighter nights. It signals the unofficial start of spring. With spring comes rain showers, flowers, spring break and spring cleaning. If you’re a business—spring brings its own set of implications. Whether you’re a business likely to be impacted by tourists on spring break or you’re a service business impacted by homeowners looking to make preparations for the warmer weather, here’s a couple of low effort, high-impact tips and tricks to try out as you spring clean your business.
Clean up your directory listings
There are hundreds of directories online which will list your business information. If you’re not the one giving them that information, they’ll get it wherever they can. Be the source of authority and develop a direct relationship with the major online directories to ensure your name, address, phone number and hours are all correct. As the spring tourism boom gets underway, the last thing you want is customers hitting up the wrong address, calling the wrong number or showing up when you’re closed. There are solutions out there that make managing hundreds of listings a snap.
Freshen up your Facebook profile
Put something cheery on your cover photo. Post a special deal. Run a spring contest. The sky is the limit when it comes to freshening up your Facebook presence this spring. Whether you’re a landscaper posting pictures of before-and-afters, an HVAC company offering a deal on spring tune-ups for air conditioning or a beauty salon sharing the hottest new nail colors for pedicures in 2019—every business has something that can make them relevant this spring season.
Fresh, new content brings your business back to the forefront of consumers’ minds if you’re a business that perhaps dwindles a bit in winter. If you’re a winter-driven business stay or get active on Facebook right now to remind customers that you’re still around and relevant even in the warmer seasons! Plus, make sure if your hours change by season, you’re updating them on Facebook as well!
Give your website a spring makeover
You’re clearly not going to redesign your website seasonally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it fresh! We’re big proponents of making sure you consistently update and add to the content on your website. Your website is often the first impression customers get of your business. If the last time you posted on your site was “Merry Christmas!” it might give customers the idea that you’re no longer in business or not interested in providing value or utility to them.
Further, the recency with which you have posted on your website has a decent impact on how well you rank in search results. If Google thinks your website hasn’t been updated in a while, it’s not as likely to list your website very high in the search results. So, freshness becomes key to getting found by potential customers when they’re searching. Update your business hours, feature spring-like imagery if possible, and even post a quick blog or deal related to spring.
Whether your business is seasonal or booming year-round there is always benefit in maintaining a fresh, relevant online presence. Directories, social media and your business website offer quick, easy ways to give your business that fresh, spring-cleaned appearance that’s sure to drive engagement and new business.
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