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'Net Features

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


Quick Conversion Rate Optimization Advice

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:17:00 GMT

Improving website conversions is an ongoing effort made by companies large and small (at least it should be).

Knowing which elements will help improve the ratio of people coming to a site and ultimately buying, downloading, contacting or taking any other action that an enterprise counts as their biggest win for that digital property, is difficult for even the most seasoned pros but there are some best practices to implement for sure. Craig Bloem, founder and CEO of, has reportedly grown his e-commerce website from zero to 30 million visitors a month over the course of just a few years. Bloem shared with Website Magazine some of his tips for increasing conversion, which can be found below.


Calls-To-Action (CTAs): All calls-to-action must stand out in color and size. These are the most important part of any page because it delivers customers to the next stage in the conversion funnel. 


Set Goals: Determine exactly what you want your audience to do on or with your site. If your main goal is customer purchase, focus on effective ways to send them through the conversion funnel. 

Clear contrast: Make sure there is clear contrast between the functional/interactive elements and profitable CTAs. A strong hierarchy with visual weight on your CTAs ensures your audience is visually guided through your site.


Keep Forms Short: If your forms are too long, they will detract customers from filling them out. Keep your forms short and only ask for information that is completely necessary.

Thoughtful Copy: Make sure all copy on each page is clear, concise and necessary. Get to the point in a short form yet impactful way so as to not lose your audience’s attention.


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4 Ways to Make Your Video Retargeting Campaign a Success

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:05:00 GMT

By Sarah Nochimowski, Marketing Director of Treepodia Online advertising is not what it used to be. It is changing at a rate of knots and those who fail to keep up, run the risk of being relegated to obscurity.  Simply put, advertisers have got to stay ahead of the pack. One way that this is happening is by way of dynamic video retargeting. There is no doubt that video is the most effective and engaging advertising tool in the world, but it’s also about style and substance. Let’s explore the fascinating history of dynamic retargeting and how video is playing an integral part in reshaping the advertising arena. The importance of retargeting in the advertising world 1. Shaking things up with dynamic retargeting Image source Video continues to play an essential part in online advertising. The sophistication that we can now enjoy thanks to dynamic video retargeting is turning convention on its head and generating much higher returns on investment (ROI).  Believe it or not, dynamic retargeting was thought to be a cutting-edge technology for marketing campaigns – that was before dynamic video retargeting became the new standard. Over time, advertisers have relied heavily on things like Criteo, Adroll and Google AdWords for their retargeting initiatives. Of course, dynamic retargeting was the natural progression and it has become immensely popular with marketers. Retargeting is especially important nowadays because it allows advertisers to target customers who have previously shown an interest in certain products. The numbers speak volumes: 300 percent increases in ROI have been reported thanks to dynamic retargeting as opposed to generic retargeting. Now that you know which way the industry is moving, it’s time to see how video is shaking things up! 2. Dynamic video retargeting makes its mark Image source The next step in the evolution of retargeting is dynamic video retargeting. It has a great foundation to build upon, since it uses all of the existing strategies and tools that already exist with dynamic remarketing. But here’s where it gets interesting: video has far greater appeal than conventional methods of retargeting. Far more immersion, personalization and engaging content is available when video is added into the mix. This is true even of social media giants like Facebook which now also use video-based content for advertising purposes. You have no doubt experienced the powerful appeal of video retargeting on social media sites like Facebook. We’re going to dig a little deeper and explore unique advertising styles in video banners on the one hand and pre/mid/post-rolls on the other. 3. How effective are video banners? Image source Nowadays, the industry uses animated banners and static banners. In all likelihood, you encounter static and animated banners on a daily basis. Static banners are simply text-based advertisements and animated banners are dynamic banners. But here’s the thing: text-based banners do not perform well. We are so overloaded with all manner of banner ads that they simply become an annoyance and lose all effectiveness. That’s why advertisers see really low conversion rates at these banners. A phenomenon known as banner blindness is coming into play, and you guessed it – users simply don’t see them, or want to see them anymore. Enter video banners and the dynamism they bring into play. Video banners have the potential to dramatically improve returns on investment and they add exciting content which users can engage with. Think about a gentleman on bended knee proposing to the woman of his dreams. The full power of emotive content in the video banner is far more engaging and appealing than a mere text-based ad that reads: Buy Her a Ring! Once we can engage on an emotional level with the content in a video banner, the conversion rates are so much higher. And think about the unlimited potential of video banners; it’s simply mind-boggling. 4. Introducing Pre-Rolls with and without Voiceover  If[...]

Strategic Use of 4 Business-Friendly WordPress Plugins

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:01:00 GMT

:: Dan Radak, Technivorz :: One of the most reliable and durable content management services in the world – WordPress - is still growing and developing innovative solutions for their clients. Regardless of the size and purpose of their company, business owners can use hundreds of different WP plugins and themes. Still, if you don’t learn more about them before downloading them, you might get stuck with the ones you don’t actually need. Therefore, it’s important to plan how to strategically use the most business-friendly WP plugins.  WooCommerce If you already have a blog or a website on the WP platform and you need to add a shopping cart to it, the WooCommerce plugin is the safest solution for that matter. Firstly, this plugin can be downloaded and installed for free. Secondly, it offers many functions that will help you personalize your e-store. On one side, you get numerous options directly from the WooCommerce website. On the other, there are themes and additions from WP developers, as well. Finally, if your business takes off successfully, you can choose from a variety of paid extensions, but they really aren’t necessary for everyday SMB users.  Fast loading with WP-Optimize  One of the major tasks for every website owner is reaching a high conversion rate. However, that won’t happen if your visitors keep bouncing off your website. To avoid such an outcome, think about going for the WP-Optimize plugin. First and foremost, you don’t have to be an expert in programing to be able to use it on your website. On the contrary, it’s a completely user-friendly solution. So, the main advantage of this plugin is that you can unburden your blog or website by removing the unapproved and spam comments, as well as other outdated content. In return, this adds to faster loading and improved user experience of your website. Other load-enhancing plugins to consider for your WP site are: WP Smugh Image Optimizer, Lazy Load for Videos and SpeedUp.  Tickera for advanced planning  Sooner or later, every business will organize some sort of a business event. Be it a local business conference or a regional trade show, such occasions represent great opportunities to expand the network of associates. While working on your promotion and event planning, it’s vital to incorporate a WP event ticketing system into your existing website. For instance, if you’re in the organization committee of a business event, this practical plugin enables the attendants to make all the payments via your website. The benefit is two-fold here. Firstly, you don’t have to bother with banks and their commissions. Secondly, your brand will look more professional and independent if it uses a special payment option. Swift purchase with Quick Shop As we’ve already mentioned, online shopping is largely influenced by user experience. What you need to ensure is that your buyers experience no hassle during their stay on your website. Since the revenue of the global e-commerce will surpass $2,300 billion by 2018 [source], every e-store has to make a major effort to stay ahead of their rivals. Because of that, the QuickShop plugin is a perfect solution for automated e-shopping. When you add this extension to your e-commerce website, the process of ordering goods from your website will be simpler and faster. The plugin itself will be present in the form of a cart-like sidebar widget throughout every purchase on your website. As for the perks regarding website owners, the most useful one is the option in the Admin section to adapt the layout of the widget to your visual preferences.  Since WordPress is still the leading platform for mainstream websites and blogs, business owners should stay loyal to this open-source system. While getting great services for free, they can also use a plentitude of plugins and widgets that will help them satisfy both their customers and their own business needs.  Dan Radak is a marketi[...]

10 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:21:00 GMT

:: By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3 :: Not so many years ago, Instagram was in its infancy. Now it’s the fastest-growing social media platform, and one of the top five social networks businesses use to market their websites. Through the use of this image-based platform, companies can relate to their customers on a more personal level, generate more valuable leads and increase brand awareness across the Web. The platform offers a lot of potential for your business, but only if you have enough followers to make it worth snagging their notice. Now’s a great time to start marketing on Instagram. According to research from Brandwatch, nearly 50 percent of brands are active on Instagram. By the end of 2017, that percentage is expected to rise to more than 70 percent. The projection is based on the considerable evidence from companies that have experienced the effectiveness of an Instagram account. Ninety of the top 100 brands in the world have an account on this platform because they know that consumer engagement is 10 times higher on Instagram than on Facebook, 54 times higher than on Pinterest, and 84 times higher than on Twitter.  Since it can boast of 500 million active users every day, Instagram likely has incredible potential for your firm. But you’ll only reap the benefits of using the network for marketing if you gather sufficient followers. Here are some tips on how to boost your following on Instagram.  1. Get a Little Help Though you can take simple steps to boost your volume of followers on your own, it can be a lot easier to depend on Instagram automation tools like Instagress, Mass Planner, PeerBoost and others. These tools can automate tasks and increase the reach of your brand. Handling your Instagram account on your own can be too large a job for one person. Automation tools can save your business money and increase the effectiveness of your social activities. 2. Share Relatable Content  You less likely to entice people to stop and engage with your content as they scroll through an endless stream of Instagram photos if you don’t make the content relatable. Your posts should be personable, unique, and original, so they establish a connection that’s unique to your brand and customer base.   3. Post at Optimized Times Social posts will go through cycles depending on the time of day. If you don’t post when your users are most likely to see it, your content risks getting lost in the pile of consumer-generated Instagram posts. For optimum exposure, post when your readers are awake; pay attention to time zones and breaks during as well as after work. Research has also indicated that Wednesdays and Thursdays are peak engagement days.  Also, consider using a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to set reminders for your posts (currently they cannot be scheduled without manually posting them within the actual Instagram mobile app). Still, the benefits of using social media management tools for the network is the ability to monitor comments and manage multiple accounts.   4. Use Text and Photo Captions  People are hungry for stories, and though a photo is worth 1,000 words, sometimes it may require 1,050 to get the whole story across. Clever captions, useful info, hashtags and anecdotes that highlight your image will entice readers to read more and even check out your bio, where they can click on a link to your website.  5. Completely Fill Out Your Bio  Speaking of bios, it’s essential that yours is complete and filled with valuable information. It should include a call-to-action, branded hashtags, and links to your website, blog or a related entity. Take some space to talk about who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you. Bronto Software provides a good example because we know what they use IG for (to promote their software, their employee life and to show off their mascot while asking for pictures from others as well): As a wo[...]

Evolving Security and Fraud Management

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:05:00 GMT

American Express has announced the acquisition of InAuth in an effort to enhance its fraud-prevention and security capabilities. 

The announcement follows last week's news that Visa had acquired Cardinal Commerce. As you might imagine from these two annoucnements, companies are becoming increasingly concerned about fraud and security and are shoring up their capabilities at a rapid pace. 

InAuth’s technology is used by some of the world's largest financial institutions, banks, payment networks and merchants to reduce risk and help identify potential fraud utilizing its mobile-first device authentication capabilities.

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The acquisition will provide further support to American Express’ existing data analytics and fraud prevention capabilities, which have enabled the company to achieve the lowest fraud rates in the industry. The acquisition also positions the company to capture new opportunities as more consumer activity – from payments to account origination and servicing – moves to digital channels. As commerce has increasingly shifted to online and mobile channels, so too has the risk of fraud.

"Security is part of our heritage, and helping our merchants and partners fight fraud is a top priority for American Express,” said Anré Williams, President, Global Merchant Services & Loyalty Group at American Express. “We’re acquiring the right company at the right time to evolve our leadership position in fraud management and security. This acquisition, along with Accertify and other significant investments we’ve made in data analytics and technology, will help us continue to offer security and protection to our merchants and partners as mobile and online spending drive commerce.”


This Holiday Season, Store Employees Need Help Too

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:30:00 GMT

By Will Roche, Senior Director of Profitect It’s a widely known fact that store employees want to please their customers – especially during the busiest shopping season of the year. Yet, in this omnichannel, customer-centric world, meeting this expectation has become increasingly challenging. The reality is employees need help too and it cannot come by way of endless lists of tasks being sent down to lower-level employees from upper-level management. To compete, more and more services have been introduced into retail stores in the hopes of creating an unmatched customer experience.  While we have made progress, the employee working at the retail store now has a lot of learning to do. Store associates must be ready and able to serve the customer with in-depth product knowledge, ancillary suggestions based on past purchases, instant access to information about availability, the ability to ship purchases, receive goods, stock shelves, clean the actual store – and the list goes on and on.  So I have to ask the question, how exactly can we help today’s retail employee?  One key way to help employees is to send simple mobile messages to the frontline of retail staff to help them with their job rather than asking them to review reports. While it may seem simple, it can be a very effective way to ensure operations are running smoothly and everything is in place to meet the needs of customers. These on-demand messages must be received as enablers for the employees to do their best work possible.  Tasks in themselves denote a sense of obligation. This means, employees may feel they are not capable of assigning tasks themselves and they must be told what to do. Now, turn this around and provide employees with messages or, better yet, let’s call it an opportunity, and this empowers the employee. For example, if someone is alerted to something that might be headed in a wrong direction, this comes across more like a friend whispering in your ear. An example might be, “Please check product availability of 34x32 jeans." This information is not meant to berate employees, but it is a helpful bit of information, that empowers the employee to fix the problem.  What many don’t consider, is the everyday tasks that need to be completed in a retail store are massive and only growing. Thought must be put into everything employees are allocated to achieve. The in-store brick and mortar experience must mirror the online experience and being able to reach today’s connected customer has become an even bigger challenge.  The solution is to provide a prescription:  When you are not feeling well, a trip to the doctor is typically required. The doctor will be able to carefully articulate symptoms and then prescribe a medication or a solution to fix the illness. Prescriptive analytics in retail provide the same step by step elixir that can rid any retail establishment of issues that plague the stores.  Prescriptive analytics suggests decision options on how to take advantage of a future opportunity or mitigate risk based on the implications of each decision option. This is where both the art and science of prescriptive analytics become apparent. Prescriptive analytics in retail delivers opportunities to frontline employees in plain English – things that need to be looked at to improve the customer experience. Something as simple as a frustrated employee searching through various aisles for a product can be entirely avoided with the implementation of prescriptive analytics. These opportunities help the store employee by empowering them to perform at their highest levels. This also provides a much better, efficient experience for the customer.  While the shopping experience has provided consumers with more options, many retailers have not properly identified how the employee can be armed with the best tools for [...]

Better Video Ad Formats for Mobile

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:15:00 GMT

Digital advertising solution Mixpo introduced two new vertical outstream ad formats, Vertical Video Takeover and Vertical Video Reveal, which will allow publishers to create new mobile video ad placements.

Smartphone users hold their phones vertically around 94 percent of the time, according to MOVR's Mobile Overview Report, and Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends reported that vertical viewing accounted for 29 percent of view time in 2015, compared to 5 percent just five years ago.

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Vertical Video Takeover and Vertical Video Reveal join Mixpo's suite of existing outstream video ad products that give publishers a way to monetize their content with video ads outside of pre-roll. The suite is powered by patent-pending inline technology that delivers the best outstream experience on the market, by providing the first ads with player control scrubbing options and interactive capabilities, on top of high-fidelity video.

"Video ads have always played in the native player on iOS devices. Several companies have tried to solve this by embedding video ads within a web page, but the by-product is either a very low fidelity video with audio sync issues or a video without audio altogether," says Justin Kistner, vp of product for Mixpo. "Out of sync audio isn't just a user experience issue, but as we learned from Facebook recently, it is possible to miscalculate completed video views because audio and video tracks weren't always perfectly synced. We're proud to have solved the video embed challenge with a solution that provides a perfectly synced audio and video experience."

As mobile becomes the norm rather than the exception, advertisers are looking for more mobile-friendly ad formats beyond social networks such as Snapchat and Facebook. Publishers once wary of vertical video are also embracing the format, with media companies such as Hearst, The Washington Post, Vox, Conde Nast, and YouTube creating new vertical video ad placements.

"We built the ad units to answer the rising demand for vertical storytelling, which allows people to consume video in the same way they naturally hold their device. Brands know this and have started to create more vertical video assets. More publishers are recognizing this—Facebook announced new vertical video ads in September—and have an opportunity to rethink their digital ad package for the mobile user," says Charlie Tillinghast, chief executive officer of Mixpo.



Block Ads from Fake News Sites

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:35:00 GMT

"Fake news" is a hot topic these days and businesses are increasingly concerned about the impact that it has on their advertising intiatives. 

Trust and transparency have long been considered fundamental elements of advertising and it's becoming critical to the success of digital media efforts and solutions are emerging which aim to safeguard advertisers from appearing on fake news websites. 

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DoubleVerify, for example, recently announced a new offering that reportedly groups  inflammatory sites together as a new "brand-unsafe category", which allows advertisers to more easily exclude them from within the DV Digital Impression Quality suite of services. 

"Our newest offering shines a bright light on the fake news sites that are deceiving millions of consumers and siphoning millions of media dollars from unsuspecting brand advertisers,"  said Wayne Gattinella, DoubleVerify CEO. 

Gattinella revealed to Digiday that the list already includes hundreds of sites and will be continuously updated. The ability to analyze for fake news in real-time is going to be critical to the success of an effort like this. 

Will other vendors release similar site-level blocking in the name of quality control in the near future? Share your thoughts with a comment below...  


Augmenting Real-World Experiences with Mobile

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:15:00 GMT

MomentFeed, which provides a mobile customer experience management solution for multi-location brands, has released a new version of its platform that includes several new dashboards designed to make it easier for brands to track their customers' online-to-offline journeys and calculate the ROI of their mobile marketing efforts. The MomentFeed platform helps brands target consumers at the influential moments in their online path to purchase, managing all pages for every store across all major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, Yelp!, Twitter. Through MomentFeed's innovative approach to local, regional and national marketing organic and paid campaigns, the company is able to provide unique sets of data, including data from Facebook Local Insights, that haven't been available to multi-location brands directly.  SUBSCRIBE to Website Magazine & Accelerate 'Net Success "We're always looking for data to inform our marketing and operations. MomentFeed's new People Nearby vs. Paid Impressions dashboard is our new go-to for conversion tracking as we haven't seen this overlay of paid impressions to store traffic anywhere else," said Deidre Hazelbaker at Tire Discounters, the nation's eighth-largest independent tire retailer. "Another ROI capability we've been wishing for and now can see through MomentFeed is the relationship between campaign spend and regional sales. We can segment our stores by regions and groups to see what's working, and expand major markets or campaigns based on direct offline attribution. These new capabilities are key to our 2017 strategy."  The latest version of the MomentFeed platform includes several new features that help multi-location brands engage consumers in ways that drive them toward offline conversions, making it possible to track a customer's online-to-offline journey using a combination of enhanced search, discovery, social media and reputation management tools. MomentFeed's Search & Discovery Dashboards, for example, include features that provide the opportunity to track ranking by keyword on Google and Bing through the Local Search Ranking dashboard, as well as allowing businesses to track a consumer's journey toward conversion,  through the Local Page Leads feature, which analyzes how many customers found the Google My Business (GMB) or Facebook page of the closest location and actually went on to view it, clicked to call, clicked for directions or even visited the website directly. "Consumers spend tremendous amounts of time on their phones. They are using their phones to augment their real-world experiences by engaging with brands through the most popular mobile apps, and that is driving multi-location brands to invest heavily in digital and mobile marketing initiatives like social engagement and reputation management for every store," said Robert Blatt, CEO of MomentFeed. "The underlying challenge with funding these types of activities has been a lack of understanding as to what's really working to drive foot traffic and boost sales. Now with the latest version of MomentFeed, we're helping these multi-location brands tackle this by providing insights into which digital efforts are successful, and how much they're actually helping in-store sales. Our clients are able to align the growth strategy of a single store and map that all the way up to the regional or national level."    [...]

Facebook Poised to Threaten YouTube for Ad Dollars

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:55:00 GMT

Facebook is reportedly testing a dedicated video tab inside its mobile app among a beta group of users, and it could be a rather significant threat to the none other than YouTube, where many millions of ad dollars are spent each year. 

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Sources indicate that the tab appears on its bottom menu alongside the notifications, timeline, marketplace and setting tabs and open up into a separate video hub, delivering a fed of live videos and other video content based on a user's subscriptions or interests. 

Many insiders suggest that the dedicated video vertical provides Facebook an opportunity to capture more ad dollars from TV, but in the interim, it's not difficult to see how it may capture some of the spend from a platform like YouTube which has been losing steam over the past few years as Facebook slowly extends its reach and control.


7 SEO Mistakes to Stop for a Record Year

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:50:00 GMT

:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO :: Search engine optimization (SEO) can be complicated enough without adding in needless mistakes. Today we are going to cover seven mistakes you can eliminate to improve your SEO strategy in 2017.  Before we get into these, let’s take a moment to clear the air. Whenever you are making changes to your website, Google may move your site down temporarily, even if the change was for the better. Some people think this is because they are testing you to see if you undo your changes in an attempt to game the system. Others think it is simply because they temporarily move sites down until they can be “re-graded” and inserted where Google thinks they deserve to rank. Either way, if you make changes and your rankings drop, give it a few weeks before you undo anything and don’t panic. Now, let’s get into seven simple but costly mistakes we see daily.  1. Buying Publicly Available Links If you can truly find a private source to buy links from, the likelihood of getting busted is slim. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead." Think carefully before buying links and if you must, don’t do it from highly publicized sites like Black Hat World.  2. Accidental Keyword Stuffing Over-usage of keywords is a common mistake small business owners make. Even though Google likes content that has a clear topic, overusing keywords is bad news. Now I know many of you are thinking “everyone knows this already." Unfortunately, that is not the case. I have dealt with four sites in the past month that inadvertently had extremely high keyword density being caused by how their menu was built. All of the sites were built by “professionals” and all of them were bad enough to trigger an algorithmic penalty for excessive keyword density. To avoid this mistake, be sure to look at your site through the eyes of a crawler, not just your own. Screaming Frog is a free tool you can use to view your site as a spider would see it, letting you identify otherwise overlooked issues. 3. Having Duplicate Content Google deals with duplicate content differently depending upon whether it is internal duplication or you are duplicating content from outside sources. One common culprit of external duplicate content is e-commerce sites. It can be very time intensive to re-write descriptions for several thousand products. If you aren’t going to re-write them all, at least do it for your most important products. Setting the others to ‘no-index’ will allow you to keep them on the site for potential customers already browsing your store without polluting the SERPs. Google has stated that there is not a duplicate content penalty, however, you are not likely to rank pages consisting primarily of duplicate content.  4. Using Unnatural Anchor Text Google can understand your site without exact-match anchors. If you write on-page content covering 3-5 keywords and get links from articles that are on a similar topic, Google can figure out what your site is about. Repeating keywords is not necessary. If you are determined to use keywords, try co-citation. For example, if your keyword is “Nashville maid service" and your brand is Clean TN, you could do this: “CleanTn is a Nashville maid service offering..." Your anchor text is your brand but it’s near your main keyword, that is co-citation. This strategy is simple and effective. 5. Bad User Experience We all know the basics of good user experience (UX). Fast load times, mobile friendly and so on. The Internet is all grown up now and visitors are expecting more than the basics. One thing I have noticed is a lot of companies sell products but for some reason, won&rs[...]

File Sharing: Know What You're Clicking

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:25:00 GMT

Whether it’s creating an FTP site or leveraging one of the many available alternatives, file sharing is a necessary part of many people’s workdays so they know how time consuming the simple process can be. 

Seeking to displace the use of online tools such as Box and Dropbox as marketing technologies for visualizing and managing brand assets, Canto today announced Flight PHL, a new release of Flight by Canto, its popular cloud-based media library for marketing teams. Where Flight PHL says it is different is that it enables marketers to see a visual representation of the files (see below), thereby saving major time on collaboration for teams/partners around the world, and significantly improving efficiency of marketing workflows.  


“Box, Dropbox and other cloud storage platforms are fine for business users in need of a simple file sharing or storage solution, but they lack features for visualizing and organizing brand assets to create better marketing workflows,” said Leslie Weller, director of marketing, Canto. “Flight PHL, featuring a complete user interface redesign, makes data asset management more visual, powerful and streamlined—offering marketing teams an easier and more intuitive approach to brand asset management than anything else on the market today.”

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Amazon's Just Walk Out Store Marries Sensors, Smartphones & Self-Service

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:35:00 GMT

We should have seen this coming. Amazon has announced "Just Walk Out" technology, which will power the future of brick-and-mortar shopping if it catches on - and really, how could it not? Let's back up.  Amazon Go is roughly 1,800 square feet of retail space that allows shoppers to use their Amazon Go app as admittance into the store (like a subway turnstile), where they can pick up any item(s) they want and walk out of the store without talking or transacting with anyone (watch the video). The Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When a person is done shopping, they can just leave the store. Shortly after, their Amazon account will be charged and they'll receive a receipt (kind of like Uber in that regard where no money is exchanged with the driver himself/herself).  Amazon Go is currently open to Amazon employees in the company's Beta program, and will open to the public in early 2017. It's currently a real experience with a real address (2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA) though.  These "smart shelves" have been around for a while. SAP Hybris, for instance, previewed its working model of this concept at its annual user conference this year. When people pick up a beer bottle (as the technology was set up for this example) and place it near their phone, they are given a profile of their beverage choice. To get personalized suggestions, they can even fill out a mobile quiz prior. Some of the smart elements of this idea (and Amazon's) is that more and more people want to help themselves, whether it's making an appointment online themselves, looking to question-and-answer technology to find answers without assistance, accessing a customer portal to find information related to them or any other scenario where they self-help, customers want to get things done without brand intervention (because if they're involved, something has likely gone wrong).   Amazon Go takes this trend 10 steps further and will likely corner this market (pun not intended) for years to come as many, many grocers are far behind with their technology as it is. Amazon is uniquely positioned to create the system that can make order data, transaction information, payment processing, inventory control, mobile technology and more all work together in a seamless way. What's more, Amazon can now have an incredible 360-view of a customer with a person's everyday habits like picking up a veggie sandwich for lunch because they work nearby and then going home to push their Dash button to refill their laundry detergent while shopping for gifts (and anything else) using Prime. The collecting and leveraging of customer data for personalized experiences, recommendations, merchandising (like why did a person lift up an item but not buy it) and to prevent churn (particularly for Prime) will be very interesting to watch.   Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters [...]

Amazon Cracking Down on Fake Reviews (Again)

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:15:00 GMT

Consumers trust the reviews they encounter on the Web.

A recent Nielsen study, in fact, indicates that 66 percent of people actually trust online product reviews above all other sources and 84 percent trust them as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. As a result, there has been some motivation to influence consumers with reviews that aren't actually real.

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This has forced marketplaces like Amazon to regularly monitor the integrity of the reviews on their own platforms and develop policies to prevent fakes from influencing customers.

The company has actually taken steps over the past year to prevent trouble from arising. Earlier in the year for example Amazon brought legal action against over 1,000 sellers soliciting fake reviews and this past week introduces new rules that will govern "incentives" reviews and start restricting how many "non-verified" reviews a user can have. And now, the world's largest online marketplace is again cracking down announcing several new rules related to fake reviews. 

Under Amazon’s new rules, for example, users can leave only five reviews per week on products that they did not purchase on the site (previously, this was unlimited). Any user can still review any product, regardless of whether they purchased it on Amazon or not, but users can’t review products in masse now (which also makes it more difficult for sellers to purchase reviews from third parties).

In the past, Amazon has allowed their sellers to offer discounted or even completely free products as long as the receiving user left a review, and clearly stated they had received the product at a discount.

Amazon’s objective here is to ensure that their users can trust the reviews they find on the site. By reducing the number of fake reviews overall, it keeps the marketplace fair for all sellers. 



Bigger Commerce Capabilities in Retail Redesign

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:00:00 GMT

Providing a streamlined navigation experience and superior filtering can help customers find relevant products faster across all devices, which is a critical component of the e-commerce experience and why Groove, a full-service e-commerce agency, ultimately made many of the design decisions it did when using BigCommerce Enterprise to fully redesign  Customers can now experience and shop from a diverse collection of lifestyle products on a fully responsive Website Magazine caught up with Engel Baldwin, director of client strategy at Groove (a BigCommerce certified partner) to discuss highlights of the redesign, which, like any design project, had unique requirements. “With every brand, the goal is to allow its unique proposition to emanate in every element of the website,” said Baldwin. “For a luxury retailer, especially in the fashion vertical, there's a layer of visual artistry that must also shine through. We had to make sure that the composition of their photography and overall brand aesthetic was not compromised, but elevated, in the digital space. All the while, weaving in the essentials of a converting Web experience.” Let’s look at some of those essentials: Homepage Navigation Whether they were learned through Web conventions or by trial and error, website visitors bring their browsing habits with them to each site they visit. A retailer’s job is to ensure their site not only meets conventions but also expectations because any misstep will send shoppers to competitors.  Getting the homepage navigation right is a big part of the user experience. When redesigning, Groove ultimately chose to highlight five “sections” based on branding and ease-of-use needs.    “Natori was challenged with creating/building awareness for all of the brands inside of the House of Natori. The previous user experience was not successful in bringing them forward or showing their connection to one another,” said Baldwin. “Our e-commerce experience led us to focus on a solution that was simple and organized to seamlessly direct users toward products. By categorizing each sub-brand into the main navigation we could accomplish this while still providing context within the entire brand family. Each dropdown menu would then give us the opportunity to individualize the sub-brands through unique descriptions and imagery.” Mobile users receive the same five options but as a collapsed menu with the much-debated “hamburger menu” helping users recognize which action they should take.    “Though many continue to debate the effectiveness of the hamburger menu, we still see it as the best overall solution for responsive sites with deep navigation,” said Baldwin. “Users have come to recognize them and their function when viewing sites on small screens. But it does vary from site to site based on the depth and type of content, type of user, and development strategy. In Natori's case, it was important to minimize clutter and keep the small screen experience clean and intuitive.” Product Description Pages (PDPs) From the descriptions themselves to image viewing options, shoppers turn to product pages to gather more information about an item. Knowing what to include to move shoppers toward purchase and what to leave off in order to keep the pages streamlined, can be difficult. “Knowing there is a greater level of purchase intent on the PDPs--our approach is to make the most relevant and engaging aspects of the product available, while ensuring that the opportunity to buy is clearly available,&rdqu[...]