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Ask better questions: The art of data analytics with Topgolf Callaway Brands’ Earth Reiser

February 5, 2024 / 16:52 / E50

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Earth Reiser, the Director of Strategy and Innovation at Topgolf Callaway Brands, offers advice for navigating the murky waters of customer data and analytics, and how brands need to be mindful of customers' desire for privacy. She discusses the implications of the increasing call for privacy across various platforms, and why it's important to gather and use data ethically for decision making. Earth also offers advice on marketing analytics, and the art of asking the right questions when using data, without collecting data for its own sake.

Jasmin: We all know the tug-of-war of data and analytics in brand marketing. Brands want data and customers want privacy. Marketers want answers, but they're lost in a sea of metrics. But our guest today has cracked the code. Earth Riser is the Director of Strategy and Innovation at Topgolf Callaway Brands. She's seen it all when it comes to e-commerce marketing data and analytics.
And this episode will help you get to those aha moments where marketing meets customers in the best way possible. You're listening to People Changing Enterprises. I'm your host, Jasmin [00:01:00] Guthmann. And please enjoy this episode with Earth Riser.
What are some of the most important changes that you've seen in the way brands are working with customer data or the way customers are expecting you to do that these days?
Earth: With privacy taking such a front seat, even across our phones and across our browsers, it continues to be something we continuously talk about with our marketers. And, I love data. It takes, it makes decision-making just so easy sometimes. And that's why I love it. So it's such an important part of our lives, and we are so used to being able to take almost any data that we want and do whatever we want with it and track customers everywhere they go.
And I think, as we evolve into this world of privacy, I love it as [00:02:00] a human, as a customer, I love that I have the option to provide or deny what data that I want to give to you. On a website when you ask me about functional cookies. Yeah, you could. Absolutely. You can for the performance of your website. I love it.
Track me. See where I click all day long. Don't retarget me. I don't want your ads. I'm already here. I know that I'm here cause I like you. And I often have a conflicting conversation with myself as a marketer. Cause I have played a marketer in a past life where I have to tell myself when I am working with marketers or acting as a marketer or even building technology for marketers.
How are we going to track them? How are we going to retarget them without their cookies if they haven't given us anything? And my answer is always, well, be a better marketer. I know it's [00:03:00] so controversial as a marketer, it hurts. Like I feel that when I say that to myself, but I kind of think we have to say that right now.
And as a product owner of a website, to me, be a better marketer means, well, how do I serve up a better experience to the people on my website, so they might want to provide that information to me right. How do we have better content that people want to so that they want to hear from us? How do we have an experience that tells them? Hey, we're going to respect you as an individual so that you can share with us what you want, but we'll also honor where you want us to, kind of stay behind and draw that line. And that's okay. And then also how do we as a business, as a whole come to terms with, there are going to be people that don't want to shop with us.
And that's okay. They were just [00:04:00] price comparing us. They were just browsing. They were maybe just looking for inspiration because so much of even all this transformation of how we use data and look at data or how people use the internet, right? Just to be inspired by something. Can we just be okay with not knowing some things and not having to retarget everyone?
So to me, that really makes me think about, well, what are the interactions on my site that might point to somebody being more interested versus to somebody just being there to browse and coming to terms with that. Do we have to convert everyone? Well, no, we're not going to. And I think we should be okay with that.
Jasmin: That is so interesting that that is a two-way street, right? It's not just about you following them around and stalking your customer, it's about making them part of the process.

Earth: [00:05:00]Yeah absolutely. I think in my experience, what I've come to realize, whether, you know, I'm at a SaaS company working directly with vertical brands, or I am a vertical brand, or I'm a retailer, your best customers will always tell you what they're looking for and your best customers will share their data with you pretty freely because they want to make sure that you know that you are listening to them as well.
Jasmin: And they know that that will give them a better experience because you'll be able to tailor your offer to what they want or like or need or all of the above.
Earth: Yes and I think what's really funny is that oftentimes we forget that we're also customers of brands. We'll say, well, we need to do X, Y, and Z.
And I'm like, well, I hate when a brand does that. Why would we do that? So we should not do that. We should think about our customers. And they will meet you where you are and they are often so much more [00:06:00] forgiving than people get their customers credit for. I can't tell you how many times I've been someplace like a site goes down everywhere always.
And that is our worst day always. But for our customers, it's not their worst day. And sometimes we forget that I've been on, you know, And if the site was down, I remember a holiday when it happened. And I was like, Oh, oh, well, and I just came back later. Like it just wasn't a big deal. And so a lot of times I like to remind myself, mostly the first I am a customer and I am also patient and that I am in technology because I love change and because I love building something for people, and that's why we're here but customers will be there for you because you are there for them. They come to you for a reason.
Jasmin: And I also think it's so important to remember that good experiences [00:07:00] probably go a lot further than the credit we give them for in a work context, right? A great interaction stays with me so much longer than I think I would ever accredit to that kind of experience on the job side of things.
Earth: Yeah, absolutely. And a little kindness goes a long way and kindness shows up in all sorts of ways in technology. And I think little bits of kindness, even just by being transparent with your customers or offering them multitudes of ways to engage with you. That's just a little, that's a little act of kindness of letting somebody like, we want to hear from you. We know that you're there. And as a human. that's all we want, right? Just notice me.
Jasmin: And I love that putting the, putting the human back in the tech when we sort of went a bit too far in, you know, putting the technology atop of everything.
That's a beautiful thought right there. And maybe that's a downside of data-driven marketing being such another hot topic. Data is great and I love it like [00:08:00] you do, but data only or looking at the wrong data will lead you down the wrong path.
Earth: Yes. I couldn't agree more. And I have a million examples, where I was going down a path of what data told me and had I had not taken that next step or looking at additional data, I would have done the wrong thing.
I would have gotten rid of something that people were actually using or like a super simple example. If you've ever had to manage what a reporting platform, what people are using, what they're looking at. And if you just simply looked at, well, nobody ever clicks on this. But behind that click is actually the report that everyone is always asking for.
You would have just removed it, right? You would have just been like, Oh, I'll just take that away. No one's using it. It's not useful. But by simply understanding what your customer wanted versus what was showing that they were doing. You're then able to combine two different data points that [00:09:00] will guide you in the right direction instead of just following one data point that leads you to something that would have been useful at all.
And your customers are still in the same place. So really understanding the question that you're trying to solve for is always so important to data and one data point is never the answer.
Jasmin: You never, you cannot just look at a single data point because it may lead you astray. But in a sea of data points, and I mean, that's a, you know, a blessing and a curse that we have more data than ever available and that analytics can track more than we would have ever thought possible even five years, 10 years ago. What are your thoughts on analytics? Are we measuring too many things?
Earth: Yes, just a flat yes. Oftentimes, when anyone comes with me to, you know, Earth, I need this data. My very first question is, well, what problem are you [00:10:00] trying to solve? Because the data that you're asking for might not actually even be the most efficient way to solve that problem. What decision is this data going to help you make?
And I think we forget to ask ourselves that even when we start tagging our website for all the different interactions that a human can possibly make on our website. Why are we tracking this? Again, what decision are you going to make with this? And I think this also comes back and plays deeply into privacy because you shouldn't be collecting data from another person if you don't know what you think you're going to do with it.
Even if you have an idea of what you would do with this data is better than we're just going to track everything. A famous, my famous Earth line, I think anyone that's worked with me would roll their eyes. Just because we can doesn't mean we should.
Jasmin: So true. But it's such a common happening, right? Let's track everything. We don't know [00:11:00] why or what we're going to use it for, but data is better.
Earth: Yeah. And data is better as long as it's the right data. And as long as that data helps us make a decision. And as long as that data is guiding us to better serve our customers or improves the lives of the people that run our business every single day.
That is where it just makes my heart happy. It is when we ask for everything and do nothing that it is, that is a waste of everyone's very valuable, valuable time.
Jasmin: 100 percent agreed. What's your advice for businesses that want to do better, use better data analytics. How do brands ask the right questions?
Earth: I think you start with what problem are we trying to solve. If you don't know [00:12:00] what data they should give you, I would always and will continue to err on the side of transparency and options. Everybody loves options. A good parent gives their kid options, right? Do you want an apple or an orange? Here's two great options for you.
You don't have to give them the world. You don't have to say like here's candy bars and stickers. You can give them two healthy options that make you feel good too, right? But you should always be giving your customers options. The number one complaint I have heard every place I've ever been is that is you send too many emails. Right. Emails are so important to businesses, regardless of what business you're in. They are the first indicator that you are interested in what we have to offer to you. At that moment, you should absolutely spend time and energy allowing your [00:13:00] customers to tell you what they want to hear from you, right up front.
Do you want to hear about our deals and promotions? Do you want to hear about our everyday content that we're going to send you? Do you want to hear from us only once a week and you just want a recap? Even if you don't send a recap of what you have monthly, you're giving your customers the opportunity to tell you what they want so that maybe you can actually provide that to them in the future. Sometimes I think people don't do things because they feel like they're not ready or they can't actually offer it. But most of the time people are just going to tell you what they want. And then if you don't send it monthly, no one's going to get mad that you didn't send them an email.
Jasmin: Yeah. You know, I've never heard someone complain either. Hey, you didn't send me that the promotional email that you promised to send me. Or I've never heard anyone say, oh, you're not sending me enough emails.
Earth: Yeah, no, no, yeah, no, it's a [00:14:00] email such a great opportunity to learn about what your customers want to hear about without actually even needing to deliver it immediately, right?
It's a great way to help set strategies and I have set strategies that way by just asking up front, like I had one email that we sent. And from that, we built several streams of emails because customers told us what we wanted to hear about. They opted into it. And when they decide they don't want to be a part of our subscriptions anymore, make it easy. When unsubscribe all shouldn't unsubscribe from all it shouldn't mean unsubscribe from this type of mailing list.
Jasmin: And I think the brilliant point that you made about putting yourself in your customer's shoes and for a brief moment, just anticipating how would I feel if a brand did that to me? That will go such a long way.
Earth: Yeah. The other thing we talk about a lot is that nobody loves your ranch more than you. Uh, you have to remember that. [00:15:00] We, we all love the companies that we've worked for more than any person that purchases from us or becomes a client of ours. We, as the employees and as the customers of the brands that we've worked for are our absolute greatest advocates. It's why we care the most when something's broken on the site. It's why we care the most about the font, which no one else in the world cares about, but we sure do because it matters to us because we want to, we care about how we present ourselves in the world. When you think that or when you kind of just remember no one cares about your brand the way that you care about your brand.
It also helps provide a little bit of a baseline of, okay, maybe this is important to me, but it is possible that it is not important to the 80 percent of everyone else. And so it doesn't need to be a top priority.
Jasmin: We used to actually have a [00:16:00] painted a wall in one of the offices I worked at said, we're not heart surgeons.You're not performing heart surgery. So maybe a little more lightness could go a long way for all of us.
Thanks for listening to People Changing Enterprises. This show is brought to you by Contentstack, the leading composable digital experience platform for enterprises. Got a question or suggestion? Email us at podcast@contentstack. com. If you like the show, please leave us a rating or review on Apple podcasts.
We'll be back next week with a new episode, helping you make your mark.

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