Given how many people the average brand interacts with nowadays, it’s no surprise that so many have come to rely on customer relationship management platforms. By organizing your business’s relationships and interactions with both clients and potential clients, you keep people happy. By keeping people happy, you grow your brand.
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
Now, there are plenty of CRM solutions on the web – the market is a lot like that for content management systems, in that regard. In my experience, one of the best choices you can make is Oro. With a 360 degree view that integrates every step of the customer journey, the ability to build geographically-targeted campaigns, and superior data organization, it’ll likely prove invaluable in your business’s day-to-day.
As with any platform, OroCRM can be made immensely more effective if you know what you’re doing with it. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. Here are a few tips and tricks you probably weren’t aware of on the platform – use them to build a better brand.
Customize It Via Symfony
Of course, before you go reinventing the wheel, it’s worth mentioning that OroCRM has a pretty well-populated marketplace of extensions, as well. Have a look to see if someone’s already coded what you’re trying. No sense wasting a ton of effort, right?
Manage Your Inventory
A CRM platform isn’t exactly the first thing you’d think of if one was to mention warehousing. Here’s the thing, though – OroCRM has a sister app called OroCommerce. Not surprisingly, the two platforms are capable of close integration with one another.
That means that with just a few minor tweaks, you can manage both your customers and product stores via a single dashboard – keeping both your customer relationships and inventory that much healthier in the process.
Control Your Workflow
Last but certainly not least, OroCRM allows employees to keep track of their daily activities through a built-in Kanban board. Workers can manage their workflows, keep track of communications between themselves, colleagues, and clients, and add remarks to projects and entries within the app.
You can also assign tasks to individual users to help keep them on-track with their duty, organizing those tasks by priority and managing them from start to finish. Using this functionality, you can ensure your support professionals are more efficient and organized. And that, in turn, will better-equip them to keep your customers happy – and keep them coming back.
Job hunting can be pretty difficult for creative professionals. You’re not in a field like financial services or the sciences, where you’ve got a good transcript and hard numbers to back you up. You’ve only got your work – and it needs to speak for itself.
It can’t really do that if no one can find it.
Whether you’re a graphic designer, a musician, an artist, or a content marketer, you need to have a place where you can showcase what you do. A website to which you can direct both prospective clients and curious friends/family. And in building such a website, WordPress is one of your best options.
It’s Easy To Use
WordPress isn’t the most popular content management system in the world for nothing. It’s extremely easy to use and manage. I’ve known plenty of writers, for example, who wouldn’t know proper coding standards from a hole in the ground – they’re able to use the platform without any difficulty whatsoever.
Even if you’re building your website from the ground up and just managing it with WordPress (in which case, hire a web designer), most of the work that goes into setting up a portfolio site is at the beginning. Foundational stuff. The day-to-day is nearly effortless.
At this point, given the size and age of WordPress’s plugin development community, I’d go so far as to say that there’s a plugin for everything. And even if you can’t find a plugin to do what you want, you can probably get someone to code it for you.(or code it yourself, if you’re willing to learn PHP).
…And Plenty Of Perfect Themes
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about themes. Tons of creatives use WordPress to host their portfolios online – many theme creators maintain portfolios themselves. For that reason, there are a ton of elegant, beautiful, and snazzy themes you can use to customize your site’s layout, both free and premium.
So long as you only download from reputable, trusted sources, you can make your website look however you envision.
Show Your Creativity
So, why use WordPress as the backend of your portfolio? The better question is why wouldn’t you? While there are certainly plenty of other content management systems out there that could work, WordPress remains one of the most effective, efficient, and easy to use.
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is set to usher in the next era of European digital compliance this May. As the latest set of European Union (EU) regulations regarding consumer rights, the GDPR has been proposed in order to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals, and address issues with exporting data outside of the EU.
This will mean changes to the way in which many businesses which operate within the EU handle and process customer data. Keep reading to find out how.
What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
The GDPR is a new set of online data security regulations which have been adopted by the EU and will be put in place by May 25.
The main things you need to know are that the GDPR will increase the definition of what constitutes personal data, change the way in which you handle that data, and provide individual EU consumers with increased control over their personal information.
While online data security and consumer rights protections have existed for a long time – in the form of the Data Protection Directive – its definitions and mechanisms date back to 1995. The internet has changed a lot since then and new regulations have long been needed.
The GDPR will apply to all EU member states and any business which is active within them. For many companies both inside and outside of the EU, this will mean a change of strategy in order to continue working within Europe.
Why do we need the GDPR?
In a sentence: because data protection and privacy issues are increasingly becoming a problem.
As internet technology continues to grow so too does the frequency and effect of data breaches. In 2013, there were over 575 million of them. By the first half of 2017, that number had increased to over 1.9 billion. Over 95% of those breaches involved unencrypted data which was not being suitably protected. How does this affect consumers and organizations? By 2019, the total global annual cost of all data breaches is expected to exceed $2.1 trillion in damages.
The GDPR aims to try and reduce these figures by creating a set of data security standards. These are standards which organizations and businesses which operate or have an entity in Europe will need to follow. For some, these increased protections are just “common sense” data security ideas which should have been implemented long ago. For others, they are serious concerns which their business has yet to fully address. In a survey by Deloitte, it was found that just 15% of respondents expected to be fully GDPR compliant by the deadline.
Who Will Be Affected by the GDPR?
Your business will be affected by the GDPR if you are storing or processing information on EU citizens, even if your business or processing centers are not located in the EU.
“This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data in the context of the activities of an establishment of a controller or a processor in the [European] Union, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the [European] Union or not.”
How Will the GDPR Work?
Current data security regulations already require security for names, addresses, and basic ID numbers (i.e. social security). The GDPR aims to take this and provide similar protection for individual IP addresses, cookie data, and more.
By securing this information in a more stringent manner, protection against data breaches and information theft will hopefully decrease. However, you should note that the GDPR does not just address what type of information is protected, it also addresses how it is protected.
Data the GDPR Will Protect Includes:
Names, addresses, and ID numbers
Location data, IP addresses, cookie data and RFID tags
Racial and ethnicity data
Additional GDPR Roles
There are three main roles which have been defined by the GDPR which will need to be filled. These roles are responsible for implementation and compliance with the GDPR. They include:
A Data Controller – Responsible for deciding on how personal data is processed and why it is processed.
A Data Processor – Responsible for maintaining and processing personal data records, as well as ensuring that processing partners also comply.
A Data Protection Officer – Responsible for overseeing the data security strategy and making sure that you are GDPR compliant.
According to the new GDPR guidelines, consent will become a major factor in the storing of personal information. Consent must be explicitly given by those providing personal information and data controllers must be able to prove this. Furthermore, if an individual would like to withdraw consent, they are able to at any time, whereupon data must be deleted.
GDPR Pseudonymisation is a process whereby information is transformed so as to not be attributable to a single individual without secondary verification. This means that personal data must be made “unintelligible” without the use of a secondary set of information by which to understand it. This may mean using encryption, or it may mean adopting a tokenization system.
GDPR Data Portability
Data portability concerns “the right for a data subject to receive the personal data concerning them”. This means that data must be portable and easily transferred to its subject in a ‘commonly used and machine readable format’.
By When Do I Have to Be GDPR Compliant?
GDPR compliance will be required by May 25, 2018.
What Are the GDPR fines?
Fines for those who are not GDPR compliant will vary depending on the severity of non-compliance. At this point in time, examples of GDPR fines have not been released.
However, it has been indicated that fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior fiscal year, are likely for those who have not followed the basic principles for processing or conditions for consent.
For those who have not managed their monitoring bodies or controllers and processors of the GDPR, fines will instead be up to €10 million, or 2% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior fiscal year.
Hostdedi and GDPR
In order to help clients who will be affected by the GDPR, Hostdedi will be GDPR compliant. We are currently working to ensure that our policies and procedures comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In the coming weeks, we will be making sure that you are informed of any changes which take place to Hostdedi’ services. At this point in time, we fully believe that you will be satisfied with those changes.
Note that this guide does not constitute legal advice and is rather an overview of the regulation changes which will take effect. For a full breakdown of the changes taking place, please consult the agreed text from the EUGDPR.org website.
A functional eCommerce store is made up of two components: a feature-rich eCommerce application and a fast, scalable hosting solution. Once you have settled on an eCommerce application for your online retail store, it’s time to decide on a hosting solution. Hosting provides the bandwidth, storage, compute, and database resources an eCommerce store needs.
In this article, we’re going to look at the qualities of a great eCommerce hosting provider and at the types of hosting suitable for online retail.
Cheap Shared Hosting Is Not The Best Option
Modern eCommerce applications like Magento and WooCommerce are built on standard technology like MySQL and PHP. Any web hosting platform can run an eCommerce store, but not all provide the resources, support, and eCommerce-specific optimizations that a great online retail experience requires.
For very low traffic eCommerce stores, a standard shared hosting account or virtual private server might be adequate, but you will soon run into resource, performance, scaling, and security problems as your business grows.
Choosing a specialist managed eCommerce hosting provider with expertise in your chosen application will be slightly more expensive, but you’ll save time and money throughout the life of your business.
The Qualities Of An Excellent eCommerce Hosting Provider
A good eCommerce hosting provider understands the hosting requirements of eCommerce applications and the needs of eCommerce businesses. An eCommerce store isn’t an ordinary website.
Performance-optimized hosting: Speed and responsiveness are vital. Slow stores make less money. Look for a web hosting provider with the technical ability to optimize their networks, servers, and software stack for the best possible performance.
Managed Services: A world-class eCommerce host will provide managed services that help retailers make the most of the hosting platform. Managed services should include performance optimization, security hardening, and comprehensive backup services.
Support: Responsive support is vital. You don’t want to be left twiddling your thumbs if an issue arises with your store during a busy shopping period. Look for an eCommerce host who is prepared to work with you and your team to secure, scale, and optimize the reliability of your store.
A reputation for security: Security is vital at all levels of eCommerce hosting, from the data center to the application itself. Make sure your eCommerce host can demonstrate the quality of its security controls with third-party certifications like SSAE 16 and PCI DSS. Additionally, verify that the provider’s platform runs the most recent software versions and that the software stack is regularly updated — you’d be surprised how many hosting providers use outdated and vulnerable software.
Choosing The Right Hosting
There are three main types of eCommerce hosting suitable for applications like Magento and WooCommerce: shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, and clusters of dedicated servers.
Shared eCommerce hosting: With shared hosting, the resources of a server are shared between several eCommerce stores. Unlike standard shared web hosting, a reputable eCommerce hosting provider strictly limits the number of stores each server supports. eCommerce-optimized shared hosting is ideal for smaller stores.
Dedicated Server eCommerce hosting: Each store has access to the resources of an enterprise-grade dedicated server. Dedicated servers are the most powerful single-server hosting option available. Dedicated servers are suitable for medium to large eCommerce stores.
Dedicated Server Clusters: The most powerful eCommerce hosting option, clusters combine the resources of several dedicated servers, with each server taking responsibility for a different aspect of the store’s functionality, including web servers, file servers, and database servers. Clusters are capable of supporting the largest eCommerce stores and can be scaled indefinitely.
As an eCommerce store grows, its hosting should be able to grow with it. By choosing a provider that offers hosting options suitable for stores from the smallest to the largest, eCommerce merchants establish a long-term relationship with a host who can support their business throughout its life.
eCommerce is the future of retail, but what will the eCommerce store of the future look like? Will eCommerce businesses sell their products via third-party channels like eBay or Amazon, or will they invest in an eCommerce website they control? Will eCommerce apps take the place of traditional eCommerce stores on the web platform?
It’s hard to predict what will happen in an era of rapidly evolving technology and consumer behavior, but we think the web-based eCommerce store is here to stay. Retailers will invest in mobile eCommerce apps and they will sell via many channels, but at the center there will be an eCommerce website designed, managed, marketed, and controlled by the retailer.
A web eCommerce store supported by an application like Magento or WooCommerce offers two advantages that other channels do not: it’s on the web and it doesn’t depend on third-party platforms.
Why Does The Web Matter?
The web matters because it’s where people find your store: Google sends a massive amount of traffic to eCommerce stores, and most consumers search on the web. The web is everywhere, whereas persuading shoppers to install native applications is challenging.
Evidence shows that many consumers prefer to shop on the web, and while mobile eCommerce can’t be ignored, nor can the significant proportion of purchases that are made from non-mobile browsers. Retailers without a web presence are at a disadvantage.
Five years ago, native mobile apps offered the best eCommerce experience, but today’s web is different. In 2018, the web platform is competitive with the native app experience, and with the introduction of Progressive Web Apps, the distance between web and native is even narrower.
Why Does Control Matter?
Third-party retail channels like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and others generate a lot of revenue for eCommerce retailers. Social eCommerce and instant messaging eCommerce are an important part of the future of retail. But third-party channels have a drawback: they force retailers to cede control to the platform.
Retailers with a hosted web eCommerce store don’t face that risk. They don’t have to worry about “pivots” and “platform sunsetting” pulling the rug out from under them. They don’t have to align their business model to the business model of the platform owner. Independent web stores can access more data than retailers constrained to third-party platforms — data they don’t have to share.
Another important freedom is the ability to move an eCommerce business to a different platform or hosting provider. It’s straightforward to migrate a Magento or WooCommerce store to a different web hosting provider. It’s only a little more difficult to move from a Magento store to a WooCommerce store or vice versa. It’s almost impossible to move lock, stock, and barrel from a third-party marketplace when you depend on it and its audience for all of your revenue.
One Home, Many Channels
Omni-channel eCommerce doesn’t mean abandoning the control provided by a central web-based eCommerce store. Magento offers excellent integration with multiples channels: the Sellbrite extension is just one example of a tool that can integrate an existing eBay, Amazon, and Etsy retail with a Magento web presence.
In 2018, there is no excuse for a slow eCommerce store. Shoppers don’t have the patience to wait while pages load or slow search and checkout features struggle to react to input. Performance optimization involves taking a close look at your eCommerce store and how it works, figuring out why it’s slow, and making the necessary changes.
At a high level, performance optimization can be divided into two broad categories: client-side or front-end optimization that deals with loading and executing code and other assets in the browser, and server-side or backend optimization, which focuses on improving the speed at which web pages are generated and sent to the browser.
Choose The Right Hosting Provider
The right hosting provider is vital to low-latency eCommerce performance. If an eCommerce store runs on a slow or unoptimized server, it will never be fast, no matter how hard you work to optimize it. If the store’s server doesn’t have the resources it needs to cope with the traffic it receives, it will perform poorly under load.
The solution is to migrate to a hosting plan with more resources or to a hosting provider capable of offering the performance eCommerce shoppers expect.
Understand The Problem
eCommerce stores are complex and there are many opportunities for optimization, but retailers need to know what’s going wrong before they can fix it. Data allows you to identify the real cause of the problem, rather than wasting time on theoretical performance optimizations.
The tools we suggested above provide a good starting point for optimization, but here are three optimizations that are almost certain to make pages load faster:
Optimize images: Images are an important part of any eCommerce product page, but they’re also often the largest. Use tools like ImageOptim or a web service like Kraken.io to remove extraneous metadata and reduce the size of images without reducing their quality.
The best server-side optimization is to choose a web hosting provider that does most of the work for you, providing powerful servers, an optimized software stack, and a low-latency network.
A good web hosting provider will also help you out with a couple of other optimizations that can significantly improve load-times and reduce latency: a content distribution network and server-side caching.
Caching stores the output of requests so that they don’t have to be generated by code that accesses the database every time a browser requests the same information. eCommerce is a dynamic process, and caching works well with data that changes infrequently, but it can nevertheless significantly boost the perceived performance of an eCommerce store.
Caching solutions are available for WooCommerce and Magento, both as plugins or extensions, and as external caching applications like Varnish and Memcached.
A slow eCommerce store hurts sales and revenue, so it’s worth investing the time to reduce latencies and build a fast and fluid shopping experience.Slow eCommerce stores lose out on sales and revenue — we look at the how and the why of eCommerce optimization
I don’t encourage site owners to spend their time obsessively scrutinizing search rankings: there are more positive ways to increase traffic to your site. Nevertheless, a drop in search position can have a substantial impact on the number of visitors your site receives, and hence on revenue.
Every site is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of declining search position, but, in my experience, these are the five areas that you should focus on if your site has recently tanked in the SERPs.
Although Google’s algorithms have come a long way since the days they entirely depended on incoming links to assess the value of a web page, backlinks still matter.
If a site loses a lot of the links that were propping it up in the SERPs, it’s likely to take a dive. But it doesn’t have to be a lot of links: a small number of links from high-authority pages have an outsized effect, and if they’re removed, the drop in rank can be substantial.
Use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to assess your site’s backlink profile at regular intervals, so that you can compare over time. It should help you identify potential problems with the site’s link profile.
The opposite of losing good links is gaining bad links, and that can be harmful too. So-called negative SEO could be the culprit, so look carefully at your backlink profile for evidence of links from bad neighborhoods. The Disavow Backlinks tool might come in handy, but use it with caution or you may shoot yourself in the foot.
The Competition Has Stepped Up Their Game
Rankings are relative. For a site to go up, another site has to go down. If you’re losing position relative to a competitor, take a close look at any recent changes they’ve made to their site: improved content, better backlinks, and anything else that might cause their site to look better to Google.
A thorough competitor analysis can point the way to improvements you might make to your own site.
Penalties And Algorithm Changes
Google is opinionated about what it does and does not like. Site owners who aren’t familiar with the rules can accidentally damage their ranking potential. The first step is to take a look at Google Search Console, which will tell you about any manual penalties that have been applied.
If there are no manual penalties, familiarize yourself with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you’re doing something Google doesn’t like, that’s where you’ll find out what it is.
Server Issues / Poor hosting
Google wants to send its users to websites that provide a positive experience. Slow-loading sites, excessive latency, and unresponsive pages do not a good experience make. For the sake of both SEO and user experience, it’s worth making sure that your site is as fast and responsive as possible.
If your web host isn’t up to the job, no amount of performance optimization will make much of a difference. If performance is a problem, consider upgrading to faster hosting or migrating to a web hosting provider with a platform that can support the needs of your site.
Random Fluctuations In Rank
This is perhaps the most frustrating type of rank change: it’s often called the Google Dance or Google Flux. A site will lose and gain ranking with no discernible reason as Google tweaks its algorithm or some other factor changes.
There’s really nothing you can do about random fluctuations other than redoubling your SEO efforts, following best practices, and ensuring that your site offers the best possible user experience.
And yet, I often hear eCommerce merchants debating the benefits of native applications.
Native applications sound like something eCommerce merchants that reach a certain size should invest in. Native applications are faster than web applications, and they’re likely to stay that way until WebAssembly enters mainstream use. Native applications can take advantage of device hardware that is clumsy or impossible to access on the web.
However, with some exceptions I’ll discuss later, native applications are typically not a good investment for eCommerce retailers.
The most important argument against building a native application for eCommerce retail is that the majority of customers won’t use it. Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to interact with eCommerce stores on the web — they prefer to locate stores, read product reviews, make purchases, and check order statuses on the web. Theoretically, a properly designed native application could provide a marginally better shopping experience, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s not what shoppers want.
Look at the home screen of your iOS or Android phone. How many shopping applications do you have installed? For most consumers, the answer is none, and even dedicated shoppers are selective about the shopping applications they install.
Given that most shoppers prefer the web, is a native app really the best investment? A bespoke native application is expensive to build and manage, and it adds a huge amount of complexity to development, especially if the retailer wants to create an app that is available on all the major mobile platforms.
It makes sense to focus development work on a single codebase, a responsive web application that works everywhere from the desktop to the smartphone. The modern web has access to many of the same capabilities as native applications via browser APIs, including push notifications. The gap between what’s possible on the web and in native applications is shrinking rapidly.
Although I don’t think building a parallel native eCommerce application is the best use of a retailer’s time and money, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for native applications in eCommerce. Leading eCommerce brands use native apps to raise consumer awareness and for content marketing. Fashion brand Miu Miu created a music app to showcase fashion show excerpts and a custom soundtrack. Paul Smith released Paul Smith Dino Jumper, a retro platform game. An app from Hermés demonstrates all the ways its customers might wear their scarves and ties.
The creative use of native applications can boost brand awareness, but there’s little point duplicating a web store as a native app — let each platform play to its strengths and user-base.
Social proof is a vital part of eCommerce conversion rate optimization. Unlike in brick-and-mortar stores, customers can’t inspect products in person. Shoppers can’t know for sure that they’ll get what they expect. Social proof, in the form of positive reviews, lets customers know that other people were happy with their purchase.
But few shoppers leave positive reviews — and why would they? Taking the time to write a positive review does nothing for the customer. They already have the product they paid for and they have nothing to gain from reviewing it.
However, customers who are not happy with their purchase are more than willing to make their opinions known. Satisfaction is less motivating than the opposite, and the imbalance is the bane of eCommerce retailers.
One dissatisfied customer who writes a review has more of an impact than a thousand happy customers who don’t. A couple of negative reviews on a product page or on social media can do real financial damage to a retail business, especially if those reviews find their way into a prominent position on Google.
Retailers shouldn’t leave positive reviews to chance. Some eCommerce retailers solve the positive review problem dishonestly, by manufacturing their reviews. I wouldn’t encourage that practice: customers can often spot a fake review, and if they have the slightest suspicion their trust in a store can be destroyed.
So how should eCommerce retailers get positive reviews?
Ask For Positive Reviews
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s important not to alienate customers by “begging” for reviews or employing manipulative techniques, but there’s nothing wrong with asking politely. Effective review request emails make it clear that the retailer values the customer’s opinion, and that any information they provide will be taken seriously.
Time It Right
For the most part, you only get one opportunity to ask for a review. Make it count. Don’t send the review request email before the product has been delivered. Give the user some time to have an experience with their purchase before asking them to write about it.
Make It Easy
It should be as easy as possible to leave a review. When customers write a positive review, they’re doing you a favor — don’t make them work for it. Send a direct link to the review interface with the review request email, preferably with a unique identifier that ties the URL to their purchase.
Don’t ask too many questions: one question is fine, but a complex web form with many questions will discourage customers.
Your review system should work perfectly on mobile devices. People use their phones and tablets to read email, and if they can’t leave a review on the same device, the opportunity is wasted.
In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be necessary to create a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” review strategy, but if you’re having real difficult generating reviews, you may find incentives effective. I wouldn’t advise you pay: payment degrades the trustworthiness of reviews. But small discounts and perks can motivate reluctant reviewers to make an effort.
Convincing happy shoppers to leave reviews is one of the most challenging aspects of eCommerce, but the social proof of positive reviews can generate significant conversion rate improvements, so spending time on your review strategy is a sound investment.
Winter is almost over! Get out of hibernation and check out this month’s roundup! If you’re looking for the same great articles the rest of the year, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Enjoy and let us know if we missed anything important in the comment section. WordPress and WooCommerce A Newbie’s Guide to…