How to Achieve Real Time ROI with Data Analytics and Strategy: Interview with Isabelle Guis

Glenn: Hi, everyone. I’m Glenn Gow, Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Welcome to Moneyball for Marketing where we talk about the incredible changes happening in marketing organizations around big data and marketing technology. We feature marketing technology insights from the top marketers in the world. The reference to Moneyball is from the story of how the Oakland A’s baseball team were able to win and win and win because they figured out how to use data and technology to their advantage. If you’d like to learn about how to use big data and marketing technology and marketing to help you win visit us at or email us at And now on to our podcast.
Today I am very pleased to welcome Isabelle Guis, the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Egnyte. Isabelle oversees all global marketing as well as product and go to market strategies. So how does Egnyte describe themselves? Egnyte provides adaptive enterprise file services that uniquely anticipate IT and end users needs to securely share files both on premises and in the cloud. Isabelle, it’s a pleasure to have you here.

Isabelle: Thank you for having me. I’m glad to join.

Glenn: You and I spoke earlier and one of the fascinating things about your role is that you’re not just the chief marketing officer, but you’re the strategy officer as well and you shared with me that one of the reasons why that is the case is you are very data centric and your whole organization is data centric. Tell us a little bit more about how you as the chief marketing and strategy officer think about data for your company.

Isabelle: Sure. So actually I joined the company as a chief marketing officer and my background is in engineering so I was a recovering marketer because of that and when I joined I started asking questions about our customer base and the product adoption and the beauty with a SASS business is that we get a lot of data, actually, too much data where we need, actually, a team of data scientists to filter it, to analyze it, and even to predict user’s patterns, buying patterns, and as a result I would say eight, 10 people on my team are dedicated just doing this and providing input to the rest of the organization.

Glenn: Now let me stop you there, Egnyte isn’t a huge company and yet you have somewhere between eight and 10 people on your team that are either data scientists or focused on data, did I get that right?

Isabelle: Yup, absolutely.

Glenn: That is amazing, I’d say very unusual. I don’t know the raw numbers but I’m going to bet they are a big part of your team and I’ve never heard that many people dedicated to data science in marketing even with large organizations.

Isabelle: I used to say, even for myself, I’m a very data driven person and it’s always so hard to measure and have metrics on marketing. I’m thrilled about it and, yes, it’s almost a third of my entire marketing team, but it’s so valuable not just for marketing but for the entire company. We do provide data to project management, to the support team, to the sales team and that’s really helping us better understand our customers and better adapt for them.

Glenn: Well, good. Tell us more about what that data science team does and why you’ve built them up.

Isabelle: So, obviously, you know because they’re part of the marketing team one of the key supports is to provide a good understanding about how a customer interacts with us, what different media they use, how do they answer to some telemarketing campaigns, to our website, but also because we have a sales product to the usage, how many of them I know by client, how many of them have accessing or application from a brother and what type is it? Is it Firefox? Is it Internet Explorer?
So, we’re monitoring pretty much their environment where they share content and they collaborate and we try to fit marketing into their environment. We try to have our product evolved based on their environment and we prioritize some features on a certain platform that we know they use more than others. The same thing for the sales team, we tell them, “Hey, this is how many times they’ve been on our website. This is how what they are interested in, this is the type of feature they’re using.” So, when they have a discussion with a customer we have a better and more consultative approach than just trying to have a very high level description of the products. We really try to go where—with things they’re interested in.
Glenn: Great. And here’s something that’s of interest to our audience. The difference between information you have from the anonymous visitor versus the information you have someone who’s revealed themselves to you. How do you go about capturing information for the anonymous visitor?

Isabelle: So, for the anonymous visitor we can look at how many times they’ve been on the website and also our SASS solution offer a free trial, so as soon as they sign up we do have their contact information. Sometimes we ask them, you know, the company size and sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. We do link it to our database when we have the company name like LinkedIn and actually we manage to have different databases we connect with to build up the profile and then as they sign up for the trial and they start using our product then we start learning about also their product usage patterns along with their access to our marketing content and we start cross-checking different profiles and getting to know them better.

Glenn: Right. You told me a story about what you called content intelligence. Share that story with us if you remember that one.

Isabelle: Sure, absolutely. So, content intelligence is actually a critical piece of our new corporate strategy and as part of the—that’s where my title stems from, Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, is because based on all this data we collect we actually can tell our customers, if I’m a user and I’m sharing content using Egnyte we can tell them, “Okay, this is a top content that people have accessed that you created, this is the top content you’ve accessed from others. These are the people that you share content with that have been using it the most.” And we can really map out their entire content, I would say, usage for them at the user level and we can do this at the company level as well for their acting manager so they know that this is the most popular content is a video and that’s a very large file, instead of adding it in the Cloud it may be more efficient to put it in the local storage so the user have faster access and a better experience, so we track all of that, and we’re tracking it for Egnyte really to make our product better.
and when I joined and I saw all this content I’m like, “Why don’t we share it with our customer so we can have a better content strategy and so they can have content intelligence?” And as a result we adapted our road map and we had this big chunk of product feature to our solution and we changed our corporate strategy along those lines and we plan in the future to have analytics actually based on this content intelligence and help us to make more proactive action about that content as well.

Glenn: So interesting. So, it sounds like the data almost becomes part of your product offering because you’re turning around and sharing it with customers.

Isabelle: Absolutely. And the interest that customer expressed when we started telling them this and running some betas with them it has been amazing. They keep coming with new ideas for case studies and they really see the value.

Glenn: Very nice. I’d love to hear a little bit more about the marketing technologies you’re using to understand what your customers are doing and helping them move—excuse me, address the awareness issue first, right? Helping people understand who Egnyte is and then drawing them into that funnel and then moving them along. What are some of the technologies that you use at Egnyte.

Isabelle: So we’re using different vendors, but also we have a lot of application that we developed in house that our data scientist team developed and it’s kind of the glue between all the pieces we use. So for instance, we have many databases from the ads and the campaigns to the trials to the product to the billing and differentiating the source of information we have on for instance. So all the databases are unified into a single one that we can then slice and dice and then create outputs for all the apps.

Glenn: I have a question for you there. It’s very rare for someone in marketing to be sitting down with the IT organization to say, “This is how my data should be organized,” and being a voice at the table about how the company should be managing their data and most of the time because that doesn’t happen marketers can’t get the exact data they need when they need it. Tell us a little bit about your relationship with the IT organization and how it is you are driving the usage and accessibility of data that you really need.

Isabelle: Yes, actually I think that’s the beauty of being in a startup is that we have a very nimble organization and IT is very much open to changes. I remember when I used to work for a larger organization some people say, “Oh, IT is the no in innovation,” and I have to say that’s not the case at Egnyte. So what we do is the data scientist really scope what we need in terms of support, in terms of making queries to the database, in terms of how to structure the database and we use give specs and requirements to IT for them to deploy it and maintain it for us.
Now, we do a lot of code ourselves and we do use a lot of external software that we integrate with doing from advertising on Google or [Inaudible 0:11:30] and others collecting the Google analytics to linking this to different tools we use to reach out to leads like marketers and to clean up those leads to, too as a feedback, to the billing to know what type of subscription the customer is using to then ask for the support. We have a lot of different apps we’re using our data scientist team developed in house, sales application or product usage application and you have dashboards and they can be customized. And IT understands what we’re trying to achieve and what has to happen underneath it and will set up all the different bandwidths and connections between different networks so as to collect the data. So it’s a very collaborative effort.

Glenn: Yes, that’s the word I was going to use. It sounds like not only are you collaborating very closing with IT but in addition to that you are taking on some of the responsibility of developing applications to manage and use and get access to the data.

Isabelle: Absolutely and our IT team is very open to us using external software because they understand in marketing the world is changing very fast, the source of information is very diverse, and they don’t consider it shadow ITs, they consider it as tools that we need to work and they want to help us achieve our goals. It’s really more of a support partnership function than really I would say a restriction of the no in innovation that we discussed before.

Glenn: Yes, there are some companies like Egnyte that are pretty advanced and the CMO works very, very closely with the CIO. I remember a story about Domino’s Pizza where we talked to the CMO and he said, in fact, they have a brand new CIO there because, well, they decided that it was important that someone was collaborative in that role because they needed to work together very, very closely and they actually hired for that aspect of that individual to ensure that they can collaborate with a marketing organization. So it sounds like you’ve done something similar there.

Isabelle: Yeah and actually it’s a two way relationship too, by the way because IT is also the same staff managing our data center and running [Inaudible 0:13:56] solution. So they are interested in having us telling them predicting the users pattern change of customers. That we’re going to have a spike and a lot of new subscriptions or that this feature is getting adopted at a very fast rate so they need to plan for servers ahead. So it’s very much a two way partnership where everybody sees the value.

Glenn: You just referred to it but one hot area is predictive analytics and you mentioned that you’re doing some of your own. Tell us a little bit more, if you can elaborate on what you’re doing in terms of predictive analytics. Most marketers want to get smarter and smarter at predictive analytics and we can learn from you.

Isabelle: Yeah, well it’s a very tough I will say topic by the way and it’s not very accurate but the more you do it, and you have to start it. I mean that would be my advice for anybody listening to this podcast which is start and start small and then learn from this. The beauty with predictive analytics is it’s always getting better. The more you learn the more you test assumption and the more you can refine your algorithms.
Glenn: Right.

Isabelle: So we have two ways of doing this. We have ways that are based on business rules where for instance we look any activity inquiries. That may be a good sign of the customer will buy a new license and that we should provision and we should reach out to them. A different type of pattern that we reconnect that may be some single trigger and event and we do predictive on that. We also have selection learning software where it’s a very different approach here. You put all your data into this and the software will try to find correlation between different parameters and try to predict one parameter based on the others. So there is no real business logic here. You can try to retrofit it after. Sometimes it’s not accurate because sometimes you have correlation between things that are completely unrelated but it just happened that they had been changing at the same time with the same amplitude even if it’s not really related to each other so that’s where you want to refine and test and remove some parameters little by little and add them back later on. So it’s a little bit of experimental mode [Inaudible 0:16:15] learning whereas a predictive base on triggering events based on users’ patterns and on customers’ behaviors to predict what is it the next step is a little bit more accurate.

Glenn: Yes. Yes, interesting how you have to be careful about causation when you see two things moving at the same time. You have to separate some of the data to make sure you’re not seeing patterns that don’t really exist.

Isabelle: Absolutely. It’s always so tempting to see correlation and believe it is correlation, but it’s not. I think also the beauty of marketing is that you can do a lot of tests. You look at your customer base and you can test A and test B and validate your assumption as well. So that is great to have all this data and to be able to leverage it to refine your predictions.

Glenn: Well, I’m a big believer in testing. We believe in and advise our clients that they should be testing everything they can because there’s so much to learn from the test process and without you’re just making assumptions, but by testing you actually have data to support which one is working which one is not.

Isabelle: Absolutely and I believe that the SASS business is actually easier to do the testing because you have an instant validation compared to sales cycles that are much longer where you have to ship, install, and then see a change in the users’ patterns. So the SASS business offers you a direct connection to the customer all the time and a much faster feedback loop.

Glenn: And it puts a lot more pressure on the entire organization to be successful with that customer because the customer can just stop paying. That’s how they vote.

Isabelle: Absolutely, yes, yes. Instead of voting with their [Inaudible 0:18:06] they can vote with their clicks, absolutely.
Glenn: So this is very interesting and I’d love to ask you one more question about where do you see the future of using data you have available to you to do more effective marketing?

Isabelle: Well, I really believe that understanding your customer is the key. It’s always been in marketing and the companies that really will take this and organize a strategy of their company around this would be the winner. And it’s a lot of work. Saying, “Yes, of course we need a strategy focusing on the customer,” is one thing, but doing it is really hard and data is the only way to doing it listening to the customer not just making assumptions or adding in any subjective thoughts. I mean it’s very objective, it’s there. They like it or they don’t. You change something and you see right away the needle going one way or the other. So, an organization that really puts this at the center, that really monitors and collects data, analyzes it and act on it without I would say preconceived ideas and really listen that’s a new way of listening to customers. The old way was to meet with them and get the feedback, but you can only meet with 10 percent of them. Most of the time they’re the biggest ones and they bring big value to your company, but you have the [Inaudible 0:19:43] and how to satisfy them all and how to prioritize. So I think really data makes this more efficient but then you have the rest of the organization beyond marketing to be willing to accept it, to use this as a resource and to really have the entire company online not just marketing around the customer. I think that’s really what will be the next big competitive differentiator.

Glenn: That’s great, and I want to just on one thing you said about the ability to quickly understand what’s working and what’s not working. We interviewed the CMO of Lenovo, David Roman, and he is a very intelligent and fairly conservative when it comes to marketing, but he said, “The beauty of digital marketing is that we can do experiments that are very inexpensive because we can see in real time what’s working and what’s not working and we can make adjustments. We don’t have to wait and we know whether or not we’re going to be able to improve our ROI on a current campaign by making those adjustments in a live environment,” and I thought that was just a fascinating way to think about digital marketing.

Isabelle: Absolutely and that’s just for marketing. Imagine you can do this for the product, you change the future and you see right away if people adopt it or not. You should do this for support and you have an online forum so then you’re adding more traction than others so you can really apply this digital marketing philosophy to many other areas across a company and make it nimble as a whole because I think a great marketing campaign, but then the product not following what you want to deliver to customer or what you receive as feedback from customer is really hard, but certainly you align it all. That’s when you multiply your effectiveness and your power.

Glenn: Well, Isabelle we are out of time. Thank you so much for sharing some of your insights with us, I enjoyed it very, very much.

Isabelle: Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed the discussion. Thanks, Glenn.

Glenn: I’ll talk to you soon.

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