MarTech Interview with Van Diamandakis, CMO, Persado

Van Diamandakis, CMO, Persado

“The way to build customer loyalty is by delivering value, whether in the form of exclusive deal, a personalized playlist or an easier way to make a transaction.”

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

 As CMO of Persado, I am responsible for developing the company’s marketing vision and strategy, along with our branding and positioning. I’ve worked in the industry for more than two decades, and have led B2B tech brands such as Sage, Oracle, WebEx and Riverbed through global marketing transformations.

I’ve long believed in the power of technology — and specifically, Artificial Intelligence — to dramatically enhance marketing creative. Marketers already use technology to deploy and improve everything from ad buying to audience targeting, but many still rely on intuition and subjective opinions when crafting marketing messages. What impressed me about Persado is that they saw the opportunity to generate data-driven creative years ago and have built an industry-leading solution that is used by CMOs at the world’s leading brands. AI and Machine Learning are now sophisticated enough to empower marketers to take the guesswork out of creative, and we believe that we’re just at the beginning of this revolution.

What is Persado and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s Advertising Technology stack?

Persado is reinventing marketing creative by applying mathematical certainty to words, the foundational DNA of marketing. The Persado Message Machine uses sophisticated AI, data science, Computational Linguistics and Machine Learning to generate the perfect message for every campaign by leveraging the world’s most advanced marketing language knowledge base of more than one million tagged and scored words and phrases. Marketers gain quantifiable results and data-driven insights, which provides them with the visibility they need to identify trends and make strategic decisions. Persado’s platform seamlessly integrates with many of the marketing technologies that brands already rely on. We offer APIs and integrations for Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and more to automate campaign setup and analysis while delivering significant marketing ROI.

Tell us about your previous roles at Oracle, Sage and WebEx and how it prepared you for the current gig at Persado.

Throughout my career, I’ve successfully led marketing functions at B2B tech companies of all stages, from start-up through acquisition and IPO. For example, at Sage, I launched the company’s first global brand strategy that united the business across 23 countries and drove differentiation in the market.

Persado is poised for dramatic growth in 2019 and beyond. All of the company’s efforts to date have been preparing it for the current state of marketing, where CMOs and brands are not only more comfortable with AI and Machine Learning, but are realizing that such technologies are necessary in order to stand out in a crowded field and increase revenue. Persado anticipated the need for data-driven marketing creative years ago, which means we’re in a unique position to capitalize on marketers’ desire for AI tools today. I couldn’t be more excited to share Persado’s story with the world and help brands unlock the power of AI for marketing creative.

According to you, which businesses are fastest to adopt AI-powered Content Automation Technology platforms?

At Persado, we work with companies across a number of industries to help them optimize their marketing creative through Artificial Intelligence. From our vantage point, businesses in retail and e-commerce, financial services, travel and telecom have been the earliest to adopt our solution, and they’ve experienced dramatic new levels of brand engagement and revenue performance since doing so.

How does it deliver on personalized Customer Experience?

Generating the perfect message at scale is critically important for marketers. Persado enables CMOs to unlock the power of the perfect message through sophisticated AI and Machine Learning that analyzes millions of language variations — providing what would be an otherwise impossible level of experimentation. This means that marketers have quantifiable results around how their creative is performing, enabling them to identify the trends and emotional language that resonate with their audience and drive up to 30 times ROI across all of digital marketing.

Is it hard to instill faith, transparency and loyalty among online customer? What lessons have you learned in overcoming these challenges?

Consumers are fatigued by the “old” approach to digital marketing, where they are retargeted endlessly after they’ve already made a purchase or completed a life event. I can’t tell you how many times I still see hotel or flight ads for a given city after I’ve decided to travel somewhere else. Consumers have learned to ignore them, but marketers can — and must — do better.

The way to build customer loyalty is by delivering value, whether in the form of an exclusive deal, a personalized playlist or an easier way to make a transaction. But the way in which these are communicated matters just as much as the offering itself, and we’ve seen firsthand that language can dramatically impact consumer behavior. For example, our recent whitepaper analyzed findings from more than 300 million message permutations across 2.4 billion impressions; we found the top performing descriptions in the retail and e-commerce industry were “get it for less,” “while supplies last,” and “get a great discount.” When marketers have visibility into the exact language and phrases that are most likely to inspire action, they can use that to their advantage and forge a stronger relationship with their customers.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use in your current roles?

 I use a variety of tools, including Persado (of course!), Salesforce, Pardot, Qlik, WordPress, Google Analytics, Drift, Datahug, Demandbase and LinkedIn.

What technical challenges have you faced or heard about in the adoption and deployment of various Marketing Technology solutions?

While CMOs may embrace new solutions, their team members — the people who will be most involved with the technology on a daily basis — may balk at the idea. This is especially true when it comes to AI, as a fear of the unknown, coupled with growing concerns that a computer will replace human jobs, might result in serious push back from employees. Marketing leaders should be prepared for this response and guide their teams to adopt AI by coordinating in-depth onboarding sessions to demystify how the software works; empowering them to own the technology and use it to make key decisions; and telling company leaders about their great work.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Content Technology on CRM businesses for 2019-2020?

In 2019, brands will use AI to optimize the language used in their marketing campaigns so they can generate the right message for the right audience. Personalization will continue to play a critical role in communication between brands and consumers, and marketers will seek out new ways to add value to those relationships. Marketers are already leaning heavily on AI and Machine Learning tools that enhance their communication at scale, and that trend will continue well into the years ahead.

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

 My main focus today is Persado, but I’m always keeping an eye on startups that are using AI to deliver real value to customers.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

First and most importantly, executives need to educate their teams around what AI is — and isn’t. There’s an overblown narrative that AI will take away our jobs and that everything will be automated. But for marketing specifically, there will always be a need for human creativity and oversight. The AI will do what we tell it to do, not the other way around. That’s why it’s more important than ever to develop a team that thinks critically and creatively, and to teach people how to analyze data and use that information to make good business decisions.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Leaders must be hands-on when it comes to technology. I can’t stress enough how important it is to demonstrate how to use new solutions — especially those that involve AI and data science — in order to set your team members up for success. Many people have a fear of the unknown or a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to learning something new, so it’s vital to lead by example and adopt the tools that you’re asking them to use.

 One word that best describes how you work.

 Servant leadership.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

 Persado and Qlik.

 What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

 Using AI to automate mundane tasks and improve the customer experience.

 What are you currently reading?

 I read everything related to business and tech. I mostly read books, but I keep up with the industry and current trends via my phone.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

 Someone once told me to help others for fun (and for free), and to expect nothing in return. I still live by that.

 Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

 I hire people smarter than me, and then I get out of their way.

 Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

 Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and Dan Springer, CEO of DocuSign.

Thank you, Van! Hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Chief Marketing Officer at Persado, Van Diamandakis has a proven track record and over 25 years of experience in leading global marketing transformations and scaling technology companies from startup to enterprise, including Oracle, WebEx, Riverbed and Sage, to meaningful financial outcomes, including 3 IPOs and 2 acquisitions.

persado logoPersado is reinventing digital marketing creative by applying mathematical certainty to the words we use in marketing communications. In an era where marketing budgets have hit the wall and digital marketing creative is underperforming, Persado is empowering companies to break out of this “confidence crisis” by shifting digital creative from subjective “guesswork” to science.

The Persado Message Generation Machine keeps companies from falling behind by using mathematical certainty to inform their brands and instill confidence they are making every word count, across each customer journey, and every channel.

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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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