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How to Leverage First-Party Customer Data to Drive Your E-commerce Business - Decile | EP. #99

August 23, 2023 | Author: Andrew Maff


First-party customer data plays a pivotal role in driving e-commerce growth. On this 99th episode of The E-Comm Show, Andrew chats with Cary Lawrence, CEO & founder of Decile. This customer data and analytics platform provides access to mid-sized brands to use first-party data to their advantage.

From creating a more robust customer profile to uncovering insights about customer behavior, Cary will discuss how Decile is helping businesses leverage their first-party data to drive more effective marketing campaigns and increase revenue. 

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Andrew Maff and Cary Lawrence

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Cary Lawrence



Cary is the CEO of  Decile, a customer data and analytics platform whose mission is to help e-commerce brands grow profitably. Decile spun out of  SocialCode in July 2020 where Cary was a co-founder back in 2010. SocialCode’s goal was to transform marketers into more responsive, data-driven institutions that connect more deeply with their customers. 


Prior to SocialCode, she worked in the Ad Innovations group at Washington Post Digital and served as a Program Associate at the Aspen Institute in the Communications and Society Program and has roots in the agency world. Cary holds a M.A. in Communications, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University and a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University and taught Digital Analytics in Georgetown’s PR and Corporate Communications program.


Cary lives in Washington DC with her husband Mark and two children.


Cary Lawrence  00:02

where you should try to learn as many different things as possible and I truly think that is the reason that today I'm a CEO


Andrew Maff  00:10

Hey everyone this is  Nezaar Akeel of Max Pro, Hi I'm Linda and I'm Paul, and we're Love and Pebbles. Hi, this is Lopa Van Der Merch from RASA and you're listening to and you're listening and you are listening to The E-Comm Show.


Narrator  00:30

Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr, the number one place to hear the inside scoop from other ecommerce experts, when they share their secrets on how they scaled their business and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew, Maff.


Andrew Maff  00:50

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host, Andrew Maff. And today I'm joined by the amazing Cary Lawrence, who is the CEO of Decile. Cary, how're you doing? Ready for good show?


Cary Lawrence  01:00

I'm doing great. It's great to talk with you this morning, Andrew,


Andrew Maff  01:03

Very excited to have you on the show. Thank you for joining us. As I'm sure you know, I love to do the very stereotypical thing and pretend that no one knows who you are. And no one knows anything about Decile. And give me a second here to kind of introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and obviously more about Decile we'll take America.


Cary Lawrence  01:21

That sounds great. Um, so yeah, so I'm Cary, I live here in Washington, DC married with two children. And Decile is a customer data and analytics platform. And it's kind of got an interesting history. I was actually the co founder of a company called Social Code, which was more of a digital performance marketing agency that we launched back in 2010. And as Social Code sort of grew and developed over time, there were components of that company that were functioning more like an agency. So there was the media, business, creative business and audio business. And then there was this little software business unit that I was running at the time. And that was where Decile was initially incubated. And then in July of 2020, so height at the start of the pandemic, we decided along with our corporate holding company, so as you mentioned, owned by Graham Holdings Company, that it made more sense to actually spin Decile out into its own company, we were starting to have a lot of success, in particular with more of those kind of mid market, econ brands, your sweet spot, of course. And so that was the initial birth of Decile. So we're still wholly owned by Graham holdings. And as far as my journey, you can probably tell, sort of multiple time co founder, I like early stage things I like building, I like trying to stay very close to the pulse of what's happening, kind of in the ecosystem. So that's always like a piece of advice I give to everyone is like no matter what your job, or where you are always tried to kind of position yourself in the area that you see growing quite a bit. So you know, if you find that you're working in a vertical or an industry or even a department within your company, that doesn't seem to be where the focus or the pulse is moving. I always say like, it's a great idea to try to kind of position yourself there. My other great piece of advice that I should say, I stole this from Anne Mulcahy, who's she's a former CEO of Xerox, very well known leader on tons of boards. And I once heard her speak. And she talked about the importance of horizontal learning. And I think this has really stuck with me, because I think so many people, especially young people, starting their careers, want to just quickly move up that career lattice and the exact same kind of vein where they started and what she had sort of shared, and that I also fully embrace is the idea where you should try to learn as many different things as possible. And I truly think that is the reason that today I'm a CEO, because when I started my career, I worked at an ad agency. And then when, you know, I worked at a nonprofit, a think tank. And then even in the early days of Social Code. We were you know, when we started out, we didn't have a finance team. So I was a business major. So they're like, Okay, Cary, you do all the accounting and stuff. So I learned the finance side of the business. I did an account management, I did product development. And I think that really kind of piqued my interest in wanting to build and run a technology company. I did agency partnerships, I've done sales. So I think like having experience across as many different categories as possible position to you for having a great career and to be a good leader.


Andrew Maff  04:36

Nice. So tell me a little bit more about Decile like how does it work? Who's using it? What are the benefits of it? Like what are the actual what would be reasonings? People would want to use it.


Cary Lawrence  04:49

Yeah, well, I think I should say like, our founding mission, way back in 2020, was to help brands grow profitably, and I think it's we laugh now because that's literally what Every one is saying now, right? They're huge, huge shift. And this is a big reason for why we developed a style initially to is it was a response to what I saw happening in particular with the the B2C ecosystem, because if you think like, you know, 1015 years ago, there was a, you know, the, the emergence of all these early b2c brands and the great promise of, you know, lower customer acquisition costs, because you could acquire customers very inexpensively at the time, you know, through like Facebook and Google, etc, you didn't have to have those very expensive overhead costs of kind of in store, but then over time, you know, it became a lot more crowded and a lot noisier. And digital acquisition costs started to really rise. So our premise is that marketers should leverage what we think is their most valuable marketing asset, their first party customer data. So at Decile, effectively, what we're doing is we're helping those brands to leverage their customer data. We're also enriching that data with additional kind of demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes to give a fuller picture of who these customers are, we're helping them to identify their highest value customers, because what we would always say is, you know, even if you don't have a subscription offering, you want to act like you do, right? You want those repeat purchasers, those customers who are going to really drive your brand. And that's what's going to help you grow profitably. Because what what started to happen back to my kind of DDC story is like, people were just acquiring as many customers as possible. No, you know, regardless of the cost or the long term value of those customers. So you even you think about like Uber and DoorDash. And we work like these huge companies, and then all of a sudden, their business models were upside down. And so we're trying to help them particular, to your point, mid market brands, provide them access to this technology, that's not always readily accessible to them at an affordable price point. But that really allows them to use that first party data to build and retain a more loyal customer base to optimize product strategies to help them know, you know, what should be bundled together? What's that sequential purchase journey? You know, how can you be smarter about growing profitably? And so I would say our sweet spot is really brands that are kind of, you know, anyone who has fast moving purchase data. So we work a lot with fashion, apparel, brands, health and beauty home goods, consumables, and typically in that kind of 10 to 200 million annual revenue space.


Andrew Maff  07:25

So it's essentially helping you build out kind of a more robust customer profile. Is that Yeah, I mean, I think got it. Yeah, I


Cary Lawrence  07:33

think that's part of it. So what like, One easy way to think of us is like, sometimes we'll say we're a CDP custom built for marketers. So as I mentioned, like our roots are really in the marketing world. So we started out, not just like, Okay, here's some analytics and insights from your data. And, and I think less about profiles, more about cohorting by any dimension, but also like, that's only as valuable to you is the ability to act on it. And also, so like, we have automatic integrations with all the app key acquisition and remarketing platforms. So we make it really easy to create those high value audiences onboard them. And the key, you know, whether it's your ESP, your SMS provider, or your you know, your acquisition platforms, we have an integration with Shopify. So it's an easy way to kind of keep that data refreshing, you know, on a regular cadence. So I think, yeah, ultimately, like I said, you need to leverage your most valuable asset, which is that customer data.


Andrew Maff  08:29

What are you seeing these different marketers and ecommerce sellers leveraging this data for? Or is it a lot of people leveraging it from an advertising perspective? Or, you know, setting up different campaigns? Are they using it for segmentation? Like, what's the use cases of it?


Cary Lawrence  08:44

Yeah, no, it's a great question. And part of that depends on kind of what their role is. So I would say when we're working with, let's say, like a product or merchandising manager, so they want to look at the data to say, okay, like, if I have a bunch of different product skews, I want to know, like, how should I think about bundling my various products to create the best subscription offering, for instance, or the best way to kind of showcase those for those prospects or customers, if you are, on the marketing side in charge of acquisition or retention, what they're really doing is, is leveraging the data to decide, okay, here are my highest value customers or personas. So another thing that we're able to do, it's not just take first party attribute, so think purchase behavior and value so we can tell, you know, automatically create these AI generated personas that have all your you know, the lifetime revenue of those, those personas, the average order value, but also those softer metrics that I kind of alluded to earlier. So you know, demographic psychographic behavioral so you might say like, for instance, for me, maybe a you know an urban mom with two kids, cares about you know, anti aging skincare products. Now add like, you know something more in that vein, whereas, maybe you're kind of like a hip new early adopter, and you just, you know, want some other product. So like, it's important to understand that customers are different, and they have different behaviors. So those developing those personas, allows these on the marketer front to develop more personalized marketing campaigns, and minimize waste. And when you think about it, why this is so important. So you know, SMS marketing is a huge new, you know, I would say marketing channel that sort of really took off in 2022, right, but it's a very intimate medium. So if I'm gonna get texted from a brand, like, I don't want to be blasted in my very personal communication, if I am going to get a text, I want it to be something that I've already had my eye on something that is now on sale, and that like, I'm like, okay, they know me, they, you know, it's something that it truly needs my attention that I need to buy this. Now. Another story that that might be interesting is, we worked with this, this high end textile provider, and we were looking at their data. And they were always showing like their highest volume product is the the first image in their marketing and their carousel. And so they continued to kind of drive a lot of volume to this particular product. But then what they noticed from looking at the data within Decile was it actually was not bringing in a high value customer over time, you know, and so what we did is we said, hey, look, your third most popular item here is actually bringing in a much higher value customer long term. So why don't we think about starting to showcase that in your creative and see what happens, and lo and behold, they made that very slight change based on what they learned from their data, and saw, you know, increase revenue of 20%, quarter over quarter. So just being able to be smart about how you market I think, for the finance folks want to use our E commerce Reporting Suite to do look at all the spaghetti charts, right, the classic like, you know, cohort data by any dimension. So you know, different users have different use cases. But I would say the folks that were most often like that, like heavy users are like heads of EECOM, the digital marketing folks, those are the four main stakeholders.


Andrew Maff  12:15

Interesting. So that that example you just gave. So basically, you're saying they had was it? You say it was like a banner on their site?


Cary Lawrence  12:22

Right? Well, no, like, I think it was they were using like, it was like a Facebook or meta carousel ads, what they were leading with. Okay, yeah, the first image that was shown it was bringing in a lower value customer for them. Yeah,


Andrew Maff  12:34

interesting. But it was one of their top sellers. So basically, they were able to figure out, even though it's bringing you the volume, it's not bringing the lifetime value.


Cary Lawrence  12:43

That's right. And I'm also in addition to bringing a higher value customer, I mean, it was that when they use their third most popular item that quickly became one of their most popular when you're advertising that you're gonna get people to start buying that. So, you know, it sort of fed into itself.


Andrew Maff  12:59

Interesting. Okay, so basically, it's healthy. And all of this data is this something that you mentioned is all first party data. So this is basically your pre existing customer list that you mentioned, you have an integration with Shopify, so you're able to kind of see, okay, here's all the different cohorts of customer profiles that you have, from people that have already purchased with you, this isn't something that is pulling in from any of the advertising channels, correct, it will we


Cary Lawrence  13:26

also connect with all the data from your ad platform, so that that also helps to provide things like our you know, CAC reports, customer acquisition and measurement, but honestly, it doesn't have to be an existing customer, it could be a lead, our system just needs some sort of match key. So that means we need to know that this is a real person, because everything is resolved to individual people. So you need an email address, home address, phone number, all that goes into our data integration process, all that you know, hygiene, it gets cleaned, cleaned up, we're also enriching that with those third party attributes. So we might know that Andrew, you also I'm obviously making this up, but you also love baseball, and you know, you love to go hiking. And so maybe those attributes also get appended to you. So and again, and then it all gets anonymized, when it moves into the analytics environment. So we understand you as a cohort. So Andrew Reza persona is, you know, outdoorsy male, who you know, lives in this region and tends to like to buy these products.


Andrew Maff  14:26

Interesting. So you're merging their first party data with the third party data to be able to get in more of that information about who that person potentially is. So that, I mean, my position would be the marketer so that the marketers can effectively put together more personalized campaigns and then target these audiences much better and then also be able to focus on whether they're looking for increased volume, increased average order value, improved LTV, whatever direction they want to go in.


Cary Lawrence  14:54

That's exactly right. And the other piece that's important is then tracking that over time, right? So what's nice is ever A new customer. So you on the marketing side, you're acquiring every new customer, they immediately get mapped to one of those personas. And then we track the volume of those over time. So one of the first kind of meeting engagements that we would typically have with a client is say, like, Okay, here's, here's what your, you know, your AI generated persona is, these are the four main personas you have. Now, look, this is the one these you know, let's say suburban moms are the most valuable to you, but they're not the highest volume, you want to get more of those. So we're going to push those into your platforms, maybe do a look alike off of those percentage try to get more of those people, and then see what happens over time, are you starting to bring in that higher value? Customer or it's also a great way to validate validate campaign success? So if you just want to say like, Hey, we're doing this whole new product launch or this brand launch? Who did that bring in? You know, is it bringing in the right kind of customer?


Andrew Maff  15:48

Yeah. Interesting. Okay. And so how is that tracked over time? Right? Because like, obviously, those cohorts are gonna change as more data is coming in. So are you able to kind of segment out the analytics and decipher like, Hey, this is how this cohorts been doing is how this one's been doing and track that over time? Or is it more of a blended thing? Like how does that work? Yeah,


Cary Lawrence  16:09

no, I mean, all happens within our within our platform. So as I said, like, as soon as you get acquired, you get mapped to a persona, and then you have these cohorts, and that data gets refreshed, you know, on a regular cadence, typically weekly is what most of our clients would do. And then you can start to see, you know, how those, how those customers are evolving or changing over time, but we have all of that data, whereas within our system, so it's, we're, you know, managing all that first party data.


Andrew Maff  16:37

Interesting. Now, who would be, what type of business would be the best fit for this? Like, I would imagine, you've got to have a pretty decent amount of data in order for this to really be leveraged, like, if you're, you know, newer seller, maybe you just shut up on Shopify, in the past few years kind of thing might not have as much data as necessary, or is it something that it's


Cary Lawrence  17:01

actually less than you would think we would typically say you need about 10,000 records of data. So that usually equates to someone who's maybe got annual revenues about, you know, one to $2 million, or north of that, and anywhere from, you know, we've had, you know, folks with 200 million records of data. So it can, we can, you know, manage either, but to your point, you kind of want to have at least 10,000 records, we also because of the third party enrichment piece, and not just the opportunity, the US based companies are, you know, the ones that can extract the most value from our system, because that third party enrichment is only for us, based customers. And then, you know, people who have several products, like if you only have a single product SKU, or you know, you're selling to other businesses, that's not going to work as well, because as I said, everything within Decile is based on, you know, known individual user. So the DTC folks are good fit.


Andrew Maff  17:56

Yeah. Interesting. So where what type of features are you rolling out? As time goes on here? What's kind of what's the goal of where you want this out to get to?


Cary Lawrence  18:07

Yeah, I think we just kind of released sort of a new kind of heightened version of our comparative analytics functionality. So there is like real time segmentation and comparison functionality within the platform. And what's nice is that we have the benefit of having such a wide client list that we've learned, like what a lot of those key use cases are. So more, I would say, out of the box, comparative stuff a lot more predictive audience. So we already have like highest propensity to purchase. As I said, like the personas, there's a lot of modelled audiences that we're going to continue to lean into. And then I think on the personas piece, as I said, we already have kind of like the source channel, the channel affinities, the product affinities, but I think also starting to look at kind of addressable universe, and like under giving more of that context. So a lot of I would say, more pushing into personas and the comparative analytics.


Andrew Maff  19:03

Yeah. How would that? Is there a way to get it to feed into or is there an example of like, you know, this is how this company did it or something like that, where, basically, they took some of this information, and were able to potentially integrate it or set up some kind of automations, where it personalizes the experience on their website, or something along those lines, like so you mentioned, you know, so and so like baseball. So if you're a sports, let's say, apparel company, and you've got baseball, and football and basketball, and all of them, like is there a way to feed that data somewhere else to a point where your website starts to adjust some of the copy or just some of the creative so that that persona can effectively kind of start to see exactly what they're interested in?


Cary Lawrence  19:47

Yeah, and I think you're the bigger point that you're making, which is a good one is like, you've got to be able to integrate with current workflows, right? Or no one's gonna want to adopt all this stuff. And so that is why so we sit also on snowflake we're integrating with snowflake. And a lot of these, you know, merchants are also starting to use snowflake as a data warehouse. So that makes it really easy to have these assets be portable. So if they say, Look, we want to kind of live within our own system, but we want those personas that you've built, like, you know, you sync those into our system. Yes, as I said, we are we also have API integrations with any of the ad platforms that accept ID level data, and this will get to your website. But this is important because, again, everything is like we truly believe and I personally like the world is moving towards identity based marketing, right? So we we can integrate with, you know, with Google Analytics, and we do have the web analytics that pulled through. I would say that but more identity based integrations are kind of where we're focused, same thing. So with attentive and clay, VO or to others, that we have automated integrations that make it very easy to kind of take those segments and audiences and port those over.


Andrew Maff  20:53

Yeah. Nice. That's awesome. Yeah. Cary, thank you so much for being on the show. Really appreciate it. I want to take up too much of your time today. But obviously, great information. Super cool. I'm gonna dig into it a little bit more, because I've got a couple of clients that this will be great for. But thank you so much. I'd love to give the opportunity here to let everyone know where they can find out obviously more about you and more about Tessa.


Cary Lawrence  21:13

Yeah, thanks so much, Andrew. This has been a lot of fun. So you can reach out to me directly. It's Cary cary@decile.com. So we'd love to hear from everyone and our website is decile.com Thanks so much.


Andrew Maff  21:26

Beautiful. Cary, thank you so much. Obviously everyone who tuned in thank you as well as per usual rate review, subscribe, all that fun stuff, or head over to theecommshow.com to check out all of our previous episodes but for usual, thank you all for joining and we'll see you all next time.


Narrator  21:41

Thank you for tuning in to The E-Comm Show head over to ecommshow.com to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or on the BlueTuskr YouTube channel. The E-Comm Show is brought to you by BlueTuskr, a full service digital marketing companies specifically for  e-commerce sellers looking to accelerate their growth. Go to bluetuskr.com Now for more information. Make sure to tune in next week for another amazing episode of The E-Comm Show.






























































































































































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