First lessons learned building (and selling) a brand analytics tool
Insights into the B2B space & lessons on product, sales, and client relationships.
In this article, we will discuss how my team and I at Latana have developed a brand analytics tool used by brand managers to understand how their brand performs.
There are 3 parts in this piece:
- Part 1: a problem brand managers face and the solution to it.
- Part 2: a lesson from a failed product and a lesson from B2B sales.
- Part 3: insights from speaking with brand managers.
For those who prefer a video format, click on this YouTube link.
Disclaimer: there will be more drawings than content.
Part 1: the problem and the solution
Brand managers struggle to quantitatively assess their work — and struggle reporting to their team
Brand managers manage the image and buzz of a company. By working on creatives, advertising, and coordinating with the public relations (PR) team, they create a “vibe” consumers and other stakeholders associate the brand with (the feeling you get from thinking of Apple is different to that of Gillette).
However, they struggle at capturing progress quantitatively. They rely on market research companies, that have lacked innovation over the past decades, therefore receiving inaccurate insights, hopelessly thinking “better to have a figure than no figure at all!”. 🐻
Brand managers need to keep track of plenty of metrics — in different markets, against different competitors
Brand managers want to know how the brand performs by measuring metrics such as unaided awareness (top of the mind awareness), aided awareness, consideration, and associations (high quality, trustworthy, etc.), amongst others.
They also want to know if their brand marketing has been effective at targeting specific audiences. If they have been selling their product or service in multiple countries, they would like to track the progress in each market. 🌏
On top of that, they like to have an idea on how competitors are performing, and get a better understanding of who is most and least likely to use their service.
With most brand tracking tools, doing all of this is either very costly, inaccurate, slow, or all of those at the same time. If not impossible.
But now there is a solution! (pitch time 🤡).
By leveraging a data science model and by combining software engineer with market research, Latana was launched to capture all those insights, bringing new capabilities in the market.
Brand marketing is underserved in analytics — yet, is a hot topic
If you look at online marketing, there are plenty of subcomponents. Let’s look at a few:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the activity of ranking higher in search engines to gain visibility.
- E-mail marketing: the activity of promoting your service or product via e-mail.
- Content marketing: the activity of creating content to attract visitors to your website, to eventually establish trust, rank higher in search engines, and leading to an increase in number of clients.
- Social media marketing: the activity of targeting specific audiences with a service or product on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, or Instagram (among others).
The advantage of the above channels is that you are able to track your ongoing activity and progress over time — with numbers.
With SEO, you have a multitude of tools you could use to understand how you’re doing, such as Ahrefs, Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
With e-mail marketing you can use MailChimp or another provider, to measure your open rate percentage.
You get the drill.
But for brand marketing, there is a big gap with analytics. And that’s where Latana comes into play.
With this tool, you can understand how your brand performs in different markets, against multiple competitors, and how niche audiences perceive your brand. By tracking key metrics, you are also able to assess if your marketing campaigns have been effective.
We won’t get deep into understanding the product or the behind-the-scenes but will focus on the lessons learned building and selling Latana, as well as the insights gained (don’t worry, there’ll be a whole article for this 👊).
Part 2: a lesson in product and a lesson in B2B sales
Being part of a team building a brand analytics product in the B2B space taught me a lot.
What I have learned may sound basic for some of you, but has nevertheless been very valuable for my experience.
Lesson #1: don’t give up just because your first product failed
If you are in a market where you are certain there is a need for a solution, you have created a basic product, and managed to sell it to a few clients, yet failed to sustain it over time, that does not mean you have to give up altogether.
By listening to current and potential clients, understanding what is wrong with your current product and its capabilities, you could iterate on the first version, tune it, and eventually create a better and more solid version.
Before you invest heavily into your latest product version, user-test it with a handful of great-fit clients, and then tweak it even more to serve their needs.
In this very specific example, we were operating a simple brand tracking tool that did not bring much value to brand managers.
With time, the second tool is getting more traction and is slowly shifting itself towards product-market fit.
Lesson #2: do not get 10 solid leads, get 100 solid leads (or more)
This one is very simple. If you are in B2B sales and have managed to get a handful leads (people interested in your product), that you think of as “hot”, a.k.a. ready to close, do not rely on those only.
Sales cycles can be long. You have sometimes little to zero control over the client’s decision making — budgets can get cut, your “champion” can eventually leave the company, needs suddenly change — throwing your efforts over the past months down the drain. 🚽
Instead of hoping that one of your few SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads — a.k.a. the people who are close to buying your product) will convert into a potential client, keep amassing new leads and in parallel with ongoing relationships, nurture new ones.
If you find yourself stuck generating new leads and tracking the progress, hire someone in sales operations to ease your work. It can be very tedious to keep track of all the activity.
Part 3: insights extracted from conversations with brand managers
Brand managers and the confusion on proving their worth
Imagine this: all the marketing managers are meeting with the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), and have to report their progress.
The SEO manager says that they managed to get past page 5 on Google, the content marketer says that the bounce rate dropped from 80% to 73%, and the affiliate marketing manager boasts a 6% increase in revenue.
What does the brand marketer say — a new persona is created and the tone of voice will change? Not enough to keep the job.
From my dozens of conversations with brand managers, I felt their struggle to get a grasp on numbers, and understand if their efforts were meaningful.
The modern brand manager is analytical, and fishes for numbers, given how those speak for themselves.
Brand marketing does not have to come after performance marketing
When you launch a startup in the B2C sector, the brand will certainly not be at the top of your priorities. But as you grow your client base, and get a bigger market share, it would be to your advantage to think of the brand strategy.
What I have learned from various calls with scaleups, is that they incur potential losses when their performance marketing (for instance, FB Marketing and Google Ads) are as good as their competitors’, to the point of being undifferentiated from the consumer’s point of view.
Example? Yup. 👀
Let’s imagine you want to buy a mattress online and type “buy mattress online” on Google:
You see a few ads on the left and sponsored images on the right. If you are familiar with one of the brands, you will be more likely to click on that one.
By quickly scanning the page, I recognise “Casper”.
I click on it and explore more of their offerings. I am unsure of the other brands, therefore they lose me as a potential customer.
Brand managers know that such losses are incurred, yet find it hard to prove with numbers.
As I keep speaking with brand marketers, I will synthesize my learnings and share those with you.
Do you know a brand marketing event that needs speakers? Send it my way and let’s see if my application would fit. 🙌
Stay tuned for the next article on the 1st of August. 🦏