Data drives B2B marketing. But many marketers question how upcoming changes will shape the future of digital marketing.
Tim Hayden, CEO of Brain+Trust, talks about data unification. He also discusses trends in data strategy and what B2B marketers should focus on now and in 2023.
“I think that marketers have to understand that the data they already have points them in the direction of where they need to go. The big thing is, starting to understand taking care of the people who’ve already opened their wallet to you … those are the folks if you treat them right and if you cater to their needs, more than likely, they’re going to buy from you again.”
This episode of the Leader Generation Podcast is hosted by Tessa Burg, Chief Technology Officer at Mod Op.
Highlights From This Episode:
- Customer acquisition vs customer retention
- Data unification and its benefits
- Building a single record of each customer
- Benefits of customer data platforms
- Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) vs Customer Relationship Management (CRMs)
- Defining a team responsible for managing data
- Cookies and third-party tracking tools
- Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
Watch the Live Recording
Full Episode Transcripts
Tessa Burg: Hello, and welcome to another episode of “Leader Generation” brought to you by Mod Op. Our guest today is the CEO of Brain+Trust and the chief of business strategy at the Next Practices Group, Tim Hayden. Thank you, Tim, so much for joining us.
Tim Hayden: Hey Tessa, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I was so excited that I had the chance to meet you at MAICON. And your presentation was very insightful and very powerful. And our conversation today is going to kind of dig into the backdrop of what you’re discussing around data.
Tim Hayden: Sure.
Tessa Burg: So, a lot of our audience is B2B marketers, brand marketers, people who deal in a lot of data. And we’re hearing some concerns from them about what’s going to be changing with cookies? Are they going away? What happens when Google analytics moves to G4? What legislation is going on? There’s a lot of hearsay. There’s a lot of nervousness. So from your perspective, what’s really important for marketers to focus on now at the end of 2022 and heading into 2023?
Tim Hayden: Well, I think, A, number one, it’s a mindset, Tessa. Is for decades, we’ve treated marketing, we’ve used it as this whole premise to grow a business through acquisition techniques, to where we almost get militaristic in our terminology. We talk about cohorts and we talk about targeting and we talk about things that are just about finding new audiences and grabbing land almost, right? And I think that marketers have to understand that the data they already have, actually, those are the tea leaves to point them in the direction of where they need to go. And there’s twofold. We’ll talk a little bit about data analysis, I’m sure, but the big thing is, starting to understand taking care of the people who’ve already opened their wallet to you, who already trust you historically, they’re customers, they’re existing relationships, those are the folks if you treat them right and if you cater to their needs, more than likely, they’re going to buy from you again and they’re going to tell their friends at trains, planes, and tee-ball games, they’re going to tell everybody that they need to buy from you as well. So, I think it’s really changing that mindset to think about acquisition through retention. And we talk about the timing of that too, because it’s, especially right now, I think that’s important.
Tessa Burg: That’s really interesting because before I joined Tenlo, which is the agency that was recently acquired by Mod Op where I work now, I worked at a loyalty company, and we would ask businesses, what’s most important to you? What are your biggest challenges? And every single business answered, we need to get more new customers and we need to get more data.
Tim Hayden: Right.
Tessa Burg: And it was like, well, we’re a loyalty company. What would you like to do with the customers you have now and what do you want to learn from them? And that was very challenging for them to answer. But what are some of the risks? I feel like there isn’t a sense of urgency when it comes to prioritizing your existing customers.
Tim Hayden: Yes.
Tessa Burg: What are some of the risks that are real right now for companies that are not looking at marketing that way?
Tim Hayden: Well, I think the marketplace has never been more competitive. And you have to peel that back, that statement, because what is really the thing that everyone’s competing for right now, it’s our attention. And it doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or if you’re B2C. The way that content finds you with push notifications on your phone, with alerts, that email has landed, we get a little shot of dopamine, and we just quickly look at our phone the minute the screen lights up or if the phone makes a sound. That’s the great game right now with the media world, is how can they get us to spend more time listening, more time viewing, more time scrolling, and sucking down the feeds that we subscribe to? And on top of that, I think it’s what I’ve been telling people for a few years now, no matter what it is you do or how special you think your product or service is, there’s two or three people in a coffee shop right now working on a PowerPoint for an appointment on two days from now to go pitch to VCs an idea that’s faster, better, cheaper than what you do. So, I think you always have to understand that there’s somebody out there doing what you do. And you have to also understand that there’s just not as many hours in the day, there’s not as much attention span for you to capitalize on as there was just five, maybe 10 years ago.
Tessa Burg: I love that analogy of people sitting around and already working on the same idea that you have. And that is so true. When I was younger, my uncle said, “If you have a great idea, an amazing idea, at least 10 other people are doing it.”
Tim Hayden: Right.
Tessa Burg: And so you have to find out what is critical and urgent to your audience and how would you recommend that people do that? How can they find out what is the most important feature, the most important point to prioritize in order to get the right type of attention and get it efficiently?
Tim Hayden: Well, you know, and why we’re here today and the talk I gave in Cleveland at MAICON was this notion of data unification. This notion of the last 15 years of digitization in the marketing suite, the communication suite, and the customer experience suite. It’s really those three business units, and sometimes in many organizations, it’s the same team doing all three of those things. Well, basically the way that they’ve subscribed to new software as a service, the way that they’ve started using new tools, they’ve got their situation now where they’ve got customer data wrapped up in multiple systems. And what I look at and what I’m most preachy about is this notion of data lakes and customer data platforms. Systems integration seven plus years ago was about offshoring to someone in India a project that lasted months to build connections, APIs or even pre-API, building connections between systems that were never meant to talk to each other. And it was a data migration puzzle. It was always that and that’s why it took so long. Today with APIs, with the ability to basically plug and play, and it’s not that simple, of course, but to essentially plug things all into one central place, a customer data platform or a data lake of some sort, you have the opportunity, especially in the age of machine learning, to be able to make sense of this data coming from disparate sources and to build those singular customer records for your customers. So that’s really what we’re talking about here when we talk about data unification, and then the second part of that is entity resolution. And that’s where machine learning and artificial intelligence comes to play, is just to say that, hey, this bit of information that came from marketing automation, and this from email, and this from social media, and this from logistics. These are different email addresses, these are different payment methods, different IP addresses. But guess what? The robots can figure that out. And they can say, “Oh, that’s just Tessa.”
Tessa Burg: Yep.
Tim Hayden: It’s not just initial T. It’s not T. Berg over here and Tessa Berg there and Mrs. T. on Twitter, right? It’s about building that singular record for the customer.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, and I feel like that single view of the customer has that notion has been around for a long time, but I hear feedback that marketers feel like, and really good marketers, know their customer, they know what they want, and they’re getting that data from doing market research and creating personas. And they feel the cadence of updating those personas just often enough. Changing Sally to Karen, and Bob to Matt, or whatever it is in some date underneath is enough. Is enough for them to say, “Here’s who we’re selling to. This is what we know about them and so therefore this is how we know we’re solving a problem that’s urgent and relevant right now.” So what additional benefit to the marketer is data unification really bringing, that really justifies the effort?
Tim Hayden: So to take it a step further, what you’re getting by using a customer data platform, and let’s just take a pause real quick there. Three, four, five years ago, actually, when I first really started helping clients, my very first clients implement customer data platforms, at that point it was a pretty heavy lift. It was a capital investment, right? It was almost always limited to enterprise brands. Now, today, the market is much deeper. There’s much more breadth to the marketplace of customer data platforms. So I wanna make that point clear that there’s down market possibilities. There’s alternatives for companies that don’t think that they have the wallet size or the means to do this. But a customer data platform provides you and the marketer, just as you asked, that customer 360 view, and it allows you to do better segmentation of your audience. And the thing I like to say is, it’s not just about customer journey mapping as a linear exercise, which usually is done through bringing everyone who departmentally is touching the customer or facing the customer just to have a conversation about personas and to talk about a day in the life, and to try to figure out and model just on the few data points that they have on how customers behave. Now you have it all in one place, and now you’re actually able to do customer journey analytics. So this helps you with better views with demand side platforms if you’re investing in paid digital media and display media. This helps you check a huge box with customer data privacy, both the laws that are starting to spring up state by state, that which we may be more continental or national in nature, certainly is global already. And then I would say third, having clean and structured data, and not even clean, just structured data within that CDP, is a gift to both the systems you’re already using that have artificial intelligence in them and automation in them, because they would love to have, if we can talk about, if we can humanize those systems for a second, they would love to have clean information. And data scientists and data analysts would love to be able to go over to a CDP or log into one, and I always always try to give that a physical illustration, almost like a keg of beer. Go over and open the tap and query the CDP for specific behaviors, specific preferences, and specific insights, and audience segments that you’re looking for before you run a direct mail campaign or a display campaign, whatever it is you’re trying to do. So the efficiencies that come from doing this are limitless. This podcast is not long enough to tell you the long list of use cases and things I’ve seen happen with a customer data platform in place.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. That I think is really exciting. And I think I’m going to take a step back. It’s a big answer, and we’re going to go to the crawl question. So today we have clients who, they’re doing a pretty good job of getting data into their CRMs. And when they’re running media or something on a demand-side platform, they’re exporting those contacts from the CRM and then using that to enhance the targeting pool. When we talk about, okay, we need a CDP, what is the difference between exporting that list out of the CRM and what I’m going to get with a CDP to enhance my targeting and that paid media-side?
Tim Hayden: So, I think from a general standpoint, CRMs are limited to five to 10 connections to them, and they’re limited by the fields that were configured when you originally licensed or you last updated your CRM. So, no doubt about it. CRMs are extremely valuable from a business operation standpoint. The thing I like to say is, if there’s anything Salesforce has done is it’s done its best to try to figure out how to get salespeople to use it more fluidly, right? So that’s a user interface opportunity. That’s a data entry opportunity. It’s a time and a respective time opportunity. But behind the scenes, what a CDP does is it has the ability to pull in both customer and machine data that are coming from other parts of the business; fulfillment, supply chain, customer service. If you have contact centers. If you have customer service centers and you’ve got two, three, 500 people, and I say two or three people or 500 people on the phones that are at the other end of a 1-800 number and/or are dealing with escalation from a chatbot on your website. In those situations, they’re probably capturing the most valuable information of all. They’re finding out what customers are finding as delightful in some situations, but in many more situations as short of their experience. And to be able to analyze that type of information and understand where there’s opportunities for improvement, both from how you message it in a marketing capacity, but also in a product or a service development standpoint, you’ve got a opportunity to bring all that information into that CDP and analyze exactly what people are asking for and what do they need. So, I think it is more of a global opportunity for an organization or a brand. I think it’s not as much the functional thing that a CRM does. It is saying, “Hey, what do we have here as a true north of insights for the entire organization?”
Tessa Burg: So, I feel for marketers, they might be a little overwhelmed. They’re like, “Okay, I’ve just had like this vision of like the horse and it has those like black blinders next to it so it only sees what’s in front of it and doesn’t get distracted.”
Tim Hayden: Yeah.
Tessa Burg: So, it’s not saying, “Hey, marketers, we want to take you away from what you do best.” But it is saying, look to the right and look at where other data sources within your organization can help you get really valuable insights that can be used to acquire more of the right customer, more of the customer where you have the product or service that meets their need.
Tim Hayden: That’s right.
Tessa Burg: And if we do that, if we’re starting to learn from the data we already have, how does that impact the metrics that marketers really care about? What will they see in terms of time to close, conversion rate, number of opportunities for the sales team?
Tim Hayden: Well, I think I’ll start off, I think, with what you just illustrated, right? When I speak at conferences, I often ask the audience, and most of them are digital marketing conferences, right? I’ll ask people, everybody in the room, raise your hand if you consider yourself a digital marketer. And of course, 98% of the hands go up in the room. I say, keep your hand up if you also manage direct mail. And about 60, 70% of the room will put their hands down. It’s that right there. It’s saying how do we take everyone who’s dealing with data and everyone who is got their own flavor of performance measurement and analytics, how do we bring them together to where they can share insights with each other to improve what they respectively do in their business unit or whatever task it is they manage? So, to your point about analytics, it’s about speeding and accelerating the time to conversion. The time to conversion, the time to closing a deal, because you’re able to measure and monitor that customer journey in one place. You’re able to do that much more succinctly. You’re able to reconcile that probably with whatever the two or three tools are that you’re using heads up in front of you anyway. That’s the one thing that I like to do with organizations, is say, installing a CDP does not replace the tools you’re already using. It just makes the tools you’re using run better and cleaner. And you’ve got a way from a process and a workflow standpoint that you’re comfortable using software as a service every day and the dashboards that you look at. I’m not telling you to throw that out. I’m telling you, watch how that changes a little bit, and then know that you can always query the CDP and get a different view of where people are in the whole customer journey, and what they’re doing, and what was working and what wasn’t working. I think that’s critical. And I need to generalize there because at the end of the day, no two brands are concerned about return on their ad investment, customer lifetime value, and other metrics the same way. But this is what a CDP just gives you a monster advantage in being able to quantify and being able to make sense for people that are down in very specific functional roles in the organization.
Tessa Burg: So, we’ve talked about the benefits of the CDP, how marketers can use it, and why it’s so important to one. Maybe for a minute, stop adding to your tech stack, stop trying to get more different types of data and look at what you have. Let’s move into who’s the right department and roles to own this and be on the team. ‘Because selfishly, so I’m the CTO at Mod Op and I would be like, I should do this because it’s a technical thing, but I’m also have enough self-awareness and get enough feedback that say that people don’t always understand what I’m saying or what I’m doing. And that there is a really big gap when we try and do a technical project to, you know, the marketers either don’t use it, they’re not engaged, they didn’t get why we did it. So, what’s the right mix of marketing and technical folks, and how can you make sure that this tool and this data lake really serves your organization in the way that you want it to?
Tim Hayden: Well, as I stated before, Tessa, earlier that the market has matured quite a bit, and you’ve got lots of options out there in terms of customer data platforms. And if you’re a big Microsoft user, Oracle user, IBM, Salesforce, each one of those brands has their own solution for data unification and entity resolution. That whole idea of deduping the information that you have. So, with that, I think you’ve got this fantastic opportunity if you’re going to consider this, if you haven’t done this yet. One of the things, and to answer your question directly, is to establish a liaison between the operations of customer experience and customer service, marketing, and communications, or maybe marketing and communications respectively, and of course, the leaders of each of those business units with folks that would be in the IT function or the technology and what a lot of companies have today, which is transformation or innovation, right? All of these folks need to sit in the proverbial boardroom and understand that this could be a shared cost, a shared investment, because they all can benefit and they all can be part of the team that stewards the CDP and the protocols and processes that are put around it and how people use it going forward. And again, for each organization, and sometimes different business units, we have one client who has five or six CDPs down in the business units in one larger, big data platform that also is a CDP that they all plug into, right? So there are different ways to go about doing this, but at the end of the day, it’s about understanding who has the opportunity to benefit from this and to ask them the questions before you invest in a CDP, what is it you need most to do a better job? For customer service and customer experience folks, they need to have a heads-up view of the history of a customer when that person calls in or when they’re escalated from a chatbot engagement, right? They need to know a little bit more about you so they don’t waste your time and say, “What’s your mother’s maiden name. Can you tell me what you’re calling about today.” Instead of that saying, “Oh, I see you’re calling about the blue one you bought last Wednesday. Is there something I can help you with?” Much more personalized. We think about personalization as display ads. An ad that that Tessa sees and only Tessa sees, right? That’s possible with programmatic media, but at the end of the day, the more important thing is just understanding that at every single customer touchpoint, you’ve got an opportunity to leverage what’s in a CDP in some capacity to personalize the experience. And that’s a different function and a different workflow for people in each of these business units. So they need to sit around the table, understand it’s a shared investment, at the same time, understand that they’ve got, not just a responsibility, but an opportunity to improve and optimize what they do already.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I love that. And starting with what you need the most, that way you can also help control the scope of the whole project if everyone agrees on here are the priorities that really help us, to your earlier point, acquire through retention, acquire through knowing who our customers are and being able to put in place where we can do some predictive modeling, some predictive analytics and see-
Tim Hayden: That’s right.
Tessa Burg: What can we expect for these efforts? And that’s where the measurement and sort of the, this investment was worth it question will be answered.
Tim Hayden: That’s right. Let’s be clear. CDP companies are just the next iteration of software as a service, and what do they do? They engineer technology to do something so only they can see, right? Only they know. And most of them take a dose of their own medicine and they iterate the development of their platforms over time to be more functional and to be used in new use cases based on what they’ve seen their customers use it for, but only you, the brand, knows what it is you’re trying to do.
Tessa Burg: Yeah.
Tim Hayden: And to be able to meet a new vendor, in this case, a customer data platform vendor, to meet them and say, these are the top 10 things that we’re wanting to make happen and this is only what we know today. And then putting them in the best position to not tell you best practices or anything like that, but to say, “All right, let’s do a bespoke configurement of this technology for you.” That’s the grand opportunity.
Tessa Burg: So, for marketers who are concerned about cookies going away and the personalization that’s possible from the cookie data they get, how does a CDP address that fear concern?
Tim Hayden: Well, I think when you think about cookies going away and what does that mean? It means that for the world that uses Google Chrome and browsers built on the Google Chrome platform, no longer is Google going to support third-party tracking tools, cookies, pixels on your website, all these things, right. They’re going to make you come to Google add it up. And the thing I like to say is I talked to a lot of marketers today that are still scratching their head on how to use GA4, right? That’s your appetizer or your appetizer for what the world’s going to look like when you’ve got a more direct relationship with Google, than you do with a DSP, an ad agency, or anybody else that was handling your media buy for you. They may still be involved, but Google’s going to be more directly involved now. Well, at the end of the day, I think you’re putting yourself in a ready position by having those golden customer records to be able to have a more productive engagement with any media network, any demand-side platform, and especially with Google, Apple, and the big tech firms that are all seeming to do the same thing right now, which is putting control in the consumer’s hand, and that applies to B2B as well, putting control in the user’s hands on what data can be accessed from the user and that which cannot. So you’ve got this grand opportunity. If you have your data organized and well-governed, well-structured, you’re going to be much more efficient going forward in how media works. And the only thing other than that is just with privacy, all the privacy laws say basically the same thing. At some point you’re going to be in a position where you are required to allow customers to view their data, all the data you have on them, to view it, to ask you to pause using it, to correct it, or ask you to delete it. And if you have your data strung out across the organization, you are in a jam and probably liable for some type of legal action at some point. That is coming sooner than I think a lot of people want to know. So, the prescription that privacy laws really put out there, do you know where all the data is for your customers so if they ask you for it you can show them? Is all the same stuff you got to do to personalize experiences and do all the things to create efficiencies we’ve already discussed.
Tessa Burg: And I think those are really important points because it creates a critical sense of urgency for marketers. The way you said it was perfect, because it’s not a scare tactic, but it is a reality.
Tim Hayden: That’s right.
Tessa Burg: Everyone has to move to GA4 by June, July of next year. So, there is a timetable to when everyone will be on GA4, which means there will soon be a timetable to the rest of the things you just mentioned, the data privacy. The having to show what data you have on everyone is going to come soon after.
Tim Hayden: Yes.
Tessa Burg: So, if you are a global marketing company and you don’t yet have priority set on what’s most important to be solved through a data lake, you should probably do that starting now. And then the benefits are everything we already talked about. It is a good thing to do. It will benefit your marketing department. They will be prepared. The creative will be better. You can get into predictive analytics and starting to forecast how people will buy, and what they’ll buy, and when they’re most likely to buy from you. So it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom, but I do think we need a higher sense of urgency right now to start down this journey, or people are going to be caught off guard. and there could be some serious consequences.
Tim Hayden: You bet. You bet. And then I think the last thing to really respect about this, because you just laid out a timetable based on GA4, right? And I’d like to say that’s a signal, right? Just look at the signals. You don’t have to be a futurist, you don’t have to have a book of predictions, but you do have to understand that these things are all happening for a reason. One of the biggest reasons is, who’s leading the fight and the contest for our attention in the home and the vehicle? It’s Apple, it’s Google, it’s Samsung, it’s Amazon, and to a certain degree, it’s Facebook. It’s those five companies that are really doing all they can. And what comes with that, 10 times the data that marketers already see today. So, starting now in 2022 and early 2023, to stick on that timeline that you put out there, I think it puts you in a future-readiness position for what comes next. What is Google going to tell you that they can make possible about display ads on the dashboards in people’s cars, or with Google Home, or with Apple TV, or whatever it might be. There’s new possibilities and new opportunities that are just 18, 24, at most 36 months away that will look totally different. You got to make the investment today.
Tessa Burg: Well, Tim, this has been an awesome conversation. I feel like we could keep going and we will have you back on because you’re speaking at Content Marketing World.
Tim Hayden: I am.
Tessa Burg: Coming up in September.
Tim Hayden: In about a month, yeah.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, so you’ll be back in Cleveland. Who knew you liked Cleveland so much?
Tim Hayden: I love Cleveland.
Tessa Burg: Yeah.
Tim Hayden: Love Cleveland.
Tessa Burg: So that will be very interesting. Some great information for content marketers. All this data obviously can drive and support very creative and impactful content strategies. But if people have questions directly for you, where else can they find you? Where can they reach you?
Tim Hayden: So, I’m on LinkedIn and the linkedin.com/in/saddleup as just one word. S-A-D-D-L-E-U-P. I’m there on LinkedIn. I’m on the twitters @thetimhayden. And we are ratcheting up the content we put on our website and the newsletter we send out every month. And you can get all of that at braintrust.partners.
Tessa Burg: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, again, for your time today. For listeners who want to find more episodes of “Leader Generation,” you can visit tenlo.com and click on the word podcast. You can also find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, or even on Spotify. I didn’t know we’re in Spotify. It felt too young for me, but it’s on there too.
Tim Hayden: Awesome, Tessa. Thanks for having me.
Tessa Burg: And we’ll talk to you again soon, Tim. Thanks.
Tim Hayden: Awesome, Tessa. Thanks for having me.
Founder & CEO of Brain+Trust | Chief of Business Strategy at The Next Practices Group
Tim Hayden is the founder and CEO of Brain+Trust, a strategic consultancy that empowers brands to grow revenue by leveraging their primary data. Before Brain+Trust, he headed marketing at Zignal Labs, a real-time media intelligence platform used by Facebook, Google, Uber, IBM, and others to identify influencers and for reputation management.
Hayden is also the former head of the Mobile program at Edelman Digital in North America. He has served as a catalyst for transformational change within some of the world’s leading brands, including Dell Technologies, Bacardi USA, McDonald’s, Shell Oil, Hilton Worldwide, Kraft Foods, and Walmart.