Martech Challenges

Martech Challenges – Interview with Youscan

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. 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 YouScan, Tetiana Kutsa Global Marketing and Alexey Orap CEO and Co-Founder answered our questions.

Martech Challenges – YouScan background and particularities

Can you tell us about the history of your company?
We started YouScan back in 2010 in Kyiv with the founding team of five people based in a coworking space. After raising initial funding round from European seed-stage fund, The OpenFund, we were bootstrapping for a few years, iterating on our product and searching for a product-market fit. This way we have organically grown and become a leader of the SML space in the CIS region. In 2015, after raising a Series A round led by Swedish funds Kinnevik and Vostok New Ventures, we have boosted our growth, invested a lot in a team and our product (especially around AI-powered functions) and started an international expansion. We have also acquired one of our competitors, BrandSpotter, along the way.

What is your positioning? What business problems do you solve with your tool?
Our mission is to help companies become better by listening to their customers online.
We position ourselves as a « smart SML tool » for medium and big enterprise customers (consumer brands). We focus on delivering actionable insights from social media to the users instantly, with as little manual work as possible required from their side.
We realize that no users these days want all those charts and graphs. In fact, every user dreams that their software will be « a magic button, » which will do all the work itself!
As SML tools like ours analyze billions of mentions in social media, this ability to get instant value from the software becomes even more critical for users.
Our mission is to help them.
Our product is mostly used by the marketing and PR departments. It helps brands to find actionable consumer insights (including Visual Insights, with the help of our image recognition capabilities), do the marketing research, and manage their brand reputation.

For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your organisation and your product team?
Our product team consists of 25 engineers and is divided into four squads: Core Product, Data, AI, and Platform. Each squad is responsible for their part of the product, and they have a significant level of autonomy. We work together to define our objectives and key results for the next quarter, and then, they are free to decide on prioritization of specific tasks to find the best way to achieve these OKR’s. The job is to align all these processes around product vision to achieve our long-term strategic objectives. We continuously collaborate with other departments (Customer Success, Sales, Marketing, Moneyteam), and, using input from the customers and prospects to make our product vision always up-to-date and ensure the customers receive maximum value from our product.

Martech Challenges – YouScan Features and product roadmap

Can you tell us about your different products and services? (Editor part)
We have an only product in our product line – YouScan itself. But it provides a broad set of opportunities for Social Media Listening: from simple cases like reputation management to the deep consumer behavior analytics based on image recognition. A few months ago, we introduced one more subproduct included in our subscription plans – Mention Wall. It helps brands to interact with their audiences on events or engage your employees to see the insights from the consumers in the offices of brands.

Which are YouScan main functionalities’?
YouScan provides all the functionality for Social Media Listening. However, we do our best to provide maximum value to our customers with minimum routine work. Therefore, we focus on « instant value features » such as trend detection and smart alerts that allow you to see what’s happening in discussions about your brand instantly. Moreover, we continuously improve our Integrations platform that helps customers smoothly use the Data from YouScan in their workflows.

What is your killer feature for the Martech Challenges?
We believe our AI-powered assistant Aina is something that really makes our product unique. She incorporates all the AI features in YouScan: trend detection, topic detection, image recognition, sentiment analysis, NER, and so on, and represent them with maximum friendly interface. She helps you to see all the meaningful information about discussions in your topic instantly. She automatically identifies trending topics, and all their significant characteristics of the particular discussion: where does it happen, what audience is involved. But that’s not all, she is an amiable character, you will enjoy communicating with)

What are your onboarding processes? How do you measure the onboarding success? (Services part)
We have a set of onboarding videos and in-product tours that helps customers to understand how to work with YouScan. There are some expected actions to be done by users after onboarding. If they don’t do it, we have specific triggers in Intercom, and the users see an automated message where we explain to them what they’ll get when they use particular functionality.
Also, we conduct product demos for all new customers. But on these demos, we are trying to shift our focus from explaining how the product works to discovering customer needs and explaining all the opportunities they have. In general, we believe, the smarter the product is, the less onboarding needed, and we are improving our product in this direction.

How do you support your customers?
Customers can find the answers to almost any questions about our product in our knowledgebase that is maintained to be always up-to-date. Moreover, they can always use Intercom chat and ask support engineer any questions.

How do you help your clients about their data exploitation?
The product itself is crucial here. Our AI-powered assistant Aina do her best to provide the most actionable insights found in the enormous amounts of data. But she is not alone) Customer Success managers always try to understand the customer needs and they suggest the best approaches.

For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your roadmap? What will your next features be?
First of all, we will continue improving the capabilities of Aina. In the nearest time, she will be able to detect much more different types of insights from the data. As we already have powerful visual analytics technologies, they will be integrated with Aina as well. Aina will be able to tell you « Hey, here is the spike of photos with your brand and the dog on the beach. It is posted mostly by women in Florida ».
Secondly, Aina will be able to search insights not only in the data collected by search query but in general as well. For example, find the most trending visual context in California.
And we will continue improving our integrations. Aina will be there as well.

How do you integrate new feature inside your tool? Every weeks, every months, quarters? How do you integrate customer feedback into your features?
Features are continuously integrated into our product. We deploy many releases per day. All the improvements are based on the tons of customer feedback. To systemize it, we use a cloud-based product management tool ProductBoard. It allows connecting insights from the conversations with customers in Intercom with particular product ideas. Then, it is much easier to prioritize them. Moreover, when developers start implementing some feature, they see not just the specification, but all the conversations when customers were asking for it with all the details, why do they need it.

Can you precisely describe your versioning policy? How do you inform your clients?
As I mentioned before, the delivery of our product is base on « continuous delivery » process. We are trying to do the smallest possible interactions, in most cases, they are invisible to customers. But when they are visible, for example, when we uncover the new feature, we announce it directly in our interface. Users see the red dot that means that they have unread announcement at this moment.

Can you precisely describe your back data offer? What are the real opportunities?
We have the data from 2014. However, we were a local player in the early years. Therefore, for English language topics, we recommend collecting the back data not older than 12 months.

YouScan 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 medias?
We aim to be extremely transparent with our customers. Limitations are part of life. A few years ago, we had not this kind of data at all; now we have but with some restrictions. But we still have a massive amount of the data to find meaningful and actionable insights. We should make our bet on the quality of the insights that we can get from these data.

What is your vision about the customer voice?
We believe customers’ feedback, complaints, and opinions posted on social media is one of the most valuable sources of a « voice of the customer », due to its unbiased and real-time nature, as well as its vast volume. It should be seriously integrated into every businesses customer’s relationships strategy.

With which other tools can YouScan be plugged? Can you tell us about your API management policy?
We pay a lot of attention to third-party integrations, as we believe SML should not be a stand-alone application within the customer’s organization but should be well-integrated in their other business processes, for example, customer support, business analytics, etc.
Therefore, we have developed a lot of standard integrations with third-party CRM and helpdesk platforms, which allow you to connect YouScan to them in a few clicks using their APIs.
We also support webhook integrations, which would enable integration with practically any third-party software. You can already easily connect YouScan to such popular platforms as SalesForce, MS Dynamics CRM, ZenDesk, FreshDesk, and others. We also have a messengers integration, that allows users to stream mentions and alerts to their team Slack, or Telegram channels. This way, everyone stays on top of essential discussions related to the brand – they become integrated into the shared workspace.
Additionally, we have our native APIs (including our image recognition API), that allows customers to integrate YouScan data and the results of its analysis in their custom applications and analytical tools.

What is your vision about visual listening?
We think that good old text-based social media listening is not enough anymore. With a vast amount of visual content posted online in the form of photos and images, we found that up to 85% posts related to the brand are implicit – i.e., they don’t have a brand name mentioned in a post, but rather contain its logo in a picture.
So the ability to monitor images that contain brand logos is a must for popular consumer brands, but this is only a start.
With an extra ability to analyze visual context surrounding the brand (like scenes, objects, types of persons, activities, colors) with image recognition technology like ours, companies can uncover a whole new level of consumer insights by looking at the real-life consumption situations; and even narrow down such analysis to specific target audiences.
It also allows brands to detect visual content which can be potentially harmful to their reputation, and apply appropriate strategies to minimize risks (for example, alcohol brands do not want to be associated with driving or cycling, etc.). On a more positive side, there are tons of beautiful user-generated photos that contain brand logos, so brands can license them and use them in their marketing.
Use-cases for visual content analysis (besides basic brand logo detection) are vast, and we believe it will play a crucial role in SML going forward.

What is your vision about review rattings?
Reviews are crucial for many cases. Sometimes the product can be hugely successful or dead just because of ratings. Monitoring ratings can help you find issues in your product and build effective communication about the benefits.

How did you integrate the new legislation related to GDPR? How do you manage the privacy protection?
YouScan performs reasonable efforts to make the collection and security of information consistent with this all applicable laws and regulations, including GDPR. YouScan has implemented administrative, physical and electronic measures designed to protect personal data from unauthorized access. YouScan complies with all applicable laws in the event of any breach of the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal data and, where YouScan consider appropriate or where required by applicable law, notify authorities and users in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, insofar as it is consistent with (i) the legitimate needs of law enforcement or (ii) any measures necessary to determine the scope of the breach and restore the reasonable integrity of the data system.
The following key principles are enshrined in the GDPR and Data Protection legislation are fundamental to the YouScan’s data protection standards. In its capacity YouScan ensures that all personal data shall:

  1. be obtained and processed fairly, lawfully and transparently (Fairness, Lawfulness & Transparency);
  2. be obtained only for one or more specified, legitimate purposes (Purpose Limitation);
  3. be kept safe and secure (Integrity & Confidentiality);
  4. be kept accurate, complete and up-to-date where necessary (Accuracy);
  5. be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose(s) for which the data were collected and processed (Data Minimisation);
  6. not be kept for longer than is necessary to satisfy the specified purpose(s) (Storage Limitation);
  7. be managed and stored in such a manner that, in the event a Data Subject submits a valid Subject Access Request seeking a copy of their Personal Data, this data can be readily retrieved and provided to them.

Besides winning the Martech Challenges 😉 Which are your objectives for 2019/2020?
We have just introduced our AI-powered assistant – AINA, and we plan to double down on delivering more and more « smart » AI-powered capabilities in our product, in line with our product vision. We already have cutting-edge technology for trends detection, image recognition, and smart alerts, which we are going to improve further to deliver exceptional value to our worldwide customers.

For the Martech Challenges 😉 How do you see your market’s future?
The social media landscape is changing at a rapid pace, with existing players experimenting with new formats, new players emerging on the market (TikTok is a recent example), and of course, data and privacy restrictions which play a more prominent role now. All this directly affects the business of SML vendors, of course. It is never boring!

We believe that the market will be evolving in these ways:

  1. We’ll see a continued trend for consolidation, as international customers require from the vendors to provide the cutting edge technologies, along with global and regional coverage. BrandWatch and Crimson Hexagon merger last year is a prominent case here.
  2. Data and privacy restrictions will drive the need to develop better technologies to uncover consumer insights within de-personalized data. We believe that AI-powered image recognition capabilities will play an important role here.

Tetiana, Alexey, thank you very much for kindly answering our questions for the Martech Challenges.

Jonathan Charbit

Jonathan Charbit

Fondateur de Saas-Advisor

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