Last week, as the world’s media dissected the details of the Apple Watch and iPhone 6, I spent an inspiring day mentoring at Seedcamp Week London, where some of Europe’s most promising new startups are immersed into the Seedcamp system of networks, learning, and capital raising.
The 28 startups taking part were getting ready to shake up a variety of sectors, from music, retail and design to healthcare, property and more.
I didn’t get to meet them all but I did spend time with two that are creating new digital marketing tools which piqued my interest.
Take any business that wants to sell online, add Shoprocket’s single line of code and hey presto – instant ecommerce.
I’ve never seen an online shopping product that looks so simple to integrate (the record is seven minutes) and comes with such a great looking, customisable UI – an aspect that lets so many others down (WorldPay and Servebase/PXP, I’m especially talking about you).
Payments are handled securely by Stripe and PayPal and the features on offer tick all the boxes I’d expect to see on a business’ wish list.
There’s no set up or licence fee; Shoprocket takes 2% of completed sales.
Online video has become an essential part of storytelling on the web – in a recent survey by Econsultancy and EPiServer, 80% of leading companies engaging in content marketing said video was the most important format for supporting ecommerce.
Video is great. But it could be made even greater by almost anyone, and that’s Storygami’s goal.
Due to launch this month, Storygami’s SaaS platform provides drag and drop features to integrate additional content into videos such related information, photos, Twitter feeds, or call-to-action buttons (see a demo).
As a result, their testing partners have seen reduced drop-off rates and increased audience engagement.
Pricing is still being determined but Storygami is likely to be offered with a freemium option.
The continuing democratisation of digital marketing
Shoprocket and Storygami are some of the latest tools to join the steady march that’s putting more power into the marketers’ hands.
Like WordPress, MailChimp and SurveyMonkey before them, they’re reducing the barriers to entry for small businesses and offering cost savings, control and a faster speed to market for all online players.
For a small business, sole-trader or anyone starting out, turning to these types of solutions is usually a no brainer. The hard part is choosing which ones to pursue.
And for larger or established companies with previous investments, legacy contracts, distributed teams, and brand equity to protect, determining which tools to use in this evolving environment becomes an altogether bigger decision.
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what’s right or wrong, but there are some ways a business can identify the right fit.
Evaluating new tools
Start with strategy
Always look to your strategy first to inform tool needs. Which will best help you to meet your objectives, and how will you measure their impact?
If you’re all about design, then customisable ecommerce platforms like Shoprocket’s can help deliver the right brand experience.
Hanging your hat on your customers caring about innovation? Then you’ll be looking at new tools that can show off your early adopter credentials.
Chances are you have a list as long as your arm of all the things your tool needs to be able to do.
Be very clear on which requirements are the most important. I tend to categorise needs by: Essential, Important, Nice to Have.
SWOT to compare
Ahh, the SWOT. The mere mutter of this acronym is usually enough to make everyone’s eyes glaze over.
It might not be the most exciting planning exercise but a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis can be extremely helpful if you’re trying to choose between tools.
Risk versus reward
An established provider may bring tried and tested tools, years of experience and armies of account managers but with less flexibility and a (reassuringly?) higher price tag.
A newer company may offer great pricing and a chance for you to steer product development but with less certainty about longevity.
Do your ROI calculations and due diligence, and don’t be afraid to ask about funding and cash flow.
Whenever there’s a significant risk, make sure you have a contingency.
Request a test
The capabilities of some tools can look similar on paper (especially within social).
If you’re stuck deciding or can see the benefit in theory but have concerns about the practice, ask for a free / low cost trial.
Many providers, especially newer ones, will be happy to set up a limited test.