MarTech Interview with Tom Smith, Founder and CEO at GlobalWebIndex

Marketing Automation is baked into our own marketing processes, however, it’s no short cut for real people working with prospects and customers in a non-scalable way.

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Tell us about your role and journey into Marketing Technology. What inspired you to start GlobalWebIndex?

I had previously worked in a Market Research role at a large global advertising agency. My job was to help clients understand who they should target their Marketing at, why and how to reach them. I utilized all the industry research and data sets that existed, however it was increasingly apparent to me that I was unable to do my job as all the data sets were collected offline and focused on TV, radio and print.

The data I was using was often up to 18 months old and all made for local markets, which is the global connected digital era was completely non fit for purpose. Knowing this problem inspired me to build the solution that enabled modern marketers to understand their audience anywhere in the world.

How do you see the modern Automation industry evolving from the dot-com bubble era?

Marketing Automation is baked into our own Marketing processes, however, it’s no short cut for real people working with prospects and customers in a non-scalable way. We have large teams of Designers and Content Writers producing custom and bespoke content. We encourage our Sales Development and new Business teams to take the time to contact people in a personal and one-to-one way.

Within our own product, we are building in automation to help researchers, analysts and non-experts quickly derive insights by identifying relevant data points. However, really people have to interpret what it means. Automation should mean that people have more time to think, spend less time running data. Automation will never replace people.

How does GlobalWebIndex fit into a modern Marketing Technology stack?

The most fundamental part of successful Marketing and Business strategy is audience insight. Knowing who and how to target is the first stepping stone in success.

Most of our customers use out data in silo and develop audience insights through our platform, however an increasing number is integrating our data into their data stacks and DMPs and also utilize our pixel to deliver incredibly detailed audience analytics. We also have an API and a number of clients have used this to combine our data with other data sets.

How does GlobalWebIndex technology maximize the campaign effectiveness at each step of the user’s journey?

No campaign is effective without understanding the fundamentals of who you should target, why and how to engage. This is our core value. Often in a world of optimization and direct response, marketers can jump past these fundamentals, but without it, money is being poured down the drain.

Also with our analytics solutions you can measure the exact audience you reach, from any combination of over 35,000 variables. Reaching the right audience is vital to digital marketing and can drive perceptions and build brands.

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

I started a market research business when everyone was saying it was dying and going to be replaced by actual data from social networks, behavioral tracking and analytics. Many thought third-party data could replace market research.

Nothing has been further from the truth and market research is now more relevant than ever. Analytics is incredibly inaccurate and with GDPR, consumers have to opt-in and knowingly participate.

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

Last year we hired over 100 people. This is a monumental challenge and I’ve learnt (sometimes the hard way) that you need to invest more than you could imagine on learning and education. Also huge over-communication on the business journey and the vision of where you are going.

Those 100 new hires had no concept of where the business evolved from and it’s easy to forget that. I try to imagine what it would be like to join my business today and make that an awesome and inspiring experience.

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

We use SalesLoft and HubSpot.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in technologies/innovations for Marketing and Sales in 2020?

We are in the midst of a data disruption, but it’s all coming back around to market research and sample-based data sets, complete and accurate data with no holes.

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

Our own, Pollpass, which is an AI-powered chatbot that turns surveys into a one-to-one conversation. We built a start-up inside our business and I am incredibly proud of what we have built.

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

I think AI-impact is over-hyped and I’m not taking specific steps. People are the core of all companies and that’s not changing any time soon. It can massively improve products and we are using it to deliver a better surveying experience by creating real-life type conversations in our new data collection platform, Pollpass.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I have the opposite problem. I want people to get off technology. I encourage employees to get off Slack and pick up the phone or to leave their phones and laptops out of meetings and bring maximum attention. Meetings with total attention are incredibly productive.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

Of course Slack! Also, Salesforce and email which is massively underrated and frankly without it I would have no business.

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

I review and delete all my emails in my inbox every single day, this takes 10-15 minutes’ tops, but the productivity gains are insane.

Communication is 90% of my job and a huge part of that is digital. If you are not responsive you lose the respect of the team. Most people’s inboxes really freak me out.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading about five books in one go, all extremely slowly. The best ones I am reading now are “The Hard Things about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz and “Peak: How All Of Us Can Achieve Extraordinary Things” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool.

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

Don’t worry about competitors.

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

I really believe in what we’re building and I can clearly see where it’s going to go in the next five and ten years. My main job is to sell that to other people.

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

Tom founded GlobalWebIndex in 2009 and the company has transformed from a simple idea to the world’s leading provider of consumer insights to the global marketing industry. His goal is to expand their reach to represent every connected consumer on the planet, with data that helps businesses of any size connect with the right audience.

globalwebindex logoGlobalWebIndex is a leading market research company that provides digital consumer insights across 45 countries to the world’s largest brands, marketing agencies and media organizations. Our data represents more than 2 billion connected consumers, which we leverage to create 35,000 data points to profile internet users around the world.

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

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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