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Monthly Archives: February 2020

Notivize makes it easier for non-technical teams to optimize app notifications

February 29, 2020 No Comments

A new startup called Notivize aims to give product teams direct access to one of their most important tools for increasing user engagement — notifications.

The company has been testing the product with select customers since last year and says it has already sent hundreds of thousands of notifications. And this week, it announced that it has raised $ 500,000 in seed funding led by Heroic Ventures .

Notivize co-founder Matt Bornski has worked at a number of startups, including AppLovin and Wink, and he said he has “so many stories I can tell you about the time it takes to change a notification that’s deeply embedded in your stack.”

To be clear, Bornski isn’t talking about a simple marketing message that’s part of a scheduled campaign. Instead, he said that the “most valuable” notifications (e.g. the ones that users actually respond to) are usually driven by activity in an app.

For example, it might sound obvious to send an SMS message to a customer once the product they’ve purchased has shipped, but Bornski said that actually creating a notification like that would normally require an engineer to write new code.

“There’s the traditional way that these things are built: The product team specs out that we need to send this email when this happens, or send this SMS or notification when this happens, then the engineering team will go in and find the part of the code where they detect that such a thing has happened,” he said. “What we really want to do is give [the product team] the toolkit, and I think we have.”

Notivize rule

So with Notivize, non-coding members of the product and marketing team can write “if-then” rules that will trigger a notification. And this, Bornski said, also makes it easier to “A/B test and optimize your copy and your send times and your channels” to ensure that your notifications are as effective as possible.

He added that companies usually don’t build this for themselves, because when they’re first building an app, it’s “not a rational thing to invest your time and effort in when you’re just testing the market or you’re struggling for product market fit.” Later on, however, it can be challenging to “go in and rip out all the old stuff” — so instead, you can just take advantage of what Notivize has already built.

Bornski also emphasized that the company isn’t trying to replace services that provide the “plumbing” for notifications. Indeed, Notivize actually integrates with SendGrid and Twilio to send the notifications.

“The actual sending is not the core value [of what we do],” he said. “We’re improving the quality of what you’re paying for, of what you send.”

Notivize allows customers to send up to 100 messages per month for free. After that, pricing starts at $ 14.99 per month.

“The steady march of low-code and no-code solutions into the product management and marketing stack continues to unlock market velocity and product innovation,” said Heroic Ventures founder Michael Fertik in a statement. “Having been an early investor in several developer platforms, it is clear that Notivize has cracked the code on how to empower non-technical teams to manage critical yet complex product workflows.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Facebook Messenger ditches Discover, demotes chat bots

February 29, 2020 No Comments

Chat bots were central to Facebook Messenger’s strategy three years ago. Now they’re being hidden from view in the app along with games and businesses. Facebook Messenger is now removing the Discover tab as it focuses on speed and simplicity instead of broad utility like China’s WeChat.

The changes are part of a larger Messenger redesign that reorients the People tab around Stories as Facebook continues to try to dominate the ephemeral social media format it copied from Snapchat. The People tab now defaults to a full-screen sub-tab of friends’ Stories, and requires a tap over to the Active sub tab to see which friends are online now.

The changes could push users to spend more time visually communicating with friends and consuming content than exploring chat bots for shopping, connecting with businesses and playing games. That in turn could help Facebook earn more money from Messenger as it’s now showing Stories ads.

TechCrunch was tipped off to the redesign by social media director Jeff Higgins, who provided us with extensive screenshots of the update. These show the absence of Discover tab, the switch to just Chat and People tabs and the People sub-tabs for Stories and Active. We poked around some more and noticed the Instant Games and Transportation options missing from the chat composer’s utility tray. That formerly offered quick Uber and Lyft hailing. Messenger’s M Suggestions also no longer recommend the Transportation feature.

When we asked Messenger about the changes, a spokesperson confirmed that this redesign will soon start rolling out, removing Discover and splitting the People tab. Some users already have the update, and more will likely get it this week. They noted that Facebook had announced last August that it planned to eventually axe Discover, and that the added emphasis on Stories was motivated by users’ affinity for the ephemeral social media format. They also told us that Transportation was removed in late 2017, and Instant Games’ removal from the composer is part of the migration to Facebook Gaming announced last July.

A look at the old Messenger Discover tab that’s being removed

Chat bots, businesses and games are being hidden, but not completely banished from Messenger. They’ll still be accessible if users purposefully seek them through the Messenger search bar, Pages and ads on Facebook, buttons to start conversations on businesses’ websites, and m.me URL that create QR codes which open to business accounts in Messenger. The spokesperson diplomatically claimed that businesses are still an important part of Messenger.

But without promotion via Discover, businesses will have to rely on their owned or paid marketing channels to gain traction for their chat bots. That could discourage them from building on the Messenger platform.

The rise and fall of Facebook chat bots

The update feels like the end of a four-year era for Facebook. Back in 2016, it saw artificially intelligent chat bots as a way for businesses to scalably communicate with people, deliver customer service and push e-commerce. But when it launched the chat bot platform at its F8 conference that year, it arrived half-baked.

The typing-based semantic user interfaces were confusing, the AI necessary to make chat bots seem human (or at least reliably understand their human conversation partners hadn’t evolved yet) and several of the launch partner bots like Poncho The Weather Cat were laughably useless. The public soured on the idea of chat bots, and attempts to improve them felt insufficient.

Messenger launched Discover in 2017 in hopes that free promotion and visibility might convince developers to invest in building better chatbots. Yet by early 2018, even Facebook was backpedaling, shelving its plan to build out a full-service AI personal assistant called M that you could ask to do anything. Instead, it’d merely make AI suggestions of different Messenger features to use, like Stickers or reminders based on what you typed. Then it announced last year that it would move Instant Games out of Messenger and into Facebook’s dedicated Gaming tab.

There is still an opportunity to use chat bots for gathering initial info from people with sales or customer service inquiries. Everyone hates dealing with this stuff over the phone, waiting on hold and wading through touch-tone menus. Using asynchronous messaging makes communicating with businesses much more convenient. I’d bet Facebook will still be pushing this as an enterprise use case for Messenger. But this still usually requires a human in the loop at some point, and these are better structured as reactive utilities users search for than as experience proactively promoted by a Discover tab.

A laughably bad interaction with old Messenger chat bot Poncho The Weather Cat

Now with Discover disappearing, Messenger seems to be surrendering the fight to become a WeChat-style monolithic utility. In China, WeCat serves not just as a messaging app but as a way to make payments, hail a taxi, book flights, top up your mobile data, get a loan, find housing or shop at businesses via mini programs.

But while that centralized all-in-one style fit Chinese culture, Western markets have experienced more of an unbundling with different apps emerging to handle each of these use cases. Facebook’s constant privacy scandals and increasing anti-trust scrutiny also inhibited this approach with Messenger. Users and the U.S. government weren’t ready to trust Facebook to handle so much of our daily lives. Facebook Messenger also has to jockey with competition like iMessage and Snapchat that could undercut it if it gets too bloated.

So now Messenger is going in the opposite direction. It’s becoming more WhatsApp-like — simple, speedy and centered around peer-to-peer communication. Visual communication through Stories, with replies to them delivered as messages, feels like a natural extension of this focus while conveniently offering a path to monetization. If Messenger can be the best-in-class place to chat, unencumbered by promotion of chat bots and businesses, users might stay locked into the Facebook ecosystem.


Social – TechCrunch


Amazon Pulled Over 1 Million Items Capitalizing on Coronavirus

February 29, 2020 No Comments

The retail giant says it penalizes sellers who violate its policies, but some merchants say enforcement seems haphazard.  
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How to identify and address the four biggest digital growth challenges

February 29, 2020 No Comments

SMBs working to accelerate digital growth encounter a variety of challenges across internal operations, marketing platforms, site properties, and competitors. Part of the path to growth is identifying and prioritizing those challenges, which can be tough without looking at the right reports and metrics.

In this post, we’ll dig into four areas that often uncover growth blockers and explain how to assess the opportunities that overcoming them would present.

1. Site issues

Growth, in the advertising budget and in awareness, brings more demand on your site. This means more users, more tracking and tagging, and other factors that can affect site speed, which is a huge factor in user experience. One of the best tools out there to test site speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool, which provides great data and insights on your site speed and user experience on mobile and desktop. In general, Google recommends site speeds between two-to-five seconds, and this is considering the faster end of that range in mind. Anything beyond that, and you’re losing money from users bouncing.

Beyond site speed, the way users digest and navigate your site may not be optimal. Although there’s a lot you can glean from click paths in Google Analytics, heat maps are a relatively tried-and-true way to understand:

  • How users are interacting with your site
  • Where they’re getting stuck
  • Where you should relocate your most valuable CTAs and messaging

We’ve seen numerous clients improve CVR by over 20% with rapid testing cycles on top pages.

2. Internal obstacles

You can promise your users the world in your ad campaigns, but without aligning expectations with current internal challenges, that will only build a base of frustrated customers.

B2B companies may have slower-than-expected turnaround times to contact leads that your ads generate, ecommerce companies may experience inventory issues with best-selling products. If your ads are promising same-day calls that get placed weeks later or if you’re offering fast shipping of out-of-stock products, you’ve used ad spend to create a tide of negative sentiment.

Make sure you’re syncing with internal teams to understand challenges that may require you to adjust messaging, or even slow down/pause ad spend while the issues are being sorted out. Especially considering we’re in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, this is more important than ever for sites selling physical products whose supply chain has been affected.

3. Creative chaos

Images, headlines, descriptions, landing pages, ratios, messaging themes – each element can be a factor in attracting and optimizing user engagement, which makes prioritization of testing complicated. The creation of a testing calendar that aligns with your media plan is incredibly important. If you’re new to testing, start slowly and test one variable at a time to keep results clear. If you’ve got some testing experience under your belt and have the requisite budget and expertise, consider adopting a multivariate testing tool to help you execute a rapid testing schedule that will provide both insights and greater performance.

4. Competitive pressures

The challenge that lurks for companies in every growth stage and vertical is competition. More than simply driving up CPCs on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, competition requires marketers to consider things like:

  • Cheaper brand clicks vs net-new non-brand users
  • Acquisition vs less-costly remarketing campaigns

It also requires frequent analysis of how the competitive landscape is changing – new entries, new messaging, new price points and offers. SMBs especially need to clearly articulate their advantages over better-known competitors to give themselves a chance to carve out market share in the face of rising costs.

Of the types of challenges outlined above, only competitive pressures are somewhat beyond your company’s control. Make sure to plan out your cadence of site analysis, internal check-ins, and creative testing roadmaps to keep your own house in order and position yourself to meet competitive challenges that arise.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

The post How to identify and address the four biggest digital growth challenges appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Microsoft’s Cortana drops consumer skills as it refocuses on business users

February 28, 2020 No Comments

With the next version of Windows 10, coming this spring, Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant will lose a number of consumer skills around music and connected homes, as well as some third-party skills. That’s very much in line with Microsoft’s new focus for Cortana, but it may still come as a surprise to the dozens of loyal Cortana fans.

Microsoft is also turning off Cortana support in its Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April and on older versions of Windows that have reached their end-of-service date, which usually comes about 36 months after the original release.

cortana

As the company explained last year, it now mostly thinks of Cortana as a service for business users. The new Cortana is all about productivity, with deep integrations into Microsoft’s suite of Office tools, for example. In this context, consumer services are only a distraction, and Microsoft is leaving that market to the likes of Amazon and Google .

Because the new Cortana experience is all about Microsoft 365, the subscription service that includes access to the Office tools, email, online storage and more, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the assistant’s new feature will give you access to data from these tools, including your calendar, Microsoft To Do notes and more.

And while some consumer features are going away, Microsoft stresses that Cortana will still be able to tell you a joke, set alarms and timers, and give you answers from Bing.

For now, all of this only applies to English-speaking users in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., most of the productivity features will launch in the future.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


February Updates to Paid Advertising Platforms

February 28, 2020 No Comments

In this monthly post, we bring you the latest from all of the major platforms.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Facebook’s Libra Association adds crypto prime broker Tagomi

February 27, 2020 No Comments

TechCrunch has learned that $ 28 million-funded crypto startup Tagomi will be the newest member of the Libra Association that governs the Facebook-backed Libra stablecoin. A formal announcement is slated for Friday or next week.

Tagomi offers a platform that helps large traders and funds easily access cryptocurrency markets. The news comes days after Libra added Shopify, a reversal of dwindling membership after major partners like Visa, PayPal and Stripe dropped out late last year.

We’ve reached out to the Libra Association and have been promised a response by Facebook’s communications team.

Joining Libra means Tagomi will be expected to contribute at least $ 10 million toward developing the cryptocurrency, with that investment eligible to reap dividends from interest earned on money kept in the Libra Reserve. Tagomi will also operate a node that validates transactions coming through the Libra blockchain.

Tagomi was founded by Jennifer Campbell, a former investor at Union Square Ventures, which is also a Libra Association Member. The company has 25 employees across five offices. Tagomi will be the 22nd member of the Libra Association, according to information from the startup’s press representative, who was apparently supposed to hold this news until later. “Tagomi is joining the Libra Foundation and Jennifer will be the newest member,” they emailed TechCrunch. We’ll update this story following our interview with Campbell tomorrow.

Campbell and Tagomi will offer technical and policy support to Libra in an effort to make the cryptocurrency more safe and compliant with international law. That will be critical for the Libra Association to get the green light from regulators for a launch in 2020 like it originally planned. Lawmakers in the U.S. and EU have slammed Libra in hearings and the press over its potential to facilitate money laundering, harm privacy and destabilize the global financial system.

The full membership of the Libra Association is now:

Current Members:

Facebook’s Calibra, Tagomi, Shopify, PayU, Farfetch, Lyft, Spotify, Uber, Illiad SA, Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Xapo, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking.

Former Members:

Vodafone, Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, PayPal, Mercado Pago, Bookings Holdings, eBay.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Facebook has paused election reminders in Europe after data watchdog raises transparency concerns

February 27, 2020 No Comments

Big tech’s lead privacy regulator in Europe has intervened to flag transparency concerns about a Facebook election reminder feature — asking the tech giant to provide it with information about what data it collects from users who interact with the notification and how their personal data is used, including whether it’s used for targeting them with ads.

Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch it has paused use of the election reminder feature in the European Union while it works on addressing the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC)’s concerns.

Facebook’s Election Day Reminder (EDR) feature is a notification the platform can display to users on the day of an election — ostensibly to encourage voter participation. However, as ever with the data-driven ad business, there’s a whole wrapper of associated questions about what information Facebook’s platform might be harvesting when it chooses to deploy the nudge — and how the (ad) business is making use of the data.

On an FAQ on its website about the election reminder Facebook writes vaguely that users “may see reminders and posts about elections and voting”.

Facebook does not explain what criteria it uses to determine whether to target (or not to target) a particular user with an election reminder.

Yet a study carried out by Facebook in 2012, working with academics from the University of California at San Diego, found an election day reminder sent via its platform on the day of the 2010 US congressional elections boosted voter turnout by about 340,000 people — which has led to concern that selective deployment of election reminders by Facebook could have the potential to influence poll outcomes.

If, for example, Facebook chose to target an election reminder at certain types of users who it knows via its profiling of them are likely to lean towards voting a particular way. Or if the reminder was targeted at key regions where a poll result could be swung with a small shift in voter turnout. So the lack of transparency around how the tool is deployed by Facebook is also concerning. 

Under EU law, meanwhile, entities processing personal data that reveals political opinions must also meet a higher standard of regulatory compliance for this so-called “special category data” — including around transparency and consent. (If relying on user consent to collect this type of data it would need to be explicit — requiring a clear, purpose-specific statement that the user affirms, for instance.)

In a statement today the DPC writes that it notified Facebook of a number of “data protection concerns” related to the EDR ahead of the recent Irish General Election — which took place February 8 — raising particular concerns about “transparency to users about how personal data is collected when interacting with the feature and subsequently used by Facebook”.

The DPC said it asked Facebook to make some changes to the feature but because these “remedial actions” could not be implemented in advance of the Irish election it says Facebook decided not to activate the EDR during that poll.

We understand the main issue for the regulator centers on the provision of in-context transparency for users on how their personal data would be collected and used when they engaged with the feature — such as the types of data being collected and the purposes the data is used for, including whether it’s used for advertising purposes.

In its statement, the DPC says that following its intervention Facebook has paused use of the EDR across the EU, writing: “Facebook has confirmed that the Election Day Reminder feature will not be activated during any EU elections pending a response to the DPC addressing the concerns raised.”

It’s not clear how long this intervention-triggered pause will last — neither the DPC nor Facebook have given a timeframe for when the transparency problems might be resolved.

We reached out to Facebook with questions on the DPC’s intervention.

The company sent this statement, attributed to a spokesperson:

We are committed to processing people’s information lawfully, fairly, and in a transparent manner. However, following concerns raised by the Irish Data Protection Commission around whether we give users enough information about how the feature works, we have paused this feature in the EU for the time being. We will continue working with the DPC to address their concerns.

“We believe that the Election Day reminder is a positive feature which reminds people to vote and helps them find their polling place,” Facebook added.

Forthcoming elections in Europe include Slovak parliamentary elections this month; North Macedonian and Serbian parliamentary elections, which are due to take place in April; and UK local elections in early May.

The intervention by the Irish DPC against Facebook is the second such public event in around a fortnight — after the regulator also published a statement revealing it had raised concerns about Facebook’s planned launch of a dating feature in the EU.

That launch was also put on ice following its intervention, although Facebook claimed it chose to postpone the rollout to get the launch “right”; while the DPC said it’s waiting for adequate responses and expects the feature won’t be launched before it gets them.

It looks like public statements of concern could be a new tactic by the regulator to try to address the sticky challenge of reining in big tech.

The DPC is certainly under huge pressure to deliver key decisions to prove that the EU’s flagship General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is functioning as intended. Critics say it’s taking too long, even as its case load continues to pile up.

No GDPR decisions on major cases involving tech giants including Facebook and Google have yet been handed down in Dublin — despite the GDPR fast approaching its second birthday.

At the same time it’s clear tech giants have no shortage of money, resources and lawyers to inject friction into the regulatory process — with the aim of slowing down any enforcement.

So it’s likely the DPC is looking for avenues to bag some quick wins — by making more of its interventions public and thereby putting pressure on a major player like Facebook to respond to publicity generated by it going public with “concerns”.


Social – TechCrunch


Is SEO dead in 2020?

February 27, 2020 No Comments

The death of SEO is a topic that’s been batted around for years but is 2020 the year SEO, an industry with a history dating back more than 25 years, finally kicks the bucket?

TikTok, digital PR, voice search – new terms have been coined and new social networks have popped up in the past few years. As industry experts take a look back over the past year and forecast trends for the coming year, the inevitable question comes up time and time again: “Is SEO dead this year?”

The answer, of course, is no. SEO is not dead.

If you’re a business reading this article because you’re wondering whether to invest your hard-earned cash in SEO, is it still a viable marketing strategy for 2020, or whether to spend it more wisely elsewhere, read on.

Why do people say SEO is dead?

So if SEO is as wildly successful as we’re proclaiming, then why do people claim SEO dead?

Put yourself into the shoes of a site owner whose whole experience of SEO is those shady emails that manage to avoid your inbox’s spam filter: “Dear Sir, you must be curious to know, in spite of having popular keywords and many backlinks why your website is not visible on the first page of major search engines.” 

Or think of those in traditional marketing who work outside of SEO. According to a study, 61% of business owners cited that “increasing brand awareness” is important to them – how many of these understand that SEO is one of the most effective ways to organically increase awareness of your brand? While we know that the number one position on Google is reported to capture up to 31.7% of search traffic, according to one study, as compared to around 17% in the number two position, all the way down to just two percent in position 10, they may not.

Let’s consider those stats in real terms, think of a sector with a highly competitive high search volume keyword, for example, “cheap flights”. This has 550,000 average monthly searches. If you’re in position one in Google for that search term, that’s a potential of 176,000 people reaching your site through that search result alone every single month.

But to mix things up, add to this the fact that position number one in Google’s search results doesn’t mean exactly what it says it does all the time nowadays. Users will be first confronted with a (debatably) clearly labeled “Ad”, served by Google Ads based on a combination of what that site has bid for them and their quality score.

So some think that SEO is dead because paid media is the top dog

But we can counter this with the fact that position one in Google isn’t everything it says it is anymore. While there will, of course, be an ad at the top of the search results, this is often also followed up by a “Google Answer Box” and/or a knowledge panel. These are our zero-click searches and these don’t come easily. Google doesn’t just hand them out to anyone. It takes a combination of elements to make sure that you secure those placements:

  • Excellent on-page content
  • High-value links off the page
  • A good dash of the best technical SEO thrown

And a good deal, more hard work ensuring that you keep on top of all of this to remain in that position.

Even within the digital industry, people proclaim SEO is dying. Google’s algorithm gets ever-more vicious with every update. Sites can disappear from search results without a warning, and tactics that worked yesterday can cause penalties the very next. In order to sidestep this risk altogether, some will avoid investing time, effort, and money into SEO, but that means potentially missing out on those hundreds of thousands of Google referrals every single day.

But we also need to consider social media referrals, brand mentions in industry publications, influencer marketing, traditional offline marketing, and even word of mouth. 

Let’s delve a little further.

SEO’s past, present, and future

Just imagine a world without SEO, where would we be? That’s something impossible to even consider nowadays, in a time where the term “to Google” has entered the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1995, the internet had only two billion users, today it is over four billion. To put this better into perspective, Facebook is now 15 times larger than the entire internet was in 1995. And at that time in SEO’s history, search engines such as Archie, VLib, and Veronica were simply virtual libraries with little to no ability to search. They were merely considered indices of web servers. Links didn’t pass any equity as to ranking in these engines simply because they didn’t offer any sort of ranking.

The digital world began to evolve quickly though, search engines started to rank pages based on OPIC (on page importance criteria) scores. And even then, SEO techniques were already evolving – keywords were key but discoveries such as secondary title tag manipulation causing immediate first position rankings were revealed by webmasters like Dave Naylor in forums like WebmasterWorld.

Understanding how the digital world and SEO have evolved is key to understanding how it works today. On the surface, SEO appears to be something simple – search engine optimization – what more could there be than making sure your website works well, looks good, has a few good keywords, and a few good links, right? 

In reality, there is far more to consider – RankBrain, E-A-T, and BERT are just a few updates that Google has introduced to their algorithm in the past few years that have changed everything. The world of search engines is ever-evolving, and SEO’s future looks bright.

SEO is just one part of a larger machine at work

While TikTok, digital PR, voice search and others, even traditional marketing, seem to be a threat to SEO as an industry, in reality, they’re all the cogs in one big marketing machine – and SEO is one of the biggest.

The question really should be – “Is SEO really still worth it in 2020?”

As the internet continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, search engines that work effectively and efficiently become increasingly more important. Users now need search engines more than ever. It’s key to not forget that, at their heart, they’re simply a tool to help users find the best answer to their question as quickly as possible.

Even though at times, it seems like Google is personally victimizing your clients, they’re really refining their algorithms so that spammy sites that have no use to their users are less likely to break through into their search results.

Avoid defunct SEO tactics

Rather than thinking that SEO as a whole is dead in 2020, we need to be reframing it. If it feels like your SEO techniques aren’t working, there’s probably a reason Google just doesn’t have the time to pick out individual websites it takes a dislike to, and stop them from appearing in SERPS for no reason.

In reality, it’s more likely that your techniques are outdated and thus ineffective. In fact, outdated techniques may be harming your brand more than helping it. Think strong, relevant content over keyword-stuffed pages. Aim for naturally earned backlinks rather than paid ones for exact match anchor text links. Spend time on the “behind the scenes” parts of your website – the technical SEO that an everyday user will never notice but will feel the benefits of every time they use your site.

All Google wants when displaying search results is something that genuinely answers users’ queries and works well – and if your site does that then you’ll reap the rewards.

Is SEO worth the time and effort in 2020?

There’s only one answer to this big question, the stats speak for themselves – with over 40,000 search queries every second and an estimated 62.19 billion visitors annually, Google is the behemoth that rules the internet. Without it, or indeed any other well-functioning search engine, how would we find the content we need? 

In addition to this, usability is becoming far more important. With Google’s semantic technology that understands the intent behind longtail searches and allows users to have a “conversation” with technology, and recent reports that over half of Google’s searches result in zero clicks thanks to the Google Answer Boxes, Google Images, Google Maps, and other Google-owned properties. Never before has a search engine ruled so well.

Diversifying and refining SEO techniques is key to getting customers in a world where they don’t even need to leave a search engine to get what they need.

SEO is not dead in 2020, nor will SEO ever be dead, as long as the internet continues to exist.

Sian Thomas is a digital media executive at Bronco, a full-service digital agency based in North Yorkshire.

The post Is SEO dead in 2020? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


As Block exits, Salesforce forecasts it will surpass $20B in revenue in FY2021

February 27, 2020 No Comments

When Keith Block joined Salesforce from Oracle in 2013, the CRM giant was already a successful SaaS vendor on a billion-dollar quarterly revenue cadence. When the co-CEO announced he was stepping down yesterday, the company reported revenue of $ 4.9 billion for the quarter.

During his tenure, the company’s revenue more than quadrupled, earning an impressive $ 17.1 billion last year, and, as Block announced at the earnings call, the company he was leaving was forecasting revenue of $ 21 billion for FY2021.

Consider that it was not that long ago (in May 2017) that we wrote about the company reaching the $ 10 billion mark. It’s perilously easy to get lost in these numbers, to take them for granted and think they don’t mean as much as they do. It’s hard work to build a billion-dollar SaaS business, never mind $ 10 billion or $ 20 billion.

Yet Salesforce is embarking on unchartered territory for a SaaS company. It’s approaching $ 20 billion in revenue for a single year.

Growth through acquisition

Granted, the company keeps growing revenue by making big deals like buying MuleSoft for $ 6.5 billion in 2018 or Tableau for $ 15.7 billion in 2019, or just this week buying Vlocity for a mere $ 1.33 billion. That means the company spent more than $ 25 billion over a couple of years to buy substantial companies that will help them build their business.

Block took a moment to brag a bit about his accomplishments, including how some of those purchases performed, during his swan song call with Salesforce, calling it a capstone of his time at Salesforce:

In Q4, we grew 32% in the Americas, 28% in APAC and 47% in EMEA in constant currency. Now that includes our recent acquisitions. And at the close of FY 2020, the number of Salesforce customers spending $ 20 million annually grew 34%.

Think about that last number for just a minute. This a SaaS vendor with the number of customers spending $ 20 million growing by 34%. Block helped orchestrate that growth and worked with the executive team to help determine which companies it should be targeting.

At a press conference in 2016 at Dreamforce, he discussed Salesforce’s acquisition strategy. At the time, it had bought 10 of 12 companies it would end up acquiring that year. It would buy only one in 2017, before revving up again in 2018. Here’s what he said about what they look for in a company, as we reported in an article at the time:

We look at culture. Will it be a good cultural fit? Is it a good product fit? Is there talent? Is there financial value? What are the risks of assimilating the company into our company?

What’s next for Block?

There is no word on what Block will do next beyond acting as an advisor to his former co-CEO Marc Benioff, who took time in the earnings call to thank his colleague for his time at Salesforce. As well he should.

As Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research point outs, Block leaves a big hole as he steps away. “If there is no equivalent replacement, you will see a significant impact in sales. Keith brought industries and sales discipline,” Wang told TechCrunch

It will be interesting to watch what he does next, and who, if anyone, will benefit from his vast experience helping to build the most successful pure SaaS company on the planet.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


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