The Story of ReachHorizon
Over the past 3–4 years I’ve started a few companies along with my friends and colleagues and while one of them is still up and running, others have shut.
It was around September last year and I was thinking about the next venture I want to work on. A conversation with one of my investors led us on a common path where we wanted to build a product in India and make it global. He was kind enough to partner with me and a few others to set up what we called a ‘Startup Lab’. Here we ran inexpensive experiments building and testing global products which have a common marketing/tech team without having the pressure of an external fund/entity telling us what to do and setting impossible targets. In the initial few months, we tried our hands at Life Coaching, Freelancing, and Live tutoring but none of it seem to hit off. However, we learnt a lot on multitude of topics and techniques by running these experiments.
On one fine day in February, in one of our weekly meetings where we evaluate how we have been performing, we decided to look back and see what is missing and where are we going wrong:
(1) We have a stellar tech team who has worked with multiple other successful startups and carry experience working in all kinds of technology at scale *check*.
(2) We’re being advised/mentored by one of the best marketing folks I’ve ever worked with and who have helped grow some of the most successful companies we’ve seen in modern times *check*.
Then, where are we going wrong? How come nothing seems to be working when everything seems to be in place? Not after long we realised it was due to our lack of FOCUS!
We were focussing on solving too many problems, running way too many experiments and operating with more hypotheses than we can even measure results for. We decided to shut everything, pick one problem and dedicate our entire team towards solving it. While initially, experimentation was the right approach but beyond a point when you feel you have hit something concrete or how we called it ‘have discovered gold’ you have to step back and focus towards that one common problem
So, Where is the Gold?
Thanks to our freelancing venture we got to work with many startups for different kind of projects. One of the ongoing projects was an SEO project for Zivame, one of the leading lingerie E-commerce companies from India. Varun (Co-Founder and heads Tech for ReachHorizon) who brings tons of valuable marketing-tech experience from his previous companies — TutorVista and other startup companies, was handling this project.
Like most other e-commerce companies Zivame was optimising its website for search engines in a traditional manner. Just create listing pages based on your product catalog while doing some research on what keywords to include/exclude based on search volume and competition. After talking to many e-commerce companies we realised that this was something almost all of them were doing wrong and hence spotted an opportunity to solve this.
This is analogous to having a humongous mall with 100 entry points and keeping only 5 of them open to let people in, imagine the possibility if you open all 100. Most people who are right now not aware of your existence since you have poor discoverability would immediately flock to you. Thereby, driving traffic and revenue. Most e-commerce companies leave money on the table without realising this!
Therefore, the problem we decided to solve was — Help E-commerce companies maximise SEO via their product catalog and help them improve discoverability by making their product feed richer.
Is this gold? I don’t know, but we’ll soon figure out :)
So, Why don’t E-commerce Companies Focus on SEO?
- Founders and marketing folks don’t focus on SEO since there are way too many things always at hand and SEO takes time before you see significant results. You always have the option of spending a few thousand dollars on Google to bring in traffic and show results to impress your bosses or investors. SEO is a long-term and a much tougher battle to win
- A lot of people ‘believe’ SEO is dead. Most new companies find it very difficult to rank on the first page and it is only when you rank in the top 3 search results do the clicks start flowing. So, to take a simple guilt-free decision marketing people start believing SEO doesn’t work anymore and it is a thing of the past. To clear things, you should read Is SEO Dead? by Neil Patel
Day 1, ReachHorizon
After tons of conversations and meetings with e-commerce founders and marketing folks, we decided that this is a good enough problem to solve. We set out our tools and started building ReachHorizon.
ReachHorizon integrates with your product feed and enhances your current tags/attributes with the help of product description, existing tags/attributes, a comprehensive universal product catalogue and an image recognition algorithm to identify and add all possible tags to each of your product. We then make a list of search keywords by running seed keywords on products such as MOZ, Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner to figure all possible ways customers are looking for your product. For example, a simple product like ‘running shoes’ can be searched for in 60+ different ways!
The tool then automatically figures (using NLP and Assisted Machine learning) what listing pages are relevant for your business on the basis of enhanced tags (created from step-1 above) and customer intent (identified by how people are searching for you) and creates them for you without involving any tech or marketing effort from your side. These new listing pages help you being discovered in ways you were earlier missing out on.
Zivame has seen a 90% bump in organic traffic after using ReachHorizon. Most of the new customers were making the same search queries even earlier but were not able to discover Zivame’s listings on Google
Since all of us come from a B2C world, most things B2B seem alien to us. The longer sales cycles, limited customers to target, complex negotiations, B2B email marketing and pitches etc. These are new battles to be won on a daily basis. We are loving this journey and are fairly excited about this space.
I will be writing about our experience often, focusing on the challenges we face and how we tackle them such as How we decide about the new hires that we make, How did we set up an office culture, What are some recent technology or marketing hacks we discovered and so on. If there is anything specific you want me to write about, please feel free to engage in comments. Thanks for reading till this point, I hope you found it worthwhile!