September 16, 2016
Customer Portfolios CEO on Marketing's Evolution & Demystifying Data

Over the past decade and a half, marketing has evolved leaps and bounds. From techniques, to best practices, campaign measurement, and more, digital has flipped marketing on its head.

No one knows this better than Augie MacCurrach, founder and CEO of Boston-based marketing tech company Customer Portfolios. The B2C company, which has been around since 2001, uses a data-backed approach that helps clients identify, track, and convert customers by building better relationships.

Learn more about the company’s track record and MacCurrach’s predictions for the future of B2C marketing in the interview below.

Kaite Rosa: Customer Portfolios has been around since 2001. In that time, how have you seen the industry evolve?

Augie MacCurrach: Obviously, there has been a digital explosion in that period of time. I think ad tech has lead the way… In 2001, the core thing was to figure out how to centralize customer data. That’s still a requirement, but now we have our campaign data all over the place. It’s completely siloed by these digital apps.

It’s very difficult for a marketer to bring that all together to understand how they’re allocating their money and what’s really working. Because it’s gotten so disparate and complicated, attribution modeling is a whole software category… Right now, that’s one of our missions, to demystify source attribution.

Some things haven’t changed. On the operational side, whether it’s SAP or Oracle or whatever package, these systems have been around forever and they’re not very good systems outside of taking transactions. They’re difficult to work with and require large all kind of resources to maintain. IT is still bogged down. The same problems exist. If your data is trapped in those system, it’s not actionable.

KR: You have some impressive B2C clients: Converse, Subway, the NHL, and more. How are supporting them in building and driving their customer relationships?

AM: I think it starts with bringing their data together to create a 365-degree view of their customers, and then producing actionable analytics. You can have the best database in the world, but if you don’t take data out and do something with it, it’s not worth much.

We help our clients grow their business by growing the value of their customer base. We do that with targeted, measurable, closed loop marketing to get them [customers] to come back to purchase one more time. We take it one step at a time. We’re trying to migrate them across the customer lifecycle so they’re loyal, more likely to come back and repeat, versus not come back.

KR: What do you think the future holds for marketing and what role do customer relationships and customer advocacy play in that future?

AM: Our vision for the world of marketing is that, one, marketing becomes more focused on revenue creation within the business. Yes brand and cross marketing are important — but the revenues come from customers.

Second, this idea of developing profitable relationships with customers should be the prime focus of marketing and sales — regardless of the business you’re in. In the B2B world, marketing is a communication engine. Our websites and our stores and catalogues are our sales engines.

But they need to work together, because while brand and product and channels are important, all the money comes from customers… Right now, clients are more confused than ever. Mostly because with the digital explosion, they have more partners, more apps, and more widgets than ever before. None of it is integrated.

All of a sudden, all of their marketing is in solos all over the place. They don’t have one dashboard, they have four. It’s very complicated. Marketing is going to become more revenue, more customer-focused and the new agency models need to provide all of that on top of actionable intelligence.

KR: Can you tell me about your biggest lessons learned as an entrepreneur over the past 15 years?

AM: I’ve always been the tech person, the product person, and that’s always been my primary focus. I think the big lesson is that you really have to have a strong business development, sales, and marketing engine. Otherwise, nobody knows about the great products and services you provide. If I could go back 10 years, knowing what I know now, I would have put more emphasis on that.

The other thing I’ve learned is that people really are your most important asset. I think it [hiring and retention] has gotten trickier over the past 15 years. This younger generation is really talented and different. You have to work really hard to create a culture and environment and attract them, but at the same time have enough gray hair around to make it work.

Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa