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Retail Zipline, a startup aiming to improve communication between retail stores and corporate decision makers, announced today that it has raised $ 9.6 million in Series A funding.
CEO Melissa Wong previously worked in corporate communications for Old Navy, where she said she saw “such a disconnect between what was decided in headquarters and what was decided in stores.” For example, management might decide on a big marketing push to sell any remaining Mother’s Day-related items after the holiday has passed, but then “the stores wouldn’t do it.”
“The stores would say there were too many messages, they didn’t see the memo, they didn’t know it was a priority,” Wong said.
So she founded Retail Zipline with CTO Jeremy Baker, with the goal of building better communication tools for retailers. Baker said that while they looked at existing chat and task management software for inspiration, those tools were “mostly built for people sitting at a desk all day,” rather than workers who are “on the floor, dealing with customers.”
Retail Zipline’s features include messaging and task management — plus a centralized library of documents and multimedia and a survey tool to track results and feedback from stores.
To illustrate how the software is actually being used, Baker outlined a scenario where an athletic shoe company is launching “a huge initiative,” with a big-name athlete signed on to promote the latest pair of shoes.
“In a traditional environment, someone might FedEx over a package to [the store], someone might send an email down, ‘Hey, look for a package on this day,’ someone else from the marketing team might say, ‘Hey guys, we’re doing a shoe launch,’ ” he said. “All of this in these disparate systems, where people have to piece together the story. It’s kind of like a murder mystery.”
Baker said that Retail Zipline, on the other hand, provides a single place to find all the needed materials and tasks “tied together with a bow, instead of a store manager spending 10-plus hours in the back room trying to piece this thing together, or even worse not seeing it.”
The company’s customers include Casper, LEGO and Lush Cosmetics. Wong said Retail Zipline works “with anyone that has a retail location” — ranging from Gap, Inc. with thousands of stores, to Toms Shoes with 10.
The funding was led by Emergence, with Santi Subotovsky and Kara Egan from Emergence both joining the startup’s board of directors. Serena Williams’ new firm Serena Ventures also participated.
“As someone with an incredibly active life, I understand the need to be dynamic, and capable of quickly adapting to shifting priorities, but I’m also aware of the stress a fast-paced work environment can impose,” Williams said in a statement. “Retail Zipline is tackling this issue head-on in retail – a notoriously stressful industry – by pioneering products that help store associates get organized, communicate efficiently, and deliver amazing customer experiences.”
April was a big month for Google Data Studio (GDS), with Google introducing some significant product updates to this already robust reporting tool.
For those not familiar with GDS, it is a free dashboard-style reporting tool that Google rolled out in June 2016. With Data Studio, users can connect to various data sources to visualize, and share data from a variety of web-based platforms.
GDS supports native integrations with most Google products including Analytics, Google Ads, Search Ads 360 (formerly Doubleclick Search), Google Sheets, YouTube Analytics, and Google BigQuery.
1. Google introduces BigQuery BI Engine for integration with GDS
BigQuery is Google’s massive enterprise data warehouse. It enables extremely fast SQL queries by using the same technology that powers Google Search. Per Google,
“Every day, customers upload petabytes of new data into BigQuery, our exabyte-scale, serverless data warehouse, and the volume of data analyzed has grown by over 300 percent in just the last year.”
2. Enhanced data drill-down capabilities
You can now reveal additional levels of detail in a single chart using GDS’s enhanced data drill down (or drill up) capabilities.
You’ll need to enable this feature in each specific GDS chart and, once enabled, you can drill down from a higher level of detail to a lower one (for example, country to a city). You can also drill up from a lower level of detail to a higher one (for example, city to the country). You must be in “View” mode to drill up or drill down (as opposed to the “Edit” mode).
Here’s an example of drilling-up in a chart that uses Google’s sample data in GDS.
To drill-up by year, right click on the chart in “View” mode and select “Drill up” as shown below.
Visit the Data Studio Help website for detailed instructions on how to leverage this feature.
3. Improved formatting of tables
GDS now allows for more user-friendly and intuitive table formatting. This includes the ability to distribute columns evenly with just one click (by right-clicking the table), resizing only one column by dragging the column’s divider, and changing the justification of table contents to left, right, or center via the “Style” properties panel in “Edit” mode.
Detailed instructions on how to access this feature are located here.
4. The ability to hide pages in “View” mode
GDS users can now hide pages in “View” mode by right clicking on the specific page (accessed via the top submenu), clicking on the three vertical dots to the right of the page name, and selecting “Hide page in view mode”. This feature comes in handy when you’ve got pages you don’t want your client (or anyone) to see when presenting the GDS report.
5. Page canvas size enhancements
Users can now customize each page’s size with a new feature that was rolled out on March 21st (we’re sneaking this into the April update because it’s a really neat feature).
Canvas size settings can be accessed from the page menu at the top of the GDS interface. Select Page>Current Page Settings, and then select “Style” from the settings area at the right of the screen. You can then choose your page size from a list of pre-configured sizes or set a custom size of your own.
6. New Data Studio help community
As GDS adds more features and becomes more complex, it seems only fitting that Google would launch a community help forum for this tool. So, while this isn’t exactly a new feature to GDS itself, it is a new resource for GDS users that will hopefully make navigating GDS easier.
Users can access the GDS Help Community via Google’s support website or selecting “Help Options” from the top menu bar in GDS (indicated by a question mark icon) then click the “Visit Help Forum” link.
We hope that summarizing the latest GDS enhancements has made it a little easier to digest the many new changes that Google rolled out in April (and March). Remember, you can always get a list of updates, both new and old by visiting Google’s Support website here.
Jacqueline Dooley is the Director of Digital Strategy at CommonMind.
The post A summary of Google Data Studio: Updates from April 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
From search to social, ad platforms have been rolling out major changes this year. You may not have the time to review them all in one sitting, so we broke down our top three updates from Bing in the first four months of 2019.
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If content is queen, and the critical role SEO plays a role of bridging the two to drive growth, then there’s no question as to whether or not keyword research is important.
However, connecting the dots to create content that ranks well can be difficult. What makes it so difficult? How do you go from a target keyword phrase and write an article that is unique, comprehensive, encompasses all the major on-page SEO elements, touches the reader, and isn’t structured like the “oh-so-familiar” generic SEO template?
There’s no one size fits all approach! However, there is a simple way to support any member of your editorial, creative writing, or content team in shaping up what they need in order to write SEO-friendly content, and that’s an SEO content brief.
Key benefits of a content brief:
- Productivity and efficiency – A content brief clearly outlines expectation for the writer resulting in reduced revisions
- Alignment – Writers understand the intent and goals of the content
- Quality – Reduces garbage in, garbage out.
So the rest of this article will cover how we actually get there & we’ll use this very article as an example:
- Keyword research
- Topical expansion
- Content/SERP (search engine results page) analysis
- Content brief development
- Template and tools
Any good editor will tell you great content comes from having a solid content calendar with topics planned in advance for review and release at a regular cadence. To support topical analysis and themes as SEOs we need to start with keyword research.
Start with keyword research: Topic, audience, and objectives
The purpose of this guide isn’t to teach you how to do keyword research. It’s to set you up for success in taking the step beyond that and developing it into a content brief. Your primary keywords serve as your topic themes, but they are also the beginning makings of your content brief, so try to ensure you:
- Spend time understanding your target audience and aligning their goals to your keywords. Many call this keyword intent mapping. Rohan Ayyr provides an excellent guide to matching keywords to intent in his article, ‘How to move from keyword research to intent research’.
- Do the keyword research in advance, it will allow writers and editors the freedom to move things around and line it up with trending topics.
How does all this help in supporting a content brief?
You and your team can get answers to the key questions mentioned below.
- What will they write about? Primary keywords serve as the topic in your content brief.
- Who is the intended audience? Keyword intent helps unearth what problem the user is trying to solve, helping us understand who they are, and what they need.
Now with keywords as our guide to overall topical themes, we can focus on the next step, topical expansion.
Topical expansion: Define key points and gather questions
Writers need more than keywords, they require insight into the pain points of the reader, key areas of the topic to address and most of all, what questions the content should answer. This too will go into your content brief.
We’re in luck as SEOs because there is no shortage of tools that allow us to gather this information around a topic.
For example, let’s say this article focuses on “SEO writing”. There are a number of ways to expand on this topic.
- Using a tool like SEMRush’s topic research tool, you can take your primary keyword (topic), and get expanded/related topics, a SERP snapshot and questions in a single view. I like this because it covers what many other tools do separately. Ultimately it supports both content expansion & SERP analysis at the same time.
- Use keyword suggestion tools like KeywordTool.io or Ubersuggest to expand the terms combined with Google search results to quickly view potential topics.
- Use Answerthepublic.com to get expanded terms and inspirational visuals.
- Alternatively, Ann Smarty offers up four additional tools, for related keywords to support topical expansion.
You’ve taken note of what to write about, and how to cover the topic fully. But how do we begin to determine what type of content and how in-depth it should be?
Content and SERP analysis: Specifying content type and format
Okay, so we’re almost done. We can’t tell writers to write unique content if we can’t specify what makes it unique. Reviewing the competition and what’s being displayed consistently in the SERP is a quick way to assess what’s likely to work. You’ll want to look at the top ten results for your primary topic and collect the following:
- Content type – Are the results skewed towards a specific type of content? (For example, in-depth articles, infographics, videos, or blog posts)
- Format – Is the information formatted as a guide? A how-to? Maybe a list?
- Differentiation points – What stands out about the top three results compared to the rest?
Content brief development: Let’s make beautiful content together
Now you’re ready to prepare your SEO content brief which should include the following:
- Topic and objective – Your topic is your primary keyword phrase. Your objective is what this content supposed to accomplish.
- Audience and objective – Based on your keyword intent mapping, describe who the article is meant to reach.
- Voice, style, tone – Use an existing content/brand style guide.
- Content type and format – Based on your SERP analysis.
- Content length – Based on SERP Analysis. Ensure you’re meeting the average across the top three results based on content type.
- Deadline – This is only pertinent if you are working solo, otherwise, consult/lean on your creative team lead.
[Note: If/when using internally, consider making part of the content request process, or a template for the editorial staff. When using externally be sure to include where the content will be displayed, format/output, specialty editorial guidance.]
Template and tools
Want to take a shortcut? Feel free to download and copy my SEO content brief template, it’s a Google doc.
Other content brief templates/resources:
If you want to streamline the process as a whole, MarketMuse provides a platform that manages the keyword research, topic expansion, provides the questions, and manages the entire workflow. It even allows you to request a brief, all in one place.
I only suggest this for larger organizations looking to scale as there is an investment involved. You’d likely also have to do some work to integrate into your existing processes.
Jori Ford is Sr. Director of Content & SEO at G2Crowd. She can also be found on Twitter @chicagoseopro.
Email is one of the most direct ways for organizations to reach their audiences on a 1:1 basis, which means that it is a rich source of information for research and new product development.
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Google Cloud already powers some of the world’s premier companies and startups, and now it’s poised to put even more pressure on cloud competitors like AWS with its newly-released products and services. TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois will be on the ground at the event, and Ron Miller will be covering from afar. Thursday at 10:00 am PT, Frederic and Ron will be sharing what they saw and what it all means with Extra Crunch members on a conference call.
Tune in to dig into what happened onstage and off and ask Frederic and Ron any and all things cloud or enterprise.
To listen to this and all future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.
Time is Ltd., a Prague-based startup offering “productivity software analytics” to help companies gain insights from employees’ use of Slack, Office 365, G Suite and other enterprise software, has raised €3 million in funding.
Leading the round is Mike Chalfen — who previously co-founded London venture capital firm Mosaic Ventures but has since decided to operate as a solo investor — with participation from Accel. The investment will be used by Time is Ltd. to continue building the platform for large enterprises that want to better understand the patterns of behaviour hidden inside the various cloud software they run on.
“Time is Ltd. was founded… to help large corporations and companies get a view into insights and productivity of teams,” co-founder and CEO Jan Rezab tells me. “Visualising insights around calendars, time, and communication will help companies to understand real data behind their productivity”.
Powered by machine learning, the productivity software analytics platform plugs into the cloud software tools that enterprises typically use to collaborate across various departments. It then analyses various metadata pulled from these software tools, such as who is communicating with who and time spent on Slack, or which teams are meeting, where and for how long as per various calendars. The idea is to enable managers to gain a better understanding of where productivity is lost or could be improved and to tie changes in these patterns to business goals.
Rezab cites the example of a large company undergoing “agile” transformation. “If you want to steer a massive company of 5,000 plus people, you really should understand the impact of your actions a bit more much earlier, not after the fact,” he says. “One of the hypothesis of an agile transformation is, for example, that managers really get involved a bit less and things work a bit more streamlined. You see from our data that this is or is not happening, and you can take corrective action”.
Or it could be something as simple as a large company with multiple offices that is conducting too many meetings. Time is Ltd. is able to show how the number of meetings held is increasing and what departments or teams is instigating them. “You can also show the inter-departmental video meeting efficiency, and if the people, for example, often need to travel to these meetings, how long does that takes vs. digital meetings — so you can generally help and recommend the company take specific actions,” explains Rezab.
Sales is another area that could benefit from productivity analytics, with Time is Ltd. revealing that most sales teams actually spend the majority of their meeting time inside the company not outside as you would think. “The structure of these internal meetings varies; planning for these events or just on-boarding and education,” says the Time is Ltd. CEO. “You can, so to speak, follow the time from revenue to different teams… and then see over time how it changes, and how it impacts sales productivity”.
Meanwhile, investor Mike Chalfen describes the young startup as a new breed of data-driven services that use “significant but under-utilised datasets”. “Productivity is one of the largest software markets globally, but lacks deep enterprise analytics to drive intelligent operational management for large businesses,” he says in a statement.
That’s not to say Time is Ltd. isn’t without competition, which includes Microsoft itself. “Our biggest competitor is Microsoft Workplace Analytics,” says Rezab. “However, Microsoft does not integrate other than MS products. Our advantage is that we are a productivity platform to integrate all of the cloud tools. Starting with Slack, SAP Success Factors, Zoom, and countless others”.
Explore how online user behavior is a crucial component of being able to take your PPC strategy from average to expert!
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