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The Intersection of SEO and Content Creation: Kapwing's Success Story

Julia Enthoven, Co-founder and CEO of Kapwing

In this episode of WYTPOD, Julia Enthoven, Co-founder and CEO of Kapwing, dives into the journey and vision of their creative software company. Kapwing stands out with its powerful, collaborative, and user-friendly online video editing suite, aiming to make video creation accessible to all. Julia shares insights into Kapwing’s differentiation, SEO strategies, customer retention, and upcoming features. Emphasizing the importance of adaptability, she discusses how Kapwing stays ahead in the dynamic landscape of online content creation.

Kapwing is a creative software company that enables digital storytelling. It also helps people create, share, and collaborate on video content.

Julia Enthoven
Co-founder and CEO of Kapwing

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at WYTLabs. We’re a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Julia with me today. She’s the Co-founder and CEO of Kapwing. It’s a creative software company that enables digital storytelling. It also helps people create, share, and collaborate on video content. A big welcome to you, Julia. I’m so happy to have you with me today.

I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for reaching out.

Can you please give our listeners a brief overview of Kapwing and its mission?

Sure. So my Co-founder and I worked together at Google about, I guess, what, seven years ago. And when we were there back in 2017, we were learning about just the rise of video content and we wanted to make a video creation suite that was much more modern and powered by these modern smart APIs to automate away a lot of the tedious tasks that come with video editing. So our goal is to make video a much more accessible medium to anyone, to make it possible for anyone to tell their story and create a message using video as a medium. We also especially want to serve creative teams like marketing and communications teams that make videos together to make it easier for people to collaborate on, get feedback on, and work together on video content. So, yeah, that’s what Kapwing is. It’s a fully online collaborative video editing, hosting, and collaboration suite that enables teams to work together to create video much faster and easier than an offline editor, as would be traditional. Yeah, that’s what our goal is. Our goal is to help people make ten times as much content that’s ten times better so that they can meet the demands of modern social media and modern marketing.

Makes sense. All right, I would love to know, because you had a pretty good job at Google, what exactly inspired you to quit that job and start this company? What was the problem that you were looking to solve in the market?

Absolutely. At the time, back in 2017, that was the year that Instagram Stories launched. This little app, musically, was acquired by ByteDance and became TikTok. Twitter and LinkedIn started supporting video for the first time. So there was just a broad emergence of video across so many different business and consumer problems. And we could see that inside of Google. My Co-founder and I both worked on features related to bringing more video into the Google search surface because it was obvious that was the way of the future. At the same time my Co-founder, Eric, and I just happened to have in the same week. We both had a pain point using video in our personal lives. I was like trying to make a slideshow for my grandma’s birthday. He was trying to make this Costa Rica travel video from his family’s trip to Costa Rica. And we were just like, wow, we’re still using the same software we used 25 years ago. It’s this pretty heavyweight, outdated interface that feels intimidating to use and learn. At the same time, my Co-founder went to middle school with Dylan Field, who’s the Co-founder and CEO of Figma, and had a front-row seat to the rise of Figma and the journey that Dylan had over the course of building it.

And I think that kind of three factors, like our own product pain with just video editing, how difficult it was, our knowledge about the market and the rise of video as a medium, and our knowledge about the web and the future of collaboration on the web came together to inspire Kapwing. And yeah, we left Google. It took us a few months before we could build anything that had some traction. But we started just building a better video editor that we would have wanted to use ourselves. And that was the genesis of Kapwing.

Julia would love to know because you’re in a very crowded space. What are the main differentiating factors for Kapwing and the core USPs of the platform? Can you please tell us that?

Sure. So I think one main differentiator for complaining is that it’s much more powerful than a lot of our competitors. And that’s because it was built for video first. If you use something like Canva, V video, you’ll find that there are just features that the platforms don’t have that you need to use to make the video. And you’ll find that there are limitations on how big the videos are that you can edit, how long the videos are, and how complicated they are. Whereas Kapwing can support videos with hundreds or even thousands of layers. It supports videos that are up to 6 GB. And you can do all of that with as many tracks. You can time out as many tracks as you want relative to each other. So it’s great if you’re working on a group project or like a family video or like a marketing project where you want to be able to use the same layers again and again in every project for the sake of visual consistency. Compared to something offline, like Adobe Premiere or iMovie or Final Cut Pro. Kapwing is fully collaborative, which means that you can use it with other people in real time all the videos are hosted so you can share the latest version with the client or with someone else as you go.

And yeah, that also makes it useful for learning from your teammates and collaborating with your teammates because you don’t have to export and share these huge files. Everything is all in the same shared digital space. Yeah, collaboration, the power of the editors, and the third thing I would say is kapwing we pride ourselves on it being easy to use. Anyone can come to the platform and get started with making videos. You don’t need technical tutorials, you don’t need a video editing film degree. You can come to Kapwing and get started right away. I think that ease of use is super important for people who are making videos for the first time, but also for anyone who makes a lot of videos because you want to be able to do certain things quickly. So that ease of use like having AI tools built in, being able to generate your captions automatically, being able to edit using your transcript itself, all of those things are built-in and easy to access. So I would say those are the key three differentiating things for us.

That’s awesome. The brilliant thing that your marketing team is doing is killing the SEO game. You have huge organic traffic, so kudos to them. And you would love to run specific strategies with regards to SEO that have been fruitful for you and working in your favor.

Yeah, my Co-founder, we worked on search before this, so at the very beginning of Kapwing, we knew about the importance of search when people were finding organic tools out there on the Internet. And so it’s always been like a love of mine. I’m super passionate about SEO. I think it’s super fascinating. Just like many startups in the very early days, no one cares about you, and no one is writing about you. And that sort of zero-to-one phase for us was a lot about trying to do stunts or launch small marketing tools that would earn backlinks from journalists and backlinks from across the Internet. We were just hustling to get links back in the day. So we did a lot of small stunts that helped to attract links. We were product hunt makers of the year. In 2018, we launched things, some of which were unrelated in some ways to Kapwing, just so that we could get our first links out there on the Internet and start getting some initial traction. After that, we turned to the editorial aspect of SEO. So thinking about how do we write articles that serve a searcher’s intent for searches that are adjacent to video editing?

So things like what time to post on TikTok or how to do this viral TikTok trend or TikTok format. We started writing articles about some of those evergreen video editing tasks. And because Kapwing is fully online, it was a synchronous way to help people get introduced to Kapwing. Also, after the editorial side, we started thinking more about the programmatic side of SEO. So how do we create ways to make new pages faster, essentially, and target new keyword patterns and ways that make sense and also have cross-links across our website to those pages? And yeah, we built what we call our Explore section which is our library of templates that can be used to make videos. We built out our tools directory, which is all of our landing pages that target a specific verb like trim video, and set up navigation bars breadcrumbs, and footers to cross-link to each other. So that these key pages have a lot of links propagated across the web. Yeah, that is the intro, just like how we did our SEO most recently. We’re constantly learning about it. We’re constantly trying to develop new strategies.

We were just chatting about it before this call, but recently we’ve been thinking more about how to invest in our offsite strategy and also how we double down on editorial and programmatic to continue to excel and innovate on SEO.

That’s awesome. And I would love to know that’s acquiring the customer side, but what do you do with respect to what marketing strategies are really helpful on the customer retention side as well? What all do you leverage?

So Eris and I were both product managers and the thing that we love at the end of the day is just the thing that we’re most fired up about is product. How do we build something that helps people to get work done and to make more videos faster? And that is crucial for everything that we do, even our SEO editorial strategy. It’s all about how we help people to do the things that they need to do faster and better. An example of that is we wrote an article about designing tattoos, and how you can use AI to design tattoos. Kapwing can be helpful for some aspects of seeing what a tattoo might look like or combining different designs together. But we’re not like a tattoo company. It’s just really motivated by this idea of how we help artists, creators, and creative teams to get tasks done faster so that they can focus on the storytelling and the creative aspect rather than the technical aspect. From a marketing perspective, what has worked for us, we have just two core marketing channels. The first is SEO and the second is we have a thriving YouTube community.

So if you go to YouTube and search for video-related tasks, you’ll often find Kapwing videos. And we have nearly 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. We’ve grown that all in-house with in-house writers and in-house video creators who are also using our product to tell stories. So there’s a nice kind of synchronous, like using our product, giving feedback to the product team to make it better. And so the product becomes better. Yeah, we have like nascent email marketing and nascent, like other social channels, but TikTok and Instagram. But YouTube and SEO are our bread and butter. Plus, word of mouth makes sense.

All right, because you mentioned YouTube, I would love to know, how does Kapwing fosters the community engagement and what role the user feedback plays in basically shaping your platform.

So we talk to users a lot and we have a slack channel that we call our Kapwing champions, which is for sort of our affiliates and our heavy power users to give feedback on beta features, to request new features, report things. We also have an in-house customer support team that highlights bugs that are happening or puts together reports about top feature requests that come in through our email inbox. So we try to put the creator at the center of everything we do and put our users at the center of everything. And yeah, we’ve tried various other methods of community engagement in the past, like Facebook, Discord, and other things, and struggled to maintain those channels as healthy, positive, up-to-date communities that sort of give us helpful feedback. So mostly right now we use that Slack channel, which is like an exclusive channel, although you can ask for access if you want. And we use email basically, and invoice tickets from our users to feed information back in.

And because, Julia, you are serving a fairly huge amount of audience, and user interface is extremely crucial. Right. What measures do you take to ensure that on that level you’re really sorted and you’re actively monitoring? What all activities do you do or align to make that happen and better for you?

Do you mean to make sure that we’re focused on the right customer?

Customers on your platform just to ensure that their journey within the platform is extremely good? I think that’s one of the good retention factors as well. Right. What do you measure or monitor to make sure that happens?

So we track and look at what we call our NPS score or net promoter score. When the user finishes a project on Kapwing, there’s a thing that shows up at the bottom that says, would you recommend Kapwing to your friends on a scale of one to ten? And we look at how many people are giving us nines and tens versus ones and twos to understand how we’re doing. And every single week we have a report that someone on our team puts together of the feedback or the comments from what we call the detractors, which is the people that gave us a one or a two. We look at those comments and sort them into buckets to understand what are the issues that people are facing and how we get more people to be nines and tens. Add more delight at the top of the funnel. So that’s what we do from an analytical perspective. But I think more, there’s my answer to this is more qualitative. It’s the things that we do are first, we use the product ourselves. We use it every day. We have an in-house video creation team.

We are telling our own story on social media using video. So we use our product ourselves. We see when it feels good and when it doesn’t. We also really try to focus on certain video editing workflows that are the most annoying to do offline and try and make those better. And for me, I think a lot about what comes next, what’s on the horizon, not just how we make video editing better by solving that little bug that someone complains about, but what’s it going to look like in a year or two years? How can we bring in all of these new technologies around the use of generative AI and automation workflows to not just make video editing a little bit easier, but change the way people create video? And we have a lot of new products we’ve built this year and that are coming soon around that problem statement, just like how do we truly make video ten times faster to create.

Got you. And I would love to know your opinion because your targeting is way too broad. Right. In the sense that the platform can be adopted by almost any company, any regular job as well. So how do you prioritize what should be the specific segment? Because in content, everyone is going niche, right? Specific to SaaS, people like to niche down. Are there any specific, respective priority, any specific segments for you?

Yes, definitely. I would say this is something we struggled with at the beginning of Kapwing because we did go up so broad in the early days. But now, as of the beginning or the end of 2022, we have a lot of focus on marketing teams and communications, internal communications teams. How does that pay off? Like, we prioritize user interviews with those segments and we try to weigh those voices and those workflows that are used for marketing workflows, like making lots of social media clips from long-form videos, making those workflows easy, and prioritizing them. Yeah, I would say for us it’s constantly a challenge of doing less and being more niche. How do we go deeper into the things that are the most important to us? One way we do that is just by trying to be specific about the new bets that we’re taking and the new workflows that we’re trying to build. Rather than just being like, oh, let’s build all the things that are possible in the world of video. For us, our focus is really on repurposing. Like how do you take long-form videos and turn them into short-form videos Easily.

This podcast, for example, you should use kapwing to chop it up into clips for LinkedIn and social media. We also focus on the translation of video. So those are the two areas that we’re focused on in 2024 around like enabling translation of video, transcription, translation, and also repurposing.

Makes sense. All right. I would love to know, with the dynamic nature of online content creation, how a Kapwing stays adaptable to emerging market trends altogether.

Do you mean from a product perspective or a marketing perspective?

From a marketing perspective, I would say.

Interesting. SEO is essential for our market and I, myself, as the CEO, am super interested in and involved in the new trends in SEO. I ran our SEO team myself for the first five years of the company, and even now I am quite involved and interested in our SEO strategy, even though we have a great SEO lead now. So I would say that one aspect of how we stay on the edge, is I prioritize it as a company prerogative. And yeah, we try to put the focus there on SEO. Let’s see. I think that we also, because of our content strategy and because we’re trying to put users at the center of what we do, we stay close to what they are doing and our users are marketers. So when we’re thinking about how we serve marketers who are trying to make clicks for LinkedIn or TikTok, we’re staying close to what their needs are what they struggle with, and what takes a lot of time for them. An example of that is that finding the segment of the video that you want to highlight is difficult. We’ve heard that for a long time.

So we launched in December a new find highlights tool, a repurposed studio that uses AI to find those clips and those highlights and our ideas that with that tool, then users can use it to grow an audience on LinkedIn and on TikTok, et cetera, which is emerging spaces for the B2B world. So, yeah, I think that there’s a certain element that has always been true for complaining of our audience is also our user base, which is all marketers, and it’s also our distribution method. So because of that, we can focus on user problems at the same time as marketing trends and have that kind of synchronous.

Makes sense. All right, now, I would love to know about your monetizing strategy and how do you balance providing the free tools with sustaining the business.

That is a hard question, and we have evolved our monetization strategy for a long time. So Kapwing is free to use, and you have to pay for certain features, including being able to remove the watermark from your final video. The monetization strategy has gotten more complicated in the last couple of years because we’ve integrated a lot of new AI tools that are expensive to run. For example, we have premium text-to-speech voices. We have all of Getty’s asset library bundled with Kapwing. So free license, free images, videos, gifs. We have a dolly built in. You can generate images, you can generate videos, and scripts, all built in. But these things are expensive to run. So we face an additional hurdle even if someone pays, we need to start putting some limits into how much they can use these expensive technologies, even on the pro subscription, because otherwise they’re just going to rack up this huge bill, and our business won’t be sustainable. So, yeah, I would say there’s kind of two elements of our monetization strategy. There’s a freemium element where we give things away for free and a paywall, the more premium features.

And then the second element is additional limits on those features, such that push users to higher price point plans, like our enterprise plan and our business plan. So that is how our monetization works. How do we balance free tools with sustaining the business? I think we always want Kapwing to be free to try and free to use. That’s a huge part of our mission, which is to make it easier for anyone to create video. But it is a hard question. I think that the things that we paywall are the things that have more recurring value. So if someone is using it, it’s more valuable in a recurring sense rather than just for this one video and we try to target the things that are more professional or work-related features and paywall those features rather than just the general ones. That is my answer on monetization strategy. We don’t have it perfect, but we do our best to provide as much as we can for free, as much value as we can for free.

That’s brilliant. Would love to know any notable challenges that you have faced in your journey so far. It’s been around six and a half, seven years now, right? And that you would like to highlight and how exactly you work on those.

Wow, no challenges at all. It’s been a total smooth sailing. No, of course, we face challenges throughout the whole experience of growing Kapwing. I think that a major challenge for us in the last year and a half was the rise of generative AI and thinking about how to change our roadmap to accommodate a radically different and new set of capabilities. And I would say I don’t think that this challenge is an interesting word because it was also super exciting and inspiring. But I came to my team one day in April and I saw on Twitter last night someone was talking about using chat GBT to edit video. And I have just realized we either have to start participating in this conversation in the next month or we’re going to be too late. It has to happen now or not at all. And kudos to my team for absolutely rallying around that. And we launched our AI video generator before the end of April. So I think that was a big challenge that we rose to around how do we incorporate these new features. What features are going to be useful for our users, marketers, and our creator base, content marketers, et cetera.

Related to that, though, I would say, and this was a more negative challenge overall, is just our space is super competitive. We are constantly fighting for market share, on search, in our customer base, for retention. There are so many areas where our space is quite competitive and we have not raised nearly as much money as some of our competitors have. We have just tried to stay true to ourselves throughout the whole journey. Not over-hire, not overspend. Just focus on organic acquisition, building the best product that there is, and hiring world-class engineers. And that strategy has been like our approach to just all of the ups and downs. Like just stick to our principles and just keep going. So, yeah, I would say those are some challenges. There’s like a zillion I could talk about, but I think that’s some of how we overcame them, too.

Awesome. And now looking ahead, what’s your vision for the future, and are there any exciting developments or features in the pipeline? At least in the near future, what do you anticipate and what’s coming up?

Yeah, a big focus for us this year is how to make it as easy as possible to take long-form video recordings, webinars, interviews, podcasts, et cetera, and automatically turn them into short-form, shareable videos for social media. We want to do that, not just, we also want to make the visual layout of those pieces consistent across all of your pieces, so that you can save your format, so that it’s personalized for you, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time that you’re clipping down a podcast and making stuff for social. The reason for that is we think it’s definitely a rising marketing trend to be doing podcasts or investing in long-form content. A lot of companies are investing in this long-form video content, and now marketers want to be able to turn that into short-form ads and short-form content for social so they can grow audiences on all these short-form platforms. So I think we have already the best product in this space. I would highly encourage people to go check it out. Not only can you generate those video clips, but you can also edit them and customize them fully if there’s something that goes wrong or something that you want to tweak or change so it will look like you want it for your brand.

The second thing I would say is our dubbing product, our translate product, it’s still in development, but we are focused on making it easier to translate videos fully into other languages using a similar, voice clone of the speaker’s voice, for example. We want to make it possible to translate this podcast into another language using my voice and yours, but speaking a different language. And that is something we’re super passionate about. And we are trying to help people get right, not just make it sound right, but really get it right fully. And that is our AI dubbing product, which is coming soon, but highly recommended for those two things. Also, if you’re just making a lot of social media and you want to speed up your workflow, you want to speed up your team, let us know. We can show you how Kapwing can just make your content operation ten times faster for social media.

Awesome. Really excited to look into your new dubbing feature. That’s going to be awesome for sure. Now we’re coming to an end. Julia, I would love to have a quick rapid-fire with you. Are you ready for that?

I’m ready.

What is not a big deal to most people, but is torture to you?

Search ranking changes search ranking updates. Just waking up one day and seeing that our search traffic has just radically changed on certain pages because of Google’s update. That is just such torture sometimes. It’s a magical thing that happens. It’s a magical torture where you’re like, oh, wow, we’re just getting 20% more traffic. And most of the time it’s like what happened to 20% of our traffic? So most people don’t even know what those things are. But it’s an absolute torture to me.

What world record do you think you have a shot at beating?

Oh, let’s see. Wow. What world record? Dang. Wow. I have to pick something really small. I think that most videos with my company’s name on them.

Okay.

Is that the world? I think that is one.I think there are other things that I would say are pretty unique about me. I run every single day of my life, so maybe like most runs in a lifetime, but there’s no way that I’m going to win that one because I’m sure someone has already set an absurd record. But yeah, that’s my best shot.

Okay. Are you more cautious or bold?

Definitely More bold.

Okay, what is your hidden talent?

I am a diagnosed narcoleptic, so I’m very good at sleeping. I can fall asleep, like anywhere, at any time. I would say that’s like my biggest hidden talent.

What never fails to make you laugh?

Looking at the memes on our admin panel that people are making.

Okay, I’m coming to my very last question. What’s your last Google search?

My last Google search is the name of this podcast.

Okay, perfect. Thank you so much, Julia, for sharing your journey about capturing all the wisdom in this today’s session. I appreciate your time here. Thank you so much.

Of course. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me and for reaching out to me to make this happen.

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