Welcome to Spokal’s Startup Spotlight Series – A series that features brilliant startups from all around the world and takes an inside look at the wins, the loses, the ups and downs, the struggles and the successes of what it takes to be part of a startup.
A Little Bit About Mention
Mention is a French startup founded in 2012 and headed by 5 founders, Edouard de La Jonquière (Capgemini), Thibaud Elzière (fotolia.com), Quentin Nickmans (cofounder of efounders), Arnaud Le Blanc, and Didier Forest.
Mention is a real-time media monitoring application that combines web and social networks. With 250,000 users in 140 countries, Mention targets the growing population of community managers in Fortune 500 to Fortune 5,000,000 companies.
It’s a service that’s the first of its kind, and it’s making huge waves in the world of internet marketing.
I came across Mention when I was looking for a way to track my social media mentions for both Spokal, and some freelance work that I was doing for a number of online publications. I fell in love with the concept immediately, and as soon as I started using the product I found some amazing conversations that were happening that I had no idea about.
It was fascinating to see some of the conversations about me that never reached me. But it’s also been really interesting to watch how businesses utilize this tool. I’ve seen it used to improve customer service, provide better customer support, track competition, and just give a WOW experience. One awesome example is this experience from Intercom: “Thanks to Mention, we found a meetup where people were having an Intercom install party and were able to send some beers to them.”
Mention makes a business almost omnipresent on the web, which allows us to take advantage of all possibly avenues for engagement.
Curious to know more about Mention? Here we go!
Do you focus only on inbound marketing tactics, or do you implement some outbound too?
“At Mention, we mostly do inbound tactics at the moment. It works for us because the volume is huge and the costs aren’t. Outbound is usually the other way around. However, as we start moving up the enterprise ladder and going after larger accounts, we’ll gradually start including more outbound marketing.”
Your blog is great! A lot of your content is really fresh and you can’t find it anywhere else – How do you decide what content to create?
“We’re very data-driven and choose topics empirically. We’ll take a look at existing content and spend some time in our analytics looking at which content works and which doesn’t, for each goal that we have. We build the strategy for future content based on that. “
One of my all-time favorite posts from Mention that gave me an “aha!” moment was “How We Track the Hardest Names Online, Starting with Our Own“. It felt like Mention had literally read my mind and created a piece of content based on what I was thinking.
The issue with Mention, when you first start using it, is that if you have a common name (like moi!) you get mentioned a lot. But, you know, it’s not actually about you. So what happened was my feed was getting jammed with alerts about hundreds of “Sarah Burkes” that had nothing to do with me. I thought this was a serious issue with the product, until “How We Track the Hardest Names Online, Starting with Our Own” popped up in my feedly feed and I suddenly the true power of this tool was revealed to me.
For me, this was a prime example of a business that was acutely aware of the issues that their customers were facing, and set out to solve that problem with content.
I see that you have a bunch of people guest posting on your blog – How do you encourage people to write for you? What’s the benefit?
“Our blog is very visible in the SaaS B2B environment. So for bloggers in our space, it’s a really attractive medium for their content. Posting for us will expose them, their business, and their content to a large, targeted audience. “
Mention have managed to snap up some pretty awesome bloggers for their blog, and more than once I’ve found myself on the Mention blog reading fascinating guest posts. Some of my favorite guest posts have really shed some light on how other startups work (something that I’m obsessed with, and I know there are thousands in the same boat!).
- How Close.io Closed $585 in Monthly Revenue from 1 Tweet by Close.io’s co-founder and CEO Steli Efti
- How Mention Helped Me Win Friends and Influence People at Ptengine by Jeff Deutsch, the Marketing Director for Ptengine
Are there any other startups or businesses that you look to for inspiration? And, if so, what about them inspires you?
“We’re most impressed by those who manage to create cool B2B products, something that’s only been really possible recently. Slack is a great example – they made work software cool and desirable. That’s not easy! This is also true of InVision, Stripe, Zapier, and others.”
It’s clear that Mention is a product-first, marketing-second type of a company. Rather than be inspired by a company’s marketing, it’s about the value of the B2B product/service that they provide. In other words, they focus on what’s behind the curtain.
In an interview that we did with Dave Nevogt, founder and CEO of Hubstaff, he mentioned the same kind of priority:
“I think this marketing first-attitude can still succeed in some industries, and back in 2003 it may have applied to all industries. But now it’s 2014, and I think the rules have changed drastically (especially in software).”
Since then, I’ve become acutely aware of the businesses that I only know of by their blogs, and the businesses whose product/service comes to mind (possibly because of their blogs, or possibly due to the amazing service/product that they offer). What’s clear here is that businesses should always focus their attentions first and foremost on the value they offer their customers through their product and/or service, and blogging (or any other marketing technique) should be used to highlight that product and/or service.
By being inspired by a businesses product/service over their marketing, Mention gives us a subtle reminder of what’s important.
If you had to only use one marketing medium (blogging, PPC, webinars etc) for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
“Does growth hacking count as a medium? If it does, we would go with that. PPC is too dependent on search engines in the long run, so we’d stick with email for outbound. For inbound, we’d go with blogging.”
What does growth hacking, email and blogging have in common? They don’t cost a dime.
Since starting the Startup Spotlight series, it’s clear that startups like Mention are successful in part because they focus on marketing tactics that are long-term and sustainable. PPC isn’t, so they dismiss that immediately as not being a strategy they can rely on (even if it is one that we can occasionally use!).
The way Mention works is so revealing about how the web is responding to a business – what do businesses tend to learn about themselves using your software?
“They learn how often people talk about them without talking to them: over 30% of the discussions happening about them online don’t include a direct mention or their handle (source).”
As one happy customer says, “Mention allows us to leverage conversations that are usually drowned out on the Internet.”
What’s been the biggest surprise (or challenge!) for you as a CEO of a startup?
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and tons of effort to get your company where you want it to go. Even if we’re focusing on quick wins and short term results, I always need to think long-term.”
Key Takeaways From Mention:
- Inbound is a long-term and cost efficient marketing strategy
- Use data to inform your content strategy
- Guest blogging has great benefits for both writers and the blog
- 30% of the discussions happening about your business don’t include your handle
Want To Read More From Mention? Top Picks:
- The B2B World Doesn’t Need Any More Boring Content
- Make It Catchy: Get Your Articles Shared
- 10 Key Elements for a Truly Inspiring Blog