MarTech Interview with Rashmi Vittal, Chief Marketing Officer at Conversica
Hi Rashmi, please tell us about your journey into marketing and how you started at Conversica.
I’ve been in enterprise software for over 25 years. During that time, I’ve brought to market different AI-powered solutions from content and predictive analytics solutions to now Intelligent Virtual Assistants.
What unique lessons in marketing and sales did you evaluate during the COVID-19 crisis? How did your experience in working with marketing technologies help ease the pressure off your team and company?
In the business world, organizations experienced an economic rollercoaster of highs and lows – How quickly an organization could adjust determined its ability to survive and, ultimately, thrive, in the new normal.
Wherever organizations were on their digital transformation journey when this pandemic hit is what they relied upon to help them survive the immediate impact. Now, every organization is evaluating new strategies and digital transformation initiatives to accelerate their business forward – taking what they learned this year and applying to the new normal into 2021.
Intelligent Automation solutions have played and will continue to play a key role in how companies across every industry navigate the recovery from COVID-19; especially when applied to front-office departments. In particular, Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are augmenting revenue-generating teams across sales, marketing, customer success and finance to immediately increase workforce productivity cost-effectively and re-engage every opportunity to increase pipeline, retain customers and accelerate revenue growth across the customer lifecycle.
COVID-19 has not only significantly impacted an organization’s ability to acquire new customers but also, more importantly, its ability to retain and grow existing customers. Now, with organizations planning for recovery along with economic volatility, companies can’t rely on human capital alone to drive productivity and performance. Intelligent Automation solutions, such as Intelligent Virtual Assistants, have the ability to quickly augment workforces to scale accordingly. For any company, irrespective of their industry or market segment, the new normal must embrace these types of innovative solutions in order to survive and then thrive.
Tell us more about your latest Website Chat product and the ICPs you are targeting in the industry?
Adding website chat as a supported channel, Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) can seamlessly connect and engage across website chat, email and SMS with prospects and customers to accelerate revenue in a cost-effective manner across the entire customer lifecycle. And for you, this means that like email and SMS configuration, you don’t have to write a single chat conversation or build a workflow from scratch. Conversica Intelligent Virtual Assistants come equipped with pre-built conversations for chat and workflows which can be configured and deployed within minutes.
It should come as no surprise that today’s prospects and customers expect communication on their terms. This includes prompt and personalized conversations across multiple channels—including website chat, email, and text messaging—as prospects investigate your offerings and request product demos, or customers require answers to their questions or product support.
Marketing, Sales and Customer Success teams benefit greatly from website chat powered by an Intelligent Virtual Assistant. Website chat helps elevate interested prospects and customers on your site by alerting your representatives when the visitor expresses interest in setting a meeting with a Salesperson or Customer Success Manager. Website chat is another way Intelligent Virtual Assistants help engage buyers where they are while motivating visitors to take the next best action in their customer journey. In this way, helping really is the new selling.
Please tell us more about recent advancements in the AI-based Customer relationship management offerings for financial services, healthcare, and B2B marketers?
Artificial intelligence has already existed in the workplace for quite some time. Organizations regularly leverage AI-powered CRMs, predictive analytics, cybersecurity solutions and even spam filters. Many of these AI technologies are so common that they are nearly invisible as we go about our work week.
Digital transformation is happening at a rapid pace as a result of the pandemic, and businesses that fail to keep up with this acceleration and adapt will ultimately fall behind. To truly embrace and prepare for an AI-centric world, marketers in financial services, manufacturing, and other B2B industries must be prepared to take automation to the next level of intelligence and augment their workforces. By using an Augmented Workforce, business professionals and Intelligent Automation technologies work together on tasks to get the job done. By embracing Augmented Workforces, you’re ensuring that your investments in Marketing and Selling to a customer are maximized by retaining and growing that customer with a personalized, end-to-end customer experience.
How do you evaluate the benefits provided to your customers?
Which factors/industry trends inspired your marketing and product development team to offer these new advanced capabilities?
Businesses ranging in sizes and industries are looking toward AI, intelligent automation, and specifically Intelligent Virtual Assistants to optimize key functions. One traditional aspect of business that’s getting a technological boost is sales – rather than leaving it up to your workforce to reach out and follow up with interested prospects, an Augmented Workforce in which IVAs and people work in tandem is automating this crucial, yet repetitive task. An Augmented Workforce powered by Intelligent Virtual Assistants ensures an end-to-end customer experience that always drives to the next best action and ensures that users’ investments in marketing and selling to a customer are maximized by retaining and growing that customer.
How easy or difficult is it to actually create a marketing campaign for a Marketing and sales technology services and AI-driven company to stay relevant even during the crisis?
Marketing and Sales professionals are looking for advice and guidance to navigate this new normal. They understand that they have to continue to invest in their digital transformation to compete and also because their buyers are engaging and conducting business digitally now more than ever and this will only continue to evolve. So when you can offer a compelling solution that helps them drive more revenue while saving costs in this digitally-enabled world, inherently you become relevant
Tell us more about your recent digital marketing efforts and how you measured its ROI and effectiveness.
We see approximately a 4X ROI on our marketing efforts translating into pipeline dollars and roughly 65% of our deals are influenced by marketing. We have become much better at targeting against our ICP with compelling messaging, as well as using our IVAs effectively to surface hot leads on our inbound leads. Over time we have gone from having 3 inbound SDRs to using one inbound SDR part-time and 1 Intelligent Virtual Assistant with higher level productivity and performance.
What does your remote workplace collaboration technology suite look like?
We are a nimble AI start-up.
Besides the usual suspects for internal workplace collaboration (Zoom, Google Drive, and Slack), we have been running peer-led workshops for our prospects and customers to great success.
What are your predictions for the future of online marketing and sales for 2021?
Unfortunately, I expect that we haven’t seen the last of the pandemic’s impacts. In fact, we’ll be in the thick of it for a long time. At a certain point, businesses will start to realize the signals they’ve lost from in-person events and interactions; smart marketers will have to figure out how to pick up those signals again. I have a feeling that those signals won’t be through virtual events and webinars – those options have been exhausted in 2020. Soon enough, marketers will look to innovate on digital engagement from more interactive, workshop driven meetings to technology like AI and automation to continue to facilitate personal interactions online.
One thing is for certain, we’re redefining what normal means moving forward… Now is the time to be digital and accelerate business digital transformation initiatives.
A piece of advice for all young Marketing professionals in the industry:
The details are in the data you are gathering now not the data you relied on prior to the pandemic – it will indicate where your efforts are most needed and most valued.
Be creative and innovative. People are open to trying new ways to learn and engage with your brand digitally.
Have a pulse on the industry and stay up to date with emerging technologies in the market. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to adopt digital technologies and accelerate digital transformation initiatives before they’re a “must.”
Thank you, Rashmi! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Rashmi brings to Conversica extensive experience in building marketing strategies and teams for both start-ups and large enterprises.
Prior to joining Conversica, Rashmi led marketing for SAP Customer Data Cloud after the successful acquisition of Gigya, a customer identity management start-up, where she was responsible for the go-to-market strategy, product marketing, digital, content, communications, and field marketing strategy. Rashmi has held various marketing leadership positions at IBM, Oracle, and Neustar. Rashmi holds a Masters of Business Administration from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.
Conversica is a leading provider of Intelligent Virtual Assistants helping organizations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale. A Conversica Intelligent Virtual Assistant is an AI-powered, SaaS-based software application that serves as a virtual team member and autonomously engages contacts, prospects, customers or partners in human-like, two-way interactions at scale to drive towards the next best action accelerating revenue; whether that’s scheduling a sales meeting, gauging interest to buy additional products or services, or politely but persistently collecting overdue payments.