Enquisite is a newly launched search engine marketing company which offers marketers a unique solution to address their customer acquisition needs. For businesses that rely heavily on online traffic, Enquisite’s organic search marketing innovation promises to address an important gap in search marketing: driving more of the right organic search traffic.
paidContent just did a story on how paid search spend is slowing down as advertisers figure out that organic search results drive a much more significant portion of their traffic. A Hitwise report quoted in the piece claims that “the share of search traffic to websites generated from paid listings has dropped to about 7.25 percent over the last four weeks, down from 9.8 percent during the same period a year ago. The market research firm notes that paid clicks from searches for brand name terms—such as Home Depot and Orbitz— saw especially sharp drops.”
Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim points out that these major advertisers are most likely relying more heavily on organic traffic.
Well, thus far, organic search marketing via SEO has not exactly been a science. CMOs have been leery of paying fees to SEO agencies and consultants without the ability to measure what they’re getting in return. Bit of a black magic, the SEO industry has been viewed to be.
That changes with Enquisite. Through its suite of products like Enquisite Campaign, Enquisite Optimizer and Enquisite Auditor, customers can maximize their traffic flow from organic search results, and agencies can be completely transparent in demonstrating the progress and value of their work. They can even charge on a pay-for-performance basis, making organic search engine marketing a viable bucket in which CMOs can now safely allocate dollars into.
I’m not the only one who is excited about this company. Veteran entrepreneur Mark Hoffman has made Enquisite his next run. For those too young to remember, he founded the database technology pioneer Sybase, and served as its Chairman, CEO and President. He was also Chairman, CEO and President of Commerce One, which is considered to have established the software standards for electronic commerce. Over 11 years at Sybase, he grew the business to $1 billion in revenue, and Commerce One, at its peak, saw a market cap of $29 billion. Hoffman was also CEO and President of Everdream, a SaaS desktop management provider, which was acquired by Dell more recently.
Enquisite was spun off from founder Richard Zwicky’s prior venture Metamend, an SEO consulting boutique. The company has raised $12 million so far. The seed investment was made by Jeff Weber. In May 2008 a Series A round of $4 million was raised from The Entrepreneurs’ Fund III, Retro Ventures, Mark Hoffman, and other investors. In January 2009, $8 million was raised in a Series B round led by Castile Ventures and Formative Ventures as well as investors from their previous round. The company expects to raise additional VC or corporate funding at the end of 2009.
There are lots of companies like Omniture, Coremetrics, WebTrends and Marin Software in the web analytics sector, but none of these are focused on organic search. Yet 88% of Internet search traffic flows through organic search results, making it one of biggest untapped innovation opportunities in the domain of online marketing. SEO is mostly contracted as a professional services (flat fee) model but SEO agencies earn little compared to the value delivered.
Enquisite provides the technology to address the untapped organic side of the search market. It has the necessary technology to measure, report, demonstrate and audit the results without latency. Customers are assured of predictable results since the profitable business model mitigates client risk and maximizes performance. This way both the agency and advertiser are highly motivated. The pay for performance model where agencies get compensated for the value delivered, the company expects, will prove effective and make SEO fully measurable and transparent.
A low estimate of the TAM is $6 billion, which is a seventh of the total $42 billion paid search market. Enquisite targets large sites which depend heavily on traffic for their business. These are generally in segments like travel, insurance and online retail. Customers include sites like Viator.com, as well as agencies like Metamend, Bruce Clay, ZaaZ and Netconcepts. The company leverages agencies as its main channel.
Still fairly new, Enquisite estimates 2009 revenues to be approximately $1-2 million. This figure is expected to reach $15 million in 2010. To date, the company has captured over 270 million search referrals, and over 2.9 billion page views from nearly 1,200 unique sites using the platform. Some customers like Viator have seen a 300% improvement in natural traffic since they began using Enquisite.
CMOs looking for strategies for effective and cost-effective customer acquisition must pilot Enquisite. Instead of spending advertising dollars on newspaper and magazine ads, focusing on acquiring more organic search traffic as a key pillar of advertising strategy should become mainstream in the next 12 months.
Following my extensive coverage of vertical search as an emerging trend, I see organic as the next big frontier in search marketing, or even online marketing.
It may be hard to believe for tech types like us, but in 2008, newspaper advertising still consumed almost $35 billion of the US advertising spend, while TV took close to $70 billion. Now why on earth, if I were a CMO, would I be spending so much $$$ on avenues that are so wishy-washy, non-measurable, and downright ineffective?
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009