NewsCred — a company initially founded to rate the credibility of online publications and stories — has raised $42 million to fuel expansion plans.
The growth equity round, led by FTV Capital, also included existing investors FirstMark Capital, InterWest Partners, and Mayfield Fund, according to a letter released by CEO and co-founder Shafqat Islam today.
As part of the transaction, Liron Gitig, partner at FTV Capital, joined NewsCred's board of directors.
This fund raising follows the $25 million round the company secured in January 2014. With a total of nearly $90 million raised, Islam said in this letter, "NewsCred now has the ammunition to make marketing better for both consumers and marketers around the world."
NewsCred plans to use the proceeds of its latest round to expand its feature set as well as grow its reach in global markets, Alicianne Rand, VP of Marketing at NewsCred told CMSWire.
Many Channels, Many Messages
"Given how fast content marketing is evolving we want to be ready to take advantage of these changes," Rand said.The problem with content marketing is that, well, it works. It works very well in fact, which is why demand for high-quality content is only growing, Rand explained.
Marketers are tasked with filling as many as 40 channels, from social to TV to email to mobile, with content every day or week. What's more, the content has to be crafted for exactly where the prospective buyer is in his or her purchase journey.
All the while the channels themselves are growing more complex (should that content be delivered via a mobile app or a mobile browser?) and consumers are becoming more demanding (why not make it available via both the app and browser and while you are at it, include in-app purchasing capabilities).
Finally, Rand said, marketers have also been tasked with creating and executing on the best customer experience strategies (self-service should be part of that app in case the customer has a question she needs answered on the spot).
"It's not easy these days to deliver the right content on the right channel to the right person at the right time," she said.
Too Much = Not Enough
It's not easy on the consumer either, as NewsCred's new board member, FTV's Gitig, said.
The upshot for consumers is that they will engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase. For the vast majority, 85 percent, this content won't be enough and they will reach out to trusted expert content as part of the purchase decision.
The bottom line, Gitig said, is that advanced marketing platforms are turning cost centers into revenue drivers. "At FTV, we know the digital solutions offered today are just the beginning and CMOs are demanding more."
More Software, Content, Insights
NewsCred seems to have hit on the right combo of software, content and insights as it tackles this problem for brands.
Islam reported that in the last year, the company's annual recurring revenue grew three times and its customer base grew two times. In addition, the Fortune 2000 now represents 40 percent of its customer base.
So it is little surprise when Rand reported that the company will be using its $42 million to enhance its software, deepen its pool of content and expand the insights it makes available to customers. The company also plans to reach into new verticals and industries, she said.
"We are also expanding our freelance network," she said. At the end of the day, even if a marketer has gotten the channel right and identified the correct buyer precisely as he is about to make a purchase decision, if the content is shoddy it is all for naught.
"Above all else, the content has to be top quality," she said.
And as a writer I must say it is nice to hear NewsCred is not automating that part of the content marketing lifecycle.
Title image by Alejandro Escamilla.