Digisemestr #6 (2019-03-30) – Marketing Tools

What is Digisemestr and why do I keep posting about it? What’s the big deal?! See my introductory post. If you find any typos or errors, please contact me, thanks!

Lecture number 6 was focused on various tools for email marketing, SEO, PPC, product price comparison sites, keyword analysis, domain analysis, link building & broken links check, mentions monitoring, user monitoring and competition analysis. We talked about MailChimp, XeMeL, BiddingManager, Smartlook, Marketing Miner and Ahrefs.

Pavel – Email marketing

Why Pavel likes email marketing? It’s personalized, targeted, profitable and can generate plenty of data for further improvement. Understand, that email marketing is for retention.

How to choose the right tool?

Say no to Outlook or Thunderbird. Say no to your own custom tool – it’s expensive to develop.

1. Delivers emails

Duh? Not so easy though. For example, if you target Czech, over 70% of people have an email address at Seznam.cz. Can your tool deliver there? To my surprise, Gmail was just 11%. And there are differences between Czech and Slovak. It’s 65% Gmail in SK.

There are two groups: some email tools are just UI and leverage 3rd party infrastructure under the hood and some have their own infrastructure.

2. Features

Often people make the mistake of choosing a very complex tool or too cheap with a lot of limitations. There is no free lunch. You need to balance it according to your needs

3. Level of Support

Outages, problems and solutions – that’s why you need it. Check time zones of their support and what languages they speak. Some smaller or local vendors are even willing to make changes based on your suggestions.

4. Price

Have you considered the previous 3 factors? Good. Price shouldn’t come before them.

There are two models:

  • Pay for the number of send emails.
  • Pay for the number of contacts in the database.

The first one is better because the second doesn’t limit the number of emails you can send and you might become too spammy.

How to deploy email marketing tool?

1. Contract


2. Sender email address

Don’t use free mail like Gmail. Use your own domain.


Sender Policy Framework – 78% of e-shops fail to set this properly. It’s a DNS record with IP addresses which send your email. It helps against spam and phishing just like the rest of the mysterious abbreviations.

DomainKeys Identified Mail – without DKIM your marketing email won’t be delivered at all. The domain in the signature must match From domain. It’s a digital signature to verify the content wasn’t tampered with.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance – 98% of e-shops suck at DMARC. What is it? With it you can check what servers at the receiving end think about you and if are there any spammers using your domain. Using DMARC policies you can control what happens to email from your domain – None, Quarantine and Reject.

4. Double Opt-In

This is required in Europe (GDPR). Users need to verify their email address when they subscribe to your newsletter. This also protects you against spam traps.

Spam traps

  1. Pristine – “honey pot” email address is posted somewhere online. If you add it to your email database you gonna have a bad time.
  2. Recycled – this used to be a regular email address, but the user stopped using it and after a while, it became recycled spam trap.
  3. Typo – freemail addresses with typos in it – eg. gmial.com, gmaill.com, etc

Seznam.cz is very strict. If you send email to a pristine address you get a permanent ban.

Protect yourself. Validate email addresses in your input fields! If nothing else, it prevents users from typos. Never import unknown email databases found online.

Recommended email tools

For Czech folk, it’s SmartEmailing for basic needs and mailkit for advanced users. For English, it’s mailchimp and IBM Watson Campaign Automation for advanced users. Digisemestr students can get some of these tools for free, hurray!

Other tools are Avocode for email design, litmus & Email on Acid for checking if we end up in spam (DNS stuff config, etc) ie. SPAM scoring and to check email rendering on various devices and FreshAddress for email database cleanup (eg. remove spam traps).

How to recover from a bad reputation

Start sending emails to only the most devoted fans – those who open a click links in your emails. Persuade them to answer those emails. When people answer your marketing emails your reputation improves. So don’t use noreply address! Don’t change marketing tool – this is what spammers do when their reputation goes down!

Michal – XeMeL and Bidding Manager

Michal showed us two marketing tools.


The first one is an XML feed editor useful for e-shops to interface with product comparison sites. XeMeL supports various Czech feeds, can pair products, fix errors. A rule tree with drag and drop support is useful. You can also make manual changes for 1 specific product and even bulk changes with Excel import. The tool is free for Digisemestr students!


This tool offers effective evaluation and auto-bidding for Heureka and Zbozi.cz. Various bidding rules can be set for different comparison sites and categories. It offers a single interface to deal with all that. Calendar enables to evaluate your strategy in time. Your product is not in stock? Lower bidding automatically. BiddingManager can save you a lot of time. The virtual sandbox environment is available for Digisemestr students for free.

Lukas & Jan – Smartlook

At first, Lukas and Jan compared redesign and optimization. The redesign is a large change, it’s risky and there could be traffic drops. Optimizations are gradual changes, you need existing traffic to A/B test.

What’s conversion rate? Conversion is some action like finishing order. The conversion rate is a percentage – out of 100 people how many people perform/finish an action.

It’s possible to achieve 14% (they were able to improve it from 4.6%). The average Czech conversion rate is 0.8%.

Smartlook is able to record sessions on the web, in web apps for mobile devices and supports event tracking analytics. With it, you can watch a specific customer journey (and discover where they stumble). It’s easy for your developers to simulate customer’s experience – in Smartlook you know user’s country, operating system, browser and even js console errors. Individual events of a shopping process form a funnel and you can see how many users leave at what stage.

There are other ways to improve the customer’s experience. For example, make it easy for people to find an exact type of replacement bag for their vacuum cleaner by attaching a note on the hose.

An interesting story was how Smartlook helped when a lot of people were leaving form. They discovered it happens only in Italy. People were frantically looking around the page and then they left. They found out, that in Italy people were used to filling in some sort of coupon code. So they added a dummy input field just for Italy… And the conversion rate went up!

In Switzerland visitors were running in circles with mouse around the price. They were too cheap! They increased the price 3 times and started selling…

Rage click – mad clicking. Someone is angry and clicks like crazy.

If a customer reports a problem, with Smartlook you are able to pair them with recording to find the root cause. They need to consent to data collection (GDPR). Maybe users are unable to fill a form because there is another element blocking their input field. Have you tested your web form on smaller screens? Smartlook is able to replace user testing.

Heatmaps – how many clicks each pixel gets? They are unusable on mobile devices, because of touch “clicks” when people scroll. Find unclicked elements (eg. product category people ignore). This is useful for prioritizing work (don’t invest time in unimportant page elements).

Dirty trick to establish customer loyalty – a customer who visits e-shop for the first time gets the lowest price, same for their second visit. After that show them full prices, they won’t be looking elsewhere anymore anyway.

Do you have a simple landing page? Smartlook helps to discover confusing elements like “ghost buttons” (causing up to 600% clicks out of desired customer journey).

Scrollmap – how far people scroll on your website? And where is the average fold? Only 7% reach the very bottom of your page. People might not even see some content because of this.

Smartlook is free for Digisemestr students.

Aaaaaand it can record games too! #gamedev

Tomas – Marketing Miner

According to Tomas, there are 2 types of tools:

  • Tools which work with live data, these are usually suitable for more advanced users. Marketing Miner belongs here.
  • And tools which aggregate data, suitable for beginners., eg. SEMRush and Ahref.

Marketing Miner is able to help with these things:

  • Getting data
  • Monitoring projects
  • Competition analysis

Keyword analysis and SEO audit are top uses cases for Marketing Miner. Keyword suggestion works pretty well, not only does it show related keywords but also question phrases. For example, for “gaming laptop” it suggests “how to choose a laptop”. Your goal should be to answer these questions on your website.

Use Domain profiler to find out for which keywords [kws] do domains (your and competing) appear in organic search. Optimize your landing pages. Which kws is competition showing for? Perform a content gap analysis. What are you missing? What content should appear on your site?

With Keyword profiler you are able to explore kw search volume, ranking and volatility (how “seasonal” kw is). Broken link checker checks your website for <suspenseful pause> broken links. There are many modules ie. “miners” in Marketing Miner for analyzing keywords: Search volume, SERP position, landing page, categories, search suggestions, link prospecting… Similarly, the tool offers many miners for domains such as DNS info, WHOIS scraper, Alexa rank and more. URL miners take URLs as an input and analyze speed, perform AMP check, indexability, social signals… Product miners accept XML feeds.

Check your daily search engine position with project monitoring. You can monitor mentions of your brand and competition, set up alerts for issues in robots.txt, site speed or indexability.

Blog, YT channel and help offer guidance for Marketing Miner in English.

Zdenek – Ahrefs

We already met Zdenek when he gave us a lecture about link building. Ahrefs is a data mining tool, they have their own crawler (2nd most active after Google), indices for various content, keywords, search (ie. clickstream data – ISPs sell their users’ search queries) and database of backlinks. With Ahrefs you can spy on your competition and get inspired. It shows which search extensions show up for queries, so you can adjust it accordingly. How many links referred your website in time? How many were gained and lost? That’s easy to find out with Ahrefs. This tool even shows the text of links (anchor text) and its context. This helps to spot low-value links from fake websites (these hurt your rank).

DomainRank – higher the better, quality links lead to your website

URL Rating – rating for a specific web address

In organic search, you are able to check top competitors (competing domains) and visualize (intersection graph) how many unique and common keywords they got compared to your domain as well as how much overlap is there. This is useful for discovering content gaps too.

Link intersect will answer following question: Which domains link to my competitors but not to me? Batch analysis (handles up to 200 addresses) is useful when starting out, just choose an index (like keywords or traffic) and see what’s up. Like which domain will help you the most if they link to you. Use Linkclump Google Chrome extension to batch copy links from SERP or other places. Lazy link builders use alerts functionality to monitor mentions of competitors brand/kws and following their example.

Keywords Explorer (already at 3.0 version) will tell you how difficult is to get to results for a particular kw. It suggests similar kws and parent topics. Often people append year in their query, so don’t forget to dust off “my favorite keywords 2018” and welcome it to <current year> (<- See how I’m future-proofing my blog post right there?!). Rank tracker shows actual SERP results right within Ahrefs interface, this is a good indicator for how much link building you need. A site audit is for checking status codes.

There was a plenty more said and demonstrated during Zdenek’s lecture, just check any Youtube videos about Ahrefs to get a more complete picture.

Google featured snippet (or more poetically called Position zero) is a search extension. If you get there you win. Good luck!

Yo dawg: We know you like Featured snippets in search, so we put featured snippets of feature snippets in SERP! 😀



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