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How the Datarails team used Gong to develop a whopping 300% increase in ARR

Coaching Strategic Initiatives Small Business Europe/Middle East/Africa North America Software
Increase in ARR

The challenge

DataRails has a product that exists in a crowded space. Their challenge is to build awareness of the brand and demonstrate how the platform stands out from the competition.

The outcome

The Marketing team uses Gong to understand their audience and the true voice of customers. They use this uncovered knowledge to construct impactful campaigns that better target their audience and keep them ahead of competition.


New York, New York



company size



Software Development

Written by
Jonathan Marciano, Director of Communications at Datarails

Do you remember the popular 80s cartoon “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” When Prince Adam transformed into the muscle-bound hero, he shouted, “I have the power!” But did you know that the phrase came from a kid? Market researchers were listening to children playing with their He-Man toys and they heard one of the kids say, “I have the power.” They pulled it into the animated series and the rest, as they say, is history.

I experienced a He-Man moment with my Datarails marketing team. Using the Gong Revenue Intelligence Platform, our marketers had the power to listen to our customers and use their words to influence action and guide products — and create an incredibly successful marketing campaign.

Even as adults, we form connections with fictional characters and public figures, and we love it when they say what we’re thinking. That was the magic ingredient behind Datarails’s “Hollywood Stars Narrate financial planning and analysis (FP&A) Processes” viral video, and a campaign that put the words of financial professionals in the mouths of popular television stars. It was a He-Man-level moment for our marketing team, and one whose lessons we’ve carried forward with us.

We focused on an under-recognized role to build awareness in a crowded space

Datarails is a fast-growing company. Our FP&A platform automates financial reporting in Excel. It uses machine learning and AI to consolidate and analyze data in multiple Excel spreadsheets, then transform it into easy-to-understand charts and graphs. It gives financial professionals advanced analytics capabilities without giving up their most trusted tool, Excel.

Our product exists in a crowded space. My challenge as Director of Communications is to build awareness of our brand, demonstrate how our platform stands out from the competition, and generate excitement about a potentially dry subject. I wanted to inject humor and humanity into FP&A because the people who use it in their work aren’t often in the spotlight. Their manual processes aren’t as exciting as strategic work, so nobody talks much about their pains and passions or thinks too much about the personalities of these professionals. We wanted to change that.

How we started using Gong in our marketing to channel the voice of our customers

The “Hollywood Stars” campaign was powered by Gong, an innovative platform that captures customer interactions to gather data that we can turn into strategic insights. Gong integrates with CRM software and uses AI models to analyze calls and trends, determine market dynamics, and suggest next steps. It’s a powerful tool that helps sales representatives and revenue teams increase conversion rates.

Buyers offer up a lot of information when they talk to sales reps. They may mention what’s bothering them about a product, but just as often they’ll share that they’re having a bad day, or that their kid scored a home run in yesterday’s Little League game. Analyzing people’s actual words provides deeper insights than having them answer the pre-written questions on a customer satisfaction survey and trying to interpret the results.

Given the power of the platform, I thought, “Why not use it for marketing?” It seemed like the perfect solution to help me discover and channel the voice of the customer.

In marketing, you have to understand your audience and speak their language. Otherwise, your campaigns will miss the mark.

In marketing, you have to understand your audience and speak their language. Otherwise, your campaigns will miss the mark. I’d heard about Gong before joining Datarails in 2021, but this was my first opportunity to leverage it. Gong allows leaders across an organization to capture insights from customer interactions and hear what customers have to say.

Marketing professionals like me can use its keyword trackers and Smart Trackers (the latest AI in concept tracking) to spot emerging trends and identify potential thought leaders among our customers. I use it frequently to gain visibility into what our users think, see, and feel when they engage with our product. For example, when I first joined Datarails, I heard a conversation in which a CEO wanted their company to phase out Excel. As a finance person, it was her worst nightmare. This real-life story was sure to resonate with Datarails customers, so I turned it into a social post (with anonymized content, of course) about the anxieties of FP&A professionals who are asked to swap their primary work tool for something “a little more modern.”

A campaign using real customer interactions tripled our ARR by 300%

That early post led to the “Hollywood Stars” campaign. I thought it would be fun to have television actors reenact customer calls about Datarails and Excel. Whether it’s sports, movies, music, or work, we’ve all had friends’ and colleagues’ eyes glaze over when we talk about something we love or find frustrating. We decided  to take complaints that others found dull and transform them by having Hollywood actors express them out of context. This campaign would allow us to share our customers’ pain points in a language our audience understands and appreciates but that is tedious to the outside world — chopping and manipulating data and the kind of stuff FP&A professionals find fascinating. Imagine a hitman talking about spreadsheets or a ditzy teenager who can barely pronounce basic Excel functions, and you get the idea. 


We shared the campaign on LinkedIn, and FP&A professionals latched on. The video got more than 150 likes, shares, and reshares from industry professionals and received news coverage in top trade media, including an Accounting Today piece that generated 15 opportunities. We ran the campaign on a shoestring budget, spending $4,000 for television stars from The Sopranos, Clueless, Baywatch, and The West Wing, to act out actual customer dialogue retrieved from Gong. It was fabulous and fun.

Those initial LinkedIn shares were the tip of the iceberg. People shared the campaign on WhatsApp and Slack, and that social exposure increased our follower count, further fueling requests for demos. We even heard that Gong’s team was sharing the video with other customers.

But the campaign was more than viral fun. Brand content such as this helped Datarails grow our annual recurring revenue (ARR) by 300% last year.

Insights let us make smart business decisions that prioritize our customers

We also used Gong to create a fun video featuring one of our sales reps. “Days of our Lives with Robert Reis” edits footage of him talking about his wife and kids during customer interactions. It showcases his sense of humor and humanity as he shares personal anecdotes about family life to relate to Datarails’s customers and their professional struggles. This montage got a lot of traction on LinkedIn. Robert’s customers and colleagues commented on the video and shared it with their peers, who thought he was relatable. Once again, we humanized FP&A professionals and our brand using customer interactions from Gong that we knew would resonate.

Every customer insight we gather from Gong provides us with more growth opportunities. We recently launched another campaign based on a sentiment that CFOs and finance professionals say in passing: that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what they need to do. The idea came from searching for “clone” in Gong. I found so many people making off-the-cuff remarks like, “I wish I could clone myself,” and “I wish there were more of me.” We built the campaign, “Not a Clone,” around this idea which the media loved and it featured in Fortune and other news sites. It included  a video and a portal where people can insert their LinkedIn picture and see five different “clones” of themselves. An online petition to ‘Make finance teams strategic leaders, not poor clones of themselves’ has been signed by nearly 1400 people including CEOs, COOs, and CFOs. A lot of the language from Gong is included in the campaign, and we’re collaborating with 10 other FP&A companies to spread the message. 

Gong’s direct access to customer concerns allows marketers to analyze and understand the metrics that mean the most to them.

Datarails is a small company with only 200 employees, but our growth potential is massive because Excel is entrenched at so many companies worldwide. Despite our limited marketing budget, Gong gives us direct access to customer concerns, allowing us to analyze and understand the metrics that mean the most to them. With this clarity around what FP&A professionals and CFOs need to know about their businesses, we build Datarails automations that allow our users to extract relevant metrics and KPIs from their spreadsheets. Gong provides valuable business intelligence that helps us add these features and target our customers’ needs. 

Gong-based campaigns keep us ahead of the competition

Great campaigns come from listening to customers. Gong has given me and the Datarails marketing team a way to get closer to our customers, allowing us to create content that resonates deeply with them. Our “Hollywood Stars” campaign began as a “wouldn’t it be funny if,” idea and turned into a hit. Gong was at the core of that campaign, and recognized our work with the Golden Gong Innovator Award

As a marketer, I realize that generating publicity and newsworthy stories means staying ahead of the curve, embracing changing markets, and adapting quickly to our customers’ needs. Customer data from Gong helps us spot new pain points before they enter the mainstream conversation — and before our competitors are aware they exist. Thanks to Gong, I can echo the words of He-Man and proudly say, “I have the power!”


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