Punchmark 2018 Year in Review
Written by Bryan Cockerham
Punchmark 2018 Year in Review
2018 was an incredible year. Never in Punchmark's history have we had so many ups and downs. Our team grew by three, two babies were born right in the middle of the year, we started the ground-up reconstruction of our entire platform, and our services changed drastically to better meet the needs of our clients in the decade to come. To say that we spread ourselves thin is an understatement. There were times that we missed deadlines, and times we didn't communicate well: two things that we don't take lightly here at Punchmark. As the year closed out, we were able to pull ourselves back out of the trenches, and become a stronger company than we have ever been, with more of the level of product quality our clients have come to know. And this is just the beginning.
If we looked at 2018 from an aerial view, the biggest visible landmark would be the architecture and building of Version 6 (V6) of our SiteManager website platform. This was the largest project in Punchmark history, and something we had been planning for more than a year. Having the best technology is a challenge we all strive to maintain, and there were things we always wanted in our platform that we never had before.
Punchmark stays ahead by rebuilding our platform every few years using newer code and newer technologies. The dream we had for V6 was much bigger. Version 6 was a complete architecture overhaul to prepare ourselves to lead the future of jewelry websites. V6 has measurably faster mobile page load speed. The framework was built using modules, so that anything can be snapped in—from new ecommerce payment gateways to new APIs for taxes and accounting. Clients have much more control; from a cleaned up admin interface to the ability to create content and pages with full flexibility.
We invested everything we had in terms of time, money, and resources—often spending until 2 a.m. working on the new platform. As V6 materialized, there were some delays. Our project timeline got thrown off by 2 babies being born, increases in project scope, some large partnerships that we will announce later this year, and the overwhelming growth of our digital marketing programs. If we had been able to better predict the extent of these delays, we would have done a better job relaying this to our client base. Communication is one thing we would have done differently if we got the chance to do it again. The good news is that by the end of 2018, we had launched our 50th client on the beta V6 version, and the feedback, despite being in beta, has been very positive. The platform is a dream to build on, and advancements are already happening faster than they ever have before.
In 2018 Joshua Camden, who had been serving as our digital marketing advisor/mentor, decided to come help us grow our team full time. He has had a unique and profound background, starting and selling his first company by the age of 22. Joining in July, he immediately hit the ground running, strategizing for our clients.
Joshua started by rebuilding our digital marketing program, creating 3 affordable packages around the needs of our client base. ROI has always been our main target, and within 3 months, he was exceeding clients' expectations in terms of performance in both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM/Adwords). This is the fourth digital marketing team that Joshua has lead, and he knows how to do things right by our clients. We have re-invested 90% of the revenue from the program to ensure that we are giving our clients the best service they can get. We have surpassed all expectations in terms of growth of this program, and we are excited about the measurable impact it has had for clients.
The Year Ahead
Each year comes with lessons learned, things on our wish list that we either did or didn't get to fulfill, and steps forward and back toward the vision for Punchmark's future that we all can't wait to build. In 2019, we look forward to deeper partnerships with the companies that are aligned with us; together we can do a lot more good for our clients. Another thing we have allocated more resources toward is the effort to obtain better images and product data from jewelry vendors. We're proud of the vendors we've brought on to create our Premium Vendor program, but even the data we get from them is insufficient for what our clients need. In 2019 we plan to take a stronger stance, showing the vendors why they need to have better quality data, then offering services to take some of the burden off of them if they're not in a position to invest resources themselves.
Around the corner into 2019 is the full release of Version 6 of the Sitemanager platform, complete with PageBuilder, more advanced POS capabilities, ecommerce fraud protection, more payment gateways, item categorization using AI, and a much more organized user interface. Enhancements to our Engagement Ring Builder make it look more polished and we've introduced the capability of ecommerce into it as well. Advanced clients will have all the functionality they need to manipulate meta information on any page for SEO purposes, as well as adding facebook pixels, conversion pixels, and success messages for any digital marketing campaigns they're running. The feature list is too long to put here, but needless to say, we're excited.
In order to achieve these goals for 2019, we have begun the process of making some key hires, which was long overdue. We are very excited about deploying our improved processes regarding project management and customer support, with the proper staff in place to back them. We are also expanding our digital marketing team to improve our delivery on reporting, and improve on our SEO and AdWords processes. And our development team is undergoing constant expansion to ensure we can can maintain active code, build new features, and handle custom work for clients.
The last big thing on our checklist for 2019 is offering more webinars and training regarding ecommerce and digital marketing. We want to help our clients take it to the next level and join the world of ecommerce to the extent it makes sense for them to do so. We offer the technology and the services, but there is a lot that has to happen on the retailer's side to adopt this new way of thinking. We want to help bridge that gap.