The modern high-tech marketer now has more data than ever before, and is using it less.
“Marketers now have email systems, social tools, a media agency with TV, radio, and print insights, web tools, A/B testing, and search analysis,” Beckon CEO Jenny Zeszut told me. “But where finance has its own set of data tools and sales has CRM, marketers don’t have a single system that ties it all together.”
That’s why, she says, the average CMO is actually using data less now than two years ago — making data-driven decisions only about 29 percent of the time, compared to 37 percent in 2012.
“Each of these systems is shooting out individual reports,” she said. “But how do marketers know what is working best across all those things?”
Above: A Beckon dashboard integrating multiple reports
Image Credit: Beckon
Her answer, of course, is Beckon.
Beckon, which started in private beta over a year ago and announced a $10 million funding round today, takes reports from all those systems and automagically analyzes, arranges, and presents the data in one single report. It acts much as Tripit, which you forward your flight arrangements to to get a comprehensive record of your travel. In Beckon’s case, simply cc Beckon on all your regular reports, and the software munches through your PDFs, PPTs, DOCs, XLSes, and other report formats to find, understand, and correlate all your data.
Sound like magic? Zezsut thinks so.
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“We process huge amounts of rich data in real-time for marketers,” she told me. “It appears incredibly magical to our partners and marketers … the technology is doing all kinds of things that people typically do.”
The typical scenario, Beckon says, is that companies employ IT, analysts, data scientists, or interns to sort through all the data sources and build up some comprehensive version of their data. But it’s hard and time-consuming, and it’s not always clear how your SEO results are linked to what your e-commerce engine is reporting, or how your email marketing campaign affected sales and your social media campaign affected visits. All the data is there, theoretically, and accessible, with effort … but the effort seems to be too great to allow for effective, real-time decision-making.
Zeszut calls what Beckon does “mapping the marketing genome,” and she says it reveals a marketer’s ROI and cost-effectiveness for every channel — and exports to PowerPoint for simple, beautiful presentations.
While in virtual stealth mode — the company didn’t have a website until a few months ago — customers like Nike have been using early versions of the software-as-a-service for a year now. And the new $10 million in funding, from August Capital and Canaan Partners, will help Beckon scale out its sales and marketing team now that the technology has been proven, Zeszut said.
The next step for the technology is going from just reporting to helping.
“There’s so much more the technology can do to take work off of the shoulders of marketers,” she told me. “We’re starting to proactively give diagnostics … provide predictive analytics, and show you likely results.”
It’s not exactly a big data problem, which Zeszut solved in her previous startup, social media analytics tool maker Scout Labs. While it feels like big data to overwhelmed marketers, it’s actually complex data in conflicting formats that causes problems: totally different data units from each of your marketing tools.
Current solutions for marketers range from Excel to business intelligence products such as Business Objects or Tableau. Zeszut’s not impressed, calling them “generic data warehousing tools” that aren’t specifically oriented for marketers and don’t understand the unstructured data formats that marketers typically receive their reports in.
“Tableau draws pretty pictures of doughnuts, and it’s useful for IT or analysts, but there’s really no marketing system, or expert system for marketers out there.”
Beckon’s goal is to solve that.
“Beckon has a list of everything you have running. It’s one system of record for Facebook to Pinterest to TV to Radio, online, offline …” she says.
It’s a big vision. Zeszut sees Beckon being for marketers what Salesforce is for sales, or SAP is for finance and ERP, or what Oracle is to data and operations. Time will tell if Beckon is successful. But at least now the company has $10 million — a very significant series A — to attempt to prove Zeszut’s point.
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