Tale of two years: an open letter to Raven customers
If you had asked me in January how many companies I thought would be using Raven by year’s end, my guess wouldn’t have come anywhere close to reality. The adoption rate of Raven in the Internet marketing industry has been nothing but astonishing.
I’m especially proud because Raven began as an in-house tool for our company’s own Internet marketing needs. As the industry evolved, we evolved, eliminating our services department to avoid conflicts of interest, and broadening Raven beyond SEO. Today, I’m elated to see everyone from solo SEOs to enterprise-sized marketing teams use our software.
Raven in 2010
As fast as customers were signing up, we were working just as fast on updates to our software and our company. Some of the highlights:
- Dashboard and iOS App: We introduced a new dashboard that provides a quick snapshot of each website that’s being managed in Raven. To make the launch even more exciting, we timed it with the launch of a companion iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
- Social media tools: We created new management, monitoring and reporting tools for Twitter and Facebook. Raven users can schedule tweets and wall posts, and can reply to tweets and wall comments. We will launch a YouTube tool before the end of the year.
- Enhanced access rights and accounts: By popular demand, we established an Enterprise account level. The Enterprise account and the Agency account were updated with advanced access rights for large teams. Both accounts also gained the ability to run combined reports — reports that include data from more than one website.
- Email campaign reporting: Raven’s users saw a new navigation tab appear called Email. The new section introduced the ability to monitor and report on email campaigns for Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.
- Basecamp integration: To complement the existing Raven messaging system and task manager, we added support for Basecamp messages and todos. This integration made it easy for Internet marketers to view Basecamp project messages and todo tasks without having to leave Raven.
- MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer (OSE): To provide more data for website research and link building, we integrated two major link intelligence services, MajesticSEO and SEOmoz’s OSE. Using that data, we were able to enhance existing records and also build new tools including the Site Finder and Backlink Explorer.
- More education: We spent 2010 increasing and improving our educational efforts. For example, we started a weekly webinar series to help users better understand how to use the system. We also stepped up our marketing efforts, and had fun with contests including RavenHunt.
- Updates galore! As is the nature with most SaaS platforms, we updated Raven constantly. If we were tracking minor version updates, it would easily be in the high hundreds. The majority of the updates were in direct response to feedback from our customers.
Raven in 2011
2011 should be another amazing year for Raven. The three main things we’ll focus on are performance, feature requests and new features.
The unfortunate consequence of a rapid adoption rate is that it can (and often does) push the limits of the software (think of Twitter “fail whale,” just not as extreme). While our very smart engineers coded the software to handle a significant amount of accounts and data, there are always unforeseen limits to a system. This year, we experienced multiple spikes in growth, which presented our engineers with challenging problems to solve.
Currently, the system can run very slow during peak usage. We have been aware of this problem for several months and actively have been working on a solution. We feel very confident about our strategy to fix the scaling and speed problems and expect to have the system updated by the first or second month of 2011. We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience while we fix this issue. Fixing the speed and scalability of the service is our No. 1 priority right now.
I read every feature request that’s submitted by our users. Our customers have amazing ideas on how we can improve the software. Although we can’t implement every request that’s submitted, we do work hard to address and consider all of them.
Many of the updates and new features we release are in direct response to feature suggestions. Sometimes we can implement them soon after they’ve been requested, while other times it may take up to a year to add a feature. (Basecamp integration is a good example of that.) In 2011, we expect to have the resources to implement a significant amount of feature requests that have been stuck in our development queue.
The thing I’m most excited about are the new features we have planned for 2011. I can’t give it all away, but here are a few things I can tell you about:
- CustomRank: We will implement the new CustomRank concept into Raven, starting with a major update to the Quality Analyzer.
- Link Management: There are going to be major enhancements to the link management system. They will be released iteratively, with the first update being released before the end of this year.
- Third-party integration: We will continue to integrate third-party tools and data into Raven, making it even easier to research, manage, monitor and report on Internet marketing campaigns.
- Data filtering: There will be significant enhancements to the filtering capabilities of data views and reports. The enhancements are directly related to keywords and tags.
- Refreshed UI: We will be launching a new design for the software. I’m not going to provide any details about it, other than to say its code name is Unity.
I thank all of our customers. Your commitment, feedback and patience have made Raven what it is today. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with you in 2011!