One of the features of StrikeIron's IronCloud platform is that it can accept invocations of Web services via multiple protocols including both SOAP and REST. This maximizes the audience of potential users and provides for a good deal of flexibility with multiple IDEs, coding styles, and platform implementations.
In addition to the support for SOAP calls within the platform (including SOAP Headers, SOAP parameter-based authentication, and SOAP w/ HTTP Secure) there is also support for accepting REST calls. This is achieved within the “Transformation” sub-system of our IronCloud platform, meaning we translate the REST call to its equivalent SOAP call before hitting the actual Web service living within our data centers, and then translate the response back to the REST format before it is sent back to the calling entity, and of course all within milliseconds.
Here is an example using REST with our North American Address Verification service, a Web API that validates the existence of any address in the United States or Canada, and then standardizes the address according to postal standards (as well as appending additional data such as county and latitude/longitude coordinates). The example below can be entered into any Web browser address line as-is (with the appropriate authentication - click the Free Trials button to the right or contact StrikeIron to get access) in order to get a response. You can then change parameter values for different addresses to get the different corresponding responses. You can also try other methods within any of our Web services following the same form (you have to change the parameters to match the method of course).
http://ws.strikeiron.com/NAAddressVerification6/NorthAmericanAddressVerificationService/NorthAmericanAddressVerification?LicenseInfo.RegisteredUser.UserID=***********&LicenseInfo.RegisteredUser.Password=******&NorthAmericanAddressVerification.AddressLine1=15501 Weston Parkway&NorthAmericanAddressVerification.AddressLine2=&NorthAmericanAddressVerification.CityStateOrProvinceZIPOrPostalCode=Cary NC&NorthAmericanAddressVerification.Country=US&NorthAmericanAddressVerification.Casing=UPPER
Because a REST call contains parameters including UserID and Password, we of course recommend to our users that these parameters be stored in a non-viewable config file and not the actual Web page source, or some other means of hiding credentials (within non-viewable code or within a database for example).
Have a REST-related question? Contact us at email@example.com Like a free trial? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreign exchange rate calculation is one of the necessary evils of doing business internationally. Studies have shown localizing currencies can increase sales by 30% on eCommerce sites. Even if you only charge customers (or are paying global vendors) in your native currency, at some point, you will find yourself calculating foreign exchange rates.
Although there are free foreign exchange rate services available on the web, it quickly becomes cumbersome to manually calculate rates. Also, many of the free services have terms and conditions that disallow commercial usage.
Finally, exchange rates are dynamic; changing by the hour so a real-time solution integrated into your work flow becomes critical. For example, the EUR to USD has fluctuated by almost 12% in the last 6 months!
There is an easier way. Foreign exchange rate APIs, like StrikeIron's Foreign Exchange Rate Web Service can be integrated into any application, are continuously updated, and can be used for commercial services.
There are many use cases for a foreign exchange rate API. Some customers use us in their eCommerce platforms to create real time conversions between currencies for checkout. Other customers use us in backoffice ERP and business intelligence solutions to understand the impact that foreign exchange rates have on their business.
Regardless of the use cases that fit your business, having the most accurate data for foreign exchange rates in over 160 countries is critical to ensure you are not losing money from inaccurate exchange rates. Click here to signup for a free trial of StrikeIron’s Foreign Exchange Rate Web Service , call us at +1 919.465.2266 ext 2 or email us at email@example.com
Data verification is a process where data is checked for accuracy and inconsistencies.
When it comes to your ecommerce business, customer data and data verification are of critical importance. Online businesses collect significant amounts of customer data on various points on their website like landing pages, shopping cart, etc.
If you aren’t utilizing data validation then it’s time to start. Here are 10 ways that data verification will impact your ecommerce business:
1. Prevent security fraud: Visitors interested in committing ecommerce fraud may provide falsified information. Data validation will help ward against stolen credit card information and identify theft. According to CyberSource, merchants lost $3.4 billion due to online fraud in 2011. Data verification prevents fraudulent information, since it checks that data is valid, sensible, reasonable, and secure before being processed.
2. Keep CRM database clean: No matter what CRM system you use, it can only be truly effective if clean, correct and useful data is being entered into it. Real-time data verification will ensure that your customer database stays clean from the get-go.
3. Save Time and Resources: Manually scrubbing and cleansing your customer database is time-consuming and costly. A better solution is to utilize real-time data verification tools that can instantly verify and validate your customer data. This frees up your company’s time and resources to work on other mission-critical projects. There is absolutely no margin for incorrect customer data, so leave data quality to the experts.
4. Eliminate undeliverable shipments: Ecommerce businesses should utilize data verification on shipping addresses. If you don’t, you are running the risk of losing your customers’ merchandise. See our infographic on the cost of undelivered mail. Address verification ensures your customers receive their orders in a timely manner.
5. Ensure e-receipts reach the inbox: If you’re an ecommerce vendor, it is imperative e-receipts are delivered to the right email address. Email verification will help with this.
6. Increase customer retention: Data verification on customer records (e.g. names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers) increases the ability to re-market through various channels. If you want to cross-sell and up-sell, then email, direct mail, and SMS marketing campaigns are critical. Without accurate customer data, campaigns don’t reach the intended target market. The result is no critical repeat business. Validate customer data and your marketing campaigns will increase in effectiveness.
7. Improve customer analytics: By collecting standardized data, ecommerce businesses can create more accurate insights about their customers. Our judgments are only as good as the data we draw from to make those judgments. Data validation is the process of ensuring that a program operates on clean, correct and useful data. As a result, you can make clearer conclusions and accurate representations from your customer set.
8. Enhance customer satisfaction: Errors frustrate the customer. It is all too easy for someone to unintentionally type incorrect information on your website. Consumers love online shopping for its speed and ease in reaching the checkout. However, it is these exact characteristics that cause customers to unknowingly “fat-finger” their email or phone number. These minor typing errors cause critical problems for ecommerce businesses. They make online shopping a burdensome process when shipments and e-receipts aren’t sent to the proper recipient (see points 4 and 5). This causes a customer service nightmare. What is the solution? Don’t rely on your customers to provide accurate data. Be a savvy merchant that is two steps ahead of the customer. Do not anger the consumer by waiting for problems to crop up. Instead, delight customers by verifying and validating contact data. Real-time solutions ensure that customer data is cleansed while they are still engaged on your website.
9. Enable Email Marketing: The first step to a successful email marketing campaign is a clean, deliverable email list to send to. See our blog entry on how to enhance your email marketing.
10. Increase Revenue: The bottom-line is that data verification works to improve ROI. No matter what you are selling online, accurate customer data is important. Real-time data validation tools ensure your site is optimized properly for first-time conversion and subsequent repeat business.
Aggregating Cloud services and adding value is not new. In fact, StrikeIron has been doing it since 2004 when we launched our Web Services Marketplace aimed at making it easy to integrate SOAP and REST-based APIs. What is new however is the term "Cloud Services Brokerage", which has come into the scene the past couple of years and is now becoming more and more commonplace by analysts, vendors, and enterprise IT professionals. It has evolved to contain much more of a "Cloud" focus than earlier service brokerage concepts, but the general premise and benefits are still pretty much the same.
The key idea is that multiple services are aggregated from multiple sources of data, and then delivered via a single point of entry. The "brokerage" handles integrating, customizing, governing, and otherwise normalizing the access to these data sources, all in an effort to reduce end-user complexity. This normalization not only extends to the interfaces, but also the data structures, service behavior, service responses, and the business models that dictate service usage.
This is all very important because of the breadth of data and data-driven business functions that are available out on the Web that can be put to use. Many of these data sources are commercial, but some of them are also public, and others are created in real-time. If leveraged, much of this third-party data can provide a tremendous value to the organization that can figure out how to make use of it, including within operations, to aid decision-making, and as an important component of sales and marketing campaigns.
However, in raw form, the data available out on the Web typically exists in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and formats, with an equal variability in business model to match, making it a very complex exercise to harness any of it. If you are familiar with the demise of UDDI, you know how important it is to overcome these challenges. These were not the tenants of UDDI upon its introduction, and as a result it receives very little consideration today.
Simplifying access to these rich data sources in a reliable, high-performance manner, on top of a multi-tenant delivery platform built to both manage and abstract the underlying complexity to the external data and data-related functions is the purpose of a Cloud Services Brokerage, and exactly what StrikeIron delivers. Providing consistent, easy, plug-n-play access to a normalized set of high value services, without the requirement of managing, updating, and otherwise maintaining the underlying data, is an important step in bringing the concept of the "The Great Data Highway" in to being. It is a modern approach to the distribution of data via the Cloud, and one that over 1600 StrikeIron customers can attest to.
ROI, or Return-on-Investment, is the most critical metric for email marketers. A key ingredient for increasing your ROI is email deliverability. Customer response drops off dramatically if your offers are filtered into the ‘bulk’ or ‘spam’ folder, and entirely if your message it not delivered at all. Additionally, deliverability issues are additive -- the more deliverability issues you have, the worse your deliverability will get. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. One of the most straightforward ways to improve deliverability is performing a data cleanse when acquiring the email addresses (before sending a campaign).
Data cleansing can occur at two points during the email marketing workflow.
1) Front End – Integrating data cleansing into your front end (e.g. web forms) enables you to protect bad data from entering your database, as well as prompts the customer for the correct information while they are still engaged.
2) Backend Database Cleansing – Once email addresses are in your system, you can integrate data cleansing solutions to help filter out the bad email addresses.
Invalid email addresses will directly affect your deliverability. In turn, deliverability will directly affect your ROI. Integrating a solution like StrikeIron’s Email Verification provides an easy, cost effective way to cleanse data on both front and back end.
Want to give it a try? Sign up for a free email verification trial
Savvy marketers know that direct mail is still a viable, profitable channel. How do you get the most bang out of your postal budget? A successful direct mail strategy hinges upon reducing postage costs, improving deliverability, and increasing responses.
The best way to achieve this is through USPS address verification, which will help clean up your direct mailing list of inaccurate and nonexistent mailing addresses. In addition, real-time address verification solutions confirm if addresses have all required elements (i.e. proper syntax).
With ever-increasing postage costs, it is important to think before you send out a direct mail campaign. By using a proactive solution that works in real-time, you ensure that no postage is wasted on undeliverable mail. In short, address verification solutions are critical for a cost-saving strategy, maximizing direct mail ROI.
By only using high-quality addresses, you enhance deliverability. Marketers get no value from mailings that do not reach their intended recipients. Be sure you are using all the available tools, such as USPS address verification, to make certain the addresses in your mailing lists are complete, correct, and current.
Lastly, mailing to a clean and accurate list helps response rates. In order to get optimal ROI, your content must engage and elicit a response. For a fool-proof direct mail strategy, remember to start and stay clean with USPS address verification. Once you have a pristine mailing list, then tailor messages and calls-to-action to the appropriate audience.
One question we often get asked about email scrubbing is how often customers should scrub their lists to ensure a high quality base of accurate email addresses.
The easy answer is we recommend scrubbing email lists at least quarterly since 30% of email addresses change annually.
Based on our experience with customers in a wide variety of verticals that use email marketing extensively, we have created our 'Best Practices for Email Scrubbing' questions to ask yourself on behalf of your organization:
1) Where did the original email addresses come from? - We encourage our customers to acquire email addresses through a transparent, opt-in process and to verify email addresses before they are entered into your database. This will reduce the frequency in which we would recommend email scrubbing occur.
2) How often are you emailing your list? - If you are emailing your list on at least a monthly basis, a quarterly email list scrubbing program is a great way to make sure you are frequently cleaning data. If you email your list less frequently, we encourage customers to perform email scrubbing prior to each email campaign (e.g. bi-monthly, quarterly). We also advise customers to not go more than six months without mailing your list.
3) How transient is your audience? - If you have historically seen a lot of email addresses bounce (or show up invalid if you are scrubbing your email lists today), then we recommend email scrubbing more frequently (e.g. bi-monthly or even monthly).
4) How troublesome has your list been previously? - Tied to #3, if you have had issues with email bounces and invalid addresses in the past, it is a good idea to perform email list scrubbing more frequently than quarterly.
We hope these questions help determine the right frequency for your unique situation.
If you would like to discuss with our customer success team to determine the best email scrubbing strategy for your team, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 919.467.4545 extension 2, or click the Contact Us button on the side.