This seminar will provide companies, researchers and policy-makers in the telecommunications sector with essential information on the advantages of participation in the development of standards. Standards experts will explain the operation of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and how to participate in ICT standardization through NSAI.

Industry speakers will present how participation in standardization can be used as a basis for achieving technology leadership, competitive advantage and company growth. The seminar will pay particular attention to new and emerging technologies and will be of benefit for SMEs.

The seminar is free to attend however registration is required.  Click for full programme and to reserve your place

Date & Time: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 | 8am – 1pm
Venue: Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co Dublin.

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Inside eCommerce has partnered with online retailers, MicksGarage.com, to share their experiences in Building for Scale Internationally. This one day event will provide invaluable insights into the strategy, innovation and technical implementation behind creating a successful eCommerce offering. Six speakers from the company’s top management team will give masterclass sessions focusing on key areas of business. Attendees will learn over the course of the day how all these functions fit together to form a well oiled machine.

 “This no nonsense approach to a tech conference aims to give attendees an invaluable insight into how building an online business for scale is achieved,” said event organiser John Walsh.  We’ve skipped the jargon and fluff and designed content driven by real data and examples that anyone building an online business can relate to and apply, while focusing on eCommerce specific strategies, campaigns and considerations.” Walsh said.

Hosted by the Gibson Hotel, this event will also provide breakfast, lunch and post-event networking opportunities, with additional food & refreshments being provided for all attendees.

 Key Take-Aways:

  •  Considerations around shipping 1000+ products per day
  • Manage 300,000 Ad groups
  • Build from 0 to 350k SKU’s
  • Localise for Europe and ship to 70 countries
  • Build a Multichannel eCommerce business to include eBay / Amazon marketplaces
  • Design for eCommerce – Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Manage & create effective content
  • Create an eCommerce P&L and identify the key metrics
  • Raise Capital and plan for scale.
  • Build Infrastructure for scale, and manage security
For more information please contact: John Walsh
Phone: +353 87 6681183
email: john@insideecommerce.ie
Website: www.insideecommerce.ie 

is your website good enough

So your website is more than 5 years old. Is it still up to scratch?

Maybe you think it’s looking a bit sad and tired or it’s just not doing what you need it to any more, others in your company might think it’s just fine. So here are some pointers to help you figure out why it could be time for a shiny new site.

First impressions count! A dated design can deter visitors

You probably won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression on your website visitors. The internet and its technologies have moved on leaps and bounds in the last 5 years. Please consider:

  • Overall is the design is outdated, is your homepage static with little information? Does it properly explain your business offering? If there isn’t anything to engage and entice users they are unlikely to explore further. A site that’s informative, visually engaging and easy to navigate will lead to better conversions and a return on your investment.
  • Is the design clean, attractive and modern or does it say “Hello 1990’s”? A dated looking site can give the impression that your company is behind the times and you may lose out to a competitor whose website looks more professional. Newer designed websites are making better use of the larger width of screens and tend not to have as many boxed elements.

Technology Fail!

If your site is so old it’s practically in hieroglyphics then it’s highly likely that it’s failing fast on keeping up with the latest technological developments. Here are some things to think about:

  •  Does your site work well on mobile or tablet devices? Having a responsive website is absolutely vital today with over 65% of Irish users changing devices while researching online – read Dara Creative’s blog article about Responsive Design
  • Do you have a flash element on the website – Flash is an outdated web technology and it can’t be used on most tablets and phones, losing you a huge audience
  • Your website is slooooow! It takes a long time to load, possibly due to old website software. Nobody likes a slow site and your visitors will bounce off your site for sure rather than wait for it. Test your site in the the Google Speed Check tool
  • Do you have an easy way to edit content yourself or are you relying on your web developer? Having a good content management system means you can keep your content up to date and relevant for your visitors without any techie know-how.
  • Is your Content Management System (CMS) up to date? Making sure that your CMS is up to date, for example installing the latest version, ensures that hackers can’t find weaknesses or a gap in the security of your software. Thus preventing your content from being deleted, passwords changed or obscene content being posted on your website.

 

Write captivating content & Optimise for Search

The content on your site is nearly as important as the design and build. Ensure you have engaging and informative text on your site, a few scant words won’t really do anymore – give the search engines something to crawl! Update and add to your content on a regular basis.

Your content should be proactive and include ‘Calls to action’ (eg ‘Get in touch’, ‘Book now’, etc). Way back when it was ok to have fairly passive content that had a little info about who you were – a simple online brochure as such. But now the best practice is to call out to your website visitor – be clear on your business goals and get your website working to help achieve them.

As well as the above, an up to date website will include the following:

  • A sitemap, legal and cookie policy, all of which are required
  • Google analytics – make sure you have tracking code on the site. Google analytics is an essential tool for every website owner who wishes to track the performance of your website – track visitors, goals/conversions, measure your advertising return on investment, track social networking sites. Google Webmaster tools provides you with extensive reports about your visibility online. The great thing about these tools is that they are FREE!
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – implemented on the site. This will help get your website found in search engines for keyword phrases links to your business’ products and services. It is something that every website should have.

This blog post was written by Paula Connor, Digital Marketing Manager, Dara Creative.   Dara Creative can provide expert advice for your online presence.  You can get in touch at pconnor@daracreative.ie

 

 

 

IC4 is pleased to announce a new ‘cloud on-boarding’ service to help companies leverage the benefits of using cloud computing in their businesses. This service will be offered free for an initial period of three months, starting from February. It will take the form of ‘one-on-one’ sessions with a Cloud Technical Expert who is available to both advise companies on how best to use cloud computing in their business as well as to provide direct ‘hands on’ help in on-boarding applications to the cloud.

The ‘Cloud’ is the new ‘Internet’! A recent survey by j2 Global found that almost 88 percent of small businesses say they plan to, or wish they could, retire one or more legacy business technologies in 2014. And nearly 60 percent of survey respondents expect to save money by using cloud services in 2014.

IC4’s cloud on-boarding service will consist of the following phases:

i)       Understanding the existing software setup

ii)      Architecting an equivalent cloud-based solution

iii)     Defining a process to move to the cloud

iv)     Implementing the defined process to move to the cloud

Each company interested in this service will be offered two, one-hour, consultations with the Cloud Technical Expert. The cloud on-boarding service will be offered one day per week at one of DCU, UCC and AIT, per the following schedule:

-        DCU: first Thursday and third Thursday each month

-        UCC: Second Thursday each month

-        AIT: Fourth Thursday each month.

Anyone interested in pre-booking a one-hour slot at this or any future sessions can do so by clicking on the ‘Cloud On-Boarding Clinic’ advert on the home page of the IC4 website (www.ic4.ie) or by going direct to the Events page at www.ic4.ie/events/month/ and selecting the Thursday you would like to attend.

 

About IC4

The Irish Centre for Cloud Computing & Commerce (IC4) is a multi-institutional research centre located at Dublin City University (DCU) and includes researchers from University College Cork (UCC) and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). IC4 is one of a number of Technology Centres, funded by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, whose mandate is to carry out applied research in areas that are chosen by its industrial members and that are strategically important for the future growth in the Irish economy.

Image of the Amarach Research Main Logo

 

The technology sector, broadly defined, is one of the fastest growing parts of Ireland’s economy right now. Amárach Research is conducting a survey of companies in the sector to help understand the key drivers of growth, and to identify emerging opportunities for the future. The findings from the survey will be published next month as part of a series of business sector reports by AIB.

The survey is confidential and should take 10-15 minutes to complete. We need your answers by close of business on Friday 21st February.

Thank you in advance for your participation, you can enter your contact details at the end of the survey if you wish to receive a copy of the report when it is published. This information will not be shared with anyone outside of Amárach, nor will it be used to contact you for any other purpose.

Please click on the link here:

http://amarachresearch.com/OdinServlet/Interview?SurveyID=ABF13C8B9D

 

The Irish Software Association (ISA) are hosting a networking event with Pagemill Partners, a Silicon Valley based M&A and investment bank, in Dublin in 3 weeks time.

This seminar & networking event will take place, in Google Docks on Barrow Street, on Thursday 27th February @ 6pm.

The title of the seminar will be “PATH TO LIQUIDITY: M&A TRENDS AND STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL TECHNOLOGY GROWTH OR EXIT”

The event is targeted at Founders/CEO’s/CFOs – is open to non-member technology companies – however priority will be given to members of the ISA & ICT Ireland.

Demand is expected to be high for this unique event, so you should book this event sooner rather than later, to ensure you secure one of the limited places.

Bookings: www.software.ie/events

 

The EuroSTAR Conference is Europe’s premier software testing conference and has grown to become the largest and most prestigious event on the software testing calendar. In 2014, the EuroSTAR Conference takes place in Ireland for the first time in the Convention Centre in Dublin from November 24-27.

Submissions are now being accepted from software testing professionals wishing to speak at EuroSTAR Conference 2014 – the deadline for submissions is February 14 2014. 

Click here for more information on submissions.

 

This blog post was written by Eleanor Tallon, Digital Marketing Assistant and Paula Connor, Digital Marketing Manager, Dara Creative. You can contact Paula at pconnor@daracreative.ie

As the New Year unfolds, you may need to develop your digital marketing strategy.  

Strategy and Positioning
Taking the time to do some up to date international competitor research is an essential part of planning for global expansion. What you thought you once knew about your industry may not be relevant now: 90% of all data in the world has been created in the last 2 years.

We suggest an analysis of the market and your competitors to review their brands, websites and key messages. You also need to determine your value proposition for customers and then you can create the perfect strategy for your business online.

Goals
You have to be clear on what your goals are. Then you can be more realistic about what budget and resources you need to dedicate to achieve your objectives.

Do your offline goals correlate with your online goals? You need to make sure that you are taking a strategic approach so that on and offline messages are clear for your target audience.

Have you a clear vision of the results you want to see from your website, are they email sign ups, enquiries or sales conversions? Do you have landing pages for fulfilling these goals?

Your Website
First and foremost, is your website up to scratch?

Can visitors navigate easily or do they get frustrated and drop off? Are they being brought to the right page? User Experience is an important factor to consider whether or not you’re expanding to new markets. As noted in our responsive design blog, 57% of people drop off if they can’t find what they are looking for within 3 seconds.

Your Website Content
If you’re exploring a new market where the main language isn’t English, have you considered translation and localisation costs? While Google Translate may seem like an inexpensive and quick solution, it isn’t the best. By hiring a professional localisation expert you’re showing that you care about your visitors. Some phrases may sound great in English but may not translate well or lose their meaning completely.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
This can be divided into two: search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC). SEO is the process of optimising your website for keywords your visitors search for and implementing best practice processes so Google rewards your website. It is something that every website should have as it makes your website easier to find.

PPC should be used in tandem with your SEO efforts. As well as directing traffic towards your website, PPC can give you a good insight into how your website is being found. For the ads, you choose keywords that you would like to target and then pay every time someone clicks on the ad.

Social Media Marketing
We all know that social is huge, whether you’re B2C or B2B. While Facebook is predominantly the most popular social network globally, other social networks are coming in a close second such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Badoo. Knowing which networks are the most popular is important but you have to consider if your audience are actually there and how engaged they are.

Monitoring and Measurement
An important part of any digital marketing strategy is regularly monitoring how your site is doing. Google Analytics, once set up properly, is a great free tool for gaining insights into how your visitors behave on your website. By setting up goals you can see how well your Call to Actions (CTAs) are performing. In addition to Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools should also be set up to ensure that your website ticks all of Google’s boxes.

Resources and Budget
Consider your resources: People, time and money.

Creating a coherent strategy is paramount but if you are already busy working on targeting the Irish market, do you realistically have time for international marketing too? Do you speak the language? Will your budget stretch?

You’ll need to be strategic and focus on return on investment. We all need to demonstrate results to the boss so make sure you are getting bang for your buck. If you achieve your targets you can make the case for more resources to continue the global expansion plan for your business.

For more information please contact Paula Connor, Digital Marketing Manager, Dara Creative pconnor@daracreative.ie

 

lead nurturing1

 

This article was written by Michael White, co-founder and Managing Director of Motarme, the Marketing Automation vendor www.motarme.com  for Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit.

Are you converting enough of your sales leads to customers?  A US study by the CMO Council estimated that companies waste up to 80% of sales leads because they don’t follow them up effectively.  Sales teams do a good job pursuing hotter leads that look like they will buy in the next quarter.  But a lot of other contacts are lost, ignored or discarded.

 

Lead Nurturing”  is a way to automate your follow-up so that more of your sales leads become customers.  You can convert an extra 20% to 30% of your leads by automating your follow-up this way, and it has other benefits too, like more efficient use of your sales team’s time.

In this post I’ll look at how to get your first Lead Nurturing program up and running.

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing means automating communications, usually via email, with your sales leads.  The goal is to keep your company ‘front of mind’ with prospects until they are ready to engage with your sales team.  You define a chain of communications you want to send out to leads and specify the time intervals between each email or call. Then you automate the sequence using a marketing automation tool or your CRM (if it supports nurturing). lead nurturing2

Goals and Principles

The main goal of lead nurturing is to convert more leads to sales by being consistent in the way you follow-up.  I think it is also useful to set out some principles before you start lead nurturing for your company, spelling out what you want to achieve:

1. Ensure we respond to all leads (i.e. that none of them go un-contacted).

2. Make sure this response happens faster than at present (e.g. minutes or hours rather than days).

3. Ensure we respond to all leads consistently.

4. Ensure this response is based on information we have about the lead (who they are and what they show interest in).

5. Ensure that our lead nurturing communications convert leads to customers – that each communication increases their engagement, not decreases it.

6. Record sufficient information about how we manage leads so that we can analyze our activities and draw accurate conclusions about how to improve our approach.

Getting Started – Lead Capture

The first step is to make sure you capture leads from your website and blog. (This is because four of the five top sources of sales leads are online, according to research from DemandBase and Focus.com).  You set up lead capture using registration forms next to “calls to action” on your web pages. For example, you can ask visitors to register their email address in exchange for a white paper or video.  When they register you automatically record their details.  Marketing Automation systems take care of this for you. lead nurturing3

Score Your Leads

Some leads are more likely to convert than others.  For example, you may find that leads from particular industries or countries are better quality. A lead score is a number you use to represent how ‘hot’ you think the lead is.  You base the score on a mixture of information you can gather about the person (such as their job title and company) and on their subsequent behaviour (such as repeat website visits and response to emails).  A lot of this information can be gathered automatically. lead nurturing4

Categorize the Leads as “Personas”

You can categorize your leads into different “Buyer Personas”.  A persona is a simplified description of your target buyers. For example, one of your target personas could be “IT Managers at Engineering firms”, or “Finance Directors at mid-size software firms”.  Different personas will have different interests.  When a new lead is created, you decide what kind of persona matches that lead.  This helps you choose what kind of information they will be interested in during your follow-up. lead nurturing5

Choose What Kind of Content to Use for Lead Nurturing

Content is just another word for information that your buyers use when they are researching a product or service. Content includes case studies, white papers, presentations and videos.  Your sales leads will be interested in different kinds of content depending on their role, their business and their stage in investigating a product or service.  Typically prospective customers move from “awareness”, “interest” and “evaluation” through to “decision”.  As they learn more they require different types of information.  For example, at an early stage a general overview of a product might be useful.  As someone gets closer to making a purchase decision they may want to see technical specifications and pricing information.

Use a ‘Content Table’ to map out the kinds of content you think will appeal to the Personas you are targeting as they move through the buying process. lead nurturing6

Setting Up Your First “Nurture Tracks”

A Nurture Track is a sequence of emails and phone calls executed to a pre-defined schedule. For each persona map out which emails and content you want to send and specify the delay between mails. For instance, for a “Sales Director” persona you can start with a ‘Thank You’ email, followed by sending them a link to a white paper. Then a week later you could send out a link to a blog post or case study. lead nurturing7

You can automate these follow-up steps using a marketing automation system.  Now as people register on your website the system automatically scores them and allocates them to a nurture track, and they receive a predefined sequence of emails.  Where a phone call is required the system will notify your sales or marketing staff who they have to call and when.

Monitoring Progress

Once you get up and running you can check how your leads respond to your nurture.  For example, are they opening the emails and responding to your offers? If they respond positively e.g. by visiting your website and downloading more content then you can automatically increase their lead score.  Your goal is to get them to a point where they become “sales ready” i.e. they fit your target profile, they have shown serious engagement with your emails and website and they have given some indication that they are in a buying process.

As you monitor your nurture tracks you will find that some emails work and others don’t. Identify emails or content that get a good response and eliminate emails that don’t get opened.

Automate Your Follow-Up to Convert More Leads

Lead Nurturing is a straightforward way to convert more sales leads.  By defining your target buyers, identifying content that interests them and then running a series of automated emails, you can increase sales conversions by 20% to 30%.  Getting started now could give you an edge over your competition.

This article was written by Michael White, co-founder and Managing Director of Motarme, the Marketing Automation vendor (http://www.motarme.com/product/lead-nurturing/)  for Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit.

International SEO

This article was written by Rob Hough, Digital Marketing Specialist with Dara Creative (a design & web consultancy offering branding, web design and development and digital marketing) for Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit.

 

Considering a Global Expansion in 2014? International SEO can be a tricky business that raises many questions when you are trying to cater for different target audiences across the world. A lot of our clients are either in the export business already or planning to export in 2014. We’ve taken the opportunity to take a deeper look at some of the considerations for International SEO.

Regrettably, the greatest route to take for optimisation can be often unclear. Not everyone can manage their hosting or even afford it in other countries, nevermind managing multiple sites with different languages and content strategies. Most of the time, it comes down to making a good decision for your visitors, company and budget by collecting as much info as possible.

So how would you encourage each of the search engines to have you on a country-by-country level in their international rankings? Google has various ccTLD’s (country code top level domains) for example .ie for Ireland or .co.uk for the United Kingdom. They provide search results that are targeted for specific countries and in each country’s native language.

Bing uses an alternate approach. They use www.bing.com and set language and location cookies instead of separate ccTLD  (country code top level domains) domains. Even though you and I would probably use Google (which is cited to to hold around 85-90% of the entire global search market), Yandex its search engine of choice in Russia, it’s Baidu and 360 search in China, and Yahoo in Japan. All search engines have their own set of practices and ranking factors so besure to read their guidelines. To view the top search engine used by different countries, take a look at Web Certain’s Search and Social Report.

Keeping all the above in mind, let me share some common ranking factors to consider for international SEO.

1. Country Code Top Level Domains, Subfolder, or Subdomain?

ccTLDs or local domains we shall call them here are the common option for international SEO if you think that your site over time will be able to produce competitive authority building on the web and be updated with regular additions of interesting content.

If your site doesn’t have a lot of authority compared to other local sites in your niche or you are just starting out, then switching to or using the subfolder strategy might work better. Since each language or country still needs its own links and content, they might benefit from a wide authority domain for example www.yourbrandname.com. Later you could switch to the local domain strategy.

Here are some examples of different domain set-ups one can have:

  • Country Code Level Top Domain (ccTLD) – www.yourbrandname.ie
  • Sub Folder – www.yourbrandname.com/uk
  • Sub Domain – uk.yourbrandname.com

It is important to note that in some countries, users prefer to click on a local domain as opposed to a sub-folder results page because of the trust that is (unconsciously) given to them.

2. Target Languages or Countries?

So, should you group them up by language or target individual countries? Google tends to favour targeting individual countries. In general, I would recommend targeting individual countries. There is of course exceptions to this, which is if your audience are in many different countries then it would be more practical to go the subfolder route instead of local domains.

Make sure you target each countries site, subdomain and subfolder geographically with Google Webmaster Tools or whatever search engine you are submitting to.

 3. Language Meta Tag

Meta tags are used to give Google more information about the pages on your site.

<meta name=”language” content=”language”>

Even though Bing doesn’t offer geo-targeting, it will utilise language meta tags. If your site has multiple languages ensure they are properly set up for each language on every page on your site.

4. Written Language

Language is critical to the success or failure of  international content. From grammar to phrasing and keywords, all this has an impact on successful SEO. You cannot just use a simple online translator and just copy the new text into your ccTLD website. Always perform keyword research in the native language in order to get the best phrases and keywords for that country.

Write it all again for each individual country, even if they’re not actually different languages. This might be obvious when translating a French site into Spanish, but remember that US English differs from UK English. At the start of September Google announced Hummingbird, the latest update to its algorithm. This update means that you will have to focus more on how your audience is using keywords in phrases and the context they’re using it in. Local phrases improve usability and boost long tail SEO which, because of Hummingbird, is Google’s new focus.

5. Location of Hosting

Although physical location is not as important today as it used to be it is still a factor for engines ranking your website geographic location. If you can manage to host from your local area, you should consider it.

6. Local Content

Always make use of local contact information and addresses, if possible use machine-readable format like Schema.org. Include local case studies or stories with names and pictures from each country. Modifying content for individual markets or countries makes it more appropriate, which will increase link-building opportunities locally and minimize duplicate content.

7. Usability and Design

On the topic of usability, various countries favor different design aesthetics. It may not be enough to simply recreate your website in another language. Alongside a local web designer whose speciality is the target country, look over each website carefully.

8. XML Sitemaps

Make sure to register the XML sitemap with each search engine. If subfolders are used, make separate sitemaps for all targeted countries and register them with Google Webmaster Tools as separate websites.

 9. Local Search Registration

Keep in mind that you need to register all sites with Bing Business Portal, Google Places and other local equivalents.

 10. Local Activity: Votes & Reviews, Mentions, and Links

Even though most of the techniques I went through are considered on site SEO, the best show of authority will be from off site. Links that come from within the country matter the most.

Search engines are also increasingly looking for social signals from around the globe. Are you linking to local sites in the countries you are targeting? Is your brand on review websites being reviewed? Are the residents talking about your site or brand on social networks? You need to ensure an off-site SEO plan for your targeted market areas.

This article was written by Rob Hough, Digital Marketing Specialist with Dara Creative (a design & web consultancy offering branding, web design and development and digital marketing) for Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit.

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