Accurate attribution is difficult, particularly in B2B tech, but it can be crucial in understanding the customer journey and what marketing activities drive revenue.

Buğra Gündüz, CEO of HockeyStack, an analytics and attribution platform for B2B businesses, breaks down how marketers can leverage their platforms to understand marketing data and the benefits of using specialist platforms.

He also shares his experience in growing his start-up business and the marketing activities helping to drive early-stage growth.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About HockeyStack

HockeyStack is a San Francisco-based analytics and attribution tool for B2B companies. Connecting ads, websites, and CRM platforms, HockeyStack collects data in one place, and turns that data into visual customer journeys you can analyse.

About Buğra

Buğra Gündüz is a CEO and co-founder of HockeyStack.

Time Stamps

[00:39.2] – Overview of HockeyStack, its uses and how it was founded.

[03:46.1] – Buğra discusses how marketers can understand what marketing activities drive people to become customers.

[14:28.3] – Who is HockeyStack aimed at?

[15:15.5] – How does HockeyStack approach marketing itself?

[18:18.1] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[24:23.5] – Ways to get in touch and find out more.


“Large enterprises don’t understand how their marketing funnel works, which sources work, and which sources don’t. Are they getting value out of what they’re spending on a channel?” – Buğra Gündüz, CEO at HockeyStack

 “I hear this all the time from clients – attribution is one of the hardest things. People are spending money, and to a large extent, it’s very hard to know what drove prospects to become customers.” – Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier

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Transcript: Interview with Bugra Gunduz – HockeyStack

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Bugra Gunduz

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today.

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I’m joined by Buğra Gündüz. Buğra is the CEO of analytics company HockeyStack. Welcome to the podcast.

Buğra: Yeah, great to be on here.

Mike: Thank you. Well, it’s great to have you on as well. So what we’d like to do is start by asking people, you know, how they got to where they are today. So tell me a bit about your career journey, and why you decided to found HockeyStack.

Buğra: So I’ve never really had a true full time job ever in my life. So I can’t really talk about a career. I started coding when I was really young. I think I was like nine. Ever since then. I’ve been building digital products. That was my obsession throughout my whole life. So naturally, it led me to try out a couple different products, try selling them and build a company. I failed a couple times before. But right now lucky sec. is the one that stuck out.

Mike: You didn’t find it on your own? I mean, how did you find co founders to actually start the company,

Buğra: both of my co founders, we met while building other stuff. That was a benefit of its I saw how they worked. I saw their work ethic, I saw what they liked doing what they didn’t like doing. And when we found a good idea, a naturally had two people that would be really passionate about it, and stick it out with me.

Mike: That’s awesome. You’ve actually like worked with them previously? And got that experience? I think that’s great. So can you explain briefly what HockeyStack does?

Buğra: On the website, hockey sack, it says and is an analytics and attribution company for B2B businesses. Basically, what we do is we collect all data about the B2B customer journey from the start to the end, from marketing, to sales, touch points, to customer success, touch points, everything is collected and merged. And then you can analyse that data to understand what really drives revenue for your company. I guess when people think of attribution software, they think of a very narrow set of software, like traditional attribution software shows you a simple table of sources, and how many customers that those sources both, but what we do is we’re building a data discovery platform. So you can dig into basically any data that is collected from the customer journey. And that allows you to access really, really accurate attribution, rather than just using attribution models, and showing that simple table.

Mike: So I mean, that’s interesting. I’ve got loads of questions about how the product works. But I mean, but I have to ask this question. You know, attribution is famously a difficult problem to solve, particularly in B2B. So why did you pick that area? Was it just because of the challenge?

Buğra: Well, we talked to like 200 to 300 people, before even starting out building a product. And every one of those people said their biggest analytics challenge was actually attribution. People don’t understand still, to this day, even large enterprises don’t understand how their marketing funnel works, which sources work, which sources don’t? Are they getting the value out of what they’re spending on a channel? So I guess that’s why we want to work on it.

Mike: No, I mean, I hear this all the time from our clients, actually, that attribution is one of the hardest things, you know, people are spending money and they, to a large extent, it’s very hard to know what drove prospects become customers. So I totally agree, it’s, it’s definitely a problem worth solving. So maybe you could talk me through, you know, if somebody’s using HockeyStack as a product. I mean, at a high level, you just walk through what they do, to try and understand what marketing activities are driving people to become customers.

Buğra: So there are a couple of ways people approach it. First, let me talk about how it’s set up. Because our setup is one of our biggest differentiators. When you think about a Data Platform usually think about three months, six months at upcycles. Our setup is completed in five minutes. You connect to all your different data sources by Clevedon connect on our UI. You put a simple script on your website. If you have any other software you use that we don’t have an integration for the built the integration for you free of charge. And then once all of that data is collected and merged, you’re presented with templated dashboards that show you a breakdown of each channel and some reports that you find valuable that you see. So just cohorted Comparison Reports for your advertising activity for your event activity for your organic channels. And then you’re presented with also a really flexible Report Builder. So you can go in and think of any report you want to create, and you can build it yourself. People like to build the conversion rate reports by source. And the good thing about collecting all data from all sources together is that you can view conversion rates across the entire funnel. So it can be of conversion rates from an email you sent, which is stored on whatever you send emails to a deal activity. Or if you use your website as a big channel, you can see conversion rates between your emails to your website, so sky’s the limit, you can see conversion rates between anything, you can see the lift of any activity on any conversion rate on your sales cycle. You can see how it affects your sales cycle length, which is a big thing that our customers B2B customers, like to optimise for. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty much how people like to do attribution nowadays.

Mike: So I’m just gonna ask you a question about something you said at the start of that answer. I’m sure you say you build an interface into whatever product you’re using free of charge. Is that right?

Buğra: Yep. And that’s because, one, we’re getting pretty fast at building integration. So it doesn’t have much of a cost associated with it. Obviously, if it’s like a really, really custom thing, like we have some people who have their own in house CRM software that they want to want us to integrate with, which obviously is not free of charge. But if we see that there’s a real deficiency in our product, then we do it free of charge.

Mike: Wow. So I mean, you know, a standard CRM or advertising platform or whatever, that had a decent API, and a reasonable user base, you’d actually just integrate, you know, whether or not you’ve already had that. That’s amazing.

Buğra: Yeah, definitely. I’m not ashamed of admitting that, like, we’re an early stage company, we just got started. The product was launched in February 2002. into, which is pretty pretty early for a software company. So obviously, we won’t cover all of the integrations that companies use, but we’re willing to make the effort to cover our bases.

Mike: I think it’s amazing. I mean, that’s, that’s really refreshing. You hear a lot of people talking about how important integrations are on this podcast. And yet, they still aren’t as flexible as you to build them. So I think that’s amazing. I move back to HockeyStack now and ask you some questions. So I think a lot of people, you know, have maybe done a little bit of work with attribution, they use two different attribution models. So you know, last touch, first touch time decay, whatever it sounds like, you’re actually taking a slightly different approach where you can go and almost interrogate the data to find out the impact of one particular activity on conversion, is that what you’re doing, you’re doing something slightly different, are you trying to, you know, simply allocate value for a conversion across different activities?

Buğra: Well, we also provide attribution models, they’re the not industry standard, so you have to provide them. But our websites is to say 100%, accurate attribution is a pipe dream. And that is because attribution is not about assigning credit to touch points, like those models you use, you use the linear model, for example, the linear model breaks down the entire credit into all touchpoints equally, but in reality, that is not really true, like the person visited, they maybe saw a certain campaign that affected them a lot. And then they had a couple of different touch points that didn’t really affect them. So you can’t really know for sure that that credit is true. One you have to compare across different attribution models, that is very hard, like flexible Report Builder comes into play, because you can compare different attribution models, right on the same report, which nobody else really does to, you have to, like you said, really dig into the data to understand the lift of those activities. That table that attribution table shows you a certain channel as x much credit, but you have to dig into all of those credit deals or companies and see if they actually did those. So we give people a super detailed timeline view of all activity across all stakeholders that a company did, from like any source so that they can really add a glance understand what the company was influenced by And then where this is going in the future is, we’re gonna get smarter, you’re going to be able to understand just like how variable to do qualitatively, we’re going to be able to understand quantitatively, which channel had the most meaningful impact on a customer’s journey. I think there’s a mathematical way of understanding that. But that’s what we’ll be working on in the future, to make it even more accurate, but I really don’t think that attribution models will last like first touch last touch. Those obviously are inaccurate, even multi touch attribution models, I think, are highly inaccurate.

Mike: And that’s interesting. I mean, I think a lot of people have seen a similar thing. You know, if you run, say Google ads campaign, you know that it’s not just the Google Ads that’s that’s driving that, but Google will apply attribution, and and, frankly, quite often do it to make their ads product look good, I think.

Buğra: Well, I meant about that. Google just would most of their attribution models, except for their, I think their last ditch and also data driven. And I’m pretty sure that their data driven model, highly biassed? Is there their Google Glass product?

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I mean, data driven is kind of a bit of a black box model, isn’t it? You don’t really know what’s going on. It’s just just kind of trust us. It’s gonna work model.

Buğra: Yeah. I think there’s a way of like making it work making AI based models work. And we’ll also be working on that. But it’s just that when Google does it, you obviously know that they’re trying to feed their ads product?

Mike: Yeah, of course. I’m also interested about offline activities. I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of tracking of attribution online. I mean, is there a way for you to incorporate offline activities into HockeyStack?

Buğra: Yeah, so we were the first ever company to be able to do not only source based attribution, but action based attribution, that might be really vague to some listeners. But basically, all of their attribution companies show you reports broken down by which channel they came from, or which type of source they came from. With that, you’re not able to really track a lot of other touch points. So what we invented is, we can attribute one action that happened across the customer journey to another action that happened before it. And that action you attribute to, if you change it to be the events, activities, event subscriptions, that you collect on your CRM, then you’ll be able to attribute revenue or any other metric to your event activity. If you change that to be, for example, content consumption, if you’re really heavy on your blog, maybe you can attribute revenue to your blog, and you can be break it down by exactly which blog post they read, and really understand what’s happening in your content marketing. And you can apply that to any offline or online activity.

Mike: And presumably, a lot of what you’re trying to do is make it really easy for the user to actually pick those items. Because I guess one of the challenges is if you look at, you know, a midsize or large size B2B organisation, they’re doing an awful lot. So being able to pull out what’s important is probably one of the big challenges of usability for you.

Buğra: Yeah, definitely. And I believe that their CRM does a lot of the heavy lifting. Even though a CRM as the interface looks really, really complicated. The data we pull from a CRM is super, super valuable. So whatever you input onto there, we can display it for you.

Mike: That’s fantastic. I’m interested in now, I mean, is there a particular sort of type of business that you’ve aimed HockeyStack out? Is there a particular problem you’re trying to solve?

Buğra: Well, we set out to solve analytics for B2B companies with large sales cycles. That’s the type of company that has the most trouble tracking their activities, because there’s so many stakeholders, so many different touchpoints marketing has an effect. Even after the sales conversation starts, marketing still has an effect. So we’re trying to really make it easy for B2B companies to track their marketing activity.

Mike: And when you talk about B2B covers, is this a kind of product that only large enterprises can afford? Or is it a more affordable product for midsize companies?

Buğra: Well, we have customers from both segments. The minimum pricing starts from 12k here, which is pretty affordable for midsize company, I would say. And then for larger companies, I don’t think it’s that expensive of a product compared to a lot of my uptick in sales tech providers MC that are building like crazy amounts delivering no value

Mike: Absolutely. And I think also compared to the amount of money you can save by investing in what actually really drives conversions, rather than the marketing, that’s ineffectual. I mean, the potential return on investment is huge.

Buğra: Yeah, that’s definitely true.

Mike: I mean, just just changing track a bit. I’m interested in how you go about marketing HockeyStack. I mean, you talked a little bit before we started the interview, that you know that that was something we’re quite excited about. So tell me what you do in terms of your marketing.

Buğra: Yeah, I think in the beginning of this company, I for one didn’t understand marketing at all. And we had to go through a lot of challenges, trying to get it up and running. And while doing so, I think we got to really, really learn how marketing should be done in 2023. And our philosophy right now is to make our brand appear everywhere. And that sounds super big. But when you think about it, you can appear everywhere for a small set of people at a time. And once you reach a threshold, once people hear you all around them, they have no choice but to come in, in bulk to asking to do business with you. And a lot of sales conversations, we do start with people saying, Oh, it was long overdue, have we been seeing you around all the time, we’ve been DMing with experts in your team. Like, we already have a relationship with most of the people that we have sales conversation with. And even if you don’t have relationship, we have a one sided relationship where they’re consuming your content. And how we go about doing it is we have a list of customers that we want to target list of about 20 25,000 companies, we select a small set of people from there, we tried to show them our content, one, we produce content that is relevant to them to figure out where they hang out. Currently, they all hang out on LinkedIn. So we push a lot of Lincoln content. Three, we target them with digital advertising. And for whatever podcasts, they listen to, whatever community they’re part of, we are there. And once that happens for that set of people, we can probably observe the effect of that within three, four weeks, and they start coming inbound or inbound volume shoots up, we can attribute it effectively to altruistic those activities we’re doing since we are an education company. And then we move to the other segment of people.

Mike: I mean, that’s really interesting. That sounds, I mean, like you’re so focused, you’re almost, you know, really doing Account Based Marketing, rather than than try and broad brush, you’re trying to really focus down but you’re, you’re not just doing it through classic Account Based Marketing techniques. You’re also looking at trying to understand, you know, as you said, you know, the podcasts that people might be listening to, that’s a really interesting approach to focusing your time and your effort.

Buğra: Yeah, I think it’s either ABM at scale, or it’s brand marketing at a smaller scale.

Mike: And it’s interesting. I mean, clearly, you also believe in frequency. And, you know, as a follow on question, I’m interested in what the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given in marketing and how you’ve implemented that, in campaigns you’ve run.

Buğra: I’ve never been given a good piece of advice and marketing. I’ll be honest with you. I had a lot of advisors, when trying to get everything up and running when we had $0 in revenue. I think everyone’s journey is different. Every single company is different. What works for a company doesn’t work for another company, even though it is the same exact company, even if it was the same exact company wouldn’t work simply because you’re doing it a different cohort of people and a different time. If you give it enough time, every single strategy will work. We just needed to find one that we could scale up fast and stick to it.

Mike: And that’s interesting, because it sounds like what you’re saying is you’ve You’ve almost got to experiment and find out what works for you. Because you’re almost saying maybe you haven’t been given great advice, but perhaps there isn’t that magic piece of advice that you can get.

Buğra: Yeah, basically, let me tell you the story of how this all came up. We weren’t growing at all he had revenue. But this is like early last year, we had launched a product but couldn’t get it up and running. And then we were following the trivet traditional marketing playbook, like running ads, doing blog posts, ebooks, etc. And at some point, I thought we’re not growing. We need something that is truly different than what we’re doing right now. because it’s obvious that this is gonna take a long time. And it’s not because the strategy was bad is because like, we just couldn’t make it Soviet something different that we could scale up fast. So one day, me and my co founder sat down, we kept all of our growth related documentation on notion. We sat down on notion we deleted everything. And then we wrote down, what do you want to test what we think as prospect of forgetting what the saw that worked in the past, and basically, our strategies for testing that within a single month. And then we got to doing it. Within two months, from all those things we tested, we rolled out like 70% of them, the 30% We kept was the goldmine, because he got really good at executing those. And we got really fast at getting results from those. Two months later, we saw our first contract signed from a prospect that came from those activities, and then it scaled up from there. And right now we have really, really good volume, I think we’re one of the fastest growing B2B companies in the space. So I guess that works.

Mike: That’s amazing. I love the way that you started by throwing everything away and starting from scratch from first principles. I think that’s, that’s very impressive, and probably very brave as well.

Buğra: Yeah, I mean, it was really obvious that it didn’t work. And I think there are a lot of big companies, that should do it right now as well. Like, I’m talking to a lot of marketing people every day. And I’m seeing that 90% of those companies don’t really have a good marketing strategy. They’re just getting customers because they’re big.

Mike: I’m interested, I mean, we’ve talked about this and some of the difficulty around finding the right tactics. And we’ve also, at the moment, seeing a lot of new tools coming in. And you know, everyone’s freaking out at the moment about AI replacing marketing jobs. One thing we’d like to ask, you know, all I guess is, if you knew a young person who was thinking of going into marketing, what would be your advice,

Buğra: my advice would be to go work at a small early stage startup, really observe everything that they’re getting from the market, every signal that they’re getting from the market, and be able to deliver that company, a, an asymmetric amount of value, by reacting to those signals, it’s really easy to do marketing, I think, you just need to go and try it out yourself. And you need the products to work on that product to be your child. So you can prove yourself. And once you make that company work, you can basically do anything.

Mike: That’s That’s great advice. I mean, it is, it is certainly challenging, I think for people, you know, new to the marketing industry to to go into that startup environment. But I love that thought and the feeling that people would have such an accelerated learning curve in the environment.

Buğra: Yeah, well, the easy way to get into a startup is to provide them value upfront, a startup will always need you to give them more value than they’re giving you. So they’re gonna give you a low salary, they’re gonna give you equity, that doesn’t really equate to anything that has a 99% chance of going to zero. And they’re gonna give you long hours, they’re gonna give you no work life balance. You have to endure that, like in the various stages of your career, you can’t really seek out work life balance or a higher salary. You just need to endure that prove yourself out. And then you will do whatever you want.

Mike: That’s amazing. Invest in yourself by that, you know, tough first few years. And then the world’s your oyster, I guess. Definitely. This has been amazing. It’s been very interesting. We’ve covered, you know, all sorts of things from career advice all the way through to, you know, I think just scratching the surface on on analytics and attribution. Is there anything you feel we should have covered that we haven’t talked about?

Buğra: No, I think this was really helpful. I’m gonna repurpose some kind of out of this as well. So

Mike: well, I mean, thank you, Buğra, for being on the podcast. I know that people listening will be interested in maybe asking you questions, and certainly, you know, taking a look at HockeyStack to see if it can help them understand what are their marketing activities are actually generating revenue. So how can people contact you if they want more information?

Buğra: Yeah, I’m really active on LinkedIn. So if you DM me there, I’ll definitely see it I read on and that’s just my thought and

Mike: that’s great. And what about the product? Where should people go to find out more about HockeyStack?

Buğra: To find out more about HockeyStack, we have a great website, good copy, hockey We have a live demo. You can go and play with the product yourself. That is the entire product that we put on there like we put the exact product you see onto the website and you can play with it for free without giving out anything

Mike: That’s fantastic. That was probably, I think, you know, a great marketing tool as well. It gives people a really good understanding of the capabilities that probably goes way beyond any number of web pages trying to explain it.

Buğra: You know, I think that’s one of the best things we ever did. And it was by accident.

Mike: That’s great. And I think maybe that’s a story for another podcast. I mean, Buğra, thank you so much for being such a great guest on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.