For our customers – What Dirxion is doing during this pandemic

We thank everyone for their support through these challenging times. Dirxion’s top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our employees and business partners.

Like many companies, Dirxion has pivoted to working from home until further notice. Over the past few years, as a company, we have encouraged remote work and are well-equipped to make this transition. We are operating at full capacity and eager to help our community with its digital publishing projects.

Please be advised, many Dirxion employees will not be available through their office phones. If you need mobile contact information, feel free to ask account managers, production engineers and developers that you work with for this information. As always, you can reach everyone via email or text communications.

We wish you and your loved ones all the best.

It’s Time for the B2B Catalog to Reclaim its Respectable Place Online

Digital experience expectations are higher than ever and increasingly growing each year, yet according to Episerver’s 2019 Digital Experience report, almost a third (30%) of B2B marketers admit they deliver a poor digital experience.

We are seeing B2B buyers getting younger. Three-quarters of millennials are involved in — or even running — the decision-making process for B2B purchases for their organizations. This translates to a much larger percentage of online purchases, and to buyers who expect these transactions to be as convenient and reliable as the rest of their digitally-enhanced lives.

B2B brands have been slow to adopt user experience design as an important part in their marketing strategy, despite statistics that indicate its importance. A study from Forrester found that brands that prioritize customer experience outperform those who don’t on both stock price growth and total returns.

While B2B websites, in need of  sometimes extensive rebuilds, are often neglected, more and more B2B businesses are emphasizing their online catalogs as an opportunity to advance the customer experience and place products closer to the buyer’s hands. 

As we highlighted in 5 Reasons to Ditch your PDF Catalog… Sorta, your digital catalog is one of the easiest areas to uplevel the digital experience for your audience.

Yesterday’s digital catalogs were cumbersome, largely meant to replicate the tactile experience of flipping through a physical catalog. Features like page-flipping sound effects and zooming in/out were designed to transpose the physical catalog onto the computer monitor, but seem somewhat archaic in today’s digital-first world.  

Today’s digital catalog focuses less on physical replication and more on functional interaction. Page speed, content navigation, shareability, and connection to e-commerce. These are key considerations meant to maximize the experience and minimize steps to user task completion. For example, e-commerce integration is often an enormous friction point for users of yesterday’s B2B online catalogs. Today’s online catalog allows the user to add products found in a catalog directly to a shopping cart without moving off the catalog.

Part of Dirxion’s mission as digital catalog developers and experience designers requires us to bridge the gap between user needs and business goals and to move digital catalog technology forward. By doing so successfully, we help elevate the digital catalog medium into a contemporary marketing and sales channel, one worthy of new attention.

By paying attention to the customer’s interaction with digital catalogs, B2B marketers can elevate their companies’ customer experience to improve customer retention, referrals and eventually the bottom line. Because where there’s a brand providing a good catalog experience for clients, sales are sure to follow.

5 Ways to Promote Your Digital Catalog to Your Work-From-Home Clients

As the Coronavirus spreads around the world, public-health experts are encouraging people to engage in social distancing: The limiting of non-essential gatherings. And thanks to technology, many professionals can now work from home. 

With more of your clients now working from home — whether temporary or the new norm —   consider leveraging some of your other channels to promote your digital catalog to them.

Here are 5 ways to promote your catalog to the world (or at least your audience):

  1. Connect it to your website: Linking to your digital catalog from your website is a simple, yet highly effective piece of your overall digital marketing strategy. Just make sure that it is easy for users to find, preferably at the top, bottom or side of your home page.

    Additionally, you may consider adding links to popular pages within your catalogs to send users more directly to what they’re looking for.
  1. Add hyperlinks to your outgoing emails: Adding links to your email campaign or newsletter helps to engage your audience and drive traffic to your site. Links should be easy to identify and clearly labeled. More people are going to click your links if you make them easy to see and interpret. This means thinking about how you word your links, what colors you use, where you place them, and what you link to.
Links should be easy to identify and clearly labeled.
  1. Add buzz through social media: Great content engages people, generates buzz for your business, and does all sorts of wonderfully positive things for our businesses. And a new digital catalog is a great excuse to post about it through your social media channels. 
  1. Tear Pages: This Dirxion feature allows your sales and service teams to select and create their own custom collections and presentations with the pages of your digital catalogs. It’s a great way to place personalized content into the hands of your team to promote.
  1. Invite Customers to Share Your Content: Dirxion catalogs typically include an enhanced sharing feature within the interface. Invite your customers to share their favorite pages or the whole catalog to individual contacts or their whole network.
Dirxion’s Share Feature

Getting your digital catalog in front of your customer at the right moment can help THEIR business and YOUR business; a double-win at a time of otherwise business uncertainty.

1 Simple Hack to Test Your Digital Catalog’s SEO

Where do you go to hide a dead body?

Answer: Page 2 of Google search results.

By now, we all know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is critical to driving organic traffic to your website and bringing your website up in search engine page rank. 

However, have you thought about the importance of SEO for your online catalog? It’s not uncommon for brand or business owners to overlook their online catalog’s searchability.

Put your catalog to the SEO test

Use this easy hack to find out how well your online catalog is performing in today’s search results.

First, open an incognito browser tab. This is an important step. The private browsing mode allows you to browse online without using the existing cookies your browser typically stores to tailor or personalize the web content you see.

Now, head to Google and search your business name brand PLUS a specific product in your catalog. For example, “ACME” “Widget” or “Apple” “iPhone”. Using an incognito or private browser window will generate a true, uninfluenced reading of how your catalog comes up, or doesn’t, in a search.

Does your catalog bubble up to the surface?

Ideally, you should see your catalog appear in one of the first few organic positions of page 1 of your Google search. As you can see in the graph below, the first position will have the highest click-through rate (CTR), and each position after that has a lower CTR. Click rate for listings on page 2 and beyond tend to dry up to a trickle. In fact, according to Backlinko, only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page.

How close can you get to the product?

Once you locate your catalog in the search results (hopefully you do), click on it, then note where you are within the pages of your digital catalog. Did you land on a specific product page that contains the product you searched for or did you, instead, land on the front cover of the catalog? 

When your catalog is properly indexed, a “brand + product” search should bring your customer directly to the product page within the catalog that references the product.

If your digital catalog is not properly indexed or is in a format (like PDF) that doesn’t make for easy indexing, your customer may be sent to the front page of the catalog, but will then be required to search again for the product within the catalog pages; not an ideal customer experience.

If your online catalog today exists solely in PDF format, you’re already at an extreme SEO disadvantage.

As mentioned in our article: “5 Reasons to Ditch Your PDF Catalog… Sorta” (Dirxion, 2020), “PDFs are a great starting point when building out a catalog layout. In fact, we use our clients’ existing PDFs as a launchpad to build interactive, engaging and searchable online catalogs for them. But, in terms of SEO, PDFs aren’t easily crawled by spiders. So, a Google search on a product you promote in the pages of your online catalog PDF is likely not to return results that point directly to your catalog, or the catalog page where it exists.”

Note: keep in mind that Google’s algorithm is always changing and you are never guaranteed to maintain ranking position. It’s a good idea to perform this audit periodically throughout the year.

Alternatively, Dirxion’s HTML5-based catalogs pages can be crawled easily by search engines. The HTML5 markup has many great benefits that will help your catalog rank better than previous iterations or specifications — from helping with code validation to speeding up catalog page load times (a factor Google uses for its ranking algorithm). 

At Dirxion, our digital catalog software is updated regularly throughout the year to keep up with Google’s latest algorithm updates. Digital catalog SEO is a priority because we know this is a significant traffic (and ultimately, sales) driver for our clients. 

If you’d like a complimentary consultation to evaluate your catalog’s SEO, reach out to us here to set up a call.

5 Reasons to Ditch Your PDF Catalog… Sorta

People often ask how using Dirxion to publish a digital catalog is different from publishing a PDF. The answer is: Dirxion is beyond a PDF. 

PDFs are useful for some things, but it’s important to understand their limitations. 

Introduced in 1993, Adobe and the PDF (Portable Document Format) revolutionized the way we view and share documents. Today, the PDF is still a widely popular format for distributing read-only documents in a way that preserves the overall layout of the page. 

But is the PDF the best format to use for publishing your catalog online?

PDF is about displaying content. HTML5 is about interacting with content. Imagine window shopping versus stepping inside and holding a product. 

In this post, we evaluate the differences between a PDF catalog and a Dirxion catalog to help you determine if it’s time to upgrade your catalog.

What PDFs do well

PDFs continue to serve as a trusted, easy-to-create file type. Anything from spreadsheets to photo albums to scanned receipts can be saved in PDF format.

Conformity and Reliability: A PDF stores every detail and piece of formatting within the file itself, including spacing, pictures and fonts. This removes one of the largest obstacles to sharing documents, as most other types of files require the document recipients to already have the proper fonts installed and may lose formatting when they are opened in a different program. PDFs appear the same on any device that reads them, including Windows, Mac OS and mobile devices.

Lock-Down: Adobe Reader, the free program created by Adobe to open PDF documents, cannot edit the file. Reader allows users to fill out forms in PDFs, but they can’t change any existing text or formatting without help from a specialized application.

Safe and Secure: PDF increases the security and confidentiality of the entire document by using applications such as watermarks, passwords or digital signatures.

Copy/Paste: Native PDFs are flexible in that you can copy information, such as text, and paste it elsewhere.

Indexable: PDF files that contain good content and are available on websites can be made visible in search engines. 

What PDFs don’t do well

PDFs make it easier for people to distribute documents without the need to print them. But it doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

File size: While it’s possible to convert just about any file into a PDF without sacrificing quality, something the size of a catalog cannot be easily sent through email without bogging down servers and filling work email inboxes.

Single URL (bad for SEO): A catalog PDF can contain hundreds of pages, but even a single lengthy yet content-rich PDF file will be equal to one URL in the eyes of the search engine. So, while a search engine result might display a PDF catalog, the user would have to start at the front page and work their way to the page where they thought that product exists. 

Dirxion’s HTML5-based catalogs are developed to be crawled and indexed, page-by-page, by search engines. An HTML5 search result would take the user to the most relevant page of an HTML5-based catalog where that product exists without forcing the user to start at the beginning of the catalog.

Absence of any Tracking Mechanism: In the general sense, tracking stats like open rate cannot be applied to PDF files. Downloads of that PDF from your website can be tracked through programs like Google Analytics. But you won’t learn anything about your reader’s interest and purchasing behavior, how they move around within your PDF once downloaded.

Enter Dirxion.

Where PDFs lag, Dirxion picks up the slack, taking the best of the PDF and making it a richer online experience.

Unlike browsable PDFs or even digital flipbooks, which lack interactive capabilities and responsiveness, Dirxion transforms your existing PDF files to an HTML5-based online publication that has the look and feel of a real, page-turning publication along with some additional features that aren’t available with a stand-alone PDF catalog.

Using HTML5 (Hyper Text Markup Language) technology, your digital catalog will work in all modern browsers and devices, regardless of screen size. 

HTML5 enables Dirxion to enhance the user and/or shopping experience. Components can be added to an HTML5 catalog to better promote the items on the page to encourage purchasing. HTML5 catalogs can house functionality like video, audio, and button rollover functionality, making the user interaction a favorable experience.

With Dirxion, you can even publish your catalog in the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores to reach a broader audience and push notifications to your customers.

If you’re still unsure why your PDF catalog is no longer getting noticed, here are five ways Dirxion improves digital catalogs beyond a PDF:

Dirxion’s Bookshelf feature
  1. Easy content navigation: Many of our clients have product catalogs that are hundreds, even thousands, of pages long each.

    Dirxion’s catalog software uses three features to improve content navigation within each catalog as well as the complete library:

    Bookshelf: Present your content marketing in a multi-publication interface equipped with advanced search features like language filters and cross-publication search.

    Tear Pages: Enable sales and marketing teams to select and create their own custom collections and presentations with your print pages.

    Product search: Use our robust search feature to search for something specific, either within the catalog or within the entire bookshelf.
Brandon Mitchener from Dirxion touches on accessibility and ADA compliance.
  1. Accessibility: Making a digital catalog that is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, is important and more visible than ever. Not all digital catalog solutions get this part right, so it’s important to evaluate this carefully to avoid a lawsuit.

    Dirxion adheres to W3C and WCAG recommendations, while many in the industry are slow to adapt, favoring complacency over compliance. In fact, many catalog solutions on the market today still do not pass ADA requirements.
  1. Search engine visibility: With a fully-digital catalog solution, your content can be easily searched by Google and found by your customers. Customize keywords, extract the text of the PDF, and adapt page titles to maximize search engine visibility.

    Dirxion’s HTML5-based catalogs are developed to be crawled and indexed, page-by-page, by search engines. An HTML5 search result would take the user to the most relevant page of an HTML5-based catalog where that product exists without forcing the user to start at the beginning of the catalog.

    Although the publication is hosted outside your website, data shows that off-site SEO-related factors likely carry more than 50% of the ranking factor weight. And the backlinks found in your Dirxion-hosted publication pointing back to your website are healthy for your site’s SEO.
  1. Easier to share: Integrate your digital catalog directly into your website, blog or email campaign or easily share your catalog on social media to boost reach.
  1. Deep analytics tracking: PDFs lack the ability to collect data about your users and you won’t be able to measure specific actions like click rates or read-time. But each Dirxion online catalog is supported with Google Analytics, and customers can provide tracking codes from their own analytics platforms to compile transparent and comprehensive results. This tells an ROI and conversion story that won’t let you down.

As you can see, your PDF catalog is the starting point to creating a digital catalog that provides an amazing experience for your customers and delivers profitable ROI.

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Search engine optimization helps e-commerce websites meet their goals

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become increasingly important for e-commerce businesses as a method of increasing organic growth and traffic to their site. SEO, as described by Search Engine Land, is “the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” SEO is seen as an alternative method from paid online advertising that delivers a higher return on investment.

Every search engine uses web crawlers to scan websites and determine the contents of the site. This information is used to rank websites based on user preferences. In a video produced by Search Engine Land, the process is explained within a library analogy. If search engines are a library containing all of the world’s knowledge, they need a system to determine which books (websites) are important to readers and answer all their questions. SEO is the process of a website including aspects that best meet a search engine algorithm’s requirements.

Google and other major search engines have made the SEO market more competitive over the years, in order to increase the value of achieving a high-ranking website. They sometimes make decisions as subtle as decreasing the number of organic blue links displayed from 10 to 8.5 on average in 2016,according to Searchmetrics. However, ranking highly on Google has become increasingly competitive due to their growing share of the search engine market. As of 2016, Google accounts for 76 percent of global desktop search traffic whereas Bing, Baidu and Yahoo make up for 22.5 percent of the market combined, according to NetMarketShare.

All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. — Search Engine Land

E-commerce websites benefit especially from SEO by driving organic traffic to their sites, increasing the probability that certain key performance indicators are met. The return on investment for SEO is higher than purchasing an ad campaign through Google AdWord, AdSense or online advertising space purchased on specific websites. Still, EMarketer forecasts estimated U.S. digital ad spending reached $72 billion in 2016. By prioritizing SEO, businesses are meeting the search needs of consumers and increasing the probability of higher traffic without having to overly spend on advertising.

Dirxion online catalogs offer SEO guide pages that involves a process of indexing every page of the printed catalog. This practice helps boost the overall SEO of the online catalogs site, as well as increase the likelihood of someone finding a catalog page when searching for specific products. Such is the case for Dirxion customer Aviall, whose online catalog pages can be found on search engines like Google and whose primary site (catalogs.aviall.com) shows up at the top of Google when searching for “aviall catalog” or similar terms.

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B2B spending on online advertising expected to rise in 2018

Estimates from eMarketer calculate B2B companies spent $4.07 billion on online advertising in 2017. In 2018, the spending is expected to increase 13 percent to 4.6 billion. Across the board, companies are pouring more money into technologies that allow them to place advertisements where their customers are. While traditional media still has a place in advertising, consumers have transitioned an increasing portion on their lives online and businesses have followed.

While the 13 percent increase in online advertising spending is in the double digits, 2018’s predicted spending growth is the lowest in recent history. The percent change in spending from 2014 to 2015 was the largest with 19.7 percent. However, the B2B industry has maintained an online advertising spending growth of roughly 16 percent since 2013.

US Digital B2B Ad Spending 2013-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When compartmentalized by technology, desktops/laptops and mobile have similar shares of the online advertising spending from U.S. B2B businesses. According to a study conducted by eMarketer, desktops and laptops took up $2.54 billion whereas spending for mobile devices was $1.53 billion. When analyzing B2B online advertisement buying budgets, AdWeek discovered they’ve grown by 111 percent over the last five years.

However, while online advertising has had double digit growth for years, many B2B businesses still prefer other traditional and time-tested methods of advertisement. Ytel, a communications company, conducted a survey which asked 2,000 B2B businesses their preferred outreach tool.

Online advertising was the least popular answer tied with direct mail at 7 percent each. Email was the most popular answer with 39 percent.

Dirxion online catalogs give B2B businesses another avenue in an omnichannel marketing approach and allows them to capitalize on the rise of the B2B e-commerce market. For B2B businesses with many catalogs spanning multiple departments of their company, Dirxion’s bookshelf feature organizes the individual catalogs on a central landing page and integrates cross-catalog searching. Existing e-commerce platforms can be integrated into the catalog or B2B businesses can employ the Dirxion order form feature to generate a request for a quote.

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Retailers who developed an omnichannel strategy thrived in 2017

Many retail businesses experienced growing pains due to the market’s shift towards e-commerce and the omnichannel shopping experience. Some businesses are facing massive closures and potential bankruptcy. Many others, however, thrived through 2017 and can expect success in the months ahead.

The holiday season provided an indiction for many market analysts which retailers would survive well into 2018 and which would fall. For instance, Sears and Kmart both saw sales drop somewhere between 16 and 17 percent while announcing plans to make multiple cuts worth $200 million in the near future, according to CNN. The company accrued up to $10.4 billion in losses since 2014 and currently has 1,400 stores.

Many market analysts and those within the company feel as if Sears may not make it through the year before declaring bankruptcy. But multiple legacy retailers have already done so in markets that traditionally thrived in brick-and-mortar locations. For instance, Toys R Us declared bankruptcy in September of last year and Payless ShoeSource Inc. did so in April.

 

Other retailers haven’t fallen to the same fate as companies like Sears and Toys R Us. Target, who may be within Amazon’s sights, saw sales from November to December rise above expected levels to 3.4 percent. In addition, Target’s online sales grew by 25 percent. The company has a new focus on e-commerce as they purchased Shipt in December to bring same-day delivery to a majority of their stores by this year’s holiday shopping season.

“We will also remain focused on rapidly scaling up new fulfillment options including Same Day Delivery, which will be enabled by our acquisition of Shipt, and our recently launched Drive Up service.”
Brian Cornell, CEO and chairman of Target Corp.

New technology and business methods have allowed many companies to create an optimal omnichannel shopping experience for customers while at the same time boosting sales. Walmart recently built online order kiosks in some of their stores which allows customers to pick up their online orders in-store. Mobile payment options have also been popular for many retailers and customers alike. The platforms allow customers to pay for their products in-store from their phone. By capitalizing on the rise of m-commerce, retailers have put preference into the hands of the consumers to make payments in the method of their choice.

Many companies are attempting to reach the same destination: a complete and comprehensive omnichannel for their customers. But such a business model isn’t exclusive to large corporations. Dirxion online catalogs give both retail and B2B companies a tool to create an omni channel approach for their businesses and aids any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.

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Email, aided by online catalogs, can be an effective advertising tool

Consumers have made their mobile devices a more integral part of their daily lives, using them at higher frequencies for a wider variety of tasks. Plenty of data has been collected which established a connection between higher smartphone usage across the globe and the proliferation of m-commerce. As a side effect, consumers have taken other services and shown an interest in taking them mobile.

Email has seen one of the biggest changes as consumer are becoming more mobile-friendly. In 2012, 29 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device, according to eMarketer, with desktop and webmail collecting 34 and 37 percent respectively. In 2017, 55 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device as compared to 28 percent on webmail services and 16 percent on desktop.

In 2016, there were an estimated 238 million email users in the United States, according to Statista. In a different set of data, the United States is tied for second in weekly mobile email access rate globally alongside Italy and Japan. The data indicates 65 percent of mobile users in the U.S. accessed their email through a mobile device on a weekly device. Which means roughly 154 million users in the U.S. checked their email on a mobile device on a weekly device in 2016.

Email marketing has become a popular method of engagement for many companies. In many instances, email marketing provides a direct avenue to customers via highly-visible push notifications. According to data from Statista, 48 percent of companies surveyed indicated they planned to expand spending on email marketing in 2017. The same amount of respondents said they plan on maintaining their current email marketing budget while only 2 percent planned on decreasing.

Marketing SpendingThree-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI, according to a 2016 survey from Econsultancy. Dirxion online catalogs can aid a business’s email marketing strategies as the familiar layouts and designs give a campaign an additional layer of depth and interactivity. Printing and shipping charges are eliminated with Dirxion’s services, which give businesses a new and engaging method to attract customers.

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Confidence returns to mobile application market followed by sales boom