Anne de Kerckhove: Celebrating my Anniversary as Freespee CEO on International Women’s Day

Anne de Kerckhove_Freespee CEO

As an active promoter of women in leadership roles, celebrating my work anniversary at Freespee is particularly meaningful as I started my tenure of CEO on International Women’s Day. What a year it turned out to be!

Freespee grew by over 58% in terms of top-line revenue with fantastic brands across Europe. We grew the team across Sweden and London hiring so many brilliant, interesting, quirky people. Each person who works at Freespee has a unique history, unique passions and unique talents. Some are great musicians, others body builders, some are ex-skiing champions, other great cooks. Most have travelled the world and explored different cultures. The more I get to know my teams, the more I discover their great unique stories and journeys. Two passions tend to bring us together: a love of discovery and innovation.

I tried to push the topic of diversity of gender, backgrounds and nationalities every day.  I push our Freespee teams to let go of their boundaries, their fears, their pre-conceived notions of other people to become one unified team, in love with its diversity. With over 15 nationalities across the company, we don’t shy away from discussing the particularities of each country. We talk about them openly and laugh about our differences.

Beyond my work at Freespee, I mentored 8 women towards the next step in their career through the INSEAD mentoring program, amongst others and I invested in 3 companies with female co-founders.

As a speaker at many conferences, I push audiences to explore their desire to take risk, to create change, to build new different teams. I often talk about the taboos most people shy away from.

As I reflect on the year gone past, I wonder: have I done enough? Am I having impact? Am I creating change?

Society still has so many stereotypes, so many pre-conceived notions about our roles as men and women in society, about what is acceptable.

One of the most telling moments for me this year took place in September. I was a guest speaker in Paris at a conference for Les Sommets du Digital. Half an hour before my speech, I broke the zipper of my trousers. It was annoying but I certainly was not going to let it ruin my night.

 I tried to hide the issue with a long flowing top but I am a very animated speaker and within 30 seconds of my speech starting, everybody in the room could tell my zipper was undone. A sea of panic hit the audience and I could feel it sweep across the room. As I finished the speech, I explained to the crowd that my zipper had broken, that I was aware of it and laughed about the joys of speaking on stage and managing the unexpected. The crowd immediately sighed of relief and joined me in laughing about how uncomfortable the situation had made them feel. Together, we had almost let a tiny piece of metal take over this conference and our shared experience!

We need to see past our differences and learn to let go! We must learn to see beyond appearances and learn to truly see the people that surround us. We must focus on positive impact in everything we do.

In a time of political uncertainty, of conflict and social media manipulation, it is more important than ever to take a deeper look and to see past the superficialities.

Despite some good progress it is frustrating that in 2019 we are still talking about the challenges of building equality in the workplace.

The truth is change won’t just happen because we want; tech leaders – men and women – must keep pushing for it on a daily basis.

Phone Calls: How To Close This Gap In Lead Management

girl on phone

Phone calls are arguably the black hole in lead management. Why? Because calls are now the highest converting lead source for most businesses, yet a large number of companies are still putting funding into digital advertising without an idea of how these investments are bringing in leads. According to Gartnerout of 14 categories of marketing activity, 65% of marketing leaders surveyed told us they plan to increase their spending on digital advertising.”

The fact remains, customers will close a sale when they are ready, not when the company is ready to sell to them. When they do call, that interaction is more likely to result in a sales lead than relying on web marketing alone.

It’s not that the marketing isn’t working, it is…phone numbers are being dialled and click to calls are initiated as a result of marketing efforts. Proving the ROI of this ad spend is where many brands are at an impasse. The ability to accurately measure campaigns is the goal of most marketing teams and yet the hole is there, how do you measure offline interactions and manage the leads that come from them, especially phone calls?

Understand who the lead is going to

When multi-locational brands like those in the automotive sector send qualified leads to their vendors, the expectation is that follow up is immediate. Not always, it can be difficult for brands to trace the customer journey when they leave the brand website. Using workflows can set up a lead nurturing protocol for vendors so that calls are not missed and brands have full visibility of every step.

Call data is gold, use it

Seriously. Stream call data into software that can meld into an existing system. It’s easier than it seems. With this data, build digital profiles for customers to create personalised experiences for every caller and help sales teams understand exactly who they are selling to – resulting in higher conversion rates.

Infosys found that 59% of shoppers who have experienced personalisation believe it has a noticeable influence on purchasing. Despite the stats, there is a startling lack of investment in personalisation technology, according to Pure 360 via econsultancy, “38 per cent of companies are not undertaking any personalisation.”


Calling customers aren’t going away anytime soon and despite the advances in communication technology, large purchases still need the cushioning of a good conversation. Technology is accenting this process with features that make it beneficial for both ends of the line. Fill the gap by paying attention to who’s calling.

Via: Gartner, Pure 360.

Freespee: Finalists For The ICMA Technology Award!

Happy days! Freespee was voted as a finalist for the Technology award at the ICMA (International Classified Marketplace Association) Innovation Award ceremony held in Vienna, Austria last week. 
Adrien De Malherbe, our VP for Marketplaces, presented on how the Freespee platform enables marketplaces to better serve their buyers and sellers. 
Notably, Freespee stood out as the only company out of twelve that was a provider (offering services to other marketplaces). It’s an honour to have been placed so highly next to in-house developed technologies!
More about the Technology award via ICMA’s website:
“Virtual insanity” – Technology award – for most revolutionary tech implementation
The award aims to highlight the key tech players in our industry. Advances in Technology that created more efficiency, cost effectivity and have provided firms with an invaluable reach to clients and customers is what the jury will be looking for. This section is also open for service providers.
Thank you to the ICMA judges for our award!

Women In STEM: Organisations Building A Future For Female Coders

“Code is the next universal language, in the seventies it was punk music that drove a whole generation, in the eighties it was probably money — but for my generation of people software is the interface to our imagination and our world,” said Linda Liukas, a Finnish programmer who left a cushy job at Codecademy to develop a children’s book aimed at teaching little girls (4 – 7 years) about coding and tech.
Called Hello, Ruby — the illustrated book, named after the programming language was authored and mocked up by Liukas herself, going on to raise hundreds of thousands in funding. Since then she’s released more titles in the “Ruby” series to promote further the need for getting girls into tech as soon as possible.
Liukas isn’t the only STEM enthusiast to push these topics on future generations; there are numerous organisations in existence and forming that are intent on creating a space for women in tech. Here are a few worth a mention:

Girls Who Code

Founder Reshma Saujani introduced Girls Who Code to the world in 2012 as a way to teach young women how to master computer science. “The technology field is where new jobs are being created, and if we want to increase opportunities for women and girls, it has to be in that field,” she told Time. Her US-based non-profit includes a 7-week Summer Immersion Program, 2-week specialised Campus Program, after school Clubs and a 13-book series. So far, “88%​ ​of​ ​alumni​ ​have​ ​declared​ ​a​ ​CS​ ​major/minor​ ​or​ ​are​ ​more​ ​interested​ ​in CS​ ​because​ ​of​ ​Girls​ ​Who​ ​Code,” states the website.

Rails Girls

The brainchild of Hello, Ruby’s Linda Liukas, and Karri Saarinen the Finnish workshop gets its name from the web application framework Rails and began in 2010 as a workshop program but has grown into a global non-profit volunteer collective teaching coding to girls in countries like India, Romania, and Uganda.

CodeFirst: Girls

This social enterprise, founded in 2014 is focused on eradicating the barriers put before women pursuing a STEM education. “We want to change society and the face of the UK economy by teaching 20,000 women how to code for free by the end of 2020,” states the website.

Girls in Tech

A global non-profit geared towards helping women quickly advance in the STEM field. Girls In Tech was created by Adriana Gascoigne, a former tech executive, and current activist and entrepreneur. She started GIT after noticing she was the only woman in a company of 50 people. One of their notable events is “Hacking For Humanity,” a year-long endeavour that debuted last year with the intention of creating something that could help humanity. The winners were a hackathon team in Melbourne, Australia who created an online tool to make it easier for families to find missing loved ones. They were awarded a prize of $2000.00. Since its formation more than a decade ago, GIT has accrued 50,000 members in 60 chapters worldwide.

Code Like a Girl

The Australian company runs workshops throughout the country to bring together girls interested in the tech sphere. Speaker events like “Programmed for Success” include stories of women who have defied the odds in the STEM world.
These are only a few of the many companies created to create a space for women in tech. Despite these groups being primarily for the female sect, they also invite the opposite sex into many of their projects. Indeed, their purpose is to promote inclusivity in the industry and avoid gender favouritism. Let’s “code-exist” happily.
Via: Forbes, Time, STEM, TEDX

A Few Ways We’re Entering The Age Of Digital Context

digital context blog

The “Quantified Self” is a movement developed by Wired magazine’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly which explores incorporating technology to collect data on every aspect of a person’s daily life. Practitioners often wear self-monitoring and self-sensing sensors like; Apple Watches, FitBits and even sleep-monitoring headbands like Zeo to determine sleep patterns.

“Our goal is to gather and organise the world’s collective self-tracking resources in one place, in a way that is useful for self-tracking experts and beginners who are just starting out,” writes Gary Wolf on their official website.

It seems a bit voyeuristic, but this is touching on the future of how we interact, soon our digital context will be as commonplace as a blood type.

Digital context merely is our IoT footprint; the pages we look at, the passwords we save and the data we implement into technology to make our lives so much easier. For marketers and anyone in e-commerce, this information is a goldmine and can be used to make the purchase journey much smoother. Still, it can be challenging to keep up with a modern-day prospect.

“The shift in consumer attitudes toward sharing data with connected devices is the most important shift in digital consumption since the advent of mobility. It is a big deal for marketers and innovators to be thinking about,” writes David Norton for Entrepreneur.
Forming digital context can be achieved by utilising techniques such as personalisation for individual users and segmenting for larger groups. This is where dynamic content comes in.

Dynamic content

The core of why digital context is so important to both B2C brands and their consumers has a lot to do with personal relationships. Giving a company your name, gender, birthday, etc., is meant to establish an intimate connection. Customers want to feel like they are being spoken to directly even if they are just one of many.
“Personalisation in an analogue world existed when the guy at the video store knew your name. As we move into an increasingly connected and switched-on digital age, personalisation is a powerful tool where a company knows what you want to buy before you’ve even thought about it,” writes Samuel Shepherd for Relevance.

So far, 86 percent of UK brands are aiming to personalise their communications according to Experian.
Dynamic content is useful in this way because it creates a playground for brands to establish an accurate context for each customer. Examples of this include, personalised emails, webinars or meet-ups based on a person’s location, progressive profiling (allows you to select which form fields appear based on the information you already have about a particular lead) and algorithms like Facebook’s News Feed or Amazon’s recommendation system. Studies have shown that click rates can increase by 5 percent when using methods like this.

However, nothing is perfect, and there has been backlash with this form of customer engagement,
“Nearly 90% of respondents are happy with brands using their data to personalise the way they communicate with them as long as what is being said is relevant to them or it’s from companies they have recently purchased from. In the same vein, 67% of respondents found it intrusive if brands they have never purchased from use their details to personalise their comms,” says Experian in a white paper.

The future of digital context

This is where a movement like the “Quantified Self” could be onto something. More and more, a prospect engages with multiple touch-points each day, utilising numerous screens. Therefore the future of establishing digital context could involve a more cognitive take.
Understanding the movements of a customer on a specific site is one thing, but if the future means we’ll be logging the minutiae of our day into technology — what’s stopping brands from collecting this information to further customise an experience just for one?

In fact, “A survey by fashion research unit Sonar found that 64% of UK millennials also believe that, as the technology develops, brands that use AI will soon be able to predict what they want to buy accurately,” says Drapers.

Learn more about Freespee’s contextual routing here 

A lot could change before then, regression is possible, but still, our digital context could one day tell us more about ourselves than we ever expected.

Via: Experian, Drapers, Entrepreneur, Quantified Self, Relevance, Salesforce Pardot.