Q&A: Rob McGowan, Joint Managing Director of Edit, part of Kin + Carta plc.
Edit works with major brands including Southern Co-op, Shell, Jaguar Landrover and Sainsburys to deliver major data transformation projects and campaigns, combining technology, strategy, and data science to produce better customer experiences and deliver greater campaign returns.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your background?
I studied human geography at university, which places a significant focus on human behaviours that set me up well for my career. My first job after my masters in 2001 was in market research. From there, I moved to dunnhumby, spending almost a decade working with data, technology and analytics. Although I trained initially as an analyst, I moved fairly quickly into the consultancy side as I enjoyed translating the output of analytics to actionable, measurable projects.
Since then, I have spent the last 10 years at Edit, initially working as a consultant helping clients get the most out of their data and technology investments and then moving into management roles. I’ve done it all, from managing our rebrand, cold calling, strategic planning, office design, marketing, pitching – even working with my fellow joint-managing director to deliver office equipment to our staff during lockdown.
What does your company do?
Our goal is simple: to turn data in to profit. What that means in practice is that we combine our deep expertise in marketing and customer data technology with our expertise in planning and executing against customer strategy.
Edit is broadly made up of three pillars: Intelligent Data, Connected Acquisition, and Transformational CRM. Intelligent Data involves finding the right data strategy to meet business challenges, such as uncovering customer insights in retail. It is the foundation where we build out other two pillars. Our Connected Acquisition team develops data-led strategies in print media and broadcast media, while our Transformational CRM team plans and helps to implement data-led strategies in email marketing.
We saw that when clients were looking to invest in technology it was easy for them to find a partner that could implement a specific solution and talk the language of the chief technology officer, but very difficult for them to find one that could also engage and lead discussions with the chief marketing officer. Technology can help unlock the value of human behaviour but only if it is deployed and used by people who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about how data can drive marketing activity, and who understand the change that may need to take place in organisations to make that happen.
What is special about its approach?
When you engage with Edit, at every key conversation you will be receiving co-ordinated advice from a technical expert and a planning expert. This ensures there are no white elephants on the technology side and no impossible-to-fulfil promises from the marketing planning side.
When we first engage with clients, we often see wasted technology investment or great ideas that are not technically possible. Our goal at Edit is to strip away the noise and to focus in on what matters most in any given scenario, meaning that every engagement with Edit is designed to deliver value quickly.
What advantage does it add?
Speed, clarity, measurability.
What does a project or service implementation look like and how do you measure success?
A project can take many forms – from a large-scale tech re-platform through to some tactical analytics or media buying. What is consistent, however, is our focus on getting to the nub of the issue and agreeing early in the project the metrics that will define success.
Measurement is not a nice-to-have for Edit, it is non-negotiable. We are motivated by tracking forward progress and there have been instances where we have declined project work due to a lack of clarity around objectives or measurement.
How are retailers using your systems? Can you share a case study?
A nice case study currently being developed is with the Southern Co-op, for whom we are providing the data and marketing technology solution to drive their All Yours membership programme activity. It’s a great example of our planning team creating a sustainable, measurable strategy which will unlock further investment in defined stages once the incremental benefits of what we are delivering have been measured and realised.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We work with a host of different partners. However, we have strategic relationships with Microsoft, Acoustic, and Apteco – giving us the breadth and depth to deal with any customer marketing challenge faced by retailers small or large.
Our Microsoft partnership offers an excellent opportunity for retail, particularly in our work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. That clear view of your customers’ behaviours helps you personalise your interactions with them, which helps to increase engagement.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for retail in 2021?
Clearly, Covid-19 is re-writing the rule book for retail. From our perspective, it has placed ever more importance on wringing as much value as possible from your data and technology assets – it’s critical that every retailer takes stock of what they have in place and whether they could derive more value from existing investments before bringing in something new.
I can honestly say that, in every single engagement in the last 10 years, we have been able to find opportunities for growth and efficiency with the data and technology that a client already has before making recommendations for investing in new areas. Conservation of cash is critical at the moment, so invest time to understand the capabilities you have, with people who understand both technology and marketing.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We will continue to focus on our core capabilities – Intelligent Data, Transformational CRM, and Connected Acquisition – and use these to deliver our goal: to turn data in to profit.
Discover insights from Edit, Kin + Carta, and Microsoft on how to futureproof your retail business, using customer data to inspire personalisation and a compelling multichannel customer experience, in Our retail future: A data-driven landscape on and offline.
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