Liquid Web Official Blog

For the 12th Time, Liquid Web is Honored as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing U.S. Company

LANSING, Mich., Aug, 15th 2019 – Liquid Web, LLC, (https://www.liquidweb.com), the market leader in managed hosting and managed application services to SMBs, has been announced as a 12-time honoree for the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing US Companies. Of the tens of thousands of companies that have applied to the Inc. 5000 over the years, only a fraction have made the list more than once. Only 33 companies have made the list 12 times. “We certainly take great pride in this unique accomplishment,” said Liquid Web CEO Jim Geiger. “Achieving this honor for the 12th time further validates our strategy to make technology more accessible and valuable for SMB entrepreneurs and the agencies, designers, and developers who create for them. We have an unwavering dedication to provide impeccable products, service, and support to power the online potential of our customers. Our growth is fueled by our vision to be the world’s most loved hosting provider and our 2019 Net Promoter Score of 69 validates that our more than 30,000 customers rely on Liquid Web as their trusted technology partner,” Geiger said. Inc. 5000 recognizes the fastest-growing companies in America, ranking each company by the rate of revenue growth over a span of three years. Factors include the number of employees, industry, location, and revenue. Liquid Web has continued its successful growth both organically and through strategic acquisitions. Earlier this year, Liquid Web announced the launch of its VMware Private Cloud Powered by NetApp to offer enterprise-level features and functionality at affordable prices to small to midsize businesses. They also introduced annual pricing to their VPS offering and expanded their Managed WordPress and WooCommerce offerings, by adding features such as WPMerge and AffiliateWP and expanding locations in the EU to better serve their EU customers. About Liquid Web Marking its 22nd anniversary, Liquid Web powers online content, commerce, and potential for SMB entrepreneurs and the designers, developers, and digital agencies who create for them. An industry leader in managed hosting and cloud services, Liquid Web is known for its high-performance services and exceptional customer support. Liquid Web offers a broad portfolio designed so customers can choose a hosting solution that is hands-on or hands-off or a hybrid of the two. The company owns and manages its own core data centers, providing a diverse range of offerings, including bare metal servers, fully managed hosting, Managed WordPress, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and continues to evolve its service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its web-reliant, professional customers. With more than a million sites under management, Liquid Web serves over 30,000 customers spanning 150 countries. The company has assembled a world-class team, global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies for twelve years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn. *2019 Net Promoter Score of 69 Contact: Mayra Pena, mpena@liquidweb.com The post For the 12th Time, Liquid Web is Honored as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing U.S. Company appeared first on Liquid Web.

The 1% Errors that Kill your Freelance Business

When you start a business, you’re buoyed by dreams. Of course, the business will be successful. You know you’re great at your job because you’ve been told that before. You’re a technical or design genius, and you’re just waiting to be able to work for yourself and have some more freedom. Unfortunately, for many beginning freelancers, there is a big wake up call coming. For me, there were a number of small things that almost killed my business, some of them many times over the time I’ve been working for myself. Business Killing Errors Let’s start by looking at the errors, then I’ll show you what the solutions to these business problems are so that you can run a successful freelance business. Too Much Chasing When I started my business I determined I’d make 10 solid contacts a day to keep my business running. When you’re starting, that’s the type of action it’s going to take. Unfortunately, most freelancers spend far too long talking to anyone who has a wallet and a pulse. It’s not about sending prospects away because you don’t want to work for the prices they want to pay, although that is part of it. Every client you finish working with should inform you more about the projects you do best and enjoy the most so that you can start taking more of those projects instead of spreading yourself thin across projects where you can’t bring high value. A side effect of this is that freelancers who continually chase every possible client are often undercharging for their services. When you chase everyone that comes knocking on your door, it’s far too easy to get into a race for the bottom as you try to win every possible contract. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more Web Professional content like this sent straight to your inbox. Skimming Client Correspondence Once you’ve won a project, it’s time to start selling yourself and the value you bring all over again. This time, you’re not trying to convince a prospect to become a client, you’re trying to show a client that they made the right decision in hiring you. As you do this, make sure you carefully read every piece of correspondence your client sends you. More than once I’ve gotten myself into trouble when I didn’t read every little part of a note in Trello. I’ve ended up answering part of the question, and the client has to ask again to make sure that I answer the whole question. If you’re not careful when you address emails and notes from your clients, it’s easy to make yourself look unprofessional as you make your client do twice the work they should have to do. Too Much Freedom In my first few months working for myself, I would get up around 8am, eat breakfast, and check email. Then, I would walk the dog for an hour around 10am and have lunch at 12pm for an hour. After lunch, I’d realize I didn’t do any work to move client projects forward so I’d try to put in a flurry of work after 1pm. Almost invariably, I’d look up after what felt like a long work session to realize that it was only 2:30pm and I had checked social media a bunch instead of working. Many days in those first few months would end with maybe an hour or two billed to a client, but I had a nice tan from walking the dog. The opposite of this is also bad for you. Working every second of the day isn’t healthy. If you’re answering emails all night and on weekends, or if you’re diving into code for clients with every minute you can spare, you’re on track for burnout. Keep reading and I’ll show you how I schedule my days to balance work and rest so that I can be more productive than most. Late Delivery The latest I’ve ever delivered a project is a year late. Wait, it was 11 months, that makes a difference right? No, it doesn’t and I’m lucky my client was gracious and that I had worked with them well for years previously. We still work together, only because my client is gracious and because I’ve been delivering regularly for a few years again. Did you know that about 68% of software projects fail? Out of that 68%, half of them either take 180% more time to deliver or produce less than 70% of the intended functionality. The fact is that even 2 days late is late and if you do this regularly, your business isn’t going to survive. Keep reading to see how I manage projects so that they deliver on time. You Think Your Clients Will Remember You It’s easy to think that because you delivered a great project to a client, they’ll remember you the next time they have work to do. Unfortunately, this isn’t the truth. I can’t count the number of times in my 11 years of building WordPress sites I’ve looked at a client site two years later only to find that it’s totally changed and I had no idea. Many clients will work with whatever developer or designer is currently top of mind. This can be fixed by building a good follow up system. You Spend Too Much I love new shiny stuff. As I write this, DJI came out with a new action camera to compete with my GoPro Hero 7 Black, and boy do I want to purchase it. I don’t need it, but it’s pretty dang cool and the DJI Action Cam is cheaper than that GoPro. But I already own a GoPro Hero 7 Black, and there really isn’t a reason to purchase the DJI camera.  When I started my business, I would already have an order placed for the new DJI camera. It wouldn’t have mattered that I didn’t have the money. I would see some new shiny piece of technology and I’d order it for “work” reasons. More than once, I spent the money I needed to use to pay myself on something cool just because it was new and cool. Luckily, I’ve solved that problem for myself, despite still loving to purchase new shiny stuff. Fixing These Business Killing Errors Those are the big problems that kill businesses and if you read them and see yourself in them, remember I’ve made each and every mistake listed. Some of them more than once. Let me tell you about the systems and processes I use to help me not fall into these business-killing traps. Start Vetting Prospects The first problem was too much chasing prospects, and this is fixed by building a client vetting process. The way to start this is to establish a few ground rules about working with you. My process starts with a set of questions that you must answer if you want to work with me. I’ve shared the exact initial email I send every prospect. Book a Call Once a prospect has answered those questions, the next step is to book a call with me. No, I don’t work with first-time clients without this call. For specific reasons outlined below, I only book these calls on Friday before noon. Yes, some prospects don’t like this and choose not to work with me. To me, this means that we weren’t a good fit because any calls during the project will also take place on Friday before noon. Far from trying to be belligerent about calls, as we’ll talk about in a minute, I do this because I schedule the rest of my week for work on the projects I currently have on my plate. Collaborate on a Proposal The next step is producing a written proposal for a prospect. I start by writing out the initial draft, and then we work on it together. If my prospects aren’t up for a bit of collaborative work on a proposal, I bow out of the running.  I only do collaborative proposals because it’s a great test to work together before anything has been signed. In early May of this year, we got to this point with one particular client and working together on the proposal showed me that the client wasn’t thoroughly reading my emails. I learned this as they asked questions during the week for things that were clearly spelled out in the proposal at their original request. Without this step of working together on the proposal, I would have headed into a project that was way more management than I desired. Land the Project Once you’ve put this work in with a prospect, you’re highly likely to land the work. The prospects that were mostly “kicking the tires” bowed out earlier because of your requirements. A great side effect of a solid client vetting process is that it lets prospects know that they’re dealing with a professional that has an established process that works to deliver winning projects. By taking the time to talk with prospects two or three times, you’ll be better equipped to understand their problems so that you can solve them well. Both of these things show your prospects that you’re a high-value freelancer, so you can charge more. When I started to implement this process I almost doubled my rates in a few months. Simply because I showed that I was a professional, my prospects started to treat me like one. This whole process isn’t about weeding out certain clients as much as it’s about finding ideal clients where you can truly deliver high value. It’s about finding clients you can work with for years. Most of my current clients have been with me for 7+ years and while we’ve had rocky roads, we continue to work together because we treat each other as professionals and trust that we will continue to act professionally together. Read, Write, Then Read Again Another key aspect of showing that you’re a professional is being thorough with your client correspondence. This was something I struggled with early in my business and it was harming me because I looked unprofessional and used so much time communicating with clients. To combat this, I added a few rules to my client correspondence. First, I never reply inline to a client. If I’m replying to an email, I open Drafts (iOS or macOS) to write the reply. If I’m replying to something in Trello, I open up Drafts to write the reply. When I started I was so strict with this that even if my client had a six-word question and my answer was yes/no I would write it in another application. Second, read the customer request. Then write the reply in another app. Next, read the customer request in detail again and physically point to the sentence or paragraph that addresses their question. As you do this, make sure to read it again to ensure that the paragraph you’re pointing to does indeed answer the question completely. Third, copy and paste the answer into the email or project management system and… do step two again. While it may seem like a lot of work, it’s worth it. I first heard about pointing and calling in a book that talked about the Japanese transit system doing it so that workers didn’t miss a step. Yes, I felt silly, but it stopped me from wasting my client’s time and helped me to reply professionally to their requests the first time. Now, I’m more likely to hear that my responses are the most complete responses that a customer has ever had instead of getting a repeat of a part of the question I didn’t address. Schedule Work Time (Too Much Freedom) I’ve already alluded to this, but I schedule my day and I stick to my schedule. I start by scheduling out my week in a notebook, which you can see below. I start each day at around 5:30-6:00 am by reading for an hour. Then I write and do client work for around two hours. I follow this working block with a 2-3 hour break. Some days I run. Some days I take a kid to figure skating and some days my wife runs while I hang out with our kids who aren’t in school. Then from around noon until 3 pm, I get back to work and focus on only work. During this window, I’ll look at email or other tasks that are less mentally demanding than my morning work. Each section of this schedule is intentional and specific. In the book When by Daniel Pink, we learn that it doesn’t matter if you’re a morning person or a night person, you focus best shortly after you wake up. Morning people like me do it early, night people have better focus later in the day because they got up later in the day. Once you’re through your first peak of focus, you hit a trough where you don’t focus very well. This is my mid-day break. Later in the day, you hit a second peak of focus before slowly declining until you go to bed. I use my second peak for less cognitively demanding tasks like dealing with email and basic project management. When I started my business, I figured every minute was the same so I didn’t plan different types of tasks for different times in the day. I’d often start with email, using my best brain time on a task that wasn’t demanding. Then late in the day, I’d try to dig deep into a client problem and wonder why it was so much work? One of the keys to scheduling your work time well is cutting distractions. I do most of my work on an iPad with all the notifications turned off. Instead of huge screen real estate, I have a single window to view. I don’t have overlapping applications so I simply focus on the task at hand instead of looking around at which window on my screen is the most interesting currently. I also don’t put my phone on my desk. Yes, it’s in my office, but it’s on a shelf where I can’t see it and it’s set to only ring if my wife calls me. No, it doesn’t even make a sound when my wife sends me a text message. When I’m working, I focus on work. When I’m not working, I don’t let work creep into my life. The final way to make sure that you focus on your work is to start tracking your time. I track every minute I’m in the office, every day of the week. I can tell you that I spent 20 minutes before writing this article adjusting a few things on my desk so that my monitor stand could be mounted exactly where I want it mounted. I use Cushion for this, but most billing software has some form of time tracking built-in. At the very least, they have an integration with Toggl which does awesome with time tracking. While it may seem like a burden to track your time, it’s the only way you’re going to be able to find problems in the work you’re doing. I color-code all the work for my business in red. I know that if I have too much red in a day, I didn’t directly earn any money because I wasn’t working for clients. At the end of every week, I take a quick count of the hours I worked focusing on the number of hours I worked for clients so that I can be sure that I’m earning enough to pay the bills. Late Delivery Once you have a system that lets you get enough focused work hours in the day, you’re well on your way to delivering projects on time. You’re also going to need some type of project management system. If you’re on the lookout for that, check out my previous article on Project Management Basics for Freelancers. Those aren’t the only pieces you need though. You need to have a system to regularly review your projects and all your tasks so that you don’t drop any balls. For me, the most productive hour of the week is my Friday shutdown routine. The times I miss this shutdown, I can measure a 10-15% drop in my productivity during the following week. That’s not the only shutdown routine I have though. I have a daily process I use to check in with my projects and plan the work that needs to get done the following day. You’re not going to be surprised to hear that I also have a system to transition months so that I have a handle on the projects that should be the focus of each month. Let’s start by walking through my monthly routine because the other systems require information from my monthly routine. Each month, I plan an hour to survey the last month of notes in my Bullet Journal and look ahead based on the future log of my Bullet Journal. Armed with this information I take every project I have to work on in a month and start to list it out. The goal here is to have a reference for each week when I’m doing my planning. When I came to the time I had planned to write, I looked up the article that we had already planned because it was written in my monthly list. My monthly list trickles down into my weekly list, which is generated every Friday in about 30 minutes as I wind down from the week. The goal of the weekly shut down is to look at the week that has passed and see if anything got missed. If something got missed, I need to plan to fit it in the following week. I also use this time to build out a plan for the week so that at any given moment I know what type of work I should be doing. I start this weekly plan with my runs, then follow it with any family commitments that take up time I could be working. You can see skating listed here as something I need to take into account as I plan the week. Then I look at the projects and tasks that need to be accomplished in a week and slot them into times when I can do them. At any given moment of the week, I know what I should be working on. It’s possible that I’m not working on that item, but if I don’t start with a plan I spend a bunch of time trying to decide what I should be working on instead of doing something to push my work forward. My daily routine starts with 30 minutes left in the day. I stop my work and look through what was planned for the day. If I got everything done, I move on to the next day and make sure I have everything I need to get work done. If I’ve missed something in the day, I evaluate the time left in the week to see where I can get the item in. When I said above that I schedule everything down to my call time, you can see I was serious. Build a Follow Up Process It’s unfortunate, but many clients will work with whatever development shop or freelancer is most recent in memory. That means you need to have a long term follow up process so that you stay top of mind for your clients. In my business, I did a small project for a client in 2011. It was less than $1k, but I spent the next six years following up with them and they turned into a $50k client in year six. There was more than one year where I only heard back from them once despite my regular communication. I didn’t do anything special, I just dropped them into my follow up process. While there is a lot of great software out there, you don’t need to use it. I have used Contactually and Pipedrive in the past, but I’ve centralized everything in my Bullet Journal now. My process is as simple as reaching out to a prospect I still feel is worth reaching out to every three months. When I send them an email I mention a resource that may be relevant to their business and then I bump them forward three months in the Future Log of my Bullet Journal. I got away from Contactually and Pipedrive because they ended up turning into huge lists of people I hadn’t contacted in a long time as they both kept bringing forward anyone I had talked to for any reason. When it comes to following up with prospects, I start with a weekly email for 3 weeks to see if they’re ready to move forward with a project. After 3 weeks, I email them every month for a quarter, and then I move them to the quarterly follow up. As long as I’ve heard from someone in the last calendar year, I keep following up until they tell me to stop. You may look at this and think it’s not manageable, but I can get through all the follow up I have to do in a week in 30 minutes, usually on Fridays as I’m between calls. If you can’t set aside those 30 minutes to check-in with old clients and prospects, then it’s going to be hard to keep your business running over the long term. Have a Business Budget One of the final things that almost sunk my business was budgeting. From the beginning of my business, when I took my wife on a “date” and just happened to be near a client where I could pick up a check that allowed me to pay us, all the way to 2018 when there was a bunch of shiny tech I wanted, I’ve made some dumb mistakes with my business. Luckily I read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, adopted the system in the middle of 2018, and I couldn’t have made a better decision. The basics of Profit First are that on the 10th and 25th of the month you deal with your finances. You take all the income you’ve had come in and divide it up based on percentages. Here are the percentages I use now: Taxes: 15%Pay: 60%Expenses: 20%Profit: 1%Extra: 4% Those numbers mean that I put 15% away for taxes, and since I’m a bit of a spender, I send that money directly to my tax account. I put aside 60% of everything I earn to pay myself. Another 20% goes towards any business expenses. I always have a profit because I put 1% away in a profit account and that extra 4% heads to the government as I pay off some tax debt. I did mention that I made some bad financial decisions, and being in debt on taxes is the result of some of those. The great thing about this system is that I can purchase anything I want with the 20% expenses. I don’t need to feel bad about spending that on things that the business needs. By the same token, if there isn’t money in the expense account, it’s time to trim the fat in the business. Out of the 60% listed above, I pay myself on the 10th and the 25th a set amount. It’s not everything I have in the account, and if I don’t have enough to pay myself what is expected, we have to deal with less. The best part of the whole thing is the 1% Profit that you put aside no matter what. Every quarter, I get to spend that on whatever seems like it would be cool for the family. We’ve put it towards a babysitter and dinner out, or a bicycle. The only rule is that I can’t spend it on anything that’s for the business. Back when I adopted Profit First, times we tight. By adopting this system I didn’t start earning more, but there was instant relief in my stress about finances and as I got less stressed, I made better business decisions, which in turn helped the business become more profitable again. I recommend Profit First to every freelancer I talk to and they’ve all been surprised at how much better it makes them feel. The post The 1% Errors that Kill your Freelance Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

Seven Things Speakers Must Have On A Website Speaking Page

Whether you’re just getting started with public speaking or you’re a seasoned professional speaker who has been speaking to groups for years, you need a speaker website or a speaking page—a place meeting planners, event organizers, and media can go to learn more about you. A successful speaking page provides the exact information needed to help someone decide if they should invite you to their event and facilitates the inquiry process. Unfortunately, many speaking pages fall short and talented speakers fail to get booked. That’s why in today’s post, we’re sharing exactly what speakers need to include on their website speaking page. What To Include On A Speaking Page If you want to get booked as a speaker, you need to make it easy for event planners and booking agents to not only find the information they’re looking for but see just how fantastic you are in front of a group. You also need to remove the “wild card” risk associated with an unknown speaker and provide peace of mind that you’ll wow the audience and make the person who booked you look good. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to receive tips on how to build a professional WordPress site. Here’s a list of seven things meeting planners are looking for on a speaking page: 1. Speaking Topics Share your best, most popular speaking topics and if you have one, your signature talk—the best talk you have that always receives rave reviews from event planners and audiences alike. Consider sharing the talk title and a short description for each topic. 2. Speaking Testimonials Every time you speak at an event, ask for feedback and a testimonial from the event organizers and ask to see the attendee feedback or survey results for your session. Display testimonials about your talks on the speaking page, share attendee feedback, and if attendees posted glowing remarks about your talk on social media, embed a tweet or two to provide added social proof. 3. Speaking Photos And Videos Make sure you ask a friend to take photos and/or video of you speaking, hire a photographer or videographer to take photos, or ask for photos and/or a video recording of your talk from the event organizers. You can also ask for the official event videographer or photographer’s contact information before the event and hire the same person to take extra photos of your talk. Displaying photos of you speaking at events and including videos of you speaking from stage demonstrate that you have experience and give potential clients the opportunity to see you in action and witness the quality and value you deliver. 4. Previous or Future Speaking Gig Information Have you spoken at other events or have future speaking gigs booked? List them on the speaking page of your website. This shows event organizers that you’re already being booked by other people and helps remove risk. 5. Your Speaking Approach Do you have a unique speaking style? Are you known for a specific thing when you speak? Do you have a reputation for making people laugh, telling great stories, or inspiring action? Share it! Also, share your approach to working with event planners and event organizers to ensure your session creates great value for their audience. 6. A Speaker One Sheet In addition to a speaking page, it’s a great idea to create a speaker one-sheet, which is a flyer promoting your speaking. A downloadable one-sheet that includes your photo, bio, speaking topics, testimonials, and contact information is incredibly valuable for event organizers who often research speakers online, gather information, and provide options to key stakeholders to choose from. When you have a one-sheet, a meeting planner can download it, and either email it to decision-makers or print it to distribute at a meeting. 7. A Speaker Booking Form At the bottom of your website speaking page, include an interest form or booking form that includes questions specific to speaking such as when the event is and how many people are expected to attend. One More Tip For Speakers With the seven items listed above incorporated into your speaking page, you’ll have everything an event planner is looking for except one thing. We haven’t yet addressed a professional bio because where it goes on your website varies. If your entire website is dedicated to speaking and it is a speaking website, the about page should have your professional bio in long and short formats, as well as a collection of photos.If your website is a business site that is selling services and/or products and the speaking information is limited to the speaking page, you need to include a professional bio on the speaking page. The post Seven Things Speakers Must Have On A Website Speaking Page appeared first on Liquid Web.

Getting the Most out of Facebook for WooCommerce

Facebook is one of the most-trafficked websites on the planet. Only Google and YouTube see more. With 1.56 billion daily users, Facebook’s user base is impressive, and 31% of the global population are active on the platform at least monthly. No matter how many customers you have, and no matter how many customers you continue to convert, there’s not a single retailer in the world with the global reach of Facebook. What if you could tap into even a small fraction of Facebook’s massive user base? What if you could boost sales and in turn, generate more revenue for your online store by bringing your retail business to Facebook’s vast audience? We’re here to tell you that you can. Here’s how to sell products on Facebook in four easy steps. How Does Facebook for WooCommerce Work? It starts with the Facebook tracking pixel. Adding this small but powerful item to your WooCommerce store gives Facebook Business Manager access to your product catalog, and tracks customer data. Once the two platforms are connected, you’ll add your products, put together your catalog, and set up your Facebook shop. Don’t worry — it’s easier than it sounds. When your store runs on WooCommerce, Facebook integration brings consistency and cohesiveness to your retail experience. Plus, Facebook Business Manager makes this a very simple, painless process; the “work” of the integration is automated. In the end, you are selling products both on your eCommerce site and on your Facebook shop. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more insight into using social media to promote your WooCommerce store. Benefits of Combining Facebook and eCommerce For eCommerce retailers, there are several benefits to integrating a WooCommerce store with Facebook (beyond adding a new revenue channel). Wider Reach Integrating with Facebook is an opportunity to leverage the vast user base. Even if you convert just a fraction of Facebook’s total usership, it can result in substantially higher revenue for your business. Stronger Customer Relationships Integrating with Facebook can help you to build stronger customer relationships. Facebook is a platform that is designed, first and foremost, for building relationships. So bringing eCommerce to Facebook is the best of both worlds both for you and your customers. Better Audience Data The ability to collect useful, actionable data on the audience data makes Facebook a valuable tool for business owners. Imagine having that level of insight about your customers’ shopping behaviors. How to Sell Products on Facebook Now that we’ve gone over Facebook integration with WooCommerce, let’s move on to the most important question: How do you integrate Facebook with your WooCommerce store? Step 1: Install the Facebook Pixel for WooCommerce Many services offer a tracking pixel, but the most popular one is the Facebook pixel.  The Facebook pixel is very easy to install. Instead of copying and pasting lines of code, Facebook Business Manager generates a WordPress plugin embedded with your unique Facebook pixel. Connect to WooCommerce First, use this link to access your own Facebook Business Manager account. The link will take you to the page for connecting your Facebook account to WooCommerce. Then from the dashboard, click Connect Account either in the upper right-hand or bottom right-hand corner of the window (yes, it appears twice). Next, choose whether you want to set up Pixel & Website Events or a Catalog. You can set up one or both, then click Next. From there, you’ll be asked to select a Facebook pixel. An advertising account can only have one Facebook pixel, so if you’ve already created one, you’ll only have one option to select. Then click Continue. If you haven’t yet created a pixel for your Facebook business account, you’ll need to create it. Facebook provides its own tutorial, but the process is:  Go to Business Settings in your Facebook Business Manager account.  Select your business and click Data Sources.  Select “Pixels” and click the + Add button.  Name your pixel, provide the URL of the website where your tracking pixel will be used (optional), and click Create. Once you’ve selected your tracking pixel, you’ll see an option for advanced audience matching. By default, advanced audience matching is turned on, and we recommend leaving it that way. When you’re ready, click Continue. Next, Facebook will have you download the Facebook pixel extension which you’ll install on your WordPress site as a plugin called Facebook for WooCommerce. Facebook Business Manager even walks you through the process of installing the plugin. From your WordPress dashboard, click the Plugins tab in the sidebar. Click the Upload Plugin button, then click Choose File and navigate to the plugin you downloaded from Facebook Business Manager. Then click Install Now. When you return to Facebook Business Manager, it will verify that it is able to connect to the extension you installed on WordPress. If it doesn’t show as active, return to the Plugins tab in WordPress and confirm the plugin shows as activated. Once it shows as “Active” in Facebook Business Manager, click Continue. At that point, the process of installing the Facebook pixel on your WooCommerce site is complete. The next step in integrating Facebook with WooCommerce is to begin testing that the pixel is working. Step 2: Test Your Store The next step is to do some testing. This is important because if the tracking pixel isn’t tracking correctly, this integration process won’t work the way it should. After the final step to installing the Facebook pixel, click the Test Events in Events Manager button. You’ll be taken to a page in Facebook Business Manager that asks for the URL to your eCommerce store. Type your URL and click Open Window. This will take you to your eCommerce store. The idea is for you to interact with your store — e.g., navigate between pages, browse your product catalog, submit your contact info in a form, add products to your shopping cart — so Facebook Business Manager can make sure the pixel is tracking these interactions. Once you’ve tested your site, return to Facebook Business Manager to see whether the pixel is having any trouble tracking engagement. Any tracking events the pixel had trouble tracking will be indicated with an orange icon. If you click to expand the error, it’ll actually show you what you can do to fix it. Example: As you can see in the screenshot above, adding one of Secret Aardvark’s products to the shopping cart produces an error. According to the explanation for the error, this is happening because Secret Aardvark’s product catalog hasn’t yet been paired with the Facebook pixel (creating a product catalog was one of the two options available at the start of Step 1). So if you were the owner of Secret Aardvark, you could fix this error by pairing your Facebook pixel with your product catalog. Step 3: Create a Catalog By this point, you’ve installed the Facebook pixel and tested the pixel to make sure it’s working. The next step is to import your product catalog into Facebook by creating a catalog in Facebook Business Manager. In Facebook Business Manager, navigate to Settings > Catalogs, then click Create New Catalog. catalogs > configure, click the product data sources tab to begin adding products to your catalog.” width=”700″ height=”551″> Under the Product Data Sources tab, click the blue Add Products button. Since the Facebook tracking pixel is already installed, select the third option: “Connect Facebook Pixels.” Then click Next. Adding Metadata to Your Products As you add products to your catalog, Facebook Business Manager scans them for metadata. Metadata is hidden information associated with the products on your eCommerce store. Though it’s invisible to users and visitors to your store, Facebook Business Manager can scan the metadata to get descriptions, photos, categories, and other key details about your products. Then this metadata is used to populate your catalog automatically, saving you from having to input all those products manually. There are three main ways to add metadata to products on your eCommerce store. You can either use Open Graph, Schema.org, or a WordPress plugin.  Using either Open Graph and Schema.org requires adding your metadata to the header of your site or to every product page. If you’re not comfortable going that route, a WordPress plugin like Yoast can do much of the heavy lifting for you. But ultimately, any of these would work so choose the one that’s most comfortable for you. Organizing Your Catalog When your product metadata is in place, Facebook Business Manager will import products from your eCommerce store for you. From there, we recommend creating product sets to introduce some organization to your catalog. You’ll use product sets to control what products appear in your shop and when they appear, which make for better customer experience. From your product catalog, locate the + Create Product Set button and click it. In the Create Product Set window, give the set a name. Then you can start customizing rules for the product set. In the screenshot above, you can see that this “Sauces” product set collects all the hot sauces in Secret Aardvark’s catalog. To achieve this, Secret Aardvark selected “Product Type” >> “is any of these” >> “sauces” which encompasses 19 different products. Most importantly, Secret Aardvark can now create a Facebook Ads campaign specifically for hot sauces. Once you’re done customizing the rules, click Create to finalize your product set. Step 4: Set up Your Facebook/Instagram Shop Now you’re ready to set up a shop on Facebook and Instagram. In effect, this step is really what brings your eCommerce to your social media accounts. It’s worth noting, though, that only users in the U.S. can buy from your Facebook shop. Before you get started, there are a few things you’ll need: A Stripe account The federal tax ID number for your business The address for your business A bank account Since Facebook also owns Instagram, Facebook Business Manager gives you the ability to set up a shop on Facebook, Instagram, or both. We’ll be covering the process for setting up a Facebook shop although the process is largely the same for Instagram. The first step in creating your Facebook shop is to provide the basic information for your business, including the currency you use, a physical business address (which is necessary even if your retail store is eCommerce only), and a business email. Then click Next. From there, continue to follow the prompts and connect your bank and Stripe accounts to complete the process. Once you’re finished, your followers will be able to access your Facebook shop under the Shop tab of the Facebook page for your eCommerce business. Make Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting Part of Your Social eCommerce Strategy As eCommerce becomes the increasingly dominant part of retail, it’s going to be crucial for online retailers to have great, reliable WooCommerce stores. That’s where Liquid Web can help. Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting provides everything you need today, and tomorrow, to run a highly scalable eCommerce business. From powerful cart abandonment technology to proprietary performance testing to ensure that your eCommerce store is always up to the task, Liquid Web makes building and managing an online storefront a breeze. And with our growing library of useful guides and tutorials, you’ll be able to master dropshipping, customer data analysis techniques, loyalty programs, and much more. To learn more about Liquid Web Managed WooCommerce Hosting, visit our product page today. And if you already use Liquid Web as your hosting provider, make sure you bookmark the Liquid Web blog which publishes handy resources regularly. The post Getting the Most out of Facebook for WooCommerce appeared first on Liquid Web.

Women in Technology: Rhonda Capone

Liquid Web’s Head of Strategic Initiatives on being present at the start of brand new technology, her father’s lasting influence on her career, and the value of Servant Leadership. “A common thread in my career is I have been in the company of strong women throughout,” she says. “Each of them, in various roles, has shaped me as a leader.”   Rhonda Capone knows a thing or two about stepping out of her comfort zone and trying new things. Her journey in tech began in the early 1990s working for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association as a member of the Fraud and Roaming department. This was brand new technology and therefore brand new territory, and Rhonda Capone embraced the unknown, joining CTIA less than a decade after the first truly mobile telephone was launched.  Staffed by industry pioneers, the association worked with cellular manufacturers and license providers to build out coverage coast to coast in the United States. CTIA also worked alongside various regulatory agencies to determine how spectrum would be allocated and sold. They worked to determine how policies for different cellular companies would work together to provide a brand new service to consumers. Rhonda Capone is a reminder that the technology and services we now take for granted were built by individuals who believed in a vision, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work.  “It was such an exciting time. I was a part of an emerging market and had the opportunity to work with technical and business leaders. I was so green and eager to learn something new,” she says. “I will always be grateful to the early leaders of CTIA for giving me the opportunity to learn, grow, and set my path on this technology journey.” The lessons she learned early in her career have been essential to her success. “Being a leader doesn’t mean you have all the answers. A good leader knows when to ask for advice and help from their peers, within their team, and their management structure.”  Twenty-five years after helping to shepherd brand new technology to the American public, Rhonda Capone is putting to use her ability to collaborate and communicate, and her willingness to dive in and try new things as Liquid Web’s Head of Strategic Initiatives, leading the execution of the company’s key projects and programs. From the beginning of her career to her current role at Liquid Web, she has always looked for the ways in which she can contribute best to each team and each role.  The unique opportunity to work on an array of exciting projects through her career is not lost on her. She has played a role in the creation of standards that helped shape the early days of the cellular industry, training and education for industry personnel, infrastructure deployments, software development, and large platform conversions. “Looking back, what I am most proud of is my ability to find the best way to contribute with each and every role,” she says.  She credits her father with planting the early seeds of career success. “He taught me so much about the value of a strong work ethic. I learned from him to always approach a new situation with an open mind and to treat others with kindness and empathy. He also taught me that the best relationships are built on mutual trust— trust is earned, not just given and never bought. And he taught me to trust your gut and find humor in every day!” Fellow women in technology have also played an important role in her career. “A common thread in my career is I have been in the company of strong women throughout,” she says. “Each of them, in various roles, has shaped me as a leader.”   She has also been shaped by the concept of Servant Leadership. “This idea helped me to hone my skills and weave them into the way I build my teams and organizational functions. I’ve learned that the desire to serve others and a positive attitude can take you a long way.” As she takes on leadership roles in technology, she strives to look for ways to make a positive impact both within her team and within the company. To do this, she continues to leave her comfort zone and discover new ways to make a positive impact.  In a shining case of leading by example, her advice to women just starting out in technology is a few simple concepts that she has built her career around. Don’t be afraid. Raise your hand. Step into something new. The post Women in Technology: Rhonda Capone appeared first on Liquid Web.

Quick Guide to Best Practices for Data Backup

Your data is of paramount importance. No matter whether you store sensitive customer data for your eCommerce business, or you simply have oodles of cat videos, no one wants to wake up one morning and discover that their data is gone. Due to the nature of ever-evolving online attacks, it’s impossible to guarantee that your data will never be hacked or corrupted. The only way to fully protect yourself is to regularly backup your data so you can fully recover in the event of a disaster.  Follow these six best practices from The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting® when choosing your ideal backup solution. These pointers will ensure that your data will be safe and fully recoverable. 1. Use Remote Storage A critical factor in your backup solution is remote backups. Backing up your data and storing it on the same disk as your original data can be an exercise in futility. Off-site, or at least off-server, backups will remain viable even if your central server is compromised, allowing you to recover your data entirely. Whether on a physical Dedicated or Cloud-Based server, off-site backups are crucial for real disaster recovery. Get weekly tips and tricks for securing your infrastructure sent straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. 2. Take Backups Frequently and Regularly Prevent the loss of your critical data by ensuring backups are taken frequently and on a regular schedule. On Fully Managed Servers, your control panel gives you the flexibility to have account-level backups on your schedule. Determining how often your data is updated can help you create a timeline of how regularly your data gets backed up. Critical data that is continuously updated will need a more frequent backup schedule. A continuous backup solution would work well in this case. Whereas more static data may only need daily/nightly or even weekly backups. Then, make sure your backup solution matches your business needs. 3. Consider Retention Span After determining the frequency, it’s also vital to consider how long you will retain each backup. Keeping every backup forever isn’t feasible due to a limited amount of space for storage. Most backup solutions offer a series of retention schedules, such as keeping hourly and daily backups for a week, weekly backups for a month, and monthly backups for a few months or even years. This type of schedule allows for having multiple, recent backups in the instance recovery is needed. Good business backup practices include retaining specific backups, such as monthly or bi-annual, for as long as possible, if not forever. Also, we recommend researching your industry’s data retention standards and requirements. HIPAA Compliant solutions or those for financial institutions will have strict requirements for backup retention. 4. Keep Backups Encrypted & Protected There are instances where it’s not enough to back up your data in an off-site location. Aside from the security of the facility holding your backups, encrypting the files is an added step in data security. Backup encryption during storage ensures that your data will be what you expect in the event you need to recover it. 5. Store Backups on RAID Arrays For a bit of extra redundancy, you should store your backups on RAID arrays. Distributing your data across two or more drives in a RAID array allows for better performance, reliability, and more extensive data sets in your backup solution. RAIDs can also help ensure your stored data gets protected from the failure of a single drive.  Redundancy, also known as high availability infrastructure, is the best way to decrease your risk of going offline and/or losing data during a disaster. 6. Stack Your Backup Solutions Because backup solutions will differ in how they treat your data, it’s best to use multiple solutions. For example, Liquid Web’s Dedicated backup solution takes backups of your entire server and stores it in a secure and remote location. Alternatively, cPanel backups only take copies of your cPanel account and can be stored either locally or remotely. Local reserves via cPanel are available for every user. cPanel backups can be especially useful for those users who have multiple accounts on one server but only need to restore one account. Due to the different benefits of both solutions, we recommend backing up both full images of your server in addition to smaller snapshots of your cPanel accounts. Stacking your backup solutions in this manner will ensure your data will be recovered as quickly and efficiently as possible, no matter what kind of disaster hits Need a Backup Solution? There are many backup options to choose from depending on your server type and business needs, but these six best practices should help you choose the best solution for you, whether it be remote or cloud backup solutions. The post Quick Guide to Best Practices for Data Backup appeared first on Liquid Web.

How To Get The Best Headshots And Professional Photos For Your Website

As more professionals leave corporate America, opting for self-employment, freelance life, and entrepreneurship, micro business and personal brand sites are popping up left and right. While we at Liquid Web champion small business owners, we also cringe when faced with sites that have poor imagery. The quality of photos, images, and graphics on a website can either elevate a personal brand and emphasize professionalism or drag it down and make it look like amateur hour. Headshots are the most important photos on a personal brand website. Unfortunately, most small business owners don’t realize their photos are all wrong until it’s too late—until a website designer tells them their photos won’t work in the design or the design they want won’t work with the photos provided. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to receive tips on how to keep your site looking professional. Here’s the problem: In most cases, business owners hire a photographer and lets them drive the photoshoot. The photographer takes several professional headshots, crops them perfectly, and delivers a set of images that are fantastic yet limiting. While these professional headshots may work well as a social media avatar or a singular photo on a website about page, they don’t provide the flexibility needed for today’s modern personal brand sites. Five Tips To Get The Best Professional Headshots For Your Personal Brand Site Luckily, we’re sharing five things small business owners need to know before investing in professional headshots for their website. 1. Closeup And Far Away Ask your photographer for both closeup headshots and far away images.  You’ll use the closeup headshots for your social media avatars, gravatar, about page, and media features.You’ll use far away photos—photos that have context—for things like website hero images, blog images, and marketing materials. 2. All Body Parts (And Hair) Intact Ask any designer and they can tell you stories of recreating hair that was cropped out and adding missing arms to cropped closeup images to make a photo work with the website design the client wanted. Do yourself a favor and make sure some of the photos you receive from your photographer include your entire torso without any arms, shoulders, or hair cropped out. This will give your website designer more flexibility when creating your website. 3. Horizontal And Vertical Photos Ask the photographer to take both horizontal and vertical images—and when selecting the final images, be sure to select photos in both orientations. There are going to be times when podcast hosts, event organizers, and other people need a photo of you and they are going to ask for it in a square or landscape format. If you only have vertical photos, you’ll be that one person with the super zoomed-in, big face photo! Don’t be that person. 4. Photos Facing Right And Left Just as you need both horizontal and vertical headshots, you also need photos of you facing both right and left. While designers can “flip” an image to make sure you’re facing in the right direction, most people aren’t symmetrical and the flipped image won’t quite look right. When laying out content, photos of people should look at or be turned toward the most important content and having both right and left-facing photos available to your designer will improve the quality of the final product. 5. Photos Of You In Action Take a look at the websites for some of the people you know with big, successful personal brands. If you click through their website, you’ll notice that they have a mix of photo styles. They use headshots and poses photos along with a variety of photos of them in action. When working with a photographer, talk to them about getting lifestyle photos and action photos as well as professional headshots—get photos of you working, interacting with people, and getting things done. The post How To Get The Best Headshots And Professional Photos For Your Website appeared first on Liquid Web.

Hardware Firewalls: An Overview of Benefits and How They Keep You Secure

Security is a subject that gets more and more attention every day, and rightly so! Between our ever-growing reliance on storing our data and the disclosing of major breaches by big names across the world, there are fewer terms that hold the same weight. At Liquid Web, we take this subject incredibly seriously, and offer several products to make sure we meet your security needs. Today we’ll discuss one such product whose primary function is simply keeping things secure: Hardware Firewalls. What is a Hardware Firewall? A Hardware Firewall is a physical device similar to a server that filters traffic to a computer. Instead of plugging the network cable into the server, it is connected to the firewall, positioning the firewall between the uplink and the computer. Like a standard computer with a processor, memory, and sophisticated software, these devices also employ powerful networking components (hardware and software) and force all traffic traversing that connection to be inspected by configurable rulesets which grant or deny access accordingly. Everyone who has ever used a computer can probably tell you a story about being blocked in a firewall somewhere. As good Internet citizens, we encounter firewalls all the time, usually in the form of a software firewall running on a personal laptop or workstation. Their function is surprisingly modest. They inspect traffic as it enters and leaves the computer and, based on some simple rules, either allow or deny that traffic. Some common examples of software firewalls you may be familiar with are: WindowsFirewall UFW IPTables FirewallD A Hardware Firewall is the same except it lives outside of the server. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more tips for securing your infrastructure sent straight to your inbox. How Do Hardware Firewalls Work? The hardware firewall is setup differently depending on your current configuration. The firewall is situated outside your server and is connected directly to your uplink. If this is a new setup, the Firewall is then connected to your server. If this will be a new setup to a production server, a maintenance window would be scheduled to handle the physical connection. Once the connection to the server is established, all traffic to and from the server goes through the firewall, forcing it to pass inspection. This allows you to have granular control over the type of traffic you’re receiving, which is incredibly important. Five Key Benefits Hardware Firewalls Provide 1. Traffic Control The ability to decide which traffic should and shouldn’t reach your server. 2. Default Rules A fully configurable list of default rules which can be applied to all traffic. 3. Port Access Granular control to tailor rules with options like allowing all traffic to your website or ensuring only you and your developer can access SSH ports or RDP. 4. Managed Equals Control On The Fly Access to a fully staffed networking team to configure, troubleshoot, or adjust controls on the fly. 5. Additional Server Resources Access to additional server resources that would otherwise be utilized. You can even disable the software firewalls from your server and rely completely on the Hardware Firewall, freeing up valuable memory and processor for the functions and services that your business needs to continue being successful. Is There Anything Else Hardware Firewalls Can Do? Of course! Along with the powerful inspection functions we already discussed, one of the other major benefits is the ability to run a VPN connection. This connection, which is also a fully managed offering, allows a whole new level of security, access, and encryption to your already secured cluster. With a managed VPN connection, you can have the security and control to grant access to the people who need secure access anywhere there’s a stable Internet connection. Are you working from home? No problem! Are you traveling? Easy! Access is at your fingertips from any location with Internet. It’s the mobility you need to stay flexible in a changing environment. Learn more about exactly what a VPN (or a VPN tunnel) is at our Knowledge Base. What if I Have More than One Server? No problem. Liquid Web is a proud Cisco shop and stocks several versions of their hardware firewall devices. These devices are also powerful enough to handle traffic from multiple servers. Further, if at some point you outgrow one, because of our multiple model offerings, we can work with you to plan out an upgrade to the hardware so your security can be scaled along with your business. We also employ a full staff of dedicated networking professionals 24/7/365 who can manage and maintain your fully managed networking infrastructure with no issues. This service includes setup, configuration, and even upkeep in the case of potential exploits that are announced to the world. Our teams are only an email or phone call away, which leaves you with peace of mind and valuable time you can use to focus on the things that matter most.  The post Hardware Firewalls: An Overview of Benefits and How They Keep You Secure appeared first on Liquid Web.

Which Programming Language Should I Use in 2019 for my WordPress Sites?

May 27, 2003: this date marked the initial release of WordPress as it was made publicly available. Sixteen years later, WordPress is still growing in popularity and depending on the source, 34 percent or more of all websites on the internet use WordPress. Like with anything else, age and increased popularity bring the need to adapt to stay current. Agencies and developers are getting smarter in what to use for specific scenarios and needs. WordPress still serves its classic use-cases well, as a blogging platform or a Content Management System (CMS), but there are some new trends to pay attention to. Let’s take a look at these WordPress trends to get a glimpse into which WordPress programming language you should use to extend your latest WordPress sites: Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more insight into upcoming WordPress trends. WordPress Programming Language #1: JavaScript One of the more interesting ways WordPress is being used is as a headless content management system (Headless CMS) using the WordPress REST API introduced a few years ago. This can be done using JavaScript, APIs, and Markup architecture (a.k.a. “JAMstack”) or server-side using a specific JavaScript framework like React.js or Vue.js. The site reads content from the WP REST API, then uses a framework such as Next.js or Nuxt.js to render it. For less-frequently updated sites, Gatsby.js is also a popular solution for serving a statically-generated site. Going headless bypasses the need for traditional WordPress themes and allows developers to utilize WordPress for content management while keeping the look and feel of the website controlled by a favored framework. Even if you still need plugins for specific parts of your site, the functionality is still there to be utilized, while clients are able to manage their content in the familiar WordPress interface. Gutenberg Since the release of WordPress version 5.0, WordPress has shipped an alternative editor as a plugin by the name of “Gutenberg”. If you still aren’t convinced about going headless, I can confidently suggest JavaScript for this editor alone. Gutenberg Blocks are built using the React JavaScript library. While it is still in its infancy, you can expand and modify what Gutenberg offers you right now. Understanding the core of JavaScript goes a long way in picking up React.js or any JavaScript framework. While you can still use the “Classic Editor” until (at least) December 31, 2021, using the Classic Editor plugin, it would be a great idea to start learning Gutenberg now if you plan to use WordPress in the future. Here are some reliable sources to help you begin your JavaScript journey: https://www.codecademy.com/catalog/language/jav\ascripthttps://guide.freecodecamp.org/javascripthttps://www.liquidweb.com/blog/wordpress-gutenberg/https://www.liquidweb.com/blog/real-world-guide-using-gutenberg/ WordPress Programming Language #2: PHP If you are fine with how WordPress is currently working for you and are not ready to use WordPress outside of its classic setup, that is fine as well! With that in mind, if you have not learned PHP already then it is essential to learn now in order to develop anything inside the WordPress ecosystem since all of it is written in PHP and JavaScript. PHP frameworks like Laravel can also be used to make a decoupled WordPress site. This would collect and send data from the same REST API that JavaScript would use. Since PHP is run on the server and JavaScript is generally in the browser, you can use both for some really great results. Take the time to learn PHP standards that apply to PHP versions 7.1 and beyond. The reasoning for this is PHP5.x up to 7.0 is already end of life. Learning older standards would only apply if you were to work in a legacy environment. You can still utilize older versions of PHP on Liquid Web Servers with cPanel, Managed WordPress, and Managed WooCommerce servers for the time being. Do understand that learning a PHP framework is quite a bit more complex than learning to make a theme for WordPress, for instance. Learning programming principles will go a long way towards understanding concepts outside of the WordPress ecosystem. Here are some reliable sources to help you begin learning PHP: https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-phphttps://www.w3schools.com/php/ Final Thoughts Designing sites using WordPress is certainly a useful skill to have. Learning PHP, JavaScript and how to develop a WordPress site may also lead to more job opportunities. JavaScript is in the top three sought-after skills in 2019, so taking time out of your life to learn these skills can be extremely valuable. Keep in mind that it is always good to stay ahead of the curve with new technologies around WordPress. If you already have a workflow that allows you to produce quality work for a large number of clients then that is great. You likely do not need to change much. If you wish you could provide a bit more to your clients or feel like you have grown stagnant, changing things up by learning a new framework or a new language might be something to consider. Managed WordPress Can Help Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting takes care of image compression, automatic updates for plugins and the platform, automatic daily backups, automatic SSL, and staging environments. It also includes access to developer tools, which leaves you with more time to learn a new programming language. The post Which Programming Language Should I Use in 2019 for my WordPress Sites? appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Understand and Set Up Multi-Channel Attribution and Reporting

Most online retailers and eCommerce businesses rely on numerous sales channels to drive conversion and revenue. This is called a multi-channel attribution marketing strategy. But, there’s a problem. How do you make use of all the conversion data that those channels generate? Do you have to manage the data separately on every channel, or is there a way to bring it all together in one comprehensive reporting tool? If you’re asking yourself these very questions, there’s a good chance that multi-channel attribution modeling and reporting is your answer. So we’ve put together everything you need to know about multi-channel attribution and Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reporting. What is Multi-Channel Attribution? Multi-channel attribution is a term related to analytics. In theory, it refers to the rules that a business owner has in place to gauge the performance of (or the sales generated by) every different marketing channel.  In practice, multi-channel attribution involves assigning a value — often dollar amounts — to every sales channel and customer touchpoint that occurs throughout the buyer’s journey. As you follow revenue back through your conversion paths, you can see which channels are contributing to the most conversions. You can also track these conversions with multi-channel attribution. In this context, conversion is considered any action or consumer behavior that’s deemed “valuable” and moves the consumer further into your conversion funnel. For instance, you can assign a conversion value to emails acquired from potential customers who requested a PDF download. Ultimately, the purpose of multi-channel attribution is to determine which of your channels and touchpoints have the greatest effect on consumer behavior, conversion, and revenue. It’s a way to read massive amounts of data and find out what returns you’re getting on your marketing investments. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more help with analytics and tracking your marketing campaigns. Understanding Multi-Channel Funnels Google Analytics takes a lot of the work out of multi-channel funnel reporting. Once you have Analytics installed on your eCommerce store, the platform collects data to show you the role that your sales channels play in converting leads into customers. Let’s take a look at how multi-channel funnels are represented in Google Analytics with these terms to know. Acquisition Channels In Google Analytics, acquisition channels are labels used to group or categorize your sales channels and customer touchpoints. As you use multi-channel funnel reporting, you’ll see a number of acquisition channels referenced throughout the different reporting menus, including the following: Paid Search, Organic Search, Direct, Social Media, Email, and Affiliate. Assisted Conversion An assisted conversion is when a channel or touchpoint moves a customer further into your conversion funnel. In Google Analytics, assisted conversion reflects how the points of engagement that occur along a prospective customer’s buying journey contribute to conversion. All but the final interaction in a conversion path are considered assisted interactions. Conversion Path A conversion path is a sequence of channels and touchpoints that reflects a prospective customer’s buying journey. Typically, there’s a first interaction, assist interactions, and a final interaction which is the last touchpoint before conversion. Custom Channel Groupings Google Analytics separates sales channels and customer touchpoints into groups. The default channel groupings fall in line with the standard acquisition channels which include Paid Search, Organic Search, Direct, Social Media, and Email, and Affiliate.  However, you have the option to create custom channel groupings of your own. Therefore, custom channel groupings are when you add to or replace the default channel groupings in Google Analytics. Multi-Channel Funnel Reporting With Google Analytics Google Analytics provides several useful reporting options for your multi-channel funnel. These reporting options take the data you’ve collected and turns it into a visual so you can see clear insights into your conversions. When it comes to Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reporting, there are five options to know. To access each of these different reporting options in Google Analytics, navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels. Overview Overview provides a snapshot of your conversion data. With Overview, you’ll get a representation of how your sales channels and customer touchpoints work together to convert leads. One of the main elements is a line graph that shows your conversions over time. By default, you’ll see your conversions over the past 30 days. Additionally, you can compare your conversions to other conversion-related metrics. Overview reporting is also where you’ll find the Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer, a Venn diagram-esque representation of how your sales channels interact and overlap. By toggling channel groupings on and off, you can hone in on the data you need. Assisted Conversions In Google Analytics, an assisted conversion refers to when a channel or touchpoint aids in the conversion process. All touchpoints in the conversion path, other than the final touchpoint, are considered assists. The Assisted Conversions feature offers performance data for your channels, showing how often they are converting. From there, you can get quite specific with the reporting. For example, you can see which specific landing pages and URLs are assisting in the most conversions by selecting the appropriate primary dimension under the “Other” tab. Under the Assisted Conversions menu, channels and touchpoints are broken down according to whether they initiated, assisted, or completed a conversion. This is useful for determining where your channels and touchpoints tend to fall in your conversion paths. Top Conversion Paths The purpose of Top Conversion Paths reporting is to show you which conversion path(s) convert customers with greater frequency.  Each line item on the list is a unique conversion path, consisting of one or more channel groupings. So if, for instance, the top conversion path shows as Organic Search, Social Media, Direct Search, then you can deduce that the most conversions are coming from an interaction that looks something like this:  Someone discovers your business in a non-branded Google searchThey follow your business on social mediaThey eventually visit your eCommerce store through a direct Google searchThey make a purchase Time Lag Time Lag reporting tells you how much time the conversion process takes for your customers. In other words, the length of time that spans between the point of first contact with a lead and when the purchase is made. This tells you how long it takes for your customers to convert. If the conversion is quick, then the channel or conversion that preceded the purchase has much more value than if conversion takes many days. Path Length Path Length reporting shows how many interactions (with your channels and touchpoints) it takes to convert leads into customers. When conversion requires just one interaction, then the channel or touchpoint that converted the customer is extremely effective at converting and has immense value. Conversely, when numerous touchpoints are necessary to convert, then individual interactions have less value. How to Set Up Multi-Channel Attribution Basic multi-channel reporting is built seamlessly into Google Analytics. However, if you’re looking for more advanced reporting, you may need to do some additional setup. Follow these steps to ensure that all your data is included and organized appropriately in the Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reports. Link Your Pay-per-Click Campaigns By default, pay-per-click campaigns don’t show up in Google Analytics. For pay-per-click campaigns to be reflected in Analytics, you need to link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account. Once the two accounts are connected, Google Ads campaigns will be counted under the Paid Search channel grouping. The process is rather simple.  Log into Analytics and open the Admin panel, then navigate to the property you want to link the AdWords account to. In that property’s column, click Google Ads Linking, then click New Link Group.From there, select the Google Ads account you want to link and follow the prompts to complete the linking process. Create Custom Channel Groupings Google Analytics has default channel groupings, referred to as “MCF Channel Grouping.” The default channels are: DisplayPaid SearchOtherOrganic SearchSocial NetworkReferralEmailDirect For many business owners, these default channel groupings are sufficient. However, custom channel groupings might be necessary for certain situations. A prime use case for custom channel groupings is separating branded from non-branded keywords.  This addresses an increasingly common way that people use search engines, which is to use a business name as the search query. For this reason, separating branded from non-branded keywords minimizes the amount of direct traffic that could be mistakenly categorized as Organic Search. The option to create custom channel groupings is available in most Multi-Channel Funnels reporting menus. When available, the option appears as a dropdown box.  Select the Create a Custom Channel Grouping option. This will bring up a window where you can customize the names of the channel groupings as well as how they’re defined. When finished, click Save. Then your custom groupings will show in your conversion reports. Manage Your Data Points It’s important to track the right data in Analytics. When you’re tracking the right data points, you can make extremely useful and insightful inferences from multi-channel funnel reporting. However, when you’re tracking the wrong data points, the picture you’re getting from the conversion reports won’t be accurate. If you’re basing your decisions on inaccurate data, it can create a host of other problems. For example, while it’s useful to track visits to your store’s website as points on a conversion path, you shouldn’t qualify a visit to your store’s website as an actual conversion.  In other words, users who visit your store online shouldn’t be considered “converted” under most circumstances. Similarly, visits to a specific product page probably shouldn’t count as conversions either.  The data points you track should depend on the goals you set for your business, whether it’s converting prospects into leads, converting leads into customers, or some other goal. Segment Your Data In Google Analytics, segmentation is how you isolate and analyze specific data points related to your conversion. There are a number of situations where you might need to create a conversion segment. For example, you could filter instances where the first interaction in a conversion path was with a paid advertising campaign. With conversion segmenting, you can hone in on the most pertinent or relevant data that wouldn’t otherwise be visible in the default reporting options. Segmenting your conversion data can be done with the Conversion Segment builder in Google Analytics that is accessible from any of the Multi-Channel Funnels reporting menus.  At the top of the page, click on Conversion Segments, then click Create New Conversion Segment. After naming the new conversion segment, use the conversion segment builder to customize which conversion paths you want to be included in your segment. This is achieved by defining the conditions of your desired conversion path.  For example, if you wanted to create a segment that shows instances when a specific website served as the first interaction in a conversion path, then the conditions would look like this: [Include] [First Interaction] from [Source] [Containing] WebsiteURL.com. Once you’ve completed these basic setup steps, you’ll be able to track your multi-channel attribution using the reporting options in Google Analytics. Make Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting the Foundation of Your Conversion Funnel A multi-channel marketing strategy can only be as strong as the eCommerce store where your leads will shop. If your store relies on a low-quality hosting provider, then all your efforts to implement multi-channel attribution will be for naught. Fortunately, there’s Liquid Web, your premier hosting provider for eCommerce. With Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting, you’ll have everything you need to run (and grow) a successful eCommerce site. In fact, we have created more than 20 different performance tests to ensure that your site can handle any amount of traffic coming from all your sales channels. Best of all, Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting is available in tiered plans, so there’s Liquid Web WooCommerce hosting for virtually any budget. To learn more about our Liquid Web Managed WooCommerce Hosting, visit our product page today. The post How to Understand and Set Up Multi-Channel Attribution and Reporting appeared first on Liquid Web.

Data Security: HIPAA vs PCI

Struggling with understanding HIPAA vs PCI Compliance? Want to make sure that your business is compliant? When dealing with sensitive information security is paramount. That is why HIPAA and PCI regulations are required in hosting. The aim of this article is to provide insight into these topics, and hopefully, make it easier for you to do your part in protecting patient’s and/or customer’s data. Let’s start with an overview to see how the two connect. What HIPAA Compliant Hosting and Why is it Important? HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Although the act also offers additional protections regarding insurance and other issues, the focus of this article is in relation to the privacy and security of data. HIPAA compliant hosting is, therefore, hosting that utilizes additional security measures for Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI). It’s important to protect patient’s medical data not only because most people don’t want their medical data publicly available, but also to avoid heavy fines. HIPAA violations cost your practice. Federal fines for noncompliance can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per record) depending on the level of perceived negligence within your organization at the time of the HIPAA violation, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year for each violation. So, if you can’t do it for the patients, do it for yourself.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to receive more tips straight to your inbox on hosting compliance for your business. What is PCI Compliant Hosting and Why is it Important? PCI compliant hosting refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and is often shortened to PCI Compliance. PCI compliance refers to a set of standards designed to keep credit card information that is accepted, processed, stored, or transmitted securely at all times. It started in 2006 with a Council founded by American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa Inc., who share equally in governance and execution of the work. Before this time, each credit card network had its own standard, making compliancy difficult for users. When the major Credit Card companies standardized rules to ensure data security, it greatly simplified securing Credit Card data, because it allowed businesses to track a single standard. PCI compliance is important not only for the ease of doing business, but it is also important to protect the customers’ data.  There is a high price to pay for noncompliance, with fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month for the merchant and are at the discretion of the card brands and acquiring banks.  According to a Ponemon Institute study, the average total consolidated cost of a data breach is $3.8 million. Each lost or stolen record costing an average $174, so even having 500 compromised payment records can cost the merchant over $75,000 in liability.  So, if you can’t do it for your customers, do it for yourself. Now that we have a better understanding of what HIPAA compliance and PCI compliance are, let’s look into what is needed for each. What’s Required for HIPAA Compliance? HIPAA compliance is an ongoing process, so after you obtain HIPAA compliance you also need to maintain compliance. Liquid Web is responsible for hardware and network security, while the customer is responsible for making sure that their application is secure and maintained. Customers must hire a third-party HIPAA compliance auditor who will work closely with them since they are trying to become HIPAA compliant. Liquid Web can also sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) that outlines our responsibilities and ensures that your hosting environment is HIPAA compliant. For us to guarantee that your hosting environment is HIPAA compliant, we provide you with a traditional dedicated server, locked cabinets, a hardware firewall, and also offer encrypted offsite data backups. What is Required for PCI Compliant Hosting? PCI compliance is also an ongoing process that also requires maintenance. Below are 12 steps to PCI compliance: Objective: Build and Maintain a Secure Network 1. Configure, install, and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder data 2. Make sure to change system passwords and other security  Objective: Protect Cardholder Data 3. Safeguard cardholder data that is stored 4. Maintain encryption of cardholder data across open, public networks during transmission Objective: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program 5. Regularly update and use anti-virus software on all systems commonly affected by malware 6. Maintain and develop systems and applications that are secure Objective: Implement Robust Access Control Measures 7. Classify respective business groups for access to cardholder data 8. For each person with computer access, assign a unique ID 9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data Objective: Regularly Monitor and Test Networks 10. Monitor and track all access to cardholder data and network resources 11. Test security systems and processes regularly Objective: Maintain an Information Security Policy 12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security While Liquid Web does not offer full PCI compliance certification, we do offer a separate service that scans your server to see that PCI-DSS requirements are met. This is a great tool during the compliance process. Our PCI scanning is updated with the latest threat intelligence and certified annually to meet all the PCI Security Standards Council requirements. If vulnerabilities are identified you are presented with details about the vulnerabilities and remediation steps that can be used to address them. We also check for false positives and rescan if needed. Comparing HIPAA vs PCI Compliance Both require additional security measures to be taken on the customer’s side as well as by Liquid Web. HIPAA compliance tends to be broader and requires physical barriers to be in place for security measures, such as attestation of physical, on-site security. PCI compliance is more technical and requires scanning on various public ports. How Can Liquid Web Help? Liquid Web can help your business achieve is HIPAA compliance by signing a BAA, and fully managing your HIPAA servers. We also maintain internal policy enforcement and documentation of our administration of your HIPAA servers. You can choose from pre-configured solutions, or we can custom build one to suit your needs. We also offer PCI compliance scanning, and everything is backed by Support from The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. The post Data Security: HIPAA vs PCI appeared first on Liquid Web.

4 Ways To Close The Sale With A Hesitant Client Who Has Been Burned Before

Client horror stories. If you’ve been freelancing or part of an agency for any length of time, there’s a high probability that you’ve spoken with a prospective client who regaled you with a horror story about their past web designer or web developer. Sometimes, it even seems like every new potential client you speak with has been burned in some way or has had a less than stellar experience with a previous service provider that has left them jaded, nervous, and hesitant. While it’s true that their previous experiences have nothing to do with you and that you should never discount your fees just because someone else failed to deliver, it’s also true that having empathy for the prospective client and working with them to alleviate their fears can help you close the sale. Once a client has been burned and lost money or felt like they were mistreated by a designer or developer, they often become skeptical about every other designer or developer they speak with—even if they came with a glowing referral from someone they trust. This skepticism creates a whole new dynamic in the sales process because what normally works to close a new client isn’t going to work in this situation. There are four simple things you can do to move a client from unsure and hesitant to confident and excited to get started—and they all revolve around lowering the commitment level and making it easier to say yes. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more insight into how to increase your client base. Here are the four ways to close a hesitant client: 1. A Single Block Of Hours Instead of going for a retainer agreement at a high price point or a high number of hours right away, consider pitching a single block of hours. When I notice that a client is unsure about a big commitment, offering them the chance to invest in a single block of hours to test the waters eliminates risk.  Identify something important to the prospective client that needs to be done and the number of hours it will take (ideally in the 10-30 hour range).Pitch a block of hours at a set fee and what you can get done for them in those hours.When the hours are used up and the project is complete, the client can choose to continue or move on. With this approach, the client has very little risk, the commitment is low, and they don’t have to spend a lot of money, and they get to sample the partnership and see what it’s like working with you or your team. 2. A Month to Month Retainer If a client is coming to you after investing tens of thousands of dollars on a website that’s basically a mess, they may not be ready to jump into a long-term contract. Instead, consider pitching a month to month retainer package. With this approach, you’re not asking the client for a huge commitment at a high price point and you’re not locking them into a relationship with someone they don’t know very well yet.  By inviting nervous prospective clients to get started with a month to month retainer that can be canceled at any time with 30 days notice, you’re putting the client in control and you’re giving them an easy out if they need it. This greatly reduces objections and risk and sets the clients mind at ease. 3. A Trial Period If you can tell that a prospective client wants to say yes and work with you, but they’re holding back out of fear or uncertainty, consider offering them a trial period. While a trial period is similar to an introductory block of hours, it typically lasts longer and is used to mitigate a different type of risk. When a client isn’t sure about the number of hours they need and they’re worried about overspending, a trial period is the perfect answer.  During a 90 day trial period, each project or task the client needs to be completed is estimated upfront and approved before the work is done and all work, communication, and project management are meticulously tracked.At the end of the trial period, data like the amount of work completed, amount of money spent, and the number of hours spent on project management, actual work, and admin tasks is reviewed, along with what tasks didn’t get done.Then a report is provided to the client of how many hours they used each month, how much they spent, and what got done. This report can then be used as a guide to creating a longer-term retainer agreement. 4. A Technical Assessment If a client is reaching out to you after having a major negative event with their website—a crash, a hack, a loss of sales or money, or another problem—it’s highly likely that they need some immediate help and need to focus on the problems at hand before thinking about any kind of commitment. Instead of turning them away because you require a retainer agreement or ongoing support agreement, consider pitching them a technical assessment. With this approach, you get paid for your time to address the immediate website problems, the client gets their website fixed, and you both get to see what it is like working with each other. A technical assessment is similar to a single block of hours or an introductory project, but it focused on solving a specific problem. It begins with a comprehensive review of the website’s backend and technical foundation to identify where the problems are and what is causing the problems.A report is then provided to the client that outlines and prioritizes the work that needs to be done to bring the website back to good working order. At this point, the client can then choose to hire you to complete the work outlined in your report or they can take the report you created for them and do it themselves or hire someone else. Empathy Creates More Opportunity What you need to remember is that your clients don’t build websites for a living. They don’t work on websites every day. They don’t live, eat, sleep, and breathe the internet as you might. And, they certainly don’t have your expertise.  Clients have to rely on professionals like you to build, manage, and expand their websites. Often it feels like they’re throwing their money into a black hole they don’t understand, and when they have a bad experience, it just makes things worse—and they become skeptical, nervous, hesitant, and even fearful. When they finally reach out to you, you have a chance to step in, step up, and bring them back to a place of positivity. You have the opportunity to provide peace of mind and reassurance, show empathy for their situation, guide them with care, and demonstrate what partnering with a great service provider is like. If you can do that, you will have not only earned a client for life, but they will become a valuable brand ambassador and evangelist who will refer you to everyone they know. The post 4 Ways To Close The Sale With A Hesitant Client Who Has Been Burned Before appeared first on Liquid Web.

Which is Better For My Business, Dedicated Server Hosting or Cloud Hosting?

Choosing between a dedicated server or a cloud hosting solution is an important decision for your company. In the past, it was common for businesses to start off on a shared Linux server when first learning about web hosting and then upgrade to a dedicated server to support increased web traffic as the website scaled in growth. Today, the new paradigm of cloud hosting means that businesses don’t necessarily need to follow this traditional path and can start building a website on a managed cloud plan with pre-integrated platform support for Varnish Cache, Memcached, Nginx, CDNs, etc. that previously would have taken many hours in developer time to build on a custom dedicated server independently.   Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get insight into cloud technologies sent to your inbox. Cloud hosting plans offer scalable server resource allocation based on hardware virtualization, whereas dedicated server plans include a fixed allocation of isolated RAM, CPU, & SSD/HDD storage that can provide better performance and increased security for online business applications. Elastic cloud solutions can scale to provide higher levels of web traffic support than a single dedicated server can provide and are increasingly becoming an essential aspect of keeping the most popular websites & mobile apps hosted online. Private Cloud powered by VMware and NetApp delivers all the benefits of a traditional public cloud with the power, performance, and security of an isolated infrastructure on dedicated hardware. About Cloud Hosting  Many of the new retail cloud web hosting plans available for small business website publishing support are based in web server network management software improvements derived from “big data” in enterprise corporations where the scalability requirements of the largest websites in the world are the responsibility of DevOps teams in IT companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM as well as hosting companies like Liquid Web, Rackspace, and Amazon.  It is important to understand the difference between public, private, hybrid, and managed cloud hosting frameworks, as well as how these services relate to the specific web hosting needs of small businesses, SMEs, start-up software companies, & enterprise corporations (such as multi-nationals or Fortune 500 brands) uniquely, with particular cost-saving solutions targeted to each market sector. Business website owners also need to understand the differences between Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) plans. The main advantage of a cloud hosting product is for a small business to take advantage of an enterprise-grade SaaS/PaaS solution at a fraction of the cost of developing the software independently. Cloud hosting plans include managed platform security which, along with elastic scalability, mainly distinguishes them from dedicated server solutions with isolated hardware and customized web server software stack environments. Many cloud VPS plans use a “pay as you go” approach rather than fixed rates for billing which allows them to scale to provide more CPU cores, RAM, or I/O processes on demand for web traffic spikes that can overwhelm shared hosting plans. Elastic cloud platforms manage multiple virtual servers and databases simultaneously, synchronizing changes across versions and caching web pages for anonymous browsers. Whether you’re developing in PHP or .NET, Linux or Windows, or hosting WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, Cloud Sites lets you quickly launch and manage your sites effortlessly. Cloud or Dedicated – What Should I Choose? For most small business web hosting requirements, cloud hosting solutions offer web server resource scalability options that compete at the same price levels as dedicated server hardware for high traffic websites. Many cloud platforms use a single web server stack software that will not support the custom software requirements of legacy web applications or databases, making dedicated server plans a necessity. In most cases, cloud hosting plans offer a “plug & play” PaaS option that small business owners can transfer existing websites to for better web server performance at scale with integrated page caching. Dedicated servers provide base hardware resources that developers can custom install with the programming language extensions, tools, utilities, and third-party frameworks required to program complex, database-driven web and mobile applications. Over-provisioning dedicated server hardware for web and mobile applications can lead to better performance vs. shared hosting platforms based on virtualization with thousands of domain names active on a single server instance. Advantages of Cloud Hosting  Although there are a wide variety of cloud hosting plans, platforms, and services, each unique to the company and programming team developing them for market, the main advantages of these plans are that they provide pre-installed elastic web server support with custom stack software optimized for CMS websites running on LAMP. CMS site owners receive better overall performance on cloud hosting through a combination of premium hardware configurations, SSD storage options, load balancing on network traffic, and multi-layered database, PHP process, & web file caching services, including CDN integration. Cloud hosting allocates more RAM, CPU cores, & I/O processes to CMS websites than shared hosting plans while allowing each site to scale to consume more resources on-demand, according to the web traffic requirements in live production. This ensures that websites remain “always on” under any web traffic conditions and that web pages will load faster under normal conditions of community use. Disadvantages of Cloud Hosting The disadvantages of retail cloud hosting under the PaaS model compared to a dedicated server plan is that systems administrators or web developers may not have the full flexibility required to modify the webserver stack software installation in order to build custom solutions. For example, there is no ability to change the operating system or install alternative webserver platform software like Nginx, Tomcat, Hadoop, Lightspeed, or Lighttpd on retail PaaS cloud hosting plans. However, cloud hosting plans available under “pay as you go” approaches AWS, Google Cloud, & other companies do allow easy web server stack customization using snapshot services. Small business owners normally find managed WordPress hosting and retail cloud plans offered with LAMP PaaS options easier to use when transitioning from shared hosting for better performance, while the cloud computing plans offered with more stack flexibility require experience in systems administration and function similarly to VPS plans. Advantages of Dedicated Servers The traditional advantages of dedicated servers are that systems administrators can configure them for the exact level of web traffic that is required to support online operations. Where this is variable, website owners need to provision dedicated servers with over-capacity that will also provide better performance during periods of less than peak traffic activity. Web developers and programmers require dedicated server hardware to create custom web server environments for complex application support. This can include installing alternative operating systems for the webserver, custom developer extensions for programming languages, performance-enhancing utilities like advanced page caching systems, or alternative database frameworks to MySQL. Java, ASP.NET, Node.js, PHP, & Python developers all require dedicated server hardware that can be fully customized to build new applications or support legacy software online with specific runtime requirements. Dedicated servers can be optimized to support high levels of web traffic for eCommerce, media, publishing, promotions, etc. Disadvantages of Dedicated Servers The main disadvantage of dedicated servers is that, under an unmanaged approach, systems administrators must be responsible for all aspects of web security that includes the operating system and all installed extension frameworks. Dedicated servers with a managed stack software environment are continually updated by remote technicians in the data center with security patches, but this can create data access issues with unregistered employees that are unacceptable to some business operations. The cost of leasing remote dedicated servers can even be higher than buying and provisioning the hardware locally, although it is difficult to replicate the speed of fiber optic network resources in a world-class data center or international colocation facility. Trust in the web hosting company includes reliance on a third-party team for support, technical assistance, and debugging in operations that can be mission-critical for business website support, but not every hosting company is guaranteed to be consistent in this at a level to be reliable, leading to a potential loss of business or occasional web server downtime that cannot be predicted. Liquid Web Cloud Sites Service Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites service is an excellent example of how managed cloud hosting platforms with elastic scalability is providing enterprise-grade solutions for small business and SMEs that are both cheaper and more powerful than dedicated servers. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites platform is designed to work to optimize the performance of websites built with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, PHP, & .NET through pre-installation of optimized stack software on the webserver. Elastic scalability is automated with Cloud Sites so that new server instances launch on-demand or as scheduled to meet the user requirements of web traffic spikes. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites plans are more cost-effective than many dedicated server plans and also scales to support more web traffic under peak activity than dedicated hardware or VPS plans can manage. This can be vitally important for eCommerce websites that can lose business during peak sales periods like holidays, weekends, and special promotions unless a scalable web server framework is deployed. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites plans can scale to support over 500 billion page requests per year on a fixed price monthly framework to illustrate how managed cloud hosting platforms are replacing dedicated servers for preferred use in support of web publishing, eCommerce, social media, and mobile applications. Summary & Conclusion Instead of moving from a shared hosting account to a dedicated server with more hardware resource allocations, business owners can now choose cloud hosting plans which scale to provide more CPU cores, RAM, or database instances automatically as required by web traffic (“elastic scaling”). When combined with a “pay as you go” approach or cheap fixed-rate billing, this can be more efficient than estimating required server overcapacity manually to match peak hours with downtime levels of website traffic.  The most important aspect of web hosting for many business websites is the ability to install a custom web server software stack platform to support needed third-party programming language and database extensions for complex web and mobile applications with custom code. Dedicated servers were traditionally the way to go, but cloud computing options are becoming increasingly more competitive alternatives for building small business software solutions at an affordable price. It is now possible for small businesses and SMEs to host their websites with elastic server capabilities on retail PaaS cloud hosting plans at a fraction of the cost of comparable dedicated hardware and with the same enterprise quality services the largest companies in the world use to maintain their daily internet operations at scale. Find Out Your Cloud Hosting Options See how Liquid Web’s Cloud Hosting options can provide scalability and performance at an affordable cost. The post Which is Better For My Business, Dedicated Server Hosting or Cloud Hosting? appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Get the Most out of Twitter for Business

 Did you know there’s a tool that connects you with an endless stream of potential customers, free of charge? We’re talking about Twitter; one of the most effective marketing tools you can have in your arsenal. You can use Twitter for: Market research Finding new leads Engaging with new and prospective customers As a bonus, you don’t have to invest time in taking stunning photos or writing lengthy content as you do for Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is designed for a short conversation, so establishing a presence is quick and easy. In this article, we’ll look at some tips for using Twitter for Business to help you get started. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to market your online store. Setting up Your Account Using Twitter for Business First things first. You need a business account that’s consistent with the tone and image of your brand. Start by choosing a username for your business Twitter account. This needs to be as close as possible to your company’s name so people will recognize it. There’s always the chance that your username is already taken, so here are some workarounds that won’t affect your branding: Add your location at the end of the username (ex: @AmazonUK) Include your industry in the username (ex: @ALDO_Shoes) Add prefixes or suffixes like “Get,” “Real,” or “HQ” to your username (ex: @GetCredo) Don’t Forget the Aesthetics Next is the visuals. We recommend using a company logo for your profile picture, but you can also upload your personal headshot for the photo if you’re the face of the brand. Take a look at author and speaker Robert Kiyosaki’s profile for example. He’s the guy behind his personal brand, so it makes sense for him to use his picture in his Twitter profile. Now compare that with this profile from WooCommerce. The difference between this profile and @theRealKiyosaki is WooCommerce doesn’t have a name/face that people can connect to the brand. As such, it wouldn’t be effective to put a person’s face on the company profile — no matter how instrumental they are in expanding the platform. An exception may be small but growing businesses – using a picture of your team, your co-founders, or your key support staff may be a great way to humanize your brand. Regardless of which type of profile picture you choose, you need to create an account strictly for business. Don’t convert an existing personal account into a business profile. Start fresh so you can maintain a consistent tone from day one. If you need help choosing an attention-grabbing banner, check out Canva. They have over 50,000 templates that you can choose from, so designing the perfect banner for your brand has never been easier. If you haven’t created a logo yet, Canva can help you do that as well. Finally, you need to complete your Twitter profile so that it’s optimized. Tell people a little about your brand in the bio, and be sure to include a link to your company’s site in the website field. Better yet, create a landing page specifically for Twitter users if you really want to boost leads and drive conversions. Using Twitter for Business as a Research Tool Got your account set up? Great. Now, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business. Believe it or not, Twitter is a great market research tool. In this recent report, we can see the following Twitter statistics: 326 million people use it every month 24% of users are adults in the United States Affluent millennials make up 80% of users Millions of tweets are sent every day — 500 million to be exact. That’s a lot of people sharing what’s on their mind … and much of what they share is valuable market data. Conversations with brands about customer preferences, complaints, and suggestions all take place on Twitter, and most of it is available for you to access simply by using the search feature to look for keywords or trending hashtags. There are also a number of competitor research tools out there to help you monitor the industry — and keep a watchful eye on your competition. If you’re looking for a tool designed specifically for Twitter, check out Followerwonk. Followerwonk gives you in-depth insights into you and your competitor’s activity on Twitter. You can use it to see what’s trending in your industry, what your rivals are talking about, and who’s interested in your goods and services. But that’s not all. You can also use Followerwonk to tweak your Twitter marketing campaigns. Its dashboard lets you monitor key metrics like top keywords, follower demographics, and engagement ratings — all of which are useful when creating custom-tailored content on Twitter. There’s also Twitter Analytics, a native tool which lets you access your brand’s performance and engagement on the platform free of charge. Twitter analytics provide a view of tweet performance and audience reach, as well as a broad look at your follower demographics and info about your organic audience. Twitter Analytics even allows you to compare your followers to Twitter as a whole, as well as compare your audience against different predetermined audiences, including different personas, demographic groups, interest groups, and more. Integrating Twitter for Business Into Your Marketing Strategy Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business marketing so you can boost sales and conversions. Twitter is a great platform for making announcements. Got an upcoming sale? Tweet it. Launching a new product line? Announce it on Twitter. You can even embed important tweets on your landing pages to increase awareness while gaining more followers. Or, when someone praises your brand, you can use their tweet as a form of social proof. If you’re running your site on WooCommerce, embedding a live tweet is as simple as pasting its URL in the editor — the platform will take care of the rest. WordPress (and by default, WooCommerce) users can add sharing buttons for Twitter and other social media platforms by simply activating or installing the Jetpack plugin, as seen in this visual demo from ThemeIsle. You can also use Jetpack to automatically share a post on Twitter the moment it’s published. That way, followers can stay up to date with your content in real-time. Building Your Brand With Twitter for Business Did you know that Twitter ranks second in B2C marketing use, just under Facebook? It’s also the third most popular platform for B2B marketing according to Statista data. One of the reasons for that is because Twitter is a great place to build relationships through engagement. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter makes it easy to connect with customers and prospective customers alike. You can use it to: Answer questions related to your product or industry Offer customer service and support Collect feedback from your supporters When it comes to Twitter for business, engagement is the name of the game. By keeping an open channel of communication between you and your target market, you’re able to build brand loyalty while expanding your influence. The post How to Get the Most out of Twitter for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Use Instagram for Business

Instagram is fertile ground for eCommerce stores to promote their products directly to their target audiences.  Not only does Instagram have over 500 million daily users, but the platform has also been steadily adding business-friendly features to make advertising and selling easier than ever before.  This post explains how to get started using Instagram for your eCommerce store.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to market your eCommerce site. Create a Top-Notch Instagram Business Account  To effectively use Instagram for business, you first need to have an Instagram business account. And to have an Instagram business account, you must have a Facebook page for your business (Facebook owns Instagram). If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, you can create one in minutes. Ready? Let’s walk through how to create an Instagram business account. Download Instagram and Sign Up for a New Account By default, your new account will be a personal account. To make it a business account, go to Settings > Switch to a Business Profile, and then choose to connect through Facebook. The app will ask you to connect to a business Facebook page. That’s it! Your Instagram business account is ready to go. Write Your Bio Carefully Your Instagram profile is where many potential customers will first learn about your eCommerce store, so fill it out wisely.  For your bio, be sure to talk about what products you sell and where people can buy them. Great bios also include some personality, a link to the online store, and a powerful call-to-action. Remember that you only have 150 characters, so be as precise as possible. Make Your Instagram Shoppable with the Facebook for WooCommerce Plugin Thankfully, you no longer have to hope that your followers will go from an Instagram post to your profile to the link in your bio to (finally) shopping your store. Instagram now allows users to click on your product within the post itself. Here’s how you can integrate your WooCommerce store with your Instagram to make shopping easy. Download Facebook for WooCommerce Instagram Plugin  The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin allows you to merge products from your existing eCommerce store into Facebook (and later into Instagram).  Without this plugin, you would have to upload every product manually to Facebook, including uploading an image, writing a description, and selecting the price. If you have dozens of products in your eCommerce store, that could take a while.  Simply download the Facebook for WooCommerce plugin, and then click “Import Products to Facebook.” All your products will be uploaded in minutes. The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin is included with all plans of Managed WooCommerce at Liquid Web. Connect Your Facebook Shop to Instagram To connect your Facebook Shop to your Instagram business account, just click the “Instagram” tab on the left-side menu on your Facebook Shop and log into your Instagram. You may have to wait a few days for Instagram to approve your shoppable account.  Start Tagging Products on Instagram  Tagging a product in an Instagram post is what turns your account into an Instagram shop.  Followers can tap your image in their feeds, and the product name and current price will appear. They can click the tag again and be taken to that product on your website to purchase.  Here’s how tagging products on Instagram works.  Just like you would an ordinary post, click the “+” button to upload a new image (ideally one that features your product). Before clicking “Share,” click your product in the image to tag it with your product name. A catalog of the products from your WooCommerce site will pull up, and you can select the correct product. You can tag up to five products for every image. Strategize Your Content on Instagram You should have a strategy when it comes to posting and engaging on Instagram. To start, consider the following questions to guide you. What Kind of Content Will I Share? From the format of content — videos, images, graphics, Instagram Stories — to the content itself, you have a lot of decisions to make.  A good way to get a feel for what might be best for you is to look through the feeds of your direct (successful) competitors. Think about what they’re doing that is working for them and could work for you. How Often Will I Post? Above all, post as frequently as you can commit to doing consistently. In other words, figure out the max number of posts per day or week that you are certain you can maintain, and then stick to that schedule. Most research says that top brands post between one and three times a day.  Who Can I Engage With? To maximize your Instagram marketing efforts, you have to do more than just post your own content. You have to also engage with the content from other users.  Instagram’s algorithm will prioritize your content to your followers if you’ve frequently commented on their posts.  Even if someone is not following you, a comment (that doesn’t push your products in a sales-y way) can put you on their radar. Make a list of influencers or micro-influencers in your industry you’d like to connect with, and then commit to commenting regularly on their relevant posts. Advertise on Instagram to Extend Your Reach Just like on Facebook, you don’t have to wait for customers to find you. You can target ads to specific demographics, getting your products in front of the right people. Choose Your Target Audience Through Your Facebook Ads Manager To get started with advertising on Instagram, head to Facebook Ads Manager and click the “Audiences” tab. There, you can create a new “Saved Audience,” and select for attributes like location, age, gender, interests, income, and more.  Once you’ve targeted your audience, you can create a new ad in the ad manager. To publish it to Instagram, you click “Edit Placements” and choose Instagram. Decide the Right Ad Format for Your Goals You’ll see a place in the ads manager to select the format of your ad. Here are the ad format options for Instagram and what they mean: Photo or video ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and look like a regular post, including captions.Stories ad – Appears between other user’s stories and lasts for 24 hours (ideal for short promotions).Carousel ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and has slides of different content, either video or images.Collection ad – Like a photo or video ad but with an option to purchase the product directly from the ad No matter what type of ad format you decide, you can expect to pay between 70 cents and 80 cents per click on average. That means that if 500 people click your ad, you’d pay about $375.  Tip: Add an Instagram Shop Now Button to Ads Calls-to-action are important, and sometimes viewers may have to be prompted to shop. Instagram allows you to add a button to your ads to make it clear that the post is shoppable. Understand Instagram Analytics to Get Better Results After you’ve been posting, tagging products in your images, or advertising on Instagram for at least a month, you should check out your Instagram analytics to see how you’re doing. Plus, you can use what you learn to guide your strategy for the upcoming months. Instagram’s built-in Insights section provides you with all the analytics you’ll need to figure out how to get better results. It has three areas of insights: Activity, Content, and Audience. The Activity tab in Instagram Insights shows how many people visited your profile, when they visited it, and what they clicked in your bio (like the link to your website). It also shows you how many overall impressions your posts had over the past week and which day of the week saw the highest number of impressions. Content The Content tab is separated into “Feed posts” and “Stories.” For each, it displays the most popular posts over a certain time period.  You can filter the results by content type (such as carousels or videos), type of interaction (such as highest likes or most website clicks), or by time period. You can also layer these filters together. For example, you could choose filters that reveal the video posts that drove the most traffic to your website during the last 30 days. This tab displays insights related to your follower demographics including their gender, age, location, and when they are most often online.  Keep Track of Your Engagement Rate You’ve probably heard the ‘engagement’ term thrown around a lot, and you may already be tracking your engagement rates for other platforms like Facebook. Your engagement rate is the percentage of your followers who are actively interacting with your posts or stories. Keep track of this number to study your brand’s performance. You can determine your engagement rate by adding the number of likes plus the number of comments you’ve received and dividing the sum by the total number of followers you have. The more followers you have, the lower your engagement rate is likely to be. Start Using Instagram for Business Today The best thing about social media marketing is its accessibility. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, or even advertising with Google, costs are low and setup is simple and intuitive.  The low stakes make using social media platforms like Instagram something you can start using for your business today. The post How to Use Instagram for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

Meet a Helpful Human – David Singer

We’re the employees you would hire if you could. Responsive, helpful, and dedicated in ways automation simply can’t be. We’re your team. Each month we recognize one of our Most Helpful Humans in Hosting.  Meet David Singer Why did you join Liquid Web? The wife and I were working at a foster care facility in Ocala, Florida when we found out my mom was in the late stages of cancer. We brought it to the attention of the administrators at the foster care facility and all agreed this family issue was a priority. They helped us pack up all of our belongings over the next week and we said our final farewells. It was truly difficult leaving them as they were a part of our lives for more than five years. When we arrived back in Michigan, we unpacked, set up with living arrangements, and made sure my mom was getting the care she needed.  To make ends meet, I started looking for a new career. While browsing online, I saw an opening for a Linux Administrator in Lansing. I applied to Liquid Web on a whim and never expected to hear back. The next thing I knew, I was hired! Is there something specific at Liquid Web that you just love? Actually, there are a couple of things. I truly love all of the people I work with. They are intelligent, funny, and very motivated to provide the best possible care for our clients and each other. Also, I love learning and the training here is fabulous!  To quote Rockhound from the movie Armageddon: ‘Why do I do this? Because the money’s good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?’ Well, I don’t really get to use explosives but I have accidentally blown up a server or two back in the day…” What draws you to the hosting industry as a career? I wasn’t drawn to hosting specifically, but to join a company in which I could increase my technical knowledge and experience. After interviewing with Liquid Web, I saw the level of knowledge and experience these people had and knew I wanted more. After I was hired, I started training. They patiently answered question after question and provided an encouraging and supportive environment which allowed me to develop my skills. I was able to shadow two of their most knowledgeable admins which shaped and honed my troubleshooting skills! I caught on quickly and began using the same methodologies they used which allowed me to progress quickly and earn my spot within the Linux ranks. You don’t receive that kind of personalized training anywhere. I recently moved to the Marketing department as a technical writer which I am ecstatic about, as it gives me the opportunity to communicate my knowledge I have gained with others in a more proactive way. I have occupied multiple roles over the last 11+ years and I feel like we as a company have so much to share. In this role, I will ensure that we are passing our knowledge along to our clients. After all, the best clients are the most knowledgable ones! What is the biggest milestone you’ve accomplished? I’ve helped establish multiple teams, including our Live Chats and Enterprise teams, as well as other initiatives during my 11+ years at Liquid Web, all in an effort to improve the way we provide the services to our clients. This has allowed me to be a better advocate for my clients, my team, my department, and my company.  Also, I have had the pleasure of working alongside my sons at Liquid Web! As they grew, I provided technical training to them and had them apply for support positions. I set up a training wiki and went through it with them daily. I told them that no special quarter would be given; they needed to be doing it better, cleaner, and faster than every other admin in the room because they were my sons. All three of them studied hard and were hired over time, which was very rewarding for all. What’s your favorite part about the company culture at Liquid Web? Memes… definitely the memes. My favorite meme at the moment?  Tell us about a truly rewarding experience you’ve had with a customer. I have interacted with thousands of clients here at Liquid Web. I have helped them save money, helped them put food on the table to feed their families, and helped to literally save their businesses. Many clients know me by my first name and I know them and their needs in return. Having this level of intimate knowledge and involvement with them allows me to speak the truth to them, and many have come to know me and rely on that honesty, not only in regards to technical issues but also with life issues. What is one thing you wish our customers knew about their hosting? I am a huge fan of multiple backups! I have seen so many instances where the simple act of having a disaster recovery plan in place could have literally saved a client’s business. I have listened as clients have cried for hours with me on the phone, begging me to try and find a way to retrieve their data to prevent them from losing their business. Unfortunately, all I could do was empathize with them and try to create a better plan for moving forward.  If you are reading this, check your backups now! Test out your disaster recovery plan before it’s needed, and have a set of offsite backups. This will give you increased peace of mind and add a layer of security to protect your business. Work aside, what are some of your hobbies? I am an avid outdoorsman. I love being outside and feeling the sun and rain on my face while hunting, fishing, swimming, or camping. My dad always said that “nature was the Lord’s first sanctuary.” What is your nickname at Liquid Web and why? They call me… ShiftDaddy! I think it’s because I am older than most people on the shift. My favorite saying: “You may wear the watch, but I know the time…” If you could have dinner with one famous person [dead or alive] who would it be? Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni… He was truly a renaissance man in every sense of the word. I would love to have talked with him for hours, exploring his thoughts and ideas. You can follow David on Twitter or LinkedIn. We hope you enjoyed our series, and stay tuned for the next Most Helpful Human in Hosting profile. The post Meet a Helpful Human – David Singer appeared first on Liquid Web.

Why to Choose VMware Private Cloud for Your DevOps Environment

The value of developer operations (DevOps) practices and continuous delivery methodology for agile and fast-growing businesses has become fairly well known. DevOps enables the fastest possible delivery of applications and features, and the highest degree of IT labor efficiency. Many companies, however, continue to struggle with how to effectively adapt those practices and methodologies to realize the full value of DevOps. When VMware itself switched to a modern DevOps workflow more than five years ago, the company says provisioning, which had taken weeks, was reduced to only 16 hours, and its functional QA testing time was cut from a week to eight hours. This kind of efficiency improvement can be functionally equivalent to hiring more developers, but at a fraction of the cost, because the abilities of the developers you already have are being properly utilized.  Properly leveraging employee talent is as important in IT as it is in any other department, but it may be more difficult to do at times, due to the job’s complexity, or the challenges of understanding what everyone is doing. Everyone can understand, however, that provisioning development environments (see below) is not an exciting or fulfilling use of time for IT ops staff. It is a job no one wants to do, which can be done more cost-effectively through a managed host or automation anyway.      A managed host is often ideal for a business looking to achieve the agility benefits of automation without taking on new tasks requiring new technical competencies. The managed service provider automates server environments as needed, giving your business the benefits of automation while further reducing the workload.  DevOps methodologies also involve continuous ownership and monitoring of each specific service or project, an open approach to information sharing and collaboration, and above all, an embrace of the principles and practices that create an integrated IT pipeline to production. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for tips on infrastructure optimization. Auto-Provision Dev and Test Environments Automating infrastructure deployment and management is essential to DevOps. One of the easiest ways DevOps teams can streamline application development in VMware-powered private cloud environments is by automating the provisioning for their testing processes. A predictable environment helps to prevent delays in the dev process, and can also benefit the quality and consistency of the development work itself. Automated environments also tend to be more consistent and predictable than those built manually, which is particularly important for testing and QA.  Under legacy development workflows, operations teams that build development and testing environments would provide the environment for each application’s development individually. If the instance provided by the ops team is delayed, or not provisioned correctly, the development team is delayed from starting its work, and even a completely smooth dev process may fail to complete the application on schedule. Test environments can not only be scaled up or down based on the test workload but also to speed up testing by reallocating resources when they are not needed for other applications. This often happens overnight, when other workloads are reduced on a consistent basis for many businesses. Testing processes are often considered the low-hanging fruit of automation, but auto-provisioning environments to develop and deploy applications is a major step in the transition to a continuous delivery process. A VMware-powered Private Cloud enables the efficient, automated provisioning of all kinds of environments, setting up the infrastructure, configuration, and dependencies. A complete DevOps cycle also includes automation of planning, building, coding, integration, deployments, measurement and monitoring processes. Automation Beyond Provisioning An integrated DevOps approach means automating as many processes as possible. Whether leveraging a managed services provider to automate tasks for you or using VMware tools to do it yourself, a VMware Private Cloud environment is ideally suited to a broad range of infrastructure automation tasks. Modeling different stages in the application release pipeline, accelerating code compiling by integrating popular build servers such as Jenkins or Bamboo with Code Stream, and release management can all be taken care of by the server management service provider, or the DevOps teams if server management is done in-house. With servers for each stage in the delivery pipeline spun up and down as needed, DevOps teams can achieve new levels of speed and efficiency automatically. In addition to provisioning environments, coding, and promotion through the pipeline, your managed VMware Private Cloud makes it easy to automate all of the monitoring necessary to maintain the performance of your infrastructure and the efficiency of your development pipeline. Monitoring Tools A fully managed VMware Private Cloud solution takes care of most infrastructure responsibilities, including monitoring the operating systems of the VMs themselves. That can be quite valuable, as DevOps normally requires monitoring of applications all the way through the development pipeline and in production. For companies that do not have a managed DevOps environment, VMware provides a wide range of tools, such as the vRealize Suite and Wavefront. Learning and implementing them all is a key responsibility of the DevOps team. For businesses running a managed solution like Liquid Web VMware Private Cloud, however, monitoring is part your service provider’s server management function. In the event that the DevOps team does notice an issue, an easy phone call puts your service provider’s enterprise support staff into action 59 seconds later.  Rather than troubleshooting managed VMs running cPanel with their service provider’s help, businesses with a small team or one-person shop for system administration can focus their energy on development by letting their service provider take the full management role. Virtualization Leadership  VMware is used by businesses of all sizes and verticals to provide the virtualization platform for their DevOps environment. The company also pioneered virtualization and is the market leader in private cloud infrastructure, so it is a natural choice for automating infrastructure. As referred to above, VMware runs its own continuous delivery pipeline with vRealize cloud management solutions and helped to pioneer cloud DevOps, so the platform is built to support the processes and VMware provides industry-leading documentation. VMware Private Cloud with Liquid Web Many organizations can benefit from both a continuous delivery approach and a managed Private Cloud environment. For those organizations, a VMware Private Cloud managed by a team of infrastructure professionals is a cost-effective way to enable the efficiency and agility of continuous development. Liquid Web is an official VMware Professional Solution Provider, and offers businesses a truly managed private cloud, taking care of all hardware, VMware virtualization platform, and VM operating system management with proactive monitoring 24/7/365. With a dedicated vCenter and ultra-fast NetApp SAN storage, Liquid Web’s VMware-powered Private Cloud is the best choice on the market for your DevOps environment. The post Why to Choose VMware Private Cloud for Your DevOps Environment appeared first on Liquid Web.

Five Ways To Generate More Leads For Your WordPress Agency

Building a successful WordPress agency with a full book of high-paying clients requires one thing: clients. Whether you’re a micro agency or a rapidly expanding team, it’s highly likely you don’t have all the clients you will ever need and that you could always use more clients. Here are five easy tips you can get started on right away to get more leads for your WordPress agency: Get out of your office to increase your visibilityTalk about what you do with friends and familyAsk for leads within your networkAdvertise and pay-to-playCreate offers for the next logical step 1. Get Out Of Your Office to Increase Your Visibility A concerted effort must be made to get out from behind your computer, leave your office, and build your network. After all, as Jennifer Bourn always says, “No one can hire you, buy from you, or learn from you if they don’t know that you exist.”  If you want to attract new, high-quality leads, you need to be seen by and interact with new high-quality people and that means attending networking events, conferences, seminars, workshops, and meetups—and whenever possible, speaking, sponsoring, and/or volunteering. It is said that “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” Translated to business, that means eighty percent of your success comes from being visible and building awareness about what you do. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to receive industry level tips and strategies to grow your WordPress Agency. 2. Talk About What You Do Never assume people—even friends and family—know what you do or understand the breadth of what you do, and always remember that people are busy, self-absorbed, and forgetful. With these tips in mind, you must talk about what you do, share client success stories, and communicate what’s going on in your business with everyone you know in person, online, and on social media. This doesn’t mean you need to be pushy or overly self-promotional, but it does mean you should be regularly mixing business updates that highlight your expertise and experience in with your personal posts across social media. 3. Ask For Leads If you want new leads, go out and get them. Be the hunter and seek out your prey (just don’t be as vicious). Be proactive by reaching out to friends, family, colleagues, clients, vendors, and even industry peers to ask for their help in securing new referrals and leads. You could do this with a personalized email, a quick phone call, in your regular follow up, or with a warm letter. 4. Advertise And Pay To Play If you have been in business for any length of time, you may have heard the saying, “If you want to make money, you have to spend money.” Please don’t be the business owner who doesn’t want to pay for anything but wants to make tons of money. It does cost money to run and grow a successful business and sometimes the best move is investing in strategic, targeted visibility opportunities through paid advertising, paid partner opportunities, event sponsorships, and even pay-to-play speaking opportunities. Just remember that when you consider paying for an opportunity, make sure it isn’t a bright shiny distraction. Any opportunity you invest in need to align with your business goals and propel you farther down the path you’re on. 5. Create Offers For The Next Logical Step Many savvy marketers give the advice, “Just as you wouldn’t propose marriage on the first date, don’t go for the sale in the first interaction.” While it’s tempting to push for the conversion, you can rarely take a prospect from point A to point Z successfully. Instead, you need to help them take the next logical step and move from point A to point B, and point B to point C, and so on. This means the better approach is to: Get to know the client you’re trying to attractMap the customer journey step-by-stepCreate useful content that serves prospective clients at each stage of the buyer journey and helps them take the next logical step. The post Five Ways To Generate More Leads For Your WordPress Agency appeared first on Liquid Web.

Liquid Web Announces EU Data Center Availability For Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting

Liquid Web Announces EU Data Center Availability For Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting To Better Serve Their European Customers LANSING, Mich., July 23rd, 2019 – Liquid Web, LLC, (https://www.liquidweb.com), the market leader in managed hosting and managed application services to SMBs today announced their EU Data Center availability for Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting products. Liquid Web continues to redefine Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce by helping its European customers meet data residency requirements as well as helping improve performance and reduce latency.  “Even though it’s a tiny factor, the latency between a user making a request from England all the way across to the US has a larger impact on performance, versus sending the request directly to Amsterdam. This is why we are excited about our EU data center availability for customers serving predominantly European customers. Less travel time means better performance,” says Jessica Frick, Product Manager, Managed WordPress. Utilizing Liquid Web’s data centers in the EU will not only help with latency and performance improvement but will also help customers requiring GDPR compliant hosting. “We run our own data centers with tier 1 premium bandwidth, on-site security, and teams of experts dedicated to monitoring network performance and security 24/7. Adding this geographic location option to our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce customers is especially exciting to our eCommerce customers wanting to expand overseas.  There are different ways you can spin up your servers based on your geographical needs, and having data center options available in Europe helps our customers make a strategic decision when expanding internationally,” said Frick.  Learn more about Liquid Web’s EU Data Center availability.  Learn more about Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting.  About Liquid Web Marking its 21st anniversary, Liquid Web powers online content, commerce, and potential for SMB entrepreneurs and the designers, developers, and digital agencies who create for them. An industry leader in managed hosting and cloud services, Liquid Web is known for its high-performance services and exceptional customer support. Liquid Web offers a broad portfolio designed so customers can choose a hosting solution that is hands-on or hands-off or a hybrid of the two. The company owns and manages its own core data centers, providing a diverse range of offerings, including bare metal servers, fully managed hosting, Managed WordPress, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and continues to evolve its service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its web-reliant, professional customers. With over 32,000 customers spanning 150 countries, the company has assembled a world-class team, global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for eleven years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn. *2018 Net Promoter Score of 65 Contact: Mayra Pena, mpena@liquidweb.com The post Liquid Web Announces EU Data Center Availability For Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting appeared first on Liquid Web.

Dropshipping Success Stories: How Two Entrepreneurs Built Successful Businesses

We recently spoke to two successful dropshipping entrepreneurs. One who started up in the last couple of years, and one who’s been at it for more than a decade.  Their businesses are very different. One sells crickets to lizard owners, the other sells custom promotional gifts to consumers and businesses — but they share three common traits. Dedication to building content for SEOMonitoring and upgrading suppliersWillingness to multitask and wear many hats Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to market your dropshipping store. Jeff Neal: The Critter Depot The Critter Depot sells live crickets to reptile owners, who feed them to their pets. Jeff Neal, the owner of the business, says he pulls in about $15,000 a month in sales. Neal told us he’d been wanting to start an eCommerce business for years. He was looking for an underexploited niche but hadn’t found the right opportunity. He considered selling thermal scopes, meat thermometers, and women’s shoes. Then, he heard the call of crickets. “The effort required to get first page organic rankings was pretty easy,” Neal says.  Easy, but not quick. Neal says it took about two years for his site to rise up the rankings. During that time, The Critter Depot was just a side project. He found a supplier and fulfilled some orders, but he didn’t do much more. “I might go months without touching the site,” Neal remembers. He wrote some articles for his site, but they weren’t that extensive and didn’t help his rankings much. What did help was when Neal started focusing on publicity and getting backlinks.  He began contacting reporters looking to write about unique personal finance stories. “I’m a millennial who sells crickets,” Neal says. “It’s pretty unique.” Neal subscribes to a service called Help A Reporter Out. It’s a service for journalists who are looking to interview people for articles and blog posts. When Neal sees a request that relates to his experience, he responds and makes himself available for email or phone interviews. Neal’s story has appeared on the websites of US News & World Report, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, and others. And critically, so do links to The Critter Depot. The link authority of those venerable sites is a quality signal to Google. Each story helps Neal’s site inch further up the rankings, and higher rankings lead to higher sales. Now Neal puts in 20 to 30 hours of work per week on The Critter Depot. He wakes up at 4 a.m. to answer customer emails and make sure orders are on track. He has held onto his full-time job, so once that’s over, he comes home and spends another hour on the site in the evening. “I’m really trying to branch it out and make it more informative,” Neal says. “The benefit of the internet is all information — that needs to be the focus of the website.” Towards that end, Neal hired a zoologist to write in-depth care guides like this one: How to Care for Your Beloved Bearded Dragon.  Neal also says that his increased sales have helped him find better suppliers and better margins. Once he was delivering a consistent number of orders, the bigger commercial growers were willing to fulfill for him. He’s not only getting more orders; he’s profiting more on every one.  He’s bullish about the long-term prospects of the site because the pet industry itself is growing so much. Neal notes that big food brands are expanding into pet food and supplies.  “Maybe someday I can flip it for seven figures,” says Neal. Michael Lerner: Promos On-Time Rather than searching for a business idea the way Jeff Neal did, Michael Lerner started his business in an industry he already knew well — selling custom promotional items and personalized gifts. “I had no idea about the web,” he says. Lerner launched Promos On-Time in 2006. Back then, with eCommerce in its infancy, Michael didn’t have access to off-the-shelf software or software services like today’s eCommerce entrepreneurs do.  His startup costs included a few thousand dollars for customer relationship management software, and another $3,000 to $4,000 on a web developer. “Within a week we were getting orders,” Lerner says. Lerner’s experience in the industry helped him establish relationships with suppliers. “I was able to get favorable pricing, rebates, and other incentives.” Lerner says the company did $500,000 in revenue in the first year, with their only promotional expense being a small amount of search advertising. As the eCommerce industry has grown, startup businesses have many more resources than Lerner did. Sales CRMs, web development, and dropshipping can be acquired at the click of a button. But with ease, comes more competition. “The space is 50 times more crowded than when I got into it,” he says. Lerner keeps up with the competition by keeping on top of his suppliers. “Constant monitoring,” he calls it. Lerner says to keep a close eye on suppliers as they grow. “The ones who have grown are the ones you have to watch the most. Inevitably they don’t keep up with inventory or quality.” He has also identified niches like National Volunteer Week, and Teacher Appreciation Week. “We try to cater to those because there’s not as much competition,” he says. That includes original content to help rank for these terms on Google. On a typical day, Lerner says he’ll work on many different tasks — from adding products to the site, to editing copy for fresh content, posting to Facebook and Instagram, publishing product copy, analyzing metrics … “You’ve got to wear a lot of hats,” he says.  Lerner also devotes 30 minutes a day looking at other websites to get ideas for what he should be doing on his own. Starting and Succeeding With Your Own eCommerce Business  As you plan and grow your eCommerce business, consider the key elements of Neal and Lerner’s success.  Neal offered some simple advice for anyone thinking about starting an eCommerce business: “Learn SEO.” Why These Entrepreneurs Invest in Search Engine Optimization Both Neal and Lerner devote considerable attention to identifying and selling products that consumers are searching for online. In Neal’s case, he didn’t even start his business until he found a term that he knew would rank in results. And even then, it took two years of effort to start ranking. The simple benefit of ranking high in search engines is a consistent, motivated customer base that you don’t have to pay to reach. While offline businesses invest in expensive marketing efforts like trade shows and television advertising, you won’t need to, and you can keep prices lower than your competitors.  Search is one of the main reasons Neal is paying a zoologist to write original guides for the pet owners he markets to. It’s why Lerner targets unique gift-giving events like Volunteer Week rather than try to compete with massive competitors on search terms like “graduation gifts.”  Link building, keyword research, and technical SEO are three key elements of SEO that every prospective eCommerce entrepreneur should understand. (You should also know how your hosting service affects your Google rankings.) Attracting and Monitoring Supplier Relationships No dropshipping business can succeed without reliable suppliers who offer competitive wholesale prices. The dropshipping entrepreneur may face a “chicken and egg” problem like Jeff Neal’s. Until he achieved a high volume of orders, the best suppliers wouldn’t do business with him. You may have to accept low or even negative margins as you build your customer base. Once you have that base, and you get the supplier you want, don’t think that your work is done. As Lerner points out, suppliers who are in demand may see their popularity as a chance to skimp on customer service and product quality. Slip-ups by a supplier can decimate the customer base you built so patiently. Be Ready to Work!  Dropshipping entrepreneurs don’t have to create or package products, but the time they save ends up being devoted to administrative and marketing tasks. Both Neal and Lerner have the work ethic and flexibility to dive into many different facets of owning a business. Lerner told us that some of his bigger competitors have more than 100 people responsible for the tasks he handles himself. Some of Lerner’s roles include: Site MerchandiserWeb Content EditorSocial Media ManagerCopywriterWebmasterData AnalystIndustry Competition Consultant Likewise, Neal is up before sunrise every morning to keep Critter Depot on track. He has a full-time job and piles 20 to 30 hours of eCommerce entrepreneurship on top of that.  The trade-off? Unlike the people filling these roles at eCommerce behemoths, entrepreneurs like Lerner and Neal can decide when and how to do these tasks. They have the freedom to experiment and innovate, and if they’re successful, enjoy a full ownership stake that would be far more valuable than their corporate perks. The post Dropshipping Success Stories: How Two Entrepreneurs Built Successful Businesses appeared first on Liquid Web.

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