Essential Criteria for CMS Selection

Essential features of a good content management system (CMS) were discussed during CMS night in Nuremberg. Both web developers and editors should be considered.

Content management systems (CMS) are applications used to build websites and manage website content and layout centrally, also if there is a larger number of publishers and editors involved. Currently, there are hundreds of proprietary and open source CMS, based on several programming languages (though at the moment PHP-based CMS are leading).

Last Monday, Co-Working Space Nuremberg hosted a workshop dedicated to some well-known and also relatively new CMS (Joomla!, TYPO3, WordPress, as well as Contao and Refinery). The participants represented a mixture of web developers and CMS-users, such as online marketing agencies.

Several features essential for CMS systems were discussed:

  • Usability features for web developers or web designers:
    • individually expandable functionality of CMS, existence of a range of extensions: plug-ins, widgets, templates, templates…
    • possibility to connect several domains in one CMS with a single log-in
    • possibility for integration of several CMS within a structure of a single website
    • flexibility and programming-friendliness of a system in order to create customized designs
    • flexibility in creating customized or streamlined back-end interface
    • support and forums for web developers
    • suitability for complex websites with hundreds of pages
  • Usability for editors and publishers (users)
    • suitability of CMS for a variety of web functions (e.g. an online shop)
    • open source availability of the CMS and the extensions
    • traceability of the staging process and the workflow
    • time-delayed publication
    • possibility of editing content in the frontend
    • preview features
    • a developed user support system: “help” functions, documentation as well as forums and “community”
    • multilingual possibilities of a CMS
    • simple and clear depiction of the website structure in the backend
    • simplicity in use, also for people without programming background

All in all, the choice of CMS depends both on the website purpose and the resources available. New CMS are constantly being developed (e.g. Refinery CMS was programmed with Ruby on Rails, and the first version was released in 2011).

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KPIs for Online Campaigns

“You cannot control what you cannot measure”- this is especially true when it comes to online marketing campaigns.

Thus, it is essential to have a range of metrics at your fingertips for evaluating the status quo at the beginning of the campaign, monitoring the measures being implemented and defining the success rate at the end of the campaign.

1. Paid Advertising response KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Here I want to group KPIs relevant for display and keyword advertising (e.g. Google AdWords and AdSense).

  • The number of impressions (measures how many times your ad was displayed (it is debatable if the number of impressions actually measures the number of times a user saw your ad).
  • The number of clicks (measures how many times the ad has been clicked on).
  • Ratio impressions to clicks. In display advertising this measure is known as CTR (click-through-rate) and is of high relevance. Though this ratio is often disregarded in SEM, it can deliver some insights into how attractive or understandable your ad is.
  • Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost per Mille (cost per thousand impressions, CPM). Which of them is used will depend on your pricing plan, but CPC has established itself as the industry standard in many cases. CPC may be converted into effective Cost per Mille (eCPM), by dividing the total cost of the campaign per number of impressions and multiplying the value by thousand.
  • Cost per Lead (CPL); this measure is relevant for some types of online marketing and refers to the cost of winning an e-mail address, a subscriber to a newsletter or a contact form filled out by a prospective customer.

2. KPIs for user interaction in Social Media

  • Number of views. Most of social media channels allow tracking how many customers have viewed a post, a metric similar to the number of impressions.
  • Number of “Likes”, clicks on links, and comments.
  • Number of shares, retweets, etc – probably the most desirable type of interaction.

3. KPIs for website performance

  • Number of visitors (subdivided into new and returning visitors), or website traffic.
  • Pages viewed pro visit and bounce rate (percentage of users who left after visiting just the landing page). This metric shows both how well your campaign has been targeted and how usable or customer-friendly your website is (see the post about 10 criteria for a good website).
  • Traffic sources data (such as traffic resulting from search, campaigns, etc.) allow evaluating how your website is mainly discovered by the users as well as the relative performance of different internet marketing channels driving the traffic.

4. Conversion rate

Conversion is probably the most important but at the same time the most arguable KPI in online marketing. A very simplistic method to calculate the conversion rate in e-commerce is dividing the number of orders or purchase tickets by the number of website visitors.

Does this metric actually measure the effectiveness of an online campaign? Probably not, since it does not consider the “soft” factors, such as increasing the share of heart or mind, leading to purchases at a later time or through a different channel. Neither does it integrate the number of acquired user leads that can be contacted later or targeted through online re-marketing.

Such conversion rate (visitor to purchase) is extremely hard to calculate in non-e-commerce area, where online campaigns do not lead directly to purchases or bookings but are used to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty, or as a means of generating leads for off-line sales.

5. Online sales funnel

In addition to the above mentioned visitor to purchase rate, other types of conversion rates can be calculated to build a conversion funnel or online sales funnel where the potential customer is guided through several stages, such as: ad view – ad click – site visit – site interaction -purchase initiation – purchase completion.

One last word that can be said on online marketing KPIs is that the frequency of measuring and time horizon relevant for evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns will depend on the nature of your business. For example, for businesses where the sales fluctuate depending on the day of the week (e.g. restaurant bookings), weekly measurements will provide a more credible result than daily ones.

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Social Networks in Russia (Part 2)

Here is my self-developed road map for Russian social networks (Moscow subway map was used as the background picture).

russiasocialmap
Social Networks in Russia – 2013

It is hard to attempt to provide a full overview of existing social media. This map, however, allows for a brief introduction into some well known and large networks, owned both by Russian and foreign companies. These networks can be subdivided into several categories.

1. Social networks proper, or communities of Facebook-type. I have already published some information about the three largest social networks in Russia. The market share of Facebook and Google+ is growing; however their full potential is still unclear.

2. Dating sites are similar to social networks the only difference being that dating sites promote one-on-one contacts between the users who would not otherwise get to know each other in real life.

3. LinkedIn is probably the most well-known professional network used for job hunting and building up business contacts, whereas Maxpark (formerly gidepark) provides a large share of infotainment.

4. Blogs are another type of social networks that can be used both for sharing content and exchanges on a given topic. LiveJournal is one of the most well-known blog platforms in Russia. In LiveJournal blogs are sorted according to categories and the information is from selected blogs is publicly displayed and actively discussed.

5. Media sharing platforms can be subdivided into video-sharing and photo-sharing platforms.

6. And last but not least, sites like www.mail.ru and www.yandex.ru serve as umbrella brands for a variety of networks offered (they host video-sharing platforms, blog services, as well as other types of online communities).

There are extreme difficulties regarding making a ranking of Russian social networks. First, it is very typical of Russian users to be registered in several networks simultaneously (for example, being on VKontakte and Odnoklassniki at the same time); besides, the activity level of users in a social network fluctuates depending on the network type.

As a result, the exiting rankings, which can be based on the number of registered users or active users or visits per day or even the share of mind, are hardly comparable.

Secondly, the outcome of the ranking will be severely influenced by the target group. Maxpark, for example, is one of the leading networks among the respondents in the age group 30+, whereas it is hardly known among younger people.

And finally, the situation with social media is changing so rapidly that what was true yesterday may not be true as of today.

To conclude, the landscape of social networks in Russia is rather obscure and complex, which makes social media marketing in Russia especially challenging in addition to the existing mentality and language barriers.

Update: in 2019, the most popular networks in Russia included: vKontakte, OK.ru, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Has the World Turned into Google?

The importance of Google AdWords and other Google-related marketing tools in the marketing mix is sometimes overestimated.

Have you ever asked yourself what percentage of your customers really come from Google AdWords? I am sure the answer will be different in every given case. However, is there anything besides (and above) Google?

First of all, let us look at Google AdWords in relation to organic search results. According to the Search Engine Journal, 80% of web users seldom or never click on Google AdWords, focusing on organic search. Clearly, as their online experience grows, most web users are becoming more and more immune towards web advertising and even develop negative feelings towards personal targeting.

Secondly, though the share of Google and Google-powered search engines in countries like Germany may reach 90%, in other countries it may not be the case. For example, the Russian search engine market is still dominated by the Yandex company (60% market share), the same is true for most Asian countries, where search traffic is driven by local search engines. Thus, the share of Google worldwide is well below 90% and, as I think, would be realistically estimated at around 50%-60%. Another point to consider is the aggressive competition by other search engines even in Google-dominated countries and the danger of the Icarus Syndrome for the market leader.

Thirdly, the share of web content indexed by search engines is very small (some estimates point at the share as low as 0,2%). The so-called Invisible Web or Dark Web includes specialized or password-protected databases and catalogs, data shared and posted on social networks, and non-indexed data formats, such as pictures or video content.

One more barrier to consider is what percentage of time your target users spend online, how often they use search engines, and if they use search engines with a clear intention to purchase something at all. The reason is that Internet is mostly perceived as a means of entertainment or as a free information source, which significantly decreases the ROI of SEM advertising.

And last but not least: how digitalized has the world become in reality? Has everyone in this world acquired an unlimited access to the Internet 24/7? Has the share of life we live off-line become so insignificant that it does not need to be considered any more? Have we stopped talking to each other face -to-face, reading books and magazines, watching TV and listening to the radio or just shopping at local shops? Naturally, no.

In conclusion, by writing all above, I am not going to undermine the importance of online marketing in the marketing mix or deny the growing size of the potential market on the Internet. However, in my opinion, the reliance on Google-related marketing tools has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for online marketers, the marketers themselves representing a (thin?) slice of population who actually actively use the Internet and can handle the Internet technology. A lot of things in online marketing are assumed without profound data on the on-line and off-line behavior of the target users or on the relative importance of the advertising instruments used.

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Social Networks in Russia (Part 1)

And the winner is…

Despite the aggressive marketing efforts of Facebook&Co. to invade the Russian social networking market, the three leading social networks (according to the number of registered active users, statistics by WCIOM and TASS-telecom) are VKontakte.ru, Odnoklassniki.ru and MoiMir (project by Mail.ru).

Below I will give a brief description of functionality and background of these three social networks.

Ondnoklassniki.ru (Classmates) was created by Abert Popkov in Russia in 2006 and two years later was sold to the Mail.ru Group (http://corp.mail.ru/en).

ScreenHunter_32-Jan.-22-13.39

It allows the users create groups, send messages and find new friends, as well as share and upload photos, videos, play online games and bookmark the content from other users. It also has a built-in function to detect profile visitors (“My Guests”) and a “Like” button (“Klass!”). It offers a collection of music tracks and allows posting music directly onto the profile or download/upload tracks.

MoiMir (MyWorld) was originally created as part of Mail.ru Group. It has recently introduced a new user interface, that basically makes it more similar to Facebook.

ScreenHunter_33-Jan.-22-13.54

MoiMir’s functionality is basically very similar to that of Odnoklassniki, it also offers other functional features directly from the Mail.ru project (such as Ask-Answer Forums (Otvety.Mail.ru).

Both MoiMir and Odnoklassniki offer some extra features for the users (such as visiting pages anonymously, without being shown in the “Guests” tab) or a “VIP” account for a fee. Another interesting way of collecting money directly from the subscribers is selling stickers or virtual “presents” that can be paid for and added to the account or directly to the profile picture of another user. The same system works for “grading” a picture of another user with the best grade “5+” or “+10”.

Of course, B2B customers are also welcome. These sites also work with the Facebook model in targeting the user groups for advertising, though the costs are measured per 1000 impressions only. The accounts of both social networks, however, can display adverts from Target. Mail. Ru (a service similar to Google Ads).

Another website VKontakte. ru (InContact) was created and is still owned by Pavel Durov.

ScreenHunter_34-Jan.-22-14.05

The functionality includes adding and sharing music and videos, playing online games, etc. The “Liked” content does not get shared with other users automatically (as on Mail.ru Group sites), it requires a separate click on the “Share with friends”. It is the only one of the three leading social networks that has user interface in English (as well as in other languages).

Advertising possibilities for companies on VKontakte are identical to those of Facebook.

Despite a number of extra features, some functions included on Facebook are missing. All the three networks in question do not distinguish between a “page” and a “group”, no additional functionality is offered, thus company pages have to be set up as “public groups”. Another drawback is that the visibility of separate wall posts cannot be controlled, though MoiMir allows to limit the visibility of the whole profile to friends only.

In the following posts I will take a broader look at the social media landscape in Russia.

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