Carsten Petzold – Interview about Marketing Costs and Raw Data


1. Can you describe Applicata in three sentences?

Applicata is a software-as-a-service company which deals with business intelligence and online marketing. Based on actionable insights we can help our clients to grow faster and more profitably. Additionally, we offer special business intelligence consulting services.

“In my previous company I analyzed data by myself in Excel. That was unreliable, slow and inconsistent.”

2. Why did you incorporate Applicata?

My co-founder Sebastian Rieschel incorporated the company and I joined in later. I spent my entire career with e-commerce start-ups and and first hand experienced the struggles that we now solve for our customers. I know how it is to run complex marketing campaigns across several channels.

In my previous company (, I built a solution to analyze data by myself in Excel. With the help of macros, I established dashboards and evaluated reports in Excel manually.

However, this self-built Excel solution was unreliable, error-prone, slow and I never had the consistent data basis, I wished for.

Applicata offers exactly that: quickly available and correct data of all key figures in the company. See the tremendous benefit of Applicata I joined the company with great excitement shortly after the incorporation. But there is also a personal side of the story. With Sebastian I found the right partner with whom I want to build up Applicata on a long-term basis.

“Companies should be willing to invest more upfront and determine the “customer lifetime value” to optimize the long-term relationship.”

3. From your experience, which are the most common mistakes made in online marketing?

  1. In most companies, there are experts working only on their marketing channels, optimizing their channel individually as if they were independent of all other marketing activities. However, this focus is insufficient for an overall optimization of all marketing campaigns. The mutual interference of the individual channels should be taken into consideration in one consolidated Multi-channel marketing approach.
  2. Often the focus of companies is not set on return on investment (ROI) or return on adspent (ROAS) but rather on “Vanity KPI” (i.e. key performance indicators that are nice to look at but really do not matter in the end), such as web site visits, revenue and bookings. This mainly stems back to inconsistent and manually aggregated data. Lacking automatically aggregated marketing costs and margins companies often fail to achieve full cost control. But without cost control companies cannot manage their marketing activities by ROI of every advertisement and contribution margin per customer.
  3. Another problem is that many companies lack a concise view on every individual customer due to missing raw data. For example: Many companies simply use data from Google Analytics to analyze web site visits. Google Analytics however does only provide sampled data (at least in the free version). That means, you never know exactly which individual user clicked on what advertisement(s) before visiting your website. Good raw data both about offsite and onsite behavior and an individual buying history of every customer, however, is the basis for efficient online marketing.
  4. Companies often only invest as much money in their customer acquisition as they immediately return in form of a net contribution margin of the first order. However, companies should be willing to invest more upfront and accept a negative contribution margin for the first order If they can determine the “customer lifetime value” (CLV) of every customer. Applicata’s clients achieve growth and sustained profitability by accepting losses on the first order while optimizing the long-term relationship with and boosting the customer lifetime value of every new customer.

“Deploying a scalable and flexible 3rd party BI solution is always cheaper and faster than a self-built solution.”

4. What should start-ups consider when they seriously want to come in touch with business intelligence?


Firstly, they should get in touch with industry experts to get a feeling for the opportunities of a BI investment. A vision for corporate growth through business intelligence and a data-driven culture needs to be derived. Due to a lack of experience, founders often do not know and grossly underestimate how much can be achieved by using a BI solution.

Furthermore, start-ups should map out a corporate growth strategy. A BI software-as-a-service by itself is insufficient. Online companies need to establish teams and acquire skills to exploit the full potential of business intelligence solution.

Additionally, I recommend that every online start-up should make a detailed cost-benefit analysis of an external software solution versus a self-built solution. One should not be blindsided by the efforts and hidden cost of an inhouse business intelligence solution. Considering all direct and indirect cost, deploying a scalable and flexible 3rd party BI solution is usually 7 to 10 times cheaper and faster than a self-built solution.

5. What does your perfect free day look like?

My perfect day starts with sport – going jogging. After having a nice family breakfast, I spent the day with my family on an adventure playground or at a lake away from Berlin. In the evening, I savor great conversations with my friends and a glass of wine in front of a fireplace.


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