MarTech Interview with Sam Carter, CEO, Fospha

Sam Carter, CEO, Fospha

“In today’s multichannel landscape, marketers need a better and deeper understanding of the entire customer journey to provide better customer experiences and maximize return on investment.”

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What is Fospha and how does it fit into a CMOs technology stack?

Fospha is a marketing optimization specialist, helping brands solve their biggest challenges through the integration of siloed customer data and data-science measurement products. According to the latest report by Boston Consulting Group, three technical enablers are needed for digital marketing maturity: connected data, automation, and actionable measurement. Fospha’s solution is designed to help CMOs in these three areas. Using multi-touch attribution (MTA) and marketing mix modeling (MMM), we assess the value of marketing channels in detail, bringing data together to achieve a unified view of performance to help marketers understand what’s working.

To put it simply, MTA measures the value of every touchpoint in the customer journey, while MMM shows how channels work together and how brands can drive incremental growth. Using these insights, Fospha builds tailored customer data platforms for clients, using data science products to provide one view across all channels, drive ROI, and build customer lifetime value. These platforms are unique to the customer and entirely theirs, using their own data. This protects them from data leakage and allows them to integrate them with their existing business systems and the other technology providers they use to prioritize choice and future proof their customer data platforms.

How does Fospha maximize the campaign effectiveness at each step of the user’s journey using data?

In today’s multichannel landscape, marketers need a better and deeper understanding of the entire customer journey to provide better customer experiences and maximize return on investment.

In this context, understanding what’s working, and acquiring and retaining customers at sustainably low costs are the biggest challenges marketers face. Our solution connects data from within the organization to provide insight into every step of the end-to-end customer journey. Brands use these insights to run campaigns more efficiently, direct spend and resources more effectively, and identify wasted spend and key opportunities for incremental growth.

From the time you started at Fospha, how much has the customer data and analytics market evolved?

The landscape has changed radically in a short space of time. After a number of false starts and general lack of progress over the past decade, businesses are realizing that connected customer data is now a business imperative, to unlock business critical insights,increase productivity and have any chance of adopting AI

After derailing a lot of marketing progress in 2018, GDPR has actually become a good forcing mechanism for this — with good data management at the heart of the regulations – and we are now seeing businesses thinking more about how they can effectively use the data they have access to, rather than the data they don’t have. A recent survey report found that a third of marketers believe they are using less than 20% of the data in their organization and marketers generally are becoming more aware of the enormous potential value, IP and competitive advantage in the data they do own but mostly aren’t using.

With regards to the market itself, the landscape has also changed dramatically. We acquired a business called iJento in 2016 that has a long history in customer data intelligence. Initially, the company focused on web analytics, evolving to incorporate multi-channel and device, and is now significant part of our marriage between engineering and data science. As the opportunities Machine Learning presents finally started to meet expectations, this background allows us to empower marketers to organize and consolidate data, and then unlock business critical insights at a scale previously unimaginable. Today, we put a huge emphasis on the people who make our product valuable to customers and have witnessed a change in brand sentiment away from faceless SaaS solutions to people-led platforms.

What is the current state of Marketing Attribution (MTA) and why does it remain unresolved in most cases?

Our last whitepaper, The State of Marketing Attribution, found more needs to be done to help marketing teams solve their biggest challenges around marketing and attribution. Many are still having the same conversations they were 10 years ago that data and teams are siloeed and metrics outdated — this needs to change.

The customer journey is more complex than ever and there is an increasing demand for independent measurement, but for this to really succeed, it needs to be matched by digital marketing maturity within the organization — its no longer solely about attribution. The BCG report found that brands can expect up to 15% incremental revenue growth if they have data-driven marketers working with connected data and actionable measurement.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth and the lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition.

At Fospha, we are huge advocates of the ‘start small and grow’ approach with our clients. The perfect data set is never going to fall into your lap, which means you need to start with the data you have and develop from there. There are so many valuable actionable insights you can unlock from your very basic data and we are seeing this day in, day out, with our clients.

But one of the reasons there’s been such slow progress in the last 10 years is that there hasn’t been a clear methodology for getting started. An RFI process for a 360 attribution tool is the wrong approach, as it focuses on the how rather than the why or the what. As a solution, we have built basic systems for enterprise clients and enterprise systems for smaller clients to fit the technology to the specific problem they need addressing and take businesses on their own unique journey.

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

When people think of AI, they imagine robots and self-driving cars, or have been disillusioned by what they’ve seen so far. But what businesses should really be focused on is how AI can help drive efficiency and productivity, and how humans can use it to solve problems they have here.

To prepare for developments in an AI-centric world, Fospha needs to think not only about the role it plays for ourselves, but also how it affects the products we are building for clients. As a business that is 25% made up of data scientists, we have a unique perspective. Due to costs, our product would have been unthinkable in most clients organizations 10 years ago, but now the barriers to entry have been lowered and the solutions can cope with larger volumes of data at higher speeds. There isn’t really a financial excuse anymore for not embracing it.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Technology is inspiring enough in the majority of cases. A lot of what we do exists at the intersection of academia and commerce, and continual technological advancement creates exciting, dynamic learning opportunities for my team. We’re excited about how technology can solve our clients’ biggest problems and create exciting opportunities, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings in terms of further technological development.

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

It has to be Excel. Apart from constantly affirming my Excel skills to maintain credibility managing a business full of data scientists, engineers and analysts, it’s still a seriously impressive tool and a great platform to understand and analyze data. It’s also extremely easy to self-train, and offers an amazing range of flexibility for a range of different tasks.

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

As mentioned, I get oddly excited by Excel functions and shortcuts. I believe that sometimes the biggest productivity and efficiency gains are the simplest.

What are you currently reading?

At the moment, I am reading “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni. Our team has grown pretty quickly over the past couple of years, and building and maintaining a world-class culture, and high performing team has become my number one objective.

I know 18-year old Sam would be disappointed to hear I have sacrificed the amount of fiction I read for books about business, but it’s texts like this that reinforce how critical it is to keep learning.

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

Make yourself redundant at every opportunity. The only way you and your team can progress is if you can remove the dependency on yourself and empower others.

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

I don’t know if I can mark myself better than others on this, but I’m a relentlessly positive person. I think 90% of any success I’ve had is due to an ability to maintain this and transfer that attitude to others. This is particularly important when something isn’t going according to plan, and positive problem solving becomes paramount.

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

Sam Carter is CEO at Fospha. He previously held the Commercial Director position, developing the sales, marketing, accounts and customer success functions for one of the BlenheimChalcot portfolio businesses.

fospha logoA hybrid of data science, artificial intelligence and data driven modelling Fospha help businesses unlock insights and disrupt their business from within to drive business innovation and growth. We do that through our consultancy arm for bespoke projects and in marketing and media through attribution and measurement.

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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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