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The Making of MozHow the power of inbound marketing took our startup from near-bankruptcy to surprising success Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-founder, SEOmoz March 2011
An Early History of Moz: 1981-2002 Rand begins working for Gillian, building websites for her traditional marketing clients Rand + Gillian start by building small web presences for Seattle-area companies 2002 1997 1981 2001 Gillian (Rand’s Mom) founds the company that will become SEOmoz Rand drops out of UW, 2 classes from graduation to work full time w/ Gillian Text Goes Here
Our Consulting Business: 2003-2006 Deeply in debt from a series of failed projects and poor decisions, and struggling to succeed at SEO, Rand starts the SEOmoz blog A growing reputation and hig-profile clients make 2006 SEOmoz’s first profitable year. 2006 2004 2003 2005 When 3rd-party SEO services fail to help clients, Rand starts to do it himself. After several viral content pieces, the growing popularity of SEOmoz attracts a 4-page Newsweek article on SEO. Our 2006 financials are here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seomozs-2006-financial-statements
The Transition to Software: 2007 Moz’s first “premium” membership cost $39/month. We still have “grandfathered” members at that price: http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/13/free-to-paid-tips/
Raising Venture Capital: Nov. 2007 Invests $100,000 (observer seat) Invests $1 million Kelly Smith Michelle Goldberg Board of Directors Founder Founder Rand Fishkin Gillian Muessig Rand’s wife comically marked up the VC-post: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seomozs-venture-capital-deal-closes-financials-for-jannov-2007
Building Linkscape: 2008 We made a comic series at launch to help SEOs understand the project (almost no one read it) http://www.seomoz.org/linkscape_comic.html
January 2010: Open Site Explorer Great coverage from sources like SELand (http://searchengineland.com/seomoz-launches-open-site-explorer-33892) and MSDN (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/searchblog/archive/2010/04/22/using-the-seomoz-open-site-explorer.aspx) helped make OSE a hit
The Evolution of PRO Membership From a collection of disparate tools (Jan. 2007 – Aug. 2010) to a campaign-based app that tracks everything in one place (Sep. 2010-)
Subscription Growth “PRO” rises to $79/month in October 2008 PRO moves to $99/month in September 2010 “Premium” costs $39/$49 Highest ever growth came when we sent our first email marketing message: http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/seomoz-case-study/
Moz Today PRO Subscribers: 10,300 API Customers: 20 Paying, 250 Total Employees: 32 Board of Directors: Rand, Gillian& Michelle Total Capital Raised: $1.1 Million (2007) 2010 Revenue: $5.7 Million Gross Margin: ~83%
Entrepreneurship Lessons Learned
Don’t Give Up
Today, Rand’s credit score is still so bad that he can’t rent an apartment or make any large purchases (car/house) or get a credit card!
Choose a Small Number of Metrics
Basic Metrics More Advanced Total Paying Subscribers Subscriber Growth + Acceleration Rate Average Revenue / Subscriber Distribution of Revenue/Member Avg. Subscription Duration Cohort Analysis of Subscription Duration Gross Margin Net Profit Gross Revenue Cost of Customer Acquisition Cross-Channel Distribution of Costs Customer Lifetime Value
Track Them Insanely Well
Our Weekly Reporting All our weekly metrics are updated on a company intranet to make it easily accessible to everyone at Moz.
Get Everyone in the Company Focusing on the Numbers
Weekly Email Updates These email updates go out to everyone in the company every week.
Create a Consistent Culture
Moz’s TAGFEE http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-we-believe-why-seomozs-tagfee-tenets
Hire the Right People
Traits We Seek in Mozzers Excited about the Mission Care deeply about Quality Excellent Cultural Fit Balance of New & Experienced Productive w/o Instruction Strong Instincts http://www.seomoz.org/about/team
Divide Big Challenges into SmallOnes to Successfully Scale
How We Built an Index of the Web The completed index of Wikipedia proved viable, and we began a project to do web-scale indexing of billions of pages. At launch, we had only a single index – it was December before we could create a second one! Oct. 2008 Feb. 2008 Dec. 2007 June 2008 We began a project to crawl and index the content of Wikipedia.org as a test run for the web. Our estimates put our web crawl abilities around 5 billions URLs, giving us data on ~30 billion pages. Lots of testing, failing and re-trying would occur prior to launch. Text Goes Here
Marketing Lessons Learned
Selling is Painful
At Moz: No Sales Team http://randfishkin.com/blog/50/what-i-learned-about-sales-but-foolishly-forgot-when-raising-vc
Education Builds Trust and Community
Moz Community http://www.seomoz.org/community
Forms of Content that Worked
A Blog We Update Every Day
“Viral” Targeted Content http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
“Viral” Targeted Content http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization
“Viral” Targeted Content http://www.seomoz.org/seo-industry-survey
Graphics + Illustrations
A Weekly Video Series http://www.seomoz.org/blog/category/33
Research + Data Sharing http://www.seomoz.org/blog/google-vs-bing-correlation-analysis-of-ranking-elements
Research + Data Sharing http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-blog-stats
Slide Presentations http://www.slideshare.net/randfish/inbound-marketing-for-startups-in-2011
Webinars http://www.seomoz.org/webinars
Successful Marketing Channels
Forums Viahttp://boardreader.com
Forums
Blogs Via http://blogsearch.google.com
Blogs
Comments + Conversations
Search Via SEOmoz’s Google Analytics Data
Search Via SEOmoz’s Google Analytics Data
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/seomoz
Twitter Via SEOmoz’s Google Analytics Data
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SEOmoz
Facebook Via SEOmoz’s Google Analytics Data
Email http://www.mailchimp.com
LinkedIn http://www.seomoz.org/blog/category/33
Slideshare http://www.seomoz.org/blog/category/33
Scribd http://www.scribd.com/doc/49640820/SEOmoz-the-Future-of-Great-Links-Feb-11
StumbleUpon http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/www.seomoz.org/
Hacker News http://news.ycombinator.com/
Hacker News Hacker News is one of our top sources for new visitors, but it’s very spiky and has extremely low engagement.
Quora http://www.quora.com/Rand-Fishkin/answers
Quora As Quora’s traffic spiked into 2011, SEOmoz benefitted from the questions we’d answered on the site – a good reason to participate in “up-and-coming” inbound marketing channels
Conferences + Events http://randfishkin.com/blog/57/why-im-a-conference-whore
The Inbound Marketing process we useIn 4 Simple Steps
Step #1: Discover Find inbound marketing paths that look promising and make a list. Step #2:Test Invest a few days/hours building authentic value in that niche/sector. Step #3: Measure Use your web analytics to track primary + second-order impact Step #4: Repeat Throw out low ROI projects; repeat high ROI ones.
News/Media/PR SEO Email Research/White Papers Blogs + Blogging Infographics Comment Marketing Social Networks Online Video INBOUND MARKETING!(AKA “free” traffic sources) Forums Webinars Word of Mouth Social Bookmarking Podcasting Direct/Referring Links Type-In Traffic Q+A Sites http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-rich-get-richer-true-in-seo-social-all-organic-marketing
Results:Traffic & Financial Data
Traffic 2007 - 2011 In February, 2011, Moz+OSE had1,000,000 visits combined for the first time.
Traffic Distribution March 14, 2010 – March 15, 2011
Software Revenue at SEOmoz: 2007-2011
Q+A Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder, SEOmoz ,[object Object]

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The Story of Moz: 1981-2011