Interview with Gregg Johnson, CEO, Invoca

Gregg Johnson, Invoca
interviwes
Gregg Johnson
Gregg Johnson
CEO, Invoca
invoca logo

On Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of a MarTech company?
In 2016, I joined Invoca as CEO. After working in product management for over nine years at Salesforce, a company that disrupted the enterprise software industry, I wanted the opportunity to join a smaller company and try to have a similar transformational impact. At Invoca, we are not only leading a new category in MarTech, we are transforming how marketers think about their jobs and helping brands radically improve customer experience.

MTS: Given the changing dynamic of engagement with online customers, how do you see call intelligence technology integrating with marketing automation platforms by 2020?
With the massive rise of mobile, which is driving 85 billion calls to businesses globally and influencing more than $1 Trillion in U.S. consumer spending, it’s becoming even more important for marketers to integrate call intelligence with their marketing automation solutions.

As consumers increasingly combine their digital interactions with voice interactions, live conversation has become the new competitive battleground for customer experience. Call intelligence allows marketers to connect digital consumer interactions (clicking on paid search ads, browsing websites, etc.) to the voice experience (talking to a human), to have a holistic profile of the customer.

The Invoca Voice Marketing Cloud integrates with Marketo, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud and Hubspot to help marketers bridge the gap between digital and voice interactions and create a personalized customer experience across all channels and device types. Marketers can use insights from voice conversations to automatically trigger the next best online engagement, like retargeting a consumer with ads for a product mentioned but not purchased during the conversation, or automatically suppressing ads because the customer purchased over the phone.

MTS: Tell us about Invoca’s native reporting capabilities that measure audience attention and conversion analytics to deliver better omnichannel experience?
Invoca provides insights into which campaigns are driving the types of calls marketers want, including call volume, call duration, top campaigns, signals met, and call conversion rates. Within the Invoca Voice Marketing Cloud real-time dashboard, marketers can also automatically capture custom, actionable insights from hundreds of data points on each phone call, such as whether someone is an active shopper, a hot prospect, or mentioned a specific product but did not purchase. Marketers can use these insights to optimize their marketing performance, personalize the caller experience, automate the omnichannel journey, and expand their audiences with both digital and voice interactions.

MTS: How should marketers leverage call intelligence for personalized campaigns?
Voice conversations provide rich insights for marketers as they seek to understand, meet, and even predict the subtlest of consumer needs and intents. Data gathered and leveraged from conversations can help marketers improve the customer experience, such as delivering a personalized email or display ad in real time, based on buyer intent or preference conveyed during a phone call.

For example, marketers using Adobe Target can extend the personalized web experience they serve to their customers to a phone conversation using Invoca. For instance, a customer is greeted with a product specific landing page based on past engagements. When that customer calls, Invoca Signal can identify the website experience being served and route the caller to the representative best equipped to discuss/sell that particular product. Marketers can also use voice insights such as what was said during the call to trigger the next best engagement to create a consistent and personalized experience across channels.

MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make their attribution models work with any search marketing platform?
One of the biggest challenges in attribution is in understanding the impact of online channels’,  – especially search – ability to drive offline revenue. Most analytics platforms and their attribution models are only providing a partial solution by looking at the digital conversions and revenue, not including the online impact to offline sales/leads/in-store visits. Once marketers include offline data in their attribution they can get the full picture of how search is performing to better optimize their search marketing.

Looking forward, voice search is the future and will be a challenge for search marketing attribution. With the rise of artificial intelligence, voice is rapidly becoming the new interface for computing. As speech recognition technology is improving and people seek easier ways to get the information they need, voice search usage will continue to grow.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
I’m currently watching Vicarious. The scope and nature of the artificial intelligence they are trying to build is quite astounding.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We use our own technology, the Invoca Voice Marketing Cloud. Our core stack for attribution, analytics and execution also includes Salesforce, Marketo, Brightfunnel, Vidyard, LeanData, InsideView, LookbookHQ, PFL and Sigstr. We use Terminus and AdRoll for our digital advertising.

MTS: Would you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Our standout campaigns are usually not just limited to digital. We see the most success when we combine both the online and offline experience for prospects, and focus on providing educational value and a truly personalized experience. A recent example would be an end to end prospect experience in conjunction with a major tradeshow. With sales support we handpicked a list of enterprise accounts that we knew would be attending. The goal, and measure of success, was to have meaningful in person meetings with senior level marketers at this event, and create pipeline. Prior to the event we combined account-targeted display advertising, direct mail pieces, email and an interactive series of web content. The goal of these campaigns was to educate the prospect on the challenge we solve for, and offer an in-person consultation with a subject matter expert. The meetings themselves included a customized demo, relationship building thank you gift, and more personalized digital content as follow-up. It drove meaningful engagements with a high number of our target accounts, and surpassed our pipeline goals.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
The goal of personalizing experiences and communication with customers has been around for a long time. Now, marketers can use artificial intelligence to gain insights from large volumes of data, such as unstructured voice data, to better serve their customers. Marketers can create products and services that learn from the behavior of their users and then tailor their experiences. Marketers need to think about how they can leverage AI to differentiate themselves by customizing all of their advertising, products, and services for their individual customers.

This is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Collaborative. I believe that great leaders empower teams with deep context on the business goals they are trying to achieve. An executive that I respected tremendously in my time at Salesforce, Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, called this approach “go slow to go fast.” It’s the concept of investing time to explain the goal you are trying to accomplish in great detail, with as much context as you can provide, upfront. I’ve seen it be very successful in unleashing a massive amount of creativity and energy from employees on how to accomplish audacious goals with ideas and approaches that our leadership team would never have conceived.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Most used apps on my phone – Gmail, Slack, Spotify, Salesforce, Wunderlist and LinkedIn. I monitor what’s going on in our business constantly using Slack and Salesforce.

Until the past year, I wasn’t particularly organized on a day-to-day basis. But I found as a CEO, I need to be really deliberate about how I use my time. So I am now addicted to Wunderlist as a means of focusing my day and keeping track of what needs to get done.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I have tried to put more emphasis on setting clear goals for myself on a monthly or quarterly basis, and then working backwards from those to set my day-to-day and week to week priorities. It’s hard for me as a CEO to accomplish things that can strategically benefit the company within a day, or even a week. But it is critical that I help our company move the needle strategically quarter to quarter. So I like to think of my time in quarterly chunks, set explicit goals of I want to achieve, and then use those as guideposts to organize my daily and weekly activities.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
In terms of current affairs and technology news, I read content online and listen to podcasts during my commute. For mainstream news, I read a combination of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post to get a variety of perspectives. I get my technology updates primarily through Twitter and LinkedIn, rather than reading any dedicated publication day to day. I am a big fan of SaaStr podcasts, and lately have really enjoyed Reid Hoffman’s new “Masters of Scale” of series.

On the weekends, I prefer to unplug and read books unrelated to business. I was really affected by Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air”; and when it comes to fiction, I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s series about a bookseller in Barcelona – Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven and The Rose of Fire.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve received wasn’t explicit per se, but was simply observing the example set by my father. He was an entrepreneur and built a business in mechanical engineering – but more importantly, treated his employees, his customers, and his partners with fairness, respect, and empathy. That engendered a tremendous amount of loyalty that far outlasted his time at the company. And he has been very involved in his local community, investing time and money to help those less fortunate than he and his family. He set a great example of business leadership and community service at that local level.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Being able to understand different perspectives, synthesize those opinions and supporting data into a cohesive point of view, and then communicate that to a larger audience in a clear and motivational way. A lot of those skills stem from the time I spent in management consulting, a profession that trains you to process data and understand complex issues so thoroughly that you can break down and simplify them. I like to joke that I can see “five sides of a square” — which at times can be a fault as well as an asset. So I’m mindful of how much data our teams and I need in order to make decisions in a time-effective manner.

MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Jeff Weiner from LinkedIn. I’ve never met Jeff, but I respect the way he conducts himself and communicates, and have heard tremendous things about his leadership style from friends and colleagues at LinkedIn. I appreciate his low-key style and collaborative approach to management.

MTS: Thank you Gregg! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Seasoned SaaS executive with a passion for building and bringing to market products in emerging categories. Experience in product design / development, scaling product and engineering teams, go to market strategy, and pricing / packaging. I like rolling up my sleeves and doing what it takes to make customers happy and businesses succeed.

invoca
Invoca helps the modern marketer optimize for the most important step in the customer journey: the phone call. With Invoca’s Voice Marketing Cloud, marketers can get granular campaign attribution to understand why customers are calling, gain real-time intelligence about who’s calling and analyze what’s being said in conversations. Marketers can put this data to work directly in the Voice Marketing Cloud by automating the ideal customer experience before, during and after each call. With an ecosystem of over 30 technology partners, marketers can inject call intelligence into their existing technology stack, giving them the ability to orchestrate a true omnichannel customer journey. Invoca is backed by Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Accel Partners, Upfront Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and Stepstone. For more information, please visit www.invoca.com.

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.

interviwes
Oliver Roup
Oliver Roup
Founder and CEO at VigLink
viglink

On Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role at VigLink and how you got here. (what inspired you to start an affiliate marketing company)
Oliver:
I was looking for a business to start and became interested in affiliate marketing, but after logging in to an affiliate marketing platform, the process as it existed seemed remarkably complex. I reasoned that, even with two CS degrees, if I still had a hard time figuring it out, the average blogger and content publisher would struggle as well.  In 2008, I wrote a crawler that looked for links to Amazon to see how many websites and content publishers were effectively using affiliate links, and I found that less than half of the commercial links were affiliated. At that moment, I knew there was a real opportunity to help both publishers and merchants gain the ability to effectively and profitably execute affiliate marketing strategies. In 2009, I founded VigLink, and have been running the company ever since.

MTS: Given how quickly automated affiliate marketing strategies have been accepted, how do you see this market evolving over the next few years?
Oliver:
Over the next few years, the techniques used in programmatic display advertising will be applied to affiliate in a big way. From both display and search, most advertisers are familiar with a demand curve, where if you pay more, you’ll drive more traffic to your intended destination. Affiliate has this characteristic only weakly. Whereas in search you can change your bids and see the effects immediately, changes in affiliate pricing usually take months and a trip to Affiliate Summit before seeing a change in traffic flow (particularly from content). This delay, comparative to other marketing and advertising technologies, is changing.

MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Oliver:
Content-driven commerce is flying the same curve that display advertising flew over the last few decades. Hard-coded creative yielded to ad servers and on to the auction driven demand-side, supply-side and data management platform eco-system are pushing the landscape to where it is today. Affiliate marketing is just starting to make the leap from hard-coded links to a render-time decision, and the ability to utilize data to drive performance is going to have a huge impact.

MTS: What’s the biggest challenge for startups to integrate with a platform like VigLink into their stack?
Oliver:
At VigLink, we initially pitched ourselves as a “lights out” operation – install it once and forget about it, and just wait for the revenue to roll in. We focused on ease of installation and, if you want, you can still use VigLink that way. To really crank out the revenue, though, publishers and merchants both need to be watching their dashboards for what products are selling and trending via VigLink’s Trends Explorer. The challenge there can be that, to have the bandwidth and know-how to do so, it requires training and in some cases an editorial team incentivizing them to drive revenue.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Oliver:
I’m a huge fan of Cloudflare. It was started by some classmates of mine and has grown tremendously – at this stage, they proxy about 10% of all web traffic. They have an amazing platform to give publishers a menu of services they can add.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Oliver:
Intercom, Salesforce, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Looker

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Oliver:
You prepare by being first. The lesson isn’t just that jobs can be automated into nonexistence, it’s that well trained computer systems can typically do the job substantially better than humans. Tesla’s relatively crude Autopilot system already decreases accidents per road mile by 10%, relative to the baseline. Functions such as ad operations and media buying seem highly prone to not just automation, but automation whose performance dramatically exceeds the performance of the humans it replaces.

This Is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Oliver:
Single-threaded.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Oliver:
Gmail. 25 years later, email is still the core of how I communicate on the Internet.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Oliver:
Tripit is a great simple tool for managing travel. I simply forward my emails to their platform and they curate a master itinerary for all my travel.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Oliver:
The Creator’s Code. It’s a smart book on what differentiates highly productive founders.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Oliver:
Never list your cell phone number on documents you file with the SEC. This tip has saved me from countless unsolicited phone calls.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Oliver:
Having an engineering background helps a lot. It lends credibility when recruiting engineers and gives me a sense of what’s possible on certain projects and in certain contexts.

MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Oliver:
Elon Musk.

MTS: Thank you Oliver! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

I am the founder / CEO of VigLink. We are making the web better by making every link intelligent and valuable.

viglink logo

VigLink technology instantly and automatically captures the value of content that drives commerce. We monetize ordinary links to over 40,000 retailers, whether they’re created by you or us. Our technology works across sites, apps, and social networks so you can focus on your business, earn more, and avoid the hassle of managing countless affiliate programs.

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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