Top 5 SEO Conference Keynote Talks

January 2019 Update

If you’re looking to grow your organic reach, there is no better way to start than thinking about your SEO strategy. Since the whole internet revolves around a simple search from Google, where the user has the intent to find something, understanding the Google algorithm and having an SEO strategy in place to help rank in the top 3 can be a good way to increase your SEO organic traffic.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, when it comes to SEO everyone has to play by the same rules and thus you are all on the same playing field. With this in mind it can actually be fairly easy in some cases to rank for long tail niche keywords that your competitors might not think about. There are lots of SEO tools to help determine what keywords to rank for.

If you want to rank on Google or any of the other search engines such as BING or Yahoo, follow the steps in these Top 5 SEO talks to get a better understanding of what’s required to improve your SEO rankings.

Let us know which SEO talk is your favourite.

You can also ask us to hunt down your favourite SEO conference to add to the 99starts platform! Simply make the recommendation here.


Talk 1 – The 10 Hacks for SEO to Drive Content Success

mathew barby

Let’s face it; any investment in content marketing demands a boost in organic search traffic. But SEO continues to be the dirty work that nobody wants to do. This session will teach you how to change all that, and instantly remove the SUCK out of SEO that bogs us all down, with a few hacks that make-it-easy and transform your content into a traffic driving machine. You’ll learn 10 things about SEO that get you on the fast track for success. And yes, SEO can be fun if you master the art and science with these new hacks that accomplish in minutes what used to take days or weeks.

Featured at Content Marketing Conference


Matthew Barby is the Director of Acquisition Marketing at HubSpot , a NYSE listed SaaS business operating in several locations around the world. Alongside this, I’m an advisor to a number of startups and large SaaS businesses, an investor, lecturer, and global speaker. Also the co-host of The Decrypting Crypto Podcast.

Watch this talk now


Talk 2 – SEO in 2018 with Rand Fishkin

rand fishkin seo

What lies ahead for SEO? The Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin will share his insights on key trends for 2018 and beyond.

Featured at Web Summit Conference


Rand Fishkin

In 2004, I co-founded the SEO software company, Moz, where I served as CEO until 2014. In 2018, I left and founded SparkToro, a software and data company focused on helping people understand how and where to reach their target audiences. I’m also the author of Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World (2018) and a frequent keynote speaker on marketing and entrepreneurship topics around the world. In my spare time, I mostly like to hang out with my wife, Geraldine, and eat pasta.

Watch this Talk now


Talk 3 – Combine Paid & SEO Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

Arnie Kuenn

The customer journey has totally changed – forever. According to CMI, it takes between 7-13 touches to deliver a qualified sales lead. Customers now use mobile devices to research potential business partners before buying a product or service. They check your business’s website, read reviews, conduct several searches and check social media posts. You must implement both paid and SEO strategies to make your brand visible at the right moment of the journey.

Are you focusing equally on paid and organic search in your marketing efforts? You should be. If not, you are missing out on serious revenue potential by not allowing paid and organic to work together.

In this session you will learn:

— How the search results are changing
— How paid media is changing
— Why it’s not SEO vs. Paid
— How to grow your own audience
— Real world case studies

There is no war – there is only search. Discover how to leverage both paid and organic to grow exponentially.

Featured at Content Marketing Conference


Arnie Kuenn is the CEO of Vertical Measures which is a digital marketing agency in Phoenix, Arizona. He is an SEO expert who has in depth knowledge about making paid and organic work together for better results for companies. He handles vertical markets for different industries to support their marketing and advertising needs.

One of Our favourite quotes from the talk:

 “It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B, B2C, whatever it is 93% of the time, before any of us go to buy anything, we turn to a search engine.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 4 – Site Speed for Digital Marketers

mat clayton

We all know that site speed matters not only for users but also for search rankings. As marketers, how can we measure and improve the impact of site speed? Mat will cover a range of topics and tools, from the basic quick wins to some of the more surprising and cutting-edge techniques used by the largest websites in the world.

Why does site speed matter?

Well, for one thing, site speed matters because Google says so. They first said that speed affects rankings in 2010, and they confirmed it once again this year.

Site speed also affects conversion. As Mat eloquently puts it, people don’t exactly decide to buy something after making them wait so long for a page to load.

A faster site would also mean Google bots can crawl more pages. And, overall, it just gives your users an overall better experience.

Featured at Search Love


Mat Clayton is the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at Mixcloud.

Mat is an engineer by heart, which explains why he sees the importance in bridging the gap between people in engineering and people in digital marketing. And one of the areas where these two groups overlap is site speed.

Learning Objectives

After watching this video, you should be able to:

  • Know what factors affect site speed
  • Pinpoint specific elements that could be dragging down your speed

 One of Our favourite quotes from the talk:

“It might not be your job. But hopefully you have a bit more of a conversation with developers about how you want to order things, how you want to prioritize speed in your roadmap and what you guys can do to help them.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 5 – Smarter Reporting with Data Studio

brandy lawson

Leave the energy-wasting agony of useless, ignored reports behind. Learn how to use Google Data Studio to create reports that take less time, contain more insights, and bring the dream of data-driven decisions into reality. Using auto-updating dashboard-style reports, transform your reporting time from data-thrashing to exploring insights and highlighting the actual return of SEO activities to the business.

Featured at Search Love


Brandy Lawson is the founder of FieryFX, a boutique agency that helps influential women leaders ignite their businesses online.

Learning Objectives

After watching the video, you should be able to:

  • Create more engaging and interactive reports using Data Studio
  • Present reports in a way that clients understand
  • Cut down the usual time it takes to complete reports

One of Our favourite quotes from the talk:

“There can be a difference in perception of value and understanding of the terminology. The stuff that we understand and value is not necessarily what the client understands and values. And it can be difficult to quantify in the beginning, to evaluate and measure for the person till the phone starts ringing.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!

Top 5 Keynote Talks for SaaS Start-ups and Scale-ups

*January 2019 Edition*

Looking to start a SaaS business or thinking about scaling your existing one?

There is so much to learn about building a SaaS start-up from product market fit to learning to scale. It doesn’t matter whether you are B2C or B2B there are going to be a number of things you need to learn to get the SaaS business model right.

Done it before… well you got a head start then but you probably haven’t achieved what some of these guys and girls have achieved in their SaaS businesses.

Below is our current top 5 list of must watch keynote talks from SaaS Founders and executives that are leading the SaaS revolution!

Let us know which SaaS talk is your favourite!

You can also ask us to hunt down your favourite SaaS conference to add to the 99starts platform! Simply make the recommendation here.

Talk 1 – What does it take to go global as a B2B SaaS start-up?

global saas company


A panel of global businesses talk about scaling, the issues and troubles that a company will typically experience and how you can prepare yourself for failure before it happens.

For most industries, the local or national market is relatively small. It doesn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that a lot of businesses explore the idea of going global much earlier than in any other country. But this endeavor doesn’t prove to be easy. Technology may be offering a number of business solutions that make globalization possible, but operations-wise, there is a lot left to explore.

Featured at B2B Rocks Conference.


  • Mac Wang – Head of ANZ @ Stripe (Moderator)
  • Dai Williams – SVP  Global Partnerships @ SiteMinder
  • Krish Subramanian – Founder and CEO @ ChargeBee
  • Amanda Cornish – Head of Product Payments @ Xero
  • Remi Roques – Managing Director @ Ayuda Media System

Learning Objectives

After watching this video, you should be able to:

  • Know whether it’s time for a business to go global
  • Know what regions and countries to target next
  • Understand the most common challenges that come with globalization

One of Our favourite quotes from the talk:

“If you build a company culture that promotes diversity and inclusion from day one, then when you go into new markets and you see new cultures, new ideas, new people, your people are already geared up to be able to deal with some of those challenges and to accept and actually embrace some of the differences.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 2 – Marketing a SaaS Business for Explosive Growth

explosive growth marketing saas

Not all industries are created equal. Some have low barriers of entry, some are very niche, and some are just starting up. They’re different. They don’t all follow the same rules. These executives talk about the unique challenges and opportunities in growing a SaaS company. You’ll learn: Why growth is different for SaaS businesses, what tactics should be in your SaaS marketing playbook and which metrics SaaS marketers really care about in B2B & B2C.

Featured at Growth Marketing Conference


The panelists head the growth and marketing teams in their respective organizations, allowing them to give relevant insights on how to market a SaaS company towards explosive growth. The panel members are:

  • Ali Tajsekandar – CEO and Founder @ Wishpond
  • Juney Ham – Entrepreneur in residence @ Atomic |  CMO @ Hired
  • Jessica Meher – VP for Marketing @ InVision

The talk is moderated by Conrad Wadowski – CEO and Founder @ OPS.TV

Learning Objectives

After watching this video, you should be able to:

  • Find out how SaaS businesses that have been in the market for some time grow their businesses
  • Find out what tools other SaaS businesses use
  • Have an idea on the structure that other SaaS organizations have
  • See how other SaaS businesses hire the right people for growth
  • Understand other strategies that other SaaS businesses have that contribute to their growth

One of our favourite quotes from the talk:

“What we focus on is creating things that are remarkable and going to get talked about and going to be loved by our user base. And that strategy so far has worked for us, focusing on keeping your users happy using the product, making them fans and champions.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 3 – How to Reuse Recycle and Repurpose Your Content for SaaS Businesses

content marketing saas

When it comes to content, it should always be quality over quantity. This is why it is sometimes better to repurpose old content instead of creating new ones frequently.

In repurposing content, you have to think about a few relevant factors:

  • Users complaining about too much content that they don’t have time to go through everything
  • In-house marketers struggling to create new content because the industry they’re part of is boring
  • Agencies who have no budget, no real ROI, and no way to measure results
  • CEOs who do not want their stories to be featured in any content about their own brands

Sounds familiar? Although these factors make the process more challenging, Ashley uses Bufffer as the perfect example on how you can reach your goals while going through these hurdles.

Featured at SearchLove Conference


Ashley Ward – Digital Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Evangelist @ SEMrush

Learning Objectives

After watching the video, you should be able to:

  • Understand how the Buffer experiment can be applied to your own setup
  • Know what rules to follow in repurposing content
  • Know what the difference is between recycling and republishing content
  • Measure your own results to see which actions are working
  • Use the right tools in measuring the different KPIs

One of our favourite quotes from the talk:

“When it comes to content, we want to create less content and promote what we already have. It’s quality versus quantity. Sure, we can pump out tons of content. But if none of it is quality, it doesn’t really mean anything for our users or for our brands.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 4 – The Ultimate B2B Growth Marketing Stack for a SaaS Company

growth marketing stack saas

You’re short on time. We all are. So when it comes to turning leads into conversions at scale, you need a few shortcuts – a strong, reliable stack that does much of the work for you. And Dan McGaw has one so good he also didn’t want to share it but he is in this talk. Discover how Dan’s analytics-first stack drove record-breaking growth numbers for Frame, Real Thread, Pair, Effin Amazing, and more.

Featured at Growth Marketing Conference


 Dan McGaw is the CEO of Effin Amazing, an analytics and growth consultancy firm that helps companies get their analytics in order, and assists in marketing, automation, operations and then conversion rate optimization. His field of expertise has exposed him to different tools and he shares his growth stack to help others build their own. He has been a digital marketer since 1998 and spent most of his life on analytics.

Learning Objectives:

  • How to choose the right tools
  • The five tools that are highly recommended
  • Growth in the martech space

One of our favourite quotes from the talk:

“Now, what you want to understand is that when you go on the market and look for tools, you choose tools based upon their ability to be integrated with other things. If you go shopping for a tool and it is on its own silo and it cannot be integrated very easily, don’t choose the tool.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!


Talk 5 – Founder’s Feedbacks for B2B SaaS Start-ups

Founders feedback saas

Listen to a panel of Founders share their ideas and experience to help B2B start-ups and growing businesses.

Featured at B2B Rocks Conference

Note: This talk is perfect for those that are thinking about starting a SaaS business but haven’t started yet or are still in ideation stage.


Ben Brophy, CEO and co-founder of Upwire, plays the role of moderator as the panel discusses B2B startups from the point of view of founders. The members of the panel are:

  • Alan Crabbe, Co-Founder of Birchal
  • Danielle Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder of Scrunch
  • Monica Wulff, Co-Founder and Director of Startup Muster
  • Jessica Ruhfus, CEO and Founder of Collabosaurus

Learning Objectives

After watching the video, you should be able to:

  • See the different reasons founders had that prompted them to start their companies
  • Know the pros and cons of being a solo founder versus a co-founder
  • Understand the intricacies that come with raising capital for a startup business
  • Learn from the startup journey that other founders have gone through or are going through

One of our favourite quotes from the talk:

“I have seen a lot of startups and a lot of failure is that you’ve gone in and smacked your head against the wall going, ‘Actually we know better than the market, this is going to work. This is going to work.’ When it doesn’t.”

Watch this talk or read the 7 minute summary!

Reuse, Recycle: How to Re-purpose Your Content and Make the Big Bucks

Ashley Ward from SEMrush talks us through the Buffer content experiment where they refrained from creating new content for four weeks and focused on reusing and recycling existing content, thus republishing content. Understand the reasons why they reused content, what steps they took and finally what the result was and if you should recycle your content too.

To watch the talk in full about republishing content, click the link.

Learning Outcomes

After watching the video, you should be able to:

  • Understand how the Buffer experiment can be applied to your own setup
  • Know what rules to follow in repurposing content
  • Know what the difference is between recycling and republishing content
  • Measure your own results to see which actions are working
  • Use the right tools in measuring the different KPIs


When it comes to content, it should always be quality over quantity. This is why it is sometimes better to repurpose old content instead of creating new ones frequently.

In repurposing content, you have to think about a few relevant factors:

  • Users complaining about too much content that they don’t have time to go through everything
  • In-house marketers struggling to create new content because the industry they’re part of is boring
  • Agencies who have no budget, no real ROI, and no way to measure results
  • CEOs who do no want their stories to be featured in any content about their own brands

Sounds familiar? Although these factors make the process more challenging, Ashley uses Bufffer as the perfect example on how you can reach your goals while going through these hurdles.

The Buffer Experiment

Buffer is a social media management platform known for creating amazing relevant content.
They decided to do an experiment that required them to:

  1. Refrain from creating new content for 4 entire weeks
  2. Repurpose evergreen content into ebooks and SlideShares
  3. Update old blog posts into audio and graphics

Before getting started, Buffer did a thorough content audit. The audit took a long time to complete, but from there, they were able to list down 10 pieces of content that they can use. They decided to divide the content and repurpose certain pieces at certain weeks in their 4-week experiment.

The Results

After the 4th week, blog traffic went down, as expected. However, the decline was not as significant as expected.
These are the results of the experiment:

  • Blog traffic went down by only 4%
  • Average new sessions increased by 1.15%
  • Organic traffic went up
  • Referral traffic from SlideShare went up from 50 to 90
  • Overall site reviews increased by 380%
  • 2,300 ebook downloads
  • A new email drip campaign
  • Maintained a less than 5% drop and unique visits

Overall, these are amazing results considering that there was no new content created in 4 weeks.

Republishing vs Recycling

Before repurposing your content, you first have to understand what the difference is between republishing and recycling.
Republishing means using old content and updating it. You could update some old stats, add some fresh graphics, redistribute it, etc.

Recycling means getting that old content or topic and turning it into brand new content in a different form. You can turn it into a podcast, or maybe, a video.

The Rules of Re-purposing Content

To apply the same effects that the Buffer experiment produce on your own brand, these rules have to be followed:

1. Don’t republish all of your content.
Buffer chose 10 pieces of content to repurpose. You can do the same, or you can choose 5, or maybe 20.

2. Wait for two weeks before republishing content.
Before repurposing content, make sure Google has had time to index, check, and get a feel for the original content. This usually takes at least 2 weeks.

3. Don’t change the url.
Changing the url would mean having to do heavy maintenance, like changing links leading to the old url, fixing old social media posts, etc. Just avoid doing it if you want to avoid the work that goes with it.

With these rules in mind, you can now start repurposing content.

Applying the Buffer Experiment to Your Own Content

Here are the steps you can follow to effectively repurpose your content:

1. Define your content goals.
Make your content goals specific. Buffer, for example, set their goals to 50 new post likes, 25,000 video views, 10,000 ebook downloads, etc. Take note that different content goals and content types produce different results. If you want customer education, for example, training courses would be a great way to deliver old content.
2. Audit your content.
Auditing your content shows you your most popular pieces of content, what topics your audience wants to hear about, and what kind of content works best. It will show you which authors draw in the most audiences, too.
Once you start auditing your content, make sure you update your data weekly.
3. Create a “Gem List”.
Create a list of content that you want to repurpose. Some of these can be recycled, while some can be republished. When it comes to recycling, you can choose content that come with a lot of data, like listicles. Data is always easy to update. When it comes to republishing, you can choose how-to’s and turn the old text format into an infographic, or perhaps, a video.
4. Distribute the content.
Without the right distribute strategy, your content will just sit in the cyber world all alone. The way content is distributed can make or break the content’s effectiveness.

When it comes to content distribution, you can go through three routes:

  • Paid – social ads, native display advertising, retargeting funnels, paid influencers
  • Earned – SEO, reviews, shares, mentions
  • Owned – website, blog, social media, YouTube

Although Buffer waited for 4 weeks before checking their results, remember that your case may be different. Study you content audit to figure out how long it takes for your content to really get traction. From there, you can see how long your ideal timeline should be.

Measuring Your Results

Once you’ve re-purposed your content, it’s time to measure the results. This would allow you to see what tactics worked, and which ones didn’t.

Defining your key metrics proves to be the most important part of measuring your results.

Different content types may require different key metrics. Website traffic, for example, may be a relevant factor for blog posts, but it may not be important for your podcast.

Key metrics include:

User behaviour

  • Page views
  • Unique visitors
  • Pages per session
  • New and returning users
  • Average time on page
  • Page depth
  • Bounce rate
  • Traffic sources

Tools you can use to track user behaviour are:

  • SEMrush reports
  • Google Analytics
  • SimpleReach
  • Chartbeat


  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Mentions
  • Incoming requests
  • Republications

Tools you can use to track engagement are:

  • Social media platform analytics
  • SEMrush social media tracker
  • Mention
  • Brand24

SEO outcome

  • Organic traffic
  • Dwell time
  • Backlinks
  • Keyword rankings

Tools you can use to track SEO outcome are:

  • Google Webmaster tools
  • SEMrush On Page SEO Tracker
  • SEMrush Domain Analytics
  • Google Trends
  • Majestic

As for B2B marketers, they say that sales lead quality proves to be the most important metric, even more important than sales and conversions.

Company revenue would be something to look at if you’re in the B2B market. This includes:

  • Existing leads touched
  • New leads generated
  • ROI
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Conversion rate

To track these, you can:

  • Track returning users on Google Analytics
  • Check CRM for new and existing leads
  • Compute for the conversion rate

Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways from Ashley’s presentation:

  • Don’t be afraid to update your old content. Be more scared of leaving old stats in circulation – this could your or your client’s brand look outdated.
  • Turn text into video and audio. This is the content of the future.
  • Put your content on SlideShare and Quora. SlideShare generates a lot of traffic, while Quora allows you to connect with your audiences.
  • Turn old blog posts into ebooks. You can give them away to increase leads. If your client thinks giving something away for free can damage their reputation, you can charge $4.95 for it and get some reviews on Amazon.
  • Think mobile-first. Mobile devices will reach 79% in global internet use by the end of 2018. This means that you’re missing out big time if you haven’t jumped in on the mobile trend just yet. In creating mobile-friendly content, make sure everything is responsive in terms of text size and image size. Keep load speeds to 2 seconds or less.


Page views – the number of users visiting a specific page
Unique visitors – distinct individuals visiting pages in a website within a given time period regardless of how often they visit
Pages per session – the average number of pages viewed in a website within a single session
New users – first-time users
Returning users – users who have been on the site before
Average time on page – average duration between the point when users land on the page and when they leave the page
Page depth – the average number of pages users view in a single session
Bounce rate – the percentage of users who leave the site after visiting a single page
Traffic sources – different sources that send traffic to a website
Mentions – instances when the brand or username is referenced or mentioned online
Republications – instances when your content is shared or republished somewhere else
Organic traffic – visits to a page or site coming from search engines; traffic coming from unpaid sources
Dwell time – the length of time a user spends on a page
Backlinks – incoming links into a page
Keyword rankings – how a site ranks on search engines based on the chosen keyword
Cost per acquisition – measures the cost to acquire a single paying customer on a campaign or channel level
Conversion rate – percentage of users who complete a desired action


Google Analytics
Google Webmaster tools
Google Trends
Content audit template

To watch the talk in full about republishing content, click the link.


  1. What goals are you hoping to achieve in repurposing your content?
  2. Looking at your existing content, can you name two or three that can be considered good candidates for republishing? What about content that can be recycled and turned into other content formats?
  3. Looking at your current campaigns, do you have paid, earned, and owned distribution channels? If one is missing, what tactics can you use to start taking advantage of that area?
  4. What key metrics are you currently measuring? What metrics are not part of your current process but should be?
  5. How mobile-friendly is your content? What shortcomings do you think you have in terms of producing mobile-centric content?

How Marketers Can Incite Hunger Rather Than Just Serving Food

In this talk summary, we look at the keynote talk Rand Fishkin gave at a recent SearchLove Conference as he breaks down the importance of SEO and the fact we should focus on the demand it can bring and not just the rankings that result from good SEO.

Learning Objectives

After watching this video, you should be able to:

  • Understand why there is a bigger need for demand creation instead of just going for higher SERP ranking
  • Go for branded search terms instead of just individual generic queries
  • Create a demand not only within the SERPs, but outside of it as well

You can watch the full talk by Rand Fishkin about SEO Demand here.



Rand Fishkin is one of the co-founders of Moz. He is now with a new marketing technology company he founded, SparkToro.

For anyone in the field of SEO, reaching the top position in SERPs is the ultimate goal. But the ideal SEO scenario does not always happen. Oftentimes, SEO people mock companies for getting the concept of SEO wrong. But looking at Etsy’s track record could make you think twice about your judgment.

As a result to Google’s update in early March, Etsy lost 24% of their usual page one results a mere one day after the update. SEO people were shocked at the size of the loss, but for the rest of the world, that didn’t matter. That’s because Etsy was still experiencing incredible growth, especially in terms of stock market prices.

What’s the point here?
Basically, there are two paths that we can take – rank better in searches, or create more searches.
You would have to realize that SEO should not be limited to individual queries that are already there. Otherwise, you’d be wasting time tracking keywords like custom jewelry, vintage toys and handmade goods, Etsy’s main referring keywords. You’ll be left scratching your head in wonder why they’re still doing so well. Rand Fishkin recalls how he used to lose sleep over Moz’s rankings. But maybe what he should have been sweating about was focusing on Moz’s brand.
At the end of the day, it should be about how you’re creating the demand. The ultimate goal should be about branded search terms. After all, if it’s a specific query, Google has no other choice but to give answers to the navigational intent. And when you create the right kind of demand, the results would point to you.

How to Grow Demand Directly Through SEO

So how do you create the kind of demand that puts you in the spotlight?

  1. Search suggest
  2. Related searches
  3. People also search
  4. Rank, solve a query, earn loyalty

These would be the most obvious steps. However, the real focus should be on growing demand outside of SERPs.

How to Grow Demand Outside the SERPs

Here’s a clear roadmap on creating demand:

  • Associate your brand with a problem, need, or experience
  • Create an awareness for this problem, need or experience
  • Amplify the problem, need or experience
  • Increase brand visibility to the right people at the right time and place
  • Go for simple, repeated messaging that ties a need to your brand

Rand shared a Reddit post that excellently describes the scenario.

The Redditor was complaining that he was always seeing ads for cars, but he hates driving and takes public transport, so he has no intention of buying a car. He always sees ads for women’s products, but because he is a man, he doubts that he’ll ever buy any of those women’s products he sees. He proceeds to ask why companies are wasting money advertising to him, when he will never have any real need for any of these products.

Another user answered this beautifully.
He told the Redditor that in 10 years, he may decide to get a job outside the city, in which case, he’ll think of buying a car. He may be out with his girlfriend one day, and when his girlfriend starts talking about her hair, he may vaguely recall about a product he came across with that would work perfectly for her.
The work isn’t about the short term. That’s just a small portion of it. What brands should be focusing on would be long –term sale attribution. It’s about planting a seed that would eventually trigger a recall in the consumer’s mind. It’s about reinforcing branding.

How do you reinforce branding?
A brand is a promise. So when someone sees Brand X, it equates to Y attributes.
A brand should also be a memory trigger. So when someone experiences Problem Z, it should trigger a memory that Brand X is the potential solution.

Knowing these, you should also realize that brand marketing is similar to sending a coded message. This message should:

  • Remind people that the brand exists
  • Reinforce anything associated with the brand – shapes, colors, sounds, emotions
  • Send a nudge when the right time to use the brand arises

Everything should be used to reinforce the message subtly. Tweets, emails, landing pages, visuals, ads – all of these should be aligned with the brand promise.

Pro Tips in Demand Creation

Here are a few pro tips that could help in demand creation

1. Stop being so scared of controversy.

Penzeys Spices, after Trump’s win, released a statement about the Republican Party’s “open embrace of racism”. Traditionally, people would be shocked to see a consumer business go against a portion of the people who could potentially buy their products.

But after this move, they only lost 3% of their customers and gained a 59.9% increase in online sales.

2. Stop being so literal with language.

Before, people didn’t really care much for kale, quinoa, or blueberries. But when someone introduced the term “superfoods”, all of a sudden, they were all the rage.
People didn’t even care that there were studies published proving that there was no scientific evidence backing up the claims of superfoods enthusiasts. As it turns out, “naming” something can make things happen.

3. Let the product market itself.

InVision is a prototyping tool that designers use. What makes InVision great is the fact that it is not just easily shareable, it was also designed in a way that it requires the user to share the designs they make.
Now, that’s a great marketing tactic! It allows the product to market itself the moment a designer shares the prototype via the tool itself instead of sending soft copies through email.

4. Leverage customer affinities.

Rachel Yang has a restaurant in Seattle called Jewel. And when you look at the menu, you’ll see that some of the dishes listed there have a small icon that indicates they are part of Rachel’s cookbook. This is a great move, knowing that people who like eating at her restaurant would also be more likely to buy the cookbook.

5. Help your customers advocate for you.

One funny story is from a testimonial from someone who got a mattress from Leesa. The customer shares that he almost died because the mattress was so comfortable, he slept right through a fire in his building.

6. Align influencers’ motivations with your own.

When Rand left Moz, he published a blog about his Executive Admin, Nicci Heron, and how she has helped him through the years. After this, a group called Office Ninjas reached out to him and said that they would love to award Nicci with an award that they exclusively give out to Executive Admins.

Office Ninja may be a tiny organization, but they’re quickly growing because of steps like these.

Rand finishes off with one final thought – that all these should be done so that the SEO people do not just get the blame when they don’t reach number 1, but also get credit when the big numbers come in.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization; the process of improving organic traffic into a website to increase ranking on search result pages
SERP – Search Engine Results Page; a list of responses to a query launched in a search engine
Grey hat SEO – the practice of using SEO methods that may be technically acceptable, but ethically questionable
White hat SEO – the practice of using SEO methods that focus on the needs of the human audience

Resources Mentioned
Google Trends


  1. List down your current SEO tactics. Would you say that you’re more focused on ranking higher, or on creating more demand?
  2. What actionable steps can you take to increase demand for you brand, products and/or services outside the SERPs?

SurveyMonkey 20 year startup story

Ryan Finley and Chris Finley – brothers – founded Survey Monkey in 1999 – an online survey company which provides free and customizable surveys for both individual users and companies.

Ryan got the inspiration for the company when he worked at a music production company. He wanted to get feedback from his customers and realized that there is a gap in the market for such a tool.

The company was moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Portland in 2005, after the eventual growth and success.

2005-2008 showed consistent and continued success by the company, also enjoying the first mover advantage being one of the very first surveys based SAAS companies.

In 2008 the company evolved into a data platform from merely being a survey tool.

After making a solid presence in the market as an established service, Ryan sold the company to a private equity firm while staying as an employee of the company.

Dave Goldberg, the former Head of Yahoo! Music joined the company in April 2009. This happened after a funding even which raised an undisclosed amount. The investors included Bain Capital Ventures and Spectrum Equity.

The first acquisition by the company was Precision Polling – a market research company which offered automated phone surveys and polls that mostly assisted political campaigns and non-profit organizations which raised funds.

In November 2010, the company raised $100 million in debt financing to help with their future acquisitions and expansions. The company used that they would be using the new funds to pay off some of their existing debt as well.

Infinity Box/Wufoo became their next acquisition – a lead generation focused web app which creates online forms.

In December 2011, the company acquired Market Tools an enterprise software company that provided consumer insights.

Another funding round happened in January 2013, raising the company $800 million from Private Equity and Debt financing.

This is known to be one of the largest fund amounts raised by an internet company that is privately held.

At the time the company boasted some of the largest companies in the world in their portfolio including Facebook, Audi, and Samsung.

In November 2013, the company launched their first enterprise product. Until this launch, even the largest clients of the company had regular individual accounts.

With SurveyMonkey Enterprise, companies can have multiple users accessing the same account, and the payment can be done for all the users in a single bill.

2014 was a special year for the company, with the launch of its Mobile App and Developer Tools. The app was only for iOS users, and they announced that an Android app is “in the works”.

According to Goldberg, the company has over 15 million free users and many paying users who will both benefit from the convenience of a mobile app.

In May 2014 the company announced that they are in the process of expanding to Asia since it has the potential of being one of the biggest markets for the company.

Fluidware – an enterprise software company specializing in web-based apps – became a part of SurveyMonkey in August 2014.

Another Private Equity funding round happened in December 2014, raising the company $250 million in funds. This funding round raised the company valuation up to $2 billion.

SurveyMonkey faced a shocking situation when CEO Dave Goldberg passed away unexpectedly in a gym accident in May 2015.

Zander Laurie, a Senior VP of GoPro came on board as a temporary Chairman of the company to take the responsibilities during the transition to find a new CEO. He also served in his position at GoPro during the period of 3 months he held this position.

In July 2015, Sheryl Sandberg, the wife of late Dave Goldberg and COO of Facebook joined the board of Survey Monkey.

Bill Veghte, a former high-level HP executive took over the role of CEO in the company in early August of 2015.

SurveyMonkey acquired TechValidate Software – a web-based marketing content automation platform.

After a few months of service, Bill Veghte had a falling out with the investors and left the company.

Zander Laurie came on board as the CEO – who was already a board member of the company since 2009 and served as the interim CEO after the death of Dave Goldberg.

In March 2016, the company announced that they are laying off 100 employees in order to course correct the company.

The company expanded its services to Mobile App Insights in April 2016. This service included over 1000 apps, the nature of their users, how and how much.

The new service which was called SurveyMonkey Intelligence was predicted to be a game changer for the market.

In July 2017 it was announced that the renowned Tennis player Serena Williams is joining the board of SurveyMonkey. By August 2018, the company announced that 50% of the board consists of women, which was an amazing progressive step in the present climate.

The company went public by filing for NASDAQ IPO in August 2018.

Warby Parker Founders Startup Story

Founded on 2010 by Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider; Warby Parker is a lifestyle brand for prescription glasses and sunglasses.

The trade name of the company – Warby Parker – was inspired by two fictional characters from a journal by the popular author Jack Kerouac. The corporate name of the company is JAND Inc. (the initials of the founders).

The inception of the company happened at the Wharton School of University of Pensylvania – the alma mater of all the founders – in one of their Venture Initiation programs.

The company got an early strong media endorsement through, adding more credibility to the brand and giving them an early audience.

In their Seed funding round that happened in June 2011, the company managed to raise $1.5 million from 9 investors including SV Angel and First Round Capital.

From the beginning of their venture, the company kept the prices of their quality eyewear less than $100, which is a significantly low price from good quality and popular eyewear brands in the market.

They managed to keep the price low due to not paying licensing fees and directly selling to the customers rather than working with eyewear retailers.

Before Warby Parker, Blumenthal worked in a non-profit that helped low-income women to sell affordable eyewear. He leveraged the connections he has made during that period to source retro style frames sold in Warby Parker from China.

The company also launched a charity program “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” which matched all the purchases made in the website by donating a pair of eyewear for people in need.

This program met with enthusiasm and support by many people, boosting the sales of the company while helping people in need as well.

The “hipster” community mainly embraced the brand with a passion, since the founders themselves identified with that term.

The Series A funding round for the company was held in September 2011, which raised them $12 million from their investors.

By this time, the company had over 40 employees and was making over $1 million in revenue.

Warby Parker differentiated the company from its competitors by providing an excellent customer service as well.

The virtual “try on” feature in the website allowed the customers to upload a picture of their face and “try on” the glasses to see if they match before they make the purchases. Customers can try up to 5 glasses for free without an obligation to buy.

Although the company did not sell in stores, they had partnered up with a few boutiques in main cities such as New York, San Francisco and Oklahoma where the customers can physically try on a glass before they make the purchase online.

By the end of 2011, the company had distributed over 100,000 pairs of glasses according to their annual report.

In September 2012, Warby Parker raised $37 million in funding, General Catalyst Partners as their lead investor.

With the help of the newly raised funding, the company expanded their product line to titanium frames and more innovative takes on traditional bifocals, targeting the millennial market.

They also introduced a “mobile showroom” to further bring the shopping experience closer to their customers. This showroom would tour 9 main cities of US for six months, with a vast collection of their products and also eyewear stylists to help the customers.

More interestingly, the company also introduced a custom eyewear frame line for beloved pet canines, which follow the stylish designs of their mainline and are also chew resistant. With a playful twist to their name, the canine eyewear line was named “Warby Barker”.

In January 2013, the company had their Series B funding round, raising them $41 million. Google Glass was rumored to be in talks with the company about a potential partnership as well.

The company had over 150 employees in their headquarters in Manhattan around this time.

In March 2013, the company’s co-founder Jeff Raider launched Harry’s – a men’s grooming brand.

The Series C funding round was completed with $60 million in funding coming from 7 investors.

The company opened their first showroom in New York but continue to have their website as the main retail location with a dedicated following of customers they had gained since beginning through great customer service.

By June 2014, the company hit their 1 million glasses sold mark.

In April 2015, Warby Parker raised $100 million in funding with a $1.2 billion valuation. With this, they joined the coveted Billion Dollar Unicorn Startups club.

The company announced that they hope to use the new funding to expand their physical showrooms across the country.

On March 2018, the company had their Series E funding round which raised $75 million from T. Rowe Price- a Maryland based investment management firm.

The new funding round increased the company valuation to $1.7 billion.

Data Management Rubrik Startup Story

Arvind Jain, Arvind Nithrakashyap, Bipul Sinha, Soham Mazumdar founded Rubrik in December 2014.

Rubrik is a data management company which offers live data access for recovery and application development. They use fusing enterprise data management with web-scale IT in order to successfully execute and deliver their results.

Jain is the VP of Engineering, Nithrakashyap is the CTO, Soham also had a background in engineering and Sinha is a Venture Partner at Lightspeed Ventures which gave the initial funding for the company.

The services that Rubrik offered included all kinds of data management services with a software which can be run-on premises of their client companies or work in a cloud in order to run and manage data.

The initial Series A funding round for the company was held on March 2015, which raised the company $10 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners (with a partner who joined the company as a Co-founder as well)

The service was marketed as a modern and high-quality replacement for the old-school backup software.

Rubrik used the funding to hire some high-profile engineers from Google, Facebook, and other leading companies.

With the announcement of a significant funding round, Rubrik also launched their “Early Access Program” in March 2015, which gave potential new clients to have a trial program with their service.

Sinha announced that the difference of Rubrik from its competitors is the efficiency in installing and the fact that the entire system can be up and running within 15 minutes regardless of the size of the enterprise.

Rubrik has a hardware box system to scale the scope, which makes it easy for any company to simply add new boxes if they needed urgent and quick scaling of the service. He also talked about the affordability of the service in general when compared to similar alternatives.

Within less than 6 months, Rubrik had gained up to 10 large clients by March 2015.

The All-in-one boxes of Rubrik were sold to the clients in standard configurations which allowed them to easily add more as their needs grow, without having to fully alternate what has already been installed and used.

Series B funding round for the company happened in May 2015, which raised $41 from Greylock Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The company announced that the new funding would help them pull in more clients and expand their team.

Rubrik also introduced a new “Hybrid Cloud Appliance” which can send certain data to offsite public clouds and provide results of searches for data across public and private clouds.

With the new funding round, Rubrik’s total funding that they raised within 15 months of launching increased up to $51 million.

Sinha, the CEO, commented on the success of the early access program that they launched since the last funding round.

He mentioned how the enthusiastic traction from the market to their program shows the latent market demand for a platform that delivers radical improvements in TCO while eliminating a complex data management infrastructure with a simple, converged system.”

Asheem Chandna, a Partner of Greylock Partners which was the lead investor in the funding round mentioned that they partnered with Rubrik due to the world-class team of the company which builds category-defining products for large markets.

In August 2015, Rubrik upgraded their management package and released Rubrik Converged Data Management version 2.0 to the market.

The new version was said to provide complete enterprise data protection and rich data services at global scale

The r348 Hybrid Cloud Appliance was also introduced to the market with this launch, a new appliance targeting larger environments and those requiring longer data retention.

The company went international in large scale in 2016. They expanded to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa – and also appointed Karl Driessen, a veteran in the IT industry as their Head of EMEA Sales.

Sinha commented on their rapid growth in North America, and that they are excited to expand the reach of their quality products and the service across the world with the help of a talented and dedicated team.

The Series C funding round for the company happened in August 2016, raising them $61 million from Khosla Ventures as the lead investor, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Greylock Partners.

This new funding increased the total funding for the company up to $112 million since their first funding round.

The client base of the company had increased across all the verticals by mid-2016, with many of Fortune 500 companies as well. Since releasing its first product, Rubrik has doubled its revenue every quarter – with over 160 employees worldwide.

In February 2016, Rubrik acquired Datos IO – an enterprise-class recovery solutions company based in San Jose, California.

Murray Demo – the former CFO of Atlassian Corp.- came on board the Rubrik team as the Chief Financial Officer in February 2018.

With the new expansions and the success of revenue that the company is bringing, Sinha mentioned in an interview in early 2018 that the company hopes to go public “probably in two or three years”.

ThumbTack Connections Pay Off

Jeremy Tunnell, Jonathan Swanson, Marco Zappacosta, Sander Daniels founded Thumbtack in 2008 – an online marketplace which connects customers with local professionals for various types of services from home, wellness, and events to tutoring.

The service professionals featured in the system were vetted by the company with proper background checks, and the founders were adamant on keeping the platform quality and credible, without being yet another classified website.

The Angel funding event for the company happened in June 2010, which raised the company $1.2 from 14 investors.

The notable investors included Mark Britto from Amazon, Mark Goines of Intuit and Mint, Jason Calacanis of Mahalo and Joshua Schachter of Delicious.

Thumbtack announced after the funding round that they hope to use the new funding to expand the features that they offer, hire more employees to the team and also to further expand the special Personal Concierge feature in the service which helps the users find a professional for a certain job within only 24 hours.

The Series A funding round for the company happened on January 2012, with $4.5 million funding coming from Javelin Venture Partners as the lead investor, MHS Capital, and Draper Associates.

With the new funding, Thumbtack continued to make themselves different from the competitor sites such as Craigslist and Angie’s List by providing a credible vetting and reviewing system.

They have added a point and badge system for the service providers verified in the system for providing proof of licenses and delivering quality services.

Thumbtack operates by users posting requests for work in the system, and the service providers offering bids for the said service.

According to Marco Zappacosta – the CEO of the company, they were using the new round of funding to hire user experience designers, software engineers and marketing employees to their service.

He further added that they have got a lot of constructive feedback during the years the service was active, and that they continue to develop the service in a way that gives an efficient service for the customers and service providers alike.

Thumbtack further added that their user and service provider network is growing rapidly, with over 240,000 local professionals and a new user every minute of every day for the last six months.

They hoped to “make hiring a service professional as easy as it is to buy a book on”.

Series B funding round for the company was held in June 2013, raising the company $12.5 million from Javelin Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Thumbtack continued to improve the booking process of a professional by getting users to answer specific questions about their needs and matching them with the right local professionals.

These matches are made according to the budget of the user, location and the availability of the professionals. After users review the bids which flow within 24 hours, they can send a message through the service to their preferred professional to make a booking.

By mid-2013, Thumbtack boasted having over 250,000 vetted service professionals in their system covering all 50 states and making a revenue of over $300 million a year with the new business opportunities.

In May 2014 the company had their Series C funding round, which raised them $30 million from Javelin Venture Partners and 2 other investors.

With the new funding round, the company had raised $79 million since the beginning. Thumbtack commented that they would be using the funding to grow their team and invest in scaling the service.

The platform featured over 700 project categories and has offices in Salk Lake and also in the Philippines.

A few months later in August 2014, the company had a very successful Series D funding round.

They raised $100 million from Capital G – a California based growth capital fund financed by Google as the lead investor, joined by their old investors Javelin Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Tiger Global Management.

Thumbtack announced that they hope to use the new funding to promote the marketplace, hire additional engineers to the team and to launch nationwide marketing campaigns.

David Lawee a Google Capital partner who invested in the company commented that “Thumbtack is a great product. As a consumer, it’s the best product I’ve ever used to hire local professionals.”

The company added that they have helped match customers with local professionals to complete over 3 million projects a year.

In September 2015, Thumbtack raised $125 million in a Series E funding event from Baillie Gifford – an Edinburgh, UK based investment and asset management company.

This funding round set the company at a pre-money valuation of $1.2 billion. Thumbtack commented on the new funding saying that it will be used for “the latest funding to build invoice, payment, scheduling and customer management services for small business owners.”

Thumbtack delivers over $1 billion worth of business to independent professionals listed in the system.

Food Delivery Unicorn Deliveroo Startup Story

Will Shu and Greg Orlowski – two Britain based American businessmen started Deliveroo in 2013.

Deliveroo is a tech-based food delivery company, focused on marketing, selling and also delivering the meals from restaurants to households or offices. The drivers of Deliveroo are equipped with smartphone software to seamlessly handle the logistics.

The business model of the service based on charging a commission fee from the restaurants and an order fee from the customers.

Deliveroo has a network of bicycle and motorcycle courier drivers who deliver food from restaurants to the request locations through an app.

In June 2014 the company had their first funding round, raising $2.7 million from Hoxton Ventures – a European early-stage venture capital firm, Index Ventures – a multi-stage international venture capital firm based in Geneva, Switzerland and JamJar Investments – a London based venture capital firm.

The differentiation of Deliveroo was joining up with premium restaurant chains which do not offer take-out services in order to deliver food orders. This is a feature that their biggest competitors including Just Eat did not offer the customers.

Another different feature that Deliveroo added to their service was hiring their own fleet of delivery drivers rather than waiting for the restaurant’s own delivery team to handle the orders that come from their service.

Deliveroo mentioned the plans to use the new funding to further strengthen the logistics of the process and their delivery platform. They also hope to expand their services beyond the UK and the European region, opening their first international offices.

In January 2015, the company raised $25 million in a Series B funding round from Accel, Index Ventures, Hummingbird Ventures, and Hoxton Ventures.

William Shu, the CEO and the Co-Founder of the service told the media after the funding round that he was the first delivery driver to the service, and that he still spends about 4 hours a week doing deliveries even after the success of the company.

He further added that he is not being a delivery driver for any PR benefits, but merely for him to better experience and understand the logistics and any issues with the service first hand.

Shu also mentioned how the restaurants who are a part of their service have increased their revenue up to 30%, which is a complete transformation for the restaurant business in a time people do not go out to eat often but would like the convenience of delivery to their own home.

By mid-2015, Deliveroo had an active user base of over 50,000 who are regular users of the service and over 50 employees including engineers, customer service team, account management team, and driver operations and salespeople.

The Series C funding round for the company happened in July 2015, raising them $70 million from Accel and 3 other investors.

They have signed up many high-end Micheline Star rated restaurants in London across Europe, adding to the value of the premium service and also the company.

Deliveroo mentioned how the growth of the company has increased 500% since their last funding round only a few months earlier.

The growth and expansion efforts of the service had reached major European cities including France, Germany, and Ireland.

The company announced that they will be using the new funding in order to further expand the service, especially in the Asian and Middle Eastern region.

By mid-2015, the company had partnered with over 2000 premium restaurants and have an average delivery time of 32 minutes which they keep trying to make speedier and more efficient.

A mere few months later, Deliveroo had their Series D funding round in November 2015 which raised them an impressive $100 million. The lead investors were Greenoaks Capital – based in California, and DST Global – based in Hong Kong.

Deliveroo announced that the new funding is mainly focused on expanding the company into the Asia Pacific region – most specifically, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Once the expansion is completed after the large funding round, the company would be successfully operating in 50 cities including 12 countries across the world.

In December 2015, Deliveroo was one among 15 promising UK companies which were predicted to make spectacular IPOs.

The revenue of Deliveroo was reported to hit over $170 million in the year 2016. The company commented that their main focus at the moment is to continue to invest in the growth of their delivery service and to create the best possible food delivery experience for the customers worldwide.

Deliveroo acquired Maple – a New York-based food delivery service that pairs the best chefs in the city with technology and logistics in May 2017.

The company further increased the scope of their market presence by opening the service to restaurants with their own delivery service in June 2018.

In September 2018, reports came that Amazon and Uber both have approached Deliveroo about a possible takeover.

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