Interview with Guy Yalif, Co-Founder, CEO and Board Director, Intellimize

Guy Yalif, Co-Founder, CEO, and Board Director at Intellimize

“We think that in the next couple of years, we will start seeing a shakeout where companies that ‘threw on some AI to look shiny’ will run into issues delivering on their promises.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to start Intellimize?

I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Intellimize. We’ve been putting AI in the hands of marketers for several years to better engage and convert website visitors and drive more revenue. We personalize mobile and desktop websites for each unique visitor automatically using AI.

For me, that journey began many years ago when I coded a rules-based expert system in college to design airplanes. My co-founders spent many years using AI to personalize internet-scale web properties.

The idea for Intellimize came out of working as VP of Marketing at BrightRoll, a programmatic video advertising company that was acquired by Yahoo. My team and I invested a lot of money and effort in paid and organic media bringing prospects to our website. We were accountable for delivering a lot of leads to sales, yet we spent almost no time optimizing our website to get more of those prospects to raise their hands to talk to our sales team. It made no sense since virtually every prospect had to go through that site in order to convert into a customer.

After BrightRoll, we spoke to 100+ marketers and looked at the existing tools to optimize websites. We quickly realized that the existing tools take too much time from marketers, treat everyone the same permanently, and often don’t yield an answer. We also saw that driving more revenue out of a website is a widespread problem.

That led us to realize that many of the approaches we’ve all used to optimize and personalize ads for years can and should be applied to websites to drive more revenue. It turns out that personalization-focused AI is an ideal way to do just that.

How do you prepare for the highly disruptive Marketing Technology ecosystem?

We start with the customer, in our case performance-focused marketers. We try to understand a day in their life and the problems they face achieving their goals and growing in their careers. We then obsess over solving one of those problems really, really well. We humbly believe that this is the right focus. If we make individual marketers heroes of their organizations, success will follow, even in a highly disruptive market.

What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does Intellimize add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?

We believe that treating all prospects the same is like telling every man in the US that they need to wear size 10 ½ shoes because that’s the average shoe size for men in the US. It sounds ridiculous when we talk about shoes, and we, as marketers, do it routinely with our websites.

We believe that we should dynamically personalize the prospect journey to get more prospects to convert. Intellimize’s AI makes it easy for marketers to try a lot of ideas at once and then automatically delivers the combination of ideas that are most likely to get each unique visitor to convert. Using AI, we are able to help marketers deliver better results, faster, and with less work. In fact, our average client last year optimized pages that would’ve taken them 25 years to optimize had they used traditional, manual A/B testing methods.

What is the current state of Marketing Intelligence and how does Intellimize fit into the ecosystem?

Intellimize integrates with marketing intelligence systems, enabling complete visibility into every decision the machine makes. We have turnkey integrations with major marketing analytics systems such as Google Analytics and Mixpanel and API integrations available for other systems.

To what extent can video marketing and advertising be automated for better personalization? How does Intellimize help CMOs to achieve the highest level of personalization?

Several of us have spent many years in advertising and deeply appreciate the personalized experience good technology can create with video and other kinds of ads. Intellimize is focused on bringing similar personalization to the other side of the click – to the marketer’s website where prospects land after engaging with an ad. Our customers typically test many parts of their mobile and desktop web experience, including video, content, layout, interactivity, messaging, sequencing, pre-population, and more.

Intellimize’s AI may do a better job of personalizing a website when it can understand the ad a visitor saw just before landing on the website. Intellimize may help a marketer continue that messaging on to the marketer’s website, creating a more consistent experience and driving more revenue.

How do you see the North American Marketing and Sales tech industry growing compared to European and ANZ markets?

At the moment, we are focused primarily on the North American market. We have received a significant amount of interest in our platform from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of Asia.

Which Marketing and Sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Our internal MarTech and Sales stack includes Salesforce, Marketo, Datanyze, Clearbit, and Drift.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Operations for 2018-2020?

We see a lot of hype around AI. We think that in the next couple of years, we will start seeing a shakeout where companies that ‘threw on some AI to look shiny’ will run into issues delivering on their promises. We think other companies are applying the right kind of AI for the problem they are trying to solve. We think that the second group of companies will refine their science, expectation setting, and customer engagement models to deliver great results. We think marketers will increasingly be accountable for understanding a rapidly evolving MarTech landscape while consistently delivering results.

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

We’re really proud to work with partners like Drift, Clearbit, and Madkudu. Each of those companies is solving a specific need in the marketplace, and they have generated significant traction.

Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?

Perkville is a SaaS company that creates loyalty programs for its customers. They wanted to drive more social referrals, but they had less than 2,000 page views a day to work with.

Over time, they used AI to test 39 different ideas on their send-referral page. If you multiply out all of the possible versions of the page that these 39 ideas create, there are 633,000 of them. That’s years’ worth of A/B testing at that volume.

With AI helping accelerate learning, Perkville was able to realize 42% lift in 2 months. How? With AI, Perkville was able to test multiple ideas on the page at the same time. This is similar to how multivariate tests (MVT) are run. However, unlike MVT, our AI won’t run equal traffic to each combination of ideas. Instead, it will automatically feed winners more traffic and starve losers of traffic.

AI was also able to tease out the impact of each individual element, allowing Perkville to learn more from every impression. AI can dynamically personalize the prospect journey which, among other things, turbo boosts your testing.

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

Given how pervasive AI is becoming in our personal and professional lives, I believe it behooves each of us to understand some of the basics of AI. I don’t mean coding or math. I do mean developing intuition so that we can better evaluate the claims of machine learning scientists, vendors, and agencies. Investing an hour or a few hours in the fundamentals can help you save months of time and lots of money as you choose where to invest in AI in your professional life.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Since we’re an overtly AI-focused company, the people we attract tend to be pretty excited to work with technology. We focus a lot on making that technology practically useful and approachable to our customers, most of whom are more focused on results than on the underlying technology details. Meeting our customers where they are in their relationship to technology has helped us make AI practically useful for them.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

If you’re asking personally, the answer is:

  • Communication (Gmail, text, Slack)
  • Calendar (iOS and G Suite)
  • Waze
  • Personalized news (I happen to use News360)
  • Trello

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

It’ll sound like the opposite, but tracking my time is the best time-saving productivity hack I have. There are a few simple buckets for categorizing my time, and I update a tracking sheet, in my case in Excel, as the day flows. It looks like a lot of effort, and by now it’s second nature. I don’t even think about it.

Why do it in the first place? The places I need to spend my time can change significantly week by week, and time is the scarcest resource I’ve got. This tracking enables me to ensure I’m focusing on the right things each day and each week. Because that is the goal, I don’t care to be exactly accurate. I simply need to get things generally right.

What are you currently reading?

I read the news voraciously. Although I have essentially no friends that want to talk about it, I enjoy reading about airplanes and quantum mechanics in my spare time.

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

Know that the only thing you control is how you show up. You control you. You cannot control anything else, including the reactions of those around you.

If you reframe your actions in that context, you will (often) be happier, feel less disappointment, and do things from a sense of who you are and less from a place of trying to manipulate someone to give you the answer you want.

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

Not sure there’s a secret, but I try to do the work to have real depth in what I’m trying to achieve and at the same time bring a perpetual humility to know that I can always do better.

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

Jon Miller at Engagio

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

Guy is the CEO and co-founder of Intellimize. Prior to Intellimize, he held a number of senior marketing positions at major media and technology companies, including Vice President of Global Marketing at BrightRoll and Head of Global Product and Vertical Marketing at Twitter, as well as leadership roles at Yahoo, Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group, and Tradeweave. Guy is a recognized marketing expert who has written for various industry publications and has spoken frequently at industry conferences internationally. Guy holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and a BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University where his thesis was coding artificial intelligence for airplane design.

Intellimize Logo

Intellimize personalizes your website for each visitor to drive more conversions and revenue, faster, and with less work. Unlike traditional A/B testing, we make it easy for you to test lots of ideas at once, and we help marketers identify the experiences most likely to drive results. We handle the coding to bring your ideas to life and our technology automatically selects the experiences most likely to result in conversions for each individual user. Leading companies rely on Intellimize to deliver faster and better results with less work than traditional A/B testing or rules based personalization.

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

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.