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Podcast: ft. Ruth Stevens - The Evolution of B2B Marketing and the Need for Data Hygiene

NetWise Oct 20, 2021 6:32:59 PM

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Show Notes:

The one and only, Ruth Stevens, recently popped into the data basement to chat with Brian and Adam. Ruth is the President of eMarketing Strategy, Adjunct Professor at NYU Stern, Author, Speaker and B2B Marketing Consultant. Here are some highlights from the conversation:
  • What are the differences between B2C and B2B marketing?
  • Netflix is a paragon of film making based on buying behavior. Netflix has film rental behavior as resource of predicting interest.
  • Back in the day, Blockbuster made Netflix a tiny offer they took some time to reject. When Blockbuster was tanking, they wanted Netflix to buy them.
  • Most people who run store based businesses think like merchants, not customer marketers. They don't build databases and their transactions are anonymous.
  • Consumer products - much higher volume but smaller dollar value
  • Business products - lower volume, higher dollar value
  • B2B transactions - So many parties involved in purchasing and it's hard to figure out who they are and what their agenda is. We have to have their names, email addresses, job titles and buying roles.
  • Retention is a sub-optimized, under-leveraged opportunity in B2B
  • B2B spends 85% of time and resources on net new lead generation and 15% of time on customer retention. Keeping customers makes huge impact on revenue.
  • This ties into data driven bowtie - once you close the customer, you aren't finished. You need to upsell and concentrate on customer success and retention. No more funnels - it's all about the bowtie.
  • Marketing has to help account managers stay in touch and deliver relationship nurturing content.
  • Marketers are now expected to handle sophisticated IT functions. We have to work with engineering and data science more and more.
  • Marketing is complicated now. Marketing expert, Theresa Kushner claims marketing is dead on the theory that strategic and tactical functions know as marketing are now diffused (i.e., customer service, analytics, MarTech, etc.).
  • Being data-driven allows us to test several options at once. When we have a lot of tests under our belt, we create rules that become future guides.
  • Behavioral economics - the vagaries of human decision making based on behavior and how unpredictable it can be.
  • Data has to be reliable. B2B data degrades 4-6% per month.
  • Data hygiene - what is it? So many companies don't do the basics when it comes to data hygiene.
  • The number of account records that are incomplete is shocking in the B2B world. We are missing phone, email, titles, etc.. if we are going to be data-driven, we have to keep up.
  • Most biz still don't have data-driven mindsets. It's unnatural until you learn it academically. Society is still learning and we are still in the infancy...which is exciting.
Links:
 

Transcript:

Adam Kerpelman:

I like juicy fruit for flavor, but I'm usually chewing gum to freshen my breath freshen my mouth. So I'm minty

Brian Jones:

I was meant for years without thinking about it. But they were out recently. And so I got this grape stuff, and I love it. So now I'm a grape guy. I don't know.

Ruth Stevens:

I'm going to pretend I'm from Singapore and I don't chew gum by law.

Brian Jones:

What law [inaudible 00:00:28].

Adam Kerpelman:

Hey everybody, this is The Data-Driven Marketer sponsored by NetWise. I'm Adam.

Brian Jones:

I'm Brian.

Ruth Stevens:

And I'm Ruth.

Adam Kerpelman:

Welcome back for another hang in the databasement. Thank you for joining us and special. Thanks to our guest this week, Ruth Stevens, who is the president at eMarketing Strategy, a professor at NYU, and a B2B marketing expert. Thank you. Thank you for joining us.

Brian Jones:

Yeah.

Ruth Stevens:

I'm thrilled to be here, especially because my last book was titled B2B Data-Driven Marketing.

Adam Kerpelman:

I was going to say. You just stole one of my points to fall back on if worst case we run out of anything to talk about. You literally written a book called Data-Driven Marketing. So you'll fit right in here. Otherwise, do you want to just kind of jump into it and tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to be writing a book called Data-Driven Marketing?

Ruth Stevens:

Well, I started my business career in database marketing in the consumer world at Book of the Month club, where I just had the best time because the data was available on all of our past customers. And this was a direct-to-consumer business.

Ruth Stevens:

And we could literally predict how an incoming new member to one of the clubs was going to behave with pretty good accuracy because we had enough data elements about them on their arrival to compare them to prior customers with similar profiles. And we could predict the ROI on that customer relationship within the first six months. Really, it was wonderful.

Ruth Stevens:

And when I moved into the B2B world after a good, nice career at Time Warner, I fell into lead generation, which is usually job one for a marketer in B2B. And that was so fun for me because it required almost entirely the same tools and techniques that I had learned in direct marketing customer acquisition and retention in consumer.

Ruth Stevens:

I was at Ziff Davis for a few years and IBM for a few years. And eventually, I went out on my own as a consultant, and I've been in B2B for about, I don't know, more than 20 years now. And it's more fun. It's more challenging, more complicated, but larger order sizes and deeper, longer-lasting relationships than in consumer. So it's got a lot to offer, and it's all based on data.

Adam Kerpelman:

It's a lot more respect for the people at spreadsheets in the B2B and enterprise context, to be sure.

Ruth Stevens:

Indeed, because every account is worth so much more than any given household.

Adam Kerpelman:

So I'm curious to start at the beginning of the story. Even from the data-driven perspective, we kind of have that sort of data everywhere now, but I'm curious, starting from the Book of The Month club and sort of what you're saying about the amount of incoming data associated with that, do you think there's a unique aspect of that associated with the fact of books and readers?

Adam Kerpelman:

I have my own sort of experience in this space. I was in entertainment for years, and when Amazon fired up their studios, I immediately said, "They're going to be a contender really fast." And people would say, "Because they have a lot of money." And I would say, "No, because they have a lot of data." They know what everyone is reading, and they know the stories, but also, you're sort of differently invested in a book.

Adam Kerpelman:

And you are in other sort of throwaway types of media. It takes a long time to finish a book. And so their first series was Bosch, and it wasn't because they thought it was a good story. It's because they understood that they knew a subset of users who were already signed up for Prime, who had read 10 Bosch books that would watch a series for sure.

Adam Kerpelman:

Jeff Bezos, his original idea that if you start with books, you have a certain amount of the highest number of skew, which, if you think of it from a quad perspective, means you have the most data. I don't know if anybody ever thinks of it that way, but it's interesting that you bring up books in that context.

Adam Kerpelman:

Maybe the broader question is, having moved through a bunch of different industries, do you see differences like that depending on the media type? Or it's sort of like, books are better place for this type of data-driven decision. Whereas over here, you get something else?

Ruth Stevens:

I confess. I've never considered that question before based on the story you just told. I certainly see a connection between book buying in Jeff Bezos' marketing database and his filmmaking editorial strategy. But I would actually look at Netflix as the paragon of filmmaking based on buying behavior because they have the film rental behavior as a resource for predicting the need and interest in various categories.

Ruth Stevens:

I had the fun of reading a memoir by one of the two founders of Netflix, and the title you'll love the title. This Will Never Work, which is what he and Reed Hastings were told again and again at the beginning. And the rest is history, but he was actually a direct marketer at the beginning, in his roots. So it's a fascinating story of how he applied direct marketing, thinking database marketing, thinking to building a startup, which just took off.

Brian Jones:

Even the understanding early on that direct to consumer was an effective way to do stuff. During my lifetime, it's like you had the Sears catalog, but there were still the Sears store. And then you kind of had the emergence of direct to consumer of catalogs where I don't know, I think of like Lanzanda or LLB and or those things where there was no actual physical space, but I could still see how you would take that idea to somebody and go, "They want to go to the Blockbuster and they want to hold the disc." And in retrospect, or even as a technologist, I look at that and go. That's so ridiculous. It's fun to browse the aisles, but like it's not [crosstalk 00:08:13].

Adam Kerpelman:

To bring to their marketing strategies. Their growth and business strategies. You want to experience it. And I feel this way, and I feel that way.

Ruth Stevens:

And there's a very funny story or a story in the book the author is named Mark Randolph. And he tells this story about how Blockbuster called them in the very early days of their business and with an eye to either buying them or stealing their idea. And Blockbuster owned the video rental business at the time, of course.

Ruth Stevens:

And they were just startup, and it really wasn't thoroughly proven that consumers would be willing to stream. I'm sorry to be willing to rent by mail, not to mention stream and Blockbuster made them a very tiny offer, which they kind of took a lot of time to reject, and the rest is history.

Brian Jones:

I've also heard, I can't remember where I read it, but then I've heard that the counter, this one's particularly funny because their arcs sort of cross both on the way up and then the way down. And then there were acquisition talks to the other direction Blockbuster was taking, and Blockbuster's going, "Hey, you want to buy us?" And they were kind of going, "No."

Adam Kerpelman:

Physical stuff happens. And how quickly that was probably 25 years in which that happened.

Ruth Stevens:

But if there's a cultural thing too, most people who run store-based businesses think like merchants. They don't think like customer marketers. So they don't build databases. The transactions are all anonymous, and that whole data asset is lost.

Adam Kerpelman:

That's a really interesting point. I've never thought about because you probably, as a sophisticated merchant, you probably do a lot of data-driven thinking around physical location and where communities physically located near your store and footprint size. And who's going to walk by.

Ruth Stevens:

And show merchandise array on the shelf.

Adam Kerpelman:

And kind of interesting.

Brian Jones:

An understanding of the good real estate inside the store for the end of the aisle and stuff like that.

Adam Kerpelman:

So as a transition here, kind of from consumer to business, the thing that I always see that is a big difference, especially around the data aspect of this is consumer marketing, consumer products tend to have much higher volume of data, but what you're selling is much smaller dollar value. And you alluded to this earlier, and then you get into business, and you have much, much smaller volume often of like customers and feedback.

Adam Kerpelman:

But the price point is way up, and you get this complexity where consumers, you can simplify stuff a lot. It's like green t-shirts sell the best. I'm really going to hammer the green t-shirt, but you get into business. And it starts to be much harder to get good signal because deals start to get customized and more complex. And every company you sell to is they're harder to put into buckets and stuff. How did you experience that transition going between the two sides?

Ruth Stevens:

At IBM, in a division called IBM Direct, which was a mailer catalog. And we were selling, so-called selling small mainframes and risk computing hardware through a mail-order catalog, believe it or not. Now that was really an inside sales call center-based closing environment.

Ruth Stevens:

So the catalog was really a lead generator, but it was managed like a mail-order ROI with testing and all and prices in it. So that was a nice entree, but really the bulk of the business is about salesforce productivity. The business of marketing and databases in B2B.

Ruth Stevens:

So that complexity that you mentioned is what makes B2B database marketing so interesting because the account is the unit of purchase, you might say, but there are so many parties inside the account who are involved in the purchase decision.

Ruth Stevens:

And it's really challenging to understand who they are, what's their agenda, which is, of course, a function of their job function and their role in the buying process. And sometimes you can infer one from the other, but that's what makes B2B really fun. The length of the purchase cycle, the number of people involved, and how each of them has a different goal in mind or a different agenda.

Ruth Stevens:

So that means our communications have to be different to each of them, to the extent that it's reasonably possible. But backing up from that messaging question, we have to have their names, and we have to know their email addresses and what their job role is, and their buying role is. And that's a data acquisition challenge that still frustrates everybody in B2B.

Ruth Stevens:

And don't get me started on retention, or actually, please do get me started on retention maybe later in our conversation because that's one of the great sub-optimized, under leveraged data-driven opportunities in B2B.

Adam Kerpelman:

It's actually a thing I think we have a whole episode where we talk about the extent to which we don't think of retention. We said we'd do it later, but whatever, here it is. The concept that we bring up a lot is what we call the Data-Driven Bowtie, which is ultimately marketers are trained to think of things in terms of funnels, but that's not really what exists in exactly the ecosystem that you're talking about.

Adam Kerpelman:

Because once you close the customer, you're not actually finished. There's a whole bunch of communications and marketing that needs to happen for either upsells or just to reduce churn. And so what you're really looking at is you have your funnel that gets it down to the people that sales should focus on. And then out the other side, you have like a horn. And so you end up with a Bowtie.

Ruth Stevens:

Bowtie. I love it.

Adam Kerpelman:

Because out of the other side, you have customer success and you have marketing continuing to work on that side of the funnel, which will actually also grow value, but doesn't fit in the ecosystem the way that we think of it in terms of or what stage of the funnel are they at? It's not really a funnel anymore once they're your customer. And in fact, what you're now you're trying to do is expand that again, out the other side.

Ruth Stevens:

And usually, that's the job of an account manager-type role. And those people have the same 24 hours a day that we all have, and they can't possibly cover the opportunity. So marketing has to step in and help them stay in touch.

Ruth Stevens:

Identify reasons to call deliver nurturing relationship. Deepening content ask for referrals and all the other activities that the account rep just doesn't have time to do.

Ruth Stevens:

And if you look at the percentage of the B2B marketing budget, and I should say where B2B marketers spend their time perennially, it's 85% on net new sales, lead generation, and about 15% on current customer marketing. That just slays me.

Brian Jones:

I also agree.

Adam Kerpelman:

Especially in the sort of SAS context and stuff like that, where here at wise, for example, lives, the cheapest way to make a customer's worth of money for another year is just to keep a customer you already have the idea that that's revolutionary to some people, it still blows my mind.

Brian Jones:

There's another one that doesn't always translate from the consumer sides, the business side. I don't necessarily need another small consumer item. But as a business, it's very likely that a business is ongoing and they're growing, and there other things you do that are complementary upsells, cross-sells to other departments. So that is absolutely a spot where I see this crazy expansion of the marketing team.

Brian Jones:

There's so many responsibilities now that that's something that comes up on every episode that Adam has been saying for years to me is every company is becoming a media company. And that media is everywhere. The sales team needs it.

Brian Jones:

The marketing team needs it on the way in traditional. We all get that sales needs are to support closing deals, especially in business customer success needs it to support keeping deals. The company internally needs it to coordinate. It's crazy seeing how, because of the storytelling aspect and the data-driven approach is that it's consuming aspects of every department in business.

Ruth Stevens:

That's brilliant. When you say media company, you mean like a publisher, right?

Brian Jones:

Yeah. Basically.

Adam Kerpelman:

Yeah, essentially. The technology exists now that we can do this podcast, and now we have our own radio show. Why not do that? And it's the same with video. Everything is so easy to make now that at some size for every company, it's silly for them to continue to hire a consultant, to make X, Y, and Z. You can just hire somebody that's competent enough in-house and literally make videos with an iPhone.

Adam Kerpelman:

It's good enough now. That's how every company ends up a media company, I think, in the modern ecosystem. But then I think the interesting transition that our listeners probably are having to deal with and that Brian and I kind of talk about.

Adam Kerpelman:

Like you said, Brian, the expansion as the sort of data-driven story, telling methodology, consumes all the different departments, the marketing ends up being the ones with the department, with the creatives, for them to handle the messaging and we're used to handling the stuff you need in all of those contexts that Brian talked about, but marketing already exists.

Adam Kerpelman:

And there's already, usually among the leadership and staff, an idea of what marketing is supposed to do. And so then you end up with this strange transition where it's sort of but here's this and this and this thing that you're supposed to be worrying about. But you also don't realize that sales is asking me for this. And customer success is asking me for this.

Adam Kerpelman:

And in a way, it pulls all the departments closer together in a more collaborative way that I always find very exciting, but also it does mean that anyone who's out there right now labeling themselves a data-driven marketer probably needs to learn how to go up the chain and advocate for the fact that they're actually being asked to do way more inside the company than just run ads on Google and make sure that the messaging is consistent.

Adam Kerpelman:

Which I think at a big enough company with an experienced enough sort of executive team, they may not realize that that's what's happening down in those the lower ranks as software kind of eats this stuff, and things get more and more data-driven where we can literally look at how messaging does on a singular Facebook post.

Ruth Stevens:

And you're also identifying a trend that caused my co-author Theresa Kushner to claim that marketing is dead on the theory that the strategic and tactical functions traditionally known as marketing are now being diffused throughout the companies. One clear example is customer service. The call center that takes inbound calls and solves problems has traditionally been considered a marketing function analytics.

Ruth Stevens:

I know MarTech Rich. I know this is close to Brian's heart. Marketers are expected to be managing pretty sophisticated IT capabilities. And the IT department is sort of wondering, "Wait, how come I'm not in control here?" So there's this diffusion of marketing activities into other areas of the company.

Ruth Stevens:

And so it made me the flip side of the point you were making Adam that what is marketing? Like you said, what is data-driven marketing is not really clear anymore. Maybe it's become a cultural thing in some companies. It means one thing. And in others, it needs means something.

Brian Jones:

Yes. That's a really interesting way to put that I've never thought about because we often are talking about marketing has become all these other things, but you're exactly the kind of the reverse perspective is marketing doesn't exist, how it used to exist anymore. [crosstalk 00:23:11]. There's something new happening here.

Adam Kerpelman:

Either way, it feels like a marketing is dead long live marketing type situation.

Brian Jones:

Yeah. And you touched on another aspect there. You're totally right. This is near and dear to my heart because everything is so technical.

Adam Kerpelman:

Yeah. One of our most successful blog posts is actually-

Ruth Stevens:

He didn't turn off his sound.

Adam Kerpelman:

This time he didn't mute.

Ruth Stevens:

So cute.

Adam Kerpelman:

We talk about it really often. One of our most successful blog posts is actually about how every marketer needs to be an engineer now, basically, or something like that. I don't remember exactly what the title was. Keyword optimized, to be sure, but it's really just about how it's so complicated now.

Adam Kerpelman:

Like I said, I think before we started recording, it's a different thing from when I first started 15 years ago. And it was very much like storytelling and coming up with creative and strategy for how you get that creative out, but it was all decided, and now it's so much more like running A/B test and sort of doing scientific things that are way more my engineer brain than my film school brain.

Ruth Stevens:

I can see that. Well, that's actually why I took to direct marketing, like a duck to water, because all of those conversations in a conference room where the senior is voice, who'd be the one that made the decision about what color. What a sweetie pie.

Adam Kerpelman:

You're muted, Brian.

Brian Jones:

I haven't had to do this one before, but something in my wife sunscreen, just gave him a big allergic reaction. So she's sharing her.

Ruth Stevens:

Cutie pie.

Brian Jones:

Say, hi [Bodie 00:25:03]. This is our friend Ruth.

Ruth Stevens:

Hi?

Brian Jones:

Go ahead and wave, buddy.

Adam Kerpelman:

He isn't sure about it.

Brian Jones:

I'll see if I can stay on mute and still participate for a few minutes.

Adam Kerpelman:

Don't worry.

Ruth Stevens:

One of several reasons why I loved direct marketing, database marketing from the first day was that I quickly realized that it was all the decisions were made by testing and looking at the numbers meaning the results of the various hypothesis that people came up with.

Ruth Stevens:

And that just made the conversations in not only the boardroom but also anywhere around the company so much easier because you could say, "Well, thanks for that great idea. We tested it and here's what happened." And so there's no decision-making by a whim or by the loudest voice in the room, which is typical of less data-driven marketing departments.

Adam Kerpelman:

And I'll say that having kind of worked my way up from a small agency that got bigger and bigger and bigger, and then eventually we shut it down. Also, as a manager, it's easier to be in a situation where you don't feel like you're constantly crushing someone's dreams because everybody that comes to you with a pitch wholeheartedly believes in that thing, they're going, "Hey, what if we do this?"

Adam Kerpelman:

And if you have 10 years more experience, you can kind of really easily go, "Well, here's the reasons that won't work. And I hope I can say it in a way to educate you, but also you're going to be disappointed." And then the whole room's going to feel weird. I love a world where all we got to do is get it down to the top 20, and we'll just run tests.

Adam Kerpelman:

And if it doesn't stick, we can kind of go and, "Hey, I'll talk to you later. If you want to hear my theories on why that didn't work." And I get to have much different relationship with the people that work on my creative teams, then just, we all sit in a room, and I make two-thirds of them feel bad by the end of that meeting because their pitches weren't picked up.

Adam Kerpelman:

I make it sound in that context. I'm the arbiter of what's going to work. But also, I don't really know. I'm just guessing based on a gut feeling and the little bit of research I could do. It's more fun for me in not having to do that sort of negative aspects of the job. You let it be data-driven.

Ruth Stevens:

Totally get that.

Adam Kerpelman:

And then also I don't have to worry that my gut feeling is wrong in the same way that you have to, if you're kind of the one at the nexus of saying that one, but not that one.

Ruth Stevens:

Almost too almost took pride that my guests about what would happen in the test was almost always wrong. I find it difficult to predict, but then the other fun thing is that once we have a lot of tests under our belt, then we go back and create rules and learnings that then become future guides and lore. I have a shelf here filled with books by experienced direct marketers who have developed principles that have been proven again and again.

Ruth Stevens:

Sometimes now that whole concept is known as behavioral economics, where a lot of famous people are talking about the vagaries of human decision-making based on their behavior and how unpredictable and weird it can be. And I attend these lectures and read these books, and I say, "Well, I knew that." I've seen that a million times in indirect marketing activity.

Brian Jones:

That's the most fun part about running a business broadly, but especially in the marketing space. This might be impossible. That's my little boy.

Adam Kerpelman:

If you're listening, if we keep this in here?

Brian Jones:

You get to take the art to a whole new level and tackle more complex problems than the ones that you're repeatedly tackling the same problem over and over again, with every process. So data that allows your job to get more interesting.

Ruth Stevens:

But it has to be data that's reliable. And that's where we really get into trouble in B2B because our data is degrading at the rate of four to 6% a month. Not every data element, but I think Adam, you mentioned that during COVID, the degradation rates are even higher. Is that right?

Adam Kerpelman:

That's what we're hearing. I'm not sure Brian might have a better sense of if it's surfaced in our data yet.

Brian Jones:

That's a tough question. We hear all the time, and we are seeing jobs switch a lot more. We actually just ran an analysis recently where jobs are switching at a much higher rate. So we're definitely seeing that for COVID. But the general churn it's a really hard one to pin down.

Brian Jones:

You can kind of whatever you look for, you can see. So it's definitely super important, though. You've got to be looking at, and that's the root of data-driven is looking for trends, not looking for single pieces of information. You should always be looking at that stuff and because it's probably different by industry and by customer type.

Adam Kerpelman:

Well, and so that's a pretty good transition, I think, to one of the topics we talked about before we started recording, which was just the broader idea of data hygiene. So what in your view constitutes data hygiene? What are the repetitive tasks that marketers are probably not doing because they're not exciting, but I think it's a really necessary in this space?

Ruth Stevens:

Well, I think you guys know this better than I, and I can't wait to hear what you say about it, but I would put it into broadly two buckets. One is that the marketers often will ignore the fact of data.

Ruth Stevens:

They'll complain about it. The sales team will complain about it because they couldn't get someone on the phone from the number in the database. But I see so many companies that are not even doing the basics, which would be, and here's the other bucket things like standardizing the data against data standards.

Ruth Stevens:

In our world, the standards would be around the email address deliverability of the email address and the post office getting the standard postal address correct and then determining which of the accounts are important enough to do some of the handwork that's required to get the other data elements clean.

Ruth Stevens:

Like hiring somebody in the Philippines to call to your top accounts and find out if John Smith's current title has changed and you won't want to do that to your entire database, but certainly key accounts.

Ruth Stevens:

Then there are other things that are indicated the number of account records that are incomplete, not only wrong but incomplete is really shocking in the B2B world. It's embarrassing that we're missing phone numbers, we're missing email addresses, we're missing titles. That's just ignorance or irresponsibility. Now I'm getting mad.

Ruth Stevens:

If we're going to be data-driven, we have to keep up. And the corollary point I think that we tend to be guilty of in the B2B world is not taking ownership of our data and delegating responsibility for it to a database administrator or Mary over here who's runs our database for us. And that's ridiculous.

Brian Jones:

I think an interesting aspect of this is that most people and most businesses still don't really have data-driven mindsets. They still don't really grasp the power of all this. And this has been really eye-opening for me. I've been in marketing now for six years at this company. My previous company wasn't really marketing, but it kind of turned into it by accident because there was money there. And so we followed our business model had to shift, and I thought all of this stuff was so developed.

Brian Jones:

It's so easy to go online and read about data-driven and analytics and optimization, but that content is coming from a very small set of people who are way ahead of their time. And when you go into any average business, nobody there conceptually at their core has a foundation that says, "I need to do things this way and I'll make decisions this way."

Brian Jones:

It's unnatural until you kind of learn it academically because data-driven is kind of a scientific pursuit put on top of anything. And so it's unnatural. It's weird. So it's something society is learning still. And I thought we were so much more far down the line, but really we're still at the infancy, which is really exciting, I think from a nerdy tech perspective.

Adam Kerpelman:

Yeah. And I would say all of the hygiene stuff you're just talking about and even the ownership piece Brian and his colleagues before I came on board were upset about this enough that they started a company. So without trying to directly pitch our company, the product that we have now is an effort to make it easier for the marketers to take ownership because they don't have to constantly be having awkward half-understood conversations with a data science team who are looking at this giant database.

Adam Kerpelman:

And they also don't have to worry about a lot of that hygiene stuff because I think this kind of gets to maybe a place to talk about the next evolution of this stuff, where right at the edge, we're starting to see the emergence of companies calling themselves data as a service platforms.

Adam Kerpelman:

And what they mean by that is a paradigm shift further from what you're talking about to a world of, "Well, I just go into the platform, I pull a list of names. I know it's going to be updated because the platform is the one that keeps it updated, and that's what we pay them for. And then I put that list in the marketing materials and et cetera, and don't have to worry so much about kind of the stuff that you're talking about that is whether we like it or not, it's internal burden.

Adam Kerpelman:

I agree. One of the evolutions of the marketing skillset is to understand what's happening in the data and how the data works and stuff like that. But there's a reason there's data science team because it's a whole completely different type of brain that does that part of the analysis.

Adam Kerpelman:

So there's kind of there's ownership, but then there's the actual execution of the hygiene and stuff. And even that world is starting to shift, which is kind of where our network is does emerge ultimately. I'm curious sort of from that standpoint what you think on that front?

Adam Kerpelman:

Because it's almost one of those things where we've been telling people about data hygiene for so long that we maybe won't need to anymore because the solutions will have emerged to make it, so you don't have to worry it's somebody else's problem basically.

Ruth Stevens:

Well, are you talking about my first-party data on someone else's platform, and I can access it as a service with a password, and you're managing it for me?

Adam Kerpelman:

I really don't mean to turn this into NetWise pitch, but that is what we think.

Ruth Stevens:

I'd like to hear what it is.

Adam Kerpelman:

Getting in there and fatten it with everything else that exists. And then essentially we're meant to be your [crosstalk 00:38:15].

Ruth Stevens:

Thanks for explaining that. I am reminded of the outsourced marketing database, which has been a service offering as long as I've been in the data world. What's fabulous about the new offerings is that I have online easy, user-friendly access to my own data and as well as maybe prospecting data that you own, and I can order upon demand.

Ruth Stevens:

And you've meanwhile cleaned up and upended and completed my house file. So that access because in the old days, as a business person, I would make the decision of do I want to manage my customer data, my marketing database, do I want to manage it in house or outsource it to the likes of say Axiom or Anchor Computer Inc or somebody like that.

Ruth Stevens:

And they would do similar improvements and maintenance and so forth. But in order for me to access it, I had to call somebody, get a list, or get a report. And the ease of access now it is the big whoop, in my view.

Ruth Stevens:

So I can see that as really being an advantage because, frankly, the technical and experiential requirements to manage a complex data set is not something that any given company should really be investing in in-house. There's a really strong argument to be made for outsourcing that to the net wide system.

Adam Kerpelman:

We talk about a lot. It's complexity the reality, particularly as digital hits database marketing, you can have so many records in there now that it's past the capacity for human brain to really even have the head around. We wouldn't be able to do it in the first place if spreadsheets weren't invented. So it really is just as things digitized, the complexity increases.

Ruth Stevens:

I know. Digital marketing communications the response is coming, who setting up the split tests, for example, reading the responses, upending those responses to the customer records. So you have the history of the relationship that's beyond complex, edging towards rocket science.

Brian Jones:

Absolutely. We're at the edge with marketing, and you mentioned this again earlier, too, Ruth, where this is such a technical pursuit now you need engineers in a lot of cases. You need IT to help manage systems and set things up, and write software to understand your information. And we're kind of at a spot where the squishiness of all of this stuff is beyond current technical solutions.

Brian Jones:

I hear people talk about Adtech and MarTech and DemandGen and stuff all the time, and they're like, "Why is it so fragmented? Why are there so many different companies in so many different systems?" And personally, as an engineer, my perspective is computers aren't ready to solve these problems yet. These are still squishy human problems.

Brian Jones:

And we don't have the artificial intelligence to do all of this at once because there's all this human relationship and network that's built into this too, that you're trying to kind of capture and categorize essentially into a spreadsheet. And it's just more complicated than that. These are really, really hard problems that we're asking kind of an emerging or completely shifting field to kind of handle and figure out.

Ruth Stevens:

Well, that's depressing.

Brian Jones:

Well, hopefully, a computer will be able to do it for us so relax.

Adam Kerpelman:

Well, I was going to say actually as a way to wrap up, I think because we're actually out of time here. I think that's maybe the delineation between the people that are you a data-driven marketer or not? If that complexity is just sort of exciting to you, which is how I feel about it. I see that complexity, and I go, "We can run so many different tests. We can try some different stuff and we can these fractal split."

Adam Kerpelman:

Just everything becomes a scientific test, and stuff like that gets me almost as excited as the storytelling piece. And so I'm like in a perfect spot as a data-driven marketer. If you feel that way, then you found your people in terms of data-driven marketing.

Adam Kerpelman:

And, ultimately, to the shift we were talking about before, if that complexity feels super overwhelming, well, hopefully, this podcast can help it. We'll continue to talk about it.

Adam Kerpelman:

That may be where you're you're right, Ruth in terms of marketing is dead because it might be a different position you're looking for now in this sort of ecosystem, that's somewhere more along the lines of creative or copywriting or narrative strategy, or these other more niche titles or job functions that have emerged as the data piece has kind of eaten the broader moniker. Because that complexity just emerges everywhere, that software suddenly hits. Awesome. Well, thank you. So much for joining us, Ruth. This is great chat.

Ruth Stevens:

I enjoyed the conversation. Thanks.

Adam Kerpelman:

Where if people want to look you up, should they find you on the interwebs?

Ruth Stevens:

Well, of course, I'm on LinkedIn, and I'm also the owner of a website which needs updating ruthstevens.com.

Adam Kerpelman:

Ruthstevens.com. Let me repeat that just because I think I talked over it.

Ruth Stevens:

Thank you.

Adam Kerpelman:

Awesome. Well, like I said, thanks again for joining us, and thank you to all of our listeners for sticking around for another one. This has been The Data-Driven Marketer sponsored by NetWise. I'm Adam.

Brian Jones:

I'm Brian.

Ruth Stevens:

And I enjoyed joining you.

Adam Kerpelman:

Thank you very much, Ruth. Have a great day, everybody.