Are you going to the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago?
Stop by and visit StrikeIron at Booth 564 and learn how our Data Quality and Communications solutions can help your e-commerce business.
You can also reserve your meeting time at: http://offers.strikeiron.com/irce2012/
See you there!
Leveraging the Cloud to verify addresses is easy to do and can pay significant dividends. Incorrect shipping addresses, address typos in Web forms, "return to sender" stamps, prospects who never receive marketing materials, and customers who don't get communicated to can all be a thing of the past simply by integrating a single line of validation code wherever address data is collected, either electronically or by humans. Address verification represents one of the best examples of how to leverage a cloud service to provide value internally to an organization with very little effort.
The United States Post Office (as do other postal entities around the world) publishes updates to their master physical address databases monthly. These updates capture all of the new houses that are being built, new businesses that emerge, the launching of new zip codes, and all of the other address additions, updates, and deletions that occur throughout the U.S. on an ongoing basis. Utilizing this master reference data as a validation source can ensure the accuracy of all collected addresses, comparing those collected to a master list in real-time (a millisecond across-the-Web check). This is something you definitely want to do as the address is collected, as waiting to fix bad addresses downstream can far more costly.
Obtaining, managing, and updating this verification reference data in the raw for an organization that wants to put it to use for maximum address accuracy can be a quite difficult exercise to undertake on their own however, and most often can only be done at considerable cost, requiring hardware, software, personnel, and time. And shortcut approaches that try to leverage this data without the frequent updates can be an absolute disaster.
This is where StrikeIron and the Cloud come in. We acquire and update the reference data from various third parties as frequently as they allow, maintain the data in our data centers within our multi-tenant, high performance delivery platform, have built and perfected intelligent algorithms to handle address matching ambiguity (a straight, raw lookup won't work), and provide interfaces to these verification algorithms available in multiple protocols (SOAP, REST, HTTP Secure) so they can easily be integrated into any business process, application, Web site, or even mobile device. We pull all of this together, productize it, and deliver it as simple, easy-to-use plug-and-play Web services API. A single line of code from any platform is all it takes to tap into these algorithms that are living out on the Web. And like all good Cloud services, all of the details are abstracted away.
Best of all, our solutions are usage-based in cost, so you don't have to bet the farm just to get started, and you can always start small. And, free trials are available, so we can gain your trust before you subscribe. Give it a try today!
As you think about improving the quality of data within your organization, here are four quick and simple yet key tips that will assist in your approach and strategy on your way to success:- Think of data as a strategic asset.
Collecting and storing data alone is not enough. There must be a proactive plan in place to ensure that the data serving as the basis of decision-making, operations, and customer communication is treated as a strategic valuable asset. Effectively managing the quality, accuracy, and usability of this data on an ongoing, every day basis can translate into dramatic revenue opportunities and significant cost-saving efficiencies. - Consistency is as important as accuracy.
Accurate data is important, but so is consistency. Inconsistent representations of the same data content (such as variations of a company name, a lead source appearing six different ways, etc.) throughout data tables can make data very hard to analyze, and can even throw off analytics and business intelligence processes. This can result in decision-making (such as where to deploy marketing assets) based on faulty data points. A focus on data consistency can reduce the incidence of this substantially.- Data quality is far cheaper transactionally.
Improving the quality of data at the point of data collection (A Web form or via a call center representative) is much more inexpensive than waiting for broad data quality issues to appear downstream that must be addressed en masse. The cost difference can sometimes even be a factor of ten. Also, in the downstream case, considerable use of inaccurate and incomplete data might already have occurred. Validating the accuracy of data before
it ever gets into core customer databases is very important.- Data quality is about more than technology
Tools can only do so much. Incentive programs for capturing complete and accurate data (such as bonuses for 98% or greater accurate customer data point collection) can go a long way in better, more valuable organizational data, as well as education in the importance of data as a key strategic asset across business units, not just IT. Any comprehensive data quality plan built for success will involve the entire organization.
Last week, the world's largest online retailer Amazon.con agreed to start collecting sales tax in Texas and Nevada. According to its website, the etailer currently collects taxes in the following five states: Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington.
The days of Amazon not collecting state sales tax could eventually come to an end, whether due to state-by-state or federal legislative changes. We may soon be paying sales tax on all Internet purchases.
There is no better time than now to implement a sales tax calculation Web service. Why? First, it eliminates all the guesswork when it comes to determining sales tax rates. Due to ever-changing tax legislation, calculating rates can be tricky and time consuming. By integrating a sales tax Web service on an ecommerce site you have fast, easy access to the most current rates and taxability rules for all U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions. Automating sales tax calculations, especially when it is so easy to do and without any ongoing tax rate data maintenance (rates are updated automatically), means time and cost efficiency for your organization.
Secondly, a sales tax Web service is not only important for operational efficiency, but it is vital for customer satisfaction. If you aren't calculating sales tax properly as part of an online purchase, then don't assume it will go unnoticed. See the Tweet below where we responded to someone upset with PUMA charging the wrong tax rate:
We recommend utilizing a real-time sales tax calculation Web service that allows customers to instantly see their calculated sales tax rate. There are various solutions that get very granular, depending on the ZIP code.
Another shoe retailer, New Balance, is a customer of ours. We like how they have integrated the Web service into their shopping cart. Customers can quickly determine the rate they will be paying before checkout:
Integrated sales tax Web services are extremely beneficial for ecommerce businesses. They make it easy to calculate rates and remit payments, allowing etailers to focus on other issues besides the ongoing tax legislation.
Get started now with a free trial of StrikeIron's sales tax solutions.
The average person responds to an SMS text message in 90 seconds and average email in 90 minutes. SMS marketing is an excellent way to break through the noise and create a true 1:1 engagement with your customers and prospects.
78% of the world’s population has one or more mobile phones and nearly all cell phones in use today support SMS text messaging. It’s no wonder that savvy marketers are turning to SMS to get both broad coverage and intimacy of message.
However, doing SMS text messaging campaigns right in a non-intrusive, engaging way that adds value to your customers is tricky.
StrikeIron has been providing an easy-to-integrate SMS text messaging platform to our customers for years and has learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t.
Here are our top 3 tips for creating a compelling, engaging campaign:
1) Know when to start. Sending random offers to prospects and customers that aren’t expecting it is a sure way to get a high percentage of opt-outs (and complaints). Be mindful about the entire customer lifecycle and how you can best inject SMS messaging into that timeline. For example, getting a customer to opt-in after a purchase for shipment notifications and marketing promotions is a great way to demonstrate to the customer how you will add value through improved order visibility, before using the channel for marketing purposes.
2) Know what to send. The specific offers that resonate with a particular segment of customers are going to vary drastically. Take advantage of your internally collected data, as well as contact information append and enhancement services to properly segment your audience. Most importantly measure, iterate, and improve based on the efficacy of each campaign to each segment.
3) Integrate into your full workflow. SMS messaging should be an ongoing communications channel between you and your customer. Don’t just do one-off campaigns from a SMS marketing tool, but rather integrate into your entire customer experience. Platforms like StrikeIron’s SMS Gateway provide easy to integrate access to the cellular subscribers in the US and worldwide that can easily be integrated into any system including marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, websites, eCommerce platforms, point-of-sale systems, fulfillment systems, and more.
SMS bulk text messaging is a great way to break through the noise and reach your customers and prospects…if you manage it correctly. By following the tips above and using common sense in creating and executing your SMS marketing campaigns, you can turn text messaging into a powerful, customer relationship tool.
For more information on SMS marketing, read the SMS, King of Mobile Messaging whitepaper.
We all have noticed it, especially if you have a consumer email account like Yahoo!, AOL, or Gmail. Emails that you subscribed to, and are interested in reading, are being filtered into your SPAM or Bulk folders. The same may hold true for your email campaigns. Email Scrubbing, otherwise known as email verification or email validation, can help you stay out of the SPAM folder and in front of your customers.
The February 2012 release of the Symantec Intelligence Report reveals that 68% of all email is SPAM. This number has fallen significantly over the past year but it still means that 2/3 of emails sent are junk mail. Needless to say, email providers, companies, and security vendors continue to be very aggressive with their SPAM filtering algorithms.
So how do you, a legitimate email marketer, ensure you don’t mistakenly end up in the SPAM folder? You have to manage your reputation. Just like your friends, family, and community will base your reputation on your honesty and trustworthiness, email servers will also base the deliverability of your messages on your reputation.
Here is the top 5 tips to you can use to manage your reputation and make sure your emails land in the inbox.
1) List quality – This is very low hanging fruit. By running your list through an email scrubbing service, like StrikeIron’s Email Verification, you can clean email bounces which are a key criteria in deliverability and reputation scoring. Also, if you use an ESP, too many bounces will force them to shut down your account.
2) List acquisition – Make sure your list is acquired legitimately. Focus on good, valuable, organic list building and avoid email lists as they have a good chance of being littered with bad addresses and honeypots.
3) Permission to Send - Make sure your users give you permission. Make sure your subscribers have opt’d in and understand what you will be sending and when. It is easy for users to click the Report Spam button, and they often do if your message is not expected.
4) Content – Make sure your content is valuable and not spammy. If the email provider filters find content that has the right triggers, your message may get filtered. Also, if users don’t like your content they will be tempted to click the Report Spam button.
5) Frequency – Make sure to keep up a reasonable cadence in sending your messages. Send to few and subscribers may forget about you and click the Report Spam button. Send too many and they will unsubscribe, or worse, click the Report Spam button.
Much of running a successful email marketing campaign is common sense. Follow the 5 rules above and email marketing will become one of the most valuable tools in your marketing toolbox. Remember, at a minimum, to acquire your lists legitimately, and keep them clean with an Email Scrubbing solutions like StrikeIron’s Email Verification.
We are very excited to announce today that StrikeIron's IronCloud powers the DataFlux's Marketplace. DataFlux, a SAS subsidiary, is the leader in data quality, data integration, and MDM solutions.
Tony Fisher, president and CEO of DataFlux, said, “The ability to deliver data quality capabilities via the cloud keeps DataFlux ahead of the innovation curve. We are pleased to join forces with StrikeIron to provide cloud-based data quality solutions.”
The full release can be found at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9457590.htm
For the Dataflux Marketplace release can be found at: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120501006204/en/DataFlux-Marketplace-Cloud-based-Services-Improve-Customer-Data
So what are you waiting for, signup for a free trial and see what StrikeIron can do for your business: