Industry Buzz

Creating Branded Content on Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know

Social Media Examiner -

Thinking of partnering with other businesses to create Branded Content on Instagram? Wondering how to get started? In this article, you’ll discover how to set up, create, and analyze branded content posts on Instagram. What Is Branded Content on Instagram? Branded content posts were first introduced on Facebook and have now moved over to Instagram […] The post Creating Branded Content on Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

All the Fitbit activity badges

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

Fitbit has discontinued their Fitbit One step trackers, which seems like a good opportunity to step back and reflect on wearing one for the last decade or so. I’ve enjoyed using Fitbit trackers, but the One devices seemed like they broke down way too often. I’m pretty proud that I ended up earning all the activity-related Fitbit badges though: 100,000 steps and 800 floors in one day In 2013, I ran a 50 mile race and I took 110,472 steps that day. I think I did some extra steps late that night just in case Fitbit ever increased their top step badge from 100K to 105K or 110K steps. The lifetime miles badge took care of itself as long as I wore my Fitbit. The same applied for the lifetime floor badge: I’ve climbed 73,383 floors in the last few years, and that badge tops out at 35,000 floors. But the Rainbow badge was a little harder: 700 floors in one day. Climbing up Half Dome in Yosemite only got me 500 floors or so. At some point, I found myself in Washington, DC missing only a couple badges: Mountain (600 floors) and Rainbow (700 floors). DC isn’t known for its high buildings. I researched the Washington Monument (897 steps) and the National Cathedral (about 333 steps), but access was tricky and I’d need to climb either many times. Ultimately I decided on the New Executive Office Building, which I have access to because of my job at the US Digital Service. That’s how I found myself on a Sunday morning in July 2018. I started a podcast as I walked up the steps to the 10th floor of the NEOB (pronounced like “knee-ob”). Then I took the elevator down, and started walking up the steps again. And again. Every so often I took a bathroom break or ate a snack, but mostly I walked while listening to podcasts. I ended up climbing 818 floors, which is basically walking up to the 10th floor about 82 times. Fitbit claimed I burned 4000+ calories that day. Wait a second–the badge is only for 700 floors, so why did I climb 800+ floors? It took me about four hours and forty-five minutes to climb all those steps that day. Just in case Fitbit added a badge for 800 floors, I didn’t want the temptation to do re-do several hours of climbing. Overall, Fitbit’s badges have probably pushed me to walk more, along with a goal to get 10,000 steps a day. As my current Fitbit One gets more and more creaky and unreliable, I might explore a less quantified self though. I’m finding myself posting less on social media. Maybe not every single thing needs to be observed and tallied.

LinkedIn Events Relaunches: What Marketers Need to Know

Social Media Examiner -

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore LinkedIn’s relaunch of Events, new LinkedIn page features, and Facebook Stories ad updates with special guests, Amanda […] The post LinkedIn Events Relaunches: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Landing Page vs Homepage: Which One Should You Promote?

Grow Traffic Blog -

If you want people to visit your website, it’s a good idea to pay for some advertising. The trouble is, you need a goal beyond “visiting my website” for that traffic. You can get people on your pages through a thousand different channels, but the ones you pay for need to be special. Otherwise you’re just wasting money. Landing pages are the true destination for paid advertising. I’m not going to bury the lede here; there’s only one option. Directing paid advertising to your homepage is a foolish move. Think about it. What’s the difference between a landing page and your homepage? A homepage is a hub. It’s a central pillar for your site, from which a user can reach other parts of your site. Depending on the kind of site you run, this can operate differently. A news-style site will have a homepage that is constantly changing, sometimes as often as every few minutes, with new content. A page like the New York Times always has fresh content on the homepage, every time you visit. An industry blog with secondary services will have a homepage like SEO Roundtable’s. It has updated content, though it doesn’t necessarily publish content every single day. Elements like services the site sells are placed on secondary pages through navigation links. A business with a secondary blog might have a page like this as a homepage. It’s sort of a landing page, relatively static, primarily aimed at selling a service. And yet it’s not fully targeted, it’s general use, so it’s hard to make narrow paid ads match the content. A full commerce site like industry giant Amazon has a homepage with a wide range of targeted recommendations. When was the last time you visited Amazon’s homepage rather than a page for a specific product? Running paid ads to a homepage is typically not a great idea. The main reason, if you dig into various PPC networks, is something like Google’s quality score. One of the core elements that makes PPC advertising work is the congruence between the ad copy and the destination. A good paid ad is targeting a narrow audience with narrow messaging, and that audience expects that same level of narrow messaging from the page they find at the other end. Imagine if you clicked on an ad for a pair of shoes you like, saying they were 10% off. When you open up the link, you end up on the main homepage for Nike. Now what? You have to go digging to find that paid of shoes, hope it’s still in stock and that the deal is still active, and you might not even care anymore. You lost the convenience of a simple click-and-buy, and consequently, it’s just as likely that the store lost a sale. Guiding the User The point of paid advertising is to capture a certain segment of your user base and push them deeper in your sales funnel. Typically, you can divide up your audience into five broad groups. Cold. These are the people who don’t know much of anything about anything. They aren’t aware that they have a problem, they aren’t aware of your brand or your products, and they don’t really care. Some of these people can be made aware of the problem they face, with ads that lead to specific pieces of relevant content. Problem-aware. These are the people who moved on from the first step. They know they have a problem, and they’re starting to look into it. They have no idea who you are, though, and they have no idea what the potential solutions to their problem might be. You can reach these people with ads that have copy and landing pages targeted to the specific problem they face. Solution-aware. These are the people from the previous step who are aware that there’s a solution to their problem. They might not know who provides that solution, but they know what to look for in general. This is where you try to capture them with ads with your value proposition; we can solve your problem for you, with X benefit, for Y cost. Purchase-ready. These are the people who have experienced your third-tier marketing and have looked around, and decided that your solution to their problem is probably the best one on offer. You can capture them by spreading specific deals in your advertising, and with landing pages that lead immediately into a store page. Among these, the only one that might possibly benefit from seeing your homepage is the first group, and even then, you can create a more targeted page specifically for different audience sub-groups – rich vs poor, educated vs non, employed vs not, and so on – to better cater your messaging to them. It’s all about user intent, and capturing that intent with your landing page. Your homepage isn’t well suited to capturing any single specific, narrow niche of people. You may be able to entice some users in general, but it’s not as likely as a landing page. Think back to Amazon. Their homepage may be “generic” but it’s actually packed full of extremely personal recommendations. They know what you’ve bought and what you’ve looked at, and they can recommend products you may be interested in. Even though the format is broad-spectrum, with hundreds of products on offer, all of those product choices are personalized to the visitor. What I see on my homepage is not what you’ll see, guaranteed. Imagine if you were searching for a specific pair of shoes you like. You see an ad for Amazon, and it takes you to the Amazon front page. However, you’ve never visited Amazon before. They don’t have any recommendations for you, personalized and ready. So there’s a scattershot on the page. Maybe there’s a pair of earrings, maybe some fishing lures, maybe a new TV, maybe a car stereo, maybe a vacuum, maybe a romance novel. All of these things cover various interests, and maybe you’re interested in a bunch of them, but none of them match your intent when you clicked on the ad. Would you proceed to search for your intended pair of shoes, or would you back out and look for a different store that’s actually promoting what you’re looking for? I know I’d do the latter. Variation, Intent, and Conversion Paid advertising has one goal: to get the user who sees the ad to click on it. Depending on the ads, you may have different goals within that goal. Maybe you want to educate the reader on your products, or maybe you know the reader is already educated and you want to convince them to buy. The key to success with paid advertising, then, is to match content with intent. You do this through variation. I don’t just mean split-testing here.  A/B testing is a powerful tool, but it’s only useful for audiences where you’ve already matched your copy with the audience intent. It’s for second-stage optimization, where we’re talking about first-stage optimization. Think of the audience divisions up above. Could you design one single ad that is compelling to people in all four stages of awareness? Could you write ad copy so good that people who have never heard of your company and people who are intimately aware of your products both click it? Maybe you could, but let me tell you, it won’t be as effective. It will cost more and reach fewer people than if you divided up each of the four stages into their own targeted advertising. Here’s another scenario. You work a 9-5 job, but you’re getting tired of it and you’re getting stressed about it. So you start searching for ways to relieve stress from working all the time. You’re presented with varying levels of solution to this problem. Some ads recommend stress balls, and some recommend yoga, and some recommend a vacation. At this point, you get to think about which of those options fits your needs most closely. Only one of them is likely to be the true solution, and that company “wins” your awareness. Maybe you decide you want to try some yoga. Now you’re researching yoga, from DIY video tutorials to in-house trainers to weekly yoga meetings. Again, you’re faced with a choice. The company that attracted you to yoga in the first place won’t reach you with the same ad again; rather, they need to have another ad that targets you now. Maybe you pick a weekly yoga meeting hosted by that company. You’re interested, so you need to research it some more. Ads, at this point, are either going to try to pull you away from that company, or are going to convince you to purchase the accessories you need for yoga, the membership to the club, or whatever else you need to be successful. One ad doesn’t fit all of these scenarios. Neither focuses on a single destination. If you have no idea how yoga can help with workplace stress, a homepage isn’t going to help; you want a landing page that is packed full of content about the stress-reduction benefits of yoga. You’re not ready to buy anything, so a page that focuses on selling you a membership isn’t going to go over well. Later, when you’re aware of the benefits of yoga and you’re looking to buy, a homepage isn’t going to be all that helpful. You want a landing page that tells you what kinds of products you need and what packages are on offer, so you can choose what you want to buy. Minimizing Distraction One of the core principles of landing page design is to minimize user choice. The more options a user has, the more likely the option they’re going to choose is to leave. People don’t like having to confront complicated scenarios. They don’t like having to problem solve in the middle of their problem solving. They simply want to be presented with a solution. Decision paralysis is a large part of this issue. Look at your homepage. What’s going on? You have links to service pages, links to blog posts, links to a contact page, links to social media. What is the user going to do? The point of a homepage is to give a user those options. The user knows your brand, they know your service, and you’re giving them a hub they can use to dig deeper into anything related to you. Maybe they want to read more of your blog content, so you have a blog link for them. Maybe they want to read more about a specific product, so they click a link to your product page. Maybe they want to read your company history, so they click the About link. A landing page knows what the user is coming there to see, and focuses itself solely around that destination. The product page, the about page, the blog post; these could be considered landing pages, if not for the trappings of a normal website around them. There’s very little reason to pay to bring people to your homepage. You should always be more focused than that. Know who you’re trying to reach, know what they’re trying to find, and provide that exact content for them in the form of a landing page. To do anything less could end up wasting your valuable ad dollars. The post Landing Page vs Homepage: Which One Should You Promote? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Write a Small Business Shipping Policy

Liquid Web Official Blog -

A small business shipping policy is key for eCommerce success, but often overlooked. See tips for creating your own, and examples from industry leaders. Shipping and return policies are vital to the bottom line of an eCommerce business. Many eCommerce stores create their small business shipping and return policies the way people sign their names after a credit card purchase — without much thought (and pretty much just because they have to). Not only do they impact purchasing decisions on the customer side of things, they also have a ripple effect on your inventory and supply chain management. And the effect of a good (or bad) policy is often overlooked. That’s why we’re sharing all the details for why all eCommerce businesses need a successful shipping and return policy and how to create one for your store. Why You Need a Clear Small Business Shipping Policy Shipping for small businesses should not be treated as an afterthought. There are three major reasons you need a shipping and return policy that’s clear and easy to find. 1. Your Customers Are Looking for It You might think that customers don’t want to read this boring section on your website, but the opposite is actually true. Customers shopping online care a lot about shipping and return policies, and they’re likely to seek out yours. According to the National Retail Federation, as much as 65% of customers actually look up a store’s shipping policy before adding anything to their cart. 2. Bad Shipping Policies Are a Culprit for Cart Abandonment The dreaded phenomenon of customers leaving a store without following through on buying their cart items happens at a rate of about 75%. Two of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are related to shipping and returns: Either there’s no clear option for express shipping or the return policy is deemed “unsatisfactory.” 3. A Good Shipping Policy Saves You and Your Customers Time When a customer can’t find your shipping policy, your policy is hard to understand, or it just doesn’t give enough information, two things can happen: The customer can leave your store, or they can contact your company to get answers. While the second option is definitely preferable, it means that your team will be spending a lot of time fielding question after question about shipping and returns. That’s time they could be spending on more profit-driven activities. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store. How to Write a Great Shipping Policy You could resort to a small business shipping policy generator or download a generic shipping policy template that’ll cover your bases. But, if you’re here, you probably want to write a great policy, which requires more thought and effort. Here’s what you can do to write a great shipping and return policy. Prioritize Customer Service When Creating Your Policies When it comes to creating the “meat” of your policy (i.e., what’s allowed and what’s not), it’s best to think of your customers first and the bottom line second. You’ve heard that it costs five times as much to obtain a new customer than to keep an existing one, right? One of the best ways to keep customers who are already buying from you is to have as generous a shipping and return policy as you can. Of course, you still want to make sure your policy makes financial sense. Look for Ways to Do Better Than Your Competition Just like any aspect of running your business, you should be aware of how your competitors are handling shipping and returns. From there, look for ways that you could improve on what they’re offering. This doesn’t have to mean offering a more generous shipping and return policy (though it could). It may mean just communicating the policy better, making it easier to find, or going above and beyond with the information provided. Consider the Questions You Have About Shipping and Returns When Buying Online You’ve bought things online before — probably plenty of times. So when you sit down to create your shipping and return policy, go back to the moment when you were shopping at an eCommerce store, and remember what doubts and questions you had. Likely, your customers will have similar questions for your store. At the very least, you probably wondered: If you could return the item if you didn’t like it When your item would arrive If you’d get shipping updates Who would be delivering it Make sure you answer all the questions in your own policy. Write a Clear Small Business Shipping Policy in Your Brand Voice If your shipping and return policy sounds like a lawyer wrote it, your customers will, at best, be a little frustrated trying to understand it. At worst, they’ll find it disingenuous or scary. It’s not a bad idea to have a lawyer review your policy before publishing, just to make sure there aren’t any loopholes. However, it should still read like the rest of your website content, and be written conversationally and in your brand voice. The 5 Signs of an Amazing Shipping and Return Policy Do you have a shipping and return policy already? Make sure it meets the following criteria. 1. It’s Easy to Find Don’t hide your shipping and return policy from customers. Put it where they’ll expect to find it. Usually, that’s in your website footer (like in the example below from The Yoga Warehouse). Bonus points if you include it at checkout or on product pages as well. 2. It’s Easy to Read and Understand Keep language simple, sentences short, and the information organized. Great policies are visually designed to be skimmable. That might look like putting the information in a table, using headings and subheadings, or a FAQ format. 3. It Sets Clear Expectations Because small stores don’t have the credibility of huge brands, shipping for small businesses is extra important to get right. Preemptively answer any questions your customers may have so there are no gray areas. Common Questions to Answer in Your Shipping Policy Where do you ship? Do you ship internationally? How long does it take for items to arrive? How much is shipping? Do you offer free shipping? Can you combine shipping on more than one item? Do you put receipts/invoices in the package? Common Questions to Answer in Return Policy Do items need to be returned in the original packaging? Who is responsible for paying the S&H? How many days from delivery can items be returned? What happens if items arrive damaged? 4. It’s On-Brand Don’t miss the opportunity to infuse your policies with your brand voice. This is a great way to build more trust with your customers. The policies will feel familiar to customers rather than like scary legalese. Also, customers recognize that you put time into crafting the policies — and believe you care about their experience. 5. It’s Actionable and Honest Make sure that whatever you write in your shipping and return policy, you’re able to follow through on it every time. Otherwise, word will start to spread that your store is not trustworthy. Admirable Shipping Policy Examples From Small eCommerce Businesses If you’re still stuck finding the right words or format for your shipping and return policy, we’ve shortlisted the 4 shipping policy examples we love for inspiration. 1. Minted Here’s what this artist-designed stationery brand does right: They introduce their shipping page with a special, on-brand tagline: “Great design delivered right to your doorstep.” They provide easy-to-find tabs for “U.S.” and “International” shipping since that information is different. They include different shipping costs for different sized items — with clear labels. They spell out how their products are packaged because some items are fragile. They explicitly mention that no invoice or pricing is included in the package because it might be a gift. 2. Dearborn Denim & Apparel This American-made denim company also does a few things right: They offer a reminder of the company’s main value proposition that their clothing is crafted by a small team of experts: “Your order ships directly from our sewing floor, not a dropshipper or warehouse.” They use humanizing language to address concerns: “Some orders may be delayed due to a temporary shortage of a specific style or size. Rest assured we will be working hard to get those items through production and on their way to you as fast as possible.” 3. Will’s Vegan Store A vegan shoe and clothing company in the U.K., this store has an excellent shipping policy: They arrange their three shipping options in an easy-to-read table. They include the dates packages would be expected to arrive, depending on the shipping type (instead of just saying 2 to 3 weeks). This way, the customer doesn’t have to do the math on their own. They use an interactive drop-down menu to make it easy to change the ship-to country for accurate details. They make sure to highlight their environmentally friendly mission in their shipping policy: “All our shipping & returns are Carbon Neutral and plastic free. We do not use plastic bags or plastic packaging. All the materials in our deliveries are environmentally friendly, sustainable, and can be recycled.” 4. Heart Coffee Roasters This eCommerce coffee bean company does one big thing to make their shipping and return policy customer-focused: They organize their entire policy into FAQs with detailed explanations for why their policy is as it is. This means they can share a ton of information without it being daunting for customers. Don’t Assume a Shipping Policy for Small Business Isn’t Important Hands down, the biggest mistake eCommerce companies make when creating a shipping and return policy is not treating it as important. Instead, they craft a policy or download a shipping policy template simply to have one without putting their own spin on it or considering the customer journey. These basic policies won’t delight customers or build trust with your brand, and they’re likely to lead to higher cart abandonment rates. So if you haven’t already, make sprucing up your shipping and return policy a priority for this quarter. Hopefully, you’ve found plenty of inspiration in this article to make the job a bit easier. Learn How to Generate +1,000,000 on Your Store The post How to Write a Small Business Shipping Policy appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Use YouTube and Instagram to Establish Authority

Social Media Examiner -

Want to be known as the expert in your field? Wondering how video on Instagram and YouTube can help? To explore how to build rapport with any audience using YouTube and Instagram Stories, I interview Amanda Horvath on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Amanda is a video marketing strategist who helps people become thought leaders […] The post How to Use YouTube and Instagram to Establish Authority appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

New – Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Amazon CloudWatch launched in early 2009 as part of our desire to (as I said at the time) “make it even easier for you to build sophisticated, scalable, and robust web applications using AWS.” We have continued to expand CloudWatch over the years, and our customers now use it to monitor their infrastructure, systems, applications, and even business metrics. They build custom dashboards, set alarms, and count on CloudWatch to alert them to issues that affect the performance or reliability of their applications. If you have used CloudWatch Alarms, you know that there’s a bit of an art to setting your alarm thresholds. You want to make sure to catch trouble early, but you don’t want to trigger false alarms. You need to deal with growth and with scale, and you also need to make sure that you adjust and recalibrate your thresholds to deal with cyclic and seasonal behavior. Anomaly Detection Today we are enhancing CloudWatch with a new feature that will help you to make more effective use of CloudWatch Alarms. Powered by machine learning and building on over a decade of experience, CloudWatch Anomaly Detection has its roots in over 12,000 internal models. It will help you to avoid manual configuration and experimentation, and can be used in conjunction with any standard or custom CloudWatch metric that has a discernible trend or pattern. Anomaly Detection analyzes the historical values for the chosen metric, and looks for predictable patterns that repeat hourly, daily, or weekly. It then creates a best-fit model that will help you to better predict the future, and to more cleanly differentiate normal and problematic behavior. You can adjust and fine-tune the model as desired, and you can even use multiple models for the same CloudWatch metric. Using Anomaly Detection I can create my own models in a matter of seconds! I have an EC2 instance that generates a spike in CPU Utilization every 24 hours: I select the metric, and click the “wave” icon to enable anomaly detection for this metric and statistic: This creates a model with default settings. If I select the model and zoom in to see one of the utilization spikes, I can see that the spike is reflected in the prediction bands: I can use this model as-is to drive alarms on the metric, or I can select the model and click Edit model to customize it: I can exclude specific time ranges (past or future) from the data that is used to train the model; this is a good idea if the data reflects a one-time event that will not happen again. I can also specify the timezone of the data; this lets me handle metrics that are sensitive to changes in daylight savings time: After I have set this up, the anomaly detection model goes in to effect and I can use to create alarms as usual. I choose Anomaly detection as my Threshold type, and use the Anomaly detection threshold to control the thickness of the band. I can raise the alarm when the metric is outside of, great than, or lower than the band: The remaining steps are identical to the ones that you already use to create other types of alarms. Things to Know Here are a couple of interesting things to keep in mind when you are getting ready to use this new CloudWatch feature: Suitable Metrics – Anomaly Detection works best when the metrics have a discernible pattern or trend, and when there is a minimal number of missing data points. Updates – Once the model has been created, it will be updated every five minutes with any new metric data. One-Time Events – The model cannot predict one-time events such as Black Friday or the holiday shopping season. API / CLI / CloudFormation – You can create and manage anomaly models from the Console, the CloudWatch API (PutAnomalyDetector) and the CloudWatch CLI. You can also create AWS::CloudWatch::AnomalyDetector resources in your AWS CloudFormation templates. Now Available You can start creating and using CloudWatch Anomaly Detection today in all commercial AWS regions. To learn more, read about CloudWatch Anomaly Detection in the CloudWatch Documentation. — Jeff;  

4 Marketing Metrics Your CMO Cares About

WP Engine -

When it comes to data, marketing executives are frequently under the microscope. According to research by Gartner, the average company spends more than 10% of its yearly revenue on marketing, and the majority of CMOs expect that percentage to increase in 2020. Due in part to these typically large budget allocations, CMOs are consistently asked… The post 4 Marketing Metrics Your CMO Cares About appeared first on WP Engine.

What Is a Dev Site?

Nexcess Blog -

Changes to your website are inevitable. Whether refreshing your theme or applying a critical security update, sites are living environments that can react unpredictably to well-intentioned changes. Any change, small or significant, can disrupt or even break your site when carelessly applied. Such disruptions torpedo both your sales and your customers’ trust. Properly executing these changes can be the difference between an unnoticeable hiccup and a prolonged outage.  If you already enjoy the services of a knowledgeable web developer, then you’re likely all set. If you’re not – or if you have reason to suspect their qualifications – read on. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst Dev sites give web developers a way to test under-the-hood changes to a website with far less risk. It is a separate, private version of the live site that for safe testing of new code and features.   One common scenario is the discovery a critical security vulnerability in your CMS (Magento, WordPress, Drupal, what-have-you). A patch is quickly released, and every minute you delay applying makes you a bigger target for attack. Pressed for time, you immediately apply the patch to your production (live) site. The patch breaks your site. Worse, the lack of preparation makes reversion painful, and the outage extends into hours. You lose time, money, and customers. As usual, the best solution is prevention. Making changes to your live site is, at best, a roll of the dice. Don’t hope your site functions after a patch or major update – know it by testing changes before making them live. Not Just for Developers It’s not uncommon to hear “dev” and “staging” used interchangeably. This is fine, provided your developer knows the difference. Even if you have no need of a developer, a functioning dev or staging site acts as a buffer between uncertainty and reliability.  In the traditional model of web development (dev > staging > production), dev servers are essentially a web developer’s sandbox. They often live on local machines, rather than servers. This is where developers experiment with new features and code, or other changes that aren’t ready to glimpse light of day. Sometimes, they function as approximate, non-public copies of your production site, while other times they bear little resemblance at all.  Staging acts as the bridge between dev and production, and is usually a private copy of your live site. It is hosted on a server and likely mirrors the resources and hardware used by your production site. As such, it will keep you from breaking your site by updates to:  Code Themes  Plugins Security patches Features Store inventory Applications Quality assurance User experience Better with Backups If your site breaks, having a current backup makes it much easier to revert. Full backups take considerable time and space, but these are usually required only when your team is uncertain of the changes’ scope. Patches and upgrades fit this bill. Small changes, such as those that edit a single file, may require only the backing up of a single file. Regardless of scope, these backups will accelerate any and all recovery attempts down the road. As detailed in our Backup Policy, we provide automatic 30-day backups, but urge our clients to maintain a deeper and more current history. Redundant backups are the ultimate failsafe. Flexible Dev Sites with Nexcess Cloud For minimal cost, Nexcess Cloud clients can create a dev site at the touch of a button. We designed our dev site functionality to be flexible enough to meet the needs of any client or development process. Nexcess Cloud dev sites mirror your production site and environment, including your database. The dev site-creation process replaces personally identifiable information (PII) with placeholders, which means you can hand off development work to agencies without having to worry about the security of your customer’s data.  Creating Dev Sites in the Nexcess Cloud One of the many great things about  Nexcess Cloud Services is the ability to deploy Magento and WordPress dev sites at the click of a button for a small additional cost. For more details, see How to create dev sites in Nexcess Cloud.   For help matching a hosting solution to your needs, please contact our sales team between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. eastern time (ET), Monday – Friday. The post What Is a Dev Site? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Now Available – Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) on VMware

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Last year I told you that we were working to give you Amazon RDS on VMware, with the goal of bringing many of the benefits of Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) to your on-premises virtualized environments. These benefits include the ability to provision new on-premises databases in minutes, make backups, and restore to a point in time. You get automated management of your on-premises databases, without having to provision and manage the database engine. Now Available Today, I am happy to report that Amazon RDS on VMware is available for production use, and that you can start using it today. We are launching with support for Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and MySQL. Here are some important prerequisites: Compatibility – RDS on VMware works with vSphere clusters that run version 6.5 or better. Connectivity – Your vSphere cluster must have outbound connectivity to the Internet, and must be able to make HTTPS connections to the public AWS endpoints. Permissions – You will need to have Administrative privileges (and the skills to match) on the cluster in order to set up RDS on VMware. You will also need to have (or create) a second set of credentials for use by RDS on VMware. Hardware – The hardware that you use to host RDS on VMware must be listed in the relevant VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide. Resources – Each cluster must have at least 24 vCPUs, 24 GiB of memory, and 180 GB of storage for the on-premises management components of RDS on VMware, along with additional resources to support the on-premises database instances that you launch. Setting up Amazon RDS on VMware Due to the nature of this service, the setup process is more involved than usual and I am not going to walk through it at my usual level of detail. Instead, I am going to outline the process and refer you to the Amazon RDS on VMware User Guide for more information. During the setup process, you will be asked to supply details of your vCenter/ESXi configuration. For best results, I advise a dry-run through the User Guide so that you can find and organize all of the necessary information. Here are the principal steps, assuming that you already have a running vSphere data center: Prepare Environment – Check vSphere version, confirm storage device & free space, provision resource pool. Configure Cluster Control Network – Create a network for control traffic and monitoring. Must be a vSphere distributed port group with 128 to 1022 ports. Configure Application Network – This is the network that applications, users, and DBAs will use to interact with the RDS on VMware DB instances. It must be a vSphere distributed port group with 128 to 1022 ports, and it must span all of the ESXi hosts that underly the cluster. The network must have an IPv4 subnet large enough to accommodate all of the instances that you expect to launch. In many cases your cluster will already have an Application Network. Configure Management Network – Configure your ESXi hosts to add a route to the Edge Router (part of RDS on VMware) in the Cluster Control Network Configure vCenter Credentials – Create a set of credentials for use during the onboarding process. Configure Outbound Internet Access – Confirm that outbound connections can be made from the Edge Router in your virtual data center to AWS services. With the preparatory work out of the way, the next step is to bring the cluster onboard by creating a custom (on-premises) Availability Zone and using the installer to install the product. I open the RDS Console, choose the US East (N. Virginia) Region, and click Custom availability zones: I can see my existing custom AZs and their status. I click Create custom AZ to proceed: I enter a name for my AZ and for the VPN tunnel between the selected AWS region and my vSphere data center, and then I enter the IP address of the VPN. Then I click Create custom AZ: My new AZ is visible, in status Unregistered: To register my vSphere cluster as a Custom AZ, I click Download Installer from the AWS Console to download the RDS on VMware installer. I deploy the installer in my cluster and follow through the guided wizard to fill in the network configurations, AWS credentials, and so forth, then start the installation. After the installation is complete, the status of my custom AZ will change to Active. Behind the scenes, the installer automatically deploys the on-premises components of RDS on VMware and connects the vSphere cluster to the AWS region. Some of the database engines require me to bring my own media and an on-premises license. I can import the installation media that I have in my data center onto RDS and use it to launch the database engine. For example, here’s my media image for SQL Server Enterprise Edition: The steps above must be done on a cluster-by-cluster basis. Once a cluster has been set up, multiple Database instances can be launched, based on available compute, storage, and network (IP address) resources. Using Amazon RDS for VMware With all of the setup work complete, I can use the same interfaces (RDS Console, RDS CLI, or the RDS APIs) to launch and manage Database instances in the cloud and on my on-premises network. I’ll use the RDS Console, and click Create database to get started. I choose On-premises and pick my custom AZ, then choose a database engine: I enter a name for my instance, another name for the master user, and enter (or let RDS assign) a password: Then I pick the DB instance class (the v11 in the names refers to version 11 of the VMware virtual hardware definition) and click Create database: Here’s a more detailed look at some of the database instance sizes. As is the case with cloud-based instance sizes, the “c” instances are compute-intensive, the “r” instances are memory-intensive, and the “m” instances are general-purpose: The status of my new database instance starts out as Creating, and progresses though Backing-up and then to Available: Once it is ready, the endpoint is available in the console: On-premises applications can use this endpoint to connect to the database instance across the Application Network. Before I wrap up, let’s take a look at a few other powerful features of RDS on VMware: Snapshot backups, point-in-time restores, and the power to change the DB instance class. Snapshot backups are a useful companion to the automated backups taken daily by RDS on VMware. I simply select Take snapshot from the Action menu: To learn more, read Creating a DB Snapshot. Point in time recovery allows me to create a fresh on-premises DB instance based on the state of an existing one at an earlier point in time. To learn more, read Restoring a DB Instance to a Specified Time. I can change the DB instance class in order to scale up or down in response to changing requirements. I select Modify from the Action menu, choose the new class, and click Submit: The modification will be made during the maintenance window for the DB instance. A few other features that I did not have the space to cover include renaming an existing DB instance (very handy for disaster recovery), and rebooting a DB instance. Available Now Amazon RDS on VMware is available now and you can start using it today in the US East (N. Virginia) Region. — Jeff;  

New Automattic CFO

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

As Venturebeat has picked up, Mark Davies will be leaving Vivint and joining the merry band. Automattic is creating the operating system for the web, from websites to ecommerce to social networks. As we zoom past 1,100 employees in over 70 countries, we wanted a financial leader with experience taking businesses from hundreds of millions in revenue to billions (Vivint) and even tens of billions (Alcoa and Dell), as Mark has. I’m excited about working alongside such an experienced leader day-to-day to build what I hope will become one of the defining technology companies of the open web era.

10 Tips To Improve Your Website Mobile Experience

Liquid Web Official Blog -

More people view websites on mobile devices than desktop computers. Learn what to consider when designing your website mobile experience. Responsive design has become the new normal. When building a new website or redesigning an existing site – especially now that mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage on a global scale – the new site has to be mobile first. As business owners better understand the visual Instagram generation, and retailers realize more and more eCommerce purchases are happening on smartphones, they are investing in responsive, mobile first approaches to design. The problem is that creating a responsive website is no longer enough. To compete in today’s media-centric, information-abundant, over-crowded, always-on digital landscape, brands must move past the basics of responsive design to craft beautiful, simple, and easy to use website mobile experiences.” That means designing specific, well-thought-out website mobile experiences that consider even the tiniest of details. Creating a Website Mobile Experience Here are ten things to consider when designing your website mobile experience: 1. Logo The person your logo means the most to is you. No one cares about your logo as much as you do and it isn’t going to convince someone to pay you on its own. In 99% of all cases, the logo never needs to be bigger. Instead, consider displaying your logo at the smallest size possible while retaining legibility so visitors can get to the content faster. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter for more ideas on how to make your WordPress site experience even better. 2. Navigation Menu Before you stake your navigation design on the hamburger menu icon, consider whether your audience knows what it is—it could work better to use a button labeled “menu.” Also think about what happens when the navigation menu opens and how to close it again. Does the menu slide in from the side or drop down? Does it cover the entire screen? Are there drop downs in the menu that are easy to access? Is closing the menu simple and intuitive? 3. Headlines How many times have you visited a website and had the headline take up your entire screen? If you’re anything like me, far too many times. While giant headlines may look great on giant monitors, they have no place on mobile websites where real estate is at a premium. Ideally, the headline should be large enough to stand out and stand apart, but small enough to allow visitors to get to the content with as little friction as possible.” 4. Body Copy When it comes to the primary content on the page, readability is of the utmost importance. It can be hard to get readability right for every situation as people view websites through numerous devices and browsers with their screens at varying levels of brightness. Luckily there are a few solid rules of thumb to follow: 16pt type is fairly standard for body copy for mobile, while many websites are moving toward 18pt and 20pt sizes for large desktop screens. Because different typefaces, even when set to the same size, may visually look like different sizes, the size and line height will also be different. If the line height is too tight, it will be difficult for readers to find the start of the following line of type. The wider the content width (measure), the larger the type and line height must be. Ideal content widths range from 65-80 characters. When calculating line height, aim for 140-150% of the type size. 5. Images When it comes to images and website mobile experiences, anything that is set to align left or right could potentially produce weird gaps of empty space alongside the image. Consider setting all images to align center on mobile devices and whenever possible, set them to display at the full content width.” 6. Buttons, Links, and Forms Have you ever visited a website and wanted to fill out a form or click a button and couldn’t because it was too small or didn’t work right? Did you have to zoom in and try again? That happened because the form was designed for a desktop experience. For a superior website mobile experience: Make sure all links are underlined and easy to see. Make sure all buttons are large enough to click easily and leave enough space around them to ensure visitors don’t have trouble clicking on the right thing. Make sure all form fields display large enough to accommodate fingers and be filled in easily. 7. Margins And Padding One of the fastest ways to spot an amateur developer or DIY website is by evaluating the margins and padding on a mobile devices. Gobs of beautiful white space may look beautiful on a desktop monitor, but scrolling past big blank blocks on a website mobile experience creates a poor user experience. Similarly, wide margins and narrow content widths may simplify the design and reduce distractions on large screens, while on mobile devices, wide margins will pinch the content width and make it harder for visitors to engage with your content. Website real estate on mobile screens is at a premium, which means you need to make use of all of the space available. Aim to keep the content width as wide as possible and evaluate vertical margins to ensure the correct content is grouped together.” 8. Footer The footer includes content that is last in the hierarchy of website content. This means the content in the footer needs to be smaller and less pronounced than the rest of the content on the page, while still being easy to find and read. If you implement a feature like infinite scroll, remember that visitors will not reach your footer until they run out of content unless you limit the number of posts that show at a time and use a “load more” button. 9. Moving Elements Be careful of anything that moves or rotates. Movements that may seem small on desktop may disrupt the website mobile experience. Features like rotating testimonials may be cool on large screens, but on mobile devices, if the testimonials aren’t all the same length, they can cause the website to “shake” or “jiggle” vertically each time the testimonials rotate. 10. Sidebar Content Sidebars, when used correctly, can enhance a website’s user experience. The problem is that most website owners don’t use them correctly and fail to consider what happens when the sidebar stacks underneath the content on mobile devices. For example, if a website includes an opt-in at the end of a blog post and at the top of the sidebar, on mobile devices, visitors will see two competing calls to action right next to each other. That is both confusing and frustrating for a visitor on a website mobile experience. Take Your Time Developing Your Website Mobile Experience Remember, your website needs to be beautiful, simple, and easy to use for the best possible mobile experience for visitors. As you can see, it takes a well thought out strategy to ensure this happens on both desktop and mobile, and must be considered from all angles (literally). Discover 6 Ways to Improve Web Conversions Using Content The post 10 Tips To Improve Your Website Mobile Experience appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Create Personalized Content for Your Social Media Marketing

Social Media Examiner -

Want to generate more engagement, leads, and sales? Have you considered using personalized content in your marketing? In this article, you’ll find a plan and tools to help you create and deliver personalized content via social media platforms. Personalized Social Media Marketing: Why and How to Get Started Personalized marketing is a strategy where you […] The post How to Create Personalized Content for Your Social Media Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

National Boss’s Day: Find the Right Boss (and Job!) For You

LinkedIn Official Blog -

It’s National Boss’s Day -- a holiday created 60 years ago to celebrate all the great managers in the workforce. Having a good boss is crucial to your success and happiness at work; and today, professionals throughout the U.S. will be taking a moment to recognize the support and encouragement they have received from those bosses and mentors who have influenced their careers.  But, what does this day mean for you if you’re looking for a new job? A new boss is a key factor during the job hunt --... .

Planning an in Person Professional Gathering Just Got Easier With LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn Official Blog -

One of the most important aspects of building professional relationships for our members is being able to meet face to face. Whether at a local networking meet-up, a workshop or an alumni gathering, in-person interactions can help you create and foster deeper professional relationships. In fact, our data says that the chances of people accepting connection requests on LinkedIn increase 2X if they have attended a face-to-face meeting. To help you plan your next face-to-face professional... .

WordPress 5.3 Release Candidate News -

The first release candidate for WordPress 5.3 is now available! This is an important milestone as we progress toward the WordPress 5.3 release date. “Release Candidate” means that the new version is ready for release, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it’s possible something was missed. WordPress 5.3 is currently scheduled to be released on November 12, 2019, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.3 yet, now is the time! There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.3 release candidate: Try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (choose the “bleeding edge nightlies” option)Or download the release candidate here (zip). What’s in WordPress 5.3? WordPress 5.3 expands and refines the Block Editor introduced in WordPress 5.0 with new blocks, more intuitive interactions, and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increase design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style variations to allow designers complete control over the look of a site. This release also introduces the Twenty Twenty theme giving the user more design flexibility and integration with the Block Editor. In addition, WordPress 5.3 allows developers to work with dates and timezones in a more reliable way and prepares the software to work with PHP 7.4 to be release later this year. Plugin and Theme Developers Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.3 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.3. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release. The WordPress 5.3 Field Guide will be published within the next 24 hours with a more detailed dive into the major changes. How to Help Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages! This release also marks the hard string freeze point of the 5.3 release schedule. If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

A Complete Digital Solution: The Building Blocks of an Open Source DXP

WP Engine -

Today’s technology decision makers are looking for innovative ways to integrate various marketing technology (martech) tools and processes together, under the umbrella of a single platform. Early iterations of solutions such as Web Content Management (WCM) tools or Content Management Systems (CMSs) promised some of the needed marketing integration today’s businesses require in order to… The post A Complete Digital Solution: The Building Blocks of an Open Source DXP appeared first on WP Engine.

Responsible Participation In Online Communities News -

In our first article in this series, we highlighted the WordPress mission to democratize publishing. WordPress introduced a tool to independent and small publishers who did not have the resources of the larger publishing platforms. Access to a free content management system to create websites has empowered thousands of people to find their voice online. People have been able to share their enthusiasm for hobbies, causes, products and much more. Through these different voices, we can encourage understanding, spark creativity, and create environments where collaboration can happen. But as we build more digital communities, it’s easy to forget that online safety is a group effort. Digital literacy is also part of being a good digital citizen, but it’s more than just being able to do basic actions with your mobile device. Digital literacy refers to the range of skills needed to do online research, set up web accounts, and find solutions for fixing devices among other things. But to be able to enjoy more of the digital world safely and responsibly – to be a good digital citizen – we need to be able to:  navigate vast amounts of information without getting overwhelmed;evaluate a variety of perspectives;connect with people with respect and empathy;create, curate and share information. We will need our offline analytical and social skills to make that happen.  Here’s some best practices our community members have shared! Online or offline, let empathy be your compass The hardest part about all of this is the anonymity of online interactions. Without that face-to-face feedback of saying something mean to another person’s face, it’s easy to upset the people you’re trying to communicate with. In our daily lives in the offline world, comments may be more tempered and slow to anger  in disagreements. Visual cues will help us determine how a remark is perceived. That, in turn, helps us adjust our behaviour Action, reaction, it’s how we learn best. Online, however, the experience is different. A keyboard does not protest if we type angry, hate-filled messages. A screen does not show any signs of being hurt. The lack of physical human presence combined with the anonymity of online alter-egos can be a formula for disrespectful and unfriendly behavior. It is good to remind ourselves that behind the avatars, nicknames and handles are real people. The same empathy we display in our in-person interactions should apply online as well. Critically evaluate your sources  We all have times when we consume information with limited research and fact-checking. For some of us, it feels like there’s no time to research and compare sources when faced by a sea of online information. For others, there may be uncertainty about where to start and what to consider. But, without a bit of skepticism and analytical thinking, we run the risk of creating narrow or incorrect understanding of the world. With a little effort we can curb the sharing of fake news and biased information, particularly on topics that are new to us or that we’re not familiar with. Misinformation can spread like wildfire. Ask these simple questions to evaluate information online:  who is the source of the information?is it plausible?is the information fact or just an opinion? Own our content In this day and age, it’s never been easier to just copy, paste and publish somebody else’s content. That doesn’t mean that we should! Publishing content that is not truly ‘yours’ in wording and tone of voice is unlikely to build a connection with the right audience. But, just as important, using someone else’s content may breach copyright and potentially intellectual property rights.  For more information about intellectual property, visit the World Intellectual Property Organization website. Don’t breeze past terms and conditions Have you ever signed up for an online service (to help you distribute published content or accept payments) that was offered at no cost? In our fast-paced digital lives, we tend to want to breeze past terms and conditions or warning information and often miss important information about what will happen with our data.  When we are given a contract on paper, we tend to read and re-read it, giving it a greater priority of our time. We may send it to other people for a second opinion or seek further review before signing. Remarkably, we rarely do that with online agreements. As a result, we may be putting our online privacy and security at risk. (WordPress uses a GPL license, and only collects usage data that we never share ever.). Keep your website safe and healthy If you would like to own your voice online, you also need to protect your reputation by securing your publishing platform. Websites can face security attacks. Hackers may seek to obtain access through insecure settings, outdated plugins and old software versions, and in extreme cases can try to scam your visitors. And leaking customer data, may even lead to legal consequences. On top of that, websites ‘flagged’ for security issues, can lead to high bounce rates and eventual loss of search rankings. This can all affect how search engines rate or even block your site.  Good practices to keep your website safe include changing your safe password regularly, installing security software, an SSL certificate and keeping the core software, plugins and themes up to date. This will not guarantee that you will keep hackers out, so always keep several backups of your site, ideally both offline and online. That is just website security in a tiny nutshell. If you would like to learn more about keeping websites safe, you may want to check out some of these resources and many more videos at Join in and help make the web a better place! As part of Digital Citizenship Week, we would like to encourage you to learn and share skills with your colleagues, friends and family members. That way, we all become more informed of potential issues and how to reduce the risks. Together we can make it easier to navigate the web more effectively and securely! Additional resources Site health check WordPress 5.2 introduced pages in the admin interface to help users run health checks on their sites. They can be found under the Tools menu. Security and SSL  Video recording of a presentation by Victor Santoyo about website security and SSL.Video recording of a presentation by Jessica Gardner about why you should care about SSL and how to use it.Video recording of a presentation by Adam Warner about the personal and website security mindset.Video recording of a presentation by Miriam Schwab about content security policies.More information about SSL licenses on plugins in the WordPress plugin repository. Contributors @chanthaboune, @yvettesonneveld, @webcommsat, @muzhdekad @alexdenning, @natashadrewnicki, @oglekler, and Daria Gogoleva.

Codero Introduces Serious Support Simplifying and Expanding Its Support Offering

Codero Blog -

Codero, a global provider of value-added cloud-based technology and hosted infrastructure solutions, announced today that it has unified, simplified and expanded its managed service and support offerings under the consolidated brand of Serious Support™. Created to address the fact that no two production environments are exactly the same, Serious Support™ provides a highly customizable framework that enables customers to choose…


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