MarTech Interview with Alexa Kilroy, Head of Brand at Triple Whale

Alexa Kilroy, Head of Brand at Triple Whale chats about different ways for marketers to optimize a brand’s online experience while maintaining customer data privacy standards:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Alexa, tell us a little about your journey through the B2B tech marketplace and more about your role at Triple Whale…

Hi there! Thanks so much for having me. I’m actually relatively new to the B2B space; my background is working in-house on performance marketing at DTC/e-commerce brands. I’ve worked in just about every aspect of growth marketing as well as creative – from creating ads myself, to media buying, writing email copy, creating landing pages – you name it!

I joined Triple Whale as Head of Brand in May 2022, and I have a really awesome cross-functional role. I get to work on all sorts of cool projects, collaborating not only with the marketing team, but with the sales teams, product teams, support teams, and more. Some of my favorite projects include working with clients on Case Studies, heading up our Tech Partnerships program, supporting Product Marketing initiatives, and coming up with innovative ideas for event experiences.

In today’s constantly evolving privacy environment, what do you feel brands/marketers need to do to maintain required standards without compromising on the end user experience?

Great question. My first piece of advice is to begin with a thorough audit of all of your customer touch points – from first touch (likely an ad) – all the way to the customer service and the post-purchase experience. Most brands have way more data than they realize they have, despite privacy changes in the past year.

Things like how people interact with your ads, if & what they say in post purchase surveys, and how they interact with your website or landing pages shed so much light into areas of opportunity for optimization. And to stress this again – post purchase surveys are especially awesome.

First-party and zero-party data are privacy-changes-legal and offer a lot of insight into who your customer actually is, how they perceive your brand and products, and so forth. I’d recommend implementing a few things if you haven’t already:

  • A real, human customer service experience
  • A post-purchase survey asking the questions most critical for making business decisions
  • Having an actual team member engage with your social media pages, responding to comments and DM’s, and so forth
  • And regularly A/B testing various aspects of your email/SMS flows and landing pages to ensure your prospective customers are getting the best possible experience with your brand.

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Can you share a few thoughts on some of the implications smaller brands/teams often face with shifts in data privacy measures?

Absolutely. To state it simply, small to medium sized brands were definitely the cohort most impacted by updated privacy measures, especially on Facebook.

For example, take a $40M brand that’s been advertising on Facebook for 5 years. They’re likely to have a massive amount of data. Their subsect of purchasers that haven’t opted out of the iOS 14 updates is likely larger; therefore they have more customer data from which to build corresponding “lookalike” audiences with, in order to find new customers. Smaller brands that are only a few years old will have far less of a sample size; their ad targeting is likely to be less efficient.

As a result, amongst the brands that use Triple Whale, we’ve seen many of these small-to-medium sized brands work to diversify their adspend across channels, reduce spend on Facebook, and invest more into TikTok (a relative blue ocean for advertising), and very targeted search-based advertising, like Google.

We’ve seen over a 105% increase in TikTok adspend within our small to medium sized brand cohort, and they’re leveraging both the organic posting and traditional advertising capabilities in order to drive revenue. For many of these brands, it’s become essential to hire either a contract or full-time TikTok creator to develop the style of content that performs best on the platform.

Additionally, the smaller brands are more likely to feel the pricing pressures of rising advertising costs across paid social. TikTok currently offers some of the most affordable digital advertising costs, often cheaper than Facebook by at least 50%. Similarly, we have seen quite a few small to medium sized brands implement more “grassroots” marketing approaches – creating exceptional organic content, focusing on building a community for their customers and leveraging the power of their customer networks to boost sales.

How do changes in data privacy norms affect DTC brands on the whole and how can brand marketers in this domain optimize efforts to meet changing requirements better? A few thoughts on what eCommerce merchants can do to drive experiences despite constant shifts in data privacy?

Since the changes brought about by iOS 14, DTC brands have lost a significant amount of purchase data that is critical to making efficient business decisions. Brands that haven’t leveraged an attribution solution are still wondering exactly where customers are converting, how effective their ad spend dollars are per channel or advertisement, and what the customer journey touchpoints to conversion look like. That’s really just the tip of the data loss iceberg, too.

While of course I’d be remiss not to mention Triple Whale’s attribution capabilities, I feel firmly that brands currently not using any attribution solution are at an inherent disadvantage. Data is so critical to scaling effectively and quickly, and in light of rising digital advertising costs, it’s essential to make sure spend is driven only on the campaigns and channels with the highest ROI.

Beyond just optimizing the ads and channels, conversion rate optimization is a huge lever for brands to strategically invest in. I always recommend implementing a tool like Hotjar to see how customers interact with your sales or landing pages. Understanding exactly how people navigate pages can help identify where they’re falling off. Sometimes it’s simple things – they couldn’t find the information they needed quickly, load speed was slow, or irritating popups frustrated them enough to leave. In other cases, it’s complicated. Copy could need refinement, imagery could be lacking, or the actual add-to-cart experience could have disrupted conversion behavior.

Finally, for the brands that don’t believe in the power of email or SMS campaigns – please let me change your mind. Email and SMS are both powerful tools for educating your consumers, sparking urgency, and even just reminding the forgetful folks that never make it to checkout before getting distracted.

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Some last thoughts on the future of martech and the future of app tracking and data privacy?

When it comes to Apple changes, I think they’ve achieved their goals with the iOS 14 rollout – and the impacts on various advertising platforms reflect that.

I’m noticing that there’s an emerging martech market of IP-based targeting – which is technically currently legal – though I’m not sure that will last. I haven’t implemented it myself, so I can’t speak to the power of it, though the providers have plenty of case studies on their webpages.

There are also rumblings that Apple is launching their own ad platform, in which advertisers can serve ads directly to the lock screen of Apple products. This definitely makes me nervous. I either anticipate a very high opt-out rate (if possible), or a lot of frustration with Apple’s brand if this does come to fruition.

At the end of the day, I think we’re at somewhat of a plateau. The platforms are doing the best they can to stay legal, while also trying to keep making advertisers and users happy. I foresee brands that haven’t found an attribution solution yet will eventually engage with one, as the market around them is getting smarter, and they’ll need it to catch up. I also anticipate various paid social platforms to continue offering more “unique” advertising options – such as the upcoming TikTok Shoppable Ads.

Triple Whale - Brand Marketing Manager

Triple Whale is an analytics platform for key stakeholders of Shopify brands looking to scale their businesses. Triple Whale’s data-driven dashboard combines centralization, visualization, and attribution to illustrate KPIs in a simple and actionable way, making sophisticated insights into advertising performance accessible for any Shopify store. Founded in May 2021 and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Triple Whale is on a mission to build the default ecommerce operating system for Shopify brands, ultimately empowering business owners to live better lives.

Based in Austin, Texas, Alexa is the Head of Brand at Triple Whale – a strategic role that ecompasses design, messaging, event experience, PR/Communications, Partnerships marketing, and more. Prior to joining Triple Whale, Alexa worked in performance marketing, creative strategy, and growth for 7-figure+ direct to consumer e commerce brands, including  Superfoods Company and First Day. She’s passionate about helping businesses use data to grow and scale, and loves crafting compelling messaging, visuals, and innovative branding.

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