Another addition to this pool of knowledge- Janne Uzunovskii, a social media expert has a lot to share with all of us. So if you are looking for some social media automation knowledge and some inspiring story, you have got them here.
1.Every entrepreneur/marketer has a story worth taking an inspiration from. What is yours?
My inspiration for getting into entrepreneurship was series of events all unplanned.
At first, I would go to graduate school where I met prof. Sonja Markova. She was teaching Venture Capital and at that time she was the acting Managing Director of Keiretsu Forum, an angel investor group based in San Francisco, USA. This was back in 2011. I reached out to her and asked if I could do a summer internship. She was super kind, she said yes and there I am learning from the best.
From that moment on it was all about entrepreneurship. Working along Sonja and the rest of the team opened up my eyes into the startup world where problems, solutions, numbers, people, markets, technologies merged into stories about how we are going to change the world. I wanted to be part of this ecosystem. I would come back home, start working for an advisory company to build up my skills and after almost 2 years start my first company. I didn’t work well because of so many mistakes but I wasn’t giving up. People were asking me why are you happy still, or why are you not worried, you just lost money and closed your business. Of course, I wouldn’t be down because I knew this was part of the learning process and next time at least I will know what not to do.
Soon after that I decided to go to Asia, in Japan, and do research studies in Venture Capital. While I was going to the University, I found a part-time job at one startup based in Osaka. We were web development, digital marketing agency and we were developing our own proprietary software. In short period we reached a phase where we were selected as one of the 30 startups from Asia part of the first pre-accelerator run by 500 Startups.
As my studies ended I had to make a decision what to do next. I decided I am going to go back to Europe. This was 6 months ago. I got back home and in few weeks again I was working for a startup but this time it was in my home country, in Macedonia.
The company name is EmbedSocial and here I am again surrounded by amazing people. Safe to say they are my second boost of inspiration/motivation as they already built successful SaaS business, around social media tools. But they did it alone in a small landlocked country where opportunities to learn/share or find mentors are almost non-existent. It took me few weeks to realize that I made the best decision I could and this was the opportunity I was waiting for so long. To work with people who lead by example. It’s what I wanted always.
2.Tell us about your business and how does it help companies/its clients?
At EmbedSocial we help companies & organizations to sync & automate all of their social media activity with their website.
In essence, we help them reduce costs, save time & boost their online reputation leading to higher conversion rates. These are the major benefits depending on which product they use.
With EmbedAlbum they can create a gallery from all of their FB albums in seconds. They can choose to run campaigns with Instagram hashtag, they can pull photos from Google locations and much more. All of this can be done with no coding skills required.
EmbedReviews was designed for businesses that thrive on customer experience and have a high reputation. They understand the value of exceeding customer expectations and know that they can succeed only if they truly deliver huge value. With the reviews embedded on their website, businesses can expect lower CAC, higher customer loyalty, high network effects, high frequency of usage & stable growth.
Nothing converts better than user-generated content, if used properly reviews can boost social proof leading to higher conversion rates. Finally, reviews are critical for SEO especially local SEO so there are multiple benefits businesses can expect to gain if they implement an online reputational strategy.
We’ve built EmbedSocial as a continuation of our previous business as a Facebook marketing partner agency. Having the experience to work on great marketing campaigns acting like a technical partner to big marketing agencies, we’ve developed core technical skills required to implement the continuous API changes in the major social media platforms.
So, technically, our main value is the fast and seamless implementation of the latest API features provided by the social media networks.
3.What is your focus first on money or client satisfaction & why?
I think when you ask this question everyone will go fo the client satisfaction first. However not every company has made the transition to customer-centric.
For a SaaS business, we learned from practice that retention comes first before making money.
Therefore naturally we’ve created a moto for EmbedSocial and that is ‘’Exceeding customer expectations”!
From the moment they come to our website, ask a question, get a free trial or when they become customers we always approach with the thought to give more.
The money is the worst goal a person or even worse a business can pursue. They are always a side effect of good work, delivering value by assisting others in their goals, not the other way around. So if you are doing a good job, money will come eventually.
4.You have developed an interesting way of engaging customers. Tell us about such an engagement model.
That’s a great question. It depends on the business model and the type of service you provide.
We acquire customers by giving more and that translates to build FREE tools. The free version of one of our tools EmbedAlbum is used by more than 10000 websites and this acquisition strategy has brought us satisfied users that convert to paying and long-term customers.
Giving free tools has also proven to be an awesome approach to media and influencers who will be willing to share it with their audience By doing this, we get free traffic that is still profiled and help us get the initial traction with relevant feedback, helping to empower the PRO versions.
Furthermore, we try to automate most of our tasks except tasks that require human interaction. Our customers are segmented based on their activity/product preferences. We have 3 broad categories: free, trial and paying users. Most of our time is devoted to our trial & paying users but we also run drip campaigns to engage our free users. We provide tutorials, educational materials and often we reach out to them personally.
Our main goal is to let them know that we are here for them at any time for anything. Not only that, when we communicate we try to leave an impression that we are interested in a long-term relationship and we try to be informal. This reduces barriers to communication and brings us on an equal foot, we connect like friends. Last month a customer wrote back to us that it was rare for her to see s SaaS company communicating like that and she loved it. We got invitations to visit a customer and do a company retreat on their boat in the Caribbean. Things like this make our days amazing and it’s the driving force of everything we do.
5.Who are some of the remarkable people you connected within the industry who’ve made a memorable impact on you?
I will have to mention Sonja again for opening up my eyes to how everything works. I was able to learn how Angel Investors/VC’s source quality deals, what kind of things entrepreneurs should focus on, what kind of questions they should be prepared to answer, what is due diligence, valuation etc. I salute her for my early jump start into entrepreneurship.
As to my recent experience, I would have to mention Katerina Bojkov our COO & co-founder of EmbedSocial. She took me under her wing and I don’t know the right words to express my gratitude. Learned so much about writing/copy, how to think about marketing/growth and 1000 other small pieces of advice. She introduced me to Vincent Dagan and also to Growth Hack World and many more.
You can go in many places and you can work different jobs, whatever motivates you but when you find a mentor someone who is happy when he/she sees the success in others, make sure you appreciate that and learn from that. Because you will have that opportunity soon and remember that there were people that helped you reach that far.
I find inspiration in this, in people who lead by example, people who are responsible and ready to sacrifice for the greater good.
6.How did you get into helping growth marketers/entrepreneurs?
Yes, that is correct we help them in many ways. For marketers working in web development agencies or digital marketing agencies, our tools help them manage all of the social media footprints of their customers and integrate it with their websites. They can sign up with one account and they can set different designs/layouts/customizations depending on their customers’ goals or nature of their business, getting data from multiple sources and displaying them on multiple websites or apps.
We work with lots of Agencies around the world and we appreciate their feedback because we often do custom solutions if it’s technically plausible.
By working with us they save time and costs because our products are simple and made with the set it & forget it goal. Everything is sync and the data that feeds the website, coming from the social media accounts can be turned on or off. We have solutions for all use cases.
For startups we have enterprise plan, all they have to do is to hook with our API. Depending on their use case, in general, we provide the solution for their content. It’s a directory of business & professionals we can pull & provide aggregate ratings from major platforms. If it’s a food/delivery app we can provide photos based on the location where the order is originating.
For example, if it’s a pizza we can show pictures related to that restaurant from customers who have uploaded them to Instagram using a specific hashtag. All of their content, pictures as well as reviews can be sourced and provided to them in real time.
7.Was there an “aha moment” where you realized one or two key habits that helped your success?
The first one will never stop learning. We are in the midst of a revolution in terms of redefining our relationships both on our personal level as well as professional. We have to not only live with the time but try to anticipate what will come soon. If you want to ride the wave learning will give you to benefit from the doubt will a make it or not. It’s more than enough because in entrepreneurship the biggest risk is not taking any risk at all.
The second one is you need to have a mindset of first giving before asking. This is key to building relationships. We have to understand that by involving others in our work, giving credit where is due, creating a working environment where everyone is contributing is a must have for any organization. Entrepreneurship is hard don’t make it harder by trying to do it all by yourself.
8.Can you dive into some of the fundamentals of building a company that growth marketers tend to skip?
Try to build something based on a real problem rather than an idea. I get it all starts with an idea but we tend to forget to check that with the customer.
My advice is, find a customer first before writing any code or building anything. Only then you have a real business. Then, make the customer see the value as soon as possible.
The other thing is agility & efficiency. In general, the rule of thumb is if you are fast and efficient you develop/test/iterate your MVP faster than your competition. In addition, you preserve your independence in decision making by limiting your expenditures on the most important things allowing you to bootstrap for a longer period. Which brings me back to other great skill we tend to neglect and that is prioritization. The ability to know what to focus on first goes a long way and it’s key to the success of any marketer.
9.What are some of the little-known marketing/sales/startup tools that you have seen and like in the space?
I like to explore new apps/startup tools that can make our life easier. There is an explosion at the moment especially in our segment but every industry is being disrupted, every relationship.
That being said my current favorite new tool is Loom for shooting videos. It’s has a Chrome extension that allows you shoot a video in few seconds. It’s great for shooting “How to” videos and I use it frequently when we need to make a tutorial or special walkthrough for a customer. Shootout to the Loom team for the great work.
Another startup tool we use is Drip for sending personalized campaigns to our customers. It’s a great email marketing automation tool we are really satisfied so far and we recommend it to everyone who considers having email as another channel through which they can engage with their customers.
10.What habits or routines help you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the marketing/startup industry.
Blogs, podcasts, newsletters, influencers are some of the things I follow on a daily basis to keep up to date with what is going on. Also, Facebook Groups are a new trend for professionals where you can find a tremendous amount of actionable growth hacks, educational materials i.e. premium content.
I usually do that while I commute for my work. You have to be excited each time you turn on your phone because sometimes it’s overwhelming and we all have that feeling that it’s too much. Still, if you manage to identify the real talk you can find great value. I think by now we have reached a phase where people can notice what is great content and if you could do that it makes your work easier.
10.How are some recent marketing changes causing you to adjust your strategies?
We are noticing a gap in the online advertising industry. Facebook has expectedly lowered the organic reach and the main winners are companies that will win with their unique content strategy. In our opinion the market needs niche tools for particular verticals in the industry, tools that will specifically identify the audience willing to engage and eventually buy, having the capability to do this with an AI-powered technology allowing users to easily implement them and just run their advertising in few clicks.
Therefore, we definitely revamped our roadmap to introduce some of the ads capabilities in our tools.
11.What makes your business/company so unique among its competitors?
I would say our approach to exceeding customer expectations both in terms of value and in terms of relationship. We try to do that by setting the tone straight to what we are, what we represent and what are our goals.
You have probably noticed that lots of companies are hiding their contact information. They do this mainly because they want to save costs on support With us, it’s on the contrary, we never compromise on customer support, it’s our priority.
We never miss a chance to remind our customers how much grateful we are for their trust in us, for the effort they have made to find us and to speak to us. We always tell them that time works for us because in time they will notice our unique approach. That’s why they are so surprised when we let them know that we acted upon their feedback. We always follow up with them because we can succeed only if we make them succeed.
We never over promise and we never oversell. If we can do it in 3 days we would rather tell them we will in 5 and try to finish in 3 days. This is a great advice from our CEO Nikola Bojkov, leave a room for surprise, leave a room for unexpected events. You will rarely miss a deadline and in most of the cases, you will finish earlier.
12.Tell us about the latest trends of your field of expertise.
Social media and messaging platforms have become the center of delivery, engaging and converting customers. As we amplify these needs of the digital industry we regularly follow the roadmaps and envision what is the next.
In 2018, the personalization of the communication will become the main driver of the web conversion rates. In our opinion, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp and their use to personally and instantly communicate/chat, support, acquire, retain and also the ability to process payments will be a huge deal.
Companies that will find its way to do this are already experiencing great returns.
Growth & Customer Success