Kenmore Design’s Alex Sherbakov Talks Web Evolution in FX Realm

Forex Magnates spoke with Alex Sherbakov, CEO at Kenmore Design, for his explanation on Kenmore’s ascension

Forex Magnates spoke with Alex Sherbakov, CEO at Kenmore Design, for his explanation on Kenmore’s ascension as well as the web evolution on FX markets.

1. Can you tell me how Kenmore Design began and entered into the FX realm?

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Kenmore Design was born out of a small web design team in 2007 when Boston was just becoming America’s new Silicon Valley. We began with a focus on design and usability and quickly realized the potential of customer relationship management systems as IT startups flourished in Boston.

We adapted our direction and began to focus on this new objective. We worked a lot with Sugar CRM, even gaining recognition within the community with a number of awards, but usability balanced with functionality was always the goal so we started to repurpose resources.

In 2008 we pursued another venture focusing on real estate related services and CRM needs, which taught us more about the intricacies of customer relationship management, marketing and managing big data.

The shift in the US real estate market caused us to re-focus our talent and the booming foreign exchange market quickly took the spotlight. By 2008 we had already designed several websites for various FX Brokers.

Boston Technologies, then a young and promising startup, was a neighbor who happened to like our work. We realized the marketplace appreciated our niche offering and we continued to focus on offering it more powerful tools.

We applied the same concepts: design, usability and marketing. Additionally, having exposure to large data tables in real estate enabled us to build the state-of-the art infrastructure behind Trader’s Room.

2. What are the core components of Kenmore Design’s business today?

New brokers entering the market today have similar characteristics to Boston startups. They:

  • Enter the market with minimal investment
  • Focus primarily on an internet-driven audience
  • Operate small but highly efficient teams

The only exception is that FX is a much more global business, of course. What we offer is a very focused service line primarily catering to the needs of retail brokers. We offer them the tools they need to execute these operations efficiently:

  • Enabling global web presence and enabling Internet marketing
  • Automating business operations to the maximum possible extent
  • Streamlining operations that cannot be automated
  • Minimizing cost and in turn increasing profitability

3. Give us your opinion on the impact of the web evolution on FX Markets?

The web is still evolving. Being a first-hand witness to it is quite exhilarating. Social networks are turning into advertising space and new APIs provide access to new data and authentication every day. Moreover, identity verification mechanisms that seemed impossible just months ago are now readily available.

The web is well positioned for growth and the number of people accessing it and doing business online will continue to grow. The competition for the web services market is exploding and hence providing consumers with a higher quality product through the economics of competition. This is still only a beginning.

4. What do you expect the future of the web will bring to FX?

That’s a great question. Unlike the FX market it is possible to foresee the nearest future. Ultimately, the fundamentals of a successful web presence are the same as they were in 2007: design, usability and marketing. I’d say the ever-evolving implementations of these key functions will be vital to doing business in 2015, 2020 and beyond.

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You see, design is not just a pretty picture. It combines experience, engineering and requires many talented people all over the world, including our employees, to stay up all night just to allow the user to experience something in their browser that seems to flow in a way that is so natural it’s often unnoticed.

This level of fluidity is the greatest reward for our designers. Usability is often very easy to understand but very hard to implement. It needs to be thoroughly tested. The product of continuous usability testing is a product that does not require a manual.

In 2007, Internet Marketing was what really enabled all of the technology startups in Boston. Back then it was the second-largest revenue source for us and we were great at it. Back then:

  • Firms used organic SEO (page title, subject, description tags)
  • They would hire an employee with basic computer skills to set it up and it would yield better results than your PPC ads
  • The same staff member could post a hundred-or-so ads on local classifieds back-linking to the website
  • If executed correctly, this was the best thing to do in 2007
  • Firms began spending more and more on PPC ads. I remember when the price per click for a keyword that one of our clients was using went up by over 2000%! You could drive users to the website via other advertising channels such as radio, TV, outdoor billboards, newspapers, yellow pages and direct mail.

Local optimization had a huge impact since most of the web‐based businesses were not completely integrated with their operations. I remember we had over 200 pages on our website targeting specific geographical regions just so that our potential clients would see the name of their city or state mentioned somewhere.

5. Fast-forward to late 2014 and early 2015 and what do we see?

  • Web content generation and distribution dominates the marketer’s to-do list today
  • Analytics and optimization of marketing campaigns
  • Personalization and micro-targeting in everything, from personalized content and design of landing pages to target-specific wording.
  • Web videos and storytelling.
  • Mobile everything
  • Diversified approach to social media

6. Do you believe that Internet marketing can be done following the same rulebook in different industries? Different geographic or demographic groups?

It depends how thick that rulebook is. If the rulebook is short, it is likely only to cover the concepts leaving all the creativity to the marketer. But if the rulebook gives a marketer step-by-step directions, it’s better that it be a marketing plan written by an agency for the specific company in question.

It also helps us to remember that in 2015 the Internet has managed to organize and provide access to data that was not available before. That, along with a very short list of marketing platforms, makes the marketer’s job easier and way more fun than it was in 2007.

7. What are Kenmore Design’s plans for 2015?

Lots of plans and big updates! First of all we need to make sure the market stabilizes. We need to boost the confidence of traders and investors holding their funds. We will also provide brokerages with marketing tools and ways to stay in touch with their clients on a new, more personalized level, but at the same time minimize the time spent one-on-one.

We are going to do this by implementing browser-based tools that are widely used and already proven effective by universities and other educational institutions. By using these FX Optimized online classrooms, we hope to minimize the time-spend by Brokers and IBs on educating traders and investors.

We plan to provide tools such as no-download screen sharing, voice, chat, presentation and even webcam video sharing! The end goal is to have an all-in-one browser window with the ability to create sessions with an unlimited number of attendees.

Another thing we are going to do is bring a different kind of analytics to FX. We saw this in other industries and we believe that having in-depth and yet easy to understand web analytics is vital for a successful marketing campaign.

Something as simple as reviewing the conversion rate by country or bounce rate by visitor language can make web marketers and developers realize what adjustments need to be made to boost their numbers.

Finally, we’ve listened to our customers’ feedback and are rolling out support for new trading platforms. Spotware, cTrader and xStation are on top of the list.

I also want to encourage those who lost their jobs or businesses over the recent market shakeup. I hope to see new technology and liquidity providers appearing on the market, and I hope it creates a better, more stable and transparent environment for everyone.

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