Much like my crazy hill-bombing days of yore, launching a new business is a lot like standing at the top of an unridden hill, with one foot on the board, and the other on the pavement.

Before pushing off and initiating the descent, there’s a momentary pause before putting both feet on the board and fully committing.

And as you stand there, seemingly frozen in time, no matter how experienced you are, or how many hills you’ve conquered… there’s still that lingering question: “Will I make it?”


Zag has been nearly 2 years in the making at this stage.

Officially, the shovels hit the ground in March of this year, so we’re about 6 months into development of Zag itself. But the conceptual stage, wireframing, building out the initial dev environment (now legacy), finding the right talent… etc. It’s definitely pushing 2 years.

But here we are. Once again, I find myself at the top of a hill I’ve never ridden, with one foot on the board – ready to push off… contemplating my descent. It’s a strange feeling.

By some measures, I’m an accomplished rider. This is all I’ve done – for over a decade at this point. But all that really means is that I’m more aware of the pitfalls, and I understand the fundamentals intrinsically – many things are second nature. It doesn’t guarantee success.

Even so – there’s only one thing left to do: Commit.

So here we go.


In case you missed my previous post, Zag is a marketing intelligence platform focused on strategic growth (aka: growth hacking).

We’re taking the smartest strategies in digital marketing, and converting them into apps.

Each app delivers a stream of ideas, intelligence & starting points related to a smart growth strategy.

Each app can be activated (or deactivated) in a matter of seconds, and most run on autopilot. When the platform launches publicly, apps will be individually priced and 100% pay-as-you-go.

Further down I’ve posted a quick synopsis of the apps currently built, apps currently being re-factored or transitioned from our legacy platform, and apps in our development queue.

But at the moment, let’s talk about what’s happening next week…

Zag Opens for Early Access Next Week.
Here’s What That Means…

We’re still a couple months away from opening the platform publicly, for mainstream customers.

This is mostly just to do with infrastructure items: integrating the payment system, fleshing out core controls in our admin backoffice, building the process flow with our CRM, and polishing the platform in general.

In terms of product (apps), though, we’re actually quite a ways down the roadmap already.

Which brings us to ‘early access’ (EA). We’re going to be letting in 100 EA users that don’t mind putting up with a bit of a “construction zone” for a couple months while we polish up a few remaining areas, and get the platform ready for its official marketing campaign.

The idea here is for the early users to help directly shape the platform’s construction over the next couple months.

In exchange, here is what we’re offering EA users:

  • Lifetime, grandfathered discounts on all current and future apps, forever.
  • Lifetime access to “Zag Pro”, which will be a $495 upgrade for regular users down the road (enabling unlimited campaigns & sub-users, white label reporting, premium content, etc.)
  • Use the currently available apps at no cost for until we open the platform publicly (at least 2+ months, probably more like 3-4)
  • Vote on which apps in our roadmap get built first
  • Directly shape the other features of the platform; and
  • Conceptualize your dream “growth hack” app for us to build – and then use it for free, forever.
  • And more

This is available for all of my previous customers, and everyone else who’s patiently endured my drivel through the years.

But it will be first come, first serve. And due to data constraints (usage costs), 100 users is truly all we can intake.

Note: There will be an EA access “buy-in”. We’re still determining what that will be, as it has to be balanced against dev requirements & estimated data usage. Our premium data powering many of the apps really adds up under heavy usage.

Our target opening date for EA is Aug 22nd. (Stay tuned).

Let’s talk about the apps themselves…

The App Roadmap

There’s various other platform features that we’ll be working on throughout EA and after we open the doors publicly (which I’ll go over in a few days), but really the core of what Zag is all about is the apps themselves.

Down the road, I envision us offering possibly hundreds of apps. Our long-scope roadmap currently has 57 app concepts. We’ll definitely encounter more ideas as things progress, both internally and from EA users.

But for now – here’s the tally of apps already built, followed by our short-term roadmap:


1) In-Market Intercept: Reach people on the verge of buying from competitors with ads / conversations.

 

 

 

 

Status: 97% working & functional in Zag. 2-3 dev hours remaining to add a page scanning feature, but still usable now.

2) Treasure Map: Plug the silent budget-suckers by throttling or cutting out underperforming geo locations across your ad campaigns.

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Zag. Both the map & bar charts are placeholders, needs a visual refresh, when possible.

3) SEM Bypass: Capture downstream Google traffic for a fraction of Adwords’ CPC’s, with display ads.

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Zag.

4) Topical Thunder: Always know exactly what topics, products, & questions are hitting a nerve – right now – across key sites, forums & Youtube channels in your industry. (Goldmine for coming up with headlines, ad ideas, products, etc)

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Zag.

5) News Rider: Monitor every news site and get notified any time news hits that mentions your target keywords. You can then place your ads directly on those articles, leave strategic comments, etc. (Ride the wave, baby!)

 

 

 

 

Status: 90% working & functional in Zag. Currently being refactored with a better datasource, next week.

6) Search Traffic Siphon: Just like SEM Bypass, except instead of scanning for pages where you can drop ads, it scans for pages where you can drop comments, and pull in some strategic search exposure, instantly, for $0 adspend

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Zag.

7) Raving Referrals: Discover where you’ve been mentioned or recommended across the web – with a complete breakdown of attributed revenue, conversion rate & avg LTV. (Your next favourite traffic source might be hiding in your data).

 

 

 

 

Status: 90% working & functional in Zag. Currently being refactored for more accurate results from Google Analytics, 1-2 hours remaining.

8) Keyword Intelligence: This is a focused keyword discovery app that uncovers the top advertisers in your market, and most importantly – exactly how they spend their money!

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Legacy Environment. Migrating to Zag starting last week of August.

9) SEO Radar: You might be an inch from gold, and not even know it. This app shows you where you *almost* rank on page 1, for keywords you might not even be tracking 🙂

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Legacy Environment. Migrating to Zag starting last week of August.

10) Backlink Amplifier: This is a killer app – it crawls your existing backlinks, and pinpoints your best candidates for ‘backlink reinforcement’, so you can easily turn DA 10 links into DA 50+ backlinks, for minimal effort & expense, and in a matter of days.

 

 

 

 

Status: 100% working & functional in Legacy Environment. Migrating to Zag starting first week of Sept.


And, here’s our short-term roadmap (apps in queue to be built over Q3 & Q4)

These aren’t in any particular order, because EA users will get to vote on the dev sequence, along with any “dream apps” submitted by them/other users…

  • Compounding Interests: Starting with a root keyword / topic, build out a comprehensive map of parallel topics, which can also be expanded. An “exponential targeting thesaurus”, so to speak. (Facebook media buyers will love this)
  • Chain Extraction: Starting with a root person (name), run a “ricochet query” to build lists of people mentioned alongside the root person, across the indexed web. The process will run multiple tiers, eventually generating a list of hundreds or thousands of related industry “celebrities” & influencers. (This is a goldmine for building audience targets, finding new influencers to work with, ad placements, etc.)
  • Audience Amplifier: Starting with a root domain, build out a comprehensive map of similar sites using the same method as Chain Extraction, but for domains instead of people. Users can also choose 100+ URLs to get social channels for each site.
  • Fast Action Hero: Starting with a list of keywords – scan forums, discussions, & social channels across the total internet in realtime so you can add thoughtful replies and drive leads within minutes of the original post.
  • Influential Intel: Persistently track key influencers in your industry and measure key metrics like subscriber growth, hot content, posting frequency, promotional strategy, and more.
  • VIP Radar: Automatically examine new subscribers, customers & users to identify potential VIP’s, influencers & industry whales.
  • SEO Impact Analysis: Directly measure your ROI from SEO, and also determine the overall impact organic traffic provides as an assisting channel. (Ideal for agencies with clients).
  • Advertising Impact Analysis: Directly measure your ROI from Display & PPC, and also determine the overall impact paid acquisition provides as an assisting channel. (Ideal for agencies with clients).
  • Social Impact Analysis: Directly measure your ROI from Social Media, and also determine the overall impact social referral provides as an assisting channel. (Ideal for agencies with clients).
  • The Big Picture: Measure & compare the impact of every marketing channel – so that you can clearly see how everything stacks up, which channels have the most impact across the customer journey, and more. (This is a must-have for agencies).
  • Max Growth EQ: Automatically determine the optimal CAC range for maximum scale, per channel – based on your floor profit per user.
  • Happy Hours: Actively monitor each channel’s sales, conversion rates and overall engagement by hour of day & weekday metrics. (Then  strategically optimize your ad & email campaigns accordingly)
  • Dream Apps – Submitted by EA Users: This is optional, but EA users that want us to build their dream app can submit it into the queue, and everyone else will vote on when it gets built. Obviously, we’ll first internally vet submissions to make sure they’re actually feasible and possible to build.

So… you could say we have our work cut out for us 🙂


As is probably evident – Zag is a big, ambitious project that borders on crazy.

I also think it’s awesome, and based on the nature of the business model – the platform can stay fresh & exciting for a long, long time.

Like I mentioned earlier, the polished, pretty-looking platform won’t be opening to the public until later this winter sometime.

But if there’s any adventurous spirits out there who don’t mind a little sawdust on the floor in the meantime (and who like the idea of lifetime discounts across every app forever, or building a dream app and using it for free, forever… etc.)… then maybe Early Access is something that piques your interest.

There’s enough room on the skateboard for a few brave souls to jump onboard with us.

Might be fun 🙂

Stay tuned for more details, very shortly – along with a detailed video walkthrough of the current platform (and the apps) in the next few days.

Thanks!

~ Chris

P.S. Please don’t feel obliged to fill out the form on Zag.ai. If you’re reading this blog, it means you’re on my list (probably), and therefore you’re “pre-approved” on account of tolerating my crap for the last several years.

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