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Intel and inspiration for the world's best marketers.

Jonah Lopin

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Market Intelligence: The Advantage Millions of Businesses Miss

Posted by Jonah Lopin on July 27, 2017.

Millions of businesses understand what’s happening internally, but they’re blind to what’s happening outside the four walls of their company.

Most companies have awesome data on their own marketing campaigns, lead generation efforts, product roadmaps, budgets and hiring plans. They use mature products like HubSpot and Salesforce.com to track and optimize their efforts.

But when it comes to understanding and acting on what’s happening externally - with competitors, customers, and partners - many companies are radically underinvested. When it comes to understanding what’s happening in the market, most companies operate in an informational vacuum.

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How are competitors shifting messaging and positioning? What are the most meaningful product and pricing changes in your market? Are companies in your space shifting marketing investment to new platforms? What’s their hiring plan? What’s their partner strategy? Are they winning or losing customers at an accelerated rate? What content strategies are working for them? Most companies can’t answer these fundamental questions. They operate as if they’re alone in the market.

The best companies in the world are investing in capabilities to bridge this internal-external information gap. There’s a massive opportunity for millions of companies to find actionable insights and opportunities using market intelligence software.

We’re building Crayon to help every company on the planet tune into actionable market intelligence hidden in plain sight, outside the four walls of their company.

The 3 Reasons Most Companies Are On The Sidelines

Why aren’t most companies doing this already? What’s stopping the majority of companies from gathering and acting on market intelligence at scale?

Most companies are on the sidelines because actionable market intelligence is hard, and there’s never been a software platform that solves the problem.

It’s historically been very difficult to track thousands of data sources and extract meaningful signal without being overwhelmed by the noise. It’s even harder to translate market intelligence into actionable, ROI-positive opportunities for the company.

Challenge #1: Digital Footprints Are Hard To Track

The digital footprint for a modern company – all the places online where that company has a presence – is large, distributed and complicated. How do you track an ever-changing set of thousands of sources across tens or hundreds of companies in your market, and keep up with it in real-time?

A decade ago, the digital footprint for most companies was pretty simple: corporate website, blog, and a few social media profiles. But those days are over. Today, the digital footprint for most companies is spread across thousands of places online, and the corporate website is just the tip of the digital iceberg.

There are review sites and forums where products and services are being discussed, job boards and employee review sites, native apps in the iTunes and Google Play app stores, partner pages on other corporate domains, content being published on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, SlideShare, and Medium. And don’t forget the Wikipedia page, financial results (if they’re public), and patent applications.

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It’s impossible for mere mortals to get their arms around the digital footprint for a modern company without software to do the heavy lifting.

Crayon’s software detects digital footprints at scale to yield complete intel on companies in your market. We’re tracking more than 160 million pages across 7.4 million domains, and we’ve triangulated the digital footprint for over 2.2 million companies.

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Challenge #2: Separating Signal From Noise

The second challenge blocking many companies from building actionable market intelligence programs is that digital footprints are extremely noisy.

If you tapped into every change in a digital footprint, you’d drown in a sea of data. The footprint for a given company changes frequently, but many of those changes are immaterial.

The home page changed… but only by a few pixels. There’s a new online review…. but it’s only 1 sentence. There’s a new LinkedIn post… about their office dog Mr. Tickles.

Crayon’s solution to this challenge involves an ongoing investment in separating signal from noise at scale. We use algorithms, machine learning, and humans working in concert to filter out the noise so you can pick up on important signals. For example, only 6.1% of the website changes detected by Crayon are meaningful enough to be delivered to customers; 93.9% of website changes are nothing but noise!

Once we’ve got signal separated from noise, we classify each signal into over 100 discrete insight types, and give you the ability to filter and analyze insights based on date, topic, and relevance.

The net result is a market intelligence platform that’s comprehensive without being noisy; a tool that helps you analyze what’s happening without fighting through an avalanche of data.

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Challenge #3: How Do You Make It Actionable?

You’ve got your intel. Awesome. Now what do you do with it? How do you make it actionable? This is the third challenge that’s historically blocked large-scale investment in market intelligence.

Enterprise value isn’t created by market intelligence, it’s created by the decisions, actions, and strategic insights that result from market intelligence. This is a subtle but critical distinction: Competitive intelligence isn’t about what your competitors are doing, it’s about what you do in response.

Competitive intelligence isn’t about what your competitors are doing, it’s about what you do in response. twitter.png

Companies don’t just need market intelligence, they need a prescription for action. They need a playbook and methodology that helps them figure out how to use the intel to drive action. The challenge is that most companies have historically lacked a playbook for making market intelligence actionable.

Crayon has woven a prescription for action into our software platform, methodology and training process. Crayon customers drove more than ten thousand strategic and tactical actions using Crayon intel last quarter alone.

There’s A Massive ROI on Actionable Market Intelligence

There are three drivers of ROI when you automate market intelligence at scale:

  • 100x Efficiency Gain
  • Lift in Key Metrics
  • Strategic Advantage

100x Efficiency Gain

Market intelligence software drives a 100x efficiency gain: 10x better intel, 10x faster.

First, Crayon software will find 10x more valuable intel than what you could have found manually. Digital footprints today are massive, and manual efforts can’t capture all the changes taking place, and then separate signal from noise.

For example, in a partner directory with 1,000 listings, a human is unlikely to note the 889th partner was replaced with a new firm. On a website with thousands of pages, a human will likely miss product integrations removed from a solutions page and newly published case studies.

Second, you’ll get the intel 10x faster. Rather than waiting for a human-based workflow to deliver intel, you’ll get the intel in real time.

The end result? Your team has 10x better intel in 10x less time. That’s a 100x efficiency gain and a massive ROI.

10x better intel * 10x faster = 100x efficiency gain

Lift in Key Metrics

Every team in marketing, from Demand Generation to Sales Enablement to Communications, as well as some teams outside marketing, will see their metrics get better as a result of market intelligence when they learn to translate market events into actionable opportunities.

From increased campaign performance in Demand Gen, to better sales win rates against the competition, to better PR and content marketing results, market intelligence drives a lift in key metrics across multiple teams.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sales Enablement: Improve Competitive Win Rate
    • A competitor sunsets one of their products and you train sales to use that intel to win competitive sales situations.
    • You find candid reviews on a competitor’s product and craft a sales battlecard to increase your win rate.
    • A competitor makes a splashy announcement, and you get ahead of the news in real-time and enable the sales team to understand and position effectively against the new development.
  • Demand Gen: Improve Campaign Performance
    • A competitor launches a new AdWords campaign, and you turn their idea into an a/b test that opens up a new family of high-conversion campaigns.
    • You see revenue drop and assume it’s related to something you’ve done, but then find a competitor introduced aggressive promotional pricing into the market, so you launch a promotion in response.
    • A competitor implements an SEO best practice on their website, and you adapt the best practice to work for your site and roll it out.
  • PR/Comms: Improve Share of Voice, Traffic, & Inbound Links
    • You identify a journalist that’s writing about the competition but hasn’t written about you, and reach out to build a relationship.
    • You benchmark your PR effectiveness around a recent event relative to the competition, and identify ways to outperform them around coverage at future events.
    • You see a competitor mirroring your messaging, and start to shift messaging to maintain differentiation in your campaigns.
  • Content Marketing: Improve Traffic, Inbound Links, & Engagement
    • You see a competitor adopting new channels, like SlideShare or iTunes Podcasts, and you shift investment to those channels so as not to fall behind.
    • A competitor launches a new content campaign, perhaps a series of videos on YouTube, a set of webinars, or a Pinterest contest, and you craft new campaigns based on those ideas.
    • You identify “white space” in your market by identifying topics no one else is talking about, where you can create content that truly stands out.
  • Product Marketing: Improve Competitive Win Rate, Launch Metrics, & More
    • A competitor contracts their support hours, and you drive forward an initiative to expand your support hours to create a marketable differentiator.
    • A competitor launches a new product that competes with you, and you see a gap in the feature set, so you update battlecards and train sales to highlight your relative strength.
    • A potential customer asks a question on Quora or Reddit, and you engage to pull them into a sales conversation.
  • Other:
    • Product Management: A competitor launches a feature that’s also on your roadmap, and the team reviews videos, documentation, and forum discussions showing how the feature was implemented and how customers are responding to it.
    • Partnerships: A competitor drops a strategic partner, and your team capitalizes on the opportunity to pull that player into your partner program.
    • HR/Recruiting: A competitor closes an office in a geography where you have a presence, and you move quickly to recruit displaced employees.

The net impact of actionable market intelligence is positive results across many teams. All the metrics get better. Your team gets better campaign results, wins more deals, gets more press, and wins more customers. Companies that build market intelligence programs enjoy a lift in a wide variety of metrics across teams.

Strategic Advantage

You’ve probably got a great corporate strategy and a great marketing strategy.

But the market doesn’t sit still, and you’re not alone in your market.

If you don’t have a systematic way of adjusting your strategies in light of shifting market dynamics, you’ll miss important opportunities to get ahead, or you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of a shift you didn’t see coming.

For example, consider a set of signals that indicate your competitor is investing in artificial intelligence. The first signal is they’ve posted two engineering jobs for data scientists. The second signal is they included the term “machine learning” in a newly published “product brief” on their help site. The third signal is they get a booth at an AI-focused industry event.

A market-aware organization would connect the dots and realize their competitor is actively pursuing artificial intelligence now. The strategic action might be to accelerate your own plans to invest in artificial intelligence capabilities. Your strategy might have called for waiting 18 months to invest in AI, but it might make sense to accelerate those plans.

What if a competitor is slowly changing messaging across their website to more closely mirror the language you’ve been using to tell your story to the market? What if a competitor you’ve been battling in the mid-market is moving upstream to the enterprise? You need to understand these strategic developments in real-time.

There’s no simple formula for how you’ll respond to strategic issues. Anything can happen in the market, so almost anything might be justified as a strategic response. The important thing is to be plugged into an ongoing, agile cycle of market intelligence assimilation and strategic adjustment. The important thing is to have complete knowledge about what’s happening in the market, so you can act (or not) from a position of informational advantage.

This Isn’t Obvious Yet - You Can Be The First In Your Industry

The vast majority of companies haven’t awakened to the market intelligence opportunity yet. That’s great news for you! You can be first in your market to use actionable market intelligence to build a sustainable competitive advantage.

There’s a good chance if you don’t make the investment soon, someone else in your market will beat you to the punch. By the time you see their case study, you’ll be playing catchup. Wouldn’t you rather have them read your case study than vice versa?

What We Believe

We believe the external market environment is today’s greatest untracked frontier for millions of companies. This is as important to understand as your website and your sales team, yet most companies have severely limited visibility.

We believe millions of businesses can create meaningful enterprise value by accessing market intelligence at scale, and making it actionable.

We believe most companies are on the sidelines today because there’s never been a great software platform to solve the actionable market intelligence problem at scale.

We believe you can be the next Crayon case study. We’ve driven tens of thousands of strategic and tactical actions for thousands of customers, and we’d love to get you off the sidelines. If you believe what we believe -- or you want to chat -- leave a comment below, shoot me an email at jonah [at] crayon.co, request a demo or get a free report.

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Until next time!

Jonah

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Top Landing Page Colors of 2016

Posted by Jonah Lopin on January 18, 2017.

This is a guest post submitted by a member of the Crayon community. Thank you! 

Crayon has a database of more than 100,000 landing pages that range from university websites to personal blogs to marketing lead capture pages. Our platform has an extensive library that offers a plethora of design ideas. This post is the first in a series analyzing the most popular landing pages of 2016 based on votes & saves by Crayon users. This first post focuses on color. 

As anyone will tell you, choosing the right color for any kind of project is a challenge. In the case of webpage design, choosing the right color for the right audience at the right time is an even more daunting exercise. Not only do you want to make sure your color choice conveys your webpage’s mood or philosophy, it must also speak to your target audience and grab their attention immediately.

While you can find a plethora of information on how to choose webpage color combinations on the internet, we’ve decided to make things simpler for you and give you a starting point in this article. We’re going to list the top color families that were used in the top 500 landing pages of 2016, and we’re going to review the top 5 based on usage and popularity across industries. 

1. The Most Prominent Colors 

  • There were 16 primary color families that were used across 25 industries on our list: Black; Blue; Brown; Gold; Green; Grey; Orange; Purple; Red; Sienna; Silver; Sky; Teal; Turquoise; Violet; and White.
  • Teal was used by 20% of webpages in our dataset, making it the top used color family of 2016. Grey came in second at 16%; then Black at 15%; Sienna at 14%; and Silver at 9%. 
  • Grey was used by 17 out of the 25 industries, making it the most used color across industries. Sienna came in second with 14 industries, while Teal was third at 13 industries. Black and Silver were tied at 11 industries each. 
  • Sienna was used by the most popular webpages in the dataset. In other words, the webpages that received the highest popularity scores (total votes + total saves) had sienna as their dominant color. It was followed by teal, black, grey, and silver.
  • The least used colors were red (1%), violet (1%), and blue (0.34%).

2. The Top Color Choices by Industry 

Teal

  • It was the top color within the industries that utilized it as a dominant color.
  • It was the top choice for the B2B Services, Internet, Legal, Education, Marketing, and Software industries.

Grey

  • It was in the top three choices for all industries on the list except Internet.
  • It was the top choice for construction and consumer services.

Sienna

Sienna was the top choice in Education, Consumer Services, Internet, and Media.

Black

Black was the top choice in B2B Goods, B2B Services, Internet, and Non-Profit.

Silver

Silver was the top choice in Software, B2B Services, and Entertainment & Lifestyle industries. 

Other Observations

B2B Services, Marketing, and Software industries were the most dynamic in their color choices, using 12 of the 16 colors in our dataset.

Marketing was the only industry on the list that used violet, using its bright hue for impact rather than emotional connection. These pages were simple: white text, logo, and a lead capture form. 

3. How Were the Colors Incorporated? 

Teal (Hex color #008080):

  • Teal is a mix between blue and green. According to internet searches on color psychology, it is a perfect expression of blue’s calmness and serenity, and green’s creativity and connection to nature.

 

  • Blue, surprisingly enough, was used in less than 1% of webpages. It is regarded as a “safe” choice by most webpages because it is liked by both men and women and across cultures. It seems that teal’s welcoming vibrancy has replaced it as the go-to color.

 

  • Teal was usually paired with complimentary blues and greens, and used brightly colored elements in oranges and yellows to accentuate action items and key messages.

 

Example Page: https://www.crayon.co/page/14934578/ 

Grey (Hex color #808080)

  • Grey was the second-most used color on the list and with good reason. It is a neutral color that generally projects a sense of formality and elegance. When darkened, it is dramatic, and when lightened, it is soft and illuminating.
  • These webpages included black, white, or varying gradients of grey as secondary colors, while the action elements stood out in reds, greens, or oranges. Red was particularly elegant; the grey tones softened red’s intensity, while red provided an energizing splash of color. Grey’s emotionlessness seems to be a good way to take advantage of red’s strong hue in a way that does not overwhelm the page or the visitor.  

Example Page: https://www.crayon.co/page/21963089/

Black (Hex color #000000)

  • Black is another neutral color that was popular on the list. This a powerful color that radiates strength, sophistication, leadership and expertise.
  • The webpages that used black tended to be impactful and full of action-oriented language. These pages projected an aura of

 

  • Text and secondary colors were usually a grey, white, or silver, but the action and messaging elements were vibrant greens and orange.

 

Example Page: https://www.crayon.co/page/39797206/

Sienna (Hex color #8b4513)

  • Sienna is a brown, earthy shade that feels wholesome and natural.
  • These webpages made a concentrated effort to connect with directly with visitors; images of people were used to establish this intimate feeling.

 

  • The brown tones were emphasized by the lower-key shades of grey and silver, while the text was always in white. The action elements kept the natural theme with their bright rusts (a mix of brown and orange) and earthy greens.

 

Example Page: https://www.crayon.co/page/9648021/

Silver (Hex color #C0C0C0)

  • Silver is a softer version of grey. It is elegant and formal, just like its stoic sibling, but its lightness makes it a shinier and light-hearted option. Silver is popular in the corporate world and amongst men and women in positions of responsibility because it maintains their formality but softens their image with an air of accessibility.
  • Silver was the most versatile because it was paired with a wider variety of colors. Text and design elements were in shades of complimentary hues of blue, white, black, and teal. Blue and teal contrasted beautifully with silver, making them a popular combination.

 

  • Like sienna, most silver webpages had images of people. These pages felt the most intimate as many of the pictures were close-ups of individuals happily engaged in an activity. This personal connection is probably why the education and consumer services industries used sienna the most.

 

Example Page: https://www.crayon.co/page/9648019/

Key Takeaways

  • Teal may be the modern alternative to blue. It is serene while connected to nature and the environment (through its green parent). It is an easy choice across industries.
  • Action elements were predominantly green or orange. Red was sometimes used, most especially in grey and silver webpages.
  • Grey is the most neutral color
  • Sienna and silver are strong choices if you want to portray a feeling of intimacy and connection. A lot of these webpages included images of people, and silver pages were especially versatile when paired with a variety of color.
  • B2B Services, Marketing, and Software websites are more apt to take use unexpected colors. Between them, they also used violet, turquoise, purple, gold, green, and orange.

Crayon T-Shirts: Smoking Hot Right Now

Posted by Jonah Lopin on December 28, 2016.

Let’s keep this simple: get a Crayon demo in 2016 and we’ll send you your new favorite T-Shirt.

We believe marketing teams need a complete picture of what’s happening in their market. We believe you should be fully informed and never get blindsided by news or competitor moves. We believe that to do your best work, you need a high degree of market awareness. Hop on a demo with us and we’ll show you what we do.

Happy holidays from your friends at Crayon!

* awesome developers not included in free T-Shirt offer.

Dear Customers: We Raised $3.35M to Build You Something Amazing

Posted by Jonah Lopin on November 10, 2016.

I’m psyched to announce great news for Crayon customers today: we raised a round of funding from some of the best investors in the world, and we’re going to use the capital to build you an (even more :) amazing product.

We believe marketing & sales teams can get massive leverage by ingesting data from the external environment, and then organizing and storing that data, and mining it for actionable insights.

We’re honored to be working with tens of thousands of you – the best sales & marketing teams – and partnering with you on this journey to unlock the critical market insights embedded in signals on the web and the physical world.

We’re hiring stars across the company, so if you live in Boston and you’re awesome at what you do, we’d love to meet you.

If you want to learn more about the funding round, check out these thoughtful articles:

You can also read our press release, if you’re into that.

What next steps do we recommend, you ask? These are good:

  1. If you’re great at what you do and you are intrigued by our plans for inter-galactic domination, please check out our jobs page
  2. Tweet, comment, email us (goodtimes[at]crayon[dot]co), or spread the word - help us share the love

Not a Crayon user yet?

  1. Sign up for Crayon (it’s free)
  2. If you’re on a sales team or a marketing team, please request a demo  or a free report

Have an awesome Thursday!