How Lexer is helping retail marketers unleash their inner data rockstars

Marketing chief of this B2B brand shares how he's building brand love to drive growth

David Chinn
David Chinn

Some retail tech companies hope you’ll take it at face value when they tell you how good their solutions are. Others rely on their clients to do it for them.

But Australian-born customer data and experience platform, Lexer, has gone one step further to show how strong its tools are, by building its own retail brand.

Lexer has a heritage that stretches back to 2007. Today it’s used by international brands including Black Diamond, The Iconic, Billabong, Rip Curl and Ben Sherman to tie together their first-party data. According to Lexer president and CMO, David Chinn, the company solves the problems that many retailers face in connecting customer data from other tools so it can be used to provide better experiences and improve marketing efficiency.

“The problem we solve for those brands is they have valuable customer data that sits trapped in each of those systems,” Chinn tells CMO. “We built a platform that connects to each of those tools and collects all of the valuable customer sales and product and experience and engagement data and creates the master database and tools they use to understand and engage those customers in a meaningful way.”

Chinn says this means marketers can use Lexer to do things which were previously the domain and data scientists. It is this capability which first attracted him to join the company in 2015, and to then relocate with his family to the US two years later.

One of the more unusual strategies the company has taken to promote itself has been to create a retail brand of its own, by developing a line of merchandise under the label, Data Rockstar.

“One of the ways we introduce people to Lexer is by letting them experience Lexer first hand as a consumer,” Chinn says. “So we send them to our Data Rockstar store and get them to pick a product. Our technology is wired into the commerce front end and the marketing technology stack, and we collect a bunch of data and deliver very personalised experiences.

“The proposition is ‘don’t see us first, feel us first’.”

Cultural connection

The merchandise itself is based around apparel that uses parodies of popular logos, such as the Metallica logo rewritten as ‘Metadata’, or the Daft Punk logo into ‘Data Punk’, and more. Chinn says the brand was the idea of one of the company’s founders and was initially intended for internal staff only.

“But people would see us wearing the shirts, and because the visual look of the logos is so strong, you’d get stopped in the street wearing them,” Chinn says. “We believe people who are great with data are rock stars, and that all retail marketers have an inner data rockstar. But they struggle to unleash it because of siloed data, lack of support, and lack of time.”

While the Data Rockstar products are ultimately given away, Lexer is also planning on expanding into candles, glassware, and other homewares products. The company even has plans to open a physical store in Surry Hills in NSW, while its Shopify ecommerce site is currently being redeveloped.

Chinn is hopeful this initiative will continue to boost Lexer’s visibility in the highly competitive North American market.

“The tactics you can use in Australia to drive growth basically don’t work here,” Chinn says. “There is literally every one of your category competitors here. The average CMO here is receiving between 50 to 100 cold outreaches a day across email and LinkedIn. And there is no way they can find the one good one out of those.”

Not that Lexer has been struggling with growth, however, with Chinn saying the company’s fortunes were boosted by the COVID crisis as brands were forced to connect with customers directly.

“In the US, we looked at the new customers our collective group acquired in 2019 and compared it to 2020, and saw 2020 was up 79.8 per cent,” Chinn says.

Another driver of growth has been the ever-changing privacy landscape and the move away from third-party cookies and related customer data tools.

“All of those movements are putting greater importance on brands to manage their customers’ first-party data and sweat that harder,” Chinn says.

And Lexer has also been working to leverage the brands of its own customers.

“The promise we made to our customers is that we are going to do great work for them and really dig in and be focused on the outcomes we achieve for them,” Chinn says. “I structured the remuneration of our team to be centred on the outcomes our customers achieved. And we have sought referral from our customers to build the initial beachhead.”

The combined strategy of showing customers the experience and then having existing customers speak about it forms the basis of Chinn’s plan to see the company expand into other markets.

“Growing the business internationally is a big focus for us, as we have aspirations to be a bigger business than what you can build just in Australia alone,” Chinn says. “We've seen success exporting Australian intellectual property here to the US, and we've got ambitions to continue that growth into Asia and into the UK.”

Chinn says Lexer is also focused on being a partner to its customers by sharing the insights and actional strategies it collects.

“So we really focus on communicating tips and advice around how you can think about your customers, and practical strategies to understand them and engage them,” Chinn says. “And we are really excited about building a community around those retailers that are really keen to unleash their inner data rockstars.”

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