Year after year, marketing professionals are asked to do more with less. Generate more leads (or sales) and increase brand awareness, without spending more (or at best, not much more) money.
That means both B2B and B2C marketers are challenged to answer the same question: how can I know which marketing tactics are actually driving sales, so I can allocate my marketing budget more effectively?
Most analytics tools are limited in their ability to answer this. They mostly focus on first/last-touch attribution or attribution from a single source or channel, while being backward-looking rather than prescriptive.
After living this challenge for years and never finding technology that could deliver the insights they were after, two entrepreneurs set out to solve this problem. Here’s the story of Mike Lewis and Michael Weber, and the company they co-founded, Click360.
Tom Pick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to founders interview number 32 on Webbiquity.
This episode is sponsored by virtual event platform Shindig. Any platform will let you show slides—only Shindig enables your participants to network and mingle as naturally and spontaneously online as they could at an in-person event. Check it out at Shindig.com.
Today I’m talking to Mike Lewis and Michael Weber, the co-founders of Click360. How are you guys doing today?
Michael Weber: Very well.
Mike Lewis: Thanks for having us.
The Click360 platform is a “customer journey optimization platform.” It’s designed to help Click360 users understand, at a very deep level digitally, where people are coming from, what are they doing on the website, and who’s going to buy from the company and who’s not. And by extension, which marketing channels make that happen and which don’t.
It’s built to be a highly analytical platform in terms of being able to recognize sequences and patterns of behavior that indicate where those things show up in the customer journey that increase the probability of conversion.
It’s predominantly for marketers who have responsibility for a budget. They have to be judicious with where those dollars are allocated in terms of understanding where they’re best spent, what the best return on ad spend is, what channels drive the best behaviors.
And then for sales folks, it’s really just a matter of who’s going to buy and who’s not. It helps marketers make smart decisions about allocation of resources and efforts, and making sure those are hyper-focused on the most valuable behaviors throughout the customer journey.
Tom: So, it tracks multilevel attribution. How far do you go into that?
Michael: On the technical level, we track pretty much everything that happens on the website, as well as integrate that with transactional platforms like a CRM, marketing automation, and those kinds of things.
We basically pull all of those together, on the technical side, into a graph database which allows us to see end-to-end. A graph database is what Facebook and LinkedIn, and other platforms use to find these patterns of behavior, these connections.
We can do that on the multi-touch attribution side. We can apply any number of models, any number of cutoffs. You can go back, for example, a year and a half ago if you want and ask, “This is our customer journey, what are the events through it?” Or, you can go much lower or anything else on there.
The second thing we do is use artificial intelligence to identify patterns of behavior, once we have that end-to-end journey, and group those together to figure out what they mean. Think of this like a Netflix recommender: people like this watch these particular movies or behave in these particular ways, so they might like this, or they might be at this point in the sales cycle.
Those are the two things that we do from the technical side.
Tom: B2B, B2C, big company, small company…doesn’t matter? Where’s your sweet spot?
Michael: Good question. B2B was our original use case, because it’s a more complex sales cycle. One of our first customers is a $350 million public company. They have quite a bit of website traffic, and long sales cycles from six months to 18 months. So we started there.
We’ve also found more recently that these same challenges we thought were somewhat solved on the B2C side are really not. And so we’ve been moving into those. We’ve got a number of e-commerce clients as well. It’s a much simpler use case than in B2B, but you can definitely use a more powerful tool for this.
And so we are really hitting both of those. Size wise, you just need to have enough stuff going through your website that we can track stuff and measure the activity. E-commerce clients always have that. Some B2B clients have that. Some of them say they want to grow in that area, and will make the effort to track activity, to create content, and drive more website traffic. Those are really the clients we’re looking for.
But primarily, clients that either want to optimize web journey paths or really want to grow through their website are who we target.
Tom: Is there a minimum level of website visits, like they need like at least 10,000 per month, or some metric like that?
Michael: Even in a small company, we can track activity and get going with that. But 5,000 visitors would probably be a floor for where we can get meaningful analytics. It kind of depends on the depth of the website, how many pages you have. But if we had to quantify a hard line rule, that’s pretty much it.
Mike: Yeah, if websites are being treated as like a billboard versus a source of truth, then there’s probably really no need to make sense of those customer journeys. If there’s a lot happening offline versus online or the website isn’t where people are going to dig into information and learn about the business, that’s probably not the kind of company we’ll work with.
But then again, to Michael’s point, as you start around the bend on 5,000, 10,000 page views per month, and that’s because people are coming back and absorbing more content, looking for more information, that is where the behaviors start to give you a really good look at who’s going to be your best customer segment.
Michael: And then, a key point is we’ve also got customers that have multiple millions of visitors a month. So it scales very nicely and as intended. Since we’re putting numbers on, we’ll say, 5,000 to five billion.
Tom: Tell us a little bit each of you, about yourselves and a bit about your backgrounds, but mainly—what inspired you to solve this problem, and how did you come together and make that happen?
Michael: I can start on that. My background is kind of varied. I’ve run multiple businesses. I’ve got many degrees back here. Software engineering masters, data science masters, law degree, a bunch of other stuff.
And in running some of these companies originally, I was spending a lot of money on Google Ads and, you know—the more money I can save, the more beer money I have. So that was initially where I saw this problem.
At some point, I started working with what became our first customer on this. We were trying to find a way to figure out what the heck’s happening on this complex customer journey, multiple people, multiple devices, long sales cycle. And we just couldn’t.
We looked at all of the different platforms, all the big names which I won’t name here. We asked, can we get this, can we access the data? No, no, no. And the second thing we wanted to do was the data science on it.
So it started out as we just couldn’t get the data we wanted, in the way that we wanted. We could pull from transactional systems. We needed it analytical. So we set out to start collecting that, solve that problem, see what kind of lift we can get.
In large companies, if you can improve at 10%, it’s a huge amount of money. It scales very well. That was the original use case. We just couldn’t find this anywhere else.
As things tend to go, one thing leads to another. As we showed this to people, they would say, “This would be cool if we could do this other thing.” And so we started building it out.
My initial thought on this solution must have come a decade ago. But we had been working on the platform for several years and then decided okay, let’s start launching this.
And then I met Mike (Lewis), who is much more on the sales side. I’ll let him explain, but he really brings a lot of that perspective and I kind of came from more of the marketing point of view.
Mike: Good segue. I’ll condense it down. I came from a space in the advertising world; it was scatter-shot marketing. One of the biggest problems was marketers would spend dollars and hope something came back, and really not have any good way to prove this out.
So, for the last 20 some-odd years, I kept narrowing the focus on the kinds of platforms that were giving marketers the insight into understanding, “Hey, if I put $1 here that turns into $3 versus if I put here it turns into five.”
Then, about three years ago, Michael and I bumped into each other and I said, “What you’re doing is really cool. If sales people ever get their hands on this, the world will change.”
Over time, to his point about having a marketing background, what I’ve realized is that sales people win because of it, but it’s that marketer who gets the true win in terms of understanding where dollars are best spent and allocated.
And so, all of a sudden—I didn’t really notice it for a very long time—I’ve just been whittling down my ability to help marketers figure out where to really allocate their dollars to get that best return. And here we are.
Year founded: 2019
Funding rounds: Self-funded to date
Size: 15 to 20 clients. Recently added new channel partners, now at six or seven channel partners, which are businesses like digital marketing agencies or a growth marketer who has multiple clients they work with.
Tom: Obviously, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face when launching a new company is getting the word out because, at first, they don’t have a big marketing budget. When you first launched, when you first went to market with this, what methods, media, and channels did you find most effective for getting the word out and getting people interested?
Mike: I think one of the things that helped us really early on was the size and scale of network friends and family, people who really understood what we were doing.
And then, we had the good fortune of being in two accelerators here in the Twin Cities. The first was gBETA, which is part of gener8tor. The other being one that was founded here, BETA.MN. Those were great in terms of getting the word out, getting branding put together, and getting messaging done and making connections.
On the network side of things, finding people who could grab hold of what we were doing and then beat the drum, we’ve been very fortunate to have some really good friends in our network that have had loud drums.
Michael: Exactly. We’ve talked with everybody we possibly could. Some of them thought it was cool, some of them didn’t get it. I think it’s that way with any new company, especially, an analytics company that not everybody will understand.
But a lot of people really did connect on that, and they tell other people and we get a lot of, “you should talk to this person” as well as, “you should try this,” which are just goldmines.
So we didn’t do a massive PR Blitz or anything like that. We just talked to people, and asked them what they thought. And people are surprisingly, amazingly helpful, and really like to be involved. That’s been fantastic.
Tom: That’s sort of a form of influencer marketing. What about content marketing or any kind of online advertising? Have you put effort, time, money, into those areas at all?
Michael: Yeah, we’ve definitely been looking to develop more content. Because, of course, we optimize websites and we want to drive as many people through there as possible. We put a fair amount of money into explainer videos, these kinds of things. We’ve got one on the front of our website now that’s down to 60 seconds.
Can we get our message across in 60 seconds? Mike might be able to, but I keep talking and talking. So, we always want to do more content. Content is definitely hard, but it’s been very valuable for us.
Mike: And we’ve done a lot of co-branded content. People who are in the space who have a similar audience, are looking to solve similar problems, and are creating content,
I mean, that’s kind of how we’re here today, right? We wanted to put something together as a joint message and put that out into the world for anyone who’s trying to solve for some of these things right now.
Yeah, a little bit of content, and then there’s a little bit of eating your own dog food too, right? If we’re going to talk to people about optimizing the customer journey on their website, we’d better have people coming to our own website.
Tom: I think Mike, you and I initially connected at a BETA.MN event, and I thought it was really fascinating, especially, the AI aspect of it.
Mike: Yeah. It’s been fun. Think of how long ago that was just in terms of even what’s happened since then. The startup world is crazy like that.
Tom: And then I know that you had a session at the recent Twin Cities Startup Week (TCSW), which, of course, was all virtual this year. So live events when we could do them, and virtual events since then…
Mike: Right. That’s a fair point. So, we’ve done some accelerators, we’ve done a little content marketing, we’ve created some videos. We’ve been in some competitions. We’ve done some pitch events.
All those things have come together to build awareness. And then, yeah, some of those startup week-type events which are both informational and great exposure for the companies participating, I think TCSW had 10,000 viewers on some level this year.
Tom: Please finish this sentence: “Knowing what I know now, if I were starting over today, what I would do differently is…”
Michael: I can go first. I would start sooner. We spent a lot of time trying to make this perfect based on the idea and vision that we had for the product, which was predominantly right. But I think we could have started quite a bit sooner and just gotten it out there, and gotten a lot more feedback quicker.
The second thing would be—can I say two things? I can say two things. Find a guy like Mike.
I can bring a lot of the technical and all this other stuff, but Mike is just wonderful at knowing everybody. And that’s not something that’s necessarily my strong point. Find people who are good. You still want the same kind of vision but you do need good compliments for your skill set and interest in what you’re doing. Don’t literally find Mike though. He’s mine.
Mike: That’s great advice actually for any founder. And one of the things that…I think every year, TCSW has a session on how to find your co-founder.
And I would add not to assume that you know who you’re solving the problem for; that’s something that comes out over time. We’ve changed a few times on who that is.
Tom: That’s a really good point. I’ve seen that come up before.
Tom: Last question: what is the the most important advice you could offer to an entrepreneur getting started today trying to launch a company?
Mike: Feeding off of that “don’t assume you know who you’re solving the problem for,” is get that feedback, ask the questions, and then make sure you’re listening for those keywords and problems that you’re solving for—so that you don’t retread the same path. And then, maybe even find a mentor who’s already solved some of your problems.
Michael: Yeah. I think I kind of jumped the gun on that question with my previous answers. Co-founders are very important, but I’ll just keep going on a couple of other things.
The accelerators we’ve gone to have been very useful. Maybe 20% of it was not that helpful to us for whatever reason, but the majority of it is extremely valuable.
For anybody say in Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, we’ve got such a community here of people who will help you out. They’ll help you make connections. One thing leads to another, and then you’ve just kind of got the direction you want to go, but you have to basically go with the flow with a lot of other stuff. And, you know, that’s fun.
The final thing is, every day I wake up I do a lot of the development and everything else. Every day I wake up with 300 things that I need to do, and I can do three of them. So it’s this constant prioritization: what is the thing to do when we can’t do everything?
We can do anything, but we can’t do everything. What is the most valuable thing that I can do with today, this week, this month? And just keep doing that. And I think that leads you eventually to the most valuable path. So, do have a plan—but constantly reassess.
Mike: Yes. Start by asking what is the easiest thing that gives you the most value, and work your way backwards to what’s the hardest thing that gives you least value, and then prioritize. And then again, that’s feedback too.
Everything’s a data point, everything’s feedback, ask questions, get answers, repeat, iterate, listen, learn.
Tom: Right. So before we wrap up, anything else either of you would like to add?
Mike: No. I really appreciate that we’ve gotten the chance to have these kinds of conversations with folks like you. And as Michael just said, the Twin Cities has a great startup ecosystem. There are people who are looking to help. There are people who have experience and want to share that experience, and those teachings, with companies that are starting.
So hopefully, there are some tidbits and nuggets in this. But, no, I generally think there’s a lot of great stuff going on in Twin Cities Startup ecosystem and this is just an example of it. So thanks for having us.
Tom: That wraps it up. The last thing is: how can people connect with you, and where can they find out more about Click360?
Mike: So the website is www.click360.io, You can also reach out to myself [email protected] And we’re on LinkedIn (Mike, Michael, Click360), Facebook, Twitter, all the usual places.
Previous Posts in This Series
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #2: Scott Burns, Structural
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #3: Atif Siddiqi, Branch
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #4: Daren Klum, Secured2
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #5: Josh Fedie, SalesReach
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #6: Loring Kaveney, WorkOutLoud
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #7: Lief Larson, Salesfolks
The Founders Interview Series #8: John Sundberg, Kinetic Data
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #9: Amanda LaGrange, Tech Dump/Tech Discounts
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #10: Aba El Haddi, EnduraData
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #11: Michael McCarthy, Inkit
The Founders Interview Series #12: Mark Granovsky, G2Planet
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #13: Aric Bandy, Agosto
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #14: Amanuel Medhanie, Parsimony
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #15: Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals
The Founders Interview Series #16: Tracy Fuller, InnovativEvents
The Founders Interview Series #17: Peter M. Vessenes, ProfitSee
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #18: Alex Wise, Netpeak Software
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #19: Mary Kay Ziniewicz, Bus Stop Mamas
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #20: Lewis Werner, Quill Security Technology
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #21: Steve Pulley, Mortarr
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #22: Dustin Bruzenak, Modern Logic
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #23: Nicolas Wegener, AdBase
The Entrepreneur Interview Series #24: Amber Christian, Bella Scena
The Founder Interview Series #25: Tim Duncan, Innovative Construction Technology
The Founder Interview Series #26: Orrin Broberg, Modus
The Founder Interview Series #27: Payman Taei, Visme
The Founder Interview Series #28: Lonnie McRorey, Framework Science
The Founder Interview Series #29: Lynn Richardson and Brian Richardson, GateKeeper Systems
The Founder Interview Series #30: Stas Zaslavsky, VII Events
The Founder Interview Series #31: Taylor McKnight, Emamo
The post The Founder Interview Series #32: Mike Lewis and Michael Weber, Click360 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog | Webbiquity.