The year 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in our personal and business lives as we witnessed the most accelerated and unpredicted changes in recent history.
Few would have anticipated both COVID-19 and the impact it would have on our modern world.
It brought tremendous challenges and created unprecedented opportunities for businesses to serve and support customers locked in and locked down by a global pandemic.
Throughout the year, Vendasta looked to partner with digital agencies to help businesses everywhere survive and thrive.
Important product releases and community support delivered through Vendasta’s Conquer Local Academy helped businesses digitally transform, work remotely, and move to ecommerce.
Reflecting on 2020, here are some of our more memorable achievements in support of digital agencies and local businesses:
Number 10: Fastest WordPress Hosting
A website is among the first points of contact a customer has with a business and the speed with which a website loads makes all the difference when it comes to that initial customer experience.
According to a Google research, the probability of people bouncing away from a website increases by 32 percent if the page load time increases from one second to three seconds.
Vendasta in 2020 moved its website product offering to the fastest WordPress hosting option.
We migrated the infrastructure of our Website product to Google Cloud Platform’s next-generation compute-optimized (C2) machines, which gave our partners the ability to provide their customers with faster ecommerce and unparalleled WordPress performance.
Vendasta’s Website product now enables you to build better, more faster websites.
Number 9: Project Management Tools
COVID-19 forced a majority of the workforce to work from home, which made communication and collaboration more challenging for businesses.
Digital marketing agencies needed powerful management tools to track projects and handle the requirements of their business customers.
With that in mind, Vendasta invested heavily in project management tools in 2020, designing a simple, and more effective new interface for the Task Manager product, allowing Vendasta partners to manage projects in an easier and more productive manner.
The new simplified workflow lets them create tasks at any instant, track ongoing projects every minute, and manage assigned people for those projects.
Furthermore, partners were also able to save time by utilizing the project library and existing ready-to-use templates for projects, including creating new meetings, responding to online reviews, and answering questions on Google.
Number 8: Snapshot Report & Ecommerce
Snapshot Report was created as a prospecting tool to help digital agencies have meaningful conversations with business customers. By scraping the internet for information, Snapshot Report assesses the online presence and performance of their business customers.
Insights provided included detailed assessments about a business’s listings, reviews, social media, website, digital advertising, and SEO health.
In 2020, an ecommerce section was added to Snapshot Report providing business customers with actionable ecommerce insights, including:
- Online storefront that determines whether a business has the ability to sell their products online using an ecommerce platform.
- Online payments that assess whether businesses can accept online transactions through a payment gateway.
- Lead engagement, which after scanning a business’s website, assesses whether it is properly set up to engage with prospective customers.
Using this information, agencies can conduct meaningful conversations with customers, help them find areas for improvement, and make an easier move to online.
Number 7: Improved User Experience
In a bid to provide customers with the best service, this year Vendasta improved the ability for customers to connect with their support representatives faster than ever before.
As a result of staffing and system improvements, customer service call wait times were reduced from more than two minutes on average to 30 seconds or less for 91 percent of all incoming calls.
Vendasta’s customer service team also adopted a ‘screenshare first’ mindset to drastically increase the number of screen shares with customers during support calls in an effort to see and solve their problems faster.
Furthermore, to make our onboarding process more efficient and frictionless, we rolled out the segmented onboarding functionality for when customers sign up to use our platform.
Under this strategy, designed to help new partners achieve their desired use case, we enable them to choose one of six paths when they start using the platform, which helps them find their “aha” moment as soon as possible.
Number 6: Meeting Scheduler
COVID-19 put an end to in-person business meetings.
Virtual meetings became the norm and businesses needed software to virtually meet and collaborate with partners, suppliers, vendors, and even potential customers.
In August, Vendasta launched Meeting Scheduler -- a remote meeting software that connects with customers virtually and automatically by setting their availability, syncing with a Google calendar, and creating a link to schedule customer meetings that can be shared from anywhere.
It allows a salesperson to choose pre-set time slots, and lets the link receiver book only those appointments that work best for both parties
Meetings can be held through Google Meet or Zoom at no additional charge, and the in-built intelligent notification system sends timely reminders to all participants.
Number 5: Ecommerce Website Offerings
Ecommerce helps businesses break the confining barriers of location and allows them to acquire new customers online -- a strategy that was essential during COVID-19.
Vendasta offered digital agencies the ability to help business customers move online by creating ecommerce websites for selling products.
This all-in-one solution lets agencies choose domain names, provides secure hosting options, and a robust content management system.
Partners that use Marketing Services to support and augment their services could enhance website offerings with website copy creation, ecommerce, faster delivery times, 12 months of support, and flexible payment options.
Number 4: Merchant Services
In June 2020, Vendasta launched Merchant Services that offered agencies the ability to securely accept credit card payments (powered by Stripe).
This billing function was an addition to previous Merchant Services capabilities to market services and connect with customers using marketing automation, sell products through sales intelligence and CRM tools, and fulfill customer needs through fulfillment software and outsourced services.
Billing completes the shopping experience for customers by giving them the flexibility to purchase anything at their convenience.
Number 3: Awards & Recognition
In 2020, Vendasta was acknowledged as one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada as it achieved 429 percent business growth from 2014 to 2019.
The company was featured on the Canadian Business Growth List -- the country’s most respected and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement.
The Vendasta platform was also recognized for its automated marketing processes, winning the DigiDay Technology Award for Best Marketing Automation Platform.
Vendasta was recognized as Great Place to Work Certified™, and won two SIINDA awards for service and master innovation in supporting SMBs during the COVID-19 global pandemic through the Local Business Online Toolkit (more on that later).
Number 2: Conquer Local Academy
The launch of the Conquer Local Academy in April 2020 was a significant achievement.
The inspiration behind it was an effort to help local businesses survive and thrive, with training, tools, and community support.
Through the Conquer Local Academy, agencies could enhance their business skills through training courses, interact with industry thought leaders in a community forum, and share those learnings to help their business customers.
The fact that there is something in there for everyone is what makes the Conquer Local Academy perfect. It brings people together and that is what provides value. For me, the aspect where I have the freedom to connect with other digital marketing agency owners, share ideas with them, and brainstorm strategies for the success of my own business is really inspiring.
By December, the Academy offered 22 courses, 50 modules, 60 hours of learning, more than 400 lessons, served 6,000 learners, and there were 7,500 courses either in-progress or completed.
Conquer Local Academy also included 37 weekly Vendasta-hosted community sessions for a total of more than 1,200 registered attendees who learned from each other through open discussions, shared tactics and strategies for scaling businesses, and celebrated wins.
Number 1: Local Business Online Toolkit
The Local Business Online Toolkit was the top achievement for Vendasta in 2020
The Local Business Online Toolkit, or LBOT, is a set of free digital solutions for making the move to online that included: ecommerce website building tools, online reputation management, plus social media and business listings management.
LBOTs support agency efforts to help business customers stay connected to the communities they serve.
Many small businesses that are not online and ecommerce-enabled are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The situation is dire for these small businesses. The choices are to close or move online. Moving online is often viewed as expensive, time-consuming, and virtually impossible. We [Vendasta] are helping these businesses get online, book appointments, and transact.
Local Saskatchewan-based comic book store, Amazing Stories, was among the many successful users of the LBOT.
They had initially found the challenge of shifting to online business operations daunting and overwhelming. But, COVID-19 had made the move a necessity.
In April, 2020, Amazing Stories used the LBOT to enable ecommerce on their website, connect their Google My Business account, and use social media tools to improve their visibility.
Since that time Amazing Stories earned $70,000 in ecommerce sales and, in December, were on track for their biggest month ever.