Interview with Jeff White, Founder, Gravy Analytics

Jeff White
Jeff White

“The ability to understand – in a privacy-friendly way – the places and events that a marketer’s target audience visits are a much bigger frontier.”

Tell us about your role at Gravy Analytics and how you got here. What made you start a Customer Intelligence platform? 

Gravy Analytics started in 2011 as a local events discovery company, recommending interesting things to do in your area. Knowing that events are often the greatest indicator of interests and passions, and seeing the gap in understanding what customers do in the physical world, in 2016, we pivoted to become a consumer intelligence platform. Events – and the unique context that they add to location data – remain foundational to our business and are one of our biggest differentiators.

What’s the most fascinating aspect of leading a Customer Intelligence analytics team in a tech-heavy industry?

We offer an entirely new type of customer intelligence based on what people actually do – the places they visit, the events they attend – in real life (everything from a 50,000-person trade show to a swim meet at the local YMCA). Until recently this was a blind spot for marketers, but a huge opportunity for ad targeting, customer relationship management and competitive intelligence…and, we’re still figuring out more applications for this data. We’re working with customers to do things like better inform real estate or investment decisions, and even help combat ad fraud. It’s exciting stuff.

Given the changing dynamic of marketing analytics and customer insights, where do you see Gravy Analytics fitting into a CMO’s tech stack?

Fundamentally, we’re a data and intelligence provider. You can use our audiences to reach your ideal customer with your digital advertising campaigns; our data to enrich your customer database, understand meaningful customer behaviors, and benchmark against your competitors; or license our consumer attendance data for myriad purposes. Our data has become a key component of our customers’ marketing and analytics efforts.

What is the ‘State of Customer Data and Analytics’ technology in 2018?

It’s an understatement to say that technology in this area is rapidly changing and evolving. We think it’s similar to the web cookie and its associated impact – but 100x faster. The creation of the web cookie gave marketers a view of web users’ digital footprints, and a host of web analytics companies emerged. The ability to understand – in a privacy-friendly way – the places and events that a marketer’s target audience visits are a much bigger frontier. We have just scratched the surface of its impact for marketers.

What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ Profile look like?

Our ideal customer is a B2C or B2B marketer with a desire to better understand, target and activate prospects, as well as conquest against their competitors. For these customers, we can help them identify their best prospects (and find more like them), benchmark against their competition, and enhance their CRM systems with real-world behavioral data about their current customers.

Which new geographies are you currently targeting?

Today, we are exclusively focused on the US market. 

How do you leverage AI/ML and Data Science at Gravy Analytics to scale your marketing efforts?

We recently added a virtual assistant to our website, which has really helped drive quality leads. We’re also firm believers that the best way to market our data is to let the data speak for itself. Whether we’re analyzing foot traffic patterns of home improvement chains, determining the most popular restaurants, or illustrating a profile of our ‘Sports Fans’ audience. Our Data Science team plays a central role.

What are your predictions on the most influential disruptions in B2B Customer Analytics industry?

We strongly believe that the ability to capture and target the attendees at industry events and tradeshows is reshaping how B2B marketers think about their strategies. Across the US, there are tech meetups, support groups, training classes and more happening every night that collectively creates large-scale reach and provides insights to power a B2B marketer’s arsenal.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

We pay close attention to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) startups that are developing next-generation analytical capabilities that can be applied to our data sets. We work with our own tech stack and associated partners to create real intelligence with our data, so understanding new companies with innovative technology is especially important for us.

What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Our marketing tech stack continues to evolve and grow with the company. Currently, we use WordPress as our CMS, and Hubspot for CRM, email marketing and social media management. We use Yoast for SEO and Google Analytics for reporting. Drift is behind our online virtual assistant, and Zoho supports our sales efforts. Zapier powers integrations between systems. On the advertising front, we use Taboola for native content promotion, Google for display and search campaigns, and LinkedIn for social campaigns. Internally, we use tools like Sisense for data visualization and Slack for collaboration.

Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign at Gravy Analytics? 

We’re using the Gravy blog to educate the market about our products and to showcase customer successes. We target this content to marketing professionals and business executives and measure campaign success both in terms of website traffic and sales leads. We continue to optimize our blog content and targeting accordingly: our “Top 5 Audiences” and “Event of the Month” posts that cover use cases and showcase interesting events (one of Gravy’s big differentiators) are top performers. Blog content now accounts for just under half of our total website traffic.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

One of the expressions we live by at Gravy is to never confuse a clear vision with a short distance. We have the foresight to envision a time when AI will drive our typical business day – from the autonomous car that drives us to the office, to the virtual assistant that continuously optimizes our day, finances, and even remembers to buy our spouse an anniversary gift. While we know we aren’t there yet, we understand that the key to AI enablement is data, and that the data we gather and create is fueling the future for marketers. Until then, we have to buy our own anniversary gifts.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

At Gravy, our employees have the chance to shape the direction of our technology and company. We give our engineers ownership of their projects, and the flexibility to make suggestions and introduce improvements to our systems. Great innovations can happen at any level within the organization.

One word that best describes how you work.

Early.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

For business, Google’s G Suite Business across the board. We recently adopted Slack, but I’ll confess I’m not a big user …yet. Also, as a business founder, I think LinkedIn is an indispensable networking tool. On a personal level, I rely on Google Maps and Calendar to ensure I’m in the right place at the right time. For fun, I play the occasional game of Clash Royale or Hearthstone.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

I start work early, because I do my best work before noon. I also make time to exercise daily – even if just for a few minutes. It gives me the energy that I need to run a company, and at the same time, I get better results from my workouts.

What are you currently reading?

I do most of my reading online using Apple’s News app. It bring me stories from multiple sources (including USA Today, one of Gravy’s original investors), which I think is critical — especially today when it’s essential to have a complete picture of current events.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Visions can be blinding.” As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become myopic and ultra-focused on executing against a vision or idea. That can create blind spots to iterations or pivots that might make all the difference.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

As a former athlete, I was told that you can’t control playing against bigger or faster people than you – but you can control how hard you work. So, I work hard. I have always vowed to not be out-hustled or out-worked.

Thank you, Jeff! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Jeff is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gravy Analytics. He is passionate about building disruptive technologies with the potential to change entire industries. Prior to Gravy Analytics, he founded several technology companies and led them to successful exits.

Gravy Analytics
Gravy Analytics delivers real-world location intelligence to advertisers and brands. Where we go is who we are. Gravy’s patented technology, AdmitOneTM, verifies consumer attendances at millions of places and events, providing unprecedented insight into consumer activities and interests. Advertisers rely on Gravy Audiences to power precision-targeted mobile advertising campaigns. Brands trust Gravy Insights to provide unmatched customer and competitive intelligence. Gravy Analytics processes billions of location signals each day from its nationwide base of opted-in mobile devices for unparalleled reach and scale.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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