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TrendSpotting Episode 3: Erik Larson

Episode Overview

Today, we’re going to hear from Erik Larson, who is the founder and CEO of Cloverpop, an enterprise decision making software that tracks, communicates, and improves decision-making across your organization. A former captain in the U.S. Air Force turned MIT rocket scientist and Harvard MBA, Erik has spent the last decade launching a dozen SaaS products for Adobe, Macromedia, and his own organizations. We’re excited to talk to him about how smart marketers are managing increasingly diverse and complex organizational structures.

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Episode Transcript

Ben:                 Welcome to the TrendSpotting podcast by Searchmetrics. In this podcast, we dive deep into the ways innovative marketers use their expertise and data to identify the macro trends that influence where you should be investing your marketing budget.

Ben:                 This podcast is brought to you by Searchmetrics. At our core, the Searchmetrics team is a collection of SEOs, content marketers, and data scientists who help sophisticated organizations leverage search data to improve their organic traffic volume, maximize the visibility of their content, and gain insight into their business, competition, and industry’s performance.

Ben:                 Today, we’re going to focus our conversation on what has traditionally been one of the most difficult aspects of marketing to quantify, people. Specifically, how to use data and technology to streamline your organization’s decision making process.

Ben:                 With us is Erik Larson, who is the founder and CEO of Cloverpop, an enterprise decision making software that tracks, communicates, and improves decision-making across your organization. A former captain in the U.S. Air Force turned MIT rocket scientist and Harvard MBA, Erik has spent the last decade launching a dozen SaaS products for Adobe, Macromedia, and his own organizations. We’re excited to talk to him about how smart marketers are managing increasingly diverse and complex organizational structures.

Ben:                 Erik, welcome to the TrendSpotting podcast.

Erik:                 Thanks Ben, I’m happy to be here.

Ben:                 It’s great to have you. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about your background and a little bit about Cloverpop. So why don’t you just tell us a little bit about you as we get started?

Erik:                 Great, yeah, happy to. I’ve been at building software for quite a while. I came over to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, first joining Macromedia, the late, great company that was acquired by Adobe. While I was at Macromedia, I was very focused on web development. My very first interview at Macromedia was with one of the founders of the company, and I had this vision that I wanted to build digital media that could track who was interacting with it and change itself in order to have them either buy the product or find the information they want or basically personalize itself as people interacted with it, which at the time I felt was a super brilliant idea and now it’s so passé that everybody expects that every little digital interaction is going to be personalized.

Ben:                 So you were ahead of the curve in terms of things like dynamic ad insertion and basically customization of ad units?

Erik:                 Right, yeah. At the time, it seemed totally easy, that it was going to happen tomorrow, but 18 years later, we’re finally there. I think, for me, the thing that stood out as most interesting was the shift in what CMOs had to think about. When we were first pitching some of these ideas at Macromedia and Adobe, CMOs were not exactly the most number centric executives on the executive team. So a lot about brand and creativity and less about the numbers. Now, I mean, imagine a marketer who doesn’t know numbers. It’s a totally different world.

Ben:                 They’re called artists.

Erik:                 Yeah, exactly. So that defined, more or less, my career while I was at Macromedia and Adobe was finding ways to take digital content, digital media, put it together with algorithms and analytics and serve up some great experiences. But there was a point near the end of my time at Adobe, around 2012, where I was doing more research into behavioral science. So we had been using algorithms and simple math to help serve up content. I got more and more interested about the people behind the clicks, thinking that, “Oh, we can probably come up with some really clever algorithms if we knew a lot about how the brain worked.” In the course of that, I realized that scientists actually had learned a lot in the last 30 years about how people do things, and that what I was doing as a marketing technologist was not necessarily always serving the individual clickers’ interests.

Erik:                 I wanted to find some way to help people make use of the same ideas, like what if there could be software that would help us make tough decisions that we face in our day-to-day lives? That was the initial idea behind Cloverpop, was take some of the same ideas that marketing analytics and marketing technology was using and try to apply it to the decisions that people make in their day-to-day lives, and now with Cloverpop in their business lives.

Ben:                 So what I’m hearing is that you were essentially a product manager and product marketing manager with a technical bent when the field was still more creative driven that became interested in the psychology behind marketing, and thus created the decision making software that is now Cloverpop, which isn’t necessarily marketing focused.

Erik:                 That’s right. Yeah, Cloverpop is focused more on two types of solutions. One is if you’re running a large organization, how can you insure that every managers’ most important decision each week is made with the highest quality and as fast and efficiently as possible. So think of the most important decision you made last week, what could have been done to make that a better, faster decision?

Erik:                 The other solution is more focused on strategy, turning strategy into action. So you come up with a strategic direction, or an OKR, or a goal of some sort that you’re trying to drive towards, tracking the decisions that are made to get towards that goal as new initiatives are kicked off, as things change, and new directions need to be taken, providing visibility and speed and improved quality and transparency around those decisions so they happen faster.

Ben:                 So talk to me about your targeting. Who are your segments, or who are these segments that are most interested in Cloverpop? Who gets the most value out of it?

Erik:                 So there’s a long story and a short story. The short story is we focus on general managers. When I say general manager, I don’t necessarily mean just the matrixeddefinition, but I mean someone who’s responsible for business results and also a fairly large organization, a fairly large number of people. They’re our targets because they care about the intersection between how the organization operates and what results they get. So coming into to them and saying, “Decision making is an important aspect of how you run your business, and we can make the decision practices across your organization better,” is a very compelling argument. Those people, of course, a very busy. They value their time, and the companies value their time a lot, so getting them requires a very high level sales pitch and a very compelling and complete story.

Erik:                 Yeah, the other group are more business operations, strategy operations, program management office leaders who are focused on improving the processes, either across an organization or within a particular project or particular team. So these are the people who are improving the core output of their organization.

Ben:                 So the core target for the TrendSpotting podcast, we’re hoping to reach the marketing executives, your VP’s, and CMO type roles, and trying to give them the trends that they need to know about. One of them is obviously these are people that are running large organizations that are very complex. I’m interested to hear, what are some of the trends that are driving the need for technology to support decision making for large organizations like a CMO?

Erik:                 Yeah, so CMOs and any C-level or VP level marketer, they’re in a very interesting place right now, because they are driving a lot of change in their business. That change is putting more pressure on their decision making. So it’s sort of like a feed-forward loop, where as they get more efficient at running A/B testing, doing more and more around market analytics and personalization, there are more and more decisions to be made, and that happens and more and more quickly. You can deploy a highly personalized global marketing campaign in a month. That sort of thing used to be literally impossible in less than a few years as you would try to segment and slice and dice and run your mailers and that sort of thing.

Erik:                 So the pace of decision making and marketing has been increasing every year for the past ten years. Marketing, campaign management, and analytics software has helped make it go faster, but it hasn’t done a lot to help with the coordination between different people within the marketing organization, or between the marketing organization and the rest of the business. As most marketers know, everybody’s a marketer when it comes to a campaign that impacts their business. Everybody has an opinion. Finding a way to efficiently get their opinions included in the decisions around a campaign, and then we play back to them what was decided and how things turned out, is a major … it slows things down if the CMO has to get involved directly, or it puts greater demands on visibility if the CMO is able to delegate those types of decisions out into their organization.

Ben:                 So there’s a couple of interesting things that you said. First that the pace of decision making in marketing organizations is speeding up. To me, that makes sense. The pace of everything with technology and the distribution of information, everything seems to be hurrying up these days. There’s also an additional level of complexity. So when you think about the challenges facing a marketer with a large organization, is the decision making software something that helps reduce the level of complexity? Is it something that helps educate the marketing leadership on whether their strategy is being followed? Talk to me a little bit more about pace and complexity and how the type of product that your company has developed actually provides benefits to the executive level.

Erik:                 Sure, so there’s really two problems that this increased pace of decision making is causing for marketing executives: One problem is the lack of visibility into the micro decisions that are made across an organization. By micro decisions, I don’t mean necessarily at the level of, “Which creative should we use?” because marketing automation has made that very simple. You just throw out both creatives and kill the one that fails in the first thousand views, or ten thousand views or whatever.

Erik:                 So the decisions that are more difficult are more strategy decisions. So even when you’re in a marketing organization in which you are treating everything like a test … so if you’re a fully 21st century enabled analytical marketing machine, and everything you do is a test, you’re A/B/C/D testing every week and making changes as a result, there are still questions of positioning or questions of, “How are we going to categorize ourselves?” Questions of what you are trying to drive your brand or your company or your product, which are not purely reactive. You’re trying to make a change in the world.

Erik:                 Those types of decisions are not really helped very much by most marketing technology today. If you’re in a B2B company, how do you get input from the field, from the product or solutions delivery people? How do incorporate input from other internal stakeholders so that you can say, “Oh, we were going after this market. We should now go after this new market as well.” Most conversations take an enormous amount of time, and just having more data and analytics doesn’t really solve the problem.

Ben:                 Yeah, it’s interesting. How I think about what you’re describing in my head is the difference between what I’ll call a growth or a growth hacking mindset, where you’re taking micro optimizations and doing consistent performance enhancements to make sure that the actual marketing activities you have have a maximum impact. Then there’s the flip side of what is traditionally been marketing, which is … let’s simplify it down to your 4 Ps or maybe we just say positioning. But there is the big strategic decisions that you’re making, and the micro-optimizations, and those don’t always necessarily feed into each other. It sounds like what you’re saying is that the Cloverpop type software helps you gather data to influence what type of macro decisions you should make. Is that fair?

Erik:                 That’s right. So these bigger decisions you’re making that do require input from other people in the organization take a lot of time. They’re rife with politics, and various biases, and so forth. Those can be made much better, much more efficiently, by having a basic set of practices that you know you’re going to follow, that you’re going to consider different alternatives, get input from people, and that sort of thing.

Ben:                 So outside of the software … which I’m happy to talk more about … but tell me a little bit about the actual best practices for that type of decision making, specifically when you have a large, complex organization. What are some things that marketers are maybe not in a position to be Cloverpop customers … what are some of things that they need to think about to make better decisions, have better decision making processes? What are you automating?

Erik:                 Sure, yeah. So we look at decision making as being made up of seven basic practices. This is every company, every organization, every marketer has to do these practices to some extent, but not every marketer does them equally well. The first is more of a cultural position, which is how decisive and empowered is my organization? Do I know that people feel empowered to make decisions? Are they willing to make decisions? When someone else makes a decision, will they support that decision and follow it through to see how it goes?

Erik:                 So that’s at the level of leadership. Without that sort of decisive and empowered culture, almost everything else becomes more difficult. In different industries, this is easier or more difficult to do. Technology companies, which we sell to most frequently, are actually pretty good, in general, at having a decisive and empowered group of people in marketing and in other parts of the business.

Erik:                 The next practices all lump into how are decisions made. There’s three pieces. One is do you bring a broad perspective to the decision? Another is do you get input from multiple people? Are you fast and efficient when you’re making decisions? Do you make decisions with the minimum number of meetings and the shortest period of time possible? Are you applying Goldilocks analysis? So just the right amount of analysis. Not too little, so that you’re just shooting from the hip, and not too much so you’re stuck in analysis paralysis.

Erik:                 What we’re finding, again, in technology companies, they tend to be pretty good at getting a broad perspective. You have a bunch of smart people around the table, and they will voice their opinion. Where they tend to fall short is in the speed and efficiency. Tons of meetings, trying to get consensus. When you can’t make a decision in this meeting, you schedule another meeting to make the decision, as if the meeting is going to be the answer.

Erik:                 The final areas are in how the decisions are executed. So is the decision communicated in writing to the people who need to know? Very frequently, this doesn’t happen. If you’re not in the meeting, then you don’t really know what was decided. Everyone in the meeting is expected to word of mouth or other means. “Spread the word, this is what we decided.” Typically, if there are seven people in a room and a decision is made, there are seven slightly different memories of exactly what was decided and why.

Ben:                 The game of telephone.

Erik:                 That’s right. So writing things down, writing decisions down, is something that people in general are not very good at. Marketers are no different. The second is a aligned execution, meaning does the decision actually get followed through on? Is it aligned with the overall strategy of our organization?

Erik:                 Decisions, in marketing and in any other areas of business, have this weird way of defining their own world so that if you’re making a choice between, “Should we do a content marketing push or should we focus more on trying to get organic PR?” the choice suddenly becomes about which of those two is better and not about which of those … better compared to each other versus which of those two is most likely to help us achieve our goal? So making sure that your decisions are focused on the overarching goal of business and not on which of these two is better.

Erik:                 Because if you get to which of these two is better, you start to ask questions like, “Well, is the organic campaign cheaper … or more expensive or less expensive? Is it going to happen faster or slower? Are we going to get more reach or less reach?” All these questions end up being sort of like a pro/con list about these two choices, but they might ignore an overarching desire to become a marquee brand globally. Organic is clearly better at getting strong brand presence out there in some sort of social media campaign where you’re paying for clicks.

Erik:                 Then the final piece is having good feedback loops. Are you writing down the decisions you made, making sure they’re aligned with your goals, and then tracking to see what happens? Did it turn out as we expected? In modern digital marketing, this happens almost automatically at the campaign level, but at the strategy level or business line level, it’s often there’s a disconnect. “We decided we’re going to do this. Did that actually go like we expect?” is not a question that gets asked. You just move onto the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing.

Ben:                 Right. So if I had to boil that down, essentially you’re saying the key steps to decision making are A, team empowerment. Are the people you’re working with, do they have the authority to actually make decisions? Are you getting a broad perspective from enough people? Are you executing with speed and efficiency? Are you doing the right amount of analysis? Are you communicating the decision? Are people aligned on the execution? Then are you creating feedback loops to evaluate the decisions you’re making?

Erik:                 That’s right. The best companies do all of those things almost every time.

Ben:                 So talk to me a little bit more about how the changing trends in the workforce. People are moving more towards gig economy and consulting less traditional appointment agreements. There are obviously more diverse, disparate work forces that are being created. How does that impact decision making across organizations?

Erik:                 So we’ve done some extensive research into the interaction between diversity and inclusion and decision making. There’s an amazingly strong positive result when you have a more diverse group of people included in your decisions. The numbers are literally staggering. So if you have a group of people who are all the same, and it doesn’t really matter if they’re all white guys in Silicon Valley, or all young women on the east coast, or whatever it might be, if they’re all very similar people, then a group of people like that tends to be better than any individual person in the group about 30-40% of the time. So groups are better than individuals, but just a little bit better. If you look at a more diverse group, so if you include a range of different genders, different physical locations, different ages, different work environments … so this could be, say, gig economy type people as well. The groups max out if you have all of those different types of diversity included in a decision making group, the group will find a better choice 92% of the time. So another way of saying that is if you are making a decision all by yourself, there is an 8% chance that you’re making a good decision, because there’s a 92% chance if you had got a group of people together, they would have come up with something better than you have in your head.

Ben:                 If you asked my wife, I would probably score lower than an 8% chance, but that’s neither here nor there. So tell me about the data that you’re using to quantify what is a good decision, because that to me, it makes sense that diverse perspectives create diverse thinking, which creates multiple angles looking at how to solve a problem. But how do you quantify right versus wrong?

Erik:                 So as context for my answer, in order to know that you’re getting input from everyone, you actually have to document that somehow. So if you have imagine a group of people sitting around a table, and they all speak the same language, and they’re all extroverts, they’re all going to be heard. If you imagine a group of people who are some sitting at a table, some in another time zone, some not currently working so they can’t participate in a real time conversation, some are introverts, some have some strong language skills, some have less strong language skills. Getting all their input is very difficult, so one thing I should say about those numbers that I gave is that those numbers assume that everybody has an equal say, everybody has written down their information.

Erik:                 So that’s what we have. With Cloverpop, we have a huge database of business decisions, and we can look at two things. We can look at what did the decision makers think at the very beginning of the decision making process. What was their gut, more or less? If they had to make a decision right now based on the information they have, what would they choose to do? We know from other research that if you don’t do anything else and you just let them run their decision making process like they normally would, have some meetings and so forth, that they’re going to go with whatever their gut was 70-80% of the time, so most of the time. In other words, all this time spent in meetings is not really spent to make better decisions.

Ben:                 It’s politics.

Erik:                 It’s mostly spent to convince other people of the decision that was already in their mind. It’s politics, or salesmanship, or whatever you want to call it, storytelling. Most of time in most businesses, decision makers aren’t even aware they’re making a decision until they already have the choice in mind, their top choice in mind. Then they begin, essentially, a sales or storytelling process to get that decision to happen. We know, by looking at our database, that when you have a diverse group of people who provide equal input to that decision maker, that they’ll change their minds far more frequently. So what we call a better decision is a decision when a decision maker’s final choice is different from the choice they had going in, because they’ve made a decision themselves, “This choice is better than the choice I had in mind in the beginning. So we’re going to go do that.”

Ben:                 So essentially it’s the variability from their original decision equals a good decision.

Erik:                 A better decision is what we’re calling it, yeah.

Ben:                 Now what happens if their original decision was the right one? Sorry, let’s play devil’s advocate here. Let’s say I have a great idea and I interview 50 people and they have a different perspective, and they push me off of my stance because everyone’s disagreeing, and it turns out I had the right decision.

Erik:                 So that … what’s the way to say it? The idea of decisions are designed by a committee or decisions by a committee being bad is a wonderful story. It totally fits in the way that we see ourselves as people. It unfortunately is almost completely untrue. There are very few studies that show that committees make worse decisions than individuals. It’s very, very unusual. When it happens, it’s a compelling story, and it sticks in our minds. People like compelling stories. Also, people tend to think that they’re much smarter than average. All of us are above average in our own minds. So it all sort of hangs together, but what the research shows is that that is almost never the case. When it is the case, the biggest problems tend to be that committees or groups of people make decisions more slowly, not that they make them poorly.

Erik:                 So if you can have a group of people who can make a decision just as fast as an individual, then that group will totally crush the individual every time. Having a strong leader in charge of marketing who makes all of the final calls all the time is certainly better than being stuck in meetings all day making no decisions, but it is never going to be as good as a highly effective group of people working together to make better decisions collectively.

Ben:                 So you’re not a big fan of the Napoleonic CMO?

Erik:                 No, I mean, the thing is it’s the short term. It’s a difficult thing to deal with, because in the short term, you’ll have a few successes, which they can then use to tell the story of how effective they are. It fits in with a whole bunch of human behaviors, that we want people to be heroes. There’s nothing wrong with that idea, especially in times of crisis, real crisis, like the building’s burning down type crisis. You need people to take charge and move. But when you have more than 30 seconds to make a decision, the leaders who are going to dominate the 21st century are leaders who are able to get the most out of the people around them. No question, no question at all.

Ben:                 But before we move onto a new topic, I just want to point out that you followed my Napoleonic joke with, “It’s good if it’s short term,” which I really appreciate. Tell me a little bit about some of the other marketing trends that you think of as they relate to decision making and even outside of decision making. What are some of the things that you’re seeing in your field related to marketing that you think are important?

Erik:                 Well, so I think the evolution of content marketing over the last four or five years is really interesting. We (at Cloverpop) are trying to create a new category of software, essentially. The idea that you should have a system that keeps track of your decisions, just like you have systems that keep track of your marketing campaigns, or a CRM system, or an ERP system. Decisions are data and they should be tracked and managed. That’s not a common idea. At the same time, decision making itself is incredibly interesting to people, like the ideas of all the different biases we have in decision making. Every decision is essentially a story in and of itself. What’s going to happen, what did happen, how did people react? All that. So we’ve always been a content marketing centric company.

Erik:                 The two things I’ve noticed that have changed the most, one is that almost every company is a content marketing company right now, but very few companies have anything interesting to say. So the result is that there’s a huge amount of rehashing of the same information again and again in a different listicle. This time seven, this time ten, that time three. Most important things about X. For us, it makes it more difficult, because somehow you have to rise above all of that noise in a way that wasn’t true before. It used to be … I mean, I imagine there must be another 100,000 people being hired as marketing writers than ten years ago, because they’re putting out a lot of stuff. What I think it’s done, at least from our numbers, is that it’s made the hit base nature of content even more true.

Erik:                 So there’s like an aphorism that in order to make your blogging strategy work, you just have to keep blogging. In order to make your social marketing work, you just have to keep posting. Just keep doing it, and eventually you build a following and all that sort of thing. I don’t know that that’s true anymore, at least not as true. If it were ever true, it’s less true now. What I think is more the case is that you need to keep firing away to try and find something that is a hit.

Erik:                 So kind of like going back to the music industry, back in the day, hits dominate. Hits drive all of the profitability and all of the uptake. I think that in content marketing, it is so hit based now that most of the content is generating very little value. There’s a few points that really hit.

Ben:                 I’ll add a caveat into what you’re saying. Like with anything, it depends on the type of business that you’re running. At Searchmetrics, we support lots of content-driven businesses. You run into e-commerce companies that there is table stakes by having mass amounts of content that, in aggregate, provide a rich value. If you look at Amazon, is what they’re saying about a product necessarily compelling? No. But is the amount of content that they have in having a product description for every product? Yes, that is very compelling. I think you specifically being in SaaS, and let’s call it a technology or professional services B2B business, having a perspective that is unique and reaching people with something that’s thought provoking, that’s really where the hits come in. What you’re talking about, it’s not just about how many articles you publish, but when you publish more posts, you’re more likely to have [crosstalk 00:33:35] …

Erik:                 That’s right, yes.

Ben:                 I totally, totally agree with you there.

Erik:                 Yeah, you’re right. I’m talking about more B2B content, more thought leadership content, not content in a general sense.

Ben:                 Yeah, are you seeing anything interesting in terms of content distribution? Or is your area of focus just what you’re writing about?

Erik:                 So yeah, I think that the contributed articles also I feel have become a little less potent, with perhaps the exception of Forbes, where I think they have their stuff really dialed in. But in other platforms, contributed articles, certainly from vendors, I’ve just noticed almost far less interest generated by them. It puts even more of a premium, I think, on organic, to the extent there’s still journalistic platforms, it becomes even more important to get into an actual publication that is almost guaranteed to be a hit, at least from a B2B standpoint. So it’s almost as if the proliferation … and this is, again, from my perspective, from a thought leadership type perspective. The power of branded publications has actually gone up, because they are more able to generate hits as the sea of content has sort of filled in every other gap that existed before.

Ben:                 Yeah, that’s interesting. Essentially, passing a journalistic bar or something that’s interesting enough to be content from a reputable source as opposed to the more pay-to-play faux journalism. It makes a lot of sense in terms of people gaging your post authenticity. At the end of the day, there’s only so many ways that you can game the system in terms of PR and organic distribution.

Erik:                 Yeah, I think that’s right. It’s very difficult. Maybe the one final thing I would say is that it is remarkable how difficult it is to predict which content is going to be successful in advance. This is sort of an underpinning of marketing automation in general, that you should be doing A/B testing. In a world in which content is ubiquitous, it’s even more true that you have to be measuring and revisiting your content strategies continuously, because chances are what you thought was true can turn out to be different than you expected.

Ben:                 Yeah, you know we see that a lot with Searchmetrics customers. Not to turn this into a Searchmetrics sales pitch, but the core value proposition of Searchmetrics is using search data to understand the likelihood that an article will perform. Again, like we said, there are different types of businesses that are using content for different purposes. So if you’re talking about how much somebody will grab an article and share it, that’s very hard to predict. If you’re talking about the likelihood of driving organic ranking, you can use data to understand that. Searchmetrics has its content experience tool which does that. As you’re writing in real time, it will tell you what words you need to do to rank at a specific place for the keywords you’re trying to target. So there are ways …

Erik:                 That totally makes sense.

Ben:                 … around driving organic traffic, but when you’re talking about a more PR-driven social sharing dynamic, that is very hard to quantify.

Erik:                 Right. The Searchmetrics data is obvious … you know, you’re talking about more in the AI and big data realm, which is not the same as predicting what people are going to do so much as where it’s going to end up on a search page based on what people do. So yeah, that totally makes sense. Again, since we’re trying to tell a story that’s new in the world, we actually can’t rely very much on organic search traffic. We’ve tried, and it’s pretty tough. People aren’t searching for things. Getting a big placement doesn’t really drive much.

Ben:                 Right. So talk to me about some of the data sources that you rely on to come up with marketing trends and to analyze decision making.

Erik:                 Well, also two totally different things. Maybe talk about the marketing side. So we’ve, from the very beginning of the company, used marketing to help guide our understanding of the market. The benefit of using content marketing and social media marketing as a primary marketing vehicle is that we can put ideas out in an article, or in a LinkedIn posting, or a Tweet, or a whole series of Tweets, and see what sort of reaction we get. Basically, we tested in the market in real time, not just for what campaign messages make sense, but also even what sorts of business strategy approaches might make the most sense.

Erik:                 We were recently making a strategic positioning decision between emphasizing the underlying technology of a product or emphasizing the practices within a company. How do you make better decisions? How do you go faster? We were able to test that across Twitter, LinkedIn, and several blog posts on our own blog and other contributed articles, and looked across all of the different performance metrics for those campaigns. It was completely apparent that the decision practices, the idea of improving how you go about making decisions, was much more compelling, the strategy, than emphasizing the technology. That happened in a week. I don’t know how long … I don’t know we even would have made that decision without this type of information available to us. For me, the use of digital marketing as an intelligence tool for your business at the strategy level, at the business operations level, not just at the marketing level, is a incredibly important aspect. Certainly of smaller businesses, like startups like ours, but I think it should be used more frequently in general by businesses.

Ben:                 I think that’s a great insight in this sense of you can use your marketing to improve your decision making that not only feeds into your marketing strategy, listen to the signal that you’re seeing from how people are consuming your content and your social media and let that guide you in your more strategic decisions.

Erik:                 That’s right. Especially slightly longer form content, where you know that people are actually understanding what you’re saying. There’s not some risk that oh, that was just a red button, and that’s why they clicked on it. It’s a thousand word article. If you write ten different one thousand word articles and put them out there, and all of them that are about subject A underperform, those that are about subject B … you’ve learned something real. You know that the world is more interested in subject B. It’s not a fluke, it’s not something that you could have done for $150,000 in six months of market research ten years ago. You can do it in a week for $1000.

Ben:                 The speed of decision making is speeding up the complexity is also increasing. Erik Larson form Cloverpop, the decision making software, here to help you out. Erik before we let you go, anyone that you’re looking to meet, anything that we can help tell our listeners about that they might find value out of?

Erik:                 Well, we would love to talk with general managers, senior executives, and businesses that are fast paced markets, where decision making is a core capability that you’re looking to improve. We have done it for major technology corporations already, and we can certainly do it for you as well. So I’d love to have any outreach. You can come straight to our website,, our please reach out to me on LinkedIn, and I’d be happy to respond.

Ben:                 Okay. Erik, thanks for joining us. That wraps up this episode of the TrendSpotting podcast. Thanks again to Erik Larson, the founder and CEO of Cloverpop for joining us. If you’d like to learn more about Cloverpop, you can click the link in our show notes or visit If you’re interested in spotting more marketing trends or if you’re interested in Searchmetrics, the creator of the TrendSpotting podcast, click the link in our show notes to see our content archive, or you can go to If you have questions or if you’d like to be a guest on the TrendSpotting podcast, feel free to click the Contact Us form on Searchmetrics’ website. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast and are feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the iTunes store. If you like this podcast, and you want a regular stream of data driven marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next week, remember, it’s a data driven world, and the Searchmetrics is here to point you in the right direction.