MarTech Interview with Doug Kofoid, CEO, DialogTech

MarTech Interview with Doug Kofoid, CEO at DialogTech
MarTech Interview with Doug Kofoid, CEO at DialogTech

“Call Analytics enable marketers to understand how their channels, campaigns, keywords, and website drive calls that convert to customers.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to start at DialogTech?

I have always been interested in how technology can disrupt mature industries, and that interest intensified while I was in business school during the dot com boom. Technology at the time was a disruptor and brought a different focus – on the data-based decision; the objectivity was something I was drawn to. This passion came to fruition in 2004, when I was a consultant for Performics and helped start their search marketing business. At the time there were no platforms to help advertisers bid optimally in a scalable manner across millions of keywords. So, I developed DART Search – the algorithm known today as Google Ad Manager – and sold it to Performics, who brought me on board to build out the business around it. That business was eventually sold to DoubleClick, which Google later bought, and the rest was history.

Since then, I have been deeply involved in orchestrating optimal consumer experiences through data, analytics, and automation. It is what inspired me to work at DialogTech. DialogTech provides AI-powered call analytics and attribution for search, social, programmatic, and other marketing channels. I first heard about it during a conversation with a DialogTech board member, and my initial reaction was disbelief. I think I said something about how ‘phone calls are dead — marketers don’t care about calls!’ But he showed me the data that opened my eyes. Thanks to smartphones, search and digital advertising drive over 160 billion calls a year to businesses. And when you get a consumer to call you, they convert to revenue 10-15 times more than the next best digital tactic. I then saw that having analytics on calls will be crucial for marketers to compete and win in search and digital.

What is DialogTech and how does it make Call Analytics more powerful?

Over a decade ago, DialogTech pioneered what most marketers know today as ‘Call Tracking‘ or ‘Call Attribution‘. It is Marketing Technology, that attributes each phone call to the marketing interaction that drove it. So, when a consumer calls your call center or business location, DialogTech captures the originating channel, ad, search keyword, and webpage, as well as data on who the caller is, their location, the day and time of the call, and more.

What helps set DialogTech apart is that our solution not only attributes calls but, it also records and transcribes them, and has AI and Machine Learning algorithms familiar with each customer’s business, analyze those conversations to uncover important data points around the intent, urgency, preferences, outcomes, and value of each caller. DialogTech then passes all those insights on callers as structured first-party data to digital ad platforms, CRM, bid management tools, and DMPs for businesses to leverage to drive better business results. It is truly end-to-end call analytics, powered by AI, built for enterprise marketers.

Why should Marketing and Sales teams leverage Call Analytics platforms? What are the benefits?

Call Analytics provides the literal ‘Voice of the Customer’ to the marketer in a packaged up, structured format. It is the only channel that is truly real-time where you get the facts about demographics, behavioral, and geographic information. Digital Media does a good job, but it is still triangulating data to arrive at best assumptions on the consumer. Call Analytics enables marketers to understand how their channels, campaigns, keywords, and website drive calls that convert to customers. So, they can prove the full impact of their marketing on business results and allocate budget to what drives the most customers and revenue. Without call data, the full attribution path is incomplete and marketers are only curating experiences based on partial information.

DialogTech also takes it a step further by providing Marketing Insights on what drove each call and what was said during each conversation. That is a very granular data that marketers can use to deliver more personalized 1-to-1 experiences. For example, you can put a caller who did not convert into the best audience segments for more effective search and display retargeting. Equally important to a marketer is understanding when to suppress ads from audiences who will likely not convert. Or you can personalize the content of your website homepage based on the product a caller expressed interest in during a previous call. Personalized experiences are what convert consumers into loyal customers, and call data plays a big role in enabling marketers to do that optimally.

You asked about the sales team, and Call Analytics platforms like DialogTech are also used to help sales organizations improve operational efficiencies and drive revenue growth. First, Call Analytics platforms can use the information on callers and why they are calling, to determine if they are a sales or support call and dynamically route the sales calls to the best sales agent to convert them to a customer. Call Analytics platforms can also identify the calls that were good sales leads but did not convert and compare those conversations to calls that did, to help sales managers understand what on-call strategies to use, to close more business.

How do you focus on bringing AI and Data Analytics together at DialogTech? What are the core technologies driving your product?

The DialogTech Call Analytics platform has four main products. Our core AI product is called DialogAnalytics™, a conversation analytics tool that uses AI and Machine Learning to uncover the actionable insights at scale from conversations. So for each call, DialogAnalytics’, AI automatically determines if it is a sales or support call, what products or services the caller is interested in and if there was any contextual relevance in the advertising they saw, if the caller converted, how the sales agent or location performed, and more. We expose these insights to the marketers within DialogTech through a wealth of reports and dashboards, as well as via email alerts that notify our customers of issues on calls, such as when good leads call a location but don’t convert, so they can take immediate action.

Those AI-driven conversation insights from DialogAnalytics are tied to the marketing source driving the call, which is captured by our SourceIQ™ call attribution product. All that data is then passed to the marketing platforms and tools that our customers use, from Google Ads to Adobe Experience Cloud to Salesforce, via our IntegrationStudio™ product for better outcomes. And finally, when consumers call, our ExperienceHub™ product uses data from the other three products to dynamically route each call to the best agent or location to handle them based on who the caller is and why they are calling. ExperienceHub™ is a seamless and self-serve and, can be controlled in real-time, ensuring the consumer has the most relevant caller experience. It is pretty amazing. Five years ago, I would never have imagined that the marketers could have this much control and visibility into the call, but now it has become integral to the success of many brands.

Which set of industries is the fastest to adopt Call Analytics for their Digital Transformation?

Calls are an important part of the customer journey for industries with complex, expensive, infrequent, or urgent purchases. Consumers looking for those products or services want to call and speak to a real person before finalizing a purchasing decision or booking an appointment. So, those industries have been the fastest to adopt DialogTech and call analytics – industries like automotive, financial services, healthcare, insurance, home services, travel, and technology.

What’s interesting is that we are now seeing many of the big brands in retail and e-commerce express interest in Call Analytics. It may seem counter-intuitive, but online shoppers do often need to call and speak to a person before making an online purchase, especially if that product is expensive. And the retail marketers need analytics on those calls to measure and optimize their impact on sales.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology for 2019-2020?

Everything that is happening around voice – with voice search, voice assistants, and conversational AI – is exciting. Voice as a platform is disrupting and transforming how people find and interact with brands. Historically looking across verticals, not many marketers engaged broadly with the voice as a channel. However, with the habitual changes that voice assistants and smartphones bring, more and more consumers want to talk to a business. So, now businesses who never had a way to directly engage with their consumers (like CPG and pharma) – along with the expected businesses in healthcare, travel, banking, and retail – have access to a more complete consumer journey. Marketers will need deep analytics on voice interactions to ensure that they are providing the best contextual experiences to win and retain the customers.

I’m excited about the work DialogTech is doing around applying AI to uncover intent, interest, disposition, and sentiment from conversations at scale and tying that to the source of the call. This is game-changing data that can be used to deliver more personalized experiences both online and via voice.

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

I do like what I’m seeing from Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). I spent the last 15 years of my career obsessed with how businesses can apply data to improve results. But when I started, everything was about third-party data. Now with CDPs and other technologies, we are seeing a shift to first-party data and leveraging what we know about our own customers to drive better business outcomes.

The potential of leveraging first-party data is something that also drew me to DialogTech. Is there a richer source of first-party data than what a consumer actually says when they call you? What data gives you a more accurate picture of their intent, urgency, or sentiment than their own words?

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

We live and breathe AI every day at DialogTech. It is everything to our business -helping customers use AI to go deep into their consumer conversations, to uncover insights that marketers could only dream of three years ago.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I don’t need to inspire our people to work with technology – they inspire me. We hire people that are passionate about technology and data. So, working with technology is something we do it intrinsically – it is in our DNA. We use it every day to work smarter and collaborate more efficiently. For DialogTech, that starts with using our technology to attribute, analyze, and manage calls, and integrate that data with all the marketing and sales tools our business uses. But, technology helps facilitate all our business processes, from analyzing customer data to interacting with co-workers in other offices and countries.

One word that best describes how you work.

Collaboration. I’m a big proponent of hiring smart people and then working with them to develop repeatable processes that drive growth.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Heroes don’t scale. Your greatest individual will never outperform a solid team with the right processes supporting them.

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

Doug Kofoid is responsible for overall business strategy and corporate leadership as the CEO of DialogTech. He comes to DialogTech with over 25 years of experience and nearly 20 years in digital marketing.

Doug joined DialogTech after a successful run as an early member, builder, and President of VivaKi, Publicis’s data, technology, and innovation hub for all of its agencies. Doug helped build the 500-person organization that drove over $200 million in revenue across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC, while also building out the Publicis Groupe’s offshore operations in New Delhi, India.

With a strong passion for finding market inefficiencies and fixing them, Doug wrote the algorithm that was developed into DART Search – the first SEM platform and one of the first real-time bidding tools – in 2004 while at Performics. Performics and the DART Search technology were sold to DoubleClick, which ultimately was sold to Google, where Doug also held a position as Director of Search. Earlier in his career, he held positions at Ford, CVS Caremark, and FastWeb (acquired by TMP/Monster.com).

Doug earned his MBA in Finance, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago and his B.S. in Marketing from Indiana University.

dialogtech logoDialogTech’s proprietary technology provides marketers with transparency into the voice of their consumers through AI-driven conversation insights. DialogTech’s analytics suite helps marketers identify key behaviors that lead to conversion events, deliver deeply personalized consumer experiences, and improve effectiveness across channels by linking every consumer activity, from click to conversion to loyalty. Consistently recognized as the leader and pioneer in call analytics, DialogTech is the trusted voice management platform for leading brands and agencies.

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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