CIRCLEIT FOUNDER ON HOW TO EFFECTIVELY LEVERAGE DATA TO TAKE YOUR COMPANY TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Growing up, my father always had his camera around his neck shooting pictures and video at every family gathering. Photos would be developed and videos copied — and gifted to family members near and far. He always felt a tremendous amount of joy watching people’s reactions to these special gifts.
Over time, he began writing notes, documenting memories and creating handmade cards that he would stash safely away in a large box alongside his treasured family photos and beloved old home movies.
My father left behind this box overflowing with photos, stories, cards and gifts for future life events with specific instructions on how and when to share these treasures with his beloved family. He wanted his legacy to live on — and for his family to continue experiencing his love long after he was gone.
CircleIt was built to replicate this unique gift. Built for my mother to help carry on his legacy. Built so that others can experience the joy it has given all of us. Built in memory of my father, Arif Shaikh.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We’re constantly innovating at CircleIt, but our next big project and release is our Child Account. Unlike what social media is doing by giving kids access to their tools, we are enabling parents to create an account for their child, born or unborn. At that time, they add grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members. Those that the parents choose can then send cards, gifts, messages, photos, videos and more to the child. When the child hits an age the parents deem appropriate, then they can turn the account over to them. At that time, the account becomes a live CircleIt account. The child can then see all of these great cards and other items from their loved ones.
If a grandfather, for example, wants to provide his grandson with advice on marriage, he can set it up so that particular message arrives when the grandson is getting married. Or if a terminally ill mother wants to give her daughter advice on raising children, she can have it scheduled to arrive upon the birth of her daughter’s first child.
We’re enabling people to be there forever and be present for the moments in the lives of their loved ones, no matter what happens. I can think of about 7 billion people in the world that this technology would benefit.
"WE’RE ENABLING PEOPLE TO BE THERE FOREVER AND BE PRESENT FOR THE MOMENTS IN THE LIVES OF THEIR LOVED ONES, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. I CAN THINK OF ABOUT 7 BILLION PEOPLE IN THE WORLD THAT THIS TECHNOLOGY WOULD BENEFIT." Art Shaikh Founder & CEO, CircleItThank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about empowering organizations to be more “data-driven.” My work centers on the value of data visualization and data collaboration at all levels of an organization. So I’m particularly interested in this topic. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly it means to be data-driven? On a practical level, what does it look like to use data to make decisions?
Being data-driven means putting aside your preconceived notions. While we have some idea of what might work in order to drive customer acquisition, we have seen a handful of cases where certain ideas were not as successful as others, and this comes from constantly analyzing data.
We take the information we have and use that to tell us where to put our efforts. There isn’t a facet of what we do that isn’t highly informed by the data and statistics we are monitoring. We do a lot of multivariate testing in our advertising at CircleIt, for example. We will run several ads with varying content to see what is driving users to take a desired action.
For example, an ad that brings users to our website is good. An ad that brings users to our website who then visit our app store page is better. An ad that brings users to our website, who then go on to visit the app store and download our technology is best. So it is understanding the level of action a particular advertisement or marketing piece is generating, and then taking that knowledge forward into future campaigns.
On the app side, we look a lot at retention and use. When we release a feature, we like to see how often it is being used, how much people are engaging with the app. Does one feature get used more frequently than another? Does one feature seem to be more popular among men or women? All of this is taken into consideration when we are planning our roadmap.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Effectively Leverage Data to Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Use data as a guideline in making decisions.
A while back, we had three similar pieces of marketing materials we were using. We were, as a team, convinced that we had an idea of which would perform best. However, as we started to test them against each other, the particular piece we felt would do the worst ended up doing the best. Our team used this as a guideline in making other marketing materials, but it was even more informative from an operational standpoint that we shouldn’t judge something before the numbers come in.
Understand data in context.
We look at hundreds of dashboards, millions of numbers, and one of the things I have coached my team on is to contextualize the data. Some metrics can look good or bad, but there is a bigger story that can be told to understand it better. For example, an email open rate of 2% might look horrible. But if in a month we have added 500,000 email addresses to the database, then we’re talking about an increase in overall opens. At a certain point, you can fixate on the 2% and get upset, or you can understand the context and know what that means to make a more informed decision.
Know what data matters and focus on that.
When you have millions of potential data points to focus on, it can be overwhelming and counterproductive. The quality of the data is more important than the quantity, both in terms of the sourcing of the data but also the data being used in decision making. I think so many companies get hung up on having the MOST data that they miss out on the opportunities to win.
Using data responsibly.
I suspect no one will talk about this, but using data responsibly is important for our growth. Our business model is built on privacy. Privacy for our members that their data will not be sold, or used by third parties. We of course use data for both our own internal marketing but also the AI built into our technology. But using data to achieve a goal for the member is the real goal. When we want to ensure a card is delivered at the right time for the right occasion, we have to use data that is given to us. But we do not then go sell that information to advertisers so they can sell jewelry or other goods to them. We want our members to know we’re a place they can feel secure on all levels.
Protecting our members.
Data is so valuable, and so many times you hear about the issues of major companies getting hacked or breached. One of the first things we did was build military-grade encryption and the best protection for our members. We knew that privacy and security were essential to the growth of our customer base. If they can’t feel safe providing their information, then we can’t provide our services.