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Listen Now: The Evolution of Marketing Analytics, with Reliant CEO Steve Kietz

Feb 8, 2022

How did marketing analytics change from a bullet point in the marketing manager’s job description to the dynamic, data-rich, professionalized field we know today? Reliant Funding CEO Steve Kietz recently joined Alex Sofronas on the Marketing x Analytics podcast to explain the evolution of marketing analytics.

How It Started

Kietz’s career has spanned the world of marketing, analytics, and banking for decades, including leading marketing efforts for both Citi and Chase bank cards and now serving as the CEO for Reliant Funding.

Kietz shares that when he was just getting started out, analytics was considered simply part of a marketing manager’s job.

Direct mail ruled the marketing game, and account managers and marketing leads were responsible for tracking the return-on-investment and cost per lead on each campaign. Once a campaign was complete, the manager would simply track how many sales were made or leads contacted, and add that to his or her records. Marketing analytics was largely retrospective, says Kietz.

Because marketing campaigns were limited to television, print, and direct mail, analytics adjustments were made relatively slowly, Kietz says. “There was a lot of advanced planning,” but marketing campaigns couldn’t really be adjusted on the fly.

Contrast that with today, when AI and machine learning can make minute adjustments to a campaign on any platform within minutes. Real-time analytics are always available at our fingertips. All these tools can take a lot of work-hours to manage, but maximize the ROI and predict new opportunities in a way unthinkable just thirty years ago.

In other words, the evolution of marketing analytics has changed the study of what has happened to an entire set of strategies predicting what will happen, according to Kietz.

Fast Forward

The rise of digital commerce sparked the evolution of marketing analytics into its own distinct discipline.

According to Kietz, “by the late 90s, the movement was from analytics to decision science….analytics is now being done by people with Ph.Ds in math or statistics.” Business leaders began to see analytics as its own discipline, not just an incidental to a marketing campaign.

Now that Kietz leads the small-business lending efforts at Reliant Funding, marketing analytics has changed still more. Today, Kietz says, understanding the relationship between customer acquisition cost and lifetime value are central to analytics, as are understanding and branching out into social media.

Analytics has changed dramatically since the days of mailing lists and spreadsheets.

Kietz brings his own background in analytics to his role as CEO at Reliant Funding. He describes this skill set as a point of view: he likes to “test and learn, iterate, learn how to do it better.” His mantra is to only spend money on things that you can track a ROI on: “if you can’t analyze it, I don’t do it.”

Yet, focusing purely on numbers in marketing – or business – would be a mistake, says Kietz. “The closer you are to pure analytics the harder it can be in executive life,” he says, because intuition, people management skills, and a sense of the numbers in context are also crucial to a CEO’s role.

Striking a balance between the two proficiencies has helped Kietz build Reliant into a leading small business lender that has funded over $1 billion in credit.

What’s Next

If the evolution of marketing analytics has been such a dramatic story during the course of Kietz’s career so far, what can we look forward to in the future?

Kietz points to understanding numbers in context as the secret to making good business and marketing decisions. Considering “what’s happening in the world, what’s right for the staff,” are all just as important as understanding the predictions made by the latest AI analytics model.

You can read more about Reliant Funding’s small business lending program on our website.

To listen to the full interview, check out the Marketing x Analytics podcast here.


$3,098,641,569 dollars funded