Why the Best Data Stories Start and End with the CEO: Alex Cruz from Penpath.com

If you want to talk to a man who makes amazing dashboards and who knows every marketing KPI strategy possible, then the first person you should talk to should be Alex Cruz. However, even Alex Cruz knows that these are just baseline expectations that any analytical solutions provider could offer. Regardless, don’t think for a minute that Alex Cruz isn’t willing to go the extra mile as well. He knows that spending money on data is easy, but his main interest is making money on data. That’s the bottom line, and Alex Cruz recently discussed his line of work with Chris Tauber of Execs Magazine on how he sinks his teeth on that endeavor. Here are some of the questions that Tauber asked him:

There are many businesses that are overwhelmed with data these days. How do you combat that with your PenPath company?

Well, there’s always been a business side of me, and that has led me to one of the most important questions in my line of work: what does any of this mean? Of course, there is always a creative side of me that will just focus on the story regarding the data. However, you do need to pay close attention to the charts and the metrics as well. Keeping that intersection in mind is a good way to not only be creative, but to inform and persuade as well.

One case in point would have to be when I started a marketing agency when I was younger. It didn’t take me long to discover that data would go much better if you had optimized performance to go along with it. This is part of the reason why I created PenPath, a marketing intelligence agency, to help all organizations utilize their data in the best means possible. Bringing it all together to show the story is one of the most important parts.

What is one of the best “Aha” insights from your data investigations?

We have all kinds of “aha” moments. First of all, we started a website in college called livingthecollegelife.com in my earlier entrepreneurial days. Of course, that may have been that creative. [Laughs]

Anyway, most recently, I was managing writers across a broad swath of the country, and we were definitely obsessive over keeping track of the attribution channels for all of the content. One of the biggest things for us in the early days would had to have been Google organic search. Additionally, we would analyze it along with the content, and we even ended up creating new guidelines. This transformed the administration of my business. That, my friend, was the genesis for PenPath.

Okay, what is one story that has really helped a client?

One of the earliest clients that we had in St. Louis was highly interested in being data-driven, but they weren’t sure what the meaning of that was. For example, one of the main tasks they had was to attempt to turn their information into actions that would improve their business. Our first step was to talk to their leadership team and find out about any strategic goals or data that they might have.

One of the first things we did was attribute their sales to an acquisition channel, and this ultimately led to us utilizing Bing as a surprising driver to expand their revenue. It ended up being their third biggest channel. However, there was one small problem….their marketing budget for Bing was literally zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Of course, part of the reason why Bing was so attractive is that it was appealing to an older demographic that will still be using Microsoft PCs. Additionally, these were customers that were apt to search very quickly and then make a purchase. This was a high conversion rate and we used our eCommerce dashboards to find that.

Once we told that story to our new client, and that caused them to change their marketing budget. This caused them to have an immediate sales increase and an extremely dramatic year-over-year lift. In a nutshell, this wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t discovered these insights into the behavioral patterns of this customer demographic and digital marketing dashboard examples that show the most valuable metrics.

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