UNSCRIPTED with Dan Loosemore, CEO of DCD - The Road to 100% Retention with Data Science & Marketing
In this episode of UNSCRIPTED, Adam Malik and Dan Loosemore, CEO at DatacenterDynamics (DCD), a marketing services company, take us through digital communication and B2B marketing. It's a glimpse into their professional world, enriched by shared experiences and insights.
"Dan, how many webinars were we doing? Like five a week or something silly like that, right?" Adam recalls, painting a vivid image of their intense schedule. "Hundreds and thousands," Dan responds playfully, emphasizing the scale of their efforts.
They discuss the pivotal role of tools like ThoughtSpot in aggregating diverse data in real-time, an essential aspect of strategic decision-making at DCD. Dan’s insights offer a window into the real-world application of data science, for instance, in marketing.
But for him, “First of all, think about the outcome you’re actually optimising for. And then [think about] what’s the best digital vehicle for that outcome?”
Their shared history reveals a dynamic story of adapting and evolving in a digital landscape marked by the pandemic. It's about innovation, resilience, and the power of partnership in navigating the increasingly personalised digital arena, particularly in B2B marketing.
Listen to the full UNSCRIPTED Podcast
DCD and the Paradigm Shift in Marketing
Navigating the complex terrain of digital marketing requires more than just savvy sales tactics; it demands trust, understanding, and validation. Adam pointedly asks, "Because you have to educate your buyer, you also have to validate what you're saying is true and work with sophisticated stuff like ThoughtSpot to bring the evidence together. So, can you just paint a picture of what you had to go through to get there?"
Dan's candid response speaks to the challenges faced: "It's still tough because you're right, there's an element of education there, and there's an element of investment needed." He adds, "I'm very lucky at the moment that I've got new investors who are buying into this vision. And enabling a structure that's needed. So, I think the first thing is the structure of your own internal teams"
And what does this structure look like at DCD?
Think about the outcome, and then find the best vehicle to drive it. It's not about the technology or the tools. It's about the goals and how best to achieve them.
While he acknowledges the pivotal role of salespeople, Dan notes that it is best that they focus on their core competency: to sell. So he emphasizes the need for specialized teams, “you need a structure to enable that longer-term partnership. So we’ve leaned heavily on client success teams.”
He details how these teams work: "We're going to put client success teams to actually manage these campaigns and look at everything you spoke about: What's the ABM layer that needs to be applied here? What's the behavioural scoring that we need to talk to your sales team around? How can we adopt API data transfer? So, it's tech-enabled, but it's about humans too."
In other words, it is data-driven marketing that enables transparency and achieving the actual outcome, “which in most cases is a pipeline on revenues,” Dan notes.
This also means a total shift in perspective with regard to data partners. They are not mere third-party entities anymore but integral team members. For Dan, "it goes from 'you're a third party giving us a hundred data points' to 'you're an extension of our sales and marketing team.' That paradigm shift is important," he adds.
The outcome of this transformation? While it took them almost five years to achieve this shift, it now serves as the key factor in their retention: “We've got over a hundred percent revenue retention here now."
'Showing the Working' with Data Insights to Unlock Value
As industries dive deeper into the realm of data science, the dynamics of client relationships are evolving. These shifts go beyond numbers, algorithms, or platforms; they beckon a genuine human touch.
Adam observes the paradigm shift many organizations are undergoing, "What it sounds to me is you're also having to completely re-educate your entire team about how they're engaging with the client to move away from this transactive to a data-driven relationship, right?"
Dan shares the challenges of this evolution, "there's still a huge amount of work to be done. But at least we've got a structure wherein our internal teams are focused on the same Commercially Valuable Outcome, which is kind of half the battle."
In a world flooded with information, true partnership calls for more than just data dumps. Adam notes, "It's about inverting the process and showing the working so that you can create a partnership… Let's educate them into knowing how it works so that they know that it's not going to be that big at this point in time, but you're working things together."
You need a structure to enable longer term partnerships. It's tech-enabled, but it's about humans too. It's a key factor in our retention, we've got over a hundred percent revenue retention here now.
Trust is built on transparency, and Dan agrees, "that level of transparency is expected in B2B because they're so used to it in the B2C settings.” He also points to the importance of making the numbers defensible “because it’s working towards a bigger outcome.”
He used a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this point: say only a few hundred people read the article on your site, but what if that few hundred have a combined budget of 2 billion? Then it is quite important. The exaggeration is obviously illustrative, but the point remains: “By layering that intelligence behind the sort of single number, you can justify that position. [But] by not giving them any transparency at all, it breeds suspicion.”
With trust and transparency, authentic relationships follow. For Dan, this sort of authenticity breeds the sort of partnership-type mentality that Adam describes earlier. “It's been absolutely key for us,” he points out.
Furthermore, Dan sheds light on the essentials for organizations to seamlessly integrate into this new framework. "I think you have to have high capex values and a certain amount of sophistication in your own tech stack to work with us in that way. But it's the future of B2B. That's the vision we're driving towards here."
Steering the Ship at DCD: Deploying Data Science for Personalised Marketing
At the helm of DCD, Dan understands the intricate connection between data and strategy. In a world where the digital landscape constantly shifts, his data-driven leadership ensures DCD remains agile and adaptive.
Reflecting on the evolving expectations of buyers, Dan notes, "We're in the age of personalisation. They want information that's pertinent to them. They expect that to be delivered multi-channel… If they want to come to a homepage, they want to see a homepage that's tailored to them."
Under his stewardship, DCD hasn't been just reacting to the changes in the digital world but anticipating and shaping them. "We're naturally in a multi-channel world, which is far more buyer-led. B2B buying has become multichannel in reflection of B2C trends. The B2B buyer journey is now buyer-led. It's not seller-led," he observes, emphasising the need for a new kind of online and face-to-face experience.
Transparency requires trust and that level of transparency is expected in B2B settings because they're so used to it in the B2C settings. So you have to make the numbers defensible because it's working towards that bigger outcome.
However, there’s still a gap. "When you look at the customer trend, you've got sales and marketing teams that are fundamentally still disjointed, largely running 2013 to 2018 playbooks," Dan says, pointing to the prevalent misalignment. The gravity of this is further stressed as he adds, "I think the average CMO lasts about 18 months in position in tech business. So that in itself should raise alarm bells, right?"
But DCD is not just observing these gaps, they’re bridging them. "At DCD, we're fixing for that misalignment using data, using more automated intelligence from the data sets that we have as a first-party provider," Dan asserts. Every few years brings a new shift in mindset, but the direction is clear. "What we're trying to fix for now at DCD is really, simply aligning that sales and marketing funnel through live events, through marketing services and through demand creation."
Dan's leadership is a beacon for how organizations can remain future-ready. Harnessing data, ensuring alignment, and understanding customer needs are the pillars DCD stands on. It’s not just about numbers or trends; it's about understanding the journey, embracing the shifts, and staying authentically connected to the evolving needs of their partners and clients.
Afraid of Big Bad Data? The Challenge of Data Literacy in Digitising Events
In the bustling landscape of the events industry, technology has become a reliable and, at times, convenient partner. However, as with any partnership, there needs to be understanding and harmony. Adam highlights a significant pain point: the issue of data literacy. He ponders, "How are you dealing with the data literacy challenge within the events industry?"
Dan acknowledges this disconnect and emphasizes the task at hand. "I think the more difficult part is educating because anyone can just go and hire a couple of data analysts or engineers. But evangelising the importance of data internally? That’s the real challenge." He stresses that data teams are not mere custodians of databases. They are not there to clean your Salesforce data, or ship leads to your sponsors, or clean the phone numbers and other records. "What we're here to do is create more valuable outcomes."
This vision extends beyond just cleaning databases or facilitating transactions. It's about empowerment. Dan notes, "We're better supporting the sales and marketing teams to win deals… working with your sales team and your customer success teams to explain the value of this to the client.”
Then, you also have to understand and enhance the customer journey. "What type of content should we be creating next? Who are the most engaged individuals with this piece? And what else can we provide them? It’s about that buyer journey and understanding those personas," says Dan.
When you look at the customer trend, you've got sales and marketing teams that are fundamentally still disjointed, largely running 2013 to 2018 playbooks.
Yet, the challenge is multifaceted. It’s not just about the data, but the interpretation and application. For Dan, “humanising” your buyer personas, while not entirely wrong in itself, ends up being a tedious form-filling exercise with a lot of unusable data.
Instead, his challenge is to ask these sorts of questions: "What are the buyer signals? What's the behavioural data that infers a level of activity or intent within that buying group? And how are you refining that?"
Insights, Reflections, and Paths Forward
The recent pandemic served as a catalyst for innovation. However, innovation without insight can lead to misguided initiatives. It’s a sentiment that has been emphasised throughout our exploration.
For instance, Dan observes, "Many tried to digitise exhibition areas with virtual stands. But why try to digitise something that's already imperfect in the physical world?"
Navigating the digital terrain requires more than adopting the latest tools or trends. It’s about purpose, intention, and a clear vision of the desired outcome. For Dan,, “the other important is… how do you get as close to a standardised product as possible? Because bespoke work will kill your margins. It’s got to be standardised.” But he notes that this does not mean you cannot be creative with your content and its manner of delivery. Still, “you have to standardise the process, the data sets, the products for scalability.”
He noted how so much of the digital work, especially in virtual events, remains bespoke, “which is really an anathema to doing it sustainably.”
I think the more difficult part is educating because anyone can just go and hire a couple of data analysts or engineers. But evangelising the importance of data internally? That’s the real challenge.
The essence is the balancing act between creativity and standardisation and the need to productise and systematise without sacrificing the core message or authenticity. Adam adds: “Productise. You and I did that, right? Productise the framework, productise the systems, standardise your language, standardise your systems.”
The journey through the evolving digital landscape isn’t just about data, technology, or trends but the insights and decisions of the people steering the ship. As we chart the course ahead, our compass should point not just to what’s new but to what’s meaningful, impactful, and sustainable.
Dan’s advice, echoing Adam’s views, is clear-cut: "Think about the outcome, and then find the best vehicle to drive it. It's not about the technology or the tools. It's about the goals and how best to achieve them."