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What Does PHP 5.6’s End-of-Life Mean For WordPress Users?

What Does PHP 5.6’s End-of-Life Mean For WordPress Users?

PHP 5.6 is the most widely used minor version of a programming language on the web. The PHP language is used on 79% of websites where the server-side language is known. PHP 5 is used on 58% of the web, and PHP 5.6 is used on around a quarter of all websites. It would not be an exaggeration to say there are millions of websites running PHP 5.6 — and also millions using older versions of PHP.

The statistics for WordPress are in the same ballpark: 35% of WordPress sites run on PHP 5.6. For a four-year-old piece of software, PHP 5.6 remains remarkably successful. It is also unsupported, receiving neither bug fixes nor security updates.

By the end of December 2018, PHP 5.6 hadn’t been actively supported for two years, during which time it received no bug-fix releases. Its official end of life was reached as 2018 came to a close, and, going forward, it will no longer be updated for critical security issues either.

PHP 5.6 and WordPress

WordPress recommends that hosting providers support PHP 7.3, which is the most recent version. At the time of writing, modern versions of WordPress will run on much older PHP versions, back to PHP 5.2.4, but, as WordPress’ developers make clear, using an older version may expose your site to security vulnerabilities. When WordPress 5.1 is released later this year, PHP 5.6 will become the minimum supported version, and sites using older versions may begin to experience compatibility problems. There are tentative plans to make PHP 7 the minimum supported version as early as the end of 2019, but given the huge install base for WordPress on PHP 5.6, it’s uncertain that this will actually happen.

Your site will continue to work. Although PHP 5.6 is no longer supported, WordPress sites that use it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. WordPress’ developers prefer site owners to use up-to-date versions, but they ensure that WordPress is compatible with older versions. However, it’s not guaranteed that WordPress will remain compatible with older versions forever or that developers will continue to support old versions for as long as they have.

Using older versions is a security risk. If a critical vulnerability is discovered in PHP 5.6, it won’t be fixed. It’s impossible to say how much of a risk this poses because no one knows if there are any critical security vulnerabilities in PHP 5.6. Over the last couple of years, numerous denial of service vulnerabilities were discovered and patched in PHP 5.6, but few critical remote code execution or privilege escalation vulnerabilities. After four years, the risk of show-stopping vulnerabilities is not high, but it is not zero.

New WordPress sites should use supported versions of PHP. There is no good reason to launch a new WordPress site on an unsupported version of PHP. Hosting providers that use outdated versions for new sites are negligent, knowingly put their clients at risk. Responsible hosting providers regularly upgrade PHP across their hosting platforms. Hostdedi offers the most recent supported version for new WordPress hosting accounts, although we continue to support older versions for clients who need them.

In summary, while there is no need to panic, hosting clients with sites based on PHP 5.6 should consider upgrading to a more recent version because there is a non-negligible security risk when using older versions of PHP.

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Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your Site

Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your Site

Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your SiteWordPress has a fairly simple interface, but there is a lot happening beneath the surface that you don’t see. Every page load and configuration change may trigger dozens of functions which, in turn, may trigger dozens more. Most of the time, the activity is hidden and that’s a good thing: you don’t need to know everything your WordPress site does behind the scenes.

But sometimes it’s useful to move the curtain aside and see what’s really happening. WordPress can communicate with you in various ways: it can send you emails, it can display notifications, but today we’re going to look at logs.

A log is a list of events, usually displayed in the order in which they occurred. Logs often include errors, but they might also include the day-to-day activities of your site.

Logs are useful for figuring out what is happening when it isn’t obvious from the interface. For example, you might install and configure a plugin so that a widget is displayed on the home page. If the widget doesn’t appear, you can look at log files for clues about what went wrong.

  Low activity may be due to slow site speed. Here are some simple optimizations to speed up your website

The WordPress Error Log

WordPress doesn’t produce a log of errors unless you ask it to. There are a couple of ways to get WordPress to generate an error log. We’ll look at doing it manually first.

In the root of your WordPress installation is a file called wp-config.php. It includes variable definitions and other code for configuring WordPress. You can edit this file by SSHing into your WordPress hosting account or by using an FTP client like Filezilla.

To turn on the error log, look for code that says:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );

 

Change it to the following:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );

 

This turns on debugging, but you also need to add another line so that WordPress sends errors to a log:

define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);

 

Make sure that there is only one occurrence of the WP_DEBUG and WP_DEBUG_LOG  definitions in wp-config.php.

Now, if you look in your WordPress installation’s /wp-content directory, you will find a file called debug.log that contains errors and other useful information. As you carry out actions on your site, any errors generated by the site’s code are added to the log.

When you have finished using the log, it’s a good idea to turn off log generation by returning wp-config.php to its default state.

An easier option

If editing the wp-config.php file manually and viewing logs over Filezilla doesn’t sound like fun, you can use a plugin to toggle logging and view the log. WP Log Viewer allows you to turn logging on and off, and provides useful tools for downloading and viewing the error log.

  Get started with the new Gutenberg editor here

Comprehensive Logging

The error log doesn’t tell you everything that happens on your site. If you’re interested in logging comprehensive information about what your site is doing and what users are doing on your site, you need a plugin such as WP Security Audit Log.

WP Security Audit Log logs a huge range of information, including changes to posts and pages, user accounts, settings, the database, and more.

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Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Five Extensions For Boosting Sales On Your Magento Store

Magento is a mature and feature-rich eCommerce application. It has everything a retailer needs to build an online store. But Magento, as richly endowed as it is, can’t be all things to all retailers. That’s why the Magento Marketplace and Magento extensions exist. They give developers the opportunity to put their own spin on essential eCommerce features.

In this article, we’re going to look at five of the best Magento extensions for increasing sales. We’re interpreting “increase sales” broadly, and will suggest extensions that will help you to bring new customers to your store, improve the shopping experience, and win back customers who leave without making a purchase.

Loyalty programs that offer discounts to loyal shoppers are an effective way of increasing sales and making sure that shoppers come back for more.

Loyalty Program from Amasty provides a huge range of functionality focused on building flexible discount reward schemes. The extension allows Magento retailers to create rewards based on a variety of attributes, including cart contents, purchase history, and more. There are many loyalty program extensions for Magento, but I’ve chosen to highlight this one because of its flexibility: Loyalty Program offers over 16 discount actions and intelligent discounting rules that cover almost everything a retailer might want to offer shoppers.

Research has shown that around 70% of carts are abandoned. Shoppers put products in the carts, but fail to complete the checkout process. Shoppers abandon carts for many reasons, but some can be won back with a well-timed email and the offer of a discount.

Abandoned Cart Email provides highly configurable email reminders with personalization features such as email templates customized for specific customer groups. The extension can also automatically generate coupon codes based on flexible rules chosen by the retailer.

Uncertainty is the enemy of eCommerce retailers. Online retail has many advantages that brick-and-mortar does not, but it suffers from some limitations where direct interaction is concerned. The answer to a question or concern can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Instant chat embedded on the site and staffed by a knowledgeable support team helps shoppers to get the answers they need to make a decision.

ZenDesk Chat provides Magento integration to the popular ZenDesk real-time chat service, allowing support staff to respond instantly to queries.

A significant proportion of shoppers arrive at eCommerce stores via a search engine. Magento is well-equipped to support excellent search engine optimization, but the SEO Ultimate Suite makes it easier to implement SEO best practices such as adding metadata to product and category pages, internal cross-linking, duplicate content resolution, and rich snippets.

Algolia Instant Search upgrades Magento’s built-in search capabilities with features shoppers are familiar with from search engines like Google. Algolia’s features include instant search results as the user types, autocomplete, search suggestions, and synonym matching.

I’ve tried to include the best of each category of extension in this article, but there are many that provide similar functionality. If my suggestions don’t fit your needs, be sure to browse the Magento Marketplace for more ideas.

 

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Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber Crime?

Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber Crime?

Why Are eCommerce Stores The Number One Target Of Cyber CrimeIn 2017, global online crime generated $1.5 trillion. To put that statistic in context, global eCommerce sales in 2016 totaled around $1.8 trillion. Both of those figures can be challenged and neither is likely to be entirely accurate, but it is clear that online crime is a huge, sophisticated, and professional industry. Much of that industry’s attention is focused on eCommerce retailers.

Anyone who runs an online retail store will find themselves a target sooner or later. By some estimates, 90% of login attempts to eCommerce stores are fraudulent. According to a recent study, about half of all website visitors are bots and around a third are there to attack your site. ThreatMetrix reported a billion bot attacks and 210 million attempted fraud attacks in the first quarter of this year.

But what do criminals gain from their focus on eCommerce stores? In reality, it’s much the same as they get from any site – resources, data, and traffic – but the specifics of eCommerce mean that online stores have a richer vein of those assets to mine.

Data exploitation

Online retail stores have access to a lot of data about their customers. That includes names, addresses, and other data that can be used for identity theft.

Of course, the most valuable data is credit card numbers, and those are not often stored in eCommerce databases. One of the reasons retailers use payment processors is so that they don’t have to deal with the burdensome standards and risks associated with credit card data.

But, if an attacker can compromise a site and inject code of their own, sensitive data can be transmitted to a server under their control. This is called credit card skimming. We have recently seen a massive series of skimming campaigns against Magento and other eCommerce stores.

Traffic is valuable

Retailers spend a lot of money on marketing to bring people to their store. That traffic is a valuable resource that a criminal would otherwise have to generate themselves. We’ve already discussed credit card skimming, but criminals also want access to traffic so that they can redirect visitors to phishing websites, malware websites, spam pages, and a variety of other malicious content.

Server resources and bandwidth

No legitimate hosting provider wants to sell bandwidth and server resources to criminals, so they have to get them elsewhere. eCommerce stores are often hosted on high-end servers with a decent chunk of low-latency bandwidth at their disposal. That makes them a good target for spammers and botnet operators who need the bandwidth.

Another resource criminals are interested in is less tangible: your reputation. This can be exploited in a number of ways. For instance, SEO spammers embed links to malicious sites they want to boost in search engine results. It’s your reputation that causes shoppers to entrust their data to you in the first place. And it’s your reputation that will be destroyed if your store leaks sensitive data, hosts credit card skimmers, or infects shoppers with ransomware.

Combating Online Crime

Online security for eCommerce stores is a complex topic, but there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your store will be victimized.

  • Update your store and its extensions regularly. The importance of this is hard to overstate. Out-of-date stores are vulnerable.
  • Make sure all plugins and extensions are downloaded from reputable sources.
  • Use two-factor authentication. This will help prevent successful brute-force attacks.
  • Choose your hosting wisely. If you don’t choose a competent hosting provider that cares about security, there’s little you can do to ensure that your store stays safe.

There is no silver bullet for eCommerce security, but these four simple tips will keep your store safe from opportunistic attacks by criminals in search of weaker sites to exploit.

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Does Your WordPress Site Really Need Web Fonts?

Does Your WordPress Site Really Need Web Fonts?

Does Your WordPress Site Really Need Web FontsThe web is rich with images and video, but it is primarily a textual medium dominated by the written word. The web is all about reading, and that means we have to pay attention to typography.

Typography concerns itself with all aspects of displaying text on a page, but the typeface is its fundamental building block and choosing a typeface is the first step in creating attractive and readable text.

Finding Fonts

Thanks to web fonts and font hosting services like Typekit and Google Fonts, we can choose any of thousands of fonts for our WordPress sites, but there is a price to be paid for all that choice — web fonts inflate the size of web pages and increase the time it takes for them to download.

We weren’t always given so much choice. In the early days of the web, designers could use only web-safe fonts: typefaces that were already installed on the majority of devices. That’s why Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana were ubiquitous on the early web.

Introducing Web Fonts

Web fonts were introduced to overcome the limitations web-safe fonts. Fonts could be packaged up and added to a web page. Later, font hosting services made using web fonts even easier. And with free font hosting services like Google Fonts, there is no reason not to use web fonts.

But web fonts aren’t without critics. They have been vilified as unnecessary, overly large, and unjustified because users don’t care about them. Designers certainly care about the typefaces that appear on the pages they design, but it’s the rare user who will abandon a site for using a web-safe font. They do, however, abandon sites that take too long to load and render because of a huge font file.

The designer Adam Morse made this point forcefully in 2016 when he wrote:

Typography is not about aesthetics, it’s about serving the text … webfonts cause more problems than they solve and weren’t worth the cost to my users or myself.

There is some truth to this argument, but it’s not a view typographers are likely to endorse. Historically, web-safe fonts were poorly implemented copies of earlier typefaces: the Palatino system font is a bad copy of Hermann Zapf’s original work, and Microsoft’s Book Antiqua is an uninspired copy of that.

There is nothing unique, original, or inspiring about a web page set in Times New Roman, and although these are not things that the average web user is consciously concerned about, there is a felt difference between a site with carefully selected high-quality typography and a site with old-fashioned fonts that have been seen a million times before.

That said, today’s system fonts are far superior to their ancestors. Microsoft’s Segoe, Apple’s San Francisco, and Google’s Roboto are fine typefaces. A font stack that takes advantage of them is adequate if uninspired.

WordPress site owners should balance the time taken to load web fonts with their design and readability benefits to come to a decision that best reflects the goals of their site.

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How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

Every site owner should know about and track their bounce rate. As one of the core factors Google uses to analyze site quality, the lower your bounce rate, the better you’ll rank.

Luckily, there are some simple techniques for reducing bounce rate on your WordPress site. This article will look at how to find your bounce rate, how it racks up when compared to the rest of your industry, and what you should be doing to improve it.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Google states that “a bounce is a single-page session.” A bounce is when someone visitors your website and then clicks away without doing anything. The visitor may not leave the page immediately, but they don’t click a link to another page on the same site. In analytics applications, bounces are measured as zero-length visits because after the first page loads, there is no further interaction.

Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors that leave a WordPress site after viewing one page. A high bounce rate is not always a bad thing. If a landing page exists to collect email addresses, there may be no expectation that the visitor continues after submitting their contact details. Similarly, single-page websites may not have anywhere else for the visitor to go. While Google has stated that bounce rate isn’t one of the most important ranking signals, it does contribute to a site’s ranking. Moreover, for most lead generation and content sites, a high bounce rate indicates a problem.

Content sites that rely on advertising make more revenue when readers visit more pages. Business sites use content to attract customers, but the aim is to move visitors through a purchasing funnel that involves more than one page. Online stores expect shoppers to browse products across several pages and visit the checkout.

Reducing bounce rate is an important aspect of conversion rate optimization (CRO), and there are many tried-and-tested techniques for encouraging visitors to continue their visit after the first page.

How to Find Your Bounce Rate

Before you come to any conclusions, you’re going to want to find out what your bounce rate is. To do this, you’re going to want to use Google Analytics. If you haven’t set this up already, WPBeginner has a great article on getting started with WordPress and Google Analytics, or you can install a WordPress plugin to manage the process for you.

Once you’ve set up Analytics and collected enough data, you can then take a look at where you’re at. Start by opening your Google Analytics interface, and navigate to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. This will show you which pages have the highest/lowest bounce rates.

A few other places you may want to check include:

  • Acquisition -> Channels -> Bounce Rate (See which channel has the highest bounce)
  • Acquisition -> Source/Medium -> Bounce Rate (See which sources have the highest bounce)
  • Acquisition -> AdWords -> Campaigns -> Bounce Rate (see how your AdWords campaigns are performing)

Bounce Rate by Industry

For most websites and industries, bounce rate hovers between 26% and 70%, with the average being closer to 50%.

According to data collected by CXL, the industry with the highest bounce rate is Food & Drink, closely followed by Science, and then by Reference. The lowest bounce rate was afforded to Real Estate, with Shopping, and then Games narrowly behind.

CXL’s numbers are a good guide for seeing how you compare to the rest of your industry. However, it’s important to remember that each industry has outliers. CXL mention that they removed 1% bounce sites from their sample (which did exist). Moreover, with over a 20% difference between the industries with the highest and lowest bounce rates, it’s important to understand that higher bounce rates are prevalent in certain industries. If you’ve managed lower regardless, well done!

How to Reduce Bounce Rates

Below are ten of our favorite tips to decrease bounce rate on your WordPress website.

1. Don’t Surprise Visitors

When a person clicks on a link to your WordPress site, they are acting on an intention. That intention is informed by information they receive about the content of the page, often from search results or social media posts.

If the content on the page doesn’t align with the intention of the visitor, they will leave. Misleading headlines, titles, and meta descriptions are a common cause of misunderstanding. Make sure that the metadata search engines and social media networks use to create snippets accurately reflects the content of the page.

Also make sure to check any additional site links that appear in search results. These will provide visitors with a great way to find the content they want quickly through search results.

Check your google additional site links2. Optimize For Content First

Before you can start with the nitty-gritty of bounce rate reduction, you’re going to need to take a long, hard look at your WordPress site’s content. What do you think? Have you chosen content that your audience will truly be interested in?

Content first strategies have long been a lynchpin in the digital marketing space for a reason: they work. Before you can hope to keep people on your website, you’re going to need to make sure that you have content that will keep them there.

Optimize Your Content for Long tails

A great way to optimize your content is to target long tail keywords. These are keywords that match user search queries. They tend to have lower traffic than short tail keywords, but they also target specific audiences. By targeting the right long tails, you’re able to attract more relevant visitors and so reduce your site’s bounce rate.

It’s important that your content as a whole, links up to create a content web – or at least is organized in such a way that many ‘webs’ exist. This is in direct reference to the halo effect – wherein a single piece of misdirected content can cause a cognitive bias against your website. According to one study by Edelman, 49% of buyers had a lowered opinion of a business after reading poor or inappropriate content.

3. Optimize Your Site’s Speed

Site speed isn’t only an important ranking factor, it’s also a great way to reduce bounce rate. If your site content is loading slowly, you’re going to have a lot of visitors turn away instantly. Improving site speed may be the fastest way to reduce bounce rate.

There are several ways to improve site speed. We’ve put together a list of simple optimizations for your website that anyone can do. These include compressing site elements and simplifying design. This will have the added advantage of improving user experience.

Another way to improve your site speed is to invest in a high-quality hosting provider. Pay attention to metrics such as full page load time and ignore TTFB. You’re going to want to find a host that is optimized for content to appear from the perspective of the visitor, not a machine.

  Hostdedi solutions offer high-performance and reliability. Hostdedi Cloud.

4. Avoid Pop-Ups

If the first thing you’re showing visitors is a pop-up, what do you think they’re more likely to do? Even if they do click that pop-up, they’re going to be navigating away from your site and you’re going to be losing that traffic anyway.

Yes, pop-ups do offer advantages, but they shouldn’t be everywhere. There have been several studies into what is called “Banner Blindness”. These studies have repeatedly shown that ads are often ignored, with some studies showing numbers as high as 93% of the time.

We highly recommend instead using non-invasive WordPress plugins that help boost conversions and lead collection. You’ll have a lot more success reducing bounce rate by incorporating content that looks like it’s meant to belong, as opposed to “popping up”.

5. Make Sure Your Site Is Accessible

Small fonts can be a person’s worst nightmare. They may mean you can fit more on the page, but that doesn’t mean people are going to read it – especially if they’re having to squint.

Multiple tests have shown that websites that are easier to read and navigate have higher conversion and retention rates. This is especially true when it comes to the power of white space.

A website that does not use white space

White space should be featured throughout your website, and accessibility is a great reason for making sure it’s there. It makes the content on the page easier to understand, improves user experience, and allows you to direct a visitor’s gaze to important content such as CTAs.

6. Design Matters

Have you ever clicked a link in Google and been taken to a site that looks like it was designed in 1998, that has tiny text or otherwise unpleasant typography, or that crams so much superfluous information onto a page that you can’t find what you are looking for? We know we have, and our reaction is to hit the back button and pick a different search result.

Content should be easy to find, easy to read, and easy on the eye.

7. Provide A Clear Route Forward

Visitors don’t waste time hunting for links: they have to be obvious. Each page on a site should contain a mix of links to other pages. These links should be organized in a way the visitor expects.

  • With few exceptions, web pages should provide discoverable and well-organized navigation menus. The page’s logo or main header should link to the home page. The site’s top-level architecture should be represented. For example, if you look at the top of this page, you will see links to our hosting services, our about page, and our help content.
  • Lead generation landing pages should have a clear call to action with a link that takes visitors where you want them to go.
  • Content pages should have a related content widget, so that users can find more content that interests them.
  • Content pages should also include internal links that take users to other parts of the site.

In addition to linking, it is a good idea to include a prominent search tool so that visitors can quickly find specific information.

8. Mobile-Friendly Design

Over half of Google searches are carried out on mobile devices. In the early days of the mobile web, users would put up with the frustrations of pinching and zooming around poorly optimized pages. That is no longer the case. If a site is poorly optimized for mobile screens, users will go elsewhere.

9. Minimize Interruptions

Users have long since lost patience with sites that display content-blocking modal popups as soon as they arrive. They come to your WordPress site for the content, and it’s better to let them see it immediately than to hide it behind a popup. Using popups and interstitials in the moments after a visitor arrives can also harm a site’s SEO on mobile devices.

Conclusion

The key takeaway here should be relevancy. It’s important that your content and experience are relevant to your site’s visitors. WordPress is a great tool for achieving this, by helping you to adopt a content first, targeted strategy.

Because of this, bounce rate reduction isn’t as hard as it may at first seem. It does, however, require a time investment. No one is going to reduce their bounce rate significantly overnight. The quickest way to improve site speed is to migrate to another hosting provider with a high-performance infrastructure. However, this will require a migration.

Overall, to reduce bounce rate on your WordPress site, ensure that users get the content they expect, that they get it immediately, that it’s readable and discoverable, and that there is an obvious route to other pages on the site.

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6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce Business

6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce Business

6 Email Personalization Techniques For Your eCommerce BusinessEmail is a powerful sales tool. It’s at least 40x more effective than social media, and has a much bigger reach than events. Because of this, it’s important that the emails your sending are done right.

Personalization ranks as one of the most critical email campaign factors. It draws the reader in, fosters a relationship, and encourages trust. Using a person’s name is a significant first step, but there are many ways to personalize an email and let a customer know that you care.

If your email campaigns aren’t bringing the results you want, perhaps it’s time you incorporated our six email personalization techniques. These methods will make your emails stand out from the others fighting for attention in a customer’s inbox.

1. Mention the Recipient Directly

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Dale Carnegie.

The most well-used and well-known method of email personalization, and a perfect technique for building an initial connection. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant, but no one ever seems to remember you. It’s always a better experience when the head waiter recognizes you.

When it comes to digital, the data doesn’t lie. Using a customer’s name makes it more likely that they’ll journey further down the sales funnel and trust the research you present them with. Studies have shown that 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers are more likely to click on emails that mentioned them by name.

However, resist the urge to pepper your entire email with their name. Too many mentions and the email will sound contrived. “Barry, this solutions is going to solve all your needs, Barry” – avoid sentences like this, you’ll push Barry away instead of drawing him closer.

2. Segment Your Email Lists

It’s unlikely that all your customers need to receive each and every email you send.

Stand out by only sending relevant emails to relevant parties. If you sell a variety of products, you don’t need to alert gizmo owners to a big sale for add-ons that only fit widgets. You only need to inform widget owners.

You can handle this process easily by segmenting your email list. A well-segmented email list is going to look different depending on your products, company, and customer base. However, at its core, it should seek to reflect a customer benefit analysis – I.e., what emails will most benefit what groups?

It would help if you also segmented your email lists based on where each person is on their buyer’s journey. Those who are just becoming aware that they have a problem that needs solving should receive a different email than those ready to purchase.

Creating a simple and easy to follow chart for customer progression is a great way to visualize how this segmentation process would work. We’ve put together a simple map to chart a buyer’s journey to cart abandonment.

3. Personalize Email Content

Personalization involves more than using a customer’s name.

A good example of a personalized email that uses more than a person’s name is one Open Table sent to restaurant diners that noted what the customers had recently ordered. By recognizing the buying history of a customer, Open Table implied that future visits would be better and more personalized.

Moreover, these emails helped to encourage and foster a community around the table booking service. Customers weren’t just finding a table, they were leaving reviews, building up a history, and contributing to something.

Emails that invite customers to be a part of something help to build trust and loyalty. For brands that rely on repeat purchases, emails that draw attention to community can lead to much higher customer retention rates.

4. Deliver Personalized Information

Don’t just deliver personalized product recommendations, deliver personalized information too. The buyer’s journey isn’t a single purchasing stage, it’s a model for funneling customers towards making a purchase. Before a customer makes it to the purchasing stage, they first weight up their options. This is where great, personalized content comes in.

Line up your website content with your email segments. Send those interested in tennis shoes articles about tennis shoes and those interested in bowler hats, articles on bowler hats. Contributing to a buyer’s consideration stage in this way doesn’t only help to improve retention, but can also lead to your becoming an influencer.

5. Use Location and Time

Everyone has a time of the day for checking their emails. It’s not always a time of day that you would have considered.

Busted Tees, a humorous tee shirt company, optimized their email campaigns by looking at the best times for sending emails and saw their click-through rate rise by 11%.

Email monitoring tools are useful for logging the open times for emails you send. Typically, a distinct pattern will emerge. Once you’ve learned your customer’s favorite email times, you can then send your emails at precisely that time – maybe even a little before.

6. A/B Test Content and Segment Techniques

For Busted Tees, the first step toward personalization was to segment its customers. The company grouped them by the time zone in which they lived.

Previously, all emails were sent at the same time — 10am EST. The new email segments aimed to target each customer at 10am, regardless of what time zone they were in. The company saw a significant email response rate increase.

They then tried different times of the day, to see if there were better times than 10am. A/B tests, where two variables are pitted against each other to determine the more effective way of doing something, were implemented and led to the discovery of several effective sending times. Overall, they managed to increase their response rate by 17%.

Conclusion

Email personalization best practices aren’t difficult to execute, but they do involve more than blasting generic greetings and cut-and-paste messages. It’s important to target your customers with content they care about.

A relevant email is more likely to draw attention, clicks, and ultimately purchases. By combining relevancy with testing, it won’t take long before you’re sending interesting email campaigns that promote your brand and help you to build a community.

Personalization takes a little extra work, but there’s a reason more successful marketers insist on doing it. It works.


Blog Post SummaryLearn more about eCommerce hosting in the Hostdedi Cloud. We’re a PCI compliant provider that can offer unmatched performance, security, and reliability.

Learn More about the Hostdedi Cloud.


 

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How To Add Social Media Logins To A WooCommerce Store

How To Add Social Media Logins To A WooCommerce Store

How To Add Social Media Logins To A WooCommerce Store

Making it easier to log in and check out is the most effective way to reduce cart abandonment. Social media logins allow shoppers to quickly log in using their social media accounts, reducing the amount of work shoppers have to do to buy your products.

Most eCommerce customers don’t use a password manager; they should, but they don’t. It is common for shoppers to forget passwords. WooCommerce provides password reset functionality for just this eventuality, but it’s a hassle and it introduces friction into the buying process.

Anything that makes it harder to shop hurts sales. Anything a WooCommerce store owner can do to make shopping easier increases sales. Social media logins remove the friction associated with authenticating on a WooCommerce store.

How do social media logins work?

Social media logins are a form of single sign-on (SSO). The user signs in on one domain, and that domain is used to authenticate them on other domains that implement single sign-on. You’re most likely to have come across social logins via sites that invite you to “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Google”, both of which run single sign-on services.

Single sign-on works by transferring an authentication token from the domain of the single sign-on provider. When the shopper arrives at a WooCommerce store, they choose which service they would like to use to sign in. They are redirected to the SSO provider’s domain, which sends the token that authenticates them on the WooCommerce store.

The shopper only has to remember one set of login details. Because they are almost certainly logged in on Facebook or Google already, the sign-in process is nearly instantaneous.

Adding social media logins to WooCommerce

There are several single sign-on plugins for WooCommerce, but Nextend Social Login is among the most popular. Once installed, the plugin integrates with a store’s existing log in interface. It supports many of the most common social platforms that provide an SSO service, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and VKontakte. A particularly useful feature is the ability to link existing WooCommerce accounts to social media accounts, so that all shoppers benefit from social media logins.

While social media logins are great for B2B retailers, enterprise and B2B customers may prefer to use SAML single sign-on, which can integrate with a business’s preferred identity provider. WooCommerce can quite easily be hooked up to a SAML SSO platform with the miniOrange SAML 2.0 Single Sign On (SSO) plugin, which provides SSO integration with major identity providers, including Google Apps, ADFS, Salesforce, Azure, IBM, Oracle, and many more.

Social media logins are easy to implement, so why not give shoppers the option to log in with their preferred social platform. Social media logins give shoppers a frustration-free experience and your store benefits from fewer cart abandonments.

 

 

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What Is The WordPress Loop?

What Is The WordPress Loop?

What Is The WordPress LoopWordPress is written in PHP, a programming language frequently used on the web. PHP code generates the HTML pages sent to a browser by querying the database to gather content and combine it with templates. From this, a final output is generated and displayed to users.

This is why WordPress is so powerful. In addition to being a content management system, WordPress is a framework: it provides functions and APIs that developers can use to build a website. In essence, a WordPress theme is a bundle of code that takes advantage of this framework.

Developing Themes with the Loop

One of the most important of the APIs provided by WordPress is The Loop. The Loop controls how content is displayed on a page. It’s used to display post listings, single posts, and pages.

It’s important to understand that a WordPress site doesn’t have only one loop. In fact, every major PHP file in a theme is a template file with a loop. This allows for WordPress developers to create unique page types that exploit their own Loop attributes.

The rest of a theme comprises CSS files and PHP files with functions that are imported into the template files.

An Example of a WordPress Loop

A basic WordPress loop looks like this:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

<h1 class="post-title">
<?php the_title();; ?>
</h1>

<div class="post-content">
<?php the_content(); ?>
</div>

<?php endwhile; else : ?>
<?php endif; ?>


There is quite a lot going on here, so we’ll explain in sections:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

This line begins The Loop with an if statement that checks to see whether there are any posts to loop through. Then it begins a while loop, starting The Loop proper. The code between this line and the end of the while loop will be repeated for each post (which might only be one post, depending on which file this code appears in and the URL being accessed).

Adding Content to The Loop

In order to add content to a Loop, you need to mark it out using HTML with embedded PHP. You can add information like post titles, descriptions, content, dates, authors, and more. You can also include fixed repetitive content if you prefer a certain style.

<h1 class="post-title">
<?php the_title(); ?>
</h1>

This section contains HTML with an embedded PHP function for inserting the post title. In the code, this PHP function is called the_title, which is a template tag provided by WordPress.

Template tags are used to display information from the database. Here, the post title of the current post is inserted. The next few lines of code are similar, but the the_content template tag is used to insert the post’s content.

WordPress provides several hundred template tags, and themes are largely constructed from HTML, the output of template tags, and other PHP functions provided by WordPress or created by the developer. A typical WordPress template file is longer and more complex than this simple example, but works on the same principle.

To see The Loop in use, look inside your WordPress installation’s wp-content/themes directory. The following files are likely to include The Loop:

  • index.php is the base template file that is used as a fallback if a specific template file is not present.
  • home.php is the home page template. By default it lists the blog’s posts.
  • single.php is the template for individual blog posts.

There are several other templates that might be present.

With a basic understanding of The Loop, template files, and template tags, you should be able to make minor changes to your WordPress theme, but before you do, read this post that discusses how to create a child theme.

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How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce Store

How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce Store

How To Reduce Chargebacks On Your eCommerce StoreChargebacks are a safeguard for shoppers, and from that perspective they are good for eCommerce. They reassure shoppers that when they give their credit card details to a merchant or payment processor, their money will be returned if they aren’t satisfied. But chargebacks put strain on eCommerce retailers, who have occasionally been driven out of business by excessive chargebacks.

A chargeback is the forced return of money from the retailer’s account to the shopper. They can be initiated by the retailer to make a refund, but it is shopper-initiated chargebacks that are problematic for retailers. Many chargebacks are fraudulent, but I want to focus on reducing “genuine” chargebacks. Shoppers initiate chargebacks for several reasons:

  • They didn’t receive the goods they ordered.
  • They received the goods but they were defective or otherwise unsatisfactory.
  • Buyers remorse — they changed their mind about the purchase.
  • So-called “friendly fraud”, in which the shopper agreed to make a payment, but has forgotten about it or didn’t understand what they were agreeing to.

The immediate impact of a chargeback is the loss of a sale, and possibly of the goods that have been delivered. But that isn’t the most onerous impact of chargebacks: retailers have to pay a fee for every chargeback they didn’t initiate, so in addition to losing a sale, retailers lose revenue from other sales too.

The credit card industry expects chargeback rates to be less than one percent of total transactions. If an eCommerce business even approaches a one percent chargeback rate, the credit card providers may decline to accept payments, which can be devastating to the business.

It is in the interest of all eCommerce businesses to keep chargeback rates low.

Make it easy for customers to request a refund.

A chargeback should be the option of last resort. Customers are often happy to deal with the retailer directly if the process of requesting a refund is obvious and not too onerous — don’t make people wait on hold for hours, for example.

No one likes to lose a sale, but the shopper has the power here, and it is better to lose the sale and make a refund than to risk a chargeback.

Have a customer-friendly return policy.

Free returns are a financial drain on an eCommerce business too, but that may be a better option than suffering a chargeback. A customer who knows they will have to pay a large shipping fee to return an item may be tempted to use a chargeback instead.

Make sure shoppers can get in touch with you.

Provide a channel by which customers can get in touch and don’t make them wait for support. It is often possible to work out a satisfactory resolution to a dispute.

Describe goods accurately.

Chargebacks often occur because the goods the shopper receives are not what they expected. It is not possible to force customers to read copy and think about what they are buying, but clear product descriptions with images and video help to get the message across.

Make charges with a name customers recognize

One of the most common causes of chargebacks is shoppers failing to recognize the transaction on their credit card bill. This might be because the retailer makes the charge under a different name than the brand the shopper is familiar with, or that the shopper has forgotten making the purchase.

To reduce the likelihood of this type of friendly fraud chargeback, use a familiar brand name for charges or make it clear to the customer that the name will be different on their bill.

Chargebacks are an irritation to eCommerce retailers, and sometimes a disaster, but it is possible to keep chargebacks under control by giving shoppers clear alternatives and a way to get in touch.

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