MarTech Interview with Inbal Lavi, CEO at Webpals Group

MarTech Interview with Inbal Lavi, CEO at Webpals Group
MarTech Interview with Inbal Lavi, CEO at Webpals Group

“Marketing technology can enable financial app developers to enrich users’ experience, providing quick and simple management solutions for customer’s financial needs.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to be part of the Webpals Group? 

My journey started during my Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University, where I wrote my thesis about Machine learning and Data Mining. There weren’t many companies that offered jobs relevant to my academic background, but I always knew the right job opportunity would present itself.

Before joining Webpals Group, I held several executive positions at 888 Holdings, leading 888’s business unit to ultimately become the second largest poker brand in the world. My first commercial position in the online world was in Data Mining at 888. With time, I moved into a Business Management position at the company and realized that it is the direction I wanted to follow.

Later, when the opportunity arose to become the CEO of Webpals Group, I jumped at the chance. My vision was to build a company with a solid infrastructure, enabling scalable growth, both organically and through acquisitions, in various verticals. From a niche company operating in the Scandinavian market, I have led Webpals’ drastic expansion by branching out into new markets and verticals while successfully leading dozens of multi-million-dollar M and As.

Equipped with 15 years of experience in the Online Marketing industry, I have been the CEO of Webpals Group, a world-leading performance Marketing company, since January 2014. Since taking the helm, I have transformed the company from a small startup into a mature organization. During my five years as CEO, the company has grown exponentially and multiplied its revenues.

What is Webpals Group and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s Marketing Technology stack?

Webpals Group is a Performance Marketing company, specializing in driving high-value users to online and mobile businesses. Utilizing proprietary technology, thousands of exclusively managed web assets in over 18 languages, and with over 400 employees hailing from around the world, Webpals works with partners on a performance basis which means the company only succeeds when our partners succeed. Webpals Group is wholly owned by XLMedia (AIM: XLM).

Webpals’ technology enables the company to give its users the most practical advice and suggestions, guiding them towards the products and services they want to see – ultimately saving customers precious time and money in the search for the perfect product.

It integrates into a modern CMO’s marketing tech stack by acting as the technology supporting Content Management, helping companies scale and shorten time-to-market. With an abundance of information available, the challenge is to provide the most accurate and relevant information in the friendliest way (e.g. video, tools, etc.). Advanced technology together with creativity enables us to drive a higher audience and more importantly, increase the engagement of returning visitors.

 As a woman in tech, what are the biggest growth factors in your business that you have managed to scale successfully? 

Under my guidance, Webpals has been able to set a strong foundation for our expansion activities, from both the organizational and business perspective. We have leveraged the company’s central technology and Online Marketing know-how to build successful business units that integrated their acquisitions and managed to grow them significantly.

Webpals’ acquisition methodology has proven successful in the North American personal finance sector, with our portfolio including leading financial websites such as Moneyunder30, Greedyrates.ca, DoughRoller, and more.

According to you, which businesses are fastest in adopting Marketing Technology platforms for personalized Customer Experience? 

Beyond the obvious fit of retail and e-commerce, we are seeing other industries integrating MarTech platforms to improve Customer Experience with great success. A few of the industries that have seen rapid adoption and great ROI are Gaming, Food Delivery, Travel, and Finance. Despite being vastly different from one another, each of these industries is customer-centric and sees the great potential for Personalization.

While most of the banks are committed to providing Digital Solutions to meet their customers’ financial needs, there is considerable room for growth. Marketing technology can enable financial app developers to enrich users’ experience, providing quick and simple management solutions for customer’s financial needs.

Which data points do you focus on to uncover true intent and preferences behind Consumer Search behavior? To what extent this Customer Behavior can be personalized? 

We focus on Consumer Behavior by monitoring indicators such as time on site, interaction within the site (using the tools, answering surveys, etc.), heatmap, conversion rates along the funnel, and a number of times consumers return to the site.

Using these data points, we analyze user behavior and intentions, providing customers with unique and creative personalized offers and experiences.

We also create unique content, manufactured to meet users’ needs, wherever and whenever possible. For example, on greedyrates.ca, we developed calculators and tools that enable users to find the perfect product – enabling us to segment audiences by profile. Our proprietary technology allows us to target users on various occasions or on different sites, offering complementary information to their previous searches. The results show an increase in engagement and returning visitors, as well as a 30% increase in revenue.

We leverage mobile vs desktop to get the right content into the right hands. For example, blogs are easier to read on the go (mobile), whereas credit applications need attention and focus (desktop). And lastly, in order to personalize consumer’s online experiences, we build videos that resonate with the target audience, taking advantage of special events and utilizing relatable figures to present their own experiences with the product.

How much has the Search Intelligence commerce changed since the time you first started in the tech industry? 

Search Intelligence commerce has changed drastically since I first began in the tech industry. In the early 90s, Internet-wide search was still in its infancy. Today, retailers understand they must innovate to survive, but rapidly changing technologies and tastes make it hard to decide which innovations are worth pursuing. For marketers seeking to navigate this ever-evolving space, always staying one step ahead can prove a challenge.

Amidst the ever-changing Digital Search landscape, two unassuming technologies have quietly proven themselves useful for retailers and marketers alike: Voice and Visual search. The Visual search began as a novel Computer Science demo, but as mobile cameras improve and AI gets smarter, tech giants are increasingly throwing their weight behind this unique approach to search. Forward-thinking retailers are already implementing visual search to invigorate their online presence and deepen their connection with tech-savvy shoppers.

Voice search, on the other hand, is more complex as some opt for their mobile devices over smart speakers; however, optimizing Voice search will be vital for businesses in the near future as more and more searches on mobile are being conducted orally.

Understanding the nuances of Voice search is essential to help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for when searching by Voice – and, correspondingly, it’s also how marketers can direct audiences to relevant content and identify appropriate targets for outreach. Both Voice and Visual search will be an interesting space to watch as retailers and marketers turn to new venues for e-commerce and advertising. 

What are the major challenges/pain points for businesses that fail to leverage Mobile Marketing/Automation technologies? How does Webpals Group solve these?

Developing the tools that will enable scalable growth in all verticals is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today. Webpals is a leader and innovator in the Online Marketing sector, which is a crowded and constantly evolving market. Today’s consumers are inundated with information and want access to highly-tailored content across all media channels- to stand out, companies must have a unique value. Therefore, we must always remain ahead of the curve to engage users through a wide variety of platforms and niche sites. In order to do so, we have utilized our know-how to expand into new territories and new verticals, like Personal Finance.

Webpals’ advanced technology provides accurate targeting and segmentation of audiences, helping businesses tap into the most relevant users, ultimately enabling scalable growth. Lastly, as businesses often face a highly competitive environment, automation of campaign management is critical to gaining profits.

Which markets and geographies are you currently catering to? 

We operate worldwide in the mobile, tech, finance, and gaming sectors, from the United States to Europe, MENA, and Asia.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use in your current roles? 

We use in-house tools for Content Management and Data Extraction, Data Analysis and Conversion Optimization. Additionally, I use several tools to keep track of the internal and external affairs at Webpals. I start each morning looking at managerial dashboards and BI to keep up to speed with the performance of the various sectors of our business and to track our targets. Rank ranger is another useful tool for me to see what’s going on outside of the business, tracking changes and trends in the Google rankings of the sites we operate (over 2,000). 

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology on Marketing and Sales for 2019-2020? 

I believe the most impactful disruptions on AI and Data management technology will come from Blockchain Technology and Augmented Data Management. 

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now? 

I’m currently keeping an eye on Gong.io and GivingWay; I think both start-ups will make a large impact in the technology industry in the near future.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a MarTech Business leader?

Events should be trackable, with user behavior being mapped and tracked, enabling us to granularly collect the data and analyze a customer’s journey, from beginning to end.
Moreover, Statistics and Data Modeling experts should turn data into algorithms. Marketers and Content teams have the tools to understand user intent. Now, they must come up with content plans to fulfill those users’ needs.  

How do you inspire your people to work with technology? 

While I try to lead by example, my team at Webpals is truly remarkable. When I began my role at the company, it was important to me that we put together a group of people that are inclusive and gender-balanced, exemplifying the essence of our mission. Creating a team of diverse and talented experts pushes each member to show what they can bring to the table, constantly striving to improve our technology and customer services.

One word that best describes how you work. 

Multitasking.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? 

Mobile apps: Facebook ads, Google ads, rank tracker (rank ranger) and email application of course
Desktop tools: Internal reporting tools with different management dashboards to present daily status and trends

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack? 

Looking ahead is always important to me, so one of the most helpful tools or ‘hacks’ is our bi-monthly roadmap reviews. These assessments allow me to understand what progress has been made so far, and plan for future technological developments, reprioritizing our projects when necessary. Internally, my business and corporate teams submit weekly and monthly reports regarding the progress of major tech projects, initiatives, and various business affairs. Each month my financial team submits a performance review, allowing me to understand where we are in relation to our budget; this enables our team to adjust our operations and targets accordingly. 

What are you currently reading? 

A book I highly recommend (from past reading) is ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely. This book forced me to look at my decision-making process and re-evaluate how and why we all make the decisions we do – a critical element to running a healthy organization. A Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Dan Ariely’s book changed the way I thought about thinking. By dissecting the science behind our decisions, Ariely exposes the emotions, expectations, and ethics we subconsciously refer to when making choices, in daily life and in business. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You don’t get ahead without making mistakes.

 Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

 Looking ahead.

Every few months the heads of our business units present me with a quarterly business review to examine the previous quarter, highlighting key successes and challenges. This allows us to learn and grow from the past, taking those lessons into account when reviewing business plans for the next quarter.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

I would love to read answers from Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle, who led 100+ acquisitions when she took over as CEO. Or, from Mary T Barra, CEO of General Motors, who worked in every position possible at her company in order to relate to each employee and learn the ins and outs of her business.

Thank you, Inbal! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Inbal Lavi has led Webpals Group since 2014. Inbal was responsible for leading all three of the company’s major acquisitions; Dau-Up, MarMar Media and ClicksMob. Her career spans over a decade in the Online Marketing industry, with expertise in Marketing Strategy, Operations, and P&L management. She holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. with honors in Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University.

webpals logo

Webpals Group is a leader in performance Marketing with offices in New York, Tel Aviv, and Seoul. Our sub-brands, Webpals Finance, Webpals Tech & Webpals Mobile, have been maintaining their strong position in a wide variety of verticals for over a decade. With a complete understanding that data is the force driving the industry, we exclusively own and operate over 2,000 content-rich websites while leveraging our own, cutting-edge technologies, SEO, Media, and Mobile Advertising solutions to drive high-value users to global online businesses and mobile apps.

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.

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