Monday, August 27, 2007

Measure the performance of your eCommerce provider

During the globalization process, almost any software vendor outsourced the ordering process for his software products; thus, the electronic software distribution (or ESD) become a very tough niche for all companies which are providing this kind of services.

Outsourcing the entire ordering process will cut the operational costs bringing specific services such as multi-language, multi-currency, 24x7 support, etc. I will not dwell on outsourcing benefits here but on how to measure the performance of your e-commerce partner. In order words, what is the performance ratio of your ordering system and how to measure it?

A very basic method is to compare the number of visitor you have with the number of completed orders but this is a very primitive method.

A most suitable method is to create a script which will handle any redirect from your website (e.g.: At the end of the week the consolidated reports will show the number of redirected users vs number of completed orders.

Using such measuring system, you can see at any time how your ordering system performance is affected by the prices, website design or your e-commerce platform, helping you to take the best decisions for your business.

  • a "user" means an unique session redirected to the e-commerce provider
  • in case that you are using more than one e-commerce provider, for the same session the shopper must be redirected to the same ordering system

Enjoy :)

P.S. Having more that one e-commerce provider can confuse your customers but we will talk about this in further discussions.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Order interface - layout control by using CSS

Two weeks ago, we released a new order interface with a fresh HTML code supporting CSS for each element. Thus, every Avangate vendor can control the look and feel of his order interface.

Some examples:
How to use the new features?
Simply download the default CSS stylesheet, modify it and upload it into your Avangate Control Panel account :)

Related links

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Czech language for Avangate order interface

Avangate released the Czech language for order interface. Customers from Czech Republic are automatically detected and the interface will display the Czech language and Czech koruna as prices currency.

The feedback from shoppers has been very positive and the sales are going up.

My recommendation for all Avangate vendors is to update their templates for the order interface to support the Czech language; also, all multi-language descriptions must be extended to support the Czech language:
  • product descriptions;
  • electronic delivery instructions;
  • interface templates;
  • order additional fields;
  • etc.

The final goal is to increase the orders from Czech Republic, of course :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Google: Underscores are now word separators

According to Matt Cutts who spoke Saturday at WordCamp 2007, Google is treating (or will treat very soon) the underscore used in URLs as word separator. This is a great news and a new challenge for SEO professionals. Blog softwares such us TypePad or Movable Type are also affected because, by default, the underscores are used instead of hyphens.

Other presentation highlights:
  • Google treats URLs with a query string the same as static URLs.
  • The number of slashes in URL does not affect Google rankings.
  • The file extension from URL won't affect the rankings
And a final tip: if you want to have your blog included in Google News, the first condition is to be a multiple user blog ;)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick guide: Instant Payment Notification

Avangate has a very "sexy" feature called IPN (Instant Payment Notification). For every approved order, the software vendor can receive to a specific URL an automated confirmation containing all order information (order details, products sold, customer data, etc).

What can you do by using IPN:
  • add order information to internal database
  • add license to an internal application
  • create specific tasks (custom emails, specific alerts, etc)
  • etc (read: "use your imagination")
Every time when a colleague of mine or a software vendor asks me if it's possible to implement a specific action when a order occurs, I am getting a smiling face and I am giving the same answer: "Of course, you can do everything you want by powering the IPN feature" :)

P.S. I am writing this post to send a quick link to all related feature questions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Avangate promotes e-commerce services in USA

Avangate attended Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The overall feeling is that the conference is a "place to be" for any software business company. The audience is from Microsoft integrators/developers area and the first objective for everyone is to make a good business.

Avangate made a star from the myAvangate platform (Reseller Management System) by promoting the most powerful sales concept these days: combining the online sales channel with classical distribution channels.

SIC 2007
Avangate had also a good presence at SIC 2007 (also by sponsoring the conference). The conference is also a "place to be" for every software business or service provider for this area.

In my opinion the conference is still in the beginning stage. The majority of the people are from the US but the international presence seems to grow from year to year.

The conference is a great opportunity to build new partnerships, to discover new business concepts and to promote your products or services of course.

Adriana had a very good presentation about "Web metrics". The audience learned how to "read" the business behind the numbers showed by any website tracking system, how to calculate and interpret the bounce rates and conversion rates, etc.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Affiliates - a questionable business

The affiliate concept seems to be a revolutionary way to expand your business but if we are looking at what is happening in the real world we will see that the market is full of useless affiliates.

Everyday we are receiving spam from affiliates that are waiting the sales to happen or we are landing on websites made by some affiliate that doesn't care if the products he is promoting will be sold or not. Why did they do that? Because it is free! It cost them nothing to get the affiliate statute. At this point starts your role to sort out who you are doing business with.

Looking to the software industry I can say that these affiliates are more than useless; they spoil the "free to try" concept by adding thousands of download portals that are not helping the users at all but confusing them.

Of course, we have hundreds and hundreds of affiliates that are doing a great job. They are 100% involved in promoting the products and supporting the potential customers; the sales are going very well and everybody is happy! Our duty is to improve the relationships with these real affiliates and to ignore the rest of them.

In my previous article about the affiliates business I spoke about how to improve your sales through the affiliates channel.

In conclusion, the affiliates business can be a very good sales channel if we are permanently paying attention to the business relationships and we are not happy just to have thousands of affiliates (but doing nothing for real for our business).

When did you contact the last time your affiliates?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Vanessa Fox is leaving Google

Vanessa Fox has decided to leave Google. She made a very good job for Google's Webmaster Central. During last years, she was involved to launch and improve the webmaster console and bring search engines together on the Sitemaps standard.

As a result of Vanessa’s influence, in the last 2 years Google has improved the webmasters communication channels.

I wish you all the best Vanessa!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Referrers Tracking System

Avangate released the Referrer Tracking System: any developer can add a small JavaScript code into his website and he will start to track all referred customers. All referred sales will be reported by Avangate; thus, the referrer efficiency can be calculated in seconds.

Bellow is the visual representation of the system.

Terry Semel is out as Yahoo! CEO

Yahoo! announced that Terry Semel would no longer be the company’s chief executive officer. It seems that the "wind of change" started blowing for the second seach company in the world.

A short comment can be found on Matt Cutts' blog and a details article on CNN Money.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Avangate released today the Dutch language

We are proud to announce that the Dutch language is available for all Avangate customers. More details are available in the Avangate Control Panel.

Maybe you wonder why Avangate invests in platform localization? From our internal reports we noticed that the customer confidence can boost the finished sales from a specific region with up to 34%. Of course, there is always a balance between localization and profitability...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Russia - my first visit

Right now I am in Russia visiting some of our key partners and prospects of course :)

The first impression is that everything here needs to be organized; a lot of birocracy and there are no procedures implemented in any activity. Everybody is doing things as they think they should do them :)

Another thing that I've noticed is that there are huge differences between Moscow and other cities; people from here are saying that Moscow is another country.

From the business point of view, there is a huge potential here; everybody is listening very carefully and they are ready to implement new procedures (but very efficient and profitably ones).

The people are very warm and we are feeling wonderful here. In a couple of hours we will going to visit Moscow, the center of the town with our partners from DrWeb.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Google Related Searches

Google released these days a new feature: related searches. In the bottom of the results page, you can see a lot of keywords related to your search:

I am sure that these are very hot information for any marketing specialist (at least for SEO guys...); of course, you have to know how to collect the information and, most important, how to use it ;)

Japanese Tetris

I cannot resist to share this with you:

Microsoft Project: Task type as Fixed Duration

I am sure that any project manager has faced a lot of troubles when he tried to change the initial schedule of a task to a new one. Microsoft Project is designed to help the project manager by changing the start date or the end date after some calculations are made (when a new person is involved in the task, etc).

If you want to have 100% control of the start/end date of a task, you have to set the task type as "Fixed Duration" and you have to uncheck the "Effort driven" property. Thus, only you will be able to set the start date (or the end date) of the task.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Checklist for your website credibility improvement

Site Reference published today (the first article on the home page) an article wrote by our colleague Bogdan: How to Improve Website Credibility

The article is about a very hot topic these days: credibility on the Internet. The credibility (or reputation) is the main idea of the "web 2.0" and it is also the "must have" asset for every business. The time when the commerce was driven by the product has gone away; now, the first test that a business must pass is the confidence of the customer. Of course, the website must also follow a set of rules to obtain the credibility and the article is talking about these rules.

The article is also published on Avangate website (a section which I recommend it to every person involved in the "electronic software distribution" business).

Congratulations and keep up the good work Bogdan!

Monday, June 11, 2007

How big is your "Friends" group?

In this weekend, I noticed that my "Friends" group from my mobile phone has only a few numbers; on the other hand, the "Business" group is constantly growing every day. I don't feel comfortable to live in a world where the focus is 100% on the business contacts instead of your old friends…

For some people, to have a huge number of contacts in the "Business" group can be a good reason to smile in the morning but for me is afflicting when I see the difference between these groups.

I wonder if it's normal to spend all your time for business tasks instead of splitting the time between business, friends and family…In other words, how many years do you think that your soul will survive without any consistent "food"?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Dont' throw away your customers

Every day I am visiting a lot of websites and mostly the ordering pages; I can say that there are some webmasters that are totally ignore the customers they are serving.

For example, today I saw an ordering form which have the default quantity as zero ! Why would someone put the default quantity as zero? Believe me that I cannot answer to that question. Or maybe they really want to spend some money for a professional user testing service.

For all these king of webmasters, I have an advise: build the website and keep in mind that the website may be accessed by your grandmother (in this way, the usability is guaranteed)!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Vodafone Live cannot work with mCommerce applications

Vodafone UK has released a great technology for the most of their users which reformats web pages to fit onto a mobile phone screen. Basically when a user is requesting an website via Vodafone Live, the request is intercepted byVodafone's server which downloads the content and converts it to suit customer phone model before sending it on.

Why am I saying for the most of their users? Because there are already these kind of optimizations provided by many mCommerce platforms (or some websites) and when when you have the optimization of the optimization then everything stops working.

The conclusion is that a good system architect can save you from a lot of troubles (and can bring you the satisfaction of your own customers).

Google PageRank explained

Smashing Magazine published yesterday a very useful article about Google PageRank: how does it work and how can be affected.

I recommend the reading because is a straight study from a lot of sources and studies and it will help you to understand the mechanism beside Google search results.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Affiliates business - don't miss it

Three months ago I had a small conversation with one of our partners who said that the affiliates are not a good business because the conversion rates are zero.

I made a bet and we made together a plan to increase the conversion rate by using Affiliates Network. In case that you plan to build similar marketing actions, here you are some tips from our experience.

Step 1
Review all affiliates available in the Avangate network and build a list of websites that are targeting the same audience as you are.

Step 2
Build a standard commission list for the products you want to promote through affiliates.

Step 3
Contact all affiliates from your target list (by using the newsletter feature from Avangate Control Panel) and propose them special deals such as:

* custom builds
* increase the commission if you get promoted through specific tools (newsletter, featured download, software review, etc)

Don't forget that Avangate tracking system is also valid after a specific campaign will be closed; thus, you will get sales even after 4 months :)

An efficient campaign through Avangate affiliates can bring you incredible benefits:
* increase the downloads with over 120%
* increase the sales (the conversion rate depends on your activation procedures)

Avangate is giving you the necessary tools to watch every click and conversion rate from your affiliates.

Are you ready to start the sales engines?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Affiliates feeds generator

Today we released a very "sexy" feature for all Avangate Affiliates: Feeds generator.

The principle is very simple: the affiliates can build their own XML feeds containing the products from their software partners. The feeds will be stored on Avangate servers and will be regenerated at every 24 hours.

Any affiliate can have up to 3 feeds; of course, depending on sales volumes, we can increase this number for a specific affiliate :)

Google is cleaning up its AdSense publishers database

Google has notified a significant number of its AdSense publishers that their accounts will be closed starting June 1.

This move should have be made 1 year ago when the Internet has been infected with lots of small websites made only to make money from Google. I saw a lot of ads in Google made for these king of websites; ridiculous! Web site publishers do it by calculating the difference between what they pay Google to drive traffic to their site and the amount they get for running Google ads.

Anyway, I am glad that the action have came up and I hope that the advertise industry will be more efficient.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Avangate - new promotion report

Today we released a new graphical report for all Avangate vendors: Promotions report. The report is analyzing the sales within a selected period and calculates the percent of the discount sales made by using cross selling tool and coupons.

After that the report can go deeper to show what products are sold through cross selling and what products are sold through coupon discounts.

The impact for the online sales strategies must be huge (or not?) when you see this report :)

Google launched its new online security blog

Google launched its new online security blog fueling in this way the rumors that the company will offer security services.

In my opinion, the security layer it's a must for Google because they need to filter the web results from spam and malicious pages. Otherwise, the complaints about search results will never end...

About how Google handles malware you can read on Matt's blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Don't lose your possible customers

The order page can be built in many ways but it should have some specific elements: product name, order options, prices and the action element. I saw a lot of ordering pages and I will not talk at this moment about how to make an order page but how to use the action element.

The action element can be a link or a button or both. Today a saw an ordering page from a respectable company with all classical e-commerce elements implemented but with a very strange action element: a circle button before the product name:

Where is the action element here? Come on…you have a possible customer, you want to get the order and the only element from the whole page is that grey button? What about this little change:

I bet on this change and I am sure that the sales volume will increase with a minimum of 15 percent. What do you think?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cross Selling benefits

The last Avangate newsletter have a very nice cross-selling tip: Cross Selling benefits

"Implementing Cross Selling schemas into your selling mechanism can have a major impact on maximizing your profits with a minimum effort!

The Cross Selling feature works as a suggestion box. Each time a customer adds a product into the shopping cart, the system displays a list of up to five complementary products that can be also added into the shopping cart without spending additional time on searching for these products.

For example, if the customer adds an Antivirus software solution into the shopping cart, the system can be configured, via Cross Selling feature, to automatically suggest complementary products such as extended Virus Definition Databases, Firewall solutions or Spyware Protection Software.

This is a great way to improve both customers' shopping experience and profits without using an aggressive selling method or appear intrusive to customers.

The Cross Selling feature is accessible from the "Marketing Tools" tab within the Avangate Control Panel. Please read the explanation before starting configuring the Cross Selling experience!"

I think that Cross selling is a great tools and it must be used by all software vendors for their ordering process. Of course, there are a set of rules that must be applied: be relevant, be natural (don't add a lot of buy options because you will risk to lose the customer focus) and set fair discounts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thomson Corp. has agreed to buy Reuters

Another aquisition....a lot of money....($17.2 billion). I wonder what are the feelings of the Reuter's owners...

The original article from Financial Post

Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't make things too complicated

I just installed Kaspersky Internet Security and I found that it is very complicated to be set up. I faced strange screens saying that some dll is trying to load another dll. More easier for me was to say that one program is trying to load one dll or web address; much easier to understand.

Anyway, I do my best to set this piece of software and it seems to do a great job.

Renewals management

In the software industry the most important asset is the customer. If you know your customers (yes, many software companies doesn't know their customers) and you serve them to make them happy, then you can say that you have a successfully company.

Avangate is launching the "License management" module which is a big plus for software vendors who will have a big number of returning customers (and a good management console for sold licenses of course).

I wrote this post to underline the concept of a renewal system versus a recuring payment system (which is a good system for services not for software products). Many vendors will threat the renewal system as a recuring payment service but thet are wrong, totally wrong.

I hope that this first message will be a good start for this blog :)