Andreas Voniatis, founder of Artios tells us about SEO automation and the impact of Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andreas Voniatis: The family and I are well. On and off, my daughter has been in and out of school, so it was a great opportunity to spend more time with her, see at first hand how her education is going. The first lockdown was quite difficult because there was only one zoom session a day which made it quite a challenge to homeschool as well as work. The second time around was much easier as the school was more organized, setting at least three zoom sessions per day and homework in between. I also got to cook lunch every day and eat together, which has been a pleasure.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Artios.
Andreas Voniatis: I left university and became a qualified accountant in 1999. What started as a hobby optimizing websites soon became a career change. I quit my job as a finance manager to consult in search engine optimization back in 2005. Bit by bit, I became more successful in picking up consulting clients, including network agencies. This continued until 2012, when I became curious about machine learning and started retraining. By 2015, I rebranded as Artios with a mission to help brands and agencies scale their SEO using data science and cloud engineering. Since then, we’ve worked with prestigious well known worldwide brands like Warner Bros. In the last couple of years, we’ve researched and developed our SEO reporting automation product which helps agencies and brands unite all their data into a single place to drive more intelligent dashboards. And this is despite COVID placing challenging conditions upon us!
How does Artios innovate?
Andreas Voniatis: The key to innovation is to have a culture of innovation. So working with the best people in their field, for example, one of our engineers is ex-Amazon, and also ensuring your colleagues are curious enough to challenge the norm. Constantly asking, “why not?”. For example, for years, I witnessed firsthand how SEO specialists would spend so much time copying and pasting data from various online tools that they use to put reports together. I just thought it was ludicrous as they’re effectively doing the job that a computer could do much better. We also found that SEOs would miss opportunities because they spent so long putting reports together, they had no time to look at the numbers. Even if they did, they’re statisticians, so many insight opportunities were missed, which would easily be picked up by an algorithm. So asking why not is important because there is usually a better way, and we found it, helping the SEO specialist to focus on responding to the insights rather than producing them.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Andreas Voniatis: Certainly, we’ve seen our customers take longer to sign off on projects which inevitably lengthens the cash flow cycle. Naturally, this has meant dipping into reserves to fund product development for our SEO reporting product.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Andreas Voniatis: Thankfully not. Although many colleagues in the industry have had to make redundancies and ask retained staff to take salary cuts of up to 30%, we’ve been extremely lucky in this regard.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Andreas Voniatis: We do a lot of machine learning analysis on our CRM data, not just as paid projects for our client’s CRM data. While there are many tools such as 6sense that do a great job of anticipating website visitor needs. Our analysis allows us to understand who our audience segments are and their traits which are extremely important to us for anticipating their needs, what we must do to change, not just for scaling up through advertising.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Andreas Voniatis: Not as such. In the UK, there are subsidized loans. However, we have yet to take advantage of them.
Your final thoughts?
Andreas Voniatis: Naturally, COVID 19 has presented challenges to the economic environment. While we have been affected mildly, in some cases, we’ve seen some clients thrive due to the online nature of their product. Although it’s welcome, we also know that without a long-term solution such as the vaccine, the economic outlook would otherwise be dire. There have been some upsides, and I believe COVID has given us all a chance to appreciate human connection, the internet as a way of keeping things going, including business, among other things. Thankfully things are improving, and people are being vaccinated. There is optimism which is great to see.