We first met Omnisend CEO Rytis Lauris at the 2018 eCommerce conference and exhibition in Kyiv. He gave a fabulous talk titled “Omnichannel – the real holy grail of marketing automation.”

photo of Rytis Lauris

Rytis created a powerful omnichannel marketing automation platform for small and medium-sized e-commerce merchants. He and his marketing team are good at simplifying the complex processes of customer communication with the help of email marketing tools.

Maryna Sharapa, an OWOX BI Growth Hacker, had a nice talk with Rytis via Skype, during which he shared his thoughts on creating marketing teams, the B2B segment, artificial intelligence, and more. We’ve transcribed this interview for the OWOX BI blog so you can read Rytis’s unique insights.

The success, goals, and growth of a data-driven company

Maryna Sharapa: Omnisend has developed a lot over the past few years. Now you have a big team, including a marketing department. What led to your company’s growth?

Rytis Lauris: First of all, we have a great product. Second, we listen to our customers. Third, we had a fundamental shift happening in e-commerce in general. More and more businesses went to online platforms. It is a fundamental change, and this development in the market helped us grow as well. I’m not sure if it is our smartness in choosing this market or a combination of smartness with luck, but we are developing in the fastest-growing market.

MS: To what degree is your company data-driven?

RL: I would say we are a data-assisted company. We track and analyze a lot of metrics. We are not blinded by numbers in decision-making. I just heard an interview with Marissa Mayer, the ex-Yahoo CEO, who noted that we need a lot of data to make decisions but the final decisions we make ourselves. I agree with that. We practice something similar. We are based on human decisions, not only pure data. We don’t like 100% data-based decisions. Data might be dangerous. You need to properly use it because you can be biased. But sometimes, the data plays a crucial role.

MS: What’s your marketing goal for this year?

RL: We have two main goals. The first is to drive more marketing qualified leads [MQLs] to our sales funnel. The second is to increase our brand awareness – that is, our brand recognition itself.

photo of Rytis Lauris

MS: How do you find growth areas and identify your risks?
RL: We find them by experimenting. We are doing a lot of experiments and copying what our successful rivals are doing as well. In the B2B area and e-commerce, we don’t hesitate to follow great big companies and copy what they’re doing. If we see something they’re doing has a great impact, why shouldn’t we be doing the same?
We try to keep the right perception of our brand based on the good quality of our product. Black and gray tactics are not appropriate for us. Playing according to the market rules, we save our brand.

MS: How do you deal with burnout at work?

RL: Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I managed to do it. I am a lucky man and I like what I’m doing. So I don’t have a problem with a burnout at work.

Artificial intelligence vs human intelligence

MS: Do you believe that programmatic solutions and artificial intelligence will replace marketers?

RL: That is a very good question. Personally, I don’t believe it can replace marketers. I have no doubts. Different programs, programmatic solutions, and AI will assist marketers and marketing teams. However, the main decisions will be taken by HI [Human Intelligence], and HI will remain the most important asset.

I remember I saw a presentation concerning this issue. Some guy was sharing the concept that AI should replace humans and their donkey jobs. I agree that manual jobs are really wasting time and not effective. I think the purpose of AI for at least the next ten years will be to help humans perform more sophisticated work. So I don’t believe in a full replacement at all. It is not possible in our generation. Maybe in the next generation, our kids will see that.

Creating a marketing team and its role

MS: Who was included in your marketing team from the very beginning? Did you have analysts or marketers? 

RL: No, we didn’t. For quite a long time, we were product driven organisation. However, now we have two main components: a great product and a good marketing strategy. We have a narrow strategy – being in the app stores, on Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce and other e-commerce platforms. They generate enough traffic, great reviews, and evaluations for us. We started doing marketing actively only one year ago.

MS: When did you understand that you needed a marketing department? 

RL: At some point, we started to feel there were limits because you couldn’t influence and scale. You couldn’t expand the top of the funnel in the app store. We understood that we needed to find new channels.

MS: To what extent has the analyst’s role changed in response to your company’s growth?

RL: Initially, we had data overload. We needed to find the focus and the outcome of everything. This is really challenging for businesses. At least, it was a challenge for us. We started with tracking data and then analyzing it. However, it was important to understand what kind of data was key for us. Now, we’ve managed to simplify it. We don’t dig deep into all the numbers. We have top-level parameters that we track. If we see that our growth has challenges, we know how to change the situation and improve it. Then we can dig deep and check one or two more specific components.

MS: How much time does it take to understand all the processes and their changes?

RL: It depends. Sometimes, it’s easy. Sometimes, it’s challenging. It depends on the case. It took us probably a year and a half to understand all the processes, but we can’t be totally satisfied. We always strive for progress. It’s better to constantly improve everything a little bit than to try to build all the best solutions. It’s better to do everything step by step. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how you feel about something; you should constantly make improvements. Once you’re 100% satisfied with anything, you stop improving and going forward. It’s dangerous. ​

Attribution and other difficulties for B2B SaaS companies

MS: What problems do you face when analyzing your marketing?

RL: Usually, it’s attribution. This is the biggest challenge for us. It is a challenge especially because we’re a SaaS company in the B2B area. Our sales cycle is rather long, and you can’t just be based on the first or last click. Assisting in every step is very important. We need to know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

MS: What difficulties do you encounter with the marketing department? 

RL: It’s attribution. We can’t perfectly understand what components have the biggest impact. Second, it’s difficult to find what channel can be scalable. And the last one is that our sales cycle is quite long because we are B2B. The changes we make now will have an impact only in three to four months. We can’t do experiments with outcomes in a few weeks – that’s working for B2C. They can better predict the future of their actions. ​

Communication and reporting

MS: How do you communicate with the marketing department and how much do you delve into its work?

RL: Mainly, we communicate in person. I have a meeting with our head of marketing every week and she tells me what’s going on. We have reporting dashboards as a part of indirect communication. As the CEO, I play an active role in the marketing process.

MS: Do you have some special marketing dashboards?

RL: Yes, we do. I use Google Sheets for these purposes. Throughout the organization, we have different KPIs for every team and department. We make reports for the entire team and present and analyze them during weekly one-on-one meetings with the heads of departments.

MS: What KPIs does your marketing team have?

RL: The number of new customers per week, month, and quarter. They are similar for our sales team because they generate leads and we try to convert them into our paying customers.

MS: What are the most important reports for you? 

RL: The most important reports are those that show the revenue. Also, reports that include general customer information. ​

Read from the original source: owox