“Digital technology actually opens up an opportunity for personalised automation in a way not previously possible.“
Insightive.tv: What challenges do you face when reaching your target audience?
Didier: We help people collect data and use that data to better understand people. This market is actually relatively opaque — everyone says that they are an engagement platform, but some are actually rewards and recognition platforms, some are analytics platforms and some are different things entirely. The terms aren’t even necessarily used with universal consistency. It can take the air out of a conversation when people get confused about what the terms mean. From the beginning, we have been focused on helping people in companies everywhere start to think about using data to improve culture. The breadth of this goal is a challenge because we are effectively competing with everything for the attention of stakeholders.
Generally speaking, our approach is to educate. This doesn’t mean going around and declaring that all other platforms are worthless — rather, we provide information that companies can use to understand the available technology and think about what is right for their organisation. We are working to create what I call a community of “People Geeks.” A People Geek is somebody who cares about people and culture and wants to approach it in a new way — wants to use data, be agile and wants to iterate and repeat. We are essentially looking for people that know there is a problem, but don’t have the materials to fix it. Once they begin the journey of education, they want information, ideas and inspiration that they can use and apply to their business — we provide these things.
We don’t think about this purely from a sales perspective. Rather, we think about how to create a community of “People Geeks.” Once somebody is a People Geek, then we can actually start talking to them about our platform. We want to create a community to which people can belong because once they are a part of that community, whether they become a customer or not, that gives us the best possible chance of being the tool they want to use as a means of improving their engagement.
Insightive.tv: What marketing channel is currently your most productive in terms of education and engagement?
Didier: Events have been a differentiating strategy for us that I would call crucial to our expansion. By that, I mean everything from five to six people up to a full day conference. We use those opportunities to bring people together and generate a conversation — some of which we start, but a lot of which just occurs naturally. We also use online web seminars, but there is an added value in giving people a physical place to share ideas. Either way, the strategy revolves around getting our message out to people who want to hear it.
But this is only one link in the marketing chain and I think it is a mistake to look at a sale as resulting from just one marketing channel. For example, we have a weekly email called the People Geekly that around 40,000 people read. We collect information from people at events and are able to continue communication via methods like this.
I think the events stand out in importance because a lot of our marketing funnel works off the back of the information and initial engagement begun in those venues. But this, of course, is in addition to all the traditional digital marketing strategies — SEO, SEM, paid searches and website options that push people through funnels, etc. But the events drive the community in which we sit inside. The key thing that you have to have is a perspective that people want to think about and be part of.
Insightive.tv: There is a lot of talk in the marketing community about personalisation versus automation — where do you stand on this issue?
Didier: My main philosophical perspective on marketing is that if I want the right to talk to you, then I need to give you something — I need to give you a reason to want to talk to me. I think that a whole range of marketing strategies that fall within the personalised and automated spectrum can be utilised with effect if that principle is kept in mind.
I think that digital technology actually opens up an opportunity for personalised automation in a way not previously possible. With traditional methods, for example, you had to print everything, so it all had to be done at scale. Now, when you come to our website, we know if you have been there before and what you looked at. Based on what you do, I can adjust my messaging so that it, hopefully, is closer to your interests. I think that the key to using any of these techniques is to not think about them from the point of view of your company, but rather from the point of view of the customer.
I think that what is important to businesses, and therefore important for marketing, is the alleviation of pain points. Discussing products in that context is often the most direct means of cutting through the complexity of a product, or the noise of a market. This is often a very personalised process but can be done with a degree of automation. We do primary research and analyse that information to find underlying company, sector or industry-specific pain points, and we continually change our messaging based on the feedback we receive from the market. Looking to see which words people pick up and use back to you is crucial to finding the best way to convey an idea.
This all comes back to creating a community. Our goal is to foster a community of people that want to create a better place to work. Because our product genuinely helps people use data to improve their workplace, all we need to do is get them thinking about that idea. If we get them invested as People Geeks, they will go to the trouble of understanding the market and make the best choice for their organisation.
Didier Elzinga is CEO and Founder of Culture Amp. He is also the founder of Rising Sun Research and was CEO of Rising Sun Pictures for over a decade. Didier started Culture Amp to make the world a better place to work and empower a growing culture-first attitude in businesses. Since its founding, Culture Amp has built a community of People Geeks to help foster a more responsive and dynamic work environment. We spoke with Didier to gain insight into the marketing methods employed by Culture Amp to grow their community and understand how Didier cuts through the noise and reaches key stakeholders in an era of channel saturation.
Culture Amp is the world’s leading Culture Analytics service. Founded in 2010, they provide an integrated platform, analytics engine and intuitive dashboard that empowers companies to use data as a means of improving employee engagement. Culture Amp allows People Geeks to amplify and hone the most desirable aspects of their workplace culture — facilitating the ability to collect, review and act on employee feedback in one place.