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A comprehensive guide to the Japanese ecommerce market

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30-second summary:

  • Sophola is a Japanese-based consultancy focused on helping global companies enter the Japanese market.
  • Sophola’s free guide, Cracking the Japanese Market, provides an overview of Japan’s current ecommerce ecosystem.
  • Japan is the world’s fourth largest ecommerce market, representing $122 billion in 2018.
  • Three platforms—Rakuten, Amazon and Yahoo! Shopping account for over one-third of all online retail transactions, comprising nearly 100 million users.
  • Since Japanese consumers are extremely loyal to their shopping platform of choice, these platforms are a good place to start for foreign companies interested in entering the Japanese market.
  • Businesses located outside of the US or Japan currently cannot join the marketplaces directly and must work with Japan-based subsidiaries.
  • It’s important for foreign companies to work with native Japanese speakers who have a deep understanding of which keywords are appropriate to use, word order, and writing systems.
  • Sophola’s guide provides additional context around the changing Japanese ecommerce landscape include the role digital advertising plays in promoting products.

Sophola, a Japanese-based consultancy focused on helping global companies enter the Japanese ecommerce market, created a comprehensive guide, Cracking the Japanese Market, which provides a detailed overview of Japan’s current ecommerce ecosystem.

The guide contains incredibly useful information about where and how Japanese consumers shop online and focuses on leveraging automation as a solution to help streamline the process of setting up shop in one of the most promising retail marketplaces on the planet.

In this post, we will provide a high-level summary of the guide, which is available for download here.

Content produced in collaboration with Sophola.

An overview of Japanese consumers

Japan is the world’s fourth largest ecommerce market, representing $122 billion in 2018. Three platforms—Rakuten, Amazon and Yahoo! Shopping account for over one-third of all online retail transactions in Japan and comprise nearly 100 million users.

Japan is a tough market for outsiders to break into, with one of the lowest cross-border shopping rates. Just over 10% of Japanese consumers shop on overseas websites versus 54% of US shoppers.

Japanese consumers require a lot of information before they make a purchase, which is important for companies from other countries to understand as it has a direct impact on the look and feel of product listings and website design.

Since Japanese consumers are extremely loyal to their shopping platform of choice, these platforms are a good place to start for foreign companies interested in entering the Japanese market. Establishing an account on one of the three top shopping platforms and leveraging automation are low-risk alternatives to establishing a Japanese subsidiary website.

Japan’s top three ecommerce platforms

Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping are Japan’s top shopping marketplaces. Rakuten has  more than 100 million members and has a strong share in the fashion and food categories.

Product page taken from the English version of Rakuten’s website

American brands that set up shop on Rakuten’s platform have their own storefront and product listings. They can also advertise via sponsored product listings and leverage other advertising features on Rakuten such as coupons, newsletter ads, and banner ads. Rakuten has its own fulfillment service called Rakuten Super Logistics.

Businesses located outside of the US or Japan currently cannot join the marketplaces directly. Both Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping require that non-American companies who want to create accounts with these platforms either start a local company or work with a local agency to set up the accounts on their behalf.

Writes Sophola, “To start a Rakuten account as a non-American company, you have to either start a local company, work with a Rakuten service provider, or work with a local agency who will set up the account on your behalf.”

Amazon, the third top ecommerce platform in Japan, provides a relatively easy way for foreign companies to sell products to a Japanese audience.

“One clear advantage of selling on Amazon for foreign companies is that they can register their own seller account, rather than selling through an intermediary,” writes Sophola.

In this way, it’s fairly easy for companies who already have an Amazon seller account to get a foothold in the Japanese market. Amazon’s fulfillment service handles fulfillment from Japan, but companies must have a Japanese company act as an importer of record (IoR) to deal with customs. Amazon also requires that all sellers provide customer support in Japanese.

A word about language

An important aspect of operating in Japan is understanding how keywords are handled. The Japanese language has three different writing systems in addition to the Roman alphabet.

Per Sophola, “As a result, keywords can be written in a number of different ways and the combinations are further increased by variations in spaces and word order. This is in addition to the typical variation introduced by synonyms.”

Thus, it’s important for foreign companies to work with native speakers who have a deep understanding of which keywords are appropriate to use, word order, and writing systems.

Setting up your own website (and how automation can help)

Having your own ecommerce presence in Japan comes with some challenges which include setting up your store on a Japanese domain with a local payment gateway, dealing with order fulfillment, customer service, and returns—all of which require set up and management.

It’s also important to address the expectations of Japanese consumers who value transparency and detailed information.

From a fulfillment perspective, Sophola recommends connecting your store to Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) as a way to streamline and automate the fulfillment process.

Writes Sophola, “This allows companies to start fulfilling orders within hours of setting up their store and offers competitive scalable pricing and virtually no upfront costs.”

Automating inventory systems can help foreign companies streamline the process of setting up a localized store outside of one Japan’s top three marketplace platforms.

A more complete view of the Japanese ecommerce market

Sophola’s guide provides additional context around the changing Japanese ecommerce landscape including the role digital advertising plays in promoting products.

There is a particular focus on Yahoo! Japan, which is one of the most visited websites in the country with nearly 63 million mobile users representing 90% of all mobile users in Japan.

For a more comprehensive overview of the Japanese ecommerce market, download a copy of Sophola’s white paper: Cracking the Japanese Market.

The post A comprehensive guide to the Japanese ecommerce market appeared first on ClickZ.



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What gets lost when in-person events go on hold, and how can we salvage it?

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30-second summary:

  • This year, we’ve seen the events industry get flipped on its head.
  • Now more than ever is the time to consider how event marketers and planners can ensure they’re keeping people entertained, connected and, most importantly, engaged virtually.
  • As event marketers and planners navigate their options for providing digital event opportunities, there are three main considerations they face: replicating energy and momentum in a virtual setting, understanding the power of face-to-face human connection, and maintaining authenticity in business relationships.

This year, we’ve seen the events industry get flipped on its head. Whether cancelled, postponed or converted to digital, in-person events as a whole have understandably been put on hold in light of COVID-19.

Most recently, Cannes announced it will completely cancel its in-person 2020 event after organizers had originally decided to postpone it to October, while the SXSW Film Festival teamed up with Amazon Prime to stream movies for free instead of showcase them in person this year.

While we’ve seen great examples like these of businesses getting creative with their conference strategies in the midst of COVID-19, we can’t help but think about what gets lost when in-person events are postponed.

As we’ve seen industry experts and media put it, the events industry isn’t “doomed, but it will change. Now more than ever is the time to consider how event marketers and planners can ensure they’re keeping people entertained, connected and, most importantly, engaged virtually.

By employing the right strategies, businesses can come back better than ever to still create the sense of community people crave from events, while continuing to collect valuable intent data that strengthens their customer and prospect relationships in this new reality.

In the immediate future, as event marketers and planners ponder this and navigate their options for providing digital event opportunities, there are three main considerations they face: replicating energy and momentum in a virtual setting, understanding the power of face-to-face human connection, and maintaining authenticity in business relationships.

Replicating live events energy through the screen

With events, having good content and presentations is one thing, but a powerful speaker standing in front of an audience delivering their message is what truly seals the deal and captures attention.

Beyond the stage, the energy that people get from being in a room with other professionals, reconnecting with colleagues old and new – likely with a favorite classic song playing in the background – is incomparable.

While scenarios like this aren’t possible right now with events pivoting to digital, event marketers and planners should consider how their businesses can match this momentum in a virtual setting.

Focusing on highly-engaging speakers and understanding how to prep them for the screen as opposed to a live audience will be helpful. Other tactics like virtual “networking hours” and gamification via live competitions or surveys can also help keep an audience excited for what’s next.

To amplify audience engagement further, event marketers can consider a mobile app as a means to add to intent data and be able to more accurately personalize content and follow up.

Recognizing the power of human connection at events

We’re taught from a young age that handshakes are the bread and butter of first impressions. While a small gesture, the act of shaking someone’s hand upon meeting them is one of the many ways in which networking and human interaction has changed with in-person events getting canceled.

At the end of the day, all humans crave connection – and small acts like this, to larger interactions that make up networking as we know it including face-to-face conversations and one-to-one meetings, play a big role in relationship building.

We’ve seen this supported by the fact that the use of video conferencing tools and apps has sharply increased since stay-at-home initiatives have been put in place in light of COVID-19.

If considering a digital event, create frequent moments for live interaction – whether it be inviting participants to provide input on a session or topic via chat rooms, quick quiz rounds to keep people on their feet, or simply giving access to an easy-to-use networking tool such as an event mobile app, where attendees can “meet-up” or chat in-between sessions.

It’s easy to forget in virtual settings that attendees don’t just want to watch content, but they want to be able to interact with it, talk to speakers and other attendees, and provide feedback.

Maintaining authenticity in business relationships

Whenever you’re marketing or selling something, the hardest thing to do is demonstrate authenticity in your approach – and this is made even more difficult when you have to reach people via email and other virtual alternatives, as opposed to in-person events.

Prepare your sales team for networking in a virtual setting – how should their approach change, and how will your digital alternative support it?

Consider the basics like allowing for one-on-one networking opportunities during the virtual gathering, and encouraging your team to always take meetings with video on to offer a more personable conversation.

Also, just like with an in-person event, gathering the right information about your target audience and leads to offer personalized and interactive content is just as, if not more important in a virtual setting.

Understand what data you want to collect before your virtual event kicks off, and use those insights for customized follow-ups to keep people engaged with your content afterwards.

Virtual alternatives can’t replace some of the best moments in-person events offer, but we do have to adjust to this new reality and humanize the digital experience to keep our audiences engaged.

Finding ways to replicate the energy in-person events provide, creating moments for face-to-face engagement and interaction, and sustaining authentic communication with customers and prospects are all top considerations for event marketers and planners as they make the pivot to digital events.

At the end of the day, people are now more than ever looking for reasons to gather (virtually), learn from each other and build meaningful connections.

The post What gets lost when in-person events go on hold, and how can we salvage it? appeared first on ClickZ.



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Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC

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30-second summary:

  • Many businesses opt for content marketing because organic traffic is free. But, this strategy makes them miss a great opportunity to grow fast because combining SEO-optimized content with PPC speeds up the lead generation process.
  • Online businesses need to know specific use cases for content marketing and PPC to assess the value of the strategy.
  • Less than half of small businesses (45%) invest in PPC.
  • PPC and SEO content marketing can bring in more leads by capturing more quality traffic with more effective keyword optimization of blog content, lead magnets, and landing pages.
  • To get the most value from content marketing and PPC, businesses need to master keyword research, searcher intent, and the consistency between the landing page and ad optimization.

As someone who primarily engaged in SEO and content writing for small businesses, I didn’t really care about PPC advertising.  

Maybe because of people like me, only 45% of small businesses invest in PPC 

I thought that the best way to bring high-quality leads was with super optimized content, so paid advertising was the realm of bigger companies. That’s the mindset of many small business owners. With teeny tiny marketing budgets, they have to choose between SEO/content and PPC. 

SEO/content often becomes their choice, especially of those with interest in content creation and a lack of real marketing experience.  

SEO was my preferred choice, too, and I saw PPC as something secondary. 

Boy, was I wrong about this!

After a couple of projects involving PPC promotion, my view of the strategy completely changed. No, they didn’t change how I thought about SEO, but they showed how amazing the results could be if you combine the power of both strategies. 

To all SEO specialists still not using PPC and the other way around, here’s what you’re missing.  

1. More effective content thanks to PPC-tested keywords

Developing a content strategy is one of the most complex and important tasks for any SEO specialist. They use keyword research tools, PPC tools, Google Search Console results, and other methods to find those precious keywords used by customers.  

When they find the keywords they think are good for targeting SEO/content marketing, they begin a slow process of creating content. I wrote oh-so-many blog articles, eBooks, checklists, reports, and other content to find out the keywords that attracted the most conversions.  

All of this takes a lot of time.  

In fact, to write a super effective blog post, you need more than six hours 

Source: OrbitMedia 

When you’re done with writing the draft, there’s also proofreading, editing, making visuals, and keyword optimization. To cut a long story short, you might need a few days to complete a good article that can bring quality organic traffic.  

But that’s not the end of that road.  

Google, too, needs some time to index the article and rank it. In fact, it might take between two and six months to rank in the top 10.  

That’s a bit much, agree? 

To top it all off, the keywords you’ve chosen for your content might not the best ones to target. If you make this mistake, you’ll have to learn your mistakes and start all over again (welcome to the world of SEO content writing, folks). 

Is there a way to speed this time-consuming process up? Yes. It’s PPC.  

It can get you in front of the audience and allow you to test your keyword ideas much faster. If you have content to test, use PPC ads, and equip them with the keywords.  

Get them out there and see what people respond to best. You can have some great results as early as a few days, which is pretty much impossible with SEO/content marketing.  

Another great news is that you can run A/B testing. This means running ads featuring different keywords for the same content piece. If one performs much better than the other, update the content with the more popular keywords.  

So, the takeaway here is that running PPC campaigns for content is a much faster way to test keywords. Start by finding keywords with research tools and make some ads, and you’ll be more likely to discover how your customers look for businesses like yours.  

Related:  

2. More leads from lead magnets

In content SEO, we often create lead magnets 

They are content pieces like reports, white papers, eBooks, webinars, videos, and other valuable content that people need to sign up to access.  

You’ve seen tons of them before. A common example is a banner promoting an industry report with an irresistible CTA on a blog. It says that you need to provide your email address and name to access it instantly.  

Click on that CTA, and you’ll go to a landing page with the lead capture form.  

Like this “The Ultimate Agency Guide to Video Marketing” landing page, where everyone can download a guide with helpful tips on video marketing.

Example of lead magnets landing pages

As you can see, the content is offered in exchange for some data. Not a bad deal of a guide packed with useful instructions for businesses.  

Unsurprisingly, many content producers often turn to lead magnets for quick lead generation.  

Ozan Gobert, a senior content writer at Best Writers Online said, 

“Lead magnets work well for both B2B and B2C businesses aslong as they have some value for customers. You can generate some high-quality leads with them, as they typically attract those interested in insights and tips inside.” 

If a blog has thousands of visitors every week, then there might not be a need for PPC promoting lead magnets. But is that true for your blog? 

Many people think they can manage without the ads (I was one of them). Basically, it’s because they think that great content will “sell” itself. 

Despite what they might think, not so many blogs are that successful in attracting visitors. In fact, more than 90% of web pages don’t get any organic search traffic from Google.

Ahrefs stats on PPC and content marketing

As you can see, only about 1.3 percent of web pages out there get decent traffic. Just for that tiny share, promoting a lead magnet with PPC advertising might not be necessary every time. 

Obviously, the situation is very different for the rest.  

If your website doesn’t have a lot of visitors, too, then creating lead magnets might be pointless. They’ll just sit there only to be discovered by a few people per week.

Not good because you need more leads.  

If you wish that there was a way to get more people to pay attention to, there is actually a way.

And it’s PPC, of course. To get some emails, you need a well-crafted PPC campaign that leads people to the landing page where they can sign up to receive the content.  

You can try to bring people with keyword-based ads promoting the lead magnet. If you choose the right keywords, the ads have a much greater chance to attract leads than SEO alone.  

This is how it works: PPC does the job bringing in visitors, the content converts them into leads by having them complete the capture form.  

To increase the chance of people signing up, the value of content is critical. But, the visual appeal is also a major consideration. You need tools for creating visual content like images, graphics, and infographics to add to your lead magnets.  

3. Better marketing campaign performance thanks to a smart keyword use

Many businesses out there don’t realize they can bring much more quality traffic to their websites if they focus on best-performing keywords in both SEO, content marketing and PPC.  

Much more traffic.  

When an SEO/content marketing specialist and a PPC marketer share a list of relevant keywords, they can decide how to divide them to: 

  • Target the most promising keywords together to bring the most traffic 
  • Identify the keywords that are the most difficult for SEO and target them with PPC and the other way around
  • Define which search queries to focus on with each lead acquisition strategy

Ultimately, the cooperation between the PPC and SEO teams can result in a much more effective keyword strategy. In turn, this strategy could attract more traffic to your websites. 

Important note

To make content keyword optimization work, you need to master searcher intent or purchase intentPut simply, searcher intent is the reason behind a search query.  

For example, the query “Samsung a10 review” implies that the searcher is looking to do some research but has not made the decision yet. If they search Google for “buy Samsung a10 cheap”, then they might be ready to buy.  

Each intent defines how you should create content. It matters a lot for SEO because Google’s goal is to provide its users with the most relevant results.  

Dive Deeper: Tapping into Google’s Algorithm for Searcher Intent. 

4. Create landing pages that convert more visitors

A landing page is the heart of any PPC marketing.  

But, in many cases, PPC specialists aren’t the best persons to write the copy for it. By engaging content and SEO specialists and having them work with PPC folks, you can create a keyword optimized copy that also appeals to the readers.  

For example, PPC specialists can provide keywords and ideas for optimized headings and subheadings for attracting traffic. In turn, content writers contribute by creating a copy that’s easy to read and entices the visitors to act.  

So, the collaboration of PPC and SEO/content teams can result in campaign landing pages that generate clicks and converts.  

A good way to start doing PPC campaign landing pages is to create a checklist to cover all bases. This checklist can include images, copy, sign up options, etc. 

Know more: Studying the anatomy of a successful high-conversion landing page

SEO and PPC: Two are better than one

I’m not exaggerating when I say that SEO and PPC are a marriage made in heaven. I am positive that these points described in this article prove that.

Don’t make a mistake I made by neglecting the power of PPC advertising. Combined with SEO and quality content, you can greatly increase the quality of your traffic.

If you’d like to try them together, feel free to start by doing PPC ads for your best-performing blog articles. The results you’ll see will definitely impress and inspire you to try more. Thanks to this article, you’ll know your next steps.

Ana Mayer is a project manager with 3+ years of experience. She likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Online Writers Rating writing review website.

The post Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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How to Start Your Content Cluster Strategy

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When you think of content clustering—what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

Yeah… we didn’t think about internal links and pillar posts either . Clustering sounds like it’s better left to chocolate and nuts, but it’s actually a content marketing strategy that can garner better rankings and conversions.

Content clustering uses pillar posts to drive conversions. We learned the ins-and-outs of content clustering from Aja Frost, the Senior Content Strategist on HubSpot’s SEO team. Thanks to Aja, we’ve been able to use content clustering to boost our own conversions, making us confident that this is a strategy you should know about.

For each pillar post in your cluster strategy, you’ll create several cluster posts that link to it. This creates a cluster of content on a specific topic and all links to the bigger, pillar post. The pillar post holds the weight of the team and is designed to be so awe-strikingly amazing that it boosts your conversions. The cluster posts are there to get more views on that pillar post and drive up its ranking in Google.

Let’s look at an example we can all get behind—puppies. An animal rescue could create a pillar post on “Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Dog.” Then, they could create cluster posts on, “What to Buy When Adopting a Dog,” “Where to Adopt a Dog,” “How to Adopt a Dog,” and “What Kind of Dog to Adopt.” (For this example, we’re going to assume these are all high-ranking keywords.)

Each of those cluster posts are going to link to the larger pillar post of “Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Dog.” That pillar post is going to have calls to action, like showing images of dogs that the shelter has for adoption—because who can resist puppies?!

That’s how you create a content cluster that drives conversions through your pillar post.

If this sounds like a good idea for your marketing strategy, here are the 5 steps to starting your own content cluster.

#1: Choose your pillar post topics

Your content cluster strategy starts with pillar posts that you’ll create content around. For example, a pillar post could be about content marketing, and then you’ll publish content that supports that pillar post. (For example, an article on content clusters 😉.)

To figure out what your pillar topics should be, you want to look at the keywords that work best for your business. You want terms that are searched often and directly correlate to your products.

For example, if you’re an interior design decorator you’d consider keywords like “interior design for kitchens”, “decor for bathrooms, and “designing outdoor spaces”. These keywords would be your pillar posts and then you’d create your cluster content around it.

#2: Figure out your cluster post topics

Once you know what your pillar post topics are, you’re going to figure out what content can cluster around each post. For example, our interior designer can create content clusters like “decor for small kitchens” and “marble accented kitchens” around their pillar post for the keywords “interior design for kitchens”. Each of these clusters can point to the pillar post as a comprehensive post on everything someone needs to know about interior design for kitchens.

At DigitalMarketer our pillar post Everything You Need To Know Content Marketing has content clusters like:

For each of your pillar posts you want to create at least 3 related articles that point back to it.

#3: Write your pillar post

Now comes the fun part! Put pen to paper (or outsource) writing your pillar post. Since your content clusters are going to point to this post through internal linking, you want to make sure that it’s seriously valuable content and a great representation of what your business has to offer through their products.

For example, we want our “Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing” post to be exactly that—everything you need to know. We don’t want to sell you short by not coming through on the promise of our headline or by writing a subpar article. Your pillar post is going to drive the conversions, so you want to make it one of your best posts.

Since pillar posts tend to be longer than your cluster posts, make sure that you’re structuring them so they’re easy to read.

Use headers (H1, H2, H3, and H4), bold and italics, bullet points, images, emojis, and anything else that will help break up all of the text into something that’s easier to read. Feel free to reference our content marketing pillar post for an idea of how to do this.

#4: Write the cluster posts that surround it

With your first pillar post done, you can start writing the posts that will cluster around it. These don’t have to be as long as the pillar post and are generally more niched. You can still use the same structuring strategies (headers, bold, italics bullet points, etc.) to make sure these posts are interesting and engaging to read.

You’ll want at least three cluster posts and you need to make sure they all have internal links to your pillar post for that topic. For example, for our “Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing” post, we want to hyperlink the word “content” or “content marketing” 1­–3 times in our cluster posts.

You can still hyperlink to other posts (and even cluster posts for other topics) in your cluster post, but you want to make sure the link to the pillar post is there—that’s kind of the whole point 😉.

And just like that, you have your very own content cluster.

We can’t take credit for this strategy and have to thank Aja Frost at HubSpot for showing us the content marketing strategy that gets rankings and conversions these days.

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The post How to Start Your Content Cluster Strategy appeared first on DigitalMarketer.



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