On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role at Insert and how you got here. (what inspired you to start an in-app marketing company)
Eleven years ago, I founded Worklight, a platform that helped large corporations build robust mobile apps and integrate them with various backend systems. Worklight was later acquired by IBM and was rebranded as MobileFirst.
When we worked on Worklight, mobile apps were still in diapers, and as they grew in number and influence I began thinking about what kind of challenges have not yet been addressed in this ecosystem.
The architecture we created at Worklight, like other competing products, is very much engineering-oriented. It generates beautiful apps, but at the same time is linear – business defines, development builds, business evaluates and re-defines, and so forth. Marketers and product managers are becoming increasingly frustrated with this linear infrastructure, often citing months of lag time in implementing initiatives that drive engagement, conversion and retention.
That’s the problem we wanted to solve with Insert, which gives direct control to app owners and mobile marketers by allowing them to create beautiful, sophisticated, and highly targeted in-app campaigns without coding.
I’m incredibly privileged to be the founder and CEO of a company that I truly believe is disrupting the industry.
MTS: Given how massive mobile marketing proliferation is, how do you see this market evolving over the next few years?
First, I see a transition of focus and efforts from user acquisition to building long-term user loyalty, as measured by retention and engagement. User acquisition has gotten to be extremely difficult and costly, but ultimately, keeping users is more effective than simply acquiring them. Engagement and loyalty has ROI for a much longer term, and inevitably focus is shifting towards that.
I believe that there is also a blurring of lines in the world of marketing in general, which is happening on multiple levels; first, there’s a blurring between ads and non-ads, what is often referred to as “native advertising.” Consumers are savvier than ever, and to remain current advertising is changing to deliver better content and value.
There’s also a blurring between traditional organization roles, as marketers’ influence grows beyond their former silos. To be able to respond to the fast-paced nature of technology, organizations are creating more multidisciplinary teams, and this shift brings mobile marketing into the spotlight.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Personalization. Users now expect to have a personalized experience of sites and apps, and want to feel known and heard by their devices. We increasingly have the technological ability to personalize user experiences across channels.
But, to do so requires thinking of every customer as an individual, which means moving away from blast push notifications, and displaying the same message at the same time to every user.
Personalization is all about anticipating what the user may want and adapting the experience accordingly. For example, it means displaying the right message at the right time via the appropriate medium (video, text, etc.); different users are attracted to different types of messages, and for each user the right time depend on how she is using the app.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge for mobile marketers to integrate an in-app marketing platform like Insert?
The main challenge Insert faces lies in it being a disruptive product. The market today has an abundance of products that are meant to support marketing initiatives around the app.
The reality is they maintain the dependence on development, which often de-prioritizes marketing requests as part of development backlogs. It takes an innovative approach on the client side to adopt a truly automated in-app marketing solution like Insert, figure out how it fits into their existing organizational structure and realize that with the control comes responsibility to manage the app engagement in a way that is much more enhanced than they’ve done before.
To enable this, we’ve built a set of features for marketers that replicate the tools used by developers and DevOps personnel to create, test and roll out new features to mobile apps. We allow them to control governance and processes, and everything is on a very intuitive and easy-to-use platform.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
I’m following various companies that apply AI to new field. One interesting example is Gong.io, which applies AI to B2B sales processes.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Since the early days of Insert, we’ve imagined our product as a Candy Store for mobile app owners. It’s a place where they can get what they most want (in-app campaigns), and there’s a great variety of it. In the lead up to MWC this year (in February), we wanted to drive people to set up advance meetings with us during the show.
We ran a campaign on several outlets targeted to mobile marketers, which said “Come meet us at the Candy Store,” and featured a striking image of bulk candy bins. Something about this messaging worked, and we were fully booked BEFORE going to Barcelona. I guess it was creative, and appetizing.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
AI is fueled by data. The most important thing marketing leaders can do to prepare for AI is to make sure the right data is available to fuel an AI approach and then to understand how that data maps to specific customer interactions with their brands.
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My life very much revolves around Whatsapp.
Most of my business communication is done on Slack.
As an avid runner, I also love Runtastic.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I set aside short slots of time, 3 or 4 every day, to work through backlog (be it email, paperwork, etc.)
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I only read paper books, and I read mostly fiction. I usually alternate new titles with classics.
I just finished Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, and started reading the Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Trust your founder instincts, even if they go against conventional wisdom.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Being able to digest large amount of data, and make decisions quickly based on that data
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO at Marketo
Shahar Kaminitz is a serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Insert: the automated in-app marketing pioneer. Shahar helped shape the foundations of the mobile app industry, in his prior role as the founder and CEO of Worklight – the leading enterprise mobile application platform for smartphones and tablets. IBM acquired Worklight in 2012, and rebranded its product IBM MobileFirst. Before Worklight Shahar held executive roles at Amdocs (NYSE:DOX), started several software companies and was a Partner with an Israeli venture capital fund. Shaharholds a M.Sc in Mathematics and Computer Science and a B.A. in Economics, both from the Tel Aviv University.
Insert is the world’s first in-app marketing platform that enables businesses to respond quickly to the ever-changing lives of customers. Our unique technology is the only one that allows mobile app owners to independently create and publish in-app campaigns within minutes, without relying on development resources. We offer the widest range of campaign options in the market, and allow full control of campaign design, audiences and triggering. Our catalog includes: in-app messages, push notifications, surveys, videos, coupons and more.
Our clients include leading financial institutes and retailers as well as Mobile First leaders in various verticals.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.