A recent ComputerWorld article mentioned how Mohawk Fine Papers uses cloud-based services to sell its products on Amazon.com. The company has generated tens of thousands of dollars by creating business processes in the cloud.
Mohawk discovered our Foreign Currency Exchange Rates Web service. This Web service provides "up-to-date currency exchange rates to Mohawk's on-premises ERP system at the time of invoice for international orders." It easily keeps track of foreign exchange rates for 160 currencies. This service provides both current (updated every 30 minutes) and historical foreign exchange rates.
Mohawk cites recent projects, including the one with StrikeIron, responsible for "producing new revenue opportunities and millions of dollars in savings."
Thanks to low cost and short integration time, cloud-based Web services make it possible to reap big benefits.
What are your thoughts? Is this really the end of massive IT architectures?
SAP Business ByDesign
is a comprehensive, integrated SAAS business management suite that can run the entire information chain of a business, including financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service and supply chain.
In its partnership with SAP, StrikeIron helps deliver additional functionality to the Business ByDesign offering in the form of pre-integrated SOAP-based Web services and SAP's "enterprise mashup" capabilities. This enables end user personalization and key user adaptation without requiring development skills.
In the following screencast, you can see a demonstration that utilizes StrikeIron's Cloud-based Reverse Phone and Address Lookup Web Service
, integrated into SAP's Business ByDesign product by the SAP team. The entire workflow is demonstrated:
Be sure to turn up the volume!
The largest online shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday, is on its way. The growth of this unofficial shopping holiday, and the growth of e-commerce sites has been driven over the past decade by one factor: convenience.
Instead of battling mobs of shoppers in crowded malls, circling the lot to try and find a parking space, consumers are attracted to the ease and opportunity of ordering products and services from their home and having those items delivered quickly, easily, and cheaply.
If you want a successful e-commerce business, you need StrikeIron’s data verification solutions in place to address inefficiencies associated with traditional customer information collection.
Bad Data Means Short-Term Problems
Most e-commerce sites rely on customers to input shipping and billing information. Unchecked, this regularly translates into incorrect mailing addresses and phone numbers, and invalid email accounts. The resulting errors are considerable, with orders arriving to wrong destinations and the additional costs associated with returns and reshipping. These problems drain profits and prevent employees from carrying out their jobs and the company’s mission.
Bad Data Hinders Long-Term Relationships
As if lost profits and productivity weren’t enough, poor data collection and management keep companies from developing extended company-consumer relationships past the initial purchase. If a customer enters an invalid email address, the retailer has no way to pass along information regarding future sales, promotions, or special offers. This becomes the long tail of bad data because it significantly reduces opportunities for future customer revenue. And to add insult, companies with invalid customer email addresses are more likely to be branded as a spammer.
Good Data Verification With a Simple Line of Code
Traditional, in-house data management tools are available, but they require significant start-up and maintenance costs, time, and resources to use. And after all of that, they’re not always accurate.
Cloud-based services, such as StrikeIron’s powerful contact verification tools, can easily be integrated into e-commerce sites, often with a simple line of code. Unlike traditional tools, cloud-based data verification solutions require little time to use. They provide instant results that are extremely accurate at an affordable price. All of our solutions have free trials so give it a try today!
Tell us what you think about data quality on your e-commerce site.
When Oracle releases version 7.1 of its NetBeans IDE, 8 different StrikeIron Web Services APIs will be pre-integrated into the development environment. This makes it easy to build applications that leverage StrikeIron functionality and its real-time data sources. All of the underlying data sources are updated and maintained within StrikeIron's data center utilizing its IronCloud platform. Since the interfaces, behavior, and data structures are the same across all of StrikeIron's APIs, it makes it very easy to build sophisticated applications that leverage these external data sources, and without the corresponding cost traditionally associated with procuring, updating, and maintaining these data sources internally.
The 8 services to be included are:
Foreign Currency Exchange Rates (160 currencies updated every 30 minutes)
North American (US & Canada) Address Verification (CASS & SERP)
Global Address Verification (240+ countries)
IP Address Lookup
Reverse Phone Lookup
SMS Text Message Alerts (Supports 600 carriers in 60+ countries)
Sales and Use Tax Rates Complete (US & Canada)
Using the IDE, these Web services can easily be integrated into Web applications, business processes, Websites, and enterprise software applications, and anywhere else where SOAP-based Web services can be consumed.
Version 7.1 including the integration will be released soon. The nightly development build of the NetBeans IDE 7.1 that includes these services can however be downloaded and installed now from here: http://bits.netbeans.org/download/trunk/nightly/
Keep your customers wanting more. That’s something every business craves, because it leads to more revenue and greater profits. But creating stickiness, brand equity, and a strong and loyal customer base requires regular contact between your company and its customers.
Before that can happen, the real work begins by capturing accurate customer contact information at the point of sale.
Email, direct mail, a combination of platforms and services -- your company has choices for customer outreach, but sustained interaction requires the utilization of data verification tools to provide your company with increased collection efficiency, better accuracy, and reduced costs because of data errors.
Accurate Point-of-Sale Collection
Make it simple, get it right. StrikeIron's phone, email, and address verification services are an easy solution for retailers looking to improve the point-of-sale collection accuracy of customer contact information. They’re real-time, cloud-based and integrate directly with POS terminals. That allows your company to quickly validate, verify, and capture correct customer data automatically. No more tedious, time-consuming process of manually entering information into a database.
The StrikeIron solution allows multiple points of user information to be accessed by simply entering a customer’s phone number. Employee time spent per customer is cut down, and from the customer’s point of view they can exit the checkout process much more quickly.
Missing Data = Missed Opportunities
Verification is the key component to improving customer data quality, and verification lessens the impact of e-commerce systems that are inconsistent and capture error-ridden data through archaic, manual processes at the point of sale.
Verification is the foundation on which those long-term customer relationships are built, relationships that generate incremental revenue. Tremendous opportunity costs are incurred by failing to invest in data quality because relationship-based selling hinges on digital communications and is one of the most successful sales and nurturing paradigms.
Simply put, people like to buy from friends, and friends communicate on digital platforms.
Lower Marketing Costs, Higher Stickiness
Data verification services allow retailers to cut down on wasted costs associated with incorrect information. By verifying a customer's address, you ensure that your direct mailings reach their intended audience. Although emails that bounce have a negligible physical cost associated with them, they have an additive effect that can decrease future account wide email deliverability, which carries huge opportunity costs. Verifying email addresses prior to sending reduces bounce rates, makes it less likely to be marked as a spammer, and reduces future opportunity costs. Finally, having valid phone numbers allow you to reach customers for post sales interactions, like customer satisfaction surveys, that improve customer engagement and loyalty.
No matter your business, collecting accurate customer data is important to success. For retailers, it is critical.
StrikeIron research has shown that investing in phone, email, and address verification services can increase the ability to accurately contact consumers by 90 percent. The more effectively and efficiently you create those interaction opportunities between your company and its customers, brand loyalty increases.
Keep your customers wanting more.
Much of cloud computing terminology is based on the notion of ‘as a Service’ (or ‘aaS’).
The ‘as a Service’ tag has migrated to several new uses. Here is my attempt at a set of definitions (and please comment if you disagree):
- SaaS (Software as a Service) – I mainly see this as an application that runs in the cloud and requires the user to download no (or very little, maybe a browser plugin) software to use the application. (e.g. SalesForce, Cisco WebEx, Google Apps)
- DaaS (Data as a Service)* – This is providing data over the cloud either as the result of a query (is the email address firstname.lastname@example.org valid) or involving a data transformation (correct the address 101 First Ave, Mytown, NC 2513). (e.g. StrikeIron!)
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) - Providing a platform for running applications, data storage abstraction, etc. One step up the software stack then IaaS (e.g. Google App Engine, Force.com/Heroku, PHP Fog)
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) – Providing a virtual machine and storage mechanisms that can be loaded with operating systems and software (custom, open source, commercial, etc). (e.g. Rackspace, Amazon AWS, GoGrid)
There are some proprietary aaS’s as well. My favorite is HP’s Everything as a Service. I am not sure what this really is but it sounds impressive.
Clear as mud? There is certainly some overlap between the different technologies but at the end the trend is clear. Leverage the efficiencies of scale, lower the barrier of entry, and speed up the time for implementation.
*DaaS can also refer to “Desktop as a Service” and “Database as a Service” in several sources.
Organizations collect leads in many different ways. Leads are collected when prospects respond to offers, fill out forms in websites, or send email inquiries. Leads can occur simply by word of mouth or other lead capturing tools as well.
Once a database of leads has been created, what can be done to improve the value of this asset that helps drive all future sales? How can the data be leveraged to optimize the time of the sales organization before they receive these leads?
There are 3 main ways to improve the value of lead data:
The first is to eliminate bogus or phantom leads. One way to do this is by validating the existence of email addresses for leads. This not only removes obvious fake email addresses, but also filters email addresses from domains that are not operational and have been turned off or cannot accept email. Other data such as phone numbers or mailing addresses can also be used for lead validation. Lead filtering such as this can prevent the sales organization from wasting valuable time on these phantom leads. It can also reduce spend for marketing campaigns and keep an organization off of spam lists.
Secondly, improving the quality of lead data is also important. This means ensuring that phone numbers are correct, addresses are accurate and do not contain typos, any missing information like zip codes or area codes is added, and correcting anything else that require members of the sales team to waste time chasing down a lead. Incomplete or inaccurate information and associated lost time hinder a sales force from understanding and meeting the needs of actual prospects.
Third and finally, appending additional information to each lead can help provide data points that can be used for segmentation, personalization, localization, and other forms of targeted marketing. For example, appending latitude and longitude data can help with market visualization and opportunity identification. Combining that data with census and other demographic information help score leads for sales to prioritize opportunities.
Sales leads are the lifeblood of revenue generation. The smart organizations recognize that and treat them as such.
In a report last week, the Open Data Center Alliance published that its members plan to triple Cloud deployments in the next two years according to a recent membership survey. This significantly outpaces the adoption forecasts from several different analyst firms and is another indicator where the I.T. industry is headed.
Of course, there are different ways to measure Cloud adoption, and while adoption rates may always be debated, there is little question of the Cloud's growing significance in I.T. Even though some Cloud forecasts combine infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) with Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) and others keep them separate, in either case the trending is upward.
So here are four primary reasons why this trend is occurring and likely to continue for a long time to come:
- Cost. When deploying to the Cloud, one only has to deploy the needed I.T. resources at any given time. Capacity can be added or reduced as needed and whenever necessary. With this cost-savings "elastic" approach, usage spikes can be handled as well as increased resource demand over time. It's the difference between renting a server by-the-minute versus committing to two-year contracts with a data center provider at maximum capacity requirements. The latter, traditional approach front-loads application costs and requires significant capital expenditure. These heavy up-front costs go away in pay-for-what-you-use Cloud scenarios, including the ability to get things up and running more cheaply. Many startups deploying to the Cloud are spending less money on hardware and software investments than just a few years ago and getting up and running faster.
- Abstraction. Cloud deployments hide the details of the hardware, bandwidth resourcing, underlying software, load management, and ongoing maintenance of the given platform. This frees up resources to focus on one's own business rather than endless architecture meetings and decisions - unnecessary for a large majority of applications. This is why Salesforce.com has found success. Customers no longer have to deal with software upgrades for sales people, database choices, syncing data from laptops to servers, hardware deployment decisions, etc. It's just easier in a Cloud SAAS model.
- Innovation. An organization can leverage the innovation and expertise of those who specialize in a given Cloud-based platform such as within data-as-a-service offerings like StrikeIron provides. This continual innovation can be leveraged as a Cloud platform becomes more advanced without any effort of the organization's own resources. The platform improves daily, and these incremental improvements are put to use immediately for the benefit of customers and without company-wide software upgrades and rollouts. Instead, it's built-in and essentially automatic with the Cloud model. Another example is Amazon's EC2, where an increasing number of new features and capabilities can be leveraged without application redeployment.
- Platform Independence. When deploying to the Cloud, many different types of devices and clients can leverage the application via APIs or other interfaces, from PCs, tablets, smart phones, and other systems, as all communication between machines is via the ubiquitous Web, available just about any time anywhere. This makes interoperability easier, and extensive "middleware" investments of the past to make things work together can be dramatically reduced. This is one of the primary reasons why tablets such as the iPad for example have grown considerably in adoption now versus ten years ago – they work with the Cloud and can access a broad array of useful applications from just about anywhere.
These benefits of the Cloud aren't going away, and this is why the adoption trend is accelerating upward.
Affiliate marketing is much like the Wild West — full of digital cowboys, vigilantes and outlaws. White hat, black hat, and gray hat techniques abound, and there are myriad ways to win big in this industry.
StrikeIron works closely with several affiliate marketers. Many are combining digital and physical lead generation techniques, so every bounced email or returned flyer has an associated cost.
Efficiency is key. We’ve created a list of the affiliate marketers who we think are the fastest-growing, most-established, and most-exciting right now:
- Red Ventures is a Charlotte, N.C.-based direct marketing and lead generation firm, representing top brands like DirecTV. They have grown a highly effective business in lead generation and customer acquisition. The company owns hundreds of Web properties specifically for individual lead generation efforts. Red Ventures is as persistent and persevering as its CEO, Ric Elias, who was one of 155 survivors of the famous US Airways jet crash landing on New York's Hudson River.
- TranCos is a digital marketing and customer acquisition firm that works on behalf of some of the country’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Gap, and Kohls. It has been a regular feature on The Inc. 500 list and continues to push the bar in customer acquisition and lead generation.
- Prospectiv focuses on connecting brands and women online. For more than a dozen years, Prospectiv has specialized in customer acquisition. It has more recently expanded to launch Eversave, a national daily deal company. Propsectiv has shown the affiliate marketing industry that once you develop expertise in getting leads for others, great execution can lead to a booming lead generation business for your own properties.
- MediaTrust has seen more than 600% growth since its founding in 2006. The New York-based company — one worth continuing to watch — has developed a proprietary cost-per-action platform that it uses to help online performance marketing campaigns.
As affiliate marketing continues to evolve, look to these companies to innovate and develop successful techniques and best practices that lead.
Aggressive advertising and email list purchasing fueled the growth of daily deal juggernauts, such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Their revenue skyrocketed partly because it took an average of only 45 days to monetize an email address and recoup most or all of the cost associated with it. Affiliate marketers could earn more than $2.50 per email address, and list brokers who had emails (typically from retail) in the daily deal sweet spot were able to earn as much as $6 per email.
As the daily deal bubble appears on the verge of burst, there have been major mergers and acquisitions in the industry and the drama filled IPO of Groupon. Failing daily deal startups, affiliate marketers, and list brokers are now faced with the question of how to value their email lists. Buywithme and other large players developed statistical models that estimated the worth of a list by the validity of the email addresses, date of last email open, date of last email click, and prior purchase history. This is important because email addresses are now being thought of as an asset.
Although valuing this asset can be complicated, we have recommendations to maximize your email list’s value:
1. Use an email verification service to prove email validity. This is the first step in creating a value story for your email addresses prior to a sale. This serves as the foundation to sell a list. Sometimes called an “email escrow,” third party data providers like StrikeIron provide independent and nonbiased email verification to prove the validity of an email asset and can increase the profit per email address significantly.
2. Integrate real-time email verification into your forms¬. Most daily deal capture forms are one field and not double opt-in. This results from evidence that typically shows the shorter the form, the higher the conversion rates. To maintain form brevity and maximize form submissions while capturing accurate email addresses, integrating a cloud-based email verification platform like StrikeIron’s can be the best way to maximize real-time value—especially if you are monetizing the address prior to a sale.
3. Keep detailed data on email opens, clicks, and purchases. Due to the haste of technology development during the daily deal boon, many companies did not invest in technology pieces that could tie purchases to email addresses. This resulted in significant manual work on the backend. Keeping track of this will not only inform the ultimate buyer on the worth and strength of their email addresses, but it acts as a resource for your company, too. Companies such as Exact Target and Pinpointe have designed their email platform specifically for this purpose.
4. Append additional information to demonstrate value. Data services such as StrikeIron’s can communicate value by appending address, telephone, and financial information to email addresses and other pieces of data. This can drastically improve your value story in a sale.
A lead is the critical first stage of any sales process. It refers to an individual or company that has expressed interest in potentially buying a product or service offering.
The value of a lead is dependent upon accuracy. For example, how current and up-to-date is the contact information? Is there any data that is missing (i.e. a phone number or address)? Is some of the data simply wrong?
There are ways to ensure that you are fully receiving return on investment (ROI) on potential leads. Accurate, complete, and timely leads are more likely to drive the highest revenue and generate the greatest value to the sales organization. Therefore, investing in the quality of lead data can have a measurable and rewarding payoff.
One of the primary reasons many organizations come to StrikeIron is to enhance the value of their lead data. We can validate email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers in real-time. Our data quality solutions ensure a lead is accurate and complete (e.g. no missing or inaccurate contact lead data).
StrikeIron can also enhance customer data by providing demographic and lifestyle information. Essentially, we bring additional value to the lead. This means increasing the likelihood of turning that lead into a buying customer.
Thus, we have decided to attend ad:tech New York. This conference prominently features digital marketers who are buried in customer data. Many companies in the online space are aware of the value of a lead, whether it is being collected via a website or web form. However, it is important to be taking active measures to ensure you are getting the full potential value out of a lead.
Building off of the wild success of LeadsCon New York, we have decided to offer our iPad 2 promotion again. If you are attending ad:tech New York, be sure to learn more about our iPad 2 promotion and drop by Booth 2153 to see how to rev up the value of leads. Hope to see you there!