“I have spent years trying to find the right reporting solution.
Before Databox, client reporting was definitely a challenge. It took time, but more importantly, it also required so much work to find the little piece of information or insight that a client wants in their reports.
We’d create these 10-page reports and the client wouldn’t even read them or know what to look at. They’d forget about them after you went through all this work.”
– Chris Kappen, VP of Operations & Innovation at Epicosity
Welcome to the Agency Spotlight, Chris. Can you tell us a little about your agency?
CK: Epicosity is a 34-person marketing firm here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
We have regional clients, but we also have national and a few international clients. We were founded 10 years ago by two entrepreneurs. They actually started this company in the basement of a church, and over the last 10 years, have built out to where we’re at today.
We’ve made the INC 5000 list four years in a row now, so we’re super proud of that.
We really kind of focus around a few core categories, but we also have some ancillary clients in there as well, but the core categories that we’re in are finance, higher education, and we also do government work with the state of South Dakota.
What was life like before you started using Databox?
I run the digital marketing side of the organization and, man, I have spent years trying to find the right reporting solution.
I have been on so many demo calls that I actually had a script of questions I would ask. We would get on something for a while and we’d move off of it because it didn’t do what we needed it to.
So, life before Databox, client reporting was definitely a challenge. It took time, but more importantly, it also just required so much work to find the little piece of information or insight that a client wants in their reports.
I would find myself working with the team to put together these 10-page reports and the client wouldn’t even read them or know what to look at. They’d forget about them after you went through all this work.
Before Databox, we had a lot of challenges around finding that information and articulating it in a way that the client understands.
What was the initial setup like? How did Databox change the team’s approach?
So, the first part there was that we had great onboarding. So often after buying software, it’s like, “alright, here’s the help doc, go figure it out.”
Second, I didn’t want to go in and position Databox as just a reporting tool that’s going to save us time.
While the time-saving factor is a valuable thing, and it does save us time, I think the ability to actually go in and discover the data – pull the data out of a source and visualize it however we want to position it in a better way that the client understands is more important.
I spend a lot of time trying to dig deep into that stuff and try to pull out something that’s meaningful to a client. I don’t mind spending time on reporting because I know that’s what a client should actually care about at the end of the day anyway.
Now, that said, once you set up the reports, Databox saves us a ton of time.
Talk a little bit more about those 10-page reports you used to have to create.
We’d go into HubSpot and take screenshots of performance. We start with top-level metrics like website sessions, pageviews, and bounce rate and would then drill down into the more granular business outcomes.
That was the completely wrong way of doing it, obviously. We’ve definitely shifted away from that.
Sometimes, we had to send it through Dropbox because the file size was too big.
Databox has definitely helped us streamline how we display the information and what we lead with.
It sounds like you went from 10 pages to three to five dashboards per client. How did you change the way you presented performance?
I didn’t want to go in and say, “okay, strategy team, this is how a dashboard should look.”
I think that one thing that we’ve run into when I tried to do that before is then all of sudden, you’re eliminating any sort of critical thinking around the company that you’re working with.
What I’d rather do is put some best practices in place. I like to encourage every single strategist to start every client report in a similar place. We want to see a pipeline first, right? We want to understand where the shortcomings are in that client business pipeline.
Oftentimes, from there, you can quickly diagnose where there are problems, and then, I’ll actually do spin-off dashboards, drilling down into specific stages within there.
So, that’s where you can go high level and talk on a level the client really wants to understand, and then you can drill into something you find insightful or meaningful to a client.
So, that’s kind of the best practice that we’re trying to encourage. We really try to avoid putting too many rigid restrictions on how you set these up at this point.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you guys managed that? Is it up to the individual account manager to say, ‘I’m going to figure out what this client needs?’ Are there general guidelines?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s a balancing act, it totally is.
I think the thing that we’ve really been trying to do over the last two years is to challenge and push our clients on the actual business outcomes they’re trying to get to.
In watching a few of these other Agency Spotlight episodes, I see other agencies doing the same thing which is really validating.
I think that the thing that we’re trying to do is like, we ask follow-up questions so much with our clients. If they say, we want to grow our market share, or if they want to increase their total customer volume, we follow up with, ‘what does that mean?’ It’s reverse engineering that out.
I’ve been really, really pushing around forecasting against business goals. So, if you want to get to 400 new customers by the end of the year, how do you break that out by month, by week, by day? It’s definitely been something we’re working towards.
How we’re managing that right now is we’re trying to get the strategy, account, and sales teams to all be speaking the same language around that stuff, and it’s kind of happening organically, just kind of the more conversations we have.
How does the agency set specific goals for clients?
Sometimes clients walk in with specific acquisition goals or yield goals, and if they do, that’s great.
What I try to do from there is actually reverse engineer that out, so I try to look at “well, okay, how many admitted students became enrolled students last year by month? When was the seasonality highest?”
Then, some basic reverse engineering from there saying, ‘okay, well, the admitted student page in the month of May, if it had X number of admitted students that ended up becoming yielded students in that month, how much traffic did that page have or how many event clicks did you have on the register for housing button?’
That kind of stuff. It’s incredible how much data these companies are sitting on that they just don’t know how to line up in that kind of way. It’s just a little bit of groundwork that helps you really firm up reasonable goals.
How do you communicate progress toward goals when/if you’re behind the mark during one of these meetings?
I think the main thing is that we don’t hide from the numbers.
If we can build relationships with these clients where they understand that ‘hey, nobody has a crystal ball; we’re here to deliver on outcomes.’
If something is not working, that’s okay, we’re going to pivot and adjust. I think oftentimes – others may walk into a meeting like that when they’re behind a goal but not have a plan on how to adjust for it.
I think clients understand that you can’t control every facet of a campaign, but they want to know that if something is down, that you have a plan to adjust for it.
Who comes up with those suggestions on your end? Is it the strategist, account manager?
It’s a combination. A lot of times, the strategist might show up with a few ideas, run them by the account manager, and we’ll check that against the client’s budget to make sure it’s in scope.
Last question. Is there any one feature in Databox that you’ve really enjoyed using?
Query Builder and Data Calculations. You guys keep updating those, and I just have like a private nerd out moment whenever you guys do. I love those two features.
I also really love the Advanced Table visualization. That’s been really, really helpful for pulling out media reporting.
Lastly, this is one of the main reasons we actually ended up going into Databox, was that across all the different reporting systems that we’ve looked at over the years, like so often, within the small and medium-sized organizational world on reporting, like you’re stuck with a certain side of native integrations and how they look.
What I love about Databox is that your open API has allowed us to pull in other data sources and stuff like that, so that’s been a helpful feature too.