Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights joins me today on my daily tech podcast to discuss how the overwhelming amount of data currently being collected is being wasted, inferred incorrectly or used to create alternative facts.
Neil Hughes: Welcome back to The Tech Blog Writer Podcast. So the first question I’m going to ask today is do we have any marketers listening or is martech your thing? If so, you’re in for a treat today, because Full Circle Insights addresses a critical issue for VPs of marketing using Salesforce.com and helps them get accurate performance information about their marketing campaigns. But Bonnie Crater, she’s the CEO of Full Circle Insights, and Bonnie’s going to join me today to discuss the overwhelming amount of data that’s now collected and how that very often most of it is being wasted, inferred incorrectly or even used to create alternative facts.
Neil Hughes: Now as the CEO of a leading martech company right in the heart of Silicon Valley, I’m really looking forward to hearing her insights from the industry and maybe if she can provide a few tips about harnessing the right data and using it to create actionable insights that inform business decisions. Because it’s not all about the technology and it’s about those results. So buckle up and hold on tight as I beam your ears all the way to San Francisco, so we can speak with Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights.
Neil Hughes: So a massive warm welcome to the show, Bonnie. Can you tell the listeners a little about who you are and what you do?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah, sure. I’m Bonnie Crater. I’m CEO of Full Circle Insights. We are a marketing analytics company that helps B2B marketers get the visibility they need in order to do their jobs better.
Neil Hughes: Now, I also believe Full Circle Insights offers marketing and sales performance management for Salesforce.com users, but that’s just a small part of what you do. So can you tell me more about what kind of problems you solve for your customers and also the technology that’s at the heart of what you guys are doing?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah, we help B2B marketers mostly. So those are companies that are selling to businesses. So business to business marketing. The thing that we do the most and the best is we give those marketers visibility into what happens to every lead that they generate for their companies. We keep all the data around that, so they can figure out which campaigns are actually having the most impact on the sales of the company.
Bonnie Crater: This is really wonderful stuff, because companies that use our software and follow our methodology get about a 30% bump up in the actual amount that they’re spending on marketing. So it gives them really good information about how to make decisions. So if they see campaigns that are really impacting sales the most, they can do more of those kinds of programs. If they see campaigns that are not impacting sales, they can significantly change those campaigns or eliminate them entirely.
Bonnie Crater: In addition to just giving folks the visibility they need in order to succeed, and then giving them information about which campaigns are worthy of additional investment, and which should be eliminated or have less investment, we also have all that data residing inside a common system that both sales and marketing can access. That’s the CRM system and we like Salesforce.com. So because sales and marketing see the same data, they can make decisions together.
Bonnie Crater: You know, on the P&L today, right, if you look at your profit and loss statement, sales and marketing appears on the same line, but oftentimes sales and marketing are working on different planets if you will. By having data in the same place, they can see the same information and then they can act together and work together really well.
Neil Hughes: Another problem that we’re seeing more and more now is the overwhelming amount of data that is being collected, but actually being completely wasted, inferred incorrectly or even used to create alternative facts. I mean, can you tell me a bit more about that and the kind of findings that you’re getting from that?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah, so it’s very, very common for commonly used workflows in sales and marketing processes to actually not collect the right data, or overwrite the data, or change the data in a way that gives you misinformation. At Full Circle we’ve taken great care to try to figure all this out and make sure that data is not overwritten, that there’s a complete historical record that’s kept of all that information, that data that might be stored in multiple places is aligned, and so you don’t get multiple answers for the same question. So taking care of the data and making sure it’s stored in one place, so that the data is correct, not overwritten or mismanaged, is really, really important. And we’ve taken great care in building our application to do that.
Neil Hughes: As the CEO of a leading martech company in the middle of Silicon Valley, can you provide any tips for harnessing the right data and actually how to use it to create actionable insights that actually inform those business decisions?
Bonnie Crater: Sure. We start off with advising people to put all the sales and marketing data in one place. We advise putting the data into the CRM system. As I mentioned, we like Salesforce.com as a data store for all of that information. But there’s really four kinds of things that we recommend folks do. One is to use the data for planning purposes. So you take your results that you had from last year, you look at the sales goal for next year, you do create what’s called a reverse waterfall or a reverse funnel by looking at the conversion rates from all your leads to sales and do it in reverse, taking account what your average deal size is that you want to try to drive.
Bonnie Crater: Then, that can drive the number of leads that you want to generate or need to generate in order to meet your sales goal, so that planning process. Second is, when you’re in the planning process, you typically are setting goals for the following year. And so we recommend that folks, on a regular basis, measure how well the companies are actively achieving those goals or not achieving the goals. Making sure that we, by reviewing those on a regular basis and a regular cadence of meetings that they address any issues that may crop up.
Bonnie Crater: Then, the third thing is around optimizing. Optimizing that lead management process between marketers and salespeople. So a very tricky part about lead management inside every B2B company is the handoff between marketing and sales, so the leads are passed from marketing to sales. Understanding and ensuring that there’s good follow up of those leads is really important. So getting visibility into what’s happening to all the leads and how they’re being followed up on and which leads are good and which leads are bad, or which campaigns are driving good leads, or which campaigns are driving or creating and offering up bad leads to salespeople. That’s important information for marketers to know.
Bonnie Crater: Then, the last piece of it is evaluating. Really, taking stock of the entire portfolio of marketing programs that a company might run and say, “You know, these campaigns are really the ones that are really driving sales and working really well for the sales team, teeing up the right kinds of people, the right kinds of deals for the salespeople to close. These campaigns, not so much. I think we’re going to change our portfolio and mix of marketing that we’re doing over time.” Those are the four things that we recommend that all companies do with their marketing analytics processes.
Neil Hughes: A few moments ago you did mention the word measure. In a former life, I worked in IT and service improvement. I quickly learned that you can only actually improve what you can measure. I assume it’s the same in marketing. So, are marketers essentially only as good as the metrics they track? And if so, what metric should they be tracking?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah, so traditionally marketers have tracked what we call top of the funnel metrics, meaning how many clicks they might have on an ad or how many responses that might have to an email they might send. But that’s really not good enough, because it doesn’t tell you whether your campaign is actually driving sales. So you need to connect all of that clicking and responding information to the actual end result of the sale and then really understand what happens at every stage in between.
Bonnie Crater: Because of that, if you can actually do that and measure those things, we call those funnel metrics and attribution metrics, that’s the impact metric on revenue. If you’re able to measure all of those things, you’ll get a really good idea how your business functions. Then, you can actually make changes and optimize around those metrics. We’re big fans of funnel metrics and attribution metrics.
Neil Hughes: As a martech company, how have you seen technology transform the industry as a whole? And what kind of tech challenges are businesses coming to you for help with?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah, so martech, as a space, when we started our company, there might’ve been 500 companies in the martech space. Now, there’s over 5,000 companies that are offering various types of martech offerings, which is an astounding number of solutions. So it can be very, very challenging for companies to try to select the right portfolio of technology solutions to automate marketing. Marketing is the last department of all companies that’s really been automated.
Bonnie Crater: Marketing automation was sort of the first foray into this. And that really didn’t become a popular application until even just a few years ago. So because martech is kind of a new area which companies are automating, there are just so many choices. Of course, we think that you want to automate certain processes so you’d be more efficient about how your spending your marketing dollars, but also very important is being able to measure and having systems that allow you to accurately measure the impact of all that marketing spend on campaigns.
Neil Hughes: Now, thankfully, things have changed a lot. But if I go back to my IT days, traditionally IT departments frustrated the life out of marketing with their slow and cautious ways that seem to conflict with anything creative. But we now have complex technologies such as AI and machine learning that are critical to marketers. So how have you seen that relationship between IT and marketing evolve over the years and that dependence on technology now?
Bonnie Crater: Well, just like PCs were adopted inside companies by individuals or individual departments, when marketing departments discovered that there was this cool martech technology, they just bought it themselves, as opposed to asking permission. So when that happens, and you have technology solutions that are affecting the data of a company, and the IT department is responsible for the company’s data, you’ll have a little bit of conflict going on there. So what’s happened over time is that many marketing departments have harnessed the skills of the IT department to help them with ensuring that the data that they are manipulating, the critical customer data is being managed and stored in a safe and secure way. Also, maintaining the accuracy of the data. So over time, while marketing has been avoiding interactions with IT, we’re seeing more and more IT departments getting involved in these martech solutions, which is a good thing, because the IT department is typically more skilled in managing, and securing, and storing data for the company.
Neil Hughes: So one trend that we haven’t been able to avoid this year, of course, is blockchain. How do you see that affecting marketing over the next few years? Because it’s in its infancy at the moment, but there seems little doubt the impact it’s going to have.
Bonnie Crater: Yeah. So blockchain is an interesting technology. It’s really a ledger type technology that allows you to ensure a transaction has taken place. So that’s why it’s a very popular technology to be used with currencies, because you want to know how much money you have or not. And so with marketing transactions, I think we’re still in the very early phases of discovering how blockchain might be applicable. In marketing, everything changes all the time.
Bonnie Crater: If you have a company, and you’re selling products, your customers are changing, your targets are changing, your products are changing, the markets are changing, everything is changing. I think we’re still in our infancy of trying to discover exactly how a technology that ensures a transaction happens is going to be useful and being used in marketing type of work.
Neil Hughes: Full Circle Insights. I love how you believe that you shouldn’t need a PhD in statistics to actually understand what’s happening with your marketing campaigns. Can you tell me a little bit more about why that’s so important to you?
Bonnie Crater: Yeah. Marketers typically come in all shapes and sizes. We are adding more and more data scientists to our marketing department, but most people who are marketing are not data scientists. Many of the people in marketing have a creative bend. What we at Full Circle wanted to do was to create a system which was relatively easy for marketers to get information about the results of their campaigns so they could easily see, oh gosh, that campaign drove a lot of leads and it drove a lot of deals. That’s a good one. And make it really easy for folks to make decisions about how to manage their portfolio of the many, many marketing campaigns they might be running simultaneously.
Neil Hughes: So I’m curious, do you have any use cases of it that would help the listeners… Well, would give the listeners a before and after picture on the kind of tangible results that your customers have secured since implementing Full Circle?
Bonnie Crater: Sure. We have many, many success stories. One was a technology company, a midsize company, around $50 million in size. They had had quite a bit of marketing turnover, which is pretty common. I think they were on their third CMO. When the new CMO came on board, they discovered that they had this tool, Full Circle.
Bonnie Crater: They wanted to create a baseline measurement of the campaigns that they were currently running. So they were using the tool to establish that baseline. Then, they used the tool to understand which campaigns were really the key drivers for their business and which campaigns were kind of a waste of money. So they were able to really optimize their portfolio to such a degree that within a pretty short period of time, six to nine months, they were able to really turn their marketing department around, where they were able to run a set of campaigns that was literally twice as efficient as the previous marketing plan.
Bonnie Crater: Literally, they were getting not only twice the number of leads out of the same marketing dollar, but it was twice the number of deals out of the same marketing dollars. So it was really a wonderful thing for them. They gained an insanely awesome insight about how their business was running and how they could make it better. Those marketing people became heroes, and they were promoted, and added a lot of value to their company, and they were very proud of that fact. We’re proud of the fact that they were able to be so successful as well.
Neil Hughes: Fantastic. Well, a huge thank you for coming on today. But before I do let you go, could I just ask that you remind the listeners of where they can find you online and also maybe contact a member of your team if they have any questions.
Bonnie Crater: Sure. Our software is available for discovery at www.fullcircleinsights.com. Feel free to request a demo. Just click on a button saying request a demo or contact us and we’d be happy to follow up.
Neil Hughes: Excellent. I think all too often, we hear about businesses just getting a little bit too obsessed with the latest shiny tech or going straight into solution mode. But what I love about what you’re doing there is you’re actually harnessing the right data and using it to create actionable insights to inform business decisions. That is what it’s all about, it really is. So a big thank you for coming on today.
Bonnie Crater: Thank you so much, Neil. Loved to chat with you today.
Neil Hughes: I loved chatting with Bonnie today. We cannot underestimate just how valuable it is hearing insights directly from a CEO of a leading martech company right in the heart of Silicon Valley and being able to beam it all around the world to you guys listening. People often ask me, “Neil, why do you record this daily tech podcast?” And I recently read a great quote from Larry King, who said, “I will never learn a thing from talking. I only learn by listening.”
Neil Hughes: And listening to Bonnie talk today about really important issues, and how she is seeing technology transform the entire industry, and what tech challenges are directly facing businesses, and coming to her with are so important. But Hey, that’s me. What about you? Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet me @NeilCHughes. I’d love to hear your insights, and your experiences, and what you’ve thought of today’s episode, and indeed any of the episodes. So keep those coming in. But that’s it for me, gang, so keep those messages and tweets coming in, and I’ll speak to you real, real soon. But until next time, don’t be a stranger.