Your goal may be to build a global business, but your budget, unlike your plans, must have boundaries. That translates into a laser focus on generating leads, not just clicks. At the recent International Search Summit conference in London, Managing Partner Jeroen Maljers shared how Swydo acquired customers in over 80 countries with a limited budget using PPC tactics. The folks at webcertain.tv met up with Jeroen post event to revisit his presentation. See what he had to say by checking out the video below, or reading through the accompanying transcript.
Using PPC To Go Global – Transcript
Gemma: Welcome to Webcertain TV. I’m Gemma Houghton. Today, I’m here with Jeroen Maljers who is the founder of Swydo, a company focusing on reporting for online marketers. Today, we’re going to be talking about how it grew into different markets and a global customer base. Hi, thanks for being here.
Jeroen: Thanks for having me. Thank you.
Gemma: Could you give us a bit of background where you started with the tool and how you decided to expand internationally?
Jeroen: Swydo originated from an agency. We were an agency 10 years ago and we had this reporting problem. We we’re mainly active in the SMB markets and these clients really needed to be educated on what we did for them and they didn’t really understand what the job is of an online marketer to change things in campaigns, etc.
So, we were searching in the market for a tool, we could not find it. And it sounds simple but then we created it ourselves. A couple of years after we used it internally we decided to see if the market was ready for using our tools. So, we talked to some agencies. “Hey, do you have also a need for this solution?”
And slowly we started introducing it as a separate brand. Now, in 2018 it’s a company more or less top of the agency and Swydo has 1,500 clients worldwide. Mostly, agencies that use our tool for reporting purposes.
Gemma: So, starting off in a busy market where there’s already a lot of tools and where it’s difficult to find the way in, what was your starting point for actually marketing it as a tool and taking it to a wider audience?
Jeroen: Actually, when we started six, seven years ago, we first needed like one, two years to really see how we would approach the market; we were not so successful in the beginning because our tool was too complicated at first and our method was too complicated. But once we really addressed that problem and we simplified everything in 2013, then it really started to accelerate, the growth doubled.
The market was not really matured then so I think we were maybe one of the first tools really focused on this specific area. Nowadays it’s more crowded in the market, specifically in the reporting tools, of course. Our success was mainly driven by really focusing on what problem do we solve for these agencies. And the problem is reporting. So, when we really narrow down our proposition to the market then we started to gain success.
Gemma: So, that’s one key tip if you’re doing so, you don’t try and do too much at once really, focus on what the main benefit is.
Jeroen: Yeah. Main benefit, don’t over complicate it. On your website just have one main message. Also in your campaigns, in your online campaigns just focus on this problem that you’re solving. If you do search then use those keywords. And then you have a nice funnel and every step in this funnel is balanced, the end user isn’t confused when he arrives at the website because he clicked on to find a solution for his problem.
Gemma: And that’s what he finds.
Jeroen: And that’s what he finds. And then you have a coherent funnel for your marketing efforts and that drove our success.
Gemma: And in terms of actual marketing channels and tactics that you used, which did you find most effective? How did you kind of build up that marketing strategy?
Jeroen: In the beginning, and of course, still money is not unlimited but in the beginning, our budget was very tight. We had hardly any paying customers like five, six years ago but still wanted to enter the market. So then you really become very creative where to spend it. And we decided to really focus it on search marketing, online search marketing because there people are searching for a solution to the problem.
We really focused only on target areas where we thought that the problem was the highest and the most profound. And also we chose one market because we cannot do worldwide so we made the choice “Let’s do the English speaking markets or in the countries where people understand English and let’s start there.” So actually some people thought we are based in the Netherlands, but a lot of our clients thought that we were based in the U.S. because we started in the U.S. with our marketing efforts.
Gemma: Yeah, and that’s key not to try and spread yourself too thin or try and be everywhere all at once because it’s just not possible?
Jeroen: If you have a really large budget or you have funding or whatever, of course.
Gemma: Well, you need a lot of resources as well to do that and manage it internally and be able to then deliver if you can advertise perhaps in lots of languages, but if you can’t then offer any support in those languages or any excellent information, then it’s not…
Jeroen: Exactly. I’m not saying that it is not possible. I think if you have large funding and you’re really good in managing that, then it’s possible, of course. But in our case, with a limited budget, we chose, “Okay, let’s do like U.S., UK, some countries in Europe. Let’s start over there and New Zealand and Australia.” And later on, we were lucky to have a very good Spanish employee also and so we could also address South America and the Spanish speaking countries. It was luck on our side.
Gemma: And when you’re starting out with these campaigns and you’re focusing very much on the search, what were the main things to do to maximize, you know, if you’ve not got a big budget to really get the most out of that spend and make sure your campaigns perform as well as possible?
Jeroen: Yeah, I usually run and deal with the system report in AdWords and the negatives because if you look at the system report and you see what people really typed in when they clicked on your advertisement, that’s very valuable information because there you can see, “Is this really the intent that they had? Is this really the problem that I’m solving?”
And if it’s totally irrelevant, get those words out of your advertising campaigns, add more negatives because it’s a waste of money if people click on your advertisement and at the same time, it’s not relevant to them. So, what we’re really focused on and we still do that is nearly daily, add new negatives because you want a really focused campaign.
Gemma: Refine your campaigns to really be…
Jeroen: Refine your campaigns constantly, yeah.
Gemma: And did you just focus on AdWords or did you try advertising on social channels or other platforms or very much stick to search-driven?
Jeroen: AdWords is still the main channel. We tried Bing and it’s come up a little bit, it’s increasing but it’s still quite limited in this B2B space that we are advertising in. Maybe it’s larger in consumer channels but for B2B still quite limited.
We’ve used, on a case by case basis, advertising on LinkedIn for instance or advertising on Facebook. But we did that more so for a special campaign to push maybe an article, push maybe a whitepaper, focus on a real small target group which LinkedIn is excellent in.
For instance, you can even upload the companies that you want to target, so LinkedIn is quite good at that but then you’re not really in the problem-solving stage, you are in another stage in which people get acquainted with your solution, maybe realize that they have a problem so you’re not really in the buying stage.
So, we tried (those additional channels) in a later stage of our company when we had a little bit more marketing budget and we more or less were in full power in the search marketing and we said, “Okay, this channel is optimized. We cannot put more budget in it because there are actually no more searches.” Then we added more layers on top of it.
Gemma: Yeah, so at the beginning focus on the one you’ve really gotta focus and you’re trying to grow, focus on the people with the real intent, keep it small, and as you grow you’ve then got the potential to expand out. And how much do you use other channels now that you’re more established and have a lot of customers, things like content marketing, you know, blogs, other kind of content? Is that something that is effective also?
Jeroen: Sure because you also want to present yourself as an authority in the space you’re active in, and our clients expect that we have a high knowledge of all the channels that we report on, that we educate what you can do with a report, how to communicate with your clients, so it’s very important that we are seen as an authority in this market space.
So, our blog really matured last two, three years – started with announcing new features but now we really have a good content blog with good articles, with people in our network also that write for us. While it’s important to generate leads, that’s not really the goal (of the blog) but more focused on setting up Swydo as a brand in this marketing space, in a reporting space.
Gemma: And are there any markets that you’ve tried to get into or tried to work with and found more difficult than others to enter?
Jeroen: Sure, sure. We’re still struggling a little bit with some countries where we think our tool is excellent, usable, should be a perfect fit with the market but we still have not really high market share there. And that’s when you need a local presence, you really need your website translated also, you need your app fully translated, and well, I think we will do that in the next coming months, but we didn’t have the resources for that in the past.
Countries like Germany, France, some other countries there you really need local presence because the markets may be a little different but it’s more like a cultural thing, a language thing that you don’t have the success there yet that maybe the tool deserves.
Gemma: Well, thank you very much for talking to us today. Lots of useful insights.
Jeroen: Thank you for having me.
Gemma: Pleasure, thank you.