Optify, Emerging from Stealth, Shows Off Software to Measure Sales and Marketing on the Web
Lead generation. B2B marketing. SEO. Fuh fuh fuh.
Forget all these buzzwords. You want more customers? Talk to Optify. This Seattle startup, which came out of stealth mode yesterday, doesn’t have all the answers, but it does have what looks to be a pretty useful software product for marketers who want to track, organize, and improve their sales leads and results in a new way. Especially their results.
Optify is the brainchild of Brian Goffman, a former venture partner at Madrona Venture Group in Seattle, and Erez Barak, a veteran of Hewlett-Packard and Mercury Interactive. Optify’s customers so far include the Wall Street Journal, LexisNexis, Microsoft, and a slew of other companies, including Seattle-area stalwarts Bocada, Concur, Marchex, and SonoSite, and up-and-comers like AdReady, Smartsheet, and Skytap. Optify began in 2008 and was funded by Madrona and angel investors to the tune of $2.75 million last July. The company has 20 employees—and a few open positions in its own sales and marketing department.
Goffman and Barak have built a sophisticated software engine that helps corporate marketers tell, for example, which visitors to their website are most likely to buy their products—so their marketing team can focus on those potential customers, and better align themselves with the sales team. Optify’s software and dashboard interface weaves in technologies like search engine optimization, social media and e-mail features, and precise, real-time Web analytics.
Optify is seizing on the Web-based trend to gather data and measure everything that wasn’t possible in the old days when print publications and broadcast television ruled the media landscape. Those operations are struggling to show exactly how many people are getting exposed to advertising content, and how many are acting on it. Not so on the Web—and across many industries. “Marketers need to be able to show results,” Goffman says.
That means if they’re running promotions on Twitter, or blogging, or pursuing various customer leads, they want to be able to report exactly how that is translating into new sales. Barak echoes the sentiment, which makes a lot of sense. He says customers are telling him that things like search engine optimization are important, but “make sure you’re connecting it to the business impact. Get me more high-quality leads, and connect it to [sales] performance.”
It’s certainly a crowded field, but Goffman says Optify’s main competition to this point has been manual work, marketing consultants, and companies that focus on smaller pieces of the puzzle, like e-mail campaigns or small businesses. A unified marketing platform has “not been done with the simplicity we’ve done it, and with our out-of-the-box capability,” he says.
Which is not to say all the marketing problems have been solved. “There are things marketers do that we don’t manage. But we can track all their traffic sources. Long term, marketers want one application to do everything,” Goffman says. “That’s where we’re heading.”
One surprise is that Optify is selling to bigger companies than it originally expected to this early. Goffman says he thought they would sell to a larger number of small companies. But Optify has adjusted to building its software for big websites that get lots of traffic. He says the key challenges are to keep getting great people to work for the company, and to stay focused—pretty standard stuff for a young startup.
“In a fast moving market, you have to really pick your spots,” Goffman says. “And the fundraising environment is still tough. It’s a haves and have-nots world.”
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