Martech Edge | Best News on Marketing and Technology
GFG image


Martech Edge Interview with Dmytro Kudrenko, Founder and CEO, Stripo

Martech Edge Interview with Dmytro Kudrenko, Founder and CEO, Stripo

email marketing 22 Feb 2024

Welcome, Dmitry! You have been involved in various entrepreneurial ventures throughout your career; what drives you to pursue new opportunities and challenges as a founder and CEO?

Thank you for the warm welcome! My journey from coder to entrepreneur was fueled by a desire to make a tangible impact. It all started with a realization—true innovation isn’t just about writing code; it’s about solving the challenges that people face every day.

What motivates me is the potential to drive change through technology. Take Stripo, for example. We wanted to make email marketing easier for everyone, especially those without coding skills. One of the most rewarding moments at Stripo was when a user shared how our platform transformed their business by saving time and enhancing their marketing strategy. This kind of feedback is a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.

For me, the drive comes from seeing the difference that our technology makes in people’s lives. Learning, adapting, and preparing for the future are what inspire me every day in this entrepreneurial journey.

How did you start Stripo? What was the initial idea behind establishing the company?

When we started Stripo, I had already been in email marketing for 10 years and saw a big problem. Email marketers often struggled to make HTML emails look good on different email clients and devices. Usually, you need to know how to code to do this, but many marketers didn’t have these skills. They had to spend time learning to code instead of doing their main marketing jobs, which was a real headache. They had two choices: ask for help from developers, which wasn’t always easy, or try to learn coding themselves.

At Stripo, we wanted to fix this. Our idea was to let marketers easily create great-looking HTML emails without having to know how to code. This would free them to focus more on their marketing plans and other important work. Our first slogan was all about this: “Build beautiful HTML emails fast without coding skills.”

Actually, many have tried to solve this problem, but I’ve noticed that they most quickly move on to higher-level tasks sending emails, analyzing, and personalizing—forgetting about the foundation they started with and never fully completing the task. We believe in doing one thing well, so we’ve chosen to focus solely on email creation and process optimization around it. For the past seven years, we’ve been dedicated to this and still see a roadmap full of improvements for years to come.

Stripo is a powerful tool that helps businesses create stunning and responsive emails in minutes. How does the Stripo Editor streamline the workflow of email design and development? How does embedding the plugin enhance the user experience and productivity?

It’s crucial to understand that creating emails isn’t just about crafting quality, professional HTML, or how it appears in Outlook and Gmail. What’s more important is what exactly in the email looks good. Stripo allows marketers to focus on the message, which involves many steps:

- Planning

- Coordination

- Design

- Copywriting (sometimes in multiple languages)

- Coding

- Deployment and integration

- Testing

- Analytics

At each step, various specialists are involved, spending time on coordination and revisions. Our initial priority was to find ways to minimize revisions throughout the testing and coordination process. At Stripo, we aimed to preserve the designer’s original vision in each iteration and maintain control over modifications. We strive to implement the principle of built-in quality. Whatever you do, it always works and adheres to the rules and standards.

While Stripo is an exceptional tool, it’s essential to recognize that it represents yet another tool for marketers. Hence, it was a priority for us to ensure one-click integration with as many systems as possible. We support integration with over 80 email service providers (ESPs) and various platforms, streamlining the workflow for marketers. This integration capability is a testament to our commitment to making email creation and deployment as seamless and efficient as possible, allowing marketers to focus more on strategy and less on technicalities.

From the outset, we designed our editor with the vision that it should be effortlessly usable by other vendors (ESPs, CDPs, etc.), enabling them to customize its functionality to meet their specific needs. If a user aims to enhance the quality and speed of email creation, we focus on facilitating one-click integration.

For vendors looking to elevate this experience for their customers, we ensure that minimal development is needed for integration. Just a couple lines of code, and our editor can be embedded within another product with the help of the plugin. The plugin is popular among software companies of all sizes, from small startups to big corporations. Essentially, it’s for any website, CRM, ESP, or other tools that need a modern, easy-to-use drag-and-drop email builder.

You have a strong passion for Lean principles and how they can improve email marketing. How have you implemented Lean principles in your work at Stripo, and what are the benefits for your customers?

For sure, I am a big fan of Lean principles. At Stripo, we’ve cultivated an environment where errors are seen as learning steps. The key is to eliminate the fear of failure among team members. When mistakes happen, we don’t blame anybody for them; instead, we learn from them, support each other, and move forward swiftly. Additionally, we regularly release updates and focus on continuous improvement, prioritizing what will bring the most benefit to our customers from our efforts. Take a look at our Release Notes, which we’ve been publishing for seven years. It shows how frequently and how much we do, as well as how much time we dedicate to fixing bugs.

Here are my recommendations on how to incorporate Lean strategies into email marketing:

  • Be ready to adapt your strategy. In the fast-paced business world, waiting for a complete strategy can lead to missed opportunities. It’s better to determine a general direction and take initial steps. Learning and adapting from ongoing data is key. For instance, a comprehensive email marketing strategy might become irrelevant by the time it’s finalized.
  • Embrace the MVP approach. Instead of fully developing an idea from the start, begin with a basic version. For instance, when dealing with abandoned shopping carts, you might be uncertain about the specific item left in the cart. In this case, send a general reminder about the incomplete purchase, along with a link to your site for completion. This simple action is more effective than no action at all.
  • Include experiments in mass mailings. Continual experimentation is crucial for success in mass email campaigns. Each mailing should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and test hypotheses about your audience.
  • Always focus on mistakes. In Lean methodology, defects are considered a form of waste. Addressing errors promptly is essential. For example, quickly fixing a broken link in an email trigger minimizes the negative impact. Even small overlooked errors can lead to significant issues.
  • Take a look at the ShuHaRi model, inspired by Japanese martial arts, which represents stages of learning and mastery that are applicable to the evolution of business communication.

The ShuHaRi model consists of three stages:

- Shu: Following established best practices

- Ha: Experimenting and adapting these practices

- Ri: Innovating and establishing new practices

In email marketing, this model helps to focus on appropriate metrics at each stage, evolving from implementation to experimentation and innovation.

During the Shu phase, email marketers should prioritize implementation depth over traditional metrics such as Open Rate or Click-Through Rate. The key is how well strategies are executed, as this impacts revenue the most while also considering the time invested. In the Ha stage, experimentation is crucial. You’ll challenge standard practices and seek alternatives by analyzing past campaigns. Once you have mastered the basics, in the final Ri stage, you transition from merely following guidelines to setting your own and fostering innovative development within your organization.

Additionally, our goal at Stripo is to refine processes to minimize waste and maximize resource use. We emphasize quality in everything we do, from the emails we craft to the overall customer experience. We strive to be a company where innovative ideas are not only generated but also brought to fruition, regardless of the challenges in resources, time, or people.

Your solution enables marketing teams, especially email marketers, to create personalized and engaging campaigns that resonate with their audiences. How does your solution achieve this goal, and what features make it stand out?

We have a wide range of features that make us stand out, including the following:

1. Modular email design: This lets you build email components once and use them in many campaigns. It speeds up email creation, keeps your brand consistent, simplifies edits, and reduces testing. Users can separate design from data for fully automated email production.

2. WYSIWYG Editor: This stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” It shows email content in the editor as it would appear in subscribers’ inboxes. Users can edit mobile and desktop versions differently to suit their needs.

3. We’re integrated with over 80 ESPs, including big names such as Mailchimp and HubSpot and clients such as Outlook and Gmail. Stripo enables easy email exporting to platforms without hassle.

4. We offer over 1,500 ready-to-use email templates suitable for various industries and events.

5. Interactive module generator: This new tool lets users create interactive games (such as wheels of fortune, scratch cards, and questionnaires) without coding. It provides an AMP version, an interactive HTML fallback, and a text fallback to cover all email clients.

6. Brand guidelines kit generator: Users can easily create a brand book from their templates to ensure consistency in all newsletters.

7. Stripo’s Email Translate service enables businesses to localize newsletters for global markets with over 100 languages. It offers direct integration with Google Translate for instant translations in the email editor. In addition, it is possible to download XLS and JSON files with translations made by professional translators.

8. Email client preview: Our tool allows previews across 90+ devices and major email clients.

Each feature aims to make email marketing easier for users. When we think of new features, we always consider how they will simplify email creation.

Stripo’s email template library offers a unique competitive advantage over other vendors in the market. What key features make the email template library different and stand out from the rest?

I would say that a template is a good starting point for creating your own design, but the routine of working with the same templates can quickly become monotonous.

We ensure that our templates are structured and equipped with a set of modules that allow for the rapid creation of new emails daily.

So, our strength lies not just in our template library but more so in our module library.

Additionally, we create processes to ensure that once brand design rules are established, they are difficult for other team members to deviate from in daily use.

How do you see the future of email marketing evolving, particularly in the context of Lean principles and faster delivery of value? What emerging trends and best practices should marketers be aware of?

The core value of Lean is continuous improvement. For marketers, this translates into one thing: test, test, and test again

To ensure that testing is worth more than its cost, we must optimize routine processes significantly. Part of this optimization is where we come in at Stripo.

Regarding trends, I believe most tasks will be delegated to machines, allowing marketers to focus not on sending emails but on the value they bring to communications. This should be the case now, but with technology being so diverse, much time is spent mastering it.

Stripo is open to new partnerships and collaborations. What key factors or criteria do you consider when choosing a potential partner that would create a mutually beneficial relationship?

We’re wholeheartedly diving into projects aimed at one main goal: making email communication better. This means helping marketers easily bring their ideas to life and ensuring that customers get exactly what they expect from vendors.

For example, right now, we’re proud to have over 80 integrations with different ESPs, and we’re always excited to team up with more to give our users even more options for sending their emails.

If we’re talking about teaming up for marketing efforts, it’s key that our future partners are on the same page as us about where email marketing is headed. Also, we really care about with whom we partner. They need to have a good name in the industry for being reliable, delivering top-notch quality, and playing fair and square. And let’s not forget about keeping data safe and private. Our partners need to take this as seriously as we do, with strong measures in place to keep everyone’s information secure.

Additionally, we consistently participate in educational programs, conferences, and similar events to support our mission of shaping the evolution of email marketing.

MarTech Edge Interview with Liviu Tanase, Chief Executive Officer, ZeroBounce

MarTech Edge Interview with Liviu Tanase, Chief Executive Officer, ZeroBounce

email marketing 30 Nov 2023

Welcome, Liviu! What inspired you to start ZeroBounce, and could you provide an overview of the company's evolution from its inception to its present standing?

Thank you very much for your interest and for allowing me to tell you the ZeroBounce story. 

Inspired is the word for how I felt during and after the initial brainstorming for developing an enhanced email list scrubbing software. Like so many big ideas, the catalyst was a personal need for an email validation program that could identify invalid email addresses for removal.

At the same time, I started hearing about email-related pains from all kinds of business people, from solopreneurs to CEOs – everything from emails landing in spam to no delivery at all. I could see that the problem was primarily inadequate email hygiene. Instead of making an email validation platform just for me, it became clear this could help people in all kinds of industries to an unbelievable extent.

Our core product became email validation, and because it was accurate and easy to use, it helped ZeroBounce stand out among competitors. We listened intently to our customers and heard what their email struggles were. So, we started adding more tools designed to help you reach the inbox. We now offer an email scoring tool, email deliverability testing, blocklist monitoring, and DMARC monitoring.

We recently released our Email Finder tool. After using so many email-finding services that would provide invalid email addresses, it was clear that there must be a better way. So, we developed an email finder that identifies the email address while ensuring it has yet to be abandoned or has some other problem.

We can help pretty much anyone who wants a more significant number of the emails they send to land in their recipients' inbox. From promotional to transactional emails, we've checked them all.

Having an Entrepreneurship and Business Administration foundation, how has your educational background influenced your strategy in establishing five companies?

When I think back to my educational foundation, it needs to be specific facts or algebraic formulas that come to mind. Learning and self-teaching are the most important things I've picked up from educators.

I can't remember the teacher who introduced me to qualitative learning, but it's stayed with me more than anything. Instead of learning many things, qualitative learning focuses on the quality of what you learn. It was a real paradigm shift: focusing on the quality of the material you're trying to retain creates a superior outcome over stockpiling tons of information and concepts of varying worth.

So, when I began establishing my companies, I thought back to these concepts and realized that I needed to find a fun and engaging way to pass them along to my team. Furthermore, I wanted to ensure that everyone who wanted to go on the journey with us had the same understanding of the importance of education. We push the quality of learning and teaching to this day and are always happy to assist in everyone's continuing education, from new hires to the corporate boardroom.

I'm also continuing my education and am currently enrolled in Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management program. The day-to-day practice of running a business ultimately makes you an entrepreneur. But getting continuous education – in every career stage – is invaluable.

How does ZeroBounce's email scoring system work, and how does it benefit clients in improving their email campaigns?

The greatest benefit of using an email scoring service is that you filter out potentially invalid leads to focus on the most valuable ones.

Frequently, administrators set up catch-all email accounts to collect all of the emails sent to a domain. That way, there are no bounces. They do this with the intent that, hopefully, no emails will "slip through the cracks." However, some catch-all emails will bounce – the challenge is knowing which ones.

ZeroBounce's email scoring system uses artificial intelligence to assess how the email addresses on your list are likely to interact with you based on overall activity. It uses a score from 0 to 100 to indicate activity levels so you can better gauge potential validity. We recommend senders use only high-score contacts of 8 to 10.

Some catch-all email addresses are risky, while others are likely valuable for marketing or other purposes. ZeroBounce's email scoring software helps you discern between the two.

ZeroBounce specializes in email validation and deliverability. What sets ZeroBounce apart from its competitors in the field, and how do you maintain a 99% accuracy rate?

It's our 99% accuracy that helps ZeroBounce stand out in its space, and we maintain it by constantly advancing our email validation algorithms. Getting that kind of accuracy rate would only be possible with our team of experts continually fine-tuning and testing our software.

ZeroBounce uses a proprietary system that checks the validity, activity, and overall quality of email addresses in real-time. It performs multiple validations, such as syntax, domain, MX record, SMTP, catch-all, abuse, disposable, and spam trap checks.

The email scoring and Activity Data tools add more confidence for senders in helping them target their campaigns toward the right prospects.

But it's not enough to build the most accurate email validation service – you also have to do it in the most secure manner possible. As a data processor, ZeroBounce is hypersensitive to potential security threats. So, since day one, we set out to achieve the highest security standards.

ZeroBounce is GDPR and CCPA-compliant and seeks every reasonable certification to remain as secure as possible. We've achieved SOC 2 Type 2, ISO 27001, and HIPAA compliance. This quest is ongoing, too.

When we hear of new professional benchmarks or credentials, we work fastidiously to achieve them. It's probably why we've also become known as the most secure email verification service.

Could you share some key achievements or milestones that ZeroBounce has reached in email deliverability?

Occasionally, an email validation service will boast 100% accuracy. It would help to look suspiciously at anyone who makes a claim like that because it's actually unobtainable. It was a long road to get us from 98% accuracy to 99%, but our goal to achieve the most remarkable accuracy possible is neverending.

Other milestones would be every time we surpass another billion email validations. Cleaning email lists to eliminate spam is our bailiwick, and it's a source of satisfaction to know how much insufficient data we've helped our customers eliminate. We've validated over 22 billion email addresses – and that ticker never pauses. It'll be another billion emails before you know it.

Could you please outline your organization's future strategies in terms of growth and diversification?

No part of your business is worthy of scrutiny. We look critically at everything, and that's served us well. Our product, benefits, and company culture have earned us a lot of compliments from partners, but more importantly, from within. We will continue to excel in every possible way.

Our growth stems from fostering an environment where people want to be. You're going to find that creating a workplace where everyone is respected and no point of view is brushed off will result in many people who want to work for you. Our team is small, yet there are 11 languages among us. As you can imagine, this can come in handy.

If your company grows as quickly as ours, you'll naturally serve and bring on many individuals. Our goals moving forward are to serve even more businesses from different nationalities around the globe.

For a company to grow, you need competent people and motivation with a guiding vision and mission. This applies to everyone, from new hires to the leadership. If any part of this falters in any way, your growth will be stunted.

You've talked about your passion for chess. Can you draw parallels between the skills and strategies used in chess and their applicability to decision-making and problem-solving in the business realm?

Can I ever!

Chess is a game where you almost always have more than one option, but there's one that reigns supreme. You must develop a strategy, but you can be flexible because a skilled opponent may occasionally knock you for a loop. Problem-solving and strategy aren't "like chess" in my book – they are chess!

The feeling I get playing chess is the same when strategizing and executing in business. The biggest takeaway: Keep your cool and never get overwhelmed. It's how to get better with business pursuits and is critical in chess.

When I play chess, although it's an intense game, it's something I enjoy every moment of, and that's what I strive for in business as well.

MarTech Edge Interview with Jamshed Mughal, SVP, Global Head of Strategy & Services, Marigold

MarTech Edge Interview with Jamshed Mughal, SVP, Global Head of Strategy & Services, Marigold

marketing 7 Nov 2023

Welcome, Jamshed! How did your experience in some of the world’s leading companies shape your current role as the SVP, Global Head of Strategy & Services at Marigold?

I started my career on the agency side at Wunderman/Thompson and Havas, working in the services team and directly engaging with customers. As we all know, the agency world can be a bit frenetic. Fast velocity. Extremely intense. High energy. It was a great learning experience. Those early experiences provided me with a deep understanding of customer needs and challenges and the creativity needed to meet their urgency and innovate on their behalf. Transitioning from the agency world to the vendor side with time at Salesforce and Microsoft, I had the opportunity to work with renowned global brands in diverse industries. There are many similarities and differences between the agency world and the tech vendor world. This exposure broadened my perspective and taught me that, regardless of the industry, similar challenges exist. Clients need partners to help them succeed in a competitive marketplace.

What primary responsibilities does your position at Marigold entail? What changes have you implemented in six months of your role that have propelled the company’s growth?

When I came to Marigold a few years ago, the organization had acquired a number of outstanding technology companies and was in the beginning stages of bringing those capabilities together in a way that would create a competitive advantage for our clients and our company. As we sit here today, that transformation has occurred, and Marigold is now positioned as a market leader for Relationship Marketing. One of our superpowers is that not only do we now offer amazing technology, but we also wrap world-class services around the tech to help our clients improve their time to value, maximize their investments, and, most importantly, engage with their customers in more meaningful ways. This transformation has been incredibly satisfying to be part of.

In alignment with this transformation, as Senior Vice President, Global Head of Strategy & Services, my goal has been to help Marigold unite our various services teams across our global company with one unified leadership team. In the past six months, we have initiated significant changes to how we work with our customers to provide white-glove support by unifying our services team, including: 

  • Strategic Focus: We have shifted our approach from primarily emphasizing technology to leading with strategy. This change involves asking the right questions, focusing on problem-solving and delivering value and outcomes that matter to our customers.
  • Global Leadership: I lead the division across Marigold’s global business, which means overseeing our operations on a worldwide scale. We’ve expanded our presence to touch every continent, making us a truly global team capable of serving clients in numerous countries.
  • Team Integration: We have set out to align our approach, methodologies, and customer engagement strategies. By doing so, we aimed to elevate the quality of our services and set higher standards for customer satisfaction.

These changes have not only improved our internal operations but have also positioned us for significant growth and enhanced customer satisfaction. In essence, it has created a competitive advantage for Marigold. Many of our competitors can not, do not, or will not offer these services. At a time when clients need to do more with less within their own teams, the availability of these services is critical for their success. It’s exciting to see all of this come to fruition. I feel like an ‘agency’ kid again.

In what ways does Marigold’s Relationship Marketing technology enable businesses to deliver highly personalized experiences, helping acquire new customers and grow existing ones?

Today, clients need help figuring out what it takes to win the customers’ hearts, not just their transactions. They need to work harder to know more about their customers and to help them along their path to purchase in a contextually relevant way over time. This is the foundation of relationship marketing. And it is, in fact, what we do here at Marigold.

Since joining the company three years ago, I’ve witnessed how Marigold’s solutions empower marketers and, in turn, help our team acquire, nurture, and grow loyal customers all in one place. We’re one of the only firms who can tie together the full customer lifecycle across all of those customer life stages. Since Marigold’s technology is a comprehensive solution that allows businesses to engage with consumers at every stage of their journey, the unified approach simplifies the process and ensures a consistent and personalized experience. Coupled with our white glove services, it’s a winning combination. Additionally, all of our products are scalable, so we can serve a wide range of clients, large and small, across many verticals. Whether a customer starts with one component of our technology or the entire suite, they have the flexibility to expand and leverage additional features from our portfolio as their needs evolve. Finally, our data-driven approach in our relationship marketing technology enables marketers to not only acquire new customers but also to foster long-term loyalty. Data-informed personalization means that businesses can create meaningful connections with their customer base, turning them into loyal advocates.

What key KPIs do you prioritize in precise tracking and measuring the success of your strategic initiatives?

We use an OKR framework (Objectives & Key Results) to track various initiatives across teams and ensure alignment with the overall vision. Since our customer size is scalable, so are outcomes. We are always asking ourselves - ‘did we achieve the outcome that we set out to deliver?’ This starts by making sure we are aligned on the overall goal of a campaign so we can develop the strategy and tactics across our solutions that are going to be deliverable and achievable within a reasonable timeframe.

In terms of the marketing KPIs we focus on with our clients, it varies depending on the specific engagement. If we’re supporting a loyalty program, the metrics will relate to member growth, profitability and revenue contribution of the program, program engagement, repeat purchase, CLTV, member satisfaction, etc. The metrics for a CRM program will be similar, of course, but the specific measures will relate to the activities and behaviors supported by the program.

Can you recall any instance when you had to pivot a strategic plan due to unexpected circumstances? How did you still manage to successfully attain the initially set goals?

Over the past few years, consumer behavior has changed dramatically. In fact, during the pandemic, almost 90% of people changed what they buy, how they buy, and where they buy. Even if they wanted to be loyal, most consumers couldn’t remain loyal to their favorite brands due to supply chain issues or limited access during the pandemic. And while some pre-pandemic buying behaviors have returned, many have not. It’s clear that the buyer journey today is much different and more complex. It is also constantly evolving. And it happens over time. Add to that the increase in data volume and velocity, the rapidly evolving marketing technology landscape, and a challenging economy, and you have the perfect storm for most marketers. They have been dealing with unprecedented changes in consumer behaviors. As a technology and service provider, we’ve had to pivot to help our clients deal with the significance of these unexpected market conditions and continue to thrive despite the headwinds.

Additionally, being flexible in this kind of work is essential, particularly when taking on new teams and exploring new opportunities. For instance, when we had to adapt to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned from in-person workshops to online whiteboard engagement. Later, we pivoted again to a hybrid model. Throughout these transitions, our focus remained on aligning with customer objectives and ensuring momentum was not lost. What I took away from that period of time is that you have to stay vigilant and be brave enough to pivot. Effective and constant communication was vital to ensure that everyone moved in the same direction despite the change in plans. While the path to achieving our goals may have changed, our commitment to achieving the desired outcome remained unwavering.

Marigold was recently named the “Best Overall Email Marketing Company”? What exceptional characteristics of Marigold’s solution have contributed to achieving this recognition?

We are both humbled by and proud of this recognition. Our dedication to innovation has really set us apart in the marketplace and helped us earn this recognition. Additionally, I think leaning in on strategy and service has also helped and created a competitive advantage. We continuously strive to enhance our platform by bringing together various components to provide an exceptional customer experience. An example is our use of live content within the messaging platform, which has enriched the engagement and interaction with our customers. We have also distinguished ourselves by bringing together messaging and loyalty into one platform. This integration allows us to leverage loyalty use cases and incorporate them into messaging strategies, ultimately delivering outcomes that promote customer advocacy. I guess you could say that it’s a combination of our people, strategic focus, and technology innovation that is helping us stand out in a crowded field.

How is Marigold positioned to disrupt the martech space with more advanced marketing solutions over the next five years? What would be your role in shaping this pathway?

Marigold’s strategy for the next five years centers around enhancing marketing solutions by combining loyalty strategies with cutting-edge AI/ML technologies. We aim to double down on loyalty within CRM and leverage AI/ML to supercharge our offerings. From a services perspective, my role involves helping our customers understand how market changes can be translated into effective tactics and executed through our platform. We encourage experimentation and innovation, challenging conventional approaches and differentiating ourselves from competitors. Our commitment to continuous innovation in collaboration with our customers will be pivotal in achieving our goals. It’s an exciting time to be in the marketing business. And it’s the perfect time to be a leader in the discipline of relationship marketing.

MarTech Edge Interview with Michael Della Penna, Chief Strategy Officer, InMarket

MarTech Edge Interview with Michael Della Penna, Chief Strategy Officer, InMarket

marketing 26 Oct 2023

Welcome, Michael! With over 25 years of experience in diverse roles, could you highlight some key milestones and accomplishments that have shaped your career?

I would say my career has been defined by being open, interested, and passionate about exploring what’s next. This was sparked at my first job with Canon USA, where I was a marketing manager in the consumer products division and part of a team that brought the first personal copier, facsimile, and all-in-one computer called the Navigator to market in the U.S. We also launched a pretty impressive channel strategy, including the development of derivative products to sell into emerging channels like office superstores and warehouse clubs. It was really a thrilling time and job that helped define the kinds of companies I’ve worked at throughout my career. Since then, I’ve only sought opportunities and organizations that are disruptive and innovative in an emerging industry.

At ZDNet, we defined Web 1.0 as a top 10 site with more time spent than any other site aside from search engines. Leading marketing and strategy there, as well as taking them public, led me to explore new ways to monetize eyeballs, resulting in the launch of the industry’s first content-driven, vertical market email newsletters. That success led me to be part of the leadership team of a JP Morgan/Flatiron VC-backed, viral email company that we transformed into one of the first email service providers and later sold to Epsilon.

At Epsilon as CMO, we transformed the organization from a stogie, old database company into a leading marketing services organization through a series of acquisitions enhancing our email, data, and agency capabilities. My involvement with M&A got me excited about social — so much so that I launched my own social CRM company called Conversa Marketing, which was later sold to StrongMail, which became StrongView and then Selligent. There, I led the integration of my social solution into an email platform, which exposed me to the power of orchestrating messaging across channels and inspired my next move of leading Emerging Channels at Responsys, where I spearheaded the integration of SMS, mobile & display advertising, and social into the email platform. My exposure to the power of mobile there and subsequently Responsys by Oracle, where I led the acquisition of a mobile start-up called PushIO, got me passionate about the power of mobile. Several investments later in mobile and location companies led me to InMarket.

How has InMarket been successful in being a leading provider of real-time, omnichannel marketing solutions?

What really attracted me to InMarket was the power of its innovative and disruptive advertising solutions and the Moments product specifically. This unique solution’s ability to connect with consumers in real-time and at their precise moment of need was eye-opening, particularly when I saw the engagement rates in the double digits and averaging 6x the industry benchmark. It is the highest-performing advertising you can do, with engagement rates higher than display and mobile advertising and even email and search.

This notion of sensing and responding to consumers based on real-time signals and at their precise moment of need across the customer purchase journey is what’s next. The sophistication and number of signals will continue to grow, and the emergence of AI will only help enhance the accuracy and relevance of these interactions over time, which is exciting.

Done well, marketing and the relationship between consumers and brands will reach new heights, where relevant experiences will be expected, and campaigns will be optimized and fine-tuned to fulfill true one-to-one marketing. This notion of real-time sense and response is a new era of marketing that is a win for both the consumer and the marketer, and I’m incredibly excited to be part of it by leading the way at InMarket.

What key strategic initiatives have you employed as InMarket’s Chief Strategy Officer, and how have they propelled the company’s growth?

The Chief Strategy Officer plays a crucial role in a company’s growth. We must be able to provide expert guidance to make decisions that will promote long-term growth and sustainability.

Like all emerging innovative and disruptive companies I’ve worked with in the past, it’s about telling the story and sharing best practices. At InMarket, we’ve spent a lot of time sharing and acknowledging our clients’ successes and highlighting best practices. Whether it’s our Lift Leaders awards program and video series recognizing the companies and their leaders driving ROAS success or our Breakthrough Moments campaigns showcasing the ins and outs of creating great, engaging experiences for consumers, sharing these stories within the market and among our clients has been instrumental in fueling our rapid growth.

In many respects, I, along with my incredible team, have been able to create a platform to raise up and recognize those marketers who are like me, interested in challenging the norms, blazing the trail of innovation, and disrupting the way marketing is and should be done — it’s kind of a full-circle moment.

Could you provide an instance from your professional experience where you confronted a complex challenge? Please detail how you skillfully managed and resolved the situation.

The pandemic sent consumer behavior into an unpredictable frenzy that most brands and InMarket clients weren’t prepared to deal with. I’m so proud of how our team responded to this incredible challenge. We quickly realized we had the opportunity to help guide our clients in real time. Our unique data, including intent, location, and transactional data, gave us unique insight into the changing behavior of consumers down to the local and product levels. We lit up a COVID-19 site reporting a shift in visitation and shopping behavior frequency, dwell time, volume, and size of individual products purchased. We launched new solutions to help brands reach consumers at home and enhanced the capabilities and functionality of our solutions, including the ability to do more in every ad unit, such as add to cart, buy online and pick up in-store, measure web-to-store, and more. It was transformational and also very exciting to become a go-to source for marketing intelligence for so many large and respected brands.

How do you ensure that InMarket continues to stay ahead in the competition and maintain its position as an industry leader?

I think it’s about listening to our employees, customers, and consumers and staying true to our commitment to discovering what matters for those key constituencies. If we do that, we will continue to innovate, disrupt, and grow our company as well as the future of marketing.

InMarket has garnered numerous accolades and awards for its 360-degree marketing intelligence solutions. Could you elaborate on how these awards have reinforced the company’s commitment to pioneering and advancing groundbreaking products?

The industry recognition has been amazing. It serves as validation that the work we do on behalf of our clients not only generates amazing outcomes but also gets recognition from independent third parties as the best of the best. Having said that, our company’s mantra to “discover what matters,” along with our values to hire good peeps, kaizen (seek constant improvement), get Shtuff done, be data-driven and agile, drive us forward, and fuel our ability to pioneer new programs and innovate new solutions on behalf of our clients.

Additionally, InMarket, founded by two brothers, has not taken any VC money and is profitable. That is a unique thing to say in today’s VC-fueled AdTech/MarTech ecosystem. It’s been freeing in so many respects, particularly in the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the company. The ability to bring an idea to the table, get it funded, and to the MVP stage, paired with an environment that is supportive of failing fast, allows us to think creatively about our clients’ problems and take actions, or, stated another way, take many more shots on goal to find new and innovative solutions that solve marketers problems.

You’ve been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business-to-Business Marketing” multiple times. What do you believe sets you apart as a digital marketing leader and industry influencer?

As a child, I struggled in school, and it took a while to figure out that I was, in fact, dyslexic. School was hard; I had to work twice as hard for that B as the next kid, but it drove me and my work ethic. I’m also convinced it rewired some connectors in my brain and gave me the gift of thinking differently, which is why I’ve so often found myself in strategic positions, involved in M&A or running emerging channels that had to be “figured out” at major companies like ZDNet/CNET and Responsys/Oracle. This, combined with my general passion for marketing, openness, and excitement to learn and try new things, as well as the ability to listen and translate challenges to opportunities, has fueled a lot of my success.

My advice to anyone starting their career right now is to be fearless and don’t worry so much. Pick an industry that is emerging or growing rapidly. Find a company with products you believe in. Interview the employees as much as they interview you — are they smart? Can you learn from the folks you will be working with and finally get in the field? I’m a huge believer that marketers should spend a good portion of their time on sales calls and in front of other marketers, hearing first-hand about their challenges and what keeps them up at night. These conversations energize me and get me thinking about potential solutions and ideas on how the company can help — be it a data cut to validate a hypothesis or putting forth a new idea that drives innovation in a current solution or a brand new solution. If you do these things, I’m pretty confident you, too, will have a long and very successful marketing career.

MarTech Edge Interview with Tom Burke, Chief Executive Officer, AtData

MarTech Edge Interview with Tom Burke, Chief Executive Officer, AtData

email marketing 29 Jun 2023

You’ve been leading AtData for 20+ years now; how would you narrate your journey and experiences?

In 2001, I founded TowerData, now AtData, two months after 9/11 and right as the dot com bubble was bursting—a rather chaotic and difficult time to be launching a tech company. The first few years were very lean and hard, always worrying if we would make payroll, and it was at least five years before I thought the company would actually survive.

Perhaps surprisingly, we managed to hit our stride after the 2008 financial crisis hit. Email is significantly cheaper and more effective than direct mail, and this was a boon for our business. At the same time, I felt like we were in a rut, and I had my own crisis, unsure I had the desire to keep going. I had actually negotiated the sale of the company but, at the last moment, changed my mind, instead taking a 6-month sabbatical in Europe to recharge and reset.

I haven’t looked back since. By prioritizing innovation and excellence; by expanding the suite of services we offer organically and by acquisition; and by working with people of high integrity who are knowledgeable and passionate about what they do; I continue to be stimulated, be challenged, and learn. The most recent adventure was TowerData’s 2021 merger with its longstanding partner, FreshAddress. We doubled in size and rebranded as AtData to emphasize that we are the leaders in email address intelligence solutions.

It amazes me how we’ve evolved from helping a local NYC gift shop to being the trusted partner of Fortune 500 companies such as Verizon and McDonald’s. Several times along the way, “the death of email” has been proclaimed, but email marketing remains a highly effective channel, fueling our growth.

How does AtData empower companies to make the most of their first-party email data and decode customer identities?

First off, why are we talking about first-party data? Customers are the lifeblood of a company, and unlike inflation or the walled gardens of Ad Tech, your customer data is something you can control and leverage to maximize the return of your marketing efforts. However, if you don’t know who your customers are, what they want, and how and when to best reach them, you won’t be able to execute your campaigns effectively. AtData’s Email Address Intelligence ensures you have accurate, complete, and safe first-party data.

We start at the very beginning, letting organizations know if an email address is valid and safe to send to. It’s not uncommon for us to block 15% of the emails entered on a website because they are typographical errors, fraudsters, bots, fake addresses, spam traps, etc. We can then go a step further than other solutions to tell you if an address is active and has been used to complete purchases. Knowing an email address is actionable is key and often overlooked in our increasingly digital-first economy.

Similarly, we are also able to update the email address associated with an individual to their most current and preferred or link an email to a postal address or vice versa. This allows companies to reach their customers who otherwise might have lapsed—simply because they forgot to update their email addresses in the company’s database. When the average consumer can have hundreds of profiles and subscriptions, it’s not a rare occurrence that data becomes outdated. AtData also enriches first-party email data with demographic information to improve personalized messaging.

We provide a wealth of information to evolve a company’s first-party email addresses into more robust, accurate, and up-to-date profiles so they can really get to know the person and have meaningful conversations. Our Email Address Intelligence solutions are really all about developing relationships with your customers by being able to reach them, utilizing messaging that resonates with them, and protecting their interests.

In your opinion, what works better during economic crises—sticking to the core business approach or trying something out of the box?

In general, I am a proponent of going with the core business as long as that core business was working prior to the crisis. Refocusing efforts on fundamentals can have a big impact on a business. Many companies are either resource-constrained or moving quickly, and it’s not uncommon for them to get too far ahead of themselves and forget about the quality of their messaging and datasets. For example, when was the last time the customer welcome series was reviewed? I think we have all seen statistics on earning a new customer versus keeping an existing one—so retention efforts can make or break a company through economic downturns.

With the help of partners like AtData, customer email addresses can be turned into a wealth of information so marketers can be sure they’re reaching their audience at their preferred addresses with better messaging for the offers that make the most sense. Along with that, we help prevent fraud, utilizing the largest global email address network. Unfortunately, economic uncertainty tends to correlate with malicious individuals trying to take advantage. Focusing on protecting the core business by preventing fraud and protecting customers can also go a long way in building loyalty.

In what advanced ways do AtData’s fraud prevention solutions ensure to keep companies a step ahead of cyberattacks?

False identities are one of the primary attack vectors of fraudsters, and AtData protects businesses by recognizing emails used in fraud. In fact, newly created email addresses are 300% more likely to be fraudulent, and emails are much more predictive of fraud than phones or postal addresses.

No one sees as many email activity events as AtData, literally billions of signals every month, which enables us to recognize when an address or domain first comes into use or presents anomalous behavior. An individual company is likely to only see activity across its systems and network, limiting the scope of information needed to identify malicious intent. Built from these signals, our historical email database, fraud feedback consortium, and machine-learning models detect fraud in real time. In this way, our Email Address Intelligence helps reduce the unknown, so companies can protect themselves and their customers without adding friction to the process.

Transactions, account creations, profiles—the list goes on—are all becoming digital. If email is central to your customer identities, email-based fraud prevention will help you minimize risk and reduce costs.

What fundamental strategies do you implement at AtData to ensure a working equilibrium among all BUs?

We start with business objectives, one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page. Our trajectory is determined by these primary goals, which each department then builds from to develop its team and individual goals. They really do keep us all moving in the same direction and, perhaps more importantly, keep us honest and on task. We also have our core values—data-driven, innovative, collaborative, agile, experts—that underly everything we do, from who we bring on board to how we operate. These form the framework for how we do business and make it easier for our various teams to work together.

Beyond that, our goal is to work transparently with all our employees. We strive to empower everyone to have an owner’s mentality, so they are accountable and always willing to help. Keeping everyone informed with regular staff meetings and ongoing communications helps drive collaboration, alleviating siloes and making sure everyone is aware of what we’re building together.

Should we be expecting any new product launch from AtData soon in the future?

Not necessarily a new product per se, but we are investing heavily in developing machine-learning models based on our unique datasets for a variety of use cases. We recently unveiled a new model that reduces the unknown rate of our email verification service, maximizing the number we can provide a status on. This equates to potentially 20% more actionable email addresses within a database.

Looking forward, we are developing an email quality score. Where our SafeToSend® service tells you if an address is safe to mail, the quality score will tell you if an address is active, responsive, and belongs to a buyer. This will be game-changing for email marketers as they look to have better insight into who is and isn’t engaging beyond their limited scope. It will help to better differentiate if an email address is not engaged or just not engaged with your campaigns. It really is something marketers have wanted for quite some time, and the technology has finally caught up such that we can’t wait to provide it for them.

What differentiating brand characteristics enable AtData to become one of the best in business?

AtData was brought about by the merger of two very strong email intelligence brands—TowerData and FreshAddress. The resulting organization has a depth of experience, robust dataset, and technology that is unmatched in the industry. Our proprietary network alone provides us with a scope of email activity not found anywhere else, ultimately making our Email Address Intelligence solutions the leader in accuracy and comprehensiveness.

We are constantly innovating, with recent advancements utilizing machine learning to further improve the insights we can provide on an email address. I would say we are one of the few companies that are treating email verification and hygiene as the evolving technology that it is, going well beyond a simple SMTP ping to truly understand activity and the individual behind an email address. There are many reasons why we can offer our 100% SafeToSend® guarantee—we are that confident in our results.

How influential a role, do you think, will AI play in both escalating and preventing digital fraud?

As an industry, we’re still just scratching the surface of AI. It will definitely play a role in the very near future, unfortunately, in both escalation and prevention. But I believe there are far more individuals working diligently on prevention, that the AI models used to identify malicious activity will advance at a much more rapid pace. Sadly, digital fraud is still too lucrative, but I trust that, as we work with AI and machine learning, we’ll be able to develop systems that make it harder and harder.

MarTech Edge Interview with Sarah Kicinski, Chief Marketing Officer, PostcardMania

MarTech Edge Interview with Sarah Kicinski, Chief Marketing Officer, PostcardMania

marketing 13 Jun 2023

You have been leading PostcardMania as its CMO for 14 years. Brief us on your journey.

I started working at PostcardMania in 2004, straight out of college. I was originally hired to run a project to partner with franchises and then was promoted to launch all new products as the Vice President of Business Development. Five years later, our VP of Marketing gave notice, and Founder & CEO Joy Gendusa asked me to fill his shoes (which I have to admit was a bit terrifying). At that point, we had a $4 million marketing budget, and I didn’t want to mess it up! It worked out, and I was able to outperform existing metrics and was eventually promoted from Vice President of Marketing to Chief Marketing Officer. It’s now been 19 years, and I feel very lucky to have been part of this company’s journey as we surpass $100 million in annual revenue. We continue to evolve our products around an unwavering commitment to helping small business owners grow their businesses and contribute to an expanding US economy. Currently, my team is made up of 10 marketing professionals who are all experts in their fields and generate more than 2000 B2B leads each week.

Please walk us through Everywhere Small Business, PostcardMania’s flagship marketing product, and the recently added features.

Everywhere Small Business is our multichannel marketing campaign package that gives small business owners the opportunity to target prospects with postcards and coordinated digital ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, and YouTube. As the postcards are mailed out, digital ads are displayed to prospects on these platforms, and not only do they amplify the client’s reach and exposure and make it seem like their business is everywhere, but they also give prospects an easy way to get to clients’ websites to convert.

The recent features we added to Everywhere Small Business expand the reach of those coordinated digital ads by targeting prospects based on their online behavior and the physical locations they visit. So, for example, a vet could target people nearby doing research online on why their cat might be throwing up at night or people visiting a local dog park.

The best part about the new Browsed-Content Targeting and Visited-Locations Targeting is that small business owners have access to premier technology previously only available to large brands. And at prices that a small business can afford. By leveling the playing field with bigger brand names, small businesses can achieve success and grow bigger and better than before—and that’s PostcardMania’s driving mission.

What major alterations have you made in marketing strategies to sail through economic downturns like the current one?

PostcardMania was founded in 1998, so we’ve been through our fair share of tough economic times. We had our first major economic challenge in 2008, which ultimately gave us the experience we needed to be better prepared for any economic downturn.

In 2008, 46% of our revenue came from clients in the mortgage and real estate industries, and we lost thousands of clients almost instantly when the housing bubble burst. Against our gut instincts, we cut our marketing spend significantly based on advisors’ recommendations. By 2009, we were struggling to make payroll and were down 15%. It turned out that reducing our marketing budget had made everything worse. So we decided to restore the marketing budget back to pre-crash totals, and our numbers recovered quickly—2010 ended up being an all-time high revenue year for us at the time.

We learned the valuable lesson to never stop marketing regardless of economic conditions, and we applied this principle when the pandemic hit in 2020. We never cut our marketing or even laid off a single staff member despite our revenue crashing over 40% for several weeks in March and April 2020. But we recovered more quickly than most. July 2020 became the new highest-ever revenue month for us. In the final six months of 2020, we increased our leads by 9.24% without increasing our marketing spend. Our competitors all cut back, which ended up making our marketing efforts more effective than ever. Every year we get a little bit smarter and more efficient with our marketing efforts, but consistency is something we have kept in since day one. It’s honestly our biggest piece of advice to clients, and it doesn’t change even during an economic crisis.

What is PCM Integrations, and how does this technology work for marketers?

PCM Integrations is one of our newer divisions that has been expanding by leaps and bounds. It is a direct mail API which is basically a software connection between us and any other software to automate mail going out. It gives businesses the opportunity to automate mailings based on triggers like when a shopping cart is abandoned or if a new lead is entered into a customer relationship management system. Business owners can automatically target their hottest leads with mailers at a key time in the buying process, and it is a one-time set-it and forget-it process. It gives brands the opportunity to automatically increase credibility by 49% over just sending emails to prospects.

We have clients switching over to us from other direct mail APIs every day because of our vast knowledge of direct mail design for response, as well as our print quality. Other direct mail APIs outsource the production to many different printers, which means the quality control of the finished product is nonexistent. We also don’t charge tech fees which can save companies tens of thousands of dollars a year. It was a natural fit for us to build out a development team to offer this based on our existing capabilities and experience. I don’t know any other company with as much direct mail marketing experience as us. We have over 110,000 clients at this point.

Despite market conditions being on the downside, how did PostcardMania reach new revenue records?

I think it goes back to building so much momentum during the pandemic by never pausing our marketing. Since then, we’ve reached new revenue records in 2020, 2021, and 2022, growing total revenue an average of 20% per year after a decade averaging 5% revenue growth. And the momentum is still rolling—we just set a new quarterly record in revenue in our first quarter of 2023 at over $25 million and $1.8 million more than the same quarter last year. We also achieved the most revenue in a single month in March of 2023, right at the end of the quarter.

That success has come from our commitment to pushing forward with our marketing strategies, increasing our marketing spend despite economic challenges, and adding new direct mail marketing solutions in the past couple of years. We mail 190,000 postcards a week and spend more than $5 million a year on marketing. Since we switched from a print focus to a technology focus, growth has reached a new level. Everywhere Small Business, our retargeted direct mail solutions and PCM Integrations are sure to push us to new heights for the rest of the year and beyond.

Name 3 things you do to ensure marketing, sales, and customer success are on the same page.

Good leadership has a massive influence on the fluidity between departments. The C-level executives here are actually friends, and we’re all working towards the same goal. There is no finger-pointing; we’re working together to make improvements or fix issues. We’ve worked hard at developing this over the years, but this is still one of our top priorities. We all do a trip every year and several other team-building dinners and meetings throughout the year. Last year, we promoted a longtime PostcardMania staff member, Jackie Wirsing, as Chief Experience Officer. It’s her job to boost clients’ results by enhancing the quality of our operations throughout the business. She has helped us improve the internal performance of our staff and the customer experience for our clients. As a guiding hand, she figures out how to help each department and division work more effectively and efficiently toward the goal of improving client success. She’s been doing a phenomenal job, and we’ve witnessed a tremendous difference overall.

What advice would you like to give to budding marketing professionals?

Don’t underestimate the amount of promotion you need to do to get people’s attention. Between direct mail, online ads, social media ads, and email, we are sometimes hitting prospects 20-100 times before converting them to a sale, and we are reaching up to 250,000 businesses every week. Don’t get frustrated or discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Stay the course and market more than you think you need to. People can be super indecisive these days, and they are being hit with so many marketing messages that you need to be persistent and consistent.

How do you foresee direct mail technologies evolving in the upcoming years?

Like many other marketing tools, direct mail has evolved and become automated. This means the technology is intelligent enough to mail postcards, letters, or brochures to people based on their actions in real-time. Currently, we have a service called Website to Mailbox that can mail a postcard to an anonymous website visitor within 24 hours. The technology can capture a visitor’s location, match it to an address, and even select certain mailers based on their browsing behavior, like which pages they read, for how long, and more.

Our PCM Integrations division has also created new avenues that let businesses send fully responsive mailers any time of day without lifting a finger. A business can connect its CRM to our direct mail platform to enable triggered mail based on actions taken at any point during a customer’s lifecycle with the business. A salesperson calls and makes contact with a prospect—or doesn’t and leaves a voicemail—both prospects get a follow-up postcard. Someone purchases from you for the first time or hasn’t purchased for a year, they get a postcard. The options for nurturing leads and fostering relationships are endless.

In the future, I foresee even more specialized technology that can detect specific customer behaviors and react to them quickly. The targeting will get even more detailed and personalized so prospects can find the products and services they need lightning fast. I also see marketers returning to more traditional channels like direct mail as digital advertising becomes more and more saturated and digital response rates continue to dwindle.

MarTech Edge Interview with Chris Cupero, President & Chief Operating Officer, LiveRetail

MarTech Edge Interview with Chris Cupero, President & Chief Operating Officer, LiveRetail

marketing 4 May 2023

You have vast experience as Bank of America SVP & LiveTechnology’s Chief Client Officer. How has your transition to the current post of COO at LiveRetail been?

During my 28-year tenure at Bank of America, I primarily worked in Corporate Marketing and Marketing Technology. I found great satisfaction in creating innovative MarTech solutions that addressed complex issues within the marketing organization. Many of these solutions focused on improving processes and workflow, ensuring compliance, and supporting localized marketing efforts across approximately 4,000 banking center locations. As part of the development process, I was involved in every step, from ideation to implementation.

Transitioning from the “client-side” to a “service provider” at LiveTechnology was an exciting but natural progression, as Bank of America’s customer-centric approach has always been ingrained in me. What I enjoyed most about the transition was the opportunity to serve multiple clients rather than just one corporate marketing department. I take great pleasure in providing support to our clients and feel a sense of pride when actively engaging with each and every one of them.

My experience managing Marketing Technology at Bank of America played a significant role in shaping LiveRetail’s direction. Supporting localized marketing for large brands with multiple locations was one of our core features, similar to Bank of America. However, LiveRetail also extends its support to franchise brands, retail brands, manufacturers with multiple retail locations, as well as small businesses, thus broadening our reach.

In this fast-paced era where the approach to administrative and operational functions keeps changing, which technologies do you rely on?

Businesses can benefit from leveraging technology to streamline administrative and operational functions, improve efficiency, and maintain a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment. At LiveRetail, we’re in a unique position because our parent company, LiveTechnology, is a SaaS development company, which means we’ve created most of our tools in-house.

Our proprietary project management system supports our agile development process, team collaboration, client onboarding, and routine tasks and deliverables. One of the most powerful features of our tool is that it allows me to track our deliverables and monitor our progress in real-time, at the project level, team level, and even down to the individual responsible for each task. I can view our deliverables for any time period—deliverables for today, this week, the month, the upcoming week, etc. This gives my management team the ability to make sure we have the resources needed to hit all of our deadlines.

Although we have developed most of our tools in-house, we do rely heavily on Zoom, which has been a game-changer for our fully virtual company since 2022. Zoom allows our internal teams to collaborate seamlessly, even allowing us to whiteboard just as if we were in a conference room. We have also found Zoom to be an efficient way to communicate with clients, with video calls replacing traditional conference calls, giving us more face time with our clients around the globe than ever before.

What, according to you, is more critical: cost-reduction in budgets or time savings in tasks?

It depends on the specific situation and priorities of the organization or individual involved. Both cost-reduction in budgets and time savings in tasks can be important factors to consider, but which one takes priority may depend on several different factors.

In some cases, cost reduction in budgets may be more critical. For example, if an organization is facing financial difficulties or working with limited resources, reducing costs may be necessary to keep the organization afloat or to ensure that critical programs or services can continue to operate. In this case, reducing expenses may take priority over time savings in tasks.

On the other hand, if an organization is under pressure to increase productivity or to meet tight deadlines, time savings in tasks may be more critical. For example, if a team is working on a project with a tight deadline, finding ways to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently may be necessary to ensure that the project is completed on time. In this case, time savings may take priority over cost reduction.

Both cost reduction and time savings can be important factors to consider, and the best approach may involve finding a balance between the two.

Tell us how the LiveRetail platform helps drive engagement & sales with lower CPMs for brands.

Based on our experience at LiveRetail, we have identified three critical factors—targeting, response, and spend—that help drive lower CPM rates.

First, it’s essential to ensure that all social media ads are hyper-targeted, including both location and audience targeting. Ads using broad targeting criteria tend to compete with many other ads, increasing CPM costs. Hyper-targeted ads, on the other hand, don’t compete against national ads, resulting in lower CPM and CPC costs.

Secondly, localized content is crucial in driving engagement, given the “buy local, support local” consumer movement that’s gaining momentum globally. In-market consumers respond 2-5 times more to ads showing their dealer, city, town, or neighborhood. However, creating localized content can be a challenge for businesses, as agencies charge exorbitant fees for custom ads. For instance, creating customized ads globally for all of Dunkin Donuts’ 11,300 locations would require a team of one hundred designers and cost a fortune.

Lastly, it’s been our experience that one hundred ads at $50 each perform significantly better than spending $5,000 on one ad.

What, according to you, is the essential aspect of managing a corporate budget?

The essential aspect of managing a corporate budget is to have a clear understanding of the financial resources available and to plan and allocate those resources effectively. This involves identifying the company’s financial goals and objectives, forecasting revenue and expenses, and creating a budget that outlines the expected income and expenses for a specific period.

To effectively manage a corporate budget, it’s important to regularly monitor and track the actual performance of the company against the budget, making adjustments as necessary to ensure that the company stays on track to achieve its financial objectives.

Additionally, effective communication and collaboration between departments and stakeholders is critical in managing a corporate budget. This ensures that everyone understands the financial goals and constraints and can work together to make decisions that align with the overall financial strategy of the company.

How do you effectively organize all the teams to be coherent and ensure the operations between them run smoothly?

Assembling highly effective cross-functional teams is no easy feat. It requires clear communication, a clear definition of roles and responsibilities, proper delegation of tasks, and effective collaboration. Here are a few things that I have found to be useful in fostering coherent operations:

Define goals and responsibilities: Clearly define the goals and responsibilities of each team and how they fit into the overall project or organization. Make sure each team understands their role and what is expected of them.

Communicate clearly: Ensure that communication is clear, concise, and consistent. Make sure that each team understands the objectives, timelines, and expectations. Encourage open communication and foster an environment where team members can voice their concerns and ideas.

Establish internal processes: Set up clear workflows and processes for each team to follow. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them.

Delegate tasks effectively: Delegate tasks based on team member strengths and expertise. This helps to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively.

Foster collaboration: Encourage collaboration between teams. This helps to build relationships and trust between team members and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and provide feedback to each team. This helps to ensure that teams stay on track and can adjust their processes if needed.

Remember that effective communication and collaboration are key to success!

Can you explain an instance when implementing new or upcoming technology helped the company?

The implementation of additional AI tools, such as ChatGPT, into LiveRetail’s internal processes and client-facing tools represents a significant shift towards increased efficiency and productivity. AI tools have the ability to perform repetitive tasks quickly and accurately, reducing the time and effort required by employees. This not only saves time but also drives consistency and reduces errors while freeing up employees to focus on more complex tasks.

In addition to improving internal workflows, AI tools can also have a significant impact on client-facing tools. Automating certain parts of our content curation process, such as copy recommendations, will reduce the need of the clients or their agencies significantly. This can lead to increased scalability, speed to market, and reduced production costs, ultimately driving higher revenue growth/margins.

Overall, the implementation of additional AI tools represents a major step forward for LiveRetail. By leveraging these technologies, the company can work more efficiently, scale more quickly, and provide a better experience for both its employees and customers. 

What tips would you give the other COOs or VPs struggling in the current economic downturn?

In today’s economic climate, businesses, both big and small, are facing unprecedented challenges. As a startup, LiveRetail is no exception to these difficulties. To navigate this environment, we recommend several key strategies.

First, it’s important to re-evaluate and prioritize frequently. Focus on the essential aspects of your business and consider cutting back on non-essential expenses. Building a rainy-day fund can also provide a safety net in uncertain times.

Secondly, be adaptable and open to change. It may be necessary to pivot to new markets or implement new strategies to respond to changing circumstances.

Thirdly, communication is crucial. Keep your team informed of any changes that may impact them, and provide clear and transparent communication to avoid confusion and uncertainty.

Fourthly, maintaining a positive company culture is essential. Recognizing and rewarding achievements, providing opportunities for personal and professional development, and showing appreciation for your team’s efforts can help keep morale high.

Lastly, seeking expert advice from consultants and influencers can be valuable in identifying new market opportunities and accelerating growth. Remember, while the current economic climate presents challenges, it also presents opportunities for innovation and growth. Through adapting, innovating, and investing in our team, we aim not only to withstand the challenges of these difficult times but also to enhance our ability to make a positive impact on the communities, clients, and customers we serve.

Looking at the current market scenario, what do you think lies in the future of the marketplace & what is LiveRetail planning?

In order to remain competitive, it’s essential for marketing strategies to include a localized marketing component. However, this can be challenging due to the high production costs associated with traditional agency models. It’s important to remember that localized content leads to more relevant content, which in turn drives higher response and engagement rates and ultimately results in increased sales.

LiveRetail is well-positioned to support companies and brands with their localized marketing strategy by providing innovative solutions that utilize AI and other technologies to simplify localized marketing and advertising processes with localized ad production, enhanced targeting, and personalization. LiveRetail is committed to investing in these areas and expanding its offerings to meet the evolving demands of the market.


Page 1 of 1