Mark Little announced as Overall Net Visionary 2014 by Irish Internet Association

September 29, 2014 · Posted in IIA Dot Ie Net Visionary Awards 2014 · Posted by Blog Administrator · 2 Comments 
Mark Little, Storyful, Overall Net Visionary 2014

David Kerr, IIA Chair, Mark Little, Storyful, David Curtin, IEDR, Joan Mulvihill, IIA CEO.

– 14 Category Winners announced in the IIA Dot ie Net Visionary Awards –

Friday, 26th of September, 2014: The Irish Internet Association (“IIA”) this evening announced Mark Little, founder of Storyful as the Overall Net Visionary Winner at the IIA Dot ie Net Visionary Awards.  Also announced this evening were the winners in 14 individual categories, decided by a combined judges and public vote and two special recognition awards.  The Awards, now in their 16th year took place in the Banquet Hall of the Smock Alley Theatre – a dramatic backdrop befitting these most creative of industry awards.

Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association commented: “This has been a great year for the IIA’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards.   By refreshing the award categories each year, it allows us to showcase new businesses, innovations and talent.  All of the winning businesses are worthy title holders and we carefully craft these award titles to reflect the essence of excellence in that category.”

She added: “Mark Little is a truly worthy winner of the 2014 Overall Net Visionary Award.  He epitomises the defining qualities of exceptional visionaries. Mark is a courageous innovator and disruptor. It’s not every day that someone decides to take on the international media and change forever how they collect, collate and curate the news. He set out with a global vision and stayed the course in the face of international giants and indeed some cliff-hanger days.  His openness in sharing his story has made him a phenomenal role model for emerging entrepreneurs, a true visionary and a world class technology innovator.  It is with great pride that we have the opportunity to honour him this evening.”

David Curtin, CEO of IE Domain Registry Limited commented: The IE Domain Registry is delighted to be the headline sponsor for this year’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards.  Now in its 16th year, the standard of the shortlisted websites for the Awards continues to increase year-on-year.  The level of innovation, originality and creativity, not to mention the power and functionality of the underlying website applications, continues to impress.  For the winners, it is a wonderful accolade to be recognised by their peers in the Internet community, as being the ‘best of the best’. These websites and innovations will provide a quality benchmark for others to rank and improve their own online offerings.”

David Kerr of and Chair of the Irish Internet Association commented: “Each year we are challenged with identifying the single person that we believe uniquely embodies the term Visionary.   Mark Little is a local hero and the standard bearer for innovation. If you want to see the power of the cloud, social media, big data and mobile then Storyful is the outstanding exemplar of that. His fearless determination in bringing his vision to life makes him a most deserving winner indeed”.

The IIA are committed to delivering change through collaboration with members and across industry bodies.   2014 saw a focus on eCommerce and exports.  Have successfully delivered a series of International eCommerce seminars, Digital Marketing and Cloud Computing training and events, the IIA continues to work across all industries to position Ireland as a leading web enabled economy.  With headline sponsor in IE Domain Registry Limited (“IEDR”), a select number of key categories, the most challenging judging structure, another stunning and original new venue and a record number of entries, these awards are the perfect way to start the season.

– Ends –

IIA Dot ie Net Visionary Winners 2014

Overall Net Visionary Winner – 2014 – Sponsored by IEDR

WINNER – Mark Little, Storyful

“Best All About Online” B2C eCommerce Retailer” – Sponsored by Hosting Ireland


Most Creative Use of Social Media for compelling customer engagement” – Sponsored by Eircom
WINNER – Javelin for Universal Pictures Ireland

Best Scaling “new heights and territories” International Internet Business” – Sponsored by Grant Thornton

WINNER – Teamwork

This is the “Rising Star” start-up of the year – Sponsored by Paypal

WINNER – Kitman Labs

The Best Web Designer of discernment and user friendly  functionality” – Sponsored by Hailo

WINNER – Pixel Design for “”

The Best Web Developer for ingenious engineering and  meticulous delivery” – Sponsored by Blacknight

WINNER – Software Design

Best Multi-Channel Retailer – all things to all people” – Sponsored by AIB

WINNER – Kilkenny Shop

The Most Indispensable Cloud Service for SMEs – Sponsored by Telecity

WINNER – Eventbrite

“Best Digital Marketing Brand Campaign – Sponsored by Irish Times Training

WINNER – Electric Ireland for Electric Picnic

Best Mobile Service or App for Fast Moving People (B2C)” – Sponsored by RTE Digital

WINNER – WholeWorldBand

Best Mobile Service or App for Fast Moving Businesses (B2B)” Sponsored by The Digital Hub

WINNER – Medical eGuides by Maithú  IT Solutions

Most Interesting Internet Innovation” – Sponsored by RSM Farrell Grant Sparks

WINNER – Kitman Labs

Very Best Place to be – Accelerator | Incubator | Space” – Sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank

WINNER – The Digital Hub

“You Did Good” – Best Use of the Internet for Social Good – Sponsored by Electric Ireland


“Award for Excellence – The Next Generation”

WINNERLauren Boyle, Cool Kids Studio

Outstanding Contribution from an IIA Member

WINNER – Ann O’Dea, Silicon Republic


What You Should Know About Running A Creative Tech Event

June 19, 2014 · Posted in Brand, events, marketing, new technology, Uncategorized · Posted by Blog Administrator · 3 Comments 

Guest post by IIA Member, Sebastian Boppert, Eventbrite

While technophiles spend a lot of their time online, there is a tangible benefit tobuilding relationships offline to strengthen professional networks and to learn from peers. A great way to facilitate these offline meetings are creative, hands-on events like hackathons or game jams, where like minded people get
together make their latest ideas a reality within a couple of hours. We talked to London based Fadie Hannona from the MakersAcademy, Andrea Magnorsky from Gamecraft in Dublin and Fay Cowan from Decoded Fashion in London, who routinely bring the tech community together, and asked them to share their tips on how to organise a successful tech event.

Q:First off, for the uninitiated, what exactly is a hackathon or gamejam and how does it differ from other kinds of events?

Fadie Hannona, Marketing, MakersAcademy says: If you’re unfamiliar, you’ll probably imagine a hackathon to be a competition where people break and enter into systems. This isn’t what it is.

To put it simply, a hackathon is an event where people come together to express themselves creatively through technology. The aim is to turn an idea into a product prototype, in the form of a website or app within a short time frame (usually anywhere between a day or three.) It’s a team game where labour is divided according to the player’s strengths.

There are many types of hackathons and they’re either competitive or communal. They can be aimed at start-ups, developing open source projects, they can be aimed at serving a specific community or brand or even to explore the possibilities of a new product. But one thing holds for all hackathons – they are about building things.

Andrea Magnorsky, Founder, Gamecraft says: The premise of game jams like Gamecraft is that people come together to create a game. Jams are quite different to hackathons in that their nature is collaborative rather than competitive. You don’t necessarily need to know how to code either, because to develop a game you also need people with different backgrounds like designers and storytellers.

Fay Cowan, Event Director, Decoded Fashion says: In general terms, a hackathon is an overnight competition in which programmers, entrepreneurs, graphic designers and industry experts build a tech in a very short timeframe. The Decoded Fashion Hackathon asks participants to create apps answering to the problems and needs of the fashion and retail industry.
We are looking for viable apps that can be put to use!

Q: What would be your advice to a first time hackathon/gamejam attendee for getting the most out of it?

Fadie Hannona: It is good practice to formulate an idea in advance and make sure you’ve done a bit of research. This saves you time and allows you attract a passionate team.

Remember to think tactically as you walk through the doors. Firstly, accustom yourself with the crowd and learn who does what. Once you have your team in place, keep the time schedule of the event at the back of your mind so you can plan your moves efficiently.

Always remember to manage your expectations as it’s very unlikely that you’ll have a fully developed version 1 of your product and instead work on the most essential features you’d like to see in your prototype and build on that. Last but not least, never forget that the main thing is to have fun and learn!

Andrea Magnorsky: Come prepared! Have all programs you need to participate already installed on your machine so you won’t lose too much time setting up on the day. And be prepared for complete chaos! Fun, creative chaos, that is.

Fay Cowan: Come with an open mind, try and network a lot, have fun and don’t worry about the tech!

Q: Do you feel the number of this type of event is growing?

Fay Cowan: Yes, everything is speeding up in London it’s how the city and technology can learn to adapt to the changing market. There is a hunger and need for it all these hackathons!

Andrea Magnorsky: Absolutely. People have started to realise that if they want something done, while they need to first do it
themselves, they also need to collaborate to improve faster. There are great synergies to be had from coming together and doing more.

Q: What are the elements that make for a successful hackathon?

Fadie Hannona: The attendee list is as important as the theme or prize itself. A crowd that has a good ratio of developers and non-developers with complementary skill sets will make for a great hackathon.

A common complaint at hackathons is that there are too many ‘ideas people’ and not enough people who can actually build products. This is something we’re actively trying to avoid at our hackathon by offering free spots to developers, and charging non-developers.

Andrea Magnorsky: The most important factor is to have a positive attitude towards people. Make sure there is a good environment. As an organiser you need to avoid people having a bad time because that would dampen
the entire atmosphere. There will be problems, no doubt, and it is up to you to solve them. Reassure your attendees and help them where you can. If they struggle with completing their goal on the day, make an effort to integrate them in someone else’s effort. Keep it positive. If your event is longer than eight hours, you should definitely provide some form of food and drinks. It
allows people to stay engaged with the event without getting distracted. Think about offering a little present at the end. It’s the little things that add up to a great experience.

Fay Cowan: Good food, great mentors, and strong wifi!

Q: How do you stand out from other hackathons?

Fadie Hannona: There are a tonne of ways to stand out from other hackathons… Firstly, getting a good balance of complementary skillsets amongst attendees is a must, as are a strong group of inspiring judges to give feedback at the end of the event. Being a gracious host by taking care of the basics like food and drinks is a given, and having an alluring prize for the winner can really make your hackathon stand out from the crowd.

Andrea Magnorsky: With Gamecraft, we try and organise as many events in as many places as we can. We’ve recently turned Gamecraft into a not for profit to encourage more people to join us and help it grow. Non-competitiveness is key for us.

Fay Cowan: The DeCoded Fashion Hackathon is kicked-off by a panel of top fashion designers and executives, we are listening to what the problems of the fashion industry are and the solutions they crave. Top mentors will be on hand to help guide and support teams through the 24 hours, before each group gets to present their results in quick demos in front of a panel of esteemed judges. Our top 3 hacks will be taken through to pitch at our London Summit to a top panel of fashion judges!

Leaving your mark – How to maximise the potential of your brand online

July 15, 2013 · Posted in Brand, Business Guides, employer branding, online, Trade Mark · Posted by Blog Administrator · 1 Comment 

Securing trade mark registration for your brands is now more important than ever. Brian Johnston
looks at the difficulties faced by those who failed to register their brands early and how registering can maximise your brand identity online

Businesses often assume that a social media name (such as a Twitter handle or Facebook username), a business or company name or a domain name will be enough to protect their brand name. It isn’t. The only way to be sure that you have exclusive rights to your trading identity is to register the mark, logo, colour, slogan and so on as a trade mark. A trade mark registration offers brand owners a robust, frontline defence to prevent impersonation, dilution and
exploitation of their most valuable intangible asset – their brand.

What could happen to my brand if I haven’t protected it?

Nowadays, businesses are facing threats from fake websites passing themselves off as the real thing, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and the sale of counterfeit goods on websites such as eBay. If they’re not policed properly, these threats
will directly affect the brand image and business of an organisation and they can drive away existing and potential customers.

Having a registered trade mark will not stop others trying to impersonate or exploit it, but it will make it much easier and cheaper to stop them from doing so. Many social media websites, online auction sites, hosting providers and other website operators have what are known as ‘notice and takedown’ policies. These policies set out when a service provider will respond to a request to remove content, branding or goods. Demonstrating the existence and infringement of a trade mark registration is often a necessary requirement for ensuring that swift action will be taken to protect your brand online. For example, generally on Twitter impersonation is not enough to require an account to be deactivated unless an element of deliberate confusion or deception is present. However, action will be taken to deal with an account that infringes a trade mark.

A trade mark registration also provides for more direct enforcement and policing of your brand. It can form the basis of a ‘cease and desist’ letter and litigation against those trying to exploit your brand, if it should come to that. While other legal routes exist to protect against the misuse of a word or a logo – such as an action for ‘passing off’ – none is as effective, both in
terms of time and cost, as being able to rely on infringement of a registered trade mark.

What if I just wait until my brand has really taken off before trying to protect it?

There are many examples of businesses (particularly start-ups) failing to register their brand due to considerations of time, cost and so on: just ask Twitter itself. The social media giant was founded in March 2006 and rapidly gained popularity. Despite this, steps weren’t taken until 2007 to register the trade mark ‘Twitter’ and it wasn’t until 2009 that it tried to register the now-familiar ‘t’ logo and the trade marks ‘Tweet’ and ‘Retweet’.

Because it didn’t invest in its growing brand by registering trade marks early, Twitter had no straightforward, cost-effective way of preventing others from using ‘Twitter’ or similar variations in an attempt to free-ride on the popularity of Twitter. Predictably, lengthy and avoidable litigation ensued. Twitter also incurred further expense in subsequently having to take steps to secure the rights to its brand by having to block numerous applications in the USA to register trade marks for Twitter,, Tweetmarks and others.

The lessons learned from Twitter’s trade mark difficulties do not just apply to large organisations; small and medium-sized businesses also need to take steps at an early stage to protect their brand.

The bottom line

The bottom line for any business is this: if you think, hope or dream that one day your business and your brand will be worth something, then you cannot risk not taking the necessary steps now to secure the rights to it – for a fraction of the effort and cost of doing so later.

For further information, please contact Brian Johnston ( Matthews (),Á
or Deirdre Kilroy ( of our Intellectual Property and Technology Unit.


Facebook Advertising: The Introduction of Hashtags

June 19, 2013 · Posted in Facebook, hashtag, marketing, social media, Twitter · Posted by Blog Administrator · Comment 

By Rob Beirne, Digital Marketer at Wolfgang Digital

Earlier this week, Facebook announced the introduction of clickable, searchable and trendable hashtags. Like every new feature Facebook releases, hashtags will be rolled out gradually. They are following in the footsteps of Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and, of course, Twitter. It is a move which will streamline branding strategies across the major social

Facebook as a Second Screen

Facebook wants to allow people to get involved in real-time conversations on their platform in a way which has been impossible up to now. Their aim is to be considered as a ‘second screen’ for users to interact with content such as TV shows or new stories. The aim is to become the first port-of-call for people who want to keep up with real-time news and events. It’s a position Twitter has made its own in the last couple of years and it’s going to be a real challenge for Facebook to knock them off their perch.
The ‘Problem’ of Privacy

One clear obstacle which will hinder Facebook’s quest is privacy. This is something which differentiates Facebook from Twitter, where most people have public accounts which can be seen by anyone. Some may say that Twitter has the upper hand here; when someone searches for a hashtag on Twitter, they are likely to see entire conversations. This is in contrast to
Facebook, where users will only be able to see input from users who have made their posts public. With most posts only visible to the user’s friends by default, this is an issue Facebook is going to have to address.

So Facebook users may not see the whole conversation when they search a hashtag; this is not necessarily a bad thing for advertisers. Their content will be more visible and less lost in the mass of information seen on the likes of Twitter. Although advertisers will not be allowed to employ paid ads in the hashtag search results, they are being encouraged by Facebook to use hashtags in their ads across all channels and can still get involved in real-time conversations through the use of hashtags. This means that Facebook will become a more engaging platform for brands. Advertisers can now tap into
Facebook’s huge user base much more easily.

Leveraging Interest Targeting

Another interesting implication of Facebook hashtags is their role in determining people’s interests. Currently, Facebook does this by looking at the Pages a user has liked or followed. People ‘Like’ Pages for a variety of reasons. For example, if a friend creates a Page for their business, you may ‘Like’ it to show support – but you might have no interest in the service they provide.

Status updates are a much stronger indication of a user’s interests, but until now there has been no effective way of categorising their content. By monitoring users’ use of hashtags in status updates or hashtag searches, Facebook will glean a better understanding of user interests. This will allow Facebook to really improve their ability to accurately determine
someone’s interests. This in turn affords advertisers a much better chance of showing an ad to the most relevant user.

The Humble Hashtag

The humble hashtag has permeated into popular culture. With the vast reach of Facebook, this is a trend that we see continuing. Twitter has been incredibly successful as it facilitates real-time, public conversations among masses of people. Now that Facebook is jumping on the hashtag bandwagon, advertisers have the opportunity to reach more people than ever before. What’s more, they can reach them instantly. It will be very interesting to see how this develops in the next few months. As is often the case with online advertising, those who adapt early and do it well will reap the rewards. Those
who don’t will get left behind.

How do you plan on using Facebook hashtags for your brand?

Rob Beirne

Growing Irish businesses despite Economic turmoil through online freelancers

April 16, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized · Posted by Blog Administrator · Comment 

GUEST BLOG FROM Steffen Breinholt Hedebrandt of, the world’s leading online work platform, just spend three busy days in Dublin. Here we met a lot of inspiring and determined Irish people, who despite the challenges of the current economic environment are now launching new businesses.

Dublin has within the recent years been hailed as one of Europe’s most promising StartUp hubs, not least thanks to the
good work of Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Internet Association (IIA). But there are also challenges: around 1,500 IT developers are urgently needed, while on the other hand there is a high unemployment. offers a potential solution to these issues. Every month, more than 100,000 jobs and projects are posted on
the platform, by businesses looking for freelancers. The jobs range from IT development to Creative tasks, Marketing, Virtual Assistance to Translations, Accounting, Book keeping and Engineering. In fact, as long as a job does not demand a physical presence, it can be completed through Elance. For businesses facing the challenge of finding niche skills that can be immediate applied to projects Elance can provide the skills they need. On the other hand, for those who have been made redundant during the financial crisis, Elance is a place to apply your skills and find work.

How Elance has helped grow a Dublin business

Pat Walsh, a Dublin based Elance user has been hiring freelancers for five years on Elance, which has enabled him to grow
his Irish Businesses, amongst others, the Sky Business Centres network of Services office centres. Pat Walsh says “Elance has enabled Sky Business Centres to access a global talent pool as and when we need it. We have access to 24 hour workers and can upsize and downsize our development teams to suit whatever our current project commitments are.

In addition to providing Irish businesses access to a global workforce, Elance provides the opportunity for any Irish unemployed person with an internet connection to bid on the 100,000 jobs posted monthly on the platform.

Areas in Ireland which have been hard hit by unemployment including administration, legal, architectural, and engineering
are in high demand on the global Elance platform.  There is strong demand for native English speaking freelancers with professional skillsets.”

Start as a freelancer, become an entrepreneur – Elance Freelancer

If you are in the unfortunate situation that the financial crisis has left you redundant in your company due to decreasing turnover, there is a solution available online that might lead you to the next step in your career. Local Dublin-based business  A-Cubed Software Limited had been using since inception and Aditi Bhattacharya, their Head of Technology Adoption says: “ is a platform that takes your local business to a global audience and market. It is one of our main sales avenues with a genuinely low initial outlay (towards membership fees) and definitely proven return on investment. It’s almost like having a Sales team work for you as they bring a lot of buyers from around the world. It’s safe for the businesses to use too because provides the basic checks on the prospective clients and offers the escrow facility which
means none of the project works will ever go unpaid.  The feedback facility is an added bonus for serious businesses such as ourselves where we can showcase with conviction the skills and talent we have.

We see as a strong tool for growth and already more than 50% of our revenue comes from outside Ireland thanks to’s global reach. Kudos to the team!”

How does the future look for online work?

The advantages of Elance, while very relevant to the current situation in Ireland, also reflect the wider global changes taking place in the way we work. Thanks to innovative and disruptive technologies, geographical location is a far less relevant factor in getting a job done. Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Times says:

Anything that removes geography as a hiring impediment is a good thing for project teams. The bones of the Internet itself, the protocols that govern how machines communicate across it, were developed decades ago by people working at remote
locations and swapping reference documentation. Now that power of remote collaboration is open to businesses of all sizes, the market for labour and skills can be tapped in a way that suits agile businesses working on novel projects.

Smart businesses and freelancers are reacting to this trend. By harnessing the power of remote collaboration, Irish businesses and those individuals affected by the downturn can turn the situation to their advantage. Launch Scholarship Programme for the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Diploma in eCommerce Management

February 14, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized · Posted by Blog Administrator · 1 Comment 

Today:, Ireland’s first social superstore, has today (13th February) announced details of a new strategic partnership with the Irish Internet Association (IIA). is to provide a scholarship programme for three candidates to undertake the IIA Diploma in eCommerce Management combined with a six-month internship programme.
The eleven-week, part-time diploma course starts on February 28th, with all course fees paid for by

Speaking at the launch of the scholarship programme, Dara O’Mahony, founder and CEO of, said “ is delighted to provide this opportunity to support those wishing to upskill from offline to online retail.  By collaborating with the Irish Internet Association, we know that candidates will experience the highest quality course lecturers, breadth of modules and learning outcomes that will deliver precisely what we look for in terms training and knowledge for a great eCommerce Manager.  We are looking for candidates who are seeking to move from offline to online retail.  Following
an interview process, we will place three successful candidates on the IIA eCommerce course and also offer them a six-month internship as part of this strategic partnership.

He added: “We know there are people out there who have significant retail experience in the market but who have also lost their jobs due to the downturn in traditional retail. Rather than have these skills leave our shores, we believe that we can retain these skills by offering a Jobsbridge place with while supporting them in formal training. will be paying all the course fees for the successful candidates and we will support them in the workplace by allowing them to rotate experience across all aspects of an eCommerce business from warehousing and fulfilment, to digital marketing, to product buying and customer service and sales.  As a fast-growing company, we believe that we will also be able to offer a full-time position to successful candidates once the programme ends.”
CEO of the IIA, Joan Mulvihill, highlighted the scale of opportunity within online sales in Ireland. “With €4billion being spent online by Irish shoppers annually, the growth opportunity for Irish retailers is enormous and with that comes increased demand for eCommerce professionals.  Businesses such as are challenged to find candidates with the requisite skills.   The very fact that have come forward to pay course fees for three candidates is testimony to their commitment to the sector and, indeed, to the scale of the skills challenge faced by so many retailers.   For those considering the course, the value of combining the Diploma with an internship is a great way to optimise their career prospects.   Other member companies are also offering internships in the hope of securing a full-time, talented
employee at the end.  This is a truly industry-led programme”.

Mulvihill added: “For anyone wishing to avail of the internship, we would encourage them to send us their CVs as soon as possible. There are three scholarships available on the Diploma course starting in two weeks but also a number of other
high-quality internships”.

This scholarship will be granted by directly, and, along with the internships on offer, will be subject to interview procedures. This course has been designed by the Irish Internet Association and its leading industry expert lecturers and practitioners.

Course enrolment is now open and all details are available on


For further information, please contact:

Joan Mulvihill, Irish Internet Association: 01 5424154 / 086 389 7552

Karen White Hume Brophy, 0867713326,

Patrick Donohoe, Hume Brophy, 0860293726,

IIA eCommerce Working Group Members

Bob Curran……………………………………………Buy4Now
Tracy Glynn…………………………………………..Releax Payments
Graham Merriman…………………………………Carrickane Consulting
Kevin Murray…………………………………………Nightline’s ParcelMotel
Gordon Newman…………………………………….Life Style Sports
Vinny O’Brien………………………………………
Rory O’Connor………………………………………

Ecommerce Best Practice from jocks and socks sellers Manpacks

October 15, 2012 · Posted in Brand, eCommerce, events, Uncategorized · Posted by Blog Administrator · Comment 

This is a guest post from Jennie Molphy who attended our eCommerce Breakfast Briefing with Andrew Draper of This post is also on Jennie own blog

Manpacks, if you haven’t heard of them, are an ecommerce success story founded by two guys who came up with a great concept for selling undies. The idea is a subscription-based ecommerce business model for mens underwear. They bundle underwear, socks and other manly goods, customers sign up for an order and they get them sent every 3 or 6 months thus replenishing their drawers, so to speak.  Fantastic – even if it does put some Mums out of business.


Andrew Draper kindly shared their story this morning at an IIA eCommerce Breakfast Briefing. The audience was a mix of suits and casuals (spot the techies) spread across the assorted sofas of Engine Yards rather cool, loft style ‘offices’ based in Barrow Street.

So what were his nuggets of ecommerce wisdom informing ecommerce best practice:
User Experience and Testing

Andrew outlined the amount of testing that they did on the design of the site, and continue to do. Initially, traffic levels were too low for effective A/B testing and they carried out what he called ‘pulse testing’. They tested a version for 5 days and carefully segmented the traffic to check conversion rates. Then they iterated. They kept Steve Krug’s usability mantra, and book title, ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ to the forefront of their minds and recognised the importance of reducing the cognitive load at the beginning of the customer journey. Make it easy for them to do what they want to do and what you want them to do. And that’s to shop.
Customer-centric approach

He pointed to the Online Chat option on the site which has been hugely important in establishing relationships with their customers. It’s often his co-founder Ken doing the chatting. In terms of email contact with customers he recommended never using ‘no-reply’ emails. In contrast to many businesses, they positively encourage questions in emails.

Social Media:     Twitter was a very strong channel for them, especially in the beginning. But even now, they spend a lot of time talking to customers across different channels. At the time of writing the Facebook page couldn’t be found – he wasn’t aware of what happened there.
Press:    Press mentions were a big help in getting the word out.
PPC:       They tried Google AdWords but found the conversion rates weren’t strong and now run brand campaigns only. They’ve experienced better conversion rates with Facebook ads. They run ads for 3 days, with perhaps 10 to 20 different ad formats and then analyse results. This just goes to emphasise the importance of testing as many businesses experience fairly low conversion rates on this platform.
SEO:  I asked Andrew about their approach to SEO, he said their approach to site design was user experience first and then optimisation. Initially, the organic traffic was only about 2%. Now they have dedicated product landing pages for all products. From a user perspective this isn’t obvious and doesn’t impact on the user journey.
Sponsorship:      They undertake activities like sponsoring video games, which is a powerful way to connect with their target audience.

All in all, great insights and a lovely guy and thanks to the IIA for organising. The key takeaway I think to successful selling online is know your customer, be fun and talk to them.

I especially like the mission statement of the Director of Marketing & Social Media:

Awesome all the things!

Unfortunately they don’t ship to Europe so you won’t be able to get a Manpack here. Not yet anyhow.

If you’re running an ecommerce site and are looking for a payments solution I’d best mention IIA member WorldNet TPS for a great service.

Digitise the Nation – A nationwide digitial inclusion training roadshow

August 28, 2012 · Posted in accessibility, Digitise the Nation, events, Uncategorized · Posted by Blog Administrator · 1 Comment 

You may have read about it or even seen the bright orange, mobile training unit in your area but for those of you who haven’t, Digitise the Nation – A nationwide digital inclusion campaign is back and on the road!

The IIA have launched “Digitise the Nation” for 2012.  The bright orange, mobile training unit has been taking to the road ensuring that all members of society have training and access to all the benefits that being online brings.  This stand-out orange training unit will be visiting towns throughout Ireland over the coming twelve months and the IIA welcome everyone to get on board to get online.

A unique aspect of the Digitise the Nation Campaign is the number of sponsors involved and the breadth of industry collaboration.  Microsoft,, and RaboDirect are coming together in a very hands-on way to support delivery of this training.  No other digital inclusion initiative has enrolled such a range of supporters and the IIA is delighted to be the fulcrum for such a gathering.

The mobile nature of this Digitise the Nation training means that anyone from anywhere is invited to contact us via our website to find training dates and locations as well as request training for their own locality.

Digitise the Nation has been designed to deliver the following;

  • How to get started on email and internet calls to stay in touch with family and friends
  • How to use the internet to find value and save money
  • Using the internet to find jobs, news, information
  • Building confidence and feeling included

Record number of entries for Dot ie Net Visionary Awards 2012 – Shortlist Announced and Public Voting Opens

August 27, 2012 · Posted in Dot ie Net Visionary Awards 2012, events · Posted by Blog Administrator · Comment 

Tuesday, 21st of August, 2012: The Irish Internet Association (“IIA”)  announced the shortlist for this year’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards and online voting is now open.  It’s the start of award season and the fully refreshed IIA awards are the first off.  With huge thanks to our headline sponsor in IE Domain Registry Limited (“IEDR”), new categories, a stunning venue at the National Gallery of Ireland and a record number of entries, up 30% on last year, these awards are the ones to watch.

The IIA have been setting the agenda all year – eCommerce strategy, BRIC export market opportunities, cloud standards, development for accessibility and much more.  We’ve reflected these issues in the new categories; Best International “we’ll conquer the world” Irish Technology Business, The Bravest and Best “brick to click” Business, Most “joyous to look and splendid to use” Web Design, Most Indispensible Cloud Service for SMEs.  These awards are more than just trophies, they are coveted titles.

Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association, is particularly pleased with industry reaction. “The sheer number of entrants was overwhelming.  It’s a great sign of the positivity, determination and creativity of the sector. We are truly grateful to our panel of expert judges who have had the tough job of shortlisting the nominations to go forward for the public vote”.

She added: “Now that the shortlist is announced, the voting is open to the public, This year, for the first time, we are combining the public vote with the judges score to determine the ultimate category winners. This new departure will ensure that the winning entry is regarded by customers, peers and judges alike as the very best in class.”

The Dot ie Net Visionary Awards are so named in honour of IEDR as headline sponsor for the second year running. Commenting on their involvement, Angela Butler, IEDR Finance and Operations Manager says, “The IE Domain Registry is delighted to again be the headline sponsor for this year’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards. The fact that the judges scores will be combined with public votes means that the  Awards will provide a clear picture of best practice in the Irish Internet community, while also serving to highlight the most popular, useful and notable websites in Ireland. The IEDR are delighted to see an increase in entries and awards categories. We are always keen to promote and celebrate dot ie websites which can be used as quality benchmarks for Irish businesses and individuals to guide them in improving their own online offerings.”

The Dot ie Net Visionary Awards, now in their 14th year will be held on Friday, 28th September at the prestigious Wintergarden at the National Gallery of Ireland – perfectly befitting a celebration of the creativity and genius of the industry. Category sponsors for the awards include: RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, Fexco, Paypal, Telecity Group, Digital Hub Development Agency, Elucidate.

For further information and ticket details please visit

e=com² : Retail strategy or Einstein theory

August 8, 2012 · Posted in Business Guides, eCommerce, email marketing, IIA Team · Posted by Blog Administrator · 1 Comment 

Joan Mulvihill’s response to Irish Independent article “Irish consumers to spend €20bn online by 2020 but strategy needed” please click here to read.

This is an interesting article. The stats are ones that have been touted for quite some time so there is nothing new there. What is interesting about this article is not what it says but rather what it does not say. There has been talk for ages now of a National Digital Strategy, which according to this article is “underway” and will be implemented in the “coming years”. And yet, it is not even this rather slow pace that is of interest to me. What interests me is the dearth of even headline ideas/concepts or indeed the nature of the ‘brave decisions’ that need to be made.  My sense is that some of the strategy makers believe that supporting Irish retailers to have ecommerce websites is the answer to the problem.  If only more Irish retailers would sell their products online then people wouldn’t shop from overseas anymore.   I’m unconvinced.
The IIA has long supported Irish businesses developing their online sales proposition to enhance their relationship with their customers; through the provision of better value, better range and more choice. But that is not to say that every retailer should have their own site.  Some need to take a more creative approach to channel management.

An understanding of consumer behaviour is required. Shoppers are not buying from Amazon or Net-A-Porter or ASOS because of the dearth of books, toys or clothes to buy from Irish retailers online. They are buying from Amazon, Net-a-Porter and ASOS because of their breadth of range, their pricing and ultimately free or comparatively low cost to ship.  It costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town when I’m shopping.  It definitely costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town, buy something and post it to New York to my godchild for her birthday.  And so if I look online to Irish independent retailers, it is clear that they are hampered and disadvantaged by expensive shipping costs relative to the price of the item and short delivery times are a serious premium.

It is incredibly difficult for Irish retailers to compete.   The National Digital Strategy element that deals with ecommerce has to encapsulate the infrastructure that supports ecommerce.  And that infrastructure includes a lot more than quality broadband.

The size of the Irish market is small.  Irish retailers’ capacity to reach scale and enjoy any economies of that scale requires vision for developing an international presence.   We solicit the best tech companies in the world to set up in Ireland, many of whom provide online sales services. Is that the kernel of a solution?   I want to support Irish independent retailers by ensuring they have the tools that they need to market their products/services but unless we sort out the infrastructure and the ambition for international retail then only a small number can achieve the scale needed to succeed.   Perhaps our best bet for getting the Irish consumer to buy online from businesses in Ireland is to attract the ecommerce giants to HQ in Ireland.   We’ve secured the tech companies that support them so why not secure them directly.

The strategy for achieving this would be predicated on having the best online sales specialists, fulfillment/operations planners, designers, digital advertisers and customer service operators based in Ireland with localised fulfillment centres overseas. We could incentive these businesses to operate through Ireland with a special online sales tax incentive and develop Ireland as an ecommerce hub for the sale of goods AND services online. Combined with the digital content strategy of the IDSC, ecommerce for digital content (books, music, film) in addition to the sale of physical goods might all be funnelled through Ireland as the uniquely placed global ecommerce hub.

This is what interests me. This article might not be revealing anything new or insightful but it stimulates thought. Creativity exists within the cracks.

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