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Diary of a first-time CMO - Data is everything

Hey B2B marketers

Here it is. Four years, $50m+ ARR and 200 pages later… My journey as a first-time CMO.

Covering the key learnings I've gathered in four years of leadership. This diary reveals the lessons that helped me scale Cognism from $3m to $50m ARR, build a team from 3 to 39, and transform our set-up from a classic lead gen function to a demand gen engine.

It’s my handbook for B2B marketers looking to thrive in leadership.

(especially if you’re as daunted as I was when I started out!)

Diary of a first-time CMO by Alice De Courcy
By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read

Data is everything

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My first day at Cognism, I wanted to see all the data. Show me the data!!

But there really wasn’t very much to see.

Nothing was really tracked in-platform and nothing really tracked through to the CRM. We didn’t have any UTMs or a process around how to use them and no hidden fields on our forms.

So even the stuff that was working, wasn’t really being tracked. So it was hard to say where to go at that point.

So my first port of call was to put in foundational tracking - an easy win.

We’re going to make decisions that are both art and science, but in order to make these decisions, we need the foundational understanding of our B2B data to guide us. 

So what did I do?

  • I implemented UTMs.
  • Added hidden fields onto forms.
  • I made sure Pardot and our CRM were updated with the fields needed to receive this data.
  • And applied consistency across our marketing activity so we could actually track our results.

The first time I could see the UTMs come through on Salesforce and I could start populating reports was exhilarating. Such a small win, but so important to everything that came next.

I was able to see which of our channels were working and what content people were engaging with. It put us in a much better position for deciding what to do next.

Data is the foundation of everything you want to build. Really don’t underestimate how crucial it is.

I think that was one thing the exec team really liked about what I brought to the table - that I measured as much as I could.

For example:

We had no way of measuring the success of the events we were holding, so I worked out a model for tracking the full cost and ROI for these events - and that ended up being really impactful.

We realised that events weren’t profitable for us anymore, so we pivoted away from the event strategy into something that would be more predictable and scalable. Without that data, we wouldn’t have been able to make that decision.

Having said that, I’ve had to get very comfortable with the idea that I can’t measure everything. Especially now we’re executing a demand generation strategy. You simply cannot track every metric.

So I’ve learned to look for trends or correlations in data versus exact numbers and direct attribution.

The main thing is that you don’t just have data for data’s sake. It has to have a use, there has to be some kind of commentary, analysis or discussion around it.

Without those things, data is just a busy task that sits and does nothing. 

Want to keep up with Alice's latest CMO advice?

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