Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Fastbase Story

Fastbase is a data analytics company that offers a growing suite of tools to support B2B marketing and sales. Fastbase was founded in 2014 by marketing and tech entrepreneur Rasmus Refer. In June 2016 Fastbase launched Fastbase WebLeads, an add-on to Google Analytics, that identifies companies that visit websites by using the data gathered by Google analytics and by Fastbase.
The Fastbase platform gathers and displays detailed information on website visitors, including the name of the company, contact information, email addresses, and LinkedIn profiles. Its platform can identify website visitors in real-time providing business customers with powerful insights into their website users’ behaviour.
Fastbase is one of the companies that provide web leads like Lead Forensics, Leedfeeder, Leadlander, Leady and Leadfuze. According to the CEO, Fastbase would like to be seen as a contender for being in the top 6. There are many satisfied users who have been using the product to help them in their B2B marketing for a number of years.
I have worked with the Fastbase team as a consultant for six months in a very interesting area of data analytics. Here is a description of the Fastbase products.


It started with Google Analytics

Roughly half of the world’s population or 3,8 billion people use the internet every day. Internet Live Stats claims there’s around 5,5 billion Google searches per day or more than 63,000 search queries per second. in 2020. there may be 7 billion, or even 10 billion Google searches per day, but best to take this information with a grain of salt as we will witness the true figures in time.
Google Analytics is a mega technology, as it is used by at least 29,134,826 websites on the Internet. Google Analytics is a freemium analytic tool that provides detailed statistics of the web traffic. It is used by more than 60% of website owners.

Google analytics helps to track and measure visitors, traffic sources, goals, conversion, and other metrics and generates reports on −
       Audience Analysis
       Acquisition Analysis
       Behavior Analysis
       Conversion Analysis
This information is helpful to see how popular pages are on a website but it does not help identify the companies who are visiting. It was possible to use fields from GA to match against companies using the same IP address but in February 2020 Google deprecated two important fields used in identifying website visitors: Network Domain and Service Provider.

97% of website visitors leave without any trace

Statistics show that a high percentage of visitors to a B2B website leave without trace. That is frustrating. How does one trace the people who visit but do not request contact via popup or form? There are 3 steps to working out who has been visiting a B2B business site:
1. Figure out the name of company visiting your site
2. Find a Contact at the Company
3. Figure Out Their Email and Reach Out
It is described in this article by Dmitry Dragilev about converting website visitors. The 3 steps above and Dmitry’s advice is is a good fit for companies which are selling a product or service costing around $15 but for companies selling at over a hundred dollars a month it makes more sense to automate this.

How do Fastbase do this?

Fastbase have created a number of products to help companies in a B2B sales cycle:
       InMarket Leads
       Adwords Click Identifier


Fastbase WebLeads takes data from Google Analytics. Data is also collected by a special small snippet of Fastbase code which is added to the website exactly in the same way as the GA code (because of the deprecated fields Network Domain and Service Provider). By using the data returned from these two sources Fastbase cross-references visitor IP addresses and matches to Fastbase’s proprietary big data store of worldwide companies.
It is straightforward to register and start using Fastbase WebLeads by signing in with a Google analytics account and agreeing that Fastbase can access the Google analytics data.
Once in the application the first time a short tour of the menu items explains the main features. Then Fastbase retrieves the leads from your analytics account.
The main menu offers a search of leads and a location filter. Then the main views are:
       New leads
       Hot leads
       Google Ads leads
       Show Map
The ‘Stats’ option is useful for getting a snapshot of recent activity showing the most active visitors and their segmentation by industry and country.

Fastbase identifies companies/organisations (called webleads) which have visited and also provide a list of people from the organisation with available contact data. The data comes from their own company database which has been built using the company’s web-crawlers and algorithms. WebLeads does not identify which individual person from the organisation visited. However, the data available tells you which company and many of the people that work there and that is so much better than guessing and cold-calling. The Fastbase WebLeads information also helps determine if marketing efforts are effective and helps track site visitors through the entire sales process.
The main use case for Fastbase WebLeads  is B2B lead generation.
The Fastbase Database of companies
Fastbase’s big data repository includes millions of the world’s most active companies. All companies are categorized by the Google Industry Index and contain all relevant contact information such as company name, address, phone number, website, contact information, email addresses, industry category, and more.
You can create filters (visitors from a specific country, visitors who viewed a certain page etc.) and integrate with your CRM system to feed in the qualified leads.
Drill down

By clicking on a company name in the WebLeads display you can drill into the company and website visitor data from GA is transformed into actionable information to help you contact decision-makers. The company information is populated from the Fastbase company database.
Historic View
Fastbase WebLeads gives access to view all the companies that have visited a website in the last 24 months. This helps understand the way a digital audience behaves and helps correlate it with marketing campaigns. Rasmus Refer the CTO told me that in the next release there will be a view back for 5 years.
WebLeads Views
The ‘Map’ option is a useful way to instantly see where your web visitors are based world-wide.

By looking at the companies that are visiting, the number of visits and the location it is possible to determine which are the priority potential customers and contact them just a short while after they were looking at your website.
There is a loyal user base and there have been some objective reviews of WebLeads since 2016:
Abilogic (2019)

Fastbase’s Other Tools

There are five other tools created by Fastbase which exist as products in their own right:

InMarket Leads

InMarket Leads, launched in 2018, is a tool that shows which companies are searching for certain relevant business keywords and shows the location of that company and the key contact details. Like Google Ads, Fastbase InMarket Leads users can choose leads according to keywords and company location. In addition, users can filter leads based on keyword search dates. The service is offered as a pay as you go service.


Fastbase MailAds is a new ad system to get marketing qualified leads (MQL). Fastbase MailAds manages the lead gen process after the target audience has been selected. Fastbase MailAds then takes over to free up marketing resources and deliver leads that have interacted with a business.
Key to how this works is access to Fastbase’s B2B business database with clean first-party quality data that includes individual contact information. In marketing, the two primary types of data available are known as ‘first-party’ and ‘third-party’. First-party data refers to the company’s data that they have collected from their own consumers and/or brand. Third-party data is information that’s collected by an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with customers. At Fastbase there is an experienced and talented team of big data experts using a range of techniques to collect freely available data from a number of different sources. They then consolidate it to resemble ‘first-party’ data.


Fastbase MailAds is a new ad system to get marketing qualified leads (MQL). Fastbase MailAds manages the lead gen process after the target audience has been selected. Fastbase MailAds then takes over to free up marketing resources and deliver leads that have interacted with a business.

How does MailAds simplify the marketing lead generation process?
       The target group is chosen by location, vertical, job position
       B2B business runs an email campaign
       All client interactions such as openers will be provided as a report or list which could then be targeted through digital marketing partners such as Google.
       Fastbase will track ads clicked and provide clients with leads (including visitor interaction)
Being able to use first and third-party data effectively can help organizations deliver next-level customer experience. According to Fastbase CEO, Kevin Rodgers: “Having a comprehensive data strategy is foundational in today’s business climate. From a digital marketing perspective, first-party data is the most valuable data a company can have. Historically third-party data has been used to help expand your audience and potentially reach new customers but the performance of that data on a CPL/CPA basis is often well behind that of first-party data. What Fastbase has done with their data, and specifically in building the MailAds product, is to offer their customers the ability to use third-party data with a first-party feel to capture more new leads at a cost per comparable to first-party data.”

Google Ads Click Identifier

Google Click Identifier shows companies and organizations that have clicked on your Google ads and reveals detailed information about the businesses that have interacted with ads including company name, website, address, phone number, contact and email information as well as the keywords searched and the advertisements that were clicked on. The Google Ads Click Identifier helps understand, optimize, and streamline the better performing ads and shows the companies that are interacting with ads.

Google Adwords Click Identifier

Offers a similar service as above for Adwords.

Business Model

Fastbase is a SaaS company. Webleads can be used free after the trial period (with reduced functionality) or users can continue on a standard Premium subscription. They also offer a Professional level for digital media agencies. The subscription for Premium starts at $39 per month and is calculated based on the number of profiles/websites monitored.
Fastbase Inc. is a Nevada-registered web and database analytics company. Fastbase Inc is currently listed on the OTC exchange in New York under the symbol FBSE. Recently the shares have started trading in New York:
       August 2019: Engaged Maxim Group LLC to provide general financial advisory and investment banking services
       August 2019: E*Trading available for Fastbase Inc. Shares
       September 2019: Fastbase Inc. (FBSE) starts trading on the OTC exchange in New York
Fastbase recently announced the appointment of Kevin Rodgers as Chief Executive Officer. He succeeds founder Rasmus Refer who grew the company into a market leader, analysing billions of web visits from over a million companies worldwide. Kevin Rodgers has been on the Fastbase Advisory Board for the last year and brings a wealth of industry knowledge and 13 years Google experience to Fastbase. Rasmus Refer will lead product development and focus on development of leading-edge data analytics solutions, data labs and technology engineering. The new CEO will concentrate on company strategy and operations, business development, marketing and sales.
The company has a history and knowledge of email marketing and since starting in 2016 have used email a lot to update users and invite share purchase. The company eagerness to contact its own database of registered users has not been without blips and at times it seems email distribution lists have not been updated in synch resulting in some users having to request removal a second time. I discussed this with the new CEO Kevin Rodgers and he was keen to point out the doubling down on governance that he will continue as the company move from its origins as a provider of leads to a data company developing AI to automate B2B business.
I wondered what his vision of a future Fastbase. He referred me to his recent press release explaining: “At our core Fastbase is a data company. As technology has advanced around areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence the ability to synthesize large amounts of data and find the right data points are critical. Businesses are looking towards technology and data to provide insights faster and at a larger scale by identifying aspects of the business that can be accelerated — one is a constant stream of leads which is fundamental for revenue growth and the other is information that can provide a significant advantage in competitive markets. I would like to thank the Board and Rasmus for this opportunity, and I am excited for us to build on Fastbase’s successes and momentum as we move the company forward.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Can you put a price on your full attention?

Once upon a time we paid for publications and now we expect content free. Advertising is becoming increasingly complex and the boundaries around trackers, cookies and popups and who controls them is blurring. We users are becoming the commodity and the carriers are the net gainers while up to 70 trackers from some popular media sites use our bandwidth and drain battery life. Brendan Eich's solution is to introduce blockchain based digital advertising. The Brave browser uses a 'basic attention token' to monitor anonymously and privately your attention to great content or ads. Advertisers can reward publishers when ads are viewed. Users also get a share for their attention, if they choose to receive that from ads and that share they can then donate to publishers that they support. You could also see publishers use tokens to reward users who promote their content.

beginners guide
The Commodification of Data, Time and Attention

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Headless Way

Douglas Harding was thirty-three when he made a wonderful discovery. Though it certainly came out of the blue, it did so in response to an urgent enquiry; he had for several months been absorbed in the question: what am I? The fact that he happened to be walking in the Himalayas at the time probably had little to do with it; though in that country unusual states of mind are said to come more easily. However that may be, a very still clear day, and a view from the ridge where he stood, over misty blue valleys to the highest mountain range in the world, with Kangchenjunga and Everest unprominent among its snow-peaks, made a setting worthy of the grandest vision.

At that point he stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over him. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed him. Past and future dropped away. He forgot who and what he was, his name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called his. It was as if he had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Office 365 Suite Support & Guidance for Small Businesses

Quick Exec summary

  • Choose the right Office product from the off: home or business option. Choose one of the Office 365 Business options for a one-person company
  • Microsoft support were very customer focused and helpful
  • Microsoft support for home and business are run as independent support organisations
  • To map Onedrive for Office 365 Business you need to use Internet Explorer (see below for details)
  • The 365 onedrive products would benefit from a standardised UX

I recently invested in Office 365 for my business, initially choosing the Office 365 Home version costing about $100 per annum. To arrange this through my outlook.live acccount was a super smooth experience. It literally took a couple of minutes and as soon as my credit card was registered I could download all the office apps and my onedrive was hiked up to 1 TB. I was really impressed - it was so user friendly.

I tried it for a month and was really happy so I allowed the payment to take place to have 365 for the year. Then I realised that to put this as a cost in my business I would need an invoice and I looked around but all I received was acknowledgement of payment. On further  research I read that it is possible to migrate from home to business 365, that I would get an invoice and it is registered to my company (as opposed to my outlook account which is personal).  

Following the instructions on microsoft's site I set up the office 365 Business account and the closed the Home account afterwards. I was a bit worried about really receiving a refund for resigning from the home account and contacted both 365 Business support and 365 Home support (yes, 2 separate organizations) and I was impressed by the personal contact from Microsoft. Both teams in turn reached out to me, even phoning me to help me with the issue. In the end I did get a refund and it was very efficient.

So now with my business 365 account I was ready to go, right? Well the apps worked great - I didn't notice any change whatsoever. I uninstalled the apps (from Home) and installed the business apps and everything was great.

I was using network mapping for copying and managing files on my one-drive for home because I prefer the manageability and often got stuck with various synching processes that the PC ondrive app does - I'll call that 'outlook.onedrive'. 

So I do not use the app on the PC, I just map the network drive - it works really great. The outlook.onedrive is still in place and is back to the original size limit rather than 1TB. Now with Office 365 Business Onedrive - I'll call that 'sharepoint.onedrive'. 

I first noticed a difference when I opened sharepoint.onedrive. It wasn't quite the same as the 'home' version and had an option to 'Return to Classic Onedrive'. I thought I was on classic onedrive so I checked and when I clicked it, I went to sharepoint. I was surprised to see that the Office 365 Business Account Onedrive was actually sharepoint. I recognised it because at CA we had onedrive and I eventually discovered the only way to map it was in the same way. It does not affect the capabilities but it is not a fantastic user experience and I would recommend Microsoft standardise the UX across the 365 products.

Now I had to map my new business drive. I thought it might be just as simple for the sharepoint.onedrive as it was when I set up Office 365 Home. However, there are some  fundamental differences and by noting them I hope that I can save you time.

  • Once you have set up your Office 365 Business account, download and open Internet Explorer! It is by using Internet Explorer that you will be able to get the right network address to link you drive on the PC. It does not work in any other browser.
  • Once in your Onedrive, click on 'classic view' and then 'click on the library tab, here you will see the 'open with internet explorer' enabled:
  • When you open in explorer you can get the network path and thus use it for the network mapping.

My take-aways:

  1. It is important to choose the right Office 365 product from the off. Sounds obvious - Home option or business. Choose business for a one-person company.
  2. Microsoft support, in my experience was very customer focused and helpful.
  3. Microsoft support for Home and Business are run as independent support orgs and do not communicate between each team. 
  4. To map Onedrive for Office 365 Business you need to use Internet Explorer.
  5. The 365 onedrive products would benefit from a standardised UX. Some people who already have a onedrive will opt for Business 365 and will be surprised that there is a difference.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The TikTok conundrum

TikTok may seem to many to be a benign platform for Gen Z'ers to make and share funny memes but could it become a Chinese vacuum for coveted American data?

Gary Vaynerchuk believes it will be greatly adopted and I have installed and uninstalled it already twice. First I wanted to understand what it was, then I realised that it was owned by a Chinese company and I wanted to find out more about what that meant. John Batelle spells it out in this blog.

While I did have TikTok installed I noticed already posts/films like this one appearing on twitter.

Is TikTok China's next big weapon? A discussion on adoption by US teens looks at whether this is a shiny new app that becomes ubiquitous or whether there is a hidden agenda.

Reuters describes how there are over 26 million users in the US while the tensions over trade and technology transfers between the US and China are growing. So the US has launched an inquiry into the acquisition of Musical.ly by TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Link

At the moment it is uninstalled again. I am not going to be a TikTok star for now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Video-making for Social Media

There are more and more videos being posted that are not just shares of someone else's film but created by the person posting. Of course the most important element is to have something to say. It may be a one off Christmas message or an appeal for a sponsored run. You may also have a passion that you want to share with other enthusiasts across the world. I say 'across the world' because you may have a lot in similar with hundreds of people but they are scattered across the globe and all are just as passionate about your interest, so a video is an effective way to share your experience with other enthusiasts.

What is the medium?

It depends on the type of communication as to which channel you use to share your video. If it is a 'how to' then Youtube is best. Think about the stats and viewing information that you want.
  • How-to, adventure, vlog - Youtube
  • Professional information, work - LinkedIn
  • Personal, family - Facebook
  • very short - instagram story

How to present it?

There are a number of formats available:
  1. Single take.If you flm carefully and it is a short message then you can film in one take and that will save on editing time. In that case you will also save time if you prepare your message and include everything including introducing yourself because there will be no title or credits.
  2. Compile a number of still shots with a voice-over or text to explain.
  3. Screen capture. If you are explaining a game or app then it would be useful to have a program that can record your screen actions as you do them.
  4. However, Don't forget - it may be better to put the video on Youtube and link it to Facebook, twitter and Linked-in. .

Best practice

There are a few basics which will make any film you make for social media stand out.
  1. What is the story?
  2. Have you got enough light?
  3. What are the acoustic qualities of the location?
  4. Camera mount.
  5. More than one camera?
  6. Editing
LinkedIn How to make a quick and easy professional video

Banning PowerPoint

It is by no means a new concept to ban power point. I think it is always an issue when we adopt a particular tool or technology to the exclusion of others. This quite often happens in cycles. 

[Read this on Dropbox Paper Banning PowerPoint]

The first cycle was personal contact and a hand-shake, which progressed to written contract and signature or letter. Skipping some cycles (like telegram) we moved to verbal, i.e. telephones and faxes and because of the immediacy of the communication, business cycles could be reduced.  As the internet grew so did the concept and use of email. 

Did you notice how some people adopted email for everything at that point? Instead of phoning or meeting and talking there was a tendency (and still is with some) to email about everything. The theory being that this avoids wasted time calling when someone is out. I can sign up to that but the sense of sending an email with just the word “thanks” has been questioned in many blogs.

Calling came back into vogue with the arrival of the mobile ‘phone. People would be talking everywhere and anywhere - occasionally very loudly. There was a slight ‘exit stage left’ for phone calls when texting became more popular due to the cheaper rates. I think we still do have a situation when a text is used sometimes when the right thing to do would be to call. I have had many text messages “I am on my way but I’ll be about 40 minutes late, sorry” the day after a meeting!

One sees a similar story in the adoption of office tools like the Microsoft suite (including power point) and Open Office Impress, etc. PowerPoint was such an advancement to the over-head projector that presentations were revolutionised and then murdered. After some years of ppt’s the phrase “death by power point” was added to the business vocabulary. I suggest that this happened for the same reasons I mentioned above - it was over-adopted and there was little thought about whether there was a better way to communicate an idea and get a decision or response.

It was so easy in power point, the application almost wrote the presentation for you!  (Not).  So it is natural that there was a time when it would be banned in certain companies for certain or all purposes. In the case of Amazon and Twitter they opted for a briefing document and I think that makes sense. 

In the 21st century we started to see exponential growth in many channels of communication. It started slowly with Skype (that was quite a revolution) and then fast and frequent followed Whatsapp, Messenger, etc. However, I still have a concern about the way communication is used. I am a member of a small band and before I joined they were already using messenger to communicate information like the date and time of the next rehearsal and to share recordings. This kind of thing used to be done by ‘phone and for some things (sending out a recording link, sharing a track) messenger is a great tool but not everyone checks it in real time and there are occasions when it is possible to turn up to a practice that was already cancelled in messenger. It somehow reminds me of the ‘apologies-for-being-late’ text messages arriving the day after a meeting!

Aidan Hoyle
5th November, 2019