Interview with Wayne Townsend, President, Epsilon

Wayne Townsend
[mnky_team name=”Wayne Townsend” position=” President, Epsilon”][/mnky_team]
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“Those that are successfully transforming their attribution practice are measuring performance around a customer-obsessed KPI, making it more customer-oriented and indicative of the entire customer experience.”

On Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role at Epsilon and how you got here?
I lead a team that combines data, predictive analytics and best-in-class technology to deliver digital marketing solutions that drive dramatic, measurable results for our Fortune 1000 clients. The global sales, client services, and delivery teams I lead support Epsilon’s CRM, email, loyalty, digital experience, strategy and insights core offerings delivering more than 600 million loyalty memberships worldwide and billions of email marketing messages for companies like Walgreen’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Marriott, and Dell.

Over the course of my career, I’ve helped transition startups like Xchange Applications, Inc., a Boston-based leader in analytic customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, through rapid growth to successful IPO. Before joining Epsilon, I served as CEO of ClickSquared where I transformed the business from a project-based services orientation to a recurring revenue-based SaaS software company.

I also bring experience as an United States Air Force Captain to my role leading and managing teams.

MTS: What are the main challenges in Data Driven Marketing?
Consumer expectations are rising in terms of the relevance and overall experience they expect to receive from brands. As a result, CMOs want a deeper understanding of their customers and the ability to reach them at moments of interest, across channels and devices, with personalized communications. Delivering real-time personalized communications requires powerful solutions that activate insights by fusing data, technology and creative.

Brands must also be able to measure their marketing efforts to consistently learn from and improve on prior customer interactions. Attribution is still a very real challenge for even the most sophisticated marketers. Consumers are interacting with brands on a number of channels and if attribution is looked at one channel at a time, it loses its effectiveness. Those that are successfully transforming their attribution practice are measuring performance around a customer-obsessed KPI, making it more customer-oriented and indicative of the entire customer experience.

MTS: How does Epsilon look to leverage marketing technology for its clients?
The increasing pressure from consumers means brands need solutions that can help unify the multichannel brand experience in the way consumers now expect. The siloed, channel-specific lens that marketing technology was born out of (and how many marketing organizations are still aligned) is now insufficient.

Epsilon helps clients implement marketing technology solutions that enable them to create unified and consistent cross-channel experiences. We start by advising brands on how to align the right people, processes and technology to deliver the best possible customer experiences. Then, we implement powerful technology platforms that can activate customer insights to reach customers with personalized content at scale. The technology platforms our clients leverage often include our own loyalty, email, and digital media technology IP but our open platforms enable us to integrate all the elements of a brand’s marketing stack to create the most ideal solution to meet their business needs.

MTS: How does Epsilon look to comply with regulations like the GDPR?
Epsilon supports the principle of GDPR – to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals in the EU. Epsilon has been working hard to prepare for GDPR.

Epsilon has created teams of associates from cross-functional business lines to manage our GDPR preparation. These team members include technologists, engineers, security professionals and the legal team. These teams are working together to review our services and technology platforms to help safeguard both Epsilon and its clients.

Epsilon also urges its clients, partners, and vendors to review and understand their responsibilities under GDPR, as compliance is a collective responsibility. This includes changes around obtaining data subjects’ consent and enhanced data subject access rights.

MTS: How Does Conversant enable brands to leverage Data personalization to drive their marketing campaigns?
Conversant leverages an unprecedented amount of consumer data, supplemented by machine learning, to reach the right consumer on the right device and at the right time, and deliver personalized digital marketing. This requires a focus on four key areas in order to be successful: recognition and reach, individualized profiles, decisioning and delivery, and measurement and insights.

Conversant helps clients recognize and reach consumers across their multiple devices with 96% cross-device matching accuracy, compared to an industry average of 50%.

Conversant’s understanding of consumers is informed by the over 86 billion online cross-device interactions that Conversant observes every day, which are used to build comprehensive individual profiles for every consumer across more than 7,000 dimensions – including web browsing, app usage, video plays, email activity, cross-screen engagement, life events, hobbies, ad interactions and product interests. These profiles are continuously enriched with every customer-brand interaction.

Every day Conversant makes over a trillion real-time decisions about billions of interactions. Each decision is tailored to each person, and it’s made in just milliseconds across 1.1 million websites and on 173,000 mobile apps. This allows clients to speak to their customers in the optimal way at the right moment.

Conversant uses closed-loop measurement – the ability to connect every interaction with a customer to online and offline sales – to help clients understand how their programs are performing and their incremental return on investment across all channels. This ultimately allows them to see how digital advertising is impacting their bottom line.

Personalization is a holistic effort and generates the highest performance and greatest benefit to brands when these four areas are working together in concert.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Startups focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are getting a lot of attention right now particularly, as it relates to marketing and AI’s ability to impact the customer experience. The most successful startups will be the ones that can help push an industry on the precipice of transformation forward, like financial services and insurance, by solving a real business challenge leveraging machine learning and AI.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Epsilon is acutely focused on delivering the tools that support our clients marketing needs. We have a full stack of products that manage, identity, loyalty, digital media and email on behalf of clients.  We spend the majority of our time integrating these solutions into our client’s infrastructure that may include other heterogeneous components from partners like Adobe and Oracle. There is a lot of promise that comes with marketing technology but if you don’t have integrated systems that are implemented appropriately and can communicate in real-time to activate insights you will never realize the full potential of your marketing technology investments.

MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Campaigns that are moving the needle today require bringing together people, processes and technology – including AI and machine learning – to deliver personalized experiences in real-time.

For example, working with a leading hotel chain we advised them on transforming their people, processes and technology to improve the customer experience and helped them implement a solution leveraging data, content and technology to create customer-centric, omnichannel experiences. This started with measured steps to remove silos that previously left multiple business units reaching the same traveler with little knowledge of what’s relevant, based on the individual’s travel stage. Now the brand has optimized cross-channel interactions through a centralized view of guests, a connected marketing technology ecosystem and organizational alignment. As a result, they can deliver personalized messaging across devices at scale for more than 120 global destinations and over 4,400 properties.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been a critical component of marketing technology solutions for some time. But, with the proliferation of AI in consumer devices, like Amazon’s Alexa, the topic is now making headlines.

From our lens, AI provides us the ability to determine customer audiences based on previous and current interactions – in milliseconds – that previously would have taken weeks or months to understand. Not only does AI help with predictions on the potential value of a customer and the right offer to present them but it can help with marketing investment decisions and real-time services to the customer, like offering the ability to make purchase via chatbots.

Leading brands today are focused more than ever on one thing: customer-centricity. So business leaders preparing for an AI-centric world need to focus on the impact AI will have on improving the overall customer experience and how it better enables consumers to interact with brands and make purchase decisions.

This Is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Collaborative. The environment today demands it given how complex the marketing technology landscape is.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I read on my Kindle iPhone app every day; and rely on Google Maps when I am on the road.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I use email to manage my workload rather than let it bog me down.  I delete every message that I can and mark the critical messages, or things I need to follow-up on, as unread. At the end of every day, my unread messages are below twenty. If I have more than twenty follow-ups, I’ve left too much on the table.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m a big fan of Tom Clancy when I’m looking for a distraction from my day job.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I received the best advice early in my career to nurture my network and it’s still a priority for me.  You have to actively maintain and grow your network – today that means engaging on LinkedIn and even Facebook to build personal and professional connections. It requires a lot of work and effort but it is something I set time aside for every week.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I bring solutions to the table very quickly.  Since I spend most of my time understanding and solving cross-functional challenges, it goes back to the importance of collaboration in today’s environment.  The pace of change that we’re all operating under requires teams to come to the right solution quickly and then collaborate, and hold each other accountable, to deliver solutions effectively and efficiently.

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

Experienced senior operating executive (products, service, sales, marketing) with specific, deep expertise in topics and categories such as enterprise software, SaaS, database marketing, interactive marketing, analytics, big data, marketing service and systems integration. Comfortable tackling complex solutions, major business and process transformations, large client relationships and significant market opportunities. Known for clarity of communication, transparency, getting things done, delivering.

Epsilon is an all-encompassing global marketing innovator. We provide unrivaled data intelligence and customer insights, world-class technology including loyalty, email and CRM platforms and data-driven creative, activation and execution. Epsilon’s digital media arm, Conversant, is a leader in personalized digital advertising and insights through its proprietary technology and trove of consumer marketing data, delivering digital marketing with unprecedented scale, accuracy and reach through personalized media programs and through CJ Affiliate, one of the world’s largest affiliate marketing networks. Together, we bring personalized marketing to consumers across offline and online channels, at moments of interest, that help drive business growth for brands.

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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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