Kilian Barrera is the co-founder and CEO of Welovroi, an analytics and performance dashboard that allows marketers to review and view and create custom reports on the return on investment of digital campaigns. With an office located in a port town on Gran Canaria — a island in the Canary Islands of Spain — Barrera jokes about how people think its unreal that his team spends their days in front of the artificial glow of a computer monitor instead of enjoying the sun-soaked, white beaches that line the coast of the Spanish island.
Tell us more about why you decided to begin working on digital products?
When you're a dreamer, and you love what you do, your sacrifice to reach your goals becomes part of the way. We have learned this lesson very well in the 10 years we have been working with digital projects. Three years ago, while we were working on web design and development projects for clients, we launched BITzen.net, an online service to send and receive large files. We realized that we liked being our own customers much more and wanted to continue to build products that we would use.
We are a small team of five crazy people. There is my partner and CTO Alejandro Gonzalez; Ruben Santamaria, a developer; a Ruby on Rails developer who spends time between Tests Cucumber, Linux consoles and servers from Amazon (EC2); Armando Ojeda, who is responsible for social media and who is the editor of our fantastic blog about digital marketing — Roilovers.com; and myself. I spend the day reviewing designs, working with customers and doing what I like most — thinking about how to make life miserable for programmers with new functionalities to Welovroi.
Welovroi launched in beta in February 2012. When and how did you all get started? How does the dashboard work? What have you learned from beta users so far?
Welovroi has been an idea of mine since early 2011, when we were providing social media and digital marketing services for our clients. At first, we were not sure how to begin to develop a simple prototype. We validated the idea, and we realized that the market was evolving to a product like Welovroi.
We knew digital marketers would need other tools to solve old and new problems. They work alone with their Excel spreadsheets and a dozen other specific tools. They need to consolidate data from multiple sources (CSV export, import CSV), spend hours creating reports, copy and paste data manually, scan dozens of metrics, draw conclusions, create reports to justify their investments, plan and monitor campaigns, negotiate with suppliers and, then, figure out if they met the brand’s objectives. They are the heroes who make the industry continue to grow each year worldwide.
And there, at that very moment, is where we come in. Our main objective is to help all the heroes of digital marketing. To help with a quick and easy report (SEM + SEO SM + many other metrics), the dashboard can keep a person up-to-date on the status of campaigns and, above all, show them the holy grail of marketing that everyone is looking for — the return on investment in digital marketing. Those are our goals and the reason we left our customers and older projects.
In February 2012, we launched the private beta version of Welovroi, and while maintaining our initial vision, we gathered user feedback and have continued to improve the program. We have a long way to go before the ROI, but we hope to arrive in the next quarter.
Our dashboard is very simple and clean — it is a minimum version as we work to improve it according to user requests. The user can create a project, install an application like Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, Bit.ly, Youtube Channel or a Youtube video, and it stores metrics. You also can choose the KPIs you want to monitor for and view them on your dashboard, or use them to create recurring reports or mark your campaign objectives. We know that users do not have time to learn new tools so we made it easy to use.
There are multiple analytics dashboards already available and some also include management capabilities. What gap are you trying to ﬁll in the marketplace?
We really do not want to hold any place in the world of dashboards. We choose a completely different way. Our dashboard is a result, it is not our aim in itself. We are where digital marketers are. Marketers who until now did not have an easy way to measure ROI. We wanted a solution that will help managers in their day-to-day work.
Our value is in giving marketers the ability to put their campaign results in the palm of their hand wherever they are. They can know the past and present status of their KPIs and their future goals for different campaigns. They may monitor and analyze in real-time a campaign’s performance. In short, they can know the ROI they are winning or losing, so that they can improve and help their company achieve their marketing objectives.
Your primary target audience is plainly stated: digital marketing managers. What challenges have you faced in marketing to marketers?
Selling is always the hardest part. It is a great challenge for a new company, no matter the target. Like a lean startup, we have launched a minimum viable product to receive feedback. This allows us to build a tool to give real answers to marketers. We have worked very hard to develop a great product that marketing professionals can recommend.
Also, marketing managers don't have a lot of time to change their workflows with new tools, even though they are aware that they need to improve reporting time, streamline the analysis of campaign results and improve the effectiveness of their investments. Our struggle is getting them away from Excel and the dozens of browser tabs. But luckily for us, many already want to change their daily torture and have already signed up for the beta version.
Your name implies a strong belief in return on investment. This has been a point of frustration for marketers, especially over the past few years, as senior management asks for more proof of effectiveness and tactical variance grows. In your opinion, what cannot be measured and how can marketers overcome these challenges?
A few days ago, at a dinner with businessmen, they asked me, “Is everything measurable?” Yes. I think in most cases you can — it is just wrong tactics. And there is no creativity to measure offline outcomes linked to the online. I gave them an example: how do you choose the best offline newspaper to invest in according to the conversion of engagement (indirect ROI). If we use QR codes or coupons for each different investment channel (each newspaper), we can measure the results separately to know what works best for our purposes.
Nowadays, measuring the amount of yogurt sold in a supermarket by the impacts (conversations) made on Facebook seems almost impossible. An example would be launching a special promotion on Facebook or Twitter that encourages the purchase offline by some sort of coupon or collection of product serial numbers in order to measure the value and influence we have on our fans.
Everything is measurable — it is just a matter of imagination, with the help of technology. And in any case, we understand that the results of the measurements are subject to a permanent dynamic learning.
There are countless content management systems, social media platforms, ad networks and other online venues. What platforms are you prioritizing in your system? How will you strategically adapt to trends, such as the recent popularity of Pinterest?
We started integrating the most used by professionals: Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter, Youtube and Bit.ly. What's next in Welovroi? What most users ask us for. In our current roadmap are Klout, MailChimp, Google Plus, Google PageRank, BrandWatch or SEOmoz — anything that has an API to connect.
We are also working on a CSV importer for our customers to incorporate external data sources such as sales results, call center metrics or ad servers.
You are a “startup” in the marketing space. With whom have you collaborated to learn what digital marketing managers want? How collaborative and open to new ideas have you found the industry overall?
So far, no complaints. We have good partnerships with companies like LG Spain, Spain or Jazztel KIA. All are very receptive and eager to help. They have realized that we cover a need — something that they have looked for.
On the other hand, many gurus of web analytics and social media also are providing us with feedback. It is a great help with improving Welovroi. Certainly, we did not expect everyone to treat us so well and everyone is so receptive. We owe a lot to the community.
Your organization is based in Spain. Describe the digital marketing industry in your region. How many players? What emphasis is placed on mobile? Social media?
In Spain there is a lot of talent and creativity being reflected in large campaigns that are laying the groundwork to show that a well executed 360 degree marketing campaign can produce great ROI. In 2011 there were a lot of amazing campaigns: Pastillas para el dolor ajeno or Ballentine and its campaign 'Plan B'. From my point of view, this could mean that 2012 is the year of sector consolidation and social media in Spain. Nobody denies offline versus online yet.
Being more specific, according to the latest report of IABSpain, large advertisers in Spain are telecommunications companies such as Telefonica (Movistar), Vodafone, Orange and Jazztel, along with El Corte Ingles (Department Stores), Procter & Gamble, Unilever and all the field of automation and finance. The entire industry is moving 900 million Euros of which less than two percent (16M €) are investing in mobile.
Companies are dedicating a minimum percentage of their budgets to social media. But I would say that in 2012, there is a small increase, due to the economic crisis we have in Spain. Many companies have drastically reduced (or stopped) investing in traditional, offline channels. They believe that digital marketing is the new way forward, and it is traditionally much cheaper. We'll see how mobile evolves the industry, but it is full of opportunities for good professionals.
What is your vision for WeLovROI as a company over the next 18 to 24 months?
Right now we are looking at short term of up to six months. What do we want? To show the community that Welovroi is the first intelligent tool for marketers who want to monitor, analyze and calculate the ROI of digital marketing campaigns. We want to be a company with global support that is training the ROI Lovers... We'll see how far we get.
Favorite ad of all time: Audi
One reason that you love what you do: We have fun. We feel emotion. The passion of programming, design and launching a new product. That adrenaline rush you feel when you launch a project to the world is an adventure and a challenge...But the most important reason of all is that we can get up when we want.
Mentor: Sensitive issue. We wanted Yoda or Mourihno but it was impossible. So right now we are without spiritual guides.
Must read book: “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” by Chris Anderson
Music that gets you in your zone: Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars, Sigur Ros, Portugal The Man — we have a Welovroi playlist in Spotify with our favorites.