All posts by Whereoware Staff

Web tip – How to Avoid Product Data Pain

Like OZ behind the curtain, product data files aren’t seen by end users, but power everything: our websites, third-party marketplaces, digital catalogs, fulfillment and operations, and more.

Product data files are integral to smooth internal/external operations, a pleasant end user experience, and sales success. The pitfall is they’re overwhelming and time consuming for marketers to consistently update and maintain across all digital channels.

Marketers rarely maintain just one either. In today’s omni channel world, companies aren’t only selling products through their website, digital catalogs, sales reps, or brick and mortar stores. Now, many brands also sell products on third-party marketplaces, like Amazon, Zulily, Wayfair, Google Shopping, and more.

The third-party marketplaces each require their own product data file. Yet the data in every file must be accurate, up-to-date, and compelling, since this information dictates how a product is displayed and marketed to the public.

Inaccuracies in product data means inaccuracies on webpages, wreaking havoc on site visitors’ brand perception and eroding credibility. In fact, a study from Episerver found that “98% of all shoppers have decided against buying due to errors in a retailer’s site content.”

Luckily, there are tools out there, called Product Information Management (PIM) systems,  that stop this manual product maintenance madness.

Today, we’ll talk through product data challenges, and how a PIM system can revolutionize the product data management process.

How is Product Data Used?

Just about everything a website visitor sees on a product page is pulled directly from a product data file. This Wayfair example below demonstrates a typical product data file, and how it drives the final webpage.

Product Data Wayfair example

Examples of fields that may be in a product data file include:

  • Product category
  • Product name
  • Item number
  • Size specs
  • Images and alternate images
  • Product descriptions
  • Designer
  • Weight and dimensions
  • Shipping options
  • Availability

This data is imported into our website and third-party marketplaces on a regular basis, and automatically changes how information is displayed to end users.

Product Data File Challenges

For too many marketers, product data is housed in multiple formats, with more than one person responsible for managing and updating it.

Perhaps image files are stored on a thumb drive or Dropbox, and product descriptions, titles, SKUs, and more are in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or plain old Excel sheets.

When it’s time to update a product’s images or change its shipping options or availability, for example, it is a hassle to locate and modify the correct product in the correct file in a timely manner. The same challenge arises when the marketer is trying to execute a new promotion and needs to gather a subset of themed items from different files.

Furthermore, marketers need to make sure they keep these data files clean of errors or problematic formatting, or their nightly imports could fail. There are a lot of moving parts, and the stakes are high to keep everything accurate and updated.

Third-Party Marketplace Challenges

Third-party marketplaces further complicate product data file management, because each requires its own data file, formatted in a specific way.

Below, we’ve included a sample product data file for Wayfair and Amazon, and an example of what the end user sees for the product “Kitchen Aid Mixer.”

Product Data on Wayfair and Amazon

If a marketer doesn’t perfectly follow their data spec, the product page will be missing, inaccurate, or incomplete.

Introducing Product Information Management Systems (PIMs)

A Product Information Management (PIM) system centralizes and houses all marketing and technical information for product listings and catalogs in one simple tool.

Marketers can import images, product descriptions, titles, videos, sales sheets, and more into the system for immediate access by team members.

Once in the PIM, products can be searched and filtered, so finding images and assets is no longer a time-consuming struggle. It’s then easily distributed to third-party systems, like websites and marketplaces, supplied to customers, or fed into a digital catalog.

The graphic below is from Whereoware’s PIM system ProductFastLane. We built ProductFastlane with the marketer in mind.

We wanted to make it simple and streamlined to get the data you need to create compelling product pages on your website, run effective campaigns in Google Shopping or Facebook, and get a great ROI out of your third-party market places.

Whereoware's PIM System Product FastLane

We also aimed to enhance your search engine optimization (SEO). Marketers can write and update compelling product descriptions, titles, and other data points in Product FastLane to optimize each product for natural search.

By housing all product data in one secure location, marketers update product details one time and easily distribute it to the website and third-party marketplaces. This saves time and headache, but also ensures product data is consistent and compelling across the web.

Avoid Product Data Pains

Too many marketers live in spreadsheet hell, battling their product data. Yet, this seemingly tedious task is vital to e-commerce success.

Looking for a lifeboat? A PIM system helps busy marketers manage, update, and optimize product data. Spend less time in the data weeds, and more time developing creative merchandising and outreach campaigns to delight customers.

Get more information on Whereoware’s Product FastLane here or contact us for a demo.

Whereoware Wins Episerver’s North American Ascender of the Year award for 2016

Whereoware Wins Episerver Ascender Partner of The Year sign 250Whereoware won Episerver’s Ascender of the Year award for North America, as part of Episerver’s 2016 North America and Asia Pacific (APAC) Partner Awards.

The Episerver Ascender of the Year award is awarded to the partner that has shown the most growth and contribution over the past year, in terms of revenue, lead generation, and loyalty.

“We were proud to announce Whereoware as our North American Ascender of the Year this year at Ascend,” said James Norwood, executive vice president of strategy and CMO at Episerver. “Whereoware is one of our highest performing and fastest growing partners, who go above and beyond to elevate our mutual customers’ digital strategies. Optimizing immersive digital experiences is core to our mission, and Whereoware reflects this both in service and practice. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Whereoware, as we continue to lead the industry together.”

Episerver is a leading provider of a single platform to smartly manage digital content, commerce, and marketing in the cloud. As an Episerver Partner, Whereoware increased net new business 154%, one of the highest growth rates of any North American partner in 2016, and increased revenue over 685% year-over-year. Whereoware also certified nine developers in Episerver over the past year and contributed to competitive lead generation goals.

Examples of project success include a personalized website for client Yamaha WaterCraft Group, that saw a 104% increase in pageviews, 92% increase in sessions and 181% increase in mobile traffic; and a personalized e-commerce website for client Mud Pie, that saw a 120% increase in revenue, 508% increase in mobile revenue and a 56% increase in e-commerce conversion rate.

“Our products ignite a passion and a drive for amazing experiences in our customers, and we wanted our digital, mobile and web experience to exude that same energy,” said Bryan Seti, general manager of Yamaha’s Watercraft Group. “Working with Whereoware allowed us to tap into the latest technology and development platforms, along with a world class design and UX team, to bring our products to life in a way that replicates the fun and excitement our customers have on the water.”

Episerver presented Whereoware the award during its annual Partner Day at Ascend 2017, held from February 26 to March 1 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Episerver also recognized partners in several other categories, including Rightpoint, named North America’s Premium Partner of the Year; Siteworx, named North America’s Solution Partner of the Year; Fusion Digital, named APAC Premium Partner of the Year; and Studio 60, named APAC Ascender of the Year.

About Episerver
Episerver connects digital commerce and digital marketing to help organizations create unique digital experiences for their customers, with measurable business results. The Episerver Digital Experience Cloud™ combines content, commerce, multi-channel marketing, and predictive analytics in a single platform to work full-circle for businesses online – from intelligent real-time personalization and lead-generation through to conversion and repeat business – with unprecedented ease-of-use. Sitting at the center of the digital experience ecosystem, Episerver empowers digital leaders to embrace disruptive, transformational strategies to deliver standout experiences for their customers – everywhere they engage. Founded in 1994, Episerver has offices in Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UAE, UK and the USA. For more information, visit www.episerver.com.

How to build a Facebook Ad

If you’re marketing on Facebook, you likely hang out in one of two camps. You run a successful Facebook Business Page with an engaged, excited audience, or, like too many businesses, your Facebook Business Page exists, but interaction is few and far between.

Facebook Advertising offers many ways to tap into those 1.23 billion people logging into Facebook each day and increase engagement on your business page or drive traffic and sales on your website.

Today, we’ll walk through building a simple Facebook Ad from your Business Manager Ad Account.

Continue reading How to build a Facebook Ad

SEO Tip – 6 Steps to Local Search Success

To simplify local search engine optimization (SEO), think through every couple’s favorite argument: what should we order for dinner?

Though the battle may be long, ultimately, a cuisine is picked. What’s your next move?
Likely, you hop on your phone, and search: “Italian food near me,” “Thai nearby,” or “Greek restaurant open.”

Local Google Search Italian Food Near Me

In SEO land, that’s called “searching with local intent.” When you’re quickly searching to find dinner before your spouse pitches a fit, you don’t want Google to return a restaurant three states away. You want the restaurant closest to you, preferably one with good reviews.

Google understands that searches with local intent (referencing specific geographic areas or using keywords like “near me,” “nearby,” “open,” “closest,” etc.) value information differently than a researcher seeking historical documentation.

Continue reading SEO Tip – 6 Steps to Local Search Success

Web tip – 5 ways to increase retailer registrations on your website



It’s hard enough to convert traffic on your e-commerce website, but many of our B2B wholesale clients face an additional hurdle: they require customers (retailers) to register with them to shop their website.

A non-registered website visitor can view products, though sometimes even those are hidden, but won’t see product information or certain product details. The registration process allows wholesale companies to vet retailers, without displaying wholesale prices to consumers.

Once the retailer registers and is approved, they receive a login and access to the full website – prices, product details, and frequently, highly customized retailer portals.

The plot thickens! When that same B2B wholesale company unveils a new website, oftentimes their retailers must re-register to gain access to the site. This is a common best practice to protect retailer privacy data. These wholesalers must compel retailers to register not once, but twice!

Having built hundreds of wholesale websites, we know a thing or two about motivating retailers to register. Today, we’ll cover five simple, effective ways to increase registrations on your website.

Can’t miss Invite and Benefits

This is a no-brainer, but make sure you tell retailers to register. The invitation or reminder to register must be easy to find, so place the messaging or call-to-action in a can’t miss location on your site or email.

Continue reading Web tip – 5 ways to increase retailer registrations on your website

Behind the Glasses – Emilyann

Each month, we’ll interview one of our fab employees here at Whereoware. For November, we get to know Emilyann Key, our Digital Marketing Associate, a little better.

WHO:

What’s your name? Emilyann Key

Job title: Digital Marketing Associate

Background

Favorite food: Sweet potatoes! Everything Bubba Gump can do to shrimp, I can do (read: attempt) with sweet potatoes.

Hidden talents: I do some pretty solid impressions (usually of SNL characters) and fun accents. The New York Times once posited, “She sounds a lot like what’s-her-face.”

If there were a movie of my life, I’d be played by: Tina Fey, but I’d likely be asked to leave the set for asking her too many questions during filming (ironic considering she’s playing me).

My earliest memory: A Norman Rockwell-like still of my view from the ground, when I fell while roller-skating around the house in a Disney princess dress.

Nerd Quiz

Facebook or Twitter: Twitter

iOS or Android: iOS

‘Nerd’ or ‘Geek’: Option C: “Dork”

Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars – I can hold my own if a Wookie call is needed.

What’s the best part about working at Whereoware?

There’s something insanely cool about working with people who are genuinely interesting, brilliant, and passionate. We can work crazy hard together, learn from each other, and laugh the whole time. This energy fuels our creativity and commitment to quality work.

The culture at Whereoware thrives on challenge. We’re all about seizing opportunity, taking initiative, and innovating, but unlike other companies I’ve seen, it isn’t overtly competitive. There’s an authentic investment in each employee’s professional development and helping individuals achieve their goals.  Whereoware is a great example of how investing in employee development not only enhances internal happiness, but service quality and customer satisfaction. Whereoware both walks the walk and talks the talk.

Web tip – 4 reasons e-commerce marketers need a PIM system

whereowares-pim-system-product-fastlane-increase-traffic-and-conversionsToday’s e-commerce marketers are rockstars. They’re the Swiss Army Knives of sales. The MacGyver’s of marketing. They’re juggling everything – websites, emails, digital catalogs, third-party marketplaces, paid ads, social media, and more, and making it all look effortless.

Under the hood, it’s everything but effortless. Not only are marketers executing campaigns, they’re also working behind the scenes, managing endless data feeds, APIs, automation tools, and CRM systems to power all their digital initiatives.

Clean and reliable data is the foundation of keeping all these balls in the air. Yet, untangling data on a day-to-day basis is one of the trickiest aspects of managing campaigns.

That’s where a Product Information Management (PIM) system helps. Today, we’ll cover PIM system basics and benefits, and four reasons why busy marketers should add a PIM system to their must-have list.

What is a PIM system?

A PIM system is a lifeline to pull you out of spreadsheet hell. You know what I’m talking about – you’ve got all of your product data in an Excel spreadsheet and product images on a USB drive or Dropbox. You’re checking databases for product inventory, hoping your recurring data feeds don’t fail, or importing product data manually.

There are so many moving parts, it’s enough to give the most competent marketer anxiety.

A PIM System replaces all of these moving parts. It places all your product data and assets in one, centralized system. (An example of Whereoware’s PIM system, Product FastLane, is pictured below.) When you’re managing hundreds or thousands of products, the ability to access, search, filter, and update data in one location and then share it across all your digital channels saves time and headaches.

whereowares-pim-system-product-fastlane

Reduce Data Management Costs

whereowares-pim-system-product-fastlane-reduce-data-management-costsToo often, data is stored in disparate locations and is outdated, or incomplete. When this happens, it takes many man hours to track and check the data – time that is better spent brainstorming or executing the next marketing campaign.

When you have multiple team members handling and relying on the same data, things become hairy fast.

A simple and effective PIM system let’s everyone on your team manage and update standardized data in one place. It streamlines collaboration and reduces organizational costs due to lost productivity.

Improve Data Quality and Reduce Risk Across Marketplaces

Similarly, by maintaining a “master” data standard in your PIM system, you know that everywhere you share your products – whether it’s your website, a digital catalog, or a third-party marketplace – product details are consistent and accurate.

When information changes, you update the system one time, instead of manually updating information on every channel, reducing redundancy and rework.

Many PIM systems, like Whereoware’s PIM system Product FastLane, alert you of incomplete data fields, missing links or images, or other data errors, so you fix them right away. This “second checker” will significantly reduce your anxiety, while ensuring your data is accurate on every channel.

product-fastlane-identifies-errors

Share Consistent Data Across Marketplaces

A brand’s e-commerce website isn’t the only place retailers or consumers purchase products anymore.

whereowares-pim-system-product-fastlane-share-products-with-marketplacesMany brands also sell on third-party marketplaces, like Amazon, Wayfair, Zulily, and more. These marketplaces expose a broader audience to a brand’s products, but each one typically requires a different product dataset, formatted a different way.

These third-party data specs can be built into your PIM system, so all you do is map your data fields to their spec with a few clicks. Since it pulls from one data source, you always have consistent, accurate data across marketplaces.

Increase Traffic and Conversions

Your product descriptions and imagery must grab attention and compel action. A PIM system lays everything out for you, from your product details to important search engine optimization (SEO) fields, like meta descriptions, image titles, and more.

If your SEO data is complete, your site’s placement in SERPs improves, and more searchers find your products.

Free yourself of data headaches: get a PIM system

As more marketers develop data-driven marketing strategies, they need tools and processes to make sure the data they rely on is complete, accurate, and quickly accessible. They can’t spend all day creating, checking, and importing data files.

Clean data is one of the most important weapons in a marketer’s arsenal. Take control of your marketing data with a user-friendly Product Information Management (PIM) system.

Like what you hear? Check out Whereoware’s new PIM system – Product FastLane.

Released: Yamaha WaterCraft Group Unveils New Websites

Yamaha WaterCraft Group launched two newly redesigned websites: YamahaBoats.com and YamahaWaveRunners.com. Built by Whereoware, both sites feature a new look and feel, updated branding, enhanced user experience (UX), high resolution product imagery, and streaming video.

yamaha-watercraft-group-responsive-homepages

Since site launch, Yamaha WaveRunners saw an 84% increase in site traffic and a 157% increase in mobile traffic, and Yamaha Boats saw an 92% increase in site traffic and a 181% increase in mobile traffic. (See more screenshots of Yamaha WaveRunners and Yamaha Boats.)

The new websites are modern and clean, letting environmental and lifestyle imagery show off product details. The navigation is updated with a visual dropdown menu to help consumers compare different WaveRunners and Boats at-a-glance by model and length.

With a focus on the end consumer, Yamaha and Whereoware developed an interactive quiz on both homepages to help consumers decide on the best WaveRunner or Boat for their interests, budget, and lifestyle. They further this focus by personalizing messaging, images, and promotions throughout the website, based on user behavior.

For example, if a website visitor fits the “21-foot boat persona,” the homepage slider features a streaming video and environmental images of a 21-foot boat. As they scroll down the page, product images and text change to be more relevant to a consumer shopping for a 21-foot boat. This persona-based personalization continues throughout internal site pages.

Both sites are also personalized to display the visitor’s nearest Yamaha dealer location at the top of the page to make it easy for consumers to visit their local dealership and test drive a model.

Serving the right content to the right person (instead of showing the same static webpages to everyone all the time) helps prospective customers find the Yamaha products, videos, top technologies, and dealer locations they need to make an informed shopping decision.

In their words:

“Our products ignite a passion and a drive for amazing experiences in our customers, and we wanted our digital, mobile and web experience to exude that same energy,” said Bryan Seti, general manager of Yamaha’s Watercraft Group. “Working with Whereoware allowed us to tap into the latest technology and development platforms, along with a world class design and UX team, to bring our products to life in way that replicates the fun and excitement our customers have on the water.”

About Yamaha WaterCraft Group

Yamaha WaterCraft Group, a division of Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of Yamaha WaveRunners and Boats in the United States. For more information, visit www.YamahaWaveRunners.com and www.YamahaBoats.com.

Email tip – Email Deliverability 101

headshot-dancaro-smallWelcome Dan Caro, Whereoware’s  Senior Director of Marketing Operations. Dan specializes in behavior-based marketing automation strategy, e-commerce marketing, and conversion optimization. Send him a Tweet at @dcaro12Today, Dan’s going to simplify email deliverability for us.

In a nutshell, email deliverability is defined as “getting your email into recipients’ inboxes.”

Email Deliverability 101So what happens if you ignore “deliverability” altogether and just send emails?

Well, your email messages will likely land in junk mail or in a spam folder. It can get worse, depending on your email service provider (ESP).

If you have a poor email deliverability rating and send to Gmail, for example, it could take up to a day or more for your message to deliver.

We put a ton of effort into designing and coding compelling emails. What’s the point if no one ever sees them?

Today, we’ll walk through simple tips to improve email deliverability, so your emails land in recipients’ inbox in a timely manner.

1. Get Started: Identify How to Access Your DNS Settings

Think of Domain Name System (DNS) settings as the backend of your website’s domain name. This is where you change where your website points to and its mailing settings.

DNS settings matter because your domain needs authentication that it’s a safe sender, especially if you send out of an ESP. If you send emails from your own internal servers, you should be fine, but if you are sending from the ESP’s servers, you’ll need to authenticate them by updating your DNS settings.

2. Next, create a subdomain

First, start by creating a subdomain for email. This subdomain is your from address.

For example, Whereoware’s email address convention ends with @whereoware.com. Examples of Whereoware subdomains could be e.whereoware.com or email.whereoware.com. Just take a look in your inbox. You’ll notice lots of brands do this.

Create a subdomain

Creating a subdomain is a precaution, so you can change your organization’s DNS settings (on your main domain like @whereoware.com) without risking a nuclear meltdown. Just kidding, but if anything goes wrong when you’re updating your DNS settings, it can impact your ability to send and receive emails across your entire company.

3. I have a subdomain, what’s next?

Next, if you’re using an ESP, like Silverpop or Mailchimp, you’ll need them to provide you TXT records for DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF ). I know you are all “Wait, was that English?” Let us explain!

A DNS TXT record is text you add to your DNS settings. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an authentication system for email to verify domain and sender integrity. Sender Policy Framework is an email validation system to avoid email spoofing and ensure the email is indeed coming from a verified domain.

Both DKIM and SPF are commonly accepted standards used by email receivers and ESPs to ensure the sender address is authentic and not a forgery. (Basically, when you send an email, these standards check that you are who you say you are.) You add these snippets of code to your DNS setting as TXT records. They look like this:

SPF:
e.whereoware.com. TXT “v=spf1 ip4:XXX.XX.XX.XX -all”

DKIM:

XXXXXXXX._domainkey.e.whereoware.com. IN TXT “k=rsa; p=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”

Below, you’ll see a behind the scenes graphic of our DNS settings, where you add the TXT/SPF record. (This is what you’ll see when you login to your domain’s (or subdomain’s) DNS records and where you make updates to your DNS TXT records.

Updating your DNS TXT records.

4. Where do I get these TXT records?

You’ll request the TXT records from your ESP.

5. I’ve added the TXT records. What now?

Your ESP needs to validate them by checking that you’re passing SPF and DKIM validation tests.

6. Tests passed. Now what? IP Warmup

You did it – now, you can send emails without worrying they’ll end up in the junk mail or spam folder.

Not so fast! If you are sending with a new ESP or server, you’ll need an Internet Protocol (IP) address warmup. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to your email sending server.

An IP warmup is a process of throttling your emails to send to a small amount of recipients and gradually to larger amounts, so you don’t alarm Internet Service Providers (ISPs). (Internet Service Providers provide services for companies and individuals to access and use the internet. Some popular ISPs include Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner.)

By “warming them up,” you establish a good sender reputation for your IP address. Start by sending at a low email volume – like 20 emails per hour – and build from there.

IP warmup is not an exact science, so it’s best to consult your ESP. They’ll know their email servers best and can instruct your best course of action. (If they don’t bring up IP warmup, you should ask about it.)

Is that it?

We’ve covered email deliverability basics, but there’s A LOT more to get into. Deliverability is half science, half art. If you’re sending millions or billions of emails, it can get complicated.

We hope these simple steps will get you started, so your emails arrive in the inbox. Reach out to us if you need help or have any questions!