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.

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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Confidence returns to mobile application market followed by sales boom

Extensions of m-commerce have difficulty catching on in some areas

M-commerce has continued to evolve in recent months as consumers experiment with how the technology fits into their purchasing habits. M-commerce has grown over time, with an increasing number of consumers using their mobile devices to research and make online orders.

However, certain branches of m-commerce have yet to be embraced by consumers in Western countries, where the technology is relatively new. For instance, 56 percent of consumers in the U.S. don’t prefer mobile payment methods, according to a survey conducted by Kantar TNS.

Mobile payments, often referred to as “mobile money,” allow consumers to make payments from their phone, most popularly by tapping the phone to a card reader. They often come in the form of platforms in which the mobile device holds credit or debit card information to act in lieu of that card. Companies such as Apple, Android, Mastercard and Paypal all offer mobile payments.

Many mobile payment platforms require specific receptors, which often must be purchased and installed by retailers, in order to properly make a purchase. The willingness and ability of vendors to install these receptors is currently the biggest barrier of entry for mobile payments to properly enter the market. Apple Pay is currently the most accepted mobile payment, with 36 percent of American retailers accepting it. However, for many other payment methods, retailers are choosing to wait and see how the market acts before making the adjustments.

There are certain markets however, who don’t follow the trend of resistance towards mobile payment platforms. Estimations from eMarketer predicts nearly 78 percent of smartphone users in China will use a mobile payment platform in 2018. Of the 56 countries surveyed in the Kantar TNS survey, only China and Mongolia had a majority of participants say they prefer to use mobile payments at 64 and 63 percent respectively.

Dirxion offers app development for both the Google Play and iTunes stores. Within the apps, customers are able to view a business’s online catalogs or download them for offline viewing. Dirxion can also integrate online catalogs into an existing application. Companies without a dedicated e-commerce mobile app benefit from an audience built from a Dirxion online catalog app. Companies have a direct avenue to a captive audience of customers via push notifications which can inform of new catalog releases, upcoming sales and other pertinent company news.

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Ulta Beauty’s m-commerce department continues to experience growth

Dirxion customer Ulta Beauty’s mobile traffic to their website increased by 104 percent with their total traffic increasing by 74 percent, according to FierceRetail. The increase is in part due to Ulta’s investments in online advertising and paid promotion programs through social media platforms.

“We continue to update, enhance our mobile apps which at last count has been downloaded by 4.4 million guests and has a 5-star rating in iTunes app store. Traffic for our mobile app is up 450% year over year with 41 million visits during the quarter.”
– Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty

Mobile ownership and overall traffic on mobile devices has increased exponentially in the last decade. According to the PEW Research Center, 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone as compared to 35 percent when the survey was first conducted in 2011. While mobile e-commerce, or m-commerce as its now commonly known as, has risen in popularity the platform still falls behind physical retail sales. However, consumers have adopted m-commerce platforms and the mobile experience as a researching method. Mobile devices have begun to influence offline sales at a greater, yet not always entirely clear, rate.

To explore the connection between retail sales and smartphone ownership, Google paired with Ipsos Media CT as well as Sterling Brands to conduct an online survey. The survey results revealed 71 percent of in-store shoppers who use their smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience. Many businesses, especially within the retail market, have steered away from mobilizing and creating an omni channel experience for their customers. According to GeoMarketing, “Retailers appear to view mobile as a channel for direct sales rather than a medium that can greatly shape consumers decisions of what and where to make a purchase. Retailers still don’t see mobile as a tool that can improve the overall customer experience online and offline in their stores.”

Partnered with Ulta Beauty, Dirxion has provided Ulta with new avenues to connect to their customers by utilizing Dirxion’s integration technologies within Ulta’s mobile applications. The format increases the efficiency in which Ulta can interact with and increase the quality of shopping for their customers. Placed on both the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores, Ulta now has a dedicated mobile audience through which they can extend news and deals to via push notifications.

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Amazon Business nets one million U.S. customers, demonstrates growth in the B2B e-commerce market

Earlier this month, Amazon revealed their Amazon Business marketplace passed the one million customer mark since its launch in April of 2015. According to the official website, “Amazon Business provides purchasing solutions that let registered businesses and their designated users shop for business supplies on Amazon. People who have a business user account can purchase on Amazon.com on behalf of their employer.”

While Amazon has an advantage in terms of their large pool of existing B2C customers, Amazon Business’s growth can be partially attributed to the overall trend of the rising popularity of B2B e-commerce. Amazon.com currently has 250 million registered users and roughly 80 million Prime users. In June, Digital Commerce 360 revealed nearly a fifth of all business purchases were made through Amazon Business. Amazon Business’s conversion rate was just as high, with 24 percent of users having not made a purchase off of Amazon Business a year prior.

Amazon Business has been able to tap into some of the rising consumer preferences with regards to e-commerce. For instance, consumers have reported Amazon Business accounts are quickly set up and all products on the platform can be found easily, tapping into rising preferences among consumers for products to have a high ease-of-use. Because of innovations within the market and the new focus on revolutionizing the consumer experience, B2B e-commerce has and is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. According to Forrester Research, the current value of the U.S. B2B e-commerce market is $889 billion and is on course to reach $1.18 trillion by the end of 2021.

B2B e-commerce

 

Dirxion offers tools for businesses to capitalize on the shifting trends and growth in the e-commerce market via online catalogs services. Through differentiation of their shopping experience and engaging in the omni-channel experience, businesses can stake a stronger claim within the market. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met. Dirxion online catalogs can be integrated into existing e-commerce platforms and live directly on a company’s website to ensure a seamless, optimized shopping experience for customers.

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Facebook bans thousands of online advertisers who are using ‘cloaking’ methods

Facebook recently announced their new initiative to combat misinformation and false online advertising practices. Many online advertisers used “cloaking” procedures that would fool Facebook’s filters and algorithms and circumvent the review process. Typically when a business advertises with the social media platform, Facebook looks at the ad that the business wants to display, as well as the landing page that an ad click leads a user to. This is to ensure that the content of the ad and the landing page a user is sent to are related and not misleading.

The change is part of a multi-tiered program by Facebook to weed out misinformation, clickbait and spam in order to entice businesses to advertise on the site and create an incentive for users to remain on the platform. Pages that don’t engage in cloaking methods will see no change to their pages or their existing advertising plan, as the initiative seeks to eliminate advertisers that use cloaking methods. Scammers manipulate landing pages in a way that creates one landing page that appears legitimate to a Facebook reviewer and a separate landing page where the user will actually end up. These pages are often set up to sell diet pills, false muscle building programs and other scams.

Other businesses have made similar decisions, most noticeably Facebook’s other half of the online advertising duopoly, Google. Earlier this year, the company announced they would block certain types of online advertisements from appearing on their browser Google Chrome in accordance to a study from the Coalition for Better Ads. Additionally, Google did their own investigation into third party online advertising platforms, often known as ad exchanges, and discovered global revenue wasted on fraudulent online advertising traffic might reach $16 billion by the end of 2017.

For e-commerce businesses, growing their websites through organic traffic is sustainable in the long run, cuts costs that would be used to purchase advertising space and raises traffic at a higher rate than a PPC program would. 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 a company’s brand name.

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Google no longer scans emails to sell targeted ads, raising questions for online advertising

In a recent announcement through Google’s blog “The Keyword,” the company plans to abandon scanning user emails through Gmail, which helps serve targeted advertisements.This change is planned to occur before the end of the year.

As the largest entity in the market, Google’s decisions set industry standards and affect millions of businesses. Online advertising is a huge marketing focus, with more money invested online than in television, the previous giant of the advertising industry.

The initiative initially began when Google decided to no longer scan the emails of paying customers of their G Suite program. G Suite adjusts Google’s platforms to be more business-orientated by providing services such as unlimited cloud storage, shared calendars and other potential add-ons. Google has made a conscious effort to appeal to businesses in recent years and, according to Seth Schoen of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, many current or prospective business customers were uncomfortable paying for G Suite under the notion that their emails might be scanned.

Google Suite

 

“Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.” — Diane Greene, SVP, Google Cloud, 2017

With 1.2 billion users, Gmail continues to be a powerful marketing tool for online advertisers. The initiative won’t end ads within Gmail, but they ads will be targeted based on information collected from other Google services such as search of YouTube. While Google’s decision is an effort to achieve consistency across all products, it also addresses some long-standing questions on Internet privacy, especially within emails. According to an article published by the New York Times, users are generally less receptive and more bothered by targeted ads within emails as opposed to ads based on browsing history and other Internet activity. 

Complications and the ever-changing online advertising industry has led many businesses to focus on driving traffic to their sites organically. Through SEO and focusing their website content on a few high-traffic keywords, e-commerce businesses have been able to retain some control of their website traffic. 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.

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Amazon accounts for nearly half of all U.S. online sales, e-commerce

While Amazon has been a powerhouse in the e-commerce market for years, a recent article published by Digital Commerce 360 outlines the extent of the Internet giant’s reach. The article reveals that in 2016, Amazon-owned sites accounted for 43 percent of all online sales within the U.S., followed by a report from Slice Intelligence that discovered more than half of e-commerce growth in the U.S. could be attributed to Amazon.

 

It is incredibly rare for one company to hold 40 percent market share of any retailing segment. To compare, retail giant Walmart has consistently held only 9 percent of the market share for U.S. retail sales since 2012. About 18 percent of Amazon’s growth is accounted under “electronics & accessories” and 19 percent for “other.” The growth stems from a number of in-house developments and acquisitions of other companies. The amount of Echo devices with the Alexa digital assistant sold to shoppers increased by 173 percent from this time last year. Amazon also recently acquired Whole Foods and launched an “Amazon meal kits” service to reportedly compete with new Internet startup Blue Apron.

Amazon has become a primary destination for people to not only make purchases but to research as well. An Internet Retailer survey conducted in December discovered 52 percent of consumers go to Amazon first when searching for products, with Google as the second-most popular option at 38 percent. Research has been an increasingly important role in the product purchase cycle for consumers, as the Internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to compare different products through a variety of sources.

The market for online advertising is in a similar situation, finding itself in a duopoly with Facebook and Google, who have accounted for 99 percent of the growth within the online advertising industry. Because of the new nature of the e-commerce and Internet markets, concentrations of power are fairly common. Innovations are developed within a handful of industry-leading firms.

Dirxion offers tools for businesses to capitalize on the shifting trends and growth in the e-commerce market via online catalogs services. Through differentiation of their shopping experience and engaging in the omni-channel experience, businesses can stake a stronger claim within the market. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met. Dirxion online catalogs can be integrated into existing e-commerce platforms and live directly on a company’s website to ensure a seamless, optimized shopping experience for customers.

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