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THE MAGAZINE FOR WEBSITE SUCCESS JUNE 2014

WEBSITEMAGAZINE.COM

Today’s Top Web

SOFTWARE INSIDE THIS ISSUE...

Optimal EMAIL

Frequency Content

Marketing Trifecta

QUIZ TIME!

Advertising Aptitude

PLUS:

op 50 T llTTrraafffificc LLooccaa eess S Soouurrcc

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BECOME A

7SEARCH PUBLISHER AND FEATURE GREAT ADS ON YOUR SITE TO GET PAID.

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Resource Center FINELY FOCUSED INFORMATION FROM INDUSTRY SPONSORS Website Magazine’s Resource Center presents white papers from our sponsors that provide information, specifics and metrics to help you make decisions for website success. Download free at www.WebsiteMagazine.com/resources.

Dangers of a “Good Enough” Marketing Automation Solution

How Retailers Can Own & Rock the Google Results Page

The benefits of marketing automation are clear - automation brings incredible efficiencies to your team, making it easier to create customer relationships and drive huge results fast. In this ebook, we’ll outline the nine areas that you should consider when evaluating platforms so that you don’t end up with a solution that’s simply “good enough.” Sponsored by Marketo

Every retailer wants space on the search engine result pages - but very few get it. Google’s results page is broken down into three sections: paid search text ads, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and organic search results. This eBook explores: what they mean, the advantages of each and tips for getting your products in front of shoppers. Sponsored by ChannelAdvisor

Getting Started Guide For Omnichannel E-Commerce Replatforming

Email 101: Intro to Email Marketing

Considering a new e-commerce platform provider? Learn how to move beyond comparing features with these 10 questions that will help you determine the right type of solution for your business. Sponsored by ShopVisible

Building Your Sender Reputation in Four Steps

Having trouble reaching your customers’ inboxes? You might have a poor sender reputation. Similar to a credit score, sender reputations reflect how good or bad your sending habits are. If your reputation is too low, follow these four easy steps to start hitting the inbox. Sponsored by Dyn

Learn to create great email marketing campaigns to support your lead generation efforts through essential best practices, an illustration of those best practices and step-by-step instructions in this free 10-section course; each section can be viewed individually. Sponsored by Act-On

A Buyer’s Guide to Social Media Management Software

Which social media management tool is right for you? Which features do you really need? If you’re confused, you’re not alone. That’s why we created this buyer’s guide to help you cut through the clutter and find the tools that you really need for the results you want. Sponsored by Rignite

Download free at www.WebsiteMagazine.com/resources J U N E 2014

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Today’s Top Web

SOFTWARE 24

The diversity of Web software is impressive, but the sheer number of opportunities can overwhelm even the savviest digital professionals. There are, however, certain essential features that enterprises should demand from leading and upcoming vendors.

THIS MONTH IN WEBSITE MAGAZINE

30 Content Trifecta

Explore Website Magazine’s

Learn how to create share-worthy, searchfriendly and conversion-optimized content to achieve the “Content Trifecta.”

32 Landing Page Optimization Discover effective ways to test your way to identifying the best value proposition to increase online conversions.

34 Social Media Listening

Stop overlooking the valuable data that can be obtained by listening to customers’ conversations on social networks.

36

Optimal Email Frequency

Decide how often your brand should hit send by answering these questions about your company’s email marketing.

DEPARTMENTS 10

Enterprise Ready: Digital Customer Service

12 13

Small Business Lab: Big Data, Small Brands

Quiz Time: What’s Your Ad Aptitude?

14

50 Top: Local Traffic Sources

16

Mastering Search:

18

Design & Development:

20 40

Selecting SEO Software 3 Do-It-Yourself App Builders

E-Commerce Express: Web Hosting for Merchants

Commentary: First-Job Jitters

37 Mobile Crash Course

Follow these digital best practices to capitalize on the lucrative, yet challenging mobile advertising channel.

38 Affiliate Marketing Goes Global Check out how local brands are crossing the Atlantic to expand their performance marketing initiatives and earn business in the process.

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GET THE DIGITAL SCOOP Check out Website Magazine’s email newsletters covering e-commerce, search, SoLoMo, design and more at wsm.co/webscoop.


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FROM THE EDITOR

Software for the Modern World

CONNECT ON YOUR MOBILE Access the June 2014 issue online at

wsm.co/wmjune14 or by scanning the QR code below.

INTRODUCING

WEBMAG.CO Check out Website Magazine’s new virtual pinboard highlighting infographics, videos and more at webmag.co.

Businesses operating on the Web today are looking for scalable, quick to implement and affordable solutions to help improve operations, increase revenues and better the overall user experience. With the vast amount of options, however, decision-making can seem like a near-impossible feat. That’s not to say companies aren’t taking their most educated guesses about what software implementations to make. In fact, recent data discussed in this month’s feature article, “Today’s Top Web Software” indicates spending in the enterprise software market this year is on pace to total $320 billion (a 6.9 percent increase from 2013). This spending leaves some of the most popular software solutions with hundreds of millions of dollars in pure cash reserve, which indicates room for acquisitions, as well as new offerings and upgrades in their organizations. As software companies continually make changes – good or bad – business owners, and those that support them, are faced with even tougher technology decisions. Let this month’s feature serve as a starting point not only to weigh available options, but also for help in the decision-making process. Software decisions are also discussed in this month’s Mastering Search column, which focuses on solutions for search engine optimization. Additionally, Internet retailers can receive advice about Web hosting options for their unique needs and demands in Website Magazine’s E-Commerce Express column. The June issue also covers a variety of other topics, including choices for do-it-yourself application building and new opportunities to marry content that is equally search friendly, share worthy and optimized for conversion, as well as an interesting look at landing page optimization and customer motivations. Be sure to read this issue from cover to cover as it’s packed with information that will help your enterprise succeed online, including the optimal email frequency, mobile advertising insights and the globalization of affiliate marketing. When you’re finished here, please join us on the Web for even more tips, best practices and news that matter to your Web success.

The Magazine for Website Success Reaching the largest audience of Web professionals of any Internet industry publication

999 E. Touhy Ave. Des Plaines, IL 60018 Toll Free: 1.800.817.1518 International: 1.773.628.2779 Fax: 1.773.272.0920 PUBLISHER:

Susan Whitehurst susan@websitemagazine.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:

Peter Prestipino peter@websitemagazine.com GENERAL MANAGER:

David Ruiz druiz@websitemagazine.com MANAGING EDITOR:

Amberly Dressler adressler@websitemagazine.com ASSOCIATE EDITORS:

Allison Howen ahowen@websitemagazine.com Derek Schou Dschou@websitemagazine.com *CONTRIBUTORS:

Tim Ash Chris Goward Anton Ruin Matt Swan

ART DIRECTOR:

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Best Web Wishes,

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Find Website Magazine at these Internet industry tradeshows.

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SUBSCRIPTIONS:

Sandra Woods sandra@websitemagazine.com Website Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 9, June 2014, (ISSN# 1942-0633) is published 12 times a year, January through December by Website Services, Inc., 999 E. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018. Periodicals Postage Paid at Des Plaines, IL and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Website Magazine, 999 E. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018. Canada Post: Please send undeliverable items to: 2835 Kew Drive, Windsor ON, N8T 3B7 Copyright 2014 by Website Magazine. All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission. For reprints of any article, contact the editor. *The opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of Website Magazine.

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NET BRIEFS

+

Add to #AmazonCart?

Tweet while you shop! A new partnership between Twitter and Amazon is enabling consumers to add products to their Amazon shopping carts by simply tweeting the #AmazonCart hashtag. To use the feature, consumers must first connect their Twitter and Amazon accounts. Social shoppers can then reply with the #AmazonCart hashtag to any tweets containing product links in order to have the items added to their Amazon shopping carts. The purchases can later be completed on Amazon.com.

Undercover App Lover If you’ve always wanted to play a Facebook app, but didn’t want to be “that” person in the newsfeed - you’re in luck. The world’s largest social network has unveiled a new Anonymous Login feature, which enables users to sign in to apps with their Facebook credentials and test them without sharing any of their personal information from the social network until they are ready. The feature is currently being tested by a few developers and will be more widely available in the coming months.

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Google Shops for Shopping In a move that will benefit its shopping platform, Google acquired Rangespan. The London-based startup is a provider of product listing management and big data services that help sellers identify products that will be in high demand in the future. Rangespan’s services will likely be integrated into Google’s Shopping unit to help retailers increase sales by optimizing their advertised product offerings in real-time in response to online market demands.

Brands Chat with

SnapCHAT In addition to images and videos, Snapchat users can now keep up with their friends through text thanks to a new Chat feature on the mobile application. With Chat, users can have conversations in a private screen through traditional text, snaps, previously saved images and videos from the camera roll. All messages, however, are cleared as soon as the chat screen is closed. Brands, including Taco Bell, have already started leveraging the feature to interact with consumers.


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NET BRIEFS

Foursquare Breaks Up Foursquare is splitting its business into two separate apps - focusing exclusively on reviews (no check-in) in its legacy app and introducing a new application called Swarm. With Swarm, users are able to share what they are up to, find out which of their friends are nearby and discover friends who would like to hangout. According to Foursquare, Swarm will be available soon for both iOS and Android devices, and eventually Windows Phone too. Additionally, the original Foursquare app will be getting an update that includes more personalized search and improved recommendations.

Instagram Explores Personalization The Explore tab on Instagram is now helping users discover more than just popular content – it’s getting personal too. According to a brief Facebook post from Instagram CoFounder Mike Krieger, the social network has been working on incorporating personalized content into the Explore tab for users. This will not only help users find content that is tailored to their preferences, but it could also help brands get discovered by more relevant audience members.

More ‘Net News • A new review site aggregates public business recommendations from Facebook. Learn more at wsm.co/reviewsfb • What type of Twitter content performs best? Find out at wsm.co/engtwitter • App Annie launches app-discovery products for developers. See more at wsm.co/appdisc 8

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MOBILE APP WATCH Adobe Voice Adobe is helping its users tell better stories with the launch of its new app, Adobe Voice. Through the app, users can combine icons, images, text and their voices to create unique videos. In addition to importing their own photos, users also have the ability to choose from the app’s library of more than 25,000 images.

Google Docs & Google Sheets Google is taking on Microsoft’s new Office apps for iOS with the launch of its own productivity apps, Google Docs and Google Sheets. With Google Docs, users can create, edit and collaborate on documents. Conversely, Google Sheets enables users to complete the same tasks but on spreadsheets. Both apps allow for users to work with others in the same document simultaneously.

SlideShare SlideShare delivered its first mobile app for Android, giving users on-the-go access to more than 12 million presentations. Users can follow topics of interest, view presentations, share their own presentations across social networks and even save presentations for later viewing offline.

Mailbox Dropbox has brought its popular email client, Mailbox, to Android. The app supports Gmail and iCloud accounts and is designed to make it easier to browse emails on mobile devices. With just a swipe, users can archive or trash emails, as well as push snooze to have messages automatically re-sent to their inboxes at a later time. The app even learns from users’ swipes and snoozes to automate common actions over time.


STAT WATCH

Hosting & Data in Focus The “cloud” is changing the very fabric of business and shows no signs of slowing down. In the 12 months since RightScale’s last “State of the Cloud Survey,” adoption has increased dramatically. Ninety-four percent of respondents, who represent a broad cross-section of organizations mostly with businesses of less than 100 employees, now use some form of the cloud. The 2014 report shows that among enterprise-levelrespondents (24 percent), hybrid and multi-cloud implementations continue to be the end goal with 74 percent having a multi-cloud strategy, and 48 percent planning for hybrid clouds. In addition, 15 percent of enterprises expect to use multiple public clouds, and 11 percent are planning for multiple private clouds. “Enterprises are adopting cloud computing in record numbers and have leveraged growing experience to overcome many of the early challenges including security,” said Michael Crandell, founder and CEO of RightScale. “Large enterprises are complex and understandably deliberate in cloud adoption, yet with increased adoption they continue to unlock more value.” Despite their progress in cloud adoption, just over half of enterprises have defined the business value they want to get from cloud initiatives or cloud security. Only a minority have defined policies for choosing public or private clouds (36 percent), implementing availability or disaster recovery (32 percent) and managing costs (29 percent). Speaking of security, it remains the most often cited challenge among cloud beginners (31 percent), defined as those in their first cloud project, but decreases to the fifth most cited (13 percent) among organizations that are heavy cloud users. The survey also indicates that as organizations become more experienced in cloud security options and best practices, the less of a concern the issue of security becomes.

$33.92

$180 BILLION

Research indicates that due to the rapidly growing acceptance of the public cloud, the market will top $180 billion by 2015.

The average hourly wage of those in the data processing, hosting and related services industry is $33.92. The highest paid professionals in this industry are those responsible for software development, raking in $99,460 annually. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

(Gartner)

%

14.56%

Amazon is hosting the most websites, with a 14.56 percent marketshare followed by Akamai (12.98 percent). (BuiltWith)

300 Petabytes

Facebook has one of the largest data warehouses in the world, storing more than 300 petabytes of data, used for a wide range of applications and functions, like machine learning and real-time interactive analysis.

#

(Facebook)

Find more useful data at WebsiteMagazine.com or by scanning the QR code. J U N E 2014

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ENTERPRISE READY

More than Chat Windows Customer Service Across Channels By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

Enterprises must be willing to step out of their virtual comfort zones in order to keep customers satisfied with their online brand experiences. This is a difficult task, as it is not uncommon for brands to receive hundreds of customer service queries through Twitter, live chat and email on any given day. Moreover, Google data shows that 33 percent of mobile research begins on branded websites, which means that a company’s mobile presence also needs to be prepared for any customer service requests that may arise. In order to excel at customer service in today’s digital world, an enterprise needs to put its best digital foot forward by leveraging the appropriate technologies so that its teams can handle customer service requests efficiently across all channels.

Let’s Have a Mobile Chat BoldChat’s layered chat window for mobile devices.

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Mobile has infiltrated nearly every aspect of business nowadays, and live chat is no different. The challenge, however, is offering a chat solution that doesn’t interrupt the mobile user experience, as the small screens of smartphones don’t offer a lot of space for communication. One way enterprises are bringing live chat to the small screen without interrupting the user experience is with semi-transparent chat windows. BoldChat, for example, offers a mobile chat solution that features layered chat windows. Through this solution, conversations are superimposed over Web pages, enabling consumers to still view what’s behind it. To provide an even better experience, customers have the ability to minimize chat windows as well as browse other pages without losing the chat. Enterprises also have the ability to incorporate customer service tools into their mobile applications. Solutions like Nina Mobile, for instance, can provide consumers with a .com

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better experience via voice-controlled virtual assistant technology. With this solution, brands can streamline the authentication, navigation and transaction processes within their mobile apps, and encourage further interaction. While mobile is just beginning to emerge as a player within the customer service industry, social networks are already a force to be reckoned with.  

Serving the Social Segment

Today’s digital consumer is not timid about connecting with brands through social media. In fact, a 2013 BoldChat study found that the number of consumers who prefer using social media as their preferred way to contact a brand grew by 225 percent when compared to 2012. It’s safe to say that social customer service will continue to grow in the years to come. There are many ways enterprises leverage social for customer service today. For instance, brands like T-Mobile, Best Buy and Dish use dedicated Twitter handles to address customer requests on the social network. For those with a Facebook presence, however, it is a better idea to use a platform like SnapEngage, which enables enterprises to serve customers via a Facebook app. Fans have the ability to ask questions and receive responses from customer service agents through the app without leaving the social network. Moreover, agents can direct the conversation to the brand’s website or call center for further assistance when necessary, the app supports omni-channel initiatives as well. Even though customer service requests are increasing on social networks, enterprises should still take steps to empower self-service whenever possible.  

Providing Self-Service

Digital customers often like to do things themselves – that’s why they are online in the first place. It’s not uncommon, however, for customers to become frustrated when they are forced to make service requests to figure out how to complete specific tasks. There are steps that


enterprises must take, however, to empower customers off traditional call channels. According to to better serve themselves. TouchCommerce Director of Product Mar Community forums, for example, are a great re- keting Marina Kalika, providing self-service source for customers who want to learn from other offers a variety of benefits for brands. customers’ experiences. Social customer community   “The benefits of TouchConnect insoftware Lithium, for instance, offers a discussion forum clude reducing enterprise support costs solution that enables site visitors to connect with their because we are deflecting future calls, we peers through online conversations. With forums, cus- are moving visitors to self-service and we are improvtomers are able to conduct research and find answers to ing the Next Call Prevention metric,” said Kalika. “We their questions before taking the step to contact a cus- are also promoting cost-saving actions, such as asking tomer service agent. Plus, enterprises can bring employ- people to sign-up for emails.” ees into the conversations to address some of the more   difficult questions and topics. For a “Master List of Social The Winning Combination Community Platforms,” visit wsm.co/scommunity. In today’s digital world, enterprises must not only Enterprises can also equip their customer service be flexible enough to respond to customer requests centers with the technology needed to teach custom- across channels, but they must also leverage the techers how to serve themselves in the future. Recently, nology to make their customer service teams more TouchCommerce unveiled a solution called TouchCon- efficient. In doing so, they are more likely to deliver nect, which enables service agents to use features like co- positive experiences that will lead to more conversions DevCon5 content New HP14_Layout 5/7/2014 PM Pagein1 the future. browsing, sharing and 1more to lead4:39 customers

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T-Mobile uses SnapEngage to better serve its social customers.

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SMALL BIZ LAB

BIG

DATA FOR SMALL BRANDS By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor

Big data isn’t just for big brands. Increasingly, smalland mid-size companies are learning how to collect, analyze and leverage large amounts of information for the benefit of their enterprises. Today, however, big data - a popular term for data that is too large to process with conventional business analytics software – is more accessible and manageable because it’s all relative to a company’s size and goals. Fittingly, Jerry Jao, the CEO of Retention Science, defines the buzz phrase as “intelligence at scale.” Still, some decision-makers are being convinced, by different vendors according to Jao, that they need access to all the data under the digital sun, leaving them with little information about how actually to scale the data, how to measure it, how to make it useful and how, ultimately, to drive decisions based on it. The real big data win is when marketers responsible for smaller brands understand what data is most valuable to them and what inexpensive tools are available to help make it actionable.

Size Doesn’t Matter… To put big data into perspective, it’s important to understand that not every business has access to the same information. Commerce sites, for example, often measure visit frequency, average order value (AOV) and items per order to build in-depth customer profiles, as well as to understand general conversion trends. Conversely, an information publisher Mind may analyze how long certain customer types Blowing are spending on articles in certain categories, what newsletters are popular with that subPersonalization scriber group and so on. For example, the Discover three examples of information publisher could determine that using your CRM to leverage executive-level professionals spend more big data insights at time in design and development advice arwsm.co/datacrms ticles than blogs about social media but subscribe most to email marketing newsletters; 12

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these are valuable insights for his content development and advertising initiatives. From these business specific datapoints, marketers can see which additional metrics will help them improve their bottom lines. At its simplest, understanding customers’ behaviors and intentions comes down to setting up analytics tracking appropriately. A retailer, for instance, who wants to know where his most valuable customers are coming from, needs to set up e-commerce tracking on his shopping cart to collect data on each transaction. The information collected can include which product(s) was/were purchased, the channel source, purchase amount, and billing city, state and country. Specifically, tracking e-commerce transactions in Google Analytics would show the e-commerce merchant the high-value locations and referral/campaign sources. Aside from knowing which channels to invest in (SBOs wouldn’t want to repeat what they are doing on Facebook, for example, if it’s not bringing conversions), marketers can use this same information to personalize other campaigns, like email. Batch-and-blast email methods are far from extinct, but if marketers were to know, for example, that blogger-referred customers have high AOVs, shouldn’t they get a different message than Facebook-referred customers who are buying less/if at all? Yes, because their needs are different. By being thoughtful and providing this type of segmentation (thanks to data), customers will have more customized experiences that many big brands are giving them and even the smallest businesses will have better selling opportunities.

…But Privacy Does Unsurprisingly, with an increasing amount of data at every company’s disposal, privacy is a huge concern for Internet users. The simplest way to quiet customers’ fears is to avoid surprises. For example, retailers asking visitors to sign up for email newsletters, should have their easy-toread disclosures ready, along with a list of what they plan on doing with the addresses (e.g. weekly emails, promotional offers, etc.). This level of transparency, according to Jao, is often acceptable to most consumers. Despite consumers being skeptical about how brands will use their information, research shows they’re still voluntarily providing it to have more personalized digital experiences. Meaning, they are freely filling out profiles (with birthdates, preferences, etc.) in exchange for greater relevancy. That said, small brands shouldn’t hesitate to bolster their personalization efforts by leveraging the “big data” that is important to increasing their bottom lines by way of customer experience.


QUIZ TIME

WHAT’S YOUR ADVERTISING

APTITUDE? Online advertising continues to grow at a rapid pace and the savviest digital professionals are responding to emerging formats, technologies and trends at incredible speeds. Even though much has changed since the days of the first banner, Web workers may be surprised to see what has stayed the same. Test your advertising aptitude below and be sure to look up the answers to this edition of Quiz Time at wsm.co/adsquiz. 1) Geo-targeted promotions/ads can be applied to which of the following formats:

4) What ad targeting information is considered off limits by the Federal Trade Commission?

a. Display ads

a. Personal interests

b. Mobile push notifications

b. Web activities

c. Pinterest rich pins

c. Location data about children over 13

d. Facebook promoted posts

d. Device information

e. All of the above

e. All are OK with proper notice

2) Which channel dominates the advertising space? a. Social media b. Mobile messaging c. Television d. Display advertising e. Print 3) What best describes “dwell rate.” a. A type of affiliate marketing fraud that increases cost-per-click prices. b. There is no such thing as dwell rate in online advertising.

5) Which of the following is most true about DSPs and SSPs? a. A DSP is specifically for e-commerce merchants and a SSP is for service providers advertising online. b. An SSP automates and optimizes the selling of publishers’ online media space. c. Both are super slow online marketplaces that don’t sell ad inventory at reasonable prices. d. DSPs and SSPs are both real-time bidding exchanges that sell exclusively to social networks. e. None of the above.

c. When website visitors spend a substantial amount of time in the organic search results rather than paid ads. d. When users engage with ads by moving their cursors over them but don’t actually click. e. A number given to the amount of time Web users take to click on ads after they are served to them.

Find the answers to Website Magazine’s advertising quiz on the ‘Net at wsm.co/adsquiz or by scanning the QR code.

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TOP 50

Local Matters Marketing a local business on the Web is challenging on many levels.

Yahoo Dumps Local Reveiws, Shows Off Yelp Listings wsm.co/yahooyelp

Those that tend to be responsible for these initiatives, however, don’t always have the time that is required, much less the interest in learning the many nuances and technicalities required to position themselves effectively in front of consumers in a specific geographic area. There’s a reason that the “local Web” is important to the success of enterprises today – that’s where the buyers are; and there are plenty of statistics that serve as proof. For example, three out of four mobile searches trigger a follow-up action, whether it’s further research, a store visit, a phone call, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing. This hasn’t gone unnoticed Released ReachSEO in and the many businesses realizing local’s importance April to help SMBs Drive are spending accordingly. Organic Traffic In fact, mobile is expected to be the fastest-growwsm.co/reachlocalseo ing channel in the local advertising market through 2017 according to a recent forecast from BIA/Kelsey, which examined the growth of local-targeted mobile advertising over the next few years. There’s a lot more to developing a local Web presence than advertising however. One of the most significant challenges is the overlap between channels and how local intersects with everything from search to social. Fortunately, there are tools, platforms and numerous resources available that can not only expose brands to a bigger local audience (without much investment) but also help bring those prospects and existing customers in the door. In this edition of Website Magazine Top 50, readers will find some of the most important and popular solutions and platforms available today to make marketing a brand and its products possible on a local level. Obviously the search engines (Google and Bing, perhaps even Yahoo) and the social networks (Facebook and Twitter) play a very important role, but there are many others. Let this list of solution providers serve as your starting point to greater local Web success.

Local Matters @ Website Magazine Staying up to date on the latest developments in search, advertising, software and the like can be incredibly challenging. Website Magazine is rolling out a new channel to help Web workers focus on matters related exclusively to the local Web. Learn more at wsm.co/channelswm.

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1. Yelp.com 2. Groupon.com 3. YellowPages.com 4. MapQuest.com 5. FourSquare.com 6. LivingSocial.com 7. AngiesList.com 8. ZoomInfo.com 9. SuperPages.com 10. Web.com 11. MerchantCircle.com 12. Citysearch.com 13. Moz.com 14. ReachLocal.com 15. Yext.com 16. MojoPages.com 17. Yodle.com 18. InfoUSA.com 19. Where2getit.com 20. DataSphere.com 21. SinglePlatform.com 22. BrightLocal.com 23. LocalVox.com 24. NeustarLocaleze.biz 25. OrangeSoda.com 26. WhiteSpark.ca 27. DexMedia.com 28. UBL.org 29. SproutLoud.com 30. Alignable.com 31. Balihoo.com 32. Factual.com 33. DataByAcxiom.com 34. ResolutionMedia.com 35. Pica9.com 36. ElementsLocal.com 37. SweetIQ.com 38. LocalBizNow.com 39. RioSEO.com 40. MarcomCentral.com 41. MomentFeed.com 42. SureFireSocial.com 43. BrandMuscle.com 44. Placeable.com 45. SycaraLocal.com 46. Qiigo.com 47. Gocella.com 48. Geotoko.com 49. AdSoftDirect.com 50. Boxx.io


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INTEGRITY.

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MASTERING SEARCH

Selecting SEO Software & 4 Solutions to Know By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief

Not every enterprise needs to use a software solution to manage their search engine optimization efforts. It is, after all, still possible (with a little digital elbow grease, of course) to conduct an effective SEO campaign without; but would you really want to? As you may know, SEO can be a time consuming and often complex endeavor. What’s more, since the rules are continually changing, a brand’s approach to the practice must also change. Those that take advantage of the features and functionality provided by SEO software tend to know a little more than their competitors and about the available opportunities that “search” as a channel presents. It’s true that most Web workers responsible for SEO can manage the process without the assistance of any formal tool (or toolset), but for others it remains too cumbersome to do so alone – particularly in highly competitive industries – so they turn to solutions for automating many of the most routine tasks. If you’re struggling with SEO, and these solutions seem appealing, what precisely should you be looking for? Price and ease of use will certainly be important, and the best tools on the market make both accessible. The numerous other considerations is the focus of this issue’s Mastering Search column.

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Many enterprises are drawn to the performance reporting features that SEO software provides. Of all the benefits one could look past, however, reporting tools are often it. For example, if a marketer is leveraging thirdparty analytics solutions to understand traffic statistics and trends in general, the same performance reports provided by SEO software tools will be far less important to his or her success. That said, many SEO tools do take their reporting features a step further, offering general SERP position tracking, historical reporting (tracking positions over a period of time), and some form of alerts to notify SEOs of new competitors or position increases or decreases. Due to the dramatic increase in personalization by the .com

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search engines, however, tracking specific position changes can be rather meaningless. Today, SEOs are turning their attention to a different kind of optimization - that of the user experience. Many of the SEO software solutions Web workers consider are simply better suited to the digital do-it-yourself crowd (if you’re looking for free search engine optimization tools, check out Website Magazine’s collection of SEO freebies at wsm.co/freebiesseo). There is certainly nothing wrong with these offerings as many are quite powerful, but for larger enterprises (and agencies in particular) a more robust and comprehensive solution is required - and a solution like SEO Clarity fits the virtual bill. The platform provides its users with all the required features, including customizable dashboards, functionality to conduct site audits that automate the process of identifying duplicate content and site errors, tools to review and track on-page content and the analytics and ranking data behind it. It also provides competitor insights, local search optimization support, as well as link building and management tools. Where the platform excels is in its integration with the Adobe Marketing Cloud (e.g. Adobe Analytics, Adobe Experience Manager). As SERP position becomes less important, and optimizing the experience becomes more so, SEO software solutions that help create and maintain more engaged users are those that will rise to the top.

LINK BUILDING AND CITATION ACQUISITION Perhaps the most appealing aspect of using software for search engine optimization is their usefulness in helping acquire and manage links and citations. Many of the solutions on the market provide tools for locating link partners, and in some cases provide email templates to make contacting prospective link partners more efficient, and even offer features that make it possible to verify links are actually active on partner sites – as well as finding other sites linking in that SEOs may not be aware of. What tends to be most important for companies prioritizing link building is the size (and obviously quality) of the database that’s used for finding suitable links


MASTER AFFILIATE MARKETING Affiliate 360: Fundamentals of Performance Marketing provides a foundation for understanding the challenges and opportunities in affiliate marketing, so you can shorten to acquire. MOZ, formerly SEOMoz, has long been one 106 million keywords and 71 million domain names your SEO road to Web success. of the premier software solutions thanks to its own and includes AdWords’ ad copy and positions (for paid Mozscape Index. Moz’s spiders crawl the Web and ana- search marketing professionals), organic positions for lyze inbound and outbound links, calculating page au- domains and landing URLs, search volumes, CPC, comthority and storing the360, information for its clientsby to access petition, number of results and a lot more. If you’re lookAffiliate published Website on demand. What’s more, its new Moz Local offering ing to extend your marketing efforts, few tools compare is an action plan for achieving (which Magazine, helps local businesses manage an online business to SEMrush. presence, and publishas listings search engines, apps and You’ll find success an toaffiliate marketer. directories) further expands the platform’s usefulness to a SUPPORT Finally, another important point of consideration should broaderyourself audience base.highlighting and earmarking be the help and support that’s offered by the provider. the pages, as you discover practical tools KEYWORD & COMPETITIVE RESEARCH Some companies make it difficult to reach technical supwith product Anotherand highlyeffective useful featurestrategies of search engine optimifrom top port minds in questions. Others are proactive, prozation solutions is the keyword research offerings. The viding live chat, user forums, free trials, online tutorials, performance marketing. keywords being used in your SEO campaign will not phone-based support and more; ideally, the vendor you necessarily make or break a marketing initiative, but choose will offer some combination of these. knowing which terms and phrases are driving traffic, and being to analyze just how well those keywords CHOOSE WISELY (OR NOT AT ALL) Toable learn more, visit There is much more to these software solutions are being used, remains important. OneWebsiteMagazine.com/Affiliate360 of the most popular tools among professionals than the aforementioned essential features. What makes to perform keyword and competitive research is that of them unique individually is what will make them most SEMrush. The platform collects SERP data for more than appealing to your brand.

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DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT

The DIY Craze:

Mobile App Edition By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

Mobile users have an insatiable appetite for apps. In fact, a recent Flurry study found that 86 percent of the time consumers spend on their mobile devices each day is spent interacting with apps, while just 14 percent of their time is spent using the mobile Web. Clearly, apps present a significant opportunity for businesses looking to tap into the growing mobile customer segment. The time and costs associated with app development and maintenance, however, forces many enterprises to watch from the digital sidelines. Fortunately, “do-it-yourself” (DIY) presents a more affordable option.   DIY is a trend that is not unique to the Home Depot crowd - it’s also carving out a spot for itself in the mobile industry with various app-building platforms. These solutions offer an affordable way for companies to create and customize applications for smartphones and tablets. Many provide robust features to make functional, engaging mobile apps a real possibility for businesses, including the three platforms featured below.  

ShoutEm

ShoutEm’s design dashboard

ShoutEm features an intuitive dashboard where users can create an assortment of mobile applications, including business, publisher and event apps. Companies have the ability to customize everything from the app’s layout to the colors, fonts and graphics used. ShoutEm also offers a Shopify extension that enables merchants to create an m-commerce app for their stores. Through the extension, they can create a place for

mobile shoppers to browse, search for and purchase products. Plus, retailers can offer mobile shoppers exclusive rewards as a way to increase conversions and encourage engagement and loyalty. Businesses looking for professional help developing a unique app can also leverage assistance through the platform. ShoutEm also offers measurement and monetization options including in-app subscriptions and mobile advertising, as well as a hassle-free publishing process that allows users to update their apps in real-time and includes auto updates to maintain app performance.

Good Barber Good Barber offers more than 50 customizable designs for iOS and Android apps. Through the platform, businesses can incorporate a variety of content sources into their apps as Good Barber supports 37 different connectors, including WordPress, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Brands can optimize their apps over time thanks to the platform’s user data, editor stats and traffic stats, to name a few. Plus, businesses can plug in external tools into Good Barber, including Google Analytics and Flurry, which makes it even easier to mine data. Moreover, Good Barber offers a variety of testing tools, including a real-time Web preview and an “app twin” that can be installed on mobile devices before the app is published. Other noteworthy features include automatic push notifications, which can include various targeting options, like country, city, language, loyalty and device, so that businesses can better engage their audience segments. Additionally, Good Barber enables users to plug in their apps to ad networks for monetization initiatives, as well as provides users with an HTML5 Web app that can be accessed from the browser of any device. Businesses also have the ability to link their domain name to the Web app to make it their dedicated mobile site.

Appy Pie With Appy Pie, businesses can create more than 20 different types of mobile apps, including information, restaurant, insurance and real estate apps. The platform 18

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Good Barber’s app design dashboard

features a drag-and-drop editor and real-time app analytics, as well as allows users to add custom code and embed iframes. Moreover, Appy Pie offers a variety of integrations, including social integrations with networks like Facebook and YouTube, integrations with restaurant tools like OpenTable and GrubHub, as well as with blogging platforms like WordPress and Feedburner. It is also important to note that businesses can build apps that accept credit card orders and enable consumers to schedule appointments, which is an ideal feature for doctors or salons. Businesses can create apps for a broader range of devices with Appy Pie, as the platform supports Kindle, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows devices. In addition, Appy Pie offers App Promotion plans that can help businesses gain visibility for their apps within Google Play and iTunes. Through the promotion plans, companies can receive description and

keyword data optimization assistance, and an app speed consultation.

Roll Up Your Sleeves These are just three of the many DIY app building platforms available on the ’Net (discover six more solutions at wsm.co/6diyapp), but they provide a good starting point for anyone looking to venture into DIY mobile app construction and capitalize on the rapidly growing app market.

Appy Pie app page editor

MASTER AFFILIATE MARKETING Affiliate 360: Fundamentals of Performance Marketing provides a foundation for understanding the challenges and opportunities in affiliate marketing, so you can shorten your road to Web success.

Affiliate 360, published by Website Magazine, is an action plan for achieving success as an affiliate marketer. You’ll find yourself highlighting and earmarking the pages, as you discover practical tools and effective strategies from top minds in performance marketing. To learn more, visit

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ECOMMERCE EXPRESS

WEB HOSTING for MERCHANTS Getting Retailers Back to Bed By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor

An e-commerce website never sleeps, but with the right Web hosting and support, its owner may get to. When it comes to their hosting needs and demands, Internet retailers face a unique set of challenges to ensure the availability and security of their websites. Once they understand the opportunities and limitations of Web hosting for merchants, however, the better rested they’ll be and the better prepared their enterprises will be for digital success.

Sharing Isn’t Caring Web performance hits Internet retailers where it really matters – their bottom lines. Two years ago, Tagman, a tag management system, found that every second of delay in page loading time can result in a seven percent decrease of online sales. Conversely, this year software company Intuit reported that each one second improvement in page load times yields a three percent increase in conversion rates. Of course there are many factors that go into how fast or slow a website loads – everything from image size and redirects to third-party tags and geographic area – but which Web hosting provider (and package) a merchant chooses is where it ultimately begins. Shared hosting is often used by merchants on a shoestring budget, but since their websites are essentially sharing the same resources as the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of websites also on that server, response times (depending on the host, of course) can be painfully slow, especially when one of the websites on the same server sees an influx in traffic. Low-cost shared hosting plans can work for Internet retailers with low-traffic expectations,

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but those marketing their websites more aggressively may need to look elsewhere. DreamHost, for example, recommends virtual private server (VPS) hosting for businesses experiencing rapid growth, heavy website traffic or running complex applications. While dedicated hosting is also a possibility, many retailers are turning to the cloud, both public and private.

Help from Above? One concern that Internet professionals often have about “the cloud” is around security. According to Jordan Jacobs, vice president of product at SingleHop, however, this concern is misguided. Singlehop is one of the many cloud providers that offer a variety of safeguards and take guidelines from the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) very seriously. It was only last year though that the PCI standards included cloud computing. Not surprisingly, the verbiage in the report tends to favor private clouds over public clouds for extra data security. “In a public-cloud environment, one client’s data is typically stored with data belonging to multiple other clients,” the PCI Security Standards Council wrote. “This makes a public cloud an attractive target for attackers, as the potential gain may be greater than that to be attained from attacking a number of organizations individually. Strong data-level encryption should be enforced on all sensitive or potentially sensitive data stored in a public cloud.” It is the Council’s recommendation that, regarding third-party or public clouds, clients should consider that while they can outsource the day-to-day Continued on page 22

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ECOMMERCE EXPRESS

operational management of the data environment, they retain responsibility for the data they put in the cloud. Clients are encouraged to “shop around” until they find a cloud service provider (CSP) that can provide the level of security and assurance they require, such as one that will work with them to understand their security and compliance needs.

Round-the-Clock Scaling, Support Aside from cloud security, auto-scaling is also a popular consideration by retailers; it gives retailers the ability to scale their hosting capacity up or down automatically according to pre-defined conditions set by them. Jacobs of SingleHop is not surprised by the growth of auto-scaling capabilities, mainly because many merchants earn the majority of their revenues from Black Friday to the end of the year, but he also believes auto-scaling adds to merchants’ anxiety and sleepless nights. He says it’s important to scale, but it’s better when a retailer can scale up when they understand their customers and scale the site themselves quickly to build a solid infrastructure. “The truth is, what people do is enable [autoscaling] and watch the chart and then they get nervous; but when you control it and deploy five more nodes, you can get back to bed and relax,” said Jacobs. “Auto-scaling is engrained in a lot of new technology but sometimes the old way just works.” Kelly Meeneghan a manager at 1&1 Internet,

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Inc. believes this to be one of the main reasons cloud servers are a great option for retail and seasonal businesses. “Though it is most ideal for those more technically experienced, cloud users receive full flexibility and can maintain full control over the amount of technical resources that are used at any time,” said Meeneghan. “By configuring a website’s RAM, hard disk space, and CPU as needed, users will only pay for what you use and adjust online requirements at any time. “During the holiday rush, they can scale resources up to accommodate the increase in online traffic. Once the rush is over, the resources can be scaled back down to the normal, lower settings.” Of course, hosting providers would prefer merchants to pay for fully managed hosting solutions when they monitor the retailers’ websites themselves, often addressing things like traffic, load problems, software upgrades, security audits, backups and more. Jacobs may have put it best, when he said SingleHop’s technicians are 100 feet from the server and respond to any concerns in real-time, allowing merchants to, again, go back to sleep. Regardless, retailers should have access to their hosting provider day or night. “Most business owners focus heavily on business operations during the typical 9-5 hours and their website presence after hours,” said Meeneghan of 1&1. “This often causes much anxiety over receiving the necessary support they may need for questions regarding their website design or performance. Retailers should ensure that their hosting provider offers an experienced support team that is available 24/7 for any requirements they may need, no matter what time of day. As the owner’s website is open all day, every day, they should be able to leverage reliable support during those times.” Web hosting can clearly be a big investment and a huge cause of stress for e-commerce merchants, but with the right performance, security and support mechanisms in place, they can rest easy knowing their customers are getting a reliable and secure environment to shop on, and they are being comforted by increased conversions.


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Today’s Top Web

SOFTWARE By Pete Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief

The diversity of software in the Web landscape is impressive by any measure. There are solutions for everything it seems, from the technical to the social, satisfying every possible enterprise need (and demand) in between. If your digital enterprise is overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities, or if you are simply looking for something to drive further growth and performance, let Website Magazine’s June 2014 issue serve as the starting point for improved efficiency, greater revenues and more engaged consumers for your ‘Net enterprise through the use of We-based software. Whether you are operating a pure-play Web business or developing a digital presence for an offline brand, software will play a major role and demand a significant portion of your IT budget. Spending in the enterprise software market this year, in fact, is on pace to total $320 billion (a 6.9 percent increase from 2013) according to a recent forecast from Gartner. And there’s a good reason for it. Businesses are spending heavily on software not just to keep up with their digital competition, but also because software is becoming more useful. The “convergence” that is occurring today between essential systems such as social, mobile, analytics and the cloud promises better software products, greater profits, and smarter, more connected brands.

Software Convergence The convergence that is being experienced today is best ex24

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plained with the industry’s latest digital buzzword: SMAC, an acronym for social, mobility, analytics and cloud. Whether we want it to or not, SMAC is changing how many of today’s enterprises are operating. Business models are changing, decision-making is accelerating, and those companies that are adapting to the new realities are those positioned for future success. So what does SMAC have to do with you as an Internet professional? In a word… everything. For years, information and technology systems resided “on-premise” and were often (frustratingly) silo-ed. When employees and clients needed to interact with platforms in the past they could only do so from their desktops; and forget about exchanging information (much less in realtime) with colleagues in an efficient manner. Today, enterprises demand instant access to information (and the most relevant information to fulfill their needs); anything short of this dismisses the value that business data provides and doesn’t reveal the entire picture. Plus, since we’re producing and taking advantage of so much more data now, the effect of SMAC is multiplied many times over. What the trend toward SMAC provides is a shift from traditional value chains to highly distributed, virtualized business models. Retailers are heavy adopters as they can deploy business processes to combine the best of virtual and physical retail shopping experiences. Customers can use their mobile devices to find a store, and then read reviews and compare prices from within product aisles. Couple that in-store presence with analytics, and a retailer can deliver a far more personalized experience – an experience that is more valuable to the shopper and the merchant.


Google’s SaaS Buying Spree And since it’s all based in the cloud, costs are lower, and potential profits are higher. When talking SMAC within your enterprise, realize that you’re discussing significant market forces on a macro-level and recognize that the impact is far-reaching and influential in a company’s pursuit of success. Enterprise software spending will be driven now and in the near future by four types of technology: mobile applications, cloud computing, data management and social enterprise tools. These technologies will combine to create a truly disruptive business environment that will benefit consumers, Web workers and ‘Net business owners alike. So what software is in greatest demand in 2014? Website Magazine’s software issue provides a broad overview of the solutions that are consistently (or increasingly) top of mind with technologists, developers, marketers and Web business owners. The software referenced below (grouped into categories including business, design/IT, marketing, etc.) addresses the many challenges of the modern Web, shares the features your enterprise should demand and the vendors that are leading the way.

Software for the Enterprise What technology affords is the ability to do things/tasks more efficiently – and that is seen no more clearly than with software designed for the day-to-day business of doing business. Applicant Tracking

The human component of today’s digital enterprises should not be overlooked. For this reason, leveraging applicant tracking systems or ATS (also known as candidate management systems) proves invaluable. These systems help enterprises recruit employees, screen résumés and generate interview requests. Some of the basic features to watch for include selfservice options for job candidates, résumé search functionality as well as background screening – but there’s a lot more. Some of the leading providers today, including Workable, Greenhouse.io and Openhire take their application tracking solutions a few steps further.

Google purchased three SaaS companies in as many weeks starting in April, including Stackdriver (cloud application monitoring), Appetas (software for building websites) and Adometry (marketing and advertising optimization). Stay up to date on Google and all the important news related to funding and acquisition in Website Magazine’s Movers & Shakers channel at wsm.co/WMBigMovers .

Greenhouse.io, for example, includes functionality for drawing up a hiring plan, assembling interview kits llisting the vendors conducting structured interviews, collecting feedback, and quantifying the results of job ads, social media and referral campaigns. The Greenhouse solution is used in the hiring process for firms such as Klout, Airbnb, Disqus and others. Once you’ve hired right, there are even software solutions designed to help your enterprise conduct performance appraisals. Vendors including SilkRoad, Halogen Software and Trakstar simplify the complexities of managing employees with features such as history tracking, compensation management, custom rating scales and review forms, goal setting/tracking, employee self-service and peer/ self-appraisals. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Easily one of the most important types of software today is that of CRM and the market for Web-based solutions is growing. J U N E 2014

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Demand is being driven by organizations of all sizes (and across all industries) looking for easier-to-deploy alternatives to their legacy systems as well as those seeking to implement new applications entirely or provide alternative, complementary functionality. “High levels of end-user investment in digital marketing and customer experience initiatives were the primary growth drivers of the market in 2013,” said Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner. “CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will get funding because digital business is critical for companies to remain competitive.” CRM is clearly a lucrative space for technology companies and some well-known names including Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are fighting it out for big brand use. There are, of course, quite a few powerful (and stable) alternatives that are heating up the market, including Highrise, Insightly and Nimble. When selecting a CRM, Web workers should focus on the robustness of the customer database and contact management tools, the experiences related to user tracking and the opportunities related to knowledge base integration, as well as available analytics integrations. Check out Website Magazine’s more detailed buyers’ guide for customer relationship management solutions at wsm.co/crmbguide. Billing, Invoicing & Budgeting If your enterprise wants to get paid for the service or products it sells, then a reliable billing and invoicing solution – providing features such as accounting integration, contract management, invoice creation, custom pricing options, quote management, refund invoices and customizable billing – should top the list of software in demand at your enterprise. Intuit’s QuickBooks solution is a popular and powerful solution used by millions of businesses, but there are many others deserving attention. For example, small businesses and freelancers might want to consider a solution such as CurdBee, which enables its users to send estimates and invoices, track time and expenses, as well as accept online payments. Internet professionals 26

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should also consider those of the open source variety such as SimpleInvoices.org. While the billing and invoicing software will ensure the profits keep coming in, larger enterprises often need greater budgeting capabilities; and there are incredibly powerful options at the ready including Adaptive Insights. The business intelligence and corporate performance management suite offers a comprehensive budgeting solution, providing features including audit trails, capital asset planning, forecasting, income and profit and loss statements, and more. For a broader list of solutions that your enterprise should consider in the future to improve its operational performance, go to wsm.co/biglistops.

Software for Information Publishers If you remember a time when content management systems (CMS) were not an integral part of an information publisher’s core software solutions, then you’re officially a digital old timer. Today’s website are rarely coded by hand as content management systems provide a far more efficient and practical way to publish information. The problem is that there are thousands of options for today’s enterprise to select from, complicating the decision-making process significantly. CMS solutions are quite straightforward really, providing systems that support authoring, collaborating and administrating. The templates and design customization opportunities of these systems, as well as the extensibility of the platform, are the features Web workers tend to be drawn to which might be one reason that open source solutions including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are so widely used. Of course, many content management systems are designed and developed with the larger enterprise in mind. Sitecore, Kentico, Percussion Software and others, as well as DotNetNuke and Umbraco are well suited to the demands of the larger, content-focused digital enterprise. A content management system that is easy to learn/use is important but the Web’s most savvy publishers are getting more sophisticated in the way they develop content to be distributed through these essential platforms.


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Atomic Reach

Toronto-based Atomic Reach, for example, is a solution poised to help information publishers take their content marketing initiatives to an entirely different level. The software product measures upward of 20 variables (including how content matches to the audience, content structure and linguistic elements) to determine the sophistication and emotional levels of content. Atomic Reach is of the opinion that content that is optimized for a real-life audience is the content that carries the greatest potential for engagement. In an age where page views are dead and reader loyalty metrics are taking priority, Atomic Reach is a content analysis tools for a new age.

Application Development Software in Focus Solutions such as Zoho Creator, Caspio and TrackVia provide everyone an opportunity to create and maintain a database that can be used for a customer-facing application – sending data to and from a database server. TrackVia’s solution is so simple in fact, that users can upload a spreadsheet and have a database-driven application up and running within minutes. Take a step-by-step walkthrough of the TrackVia solution at wsm.co/trackvia1 .

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E-Commerce Software Just as a content management system is essential to the success of an information publisher, e-commerce software is essential to Internet retailers. Those selling online, however, must demand platforms that go far beyond the traditional shopping cart. Today, the leading solutions need to provide granular controls for merchants looking to present an optimized online shopping experience. There are as many CMS offerings for information publishers as there are software vendors catering to online sellers. Some of the leading names in the market today include Miva Merchant, Volusion, Magento, Shopify and Hybris. Magento is quickly proving to be the most attractive to merchants across sectors and based on business size. One of the reasons the system has increased in popularity is due to the integrations that are available, extending the core functionality to deliver some incredible experiences. Online shoppers, for example, are no strangers to using video in their product research and selection process, but adoption has been slow for retailers. Business video solution Invodo, however, recently announced the availability of a new program for merchants that aims to deliver a better integrated video solution for Magento merchants. The integration should result in conversion rate increases by producing a more engaging shopping experience; one that facilitates consumer learning, entertainment and information sharing. “While Invodo has traditionally catered to the enterprise market, online video is becoming so pervasive that expanding into the SMB market is necessary to keep up with growing demand,” said Keith Blankenship, Invodo’s director of strategic alliances. “Magento’s status as one of the leading e-commerce solution providers makes them an ideal partner to help us expand use of our platform in new and high-growth market segments.” There’s a lot more to being a successful Internet retailer than the quality of the shopping cart or the bells and whistles that are added. There’s also a great deal of importance placed on the advertising and marketing component and increasingly, pricing optimization software takes center stage. These solutions make it possible to conduct analysis of different channels, test pricing scenarios, fore-


cast, and of course engage in competitive analysis. Some of the leading vendors in the market today include Zilliant, Vistaar and WisePricer. Explore Website Magazine’s extensive e-commerce coverage on the Web to discover new solutions every day that will improve the digital shopping experience for users, expose your brand and its product to a broader audience and help your website generate more sales.

Digital Marketing Software Once solutions are in place to help you manage the digital business, and platforms are live and ready to service customers, Web workers attention should be directed to marketing. Search engine optimization remains one of the most appealing marketing initiatives and in this month’s Mastering Search column in Website Magazine, readers will find several software solutions to aid them in their pursuit of better and broader exposure in the natural/organic results of popular search engines. One channel alone, however, doesn’t make for a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Fortunately, software vendors are ready to serve. Social Media Software

Easily one of the most active software verticals on the ‘Net today has to do with social media. There are social media marketing tools such as HootSuite and Sprout Social (which help automate publishing, manage social contacts and provide some basic analytics) and social media monitoring solutions which provide an opportunity to understand more about the conversations that are taking place. Social media monitoring, in particular, has proven to be a very hot software segment but even more innovative products are emerging such as Blab which offers a software platform that delivers real-time predictive social intelligence in a rich visual interface. Learn more about Blab and discover several popular vendors of social media software at wsm.co/newsocial14. Email Marketing

More efficient than SEO, more effective than social – email is the channel that’s driving engagement and revenue more than any other today. The software that powers email marketing initiatives are sophisticated solutions that are empowering brands to do more.

BIG LIST of

Social Community Platforms Discover software solutions that offer features and functionality to help your audience communicate with your team and fellow users at wsm.co/scommunity .

The best email software solutions on the market today are rich with features. Autoresponders, tracking deliverability compliance event triggers and the many customization options top the list and vendors including Campaigner, MailChimp, AWeber and GetResponse (to name a few) are leading the proverbial way. But again, what often makes these solutions so powerful is often not their core product but the extensibility of their core product with functionality from others. Digital marketers today are far more savvy and are seeking software solutions to manage the more omni-channel landscape. That is one reason that marketing automation solutions such as Act-On, Eloqua, Marketo, Campaigner, Hubspot and Pardot are playing a central role in the operations of the digital marketing departments of enterprises large and small. Find out what to look for in these solutions in Website Magazine’s “Marketing Automation Roundup” at wsm.co/maroundup14.

Software is Everywhere Software is arguably one of the most important variables to your website success. Choosing the right solution makes a big difference in the quality of the user experience and with any luck, to your enterprise’s bottom line as well. There are, of course, many different software segments not included here, but they are equally important. J U N E 2014

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CONVERSION CORNER

The Content Trifecta How to make your writing search-friendly, share-worthy and optimized for conversion By Tim Ash

Content marketing is all the rage, and has been for some time. From blog posts and e-newsletters to basic Web copy and lead-magnets like whitepapers and buying guides, marketers across all verticals have made content their top priority. With online research playing an increasingly important role in many purchases, the burden has fallen to marketers to create and publish content that is easy for buyers to find, that gets shared and that ultimately leads to more conversions. Here’s how you can start winning the content race with a strategy focused on achieving the powerful trinity of findability, shareability and convertability.

Findability

5 Tools for Integrated Social Sharing

Content and SEO are intertwined. But many marketers fall into the trap of thinking that more content is always better, or that cramming a bunch of keywords into their content is going to make it easier to find on search engines. In truth, the most effective strategy for making your content searchfriendly includes a combination of the following:

Make sharing easier with these tools available at wsm.co/sharingtools

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Be high quality – Your content should be designed for a specific audience and address a topic of interest to them. More than that, it should take a unique approach to the topic and you should be able to map the topic to an

exact stage in your target audience’s journey to purchase. Know exactly who you are talking to with your content and write it with the goal of moving the reader one step closer to purchase.

Use relevant keywords – Do you know what

words and phrases your prospects use at each stage of the customer journey? Take a look at your content inventory and make sure those words and phrases are intelligently used throughout each asset. Your content should “answer” a searcher’s query and meet their expectations once they begin reading it.

Produce meaningful interactions – Once a person clicks through to your content, how long do they stay there? The time they spend is an engagement metric used by search engines to assess the value of your content relative to the search term used. Stay fresh – Are you constantly generating new quality content? Search engines love fresh content, and a blog that gets updated frequently with quality content will get indexed frequently too. Just as important, posting fresh material will also help build loyalty and authority. Speaking of authority, your content efforts will be amplified when you establish Google Authorship by linking your Google+ profile with all the content you produce. Google Author Rank determines the quality of content based on the credibility or reputation of its au-


thor. The higher the credibility of the author, the higher the placement in search results.

Shareability

It’s impossible to talk about findability without also talking about shareability. Your content needs to be so interesting, unique, insightful or funny enough that people are literally compelled to link to it or share it. Having your content shared increases your trust and authority, and is one of the factors that contribute to better search rankings. What makes content share-worthy? According to a study done by the NY Times called “The Psychology of Sharing,” key factors that influence sharing include: • People need to trust you and the accuracy of the content in order to want to share your content. • Content that is simple is more likely to get shared. • Things that are funny, convey urgency, or connect people to a cause are all particularly share-worthy. The study revealed some interesting motivations that people have for sharing: • To bring valuable or entertaining content to others • To define themselves to others (by sharing things that reinforce an image they’d like to present) • To connect with people who share their interests • To get feedback and interact with others • To get the word out about causes or brands When you produce content, think about how you can tap into this insight to motivate sharing. Introduce a new or contrarian viewpoint to a hot issue, simplify something that is complex, provide solutions to common problems or shine light on a new tool or resource. Also give it an enticing title and weed out extraneous marketing fluff. Lastly, don’t forget to make it easy for people to share your content by including share buttons for all of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and the option to email the page to a friend.

Content is central to a successful inbound marketing strategy. It’s what will generate awareness, create interest, help buyers make a decision and spur them to action. But great content that can’t be found and read is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Convertability

Content that doesn’t lead to conversion isn’t marketing. Your content can go viral and achieve top search rankings, but if it doesn’t appeal to the right audience and lead them toward conversion, it has virtually no value to your organization. Generating content that is optimized for conversion starts with knowing who your audience is. If you haven’t done so already, build buyer personas that detail the concerns, needs and interests customers have at every stage of the buying cycle. Know how to appeal to them, what they need, what they are searching for and what influences them. Once you understand your customers, their pain points and their decision process you can start identifying what types of content would help move people closer to conversion. Early on in the buying cycle, people may be more interested in a buying guide or comparison chart, whereas people who are considering a purchase might be more intrigued by relevant case studies, product guides or tutorials. Know how to address a customer’s questions and concerns at each step along the sales funnel, and customize your content specifically to address those needs. Then, add a relevant call-to-action that gently encourages movement toward your conversion goal. Content is central to a successful inbound marketing strategy. It’s what will generate awareness, create interest, help buyers make a decision and spur them to action. But great content that can’t be found and read is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. And equally pointless is content that doesn’t help move readers into or down the sales funnel. Challenge yourself to achieve the content trifecta by generating content that is search friendly, share-worthy and optimized for conversion.

Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners, Chair of Conversion Conference and bestselling author of “Landing Page Optimization”. J U N E 2014

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Finding Motivational Triggers in

Landing Page Optimization By Chris Goward

Landing pages rightfully get a lot of attention from marketers who are focused on conversion optimization testing. After all, they are often the most visited pages on a website, and typically the ones advertisers spend the most money driving traffic to. Clearly, it’s important for every enterprise to find ways to boost conversion rates on these workhorse pages. Getting a landing page that does a better job of converting visitors into paying customers isn’t the only benefit of strategic conversion optimization testing; there is a bonus effect that can be just as valuable as all of those extra sales a company is getting. Even though an entire website needs to be continuously tested for conversion optimization, landing pages play a crucial role in helping an enterprise identify its most important value proposition – the key factor in triggering conversions. Once an enterprise identifies the value proposition that works best for its audience, it has a new tool that can be used in all of its outreach efforts. Landing pages are the best places to test value propositions, because their visitors have “virgin eyeballs” and are eager to absorb messaging. Get it right, they’ll stay on the page and look for more. Get it wrong, they’ll bounce.

Understanding Perception Filters Each person looks at the world through different eyes.

UX ers and CROs Find Middle Ground Once at odds, Joe Doveton of GlobalMaxer explains how those responsible for user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are working together for better website development within their organizations at wsm.co/cruxaffair.

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Website visitors have unique frames of reference that are colored by their perceptual filters. It’s as if each of them wear different glasses that change what they’re looking at before it reaches them. These mental filters can dramatically alter how a prospect understands messages. Knowing this, understanding how your customers perceive a value proposition is the most important element in online marketing.

Defining the Value Proposition A value proposition is the outcome of the cost versus benefits equation that gives prospects motivation to act. If the perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs, prospects will be motivated to act. If the perceived costs are too high, however, visitors will bounce. An enterprise needs to discover a value proposition that offers the best chance to close the most sales. Emphasizing the most important parts of the value proposition will maximize conversion rate. There are many tangible and intangible elements that can influence a company’s perceived benefits, including product or service features, incentives and offers, awards, case studies, social proof, celebrity endorsements, copywriting tone and more.

Establishing the WIIFM At a simplistic level, website owners could take the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) approach. Every marketer understands the WIIFM concept. Brands already know how to speak to their customers, understand their needs and communicate in their individual languages. The WIIFM are all the features and benefits prospects could get from a company’s products and services. But, it’s not prudent to communicate them all at once. When brands try to emphasize everything, their prospects absorb nothing.


Master Web Fundamentals So, how does a marketer know which features are most important to their customers?

Generating a Hypothesis Traditionally, marketers have relied on their own intuition to come up with the “right” features to create and emphasize. Sure, they may get input from small groups of customers with surveys and focus groups. But, there are many reasons those small segments are not as effective as they may seem. So, how do marketers decide what could be valuable to test for their customers? Each business’s combination of prospects, products and competitive environments are unique. To find out what works best, marketers need to create a great value proposition hypotheses. For example, we recently ran an A/B test for a client to determine which of four different positioning approaches would resonate best with their audience. We tested this on a high traffic PPC landing page. Each of the four pages was identical except for the headlines and introductory paragraphs that positioned the company’s service to focus on different aspects of their benefits. In this case, the winning value proposition positioning statement improved the landing page conversion rate by 40 percent. But the value this client gained from this test went beyond the initial 40 percent boost. The point is, don’t underestimate the power of copywriting and a few important words. Not only does their marketing team now have a better performing landing page, but they also have a positioning statement that has been shown to persuade more of their prospects to act. They came away with a greater understanding of the motivational triggers to use throughout their marketing communications. That means the results of the tests can now reverberate throughout their entire marketing strategy.

Web 360: Fundamentals of Web Success is the one-and-only guide to mastering all the elements critical to Web success. Here’s what subscribers are saying about Web360: “ A must-read for any level of Internet Marketer.” “Very impressed with both the journal as well as the no-nonsense book.” “So much insightful information I had to reread the book, highlighting all over the place.” To learn more, visit:

WebsiteMagazine.com/Web360

Chris Goward is the founder of WiderFunnel and the bestselling author of, “You Should Test That.” Follow him on Twitter at @chrisgoward. J U N E 2014

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SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS

The Brand Advantage in Social Conversations By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

Social networks have become the focal point in many These are just two examples of the many ways social listening data can be leveraged to help brands improve brands’ marketing strategies – and for good reason. A social media presence provides businesses with a massive, very active audience that would normally be unavailable to them. In fact, 2013 data from Experian Marketing reveals that an average of 16 minutes out of an hour are spent on social sites, followed by nine minutes on entertainment sites, five minutes on shopping sites and just three minutes on email. Statistics like these have led many businesses, small and big alike, to increase resources spent on social media marketing. The problem with this, however, is that few brands are actually using social for more than visibility, and are therefore overlooking valuable data they can obtain by simply looking and listening.

Leveraging the Data

Social networks are a place where people get together to talk about their interests and experiences. It is not uncommon for these conversations to include brand experiences or product reviews - providing unfiltered insights. These insights empower brands to serve their customers better and improve their social ROI. For example, a Miami hotel owner could use social data to find consumers who are talking about their upcoming vacation to the popular Florida city during a slow tourist period. To improve the likelihood of these customers booking a room, the hotel could reach out via social with off-season discounts or a blog post about top tourist spots. Conversely, by monitoring the sentiment of social conversations, a clothing retailer may identify a technical issue with their website that is preventing consumers from completing purchases. To retain these customers, the merchant can reply Jean Dobey of Hibe shares how (or to social complaints with info about the if) CEOs should manage their social issue and a limited-time free shipping presence at wsm.co /smceo offer as a way to compensate the customers for their patience and loyalty.

CEOs and Social Media

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their businesses. In fact, brands can use social data to optimize their marketing campaigns, improve customer service initiatives and even monitor the competition.

Using the Right Tools

There is an abundance of social listening tools available on the Web, but all come with their own unique bells and whistles. Because of this, it is important for businesses to outline the goals of their social listening initiatives. For instance, a platform like In the Chat not only mines data across social networks and forums, but also enables users to reply to customers directly from the platform and can be tied into a business’s existing CRM system. According to In the Chat CEO John Huehn, monitoring social activity and serving customers through social can actually be more efficient and cost effective than a call center. While In the Chat primarily listens to text-based social conversations, brands can also leverage tools to gain insights into visual social networks. Curalate, for example, is a social media monitoring tool that offers analytics and competitive analysis for Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. The platform also offers pin-to-purchase tracking technology, as well as allows businesses to respond to Instagram and Pinterest interactions, helps identify influencers and monitors sentiment. These two tools are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media monitoring, and it is important for brands to do their research before making a commitment to a platform. To get started, check out Website Magazine’s “Big List of Social Management and Monitoring Tools” at wsm.co/socialbiglist.

If It’s Available, Why Not Use It?

The social-sphere is overflowing with data, which brands should be leveraging to make more informed business decisions. The ones that recognize this, and look for and listen to the data, will be able to better position their businesses for success now and in the future.


In the market to hire top-tier marketing talent for your firm? Look no further than the Website Magazine Job Board! Place your openings on the Website Magazine job board and reach a pool of quality candidates made up of tech-savvy individuals that come to WebsiteMagazine.com to stay up to date on the latest trends in the Internet industry.

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J U N E 2014

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EMAIL EXPERIENCE

What’s the Frequency? By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief

Email is the virtual workhorse of digital marketing and every Web worker knows it. According to the Experian Marketing Services’ “2013 Email Market Study,” 99 percent of those surveyed say that their company currently uses email. While marketers consider email a highly effective practice, many don’t consider customers’ email preferences – and that’s a significant problem. For instance, 60 percent of marketers don’t offer customers the opportunity to select the types of emails (text or HTML) they want to receive. What’s more (and potentially more damaging) is that just over one third of respondents (35 percent) let customers determine how frequently they want to be mailed. Too much email from a sender, of course, could negatively impact their performance. So, what determines when you should hit send? What is the “right” frequency? Unfortunately, there is no “right” answer when it comes to the optimal delivery rate, as there are too many variables. Ask the following questions to find out, however, and your email campaigns (and your broader digital marketing strategy in general) will be more effective.

The Inbox is a Battlefield Everyone who sends email is a brand’s competitor. See just how crowded recipients’ inboxes are in this infographic at

wsm.co/inboxbattle.

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Why is this email being sent? Many digital marketers send email because they believe it’s the right thing to do - and it is - but it is essential that each individual distribution and each broader multi-send campaign or ongoing distribution have a clear aim and objective. The aim of a single-send, for example, might be to raise awareness of a technical issue or a new feature; it might also be to sell an individual product. A campaign with multiple sends, however, is much different. For instance, those that engage in a more prolonged distribution strategy are those whose objectives are typically to offer ongoing education or support. The reason to ask “why is this email being sent” is so that marketers don’t lose sight of the original objectives; knowing the “why” helps prepare and prioritize the content. .com

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How long is the sales cycle? Another reason that there is no one answer to the optimal frequency for email is that sales cycles vary by industry, company and even product. If the sales cycle is short, the frequency should be more compact, while a longer sales cycle allows for a slower and more regular schedule. Knowing the average time it takes for a user to enter and exit the sales funnel can help determine the optimal frequency. There is, of course, a learning curve that comes with figuring out the distribution frequency, but once a standard has been set, marketers can turn their attention to other concerns like deliverability or the many available optimization opportunities. One such opportunity comes from a free software solution called ROEmails (developed by WebNova). It can help improve campaign performance by adding “scarcity” information to emails by including an email countdown timer that appears in a recipient’s inbox. Say for example a retailer is running a 24-hour special. When the recipient opens the email 20 hours after being sent, he will see that he has just four hours remaining to take advantage of the offer. Leveraging “scarcity” can increase open rates, traffic and conversions and deepen engagement. When are users most active? Of all the advice given to email marketers about the optimal day and time to send, taking advantage of users’ activity levels on a website is often the most actionable (although not the most sophisticated). A quick examination of a website’s analytics will reveal not just the day that customers are visiting the most but also the general time of day. While most activity can be attributed to the goings-on of marketers themselves (e.g. social media posts, advertising, etc.), activity is a rather obvious opportunity to increase performance - at least incrementally. While many will go round-andround about whether Thursday at 10 a.m. or Tuesday at 4 p.m. works best, optimal send times (particularly for regular distributions) do provide a testable moment. Email marketing, despite the attention that Internet advertising, SEO and social media receive, is here to stay. Understanding users and maintaining a regular schedule will be useful for every digital enterprise.


NET ADVERTISING

A Crash Course in

Mobile Advertising By Anton Ruin, CEO of Epom

Mobile is one of the most promising advertising segments, but companies often find it difficult to run effective campaigns on the channel.

clude targeting via device vendors, mobile carriers, mobile browser versions, etc.

There are substantial hurdles in terms of audience reach and engagement, which can take a toll on the effectiveness of mobile ads. Like in every digital initiative, however, there are a significant number of best practices at the ready to overcome the channel’s obstacles.

Despite its limitations, mobile advertising presents a number of opportunities for savvy businesses, including:

Concerns & Limitations Even though mobile advertising has shown considerable growth during the past few years, there are still some serious issues that lower mobile ad performance rates considerably, including: User interface (UI) flaws Even today, many websites are not optimized for mobile viewing. This has a negative impact on the quality and speed of mobile ad display and thus decreases profits on this channel. Fortunately, it is possible to cope with issues in mobile UI by optimizing the website’s design, making it responsive and increasing page loading speed. Lack of context Naturally, mobile advertising is a very specific channel in terms of audience demands and requirements for potentially engaging and interactive ads. In particular, mobile customers tend to value ad context much more than one would expect, and such context is what many mobile ad campaigns still lack (a contextual ad example would be a shoe store promoting rain boots when it’s raining or a happy hour text on a bus rider’s commute home). Nevertheless, this hurdle can be crossed if businesses conduct deep research and analysis of their audience data and further determine when, where and which mobile ads should be shown based on consumer context. Missing data Since there are no available cookies on mobile, some companies find it difficult to target their clients via ads on the mobile Web and within mobile applications. The lack of information about people’s browsing history prevents them from increasing ad relevancy. However, it has already become evident that advertisers can apply a wide range of other mobile-specific targeting options, which seem to be as advantageous as cookie targeting. These in-

Opportunities & Best Practices

Precise targeting capabilities Brands often leave a substantial part of their first-party data aside, hence decreasing their ability to figure out who and how they can reach on mobile devices. If a company invests in research and analysis of its most valuable mobile audience (geography, demographics, and interests) and then includes these results in its mobile ad framework, it can significantly improve customer reach and engagement. Mobile-specific ad messages Naturally, mobile customers differ from those who are viewing ads on their computers and laptops in terms of their habits, tastes and preferences. In particular, the most beneficial approach for businesses looking to improve mobile ad efficiency is to create short, meaningful, catchy and interactive mobile ad messages with clear calls-to-action. Additionally, split-testing device-specific (e.g. tablet specific) ads is increasingly seen as a best practice. If particular ads create satisfactory conversion rates, advertisers should consider using them in a campaign along with cross-device and cross-screen ads.  

?

Measurement and optimization It has already become possible to measure mobile ad effectiveness with precision. However, the primary goal for businesses lies in determining their mobile-specific key performance indicators (KPIs), so that their measurement activities are not in vain. Moreover, it is always crucial to optimize a mobile ad campaign according to its previous performance in order to improve its efficiency and increase generated demand. There’s no two ways about it, mobile advertising is an essential component to the modern marketing mix. The companies who understand its wide-ranging capabilities and leverage its emerging best practices, are those positioned for greater digital success. J U N E 2014

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Did You Know? • Facebook earns more than 50% of ad revenue from mobile. • Twitter’s mobile advertising revenue is more than 75% of its total advertising revenue.

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AFFILIATE INSIDER

It’s a Small Affiliate

World After All By Matt Swan, Client Strategist at Affiliate Window

An interesting trend that began to emerge last year was the internationalization of the performance channel. A number of successful brands from the United Kingdom, for example, have entered into the U.S. market and are currently thriving. Having seen an increase in demand from the U.S., they successfully set up operations within the foreign (to them at least) market. This is a trend that is definitely being experienced across the fashion retail sector. Brands that have crossed the Atlantic and successfully entered the U.S. include TM Lewin, Superdry, Monsoon and Jack Wills. All of these brands were seeing a high volume of traffic originating from the United States so it was evident there was a strong demand for their products and a clear opportunity to enter an extremely attractive market. Having seen the success of some of these brands, it would not be surprising to see more non-U.S.-based advertisers within the sector launch in the states. The market is challenging, but it can certainly be rewarding. Similarly, the globalization of travel brands has been another emerging development. Looking at a number of advertisers across affiliate networks, there is a clear trend in overseas bookings. While the majority of sales

Monsoon and TM Lewin are two popular British retailers who have expanded their performance marketing initiatives to the United States. 38

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originate from the U.S., sales span the globe. Consumers from a number of markets are booking with travel brands based in the United States. Internationalization of the performance marketing channel is typically being driven in two ways – U.S. publishers are expanding their operations to focus on additional markets while the space is also seeing a rise in publishers from overseas. With U.S. publishers entering additional territories they may need to overcome language barriers and understand the cultural differences of their new audiences. Setting up local language sites is a considerable amount of work but enables publishers to tailor their offerings to the markets they are operating in. By understanding where publisher applications are originating from it is possible to gain an insight into the nature of the traffic- whether it is increased traffic from overseas to U.S.-based publishers, or new publishers signing up from overseas to promote U.S. programs. It is also important to understand the implications for advertisers and how they can benefit from internationalization. Typically advertisers that are able to offer free delivery to international customers are far more likely to generate significant volumes of sales from overseas markets. Expensive delivery costs are one of the main barriers to international expansion, but not all retailers can afford to “eat” delivery costs. One way to offer free or low-cost shipping is by increasing the average order value by setting a minimum purchase. For example, all orders over $175 receive flat-rate shipping of $9.99 or free shipping, if the merchant is able to offer that benefit. How much data is at an advertiser’s disposal is also going to play an increasingly important role in the internationalization of the channel. This will help to facilitate an in-depth understanding of publishers that are effective at driving traffic and conversions from certain markets. Additionally, it will provide insights into the consumer behavior across the globe from the types of products that are being purchased from overseas, the promotions that are effectively driving conversions, average order values from each of the markets as well as the devices that are being used to transact. Internationalization of the performance channel experienced considerable growth last year, but it’s increase and effectiveness will ultimately come down to the availability and ease of global insights for advertisers and global e-commerce options for consumers.


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COMMENTARY

What a

NEWB By Derek Schou, As sociate

Being a millennial in the workforce has been an interesting experience so far. Before my first day here at Website Magazine I was confident in my abilities and my vast (or so I thought) knowledge of today’s technology. Now, at the close of my second week I can confidently say that I greatly overestimated myself. When I first stepped through the door and into our office as a new college grad, I was not only confident that my technical skills were at an elite level but also that my writing skills could rival those of any seasoned journalist. I was an honors student in college and had also created several websites from scratch. I thought that because of these prior experiences I was going to step into this position and immediately excel. My high soaring confidence was shattered quickly after my first editing session with Editor-In-Chief Pete Prestipino. As soon as Pete pulled up my first article I saw the smile fade from his face. Pete marked up the article like no professor ever had. To say it was soul crushing wouldn’t be too far from the truth. This process continued for most of the first week. Some articles were better than others, but I could tell that I still had a long way to go. At the end of week one Pete asked me to do one thing over the weekend – find my confidence. After spending my Saturday and Sunday searching the Web with the keywords I had learned from my first week in the real world, I realized that while I certainly have knowledge about today’s technology, it doesn’t even begin to compare to the real experts in the field. 40

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Editor

I came to the harsh realization that everything I had learned up to this point just put me on the starting block in a 100-mile race. The most shocking lesson so far has been how little I really know about the complexity of running an online business. My prior experience led me to think that my knowledge of all things related to website creation and management was fairly advanced, not expert level, but close. Thankfully, when I went in to talk to Pete about my confusion he wasn’t mad or disappointed but happy. He was happy because by asking questions he knew that I wanted to learn, that I wanted to become better at my job. The best part was that I wasn’t just learning from behind a computer screen but from an actual expert. Before my time here comes to an end I have three main goals. The first is something that I feel every journalist strives for, to improve their writing. The second and third are to master the two areas that confuse me the most, affiliate marketing and domain names. These two subject areas are far and away the most confusing to me but that is also what makes them the most intriguing. In order to increase my knowledge of both of these subjects I know I’m going to have to ask questions, a lot of questions, and I’m OK with that. Millennials like to think that they are already experts in fields they are passionate about. The truth is they’re not, I’m not. What I am, however, is someone who has a desire to learn and the courage to admit that I need help at times. So if a millennial musters up the courage to come to you with a question remember, they are just beginning their 100-mile race, don’t knock them off at the starting block.


Don’t wait, subscribe FREE at wsm.co/subscribe14

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Website Magazine June 2014  

Website Magazine is the one publication to focus exclusively on the business of running a website. Discover tips for successful websites, so...

Website Magazine June 2014  

Website Magazine is the one publication to focus exclusively on the business of running a website. Discover tips for successful websites, so...

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