There’s really never been a dull year at Raven, but this year has been particularly…let’s say, interesting.
By now, you probably know that we ended the year with a bang (or a thud, argh! or [expletive], depending on your point of view) with the decision to remove all scraped data from the platform on Jan. 3. We’ve done our best to explain why we made the decision and answer your questions. And now I want to tell you about Raven’s future: where we’ve been and where we’re going.
It’s been a busy and productive year at Raven HQ. Some of the product highlights of 2012 include Facebook Insights integration, a new AdWords insights feature, unlimited users for Agency accounts, a new CRM for SEO and social media, a major update to the Link Manager and link reports, a new Chrome Toolbar and a refresh of Task Manager and Messages).
And we have big plans for 2013.
What’s coming in January
Let’s start with SEO. The rumors of Raven abandoning SEO have been greatly exaggerated.
With the SERP Tracker retiring soon, we will shift our attention to site performance from organic traffic and helping customers show its impact on business results.
SEO performance reports
We are currently working on several SEO reports we plan to make available before the Jan. 2 changeover.
The new reports will focus on site engagement, conversions and landing pages, with a focus on organic-only traffic. They will be easy to implement for all the campaigns you manage in Raven.
We are also working on a Site Referral report that uses data from the Link Manager to highlight traffic sent from your active link records. These reports are specifically designed to show the value your SEO work brings to your client.
A tool that I have dreamed of having in Raven for quite some time is now becoming a reality. In January we will be launching an automated site crawler named Website Auditor.
Website Auditor will automatically crawl each campaign site and report on problems related to visibility, META data, pages, internal and external links, images and semantic data. It will even create a sitemap.xml file for you!
All of the data from the Website Auditor will be exportable, and you’ll be able to run reports from any of the sections.
My favorite part is the Summary page. It includes an overview and score of the site’s problems, links that will take you to a detailed view of the problems and a summary PDF report that can be given to clients or prospective clients.
Improved Research Central
Instead of having multiple places to go in the Research section, there will now be one single tool called Research Central.
Research Central enables you to research a domain, URL or keyword using the same input field. In addition to simplified research, all of the results can be exported and/or made into a PDF report.
The new Research Central will be launching in January.
Customizable Quality Analyzer
Research Central has a big surprise that’s also an old favorite. The new Quality Analyzer allows you to customize your own scores with your own algorithm.
You choose the metrics that matter most to you, customize their influence and then name it. After you create your custom quality scores, you can see and use the scores to evaluate and report on websites.
Improved social tools
Raven’s social tools are getting a major refresh at the beginning of January. We have completely redesigned every tool, including Social Stream, Social Monitor, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Persona Manager.
The redesign makes Quick Views on the Social Stream easier to create and use, and the new layout for posts, tweets and mentions is easier to digest and manage. The Social Monitor search results were also updated with layout and management improvements.
The social update also includes some new features. The Twitter management tool now supports native Twitter lists and searches (including saved and advanced searches).
What’s coming in the next six months
For the first time ever, we’re going to tell you what we’re building for the next six months.
Is this schedule ambitious? Yes. Is it doable? Absolutely!
Here’s what’s on deck.
Our current alerts for Link Monitor and Social Monitor were made exclusively for those tools and aren’t very customizable. We wanted to create an alert system that would work throughout the platform and could be customized to your needs.
The new Campaign Alerts – planned for Q1 – will support multiple tools on the platform. The alerts will provide an option to receive daily, weekly or monthly summary reports and/or instantaneous trigger alerts sent the moment a custom threshold is met.
New alerts will be created with a simplified Alert Wizard, and notifications can be sent directly to the system and/or via email.
We are completely redoing our dashboard system. It’s going to be more flexible, have more KPIs, and it’s going to be beautiful! You are going to really like this update.
The metrics sections will be gaining new social analytics and more goodies from the Google Analytics API. We are also working on making campaign analytics more insightful and actionable.
One of our most used and loved tools, the Report Wizard, is getting a major overhaul. Reports will be easier to make and will get a much needed facelift.
The Social Stream lets you see and reply to tweets, posts and monitor results in real-time, and the other social tools help you manage your social accounts. The only thing missing is the ability to tag, track, follow and report on your social activity. The new Social Activity tool will fix that.
Content and author management
Content has become one of the most crucial elements of a successful Internet marketing campaign. We are building a tool to help you create and manage your content, and also monitor the effectiveness of both your content and your authors.
One of the biggest requests we get from agencies is the desire to create a report that can be used as a proposal for getting new business. We are working on reporting options that will make that possible.
Admin views and reports
Another frequent request we get is the ability to have high-level views of all campaigns and team activity. We are working on a tool that will allow account owners and admins the ability to view and report on all account activity.
We plan to add management and reporting tools for LinkedIn. We will also be adding support for Google+ as soon their write API is made available to us.
Faster development and improved UX
One of the most important things we worked on this year happened behind the scenes. Our development team spent several months rewriting our core system. While I won’t go into the gory details, what I can tell you is the purpose of the rewrite.
It was designed to eliminate bugs when new features launch and to also dramatically speed up our development process. The update will enable us to build out new tools (and make significant updates to existing ones) faster than ever before.
And while it’s not specific to the next six months – it applies to the platform from here on out – we will focus a lot more of our time on improving the overall user experience.
That includes improving how you navigate and perform key processes and tasks, creating better cross-tool integration and providing more in-app assistance.
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to give everything away. 2013 is going to be a very exciting year for our customers and the platform.