Interview with Pushpa Ithal, Founder and CEO, Advo.Ninja
Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to Advo.Ninja?
I am the founder and CEO of Advo.Ninja, an enterprise social platform. I am passionate about building products that solve problems, are easy to use and deliver tangible results. I have worked for startups like SilverTail Systems and large companies like Oracle and EMC in product management and marketing roles.
Digital marketing will account for 75% of total marketing efforts by 2020. But, CMOs are not prepared to scale their efforts with respect to skills, resources, and tools. I realized that functional areas in an organization such as accounting, finance, sales, and engineering have very robust sets of tools to accelerate their efforts. However, marketing products are siloed and don’t provide deeper solutions. This lead me to start Advo.Ninja.
How can businesses leverage employee-driven social media strategies to build brand reputation and enhance corporate visibility?
Employee resources are underutilized or completely untapped by marketing teams within companies. There is a huge opportunity for win-win when employees participate in corporate branding. Companies get to expand their reach and reputation through employees’ social networks. And, employees build their personal branding and thought leadership on social with little or no effort.
A decade or two ago, corporations kept their communications very controlled and did not want their employees to openly talk about their workplace. However, corporate culture has been moving towards employees deeply embracing their employer’s brand. This has proved to improve morale and ultimately productivity. Social media is the best platform to showcase this employee-employer relation. Anyway, ad expenses are skyrocketing and they do not create the feeling you get when someone you know is sharing their thoughts with you on social.
In 2018, how would CMOs benefit from leveraging employee networking tools for social media?
Marketing teams do the heavy lifting of corporate branding, reputation, and content that support them. Employees can help connect the brand with the audience at scale, with their human touch by creating social content and amplifying distribution. There are a few tools out there that automate corporate brand messaging through employees to their social networks. The challenges with those tools are, they are neither completely automating the process nor they are adding personalization. Marketing managers end up spending a high percentage of their time in just managing the tools and make them work.
At Advo.Ninja we focus on three major areas:
- Decentralizing quality content creation through employees and technology. Employees get to react to industry news and create true social content. They also get to be the center of all the engagement. This makes them true thought leaders.
- Content distribution at scale without losing personalization. In this process, employees build their thought leadership by creating a strong social reputation. Employees that use Advo.Ninja immediately observe an increase in LinkedIn profile views, followers, and they also rank high on social searches.
- Capturing top of the funnel social leadsm, that would otherwise be lost. Every campaign is measurable including audience analysis, content analysis, and dollar value.
What are the major challenges for CMOs in effectively leveraging real-time events for building brand reputation?
Internet users have grown by 82% since 2012 and there have been over 2.5 trillion posts created on Facebook alone. Content is growing at an alarming rate. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to analyze real-time events let alone effectively leveraging it for brand reputation. Once real-time events are gathered, the next challenge will be in tailoring the message to individual audience creating the sense of one-on-one conversation addressing the event. Persona matching is another challenge. Communication of events should reach right audience to create the desired impact.
Today there is human intervention in every step of marketing. Only the combination of intelligent automation with personalization will win.
What startups in the martech industry are you watching/keen on right now?
- Sprinklr is a leading Social Media and Social Ad Management platform. It will be interesting to see if the ad market is going to grow or plateau, while PR is becoming participatory. Users are opting out of ads.
- Demandbase, has the first mover advantage in ABM. It will be interesting to see if ABM products would merge with CRM companies in 2018 or grow independently.
- ActionIQ, marketing evolution has just begun with AI and Machine Learning. MarTech offerings have to raise their game to provide a complete solution with real-time adjustments to campaigns. ActionIQ is trying to solve the backend data disintegration problem.
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?
- MailChimp for email communication to our user community.
- Piktochart and Animaker for content creation – videos, infographics, datasheets and case studies.
- Hubspot for automation.
- CrazyEgg and Google Analytics for web-traffic analysis.
Would you tell us about your standout global digital campaign at Advo.Ninja?
‘Calculate my Reach’ campaign which has an engaging calculator on our home page was one of the campaigns that stands out. We now organically rank second and third on Google for the ‘Social Reach Calculator’ keyword. Thanks to Social Media for making this such a big ongoing success for us. We ate our own dog food in significantly increasing our reach on multiple social networks. We invited our friends in business who have great social networks, to spread the word.
Through our dashboards, we measured all social responses, which social network was yielding high results so we could invest more efforts in that and audience highest active time of the day. We also measured where the traffic was originated. We had to adjust post content and post timings to include UK and Germany audience, since we got great response from those locations.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader? How do you leverage AI technologies at Advo.Ninja?
Evolution of AI and its applications in marketing has just begun. The ultimate goal is to tell if a buyer who is a passionate cyclist and is active on Facebook between 3-5pm, likes to watch videos on weekends, read your article, discussed that with friends on Facebook and Twitter, asked a question on quora about the brand, and finally bought a new bicycle on Amazon. Today, there are siloed solutions that cannot monitor every step in the buyer’s journey and understand buyers’ behavior deeply.
At Advo.Ninja, we are building technology to match content with right employee influencer who can reach right target audience. When there is, a mismatch is any of these three pieces of data, campaigns fail. If an employee is building one of the 50 products a company has, he should be asked to communicate social messages for that one product only. We read content automatically to tag content and find a real match based on employee interests, his previous social engagement and other criteria.
How do you bring people and technology together at one place?
When people understand the depth of the vision behind any technology, they come together naturally. It’s key to empower each one of them while providing clear-cut goals to bring the best the in them.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Quora, LinkedIn, Zoom
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I have limited number of highly valuable apps on my phone. I manage various functions on the go including bank accounts, conferences, email campaigns, connecting with the audience on social media and forums.
What are you currently reading?
On a daily basis, I read curated industry news, newsletters from unbiased communities and participate in Quora and a few LinkedIn Groups.
I am reading an interesting book, called Hooked by Nir Eyal, on how to build habit-forming products. My true passion is building invaluable products.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“You won’t know your strength unless you try” – Laura Mather
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Pushpa! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Pushpa has twelve years of product management and development experience. She has been involved in product building – including creating the roadmap, writing requirements both in Agile and Waterfall processes with a heavy emphasis on UX/UI, workflows, customer validation programs. Pushpa also has product launch and marketing experience, in positioning, pricing, creating marketing assets, webcasts, public speaking, and analyst briefings.
Her sales experience covers deal support, global sales, and partner enablements including planning and delivering training, and demo strategy. She has also facilitated cross-functional and global team interactions for marketing, architecture/engineering, PS, CS, sales, and pre-sales verticals.
With billions of content added to social networks everyday, reaching relevant audiences has become extremely challenging and expensive for marketing and communication teams. Advo.Ninja has developed a SaaS marketing product to utilize untapped, powerful social networks of employees, partners and investors to reach 10X audiences and build brand reputation. With this, marketers are now able to communicate company brand stories easily, timely and inexpensively through people behind the brand. And, employees build their social profiles and become thought leaders.
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.