Winner of AdTech Platform of the Year at the Digital City Awards 2020 shares their three tactics on getting ahead in the SaaS space

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

At 2020’s Digital City Awards, Adzooma took home the award for AdTech Platform of the Year.

Adzooma launched in 2015, creating a solution to a problem many had faced - but that there wasn’t an existing solution for. Focused on PPC account management, the Adzooma platform cuts reporting time and puts all data in one place, as well as automating manual tasks, backed by AI-powered tech to boost optimisation.

Robert Wass, Co-founder and CEO of Adzooma, shared his tips on achieving success in SaaS based on their growth story over the past half-decade.

Entries for this year’s Digital City Awards - hosted on April 15th - are open now, with Early Bird entries closing at the end of January. Click here to learn more about entering and get started.

 

There is so much that goes into creating a SaaS product that people actually want to use. 

Founded in 2015, in just over five years we at Adzooma have created a product that has more than 100,000 users optimising their Google, Facebook and Microsoft ad accounts through our platform.

But it’s not been easy. Just like every business, we’ve had our fair share of missteps and wrong turns. Yet wasn’t it Henry Ford who said, “The only real mistake is the one from which you learn nothing”? It may sound clichéd, but it’s a cliché for a reason.

Below I’ve outlined three overarching business qualities that have helped us go from ground zero to AdTech Platform of the Year in five years.

Know your industry & your customer

This sounds obvious, but no business in any industry can attain real success without internal expertise in their industry and their customer. This is especially true when creating a product. 

Adzooma is a PPC management platform, so what we essentially do is make it easier to manage and optimise your Google, Facebook and Microsoft Ads. But the crux of “making it easier” is something so broad and wide ranging that it means a number of different things to a number of different people.

It’s vital for us as a business to stay on top of our industry’s trends. When something changes in the PPC industry, we need to be the first to know because if we aren’t, our product can become outdated overnight.

But our industry knowledge can only go so far. Just as if we were tech enthusiasts running a tech magazine, we may report on things we find interesting, but does that mean our audience would necessarily think the same? Probably not. 

So to bridge the gap between ourselves and our customer we took a few steps: created a Facebook Community Support Group for user discussion and feedback, encouraged customer reviews across a number of different mediums, and organised a wide range of user testing.

But what we didn’t want to do was just create abstract features that would be of small benefit to our users a couple of times a week. We needed to create something that would philosophically help and change the way our users work.

That’s why we’ve found that the most important thing - above every group, every review and every test - is to just talk, talk, talk to our users and those in the PPC space, as much as we can. 

Be that through focus groups, interviews or just casual calls, we want to get into the mind of those in our industry as much as possible to create an experience that will truly improve every PPC manager’s working life. 

And we’ve found that the best way to do that is by simply having a chat.

The Adzooma team at last year's Digital City Awards

Understand your data

Something that has to tie in right alongside knowing your industry and your customer is knowing the data. 

Data analysis and science is crucial for any business in the SaaS space. Sure, it’s important to have developers, marketers and business gurus to help shape the product and its direction, but without someone combing through the data on a continuous basis, it’s very easy for that direction to end up awry.

After all, when you create software which utilises AI and machine learning, the person shaping that machine needs to have the right information to hand. 

Data analysis is something we’ve invested in a lot of the past 18 months, enlarging our data science team and enlisting the help of the three MBA University of Cambridge students to find different and innovative methods of improving the product in ways that wouldn’t be possible without looking at the numbers.

Be that through analysing feature adoption rates within the platform, studying user heat maps, or scrutinising our automation data sets, having people whose sole job is to look for improvements through data will enhance your product’s experience and roadmap no end.

Stay agile

It’s the business buzzword of the 21st century, but if you want to always be evolving to your industry’s demands, always responding to your customer’s ever-changing needs, and always reacting to that all-important data - being agile is a must.  

For any business starting out today, that’s the main advantage you have right now over your competitors: your flexibility and your ability to shapeshift. Because as you grow out, get more employees, get investors on board, and get set in your ways, maintaining that agility is tough.

In the digital world where things change at the drop of a hat, it’s so important to maintain. Preserving that agile mindset is all about structuring your company in the right way, so everytime you grow and change you need to ask yourself the question, “does this move allow me to stay nimble?”

Specific examples are tough to point out as every business is different, but through our hiring practices at Adzooma we look to recruit employees who have a Swiss army knife of skills, so they can adapt quickly and efficiently to our industry’s demands.

That doesn’t mean you should take this blanket approach to all your recruitment, but having a number of skilled shapeshifters throughout your team allows you to stay reactive.

And being reactive is a must in the SaaS space.

 

The Digital City Awards 2021 are open for entries now, with Early Bird submissions closing at the end of January. Learn more about the awards process here, and start your entry!