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Three Questions With Alex Palmer

Alex Palmer, Senior Client Strategy Manager

Alex Palmer is the Strategy & Analytics Team’s Senior Client Strategy Manager. As a founding member of the team, he has led the creation of some of Gupta Media’s most influential data products such as the live Facebook CPM Tracker and iOS Version Adoption Tracker. His work turns raw data into actionable insights used to optimize the entire agency’s work product. We sat down with him to learn a bit about how his team is expanding, and to zero in on some tactics that marketers can use to succeed as we press further into the year.

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As the Strategy & Analytics team continues to grow, what kind of hard and soft skills are you looking for? What does the data-driven marketer of the future need to know?

Alex: Hard skills are easier to seek out and evaluate aptitude. Having a good grasp of SQL is a must. As a team, we live in Google Sheets and Excel daily, so knowledge of complex formulas, nested IF statements, and pivot tables is crucial. Python and predictive modeling skills (numpy, pandas, scikit-learn) are nice-to-haves. People with experience using ETL tools and procedures are ideal candidates to jump in Day 1 and contribute. If you have these skills, please reach out and apply! We would be excited to have you on our growing team.

The soft skills are just as important, but are more difficult to evaluate in a short interview. The things I look for are a skeptic’s curiosity about data, a storyteller’s mindset for communicating your analysis, and a problem solver’s attitude to challenges. We want teammates who have a skeptical eye when data looks too good or bad to be true and be curious enough to find out if it is. In our interview process, we ask candidates to present a project to gauge if they can tell a story with data. And lastly, we want to see persistence to solve a problem because working with data invariably means working with messy data.

The future for a data-driven digital marketer may start to more closely resemble a data-driven “traditional” marketer’s work. Meaning advanced digital marketers will have to become comfortable with less clarity and direct attribution in a cookieless, tracking-restricted future and need to know Market Mix Modeling, incrementality testing, and causal inference methods. To counteract losing third-party data, marketers will need to know how to collect first-party and zero-party data and use it to personalize their marketing campaigns and automations.

What are the KPIs that you look at when assessing if an ecommerce business is healthy and scalable? What is a common red flag that you have seen, and what is a solution to it? 

Alex: Ecommerce is a big umbrella term with varied business models and KPIs. A mattress company will have different key metrics than a bedding and linens company. I see plenty of ecommerce gurus giving out blanket statements about KPIs—Customer Lifetime Value to Custom Acquisition Cost ratio must be 3:1 or greater, or Churn to Returning Customer rate has to be X—without knowing the underlying industry-specific business models or unit economics. Scalability and health indicators have to be tailored to the sector. Plus, a lot of the KPIs people tell you to focus on can be manipulated to a desired number with wishful projections or not fully counting costs.

A growing ecomm business cannot outrun a low conversion rate for long and is the most common red flag.

Conversion rate—of your potential customers (first-time or returning), what percentage bought something—is the one KPI that I like to focus on for two reasons. First, it can’t be easily manipulated with math alchemy. It is what it is. Second, as a marketer, there are 100+ ways to improve it with lasting impact.

The broadest solution to a low conversion rate that marketers have control over is to anticipate and address customer objections. From the ad copy and creative to the landing page design and checkout UX, marketers should ask themselves what objections will potential customers have at this step and how can I overcome them. Is it a lack of trust in your product or brand? Then offer more social proof with reviews and testimonials.

With music festival season in full swing, how are you using data to help sell more tickets for our clients? 

Alex: With festival tickets almost universally sold on third-party ticketing platforms, data is scarcer for music festival marketers than a traditional ecommerce business. Coupled with the massive data loss from Apple’s ATT framework change, 2022 is the most challenging festival season when it comes to extracting insights from marketing data.

The place I’ve found valuable insights is in the geographic data of ticket buyers, specifically down to the local ZIP code level. When you know where your customers live down to that level of detail, it can unlock insights on other marketing channels to pursue to reach them and where and how to deploy your budget more strategically.

For example, if a city-based music festival knows the majority of their audience is coming from the suburbs or exurbs, then your marketing can speak to them differently than city dwellers.

To help our music festival clients, I’ve built dashboards that aggregate and map their ticket buyers to their locations and received positive feedback on how helpful that data is to their business decisions.

If you own or market a music festival, let’s talk about how we can provide these kind of insights for you.

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