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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Four expert digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects

January 15, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • To convert bottom-funnel prospects, must combine data-backed remarketing with product experience demonstrations, exclusive offers, and relevant upsell opportunities. The first one determines who you should target while the rest three explain how to target them.
  • Dynamic remarketing on (Facebook and Google) allow you to target prospects who have previously visited your website or app with a call-to-action to make an immediate purchase.
  • Product demos, customer reviews, testimonials, etc. work best when they are personalized, showing how your product can help a prospect overcome similar problems that they may be facing.
  • Use special offers and discounts as last-minute nudges to convert prospects.
  • Pre-purchase cross-selling/upselling can work well if you apply non-aggressive strategies.

The toughest prospects lie at the bottom of the marketing funnel. The lowest rung is the stage where prospects take the action of conversion. That makes it a hot battleground. At that stage, the prospect is already aware of all their options. Marketing to them is a matter of conviction, giving the last nudge that leads them to make a purchase decision in your favor. There are no sales if you can’t convert bottom-funnel prospects.

Conversion funnel diagram

Source: Pixabay

The further down the funnel a customer goes, the more you should position your product as the utmost solution that they need. For this, you must combine remarketing with product experience demonstrations, exclusive offers, and relevant upsell opportunities. The first one determines who you should target while the rest three explain how to target them. 

1. Remarketing/Retargeting ads 

The entire idea behind remarketing is to recapture the interest of brand-aware sales prospects and convert them the next time around. It’s the perfect BOFU strategy, and it works best for ecommerce stores. It’s not as easy as it seems, though. BOFU remarketing should aim at straightforward conversion and not just to make the prospects learn more

For instance, if you have an ecommerce site, your retargeting strategy could include a call-to-action with a direct link to check out (if the prospect already has products in their cart) or to quickly add products to their cart (if they had previously only browsed your store). Those are called dynamic ads by Facebook (or dynamic remarketing by Google) and used by many ecommerce stores to display ads that include products that people have viewed on their website or app. 

Digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects - Retarget ads Facebook model

Source: Facebook Dynamic Ads formats

When setting up remarketing ads with Google Display Network or Facebook Ads Manager, you can set goals based on actions you want customers to take, such as buying on your website or calling your business directly (customers may require support to complete a purchase, particularly in B2B marketing). 

2. Demonstrate implementation

The BOFU is your ultimate chance to argue your case for your product and show, not just why it’s better than its competitors, but primarily how it can help the prospect. 

In displaying testimonials and video demos, personalization remains sacrosanct. Show each prospect a review or a demo that matches their particular needs. This works best if you have previously collected some information about the prospect (at the TOFU and MOFU stages). 

If your product addresses customers across multiple industries, for instance, display industry-specific use cases, demos, customer stories, and reviews. A prospect will be more encouraged to convert when they see how your product has helped other people who had similar needs to theirs. You must show them. 

Digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects - Demonstrate implementation

Source: A Hubstaff demo video runs on its landing page

Mind you, demonstrating implementation for B2B products is not limited to content. It can also come as an offer for consultation. Consultations allow you to collect valuable data and understand your prospective customer while also giving you a direct chance to break down how your product helps them solve their specific problems in a way that online ads can’t.

3. Offer a discount or special offer

BOFU marketing aims to make a prospect at the decision stage one irresistible offer that tilts the balance of their conviction towards your product. Special offers can help you achieve this. For instance, offering free delivery or free installation when your competitors charge for the same service may win you many more customers/clients than otherwise.

Customers love discounts. According to the 2020 Valassis Consumer Intel Report, 60% of customers claim that coupons lead them to try new products while 53% admit that coupons can make them choose a brand they would typically not patronize. More so, 72% prioritize saving money by using coupons/discounts. 

Digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects - Offer discounts and special offers - Example Valassis

Source: Valassis

While incentivizing prospects to make a purchase is perhaps the most common strategy, it’s not always effective. Especially during times like the holiday season when there is no shortage of discounts. You need a distinct plan to get ahead and convert bottom-funnel prospects. 

Discount pricing is not just about throwing offers around indiscriminately. It requires careful strategizing. To make discounting successful, you need to know the kind of special offers that work for your audience best. A/B testing comes in handy here. It can help you determine if free shipping works better than, say, a 10 percent discount or a freebie for your audience. 

4. Pre-purchase cross-selling or upselling

It seems counterintuitive to offer a prospect an additional (even more expensive) item when they are not yet convinced to purchase the main product. Marketers usually wait until a lead is converted before upselling to them. Pre-purchase cross-sells/upsells are tricky, which is why many marketers avoid them, you don’t want to scare off an already convinced customer by asking them to shell out more money for an expensive addition. On ecommerce websites, pre-purchase cross-sells/upsells are usually displayed on the product page, cart page, or checkout page. 

Doing it right requires tact. Pre-purchase cross-sell/upsell opportunities must be:

  • Relevant – They work best with complementary products.
  • Easy to turn down – You want to appear as non-aggressive as possible to avoid turning your prospects off.
  • Easy to accept – When a prospect is only one click away from conversion, extending the process may make you lose the prospect. Ecommerce companies are now opting for one-click upsells that add no extra step to the purchase journey.

See the examples below. Both are cross-selling/upselling offers for relevant products. While the first one elongates the purchase process but makes declining very easy, the second one is more optimized with its one-click checkout options either way.

Digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects - Custom pop ups on check out

Source: DigiSmoothie

Source: Zipify

Conclusion

Creativity matters more than intensity when you aim to convert bottom-funnel prospects. It’s all about the nudge. That’s the time to make use of all the information you have gathered about the prospect throughout their customer journey to determine what moves them. Perhaps a 5% discount would work for a certain class of your audience, while another demographic must be convinced via video demos. It all boils down to the type of product you are offering and the type of audience you are trying to convert.

Guy Sheetrit is the CEO of Over The Top SEO, an award-winning marketing agency that provides customized SEO marketing solutions for ecommerce, local, and Fortune 500 companies. He can be found on Twitter @guysheetrit.

The post Four expert digital marketing strategies to convert bottom-funnel prospects appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Tracy Chou launches Block Party to combat online harassment and abuse

January 15, 2021 No Comments

Block Party, an anti-harassment startup that aims to help folks feel safer on social media founded by Tracy Chou, launched today. Currently only available for Twitter, Block Party helps people filter out the content they don’t want to see and into what Block Party calls the Lockout Folder. That’s where all of the filtered-out content lives in the event you want to review it later.

“We think it’s important to still acknowledge that these people exist,” Chou told me.

If you pretend like it doesn’t exist, you might miss out on useful information or genuine connections.

“There’s a lot of good stuff that would get lost there,” she said. “There is a reason we use public platforms like Twitter.”

On the more negative side, she said, you still may need to check periodically to see if there’s someone threatening your physical safety.

Helpers play a big part of the Block Party experience. You can grant a trusted helper access to your Lockout Folder to let you know if there’s anything useful in there, or to simply block the trolls.

“It’s a lot easier for someone else to help you process it and flag something that is a concern,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to share that burden. The current design of most of these platforms is to put the burden of dealing with it solely on the person who’s being abused.”

The Lockout Folder also serves as a record-keeping tool in the event you need to present evidence of your harassment to a company, a lawyer or someone else.

Image Credits: Screenshot/Block Party

“It’s really about trying to make people’s lives easier,” Chou said. “It’s just so painful to have to see the abuse again when you’re filing the report.”

Block Party emerged from Chou’s own experiences working at platform companies like Facebook and Quora, as well as her experience as an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech. At Quora, the block button was one of the first things she built after being harassed on the platform, Chou told me.

“There’s that perspective of having been on the inside and seeing how product and engineering teams work,” Chou said. “But also being a DEI activist and seeing how lack of representation on teams has impacted product decisions for the worst.”

Although Block Party is only available for Twitter users, the goal is to add other platforms and help folks address harassers that target them across multiple platforms. Block Party is currently free but plans to introduce subscription tiers. Still, Chou said she envisions the free version always existing.

To date, Block Party has raised a little less than $ 1.5 million in funding. Its lead pre-seed round was led by Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures. Other investors include Alexia Bonatsos, Ellen Pao, Alex Stamos and others.

 


Startups – TechCrunch


Not All B2B Conversions Are Equal: How To Determine the Value of a Conversion

January 15, 2021 No Comments

One Sr. Strategist outlines 2 strategies to help B2B marketers dive deeper into assigning value to different stages of the funnel and different conversions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Advanced guide to creating an editorial calendar that boosts conversions

January 15, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Content creation can be an overwhelming task for websites/blogs that need to push out content on a daily basis, to a consistent audience.
  • ‘Quality’ exceeds ‘Quantity’ and webmasters and content creators should absolutely follow that to make sure they’re not churning low-quality content pieces for their audience. This is where the requirement of an ‘Editorial Calendar’ comes in.
  • With the careful implementation of the right Editorial Calendar, content teams can stay prepared and streamline their efforts towards the common goal.
  • There are various formats that one can work with. However, as they progress with the events of their calendar, they will need to keep updating their Editorial Calendar for relevance, based on feedback.
  • The benefits are myriad. The team is clearly able to see the number of published content for a given period and make modifications accordingly.

Did you know that 86% of B2C companies use content marketing as a part of their marketing strategy? The significance lies in two facts: the right mix of content marketing strategies can reach out to a wider audience. And the successful ones can provide the audience more than what they come to expect. High-quality content that comes from the right content marketing mix is not only useful for the audience but also helps brands establish a reputed impression for the target demographic. And it is highly agreed that an ‘Editorial Calendar’ is the stepping stone to creating a great content mix that is going to work wonders for the efforts put in by marketers.

With a schedule in place, marketers are able to use the editorial calendar to control their content type for media platforms during a given period. They are able to coordinate content for publishing blog posts, ebooks, White papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, newsletters, or social media.

Editorial calendar - Template

By better organizing and scheduling the brand’s content packets,  an editorial calendar can help everyone on the team streamline their efforts.

An editorial calendar’s contribution to your business and brand

There’s so much to accomplish when an appropriate and strategically crafted editorial calendar is in place for the marketing team to work with. It becomes fairly easy to keep track and be prepared for upcoming content. The team is clearly able to see the number of published content for a given period. And any lack of strategy or effort gets reflected instantly and this is when it can be addressed right in time, without missing any deadlines.

While all of that is a collective team effort, a calendar also helps keep every team member accountable for the tasks they are designated with. Based on what others are doing to keep the content and marketing vehicle moving, everyone can prioritize tasks and manage their time more effectively, without having to hastily create content that might not be high in quality.

Moving on, content marketers cannot deny the fact that content redundancy is a thing. While an editorial calendar cannot completely eliminate this, it can help your team make adjustments ahead of time.

So, what does it take to create that perfect editorial calendar that works wonders and boosts conversions? Let’s find out in this guide below.

Contents of a successful Editorial Calendar

Your marketing calendar can be in any of these three formats: a spreadsheet, an application, or a printed calendar.

While freedom of choice can be well exercised in assessing the format of your editorial calendar, it is what’s inside that really matters. Keeping it elaborate is highly recommended so that any other team member is always able to comprehend it.

Advanced guide to creating an editorial calendar: Categorizing an editorial calendar

The designs and contents of the calendar should sit well and align with all the roles associated with the responsibilities of creating content. We are talking – Content Writers, Bloggers, Content Managers, Social Media Content Manager, Editor, Assistant Editor, and the likes. While they have individual roles to serve, a well-crafted editorial calendar will act as a common reference for them to plan and merge their tasks, track deadlines, and churn high-quality content. Based on your strategy, the editorial calendar can carry a variety of details. Here’s an ideal listicle:

  • Type of Content
  • The title
  • Date of publication
  • Time of publication
  • Title, headline, or content topic
  • Author of content
  • Status of content completion
  • Content completion deadline
  • Feedback/Revision
  • Publish URL/Platform
  • Audience engagement metrics

The listicle is not hard-bound. Based on the needs of your content mix and what your brand is wanting to achieve with the calendar, the major fields can keep changing. And as and when the brand grows, the calendar can either get more complex or even simpler.

How to create a super-effective Editorial Calendar

Step 1: Jot down your priorities

You can start jotting down all the topics that you would want to cover in a listicle format. If you have already written a lot of content, then make sure to check out the subjects that you are yet to cover.

If you used to write generalized content previously, then try to write something that can address the specific concern of your audience. For example, if you own a website of mobile phones, then you can attempt to compose a buying guide on them. Remember, your goal is to help those people who are struggling to find a perfect device that suits their budget.

In addition to it, you would also need to determine your specific blog goals. Once you have found it, then you can put together different marketing targets, such as –

  • Getting more web traffic to your blog site
  • Enhancing the infrastructure of your blog’s on-site and off-site SEO
  • Boosting the reach and awareness of your blog
  • Generating more conversations and leads for improving your clientele list
  • Building a base of loyalty among your target customer and audience

Step 2: Decide upon your publication channels

Your editorial calendar is a reflection of planning. There are several channels available out there for publishing your work and each of them suits different types of writing. Make sure you assess them appropriately for publishing your posts, ebooks, White papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, newsletters, or social media

Step 3: Determine the frequency of your posts

Now, you will need to determine the number of posts that you are willing to upload at a regular interval. Just make sure to keep your momentum intact. A streamlined publishing schedule can help boost conversion because while the audience gets high-quality content to engage with, they can also rely on the brand to keep coming up with similar content to keep things moving. When they know when to expect your posts, they keep checking your space at regular intervals, helping strengthen their trust in your brand.

Step 4: Create a proper spreadsheet

Whether you are planning for business or trying to market your content, a spreadsheet can help you in several ways. With it, you can keep track of a lot of crucial things. For an editorial calendar, here’s what you can put down on the spreadsheet:

  • Date of publication
  • Choice of SEO optimized keywords
  • The name of the author
  • Description of the content
  • Title of the write-up
  • Status (complete, draft, hold, or published)
  • A proper list of CTAs
  • Your marketing goals
  • Channels of publication

Make sure to create the spreadsheet on your Google Drive to collaborate with your team members. Also, if you are thinking about creating something a bit sophisticated, then you can try out WordPress’ Editorial Calendar plugin for your WordPress blog as well. You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog. Here’s what else you can do:

  1. See all of your posts and when they’ll be posted.
  2. Drag and drop to change your post dates.
  3. Manage your drafts with the new drafts drawer.
  4. Quickly edit post titles, contents, and times.
  5. Publish posts or manage drafts.
  6. Easily see the status of your posts.
  7. Manage posts from multiple authors.

Step 5: Fill It up

As of now, you have only created the editorial calendar. So, to make it fully functional, you will need to fill it up. While writing for different spaces, try to come up with as many ideas as possible. But, make sure to be a little bit realistic as well. Moreover, if you are trying to help out people through your content, then make sure to focus more on the takeaway proposition of your blogs. In a guide-stylized write-up, you will need to add as many tips as possible.

Step 6: Strategize your workflow

The last step in this aspect for you would be strategizing your workflow. Collaborate and discuss with your team members to achieve all the following aspects:

  • Your marketing goals
  • A proper editorial guide (for helping the team produce niche content)
  • A thorough suggestion-based list on how to operate through the editorial calendar
  • The name of your team members and their responsibilities
  • Feedback, if any

The right content mix to successfully engage your audience

Yet another reason to implement the usage of editorial calendars across your content and marketing team is that they help you achieve a balance of the right mix; a mix that is going to successfully engage your audience and serve them everything but in the right ratios.

Let us put this in simpler words.

For example, your brand is publishing either a lot of blog posts or a lot of video content, without balancing the mix. Too much of any content type and under-utilization of other types can seriously harm your content strategy and you might miss out on an entire segment of your audience. This is where the visual nature of an editorial calendar can help your brand strike the right balance of published content formats.

Advanced Editorial Calendar tips for marketers

While editorial calendars are not entirely new to the marketing space, many experienced marketers still miss out on fronts that can help them ace their marketing mix for absolute success. Here are the most common ones:

  • Reviewing the editorial calendar and making changes to it at regular intervals is highly recommended. This is important because the marketing strategy can keep evolving and that needs to be reflected in the planning calendar as well. This can lead to changes in your publishing schedule and also the topics you choose to explore.
  • It is absolutely necessary to determine if your current publishing schedule is increasing your reader engagement. Any drop in the number of visitors needs to be looked into and fixed with additional efforts and changes in the publishing schedule.
  • Do not shy away from investing in project management tools like Trello to help you create your calendar. The tool offers ready-made templates that can fit your strategy like a glove. It lets you move tiles on a board to mark the start-to-finish for each project. However, if you are using Trello, make sure you are making the most out of them.

We absolutely love how editorial calendars are such a loop activity to work with. The trajectory of published pieces does not only easily help the team determine if the content was done properly but also lets them know if follow-up content would be required. This is where new content ideas can also shape up. Hence, the workflow and thought of the organizational chain can be easily established with the right editorial calendar in place. Remember, it is always about publishing the next best piece of content for your audience to engage with. So, keep working with your editorial calendar to make the most out of it.

Good luck with your editorial planning!

The post Advanced guide to creating an editorial calendar that boosts conversions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Trump circumvents Twitter ban to decry ‘unprecedented assault on free speech’

January 14, 2021 No Comments

Following a comprehensive ban from Twitter and a number of other online services following last week’s assault on the Capitol by his followers, President Trump managed to put out a tweet in the form of a video address touching on the “calamity at the Capitol”… and, of course, his deplatforming.

In the video, Trump instructs his followers to shun violence, calling it un-American. “No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence,” he said, days after calling rioters “great patriots” and telling them “we love you, you’re very special” as they despoiled the House and Senate.

He pivoted after a few minutes to the topic that, after his historic second impeachment, is almost certainly foremost on his mind: being banned from his chief instrument of governance, Twitter.

“I also want to say a few words about the unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days,” he said, although the bans and other actions are all due to documented breaches of the platforms’ rules. “The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong, and they are dangerous. What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another.”

After having his @realdonaldtrump handle suspended by Twitter, Trump attempted to sockpuppet a few other prominent accounts of allies, but was swiftly shut down. What everyone assumed must be plans to join Parler were scuttled along with the social network itself, which has warned it may be permanently taken offline after Amazon and other internet infrastructure companies refused to host it.

In case you’re wondering how Trump was able to slip this one past Twitter’s pretty decisive ban to begin with, we were curious too.

Twitter tells TechCrunch:

This Tweet is not in violation of the Twitter Rules. As we previously made clear, other official administration accounts, including @WhiteHouse, are permitted to Tweet as long as they do not demonstrably engage in ban evasion or share content that otherwise violates the Twitter Rules.

In other words, while Trump the person was banned, Trump the head of the Executive branch may still have some right, in the remaining week he holds the office, to utilize Twitter as a way of communicating matters of importance to the American people.

This gives a somewhat unfortunate impression of a power move, as Twitter has put itself in the position of determining what is a worthwhile transmission and what is a rabble-rousing incitement to violence. I’ve asked the company to clarify how it is determined whether what Trump does on this account is considered ban evasion.

Meanwhile, almost simultaneous with Trump’s surprise tweet, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey unloaded 13 tweets’ worth of thoughts about the situation:

I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.

That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications. While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us.

Jack neither reaches any real conclusions nor illuminates any new plans, but it’s clear he is thinking real hard about this. As he notes, however, it’ll take a lot of work to establish the “one humanity working together” he envisions as a sort of stretch goal for Twitter and the internet in general.

 


Social – TechCrunch


Tokyo-based SODA, which runs Japan’s largest sneaker resell platform, lands $22 million led by SoftBank Ventures Asia

January 14, 2021 No Comments

Tokyo-based SODA, which runs sneaker reselling platform SNKRDUNK, has raised a $ 22 million Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia. Investors also included basepartners, Colopl Next, THE GUILD and other strategic partners. Part of the funding will be used to expand into other Asian countries. Most of SNKRDUNK’s transactions are within Japan now, but it plans to become a cross-border marketplace.

Along with SODA’s $ 3 million Series A last year, this brings the startup’s total funding to $ 25 million.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was initially expected to put a damper on the sneaker resell market, C2C marketplaces have actually seen their business increase. For example, StockX, one of the biggest sneaker resell platforms in the world (which hit a valuation of $ 2.8 billion after its recent Series E), said May and June 2020 were its biggest months for sales ever.

SNKRDUNK’s sales also grew last year, and in December 2020, it recorded a 3,000% year-over-year increase in monthly gross merchandise value. Chief executive officer Yuta Uchiyama told TechCrunch this was because demand for sneakers remained high, while more people also started buying things online.

A lifestyle image of two men promoting SNKRDUNK, Japan's largest sneaker reselling platform

A promotional image from SNKRDUNK, Japan’s largest sneaker reselling platform

Launched in 2018, SNKRDUNK now has 2.5 million monthly users, which it says makes it the largest C2C sneaker marketplace in Japan. The Series B will allow it to speed up the pace of its international expansion, add more categories and expand its authentication facilities.

Like StockX and GOAT, SNKRDUNK’s user fees cover authentication holds before sneakers are sent to buyers. The company partners with FAKE BUSTERS, an authentication service based in Japan, to check sneakers before they are sent to buyers.

In addition to its marketplace, SNKRDUNK also runs a sneaker news site and an online community.

SODA plans to work with other companies in SoftBank Venture Asia’s portfolio that develop AI-based tech to help automate its operations, including logistics, payment, customer service and counterfeit inspection.


Startups – TechCrunch


Google Ads Remarketing Step-By-Step

January 14, 2021 No Comments

In this guide, we delve into key topics and give best practices based on experience and Google recommendations.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


How to use XPath expressions to enhance your SEO and content strategy

January 13, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • As Google increasingly favors sites with content that exudes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), it is imperative that SEOs and marketers produce content that is not just well written, but that also demonstrates expertise.
  • How do you understand what topics and concerns matter most to your customer base?
  • Can you use Q&As to inform content strategies?
  •  XPath notations can be your treasure trove.
  • Catalyst’s Organic Search Manager, Brad McCourt shares a detailed guide on using XPath notations and your favorite crawler to quickly obtain the Q&As in a straightforward and digestible format.

As Google increasingly favors sites with content that exudes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), it is imperative that SEOs and marketers produce content that is not just well written, but that also demonstrates expertise. One way to demonstrate expertise on a subject or product is to answer common customer questions directly in your content.

But, how do you identify what those questions are? How do you understand what topics and concerns matter most?   

The good news is that they are hiding in plain sight. Chances are, your consumers have been shouting at the top of their keyboards in the Q&A sections of sites like Amazon.

XPath and how to find customer questions and preferences

These sections are a treasure trove of (mostly) serious questions that real customers have about the products you are selling.

How do you use these Q&As to inform content strategies? XPath notation is your answer.

You can use XPath notations and your favorite crawler to quickly obtain the Q&As in a straightforward and digestible format. XPath spares you from clicking through endless screens of questions by automating the collection of important insights for your content strategy.

What is XPath?

XML Path (XPath) is a query language developed by W3 to navigate XML documents and select specified nodes of data.

The notation XPath uses is called “expressions”. Using these expressions, you can effectively pull any data that you need from a website as long as there is a consistent structure between webpages.

This means you can use this language to pull any publicly available data in the source code, including questions from a selection of Amazon Q&A pages.

This article is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on XPath. For that, there are plenty of resources from W3. However, XPath is easy enough to learn with only knowing the structure of XML and HTML documents. This is what makes it such a powerful tool for SEOs regardless of coding prowess.

Let’s walk through an example to show you how…

Using XPath to pull customer questions from Amazon

Pre-req: Pick your web crawler

While most of the big names in web crawling – Botify, DeepCrawl, OnCrawl – all offer the ability to extract data from the source code, I will be using ScreamingFrog in the example below.

ScreamingFrog is by far the most cost-effective option, allowing you to crawl up to 500 URLs without buying a license. For larger projects you can buy a license. This will allow you to crawl as many URLs as your RAM can handle.

Step one: Collect the URLs to crawl

For our example, let’s pretend we’re doing research on the topics we should include in our product pages and listings for microspikes. For those unaware, microspikes are an accessory for your boots or shoes. They give you extra grip in wintry conditions, so they are particularly popular among cold-weather hikers and runners.

Example for finding details using Amazon

Source: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=microspikes

Here we have a list of 13 questions and answer pages for the top microspike pages on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, there is some manual work required to create the list.

List of questions - XPath and creating content

The easiest way is to search for the topic (that is, microspikes) and pull links to the top products listed. If you have the product’s ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) handy, you can also generate the URLs using the above format, but switching out the ASIN.

Step two: Determine the XPath

From here, we need to determine the XPath.

In order to figure out the proper XPath notation to use to pull in the desired text, we have two main options:

  1.       View the Source-CodeDetermine the XPath
  2.       View the rendered source code and copy the XPath directly from Chrome’s Inspect Element tool

Copy XPath

You’ll find that the expression needed to locate all questions in an Amazon Q&A page is:

//span[@class=”a-declarative”]

Here is XPath notation broken down:

  •       // is used to locate all instances of the following expression.
  • Span is the specific tag we’re trying to locate. //span will locate every single <span> tag in the source code. There are over 300 of these, so we’ll need to be more specific.
  • @class specifies that //span[@class] will ensure all <span> tags with an assigned class attribute will be located.
  • @class=”a-declarative” dictates that //span[@class=”a-declarative”] only locates <span> tags where the class attribute is set to “a-declarative” – that is, <span class=”a-declarative”>

There is an extra step in order to return the inner text of the specified tag that is located, but ScreamingFrog does the heavy lifting for us.

It’s important to note that this will only work for Amazon Question and Answer pages. If you wanted to pull questions from, say, Quora, TripAdvisor, or any other site, the expression would have to be adjusted to locate the specific entity you desire to collect on a crawl.

Step three: Configure your crawler

Once you have this all set, you can then go into ScreamingFrog.

Configuration -> Custom -> Extraction

Configure your crawler

This will then take you to the Custom Extraction screen.

Custom extraction screen

This is where you can:

  • Give the extraction a name to make it easier to find after the crawl, especially if you’re extracting more than one entity. ScreamingFrog allows you to extract multiple entities during a single crawl.
  • You can then choose the extraction method. In this article, it is all about XPath, but you also have the option of extracting data via CSSPath and REGEX notation as well.
  • Place the desired XPath expression in the “Enter XPath” field. ScreamingFrog will even check your syntax for you, providing a green checkmark if everything checks out.
  • You then have the option to select what you want extracted, be it the full HTML element or the HTML found within the located tag. For our example, we want to extract the text in between any <span> tags with a class attribute set to “a-declarative” so we select “extract text.”

We can then click OK.

Step four: Crawl the desired URLs

Now it’s time to crawl our list of Amazon Q&A pages for microspikes.

First, we’ll need to switch the Mode in ScreamingFrog from “Spider” to “List.”

Then, we can either add our set of URLs manually or upload them from an Excel or other supported format.

After we confirm the list, ScreamingFrog will crawl each URL we provided, extracting the text between all <span> tags containing the class attribute set to “a-declarative.”

In order to see the data collected, you just need to select “Custom Extraction” in ScreamingFrog.

Run the desired URLs

At first glance, the output might not look that exciting.

However, this is only because a lot of unneeded space is included with the data, so you might see some columns that appear blank if they are not expanded to fully display the contents.

Once you copy and paste the data into Excel or your spreadsheet program of choice, you can finally see the data that has been extracted. After some clean-up, you get the final result:

Final list of questions created using XPath

The result is 118 questions that real customers have asked about microspikes in an easily accessible format. With this data at your fingertips, you’re now ready to incorporate this research into your content strategy.

Content strategies

Before diving into content strategies, a quick word to the wise: you can’t just crawl, scrape and publish content from another site, even if it is publicly accessible.

First, that would be plagiarism and expect to be hit with an DMCA notice. Second, you’re not fooling Google. Google knows the original source of the content, and it is extremely unlikely your content is going to rank well – defeating the purpose of this entire strategy.

Instead, this data can be used to inform your strategy and help you produce high quality, unique content that users are searching for.

Now, how do you get started with your analysis?

I recommend first categorizing the questions. For our example there were many questions about:

  • Sizing: What size microspikes are needed for specific shoe/boot sizes?
  • Proper Use – Whether or not microspikes could be used in stores, on slippery roofs, while fishing, mowing lawns, or for walking on plaster?
  • Features: Are they adjustable, type of material, do they come with a carrying case?
  • Concerns: Are they comfortable, do they damage your footwear, do they damage the type of flooring/ground you’re on, durability?

This is an amazing insight into the potential concerns customers might have before purchasing microspikes.

From here, you can use this information to:

1. Enhance existing content on your product and category pages

Incorporate the topics into the product or category descriptions, answering questions shoppers might have pre-emptively.

For our example, we might want to make it abundantly clear how sizing works – including a sizing chart and specifically mentioning types of footwear the product may or may not be compatible with.

2. Build out a short on-page FAQ section featuring original content, answering commonly asked questions

Make sure to implement FAQPage Schema.org markup for a better chance to appear for listings like People Also Ask sections, which are increasingly taking up real estate in the search results.

For our example, we can answer commonly asked questions about comfort, damage to footwear, durability, and adjustability. We could also address if the product comes with a carrying case and how to best store the product for travel.

3. Produce a product guide, incorporating answers to popular questions surrounding a product or category

Another strategy is to produce an extensive one-stop product guide showcasing specific use cases, sizing, limitations, and features. For our example, we could create specific content for each use case like hiking, running in icy conditions, and more.

Even better, incorporate videos, images, charts, and featured products with a clear path to purchase.

Using this approach your end product will be content that shows expertise, the authority on a subject, and most importantly, addresses customer concerns and questions before they even think to ask. This will help prevent your customers from having to do additional research or contact customer service. Thanks to your informative and helpful content, they will be more ready to make a purchase.

Furthermore, this approach also has the potential to lower product return rates. Informed customers are less likely to purchase the wrong product based upon assumed or incomplete knowledge.

Conclusion

Amazon is just the tip of the iceberg here. You can realistically apply this strategy to any site that has publicly accessible data to extract, be that questions from Quora about a product category, Trip Advisor reviews about hotels, music venues, and attractions, or even discussions on Reddit.

The more informed you are about what your customers are expecting when visiting your site, the better you can serve those expectations, motivate purchases, decrease bounces, and improve organic search performance.

Brad McCourt is an Organic Search Manager at Catalyst’s Boston office. 

The post How to use XPath expressions to enhance your SEO and content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Slim.ai announces $6.6M seed to build container DevOps platform

January 12, 2021 No Comments

We are more than seven years into the notion of modern containerization, and it still requires a complex set of tools and a high level of knowledge on how containers work. The DockerSlim open source project developed several years ago from a desire to remove some of that complexity for developers.

Slim.ai, a new startup that wants to build a commercial product on top of the open source project, announced a $ 6.6 million seed round today from Boldstart Ventures, Decibel Partners, FXP Ventures and TechAviv Founder Partners.

Company co-founder and CEO John Amaral says he and fellow co-founder and CTO Kyle Quest have worked together for years, but it was Quest who started and nurtured DockerSlim. “We started coming together around a project that Kyle built called DockerSlim. He’s the primary author, inventor and up until we started doing this company, the sole proprietor of that of that community,” Amaral explained.

At the time Quest built DockerSlim in 2015, he was working with Docker containers and he wanted a way to automate some of the lower level tasks involved in dealing with them. “I wanted to solve my own pain points and problems that I had to deal with, and my team had to deal with dealing with containers. Containers were an exciting new technology, but there was a lot of domain knowledge you needed to build production-grade applications and not everybody had that kind of domain expertise on the team, which is pretty common in almost every team,” he said.

He originally built the tool to optimize container images, but he began looking at other aspects of the DevOps lifecycle including the author, build, deploy and run phases. He found as he looked at that, he saw the possibility of building a commercial company on top of the open source project.

Quinn says that while the open source project is a starting point, he and Amaral see a lot of areas to expand. “You need to integrate it into your developer workflow and then you have different systems you deal with, different container registries, different cloud environments and all of that. […] You need a solution that can address those needs and doing that through an open source tool is challenging, and that’s where there’s a lot of opportunity to provide premium value and have a commercial product offering,” Quinn explained.

Ed Sim, founder and general partner at Boldstart Ventures, one of the seed investors sees a company bringing innovation to an area of technology where it has been lacking, while putting some more control in the hands of developers. “Slim can shift that all left and give developers the power through the Slim tools to answer all those questions, and then, boom, they can develop containers, push them into production and then DevOps can do their thing,” he said.

They are just 15 people right now including the founders, but Amaral says building a diverse and inclusive company is important to him, and that’s why one of his early hires was head of culture. “One of the first two or three people we brought into the company was our head of culture. We actually have that role in our company now, and she is a rock star and a highly competent and focused person on building a great culture. Culture and diversity to me are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

The company is still in the very early stages of developing that product. In the meantime, they continue to nurture the open source project and to build a community around that. They hope to use that as a springboard to build interest in the commercial product, which should be available some time later this year.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Review Ads on Social for eCommerce Brands [Case Study]

January 12, 2021 No Comments

One paid social expert tested product review imagery in her Facebook Ads. The results were promising – check out her case study to learn how she ran the test.

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