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Five Questions for Krista Lariviere – President, Hot Banana

Krista Lariviere
_As President & Co-Founder, Krista Lariviere has led “Hot Banana”: through sustained growth and consistent quarterly profitability from 1999-2005. Hot Banana’s _Active Marketing Web Content Management Suite_ allows non-technical users to fully manage Web site content, make changes on-the-fly, launch Internet marketing campaigns and use WebTrends analytics to measure results and Web site performance._
*One Degree: You call Hot Banana the “Active Marketing Web Content Management Suite”. What do you mean by that?*
Hot Banana is a Web Content Management System (WCM) with fully integrated Active Marketing functionality. We’ve built Hot Banana from the ground up, based upon the four pillars of Internet Marketing, or Active Marketing as we like to call it:
# Web Content Management – the ability for non-technical editors and marketing execs to control Web content in a fast and flexible manner. With on-the-fly editing of the content, corporate Web sites, intranets, extranets and micro marketing sites can all be easily managed and updated with no IT help.
# Internet Marketing – Hot Banana is a platform for the creation and delivery of Internet marketing and email marketing campaigns.
# SEO – Hot Banana is naturally search engine friendly and optimized and organically ranks Web sites very well with all the major search engines.
# Web Analytics – Hot Banana has WebTrends 7 fully integrated and therefore marketing Web analytics can be used to track and measure Web site behaviour and marketing campaign ROI.
With these major Active Marketing attributes, Hot Banana is a platform for all kinds of pro-active marketing activities and therefore plays a significant part in the marketing campaign process cycle: content creation, customer acquisition, lead generation, branding, and customer retention.
*One Degree: You recently did a major upgrade to your site at What key learnings from past sites helped you build this one?*

Our key learning is that our new Web site had to be totally focused on meeting our major business objectives – to generate the maximum number of qualified sales leads. The site has been totally optimized for the search engines and all aspects of creativity, technical implementation, copy and content were geared towards maximizing search engine rankings.
We then had to think very carefully about the implementation of WebTrends Web analytics and how we wanted to convert web site visitors into qualified sales leads. We did this by building into the site constant calls to action, such as, “how do I buy Hot Banana?”, “sign me up for a Webinar”, “book me a one-on-one demo”, “send me news alerts”, “call us now”, etc. These actions would then bring web visitors to a simple form that we built (using the Hot Banana Form Builder) to capture their key information, email and interests, so we can respond to them with specific sales follow up.
*One Degree: Some companies in Toronto worry they won’t get respect on the global stage because of their home in the Great White North. You call Barrie Ontario home. Has this been an issue in dealing with an international base of clients and prospects?*
The quality of life and the access to so many winter and summer recreational activities here in Barrie, and the lower costs, make this an excellent location for an emerging technology company vs. Markham or Mississauga. The talent pool here is also growing significantly as people choose to move out of the GTA. To date we’ve had no issues with our location. As we reach out into the US and Europe our location becomes less important. We’re just one hour north of Toronto. Our biggest perception problem exists with doing business with companies in the GTA, who can’t quite believe that a world-class technology company even exists in Barrie. Our next step is to set up offices directly in the US in our key markets.
*One Degree: What do you consider the greatest misconception people have of CMS?*
The biggest misconception with content management is the presumption people have that when the site is built, its perfect and doesn’t need to be improved much further. Then the marketing department realizes that their site isn’t ranked well in the search engines and the content doesn’t sell and guide the web site visitors through a pre-determined funnel of call to actions resulting in the capture of the visitors’ information. The content development process is a process of continual improvement using the results of web analytics to make constant refinements and improvements to the content and how the visitors behave. Web content isn’t easy to develop and create. The writing of good web copy involves optimizing the content for search engines and making the copy sell so the visitor can be guided along a call to action process. We content has to be an investment in time and budget to be successful and is often forgotten.
For large enterprises and enterprise CMS not only has a large price tag, but can be difficult to use and implement. A smaller web CMS, such as Hot Banana has much of the enterprise CMS functionality but is designed to be easy to use by non-technical content administrators.
*One Degree: I remember Beaver vending machines from my childhood. They seem like an odd candidate for a case study on web effectiveness, but there they are on your “case study page”: What’s the story behind the story?*
We love using “Beaver Vending”: as one of our case studies because they are in fact a Canadian success story. They’re doing a considerable amount of international business, they’re growing rapidly, and they have a unique product line. When they started using Hot Banana they experienced a very significant change in their business model, as a considerable amount of new sales leads started to come from their web site. As a manufacturer they are not a sexy business or blue chip, but everyone can relate to an ordinary business that had dramatic eMarketing results – also their vending machines are everywhere as they have a huge market share in North America – and who doesn’t mind spending 25 cents on a gumball?