Tech Adoption Summit Session Recaps

Tech Adoption Summit Session Recaps

On November 7, LSA hosted the second Tech Adoption Summit in San Francisco. It was an exclusive, c-level event focused on the future of SMB technology adoption and the implications for technology providers and sales channels. The following are summaries and links to individual session posts.

SMB Panel: The Demand for Service and the Problem of Scale

“After another successful SMB digital marketing bootcamp yesterday at Yelp’s San Francisco office, we kicked off the Tech Adoption Summit, which continues today, with a presentation of new data on small business technology adoption. That was followed by a panel discussion of small business owners.

The panel included the owner of a multiple office dental practice, the owner of a 39-person termite control company, a plumber, a mortgage broker and an executive from a small but rapidly growing accounting firm. It was a great cross-section of business owners. With the exception of the plumber these were relatively sophisticated businesses that had multiple employees.”

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After 20 Years of Hard SAAS Lessons, Verizon-Owned Yahoo Small Business Primed for Growth

“Responding to session interviewer Greg Sterling during a fireside chat at the Tech Adoption Summit today, Kushagra Shrivastava, Managing Director for Yahoo Small Business, talked about how Yahoo Small Business has evolved over the past 20 years.

While giving a nod to competitive pressures brought by new products coming to market, he added that there is also the need to always be sure that product development is keeping pace with customer needs and ensuring that pricing remains competitive. Yahoo Small Business has also been able to build on its brand, even after two decades in the space. “Yahoo thankfully still enjoys incredible brand value,” he explained at the morning session.”

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Tech Adoption Summit: What Does the C in CRM Stand For?

“Enterprise companies manage relationships. Small and local businesses have relationships — and they hinge on being able to track and understand conversations. That was a key point of Broadly CEO and Co-founder Josh Melick’s Headline Talk during LSA’s Tech Adoption Summit 2018.

Melick went on to say that innovators often forget that small businesses are unique, with their own set of requirements and problems to solve, and skinnying down enterprise-scale solutions are likely to fail. Why? Forgetting to design for difference inevitably results in product issues (like the Apple Watch’s heart sensor, which didn’t interact as effectively with darker skin tones or wrist tattoos).

Nowhere is this seen as clearly as with CRM systems, said Melick. If it’s a Fortune 500 company, it makes sense to have a CRM that’s essentially a database to track the thousands of customers they have. But a small business owner likely knows most — if not all — of her customers because they live in the community too.” Click here to read more.

Tech Adoption Summit 2018: Some New Perspective on the SMB Landscape

What makes building and selling innovation to small, local businesses so challenging?

Bob Yakominich – Broadly’s Vice President of Sales and a veteran of American Express, Zip and CitySearch, among others – joined the Tech Adoption Summit to share some perspective.

Unlike enterprise companies, SMB owners wear many different hats – they work both in the business and on the business, Yakominich said. That has three key implications for those trying to sell to them:

  • First, it’s much harder to break through the clutter of all they’re dealing with to connect in a meaningful (and productive) way.
  • Second, more companies are excited by the prospect of working directly with the decision maker and a theoretical faster path to close, increasing competition of late, particularly for marketing dollar spend.
  • Third, SMB owners are agile and decisive – but while they may quickly sign with you, they’ll just as quickly look to others if the promises you made in your sales pitch don’t match the reality of working with your product.

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POV: SMB Telesales Don’t Work, Need ‘Product-First’ Approach

One of the highlights of last week’s Tech Adoption Summit in San Francisco was ThriveHive CMO Adam Blake’s thought-provoking discussion of SMB customer acquisition. The presentation was called, “Product First Go to Market Strategy.”

To lead off Blake talked about how, according to third-party data, SMB customer acquisition costs have gone up 50% in the past five years. While there are multiple reasons for this, it probably argues for new sales and marketing strategies and tactics.

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#LSA18: The New Market for SMB Services

#LSA18: The New Market for SMB Services

The New Market for SMB Services panel featured a great mix of perspectives from leaders in the solution market with a cohesive message. Consumers are driving the change and demanding personalization. SMBs need to navigate and offer the same level of engagement with consumers as the Amazons of the world. It’s up to technology and solution providers to bridge some gaps to make that easier for them.

Panelists moderated by Neal Polachek:
Louise Lachmann, CEO & Co-Founder of Mono Solutions
Sandy Lohr, CEO of Matchcraft
Josh Melick, CEO & Founder of Broadly
Allyson Van Houten, Senior Marketing Manager at MailChimp

Consumers Are Driving The Shift

Neal asked if it’s the mobile experience that is shifting business to the cloud and the consensus was, well yes, but ultimately it’s the consumer that is driving the shift. Sandy Lohr made the blanket statement that there is “no debate” about the importance and significance of mobile. She mentioned her recent trip to Brazil and how the majority of small businesses have went straight to mobile. No longer mobile-first, there it might be mobile only.


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#LSA18: When is an App not Just an App? When It’s Part of Zoho One

#LSA18: When is an App not Just an App? When It’s Part of Zoho One

The day’s featured speaker, Zoho President Raj Sabhlok was introduced by Charles Laughlin, Project Lead for LSA’s TAI (Tech Adoption Index).

From its roots in network management software 22 years ago, Zoho has evolved into a multinational online services provider with some 35 million users worldwide including many SMBs. (Notably, this has been accomplished while remaining privately-owned, with no VC funding).

At last count, Zoho offered over 40 integrated functional applications in a suite they style as “Zoho One”, the “operating system for business”.  Raj articulated the ethic driving their product evolution as the desire by SMBs for apps that are more integrated and easier to use — findings consistent with research by LSA’s TAI (Tech Adoption Index).


Read more on LSA Insider

#CloudSummit: Machine Learning & AI’s Impact on SMB Marketing

#CloudSummit: Machine Learning & AI’s Impact on SMB Marketing

“If you don’t have a Machine Learning and AI slide in your investor deck, you are not getting funded,” SurePath Capital’s Mark McLeod told the SMB Cloud Summit audience last week, slightly tongue-in-cheek. Earlier in the day there was a discussion of how machine learning and AI would potentially impact the SMB marketing ecosystem.

The session, called “How Will Machine Learning and AI Impact SMB Marketing?” featured speakers from Google, Facebook and iPromote.

Facebook’s Anand Arivukkarasu and Google’s Simone Styr discussed machine learning in the context of Facebook Messenger and Google AdWords. Styr said it was easier to name Google products that didn’t use machine learning than those that did because the technology is now so widely deployed within the company.

As Facebook gears up to launch Messenger as a chat plugin for websites, allowing business owners to tap in to its 1.2 billion users, Arivukkarasu and his team are looking to support businesses by training the Messenger engine to understand the user intent and ultimately respond on the business owners behalf.

While he said that natural language processing in Messenger is at an early stage, Google’s Styr spoke of how AdWords can already optimize a campaign to generate more leads for an advertiser without them having to make manual adjustments to the bidding strategy with “smart bidding.”

Smart bidding is one illustration of how technology is now able to do what people previously did. However there are still challenges for small businesses to reap the benefits of smart bidding, including setting up conversion tracking on their sites and having enough conversion data for the system to work.

Along these lines the question of “DIY” vs. “do-it-for-me” was extensively discussed: how will machine learning and AI impact campaign provisioning and service in the future?

LSA’s Tech Adoption Index research found that the biggest factor in cloud services adoption and self-service is the age of the business. As we wait for the Baby Boomers to retire and Millennials to take over the decision making, iPromote’s Gregg Albright spoke about the short and mid-term need to help businesses, who are either not willing or not able to do so themselves.

Resellers and partners, such as local media publishers, are still well positioned to support SMBs today and level the playing field so all businesses have the opportunity to benefit from the advances in technology. Automated omni-channel ad creation technology, as provided by iPromote, allows resellers to provide these services with new levels of efficiency.

It’s fairly clear that machine learning and AI are going to have a significant impact on the marketplace. Publishers and resellers will need to evolve to continue to deliver value to local advertisers, as tasks that were once fulfilled by people are increasingly taken over by machines.

#CloudSummit: 4 Tactics for Winning in the SMB SaaS Space

#CloudSummit: 4 Tactics for Winning in the SMB SaaS Space

Last week Kris Barton, Chief Product Officer for USA Today Networks and ReachLocal (a wholly owned subsidiary of Gannett), shared lessons learned at LSA’s 2017 SMB Cloud Summit regarding the SMB view of SaaS, media tactics, and other observations in serving a 15,000 plus SMB customer base.

Looking at the SMB market’s evolution from a marketing perspective, Kris talked about an influx of point solutions, tools, and vendors and how this has created a big challenge for SMBs. They miss a lot of the details when executing their own initiatives and programs. And rightly so, since its difficult to keep track.

Using market research, he illustrated that in 2018, businesses plan to use eight or more marketing tactics, 48% of businesses do not know which of these tactics are effective, and the majority of business surveyed said marketing measurement is being tracked manually or not at all. That’s a big problem, and the lesson is that any SaaS solution needs to be “closed loop” to deliver real value.

From his days at Omniture, and ASPs (Application Service Provider), to today’s world of SaaS, Kris contrasted the value delivered to SMBs in the past versus the promise SaaS tools carry today. Understanding the “sales funnel” remains critical among many marketers.

Safe to say that the sales funnel adage is old hat. The reality is that the purchase process is more complex and non-linear as consumers dart in and out, using various devices and touch points, as part of their journey. He presented the idea that SaaS solutions need to help local businesses tailor to the customer experience.

He shared four ways to win in the SMB market for SaaS providers and otherwise:

  1. Focus: ReachLocal has and continues to practice delivering a “customer first” experience, which is contrary to the product focus of many SaaS solutions.
  2. Coaching: He contrasted the way we advise SMBs between two styles: coach and concierge. The concierge provides data, is overly optimistic, and will do whatever you want. Whereas the coach demands accountability, provides instructions, and offers insights.
  3. Integration: This is key to reducing churn, creating stickiness. In ReachLocal’s case, attaching marketing to business systems (PPC and social ads to Quickbooks for example) via integration helps SMBs realize value.
  4. Engagement: SaaS solutions need to align engagement to the value proposition. Providers can’t rely on login sessions to remain constant or increase over time.  Instead focus on how to generate increased usage via awareness, so that SMBs get the most value.

As a parting thought, Kris also maintained that diversification is viable as always, when executing on a marketing strategy. The key is to deliver holistic experience, that provides meaningful return and value for the SMB, in addition to a set of tools that be leveraged.