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Trivera turns 21!

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Having been in business 21 years has allowed us to celebrate several birthdays with a look back at how far we've come. But 21 is symbolic of the entry into of adulthood and typically marks the beginning of a new level of maturity and accountability. And so, we're using this milestone to look forward.

The year ahead will be marked by the successful transformation of the ideal Trivera client relationships, as they evolve from exclusively website-based project work to deeper, more strategic ongoing digital marketing partnerships. That change began last year with the addition of new team members with skill sets in branding, integrated digital and inbound marketing strategies. It has continued with the development of a new, transformational 12 month process, one that begins with brand discovery and strategy development, and continues with tactical plans to strengthen every aspect of our clients' digital marketing efforts with constant monitoring, analysis and improvement. That new process is appropriately named "Evolve."

In addition to the new process, we've also deepened the strengths we've been known for for the past 21 years. Trivera's team now has greater depth in the areas of organic SEO, PPC and Social Media. We've also added Magento and Concrete5 certification to our credentials to back up our significant experience developing websites in both platforms.

While we're growing by addition, we are also maturing by subtraction. Over the next year, we'll be continuing our efforts to transition much of our hosting operation from our own data center to fully managed third party operations that specialize in Magento and Concrete5 hosting and 24/7 support. That effort will allow us to focus our own internal resources on the quality and management of the sites and applications we've developed, and less on the equipment, environment and security necessary for their operation.

Our client list will also continue its shift from smaller limited "website-only" engagements to one of fewer, but larger, deeper, long term ones that take advantage of all Trivera has to offer.

Watch for our own new trivera.com website to launch in February. The site will communicate our new direction and highlight more of our new client success stories while still preserving the archival information resources we've developed over decades of digital marketing leadership.

Over the past 21 years, how we've used the internet to support our businesses and organizations has evolved. What was once referred to as "Cyberspace," "the world wide web," the "CB radio of the 90's," the "information superhighway," the "dotcom boom"...and crash...the "new economy," have all evolved to become simply an integral part of every person's...and every business'...daily life. We're proud that we've been able to evolve with it and help hundreds of businesses leverage the power of digital marketing we knew existed when we opened for business on January 16, 1996.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

 

Five Digital Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making

By Tom Snyder, President and CEO

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It's been said that the first step to recovery is always acknowledging there's a problem. Because there are no longer any excuses for you to be a bad digital marketer, if you are struggling with disappointing results from your efforts, you definitely have a problem. The good news is that we're here to perform an intervention with a diagnosis of five mistakes you're probably making, along with the solutions to help you return to a state of digital health.

1.) Thinking Tactically, Not Strategically - Too many marketing decision makers fall prey to "shiny object syndrome." Without a strategy to give you solid tactical direction, the focus of your efforts will be directed by whichever new Social Media platform happens to be the flavor of the day. Yogi Berra said "If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else." Create a solid brand strategy that includes targets, goals, roles, to help you determine the tactics that will get you where you need to go. 

2.) Lack of Continuity and Consistency - In an area where success takes both effort and time, consistency is more important than perfection. So many marketers begin with misguided and untargeted efforts, expect vague immediate results, lose steam within a few weeks and simply give up. Les Brown said: "It ain't over 'til I win." Commit to the necessary effort as long as it takes, pausing only to adjust, and stopping only to replace underperforming tactics with something else that will better achieve your strategic goals. Develop an editorial calendar, assigning roles, and demanding accountability allows your entire team to be part of the effort. With everyone pulling together it becomes easier to make sure your efforts are sustained and sufficient to create the results you need. 

3.) Not Measuring Your Results - For centuries, marketers were unable to know for sure which of their efforts were directly responsible for the success or failure to meet their marketing and business goals. But after two decades of the measurability provided by the digital revolution, it's amazing how many marketers still refuse to monitor their metrics and make themselves accountable for meaningful results. Marty Rubin said: "Every line is the perfect length if you don't measure it." The solution is simple: EVERYTHING can...and should...be measured. Do more of what's working, and less of what isn't.

4.) Ignoring Changing Customer Preferences - Assuming that their reality is the same as that of their target audience, lots of marketers let their own biases and fears get in the way of exploring the tools and tactics that research shows will reach their target audience with the brand experience they prefer. Wayne Gretzky said "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Be sure that the customer-facing side of all your digital marketing efforts is aimed where your audience is going to be, arriving with the UX they will be expecting, delivered by the technology they prefer to do business with you..

5.) Not Making an Adequate Investment - Too many marketing budgets are based on the lowest priced response to their poorly written RFP. Regarding digital marketing as an expense to be minimized is the path to failure. Richelle Goodrich said: "If you invest nothing, the reward is worth little." Successful companies budget the amounts necessary for their digital marketing to produce predictable results. Base the amount you spend on a percentage of your annual revenue that's standard for successful companies in your industry.

Are your digital marketing efforts failing? You're not alone. All 5 of these mistakes are typically the result of marketers who take a "do it yourself" approach. Finding a reputable agency who can help you take the above 5 steps will be the first step to put your digital marketing efforts on the road to recovery.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

Back To School! What Our Clients Learned About Digital Marketing Last Year!

by Jamie Rinehart,  Digital Marketing Strategist

backtoschool.jpgEvery morning I walk my Boxer, Bella, before work. Any season, any weather. I particularly relish the Summer walks for the obvious reasons, it's light and warm outside. Thus the past several months have been amazing! Yesterday, as I set out on my morning jaunt, I noticed a slight change in the air, a little fall bite. As I continued, my senses now keen to seasonal changes, I observed some other signs of fall; a stray orange leaf or two on the ground and the sun was taking its sweet time to peek it's face over Lake Michigan in the east. Then, I was smacked in the face with reality, as I saw a big yellow school bus rolling down the road.

FALL IS COMING! BACK TO SCHOOL!

Overcome with the nostalgia of back-to-school, I started thinking about how Digital Marketing and Web Development is a constant cycle of learning. Team Trivera and our clients are always striving to stay cutting edge. Whether we are getting a Digital Marketing Certificate from UWM, completing a Master's Degree or gaining the latest Google certifications, we are always learning and sharing that knowledge with clients.
Now, completely in the Back-to-school spirit, I asked some of our clients what THEY have learned about Digital marketing in the past year! Here is what they shared!

Bill McCormick - Natural Look Salon and Wigs

"As a sales and marketing professional with 25 years' experience, I've used traditional marketing venues such as brochures, trade publications, trade shows and newsletters to communicate to our customers or potential customers. Prior to our meeting with the Trivera team I viewed the idea of having a website about the same as having to have a sign outside our building. In other words I felt it was a necessary part of doing business, however I did not put much thought into how the website can be used to bring in new customers.
The Trivera team has opened our eyes to the digital marketing world. They have shown us how important it is to set up and structure our website to optimize our marketing efforts through the search engines of Google, Bing and others. We are excited about the aspects of SEO and what it can do for our business in attracting new customers to our store front and e-commerce business."


Erik Bergstrom - Dental Associates

"This photo was in a case study I presented at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network member meeting this summer. It shows a parking spot in the deck Dental Associates uses in downtown Milwaukee. I walked by this parking space one day and laughed at how many times they have altered the parking configuration. Then I thought to myself, "that reminds me of the typical social media strategy over the past decade!" Start in one direction, completely pivot to another direction, move back toward the original direction, then settle for something in the middle.

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While I was speaking about social strategy at the time, it really applies to any aspect of digital marketing. Change is constant, and you must be willing to adapt and innovate if you want to continue to succeed."


Haley Kloss - Rogers Behavioral Health

"In the past year as de facto database admin, I've been working on using data to really segment our email campaigns. When we can determine the nature of a client's relationship with our brand, we can make sure they are getting content they want. We've seen success when we make our messages more and more tailored.

I think the next step in this is going to be working on what kind of content we're putting out in our email campaigns. We certainly know what we want to tell people: new programs opening, this great thing one of our docs did, etc. But that's not necessarily what people care about. Relevant content is important. I feel like a lot of people forget that, especially in digital channels. It's easy to feel like we did our work because we sent an email, put it on social, posted it on the web. But, there are still times where the metrics say our message is falling flat. So, something for us to work on for the next year!"
 

This Fall as the weather changes, leaves fall and school busses fill the roads, get "back-to-school" and learn something new about Digital Marketing!

About Jamie Rinehart

Jamie Rinehart

Jamie leverages his 10+ years of Digital Marketing and Advertising account management experience to help new Trivera clients develop strategic digital marketing plans that will help them acheive their business and brand goals.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Open Source: The Clear Choice for CMS Development

by Tom Snyder

My digital agency opened its doors in January of 1996. Back then, there were no proprietary Content Management Systems. Microsoft was still dismissing the notion of the web as a viable platform for business or e-commerce activity. If a website needed functionality, unless we could find something at Matt's Script Archive to accomplish the task, we built most of it from the ground up in Perl.slideshow01.jpg

As time went on, we simply continued to ride the open source path. We assembled a huge collection of functional applications we had built for client sites that could be added to and modified for new ones. Shopping carts, contact forms, opt-in email list managers, employment opportunity listings, content editors, slide shows, all built as open source using PHP.

A few years later came the emergence of Content Management Systems, which contained—as a package—many of the functional elements we previously had relied upon our own resources to create. Drupal, Joomla!, Wordpress, and others were emerging as the default new development platforms for most digital agencies who had followed the same path as ours.

Then came platforms like Magento and Concrete5, which began with a view to eventually evolve into enterprise solutions with a price tag designed to achieve profit motives. But the initial efforts of their foundational community editions were still fueled by the passion of development communities who helped to develop the core functionality. Along with them came a huge array of $5, $50, and $100 plugins and extensions to add custom functionality to meet almost any client needs. And because the open source model extended to those plug-ins and extensions, individual developers could make further modifications to meet even more demanding client requirements.

And all of this was designed to run on license-fee-free Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP operating systems running on low-overhead hardware.

The common thread was that all of these were—and still are—tools developed by people with a common purpose. That purpose was a desire to help the internet achieve its potential by providing individuals, businesses, and organizations with amazingly robust and fully functional, but still cost-effective, web presences.

During this same time, several software companies used investment money to create expensive proprietary content management and e-commerce systems designed to run on operating systems and databases with enormous licensing fees, and requiring lots of expensive hardware. Total cost of implementation and ownership ran five to 10 times that of their open source counterparts.

For the mega-corporations with huge budgets that are used to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on just about everything they do, and that believe no credible solution comes without an equally huge price tag, it provides the opportunity for lots of money to change hands.

That's fine if that's your business model. However, for a smaller digital agency, it's hard to start every web development project watching tens of thousands of dollars pass through from the client to the software companies just to create the development platform. That takes a lot of money off the table that could have been used to create more functionality, or pay for a year of post-launch support for inbound marketing and other enhancements.

Additionally, the open source model has always provided us with the flexibility and customization possibilities to always provide the client with a user experience and backend functionality that adapts to their specific needs and business model. Many closed source proprietary systems do just the opposite, forcing the business to accept the rules and functionality limits built into the system.

Smart digital agencies know that if providing value, return on investment, and total customization are all key components to their brand and value proposition, the open source model is, and has always been, the far better choice.

This article originally appeared at Opensoruce.com

How Much Should You Invest in Digital Marketing for 2015?

website-development-budget1.jpgAlthough most companies planned their 2015 marketing budgets in the last months of 2014, a new Gartner report will give you some guidance as to whether your planned investment will match that of your competitors.

According to the report, most companies plan to allocate a little more than 10% of their topline revenue for marketing in 2015, with 50% planning to increase their spend over 2014 levels.

Two thirds of companies these days still separate digital marketing as a separate category out of their overall marketing budget, with the average amount allocated to the digital efforts at a quarter of that budget.

Most companies plan to make Customer Experience their highest priority for the upcoming year, allocating 18% of their marketing budget on improving that.

The typical company will allocate 13% of their budget for Digital Advertising, with content marketing and website development just behind at 12% each.

The following chart shows how those numbers break out in dollars for various size companies:

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Those numbers may seem large to some. But there is plenty to spend it on. Our own observations confirm dozens of other studies that show how far many businesses have fallen behind in their digital marketing efforts. Few companies have responded to the shift in paradigm from desktop to mobile as the preferred customer experience. Most companies still fall behind when it comes to the latest best practices for SEO, PPC and content marketing. With email marketing and Social Media competing as the tool that creates greater results, and new transactional functionality emerging all the time, there is no shortage of digital initiatives to add to a company’s arsenal of marketing tools. 

Smart marketing decision-makers already know what they need to do to take full advantage of digital marketing to build their brand awareness, generate leads, and serve existing clients. But many have had difficulty convincing their CEOs, and CFOs to invest enough to drive efforts that will produce meaningful results.

These numbers will provide them with the evidence they need to argue their case and make sure they have the necessary dollars allocated to stay ahead of their competition.

 

Scott Zsori Becomes Team Trivera's Newest Member

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Scott Zsori has joined Team Trivera as our newest back end developer.    

Scott first talked to us about coming here in 2002, but the stars weren't correctly aligned at the time. 12 years later, things finally worked out for him to come aboard as our newest back-end developer.

Scott has been working in the web as long as Trivera has, doing all of the same things, in the same languages and platforms as we do it. If it is needed for web development, he knows it, and knows it very well. But he also knows how to communicate highly technical concepts to non-technical people, making him perfect for his position at Trivera.
 
An example of just how smart Scott is: In his spare time, he created and is currently the president of TheTVDB.com, a site that contains an open database of television metadata used by thousands of websites and apps, including Plex, Kodi and some of the world's largest search engines.  While you might not be familiar with the site, you're probably actually a user of the data housed in it. The site's API is used by hundreds of thousands of people, gets 6 billion hits (yes, that billion with a B) and consumes 120TB of bandwidth monthly.
 
Even with all that he has free time! He enjoys spending time with his son and wife, playing video games like Dota 2 and Minecraft, cooking, debating politics, camping, swimming, and playing volleyball.  He loves the Green Bay Packers, his Kindle, his two dogs, a multitude of pond and aquarium fish, and dad jokes.  In high school he placed first in Wisconsin in his division in Academic Decathlon and was ranked in the top 50 Quake players in the world.  He's considered the best dad in the world by at least one first grader.

 

Trivera is Seeking a Magento Specialist

Trivera is known as one of the area's foremost Magento Commerce developers. Due to a flurry of new activity and several new clients, we have a need for Magento developers, front end and back end. Certification is preferred, but if you just haven't gotten around to getting certified, we'll pay for your certification.

Check out the details!

New Clients and Projects Mean Trivera is Hiring!

A recent influx of new projects from existing clients, inlcuding MTMI, Dental Associates, Extrusion Control Systems and Perlick, combined with a huge number of new clients, including Badger Meter, Herzing University, Berghammer Construction, Krete Industries, Accunet Mortgage, K&S Tool, Phoenix Products, Paramount Prosthetics, Skylands Capital and TixSwitch, Trivera has openings for a Back End PHP Developer and a Designer/Front End Developer.

The descriptions of the opportunities can be found on the employment page of our website

Trivera Turns 18!

happy18thbirthday.jpgRegardless of our age, we all celebrate our birthdays every year. But, there are a few birthdays that mark milestones.  Sweet 16 marks a passage to the age where one can drive a car. 21 is when one is legally allowed to consume alcohol. 30, 40 and 50 are often marked with black balloons and taunts of being over the hill. I'm facing...gasp...my big 6-0 in February (or as I've chosen to call it, my second 30th birthday), but I digress.

One of the most special birthdays is the 18th. It marks the passage from youth to adulthood. You're reckoned by society as wise and mature enough to vote, get married without parental consent, and serve your country in the military. 

Today, Trivera celebrates our 18th birthday.  Back on January 16th, 1996, we became one of the very first...and one of only a handful of...web design and development agencies in Wisconsin.

At the time, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari didn't exist, just Mosaic and Firefox's predecessor Netscape. There was neither a Google nor a Bing  - the top search engines were Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Webcrawler and Infoseek. There was no eBay, Netflix or Wikipedia.  Joomla!, Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 were all years from being born. Email marketing and Social Media didn't exist. Nor did Digg, Tumblr or even RSS. Smartphones, mobile devices, tablets, iPhones and iPads hadn't been invented. Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or even MySpace? Not even on the drawing board! There was no broadband or wifi - internet connections came via a slow dial-up modem.  And 87% of all businesses polled in a survey said that the web was a fad, and they would never have a need for it. Ever. 

Our name back then was Websight Solutions, and our tagline was "web sites with vision." Fitting because back then, anyone who was doing anything on the web had to be visionary. Jeff Bezos had just started Amazon.com. Jerry Yang and David Filo had just incorporated Yahoo!. Craig Newmark had just launched Craig's List.

And there was us.

But we convinced Usinger's, Mitchell Airport, and FrankMayer and Associates to take their first leap onto the web. In those early years, our other early adopters inlcuded Aurora and Ministry Health Care, Holy Hill, the Marcus Center, Milwaukee Harley-Davidson and Mustela. Since then, we've been proud to have also helped other noteworthy locally-based brands like Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Strattec Security Corporation, Simplicity, Perlick and Dental Associates, as well as national brands like Motorola, Lotus, Frabill, and Panasonic.  We just started working on Frank Mayer and Associates' 43rd project, and are just wrapping up Mitchell Airport's 30th. In a few weeks, InvestorsBank becomes the most recent member of the Trivera story with the launch of their new site

Despite the fact that over 18 years we've seen the web go from infancy to youthful exuberance and on to a mature and necessary component of every business' marketing arsenal, for most marketers, how to make it work is still is a mystery. So we've been honored to have hundreds of other clients ask us to help them figure it out. Some big,  some small, some household names, others obscure to all but their niche customers.  But the one thing they all have in common is that they needed someone to help them navigate through the rapidly evolving, and quite confusing world of digital marketing, web design, e-commerce, email marketing, search engine marketing, Social Media and mobile, and they chose to trust us, originally as Websight Solutions, then as wirestone, and now for the last dozen years as Trivera.  

2014 will be a year of bold new plans: new customers, new partners, continued expansion, and the 5 year reunion edition of 2009's Social Media University. So Happy Birthday to us! Thanks to our awesome clients for their years of support, and our awesome team members who helped us earn that support. As we blow out the candles on our birthday cake, our wish is for another 18 years of success for us, but more importantly for all our clients because they've given us the opportunity to help them succeed.

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Trivera Chooses Magento for E-commerce

Trivera has been developing e-commerce enabled websites for clients in Milwaukee and the nation since 1996. While Trivera has experience in OSCommerce, X-Cart, ZenCart, Cube Cart, various platform dependent e-commerce plug-ins, and even our own proprietary product TriveraCart, no other e-commerce engine today posesses the power, flexibility and functionality of Magento.

And no other Milwaukee e-commerce developer posseses the breadth and depth of experience that Trivera does!

Trivera chose Magento as their preferred shopping cart solution while it was still in beta. Now after years of use, we're more convinced than ever that, if you need a world class e-commerce solution, there is no better choice than a Trivera configured Magento installation.

Our team of inhouse Magento developers and project managers give you people you can talk to... in your time zone and your language...who can understand and solve your business challenges, personally train you, and even your Milwaukee area brick and morter location for integration into to your P.O.S or accounting software.

Companies like Usinger's Famous Sausage, US PeaceKeepers, Frabill and others will tell you that a Trivera-installed and configured Magento e-commerce site is the smartest thing they've done for their online marketing strategy, and their bottom line.

Whether it's the Enterprise, Professional or Community version, Trivera's expert team is eager to begin fueling your e-commerce success with Magento!

Trivera Proves the Third Time is the Charm for Frabill

For 70 years, Frabill has been one of the most trusted names in the fishing industry. While Frabill is an industry leader in creating the world's best fresh and saltwater fishing products and accessories, their ability to find a Web services vendor wasn't as successful. A product of two different developers, the Frabill Web site was an underperforming, malfunctioning pain point. Needing a new developer and not having any room for error, Frabill made the decision to trust Trivera.

Following an analysis that identified deficiencies and uncovered new opportunities, the Trivera team embarked on a search and repair mission. The first phase of the project migrated the e-commerce portion of the site to Magento, currently the world's fastest growing e-commerce platform, and the rest of the site's content management to Wordpress. The selection of those tools, combined with Trivera's process, passion and proficiency quickly convinced Frabill's decision makers that they had made a wise choice.

While the site was still under construction, Frabill was already enthusiastically recommending Trivera to others.

"How refreshing it is to work with a design company that values communication," said Frabill's Jim Horvath. " Between the staging area, email updates, and 24/7 access to the project portal, the whole team has done a superb job to date in making sure we are apprised of improvements to the site...it is deeply appreciated."

Since the site has launched, they have become even more enthusiastic. Frabill immediately began experiencing the increased sales due to Magento's shopper-friendly features and improved performance. Their content developers are appreciating the ease with which they can maintain the site and keep it fresh and relevant.

Having earned their confidence, Trivera is now a true partner, with both companies working together to develop and execute a strategic plan over the next 12 months for further improvement of Frabill's online presence.

Frabill is happy to know they have found a partner that won't leave them flapping like a tip up on windy winter day.

Chris Remington joins Team Trivera

With a 10 year track record as one of Milwaukee's leading Interactive and eBusiness strategists, Chris Remington joins Trivera Interactive, a Germantown based Web site Developer and Search Engine Marketing firm as Senior Account Manager.

Remington's career includes successful stints at Mark Travel, Reiman Publications and most recently Hanson Dodge Creative.

Tom Snyder, Trivera Interactive President says, “Our paths first crossed nearly 8 years ago when Chris was the Interactive Account Manager for a company we were discussing a partnership with. The partnership never materialized, but meeting Chris was, in hindsight, the ultimate takeaway from that situation. Trivera has always prided itself in having a team of the best and brightest in the region. Chris allows us to continue that philosophy.”

Remington will also continue to serve on the faculty of the University of Phoenix, Milwaukee Campus where he teaches eBusiness, Management, Critical Thinking and Strategies for Competitive Advantage.

Trivera Interactive, since 1996, creates and develops Web sites, as well as developing and executing Search Engine Optimization, E-Mail, Mobile and Web2.0 Marketing Strategies.

2009 - The Most Important Year EVER to Get it Right

For years, our newsletters have stressed the fact that the success of your business depends on you taking the fullest advantage of all the Internet has to offer. This one is different. It's not the success of your business that depends upon a well-designed, search engine-optimized, promoted, navigationally intuitive, e-commerce-enabled Web presence. Given the current economic climate, it's your business' SURVIVAL!

When the economy slows, the available market for many goods and services decreases. If the economy is impacting the demand for the goods and services your business provides, you have two options: accept the consequences of lower sales, or work to increase your share of the smaller market.

A textbook example of a company that took the latter route is Kohl's. While overall in-store sales have been tumbling, their online sales are increasing, and not just by a little bit. While comparable store sales declined by nearly 7 percent for the quarter ended November 1, web sales for that same period rose by 92.2%! While many businesses are struggling, it's a safe bet that nearly doubling your sales could be called a bright spot.

But just "being" on the Web doesn't automatically guarantee an increase in business. Amazon.com just finished their best year ever, and American Apparel and Gap also increased their Web sales albeit by much smaller margins. But Web sales for Coldwater Creek and Williams Sonoma decreased during that same period. Watch for the possibility that both companies will be out of business by next Christmas.

While sales for brick and mortar locations continue to disappoint almost universally, smart business owners and corporate decision makers see the Web as the greatest potential area for growth. And Kohl's commitment to improve and more aggressively promote the Kohls.com "brand" has paid off in spades.

And while your business may not experience the same $40 million bump in sales Kohl's got just by re-designing your shopping cart and doing a better job of promoting your online brand, it's a safe bet that you'll see some sort of increase in sales... especially if your competitors are using the down economy as an excuse not to.

Even if your business isn't a pure play "shopping" site, you can experience an increase in meaningful transactions by doing the same thing Kohl's did: analyzing your online transactional processes, improving them, and promoting them... and not just haphazardly, but strategically, methodically and consistently... as if the survival of your business depended on it.

Because it just might.

-Tom Snyder

How's Your E-fitness Quotient?

Originally published, December 2007

For many Americans, a brand new year signals a commitment to improving their fitness. Resolutions are made to eat better, work out more often and make lifestyle changes to reduce stress and increase longevity. TV, radio and print ads at this time of year mirror the huge spike in interest in fitness with hundreds of weight loss, smoking cessation and exercise ads...each with an important disclaimer: Make sure to consult your physician before beginning this new regimen.

For many American businesses this should also be a time to re-commit to improving their fitness. With that in mind, Trivera is encouraging you to make a resolution to make your Web site better, communicate with your email list more often and make Internet strategy changes to reduce business process inefficiency and improve your vendor and customer relationships.

But like personal health changes, a change in Web business practices needs to begin with a consultation with your Web Doctor. So to wrap up 2007, Trivera is recommending a complete Web physical, and is offering a free 15 point custom e-Fitness report to our clients and our potential clients.
Included in this report are answers to many important questions:

With most companies reporting a 25-50% percent increase in their Web sales this year, there's no question that the businesses that "get it," are reaping the rewards. Are you? How are your Web conversions? news_quote.gif Are you communicating with your opt-ins? Are you doing so frequently enough? Too often? How do you know?

Does your Web site maintain current navigation best practices? Is your site taking advantage of current monitor resolutions, desktop sizes, greater audience bandwidth availability, differing browsers and mobile delivery systems?

Is your credit card processing mechanism in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards? 85% of all sites aren't, and will risk being totally prohibited from taking card transactions in 2008. Will your site be among them?

Does your site come up in search engine results that count? Do you come up high in keywords and phrases that nobody's actually searching for? Do you come up at all in the keywords that people are actually using to search for a business, product or service like yours? Are you an unnecessary victim of click fraud in your paid placement campaign?

Is how your site was built now hurting your position in the search engines? If you have the words "click here" anywhere in your site, the answer is yes. Image Alt tags, link text, page names, incorrect use of images vs. text, file names and content are critically important to your placement. And how they work has changed since last year. Have you made any changes? When was the last time you checked your position against your competitors?

And there are more:

Does your site contain broken links? Are you paying too much for your digital ID? Are you inadvertently giving your employee email addresses to spammers? Is your site experiencing downtime you're not aware of where it's hosted? Is your content management strategy doing you harm? Are there Web 2.0 opportunities you're missing out on?

The new year is right around the corner. 52 weeks to succeed or fail. And while many personal health resolutions require a commitment and discipline that lasts more than the first few weeks of January, all it may take to create benefits for your business is a resolution to act on your e-fitness report from Trivera.

If you're serious about success, let us help you achieve that success today!

Breaking News - Web Success Will Not Find You

A few weeks ago, a stranger walked into our office.

No big deal, it happens frequently. Sometimes it's a courier dropping off something from a client or a vendor. Frequently it's a lost soul trying to find the office of one of our neighbors. More often than not, it's a salesperson.

Despite our prominent location, and the over 100,000 cars that drive by our office and see our logo every day, I don't believe we had ever had someone show up in our lobby to talk about doing business with us.

sidebar2.jpgBut this time it was just that: it was someone who wanted to talk to us about being a customer!

Over the years, he had mostly done his own Web stuff, but lately had been relying on "some guys" to do it instead. But he had come to a point where he was being let down with bad service and second-rate deliverables. So he had decided to get serious and needed to enlist the help of an expert. And he came to us.

I asked him how he found out about us, and he told me that he's been on our newsletter list since 1997 and has read every issue. I was honored. And I wasn't really surprised, as over the years I've had countless people come up to me tell me how much they enjoy our newsletters and informative they find these articles. What IS surprising is how many people read these, tell me how helpful the information is, but don't actually use it.

Admittedly, we have covered a lot of ground since we started these newsletters back in 1997. In nearly 60 issues, we've shared our expertise in just about every single area of Web strategy. From pre-project discovery and research through development and implementation to post launch support and promotion. We've kept you up to date on all the current best practices for email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click strategies, content management, and more... lots more. Our newsletters have been reprinted in print and on the Web. Some of our articles have caught the attention of the media and gotten us interviewed on the radio, TV and Webcasts.

But none of this information is worth the digital impulses that carry it to your browser or your brain unless you decide to use it. As many of our customers (and all our honest competitors) will attest, it's all right on. Admittedly, it would be difficult and expensive to do everything we recommend. But is that a valid excuse not to?

That boils down to how serious you are about being successful on the Web.

Back in 1997, one customer of ours who had just started a business decided to put himself into our hands. He said "tell me what I need to do and I'll do it." So we worked with him to develop his strategy... e-commerce with the features that re-enforced his brand and his business model; multiple Web sites for different markets; weekly bulk emails to his customers with success tracking and improvement metrics; search engine optimization and pay per click programs; aggressive promotion of the Web sites in print and broadcast; constant content and feature upgrades and enhancements.

It wasn't easy for him to invest this much trust and effort. He had previously attempted several business ventures, but none of them panned out. But with this one, he saw the power of the Web, and wanted to make sure he didn't screw it up. Doing everything we told him he needed to do was at times a real stretch for him, and in the early days, a financial challenge. But he trusted us because he was confident that we knew what we were talking about, and that we would take our responsibility very seriously.

And most importantly, we both knew that on the Web, as in life, success doesn't just find you, you need to relentlessly pursue it until you catch it.

And 9 years later, because of his relentless pursuit, he now owns the top positions in all the major search engines for all of his keywords. He has an email list of over a quarter million addresses. But perhaps the most important, and relevant statistic: in 2005, he caught success in the form of $70 million in sales.

Are his results typical? No. But his willingness to trust our advice enough to act on it all is not typical either. Is there a correlation?

We can't state for sure, but of the hundreds of clients who have come to us over our ten years in business, there are three categories. At one end, we have our Hall of Fame... the small number of successful businesses and organizations who look to us to provide expertise and guidance. They rely on us to create and execute quality Web initiatives. They chase success and in many cases catch it. On the other end, are the ones who were underperforming monuments to stubborn reluctance, who feared the cost, tried to cut corners, and assumed that success would somehow still manage to find them, and are now just memories.

Chances are, you are one of the people in the middle. You're someone who reads our newsletters every month. You nod your head in silent agreement at much of what we tell you is necessary for your success, but you still don't do it, believing that somehow success will catch you anyway. And you're constantly disappointed with your results.

Someone once said unless you change direction, you'll end up where you're headed. And while you may be moving, the terms of success are constant. So the question is whether you are moving toward success or away from it.

Next month we'll give you a checklist for Web success. For most of our readers it will be an eye opener as they realize how much they're NOT doing. Your response to this article and next month's checklist will be the answer. You may start chasing success by taking this seriously, re-reading previous newsletters and resolving to plan a winning strategy. Better late than never.

Or you may unsubscribe. And while we'll be disappointed, we won't try to get you you to reconsider. Because it's not our style to chase people.

Kinda like success.

-Tom Snyder