8+1 principles that guide Lexity (aka, why we are the way we are)

We founded Lexity two years ago to build a different kind of an advertising/marketing company. While we’ve iterated our product, tried different pricing models, and watched experiments become full-fledged products in their own right – the core principles underlying Lexity haven’t changed.

We’re a fat startup – not measured by dollars in the bank (though we have a few), but by the grandness of the ambition, rigorous thought process, and relentless progress towards a clearly articulated goal. We believe that fundamental disruption in an industry as huge and well-established as advertising can’t come from feature companies (Dave McClure be damned).

In this post, I lay down some of our guiding principles – not only what we do, but as importantly, what we don’t do. All out in the open – for your feedback!

The complete list

  1. Small retailers first
  2. eCommerce first
  3. Simple, simple, simple
  4. Fair, affordable, upfront pricing
  5. Full transparency on ROI – and in real time
  6. Complete solutions for every ad channel
  7. Customized multi-channel marketing
  8. Relentless automation
  9. Bonus: Global ground-up

1. Small retailers first

Last year, a prospective investor introduced us to a client, who wanted terribly to put their $15k/month budget on Lexity. An $180,000 addition to the annual revenue is tempting… but we refused. You see, our primary customer was, and is, the underserved small retailer – with budgets as low as $20/month. We wanted to make sure we don’t get distracted from making a product for her first!

This year, we are starting to take on larger clients ($20k/month and up), but only because we feel confident we’re already serving our core small businesses well.

2. eCommerce first

What do local businesses, political campaigners, startups and affiliate marketers have in common? They all want to use Lexity! Even with tremendous inbound demand, we’ve been steadfast in our focus on eCommerce  – and will only expand to other verticals after we feel our work here is done.

Hey, we’re already going for the moonshot, perhaps we’ll leave Mars for the next trip.

3. Simple, simple, simple

Did we mention simple? We have the fastest onboarding of clients on our platform in the industry – by a few orders of magnitude. While some marketing programs require a 6-7 week period of just setting up, most new clients on Lexity sign up, set a budget, and have campaigns live within 24 hours.

Our software is minimal. No unnecessary questions asked, no waiting around for human operators – just simple, affordable, effective. Anything Sophie wants, she’ll just ask for!

4. Fair, affordable, upfront pricing

There are no setup fees. No long-term contracts. No locking-in to annual plans. Start anytime, leave anytime – as low as $20/month. There are enough sleazy marketing companies around with sleazy pricing tactics to fleece innocent merchants – we have no interest in being part of that crowd.

We do experiment with pricing – so it’s likely we’ll make changes to our pricing plans over time, but always to make things cleaner and fairer for all our customers.

5. Full transparency on ROI – and in real-time.

Do you own a small business? Do you know exactly how much of the sales you made last month came from marketing? Or was your marketing a complete bust? If not, or you don’t exactly know, or would rather not know, don’t worry, 82% of your peers don’t, either.

At Lexity, we show exactly what the impact of the marketing is. A potential investor was horrified – what if you’re not making a customer successful, and they find out? Wouldn’t they leave? Well, I said, shouldn’t they?

We are wide-open with the metrics surrounding the marketing. If the theme is about increasing awareness, we report the reach has been so far. If it’s about bringing more sales, we report the exact revenue impact the marketing has had. In fact, with Lexity Live, we show second-by-second activity on the ecommerce store, with each Lexity referral marked clearly. Our customers always know what’s going on.

6. Complete solutions for every ad channel

SEM solutions today require you to figure out keywords and ads yourself. Retargeting solutions need you to have a creative ready. Shopping engine solutions need you to set up accounts everywhere first… and oh, bid for the products yourself. What?

Honestly, every single solution in the market today is incomplete (Disagree? Give me a counter-example!). When Lexity does a channel, it offers a complete solution. For SEM, that means keywords, ads, bidding, optimization, the whole thing. For Facebook, it even means auto-cycling of ads to keep campaigns fresh. For Shopping engines, we take care of account management and bidding… otherwise, what’s the freaking point? Small businesses are not made of time, you know.

7. Customized multi-channel marketing

Not every marketing channel is right for every small business – at any given time. Today, being listed on shopping engines might be important, but tomorrow, search marketing might be critical. Traditionally, marketing companies peddle what they happen to be selling – whether it makes sense for the retailer or not.

We’re different. Since we offer so many choices, we can help our merchants choose what’s right for them, completely unbiased. True story – this week, Katie proactively refunded thousands of dollars to some of our customers, and helped them sign up for other, lower-priced themes. Why? Because we did an analysis that showed us they’d be more successful with these (cheaper) themes instead. Leaving money on the table to get more successful, happier customers? Yeah, sure sounds like us.

8. Relentless automation

When we told Santo, during fundraising last year, it only takes us 5 minutes to set up each of our customers, he assumed we were hoping to get it down to 5 minutes. Nope, that’s what it actually took us!

We don’t have ‘ad ops’ at Lexity (we do have Ops Warlords, however). Everything that can be automated, is automated, so we can focus most of our engineers on data mining, algorithms and performance optimization.

Those in the know will appreciate this example – our retargeting solution requires zero human input for most platforms we support. That’s right, zero. Creative, you ask? Automated. Setting up campaigns at the ad network end? Automated. Bidding, surely? Automated. Aha!, you exclaim. Setting up tags on the client site, surely? Nope, that’s automated too!

9. Bonus: Global ground-up

While we built our product with internationalization in mind, our focus at launch was decidedly US. We quickly found out how global the demand was, and  the decision to support international clients, too, was an easy one. Today, 30%-40% of our customers are based outside US – from Canada to Norway to India to Australia!

This wasn’t a guiding principle when we started, but boy is it now! A big reason behind our Bangalore office is, in fact, to further our international expansion.

If you’ve made it so far, I truly appreciate your interest in Lexity. Why stop there? Send us a note or leave a comment below. Thanks for stopping by.

Amit

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