The ATAK Interactive Blog

 

Interested in making your life easier and save time for things that really matter? Google may be able to do just that with a new application called “Inbox.” Announced last week, this new app is designed to make it easier for its users to find and manage important information that oftentimes gets hidden and buried in their inboxes. It’s primarily designed to focus on what really matters.

For example, Inbox can sort electronic receipts and bank statements into bundles so they can easily be located. This method is similar to the way that Gmail currently separates promotional emails from other communications sent to its users.  Inbox can also figure out the key points of an email, such as travel itineraries, event times and photos, and highlight the information, according to Google.  In some instances, Inbox will automatically retrieve other helpful content, such as updated flight times, from the Web.  Inbox can also create to-do lists.  At first glance, Inbox seems like a brilliant idea, but with like any brilliant innovation comes criticism.

The obvious question for marketers and businesses alike is how will Inbox affect email marketing campaigns?  Even though Inbox is doing a lot of the work for you in terms of bundling and organizing, this means that you may have to schedule your email marketing campaigns differently than before. For a lot of businesses, email marketing is a way to directly touch base with their consumers and offer special promotions and deals.  Inbox will require that you run a promotion longer to allow your consumers time to actually open their bundled email and act on it before a sale is over. It could also mean that people who subscribe but don’t currently open your emails may be even less likely to do so if they’ve bundled it. This could cause many marketers to become frustrated at what is predicted to be lower open rates for promotional emails.

Google executive, Sundar Pichai, recently made this statement: “For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do — rather than helping us get those things done.”   While the concept is new and exciting, it will require your email marketing efforts to be refocused and streamlined.  Some things you can do to help your open rate increase are:

  • Build Your Best List: avoid purchasing lists and avoid using spamming practices to build your list.  Create great content and the subscribers will come. Give your consumers a reason to subscribe by providing great deals and promotions.
  • Send Great Content at Reasonable Times: don’t send emails for the sake of staying in touch.  If you send great content that provides value to your consumer, there is no need to send numerous emails.
  • Image is Everything: make your email campaigns look attractive and easy to navigate.  By putting some extra effort in the design of your email marketing campaigns, the click-through rates will increase.

Only time will tell how Inbox will this truly affect email marketing efforts but the predictions hold some weight in our eyes.  However, if you are sending great content and taking into account the above-referenced tips, then whatever changes Google decides to make will less likely affect you and your business.  If anything, this will help your consumers cut through the clutter and focus on what’s important to them.   If you want to learn more on how to create great content and maximize your business through email marketing, then give us a call at 888-472-1892 or email us at info@atakinteractive.com.

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No customer wants to see boring clip art or outdated images on your website.  Much like having outdated hours, logos, and contact info, outdated pictures or no pictures are a big website and social media no-no.  By having fresh and powerful images of your company, brand, or product, you can excite customers and explain your purpose without unnecessary words.

Evoke Positive Emotions
Having powerful professional images on your website can evoke many positive responses from your customers and provide a clearer understanding of what your company does without words.  While SEO language can do wonders for search recognition, placing keywords on your images can also help your website be found in other areas.

Increase Social Engagement
Social media posts with images on Facebook receive on average a 93% engagement rate.  Facebook isn’t the only place where pictures are king.

most-shared-posts-photos-1-.png

On Twitter, posts with images get on average 35% more retweets, and in a world of 140 characters that’s important.

Twitter with images stat.png

Share Honest Products
An eCommerce business’ best friend is a photographer (well, minus their web developer.)  Since customers can’t physically touch the products or see their relative size, an honest product picture is their gateway to the product.

*TIP: Proper lighting and a clean background help make products stand out and be the focus of the image.

Create Customer Trust
While you want your products to look their best in each image, it’s also very important to show the product honestly with little to no retouching.  Nothing is worse than when your customer’s expectations are let down because their expectations weren’t managed correctly.

Make Your Own
If you can’t afford professional quality images every day, use websites like Canva and Piktochart to boost your graphic skills. They have hundreds of free images and pre-made graphics that you can alter to make your own.  Canva even has graphic design tutorials which can help you learn how to make graphics on your own.

Hire a Professional
We’ve worked with many photographers here at ATAK, and would like to introduce you to a couple who get our stamp of approval!  Recently we’ve had the pleasure to work with Burcin Cebi, a West LA based photographer.  He specializes in product photography, high-end fashion, and professional headshots.  Burcin is the reason our new company headshots look so amazing!  We also enjoy working with Tarzana-based photographer, Kathleen Lantos of Kathleen Lantos Photography. Kathleen specializes in portraits, headshots, commercial photography and videography.  Kathleen is a good friend of ATAK and is always a pleasure to work with.

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Twitter was created in 2006 and is affectionately known as “the SMS of the internet.” Twitter began as a place to communicate between small groups about common topics.  In 2007, Twitter exploded at the South by Southwest Interactive conference as event-goers constantly updated the network with tweets about the experience.

Twitter’s existence has allowed for news outlets to inform followers in real-time, celebrities to give a backstage glance into their lives, and your next-door neighbor to tell you everything and anything about their life.  While Twitter is still relevant to many industries, many B2C and B2B companies are beginning to wonder if it’s still relevant to them.

Keith Messer, VP of Marketing & New Business Development at Data Services, Inc., wrote in his article: B2B Marketers: Is Twitter Still Relevant?

“Whether you’re tweeting like you’re possessed, just dipping your toe in the water or have avoided the medium like the plague, you should always take a step back to evaluate whether what you’re doing makes sense.”

We at ATAK Interactive believe that Mr. Messer makes a very good point.  Twitter is still a valuable resource for many B2B companies who want to display influence in their industry, share news about their business, or are actively engaging at an event.

To understand exactly what B2B companies should be using the medium for, Messer details further the questions you should be asking:

Are Your Goals Appropriate?
For B2B marketers using most mediums the desired end result is always the same: Generate revenue for the company. However, as the medium has matured and trial and error has been well observed, twitter has shown us that, while it may be a step in the lead maturation process, it’s still largely unproven in itself as a direct customer acquisition medium for those in the B2B space.

What Are Appropriate Goals?
Thought leadership has become the go-to buzz word with regard to justifying B2B investments in twitter, and rightly so. Therefore the question becomes whether the content you’re disseminating via your tweets has viral legs and is becoming part of the conversation. As twitter grows its userbase, content is supplied by more and more users, and overall engagement continues to trend downward, the task of breaking through the noise and engaging your desired audience comes with an ever-increasing degree of difficulty.

What should you avoid?
While it’s important to track and set goals for follower count milestones, RT (re-tweet) stats and/or mentions of your handle to make sure you are not simply shouting into the abyss, these goals should not be the ends in themselves.

And ultimately…

What should you do?
Identify and utilize relevant hashtags for your business and Identify industry thought leaders. Where appropriate, engage them, this can be as simple as retweeting something they’ve tweeted that you like, and get them on your side. If there are none in your space, strive to become that thought leader and see what happens. If you build it and they don’t come, twitter might not be the place for you.

One thing Messer does not point out is that often times, your competitors are the thought leaders he’s referring to in the industry. If you see other companies having success on Twitter, it’s apparent that your industry is one that has an audience on the medium.

If you find yourself in this situation, a great next step would be to use a simple Twitter strategy we call Evaluate. Emulate. Innovate.

Evaluate what the competition is doing on Twitter. When are they posting? How many times a day? Are they engaging a community or talking into thin air? What is the tone? How much do they talk about themselves?

Emulate what works. Get to their level by using the fundamental strategies that are working for their business and others in the industry. Connect with the same thought leaders, and begin providing the original content the audience engages with.

Innovate past them. Once you have improved your efforts and are engaging your audience like your competition once did, take a step ahead before they get a chance to.

This basic strategy will help you ease into Twitter and eventually push your campaigns ahead of your competitors. It takes time and it takes an investment, but if your goals are clear and the opportunity to connect further with your audience presents itself, it’s an investment that will pay off.

If you’d like to talk about using Twitter for your company or how to optimize this platform more efficiently, contact our team at 310.526.7493 or info@atakinteractive.com.

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The importance of search engine optimization for eCommerce websites has dramatically increased in the past few years and will keep increasing through 2015. It is a no brainer to optimize your online store especially if you want more leads and sales through organic Google search. Search engine optimization, although time and effort consuming, is the best tactic to market your website. It’s always easier to optimize content-based websites but when it comes to eCommerce website optimization, the biggest challenge is to optimize product details page. That’s why we as eCommerce and search engine optimization specialists, we want to provide some crucial tips in order to optimize product details page for Google.

Pump Up the Product Description
Optimizing product description text is one of the most important parts of making your website search engine friendly. The product details page is 80% picture.  While that picture needs to be beautiful for customers to love it, search engines unfortunately are not capable of seeing images, which means you should definitely have a great text that describes the product. Check the bullet points below to see how to write a better product description page.

  • Only write unique and helpful description text for your product for higher conversions. Online shoppers like to read as much as they can find about any product before purchasing so make sure it’s detailed too.
  • Don’t copy text from other websites; Google will penalize you.
  • Try to keep the number of words on reasonable levels, don’t over write. Great way to find that optimum number is to open a blank product page on your website and count every word you see on that page (navigation bar, footer, side bars, etc.). Your description text should exceed that amount so you can have a nice ratio.
  • Try not to use description texts from the manufacturers. Those are written for whole buyers, not end buyers. If your eCommerce websites serves for the end user, you shouldn’t copy manufacturer’s text. Not having a unique content will harm your website’s ranking. So try to write from scratch for better results.

Include Product Reviews
70% of all buyers read the product reviews before they make a purchase. This means if you don’t have any reviews on your product pages, you are missing a high percentage of your sales. In addition to that, review pages are moving faster than any other content pages on search results. Benefits of collecting product reviews from your customers are listed below.

  • Automatically creating unique content for every product page. You don’t necessarily have to write, it’s coming from the best source, buyers.
  • Also makes the page active in Google’s eyes, fresh content from real customers.

In order to get more product reviews, try to create some kind of incentive for your customers to leave a review (coupon codes, discounts, gifts, etc.)

Take Search Volume and Competition into Account
When writing your titles, headlines, Meta tags (below), and descriptions for your each product page, you should make a research about how many people are searching for those keywords and how many competitors are going after them. If you choose keywords that have no one search volume, you won’t get any search leads. On the contrary, if you go after highly competitive (vague) keywords, it is going to take a lot of time for you to be successful, which is not a smart strategy either. So try to carefully choose your keywords for Meta tags. We would recommend using model names and brand names on your title tags and headlines.

Always Use Tags and Meta Tags

  • Title Tags: After you’ve completed your keyword research, you are very close to finding the best product title. Then place those keywords on your title tag so search engines can crawl easily and find your page.
  • Description in Meta Tag: Try to use your title tags on your description.  These are all helpful details for your website to get a higher ranking.
  • URL Strings: Try to insert your keywords in the URL strings too. This is the most important part to get a higher rank regarding to your specific keyword. If you put your keywords on the right URL strings, both visitors and Google will love you.

Don’t Forget to Optimize Images

  • Photo Titles: This sounds like a no brainer, but in fact almost every online merchant receives the product pictures from the photographer titled like this: IMG223341-322. Then they usually upload pictures without giving them a proper, meaningful title. It is essential to title your pictures related with what they are showing. Google can crawl those more accurately and faster.
  • Alt Text: This is the best friend of your picture’s search engine optimization. If you ever noticed alt text option when you are uploading a picture to your website, that’s the place you should put your keywords for every single picture. Search engines cannot see or crawl images but they read alt text to understand what the picture is. A picture without an Alt Text is nothing for Google. This part is a must for eCommerce website owners to optimize. “Alt=” this is your alt text on the backend of your platform.
  • File Size: Picture size will affect directly the page loading time, which is a big deal to keep your visitors on site. No one wants a slow website in 2014. Try to check your images’ size before you upload them. If it’s not necessary to view them full page, you don’t need a high quality size picture.
  • Image Captions: Just like the alt text, image captions are telling search engines about what the pictures are about.

In conclusion, optimizing your product details pages will help you get higher rankings on Google and other search engines. If you have any further questions about how to make your eCommerce website more successful please give our eCommerce department a call 1-855-472-1892 or e-mail david@atakinteractive.com

 

 

References

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/seo-errors-ecommerce-websites/

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3465-8-SEO-Pointers-for-Ecommerce-Product-Pages

http://skillcrush.com/2014/05/13/5-ways-optimize-photos-seo/

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Word Press’ WooCommerce plug-in was launched in late 2011 so users can add a shop to their WordPress websites. Today WooCommerce supports a growing percentage of eCommerce stores claiming to be the most popular WordPress eCommerce plug-in offered for WordPress. Downloads are exponentially increasing since their launched in 2011, and in just the first 3 years WooCommerce reported 2.3 million downloads. That number is now around 3.2 million downloads.
WooCommerce provides a great user experience and great features for online startups without costing a fortune. As eCommerce specialists, we at ATAK Interactive wanted to introduce WordPress’ WooCommerce plug-in to you. In addition, share the main reasons to go or not go with the WooCommerce plug-in for you eCommerce business/startup.

WooCommerce is a Plug In
Let’s begin. Before digging more into WooCommerce, there is one important concept to understand: WooCommerce is not a standalone eCommerce platform. WooCommerce is an eCommerce plug-in for the Word Press Content Management Platform only. If your site is not built on WordPress you cannot use this plug-in.

WooCommerce is 100% Free
Yes, just like almost every other open-source platform, WooCommerce is free to download, install, configure, and use, which is why it’s great for eCommerce start-ups, especially those that don’t have a high budget. WooCommerce offers great tools and features for online merchants to sell easily and more innovatively. Whether it’s t-shirts, records or music files, selling on WooCommerce makes this all possible. The only cost would be to develop your web store, which can’t be done without a professional web developer. The plug-in must be installed, skinned to your design and configured to take payments while charging the right amounts for tax, shipping, handling, etc. If you have any ideas about an eCommerce business please give ATAK Interactive a call or send us e-mail; 1-855-472-1892 or info@atakinteractive.com for a free website consultation.

WordPress is a Solid Platform
The biggest advantage of the WooCommerce plug-in is that if you already have a website built in WordPress, you most likely will not have to start a site rebuild from scratch to add an ecommerce component to your website. Building on top of a platform like WordPress is also an advantage because you can still use the many other great tools and specs that come with WordPress.. As WordPress was first built as a blog platform, one can have a great blog on the site to grow your online exposure faster and be reputable in terms of Search Engine Optimization. There are also Search Engine Optimization plug-ins that will help when adding new pages. WordPress is also known as the most user-friendly content management system out there; so we feel it is fair enough to say its specs will definitely help your online store grow faster because your administration experience will be rather efficient and easy to manage. Adding the WooCommerce plug-in is just one of the many useful tools one can add to a website that is on the WordPress platform.

WooCommerce is Customizable
Currently, users are able to download and use 39 different mostly free WooCommerce themes for their online stores. In addition to that there are many other theme options on www.themeforest.com for WooCommerce stores. Regardless from the available themes, you can also customize your online store to make it unique for your brand/business. WooCommerce allows developers design flexibility.

Includes Most Everything You Need Out of the Box
Just because WooCommerce is free doesn’t mean it’s not a professional solution for eCommerce stores; it really is. WooCommerce has almost everything a startup needs out of the box to start and operate a successful online store. To give a few examples, WooCommerce comes with tools for tracking order and customer engagement tools, order status check, tax settings, inventory management, shipping options, coupon codes, etc. Most startups and small stores will have everything needed in the default WooCommerce plug-in. ATAK can customize WooCommerce when needed to achieve some special results.

Let us Manage Expectations a Little
Of course, WooCommerce also has some features that online merchants should take into account before downloading the plug-in. Nothing is perfect. First thing, because it is a standalone plug-in for WordPress; it could have some bugs that come with it. WooCommerce will offer updates and patches for bugs so usually the problems do not last long.

Second, for high traffic online stores, reporting and marketing features aren’t as sophisticated as the Magento platform. As the business grows and certain things are needed, one may outgrow WooCommerce but that would be a good thing (meaning you are making money). Successful stores should consider that WooCommerce may not be the long term solution.  Last but not least, product importing (mass upload) is manual with the default WooCommerce build so if your store is going to have a lot of products, there should be a consideration to buy WooCommerce enhancements such as the “product importer” for $199. Otherwise, adding a lot of products can take a longer time to upload than eCommerce platforms that allow mass imports at default.

In Conclusion
As eCommerce specialists, our team at ATAK Interactive highly recommends WooCommerce for online start-up businesses so that they can get their feet wet and get a proof of concept. We mentioned that WooCommerce, the plug-in, is free to download but you still need to invest some money for your online store development to make every part of your website perfect. In the long run if you want to increase your product line and you have advanced requirements then you may outgrow WooCommerce, and in those cases ATAK recommends Magento, which is also free to download but more complex to build out. If you want to know more about the Magento features please check: Why Magento Is The Best eCommerce Platform?


References:

http://www.cmscritic.com/10-reasons-why-woocommerce-is-perfect-for-ecommerce-startups/

http://baltimoredrew.com/why-woocommerce-wordpress-ecommerce/

http://www.cpcstrategy.com/blog/2014/02/woocommerce-review/

 

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We believe a website should be primarily designed for a business’ customers. Developing a functional, simple to follow and well-designed website is well worth the effort because improving user experience directly correlates to improving your bottom line and credibility. By using these 10 key tips you can create a website all users can enjoy.

 

1. Make the Important Elements Easy to Find
Prioritize your website pages so the most common requests are most easy to find. If one manages a website for a university a smart UX plan for a home page would include finding room for the university name/logo/tagline, how to apply, the academic calendar, a parking and services map, and contact info for users to be able to find. All of these items serve the users rather than showing things like press releases or a letter from the president which may need to be on the website, but not at the forefront.

The first thing ATAK Interactive asks our clients to do when beginning their website, is to take themselves out from their typical “role” and put themselves into their customers shoes (all types; young and old, boy or girl, man or woman, etc.) to decide what is really important. Avoid clutter by eliminating items that do not serve a need to a user.

 

2. Context is More Important than Color When it Comes to Converting
Color choice for the sake of converting users, or getting users to click is not at all about the color, but instead it is about if the color choice stands out. Buttons that blend in are simply ignored and what stands out is easily found or recalled. We call these stand out colors “action colors,” and should be used for actions that are important for the website’s bottom line. We sometimes introduce another color, but only when necessary, to achieve this effect.

 

3. Make Headlines Large and Concise
Website users want to see what the page is about right away and at the top of the page. We recommend every page have a headline and that the headline be concise, bold, and important; then and only then will users read more. Many companies such as www.joansothird.com have gone with this approach.

 

4. Important Objects should be Larger
We all know we will have an easier time kicking ball in a goal that is 5 feet away vs 25. So, items closer to a user’s starting point will draw more attention and are easier for users to find (efficiency and habit recognition is important). Utilize the header and navigation of your website to highlight the most commonly used buttons and make them bigger than other buttons and text. Most people reading a website in English are accustom to reading from top left to bottom right.

Make the most important action buttons even larger, make buttons to play a video introduction easy to find and clear to click, and clearly explain your brand’s top value propositions above the fold. If you need users to click something then make a nice, large, “Click Here” button that stands out. Companies like DropBox.com clearly illustrate a belief in simplicity to guide action.

 

5. White/Empty Space Works
Don’t “Over Text” your site. Make the large text large enough to read and give those headlines room to breathe via white or open space. Too much text on a single line, or paragraphs that are too long intimidate and offend many users. Bullets can work to illustrate ideas while improving user efficiency. Sometimes Italics can work in the right context but are often harder to read. To make text more clear use boldface and do not underline words if they are not links because your users expect them to be.

 

6. Give Directional Cues
Directional cues are elements of a design (or images in a design) used to move a visitor’s eyes to specific areas. In website design those areas are the “conversion goals” the website owner is trying to achieve. Common directional cues are photos of people looking in a certain direction, arrows, stars, exclamation points, highlighted social media buttons, etc.

 

7. Clear Messaging from Start to Close
From initiating action on your home page to the final order thank you page, your website users will look for closure at the end of each action. Users want to know where they are, and what happens next. They also want to know how to get back to where they started or where they were seconds before. Users must be relieved of concern, especially when shopping on ecommerce websites, and must be certain of the order or communication that has processed.

One example is an order thank you page, after an order is completed. Often ATAK Interactive sees a simple message that says “Your Order Has Completed.” Instead, that message should have:
(1) Thank you message with confirmation the order has processed.
(2) A set of expectations of when the order will ship and with what carrier.
(3) A list of all products in that order.
(4) The order total including subtotal, discount amount, tax, shipping, and total.
(5) Any other special messaging for irregular orders that will be handled in a special manner. Make the user is perfectly sure the process has been completed and that the user is good to go.

 

8. Testimonials, Accessibility, and Reviews Can Go a Long Way
Potential customers want to know what others say about your brand. Generally speaking, positive effects occur when adding room near the bottom of your home page where customers explain your expertise, reliability, and trustworthiness. Websites can also convert better when a company shows users how easy contacting your organization can be, how he/she starts, and if the first call is free. Show social media account links/icons if you keep your profiles up to date. If you have happy clients and they allow you to talk about them on your site, then go for it by displaying their logo.

*Tip: Collect testimonials whenever you can.

 

9. Security Relieves Any Concern
Websites must be secure, and users can know whether one is or is not by looking in the address bar of his or her browser. Make sure your website is secured with a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate. Generally a website owner will buy the SSL from the same place the URL was purchased (the registrar). For example, GoDaddy sells the SSL certificates starting at $70/yr. Every site should be behind an SSL and your web developer or your website hosting company can install this for your website. (https://www.godaddy.com/ssl/ssl-certificates.aspx?ci=9039)

 

10. Website Load Time and Mobile Compatibility
Nobody likes a slow site. The more users that do not abandon your sessions on your site, the higher your conversion rates will be. Search engines like Google also take speed into account when determining search rankings.

Every day more users are accessing websites with phones and tablets and those users are sensitive to page loading, perhaps more sensitive than desktop users. Responsive website design exploded in 2014 and will continue to prevail in 2015, eliminating the need to create a normal website and a mobile version. Now with responsive design, they can be the same website eliminating redundant search engine optimization costs, website update costs, and more. Web developers should reduce and optimize what is sent to the browser with correct compression techniques. Developers can also do things like take advantage of full browser caching to reduce resource usage and add a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for better access to users further away, and more.

The more traffic your site gets the more this becomes a concern. Also, if most of your users are mobile device users, this is also a major concern. ATAK always says if you have problems like this you are growing, and even though this needs to be resolved, these are good problems to have.

 

11. *Bonus – Don’t Be Scared of “The Fold”
Pages can be as long as they need to be. Sure, the most important page information should be at the top of your website but do not squash everything into one place. Users will scroll if there is information to see so let product details be as long as they need to be and use a long landing page for service information. To alleviate what can concern users who get to longer pages, break up paragraphs and change headline styles and sizes for main headings vs. sub headings vs. text. You can test this theory by creating A/B pending pages with short and long text to see what changes. ATAK Interactive has seen long pages done correctly resulting in more qualified customers being converted to purchase products and services.

A great website pleases a user’s eye, adds value, creates a return, and technically impresses the early adopter. The effort is well worth it. If you’d like to make any of these changes to you website, give us a call at 310.526.7493. Let’s grow together.

 

 

 

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A couple months back, my colleagues and I went to a restaurant called Hurry Curry of Tokyo for one of our Lunch Club adventures. Up on the wall was a large monitor with an interactive flow of social media content related to the restaurant. The stream of Instagram posts of the restaurant’s food, positive Yelp reviews, and conversations on Twitter, all from restaurant patrons, immediately grabbed our eye.

Wondering how it all functioned, we took out our phones and got to work. One person did a quick tweet at Hurry Curry. The next person posted a photo to Instagram of our appetizer. Almost immediately, these social media posts were up on the interactive board.

This was a game-changer. 

We asked our server to bring over the manager. After assuring him he had done nothing wrong, he obliged.

“What is that?” I asked.

“The board? It’s called Enplug.” the manager replied.

I didn’t even wait to get back to the office. I had to Google “Enplug” immediately. How much did this cost? How did it work? What type of creative was needed? How much monitoring is involved?

And most importantly…how can I get this on the walls of every brick and mortar client I work with?

For years I’ve told clients, “just because someone loves your company, does not mean they’re necessarily going to follow you day-to-day on their social media channels. You have to give them a reason.”

If you read enough “How to Get Your Business More Social Media Followers” articles, you’ll see the same material: inspire your customers, offer them deals and discounts, give them a forum to provide feedback, etc.

And to be fair, these sentiments all ring true. People love coupons, they love being inspired by a brand, and they love having their voices heard. But where Enplug can really push these notions further is through a live, interactive experience with an immediacy that engages a customer immediately.

Enplug is a creative call to action for any customer inside your store to become involved with the brand. Tweet us and you’ll see it pop up now. Upload a photo of your meal, and everybody else in the restaurant will know who you are on Instagram.

This hyper-connectivity between patrons and businesses has never been closer, and Enplug is the solution for this. The software is incredibly customizable so businesses can choose to showcase an array of content: Instagram posts, tweets, Facebook posts, Yelp reviews, Pinterest boards, original ads, etc. The timing of each piece of content can be changed depending on how long the business wants them on the screen. It’s easy to monitor and manage every step of the way. Oh, and plans start at just $100/month to use the software, so it’s incredibly cost-efficient.

What’s going to be interesting to see with Enplug is how the software will integrate to less sturdy business operations than those with a physical space. Many businesses would love this type of technology at trade shows and industry events in which they have monitors in their booth. Of course, they would want a week-long plan as opposed to something monthly.  Mobile businesses such as food trucks could utilize the technology if it could integrate on a device that was easier to transport, such as an iPad. We’re just scratching the surface of what a technology like this can do.

But where we sit in 2014, it’s time for brick and mortar to invest in Enplug if the goal is to increase social media engagement. It’s the perfect solution to get patrons that are enjoying your brand to get involved with you on social media in real time.

If you want to learn more about Enplug and all of its capabilities, please contact Austin LaRoche at austin@atakinteractive.com.

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As eCommerce and website marketing specialists, we at ATAK Interactive choose to educate our clients and colleagues as best we can, when we can. Recently we started a series on Google Analytics to introduce users to this incredibly useful, and free, tool. So far, our topics “Overview”, “How to Setup,” “Goals and Funnels”, and “User Acquisitions” cover everything you need to understand to start using Google Analytics for your website analysis. With this article we are finalizing our Google Analytics series a summary about the most recent update, “Universal Analytics,” which is out of beta into primetime. This article will provide you everything you should know about the new update.

 

Overview

Universal Analytics is the re-imagining of classic Google Analytics for today’s multiscreen, multi device world and all the measurement challenges that come with it. The Universal Analytics Upgrade is a process one can use to upgrade all classic Google Analytics properties into Universal Analytics properties without losing any data or changing your account settings. The update will have all the robust set of features you are used to with the classic Google Analytics, but Universal Analytics is the new operating system for Google Analytics so all product updates and new features will only be available on this platform. Classic properties that get its tracking codes from the old version won’t get any new updates, which is why it is crucial to start understanding and using Universal Analytics right away. As a plus, one can upload and transfer all data from Google Analytics to Universal Analytics without losing any data or account settings, so it’s 100% supported in that way. After one is done with the whole upgrading process, the user will now get improved data processing, new collection methods, and more analysis tools. All Google Analytics properties will soon be required to use Universal Analytics. Any properties that don’t follow the upgrade process will be auto-transferred to Universal Analytics in the future.

 

Connect Multiple Devices and Sessions (User ID)

User ID is a brand new feature of Universal Analytics that enables the association of one or more sessions (and activity within those sessions) with a unique and persistent ID that one sends to Google Analytics. With the User ID, one can get a more accurate user count, analyze the signed in user experience, and get access to the new Cross device reports. All activity is attributed to one user in this report.  As an example, one could send the unique IDs generated by your own authentication system to Google Analytics as values for the User ID. Any engagement, like link clicks and page or screen navigation, that happen while a unique ID is assigned can be sent and connected in Google Analytics via the User ID.

 

New Data Collection Methods

Universal Analytics introduces three brand new data collection methods, which will help users to tailor their collections. They created data collection methods for websites, Android or IOS, and other digital devices like game consoles or etc. For websites use analytics.js, for IOS-Android use the Mobile SDKs V2, and use Measurement Protocol for other devices.

 

Configuration Options

Another new feature that comes with Universal Analytics is that from now on one doesn’t have to adjust tracking code to make modifications. From the admin panel users can control all these options below:

  • Organic search sources
  • Session and campaign timeout handling
  • Referral exclusions
  • Search term exclusions

 

Improved eCommerce Analysis

If you have an eCommerce website, you will love Universal Analytics. Google now provides Enhanced eCommerce Reports that help analyze your user’s shopping and purchasing behaviors. In addition, one can measure the success of internal and external marketing efforts in correlation with a certain products and economic performance.

 

In conclusion, Google Analytics updated their system with Universal Analytics, which is out of beta testing and ready to use. As eCommerce and online marketing specialists, we at ATAK Interactive wanted to inform you about this update and let you know what are the new features that come with the Universal Analytics. We recommend one gets up to speed as soon as possible to take advantages before their competitors settle in. If you need any further help please give us a call at 310-526-7493 or e-mail info@atakinteractive.com

 

References:

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/upgrade/

http://analytics.blogspot.com/2014/04/universal-analytics-out-of-beta-into.html

 

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In recent news, Magento announced their latest version, Community Edition (CE) 1.9. Every time a new version of Magento is released ATAK Interactive always gets the question, “what are the changes?” The other common follow up is, “Do I need this?” The answer to finding out code and database structure changes can be complicated and hard to decipher. As eCommerce specialists, our job is to be aware and explain our position so our customers can make the educated decision to jump or not.

 

In this article, we will mostly dig into Magento’s new version, 1.9. We will list some of the new features that may impact your decision to upgrade, and we will offer our opinion on when is the right time to upgrade your current Magento 1.8 build, or older version, to Magento 1.9.

 

Magento Overview
Today, ATAK Interactive still believes that Magento is the best and most flexible eCommerce platform available. Our stance on why Magento is the best platform can read by clicking here.

 

Briefly, Magento is an open source eCommerce platform that offers its users the most flexibility managing all elements of their online store. The feature set is hard to beat, out of the box, and the Magento administration area operates with minimal to zero coding knowledge required. Further, and unlike many “hosted” ecommerce solutions, Magento allows for total customizability when it comes to design, performance, and functionality enhancements (or reconfiguration) for developers building online stores and need total control to manipulate how features perform. Magento is also a developer friendly company, offering developers a community where problems can be discussed and modules can be shared/purchased to save time, rather than having to code elements from scratch. Magento is owned and backed up by eBay, which means the company, for now, has solid backing and Magento is clearly the result of years of ecommerce experience and developer collaboration. What most of our customers care about is this; The Magento ecommerce platform has most robust and best features, out of the box, out there, and we can manipulate it any way we need to so we accomplish your specific goals.

 

Magento 1.9, The Latest Release; What’s New?
Fortunately, we can say that the release did not include lots of changes. There are minor bug fixes for catalog updates, but not much at all when it comes to the database structure, and most website owners would not see enough of a difference to warrant an upgrade.

 

Responsive Design
Responsive design is becoming one of the biggest trends in the website environment. Responsive design makes the website scale automatically according to the size they are viewed on, regardless from the user’s browser device. It’s a single site that works perfectly on every device such as large monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. With four out of every five smartphone users using smartphones to shop it’s more important than ever before to have a mobile friendly website. To get more information on responsive design please read this article on responsive design. With a responsive site, merchants will be better able to participate in the fast growing mobile commerce space, and will have a site that is more easily adapted to new opportunities and less expensive to maintain. A responsive site also offers potential SEO benefits from using Google’s preferred approach to mobile-optimizing sites.

 

Smartphone Shoppers Now Represent 4 out of 5 Smartphone Users*”

 

Magento 1.9 now has a responsive default theme to be more convenient and provide a better experience to its mobile users. Magento is now mobile and tablet friendly if you use the default theme. A new responsive design reference theme makes it easier for developers to create responsive sites, and new payment options help merchants improve conversion rates and sales. ATAK thinks we can get a tablet and smart phone friendly responsive Magento site in about 2/3 the time as before, speeding time to market and freeing up resources for other projects.

 

PHP Update and Zend Framework Updates
Magento 1.9’s PHP update is quite a big deal for all the developers, now they are supported by PHP 5.4. PHP 5.4 has some new features so it’s good that Magento is compatible with it from now on. Further, the Zend Framework the system is built on has been upgrades to version 1.12.3. Merchants will benefit from greater security and ongoing support updates.

 

 

Improved Payment and Checkout Process
One of the new features that comes with Magento 1.9 is the ability to disable the order review page. Before you place the order, even if you change the quantity, it’s no longer needed to update an order. Now we can can skip some unnecessary steps like “Order Review and Update Order”. It has also integrated a Bill Me Later service, which statistically increases sales by 18%. There is also a smoother PayPal Express checkout. Again, we can now can skip pages that are not needed, but on top of that, PayPal Express also tries alternative payment options when a customer’s credit card is rejected.

 

Magento’s New Bill Me Later Service Can Increase Sales by 18%

 

To decrease the online buyers (shoppers) confusion when they are purchasing a product, Magento 1.9 uses consistent cross-border pricing. It’s a clearer and more transparent payment process for customers from all over the world. Merchants can show a single price regardless of the country and international taxes.

 

Improved Security and Other Fixes
With Magento 1.9, you will have improved security which is crucial for every eCommerce website. There are more than 50 updates, just to name a few: closing potential cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, improved file system security, removal of unsafe .swf files from the Magento distribution, and improved security action URLs such as billing agreements.

 

So Is It Necessary to Upgrade Magento 1.9?
It is ATAK Interactive’s opinion that if your site does everything you want it to do right now, and your customers are not complaining about bugs or asking for new features, then you should wait for the next version, or two. ATAK can accomplish many of the same front end fixes accomplished in 1.9 (such as responsive design) without having to move you from your old version. ATAK can address some of the changes, if needed, in your old store rather than having to start over (most of the time).

 

The most important deciding factor is how much customization your current Magento site has and when it is beneficial to consider having to redo those customizations on a new platform. If an ecommerce site has many custom features and many modules installed, you are basically looking at starting all of that over from scratch when you move to a new version. One can keep the design, but essentially the new version needs to be installed and the customizations need to be recoded to work as you need them to work. Module compatibility will also need to be addressed. The module you purchased for version 1.8 or earlier will most likely not work for the newest version. The updated modules will need to be purchased and then reinstalled to the new system.

 

We only recommend doing the upgrade when a complete redesign is called for. There are too few gains for the expense, but if there is a clear reason then the option is of course there. Below you can see a clearer list of enhancements to help you make your decision.

 

Here is a clear list of the Magento 1.9 security enhancements:

  • Addressed a potential cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability while creating configurable product variants.
  • Addressed a potential security issue that could result in displaying information about a different order to a customer.
  • Users can no longer change the currency if the payment method PayPal Website Payments Standard is used.
  • Removed a .swf file from the Magento distribution because of security issues.
  • Improved file system security.
  • Enhanced the security of action URLs, such as billing agreements.
  • Addressed a potential session fixation vulnerability during checkout.
  • Improved the security of the Magento randomness function.

 

Web Store and Shopping Cart Fixes

  • A customer can update quantities of items in their mini shopping cart from their My Account page.
  • The Minimum Advertised Price pop-up works properly in the web store. When the customer clicks Click for price, the price displays as expected.
  • The “customer since” date is correct.
  • Switching stores when viewing a product with store-scoped URL keys works as expected.
  • Setting System > Configuration > CATALOG > Inventory, option Display Out of Stock Products to Yes no longer causes all products to appear as out of stock.
  • Entering accented characters in the zip code field during checkout results in a validation error instead of an exception message.
  • Gift card codes are sent only after an item is purchased.
  • A customer who attempts to log in as another customer with incorrect credentials is denied.
  • Resolved issues with applying a 100% discount to an order.
  • Customers are no longer redirected to the home page when they have permission to view a category.
  • Discount amount displays correctly for products with custom options.
  • Issues with placing PayPal Payments Advanced or PayPal Payflow Link orders using Internet Explorer 9 have been resolved.

 

Promotional Price Rule Fixes

The following relate to administering and using cart price rules and catalog price rules

  • Shopping cart price rules apply properly to grouped products.
  • Two catalog price rules applied to the same product work properly.
  • The setting Stop Further Rules Processing is honored.
  • A user with read-only privileges in the Admin Panel cannot save changes to a price rule.
  • Applying a shopping cart price rule does not display an exception.
  • Coupon codes apply only to products eligible for the price rule.

 

Administrative Ordering, Invoicing, and Credit Memo Fixes

  • An administrative user with access to only one website from which a product was deleted no longer sees a stack trace when attempting to create an RMA for that product. In other words, after a customer placed an order for a product on Website1, an administrator with privileges to all websites removes the product. Later, when an administrator with access to only Website1 attempts to create an RMA for the deleted product, that administrator no longer sees an error message; instead, they see an expected Access Denied message.
  • Resolved an issue with incorrectly calculating the amount of an invoice when some items were discounted by a shopping cart price rule.
  • Credit memo amount is calculated correctly when processing a partial invoice with a discount.
  • Making comments in a credit memo no longer returns items to stock. (Prerequisite: an administrator set System > Configuration > CATALOG > Inventory > Product Stock Options, option Automatic

 

Import Fixes

  • A product with a custom attribute set imports successfully.

 

Payment Method Fixes

  • If guest checkout is disabled, a customer must log in to check out with PayPal Express.
  • Eliminated errors in the logs when an administrator clicks System > Configuration > SALES > Payment Methods.
  • You can now use New Zealand dollars as the base currency with the eWAY Direct payment bridge.
  • Store credit is applied correctly when using Website Payments Pro Hosted Solution.
  • If the merchant country is Germany (DE), disabled guest checkout for the express checkout method and PayPal Website Payments Standard.

Other

  • Categories on the web store now display with spaces between category names for cached and non-cached pages.
  • A customer can now initiate a return from the web store.
  • An administrative user can subscribe to low stock RSS feeds without errors.
  • Category URLs work as expected, regardless of the setting of Create Custom Redirect for old URL for the category’s URL key.
  • Setting allow_url_fopen = Off in php.ini has no effect on the CMS WYSIWYG editor.
  • No fatal error displays when a role-restricted user previews a newsletter in the Admin Panel.
  • Google Sitemap files now include the .html suffix for category and product URLs.
  • Customers can use advanced search on your web store if Magento EE is configured to use the default MySQL Fulltext search engine and the server uses MySQL 5.6.
  • A role-restricted user can preview a newsletter in the Admin Panel to which the user has privileges.
  • After synchronizing media files with the database, media/customer/.htaccess is present with the correct data. (Prerequisite: an administrator set System > Configuration > ADVANCED > System > Storage Configuration for Media set to Database).
  • cron now restarts indexers if they previously failed to run.
  • You can save changes to a category that has more than 1,000 products.
  • Deactivating one of several banners no longer causes exceptions in system.log.
  • Resolved issues with the WSDL cache.
  • Improved the efficiency of product searches.
  • Resolved issues with the DHL International shipping method.
  • Resolved 404 (Not Found) errors in layered navigation.
  • Resolved a SQL error when attempting to assign a bundled product to another website.
  • Rules-based product relations perform as expected after being saved.
  • Resolved an issue with sending duplicate Content-Type headers when using mod_fastcgi with the Apache web server.

 

References:

http://www.magentocommerce.com/knowledge-base/entry/ce19-later-release-notes

*http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press-Releases/2012/9/Retailers-Carving-Out-Space-in-the-M-Commerce-Market

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You’ve done a lot of hard work. You created your business logo. You created your social media accounts.  You populated them with all of your business’ information. Now it’s time to show off your brand!  We’ve created this helpful infographic to make sure your business stands out by detailing what the correct image sizes are for headers, profile pictures, and other design elements on each social media platform.  *Please note that these dimensions change all the time and may need to be updated at a future date.

Feel free to contact our Communications Specialist, Nicole at nicole@atakinteractive.com for more details and to talk about how we can optimize your social presence.

 

2014 Social Media Image Sizes.png

Sources:

http://postcron.com/en/blog/social-media-image-dimensions-sizes/

http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-image-sizes-guide/

http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/social-media-marketing/social-media-image-size/

www.piktochart.com

 

 

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