Why a data company wants more IRL (in real life)

  • 28 March 2022
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This content, written by Jen Grant, was initially posted in Looker Blog on Mar 5, 2019. The content is subject to limited support.

Many people say that marketing is both an art and a science, but lately, with all the data available and SaaS tools that deliver amazing insights into the success of each and every campaign, I think we’ve gotten a little too much into the science. From emails, routing, personalization tools, and machine learning on our websites, everything we do is now automated. We judge ourselves by the data that shows whether these interactions have successfully gotten a click or an action. And sometimes, we forget that a click doesn’t really offer a solid connection with a person who might be interested in getting to know us better.

Ironically for a data company, we at Looker like to emphasize more than just data. We focus on real interactions with people. I heard the phrase “IRL” from one of my kids and I’m in love with the sentiment. In Real Life. Let’s spend a moment away from the automation, the clicks, the opens, and let's get real and meet IRL. Isn’t everything always better when we are face-to-face with another human? The answer to that is yes. Yes, it is always better when we can see eye-to-eye, ask questions, understand what each of us is trying to do, and find ways to do amazing things together.

The Beauty of IRL moments

Some of my favorite IRL moments at Looker have come from our and events. In 2016, we held our first ever JOIN conference. With 300 or so Looker customers in New York, we were able to bring together data people who are pushing the limits of innovation and success in their given fields. That very first JOIN not only gave us ideas for new product functionality, but also created meaningful relationships with our customers that strengthen year over year at each event.

At JOIN 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to meet and interview Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last and Start with Why, which are two of my favorite books about leadership and mission-driven companies. After months of planning, it was so great to have a face-to-face conversation and to see how excited others were to meet and connect with Simon IRL. Fast forward to JOIN 2018, where we had 1,000 data people come together, I had the opportunity to chat with Dana McGraw from Disney about how she built her team and how Disney uses data to create amazing experiences for their customers. And as a former basketball coach turned VP of Analytics, she encouraged everyone to look for diverse and interesting candidates in the less obvious places. And in the hall and on stage, I met many other amazing data people, such as AdoreMe’s Diana Streche and Michele Whitney from the Girl Scouts.

Bringing the art back to marketing

As the work of marketers becomes more driven by data, we can’t forget that the end goal of any email sequence, marketing campaign, or funnel analysis is to connect with a person. By striking the balance between automated and IRL moments, you can both reach out to a large number of potential buyers while also building a deeper relationship.

That’s why I love creating opportunities for people to meet face-to-face at Looker. We get to connect with amazing data people everywhere we go. Across cities, regions, and continents, we want to reach as many people as possible and build on the ideas and relationships marketing actions may have sparked. And even more importantly, we want to bring amazing data people together so they can meet each other IRL to share ideas, make friends, and empathize over the challenge of getting an entire business to be data-driven. So come meet the team at when we visit a city near you and let’s meet IRL.

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