One of my favorite places in the world is a placed called Caneel Bay in St. John. One of the long-time staffers is an aging bartender who has a rather unique presence. If you ask him how he is doing, he always has one pat answer, delivered with characteristic Carribean glee: Could be better …. There is always room for Improvement! And that about sums up how I think about Epik. Simply stated, the bar is never high enough! The only question is who raises the bar?
With Growth comes Responsibility
In a relatively short amount of time, the Epik platform has become significant. The Product Portal platform alone extends to more than 5,000 stores. We are proud of this progress, but by no means complacent. With thousands of live sites, and hundreds of owners, we also know that there are a lot of stakeholders that are counting on Epik to get it right. I am confident that we will. One reason for my confidence is because there are a lot of eyeballs on the lookout for areas for improvement. I call this a “demanding customer” relationship believe it is key to success. We don’t want passive customers. We want engaged partners. That’s how we win.
When I was living in Japan, from 1995 through 1999, the term Kaizen was widely used in manufacturing. The term describes a process of “continuous improvement” and was an import from Edward Deming, an American process design expert who was famous in Japan long before he was respected in his home country.
By the same token, at Epik, we believe that Development is not an event. Rather, it is a process. The process of optimization never stops. As such, we have provided Developers with an email alias for convenient use when relaying feedback – Optimize@epik.com. If you see an improvement area, let us know.
Here are a few of the main areas that we are watching closely:
- SEO execution: This is one of the highest ROI tasks. Well-executed Title, H1, H2, Meta and Alt tags are price of entry for a high performing site. When we get that part right on an exact-match domain name, the prospects of achieving a solid initial ranking is good.
- Links: Epik does provide an embedded network of contextual backlinks. We continue to refine our approach for collecting links and will be expanding the link development program substantially this Fall.
- Product or Content mix: A good indicator of whether the user experience is being fulfilled is bounce rate, i.e. the % of visitors who leave your site promptly after visiting without engaging with any of the content. A tuned Epik site will have a bounce rate of under 20%.
- Graphics: In general, our graphics are pretty good. However, sometimes we get it wrong and the graphic does not do justice to the business opportunity. Well-executed graphics are important for the brand. It won’t drive traffic, but it will drive engagement.
- Site performance: Exponential growth usually does not come without growing pains. Epik is no exception. One by one, these platforms are maturing into robust profit engines. If your site loads slowly or has errors, let us know.
- Indexing and Ranking: If you see notable moves in your indexing or ranking, we are always interested in knowing about possible insights into the why behind the what. Many Epik Developers are experimenting with different strategies for promoting their sites. Let us know what worked.
- Monetization Patterns: Todd Johnson reported this week about his success with color domains. That is an insight that we had not picked up on before, but learned because Todd was minding the store — his stores specifically. That insight has now helped other Developers.
- User experience and Functionality: Although improvements to the user interface don’t usually happen overnight, much of the improvements are driven by listening to Developer feedback. Keep the feedback coming.
Thanks for listening, and thanks for the feedback.