How Data-Driven Products Help Customers and Increase Sales

Richard Maraschi

VP Data Product Management at WarnerMedia



Some time ago, while working at Yellow Pages -- a company focused on helping small businesses get discovered online--we faced a steep decline in our customer and revenue growth. At the same time, Google and Facebook were growing, offering small businesses the ability to list their organizations online for free. This was certainly a challenge, but we possessed a significant benefit; our salespeople shared personal connections with business owners, something that Google lacked. We learned that small businesses did not understand digital marketing and SEO and frankly didn't have enough time to learn these concepts while running a business. Business owners wanted to figure out how to make l people aware they existed but were tired of salespeople ripping them off with digital services they didn't understand. Our goal was to empower small businesses with digital marketing tools without disrupting their day-to-day business focus.

Actions taken

The first thing we did, and the most noticeable change, was creating a product that performed a free digital presence health scan. This product would tell our customers, or whoever took it, how their business fared online. It evaluated millions of small business websites that included the company and took data from them, checking to ensure critical information, such as addresses and phone numbers, were correct. It also monitored other data like customer ratings and reviews and the user-friendliness of their website. If this information was not optimized, Google would list a business lower in their search ranking, decreasing the organic traffic and thus the number of potential customers who may purchase their products or services.

Once the scan was complete, our sales team would take this information and contact the owners to walk them through the health of their business online. We would share what was being done right, what was being done wrong, and how it compared with competitive small businesses in their area. This scan became a helpful tool to companies, and as word spread, our acquisition rates doubled per month. Since it was a free tool, we started to upsell our potential clients the services that would enhance their digital presence. A popular product was listing management, a tool that managed companies' online business listing on search engines like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Upselling this product profited our organization, with 70,000 small businesses purchasing our listing management product. We used this step to upsell our other digital products, such as social advertising and website building, to those that already purchased the listing software.

This data-driven approach was just as beneficial for our sales team as it was for our clients. Rather than the classic pitch approach, our sales department could inform businesses of their digital health without pushing a product on them. This, in turn, prompted many clients to pursue our company, looking to improve their digital health score. The digital health scan was used as a monitoring device as well. We utilized the health scan to show clients their score improving as a direct cause of changes to their online presence.

Lessons learned

  • Business owners, whether it be big or small, enjoy getting smarter about their business. Analytics show owners how to improve their business directly, which benefits them and, in return, your product.
  • When struggling to grow because of competitors, go back to the basics. Ask yourself where the pain point in your customer group stems from and how you can find a solution. Understanding your customers’ needs, as done with Yellow Pages, will benefit your products and clientele.
  • Data-driven products often benefit companies in a two-fold approach. One, of course, is that it helps your customers understand their needs. Secondly, it informs your team of the proper challenges, making it straightforward to find the right solution. It generates ease of use for everyone involved.

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Richard Maraschi

VP Data Product Management at WarnerMedia

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