Blog title with desk + computer

 

As digital continues to rise as a powerhouse commerce channel, the need for optimized and effective online functionality and user experiences becomes more critical. Testing is the means by which you will identify flaws, frustrations, and failures (all of which are not necessarily in plain sight).

I’ve outlined some key factors to help build an effective testing system for your website, applications, software, infrastructure, database, and technology.

Create a Test Plan
  • Generate Use Cases and Test Scenarios
  • Establish a Stable Test Environment
  • Assemble Capable and Proficient Testers
  • Prepare a Schedule for Testing
  • Design Scoring for each Test Case
  • Verify a Clear Understanding on Reporting of Test Results
  • Create a Test Results Report
  • Define the Administration for Post-Test Actions and Retesting
  • Set Up a Retesting Resolution Report
Prepare Documentation
  • QA Processes
  • Testing Protocols
  • Test Flows
  • Pass / Fail Outcomes
  • Prioritized Action Plan
Testing Requirements
  • Modules and Functions
  • Triggers
  • Inputs / Outputs
  • Database Transactions
  • Files & Reports
  • Documented Flows and Use Cases
  • Utilities & Scripts
  • Automated Functions
  • Invalid Data Alert and Error Messages
  • Security, Access Controls
Application Testing
  • Mobile Responsive: Simulate All Screen Sizes and Device-Browser Combinations
  • User Interface including GUI Validation and User Acceptance
  • Page Rendering | Element Alignments | Content Placement
  • On-Site Search | Navigation | Keyword Analysis
  • On-Page Content | Internal & External Links | International Conversion, if applicable
  • Shopping Cart: End-to-End including Account Set Up, Tax, and Shipping
  • SEO: Tags, Schema, URLs, Structured Data, HTTPS, Crawl & Indexing
  • Favicon | Breadcrumbs | Information Architecture | Visual Cues
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript | Style Sheets| Robots.txt | Sitemap | XML Sitemap
  • Pop Ups | User Messages | Error Notices | Auto-Generated Emails
  • Add-Ons | Plug-Ins | 3rd Party Software | Integrated Applications
  • Media: Optimization, Minification, Formatting, Placement, Accessibility
  • Data: Accuracy, Integrity, Structure, Feeds, Real Time Delivery
  • Call to Actions | Buttons | Rick Text Links | Interactive Elements + Icons
  • Caching | Minimize HTTP Requests | Bottom of Page Scripts | Lazy Loading
  • Inspect the CSS Grid, Container Queries and DOM Properties
  • Forms: Minimum Fields | Auto Fill | Auto Correct | Progressive Format
  • Technical: Functional | Database | Data Feeds | Load Balance | Recovery
  • Inputs + Outputs | APIs | Interface Between Servers | Query Response Time
  • Inspect Network Activity and Server Access Logs
  • Performance | Compatibility | Security | ADA Accessibility Compliance
  • Core Web Vitals | Analyze Runtime Performance
  • Timeline Event Properties: Loading, Scripting, Rendering, Painting
  • Platform: Reliability, Availability, Stability, Scalability, Maintainability
  • Site Administration: Manual for Capabilities, Functions, and Reports

Continue reading “Quality Assurance (QA) Methods & Standards for Digital, Data, and Infrastructure”

digital growth graphs

 

In the digital space, the drivers for online revenue success are the following:

Axiom #1
– Be flexible. The only constant is change.
– Perpetually pursue market positioning.
– Adapt to shifting customer needs, intent, and sentiments.
– Hone and master your brand story. And creatively tell it.
– Curate highly targeted campaigns, messaging, and experiences.

Axiom #2
These are the resolute Essentials
– Clearly defined, measurable goals.
– Well planned, data-informed strategies.
– Marketing automation for efficiency and effectiveness.

These are the fluid Essentials
– Agile tactics that will evolve and change based on performance.
– A testing regimen that is iterative and quantifiable.
– A penetrative approach to capture attention, persuade, and influence.

Axiom #3
– Utilize data to understand customer behaviors, gain insights, and forecast buying trajectories.
– Be solutions-driven with customers and solve problems in ways that trigger actions.
– Troubleshoot lagging sales performance and explore untapped sales terrain.
– Diligently pilot highly organized project workflows and meticulous tracking.

Final Thoughts
– Be careful to not fall back to familiarity, norms, and comfort.
– Challenge, ask questions, rethink, and be ready to pivot.
– Empower people and architect a culture that has a collective mission, curiosity, care, and customer-centricity.
– Transformation requires innovative thinking, a learning mindset, gut-level motivation, and endless inspiration.
– Digital savvy means to be forward-thinking, misfire-tolerant, and future-ready.

digital strategy and innovation

 

Attentive, attuned, and analytically inspired digital leaders closely monitor sales and cost metrics, qualitative and quantitative stats, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). More broadly referred to as ‘data’.

There are known challenges with data collection, preparation, and validation including:

  • Data overload
  • Data stability
  • Assemble and prioritization data
  • Preventing omission of key data points
  • Organization of data to make it usable
  • Taking advantage of data visualization for optimal consumption
  • Gaining insights that can be tested
  • Craft a roadmap for maximum output based on data
  • Pivoting within a plan or shifting an objective due to data outcomes

Prevailing strategies are architected using business intelligence – this is owned data, sourced from customers, sales, performance, operations, marketing, social media, and industry trends.

Types of Data

Structured, Semi-Structured, and Unstructured

Transactional

Hierarchical and Ordered

Text and Meta

Qualitative and Quantitative

The “V” elements of data are variety, volume, value, velocity, veracity, and variability.   When handling data, pay attention to each of these characteristics.

[Step 1]  Utilize a Powerful Digital Dashboard

Creating an impactful plan of action starts with data visualization from charts, pies, tables, and other graphic representations of data.

When selecting a dashboard tool, here is a checklist of key features:

  • User-friendly, high performing interface
  • Intuitive navigation menu and filters
  • Contemporary cards, charts, and forms
  • Wide variety of pre-set templates
  • Multiple layout options
  • Fast-loading import / export feature (multi-file upload is a bonus)
  • Customized views for different types of users
  • Easy widgets to add new tables and elements to a page
  • Tooltips, bookmarks, notifications, and alerts
  • Calendar, email, and to-do list features
  • Data authentication and identification of errors
  • Editing tools
  • Suite of reports with automation capability
  • Color, font, and background controls
  • Interactive with popular platforms and plugins
  • Cross-browser compatible
  • Mobile friendly and fully responsive

Continue reading “Mastering the Deluge of Data”

digital network

 

Digital advertising is a dominant strategy to grow online sales, which is evident by over $65B annual ad spend on just Facebook and Google in the U.S.

The advertising landscape can be perplexing in its scope, channels, models, and tactics.

Along with value-based offers, compelling copy, resonating visuals, and relevancy for the audience, the most critical factors for creating ROI-driven campaigns include the following:

(1) Crafting strategies based upon extensive competitive analysis, keyword research, and use of business intelligence (BI).

(2) Machine learning for understanding trends and forecasting.

(3) Sufficient budget to gain key insights on consumer interactions with your ads.

(4) An iterative approach to each campaign to test ad effectiveness and to measure performance.

Programmatic advertising should be a primary component of your overall marketing automation strategy.  There are significant tools that support these efforts – some of the most popular are Salesforce, Marketo, Adobe’s Customer Experience platform, along with a host of other solutions on the market today.

Why a DMP?

A DMP (data management platform) aggregates data to develop customer profiles which are then utilized for targeted advertising.

Insights garnered from audience data are drivers for enhanced engagement and more personalized and relevant cross-channel experiences.

Continue reading “Digital Advertising Performance Insights”

bright colors from opening laptop

 

I’ve gained indispensable insights through multiple ecommerce implementations across several industries. Here are vital methods, tactics, and actions for building or advancing a profit-bearing platform.

#1 The Numbers

Quantifiable OKRs (objectives and key results)

Set clearly formulated and specific Business Goals for each of these measurable performance metrics:

  • Conversion
  • Engagement
  • Optimization
  • Monetization

Commit to an Actionable and Achievable Timeline

Too often, the budget, timeline, and resources are not fully defined at the start.  There may be general numbers put on paper, however a successful ecommerce initiative requires forecasting and accounting for each of the following:

  • Ecommerce Software
  • Set up, Servers, Database, Environments
  • 3rd Party Integrations & APIs (Tax, Shipping, Payment Gateway, Technologies, Customer Service, Live Chat, etc.)
  • Technology & Marketing Stack
  • Back-End Integrations (CMS or DXP, CRM, PIM, Database etc.)
  • Mobile Responsive
  • Add Ons, Extensions, Mobile App
  • Project Management
  • Web Development
  • UI / UX, Design, Multimedia
  • Content and SEO
  • Site Performance and Testing
  • Domain, Hosting, SSL
  • Training and Documentation
  • Maintenance, Upgrades, Scaling
  • Launch PR – Internal and External Communications

A more detailed list is available here: https://artofdigitalcommerce.com/ecommerce-archetype/

#2 The Brand

Collaborate and establish the following before your project starts:

  1. Brand Values and Vision
  2. Unique Selling Proposition
  3. Competitive Advantage
  4. Your Brand’s “Wow” Factor
  5. Markets, Competitor Landscape, and Industry Positioning

Be innovative, forward-thinking, and fully customer-centric in this process.

Continue reading “Mastery of Ecommerce – 8 Pillars of the Pursuit”

SEO with cogs

An estimated 97% of mobile searches are done on Google, making it smart to base your strategies on Google’s algorithm, signals, ranking system, and indexing priorities.

With each query, Google looks for the following:

  • How a web page relates to certain concepts
  • The context of the keywords being used
  • Relevancy of the page to the query itself

Additionally, it factors in site speed, mobile responsiveness, and the performance of core web vitals.

Speech tagging and answering questions are among the natural language processes being used by search engines.  Further, the domain rating (DR) will influence your backlink profile, while domain authority (DA) will impact your search engine positioning.

Other ranking factors include:

  • Industry authority
  • User interface framework
  • Crawlability / indexability
  • Quality of content
  • Backlinks
  • Page rendering
  • Mobile experience
  • Site architecture
  • Content clustering and semantic relationships

Your keyword approach must be designed to achieve the right reach, frequency, channels, and marketing mix.

Continue reading “SEO – An Easy Guide to Impact Performance”

Interface technology, the future of user experience.

 

B2C, B2B, D2C, Omnichannel, Social Commerce, Marketplaces – each has distinctive selling strategies and opportunities.  Consider which one (or few) aligns with your business model and objectives.

 

B2C

Often, this is a business with several brands or categories with broad demographics for its prospective customers, aiming for sales volume even if profit margins are tight.

Ecommerce Strategy: A heavy emphasis on promotions, incentive selling, and strong market positioning. Creative campaigns that are compelling and impactful are essential to establish a unique selling proposition and a competitive advantage. The drive is to influence motivation and trigger actions. Discounts, on-site sale events, clearance, exclusive coupons, and flash price drops are used to impel transactions. Generating leads is orchestrated with contextual insight, optimized messaging, personalized experiences, and a cadence of interactions that acquire, enable, and engage.

 

B2B

A business selling products and/or services to other commercial businesses – either in a single sector or several different verticals.

Ecommerce Strategy: There is an emphasis on industry authority, building relationships, and tactical selling based on price points, bulk purchases, recurring orders, or a contractual buying schedule. Content marketing and a highly effective communication style are key to B2B digital sales because it’s here where information is king. The business is a partner to the customer with solution-based services and an optimal product mix.  The company must be prominent in its online placement, reviews, directories, and citations. And build an empire of insights, because the customer is continually seeking knowledge and ideas to strengthen their operation and performance.

 

D2C

Businesses that are innovative, expedient, and principled in their selling of one or multiple product lines where need, interest, and enthusiasm are high motivators for an audience that has been segmented into specific buyer personas.

Ecommerce Strategy: Maintain a focus on agility, iterative experiments, and optimal user experiences throughout the buying journey. Whether solving a problem or sparking an interest, use of rich media and social channels are critical to achieving order placement, repeat business, loyalty, and development of ambassadors. As a business designs its strategy, the pillars must start with mobile and site performance – both of these tower above other reigning factors.

 

Continue reading “Strategy Insights for 7 Digital Business Models”

Digital Engagement Strategy

 

In 2020, small and medium size businesses (SMBs) experienced the fastest growth of online sales in the last five years.  The motivation to purchase online continues to rapidly rise. Is your business positioned to take advantage of digital commerce? 

Here are some questions to weigh:

  • Are the value and distinct benefits of your products or services expressed clearly and concisely?
  • Are you effectively customizing campaigns to tap the unique buying intent of each customer segment?
  • Is the brand messaging being consistently shaped to inspire, inform, and persuade the audience?
  • How creative, impactful, and informative is the visual experience of your brand?
  • Do you tell an authentic and compelling story which your audience can relate to?
  • Do the website’s interface and user experience drive conversions – how well have you tested the content, graphics, elements, functions, navigation, information architecture, performance, and mobile design?
  • Can a visitor seamlessly and intuitively search for products or information on your website?
  • Is your monetization strategy being executed across channels with the right cadence to influence action?

While seemingly simple, there is a complex formula to digital commerce, which is an art (creativity, content, and innovation) and a science (automation, testing, and technology). Being strategic, agile, and tenacious in both interface and infrastructure are essential to building online sales. 

Continue reading “SMBs – Digital Growth and Monetization”

drop-of-water-ripple

In the digital commerce space, impact is critical and relentlessly pursued. Attracting your target audience and converting visitors to consumers require far more than a hook and a pitch.

Impact is achieved through exceptional efforts that blend strategy, creativity, agility, and innovation. Whether problem-based, exploration-based, need-based, or interest-based, capturing ‘intent’ and motivating people are forms of marketing dexterity – weaving touch points and experiences that trigger actions and engagement.

Impact comes from tapping emotional, mental, spiritual, intellectual, societal, physical, and environmental factors.

Always start with specific objectives and a well-defined project plan.  Any endeavor worth doing begins with concept, scope, definitions, timelines, tasks, and measurable goals.

Leverage your organization’s expertise and acumen. Intellect drives trust and confidence, and should serve as the foundation of impact.

Share a wide spectrum of content, and assess where it most resonates with your audience.  Be mindful of the tone, voice, and style – each of these should have unique brand characteristics and a consistency across platforms.

Tell stories. Not about the brand, nor your products and services. Instead, create organic media about people – their journey, experiences, challenges, passion, pursuits, and insights.  Be purposeful in demonstrating a correlation between the story and the brand.

Tailor campaigns to narrowed segments of your customer-base to ensure the experiences offer value and provide benefit beyond a purchase.  When you penetrate the mind and motivators, impact is lingering… and lasting.

Continually fine-tune your approach until impact is evident. This will build your competitive edge.

Establish a pipeline of progress, continually fostering new ideas, driving the quality and ‘wow’ factor, and digging for hidden opportunities.

Be open and receptive to instances of  poor performance. Embrace when outcomes do not align with objectives- these are essential moments to learn and improve. Test, iterate, and be excited when incremental advancements are realized!

Impact isn’t always obvious, nor readily validated.  And yet, it is incredibly powerful. When achieved, compelling brand experiences are highly persuasive and will help you dominate in brand positioning and profitability.

Christmas balls and shells on sand with summer sea background

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”  – Alexander Graham Bell

For many retailers, the holiday season dominates their sales generation. And as all commerce indicators have shown, online buying will continue to soar – most especially through mobile devices.

To effectively capture new and returning visitors, and expand your market reach, strategic planning and execution must start now.

From organic ranking for unique search terms to multi-channel buying journeys and social story telling, there is a long Santa list of tactical efforts to be ready for 4Q. Here are a few considerations to get your team on the Online Sales Sleigh!

(1) Set your seasonal budget and tactical plan to increase ad spend, promoting the brand’s value and quality, both of which people pay attention to when buying gifts.

(2) Perform comprehensive technology and interface diagnostics of your ecommerce platform and mobile app – identify any weaknesses with core web vitals, site performance, usability, and visual experience.

(3) Further optimize web pages with critical technical SEO – schema markup, unique titles, meta data, tags, core metrics, use of interstitials, crawl errors, internal and external links, etc.

(4) Consider distinctive packaging with a holiday-themed message card inside every shipment.

Continue reading “For Ecommerce, Turkey & Tinsel Start in August”