Edge SEO for eCommerce: How to Spend Less for Faster SEO Implementation

Learn how to use Edge SEO to implement SEO changes without coding or requiring developers to change your backend.

eCommerce companies trying to improve their SEO often run into a host of bottlenecks that get in the way.

These bottlenecks can occur for a few reasons:

  • Long development queues, meaning that even quality SEO recommendations could take months to incorporate;
  • Unavailable, cost prohibitive or otherwise uncooperative developers;
  • Limits to functionality, such as a hosted platform not allowing you to edit your own Robots.txt file, or the inability to host a WordPress blog on the same subdomain as your store.

These boil down to two problems: either your eCommerce platform won’t let you make these SEO changes, or development logistics, costs, and personalities get in the way.

Each of these problems point to the same potential solution. In this article, we’ll be discussing a unique strategy currently gaining steam in SEO circles. It’s one we think many eCommerce could use: Edge SEO.

Edge SEO, originally coined by Dan Taylor of SALT.agency, can make implementing some SEO modifications quick and inexpensive with simple tools we’ll highlight here. In this article, we’ll discuss what Edge SEO is, how it works, and outline some specific use cases for your eCommerce site that make it easy for even non-developers to implement several specific SEO changes in a hurry.

Note: You can talk to one of our SEO experts about how we can help you implement SEO changes faster with Edge SEO, as well as do an overall eCommerce SEO audit, by reaching out here.

What is Edge SEO?

Let’s start with a simple explanation of Edge SEO. Edge SEO is a process or method where code modifications (in this case for SEO purposes) that you would generally make in your main codebase, are implemented instead “at the edge” of a CDN (Content Delivery Network).  

As requests and responses are sent between a user of your website and your main web server/host these requests can be “captured” and “modified” at the Edge—allowing modifications to be made to the HTTP response and accompanying HTML, CSS, and JS code (and effectively “implementing” SEO at the edge).

Users and bots like Googlebot only see/crawl the modified code thereby making it appear as if these changes were made on your main codebase.  

A graphic depicting how Edge SEO works with the server directly in the center, surrounded by the CDN and then finally the user.

With the proper tools in place in your “middle layer”—the CDN—you can implement changes with a few clicks and work around the limitations of your eCommerce platform and your development queue.

How Edge SEO Lets Marketers Implement Site Changes (No Coding Required)

Here is the flow of how to “do” Edge SEO compared to traditional methods of implementing SEO advice.

Your SEO agency, consultant, or in house employee, delivers a set of recommendations. Let’s say they involve things like making changes to robots.txt, setting up a bunch of redirects, and more.

We’ll call these “site changes”.

Normally, you’d have to ask your development team to implement these changes, and that’s subject to the obstacles we mentioned at the top of this article.

With the Edge SEO process, the marketing team instead would use some sort of cloud network or CDN platform. One of the most well-suited ones out today is Cloudflare, so for the purposes of this article, we’ll use them as an example.

So in the Edge SEO process, instead of going to developers to do your redirects, you’d go directly inside Cloudflare and make them there:

Cloudflare lets you make redirect changes directly.

Note: no coding or server-side programming is required to do this.

Out of the box, Cloudflare lets you make certain site changes that often fall in the bucket of “SEO tactics”, including:

  • Auto Minify HTML, CSS, and JS
  • Image Compression
  • Redirects, including 301/302 redirects
  • Managing your DNS (to verify domain properties in Google Search Console)
  • Implementing HTTPS and other security layers
Manage speed performance settings within Cloudflare too.

But what about additional site changes that SEOs often recommend (and we often recommend for our client’s when optimizing their sites), such as:

  • Editing large amounts of title tags and meta tags for product pages
  • Making changes to the robots.txt file which can be limited by some hosted platforms
  • Adding image alt attributes across a large set of product pages
  • Hosting a blog in a subdirectory, as opposed to an additional subdomain
  • Uploading a list of redirects in bulk
  • Implementing Hreflang tags
  • A/B testing your SEO

Fortunately, Cloudflare has a feature that lets you essentially make any site change using Javascript code called Cloudflare “Workers” (an additional $5/month).

Normally this would require another bottleneck: more work from your developers. Fortunately, there are now tools that integrate with the Cloudflare Workers feature—so you can circumvent developers or limitations of your eCommerce platform to implement these changes as well:

  • Spark is a “meta CMS for SEO teams,” currently in the alpha testing phase. We have early access to this and have found it’s especially powerful for additional features like setting up A/B tests. If you’re interested in experimenting with Edge SEO, consider registering with them.
The Spark interface
  • Sloth.cloud is currently in version 1.1, and gives you more robust features for using Cloudflare’s Workers feature. That includes A/B testing as well as modifying or overriding your Robots.txt file.
The Sloth interface

Armed with tools like Spark and Sloth, any non-developer with access to Cloudflare Workers can implement advanced Edge SEO changes. These tools, integrated with Cloudflare Workers, will fill in the missing gaps of Cloudflare’s “out of the box” solutions and let marketers quickly and easily implement site changes that can improve organic rankings as per their SEO experts’ recommendations.

Next, let’s look one by one to a series of typical site changes that—in our decade of experience doing eCommerce SEO—many eCommerce sites may need to make at some point.

Use Cases: Solving Specific eCommerce SEO Problems with Edge SEO

Handling ‘Out of Stock’ Products

A product that’s gone out of stock still leaves a product page behind. This can get tricky with SEO depending on what you plan to do with the page. Edge SEO makes it easy to incorporate one common choice: redirecting a product page to a category page or even 404ing the discontinued product page if it makes sense to do so.

For further reading on what choices you’ll have to make, refer to our post on How to Manage Out of Stock Products for SEO. You’ll find Sloth.cloud’s Redirect Manager/Implementation tool to be convenient for implementing redirects. This can also be done directly in Cloudflare’s interface with Page Rules.

Mass Adding Image Alt Attributes to Product Images

You can mass add image alt attributes with Spark. For example, you can configure Spark to use the “variables” scraped from within a product page to automatically create image alt attributes. It only requires a one-time setup from your end. This is critical for any team with thousands of products requiring on-page SEO improvements like alt attributes for images.

Using a Blog Directory Instead of an Additional Subdomain

If you run a blog hosted on a different subdomain than your store, putting that blog on a subdirectory on your main subdomain (recommended for SEO benefits) has required complex workarounds like installing and configuring a reverse proxy with unique configuration code to link www.yoursite.com/blog to the hosted blog.

For many, the easier strategy is simply to use a subdomain, blog.yoursite.com, instead. This is, in turn, less effective for SEO.

Luckily, there is now a new and much easier way to serve your blog on your main subdomain using Cloudflare Workers directly as neither Sloth or Spark support this feature yet.

Collecting and Accessing Your Log Files

Hosted eCommerce platforms are notoriously stingy about providing easy access to your log files. You can collect these logs yourself using Edge SEO through a platform like Cloudflare. Here is a resource for one way to set this up manually; you can also use a tool like Sloth to help configure the implementation.

Refer to our guide on basic Log File Analysis to find everything you can accomplish with these logs, especially to identify what the Google Bot is or isn’t crawling on your site.

Editing robots.txt and Proper Canonical and Meta Robots Tags

Robots.txt

Very few systems will limit your ability to edit Robots.txt—but when it’s a problem, it’s a big problem. Edge SEO makes it possible to work around this with a simple interface.

For example, using Sloth allows you to log in, make simple edits to your Robots.txt, save those edits, and go about your day.

Canonical and Meta Tags

You won’t have a lot of access to these edits when using a hosted platform that limits. Edge SEO can make an effective workaround.

Since even Googlebot will view your SEO implementations as though they’re native to the code on your server, you can handle your canonical and meta robots tags in the same way. The changes will have the same SEO effect as if you changed your underlying server’s code—only you’ve done it from a simple interface.

Implementing Redirects

Implementing redirects isn’t always a challenge, but many eCommerce platforms will limit what you can do.

Using a platform like Cloudflare along with an Edge SEO helper tool like Sloth makes it possible for you to easily setup one-off redirects or upload a list of redirects in bulk.

With some self-hosted platforms, implementing these redirects would require you to install a plugin. This can throw a wrench into your overall site performance and security. You avoid the downside by implementing redirects via Edge SEO and skipping the plugins altogether.

Improving Site Speed

Many site speed improvements can be quickly implemented directly in Cloudflare. For example, Cloudflare offers an “Auto Minify Javascript/CSS/HTML” feature which removes all unnecessary white space from your code, speeding up download times to the user. To activate this feature, you simply log in to Cloudflare and check the appropriate box. Be sure to test your results, as sometimes auto-minifying can cause bugs to appear.

For more background on minifying Javascript and improving Site Speed, visit our post on maximizing speed in eCommerce.

Implementing Hreflang Tags

Since Hreflang tag management is central to good international SEO, and using the Hreflang tags properly can result in an influx of international traffic, it makes sense to get it right.

Hreflang tags are notorious for creating problems for the teams in charge of implementing them. For example, which team at your company is responsible for managing these tags? With multiple markets making changes, you might run into issues with controlling your site versions.

Implementing and maintaining Hreflang tags on your site is another limitation of hosted eCommerce, but you can get around this via Edge SEO and implementing your Hreflang strategy using Sloth.io and Cloudflare Workers.

DNS-Level Verification

It’s important to verify your site as a domain property in Google Search Console so you can access all of your data—across every subdomain—in one GSC profile.

You can use Cloudflare to manage your DNS as well, helping ensure you get verified as a domain property.

This feature is native to Cloudflare, which means you can use it right “out of the box” even before you sign up for Workers or implement tools like Spark or Sloth.

A/B Testing Changes in Your SEO

A/B testing SEO changes on your own without some sort of tool in place is extremely difficult. You’ll also be responsible for custom-building your own tests.

But because an Edge SEO platform can function much like a meta-Content Management System, you can use a tool like Spark to build and execute an A/B SEO test, and run them at scale. There’s no need to run expensive tools or run them regularly at a much larger scale with substantial dev investment for each custom test.

Conclusion

Edge SEO is here, and it’s easier than ever. Today, the available tools make it simpler to circumvent your eCommerce SEO limits and optimize your site on your terms—all without relying on your developers for every SEO related modification.

Note: You can talk to one of our SEO experts about how we can help you implement SEO changes faster with Edge SEO, as well as do an overall eCommerce SEO audit, by reaching out here.

Leveraging data driven marketing to gain a competitive advantage like retailer SpearmintLOVE

Before SpearmintLOVE became a powerhouse brand offering children’s clothing and accessories, it was a blog with a devoted social media…Read blog postabout:Leveraging data driven marketing to gain a competitive advantage like retailer SpearmintLOVE
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Before SpearmintLOVE became a powerhouse brand offering children’s clothing and accessories, it was a blog with a devoted social media...Read blog postabout:Leveraging data driven marketing to gain a competitive advantage like retailer SpearmintLOVE

The post Leveraging data driven marketing to gain a competitive advantage like retailer SpearmintLOVE appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

How to Write Better B2B Case Studies: 2 Lessons from Psychology

Third-party endorsement is powerful. As marketers, we know that customers are our best salespeople. Their reviews and testimonials build credibility and trust. Congrats if you’re among the 73% of marketers who publish customer case studies to win hearts, minds, and pockets. In a world of fake news and fake reviews—only 37% of B2B buyers trust […]

The post How to Write Better B2B Case Studies: 2 Lessons from Psychology appeared first on CXL.

Third-party endorsement is powerful. As marketers, we know that customers are our best salespeople. Their reviews and testimonials build credibility and trust.

Congrats if you’re among the 73% of marketers who publish customer case studies to win hearts, minds, and pockets. In a world of fake news and fake reviews—only 37% of B2B buyers trust vendors—genuine customer success stories are precious assets.

Yet, a 2018 B2B content marketing report found that case studies, while frequently created, aren’t always persuasive:

This is a missed opportunity. According to LinkedIn’s Demand Gen Report 2018, case studies are the preferred content format of B2B buyers, with 79% of respondents consuming them in the past 12 months:

They’re also, the report notes, the second-most shared type of content among B2B buyers (after blog posts).

Many buyers rely on social proof. In fact, 94% of buyers go online to evaluate what their peers say about a product or service before deciding. So what’s going wrong?

Having worked with dozens of B2B companies, I’ve seen way too many case studies consigned to the content graveyard before they’ve even drawn breath. Franken-jargon, weird acronyms, loopy narratives. It’s no wonder they get ignored.

Two psychological concepts—cognitive fluency and narrative transportation—can turn yawnsome case studies into hard-working persuasion assets. Ignore either one, and your case studies are likely to fall flat.

But first: why case studies fail to convert

In my experience, sales teams want case studies, but marketing teams are cynical about the engagement they generate. That’s when you end up with boring or lazily written, text-heavy advertisements that do nothing to persuade readers.

Here’s a classic example of a text-heavy and overly promotional case study:

So, B2B buyers say they want case studies. But what’s the potential impact?

What happens when you get case studies right?

Case studies have the potential to fast-track buyers through this self-directed journey, combining everything they need to make a decision—social proof, stories, emotional connection, and data—into one document.

Those elements help buyers know, like, and trust your company.

Know

Case studies cut through the noise. Research shows that word-of-mouth marketing is directly responsible for 20–50% of sales. But short of corralling passionate brand advocates into a room with prospects, it’s not easy to manufacture. Case studies are the next best thing.

Real success stories from genuine customers grab prospects’ attention, especially as more and more tune out traditional advertising.

Like

Case studies amp up your likeability. Did you know that we all have the ability to “catch” each others’ emotions? For example, in sports, when a team is in a good mood, the upbeat spirit transfers to individual players. And when teams are happier, they tend to play better.

Same goes for when someone says that they “love your product,” others are more likely to as well. (One study suggests that B2B buyers are even more emotional than B2C buyers.)

If your case study can highlight the emotional impact of your business on a customer, you’re going to have a stronger chance of upping your likeability. Likeability matters because people buy from people they like.

Take this emotive quote from Gorilla.sc. The enthusiasm is infectious:

Plus, according to the principle of similarity, people like other people whom they perceive as similar. Try to feature customers who most represent your prospects. Similarity leads to liking, which leads to sales.

(For some, it can be tempting to feature the “big name” client in your case study. But if the rest of your clients are small- to medium-sized businesses, the case study may not resonate.)

Trust

Some 78% of B2B buyers placed greater emphasis on the trustworthiness of a piece of content’s source in 2018—the single largest shift in content consumption habits last year. And, according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust earned media, reviews, and testimonials more than any other form of advertising.

Case studies are just as powerful. KlientBoost’s Dale Cudmore writes that case studies are like testimonials on steroids. They deliver a hefty dose of social proof and trust.

If customers are willing to share numbers, data can add credibility. Actual percentages of time saved or dollars earned tell a story of objective success.

Fractl’s case studies place metrics front and center:

Kerry Jones, Director of Marketing at Fractl, says that case studies were a game changer for their B2B marketing efforts. As Jones writes:

case studies are highly effective at converting visitors to leads – about half of our leads view at least one of our case studies before contacting us.

This aligns with Forrester research that touts digital content as the most important driver in B2B purchasing decisions:

  • 60% of business buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information.
  • 68% prefer to research on their own, online.
  • 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list—based solely on digital content.

You may not have data to draw on. Your product may be new, or your results may be hidden behind a non-disclosure agreement. That’s not to say you can’t tap into the power of social proof.

Use real photos of your customer, their full name and job title, verbatim quotes, etc. These little flags of humanity imbue your case studies with credibility.

The more you can anchor “success” in data or your customer’s words, the more credible your case studies become. As TrustRadius implores:

Connect buyers with those who are better equipped to provide them with the balanced feedback they need — your customers.

Two principles are essential to create case studies that achieve the three values outlined above: cognitive fluency and narrative transportation.

Optimizing B2B case studies for maximum impact

1. Write and design for cognitive fluency

People prefer to think about easy things rather than hard things. The feeling of ease or difficulty is known as cognitive fluency. Cognitive fluency often affects a customer’s willingness to convert. (It’s one reason why simple websites are usually better.)

Cognitive fluency applies even to the simplest of tasks. According to a Princeton study, when a company has an easy-to-pronounce name, its shares significantly outperform companies with a less pronounceable name:

If you started with $1,000 and invested it in companies with the 10 most fluent names, you would earn $333 more than you would have had you invested in the 10 with the least fluent.

In short: The easier it is for prospects to understand what you’re saying, the more likely they are to trust—and buy from—you. The Boston Globe describes the phenomenon of how fluency shapes our thinking as: Easy = True.

When your words create friction, you don’t just fail to earn trust. You strip it away. For example, a University of Michigan study showed that people perceive food additives with hard to pronounce names as more harmful than those with easy-to-pronounce names.

In the B2B world, “hard to understand” undermines that same trust in your content and, by proxy, your brand. Consider this excruciating example:

Or how about this?

How many times did you read the headline before you understood it? (I’m still counting.) Now compare it to this one from Wootric:

There’s no need for interpretation. You know exactly what’s in store and whether it’s relevant to you.

B2B companies often limit cognitive fluency by writing for themselves, rather than their customers. Company-centric language is not customer-centric.

Here’s a typical example, filled with unnecessary details about the company and corporate jargon:

The wasteful prose above slows the narrative. As Jack Hart explains in Storycraft, his book on narrative nonfiction, “The trick to writing a good expository segment is to tell readers what they must understand…and no more.” Unless a detail is essential to understand the rest of the case study, it’s dead weight.

Another common shortcoming is burying case study results. Your busy prospects want to see the concrete benefits of your product or service. Boxing out results or highlighting them in sidebar is a great tactic for making them stand out.

Take this example from a DocSend case study:

Remember: Bullet points are your friend. Write for skim readers. Give them the essential nuggets as quickly as possible, like this example from Groove.co, which summarizes the results on the right-hand side of the page:

What else do you need to get right? Four more things.

Four ways to increase cognitive fluency

1. Get rid of jargon. Go with the simpler word. So, instead of:

You could write: “Digital ad tech company cuts management costs by 50% and lowers bid latency to <100MS with Platform Equinix and Unitas Global.”

2. Write how people talk. Read your writing out loud for an extra dose of fluency. So instead of this:

You could write: “With more people using mobile devices at work, security and waste are growing issues that require a new approach to management.”

3. Get to the point. I see a lot of padding in B2B case studies. What could be said in five words is said across five paragraphs.

Take this example:

It would be much easier to read and understand if you summarized it like this:

The bank now has a strong mobile management tool. This means:

  • Fewer security risks;
  • Improved customer experience;
  • Scalable and rigorous monitoring;
  • Future-proofed mobile management.

Human attention spans are short. Choose your words with care. Less information is easier to process, freeing up cognitive resources for more demanding tasks—like clicking your call to action!

4. Make your case study easy on the eye. Cognitive fluency applies to design, too. You only need to look at a classic Apple sales page to see Easy = True in action.

Here’s an example of the opposite of that:

If you want to persuade people with your case study, you need to make it look easy.

That means minimal text, simple fonts, dark type (on light background), and lots of visual interest. Unbounce demonstrates great cognitive fluency, summarising for busy skim readers:

If you want to take your B2B case studies even further, layer in narrative transportation.

2. Embrace narrative transportation

A study that averaged the results of 76 research reports and 21,000 participants found that stories can reliably change the attitudes and intentions of readers and viewers. When people are immersed in a story, it can influence how they think and behave.

A well-written case study can immerse your leads in a story. They get a sense of walking in the shoes of your happy customers. And that feeling helps make your content more persuasive.

Seth Godin said it best: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” But how do you do it?

Borrow the structure of every best-selling movie, novel, and screenplay

Steven Pressfield, author of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, believes everything you write needs to have a three-act structure.

To make nonfiction powerful and engaging, he says, “You must organise your material as if it were a story and as if it were fiction.” (One exception: Whereas fiction often excels by prolonging tension, you’ll need to resolve it quickly.)

To make narrative transportation work, show the transformation of a subject from an initial state to a changed state. And in a good case study, that looks like this:

  1. Challenge;
  2. Solution;
  3. Results/benefits.

Sure, it’s formulaic. So is every Avengers installment. It still works.

To gather source material for that narrative, ask your customers to describe their situation before and after using your product or service. The more emotion you can draw out, the stronger the hook you’ll create.

Hook your reader into the narrative with emotion

The real key to hooking your reader into any narrative is emotion. Demonstrate the personal impact of your product or service, not just the bottom-line improvements.

Thomas Ordahl of Landor Associates explains why the emotional stakes can be unexpectedly high: “B2B buyers are making decisions every day that can change their careers.” Don’t be afraid to talk about your customer’s fears and frustrations, dreams and goals.

  • What made them anxious before you came on the scene?
  • What was at stake for them personally?
  • How is it helping them achieve their career goals?

Build some jeopardy into the narrative. Up the stakes. Make the struggle real. Like this grass seed company case study built around the groundskeeper:

Asking follow-up questions like “How did that make you feel?” is a good way to flip the script from facts to emotions. How do they feel now that the challenge is solved? Relieved? Joyful?  Proud? What does the result mean for them personally?

Prospects’ words can live outside of quotes, too. Using the voice of the customer in your copy is also a powerful way to trip prospects’ triggers. Joanna Wiebe of CopyHackers, champions this technique.

Twilio does a great job of building suspense into its case study on Salesforce. It starts by outlining a last-second change and the scramble to make it:

Then, Twilio sweeps in to save the day:

Before rounding things out with a satisfying, data-backed result:

Creating an emotion-packed narrative took just a few paragraphs. The keys were to highlight the risks and anxiety the problem created, then to tie the nuts-and-bolts solution to a cathartic relief.

The concluding data adds credibility to the narrative and shows the impact of the solution.

Conclusion

Businesses often fail to convert prospects because those leads don’t know if a solution will work for them. Good case studies deliver context, relevance, and credibility.

On the surface, B2B topics may not seem compelling. But, for decision-makers, plenty of emotions are involved. The problems are real. A good decision might earn a promotion. A bad one could cost someone their job.

Two psychological tactics—cognitive fluency and narrative transportation—can help you create something that will earn attention and persuade your audience. Remember to:

  1. Use clear language and design. If it’s easier for someone to understand you, they’re more likely to trust and buy from you.
  2. Embrace storytelling. Stick to a three-act structure that demonstrates the before and after. Ask questions that highlight the emotional experience of your customer—not just the business benefits.

The post How to Write Better B2B Case Studies: 2 Lessons from Psychology appeared first on CXL.

What is Amazon Live?

Between Twitch, Instagram Live, and Facebook Live, it seems like everyone’s trying their hand at livestreaming — and Amazon’s new Amazon Live offering… > Read More
The post What is Amazon Live? appeared first on Retail Performance Marketing Blog – CP…

Between Twitch, Instagram Live, and Facebook Live, it seems like everyone’s trying their hand at livestreaming — and Amazon’s new Amazon Live offering... > Read More

The post What is Amazon Live? appeared first on Retail Performance Marketing Blog - CPC Strategy.

Adobe, WordPress, Google Docs lead CabinetM list of content marketing tools

CabinetM reports content marketing technology is the sixth most popular layer within client martech stacks.

The post Adobe, WordPress, Google Docs lead CabinetM list of content marketing tools appeared first on Marketing Land.

Content marketing technology is the sixth most common layer of customers’ martech stacks, said Anita Brearton, CEO of CabinetM, a marketing technology management platform. And based on her company’s list, Adobe, Google and WordPress are the most common of that mix.

“There is no longer a clean line between content marketing and marketing technology,” said Brearton. “We are all content marketers in one way or another. And, as such, we all use one or more pieces of technology to create, deliver, manage or measure the effectiveness of content.”

Brearton pulled a list of the most often used content marketing tools among her clients and found the number one tool was Adobe Creative Cloud, which CabinetM classifies as a content creation solution.

Top 10 Content Marketing Tools based on CabinetM data:

  1. Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe)
  2. WordPress (Automattic)
  3. Google Docs (Google)
  4. Canva (Canva)
  5. Drupal (Drupal Association)
  6. SharePoint (Microsoft)
  7. Sitecore Web Experience Manager (Sitecore)
  8. Curata Curation Software (Curata)
  9. InVision (InVision)
  10. LiveChat (LiveChat Software)

Of the top 20 content marketing tools from Brearton’s list, five were content creation platforms, three of which showed up in the top 10: Adobe Creation Cloud, Canva and InVision. While content creation platforms made up 20 percent of Brearton’s top 20 most popular content marketing tools, the bulk of the list was divided evenly between content management/workflow solutions, content management systems, content marketing platforms and chat systems.

“One of the biggest trends is that marketers are viewing chat as a content marketing tool and are recognizing that it offers a way to engage customers and enhance the customer experience,” said Brearton, “There are three chat tools in the top 20!”

Drift, a content marketing/chat solution focused on “conversational marketing” came in 16th in Brearton’s list of top 20 content marketing platforms. Brearton said the tool was a big driver in the chat trend.

What makes a great platform? Brad Smith, founder of the content creation firm Codeless, says the true value of content marketing technology isn’t that it allows content marketers to do more, but that enables them to do less.

“Martech removes the time-consuming bottlenecks, making preparation easier, collaboration more seamless, and distribution more consistent. That frees up content marketers to spend more time prioritizing the most difficult part: starting at a blank, white screen and creating something from scratch,” said Smith.

When asked which content marketing technology the team at Codeless finds most helpful, Smith points to everything from an SEO content template from SEMrush, a workflow management platform and a Facebook ads tool.

“We use AdEspresso for social paid promotion,” said Smith, who disclosed the platform is also a client of Codeless. “We pay for an account and use it to automatically run split tests for both ad creative and placements to bring down distribution costs. You can set the variables, and then it will automatically pause under-performing placements and creative, or increase budget on others that are working well.”

One of the content creation tools in Smith’s arsenal of content marketing tech is Grammarly. Codeless uses it to catch glaring errors, but Smith said it also helps his team check for plagiarism (both automated and manual) when contracting out writing assignments to freelancers.

“For example, we commonly see less experienced writers will basically rip off content that’s already out there and that puts us and our clients at risk,” said Smith.

Snail mail? You might expect something like AI or virtual reality to come up as the next big thing in content marketing, but Brearton has another idea: direct mail.

“In the world of what’s old is new again, marketers are back to focusing on direct mail as part of their omnichannel programs because the response rates are very good, and direct mail serves as a great reinforcement for mobile and online initiatives,” said Brearton.

CabinetM recently released its direct mail technology stack with assistance from the United States Postal Service and Postalytics. The stack includes more than 175 martech solutions aimed at creating, personalizing, distribution and tracking direct mail campaigns.

In a release announcing the direct mail technology stack, USPS vice president of product innovation Gary Reblin said that direct mail response rates are often 30 times higher than display ads and nine-times higher than email ads.

“What’s new and exciting is that there are lots of new tools that make it easy to create, produce, and deliver personalized direct mail on demand, as well as tools that provide the means to track and measure the effectiveness of direct mail programs,” said Brearton.

The post Adobe, WordPress, Google Docs lead CabinetM list of content marketing tools appeared first on Marketing Land.

Heatmap Analysis: Top 5 Pages To Focus Your Attention On!

Understanding how heatmaps, as a qualitative research tool, can help marketers map the performance of their website in an effective and efficient manner.

The post Heatmap Analysis: Top 5 Pages To Focus Your Attention On! appeared first on Blog.

Marketers can map the performance of their campaigns from various data sources. Most often this leads to them being overly obsessed with metrics. But, not all numbers penned on paper help derive befitting conclusions that promise results. This is where qualitative information about visitor behavior helps to connect the missing dots in user research.

Qualitative tools, such as heatmaps, give you richer insight into what actions visitors perform on your website. They inform you about the path visitors take on your platform, the way they interact with your site’s content, the elements they like the most, and where they bounce off. This information about your users can help you make informed decisions about UI/UX changes on your website.

This blog delves into how heatmaps, as a qualitative research tool, can help map the performance of your website’s five prominent pages, namely – home page, landing page, product page, blog page and checkout page, to help you uplift conversions.

But before that, let’s first understand the basics of heatmaps.

What is a Heatmaps?

A heatmap is a smart, analytical tool that uses a system of color codes to graphically represent different values of a web page. It allows marketers to analyze different page elements in the form of colored visuals and see which areas are getting maximum traction. This heatmap, for instance, shows page areas where visitors are clicking the most.   

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While the “hot” sections in red and orange color represent maximum user attraction, the “cold” sections, typically highlighted in shades of blue and green, show areas where they visit the least.

Think of heatmaps as a form of visual storytelling tool. They create a beautified picture with the help of special tracking scripts. These scripts indigenously interact with different page elements and record every move made by a visitor on a particular web page, and represent this data in the form of visuals.

In a nutshell, heatmaps help find:

  1. Page elements which are getting maximum and minimum visitor attention.
  2. Whether or not important page elements, such as CTAs, banners, etc. are in their prime position.
  3. What are the elements on your website which distract the visitor

Also Read: 5 Ways Website Heat Maps Help You Read Visitors’ Minds

Five Focus Web Pages where Heatmaps are a Must

One of the most effective ways to use heatmaps on your website is by incorporating them on the pages with both maximum page visits, highest average view/reading time or your conversion pages. These pages are as follows:

Home Page: Your home page typically defines your brand’s identity. Constantly monitoring the sections of your homepage using heatmaps can help you see if:

  • visitors are able to use your internal site search to reach their desired destination.  
  • page categories are well organized for a new user to navigate to the page/product she is looking for
  • your brand USPs are communicated immediately and are drawing a user’s attention
  • homepage images (such as hero banners, featured products, etc.) are in their prime spot and unmissable by website visitors

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Such in-depth information aids in understanding whether or not your homepage elements are contributing to your main objective – reducing bounce rate and driving new users into your conversion funnel.  

Landing Pages: These are crucial pages where visitors enter your conversion funnel. Analyzing the performance of such pages using heatmaps can help you understand if your:

  • Page content is effective enough to influence a visitor’s decision.
  • Navigation menu is well-placed and omnipresent to ensure visitors do not drop off in the middle of their search.   
  • Demo images/videos are influencing visitors and propelling them to take the desired action.
  • Call-to-action buttons are clear, concise, and visitors are clicking on them.

Knowing what draws the attention of your visitors can assist in making necessary amendments to fuel conversions.

Example: Brothers Leather Supply Co. is one of the leading leather good manufacturing companies in Michigan, USA. Running their business for a while now, the company was unable to uncover the reason behind low conversion rate. They then decided to use heatmaps on their product pages and found that product image thumbnails were attracting maximum attention. Analyzing the data, Brothers Leather Supply Co. introduced more thumbnail images to their product pages. This eventually increased conversions for them.  

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Blog Pages: Textual content and placement of CTAs on blog posts can heavily influence your conversion rate. Heatmaps enable you to analyze:

  • whether or not your visitors are liking the blog posts.
  • Page elements which may be distracting the visitors.
  • Smart ways to declutter the page to make important elements, such as CTAs, clearly visible.
  • Visitor behavior. Are they scrolling till the end or bouncing off in between.
  • If you need to add extra elements to keep the visitors hooked.

For instance, even though HubSpot’s end-of-post banner CTAs are visually appealing, they found that their blogs were only generating a small number of leads. HubStop then decided to integrate heatmaps and look for loopholes. They discovered that by placing their anchor text CTAs just below a blog post’s introduction paragraph instead of placing them at the end, helped them generate more blog leads. This is because visitors saw the CTA at the beginning of the post and not at the end, which typically grabbed more attention than before.

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Product Pages: The quality and content of a product page can make or break a deal for your business. Heatmaps allow you to study many critical aspects of your page elements and how they’re interacting with your visitors.

  • If the product descriptions are influencing your visitor’s buying decisions.
  • If the product prices are prominently visible to the customers.
  • Whether or not your visitors are focusing their attention on product images and demo videos.
  • The elements which are distracting your visitors, such as pop-ups, etc.
  • If your CTA catchy enough to attract customers.    
  • The overall structuring of your page – is it good-to-go or should you make some changes.

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Checkout Pages: Heatmaps on checkout pages can give you insights on how and why visitors are bouncing off at the last stage of the conversion funnel. They tell you about:

  • The page elements which are distracting your visitors from completing their purchase.
  • The performance of page buttons. For instance, the “Make Payment” button is not working properly.
  • The form present on the page is too lengthy and complicated for visitors to fill and proceed.
  • Clickable elements which users are not able to figure out and vice versa.  

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Now that you know all about heatmaps, it’s a good time to go back and implement them in your optimization strategy.

The post Heatmap Analysis: Top 5 Pages To Focus Your Attention On! appeared first on Blog.

Persona Patterns: Make User Personas People Can Reference

User personas have been a staple of UX deliverables for a long time. But the big problem with personas today is that they’re hard to digest, so people don’t use them.

User personas have been a staple of UX deliverables for a long time. But the big problem with personas today is that they’re hard to digest, so people don’t use them. If people don’t reference your personas, you’ve made a deliverable that’s useless to others.

The point of making personas is to share user research findings with people on your project in an easy and relatable way. Those people aren’t versed in UX and need personas they can reference. If your personas aren’t easy to reference, your team is more likely to make bad UX decisions.

Introducing Persona Patterns

persona_patterns-hero

It’s your duty as the UX designer to evangelize the user’s goals, needs, and behavior patterns to your team. Personas Patterns are ready-made, custom-designed templates for doing this. They are an evolved version of traditional personas that cuts the fat off them so that people can focus on the meat.

Turn your personas from this…

tradtional-persona

To this…
persona_pattern

No more text overloads, stock photos, demographic minutia, or chart junk. Just the essentials—context, user goals, frustrations and satisfactions.

When you deliver a Persona Pattern to your team, they’ll be able to reference your persona easier than before. The layout is scannable and in a mobile size display for quick referencing at meetings.

What’s in the File?

When you buy Persona Patterns, you get 40 persona templates each with their own unique illustration. They are divided into 20 primary and secondary personas for representing the pro and casual user of each user archetype.

Primary Personas (click to enlarge)

Primary-Persona_Patterns

Secondary Personas (click to enlarge)

Secondary-Persona_Patterns

Features:

  • 40 custom persona templates
  • 40 editable SVG illustrations
  • 20 common user archetypes
  • Includes an advanced guide
  • Includes the designer font
  • Optimized for mobile displays
  • For Sketch and Illustrator CS6+

You’ll also get an advanced guide that shows you creative ways to customize Persona Patterns for your needs. All illustrations are in an editable SVG vector file format.

Persona Patterns is for Adobe Illustrator CS6+ and Sketch only. The download file will be emailed to you after purchase.

Buy Persona Patterns

Avoid the sea of sameness, do your research!

Have you looked at your competition? They probably are very similar to you and that’s not helping you make more money. In this episode, Peep discusses why research and building your brand is key to stand out against the sea of sameness. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

The post Avoid the sea of sameness, do your research! appeared first on CXL.

Have you looked at your competition? They probably are very similar to you and that’s not helping you make more money. In this episode, Peep discusses why research and building your brand is key to stand out against the sea of sameness.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

The post Avoid the sea of sameness, do your research! appeared first on CXL.

How To Run A Funnel Analysis For Smarter Optimization

The other day, I was speaking with a customer who was having a tough time identifying how to improve her website. This customer, let’s call her Carol, is a business owner who manages an e-commerce website focused on the design and manufacturing of reli…

how to run a conversion funnel analysis

The other day, I was speaking with a customer who was having a tough time identifying how to improve her website. This customer, let’s call her Carol, is a business owner who manages an e-commerce website focused on the design and manufacturing of reliable medical products. When I asked her what her biggest challenge was, […]

The post How To Run A Funnel Analysis For Smarter Optimization appeared first on The Daily Egg.

What Form of Form Will Get You More Conversions?

Experience a lift on your contact form conversion rate. Know what form of form you should have on your lead generation site. These best practices designed to increase contact form conversion will definitely help. Contact forms are the most common way o…

Experience a lift on your contact form conversion rate. Know what form of form you should have on your lead generation site. These best practices designed to increase contact form conversion will definitely help. Contact forms are the most common way of beginning a conversation between a company and a prospect. In this article, we’ll […]

The post What Form of Form Will Get You More Conversions? appeared first on Conversion Sciences.