ATAK at Inbound 2018

Why We Decided to Become a Hubspot Partner

Over the next 6 months, ATAK is excited to make a series of announcements about our company and some of the new frontiers we will soon be entering. The first of these comes today.

ATAK is now a HubSpot Agency, and after just a short month with them, have already become Silver Partners.

I want to take a little time and express why we chose to team with HubSpot and why we believe in the company and their vision.

For anyone unfamiliar, HubSpot describes themselves as “inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.” At their core, they are a software company. But like many great organizations, they know why they do what they do and have built an evangelical following of agencies and clients because of it.

HubSpot is fanatical about using an educational approach to helping businesses grow. They want to teach, they want to collaborate, and they want to innovate. ATAK shares these values and believes in them.

With that said, this shared belief in the “why we do what we do” has not always led to a shared belief in the “how we do it.” For years, HubSpot’s “Inbound Methodology” has had many cracks in it.

Take their old suggestion for how to “Attract” the right customers as an example:


Create blog posts, eBooks, videos, and other content that answers questions your prospects are asking. Optimize it for search engines and share it on social media.

All of this sounds wonderful in theory:

We will create great content. We will publish it on our social channels. Our target market will just see it there or in their searches and get in touch with us to do business because that content is SO good!

But when you’ve been in digital marketing for over 10 years and worked with over 100 clients, you know that this “if you build it, they will come” approach sounds good, but the results rarely back it up.

And you know who else knows this? HubSpot.

Without making a fuss about it or even calling any attention to it, HubSpot has kept their “Attract > Convert > Delight” framework and put the right pieces in place to position the software beyond that initial “inbound is the new way and everything else is dying” mentality. They went back to their core purpose, and recognized that “inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers” doesn’t have to solely live inside of everything their software can offer.

And this evolution and this way of thinking is what showcased to ATAK Interactive that HubSpot was the right partner for us.

Their software now has the ability to integrate with over 200 applications and the list is growing every day. Their learning academy offers sales training that goes way beyond “writing blog posts to attract customers” and offers real methods for prospecting, following-up with, and closing opportunities. Their Marketing + Sales hubs allow companies to align the two verticals and help ensure they are working together. Their workflow automation tools allow businesses to provide valuable content to their prospects and increase their chances at converting them into customers.


Basically, HubSpot’s good-intentioned marketing software has evolved into a real growth platform. They are unifying sales and marketing methods into a single growth mindset, just as ATAK has for the past four years. They’ve turned a once-rigid way-of-thinking into an agile piece of technology that actually help companies grow.

When companies “lean in” and combine Sales (HubSpot integrates with Salesforce and also offers their own CRM), Marketing, and Service operations, the “Attract > Convert > Delight” work is easily automated and optimized. With a smaller amount of resources needed, sales and marketing teams can become much more efficient and handle more prospects and customers.

Change is evolution and we want to partner with the team we know is dedicating to improving and leading the industry. We are proud to work with HubSpot, to run our operation on their software, and to offer it to our customers.

If you want to learn more about the platform and see if it would be a good fit for your organization, you can set up a free consultation with me at I’ll be happy to get you on board as a fellow cult member Brand Enthusiast.

– S. Austin LaRoche

CMO, ATAK Interactive

8 Changes Your Website Needs to Be GDPR Compliant

You’ve heard a lot of talk about GDPR, but what exactly is it and how is it going to affect you and your business? First, let’s do a quick throwback to the 90s (why hello dial-up internet access!) when the Data Protection Directive (DPD) was released. Back when the internet was essentially the wild west, the DPD was the first set of rules ever written for the internet. Since then, the internet has completely transformed in ways we never could have predicted. This meant that a new set of regulations had to be made.

On May 25th, 2018, a new set of rules AKA the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), went into effect. The new regulations spell out specific rights that individuals have in regards to whether or not they’d like to relinquish the rights to their data. Because some of these changes directly affect aspects of digital marketing compliance, we want to make sure you’re up to date on how to become GDPR compliant. If your business holds, collects, or uses customer data, we highly recommend doing an audit of your processes. In order to stay on the right side of the law and avoid some hefty fines, check out our steps to ensure that your website is GDPR compliant.

1. Forms Must Be Active Opt-In

Previously, having a pre-checked form wasn’t considered bad practice. Under the GDPR, forms that ask users to subscribe to newsletters or indicate their contact preference now have to default to being un-checked, otherwise it’s considered implied consent.

2. Separate Opt-In Checks

Many sites used to bundle user consent into a single multitasking checkbox. Now, you have to have separate checkboxes to consent or opt-in to different things, for example, you need a checkbox where users can consent to data use and another for agreeing to terms and conditions.

3. Make Sure Your Cookies Are Compliant

Notifying a user that there are cookies on the site that may collect their data is no longer enough, you must make it possible for users to both accept or reject cookies. Also, even after they’ve opted-in, users must always have the option to opt-out of cookies at any time.

“Notifying a user that there are cookies on the site that may collect their data is no longer enough.”

4. Remove Personal Information

After users make an online purchase, are you storing their information in your database indefinitely? The GDPR isn’t explicit about how long exactly you can store user data, rather they require a company be transparent about how long they plan to store the data. This means you’ll have to modify your web processes to remove individual data within a reasonable amount of time and make this time period known to your users.

5. Granular Opt-in Options

You must provide your users with the power to consent separately for different processes. This means that users shouldn’t just have one box to tick for opting-in to communication, instead they should have the option to only opt-in to the specific type of communication they wish to receive.

6. Easy to Withdraw Submissions or Opt-Out

Individuals should always have the option to opt-out and know that they always have the right to withdraw their consent at any time. This means they should have the right to unsubscribe to certain streams of communication or easily change the frequency at which they receive communications from your company.

7. Opt-Ins For Each Named Party

Before, it was common practice to bundle your third party consent in one checkbox, now each named party needs to be listed and users have to have the right to consent to each separately.

8. Privacy Notice and Terms & Conditions

You need to update your website’s privacy notice to clearly state how a users data may be collected and used and which applications you’re using to track their interactions. You will also need to update your current Terms & Conditions page to reflect the GDPR verbiage. This must include how long you’ll retain their information on your website and your site database.

Make sure your website GDPR compliant so you stay on the right side of the law and avoid any fines. If you have any questions, please shoot us an email at We’re here to help! 

11 Features Every Ecommerce Site Needs in 2019

There’s nothing worse than wanting to purchase something online and hitting an ecommerce site that is confusing, slow, or flat out doesn’t work. At ATAK, we’ve seen our fair share of frustrating ecommerce sites, but usually the fixes are really simple. If you’re kicking off your own ecommerce website, we can help you avoid some common mistakes. Here are the 12 most obvious features your 2018 ecommerce site absolutely needs.

1. Easy to Use

The last thing your customers want is a stressful shopping experience. Remove all remnants of anxiety or confusion by providing them with a website that has clear and consistent messaging, easy to find customer reviews, and a relevant FAQ section. Also, take a hard look at every link and piece of copy and take out anything that isn’t necessary.

2. High Quality Photos and Video

First impressions are important, don’t let the first encounter a potential customer has with one of your products be a grainy, underlit image. You want them to see your products in the best possible light so invest in some high quality images for your website and social media channels.  

3. Be Mobile and Browser Friendly

Did you know if Google finds your site “mobile unfriendly” your business will not come up in search results when a user is searching from their phone? Did you also know 62% of mobile users have made a purchase from their mobile devices in the last 6 months? Don’t miss out on a huge chunk of potential customers. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Beyond that, go through the purchasing funnel on a few different phones and web browsers to catch any bugs or confusing prompts. Different mobile operating systems can show your website in slightly different ways so be sure to test it out on a few devices.

4. Special Offers

If users hit your website with a high intent to purchase, having a special offer prominently displayed can really clinch the sale. To create a special offer that entices your customers but doesn’t gouge your bottom line, first determine your cost of acquisition for each new customer and use that as a guide to set the parameters for special offers.

5. Related Items

Not every click is going to lead a customer to the exact right product. Including a “related items” section can keep customers on the site for longer and increase the chance that they find what they’re looking for. Many brands are taking this type of feature a step further and adding a “people who bought this also bought” or “also in this collection” tool to help users find more accurate accessories to match.

6. Social Profiles and UGC

Potential customers can get the best sense of your product by seeing it in the wild. Having your social profiles linked helps customers see your products in a more natural setting. Including UGC submissions, or content actual customers have submitted or posted online, allows users to get an idea of the lifestyle your product denotes.

7. Favorites or Wishlists

Not every person who hits your site is ready to purchase your awesome products right away. Make sure you make it really simple for potential customers to save their preferred items for later.

8. Security Features

Keep your customer’s information safe from potential cybercriminals. Update your website’s security features to include an SSL certificate, two-factor authentication, and a clear privacy policy link in the footer. (If you have any questions on how to set up these security features for your website, email us at and we can help you.)  

9. Advanced payment options

With the availability of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Amazon Pay, and PayPal, your users are used to quick, hassle-free payments. Make sure to make entering and submitting payment as simple as possible, and again, have your team go through the purchasing funnel so you know exactly how easy it is.

10. Contact Page and Ticketing System

Have a contact page with multiple ways to get in touch– include your email address, phone number, and an online form so your customers know you’re never more than a click or call away.

11. Return policy

Create a really seamless experience for your customers by having a crystal clear, hassle-free return policy. This way, even if the item wasn’t perfect for them, you’ll leave a positive impression in their mind and ensure that they’ll be back for more.

With these 11 ecommerce features, you’re ready to create an enjoyable and safe online shopping experience for your customers.

6 B2B Marketing Strategies for 2019

The world of business to business marketing is constantly expanding and best practices are changing rapidly. When was the last time you updated your company’s B2B marketing strategy? We want to make sure you’re staying up to date with the most effective strategies so you can maintain your competitive edge. Read on for some of our top B2B strategies to help your company get ahead.

1. Sophisticate Your Email Marketing by Keeping Your CRM Well Maintained

The first step to effective marketing is to know your customer really well. One way you can achieve this is by keeping your CRM in tip-top shape. A CRM is only useful if you keep your lists well maintained, ensuring all information is up to date, labeling your campaigns accurately and clearly, standardizing your data conventions across the board, and doing regular audits for data quality. With a clean list, you can begin sending much more targeted email campaigns to prospects at all stages of the funnel, in specific regions, industries, etc.

2. Email Automation

Did you know that setting up effective email automation can increase your sales by an average of 10%? Email automation allows you to send messages to specific customers at designated times, often based on their on-site behavior. It’s typically tapping customers at key points of engagement to help nudge them further down the funnel. This is one of the most low effort ways you can turn leads into customers; once you’ve created an email flow it’ll allow for having clear and consistent communications with your clients while saving you from having to send time-consuming individualized messages.

3. Get in the Weeds with Your Customers

Consumer marketing often involves making vague, hyperbolic statements that sound appealing but don’t actually hold up. For B2B marketing, your audience knows the products and services, so your messaging and content should be well informed and straightforward. This means staying away from publishing articles and social posts with sensational clickbait-y titles and focusing instead on high-quality content that is detailed-oriented and valuable to industry insiders.

4. Think ROI for Clients in Messaging

Remember, your company’s roll is to sell products and services that are going to help other business run more efficiently.  If your product can save your customers time and/or money, don’t be afraid to showcase what that actually looks like. Similar to the tip above, don’t be afraid to wade in the specifics of what a return on investment looks like. With repeat business being so essential to B2B organizations, make sure you follow-up and examine the return you’re providing for them. It can be a great case study to draw from.

5. Visually Appealing Collateral

We get it, if you’re printing brochures or paying for a billboard, it’s tempting to want to cram in every last detail about your products or services. Trust us, more is rarely better. Instead, take a step back and consider what the underlying message you want potential customers to receive, then boil it down to a few key points and lead with those. Clean, clear communication will always be king.

6. Make Sure Sales and Marketing Teams Are Working Together

Have you ever seen a rowing team that’s fallen out of sync with each other? Instead of moving forward, the boat starts to totter from side to side awkwardly. Don’t let this happen to your company, keep your marketing and sales teams in sync. This means making sure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to company mission statements, messaging, and public goals. Take the time to ensure everyone is trained so that, when asked, employees from any team can give a clear explanation about what the company does and why it exists.

The best way to keep your B2B marketing on track is to ensure all your channels are working synergistically. The world of B2B marketing is transforming at a rapid pace, stay tuned on the latest by subscribing to the ATAK Interactive newsletter.

Can You Use Instagram Stories to Increase Sales?

Instagram added Instagram Stories as a way to compete with the app millennials are obsessed with, SnapChat. Now it’s become its own entity and brands are finding unique ways to use it towards their marketing and content efforts, from increasing online traffic to generating foot traffic to offering special deals.

What are Instagram Stories?

First, you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve seen these ‘Instagram Stories’ before but what are they exactly?” Great question. Instagram Stories is a feature that lets you post images, 15 second video clips, or text, that vanish in 24 hours. It also includes a “live” function, which we will only cover briefly today. Why would something so ephemeral be beneficial to your content strategy? Instagram Stories is a great tool to help your brand stay top of mind because they’re shown in real time. This means each time you add a story, your brand pops to the front of the line-up and your followers are more likely to see it. Also, the more often you post content that incentivizes users (i.e. coupon codes, secret sales), the more your followers will be trained to check your stories on a daily basis.

It might seem like a lot to digest, but don’t worry. We’re going to break it into seven very simple steps you can take to use Instagram Stories to increase sales.

1. Polls

If you’ve ever played around with Instagram Stories, you’ve likely come across these delightful, simple polls. As a brand, this is a great way to get immediate feedback about what your customers are interested in. For example, let’s say you run a nail polish company, and you’re having trouble deciding which color to release next. You can post two swatches and poll people on which one they’d be most excited about. You’ll gain instant feedback and you’re also helping to generate buzz for your upcoming product launch.

2. Offer Flash Discounts

Instagram Stories is the perfect place to announce a flash sale because it’ll expire within 24 hours. It’s also a way to reward users that are heavily invested in your brand because it’ll only be seen by customers who are constantly checking in.

3. Use Links In Your Stories

An important thing to note is that Instagram Stories becomes an exponentially more useful tool once you hit 10K followers. Currently, verified accounts or accounts that have over 10K followers have the ability to add links to their Instagram stories, which is huge because it means you’ll be able track traffic and conversions from Instagram Stories campaigns.

4. Influencer Takeovers

Is your brand thinking of working with influencers in your industry? If so, doing an Instagram Story takeover is a great way to get your audience engaged with your content. You can give an influencer free reign to engage with your users, promote particular products, and utilize their social media clout to help you gain new brand loyalists.

5. Behind the Scenes

Nowadays with social media, transparency is the name of the game. Some people DO want to see how the sausage is made. Afraid you don’t have anything interesting to show your customers? You’d be surprised. These behind the scenes Instagram Stories can cover everything from exclusive makeup tutorials to showing the baking process of your world famous cupcakes to revealing what goes into remodeling a storefront for opening. That’s right, you can literally turn watching paint dry into something fascinating.

6. Go Live

Want to explain the merits of a product or service in detail? Want to answer user questions immediately? Go live on Instagram Stories. Rather than limiting you to 15-second video clips, this allows you to live stream to your followers. When you go live, your profile image will appear at the top of follower feeds with an eye-catching, colorful ring around it. Once live, you’ll get real-time comments, likes, and questions from your customers.

7. Launch a New Product

Part of the challenge in marketing a product is building mystique and having control of the product’s story. Instagram Stories can help you build a curated launch campaign for any of your products. Depending on your brand aesthetics, you can upload anything from beautiful HD videos set to music or fun boomerangs that tease the product or service.

We know getting the full Instagram Stories download could be a little intimidating at first, but now you’re raring to go! Let us know how your experience is.

6 SEO Mistakes You’re Probably Making (And How to Fix Them)

Sure, it’s easy to nod along whenever your colleagues mention SEO, but sometimes all the jargon goes right over your head. Ranking. Organic. Keyword Density. Trust us, you’re not alone. But don’t let it intimidate you. As complicated as SEO can be, there are still very simple steps you can implement today that will ensure your content is up to industry SEO standards.

First off, what is SEO really, and why does it matter? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that it’s more likely a search engine, like Google or Bing, serves your link as the top result when users search a keyword. It’s important that your content pages are optimized because it will help increase site traffic which in turn can increase leads and transactions.

Well if SEO is so important, everyone’s probably pretty great at it, right? Turns out, even some of the best website out there make these seven common SEO mistakes:


1. Having Messy URLs

Keep your URLs as clean and concise as possible to help improve SEO rankings and user experience. Some blog visual editors, like WordPress, automatically pull in the title or first line of the blog post into the URL field. Often times, this is a bit too long and chock full of grammatical articles, like “the” or “an”. Always take the time to shorten these URLs until they simply contain pertinent words. For example, if your article title is “32 Reasons Why Lemurs Are Super Awesome”, you can tailor your URL down to “/awesome-lemurs” or “/reasons-lemurs-awesome”.

2. Choosing Irrelevant Keywords

Without the correct keywords, there’s almost no chance new users are going to come across your amazing content. Make sure to do your keyword research and pinpoint what commonly searched terms pertain to your company, then you can create content relative to these key terms.

3. Publishing Content That Isn’t Original

Ensure that all the content you publish is original and that you’re putting out content at a consistent rate. Publishing borrowed content can get your site marked as spam or downgrade your search results.

4. Forgetting to Include Title Tags and Meta Tags

It’s easy to overlook this small step but it can actually be the difference between a new user clicking or not. When you don’t fill out the Title Tag and Meta Tag fields, your content link will appear without context when it appears on a search page. Finally, take the extra time to make sure your titles and meta tags are clear and straightforward, cute and witty is great but readable is best.

5. Over-Stuffing Keywords

Yes, we know, keyword stuffing used to be the sure fire way to improve your SEO rankings, well we’re here to tell you that times have changed. Now search engines have grown more sophisticated and can spot overstuffed keywords from a mile away. Instead of trying to pack on keywords, focus on a few relevant keywords and include them only when relevant.

6. Not Being Mobile-Friendly

Making your site mobile-friendly isn’t going to directly affect your SEO ranking but consider this: if people click on your website from their mobile devices and land on a clunky site that isn’t mobile optimized, they’ll likely bounce off the site right away. With mobile searches increasing year over year, this is something to keep in mind.

Make these small tweaks and you’ll already be ahead of the curve. Bet a lot of these were simpler than you imagined. You’ve got this. Happy SEO optimizing!  

How to Optimize Your Company LinkedIn Page in 40 Minutes (or Less!)

You’ve been connecting with colleagues and peers on LinkedIn for years but have you tapped into the power of LinkedIn company pages? Having an optimized LinkedIn company page can help you stay top of mind, become a thought leader in your industry, and attract top talent. Here are seven simple ways to spruce up your company page.

To Get Started

Simply click on the “Me” icon in the upper right corner, and click on your company page. Once there, hit “Overview” and use the small pencil icon on the top right corner of each section to edit the content within.

1. Add a Banner

Time Spent: 5 minutes
Swap out LinkedIn’s default banner image for a branded one; it’s a quick change that packs a big punch. We recommend keeping it simple and using your company’s homepage as a reference point, it’s best for your users to have a cohesive experience between platforms.

2. Create Showcase Pages (Time spent: 15 minutes)

Time Spent: 15 minutes
LinkedIn Showcase Pages allow you to create a page dedicated to a specific product or ongoing marketing event. Aside from allowing you to highlight products and market to specific users, Showcase Pages also come with analytics which means you’ll be able to gain valuable insight into user behavior. LinkedIn allows you to create up to 10 showcase pages per company profile, so remember to focus on your best products and services.

3. Add Keywords to your Profile (Time Spent: 5 minutes)

Time Spent: 5 minutes
Take the time to go through your LinkedIn profile and make sure you’re inserting keywords where relevant. What you post on LinkedIn shows up in search results, both in web searches and searches conducted within the LinkedIn environment so being very thoughtful about keyword placement helps increase impressions.

4. Use the Life Tab 

Time Spent: 15 minutes
A huge part of your company’s identity is your corporate culture. The Life tab gives you space to highlight just what makes your company such a wonderful place to work. Try LinkedIn’s free Career Page trial, include images of company events, some fun facts about your employees, and what your company values are. 

Now that your company page is fully optimized:

5. Ask Your Employees to Add Your Company to Their Profile

Expanding your social reach will mean more eyeballs on your content, also the larger your reach on LinkedIn, the more likely you’ll attract users outside of your network. The quickest way to bolster your reach is by encouraging your employees to add the company page to their LinkedIn profile.

6. Keep Your LinkedIn Page Up-To-Date

This one sounds obvious but it’s important. Make sure all the information on your page is up to date, this includes your location, hours, job openings, etc. Also, if any press comes out about your company (new stories, blog features, etc.), this is the perfect place to share that. Keeping your page updated has a two-fold benefit: 1.) when users see a new job posting or a shared blog posts in their feed, your company remains top of mind and 2.) users know that your LinkedIn isn’t a ghost town and may opt to reach out to you on the platform.

Your LinkedIn Company page is looking stellar, keep it up by sharing content on a daily or weekly basis. For more ideas on how to set up your content strategy and schedule, check out our blog post.

8 Facebook Targeting Strategies You Should Try Today

If you’ve spent hours wringing your hands over your Facebook ads strategy, you’re not alone. The clunky UI, confusing options, and vague reporting tend to elicit frustration from even the most experienced digital marketer. It doesn’t have to be this way. Check out these eight tried and true strategies that will help you unlock the full potential of your Facebook ads.
(Note: Many of these strategies only work if you have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website. If you haven’t installed this already, you can learn how to do so here.)

1. Utilize Life Event Targeting

Facebook is always reminding you about your friends’ life events: birthdays, engagements, weddings, you name it. You can actually use Facebook’s rich, life event knowledge to your advantage when creating targeted Facebook ads. This means if you’re a florist, you can target people that have an upcoming birthday or who have just gotten engaged. 

2. Enhance Remarketing Strategies

Sometimes customers need that one extra nudge before purchasing. You want to make sure that if they’ve engaged with a product ad in the past, make sure they’re seeing that same product again, you can do this through creating a remarketing strategy. Consider your customer funnell and remarket based on what their interest and intent may be. For example, if you’re retargeting to users who have landed on your blog, you’ll likely want to serve them content focused ads, while as if it’s users that have landed on a product page, you’d prefer to serve them a product ad. 

3. Strategically Use Lookalike Audiences

Being able to create a Lookalike audience based on your customers is fantastic but loading in the right list can be crucial. It’s tempting to load in your entire email list but this can create an audience that is far too broad. Instead, try creating Lookalike audiences based on users that have recently purchased from you. (Just remember to exclude the list of people that have purchased recently as they’re less likely to convert again so soon.)

4. A/B Test Everything

Facebook’s ad manager makes it really easy to A/B test different ad creatives for the audiences you’d like to target. You can test against various copy and images and within days, see which one is performing better. You can test against various copy, images and days to see which one is performing best. As you begin to see which audiences prefer which creatives, you can develop guidelines for your creative team, this will help make designing future ads hassle-free. 

5. Optimize Your Ads for Mobile and Instagram

This may seem obvious but it’s a step that a lot of people overlook. A user’s ad experience varies greatly from mobile to desktop. Ensure that ad images and links are optimized on each platform so you offer a seamless experience no matter the device. 

6. Try Lead Ads

Sometimes, a user clicks on your beautiful Facebook ad and quickly bounces off the page simply because they hate leaving the Facebook environment. Give the new Facebook Lead ads a try. They’re mobile device-friendly and essentially serve users a lead generation field where they can enter their email address. It’s a win-win: they don’t have to leave Facebook and you’re able to acquire  a new lead. 

7. Use Dynamic Facebook Ads

This new ad feature automatically shows ads to users based on their behavior on your site and what their interests are. Simply upload your product catalogue and the dynamic ad will automatically determine the most relevant product to show that user. 

8. Mine for Data in Google Adwords

If you’re already running Adword campaigns, use this data to optimize your Facebook ad strategy. Look at what your demographics are in terms of location, age, and gender and use this to create audiences on Facebook. Also, see what words are performing best and consider structuring your Facebook ads around these words. (If you aren’t running Adwords, do some digging in your page’s Google Analytics.)

There you have it, some foolproof Facebook ad strategies to get you on your way to making sure your ads are being as effective as you need them to be. Have fun with it! 

Why You Should Always be Using the Latest Version of WordPress

At ATAK, most of the websites we build incorporate WordPress, and this should be no surprise. WordPress is nearly ubiquitous, powering 28% of all websites. In our work in web development for clients, we’ve worked with WordPress in considerable depth, sifted through many, many themes, and installed countless plugins and security updates. We’ve launched hundreds of websites since 2006, and we’ve learned a lot in the process.

Why WordPress Updates are Important

We have talked about the benefits and drawbacks of open source software on the blog before. WordPress is an open source CMS, meaning that all WordPress websites are based on the same structural code that anyone can access and manipulate. This is one of WordPress’s strengths, in that this allows smart developers from around the world to build improvements for the WordPress CMS, which can become updates that are shared to everyone through WordPress updates.

There is one main concern, however: the popularity of the WordPress CMS increases the likelihood that your website could be targeted by hackers when a new vulnerability is uncovered. The popularity of WordPress attracts the attention of malicious developers who are trying to get a hold of as much personal user information as possible.

Of all websites hacked in Q3 2016, 74% of those were using WordPress.

Bleeping Computer

Because of this, WordPress is secured through patches and updates when vulnerabilities in the CMS are identified. This was previously a manual process, putting many sites at risk. Website administrators were shown a message at the top of their WordPress dashboard, which could confuse some users, and the message alone did not ensure that security updates were installed.

WordPress version 3.7 introduced automatic updates for maintenance and security, reducing the risk that many sites would fall prey to vulnerabilities found in the CMS. Below are some specific reasons why these updates are so important.

Security Updates for WordPress

One of the biggest challenges faced by the internet is the technology arms race between bad guys who want to steal your information and hijack your website; and good guys (like us!) who want to create functional, secure websites for businesses.

The consequences of being targeted by a hacker who has uncovered a WordPress vulnerability can be wide ranging, but include:

  • Losing administrator control over your account
  • Having customer financial data stolen
  • Illegal content being hosted on your site
  • Damage to the code and structure of your website

When WordPress issues a security update, the community has discovered a part of WordPress that is vulnerable to hacking techniques. The tactics and technology are always changing, making regular updates a part of life online.

Website Speed and Performance Updates

Browser standards, mobile usability standards, and other features of the always-updating internet technology scene, mean that website performance technology must also shift with time.

“In the most recent update to WordPress (version 4.8.2), there were nine security updates, most of them involving involving cross-scripting vulnerabilities. WordPress practices responsible disclosure. Part of that is making vulnerabilities public once they are fixed. As soon as a vulnerability is made public, the hackers know exactly how to exploit your site. This makes it even more important that you update immediately and don’t turn off the automatic updates that are now built into WordPress core.” – Jules Sherred, Developer at ATAK Interactive

Some of these are continual improvements, like site speed which is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), on top of improving user experience. With this in mind, the community of WordPress developers are constantly working to improve loading times for its websites. Thus, enhanced site speed is usually part of the package with a WordPress update.

From time to time, a larger update will come along which adds or upgrades built in WordPress features.

When you ignore these updates, you’re forfeiting the opportunity to give your visitors the best possible experience.

Bug Fixes

‘Bug fixes’ aren’t the highest priority for updates, unless you’re being impacted by one of the bugs. Usually, they just help every part of the site work the way it’s supposed to.

“Over 70% of the websites I’ve personally reviewed this past year were compromised due to either outdated WordPress plugins or outdated WordPress installations.” Jim Walker, Hack Repair Guy

When and How To Update WordPress Websites

Critical updates are going to need to be done no matter what; your business can’t afford to risk a data breach. Bug fixes and performance updates, however, can be spaced out so that they suit your development schedule and budget.

First things first: If your WordPress site includes custom coding and design, it’s best to leave the updates to your development team. Because WordPress functions often share code, unexpected complications can arise from updates that require a developer’s knowledge to navigate.

Similar to ensuring that your business operates with the most up-to-date practices and technologies available in your industry, making sure that your website is running on the latest version of WordPress should also be part of your routine in keeping your business competitive.

WordPress Updates Do Matter

When WordPress makes a high-priority update, these fixes can be comparable to an antivirus software update. Threats and vulnerabilities are always changing within digital systems, which underscores the value of having a digital marketing partner who can be on the lookout for the latest risks, and how to avoid them.

A development team like the one at ATAK Interactive can help your business navigate every part of online security, from CMS vulnerabilities to transaction encryption.

If you think your website is in need of an update, talk to us and we can help identify exactly where you could use a bit of sprucing up and how to do it.

How a Fully Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign Delivered Results

Last September, Anderson & Vreeland prepared for their largest trade show of the year, LabelExpo Americas 2016. Inside their booth was some of the most cutting edge equipment in flexographic printing – the Flint nyloflex Xpress, the Xeikon ThermoflexX, and the AV Flexologic SAMM 800.

But the highlight for the company was the “Great Packaging Starts with a Great Workflow” exhibition. For months leading up to LabelExpo, A&V had unveiled an optimal printing process that began with the Hybrid Packz software, moved to GMG for color precision, and used the Screen Truepress Jet L350UV to print pristine and vibrant labels with a rapid turnaround. To showcase the workflow, the company partnered with Chicago’s Church Street Brewery to re-design the label for their seasonal Helles Bock and print the new label through this new process.

Inside the LabelExpo booth were bottles of freshly brewed and delicious Helles Bock for prospects to enjoy while they learned how the label on the beer they were drinking was developed.
It was the culmination of a five month integrated marketing campaign led by ATAK Interactive that would help the company sell 20% more product than they had at the previous LabelExpo.

Here’s how we built, executed, and delivered this successful campaign from start to finish.

Step One: Strategic Partnerships

The specialists at Anderson & Vreeland created its most efficient workflow using products from Hybrid, GMG, and Screen. Each business understood that to help move products, they needed to engage in a partnership that would highlight a process that was optimal for their equipment.

The next step was finding a brewery to partner with on the project. ATAK found the Church Street Brewery, an up-and-coming craft beer company based in the Chicago suburbs. Lucky for everyone involved, they were in need of a label.

Here’s an overview of each partner:

Hybrid Software

Digital pre-press workflow management solutions

GMG Color

Color management solutions and proofing software

Screen Truepress L350UV

Digital printing press for short- to medium-run label production

Church Street Brewing Every year, Church Street brewing produces an exclusive and limited anniversary beer. Called “Special Helles”. ATAK saw a great opportunity to design an eye-catching label to showcase the high-quality, short run capabilities of the software and digital press workflow.

Step Two: Campaign Creative

Before we could print anything, we needed a new label design.

Knowing the malty, robust quality of the Helles Bock style, ATAK’s Art Director and creative team took the theme of “Special Helles” and ran, creating an indulgent and playful original illustration for the label. Metallic accents provided an opportunity to further showcase the precision and quality of printing available with Anderson & Vreeland’s workflow expertise.

Developing a Core Message

ATAK Interactive developed a messaging and campaign plan that would leverage this campaign for the best possible results, by using both print and digital marketing channels to communicate this message and value.

Integrated Marketing Campaign: Great Packaging Starts With a Great Workflow

The commercial printing industry is full of companies who are always looking to optimize their efficiency. Anderson & Vreeland’s goal was to share the message that “Great Packaging Starts with a Great Workflow.”

This message is the core of what makes Anderson & Vreeland so influential in the flexographic printing industry. They have deep knowledge spanning the entire print process, and help their clients envision their entire printing workflow from start to finish, with the expertise to ensure it works exactly as intended. Their access to suppliers and knowledge of the software and equipment they provide is unparalleled.

Publishing a Whitepaper Content Series

Every step of the label design process was documented in a whitepaper, to be released in three phases over Summer 2016 to build up the campaign and expand its reach.

This whitepaper was accompanied by print collateral and a custom URL directing readers to a custom landing page on the Anderson & Vreeland website at, where they could access more information about the campaign by filling out a form that directly integrated with Anderson & Vreeland’s Salesforce CRM.

Each of these elements work together to create a marketing funnel, attracting leads to Anderson & Vreeland’s website. ATAK Interactive’s next move was to build promotions to attract prospects to the funnel campaign. LabelExpo 2016 was the perfect end-cap for this project, a popular industry event to make the brand shine.

Editorial + Print Advertising

In order to increase awareness and curiosity about having the workflow demonstrated on the LabelExpo show floor, we implemented an outreach campaign.

For this campaign, Anderson & Vreeland pinpointed Flexo Magazine and Label and Narrow Web magazines, the most influential publications in the flexographic printing industry.

Through August and September 2016, full-page print ads and belly band cover wrap ads were placed in these publications, including the issue of Flexo Magazine distributed at the LabelExpo event.

Sales Collateral

To support the A&V staff on the show floor, and provide a great take-home for booth visitors to show to management and colleagues, ATAK and Anderson & Vreeland developed a trifold brochure explaining the design, workflow, printing, and sales process to potential new customers. This brochure would be handed to booth visitors as they were watching the beer labels come off the printing press setup in the booth.

Click to see full-size PDF

Click to see full-size PDF

Step Three: Orchestrating an IMC Campaign

Executing an Integrated Marketing Campaign spanning across marketing channels throughout the year takes a project coordinator in touch with all parties to collect assets, execute strategy, and measure the results. ATAK’s project managers are experienced with running integrated marketing campaigns, from concept to execution, and this was no different.

To keep the campaign execution as painless as possible, Basecamp and Dropbox were used to organize assets, delegate roles, and organize deadlines.

The campaign was deployed in concert with Anderson & Vreeland, GMG Color, Screen, Hybrid Software, and Church Street Brewing. Proactive campaign management meant partners were always in the loop on the campaign’s status, and able to deploy the campaign to their own audiences and grow our reach.

Anderson & Vreeland began a content marketing campaign highlighting the capabilities of a digital equipment workflow with a series of blog posts in June, July, and August. Each of these was distributed in email and social media marketing, and boosted to new prospects with paid social media advertising.

  • Spring 2016

    • Anderson & Vreeland and ATAK Interactive pitched the campaign concept to partners Hybrid Software, GMG Color Management, and Screen, all of whom were preparing their marketing for Label Expo.
  • April 2016

    • Identified a brewery to be campaign partners for Label Expo. Church Street Brewing had the right schedule and marketing needs to partner up.
    • ATAK’s art department began developing the illustration for the label, and mocking up the first round of design.

    May 2016

    • The label design for Church Street Brewing’s Special Hell was approved by all partners, and finalized for printing at Label Expo.
    • Once finalized, ATAK’s art department collected visual assets from campaign partners to use in the integrated marketing creative.

    June 2016

    • Fine-tuning label design for metallic printing with campaign partners
    • Campaign landing page was designed, developed and shipped by ATAK’s web team:
    • The trifold brochure to be distributed at Label Expo was designed, and served dual purpose as a digital graphic or landing pages and social media.
    • The first whitepaper, “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect”, was completed. This was presented in a blog post and email marketing

    July 2016

    • The second whitepaper, “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect: Episode Two”, was completed. This was also presented in a blog post and through email marketing.

  • August 2016

    • The final whitepaper in the “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect” series is released. It is presented in a blog post and through email marketing.
    • The August issues of Flexo Magazine and Label and Narrow Web contain a full-page Workflow ad, linking to the landing page.

    September 2016

    • The three whitepapers are consolidated into a single document in preparation for Label Expo, and made available in the Future of Labels landing page.
    • Flexo Magazine’s September 2016 belly band advertisement promoting workflow whitepaper, and full-page interior ad.
    • The run-up to Label Expo meant a heavier email promotion schedule:

Step Four: Show Time at LabelExpo

At LabelExpo 2016, the campaign was poised to make a splash. The press workflow was moved in and ran flawlessly for the show’s 3-day run. This meant the eye-catching illustrated labels were being printed live on the show floor, in front of visitors. Anderson & Vreeland’s sales team were able to hand labeled beer bottles to booth visitors as they came off the press, after walking the prospect through the steps of the digital printing workflow on display.

To increase interest and foot traffic during the show, Anderson & Vreeland hosted a happy hour event serving bottles of Special Helles, and hosted on-site product demos with the workflow A&V built using Hybrid, GMG, and Screen’s products.

This was further capitalized with a live stream running the duration of the show, showing audio and video of activity from the booth and product demonstrations.

The Results

Anderson & Vreeland had one of the best performances in their trade show history, making more sales on-site, and collecting more leads to contact in the coming weeks. One sale made on the floor became a continuing marketing opportunity in the form of a case study.

This momentum led to the opportunity to continue this campaign through the end of 2016, with ongoing supporting content, print advertising, and future trade show strategy.

This strong performance also reinforced the relationships built between Anderson & Vreeland and the campaign partners, providing opportunities for bigger, more ambitious cross-promotional partnerships in the future.

In a B2B industry that doesn’t embrace digital marketing strategies as readily as others, the strategies used in Anderson & Vreeland’s campaign made a big impact on customers and competitors alike. ATAK was able to position A&V head and shoulders above the rest with a carefully managed campaign and message.

Thanks to a comprehensive marketing partnership approach, ATAK Interactive and Anderson & Vreeland were able to leverage a unique trade show concept into a business -to-business marketing success case.

6 Strategies for Building a Nonprofit Website in 2017

Every nonprofit organization can benefit from having a digital presence to solidify their mission and spread their message. The process of website development can be overwhelming. At ATAK, we help clients get down to the core of their identity, and use this to guide the website design and development process.

Attracting new donors, and staying top-of-mind with everyone in your donor base, is a complicated balance in 2017. Mindful and well-meaning donors can still become forgetful as time goes on, necessitating ongoing marketing work and the importance of integrating donor database, payment, and media systems into a website from the ground up.

When creating a nonprofit website, attention has to be equally split between communicating a message to current and potential donors, and creating an interactive, technically flawless experience.

Here are 6 must-haves ATAK’s development and marketing teams have built into nonprofit websites in 2017 so far:

1. Sharing Your Message and Call to Action

It’s important that your website design is intuitive and attractive to your visitors. When built right, your website will attract visitors who have never heard of your charity, or mission.

A responsive website design with arresting copy is a must-have for nonprofit organizations to look modern and transparent. Your website should clearly communicate what you do, who you are, and why you’re doing it. This includes information on your home page, an ‘About’ page sharing what you do and who leads your organization, and a blog where your team can share news and opinion.

For our client Elevate Adventures, this meant a concise, step-by-step for the process of facilitating a nature experience for nonprofit organizations.

The art direction for this project was clear: we would let the national parks speak for themselves. Sweeping nature photos share Elevate’s spirit of adventure and reverence for the National Parks it helps others access and enjoy.

The right branding and visual style helps build confidence in your site and organization. The right logo, design, and imagery combine in a way that helps visitors quickly and simply understand what your organization wants them to do – such as donate, engage, or volunteer.

Your Nonprofit’s Messaging Should Include:

  • Logo and brand identity
  • Photographs of leadership, and program participants (if possible)
  • Video, audio, and documents that can be used to communicate your mission
  • A clear point of contact for site visitors

2. Advanced Fundraising and Database Technology

As a nonprofit organization, attracting more donations can be the backbone of your digital presence. In any nonprofit’s website, donation should be prominent and simple – and the experience for returning donors should be easy and comfortable.

Donation technology can be included in a website in a way that simplifies recurring donations. GO Campaign focuses on recruiting monthly donors to their efforts to help vulnerable children. Through a mix of messaging and technology, Go and ATAK were able to empower donors to understand the scope of Go Campaign’s initiatives.

The culmination of this education and branding is a prominent donation landing page, allowing for monthly, quarterly, or annual recurring donations. Proper database integration enables their donor outreach team to create marketing campaigns that segment audiences across marketing channels.

Fundraising should also be present on digital channels beyond your website. There are more digital donation channels available now than have ever been before! ATAK helps nonprofit organizations expand their donation base by using new fundraising tools.

Improving Fundraising Potential

Digital innovation has created more ways for nonprofit organizations to accept donations from an audience that is increasingly focused on having a seamless online experience.

Social media platforms have created integrated donation tools, so that visitors can contribute to an organization without ever leaving their social media apps.

Facebook has a short verification process that allows verified charities in the US to add a donation button and fundraising tools to their Pages – meaning that visitors can donate to your organization without leaving Facebook. Likewise, Snapchat’s SnapCash allows donors to send cash from within their app.

Crowdfunding campaigns can be another way to modernize charity fundraising. Platforms like YouCaring, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo allow charities to build compelling fundraising landing pages for specific products. Keep in mind that these platforms will all have rules of their own – for instance, Kickstarter doesn’t allow pure donations; any backer funds have to be contributing to a project.

Finally, if an awareness campaign is targeting prospective donors who are not yet aware of your organization, it may be easier to build trust with a payment platform they already trust. Square Cash and Paypal, for instance, are used by millions of Americans for ecommerce and small business transactions, making the donation process faster and more familiar.

The value of these tools is meeting customers where they already are, on platforms they trust. These can make donation simpler, and remove barriers such as security concerns.

Tying It Together

GO Campaign manages their donor database through blackbaud’s eTapestry donor management CRM. This enterprise-level donor management software meant that integrating donor data from the website, social media, email, direct mail, and events management would be seamless.

Reducing the time spent pruning and organizing customer data means that more energy can be spent using the data to build responsive, cross-channel integrated marketing campaigns for your most engaged supporters. ATAK’s development team is experienced and ready to help your nonprofit streamline its donor database.

What your website needs to modernize donation strategy:

  • A donations page.
  • Simple, clear CTAs leading to the page.
  • Developers who can integrate your donor database.
  • Social media strategy to build donor base off-site and re-engage.
  • A payment function to accept funds, like PayPal or Authorize.Net.

3. Connect With Your Audience

For an established nonprofit organization like OUR HOUSE, ATAK was able to focus on donor messaging with a fresh WordPress website design.

With their website, OUR HOUSE aims to recruit volunteers, support group attendees, and donations. The primary focus of these efforts is to maintain and grow their grief support group program: volunteers to run support groups and assist with campaigns, support group members in need of OUR HOUSE’s grief resources, and donors who can help OUR HOUSE continue their mission.

Thanks to their history as an established grief resource, OUR HOUSE has two further programs: grief training for medical students and staff, as well as on-site grief support services for schools or companies.  On top of this, OUR HOUSE offers a summer camp for support group alumni!

The home page uses a slider and three prominent boxes to help visitors navigate to the right place.

On the home page, our design devotes significant space to making sure OUR HOUSE’s program offerings are clear and accessible.

In the pages for these programs, parents, children and professionals can learn more about the philosophy and positive effects of the grief support programs offered. Once a visitor navigates to a page for the service they are looking for, they find content that demonstrates the impact of OUR HOUSE’s programs, with testimonials from volunteers, participants, and medical professionals.

OUR HOUSE has a variety of volunteering opportunities for the community. Their primary volunteer focus is recruiting grief support group leaders. Second to this is volunteers for their events: Camp Erin, and the annual Run for Hope. The first volunteer landing page breaks down these opportunities, each of which have their own page and signup form, so that OUR HOUSE’s volunteer coordinators can respond based on interest.

When a donor visits the site, OUR HOUSE offers a variety of support options that help reinforce how much work they do to help people experience grief in a supportive environment.

Ongoing direct mail, email, and digital marketing campaigns build donor support, and events throughout the year help to build personal connections with these audiences. It is important that their site be able to communicate the breadth of activity OUR HOUSE is engaging in, to help donors understand their value.

Effective Program Pages Contain:

  • Descriptions of your goals, process, and qualifications
  • Testimonials about program efficacy
  • Details for how to apply to, or enroll in your programs – whether that is a contact form, enrollment plugin, or phone number

4. Transparency

Potential donors are looking to build reasons to trust your organization. Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar scrutinize the public presence of a charitable organization, and provide scores of trustworthiness, which can have a significant impact on donor trust.

Your organization can build trust by adding this transparency to its website. Most commonly, this means adding a page for financial and other disclosures. GO Campaign has its past ten years’ Form 990 in PDF, for example:

GO Campaign also takes advantage of donator trust in GuideStar, encouraging visitors to read its GuideStar profile, and highlighting their commitment to financial and program transparency.

OUR HOUSE highlights their Charity Navigator score, provides financial summaries, and anticipates that potential donors will visit this page by including a donation button at the bottom.

Effective Transparency Can Include:

  • Easy-to-find financials
  • Program size and outcomes
  • Board member and staff disclosures
  • Connections with Charity Navigator or Guide Star

5. Showing Your Impact

Celebrating the results of your programs and efforts is critical to grow support for your nonprofit organization. Everyone likes a success story, and it helps you stand out to potential donors and corporate partners. This page is also effective for media coverage and social media – make sure it’s easy to see and share your biggest wins.

ATAK’s client Theatre of Hearts / Youth First provides programs to children in public schools, which means the academic results of their programs is critical to continue providing access to art classes in inner-city classrooms. Their results page is academically focused, to reflect these needs.

Because art education is about subjective experience, Theatre of Hearts follows this content with testimonials from students who experienced the programs.

In their blog, GO Campaign shares photography and stories related to the programs they run to help vulnerable youth and families around the world as weekly project updates, which demonstrate GO Campaign’s ongoing success and efforts.

Theatre of Hearts uses their Cool Art page features paintings by the students who experience their arts outreach programs.

The way your organization shows and celebrates its outcomes will be unique to your mission. Product partnerships, video content, events, social media, and written content can all be part of showing your outcomes – but be sure to back them up with research and hard numbers about what you’ve achieved.

Each piece gets a personal touch on its own page, with an artist quote to personalize the impact of the piece, and value of the overall program.

Your Outcomes Page May Include:

  • Photography of the program in action
  • Statistics about program results
  • Testimonials from people affected by your programs

6. Your Own Spin

There’s something that makes your organization special, and sets you apart from the rest. A marketing team is what helps you amplify these differences and turn them into valuable qualities that turn a passerby into a donor.

Your own spin could be almost anything – merchandise, social media events, brand partnerships, or special events. Our project managers bring their skills and creativity to help nonprofit organizations leverage these unique branding opportunities into donors and partnerships.

Ways to differentiate your nonprofit with digital marketing campaigns include:

  • Ecommerce. Theatre of Hearts sells a selection of the paintings made in its art programs, with a note from the artist about what they made and why. The proceeds of the painting go back into the arts programs. Ecommerce  can be easily built into a WordPress website with WooCommerce – one of our specialties.
  • Events and Performances. Some things have to be experienced to be understood. Fundraising events, performances, galas, etc – they all start with a list of invitations and RSVPs. Tools like Eventbrite can be integrated into social media and websites to promote ticket sales.
  • Worldwide Online Events. Online events that can be shared on social media, like the Alzheimers Association’s Longest Day, require careful selection and implementation of software to help participants and organizations run distributed events, but the gains, and spotlight, can be very rewarding.
  • Social Contests. The #Ham4All challenge has swept social media, thanks in no small part to the fact that the entire world knows all the words. Your organization isn’t Hamilton, but the structure of the campaign is very similar to a pledge drive, with a compelling direct challenge.
  • Flash Fundraising. Flash sales and short-term promotions have become ecommerce bread and butter. Your nonprofit can use this tactic, too. Here’s how Wabash College did it, and there are only a few basic ingredients needed to try your own campaign:
    • Incentive – A goal everyone is rallying behind, like a donor total.
    • Urgency – Only 24 hours to donate!
    • Publicity – Make sure you’re extra active to get the word out, with social media assets ready.
    • Make it Special – Get your management team to do live video chats, and social media events with prominent supporters, to make it feel like a special occasion.

Every cause, and every organization, has something that makes it unique. At ATAK, our brand, marketing, and development teams all work to maximize this special factor, and make you stand out from the crowd. This is why we put so much value on getting to know our clients on a deeper level by having one central point of contact for any project we’re making with you.

If your nonprofit is in need of a new website to rejuvenate your campaigns, contact ATAK today for a free website quote and marketing consultation.

Protecting Small Business Systems from Ransomware: Interview

Last month, one of the largest globally targeted ransomware attacks in history hit the news – taking out the computer systems in England and Scotland, disabling digital records and equipment in their healthcare facilities.

Most businesses are much smaller organizations than the globally-recognized NHS, but we wanted to know – does that make them safe from ransomware attacks? If not, what can be done to protect systems and data? ATAK Interactive reached out to our technology partner, INC Technologies. President Aramis Hernandez gave us a primer on what you need to know.

1. Do you see ransomware attacks with your IT clients?

AH: Fortunately, we don’t see it as much with our existing clients. However, most of our new IT clients arrive at our doorstep because they lacked the proper care and security. The process starts with home or business computers. Usually, these are machines running Windows – since it’s the most popular operating system, and many users don’t keep their computer security and operating systems up to date, making that computer the most likely candidate to be subjected to a phishing attack.

While everyone has learned not to trust email attachments, email links are another story. Think about how many links you click every day – that’s the most common way we see ransomware make its way into a machine. You’re much more likely to click a link, than download an unusual looking file.

2. Tell us some more about that – how does ransomware end up on someone’s machine?

AH: In an email phishing attack, an attacker represents itself as a person or group that you trust, like Paypal or Google. Then you download a file or click a link, and the software will exploit a vulnerability in your computer.

This can also be links posted in other places, too –  like social media sites, or search results. The page you end up at exploits a weakness in your browser or your operating system, and installs the ransomware.

3. How do these attacks work?

AH: You’ll turn on your computer and be locked out, and see a message asking you for money to deactivate the software and give you access to your computer. The amounts van be very low – on average, $100 is the unlock ‘cost’. These hackers work on high volume, asking for an amount low enough that it’ll hit your wallet, but you’re unlikely to refuse.

4. How can users protect their systems from ransomware?

AH: This is a case where your best bet is proactive care. Make sure that you’re using the latest operating system, the latest browser, and you’re updating your security and antivirus programs.

In the case of websites, managed hosting is a way to protect your website. This means that your web host maintains your security and backups (Like ATAK’s hosting partner, Zerolag), so that you can leave your security and data to the experts.

Ransomware Takeaways for Small Business 

What surprised us most on this call with Aramis was the prevalence of ransomware attacks they see in their support operations. High-profile ransomware attacks give the impression you’re safe if you aren’t a big business, but that is definitely not the case.

The biggest difficulty when it comes to ransomware is that nobody wants to think they’re vulnerable – and nobody wants to admit they were attacked. This is what the hackers are really banking on. Embarrassed computer owners will pay the ransom in order to avoid admitting they were hacked in public.

Recently, the podcast Reply All did an episode about this dimension of phishing attacks, called “What Kind of Idiot Gets Phished?”. After a host’s question about phishing is taken as a personal slight by one of his colleagues, the hosts experiment with phishing, and discover how easy it can be to fall for it, and how personal that deception can feel.

The personal dimension to ransomware is why it’s critical to have IT help that you can trust, before you find yourself wanting to hide an embarrassing situation.

The second interesting point in what Aramis told us was how often a phishing attack is a link, instead of a file. It often feels harmless to click a link in an email that’s unusual, or an email that you open while in a rush. This mistake can really hit you in the wallet.

Using an extra layer of browser security can help defend your accounts from phishing attacks. Enabling your firewall’s browser protections, and using a Chrome extension like Google’s Password Alert can keep your passwords safe.

The last line of defense, though, is personal judgment and patience. When you’re sent a link you aren’t sure about, investigate before you click it. Learn to identify common phishing URL tricks that are used to make a scam URL look legit:

  • Unicode tricks, like using Cyrillic characters to make a URL look like it belongs to another company: аррӏе.com is using cyrillic characters to look like – the second URL is the real one!
  • Fake URLs in an email. The typed link looks valid, like “”, but if you hover over the link, you can see that the website you’re actually being sent to is something else.
  • Misleading URLs in an email. This was how the Gimlet Media team fell for a phishing attack in the podcast episode linked above. “Gimlet” and “Girnlet” look similar enough to work.
  • Fake login pages. These are very popular. Be very wary about giving your login details for Google, Dropbox, and banking sites on pages you were linked to in an email or IM. When in doubt, type in the address of the real thing to log in.

If you’re looking for an IT partner to support your systems, we highly recommend INC Technologies. And if you’re looking for digital marketing security and managed hosting, give ATAK a call today.


Small Changes Lead to Big Numbers: A/B Tests to Run on Your Website’s Homepage

Consider your homepage the entryway to your online business. Here, you have the fleeting opportunity to impress upon your visitors… pretty much everything about your company. From the abstract (your brand personality and values) to the tangible (current promotions), every element on your homepage can stand to be optimized through A/B tests so that potential customers get the most out of their first visit.

In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the options worth implementing on your site’s homepage elements. Keep in mind that since the homepage is far on the sales funnel from the final purchase, the measure of success for a well-optimized homepage isn’t necessarily increased revenue, but lowered bounce rates, increased product page views, increased click-throughs, and so forth — essentially, any additional activity from the homepage onward indicates a win.

Starting From the Top

The header on your homepage is where you’ll find your logo and navigation. Run a few A/B tests on the placement of your logo. Will it go at the top right, center, or left? This may not seem like a change that will garner statistically significant results, but see if these variations make a difference in average time a user spends on your site.

Testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.

Take this example from Backcountry:

You’ll notice that the tabs go from what’s most profitable (new arrivals), onto serving customers who are looking for something specific (brands, then activities), then by broad categories for those who want to shop around (activities, women, men, kids), and then to the category of products that’s less desired and least profitable (sale).

What pages on your site do you want people to navigate to the most? Dedicate your header navigation to those pages and monitor the traffic you get on them. Based on the data in your findings, you can then move the tabs around to better serve your customers’ interests.

Also on Backcountry’s header is a search bar. If you’re planning to include a search bar in your header, think about the verbiage on it. What you say in your search bar could be the push that a customer needs to keep on shopping. In Backcountry’s case, their search bar language, “Search gear and clothing” tells the customer what type of products they sell thus serving a functional purpose.

However, search bar language can vary. Consider these alternatives:

  • Inspirational
  • Product Specific

    product specific search bar

    (this can be used as an opportunity to suggest some of your current best-sellers!)

Target uses a dropdown in its search bar to showcase its product selection:

A/B testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.

Above the Fold Content

“Above the fold” refers the space on a webpage that a visitor can see without having to scroll down. This is prime real estate for you to populate with captivating content.

In recent years, we’ve found rotating homepage sliders don’t work. They don’t garner more clicks, they either move too fast or too slow for the user to retain any valuable information, they aren’t compatible with or require too much loading for mobile (loading those huge images takes a lot of data!), or they’re even ignored by users due to their overabundance.

This website’s heat map shows its slider being left in the cold (heat maps show where clicks happen on a page):

So what does work? Run some A/B tests and find out. Take our website for example:

We use a short gif-like video as the background (but a still image works to the same effect) with a few lines of text that communicate our value, and two call-to-actions (CTA) that prompt the user to take the actions that we find most valuable at this point of the sales funnel: reading more about us and looking through our past work.

Test the image and language on your homepage header of your site. Will it be an aspirational image that acts as background to the words, or will it be more direct and promote current best selling products and promotions? Will it feature targeted content based on the customer’s demographic profile (yes, this can be done.)? When testing, reduced bounce rate means it’s working.

Furthermore, what will your call-to-action(s) be and where will it be placed? Test the possibilities to see what gets the most clicks.

You’ll also see that on our homepage, we didn’t devote the entire above-the-fold space to the hero image. Each of those squares underneath the hero image serves a functional purpose by further communicating what we do. They each link to their own page.

Apple cheekily does the same thing, using the space beneath the hero image to highlight their popular products:

If you’re going for a similar set-up, test out what works best occupying that sliver of space. Again, increased click-throughs indicate a win.

For all of these tests, install a heat map tool to see where users are clicking. You may think buttons are clear to find, but often they are not. This heat map is our favorite.

Below the Fold

How else are those boxes underneath the hero image handy? They encourage scrolling. That’s right, showing only the top of those boxes above the fold wasn’t without motive. They’re there to encourage you to scroll down and see what else the homepage has to offer.

Below the fold, test content that’s secondary in importance but still worthy of display. Retail stores often highlight current promotions or featured products.

Target’s immediate “below-the-fold” content is seasonally geared:


As you scroll further down, they gear content towards your demographic information:

On our site, we expand on your business’ value.

Evernote alternates the placement of its copy and image from left to right to encourage movement of the eye and scrolling down the page.

evernote 2

In each case, Target, ATAK, and Evernote didn’t miss the opportunity to include a call to action at the bottom of their “below the fold” content and neither should you. “The fold” doesn’t mean that no one sees what’s beneath it. As long as you keep the content interesting, everyone scrolls. If the content is interesting enough, they’ll click.

Here are some other examples of what you can put below the fold:




Social Media Feed.


Content in the footer stays pretty uniform between different websites. The standard features are an email sign-up, contact information including address, social links, site directory, and “fine print” information like privacy and/or store policy information, and copyright.

Other ideas to put in the footer:

  • Security logo for extra reassurance.
  • Awards your company received.
  • Any associations or affiliations that you’re a part of.

Think from the perspective of someone who can’t find what they’re looking for. The footer should have sufficient information to point them in the right direction. If you’re curious about how far down your visitors scroll on your site, an effective heat map will give you some perspective — the numbers may be greater than you think!

Be sure to add one last call to action in the footer to see what works and what doesn’t.

Remember, first impressions matter and thus, a lot of emphases is placed on the look, feel, and function of your homepage. These A/B test ideas can add up to a whole lot of value for your business. For more guidance on crafting the perfect homepage, contact us for a free website audit.



Modules for Magento Ecommerce Conversion Optimization

We’ve covered effective SEO practices for driving up the number of potential customers to your site (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3). However, getting them there is only step 1. The ecommerce sales funnel begins with the initial site visit and ends when the customer makes their final payment.

Along the way, keeping your customers engaged and yourself from being subject to the dreaded “shopping cart abandonment” becomes an increasingly difficult task.

Each stage of the ecommerce sales funnel is either an opportunity for a customer to say goodbye to your site, or an opportunity for you to further captivate their interest and move them further along to completing checkout.

In our work in building Magento ecommerce sites, we’ve found a handful of Magento extensions that are particularly effective in making each stage of the sales funnel a valuable, sales-encouraging experience.


As soon as a potential customer lands on your site, greet them with product offerings that are tailored towards them. Customer Specific Products is a Magento extension that allows you to control what a customer sees. You can choose to hide or display certain product categories, as well as set custom pricing for specific customer segments. Customizing your store’s product offerings so that only the most relevant ones at the most attractive price are displayed takes away the distracting and unnecessary clutter that often lead to abandonment at this stage.

If you’d rather not limit your product offerings to any of your visitors, it would benefit you then, to make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Many customers will come to your website with a specific goal in mind—these people know exactly what they want and they’ll head to the search functionality on your site to find it. In fact, search users account for 30% of your customers and are more likely to convert.

Elastic Search provides a faster and more a valuable search experience than Magento’s default search function. Autocomplete, autocorrect, and did-you-mean features make it easier for a customer to find what they’re looking for or point them to similar products. Best of all, the extension delivers fast search results, but works with other pages of your site so that those pages load faster.

To take product search one step step further, consider installing live chat on your site in order to personally assist your shoppers find what they’re looking for.

Category Browsing

Now let’s consider those who are still looking. Perhaps these customers don’t know exactly what they want but it helps to have the tools available for them to narrow down their choices. The 2 Layered Navigation extension allows customers to filter products by certain attributes such as size, style, color, and so on. The extension also comes with a handy price slider with which your customers can narrow down these options to those that fall within a desired price range. All of this happens instantly thanks to Ajax Loading.

Enticing Product Pages

By now, your customers have found something that they consider purchasing and thus, are on an individual product page. Here, you can up the item’s appeal by equipping its page with extensions that really show off its awesomeness.

If you’ve got videos that highlight the special features of your products, Magento Product Video helps integrate them onto the product page. The extension supports both YouTube and Vimeo, as well as allows you to upload videos directly.

Magic Zoom Plus, gives you the sought-after zoom feature for your products images, giving the discerning customers a literal closer look at the details of your products. “Hover over to zoom” and “click to enlarge” both come with this extension. Best of all, it’s compatible on all major browsers as well as mobile devices and tablets.

If your product offerings come in a variety of colors or patterns, Color Swatch lets your customers to visualize each one in their varying colors, designs, textures, and patterns.

Proceed to Checkout

Now, we’re at the home stretch of the purchasing process. This is where 46% of cart abandonment occurs. To combat that, make your check out process simple and distraction-free.

Extensions like One Step Checkout, Magecheckout, and Checkout Suite can help do away with the extra steps of check out by:

  • Condensing the traditional six-step check out process into one page.
  • Auto-completing address fields with information from Google Places.
  • Dynamically updating the total price whenever the customer changes the order quantity and/or shipping method.

The checkout page is also where you can tackle the issue of shipping. Unexpected shipping cost is the primary reason for 25% of shopping cart abandonment occurrences. Magento’s default functionality only allows you to calculate the weight of the entire order to send to your shipping provider and we know that shipping an entire order in one package is rarely the case for businesses.

Here’s where Dimensional Shipping comes in. This extension allows you to break the order down based on how you actually package them. At checkout, Dimensional Shipping calculates the dimensions and weight of the package(s) based on your rules on how certain products will be packaged. This information is sent to your chosen carrier and your customers get more accurate live shipping rates for their order. Dimensional shipping is compatible with FedEx, UPS, and USPS live rates.

Almost there…

Congrats! Your customer has successfully placed an order thanks to a well-oiled sales funnel. But even after the final purchase, steps can be taken to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here are a few more modules we love that put the cherry on top of a successful transaction:

Need some more help in your ecommerce efforts? Contact us for a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of your website and we help do away with those abandoned shopping cart blues.


Data Solutions: Much More Than Just SEO

There are many ways to bring traffic into your website when you’re working with a digital marketing agency. Within marketing, we call these channels. To clients, they look more like services. The primary channels for bringing in digital marketing traffic are:

  • Social Media
  • Pay-Per-Click and Remarketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • 3rd Party Links (i.e. – press coverage, interviews)

It’s very uncommon that any of these channels will perform on its own. This is almost always a blend of tactics, integrated into one campaign. The better your campaign target and messaging, the more likely it is to resonate with prospects. This is where a data solutions department can be particularly useful.

What Does a Data Solutions Department Do?

Using analytics data for the basis of digital marketing decisions allows organizations to make decisions informed by the activity of users, and a data-focused team can look at customer behavior across channels, in order to bring better value from each of these channels.

With the introduction of SSL increasing the share of not provided keywords, search traffic analysis needs to rely on visitor interactions and landing page performance in addition to keyword performance – making a blend of data analysis even more important.

Philosophy aside, what an SEO and Data Solutions department actually does for a client will include:

Implementing and Tracking Site Traffic and Visitor Behavior

This includes using Google Analytics, search database tools, heat mapping, and form tracking to understand where visitors are clicking and where they aren’t, allowing marketing departments to make more precise campaign decisions.

Targeting Site Optimization

An extension of reporting, a data solutions team watches actual traffic behavior in order to spend time optimizing pages that are earning visitors, using search query data to understand whether the landing page fits visitor intent, and adjusting copy to earn more traffic and properly target the visitors landing there.

Proposing New Content

Regular content creation is a surefire SEO booster. An SEO and Data team will be able to suggest new content based on keyword performance, industry trends, and landing page performance. This content can also be reviewed with heatmaps and targeted traffic reporting.

Content is where your data solutions department goes beyond SEO. The right content can be reconfigured and presented for social media, Pay-Per-Click, and strategic email campaigns. Over time, content engagement and conversion data creates a sophisticated understanding of product interest across channels.

Monitoring Competitors

Competitor SEO data, especially for an organization with a new or underperforming website, Is incredibly valuable. Competitor data like keyword positions, popular landing pages, and pay-per-click keywords offers direction for new content or SEO priorities.

If a marketing client is a new entrant in a competitive space, a full SEO and marketing competitor analysis may be advantageous for developing a smart and strategic SEO and digital marketing campaign.

Technical Site Performance and SEO

A top-level conversion focus powers online marketing growth, but only if it is on a solid technical and user experience foundation. An SEO department has access to tools and expertise in auditing websites for technical, security, or user experience issues that are impacting search appearance.

Regular site audits for SEO and security are critical for growing search traffic – all of the keyword data in the world is powerless if your technical foundation is shaky. Our SEO and data department conducts regular site audit scans and stays on the forefront of search ranking factors in order to keep client sites performing.

This means that, when starting SEO, the first phase of the plan may look more similar to a web development project than a traditional search engine optimization roadmap. Getting a website up-to-date with technical specifications early helps future content rank faster when it’s published. Charging straight to keyword optimization while leaving technical optimizations on the backburner will hamper your search traffic performance.

Goal-Oriented SEO Strategy

Your SEO reports should include conversion data! Conversions can have a variety of definitions – ecommerce sales, B2B quote inquiries, product sample requests, etc. Your SEO team should understand what your business goals are, and track them within Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager makes these goals easier and more comprehensive to track, easily marketing events, and turning select events into goals.

Goal implementation and goal-oriented reporting means our SEO and Data Solutions department is able to provide conversion information for keywords, traffic sources, and landing pages by digital marketing channel. Reviewing this reporting reveals opportunities to optimize landing pages for conversions, improving marketing value over time.


Brand Identity: What it is and How to Attain it

“People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

To have a compelling brand identity, you must first understand and articulate why you do what you do. What drives you to get out of bed every morning and tackle what’s ahead? When you wake up in the middle of the night with the next great idea to push your vision forward, why do you become so excited you can’t go back to sleep? Your “why” is the core around which all the elements of your brand identity should revolve and relate back to.

Definition Elements of a Brand Identity Kit

Let’s start with defining Brand Identity. And like the title of Sinek’s book, let’s “start with Why.”

Mission. Your mission statement is an exposition of why your company exists, why you do what you do. What drives you to do what you do? Is it a need to push boundaries in the industry? Is it to inspire change in the world? Is it to continuously rise above the expectations of your target market through constant innovation?

Your mission statement is your “why.” Without it, your brand identity will never be one that appeals to customers time and time again.

Position Statement. A positions statement consists of a few sentences that articulate the values in your product or service to your target market, within the realm of your competitors. Let’s break this down.

First, simply state what you’re offering. Ex. “We provide ____”

Second, identify your target market. To whom are you selling these products/service? Or rather, whom do you hope to sell to? There can oftentimes be a considerable difference between the two, but remember that in order for your business to be what you want it to be, you must always be targeting your ideal customer. Figure out what they look for when they’re shopping and adjust your product or services accordingly.

Third, consider your competition. Reviewing your competitors helps you figure out who you’re up against in the industry. You might sell similar products, but through a competitor analysis, you’ll be able to pinpoint an aspect of your product offering that makes yours more desirable. (We explain…)

Here is your value proposition. Why should your target market buy your products and not a competitor’s? Is because they’re thrifty and you offer the best price? Do they value cutting edge design or superior quality material? Do they value the name and reputation of your brand? Capitalize on what your customers value most and make it clear that that is exactly what your company offers.

Those were just the core elements of your business. Now, let’s move onto considering your style elements. Style elements of brand identity add up to make your brand identity what it is to the public. These are concrete, customer-facing elements that ideally, should communicate the abstract values of your company that were defined above.

Keeping these vital elements well-organized in a handbook helps you clearly communicate the standards by which they can to be used—helpful for your design team, or anyone else that may be producing your business’ branded materials.

Style Elements of a Brand Identity Kit


A logo is a symbol that is essentially your business’ face to the world. Being so, it must reflect your “why.” We know, capturing your company’s values, culture, and mission through a small symbol seems like an elusive task, but all the small parts that make up your logo (font, color, imagery if any) can be fine-tuned to get the job done. Consider ATAK’s logo—black and white, simple font, clean lines. It reflects who we are, and that’s direct, no bs, ready to get down to business.

Your logo could either be a graphic symbol, a word mark, or a pairing of both. Some companies have done extremely well with a logo that’s just a word mark (think Coca-Cola), and these logos are often cheaper and easier to formulate. In any case, the ways in which your logo can and cannot be used should be clearly defined in your brand identity kit.

Have a standard for spacing around your logo so that it never appears too closely to another image as this could take away from its impact. In addition to its original dimensions, render your logo in a variety of orientations so that it still shines when used on different platforms or promotional items.


The colors of your company play an important role in building the desired reputation you want for your brand. Factors like individual experiences and cultural differences make it difficult for us to make broad statements such as “yellow means happy!” but research has found that the appropriateness of a color in relation to a brand makes a difference in how the brand is perceived. In other words, are your colors appropriate to what you’re selling? Do they effectively communicate your brand personality and values?

Once you have these questions answered, figure out your brand colors’ hex code, Pantone colors, CMYK, and RBG colors and give these a section in your brand identity kit. This goes for both your primary colors (usually appears in your logo) and your secondary colors that support and complement them. With the case of secondary colors, it’s helpful to communicate how and where they can be used.


The typeface in your company’s communications provides another opportunity to build consistency in your brand identity. Choose a font that looks good in various sizes and weights, and not too decorative to serve in important correspondence.

Keep in mind that not all programs and computers could be compatible with the font you’ve chosen. If you’re producing your marketing materials in-house, make sure that those fonts are available on all of the systems that produce these materials. If you’re handing your marketing efforts over to an agency, be sure to provide a location for where these fonts can be downloaded. If the font that you’ve chosen exists on Mac but not PC or vice versa, be sure to choose an alternative that works to the same effect.

Identity Elements to Consider

Other smaller elements within the company are worth considering as they still have a large bearing on creating a unified brand image. Having a company-wide convention on email signatures helps further a company persona, especially since emails are public facing. The formatting, colors and logo placement (if any) should be clearly communicated to your employees when they come onboard. Here at ATAK, we encourage our team members to place a quote in their signature in which they find drive and meaning. Similarly, company headshots should follow a strict convention—what is the dress code, background, color scheme, etc.?

Have guidelines on how your company speaks. What kind of tone do you want your company to take on in its copy and outside communications? The tone should reflect your company’s values defined in your mission and position statement. Is the company voice exciting, friendly, silly, or direct and straightforward? Have a guideline on how copy should be used helps keep your company voice consistent across all platforms of communications.

For help in getting started, Here’s how we ATAK brand identity.

All the elements of your brand identity add up to how you’re perceived by the world. Remember that a brand identity kit is nothing if it doesn’t circle back to you mission statement—your “why.” Thus, each part should be carefully deliberated so that they go back in support of that one unifying message. A brand identity kit helps keep these elements clearly defined and accessible to anyone who may have a hand in your business’ marketing efforts.

Must-Have Magento Extensions for 2017

Out of the box, Magento is already a powerful ecommerce platform. The biggest challenge ecommerce businesses encounter trying to manage their own Magento stores is its complexity.

Thanks to Magento’s dedication to staying open source, the portability of its code mean that independent developers can create tools that help users and businesses get the functionality they need from Magento, and smooth over complications that they’re not interested in.

We develop Magento ecommerce stores every day for clients big and small. Just like no two stores are the same, there are store owners who desire different levels of hands-on interaction with their ecommerce store.

Some of the tech savvy ones can’t wait to dig into the UI and learn everything, but most of our Magento ecommerce clients need their ecommerce store to fit their busy schedule. Magento needs to work for customers, and be easily edited and updated.

That’s why it’s important to choose extensions that will make your website work for customers: easy to navigate, quick to load, and as interactive as modern ecommerce customers expect.

Top Magento Plugins for Simplifying Ecommerce

Website Firewall, Anti-Hacking, and Security: Magefence

If your site is down because it’s been hacked, you’re going to lose customer trust as well as SEO cachet. Protect your rankings and customer confidence with an extension that will be your ecommerce bodyguard. MageFence provides you information and warnings, and can give you Two-Step Verification, adding an extra layer of security to your store dashboard.

Ebay and Amazon Feed Exposure: Magento Feed Manager

One store isn’t always enough for the ecommerce marketplace. Adding your product feed to trusted sites like Google Shopping, Amazon, and Ebay, this feed manager builds a database of your products, and regularly uploads this with these ecommerce giants. Increase your potential audience size easily and automatically.

Page Speed for SEO and Customers: Warp Full Page Caching

Your store’s load time can have a chilling effect on your sales if it’s taking too long. Speed up your load time, and lose fewer customers. A caching plugin will allow you to put up site pages without having to spend as much time testing and tweaking for better load speeds. Warp is a perennial favorite.

Wholesale and Retail Pricing: Customer Specific Products

If your store offers wholesale pricing to other businesses, and separate retail pricing to customers, this is a must-have plugin. Manage your wholesale and retail operations from a single store with Customer Specific Products, and control the pricing that is available to different customer types.

Special Discounts and Promotions: Discount Links 

Make the purchase process simpler than ever with a plugin to simplify your sales and promotions. With this plugin from Themezaa, generate links which can automatically apply discounts when clicked. Don’t lose sales to discount confusion!

This plugin will also generate a report based on discount codes, to make your future marketing decisions even easier (but more on that later).

Personalized Product Recommendations: Automatic Related Products

When a customer is already making one purchase, it becomes easier to get them to add a second – as long as you can put the correct secondary product in the right place.

More Detailed Product Information: Product Videos

Delivering self-hosted video can be a real drag on load times. A plugin that makes it easy to embed video from outside sources simplifies the delivery of product video. This plugin can pull videos straight from Youtube, so that you can add influencer reviews of your products just as easily as your own videos!

Simplified Shopping Menus: Fast Navigation

Granular product navigation helps your customers find just what they’re looking for. This plugin makes navigation faster and easier for customers, with AJAX-powered menus that make selecting multiple attributes much faster.

Integrate Magento & WordPress Search: Product Search

If your website uses both Magento and WordPress, it’s necessary that your search extension bridges the gap between these platforms. Sphinx search makes this fast and easy, preventing customer frustration and abandoned carts.

Ecommerce Email with Great Data: Mailchimp + Mandrill

Mailchimp’s Mandrill service allows you to send easy and well-designed transactional ecommerce emails. Mandrill also allows you to market to customers automatically with abandoned cart, follow-up, and VIP customer emails. See our suggestions for ecommerce email automation workflows.

Better Store and Sales Data: Power Dashboard

Good decisions come from good data! The default Magento dashboard doesn’t make important store and sales data as accessible as some of the better extensions. Power Dashboard makes sales and product breakdowns much more accessible and visually appealing.

One of the reasons Magento is a core platform at ATAK is the variety and flexibility of its extension marketplace. Without the open source community, Magento wouldn’t be as robust or versatile as we expect it to be now.

Choosing Magento Extensions

Extensions with a great track record of stability and support make life easier for everyone involved in a web development project, from developers to ecommerce store managers.

On the fence about Magento? We wrote an ebook dedicated to why we love Magento, called Why Ecommerce Stores are Graduating from Shopify to Magento. Get it here!

Is Your Website an Internet Relic?

Getting a new website live can feel like a gargantuan effort. For many business owners, once a new site is live, it’s something that they no longer concern themselves with. As time passes, website functions and expectations change. If your business website has been left on the shelf, it may have gathered a bit of dust in the meantime.

The Symptoms of an Internet Relic

Can You Edit and Update Your Site?

In 2017, a website needs to be a document that can be easily edited and updated. A content management system is the basis of most websites, but it wasn’t a few years ago. If you can’t easily update the text on the pages of your website yourself, it might be time to have a more modern website to be built.

Our preferred website content management system is WordPress, which is open source and user-friendly. This way, business owners can keep their website up to date, and add their expertise to their website through a blog. It’s a great way to promote events, and changes in your industry, as well as get some search engine traffic benefits.

Does Your Website Support Mobile Phones?

If your website can’t be visited easily from a mobile phone or tablet, you’re in relic territory.  A responsive website is a must-have for modern search traffic and website visitors. If you do only one of these – fix this!

Is Your Website Interactive?

It’s important to decide what an interactive website means for your company. For some, this means that an interested customer can enter their information into a form to send an inquiry to your sales team. Usually for a business-to-business website, this means contact forms, some email automation, and blog commenting.

When it comes to a website with a more social focus, like a retail ecommerce business, interactivity can go to a whole new level. Interactive websites can personalize a visitor’s experience every time they come back to the website. For a clothing site, this may involve the proper seasonal selections, international currency options, and remembering a customer’s clothing sizing preferences.

Basic interactivity is now the expectation for any website – customers want a way to contact your organization, and a way to explore what you offer, sell, or do. If you don’t add interactivity to your website, you may be losing customers to sites that provide it.

Can Your Website Give You Data?

Modern marketing needs information to survive! Google Analytics is a free baseline for collecting website visitor information. Google analytics can be used for SEO, but it can also provide information about the paths visitors take on your website, and how they take the actions that your organization needs for online lead generation.

Website data can be collected beyond google analytics with tools that provide heatmaps, live chat to offer an instant customer contact, as well as advertising tools that can help you understand your digital audience.

What To Do If Your Website is an Antique

So, it turns out you’re holding an aging website in your databases. What’s the next step?

First things first: Think about what you want your website to be able to achieve. Your website can get sales, generate new leads, educate visitors, provide content, and nearly any other goal you can think of – as long as your marketing team can help you communicate that goal to your customers.

Next, do a little competitor research. What is your biggest competition doing with their website?

Don’t get too deep into assuming everything they’re doing on their website is working, but do take note of common features, language, and functionality in these websites.

After that comes a fun step: what website styles fit your company? Look at some popular websites and think about the parts of their design and functionality that you really enjoy. How can you translate that to fit your brand?

Finally, find the right partner to build it. With whichever web design agency you choose, make sure the communication is clear and you know exactly what you are getting. A good web design company will explain what is in the project scope and which opportunities exist outside of it. Lastly, you want to develop a long-term relationship with the company that builds your website, so before moving forward, consider the personalities of the team involved and make sure you want these people in your professional life.

In the Meantime…

A website redesign can also be a great time to refresh your brand identity, your branding materials, and the way you talk about what you do. The right agency can make this part of a new website design, creating merchandising and content marketing opportunities that will connect customers with your new branding.

In the end, an old website isn’t the end of the world – but it could mean that you are missing out on business opportunities to competitors with a more responsive, interactive digital presence. It’s not about following every new trend anymore; having a great website is something nearly any company should be able to do for its customers.

open source CMS CTA Banner

Web Design for Multi-location Businesses


As ecommerce continues to grow, users are now flooded with results when they search for a particular product or activity. In response, searches are becoming more geo-specific. A 2015 Google report found that searches containing the words “near me” have increased 34 times since 2011. We’ve talked before about local search now being the name of the game when it comes to Google search results. In short, local search is way for search engines to further narrow down the now endless options that a customer can come upon by indexing a website’s geographic information and giving priority to those that are more local to the searcher.


No matter how large or reputable the business, winning in local search means putting in the work so that each location has its own unique, individual, localized webpage. “What are these so very coveted aspects of a localized webpage?” you ask. Let’s take a look at some of the components that’ll make your business feel closer to home—to your customers, and to search engines.


Location Based URLs


If your business operates multiple locations, it would behoove you to give each location its own page with a unique, location-specific URL. As in the example of our client We Rock the Spectrum, they operate more than 60 locations worldwide! Follow their URL convention for every location they operate, From the URL itself, it’s clear that you operate a branch of your business in that particular area. Location-based URL’s makes it easy for search engines to funnel local users right to that page.




A mistake that you wouldn’t think would happen as often as it does is a business not providing simple, consistent, readily available contact information on their site. The absence of contact information makes it impossible for both customers and search engines to know whether or not you’re within their reach. Make it your first priority to have your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) prominently displayed. It’s best to have it on the immediate landing page, as well as on a footer that runs throughout your entire website.

Not only does NAP information makes it easier for customers to find you, it also gives search engines the geographical information they need to display your business first to your geographically relevant customers. Bonus, not-so-obvious tip: make sure your address and phone number stay the same throughout your site—inconsistencies happens more often than you think.


Geographically Targeted Content


1. Once you’ve got your customers to your page, keep things familiar with these bits of localized content:Your Story. Let your customers in on who you are. Share the history of your business, its mission, and how it’s servicing the community.

Hanz de Fuko

2. An integrated map and directions. Placing a map of your business location on the page is a quick and easy solution that allows for potential customers to visualize where you are and how to get there.

Woodland Hills Pharmacy


3. Testimonials. Does Karen from Sunnyvale love your business? Ask for a testimonial and display it on your webpage! This provides for a local connection between you and the community.

Pin-up Golf


4. Media Gallery. Photos of your staff, a live Instagram feed, an events calendar are all great for building a credible reputation for your business. Maybe you’ve attended or sponsored some local events in the past. Let it be known. You could take it a step further with video interviews of the staff and the company’s leaders.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 8.41.23 AM
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym


5. News. If your business has been featured in local news outlets or received an awesome award from the town or the industry, show it off. Again, this builds trust and a credible reputation.

Joan’s on Third


Keeping things local isn’t just for cool points anymore. Locality now plays a big role in adding to your company’s value—both to customers and to search engines. In a competitive environment where you’re constantly looking for a new means to stand out, gearing your webpages to your local audience with location-relevant content is one more way to give your business that extra edge.