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Deal Radar 2009: Enquisite

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th 2009

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, 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?

Recommended Readings:

Forbes Column 2008: The Gap In Google’s Defenses
Yahoo, Please Put Up A Fight (My guest article at GigaOm)
Google’s Achilles Heel (Another of my guest posts on GigaOm)

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009

. Jimmy Beans Wool
. EnerNOC
. GreenRoad
. AdvancedMD
. DecisionView
. EnergyWare
. Sungevity
. eMeter
. WaveMark
. Edutainment Resources, Inc.
. IntraLinks
. The Rubicon Project
. CollegeNET
. Central Desktop
. SnapMyLife
. Talend
. Adayana
. Vontoo
. OrecX
. CrossLoop
. Plain Black
. Shipwire
. Collaborative Software Initiative
. Open-Xchange
. Extentech
. Chaupaati
. Zoosk
. Mytopia
. Social Gaming Network
. Zynga
. MindTouch
. MuleSource
. Medsphere
. Greenplum
. VeraLight
. Kaltura
. Triveris
. Spiceworks
. SpineMatrix
. Nokeena
. Webtide
. Jivox
. xTuple
. Outspark
. concrete5
. Infinia
. UserVoice
. Vindicia
. Sonoa Systems
. SpotMixer
. SodaHead
. EnterpriseDB
. Enquisite
. Coverity
. Hydro Green Energy
. Zannel
. SoloHealth
. Marin Software
. InQuickER
. HealthEdge
. Hippo
. Tabula Digita
. checkMD
. GlobalSubmit
. Awarepoint
. KidZui
. AnyWare Group
. Critical Media
. Colosa
. Convio
. Life
. Publicity Guaranteed
. SharesPost
. Aravo
. RadarFind
. Offerpal
. Confidela
. HSA Global
. Skyline Solar
. Grab Networks
. Meteor Solutions
. Simply Hired
. ClearCount Medical Solutions
. iControl
. Rocket Fuel
. AirPatrol
. Lakshya Institute
. Elements Akademia
. InXpo
. Viralheat
. ChalkPad Technologies
. socialDeck
. IngBoo
. DubMeNow
. OrangeSoda
. NomaDesk
. SMS GupShup
. Reply!com
. Cellufun
. PSS Systems
. uTest, Massachusetts
. Kalypso
. Yola
. eXo
. Hydra
. AppSense
. Extrabux
. Bazaarvoice
. Clearwell Systems
. Barracuda Networks
. Eloqua
. Sheet Music Plus
. Nimsoft
. LiveOffice
. Jigsaw Data
. SugarCRM
. Trustwave
. Surgient
. AppRiver
. Proofpoint
. Apptio
. Silverpop
. InfoSoft Global
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Organic search marketing has been the main pillar of the SEM until the search results started to be highly unpredictable. If you see some site at 1st position, you client may not see it there.

We also have to factor in the cost of the SEO consultant/agency in the cost of traffic calculations. Organic is not 100% free traffic after all. However I totally agree that this converts better than the PPC traffic.


Arun Agrawal Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 5:29 AM PT

Great article about enquisite. Are there other similiar startups that are focused on building technology to help SEO?

Nitin Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 7:58 PM PT

Hi Sramana,

Are you talking about cloud software? Because Web CEO and other desktop software companies are leaders in this field – only not yet in the cloud.

Allen MacCannell Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 6:32 AM PT

You can call yourself the leader in the field, but I have never heard of you. The only other company with a significant product in this category is BrightEdge.

sramana Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 9:59 AM PT

We've talked before on another subject and exchanged emails. I can send you an analysis of who the main players are in my own industry. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding. You are an important person to know and be on the good side of. I hope you can see that, in this case, you've missed key players not the least of which are Covario and Web CEO and Link Assistant and SEOMoz.

Please do a Google search for the keywords SEO + Software. The leaders are there. Notice the absence of the 2 brand new start-ups you mention that just got US venture capital for being good at helping other companies get good keyword positioning. Even Covario is missing from the search results for SEO Software and they just got major US venture capital backing.

I hope you can see the irony in that.

That's not to say these 2 new companies you mentioned + Covario aren't great. And they are smart to target enterprise-level customer sales opportunities.

They just may not yet have enough back-links of their own to show up in keyword searches for SEO Software. This means they are not yet popular with the masses that do SEO (about 800,000 people worldwide do SEO on a constant basis).

Your article could have said that the SEO Industry was being "disrupted" by new start-ups and you could have even criticized the leader, Web CEO, for not yet having cloud software, but to say you've never heard of us only means you didn't Google "SEO Software", which ironically suggests that you feel organic Google search results aren't relevant to the study of an industry or the possible choice of a would-be SEO software buyer. =)

The leaders for SEO software for the desktop are Link Assistant, Web CEO, IBusinessPromoter and SEOElite. Our other new start-up competitor Covario is ahead of BrightEdge in the cloud based niche which we're not in just yet. They've just received a huge amount of US venture capital.

Allen MacCannell Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:25 AM PT


As I have told you in my email exchange with you, these two companies – Enquisite and BrightEdge, are trying to offer a far more comprehensive software suit in SEO for enterprises. With all due respect, the 3 companies you mentioned above have nothing comparable. I happen to know both these companies quite well. This is not to discount any of your achievements, and as I said earlier, we will be very happy to cover your company as well, so please file a Deal Radar pitch. I promise we will take the time to study what you do and publish a thoughtful analysis.

Thanks, Sramana

sramana Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 11:19 AM PT

The above article considers only US venture capital backed companies and not the highly profitable companies that have been in this field 10+ years. We have 760,000 installations with a significant amount of them as active users and many of those pay $249 for the professional version. We're the most successful IT company to ever come out of the Ukraine and SEO software is our business. To say that we no longer count because some US start-up just got $8M funding for entering our space…is ironic, especially considering your attitude in the MM Roundtable.

This start-up you mention has a great online back-link exchange. They're a great addition to a crowded market of software products that deal with the issue of back-links, regardless of the fact that they may have only temporarily jumped ahead of the traditional leaders. The cloud may be the future. All this speaks highly of Enquisite's prospects.

Any one of these established players can burst on the scene at any moment with an online version that exceeds the functionality of the 3 American start-ups (Covario made a bigger PR splash than BrightEdge and Enquisite) that have been getting so much press attention over the past two months.

So these hyped new start-ups…all have to watch what the established players in the desktop market are going to do.

And believe me, we are not knitting sweaters while lamenting how US venture backed start-ups are supposedly eating our lunch. We are the leader in number of users and we intend to stay that way.

Most SEO bloggers are well aware that Web CEO at is one of the 3 most popular and comprehensive SEO programs for the desktop. We're possibly still larger than BrightEdge despite their massive investment and their focus on the Fortune 500 with much higher prices than we charge normal SEO users.

Your analysis possibly correctly assumes that cloud software, that can be easily scaled for enterprise-wide collaboration, may ultimately be more useful than desktop software.

But the fact that a few start-ups stealthily jumped past the industry leaders shouldn't make it seem like those industry leaders weren't there to jump past.

Allen MacCannell Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:27 AM PT


Here are the pitching instructions for our Deal Radar series:

We will be happy to cover your company. It will help me and my audience learn more about your business.

Best wishes,

sramana Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 11:16 AM PT