The Swiftype Blog / Month: April 2017

What Makes Slack Such a Valuable Collaboration Tool?

By now, you’ve likely heard about Slack. Whether or not you use it, love it, or are generally privy to why it’s changing the way teams collaborate, you know it’s gained substantial momentum and organizations/users everywhere are seeing its value.

Is Slack Really All That?

It’s little wonder that the messaging/group chat/document-sharing application Slack has been called one of the most innovative companies of 2017. Launched in late 2013 as a simple workplace collaboration application, by last October Slack was making the workday more efficient for four million active users (including 1.25 million paying users), resulting in a very healthy $100 million in annual revenue (give or take a buck or two).

The reason for its rapid-fire success? In a classic take on the “necessity is the mother of invention” trope, Slack filled a desperate need that had thus far eluded business—delivering a user-friendly, “one stop shopping” workplace collaboration beehive that supports seamless company-wide communication.

Employees LOVE Slack

Millennials in the workplace today top the 50 million mark (and Generation Z is nipping at their heels!). Weaned on technology, they use the collaboration tool to coordinate and keep track of every aspect of their lives. This powerful workforce expects a healthy work/life balance, extreme efficiency, and opportunities for flexible working arrangements. Slack ticks all of those boxes.

Bye-bye, annoying email threads and “reply alls.” See you later, long, drawn out, boring “team update” meetings and time wasting duplicate work. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, lost documents and messed up project workflow. Instead, say hello to:

  • Group-chat channels—including text, audio, and video chat
  • Threaded messaging to assist in keeping conversations contextual, organized, and focused
  • Direct messaging and @ alerts
  • Clickable drop-down menus that help facilitate more complex workflows
  • Drag and drop file sharing (including images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets)
  • Superb integration and connectivity that results in all notifications appearing in Slack so there’s not more toggling between Twitter, DropBox, Asana, etc., making it easier than ever to find what you need (and even easier when you integrate Slack with your Swiftype account!)
  • Application integrations and third party app development using their API
  • Syncing ability to any smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers tied into your network, providing employees with flexible work arrangements

[Editor’s note: Features vary between paid and free versions.]

And unlike many other platforms that are difficult to integrate and even harder to use, Slack’s “friendly” interface means happy Slack users spend, on average, 10 hours per weekday plugged into the platform and 140 minutes per user per weekday actively working within the system.

Collaboration Drives Innovation

According to a recent O.C. Tanner Great Work Study, 88 percent of great work starts with an employee asking an inquisitive question, and 72 percent of great work ideas succeed because the employee speaks to many people about their solution, and incorporates diverse knowledge and viewpoints into the design.

Slack drives this type of collaboration and innovation. It encourages employees to question and communicate, problem solve, and pool talents and strengths. It helps break down silos between departments, and, especially important if you’re running a virtual or global company, allows employees to connect, work, and share ideas at any time, and from anywhere.

The Cure for the Common Chaos

So, is Slack a cure-all for excessive meetings and unproductivity? For many companies, yes. For others, it’s not perfect. It’s been said that group chat can cause distractions and meetings can be boundary-less. But Slack has ridiculously high user satisfaction scores, so it’s doing something right.

The Swiftype team, being a fan, saw the platform’s advantages and opted to build a dedicated connector between Slack and their Enterprise Search solution. This enables teams to automatically search over an organization’s universe of cloud apps (Salesforce, Dropbox, Jira, Confluence, and more) then quickly share the results. Learn more about Swiftype for Slack and how you can find everything you need without leaving where you work.

4 Key Considerations for Acquiring an Effective Site Search Solution

Understanding and optimizing how buyers arrive and navigate through your website can be difficult. It’s especially frustrating since you know not capturing this information can leave you with costly gaps in conversion data.

The Aberdeen Group, widely known as a leader in the research and analysis of information technology and products, recently gathered insights on these data challenges. Their findings focused on “Site Search Solutions.” These are traditionally defined as platforms or tools that analyze and optimize a website visitor’s search experience. They can also shed light on the most popular content on your website or app. This ultimately gives you the real-time search analytics needed to reveal what, and whether, buyers are actually looking to buy.

Did you know that 37% of marketers actively invest in search solutions and 26% of those marketers average higher contribution to company revenue from marketing?

Aberdeen has assembled a full Buying Guide to outline all of the considerations you should take into account when evaluating an effective site search solution for your organization, but here’s a brief snapshot of what you need to know:

  1. Ease of Use and Implementation: Dealing with personnel limitations (available headcount, skillsets, bandwidth) is the top operational challenge cited by marketers in our research. Few marketers are coding experts, so it’s vital that the solution you choose doesn’t make already complex marketing operations more complex. 
  2. Customization for Performance Optimization: Best-in-Class marketing teams are 55% more effective than all others at maintaining consistent, relevant, and personalized messaging. Staying up to speed with what’s relevant to buyers while maintaining consistency requires that site search solutions be customizable. The terms and topics buyers search for change; solutions need to allow users to adapt accordingly.
  3. Analytically Driven Alignment to Buyer Needs: The best solution for your business will serve up results that prompt the best actions for your buyers. 
  4. Real Time Updates: The benefits of your site search solution should be immediately obvious. Marketers who use search solutions are 91% more effective at increasing productivity with integrated marketing technology. Real-time capabilities are critical for bringing the full utility of the technology to bear.

Download the FULL Aberdeen Buying Guide now to make sure you’re armed with all the detailed information needed in order to select the site search solution that’s right for you.

How Targeted Search Results Can Beat Organic

Unless you’ve spent the last 15 years living on a desert island somewhere, you’re probably well aware that ecommerce is booming. B2C is riding a healthy wave, with retail ecommerce sales expected to hit nearly $2 trillion this year. And B2B results aren’t too shabby either, predicted to hit 6.7 trillion (yes, with a “t”!) by 2020. So how do all these purchase-happy consumers find what they want to buy?

Business Kid Uses Targeted Search Results

In today’s digital world, we take search and search results for granted. We may not think about it, but they actually do lead to many of those sales. However, at the macro level, search for businesses can be complicated. Companies need to be found online, and they have no choice but to “play the digital game” in order to get those coveted spots on Google’s first page of results.

Everyone knows that organic search is important and requires time and effort. However, there are times when organic search just doesn’t serve your audience well enough, and in those cases, a targeted on-site search is far more effective.

Where Organic Search Falls Short

While organic search ranking is extremely important and definitely something you should be working toward when it comes to your digital real estate, it’s also a part of the search process that you, as a brand, have little control over.

For instance, one of the biggest problems with organic search from a business standpoint is that you can’t decide what the algorithm will display. For example, if a user Googles “pants,” then organic search will give them the pants you sell. Maybe, in a best-case scenario, you’ve done some SEO optimization to promote a specific style of pants that you are looking to push so that style comes up near the top of the search results.

But what if that customer really needs warm pants because she lives in the north and it’s winter? Or maybe this particular searcher wants men’s pants because, well, he’s a he.

That’s where you come in. Once a visitor makes it to your site, you can control what he sees in the search results by providing him with targeted search options to help move him along the purchase process.

3 Ways Targeted Search Results Can Beat Organic

  1. You control what your visitor sees: Targeted site search allows you to optimize search results and ensure the content you want highlighted is filtered to the top. This could mean that when a prospect visits your B2B site, you may recognize her IP as coming from a certain region and be able to show her targeted content. Or it could mean that you place a newly released piece of content as her first search result. This is a key feature of a well planned site search, and is especially important because year-over-year, growth in unique site traffic is nearly eight times higher for content marketing leaders, and showing customers what they want to see—even if they don’t know it yet—is what makes or breaks content leaders.
  1. Filters, filters, and more filters. Personally, I can’t stand scrolling through hundreds of product search results, and I know I’m not alone in that regard. Filters like price, size, color, category, author, date, location, and even content type allow consumers to weed out the unwanted items and zero in on what they want, resulting in higher sales. To no one’s surprise, Amazon is one of the most successful ecommerce sites out there today. And in a recent survey, 54 percent of respondents chose great site search capabilities as one of the main reasons why they placed Amazon at the top of their lists.
  1. Intuitive site search and autocomplete. Shoppers who use internal site search convert at a 216% higher rate than those who do not. And with 81% of shoppers abandoning shopping carts before completing their purchase, your goal is to get consumers from search to check out completion as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why having site search capabilities like auto complete, intuitive search, and comprehensive spell check is vital to your success.

Overall, organic search is a huge component of any type of content related marketing. But having a targeted search system in place that allows you to provide the very best digital experience for consumers—and delivers the right content at the exact right time—is another huge step forward when it comes to customer satisfaction and corporate success.

 

Welcome to the Swiftype office in San Francisco [HQ Photo Tour]

Welcome to Swiftype Headquarters in San Francisco, California. Founders Matt Riley and Quin Hoxie have created a comfortable and fun office environment with an open floor plan, scattered lounges, and various collaborative areas. Take a look at our office photos below to experience a day in the life of a Swiftype team member.

There are Muni and BART stations just a few blocks from our office, perfect for commuting or being a train ride away from where you need to be.

Our office building is on 301 Howard Street (between Fremont and Beale), in the middle of downtown San Francisco.

Need a coffee boost to start your day? Starbucks is right across the street.

Not a fan of Starbucks? Grab a freshly squeezed juice right downstairs at Joe & The Juice.

We are on the 13th floor. Welcome to Swiftype.

Mini Matt and Quin welcome you to our office!

An open workspace designed for maximum collaboration.

Find privacy and be productive. Soundproof phone booths for taking meetings and private calls.

Head over to our fully-stocked snack bar to grab whatever you need to boost your day.

Did I mention we get FREE catered breakfast and lunch?  Thanks Zesty!

Yes, we LOVE hot sauce.

Oh and we have a keg…for all occasions!

Got game? We are recruiting for a Rock Band player. Are you in?

Not a bad view huh?

Like what you see? We’re hiring for a variety of positions.

Swiftype proposed, and I said yes! A True Love Story in the Making.

I joined Swiftype shortly after graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Computer Engineering last May. I got to spend four years in Atlanta, which provided me an amazing startup ecosystem that let me invest a significant amount of time while still being a college student. I was able to work on a great team at Springbot and build out and launch an MVP at Stackfolio. I got to venture out a bit and intern at MongoDB last summer as well.

The startups I got to work with varied quite a bit in size, and I decided I wanted to join a startup with a small, somewhat established development team. I think this sweet spot is the best type of environment for growing as a software developer. Swiftype definitely fit that criteria, and much more.

Reasons I ended up signing my life to Swiftype:

  • I can see value in the product.
    • I always default to using the “site:www.website.com” syntax on google instead of using a website’s dedicated search tool. I think it’s silly that the majority of websites get beaten by a generic web crawler at finding their own content.
  • Swiftype gave me the time of day.
    • Quin [the CTO of Swiftype] personally reached out to me the day before my interview with a phone call and a follow-up email to make sure I was doing fine and made my way to San Francisco without issue. He also was very active throughout my entire interview process to make sure everything went smoothly. I got the feeling that he actually (even if just a little bit) cared about me.
    • I got the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about the company and its technology, which caused my interview to run way longer than scheduled. Swiftype was one of the few companies that was happy to take the time to give me in-depth answers.
    • Initial contact to offer was less than three weeks. (Not the quickest of all time, but considering I was on the other side of the world or on a plane for 9 days of that time, I’d say it’s pretty good.
  • I got a clear idea of what I would be doing.
    • More often than not, I think new software developers go into jobs pretty blind on what they’re actually going to do. I learned this the hard way through my first internship! It’s perfectly understandable given many circumstances, and perfectly reasonable for people to put themselves into that situation, but it still makes me very uncomfortable.
  • I knew who I’d be working with.
    • I got to interview with the entire engineering team. I left with the feeling that if I could be where they are when I get to their age, I’d be pretty happy with my career. We’ll see how that turns out.
  • Swiftype aligned with my interests.
    • The vast majority of my abandoned personal projects revolved around scraping data and doing something with it. I only found a select few startups whose business revolved around this concept and actually did meaningful things with it.
  • Super soft hoodies that actually look normal.
    • At least at the time, this was a priority. Unfortunately, not many people or companies actually took me seriously, which is understandable. Regardless, this is my public request for the long awaited Swiftype hoodie V2.
  • Positive Culture inclinations.
    • It’s tough to evaluate culture through interviews that span a short amount of time. But I got the same baseline vibes from the Swiftype engineering team as the friendliest, heartwarming development team I interviewed with in Tennessee. This absolutely wasn’t a priority while I was in the job search, but looking back on it, this definitely helped me make a quick decision to say yes to Swiftype.

*****

Note from the Swiftype Team:
Looking for a new opportunity? Jonesing to work with a talented, up-and-coming software development team? Really into soft hoodies and free lunch? You might be a great fit for the Swiftype team! We’re not on Tinder, but you can check out our careers page for our current openings and apply. 

Is Your Marketing Tech Stack Drowning You in Data?

The marketing tech space is growing at an astounding rate. In fact, that just might be the understatement of the year. Back in 2011, there were somewhere in the range of 150 companies engaged in marketing tech. As of 2016, that number had exploded, with close to four thousand companies having some sort of investment in the “martech” space.

Is your marketing tech stack drowning you in data?

Marketing software spending is also projected to top $32 billion by 2018, and your average marketing team is exposed to (and potentially uses) myriad marketing apps every day. Here are just a few:

  • Enterprise Collaboration and Social Media Marketing platforms (think Slack and Salesforce).
  • Content Management and Data Analytics systems (think WordPress and Kissmetrics).
  • Customer Relationship Management and SEO tools (think HubSpot and Moz).
  • To Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing technology (think Marketo and Mail Chimp).

The goal for any organization is, of course, to have all of these systems streamlined to complement and interact with one another.

Enter the strategically built, finely-tuned-to-your-needs marketing tech stack. Your team’s marketing tech stack will help reduce redundancies, increase efficiency, and ensure everyone is on the same page, right?

Well, maybe.

How Big Data Can Defeat the Marketing Tech Stack

With non-stop tech innovation and new applications hitting the market almost daily, our tech driven world has facilitated a never-before-seen explosion of data. A staggering ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated over the last two years alone.

It’s no wonder that some days it feels like all we do is gather, parse, analyze, distribute, and search for data. We do! And the numbers bear that out:

  • Knowledge professionals spend up to 50 percent of their time looking for information.
  • Forty-four percent of the time, employees can’t find the information they need to do their jobs.
  • As a result, a typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year because staff are searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, and/or recreating information that can’t be found.

Like many things in life, innovation and rapid change can be both a blessing and a curse. We can market to today’s digitally savvy and mobile-friendly consumers with near laser accuracy. But the enterprise is quite literally drowning in a sea of data.

The Savior of the Marketing Stack? Search.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, with the majority of enterprise data falling in the unstructured category—that is, data that isn’t stored in already-connected databases—having specialized content search tools at your employees’ fingertips is vitally important.

To make the most of that beautiful marketing tech stack, marketers also need to make sure they have tools in place to find information. The right search platform should:

  • Use machine intelligence and an up-to-date user experience to enable searches across all cloud data platforms, for example Salesforce, Slack, and Dropbox.
  • Be mobile friendly, as many employees today are working virtually from coffee shops and home offices.
  • Understand human speech patterns, and include filters to encourage users to drill deeper into their search efforts to snag exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Come with built-in functions like autocomplete, spelling correction, typo tolerance, analytics, real-time search capacity, data protection, scalability, as well as state-of-the-art encryption and security capabilities.

We’ve definitely all been spoiled by the immediacy and relative accuracy of internet search. And frustrated employees waste precious time (and money!)—even lose business deals—because of ineffective or nonexistent enterprise level search.

Your marketing tech stack might be the best of the best—the most strategically structured stack in your entire industry—but if the right information can’t be found at the exact moment it’s needed, businesses will continue to take a financial hit.

Don’t want to be a statistic? You can learn more about search can help you gain control of your tech stack here.