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Written by Team Wizikey

May 25, 2022

Data is a lot more than just proving a fact: Pooja from Chargebee

In this episode of Data Champions in Communications, we will learn what really got Pooja from Chargebee into data-driven communications.

Data is a lot more than just proving a fact: Pooja from Chargebee

From working with brands like Tanishq and Titan eye plus to spearheading the brand strategy of Chargebee today, Pooja Sriram has been on an exciting journey. In this episode of Data Champions in Communications, we will learn what really got Pooja into data-driven communications.

Video transcription (auto-generated)

I think after my MBA in marketing, communications, and advertising–my mentors, professors, and everyone else thought that I had an aptitude for writing and I should be in the PR field. I did know a little bit because of the subjects we studied, which were something that I was interested in. So, I jumped right into PR at that stage. This was more than 12 years ago. I used to work at the agency, so I had the experience of working with different clients– from Lifestyle, which is Taj Hotels, Tanishq, and Titan eye plus, to even something very, very tech, like Bosch. Through those stories, press releases, press meets, I got a lot of insight into different kinds of domains and understood that somewhere everything is about storytelling—- about simplifying something and putting it out there for the media to pick up or to make it something interesting. I kept developing my skills. I think that was the time when digital was just building up. With time, when digital came up, especially social media, I jumped on that bandwagon and caught it pretty early on. I was the go-to person, so I built a lot of my strength in that zone. And ever since, I think my job was content creation for the digital medium. It went from copywriting on social to emails to blogs, even app notifications, and SMS. A lot of content creation and distribution has become a part of communications. But I think I’ve always been interested in communication more in the written format. I wrote a lot of blogs, like travelogues. I’ve even recently published my book, so I’ve written a book for kids. I have a little child, so I connect with that.

 Understanding Data

[00:03:44] I think ever since my first few profiles with the PR agency, it’s all been about working with clients. You have to show them the impact of your work. We’ve been leaning on data literally to prove the impact that we’ve created. You were in The Times of India and it has so much readership– imagine three people in the house reading the paper. You do all of those calculations. It’s a lot about proving that you worked. For me, data was trying to tell them that I’ve done my job and didn’t bother from there as to what happens next. But with time and me also learning a lot more–progressing my career, and now on the brand side of things, I’ve understood that data is a lot more than just proving a fact or something that you want to say. It’s a lot more of analyzing the data that comes about and saying that this data is good because of something that you did, and now you have an opportunity to do better than this. So, if you’re measuring followers on social media, it was as simple as, “Hey, I’m adding, you know, 20,000 followers”. But today it’s more about who are these followers? Where are they coming from? What is their seniority? Are they engaging with you? These questions become important.

 Integrating data into campaigns and stories

[00:05:28] I think we all started with Excel sheets at some point. It was a lot of manual work. Today I put up this post on LinkedIn versus I put something on Facebook, and what kind of engagement did this get versus something else? And then you compare and you see, if I posted at a different time, what happens? So, a lot of experiments happen, but we also calculate these things manually. But today, there are a lot of tools that help us, especially on the social media side of things. Also, a little bit on PR, where it kind of gives you a share of voice. What is the competition doing? How many times did they get a mention? Did this journalist write more about competition than you? Things like that have become a little easier with tech, but I still feel a lot of this if you do it very, very granularly, you may have to still do it manually to figure out exactly what you are looking at. Has your little experiment worked or not? So, we definitely use this in our campaigns. We do rely on tools and tech as much as possible. But when we’re trying something new, we make sure we still go back to Google sheets and say, hey, this happened and this happened, so let’s kind of replicate this or do more on this side of things.

 

Solving challenges with data

[00:06:55] When I joined Chargebee– it was late 2020. During the pandemic, there were a lot of webinars and online events, and there was almost a saturation at that stage. But we were trying to do an entire brand campaign around the Champions of Change. It was a very big campaign for the company and we wanted to make an impact to say that we are all going through a change and we are bringing together champions of change. We had amazing speakers and a lot of stuff, but there was a lot of saturation also in the market as well. But how were you going to get so many people to come together for an event like this? The good thing is we had done an event earlier to that. I was not part of the company then, but the only thing that was connecting me back to the event was data. What did they do last time? How many registrations came in? How many attendees were there? What were the campaigns that were run to bring these people in? I had enough data with me to kind of almost predict what would happen next. So, we made this event literally double the previous event. The first event had 3000 registrations, and for this one, we were aiming at five. We had six and a half thousand registrations. Again, when it came to attendees, we had a benchmark because we had data, we had measured it, and we knew we had to better from there. We knew we had done just maybe about 25 posts or something like that on social media. So, we knew that if we increased that, maybe something else would change. An increase doesn’t mean just numbers. Let’s try formats. Let’s do video, let’s do gif, and let’s bring speakers to do a few video snippets. So, it’s just about knowing what was done and trying to replicate that to get our success plus improve upon that. I think data helped us a lot because the team was new, everything was new and we totally leaned on data for that.

The go-to metric

[00:07:07] I don’t think we can pick on one that way, but overall, I think it’s about moving the needle towards the direction that you want. This can be for anything, right? If you want to be known in the industry for something–say that becomes a keyword or that is a hashtag in the social media world. How much work are you doing towards that? So, one can be the number of articles we’ve written or the number of bylines that have come, the number of times somebody has used that hashtag in the post, number of people following that hashtag. It could be multiple things that are working towards that needle that’s going upwards. So, when you look at it over time, you know that, hey, it’s not one thing that you did or one small thing that moved it, but a couple of things that you are done consistently and that’s why the needle is moving upwards. We all know that we’re doing a good job in that case. 

 

Favorite tools for data insights

[00:08:00] In my opinion, a mix of tools is what helps. But you have to find the right mix and not just have data all over the place.

 

The way forward

[00:08:13] Communications is a very qualitative field. How much ever we are trying to measure things or see what is working and what is not–we have to agree and accept the fact that it’s always going to keep changing and that we have to get creative. We have to do different new things. Teams are evolving. The people who are joining this field come from different backgrounds. I mean, I have engineers in my team, but they are great at communications, which is something that you wouldn’t have heard of before. So, when teams like that are evolving, technology also evolves. We have to be open to making space for tools and everything else to tell us whether we’re doing a good job or not. But we also have to kind of keep in mind that we have to give weightage to creativity. So, if I had a wish list of a tool that will help all of this, it would be something like– that actually measures impact but also gives weightage to creativity to say, hey, you’ve done an experiment and it’s very different from what you’ve done before, and let’s see how this goes up and how do you consistently keep doing more and more of that?

 The favorite campaign  

[00:09:16] I think The Champions of Change is one of my most important key campaigns. It was not only for the event; we also had a podcast along with it. We had new episodes every week, and we had tried different things for each of them. We also had a merchandise store where we sold and even gave out coupons and everything–from t-shirts, swag, bottles, and different things like that. It was a campaign that was like 360 degrees, which had an event and speakers. You still feel like you’ve gone to an event and you can get a t-shirt. You have access to stuff after the event, through a podcast. We had an entire website that was built–very, very interactive. And I think, from a brand communication level, this was one of the most exciting campaigns for me that I have worked on in the recent past.

The three mantras

[00:10:13] I think it’s important to have measurable goals. But we should also have space for some things that are beyond measure. You don’t have to measure every little thing. Challenge the right side of the brain. Have some aspirational goals to figure out what you can do beyond just the measurable goals. Another thing would be to be selective about the data that you present, especially to your leadership and your bosses, because just because you have so much, if you give it all away, especially in not-nice-great formats, people will not make sense of it. And then they will just not understand what you’re working towards. So, analyze the data yourself. Only pick and choose what makes sense and then share it with the world. And I think the third main thing that I would say is something that I believe from my experience is that you shouldn’t always look for data that projects you in the greatest light. So don’t shy away from something that is saying that you’ve not done a good job, because if you present data like that, you’ll know where you have to improve, and next time you’ll have enough space to show your improvement and, you know, your own career trajectory. That’s what has happened in my career. If on day one, the data showed that I did amazing, I may not have moved up the ladder at all. I wouldn’t have tried so many different things. So, it’s just that don’t shy away from data that’s not projecting you in the best of light today because that itself is scope for improvement.

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Wizikey saves time by bringing relevant brand mentions from news, blogs, podcasts and other mediums in one place. It provides insights to build better awareness. It is built by communications' professionals who struggled with excel sheets, clunky software and decided to solve it themselves.

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