The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit deceptive acts in advertising by businesses both online and offline. However, not until recently has the FTC started expanding commerce laws which apply to offline business to the online environment. This move comes as a result of the increasing number of businesses who are establishing a presence online to take part in the explosion of ecommerce.
Recent ecommerce legislation by the FTC has tightened up on the regulations that surround the requirements for disclosure statements when marketing online. The new regulations apply to testimonials, blogging, and affiliate marketing, and failure to follow the laws can result in stiff penalty fines.
Many bloggers generate revenue from their blog by participating in affiliate marketing programs. These are programs that pay a commission to the blogger for recommending a product that is relevant to the topic of their blog. Under new ecommerce legislation by the FTC, bloggers who receive compensation from affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates, Clickbank, or any other type of affiliate program are subject to a disclosure statement.
Since there is an incentive between the blogger and the creator of the affiliate product the FTC feels that this could affect the credibility of the recommendation by the blogger. Therefore, the blogger must disclose that they are a participant in an affiliate product program. This is especially true if you are reviewing a product in exchange for free samples for writing a review in your blog. The disclosure statement must include exactly when you received the product for review free of charge.
If you have surfed the web to any great length you have probably noticed consumer testimonials that seem to appear in a lot of different websites. In the past, you have probably wondered whether or not they are actually true. Well, under new ecommerce legislation by the FTC, you must be ready to verify the source of the testimonial upon request. You must also add a disclosure statement that explains in detail the typical expected results that a consumer can expect from the product.
For example, if a testimonial states that someone lost 80 pounds in a month using your weight loss product where most clients lose 30 pounds in a month, you are required to provide a disclosure statement that explains the typical results that can be expected. The old phrase of “results not typical” no longer flies with the FTC.
Under the Dot Com Disclosures, the FTC also requires certain placement of the disclosure statements. Under this legislation, the disclosure statement should be placed as close to the claim as possible. If you are using hyperlinks which lead to the disclosure, the link must be visible and labeled appropriately. Disclosures which are placed in pop-ups or frames must contain an alternative method of displaying the disclosure in the event of technological limitations or popup blockers.
With the increased number of businesses turning to an online presence, it is important to keep up with the latest developments in ecommerce legislation. What we have described here is only the beginning of a long process of new rules and regulations enforced by the FTC.
If you use Google Analytics the tech terms and other jargon can be overwhelming and enough to make you say “forget it.” The important thing to remember is that a lot of the essential jargon is quite easy to understand, so before you close the door on analytics for good, let’s clarify a few of the tech terms associated with using analytics for your website.
Segmentation in Google Analytics provides websites owners with a way to isolate traffic to determine which parts are producing results and which are not. There is a variety of different ways to segment data in Analytics to read traffic results in different ways.
You can read website data using specific reports, dimension drop down which provides a way to segment data in the same report, report filters, advanced segments which can separate data almost anyway you like, custom reporting, and filtered profiles which are one step beyond advanced segmentation.
Dimensions allow you to see everything a single visitor is doing when they visit your site. It refers to individual activities your visitor is performing such as playing videos, pages they viewed, searches they conducted on your site, how they arrived on your site, the keywords they used in their search, and so on. You will encounter all of these topics when you are generating custom reports or doing advanced segmentation.
Sparklines are small graphics that contain condensed information to summarize the statistics for your website. You can create sparklines to reduce the number of clicks required to view specific parts of your data. Basically they provide a quick summary highlighting specific information in the report without having to click on it to get the information.
Funnels are the processes that you set up on your ecommerce site. If you have a certain succession of pages that your visitor passes through to arrive at the goal page, Google Analytics can track this process to allow you to gain the information you need to fix any leaks in this process. Funnel analysis is typically used to see where your visitors are abandoning their shopping carts during the checkout process.
Motion Charts are used to view your website data in several different dimensions to get an accurate perspective of your website data over time. Motion Charts help you improve keyword targeting, analyze and determine emerging keywords, and keywords you may not realize that people are using during their organic searches.
High End Mobile Traffic
It is possible to track visitors to your mobile website and visitors that are accessing your regular website from high end mobile devices such as an iPhone. You can do this by simply copying and pasting a code into your websites and then viewing the data in your Analytics account.
Latency in Google Analytics occurs when your web page loads slowly due to the tracking code in your page that provides the data for analysis. If Google is having difficulties then your site will have some as well. As an added tip, it does help to place the script as close as you can to the base of web page code.
Annotations allow you to make notes on the charts that analyze your website data over time. You can note when there has been unexplained changes in traffic or a specific event within your business. The notes can be to yourself or you can set them up to share with others.
If you have started to build an ecommerce business with SSL and you are ready to take things to the next level, stepping up ecommerce security is a must if you want the consumer to be confident when they shop on your ecommerce website. Solid ecommerce security also shows that you are concerned about the welfare and safety of your customers and that you care about the quality of your online business.
Here are a few things you should be concerned about when increasing the security on your ecommerce website:
PCI Compliance 1024
If you already have a website you are probably aware that the Payment Card Industry (PCI) has security standards which you must meet to protect the personal and financial data which your customers provide when they do business with you. One of the standards which are enforced by the Payment Card Industry is specific requirements for encryption if payment card information is stored with the consumer’s personal information. The standard required encryption rate to be PCI compliant is 1024-bit where it was originally only 128-bit.
When you obtain an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate it ensures that all personal payment information which is submitted by your customer is secure from their browser to the server. The standard bit encryption is 128 bit to 1024 bit however certificate providers are creating security certificates to be future proof by making them 2048-bit ready which is the 2010 expected industry standard.
Extended Validation SSL
The Extended Validation Standard was developed to provide added assurance of website ownership as well as the business identity. The verification process is conducted by a Certificate Authority before the business owner is awarded an Extended Validation SSL.
Website owners apply for Extended Validation SSL to place their business in a leadership position. When customers visit your website which is secured with Extended Validation SSL the location where your website URL address is displayed in the browser will turn green. To the right of your website URL address there will be another bar which will also turn green and toggle between the name of your business and the Certificate Authority (CA) that granted Extended Validation.
Extended Validation helps your customers feel confident when they do business with you because they know you have gone the extra mile to obtain an Extended Validation SSL. This is a plus during a time when identity theft is on the rise and consumers are concerned about submitting sensitive information. It will also give you the edge on your competition when a consumer reviews both websites and notices that yours is more secure. The chances are they will choose your website over the one that does not have an Extended Validation SSL.
Let’s face it. There is a reason that vehicles have dashboards, aircrafts have dashboards, and many other types of technology have a dashboard. The dashboard is in place to help you find your way and get to where you want to go. So it only stands to reason that a Web analytics dashboard will help you find your way and get to where you want go with your online business by providing you with the performance snapshots of data that you need to make improvements and modifications along the journey. Without a Web analytics dashboard your business will never get off the ground and here’s why:
KPI Performance Snapshot
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator which provides you with an analysis for different segments of your online business by providing a performance snapshot of key metrics. This way you can tell if the Key Performance Indicators match your business goals and objectives. If they do not line up then you can use the detailed data and information to make the necessary improvements to better meet the goals and objectives you set for your online business.
A Web analytics dashboard is set up to provide you with a performance snapshot of consumer communications which includes data on visitor metrics, new and unique visitors, returning visitors, registered subscribers, time which has lapsed between visits, social media performance, and many other types of measurements which are crucial to the success of your consumer relationships. You can also get an overview of how the communication paradigm you set up for your business stacks up against the data in the performance snapshot of your analytics dashboard.
You can also use a Web analytics dashboard to monitor the performance of a variety of marketing efforts that you do across the board. All of your marketing channels include components such as your email marketing campaigns, search marketing efforts, website analytics for your full website, mobile website and marketing efforts, and video marketing. You can also receive information on the progress of your social media campaigns. A performance snapshot of all channels helps you to dissect the metrics easily and decide how you want to improve the results of the areas which are not performing as well as they could.
A Web analytics dashboard provides a summary of all of the programs and strategies you are using for your online business. You can view at a glance consumer communications, conversions, campaign Return on Investment (ROI), social media metrics, and other factors that provide a performance snapshot summary of everything that is happening with the progress of your online business.
If you think about it, trying to collect all of these metrics on your own would drain all of your energy away from creating a successful online business. For this reason, a Web analytics dashboard is a must if you are serious about creating an online business that will last over the long term.
Leave a Comment, And Tell Us What is on Your Ideal Dashboard.
Sticking your head in the sand won’t make it go away.
It is important to take the time to understand how to make mobile technology work for your business. You need to get past the misconception that it makes life more complex, or is giving you more work to do, once you get past that you will find many pleasant surprises.
Searches from mobile devices on Google has increased 3000% in the last 3 years since the release of the first iphone. 3000%, that is absolutely insane growth.
Choosing a website host is an basic online business decision. You want a host that is reliable and offers the features and functions you need to operate your business. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your provider is a good fit.
1. Is the control panel user friendly? Many hosts offer free demos, make sure your run the demo of the control panel to ensure that it makes sense and is easy to use.
2. Are you a DIY site builder or are you looking for a website building APP? Some hosts offer a site building application. These can be useful if you’re not interested in getting into the tech side of web hosting. However, if you are building your own website you must ensure that your web host supports FTP connections.
3. Can you upload your files in an easy fashion? Some hosts are only compatible with certain types of files, Windows vs. Linux is the usual choice. Make sure your website development application works with your host before you pay for their services. Building a website in Windows when your server is Linux is not a good idea, you are not going to get very far.
4. Is the host big enough to support your needs? Evaluate their data space, bandwidth and file size limits. You don’t need to go overboard when evaluating a host but a host does need to handle your current needs and give you growing room.
5. Server Reliability. Occasional downtime is expected however it should be rare and you should be warned ahead of time when the servers are going to be down, and it should be done in the off hours. Ideally, your host’s server should be up and running 99% of the time. Often referred to as the Five Nines promise or 99.999% uptime.
6. Host Security. If you’re doing business online then security has to be in the forefront of every consideration. Even if you’re not conducting commerce online, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect your website from hackers. A secure host is a happy host, very clichÃ© but true.
7. Additional required features and functionality from your web host. What features do you need your website to have, and what features do you want your website to have? Do you need or want a shopping cart, email or auto-responders for a marketing series? Do you need to be able to sell advertising on your website or incorporate Google ad sense ads? Do you want analytics and reporting functions to track website visitors? You should get a list from your webhost of all the features and functions and compare the list to your needs and wants specification that you should write before going out shop for web hosting. Always have a shopping list before you go shopping. Make sure your website host has all the features and functions you need , then you need to do 1 more thing before signing up.
Check their customer reviews. You have your short list of web hosts narrowed down – before you take price into consideration you need to look at the company’s reputation. If the company is noted for not being available for customer support, I would not recommend you go with that company. You also want to make sure you’re dealing with an actual hosting company and not a host reseller, there are a lot of resellers out there.
Now, it’s time to compare price. If a website host meets all of your criteria and fits your budget, you’ve found a good company. There are a lot of good website hosts out there. Invest upfront in researching, it will save you hassles in the end.
When starting an online business one of the aspects you should direct your attention to is the increased use of mobile devices. Mobile website users are popping up in droves which is coercing online business owners to conform to the new world of mobility.
Everything is different in the mobile environment including the type of browsers being used, smaller screen sizes, different connection speeds, and other factors that come into play when making your website mobile friendly.
Although this may sound complicated if you follow a few simple rules you can make your website user friendly to the mobile website user environment. Here are a few tips on how to make your website mobile friendly:
Design Your Site for Mobile
When making your site mobile friendly maintain the visual aspects of your full site when you design it for mobile devices. This will increase consumer confidence and they will associate your business brand with quality. Also, design each page so the user does not have to go through a lot of scrolling to find the content they are looking for. Reduce the number of page transitions to save mobile website users time when viewing your site.
Reduce Image Size
If mobile website users are viewing a smaller screen it makes no sense at all to use full size images. Reduce the size of the images on your web server so the load time is faster. You can also place a link in the image to the location where you store the larger image to allow mobile users to zoom in if they want to see more details. This is a tactic you would use for product images in an online store or any other images that mobile users would want to examine more closely.
Cater to Short Attention Spans
Mobile website users tend to have short attention spans so remove anything from your website that is not pertinent to mobile visitors. This includes page headers and footers that are not really of interest to a mobile user and links to locations that may not have a high priority in the mobile environment.
Poll Your Audience
If you know which devices are the most popular with your mobile website users it makes designing a mobile friendly website a lot easier. There are tools available that you can use to find out what devices your target audience is using. Free tools such as AdMob Acquisition and Mobile Analytics API by Google are useful tools for polling your audience of website visitors.
Provide Access to Your Website
Place a link to your full website on each page of the mobile version of your site. This provides the mobile website user with a way to access your full website if the information they are seeking is not available on the mobile site. Make sure you set up the transition so the visitor arrives on the exact same page they were browsing on the mobile site.
Mobile Device Detection
When you set up your website to detect a mobile device make sure you configure it to send the user to the exact page they are looking for. For example, if they are currently browsing www.yourdomain.com/article on your full website don’t send them to www.yourdomain.com when a mobile device is detected. This frustrates the users when they have to find their way back to the exact page they were browsing.
If you have just started using Google Analytics or another website analytics package the tech terms and other jargon can be overwhelming and enough to make you say “forget it.” The important thing to remember is that a lot of the essential jargon is quite easy to understand, so before you close the door on analytics for good, let’s clarify some of the tech terms associated with using analytics for your website.
The page view statistics refer to the number of instances in which your web page is loaded by a browser. For example, if one of your visitors loads 8 pages of your website then the statistics will show 8 page views for your site.
A visit is recorded in your analytics statistics when a visitor accesses your web page. If they view several pages before leaving your site this counts as one visit to your website.
Pages Per Visit
This tech term refers to return visitors to your website and provides you with information on the number of pages they see per visit. For example, if you have 50 visitors to your website and they see a total of 100 pages, then you calculate 100 divided by 50 which will equal 2 pages per visit.
The visitor portion of analytics refers to visitors that have come to your site and left for a short period of time and then returned. This counts as one visitor to your site returning multiple times.
Time on Site
This information will give you statistics on the average time each of your visitors spend on your site. Analytics can track this according to the time your visitor arrives until the time they leave the site.
Percentage of New Visits
This term means the percentage of unique or new visitors that are visiting your website.
This information tells you how many visitors are coming to your website and only viewing one page before they leave. For example, if 100 visitors come to your site and 30 of the visitors only view one page before leaving, your bounce rate will be 30 percent.
These are some basic analytic tech terms to help you get started testing and analyzing your website. Once you get comfortable with these terms you can move to the more advanced lingo and techniques that are used with analytics.
Much to our chagrin, as technology progresses, so does our reliance on the power to run it. Many industries are addressing the threat that energy overconsumption poses to the environment by taking “green initiatives.” These are steps toward reducing energy usage and adopting alternative sources that are less impactful on the the environment.
Web hosting companies are among those in the technology field looking to reduce their carbon footprint. That’s good news because a server can produce the same emissions as a SUV and a data center uses as much electricity as 30,000 households!
There are a number of steps companies are taking to lessen their impact on the environment, including using servers which run more efficiently, or running their equipment on solar or wind power. It is also common for eco-friendly hosting companies to purchase energy credits, which equal – or exceed – the amount of traditional energy they must utilize to run their machines. These credits purchase energy from alternative sources, offsetting the company’s environmental impact.
To find a hosting company that is lessening its carbon footprint, look for the terms eco-friendly, green, or carbon-neutral in their advertising. Some of these companies make “green addons” available to their customers which further fund efforts to plant trees, develop alternative energy sources, and purchase additional energy credits. The goal of these initiatives is for their service have zero effect on the environment – and in some cases even give back more than they take. Some provide badges to display on your website to show you support these eco-friendly efforts.
These green web hosts provide the same services, pricing, and claims of remarkable uptime and customer satisfaction as traditional companies. The added bonus is that they are forward-thinking and environmentally conscious.
It’s worth investigating a company who is trying to do good by the environment.
Virtual web hosting could be described as a melding of the best attributes of shared and dedicated web hosting plans. It provides the security and resources of a dedicated server while being less costly an option because it is shared. Virtual hosting partitions one server into several smaller servers, each completely separate from one another. Each segment is called a Virtual Private Server (VPS) and runs its own operating system and software.
A VPS provides the security, resources and customization abilities of a dedicated server at a considerably lower cost. In essence, it is like leasing your own tiny dedicated server which is appointed and configured exactly as you want and exactly the size you need it to be at any given time. If your website’s technical requirements are complex, even though your need for space, bandwidth or resources are low, you can customize your VPS to run your site for optimal performance.
The most uniquely useful feature of this web hosting option is that the service is scalable, which means that you can use more or fewer resources whenever you need them. When your website needs a lot more computing power, it can be immediately available to you. For example, should you need more resources or additional servers for a short-term project, you can have access to more resources. When your temporary need ends, your VPS shrinks down to the size you need. You only pay for the resources (called “slices”) that you actually use. This flexibility in resource management makes a VPS an attractive option for a small business whose needs may be very specific and whose usage may fluctuate.
A Virtual Private Server offers the key features of scalability, customization, security, and high performance all at an affordable price.