Monthly Archives: February 2019
In sessions 3 and 4 of the PPC Hero Summit, members of Hanapin’s Analyst and CRO teams, alongside Fred Vallaeys from Optymzr and Oli Gardner from Unbounce, tackle how to start using scripts to automate your tasks and how to build great landing pages for more traffic and more conversions.
Read more at PPCHero.com
It’s becoming quite apparent that the Startup world is experiencing a slowdown and there appears to be no quick-end in site, unless you scrap everything your doing and start over. According to many articles from very reputable news sites around the web, the common issue at hand is the lack of funding coming from Venture Capital Firms. In addition, due to this shift in funding, Startups are now forced to change their thinking on how to grow their business on a shoe-string budget. In this post, I will discuss the importance of hiring a digital marketing firm that can not only get their business off the ground, but also do it without relying on the stress of getting additional funding to keep the doors open for another month.
Why is Venture Capital Slowing Down?
Across the major news sites and tech blogs, there has been a slew of articles discussing the apparent slowdown of Venture Capital funding across the globe (not just in the USA). According to the Forbes article entitled Tech CEO Shares Difficulties of Raising Venture Capital in a Down Market, the authors Samantha Walravens & Heather Cabot of GeekGirlRising stated “According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, funding in Silicon Valley startups fell 19.5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, and is down 10% for seed stage companies in the first quarter 2016, amidst fears over the global economy and the run-up in startups’ valuations.”
To reinforce this trend, another article from Bloomberg.com, entitled “Is There a Slowdown in Venture Capital?” Phil Libin goes on to say that the reason for the pause and/or decline in Venture Capital funding is due to the current lack of interest of those “Me Too Businesses” that once thrived with the evolution of smartphones and social media. However, he does go on to say that right now is a great time for startups that can offer something new and original. See the video below for the interview (courtesy of Blooomberg.com)
Is Online Finally Catching up to Traditional Media?
In another yet predictable twist, it appears Social Media has finally started to crack that old TV Advertising Egg and is creeping its way deeper into the annual $ 70+ Billion Dollar TV Ad Budget. According to the AdAge.com article “TV Budgets Shifting to Social? Yes, It’s Time to Worry” author
Debra Aho Williamson states “… eMarketer believes the conversation about social and TV will change. For buyers who want the best way to reach their audience, the growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat now present a viable alternative to TV.”
Williamson also goes on to say that even though this shift sounds monumental, the actual amount of Ad dollars from TV to social is very small. On the other hand, she believes that this trend can very easily become a real “game changer” in the near future. So, with the potential of more advertising dollars making their way to the online marketing world, Startups are going to have to rely more on Digital Agencies to promote their product/service.
Getting Big Agency Results on a Shoe-String Budget
Since VCs and Investors are only interested in funding companies that offer something new, exciting and most importantly different, what does that mean for those “me too businesses”? Due to this natural shift in the business ecosystem, Startups need to find a more affordable way to launch their “baby” to the world without going bankrupt in the process. To help with this scenario, startups need to find a reliable Digital Agency that can jump right in and “move the needle”. This agency would need to provide guidance and help build the foundation needed to compete in this highly competitive online space. Here’s a recent article entitled “What Every Startup Needs to Know Before Choosing a Digital Agency” which can help highlight other services that Startups can benefit from.
Here is a brief outline of the services that startups need to remain competitive
Many Startups, especially Early-Stage Startups, operate on very small Ad budgets and are often second guessing themselves on where they can get the “best bang for their buck” with regard to online advertising. Based on the trends mentioned in this article about the decline in VC funding Social media getting more of the overall Ad budgets, it’s pretty clear that Startups need to focus on finding an affordable digital agency that treats them like a partner and not another typical client.
InReach Ventures, the so-called “AI-powered” venture capital firm based in London, is announcing the first closing of a new €53 million fund targeting early-stage European technology companies — surpassing the original fund target of €50 million, apparently.
Founded by former Balderton Capital General Partner Roberto Bonanzinga, along with Ben Smith (former U.K. Engineering Director at Yammer) and John Mesrie (former General Counsel at Balderton Capital), InReach set out in 2015 to use technology to help scale VC, especially across Europe’s idiosyncratic and highly fragmented market.
The firm’s proprietary software-based approach, which is underpinned by machine learning, claims to be able to generate and evaluate deal-flow more efficiently than traditional venture firms that mostly employ human VCs alone — although, admittedly, practically every VC firm is underpinned by some eliminate of data science and/or technology these days. Berlin’s Fly VC is another machine learning-enabled early-stage VC that comes to mind.
However, InReach certainly appears to be putting its money where its mouth is, disclosing that it has invested over €3 million in the development of its software, codenamed “DIG”. To back this up, Bonanzinga tells me the firm employs “more software engineers than investors”. (I saw an early demo of the software a couple of years ago and even then it seemed legit.)
Regards the new fund, Bonanzinga says InReach is targeting the most promising and innovative startups across Europe, primarily in the areas of consumer internet, software as a service and marketplaces. “We are geographically agnostic and will invest in companies anywhere in Europe, from Helsinki to Barcelona, from Warsaw to Rome,” he says. “In most cases we will be the first institutional investors and our first cheques will be between €500,000 and €2 million”.
To date, InReach Ventures has invested in eight startups from across Europe. They include Oberlo (Lithuania), which was subsequently acquired by Shopify, Soldo (Italy/UK), Tutorful (U.K.), Shapr3D (Hungary), Traitly (Sweden) and Loot (Germany).
Below follows a lightly edited Q&A with Bonanzinga on the new fund, how AI can be used to scale venture capital, and why machines won’t put VCs out of a job entirely any time soon.
TC: You have often said that venture capital doesn’t scale, especially across a fragmented market like Europe, but what do you mean by this?
RB: People get very excited about ecosystems but the data shows that startups can come from anywhere; the big technology hubs or more remote locations. This is carried through to Europe’s largest exists: from Betfair in London to Zalando in Berlin, from Supercell and Spotify in the Nordics, to Critio in France and Yoox in Italy, and so on. So not only is deal sourcing fragmented across Europe, but so are the returns.
Traditional ventures firms have looked to manage this fragmentation by throwing people at the problem, but if you want true coverage you need to have a presence in every city in Europe. This is how you need to think of our technology platform, as like having a highly trained associate in every city and town across the whole of Europe, providing structured diligent deal-flow. With this data/technology driven approach we can be truly pan-European at the early-stage, even as the first institutional investor on the cap-table.
TC: A lot of VCs say they use technology to help find or manage deal-flow, how is InReach any different?
RB: Many venture firms talk about data and software. Lately, it has become a hot topic in pitches to limited partners. I predict a new hype: the rush of needing to check the box of “we have a data strategy”. We will have many firms with 30+ investment professionals and a data engineer in a corner. The real question is how many firms are willing to transform their professional service DNA into a product DNA? As always, this is more of a people/organisational question, rather than a question simply of the use of technology.
Take a look at InReach, we are a very atypical founding team for a venture firm. In particular, Ben Smith comes from a software engineering background and has built many data platforms and product development teams (most recently at Yammer/Microsoft). The majority of the people at InReach are software engineers. This is the only Venture Firm we know in which there are more software engineers than investors! So far we have invested over €3m in developing our proprietary technology platform.
TC: Without giving away your secret sauce, how does the InReach platform work, both in terms of the machine learning/feedback loop or the signals/data you plug into it?
RB: From a technology perspective, our logical architecture is primarily based on 3 distinct layers: data, intelligence, and workflow. The data layer is a mix of massive data aggregation, with deep data enhancement, including the generation of a large set of original data. The intelligence layer makes sense of these millions of data points through an ensemble of machine learning algorithms, ranging in complexity from simple rules to advanced networks. Given this data-driven approach and the significant deal-flow this generates, we invest heavily in building a workflow product which allows us to efficiently process thousands of companies each month.
TC: You say the final investment decision is still made by humans: why is that and do you think this will always be the case?
RB: As with any AI company, it’s all about data. We have spent the past 3 years aggregating data from across the internet and building algorithms to provide us with significant dealflow. Much more crucially, we have been collecting and generating our own proprietary data-set of investment decisions and how these startups grow and adapt over time. Clearly this will only get more powerful.
However, especially at this early-stage, so much of the investment decision is based on the founders and what we call the DNA fit of the founders and the problem they are trying to solve. Some of this can be encoded in algorithms and learnt by AI, but there are still intangibles that ultimately require that we ask the question: do we enjoy spending time together?
RB: What has been the reaction by under the radar founders when they are discovered really early via InReach’s software?
RB: The first question is always ‘How did you find out about us?’. Once we explain what we do and how the platform works we create an immediate connection with the entrepreneur. This is exactly what happened when we reached out to 5 entrepreneurs in Vilnius who had started a company called Oberlo. Over the following year, we helped them grow and expand to 30 people across both Vilnius and Berlin, prior to their acquisition by Shopify.
We are taking a very entrepreneurial approach to investing; we run InReach more as a product development organisation, rather than a professional services firm, so we look and feel native to the entrepreneurs we talk to. We try to share our experiences and current-best-practices through the company building process, whether it be OKRs, different agile development methodologies, product roadmaps, etc.
Reaching out to promising entrepreneurs early is not the only advantage that DIG gives us. We are also very efficient and responsive when analysing inbound opportunities. In fact, if you look at our website, we optimize our website to convert visitors to share their startup with us. We are not concerned with being bombarded by opportunities because we have developed a scalable workflow that allows us to efficiently manage significant dealflow.
As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a part both the Startup and Digital Agency World, it pains me to witness the many recurring mistakes that are happening by bringing these two worlds together. The Agency wants the business and the Startup wants the best and smartest people to “grow their baby”. It all sounds like a “no-brainer’ right? Well, this perfect situation can sometimes be clouded by one of the most bastardized words in the client-agency relationship – Expectations. In this post, I will highlight some of the misconceptions that could, at the very least, help the next Startup as they prepare to show their product/service to the world.
How to Play the Digital Agency Game:
Don’t get me wrong. There are many highly reputable Marketing Agencies in the world that do not fit this description. On the other hand, there are some other Agencies that work on a different playing field that is not financially supportive of Startups. Most agencies take a 15% commission of Ad Spend regardless of performance or the companies financial situation. These agencies often provide a “Production Line” level level of service that question the actual time spend which leads to the overall client performance. Beware of agencies that promise GOLD and deliver pennies.
What Startups really need from an Agency:
- 100% transparency of where and how their money is being spent.
- Daily Direct communication with the Strategist/Marketer.
- Less than 24 hour turn-around times for typical updates.
- Level of ongoing Education on how the digital advertising world works.
Big Agency Regurgitation
I have witnessed many horror stories over the years from prospects/clients from either a performance or client relationship with a previous agency. The one thing that all of them had in common was the lack of achievable expectations. Situations such as poor communication, lackluster performance and just an overall bad experience have not only left a bitter taste in their mouth but also question the entire agency experience. Moreover, this feeling of being “burned” has motivated their thinking to bring the marketing “in-house” as the only alternative to reaching success. This is not a good thing….
As a big fan of conferences, they often open your eyes to a whole new world of innovation, prosperity and vision for business owners and that’s a great thing. However, it can sometimes backfire to the point of confusion and anxiety of what to focus on first. It is very easy for Entrepreneurs to get “over-excited” about the latest bells and whistles in software, automation and analytics. They are told that once they have these tools in their toolbox, they can turn their business into a fortune 100 company instantly.
Unfortunately, a reality check is needed to bring everyone down from this “high” and re-focus on the core issue at hand which is identifying, engaging and converting with their core audiences within a sensible budget. Remember, investing in Shiny Objects make you vulnerable, not successful.
The Misunderstanding of Monetization
In some instances, both advertisers and agencies, often forget to track every interaction point and that little oversight can be an unfortunate mistake. This assumed “low-hanging” fruit for tracking things other than traditional eCommerce/Lead Gen Forms such as (below) can completely skew overall performance and future optimization which could be devastating to startups as they hunger for continual growth.
- Contact Forms
- Email Newsletter Signups
- Live Chats
- Phone Calls
- Pageviews of a particular page can lead to
Mistrust of the Case Study
Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:
- Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
- Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
- Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that)
Don’t Bet the Farm
I can understand the anxieties of Startups where they want to launch their business with a big bang. However, spending too much too fast (especially in the PPC marketing world) can completely ruin their chances for steady sustainable growth. It’s imperative to start testing “right out of the gate” as well as identifying the quick wins and losses. Moreover, you will need to develop strategies to generate relevent traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth”. To prove this theory, just a take a look at these screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.
Outside Opinion Overload
Yes, it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when launching a new company. However, getting advice from people who think they know certain aspects of online marketing because they read an article or attended a conference, can be a slippery slope. Taking advice and/or criticism from someone “on the outside” that completely contradicts the vision of both your business partners and hired experts can be harmful to the business. This 3rd party opinion is often made without any understanding of what it takes to implement as well as its expected outcome. Whether it’s strategies about Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers can have a negative effect on revenue if not discussed by everyone on the team.
Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get, discuss with your team and agree to label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyze the heck out of them.
Forecast Projection Failures
How many times have you seen someone simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000 we will generate an additional $ 1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic.
- Take in account the following scenarios:
- Market Saturation Levels
- Seasonality Highs/Lows
- Potential Technical issues
- Search Engine Algorithm changes
- Increased Competitor landscape
“Off the Mark” Target Audiences
Hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they over-spent their PPC dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires more than just a few hours of typical market research. When it comes to online marketing, either hire a PPC Consultant or purchase PPC Competitive Research Software such as SpyFu.com to see some of these invaluable competitor information:
- Monthly Budget Trends
- PPC and SEO Keywords
- Top Text Ads
- Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
- Review monthly and seasonality trends
- Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.
Here’s an example:
Whether you are building a Startup company or growing an existing one, the agency experience should be a positive one. However, dealing with the “dog eat dog” agency world when it comes to trust, expectations and continual growth is unfortunate and should never happen. I hope this blog post, at the very least, has provided some insight into preventing these situations as well as learning from them. Finding the right agency partner is just as important as finding the right target audience.
The company believes that by combining its cloud backup service with Webroot’s endpoint security tools, it will give customers a more complete solution. Webroot’s history actually predates the cloud, having launched in 1997. The private company reported $ 250 million in revenue for fiscal 2018, according to data provided by Carbonite . That will combine with Carbonite’s $ 296.4 million in revenue for the same time period.
Carbonite CEO and president Mohamad Ali saw the deal as a way to expand the Carbonite offering. “With threats like ransomware evolving daily, our customers and partners are increasingly seeking a more comprehensive solution that is both powerful and easy to use. Backup and recovery, combined with endpoint security and threat intelligence, is a differentiated solution that provides one, comprehensive data protection platform,” Ali explained in a statement.
The deal not only enhances Carbonite’s backup offering, it gives the company access to a new set of customers. While Carbonite sells mainly through Value Added Resellers (VARs), Webroot’s customers are mainly 14,000 Managed Service Providers (MSPs). That lack of overlap could increase its market reach through to the MSP channel. Webroot has 300,000 customers, according to Carbonite.
This is not the first Carbonite acquisition. It has acquired several other companies over the last several years, including buying Mozy from Dell a year ago for $ 145 million. The acquisition strategy is about using its checkbook to expand the capabilities of the platform to offer a more comprehensive set of tools beyond core backup and recovery.
The company announced it is using cash on hand and a $ 550 million loan from Barclays, Citizens Bank and RBC Capital Markets to finance the deal. Per usual, the acquisition will be subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to close this quarter.
Explore how online user behavior is a crucial component of being able to take your PPC strategy from average to expert!
Read more at PPCHero.com
There are so many great plugins available, and it’s difficult to choose which are the best for you.
To help you decide which tools will make your work easier and more productive, I’ve asked SEO experts to share what they use.
Per the experts, I compiled this list of 17 of the best plugins and extensions for SEO — and they’re all free.
Here are the top plugins and extensions recommended by experienced SEOs
This plugin is perfect for those who deal with content. SEO TextOptimizer lets you measure the quality of texts you create for your website based on how search engines would evaluate it.
The tool shows you topics you should develop as well as those you’d better eliminate for search robots to understand the text is relevant to the specific queries. The plugin also suggests you a list of words you could add to improve your content. The best thing is that you don’t need great SEO expertise to use it.
With SEOquake plugin, you can easily analyze your key SEO metrics. Moreover, the tool provides SEO audit, backlinks analysis, and other useful functions.
One of the factors why SEO professionals choose this tool is that you can get a comprehensive analysis of a SERP and even export its results. There’s a bar appearing below each search result which provides you with key metrics such as traffic, Alexa rank, social media shares, etc.
This extension lets you find what a website you are visiting at the moment is built with. It’s created to help developers, designers, and researchers to discover the technologies other pages are implementing and choose those they want to use for their sites.
The plugin tracks:
- Content Delivery Network
- Document Standards
Experts also say it’s great you can easily get global trends on using specific technologies.
It’s an extension which helps you conduct SEO analysis of a page. Serpstat Plugin provides the most critical information on keywords, traffic, and page visibility. You can also get the report on the top 10 keywords for which your page ranks at the top of search results.
Serpstat SEO & Website Analysis Plugin has now three tabs: Page Analysis, On-page SEO parameters, and Domain Analysis. Here are the most crucial parameters you’ll get with the plugin:
- Domain’s traffic.
- Domain’s visibility trend for a year.
- The number of results on Google, Bing, and Baidu.
- The number of images on Google Image Search.
- Alexa Rank.
- Page speed.
- Site start date.
- Meta tags.
- The number of shares on social media networks (Facebook and Pinterest).
The plugin is free, but to use it, you need to create your Serpstat account, if you don’t have one yet.
This incredibly popular plugin by Yoast helps experts with on-site SEO needs. The tool will let you:
- Add meta keywords, title, and description to your posts.
- Provide clear site navigation for crawlers and users.
- Analyze your on-page SEO. You can check your content, descriptions, and keywords.
- See what your snippets will look like.
- Create SEO-friendly Facebook Open Graph.
This WordPress plugin has a very quick and easy-to-use interface.
This tool evaluates web content accessibility within Chrome and Firefox browsers. WAVE provides 100% secure and private accessibility reporting. The plugin checks password-protected, intranet, sensitive or dynamically generated web pages.
Spark Content Optimizer is a tool designed to help you develop your site’s search experience. The plugin provides you with easy access to such a crucial data as:
- Monthly traffic.
- The performance of your site for all the keywords.
- The technical audit which analyzes more than 40 hard-to-find issues.
- Information on backlink authority.
It’s a great tool for tracking redirect path. The tool analyzes HTTP Headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, link power, etc. You can use Link Redirect Trace extension to analyze your competitors, your on-page and off-page SEO, and other critical factors.
Here are the main tasks this plugin can help you cope with:
- Identify and fix problems in your on-page/off-page SEO.
- Analyze your competitors’ links.
- See the redirect chain and fix problems to make your load time faster.
- After your site was redesigned or migrated, you can check your links.
- Check links from affiliate and advertising networks.
This plugin is a perfect toolkit for digital analysts. This add-on lets you monitor, debug, get detailed data not having to switch between the page, the code, and the developer console.
With this tool, you can inspect the dataLayer in real time, insert code into the page, analyze GA hits, ignore hits to individual properties, etc.
The tool will help you switch quickly between user-agent strings. If you want to test how your page responds to different browsers, this plugin will let you do it. Due to User-Agent Switcher, you can browse with predefined user-agents or add your own ones.
11. Open SEO Stats
This extension provides quick access to the most important SEO stats. The tool will show you:
- Traffic stats. Graphs from Alexa Rank, Quantcast Rank, Compete Rank.
- Information on your backlinks.
- Cached pages.
- Indexed pages. You’ll see the number of pages indexed in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.
- Geolocation information, such as country, city, and IP address.
- The shares on social websites.
- Meta information, such as title, meta keywords, description, canonical tags, internal links, external links, and more.
12. Velvet Blues
Free WordPress plugin
This plugin will be handy for those who move their WordPress website to another domain and need to update internal links and references to pages. The plugin helps you fix the problem and change old links on your website. Experts say it’s great that you can find and replace any URL in your WordPress database without having to use phpMyAdmin directly.
With Velvet Blues Plugin, you can:
- Update links which are embedded in excerpts, content, or custom fields.
- Choose whether you want to update links for attachments or not.
- View the number of items updated.
Install it only when you need to fix something and then uninstall it. The plugin treats everything it finds.
13. WP Rocket
Free WordPress plugin
With WP Rocket, you can optimize your images, so that they’ll get loaded only when visitors scroll down the page. Such an action contributes to improving page speed.
Free WordPress plugin
This tool will be useful for those who want to get rich snippets for their web pages. The plugin is created to help you make your page stand out in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results.
All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets supports most content types released by Schema.org. Here are eight different content types for which you can add schema:
- Software Application
Free WordPress plugin
This free plugin helps to accelerate page loading time, improve your SEO, and protect against DDoS attacks.
Cloudflare plugin adds value for SMEs/Medium sized businesses, making it very easy to setup CDNs, DDoS Protection, and allow them to utilize edge SEO technologies like service workers.
This extension lets you find out what runs any website. You, ll get all the technologies used on websites you visit:
- WordPress plugins
- Analytics tools
Moreover, you can even get notified when websites start using new tools and services if you follow them.
There are both free and paid access available for this plugin. The tool underlines your grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors for you to correct them. It also suggests you synonyms for overused words and gives you tips on how you can improve your texts. To get the most out of this plugin, you’d better use a paid version, as it’ll get you access to the most critical issues.
Choose the best for you
Remember that the more extensions you download, the slower your browser becomes. That’s why it’s essential to know which ones exactly are perfect for you.
Free WordPress plugins and Chrome extensions will help you make your work easier, but you may spend quite a significant time looking for those which are really useful for you. So, this list should have helped you circle out the tools you’ll try to implement into your working process.
Want more SEO tools?
Check out these articles as well:
- 7 social media monitoring tools to check out in 2019
- 8 free technical SEO tools you probably haven’t heard of
- Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords
- What people search for: Tools for trends
- The top 10 tools for getting an insight into your website analytics
- Tools to assist your SEO check-up
- …. And many more!
Also, ‘Apex Legend’ is selling remarkably fast and there’s, um, a ‘Halo’ theme park coming. Find out more here.
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