Liquid Web Official Blog

Using the Bullseye Method to Market Your Business

Ever had a hard time finding new clients? Even if you’ve been running your business for years, it can be hard to find work sometimes. Many people start looking for new markets to target when times are lean, but the truth is that many times most of your existing market doesn’t know your name. Seth Godin says it well in The Dip: Sure, some of the people in a market have considered you (and even rejected you). But most of the people in the market have never even heard of you. The market doesn’t have just one mind. Different people in the market are seeking different things.” Today we’re going to look at some of the methods you can use to reach that overwhelming portion of your market that doesn’t know you yet, including the bullseye marketing method. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more Web Professional content like this sent straight to your inbox. Find Your Personality When many businesses get started, they default to bland marketing speak. Even solo business owners like myself fall into this trap as they try to sound bigger and more serious than they are. Unfortunately this type of marketing language makes you sound like a cardboard cutout, and few people are going to be willing to hire you. In an entertaining retrospective, Jack McDade founder of Statamic talked about the impact that adding personality to the branding for his product had in 2017. From 2013- 2017, Stamatic had a slow climb in popularity. Once he added his 80’s branding aesthetic to the website’s design, it stood out from all the flat designs out there. This re branding translated into more sales and brand recognition. Similarly, I use Lego images and talk about my kids and mountain running on my site because that’s who I am. Remember, your clients are hiring you, not an agency where people may change throughout the project. I even take my personality into my contracts, which talk about maple syrup fights and shiny gold plated billing robots (doesn’t that sound like more fun to read than a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo?). Enjoy New Pitches When I started adding personality to my work I also started getting hilarious pitches from potential customers. One spent three paragraphs talking about their favorite cyclist in the Tour De France that year because they read a post about my cycling habits. This inclusion of personality has also meant that years after I’ve worked with some clients we are still emailing a few times a year to check up on how each other are doing in their running or triathlons. These are the long-term connections that continue to bring in referrals. I know that you’re wondering if too much personality can scare off some clients; yes it will. I’ve had people read my contract and then say they would never work with someone that used a contract like mine. Remember, that you should be working with your ideal clients, so this filters out some of the people that aren’t the best fit with the way I work.” Your goal should never be to win every prospect that comes in the door, but to play the long game of having a business that you still enjoy running in a decade. That means you work with the customers that fit with your long-term vision best. Establish Your Single Metric That Matters Before we can dig into the act of marketing, we need to determine what the single metric that matters for us is. Start With Website Traffic When you’re starting, it’s likely simple traffic to your site because it’s a decent starting measure for how much of the existing market knows you. It’s also true that without some type of traffic you won’t be able to start to test any of the other types of metrics that can be used. To track traffic you can use pretty much any analytics package such as Google Analytics, WordPress Stats, or Fathom. The key is for you to be able to identify when a marketing effort is yielding more traffic to your site, and what types of content are yielding the best retention on your site. One caution here is that you don’t just want any traffic. A number of years ago StumbleUpon was a huge driver of traffic to sites and I got lots of requests from clients to make sure that they could get that traffic. The problem was that StumbleUpon was random traffic to your site. Sure there was some filters for preference, but most of the traffic wasn’t looking for your product. They were simply bored and clicked a button to take them to a random website. This wasn’t quality traffic that would create new business. The likelihood of getting a decent lead out of those thousands of visits in a day was unlikely. All it did was cost you money in hosting as you used up valuable server resources on people that didn’t care about you or what you had to offer. Look At Conversions Once you have some traffic, it’s time to start looking at conversions. You don’t only want traffic. Ultimately, you want people that are interested in your products or services. Prospects signal that they are interested by signing up for your email lists, joining your forums, or leaving comments on your site.” The king of these types of metrics is the email list subscription, because despite so many people talking about the demise of email, it’s by far the best medium for conversion of people into paying customers. When you have a steady stream of minor conversions, it’s time to start looking at a major conversions, which is turning users into paying customers. Here you need to know what your current rate of leads is and then focus in on the methods that help increase this number (which requires analytics). Remember, your goal is to build a system that allows you to hit your goals in a repeatable fashion. If you’re focusing on traffic, knowing how to use ads or content regularly to get people to view your site is key. For conversions, focus on downloadable content or other things that consistently entice people to raise their hand to say they’re interested in what you have to offer. When it’s time to focus on getting paying customers, try refining your email sequences to increase the number of people that purchase. Ultimately, all of these metrics are a cycle. At some point you’ll hit a plateau in your traffic, and you can then move to getting more conversions until you hit a plateau there. Then you can start to look at turning your existing leads into clients. Once that seems to have plateaued and you’ve got process to consistently convert people into paying customers, you’ll head back to traffic and try some of the different methods listed below to optimize from the top down once more. Focus Your Marketing For each type of marketing metric you’re currently focusing on, you can use the same method to figure out which marketing method is going to be the best option for you to use currently. Maybe you’ll start with content marketing for traffic, but then need to move to PR as your business grows because PR does a better job at converting people to your email list. You start by testing all the ways that you can market your business and see which one moves the metric you’re currently targeting. Next, try these two steps to really dial in your efforts: Once you can say that two or three are doing the best job at hitting your goals, you focus on those few until you have a clear marketing tool that is performing best. Once you have that single focus, take your other top items and get them to feed into your main one so that they work together. Let’s look at this in practice for each type of metric focus. Bullseye Marketing for Traffic Photo by When we’re trying to generate traffic (awareness of our work) content is often king. That is writing content, or doing videos, that speak well to your target market. That means you’re entering the world of content marketing. Let’s assume that in your initial tests, blog content was indeed the best option for bringing more traffic to your site. While building a full content marketing plan is outside the scope of this post, Liquid Web has lots of great resources to help you build a content marketing plan including a great beginner’s guide to content marketing. Ultimately your goal is to be able to continuously produce content that drives views to your site.” If that means starting with blog content, then maybe you’d use Facebook Ads to drive extra traffic to content that starts to catch on. You may also add YouTube videos about parts of the same content (recycle content in different mediums to add value quickly) to entice people and drive them to your email list and site for more information. Bullseye Marketing for Conversions As you transition to focusing on conversions you may still keep your content as a key component, but focus more on any extras that can be provided with the content in exchange for an email address. You’ll need to ask yourself which traffic channels are converting best for what types of extra content. Maybe Twitter does best if you present infographics, but Google Search yields lots of email subscriptions if you provide an email course to go with some content. Again, your goal is to focus on your single metric and figure out exactly what type of offer or combination of offers takes the traffic you’ve built and turns it into more conversions. Often, that will come in the form of email subscribers. Bullseye Marketing for Customers Once you’ve moved to focusing on customers, you’re likely focusing on your email marketing sequences or the sales funnel on your site. If you’re focused on your email marketing sequences, then you’ll need to look at A/B testing different headings and wording in your emails to see which ones get people to click to start becoming a customer. In my business I did this with my initial client email as I worked to vet people in my client funnel so that I end up only working with people that are the best fit. In fact each and every email I send to prospects or former clients is timed and has been tested so that it has the best chance of finding the clients that are going to be my best fit. If you’re focusing on your site based conversions, then you’re looking at A/B testing your checkout and every interaction that your prospects have on their way to becoming a customer. Even if you’ve spent time on this before, looking back at every interaction every few months or once a year is what it will take to maximize your conversion of prospects into customers. Starting Using Bullseye Marketing Today If you can start now to figure out what your brand voice is, find your single metric that matters, and then focus your marketing on the best channels, you can build a sustainable pipeline of incoming leads. With a bit of effort, you’ll be increasing the awareness that your market has of you and what you offer, bringing you more business. Accelerate Your Digital Agency Growth With a fully managed hosting service handling your web infrastructure, you can focus on getting more clients and improving your onboarding process. The post Using the Bullseye Method to Market Your Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

How Important is Website Speed and Performance?

When thinking about website performance, the most immediately visible factor for your site is speed. That is to say that a website that loads slowly is not as well regarded as a website that loads more quickly. However, all too often publishers of websites fail to recognize exactly how page speed impacts the user experience and, ultimately, how successful the website is in driving its mission forward. Understanding how site speed and performance impact your website goes deeper than simply establishing that a faster website is better than a slower website. How does the user feel? What is happening at the server level? How is the owner of the site or the publisher affected? In this article we will dig into the consequences and ramifications of a slow website and how you can turn site speed into a competitive advantage. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for more tips on how to optimize your website. Site Performance and the User Experience The first way that site performance impacts the user experience comes when site visitors are simply trying to access your content in the first place. With more and more competition for ever-shrinking attention spans, there is simply no margin for error when it comes to site performance. Research shows that internet users expect websites to load in less than three seconds. Slower than that and traffic declines at an alarming rate. Imagine for a moment what that means: a human came to your website looking for information or a product to purchase and left before they got what they were looking for. For all the effort you put in to attracting visitors in the first place this possibility should be downright terrifying. A slow-loading, poor-performing website means that visitors are abandoning the site itself not because your design or content are unappealing but rather because your website is too slow. Furthermore, more than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices on connections that are slower than those available to desktop and laptop computers. With the stakes so high, site speed and performance has never been more important. Site Performance and the Customer Experience The second way site performance impacts visitors comes when those visitors are actually potential customers. When the experience of shopping online is slow and clunky, it is incumbent on store owners to recognize that customers have a wide range of choices online. If your eCommerce site it slow, if pages don’t load quickly, or if shopping carts and checkout processes do not move quickly, then customers will simply leave your website and go somewhere else.” If you own and operate an online store it is imperative that you optimize site performance not just while visitors are browsing product pages but also when they choose something to purchase and try to complete that transaction. If the purchasing experience is slow and clunky then potential customers will leave and likely never return. Site Performance and Technology One of the oft-overlooked aspects of site performance is the effect of performance on Search Engine rankings. Believe it or not, search engines like Google factor site speed into their ranking algorithms. Slower sites are penalized in search results while faster sites are rewarded. When you step back and think about it, this practice makes sense. Search engines exist to provide the best possible answer to the user’s search query. Part of the “best” answer is the one that presents itself quickly and completely. In other words, if every time you clicked a search result from Google or Bing the resulting page took 5 or 10 seconds to load, you would be disappointed and maybe even aggravated. Over time, you might even choose to use a different search engine to locate information entirely. Speed is a critical part of succeeding with search engines and neglecting performance while trying to achieve higher search engine rankings is a fool’s errand. Site Performance and Your Brand The impact of site speed and performance listed above are reason enough to pay attention to how quickly your web pages are loading and how quickly your shopping cart is operating. But even if that were not the case, you should understand and appreciate the impact of site performance on the perception of your brand. Whether operating a business website or a site for your personal hobby or interests, you want to put your best foot forward. It isn’t putting your best foot forward to offer visitors a website that is slow and faces challenges in loading all elements, images, and content. Think about your brand in another way. Imagine you choose to visit a car dealership with interest in buying a car. And suppose the salesperson you are speaking to says, “Thank you for stopping by…take a look, here is our best car!” And when you look at where they are pointing, you see a car that barely rolls straight, sounds awful, and is in dire need of a new paint job. That’s the impression visitors are left with when your website is slow and performs poorly. Website performance is a reflection of your brand, and a slow website that frustrates users will give them a negative perception of you. An Entire World Dependent on Performance When you take all of the factors listed above into account, it should be clear that site speed and performance are not only important; they are crucial to your website’s success. Whether you are simply sharing your personal thoughts on a blog or promoting your business and selling goods online, site performance has never been more important. Savvy site owners and publishers are vigilant in looking for ways to improve site performance. Be one of them. Take Our Free Seven Point Inspection To better understand the performance of your website and the impact that performance is having on your mission, we invite you to take advantage of Liquid Web’s Seven Point Inspection. Our free inspection provides details around where your site is working optimally and where you can stand some assistance. From there, our experienced hosting consultants can make suggestions and recommendations for getting the most out of your digital presence. The post How Important is Website Speed and Performance? appeared first on Liquid Web.

Q3 Affiliate Partner Contest Winners

As most of our affiliate partners are aware, planning two months (or more) ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is key to a successful end of year. In Q3, to help our affiliates fill their calendar with content we pitted our affiliate partners against each other in a friendly contest to see who could create the most engaging, enlightening, invoking, and amazing article about why WooCommerce is great for eCommerce stores. The Prize: Winners were awarded with some cash bonuses—but more importantly—bragging rights as Q3 Affiliate Contest Winners. We received a great amount of participation among our affiliate partners and we were really excited to read all of the articles. We have some really amazing affiliate partners (humble brag)! Each piece submitted was judged based on the content’s overall quality, length, design, and accuracy of information. Without further ado, here are the affiliate partner winning and runner up articles. Fall 2019 Affiliate Contest Winner: GrowthHacking.Africa What did we love about it? It highlights the true reality about choosing infrastructure over design. “The lucky [stores] that survive soon realize a successful online store is beyond a sleek user interface and a highly sought product – though very important, the infrastructure on which they run played an equal role to their success.” Anyone can launch a store on a $5 website, but when your store grows, the infrastructure behind it is what truly matters. We also liked that the article included some real-life “tweetable moments”. Read the rest: The article was written by Joshua Okapes. Follow Joshua on Twitter @JOkapes Fall 2019 Contest Runner-Up: What did we love about it? Again, infrastructure is really important, so we like the fact that they mentioned the importance of performance testing. “A second or two here or there can mean the difference between someone purchasing your products or going somewhere else. And, we know that Google is looking at website speed, so you definitely want a faster running website for search engine performance as well. As I mentioned above, WooCommerce out of the box isn’t necessarily the fastest platform. However, Liquid Web has more than taken care of any speed issues.” Read the rest: The article was written by Michael James. Follow Michael on Twitter @WebHostingCat Fall 2019 Contest Third Place: What did we love about it? RS Websols did a really great job highlighting the different Woocommerce plan offerings and giving further details by providing a Q&A. Similar to the two posts above, speed is key. “The WooCommerce plugin simply turns your WordPress website into an eCommerce store, however, Managed WooCommerce Hosting transforms it into a hassle-free, full-featured eCommerce platform which will not only increase the speed of your WooCommerce store but will also enhance its functionality and consistency.” Read more: The article was written by Souvik Banerjee. Follow Souvik on Twitter @rswebsols We really appreciate the amazing interest we had in the contest and really enjoyed reading all the great articles. A big thanks to everyone that entered and participated. We really do have the best affiliate partners. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Liquid Web Blog for more news from our affiliates, or sign up for the affiliate newsletter to compete in the next event! The post Q3 Affiliate Partner Contest Winners appeared first on Liquid Web.

A Deep Dive into CryptoLocker Ransomware Malware and How to Protect Yourself

Ransomware attacks are real and dangerous. The CryptoLocker ransomware attack remains, alongside Petya and WannaCry, one of the most prolific large-scale attacks in malware history, designed specifically for Windows operating systems. Cybersecurity specialists say the first CryptoLocker attack took place on September 5, 2013, yet the ransomware crippled about 500,000 Microsoft Windows computers at a rampant infection rate until it was contained in May 2014 following Operation Tovar. But where do ransomware attacks originate and how do they work? How Ransomware Usually Operates Ransomware infections usually start with drive-by downloading or phishing campaigns: a suspicious email from an unknown source that manipulates the user through social engineering techniques to click on a link or download an infected attachment. In recent years, hackers have developed sophisticated scams with copycat emails and templates, making it often hard even for the most tech-savvy to detect a phishing attempt. All it takes is for an individual to click on the link in the body of the email or download the attachment.” Upon infection, the malicious software encrypts all data and rapidly spreads in the entire infrastructure. Immediately an alert will appear on the screen informing the victim that the system is encrypted, and a bitcoin ransom must be paid to retrieve a decryption key. While many companies naively expect immediate payment will regain them access to files, hackers are unlikely to release encryption keys and the data is lost. Liquid Web’s blog is full of useful tips on how to secure your infrastructure. Subscribe now to get the latest right into your inbox. In some cases, a signature-based detection security software with malicious behavior monitoring could detect and remove the ransomware, but the data is lost regardless. If ransomware hits, data backups are critical for all businesses, because most likely the data will never be retrieved and it will be impossible to restore the system without formatting it. How Does CryptoLocker Work? CryptoLocker is a highly sophisticated malware strain but it can’t self-replicate, so hackers distributed the malware through a Trojan that replicated through infected email attachments and through the Gameover Zeus, (a peer-to-peer botnet built on ZeusTrojan). Gameover Zeus banking malware was allegedly responsible for over one million computer infections, according to FBI investigations. The emails appeared to be sent by a legitimate, reputable company and the attachments were ZIP files disguised as PDFs. Companies could be anything, such as online retailers, social media platforms, financial institutions, or shipping companies that allegedly sent an invoice, order tracking, or confirmation email. In some cases, CryptoLocker also was delivered through compromised plug-ins downloaded from suspicious websites. Once the payload was activated, CryptoLocker encrypted absolutely all hard drive data, including any information on devices connected to the infected machine, such as USB sticks, cloud-synced folders such as DropBox, and even company servers.” The malicious software tried to communicate with command and control servers, took over the user profile (documents and settings folder) and scanned the system for files such as spreadsheets, documents and AutoCAD design files stored on local and mounted network drives. Then it encrypted them with RSA public key cryptography, also known as asymmetric encryption. Public key cryptography is complex because it involves key pairs. It encrypts the files with the public key, and then creates a private key that decrypts them. Nobody but the hackers can access the decryption key. As it happens with any ransomware infection, after the system was encrypted, CryptoLocker victims were given between 72 and 100 hours to send a pre-paid cash voucher (MoneyPak) worth $400 or €400, or its equivalent in bitcoin. Ransomware is an incredibly profitable business. Industry sources claim CryptoLocker put some $30 million in the author’s pocket, in just 100 days in the wild. What You Can Do To Reduce Ransomware Infection Risks The problem with CryptoLocker is that it was too sophisticated to have a backdoor, so it’s best to be cautious now that CryptoLocker-derived variants are out there. Security researchers absolutely do not recommend giving in to this kind of extortion, as there may be other strategies to regain system access without paying ransom. Here are some tips on how to reduce infection risks: Did you receive an email from an unknown or unsolicited source? If you have no idea what the email is about or who the sender is, don’t click on the links in the body and don’t download any attachments. Recent ransomware campaigns against enterprises have been targeting departments such as HR, accounting and logistics. Train staff members and customers about online security risks and how to detect a phishing attempt. CryptoLocker ransomware also spread through a botnet, not just a Trojan hidden in an email. In this case, there is not much you can do because it means you already have other malware in the system which only made it easier to get a double dose of malicious software. The CryptoLocker ransomware attack reinforces the importance of data backups. Keep regular and updated backups of important data and store it in multiple sources, including offline, to recover the information and restore the system if your network is infected with ransomware. Restrict employee access to critical files and systems to reduce malware exposure in case of infection. Run regular software and firmware updates, as well as security patches of known vulnerable browser plugins such as Adobe Flash and Java, to reduce network vulnerabilities that could expose the network to malware infections. If you do see a message on your computer screen that you have fallen victim to ransomware, it’s important to remain calm and investigate the type of ransomware you’ve been exposed to. In some cases, it might just be scareware or a screen locker, so you can still access your files. If you care not able to access your files, you were probably hit by file-encrypting ransomware which cannot be ignored or removed by closing the message. To get rid of encrypting ransomware, try disconnecting the infected device from the internet to prevent the ransomware from spreading, and use a robust security solution to clean up your device and remove it. You can also reinstall your operating system. No matter which method is chosen, it is important to know that removing the ransomware means losing the files that were encrypted. Big industry names have released decryptors that can be found on their websites, and you can always check if a decryptor is available, provided you know the type of ransomware you are dealing with. Install an updated security solution to protect your infrastructure. Companies can choose server protection packages that include routine scans for susceptible points, hardened server configurations, antivirus, and malware cleanup and remediation. Stay Secure With Liquid Web Prepare for the worst with security solutions from Liquid Web, including storage and backup services, security and data protection, and more. For October Cybersecurity Awareness month, we prepared some video tips you can share with your team. The post A Deep Dive into CryptoLocker Ransomware Malware and How to Protect Yourself appeared first on Liquid Web.

Three Ways To Handle An Unresponsive Client

Is your agency plagued with clients that go unresponsive? From the client missing a deadline to third-party integration issues, there are all sorts of reasons a digital agency may run into project delays. But there is one above all others that drives agencies crazy more than any other—an unresponsive client. If you’ve been selling web design or development services for any length of time, you likely have had a client disappear and go MIA in the middle of a project, leaving you wondering what the heck is going on and stuck where you’re at unable to move the project forward. You likely have reached out by email and by phone multiple times and have received no response and are growing more frustrated with the disrespect and lack of regard for your time as each new day passes. Unresponsive clients are the most challenging clients because there isn’t a conflict to resolve or problem to solve, there’s just a missing client and no information as to why—and without the proper provisions in your website contract, your digital agency doesn’t have a clear path of action to deal with the missing client. Instead, you’re left holding the bag and waiting for them to show again. Don’t let that be you! Instead, be sure to include termination clauses in your website contract that dictate exactly how your digital agency will handle a client if they become unresponsive and how the client will be impacted. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more content for growing agencies sent straight to your inbox. In addition to the normal cancellation clause that enables you or your client to cancel the project at any time with 30 days notice and the payment of applicable fees, there are three termination clauses to consider including in your web design contract: Dormancy Clause A dormancy clause addresses what happens if or when a project falls dormant because the client disappears. It outlines the amount of time or grace period given to an unresponsive client, what will happen if a client disappears for a specific amount of time with no communication, and what is required of the client when they finally do show up again. Here is a sample dormancy clause: We understand that sometimes life happens and you may need to pause work on your project. That is completely acceptable if we are notified and made aware of your situation in advance. If your project goes more than 30 days without any forward progress or significant activity from your end, and no prior arrangements have been made with us and agreed to, your project will be put on hold and all associated files will be archived. Once your project has been archived, a $500.00 re-activation fee is required to restart your project and your project will be scheduled into our current workflow where space is available.” Cancellation Clause The cancellation clause takes the dormancy clause a step further, outlining exactly what happens if the project reaches the dormancy deadline, is archived, and the client remains MIA for a set amount of time. Here is a sample cancellation clause: If your project remains inactive for an additional 15 days past the 30 day dormancy period (45 days total) with no significant forward progress made, milestones reached, or prior arrangement in place, our engagement will expire, no refunds will be available, and you will forfeit all deliverables associated with this client agreement. Basically, if you disappear for 45 days, or delay the project with no forward movement and no communication for 45 days, this contract will be canceled and no refunds will be given.” Expiration Date A completely separate situation that can create problems for digital agencies are the clients who disappear and show up, then disappear and show up, and continually delay the project without making any significant progress. This usually happens when it’s time for the client to provide the final website content because the website is either not done yet or they haven’t started, they’re embarrassed, and they don’t want to admit it. This also happens at the end of a project when the final payment is due and they don’t have the funds to make the payment. Without the proper clause in your contract, you risk being held hostage by the client—and even though you’re unable to complete the project, it’s still on your project list, in your development account, and requiring your attention to care for and maintain. With this in mind, consider designating an expiration date at which the contract will automatically terminate. While this type of clause is often used in retainer contracts for ongoing design and development, where a contract may expire after 12 months with an option to renew, you can also use this clause to put a limit on how long a project can sit once specific milestones are met. Here is a sample expiration clause: Once the theme design and development has been completed, you have up to 90 days to work with our team to take the final approved website live. After 90 days, this contract will expire. At this time, you can renew your contract for the flat fee of $X to finish the project or choose to receive a zip file of your completed website.” What To Do When A Client Goes MIA Even with the proper contract clauses in place, your digital agency is still going to run into clients who disappear in the middle of a project. If this happens and you plan on enforcing your contract terms, it is critical that you take every action possible to re-engage the client and keep the project moving forward—and that you document every proactive step you take. Using the sample dormancy and cancellation clauses outlined above, here’s a sample outline of what you need to do—remember to screenshot or print every email sent and document every phone call made: At week one with no response: Send the client an email reminding them that it’s now been a week since you heard from them last and you’re waiting on them to move forward. Ask them to respond. At week two with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. If the client is local and has a place of business, stop in for a visit to see what’s going on. At week three with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. If the client is local and has a place of business, stop in for a visit to see what’s going on. If you’re connected on social media, consider reaching out via private message. Remind the client of the dormancy clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching dormancy. At 25 days with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. Remind the client of the dormancy clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Let them know the deadline is in five days. Again, communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching dormancy and the reactivation fee. At 30 days with no response: Draft an official letter on company letterhead notifying the client that their project has reached dormancy and what the implications are. Send the letter to the client by US Postal Service and by email. Consider calling the client to alert them of the change in project status as well. At 42 days with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. Remind the client of the cancellation clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Let them know the deadline is in three days. Again, communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching cancellation and losing out on the investment made in the project so far. At 45 days with no response: Draft an official letter on company letterhead notifying the client that their project has reached cancellation due to dormancy and what the implications are. Send the letter to the client by US Postal Service and by email. The Bottom Line When dealing with an unresponsive client, the goal of your digital agency should always be to re-engage the client, keep the project moving forward, and finish it off strong. Regular check-ins by phone and email, positive reminders of the contract clauses, and offers of support should do the trick, but if not, you can be confident in your actions with solid dormancy, cancellation, and expiration clauses in your contracts to fall back on. The post Three Ways To Handle An Unresponsive Client appeared first on Liquid Web.

Women in Technology: Nikki Remington

Liquid Web’s Marketing & Web Operations Manager on traveling her own path, her greatest influences, and keeping energy flowing. “Don’t let others create your story for you,” says Remington. “You have to be willing to make your life your own.” Give her a travel guide and self-help book and Nikki Remington is happy. “Two of my favorite books are The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” she says. These seem a good balance for the avid traveler— one is about streamlining your physical space, while the other is about getting rid of mental clutter that doesn’t serve you. The two combined seem to evoke Remington’s attitude towards life: get it done, and do it on your own terms. “Don’t let others create your story for you. You have to be willing to make your life your own,” says Remington. “You never know when life will take twists and turns. But if you are genuinely working on yourself all the time, the hard times seem more like challenges and less like roadblocks.” Remington’s life has its share of literal twists and turns, as well. She is rarely home on the weekends, known for just going— hopping in her car to drive, listening to music, and stopping to take photographs and explore beaches. She is from Okemos, a town outside of Lansing, Michigan. Though she loves to travel, Michigan is her home. She’s especially excited by the tech opportunities growing in the state on a daily basis. Remington first joined the world of tech in 2008 as an Advertising Specialist for a software company’s marketing team, where she quickly discovered her passion for marketing and analytics. “I was one of those people that would go home and keep working not because I had to, but because I genuinely loved it,” she says. “I just wanted to keep learning and testing new ideas.” This work ethic was an early illustration of Remington’s desire to constantly explore and learn. Remington has spent her career finding her passions, developing them, and sharing them. In 2013, she was featured on the Google Analytics homepage and was given the opportunity to share her passion for Marketing Analytics and advertising. “Over the years, I have partnered with Google to create case studies and learn from some of the best in the industry,” she says. “Granted over the two years it was on their homepage, we all got a little tired of seeing my face when you logged in, but it was fun!” Early in her career, Remington worked for an online real estate marketing company. One day, the CEO called her in to offer her a promotion in management. His explanation as to why he chose her for the role has always stuck with her. “He said there are two types of people— battery chargers and battery drainers. Leaders need to be battery chargers. They keep energy flowing and help their teams see the positive in their work. From that day on, I have really tried to focus on bringing energy as much as possible.” Remington now brings that energy to Liquid Web where she serves as the Marketing & Web Operations Manager, a role she has held for over three years. “I love tech because it’s always changing! The space is constantly growing and evolving, so you can’t get complacent. It keeps you on your toes,” she says. The important personal and professional influences in her life have been plentiful, but none so important as her 14-year-old daughter. “We are a little duo,” she says. “My daughter has unknowingly pushed me to be a better person— a better mom, coworker, manager, and marketer. I try to set a great example for her and show her what it means to work hard, play hard, and stay balanced.” Remington encourages those just starting out in technology to take risks. “You don’t want to look back someday and realize you played it too safe,” she says. Her other rules of thumb are to believe in yourself and listen to others, believe in the integrity of what you have to say and also listen with an open mind to those around you. True to her traveling spirit, Remington believes that encouraging young thinkers and doers to enter the tech field is about showing people what’s out there, the true breadth of the field. It’s about discovery and exploration. “I have a 14-year-old and I try to give her exposure as much as possible to different roles, different tools, and technology as a whole,” she says. “Being in the tech space doesn’t mean you just ‘work with computers’ and sit at a desk all day. There are so many options available and different roads to travel in this space. So explore!” The post Women in Technology: Nikki Remington appeared first on Liquid Web.

Introducing Your New and Improved Customer Portal

Our new customer portal features a mobile-friendly design, new navigation interfact, and relevant content only a fingertip away. Liquid Web is committed to ensuring that every one of our customers has a great interaction with our customer portal and we are excited to announce the launch of on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019. We have fully rebuilt the portal to feature a new, sleek design. This redesign is not only easy on the eye but reworks the navigation to be much easier to use. We are really excited about these upgrades because they were made with direct input from many customers’ points of view. This launch is a beta release, with about 70 percent functionality of the current portal. We will continue to add functionality as time goes on, but we didn’t want to hold something back this good for too long! The current portal will also remain online so that you can easily switch back and forth between the old view to the new view. Some updates you can expect to find: Mobile-First Design – Same great experience on tablet or mobile phone! Active Incidents and the Latest News on the Login Page Topical Help Articles on Every Page List of Recommended Actions so You Can Get to the Place You Need Fast View of Open Support Tickets From the Home Page New Invoice – Simpler and Much Easier to Read and Understand The new portal has improved navigation and has more relevant content readily available. Mobile-first view makes it easy to manage your server and account from your phone or tablet. The new portal will be available to all our Hosting and Cloud Sites customers on October 30th, 2019. Customers can access the newly improved portal either by directly going to starting on October 30th, 2019, or logging in normally and clicking the My Liquid Web Beta button. Managed Application customers can request access to the Beta via ticket. As always, the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting™ are standing by for any questions you may have. Reach out to us by phone, chat, or ticket. We are here to help! The post Introducing Your New and Improved Customer Portal appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Migrate from cPanel to Interworx

We give the exact steps and preparations you need to make to complete a migration from cPanel to Interworx, Liquid Web’s newest control panel. InterWorx is poised to be a game changer for cPanel users. With good feature parity and a non-scaling license cost, SMB customers who do not use the edge case features of cPanel can potentially save money by switching to InterWorx. Additionally, InterWorx has an import feature that will take backups from cPanel servers and restore them as valid InterWorx accounts, making migrations to the platform simpler. This article will show you how to prepare for an easy migration, and final testing, to Interworx. Potential Blockers Even though the core features are similar, there are some potential blockers that could prevent clean import of cPanel accounts. Most importantly, database prefixing is required in InterWorx, as this is the mechanism used to map databases to accounts inside of the control panel. Most cPanel databases should already have username prefixing, but some may not, depending on when they were created. Additionally, because of a difference in mail software, single character mailboxes are not permitted (though single character aliases are). Further, though the panel supports multiple concurrent PHP versions for different accounts and domains, the oldest available PHP version is currently 5.4, so sites utilizing older versions may need to upgrade their code in order to function well using InterWorx. Preparing Your cPanel Accounts In order to restore cleanly into InterWorx, any issues discovered as listed above will need to be addressed. The database naming will be one of the most important, and can be accomplished using WHM’s ‘Manage Databases’ and ‘Manage Database Users’ features (found under ‘SQL Services’). Databases and their users can be renamed here, but any configuration files that connect to these databases will need to be altered to use the new names. For instance, let’s say we have an account called ‘maria’ which uses WordPress. Because database prefixing is disabled in our WHM install, it’s database is ‘wp29’ and the user is ‘wpuser’. Using the Manage Databases tool, the database will need to be renamed to ‘maria_wp29’, and using Manage Database Users, the user will need to change to ‘maria_wpuser’. Then, in the wp-config.php file for maria, which would be at /home/maria/public_html/wp-config.php, the DB_NAME and DB_USER will need to be updated to the proper new values. This rename can also be accomplished through the command line using whmapi1’s rename_mysql_database and rename_mysql_user tools. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter and get more content on infrastructure optimization sent to your inbox weekly. Packaging Your cPanel Accounts Once any potential restoration conflicts have been taken care of, cPanel accounts can be packaged for transfer. This is best accomplished through the command line pkgacct tool, by passing the username of the account you wish to copy. These packages are full backups of individual cPanel accounts, and you should make sure you have enough free disk space to store such a backup for each account you will be copying. In our example, we will package the user ‘maria’: /scripts/pkgacct maria /home/ This should place a file called cpmove-maria.tar.gz into your /home/ directory on the cPanel server. Repeat this procedure for each account on your server you wish to migrate to InterWorx. Once you have all of the packages you need, they can be copied to your InterWorx server. Log into the InterWorx machine as root and run this command to copy the packaged accounts from your cPanel server (assuming IP address scp*.tar.gz /home/ This will log into the cPanel machine, grab all of the cpmove files we made before, and put them in /home/ on the new server. Restoring Your cPanel Accounts Now that we have all of the cPanel data in packages on the new machine, we will start restoring them to create hosting accounts in InterWorx. Here is how the command will look: /usr/local/interworx/bin/import.pex --control-panel cpanel --ipv4 --archive /home/cpmove-maria.tar.gz | tee -a /home/maria.import.log It’s a bit of a longer command, so let’s break it down. First, there is the command itself, which is import.pex. This is the InterWorx account import script, which will actually accept backups from a few different control panel types. This is why we have to declare the control panel source in the next flag, which in this case is cPanel. Next, the script has to know what IP we want to restore the domains to, which is in our example. This should be a shared IP on the InterWorx server if you are restoring multiple accounts. Finally, we want to give the restore script the path to our cPanel backup file, which is /home/cpmove-maria.tar.gz for the ‘maria’ user. After all of that, there is a ‘pipe’, which puts the output of the import.pex command into another command we can use to create a log file. In this case, the command is ‘tee’, which will duplicate the output, put one of the copies onto your screen, and another copy into /home/maria.import.log. This way, once the restore is done, you can still reference the output at that file, in case you need to review any errors. The full command will extract the file that we passed, use its cPanel logic to restore all of the domains, email accounts, SSLs, databases, database users, and so on contained within, and then start hosting that (those) domain(s) on the IP address we specified. Testing Your Sites After the import command completes, you’ll be able to test the sites on the new server using your favorite testing method. Mine is hosts file editing, which you can read about more at our Knowledge Base article. This is a much more accurate method than most other available options. Generally, you would create a line like this for each of your domains: …and then add that line to the end of the hosts file on your workstation or computer. Then, you should be able to test the site by browsing to it, without having to affect public DNS or use a less accurate proxy service. Check out the link above for more detailed instructions for your OS. While testing the new server, generally you want to be sure that sites load and aren’t missing any elements or giving any errors. If you do find some errors, the global apache and php logs are located at /etc/httpd/logs/, which can give you more details on what the problem might be. There are separate logs for https traffic (ssl_error_log) and non-https traffic (error_log). Additionally, every domain can write to its own local error log. These are stored at /home/maria/var/ for our sample account. These logs are combined for https and non-https traffic. You are also free to reach out to our support team with any issues or questions you might have, 24/7. Going Live To shift traffic from the old cPanel server to your new InterWorx server, all that is needed is a DNS update of all of the records that are referencing the old machine. In most cases, there is a single A record that points to the IP address of the source server ( in our example) which will need to be altered to the new IP ( Before we can change any records, you will need to discover where your DNS is hosted. There are many possibilities, but I’ll highlight a few of the common ones. First, you might use Liquid Web’s shared nameservers, in which case you can update DNS through under the Domains > DNS tab. You might also use some 3rd party nameservers, such as at your registrar or at CloudFlare. In that case, you would do the same thing, except through their interface: log in, locate the DNS zonefile for the domain, and then change all of the IPs to the new one. The final common possibility is that you have DNS hosted on the source cPanel server itself, with custom nameservers. While the main process of logging into WHM and changing the zonefile is similar, you will also need to affect the Nameserver Glue records at your nameserver’s main domain’s registrar. Otherwise, DNS will continue to be hosted by the cPanel server even after the new server goes live, and terminating the old server would cause your sites to go down. The process varies depending on where you registered your nameservers, but every registrar should be able to help you make glue record changes, so that the InterWorx server can start hosting DNS for you. And, that’s it! After A records are updated, traffic should start flowing to the new server, completing your migration. Looking for a VPS with InterWorx pre-installed and ready to go? Try our Liquid Web VPS packages or chat with a specialist today! The post How to Migrate from cPanel to Interworx appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Write a Small Business Shipping Policy

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

10 Tips To Improve Your Website Mobile Experience

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

What is DRBD?

Implementing a Linux DRBD can be highly complex, but enables High Availability systems that can save businesses money. Find out how DRBD works. Did you know that it is possible for your server to crash while your website remains online? Highly reliable databases are critical for online services to function in the event of a catastrophe. Therefore deploying dedicated High Availability Databases ensures they remain available, even if one node crashes. DRBD: A Highly Available Tool That Can Help This is where tools such as Distributed Replicated Block Device (DRBD) come in, enabling automatic failover capabilities to prevent downtime. With a Distributed Replicated Block Device, whenever new data is written to disk, the block device uses the network to replicate data to the second node. Through redundancy, businesses can protect themselves from downtime and financial loss, and get minimal to zero interruption during software and framework-related operations. High Availability Database Hosting is ideal for mission-critical databases such as healthcare, government, eCommerce, big data or SaaS. Complex infrastructures can be hard to manage, but a DRBD delivers improved resiliency and optimizes disaster recovery, making them worth a significant investment. In traditional architectures, all it takes for hardware shutdown is for one component to crash.” In a High Availability environment, when a server crashes due to a hardware or software failure, the second server where all data has been replicated becomes active and takes over the workload. Thus, the hot spare ensures full redundancy and resilience. Learn more about how HA infrastructure can help your business. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Different Types of Highly Available Storage DRBD is Linux-based open source software at the kernel level, on which High Availability clusters are built. It is a good solution for data clusters to replace solid state drives (SSD) storage solutions with low capacity. Easily integrated in any infrastructure including cloud, DRBD is used to mirror data, logical volumes, file systems, RAID devices (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) and block devices (HDD partitions) across the network to multiple servers in real time, through different types of replication. The other hosts need to have the same amount of free disk space in the hard drive disk partition as the primary node. DRBD uses a block file to synchronize a number of tasks, including the two independent HDD partitions in the active and passive servers for read and write operations. When the hot standby takes over, there is zero downtime because it already contains a copy of all data. Remember, high availability is all about removing single points of failure from your infrastructure.” What is a Hot Standby or Secondary Node? The hot server is a backup that allows load balancing to remove single points of failure. In active/passive mode, read and write (access or alter from memory) operations are run in the primary node. An all-round tool, DRBD can add high availability to just about any application. DRBD can also work in an active/active environment, in particular as a popular approach to enabling load balancing in high availability (HA) cluster configurations. In this mode, servers run simultaneously so read and write operations are run on both servers at the same time, a process also known as shared-disk mode. DRBD is an enterprise-grade tool that simplifies the replacement of data storage and increases data availability.” DRBD supports both synchronous and asynchronous write operations, which will be further discussed below in relation to the three protocol setups. In synchronous data replication, notifications are only delivered after write operations are finalized on all hosts, while in asynchronous replication applications receive notifications only of locally finalized operations, before the process moves on to other hosts. Primary and Secondary Nodes Commonly, in a small-scale High Availability two redundant node-scenario, one is active (primary) and one is inactive (secondary), also known as a hot standby that already has a copy of the data through network mirroring and replication provided by DRBD. They are both connected to a single IP configuration, which means the hot spare will immediately take over operations in case of hardware failure. The switchover does not affect the High Availability databases, which remain 100% available. How Does DRBD Replication Actually Work? DRBD architecture is made up of two separate segments that ensure high-availability storage; the kernel module for DRBD behavior and user administrative tools to operate DRBD disks. Because this architecture enables database mirroring and data replication through both synchronous and asynchronous write operations, DRBD is a flexible, virtual block device that can run on three replication protocols, known as Protocol A, Protocol B and Protocol C. All data replication is network transparent (invisible) to other applications using the same protocol. Protocol A constitutes asynchronous replication that can generate some data loss if host failover is forced. As previously explained, asynchronous data replication means that local write operations on the primary node (active/passive server situation) are considered achieved when local write operations are finished, and the mirrored data is available in the send buffer of the TCP transport framework. This setup is more common in replicating stacked resources in a wide area network. Protocol B involves memory synchronous (semi-sync) replication. In this deployment, no data is usually lost in failover. Local operations on the primary node are considered achieved once local disk write is complete, and the replicated data is available in the second node. Finalized write operations on the primary node may be deleted, however, if both nodes crash and data storage on the primary node is destroyed. This protocol is a variation of protocols A and C, and an example of how versatile DRBD can be in replication modes. Protocol C covers synchronous replication of local write operations and is the most popular scenario in production data replication. In this case, replication operations are considered achieved when replication confirmation is received on local and remote disks. DRBD is configured to use Protocol C by default, therefore to change the protocol setup reconfiguration in the file is necessary. To confirm that the two hosts are indeed identical and all data was replicated, DRBD moves hashes and not data, which saves time and bandwidth. In “split brain” situations in which node communication failures result in two hosts both being mistakenly identified as the primary hosts, DRBD leverages a recovery algorithm that ensures there is no inconsistent storage. Managed Hosting Can Help With Complex Infrastructures and DRBD High Availability DRBD is workload agnostic and a great open-source tool with features that enable it to work as a kernel module, certain userspace management applications and shell scripts. Organizations interested in DRBD virtual disks can take advantage of the open-source status and alter the software to accommodate their needs and applications. Managing a complex infrastructure is not a task many businesses want on their plate, but Liquid Web can build and manage custom hosting environments to ensure peak performance, reduce team effort spent on configuration and achieve business objectives. Not all companies have the proper resources to configure DRBD for their infrastructure, however they can always rely on a managed service provider like Liquid Web to do the heavy lifting for High Availability, especially when its product offering includes enterprise-grade tools such as DRBD software and Heartbeat. Get Your Free High Availability Checklist Today The post What is DRBD? appeared first on Liquid Web.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes

What the cheapest way to ship clothes? Depends on how you package, how you fold, and the shipper you use, among other factors. See how to keep costs low. When you’re shipping clothing purchases to your customers, there are several considerations that can impact postage price. You’ll need to make some decisions about the presentation of your products, your brand image, how quickly you want products to arrive, and other key factors. All things considered, retailers can make an effective plan for shipping their products quickly and affordably by doing a little research and looking for the right customer experience. Quick Answer: The Cheapest Way to Ship a Shirt and Other Small Clothing Items Comparing different shipping methods for the same basic item allows you to start comparing prices and methods. Let’s start with a quick example. How much does it cost to ship a shirt? For FedEx and UPS, a small shipment like one T-shirt may exceed the envelope rate that is designed for letters, so these pricing comparisons assume you’re using a small box. USPS First Class Mail (generally 2 to 3 Days) large envelope under 1 pound: $2.66 to $5.54 USPS Priority Mail 2-Day Flat Rate 12 1/2 inch x 9 1/2 inch envelope: $7.35 to $8 retail rate USPS Priority Mail 2-Day Flat Rate 8 5/8 inch by 5 3/8 inch by 1 5/8 inch box: $7.90 retail rate UPS Ground (4 Days) for 8 5/8 inch by 5 3/8 inch by 1 5/8 inch box: $11 FedEx Ground (4 Days) for 8 5/8 inch by 5 3/8 inch by 1 5/8 inch box: $11 In this example, we’re sending a shirt from downtown San Francisco to downtown Chicago. USPS First Class Mail is cheapest overall at around the $5 mark, or even less depending on weight. Using an envelope or small box with USPS is roughly equivalent in price. In this case, either the envelope or the small Flat Rate box would get you postage at around $8. The envelope is still slightly cheaper, so If you’re shipping a large number of packages you may save some money using envelopes. That said, there’s a lot more to consider when you’re planning your shipments. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store. What’s the Cheapest Method of Shipping Clothing to Customers? Since there are several mail carriers delivering packages throughout the U.S. and internationally, it may seem tough to choose one for your shipping. There’s no one right answer here. Your costs depend on a variety of factors, one of which is the type of apparel you’re shipping. There’s a big difference between heavy, bulky items and lightweight, small items, for instance. That said, it’s a good idea to choose example items and consider what the shipping process would look like for them. For this discussion, we will focus primarily on the three major U.S. carriers, USPS, UPS and FedEx. If you are shipping internationally or to parts of the country where other carriers are of interest, you may want to do more comparison shopping for your shipments. How to Save Money With Your Packaging Your brand and customer experience are another important consideration. For some apparel retailers, part of the buying experience includes receiving a package with thoughtful touches, personalization, and delightful extras. Others pack purchases carefully but with a preference for cost reduction and efficiency. Consider the following 12 tips and pack your clothes with shipping costs in mind: Avoid extra cushioning Choose rigid packaging to protect delicate clothing items Pack inside inexpensive poly mailers Ship items together Weigh your packages as you pack to help you make adjustments Fold clothes carefully before packing Email receipts instead of including printed materials Ship using the smallest package possible Compare “by weight” costs with flat-rate services Consider USPS Flat Rate Priority shipping for distant destinations or heavy packages Look for volume discounts Offer a distinct premium experience as an add-on Even if you do everything in your power to control costs and standardize the packaging process, you will probably still find a great degree of variance in your shipping expenses. This is why you may want to use a shipping service or multiple carriers, depending on your sales volume. Shipping Clothes Through USPS USPS can be more affordable for shipping some items, particularly lightweight items. If your packages are under one pound, you can probably use First Class Mail for your shipments. Your costs may be higher if you send to a more distant recipient or send heavier packages. If you can, look for opportunities to use Flat Rate shipping and get volume discounts. First Class Mail and Shipping Clothes USPS offers a First Class Mail service as an economical alternative for small and light letters and packages. If your clothing orders are small enough, you can probably use First Class for most shipments. Pricing is determined by weight and distance, so keep a small scale handy for weighing your orders before sending them out. Expect to pay more for shipping to a distant “zone.” That’s Post Office parlance for destination distance. To determine how much you’re charged based on shipping distance, the USPS considers the “shipping from” and “shipping to” zones. The furthest possible distance that’s still considered domestic is zone nine, while zone one distances are close to you. You can use your zip code to determine how this is calculated by using the USPS Domestic Zone Chart. If you’re shipping a package that weighs at or above one pound, though, you should consider Flat Rate or alternative carriers instead. USPS only allows First Class shipping for packages up to 15.99 ounces. So if you’re shipping two shirts, weigh the package first. Flat Rate and Shipping Apparel For clothing retailers, there are several big advantages to USPS. It may offer more options and different ways to plan your shipping costs. Flat Rate boxes allow you to ship using Priority Mail and get items to your customers quickly and for a reasonable rate. You have a consistent postage cost for orders and could pass along a discount or incentivize shoppers to order more with the same rate. These rates may compare favorably with UPS and FedEx. How to Get the Lowest USPS Rates on Shipping Apparel Rates may be the lowest with USPS if you’re using the carrier to ship packages that weigh less than three pounds or if you use a volume discount. Using an envelope, you may be able to ship small apparel orders without much of an issue. Volume discounts of up to 40 percent off may be an option if you use a shipping management platform such as Shipping Easy or Pirate Ship and qualify for USPS Commercial Pricing. These prices are normally only available to retailers who send a large volume of packages every year, but small businesses can access these discounts if they use a third party for shipping. Additional Considerations With USPS Shipping However, although USPS does have a wide range of services and rates for shipping, you do have to think strategically about how you use USPS shipping. One example of this is Flat Rate service. The fixed price is a bigger benefit if you’re shipping heavy items than if you’re shipping lightweight ones like apparel. Shipping Clothes Through UPS Another carrier worth considering for shipping clothes is UPS. Their UPS Ground service takes 1 to 5 days to ship a package within the U.S. for what is usually a reasonable cost. You have a wide range of shipping options and pricing, too, if you need to ship internationally or change your shipping speed. UPS can also be a good option for shipping more unusual apparel needs, such as large boxes containing elaborate wedding dresses. Since USPS has specific limits on sizing and weight, and may not offer as many choices on when your items arrive, you may get more flexibility with UPS shipping that may make it easier to provide customers with a unique experience. When you ship clothing items, UPS recommends that you use their time and cost tool to help you determine the best level of service for your shipment. Shipping Clothes Through FedEx Shipping through FedEx is another option, particularly if you want your items to cover a greater distance or arrive quickly. Like UPS, FedEx provides a wide range of shipping options and offers you the choice of having the carrier assist with packaging. Their custom shipping solutions may be worthwhile if you have unique shipping needs. Pricing depends on weight, distance, and the type of shipping service and options you choose. Estimate your shipping rates with FedEx to see how much you can expect to pay. How Should I Pack Clothes for Shipping? Clothes don’t usually require much special handling or packaging consideration. In fact, you can probably pack a lot of your orders in envelopes and keep costs low. That said, there are packing strategies that can help you keep your items more presentable, help you control costs, protect sensitive items, or make the most of your shipping. Packing clothing is largely dependent on the type of item you’re selling. Consider the fabric type, decorative additions, and other details before you pack. Packing Casual Apparel Lightweight, casual fabrics may not require much protection at all. Keep them neatly folded to minimize wrinkles and provide a positive first impression upon arrival. You could use the KonMari Method. If you’re packing several items together, use a box. To pack individual shirts: Carefully fold the shirt to fit the packaging you’re using. You can roll the shirt to prevent wrinkles. A plastic bag should be enough protection for a single shirt. Place it inside the bag. Seal the plastic bag. Tape works well. Place the plastic bag inside a poly mailer. Place a shipping label on the outside of the mailer. To pack jeans or other pants: Fold the pair of pants at least three or four times and make sure you’re not wrinkling them in the process. Use a plastic bag to protect the item during transit. Place the plastic bag in a poly mailer. Choose a poly mailer that’s large enough to fit the item and suitable for the item’s weight. For some products, you may need a box instead. Place the label. Packing Formal Clothes Formal clothing items may require some special handling and protection. Wedding dresses, formal gowns and tuxedos are all apparel items you may need to pack more carefully to ensure they arrive in excellent condition. Expensive items may also need high-touch treatment when packing. In these cases, you’ll probably have to use a larger package with good cushioning. To pack a formal item: Choose a box large enough to contain the item without squishing decorative details or specialized fabrics. Avoid using such a big box that the item has a lot of space to move around in and become damaged. Place the item inside the box. If you fold it first, wrap it in tissue paper. Add packing and cushioning material to protect decorative details. Improve the Customer Experience Behind Your Shipping Free shipping is an increasingly popular promotion for online stores to run, but that doesn’t mean it’s free for you as a seller. If you’re offering free shipping, it’s absolutely imperative that you save money wherever you can. Even if you’re not offering free shipping to customers, it’s important to reduce shipping costs for your clothing items. After all, you don’t want to see customers add your products to their carts, only to abandon the process when they see shipping costs. At the very least, going through the process of researching affordable shipping will ensure that you’re giving customers accurate estimates of what it will cost to ship their purchases, saving money for everyone involved. By shipping quickly and keeping your items in good condition during transit, you can improve your customer experience and keep shoppers happy. Experiment with different packaging, methods, and shipping carriers to see what works best for your brand. In addition to the shipping strategies we’ve listed here, find out the four keys to generating $1,000,000 or more for your store. The post The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes appeared first on Liquid Web.

How Does a Clustered Server Environment Help Businesses Save Money?

Server clusters of different types and numbers of nodes can boost your network uptime, performance, compliance, and scalability. Almost all businesses rely on online services for critical business processes, if not directly for revenue. Downtime and performance disruptions represent lost productivity and sales, along with mitigation, reputation, and other costs. The real cost of tech glitches and outdated technology could mean millions. For this reason, a large and growing number of businesses make a modest investment in upgrading their infrastructure to an architecture based on server clusters. What is a Server Cluster? A server cluster is a unified group of servers, distributed and managed under a single IP address, which serves as a single entity to ensure higher availability, proper load balancing, and system scalability. Each server is a node with its own storage (hard drive), memory (RAM), and processing (CPU) resources to command. A two-node cluster, for instance, means that if one server crashes, the second will immediately take over. Ideally, multiple web and app nodes are utilized to guarantee hardware redundancy. This kind of architecture, known as a high-availability cluster, prevents downtime if component failure hits. This is especially true if the OS fails, which does not have redundancy in a single-standing server. Users will not even know that the server crashed. In addition, there are two usual types of server clusters – manual and automatic. Manual clusters are not an ideal solution because the manual configuration of a node to the same data IP and address comes with downtime. Even a 2 to 5-minute downtime could be critical for a business, let alone cost money. On the other hand, when automatic clusters are deployed, an automatic switchover takes place as a result of previously configured software to carry out the switch. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for tips on infrastructure optimization. Why are Server Clusters Deployed? Server clusters are often deployed by businesses in order to avoid downtime and maintain system accessibility, even in the event of a critical hardware failure. For many businesses suffering from performance degradation, splitting off the database server can also enable fast and uninterrupted performance for high-volume workloads. What are the Types of Server Clusters? There are four types of server clusters, each meeting different business objectives and infrastructure needs. 1. High Availability (HA) Server Clusters High Availability (HA) clusters are an optimal choice for high traffic websites, such as online shops or applications, to ensure critical systems remain reliable for optimal, continuous performance. High availability clusters avoid single points-of-failure, because they are built on redundant hardware and software. They are critical for load balancing, system backups and failover, which combine to deliver full-time availability and ensure continuous website operation. Comprised of multiple hosts ready to take over when a server shuts down, High Availability clusters guarantee minimal downtime in case of overload or server failure. High Availability clusters can have two different architectures, either Active – Active or Active – Passive. An Active-Active cluster means all nodes work simultaneously to balance loads. On the other hand, an Active-Passive architecture means a primary node handles all workload, while a second is waiting to take over in case of downtime. When one component crashes, a secondary server, known as a hot spare or hot standby, immediately takes over, because the database from the primary server has already been replicated to other nodes. This is a lower-cost implementation compared to Active-Active. High Availability clusters ensure reliability, seamless scalability, more efficient maintenance and robust infrastructure security. Not only will users benefit from an enhanced website experience, but High Availability clusters help save costs through reduced downtime. 2. Load Balancing Clusters Load Balancing clusters are a server farm that distributes user requests to multiple active nodes to accelerate operations, ensure redundancy, reduce network congestion and overload, and improve workload distribution. Load balancing is a very important use case for server clusters. Requests are handled by the load balancing software, which directs them to different servers, according to a set of rules or an algorithm, and then handles the outgoing response. Load balancing allows for separation of functions and division of workloads between servers to maximize the utilization and availability of resources. High Availability clusters, for example, use a load balancer in an active-active configuration to respond to different requests and then distribute them to all independent servers. Workload distribution, in this case, can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, depending on configurations and computer performance. In an active-passive High Availability cluster, the load balancer monitors nodes’ availability, so in case one shuts down, it doesn’t send any more traffic to it until it is fully operational again. Load balancing architecture also allows the use of multiple links at the same time, a feature that is very useful in an infrastructure with redundant communication. This type of architecture is extensively deployed by telecommunications companies and in datacenters to reduce costs, optimize high-bandwidth data transfers, and accomplish great scalability and availability. 3. High Performance and Clustered Storage A High-Performance cluster is made up of many computers connected to the same network to perform a task. High-Performance clusters are connected to data storage clusters, and together make up a complex architecture that can process data extremely fast. Storage and networking components have to keep up with each other for seamless performance and high-speed data transfer. Also known as supercomputers, High-Performance clusters are not as common as High Availability and Load Balancing clusters, but they are used by businesses working with resource-intensive workloads to increase performance, capacity, and reliability. They are widely used with IoT (Internet of Things) and AI technology because they facilitate innovation for projects such as live streaming, storm prediction, or patient diagnosis, and provide real-time data processing. They are heavily deployed in research labs, for media and entertainment, and in the financial industry, among many other industries. 4. Clustered Storage Clustered storage consists of at least two storage servers that scale performance, node space I/O (input/output) and reliability. Depending on business requirements and storage demands, clustered storage can be deployed in either a tightly coupled architecture, directed at primary storage and with data separated into very small blocks between nodes, or loosely coupled architecture that is self-contained, doesn’t store data across nodes, and delivers more flexibility. In a loosely coupled architecture, performance and capacity are limited to the capabilities of the node storing the data. Unlike tightly coupled architecture, in this setup scalability with new nodes is not an option. Why Should a Business Invest in Server Clusters? In the long run, investing in server clusters will save money that can be put to great use somewhere else. A clustered environment will manage hardware failures, as well as application and website failures to ensure uptime and availability, saving engineering efforts and potentially drastically reducing the costs associated with system recovery. When functions from network connection to storage all run on an individual server, businesses often deploy a clustered multi-server architecture to significantly improve flexibility and scalability. A single server can be scaled to accommodate increasing resource demand, as it is generally simpler for businesses to deploy an additional node to an existing cluster, particularly with a managed solution that enables them to do so with a phone call. Another key motivation driving investment in cluster solutions are availability and fast response. A clustered environment not only ensures hardware redundancy and uptime with High Availability clusters, but a cluster with a dedicated database server can have a major impact on website or application speed and performance, while also increasing the number of simultaneous connections supported. Certain regulations, such as PCI-DSS, also require databases containing financial information to be stored on a server which does not directly connect to the internet, making a server cluster a practical necessity for compliance. To make sure customers can reach a company’s services at all times, the network needs to have built-in redundancy, and the servers need to act as a single system. A clustered environment will actually lower IT costs and maintain the server fully operational because they provide continuous uptime. The clustered servers are configured to work together on a single network to reduce risk vulnerability and boost network performance. Businesses of all sizes should consider investing in a clustered server architecture because it will help them better manage processes, from networking services to end-user experience and other business workloads. All these workloads are assigned to applications, and they are rolled out on separate servers that communicate with each other and stay in sync in real-time. To eliminate single points of failure, a business can have as few as two and as many as hundreds of servers in the clustered environment. Each company can benefit from a custom-built infrastructure, specifically engineered for its workload. Look for a reputable service provider that offers help from experienced professional to determine the specific architecture that will most cost-effectively deliver the stability and consistency benefits of server clusters. Downtime is Expensive Research firm Gartner announced in 2014 that the average cost of network downtime was $5,600 per minute, resulting in an average hourly cost of more than $300,000. More recent global reports from Statista show that in 2017, 24 percent of respondents spent anywhere between $301,000 and 400,000 on one hour of downtime. An unlucky 14 percent actually ended up spending $5 million or more. In five of the most expensive and high-profile examples of hefty downtime, lost $220,318.80 per minute, lost $40,771.20 per minute, and Home Depot, Best Buy, and Costco all lost more than $10,000 per minute. If there is one lesson to be learned from these events, it’s that CTOs and CIOs should be concerned about downtime, the cost it will generate for their business, and how it will affect their company’s reputation and customer experience. Server clusters are a critical investment any business should consider adding in their budget for 2020, if it depends on reliable IT services. A clustered environment will boost performance, and ensure infrastructure availability, scalability, and reliability. Get a Complete Checklist to Ensure Your Website is Always Online The post How Does a Clustered Server Environment Help Businesses Save Money? appeared first on Liquid Web.

Why Your WordPress Business Needs A Niche And How To Choose One

Learn why you need to narrow your focus and specialize in a niche and get three strategies for choosing a business niche for your WordPress agency. Imagine that you’re a doctor finally pursuing the dream of starting your own medical practice and you need a website. You do some research online and find two local web designers. One is generalist who sells “results-driven websites” and the other is a designer who has a business niche in “websites for health and wellness professionals.” Which option is more likely to win your business? The second! The second option poses less risk and sounds more appealing because the message is tailored to you, a health and wellness professional. Working with someone who specializes in your type of business and understands your needs feels safer and smarter. As a generalist marketing to everyone, it is difficult to create effective marketing campaigns, capture the attention of prospective clients, and craft content that resonates on an emotional level. Marketing to everyone makes the audience do all the work to figure out if you’re the right choice. Because generalists have to work harder at attracting new clients, they have to spend more time and money on lead generation and client attraction. On the other hand, as a specialist marketing to a specific business niche, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that deeply resonate with your audience, capture their attention, and persuade them to take the next step. When marketing to a business niche, you’re doing all of the work to communicate exactly who is a perfect fit for your services. Because specialists have more clarity about who they serve, what they do, and the results they create, lead generation and client attraction is easier and faster, which means it takes less effort and less money. When you stop trying to market to everyone and instead narrow your focus and choose a niche, it also becomes easier for others to send you referrals and new business because they know exactly what type of clients you want and what type of businesses you can best help. The Myth About Choosing A Niche The idea of narrowing your focus and choosing a niche for your business can be scary, especially if you’re already struggling to win clients and land new business. It can also feel incredibly limiting, which doesn’t really make sense if you don’t have enough clients as it is. Luckily, choosing a niche and narrowing your focus only feels scary and limiting because you’re thinking about it the wrong way. Think about the two web designers I mentioned above. Which one would you rather be: the generalist who isn’t the obvious choice for anyone or the specialist who is obviously the best choice for health and wellness professionals? I’m guessing that you said the specialist. Choosing a niche doesn’t limit who you can and can’t work with, it doesn’t alienate potential clients or turn people away, and it doesn’t take away potential opportunities. What it does is positions you as the best choice. Think of the client attraction process as a game of darts. In the game of darts, hitting the bulls eye wins you the most points. As the rings on the target get larger and move outward, their point value decreases—but you still earn points for hitting them. In client attraction, marketing to your niche is like hitting the bulls eye and landing the perfect client or project. However, your marketing efforts may also resonate with people who aren’t a perfect match for your niche but still want to work with you. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter for more great ideas on how to make your WordPress site profitable. The Reality Of Choosing A Niche Defining a niche isn’t meant to limit your options — it’s simply meant to focus your message and marketing so you can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Narrowing the focus of your WordPress business doesn’t mean you have to put constraints on your business. When you lead with a primary service or niche offer, it makes it easy for prospects to say “I need that” and hire you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer other services as well. For example, at my agency Bourn Creative, our focus and marketing efforts are centered around building complex, custom WordPress websites and working on retainer for large-scale existing WordPress websites. But we’re a full service agency at heart. So while we lead with the WordPress work to get clients in the door, we are able to support our clients further by providing a complete menu of design services. Also, choosing a niche for your WordPress business isn’t something you have to stick with forever: Your niche is simply a tool to help you connect with prospects and get new clients in the door. It doesn’t mean you have to turn people away who don’t align with your niche. Your niche is flexible. As you grow and evolve as a business owner, your niche may also grow and evolve with you. Or if you find that a niche isn’t working out, change it! Your niche can expand. Once you have established your brand in one niche and built a strong reputation, you can expand your brand to serve a complementary niche. Three Ways To Choose A Niche Most people, when talking about narrowing the focus of your business or choosing a niche, are talking about selecting an ideal client and defining an ideal client persona. The success of this approach is undeniable, but many business owners have trouble identifying just one ideal client. That’s why I’m sharing three different ways to niche your WordPress business below. Niche By Ideal Client The most common approach to narrowing your focus and choosing a niche is to identify an ideal client you want to work with. An ideal client is a client who understands your value, is happy to pay your worth, and is excited to work with you. With this approach, you need to create an ideal client profile or persona—a representation of your real life, perfect-fit clients—and have a deep understanding of exactly who they are. This will require data gathering and research on things such as: Demographics: Objective, factual, statistical data like age, gender, ethnicity, income, mortgage amount, homeowner/renter, marital status, geographic location, number of children, vehicle type, occupation, and education level. Psychographics: Data about attitudes, aspirations, interests, lifestyle, and other psychological criteria that explains why clients buy from you and what their motivation is to buy. This may include mindset and attitude, beliefs and opinions, goals and dreams, interests, hobbies, how they spend their free time, personality and values, lifestyle and priorities, how they spend their money, and worries and fears. Behavior Analysis: Data on the behavior and actions taken in relation to what you are selling, including the types of email they open most, what blog posts are most read, what social media posts have the most shares, and real client feedback. It can also include sales spikes, why repeat customers continue to buy and what motivated new customers, how prospects gather information before making a purchase, and how are they affected by price, quality, convenience, and prestige. Once you understand who your ideal client is, you can tailor your brand, marketing, and messaging to speak directly to them so they feel understood and are more easily able to connect with your offer. Niche By Ideal Service Many freelancer and business owners struggle to define their niche by ideal client because they don’t have just one type of client they work with. Instead, they work with a wide variety of clients performing a very specific service. In this case, you can niche by ideal service instead of ideal client. When you niche by ideal service or ideal offer, you’re positioning yourself as a specialist and narrowing your offers to what you do best—better than anyone else. And while you’re only offering those services, you are willing to perform those services for anyone who needs them. Here are three examples of businesses that niche by service: Plumbers: Offers only plumbing services to anyone who needs plumbing help. They may even niche further by only offering residential plumbing services. Web Designers: Choose to only build custom WordPress websites, but are willing to build a website for any type of business. They may niche even further by only offering ongoing support for WordPress websites or the design of eCommerce WordPress websites. Copywriters: Choose to specialize in website content packages but are willing to work with any type of business. Or they may choose to niche even further and specialize in website content packages for health and wellness websites, but are happy to work with anyone and any type of business in that space. Niche By Industry If you’re generalist—a jack of all trades—who doesn’t want to niche down by ideal client or service offering, the last option is to niche by industry. In this case, you select an industry that interests you and learn everything you can about the industry, including the different jobs in the industry, the struggles those in the industry face, the overarching industry challenges, business opportunities, how people make money in the industry, and more. When you niche by industry, you must become an expert on the industry so the people and businesses in the industry view you as a trusted authority and hiring you as the “no-brainer” option. Here are three examples of choosing an industry as a niche: Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Offers a wide variety of digital support services to those in the real estate industry, including realtors, mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, real estate attorneys, or property managers. Construction Industry CPA: Offers bookkeeping, accounting, and tax services to those in the construction industry, including licensed contractors, home builders, remodeling contractors, painters, drywall contractors, roofers, stucco contractors, pool builders, tile contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. Hospitality Marketing Specialist: Offers a wide variety of marketing services for hospitality businesses such as hotels and resorts, limousine companies, bars and restaurants, caterers, travel and tourism companies, airlines, cruise companies, casinos, marinas, and entertainment venues. If you choose to narrow your focus to a specific industry, be sure to watch the trends, shifts, news, and predictions in the industry carefully, especially those that are contradictory. This was you can prepare in advance for any major changes coming that could negatively affect your business. Things To Consider When Choosing A Business Niche When narrowing your focus and choosing a business niche, ask yourself these questions: Do you have any experience serving this niche? How much do you enjoy this niche? How interesting is the niche to you? Is the niche large enough to be viable? Are your services familiar, understood, and accepted in the niche? Can you solve a problem the niche struggles with? How important is solving this problem to the niche? Do people in the niche already invest in the services you offer? What is the average price people are willing to invest in the services you offer? If you determine the niche to be viable, interesting, and lucrative – go for it! Try narrowing the focus of your WordPress business, track your efforts and results, and see what happens. If you find success, celebrate. If you need to make adjustments along the way or do a little course correction, that’s okay too. There is no one approach that is the right approach to narrowing your focus and choosing a niche. Running a WordPress business can be tough—it’s a lot of trial and error because there is no cookie cutter solution that works for everyone. But with a crystal clear niche, you can begin attracting quality clients who value what you do, are happy to pay you what you’re worth, and can’t wait to get started. The post Why Your WordPress Business Needs A Niche And How To Choose One appeared first on Liquid Web.

The Top Four Data Challenges CIOs Face Today

To confront today's business data challenges, CIOs must consider the security, fidelity, accessibility, and integrity of their business data. Locating a competitive advantage in business has never been more important. Not sure where to look? We suggest starting with one of the most precious and valuable assets at your disposal: the data and information that got you where you are. Savvy businesses are already making the necessary investments to get the most out of their data. From customer information to competitive intelligence, a river of data is powering the leading businesses of today into the future. Those that are paying attention and turning data sets into a competitive advantage will win the most important markets. Those that don’t confront the business data challenges will invariably be left behind. Whether your organization is brand new or generations old, the information compiled over time about customers, competitors, trends, interactions, and initiatives provides the insights for guiding your enterprise to new heights. In most cases, the strategy of what to do with all of this valuable data lives in the office of the CIO. Deciding how to best extract value from data is only one challenge. In pushing forward for the organization, the CIO must also preserve and protect the ever-increasing pool of data. The actions taken with the data, and how to wrangle it in the first place, ultimately separates industry leaders from those that sink into obsolescence.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to have more content for IT professionals sent straight to your inbox. The Top Four Business Data Challenges Understanding the risks and pitfalls CIOs face when it comes to data is the first step towards a long-lasting information strategy. Here are the four greatest business data challenges faced by CIOs in today’s most competitive markets: 1. Security: How Are You Properly Protecting Your Most Valuable Asset? Foremost on the mind of any company executive is the security of company assets. And if perhaps the most valuable asset is company data, then the security of that data is of paramount importance. Security isn’t just about infrastructure and connectivity but also includes answering the following questions: Who has access to our data? Why? What systems and applications are integrated with our data? What are the processes and controls in place to maintain our data security? What security appliances are in place with our partners and providers to insure there are no security leaks on their end? How are we keeping an eye out to insure our security strategy is actually effective? Who has the authority to change our security policies? When can those changes happen and how? Understanding that security is a multidimensional, ever-evolving landscape is the first step in establishing robust data security policies. The key in securing data is to remain vigilant and expect the unexpected. Tomorrow’s most pressing security threat isn’t even a reality today.” Adaptability and proactive security practices are always the best way to address the security of your data. Recognize that data security is not only about who has access to your data, but also which applications and APIs have access as well. Where are the vulnerabilities in those systems? 2. Fidelity: Is Your Data Painting the Whole Picture? If data security is the primary concern of today’s CIO then data fidelity is not far behind. In short, data fidelity or data integrity is the characterization of data sets as being complete and uncompromised. Lost data, corrupted data, or misplaced data can all impact a business in negative ways. Losing valuable data like contracts, customer information or billing arrangements can cripple even the mightiest enterprises. One suggested way to address concerns of data fidelity is to implement sufficient backup or replication systems in conjunction with strong security policies. Having multiple copies of critical data combined with strict rules about who can and cannot modify or delete data is the means to a strong foundation of data integrity. Use replication and offsite backups to insure data is preserved without compromise. 3. Accessibility: It’s Not Only About People Anymore But Applications And APIs As Well Determining access to data is no longer just a question of “who” has access, but also “what” has access, and “when” that access is granted. Defining rule sets, checks, and balances around which employees are allowed to access which data is a great first step but hardly a complete solution. Your organization’s data is no doubt influenced and impacted by applications, APIs, and integrations. Properly establishing and documenting these interactions is also critical to protecting your data. Even your authorized applications, like your team, should have well-defined and oft-checked access points instead of free reign over your data.” Again, ask why, who, and what has access to your data and to what ends. Be detailed and deliberate about what checks and balances are in place to insure these integrations are moving your business forward and doing so in the right ways. Recognize that protecting data is not only about who has access to your data, but also the applications and APIs that have access as well. Have well-defined policies in place that determine how and why your data is accessed. 4. Integrity: All Of Your Data Is Critical, Even If It Doesn’t Seem So At First Glance In its purest, rawest form your data may not be of use to you or, for that matter, anyone else. Just as oil right out of the earth requires refining to serve any practical purpose, your data most likely must be manipulated, distilled, and deciphered before it can be utilized for any real purpose. But along the way it is imperative that useful information not be discarded or ignored. Just because your workflows and tools don’t recognize a certain set of data as being valuable today doesn’t mean that same data won’t be invaluable tomorrow.” Ever-changing rules and regulations mean that to remain compliant across industries it is imperative that you stay current with the legal limitations. In some jurisdictions and with some data, you must ensure that all of your data be preserved, even if only in its rawest form. To contrast, Europe’s consumer-centric GDPR regulations require that companies delete personal data that has been collected without a specific purpose. Running afoul of the law or a regulatory body for not properly preserving and maintaining data can be an unwelcome and costly misstep. GDPR violations, for instance, can incur fines of up to 4% of a company’s global revenue. Coping with Challenges Today And Into The Future By surveying the landscape and preparing for what’s to come, even the most complex data environments can be managed into the future. It is the CIOs charge and obligation to properly position the company to find the most beneficial way to utilize data. But inherent in this challenge is making sure that data is properly structured, collected, preserved, and protected. Even the smallest misstep along the way can create a waterfall of negative ramifications that can set the organization back years. By properly acknowledging and addressing the challenges above, even the most complex data environment can be well positioned to serve as a competitive advantage for years to come. Liquid Web Can Help Growing SMBs and Enterprises With Business Data Challenges Liquid Web can help protect your business from attacks and prepare your data for compliance. See our Security and Compliance Services today. The post The Top Four Data Challenges CIOs Face Today appeared first on Liquid Web.

Nine Tips On The Best Placement For An Email Subscribe Form

Discover the five best places on your website to put an email subscribe form plus get four more options to boost conversions. You need a list. Build your email list. The money is in the list. Get people to your email list. We get it. Business owners need to focus on establishing, nurturing, growing, and engaging their email list and if you’re reading this, you probably have the same goal. Now, you already know you need an email list and you probably already have an email provider selected. That’s the easy part. The hard part is figuring out where to put your email subscribe form on your website. In fact, one of the most common questions we hear is, “Where is the best place to put an email subscribe form?” While there is no one right answer or one single position on your website that is guaranteed to produce best results, there are nine common places that are considered the best spots on a website to put an opt-in form. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter for more great ideas on how to make your WordPress site profitable. The Five Best Spots For An Email Signup On Your Website 1. At The End OF A Blog Post One of the most popular places to display a call to action or email signup form is at the end of your blog posts. The premise with this approach is that if a visitor has made it to the end of your post, they liked your content and it simply makes sense to offer them an opportunity to engage further. 2. Within The Content Context plays a huge role in the success of an email signup offer. The more relevant the offer is to the content on the page, the better it will perform. A content upgrade is an opt-in offer that is placed within the actual post content that is relevant to the content the visitor is already engaged with. Content upgrades are most effective when they invite the reader to learn more about the same topic and take the next step. 3. At The Top Of The Sidebar If your WordPress site has a sidebar, consider placing an email signup form at the very top of the sidebar. This has been the go-to spot to put an opt-in form for years, so people already expect to find it there. 4. At The Bottom Of The Page While the bottom of the page is traditionally reserved for the footer, it is also a prime location for a call to action and/or an email subscribe form because those that make it to the bottom of the page are those who are most interested in what you do. 5. In The Header For years, marketers preached about placing critical calls to action “above the fold.” But the proliferation of smartphones and tablets made scrolling normal and expected, and eventually the fold became a thing of the past. While “the fold” may have died, the effectiveness of an email signup form in the website header area didn’t. When placed at the top of the page—such as in the hero area or in a floating bar—visitors see the signup form right away. Four More Options For Email Opt-Ins Here’s the thing that is critical to understand: While you can put an email subscribe form in your sidebar, in the footer of your site, in the header, at the end of a post, and in the body of the content, you don’t want to do all of them. That would create too many competing calls to action on a page and cause frustration for visitors. But what happens when you want to include multiple opt-in offers without overwhelming visitors? You don’t include them on the actual web page. Instead, you use technology like OptinMonster to create options like lightbox pop-ups, exit-intent popups, welcome gates, and scroll boxes. Lightbox Popups Lightbox popups are the most common style of popup. It pops-open an email subscribe form and visitors can either sign up or close it. They key to an effective lightbox popup is timing—setting it to display after a set amount of time, number of visits, or scroll position. Exit-Intent Popups Exit-intent popups are displayed when a visitor is about to leave your website. It’s a last-ditch effort to capture a visitor’s email address with one final special offer before they go. Welcome Gates Welcome gates take over the entire screen after a visitor reaches a web page. Visitors have a moment to see the content and then it is covered or pushed down by a full screen call to action. They can then choose to click yes or no, or scroll down to pass it by. Scroll Boxes Scroll boxes display email subscribe forms in a similar way popups do, but instead of taking over the screen, covering up the content, and interrupting the visitor, they simply appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the browser window as the visitor scrolls down the page. Learn 6 Ways to Improve Web Conversions Using Content The post Nine Tips On The Best Placement For An Email Subscribe Form appeared first on Liquid Web.

The Complete Guide to Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting

This guide covers Google Analytics eCommerce reporting in-depth. See how to set up eCommerce tracking, and learn key terminology to understand the data. Being able to observe and interact with customers as they shop was always an advantage that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers had over online retail. Until now. With eCommerce analytics and reporting, online retailers can learn just as much from every customer interaction as physical retailers — maybe more. An eCommerce analytics tool can do even more than just show data. These services are essential for tracking the performance of your online store over time. So we’re going to tell you how (and why) to use Google Analytics eCommerce reporting. Introduction to Google Analytics for eCommerce An eCommerce analytics tool can help compensate for one of the biggest shortcomings of digital retail. Since you can’t be an active participant in a customer’s buying experience, an eCommerce analytics tool gives you a way to learn about customer behavior so you can further optimize customer experience. Terms You Should Know Before setting up eCommerce reporting in Google Analytics, let’s go over some of the terms you should know. Average Order Value (AOV) Your average order value is the average amount of a transaction. If you divide your total revenue by the total number of orders, you’ll get your average order value. Typically, your average order value is also the value of a conversion. Average Quantity Similar to average order value, average quantity is the average number of product units sold per transaction. To calculate, you take the number of product units sold and divide by the number of transactions that included one or more units of that product. eCommerce Conversion Rate The eCommerce conversion rate is the number of web sessions that resulted in a purchase. To calculate, divide the number of transactions by the total number of web sessions, then multiply that figure by 100 to convert the value to a percentage. eCommerce Transaction In short, an eCommerce transaction is a purchase that has been completed by a customer. Per-Session Value (PSV) Your per-session value is the average value of a web session on your online store. This figure is calculated by dividing your total revenue by your total number of web sessions. Quantity As it pertains to eCommerce, quantity refers to the total number of product units sold. Revenue Your revenue is the total value earned through sales. It’s an unadjusted value which means tax, shipping, and other financial variables are reflected in the total. Revenue is not the same as profit which subtracts taxes, fees, and expenses. Transaction ID A transaction ID is a number — usually alphanumeric — that is assigned to a transaction. These numbers should be unique and non-repeated. Transaction IDs are beneficial to both retailers and customers. Unique Purchases Unique purchases refers to the number of times a product was part of a transaction. When multiple units are sold at once, the transaction still only counts as a single unique purchase for that particular product. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store. How to Set up Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking Google Analytics tracks many metrics automatically, but some additional steps are necessary for eCommerce tracking. Step 1: Install Google Analytics Before you can track your WooCommerce site with Google Analytics, WordPress must be integrated with Analytics. This step requires you to access the Google Analytics tracking code (or “tag”) and install it on your WordPress site. You can do it a couple different ways. First, you could use Google Tag Manager to publish and manage the Analytics tag for your site. See our guide to Google Tag Manager for more info on this process. If you already have an existing Analytics account but need to install the tracking code on your WooCommerce site, you need to set up a property for your eCommerce set. Then navigate to Admin > Tracking Info > Tracking Code to access the actual code you’ll need to install. If you don’t yet have a Google Analytics account, Analytics walks you through the install steps as part of the account setup process. Once you have found your tracking code, copy and paste it into the header of your WordPress theme file. Alternatively, a plugin like Yoast can do this for you (many shopping cart plugins for WordPress can as well). After completing these steps, Google Analytics will be installed on your WordPress site. Step 2: Enable eCommerce Tracking To activate eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, navigate to Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings. Locate the Enable Ecommerce toggle and move it to the On position. This will allow Google Analytics to begin receiving your shopping cart data. Step 3: Add eCommerce Tag to Tracking Code After eCommerce tracking is enabled, you need to make a slight modification to the Google Analytics tracking code. Navigate to where you added the tracking code to your WordPress site — whether it’s a plugin or in the header file for your theme — and locate the first section of the code. It should look like this: ga(‘create’ , ‘UA-000000000’ , ‘auto’) On the line below it, copy and paste the following snippet of code: ga(‘require’ , ‘ecommerce’ , ‘ecommerce.js’); The addition of this code snippet will initiate tracking of eCommerce events on your site. For instance, the code will track clicks on products, adds to the shopping cart, shopping cart removals, order checkouts, and so on. Step 4: Test the eCommerce Tracking Finally, test to make sure your eCommerce tracking is working. The best way to test it is to complete a test transaction through your own WooCommerce store. After completing the test order, check Google Analytics to see if that transaction shows in the eCommerce reporting. On a side note, make sure to account for your test transactions in your eCommerce reporting. Otherwise, your reports will be skewed. 5 of the Most Important Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting Options When you’re running your store with WooCommerce, Google Analytics receives lots of data about your customer interactions. The reporting menus in Google Analytics offer a visual representation of the data trends for your store from your customers’ checkout behaviors to how they interact with products. So let’s go over the most important eCommerce reporting options in Google Analytics and the value they have for your eCommerce tracking. eCommerce Overview As the most basic, macro-level reporting option, the eCommerce Overview in Google Analytics is a summary of your site-wide revenue and transaction statistics. In particular, eCommerce Overview focuses on things like your conversion rate, the number of transactions over a specific period, revenue, and unique purchases for any given product (or group of products). When you access the eCommerce Overview, the default view is a comparison of your revenue to your conversion rate as shown in the screenshot above. However, you can change the metrics you want to compare. You can also change the amount of time for which to map them: days to hours, weeks, or months. By selecting the different eCommerce metrics that are available, you can get a high-level view of your marketing efforts over time. Below the graph, you can see other relevant values for the period, including the number of transactions generated by your marketing campaigns and the number of sales earned by your affiliate partners. You also have access to a list of your top products sorted by the revenue generated by the sales of every product. If you click on any product in the list, you can access a graph for that particular product, showing the number of units sold and the amount of revenue those sales generated. There are other useful data points here, too: the average selling price, the number of cart removals for that product, and the total amount of refunds issued for order returns. Generally, eCommerce Overview is what you’ll use when you need core data points mapped over a period of time. There’s a lot of high-level information available here that can be quite useful in many situations. Shopping Behavior Analysis In Google Analytics, the Shopping Behavior Analysis report offers a breakdown of your purchase funnel. More specifically, this report shows you how many customers reached each point of your funnel, how many times your customers proceed from one point in the funnel to the next, and the number of times the funnel was abandoned at each stage. With this information, you can see the journey your customers are taking as they make purchases, and perhaps most importantly, identify potential bottlenecks in your purchase funnel. The screenshot above shows the Shopping Behavior Analysis report. There are a number of useful metrics to take note of here. For this example, this report shows that 2.87% of website sessions involved a product view and of those, over 19% actually added a product to the shopping cart. From there, almost 54% of customers who add a product to the shopping cart begin the checkout process — of which nearly 53% actually conclude with a transaction. Shopping Behavior Analysis is very useful for increasing your conversion rate. For instance, the cost of shipping is frequently the reason for checkout abandonment. So you might try offering free shipping, and then check the Shopping Behavior Analysis report to see if checkout abandonment has gone down. Below the main reporting area, you have access to a couple different data view options. By default, user type is selected, but you can choose a number of other parameters. In the screenshot above, you can see that Source is selected as the primary parameter, so it’s showing session and funnel data by referral source. You can easily create an eCommerce segment by clicking on any of the header cells (e.g. Sessions with Product Views, Sessions with Add to Cart, Sessions with Check-Out). You can even create an abandonment segment by clicking on any of the red arrows in the main reporting graph at the top of the menu. In the screenshot above, Sessions with Transactions was selected. After creating a segment, you’ll see a report similar to what’s shown in the screenshot above. Since Sessions with Transactions was selected, there was zero percent abandonment at each level in the funnel because all sessions resulted in a transaction. Shopping Behavior Analysis offers lots of insight into your customer behavior and is an ideal complement to a customer analytics tool like As part of its comprehensive eCommerce dashboard, collects tons of actionable data that is compiled into customer profiles. With just a glance, you can quickly see a customer’s purchasing timeline, lifetime value, average order values, and numerous other metrics. Checkout Behavior Analysis The Checkout Behavior Analysis report is very similar to the Shopping Behavior Analytics tool with one key difference. While Shopping Behavior looks at the entire session, Checkout Behavior looks solely at the checkout process. With Checkout Behavior Analysis, you can get a clearer picture of how your customers move through your checkout funnel and when the checkout process is most frequently abandoned. This is particularly useful when you have a multi-step checkout process with tags installed on each funnel step. When you access Checkout Behavior Analysis in Google Analytics, you should see something similar to what’s shown in the screenshot above. In this example, we’re looking at a single-step checkout process which means the checkout abandonment rate is the difference between all the checkout sessions (100%) and the percentage of checkouts that resulted in transactions (52.85%). Product Performance With the Product Performance report in Google Analytics, you get a closer look at how your products are performing on your eCommerce store. There are two different views in Product Performance: a top-level “Summary” and the more granular “Shopping Behavior” view. The Summary gives you more generalized information including revenue generated by sales of a product as well as the unique sales and quantity sold of a product. Then there’s Shopping Behavior which will indicate product list and product detail views, the number of times a product was added to the shopping cart, and the number of checkout sessions for a product. Generally, you could consider Product Performance to be a more in-depth version of the eCommerce Overview. The Product Performance chart lets you compare a number of different dimensions and shopping behaviors. In the example above, you can see a graph of the revenue generated by a product compared to the number of times the product’s details were viewed by customers. Alternatively, you can choose other dimensions like product SKU, product category (if you have Enhanced Ecommerce enabled), or the brand of the product. Moreover, you can apply a secondary dimension to the report. In the screenshot above, Medium was chosen as the secondary dimension to indicate the origin of the customer who interacted with the product. Sales Performance As arguably the most straightforward of the Google Analytics eCommerce reporting options, Sales Performance reporting gives an overview of your revenue through one of two dimensions: transaction or date. If you choose transaction, data for your transactions is shown, including the data, time, and transaction ID. With date, you won’t see details for transactions and instead, will see the total amount of revenue earned per day. In the screenshot above, you can see a Sales Performance report for which transaction was the primary dimension. For this report, Traffic Type is the secondary dimension to show the origin of every customer who placed an order. Additionally, you’ll see a number of primary metrics and eCommerce KPIs. If you click on an order number, you can see all products purchased by that same person or on that same day, depending on whether transaction or date is your primary dimension. Why Use Google Analytics for eCommerce Reporting? Historically, eCommerce has left retailers with very little knowledge when it comes to customer behaviors, but eCommerce analytics tools have changed that. When combined with WooCommerce and WordPress, Google Analytics can offer a lot of insight into how your customers are interacting with your online store. Liquid Web Is Your Premiere WooCommerce Hosting Provider Before you can start to learn about customer behavior, you need a fast, reliable store. Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting is built with speed and performance in mind. Packed with tons of cutting-edge technologies — from Jilt for cart abandonment to for powerful and comprehensive eCommerce analytics — Liquid Web gives you everything that you could need to start, run, and grow a thriving eCommerce store. To learn more about how you can benefit from Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting, visit our product page today. The post The Complete Guide to Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting appeared first on Liquid Web.

Why You Should Perform An Infrastructure Assessment

The infrastructure your business runs on is one of the main factors in the speed, security, and reliability of your IT system’s performance. The performance of infrastructure, particularly legacy, on-premise infrastructure, tends to degrade over time. As your business grows and its workloads change, your infrastructure may become less suitable than it originally was. But how do you know what the benefits of new infrastructure will be? Armed with a complete understanding of how your infrastructure is serving your business needs, you can make informed decisions about how and when to cost-effectively upgrade your infrastructure to meet the needs of your business. A detailed assessment by experienced infrastructure professionals provides businesses with a clear picture of how all of the pieces of their environment fit together, how their existing network infrastructure is satisfying their business requirements, and how it is failing to do so. Infrastructure experts can also bring their experience to bear for customers by identifying the simplest and most cost-effective steps to take. Liquid Web performs a 7-point infrastructure assessment for all new VMware clients, which gives customers a clear path to receiving better value for their IT investments. So what does an infrastructure assessment include?  Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for tips on infrastructure optimization. 1. Comprehensive Infrastructure Review The first step in a comprehensive infrastructure review is to map out the architecture currently in use. Hardware technology cycles have accelerated to the point where they are very difficult for most organizations to keep up with, but a subscription model enables businesses to take advantage of newer hardware flexibly, without overprovisioning at the beginning or being locked into legacy technology at the end. Capacity utilization is the key to cost efficiency, so what you have and how much you need are the first things you need to know. 2. Check Topology for Single Points of Failure A full review also includes checking the topology for single points of failure. This process requires in-depth knowledge of how systems interact, as for example VMware does not provide application-level redundancy, meaning that without additional services, an Apache failure on a single virtual machine will not automatically be resolved. Building fault tolerance into an environment can be easy and highly cost-effective in a virtualized environment, if managed professionally. 3. Check Licensing to Confirm Correct Licenses and Appropriate Quantities Licenses for OSs, control panel, and other software should also be checked to determine if the license type and quantity in use is the most cost-effective option available. A professional review ensuring your various licensing is most efficient could potentially find significant monthly savings. 4. Security Review of Current Infrastructure Components The security of each infrastructure component in use should be reviewed. Security assessments often focus on vulnerability scanning, which must be comprehensive because the weakest link is the one which will be exploited, and the effectiveness of network security controls must be considered. A full infrastructure security review also allows any unmet compliance requirements to be addressed, by deploying new security tools if necessary. 5. Optimize and Upgrade Capacity, fault tolerance, license and security reviews often reveal ways for businesses to optimize their infrastructure, but for businesses that have outgrown their IT infrastructure or need to invest in an update to newer technology, changing or adding new services may also be necessary. Once deployed and utilized capacity are known, they can be compared for ways to optimize for efficiency with new hardware or services. The balance between availability, performance, and cost determines the most appropriate combination of CPU and RAM, and VM size and oversubscription methodology are reviewed to find the most efficient utilization. The flexibility provided by subscription services usually enables a significant efficiency advantage. 6. Review Backup and Data Protection Strategy This process also takes in your organization’s backup and data protection strategy. Cloud storage has become so inexpensive that for most organizations leveraging a cloud backup service is the most cost-effective way to ensure business requirements are met. 7. Advise on Efficiencies Provided by a Managed Environment Lastly, a full infrastructure assessment also provides a cost analysis of the different models for infrastructure management, whether in-house or through a managed hosting provider. This allows you to identify any efficiencies from a managed environment. Businesses are often uncertain about how much employee or IT consultant time is being spent on system management, and surprised to find out how much they are already paying for it. Making Major Changes Considering major adjustments or upgrades to the kind of infrastructure or architecture your environment runs on can be very intimidating. Indeed, small and medium-sized businesses usually do not have the in-house capacity to take time away from normal business development and operations to decide on and plan the changes that would most benefit them, which is why they end up needing to perform an assessment in the first place. Upgrade decisions are made based on the assessment and the unique requirements of your business. Flexible options are available from your service provider to connect VMware with other dedicated and cloud resources, and could include fully or unmanaged guest virtual machine options. Clusters built with dedicated compute resources ensure the best possible performance, as well as workload isolation. Hosted infrastructure enables organizations to keep up with hardware and software innovations with a dynamic, flexible approach. Expertise is required to manage this flexible hosted infrastructure, but high-quality hosting providers serving small and medium-sized businesses like Liquid Web offer managed services to enable their customers to improve their IT efficiency and leverage the latest innovations like enterprises with large in-house IT departments. In particular, a VMware hosting solution that includes a dedicated vCenter in a fully managed deployment can improve security and performance for most organizations, while also providing their IT staff with visibility and access. Managed VMware as part of a high-quality hosting service also provides the assistance of a solution architect early in the process to determine which among proven templates should be selected for customization. An implementation manager manages VMware deployments and a customer success manager ties together full lifecycle support and acts as an advocate for the customer’s best overall service experience. A service provider that offers this level of assistance, along with on-staff resources and ongoing VMWare monitoring to anticipate changing needs, enables businesses to combine leading technology with flexibility in a way that is not otherwise available to most. Once all upgrade decisions are made, coordinate your migration plan with your hosting provider, who should have a variety of options available. Navigating the Complexities of Modern IT Companies usually know that some kind of improvement is necessary by the time they look for a way to assess their infrastructure. The specific upgrades, optimizations, new products and services that will meet business objectives and deliver the best ROI, however, can get complicated. Innovations in hardware, virtualization, system architecture and software are well worth the investment, provided they are matched to the business needs discovered during an effective assessment. The uniqueness of each situation, taking a holistic view of infrastructure and business requirements, is why a self-assessment based on a checklist will never capture the intricacies necessary to actually maximize your assets. A professional engineer working one-on-one with your team can go beyond fitting your business to a template. Customization of proven templates based on deep understanding, along with comprehensive, professional support is the way to navigate the complexities of modern IT infrastructure for business benefits and cost efficiency. The post Why You Should Perform An Infrastructure Assessment appeared first on Liquid Web.

Understanding the Google Analytics Attribution Model

Multi-channel marketing has become a dominant model of eCommerce because it lets you meet your audience where they live. But when sales are coming from multiple platforms, it’s hard to know which marketing channels are best at driving conversion. Attribution modeling lets you create a system for assigning conversion value to your sales channels. Normally, this would be complicated, but Google Analytics makes attribution modeling simple. What Is Attribution Modeling? Attribution modeling is about assigning a value to each touchpoint in a conversion path. With attribution modeling, you can see how much a channel adds to your bottom line. Why Attribution Modeling Is Important for eCommerce Since many online retailers employ a multi-channel marketing model, attribution modeling has become a critical part of eCommerce. You can learn how customers are finding your site, what their interests are, and how they interact with your site. Once you have a thorough understanding of your customers’ conversion paths, you can better optimize your conversion funnel to boost sales and generate more revenue. What Is an Attribution Model in Google Analytics? As defined by Google Analytics, an attribution model is “the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths.” So while attribution modeling is the process of assigning value to touchpoints in conversion paths, an attribution model is the way that value is assigned. In short, attribution modeling is the “what” and an attribution model is the “how.” The attribution models in Google Analytics fall into one of two categories: default attribution models and custom attribution models. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store. Default Attribution Models Default Google attribution models are essentially the template models you don’t have to set up manually. Currently, there are seven default attribution models, so whether you’re looking for a single- or multi-channel attribution model, Google Analytics has you covered. When choosing an attribution model for your eCommerce business, keep in mind how your customers engage with your brand. For instance, if the conversion process takes place over a 9-month period, the attribution model you’d use would be different than if conversion typically takes place over just a few days. Choose the attribution model that’s most consistent with the patterns you see in your conversion data. To better understand your customers, you could use, a feature-rich analytics tool that’s included within Standard and above plans with Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting at no additional cost. Besides offering its own attribution modeling, tracks customer purchasing behaviors and creates customer profiles. With this information, you get a clear indication of the buyer’s journey for every customer. In turn, you can choose the most appropriate attribution model for your eCommerce business. Last Interaction Attribution Model With the last interaction model, the total value of a conversion is attributed to the last touchpoint of a customer’s conversion path. Typically, this model is most appropriate when your marketing and ad materials target your customers at or just before the moment of purchase. In other words, when the time it takes to convert is very short and there are few touchpoints in the conversion path. First Interaction Attribution Model A first interaction model is the exact opposite of the last interaction model. In this model, the total value of a conversion is assigned to the first touchpoint in a conversion path. The idea is that the first touchpoint would be the audience’s first exposure to the brand. For this reason, first interaction attribution can be an appropriate model for new or niche eCommerce businesses trying to increase brand awareness. Linear Attribution Model The linear model of attribution gives equal credit or value to each channel in a conversion path. More often than not, linear attribution is used when there are numerous channels and touchpoints over a long period of time. Time Decay Attribution Model With the time decay attribution model, channel value varies according to where a channel occurs in a conversion path. Channels receive less value if they occur early in a conversion path while channel value increases as they get closer to the point of conversion. A prime example would be a temporary promotion; people are more motivated to make purchases when there’s a discount. In turn, the ad campaign that promoted the sale is more valuable for conversion than previous touchpoints. Position Based Attribution Model As a hybrid/combination of the first and last interaction attribution models, position based attribution is when the first and last interactions in a conversion path are attributed the most value. For instance, you might divide 80% of a conversion between the first and last interactions, then distribute the remaining 20% between the touchpoints that occur in between. An eCommerce business that values first contact and subsequent presale brand interactions could be a good candidate for this model. Last Non-Direct Click Model (What Google Analytics Uses by Default) With a last non-direct click model, the total value of a conversion is assigned to the last interaction that wasn’t direct traffic, meaning a user navigated directly to the eCommerce store instead of going through social media or another channel. This is actually the default model used in most Google Analytics reports by default. Last Google Ads Click Model As you might have guessed, the last Google Ads click model assigns the full value of conversion to the last paid ad the customer clicked before buying. Though its applications are narrower than many other attribution models, it’s useful for finding out which of your paid ads are converting the most customers. Custom Attribution Models You may find yourself in a situation where none of the default attribution models work for you. That’s where custom Google Analytics attribution models come in. With a custom attribution model, you can take any of the default attribution models and customize it with your own rules. This gives you more control over how conversion value is assigned to your marketing channels. Data Driven Attribution Model By default, the data driven model is the baseline attribution model when you begin creating a custom model using the Model Comparison Tool. With the data driven attribution model, there are no rules for assigning value to your customer touchpoints. Instead, the model simply plugs your actual data into its algorithm. The data driven model is unique because it takes into account data from outside your conversion paths, meaning instances where channel interactions did not result in a sale. The data driven attribution model is most often used when you want to analyze data from multiple sources to determine whether the data is statistically significant. Google Analytics Attribution Model Comparison Tool Walkthrough The Attribution Model Comparison Tool in Google Analytics has two important functions. First, you can compare different attribution models and how they affect the value of each marketing channel. You can also use the Model Comparison Tool to create custom attribution models for your business. So let’s take a look at how to access the Attribution Model Comparison Tool and use some of its core functions. Requirements There are three prerequisites to using the Model Comparison Tool. They mostly entail making sure your tags are installed appropriately and that other Google marketing tools you’re using are integrated with Google Analytics. Goals or transactions need to be reported in Google Analytics. If you don’t have either goals or transactions set up, there won’t be data available to use for attribution modeling. Ideally, you’ll have both configured. You should be using tags for inbound marketing. For this piece, you’ll need to use Google Tag Manager. Google AdWords needs to be linked to Google Analytics. The one exception to this would be if you’re not using AdWords or running pay-per-click ad campaigns. How to Use the Attribution Model Comparison Tool in Google Analytics From the sidebar in Google Analytics, navigate to Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison Tool. When you’ve reached the Model Comparison Tool, what you’ll see is very similar to the screenshot above. There are a number of different things you can do from this dashboard, but let’s start with some of the options you see along the top. Using the conversion options, you can toggle between your eCommerce conversions, Goal conversions, or both. This option is useful for eliminating report data that may not be relevant to you in the moment. Additionally, you can choose the option to only see conversions that came from Google Ads. The Lookback Window is a setting you can use to set how far back the report should go. You can either use the slide — which will update the number of conversions in real time — or you can manually input a specific number of days prior to a conversion. There’s an option to choose which type of attribution to use for the reporting. You can choose one (or many) of the seven default reporting options, or you can click Create new custom model to begin creating a custom attribution model. If you choose two of the default attribution models, the Model Comparison Tool will show conversion data for both. In the screenshot above, you can see an example where Last Interaction and First Interaction attribution models are compared. Just above the table, you can see options for Primary Dimension. In effect, this is a setting you can use to change which attribute you want to use for reporting. For instance, you can use default channel groupings, custom channel groups, marketing funnel groupings, or one of the other options available. You can even add a secondary dimension. The Model Comparison Tool gives you the ability to implement conversion segments, too. You have the option to use the default segments or you can create your own segment by clicking Create New Conversion Segment. Configuring a custom segment is pretty straightforward. For example, you could create a custom segment called First Interaction: Facebook. The purpose of this custom segment would be to expand on the default first interaction attribution model by identifying instances when a Facebook event was the first interaction in a conversion path. To do so, we selected First Interaction as the attribution model template. Then we began customizing the model by selecting Source as the attribute that the Model Comparison Tool will capture. By selecting Containing and using Facebook as the filter term, we set up the segment to identify when the word “Facebook” appeared in the referring URL or platform name. In other words, “Containing” and “Facebook” filter terms ensure that all Facebook interactions are accounted for in the model. You can create additional conversion path options using the process described above, or you can simply click Save Segment to save and apply the custom segment. Why Use the Google Attribution Model Comparison Tool? As we wrap up our overview of Google Analytics attribution modeling, let’s go over some use cases for the Model Comparison Tool. The most obvious use case for the Google Analytics Model Comparison Tool would be when you’re unsure of which attribution model to use. In this case, you would use the tool as its name implies which is as a way to compare the different attribution models in Google Analytics. By using the tool to compare attribution models, you’ll be able to see how each attribution model best assigns conversion value to your marketing channels. In turn, you can determine which model assigns value in a way that makes the most sense for your eCommerce business. Similarly, you could use the Model Comparison Tool to compare the attribution model you currently use to other attribution models. Though the primary purpose of the tool is for comparing attribution models, being able to customize your own attribution model is another prime use case. In a situation where the default attribution models aren’t right for your business, you can use the Model Comparison Tool to modify any of the default models. So instead of having to use a model that’s ineffective for your business, you adapt the default models to your needs. Attribution modeling is important for most businesses, but it’s especially important for eCommerce. When you have numerous marketing channels that are funneling leads and customers to your online store, you need a way to measure the value that individual channels bring to your business. Not only will the Model Comparison Tool show you which channels are most valuable, it will also show which ones aren’t converting enough leads to warrant the expense of maintaining those channels. Liquid Web Managed WooCommerce Hosting Provides Everything You Need to Optimize Your Customer Experience Liquid Web is a hosting provider focused on reliability, performance, and scalability. But it doesn’t just stop with great hosting. With Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting for your eCommerce business, you’re getting tons of extras to build and scale your online store. From Jilt for cart abandonment to for powerful and comprehensive analytics, Managed WooCommerce Hosting provides tons of cutting-edge software at no additional cost. In fact, Liquid Web’s plans often undercut the competition, so you get all these tools to build a stronger business at a very reasonable price. To learn more about what Liquid Web Managed WooCommerce Hosting has to offer your business, visit our product page today. The post Understanding the Google Analytics Attribution Model appeared first on Liquid Web.

Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month from Liquid Web! We believe this effort to create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment is worthy of commemoration. This year, NCSAM’s central message is Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT, with the theme of personal accountability and proactivity to enhance cybersecurity, both at home and in the office. We couldn’t agree more, and we believe we can help you achieve IT. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect the business from malicious attacks. Think before you click on anything, especially from suspicious links or emails that something seemingly appears “out of place.” But an attack could come from any location (even from a 3rd party backdoor like DoorDash experienced last week). “Remember, think quickly, click slowly. Having the right systems in place is a great first step, but it takes more than that. Employee education about cybersecurity measures is essential, and routine scans for vulnerabilities are crucial. Also, having infrastructure built with additional security in mind with things like firewalls are key. It is our wish that all of our customers have maximum uptime and secure infrastructure, and our belief that we can help to make that a reality. To continue the commemoration, we’re celebrating by kicking off a series of blogs on the latest security tips. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see some additional security tips. For additional information about our Liquid Web security and compliance offerings visit: Stay tuned for more, and we wish you a Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month from Liquid Web! The post Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month! appeared first on Liquid Web.


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