For the past 11 years, NetElixir, a Princeton company using advanced search engine marketing technology to increase satisfaction for customers, has flown under the radar.
With a 67,000 small businesses using its LXR Marketplace and a roster of premier retail customers, NetElixir is becoming a thought leader with an outsized impact on the search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) spaces.
This is the second part of an interview of Udayan Bose, Netelixir’s founder, by NJTechWeekly.com.
How has your business model changed over the years?
When we started, we did only paid searches (SEM) and we used a standard agency fee model. Then we became value creators in our business. Things like the servicing and consulting aspects came in. We began charging separately for the use of our technology when we could measure the various touch points in the customer journey.
By 2011, we had been fortunate to work with over 200 retailers. We decided it was time for us to give something back to the thousands of small businesses who struggled every day with SEO and SEM. That’s when, in November 2011, we launched LXR Marketplace. We have launched one free SEO/SEM/e-commerce management tool every 3-4 months. We have also launched some 20 apps, most of them free, to help small businesses with their SEO and search marketing. We have made no money from them since we began operating the site, but some 67,000 small businesses use them. When you do something meaningful for people, they get to know you as a credible company that wants them to succeed. It aligns well with our core purpose of “helping businesses succeed online.”
Can you talk about your data analytics, your “secret sauce”?
We call our process “humanizing every click.” We can work with any retailer to track someone who lands on their site from Google, Facebook or anywhere, and track their click path. Some click paths lead to a conversion and some do not. We began collecting these into click streams and building models on them. We are trying to figure out what the customer really thinks while engaging on the site.
Say someone comes in from Google, clicks around for women’s boots and doesn’t come back for the next seven days. However, when she is on Facebook, she gets a recommendation for the same company, clicks and comes to the site and buys something. We know that. We also know how many times she comes back in the next 12 months.
We are essentially collecting journeys, but analyzing the data at an aggregate level. You can clearly build out customer segments that way. Different customer segments have distinct interaction patterns. Analyzing customer patterns, we can say with 60 percent accuracy (and I know that’s not much) the likelihood of a person who belongs in this segment coming back to the site to purchase, how long it will take for them to complete the purchase and so on.
How many employees do you have now and where are they located?
We have a total of 85 full-time employees, 65 are in India and 20 of us are in Princeton. Our team in Princeton focuses on account management, marketing, business development, product marketing, content development and SEO consulting. We are currently looking for exceptional product marketers who have prior new-product launch marketing and demand generation experience. Our India business center does the big data analytics portion of our business, knowledge management and around-the-clock support. We also have a small sales office in England, but the employees there are not full-time.
I know you hold NetElixir X=Experience event each year. Tell me about it.
X=Experience is an invitation-only event held at Rat’s Restaurant, at the Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton, where 30 C-level leaders from major retail, pharma, high tech and travel companies get together with ten academics from top universities in a totally nonthreatening environment that encourages discussion and a free exchange of ideas.
We started this event in 2013. We are very selective about whom we want to invite. The night before the event, we treat everyone to a tour of Princeton that we call “A Night in the Life of Albert Einstein.” We give out local flowers, chocolates, etc. We want all attendees to experience the Princeton flavor. It is a wonderful way for us to showcase this amazing city and all the amazing things it stands for.
On the main conference day, we have talks from the prominent academics featuring research findings that the attendees may deem thought-provoking and relevant. For example, Wharton School Professor of Marketing David Bell, author of Location is (Still) Everything, said that the likelihood of a customer buying something is higher if he reads a review by someone from the same town who may have bought that product earlier. After the morning session, the groups get a tour of the Grounds for Sculpture.
The afternoon features a live case discussion — the “Think Session.” We have the executive team from an e-commerce company present their case to the audience, which comprises C-Suite executives and professors from Ivy League universities. This year we had a fast-growing retailer, Balsam Brands, present its case. The CEO and COO then asked the attendees to develop strategies that they could use to grow their business. The attendees were divided into three groups and worked on recommendations to help that company. Then representatives from each group presented the group’s recommendations and the rationale behind the same. It is fascinating to see C-level executives wear their B-School hats and actively participate in case discussions.
Needless to say, the Balsam Brands team left with many insights. We counted 37 pieces of information they could act on. We get a lot of insight into how the C-level actually operates by looking at the questions the attendees ask. It helps us know our customers better. It’s a very high-quality cerebral event. We really get inspired by these big ideas.
What’s next for NetElixir?
We have quite a few products in the pipeline.
One of the products — LXRBuzz — has the ability to integrate Twitter and Google AdWords so that tweets can act as a source of search marketing keywords. We are also getting deeper into mining search data better so we can predict future behavior more accurately. This will enable us to do (quite literally) one-on-one search marketing.
We also have a plan to use artificial intelligence to help search marketers run high-performing AdWords and Bing campaigns. It will be an application in your personal AdWords guide. When you ask the tool, “Show me what to do next on my AdWords campaign,” it will tell you the optimization steps that you need to take and why, and it will forecast the dollar benefit. We plan to launch this tool in Q1 2016.