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Are You Hunting or Farming?

If you want your online business to keep pace, you need to find new customers and retain existing ones.

According to Internet Retailer, Amazon grew its business 40.6% last year. If we're being honest about the world of e-commerce, the reality is that there's Amazon, and then there's everyone else. Amazon sets the standard.

But let's ignore Amazon's $48 billion in revenue and focus instead on its growth number: Did your business (or your client's) also grow 40% last year? If so, congratulations--you're killing it. If not, let's talk about why. Maybe you're farming without hunting.

The old adage is that there are two types of salespeople: hunters and farmers. The hunter goes after new deals, always on the prowl, and the farmer is more comfortable tilling the soil of customer relationships to cultivate continued business. 

It turns out that these two approaches don't just apply to salespeople--they apply to a company's online marketing strategy, too. To generate substantial growth like Amazon, your company needs to be both the hunter AND the farmer. That is, you need to hunt for new and lapsed customers, while farming your relationship with existing ones.

Does your current online marketing strategy devote the right dollars and incentives to obtaining new or lapsed customers WHILE retaining existing ones, or are you stuck merely feeding off the bottom of the sales funnel? 

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Tim on a tablet in Toledo...? No Problem

Anyone following the Akamai blog for the past few weeks will have seen a lot of talk about this thing we're calling "situational performance." Product Manager Assaf Kremer explained why one size doesn't fit all in today's web performance world.

M.J. Johnson, a Product Marketing Director here at Akamai - and his whiteboard - were ready for a close up to illustrate how user situations impact web performance.

Now, it's Mike Afergan's turn. Mike is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Web Experience Business Unit at Akamai. He recently sat down with Dana Gardner of BriefingsDirect to discuss the various trends that are driving the transition from "web site" to "web experience" and why performance optimizations based on those individual user situations are critical to delivering a great user experience.

Listen to the podcast. Find and download it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. The options are almost limitless.

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Rob Morton is a senior public relations manager at Akamai

HTTP/2.0 - What is it and Why Should You Care?

An Aging Standard

HTTP is old.  How old?  Let's look at a timeline to start:

1991 - HTTP/0.9
1996 - HTTP/1.0
1999 - HTTP/1.1
2013? - HTTP/2.0

Our beloved protocol that has been powering the information age in which we all live has been kicking around for over 21 years. Further, it has not had a major version change in 13!  Using the dog year's metaphor, this puts the invention of HTTP back in the colonial time of the Internet (I have a marvelous proof of this but limitations to the margin property prevent me from including it). It is a rare occurrence when something can stand the test of that sort of time and remain relevant.  Even the United States Constitution has needed a few major tweaks in that time (27 in all). So it should come as no surprise that the current version of HTTP is showing its age.

But before I list off HTTP's deficiencies, let me take a moment to reflect on the wonder of "the Little Protocol That Could."  It is highly likely that every one of you reading this blog would not have the job you have today if not for HTTP. Think of the evolution of a "web page" since 1991. Think of the elements that we today take for granted that were never envisioned back when HTTP first displaced Gopher for file retrieval. The very fact that HTTP has been able to adapt to the rapidly changing web and power our modern marketplace is a testament to the brilliance of the protocol.  

That said, it seems that web developers have been holding HTTP together with dental floss and glue for a number of years. We have desires for "instant" page rendering and good old HTTP/1.1 is seen as one of the bottlenecks.


HTTP is Dead - Long Live HTTP

The largest annual gathering of Akamai customers and partners, the Akamai Edge Conference, is taking place next week at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and will feature speakers from more than 40 companies. Registration information and the complete agenda can be found at: www.akamai.com/edge

Business and technology leaders from Amadeus, Build.com, Cisco, CTV, Grainger, GREE, Guitar Center, Symantec, USAA, Visa, and many others, are scheduled to present during the three-day conference. Participating sponsors include HP, Terremark, Brightcove, Exceda, IBM, Dell, Adobe, Apica, BMC, Dolby, Envivio, Hybris, Kit Digital, Microsoft, Micros-Retail and Riverbed, among others.

Business innovators including Airbnb, Fox News Channel, The Hartford, Macy's, News International, Red Hat and Salesforce will offer keynote presentations.

Other exciting highlights include insights from industry luminaries Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and co-founder of The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences; Rick Smolan, former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer and best-selling author of the "Day in the Life" book series and creator of The Human Face of Big Data project; and Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research covering consumer and enterprise mobility

"Akamai Edge is taking place against the backdrop of a world that's connected like never before," said Brad Rinklin, chief marketing officer, Akamai. "This year's conference will focus on the extraordinary innovation taking place as businesses leverage cloud, mobile, media and big data strategies, all while addressing the security challenges inherent in today's hyperconnected world. We've created a dynamic program that will foster the exchange of ideas among peers from around the globe, representing industries such as media and entertainment, commerce, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, and software and technology."

Hope you can join us!




It wasn't too long ago that going on the web meant you were sitting at a desk, with a computer sporting a fixed-line connection. For companies doing business online, there were distinctly fewer variables that impacted web site performance and the user experience.

Fast forward just a few years and the world has radically changed. Mainstream use of Wi-Fi, cellular, smartphones, tablets and connected devices such as TVs and game consoles have fundamentally changed the way we experience the web. Not only that, it's now exponentially more difficult for online brands to ensure their users have a great experience.

Is there a way to manage this increasing complexity and think differently about web performance? M.J. Johnson, one of Akamai's product marketing professionals certainly thinks so, and illustrates his view on situational performance in the below video.



To learn a bit more, check out this great conversation between Akamai's Mike Afergan and entrepreneur, strategy consultant and blogger Sramana Mitre.

Rob Morton is a senior public relations manager at Akamai


Web performance: Why one size doesn't fit all

When considering web performance, it's tempting to think that the user experience on any given site or application will be fairly consistent. The reality? Performance is impacted by different variables and ensuring that all users have the best possible experience requires hard work. For example, a desktop machine running IE 9 over a cable connection will offer a different user experience compared to a Macbook running Safari through public Wi-Fi, and both of those are different from an Android smartphone on 3G. Each has different connectivity characteristics and idiosyncrasies when it comes to rendering content.

It's not easy to ensure that your website performs well in the different situations I've described, and the typical end-user simply doesn't care about how hard it is to ensure stellar performance across the broad spectrum of web experiences. A user hitting your site from a smartphone expects the same great experience as if they were connecting from home or work. This is true despite the fact that each set of circumstances is radically different.

As pages get bigger, our performance expectations get higher
Pages are growing, and they're growing quickly. In the last two years the average web page has gone from about 700 to 1,100 kilobytes, all-in. This is a 57% increase in size.

And user expectations? They're going the other way. In 2006, we were OK with waiting 4 seconds for a page to load. By 2009 we got antsy at 3 seconds. Today we see that a 300 millisecond bump in page load time can lead to revenue impact.

Although we have seen massive growth in the richness of web content, data indicates that users expect pages to load faster than ever before.

Fresh Fish & Fresh Data

Your customers act in real-time--your data should, too.

Like many New Englanders, we hit the Cape Cod beaches last weekend--more specifically, the delightful town of Chatham, home of Chatham Pier Fish Market. Famished from our adventures under the summer sun, we went looking for a late lunch and discovered fresh-off-the-boat tuna sushi and the best lobster roll I've ever tasted.

As we dined in the shade at the picnic table, it hit me: this remarkably fresh fish, bought directly from the source, tasted immensely better than any canned or frozen fish you might find at the supermarket.

Fresh is always better.

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Call me geeky, but this mantra applies to your online marketing decisions as well. If your data is stale, your marketing may leave a weird taste in your consumers' mouths and your decisions won't be accurate.

As marketers, we are witnessing an explosion of data and technological platforms, including new ways to collect, store, process, manage, analyze, send, integrate and activate first- and third-party data. With this proliferation, it's easy to get lost in the sea of data questions.

The main question you should be asking is: are you using fresh, canned, or frozen data?

Take the latest CEB study, whose title bluntly states that marketers are flunking the Big Data test. On the other hand, those who pass the data test are more likely to have the "ability to ask strategic questions based on data, and...focus on higher-order goals."

So, when it comes to the data that powers your online marketing campaigns, here are a few strategic questions that warrant consideration:
1.    How fresh is your data? How often is it scored for accuracy?
2.    What are the most important and actionable audience segments?
3.    How can you link your segments to the right creative and messaging?
4.    Are you seeking and finding the right second- and third-party data opportunities?
5.    How will you measure the effectiveness of each data set?

The savvy digital marketer is not only answering the questions above, but also setting clear goals for the data opportunities he or she elects to pursue.

So when you look at the options, be sure that your data is as fresh as my sushi roll was this past weekend. In this era of real-time, programmatic media buying, if your data sources are canned or frozen, your performance will surely be lackluster.

Avi Spivack is Product Marketing Strategist for Akamai

A Data-Driven View of IPv6 Adoption

Here at Akamai we've been closely monitoring IPv6 traffic across our network for quite some time - including the months leading up to World IPv6 Launch all the way through to the present. In this post, I wanted to share some of the more meaningful IPv6 traffic data we've observed, both during the 24 hours of the World IPv6 Launch milestone and in the weeks since.

SPDY and WebSocket Support at Akamai

Now, more than ever, time is money. The four two second rule is a thing of the past and companies today are not simply looking at performance as a specific bar to get over, but rather as an element that has a direct effect on their conversion rates. Akamai has supported this view this for a long time, and to that end have continually come up with new technologies to make the web faster.  End-user expectations do not stand still, and neither will we.

That is what drove us to develop and announce the upcoming SPDY and WebSocket support at the recent 2012 Santa Clara Velocity conference. We have been working with and developing these protocols for a while now and are excited to bring them to our network.  It is a fascinating time in the web world and SPDY and WebSocket are central themes in the raging debates around the direction of the basic protocols that make everything tick. Recently this pair of protocols has been cast as somehow competing for a virtual crown in a race to see who will win a standards war. Here at Akamai we see this as far from the case, and believe that looking at them through that sort of lens will distract from the basic fact that they are two tools for two jobs.

SPDY

SPDY (pronounced speedy), for those who are not familiar with it is a proposal and implementation from Google for a faster version of HTTP. SPDY achieves its performance boost through a number of optimization such as request multiplexing, using fewer connections, and header compression to name a few.  Benchmarks generally show that SPDY consistently improved a web page performance by 10-20%. In our millisecond mattering world, that is huge and worth taking notice.

Akamai's initial SPDY implementation will be targeting version 2 of the protocol.  End users with SPDY speaking browsers will be able to converse with our secure edge network (ESSL) using this latest and greatest web development starting this fall.

Not Pixie Dust

Recent studies, particularly one from at Akamai, show that SPDY is not some magical engine that will remove all of the bottlenecks a web site might have. Do not take our criticism of SPDY as an indicator that we are not supporters of it. On the contrary, we believe in the direction and want to see it get better and better. Different bottlenecks require different solutions, ranging from better caching and route decisions to addressing third party content and Front-End Optimization. For the cases where HTTP between client-and-edge is holding you back, SPDY will come to the rescue.

At Akamai we aim to offer the complete set of tools to address each bottlenecks, and will help you use the right tool for the right job. We're excited to add SPDY to this suite, and help push the web forward.

Corn, Watermelon and Customer Engagement

With the arrival of summer comes delicious seasonal produce - and the chance for my local grocer to try to change my habits.  But do they?  No.  Should they?  Absolutely.

As my family's designated grocery shopper, I find myself in the same stores every week: Trader Joe's for most of the stuff we need, Whole Foods for the rest.

I used to go to Shaw's, which is closer to my house, but for reasons I can't even remember, I stopped. And you know what? They never tried to win me back.

There are also two other grocery stores nearby, but I never hear from them.

With corn and watermelon arriving in the produce aisles, grocers have a chance to change my habits.  But they won't.  So my habits won't change either.  I'll keep going to the same stores--as they keep me engaged with mailers and emails that advertise recipes and new products.

Why did this get me thinking about customer engagement?  Because in this short little story there are examples of it working well, working poorly, and not working at all.
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