Diggen Attends the Small Business Web Summit

As an entrepreneur, my time is limited and divided between many tasks. Making the time to attend conferences, let alone choosing which conferences to attend is a daunting task. My good friend Dina Moskowitz, the founder of SaaSMax, told me about the Small Business Web Summit and their organization where she is also a board member. I knew this was one conference I couldn’t miss primarily for two reasons.

First, our missions were aligned, since the Small Business Web Organization and Summit’s mission is to help small businesses with technology. At Diggen we believe access to data shouldn’t be complicated, nor expensive. We are building a platform allowing any size business the ability to source and integrate marketing data, so businesses can better understand their audience and leverage the data to improve their marketing initiatives.

Second, the right people were attending. If you’re speaking to the wrong audience, it doesn’t matter how great your mission statement sounds. Before attending any conference, it’s good to know who else will be flying in. Conferences are the ideal way to connect with many individuals you would normally spend weeks trying to reach. When doing my conference due diligence, I discovered many of the companies on my target list were attending, but also the right person to connect and discuss opportunities. It was a blend of technology startups and large software companies, but the people were the Founders, CEOs, Heads of Partnerships, Alliances, and Product.

So I booked my trip to the Bay Area and off I went!

Evening Before The Summit

I arrived earlier than expected and was excited to make the pre-conference dinner scheduled for attendees. It was held at the Tied House in Mountain View and I was very pleased with the evening.

It was a long table with about 15 people and it immediately felt like a group of coworkers getting together after work. My end of the table was Josh Sanderson from Lightspeed Capital, Alex Fong from Microsoft, and Sunir Shah from Olark. Josh and I instantly hit it off and connected over our GE background.  Apparently he was involved in the proposal to acquire GE Information Service at the exact time I was a program manager there.

After eating my dinner, drinking some cider, and chatting with this side of the table, I moved over to the other side to meet more attendees. Ironically, I recognized Mike Montano from ReviewBuzz, since we were on the same flight from San Diego and we were also in the same Uber riding sharing from the airport.

After an hour, Sunir moved over to this side of the table and I got a chance to talk in more detail with him. He asked me very specific questions about my business and seemed fascinated with the overall challenges of SaaS companies to grow. In addition, Sunir is a board member of the Summit and he also MC most of the Summit. We discussed running an event and creative approaches to increase ticket sales since I am on the board of Startup San Diego and we run San Diego Startup Week coming up in June.

Summit Day 1

The conference was hosted at the Google Quad Campus. Armies of dedicated engineers trotted all around and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a surreal science fiction film. I’m familiar with the Googleplex main campus since they were a partner at the last company and I visited every so often. However, it was amazing to visit yet another Google campus just a mile away.

I attended the track format sessions in the afternoon with Anand Kulkarni from Lead Genius and Chris Campbell from Review Tracker, and Jon Ferrara from Nimble as speakers. All were informative and entertaining presentations, which were also relevant to my business. When I connected with Anand and Chris afterward at happy hour, we chatted about our mutual background in local search. They were familiar with my former company Localeze. It really is a small world in the data industry!

I finally got to connect in person with Lou Salfi and Hannah Shain from Cloud Elements.  After many phone conversations, it was a pleasure to put faces to the names and voices. Cloud Elements is a company I found researching potential partners to integrate as a key component of our platform, so I’m excited to integrate in the future as part of our offering.

I ended day 1 with meeting Cody Jones from Zapier. Zapier is another integration for Diggen, since we make it easier for Zapier’s customers to source marketing data into their ecosystem. Cody is just establishing the business development initiatives at Zapier and we are excited to watch their fast pace growth!

The night ended with another brewery event  at Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View sponsored by Microsoft. It’s nice to see the micro brewery scene booming in other California cities! San Diego still holds the title of the most microbreweries, so let me know if you come visit and need a tour guide.

The two people that stood out in my research in deciding to attend the Summit were Richard Gilbert from Infusionsoft and Pamela O’Hara from Batchbooks. Not only are they board members of the Summit and focused on software for small business, but I was also interested in sharing Diggen’s embedded service for CRM platforms and get their thoughts.

Summit Day 2

The beginning of the day was focused on speakers, which were statistically and number driven. Started with Dawn Poulos from Mattermark. I follow the founder Danielle Morrill online, so it was nice to hear a bit of their story. Dina Moskowitz from SaaSMAX had a panel next to discuss the missed opportunity and value of building a reseller program to grow your software business. SaaSMAX is a growth engine for SaaS companies and their resellers, so it was an interesting discussion to identify a viable growth channel.

Last speaker before lunch was Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint and I also follow him online, since we have similar backgrounds as mechanical engineers and entrepreneurs. I was the first person to welcome him when he walked in, so I got the opportunity to chat with him. Always great to talk with a former founder and current investor in your space.

Rarely do you attend a conference and you look forward to the food. However, the Google campus will spoil you and yet another reason employees are hooked. Being gluten free, I’ve been spoiled with the health conscious options in San Diego, so I want to take a moment to thank Christina Hug from The Makers Nation. She also manages the Summit and it was thoughtful of her to request from the Google Chefs gluten free options for meals.

Both days in the afternoon were structured as separate group conversations to have interactive sessions around a specific topic. It was called “Birds of a Feather” and it was a new format being tested by the Summit. Personally, I liked the idea and I hope it continues to develop. I also greatly appreciate when organizers listen to their customer’s feedback from previous events and adapt to continually improve the value.

Later I attended a growth session with Vasil Azarov from StartupSocials since we had talked many times before based on our passion for helping startup founders to grow their business. He was interviewing Zach Onisko from Hired and my friend Neal Bloom is launching the San Diego business for Hired.

The last session was from Bob Ogdon from Swiftpage and Sam Laber from Datanyze. I was entertained listening to Bob since I remember the history of Act! And using the shrink wrap software years ago. It’s rare for a company to continue to innovate, especially with the transition to the cloud. I had already chatted with Sam and their goals at Datanyze, so it was nice to check out his presentation about marketing technology and analytics supporting their growth success.

The Summit ended in a happy hour outside with plenty of drinks. In fact I was literally the only person left and it was entertaining to observe random people walk by. They would walk back, check out the table, and then load up their arms with bottles of wine and beer. The employment incentives from Google will hinder innovation for the rest of us.

In Summary

From the facility to the amenities, the attendees, and food, the organizers did an absolutely amazing job! What I enjoyed most, was it wasn’t a typical mass appeal event, but much more targeted. I felt that I was able to harness the full value of connecting with others at a conference by making genuine business relationships that will ultimately focus in on helping each other grow. I felt more like a group of friends in the same industry getting together and welcoming the opportunity to figure out whether we could collaborate. I was surprised to learn the conference is 7 years old and I can’t wait to be part of it again next year. Or possibly attend the east coast version when visiting my hometown!

Using Identity and Attribute Data For More Effective Marketing Initiatives

Broadcast marketing is dead. Sending the same message to everyone of your customers is less effective every year.

A more effective approach is to build campaigns to a select a group of your customers. You can do that with accurate identity and attribute data about your clients:

  • Identity data is the primary data about your customers — for example: name, address, phone and email address.
  • Attribute data is more detailed data like their age, income, gender and education.

With better information, you can identify what will appeal to specific customers and create more relevant promotional messages to meet their needs. Let’s take a closer look at identity data and attribute data.

Identity Data Points

Identity data refers to data points you can use to identify one customer from another. Every media channel in some way uses identity data. Smart phones have specific device IDs. Internet browsers utilize cookies to ID users. Retailers and online platforms routinely use e-mail addresses as identity data.

Once you have identity data about different clients, you can customize your promotional messages for very specific audiences, rather than using a broad message which may only appeal to a finite segment of your client base.

All Phases of the Marketing Funnel

Identity data is prominent in many phases of advertising, marketing and digital analytics. Brands use it throughout their marketing funnel. Online publishers and media routinely check their site metrics and visitors using identity data.

There are many forms of identity data. Low-level data like cookie IDs identify web browsers, but don’t provide a lot of information about your clients. E-mail addresses, in contrast, span several media channels, tend not to change much, and are usually specific to an individual person. That’s why progressive marketers want to collect and utilize stable data points.

Attribute Data Adds Depth

In a previous article we discussed the Differences In Data sourced for marketing initiatives. There are also different types of attributes accessible for marketing purposes, such as demographic, geographic, interest, and behavioral.

Gender, age and income are all examples of attribute data. This is demographic information that provides more complex and actionable information about your customer. It can include things like whether they are a premium or regular customer.

Attribute data is used in creating, developing and implementing marketing and promotional efforts. Examples of this include:

  • Encouraging members that have passed the two-year membership to sign up for the premium membership level.
  • Targeting specific product deals to customers that have bought similar products in the past.
  • Segmenting product promotions by market depending on weather conditions.

Eliminate Noise and Inefficiency

Each of these data points provide leverage that has not been available in the past. Now marketers can reach customers with more effective messaging that provides more value to them. It not only features products and services they want, it eliminates the noise of anointing broadcast marketing which hits many people outside the target market.

Cross Channel Optimization

This is becomes more complex as customers interact with your business across a variety of channels. Let’s say one of your customers opens an email, later searches for your product online, asks for opinions from friends on Facebook, or they watch a YouTube video about it. A profile of this customer spans across multiple channels to provide unified information which is powerful for marketers. There are a variety of technology solutions to support the complexity of identifying, tracking, and matching users across multiple channels.

You can segment your audience to target users more effectively. The data is anonymous so privacy is respected. But you can get a view across multiple channels which changes marketing. You want to be able to build campaigns that reaches clients across channels, understands their behavior and segments their message.

Data Collection Mechanisms

The question then becomes do you have the right mechanisms to collect this data. And do you know how you’re going to utilize it after you’ve gathered it?

The secret is to get the clearest picture of your target customer as soon as you can. The challenge is that the data is constantly changing. People move, get new email addresses, and change their phone number.

Using the proper data is critical to ensure the effectiveness of every direct mail piece, email message or retargeting campaign you initiate. The only way these efforts work is if you have accurate data that you keep up to date.

Transparency and Trust

You can gather more information, and more accurate information if you communicate to your clients and prospects how their data will be used. A recent Gigya study showed that a large majority of respondents will click out of online registrations because they feel concerns about how their information will be used.

It’s important to address these concerns because accurate information is key to effective messaging. That’s why some online platforms like Facebook have introduced line by line permissions in their sign-up process. This is the practice of asking several questions after login that allow customers to decide how their information will be used.

Building and developing a relationship with your customer is crucial for long term success, so transparency and trust are core values to your marketing initiatives. It is mutually beneficial to the customer and marketer, so both gain value in the relationship.

More Effective Messaging

It’s important to collect accurate identity and attribute data not only because you want to reach the consumers who are open to your message, but you want to improve the quality of the message itself. You are the bridge between your customer’s data and the message that will most resonate with them.

Your goal is to look for stories in the data that you can pull out and frame so that it motivates your clients to take action. The trick is to make it personable and memorable for the market segment you are targeting.

Win Clients Over with Storytelling

For example, Buffer, a social media sharing company, shares the story of a customer support app called Groove. Groove was able to generate a 300 percent increase in the people that read a particular post using the power of storytelling. They explain how using dialogue, metaphors, emotions, familiarity, and powerful graphics combined to drive a huge response.

Art and Science of Data Collection

Identity and attribute data are the science. Your creative and storytelling abilities are the art. Effective marketers are adept at both. Gather accurate data, look at it to see patterns, and build stories that will create the most impact from your target market.

About Diggen, Inc.

Diggen is a data marketplace to help marketers become and manage data driven enterprises. Data driven marketing initiatives accelerate growth, since it improves key performance indicator (KPI) metrics and increases revenue over 19%. However, marketers have monumental technical challenges accessing data assets, sourcing data providers, and integrating into their marketing technology stack.

Our platform uniquely combines a data marketplace to source all marketing data with middleware to integrate into all marketing technology stacks. For example use our intuitive web interface to append gender, age, location to email addresses and integrate into an email service provider. Therefore, marketers segment their audience for newsletter emails, which creates relevancy, more engagement, and increases conversions.


Differences in Data

Have you ever been pre-judged by someone before they had a chance to really get to know you? When I look at where data-sets are today, that’s kind of how I feel. We are taking our best guest at personifying individuals based on a series of various data sets that semi-fit together. In our last blog we talked about the importance of content personalization. If we are going to get there, data interpretation is just as important as the data collected about a person.

Different Types of Data

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

The biggest distinction in reading quantitative vs. qualitative data, is whether something can be easily categorized or not. Quantitative data is data that can be categorized numerically. Your shoe size, your height, your income, your zipcode etc. etc. In other words, it’s the demographic information that can be easily collected.. Qualitative data, however, cannot be categorized numerically. In the words of Isaac Newton, “every action causes a reaction”. This reaction, or emotional response can be classified as qualitative data.  

Target, for example, takes to the twitter-world to see the emotional reactions to new product launches. They collect this qualitative data about the individual responses to better understand their customers and move one step closer towards content personalization.

These two data sets go hand-in-hand because you can infer many correlations such as, location eludes towards cultural responses, affluence levels indicate certain buyer behavior, and so on.

First Party Data

Finders keepers! Anything you collect about your customer, is yours to keep. This means your brand gets the first glimpse into your customer’s interaction with your brand. First Party Data is one of the most valuable data sets because you can deploy any data aggregation strategy to understand the exact relationship between you and your customer during the buying journey.

For example, if you want insight into how your customers interact with your website, deploying a heat-mapping strategy to collect data on what images individuals click on might be the best route for gathering this first-hand intel.

Second Party Data

Second party data is like the ultimate tease. A customer may be in a data relationship with someone else, but you’re still benefitting from that relationship. For example, a customer releases the rights for Google AdWords to track their search history but you’re still benefitting from that same relationship with AdWords. It’s common for brands to strategically partner in a data sharing strategy to obtain information that otherwise might be too costly to collect on their own. This is why second party data becomes valuable, and knowing what data you’d need to further complete the personalization puzzle will help define the strategic partnerships you can create.

Third Party Data

This data is the most widely adopted data collection strategy. Marketers depend on data collectors to aggregate intel on customers that they can use to develop a variation of marketing strategies. Unfortunately for third-party data, it’s becoming less common in strategy development as marketers want more first-hand insight aka. first party data.

Knowing what type of data you are collection, can help you figure out what pieces of data are missing that will help you complete the puzzle towards content personalization.