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'Net Features

Discover recent digital developments and practical expert guidance in the Website Magazine Net Features weblog.


Breaking: Third DDoS Attack Underway

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:47:00 GMT

:: Update: According to Dyn representatives, service has been restored as of 6:17 p.m EST, Friday. Latest updates from Dyn can be found here. :: Cyberattacks are more than just a political commentary for those who conduct business online, but with banking, entertainment and communication taking place digitally every day - that's all of us, whether we own or manage a website or not. Web professionals have long understood the magnitude of cyberattacks (read more here), but even they got a wake up call Friday when some of the U.S.'s most popular sites were hit, twice, and a third is underway as Dyn alerted customers - a situation that Dynatrace calls preventable (more commentary below). A large-scale distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against Internet performance company Dyn prevented the access to at least Twitter, Etsy, Spotify, Dyn and Github. Shutterstock had also been down for Website Magazine and came back up the same time Twitter did, and users have reported outages at Netflix, Amazon, Tumblr and Reddit.  Dyn told CNBC Friday afternoon the attacks are "well planned and executed, coming from tens of millions of IP addresses at the same time." Of course DDoS attacks happen when individuals or groups send fake traffic in excess amounts to take a site offline (think of how unprepared sites crash during high-traffic periods but these attacks have malicious intent).  Dyn told CNBC that one of the sources of the attack is coming from "Internet of Things" - risks Website Magazine has warned about (repeatedly).  Website Magazine reached out to Dyn and did not receive immediate comment. Catchpoint is in the performance monitoring business and can comment on the impact of this problem, but not how the security was breached.  "This is one of the nastiest attacks we have seen in a long time, and a sign of more powerful attacks to come," said Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder, Catchpoint Systems. "The increasingly fragile and interconnected state of the Internet is an Achilles heel, and hackers are capitalizing on this  vulnerability. They're like snipers,  strategically taking aim at the highest value targets to create the biggest possible ripple effect of damage across the Internet, with the least amount of effort." For perspective, research from Kaspersky Lab indicates that a single cybersecurity incident costs large businesses, on average, a total of $861,000 while SMBs pay an average of $86,5000.  A Preventable Situation David Jones is the director of sales engineering and APM evangelism for digital performance management software company Dynatrace and has provided the following commentary about today's attacks: Today, Dynatrace monitored the widespread issue that impacted the performance of many Web-based businesses, impacting users in the northeastern U.S. What we know is the DNS health was the root cause of the issue. As websites, cloud and mobile applications become ever more complex to manage, ensuring performance remains a challenge for any business that depends on the Web to deliver services, products and information. These kinds of situations can dramatically impact a digital business’ revenue and brand image - but they are also preventable. • It’s critical for businesses to have a DNS failover strategy. Relying on a single DNS provider is a recipe for disaster, as many have learned as a result of today’s attack. Maintaining relationships with multiple vendors allows businesses to switch DNS routing as soon as an issue arises. • It’s important to manage the number of third-party connected to websites and apps. The more third-parties, the higher the risk of performance problems. • Use software “robots” - aka synthetic monitoring - to monitor your website. This ensures that your site can be reached from wherever your end users are located and will alert you the very moment something is amiss.   Request Website Magazine's Free W[...]

The Key to Successful Personal Branding is a Thriving Website

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:10:00 GMT

:: By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3 :: Every entrepreneur and Web professional knows just how important personal branding is in today’s Internet-based marketplace. Whether you’re looking to funnel customers to one of your businesses, pick up speaking engagements, explore new career opportunities or grow your social media following, a personal brand is key to being successful. But did you know that it all starts with your website? Here’s How to Build a Successful Personal Site  When you speak to today’s leading entrepreneurs, it becomes immediately apparent that online personal branding is paramount to visibility and sustained success. Count 26-year-old success story Sam Ovens as one of the believers. “Each media hit, speaking opportunity or social media post has the potential to bring you a new customer. Personal branding is an essential tool for business success,” he explains. And while social media plays a role, your website is the best place to begin. It’s your home base, so to speak, and should be given priority. Specifically, you should focus on the following five elements: 1. Simplicity The key to a successful website is to make it simple. Don’t try to wow visitors with complex multimedia elements and confusing graphics. Instead, deliver a consistent and poignant message that says, “Here I am and here’s what I do.” Your website should feature just three or four different pages – one of which contains a portfolio or referrals – and all should be easily reachable via the homepage.   2. Navigation “The design of a website’s navigation has a bigger impact on success or failure than almost any other factor,” web designer Andy Crestodina says. “It affects traffic and search engine rankings. It affects conversions and user-friendliness. Everything important about your website is connected to the navigation, from content to the URLs.” Why, then, do so few entrepreneurs spend time perfecting this aspect of their sites? If you want to have a successful site that keeps visitors engaged, make sure you’re placing a bigger emphasis on agile navigation. 3. Content While static pages – such as your homepage and contact page – are the bread and butter of your site, your blog is what generates backlinks and helps you enhance your name recognition.  You should be posting regular content to your site’s blog every single week. You don’t have to publish multiple posts per day, but do make it a habit to regularly share high-quality content that resonates with your target audience and encourages social sharing. These are the lures to your site and they constantly need to be baited. 4. Landing Pages If you’re selling a specific service or product, then you need to get familiar with landing pages. These are dedicated pages that pull targeted visitors in and push them through the conversion funnel. You can use landing pages to quickly grow your audience around a specific topic or niche. 5. Opt-In Forms Part of building a personal brand is growing your audience. And while acquiring website visitors is great, you ultimately need to convert these visitors into leads. The best way to do this is by integrating email opt-in forms into your site.  According to ExactTarget, email is the number one channel for delivering marketing messages. Their research reveals that 77 percent of customers like receiving permission-based marketing communications through email. Develop simple and attractive opt-in forms and you stand a much better chance of monetizing your traffic. Make Personal Branding a Priority It’s easy to assume that in-person networking and the occasional LinkedIn request is adequate, but in today’s hyperconnected business world, online personal branding is critically important. And it all starts with your website. Develop a strong website and everything else will fall into place. What are you waiting for? Start building your site today and di[...]

Seeing Your Brand through Customer-Colored Glasses

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

By George Skaff, Nuance Communications As a customer-centric brand, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that you understand what your customers want. But, do you really? Or do you project your own perceptions of how a customer experience should look? If your brand is missing the mark in customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores or conversion rates, perhaps it is time to take off the business glasses and try on the customer glasses for a while. See what your customers see when they travel a journey with your brand. Blurred Vision Customer-colored glasses would give you an omnichannel view, in which the lines between all the channels used by the customer are blurred into one unified experience with your brand. These lines have been blurred by the smartphone, in which voice, social, email, SMS, apps, Web chat, etc., are all a part of the same experience, being held in the same hand. Wearing the customer-colored glasses, you can experience the customer’s mindset. Following their steps, you will see those blurred lines and understand how consumers consider all the touchpoints of the journey as one long interaction, regardless of how many devices, how many locations or how many separate times they contact your brand. It’s all part of the same experience, especially if their mobile device is involved. How to Get a Hold of Your Customers’ Glasses  You can get these customer glasses with a contact center that has an omnichannel view. Break down the company’s silos and consolidate the data from all the different channels, creating one single knowledge base – one single view. Customer-Colored Glasses Make Your Brand Look Smart From this harmonious view, your customer experience team can gather the intelligence needed to direct the customer to the right agent. By knowing where they’ve been, what they’ve been searching, or what they’ve been asking, you can provide knowledgeable answers that cater to their needs. This is an important aspect of your contact center because by 2020, customers will expect companies to know their individual needs and to proactively address their current and future needs. (Walker) An Advantageous View Seeing the customer journey from the customer’s perspective also enables your agents to influence the purchase process. By examining buyer behaviors throughout the customer’s journey you can develop an appropriate engagement strategy for that customer. What channels did they respond to most positively? Where are they located? What search terms did they use? What have they purchased from your brand in the past? This kind of customer knowledge equips you to present the right content at the right time, through the channel in which they prefer to engage, leading them to the desired purchase decision. Proof? 58 percent of customers are willing to spend more on companies that provide excellent customer service. (American Express) Go Ahead So, put on those customer-colored glasses and give your brand an omnichannel view that enables your contact center to give customers a more satisfying experience and produces better conversions. Seeing your brand the way your customers see it will give you the comprehensive perspective that lets you understand what makes your customers loyal to you. About the Author George Skaff is vice president of worldwide marketing for the enterprise division of Nuance Communications, a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Nuance recently acquired digital engagement solutions leader, TouchCommerce, of which Skaff was the chief marketing officer. George has over 25 years of progressive experience in the computer industry, and has demonstrated a proven business expertise in marketing and strategic partnerships for various sized companies in high technology and services areas.  Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters [...]

Tips & Tricks for Holiday Email Marketing [Infographic]

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:55:00 GMT

With Halloween just 10 days away, Campaigner looked at some holiday email tactics that won't make retailers "lose their head" as the industry rides closer to the most critical shopping season of the year. 

Remember the following tips and tricks for email marketing, when metrics or sales seem to be stale or messages need a boost:


(image)  Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters 


101: The Right Site Search for Online Stores

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:50:00 GMT

:: By Alexander Levashov, Magenable :: Do you know what must-have online store functionality is used by 43 percent of visitor and provides 1.5-3 times better conversion? Your guess is right, it is site search. In this post you can find what makes great e-commerce site search. What is Site Search and Why Should I care? Site search, or internal site search, is functionality visitors use to find content related to their goals. It is different from search engines like Google that index the Internet; it's a search of a website's content.  The bigger an online store, the more important good site search is, because it is the most direct path to a product or content.  There are number of studies that prove the importance of site search: ● Forrester Research in its “Must-Have E-Commerce Features” report found that 43 percent of visitors navigate straight to the search box and searchers are 2-3x more likely to convert compared to non-searchers.  ● A Screen Pages (a UK-based agency, specializes in Magento) report based on stats from 21 websites indicated that visitors who use search convert 1.5 time better   In addition to conversion improvements, site search helps merchants understand what customers want/need. By tracing search queries, especially with zero products found, retailers can find out what products are in demand and use that information for planning purposes. What is right e-commerce site search? So site search is important, but what is the right site search? What is the difference between decent and poorly done search? To get answer to this question, let's explore a comprehensive study published by Baymart Institute, which reviews site search facilities of 50 leading U.S. retailers. The top recommended best practices of great internal search are below: Search by product name and model number  Make sure searching by product name and model number is not only doable, but also ideally your search engine is smart enough to forgive a typo or two and still display references to right products.  Smart work with terminology/jargon and synonyms We use different words to refer to the same objects. For example “laptops” can be also called “notebooks,” so if you use one term on the website, your customer uses another in search and if your search isn’t smart enough – you may lose a sale. Correct work with special symbols A good example of this is (13 " laptop), which a person may be referring to as a (13 inch laptop). Smart search understands this.   Understanding abbreviations For example some people type “MFC” for multi-functional device or “PC” for computer. Auto-completion and auto-suggestion Typical problems with auto-suggestions are: ● Dead ends (term suggested have not linked to any page); ● Ambiguous suggestions, making users unsure, which one to follow. An example there was suggestions of “samsung adaptor” and “sumsung adapter” when user started to type “samsung adapt”; ● Redundant and duplicate suggestions. It happens particularly when auto-suggestion logic is based on past searches or when a user types in the same keyword several times.  Employ faceted search, especially if you have an extensive catalog  Faceted search is the ability for the user to filter and sort search results based on set of certain search parameters (like product attributes – price, color, size, etc.). As with auto-completion/suggestion it is important not just have it, but implement it right, so it helps your users rather than confuse them. Breadcrumbs Have meaningful breadcrumbs when users come from search results page. Ideally there should be both history and hierarchical based breadcrumbs, so users can both return to search results and go up to the store hierarchy from there. Search box placement Place your search box prominently, it should[...]

The Evolution of the Business Conference [Infographic]

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:15:00 GMT

From bigger names giving keynotes and providing the entertainment to increasing ticket prices and audience sizes, business conferences have become over-the-top spectacles, which has its pros and cons.

Letting their hair down or being motivated by an inspirational speaker is only beneficial to attendees if there were plenty of value adds throughout the day, as attendance comes at a cost (actual travel fare and time away from the office). Nextiva provides a look at the evolution of businesses conferences in this interesting infographic below.

(Editor's note: To zoom in, click on the image.)


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E-Tailers: Tune Up Your On-Site Search Before the Holiday Rush

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

:: By Jordi Torras, Inbenta :: The holiday season is already upon us. In fact, 40 percent of consumers begin holiday shopping by Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation. For e-tailers, this means the time is now to take stock of how well your website is performing and make any updates necessary to prepare for the holiday rush. Unquestionably, the holiday shopping season is a vital time making a final push past annual sales goals or to try and catch up if it’s been a down year. Beyond that, it’s also an opportunity for brands to set themselves up for long-term success, earning real affinity and customer loyalty by providing an outstanding customer experience (CX) during the height of holiday shopping chaos. Of course, not every purchase journey is going to be seamless. A spike in traffic hopefully means a surge in sales, which often translates to a larger volume of customer help cases. Some companies cringe at the thought of spending more time and money to handle a short-term surge in traffic. Other brands, however, welcome it as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with their customers and convert them into advocates (as well as repeat customers in the future) by delivering an exceptional customer support experience. Better CX Through Self-Service Support Online shoppers prefer to troubleshoot issues on their own, making self-service tools an absolute necessity for your website. A whopping 72 percent of online buyers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email. Capitalizing on that trend and offering intuitive, effective self-service can lower costs, improve customer care productivity and increase conversion. So what makes a solid self-support solution, how do you help customers help themselves? Here are three key strategies for supercharging your e-commerce site ahead of the biggest shopping month of the year. Search Bar: Make information easy to find Think of your site’s search bar as the warm welcome you might get from a store owner when you walk in the door. It represents an offer of help, should the customer want some guidance through the store. Yet, like an inattentive store associate might turn a customer off from wanting to browse a physical store, a poorly placed search bar can have the same effect on an online shopper’s experience and motivation. E-tailers with an intuitive search experience often see customers using the search box as their very first action, using it effectively as a guide for the site. Those with poorly placed or hard-to-find search bars risk cart abandonment according to Forrester data that found 53 percent of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can't find quick answers to their questions. Avoid this by making sure the gateway to your entire site is easy to find. Simply put: having a prominent search bar can be the difference between a happy customer and one you’ve lost to a competitor. Connected Search and FAQs What’s the first thing most people do on a site when they have a question? Well according to Forrester, 81 percent of online visitors click on the FAQ and hope there’s a good answer awaiting. Given those figures, having a well-structured and optimized FAQ is imperative to ensuring that your customers can find what they’re looking for. Optimized FAQ pages should be responsive and evolve over time to match common customer queries (hence the “frequently” in FAQ) and direct them to what they’re looking for with ease. But since the overwhelming majority of e-commerce websites still use keyword-based on-site search engines, it’s often much harder to make the connection between a search and the FAQs than necessary. Keyword-based search systems require specific words and phrases to deliver any meaningful results. So, if a customer do[...]

How Well Are You Connecting People With The Right Products?

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

:: By Julie Barile :: It seems like a simple, straightforward concept – a shopper types a search word or phrase into the search box on an ecommerce site and voila! The shopper gets what the shopper ordered. At least that's how it happens sometimes. While the process of delivering the right product to the right person at the right time seems elementary, doing it right is actually very complex, and many retailers are still not doing it well. The art and science of “product findability” touches nearly every part of a retail organization across all channels, customer touch points and functions. And it affects the bottom line as the ability for shoppers to easily find what they are looking for has a direct impact on average order value, conversion and loyalty. Aligning all parts of a business around the concept of maximizing product findability is the first step in creating the truly seamless, frictionless experience that customers are demanding. Product Findability Starts with Good Data  Before starting down the path of improving product findability, take stock of your data situation. Effective product findability is driven by the intersection of real-time customer behavior, demographic, geographic and historical customer data, combined with enhanced product data. You should have a good understanding of how all of this data is collected, managed, stored and accessed by the technologies that power product findability. Data quality and accessibility are the single biggest predictors of product findability efficacy. Enhance Your Product Data Product data is often overlooked when thinking about product findability. Retailers, however, can no longer rely on basic product data to do the heavy lifting of connecting people and products. Advances in natural language search technologies are supporting finding products the way shoppers think about them. Digital assistants and mobile voice-to-text are the most prominent examples of natural language search today, and they will have a big impact on digital commerce tomorrow. All retailers should consider implementing solutions that enhance product data beyond what is native to their digital commerce merchandising tools. These solutions will allow for the inclusion of natural language descriptors, product features, multi-word phrases, and problem and solution-oriented terminology – all of which should be accounted for in a comprehensive product data set. Allowing for regional language nuances is also important in supporting product relevancy (for example “trousers” versus “pants”, “backpack versus knapsack”, and “soda” versus “pop”). A fully attributed product catalog delivers better search results, provides more relevant facets, filters, and drill-downs, powers more comprehensive data feeds and greatly improves the efficacy of personalization solutions. Product Findability is Not One-Size-Fits-All Products range widely in complexity and the duration of sales cycles. Complex, high-ticket items such as appliances, cars and furniture require more information and longer purchase cycles than commodities and apparel. It’s important that your mix of product findability solutions makes sense for the types of products you sell, the sales channels you sell in and the process by which customers make purchase decisions. For example, products with longer sales cycles are best supported by solutions which have guided selling features taking your customer through a process of selecting desired product attributes, and product comparison functionality allowing shoppers to compare line item product details and features against price differences. For product assortments with large and complex category structures, dynamic facets and filters generated from comprehensive product data helps your shopper get to[...]

Web Design Trends for 2017

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:00:00 GMT

:: By Manas Kumar, Top Notch Dezigns :: Websites are one of the most crucial parts of any business, and it’s imperative brands keep up with the latest trends and technology surrounding Web development in order to meet visitors’ expectations. The following are a few examples of the features you can expect from updated websites in 2017 (in no particular order). 1. Age-based responsive design Currently, we see Web pages change their outlook in accordance with the size and resolution of the device, but sooner or later these pages have to adopt to the visitor’s age as well. The reason is simple. You cannot expect an 8-year-old to read news formatted for a 30-year-old. By the end of 2017, you can expect Web pages to respond according to the age of the user for sites that cater to multiple age groups. The pages may change the look of the navigation bar to a stripped-down version for the beginners while it may remain a bit complicated for the expert users. For elderly users, the font size may also vary. The young ones can expect to see more vibrant colors while the middle-aged and elderly ones will see a much simpler version of the Web page. Using age-based responsive design requires, of course, a commitment to collecting and using customer data to improve their experience and identify user personas.  2. Mobile browsing to increase As smartphone technology advances quickly, more users will divert their attention to mobile devices rather than buying a big computer. This will increase the need for mobile-based apps and website versions in the future. In 2016, websites that did not adapt to mobile devices were punished by users (in the form of bounces) and the search engines (in the form of lower rankings). In 2017, these effects will be felt further. 3. Use of space gets more creative As we advanced in Web technology, designers often felt that the website should look simple and sleek – leading to minimalistic design. The trend is again changing and customers, as well as users, are looking for more vivid and soothing designs instead of just looking at a simple page where everything is flat and monotone. 4. Lazy Loading It is a concept that allows part of the page to load as soon as it is requested. The user does not have to wait for the whole page to load. This not only saves a lot of time and data, but also allows the website owner to save bandwidth. This trend may increase in the coming year and more websites will use it to reduce loading time for the users – to the betterment of search rankings and user-experience metrics. 5. Custom graphics Since bandwidth became cheap and easily accessible, stock illustrations, images and videos are becoming more prominent on sites. In the last couple of years, however, website looked for something unique. With more designers and artists coming forward to use the Internet as a platform for selling their work, custom graphics will likely become more prominent in 2017. 6. Haptic feedback Haptic feedback refers to the sense of touch in a user interface (UI). When you press a key on a virtual keyboard, it sends out the tactile feedback to the system. Haptic technology is becoming far superior in the mobile devices, which will help designers and developers to form a system that encourages the use of calls-to-action (CTAs), especially on e-commerce websites. 7. User on-boarding When a user visits a website, he or she should see an opening introduction about the product or the services – that’s on-boarding (think of it like a movie trailer or an introduction video for a new employee). If the design is creative and holds the user from beginning to the end, it can work toward securing that conversion. 8. Integration of AI in the websites Plenty of artificial intelligence (AI) plat[...]

The Experience Business — From a Web of Pages to a Web of Experiences

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:55:00 GMT

:: By Kevin Lindsay, Adobe :: We’re in a major period of transition, as our Web of pages shifts to become a Web of experiences. The ‘last millisecond’ and the behaviors it triggers have become less a consideration and more the norm in this always-on, customer-first universe. Consumers don’t just expect — they demand more spot-on experiences and personalized journeys from the brands they frequent. They don’t want websites. Websites are boring — necessary evils in their fully integrated lives. Web experiences, though, are something special. That’s what pulls consumers in and inspires purchases, viral chatter and other key actions. A Web experience is something you — as a consumer — can climb on board for, feel good about or get behind. It’s something you relate to on a bigger level. This shouldn’t surprise us — we’re in the experience business and have been for a while. The next phase? Optimizing those experiences with our collective eye on creating perfect experiences. It’s doable. Since you have a site, you already have the data, the content and the context — three key pieces to building a Web experience. The next step is to tap into the brave new user experience (UX), design and tech worlds to create something even bigger and better — a true experience.  Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters  The World of New UX — and the New World of Experiences Brian Solis, a thought leader in the space, unpacks this even more in his book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. He mentioned that this is “...a new era of business in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.” Your job, intrepid marketer, is to understand how customers experience your brand and work to define those experiences to benefit both sides. No longer are great products enough to win over consumer sentiment, he explains; instead, we all need to be razor-focused on building and cultivating the most meaningful experiences possible — experiences that stretch across all of our brand platforms. Why does it matter now? Because, we’re in a website crisis, really. On the average website, nearly two in five users don’t complete even the simplest tasks. Design and UX are issues. The simplest transaction is loaded with steps and page after irrelevant page of info. It’s not surprising that so many people ditch their carts before buying their shoes, downloading their music, or booking their flights — they’re just not good experiences. They’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be websites. And the average person will give a website about 60 seconds before calling it quits — that last millisecond is a powerful pull. How We’ll Shift to a Web of Experiences This goes beyond just finding (or not finding) our way through cluttered and poorly organized pages. Once upon a time, websites provided dazzling new ways to communicate our brands. They were cutting-edge methods that boasted transactional experiences without the hassle — things that, prior to the Internet, we had to do in person or over the phone (the horror!). Fast-forward two decades, and now, we casually toss around the term “digital experience” to describe the exchanges that have become utilitarian in nature — for example, booking a flight, contacting customer support, ordering new sneakers, paying a credit card bill. They’re totally transactional, but still, we assign the term “experience” to them, too. Because, today, everything’s become a brand experience. But, is everything an experience? Within a typical website, there’s a set construct — it’s a Web PAGE, after all. As tec[...]

Should You A/B Test That? A Mental Checklist...

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:41:00 GMT

Testing a website "experience" (or any of the elements on any of its landing pages, product pages, or information pages) in order to increase conversion and engagement is a smart decision, but it may not be the "right" decision in every instance. While the benefits are many, and the potential insights that can be gained from any test are incredibly valuable (whether they are failures or successes), just because you can test does not always mean that you should. Often in the heat of the moment we tend to say "yes" to tests because, of course, we are and want to be a responsible steward of our enterprise and the user experience. But imagine the savings in resources (time, money, effort) if the answer to the "Should I A/B test that?" question were "no" more often. It might enable you to concentrate on only those test that are significant enough to really mean something on a fundamental level to the business or enterprise itself.  SUBSCRIBE to Website Magazine & Accelerate 'Net Success Here's a quick 3-point mental checklist to determine the worthiness of a test of any digital element or experience when you need to make a decision about the worthiness of a test:  1) Plenty of Traffic (and Data) Exists For This TestIt is often necessary to have thousands (if not tens of thousands) of visits to be "confident" that one version of a webpage experience or specific digital element is better than another. Using a sample size calculator to determine what that number is for the specific test will show the audience size required based on the current conversion rate, the expected lift, and the degree of confidence required.  2) Many Similar Tests Can Also be ConductedThe current minimalist design trend sometimes limits many enterprises options for testing the presence, removal or modification of elements on their sites or with the digital experience they produce and provide their audience. If you don't have many things to test on a site, however, it may not be worth testing at all. Unless you can come up with a long and detailed list of ideas and be able to group them into something more meaningful it is difficult to know with certainty what was responsible for improvement.   3)  Clear Path to Improvements in Key MetricsBefore you can run any kind of test, you have to understand what matters most to the enterprise. Depending on the specific objective (e.g. increasing average order value, or acquiring email newsletter subscribers) different elements will be more critical to the digital experience for each. Check out these S.M.A.R.T. metrics if you're not sure what to measure. While there are a wealth of articles and advice online telling you to test every page and experience developed and to A/B test every variation, you don’t have to. For many startups and growing online businesses there just isn’t enough traffic early on to create an accurate sampling with measurable results, and initially tend to test things that in the greater scheme of things don't really matter much. Instead, focus on growing your business. As traffic levels increase, commit to learning more about your customers and you'll start discovering testing variations to achieve significant improvement.  Do you use A/B testing on your site or landing pages right now? Have you found issues with the quality of your results? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below![...]

Selling on Google Shopping Gets Easier

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:25:00 GMT

Google is making it easier for users of several popular e-commerce platforms to sell through Google Shopping.

Users of e-commerce platforms including BigCommerce, Prestashop and Magento will now be able to submit their product information/data (from including images, price and other differentiators) directly to their Google Merchant Center account in just a few clicks.

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Google indicated it has already been testing the technical integration and has seen some early successes. Peter Baseio, founder and CEO of baby product company Organic Munchkin, connected his BigCommerce account to Google Shopping to reach new customers with rich, visual ads.

“Google Shopping allows our products to be listed in a visual format, increasing brand awareness for our niche market, as well as revenue,” said Baseio. “It has tripled our revenue stream, bringing in customers we never knew we had access to."



The Salaries of Digital Marketers

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:20:00 GMT

A career in marketing can prove quite lucrative according to a new report from digital marketing and IT resource provider Mondo.

The company published a report on the current salaries of digital marketing professionals (an incredibly broad and diverse field) and found that "Chief Technology Officer" topped the list of those that are the highest paid - although it is somewhat confusing that a CTO would be on a list of this nature based on their traditional responsibilities.

That being said though, the rest of the list is what 'Net professionals, and specifically digital marketers, will find most interesting. Those digital marketing specialization areas with the highest salaries in 2016 include:

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Digital and Interactive

  • Director, Digital Marketing ($136,000-189,000)
  • Director, E-Commerce ($134,000-184,000)
  • Director, UI/UX ($88,000-159,000)

Content Creation & Social Media

  • Director, SEO/SEM ($103,000-158,000)
  • Manager, SEO/SEM ($85,000-126,000)
  • Digital Content Strategist ($76,000-121,000)


  • Email Marketer ($84,000-152,000)
  • Big Data Analyst ($88,000-134,000)
  • Manager, Digital Marcom ($94,000-123,000)

Creative Services & Production

  • Director, Creative ($101,000-178,000)
  • Director, Art ($73,000-124,000)
  • Interactive Designer ($73,000-126,000)

"The demand for digital marketing professionals continues to be incredibly strong, especially for marketing automation professionals and UI/UX designers," said Gianna Scorsone, Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations for Mondo. "In addition, we have seen new tech-driven marketing positions arise, such as the Chief Technology Officer and Demand Generation Analyst."


Social Login: Privacy & Personalization in Focus

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:05:00 GMT

Consumers are concerned (and rightfully so) about how brands are using - and in some cases sharing - their online activity.

Customer identify and access management (CIAM) provider Janrain published the results of its new "Consumer Identify Trends" survey and found that while social login is growing in popularity, 93 percent reported being concerned about how their account data and activity are being used. A number that privacy advocates can only shake their heads at.

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Social logins, however, which allow Web users to quickly sign up or log on to sites using the credentials from another site, are becoming increasingly common along registration paths and have become the preferred authentication method.

Facebook continues to dominate in social login rankings with 63 percent of all social logins using its platform. That's up from 45 percent in the first quarter of this year. Google comes in second with 36 percent (up from 25 percent in Q1), Yahoo at 10 percent (up from 7.5 percent) and Twitter with 9 percent (up from 6.5 percent). From Q1 to Q2, these four social platform sites all gained momentum from the rest of social platforms. Facebook increased the most between the two quarters, gaining 18 percent.

One of the reasons for the growth of course is because consumers see the benefits of personalization. In fact, the majority of Web users (58 percent) say they accept the value and convenience of using social logins while another 58 percent say they often refuse to sign up to a new site without one.

The problem, however, is how that information is ultimately used. Janrain's survey shows 47 percent are willing to share their account data and activity as long as it's used only by the company, while 45 percent want the company to be very clear in how their info will be used.

However, for many (38 percent), it depends on the amount and type of data. Of all those surveyed, 39 percent are comfortable with sharing movies, books or sports teams they've Liked on Facebook, for instance. This presents brands with a growing opportunity to connect to the interests and hobbies of consumers for much deeper relationships. Few, on the other hand, are automatically willing to share such personal info as political views (13 percent), religion (12 percent), relationship status (10 percent), friends (8 percent) and photos (7 percent), while less than a quarter will share info simply to get something in return, such as a product offer or exclusive content.

"Social logins are table stakes for online businesses since most web users will no longer sign up to a new site without them," said Janrain VP of Product Jamie Beckland. "But privacy concerns are understandably high given some recent high-profile data breaches. Businesses need to do a better job in the way they use account data to market to users, as well as make sure they're clearly explaining how the account info they access is used and shared."


Tips for Marketing Your E-Commerce Biz

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:05:00 GMT

:: By Derek Miller, CopyPress :: The e-commerce economy is thriving. Every day more and more online businesses are launched, with competition only getting more difficult. While starting an e-commerce store is easy, to really dominate an industry, you need to invest resources to growing the brand through digital marketing initiatives. Whether you recently launched an e-commerce store or have been running your online business for several years, the # digital marketing tips below can help you gain a competitive advantage in your niche.  Nail the Branding Hopefully, you’ve spent time strategically thinking about your e-commerce business brand. If you haven’t, then this is the first place to start. Some of the most important elements of e-commerce branding include: The Name Your brand’s name is a crucial part of your branding efforts. Not only should you make your brand name unique and memorable, but it should relate to your identity. The name is the first thing a new customer will notice and you need a good one in order to make a strong first impression. Take your time picking out a strong brand name that matches your e-commerce product. Also, check domain availability and try to find a brand name that has an exact match domain available.  The Logo Much like the name, a good logo can go a long way in improving your e-commerce brand. The logo is another element of your brand that should communicate your identity to customers, while also imprinting itself in the memory of those who see it. To create a great logo, you should focus on the design and the color. For example, brands that want to evoke excitement, energy and vibrance, should consider making their logo red.  The Tagline A tagline/slogan is another important part of branding efforts. An effective tagline needs to be short, usually around five words, and convincing. Try to convey your strongest benefit to the customer as quickly as possible. A strong tagline can quickly communicate to an audience why they should consider a brand. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong tagline, you can try a free slogan maker to get the creative juices going.  Leverage Your Biggest Asset Once you’ve nailed your branding, the next step in marketing your ecommerce business, is to design your website. Your website is your single, most important marketing tool as an e-commerce business. You are directing all of your offsite marketing efforts to drive people to your website, so it needs to be a good representation of your brand.  When working on your e-commerce Web design remember to: Optimize your website In 2016, it’s important that your site be optimized for all devices, mobile, tablet and desktop. Not only that, you should try to minimize your site to remove excess files and increase page speed. Making sure you nail the technical optimization will help provide a crisp user experience that customers have come to expect from e-commerce businesses.  Highlight your branding If you’ve spent all the time and resources nailing the branding, don’t neglect those elements on your website. Make your logo and tagline prevalent on every page. Use your colors throughout the design in a clean and consistent manner. Driving home your brand identity through strong web design is a critical marketing component for your e-commerce brand.  Emphasize conversion points Your website is the strongest marketing asset that you have as a brand. You can build followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., but you’re always limited to the constraints that the particular platform places on you. However, you have complete control of your websit[...]