CMO Ken Herron Reveals His Top Tips for Surfacing Actionable IoT Data Insights

CMO Ken Herron Reveals His Top Tips for Surfacing Actionable IoT Data Insights

Hey marketers, question for you: Got data? Sure you do. But you’re overwhelmed. The data keeps pouring in and piling up—especially when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices—and you’re trying to understand what you have, what it means, and how you can use it to improve the customer journey and your marketing results.

As Ken Herron, Chief Marketing Officer at Unified Inbox, recently told us: “We now have more data than we can use. And it’s worthless until we can turn it into actionable insights that can help us make better decisions.”

Treasure Data Q&A with Ken Herron

So, how do you make the leap from having data to using actionable data? And what does that look like when it comes to IoT data?

We recently sat down with Ken to get his answers to those questions and more. Ken is a veteran marketer, with accolades ranging from being named a top IoT influencer by Onalytica to making Insight Success Magazine’s 2018 “30 Most Creative Corporate Leaders to Watch” list. Read on to see what he has to say.

Marketers & IoT Data: A Q&A with Ken Herron

Q: What steps can marketers take to get a better handle on the IoT data they have at their disposal?

Ken: I would re-word your question. It’s not about “using the data you have.” It’s about knowing: 1) Exactly what it is that you want to achieve and then 2) Identifying what data will help you to achieve it. All marketers have found themselves in a job where we’ve had reams of data, but we didn’t have the right data for what we needed to get done.


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“All marketers have found themselves in a job where we’ve had reams of data, but we didn’t have the right data for what we needed to get done.” – Ken Herron, CMO, Unified Inbox

Q: How can marketers surface the right data and turn it into actionable insights?

Ken: I have always envied spreadsheet whisperers, marketers who just need to scan a sheet of micro-font numbers to instantly know what the data means for their business. That’s not me. I need to visualize the data. This not only helps me to understand what the data’s true insights are, but it’s invaluable in helping me to effectively communicate those insights to gain the support I need from internal and external stakeholders.

Q: How do you think IoT/device data will impact marketing strategies going forward?

Ken: IoT device data, specifically the conversational analytics from customers talking to your products — whether it’s through software (e.g., intelligent IoT messaging) or hardware-based (e.g., smart speakers) voice solutions — reveals radically new insights about your customers.

We can now know who our customers are — a watershed moment for companies who sell physical products through retailers and distributors.

Here’s an example: Your company makes dishwashers. With IoT device data, you don’t just know who your customer is (by name!), but you know how, when, and how often your customer uses your dishwasher, including how happy they are when they’re using it and what they wish your product would do next. The real magic is that with intelligent IoT messaging you have the ability to communicate with customers on demand.

Q: As a CMO, how are you and your team currently utilizing IoT/device data in your marketing efforts?

Ken: My team is a little different. Our product, UnificationEngine®, is intelligent IoT messaging, so our highest ROI marketing effort is helping our customers to use the IoT device data our software provides them.

We use our customers’ IoT device data to show them where their customers aren’t satisfied — identifying both product problems and product gaps (not every customer is going to send you a detailed email telling you what they like and don’t like about your product and why). This IoT device data marketing strategy consistently decreases costs, increases revenues, and delights customers.

So, for my team, being able to show customers how using our product makes their customers love them is our most powerful IoT device data marketing.

Q: What challenges and opportunities have you encountered with IoT/device data, and how have you worked to overcome them?

Ken: The challenge with IoT device data is our natural temptation to track everything. It goes back to focusing on what it is you want to achieve. Just because you can track something, doesn’t mean you should. IoT device data gives us real-time insights into the problems we know about and (even better) reveals the problems we didn’t even know we had.


“Just because you can track something, doesn’t mean you should.” – Ken Herron, CMO, Unified Inbox

Q: What’s a good first step for marketers interested in leveraging IoT data?

Ken: If you’re the CMO, your first step in leveraging IoT data must be to take your CTO or CIO out to lunch. Every single thing you do as a marketer with IoT device data is going to impact (and likely upend) her or his role, starting with how they prioritize their budget.

Creating a respect-based relationship “across the aisle” will give both of you the support you need to work together hand in hand to meet and exceed your company’s goals.


“If you’re the CMO, your first step in leveraging IoT data must be to take your CTO or CIO out to lunch.” – Ken Herron, CMO, Unified Inbox

Get More IoT Insights from Ken & Other Experts

Marketers are just beginning to use IoT data as a marketing tool. But wide-adoption is coming. So, now is the time to learn and assess how you can use IoT data to propel your marketing efforts and personalize customer experiences.

Check out our How IoT Data is Reshaping the Marketing Landscape resource page to learn more about the impact, use cases, and more in-depth expert perspectives on IoT data as a marketing tool.

Marci Bontadelli
Marci Bontadelli
Marci Bontadelli is a Senior Media and Analyst Relations Manager at Treasure Data. She has over 10 years of experience working closely with tech, marketing and retail-focused journalists, analysts, and influencers.