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CEO Interview: Proving and Improving ROI [Video]

BusinessOnline CEO Thad Kahlow talks about common challenges with data – how do we know what’s working and what’s not; and how to prove and IMPROVE campaign ROI. With two real-world examples of how RailEurope and Workday are able to connect user data from multiple sources to inform business insights and drive ROI.

Hi, I’m Thad Kahlow CEO of Business Online, a performance-driven B2B digital marketing agency.

Q: You talk to marketers of all types – what’s the burning question out there?

Thad: It comes in two flavors. First, it’s a complex world – my customers are interacting with different channels, different campaigns, different content – how do I know what’s working and what’s not? And what do I do about it? Second, how do I prove and improve ROI.

Q: So, what should be the mindset of a marketer in today’s climate?

Thad: I love that question allows me to sit back and reflect. First and foremost we have to remember the precipitous rise of the internet was due to the enormous democratization of information – it gave customers and users what they wanted, when they want it and how they want it. So we have to embrace that user-centered approach. Secondly, it’s about building meaningful relationships with our customers and leveraging digital content and channels to do so.

Q: Right, so what does a marketer do to achieve that?

Thad: First, we recommend all our marketers align their goals with their user goals – that user-centered approach. And second, how do you do it? It’s about data these days… ‘big data’. Back in the day, it was explicit data – user surveys or focus groups. Now there’s this wave of new information, implicit data. Offline through call center or in-store with credit cards, or online through web, email, mobile, you name it. Our job as marketers is to collect and connect that information at the user level to drive insights.


Examples, please:

Thad: Rail Europe had a great approach to better serve users by digging into their data. They found the burning question the customers wanted answered was ‘how long will it take me to travel to different cities via Air, Rail or Car?’ It allowed them to provide [Note: With this insight provided by the data, Rail Europe then produced an app for their website that allowed visitors to easily compare travel times. Read more about Rail Europe here]


Workday, they’re the darling of silicon valley right now, pre-IPO and they have been able to ask (and answer) the age-old question: “I know half my marketing isn’t working, I just don’t know which half.” We are able to help them understand at the customer level exactly what their customers are interacting with –what channels and what content. And what is producing a lead. And from that we’ve been able to connect all the way to the sale so we understand what channels and content campaigns are working to generate leads, and all the way through to those companies that actually become customers. Then re-informing the top of the funnel to drive significant ROI. In a short period of time after accomplishing that we’re able to improve sales and reduce costs to do so. [Note: You can read more about Workday here.]