MarTech Interview with Anu Shukla, Co-founder & Executive Chairwoman at Botco.ai

Anu Shukla, Co-founder & Executive Chairwoman at conversational marketing platform Botco.ai joins us to talk about Botco.ai’s journey since its launch:

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Welcome to this martech chat Anu, tell us more about Botco.ai. We’d also love to hear a bit about your other ventures!

Botco.ai is a conversational marketing platform powered by AI and NLP. The vision behind Botco.ai was to create a layer of personalization, on-demand information and interactivity to enhance the consumer journey vs. a static website or one-way communication via emails or text. In practice, we are finding that it has far greater benefits for our clients than we anticipated! These include insights from analyzing customer conversations, call deflection, and shortening conversion time from months to minutes.

I am also an active angel investor as well as a venture partner with elevate.vc, where our mission is to serve under-represented Black, LatinX and Women entrepreneurs. I am very interested in the FinTech space because of my experience with RewardsPay — a consumer payment service I founded that enables consumers to use credit card rewards points, cash rewards, hotel points or frequent flier airline miles to safely and securely pay for goods and services at merchant websites — so I am always dabbling in the next innovation in this segment.

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How are you seeing marketing automation platforms change the game for marketers today and what are some top features and trends that you see shaping up the future of these technologies?

If I look back two decades ago to when we launched one of the first marketing automation platforms, Rubric, today I see a lot of changes needed to keep up with the on-demand, instant and always-on world we have currently. However, other than some web, social and video additions, the marketing automation stack remains essentially the same as it was back then, and reliant on email drip marketing. 

Some of the trends I see are that response rates on email have been steadily declining, websites can be a lot of pages and information is hard to find, consumers expect a seamless journey across multiple touch points, and their communication preferences have switched increasingly to mobile, chat and text. 

Most B2B social pages are just corporate brochures with no interactivity or responsiveness. These are the trends that led us to create Botco.ai, with the goal of superior customer engagement in the channels where they are, for better outcomes.

We’d love to hear more about your thoughts on martech and the consolidation in this space, how do you feel this will impact the future for smaller players?

Martech is a vibrant and active space, and it is still growing faster than sales or customer support. New technologies like AI, ML and NLP are enabling additional advancements in martech. There has been consolidation in the past when martech companies were acquired by CRM suites and system solutions, and I see that continuing in the future. 

There are too many independent solutions in the market, so there is bound to be consolidation among emerging players and acquisitions from larger companies looking to fill a gap in their offerings or for avenues to leapfrog into new verticals.

What are some best practices that you feel users of marketing automation technologies need to be keeping in mind when driving marketing processes with this as part of their martech stack?

There are many solutions in the market, so it is important to pick a stack that is suitable for your goals. A best practice that has worked for me is to always be A/B testing alternatives to improve outcomes. Making data-driven decisions are critical. Moreover, analyzing the voice of the customer on a continuous basis is important and can lead to surprising results. 

For example, one of our customers was observing their chat transcripts and picked up on the need for a new product based on conversations where customers asked about it. They launched a successful product line around that need. Another customer using contextual tracking noticed that certain keywords they purchased drove traffic that had a different set of inquiries than the key words they were buying. 

A few predictions that you have for the future of martech?

I believe that martech will be driven by data, that rich vertical solutions will dominate vs. generic horizontal solutions, and that we’ll see consolidation in the market, plus lots of AI layered into the stack for smarter decisions and better customer experiences and engagement. Voice and visual advancements will also enable a whole new set of martech apps.

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs in 2021: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year, innovate and expand their teams?

Coming out of the pandemic, enterprises have learned and have had to accelerate the adoption of digital/virtual technologies. Post-pandemic, I don’t think these needs are going away, and companies must continue to build on the virtual engagement solutions they started to build and absorb. This hybrid model has huge potential, and CMOs should continue down this path. Customers will expect a seamless journey across multiple touchpoints and expect instant answers and information on demand. Companies should strive to provide this better customer experience.

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Botco.ai Logo

Botco.ai is a HIPPA-compliant, AI-powered marketing chat solution that can be implemented at scale to improve engagement rates. Today, the company offers industry-leading authoring, webchat, and AI machine-learning capabilities to quickly and effectively convert more customers. Botco.ai’s Integrated Analytics Dashboard provides a comprehensive view of chat campaigns across multiple channels such as web and Facebook Messenger. The API-based interface can be used to transfer leads, transcripts, and data into enterprise sales and marketing automation products like Salesforce, Hubspot, Adobe Marketing Cloud, and Zoho. Botco.ai is the recipient of the Arizona Innovation Challenge “Most Outstanding Startup” award and a graduate of Alchemist Accelerator Class XXV, the #1 accelerator for enterprise startups. 

Anu Shukla is a serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years of high-tech industry experience. She is an active angel investor personally supporting and investing in women and minority led enterprises. She is a venture partner with elevate.vc to continue the mission to serve under-represented minority founders.

Anu has founded and exited several software companies: Fintech loyalty currency company RewardsPay, Mobile adtech and monetization player Tapjoy, e-commerce personalization company MyBuys, and early marketing automation pioneer Rubric, Inc. She has successfully exited two startups with $600M enterprise value.

Anu is the Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Botco.ai, an emerging player in the application of AI/NLP to enterprise marketing automation use cases. She serves on several non-profit boards and has experience in SaaS, Adtech and Martech product companies. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Stephens College, and an MBA and Doctorate (Honorary) in Business Administration and Management from Youngstown State University.

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