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Q&A: Securing investment in the digital sector

Daniel Titterton, CEO of Pi Datametrics, talks deep-dive data analysis and securing investment in the digital sector.

  1. What element of digital marketing should be a priority for businesses in 2016?

Turning performance data into insight and action is a significant challenge for digital marketers. Businesses that build an intelligence and insight driven culture are better prepared to shape and add context to the processes that support creative thinking. At Pi Datametrics we use the word “discovery” to describe the experience and journey in finding insights within data. Creativity is not something that business leaders should outsource to an Agency. Any business that does not use and share intelligence on an operational level and on a strategic level, needs to prioritise and address what will become a significant barrier to progress. Aside from the internal processes, the priority should be to create relevant, authentic and engaging content. Great content leads to strong engagement and this quite simply provides the foundation for effective customer acquisition and business development. Optimisation of content on a thematic and architectural level gives investments the best chance of achieving the apex goal, a brilliant, consistent return.

  1. What is the most common failing on business websites that can have a negative impact on search ranking?

The digital landscape is changing rapidly, any website that is not built around the principles of flexibility and change may start well but will meet stumbling points. I’ve been in the digital marketing business since 1998 and there is a legacy issue for some of the biggest brands. This is surprising because these are businesses that many would imagine are capable of excelling in building successful environments due to their experience. In truth however, they spend big on upfront creative and build projects, and reserve little for the development and optimisation of content.

This causes significant barriers to achieving organic search traffic success, as success for the largest proportion of inbound traffic prefers a methodology of sustained building rather than that of an explosion. Of course, if budgets permit both, attitudes to growth will provide a significant advantage. Failure to provide the right energy to maintain content creation, typically results in sending marketing managers straight into the gleeful hands of traditional paid media methodology.

Don’t get me wrong, paid media has a huge role to play, the most successful campaigns we’ve seen as a business use all media methods for their relevant virtues.

Once the core principles are in place, I think all businesses would benefit from reviewing attitudes towards:

  • The value of excessive retrospective static reporting over live data exploration and insight discovery.
  • Treating performance data and the tools that allow you to explore data as a commodity.
  • Nebulous big data views and out of context micro detail. All big picture views should allow the user the drilldown to detail in context.
  1. What is your number one piece of advice you’d offer businesses striving to be noticed online, particularly as the online advertising climate becomes more competitive?

There is no silver bullet and therefore no single thing to concentrate on other than the fact that those businesses that have grown from small startup businesses into dominant online winners share common behaviour, they innovate and have the capacity to adopt change rapidly. Think about ASOS in the fashion sector or Skyscanner in travel. In the world of big business Tesco invested heavily in its online capabilities, the distance they put between themselves and their competitors has enabled them to significantly leverage this to support them in tougher times, whilst the competitors still win big.

The best recommendation would be to ensure you budget enough to give your online business the ability to constantly create, analyse, innovate and publish. Performance will then be purely a quality matter relating to content, message, product and or service.

  1. Do you think there is a fair distribution of investment across the whole digital scene? In terms of sectors, specialisms and regions?

Investment comes in many forms. Tax reliefs, Angels and EIS funding, Debt / Loans, Venture Capital, and most critically digital marketing budgets. Businesses need to work with all investment opportunities and consider which will support them most. In most cases the ability to gain investment is down to the business building a compelling investment case. This logic also applies to marketing budgets. The marketing budget landscape is in rapid transition and has been for some time. Budgets are trying to cope with an ever-increasing need to create content and deliver accessibility to this content. What is new now is that the visibility of content isn’t simply a case of who pays the most wins. This offers up a challenge, and for marketing directors and brand directors the most ambitious of them will embrace this state of flux and assign investment.

  1. What should other British mid sized digital businesses be doing to generate similar levels of investment that you’ve secured for Pi Datametrics?

I think it’s easy to post rationalise why some businesses gain investment and why some don’t. I could say the focus should be on the articulation of a proposed size of market, the market need, how the business can meet those needs and how unique the proposition is. Then you deal with all manner of credibility issues around team members and the business model / plan. I think all businesses will think they have a handle on these elements so it is my feeling that when you start your funding campaign you need to be confident, very resilient and most importantly listen to feedback. During an investing process a business will get a lot of advice from disparate third parties: some is relevant and valuable, whilst some of it doesn’t really add up, but that is not to say the advice is not constructive. What is critical is that the management team learn how to listen and filter objectively. The more times you filter your proposition and build success proof points in operating your model, the better the sentiment and options will be for gaining investment.

  1. How do you plan to use that investment? What is the focus for growth?

The investment will be spent on what we believe to be the core drivers of success. Central to this is a brilliant product that both anticipates and meets the operating needs of our customers and also challenges them to think differently, in doing so, gain a competitive advantage by using data to explore ideas. Achieving this involves investment in technical development processes as well as traditional marketing and more modern principles of product education.

Pi Datametrics’ investment growth can be articulated, at the top level, as ensuring our clients and prospects discover what their respective potential growth can be and then provides an intelligence environment that enables them to meet that potential.

Our continued commitment to the above principles has allowed us to play a central part in helping some of the world’s biggest brands to maintain and grow customer revenues as well as open international markets. Our brand presence has allowed us to build an initial customer base in North America and we will be adding to the tiers of service we can offer those customers by building strategic and support services in those markets.

Asia Pacific with a focus around China is an exciting prospect that we are exploring. China’s growth may be slowing, albeit temporarily, but it is the second largest economy in the world and that will not change any time soon. We are in great place to help China’s businesses explore the potential of European and North American markets.

  1. Why did you create and then seek funding for the Pi Datametrics platform?

Over the past 10 years SEO has evolved into a very exciting business. While Pi Datametrics is only 2 years old as a product we have been in the search intelligence space for over 10 years. During this time we built an understanding of what drives real sustainable success.

Until recently our content and data driven approach was hampered by the poorly considered and opportunistic link building service that dragged the category into a commodity trade.

Google finally came good on its promise and started to crack down on this short-term hacker mentality. This opened the door to a more sustainable, ethical approach to SEO that when practiced, will drive the greatest reward. An approach that puts data, research and insight at the forefront is what Pi Datametrics does really well.

With all innovative services that use technology there is a big requirement to not only deliver an excellent product but also to educate how and when to use it. Building capability and resource, at the level that meets our ambition, needed investment.

Daniel Titterton, CEO of Pi Datametrics

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Miriam Doerr