Sebastian Rieschel – Interview about BI and Online Marketing


1. Can you describe Applicata in three sentences?

Applicata is a cloud-based data warehouse which is specialized on online marketing. We do not only offer technological support but also service and consulting. That’s why we work together with our clients at eye level.

“We built a solution in which we could combine all the data for the analysis”

2. Why did you incorporate Applicata?

I spent my whole career in digital companies.

15 years ago, I worked at Jamba in the insurance business. We tried to measure our key performance indicators (KPI), because we wanted to improve our efficiency. Thereby, I made the experience that the development of good IT-systems can help to do so. Back then, it was about KPIs such as throughput times and approval rates.

At smava we met the challenge to widely merchandise a B2C product (consumer loans), whereby the product had a multi-stage conversion funnel. Our main goal was to achieve a profitability of costs per piece. For the measurement, we needed data from various sources: marketing systems, our online analytics tool and our own CRM-database. The precursor of Applicata has thereby been established: a self-developed solution with which we could combine all the data for the analysis. However, many processes were still manual and error-prone.

With my gathered experience, I firstly consulted other start-ups (Digital Performance, Groupon, Unimall) establishing their own business intelligence centers and afterwards I used my expertise as the Head of BI at Project A. There we followed the approach to provide every portfolio company with a central developed technology stack. This should spare them long-term acquisition of knowledge and provide them with best-of-breed software, so that they can concentrate on their business.

The next logical step for me was then, to put my expertise into my own business. Applicata was born!

“A company-wide usage of standard guidelines for tracking is very important “

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

  1. No setting and measurement of multi-channel performance goals.
    A culture of success cannot be established across teams when SEM is optimized by CPC and affiliate by CPL, but in the end the CEO only cares about CPO.
  2. Small eagerness to experiment with new channels
    and thus a big dependency on few channels, mostly google. Thereby, the scalability in the marketing can also be negatively affected.
  3. No consistent concept for tracking and campaign tree through all channels and markets.
    The usage of tracking tags is often free to choose by the departments. As a result it is very effortful or even impossible to create a consistent picture of the campaign performance in a later analysis. This can be avoided by a company-wide usage of standard guidelines for tracking.
  4. No consideration of the customer lifetime value.
    Too often when optimizing, only the acquisition value is looked at, because it is either too costly or technically impossible to integrate all customer interaktions. Normally, this leads to an understatement of the customer value and as a consequence to a limitation of the potential for growth caused by too narrowly defined acquisition cost goals.
  5. No technology budget reflecting the company growth phase.
    The question is, which tracking tools are needed and how much automation is useful. This depends on the size and complexity of the company. It is not reasonable to introduce a bid management software when there is only one target market, e.g. Germany, and only a few keywords advertised. In the same way, it is inappropriate to use Excel sheeds when there is a big marketing team handeling ten thousands of  advertising materials in five countries on ten domains. Internal know-how increase and a permanent screening of the technology market should always be an issue in the company buildup.

“Sustainable growth requires that data driven decisions are as reliable and valuable as the own product.”

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

Firstly, sufficient personnel resources should be available. Business intelligence should not only be left to a trainee. Furthermore, the topmanagement commitment is a decisive factor for the success of a data driven culture.

An appropriate provider fitting to the budget and technology can be found through market screening and comparison.

In the course of a make-or-buy decision the absorbed costs should always be recognized. That means not only technology costs but also personnel expenses, learning and recruiting costs. It should be considered that an instantly available but imperfect solution can be of more worth than the perfect solution available in a year.

Generally speaking, Business Intelligence is no second class IT one should be content with makeshift solutions and semi automation processes. Sustainable growth requires that data driven decisions are as reliable and valuable as the own product. There should be a high claim on automation and reliability.

5. What does your perfect free day look like?

This day would have at least 60 hours and I would spend most of them with my family, delicious food and playing basketball. But there should also be lots of time left for gaming and crafting countless new software ideas that still hurry-curry in my head. That would be a perfect day!