I’m at a point where I’m ready to start testing performance marketing for a SaaS product.
Obviously it’s quite easy to waste money on ads if you don’t have the right mix of creative, copy and targeting. I was wondering what options are out there, short of hiring a full agency to run campaigns.
I’d love some service similar to 99designs where I can commission a video and review submissions, but I imagine I’d need someone more hands on to test the copy, targeting, etc.
Curious to hear if people typically found consultants on Upwork/Fiverr/Toptal or used a service like KlientBoost?
When I needed a new sofa several months ago, I was pleased to find a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option during the checkout process. I had prepared myself to make a major financial outlay, but the service fees were well worth the convenience of deferring the entire payment.
Coincidentally, I was siting on said sofa this morning and considering that transaction when Alex Wilhelm submitted a column that compared recent earnings for three BNPL providers: Afterpay, Affirm and Klarna.
I asked him why he decided to dig into the sector with such gusto.
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“What struck me about the concept was that we had just seen earnings from Affirm,” he said. “So we had three BNPL players with known earnings, and I had just covered a startup funding round in the space.”
“Toss in some obvious audience interest, and it was an easy choice to write the piece. Now the question is whether I did a good job and people find value in it.”
Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week! Have a great weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
As BNPL startups raise, a look at Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay earnings
Pilot CEO Waseem Daher tears down his company’s $ 60M Series C pitch deck
I avoid running Extra Crunch stories that focus on best practices; you can find those anywhere. Instead, we look for “here’s what worked for me” articles that give readers actionable insights.
That’s a much better use of your time and ours.
With that ethos in mind, Lucas Matney interviewed Pilot CEO Waseem Daher to deconstruct the pitch deck that helped his company land a $ 60M Series C round.
“If the Series A was about, ‘Do you have the right ingredients to make this work?’ then the Series B is about, ‘Is this actually working?’” Daher tells TechCrunch.
“And then the Series C is more, ‘Well, show me that the core business is really working and that you have unlocked real drivers to allow the business to continue growing.’”
Can solid state batteries power up for the next generation of EVs?
A global survey of automobile owners found three hurdles to overcome before consumers will widely embrace electric vehicles:
- 30-minute charging time
- 300-mile range
- $ 36,000 maximum cost
“Theoretically, solid state batteries (SSB) could deliver all three,” but for now, lithium-ion batteries are the go-to for most EVs (along with laptops and phones).
In our latest market map, we’ve plotted the new and established players in the SSB sector and listed many of the investors who are backing them.
Although SSBs are years away from mass production, “we are on the cusp of some pretty incredible discoveries using major improvements in computational science and machine learning algorithms to accelerate that process,” says SSB startup founder Amy Prieto.
Dear Sophie: Which immigration options are the fastest?
Help! Our startup needs to hire 50 engineers in artificial intelligence and related fields ASAP. Which visa and green card options are the quickest to get for top immigrant engineers?
And will Biden’s new immigration bill help us?
— Mesmerized in Menlo Park
Why F5 spent $ 2.2B on 3 companies to focus on cloud native applications
Founded in 1996, F5 has repositioned itself in the networking market several times in its history. In the last two years, however, it spent $ 2.2 billion to acquire Shape Security, Volterra and NGINX.
“As large organizations age, they often need to pivot to stay relevant, and I wanted to explore one of these transformational shifts,” said enterprise reporter Ron Miller.
“I spoke to the CEO of F5 to find out the strategy behind his company’s pivot and how he leveraged three acquisitions to push his organization in a new direction.”
DigitalOcean’s IPO filing shows a two-class cloud market
Cloud hosting company DigitalOcean filed to go public this week, so Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm unpacked its financials.
“AWS and Microsoft Azure will not be losing too much sleep worrying about DigitalOcean, but it is not trying to compete head-on with them across the full spectrum of cloud infrastructure services,” said John Dinsdale, chief analyst and research director at Synergy Research.
Oscar Health’s initial IPO price is so high, it makes me want to swear
I asked Alex Wilhelm to dial back the profanity he used to describe Oscar Health’s proposed valuation, but perhaps I was too conservative.
In March 2018, the insurtech unicorn was valued at around $ 3.2 billion. Today, with the company aiming to debut at $ 32 to $ 34 per share, its fully diluted valuation is closer to $ 7.7 billion.
“The clear takeaway from the first Oscar Health IPO pricing interval is that public investors have lost their minds,” says Alex.
His advice for companies considering an IPO? “Go public now.”
If Coinbase is worth $ 100 billion, what’s a fair valuation for Stripe?
Last week, Alex wrote about how cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase was being valued at $ 77 billion in the private markets.
As of Monday, “it’s now $ 100 billion, per Axios’ reporting.”
He reviewed Coinbase’s performance from 2019 through the end of Q3 2020 “to decide whether Coinbase at $ 100 billion makes no sense, a little sense or perfect sense.”
Winning enterprise sales teams know how to persuade the Chief Objection Officer
A skilled software sales team devotes a lot of resources to pinpointing potential customers.
Poring through LinkedIn and reviewing past speaker lists at industry conferences are good places to find decision-makers, for example.
Despite this detective work, GGV Capital investor Oren Yunger says sales teams still need to identify the deal-blockers who can spike a deal with a single email.
“I call this person the Chief Objection Officer.”
3 strategies for elevating brand authority in 2021
Every startup wants to raise its profile, but for many early-stage companies, marketing budgets are too small to make a meaningful difference.
“Providing real value through content is an excellent way to build authority in the short and long term,” says Amanda Milligan, marketing director at growth agency Fractl.
RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product
The most effective marketing uses good storytelling, not persuasion.
According to Caryn Marooney, general partner at Coatue Management, every compelling story is relevant, inevitable, believable and simple.
“Behind most successful companies is a story that checks every one of those boxes,” says Marooney, but “this is a central challenge for every startup.”
Ironclad’s Jason Boehmig: The objective of pricing is to become less wrong over time
On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, Ironclad founder and CEO Jason Boehmig and Accel partner Steve Loughlin discussed the pitch that brought them together almost four years ago.
Since that $ 8 million Series A, Loughlin joined Ironclad’s board. “Both agree that the work they put in up front had paid off” when it comes to how well they work together, says Jordan Crook.
“We’ve always been up front about the fact that we consider the board a part of the company,” said Boehmig.
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The freemium marketing approach has become commonplace among B2C and B2B software providers alike. Considering that most see fewer than 5% of free users move to paid plans, even a slight improvement in conversion can translate to significant revenue gains. The (multi) million-dollar question is, how do they do it?
The answer lies in product analytics, which offer teams the ability to ask and answer any number of questions about the customer journey on an ad-hoc basis. Combined with a commitment to testing, measurement and iteration, this puts data in the driver’s seat and helps teams make better decisions about what’s in the free tier and what’s behind the paywall. Successful enterprises make this evaluation an ongoing exercise.
Often, the truth of product analytics is that actionable insights come from just a fraction of the data and it can take time to understand what’s happening.
Sweat the small stuff
A freemium business model is simply a set of interconnected funnels. From leads all the way through to engagement, conversion and retention, understanding each step and making even small optimizations at any stage will have down-funnel implications. Start by using product analytics to understand the nuances of what’s working and what isn’t, and then double down on the former.
For example, identify specific personas that perform well and perform poorly. While your overall conversion average may be 5%, there can be segments converting at 10% or 1%. Understanding the difference can shine a light on where to focus. That’s where the right analytics can lead to significant results. But if you don’t understand what, why and how to improve, you’re left with guesswork. And that’s not a modern way of operating.
There’s a misconception that volume of data equals value of data. Let’s say you want to jump-start your funnel by buying pay-per-click traffic. You see a high volume of activity, with numbers going up at the beginning of your funnel and a sales team busy with calls. However, you come to learn the increased traffic, which looked so promising at the outset, results in very few users converting to paid plans.
Now, this is a story as old as PPC, but in the small percentage that do convert, there’s a lot to learn about where to focus your efforts — which product features keep users hooked and which ones go unused. Often, the truth of product analytics is that actionable insights come from just a fraction of the data and it can take time to understand what’s happening. Getting users on board the free plan is just the first step in conversion. The testing and iteration continue from there.
The dropped and the languished
Within the free tier, users may languish — satisfied with whatever features they can access. If your funnel is full of languishing users, you’ve at least solved the adoption problem, so why are they stuck? Without a testing and tracking approach, you’ll struggle to understand your users and how they respond, by segment, to changes.
Lithuania-based Affise, a marketing platform for building business partnerships, has raised $ 8M (approx €6.5M) in its Series A round of funding. The round was led by Leta Capital with the participation of TMT Investments.
Use of the funds
The raised capital will enable the company to expand its product suite to increase its presence in North America, LatAm, and SEA, as well as cement its leadership in Europe, Israel, and India.
Stanislau Litvinau, CEO and co-founder of comments, “Partnerships management is becoming the vital component of the marketing technology stack. Our commitment to representing the marketers’ interests has gained the trust of the world’s leading agencies and networks, and we see significant potential to capture an additional opportunity in the market. One strategy we’re aiming to complete with this funding is entering the adjacent market of direct advertisers and brands, empowering them to grow their marketing channel with affiliate programs.”
What does Affise offer?
The company was founded in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2016, by Dmitri Zotov and Stanislau Litvinau. Affise is a partnership marketing platform for brands, advertisers, and agencies that help them automate and scale their partner relations via all possible performance marketing channels such as traditional affiliates, influencers, networks, and agencies.
Affise has doubled its revenue every year and now employs over 120 people in six offices around the world. “We can see that performance marketing becomes essential across many new channels which were difficult to measure until recently,” said Alexander Chachava, managing partner at Leta Capital.
The company currently has offices in Lithuania, Israel, India, China, Belarus, and Cyprus, and plans to increase its presence in North America by establishing an office in the USA.
Soon to complete SOC 2 exam
The company mentions in a statement that it also aims to soon complete the SOC 2 examination of security controls. SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that ensures your service providers securely manage your data to protect the interests of your organisation and the privacy of its clients.
Soc 2, pronounced “sock two” and formally known as Service Organisation Control 2 reports on various organisational controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy. For security-conscious businesses, SOC 2 compliance is a minimal requirement when considering a SaaS provider.
Affise works with over 1,000 customers, including leading brands and agencies such as Wargaming, Xapads, Hypercentage, Kismia, Mobavenue, GroupM, Zorka.Mobi, Appalgo, and Mobligent, among others. The company boasts connections of over 300,000 partners to accelerate its business growth.
As the partnership marketing industry continues an impressive growth of 10 per cent, every year, its 2021 value is estimated to reach $ 1.2B.
Dmitri Zotov, CTO and co-founder of Affise believes, “The market evolution from traditional affiliates to new performance channels (influencers, brand-to-brand and other), along with the skyrocketing growth in e-Commerce in 2020, will encourage more small and medium advertisers to launch their own affiliate programs.”
He further continues, “This trend will generate demand for technological solutions which allow them to start and manage affiliate programs from scratch and achieve incremental growth. Thus, this funding round will enable us to follow Affise’s mission of empowering marketers with the tools needed to catapult their success and make accurate strategic decisions. This will undoubtedly drive innovations and transparency across the industry.”
While more businesses are turning to text messages as a marketing channel, Emotive CEO Brain Zatulove argued that most marketers are just treating it as another “newsletter blast.”
“The reason the channel performs so well is it’s not saturated,” Zatulove said. But that’s changing, and as it does, companies will have to do more to “cut through the noise.”
That’s what he said Emotive provides, by enabling text marketing that feels like a real conversation with another human being, rather than just another email blast. He compared it to the sales associate who would greet you when you first walked into a department store, pre-COVID.
“The online sales associate really didn’t exist,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to provide.”
Emotive saw 466% year-over-year revenue growth in 2020 and is announcing today that it has raised $ 50 million in a Series B funding round that values the company at $ 400 million. It was led by CRV with participation from Mucker Capital, TenOneTen Ventures and Stripes.
“Never underestimate the importance of building a product that your customers, and your customers’ customers adore,” said CRV general partner Murat Bicer in a statement. “One of the things that struck us about Emotive is the sheer amount of customer love Brian and Zack get from meal delivery services, manufacturing companies and even toddler shoe brands. Small businesses find it easy to set up campaigns and their customers genuinely prefer communicating with someone over text rather than email.”
Zatulove said he founded the company with Zachary Wise after they’d worked together on cannabis loyalty startup Reefer, eventually deciding there was a bigger opportunity here after their early successes with text marketing. He explained that while Emotive works with larger customers, its sweet spot is mid-sized e-commerce businesses on Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce and Woocommerce.
Since those businesses usually don’t have any salespeople of their own yet, Emotive serves that function. It can start conversations around shopping cart abandonment and promote promote sales and new products, resulting in what the company says are 8% to 10% conversion rates (compared to 1% or 2% for a standard text marketing campaign). Zatuolove said the platform largely relied on human responders at first, and although it’s become increasingly automated over time, Emotive still has an internal team handling responses when necessary.
“We never plan on losing that human touch as part of the dialogue,” he added. “We see ourselves as a human-to-human platform. That’s our biggest differentiator.”
Emotive had previously raised $ 8.2 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Zatulove said this new round will allow the company to continue developing the product, to grow its headcount to more than 200 people and to open offices in Atlanta and Boston. Eventually, it could also expand beyond texting.
“Longer term, we see ourselves more as a conversation platform, not just as a text message platform,” he said.
So I’ve just started a business, website, services all in place however I’m a little lost on how to get the name out there. I’ve messaged some potential businesses that could use the service but no response yet. So I’m wondering, how did you take this step and how many people did you receive no response from until there was a reply?
It’s saas product with a subscription based model