Morten Ebbesen is the founder and CEO of Siteimprove. He recently sat down for a fireside chat with Thomas Klindt, Global VP of Marketing.

Looking Back at 2018

Thomas: Since we’ve just closed out 2018, what were the Siteimprove highlights of the year for you?

Morten: Over the last few years we’ve increasingly built programs to put customer feedback and needs at the heart of all our plans. In 2018, I feel the way we’ve captured the needs of our customers was one of our key achievements.

Thomas: How do you believe we accomplished that?

Morten: From a product perspective, our customers requested two things that we delivered on. First, they wanted a very easy to use SEO tool with very advanced capabilities. Second, they needed a product to highlight if they were in breach of data security, which is incredibly hard to keep track of manually when you’re in charge of big websites. We went to work and launched both tools in 2018.

What’s more pleasing is that these products now have high levels of adoption and a great level of acceptance, so we know we got this right based on the research we did with customers.

Then and Now: Comparing Siteimprove

Thomas: What value do you see the Siteimprove Platform offering now compared to a few years ago?

Morten: We’ve come to a place where we’re helping our customers solve complex problems while at the same time keeping the platform simple to use, even for non-expert users. The Siteimprove Intelligence Platform has matured and while there is a lot of complexity under the hood it’s very important to me that we focus on great usability and make hard problems simple to solve for our customers.

Thomas: How have Siteimprove customers and their needs changed over the years?

Morten: In our younger days, we would have a web editor or someone working in marketing who had a clearly defined set of needs. They would serve as our main and often single point of contact. However, as websites have become larger and are now the key public-facing asset for most organizations, the stakeholder groups we work with have also become more complex. Our customers now span the public sector and different industries in the private sector, as well as NGOs.

We try to have a dialogue with as many different customers and stakeholders as possible to get a true understanding of what’s needed for their business. And from a technology perspective, we have to figure out how to be broad and specific at the same time to address the needs of many different users.

If You Could Ask Our Customers Anything…

Thomas: We get a lot of feedback via the Siteimprove community and would love to encourage more request submissions. If you could ask our customers one question, what would that be?

Morten: There are actually two. The first is ‘how likely are you to recommend us?’

Thomas: That’s a good one. Tell me why you’d ask that particular question.

Morten: The best marker for knowing whether you’re doing a good job is when a customer is willing to recommend you. This is the ultimate indicator that we’re meeting our customers’ needs. We also keep an eye on other indicators such as the G2 Crowd report where we were recently ranked as number one for the easiest analytics tool to use and number two as the top overall digital analytics software. But hearing it directly from customers with some concrete feedback is always best.

Thomas: And the second question?

Morten: I want to hear what customers expect to be their main challenge for 2020 and beyond. Our future as a company lies in listening to what the customer has to say—and I’m always listening. I’ve never walked away from a customer without learning something new.

What Direction Is Siteimprove Headed In?

Thomas: What’s the plan for Siteimprove from the CEO perspective?

Morten: All of our customers have one thing in common: they’re struggling with the complexity of managing content across their web estate. We have the ambition of finding content, wherever it resides, to make it visible and to help customers resolve their content related issues. This can range from fixing broken links, which is typically a time-intensive task in quality assurance, to helping businesses ensure they are on page one of Google’s search results through keyword optimized content, to finding personally identifiable data in various assets from web pages to PDFs. And we need to do all of this across all the digital platforms where that content lives.

Thomas: Can you tell us a bit more about what’s coming this year from a product perspective?

Morten: The next thing coming is a new Campaigns feature that’s part of our Analytics product. It helps marketers simplify UTM link building, keep tabs on all their campaigns and identify the ones that really drive traffic and conversion. This new feature has everyone excited.

I can also tell you that we’ve got several other exciting new features and products in the pipeline, but you’ll need to watch this space for future updates.

Thomas: Is there anything you think is particularly awesome, but people have missed the awesomeness of it?

Morten: The policy engine. I love this feature and it’s not always the most obvious one to come across. You can set up custom policies in one central place in our platform and use data from all products—Accessibility to SEO. For example, you can combine QA and SEO metrics to create policies on pages with long meta-tags and a low click-through rate in Google. You can then change the meta-tags, re-run the policy, and see if the click-through rate improves over time. The more product modules you have, the more dynamic the policies. You can customize them so they fit your business needs.

Firstimprover Program

Thomas: Let’s talk about how customers can get involved in evolving the platform. Can you tell me about the Firstimprover program?

Morten: Our Firstimprovers get early access to new products and features in development. They are customers who are curious and want to make sure we get it right. They test our features at different stages of the development process, provide feedback, and help us shape the outcome.

Thomas: The Firstimprovers are expanding I understand?

Morten: Yes! We want to spread the program out because we see it as an opportunity to involve our customers more in the development of the Siteimprove platform. Ideally, we want thousands to join the program. We want honest feedback from customers— whether they’re happy or cranky. Customers can sign up now to become a Firstimprover.

Partners

Thomas: Outside of the key changes in the platform, I know that we have an exciting business level partnership coming up. Can you talk about that a bit?

Morten: We entered into an official Business level partnership with Adobe. They have hundreds, possibly thousands of solution partners, but less than 25 are at Business level, and we are one of them. We’ve developed an integration for Adobe Experience Manager, and are working on ways to integrate deeper with Adobe Experience Manager. Existing and future customers will also be able to meet us at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, so we sure hope they drop by to say hi.

Key Trends for 2019

Thomas: In your opinion, what evolutions will we see in website development, optimization, and privacy for the coming year?

Morten: First there’s accessibility. More people accept that digital content should be accessible, available to everyone, and inclusive. I also think we’ll see more sanctions being handed out due to inaccessible websites this year. Another trend focuses on data privacy. We’ve seen so many breaches in so many countries that the rest of the world will likely follow the steps the EU took to protect personal privacy. Lastly, I think people will continue to use a lot of tools. But there will come a wish to have them all work better together. With a lot of tools you lose an overview.

From the Siteimprove perspective, I believe integrating with the best-of-breed stack and the tools and solutions our customers are already using is key. We want to address their need, where they already are, with as few context changes as possible. We also have to acknowledge that we'll never be experts in everything, but we’ll certainly try to integrate with those tools that are the best for their particular area. It would be a mistake to say that we can cover all needs, but we can unequivocally say that we’ll continue to try and simplify website optimization challenges for customers and fit in with the key solutions and platforms they already have in their MarTech stack.