Martech Challenges – Digimind Interview
At Saas Advisor, we aim to clarify the complex and constantly evolving MarTech market. That’s why we created the Martech Challenges. The Martech Challenge is a contest which compare the best Marketing Technologies under actual conditions of use. This competition will be judged by a panel of experts from global brands and agencies and the results are expected at the beginning of october. For more information about the Martech Challenges, click here.
On this 1st Edition we address the Social Listening segment. We interviewed each software company participating in the contest. For Digimind, Aurelien Blaha Chief Marketing Officer answered our questions.
Martech Challenges – Digimind Company background and particularities
What’s your role inside the Digimind Team?
Hi, I’m Aurelien Blaha, the Chief Marketing Officer at Digimind. I joined quite recently (September 2018), but I’ve known about the company for a while (circa 2009). In past experiences, I was a Competitive Intelligence professional for three years and then a Social Media Manager for another three years. As these two functions are the bread and butter of Digimind’s business, I can easily relate to our customers. This business environment is very familiar to me, and I enjoy being involved in these professional communities.
Can you tell us about your organisation?
Digimind was founded in Grenoble, France in 1998. We now have offices across EMEA (Paris, Grenoble, Rabat, Madrid), Americas (New York, Buenos Aires), and APAC (Singapore, Manila). We have 230 employees with approximately 25% in R&D, 45% in sales & marketing, and 20% in customer care. We proudly serve 600+ clients, including global brands such as Canon, Macy’s, Asus, Lenovo, Lexus, and agencies including Dentsu Aegis, Ogilvy, and MRM//McCann. In terms of market recognition, we’ve been consistently acclaimed by users (G2 reviews) and analysts (Forrester, Gartner) since 2016.
As the Chief Marketing Officer, I manage a global team of 20 marketers across Paris, Rabat, New York, and Singapore. We cover pretty much all aspects of B2B marketing, from lead generation to account-based marketing, and product marketing. We use nearly all online channels (EDM, SEO, SEA, organic, and paid social…) and offline events (tradeshows, conferences, User Clubs, and our own series of events called Socialize). We also pay attention to localize our content and segmentation to each region we cover (EMEA, North America, Latin America, and APAC), so we do a lot of A/B testing, for that matter. After all, we are marketers talking to other marketers, which gives the marketing team a good challenge 🙂
For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about the history of your company?
Digimind started more than 20 years ago, in 1998, at a time when the web was practically silent. The challenge at the time was to help our customers find the relevant pieces of information in a world with minimal available information. Thereafter, you know what happened. The volume of data available on the web grew exponentially, and by the end of the 2000’s, social media emerged as a significant open source of information for businesses. The mission was still the same though: helping our customers find the relevant pieces of information, but this time among overwhelming amounts of information.
For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your positioning?
Our mission is simple: we help our customers understand the world as it is. We mean this in two ways. First, we help companies realize that they need to listen outside their four walls, if they want to stay competitive in their market. Today, if companies don’t listen to consumers, competitors, and the market trends, they are turning a blind eye to a significant chunk of reality.
However, if you only use the search engines from the platforms (Google, Facebook, etc.), you will find yourself locked into echo-chambers of content, because the AI of these platforms includes bias in the results they show you. In addition to helping you filter out the noise, Digimind levels all sources of content so that you can run analysis on the closest description of reality. This is showing you the world as it is.
I personally believe that most players in the social listening space are lacking convictions. We wrote this Manifesto that expresses where we’re coming from, where we’re headed, and how we want to help:
20 years ago, the web was a world of silence.
Today, we live in a world where everything is connected: businesses, brands, consumers.
We have access to a breadth and depth of information unimaginable before.
And yet, it feels impossible to understand the world as it really is.
We get trapped by fake news, locked in echo chambers of content. We’ve wasted too much time filtering out the noise, and analyzing the wrong data.
Technology gets in the way, when it should empower us.
Imagine a new way to reveal insights, learn from the past, understand the present, and anticipate the future. Simple, yet powerful.
An AI-powered solution, able to answer your questions and give recommendations. Connected with your trusted sources of information and your existing work environment, seamlessly.
It’s time to get access to the full picture of your brand, of your competition, and of your markets.
To reconnect the outside world with the inside of your organization. And turn insights into action.
Now you can understand the world as it is. With Digimind.
What business problems do you solve with your tool?
Last year, we completed a thorough study across all our clients to understand for which business problems they use Digimind. We boiled these down to 6 “Business Solutions”:
- Brand Protection: measure brand reputation, detect and anticipate crises, and analyze brand perception to adjust your brand strategy.
- Competitive Intelligence: develop a hive of actionable data, insights, and analytics for both known competitors and new entrants to tune your strategy and identify positioning gaps.
- Consumer Insights: analyze mentions about your brand to innovate, differentiate, and deliver what customers desire.
- Trend Tracking & Innovation: be the first to know weak signals and new trends so you can stay one step ahead of the market.
- Influencers Identification: from micro-influencers to key opinion leaders, find the right partners to drive brand awareness and customer engagement.
- Campaign Analysis: maximize and evaluate campaign impact and ROI across marketing, communications, and customer experience teams with accurate and timely metrics and insights.
Digimind Features and product roadmap
Can you tell us about your different products and services? (vendor part)
Our Products include:
- The Digimind Platform: core functionalities to collect data from web and social sources, organize the information, analyze, and share the results
- Digimind AI Sense: our NLP and machine learning combined technology for auto-tagging, visual listening, sentiment analysis, and more to come
- Optional apps: Historical Search (up to 24 month of historical data), Top Search (search results meta engine), Analytics (for owned media), and a new Influencers & Audiences app
Our Professional Services include:
- Training and setup (mandatory and included in every package)
- Consulting (optional, on-demand or year-round project management)
- Insights (optional, on-demand or year-round analysis and reports)
Which are Digimind main functionalities?
The main functionalities of the Digimind social listening platform are structured across 5 modules:
- Listening: listen to conversations on social media
- Top Reputation: monitor what people look for on search engines
- Analytics: assess performance of owned social profiles
- Dashboards: create customized display of your preferred metrics and KPIs
- Panorama: visualize a summary of key data on your platform
For the Martech Challenges, what is your killer feature?
We’re particularly proud of our 5W user experience that is unique to Digimind. The 5Ws facilitate the reading and analysis of the information for the end-user across What, Where, When, Who and How facets. This navigation is common to all apps in the Digimind platform, so the end-user is kept in a consistent navigation experience. Our users love the ability to easily deep dive into any topic, and compare different data sets using the 5Ws.
We’re going to have another killer feature based on AI Sense later this year, so stay tuned 🙂
What are your onboarding processes? (Services part)
The Digimind onboarding program includes:
- Simple set up process for new users
- Pre-built industry-specific query lists
- Pre-built dashboards, focused on business needs and social media impact measurement
- Full training for basic and advanced users
The onboarding program can be delivered in English, French, Spanish, German, Bahasa (Indonesia), and Chinese. Trainings can be delivered on-site or online, as single-client or multiple-client classrooms.
How do you measure the onboarding success?
First, we make sure that customer success KPIs are well defined before starting the project! This step is often overlooked by first-time users, but is critical to measure the success of a project. Once the KPIs are defined, we will track usage metrics of the platform (e.g. number and growth of active users, usage of the reporting tools…) to assess whether the setup and training have proved effective.
For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your success stories?
There are plenty! Rather than a long text description, let me share with you two of our most recent customer feedback: how United States Postal Service is doing Business Intelligence (from Social Media Week NYC 2019), and how AXA is creating content that drives brand loyalty and customer retention.
How do you support your customers?
We’ll take any channel our customers prefer to contact us with (email, phone, chat, or social networks) and redirect it to our support team. We have offices around the globe so we can support global clients on a 24h “follow-the-sun” kind of support if needed.
How do you help your clients about their data exploitation?
We offer three levels of consulting and analysis help depending on the customer’s available resources and skills:
- Some clients prefer to be autonomous on the platform, because they have tech-savvy resources available. In this case, we will provide basic training and less frequent check-ins of the project status.
- On the other side of the spectrum, some clients have particularly limited time or don’t possess the skills to run full-blown analyses. In addition to turnkey setup, we provide extensive analysis reports, regularly or on-demand.
- Finally, there is an intermediary level where the client can be autonomous most of time, but can ask for assistance on certain occasions (e.g. crisis management, unexpected workload, etc). In this case, Digimind will provide adhoc analysis reports.
How do you integrate new features inside your tool? Every week, every month, quarter?
Most new features are being directly integrated for all users on a monthly basis. More significant releases (e.g. brand new modules or AI-powered features) are first being trialed in beta with a limited set of users, before being deployment as a general release.
How do you integrate customer feedback into your features?
We track customer feedback all year long with NPS and survey tools (with Delighted), as well as usage metrics tools (with KissMetrics). This is complemented with in-person feedback, received by our account managers, and by product and marketing teams during our User Clubs. This feedback is processed and prioritized (with UserVoice) by R&D to feed our product roadmap.
Can you precisely describe your versioning policy? How do you inform your clients?
We use major and minor versioning numbers. We inform our clients by email on a monthly basis and through our User Clubs on a bi-yearly basis.
For the Martech Challenges, can you precisely describe your back data offer? What are the real opportunities?
Our historical data offering is made of two options:
- We offer historical data credits that can be acquired on an ad hoc basis, when you want to complement a new monitoring query with historical data. By default, we provide this for the prior 7 days (free of charge), but you can go up to 24 months (depending on the social network).
- We also offer Digimind Historical Search, which consists of a 24-month archive for the following media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums, Naver, news, Pinterest, TV, radio, Reddit, Tumblr, video, web, Weibo.
It is important to note that the 24-month archive of Digimind Historical Search is a key differentiator, as most competitors are limited to 12 or 13 months of backdata. With only 12 or 13 months of historical data, you do not have the capability to compare a trend year after year!
The data coverage is also wider, with 15 media types available. Last but not least, the way we collect the data is more comprehensive. Some listening platforms will only archive the results of queries from their clients, which is a limited set of what exists in reality, even if you extrapolate it. We randomly collect 10% of all sources we crawl, so the sampling results are much more reliable.
In terms of usage, the main advantage of historical data is that you can get results instantly, as you don’t have to wait for the data to be collected! Brands use Digimind Historical Search to quickly identify past trends, for instance to identify whether a yearly event has been growing over the past couple years. It’s also particularly useful for quickly identifying key concepts before setting up a query. Agencies also use it to answer more rapidly to pitches and to better prepare for meetings with future clients, thus increasing their conversion rates.
Martech Challenges – Digimind Data and Vision of the future of Social Listening
Following the shutting down of the Instagram API, how to reassure your customers about the collect and the exploitation of the data from social media?
The Instagram API was not shut down, so to speak. It is true that the level of access to open data has changed over time though, and will likely continue to evolve as the world of social media continues to learn from success and mistakes. That being said, we always make sure to maximize the collection of open data whenever possible for the benefit of our customers.
What is your vision about the customer voice?
Customer voice is key for any company that wishes to thrive in the current business environment. Companies who have been neglecting customer voice struggle with the new entrants of the digital economy, especially with the now well-known process of “uberization”.
Usually, most of the incumbent companies are in denial with the changes in expectations from their customers. They figure out too late about the new entrants disrupting their market with new customer experiences and business models. This is why not only listening to customer voice is so important, but also watching competitors (both known competitors and new entrants) and identifying market trends.
With which other tools can Digimind be plugged?
Digimind can connect with many tools. These include CRM (Salesforce, HubSpot) for lead generation, customer support tools (Zendesk, Touchflows), and BI/dataviz tools (Google Data Studio, Tableau, Domo) for sharing insights within the enterprise. The complete directory of 25+ integrations can be found here.
Can you tell us about your API management policy?
We have an open and documented API, which can be used by other software vendors or our clients (brands, or agencies serving brands) when they want to integrate internal systems. The API documentation is available to our users from within the Digimind platform.
What is your vision about visual listening?
Digimind has integrated visual listening as early as 2016, first through a partner (Ditto Labs), and then by using our proprietary machine learning engine, Digimind AI Sense. Visual listening is a critical practice for brands who wish to get a comprehensive collection of their brand mentions across texts and images, especially in the context of sponsorships where ROI needs to be backed by accurate data. Some brands also use visual listening to identify counterfeit products, which has proven especially effective when used over dark web sources. Of course the needs for visual listening will continue to increase, as more and more visual content is being published and searched for everyday(e.g. visual search from Pinterest, eBay, Google and Amazon).
What is your vision about review ratings?
Reviews are an essential channel to gather customer experience and post-purchase feedback, enabling our clients to benchmark their products and services. Digimind has integrated Reviews since 2016 and has been crawling thousands of review websites (Yelp, Glassdoor, Google, TrustPilot, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Lazada…). Each collected review is viewable and clickable so that teams can interact, analyze, and address the reviews.
What is your vision about stories and ephemeral web?
Digimind can collect stories from business Instagram accounts (with credentials); however, by definition, the content is ephemeral, meaning we can not archive it. Because of this, social listening on the ephemeral web will likely be more about quantitative data (reach, engagement, exits on stories…) than qualitative analysis.
How often are your software used through data consulting companies?
Data consulting companies and agencies account for about 30% of our global revenue. Most recently, we’ve been working with Dentsu Creative Agencies and the Effectiveness Partnership (a consultancy based in London) to create the Dynamo Brand Index.
How did you integrate the new legislation related to GDPR? How do you manage the privacy protection?
We allow anonymization of personal data wherever necessary (depending on the countries where the data is collected). Our management of GDPR and privacy protection are detailed in the Terms of Service available to our users on the platform.
Besides winning the Martech Challenges 😉 which are your objectives for 2019/2020?
First, we hope to continue delighting our users. We have fantastic features coming up soon that will raise the bar of how AI is used in this space. We want to continue improving our products and services and keep gaining more trust with our customers. Compared to other players, who are heavily financed by external VC funding, we won’t lead the market in size, but we can lead by trust. Our goal is to become the most trusted vendor in this competitive space, where the churn rate has been historically high.
Then, we plan to continue our international expansion. Regions like APAC and Latin America have been tremendously growing in 2018 and so far in 2019. We will serve more local clients in these regions, as well as global clients that we can support across different time zones and languages.
For the Martech Challenges 😉 are you planning an IPO?
Nope, at least not in the foreseeable future. Take note: Digimind has been self-financed and profitable since 1998. Unlike most of our competitors who rely on external VC or public funding, we remain independent and are proud to do so. For our clients, this financial stability over time has been a guarantee that our products are not subject to be acquired by another company, merged, or even killed at some point. Some of our customers have been with us for a couple of decades, and we will strive to continue the journey with them for many more! 🙂
For the Martech Challenges, how do you see your market’s future?
Clearly, 2018 has been a turning point in the social media scene and, by extension, for players in the social listening space. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to GDPR raising awareness in privacy concerns for the general public, the access to publicly open sources of social data will likely shrink in the future. That being said, even if access to data reduces, the global volume of social data will continue to grow. This means there will still be a strong need for filtering and making sense of the vast amounts of social data.
Now, what are the options for vendors in the social listening space? After discussing this with Forrester’s Senior Analyst, Jessica Liu, I agree with her prediction that there will be three options for players in this space:
- The Social Media Suites path: in this scenario, some social listening players will expand their functional coverage to go beyond listening and cover publishing, engagement, ads managements, etc. Digimind’s core competency is listening, and we prefer to continue focusing on listening for the benefit of our customers, rather than try to scatter in all directions. When a customer wants to complement social listening with other features, we work with partners like Hootsuite or Socialbakers.
- The Consulting path: in this scenario, some vendors will increase their offering of services (consulting, market research, analysis…) compared to the offering of technology. This is the path that Ipsos has taken with the acquisition of Synthesio, for instance. Even if we provide professional services and analysis services, we remain first and foremost a technology provider and intend to continue doing so.
- The Business Intelligence path: social intelligence should especially be considered as one source of information and analysis among others, as the access to social intelligence might shrink in the future. This path is clearly the most relevant and natural one for Digimind, because we’ve been doing web intelligence since 1998, way before social media even emerged! That’s why our coverage not only includes social intelligence, but also competitive intelligence and market intelligence. This is why Digimind is strategically positioned to grasp the full picture and help our customers understand the world as it is 🙂
Thank you Aurelien for answering our questions for the Martech Challenges.
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