Interview with Tomer Tagrin, Co-founder and CEO, Yotpo
Tell us about your role at Yotpo and how you got here. What galvanized you to start Yotpo?
I came into this as a consumer, actually. I made a bad purchase of a camera online as a result of trusting fake reviews, and resolved to help others avoid the same fate. In developing Yotpo where I am CEO, my co-founder Omri and I saw the massive opportunity in going beyond just the product page and showcasing UGC across the entire buyer journey, from awareness to consideration to purchase to re-engagement—anywhere a shopper might appreciate that extra bump of confidence from social proof, which is everywhere.
Given the changing dynamic of content monetization technologies, how do you see the User-Generated Content (UGC) industry evolving by 2020?
The basis of our business is the fact that customer content performs better than any other, across millions of commerce interactions showing an average 166% improvement in conversions.
But that’s just the first step.
Brands, in particular, our fast-paced vComm clients, are taking UGC and funneling that feedback right back into their business as valuable consumer intelligence, informing everything from marketing to product development to operations. UGC keeps brands connected and moving at the pace of their consumers, in direct opposition to many disintermediated big-name brands we see floundering today.
By 2020, the commerce industry at large will look more like these vComm brands, “listening” smartly, producing more relevant products, iterating quickly; accepting that customer satisfaction is the emotional currency that defines brand value. That satisfaction is derived from a company’s ability to create an authentic relationship with every single customer, at scale. And it all starts with taking feedback, also at scale, and acting on it to drive measurable growth across the board.
What makes Yotpo different from other UGC platforms?
Unlike our point solution competitors, Yotpo’s core UGC solution offers a completely integrated experience in one platform, giving brands ultimate control over how they collect, display and market with customer content. From one UI, a company can collect, moderate, and publish reviews, manage Q&A, use customer photos and social posts for visual marketing, create and publish UGC Facebook Ads, and track the performance (including sales influence) of every UGC asset.
2018 marks several major advancements to the platform as enabled by artificial intelligence, including the debut of Insights that gives companies the ability to analyze their customers’ feedback at scale, integrations with leading email marketing and other digital marketing platforms, an even provide a smarter review experience for consumers, and much more.
What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ Profile look like? How do you build your audience segments?
If your business sells products or services online then you will most likely fit our ideal customer profile. But what typically characterize our customers are a digital-first strategy and ability to iterate quickly in response to market changes. The Yotpo platform is designed for brands who believe that growth and business success ultimately rests on their ability to create a meaningful relationship with their customers, build community and inspire loyalty; that’s what we enable through UGC.
We have four packages: from basic freemium, to ‘Powerhouse,’ which lets users collect and amplify UGC content, to ‘Visual Marketing,’ which offers a suite of tools to leverage visual content to drive traffic and conversions. The ‘Enterprise’ suite offers all features plus customization, dedicated customer success manager, and access to Insights analysis solution.
Do you see a direct connection between the growth and popularity of the Influencer Marketing and the UGC platforms?
I believe both are rising in influence because, in a world of fake news and dying trust in institutions, consumers are turning to each other, and influencers they choose to believe in, to bring confidence to their buying decisions. Influencers and customers through UGC offer consumers a way to gauge the experience with a brand and its products. However, there are differences in what they communicate. Influencer marketing is closer to advertising, providing an aspirational viewpoint, whereas the focus of UGC is typically the authenticity of the experience. Also, influencer marketing is more one-directional, whereas UGC fosters more of a two-way conversation, a discussion among peers.
How challenging is the UGC landscape? Could B2B companies benefit from UGC platforms too?
The UGC field has relatively low barriers to entry, but there’s a massive disparity in capability. Plenty of out-of-box “review” solutions out there but they won’t actually be able to generate the volume of content a company would need to improve SEO/SEM, on-site conversions, repeat business, etc. UGC can be massively powerful but needs to be managed correctly.
B2B brands with a larger customer base can absolutely benefit from UGC platforms; we have several using our solution to amass a library of “social proof.”
How is the global market for Content Intelligence technology shaping up with the greater maturity of DMPs and AI-driven analytics?
As AI becomes more accessible, it won’t be a fight over who has the best AI, but rather who has the best data. Data will be the most valuable competitive advantage for customers and brands.
How do you see the recent changes in data privacy laws (GDPR) impacting personalized customer experiences in video? How are you preparing for the post-GDPR disruptions?
We’re working towards GDPR compliance and should be finishing up the process soon. It’s important for companies to address security issues, especially around customer experience. Companies that aren’t doing so are making a mistake; globalization and emphasis on consumers’ right to privacy can’t be dismissed.
What challenges do CMOs tackle to make their content marketing decisions work with accurate marketing attribution?
The ability to measure the effectiveness of UGC was a challenge we solved for right away. Especially given the scope of what we affect–acquisition, onsite, purchase, post-purchase, loyalty–we provide thorough analytics on the influence of UGC: on engagement, on ORs, on CTRs, on CPCs, on conversions, on sales…down to the widget, down to the content asset, so that CMOs and other executive stakeholders can better measure ROI.
What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
For a variety of reasons but particularly for the way certain companies disrupt how people engage or interact with each other, I really admire Slack, Intercom, and Segment. In retail specifically, the most fascinating are companies that take risks to be at the forefront of commerce. This includes established retailers Amazon, Walmart, as well as our customers–challenger brands like Chubbies, Leesa and Pura Vida.
Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign at Yotpo?
Working with Jake Kassan at MVMT following the company’s launch, we built a program to activate the community voice and build credibility for this new, lower-cost but high-value entrant to the market. Luxury watch buying online was counter to what most consumers had experienced and, to a certain extent, we needed to establish a new category and convince would-be buyers to trust the model. Incorporating reviews and Q&As onsite was an easy way to assure wary consumers. Because the audience couldn’t pick up and feel the product, peer-to-peer questions and other UGC gave them the confidence to buy. The results were outstanding and have allowed Kassan and the team at MVMT to sell over 100K watches to date.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
As much as AI is the buzzword du jour, there have real advancements taking us to new frontiers, and quickly. Remember when Siri first came on the scene not that long ago, how error-riddled that experience was. Today, so many of us are letting both Siri and Alexa enter our personal space, listening to everything we say, involved in so many aspects of our life. Change is coming fast; AI laggards will lose. A key thing to remember is that there won’t be one AI to rule them all, so it’s important to focus on specific use cases and spend time perfecting those. And the people behind the AI are fundamental. There’s increasing competition for AI talent in the US; we’re lucky to attract top-rank data scientists in Tel Aviv, where Yotpo R&D is located.
How do you inspire people to work with technology?
I embrace technology and explore the different ways to leverage it. That said, it’s important not to forget about the human touch when running a technology company given that all humans crave social interaction. I’m proud that our technology enables human interaction in digital experiences.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Gmail, WhatsApp and Amazon.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Since my kid was born, I haven’t really been able to sleep. I’ve found that you can get actually get a lot of things done at night when the baby’s fussing and you can’t sleep. You can get interesting ideas in such a chaotic environment.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently including Shoe Dog (by the creator of Nike) and Principles (by Ray Dalio).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of our board members, former CEO of GoDaddy, told me that effort doesn’t equal results. Therefore, it’s important to make sure everyone is working hard and spending energy, time and passion on things that can make a difference to your customers and employees. In other words, you need to do things that will move the needle.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I think it’s important to have a sense of humor in tough situations and to have the ability to cope with failure.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Anil Aggarwal, Founder, Shoptalk
Thank you Tomer! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Tomer Tagrin is the co-founder and CEO of Yotpo, the leading customer content marketing platform for commerce brands. Thousands of businesses — from established companies like Staples and TYR to fast-growing, digitally native brands like UNTUCKit, MVMT Watches and Esurance — use Yotpo to collect and leverage every type of user-generated content to increase trust, social proof and sales. Tagrin was a chip designer for Intel before co-founding Yotpo, and a software engineering major at Tel Aviv University before that. An eCommerce junkie, he passionately believes that great brands are built on happy customers.
Yotpo is the leading customer content marketing platform for fast-growing direct commerce brands like Away Travel, MVMT Watches, UNTUCKit, and Esurance. With Yotpo, businesses can collect every type of user-generated content and use it to build a stronger brand and better customer experience. Yotpo’s integrated solution brands collect, curate, manage, and respond to user-generated content from a single platform. Through a combination of technology, integrations, and partnerships, Yotpo makes it easy to effectively leverage customer content throughout the buyer journey to increase trust, social proof, and sales. An official partner of Google, Facebook, and Shopify, Yotpo has raised $101 million in funding and has over 300 employees globally.
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.