A few weeks back, our partner HubSpot, asked for contributors to a new ebook The ABCs of Inbound Marketing. I didnt see the message for a couple of hours (thanks, GMail tabs!), so by the time I went to choose my topic, the pickings were slim. I chose XML, not really sure what it was about and with no idea how it worked with inbound marketing. Thats OK! Blogging is always a great way to learn new things.
In keeping with the ebooks collaborative style (28 companies contributed), and for a bit more of a technical look at XML, I put out a call to some of my peers on Google Plus and Twitter. The reply was almost nothing but not quite! Michelle Phillips of Codefetti had some experience and knowledge that she was happy to share,
What is XML?
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a standard that evolved in order to retrieve information and data stored on the Web. Although HTML (HyperText Markup Language) was fine for displaying text on a web page, a search engine could not easily extract meaningful information from that HTML. Therefore, in 1998 the World Wide Web Consortium introduced XML.
XML and Inbound Marketing
Simply put: HTML describes a web page. XML describes its data.
XML has simplified the way companies share data with vendors, suppliers, and customers worldwide. The international standard is simple enough that non-programmers can understand and even write XML code. It can be transferred across various platforms and understood by browsers in its native state. And it can be used universally by databases, software applications, word processing, and spreadsheet applications.
Every website should publish a XML Sitemap, which allows search engine crawlers to consume the data therewith and better understand the website’s structure. This is important because if the major search engines can more easily discover and index pages on your company website, the easier it will be for prospects to find you.
XML and Inbound Marketing
So how can XML help in inbound marketing efforts?
By creating your product catalogs in XML, you can easily share your product information on distribution networks such as Amazon. The XML data feed can be updated on a regular basis and submitted to your distribution network(s) thereby providing up-to-date product information.
By standardizing how your company’s data is stored, you can create your marketing data in one format and then use it both online and offline: on the Web, in printed marketing materials, delivered to mobile devices, shared with your vendors, presented to your customers. You get the idea now, right?
The internet is where buyers go to collect information before making a purchasing decision.
As a company builds brand awareness, its goal is to attract potential customers to its website through inbound marketing. Ad banners, affiliate marketing and email campaigns contribute to this goal. When a company consistently delivers value to a potential customer, that customer may register to receive future product announcements, newsletters, and promotional materials.
Companies can now use XML feeds in their advertising efforts by paying search engine companies to have their websites included in a specific spider-based search index. CPC (cost per click) ad campaigns use XML feeds to present all sorts of media including video and audio. By paying annually or on a CPC basis, an advertiser’s pages are updated and displayed on a regular basis.
XML is a great marketing asset to help companies in their goal of reaching potential customers.
Michelle Phillips of Codefetti
Want to learn more about the ABCs of Inbound Marketing? Get the new ABCs of Inbound Marketing ebook from HubSpot (and us).