How Imajery uses data to prove value across the entire customer journey

In this data-packed episode of The Marketing Intelligence Show, Jessica Gondolfo, Head of US Regional Marketing at Supermetrics, is joined by Jay Sala, Founder and CEO, and Sanjay Mayar, VP of Growth, at Imajery. Together, they’ll reveal how Imajery uses data to acquire clients and build trust across the entire customer journey.

Tune in now!

You'll learn

  • How to leverage data to make smarter marketing decisions
  • Why client alignment is key to successful campaigns
  • The importance of clear & concise reporting
  • How to use Supermetrics to streamline your marketing data

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Transcript

Jessica Gondolfo:

Hi, I'm Jess from Supermetrics and this is the Marketing in Intelligence show, the podcast that empowers marketing leaders to work better with their data and make sure every marketing dollar counts. Now let's get into today's episode.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Hey there. Welcome back to the Marketing Intelligence Show. My name is Jess, and I'm the head of US Marketing here at Supermetrics. In today's episode, we're going to hear from two marketing experts, founder and CEO, Jay Sala and Sanjay Mayar, VP of growth at Imajery on how they are using data to prove value across the entire customer journey. So welcome guys.

Welcome to the Marketing Intelligence Show.

How are you guys doing today?

Sanjay Mayar:

Doing great. Thanks for having us. We're excited to be here.

Super happy to be here. Thanks.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Awesome. Before we jump in to the meat of this episode, Jay, you have a background in mathematics, so I'd love to talk about how you ended up starting a marketing agency.

Jay Sala:

Yeah, it's a long path, going in lots of different directions. So after high school, I didn't know what to do and I was looking at university and I couldn't really make a decision and I was always into computers, so I went and I started working in IT and became a network administrator, and I did that for a few years until my early twenties when I decided I did want to go back to school. So I went back and I studied math. I always loved math So I was very excited to go be back in school, whereas when I finished high school I was done with it. So it was a nice change of pace.  I was still in school, I started making websites with my brother.

He had a few clients and he needed some help making websites. So I started doing that and did that more and more and started working with a couple of my friends that I'd known for a long time, and the group of us were just making websites together. And so that was 2005 to 2010 about in that period. And then 2010 I started Imajery and we were a web dev shop originally making websites for people, and over time we saw that making websites is good, but getting people to go to the websites and do things is even better. Even better. So we started every

Jessica Gondolfo:

Marketer's pain point.

Jay Sala:

Yeah, exactly, exactly. So we started to running Google AdWords at the time, and we brought Sanjay on in 2015. And really since 2015, our main focus has been digital performance marketing, using data to drive results. Yeah, so over the last five, 10 years.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Nice. Is Imajery vertical agnostic or do you guys feel you have a niche somewhere?

Jay Sala:

No, we like working with lots of different industries. What we're focused on is growth, and so we want to help our clients achieve growth. We do have some overlap with clients, but we also don't want to be in a place where we're competing against ourselves. So we are selective in that case. So we really like doing e-comm and brick and mortar stores. The combination of the two is proven to be a great fit with Imajery. We're looking at numbers week by week and adjusting things and making suggestions for sales and how to get more people to go in store. So if I had to choose any sort of industry, that's what I would choose. We also do lead gen and all sorts of other things, but we have a few larger clients. That's their main focus.

Sanjay Mayar:

Growth focus is a really great way to frame it. We get asked this a lot both from clients and our platform vendors. Anyone who's not happy with their status quo and has resources and their business model sorted out is a great client for Imajery.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Actually, that's a great follow up to my next question because I want to know when people come to you, do they know what the problem is already or are they coming to you and they're like, I know I need you, I just don't know why I need you?

Sanjay Mayar:

It's a great question. So there are some clients that have very specific targets. So whether it be a top line revenue goal, whether it be they need to, they're doing a product launch, some clients just need more people walking through their front door and then booking appointments. So everyone comes in with a growth target and they're looking for us to solve it. In the exploration of solving that problem, we might uncover something else. So the issue is too much dependency on one channel or margin. So there's too much focus on top line growth and too little focus on efficiency and profitability. So we always start with that, whatever the germ of the issue is, and then from there we will work backwards to establish both how to solve it and then what are the other causes to that particular issue. So it's a great gateway into trying to define larger means to solve a problem, but also working with clients closely to figure out what we're really trying to cure and what we're really trying to do and what success really looks like. That's the best. That's how we keep our clients happy.

Jay Sala:

Sometimes we have clients come in and they're like, okay, we want to run ads on Instagram, and we might look at their overall goals and be like, you know what? Maybe we should start with email and maybe that's going to be more effective. So yes, people are coming in, they want growth. Sometimes they have a plan in mind of how they're going to do that, and we try to present a holistic solution for them. So we look at what they're trying to achieve and then we suggest ways to achieve

Jessica Gondolfo:

It back in from that way. Yeah, I mean a lot of marketing is not easy to solve, so that's why people work with agencies because you probably are bringing a level of expertise that they might not have with their internal resources or they don't have the internal resources is another one. So yeah, I think that that makes sense. I am interested in this customer journey topic because the incorporating data through your acquisition strategies and through obviously your client retention strategies is really interesting to me, I think, because I just never really thought about how agencies can use data to their benefit from that acquisition stage. So I love this power of data kind of story. And so Sanjay, before we maybe jump into that question, you're the VP of growth at Imajery. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your role? I had love to understand more about how you are impacting the strategic decisions for Imajery's client engagements.

Sanjay Mayar:

Yeah, no, a hundred percent. So with them, I come from a background where I've led the marketing departments at different startups in Montreal. Imajery was my first taste of agency life. I didn't really like agencies before I joined Imajery. I really wanted to do two things. One is based on everything I'd learned from leading different marketing departments in different companies, I wanted to bring that level of performance marketing, decision making and accountability to an agency. And then I wanted to work with people that get close to their customers and get close to their clients and almost act as stakeholders as well. So there's always been a distance between the agency's work and their accountability to that work, and I wanted to just shorten that gap and make that distance as small as possible. So it always starts with a particular skillset. So mine was Google ads and meta ads and email and all the digital marketing stuff, but the big through line was always just using data to make better decisions.

And that framework, the idea that information helps us decide things faster and be smarter has been the through line throughout everything we do. So whether it's Google ads, optimizations, email optimizations, whether it's presenting value to clients and customers and empowering them to make decisions, but also in clients seeing the value of working with us and working with Google Ads. So retention isn't a separate strategy, acquisition isn't a separate strategy. The idea is that we use data to make decisions and present value to clients as easily and as clearly as we can. So they themselves decide working with Imajery makes sense. Running Google Ads makes sense, running emails makes sense. So that's just incorporating that mindset, incorporating that through line throughout all our thinking so that it's ubiquitous in everything we do has been the real game changer.

Jessica Gondolfo:

When you are talking, so I mean this is something that Jay touched on too, which is a client might say to you, we really got to start running ads on Instagram, and you guys are saying, I think that we need to look at a different channel. How are you coming to that conclusion in the acquisition phase or are you coming in the acquisition phase? What data points? I guess my question is what data points are most important on these different steps of the journey?

Sanjay Mayar:

Oh, awesome. So one of my favorite courses I ever took in university was this skepticism course. I tell you, Jess, this course was tailor made for me for just somebody that could just be critical about everything that they're presented. And it was just a structured way of thinking of how if you're presented with something, whether an article you read or something in a book or somebody is telling you something, how do you examine it critically? And then the first idea is just to be skeptical with that idea. So anytime a client comes to us and says, this is our problem, this is what we want to do, this is how we think we're going to fix it, can you just quote us for that work?

We won't tell them yes, we won't tell them no. We'll work with them to look at how they're thinking, look at how they arrived at that conclusion. We'll provide our own framework of thinking as well, and then we'll tell them we think we should proceed. And then they're very much about working with a client sort of in alignment so that we both mutually come to a way forward. So we're not going to do something that we don't think is going to make the client happy, even if the client's explicitly asking us to do it. And we don't want to oblige clients to do things that they don't think is going to drive real results even if we feel strongly about it. And the way that our framework works is based on what is the business objective we're trying to solve and what's the most efficient and impactful way to solve it?

And typically we look at that through a framework of intent. So whatever campaigns we can run, be it on Google ads, Instagram, email, whatever effort we can run online that's going to drive the users with the highest intent, that have the highest proclivity to reach a particular client's business objective that's in line with those clients' resources. Then we'll do, and then once that channel is saturated or those tactics are saturated, we'll move on to the next grouping of intent campaigns and then we'll move on to the next from there. So if a client comes to us and says, I want to run Instagram so I can get a ton of followers and I really think followers is going to drive more people to my business, we might push back on that and then we'll say, what you're really trying to solve isn't the follower growth goal. What you're really trying to solve are more leads or more form fills or more downloads or more purchases or whatever that is. So here's how within your means for your business, here's how we think we can make that happen. Here's what we need from you, here's what you should expect from us, and then let's go. And if we're aligned, fantastic, it makes a really good fit. And if we're not, then we keep trying to work there and eventually get to some sort of consensus.

Jay Sala:

So I would just say also when we're speaking to new clients, how we make these recommendations, as Sanjay said, we're trying to figure out exactly what their goals are, but we'll recommend what we think is going to be the most efficient way for them to spend their marketing dollars. So putting out a TV commercial with your brand on it, very expensive, but it's not the first thing you would do. So we try to always spend every dollar as efficiently as possible.

Jessica Gondolfo:

And are there any trends in data that you see across your clients, whether it be an optimization perspective, how are you cutting the noise of every data point out there to be like, these are the most important things and this is what I'm looking at, this is how we're driving growth.

Sanjay Mayar:

It's incredibly challenging. So there's this thing, especially senior leaders and people like C levels, no one's happy with the level of data they have. I've never met a client who came in and said, I have the best suite of dashboards. I can pull up any report that I want and have with easy immediacy and a quick look. I know exactly what's going on and I feel really, really super strongly about it. It's always this uphill battle, whether it's data quality, whether it's the report's too busy, it's got too much noise, it's always something. There's so many. Once the landscape is changing, and two, just everyone's adopting this decision, data makes for better decision making that makes a smarter ideal. And it comes with a ton more data and often it can impede decision making just because there's just too much. So clarity and being concise is important.

It is massively important. So we really align with what the business objectives are and then try to identify that towards a particular KPI. Right? So it's not revolutionary thinking, but we start with simplicity. What is the business trying to do? What is the KPI that we can use quantitatively to measure that business objective? And then how do we translate that to the particular channel? So with e-comm, typically it's revenue and ROAS. We've also introduced ideas like POAS, so profit on ad spend. We've also introduced, we try to make clients understand the relationship between an average order value and conversion rate and how that's going to affect them longterm as well. So when we look at data we're trying to solve for particular problems, if we're looking at a revenue problem or an efficiency problem, that's one set of metrics. If we're looking at a campaign particular issue, so outside the scope of how users are purchasing once they're on site, then we have a separate suite of KPIs for that.

If we're looking at email, we have a separate suite of KPIs for that. We really try to keep things tight and clear and concise for the particular channel for that particular problem that we're trying to solve. And there've been challenges. So migrating to GA4 has been a challenge, and it's really how we started. It's really, I think we, we've been able to migrate pretty successfully and with not too much friction in large part to our partnership with Supermetrics. So migrating to GA4 opened up this whole suite of new problems and new challenges to solve, one of which was how do we make reporting simpler and easier and clear using new platforms like GA4, our solution was to use Google Looker Studio in order to pull reports, specifically dashboard reports for clients, how's everything in BigQuery, and then use Supermetrics to help with that process. So again, it started with this idea of reporting should just be simple and clear and help people make decisions, be smarter and how do we reduce the noise? And then Looker Studio made a lot of sense. BigQuery, empowered Looker Studio and then Supermetrics empowered the ability to populate Looker Studio with data.

Jessica Gondolfo:

I'm definitely going to jump into that. You mentioned POAS profit on ad spend. What is that?

Sanjay Mayar:

So everyone understands the an ROI calculator, everyone understands a ROAS calculator. Pretty easy to get to profit is looking  the actual net dollars that a client will get on a particular transaction or on a particular campaign or on a particular channel, subtracting cost of goods sold. So we're taking into account not just the return on ad spend that a client would get on a particular transaction, we're actually taking into account what their margin is. So what that means is we can take that data and then feed it back into Google Ads so that Google Ads can start making smarter bid decisions either more aggressively or less aggressively for users on CPC, et cetera, based on what's going to maximize profit. So maximizing profit, if we push the thought experiment, if we could go to clients and say, we're trying to maximize the amount of profit that you'll get from every single transaction, ideally if we're able to do that, budget would be infinite. So if we could drive, if we could just continue doing that, that's been our real big push there to just help clients see the real utility that Google ads can do and meta ads can do by adopting this profit first as opposed to top line revenue first. KPI.

Jessica Gondolfo:

What do you recommend or what do you see as being a healthy margin?

Sanjay Mayar:

It really depends for different clients. So oftentimes clients will sacrifice total revenue in order to just to entertain healthy margins. Other times there are products that can act as gateway or loss leaders to drive consumers in. And then once they're in, we can remarket to them either through email or through ads to get them to repurchase. So it really depends on each business and what their immediate issue that they're trying to solve, as if you need cashflow and you want to take a lower margin in order to make that happen because you need to fund other things, we'll shift our campaigns accordingly in order to meet that business subjective. And if everything else is healthy, there's a really strong remarketing program that's happening. LTV is great, everything is working in terms of a cyclical marketing funnel, but we see that we're losing efficiency on certain media buys and we need to pay more attention to margin and order to be sustainable than we'll adjust. It can't be as accordingly. So there's no one size fits all. It's really about where that business is, how much

Jessica Gondolfo:

They are, where the client is

Sanjay Mayar:

A hundred percent, and all the other factors as well. So Jay said the word holistic, and that's the other thing that data helps us do is not just look at everything through sort of this prism of Google ads, meta ads, email only, right? No business thinks that way. No, CMO thinks that way. They're trying to solve for everything and marketing media buys are a part of that, not the sole part. So the more we can integrate data into all sorts of decision making, the better. So I mean these types of conversations are great. Honestly, we have better relationships with CFOs now that we can talk about margin and efficiency and ROAS than we used to. I don't mean us specifically. I think marketing in general. So marketing's not cheap market, not it's an expensive line item. And the more we can speak to viability, consistency, scalability, sustainability, and how we're meeting the larger business objectives, the easier it is for everyone to see the value we drive and to continue to fund their ad spend.

Jessica Gondolfo:

That's a whole new podcast. How to make the CFO give you more budget? No, that's great. That's great. Yeah,

Sanjay Mayar:

Close to your CFOs and make them your friends and allies.

Jessica Gondolfo:

That's how they do that. Yeah. Have your CFO give you a thumbs up. That's like every market's dream, I swear. And if I had a dollar for every time that I had to change a dashboard or didn't like the dashboard or was told there wasn't enough data in a dashboard, I'd be on the Forbes top 10. So that's accurate. From a customer journey perspective, are you agreeing on what numbers are important during acquisition and does that change over the lifespan of a client or how are you guys setting those goals and then weaving other parts of data into those?

Sanjay Mayar:

It absolutely changes depending on what the business objective is. So if it's a more mature business, and like Jay was mentioning, we deal with a lot of omnichannel clients with brick and mortar stores. Sometimes we want to understand the relationship between an online effort and an offline action. So every dollar invested in ad spend, what does that mean for store visit, store purchases? And then all of a sudden we can have different conversation for acquisition in that. Are we trying to drive an e-com only? Are we trying to help the e-comm environment only or are we trying to support and possibly just really contribute to larger purchase areas? Same thing with LTV, right? So sometimes we can look at, okay, we really want to drive in new buyers, new buyers is what we want to do, but we also want to make sure that the buyers are coming back so that the dollar spent in acquisition just has more muscle in terms of a longer value for the client. Even the new buyer versus existing buyer conversation shifts all the time. So businesses don't want to pull too deeply from the existing well of buyers and ignore their growth pipeline is super important. And at the same time, too much focus on pipeline can just yield to unwieldy attribution. So how much investment in our YouTube campaigns or our meta ads campaigns, what does that really mean down funnel? Again, data, data can help make these decisions easier.

They don't dictate strategy. So strategy needs to come from the business itself. What problem are we trying to solve? What does success look like? And then data is going to help us

Sanjay Mayar:

Different tactics. Exactly, and then show success and again, help make decisions faster. But it's the difference between a data informed approach versus a data-driven approach. And so we really believe in, we tend to use it interchangeably. We're guilty of it, but certainly a data informed approach means that data is an asset in your decision making. It's not the exclusive resourcing in your decision making.

Jay Sala:

Yeah, it's a way we measure things. I think going off what Sanjay said is knowing what success is, right? So when we're talking to a new client and we're trying to figure out what we're going to do, we ask what's success? What would make it worth it for you to spend these marketing dollars and what does that mean? And when we have very concrete goals like that using data, then it's very clear if we're doing a good job or not. So just being aligned with our clients on what success is and then using data to measure if we've made it past the post is super valuable.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Is that what you're bringing back to your client in more of a tangible way? You're just bringing, Hey, here is the data that you need to know that these campaigns are working or that why we're shifting strategy? Is that what you guys are talking about with your clients?

Jay Sala:

Yeah, I mean on the technical side, yeah, we are helping them figure out measurement and to understand these numbers coming from platform A versus platform B and what do they mean? But the day-to-day value that we add is our team is looking at those numbers and how we can set the goalposts and have continue. Sanjay said, it is always evolving, so we'll have a back and forth with our clients and maybe in Q1 their goal is one thing and Q4 it's something else. So it's an ongoing

Jessica Gondolfo:

Process. It shifts.

Jay Sala:

Yeah.

Jessica Gondolfo:

If it's okay that we circle back to Supermetrics, so you used Supermetrics first to bring data into Looker Studio and then you moved into our BigQuery solution. So outside of bringing the data into BigQuery, was there a reason why you made that shift? Yeah,

Jay Sala:

Sure, sure. We started using Supermetrics for Google Sheets and Supermetrics for Looker Studio. It was a way for us to pull information into a platform that we could report or model with and play around with the numbers, and it was bringing multiple channels into one place, consolidating our data, so then we can look at the bigger picture. So we started doing that with Looker Studio and Google Sheets, but there was two things that pushed us towards the BigQuery solution. One is Looker Studio pulling from a bunch of different channels and then blending data together there made our reports very, very slow, and so we wanted our reports to be something that the CEO is opening up every morning and has there and is flipping through and has access to the data they're interested in. So we wanted to have lightning fast reports, so that was one of the reasons we moved to BigQuery. The other thing is data ownership. Universal analytics was being sunset. That data is being deleted with GA4, the lookback,

Jessica Gondolfo:

It's two years.

Jay Sala:

Two years. Yeah. It's less than forever. And same with meta too. The privacy's become more of a concern for everybody, so to be able to consolidate all that data and then give our clients access to that data and that they own it and they're not, if they want to go look back to how things were pre covid, we want them to be able to do that. There could be valuable insights there because the market's changed a lot over the last few years, so we wanted to persist that data and BigQuery was the way to do that. And using Supermetrics to feed BigQuery, it was just like a no brainer

Jessica Gondolfo:

In terms of what the business aspect or business impact is on, I know it's a little bit of a loaded question, but your agency is so focused on this data journey from the acquisition and through retention, so having Supermetrics kind of power all of this reporting for you, what do you think the business impact is for you for having Supermetrics as a product in your agency?

Jay Sala:

Yeah, I mean it improves our reporting and understanding what's happening with different campaigns.Jessica Gondolfo:

In terms of maybe the time saved too, are you able to allocate your internal resources time to different projects because they're not doing this? I've heard the reporting squirrel term so many times, but is that something that was from a cost perspective on your end? Was that something that you were looking at too?

Jay Sala:

Yeah, so previously we had all of our paid media specialists doing the reporting, and so that was taking a lot of their time and it's great for them to understand that reporting and what's happening, and we still encourage that very much. We want our entire team immersed in data and to be data literate, but bringing super metrics on and automating all this, it just saves so much time. We also, we hired a data lead who manages all the reporting and coordinating that and working with Supermetrics, and so that has taken our data lead and Supermetrics together has taken a large workload off of our performance marketers. I mean it, it's a huge amount of time that it's saving us.

Sanjay Mayar:

I beg your pardon. There's this line that I keep thinking about when people talk about AI, and I know the Gulf between Supermetrics utility and chat AI models are totally different, but there's still an analog and it's like what's the line that AI bots have it wrong? It's not that we want AI to paint pictures and write stories so that we can do more laundry. It's that we want AI to do laundry so we can paint more

Jessica Gondolfo:

Pictures, paint more pictures.

Sanjay Mayar:

Yes. Right. And that's exactly how I feel Supermetrics has helped. It's just taken sort of the more mundane but necessary work of managing the data so that we can shift our resources towards analytics and analysis and real business intelligence, which is really our principal utility.

Jessica Gondolfo:

That's amazing because it is, it's a really big part of your agency and it's a main service that you guys have, so that's awesome. Was there a specific point in your journey from the Looker studio standpoint where you knew it was time to have a tool like Supermetrics?

Jessica Gondolfo:

Bring on GA4. Did you come a time where you're like, Hey, we can't do this manually anymore. We got to bring in a tool to

Jay Sala:

Type this stuff in the looker

Jay Sala:

Blending the data and being able to look across channels, that's what really we want to be able to compare apples with apples and supermetrics let's us do that. So once we started managing more channels for our clients, I mean Supermetrics just became impaired.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Could grow with you.

Jay Sala:

Yeah.

Jessica Gondolfo:

Yeah. That's awesome. I have one last question for you guys, if that's okay. A little bit of a high level question, but if there's one piece of advice that you can give our listeners for something they need to do asap, a top trend that you really believe in or that you're seeing from a digital marketing perspective or data perspective, what would it be?

Sanjay Mayar:

I like this. You want to go first, Jay?

Jay Sala:

Yeah, sure. I'll go first. I'll go first. I think understanding what the important data is. We talked about this a little before, knowing what success is. We can collect tons of data. I could collect how far somebody scrolls down a screen or how much they play in a video or how many pages they jump to. But if there's no action to take on that data, then it's noise. It's noise. So sure you can collect it, but don't make sure you're looking at the correct things to achieve the goals you want and to ignore all that other noise.

Sanjay Mayar:

Yeah, brilliant. Exactly. Is that from my point of view? Even ask me about my background, Jess. That's okay. I started off as I started off, I always wanted to be a writer and I did a number of different things, but I did my BA in journalism and the thing that, so as far away from statistics and intelligence and Google Ads, wizard Dream, stuff like that as can be. But what I really love about data and what I see potentially as an issue is using data as the be all end all and using it as a crutch when speaking with clients. Data should help your narrative. Data should inform your narrative data should help you tell your story. Your story is exactly what's going to get clients to see the things the way that you do. It's going to help you understand how you can best serve your clients as well. And it's going to help you make sense of everything You have, all the ad options, all the channel options everywhere you can spend your dollar, and then the mountain of information that comes with that, weaving that into a cohesive focused story, a narrative that you can then share with your clients and then together arrive, like Jay said together, arrive at a consensus on action is the most important thing. So data is a part of that and it's not the exclusive part of that. Use data to help tell your story.

Jessica Gondolfo:

That's awesome. I can relate to both of those things just being in marketing for so long because there are so many data points to Jay's perspective when you can have all of them, but if they're not the right ones and you don't really understand what you're trying to do, then you just end up for hours and hours coming down and being like, I found this number. And you're like, I don't really know what it says, but I got to it. And then it's true. My CMO it, everything that we do, everything that we do is like data has to tell your story, it has to tell our story, it has to be something that we're telling other people. We have to build our narrative that important for them. So yeah, I am a hundred percent and thank you for circling back to your background end of podcast. I feel like we start with an opener. We start with the closer. It's been great. I can't thank you guys enough for coming on the podcast today. It's been a great conversation. 

Jay Sala:

Yeah, us too. It's been such a pleasure. I really thank you very much for inviting us on.

Sanjay Mayar:

Yeah, it's been great talking to you, Jess, really appreciate it.

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