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Brian is a data-driven growth expert.

For 8 years on the Google Analytics team, he helped some of the biggest and best online companies use data to beat their competitors.

As an independent consultant, he used that same data-driven approach to grow mid-sized businesses; one experiment grew revenues for a SAAS company by 50%.

Hired as a senior manager on the Dropbox growth team, Brian oversaw experiments that made 10s of millions of dollars in additional ARR. Brian now leads the marketing team at Leadfeeder where he focuses on acquiring and activating inbound leads. You'd think working for a company that automatically generates leads would mean he has nothing to do. Sadly Thankfully, that's not the case.

  • MV

    Maarten Van den Bossche

    9 months ago #

    Hi Brian,

    Very cool to have you on here!

    A couple of questions:
    1. As you've been at the forefront of the field, what do you think will be the biggest changes we'll see on digital analytics?
    2. What's the key personal learning you took from your time at Google to Dropbox? And from Dropbox to Leadfeeder?

    It would be great to hear this from you.

    Kind regards,

    Maarten

    4 Share
    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Hi Maarten,

      Good questions!

      1) AI and more specifically machine learning to start with. We're in the very early days of AI in analytics right now and there's still a lot of hype but it's going to have a huge impact in the medium and long term. Every Monday our marketing team looks at our performance from the week before and what's changed vs the previous weeks, previous year etc. There's no reason our analytics tool can't surface that information to us automatically. Taking it a step further the tools could even start making modifications to campaigns or even your website themselves.

      Right now a lot of machine learning work is focused on data scientists doing work specific to the companies they are working in. It's likely we'll see tools ship with more out of the box AI capabilities as time goes on.

      In the short term there are more mundane challenges that still haven't being properly addressed:
      - We still track browsers on devices as a proxy for users
      - Getting an attribution model set-up and regularly used is still a challenge for most companies

      • MV

        Maarten Van den Bossche

        8 months ago #

        Hi Brian,
        Thanks for your answers. These are great!

        It also strikes me how attribution modeling is such an overlooked and badly understood topic after all these years. We'll just have to be patient and keep on explaining them, I guess. 😁

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      2) Google was the first proper job I had and I learned tons. It's actually difficult to distill it all down into just one thing. But there are maxims that are repeated over and over again at Google that have stuck with me. These were floating around 10 years or more ago when I was there but they still ring true today I think. Examples:
      - 'Data beats opinions'
      - 'Launch and iterate'
      - 'Focus on the user and all else fill follow'

      At Dropbox I had a manager that used to ask us what our superpower was. It wasn't a cheesy team-building type question. He wanted to know what was the one thing that we were great at. What unique value could we bring to the team. We focus a lot on our weaknesses but you can be really successful if you're aware of your strengths and continue to build on them.

      3 Share
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    Casper Holm

    9 months ago #

    Dear Brian. Thanks for doing this💪

    one tough question: Is it possible to segment and target office workers across functions and businesses?

    I mean. They live surprisingly similar lives, with a lot of shared pains, but no collective identification?

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Hi Casper,

      I'm not sure I've fully understood your question but let me have a go.

      In Google Analytics you can see the companies visiting your website in the Network report. (You'll need to filter out the ISPs). Leadfeeder also shows this data in a more user-friendly format. You could export the data from GA and send it back to AdWords to just target the business users who have been to your site. We've also been experimenting with creating campaigns for LinkedIn from Leadfeeder data.

      That should cover the office workers who have been to your site already. You can target specific businesses or interests in most ad networks which could help with identifying them outside of your own website. I'm not totally sure if that answers your question though, let me know!

  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    9 months ago #

    Hey Brian,
    What is the unique selling proposition of Dropbox that distinguish it from other top competitors as box and so on?
    Thanks in advance

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Hi Benjelloun,

      Dropbox and Box go after different parts of the market. There is some cross-over but Box is more focused on the enterprise side of the market and Dropbox on SMBs and individual users with a smaller share of the enterprise market. Dropbox works great for these users because it's easy to set-up and use yourself. It's one of those tools that just works. You can get started and be a successful user without ever needing to speak to anyone. Where Dropbox has found success in enterprise its usually when they've identified people already using the tool unofficially in the company because they like how easy it is to use.

      2 Share
  • RS

    Rodrigo Severo Matos

    9 months ago #

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for taking this time to share some of your experiences and ideas with us.

    What do you think would be a pragmatic scenario to a near future regarding Artificial Intelligence working as an asset to marketing managers?

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Thanks!

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Hi Rodrigo,

      I think this is already happening. Artificial Intelligence (usually Machine Learning) is increasingly being baked into more and more marketing tools. It can be difficult to separate the hype from the reality but we're definitely already down the path.At Dropbox we had a churn prediction model which could predict our churn with a pretty high degree of accuracy for future months. It was a machine learning model that looked at different factors like the traffic source users had signed up from and key actions taken in their account and could then predict their likelihood to churn. It's not a big leap to build something with automation layered in on top of this. For example if a user has yet to complete a key account action (say downloading the desktop Dropbox app) you could automatically prompt them to do is in the app or send them an email reminder. Other examples of AI/ML built into marketing tools:
      - Chatbots
      - Targeting in online ads (AdWords has been doing lots on this)
      - Website personalisation tools
      - Probably dozens more that I'm missing

      3 Share
  • AO

    Asma Salman Omer

    9 months ago #

    Hi Brian, Thank You for doing this :)

    I have a basic question. How do you define growth hacking?

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Hi Asma,

      Growth hacking is a term I have a love/hate relationship with. Hate, because it's so broad that it can mean anything and within 6 months of the term being coined everyone is calling themselves a growth hacker. Love, because it gets previously silo'd teams focused around a business objective (which works!).

      What growth you need to hack is going to be depend on the what stage your company is at and your business model. For an early stage company you're more focused on acquisition. As you get more people down the funnel you can experiment with creating better onboarding experiences to help with activation and retention, how to better monetize etc etc.

      What growth teams have in common is that it's a cross-functional effort with everyone empowered to works towards a common business goal.

      3 Share
  • CS

    Cecilia Schmitz

    9 months ago #

    Hi Brian!

    You have such an impressive journey. Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA!

    I read on the description of your AMA that you used a data-driven approach to grow mid-sized businesses.

    I got curious about the one that grew revenues for a SAAS company by 50%. Can you share this experience with us?

    Thanks again!

    • BO

      Brian O' Sullivan

      9 months ago #

      Thank you Cecilia,

      They're a software company that gave away a free version of their product and had a paid version with a few additional features. It's an app rather than a SAAS product. When people got to the download page the vast, vast majority chose the free product.

      I had recently read about a price anchoring study at MIT and I thought they could try something similar. You can read more about the study here: https://econsultancy.com/why-pricing-experiments-prove-our-assumptions-are-wrong/ The basic principle is that price is relative. You can make things seem more or less expensive depending on how you present them.

      So they introduced a more expensive paid option with even more features. Almost nobody chose that option but a lot more people started choosing the now cheaper looking original paid option.

      3 Share
  • BO

    Brian O' Sullivan

    9 months ago #

    Thanks for the great questions guys. Jumping on to answer some of them now

  • JS

    Josh Spilker

    9 months ago #

    What is your top acquisition channel for Leadfeeder right now?

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