Mequoda Systems: Options We Prefer for Email, Payments and beyond

The Internet is the biggest, fastest, beefiest, most extraordinary communications and marketing tool we have ever known—and it is relatively young. As the Internet matures—and these new media empires along with it—our websites will change and the tools that we build them with will evolve too.

The things that don’t change are the goals you want people to complete. You’ll always want customers to complete a transaction, you’ll always want to keep their name on a list of some sort, and more than likely you’ll always be serving them ads in some fashion. These things are what make a Mequoda System. Options you have when building a publishing website are somewhat resilient; while we always grow to adapt the tools we’re working with and the architecture to stay modern, the end-goals don’t waver.

We’ve built our own system upon the SEO-friendly, always evolving, open-source WordPress platform. It’s the popular choice for publishers such as The New York Times, Elle and CNN. With this platform, we have the added benefit of a community (and an internal staff of talented developers) that develops plugins and re-wires APIs to make websites do exactly what we want them to do.

In a Mequoda System website, one with the primary goal of converting visitors into buyers, these are the options we find to be mandatory for success:

Analytics: Every successful digital publisher and online marketer knows how to interpret their website’s analytical data. Knowing the definitions of common Google Analytics terms like visits, page views, and bounce rates are important—but it’s only half the battle.For websites, some metrics are more important than others, and understanding their context is key. Knowing which key metrics to follow can be confusing—in fact, many site owners end up paying attention to the wrong ones.

At Mequoda, we use Google Analytics to track these metrics because it’s free and because it’s made by the same company we so desperately want to rank well with—Google. In our systems, Google Analytics code is added to the bottom of all of the web pages, enabling Google Analytics Reporting. We set up funnels for free report flows, which allows you to see the entrances and exits for each page of the flow. With everything in place, you can see where people came from, how they’re using your website, how long they stayed, and when they left. You can also see at which point in your order flow a customer dropped off, and use Content Experiments to A/B test landing pages.

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Email: Email is the cornerstone of your audience development and product-selling goals. An online editor’s primary responsibility is to create reusable editorial content and then recycle it in numerous media. Their core job is to reuse, recycle and repurpose premium information product content as free email newsletters and website posts. If you’re a Mequoda System editor, your main goal is to build the largest possible opt-in list of subscribers who will buy lots of premium information products from your organization.

Because building your email newsletter subscriber file is fundamental to the operation of a Mequoda Online Publishing & Marketing System, we did a ton of research to find the best, most flexible and robust email platform out there—WhatCounts.

For all of our systems, we connect a realtime API between WordPress and WhatCounts. This provides real time updates of new email subscribers, unsubscribers and email preference changes. We typically set up three main templates, although yours could vary, which are editorial, promos, and a week in review. We set up a dedicated IP also.

We also developed the Mequoda Customer Service Manager, which is a versatile WordPress plug-in designed specifically for Mequoda Gold Members. It’s particularly valuable because it allows operators to subscribe or unsubscribe users from email newsletters based on requests, as well as many other features for order processing and subscription management.

In addition to email broadcasting and whitelisting services, WhatCounts offers customer support, training and reporting services. With its help, you can monitor email performance like click-through rate. We have an API from WhatCounts to WordPress so we can get campaign data into WordPress.

Payment: Your system needs a way to accept payments. No matter which processor you use, you’ll be subject to normal transaction costs. We like to use Paypal because it’s built to help sell digital products, and its API is extremely flexible.

The Paypal Payment Processing API enables realtime credit card processing and error handling by Paypal while users are within a WordPress order flow. Users receive optimal user experience with a consistent user interface, never leaving the order flow and receiving realtime feedback. It stores both live and sandbox API credentials and allows you to switch back and forth easily. With advanced Paypal Payment Processing, you have auto renewal capabilities, listening capabilities to get data back from Paypal into the database (allowing your website to be aware of subscription cancellation and extensions).

Online Ad Server: As far as ad-servers go, we use OpenX. OpenX is an external system option we’re using for placing advertisements on our website. We programmed our ads to appear in a variety of different ways and locations, including ads that are targeted to the content on the page. Now, Google’s been known to ignore copy in ad servers, so when we want to serve an ad that uses keywords we want to include on a page, we use manual text ads instead.

A Mequoda system has dozens of plugins and systems options that come together to build fully-functional lead-generating and product-selling websites. To schedule a no-obligation conversation with Don Nicholas, our CEO and Lead Consultant about your website project, contact Ann-Marie Sullivan at 617-886-5177 or e-mail her.

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