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- Despite 2020’s challenges, ecommerce sales increased over the 2020 holiday — up 49 percent over 2019, pointing to a dramatic shift in 2021.
- Brands employed new strategies, like curbside pick-up, to increase shopper’s comfort levels in the midst of a pandemic.
- To leverage large quantities of customer data from multiple sources, brands will seek solutions that enable them to extract value from the data to drive intelligent decisions on delivering the right products at the right time at scale.
- Despite the explosive growth of ecommerce brands must continue to invest in multichannel business models, optimizing the customer experience both in-store and online.
- Retailers can boost ecommerce growth even more in 2021 by using AI to deliver highly relevant customer experiences.
It’s impossible to sum up 2020 in one word, but “unpredictable” is a good place to start. Looking back to last January, very few of us could foresee a pandemic that would sweep across the globe. As a new year starts, we’re all looking ahead with hope for a return to normalcy. Travel, hospitality, and retail were a few of the hardest hit business sectors in 2020. However, even before the pandemic, retail was going through a “reset” or “transformation” which some called the retail apocalypse. The pandemic accelerated ecommerce growth and the transition as consumers turned to online shopping, with their favorite stores temporarily shuttered and then for their health and safety as they re-opened.
As the 2020 holidays approached, no one could predict how it would play out. Given the economic downturn due to business closures, unemployment, and the subsequent drop in consumer confidence, would the holidays, normally the yearly peak shopping period, be a bust? We now have some answers thanks to a new Mastercard SpendingPulse report which provides insight on 2020’s holiday retail sales. According to the report, total retail sales increased by three percent over the 2020 holiday shopping season, which expanded (October 11-December 24) due to early sales and special offers. Even more impressive is the growth of online sales, which were up by 49 percent as compared to 2019. This very rapid ecommerce growth did come with some hiccups, including a crushing number of packages leading to shipping delays at public and private carriers, including the USPS and UPS. However, this doesn’t take away from the promising and continued growth of online shopping among digital-first and multichannel brands going forward.
Retailers proactively worked to make shopping safer and more convenient for customers, leaning heavily on strategies such as Buy Online Pick-up In-store (BOPIS) and leveraging technologies that enabled contactless pick-up. Among the most surprising findings in Mastercard’s report was how well the home furniture/furnishings and home improvement sectors performed over the holidays. Online sales of home furniture/furnishings increased by 31 percent and ecommerce sales of home improvement items were up by nearly 80 percent. This growth may be attributed to generous sales and offers, or that consumers had been “window shopping” for some time and took advantage of holiday sales to click “buy”.
Regardless of the factors that contributed to the enormous growth of ecommerce, it’s imperative that brands continue to invest in their multichannel business models by optimizing the shopping experience both instore and online, nurturing and deepening relationships with customers who are new to shopping online and their longtime VIP patrons as well.
Looking ahead, brands will be using what they learned from a year of ups and downs and applying these lessons to the new year. Keeping in mind that driving continual business growth takes much more than sales, coupons, and offers, there are four key trends that brands should seriously consider as they map out business strategies and roadmap for 2021:
1. Consumers will expect instant gratification when sharing their data
Consumers will continue to grow more comfortable sharing preference data with brands so long as they receive value from the exchange. They will also increasingly expect relevant experiences to modulate in real-time, with consumers receiving almost instant gratification for their data sharing. Consumers will grow less loyal to brands they engage with but relevancy will be a key differentiator and source of revenue-driving value for companies.
2. Brands will begin using multiple sources of data to create value for customers on the fly
Brands have more data than ever – on their customers, products, sales and purchases and from a multitude of channels including online, in-store, in-app, via email, third party, etc. We know that having the data isn’t synonymous with deriving value from the data as it oftentimes exists in silos, in different structures or schemas and accessible to different teams within an organization. Brands will need to look for solutions that unlock vast quantities of data from multiple sources to enable decisions over what and when to show to a customer; and then execute that decision at a web-scale. In other words, brands will begin to use exactly the right data at exactly the right time to amplify and extend their abilities to create immediate value for their customers
3. Retailers will increase focus on data privacy compliance as this issue continues to gain momentum
As brands collect more customer data and look for ways to best unlock its value to power relevance, ensuring compliance with various laws and regulations becomes more complex/difficult, especially when operating across different geographies. Brands will continue to focus on properly and regularly assessing their organization’s compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and various other evolving regulations, which includes vendors and third-party applications that organizations work with.
4. Brands will lean more on AI-powered product recommendation solutions to generate revenue and online sales
One way in which brands can create real-time relevancy is through better enabling product discovery with product recommendations. With so many channels and so much information being pushed to consumers, the ability to help them find and discover the items of most interest to them has become paramount. Product recommendations are ubiquitous across ecommerce and typically account for two-to-three percent of ecommerce revenue. However, traditional recommendations powered by collaborative filtering don’t really provide the most relevant product selection to the customer as they’re anchored on a product-to-product relationship. Solutions such as Google Product Recs-powered deep learning adapt to real-time in-session behavior of the customer, anchored on the individual’s shopping journey, and use key context (such as time spent on a product, the order in which products are browsed, and more) to adjust to changes in signals of buying intent.
We predict companies will look more closely at personalized product recommendations to deliver more value to customers and in turn, drive significantly more revenue for the business compared to traditional recommendations.
As a new year begins and we regain some of the normalcy we lost in 2020, brands must not waste the opportunity to forge even deeper relationships with new and existing customers. Retailers supplied shoppers with the products they needed during the height of a pandemic, confirming their commitment to their customers and building a bond of trust that will continue long after COVID-19 is history.
Tracey Ryan O’Connor is Chief Revenue Officer at Qubit.
The post Leveraging customer data and AI to drive ecommerce growth in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
DoorDash filed to go public on Friday, meaning we’ll have at least one more unicorn IPO before 2020 comes to a close. For a high-level look at its numbers, I wrote this, Danny covered who will profit from the deal, and I noodled on the impact of COVID-19 on its business.
I bring all that up because there is another COVID-19 impacted unicorn that we are expecting to see go public in very short order: Airbnb.
When Airbnb filed to go public in August, it seemed like a solid plan. The company was widely reported to be on an upswing from its COVID-doldrums, the public markets were hot for growth and tech shares, and the pandemic’s caseload in the United States was coming down from its summer highs. It looked great for Airbnb to wrap its Q3, drop its public S-1 with the new numbers, and laugh all the way to the bank after showing investors that even a global pandemic and travel industry depression couldn’t stop it.
And yet. The United States and world at large are now in the midst of the worst COVID-19 spike yet, and consumer spend is going down right before we get the company’s S-1. November feels less winsome for an Airbnb recovery than August or September did. Still, when Airbnb files — next week, the scuttlebutt indicates, so get ready — we’ll only have a look at its numbers through the third quarter.
That’s effectively the same timeframe for a dataset that the folks at Cardify sent over and I dug through. Per the company, which tracks real-time consumer spend data, here’s a look at how well Airbnb recovered ahead of its larger industry after the initial recession in pandemic lodging spend:
Impressive, right? Sadly for Airbnb, the initial boom of demand through late June into July tapered as time continued.
Zooming in somewhat, here’s Airbnb spend data from July 2020 through the end of October, the first month of Q4, compared to the same period of 2019:
Declines, then, but still an encouraging set of data for the company regardless. I would not have expected Airbnb spend — via third-party, admittedly — to be this strong.
The trend of folks renting a house for a month seems to have diminished somewhat, in case you are factoring that into your mental math concerning Airbnb revenues from the above charts. Cardify told TechCrunch that after peaking at around +70% in the March-April timeframe, “average booking sizes have now normalized and are approximately 30% higher on a YTD basis.”
There is weakness in October, the charts show, but that appears to be at least partially seasonal given the 2019 line, so I don’t want to over-ascribe rising COVID cases as the cause. The drooping line, however, was echoed in similar SimilarWeb data that was also shared with The Exchange. The dataset concerned accommodation booking volume around the world for a number of travel services, including Airbnb. Its data tracking the US market showed that a bookings recovery through September that made up some ground on March lows was undercut by October declines. Europe’s bookings’ recovery peaked in July and has been falling ever since. Asian volume is creeping higher, but down sharply from prior levels.
It was a mixed picture, but as Airbnb is doing better than its broader industry per Cardify, the aggregated data could be leading us to be more pessimistic than we otherwise need to be. We’ll see shortly what the real numbers are, but I couldn’t help but share what I was reading with you. On to the S-1!
Before DoorDash filed, we were going to talk about Brex today in this space after Airbnb. But, since we got extra busy, expect those notes early next week on The Exchange.
The week was super busy with earnings, so I’ve collected a few notes from calls with select companies after they reported. Apologies to everyone’s’ favorite reporting firm, but we’re space-limited.
Appian crushed earnings expectations. What drove the low-code application development services’ growth forward? According to CEO Matt Calkins, it wasn’t a single thing. Instead, the company’s performance was driven by a long ramp he said, though he did also state that the concept of low-code has reached the public consciousness in new, higher levels during the last few quarters.
Why? The year’s chaos pushed companies into new patterns faster than they had anticipated. Chalk this result up to the accelerating digital transformation being real, which is good news for startups. (For more on Appian and the low-code space, head here.)
Alteryx gave The Exchange an earnings first, providing both its newly former CEO Dean Stoecker and its new CEO Mark Anderson to chat results. The company crushed Q3 expectations, but its Q4 projections did not excite investors. What was up? Anderson argued that ARR growth, not forward GAAP revenue projections, is the most transparent and clear view of an expanding software company, to paraphrase his thinking. You can’t ignore revenue, he said, but given the nuances in how revenue is counted, pay attention to ARR.
Alteryx has a solid ARR target for 2021. We’ll see how investors view its Q4 results and if they align their thinking to that of the new CEO. Alteryx’s former CEO is bullish, saying that in time the market will realize that analytics is at the epicenter of digital transformation. And his company will be there with code to sell.
Moving along, earlier this week I asked a number of VCs about the software venture capital market in the wake of Monday’s sharp selloff and my question about what might happen to public and private software companies if other stocks suddenly became more attractive — strong vaccine news on Monday was later overwhelmed by surging cases as the week went along, but on Monday Zoom lost billions in value as investors fled.
One set of responses came in late, but I wanted to share them all the same as they were more bullish than I anticipated. In the view of Laela Sturdy, a general partner at Alphabet Capital G, “private software investors are unlikely to change their investing patterns much as a result of fluctuations in the public market,” adding later that “public market changes would have to be very extreme — as in 30 percent or more — in order to impact growth stage valuations.”
The connection between public valuations and trading patterns and private capital deployment exists, but how closely the two are linked depends on what’s happening at any given moment, and it appears that at the moment private investor excitement about software is durable.
Sturdy explained why that may be: “Long-term secular trends around cloud adoption, automation and AI, data, security, fintech infrastructure, and the ongoing rapid acceleration of digital transformation will help tech companies maintain their status as the darlings of growth investors in both the private and public markets.”
- Hopin raised $ 125 million at a $ 2.125 billion valuation after scaling to $ 20 million in ARR in under a year. Wow.
- Square and PayPal earnings augur well for fintech startups overall, though it appears that most fintech money is going to only the latest-stages of that niche. (TrueBill just raised $ 17 million, notably.)
- Udemy wants $ 100 million more.
- What’s ahead for edtech startups now that edtech stocks are taking hits?
- Menlo Security landed $ 100 million more at an $ 800 million valuation. Not bad!
Various and Sundry
And finally, the rest of the stuff that I couldn’t get to this week. Here we go:
- Chatted with Cambridge Innovation Capital, a neat venture capital firm from Cambridge in the U.K. — not the Cambridge on the American East Coast. More to say here, but the good news is that hubs of innovation really are maturing into startup factories the world around.
- I got my hands on an early copy of a survey of LPs put together by Allocate. It comes out Monday I think, but it said that “only 20% of [LP] respondents said COVID had slowed their investment activities,” which helps explain all the funds we’ve seen in the past few months.
Closing with something fun, remember that look we did of the performance of various startups in Q3? That was fun. Anyhoo, no-code “online form builder” JotForm told The Exchange that its revenue is up 50% from its 2019 results, that its enterprise customer base is up 620%, and that it expects to reach “100,000 total paid users by end of year.” Neat!
What you will read in this post:
- Understand holiday season traffic trends
- Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords
- Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing
- Which sites won the most keyword traffic?
- Black Friday marketing: November 2019
- Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019
- Build strong display and referral partnerships
- Analyze historic conversion data
- The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)
- Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019
- Christmas marketing: December 2019
Already imagining the taste of the delicious holiday meals and the laughter of your kids when the entire family comes together? Sorry, we know you’re a marketer; you don’t have time for that. You’re busy worrying whether you have everything you need so your marketing strategy can ensure the biggest possible chunk of holiday traffic and generate maximum sales.
This post investigates seasonal marketing statistics of the past few years and provides some eye-opening insights from SimilarWeb’s Digital Marketing Intelligence that helps plan your seasonal marketing.
But first, let’s quickly look at how the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer preferences and spending this year. Keep these in the back of your mind when you set goals for this year’s holiday marketing strategy.
According to a recent report published by McKinsey & Company, consumer behavior has shifted in five main areas:
- Increased online buying
- Increased interest in household goods
- Higher focus on essentials (health, hygiene, security, and sustainability)
- More mindful buying (consumers are researching more, looking for cheaper alternatives and value)
- More readiness to break loyalty to a brand
Pay attention to the last point. Consumer loyalty has suffered during the time of crisis. This can be meaningful for your retention marketing and also serve as an opportunity for your acquisition marketing and content SEO strategy. One thing is for sure: Competition is going to be more fierce than ever during November-December.
Content created in partnership with SmilarWeb.
Holiday Marketing 2020
It’s now more crucial than ever to know how to leverage your digital marketing channels and optimize campaigns in real-time to reach relevant consumers and stay ahead of the competition. You need the most up-to-date data on overall traffic trends and impactful digital marketing strategies to ensure you can pivot and optimize campaigns as trends emerge.
So digital marketers, to learn how to stand out from the countless online businesses vying for your customers’ attention away from, tune in as we deep dive into SimilarWeb Pro data focused on SEO, PPC, and affiliate channels.
This article will help you understand the data behind seasonal marketing and how to translate it into a strong digital marketing strategy. Make sure you are well-positioned to beat the competition.
Understand holiday season traffic trends
Prime Day isn’t usually part of the official holiday season. However, in 2020 “usual” doesn’t count. Due to the wrinkle of COVID-19, Prime Day was pushed back and correlated with the seasonal kickoff this year.
We decided to look at its impact in previous years to understand how this might affect the shopping-heavy fourth quarter of the year and help you draw conclusions for your holiday season marketing push.
Amazon’s annual two-day event has grown in significance over the past few years and not only impacts amazon.com (and it’s dozens of subdomains), but the whole ecommerce space.
In 2019 we witnessed more than 8% growth in traffic during the Prime Day week, compared to the year before. Shopping in December has been increasing over the years as well. Meanwhile, traffic during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday week did not increase in 2019 compared to 2018 when a record growth of 12% year-over-year (YoY) occurred.
This year we are faced with the question: How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior during the holidays? Analyzing shopping behavior on Prime Day may indicate what you can expect for the remainder of the year.
According to Amazon, 2020 Prime Day sales topped last year’s by almost 40%. And based on our data, half of the 50 best-selling products are private label brands. That’s good news for ecommerce. Or is it? Forbes tells us that Amazon avoids comparing numbers with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so we are wondering if Prime Day sales met the goals.
Looking at the data provided by SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool, we see that non-amazon retailers saw increased traffic of just below 30%.
Target, for example, created a rival Deals Day, which led to a 54% week-over-week (WoW) traffic increase. BestBuy, with its exceptionally attractive deals, experienced the most significant growth among top retailers. Next in line was Costo with a traffic increase of 59%.
It looks like last year’s trend for Prime Day continued. If this is true for the remaining two months of 2020, Black Friday will be less significant, and shoppers in December will look for the best deals. For marketers, it means now’s the time to buckle up; you might need an extra-aggressive holiday marketing strategy.
Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords
However heavy holiday traffic in 2020 will be, you need to grab your share. It’s a good time to review your keyword strategies for SEO and PPC. After all, they are both major traffic drivers.
SEO means optimizing your website’s content, structure and user experience according to Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This starts with an effective keyword research for organic searches and competitor analysis, followed by a review of your pages, and optimization of your pages according to your research findings.
For SEO, it’s crucial that your pages stay focused on the topic at hand which means your meta tags need to be relevant and your pages need to include related and relevant information around the right focus keyword.
Another important factor is that your content needs to be linked to from other pages on your site as well as from other websites. As your content pages gain authority and rank over time, they will move up the SERP.
The process of optimizing your pages should have started months ago so, now is an excellent time to re-check your internal linking, meta titles, and image ALT tags and ensure everything is in the right place.
It’s also critical that you check search volume changes and new trending keywords to make sure you’re still targeting the best keywords. People’s searches are constantly changing so there may be a new keyword phrase growing in search volume that your competitors aren’t targeting yet. The closer we get to the holidays, the more competition gets fierce over major seasonal terms.
Keyword analysis for PPC is one of those critical tasks for the holiday season. To get optimal results with PPC, you have to be on the ball with the latest trending keywords.
This is the time to finalize your budget, adjust your bids and overall strategy, so you can easily adapt and pivot during the busier times ahead as you see campaign results and understand how your audience is responding. You may also want to adjust based on what your competitors are doing to drive clicks.
Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing
During the holiday period, brands largely dictate what shoppers are searching for. That’s because consumers don’t want to miss out on their uncounted deals and special offers.
For you, this is an opportunity to hook onto the right keywords and go head-to-head with your biggest competitors. It’s a once-in-the-year chance to “steal” large amounts of traffic from under their nose and convert them into paying visitors. Once you’ve acquired new customers, it’s hard for others to win them back.
How do we know this? Our keyword research tool provided us with data from previous years. Contrary to other keyword research tools, SimilarWeb Pro leverages actual user search queries and clicks to provide highly reliable data.
You can use the tool to receive the freshest keyword-related data and identify trends before anyone else. Can you see how you would lead the keyword competition for paid traffic? The tool also lets you generate and prioritize keywords, optimize traffic share, benchmark against your industry, and more.
Next, we want to see if brands also snatch the majority of the traffic. Spoiler: No! SimilarWeb data shows that publishers and Black Friday sites receive the majority of search traffic in the U.S..
This underlines the importance of partnering with affiliate and coupon websites- such as Slickdeals and CouponChef – that know how to leverage search traffic and seasonal trends. The top winners were bestblackfriday.com and blackfriday.com, both with approximately 11% traffic share, followed by bestbuy.com and walmart.com at around 9%.
Which sites won the most keyword traffic in the holiday season?
Black Friday marketing: November 2019
A review of popular keywords in November 2019 shows that three out of the top ten paid search keywords were related to gaming, representing 24% of total paid search traffic.
‘Battlefield 5′, ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’, and ‘Fire Emblem Warriors’ were popular video games, and it’s fair to assume that they appeared on innumerable wish lists that people were attempting to fulfill. It seems Black Friday marketing that considers Christmas wish lists are a good bet.
It is also interesting to note that amazon.com claimed over 96% of all traffic from these terms in the time period analyzed. When we look at Black Friday keywords specifically, things get more interesting.
The top PPC-related queries at that time included the term ‘Black Friday’ in combination with a branded term. The keywords ‘Black Friday ads 2019′, ‘call of duty black ops 4’, ‘Nintendo Switch Black Friday’, and ‘black Friday deals’ claimed traffic shares ranging from 9% to 12%.
Specific Black Friday campaigns paid off. Most of the traffic winners were well-loved retail brands such as Best Buy and Walmart.
Most searched organic terms related to Black Friday in 2019 were ‘deals’, ‘black friday’, ‘cyber monday deals’, and ‘black friday ads 2019’ claiming respective traffic shares of 3% to 5% each. Unlike PPC-driven traffic, none of the leading organic search terms were branded.
Not only did big box retail names win traffic from these keywords, top affiliates such as blackfriday.com and bestblackfriday.com also made it into the top 10, which you can see in the graph below.
To sum this up:
- Top organic searches were generic
- Top PPC terms were 50% branded and 50% generic
- Organic search traffic went to retailers, brands, and affiliates
- PPC traffic went to popular household brands
The top ten winners can be seen below.
Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019
As expected, the overall November trends continued throughout December. The highest traffic-driving keywords were again gaming-related gifts and gadgets. The three most searched terms were ‘just dance 2020’, ‘star wars jedi fallen order ps4’, and ‘the witcher 3’.
Now let’s take a closer look at terms related to the December holidays to see how Christmas marketing campaigns compare.
Most searched organic terms were ‘cyber monday’, ‘deals’, ‘ugly Christmas sweaters’, and ‘laptop deals’ with traffic shares of 3% to 9%.
Paid keyword terms with the highest traffic shares were ‘cyber monday deals’, ‘siberian husky christmas blowups’, ‘black friday deals’ – still a high traffic share, however 68% down month-over-month (MoM), ‘christmas tree’, ‘icicle christmas lights’, ‘die hard christmas book’, and ‘nintendo switch games for christmas list’. Interestingly, several of the top keywords were related to Christmas decorations, with gift-related keywords coming in closely behind them.
‘Ugly Christmas sweaters’ was the top Christmas related keyword driving organic traffic in December.
See the ten winners for Christmas related keywords here:
Build strong display and referral partnerships
Referral sites and a Display Ads strategy are crucial during this time. Why? Consumers are looking for deals, but they also know that not every ‘deal’ is a good bargain for them. They trust 3rd party sites to review and guide them through the jungle of deals during the holiday seasons.
We found that SimilarWeb data supports this assessment. Some of the affiliate and display publisher sites driving the most traffic fell within the 10 top winners of keyword traffic over the holiday season in 2019.
Here’s your opportunity to generate more traffic to your site. A display publisher will show your display ads on the ad space of their websites. Rather than publishing your display ads by yourself, use affiliates to do it for you. The same goes for other referral sites such as deal comparison sites and review sites that can help you win a bigger chunk of the traffic share.
Use SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool to find your best affiliates by analyzing performance statistics of display publishers and referral sites. You can compare relevant sites and identify the biggest traffic providers. The tool also lets you benchmark against your main competitors for traffic from the significant sites.
Analyze historic conversion data
Looking at the stats from 2019, we see that direct traffic brought the highest conversions volume on average in November. Retailers experienced the largest growth in converted traffic from Display and Referral channels during this month, growing MoM 42% and 32%, respectively. Also, referral was the best converting marketing channel at 11%, overtaking even direct traffic, which converted approximately 9% during that same period.
Referral traffic spiked during the last week of November. Display ads’ traffic growth wasn’t as concentrated and was used more evenly to promote future deals and increase brand recognition.
The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)
Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019
When looking at retail winners, Kohs and BBB experienced the largest increase in overall traffic during the last week of November in 2019. Other big winners include Costo, Walmart, Target, and Wayfair.
During this time, Costco and Sam’s Club saw the highest growth of referral traffic during, growing 241% and 199% from October to November, respectively. Another big referral traffic winner, Walmart, came in third, increasing its traffic on this channel by a whopping 114%.
Referral leaders have received more than 50% of referral traffic from the top two coupon and rebate sites, with bestblackfridaydeals.com sending about 45% of all referral traffic to the competitive set during November. Walmart seems to have had a solid relationship with the referral site. About 81% of all its outgoing traffic went directly to the retail giant.
While slickdeals.net was the second-largest referral site during that period, it only drove about 6% of traffic. However, display traffic tells a very different story, as slickdeals.com claims the number one spot.
Bestblackfridaydeal.com dropped down to the third spot with shares of 18% and 2% of display traffic, respectively. Cosco.com scooped up about 73% of that traffic in November. Shopping-category leaders utilized display advertising traffic analytics to increase their brand awareness on affiliate sites.
Did we mention the importance of display and referral sites for your holiday marketing? The numbers speak for themselves.
Christmas marketing: December 2019
Now, take a look at the interesting shifts in winners throughout the holiday season of last year. November’s big winners were overtaken in December. As Christmas approached, michaelkors.com grew by 191% when compared to October the same year, claiming the number one spot for overall growth.
While neither Walmart or Target landed in the top spots for MoM growth, the retail conglomerates did win massive overall traffic. Walmart.com saw a mind-blowing 450M visits while target.com was able to rake in upwards of 250M.
Swagbucks.com was the top referral site in December 2019 for the best-performing sites during that period with an 8% traffic share. It drove about 63% of its traffic to worldmarket.com. Other big referrals sites were slickdeals.net and cashbackholic.com.
Among the display publishers, Rakuten secured the largest traffic share with almost 17%. Dealmoon could seize 9% and Slickdeals managed to grab 4%. In fourth place was Dealsplus, everyone else in the top 10 got less than 2%.
The holiday marketing games are on, roll up your sleeves!
During the holiday season, optimizing your digital strategies is more critical than during any other time of the year. You can only be sure of it’s efficiency when you build on reliable data about you and your main competitors’ performance. Make no mistake, they are getting ready for the winter games as well.
Understand how different channels work together to drive success. Leverage marco and seasonal market trends and determine how to make consumer behavior work in your favor. In our example, we’ve learned that brands who partner with affiliates have the best chance of winning traffic from top keywords.
Now use SimilarWeb Pro to find the best affiliates to partner with, the most successful channels to utilize, and the highest trending keywords in real-time. Get started by opening an account now!
And if you can’t wait to see how you can fine-tune your marketing strategy for this holiday season, use the form below to download the most-up-to-date data for this year and get the competitive edge you need to blow your competition away.
The post Holiday marketing: Get the data that puts you ahead of the competition appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Rockset, a cloud-native analytics company, announced a $ 40 million Series B investment today led by Sequoia with help from Greylock, the same two firms that financed its Series A. The startup has now raised a total of $ 61.5 million, according to the company.
As co-founder and CEO Venkat Venkataramani told me at the time of the Series A in 2018, there is a lot of manual work involved in getting data ready to use and it acts as a roadblock to getting to real insight. He hoped to change that with Rockset.
“We’re building out our service with innovative architecture and unique capabilities that allows full-featured fast SQL directly on raw data. And we’re offering this as a service. So developers and data scientists can go from useful data in any shape, any form to useful applications in a matter of minutes. And it would take months today,” he told me in 2018.
In fact, “Rockset automatically builds a converged index on any data — including structured, semi-structured, geographical and time series data — for high-performance search and analytics at scale,” the company explained.
It seems to be resonating with investors and customers alike as the company raised a healthy B round and business is booming. Rockset supplied a few metrics to illustrate this. For starters, revenue grew 290% in the last quarter. While they didn’t provide any foundational numbers for that percentage growth, it is obviously substantial.
In addition, the startup reports adding hundreds of new users, again not nailing down any specific numbers, and queries on the platform are up 313%. Without specifics, it’s hard to know what that means, but that seems like healthy growth for an early stage startup, especially in this economy.
Mike Vernal, a partner at Sequoia, sees a company helping to get data to work faster than other solutions, which require a lot of handling first. “Rockset, with its innovative new approach to indexing data, has quickly emerged as a true leader for real-time analytics in the cloud. I’m thrilled to partner with the company through its next phase of growth,” Vernal said in a statement.
The company was founded in 2016 by the creators of RocksDB. The startup had previously raised a $ 3 million seed round when they launched the company and the $ 18.5 million A round in 2018.
Facebook today says it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against two companies that had engaged in an international “data scraping” operation. The operation extended across Facebook properties, including both Facebook and Instagram, as well as other large websites and services, including Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn and YouTube. The companies, which gathered the data of Facebook users for “marketing intelligence” purposes, did so in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, says Facebook.
The businesses named in the lawsuit are Israeli-based BrandTotal Ltd. and Unimania Inc., a business incorporated in Delaware.
According to BrandTotal’s website, its company offers a real-time competitive intelligence platform that’s designed to give media, insights and analytics teams visibility into their competition’s social media strategy and paid campaigns. These insights would allow its customers to analyze and shift their budget allocation to target new opportunities, monitor trends and threats from emerging brands, optimize their ads and messaging and more.
Meanwhile, Unimania operated apps claimed to offer users the ability to access social networks in different ways. For example, Unimania offered apps that let you view Facebook via a mobile-web interface or alongside other social networks like Twitter. Another app let you view Instagram Stories anonymously, it claimed.
The former allowed users to save the ads they saw on Facebook for later reference. But as the extension’s page discloses, doing so would opt users into a panel that informed the advertising decisions of Unimania’s corporate customers. UpVote, on the other hand, rewarded users with gift cards for using top social networking and shopping sites and sharing their opinions about the online campaigns run by big brands.
Facebook says these extensions operated in violation of its protections against scraping and its terms of service. When users installed the extensions and visited Facebook websites, the extensions installed automated programs to scrape their name, user ID, gender, date of birth, relationship status, location information and other information related to their accounts. The data was then sent to a server shared by BrandTotal and Unimania.
Data scrapers exist in part to collect as much information as they can through any means possible using automated tools, like bots and scripts. Cambridge Analytica infamously scraped millions of Facebook profiles in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in order to target undecided voters. Other data scraping operations use bots to monitor concert or event ticket prices in order to undercut competitors. Scraped data can also be used for marketing and advertising, or simply sold on to others.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has begun to pursue legal action against various developers that break its terms of service.
Most cases involving data scraping are litigated under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, written in the 1980s to prosecute computer hacking cases. Anyone who accesses a computer “without authorization” can face hefty fines or even prison time.
But because the law doesn’t specifically define what “authorized” access is and what isn’t, tech giants have seen mixed results in their efforts to shut down data scrapers.
LinkedIn lost its high-profile case against HiQ Labs in 2019 after an appeals court ruled that the scraper was only collecting data that was publicly available from the internet. Internet rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation lauded the decision, arguing that internet users should not face legal threats “simply for accessing publicly available information in a way that publishers object to.”
Facebook’s latest legal case is slightly different because the company is accusing BrandTotal of scraping Facebook profile data that wasn’t inherently public. Facebook says the accused data scraper used a browser extension installed on users’ computers to gain access to their Facebook profile data.
In March 2019, it took action against two Ukrainian developers who were harvesting data using quiz apps and browser extensions to scrape profile information and people’s friends lists, Facebook says. A court in California recently recommended a judgement in Facebook’s favor in the case. A separate case around scraping filed last year against a marketing partner, Stackla, also came back in Facebook’s favor.
Facebook isn’t just cracking down on data scraping businesses to protect user privacy, however. It’s because failing to do so can lead to large fines. Facebook at the beginning of this year was ordered to pay out over half a billion dollars to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged systemic violation of an Illinois privacy law. Last year, it settled with the FTC over privacy lapses and had to pay a $ 5 billion penalty. As governments work to further regulation of online privacy and data violations, fines like this could add up.
The company says legal action isn’t the only way it’s working to stop data scraping. It has also invested in technical teams and tools to monitor and detect suspicious activity and the use of unauthorized automation for scraping, it says.
Privacy data mismanagement is a lurking liability within every commercial enterprise. The very definition of privacy data is evolving over time and has been broadened to include information concerning an individual’s health, wealth, college grades, geolocation and web surfing behaviors. Regulations are proliferating at state, national and international levels that seek to define privacy data and establish controls governing its maintenance and use.
Existing regulations are relatively new and are being translated into operational business practices through a series of judicial challenges that are currently in progress, adding to the confusion regarding proper data handling procedures. In this confusing and sometimes chaotic environment, the privacy risks faced by almost every corporation are frequently ambiguous, constantly changing and continually expanding.
Conventional information security (infosec) tools are designed to prevent the inadvertent loss or intentional theft of sensitive information. They are not sufficient to prevent the mismanagement of privacy data. Privacy safeguards not only need to prevent loss or theft but they must also prevent the inappropriate exposure or unauthorized usage of such data, even when no loss or breach has occurred. A new generation of infosec tools is needed to address the unique risks associated with the management of privacy data.
The first wave of innovation
A variety of privacy-focused security tools emerged over the past few years, triggered in part by the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) within the European Union in 2018. New capabilities introduced by this first wave of innovation were focused in the following three areas:
Data discovery, classification and cataloging. Modern enterprises collect a wide variety of personal information from customers, business partners and employees at different times for different purposes with different IT systems. This data is frequently disseminated throughout a company’s application portfolio via APIs, collaboration tools, automation bots and wholesale replication. Maintaining an accurate catalog of the location of such data is a major challenge and a perpetual activity. BigID, DataGuise and Integris Software have gained prominence as popular solutions for data discovery. Collibra and Alation are leaders in providing complementary capabilities for data cataloging.
Consent management. Individuals are commonly presented with privacy statements describing the intended use and safeguards that will be employed in handling the personal data they supply to corporations. They consent to these statements — either explicitly or implicitly — at the time such data is initially collected. Osano, Transcend.io and DataGrail.io specialize in the management of consent agreements and the enforcement of their terms. These tools enable individuals to exercise their consensual data rights, such as the right to view, edit or delete personal information they’ve provided in the past.
- Data-driven content lends credibility and authority to your brand.
- Existing public data sources offer a great starting point for implementing a data-driven content strategy.
- While they may initially require more heavy-lifting to find and parse through, public data sets offer endless content possibilities.
- Fractl’s Project Manager Claire Cole shares strategies for creating original, compelling content from data available to anyone.
The key to creating newsworthy content that captures the attention of audiences is to focus on data collection, analysis, and illustration.
This content strategy allows you to take something convoluted and present it to readers in a compelling manner in a way that hasn’t been done before.
While data can be an intimidating medium to work with, it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, I’ll explain how you can use data that’s already out there to create your own newsworthy content and drive engagement.
Where to find public data
What can deter marketers and content creators from working with existing data is not knowing where to find the data they want. It’s true that few organizations and entities broadcast the existence of the data they release, so you need to know where to look.
To start, here are some government agency sources we’ve relied on:
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Consumer Complaint Database from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from the CDC
- Integrated Public Use Microdata Series
All of these sources include a multitude of variables to dissect in many different ways. Don’t settle for just looking at the top-level data. Consider how you can explore particular angles to reveal new, specific insights.
Take the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, for example. Beyond standard demographics you’d expect from a nationwide survey like gender, age, employment status, and earnings, this existing data set features less obvious subjects like fertility, usage of food stamps/SNAP, and health insurance coverage, among many others.
If an entity that might already have public data on the subject you’re interested in doesn’t come immediately to mind, there are other general sources that can be worth a look.
The website FiveThirtyEight, while an outlet built on creating original works of data journalism, often makes the existing data they use in their pieces open to the public, meaning you could find a new angle to explore that they didn’t.
Top three ways to create content from existing data
Let’s say you’ve found a public data source. It involves a lot of data, so you have many angles and stats to explore, and the topic can be tied back to your brand.
However, you’re having trouble creating a narrative around all the numbers and decimals and demographics. Here are three strategies to consider when trying to tell a story with data.
1. Consider the implications of time
One of the simplest ways to find interesting takeaways within a data set and create a narrative arc is to compare how variables change (or don’t) over time. Nathan Yau created a project for Flowing Data looking at how the American diet has changed over the years.
The project uses data from the Department of Agriculture’s Food Availability Data System, which keeps numbers on food production as well as American consumption.
While insights can be derived from a single year of this data, the power of the project comes from looking at trends over a long period of time.
Adding a time element to data content may not seem groundbreaking, but it can be overlooked when hunting for takeaways. Data doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so putting it into context with a time element can make for a compelling story.
2. Look for interesting demographics to drive the narrative
Sometimes finding an interesting or unusual demographic to build content around can help focus data from an existing source. We did this with a project for our client FundRocket, which was about small businesses, a very common topic.
What set the project apart, though, was that it compared small businesses owned by US-born citizens and naturalized citizens.
Using data from the American Community Survey, we compared the two demographics across a number of variables: top industries, fastest-growing industries, metropolitan areas with the most businesses owned by naturalized citizens, and more.
The use of this unique demographic comparison makes the project stand out among other content produced around small businesses.
Look at how Business News Daily not only covered the project but included key takeaways at the top of the article.
When analyzing your data, always visualize what insights a publisher might take away from the project. If you’re able to come up with a few key points, that means you’re on the right track to creating a compelling project. (It also helps you maintain focus as you continue working on it.)
3. Consider a common topic from an uncommon angle
Asking the right questions of your data can lead to compelling findings. A great way to create unique data-focused content is to explore a common topic from an uncommon angle or point of view.
For example, perhaps there’s a topic in your niche that is discussed a lot but never in conjunction with data. Or perhaps a topic generally framed with data could have new life breathed into it by tapping a different data source or metric.
We took this approach for our client The Interview Guys with a project that looked at the occupations that require the most and least work experience.
Work experience is an incredibly common topic in the career and HR spheres. There are articles on everything from how to framework experience on a resume to whether companies are expecting too much of entry-level candidates these days. With all of that competing content, it can be difficult to breakthrough.
Thankfully, data can give us a leg up over other content. In the case of The Interview Guys, their project was differentiated because we took that topic and married it with public data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Requirement Survey and Wage Estimates.
This gave the project the added authority of government data while still answering practical questions job seekers and people considering a job change may have, and it was compelling enough to earn media coverage on CNBC.
Building a data-driven content strategy
Creating content around data doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are plenty of publicly available data sources that can be tapped and used to great effect in a diverse content strategy.
Considering data trends over time, seeking out unique demographics to examine, and brainstorming how data can create new angles to a common topic are easy ways to get started building content around data that already exists.
Claire Cole is Project Manager at Fractl, creating data-driven campaigns in a variety of verticals to meet client goals. When she’s not poring over spreadsheets and data visualizations, she’s reading the latest bestseller while snuggled up with her rescue pup, Penny. She can be found on Twitter @claire_cole18.
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We’re seeing a gradual expansion of national regulations that require data from SaaS applications to be stored locally, in the country where it’s sourced and used. Today a startup that’s built a service around that need — specifically, data residency-as-a-service — is announcing some funding to continue building out its company amid strong demand.
InCountry, which provides a set of solutions — comprising software as well as some consultancy — that helps companies comply with local regulations when adopting SaaS products, has raised $ 18 million in funding.
This is technically an extension to its Series A, but in keeping with the growth of its business, it comes with a big bump to its valuation: the startup is now valued at “north” of $ 150 million. Founder and CEO Peter Yared said this is more than double the valuation in its previous round a little over a year ago.
The money is coming from a mix of strategic and financial investors. It’s being led by by Caffeinated Capital and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, with participation from new investor Accenture Ventures and previous investors Arbor Ventures, Felicis, Ridge Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, and Team Builder Ventures. Accenture is one of InCountry’s key channel partners, reselling the software as part of bigger data management and integration contracts, Yared tells me.
The company has seen a decent bump in its business in the last year, expanding to 90 countries from 65 where it provides guidance and services to store and use data in compliance with legal requirements. Alongside that it has an increasingly long list of software packages that it covers with its products. The list currently includes Salesforce, ServiceNow, Twilio, Mambu and Segment, with customers including a large list of enterprises including stock exchanges, banks, and pharmaceutical companies.
“This company was based off a crazy thesis,” Yared said with an almost incredulous laugh (he has a very jocular way of talking, even when he’s being serious). “Now it’s 20 months old, and our customers are banks, pharma giants, stock exchanges. We are proud that large institutions can trust us.”
A big bump in its business in recent times has been in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, which are two main regions when it comes to data residency regulations and therefore ripe ground for winning new customers — one reason why Mubadala is part of this round, Yared said.
“At Mubadala we are committed to backing visionary founders whose innovations fuel economies,” said Ibrahim Ajami, Head of Ventures at Mubadala Capital. “Since day one, InCountry’s cloud solution has addressed a massive challenge in this era of regulation by giving businesses the tools to grow internationally while remaining compliant with data residency regulations. We’re doubling down on our investment and are supporting InCountry’s expansion into the MENA region because we believe they are the best team to help drive global business forward.”
Partly due to the growing ubiquity, flexibility and relatively cheap cost of cloud computing, software as a service has been on a fast growth trajectory for years now. But even within that trend, it has had a huge boost in 2020, as a result of the global health pandemic.
COVID-19 has given the need for remote computing, and being able to access data wherever you happen to be — which in many cases today is no longer in your usual office space — and on top of that we have a lot more “wiggle room” in business, with organizations quickly scaling up and down with demand.
The knock on effect has been a big boost for SaaS. But that growth has come with some caveats, and one of the biggest alongside security has been around data protection, and specifically national requirements in how data is stored and used. Arguably, SaaS companies have been more concerned with scaling their software and business funnels than they have been with how data is handled and how that has changed in keeping with local regulations, and that’s the opportunity that InCountry has stepped in to fill.
It provides not just a set of software to store and handle data in a secure way, but also an extensive list of legal advisors with expertise at the local level to help companies get their data policies in order. It’s an interesting model: while InCountry’s been an early mover in identifying this market opportunity and building technology to address it, it’s buffered its competitive position not with a sole focus on technology, but an extensive amount of human capital to get each implementation right.
That can prove to be a costly thing to get wrong. In the EU in July, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) put down the EU-US Privacy Shield — a framework that let businesses transfer personal data between the European Union and the United States while ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. This has impacted some 5,000 companies, which now have to rethink how they handle their data. The fine for not complying with storing data locally means that they can be fined up to 4% of their revenues.
Yared tells me that for now, the main competitor to something like InCountry has been companies building their own policies in house. Some of those solutions would have been done completely in house and some in partnership with integrators, but all of them were hard to scale and were painful to maintain, one reason why companies and their business partners are turning to working with his startup.
“Accenture Ventures is pleased to support InCountry as it continues to expand globally,” said Tom Lounibos, Managing Director, Accenture Ventures, in a statement. “InCountry’s software solutions are helping companies address the critical issue of becoming and remaining compliant with a multitude of data residency laws. This expansion will help support enterprises as they unlock their business across borders.”
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