For the past 2 years, I’ve been quietly conceptualizing & building my most ambitious project, ever.
Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without help from my awesome team, Will & Nadav. (Thanks guys!)
It’s called Zag.
If you’re bored, you can check out our “teaser” site at Zag.ai
Anyway, Zag is an ecosystem of marketing intelligence apps. More specifically, it’s an ecosystem of smart growth strategies… re-imagined as apps.
Every app can be set up & activated in < 90 seconds. Most apps are designed to be set-and-forget. You just set them up once, and let them push new insights to you perpetually.
In time, Zag will have apps for running growth strategy across every channel: search, paid acquisition, social, influencer marketing, content marketing, etc.
Here’s just a few examples of “growth apps” we’ve already built:
#1 – In-Market Intercept: Reach prospects at the exact moment they’re researching your competitors.
What it does: Finds you every recent blog post, news article, forum discussion and video that mentions your competitors that’s less than 30 days old. You can then scan those results to identify pages where you can place display ads directly, or add a thoughtful comment. You can track up to 10 of your competitors, along with each of their key products.
Results can be refreshed daily, weekly or monthly.
Why it’s awesome: This app gives you a perpetual stream of laser-targeted ad placements & conversational opportunities to reach people who are on the verge of buying from your competitors!
This is as highly-targeted as it gets, and even a trickle of traffic from these sources will drive consistent new sales flow.
It’s also a great way to expand your effective audience and discover new sites & influencers you might not otherwise have found. And of course, for the more aggressive marketers, there’s a world of options here in terms of PPV/CPV targeting 🙂
#2 – Treasure Map: Discover your marketing performance at the geographic level, across all your channels.
What it does: After connecting to your Google Analytics data (which takes 10 seconds), the app deep dives your data to see if there’s any measurable performance difference between visitors from different countries, regions or cities. It specifically looks for traffic-weighted anomalies, as well as locations that convert well above – or well below – your baseline averages.
Results can be refreshed daily, weekly or monthly.
Why it’s awesome: Optimizing your geo-locations can often drive an immediate and near-effortless increase in ROAS. Setting up filters on all of your paid traffic sources to throttle, or maybe even block traffic from geos that significantly under-perform on a traffic-weighted basis can immediately lift your overall conversion rates. This is just like turning off ads that don’t perform, or shutting off the losing side of an A/B split test – except most marketers never get around to it.
It can also raise higher-level questions & insights. (Eg. Why do people in Seattle hate our product, but New Yorkers love it?). Answering these questions can sometimes end up being game-changer
#3 – SEM Bypass: Buy actual Google search traffic indirectly, for CPC’s that are usually a fraction of Adwords…
What it does: Takes all of your high-volume keyword targets and scans the first page of organic results (top 10), for each keyword. Then it scans all of those results and identifies the pages where you can place display ads, directly. The app also runs an algorithm to determine what your maximum CPM for those display ads should be, on that page, to ensure that you’re coming in at a discount compared to the estimated CPC using Adwords.
Results can be refreshed weekly or monthly.
Why it’s awesome: Anyone who’s had to try and make an Adwords campaign profitable in an industry with $20+ CPC’s is probably smiling ear-to-ear right now. This is a legit alternative to a conventional Adwords campaign, and you really can scoop up the exact same traffic, for a fraction of the usual cost, simply by standing a few feet further down the stream.
This capability is a killer sales-closing tool for agencies, by the way.
Anyway – hopefully this is showcasing how we’re turning “growth hacks” into apps.
Including the examples above, we currently have 9 fully functional apps working right now, inside the Zag platform.
There should be 10 by month-end.
We can basically build a new app like this in about 1-2 weeks per app, depending on complexity & data sources.
I’ll post a quick walkthrough of all the current apps on the blog soon – likely as a short video.
And obviously, 10 apps is just the beginning…
What’s the Overall Vision for Zag?
The overall vision for Zag is to build an expansive app platform (eventually 100+ apps) that gives people awesome growth opportunities & marketing discoveries, continually, without making them work for it.
Marketing intelligence has always been an area where I’ve been a passionate customer – but where I’ve always felt there could be a better delivery model.
Zag is my attempt to provide that superior delivery model .
A model where real discoveries can be perpetually surfaced with minimal input. Where users can get meaningful intelligence for every marketing channel. And where users can pick & choose exactly what they want, and only pay for actual usage.
Who’s This For?
Zag caters to sophisticated digital marketers, marketing consultants, marketing agencies, and SMB’s.
In short, it’s valuable to anyone with a good grasp of marketing fundamentals: things like conversion rates, audience targeting & competitive intelligence.
I’m not actively targeting enterprise level customers (too much drama). And I’m also not targeting mom n’ pops or local businesses (too much hand-holding).
Why an App Marketplace vs a “Bronze, Silver, Gold” Membership Model?
There’s 2 primary reasons behind this decision.
First – I want my customers to have complete flexibility.
Every app is activated/deactivated at the campaign level, individually priced, and 100% pay-as-you-go.
From a dev perspective, this allows us to build hugely-capable apps with premium data sources, since we’re simply passing through data costs based on usage.
This represents huge value to our customers, since they will only ever pay for the things they’re actually using. There will be customers who only have one app activated at $10/mo or something. And similarly there will be power users & agencies with tens of campaigns, and a slew of apps carefully selected & driving targeting discoveries for each of those campaigns.
Second – this is a strategic, business-level decision.
Without boring you to death, the app marketplace model allows us to be a lot more agile.
We can quickly build product for trending sectors of digital marketing with single-purpose apps. We can also spin out our top-selling apps as standalone products / lead magnets, or integrate them as plugins into other ecosystems like Shopify, WordPress, etc.
But ultimately… I just think it’s a cool idea.
(So… why the hell not?)
Here’s My Dorky Idea for Launching Zag…
This is going to seem completely off-topic… and will only amplify the level of dorkiness that I already exude – but does anyone here play games on Steam?
(Steam is the most popular platform for buying PC games).
Well, as any of my fellow, socially awkward, Steam-using dorks probably already guessed – over the past few years, the gaming industry has adopted a sort of “Kickstarter model” for upcoming games, called Early Access.
The main difference between Early Access games on Steam and things on Kickstarter.com, though, is that instead of giving money to strangers in the hopes that they’ll actually ship you some piece of crap 2 years later that loosely resembles their initial prototype, if you’re lucky…
…Early Access games actually exist. They are playable now. You get a lot of your money’s worth now. And you also get ongoing, locked-in perks indefinitely.
And generally, the idea is to take an active role in the development of the game as a founding player, helping to shape the ultimate game itself, in exchange for exclusive benefits not available to regular players later on when the game goes retail.
My dorky self has enormously enjoyed the “early access” experience with several titles. Most notably Elite Dangerous – a space simulation where I can fly around in various spaceships exploring an actual recreation of the Milky Way galaxy, while getting killed incessantly by acne-ridden 12 year-olds.
Anyway – the point being – I’m going to do something similar with Zag.
Stay tuned for details on this – as well as a little tour of the platform and all the apps that are currently functional 🙂
P.S. I just posted an itemized list of all 10 apps currently functional / getting built, in the FB comments section directly below – you might have to click “see more” to expand the full list…