What is a Social Media Share Worth?

Before you read the rest of this post, I want you to take a few guesses as to what is social media share worth?  Do you think it is .50 or a dollar?  Which social media channels do you think provide the most bang for your buck?

You may be surprised to know that in 2014 a social media share was worth, on average, $2.56!  Now that number fluctuates quite a bit depending on the industry, and your vertical.  Meaning that a high fashion share is worth more while someone selling small trinkets might be worth less.

Typically you’ll see the following:

  • An email share is worth $12.41 and continues to dominate online sharing.
  • Google+ share is worth $5.62 (and also ties to organic search validity)
  • Facebook share is worth $0.80 (due to strict visibility and engagement)
  • Twitter Tweet is worth $1.03
  • Pinterest Pin is worth $0.67
  • Other (Polyvore, Gilt, etc) is generally around $3.46

When you consider that some people share your content a lot you can extrapolate out that a share is sometimes more valuable than a direct purchase and you should try and create ‘shareable’ content to expand your reach out past your own marketing efforts.  The best metric to follow is the 70/30 rule.  To continue to grow your base customer and brand reach you need to reach 70% new customers and 30% returning customers.  Take to social media to make that happen!

From the beginning of the post, how close were you to the actual 2014 figures? What do you think of the numbers for 2014? Share your opinion.

What are SMART requirements?

SMART requirements are an acronym for “specific, measurable, attainable (achievable/actionable/appropriate), realistic, time-bound (timely, traceable)”.  The principal advantage of SMART objectives is that they are easier to understand, to do, and then be reassured that they have been done.

What are the main characteristics of Agile and Waterfall development methodologies?

Waterfall methodology is a sequential design process. This means that as each of the eight stages (conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, implementation, and maintenance) are completed, the developers move on to the next step.   As this process is sequential, once a step has been completed, developers can’t go back to a previous step – not without scratching the whole project and starting from the beginning. There’s no room for change or error, so a project outcome and an extensive plan must be set in the beginning and then followed carefully.

Agile came about as a “solution” to the disadvantages of the waterfall methodology. Instead of a sequential design process, the Agile methodology follows an incremental approach.  Developers start off with a simplistic project design, and then begin to work on small modules. The work on these modules is done in weekly or monthly sprints, and at the end of each sprint, project priorities are evaluated and tests are run. These sprints allow for bugs to be discovered, and customer feedback to be incorporated into the design before the next sprint is run.  The process, with its lack of initial design and steps, is often criticized for its collaborative nature that focuses on principles rather than process.

What are the best usability practices when building an online catalog and checkout system?

A few best practices are to setup the catalog with easy to use categories/navigation, recommend related products, use breadcrumbs (if it fits in the design), provide internal searching facility.  Make sure to disclose all hidden costs; return ability issues, security issues, shipping costs and others.

  • Additionally, let guests purchase without registration (if you are willing to give up the customer service aspects).
  • Show a confirmation page before they submit the order.
  • Break up the checkout process into number of easily understood steps.
  • Show order details with each and every cost associated with it.
  • Show easily visible and understood checkout button and shopping cart.
  • Don’t ask for unnecessary information.

What are the best usability practices when building an online catalog and checkout system?

    1. Setup the catalog with easy to use categories/navigation, recommend related products, use breadcrumbs (if it fits in the design), provide internal searching facility.  Disclose all hidden costs; return ability issues, security issues, shipping costs and others.
    2. Let them purchase without registration, Show a confirmation page before they submit the order, Break up the checkout process into number of easily understood steps, Show order details with each and every cost associated with it, Show easily visible and understood checkout button and shopping cart, Don’t ask for unnecessary information
    3. Always place yourself in the customers’ shoes to design for their optimal experience. Make sure that products and information are easy to find and that the process to checkout is a streamlined experience with the least amount of barriers to conversion in place.

What are best practices for protecting eCommerce user data?

The best method to protecting eCommerce user data is to simply use a 3rd party service for the hosting of customer data.  PayPal has excellent security, so use them (or another service such as Authorize.net).

Use an SSL to securely send sensitive data.

Encrypt passwords (Magento MD5).

Educate your customers to store transactional emails and sensitive information in a safe place.

What are best practices for protecting eCommerce user data?

    1. Use a 3rd party service for hosting of customer data.  PayPal has excellent security, so use them (or another service).  Use an SSL to securely send sensitive data.  Encrypt passwords (Magento MD5).  Educate your customers to store transactional emails and information in a safe place.
    2. Never store sensitive data onsite (CC or payment info) and for the data that is stored, ensure that information is encrypted where available and correct server security measures are in place to prevent access to this information.

How to Create a Great Magento Ecommerce Experience for Customers

As the popularity of eCommerce continues to soar, keeping your customers happy and attracted to your website is a top priority. Imagine the malls of the 1990s. Every business had to have an appealing storefront, comfortable layout and friendly customer service to get people inside, spend money, and come back. Fast forward to the 21st century and the Internet has partially replaced the shopping center, and instead of “cruising the mall” customers are surfing the Internet.

So what will make your customers bookmark your website and look at your products first? All shoppers have 2 to 3 stores they visit first at the mall, and the Internet is no different. The buying behaviors are quite similar, so your approach to satisfying your customers should be similar as well.

Once an online shopper has a great experience, they will come back for more. Here are some tips on how to create a great ecommerce experience for your customers:

Fast Page Loading

When customers are in shopping mode they don’t want to wait—for anything. If your homepage or product pages take too long to load, consider your tab closed and your competitor’s site open. Research has shown most online shoppers leave a site after waiting three seconds.

Always test your site, especially if you add new content. It is imperative to operate at top speed even with high traffic or during a new deployment. When you’re in-store and want to see an item you can simply pick it up right away; the same goes for when an online shopper wants to open a product page.

Clean Product Images

Shopping online is convenient and offers great deals, but one element of in-store shopping is obviously missing: holding or trying on your product. There is no replacement for the sense of touch, but if you provide large, clean pictures of the item, your customer will get a clear view of the product—and ultimately buy with confidence.

Logos and brands should be easily identifiable as if they were on racks in a store. Shoes, for example, should be laid out in all available colors and have images from all angles. You want to replicate an in-person experience as much as possible, and quality ecommerce product pages will do just that.

Proper Customer Service

Upon entering a store in person, a polite “Do you need help finding anything?” reassures you an employee is there to help. However, if the salesperson follows you around and asks you two more times, chances are you are going to walk out. There is a fine line between “I’m here to help if you need me” and being in a customer’s face.

It is always a good idea to have one customer service pop-up, but after that, let the customer decide if they want help. Make sure your live chat and click-to-call icons are visible at all times, but don’t be too pushy. Design your online customer service to feel like the polite employee waiting for your enquiry within comfortable distance.

Allow Guest Checkout

Although “Sign Up” should be the prominent feature of your checkout process, give your customers the option to check out as a guest as well. Best practice is to make the “Sign Up” side of the page more appealing with bigger buttons and larger text. Always place this section on the left side of the page and highlight the discounts and benefits of being a member.

But remember, not everyone wants to spend five minutes typing in their personal information for a pair of jeans. Some people don’t want to give you their information and will question why you need it. Either way, you can lose the sale at the cash register. If paying customers just want to pay, let them do it.

Reassure Transaction is Complete

Simplicity is your #1 goal for a fast online checkout, and once the transaction is complete you must provide a transaction number, receipt number and shipping information. Unlike the satisfaction of leaving the store with bag in hand, online shoppers need some reassurance their item is paid for and on the way. These details will allow them to take mental ownership of the product.

Your return policy should be straightforward, too. Certainly you don’t want customers returning purchased merchandise, but if you have a complicated return policy, they may never come back again. Don’t lose a lifetime of business for one bad return experience. If you make the return easy, the customer will return—it’s as simple as that.


Guest Post – Ivan Komskyy

E-mail: i.komskyy@sam-solutions.com

Skype ID: ivanne1988

Magento Solutions Specialist – Setup Product Catalog

How can you setup a product catalog for best search results, taking into account issues of duplicate content, meta content, meta title, keyword search terms in product description, attribute weight, and so on?

    1. When setting up a product catalog focus on
      1. a search engine friendly URL slug
      2. populate a proper Page title, meta description with 155 characters
      3. Attribute weight in SOLR search, To improve the relevancy score of search results based on product attributes, assign a larger weight to those attributes.
      4. Duplicate content, if you simply copy and paste product descriptions you will rank poorly for onpage content and be flagged for duplicate content in your search rankings.
    2. Duplicate content – ensure that each product will have a unique description and there is only a single path to the same product
    3. Meta content – ensure that this is populated and crawlable
    4. Meta title – again, make sure that this is populated
    5. Keyword search terms – make sure that this information is populated and relevant
    6. Attribute weight – when SOLR is used, make sure that the weights are accurately assigned and that the most relevant fields across the catalog have the greatest weight

Top Three Lessons I Learned from a Failed Project

Mistakes are inevitable.   If you aren’t making mistakes in your current position you are either not taking chances to improve your process, you are not empowered by your boss to make decisions that matter, or you are lying to yourself.   Digital project management is a lifecycle of trial and error.  As you start in a position you learn by doing, you try A, you readjust.  You try B, you readjust until you find the most optimal way of doings things within your organization.   When you’re part of a failed project, it seems stressful and downright painful, but you have the opportunity to learn a lot of lessons that will help lead you to project successes. Below are my top three lessons from a failed project.

1.  Meetings for Meetings sake

One of the topics that every project manager has to go through is Meetings.  On-boarding meetings, technical meetings, database/catalog meetings, scope planning meetings, creative meetings, and sprint planning meetings to name a few.  Meetings will take over your calendar and furthermore you entire day if you let them.  I have made the mist

Imagine you have a team of 10 people.  A few designers, 5 developers, an assistant, a salesman, and you (the project manager).  Now take all the meetings I mentioned before, which are 6 meetings.  If you are lucky and only have 1 of each meeting that will give you 6.   Multiple that 6 times 10 = 60; If your employees are making $25 an hour that factors out to $1500 to have 6 meetings.  Wait, now think about this again.  $1500 Dollars! To sit in a room and discuss hypotheticals.   If that doesn’t put it in perspective I don’t know what will.

The first lesson that I’ve learned is to strategically plan meetings and strategically select the team members that should join each meeting.  Write all of your team members out in a spreadsheet and next to their name, list out their 3 best skills.   Use these skills when planning the meetings within the project.   If someone doesn’t have the applicable skills for the agenda they should not be invited to the upcoming meeting.   Your meetings should be structured well to be most effective, but I will create another post on that soon.

Additionally, to combat the “meetings for meetings sake” mentality go ahead and nominate owners for each major part of the project.  Have a go to person for each segment/topic of the project.  If your client asks a development question, you have a clear path to get that questions answered, if your client asks a billing question you can act quickly and get them the answer.  Cut out as much ambiguity in the communication channel as possible.

Key Takeaway: Schedule meetings to involved the necessary team members.  For non-essential member use a centralized communication platform to keep them information with meeting summaries but allow them to focus on their daily duties instead of taking them out of their element and into the meeting room.

2. Project schedule

Another large reason that projects fail is the lack of a detailed project schedule and missing important dates.  While the gantt charts and line graphs are really
pretty they don’t mean jack if you don’t communicate those and stick to them.   I’ve worked in marketing, IT, and operations and at times I’ve seen projects that have “started” with no integrated project schedule.  Tasks started getting done, but without the perspective of where that task fit in the greater project we were actually not making any progress at all, simply just spinning our wheels.   Over time we realized that people were doing the same tasks, we were getting behind and pushing the launch date further and further back, and we were starting to get frustrated because everything was tasks based and didn’t seem to add value to the overall goal of the project.   I’ve heard the quote “The project schedule is only correct one time a project, and that is after launch.” and that is typically true, but that doesn’t mean you should have it to refer to.

Key takeaway: Build and manage around a project schedule.

3.  Asking for help

Heroes only work in superhero movies.  Whether you are a developer and you are trying to speed-code your feature into production or the designer that rushes through a final PSD you are actually hurting the entire team.  One of the things that teams that I have been on struggled with is asking for help or acknowledging that they can’t meet deadlines.

As example story I remember a developer that had a lot of pull within the company because he had been around for longer than anyone.  The COO and upper management had full faith in him, and heck I had faith in him to come through.   I heard the response, “Yes, things are fine” and “I will be able to deliver on time” about 15 times, and each time I believed him.  The time came to deliver the code and the project and, bam!, nothing.  The code was unfinished, I had to grovel with the client begging for more time and we blew through our budget.   We had a very strong culture at my place of work and if that developer would have simply told it like it was and said “Hey team, I need help to deliver” everyone would have jumped to help him instantly.

The team is smarter and more capable of delivering than one individual person and that will always ring true.  It is acceptable to say “No”, and that “I can’t deliver within that time frame”, in fact I try to empower my team members to be honest and forthright with those statements.

Key takeaway: Don’t be a hero and build an effective team.


Projects have successes and failures at different points in the project lifecycle. The key to future successful projects is to learn from past project failures and take the actionables/reflections and empower yourself and your team to make better decisions.

If you have had any failed project experiences I would love to hear about them, feel free to comment on this post below.