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SnackMagic picks up $15M to expand from build-your-own snack boxes into a wider gifting marketplace

April 10, 2021 No Comments

The office shut-down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year spurred huge investment in digital transformation and a wave of tech companies helping with that, but there were some distinct losers in the shift, too — specifically those whose business models were predicated on serving the very offices that disappeared overnight. Today, one of the companies that had to make an immediate pivot to keep itself afloat is announcing a round of funding, after finding itself not just growing at a clip, but making a profit, as well.

SnackMagic, a build-your-own snack box service, has raised $ 15 million in a Series A round of funding led by Craft Ventures, with Luxor Capital also participating.

(Both investors have an interesting track record in the food-on-demand space: Most recently, Luxor co-led a $ 528 million round in Glovo in Spain, while Craft backs/has backed the likes of Cloud Kitchens, Postmates and many more.)

The funding comes on the back of a strong year for the company, which hit a $ 20 million revenue run rate in eight months and turned profitable in December 2020.

Founder and CEO Shaunak Amin said in an interview that the plan will be to use the funding both to continue growing SnackMagic’s existing business, as well as extend into other kinds of gifting categories. Currently, you can ship snacks anywhere in the world, but the customizable boxes — recipients are gifted an amount that they can spend, and they choose what they want in the box themselves from SnackMagic’s menu, or one that a business has created and branded as a subset of that — are only available in locations in North America, serviced by SnackMagic’s primary warehouse. Other locations are given options of pre-packed boxes of snacks right now, but the plan is to slowly extend its pick-and-mix model to more geographies, starting with the U.K.

Alongside this, the company plans to continue widening the categories of items that people can gift each other beyond chocolates, chips, hot sauces and other fun food items, into areas like alcohol, meal kits and nonfood items. There’s also scope for expanding to more use cases into areas like corporate gifting, marketing and consumer services, as well as analytics coming out of its sales.

Amin calls the data that SnackMagic is amassing about customer interest in different brands and products “the hidden gem” of the platform.

“It’s one of the most interesting things,” he said. Brands that want to add their items to the wider pool of products — which today numbers between 700 and 800 items — also get access to a dashboard where they monitor what’s selling, how much stock is left of their own items, and so on. “One thing that is very opaque [in the CPG world] is good data.”

For many of the bigger companies that lack their own direct sales channels, it’s a significantly richer data set than what they typically get from selling items in the average brick and mortar store, or from a bigger online retailer like Amazon. “All these bigger brands like Pepsi and Kellogg not only want to know this about their own products more but also about the brands they are trying to buy,” Amin said. Several of them, he added, have approached his company to partner and invest, so I guess we should watch this space.

SnackMagic’s success comes from a somewhat unintended, unlikely beginning, and it’s a testament to the power of compelling, yet extensible technology that can be scaled and repurposed if necessary. In its case, there is personalization technology, logistics management, product inventory and accounting, and lots of data analytics involved.

The company started out as Stadium, a lunch delivery service in New York City that was leveraging the fact that when co-workers ordered lunch or dinner together for the office — say around a team-building event or a late-night working session, or just for a regular work day — oftentimes they found that people all hankered for different things to eat.

In many cases, people typically make separate orders for the different items, but that also means if you are ordering to all eat together, things would not arrive at the same time; if it’s being expensed, it’s more complicated on that front too; and if you’re thinking about carbon footprints, it might also mean a lot less efficiency on that front too.

Stadium’s solution was a platform that provided access to multiple restaurants’ menus, and people could pick from all of them for a single order. The business had been operating for six years and was really starting to take off.

“We were quite well known in the city, and we had plans to expand, and we were on track for March 2020 being our best month ever,” Amin said. Then, COVID-19 hit. “There was no one left in the office,” he said. Revenue disappeared overnight, since the idea of delivering many items to one place instantly stopped being a need.

Amin said that they took a look at the platform they had built to pick many options (and many different costs, and the accounting that came with that) and thought about how to use that for a different end. It turned out that even with people working remotely, companies wanted to give props to their workers, either just to say hello and thanks, or around a specific team event, in the form of food and treats — all the more so since the supply of snacks you typically come across in so many office canteens and kitchens were no longer there for workers to tap.

It’s interesting, but perhaps also unsurprising, that one of the by-products of our new way of working has been the rise of more services that cater (no pun intended) to people working in more decentralised ways, and that companies exploring how to improve rewarding people in those environments are also seeing a bump.

Just yesterday, we wrote about a company called Alyce raising $ 30 million for its corporate gifting platform that is also based on personalization — using AI to help understand the interests of the recipient to make better choices of items that a person might want to receive.

Alyce is taking a somewhat different approach than SnackMagic: it’s not holding any products itself, and there is no warehouse but rather a platform that links buyers with those providing products. And Alyce’s initial audience is different, too: instead of internal employees (the first, but not final, focus for SnackMagic) it is targeting corporate gifting, or presents that sales and marketing people might send to prospects or current clients as a please and thank you gesture.

But you can also see how and where the two might meet in the middle — and compete not just with each other, but the many other online retailers, Amazon and otherwise, plus the consumer goods companies themselves looking for ways of diversifying business by extending beyond the B2C channel.

“We don’t worry about Amazon. We just get better,” Amin said when I asked him about whether he worried that SnackMagic was too easy to replicate. “It might be tough anyway,” he added, since “others might have the snacks but picking and packing and doing individual customization is very different from regular e-commerce. It’s really more like scalable gifting.”

Investors are impressed with the quick turnaround and identification of a market opportunity, and how it quickly retooled its tech to make it fit for purpose.

“SnackMagic’s immediate success was due to an excellent combination of timing, innovative thinking and world-class execution,” said Bryan Rosenblatt, principal investor at Craft Ventures, in a statement. “As companies embrace the future of a flexible workplace, SnackMagic is not just a snack box delivery platform but a company culture builder.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


What Will It Take to Get a Cargo Ship Unstuck From the Suez?

March 25, 2021 No Comments

The task won’t be easy: Tugboats, excavators, and cranes all may be enlisted to help the Ever Given, while at least 34 other ships wait around the blockage.
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Telegram raises $150M from Mubadala and Abu Dhabi CP via pre-IPO convertible bonds

March 23, 2021 No Comments

Messaging platform Telegram, which recently passed 500 million monthly active users but still isn’t monetizing all the digital chatter it hosts — has taken in a little more funding to keep its engines ticking over.

Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, is throwing in $ 75M in exchange for 5-year pre-IPO convertible bonds of Telegram — with Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners investing a further $ 75M, the pair said today in a press release.

The investment is touted as a strategic partnership, with Mubadala anticipating benefits for Abu Dhabi’s startup ecosystem by having a local Telegram presence drawing in skills and talent to the capital.

Per Reuters Telegram will be opening an office in Abu Dhabi following the investment — building out its regional presence from a Dubai, UAE base.

Commenting in a statement, Pavel Durov, Telegram founder and CEO, said: “We are honoured by the $ 150M investment into Telegram from Mubadala and Abu Dubai Catalyst Partners. We look forward to developing this strategic partnership to continue our growth in the MENA region and globally.”

To date, Telegram has been bankrolled over a seven+ year lifespan by Durov, who made ~$ 300M from selling his stake in the vk social network he also founded — aka Russia’s ‘Facebook’ — back in 2015.

But sustaining a messaging platform with half a billion users can’t be done through billionaire bootstrapping alone.

Some additional investment did come in via Telegram’s recent attempt to launch a blockchain platform. However the effort was derailed by US regulators last year — forcing it to refund most (but not all) of the money it had booked for the failed TON platform — so speculation over how Telegram will monetize its platform goes on.

In recent weeks Durov has responded to this chatter via his public Telegram channel to confirm he’s considering introducing ads for “large one-to-many channels” — but pledging he won’t do so in chats.

He has also rejected the notion of using user data to target ads — a move that would undermine the loud privacy promises Telegram repeatedly makes to users to put clear blue water between its platform and the (Facebook-owned) data-mining competition.

“Users will be able to opt out of ads, but I do think that privacy-conscious ads are a good way for channel owners to monetize their efforts — as an alternative to donations or subscriptions, which we are also working to offer them,” Durov wrote last month.

Telegram’s usage has, meanwhile, continued to swell this year — boosted by users switching from Facebook-owned WhatsApp over privacy concerns. So there’s limited room for copycat monetization, unless Durov is willing to trash his personal ‘pro-privacy, pro-user’ brand. To say that’s highly unlikely is an understatement.

Nonetheless, he has further limited his options by rejecting a series of investment offers in recent months.

A report in Russian press earlier this year said he’d rejected an investment offer for a 5%-10% stake in the company that had valued it at $ 30BN. We’ve also been told he rejected a higher offer that had valued Telegram at $ 35BN — and another of $ 4BN at a $ 40BN pre-money valuation.

“Durov is afraid of investors of any kind,” one source told us on why he refused to give up any equity.

Debt financing seems to be Telegram’s preferred route at this stage. Back in January The Information reported that it was discussing raising up to $ 1BN in debt financing from with banks and investors — which would convert to shares in an eventual public offering.

That debt route — via pre-IPO convertible bonds — is now taking shape with today’s investment news out of Abu Dhabi. Although $ 150M is a lot less than the rumoured $ 1BN so this may be just an initial tranche. (And may in fact be needed to pay back TON investors’ whose refunds are falling due.)

But with a couple of debt backers sticking their necks out to take a punt on Durov’s anti-establishment alternative — and on the chance of an Telegram IPO by 2026 — the company is in a better position to get buy in from other debt funders, including in the region as it deepens its geographical commitment to the Middle East.

One key attraction for Telegram backers is likely to be its agile product dev. There Durov has repeatedly shown he can deliver — growing usage of his platform with the help of a steady pipeline of user-focused features.

Efforts on the product side at this stage look geared towards pivoting into a Patreon-style platform for content creators to build communities of followers willing to pay for their content (which would thereby enable Telegram to monetize by taking a cut as commission).

“Our end goal is to establish a new class of content creators — one that is financially sustainable and free to choose the strategy that is best for their subscribers,” wrote Durov last month. “Traditional social networks have exploited users and publishers for far too long with excessive data collection and manipulative algorithms. It’s time to change this.”

Just over a month later his channel lit up again with more product news — this time capitalizing on the buzz around social audio with the announcement of the launch of a Clubhouse-clone on Telegram channels dubbed “voice chats 2.0”.

He also announced feature that lets admins of channels and public groups host voice chats for millions of live listeners — taking the cap off the earlier feature. “No matter how popular your talk gets, new people will be able to tune in. It’s like public radio reinvented fo the 21st century,” Telegram’s blog post enthused.

Durov had more developments to tease: One-to-many video broadcasts that will see the platform let users host their own ‘TV stations’ which he said will be coming this “spring”. So Telegram continues to evolve as the social app landscape shifts.

Commenting on the debt financing in a statement, James Munce, CFO and COO of Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners (ADCP), lauded Telegram’s management team’s “unshakeable dedication to building a platform centred around privacy and user experience”.

“We believe this creates a strong value proposition and will be a focal point for social media platforms and a new era of messaging,” he added.


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Social – TechCrunch


Where do you take your marketing strategy from here?

March 20, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers agree that creating content is a core business strategy
  • SEO can help you capitalize on the content you’ve created and see lasting results
  • Create content around common sales objections to improve the sales process
  • Instead of going all-in on the best-case scenario of in-person events being able to happen in 2021, create a plan based on what you know works now and could continue to work into the future as well

With 2020 pulling the rug out from under pretty much everyone, it’s no surprise that marketing has had to shift over the past year. Where the focus for many organizations was once in-person meetings and events like trade shows and conventions, it’s now mostly shifted to tactics that can be deployed remotely.

The biggest winner out of all this change has, without a doubt, been content marketing. In the summer of 2020, I surveyed 49 B2B companies to see how they are approaching marketing, and more than 80 percent of them agreed that content is now considered a core business strategy.

Content marketing is a strategy that doesn’t require any physical contact to connect with people, and content can be shared widely and consistently, regardless of where people are in the world. It can help current clients better understand the value of a company and even act as a way to bring new customers into the fold.

While the strategy owes much of its popularity to the pandemic, content marketing’s recent dominance is unlikely to go away once the pandemic subsides. Before 2020, many marketers had already been pushing for a more content-focused strategy. In many ways, this past year has simply created the opportunity for them to prove the strategy’s true worth.

How to plan a marketing strategy around whatever 2021 may bring

These past few months have been a time of experimentation for marketers, full of successes and failures. For some companies, weaknesses in this strategy, like poor SEO and a lack of budget for content development, have been exposed, even as the potential of content marketing has been proven. Now, the question for marketers is how to bring a content strategy into the next year and successfully meld it with a plan for a world beyond the current health crisis.

1. Focus on SEO

All the high-quality content in the world can’t help you if no one can find it. Make better SEO a key goal if you want to capitalize on everything you’ve done this past year. Perform a technical website audit to ensure your website is set up to be found by search engines and a keyword audit to ensure your content aligns with your target audience’s queries. Not only should your keyword research guide your content for the future, but it should also steer your updates of older content to maintain its relevance. Updating old content is often the most efficient strategy you can employ.

Don’t just stop at keywords, though. Perform a deep dive into your audience’s behavior to figure out exactly what they’re looking for to increase your chances of turning visits into conversions. After all, what you think you know about user behavior and what is actually true can turn out to be wildly different. For example, according to HubSpot, popups are the most-used form for sign-ups, but they only succeed in converting three percent of visitors. Landing pages, meanwhile, have the highest conversion rate, despite being the least popular version of sign-up form.

2. Develop more sales enablement content

Effective content can be useful for more than just marketing. Sales reps can also use it to better communicate with potential customers.

Listen to sales calls to figure out which questions are the most common and which are the most difficult for your sales team to answer. From there, you can create sales enablement content, such as blog posts and infographics, that the team can refer to and pass on to prospects. You can also use the biggest client successes as case studies that can help potential clients better understand your value. This will not only help sell customers, but it can also help with securing internal buy-in for a content-focused strategy.

3. Don’t bet on in-person events in 2021

Over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events next year. Even if everything goes perfectly over the next few months and things can begin moving toward some level of normalcy by summer or fall, don’t count on big in-person conventions and trade shows to come roaring back and take over your marketing strategy. That’s why a majority of marketers are creating strategies that can work for both virtual events and in-person events over the next year.

Content will still be just as effective when the pandemic is over, but what in-person events will look like is still up in the air. Don’t bet on an imaginary best-case scenario, create a plan based on what you know works right now and could continue to work into the future.

While 2020 might have thrown everyone for a loop, the lessons learned this year can be applied in 2021, even if we’re unsure of what the coming year will truly bring. By focusing more on a content-first strategy, you can ensure your marketing plans don’t go to waste both in best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Cherish Grimm is VP at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.

The post Where do you take your marketing strategy from here? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Biden Commerce nominee Raimondo sees no reason to remove Huawei from entity list

February 5, 2021 No Comments

Huawei’s status in the U.S. has been one of many question marks hovering over the newly minted Biden administration. The smartphone maker was one of a number of Chinese companies added to the Department of Commerce’s “entity list” during Trump’s four years in office.

Gina Raimondo, Joe Biden’s nominee for Commerce secretary, has offered what is potentially one of the clearest looks so far at how Huawei’s status might (or might not) evolve under a new administration. Responding to questions from Senate Republicans, former Rhode Island Governor Raimondo indicated that the Biden administration likely would not be in any hurry to remove Huawei from the blacklist.

Republican House members had previously raised concerns over Raimondo’s position on companies like Huawei, a stance she had yet to clarify. “We urge those Senators who have a history of calling for Huawei to remain on the Entity List to stick to their principles and place a hold on Ms. Raimondo’s confirmation until the Biden Administration clarifies their intentions for Huawei and on export control policies for a country that is carrying out genocide and threatening our national security,” they wrote.

Raimondo has since responded.

“I understand that parties are placed on the Entity List and the Military End User List generally because they pose a risk to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests,” the politician said, in a note reported by Bloomberg. “I currently have no reason to believe that entities on those lists should not be there. If confirmed, I look forward to a briefing on these entities and others of concern.”

The statement isn’t definitive in either direction (as is perhaps to be expected for a Cabinet nominee), but it certainly doesn’t point to a radical change from Trump’s position on the issue. The smartphone marker was added to the list in 2019, following longtime accusations over security and spying concerns. The company has also variously been tied to the Chinese government.

The DoC noted at the time:

Huawei was added to the Entity List after the Department concluded that the company is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, including alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities.

The Trump administration proved especially aggressive in regards to blacklisting Chinese tech companies, a fact that has already had a profound impact on Huawei’s bottom line. Drone giant DJI and AI company SenseTime have been added to the DoC list, while Xiaomi made a separate military blacklist in the waning days of the administration.

Mobile – TechCrunch


The business value of SEO in 2021: From revenue generation to reputation and retention

January 26, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • SEO is without a doubt the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today.
  • SEO also adds incremental value in a number of different ways.
  • It helps maintain brand equity, helps inform product and sales.
  • SEO can also be used as a PR channel and vice-versa.
  • From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.
  • SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous digital improvement of the user (customer) online experience.

Those within the industry understand that the inclusion of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy is an absolute. But while we recognize that SEO holds the keys to digital success – from the insights and context it provides, to the optimization of content it can deliver – we sometimes overlook the additional business value of SEO.

The power of doing SEO now cannot be understated. As the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today, SEO also adds incremental value in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll consider just seven ways of them.

1. Brand awareness

Some tend to think about SEO primarily in terms of rankings and traffic. While both are great ways to measure the success of your SEO strategy, limiting yourself to those metrics alone can miss the wider value provided by a first-page result – whether it converts to click through or not.

Every search returns pages of results, and each time your product, service, or brand appears on page one of those results you create an impression. Those impressions are fundamental to brand awareness, which is the extent to which consumers recognize your brand, your product, or service.

In an endless sea of options, brand awareness is the first step in the marketing and sales funnel. Whether you’re promoting a new product or focused on retention, recall and recognition are key. SEO presents an opportunity to build brand awareness with every search.

In creating your SEO strategy, you will have ensured your site is easy to navigate, simple to search, accessible, and – critically – credible. Landing your business on the first page of results not only increases visibility but also means you’re more likely perceived as a leader in your industry.

2. PR and reputation

The shift from print media to digital has exponentially expanded your company’s potential audience. Online publications often have much higher readerships than traditional media outlets, and as such digital public relations support increased visibility of your brand.

Understanding that both online and traditional print publications leverage industry experts as content contributors, as step one in your PR and reputation strategy you’ll want to ensure you’re visible to be considered an expert in your local area and/or your industry.

Once in the virtual domain as an expert, your credibility continues to grow and has an incremental impact with each piece of coverage. News publications tend to have high domain authority, as links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors for search engines, each and every media mention further optimizes your searchability with a multiplier effect that continually increases your credibility. and visibility.

3. Consumer and market insights

Throughout the ongoing global pandemic, we’ve seen incredible shifts in consumer behavior worldwide. As consumers continue to re-evaluate everything from their careers to lifestyles and demand more from the brands they choose to buy from, seeking meaning in their purchasing, the insights SEO can provide offer incredible value. From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.

Using SEO results and search patterns, combined with the right strategic thinking, can lead to continuous improvement across a number of departments.

Consider content strategy, for example. Marketers know that high-quality content is critical to sales strategies, but what makes for success depends on the needs and wants of users. Understanding user search patterns can help to inform desirable content throughout the buying stages, ultimately leading to better conversation rates.

4. Content and cross channel activation

Of course, we can’t consider content strategy without addressing cross-channel activation. Integrating and activating content across marketing channels – from video to email to verticals and beyond – allows you to reach your customers in the places they are. It acts as the starting point for the personalization we know consumers crave.

By implementing optimized content in an integrated approach that covers everything from paid search to social, an intelligent content framework supports strong organic search success while fulfilling consumer curiosity by ensuring that content is optimized not just for one channel, but for all channels.

The business value of SEO in 2021 - Research showing content cross channel activation

Source: BrightEdge SEO Platform Research

Smart content is optimized from the point of creation and ready to activate across channels. The key to successful cross channel activation is a true understanding of customer intent, targeting customers with the detail they want and need, when they need it, and optimizing to ensure visibility.

5. Customer experience and retention

The hallmarks of a good digital experience are key components in the assessment search engines perform when considering whether your site is the best result to showcase. From usability to the relevance of content and simple search functionality, Google wants to see that your site and content are the best answer.

SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous improvement of the user (customer) online experience. Add to that the personalization facilitated by SEO and you’ve got yourself the basis of a top-notch customer experience.

As customers across the globe are craving more personalized experiences, successful businesses are looking at the customer experience holistically – and SEO is a great tool to support the complete customer view. Providing a package of integrated tools and features, SEO insights are an opportunity to take digital strategy from the page to the personal by leveraging data to deliver personalized experiences to customers in real-time.

6. Offline and local

Consumers leverage online research to inform their offline activities, as we well know. Mining SEO insights informs offline and local campaigns, as well.

From a service perspective, from comments to questions online, what consumers want to know in the digital space can lead to conversation starters in the physical space. Arm your customer service representatives with these insights for more meaningful in-person engagements, ultimately deepening the customer relationship.

Informing an in-store experience with SEO insights doesn’t end with sales training. In understanding search terms that returned no results, your buyers are presented with items your customers want you to offer, providing opportunities for new product lines and/or diversification in your services.

7. Revenue and lead generation

Customer acquisition can be costly. We know that inbound strategies are the most effective, and that SEO is a key source of leads. Rather than investing countless hours in outbound marketing strategies, drawing in customers with the information they need – when they need it – as they research and review throughout their buying journey provides a cost-effective avenue of lead generation.

Whether B2B or B2C, revenue grows when the right content is delivered to the right customer, at the right time. Optimizing online content across channels can generate more traffic, more conversions, and thus provide more revenue.

In short, having the right SEO strategy can bring success well beyond the digital space. Understand that set-it-and-forget-it is a strategy doomed to fail. Committing to monitoring and activating SEO insights in as near to real-time as possible gives organizations the opportunity to meet customers and prospects where and when they’re most receptive to your messaging.

From sales to service and loyalty, when supported by the right insights there are almost endless opportunities for companies to reap the value of SEO.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post The business value of SEO in 2021: From revenue generation to reputation and retention appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Citrix is acquiring Wrike from Vista for $2.25B

January 19, 2021 No Comments

Citrix announced today that it plans to acquire Wrike, a SaaS project management platform, from Vista Equity Partners for $ 2.25 billion. Vista bought the company just two years ago.

Citrix, which is best known for its digital workspaces, sees this as a good match, especially at a time where employees have been forced to work from home because of the pandemic. By combining the two companies, it produces a powerful combination, one that didn’t escape Citrix CEO and president David Henshall

“Together, Citrix and Wrike will deliver the solutions needed to power a cloud-delivered digital workspace experience that enables teams to securely access the resources and tools they need to collaborate and get work done in the most efficient and effective way possible across any channel, device or location,” Henshall said in a statement.

Andrew Filev, founder and CEO at Wrike, who has managed the company through these multiple changes and remains at the helm, believes his company has landed in a good spot with the Citrix purchase.

“First, as part of the Citrix family we will be able to scale our product and accelerate our roadmap to deliver capabilities that will help our customers get more from their Wrike investment. We have always listened to our customers and have built our product based on their feedback — now we will be able to do more of that, faster.,” Filev wrote in a company blog post announcing the deal, stating a typical argument from CEOs of acquired companies.

The startup reports $ 140 million ARR, growing at 30% annually, so that comes out to approximately 16x its present-day revenue, which is the price companies are generally paying for acquisitions these days. However, as Wrike expects to reach $ 180 million to $ 190 million in ARR this year, the company’s sale price could look like a bargain in a few years’ time if the projections come to pass.

The price was not revealed in the 2018 sale, but it surely feels like a big win for Vista. Consider that Wrike has previously raised just $ 26 million.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


SEO takeaways from 2020: A review of the most unusual year for search

January 9, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google launched over 4,000 search improvements and new features throughout 2020.
  • Baidu continued to crack down on poor quality sites with its 2020 updates its StrongWind algorithm was introduced to control aggregator content from malicious sites.
  • Bing attempted to build on its approximately 2.8% global search engine market share by adding a Bing app to Xbox.
  • Throughout the year, DuckDuckGo added a number of new features and made updates designed to improve the user experience while protecting privacy.
  • GIPHY now serves more than 7 billion GIFs per day and is seen by more than 500 million daily optimizing GIFs is a great way for SEO to drive awareness and keep people engaged with your website page(s).
  • Throughout 2020 Yandex continued to add more human elements into its search engine.
  • 2020 was a year where search took central stage in digital marketing.
  • Consumer behavior is still set to continue to be volatile in 2021.
  • A list of key SEO trends to watch in 2021 – new channels for visual and image search opportunities, international SEO will rise once again, combining PPC and SEO, utilizing Marketing technology, and more.

Many an SEO will be huddled around the television or computer screen this year for New Year celebrations, muttering, “Don’t let the door hit you,” as we bid 2020 goodbye. Despite the release of several vaccinations worldwide, we still find ourselves firmly in the grip of a global pandemic with no definitive end in sight.

In this post, we’ll take a look back at how top search engines changed the game this past year, and where marketers should be looking as we head into 2021 with continuing uncertainty about the year ahead.

Key search engine updates in 2020

The latest figures from Oberlo show that Google reigns as the dominant search engine both in the US and worldwide with 88.1% and 92.3% market share, respectively. Even so, there’s a lot of traffic left on the table if you aren’t optimizing for all of the top search engines.

Here are some of the most impactful and notable updates across Google, Bing (which also powers Yahoo! Search), DuckDuckGo in 2020.

1. Google

According to Emily Moxley, Google’s Product Management for Search, Google launched over 4,000 search improvements and new features throughout 2020. Among them:

  • Google added the Removals report to Search Console in January, enabling site owners and SEOs to temporarily hide a page from Google Search results. In February, they made it easier to export more data from almost all reports.
  • March saw the launch of the com/covid19 website with country or state-based information, safety and prevention tips, and search trends related to COVID-19. Other pandemic-related features rolled out in 2020 include the Exposure Notifications API, an SOS Alerts system, and a slate of new GMB features to help businesses better communicate special hours, temporary closures, and other COVID-19 information to searchers.
  • In August, Google confirmed it had made a number of improvements designed to be “as invisible as possible” to the Search Console API.
  • In October, the Justice Department sued Google and claimed the search engine is an illegal monopoly. Antitrust accusations are not new to Google, and this case could drag on for years.
  • Google announced in October that BERT language understanding systems first introduced in 2019 are now being used in nearly every English-language query.
  • The improved Crawl Stats Report came out in November with new features including detailed information on host status and URL examples showing where on-site requests occurred.
  • Also in November, Google announced that voice search had become smarter. New language capabilities and the carrying over of context from one voice search to another meant Google could gradually “learn” more about the searcher’s true intent.
  • Google announced late in the year that it is “refocusing the Structured Data Testing Tool and migrating it to a new domain serving the schema.org community by April 2021.” Notably, once this transition is complete the tool will no longer check for Google Search rich result types.

Notably, the timeframe for mobile-first indexing was extended from September 2020 to the end of March 2021.

2. Microsoft Bing

Bing attempted to build on its approximately 2.8% global search engine market share by adding a Bing app to Xbox, adding nearby product search to local results, and introducing image-based product search.

Microsoft’s search engine also evolved quickly to provide COVID-19 information and updates to consumers with a tally of local and global cases appearing in search results for any Coronavirus-related query.

In May, Bing gave us a look under the hood at its AI capabilities and experiences, stating that:

“Over the past few years, Bing and Microsoft Research have been developing and deploying large neural network models such as MT-DNN, Unicoder, and UniLM to maximize the search experience for our customers. The best of those learnings are open-sourced into the Microsoft Turing language models. The large-scale, multilingual Natural Language Representation (NLR) model serves as the foundation for several fine-tuned models, each powering a different part of the search experience.”

Examples of AI at scale in Bing include Yes or No summaries to straightforward questions in search, the expansion of intelligent answers to more languages, and a new NLR-based model for understanding complex or ambiguous queries.

3. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo’s intense focus on privacy makes it more difficult to optimize for, as user data is not tracked. Even so, 0.5% of the global search market share (and 1.7% in the US) still makes it one of the world’s top search engines.

Throughout the year, DuckDuckGo added a number of new features and made updates designed to improve the user experience while protecting privacy. In October, DuckDuckGo launched private walking and driving directions powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework

In October, we saw the punchy small search engine take a direct shot at Google in regards to its antitrust lawsuit. In an open letter, DuckDuckGo pointedly asked,

“So, Google, given that you’ve often said competition is one click away, and you’re aware a complicated process suppresses competition, why does it take fifteen+ clicks to make DuckDuckGo Search or any other alternative the default on Android devices?”

4. Yandex

Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine announced early in 2020 “Vega” as its new algorithm. This included 1,500 enhancements to Yandex Search. Throughout 2020 Yandex continued to add more human elements into its search engine.

Andrey Styskin, head of Yandex Search, stated, “At Yandex, it’s our goal to help consumers and businesses better navigate the online and offline world.  With this new search update, users across the RuNet are helping us do just that”.

According to research from Mikhail Volovich and Olga Yudina of Ashmanov & Partners and reported by Dan Taylor differences in ranking factors between Yandex and Google include;

  • Lesser effects of links within Yandex compared to Google
  • “On mobile, site speed appears to be more important to Google than Yandex, but in Yandex, the number of Turbo pages has increased greatly (outside of the top 3 results).”
  • The research also predicted mobile search will see an increase in both AMP and Turbo pages.

5. Baidu

The leading search engine in China, controls over 74% of searches, and ever since the 2017 release of the ‘Hurricane’ algorithm continues to focus on content quality.

As it continues to crack down on poor quality sites with its 2020 updates its StrongWind algorithm was introduced to control aggregator content from malicious sites.

Baidu SEO 2020 update, the content has become king in the Baidu algorithm. The Baidu spider focuses on enhancing the user experience. Like Google, Baidu has vigorously diversified, and provides dozens of services from maps to cloud storage – and its search engine backs up the whole ecosystem.

SEO trends to watch in 2021

SEOs take heart! Google launched a new blog series in 2020 designed to showcase the value of SEO to businesses. The first post was an overview of how a Korean company used SEO to double its web traffic. While Google has historically shied away from association with the optimization of sites for its search algorithms, it seems SEO is no longer a dirty phrase. Let’s hope this trend continues.

Here are some other areas to watch in 2021 and beyond:

1. Brands adapt to rapidly shifting consumer behavior

The first pandemic experience of our lifetimes has changed the way people search, shop, communicate, and work. Just how long these changes will hold or how consumer behavior will evolve over this next year is a giant question mark on business and marketing plans the world over.

Here’s what we do know: anxiety, stress, and public health concerns drove massive changes in consumer behavior in 2020. We saw dramatic shifts in search interest and conversions, with very different impacts across verticals. And in the absence of historic data to guide marketers through such an event, insights from search data became our closest approximation of real-time voice of the customer.

While we don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, it’s clear that the best place to track consumer behavior changes as they happen is in your search data. Business leaders will be looking to SEOs to bring them these insights in relatable, understandable ways that can be put to work immediately driving intelligent business decisions.

2. Core Web Vitals gain importance

As Google explained its April 2020 Web Vitals explanation, “Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all web pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.”

On its face, Google’s CWV update is a reinforcement of what we already know to be best practices for user experience. If you want to take a deeper dive into the research and methodology driving this update, Defining the Core Web Vitals metrics thresholds by Google software engineer Bryan McQuade is a good read.

Google also promises that the definitions and thresholds of Core Web Vitals will be stable and that marketers will have prior notice of updates, which will have a predictable, annual cadence.

3. Image and visual search

As brands compete for consumers’ attention and as image and visual content optimization continue to gain SERP real estate, new channels are opening up beyond just YouTube. Brands, looking to stand out in 2021 should be utilizing combinations of images and videos to inform and educate customers as they spend more and more time online. Beyond Google niche (non-traditional) vertical optimization opportunities may just be opening up.

Below are two brief examples.

Vimeo

According to Cisco, video will make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in 2021. While YouTube still dominates more and more platforms are opening up, presenting more opportunities to optimize content.

Vimeo, the video-sharing platform originally created by filmmakers is building a large community of creative marketers producing content. Although opportunities to rank are less there are still opportunities for marketers in this niche.

“In the last seven months we’ve welcomed over 30 million new members, seen over 60 million new videos created and uploaded, and powered millions of live events that went digital for the first time — more than the prior 3 years combined,”

Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud.

No doubt COVID-19 has fuelled the growth in demand for more creativity in video production and as IAC (its owner) looks to spin it off as a standalone public company in 2021 time will tell where and if this fits and sits for SEO.

GIPHY

Everyone likes a good image, especially if animated. Facebook (Instagram) owned Giphy is allowing more and more marketers opportunities to make their content engaging. This is especially true with younger generations. A search engine in its own right, optimizing for Giphy presents new opportunities to optimize for intent and rank on their own site.

Now serving more than 7 billion GIFs per day and seen by more than 500 million daily optimizing GIFs on Giphy (and in general) is a great way for SEO to drive awareness and keep people engaged with your website page(s).

For SEOs, standard image optimization best practices can work well on Giphy, but the competition is intense, and optimization nuances exist. For brand marketers (in particular) Giphy and GIFs can be an awareness channel in itself.

4. PPC and SEO converge

In increasingly rich and diverse search results, it is imperative that marketers have a solid grasp on how their paid and organic search strategies work in tandem to achieve the best business results. As the lines between paid and organic continue to blur, it makes less and less sense to have these two channels as distinct departments or teams competing over budget.

Successful search teams will work together more seamlessly in 2021 to monitor both paid and organic results, determining from a more holistic point of view where the brand’s greatest opportunities lie—and which tactic is key to achieving the greatest visibility and conversion from search. Together, paid and organic teams will strategize how to use tools like Dynamic Search Ads and Discovery Campaigns, bidding automation, and AI-driven content optimizations to drive brand awareness and content promotion in both types of results.

5. Brands demand ROI and mastery of martech solutions

2020 provided us “The Great Pause”, literally stopping the world in its tracks. It gave us a chance to slow down, take a breath, and take a critical look at what’s working—and what is not. Even before the pandemic struck, it was clear that stacks cobbled together of point solutions not designed to integrate were problematic, but the full extent of their shortcomings became clear this year.

Consumer behavior changed so rapidly, and completely that real-time insights were elevated from “nice to have” to life or death. Brands that only knew how to rely on the performance of previous months or years found themselves lacking a sense of direction and unable to pivot. Going forward, brands are looking for platform solutions that not only automate but do so intelligently with AI and machine learning. Moreover, they are looking for agile marketers capable of getting the best possible output from these martech solutions.

What does 2021 have in store for the business world? Only time will tell. However, SEOs are among those best-positioned to lead in the face of uncertainty and should expect stakeholders across the organization to look to them this coming year for guidance. This is true both regionally and internally as interest in International SEO rises once again.

Now is the time to ensure you’re set up with the right tools and skills to deliver.

The post SEO takeaways from 2020: A review of the most unusual year for search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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What to expect from SEO in 2021?

December 30, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The pace of technological advances and progress in the SEO sector isn’t slowing down, and you should expect major changes and updates in 2021.
  • Google has already announced two algorithm updates slated for March and May 2021.
  • There are various trends for SEO in 2020 like UX SEO and feature snippets which appear to become more prominent in the upcoming year.

From the humble beginnings of the Internet and online advertising, we’ve reached an era where the Internet is an essential communication tool, and online advertising is valued at more than 400 billion dollars a year, more prominent than even the TV ad industry. The global pandemic only accelerated this trend and pushed more companies online. So, what can we expect out of SEO in 2021? Which trends should we be looking forward to? Which changes will impact the industry? In this article, we’ll discuss the main trends we expect to have an impact and change the direction of SEO in the coming year.

Direct changes to search engines

SEO is entirely dependent on the major search engines, primarily Google. Any changes to Google’s modus operandi, algorithm, and priorities will have direct, wide-ranging impacts on SEO in 2021. These changes lead to losses in billions of dollars for some businesses while leading to gains of billions of dollars for others. It is important to be aware of the upcoming changes and how to best prepare for them.

#1 Page experience as a ranking factor on Google [May 2021]

As of May 2021, you should expect what Google dubs as “page experience signals” to be a ranking factor. The page experience refers to the way the visitors feel as they interact with the web page. It is determined by a multitude of attributes from mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the others. These were already ranking factors previously, but they’ve been more institutionalized and work within the “page experience” framework. Furthermore, Google is introducing Core Web Vitals as part of ‘page experience’. They’re considered to be user-centric metrics that try to determine the quality of the user experience. These user-centric metrics will measure the loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay), and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). The first two items that go into Core Web Vitals seem quite self-evident, so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to spend more time explaining them in this article.

Although, the third item might confuse some people. Visual stability refers to how much the layout shifts and jumps around. For example, imagine if a button tracks your mouse and jumps around whenever you get close to it, this is quite a self-evidently bad user experience, and this variable aims to capture this. The self-advertised purpose of adding an explicit page experience ranking factor is so that Google can provide higher-quality, more engaging content to its users. Considering the variables that it takes account of, a website with a high page experience score will load faster, be more interactive, more stable, more secure, more mobile-friendly, and much more. These all combined, admittedly, will lead to a superior experience.

Get featured in top stories without AMP

Another purpose of the introduction of the new page experience ranking framework is to make non-AMP content eligible to appear in the Top Stories feature for mobile phones. It is one of the main ways websites drive traffic to their content from mobile, so this could be a significant change that would disrupt the rankings of many websites on mobile. This change will also roll out in May of 2021, which makes May a hell of a busy month for SEO specialists.

We need to be ready for all the drastic changes this change in the algorithm can bring. We can’t possibly ascertain its impact at this stage.

#2 Mobile-first indexing for all websites on Google [March 2021]

Mobile-first indexing is certainly not new, Google has been using it for more than several years. It was first introduced as an answer to a widespread problem: more and more people are using their phones to look up stuff and browse the net. The problem is that the mobile and desktop versions of websites don’t always match up in content, and Google usually only indexes one version, which traditionally was the PC version. This creates a mismatch between the rankings on mobile and the content on these pages. To alleviate this mismatch as it was becoming a growing problem due to the increasing popularity of mobile, Google decided to implement mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing refers to the practice of indexing the mobile version of the website first in Google’s databases instead of the desktop version. This would accurately gauge the amount of content on mobile sites and their relevance before displaying the results.

Going from an entirely desktop-first indexing scheme to an entirely mobile-first one would’ve been a massive step, however, and this is why Google has been taking years implementing this change. It started by allowing the option to webmasters to change their website indexing to mobile-first. It was followed by making mobile-first the default option for crawling new websites. The final and latest update is going to come in March 2021 when Google will start making mobile-first indexing the default option for all websites. This means that the way your website is indexed and the content that’s considered might change in March. It is hard to determine how big of an impact this will make beforehand, but you should expect some instability.

Thankfully, Google has published a basic guideline to ensuring the transition to mobile-first indexing goes smoothly on your website:

  • Make sure the content of your website is visible to Google crawlers and bots.
  • Ensure you fill out all the relevant meta tags on both the mobile and the desktop

versions of your landing pages.

  • Ensure that your mobile website loads quickly by enabling lazy loading.
  • Ensure that you are not blocking any relevant mobile-specific URLs in your robots.txt file.
  • Although it is hard to ensure identical content, you should try to have at least identical primary content on both versions.
  • Check the alt tags of both image and video embeds.

Wider SEO trends

Aside from specific updates to algorithms, we have prior information about, some wider trends in the sector that are going to change how we engage with SEO. Some of these trends have been going on for years and only just accelerating and others are new. Below, we’ll cover the most prominent ones.

#1 Voice search is becoming more and more prominent

Voice search was virtually non-existent just five years ago. Still, the development and proliferation of Alexa, Google Assistant, and a multitude of other voice assistants over the last few years have popularized voice search beyond our wildest dreams. According to data, voice search revenue will more than quadruple from 2017 to 2022 from just 2 billion to 40 billion dollars. This explosion in popularity presents opportunities and challenges to traditional SEO approaches. Just as an example, in voice searches, getting the first position is much more important than it is in traditional text searches. That’s why you need different approaches to capitalize on this new, emerging SEO arena fully.

#2 Feature snippets and microdata

Google is trying to introduce more and more types of featured snippets to its home page. These range from recipes to news and tutorials. These snippets aim to make searching faster for users and keep traffic on Google’s website. It is nevertheless beneficial for websites to implement it because you have a chance to be featured, which would drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Of course, getting featured doesn’t always mean you’ll see exponential growth in traffic, but data from Ahrefs shows it matters a lot! On average, getting featured means you’ll get, on average, around 8,6% CTR while the top ‘natural result’ will get 19,6% of the traffic. This is extremely impressive and shows that the featured snippet steals a substantial amount of clicks from the top position, which would get around 26% CTR in SERPs without a featured snippet. Although, you have to be careful about how Google features you. You should monitor your ranking and readjust your snippet and optimize it for more clicks.

#3 Non-textual content

As we move into the next year, we’re seeing an Internet saturated with blogs and landing pages. and it is becoming increasingly difficult to rank for noteworthy keywords with decent traffic. That’s why many SEO agencies are trying to expand their reach by diversifying the type of content they produce and publish. Infographics are one of the easier ways to create engagement and rank higher. Although, even they’ve been overused in recent years. A much more promising frontier for 2021 seems to be videos. These could be uploaded to Youtube as standalone content or embedded in your website too. It’ll help you gain more traffic from Youtube views, which seems way less saturated than Google’s traditional search engine currently. This doesn’t mean it is any less important. YouTube generates 15 billion dollars for Google each year. It is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.

It is also worth mentioning that there are specific video snippets on SERPs that you can only rank for through video content, and these video snippets are really prominent on search queries beginning with “how-to”, asking for tutorials, and other forms of educational content. They are prime real estate that you can potentially rank for with a reasonably produced video.

#4 UX SEO

The days where SEO was just about meta-tags and titles have long gone. Nowadays, SEO is an intricate subject that combines expertise from many different fields from marketing to software engineering and creative writing to achieve the best result. A recent trend in SEO that is gaining more and more stream is the UX SEO framework.

UX SEO refers to the practice of optimizing the user experience of a website to achieve better conversion rates and engagement. It isn’t only important that your site gets regular visitors, but it is also equally important to ensure that these visitors engage with your website. UX redesign success stories are almost limitless, for example, ESPN found out that just a homepage redesign increased their revenues by 35%. There is no reason why UX optimization could not be an integral part of your SEO strategy, and UX SEO gives you a framework to achieve this.

Conclusion

Each year, Google introduces more than 3600 small changes to their algorithms, and each year, trends emerge in this volatile sector that nobody has been able to predict. You need to continually keep up with the news to be on top of your SEO game, reading an article on the trends in the upcoming year isn’t enough. Nevertheless, I tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, and you should be moderately prepared for the challenges ahead if you pay attention to all the trends that I’ve featured here.

Adrian Kempiak is CTO at Neadoo Digital – SEO agency. Adrian is a tech enthusiast, in the SEO industry for over 9 years. Consultations and audits for businesses from various markets. Responsible for running both worldwide SEO campaigns for ecommerce stores and local SEO for businesses worldwide (UK, USA, Australia, Spain, and much more).

The post What to expect from SEO in 2021? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher

December 22, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before.
  • Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online since the beginning of 2020.
  • We caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.
  • Know how CMOs can find value in SMM efforts, conduct market analysis, and run social media campaigns that actually succeed in the eyes of top management.

From learning banana bread recipes to connecting with loved ones, hunting jobs, and now shopping holiday gifts, the pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before. 2020 has shown us how people have resorted to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn. While Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online, we caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.

Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite - Q&AQ. Paid ads have their own cons like reduced page reach, how do you maintain an upward graph for organic page reach and boost relationships, engagement, and direct sales?

Henk Campher: Never take a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing, especially with organic content. To reach a large audience, organic posts need to be optimized. To do this, you need to understand the platform and audience you are optimizing for. Start by focusing on the platforms that make the most sense for your business. For example, if you’re a B2B company, you may find the most value on LinkedIn or Twitter whereas a B2C company may gravitate towards Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok to reach a younger crowd. 

If you want organic content to perform well on social media, create engaging and personalized content that is fitting for the platform you are using. Give people a reason to follow and engage with your social posts. To better understand what content resonates with your audience, start by using social listening tools—at Hootsuite, we integrate directly with Brandwatch so our customers can navigate social intelligence capabilities directly from their dashboard.

Case study:

Securian Financial, a Hootsuite financial services customer, was able to leverage social listening to determine that their key demographics shifted away from complaining about quarantine to sharing positive content around being connected. What arose was Life Balance Remix, a UGC campaign encouraging people to share content that highlighted their “new normal” and garnered thousands of participants with over 2.5 million campaign impressions across Twitter and Instagram. 

Beyond creating the right content for the right platform, it’s essential to connect with people. Show your audience the human side of your brand. You can do this by lifting up your employees on social media and sharing their stories or connecting with the wider community through an employee advocacy tool, like Hootsuite’s Amplify tool. If you want to boost engagement on posts, ask your audience relevant and interesting questions. This is also a great opportunity to learn about what interests them. If you focus on value and creating the right content, you’ll be able to successfully develop relationships with your audience, boost engagement, and drive sales.

Q. What are the top social media metrics that can help CMOs see direct value in marketers’ social media marketing efforts?

Henk Campher: For both B2C and B2B brands, the key to successful social measurement is to keep your metrics simple. Trust classic cross-platform metrics like return-on-ad spend and lifetime value, as these measures also tie directly to your organization’s business goals. Once you choose the content you think will resonate with your audience, test your ideas to identify which posts generate the most engagement, shares, and impressions, and do this for each social platform. Continue to test, learn, and optimize. But when it comes to measuring your efforts on social, it is important to keep your business objectives in mind and develop KPIs that match the overall goals and expectations of your organization. Metrics such as impressions and reach should be analyzed consciously.

If your goal is to build brand awareness, focus on overall engagement and how long visitors are staying on your website. This will help evaluate if your content isn’t just “content-for-content-sake” but is actually resonating with your audience and driving conversions. 

Q. What are the typical touchpoints/aspects marketers must include in their social media campaigns to reflect value for the brand and meet CMO expectations?

Henk Campher: One of the most important aspects of a social media campaign is social listening. A robust social listening tool allows you access to real-time insights into consumer sentiment, shifting trends, and competitive intelligence. These insights are key to helping a brand better understand how consumers feel about a campaign and what they want from your brand.  

The best social media campaigns also have specific goals in mind and are purpose-driven. You must understand the customer segment you’re trying to reach through a specific campaign. To achieve this, create profiles or personas for your core constituencies that integrate data and insights from marketing channels (including social) and CRM. Understanding how, where, and when to engage with your constituents requires a clear picture of their motivations and their needs.

Another important aspect is social data integration. Our ‘Social Transformation Report uncovered that only 10% of marketers feel they have mature practices around integrating social data into enterprise systems like Adobe, Microsoft, Marketo, or Salesforce. However, according to our ‘2021 Social Trends Report, 85% of organizations that integrate social data into their other systems have the confidence to accurately quantify the ROI of social media. While data integration is a complex process, a much more accessible entry point that can help marketers better connect social engagement to customer identity and measurable ROI is integrating paid and organic social media activity.  We found that mature organizations with completely integrated paid and organic social strategies are 32% more confident in quantifying the ROI of social media. 

Q. How important is it for any brand to have involvement in social matters and social investments?

Henk Campher: The most successful brands this year didn’t put themselves front and center of the conversation—they decided to listen instead. After taking the time to listen, brands must find creative and empathetic ways of adding value to the conversation instead of trying to lead it. Brands should stay true to their identities and their audience by asking:

  • “What is my role?”
  • “What conversations make sense for me to weigh in on and why?”
  • “How can social media contribute to my business objectives?”

Having a voice in important conversations is powerful for a brand. However, if a brand is posting about topics that don’t align with the brand’s personality and identity, customers will notice. As a wealth of different conversations are taking place across social media at all times, it’s important to create a blueprint for how to comment on a conversation, if at all. 

Q. What methods can CMOs implement to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for effective market analysis?

Henk Campher: There are various tried-and-true methods CMOs can implement when using social media platforms for market analysis. Before you begin your analysis, always have a clear goal in mind. It’s important to look at what exactly you want to analyze whether it’s your brand, product, or competitors. Doing a quantitative content analysis by assessing the engagement rate of your social posts can give companies an idea of if a message or product is resonating with your followers. Social listening is another incredibly powerful tool for analysis. Through social listening, you can zero in on how people are talking about your brand.  It’s also important to not be shy. Be empowered as a brand to implement tactics like polls and surveys on social to get in touch with customers and glean informative insights into how your audience is thinking about your brand. 

Q. How would you push an online event that involves employee referral on social media for a maximum turnaround?

Henk Campher: Develop an effective social media strategy in advance and provide your employees with the right resources and tools to promote the event. You can do this by crafting the content and social platform guidelines in advance so it is easy for employees to spread the word on social media. At Hootsuite our Amplify tool allows brands to extend their social reach and increase employee engagement. Using platforms that are suited for employee advocacy will garner the most successful results. 

Q. What are your expert tips on the most effective ways to run a social media campaign, especially during the holiday season 2020?

Henk Campher: The holidays are a great opportunity for brands to increase engagement and drive sales on social media. Here are my four tips to create an effective social media campaign and stand out from the competition: 

  1. Tweak your social media posting schedule to accommodate changing workdays or times. B2B businesses often have higher engagement rates during the day, as employees are leaving early and working less in the evening. B2C companies generally have a better reach when it’s not during typical work hours. 
  2. Continue to curate content over the holidays, even if there might be a downturn of activity on social channels across the board. If you go quiet on social, your customers will notice. 
  3. Maintain community engagement as relationships, connections and engagement are key to any successful social media campaign. Always respond to customer issues or comments promptly.
  4. The holidays are a great time to showcase the ‘human’ side of your business. Take advantage of platforms like Instagram to showcase the company, employees, and interact with the community at large. 

Q. What are the most common mistakes you see brands making in their social media pushes?

Henk Campher: The most common mistake brands make is thinking of social media merely as a broadcast medium. With nearly three billion people on Facebook every month, more than one million on Instagram, and hundreds of millions more on Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat, it’s tempting to think that way. While social media started with organic posts and later turned to paid social advertising, brands should never lose sight of social media’s core value: establishing and maintaining relationships. Take the time to invest in relationship building, as this helps brands build strong bonds with their audiences and boost customer loyalty, which ultimately benefits their business. Rather than pump out promotional content, take the time to establish your brand’s personality, and connect with customers by taking on an empathetic “human-first” approach.

How is your brand making the most of social media marketing this holiday season? Are there challenges you’re facing with regards to creating value from a board room perspective? Feel free to share your thoughts on our interview, drop a comment!

The post How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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