Fundraising during pandemic? This is how these Amsterdam-based startups pulled it off

Closing a round of fundraising is generally a huge milestone for many startups. But it can also be incredible hard, complicated work and a stressful affair. Add to that a global pandemic shutting the world down? Doubly so, you would think. We checked in with Roamler, Studytube, Wizenoze and Open Social; all startups from Amsterdam that managed to raise significant funding during lockdown and peak pandemic. How did they manage, how do they look back and what is their advice?

Roamler got themselves worked up

On-demand marketplace for workers Roamler managed to raise a whopping €20 million. Their previous investor Endeit from Amsterdam led the round. Roamler-CEO Jeroen ten Haave started informal conversations with investors in November last year, when the world hadn’t heard of the word ‘COVID-19’ yet. That quickly changed and raising funds while a pandemic was disrupting the world was more excitement Ten Haave bargained for. “I think it was mostly us that were nervous about the situation. The investor clearly said they believed in what we were doing.”

 Roamler did not betray that faith. The Amsterdam-based startup got hit hard by the lockdown measures taken all over Europe. A lot of Roamler’s activities take place in stores or at people’s homes.”Together with our clients we determined it was simply not okay to send people there.” After business plunged in the lockdown months of April and May, it instantly picked up once life turned back to normal, says Ten Haave. “In June we were back on the level of February. We went from virtually standing still to business as usual in just two months. I think this proves the strength of our business model.” 

With the fresh funding, Ten Haave is looking abroad for Roamler. Highest on the list of priorities is international expansion of Roamler Tech, which employs specialists to install devices, troubleshoot software or help users with new technology. “We’re starting our expansion in the UK. We wanted to roll out in June, but due to the pandemic it got delayed until the end of September. After that, we’re looking at Germany and France, somewhere next year.” 

According to Ten Haave, the biggest challenge when setting up in a new market is to onboard new clients and convince them from the new way of working they offer, compared to the traditional model of freelancing or employment. “Our clients are large companies. They won’t change their organisation overnight. But there is huge demand for digitization of processes and workflows. Now that there is uncertainty in the market, this could mean there’s opportunities for us. It strengthens the discussion on how we can help people in a more flexible way.” 

Studytube’s deal nearly fell through

Image: Studytube

“These were the most stressful days of my life”, says Studytube co-founder and CEO Homam Karimi when he recalls the past couple of months. His online learning platform closed a funding round of €10 million with Nordic fund Verdane. Certainly something to celebrate now, but back in March, with the deal 99 percent done, COVID-19 nearly ruined everything. After months of work, all the way through the due diligence phase and beyond the shareholders agreement, everything just needed one official nod from all parties to close. But the same Monday The Netherlands went into a lockdown, Karimi, with the champagne bottle ready to pop, got word the investors pulled out. 

“At first there were some additional questions from Verdane about the deal. They started to have doubts about investing in new companies because of the uncertain times. But on Monday afternoon we heard the deal didn’t go through.” This meant the agreed upon exit for previous investor Henq also fell through. “Henq was also hit by this. Together with Coen van Duiven [Co-founder of Henq] we worked really hard to make the case for us. Eventually Verdane realized that Studytube was one of the companies that would come out of this crisis better than before. Tuesday after the lockdown went into effect, the deal was signed and done.” 

Stay up-to-date: Read all our COVID-19 coverage here 

The fact that Studytube is likely to grow during the crisis is already apparent. Karimi identifies two parts of the business: the SaaS-part, which offers an online learning platform for organizations, and a marketplace where one can book educators and training. “The software part really took off”, says Karimi. “Many companies had nothing in place for their employees to train or learn from home. Since March, we have added fifty new organizations.” However the part of the site where training or workshops are offered, fell quiet. Karimi: “The SaaS-part grows way faster than the decline of demand in the marketplace. We’re still looking at 70 or 80 percent growth this year.” 

With the funding done, Karimi is looking across the border for Studytube. “From 2021 we plan to expand across Europe.” One way to do so is organic, by starting to offer their product on new markets. But Karimi is also looking at acquisition of other parties to accelerate their growth. “There are many legacy learning management systems in Europe that were founded ten or fifteen years ago and make a nice profit now without ever receiving any funding. But those founders will probably ask themselves if they can keep competing on their own. I don’t believe Europe will have hundreds of different companies offering the same, when it comes to online learning. There will be two or three big parties, and we want to be part of that.” 

Wizenoze had VCs lining up

Image: Wizenoze

Another Amsterdam startup reaping the rewards from a sudden shift to homeschooling is Wizenoze. This edtech startup sifts through online content to only offer students educational gold. According to Wizenoze, COVID-19 got 1,5 billion students stuck at home, all dependent on online information to support their online learning. This meant usage of Wizenoze surged, says co-founder Diane Janknegt: “Due to Corona, we have seen a growth of up to 300 percent in usage with some of our customers.” With growth and a potential market like that, no wonder the startup managed to close a growth-stage funding round of reportedly €4 million

Soon after schools all over the world started to close down, investors also started to see the huge potential of Wizenoze, says Janknegt. “Like most entrepreneurs, we started the lockdown by looking at our cash flow and run rate. With these details in mind, we decided to accelerate the fundraising. In the beginning, it was a bit tough, but a couple of weeks after starting, it turned around. Suddenly, many more investors did understand the potential value of offering educational content through the internet. In the end, our round was hugely oversubscribed.” 

This luxurious position meant Janknegt had something to choose. She says she was able to double their initial ask, pick the best profile of investors and the friendliest terms. Janknegt: “In the end, we created what I call a ‘dream team’ of investors.” With this team and the funding, Janknegt is ready to expand Wizenoze worldwide. “We will focus our international growth on India and the Middle East. Our strategic headquarters are in London, which will remain our key market. And of course, we can also expand in the Benelux. We also experienced a lot of interest from overseas. Several conversations are still ongoing.”

Open Social’s early networking paid off

Image: Open Social

Fundraising during a global pandemic doesn’t have to be a stressful affair. Take Open Social, the startup from Amsterdam that offers everything for companies and organizations to create and maintain online communities. After previous round of crowdfunding, their first round of funding with VCs, €1,25 million, took a bit longer than expected to realize. But founder Taco Potze was never worried. “My advice for other startups is to make early contact with VCs in The Netherlands. They are generally willing to hear your story and have a cup of coffee, especially if you already have a product and clients. This allows you to build your network, and prevents you from fundraising with only a couple of months runway left.” 

That is exactly what Potze did. He started his first meetings in the summer of last year. “We heard that closing a round could take up to 9 months. So we started early, in keeping with the knowledge of ‘don’t ask for money, ask for advice’. This is a nice way to get in contact with VCs and a good way to know which can offer smart money.” After the first meeting at Peak Capital, which ended up as their main investor, Potze participated in a session about growing sales held by the VC. “This made it easier to eventually close the round.” 

After some progress in talking with the investors came COVID-19, shutting the world down. Potze: “This was a huge shock. VCs wanted to know how corona proof your concept is.” Very, would’ve been Potze’s answer. According to the startup COVID-19 had no negative effect and when it comes to growth they are having their best year since starting in 2016. Potze: “Many companies moved their budgets to online and remote working, which works in our advantage. We didn’t lose any customers and added quite some projects.” Potze had some questions for VCs as well. “We really wanted to know how companies in their portfolio were doing and what would be the consequences for their funds.” All in all the funding got delayed for a couple of months, says Potze.

The significant funding allows Open Social to do some serious hiring, especially in the department of sales and marketing, says Potze: “We always bootstrapped, so now we can invest in those areas. This will allow us a stronger foothold in Europe and the US. We also want to expand our support, to process tickets faster.” Potze is looking to double the team of 20 people currently working for the startup. “Now is a good time for vacancies. There are many ambitious people who are laid off, or looking around for something else. Compared to a year ago, we see better candidates.”

This article is produced in a collaboration with StartupAmsterdam. Read more about our partnering opportunities.

The post Fundraising during pandemic? This is how these Amsterdam-based startups pulled it off appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

5 reasons you should keep up with tech job search during the summer holidays

Summer and holidays are synonymous. During this season, it is common for all to get distracted with a lot of celebrations and get-togethers. But it is quite common to keep your job search on the back burner during summer. One reason for the same is the misconception that hiring managers will not be available during this time of the year. However, this isn’t true and it can be a good time of the year to carry out your job search.

Looking forward to working at a tech startup? Check out from hundreds of jobs available right now by clicking here.

Reasons to keep up with your job search during the summer

When it comes to the tech job search, employers will be focused on meeting their business goals irrespective of the time of the year. So, there are some reasons that you shouldn’t put a halt to your tech job search during the summer. And, here we have listed some of these reasons as suggested by experts.

#1 Competition is low

A majority of job seekers could decide to give a break to their job search during the summer for various reasons such as busy schedules or the misconception that companies will not hire during the holidays. Eventually, there will be a plunge in the competition in the number of candidates looking for a job. And, there are increased chances for you to be among the few candidates reaching an employer during the summer, which will increase your possibility to be hired by the employer.

#2 Companies are still hiring

Many job seekers believe that companies give a break to their hiring process during this time of the year. But this is a major misconception. Businesses do not change their halt hiring schedules throughout the year but intensify the same at some point in time. Tech companies that are ambitious to achieve their business goals and reach new heights will not slow down their hiring process. And, these companies could be looking for fresh talent to help them boost their business.

#3 Employee perks during holidays

During summer, when the sun is shining bright, it could be challenging for employees to be productive. To motivate them, employers might provide some attractive employee perks as a token of appreciation of their hard work throughout the year. These include flexible working hours, extended long weekends, weekly refreshment cart, team outings, a relaxation in the dress code, and more.

#4 More networking opportunities

While there are holiday parties, community events, open houses, etc. hosted by employers, there will be a lot of networking opportunities. If you are looking forward to a new job, then you can use these events to network with others and get new contacts. You will be able to exchange business cards and ensure that your name is marked in a subsequent hiring process during the holidays. Given that not many people will be a part of the job during the pandemic season, it will be a great opportunity for aspiring job seekers.

#5 Opportunity to serve seasonal jobs

Seasonal jobs are temporary jobs that recur around the same time each year. Businesses with more customers hire seasonal employees during specific seasons for extra help during the busiest times. During the summer, you can look out for such seasonal jobs by networking, applying early, and considering a slew of options available for you. Having said that, the summertime is ideal to get such seasonal jobs. And, during the same, you will also get chances to make it your permanent job and save for your additional requirements.

Take note of the above, and you’ll be sure to nail the interview, and hopefully land the tech job of your dreams. Oh, and be sure to keep and eye on Silicon Canals’ Jobs, for loads of exciting opportunities.

Stock photo from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

The post 5 reasons you should keep up with tech job search during the summer holidays appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

[Beyond Meat in Market Place] How are plant-based meat companies faring during the pandemic?

The biggest market for companies like Beyond Meat isn’t vegetarians, but meat eaters who Shor calls “flexitarians” — people who eat less meat for health or environmental reasons.

Read more here.

The post [Beyond Meat in Market Place] How are plant-based meat companies faring during the pandemic? appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Flipping a Travel-Related Domain for $15K and Launching CatchService.com During Economic Downturn…

 KickStartCommerce.com: What if I told you that it was possible to purchase a domain prior to COVID for $ 2.5K and flip it 4.5 months in the midst of an abyss of uncertainty for $ 15K, what would you say? 🤨 And what if I told you it was a travel-related domain? 😲  Yeah, I know, shocking right? I had the same jaw-dropping reaction to when I dis…
Domaining.com

Why Entrepreneurs Must Position Their New Businesses to Succeed During and After COVID-19

The prospect of starting a business has never seemed so daunting. The global economy went into freefall following the COVID-19 outbreak, and recovery projections (even on the positive side) set us up for a long road ahead. Social distancing remains common practice, countries have closed borders and introduced harsh quarantines, and nobody can be certain when this will all end, or if we’ll experience the dreaded “second wave.”

For many, this would seem like the absolute worst time to start a business — an economic slump during unstable times. But such is the cruel but giving way fate works, that one person’s loss is often another’s gain.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

COVID-19 isn’t just a loser’s game

Businesses have gone bust and bankruptcies declared, but in the midst of COVID-19, fortunes have also been made. The online video hosting platform Zoom saw the company’s founder, Eric Yuan, increase his net worth by 77 percent to nearly $ 8 billion. And Yuan is far from the only person benefiting commercially from the cultural and economic transformations seen as a result of COVID-19. British online grocery delivery company, Ocado, plans to raise £1 billion in capital to expand its operations after a record-breaking few months for the company.

Businesses around the world have seen explosive growth as they’ve been called upon to solve problems unleashed by the coronavirus.

What startups can learn from COVID-19: Successes and failures

As in any market, success in 2020 is dictated by supply and demand. Those that have won out during this crisis are those that profited off supplies that became essential, such as gym equipment for the home. On the other hand, those that lost did so because their offer became unfavorable or even unusable, such as an actual gym facility.

When we look at the market growth during COVID-19, we see some obvious patterns. Food delivery, social distancing software, online streaming services; these are all niches thriving under COVID-19.

The balance has shifted toward problem solving during a time of strife. The businesses that can provide support during COVID-19 through their products or services are the ones succeeding. But, how does this knowledge develop the catalyst for starting a business during such turbulent times?


Related: 15 Business Leaders Share Their Experiences and Insights on Getting Through COVID-19

But… can you start a business now?

The world is preparing for long-term repercussions of COVID-19, and we’re also prepared for current lifestyle changes, with new products and services introduced as a result of the pandemic likely to carry on post-pandemic. For example, it is anticipated that businesses will maintain their newfound flexible work structures after being forced to develop remote working practices to stay afloat.

So, demand will likely remain shifted toward the way we’ve been living under lockdown and social distancing, but haven’t other businesses already moved in and capitalized on this?

Well, yes and no.

Why was Zoom so popular? It’s not because it was the optimum solution. Zoom is plagued by massive security issues, and it was at the center of controversy for data breaches and acts of “Zoombombing,” in which video calls were hijacked.

It’s not the ultimate tool for what’s in demand right now, but it is a tool that can be incredibly useful. Since there were such limitations on the softwares people were looking for, Zoom demand swiftly gained momentum. While many platforms offer video conferencing, they often require logins or memberships and are built for highly commercial needs. Zoom was accessible to private individuals and small businesses, which helped it thrive.

This is the advantage new startups have on established businesses: they can be built from the ground up to problem solve for the new world we live in.

A lot of the solutions people are using right now are not designed to operate under the new normal but have been adapted to solve a particular problem. Some have done so better than others, but many more have had major issues and struggled to make the adjustment. They’ve only done so well financially because there were no other choices available.

Startups of 2020 have an opportunity to fit into the COVID landscape by being the solution that people need, rather than being their only option during a time of crisis. From tech companies to service providers, there are plenty of gaps left by the coronavirus. Start by evaluating your preferred industries for the common problems that target audience is experiencing, and then solve them.

The added caveat here is that your startup should not just be a solution to a COVID-related problem if you want to succeed long term. Plenty of organizations have started to supply PPE, but demand for this product will not be sustained. Your idea needs to be a COVID-proof business that is viable in its own right.

For example, following COVID-19, dating became difficult for many individuals. Apps and websites attempted to pivot to long-distance systems, but they weren’t really built for this concept. Startups have an opportunity to create a new platform that fits perfectly into the current socially-distanced dating scene, but that app needs to offer enough to be an attractive prospect once social distancing is no longer required.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Key takeaways

There is no denying that COVID-19 is a global tragedy, but there is plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurs to bring creative solutions to market. Entrepreneurs, thought leaders and innovators have an opportunity to capture new opportunities that wouldn’t have been considered viable even as recently as January of this year.

In such times of strife, the following quote by American business success story, Seth Godin, rings true:

“You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make a choice.”

The post Why Entrepreneurs Must Position Their New Businesses to Succeed During and After COVID-19 appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

How are executives and CEOs receiving the mail that is sent to their office for them during the pandemic?

Pre-pandemic I always had a huge success rate getting through to CEOs and executives at startups and other large companies by sending my pitch as a letter through FedEx (in a FedEx envelope) or through priority mail.

The response time was amazing if I sent it through FedEx.

I’m a joint venture broker. I literally was able to land deals with Landry’s, Outback Steakhouse, and several other billion dollar restaurant chains for a deal I was putting together this past winter (Late January up until the pandemic started) doing this.

I’m thinking of trying it now for a new client I’m brokering deals for, but I’m not sure how or if CEOs and executives are still getting their mail.

submitted by /u/thesonofnarcs
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

5 Ways to Cut Business Expenses During COVID-19 to Remain Focused on Long-Term Growth

As entrepreneurs continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, many are focused on increasing sales; however, lowering expenses is equally as important when trying to achieve or maintain profitability. Now is the time to tighten spending and prioritize necessary expenses in order to remain focused on long-term revenue and profit growth. The question is, how exactly do you approach cutting expenses?

The novelty of COVID-19 has encouraged everyone from government agencies and laboratories to families and business owners to reflect and have an action plan in place for such crises; but effective cost-cutting can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs and small business owners, leaving teams overwhelmed with where to start.

Running a small business advisory franchise that helps clients with taxes, payroll, compliance and more, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges today’s small business owners are facing.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

The following tips are meant to help entrepreneurs navigate the uncertain economic climate with simple ways to cut business expenses and allow the opportunity for long-term growth.

Perform an internal self-audit

The best practice is to not just pay attention to expenses around tax season. In fact, tracking expenses year-round can save businesses a lot of money. Perform an internal self-audit to kickstart the cutting process by identifying and ranking items from most essential to non-critical, and run reports on a monthly basis to check in on progress.

This will enable you to analyze your business expenses in plain sight, evaluate expenditures and cross check them against internal priorities to find opportunities to cut costs. You’d be surprised what “unknown” expenses you might come across. I recommend taking a fresh look at expense items that we often take for granted, such as utilities, rent and cost of goods, as well as those that are more obviously controllable, such as payroll, supplies, employee travel, repairs, advertising, etc.

After the self-audit, but before you begin cutting costs, create cash flow projections to identify how much you need to save to survive (let alone thrive) during the current COVID-19 crisis. This will help you make informed decisions so you’re best set up to succeed in the post-pandemic era.


Related: WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Critical and Noncritical Business Expenses

Understand your tax deductions

Businesses incur a lot of necessary expenses in order to stay in business, so it’s important to see what expenses can be used to your advantage in the way of a tax deduction at the end of the year. These deductions vary depending on the industry and must be categorized correctly, but get in the habit of keeping track of all your business expenses, both big and small.

Minimizing your tax bill can be one of the most beneficial ways to improve your business’ bottom line, but this means understanding and maximizing all of your available business deductions to reduce your tax liability. 

Re-determine what’s essential

This item is tricky, as the “traditional” workspace will continue to evolve, but for now, a few examples of expense centers to re-assess as business models evolve in the current and post-pandemic eras might include:

  • Workspace
  • Advertising formats
  • Office equipment and software
  • Recurring orders for office supplies and break room food, etc.

Think to yourself, how can I operate day-to-day functions as lean as possible?

Shop around, but give existing vendors first dibs

Shopping around is the best way to compare vendor prices if you’re reevaluating, but let your existing vendors in on the action. You may find that they provide you with the most competitive price in order to retain your business. If not, you may be surprised at the deals a new vendor will offer for the transfer of business, especially during this competitive economic climate. Remember, everything is negotiable. 


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Implement productivity tools

Business owners tend to overlook time as an expense, but time is money. Is there an activity that can be simplified to free you or a team member up for other important tasks?

Look to maximize efficiency by listing and evaluating what may be inefficient ways of accomplishing the tasks at-hand. There are several online solutions that can automate various small business functions at the fraction of the cost. By automating such tasks, your team can utilize that time to improve business productivity.

While times are tough, entrepreneurs can successfully combat COVID-19 by strategically cutting non-essential costs so they can maintain a strong market presence and prepare for the post-pandemic rebound. This is a great time to review your thoughts and concerns with your tax and business advisor.

The post 5 Ways to Cut Business Expenses During COVID-19 to Remain Focused on Long-Term Growth appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

[NanoLock in ITWeb] Attacks on home routers soar during lockdown

“The scale of this threat is increasing as brute force log-in attempts against routers is on the rise,” says Yoni Kahana, VP of business development at NanoLock Security.

Read more here.

The post [NanoLock in ITWeb] Attacks on home routers soar during lockdown appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

5 Tips for Creating a Customer Communication Strategy During the Pandemic

With companies worldwide striving to return to “business as usual,” experts claim that marketing will be an essential part of recovery. But, as we know, the crisis has and continues to affect some industries far more than others. Businesses deemed “essential” are struggling to meet demand, while 65 percent of retailers have noticed a decrease in revenue since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, when is it appropriate to start marketing to customers again and what should the messaging be?

Considering that experts estimate China is roughly four weeks ahead of Europe and the rest of the world in terms of pandemic recovery, we can look at their business recovery rates and successful strategies for some guidance on what trends to expect and how this might inform our customer communication.

A predicted u-shaped recovery means there will likely be a lingering effect over the coming months before trade returns to normal. During this period, it will be important for businesses to communicate with customers and be mindful of the continuing levels of uncertainty felt by the population.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

To help, we’ve pulled together a few important points to consider when creating your customer communication strategy for getting back to business.

Assure customers of safety measures in place

If your business has a physical presence like a brick-and-mortar store, the first step in your communication strategy needs to be assuring customers that it is safe to return.

Research shows that while 54 percent of men surveyed said they would feel comfortable returning to shops, 58 percent of women said they would not. As such, it is vital to communicate in a clear and effective way the measures your business has taken to ensure a safe environment for customers, members and staff. For example, highlight any additional cleaning measures or capacity restrictions you’re enforcing.

Furthermore, as some businesses may require customers or members to follow new protocols to uphold safety guidelines, these need to be clearly communicated. For instance, a store may have arranged a new collection process for purchased goods or may need to maintain a reduced capacity on premises. By detailing these policies to customers, you can ensure guidelines are maintained and that individuals know what to expect when visiting.


Related: 3 Tips for Restarting Your Business During the Pandemic

Communicate your current offerings and any subsequent changes

For businesses to survive during the pandemic, many have gotten creative. The response has differed in each industry, but to highlight just a few examples, beauty businesses have run online consultations so they can recommend facial kits, bars have opened for take-away drinks and gyms have created online sessions.

Though each response is largely unique to the industry and business itself, businesses must communicate new offerings to consumers. For many businesses, it has made sense to start with limited products and services and then extend these when demand and operations permit.

This offers a great chance to engage with customers, as you can ask them which products and or services they’d like to see reintroduced and enables a softer way to start marketing to customers again.

Create an authentic buzz around reopening

Getting back to business with a bang is top of mind for many entrepreneurs, and to do this successfully, it’s important not just to communicate details of reopening, but to also get customers excited about it!

For this, it really pays to know your target audience. KFC UK recently launched its “we missed you too” campaign, which successfully created a buzz around the brand’s reopening. The tongue-in-cheek video starts by showcasing customer attempts to recreate KFC chicken dishes at home, some more successfully than others. It then goes on to reassure customers that they too have been missed and that KFC will take care of the chicken dishes from now on.

Given that this is a sensitive time, this slightly more fun approach to the campaign could have been very risky. However, following customer surveys, which reported that individuals were tired of sympathetic advertisements, the brand was confident that it would be positively received. So, when you’re planning your back to business strategy and drafting your communication plan, make sure you do so with your target audience in mind.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Consider which communication channels you are using

Hubspot recently reported that 44 percent more emails are currently being sent than before the pandemic began. Clearly businesses are keen to communicate with their customers, but given that many will find themselves in a more competitive situation, you need to ensure that your messages aren’t lost amongst the noise.

For this, your choice of communication channel is vital. While these channels will largely be guided by customer preferences, given the overwhelming number of emails and already relatively low open rates, it is worthwhile to consider SMS. Text messages benefit from an open rate of 95 percent, and the average user response time is just 90 seconds, meaning the reach and speed far surpasses that of other communication channels.

So, particularly when you first start communicating with customers post COVID-19, utilizing SMS could help ensure important messages are received and read, as opposed to being lost amongst a sea of other brand’s emails.

Don’t over communicate

This is one point that always bears repeating: though it is essential that you keep communicating with your customer base, a recent study reported that 51 percent of consumers felt brands were over-communicating with them during this time.

To avoid making customers feel overwhelmed, consider prioritizing content and audience segmentation, even more so than usual. By creating content specifically for different segments of your audience and sending only to those it will be most relevant to, you avoid individuals receiving information overload that will not add value.

Ultimately, your communication plan should support your business strategy and abide by the principles of right message, right channel, right time. After all, customer retention is key to business success.

The post 5 Tips for Creating a Customer Communication Strategy During the Pandemic appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

How Startups Can Leverage SEO on a Budget During an Economic Downturn

One of the fondest memories of my career path began with watching ABC’s “The Bachelor” with my wife. I remember when contestant Andy Baldwin was named the next Bachelor. When I looked him up, I surprisingly found little information about him. That night, I spent two or three hours cataloging anything I could find about the upcoming bachelor: information, pictures, bio… I even made a fan site. Those few hours I spent dabbling in what I knew about SEO so far went on to outrank Andy Baldwin’s own site.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Its goal is to help businesses show up higher on Google for words that they can monetize, but without paying for ads.

Entrepreneurs often look at SEO as a “smoke and mirrors” process, with little to no understanding of time and expectations. As a 13-year veteran in this industry, I hope to educate my clients on the processes behind SEO, as well as its value.

Why SEO is an important part of any long-term marketing plan

As Google and other search engines constantly update their search algorithms, some businesses often question if SEO is a necessary marketing strategy. To the naysayers, I will tell you it will always be an important part of your marketing plan.


Related: 5 E-Commerce SEO Best Practices to Boost Store Traffic

SEO has two advantages:

  • It can indirectly help your other sales channels. For example, through the process of optimizing your website, you make sure it’s mobile-friendly and that it loads quickly. Those two things help increase ad relevance and decrease costs-per-click.
  • SEO is a solid safety net providing consistent sales and leads at any given moment, especially in tough economic times.

If you have good online visibility because of SEO, you’re doing well. You don’t have to increase ad spend to get sales, nor do you have to decrease your budget to stay afloat.

SEO tips for new marketers

Novice entrepreneurs and young startups should know that SEO isn’t about stuffing your content with repetitive keywords like it was a decade ago. In fact, taking that approach can do more harm than good.

Take advantage of some free tools, starting with the speed of your page. Customers aren’t fans of slow-loading websites, and neither is Google. I recommend utilizing a free page-speed checker tool like GTmetrix.com. It will tell you exactly what you can improve to make your site load quicker.

When it comes to creating website content, you want to answer customer questions and showcase your knowledge. Google wants to return the best results, and the more authoritative ones make the search engine look good. The more that you show Google that you are an expert at what you do or what you offer, the more Google is going to show your website higher in the rankings.

Not sure where to start? AnswerThePublic.com is another free resource. When you type in a word, the site will reply with the “who, what, when, where and why” of that specific word. These are the questions that your customers are already asking search engines, perfectly manicured for you.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

A free marketing strategy you can apply to your own industry

One of the most effective marketing strategies that I’ve implemented is what I call “giving away the farm,” where I give away free SEO advice nearly daily on social media.

The more that you can showcase your expertise, the more people trust you, and this helps you build your audience. People want to buy from someone they trust. Customers may pay a company, but they buy from you, a person. While you may be hesitant to continually give away free advice, it is to your benefit.

In doing so, you’re building trust with a potential future customer. Maybe they don’t buy from you now, but there’s a good chance they buy from you later. Or perhaps they know somebody who does need to buy from you now, and they refer them to you.

Here’s my final advice: be patient, because planting seeds and growing your network takes time. Continue building your expertise, be patient, and you’ll see more consistent results in the long run. Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and don’t cut corners.

The post How Startups Can Leverage SEO on a Budget During an Economic Downturn appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation