Talking SEO With Tech Startup Talkative
By: Carli Evilsizer | November 1, 2019
For companies large and small, SEO can be a confusing project! Many startups often find themselves struggling to figure out how to create quality content for SEO, where to begin when setting up growth hacking strategies and how to drive more inbound leads via their website.
We recently talked with Felix Winstone and Patsy Nearkhou, the Founder and Marketing Manager at Talkative, all about SEO and content marketing for startups. Talkative is an SaaS startup that helps businesses convert online customers by enabling human communication directly through a brand’s website by embedding voice, video, chat and co-browsing.
Keep reading to learn more about how Felix launched Talkative, some things he’s learned along the way and his thoughts on why startups shouldn’t ignore SEO strategies. Throughout the interview, Patsy shares her top tips on how startups can create content to help drive SEO, Talkative’s top strategy to successfully drive and converts inbound leads and the #1 growth marketing mistake startups should avoid.
Talkative’s Felix Winstone And Patsy Nearkhou Share Startup SEO and Content Marketing Tips
Talkative helps businesses convert online customers by enabling human communication directly through your website. The Talkative solution allows companies to embed voice, video, chat and co-browsing into their websites. This allows businesses to boost their revenues whilst also providing a top class customer experience, by helping solve problems, offer solutions and assist users through the website.
Founder of Talkative
Felix is the co-founder and Managing Director at Talkative, a company that helps bridge the gap between digital marketing and contact centres through a range of integrated solutions. Felix is in charge of sales and finance divisions, and occasionally dabbles in SEO too!
Marketing Manager at Talkative
Patsy Nearkhou is Marketing Manager for Talkative, a UK-based tech start-up specialising in web-based communications solutions such as live chat, web and video calling and cobrowsing. She loves to create content around customer experience, customer service and emerging tech within these fields. She also enjoys discussing topics surrounding professionalism and workplace culture, and enjoys engaging in conversations about this with her considerable LinkedIn following.
1. So Felix, what is Talkative and how did you launch your startup?
Felix: All customer journeys are now digital, with organizations investing heavily into optimizing their website, SEO, PPC, etc., however most contact centres are still primarily voice centric, and are usually silo’d from the organization’s website and digital marketing initiatives. This disconnection causes consumer frustration and harms online sales and service. We started Talkative to help organizations bridge the gap between contact centres and online journeys. I’m lucky to have a super smart, technical co-founder who has built the product.
2. What was the hardest part about building an online startup?
Felix: Being a first-time founder with essentially zero knowledge of the industry has meant that there have been lots of difficulties! There has been a very steep learning curve, so I’d say the hardest part has been a shift of mindset to continually learn and improve, whether that means industry knowledge, sales, marketing, hiring, and more!
3. What was it like building the brand?
Felix: I have to say, coming up with the name was a super painful process! I still have flashbacks to trawling through GoDaddy and running trademark searches… that said, I’m really happy with our name. It’s distinctive, easy to spell, and it really conveys what we do. The branding work was done by Paul Bailey, the Marketing & Design Director at Wesley Clover, one of our investors. He’s done a great job! Messaging is crucial for any company, and it’s fair to say ours has evolved over time as we’ve learnt more about our customers and the market we’re in. Our messaging first acknowledges the reality of what our customers are facing, the fact that consumers are now fully digital and that they have to adapt their customer contact strategy to align with what customers want, rather than what they’ve also done. Framing this change in the landscape is powerful, as it’s happening regardless of whether Talkative exists or not. We then position ourselves as the antidote to this problem, focusing both on our holistic approach to communication channels (in addition to live chat, we also embed voice and video into online journeys), and our enterprise focus (deep integrations into telephony and CRM, in-depth reporting etc.)
4. Is there anything you wished you had known before building Talkative?
Felix: That is a long list! While it’s something everyone has heard before, the team you build around you is the most important factor to your success. A great team is more important than the market, timing, product, investors, idea… if you have the right people you will succeed, and conversely even just one person who isn’t the right fit for your team can really set you back, especially in small teams.
5. Switching over to SEO… Patsy, how do you create content for SEO? Why is this so important?
Patsy: It all starts with understanding your message. Being crystal clear with the message you are trying to promote makes it easier when creating the content strategy. We’ve found that it also pays to be quite specific and niche with our content- which helps with rankings and discoverability.
We like to create dedicated content for targeted verticals, such as automotive, travel and retail, based around trends which we spot on Google Analytics and regularly searched terms.
It’s also important that the content we produce is human in its nature- not just because this helps the content itself to perform well, but also because at the core that is what Talkative is all about- enabling real conversations between people, so we want all of our content to align with this.
Our main types of content are long-form blog content, reports and deep-dives and videos. Video has proved to be really successful for our SEO too.
The fact is that generic search terms associated with our solutions, especially terms like ‘web chat’, ‘live chat’ and ‘video calling’ are so incredibly competitive because they can refer to so many different things which aren’t in any way connected to our brand (…I’ll leave that to your imagination!). So, despite the longer-tail keywords we strive for having lower search volumes by comparison, the results are a lot more relevant.
6. Tell me more about inbound leads. What is your best strategy to drive leads?
Patsy: As our main route to market is via channel partners, which works very well for us, our inbound lead strategy is focused around SEO, PPC and social media. One of the most popular features of Talkative is our ability to integrate with existing contact centre and CRM environments, in particular, Mitel and Salesforce. So, a lot of our PPC campaigns are focused on driving traffic to these particular landing pages, which are highly focused. It’s all about finding out what works best- with this strategy we see lower search volumes but the quality of the leads generated are much higher, leading to higher overall conversion rates.
7. Some startups totally ignore SEO strategies. What would you say to their marketing team?
Patsy: It depends why they are ignoring SEO strategies. It might be the case for them that they have alternative routes to market, where discoverability and search is less of a focus for them. Having said that, if they rely on digital channels in any capacity for their marketing strategy, at least a basic focus on SEO is essential. The truth is that almost every industry has been affected by digitization, and this Is showing no signs of slowing down. So for those who choose to simply ignore SEO, it could ultimately result in being left behind and missing out on masses of opportunity.
Felix: SEO is definitely more important for startups with a low ACV, inbound-driven model where the cost of acquisition needs to be as efficient as possible. However, even “enterprise” focused startups with high-ticket items can benefit from SEO. SEO is great for all stages of the buying journey. Of course it’s beneficial to be found by buyers who have a known need and are in the market for your solution, but you can also generate awareness and top of funnel interest by creating content that is valuable and interesting to your target buyer. There are loads of stats out there to support the fact that B2B buyers increasingly perform more and more of the buying journey online, often before speaking to you. Make sure you get found! The other thing about SEO is that it takes time to build up, so it definitely makes sense to start as soon as possible.
8. What are your viewpoints on current startup growth hacking strategies?
Patsy: Growth hacking has its benefits for startups, but our setup at Talkative is a little different from the norm because we have such strong relationships with channel partners and resellers. So, although we do push conventional growth hacking strategies like content marketing and PPC, our main marketing focus is on building key relationships with clients and partners.
We hold and attend a lot of events, work closely and collaborate with partners on content, webinars and projects. By opting for this strategy, we can maintain and build relationships, keep partners up-to-date with changes in our services, reduce churn and increase up-sell opportunities. Basically, growth hacking is as broad a term as marketing itself- there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. It’s all about looking closely at your business and maximizing on what works best for you.
9. What are the biggest growth marketing mistake you see startups making?
Patsy: Not experimenting enough! One of the biggest pros of being a startup is that you don’t have set-in-stone processes or masses of red tape that you need to adhere to. This means that you have the flexibility to be agile with your strategy… so make the most of it to see what works best! I think there are many startups which fall into a rut of doing the same thing due to time restraints, familiarity or convenience, but if there is another method out there that can return better rewards, it’s worth giving it a go. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different approaches. Keep track of your results and continue to tweak your strategies to make constant improvements.
Felix:I think it’s really easy to fall into the trap of investing time and energy into things without really questioning why you’re doing them, and what impact they’re having. I think each company is different, so there’s not one mistake I see startups making, but I often see that initiatives can go on for months and months with no results, and nobody has stopped to ask the hard questions about why something is being done. There’s always more possible marketing initiatives that resource available, so it’s worth spending time to think through where your highest returns will come from.
10. Besides content marketing and lead-gen marketing strategies, how else should startups approach growth marketing?
Patsy: I think marketers now- particularly in the B2B space- are at risk of focusing too deeply on purely digital methods for growth. A lot can be said for surprise and delight strategies and creative outreach. We have recently completed a creative outreach campaign where we sent highly personalized and valuable information along with a relevant gift to decision-makers through the post. It worked really well- we achieved a 20% conversions rate.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you always need to be formal and conventional… putting yourself out there makes your company stand out and memorable!
11. What is one piece of marketing advice you wish you had learned sooner?
Patsy: Marketing strategies are as unique as companies themselves, and just because something has worked well for someone else doesn’t mean that it will be the same for you. Read a lot of case studies, do your homework and understand what’s new within both your own industry and new marketing strategies, but don’t blindly follow any advice you get. Consider your business, your clients and current position and choose strategies you think will work for you best. Experiment with those, and that way you can begin to formulate your own unique strategy for success.
12. What’s next for Talkative?
Felix: A trend we’re seeing is that contact centre is becoming embedded into CRM, so we’ve just launched our integration into Salesforce, which we’re really excited about. From a marketing perspective, we’re migrating to a new website that is going to be easier for us to modify and add content, and we’re doing an SEO review as part of this migration. We’re also hiring, so if you’re interesting in working here, please get in touch!
Thanks Felix and Patsy for talking all about Talkative and sharing your top tips for startups to create content for SEO and drive inbound leads!
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