You visit a website for the first time and right away you get a request for your email address. You're tempted to flee. After all, do you really want to give some random site your information? You've only just met.
New York's Bounce Exchange wants to give you a reason to stick around. The behavioral automation software and analytics provider is on a mission to make the internet more polite. By analyzing user behavior--for instance, from where someone enters a site and the amount of time he or she spends there--Bounce Exchange wants to maximize conversion. In other words, it wants to help you turn consumers into customers.
"The reality is our clients are in business to do business, so they have things they want people to do," says Bounce Exchange co-founder and CEO Ryan Urban. The trick, adds Urban, is to help consumers have a better experience online by tailoring websites to their behavior.
For someone browsing the web, the tactics might seem obvious, but in a marketing world still fueled by competition for mere views, this puts the company, which also goes by BounceX, ahead of the pack. The strategy is also starting to pay off. The company's revenue ballooned to more than $15.7 million last year, up from $107,216 in 2012. By 2018, it expects to bring in more than $100 million in annual revenue.
If you ask Urban what's behind his company's growth, you'll get a boilerplate response: "It's been very organic, mostly client driven." The company's first client was online retailer BustedTees. It now counts about a dozen Fortune 500 companies as customers, as well as dozens of popular internet retailers and eight of the world's 10 largest publishers.
However, Rob Enderle, founder of Bend, Oregon-based Enderle Group, says there's something more tectonic afoot. Bounce Exchange has tapped into a market that's only just now emerging, says the technology industry analyst. The marketing world still largely revolves around views and clickthroughs of ads and websites, but companies are starting to think more about conversion.
The reasons are plentiful, says Enderle, noting that conversion--for instance, signing a new subscriber or triggering a sale--leads to actual money coming in. While some companies promise ad views, a company like Bounce Exchange is promising a return on investment. "In theory, the money you pay to them, you get a hard return on," he says.
What Bounce Exchange does specifically is monitor where site traffic comes from--examples being ads, Google searches, and social media--and what customers do on websites. Someone who stays on a news site for an extended period reading multiple articles may be prompted to share his or her email address or pitched a paid subscription, for example, while someone who reads half of one story and then leaves might simply be served an ad.
Another example: A credit card offer that comes with the perk of 20 percent off of a purchase won't be offered to the person who spends only $20. It might instead go to the person making a $200 purchase.
Urban got the idea for the company in 2010 while attending a three-day digital marketing analytics seminar as an e-commerce consultant. He said it was clear to him that the instructor didn't know what he was talking about when the lecture turned to conversions.
"So I stopped listening and started thinking: 'What was the real problem that needed to be solved?' It started with a simple question: If you had the power to know precisely when people were bouncing [leaving a site], what would you do with it? I dragged my friend out of the class right there and told him I was starting a company," Urban recalls later in an email. "I spent the rest of the seminar with my headphones on fleshing out the idea."
Urban's high energy and wide-ranging attention span carries into how he runs his now 200-person company. Each morning, Urban walks a lap around his company's office and says hello to each staffer. It's a demonstration of the type of energy Bounce Exchange looks for when it hires.
"Everyone here talks a mile a minute," he says, inserting a quick, rhythmic "da-da-da" imitation of conversation flow. "I can't keep up with the brains of some of the people here."
Enderle couldn't, off the top of his head, think of a company that focuses exclusively on conversion as Bounce Exchange does, though he did suggest that larger analytics firms such as SalesForce offer the service. Still, Bounce Exchange has an edge in these relationships because it's small and nimble--making it faster to adapt and respond to customer needs than larger shops, says Enderle.
This is also indicative in some of the challenges Bounce Exchange faces. Marketing departments can be slow to change, says Enderle. "It's always hard fighting the status quo, and this company is fighting the status quo."