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Data-Driven Marketing to Analyze Customer Behaviors​

From an early age, Ajay Gupta has been fascinated by how technology can connect brands with an audience base. This led him to founding a business to develop products that make communication easier. Identity data sets are also part of his story, so you know this will be a data-centric conversation about understanding customers.

Ajay Gupta CEO and Founder | Stirista Global

Watch to learn:
– How to find the right human touch in data-driven campaigns
– What questions to ask about contact database accuracy
– Role of CTV in connecting B2B marketers with prospects

See the specific chapters below:

00:00 – Introductions

02:40 – The Challenge of Different Vendors Running Your Marketing Campaigns

04:40 – Should Companies Repeat Messaging And Ads To Cause Brand Awareness To Stick?

06:43 – What Questions Should Marketers Ask When Sourcing Clean & Accurate Email Data?

09:15 – How To Determine The Amount of Creative Versus the Amount Of Data Sets Against It

12:46 – Where Is The Value In CTV Advertising For B2B Marketers?

16:51 – The Creation And Value of Using “Identity Data”

20:10 – What Practices Should B2B Marketers Pick Up From B2C Marketers?

22:23 – How Is “Truth” Impacting The B2B Marketing Industry?

00:00 – Introductions

Tricia Ruiz: Hello and welcome back to the Accelerating Revenue Series. This is a place for exciting conversations and fresh ideas on how to accelerate B2B revenue and how truth in our industry impacts results. I’m your host, Tricia Jane Wiles. Tune into each episode to hear from C-level execs, VPs, and thought leaders who will share why it’s important that your marketing is accurate, actionable, responsive, and customizable.

We will be having conversations with our guests on what drives the professional and their personal journeys, as they reveal what’s really accelerating revenue, now. Today I am speaking with Ajay Gupta, CEO and founder of Stirista Global, and we’re talking about how to use data-driven marketing to analyze customer behavior.

From an early age, Ajay has been fascinated by how technology can connect with brands, with an audience base. This has led him to founding a business, to develop products that make communication easier. Identity data sets are also part of his story, so you will know that this is a data-centric conversation about understanding customers.

So, let’s dive in. Ajay, thank you so much for being on the Accelerating Revenue Series. I am excited to have a data conversation, learn from you, and specifically since you are the CEO and founder of Stirista, I know that you personally have a strong passion for communication, just where you have grown up, you’re very honest and open about that and how that’s changed into the company that you have helped build the day. So, thank you for being here.

Ajay Gupta: Glad to be here. We’ve known True Influence for a long time, and we work with them closely. I’m so happy to do this.

Tricia Ruiz: Awesome. Great. Let’s dive in. We’re going to talk first about the data-driven marketing.

And specifically, as you’ve built Stirista, you have focused on that subject, right? Data-driven marketing, and that’s by helping customers target. And then we get to look at all the different ways, right? From email to display, to CTV and even direct mail. So, on the human side of that, I’m personally curious, these kinds of communication can come at a customer at different stages of their day, right? When they open the mail, are they at work or are they at their home time, or are they opening their mail with their family? And I’m wondering if you have any thoughts as we are being marketed too, about when these communications could come to them when the customer is in this work mode or in this life mode, right? If they’re watching something on TV and they get marketed too, do you find anything in the data with that t approach?

02:40 – The Challenge of Different Vendors Running Your Marketing Campaigns

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, so I think one of the biggest challenges people have had in marketing for a long time is that different people are doing the campaigns for them.

So, for example often companies will have a direct mail company, they will have a separate digital company, they’ll have a separate social company. So even if they’re targeting somebody, say 18 to 36 in San Antonio, all of these different vendors and partners are bringing their own data set, which will, there’s going to be some overlap, but there’s going to be also a lot of differentiation.

So, then you end up targeting me, for example, I might be getting the direct mail, but I’m not actually getting the email. The marketer feels good that they have done an omnichannel campaign, but in reality, by using all of these different platforms and vendors, they’re missing out on targeting the same person in some sort of a cadence.

So, what we focus on really is using one data set across channels. And I think that’s the way in which you can control. How many times does somebody see a message, which mediums do we target them in? And obviously, some mediums are much more expensive than others. So direct mail, for example you can only send it at a certain cadence versus, digital ad is much cheaper to do. So, you can mix that in on a daily basis. So, our focus is really to work with the client to understand what their budget looks like. And there’s no right or wrong. There’s obviously all of us get annoyed when we’re seeing the same commercial, when we’re watching NBC online, over and over. So, there’s definitely some kind of guidelines to how many times we should do an ad, but there’s two kind thoughts to it. Some people think annoying people still make the brand stick, right? So, there’s definitely different schools of thought in that as well.

Tricia Ruiz: What’s your school of thought then?

04:40 – Should Companies Repeat Messaging And Ads To Cause Brand Awareness To Stick?

Ajay Gupta: My school of thought is there’s a sweet spot before you annoy somebody. Okay. Maybe in the same show you don’t want to do it over and over the same ad, but maybe you do it beginning and closing and let somebody else fill up the other ad spots. And but there’s definitely the email cadence, for example, and especially in B2B where you guys are, there are a lot of emails that become hostile as it keeps going on, the seventh email is, I guess you hate me and that’s why you’re not responding to me.

So, it’s, there’s definitely. You can tell when some of these emails are just not going to work because now, they’re getting passive aggressive at somebody they haven’t even met. So, it’s about finding the right balance for us. For email cadence, we try to focus on it once a week. We never get passive aggressive.

That’s, to me, it’s, that’s the end of the email campaign. Delete, unsubscribe, direct mail tends to be, once a month, if it’s a retail client, CTV ads probably want to do about two a day digital ad no more than seven to ten times a day,

Tricia Ruiz: That’s great advice for some marketers out there though, because I do what you said, passive aggressive, I feel, individually. If you’re having a conversation and someone’s passive aggressive towards you, it’s almost like just be aggressive with me. Just tell me straight up like when you’re being passive, I feel all these different kinds of ways about it. Good point. Because I actually realize, like I have a couple emails in my inbox where I’m like, oh that, yeah, that’s right, I was meaning to get back to you and I’m reading your one and oh, you are a little passive aggressive. Okay. All right. Making me feel a certain way. Speaking on email, then what are the key questions that marketers should ask when they’re sourcing clean and accurate email data? What should they know in order to find the data source?

That’s the truth.

06:43 – What Questions Should Marketers Ask When Sourcing Clean & Accurate Email Data?

Ajay Gupta: Great question. So, one of the challenges, when you’re trying to buy third-party email data is anybody can produce a perfect-looking sample. So, one of the things I always say ask for a specific zip code or geo within which you get all of the data. So, it’s a little bit harder to manipulate that data.

The second thing is always having a truth set. So even if you’re a small company, you can go get your relatives to give, so at our company, we have asked everybody to put in names of people they know for sure. Their address, their email, their phone number, and we do some sort of a gift card if they put in certain things.

And then when you’re asking, testing a data file, you ask your data vendor, hey, can you append emails to this data set? Because then you know what the actual answer key is. So, you have something to compare to. Oftentimes I see the biggest problem with test is you bring in data, but you haven’t really talked through how you’re going to test it.

So, you open the Excel file, and you say, oh, it looks like an email address. It’s, unfortunately, true a lot of times having a test philosophy laying out what you’re looking for, in asking the vendor to provide the data as they would actually get for a campaign, not some manipulated version of it.

Tricia Ruiz: Yeah, I like that comparison you just made me think about, man, like the troublemakers in fifth grade that would sign in on the sheet and sign in with Mr. Whatever that phrase is. You know what I’m talking about though, right? Yeah. Where like they put the joke name down and I like that point that you made of it looks like an email address, but was it somebody who was just, putting something down. You know what we as humans do when we get right, either aggravated or bombarded with ads, like we are constantly living in that space. So actually, testing to make sure, rather than just going with it because it oh, looks like an email address.

Moving forward, then how do you see, how does understanding the data help you guys educate your customers on the campaigns that they want to create? And also, does understanding that kind of data help you drive the creative, we’ve talked a little bit about the passive aggressive emails or the kinds of qualities of ads when you show.

How do you guys help educate your customers on the campaigns that they want to?

09:15 – How To Determine The Amount of Creative Versus the Amount Of Data Sets Against It

Ajay Gupta: Yeah. So, one of the biggest challenges for any brand, whether it’s B2B or B2C, is figuring out how many creatives do they want and how many data segments do they want. And often the budget has to be there, and the time has to be there, right?

So, some marketers that are overly creative will come up with 35 different versions of the creative or want that from their agency. And then by the time you’re slicing and dicing the data in 35 segments for 10,000 records, that’s a lot of work to put in without any significant results that you’ll get out of that much work.

Versus others are just trying to do one creative and send out a hundred thousand records to it. So, I think it just comes down to the fine balance. One of our clients, Great Clips, has done a great job. They have bucketed their customers into four overarching categories loyal customers, new customers, and then within those segments, they have a couple of other categories.

Coming up with something that’s reasonable that you’re marketing what your creative and data team can support, I think is the most important part of all this. And when you have that, then the creative team is not stressed because they’re not trying to get some ridiculous number of creative done.

They’re coming up with the right amount of creative to go with the data. And so that’s often a hard balance because both sides the data, people think if they could only have 50 other segments, the campaign would do better. But I think for me, what I advise clients is you don’t want to create such tiny segments that you end up with a hundred people on something because that’s a salesperson’s job. If you want that one-on-one targeting, that should go to sales. Marketing’s job is to generally provide cover for your sales people, so the targets should be big enough and your creative or your agency needs to be able to support that because otherwise it’s a lot of stress for people as campaign dates come up and we often see things getting pushed by clients because their creative agency’s not ready yet.

Tricia Ruiz: I do what you said though there, of using the data to identify, not just of who’s a potential customer, but right, what using the Great Clips example, loyal new, how great is it that there are these different stages of when you’re exposing for the first time, you’re going to use different language. We’re going to understand something differently in the way that you present it to an individual and how does that look inside that creative or I think that’s wonderful advice. You’re not creating hundreds, but you’re also being specific of even just changing a few words of, Hey, us.

You get to put that into email marketing because what? We’re all humans? Who’s going to read the email? Human. So then going on to the other kind of side of what we’re talking about, CTV, we’ve seen that it’s a growing area of interest for marketers, specifically for B2B marketers just because of the ability, right?

Everything that gets to be streamed or the platforms that are coming out with anything else right now on the entertainment that we consume and those spots for those ads. So, for you, what applications of CTV do you see in the B2B world? Is there value in, in companies reaching out for even the CTV or maybe even the podcasting kind of space?

12:46 – Where Is The Value In CTV Advertising For B2B Marketers?

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I think the great thing about CTV is there’s no real way to fast forward through ads right now, which makes it, a lot better than watching it on TV now because TV most people see an ad, they skip 30 seconds, right? And on the other hand, CTV, you are sitting at your house, and especially right now when most people are working from home so you’re never out of that work mode. You have just finished your day. Maybe you turn on a Hulu show, and you can’t skip it. So, you’re sitting there watching a show and then 10 minutes later you’re seeing an ad for Stirista or True Influence and you have to watch it. And Now I finally see B2B companies coming into play now.

And CTV is a little bit more expensive than your digital ad is actually about 10, 15 times more expensive. But it makes sense because you have to watch it, right? Versus just a banner ad somewhere on a website. But because of that, now I have the ability if somebody was in Stirista’s email portion of the website, I can show them our email ad on while somebody’s watching a show. So, I think there’s great potential for B2B marketers in terms of branding. The part that B2B marketers are trying to figure out is the attribution portion of it. How do we measure which clients came from watching an ad? So that part is still a little bit nascent and new, but in terms of the branding exercise and being able to retarget people that are coming to your website or even prospects, I think that’s perfect. And especially right now during the pandemic, B2B and B2C identities are merging because people are just working.

Tricia Ruiz: People are people.

Ajay Gupta: Exactly. So, I think that’s going to, we can say one positive out of the pandemic for the marketers at least. Easy ease of targeting.

Tricia Ruiz: I like the challenge that you’ve brought though too. It might be an ease of marketing and ease of targeting, but how true is that? Was that CTV ad, we’re getting very specific in example here, so just roll with this listeners, but we’re, if somebody did watch that CTV on what made them go, to your website, what made them go online?

How can you track that? And I think that’s going to be very interesting on how, when you’re sending it out, who you’re sending it to, what channels, what networks, where are they? There’s a lot of data sifting through to actually see if it’s working or not.

Ajay Gupta: Exactly. And the one other thing I’ll add to this is coming back to that email portion.

So especially in B2B everyone has been sending out tons of emails. When the pandemic happened, cold call was pretty much gone. LinkedIn, we all get so much junk in LinkedIn it’s hard to even keep track of that, right? Yeah. So, CTV is this channel that’s not been explored and really, it’s one of the few things left that’s forcing you to see something.

So, for a marketer, I think it could be a potential gold mine for B2B marketers.

Tricia Ruiz: Awesome. So, we’re going to switch gears a little bit here from the conversation of the digging dive deep into the CTV email, direct mail about this marketing, and talk a little bit more about your perspective on how you’ve been able to accomplish what you guys are doing at Stirista and just striking a nerve in the marketplace.

So, I want to highlight the fact that you guys created a niche for yourself around products of identity marketing and every company gets to do that. We at True Influence got to pioneer the category of intent monitoring, but that’s difficult. It takes a lot of work. And I’m curious on how you felt that you struck that nerve in the marketplace, how you saw the reaction of people actually responding to what you’ve been creating and how have you handled it outside of it too, realizing that it’s working.

16:51 – The Creation And Value of Using “Identity Data”

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, so I think, there was a time when big data was a big word, five, six years ago, and then everybody started using it and then it became identity. And then you saw a lot of old school companies that were selling mailing lists just started calling it identity. And there wasn’t really a whole lot of change being made to that. So, for us it came down to having a data set that can be used to target across channels, and that’s what we consider identity. It’s not one consumer demographic list, it’s not just an email list, but it’s the ability to be able to target, whether it’s CTV, email, display, all of those things at once.

In terms of how we did it I think one of the main focuses we had was for a long time, the, our industry has had these quarterly updates and some people even send updates every four months. And then you guys obviously are in that real time space as well. So, for us, the identity portion of it had to be real time.

If we’re getting a signal that we needed to update something on, we needed to do that in a real time basis. And that’s where we have really excelled is focusing on not just being one of the many identity providers that can send you a file every three months but being an identity provider that can license data up to the minute.

So, we’re sending out updates to our clients in a real-time basis. And then the other thing is we have also strategically focused on having solutions added to our data. Most data companies tend to be just data companies, or most email companies are just email companies. But we have focused on having a DSP, ESP, as well as data.

So, it’s the combination of the three that allows us to do a lot of these real-time updates and improve our identity. So, every time we’re showing somebody an ad and they’re watching an ad, we’re actually gathering feedback data back from where did they saw the ad? And improving our graph in real-time.

Tricia Ruiz: I like how you’re saying about the real time updates.

It’s not just about the feedback that you’re getting, but it makes me think of the difference between, go with me here, then, we all know that the sales cycle in B2B can be extremely long, right? It’s a very long process. Lots of different touches, but however, in our personal lives, sometimes things just change like that.

And sometimes somebody moves. Just like that. And so there, that is part of down, if you did really deep down, it’s like it’s part of the data, right? It’s part of the whole process is. And so, making sure that this is real-time because you don’t actually understand what’s happening on the other end from the life perspective of what is affecting this professional identity that you’re seeing.

So that’s fantastic. And I’m curious, as we’re down talking about some of these practices that we’re doing, are there any common practices that B2B brands should take note of from B2C, especially during the last year? I’m sure a lot of them have popped up as we’ve talked about, but ones that have come to mind that you don’t feel are being talked about enough that B2B marketers should really grasp onto?

20:10 – What Practices Should B2B Marketers Pick Up From B2C Marketers?

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I think one of the things B2B marketers don’t do a whole lot is really look at their own CRM systems because people move, change jobs and B2B marketers are much slower in getting their records updated. So, most Salesforce systems tend to be pretty out of date. Because once somebody’s marked cold, it just gets lost in the B2B marketing space versus if you think about a consumer company, they’re just putting them in a different bucket and putting them in an inactive customer list or something like that.

And there’s a lot more B2B marketers rarely are talking about loyalty marketing versus kind of consumer, brands will often, that’s a huge part for them. And then the other thing is similar to that is people in the B2C space are thinking about how do we discount effectively and efficiently. B2B brands rarely think about it other than to get new customers.

But some of the bigger brands now have account management teams, but for mid-sized to smaller B2B companies, it’s often lost is how do we focus on also keeping. Current customers happy or people that moved away. How do we create win back campaigns? And every major telecom retail company spends just as much time always designing win back campaigns.

Who have we lost in the last one month to 12 months? So those are, that’s probably one of the bigger differences I’ve seen. On the acquisition side, everybody tries a little bit of everything. But I think it’s the retention and loyalty where the B2C marketers are a little bit ahead of the curve.

Tricia Ruiz: I like that too, that you’re talking about retention and loyalty and it’s probably because it’s, to be, frankly it’s easier.

You’ve got one person and B2C that you’re talking to, generally, yes, the consumer as a whole, but at the end of the day, one person has to make that decision. And as we all know in B2B, that’s not the case, it takes that team of people to make these decisions. So, when you have this loyalty that you’re not just getting buy-in from one person, you’re getting buy-in from multiple people who make up that company to make that decision.

Ajay, thank you for being here today and as we close out our time, I’m curious truth matters. Truth in our industry is really important to us at True Influence. And so, we’ve, I’ve been asking our guests questions recently of how do you see truth impacting your industry, and why is that important?

22:43 – How Is “Truth” Impacting The B2B Marketing Industry?

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I think, especially on our digital ad side of the business or email business there’s a lot of fraud that happens.

Every couple of weeks you’ll read about a, either it’s on the publisher’s side where somebody’s inflating their traffic to get these ads that are being shown to bots or on the email vendor side, people are inflating click rates and open rates. So, it’s unfortunate. And I think the biggest lesson for marketers is often to look beyond the vanity metrics of opens and clicks, but really look at which provider is helping them convert, which data set is converting better for them. And that when you start looking at those things versus who has better open rates, quick rates those are all things that can be manipulated easily. Conversion, on the other hand, a paid customer that’s to me is the real win. So, I think both from the marketer side as well as on the marketing side with whoever is the data provider, being able to track at that rate and having that conversation, I think is the only way to change attitudes and behaviors on both sides of the equation.

Tricia Ruiz: Awesome. I love that. Open, open and click rates are important, but pay customer at the end of the day conversion. Yep. And that’s where the truth lies.

Awesome. Thank you for joining us today. I’ll make sure to put all your connection things about LinkedIn and how our listeners can get in contact with you and continue the conversation in our episode. But thank you so much for being a part of the Accelerating Revenue Series today, Ajay.

I appreciate it.

Ajay Gupta: Thank you for having me.

Tricia Ruiz: A big thanks to Ajay for taking part in this series. If you would like to continue the conversation, you can find him on LinkedIn. His information will be in the episode notes. And if you are watching on YouTube, hello, hit that subscribe button and question of the day. How does your brand use data to humanize marketing and respond to customer behaviors?

Let us know in the comments below and if you’re listing on your favorite podcasting platforms. Thanks for being here, and we’ll be. Next week.

Connect with Ajay Gupta on LinkedIn: