Getting the most out of SPROCKIT from the words of a SPROCKIT superstar, AlertMe
There’s one thing that every startup needs before it can possibly think about moving beyond the startup phase.
For AlertMe, that validation came over a wild 10 days of July 2017.
AlertMe had launched a few months earlier, as a content discovery engine designed to help publishers stay connected directly with their most engaged online readers. Partners put the AlertMe button on all stories, and then when readers want to keep updated on specific storylines, they register for alerts on narrow threads.
AlertMe had been generating positive results with the roster of initial partners, and when I was speaking at an industry breakfast last July, our concept caught the attention of SPROCKIT Thought Leader Jennifer Byrne. She suggested we speak with Harry and Stephanie about the program.
After a fantastic conversation, AlertMe was flattered by the invitation to join. To us, it was validation of the value AlertMe could bring for media. I jumped at the opportunity and boarded a plane days later for San Francisco and a visit to Google Headquarters. It was there AlertMe became part of a family of media innovators, and where I met Roger Keating of Hearst TV, who was interested in what we do.
Days later, we presented to Roger’s team, and within 60 days, AlertMe was live on KCRA, the Hearst station in Sacramento and a longtime market leader. After follow-up conversations at subsequent Syncs as well as offline conversations, the AlertMe can now be seen on all 27 Hearst stations across the country. See how it works in the footer of any news story on a site like WCVB/Boston or WTAE/Pittsburgh.
Since joining SPROCKIT, the AlertMe footprint has grown dramatically, with dozens of additional sites reaching more than 60 million unique users each month.
Those additional sites have jumped on because of that validation, and the subsequent analytics AlertMe has delivered. Over the past year, we have seen alerts send direct traffic to a partner site on 49.7% of all alerts sent, giving publishers a 50/50 chance at site traffic growth every time an alert is sent. By comparison, research shows that publishers usually get a 4.7% clickthrough rate to the site off a newsletter. It’s obvious why: if a reader raises a digital hand, asking for specific new information… they’ll open it when that info comes.
Much of that success has come from what was learned from a year of Syncs, and the advice of the SPROCKIT team. Beyond that, we leveraged many of the benefits that come with membership, most notably the credit given from AWS.
I always share the same advice when speaking with potential SPROCKIT startups: you will rarely be surrounded by more brilliant, innovative people, so make sure you take advantage of it. Whether over drinks at the bar, trips to the airport, or laughs at the NAB wrap-up dinner, the relationships you make can not only be professionally helpful, but personally enriching. As entrepreneurs, we need as much as that as we can get and I treasure the time talking shop with folks like Mike Avon, Randa Minkarah, Adam Sutherland and Jeremy Mims.
In Spring 2017, I would have given anything for the validation that came from SPROCKIT, but now in hindsight, I realize it was that and so much more.