4 tools to skyrocket your demand generation strategy in 2015

By: Yoav Vilner

Yoav Vilner is CEO at Ranky, the startup-marketing team. He’s helping startups grow and then shares his insights regularly at Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, TheNextWeb, ReadWrite and VentureBeat.

Your marketing department wears many hats. Among them there’s the PPC hat, there’s the content hat (which is fit for a king), and there’s the demand generation hat – just to name a few. The demand generation hat is worn by anyone who is creating any sort of demand for your product or service.

So what exactly are these guys with the demand gen hats doing to increase demand for their products? Under the large umbrella of your demand generation strategy falls other inbound marketing strategies; blogging, conversion rate optimization, content marketing and more. Anything that’s going to create demand for your product to help your users through the sales funnel.

Here are four rules to improve upon within your demand generation strategy and tools that will help you to integrate all of your many hats.

1. Walk them through it, then measure.

Measuring all of your demand generation efforts will go a long way in telling you precisely what elements of your strategy are here to stay and which ones you’re ready to ditch. It’s important first to measure where your qualified leads are coming from, so you can invest more in those channels. The more frequently you measure, the more often you can optimize your strategy and capture more leads.

measure learn build 520x278 4 tools to skyrocket your demand generation strategy in 2015

Let’s take Nissan for example, who has approximately $930 million in advertising dollars to spend across 36 different media outlets. They utilize their analytics to research how many consumers make it from the awareness portion of the funnel into the transaction phase.

Once Nissan buys the ad time for each campaign, they measure consumer attitudes every week while the ad is running by online surveys. This helps the company calculate their payback by each individual media outlet. By measuring and optimizing frequently Nissan was able to slash their per-vehicle advertising cost by 35 percent.

Once measurement is all set-up, it’s of necessity to walk them through your desired CTA’s, funnels and any type of online process designed to convert them from random readers into paying customers. For that matter, Toonimo is a user guidance tool that uses an audio-visual layer to walk users through those funnels. The platform combines voice-over scripts with graphic elements that can be personalized to different type of users.

While analytic tools will help you to optimize and make the most out of your demand generation budget; it also helps you to show to others in the company that your resources are going to good use with improvements in ROI.

2. Fight to Keep Users Onsite

userretention 520x219 4 tools to skyrocket your demand generation strategy in 2015

For demand generation to work properly and most effectively, it’s important that your business has more than just an online presence. Even websites with outstanding content, and great presence online struggle to make money from their platforms. Demand generation addresses each individual customer’s needs to offer smart promotions in order to monetize your traffic.

To monetize traffic more effectively and have the opportunity to communicate directly with your customers keep your traffic stationed on your page, where they’re more likely to follow through with your CTA.

While many companies invest in social media campaigns to monetize their traffic, they’re essentially detracting from the main goal, which is on the webpage itself. The “onsite social networking” startup Spot.IM, launched by two serial entrepreneurs, keeps your readership in place without bouncing away. There’s no surprise that by keeping your traffic where your CTA is you’re more likely to monetize them.

3. The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is important in every aspect of business, but particularly when we’re talking about your demand generation strategy. Demand generation requires an ongoing discussion and relationship with your customers, so if you haven’t started yet you better start treating them like the royalty that they are.

Your communication with the customers must be based on rich knowledge and hard driven data. This data is used to create personalized content and conversations with your audience. Once you know their pain points, you can begin to speak to them on a more personal level and gain their trust, which can be further developed into high quality leads.

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If I could only explain to you how many of my emails get dragged directly into my trash bin every day, but I’m sure you know the feeling. Your customers want to be treated the way you want to be treated, so quit spamming them and provide them with relevant and useful information.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from my gym, usually those too go straight to the trash. This one however, didn’t come from ‘LA Fitness’ it came from Megan Dayan, one of the instructors at the gym so I was intrigued to open it. Just in time for my new years resolution, they sent a new class schedule and extended hours. The exact kick start I needed to get into shape. They just get me. They used their timing, my location, and even the name of my instructor to boost our relationship.

Marketo uses this data driven marketing as part of their secret sauce for demand generation. With the Sales 2.0 techniques and tools they know the demand generation funnel and cycle and optimally use this information to delve deeper into customer relationships and increase your ROI.

4. Don’t automate communication – be human

clone human 520x481 4 tools to skyrocket your demand generation strategy in 2015

Besides the fact that the email I received from Megan was extremely relevant to me at the time, the reason that I even opened it in the first place was because I saw a familiar name. To be honest, I didn’t even remember where I knew the name from at the time but I was inclined to open it because it was addressed from a personal account.

The trick here with personal emails is that you must follow up. If you don’t follow up with a personal email you may as well not have sent it out in the first place. Here, Hazel from Canva welcomes you personally to Canva with a simple and sweet message.

By responding to the email you’re assured to get a quick response from an actual person to help you. With such an influx of emails, I use a tool called Boomerangfor my Gmail account to make sure I follow up with certain emails, set reminders for future me, and clear out the rest of the clutter. Although human touch can be a huge advantage, we still need a bit of help being the best humans we can be.

Since your marketing team does wear so many different hats it’s important to show the payback for each of your efforts. This not only shows others that you’re credible and bringing in your return on investment, but it also helps you manage your own assets. It can be difficult keeping track of all of your different responsibilities as a marketer, but luckily we have many tools and resources to help us manage and improve all of our efforts.

Demand generation is an important part of your overall marketing strategy and it can constantly be improved upon, so keep up with these essential tips and you can always stay on top of your A-game.


9 lessons from products that went to market too soon


Pushing your product to market is about more than just making sure you’re ready. It’s about ensuring the market is ready, too. As a company, you have to hit that sweet spot, along with multiple other factors you may not have even considered.

Lucky for us — though not for them — there are some examples of products that went to market too soon that we can learn from. Rather than risk repeating these mistakes, I asked 10 entrepreneurs from YEC the following question:

What’s one good example of a technology product going to market too soon, and what can entrepreneurs learn from this failure?

Their best answers are below:

1. Geode

Maxwell Finn 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonThe Geode digital wallet was one of the first and most successful products on Kickstarter, but turned out to be a complete failure. It failed because they created a product that depended 100 percent on another company (Apple). A key piece of the Geode was a case, which was made to fit the iPhone 4s. Unfortunately, Apple released the iPhone 5 shortly after backers began receiving their Geodes, which rendered the product useless for many people. If you’re in the business of developing complementary products for other companies, make sure you understand and are in sync with their upgrade cycle. –Maxwell FinnLoot!

2. CrunchPad

Vishal Shah 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonSix months before the first iPad launched, a little-known tablet called the CrunchPad was thrown into the deadpool to never to see the light of day. In many ways, the CrunchPad prototype looked eerily similar to the iPad 1. There is no one reason why the product never went public, but there are critical lessons to be learned. Entrepreneurs must evaluate their risk appetite: If you’re developing a game-changing product, be prepared for significantly diminished odds of success due to an untested market coupled with technology risks. The returns, on the contrary, could be exponential. – Vishal ShahNoPaperForms

3. Friendster

Kumar 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonFriendster came out in 2002 before people were completely comfortable sharing their lives online. I always viewed their failure as a sign that it isn’t always essential to be the first one to do something. There are usually multiple chances to get into a new field — just ask Facebook. – Kumar AroraAroridex, Ltd.

4. WebTV

Phil Chen 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonIt seems like an afterthought now with Internet-capable TV’s or attached devices such as Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, etc. But in 1996, WebTV was doing the same thing before it was cool. Unfortunately, the ecosystem was not ready, there was a lack of broadband, and the legions of application developers that exist now but didn’t then made WebTV a little ahead of its time. The lesson to entrepreneurs is that timing often matters, even if you are a visionary. – Phil ChenSystems Watch

5. Apple Newton

Dave Nevogt 9 lessons from products that went to market too soon

The Apple Newton is to the iPad and iOS what homo habilis is to modern humans: a very old, limited — but at the time, revolutionary — ancestor. When the Newton came out it was innovative, but too expensive and very niched. The NewtonScript programming language was difficult to learn and expensive to implement. The lesson is that you have to create products that are priced to be reasonably affordable for most people, and that have low barriers to entry for developers so they’ll want to learn how to create apps for your product. – Dave NevogtHubstaff.com

6. Coin

Joshua Lee1 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonCoin promised to replace all of the credit cards in your wallet with just one, so I bought it. We’re now over a year out from when the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign successfully ended. The problem is all of the technology they used is now outdated. NFC technology isn’t built in. They were the first to promote the concept, but Apple Pay delivered faster. Many Coin customers have already canceled. –Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

7. Iomega Zip Drive

jared brown 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonThese little drives and their zip disks were great at the time, offering unparalleled storage. But they went to market without fixing a major problem first: A large percentage of them would fail. The drive head would misalign and clip the end of the removable media, making anything stored on it permanently inaccessible. The lesson is that if your product deals with data storage, you had better make sure it’s free of serious defects before going to market. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a large portion of your target market choosing more reliable alternatives. – Jared BrownHubstaff

8. Clinkle

Randy Rayess 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonClinkle advertised and marketed their product heavily over a year before they were ready to launch. They raised over $20M when they were still getting the core product together. What happened was that they hired too many people and got a lot of signups and media attention early on, such that when they actually launched over a year later, the excitement had died down. The main lesson is that you should not grow and hire quickly until you have product-market fit. – Randy RayessVenturePact

9. Sony’s SmartEyeglass

Miles 9 lessons from products that went to market too soonSony is now putting out a cheaper and “more affordable” version of Google Glass to the public, calledSmartEyeglass. The problem with this product going to market is that it’s not taking into consideration the low adoption rate of Google Glass itself. Consumers are still quite confused as to when and where it will be appropriate or necessary for them to use these smart glasses, and many simply see it as a fun and funny invention. From this, entrepreneurs should know to look towards other companies’ mistakes in the past and learn from them while putting out their own innovations. – Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

R.I.P. Selfie Stick

Podo’s a smartphone controlled camera that wants to kill the selfie stick

Podo lifestyle

There’s only one aspect of modern tech culture I hate more than the shrugging kaomoji (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and that’s selfie sticks. Which is why I was delighted to hear about Podo – a smartphone-controlled camera that could kill the damn things off.

The brightly colored, remotely-activated camera can stick to pretty much any solid surface, using a combination of a suction pad that’s exposed when you rotate a flap and a strong magnet. The sucker can be cleaned with water to refresh its stickiness and the flap is replaceable for when it finally loses its grip.

The camera itself hooks up to your phone to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth. There’s no buttons – you just double tap to turn it on and off – and your pictures are auto-orientated by a built-in accelerometer. It’ll capture stills, videos, time lapse and GIFs.


Podo was founded last year and has received $1.5 million in funding from Kima Ventures, PCH, Future Play, Seedcamp, Bon Angels and a collection of angel investors. But, as is par for the course with hardware projects these days, it’s launching the device with a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign.

Podo co-founder Eddie Lee tells TNW: “We always wanted to be on Kickstarter because you get people there who love technology and give really good feedback. When we go to retail and mass production in the autumn, we’ll have a good three months of people using it.”

A limited number of early Kickstarter backers will be able to get the device for $79 but most will have to stump up $89. The campaign ends in April and Podo says it’ll start shipping devices by August. The retail version will cost $99 when it launches later in the year.

Like a lot of startups, Podo was born out of an entirely different idea. Lee and his two co-founders, friends from their time at UC Berkley, were originally working on a really boring app idea. He says:

“Our original startup was a mobile app to show ads to people. Our first investor liked us a team but said we really needed to change our product. We sat down to work something out but it didn’t happen that way. We were taking lots of group photos and someone would always get left out. The idea of building hardware sprang from that.”

The team went on to take part in PCH’s Highway1 hardware accelerator, which involved mentorship and a visit to Shenzhen which gave them valuable insights into the modern manufacturing process.

Podo product 520x347 Podos a smartphone controlled camera that wants to kill the selfie stick

They knew they had to create a device that “makes taking pictures as easy as using your phone does.” That’s why Podo doesn’t feature any buttons, hooks up automatically once you’ve paired it with your phone and auto-orientates your snaps.

On the question of how Podo will survive its travels in people’s bags, Lee says his team have been putting it through its paces: “We are doing reliability tests with six feet falls onto concrete and it survives well. It’ll be fine in your bag. It’s also pretty water resistant. The only exposure is the USB connector but there’s a rubber cover there.”

I’ll have to wait to get my hands on a device before I can judge how robust the final article really is and how well it delivers on the promise of grabbing remote snaps but if it can shove the selfie stick into the closet of history, it’s got my vote.

Finally we have an explanation

This Is Why Your iPhone Can “Accept” Or “Decline” Some Calls, But Only “Slide To Answer” Others

For all those who, like me, have wondered this endlessly but never actually looked it up.


Have you ever wondered why your iPhone sometimes receives calls like this...
Andre Borges / BuzzFeed

… And sometimes like this.

... And sometimes like this.

Andre Borges / BuzzFeed

Ever wanted to decline a call and been driven to madness by the seemingly arbitrary lack of such an option?

Ever wondered WHYYY you can only “decline” certain calls but have to “slide to answer” others? WHY, iPHONE. WHY. WHY ARE YOU SO TEMPERAMENTAL, YOU INFERNAL DEVICE?

Ever wondered WHYYY you can only "decline" certain calls but have to "slide to answer" others? WHY, iPHONE. WHY. WHY ARE YOU SO TEMPERAMENTAL, YOU INFERNAL DEVICE?


So here’s the deal, pay close attention.

This Is Why Your iPhone Can "Accept" Or "Decline" Some Calls, But Only "Slide To Answer" Others

It doesn’t matter if you’re receiving a call from an iPhone or Android user. It doesn’t matter what time it is. It doesn’t matter if the contact is saved or not. It’s actually one remarkably simple thing.

This Is Why Your iPhone Can "Accept" Or "Decline" Some Calls, But Only "Slide To Answer" Others

If your iPhone is locked when you’re getting a call, you’ll get the slider.

If your iPhone is locked when you're getting a call, you'll get the slider.

Andre Borges

But if your phone is unlocked then you get the option to accept or decline the call.

But if your phone is unlocked then you get the option to accept or decline the call.

Andre Borges / BuzzFeed

Yep. That’s it. Armed with this knowledge, go forth and live a slightly less baffling life. You’re welcome!

This Is Why Your iPhone Can "Accept" Or "Decline" Some Calls, But Only "Slide To Answer" Others




Meerkat, the mobile live video-streaming service that we first wrote about three days ago, had something of a viral growth bump yesterday. Seriously, my iPhone lock screen was busy with notifications all day as new people signed up to the service and tried it for the first time.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening, and whether the service has longterm viability.

What is Meerkat?

Quick recap: Meerkat is a live video-streaming app for iOS that allows you to share what’s going on around you. Streams can’t be watched once they’re over – this is ‘ephemeral’ video. However, the person streaming can save the video to their phone afterwards, so they can later upload it to somewhere like YouTube if they choose.

Meerkat is tightly integrated with Twitter. A link to every stream you publish is tweeted out automatically, and you can see the profile pictures of people who are watching a stream, along with any likes and comments. These comments are tweets, as well as living natively within the app. It’s a beautifully-presented app but just remember that everything you share or write within the app is also tweeted.

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You can stream right away or schedule one for later if you want to plan for something you’ll be doing in the future.

There’s a leaderboard for points earned through using the app, although like Snapchat’s user scores, it’s not made immediately obvious what earns you those points.

Who is behind it?

Meerkat is made by San Francisco-based Life on Air, a startup that announced a $3.6 million raise last month and was previously known as Yevvo. The app is a stripped-down version of its other app, Air. Air offers Facebook logins and a native accounts system in addition to Twitter login, and allows you to see a ‘flashback’ image of streams you’ve missed, but it’s Meerkat that has clicked with users.

Why are lots of people signing up?

Viral amplification. The integration with Twitter means that your followers see when you try streaming for the first time. This can catch users out though, and the onboarding process that explains “Everything that happens on Meerkat happens on Twitter” (the ‘first rule of Meerkat’) isn’t necessarily as clear as it could be in explaining ‘all your streams and comments will be tweeted’.

Some people have put the app to interesting uses. Yesterday, Product Hunt CEO Ryan Hoover shared a sneak peek at forthcoming features his team has in the works; TechCrunch Co-editor Matthew Panzarino streamed live from Disneyland rollercoasters while his colleague Josh Constine discussed ideas he has for an upcoming thinkpiece about social media companies locking down their platforms.

2015 03 01 23.42.48 220x391 Why is live video app Meerkat suddenly popular, and can it last?     B DIsaeU0AAJ1UE 220x392 Why is live video app Meerkat suddenly popular, and can it last?

Of course, you can’t watch any of these streams back after the fact.

This all sounds familiar…

Mobile livestreaming is nothing new. Apps like Qik and Bambuser allowed you to stream video from a smartphone as early as 2007. However, low smartphone penetration and very limited data plans restricted those apps’ early growth.

Bambuser grabbed headlines during the 2011 and 2012 ‘Arab Spring’ when it was used by revolutionaries and blocked by the Syrian government. In 2011 Skype acquired Qik for $150 million and shut it down last year, but neither app became a household name. The day-to-day need for mobile livestreaming amongst a mainstream userbase just hasn’t been proven.

Why is Meerkat so tightly connected to Twitter?

One obvious reason must be the inherent viral amplification mentioned above, plus the ease of signing up to something for which you don’t need to create a new password.

There’s also a troll-fighting angle. Life on Air’s Ben Rubin told me on Twitterearlier “if the personal brand is on the table, everyone behaves nicely.” Still, that ignores the possibility of people setting up anonymous accounts to dish out abuse (already a big problem on Twitter).

So will Meerkat be a longterm success?

It’s too soon to say but the odds are stacked against it. The ‘ephemeral’ nature of its streams may possibly click with the Snapchat crowd, but the fact is that most people’s lives are pretty samey. You can only livestream video of you working at a desk for a few minutes before nobody cares any more.

Journalists may find it useful for streaming from breaking news events but because streams can’t be watched back later without being manually uploaded to another video hosting service, the case for this usage is limited.

Another current restriction is caused by the slightly wonky Twitter integration. Anyone can watch streams in a desktop browser without being logged into Twitter, but in a mobile browser you’ll be asked to log in before you can watch. This limits accessibility on the go, restricts the audience for any streams that may go viral and is something the developers should look at.

Any other risks?

Meerkat is entirely built on top of Twitter. Relying too closely on a third-party is notoriously risky, and unless the plan is to get the app acquired by Twitter as soon as possible, it risks being cut off from its users by a future API change or rendered unecessary if Twitter decides to build a live video feature into its own apps.

Life on Air always has the Air app as a contingency, but that isn’t the one everyone’s talking about. Meerkat is a little easier to get started with, has a more interesting name and a cute mascot. Don’t underestimate the impact of such seemingly minor differences.

Sometimes a simple idea can take on a life of its own by chance. Vine became a powerhouse of creativity thanks to people who found interesting uses for its looping videos. Life on Air will have to hope Meerkat finds a similar path


Google Plus


The announcement comes just a couple of days after Google’s senior VP of products Sundar Pichai said in an interview to Forbes, “I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area.”

0317 Horowitz E0561  1 Google+ split into Photos and Streams, Bradley Horowitz takes over as product head

In addition to separating photo management from Google+, the company will also distance its Hangouts communication platform from the social network, and develop all three independently.

It’ll be interesting to see just how the move changes the Google+ experience for users in the days to come. We’ve contacted Google for more information and will update this post when we hear back.


There’s been a lot of noise about Apple possibly building cars soon, and a new bit of information has surfaced to fan the flame even more.

Swiss blog Apfelblog reports that the company has listed vehicles in legal documents describing its activities in Switzerland:

“Vehicles; Apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water; electronic hardware components for motor vehicles, rail cars and locomotives, ships and aircraft; Anti-theft devices; Theft alarms for vehicles; Bicycles; Golf carts; Wheelchairs; Air pumps; Motorcycles; Aftermarket parts (after-market parts) and accessories for the aforesaid goods.”

Of course, the reality could be a lot less exciting than what these broad terms might have us believe. While people have been holding their breath for news of an Apple car, the only story we’ve been able to dig into is the Apple Watch acting as a key for your vehicle. It’s also possible that the company might test vehicles in the country.

We’ve contacted Apple and will update this post if we hear more.